Camille HTML version

Chapter 16
I might have told you of the beginning of this liaison in a few lines, but I wanted
you to see every step by which we came, I to agree to whatever Marguerite
wished, Marguerite to be unable to live apart from me.
It was the day after the evening when she came to see me that I sent her Manon
From that time, seeing that I could not change my mistress's life, I changed my
own. I wished above all not to leave myself time to think over the position I had
accepted, for, in spite of myself, it was a great distress to me. Thus my life,
generally so calm, assumed all at once an appearance of noise and disorder.
Never believe, however disinterested the love of a kept woman may be, that it
will cost one nothing. Nothing is so expensive as their caprices, flowers, boxes at
the theatre, suppers, days in the country, which one can never refuse to one's
As I have told you, I had little money. My father was, and still is, receveur general
at C. He has a great reputation there for loyalty, thanks to which he was able to
find the security which he needed in order to attain this position.
It is worth forty thousand francs a year, and during the ten years that he has had
it, he has paid off the security and put aside a dowry for my sister. My father is
the most honourable man in the world. When my mother died, she left six
thousand francs a year, which he divided between my sister and myself on the
very day when he received his appointment; then, when I was twenty-one, he
added to this little income an annual allowance of five thousand francs, assuring
me that with eight thousand francs a year I might live very happily at Paris, if, in
addition to this, I would make a position for myself either in law or medicine. I
came to Paris, studied law, was called to the bar, and, like many other young
men, put my diploma in my pocket, and let myself drift, as one so easily does in
My expenses were very moderate; only I used up my year's income in eight
months, and spent the four summer months with my father, which practically
gave me twelve thousand francs a year, and, in addition, the reputation of a good
son. For the rest, not a penny of debt.
This, then, was my position when I made the acquaintance of Marguerite. You
can well understand that, in spite of myself, my expenses soon increased.
Marguerite's nature was very capricious, and, like so many women, she never
regarded as a serious expense those thousand and one distractions which made
up her life. So, wishing to spend as much time with me as possible, she would