I dared not say no.
But, when they spied him, the dancers separated, and Sidonie walked quickly to him. You here? What are you doing? They are looking everywhere for you. As she spoke she retied his cravat with a pretty, impatient gesture. That enchanted Risler, who smiled at Sigismond from the corner of his eye, too overjoyed at feeling the touch of that little gloved hand on his neck, to notice that she was trembling to the ends of her slender fingers.
The white bridal gown with its long train made the badly cut, awkwardly worn black coat appear even more uncouth; but a coat can not be retied like a cravat; she must needs take it as it was. As they passed along, returning the salutations of all the guests who were so eager to smile upon them, Sidonie had a momentary thrill of pride, of satisfied vanity. Unhappily it did not last. In a corner of the room sat a young and attractive woman whom nobody invited to dance, but who looked on at the dances with a placid eye, illumined by all the joy of a first maternity.
As soon as he saw her, Risler walked straight to the corner where she sat and compelled Sidonie to sit beside her. You are so good.
She needs your advice, your knowledge of the world. We have reason to be fond of each other still. And her calm, straightforward glance strove unsuccessfully to meet that of her old friend. With his ignorance of women, and his habit of treating Sidonie as a child, Risler continued in the same tone:. There are not two people in the world like Madame Chorche. A true Fromont! Sidonie, with her eyes cast down, bowed without replying, while an imperceptible shudder ran from the tip of her satin shoe to the topmost bit of orange-blossom in her crown. But honest Risler saw nothing. The excitement, the dancing, the music, the flowers, the lights made him drunk, made him mad.
He believed that every one breathed the same atmosphere of bliss beyond compare which enveloped him. He had no perception of the rivalries, the petty hatreds that met and passed one another above all those bejewelled foreheads. He did not notice Delobelle, standing with his elbow on the mantel, one hand in the armhole of his waistcoat and his hat upon his hip, weary of his eternal attitudinizing, while the hours slipped by and no one thought of utilizing his talents.
He did not notice M. Chebe, who was prowling darkly between the two doors, more incensed than ever against the Fromonts. One would have said that one of themselves was being married. Who had a word to say of the Rislers or the Chebes?
Why, he—he, the father, had not even been presented! Furthermore, there were at this, as at almost all wedding-parties, two distinct currents which came together but without mingling. One of the two soon gave place to the other. The Fromonts, who irritated Monsieur Chebe so much and who formed the aristocracy of the ball, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, the syndic of the solicitors, a famous chocolate-manufacturer and member of the Corps Legislatif, and the old millionaire Gardinois, all retired shortly after midnight.
Georges Fromont and his wife entered their carriage behind them.
Only the Risler and Chebe party remained, and the festivity at once changed its aspect, becoming more uproarious. Inexpensive little costumes were displayed upon the benches, overjoyed to produce their due effect at last; and here and there divers young shop-clerks, consumed with conceit, amused themselves by venturing upon a quadrille.
The bride had long wished to take her leave. At last she disappeared with Risler and Madame Chebe. As for Monsieur Chebe, who had recovered all his importance, it was impossible to induce him to go. Some one must be there to do the honors, deuce take it! And I assure you that the little man assumed the responsibility! He was flushed, lively, frolicsome, noisy, almost seditious.
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Through the deserted streets the wedding-carriage, the tired coachman holding the white reins somewhat loosely, rolled heavily toward the Marais. Madame Chebe talked continuously, enumerating all the splendors of that memorable day, rhapsodizing especially over the dinner, the commonplace menu of which had been to her the highest display of magnificence. Once he tried to take possession of a little white hand that rested against the closed window, but it was hastily withdrawn, and he sat there without moving, lost in mute admiration.
There they stopped first, and Madame Chebe alighted at her door, which was too narrow for the magnificent green silk frock, so that it vanished in the hall with rustlings of revolt and with all its folds muttering.
Fromont Jeune Et Risler Aine : Alphonse Daudet :
A few minutes later, a tall, massive portal on the Rue des Vieilles-Haudriettes, bearing on the escutcheon that betrayed the former family mansion, beneath half-effaced armorial bearings, a sign in blue letters, Wall Papers, was thrown wide open to allow the wedding-carriage to pass through. Thereupon the bride, hitherto motionless and like one asleep, seemed to wake suddenly, and if all the lights in the vast buildings, workshops or storehouses, which surrounded the courtyard, had not been extinguished, Risler might have seen that pretty, enigmatical face suddenly lighted by a smile of triumph.
The wheels revolved less noisily on the fine gravel of a garden, and soon stopped before the stoop of a small house of two floors. It was there that the young Fromonts lived, and Risler and his wife were to take up their abode on the floor above. The house had an aristocratic air. Flourishing commerce avenged itself therein for the dismal street and the out-of-the-way quarter.
