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letters are filled with Madame Corneuil, and your maternal anxiety is aroused. Am I not right? For shame! you are ungrateful toward Providence. You have a thousand times reproached your son for being too sober, too serious, too much given to study; scorning society, women, gayety, and business; cherishing no other dream but that of some day composing a large book which will reveal to the astonished universe the ancient secrets of four thousand years. You flattered yourself that you might see him either in the Chamber of Deputies, the Council of State, or in diplomacy: his refusal made you wretched. From his most tender infancy he cried to be taken to the Egyptian Museum at the Louvre, and could have told with his eyes closed what was in the Cabinet K, and the Case Q, in the room of sacred antiquities. It is no fault of mine. I did not make him. This truly extraordinary youth never loved any one but the goddess Isis,
wife of Osiris. He was never interested in any events but such as took place under Sesostris the Great. The most heated discussions of our
deputies and the most eloquent words they might utter always seemed tame to him in comparison with the story of the Pharaohs. He liked, better than all the amusements you might offer to him, a papyrus mounted on linen or pasteboard, a mummy's mask, a hawk, symbol of the soul, or a pretty scarabæus of gold, emblem of immortality. I speak knowingly, for he honored me with his confidence. The last time I saw him I shall long remember: I found him shut up with hieroglyphic writing arranged backward in columns, and ornamented with drawings of faces. He seemed much annoyed at being interrupted in this enchanting tête-à-tête. At the head of the manuscript was a man with a yellow face, hair painted blue, and his forehead ornamented with a lotusbud and a great white cone. I touched one of the columns and said to the dear child, 'Great decipherer, what can all this conundrum be?' He answered, without being offended: My dear uncle, this conundrum, which, by your leave, is very plain, is of the greatest importance, and signifies that the keeper of the flocks of Ammon, Amen-Heb, the ever-truthful, and his wife, who loves him, Amen-Apt, the ever-truthful, render homage to Osiris, dwelling in the land of the West, ruler of times and seasons, to Ptah-Sokari, ruler of the tomb, and to the great Tum, who made the heavens and created all the essences coming out of the earth.' I listened to him with so much interest that the next day he meant to confer a great favor upon me by sending me the entire history of Amen-Heb, written down. I read it once every year, on his birthday. Could any one accuse me of neglecting my duty as a great-uncle?
"Do not deny, my dear, that this mania made you desperate. Then why do you complain? Your son is nearly saved. Heaven has sent Madame de Corneuil to him. She will teach him a great many things of which he is ignorant, and lead him to unlearn a great deal else. In her beautiful eyes he will forget Amenophis III. of the eighteenth dynasty, Amen-Apt the ever-truthful, and the man with the great white cone. Do not grudge him his tardy enjoyment, to say nothing about charity toward a poor nurse of an invalid. Everything is going on well, my dear Mathilde. Write me that, on further reflection, you agree with me."
The next day but one, the Marquis de Miraval received the following short reply from his niece :
"MY DEAR UNCLE: Your letter and the in
formation you have been so kind as to gather for
me have only doubled my anxiety. Madame Corneuil is an intriguer. Why must Horace be caught in her toils? Since I lost my husband, you have been my only counselor and my first resort. Never did I need your assistance more. It is cruel to tear you away from your dear Paris, but I know your kind feelings in my behalf, your care for the interests of our family, and your almost fatherly love for my poor, silly Horace. I implore you to come to Vichy, that we may consult together. I summon you, and shall expect you."
Madame de Penneville was right in thinking it would be hard for her uncle to leave Paris; since he had left diplomacy, he could not endure any other spot. In the hottest months of summer, when every one goes away, he never dreamed of leaving. He preferred to the most beautiful pine-trees, the tiny-leaved elms, which he saw from the terrace of his club, where he spent the greater part of his days and even of his nights. Nevertheless, this egotist or philosopher always had at heart the interest of his nephew, whom he intended to make his heir; and, besides, he was very curious about it all, and did not conceal it. With a sigh he ordered his valet to pack his trunks, and that very evening left for Vichy.
