away. She listened, probably, and was sufficiently enlightened by the sighs of Ursus; and here and there by some significant exclamation, as,

One does not get ounces of gold every day !"

She spoke no more of the woman. That was a deep instinct. The soul takes these obscure 'precautions, in the secrets of which she is not always herself informed. Keeping silence about anyone seems to keep them far off. By questions about them we fear to recall them. We place silence on our side, as if we shut them out by closing a door.

The incident was forgotten.

Was it ever anything? Did it ever exist ? Could it be said that a shadow had floated between Gwynplaine and Dea ? Dea knew it not, nor Gwynplaine either. No; nothing had occurred. The duchess herself was blurred in the distant perspective like an illusion. It had been but a momentary dream passing over Gwynplaine, out of which he had awakened.

The dissipation of a reverie, like a dissipation of mist, leaves no trace; and, the vapour passed, love is no more diminished in the heart than is the sun in the sky.



ANOTHER face disappeared; this was Tom-Jim-Jack's. Suddenly he ceased to come to the Tadcaster Inn.

Persons so situated as to be able to see the two currents of fashionable life in London, might have noted that about this time the weekly gazette, between two extracts from parish registers, announced the departure of Lord David Dirry-Moir, by order of her majesty, to take command of his frigate in the white fleet cruising off the coast of Holland.

Ursus, perceiving that Tom-Jim-Jack did not return, was troubled by his absence. Tom-Jim-Jack had not come back since the day when he had driven off in the same carriage with the lady of the gold piece. It was, indeed, an enigma who this Tom-Jim-Jack could be, who carried off duchesses under his arm. What an interesting investigation! What questions to propound! What things to be said. For which reason Ursus said not a word.

Ursus, who had had experience, knew what smart is given by rash curiosity. Curiosity ought always to be proportioned to the curious.

[graphic][merged small]

By listening, we risk our ear; by watching, we risk our eye. Prudent people neither hear nor see. Tom-Jim-Jack had got into that princely carriage. The tavern keeper had witnessed his ascent. The sailor, sitting cheek by jowl by the lady, had an appearance so unusual, that it made Ursus circumspect. The caprices of those in high life ought to be sacred to the lower orders. Those reptiles called poor people, had best squat in their holes when they see any. thing extraordinary. Quiescence is a power. Shut your eyes, if you have not the happiness to be blind ; stop up your ears,


have not the good fortune to be deaf; paralyse your tongue, if you have not the perfection of being mute. The great do what they will, the small what they can. Let the unknown pass unnoticed. Do not importune mythology. Do not interrogate appearances. Have a profound respect for simulacrums. Do not let us direct our gossiping towards the lessenings or increasings which take place in superior regions, of the motives of which we are ignorant. Such things are mostly optical delusions to us, inferior creatures. Metamorphoses are the business of the gods: the transformations and the contingent disorders of great persons who float above us, are clouds impossible to comprehend, and perilous to study. Too much attention irritates the Olympians in their gyrations of amusement or fancy; and a thunder-bolt may teach you that the bull you too curiously examine is Jupiter. Do not lift the folds of the stone-coloured mantles of those terrible powers. Indifference is intelligence. Do not stir; that is safest. Pretend to be dead, and they will not kill you. That is the wisdom of the insect. Ursus practised it.

The tavern-keeper, puzzled in his turn, one day challenged Ursus. “Do you observe that Tom-Jim-Jack never comes now ? " “Indeed !” said Ursus. “I had not remarked it.”

Master Nicless made an observation in an under tone, no doubt touching the intimacy between the ducal carriage and Tom-Jim-Jack; a remark which, as it might have been irreverent and dangerous, Ursus took care not to hear.

Still Ursus was too much of an artist not to regret Tom-Jim-Jack. He felt a certain disappointment. He told his feeling to Homo, of whose discretion alone he felt certain. He whispered into the ear of the wolf, “Since Tom-Jim-Jack ceased to come, I feel a blank as a man, and a chill as a poet.” This pouring out of his heart to a friend relieved Ursus.

His lips were sealed before Gwynplaine, who on his side made no allusion to Tom-Jim-Jack. The fact was, whether Tom-Jim-Jack was there or no, mattered not to Gwynplaine, absorbed as he was in Dea.

