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himself of this formality with the grace of the bear, to which he bore so striking a resemblance. "Let us make haste," he said sulkily; "and look out and not fall. The highway is only a little way off, but we shall not get back to the hotel for an hour yet, and I am dying of hunger!"
She made a supreme effort to start off bravely, but the twist she had given her ankle when she fell, and which she had forgotten, now became very painful. The sprain was not severe, but she was no longer sure-footed, and stumbled from time to time. When she reached the end of the path, and had taken ten steps on the road to Fleury, then she realized that her strength was gone, and that she was dizzy and faint. Fate, which is always interested in pretty women, took pity on her, and sent her help. A calèche was passing; a noble stranger put his head through the door, and, waving a hand loaded with rings, he called out with a strong Italian accent:
"I am going from Fontainebleau to Barbison. I have two seats to offer, and shall be delighted if you will accept them."
At these words he leaped from the carriage, and compelled Monsieur and Madame Drommel to enter it, saying
"When I see a tired woman, my heart is always touched." If the noble stranger's French was not of the purest, his manners were stately and his air magnificent. He had a handsome head, a dark face framed in black eyebrows and a beard most carefully cut and combed. Ada, whose taste was refined, objected to the excessive abundance of his rings, and to the strong perfumes which exhaled from his handkerchief, his clothing, and his hair. But, when she was luxuriously ensconced in the calèche, she felt as if she were restored to life, and was too grateful to this providential being not to forgive all these faults.
As to Monsieur Drommel, he was disposed to regard this courtesy shown by an Italian toward a German thinker as that instinctive and natural homage rendered to a superior race by all inferior ones. A spectator would have thought the calèche belonged to the German, and perhaps he really believed this to be the case, and that the Italian was indebted to him, he treated him with so great condescension. When, however, he learned, in the course of conversation, that this man with the rings was a great Sicilian personage, and bore the fine title of Prince de Malaserra, he suddenly changed his attitude-his manner became less pompous, and even quite affectionate. He was always weak enough to admire those things which cost most dearly; he had a naïve respect for titles and rank. The acquaintance and friendship of a prince seemed to him a direct blessing
from heaven. He, therefore, exerted himself to display all the graces of his mind, to show the noble stranger that, in spite of all that evil tongues might say, Monsieur Drommel had not lost his way in the forest, because it was impossible for Monsieur Drommel to lose his way anywhere. He therefore explained the matter in detail, and stated that the road he had followed was the best, and that, if for a brief moment he had been embarrassed, it was owing to the fact that the map with which he was furnished was a French one; he profited, moreover, by this occasion to declare that the French know nothing of geography, and that their maps are always inferior.
The noble stranger agreed to all these propositions, which so delighted Monsieur Drommel that, when the carriage drew up before the door of the inn at Barbison, he felt a most enthusiastic liking for his new friend the Prince de Malaserra.
EVERYBODY agrees that on this evening four persons sat at table. This is a fact that has become historical.
When Monsieur Drommel descended from the carriage he was in such a half-famished condition that he hastened to the kitchen and gave orders that dinner should be served instantaneously. The mistress of the establishment, who had taken a strong dislike to Monsieur Drommel, amused herself now by thwarting his wishes. She declared that she had not a private room in her house, and that those persons who were too late for the table d'hôte must now eat in the same room and at the same time, and that she should wait until Monsieur Taconet and little Lestoc arrived: one was her cousin-german, and she felt the highest respect for him; the other was her especial favorite.
She had, from the beginning, distinguished him from among the herd of young fellows who frequented her house. She petted him, for she was proud of sheltering under her roof a youth whose future was so full of promise—a phoenix of whom everybody was talking, and would have been glad to inscribe on her sign, "Little Lestoc lives here!"
She therefore calmly signified to Monsieur Drommel that no napkin should be unfolded until little Lestoc was there. He protested, and lost his temper. She answered that, if he was not satisfied, he could go elsewhere. She was rude, and he was angry, and would have come to blows had not the Prince de Malaserra interfered. He had all the amenity and graceful good humor that characterizes great lords and gentlemen. With his gay grace he conciliated both parties, calmed their perturbed spirits, and
smoothed down Monsieur Drommel. He said thoroughly utilize for the common good all their laughingly : ability."