MONSIEUR DE MIRAVALwas not mistaken in his surmises; things had gone on just about as he had imagined. The Count Horace de Penneville had made the acquaintance of a beautiful blonde at Cairo, and, for the first time, his heart was touched. They met at the" new hotel"; from the very first Madame Corneuil took pains to attract the attention and the thought of the young man. Monsieur Corneuil seemed to rally somewhat, and they profited by his improvement to visit together the museum at Boulak, the subterranean ruins of Serapeum, the pyramids of Gizeh and of Sakkarah. Horace took upon himself the office of cicerone in good earnest, and made it both his business and pleasure to explain Egypt to Madame Corneuil, and Madame Corneuil listened to all his explanations with great seriousness and interested attention, occasionally mingled with a mild ecstasy. She seemed rapt and intent, a dull flame glowed in the depths of her eyes; she possessed in perfection the art of listening with her eyes. She found no difficulty in admitting that Moses lived in the reign of Rameses II.; she seemed delighted to learn that the second dynasty lasted three hundred years; that Menes was a native of Thinis; and that the great pyramid was built gradually by Ka-kau, the Kaiechôs of Manetho, by whom was founded the worship of the ox Apis, the living manifestation of the god Ptah. She felt all the enthusiasm of a novice, initiated in the sacred mysteries of Egyptian chronology, declared that it was the most delightful of all sciences and the most charming of pastimes, and vowed that she would learn to read hieroglyphics.
The dénoûment took place during a visit to the tomb of Ti, by the reddish glare of torches. They were examining in a sort of ecstasy the pictures graven on the walls of each of the funereal chambers. One of them represented a hunter seated in a bark in the midst of a marsh, in which hippopotami and crocodiles were swimming. As they were bending over the crocodiles, Madame Corneuil, absorbed in her reverie, grew more than usually expansive. The young man was touched with a totally new sensation. She left the tomb first. On joining her without, he became dazzled, and suddenly discovered that she had the bearing of a queen, brown eyes shot with faun, the most wonderful hair in the world, that she was beautiful as a dream, and that he was wildly in love with her.
A few weeks later, Monsieur Corneuil gave up his soul to God, leaving his entire fortune to his wife, who, to speak the truth, had nursed him with heroic patience. The evening before her
embarkation with a leaden coffin for Périgueux, Horace begged the favor of a moment's interview at night under the starry skies of Egypt, in a delicious atmosphere, wherein flitted the great vague ghosts of the Pharaohs: he then confessed to her his passion, and strove to make her engage herself to him before the year was over. Then did he learn still further all the delicacy of her refined soul. She reproached him with downcast eyes for the eagerness of his love, and that she could not think of so mingling the rose and cypress and thoughts of love with long crape veils. But she would permit him to write to her, and promised to reply in six months. At parting she smiled upon him demurely but encouragingly. He then ascended the Nile again, reaching Upper Egypt, glad to pass his months of waiting in the solitude of Thebais, where the days are more than twenty-four hours in length; they could not be too long for him to decipher hieroglyphics while thinking of Madame Corneuil. Crocodiles will play a conspicuous part in this story: Horace was at Keri, or Crocodilopolis, when he received an exquisitely written and perfumed note, telling him that the adored being was passing the summer with her mother on the borders of Lake Leman, at an apartment-house a short distance from Lausanne, and that if the Count de Penneville should present himself, he need not knock twice for the door to open. He left like an arrow, and ran with one stretch of the bow to Lausanne. He had written a letter of twelve pages to Madame de Penneville, in which he told to her his good fortune with such effusion of tenderness and of joy as might well have made her despair.
Both uncle and niece spent all their evening in talking, deliberating, and discussing, as generally happens in like cases. The same things were repeated twenty times; it helps nothing, but is a great comfort. Monsieur de Miraval, who seldom took things tragically, set himself to console the Countess; but she was inconsolable.
'How, in good faith,” said she, “could you expect me to coolly contemplate the prospect of having for a daughter-in-law a girl sprung from no one knows where; the daughter of a man of ruined reputation, who married an insignificant man, and separated from him that she might have her own way in Paris; a woman whose name has been dragged through the 'Gazette des Tribunaux'; a woman who writes descriptions of mists, who composes sonnets, and who, I know, is none too scrupulous ?"