Alsina Y Ripoll (Fromont Jeune Et Risler Ainé)
There was a carpet on the stairway leading to their apartment, and on all sides shone the gleaming whiteness of marble, the reflection of mirrors and of polished copper. While Risler was parading his delight through all the rooms of the new apartment, Sidonie remained alone in her bedroom. By the light of the little blue lamp hanging from the ceiling, she glanced first of all at the mirror, which gave back her reflection from head to foot, at all her luxurious surroundings, so unfamiliar to her; then, instead of going to bed, she opened the window and stood leaning against the sill, motionless as a statue.
The night was clear and warm. She could see distinctly the whole factory, its innumerable unshaded windows, its glistening panes, its tall chimney losing itself in the depths of the sky, and nearer at hand the lovely little garden against the ancient wall of the former mansion. All about were gloomy, miserable roofs and squalid streets. Suddenly she started. Yonder, in the darkest, the ugliest of all those attics crowding so closely together, leaning against one another, as if overweighted with misery, a fifth-floor window stood wide open, showing only darkness within.
She recognized it at once.
It was the window of the landing on which her parents lived. How many things the mere name recalled! How many hours, how many days she had passed there, leaning on that damp sill, without rail or balcony, looking toward the factory. In Paris the common landing is like an additional room, an enlargement of their abodes, to poor families confined in their too small apartments. They go there to get a breath of air in summer, and there the women talk and the children play. This landing, on the upper floor of an old house in which space had not been spared, formed a sort of large lobby, with a high ceiling, guarded on the staircase side by a wrought-iron rail, lighted by a large window which looked out upon roofs, courtyards, and other windows, and, farther away, upon the garden of the Fromont factory, which was like a green oasis among the huge old walls.
There was nothing very cheerful about it, but the child liked it much better than her own home. Their rooms were dismal, especially when it rained and Ferdinand did not go out. With his brain always smoking with new ideas, which unfortunately never came to anything, Ferdinand Chebe was one of those slothful, project-devising bourgeois of when there are so many in Paris. His wife, whom he had dazzled at first, had soon detected his utter insignificance, and had ended by enduring patiently and with unchanged demeanor his continual dreams of wealth and the disasters that immediately followed them.
For a very long time M. Chebe had sought a place which would enable him to eke out their slender income. But he sought it only in what he called standing business, his health forbidding any occupation that required him to be seated. It seemed that, soon after his marriage, when he was in a flourishing business and had a horse and tilbury of his own, the little man had had one day a serious fall.
Fromont Jeune Et Risler Aine : Moeur Parisiennes
That fall, to which he referred upon every occasion, served as an excuse for his indolence. One could not be with M. Chebe five minutes before he would say in a confidential tone:. Since that famous fall any sort of office work made him dizzy, and he had found himself inexorably confined to standing business. Thus, he had been in turn a broker in wines, in books, in truffles, in clocks, and in many other things beside. Unluckily, he tired of everything, never considered his position sufficiently exalted for a former business man with a tilbury, and, by gradual degrees, by dint of deeming every sort of occupation beneath him, he had grown old and incapable, a genuine idler with low tastes, a good-for-nothing.
Artists are often rebuked for their oddities, for the liberties they take with nature, for that horror of the conventional which impels them to follow by-paths; but who can ever describe all the absurd fancies, all the idiotic eccentricities with which a bourgeois without occupation can succeed in filling the emptiness of his life? Chebe imposed upon himself certain rules concerning his goings and comings, and his walks abroad. They would be nice for our dessert.
And the husband would go out, saunter along the boulevard by the shops, wait for the omnibus, and pass half the day in procuring two cakes, worth three sous, which he would bring home in triumph, wiping his forehead. Chebe adored the summer, the Sundays, the great footraces in the dust at Clamart or Romainville, the excitement of holidays and the crowd. He was one of those who went about for a whole week before the fifteenth of August, gazing at the black lamps and their frames, and the scaffoldings.
Nor did his wife complain. At all events, she no longer had that chronic grumbler prowling around her chair for whole days, with schemes for gigantic enterprises, combinations that missed fire in advance, lamentations concerning the past, and a fixed determination not to work at anything to earn money. She no longer earned anything herself, poor woman; but she knew so well how to save, her wonderful economy made up so completely for everything else, that absolute want, although a near neighbor of such impecuniosity as theirs, never succeeded in making its way into those three rooms, which were always neat and clean, or in destroying the carefully mended garments or the old furniture so well concealed beneath its coverings.