"My dear sir, be as philosophical as myself. When things do not go as I wish, I try to wish that they may go as they do."
Just at this moment Monsieur Taconet and little Lestoc arrived, and they all went to dinner. As for Madame Drommel, as it was repose of which she stood most in need, she hastened to her bed.
During the first course no one uttered a word. Only the noise made by knives, forks, and jaws was heard. Occasionally Monsieur Taconet examined the Prince de Malaserra out of the corners of his eye. The Prince in his turn stealthily watched little Lestoc, who surveyed Monsieur Drommel, and Monsieur Drommel had eyes only for his plate. When he had swallowed half a chicken fricassee, and had assuaged the exacting anguish of his stomach, and felt circulate in his veins the gentle warmth of some excellent Bordeaux, his bad humor was dissipated as by enchantment; his energy returned and his spirits revived. He waited with considerable impatience until an opportunity should arrive for him to talk, which he especially liked to do when eating, thereby adding to the pleasures of the table the joy of astonishing his neighbor. It was Monsieur Taconet who offered the opportunity for which he was longing, by repeating the terms of a sentence just pronounced against a poacher caught in the act in the forest.
Monsieur Drommel's nostrils dilated, he swelled out his cheeks, and, placing his two bows on the table, cried out:
The ex-policeman was perfectly aghast. "Do you mean," he said angrily, “that the legislators of the future will employ thieves to watch and guard our pockets?"
"Monsieur," answered Drommel with a sardonic smile, "will you kindly tell me what a thief is?"
"A thief, sir?-zounds, sir!"
"Do not swear, I beg of you," interrupted little Lestoc, who was all attention, though he looked perfectly indifferent. "My Aunt Dorothy, who brought me up, taught me that it was most unlucky to swear!"
"You were wrong in interrupting the gentleman," said Monsieur Drommel, “for he was going to tell me that a thief is he who appropriates the property of others. I expected him to say this, and in reply I shall say that the Government is a thief because it sometimes takes possession of people on the plea of public utility."
"I never liked sophistry nor sophists," said Monsieur Taconet, whose nerves began to be affected by the sneers of this German.
Little Lestoc again interrupted, and said in his cold, measured tone:
"Answer each other, gentlemen; but I do beg of you that you will not lose your tempers. You see I am not angry, although the arguments of our most honorable fellow boarder-I should like to know his name," he added, interrupting himself—“may I venture to ask it?"
"You may venture, young man-my name is Drommel." He added modestly, “It is a name
"And these are the beauties of our civiliza- that in Germany enjoys a certain notoriety, but I tion!"
"What do you mean?" asked Monsieur Taconet, looking at him more openly.
"I wish to say," he replied, "and not only to say, but to affirm, that our so-called civilization is most pitiable; that we are still in the midst of barbarism, where the Government punishes men because it does not know how to elevate them." "You think, then, that crime should not be punished?"
"I think, and not only think but affirm, that there is, in the present wretched social condition in which we live, an immense expenditure of strength; that our prisons are full of clever persons who have not understood how to utilize their qualities. Listen to me, if you please: I am will ing to wager ten to one that the poacher of whom you speak is a most intelligent man, who poaches because he is not able to do anything else."
doubt if it be yet known in Barbison."
Lestoc bowed with profound respect. "Can it be possible, sir!" he exclaimed. "I ought to have known it. But you are greatly mistaken. For what do you take us? Can you suppose that we are so ignorant that we have never heard of the great philosopher, the profound thinker, and the illustrious publisher who founded the celebrated sheet 'Light,' to which I have always promised myself the pleasure of subscribing ?"
Monsieur Drommel at once conceived the best possible opinion of this young man, and he looked upon him with tender, appreciative eyes. He did not know that his information was so fresh, or that he had acquired it in a glade in the forest.
