The pavilion, therefore, stands at the centre of this round open space, which extends before it and behind it in the shape of two horseshoes. About four in the afternoon on the fifteenth of November, 1803, the sun was casting what looked like scarlet dust upon the venerable tops of four rows of elms in a long baronial avenue, and sparkling on the sand and grassy places of an immense rond-point, such as we often see in the country where land is cheap enough to be sacrificed to ornament. The time-worn look of everything, the deep silence of the woods, the long perspective of the avenue, the forest in the distance, the rusty iron-work, the masses of stone draped with velvet mosses, all made poetry of this old structure, which still exists. The head-keeper, to the horror of many, was present at the execution of the marquis and his wife in his capacity as president of the club of Jacobins at Arcis. Rumor said that Marion was about to sell the property to his companion, who had profited by political events and had just been appointed on the Council of State by the First Consul, in return for his services on the 18th Brumaire. Unfortunately, at the very moment when public opinion was condoning his past a foolish affair, envenomed by the gossip of the country-side, revived the latent and very general belief in the ferocity of his character.
But it doesn't suit me to keep an estate once belonging to a family in which my father was— —a servant, said Michu, violently. She lived for her cousins the twins, with whom she had played in childhood at Troyes and at Gondreville. This man, a lawyer before and after the Revolution, was afraid of the keeper; he made him his bailiff with a salary of three thousand francs, and gave him an interest in the sales of timber; Michu, who was thought to have some ten thousand francs of his own laid by, married the daughter of a tanner at Troyes, an apostle of the Revolution in that town, where he was president of the revolutionary tribunal. After the death of the Grand Marquis this pavilion fell into disuse. One evening, coming away from Troyes in company with several peasants, among whom was the farmer at Cinq-Cygne, he let fall a paper on the main road; the farmer, who was walking behind him, stooped and picked it up. Her only brother, Jules de Cinq-Cygne, who emigrated before the twins, died at Mayence, but by a privilege which was somewhat rare and will be mentioned later, the name of Cinq-Cygne was not to perish through lack of male heirs.
Accused of corresponding with the Duke of Brunswick and the Prince of Cobourg, the marquis and his wife were thrust into prison and condemned to death by the revolutionary tribunal of Troyes, of which Madame Michu's father was then president. This noble structure is of brick, with vermiculated stone-work at the angles and on the casings of the doors and windows. Nor was it the only circumstance which made him feared. But when the Mountain was overthrown and after his father-in-law committed suicide, he found himself a scape-goat; everybody hastened to accuse him, in common with his father-in-law, of acts to which, so far as he was concerned, he was a total stranger. The purchaser of the estate was a man from Arcis named Marion, grandson of a former bailiff in the Simeuse family. The hair, cropped close in front and allowed to grow long at the sides and on the back of the head, brought into relief, by its savage redness, all the strange and fateful peculiarities of this singular face. But after the 18th Brumaire he maintained an unbroken silence, the philosophy of the strong; he struggled no longer against public opinion, and contented himself with attending to his own affairs,—wise conduct, which led his neighbors to pronounce him sly, for he owned, it was said, a fortune of not less than a hundred thousand francs in landed property.
Then you were holding the estate for him? No, answered Michu, but a brute I do not wish to miss, a lynx. Michu's action was so sudden and violent, the tone of his voice so alarming, his eyes blazed so savagely, that the men about him turned cold with fear. Gleaming red whiskers framed this face, which was white and yet mottled in spots. Michu turned round, saw the paper in the man's hands, pulled a pistol from his belt and threatened the farmer who knew how to read to blow his brains out if he opened the paper. His grandfather had been bailiff of the estate under the Simeuse family, and all Arcis took for granted that the citizen Marion was the secret representative of the present Marquis and his twin brother. Rain had refreshed the earth during the month of October, so that the trees were still green and leafy in November. In the first place, he spent nothing; next, this property was legitimately acquired, partly from the inheritance of his father-in-law's estate, and partly from the savings of six-thousand francs a year, the salary he derived from his place with its profits and emoluments.
An Historical Mystery : The Gondreville Mystery. The rond-point was the scene of the meet in the time of the Grand Marquis—a name given in the family to the Simeuse who built Gondreville. He had been bailiff of Gondreville for the last twelve years and every one had estimated the probable amount of his savings, so that when, after the Consulate was proclaimed, he bought a farm for fifty thousand francs, the suspicions attaching to his former opinions lessened, and the community of Arcis gave him credit for intending to recover himself in public estimation. His grandfather had been bailiff of the estate under the Simeuse family, and all Arcis took for granted that the citizen Marion was the secret representative of the present Marquis and his twin brother. It may be well to give, without further delay, the reasons for this fear,—all the more because an account of them will complete the moral portrait of the man. At this moment the sunbeams, falling in long lines athwart the group, lighted up the three heads at which the dog from time to time glanced up.
The bailiff resented the injustice of the community; he stiffened his back and took an attitude of hostility. This affair between Michu and the farmer made a great noise in the arrondissement and darkened the already mysterious shadows which seemed to veil him. The shrewd heads of the little town of Arcis now perceived that Marion had been the agent of Malin in the purchase of the property, and not of the brothers Simeuse, as was first supposed. He had obtained for one of his political friends the prefecture of Troyes, and for a farmer at Gondreville the exemption of his son from the draft; in fact, he had done services to many. The air was so pure, the atmosphere so tempered that a family was sitting out of doors as if it were summer. But it doesn't suit me to keep an estate once belonging to a family in which my father was— —a servant, said Michu, violently.
The terror he inspired in his wife, his mother-in-law, a servant-lad named Gaucher, and the cook named Marianne, was shared throughout a neighborhood of twenty miles in circumference. Nor was it the only circumstance which made him feared. The all-powerful Councillor of State was the most important personage in Arcis. The Other Side of War was published in 1888, and Life of Balzac in 1892. No, answered Michu, but a brute I do not wish to miss, a lynx. The spot on which this scene took place was magnificently fine.
He is the friend of the First Consul, and very intimate with all the ministers; he will protect you. It may be well to give, without further delay, the reasons for this fear,—all the more because an account of them will complete the moral portrait of the man. Michu had turned the rooms on the lower floor into a stable, a kitchen, and a wood-shed. The animal had just raised its head and was snuffing the air, first down the avenue nearly a mile long which stretched before them, and then up the cross road where it entered the rond-point to the left. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1954, pp. The marquis sold Simeuse to the Duc de Lorraine. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.
The marquis, among the richest men of his day, instead of wasting his substance at court, built the chateau of Gondreville, enlarged the estate by the purchase of others, and united the several domains, solely for the purposes of a hunting-ground. The mouth, half-open, as the custom usually is among country-people, showed teeth that were strong and white as almonds, but irregular. No one, therefore, except Michu, looked into the past of this affair, which the community accepted as a simple matter. The marquis, among the richest men of his day, instead of wasting his substance at court, built the chateau of Gondreville, enlarged the estate by the purchase of others, and united the several domains, solely for the purposes of a hunting-ground. She lived for her cousins the twins, with whom she had played in childhood at Troyes and at Gondreville.