Soon after his entrance into the Tuileries, the first consul invited, through his wife, the Countess de Montesson to visit him, and when she was announced he advanced to meet her with an unusual expression of friendship, and endeavored with great condescension to make her say in what manner he could please her or be of service to her.
Irene never seemed in "a coming-on disposition," to use the phrase of a young person who had not the advantage of English social training; it was evidently her wish to behave, as far as possible, with the simplicity of mere friendship. In these days, Mr. Jacks, for the first time, ceased to question himself as to the prudence of the step he had taken.
She knew he was suffering she knew why, and her heart went out to him in friendship and womanly pity. "You need not be grateful," he answered. "It is I who have to be grateful. In spite of it all, you do not know what good you have brought into my life nor how you have unconsciously helped me. I shall never be able to help you as you have helped me and yet will you promise me something?"
She had been made to appreciate the sweet flavour of aristocratic influences, and now that the Lovels were willing to receive her in spite of her marriage, she was more than willing to accept their offered friendship. "If you really wish it, you shall go," he said. "But you must go also." "Yes; for one day. And I must have a pair of gloves and a black coat." "And a blue one, to be married in."
Our consul in Rome assured me that he had investigated the case, from his friendship for the colonel, and that the matter stood thus: The colonel had engaged a man to do a piece of work, for which he was to receive five pounds as wages.
Then he was again led somewhere still blindfolded, and as they went along he was told allegories of the toils of his pilgrimage, of holy friendship, of the Eternal Architect of the universe, and of the courage with which he should endure toils and dangers.
Those who had known her intimately made no effort to conceal their importance. Those who did not know her personally put forward claims of inherited friendship, and those who did not know her traditionally or otherwise the nouveaux riches and parvenus, who alone feel the moneyed value of such social connections began making their resolutions to capture her as soon as she came in sight of society.
He was only now going through the same agony his friend must have done, and he had a stronger motive to help him, in the wish to secure the joy of this adored woman, whereas Michael knew he was condemning her to sorrow as well as himself, and had been strong enough to do it simply from honor and friendship.
Even in Balzac one notices toward the last a certain sense of strain underlying what he wrote, a certain lack of elasticity and facility, if of nothing more; yet on the whole it is likely that without this friendship Balzac would have been less great than he actually became, as it is certain that had it been broken off he would have ceased to write or to care for anything whatever in the world.
I was, I confess, very sensible of these proofs of friendship when they came to my knowledge, but I did not for a single moment repent the course I adopted.