"The weight of your great name, however," continued Lestoc, "does not prevent me from regarding your opinions as absolutely heretical, unhealthy, and offensive. I am not angry, like Monsieur Taconet, for I am never angry; but your theory regarding poachers is scandalous to a de
gree. I should use a stronger word, but Aunt Dorothy would not be pleased."
"Do I really scandalize you, my young friend?" answered Monsieur Drommel indulgently, for he liked people who were scandalized, but who kept their tempers. They composed precisely the audiences he liked.
"My dear Prince," he said quickly; “I do not suppress property. I simply wish to perfect it. The point now is that the earth should produce all that it is capable of producing, and that property should become accessible to every one. Do you catch my idea? Please follow my reasoning: A lazy fellow has inherited a certain field from his father, which he only half cultivates. We will call him X, if you say so. Z is a man of merit who had had no inheritance, and who does not know in what way to employ his talents. Z knows that, if he owned the field which belongs to X, he would double its value, and be able to pay to the Government double the tax paid by X. Is it not, therefore, to the interest of society, to the interest of the Government, and of everybody, in short, that this field should be taken from X and given to Z? When the law is once made and applied with full vigor, that property shall be taken pos"Two hundred and fifty pounds," murmured session of for the public good, land will bear ten Monsieur Taconet. times as much as now; and, if each person becomes a property-holder, there will be, of course, no more robbers."
"What would you have? It is the fault of my education. I was born in La Brie at Perigny, in the middle of the village, opposite the wheelwright's, in the house under the great pear-tree. Do you know Perigny? Do you know the wheelwright's? Do you know the great pear-tree? No, you do not, nor do you know my Aunt Dorothy who brought me up. As you are aware, she was a most respectable lady who had principles, and three long hairs on her chin. She weighed two hundred pounds altogether, you understand, the three hairs and the principles included."
Two hundred, sir!" repeated the artist, haughtily; "and, when I say two hundred, I mean two hundred!—Now, my Aunt Dorothy did not like thieves and robbers, and would never have allowed them to be admitted into the Government. When they were there, she agreed that they should be left, but that they should be placed there purposely was a very different matter. I will here state that she taught me, at an early age, to feel and to show respect for the property of others. I believed all she said then, and I believe it still."
"I do not in the least doubt," answered Monsieur Drommel, "that Mademoiselle Dorothée was a most respectable person; but, my dear child, she was not strong in her logic. She should have known that property is not a primordial right-that it is a human invention, and that it is allowable for us to reform it by accommodating it to natural laws."
Then the Prince de Malaserra, who had said nothing up to this moment, uttered a melancholy exclamation:
"Good Heavens !" he exclaimed; "you make me shiver! Property, my dear friend, is my idol, and you would destroy it. You are a powerful logician-the most powerful in the world, undoubtedly. I realized this in the calèche, but it was written in the Divine Comédie' that the devil, too, is a logician. I beg your pardon, my dear friend, for my comparison, but I shudder— yes, I shudder—”
Monsieur Drommel was much flattered that the Prince had called him twice "his dear friend," and before witnesses. He colored high with pleasure, and, looking at the Prince with the eyes of a cooing dove
"Except X," cried Monsieur Taconet, in some exasperation.
"We will find some employment for him," answered the German, disdainfully. "I must admit, however, that I feel very little interest in X: I told you he was an indolent fellow. It is a great pity that he is not better calculated for the battle of life. There is no principle more sacred than the right of the strongest, for in this world there is nothing so obvious as strength, and selection is the law of society as it is of nature."
As he spoke he looked down with an air of complacent admiration on his vigorous wrists and his long, muscular arms, which he thought quite strong enough to pull up an oak by the roots. At this moment a dish of roast larks was served. This was little Lestoc's favorite game, of which the hostess was well aware. Monsieur Drommel took three or four on his plate and swallowed them in two mouthfuls, crunching the bones between his strong teeth. It seemed to him that these larks believed as well as himself in the great law of selection, that they rejoiced in having been predestined to gladden the stomach of a great man, and to be incorporated into his glorious substance.
The Prince de Malaserra, who was watching him, shuddered again, and began to talk :
"Ah! you really pain me, my dear friend— you really pain me. Just think of Malaserra! It is such a beautiful spot. Everything is there that any one can possibly want-vines, olive-trees, meadows, golden grain, and oranges as large as pumpkins. Ah! Malaserra is most dear to me. Then, too, I have a palace at Palermo. I have
two, indeed; and I must assure you, my dear friend, as I would assure my best of friends, that if Z should come to ask me for Malaserra, and if I should have him within gunshot, I am quite certain some accident would happen. But we will talk no more of Malaserra, but think of the cause of morality, my friend. Respect for property is the holiest of sentiments. The distinction of thine and mine is the keystone, the palladium, the tutelary safeguard of all honest people like ourselves. It is the foundation of the universe; it is—”
He wanted to say more, but Monsieur Taconet had his gimlet eyes upon him. When a man has been a police-officer for twenty-five years, something of it remains; and there is in the eyes an indescribable something-a mingling of command and suspicion. The Prince de Malaserra felt a certain discomfort under these eyes-a discomfort due to the excessive delicacy of his epidermis, and which was the result of his familiarity with the best society.
Monsieur Drommel attributed the emotion of the Prince to the anxiety he felt in regard to Malaserra; he hastened to give him his word of honor that the legislator of the future would take good care not to dispossess him of his land, of his golden grain, and of his oranges as large as pumpkins.
"I pique myself on being a physiognomist," he said. "I knew at once that you were a great agriculturist. Trust to me, my Prince, Malaserra shall not be touched. The land will belong to the most deserving. I do not intend to abolish property; I only desire to put it in circulation."
"Is it in circulation in Germany?" asked Lestoc.
Monsieur Drommel uttered a profound sigh. "Germany,” he said, “is still governed by old prejudices; but she begins to awaken from her torpor, and it is she, I feel certain, who will give the signal for the grand emancipation."
"The great Courbet," answered Lestoc," once did me me the honor of climbing up to my studio to see my first picture, which, between ourselves, was a frightful daub. Young man,' he said to me, as he laid his mighty hand upon my head-' young man, your picture pleases me. It is as good as a Titian.' When I heard these words, I was delirious with joy. I literally did not know what to do. I was tempted to cry out, 'O man of genius, come to my heart!' Unfortunately, he went on. 'But,' he continued, 'you are not quite up to the mark.'"
realism, by the sentiment of synthesis." And he added, as he devoured a fifth lark: "Do not allow yourself to be deceived; it was the Germanic synthesis that conquered at Sedan."
Monsieur Taconet was carrying his glass to his lips; he let it fall upon the table, where it broke into fragments; and his brown eyes flashed fire. He calmed himself in a moment, and murmured: "Patience!' said Panurge."
"By the way, now that we are on the subject, may I ask what you propose to do with families?"
"I shall not destroy them. I shall only make them more perfect; for I shall have children educated by the Government."
"And marriage? Will you abolish that?"
"Marriage, my dear child, is the most absurd of prejudices, the greatest possible attack upon the liberty of man and of woman. I shall replace it with free love."
"Ah! yes; I see. You wish wives to circulate as well as property."
"Will a man be allowed to have several?" asked Monsieur Taconet.
"You misinterpret all my opinions," answered Monsieur Drommel sharply. "Love is essentially monogamy. And the only polygamy that is in conformity with nature is successive polygamy. Man has no right to dispose, for eternity, of his person, which is sacred, and of his wishes, which are variable. The law does not recognize the perpetual vows of monks; nor will the legislator of the future recognize the vows of marriage. He will inscribe at the head of his constitution the grand principle of elective affinities. Man is but a chemical combination."
"Precisely," said Monsieur Taconet. "Z has an affinity for the wife of X, as well as for his field; consequently, he must have the field and the wife."
"And who told you," said Monsieur Drommel, "that the wife of Z has not an affinity for X? Such an exchange would make four persons happy."
"Do they exchange their wives in this way in Germany?" said Lestoc.
