RESEÑA DE «EL CÁLIZ Y LA ESPADA” “DE REPENTE ESA LUZ”.

 

 

uFhCjFMy

   La fecha de publicación de esta novela en amazon es 26 de febrero de 2020 y en e-Book estuvo disponible de inmediato. Hoy es sólo dos días más tarde y confieso que he devorado esta obra, su lado bueno y su lado menos bueno, todo me lo he zampado en unas cuantas horas. Y no he resistido la tentación de escribir una reseña, porque las cosas que he encontrado quizá me ayuden en mi propia labor de escritor.

   Empecemos por el aspecto menos positivo. Nos encontramos ante una escritura que llama la atención por su facilidad. He comprobado, en el propio amazon, que la anterior obra de este autor, la única publicada hasta ahora, llevaba fecha del 30 de noviembre 2019. Quizá me equivoque, pero apostaría a que esta novela no le ha llevado a su autor más de tres meses para escribirla. Ello no quiere decir que la calidad de la prosa sea mala, antes al contrario, sintáctica y léxicamente posee una corrección absoluta. Más aún, muchos pasajes no se contentan con la corrección, sino que alzan el vuelo hasta una consistencia textual considerable. Pero se nota que el texto ha sido escrito a gran velocidad, lo cual nos da la medida de lo que hubiera podido ser en caso de haber sido elaborado con más parsimonia y acendramiento.

   Otro aspecto que llama la atención es lo que yo considero como una experimentación en relación con un elemento respecto al cual nadie ha experimentado con esa magnitud, me refiero a la noción de autor. No hablo de narrador, sobre el que se ha experimentado a saciedad, sino de autor. Porque aquí no se trata de un simple uso de seudónimo. El libro viene firmado por Bernardo de Worms, mediante una fórmula particular, y como fecha lleva únicamente el año de 2020. Ahora bien, el narrador y protagonista es igualmente Bernardo de Worms quien, en el año 797 de nuestra era tenía 9 años. Nació pues en 788, según lo cual en el momento de publicar su libro tendría la friolera de 1232 años. Esto, obviamente, no se lo cree nadie. Pero claro, la literatura no es una ciencia numérica y exacta. La literatura es esencialmente sugestión y no hay duda de que un tal autor sugiere.

   En tercer lugar, quisiera comentar la extraordinaria potencia y personalidad que adquiere en muchos pasajes la voz narrativa. Una voz, digámoslo enseguida, compleja, pues es la que surge de una conciencia de 9 años, pasada por el tamiz de otra de 1232 años, o los que sea. Esta última emerge a menudo previniendo que cierto comentario no se le debe atribuir al joven Bernardo, sino a un anciano, más viejo de la cuenta. Así, en pasajes como el destinado a ponderar el efecto anímico que produce en el oyente el canto gregoriano en latín, dicha voz se hace gruesa, se eleva, adquiere potencia y poder, como el propio canto que amenaza con hacer estallar las mismas bóvedas de la iglesia. También, justo al final, cuando se describe, con portentosa economía de medios, el estado de los cuerpos de los tres ajusticiados, al día siguiente de la ejecución. Aquí es claramente el viejo, el anciano de los días, el que habla.

   Esa misma potencia expresiva, en estilo directo, aparece cuando se le otorga la palabra a algún personaje en circunstancias particularmente dramáticas, como puede ser el momento en que el abad, exasperado por la cadena de asesinatos, apostrofa con vehemencia la entera comunidad porque, claro está, el asesino o asesinos se hallan mezclados entre esa grey, que es la suya.

   Cabe, asimismo, aclarar que no se trata de una novela policíaca ambientada en el período medieval, al estilo de “El nombre de la rosa.” Allí, Guillermo de Baskerville, era un Sherlock Holmes del siglo XIV. En esta obra sólo hay conatos de lo policíaco cuando, por ejemplo, el guarda de la abadía, Waldo, utiliza un método racional para averiguar quién pudo ser el testigo de la acción con que culminó el episodio de la rata y que era también su objetivo. A partir de ese momento, si Waldo posee o no las cualidades de un buen detective, no se presenta ocasión de saberlo, pues los acontecimientos se van a producir a una velocidad tal que apenas le dan el tiempo suficiente para seguirlos, siempre un movimiento después. Waldo es más bien el “strong silent man”, el hombre que, a base de tenacidad, de puñetazos dados y recibidos, acaba haciéndose con la verdad en un ambiente malsano o tétrico. Es decir, que nos hallamos, de pleno, en el género de novela negra.

   Sin embargo, hay algo más en esta obra. Me refiero a la poderosa revelación mística que produce. Nos hallamos en el sendero abierto por “El código Da Vinci”, pero hemos sido propulsados mucho más allá hasta un terreno pantanoso, ciertamente complicado. Avanzar por él podría reportar consecuencias imprevisibles.

   La descripción del objeto por el que se mata en esa abadía aparece en la Biblia, el viejo Ramiro la recita de memoria y nos dice dónde se encuentra, en qué libro, en qué capítulo y en qué versículos. Se sabe que fue elaborado para permanecer en el Templo de Salomón, y que cuando éste fue derruido fue a parar a Roma, donde engrosó el tesoro del Imperio. Finalmente, los visigodos, tras saquear la Ciudad Eterna, lo trajeron a Toledo. De allí, ante la amenaza musulmana, tuvieron que llevarlo hacia el norte, para que permaneciera en territorio cristiano. De todo ello hay trazas documentales y también leyendas.

   Ese objeto, esa obra de arte, pero también de espiritualidad, parece ser que llevaba grabado el nombre inefable de Dios. Nombre de Poder. La novela no nos dice cuál es ese nombre, pero sí se nos da cierta información sobre el modo correcto de pronunciarlo. Más aún, del modo correcto de pronunciar cualquier texto religioso o mágico. Ahí está la revolución.

   Ahora bien, los que somos curiosos, solemos ir siempre más allá. Si este objeto pertenece a la tradición judía, concretamente a la de la mística judía o cábala, entonces la autoridad suprema es Gershom Scholem. Según este estudioso, el nombre secreto e inefable de Dios es el Tetragama Y.H.V.H y la Torá, para los cristianos los cinco primeros libros del Antiguo Testamento, constituye su exégesis. Pero la tradición prohíbe terminantemente pronunciar ese nombre, por eso se dice que es inefable, o tal vez porque nadie conoce las vocales sobre las que apoyar esas consonantes. En cualquier caso, en la novela esto no basta. Hace falta algo más y ahí está la madre del cordero.

 

BASIL (FRAGMENT)

LETTER OF DEDICATION.
TO CHARLES JAMES WARD, ESQ.
IT has long been one of my pleasantest anticipations to look forward to the time when I might offer to you, my old and dear friend, some such acknowledgment of the value I place on your affection for me, and of my grateful sense of the many acts of kindness by which that affection has been proved, as I now gladly offer in this place. In dedicating the present work to you, I fulfil therefore a purpose which, for some time past, I have sincerely desired to achieve; and, more than that, I gain for myself the satisfaction of knowing that there is one page, at least, of my book, on which I shall always look with unalloyed pleasure—the page that bears your name.
I have founded the main event out of which this story springs, on a fact within my own knowledge. In afterwards shaping the course of the narrative thus suggested, I have guided it, as often as I could, where I knew by my own experience, or by experience related to me by others, that it would touch on something real and true in its progress. My idea was, that the more of the Actual I could garner up as a text to speak from, the more certain I might feel of the genuineness and value of the Ideal which was sure to spring out of it. Fancy and Imagination, Grace and Beauty, all those qualities which are to the work of Art what scent and colour are to the flower, can only grow towards heaven by taking root in earth. Is not the noblest poetry of prose fiction the poetry of every-day truth?
Directing my characters and my story, then, towards the light of Reality wherever I could find it, I have not hesitated to violate some of the conventionalities of sentimental fiction. For instance, the first love-meeting of two of the personages in this book, occurs (where the real love-meeting from which it is drawn, occurred) in the very last place and under the very last circumstances which the artifices of sentimental writing would sanction. Will my lovers excite ridicule instead of interest, because I have truly represented them as seeing each other where hundreds of other lovers have first seen each other, as hundreds of people will readily admit when they read the passage to which I refer? I am sanguine enough to think not.
So again, in certain parts of this book where I have attempted to excite the suspense or pity of the reader, I have admitted as perfectly fit accessories to the scene the most ordinary street-sounds that could be heard, and the most ordinary street-events that could occur, at the time and in the place represented—believing that by adding to truth, they were adding to tragedy—adding by all the force of fair contrast—adding as no artifices of mere writing possibly could add, let them be ever so cunningly introduced by ever so crafty a hand.
Allow me to dwell a moment longer on the story which these pages contain.
Believing that the Novel and the Play are twin-sisters in the family of Fiction; that the one is a drama narrated, as the other is a drama acted; and that all the strong and deep emotions which the Play-writer is privileged to excite, the Novel-writer is privileged to excite also, I have not thought it either politic or necessary, while adhering to realities, to adhere to every-day realities only. In other words, I have not stooped so low as to assure myself of the reader’s belief in the probability of my story, by never once calling on him for the exercise of his faith. Those extraordinary accidents and events which happen to few men, seemed to me to be as legitimate materials for fiction to work with—when there was a good object in using them—as the ordinary accidents and events which may, and do, happen to us all. By appealing to genuine sources of interest within the reader’s own experience, I could certainly gain his attention to begin with; but it would be only by appealing to other sources (as genuine in their way) beyond his own experience, that I could hope to fix his interest and excite his suspense, to occupy his deeper feelings, or to stir his nobler thoughts.
In writing thus—briefly and very generally—(for I must not delay you too long from the story), I can but repeat, though I hope almost unnecessarily, that I am now only speaking of what I have tried to do. Between the purpose hinted at here, and the execution of that purpose contained in the succeeding pages, lies the broad line of separation which distinguishes between the will and the deed. How far I may fall short of another man’s standard, remains to be discovered. How far I have fallen short of my own, I know painfully well.
One word more on the manner in which the purpose of the following pages is worked out—and I have done.
Nobody who admits that the business of fiction is to exhibit human life, can deny that scenes of misery and crime must of necessity, while human nature remains what it is, form part of that exhibition. Nobody can assert that such scenes are unproductive of useful results, when they are turned to a plainly and purely moral purpose. If I am asked why I have written certain scenes in this book, my answer is to be found in the universally-accepted truth which the preceding words express. I have a right to appeal to that truth; for I guided myself by it throughout. In deriving the lesson which the following pages contain, from those examples of error and crime which would most strikingly and naturally teach it, I determined to do justice to the honesty of my object by speaking out. In drawing the two characters, whose actions bring about the darker scenes of my story, I did not forget that it was my duty, while striving to portray them naturally, to put them to a good moral use; and at some sacrifice, in certain places, of dramatic effect (though I trust with no sacrifice of truth to Nature), I have shown the conduct of the vile, as always, in a greater or less degree, associated with something that is selfish, contemptible, or cruel in motive. Whether any of my better characters may succeed in endearing themselves to the reader, I know not: but this I do certainly know:—that I shall in no instance cheat him out of his sympathies in favour of the bad.
To those persons who dissent from the broad principles here adverted to; who deny that it is the novelist’s vocation to do more than merely amuse them; who shrink from all honest and serious reference, in books, to subjects which they think of in private and talk of in public everywhere; who see covert implications where nothing is implied, and improper allusions where nothing improper is alluded to; whose innocence is in the word, and not in the thought; whose morality stops at the tongue, and never gets on to the heart—to those persons, I should consider it loss of time, and worse, to offer any further explanation of my motives, than the sufficient explanation which I have given already. I do not address myself to them in this book, and shall never think of addressing myself to them in any other.

