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Manon lescaut


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ManonLescaut
bytheAbbePrevost
March,1996[Etext#468]
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MANONLESCAUTI
Whydidheloveher?Curiousfool,bestill!
Ishumanlovethefruitofhumanwill?
BYRON.
JustaboutsixmonthsbeforemydepartureforSpain,IfirstmettheChevalier
desGrieux.ThoughIrarelyquittedmyretreat,stilltheinterestIfeltinmy
child’swelfareinducedmeoccasionallytoundertakeshortjourneys,which,
however,Itookgoodcaretoabridgeasmuchaspossible.
IwasonedayreturningfromRouen,whereIhadbeen,atherrequest,toattenda
causethenpendingbeforetheParliamentofNormandy,respectingan
inheritancetowhichIhadclaimsderivedfrommymaternalgrandfather.Having
takentheroadbyEvreux,whereIsleptthefirstnight,Ionthefollowingday,
aboutdinner-time,reachedPassy,adistanceoffiveorsixleagues.Iwasamazed,
onenteringthisquiettown,toseealltheinhabitantsincommotion.Theywere
pouringfromtheirhousesincrowds,towardsthegateofasmallinn,
immediatelybeforewhichtwocoveredvansweredrawnup.Theirhorsesstillin
harness,andreekingfromfatigueandheat,showedthatthecortegehadonlyjust
arrived.Istoppedforamomenttolearnthecauseofthetumult,butcouldgain
littleinformationfromthecuriousmobastheyrushedby,heedlessofmy
enquiries,andhasteningimpatientlytowardstheinnintheutmostconfusion.At
lengthanarcherofthecivicguard,wearinghisbandolier,andcarryingacarbine
onhisshoulder,appearedatthegate;so,beckoninghimtowardsme,Ibeggedto
knowthecauseoftheuproar.
“Nothing,sir,”saidhe,“butadozenofthefrailsisterhood,thatIandmy
comradesareconductingtoHavre-de-Grace,whencewearetoshipthemfor
America.Thereareoneortwoofthemprettyenough;anditisthat,apparently,
whichattractsthecuriosityofthesegoodpeople.”
Ishouldhavepassedon,satisfiedwiththisexplanation,ifmyattentionhadnot
beenarrestedbythecriesofanoldwoman,whowascomingoutoftheinnwith
herhandsclasped,andexclaiming:“Adownrightbarbarity!—Ascenetoexcite
horrorandcompassion!”“Whatmaythismean?”Ienquired.“Oh!sir;gointo


thehouseyourself,”saidthewoman,andseeifitisnotasighttorendyour
heart!”Curiositymademedismount;andleavingmyhorsetothecareofthe
ostler,Imademywaywithsomedifficultythroughthecrowd,anddidindeed
beholdascenesufficientlytouching.
Amongthetwelvegirls,whowerechainedtogetherbythewaistintworows,
therewasone,whosewholeairandfigureseemedsoill-suitedtoherpresent
condition,thatunderothercircumstancesIshouldnothavehesitatedto
pronounceherapersonofhighbirth.Herexcessivegrief,andeventhe
wretchednessofherattire,detractedsolittlefromhersurpassingbeauty,thatat
firstsightofherIwasinspiredwithamingledfeelingofrespectandpity.
Shetried,aswellasthechainwouldpermither,toturnherselfaway,andhide
herfacefromtherudegazeofthespectators.
Therewassomethingsounaffectedintheeffortshemadetoescapeobservation,
thatitcouldbuthavesprungfromnaturalandinnatemodestyalone.
Asthesixmenwhoescortedtheunhappytrainweretogetherintheroom,Itook
thechiefoneasideandaskedforinformationrespectingthisbeautifulgirl.All
thathecouldsupplywasofthemostvaguekind.“Webroughther,”hesaid,
“fromtheHospital,byorderofthelieutenant-generalofpolice.Thereisno
reasontosupposethatshewasshutupthereforgoodconduct.
Ihavequestionedheroftenupontheroad;butshepersistsinrefusingevento
answerme.Yet,althoughIreceivednoorderstomakeanydistinctionbetween
herandtheothers,Icannothelptreatingherdifferently,forsheseemstome
somewhatsuperiortohercompanions.Yonderisayoungman,”continuedthe
archer,“whocantellyou,betterthanIcan,thecauseofhermisfortunes.Hehas
followedherfromParis,andhasscarcelydriedhistearsforasinglemoment.He
mustbeeitherherbrotherorherlover.”
Iturnedtowardsthecorneroftheroom,wherethisyoungmanwasseated.He
seemedburiedinaprofoundreverie.NeverdidIbeholdamoreaffectingpicture
ofgrief.Hewasplainlydressed;butonemaydiscoveratthefirstglanceaman
ofbirthandeducation.AsIapproachedhimherose,andtherewassorefined
andnobleanexpressioninhiseyes,inhiswholecountenance,inhisevery
movement,thatIfeltaninvoluntaryimpulsetorenderhimanyserviceinmy
power.“Iamunwillingtointrudeuponyoursorrows,”saidI,takingaseat


