The Mystery of Orcival
The Count de Tremorel, having reached the street, ascended the boulevard. All of a
sudden he bethought him of his friends. The story of the execution must have already
"No; not that way," he muttered.
This was because, on the boulevard, he would certainly meet some of his very dear
cronies, and he desired to escape their condolence and offers of service. He pictured to
himself their sorry visages, concealing a hidden and delicious satisfaction. He had
wounded so many vanities that he must look for terrible revenges. The friends of an
insolently prosperous man are rejoiced in his downfall.
Hector crossed the street, went along the Rue Duphot, and reached the quays. Where was
he going? He did not know, and did not even ask himself. He walked at random, enjoying
the physical content which follows a good meal, happy to find himself still in the land of
the living, in the soft April sunlight.
The weather was superb, and all Paris was out of doors. There was a holiday air about the
town. The flower-women at the corners of the bridges had their baskets full of odorous
violets. The count bought, a bouquet near the Pont Neuf and stuck it in his button-hole,
and without waiting for his change, passed on. He reached the large square at the end of
the Bourdon boulevard, which is always full of jugglers and curiosity shows; here the
noise, the music, drew him from his torpor, and brought his thoughts back to his present
"I must leave Paris," thought he.
He crossed toward the Orleans station at a quicker pace. He entered the waiting-room,
and asked what time the train left for Etampes. Why did he choose Etampes? A train had
just gone, and there would not be another one for two hours. He was much annoyed at
this, and as he could not wait there two hours, he wended his way, to kill time, toward the
Jardin des Plantes. He had not been there for ten or twelve years - not since, when at
school, his teachers had brought him there to look at the animals. Nothing had changed.
There were the groves and parterres, the lawns and lanes, the beasts and birds, as before.
The principal avenue was nearly deserted. He took a seat opposite the mineralogical
museum. He reflected on his position. He glanced back through the departed years, and
did not find one day among those many days which had left him one of those gracious
memories which delight and console. Millions had slipped through his prodigal hands,
and he could not recall a single useful expenditure, a really generous one, amounting to
twenty francs. He, who had had so many friends, searched his memory in vain for the
name of a single friend whom he regretted to part from. The past seemed to him like a
faithful mirror; he was surprised, startled at the folly of the pleasures, the inane delights,
which had been the end and aim of his existence. For what had he lived? For others.