Second great adventure
June 22, 2020
It is true that this arrangement has been criticized by the good heads of the place. Once, it was a Sunday, four years ago, Mr. de Rênal, returning from church in mayor's costume, saw old Sorel from afar, surrounded by his three sons, smiling as he looked at him. This smile carried a fatal day in the soul of Mr. Mayor, he thinks since then that he could have obtained the exchange at a cheaper price.
The next day, at five o'clock, before Mme de Rênal was visible, Julien had obtained a three-day leave from her husband. Against his expectation, Julien found himself wanting to see her again, he was thinking of her beautiful hand. He went down to the garden, and Mme de Rênal made him wait a long time. But if Julien had loved her, he would have seen her behind the half-closed shutters on the second floor, her forehead leaning against the window. She was looking at him. Finally, despite her resolutions, she determined to appear in the garden. Her usual pallor had given way to the brightest colors. Such a naive woman was obviously agitated: a feeling of constraint and even anger altered this expression of deep serenity and as if above all the vulgar interests of life, which gave so much charm to this celestial figure.
It was the turn of Julian, who had been waiting for an hour and a half to speak with boredom. His answer was perfect, and above all as long as a command; it let everything be heard, and yet said nothing clearly. One would have found at the same time respect for Mr. de Rênal, veneration for the public of Verrières and recognition for the illustrious sub-prefect. This sub-prefect, astonished to find more Jesuits than him, tried in vain to obtain something precise. Julien, delighted, seized the opportunity to practice, and began again his answer in other words. Never an eloquent minister, who wants to use the end of a session where the House seems to want to wake up, has said less in addition to more words. As soon as Mr. de Maugiron came out, Julien started laughing like crazy. To take advantage of his Jesuitic verve, he wrote a nine-page letter to M. de Rênal, in which he gave him an account of everything he had been told, and humbly asked his advice. This rascal, however, did not tell me the name of the person making the offer! It will be Mr. Valenod who sees in my exile in Verrières the effect of his anonymous letter.
The reader will be kind enough to allow us to give very few clear and precise facts about this period of Julien's life. It is not that we miss them, on the contrary; but perhaps what he saw at the seminary is too black for the moderate colors that we have tried to preserve in these leaves. Contemporaries who suffer from certain things can only remember them with a horror that paralyzes any other pleasure, even that of reading a tale.