Those words formed part of the original introduction to this novel. I wrote them nearly ten years since; and what I said then, I say now.
“Basil” was the second work of fiction which I produced. On its appearance, it was condemned off-hand, by a certain class of readers, as an outrage on their sense of propriety. Conscious of having designed and written, my story with the strictest regard to true delicacy, as distinguished from false—I allowed the prurient misinterpretation of certain perfectly innocent passages in this book to assert itself as offensively as it pleased, without troubling myself to protest against an expression of opinion which aroused in me no other feeling than a feeling of contempt. I knew that “Basil” had nothing to fear from pure-minded readers; and I left these pages to stand or fall on such merits as they possessed. Slowly and surely, my story forced its way through all adverse criticism, to a place in the public favour which it has never lost since. Some of the most valued friends I now possess, were made for me by “Basil.” Some of the most gratifying recognitions of my labours which I have received, from readers personally strangers to me, have been recognitions of the purity of this story, from the first page to the last. All the indulgence I need now ask for “Basil,” is indulgence for literary defects, which are the result of inexperience; which no correction can wholly remove; and which no one sees more plainly, after a lapse of ten years, than the writer himself.
I have only to add, that the present edition of this book is the first which has had the benefit of my careful revision. While the incidents of the story remain exactly what they were, the language in which they are told has been, I hope, in many cases greatly altered for the better.
WILKIE COLLINS.
Harley Street, London, July, 1862.