besidehim,“butyouwill,perhaps,gratifythedesireIfeeltolearnsomething
aboutthatbeautifulgirl,whoseemslittleformedbynatureforthemiserable
conditioninwhichsheisplaced.”
Heansweredmecandidly,thathecouldnotcommunicateherhistorywithout
makinghimselfknown,andthathehadurgentreasonsforpreservinghisown
incognito.“Imay,however,tellyouthismuch,foritisnolongerasecretto
thesewretches,”
hecontinued,pointingtotheguards,—“thatIadoreherwithapassionsoardent
andabsorbingastorendermethemostunhappyofhumanbeings.Itriedevery
meansatParistoeffectherliberty.Petitions,artifice,force—allfailed.Gowhere
shemay,Ihaveresolvedtofollowher—totheextremityoftheworld.Ishall
embarkwithherandcrosstoAmerica.
Butthinkofthebrutalinhumanityofthesecowardlyruffians,”
headded,speakingoftheguards;“theywillnotallowmetoapproachher!Ihad
plannedanopenattackuponthemsomeleaguesfromParis;havingsecured,asI
thought,theaidoffourmen,whoforaconsiderablesumhiredmetheirservices.
Thetraitors,however,leftmetoexecutemyschemesingle-handed,and
decampedwithmymoney.Theimpossibilityofsuccessmademeofcourse
abandontheattempt,Ithenimploredoftheguardspermissiontofollowintheir
train,promisingthemarecompense.
Theloveofmoneyprocuredtheirconsent;butastheyrequiredpaymentevery
timeIwasallowedtospeaktoher,mypursewasspeedilyemptied;andnowthat
Iamutterlypenniless,theyarebarbarousenoughtorepulsemebrutally,
wheneverImaketheslightestattempttoapproachher.Itisbutamomentsince,
thatventuringtodoso,inspiteoftheirthreats,oneofthefellowsraisedthebuttendofhismusket.Iamnowdrivenbytheirexactionstodisposeofthemiserable
horsethathasbroughtmehither,andampreparingtocontinuethejourneyon
foot.”
Althoughheseemedtorecitethisstorytranquillyenough,Iobservedthetears
starttohiseyesasheconcluded.Thisadventurestruckmeasbeingnotless
singularthanitwasaffecting.“Idonotpressyou,”saidItohim,tomakemethe
confidantofyoursecrets;butifIcanbeofusetoyouinanyway,Igladlytender
youmyservices.”“Alas!”repliedhe,“Iseenottheslightestrayofhope.Imust


reconcilemyselftomydestinyinallitsrigour.IshallgotoAmerica:there,at
least,ImaybefreetolivewithherIlove.Ihavewrittentoafriend,whowill
sendmemoneytoHavre-de-Grace.Myonlydifficultyistogetsofar,andto
supplythatpoorcreature,”
addedhe,ashecastalookofsorrowathismistress,“withsomefewcomforts
upontheway.”“Well!”saidItohim,“Ishallrelieveyoufromthatdifficulty.
Hereissomemoney,ofwhichIentreatyouracceptance:IamonlysorrythatI
canbeofnogreaterservicetoyou.”
Igavehimfourlouis-d’orswithoutbeingperceivedbytheguards;forIthought
thatiftheyknewhehadthismoney,theymighthaveraisedthepriceoftheir
concessions.Itoccurredtome,even,tocometoanunderstandingwiththem,in
ordertosecurefortheyoungmantheprivilegeofconversingwithhismistress,
duringtherestofthejourneytoHavre,withouthindrance.Ibeckonedthechief
toapproach,andmadethepropositiontohim.Itseemedtoabashtheruffian,in
spiteofhishabitualeffrontery.“Itisnot,sir,”saidhe,inanembarrassedtone,
“thatwerefusetolethimspeaktothegirl,buthewishestobealwaysnearher,
whichputsustoinconvenience;anditisjustthatweshouldbepaidforthe
troubleheoccasions.”“Letussee!”saidItohim,“whatwouldsufficetoprevent
youfromfeelingtheinconvenience?”
Hehadtheaudacitytodemandtwolouis.Igavethemtohimonthespot.“But
haveacare,”saidItohim,“thatwehavenofoulplay:forIshallgivetheyoung
manmyaddress,inorderthathemaywritetomeonhisarrival;andbeassured
thatIamnotwithoutthepowertopunishyou.”Itcostmealtogethersixlouisd’ors.
Thegracefulmannerandheartfeltgratitudewithwhichtheyoungunknown
thankedme,confirmedmynotionthathewasofgoodbirthandmeritedmy
kindness.IaddressedafewwordstohismistressbeforeIlefttheroom.She
repliedtomewithamodestysogentleandsocharmingthatIcouldnothelp
making,asIwentout,athousandreflectionsupontheincomprehensible
characterofwomen.
Returnedtomyretreat,Iremainedinignoranceoftheresultofthisadventure;
anderetwoyearshadpassed,itwascompletelyblottedfrommyrecollection,
whenchancebroughtmeanopportunityoflearningallthecircumstancesfrom
beginningtoend.


