The Vicar of Tours - Honore de Balzac - Страница 1 из 97


THE VICAR OF TOURS
By Honore De Balzac
Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley
DEDICATION
To David, Sculptor:
The permanence of the work on which I inscribe your name
--twice made illustrious in this century--is very problematical;
whereas you have graven mine in bronze which survives nations
--if only in their coins. The day may come when numismatists,
discovering amid the ashes of Paris existences perpetuated by
you, will wonder at the number of heads crowned in your
atelier and endeavour to find in them new dynasties.
To you, this divine privilege; to me, gratitude.
De Balzac.
THE VICAR OF TOURS
I
Early in the autumn of 1826 the Abbe Birotteau, the principal personage
of this history, was overtaken by a shower of rain as he returned
home from a friend's house, where he had been passing the evening.
He therefore crossed, as quickly as his corpulence would allow, the
deserted little square called "The Cloister," which lies directly behind
the chancel of the cathedral of Saint-Gatien at Tours.
The Abbe Birotteau, a short little man, apoplectic in constitution and
about sixty years old, had already gone through several attacks of gout.
Now, among the petty miseries of human life the one for which the worthy
priest felt the deepest aversion was the sudden sprinkling of his
shoes, adorned with silver buckles, and the wetting of their soles.


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