BASIL

PART I.
I.
WHAT am I now about to write?
The history of little more than the events of one year, out of the twenty-four years of my life.
Why do I undertake such an employment as this?
Perhaps, because I think that my narrative may do good; because I hope that, one day, it may be put to some warning use. I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results; and I would fain hope that my plain and true record will show that this error was not committed altogether without excuse. When these pages are found after my death, they will perhaps be calmly read and gently judged, as relics solemnized by the atoning shadows of the grave. Then, the hard sentence against me may be repented of; the children of the next generation of our house may be taught to speak charitably of my memory, and may often, of their own accord, think of me kindly in the thoughtful watches of the night.
Prompted by these motives, and by others which I feel, but cannot analyse, I now begin my self-imposed occupation. Hidden amid the far hills of the far West of England, surrounded only by the few simple inhabitants of a fishing hamlet on the Cornish coast, there is little fear that my attention will be distracted from my task; and as little chance that any indolence on my part will delay its speedy accomplishment. I live under a threat of impending hostility, which may descend and overwhelm me, I know not how soon, or in what manner. An enemy, determined and deadly, patient alike to wait days or years for his opportunity, is ever lurking after me in the dark. In entering on my new employment, I cannot say of my time, that it may be mine for another hour; of my life, that it may last till evening.
Thus it is as no leisure work that I begin my narrative—and begin it, too, on my birthday! On this day I complete my twenty-fourth year; the first new year of my life which has not been greeted by a single kind word, or a single loving wish. But one look of welcome can still find me in my solitude—the lovely morning look of nature, as I now see it from the casement of my room. Brighter and brighter shines out the lusty sun from banks of purple, rainy cloud; fishermen are spreading their nets to dry on the lower declivities of the rocks; children are playing round the boats drawn up on the beach; the sea-breeze blows fresh and pure towards the shore——all objects are brilliant to look on, all sounds are pleasant to hear, as my pen traces the first lines which open the story of my life.
II.
I am the second son of an English gentleman of large fortune. Our family is, I believe, one of the most ancient in this country. On my father’s side, it dates back beyond the Conquest; on my mother’s, it is not so old, but the pedigree is nobler. Besides my elder brother, I have one sister, younger than myself. My mother died shortly after giving birth to her last child.
Circumstances which will appear hereafter, have forced me to abandon my father’s name. I have been obliged in honour to resign it; and in honour I abstain from mentioning it here. Accordingly, at the head of these pages, I have only placed my Christian name—not considering it of any importance to add the surname which I have assumed; and which I may, perhaps, be obliged to change for some other, at no very distant period. It will now, I hope, be understood from the outset, why I never mention my brother and sister but by their Christian names; why a blank occurs wherever my father’s name should appear; why my own is kept concealed in this narrative, as it is kept concealed in the world.
The story of my boyhood and youth has little to interest—nothing that is new. My education was the education of hundreds of others in my rank of life. I was first taught at a public school, and then went to college to complete what is termed “a liberal education.”
My life at college has not left me a single pleasant recollection. I found sycophancy established there, as a principle of action; flaunting on the lord’s gold tassel in the street; enthroned on the lord’s dais in the dining-room. The most learned student in my college—the man whose life was most exemplary, whose acquirements were most admirable—was shown me sitting, as a commoner, in the lowest place. The heir to an Earldom, who had failed at the last examination, was pointed out a few minutes afterwards, dining in solitary grandeur at a raised table, above the reverend scholars who had turned him back as a dunce. I had just arrived at the University, and had just been congratulated on entering “a venerable seminary of learning and religion.”
Trite and common-place though it be, I mention this circumstance attending my introduction to college, because it formed the first cause which tended to diminish my faith in the institution to which I was attached. I soon grew to regard my university training as a sort of necessary evil, to be patiently submitted to. I read for no honours, and joined no particular set of men. I studied the literature of France, Italy, and Germany; just kept up my classical knowledge sufficiently to take my degree; and left college with no other reputation than a reputation for indolence and reserve.
When I returned home, it was thought necessary, as I was a younger son, and could inherit none of the landed property of the family, except in the case of my brother’s dying without children, that I should belong to a profession. My father had the patronage of some valuable “livings,” and good interest with more than one member of the government. The church, the army, the navy, and, in the last instance, the bar, were offered me to choose from. I selected the last.
My father appeared to be a little astonished at my choice; but he made no remark on it, except simply telling me not to forget that the bar was a good stepping-stone to parliament. My real ambition, however, was, not to make a name in parliament, but a name in literature. I had already engaged myself in the hard, but glorious service of the pen; and I was determined to persevere. The profession which offered me the greatest facilities for pursuing my project, was the profession which I was ready to prefer. So I chose the bar.
Thus, I entered life under the fairest auspices. Though a younger son, I knew that my father’s wealth, exclusive of his landed property, secured me an independent income far beyond my wants. I had no extravagant habits; no tastes that I could not gratify as soon as formed; no cares or responsibilities of any kind. I might practise my profession or not, just as I chose. I could devote myself wholly and unreservedly to literature, knowing that, in my case, the struggle for fame could never be identical—terribly, though gloriously identical—with the struggle for bread. For me, the morning sunshine of life was sunshine without a cloud!
I might attempt, in this place, to sketch my own character as it was at that time. But what man can say—I will sound the depth of my own vices, and measure the height of my own virtues; and be as good as his word? We can neither know nor judge ourselves; others may judge, but cannot know us: God alone judges and knows too. Let my character appear—as far as any human character can appear in its integrity, in this world—in my actions, when I describe the one eventful passage in my life which forms the basis of this narrative. In the mean time, it is first necessary that I should say more about the members of my family. Two of them, at least, will be found important to the progress of events in these pages. I make no attempt to judge their characters: I only describe them—whether rightly or wrongly, I know not—as they appeared to me.
III.
I always considered my father—I speak of him in the past tense, because we are now separated for ever; because he is henceforth as dead to me as if the grave had closed over him—I always considered my father to be the proudest man I ever knew; the proudest man I ever heard of. His was not that conventional pride, which the popular notions are fond of characterising by a stiff, stately carriage; by a rigid expression of features; by a hard, severe intonation of voice; by set speeches of contempt for poverty and rags, and rhapsodical braggadocio about rank and breeding. My father’s pride had nothing of this about it. It was that quiet, negative, courteous, inbred pride, which only the closest observation could detect; which no ordinary observers ever detected at all.
Who that observed him in communication with any of the farmers on any of his estates—who that saw the manner in which he lifted his hat, when he accidentally met any of those farmers’ wives—who that noticed his hearty welcome to the man of the people, when that man happened to be a man of genius—would have thought him proud? On such occasions as these, if he had any pride, it was impossible to detect it. But seeing him when, for instance, an author and a new-made peer of no ancestry entered his house together—observing merely the entirely different manner in which he shook hands with each—remarking that the polite cordiality was all for the man of letters, who did not contest his family rank with him, and the polite formality all for the man of title, who did—you discovered where and how he was proud in an instant. Here lay his fretful point. The aristocracy of rank, as separate from the aristocracy of ancestry, was no aristocracy for him. He was jealous of it; he hated it. Commoner though he was, he considered himself the social superior of any man, from a baronet up to a duke, whose family was less ancient than his own.
Among a host of instances of this peculiar pride of his which I could cite, I remember one, characteristic enough to be taken as a sample of all the rest. It happened when I was quite a child, and was told me by one of my uncles now dead—who witnessed the circumstance himself, and always made a good story of it to the end of his life.
A merchant of enormous wealth, who had recently been raised to the peerage, was staying at one of our country houses. His daughter, my uncle, and an Italian Abbe were the only guests besides. The merchant was a portly, purple-faced man, who bore his new honours with a curious mixture of assumed pomposity and natural good-humour. The Abbe was dwarfish and deformed, lean, sallow, sharp-featured, with bright bird-like eyes, and a low, liquid voice. He was a political refugee, dependent for the bread he ate, on the money he received for teaching languages. He might have been a beggar from the streets; and still my father would have treated him as the principal guest in the house, for this all-sufficient reason—he was a direct descendant of one of the oldest of those famous Roman families whose names are part of the history of the Civil Wars in Italy.
On the first day, the party assembled for dinner comprised the merchant’s daughter, my mother, an old lady who had once been her governess, and had always lived with her since her marriage, the new Lord, the Abbe, my father, and my uncle. When dinner was announced, the peer advanced in new-blown dignity, to offer his arm as a matter of course to my mother. My father’s pale face flushed crimson in a moment. He touched the magnificent merchant-lord on the arm, and pointed significantly, with a low bow, towards the decrepit old lady who had once been my mother’s governess. Then walking to the other end of the room, where the penniless Abbe was looking over a book in a corner, he gravely and courteously led the little, deformed, limping language-master, clad in a long, threadbare, black coat, up to my mother (whose shoulder the Abbe’s head hardly reached), held the door open for them to pass out first, with his own hand; politely invited the new nobleman, who stood half-paralysed between confusion and astonishment, to follow with the tottering old lady on his arm; and then returned to lead the peer’s daughter down to dinner himself. He only resumed his wonted expression and manner, when he had seen the little Abbe—the squalid, half-starved representative of mighty barons of the olden time—seated at the highest place of the table by my mother’s side.
It was by such accidental circumstances as these that you discovered how far he was proud. He never boasted of his ancestors; he never even spoke of them, except when he was questioned on the subject; but he never forgot them. They were the very breath of his life; the deities of his social worship: the family treasures to be held precious beyond all lands and all wealth, all ambitions and all glories, by his children and his children’s children to the end of their race.
In home-life he performed his duties towards his family honourably, delicately, and kindly. I believe in his own way he loved us all; but we, his descendants, had to share his heart with his ancestors—we were his household property as well as his children. Every fair liberty was given to us; every fair indulgence was granted to us. He never displayed any suspicion, or any undue severity. We were taught by his direction, that to disgrace our family, either by word or action, was the one fatal crime which could never be forgotten and never be pardoned. We were formed, under his superintendence, in principles of religion, honour, and industry; and the rest was left to our own moral sense, to our own comprehension of the duties and privileges of our station. There was no one point in his conduct towards any of us that we could complain of; and yet there was something always incomplete in our domestic relations.
It may seem incomprehensible, even ridiculous, to some persons, but it is nevertheless true, that we were none of us ever on intimate terms with him. I mean by this, that he was a father to us, but never a companion. There was something in his manner, his quiet and unchanging manner, which kept us almost unconsciously restrained. I never in my life felt less at my ease—I knew not why at the time—than when I occasionally dined alone with him. I never confided to him my schemes for amusement as a boy, or mentioned more than generally my ambitious hopes, as a young man. It was not that he would have received such confidences with ridicule or severity, he was incapable of it; but that he seemed above them, unfitted to enter into them, too far removed by his own thoughts from such thoughts as ours. Thus, all holiday councils were held with old servants; thus, my first pages of manuscript, when I first tried authorship, were read by my sister, and never penetrated into my father’s study.
Again, his mode of testifying displeasure towards my brother or myself, had something terrible in its calmness, something that we never forgot, and always dreaded as the worst calamity that could befall us.
Whenever, as boys, we committed some boyish fault, he never displayed outwardly any irritation—he simply altered his manner towards us altogether. We were not soundly lectured, or vehemently threatened, or positively punished in anyway; but, when we came in contact with him, we were treated with a cold, contemptuous politeness (especially if our fault showed a tendency to anything mean or ungentlemanlike) which cut us to the heart. On these occasions, we were not addressed by our Christian names; if we accidentally met him out of doors, he was sure to turn aside and avoid us; if we asked a question, it was answered in the briefest possible manner, as if we had been strangers. His whole course of conduct said, as though in so many words—You have rendered yourselves unfit to associate with your father; and he is now making you feel that unfitness as deeply as he does. We were left in this domestic purgatory for days, sometimes for weeks together. To our boyish feelings (to mine especially) there was no ignominy like it, while it lasted.
I know not on what terms my father lived with my mother. Towards my sister, his demeanour always exhibited something of the old-fashioned, affectionate gallantry of a former age. He paid her the same attention that he would have paid to the highest lady in the land. He led her into the dining-room, when we were alone, exactly as he would have led a duchess into a banqueting-hall. He would allow us, as boys, to quit the breakfast-table before he had risen himself; but never before she had left it. If a servant failed in duty towards him, the servant was often forgiven; if towards her, the servant was sent away on the spot. His daughter was in his eyes the representative of her mother: the mistress of his house, as well as his child. It was curious to see the mixture of high-bred courtesy and fatherly love in his manner, as he just gently touched her forehead with his lips, when he first saw her in the morning.
In person, my father was of not more than middle height. He was very slenderly and delicately made; his head small, and well set on his shoulders—his forehead more broad than lofty—his complexion singularly pale, except in moments of agitation, when I have already noticed its tendency to flush all over in an instant. His eyes, large and gray, had something commanding in their look; they gave a certain unchanging firmness and dignity to his expression, not often met with. They betrayed his birth and breeding, his old ancestral prejudices, his chivalrous sense of honour, in every glance. It required, indeed, all the masculine energy of look about the upper part of his face, to redeem the lower part from an appearance of effeminacy, so delicately was it moulded in its fine Norman outline. His smile was remarkable for its sweetness—it was almost like a woman’s smile. In speaking, too, his lips often trembled as women’s do. If he ever laughed, as a young man, his laugh must have been very clear and musical; but since I can recollect him, I never heard it. In his happiest moments, in the gayest society, I have only seen him smile.
There were other characteristics of my father’s disposition and manner, which I might mention; but they will appear to greater advantage, perhaps, hereafter, connected with circumstances which especially called them forth.
IV.
When a family is possessed of large landed property, the individual of that family who shows least interest in its welfare; who is least fond of home, least connected by his own sympathies with his relatives, least ready to learn his duties or admit his responsibilities, is often that very individual who is to succeed to the family inheritance—the eldest son.
My brother Ralph was no exception to this remark. We were educated together. After our education was completed, I never saw him, except for short periods. He was almost always on the continent, for some years after he left college. And when he returned definitely to England, he did not return to live under our roof. Both in town and country he was our visitor, not our inmate.
I recollect him at school—stronger, taller, handsomer than I was; far beyond me in popularity among the little community we lived with; the first to lead a daring exploit, the last to abandon it; now at the bottom of the class, now at the top—just that sort of gay, boisterous, fine-looking, dare-devil boy, whom old people would instinctively turn round and smile after, as they passed him by in a morning walk.
Then, at college, he became illustrious among rowers and cricketers, renowned as a pistol shot, dreaded as a singlestick player. No wine parties in the university were such wine parties as his; tradesmen gave him the first choice of everything that was new; young ladies in the town fell in love with him by dozens; young tutors with a tendency to dandyism, copied the cut of his coat and the tie of his cravat; even the awful heads of houses looked leniently on his delinquencies. The gay, hearty, handsome young English gentleman carried a charm about him that subdued everybody. Though I was his favourite butt, both at school and college, I never quarrelled with him in my life. I always let him ridicule my dress, manners, and habits in his own reckless, boisterous way, as if it had been a part of his birthright privilege to laugh at me as much as he chose.
Thus far, my father had no worse anxieties about him than those occasioned by his high spirits and his heavy debts. But when he returned home—when the debts had been paid, and it was next thought necessary to drill the free, careless energies into something like useful discipline—then my father’s trials and difficulties began in earnest.
It was impossible to make Ralph comprehend and appreciate his position, as he was desired to comprehend and appreciate it. The steward gave up in despair all attempts to enlighten him about the extent, value, and management of the estates he was to inherit. A vigorous effort was made to inspire him with ambition; to get him to go into parliament. He laughed at the idea. A commission in the Guards was next offered to him. He refused it, because he would never be buttoned up in a red coat; because he would submit to no restraints, fashionable or military; because in short, he was determined to be his own master. My father talked to him by the hour together, about his duties and his prospects, the cultivation of his mind, and the example of his ancestors; and talked in vain. He yawned and fidgetted over the emblazoned pages of his own family pedigree, whenever they were opened before him.
In the country, he cared for nothing but hunting and shooting—it was as difficult to make him go to a grand county dinner-party, as to make him go to church. In town, he haunted the theatres, behind the scenes as well as before; entertained actors and actresses at Richmond; ascended in balloons at Vauxhall; went about with detective policemen, seeing life among pickpockets and housebreakers; belonged to a whist club, a supper club, a catch club, a boxing club, a picnic club, an amateur theatrical club; and, in short, lived such a careless, convivial life, that my father, outraged in every one of his family prejudices and family refinements, almost ceased to speak to him, and saw him as rarely as possible. Occasionally, my sister’s interference reconciled them again for a short time; her influence, gentle as it was, was always powerfully felt for good, but she could not change my brother’s nature. Persuade and entreat as anxiously as she might, he was always sure to forfeit the paternal favour again, a few days after he had been restored to it.
At last, matters were brought to their climax by an awkward love adventure of Ralph’s with one of our tenants’ daughters. My father acted with his usual decision on the occasion. He determined to apply a desperate remedy: to let the refractory eldest son run through his career in freedom, abroad, until he had well wearied himself, and could return home a sobered man. Accordingly, he procured for my brother an attache’s place in a foreign embassy, and insisted on his leaving England forthwith. For once in a way, Ralph was docile. He knew and cared nothing about diplomacy; but he liked the idea of living on the continent, so he took his leave of home with his best grace. My father saw him depart, with ill-concealed agitation and apprehension; although he affected to feel satisfied that, flighty and idle as Ralph was, he was incapable of voluntarily dishonouring his family, even in his most reckless moods.
After this, we heard little from my brother. His letters were few and short, and generally ended with petitions for money. The only important news of him that reached us, reached us through public channels.
He was making quite a continental reputation—a reputation, the bare mention of which made my father wince. He had fought a duel; he had imported a new dance from Hungary; he had contrived to get the smallest groom that ever was seen behind a cabriolet; he had carried off the reigning beauty among the opera-dancers of the day from all competitors; a great French cook had composed a great French dish, and christened it by his name; he was understood to be the “unknown friend,” to whom a literary Polish countess had dedicated her “Letters against the restraint of the Marriage Tie;” a female German metaphysician, sixty years old, had fallen (Platonically) in love with him, and had taken to writing erotic romances in her old age. Such were some of the rumours that reached my father’s ears on the subject of his son and heir!
After a long absence, he came home on a visit. How well I remember the astonishment he produced in the whole household! He had become a foreigner in manners and appearance. His mustachios were magnificent; miniature toys in gold and jewellery hung in clusters from his watch-chain; his shirt-front was a perfect filigree of lace and cambric. He brought with him his own boxes of choice liqueurs and perfumes; his own smart, impudent, French valet; his own travelling bookcase of French novels, which he opened with his own golden key. He drank nothing but chocolate in the morning; he had long interviews with the cook, and revolutionized our dinner table. All the French newspapers were sent to him by a London agent. He altered the arrangements of his bed-room; no servant but his own valet was permitted to enter it. Family portraits that hung there, were turned to the walls, and portraits of French actresses and Italian singers were stuck to the back of the canvasses. Then he displaced a beautiful little ebony cabinet which had been in the family three hundred years; and set up in its stead a Cyprian temple of his own, in miniature, with crystal doors, behind which hung locks of hair, rings, notes written on blush-coloured paper, and other love-tokens kept as sentimental relics. His influence became all-pervading among us. He seemed to communicate to the house the change that had taken place in himself, from the reckless, racketty young Englishman to the super-exquisite foreign dandy. It was as if the fiery, effervescent atmosphere of the Boulevards of Paris had insolently penetrated into the old English mansion, and ruffled and infected its quiet native air, to the remotest corners of the place.
My father was even more dismayed than displeased by the alteration in my brother’s habits and manners—the eldest son was now farther from his ideal of what an eldest son should be, than ever. As for friends and neighbours, Ralph was heartily feared and disliked by them, before he had been in the house a week. He had an ironically patient way of listening to their conversation; an ironically respectful manner of demolishing their old-fashioned opinions, and correcting their slightest mistakes, which secretly aggravated them beyond endurance. It was worse still, when my father, in despair, tried to tempt him into marriage, as the one final chance of working his reform; and invited half the marriageable young ladies of our acquaintance to the house, for his especial benefit.
Ralph had never shown much fondness at home, for the refinements of good female society. Abroad, he had lived as exclusively as he possibly could, among women whose characters ranged downwards by infinitesimal degrees, from the mysteriously doubtful to the notoriously bad. The highly-bred, highly-refined, highly-accomplished young English beauties had no charm for him. He detected at once the domestic conspiracy of which he was destined to become the victim. He often came up-stairs, at night, into my bed-room; and while he was amusing himself by derisively kicking about my simple clothes and simple toilette apparatus; while he was laughing in his old careless way at my quiet habits and monotonous life, used to slip in, parenthetically, all sorts of sarcasms about our young lady guests. To him, their manners were horribly inanimate; their innocence, hypocrisy of education. Pure complexions and regular features were very well, he said, as far as they went; but when a girl could not walk properly, when she shook hands with you with cold fingers, when having good eyes she could not make a stimulating use of them, then it was time to sentence the regular features and pure complexions to be taken back forthwith to the nursery from which they came. For his part, he missed the conversation of his witty Polish Countess, and longed for another pancake-supper with his favourite grisettes.
The failure of my father’s last experiment with Ralph soon became apparent. Watchful and experienced mothers began to suspect that my brother’s method of flirtation was dangerous, and his style of waltzing improper. One or two ultra-cautious parents, alarmed by the laxity of his manners and opinions, removed their daughters out of harm’s way, by shortening their visits. The rest were spared any such necessity. My father suddenly discovered that Ralph was devoting himself rather too significantly to a young married woman who was staying in the house. The same day he had a long private interview with my brother. What passed between them, I know not; but it must have been something serious. Ralph came out of my father’s private study, very pale and very silent; ordered his luggage to be packed directly; and the next morning departed, with his French valet, and his multifarious French goods and chattels, for the continent.
Another interval passed; and then we had another short visit from him. He was still unaltered. My father’s temper suffered under this second disappointment. He became more fretful and silent; more apt to take offence than had been his wont. I particularly mention the change thus produced in his disposition, because that change was destined, at no very distant period, to act fatally upon me.
On this last occasion, also, there was another serious disagreement between father and son; and Ralph left England again in much the same way that he had left it before.
Shortly after that second departure, we heard that he had altered his manner of life. He had contracted, what would be termed in the continental code of morals, a reformatory attachment to a woman older than himself, who was living separated from her husband, when he met with her. It was this lady’s lofty ambition to be Mentor and mistress, both together! And she soon proved herself to be well qualified for her courageous undertaking. To the astonishment of everyone who knew him, Ralph suddenly turned economical; and, soon afterwards, actually resigned his post at the embassy, to be out of the way of temptation! Since that, he has returned to England; has devoted himself to collecting snuff-boxes and learning the violin; and is now living quietly in the suburbs of London, still under the inspection of the resolute female missionary who first worked his reform.
Whether he will ever become the high-minded, high-principled country gentleman, that my father has always desired to see him, it is useless for me to guess. On the domains which he is to inherit, I shall never perhaps set foot again: in the halls where he will one day preside as master, I shall never more be sheltered. Let me now quit the subject of my elder brother, and turn to a theme which is nearer to my heart; dear to me as the last remembrance left that I can love; precious beyond all treasures in my solitude and my exile from home.
My sister!—well may I linger over your beloved name in such a record as this. A little farther on, and the darkness of crime and grief will encompass me; here, my recollections of you kindle like a pure light before my eyes—doubly pure by contrast with what lies beyond. May your kind eyes, love, be the first that fall on these pages, when the writer has parted from them for ever! May your tender hand be the first that touches these leaves, when mine is cold! Backward in my narrative, Clara, wherever I have but casually mentioned my sister, the pen has trembled and stood still. At this place, where all my remembrances of you throng upon me unrestrained, the tears gather fast and thick beyond control; and for the first time since I began my task, my courage and my calmness fail me.
It is useless to persevere longer. My hand trembles; my eyes grow dimmer and dimmer. I must close my labours for the day, and go forth to gather strength and resolution for to-morrow on the hill-tops that overlook the sea.
V.
My sister Clara is four years younger than I am. In form of face, in complexion, and—except the eyes—in features, she bears a striking resemblance to my father. Her expressions however, must be very like what my mother’s was. Whenever I have looked at her in her silent and thoughtful moments, she has always appeared to freshen, and even to increase, my vague, childish recollections of our lost mother. Her eyes have that slight tinge of melancholy in their tenderness, and that peculiar softness in their repose, which is only seen in blue eyes. Her complexion, pale as my father’s when she is neither speaking nor moving, has in a far greater degree than his the tendency to flush, not merely in moments of agitation, but even when she is walking, or talking on any subject that interests her. Without this peculiarity her paleness would be a defect. With it, the absence of any colour in her complexion but the fugitive uncertain colour which I have described, would to some eyes debar her from any claims to beauty. And a beauty perhaps she is not—at least, in the ordinary acceptation of the term.
The lower part of her face is rather too small for the upper, her figure is too slight, the sensitiveness of her nervous organization is too constantly visible in her actions and her looks. She would not fix attention and admiration in a box at the opera; very few men passing her in the street would turn round to look after her; very few women would regard her with that slightingly attentive stare, that steady depreciating scrutiny, which a dashing decided beauty so often receives (and so often triumphs in receiving) from her personal inferiors among her own sex. The greatest charms that my sister has on the surface, come from beneath it.
When you really knew her, when she spoke to you freely, as to a friend—then, the attraction of her voice, her smile her manner, impressed you indescribably. Her slightest words and her commonest actions interested and delighted you, you knew not why. There was a beauty about her unassuming simplicity, her natural—exquisitely natural—kindness of heart, and word, and manner, which preserved its own unobtrusive influence over you, in spite of all other rival influences, be they what they might. You missed and thought of her, when you were fresh from the society of the most beautiful and the most brilliant women. You remembered a few kind, pleasant words of hers when you forgot the wit of the wittiest ladies, the learning of the most learned. The influence thus possessed, and unconsciously possessed, by my sister over every one with whom she came in contact—over men especially—may, I think be very simply accounted for, in very few sentences.
We live in an age when too many women appear to be ambitious of morally unsexing themselves before society, by aping the language and the manners of men—especially in reference to that miserable modern dandyism of demeanour, which aims at repressing all betrayal of warmth of feeling; which abstains from displaying any enthusiasm on any subject whatever; which, in short, labours to make the fashionable imperturbability of the face the faithful reflection of the fashionable imperturbability of the mind. Women of this exclusively modern order, like to use slang expressions in their conversation; assume a bastard-masculine abruptness in their manners, a bastard-masculine licence in their opinions; affect to ridicule those outward developments of feeling which pass under the general appellation of “sentiment.” Nothing impresses, agitates, amuses, or delights them in a hearty, natural, womanly way. Sympathy looks ironical, if they ever show it: love seems to be an affair of calculation, or mockery, or contemptuous sufferance, if they ever feel it.
To women such as these, my sister Clara presented as complete a contrast as could well be conceived. In this contrast lay the secret of her influence, of the voluntary tribute of love and admiration which followed her wherever she went.
Few men have not their secret moments of deep feeling—moments when, amid the wretched trivialities and hypocrisies of modern society, the image will present itself to their minds of some woman, fresh, innocent, gentle, sincere; some woman whose emotions are still warm and impressible, whose affections and sympathies can still appear in her actions, and give the colour to her thoughts; some woman in whom we could put as perfect faith and trust, as if we were children; whom we despair of finding near the hardening influences of the world; whom we could scarcely venture to look for, except in solitary places far away in the country; in little rural shrines, shut up from society, among woods and fields, and lonesome boundary-hills. When any women happen to realise, or nearly to realise, such an image as this, they possess that universal influence which no rivalry can ever approach. On them really depends, and by then is really preserved, that claim upon the sincere respect and admiration of men, on which the power of the whole sex is based—the power so often assumed by the many, so rarely possessed but by the few.
It was thus with my sister. Thus, wherever she went, though without either the inclination, or the ambition to shine, she eclipsed women who were her superiors in beauty, in accomplishments, in brilliancy of manners and conversation—conquering by no other weapon than the purely feminine charm of everything she said, and everything she did.
But it was not amid the gaiety and grandeur of a London season that her character was displayed to the greatest advantage. It was when she was living where she loved to live, in the old country-house, among the old friends and old servants who would every one of them have died a hundred deaths for her sake, that you could study and love her best. Then, the charm there was in the mere presence of the kind, gentle, happy young English girl, who could enter into everybody’s interests, and be grateful for everybody’s love, possessed its best and brightest influence. At picnics, lawn-parties, little country gatherings of all sorts, she was, in her own quiet, natural manner, always the presiding spirit of general comfort and general friendship. Even the rigid laws of country punctilio relaxed before her unaffected cheerfulness and irresistible good-nature. She always contrived—nobody ever knew how—to lure the most formal people into forgetting their formality, and becoming natural for the rest of the day. Even a heavy-headed, lumbering, silent country squire was not too much for her. She managed to make him feel at his ease, when no one else would undertake the task; she could listen patiently to his confused speeches about dogs, horses, and the state of the crops, when other conversations were proceeding in which she was really interested; she could receive any little grateful attention that he wished to pay her—no matter how awkward or ill-timed—as she received attentions from any one else, with a manner which showed she considered it as a favour granted to her sex, not as a right accorded to it.
So, again, she always succeeded in diminishing the long list of those pitiful affronts and offences, which play such important parts in the social drama of country society. She was a perfect Apostle-errant of the order of Reconciliation; and wherever she went, cast out the devil Sulkiness from all his strongholds—the lofty and the lowly alike. Our good rector used to call her his Volunteer Curate; and declare that she preached by a timely word, or a persuasive look, the best practical sermons on the blessings of peace-making that were ever composed.
With all this untiring good-nature, with all this resolute industry in the task of making every one happy whom she approached, there was mingled some indescribable influence, which invariably preserved her from the presumption, even of the most presuming people. I never knew anybody venturesome enough—either by word or look—to take a liberty with her. There was something about her which inspired respect as well as love. My father, following the bent of his peculiar and favourite ideas, always thought it was the look of her race in her eyes, the ascendancy of her race in her manners. I believe it to have proceeded from a simpler and a better cause. There is a goodness of heart, which carries the shield of its purity over the open hand of its kindness: and that goodness was hers.
To my father, she was more, I believe, than he himself ever imagined—or will ever know, unless he should lose her. He was often, in his intercourse with the world, wounded severely enough in his peculiar prejudices and peculiar refinements—he was always sure to find the first respected, and the last partaken by her. He could trust in her implicitly, he could feel assured that she was not only willing, but able, to share and relieve his domestic troubles and anxieties. If he had been less fretfully anxious about his eldest son; if he had wisely distrusted from the first his own powers of persuading and reforming, and had allowed Clara to exercise her influence over Ralph more constantly and more completely than he really did, I am persuaded that the long-expected epoch of my brother’s transformation would have really arrived by this time, or even before it.
The strong and deep feelings of my sister’s nature lay far below the surface—for a woman, too far below it. Suffering was, for her, silent, secret, long enduring; often almost entirely void of outward vent or development. I never remember seeing her in tears, except on rare and very serious occasions. Unless you looked at her narrowly, you would judge her to be little sensitive to ordinary griefs and troubles. At such times, her eyes only grew dimmer and less animated than usual; the paleness of her complexion became rather more marked; her lips closed and trembled involuntarily—but this was all: there was no sighing, no weeping, no speaking even. And yet she suffered acutely. The very strength of her emotions was in their silence and their secresy. I, of all others—I, guilty of infecting with my anguish the pure heart that loved me—ought to know this best!
How long I might linger over all that she has done for me! As I now approach nearer and nearer to the pages which are to reveal my fatal story, so I am more and more tempted to delay over those better and purer remembrances of my sister which now occupy my mind. The first little presents—innocent girlish presents—which she secretly sent to me at school; the first sweet days of our uninterrupted intercourse, when the close of my college life restored me to home; her first inestimable sympathies with my first fugitive vanities of embryo authorship, are thronging back fast and fondly on my thoughts, while I now write.
But these memories must be calmed and disciplined. I must be collected and impartial over my narrative—if it be only to make that narrative show fairly and truly, without suppression or exaggeration, all that I have owed to her.
Not merely all that I have owed to her; but all that I owe to her now. Though I may never see her again, but in my thoughts; still she influences, comforts, cheers me on to hope, as if she were already the guardian spirit of the cottage where I live. Even in my worst moments of despair, I can still remember that Clara is thinking of me and sorrowing for me: I can still feel that remembrance, as an invisible hand of mercy which supports me, sinking; which raises me, fallen; which may yet lead me safely and tenderly to my hard journey’s end.