"I do not know about that," answered the Marquis, "but it has been said for a long time that the most dangerous creatures in the world are the women ‘à sonnets,' and the serpents 'à sonnettes.' I will wager, however, that this wo
man is a manœuvrer, and that it is a very disa- from Egypt, and you may be sure he will not greeable business."
come until you give your consent. A man loves and respects his mother in vain when he is really on fire, and Horace is that surely. Heavens! his letter proves it. So feverish is the prose that it almost burns the paper."
Madame de Penneville drew near the Marquis, tenderly stroking his white hair, and putting her arms about his neck:
'Horace, wretched Horace!" exclaimed the Countess, "what grief you cause me !-The dear fellow has a most noble and generous heart; unfortunately, he never had a bit of common sense; but how could I expect this?”
“Alas! you had every reason to expect just this," interrupted the Marquis. "One can not mistrust too much such precocious wisdom; it always ends in some calamity. I have told you a hundred times, my dear Mathilde, that your son gave me considerable uneasiness, and that some unfortunate surprise was preparing for us. We are all born with a certain amount of nonsense in us, which we must get rid of; happy are those who exhaust it in youth! Horace kept it all till he was twenty-eight years old, capital and interest, and this is the result of all his economy. Many little follies save from greater ones; when a man only commits one, it is almost always enormous, and generally irreparable."
Madame de Penneville passed to the Marquis a cup of tea, sweetened by her white hand, and said to him in most caressing tones:
'My dear uncle, you alone can save us." 'In what way?" asked he.
"O thou cunning one, it is far easier to negotiate with a government than to treat with a lover in the toils of a manœuvrer."
"You can never make me believe that anything is impossible to you."
"You have resolved to bring me into the game," said he to her. "Well, so be it; the enterprise deserves to be attempted. But, à propos, have you replied yet to the formidable letter which you have just read to me?"
I would do nothing without consulting you." "So much the better; nothing is compromised; the affair is as yet unmeddled with. I will let you know to-morrow if I decide to go to Lausanne."
"Horace has so much regard, so much respect for you. You have always had so much authority with him.”
The Countess thanked Monsieur de Miraval warmly. She thanked him still more warmly the
"Bah! we no longer live under the régime of next day when he announced to her that he would authority." do as she wished, and asked her to take him to the station. She accompanied him, for fear he might repent, and on the way said to him:
"This is a journey for all mothers to glory over; but, would you be kind enough to write me often from there?"
Oh, certainly," answered he, "but only upon one condition."
But, then, you have always allowed him to look upon himself as your heir; that gives you a certain right, it seems to me."
"Come! Young men who live in space, like your son, can easily give up an inheritance. What is an income of a hundred thousand francs compared with a pretty scarabæus, emblem of immortality?"
"My dear, dear uncle, I am persuaded that, if you would consent to go to Lausanne-" The Marquis jumped from his seat. Heavens!" said he, "Lausanne is very far." And he heaved a sigh, as his thoughts turned to the terrace at his club.
"You are so shrewd: you have so much tact. I have been told that very difficult missions were intrusted to you in the past, and that you acquitted yourself gloriously."
"He suspects as much, my dear, since he did not dare to come and greet you on his arrival
"What may that be?"
"That you do not believe one single word that I write to you."
What do you mean?"
"I also request of you," continued he, "that you answer me as if you really did believe me, and that you send my letters to Horace, begging him to keep them to himself."
I understand you less and less."
"What can that be which is beyond the comprehension of a woman? Open letters are the depths of diplomacy. After all, it is not necessary that you should understand; the essential thing is that you obey my instructions scrupulously. Good-by, my dear; I am going to where Heaven and your purrings have sent me. If I do not succeed, it will prove that our friends the Republicans were quite right in shelving me."
