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him, and this was enough to make him amorous. He would follow her and her shawl, walking almost on her heels-risking a few words and phrases, which he imagined spiritual, but which were in reality nonsense, like most words and phrases made use of on such occasions. He was seldom honoured with a reply; or if so, merely a dry request to pass on his way. This would not discourage him; persevering in his pursuit, he would follow the lady, wait for her in the street, should she enter a shop, and would not quit her till he had perceived her go into a house; then, resting a long time at the door till he felt assured that the lady would not again make her appearance, he made up his mind that he was acquainted with her abode, and marking down in his pocket-book the number of the house, he would say to himself as he departed, “ I will often come and saunter about here; I shall then be able to see her go out and follow her.” This was what M. Theophilus La Girardière called making a conquest. After such a fashion the man least formed for pleasing might amuse himself with three or four conquests every time he happened to put his foot in the street, providing only that he has time to lose, and a good pair of
But after spending the best years of his existence in the pursuit of shawls, hoods, and little bonnets—without any success in intrigues--without being entitled to the appellation of a " lucky
"--Girardière, afflicted at the ill success of his endeavours, determined to change his sphere of attack, and enter more into society, hoping to be blessed with better fortune there than in the promenades and public places.
Possessing a small fortune, it was not difficult for our hero to gain admittance into many houses, accompanied with invitations to balls, musical soirées, card parties, and even routs.
Besides, Girardière had been well brought up: he had received a tolerably good education; his manners were polite, and he was not absolutely a fool; he might even have passed for amiable, but for his unhappy mania for inspiring every woman with lovea mania which time augmented rather than diminished, and which grew obstinate in spite of reverses.
Into society then, did Girardière carry his æillades, his pretensions, and his sighs. The facility of conversing with those ladies who were so happy as to please him, gave him the idea that he could much sooner arrive at a denouement; that it would be infinitely easier for him to form tender liaisons, and, desiring to make up
for lost time, he had scarcely been three times in a house ere he had made at least four declarations of love.
Poor Theophilus defeated himself by his precipitation. Women in general are not favourable to those men who throw themselves at their heads.
There are ways to conduct an intrigue quickly, so as not to languish near a belle; but these do not consist in running after all the ladies, pressing their hands, and staring fixedly at them for a quarter of an hour at a time, as if they had enamelled eyes.
Every one was amused with the sighs, glances, and declarations of our hero. His sensibility, his promptitude to inflame, became a proverb. In many houses it was no longer said at table, “ This is a very tender fowl,” but jocosely, “This is a fowl à la Girardière." And in France, especially at Paris, where ridicule is a deathblow, this witticism was sufficient to prevent Theophilus from ever triumphing over the heart of a woman.
Night after night, poor Girardière returned home, muttering to himself
, “It is really very singular--really very extraordinary, that I cannot succeed in becoming a mauvais sujet! I try all in my power for it, nevertheless! But the women are afraid of me-I am convinced they are afraid of me--they perhaps fear that by encouraging my advances, they should learn to love me too much.”
One consolation remained to Girardière; of those consolations which never fail us, and towards which we fly to seek relief from the troubles that afflict us. This was a kind mother, who loved him tenderly, who saw in him every quality, every perfection, and who thought that all the world should regard him as she did.
Girardière lived with his mother, who was far advanced in years, and ventured out but rarely. When in the evening, he was preparing to go into society, his good mother would say, gazing on him with admiration: “You are going to some party-to a soirée? "
Yes, mother." “Ah! libertine!-how famously you amuse yourself!-how entirely you give yourself up to pleasure!-I warrant me your whole time is spent in love affairs."
“Oh! mother-what an idea!”
And Girardière smiled as he thus replied, looked at himself in the glass, passed his fingers through his hair, and re-adjusted his coat collar, while his old mother continued :
"Oh! so you will not allow it!but after all, you are quite right-amuse yourself, my child-profit by your youth-you are handsome enough to make plenty of conquests."
"Do you think so?” replied Theophilus, with an air which signified: I am quite of your opinion.
"Do I think som-ah!-mauvais sujet !-you well know how much I have reason to think so; all I ask of you, child, is, that you will not throw yourself into too perilous adventures-for, you must be aware, all husbands do not relish being made you understand
do not stay out so late, little one; the streets of Paris are not always safe.”
Girardière reassured his mother, and issued out, not a little satisfied with what she had said. It was music to his ear to be still addressed as little one, though he had become more than
ordinarily stout. He loved to hear his mother recommend him to make the best of his youth, though he had already reached his thirty-ninth year, as if such expressions could indeed restore him to his boyhood. He descended the staircase humming and making grimaces, sometimes even taking three steps at a time; and all this because his mother had called him “ little one.'
But in spite of the favourable opinion entertained by Madame Girardière of her son, the latter was not a whit more fortunate with the ladies. His triumphs were limited to a few blows with their fans; and sundry blue marks on the arm, were the sole recompenses of his temerity. After being well pinched by the fingers of a pretty woman, on his return home, our hero hastened to throw off his coat and examine his arm, saying:
"The mark is here!—ah! with what force she pinched me no doubt she wishes me to carry some proofs of her regardoh! the wicked one!”
These were the only favours of which Mr. Girardière could boast.
We do not pretend to say, however, that one so sensitive was ever a stranger to the sweets of love. On the contrary, he had maintained several mistresses, but of such a kind, that he could not introduce them into society, and of whose conquest he could therefore make no parade. With the aid of money and presents, he occasionally succeeded in persuading a lady to accompany him to the theatre, or to a traiteur ; and on such day he was particularly careful not to hire a carriage, in order that he might be seen walking with a lady on his arm.
