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Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah) In Search of Lost Time 4


Introducing the men-women, descendants of those of the in-
habitants of Sodom who were spared by the fire from heaven
La femme aura Gomorrhe et l'homme aura Sodome.
Alfred de Vigny.
The reader will remember that, long before going that day (on the
evening of which the Princesse de Guermantes was to give her party) to
pay the Duke and Duchess the visit which I have just described, I had
kept watch for their return and had made, in the course of my vigil, a
discovery which, albeit concerning M. de Charlus in particular, was in it-
self so important that I have until now, until the moment when I could
give it the prominence and treat it with the fulness that it demanded,
postponed giving any account of it. I had, as I have said, left the marvel-
lous point of vantage, so snugly contrived for me at the top of the house,
commanding the broken and irregular slopes leading up to the H™tel de
BrŽquigny, and gaily decorated in the Italian manner by the rose-pink
campanile of the Marquis de FrŽcourt's stables. I had felt it to be more
convenient, when I thought that the Duke and Duchess were on the
point of returning, to post myself on the staircase. I regretted somewhat
the abandonment of my watch-tower. But at that time of day, namely the
hour immediately following luncheon, I had less cause for regret, for I
should not then have seen, as in the morning, the foptmen of the
BrŽquigny-Tresmes household, converted by distance into minute fig-
ures in a picture, make their leisurely ascent of the abrupt precipice,
feather-brush in hand, behind the large, transparent flakes of mica which
stood out so charmingly upon its ruddy bastions. Failing the geologist's
field of contemplation, I had at least that of the botanist, and was peering
through the shutters of the staircase window at the Duchess's little tree
and at the precious plant, exposed in the courtyard with that insistence
with which mothers 'bring out' their marriageable offspring, and asking
myself whether the unlikely insect would come, by a providential haz-
ard, to visit the offered and neglected pistil. My curiosity emboldening
me by degrees, I went down to the ground-floor window, which also
stood open with its shutters ajar. I could hear distinctly, as he got ready
to go out, Jupien who could not detect me behind my blind, where I
stood perfectly still until the moment when I drew quickly aside in order
not to be seen by M. de Charlus, who, on his way to call upon Mme. de
Villeparisis, was slowly crossing the courtyard, a pursy figure, aged by
the strong light, his hair visibly grey. Nothing short of an indisposition
6
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