IarrivedatCalais,fromLondon,withmypupil,theMarquisof–-.Welodged,if
Irememberrightly,atthe“GoldenLion,”
where,forsomereason,wewereobligedtospendthefollowingdayandnight.
Walkingalongthestreetsintheafternoon,IfanciedIsawthesameyoungman
whomIhadformerlymetatPassy.Hewasmiserablydressed,andmuchpaler
thanwhenIfirstsawhim.Hecarriedonhisarmanoldportmanteau,having
onlyjustarrivedinthetown.However,therewasanexpressioninhis
countenancetooamiablenottobeeasilyrecognised,andwhichimmediately
broughthisfeaturestomyrecollection.
“Observethatyoungman,“saidItotheMarquis;“wemustaccosthim.”
Hisjoywasbeyondexpressionwhen,inhisturn,herecognisedme.
“Ah,sir!”hecried,kissingmyhand,“Ihavethenonceagainanopportunityof
testifyingmyeternalgratitudetoyou!”Ienquiredofhimwhencehecame.He
replied,thathehadjustarrived,bysea,fromHavre,wherehehadlatelylanded
fromAmerica.“Youdonotseemtobetoowelloffformoney,”saidItohim;
“goontothe`GoldenLion,’whereIamlodging;Iwilljoinyouinamoment.”
Ireturned,infact,fullofimpatiencetolearnthedetailsofhismisfortunes,and
thecircumstancesofhisvoyagetoAmerica.
Igavehimathousandwelcomes,andorderedthattheyshouldsupplyhimwith
everythinghewanted.Hedidnotwaittobesolicitedforthehistoryofhislife.
“Sir,”saidhetome,“yourconductissogenerous,thatIshouldconsideritbase
ingratitudetomaintainanyreservetowardsyou.Youshalllearnnotonlymy
misfortunesandsufferings,butmyfaultsandmostculpableweaknesses.Iam
surethat,evenwhileyoublameme,youwillnotrefusemeyoursympathy.”
IshouldhereinformthereaderthatIwrotedownthestoryalmostimmediately
afterhearingit;andhemay,therefore,beassuredofthecorrectnessandfidelity
ofthenarrative.Iusethewordfidelitywithreferencetothesubstanceof
reflectionsandsentiments,whichtheyoungmanconveyedinthemostgraceful
language.Here,then,ishisstory,whichinitsprogressIshallnotencumberwith
asingleobservationthatwasnothisown.


II
IlovedOphelia!fortythousandbrothersCouldnot,withalltheirquantityof
love,Makeupmysum.
SHAKESPERE.
“Iwasseventeenyearsold,andwasfinishingmystudiesatAmiens,whithermy
parents,whobelongedtooneofthefirstfamiliesinPicardy,hadsentme.Ileda
lifesostudiousandwellregulated,thatmymasterspointedtomeasamodelof
conductfortheotherscholars.NotthatImadeanyextraordinaryeffortsto
acquirethisreputation,butmydispositionwasnaturallytractableandtranquil;
myinclinationsledmetoapplytostudy;andeventhenaturaldislikeIfeltfor
vicewasplacedtomycreditaspositiveproofofvirtue.Thesuccessfulprogress
ofmystudies,mybirth,andsomeexternaladvantagesofperson,mademea
generalfavouritewiththeinhabitantsofthetown.
“Icompletedmypublicexerciseswithsuchgeneralapprobation,thatthebishop
ofthediocese,whowaspresent,proposedtometoenterthechurch,whereI
couldnotfail,hesaid,toacquiremoredistinctionthanintheOrderofMalta,for
whichmyparentshaddestinedme.IwasalreadydecoratedwiththeCross,and
calledtheChevalierdesGrieux.Thevacationhavingarrived,Iwaspreparingto
returntomyfather,whohadpromisedtosendmesoontotheAcademy.
“MyonlyregretonquittingAmiensarosefrompartingwithafriend,someyears
olderthanmyself,towhomIhadalwaysbeentenderlyattached.Wehadbeen
broughtuptogether;butfromthestraitenedcircumstancesofhisfamily,hewas
intendedtotakeorders,andwastoremainaftermeatAmienstocompletethe
requisitestudiesforhissacredcalling.Hehadathousandgoodqualities.You
willrecogniseinhimtheverybestduringthecourseofmyhistory,andabove
all,azealandfervouroffriendshipwhichsurpassthemostillustriousexamples
ofantiquity.IfIhadatthattimefollowedhisadvice,Ishouldhavealways
continuedadiscreetandhappyman.IfIhadeventakencounselfromhis
reproaches,whenonthebrinkofthatgulfintowhichmypassionsafterwards
plungedme,Ishouldhavebeensparedthemelancholywreckofbothfortune
andreputation.Buthewasdoomedtoseehisfriendlyadmonitionsdisregarded;
nay,evenattimesrepaidbycontemptfromanungratefulwretch,whooften
daredtotreathisfraternalconductasoffensiveandofficious.


“IhadfixedthedayformydeparturefromAmiens.Alas!thatIhadnotfixedit
onedaysooner!Ishouldthenhavecarriedtomyfather’shousemyinnocence
untarnished.
“Theveryeveningbeforemyexpecteddeparture,asIwaswalkingwithmy
friend,whosenamewasTiberge,wesawtheArrasdiligencearrive,and
saunteredafterittotheinn,atwhichthesecoachesstop.Wehadnoothermotive
thancuriosity.Somewornmenalighted,andimmediatelyretiredintotheinn.
Oneremainedbehind:shewasveryyoung,andstoodbyherselfinthecourt,
whileamanofadvancedage,whoappearedtohavechargeofher,wasbusyin
gettingherluggagefromthevehicle.Shestruckmeasbeingsoextremely
beautiful,thatI,whohadneverbeforethoughtofthedifferencebetweenthe
sexes,orlookedonwomanwiththeslightestattention—I,whoseconducthad
beenhithertothethemeofuniversaladmiration,feltmyself,ontheinstant,
deprivedofmyreasonandself-control.Ihadbeenalwaysexcessivelytimid,and
easilydisconcerted;butnow,insteadofmeetingwithanyimpedimentfromthis
weakness,Iadvancedwithouttheslightestreservetowardsher,whohadthus
become,inamoment,themistressofmyheart.
“Althoughyoungerthanmyself,shereceivedmycivilitieswithout
embarrassment.IaskedthecauseofherjourneytoAmiens,andwhethershehad
anyacquaintancesinthetown.Sheingenuouslytoldmethatshehadbeensent
therebyherparents,tocommencehernovitiatefortakingtheveil.Lovehadso
quickenedmyperception,evenintheshortmomentithadbeenenthroned,thatI
sawinthisannouncementadeath-blowtomyhopes.Ispoketoherinawaythat
madeheratonceunderstandwhatwaspassinginmymind;forshehadmore
experiencethanmyself.Itwasagainstherconsentthatshewasconsignedtoa
convent,doubtlesstorepressthatinclinationforpleasurewhichhadalready
becometoomanifest,andwhichcaused,inthesequel,allhermisfortunesand
mine.Icombatedthecruelintentionofherparentswithalltheargumentsthat
mynew-bornpassionandschoolboyeloquencecouldsuggest.Sheaffected
neitherausteritynorreserve.Shetoldme,afteramoment’ssilence,thatshe
foresawtooclearly,whatherunhappyfatemustbe;butthatitwas,apparently,
thewillofHeaven,sincetherewerenomeanslefthertoavertit.Thesweetness
ofherlook,theairofsorrowwithwhichshepronouncedthesewords,orrather
perhapsthecontrollingdestinywhichledmeontoruin,allowedmenotan
instanttoweighmyanswer.Iassuredherthatifshewouldplacerelianceonmy
honour,andonthetenderinterestwithwhichshehadalreadyinspiredme,I
wouldsacrificemylifetodeliverherfromthetyrannyofherparents,andto


renderherhappy.Ihavesincebeenathousandtimesastonishedinreflecting
uponit,tothinkhowIcouldhaveexpressedmyselfwithsomuchboldnessand
facility;butlovecouldneverhavebecomeadivinity,ifhehadnotoftenworked
miracles.
“Imademanyotherpressingandtenderspeeches;andmyunknownfaironewas
perfectlyawarethatminewasnottheagefordeceit.Sheconfessedtomethatif
Icouldseebutareasonablehopeofbeingabletoeffectherenfranchisement,she
shoulddeemherselfindebtedformykindnessinmorethanlifeitselfcouldpay.I
repeatedthatIwasreadytoattemptanythinginherbehalf;but,nothaving
sufficientexperienceatoncetoimagineanyreasonableplanofservingher,Idid
notgobeyondthisgeneralassurance,fromwhichindeedlittlegoodcouldarise
eithertoherortomyself.Heroldguardianhavingbythistimejoinedus,my
hopeswouldhavebeenblighted,butthatshehadtactenoughtomakeamends
formystupidity.Iwassurprised,onhisapproachingus,tohearhercallmeher
cousin,andsay,withoutbeingintheslightestdegreedisconcerted,thatasshe
hadbeensofortunateastofallinwithmeatAmiens,shewouldnotgointothe
conventuntilthenextmorning,inordertohavethepleasureofmeetingmeat
supper.InnocentasIwas,Iatoncecomprehendedthemeaningofthisruse;and
proposedthatsheshouldlodgeforthenightatthehouseofaninnkeeper,who,
afterbeingmanyyearsmyfather’scoachman,hadlatelyestablishedhimselfat
Amiens,andwhowassincerelyattachedtome.
“Iconductedhertheremyself,atwhichtheoldArgusappearedtogrumblea
little;andmyfriendTiberge,whowaspuzzledbythewholescene,followed,
withoututteringaword.Hehadnotheardourconversation,havingwalkedup
anddownthecourtwhileIwastalkingoflovetomyangelicmistress.AsIhad
somedoubtsofhisdiscretion,Igotridofhim,bybeggingthathewouldexecute
acommissionforme.Ihadthusthehappiness,onarrivingattheinn,of
entertainingalonethesovereignofmyheart.
“IsoonlearnedthatIwaslessachildthanIhadbeforeimagined.Myheart
expandedtoathousandsentimentsofpleasure,ofwhichIhadnotbeforethe
remotestidea.Adeliciousconsciousnessofenjoymentdiffuseditselfthroughmy
wholemindandsoul.Isankintoakindofecstasy,whichdeprivedmeforatime
ofthepowerofutterance,andwhichfoundventonlyinafloodoftears.
“ManonLescaut(thisshetoldmewashername)seemedgratifiedbythevisible
effectofherowncharms.Sheappearedtomenotlessexcitedthanmyself.She