Forgetfulness fell more and more on Gwynplaine. As for Dea, she had not even suspected the existence of a vague trouble. At the same time, there was no more talk of cabals and complaints against the grinning man. Hate seemed to have let go his hold. All was tranquil in and around the Green Box. No more opposition from strollers, from merryandrews nor priests; no more grumbling outside. Their success was without menace. Destiny allows of these sudden serenities. The brilliant happiness of Gwynplaine and Dea was for the present absolutely cloudless.

Little by little it had risen to a degree which admitted of no increase. There is one word explains such a situation : apogee. Happiness, like the sea, has its high tide. That which disquiets the perfectly happy, is that it recedes.

There are two ways of being inaccessible ; by being too high and too low. At least as much, perhaps, as the first, the second is to be desired. More surely than the cagle escapes the arrow, does the animalcule escape being crushed. This security of insignificance, if it had ever existed on the earth, was enjoyed by Gwynplaine and Dea, and never before had it been so complete. They lived more and more ecstatically wrapt in each other. The heart saturates itself in love as with a divine salt that preserves it, and from this arises the incorruptible constancy of those who have loved each other from the dawn of their lives; and the passion which keeps its freshness in old age. There exists an embalment of the heart. It is of Daphnis and Chloe that Philemon and Baucis are made. This old age, the resemblance of evening to morning, was evidently reserved for Gwynplaine and Dea. In the meantime they were young.

Ursus looked on this love as a doctor does at his case. He had what was in those days termed a hippocratical look. He fixed his sagacious eyes on Dea, fragile and pale, and grumbled out, “ It is well that she is happy." Another time he said, “She is fortunate for her health's sake.” He shook his head, and at times he read attentively a portion treating of heart disease in Aviccunas, translated by Vossiscus Fortunatus, Louvain, 1650, an old worm-eaten book of his.

Dea, easily fatigued, had perspirations and drowsiness, and took a siesta, as we have already observed. One day, when she slept extended on the bearskin, and Gwynplaine was not there, Ursus bent down softly and applied his ear to Dea's heart. He seemed to listen for a few minutes, and then stood up, inurmuring, “She must not have any shock. The fissure would widen it apace.”

The crowd continued to flock to the representation of “Chaos Vanquished.” The success of the grinning man seemed inexhaustible.

All ran to see him ; not from Southwark only, but from all parts of London. The general public began to mingle amongst the audience; and not sailors and coachmen only; in the opinion of Master Nicless, who was well acquainted with crowds, there were amongst the populace gentlemen and baronets disguised as common people. Disguise is one of the pleasures of pride, and it was much the fashion at that period. This aristocratic element mixing with the mob was a good sign, and indicated success extending to London. The glory of Gwynplaine had decidedly penetrated the great world, and such was the fact. Nothing was talked of but the man with the grin. They talked of him even at the Mohawk Club, frequented by noblemen.

In the Green Box they had no idea of all this. They were content to be happy. It was intoxication to Dea to feel every evening the crisp and tawny head of Gwynplaine.

In love there is nothing like habit. All life is there concentrated. For stars to reappear is the custom of the universe. Creation is nothing but a mistress; the sun is a lover. Light is a dazzling caryatide which supports the world. Each day, during a sublime minute, the earth covered by night rests on the rising sun. Dea, blind, felt the same return of warmth and hope in her at the moment when she placed her hand on the head of Gwynplaine.

To be two shadows adoring each other, to love in the plenitude of silence—who could not reconcile himself to an eternity thus passed ?

One evening Gwynplaine, feeling within him this overflow of felicity, which, like the intoxication of persumes, causes a sort of delicious faintness, was strolling, as he usually did after the performance, in the meadow some hundred paces from the Green Box. We have, sometimes, these high tides of feeling when we would fain pour out the sensations of the overflowing heart. The night was dark and clear. The stars were shining. All the fair ground was deserted. Sleep and forgetfulness reigned in the caravans scattered over Tarrenzeau field.

One light alone was unextinguished. It was the lamp of the Tadcaster Inn, the door of which was left half open to admit of Gwynplaine's return.

Midnight had just struck in the five parishes of Southwark, with the breaks and differences of tone of the various bells. Gwynplaine dreamed of Dea. Of whom else should he dream? But this evening, feeling singularly troubled, full of a charm which was also a pang, he thought of Dea as a man thinks of a woman. He reproached himself for this. It was a diminution of respect. He questioned himself anxiously A blush, as it were, overspread his mind. The

« 前へ次へ »