BUY IT HERE

https://payhip.com/b/Ybld

THE WOMAN IN WHITE (FRAGMENT)

THE STORY BEGUN BY WALTER HARTRIGHT

(of Clement’s Inn, Teacher of Drawing)
This is the story of what a Woman’s patience can endure, and what a Man’s resolution can achieve.
If the machinery of the Law could be depended on to fathom every case of suspicion, and to conduct every process of inquiry, with moderate assistance only from the lubricating influences of oil of gold, the events which fill these pages might have claimed their share of the public attention in a Court of Justice.
But the Law is still, in certain inevitable cases, the pre-engaged servant of the long purse; and the story is left to be told, for the first time, in this place. As the Judge might once have heard it, so the Reader shall hear it now. No circumstance of importance, from the beginning to the end of the disclosure, shall be related on hearsay evidence. When the writer of these introductory lines (Walter Hartright by name) happens to be more closely connected than others with the incidents to be recorded, he will describe them in his own person. When his experience fails, he will retire from the position of narrator; and his task will be continued, from the point at which he has left it off, by other persons who can speak to the circumstances under notice from their own knowledge, just as clearly and positively as he has spoken before them.
Thus, the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness—with the same object, in both cases, to present the truth always in its most direct and most intelligible aspect; and to trace the course of one complete series of events, by making the persons who have been most closely connected with them, at each successive stage, relate their own experience, word for word.
Let Walter Hartright, teacher of drawing, aged twenty-eight years, be heard first.

