The Honor of the Name
If Martial had faithfully reported to Mlle. Blanche all that he heard in the Marquis de
Courtornieu's cabinet, he would probably have astonished her a little.
He, himself, if he had sincerely confessed his impressions and his reflections, would have
been obliged to admit that he was greatly amazed.
But this unfortunate man, who, in days to come, would be compelled to reproach himself
bitterly for the excess of his fanaticism, refused to confess this truth even to himself. His
life was to be spent in defending prejudices which his own reason condemned.
Forced by Mlle. Blanche's will into the midst of a discussion, he was really disgusted
with the ridiculous and intense greediness of M. de Courtornieu's noble guests.
Decorations, fortune, honors, power--they desired everything.
They were satisfied that their pure devotion deserved the most munificent rewards. It was
only the most modest who declared that he would be content with the epaulets of a
Many were the recriminations, stinging words, and bitter reproaches.
The Marquis de Courtornieu, who acted as president of the council, was nearly exhausted
"Be calm, gentlemen, be calm! A little moderation, if you please!"
"All these men are mad," thought Martial, with difficulty restraining an intense desire to
laugh; "they are insane enough to be placed in a mad-house."
But he was not obliged to render a report of the seance. The deliberations were soon
fortunately interrupted by a summons to dinner.
Mlle. Blanche, when the young marquis rejoined her, quite forgot to question him about
the doings of the council.
In fact, what did the hopes and plans of these people matter to her.
She cared very little about them or about the people themselves, since they were below
her father in rank, and most of them were not as rich.
An absorbing thought--a thought of her future, and of her happiness, filled her mind to
the exclusion of all other subjects.