The Firm of Nucingen - Honore de Balzac - Страница 1 из 105


THE FIRM OF NUCINGEN
By Honore De Balzac
Translated by James Waring
TO MADAME ZULMA CARRAUD
To whom, madame, but to you should I inscribe this work; to you
whose lofty and candid intellect is a treasury to your friends;
to you that are to me not only a whole public, but the most
indulgent of sisters as well? Will you deign to accept a token of
the friendship of which I am proud? You, and some few souls as
noble, will grasp the whole of the thought underlying _The Firm of
Nucingen_, appended to _Cesar Birotteau_. Is there not a whole social
lesson in the contrast between the two stories?
DE BALZAC.
THE FIRM OF NUCINGEN
You know how slight the partitions are between the private rooms of
fashionable restaurants in Paris; Very's largest room, for instance, is
cut in two by a removable screen. This Scene is _not_ laid at Very's,
but in snug quarters, which for reasons of my own I forbear to specify.
We were two, so I will say, like Henri Monnier's Prudhomme, "I should
not like to compromise _her_!"
We had remarked the want of solidity in the wall-structure, so we talked
with lowered voices as we sat together in the little private room,
lingering over the dainty dishes of a dinner exquisite in more senses
than one. We had come as far as the roast, however, and still we had no
neighbors; no sound came from the next room save the crackling of
the fire. But when the clock struck eight, we heard voices and noisy


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