So saying, she drew back, hiding herself behind the window-curtain, for fear lest the mother should see her and suffer yet more intensely at being thus watched. She herself had grown calmer during the three weeks that she had been lingering every morning at that window; the great sorrow born of her abandonment was quieting down; it seemed as if the sight of the woes of others induced a more courageous acceptance of her own, that fall which she had deemed the fall of her entire life. Again, indeed, she occasionally caught herself laughing.
For a moment longer, and with an air of profound meditation, she watched the two women pace the garden, green with moss; then, quickly turning towards Saccard, she exclaimed: 'Tell me why it is that I cannot be sad. No, it never lasts, has never lasted; I cannot be sad, whatever happens to me. Is it egotism? Really, I do not think so. Egotism would be wrong; and, besides, it is in vain that I am gay; my heart seems ready to break at sight of the least sorrow. Reconcile these things; I am gay, and yet I should weep over all the unfortunates who pass if I did not restrain myself—understanding as I do that the smallest scrap of bread would serve their purpose better than my vain tears.'
So speaking, she laughed her beautiful brave laugh, like a courageous woman who prefers action to garrulous pity.
'And yet,' she continued, 'God knows that I have had occasion to despair of everything! Ah! fortune has not favoured me so far. After my marriage, falling as I did into[Pg 71] a perfect hell, insulted, beaten, I really believed that there was nothing for me to do but to throw myself into the water. I did not throw myself into it, however, and a fortnight later, when I started with my brother for the East, I was quite lively again, full of immense hope. And at the time of our return to Paris, when almost everything else failed us, I passed abominable nights, when I pictured ourselves dying of hunger amid all our fine projects. We did not die, however, and again I began to dream of wonderful things, happy things, that sometimes made me laugh as I sat alone. And lately, when I received that frightful blow, which I still don't dare to speak of, my heart seemed torn away; yes, I positively felt it stop beating; I thought that it had ceased to be, I fancied that I myself no longer existed, annihilated as I was. But not at all! Here is existence returning; to-day I laugh, and to-morrow I shall hope; I shall be longing to live on, to live for ever. Is it not extraordinary that I cannot long be sad?'
Saccard, who was laughing also, shrugged his shoulders. 'Bah! you are like the rest of the world. Such is life,' he said.
Tips, opportunities to make money：How to make money on the phone to online?'Do you think so?' she cried, in astonishment. 'It seems to me there are some people who are so sad that they never know a gay moment, people who render their own life intolerable, in such dark colours do they paint it. Oh! not that I entertain any illusion as to the pleasantness and beauty which it offers. In my case it has been too hard: I have seen it too closely, too freely, under all aspects. It is execrable when it is not ignoble. But what would you have? I love it all the same. Why? I do not know. In vain does everything crumble around me; on the morrow I find myself standing on the ruins, gay and confident. I have often thought that my case is, on a small scale, the case of humanity, which certainly lives in frightful wretchedness, cheered up, however, by the youth of each succeeding generation. After each crisis that throws me down, there comes something like a new youth, a spring time whose promise of sap warms me and inspirits my heart. So true is this that, after some severe affliction, if I go out into the street, into the sunshine, I straightway begin[Pg 72] loving, hoping, feeling happy again. And age has no influence upon me; I am simple enough to grow old without noticing it. You see, I have read a great deal more than a woman should; I no longer know where I myself am going, any more than this vast world knows where it is going, for that matter. Only, in spite of myself, it seems to me that I am going, indeed that we are all going, towards something very good and thoroughly gay.'
Although affected, she ended by turning the matter into jest, trying to hide the emotion born of her hope; whilst her brother, who had raised his head, looked at her with mingled adoration and gratitude.
'Oh! you,' he declared, 'you are made for catastrophes; you personify the love of life, whatever it may be.'
These daily morning conversations gradually became instinct with a kind of fever. If Madame Caroline returned to that natural inherent gaiety of hers, it was due to the courage which Saccard, with his active zeal for great enterprises, imparted. It was, indeed, now almost decided: they were going to turn the famous portfolio to account; and when the financier's shrill voice rang out everything seemed to acquire life, to assume colossal proportions. They would, in the first place, lay hands on the Mediterranean, conquer it by means of their steamship company. And, enumerating all the ports where they would establish stations, he mingled dim classical memories with his stock-exchange enthusiasm, chanting the praises of that sea, the only one which the old world had known, that blue sea around which civilisation had blossomed, and whose waves had bathed the ancient cities—Athens, Rome, Tyre, Alexandria, Carthage, Marseilles—all those seats of commerce and empire that have made Europe. Then, when they had ensured themselves possession of that vast waterway to the East, they would make a start in Syria with that little matter of the Carmel Silver Mining Company, just a few millions to gain en passant, but a capital thing to introduce, for the idea of a silver mine, of money found in the bowels of the earth and thrown up by the shovelful, was still attractive to the public, especially when ticketed with a prodigious,[Pg 73] resounding name like that of Carmel. There were also coal mines there, coal just beneath the rock, which would be worth gold when the country should be covered with factories; to say nothing of other little ventures, which would serve as interludes—the establishment of banks and industrial syndicates, and the opening up and felling of the vast Lebanon forests, whose huge trees were rotting where they stood for want of roads. Finally, he came to the giant morsel, the Oriental Railway Company, and then he began to rave, for that system of railroads cast over Asia Minor from one end to the other, like a net, to him meant speculation, financial life, at one stroke seizing hold of a new prey—that old world still intact, with incalculable wealth concealed under the ignorance and grime of ages. He scented the treasure, and neighed like a war-horse at the smell of powder.