Having thus spoken, he kissed his niece, and stepped into the railway-carriage. He reached
Lausanne twenty-four hours later. thing which he did after engaging a room at the Hôtel Gibbon was to supply himself with a complete fishing-outfit. After that, tired with his journey, he slept six hours. After waking, he dined; after dining, he took a carriage for the apartment-house Vallaud, situated at twenty minutes' distance from Lausanne, upon the brow of one of the most beautiful hills in the world. This charming villa, since changed into an hotel, consisted of a country-house in which the Count de Penneville had an apartment, and a lovely detached chalet which was occupied by Madame Corneuil and her mother. The chalet and the house were separated, or, if it sounds better, united by a large park well shaded, which Horace crossed many times a day, saying to himself, "When shall we live under the same roof?" But one must learn how to wait for happiness.
At that very moment Horace was working, pen in hand, at his great "History of the Hyksos, or the Shepherd Kings, or of the Unclean" -that is to say, of those terrible Canaanitish hordes who, two thousand years before the Christian era, disturbed in their camps by the Elamite invasions of the Kings Chodornakhounta and Chodormabog, swept in their turn over the valley of the Nile, set it on fire, and drenched it in blood, and for more than five centuries occupied both the center and the north of Egypt. Full of learning, and rich in fresh documents collected by him with very great pains, he undertook to show on unquestionable testimony that the Pharaoh under whom Joseph became minister was indeed Apophis or Apepi, King of the Hyksos, and he flattered himself that he could prove it so strongly that henceforth it would be impossible for the most critical minds to contradict it. A few months previously he had sent from Cairo to Paris the first chapters of his history, which were read at the Institute. His thesis shocked one or two Egyptologists, others thought there was some good in it, while one of them wrote him thus: "Your début is promising. Macte amino, generose puer."
Wrapped in a sort of burnous of white woolen stuff, his neck bare, and his hair disordered, he was leaning over a round table, before a writing-desk surmounted by a sphinx. His face wore the expression of a contented heart and a perfectly serene conscience. On the table a beautiful purple rose, almost black, opened its petals; he had put it into a glass, into which a statuette of blue faïence, representing an Egyptian goddess with a cat's face, plunged her impertinent nose without bending into the water. Horace seemed by turns contemplating this very nose and also the flower which Madame Corneuil had gathered for him less than an hour before; at times also,
turning his eye toward the large open window, he saw that the moon, at its fullness, trailed along the shimmering waters of the lake a long row of silver spangles. But, by a fortunate condition of things, he was also wholly absorbed in his work; he was not in the least distracted from it; he belonged to the Hyksos. The moon, the rose, Madame Corneuil, the cat-headed divinity, the sphinx on the escritoire, the Unclean, and the King Apepi-were all blended together and become one to his inmost thoughts. The blessed in paradise see all in God, and can thus think of all things without losing for one moment their great idea, which is infinite. The Count Horace was at the same moment at Lausanne in the neighborhood of the woman whose image was never out of his mind, and in Egypt two thousand years before Christ, and his happiness was as complete as his application to his studies.
He had just finished this phrase: “Consider the sculptures of the period of the Shepherd kings; examine carefully and impartially their angular faces, with their prominent cheek-bones; and, if you are fair, you will agree that the race to which the Hyksos belong could not have been purely Semitic, but must have been strongly mixed with the Turanian element."
Satisfied with this ending, he stopped his work for a second, laid down his pen, and, drawing the purple rose nearer to him, pressed it to his lips. Hearing a knock at the door, he quickly returned the rose to its vase, and in a tone of vexation exclaimed, “Come in!" The door opened. Monsieur de Miraval entered. Horace's face grew dark; the unexpected apparition dismayed him; he felt as if he had been suddenly shut out of his paradise. Alas! the happiest life of all is nothing but an intermittent paradise!
The Marquis, immovable on the threshold, bowed soberly to his nephew, saying to him:
"Ah! indeed, do I disturb you? You never knew how to conceal your feelings."
"My dear uncle," answered he, "how can you think such a thing? I was not expecting you, that I must confess. But pray, how did you happen here?”
spect due to him, and according to the rules concerning the rights of men in his position."
