Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/311

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


CHAPTER X.


THE FLAME WHICH WOULD BE SEEN IF MAN WERE TRANSPARENT.


WHAT! this woman; this extravagant thing; this libidinous dreamer; this bold creature under a princess's coronet; this Diana through pride, not yet captured merely because chance had so willed it; this illegitimate daughter of a low-lived king who had not the intellect to keep his place; this duchess by a lucky hit, who being a fine lady played the goddess, but who had she been poor would have been a prostitute,—this appropriator of a proscribed man's goods, this overbearing strumpet, because one day, he, Barkilphedro, had not money enough to buy his dinner, and to get a lodging, had had the impudence to seat him at the corner of a table in her house, and to put him up in some hole in her intolerable palace. Where? Never mind where; perhaps in the barn, perhaps in the cellar, what does it matter?—a little better than her valets, a little worse than her horses. She had taken advantage of his distress (his, Barkilphedro's) in hastening to do him a pretended favour,—a thing which the rich do in order to humiliate the poor, and attach them to their pretended benefactors like curs led by a string. Besides, what had the service she rendered him cost her? A service is worth what it costs, and no more. She had too many rooms in her house, so she came to Barkilphedro's aid! A great boon, indeed! Had she eaten a spoonful the less