Tips, opportunities to make money：Make money online job platformMadame Caroline, albeit possessed of sterling good sense, and not easily influenced by feverish imaginations, yielded at last to this enthusiasm, no longer detecting its extravagance. In truth, it fanned her affection for the East, her longing to again behold that wonderful country, where she had thought herself so happy; and, by a logical counter-effect, without calculation on her part, it was she who, by her glowing descriptions and wealth of information, stimulated the fever of Saccard. When she began talking of Beyrout, where she had lived for three years, she could never stop; Beyrout lying at the foot of the Lebanon range, on a tongue of land, between a stretch of red sand and piles of fallen rock; Beyrout with its houses reared in amphitheatral fashion amid vast gardens; a delightful paradise of orange, lemon, and palm trees. Then there were all the cities of the coast: on the north, Antioch, fallen from its whilom splendour; on the south, Saida, the Sidon of long ago, Saint Jean d'Acre, Jaffa, and Tyre, now Sur, which sums them all up: Tyre, whose merchants were kings, whose mariners made the circuit of Africa, and which to-day, with its sand-choked harbour, is nothing but a field of ruins, the dust of palaces, where stand only a few fishermen's wretched and scattered huts.
And Madame Caroline had accompanied her brother everywhere; she knew Aleppo, Angora, Broussa, Smyrna, and even Trebizond. She had lived a month at Jerusalem, sleeping amid the traffic of the holy places; then two months more at Damascus, the queen of the East, standing in the midst of a vast plain—a commercial, industrial city, which the Mecca and Bagdad caravans fill with swarming life. She was also acquainted with the valleys and mountains, with the villages of the Maronites and the Druses, perched upon table-lands or hidden away in gorges, and with the cultivated and the sterile fields. And from the smallest nooks, from the silent deserts as from the great cities, she had brought back the same admiration for inexhaustible, luxuriant nature, the same wrath against evil-minded humanity. How much natural wealth was disdained or wasted! She spoke of the burdens that crushed both commerce and industry, the imbecile law that prevents the investment of more than a certain amount of capital in agriculture, the routine that leaves the peasant with nothing but the old plough which was in use before the days of Christ, and the ignorance in which millions of men are steeped even to-day, like idiotic children stopped in their growth. Once upon a time the coast had proved too small; the cities had touched each other; but now life had gone away towards the West, and only an immense, abandoned cemetery seemed to remain. No schools, no roads, the worst of Governments, justice sold, execrable officials, crushing taxes, absurd laws, idleness, and fanaticism, to say nothing of the continual shocks of civil war, massacres which destroyed entire villages.
And at thought of this she became angry, and asked if it was allowable that men should thus spoil the work of nature, a land so blest, of such exquisite beauty, where all climates were to be found—the glowing plains, the temperate mountain-sides, the perpetual snows of the lofty peaks. And her love of life, her ever-buoyant hopefulness, filled her with enthusiasm at the idea of the all-powerful magic wand with which science and speculation could strike this old sleeping soil, and suddenly reawaken it.
'Look here!' cried Saccard, 'that Carmel gorge which you have sketched, where there are now only stones and mastic-trees, well! as soon as we begin to work the silver mine, there will start up first a village, then a city! And we will clear all those sand-choked harbours, and protect them with strong breakwaters. Large ships will anchor where now mere skiffs do not venture to moor. And you will behold a complete resurrection over all those depopulated plains, those deserted passes, which our railway lines will traverse—yes! fields will be cleared, roads and canals built, new cities will spring from the soil, life will return as it returns to a sick body, when we stimulate the system by injecting new blood into the exhausted veins. Yes! money will work these miracles!'
And such was the evoking power of his piercing voice that Madame Caroline really saw the predicted civilisation rise up before her. Those bare diagrams, those sketches in outline, became animated and peopled; it was the dream that she had sometimes had of an East cleansed of its filth, drawn from its ignorance, enjoying its fertile soil and charming sky, amid all the refinements of science. She had already witnessed such a miracle at Port Said, which in so few years had lately sprung up on a barren shore; at first some huts to shelter the few labourers who began the operations, then a city of two thousand souls, followed by one of ten thousand, with houses, huge shops, a gigantic pier, life and comfort stubbornly created by toiling human ants. And it was just this that she saw rising again—the forward, irresistible march, the social impulse towards the greatest possible sum of happiness, the need of action, of going ahead, without knowing exactly whither, but at all events with more elbow-room and under improved circumstances; and amid it all there was the globe turned upside down by the ant-swarm rebuilding its abode, its work never ending, fresh sources of enjoyment ever being discovered, man's power increasing tenfold, the earth belonging to him more and more every day. Money, aiding science, yielded progress.