acknowledgedthatshewasgreatlypleasedwithme,andthatsheshouldbe
enchantedtoowetomeherfreedomandfuturehappiness.Shewouldinsiston
hearingwhoIwas,andtheknowledgeonlyaugmentedheraffection;for,being
herselfofhumblebirth,shewasflatteredbysecuringforherloveramanof
family.
Aftermanyreflectionswecoulddiscovernootherresourcethaninflight.To
effectthisitwouldberequisitetocheatthevigilanceofManon’sguardian,who
requiredmanagement,althoughhewasbutaservant.Wedetermined,therefore,
that,duringthenight,Ishouldprocureapost-chaise,andreturnwithitatbreak
ofdaytotheinn,beforehewasawake;thatweshouldstealawayquietly,andgo
straighttoParis,wherewemightbemarriedonourarrival.Ihadaboutfifty
crownsinmypocket,thefruitofmylittlesavingsatschool;andshehadabout
twiceasmuch.Weimagined,likeinexperiencedchildren,thatsuchasumcould
neverbeexhausted,andwecounted,withequalconfidence,uponthesuccessof
ourotherschemes.
“Afterhavingsupped,withcertainlymoresatisfactionthanIhadeverbefore
experienced,Iretiredtoprepareforourproject.Allmyarrangementswerethe
moreeasy,because,forthepurposeofreturningonthemorrowtomyfather’s,
myluggagehadbeenalreadypacked.Ihad,therefore,nodifficultyinremoving
mytrunk,andhavingachaisepreparedforfiveo’clockinthemorning,atwhich
hourthegatesofthetownwouldbeopened;butIencounteredanobstaclewhich
Iwaslittlepreparedfor,andwhichnearlyupsetallmyplans.
“Tiberge,althoughonlythreeyearsolderthanmyself,wasayouthofunusually
strongmind,andofthebestregulatedconduct.Helovedmewithsingular
affection.ThesightofsolovelyagirlasManon,myill-disguisedimpatienceto
conducthertotheinn,andtheanxietyIbetrayedtogetridofhim,hadexcitedin
hismindsomesuspicionsofmypassion.Hehadnotventuredtoreturntotheinn
wherehehadleftme,forfearofmybeingannoyedathisdoingso;butwentto
waitformeatmylodgings,where,althoughitwasteno’clockatnight,Ifound
himonmyarrival.Hispresenceannoyedme,andhesoonperceivedtherestraint
whichitimposed.`Iamcertain,’hesaidtome,withoutanydisguise,`thatyou
havesomeplanincontemplationwhichyouwillnotconfidetome;Iseeitby
yourmanner.’Iansweredhimratherabruptly,thatIwasnotboundtorenderhim
anaccountofallmymovements.`Certainlynot!’hereplied;`butyouhave
always,hitherto,treatedmeasafriend,andthatappellationimpliesacertain
degreeofconfidenceandcandour.’Hepressedmesomuchandsoearnestlyto


discovermysecret,that,havingneveruptothatmomentfelttheslightest
reservetowardshim,Iconfidedtohimnowthewholehistoryofmypassion.He
hearditwithanappearanceofdisapprobation,whichmademetremble;andI
immediatelyrepentedofmyindiscretion,intellinghimofmyintended
elopement.Hetoldmehewastoosincerelymyfriendnottoopposeevery
obstacleinhispowertosuchascheme;thathewouldfirsttryallothermeansof
turningmefromsuchapurpose,butthatifIrefusedtorenouncesofatala
resolution,heassuredlywouldinformsomepersonsofmyintention,whowould
beabletodefeatit.Heheldforthuponthesubjectforafullquarterofanhour,in
themostserioustone,andendedbyagainthreateningtoinformagainstme,ifI
didnotpledgehimmywordthatIwouldreturntothepathsofdiscretionand
reason.
“Iwasindespairathavingsoawkwardlybetrayedmyself.
However,lovehavingwonderfullysharpenedmyintellectduringthelasttwoor
threehours,IrecollectedthatIhadnotyettoldhimofitsbeingmyintentionto
executemyprojectonthefollowingmorning,andIatoncedeterminedto
deceivehimbyalittleequivocation.
“`Tiberge,’saidItohim,`uptothepresentmomentIthoughtyouweremy
friend;andIwishedtoproveitbythetestofconfidence.Itistrue,Iaminlove;I
havenotdeceivedyou:butwithregardtomyflight,thatisaprojectnottobe
undertakenwithoutdeliberation.Callformetomorrowatnineo’clock:youshall
seemymistress,ifitbepossible,andthenjudgewhethersheisnotworthyof
anyriskorsacrificeonmypart.’Heleftme,withathousandprotestationsof
friendship.
Iemployedthenightinpreparingforthejourney,andonrepairingtotheinnat
earlydawn,IfoundManonwaitingmyarrival.Shewasatherwindow,which
lookeduponthestreet,andperceivingmyapproach,shecamedownandopened
thedoorherself.Wetookourdeparturesilently,andwithoutcreatingtheleast
alarm.Shemerelybroughtawayasmallportionofherapparel,ofwhichItook
charge.Thechaisewasinreadiness,andweweresoonatadistancefromthe
town.
“YouwilllearninthesequelwhatwastheconductofTibergewhenhe
discoveredthatIhaddeceivedhim;thathiszealtoservemesufferedno
diminution;andyouwillobservetowhatlengthshisdevotioncarriedhim.How


