Magic Skin | Honoré de Balzac | Literary Fiction | Sound Book | English | 8/10

Magic Skin | Honoré de Balzac | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 9/10



section 9 of the magic skin by honoré Balzac translated by ellen marriage this LibriVox recording is in the public domain section 9 now after the first interchange of civilities raphael thought it necessary to pay Monsieur love real a banal compliment upon his Ducks oh we are well off for ducks a naturalist replied the genus moreover as you doubtless know is the most prolific in the order of Palma peds it begins with the Swan and ends with the zinzin duck comprising in all 137 very distinct varieties each having its own name habits country and character and everyone no more like another then a white man is like a Negro really sir when we dine off a duck we have no notion for the most part of the vast extent he interrupted himself as he saw a small pretty duck come up to the surface of the pond there you see the cravat and Swan a poor native of Canada he has come a very long way to show us his brown and gray plumage and his little black cravat look he is bringing himself that one is the famous Eider duck that provides the down the eiderdown under which our fine ladies sleep isn't it pretty who would not admire the little pinkish white breast and the green beak I have just been a witness sir he went on to our marriage that had long been despaired of bringing about they have paired rather auspiciously and I shall await the results very eagerly this will be a hundred and thirty-eight species I flatter myself to which perhaps my name will be given that is the newly matched pair he said pointing out to the Ducks one of them is a laughing goose honest I would be frawls and the other the great Whistling Duck who falls honest Rufina I have hesitated a long while between the whistling duck the duck with white eyebrows and the Shoveler duck honest Clippy octa stay that is the Shoveler that fat brownish black rascal with the greenish neck and that coquettish iridescent on it but the Whistling Duck was a created one sir and you will understand that I deliberated no longer we only lack the variegated black cap duck now these gentlemen here unanimously claimed that that variety of duck is only a repetition of the curved beak teal but for my own part and the gesture he made was worth seeing it expressed at once the modesty and pride of a man of science the pride full of obstinacy and the modesty well tempered with assurance I don't think it is he added you see my dear sir that we are not amusing ourselves here I am engaged at this moment upon a monograph on the genus duck but I am at your disposal while they went towards a rather pleasant a house in the Rue de Beaufort Raphael submitted the skin to miss your lovely inspection I know the product said the man of science when he had turned his magnifying glass upon the talisman it used to be used for covering boxes the shagreen is very old they prefer to use skates skin nowadays for making sheaths this as you are doubtless aware is the hide of a Rajah sapphire a red sea fish but this sir since you are so exceedingly good this the man of science interrupted as he presumed this is quite another thing between these two shagreen sir there is a difference just as wide as between sea and land or fish and flesh the fish's skin is harder however than the skin of the land animal this he said as he indicated the talisman is as you doubtless know one of the most curious of zoological products but to proceed said Raphael this replied the man of science as he flung himself down into his armchair is an ass's skin sir yes I know the young man a very rare variety of ass found in Persia the naturalist continued the honour of the ancients Equus asinus the Kulin of the Tartars Paulus went out there to observe it and has made it known to science for as a matter of fact the animal for a long time was believed to be mythical it is mentioned as you know in Holy Scripture Moses for bad that it should be coupled with its own species and the Oringer is as yet more famous for the prostitutions of which it was the object and which are often mentioned by the prophets of the Bible Paulus as you know doubtless states in his act Petra come to that these bizarre excesses are still devoutly believed in among the Persians and the nor guys as a sovereign remedy for lumbago and sciatic gout we poor Parisians scarcely believe that the museum has no example of the homage er what a magnificent animal he continued it is full of mystery its eyes are provided with a sort of burnished covering to which the Orientals attribute the powers of fascination it has a glossy er and finer coat than our handsomest horses possess striped with more or less tawny bands very much like the Zebras hide there is something pliant and silky about its hair which is sleek to the touch its powers of sight volume precision and accuracy with those of man it is rather larger than our largest domestic donkeys and is possessed of extraordinary courage if it is surprised by any chance it defends itself against the most dangerous wild beasts with remarkable success the rapidity of its movements can only be compared with the flight of birds and honoured Jura sir would run the best Arab or Persian horses death according to the father of the car she etches dr. Niebuhr whose recent loss we are deploying as you doubtless know the ordinary average pace of one of these wonderful creatures would be 7000 geometric feet per hour our own degenerate race of donkeys can give no idea of the ass in his pride and independence he is active and spirited in his demeanor he is cunning and sagacious there is grace about the outlines of his head every movement is full of attractive charm in the east he is the king of beasts Turkish and Persian superstition even credits him with a mysterious origin and when stories of the prowess attributed to him are told in Tibet or tottery the speakers mingle Solomon's name with that of this noble animal at a monitor in short is worth an enormous amount it is well nigh impossible to catch them among the mountains with a leap like robots and seem as if they could fly like birds our myth of the winged horse our Pegasus has its origin doubtless in these countries where the shepherds could see the honor springing from one rock to another in Persia they breed asses for the