II
It was the last day of July. The long hot summer was drawing to a close; and we, the weary pilgrims of the London pavement, were beginning to think of the cloud-shadows on the corn-fields, and the autumn breezes on the sea-shore.
For my own poor part, the fading summer left me out of health, out of spirits, and, if the truth must be told, out of money as well. During the past year I had not managed my professional resources as carefully as usual; and my extravagance now limited me to the prospect of spending the autumn economically between my mother’s cottage at Hampstead and my own chambers in town.
The evening, I remember, was still and cloudy; the London air was at its heaviest; the distant hum of the street-traffic was at its faintest; the small pulse of the life within me, and the great heart of the city around me, seemed to be sinking in unison, languidly and more languidly, with the sinking sun. I roused myself from the book which I was dreaming over rather than reading, and left my chambers to meet the cool night air in the suburbs. It was one of the two evenings in every week which I was accustomed to spend with my mother and my sister. So I turned my steps northward in the direction of Hampstead.
Events which I have yet to relate make it necessary to mention in this place that my father had been dead some years at the period of which I am now writing; and that my sister Sarah and I were the sole survivors of a family of five children. My father was a drawing-master before me. His exertions had made him highly successful in his profession; and his affectionate anxiety to provide for the future of those who were dependent on his labours had impelled him, from the time of his marriage, to devote to the insuring of his life a much larger portion of his income than most men consider it necessary to set aside for that purpose. Thanks to his admirable prudence and self-denial my mother and sister were left, after his death, as independent of the world as they had been during his lifetime. I succeeded to his connection, and had every reason to feel grateful for the prospect that awaited me at my starting in life.
The quiet twilight was still trembling on the topmost ridges of the heath; and the view of London below me had sunk into a black gulf in the shadow of the cloudy night, when I stood before the gate of my mother’s cottage. I had hardly rung the bell before the house door was opened violently; my worthy Italian friend, Professor Pesca, appeared in the servant’s place; and darted out joyously to receive me, with a shrill foreign parody on an English cheer.
On his own account, and, I must be allowed to add, on mine also, the Professor merits the honour of a formal introduction. Accident has made him the starting-point of the strange family story which it is the purpose of these pages to unfold.
I had first become acquainted with my Italian friend by meeting him at certain great houses where he taught his own language and I taught drawing. All I then knew of the history of his life was, that he had once held a situation in the University of Padua; that he had left Italy for political reasons (the nature of which he uniformly declined to mention to any one); and that he had been for many years respectably established in London as a teacher of languages.
Without being actually a dwarf—for he was perfectly well proportioned from head to foot—Pesca was, I think, the smallest human being I ever saw out of a show-room. Remarkable anywhere, by his personal appearance, he was still further distinguished among the rank and file of mankind by the harmless eccentricity of his character. The ruling idea of his life appeared to be, that he was bound to show his gratitude to the country which had afforded him an asylum and a means of subsistence by doing his utmost to turn himself into an Englishman. Not content with paying the nation in general the compliment of invariably carrying an umbrella, and invariably wearing gaiters and a white hat, the Professor further aspired to become an Englishman in his habits and amusements, as well as in his personal appearance. Finding us distinguished, as a nation, by our love of athletic exercises, the little man, in the innocence of his heart, devoted himself impromptu to all our English sports and pastimes whenever he had the opportunity of joining them; firmly persuaded that he could adopt our national amusements of the field by an effort of will precisely as he had adopted our national gaiters and our national white hat.
I had seen him risk his limbs blindly at a fox-hunt and in a cricket-field; and soon afterwards I saw him risk his life, just as blindly, in the sea at Brighton.
We had met there accidentally, and were bathing together. If we had been engaged in any exercise peculiar to my own nation I should, of course, have looked after Pesca carefully; but as foreigners are generally quite as well able to take care of themselves in the water as Englishmen, it never occurred to me that the art of swimming might merely add one more to the list of manly exercises which the Professor believed that he could learn impromptu. Soon after we had both struck out from shore, I stopped, finding my friend did not gain on me, and turned round to look for him. To my horror and amazement, I saw nothing between me and the beach but two little white arms which struggled for an instant above the surface of the water, and then disappeared from view. When I dived for him, the poor little man was lying quietly coiled up at the bottom, in a hollow of shingle, looking by many degrees smaller than I had ever seen him look before. During the few minutes that elapsed while I was taking him in, the air revived him, and he ascended the steps of the machine with my assistance. With the partial recovery of his animation came the return of his wonderful delusion on the subject of swimming. As soon as his chattering teeth would let him speak, he smiled vacantly, and said he thought it must have been the Cramp.
When he had thoroughly recovered himself, and had joined me on the beach, his warm Southern nature broke through all artificial English restraints in a moment. He overwhelmed me with the wildest expressions of affection—exclaimed passionately, in his exaggerated Italian way, that he would hold his life henceforth at my disposal—and declared that he should never be happy again until he had found an opportunity of proving his gratitude by rendering me some service which I might remember, on my side, to the end of my days.
I did my best to stop the torrent of his tears and protestations by persisting in treating the whole adventure as a good subject for a joke; and succeeded at last, as I imagined, in lessening Pesca’s overwhelming sense of obligation to me. Little did I think then—little did I think afterwards when our pleasant holiday had drawn to an end—that the opportunity of serving me for which my grateful companion so ardently longed was soon to come; that he was eagerly to seize it on the instant; and that by so doing he was to turn the whole current of my existence into a new channel, and to alter me to myself almost past recognition.
Yet so it was. If I had not dived for Professor Pesca when he lay under water on his shingle bed, I should in all human probability never have been connected with the story which these pages will relate—I should never, perhaps, have heard even the name of the woman who has lived in all my thoughts, who has possessed herself of all my energies, who has become the one guiding influence that now directs the purpose of my life.

