Letters of Two Brides/Chapter XLIV

Letters of Two Brides by Honore de Balzac

Paris, 1829.

A whole year passed, my dear, without a letter! What does this mean? I am a little hurt. Do you suppose that your Louis, who comes to see me almost every alternate day, makes up for you? It is not enough to know that you are well and that everything prospers with you; for I love you, Renee, and I want to know what you are feeling and thinking of, just as I say everything to you, at the risk of being scolded, or censured, or misunderstood. Your silence and seclusion in the country, at the time when you might be in Paris enjoying all the Parliamentary honors of the Comte de l'Estorade, cause me serious anxiety. You know that your husband's "gift of gab" and unsparing zeal have won for him quite a position here, and he will doubtless receive some very good post when the session is over. Pray, do you spend your life writing him letters of advice? Numa was not so far removed from his Egeria.

Why did you not take this opportunity of seeing Paris? I might have enjoyed your company for four months. Louis told me yesterday that you were coming to fetch him, and would have your third confinement in Paris—you terrible mother Gigogne! After bombarding Louis with queries, exclamations, and regrets, I at last defeated his strategy so far as to discover that his grand-uncle, the godfather of Athenais, is very ill. Now I believe that you, like a careful mother, would be quite equal to angling with the member's speeches and fame for a fat legacy from your husband's last remaining relative on the mother's side. Keep your mind easy, my Renee—we are all at work for Louis, Lenoncourts, Chaulieus, and the whole band of Mme. de Macumer's followers. Martignac will probably put him into the audit department. But if you won't tell me why you bury yourself in the country, I shall be cross.

Tell me, are you afraid that the political wisdom of the house of l'Estorade should seem to centre in you? Or is it the uncle's legacy? Perhaps you were afraid you would be less to your children in Paris? Ah! what I would give to know whether, after all, you were not simply too vain to show yourself in Paris for the first time in your present condition! Vain thing! Farewell.