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greater undertakings by doing work of less lofty pretensions, so it will be a recreation for me to paint that head."
The old lady flushed as she heard the painter's words, and Adélaïde shot one of those glances of deep feeling which seem to flash from the soul. Hippolyte wanted to feel some tie linking him with his two neighbors, to conquer a right to mingle in their life. His offer, appealing as it did to the liveliest affections of the heart, was the only one he could possibly make; it gratified his pride as an artist, and could not hurt the feelings of the ladies. Madame Leseigneur accepted, without eagerness or reluctance, but with the self-possession of a noble soul, fully aware of the character of bonds formed by such an obligation, while, at the same time, they are its highest glory as a proof of esteem.
“I fancy," said the painter, “that the uniform is that of a naval officer?"
“Yes,” she said, "that of a captain in command of a vessel. Monsieur de Rouville - my husband - died at Batavia in consequence of a wound received in a fight with an English ship they fell in with off the Asiatic coast. He commanded a frigate of fifty-six guns, and the Revenge carried ninety-six. The struggle was very unequal, but he defended his ship so bravely that he held out till nightfall and got away. When I came back to France, Bonaparte was not yet in power, and I was refused a pension. When I applied again for it, quite lately, I was sternly informed that if the Baron de Rouville had emigrated I should not have lost him; that by this time he would have been rear-admiral; finally, his Excellency quoted I know not what decree of forfeiture. I took this step, to which I was urged by my friends, only for the sake of my poor Adélaïde. I have always hated the idea of holding out my hand as a beggar in the name of a grief which deprives a woman of voice and strength. I do not like this money valuation for blood irreparably spilt "
“Dear mother, this subject always does you harm."
In response to this remark from Adélaïde, the Baronne Leseigneur bowed, and was silent.
"Monsieur," said the young girl to Hippolyte, “I had supposed that a painter's work was generally fairly quiet?”
At this question Schinner colored, remembering the noise he had made. Adélaïde said no more, and spared him a falsehood by rising at the sound of a carriage stopping at the door. She went into her own room, and returned carrying a pair of tall gilt candlesticks with partly burnt wax candles, which she quickly lighted, and without waiting for the bell to ring, she opened the door of the outer room, where she set the lamp down. The sound of a kiss given and received found an echo in Hippolyte's heart. The young man's impatience to see the man who treated Adélaïde with so much familiarity, was not immediately gratified; the newcomers had a conversation, which he thought very long, in an undertone, with the young girl.
At last Mademoiselle de Rouville returned, followed by two men, whose costume, countenance, and appearance are a long story.
The first, a man of about sixty, wore one of the coats invented, I believe, for Louis XVIII, then on the throne, in which the most difficult problem of the sartorial art had been solved by a tailor who ought to be immortal. That artist certainly understood the art of compromise, which was the moving genius of that period of shifting politics. Is it not a rare merit to be able to take the measure of the time? This coat, which the young men of the present day may conceive to be fabulous, was neither civil nor military, and might pass for civil or military by turns. Fleurs-de-lis were embroidered on the lapels of the back skirts. The gilt buttons also bore fleurs-de-lis; on the shoulders a pair of straps cried out for useless epaulettes; these military appendages were there like a petition without a recommendation. This old gentleman's coat was of dark blue cloth, and the buttonhole had blossomed into many colored ribbons. He, no doubt, always carried his hat in his hand - a threecornered cocked hat, with a gold cord - for the snowy wings of his powdered hair showed not a tráce of its pressure. He might have been taken for not more than fifty years of age, and seemed to enjoy robust health. While wearing the frank and loyal expression of the old émigrés, his countenance also hinted at the easy habits of a libertine, at the light and reckless passions of the Musketeers formerly so famous in the annals of gallantry. His gestures, his attitude, and his manner proclaimed that he had no intention of correcting himself of his royalism, of his religion, or of his love affairs.
A really fantastic figure came in behind this specimen of “Louis XIV's light infantry” – a nickname given by the Bonapartists to these venerable survivors of the Monarchy. To do it justice it ought to be made the principal object in the picture, and it is but an accessory. Imagine a lean, dry man, dressed like the former, but seeming to be only his reflection, or his shadow, if you will. The coat, new on the first, on the second was old; the powder in his hair looked less white, the gold of the fleurs-de-lis less bright, the shoulder straps more hopeless and dog's-eared; his intellect seemed more feeble, his life nearer the fatal term than in the former. In short, he realized Rivarol's witticism on Champcenetz, “He is the moonlight of me.” He was simply his double, a paler and poorer double, for there was between them all the difference that lies between the first and last impressions of a lithograph.