III
Pesca’s face and manner, on the evening when we confronted each other at my mother’s gate, were more than sufficient to inform me that something extraordinary had happened. It was quite useless, however, to ask him for an immediate explanation. I could only conjecture, while he was dragging me in by both hands, that (knowing my habits) he had come to the cottage to make sure of meeting me that night, and that he had some news to tell of an unusually agreeable kind.
We both bounced into the parlour in a highly abrupt and undignified manner. My mother sat by the open window laughing and fanning herself. Pesca was one of her especial favourites and his wildest eccentricities were always pardonable in her eyes. Poor dear soul! from the first moment when she found out that the little Professor was deeply and gratefully attached to her son, she opened her heart to him unreservedly, and took all his puzzling foreign peculiarities for granted, without so much as attempting to understand any one of them.
My sister Sarah, with all the advantages of youth, was, strangely enough, less pliable. She did full justice to Pesca’s excellent qualities of heart; but she could not accept him implicitly, as my mother accepted him, for my sake. Her insular notions of propriety rose in perpetual revolt against Pesca’s constitutional contempt for appearances; and she was always more or less undisguisedly astonished at her mother’s familiarity with the eccentric little foreigner. I have observed, not only in my sister’s case, but in the instances of others, that we of the young generation are nothing like so hearty and so impulsive as some of our elders. I constantly see old people flushed and excited by the prospect of some anticipated pleasure which altogether fails to ruffle the tranquillity of their serene grandchildren. Are we, I wonder, quite such genuine boys and girls now as our seniors were in their time? Has the great advance in education taken rather too long a stride; and are we in these modern days, just the least trifle in the world too well brought up?
Without attempting to answer those questions decisively, I may at least record that I never saw my mother and my sister together in Pesca’s society, without finding my mother much the younger woman of the two. On this occasion, for example, while the old lady was laughing heartily over the boyish manner in which we tumbled into the parlour, Sarah was perturbedly picking up the broken pieces of a teacup, which the Professor had knocked off the table in his precipitate advance to meet me at the door.
« I don’t know what would have happened, Walter, » said my mother, « if you had delayed much longer. Pesca has been half mad with impatience, and I have been half mad with curiosity. The Professor has brought some wonderful news with him, in which he says you are concerned; and he has cruelly refused to give us the smallest hint of it till his friend Walter appeared. »
« Very provoking: it spoils the Set, » murmured Sarah to herself, mournfully absorbed over the ruins of the broken cup.
While these words were being spoken, Pesca, happily and fussily unconscious of the irreparable wrong which the crockery had suffered at his hands, was dragging a large arm-chair to the opposite end of the room, so as to command us all three, in the character of a public speaker addressing an audience. Having turned the chair with its back towards us, he jumped into it on his knees, and excitedly addressed his small congregation of three from an impromptu pulpit.
« Now, my good dears, » began Pesca (who always said « good dears » when he meant « worthy friends »), « listen to me. The time has come—I recite my good news—I speak at last. »
« Hear, hear! » said my mother, humouring the joke.
« The next thing he will break, mamma, » whispered Sarah, « will be the back of the best arm-chair. »
« I go back into my life, and I address myself to the noblest of created beings, » continued Pesca, vehemently apostrophising my unworthy self over the top rail of the chair. « Who found me dead at the bottom of the sea (through Cramp); and who pulled me up to the top; and what did I say when I got into my own life and my own clothes again? »
« Much more than was at all necessary, » I answered as doggedly as possible; for the least encouragement in connection with this subject invariably let loose the Professor’s emotions in a flood of tears.
« I said, » persisted Pesca, « that my life belonged to my dear friend, Walter, for the rest of my days—and so it does. I said that I should never be happy again till I had found the opportunity of doing a good Something for Walter—and I have never been contented with myself till this most blessed day. Now, » cried the enthusiastic little man at the top of his voice, « the overflowing happiness bursts out of me at every pore of my skin, like a perspiration; for on my faith, and soul, and honour, the something is done at last, and the only word to say now is—Right-all-right! »
It may be necessary to explain here that Pesca prided himself on being a perfect Englishman in his language, as well as in his dress, manners, and amusements. Having picked up a few of our most familiar colloquial expressions, he scattered them about over his conversation whenever they happened to occur to him, turning them, in his high relish for their sound and his general ignorance of their sense, into compound words and repetitions of his own, and always running them into each other, as if they consisted of one long syllable.
« Among the fine London Houses where I teach the language of my native country, » said the Professor, rushing into his long-deferred explanation without another word of preface, « there is one, mighty fine, in the big place called Portland. You all know where that is? Yes, yes—course-of-course. The fine house, my good dears, has got inside it a fine family. A Mamma, fair and fat; three young Misses, fair and fat; two young Misters, fair and fat; and a Papa, the fairest and the fattest of all, who is a mighty merchant, up to his eyes in gold—a fine man once, but seeing that he has got a naked head and two chins, fine no longer at the present time. Now mind! I teach the sublime Dante to the young Misses, and ah!—my-soul-bless-my-soul!—it is not in human language to say how the sublime Dante puzzles the pretty heads of all three! No matter—all in good time—and the more lessons the better for me. Now mind! Imagine to yourselves that I am teaching the young Misses to-day, as usual. We are all four of us down together in the Hell of Dante. At the Seventh Circle—but no matter for that: all the Circles are alike to the three young Misses, fair and fat,—at the Seventh Circle, nevertheless, my pupils are sticking fast; and I, to set them going again, recite, explain, and blow myself up red-hot with useless enthusiasm, when—a creak of boots in the passage outside, and in comes the golden Papa, the mighty merchant with the naked head and the two chins.—Ha! my good dears, I am closer than you think for to the business, now. Have you been patient so far? or have you said to yourselves, ‘Deuce-what-the-deuce! Pesca is long-winded to-night?' »
We declared that we were deeply interested. The Professor went on:
« In his hand, the golden Papa has a letter; and after he has made his excuse for disturbing us in our Infernal Region with the common mortal Business of the house, he addresses himself to the three young Misses, and begins, as you English begin everything in this blessed world that you have to say, with a great O. ‘O, my dears,’ says the mighty merchant, ‘I have got here a letter from my friend, Mr.——'(the name has slipped out of my mind; but no matter; we shall come back to that; yes, yes—right-all-right). So the Papa says, ‘I have got a letter from my friend, the Mister; and he wants a recommend from me, of a drawing-master, to go down to his house in the country.’ My-soul-bless-my-soul! when I heard the golden Papa say those words, if I had been big enough to reach up to him, I should have put my arms round his neck, and pressed him to my bosom in a long and grateful hug! As it was, I only bounced upon my chair. My seat was on thorns, and my soul was on fire to speak but I held my tongue, and let Papa go on. ‘Perhaps you know,’ says this good man of money, twiddling his friend’s letter this way and that, in his golden fingers and thumbs, ‘perhaps you know, my dears, of a drawing-master that I can recommend?’ The three young Misses all look at each other, and then say (with the indispensable great O to begin) « O, dear no, Papa! But here is Mr. Pesca’ At the mention of myself I can hold no longer—the thought of you, my good dears, mounts like blood to my head—I start from my seat, as if a spike had grown up from the ground through the bottom of my chair—I address myself to the mighty merchant, and I say (English phrase) ‘Dear sir, I have the man! The first and foremost drawing-master of the world! Recommend him by the post to-night, and send him off, bag and baggage (English phrase again—ha!), send him off, bag and baggage, by the train to-morrow!’ ‘Stop, stop,’ says Papa; ‘is he a foreigner, or an Englishman?’ ‘English to the bone of his back,’ I answer. ‘Respectable?’ says Papa. ‘Sir,’ I say (for this last question of his outrages me, and I have done being familiar with him—) ‘Sir! the immortal fire of genius burns in this Englishman’s bosom, and, what is more, his father had it before him!’ ‘Never mind,’ says the golden barbarian of a Papa, ‘never mind about his genius, Mr. Pesca. We don’t want genius in this country, unless it is accompanied by respectability—and then we are very glad to have it, very glad indeed. Can your friend produce testimonials—letters that speak to his character?’ I wave my hand negligently. ‘Letters?’ I say. ‘Ha! my-soul-bless-my-soul! I should think so, indeed! Volumes of letters and portfolios of testimonials, if you like!’ ‘One or two will do,’ says this man of phlegm and money. ‘Let him send them to me, with his name and address. And—stop, stop, Mr. Pesca—before you go to your friend, you had better take a note.’ ‘Bank-note!’ I say, indignantly. ‘No bank-note, if you please, till my brave Englishman has earned it first.’ ‘Bank-note!’ says Papa, in a great surprise, ‘who talked of bank-note? I mean a note of the terms—a memorandum of what he is expected to do. Go on with your lesson, Mr. Pesca, and I will give you the necessary extract from my friend’s letter.’ Down sits the man of merchandise and money to his pen, ink, and paper; and down I go once again into the Hell of Dante, with my three young Misses after me. In ten minutes’ time the note is written, and the boots of Papa are creaking themselves away in the passage outside. From that moment, on my faith, and soul, and honour, I know nothing more! The glorious thought that I have caught my opportunity at last, and that my grateful service for my dearest friend in the world is as good as done already, flies up into my head and makes me drunk. How I pull my young Misses and myself out of our Infernal Region again, how my other business is done afterwards, how my little bit of dinner slides itself down my throat, I know no more than a man in the moon. Enough for me, that here I am, with the mighty merchant’s note in my hand, as large as life, as hot as fire, and as happy as a king! Ha! ha! ha! right-right-right-all-right! » Here the Professor waved the memorandum of terms over his head, and ended his long and voluble narrative with his shrill Italian parody on an English cheer. »
My mother rose the moment he had done, with flushed cheeks and brightened eyes. She caught the little man warmly by both hands.
« My dear, good Pesca, » she said, « I never doubted your true affection for Walter—but I am more than ever persuaded of it now! »
« I am sure we are very much obliged to Professor Pesca, for Walter’s sake, » added Sarah. She half rose, while she spoke, as if to approach the arm-chair, in her turn; but, observing that Pesca was rapturously kissing my mother’s hands, looked serious, and resumed her seat. « If the familiar little man treats my mother in that way, how will he treat me? » Faces sometimes tell truth; and that was unquestionably the thought in Sarah’s mind, as she sat down again.
Although I myself was gratefully sensible of the kindness of Pesca’s motives, my spirits were hardly so much elevated as they ought to have been by the prospect of future employment now placed before me. When the Professor had quite done with my mother’s hand, and when I had warmly thanked him for his interference on my behalf, I asked to be allowed to look at the note of terms which his respectable patron had drawn up for my inspection.
Pesca handed me the paper, with a triumphant flourish of the hand.
« Read! » said the little man majestically. « I promise you my friend, the writing of the golden Papa speaks with a tongue of trumpets for itself. »
The note of terms was plain, straightforward, and comprehensive, at any rate. It informed me,
First, That Frederick Fairlie, Esquire, of Limmeridge House. Cumberland, wanted to engage the services of a thoroughly competent drawing-master, for a period of four months certain.
Secondly, That the duties which the master was expected to perform would be of a twofold kind. He was to superintend the instruction of two young ladies in the art of painting in water-colours; and he was to devote his leisure time, afterwards, to the business of repairing and mounting a valuable collection of drawings, which had been suffered to fall into a condition of total neglect.
Thirdly, That the terms offered to the person who should undertake and properly perform these duties were four guineas a week; that he was to reside at Limmeridge House; and that he was to be treated there on the footing of a gentleman.
Fourthly, and lastly, That no person need think of applying for this situation unless he could furnish the most unexceptionable references to character and abilities. The references were to be sent to Mr. Fairlie’s friend in London, who was empowered to conclude all necessary arrangements. These instructions were followed by the name and address of Pesca’s employer in Portland Place—and there the note, or memorandum, ended.
The prospect which this offer of an engagement held out was certainly an attractive one. The employment was likely to be both easy and agreeable; it was proposed to me at the autumn time of the year when I was least occupied; and the terms, judging by my personal experience in my profession, were surprisingly liberal. I knew this; I knew that I ought to consider myself very fortunate if I succeeded in securing the offered employment—and yet, no sooner had I read the memorandum than I felt an inexplicable unwillingness within me to stir in the matter. I had never in the whole of my previous experience found my duty and my inclination so painfully and so unaccountably at variance as I found them now.
« Oh, Walter, your father never had such a chance as this! » said my mother, when she had read the note of terms and had handed it back to me.
« Such distinguished people to know, » remarked Sarah, straightening herself in the chair; « and on such gratifying terms of equality too! »
« Yes, yes; the terms, in every sense, are tempting enough, » I replied impatiently. « But before I send in my testimonials, I should like a little time to consider—— »
« Consider! » exclaimed my mother. « Why, Walter, what is the matter with you? »
« Consider! » echoed my sister. « What a very extraordinary thing to say, under the circumstances! »
« Consider! » chimed in the Professor. « What is there to consider about? Answer me this! Have you not been complaining of your health, and have you not been longing for what you call a smack of the country breeze? Well! there in your hand is the paper that offers you perpetual choking mouthfuls of country breeze for four months’ time. Is it not so? Ha! Again—you want money. Well! Is four golden guineas a week nothing? My-soul-bless-my-soul! only give it to me—and my boots shall creak like the golden Papa’s, with a sense of the overpowering richness of the man who walks in them! Four guineas a week, and, more than that, the charming society of two young misses! and, more than that, your bed, your breakfast, your dinner, your gorging English teas and lunches and drinks of foaming beer, all for nothing—why, Walter, my dear good friend—deuce-what-the-deuce!—for the first time in my life I have not eyes enough in my head to look, and wonder at you! »
Neither my mother’s evident astonishment at my behaviour, nor Pesca’s fervid enumeration of the advantages offered to me by the new employment, had any effect in shaking my unreasonable disinclination to go to Limmeridge House. After starting all the petty objections that I could think of to going to Cumberland, and after hearing them answered, one after another, to my own complete discomfiture, I tried to set up a last obstacle by asking what was to become of my pupils in London while I was teaching Mr. Fairlie’s young ladies to sketch from nature. The obvious answer to this was, that the greater part of them would be away on their autumn travels, and that the few who remained at home might be confided to the care of one of my brother drawing-masters, whose pupils I had once taken off his hands under similar circumstances. My sister reminded me that this gentleman had expressly placed his services at my disposal, during the present season, in case I wished to leave town; my mother seriously appealed to me not to let an idle caprice stand in the way of my own interests and my own health; and Pesca piteously entreated that I would not wound him to the heart by rejecting the first grateful offer of service that he had been able to make to the friend who had saved his life.
The evident sincerity and affection which inspired these remonstrances would have influenced any man with an atom of good feeling in his composition. Though I could not conquer my own unaccountable perversity, I had at least virtue enough to be heartily ashamed of it, and to end the discussion pleasantly by giving way, and promising to do all that was wanted of me.
The rest of the evening passed merrily enough in humorous anticipations of my coming life with the two young ladies in Cumberland. Pesca, inspired by our national grog, which appeared to get into his head, in the most marvellous manner, five minutes after it had gone down his throat, asserted his claims to be considered a complete Englishman by making a series of speeches in rapid succession, proposing my mother’s health, my sister’s health, my health, and the healths, in mass, of Mr. Fairlie and the two young Misses, pathetically returning thanks himself, immediately afterwards, for the whole party. « A secret, Walter, » said my little friend confidentially, as we walked home together. « I am flushed by the recollection of my own eloquence. My soul bursts itself with ambition. One of these days I go into your noble Parliament. It is the dream of my whole life to be Honourable Pesca, M.P.! »
The next morning I sent my testimonials to the Professor’s employer in Portland Place. Three days passed, and I concluded, with secret satisfaction, that my papers had not been found sufficiently explicit. On the fourth day, however, an answer came. It announced that Mr. Fairlie accepted my services, and requested me to start for Cumberland immediately. All the necessary instructions for my journey were carefully and clearly added in a postscript.
I made my arrangements, unwillingly enough, for leaving London early the next day. Towards evening Pesca looked in, on his way to a dinner-party, to bid me good-bye.
« I shall dry my tears in your absence, » said the Professor gaily, « with this glorious thought. It is my auspicious hand that has given the first push to your fortune in the world. Go, my friend! When your sun shines in Cumberland (English proverb), in the name of heaven make your hay. Marry one of the two young Misses; become Honourable Hartright, M.P.; and when you are on the top of the ladder remember that Pesca, at the bottom, has done it all! »
I tried to laugh with my little friend over his parting jest, but my spirits were not to be commanded. Something jarred in me almost painfully while he was speaking his light farewell words.
When I was left alone again nothing remained to be done but to walk to the Hampstead cottage and bid my mother and Sarah good-bye.