oughtItogrieve,whenIreflectonthebaseingratitudewithwhichhisaffection
wasalwaysrepaid!
“WemadesuchspeedonourjourneythatbeforenightwereachedSt.Denis.I
rodealongsideofthechaise,whichgaveuslittleopportunityforconversation,
exceptwhilechanginghorses;butwhenwefoundourselvessonearParis,and
outofthereachofdanger,weallowedourselvestimeforrefreshment,not
havingtastedfoodsincewequittedAmiens.PassionatelyinloveasIfeltwith
Manon,sheknewhowtoconvincemethatshewasequallysowithme.Solittle
didwerestrainourfondness,thatwehadnotevenpatiencetoreserveour
caressestillwewerealone.
Thepostilionsandinnkeepersstaredatuswithwonder,andIremarkedthatthey
appearedsurprisedatsuchuncontrollableloveinchildrenofourage.
“OurprojectofmarriagewasforgottenatSt.Denis;wedefraudedtheChurchof
herrights;andfoundourselvesunitedasmanandwifewithoutreflectingonthe
consequences.Itiscertainthatwithmyeasyandconstantdisposition,Ishould
havebeenhappyformywholelife,ifManonhadremainedfaithfultome.The
moreIsawofher,themoreIdiscoveredinhernewperfections.Hermind,her
heart,hergentlenessandbeauty,formedachainatoncesobindingandso
agreeable,thatIcouldhavefoundperfecthappinessinitsenduringinfluence.
Terriblefatality?thatwhichhasbeenthesourceofmydespair,might,undera
slightchangeofcircumstances,haveconstitutedmyhappiness.Ifindmyselfthe
mostwretchedofmankind,bytheforceofthatveryconstancyfromwhichI
mighthavefairlyexpectedtoderivethemostsereneofhumanblisses,andthe
mostperfectrecompenseoflove.
WetookafurnishedapartmentatParis.intheRueV–-,and,asitafterwards
turnedout,tomysorrow,closetothehouseofM.
deB–-,thefamousFermier-general.Threeweekspassed,duringwhichIwasso
absorbedinmypassion,thatInevergaveathoughttomyfamily,nordreamed
ofthedistresswhichmyfatherprobablyfeltatmyabsence.However,asthere
wasyetnothingofprofligacyaboutme,andasManonconductedherselfwith
thestrictestpropriety,thetranquillifeweledservedtorestoremebydegreesto
asenseofduty.
Iresolvedtoeffect,ifpossible,areconciliationwithmyparent.Mymistresswas


tomesoperfectlylovable,thatIcouldnotadoubtherpowerofcaptivatingmy
father,ifIcouldonlyfindthemeansofmakinghimacquaintedwithhergood
conductandmerit.Inaword,Ireliedonobtaininghisconsenttoourmarriage,
havinggivenupallideaofaccomplishingitwithouthisapproval.Imentioned
theprojecttoManon,andexplainedtoherthat,besideseverymotiveoffilial
loveandduty,theweightieroneofnecessityshouldalsohavesomeinfluence;
forourfinancesweresadlyreduced,andIbegantoseethefollyofthinking
them,asIoncedid,inexhaustible.
“Manonreceivedthepropositionwithconsiderablecoldness.
However,thedifficultiesshemade,beingapparentlythesuggestionsof
tendernessalone,orasarisingfromthenaturalfearoflosingme,ifmyfather,
afterlearningouraddress,shouldrefusehisassenttoourunion,Ihadnotthe
smallestsuspicionofthecruelblowshewasattheverytimepreparingtoinflict.
Astotheargumentofnecessity,sherepliedthatwehadstillabundantmeansof
livingforsomeweekslonger,andthatshewouldthenfindaresourceinthe
kindnessofsomerelationsinthecountry,towhomsheshouldwrite.She
temperedheroppositionbycaressessotenderandimpassioned,thatI,wholived
onlyforher,andwhoneverhadtheslightestmisgivingastoherlove,applauded
atonceherargumentsandherresolutions.
“ToManonIhadcommittedthecareofourfinances,andthehouse-hold
arrangements.Inashorttime,Iobservedthatourstyleoflivingwasimproved,
andthatshehadtreatedherselftomoreexpensivedresses.AsIcalculatedthat
wecouldhardlyhaveatthisperiodmorethanfifteenortwentycrowns
remaining,Ididnotconcealmysurpriseatthismysteriousaugmentationofour
wealth.Shebeggedofme,withasmile,togivemyselfnotroubleonthathead.
`DidInotpromiseyou,’saidshe,`thatIwouldfindresources?’Ilovedhertoo
purelytoexperiencetheslightestsuspicion.
“Oneday,havinggoneoutintheafternoon,andtoldherthatIshouldnotbeat
homesoearlyasusual,Iwasastonished,onmyreturn,atbeingdetainedseveral
minutesatthedoor.Ouronlyservantwasayounggirlaboutourownage.On
herlettingmeinatlast,Iaskedwhyshehaddetainedmesolong?Sherepliedin
anembarrassedtone,thatshedidnothearmeknock.`Ionlyknockedonce,’said
I;`soifyoudidnothearme,whycometoopenthedooratall?’Thisquery
disconcertedhersovisibly,thatlosingherpresenceofmind,shebegantocry,
assuringmethatitwasnotherfault;andthathermistresshaddesiredhernotto


