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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Parisians - Book 6 - Chapter 8
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The Parisians - Book 6 - Chapter 8 Post by :edwinc Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :2768

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The Parisians - Book 6 - Chapter 8

BOOK VI CHAPTER VIII

If Graham Vane had been before caressed and courted for himself, he was more than ever appreciated by polite society, now that he added the positive repute of wealth to that of a promising intellect. Fine ladies said that Graham Vane was a match for any girl. Eminent politicians listened to him with a more attentive respect, and invited him to selecter dinner-parties. His cousin the Duke urged him to announce his candidature for the county, and purchase back, at least, the old Stamm-schloss. But Graham obstinately refused to entertain either proposal, continued to live as economically as before in his old apartments, and bore with an astonishing meekness of resignation the unsolicited load of fashion heaped upon his shoulders. At heart he was restless and unhappy. The mission bequeathed to him by Richard King haunted his thoughts like a spectre not to be exorcised. Was his whole life to be passed in the weary sustainment of an imposture which in itself was gall and wormwood to a nature constitutionally frank and open? Was he forever to appear a rich man and live as a poor one? Was he till his deathbed to be deemed a sordid miser whenever he refused a just claim on his supposed wealth, and to feel his ambition excluded from the objects it earnestly coveted, and which he was forced to appear too much of an Epicurean philosopher to prize?

More torturing than all else to the man's innermost heart was the consciousness that he had not conquered, could not conquer, the yearning love with which Isaura had inspired him, and yet that against such love all his reasonings, all his prejudices, more stubbornly than ever were combined. In the French newspapers which he had glanced over while engaged in his researches in Germany-nay, in German critical journals themselves--he had seen so many notices of the young author,--highly eulogistic, it is true, but which to his peculiar notions were more offensive than if they had been sufficiently condemnatory of her work to discourage her from its repetition; notices which seemed to him the supreme impertinences which no man likes exhibited towards the woman to whom he would render the chivalrous homage of respect. Evidently this girl had become as much public property as if she had gone on the stage. Minute details of her personal appearance,--of the dimples on her cheek, of the whiteness of her arms, of her peculiar way of dressing her hair; anecdotes of her from childhood (of course invented, but how could Graham know that?); of the reasons why she had adopted the profession of author instead of that of the singer; of the sensation she had created in certain salons (to Graham, who knew Paris so well, salons in which he would not have liked his wife to appear); of the compliments paid to her by grands seigneurs noted for their liaisons with ballet-dancers, or by authors whose genius soared far beyond the flammantia maenia of a world confined by respect for one's neighbours' land-marks,--all this, which belongs to ground of personal gossip untouched by English critics of female writers, ground especially favoured by Continental, and, I am grieved to say, by American journalists,--all this was to the sensitive Englishman much what the minute inventory of Egeria's charms would have been to Numa Pompilius. The nymph, hallowed to him by secret devotion, was vulgarized by the noisy hands of the mob, and by the popular voices, which said, "We know more about Egeria than you do." And when he returned to England, and met with old friends familiar to Parisian life, who said, "of course you have read the Cicogna's roman. What do you think of it? Very fine writing, I dare say, but above me. I go in for 'Les Mysteres de Paris' or 'Monte Cristo;' but I even find Georges Sand a bore," then as a critic Graham Vane fired up, extolled the roman he would have given his ears for Isaura never to have written; but retired from the contest muttering inly, "How can I--I, Graham Vane--how can I be such an idiot; how can I in every hour of the twenty-four sigh to myself, 'What are other women to me? Isaura, Isaura!'"

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