Là-bas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 265 pages of information about L-bas.

CHAPTER XI

Contrary to his expectations, he slept all night, with clenched fists, and woke next morning quite calm, even gay.  The scene of the night before, which ought to have exacerbated his senses, produced exactly the opposite effect.  The truth is that Durtal was not of those who are attracted by difficulties.  He always made one hardy effort to surmount them, then when that failed he would withdraw, with no desire to renew the combat.  If Mme. Chantelouve thought to entice him by delays, she had miscalculated.  This morning, already, he was weary of the comedy.

His reflections began to be slightly tinged with bitterness.  He was angry at the woman for having wished to keep him in suspense, and he was angry at himself for having permitted her to make a fool of him.  Then certain expressions, the impertinence of which had not struck him at first, chilled him now.  “Her nervous trick of laughing, which sometimes caught her in public places,” then her declaration that she did not need his permission, nor even his person, in order to possess him, seemed to him unbecoming, to say the least, and uncalled for, as he had not run after her nor indeed made any advances to her at all.

“I will fix you,” he said, “when I get some hold over you.”

But in the calm awakening of this morning the spell of the woman had relaxed.  Resolutely he thought, “Keep two dates with her.  This one tonight at her house.  It won’t count, because nothing can be done.  For I intend neither to allow myself to be assaulted nor to attempt an assault.  I certainly have no desire to be caught by Chantelouve in flagrante delicto, and probably get into a shooting scrape and be haled into police court.  Have her here once.  If she does not yield then, why, the matter is closed.  She can go and tickle somebody else.”

And he made a hearty breakfast, and sat down to his writing table and ran over the scattered notes for his book.

“I had got,” he said, glancing at his last chapter, “to where the alchemic experiments and diabolic evocations have proved unavailing.  Prelati, Blanchet, all the sorcerers and sorcerers’ helpers whom the Marshal has about him, admit that to bring Satan to him Gilles must make over his soul and body to the Devil or commit crimes.

“Gilles refuses to alienate his existence and sell his soul, but he contemplates murder without any horror.  This man, so brave on the battlefield, so courageous when he accompanied Jeanne d’Arc, trembles before the Devil and is afraid when he thinks of eternity and of Christ.  The same is true of his accomplices.  He has made them swear on the Testament to keep the secret of the confounding turpitudes which the chateau conceals, and he can be sure that not one will violate the oath, for, in the Middle Ages, the most reckless of freebooters would not commit the inexpiable sin of deceiving God.

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Là-bas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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