This speechless old man was a mystery to the painter, and always remained a mystery. The Chevalier, for he was a Chevalier, did not speak, nobody spoke to him. Was he a friend, a poor relation, a man who followed at the old gallant's heels as a lady companion does at an old lady's? Did he fill a place midway between a dog, a parrot, and a friend? Had he saved his patron's fortune, or only his life? Was he the Trim to another Captain Toby? Elsewhere, as at the Baronne de Rouville's, he always piqued curiosity without satisfying it. Who, after the Restoration, could remember the attachment which, before the Revolution, had bound this man to his friend's wife, dead now these twenty years?
The leader, who appeared the least dilapidated of these wrecks, came gallantly up to Madame de Rouville, kissed her hand, and sat down by her. The other bowed and placed himself not far from his model, at a distance represented by two chairs. Adélaïde came behind the old gentleman's armchair and leaned her elbows on the back, unconsciously imitating the attitude given to Dido's sister by Guérin in his famous picture.
Though the gentleman's familiarity was that of a father, his freedom seemed at the moment to annoy the young girl.
“What, are you sulky with me?" he said.
Then he shot at Schinner one of those side looks full of shrewdness and cunning, diplomatic looks, whose expression betrays the discreet uneasiness, the polite curiosity of well-bred people, and seems to ask, when they see a stranger, “Is he one of us?"
“This is our neighbor," said the old lady, pointing to Hippolyte. "Monsieur is a celebrated painter, whose name must be known to you in spite of your indifference to the arts."
The old man saw his friend's mischievous intent in suppressing the name, and bowed to the young man.
Certainly,” said he. “I heard a great deal about his pictures at the last Salon. Talent has immense privileges,” he added, observing the artist's red ribbon. “That distinction, which we must earn at the cost of our blood and long service, you win in your youth; but all glory is of the same kindred," he said, laying his hand on his Cross of Saint-Louis.
Hippolyte murmured a few words of acknowledgment, and was silent again, satisfied to admire with growing enthusiasm the beautiful girl's head that charmed him so much. He was soon lost in contemplation, completely forgetting the extreme misery of the dwelling. To him Adélaïde's face stood out against a luminous atmosphere. He replied briefly to the questions addressed to him, which, by good luck, he heard, thanks to a singular faculty of the soul which sometimes seems to have a double consciousness. Who has not known what it is to sit lost in sad or delicious meditation, listening to its voice within, while attending to a conversation or to reading? An admirable duality which often helps us to tolerate a bore! Hope, prolific and smiling, poured out before him a thousand visions of happiness; and he refused to consider what was going on around him. As confiding as a child, it seemed to him base to analyze a pleasure.
After a short lapse of time, he perceived that the old lady and her daughter were playing cards with the old gentleman. As to the satellite, faithful to his function as a shadow, he stood behind his friend's chair watching his game, and answering the player's mute inquiries by little approving nods, repeating the questioning gestures of the other countenance.
"Du Halga, I always lose," said the gentleman.
“You discard badly,” replied the Baronne de Rouville.
“For three months now I have never won a single game," said he.
"Have you the aces?” asked the old lady.
“No, no. Stay where I can see you. By Gad, it would be losing too much not to have you to look at !”
At last the game was over. The gentleman pulled out his purse, and, throwing two Louis d'or on the table, not without temper:
"Forty francs,” he exclaimed, “the exact sum. Deuce take it! It is eleven o'clock."
"It is eleven o'clock,” repeated the silent figure, looking at the painter.
The young man, hearing these words rather more distinctly than all the others, thought it time to retire. Coming back to the world of ordinary ideas, he found a few commonplace remarks to make, took leave of the Baroness, her daughter, and the two strangers, and went away, wholly possessed by the first raptures of true love, without attempting to analyze the little incidents of the evening.
On the morrow the young painter felt the most ardent desire to see Adélaïde once more. If he had followed the call of his passion, he would have gone to his neighbors' door at six in the morning, when he went to his studio. However, he still was reasonable enough to wait till the afternoon. But as soon as he thought he could present himself to Madame de Rouville, he went downstairs, rang, blushing like a girl, shyly asked Mademoiselle Leseigneur, who came to let him in, to let him have the portrait of the Baron.
“But come in,” said Adélaïde, who had no doubt heard him come down from the studio.
The painter followed, bashful and out of countenance, not knowing what to say, happiness had so dulled his wit. To see Adélaïde, to hear the rustle of her skirt, after longing for a whole morning to be near her, after starting up a hundred times — “I will go down now” - and not to have gone; this was to him life so rich that such sensations, too greatly prolonged,