Horace had recovered from his trouble; he had recourse to philosophy, and put a good face on a bad business. Offering a chair to the Marquis, he said:
Horace was miles away from guessing the secret thoughts of Monsieur de Miraval. After his disagreeable emotion of the first meeting was over, his natural feeling returned, which was that of pleasure at again seeing his uncle, for he loved him well. In truth, it was as an ambassador that he displeased him, but he resolved not to spare him, for, when the will is fixed, objections
are less apt to be dreaded, for one knows beforehand how they may all be answered. So he awaited the advance of the enemy with firm step, and, as the enemy was drinking champagne and evidently in no hurry to commence hostilities, he marched up to meet him.
"First, dear uncle," said he to him, "give me quickly whatever news you can of my mother." "I wish I had something good to tell you about her," answered the Marquis. But you know we are anxious about her health, and you must be aware that the letter which she received from you-"
"Be seated, my lord ambassador, in the very best of my easy-chairs. But, to begin with, let us embrace one another, my dear uncle. If I am not mistaken, it is full two years since we have had the pleasure of seeing one another. What can I offer to entertain you? I think I remember that champagne frappé used to be your favorite drink. Do not think you are in a barbarous country; one can find anything one wishes; you shall be satisfied at once."
At these words he pulled a bell-rope, and a domestic appeared. He gave him his orders, which were immediately carried out, although slowly. Nevertheless, Monsieur de Miraval looked at his nephew with a satisfaction mingled with_ness." secret vexation. It seemed to him that the hand- "If you think as I do, you will not write some fellow had grown still handsomer. again; one evil never undoes another. Your short beard was beautifully black; his features, mother assuredly wishes you to be happy, but formerly rather weak, had gained strength, firm- the extravagant' proposition which you confided ness, and emphasis; his grayish-blue eyes had to her-does the word 'extravagant' hurt you? grown larger, his complexion was sunburned and I withdraw it; I meant to say the somewhat sinbrowned to a tint which became him greatly; gular-well, I withdraw the word 'singular' also. his smile, full of sweetness and mystery, was But it is often used in that sense in the Chamber charming—it was like that undefinable smile of Deputies, and you must not hold yourself which the Egyptian sculptors, whose genius higher than a deputy. In short, this proposition, Greece could hardly surpass, carved upon the which is neither extravagant nor singular, disturbs lips of their statues. The sphinxes in the Louvre your mother greatly, and you will not be able to would have recognized Horace from his family overcome her objections to it." resemblance, and have claimed him as a relation. It is easy to get the complexion of the country where one is living, and a face grows often to resemble the thing one most loves.
"Has she authorized you to make them known to me?"
"Fool of fools!" thought the Marquis angrily; "you have the proudest bearing, the finest head in the world, and you do not know how to put them to a better use. Ah! if at your age I had had such eyes and such a smile, what would I not have done with them! No woman could have resisted me; but you-what can you say for yourself when Providence calls you to account for all the gifts he has bestowed upon you? You will have to say, 'I profited by them to marry Madame Corneuil.' Ah! 'you fool!' will be the answer, 'you foolishly ended where others began.'"
"Did my letter trouble her?"
"Could you doubt it?"
"I love my mother dearly," answered Horace quickly, "but I have always considered her to be a most reasonable woman. Evidently I did not go to work rightly; I will write to her tomorrow and try to reconcile her to my happi
"Must I, then, present my credentials ? "
'This is all unnecessary, uncle. Say frankly whatever you please-or rather, if you are fortified by good arguments, say nothing at all, for I warn you that you will spend all your eloquence for naught, and I know you never care to waste your words."
"But you may as well resign yourself to listen to me. You can not suppose that I have come a hundred leagues at full gallop for nothing. My speech is ready, and you must submit to it."
"Till morning dawns, if needs be," answered Horace; "the night shall be devoted to you."
"Thanks. And now let us begin at the beginning. That which has just taken place has not only grieved me much, but cruelly humiliated me. I flattered myself that I understood human nature somewhat, and was quite proud of my knowledge. Now, I must confess, to my own confusion, that I am entirely mistaken in you. What, my son! can it be that you-whom I considered the most sensible, serious, sober fellow in the world-can think of thus suddenly casting