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- The Physiology of Marriage Part 3 - 6/19 -
"Now wait a moment. I did not know that this was to be a comedy; and although Madame de T----- gave me a part in the play--"
"It wasn't a very nice one."
"Do not worry yourself; there are no bad parts for good actors."
"I understand, you acquitted yourself well."
"And Madame de T-----?"
"To think of being able to win such a woman!" said he, stopping short in our walk, and looking triumphantly at me. "Oh, what pains I have taken with her! And I have at last brought her to a point where she is perhaps the only woman in Paris on whose fidelity a man may infallibly count!"
"You have succeeded--?"
"Yes; in that lies my special talent. Her inconstancy was mere frivolity, unrestrained imagination. It was necessary to change that disposition of hers, but you have no idea of her attachment to me. But really, is she not charming?"
"I quite agree with you."
"And yet /entre nous/ I recognize one fault in her. Nature in giving her everything, has denied her that flame divine which puts the crown on all other endowments; while she rouses in others the ardor of passion, she feels none herself, she is a thing of marble."
"I am compelled to believe you, for I have had no opportunity of judging, but do you think that you know that woman as well as if you were her husband? It is possible to be deceived. If I had not dined yesterday with the veritable--I should take you--"
"By the way, has he been good?"
"Oh, I was received like a dog!"
"I understand. Let us go in, let us look for Madame de T-----. She must be up by this time."
"But should we not out of decency begin with the husband?" I said to him.
"You are right. Let us go to your room, I wish to put on a little powder. But tell me, did he really take you for her lover?"
"You may judge by the way he receives me; but let us go at once to his apartment."
I wished to avoid having to lead him to an apartment whose whereabouts I did not know; but by chance we found it. The door was open and there I saw my /valet de chambre/ asleep on an armchair. A candle was going out on a table beside him. He drowsily offered a night robe to the marquis. I was on pins and needles; but the marquis was in a mood to be easily deceived, took the man for a mere sleepy-head, and made a joke of the matter. We passed on to the apartment of Monsieur de T-----. There was no misunderstanding the reception which he accorded me, and the welcome, the compliments which he addressed to the marquis, whom he almost forced to stay. He wished to take him to madame in order that she might insist on his staying. As for me, I received no such invitation. I was reminded that my health was delicate, the country was damp, fever was in the air, and I seemed so depressed that the chateau would prove too gloomy for me. The marquis offered me his chaise and I accepted it. The husband seemed delighted and we were all satisfied. But I could not refuse myself the pleasure of seeing Madame de T----- once more. My impatience was wonderful. My friend conceived no suspicions from the late sleep of his mistress.
"Isn't this fine?" he said to me as we followed Monsieur de T-----. "He couldn't have spoken more kindly if she had dictated his words. He is a fine fellow. I am not in the least annoyed by this reconciliation; they will make a good home together, and you will agree with me, that he could not have chosen a wife better able to do the honors."
"Certainly," I replied.
"However pleasant the adventure has been," he went on with an air of mystery, "you must be off! I will let Madame de T----- understand that her secret will be well kept."
"On that point, my friend, she perhaps counts more on me than on you; for you see her sleep is not disturbed by the matter."
"Oh! I quite agree that there is no one like you for putting a woman to sleep."
"Yes, and a husband too, and if necessary a lover, my dear friend."
At last Monsieur de T----- was admitted to his wife's apartment, and there we were all summoned.
"I trembled," said Madame de T----- to me, "for fear you would go before I awoke, and I thank you for saving me the annoyance which that would have caused me."
"Madame," I said, and she must have perceived the feeling that was in my tones--"I come to say good-bye."
She looked at me and at the marquis with an air of disquietude; but the self-satisfied, knowing look of her lover reassured her. She laughed in her sleeve with me as if she would console me as well as she could, without lowering herself in my eyes.
"He has played his part well," the marquis said to her in a low voice, pointing to me, "and my gratitude--"
"Let us drop the subject," interrupted Madame de T-----; "you may be sure that I am well aware of all I owe him."
At last Monsieur de T-----, with a sarcastic remark, dismissed me; my friend threw the dust in his eyes by making fun of me; and I paid back both of them by expressing my admiration for Madame de T-----, who made fools of us all without forfeiting her dignity. I took myself off; but Madame de T----- followed me, pretending to have a commission to give me.
"Adieu, monsieur!" she said, "I am indebted to you for the very great pleasure you have given me; but I have paid you back with a beautiful dream," and she looked at me with an expression of subtle meaning. "But adieu, and forever! You have plucked a solitary flower, blossoming in its loveliness, which no man--"
She stopped and her thought evaporated in a sigh; but she checked the rising flood of sensibility and smiled significantly.
"The countess loves you," she said. "If I have robbed her of some transports, I give you back to her less ignorant than before. Adieu! Do not make mischief between my friend and me."
She wrung my hand and left me.
More than once the ladies who had mislaid their fans blushed as they listened to the old gentleman, whose brilliant elocution won their indulgence for certain details which we have suppressed, as too erotic for the present age; nevertheless, we may believe that each lady complimented him in private; for some time afterwards he gave to each of them, as also to the masculine guests, a copy of this charming story, twenty-five copies of which were printed by Pierre Didot. It is from copy No. 24 that the author has transcribed this tale, hitherto unpublished, and, strange to say, attributed to Dorat. It has the merit of yielding important lessons for husbands, while at the same time it gives the celibates a delightful picture of morals in the last century.
Of all the miseries that civil war can bring upon a country the greatest lies in the appeal which one of the contestants always ends by making to some foreign government.
Unhappily we are compelled to confess that all women make this great mistake, for the lover is only the first of their soldiers. It may be a member of their family or at least a distant cousin. This Meditation, then, is intended to answer the inquiry, what assistance can each of the different powers which influence human life give to your wife? or better than that, what artifices will she resort to to arm them against you?
Two beings united by marriage are subject to the laws of religion and society; to those of private life, and, from considerations of health, to those of medicine. We will therefore divide this important Meditation into six paragraphs:
1. OF RELIGIONS AND OF CONFESSION; CONSIDERED IN THEIR CONNECTION WITH MARRIAGE. 2. OF THE MOTHER-IN-LAW. 3. OF BOARDING SCHOOL FRIENDS AND INTIMATE FRIENDS. 4. OF THE LOVER'S ALLIES. 5. OF THE MAID. 6. OF THE DOCTOR.
1. OF RELIGIONS AND OF CONFESSION; CONSIDERED IN THEIR CONNECTION WITH MARRIAGE.
La Bruyere has very wittily said, "It is too much for a husband to have ranged against him both devotion and gallantry; a woman ought to choose but one of them for her ally."
The author thinks that La Bruyere is mistaken.
2. OF THE MOTHER-IN-LAW.
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