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- The Idol of Paris - 1/45 -


THE IDOL OF PARIS

by SARAH BERNHARDT

1921 (English Edition)

CONTENTS

PART ONE: PARIS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

PART TWO: BRUSSELS

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

PART THREE: THE COUNTRY

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

PART FOUR: THE CHÂTEAU

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

PART I. PARIS

CHAPTER I

In the dining-room of a fine house on the Boulevard Raspail all the Darbois family were gathered together about the round table, on which a white oil cloth bordered with gold-medallioned portraits of the line of French kings served as table cover at family meals.

The Darbois family consisted of François Darbois, professor of philosophy, a scholar of eminence and distinction; of Madame Darbois, his wife, a charming gentle little creature, without any pretentions; of Philippe Renaud, brother of Madame Darbois, an honest and able business man; of his son, Maurice Renaud, twenty-two and a painter, a fine youth filled with confidence because of the success he had just achieved at the last Salon; of a distant cousin, the family counsellor, a tyrannical landlord and self-centered bachelor, Adhemar Meydieux, and the child of whom he was godfather, and around whom all this particular little world revolved.

Esperance Darbois, the only daughter of the philosopher, was fifteen years old. She was long and slim without being angular. The flower head that crowned this slender stem was exquisitely fair, with the fairness of a little child, soft pale-gold, fair. Her face had, indeed, no strictly sculptural beauty; her long flax-coloured eyes were not large, her nose had no special character; only her sensitive and clear-cut nostrils gave the pretty face its suggestion of ancient lineage. Her mouth was a little large, and her full red lips opened on singularly white teeth as even as almonds; while a low Grecian forehead and a neck graceful in every curve gave Esperance a total effect of aristocratic distinction that was beyond dispute. Her low vibrant voice produced an impression that was almost physical on those who heard it. Quite without intention, she introduced into every word she spoke several inflections which made her manner of pronounciation peculiarly her own.

Esperance was kneeling on a chair, leaning upon her arms on the table. Her blue dress, cut like a blouse, was held in at the waist by a narrow girdle knotted loosely. Although the child was arguing vigorously, with intense animation, there was such grace in her gestures, such charming vibrations in her voice, that it was impossible to resent her combative attitude.

"Papa, my dear papa," she was asserting to François Darbois, "You are saying to-day just the opposite of what you were saying the other day to mother at dinner."

Her father raised his head. Her mother, on the contrary, dropped hers a little. "Pray Heaven," she was saying to herself, "that François does not get angry with her!"

The godfather moved his chair forward; Philippe Renaud laughed; Maurice looked at his cousin with amazement.

"What are you saying?" asked François Darbois.

Esperance gazed at him tenderly. "You remember my godfather was dining with us and there had been a lot of talk; my godfather was against allowing any liberty to women, and he maintained that children have no right to choose their own careers, but must, without reasoning, give way to their parents, who alone are to decide their fates."

Adhemar wished to take the floor and cleared his throat in preparation, but François Darbois, evidently a little nonplused, muttered, "And then after that--what are you coming to?"

"To what you answered, papa."

Her father looked at her a little anxiously, but she met his glance calmly and continued: "You said to my godfather, 'My dear Meydieux, you are absolutely mistaken. It is the right and the duty of everyone to select and to construct his future for himself.'"

Darbois attempted to speak....

"You even told mama, who had never known it, that grandfather wanted to place you in business, and that you rebelled."

"Ah! rebelled," murmured Darbois, with a slight shrug.

"Yes, rebelled. And you added, 'My father cut off my allowance for a year, but I stuck to it; I tutored poor students who couldn't get through their examinations, I lived from hand to mouth, but I did live, and I was able to continue my studies in philosophy.'"

Uncle Renaud was openly nodding encouragement. Adhemar Meydieux rose heavily, and straightening up with a succession of jerky movements, caught himself squarely on his heels, and then, with great conviction, said: "See here, child, if I were your father, I should take you by the ear and put you out of the room."

Esperance turned purple.

"I repeat, children should obey without question!"


The Idol of Paris - 1/45

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