But in such frail liaisons, where the ardent Girardière looked for love, he invariably met with misfortunes. After fifteen days acquaintance he would thus address himself:
"I believe that I am really loved for myself!—I am convinced she is faithful to me-but, then, if I were poor!
A short billet would arrive to the following effect :
“I am truly grieved that it is not in my power to continue any longer our connection. I am compelled to look to the future; and a gentleman of distinction having presented me with a beautiful set of furniture in mahogany, I am under the necessity of accepting it, and I now entreat you never to call again at my apartments; and should we meet, pray do not speak to or recognise me, as you must be aware that by so doing you would compromise my reputation."
It is any thing but agreeable to receive such epistles, especially after having begun to cherish the fondest illusions with regard to the sentiment we imagine we have inspired. Girardière, crumpling the letter with indignation in his hands, and throwing it at his feet, would exclaim:
“Parbleu! she has done well in writing to me-I could have endured her no longer-I never loved her-I should most likely have broken with her to-morrow, but she has saved me the trouble-sordid woman!-selfish heart!-she leaves me because somebody has presented her with a set of furniture in mahogany, and I can only give her walnut. Ah!-fie!—fie!- this is not love this is not the sentiment I am anxious to inspire; the sentiment which has been in my dreams ever since I was conscious that I possessed a heart—but now, at the age of reason!—I will have nothing more to do with women who barter their affections for money!--no-I will have done with them!-as my mother says, I am formed to inspire passions, to turn the heads of the women. Oh! if they knew the extent of love my heart is capable of containing !—they would say to me: “You are the idealist! the model of lovers!'—they would open their arms to receive me. Unfortunately these things are not written on the countenance."
Theophilus Girardière continued to languish in saloons, and to run after ladies in the promenades. But time glided away-time —that pitiless old fellow, who heeds not the rich nor the poor, the prince nor the prelate, the wise man nor the fool; who is deaf to the prayers of beauty, the tears of old age, the graces of infancy-and, after all, it is for the best that he should be equally inexorable to all, for were he to accord his favours to any in particular, there is every reason to believe that real merit would not obtain them, as there would be intriguers in his train, as in the trains of all who are powerful.
M. Girardière had now attained and passed his fortieth year; he commenced to verge closely on fifty; and though his doting old mother, whose head shook with age, and who could scarcely see plainly even with her spectacles, from time to time would say to him
“ Profit by your youth, child; amuse yourself, libertine-but do not stay out too late!"
Our hero began to perceive that his youth, like his hair, was departing to return no more; he was even threatened with baldness, notwithstanding the care he took in combing his hair to bring forward the locks from behind, and to join them together at the sides, which still produced an illusion, when he was not in the open air, but when by accident Girardière found himself bareheaded against the wind, then, alas! arose and were disturbed the long locks assembled with such care, and all the charm was destroyed.
About this time, our sensitive hero, who had not been able to succeed in becoming a mauvais sujet, but who cherished no less at the bottom of his heart his adoration of the fair sex, the besoin d'aimer ; about this time, he began to think of marriage.
For a long time Girardière had laughed at matrimonial ties, and ridiculed the rights of husbands. Persuaded that his youth would be a series of intrigues, of bonnes fortunes, of piquant adventures, he had resolved to prolong his bachelor's state as far as
lay in his power.
But events did not answer his expectations; and perceiving that he was unable to persuade any woman to be his mistress, he determined on taking a wife.
One fine morning, having saluted his mother, who had just risen and established herself in her easy chair, where she passed the chief part of the day, Girardière, after coughing several times, and traversing the room, till he succeeded in bringing round to his forehead two locks of hair which obstinately persisted in falling on his coat collar, approached his mother's chair and said, “Dear mamma, I have something to tell you."
Well, darling, speak, I am all attention. Are you going to tell me of some piquant adventure of which you were the hero? Eh! mauvais sujet?~"
Girardière smiled and caressed his chin; he was ever delighted to be called mauvais sujet, though he very well knew he was nothing of the sort. However he replied,
No, dear mamma, no; it is not of that I wish to speak-it is of something much more serious--of something really important-it is—it is—that I wish to get married.--"
- To get married !--you to get married!"-said the good old woman, uttering an exclamation of surprise; “Good God! ! what has put such an idea into your head? You to be married ! -you, who vowed always to preserve your liberty--who are so happy-who amuse yourself so much—who make so many conquests!"
“Yes, mother, I am aware of the truth of all you say—but a bachelor's life must tire at last; all these light amours are very pleasant certainly, but they leave a void in the heart, whereas the caresses of a wife and children make us acquainted with new delights. The title of father of a family is so highly respectable, and, to say the truth, I desire to do as others do.”
“ Well, child-marry if it please you— I will not prevent you --but there is no hurry-you have plenty of time before you."
And the doting old woman fondly patted the cheeks of her son, and no doubt had she been strong enough, would have again taken him in her arms, and dandled him on her knees. To her, he was ever her little Theophilus, her Benjamin; she never dreamed that the dear child was in his forty-ninth year; she saw not that he grew old; she ever found him young and handsome!--sweet effects of maternal affection—the eyes of a mother are in her heart!
But Girardière, whose eyes were in his head, could not hide from himself the truth, that his youthful days had fled.
" I repeat,” replied he to his mother, “ I repeat, that I am tired of a bachelor's life: I picture to myself a charming idea of the happiness I shall taste in my family, with a wife who adores me, with a wife who will overwhelm you, dear mother, with every attention and forethought; and after all, when one has resolved upon a step, it is folly to recede.”