openthedooruntilM.deB–-hadhadtimetogodownbythebackstaircase.I
wassoconfoundedbythisinformationastobeutterlyunabletoproceedtoour
apartment;andwasobligedtoleavethehouse,underthepretextofan
appointment.Idesiredthegirl,therefore,tolethermistressknowthatIshould
returninafewminutes,butonnoaccounttosaythatshehadspokentomeof
M.deB–-.
“Myhorrorwassogreat,thatIshedtearsasIwentalong,hardlyknowingfrom
whatfeelingtheyflowed.Ienteredacoffee-housecloseby,andplacingmyself
atatable,Iburiedmyfacebetweenmyhands,asthoughIwouldturnmyeyes
inwardtoascertainwhatwaspassinginmyheart.Still,IdarednotrecallwhatI
hadheardthemomentbefore.Istrovetolookuponitasadream;andwasmore
thanonceonthepointofreturningtomylodgings,determinedtoattachno
importancetowhatIhadheard.
ItappearedtomesoimpossiblethatManoncouldhavebeenunfaithful,thatI
fearedeventowrongherbyasuspicion.Iadoredher—thatwastoocertain;I
hadnotonmypartgivenhermoreproofsofmylovethanIhadreceivedofhers;
whythenshouldIchargeherwithbeinglesssincereandconstantthanmyself?
Whatreasoncouldshehavetodeceiveme?Notthreehoursbefore,shehad
lavisheduponmethemosttendercaresses,andhadreceivedminewith
transport:Iknewherheartasthoroughlyasmyown.`No,no!’Isaid,`itisnot
possiblethatManoncanhavedeceivedme.ShewellknowsthatIlivebutfor
her;thatIadoreher:uponthatpointIcanhavenoreasontobeunhappy.’
“Notwithstandingthesereflections,thevisitofM.deB–-,andhissecret
departure,gavemesomeuneasiness.Iremembered,too,thelittlepurchasesshe
hadlatelymade,whichseemedbeyondourpresentmeans.Thislookedlikethe
liberalityofanewlover.Andtheconfidencewithwhichshehadforetold
resourceswhichweretomeunknown?Ihadsomedifficultyinsolvingthese
mysteriesinasfavourableamannerasmyheartdesired.
“Ontheotherhand,shehadbeenhardlyoutofmysightsinceweenteredParis.
Howeveroccupied,inourwalks,inallouramusements,shewaseveratmyside.
Heavens!evenamomentaryseparationwouldhavebeentoopainful.Icouldnot
thereforeimaginehowManoncould,toanyotherperson,havedevotedasingle
instant.
“AtlastIthoughtIhaddiscoveredacluetothemystery.`M.


deB–-‘saidItomyself,`isamanextensivelyengagedincommercialaffairs;
andManon’srelationshavenodoubtremittedhermoneythroughhishouse.She
hasprobablyalreadyreceivedsomefromhim,andheiscometodaytobringher
more.Shewishes,perhaps,toderiveamusementbyandby,fromanagreeable
surprise,bykeepingmeatpresentinthedark.Shewoulddoubtlesshaveatonce
toldmeall,ifIhadgoneinasusual,insteadofcomingheretodistressmyself:at
allevents,shewillnotconcealitfrommewhenIbroachthesubjectmyself.’
“Icherishedthisideasowillingly,thatitconsiderablylightenedmygrief.I
immediatelyreturnedtomylodgings,andembracedManonastenderlyasever.
Shereceivedmeasusual.
AtfirstIwastemptedtomentionmyconjectures,whichInow,morethanever,
lookeduponascertain;butIrestrainedmyselfinthehopethatshemightrender
itunnecessarybyinformingmeofallthathadpassed.
“Supperwasserved.Assuminganairofgaiety,Itookmyseatattable;butby
thelightofthecandleswhichwerebetweenus,IfanciedIperceivedanairof
melancholyabouttheeyesandcountenanceofmybelovedmistress.Thevery
thoughtsoondampedmygaiety.Iremarkedthatherlooksworeanunusual
expression,andalthoughnothingcouldbemoresoftorlanguishing,Iwasata
losstodiscoverwhethertheyconveyedmoreoflovethanofcompassion.I
gazedatherwithequalearnestness,andsheperhapshadnolessdifficultyin
comprehendingfrommycountenancewhatwaspassinginmyheart.“We
neitherspokenorate.AtlengthIsawtearsstartingfromherbeauteouseyes—
perfidioustears!`Ohheavens!’Icried,`mydearestManon,whyallowyour
sorrowstoafflictyoutothisdegreewithoutimpartingtheircausetome?’She
answeredmeonlywithsighs,whichincreasedmymisery.Iarosetrembling
frommyseat:Iconjuredher,withalltheurgentearnestnessoflove,toletme
knowthecauseofhergrief:Iweptinendeavouringtosoothehersorrows:Iwas
moredeadthanalive.AbarbarianwouldhavepitiedmysufferingsasIstood
tremblingwithgriefandapprehension.
“Whilemyattentionwasthusconfinedtoher,Iheardpeoplecomingupstairs.
Theytappedgentlyatthedoor.Manongavemeakiss,andescapingfrommy
arms,quicklyenteredtheboudoir,turningthekeyafterher.Iimaginedthat,not
beingdressedtoreceivestrangers,shewasunwillingtomeetthepersonswho
hadknocked;Iwenttoletthemin.


“Ihadhardlyopenedthedoor,whenIfoundmyselfseizedbythreemen,whom
Irecognisedasmyfather’sservants.Theyofferednottheleastviolence,buttwo
ofthemtakingmebythearms,thethirdexaminedmypockets,andtookouta
smallknife,theonlyweaponIhadaboutme.Theybeggedpardonforthe
necessitytheywereunderoftreatingmewithapparentdisrespect;tellingme
franklythattheywereactingbytheordersofmyfather,andthatmyeldest
brotherwasinacarriagebelowwaitingtoreceiveme.Myfeelingswereso
overpowered,thatIallowedmyselftobeledawaywithoutmakingeitherreply
orresistance.Ifoundmybrotherwaitingformeastheyhadstated.Theyplaced
mebyhisside,andthecoachmanimmediatelydrove,byhisorders,towardsSt.
Denis.
Mybrotherembracedmemostaffectionately,butduringourride,heutterednot
aword,sothat,asIwasnotinclinedforconversation,IhadasmuchleisureasI
coulddesiretoreflectuponmymisfortunes.


III
Thatwecancallthesedelicatecreaturesours,Andnottheirappetites.
SHAKESPEARE.
“ThewholeaffairwassoinvolvedinobscuritythatIcouldnotseemywayeven
toareasonableconjecture.Iwascruellybetrayed—thatwascertain;butby
whom?Tibergefirstoccurredtome.`Tiberge!’saidI,`itisasmuchasthylifeis
worth,ifmysuspicionsturnouttobewellfounded.’However,Irecollectedthat
hecouldnotbypossibilityknowmyabode;andtherefore,hecouldnothave
furnishedtheinformation.ToaccuseManonwasmorethanmyheartwas
capableof.Theunusualmelancholywithwhichshehadlatelyseemedweighed
down,hertears,thetenderkissshegavemeinparting,madeitallasyeta
mysterytome.Icouldonlylookuponherrecentmelancholyasapresentiment
ofourcommonmisfortune;andwhileIwasdeploringtheeventwhichtoreme
fromher,Iwascredulousenoughtoconsiderherfateasmuchdeservingofpity
asmyown.
“Theresultofmyreflectionswas,thatIhadbeenseenandfollowedinthe
streetsofParisbysomepersonsofmyacquaintance,whohadconveyedthe
informationtomyfather.
Thisideacomfortedme.Imadeupmymindtoencountersomereproaches,or
perhapsharshtreatment,forhavingoutragedthepaternalauthority.Iresolved,
however,tosufferwithpatience,andtopromiseallthatmightberequiredofme,
inordertofacilitatemyspeedyreturntoParis,thatImightrestorelifeand
happinesstomydearManon.
“WesoonarrivedatSt.Denis.Mybrother,surprisedatmylongsilence,thought
ittheeffectoffear.HeassuredmethatIhadnothingtoapprehendfrommy
father’sseverity,providedIshowedadispositiontoreturnquietlytothepathof
duty,andprovemyselfworthyofhisaffection.HemademepassthenightatSt.
Denis,merelytakingtheprecautionofputtingthethreelackeystosleepinmy
room.ItcostmeapangtofindmyselfinthesameinnwhereIhadstoppedwith
ManononourwayfromAmienstoParis.Theinnkeeperandhisservants
recognisedme,andguessedatoncethetruthofmyhistory.Ioverheardthem


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