"They will do so some day, and all the world will think it an excellent plan."
"Omnis clocha clochabilis!" cried Monsieur Taconet; and it is a beautiful thing to be well read in one's breviary.
"I shall adhere to my Aunt Dorothy's lesson," said Lestoc. "I was one day under the great pear-tree. I remember just her dress. It was a chocolate-colored dress, and a cap with long strings. 'Henri,' she said to me, 'never do to others what you would not that they should do unto you.' And, in order to make me remember her words, she gave me a smart slap on my right
cheek. That was her way of impressing things on my memory. Consequently, I have never done to others-"
"No, no!" exclaimed Monsieur Drommel, interrupting him. "That is quite impossible."
"I assure you I am speaking the truth, and that the sacrifice has cost me little. I have never been in love. I must tell you that I belong to the open-air school, which school holds as its first principle that the middle distance is everything, and woman is only a spot on the landscape. You follow me, I trust? I paint my landscape, you understand, beginning with the sky; for you must always begin with the sky. When my picture is done, I consider it admirable; but I suddenly discover that it requires a spot upon ittwo spots, in fact, one rose and the other blue, or straw-color, it may be; the hue has nothing to do with it. I rummage through my memory, and finally discover some straw-colored woman. I go to her, or I see her pass in the street, and I beg her to come up to my studio, saying: 'Madame, you are essential to my happiness; you are the spot for which I am looking.'
"My young friend," answered the German, more gravely than before, "know that in certain lands women have no other rule for their conduct than the impulses of their senses or the caprices of their imaginations, and that it would be dangerous to have the bridle on their necks, and to trust to their sense of honor. But with us it is very different. Did you know German women, "What nonsense!" said Monsieur Taconet. you would know that they have no need of safe"I am so dull," continued the young artist, guards for their virtue. They are distinguished "that I really know nothing of love. Love may from all other women by the depth of their moral do for artists who paint interiors; but what have sense, the intensity of their attachments, and the we, students in the open air, to do with it? How grandeur of their passion. When a German the deuce can a man fall in love with a mere woman once gives her heart, she never takes it spot?" back again-her love is a worship, a religion, Monsieur Drommel looked at him with min- and she never denies her god. You do not congled admiration and surprise. test, I imagine, the moral and intellectual supe"It might be true, my dear boy; but the time riority conceded by all honest people to the Gerwill come-" manic race. It is very possible that certain im"No; never!" he interrupted. "I am alto- pressions and prejudices are necessary to the gether too busy." inferior races. The red-skins must have their "Except on Sundays and fête days," said Ta- manitous, I suppose. I am sorry for the Latins :
"I am always too busy," said Lestoc, with a frown. "I have already said so, and I never permit any one to doubt my word. It is possible that thirty years hence, in my old age, I may change; but, if I do, it will be a proof that my brain is softening."
"He is a most extraordinary fellow!" said Monsieur Drommel to the Prince de Malaserra.
'Amazing!" muttered the Prince. "For my part, I have always respected the tenth commandment. I have never coveted my neighbor's house, nor his ox, nor his ass. Man is never perfect, however. The only part of my neighbor's goods which I have occasionally envied is -if you will have it—his wife! If, however, you will allow me to explain my idea more fully-"
He explained no more-his words died on his lips, under the chilling glances of Monsieur Taco
they are destined to give way before long to younger nations, which have energy and fire as well as a future. When Germany has transformed the world, and imposed the new laws with her own strong hand on the new régime, woe to the people who are unable to accept its rudimentary principles-they will disappear as the red-skins do at the approach of the whites!"
Here the ex-police officer cried out for the third time, "Patience!' answered Panurge.”
“Who on earth is this Panurge of whom you keep talking?" asked Monsieur Drommel impatiently.
He, unlike the ex-police officer, had read everything except Rabelais.
"Panurge," answered Monsieur Taconet, "was a man of property, to whom one never caused annoyance without having reason to repent, and he was offended with Dindenaut when with him one day, because, having his spectacles, he heard more easily with his left ear."