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After a pause of a few moments, Marius de Tregars, still addressinghimself apparently to his aged companion, went on:

"I repeat it, because it is the truth, my old friend, this life oflabor and privation, so new to me, was not a burden. Calm, silence,the constant exercise of all the faculties of the intellect, havecharms which the vulgar can never suspect. I was happy to think,that, if I was ruined, it was through an act of my own will. I founda positive pleasure in the fact that I, the Marquis de Tregars, whohad had a hundred thousand a year - I must the next moment go out inperson to the baker's and the green-grocer's to purchase my suppliesfor the day. I was proud to think that it was to my labor alone, tothe work for which I was paid by Marcolet, that I owed the means ofprosecuting my task. And, from the summits where I was carried onthe wings of science, I took pity on your modern existence, on thatridiculous and tragical medley of passions, interests, and cravings;that struggle without truce or mercy, whose law is, woe to the weak,in which whosoever falls is trampled under feet.

"Sometimes, however, like a fire that has been smouldering underthe ashes, the flame of youthful passions blazed up within me. Ihad hours of madness, of discouragement, of distress, during whichsolitude was loathsome to me. But I had the faith which raisesmountains - faith in myself and my work. And soon, tranquilized, Iwould go to sleep in the purple of hope, beholding in the vista ofthe distant future the triumphal arches erected to my success.

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"Such was my situation, when, one afternoon in the month of Februarylast, after an experiment upon which I had founded great hopes, andwhich had just miserably failed, I came here to breathe a littlefresh air.

"It was a beautiful spring day, warm and sunny. The sparrows werechirping on the branches, swelled with sap: bands of children wererunning along the alleys, filling the air with their joyous screams.

"I was sitting upon a bench, ruminating over the causes of my failure,when two ladies passed by me; one somewhat aged, the other quiteyoung. They were walking so rapidly, that I hardly had time tosee them.

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"But the young lady's step, the noble simplicity of her carriage,had struck me so much, that I rose to follow her with the intentionof passing her, and then walking back to have a good view of herface. I did so; and I was fairly dazzled. At the moment when myeyes met hers, a voice rose within me, crying that it was all overnow, and that my destiny was fixed.""I remember, my dear boy," remarked the old soldier in a tone offriendly raillery; "for you came to see me that night, and I hadnot seen you for months before."Marius proceeded without heeding the remark.

"And yet you know that I am not the man to yield to first impression.

I struggled: with determined energy I strove to drive off thatradiant image which I carried within my soul, which left me no more,which haunted me in the midst of my studies.

"Vain efforts. My thoughts obeyed me no longer - my will escapedmy control. It was indeed one of those passions that fill the wholebeing, overpower all, and which make of life an ineffable felicityor a nameless torture, according that they are reciprocated, or not.

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How many days I spent there, waiting and watching for her of whom Ihad thus had a glimpse, and who ignored my very existence! And whatinsane palpitations, when, after hours of consuming anxiety, I sawat the corner of the street the undulating folds of her dress! Isaw her thus often, and always with the same elderly person, hermother. They had adopted in this square a particular bench, wherethey sat daily, working at their sewing with an assiduity and zealwhich made me think that they lived upon the product of their labor."Here he was suddenly interrupted by his companion. The old gentlemanfeared that Mme. Favoral's attention might at last be attracted bytoo direct allusions.

"Take care, boy!" he whispered, not so low, however, but whatGilberte overheard him.

But it would have required much more than this to draw Mme. Favoralfrom her sad thoughts. She had just finished her band of tapestry;and, grieving to lose a moment: