Open main menu

Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/312

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
272
THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.

of turtle soup for it? Had she deprived herself of any of her superfluous luxuries? No. She had only added another to them,—a good action like a ring on her finger,—the relief of a man of wit, the patronage of a clergyman. She could give herself airs; say, "I lavish kindness; I fill the mouths of men of letters; I am his benefactress. How lucky the wretch was to find me out! What a patroness of the arts I am!" All for having set up a truckle-bed in a wretched garret in the roof.

As for the place in the Admiralty which Barkilphedro owed to Josiana,—by Jove! a petty appointment that! Josiana had made Barkilphedro what he was! She had created him! Be it so. Created nothing,—less than nothing; for in his absurd situation he felt borne down, tongue-tied, disfigured. What did he owe Josiana? The thanks due from a hunchback to the mother who bore him deformed. Behold your privileged ones, your folks overwhelmed with fortune, your parvenus, your favourites of that horrid step-mother, Fortune! And here, Barkilphedro, a man of talent, was obliged to wait on staircases, to bow to footmen, to climb to the top of the house at night, to be courteous, assiduous, pleasant, respectful, and to have a respectful grimace ever on his face! Was it not enough to make him gnash his teeth with rage! And all the while she was putting pearls round her neck, and making amorous poses for that fool Lord David Dirry-Moir,—the hussy!

Never let any one do you a service; he is sure to abuse the advantage it gives him. Never allow yourself to be found in a state of starvation,—some one will relieve you. Because Barkilphedro was starving, this woman had thought it a sufficient pretext to give him bread; from that moment he was her servant! A craving of the stomach, and you are chained for life! To be under obligations is to be a slave. The happy, the