BUY HERE https://payhip.com/b/1aiO

WILKIE COLLINS

Wilkie COLLINS (1824-1889), elder son of the landscape painter William Collins. He was educated at private schools in London, but gained his real education on a two-year tour of Italy with his family (1836-38). He worked briefly for a tea importer and was later called to the bar, but never practised. His first book, a biography of his father, was published in 1848, and he later wrote numerous articles and short stories for Dickens´s periodicals “Household Words” and “All the Year Round” and for other journals, a book about a walking tour in Cornwall, and many moderately successful plays; but his reputation rests on his novels. His first was “Antonina” (1850), a historical novel about the fall of Rome; but with “Basil” (1852) he found his true metier as an expert in mystery, suspense, and crime. His finest work, the Novel of Sensation, was written in the 1860s, when he produced “The Woman in White” (1860), “No Name” (1862), “Armadale” (1866), and “The Moonstone” (1868). Collins wrote the first full-length detective stories in English, and set a mould for the genre which has lasted for a century. He excelled at constructing ingenious and meticulous plots, and made interesting experiments in narrative technique.

BUY HERE https://payhip.com/b/1aiO

65 MANERAS DE MATAR A SU VÍCTIMA, SOBRE EL PAPEL

THE CRIME WRITER´S HANDBOOK, por Douglas Wynn constituye una herramienta notablemente eficaz en el taller de todo escritor que comienza a escribir novela negra o policíaca. El libro lleva el sugerente subtítulo de: “65 maneras de matar a su víctima, sobre el papel”, claro. Aunque luego cada cual haga con él lo que quiera, si no teme afrontar el peso de la ley. La estructura de la obra presenta tres partes bien delimitadas y sucesivas: métodos de asesinato, métodos de detección y de ciencia forense, finalmente una parte miscelánea que incluye procedimientos policiales, términos legales y otros conceptos útiles, a menudo necesarios para evitar cometer errores por parte de aquellos que no estén familiarizados con el aspecto técnico del asunto. Ya que una cosa es el aspecto estético del asesinato, para lo cual remito más bien a de Quincey y a su “Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts”, y otra cosa la tarea de la policía desde que se establece la escena del crimen hasta que finaliza el juicio, si lo hay. En cada una de las partes, las diferentes entradas vienen presentadas por orden alfabético, lo que facilita una búsqueda ulterior. También junto a cada método aparece una notación sobre 10, que incluye tres aspectos en lo que concierne a la primera parte, métodos de asesinato, a saber: disponibilidad (si el asesino ha decidido estrangular a su víctima, no tiene que ir muy lejos para encontrar el arma del delito, pues es sus propias manos; en cambio, si ha determinado utilizar curare pues lo tendrá algo más crudo, por eso Wynn califica este último con una nota de 3 sobre 10), eficacia, y la mayor o menor facilidad con que los investigadores lo pueden detectar. Para continuar con el curare, precisemos que tiene un 7 sobre 10 de eficacia y un 4 sobre diez en detección. En cuanto a los métodos de detección utilizados por las fuerzas del orden, la calificación viene dada en orden a dos aspectos: facilidad de observación y eficacia. Todo ello va acompañado de breves resúmenes tanto de casos reales, como de ficción.

Quien esté interesado, lo puede encontrar en amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crime-Writers-Handbook-guides/dp/0749003456

Y quien quiera ver cómo lo he utilizado yo mismo:

BOUTIQUE

MENU DE SEPT JOURS

GUIDO MONTELUPO

FAIT DE PLANTES

Avant propos :

Une alimentation végétale pour :

Faciliter la perte de poids :

Dans une étude de 2014, les chercheurs ont comparé l’efficacité de plusieurs régimes à base de produits végétaux pour une perte de poids. Les participants étaient des adultes en surpoids entre 18 et 65 ans.
Résultats : ceux qui suivaient le régime végétalien ont perdu le plus de poids à 2 et 6 mois. Au bout de 6 mois, la perte de poids du groupe végétalien (-7,5 kg) était significativement différente de celle des omnivores (-3,1 kg), semi-végétariens (-3,2 kg) et pesco-végétariens (sans viande mais avec du poisson) (-3,2 kg).
 

CÓMPRALO AQUÍ:

https://payhip.com/b/zuoD

FRAGMENT DE « LA MAISON D´EN FACE »

Alba Longa avait veillé jusqu´à tard dans la nuit à examiner l´état de la langue manifesté par la copie du « Picatrix » que Bardes avait mis à sa disposition et il était arrivé à la conclusion qu´il s´agissait d´un faux ; obtenu, sans aucun doute, en passant d´abord par une traduction du latin, mise ensuite en castillan par un linguiste expert, certes, mais qui a dû travailler seul et évidement, sur un texte aussi long, on fait toujours des erreurs par inadvertance, oui, des incompatibilités chronologiques, ou, pour employer le langage de Saussure : une fausse superposition de synchronies. Il est évident que la synchronie médiévale présente des nombreuses fluctuations et hésitations, bien que toujours à l´intérieur de certaines limites. Alba était parvenu à repérer quelques-unes de ces maladresses, en nombre suffisant pour établir un diagnostic, et les avait relevés soigneusement. Mais bien sûr, ce que Bardes lui avait demandé était une expertise complète, et ceci supposait beaucoup de travail encore.
D´autre part, la lecture du document était ardue, du moins en ce qui concerne le premier traité, car il réclamait des connaissances élevées en astrologie et astronomie que lui il était loin de posséder.
Malgré la fatigue, il s´était imposé l´obligation de se lever tôt, raison pour laquelle il avait pris la précaution de laisser le volet grand ouvert, afin que le soleil le réveille de bonne heure et ce fut ainsi.
Pendant sa douche, il commença à considérer que Bardes courait certainement un risque en faisant des affaires avec des gens qui, de toute évidence, prétendaient le rouler dans la farine. S´ils essaient là-dessus, ils pouvaient parfaitement le faire à d´autres choses, ou l´avoir déjà fait. Il semble peu probable qu´ils l´aient acheté ce manuscrit eux-mêmes sans une expertise préalable, tel que Bardes compte bien réaliser. Alors il ne semble pas infondé de conclure que la falsification vient d´eux. Cependant il faudrait connaître les circonstances exactes et Bardes n´a pas fourni des explications détaillées.
Depuis sa fenêtre il put constater qu´on servait le petit-déjeuner sur la terrasse et que Bardes était déjà à table, en train de lire le journal. Ainsi, il décida de s´habiller à la hâte et de prendre la collation avec son hôte. Dans l´escalier il rencontra Clara laquelle déposa joyeusement deux bisous sur ses joues à guise de bonjour.
En les voyant arriver, le peintre plia son journal et l´abandonna nonchalamment sur les dalles.
-Vous êtes tous deux du matin ! C´est un indice qui suggère une vie saine. Même si vous avez travaillé jusqu´à bien tard cette nuit. Les vieux nous dormons mal et j´ai vu la lumière à votre fenêtre.
Alba eut l´impression que Bardes allait lui solliciter une première appréciation sur le document, mais il n´en fut rien.
-Voyons, grand-père, ne fais pas des ronds de jambe. Tu sais bien que tu n´es pas vieux. Ton problème est que tu es possédé par l´addiction à la peinture. Il est grand temps que tu te calmes.
-Je l´ai déjà fait, ma petite. Mon œil n´est plus le même, et ma main s´est alourdie, quoi que tu dises.
-En tout cas, il faudrait que tu commences à profiter d´une journée comme celle-ci, par exemple, en lisant au soleil dans ton jardin ou bien en te promenant un peu par la montagne.
-Je vais peut-être le faire. Ce n´est pas une mauvaise idée. Et toi, comment tu penses profiter de cette magnifique journée ?
-J´avais prévu faire un tour par la gallérie voir comment les choses se passent par là. Aussi, je nourrissais l´espoir qu´Alba ait la bonté de m´accompagner. Ça nous donnerait l´occasion de déjeuner dans un excellent restaurant du port de Villefranche.
Alba avait escompté travailler dur tout au long de la journée, afin de s´assurer qu´il établissait solidement le plan de son exposition. Mais, bien sûr, il lui sembla que ce n´était pas, peut-être, très poli de refuser une proposition si gentiment avancée. Alors il accepta sans laisser paraître l´ombre d´un doute sur son visage.
-Si j´étais vous, je prendrai un peu de temps avant de sortir.
-Et pourquoi ?
-Il y a grève aujourd´hui de presque tout. De train, de bus, d´éboueurs, de professeurs de primaire et de secondaire… Les gens prennent la voiture et Nice restera congestionnée au moins jusqu´à 10h.
-Dis donc ! -s´écria Clara, résignée. –
-Cette fois il me semble que c´est sérieux – une étincelle brûlait dans les prunelles de Bardes. – La loi El-Khomri a été la goutte qui a fait déborder le vase. Les reformes de Macron et ses prises de position provocatrices contre ceux qui vivent, ou aspirent à vivre, de leur travail, l´article 49-3, les révélations nommées « Papiers de Panama », la tromperie et l´hypocrisie permanentes, la formidable manœuvre de la globalisation, dont le but inavoué est d´enrichir les riches et d´appauvrir les pauvres, avec en toile de fond cette crise enveloppée d´un manteau de suspicion. Tout ceci a eu comme conséquence que les masses ont été bien forcées, en fin, d´ouvrir les yeux, même ceux qui volontairement les fermaient afin de ne pas voir, pareil aux âmes sensibles qui les couvrent devant un film d´horreur. Des chapitres comme celui de la crise grecque ont fait tomber les voiles et les masques et par conséquent les agents économiques et politiques apparaissent avec leur véritable visage de vipère saturée de venin et assoiffée de sang. Malgré tout ils ne connaissent pas toute la vérité : à savoir, que, dans pas longtemps, s´ils souhaiteront encore respirer un peu d´air, comme avant, avoir une toute petite parcelle de vie, on ne leur a pas laissé d´autre alternative qu´arracher jusqu´aux fondations cette société capitaliste, ne pas laisser pierre sur pierre, mettre tout à plat, tel un peuple barbare qui refuse d´entendre autre raison qui ne soit celle de sa propre survivance. Car il ne s´agit plus de maintenir une société de classes, mais plutôt de presser jusqu´à la moelle épinière le jus des masses, de leur voler toute possibilité d´absorption d´une seule goutte de vie et de leur escamoter tout reflet de dignité, par ce que sans dignité il n´y a pas d´indignation. Dans le comble de leur orgueil, ils ont serré les boulons à bloc, au point qu´on pourrait s´en passer des yeux, puisque même les yeux des aveugles ressentent la pression.
Alba fit un bref geste d´assentiment.
-J´admets -avoua-il- que j´ai toujours été un européen convaincu, persuadé que cette diversité de langues et de cultures, d´un prestige largement prouvé, devait nous donner une nouvelle et imparable impulsion et que, si on arrêtait d´une fois pour toutes de taper les uns sur les autres, nous étions sur le point de créer une civilisation resplendissante, dans laquelle nous aurions tous notre place et qu´il y existerait une raisonnable possibilité de réalisation de l´individu. Cependant la crise grecque a représenté ce que vous dites, une chute des masques. Cette Europe qu´on nous prépare n´est, loin s´en faut, celle qu´on avait imaginé, celle qu´on avait espéré créer contre vents et marées.
-Les masques sont tombées et, pour la première fois en beaucoup d´années, les gens sont disposés à descendre à l´arène pour en découdre. Ici, en France, on se croit très intelligent avec ces fameuses élections à deux tours. Mais aux derniers comices, lorsque, comme d´habitude, à Nice, ne restent sur les portes des bureaux de vote que des affiches de droite et d´extrême droite, j´ai vu, collées sur les panneaux, des feuilles de papier manuscrites dans lesquelles, des gens réels, non pas des centres de pouvoir, non pas des bulldozers aplatissant le terrain avec des rouleaux d´argent, crient leur colère et où on peut lire, point par point, les mêmes choses dont je viens de faire mention. Il s´agit de gens qui ont serré les dents et qui se sont battus fièrement, afin de construire un avenir pour leurs enfants, mais ils s´en sont aperçus que leurs enfants n´ont pas d´avenir.
Bardes disait en voix haute ce qu´Alba avait pensé plus d´une fois depuis pas mal de temps. Mais un tel discours ne pouvait que le surprendre dans la bouche d´un homme qui avait connu un succès tangible, sans appel, et qui vivait entouré d´une richesse romaine.
Le peintre sembla lire dans ses pensées.
-Vous êtes peut-être surpris de voir sortir de la poche d´un riche ce genre de mots. Mais, voyez-vous, ne pas les sortir à ce moment-là serait comme commettre un péché mortel contre la vérité.
En effet, réfléchit Alba, chez Bardes prédominait l´intellectuel conscient de sa fonction en tant que tel.
-En plus de ça -conclut ce dernier- riches et moins riches, ainsi que les gueux comme des rats, nous allons tous participer à ce banquet empoisonné dont chaque convive payera très chère l´invitation.
Cette fois même Clara n´osa pas plaisanter les sentences de son grand-père, quoiqu’il semblât évident qu´elle aurait bien souhaité leur enlever un peu de leur acidité. Mais elle s´abstint.
-Mais enfin -s´empressa la jeune fille à changer de sujet- il va falloir patienter jusqu´à 10 heures au moins.
-De mon côté, je crois que je vais suivre ton conseil et faire une petite promenade par le versant de cette montagne. Ça me fera du bien un peu d´exercice. Alors je ne vous attends pas pour le déjeuner. C´est très bien, la jeunesse doit sortir et voir le monde.
-On dirait que pour se rendre à Villefranche il faudrait franchir la ligne des tropiques.
-Bien, bien. Ne vous empressez pas de rentrer. Aujourd´hui le temps est splendide, mais il parait que ça ne va pas durer.

« Oui, il a passé la nuit à la maison. C´était à prévoir, les mouches commencent à tourner près du gâteau. La paix relative dont on a profité jusqu´à maintenant ne pouvait pas durer. Heureusement nous disposons de ressources pour écraser ceux qui, de façon délibérée ou pas, se rapprochent trop de l´épicentre de ce tourbillon tellurique. Voilà la mission qu´on m´a assigné et je ne connais point un plaisir comparable à celui d´accomplir, point par point, toutes les obligations susceptibles de garantir la sécurité absolue de celle-ci. Encore une nuit et je serais raisonnablement autorisé à prendre les mesures préventives adéquates pour faire face à une situation d´urgence. Même s´il faut, par la suite, modifier quelque peu le rapport. Les effluves du sang du dernier exécuté ont éveillé les bêtes sauvages qui sommeillaient et qui se sont mises à rôder tout au long des frontières de la conscience et voilà, elles m´ont ôté la paix ».

mansión-encantada-3parte

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=La+maison+d%C2%B4en+face+alba+longa

FRAGMENTO DE « LA MANSIÓN DE ENFRENTE »

La mansión de Bardés estaba, con creces, a la altura de lo que había imaginado. La joven Clara salió a abrirle la puerta que daba acceso a la propiedad.
-Pase usted, comandante. Tenga la bondad de seguirme.
Clara lo condujo a una vasta galería acristalada situada en el extremo opuesto del edificio, donde lo aguardaban Bardés y Alba Longa, sentados en confortables sillones. Había dos más alrededor de una mesilla, sobre la cual una bandeja de plata presentaba varias botellas de diferentes licores. Schluter se preguntó qué papel desempeñaría ese señor Longa en la familia cuando se hallaba, a hora tan temprana, en el hogar. A pesar de su innegable apostura, descartó, por cuestiones de edad, que fuera la pareja de Clara. No tenía constancia que ésta se hubiera asociado con nadie. ¿Por qué iba a hacerlo, teniendo el formidable apoyo financiero de su abuelo? Además, ayer parecía entrar por primera vez en la galería de Villefranche. Acaso sea un experto en quien la familia confía, a pesar de que Bardés no es precisamente bisoño en el oficio y la nieta ha demostrado poseer una competencia notable, cualidad tanto más meritoria cuando se tiene en cuenta su juventud.
-Si lo desea, puede entregarme su impermeable –sugirió Clara.-
El pintor y su acompañante se levantaron para cumplimentar a Schluter. Clara hizo las presentaciones:
-Mi abuelo, Jacobo Bardés, y el profesor Alba Longa, que ya conoce.
-Encantado.
-Pero tome asiento, comandante. ¿Desea beber algo?
-No gracias.
-¿Acaso un café?
-Si no es molestia…
-Por supuesto que no.
Jacobo Bardés en persona se puso a verter el contenido de una cafetera previamente preparada en unas tacitas de porcelana de Sèvres.
-Presumo –rompió la primera lanza Jacobo Bardés- que el renovado interés de la policía por los bocetos de Brik arranca de los luctuosos acontecimientos sobrevenidos en la persona del jardinero Vergari.
-La O.C.B.C. viene ocupándose desde hace muchos años de una vasta operación de falsificación de obras de arte que tiene su epicentro en Francia y que pone en circulación apócrifos de una extraordinaria perfección. Tanto es así que los más prestigiosos expertos no dudan en validarlos. Evidentemente el caso Vergari atrajo nuestra atención sobre estos bocetos que surgieron, convendrá conmigo, en circunstancias, cuanto menos, curiosas. Se trata de tener el espíritu tranquilo en lo que se refiere a su autenticidad. Dado que, tras la venta del lote, el suyo es el que más cerca queda, hemos considerado conveniente, si usted nos lo permite, comenzar por el análisis del mismo.
-Por supuesto. Aunque, como usted comprenderá, no hicimos una compra de esa envergadura a la ligera. Por lo que a mí se refiere, he hecho mi persona en la pintura y, modestia aparte, considero que algo entiendo en la materia. Aun así, solicitamos confirmación a varios de entre los mejores especialistas a nivel internacional. Con lo cual quiero decirle tan sólo que abordo este peritaje con serenidad.
Schluter adoptó una actitud grave y con ella se concentró en terminar el café mediante un par de sorbos. Hecho lo cual, se levantó de su asiento.
-Permítanme que les muestre algo.
El comandante se afanó poniendo la maleta plana en el suelo, descorriendo la cremallera y eligiendo algo en su interior. Finalmente extrajo un curioso cilindro negro, al que quitó la tapa y, con sumo cuidado, sacó a la luz una tela.
-Supongo que la reconoce, señor Bardés.
-Por supuesto, se trata del “Baño de Quirón”. Lo pinté hará unos cinco años.
-¿Tendría la bondad de estudiarlo detenidamente y decirnos si lo admite como suyo?
Bardés se volvió hacia su nieta.
-Clara, ¿podrías traerme un caballete y la lupa, por favor?
Cuando tuvo la tela bien montada sobre el armatoste de madera, lupa en ristre, el pintor se puso a efectuar la tarea que le habían solicitado. Primero prestando atención a cada detalle, en todas las zonas del cuadro. Luego, bajando el instrumento óptico, tomó campo, juzgó la luminosidad, el efecto de los colores, el impacto de la pieza. El examen había durado un buen momento, pero al cabo Bardés parecía satisfecho.
-No hay duda, es el “Baño de Quirón”.
Schluter sonrió.
-Ahora hágame el favor de examinar este otro.
El comandante sacó otro tubo negro y de él un cuadro exactamente igual al primero. Un nuevo “Baño de Quirón”.
Bardés lo contempló intensamente, antes de pedir a Clara un nuevo caballete, que colocó enfrente del primero. El pintor realizó en primer lugar una inspección similar a la anterior. Luego, armado de su lupa de gran aumento, iba de un cuadro a otro como una veleta en un día tormentoso. Al cabo, visiblemente desconcertado, exclamó:
-Yo diría que ambos son el “Baño de Quirón”.
-Pero usted sólo pintó uno.
-Naturalmente.
-Difícil determinar cuál es el verdadero y cuál el falso, incluso para usted, que es el autor.
Bardés parecía su futura estatua de cera. Pero todavía no se daba por vencido. Se lanzó a verificar un detalle, que enseguida iba a cotejar en el cuadro frontero y así iba de uno a otro como va una abeja de flor en flor. Al final tuvo que rendirse.
-Los dos son iguales. No sabría decir cuál de los dos es el mío.
-Estamos ante un falsificador genial –concluyó Schluter.-
Luego añadió:
-Y prolífico. Desgraciadamente.
Poco después, en un compartimento especial del banco, ambos especialistas se volcaron en un examen particularmente riguroso del boceto de “Night-time” que duró cerca de una hora. Tras el cual llegaron a la conclusión compartida de que nada había en él que permitiera alimentar una objeción seria a la atribución del mismo a Brik. Pero, ¿quién sabe?

mansion

COMPRA AQUÍ:

https://payhip.com/dashboard

PRÉSENTATION DE « LA MAISON D´EN FACE »

Durant plus de trois décennies, une poignée de falsificateurs de génie, tous des peintres de renommée, travailla avec un tel acharnement et une telle maîtrise que, de nos jours, personne ne peut être assuré de posséder l´original de tel ou tel tableau de n´importe quel peintre célèbre, que ça soit de l´époque actuelle ou d´une période quelconque du passé. Les experts scientifiques, utilisant les techniques modernes de datation et d´attribution, les galeristes les plus prestigieux, les historiens de l´art, commissaires-priseurs et autres intervenants du milieu, ont tous validé des faux qui ont été donc admis comme authentiques et vendus en tant que tels. Une censure stricte a été imposée aux médias, un véritable veto est tombé des instances supérieures qui a fait de ce sujet un tabou. Car si cela devenait de domaine public, la méfiance par rapport à ce que le système a consacré comme la « monnaie suprême d´échange », laquelle non seulement ne se dévalue jamais, mais bien au contraire, au cours des années a augmenté sa valeur suivant une progression géométrique, sèmerait la panique et le chaos. Les élites qui exercent le pouvoir absolu perdraient des quantités colossales d´argent et leur influence diminuerait, ce qui porterait atteinte à leurs projets inavouables. Avec une parfaite maîtrise de la technique du thriller, Alba Longa nous fait le récit d´une expérience troublante par ses connotations et qui l´a, lui-même, entrainé au point de mettre sa vie en danger. LA MAISON D´EN FACE nous présente une cosmopolite Nice qui s´apprête à vivre les évènements les plus dramatiques de son histoire.

TAMBIÉN PUEDES COMPRAR AQUÍ:

https://payhip.com/b/GQja