saddle a cross between a tamed imager and as she asks and they paint them red following immemorial tradition perhaps it was this custom that gave rise to our own proverb surely as a red donkey at some period when Natural History was much neglected in France I think a traveller must have brought over one of these strange beasts that endures servitude with such impatience hence the adage the skin that you have laid before me is the skin of a knowledge er opinions differ as the origin of the name some claim that Calgary is a Turkish word others insist that kagura must be the name of the place where this animal product underwent the chemical process of preparation so clearly described by Paulus to which the peculiar graining which we admire is due Martellus has written to me saying that Hungary is a river I thank you sir for the information that you have given me it would furnish an admirable footnote to some don't clam a or other if such area tight Hermits yet exist but I have had the honor of pointing out to you that this scrap was in the first instance quite as large as that map said Raphael indicating an open Atlas tool of real but it has shrunk visibly in three months time quite so said the man of science I understand the remains of any substance primarily organic are naturally subject to a process of decay it is quite easy to understand and this progress depends upon atmospherical conditions even metals contract and expand appreciably for engineers have remarked somewhat considerable interspecies between great blocks of stone originally clamped together with iron bars the field of science is boundless but human life is very short so we do not claim to be acquainted with all the phenomena of nature pardon the question that I am about to ask you sir Raphael began half embarrassed but are you quite sure that this piece of skin is subject to the ordinary laws of zoology and that it can be stretched certainly Oh bother muttered initial of real trying to stretch the talisman but if you sir will go to see planchette he added the celebrated professor of mechanics he will certainly discover some method of acting upon this skin of softening and expanding it ah sir you are the preserver of my life and Raphael took leave of the learned naturalist and hurried off to planchette leaving the worthy love real in his study all the bottles and dried plants that filled it up quite unconsciously Raphael brought away with him from this visit all of science that man can grasp a terminology to it love RIA the worthy man was very much like Sancho Panza giving to Don Quixote the history of the goats he was entertaining himself by making out a list of animals and ticking them off even now that his life was nearing its end he was scarcely acquainted with a mere fraction of the countless numbers of the great tribes that God has scattered for some unknown and throughout the ocean of the worlds Raphael was well pleased I shall keep my ass well in hand cried he Stern had said to before his day let us take care of our ass if we wish to live to old age but it is such a fantastic brute planchette was a tall thin man a man of surety lost in one continual thought and always employed in grazing into the bottomless pit of motion commonplace Minds accused these lofty intellects of madness they form a misinterpreted race apart that lives in a wonderful carelessness of luxuries or other peoples and oceans they will spend whole days at a stretch smoking a cigar that has gone out and enter a drawing-room with the buttons on their garments not in every case formerly wedded to the buttonholes some day or other after a long time spent in measuring space or in accumulating X's under a a – GG they succeed in analyzing some natural law and resolve it into its elemental principles and all on a sudden the crowd gapes at a new machine or it is a handcart perhaps that overwhelms us with astonishment by the app – simplicity of its construction the modest man of science smile his admirers and remarks what is that invention of mine nothing whatever man cannot create a force he can but direct it and science consists in learning from nature the mechanician was standing bolt upright planted on both feet like some victim dropped straight from the jib it when Rafael broke in upon him he was intently watching an agate ball that rolled over a sundial and waited its final settlement the worthy man had received neither pension nor decoration he had not known how to make the right use of his ability for calculation he was happy in his life spent on the watch for the discovery he had no thought either of reputation of the outer world nor even of himself and led the life of science for the sake of science it is inexplicable he exclaimed ah your servant sir he went on becoming aware of Rafael's existence how was your mother you must go and see my wife and I also could have lived thus for Raphael as he recalled the learned man from his meditations by asking him how to produce any effect on the talisman which he placed before him although my credulity must amuse you sir so the Marcus ended I will conceal nothing from you that skin seems to me to be endowed with an insuperable power of resistance people of fashion sir always treat science rather superciliously said planchette they all talk to us pretty much as the in cryo blooded when he brought some ladies to seal along just after an eclipse and remarked be so good as to begin it over again what effect do you want to produce the object of the science of mechanics is either the application or the neutralization of the laws of motion as for motion pure and simple I tell you humbly that we cannot possibly define it that disposed of unvarying phenomena have been observed which accompany the actions of solids and fluids if we set up the conditions by which these phenomena are brought to pass we can transport bodies or communicate locomotive power to them at a predetermined rate of speed we can project them divide them up in a few or an infinite number of pieces accordingly as we break them or grind them to powder we can twist bodies or make them rotate modify compress expand or extend them the whole science Asura rests upon a single fact you see this ball he went on here it lies upon this slab now it is over there what name shall we give to what has taken place so natural from a physical point of view so amazing from a moral movement locomotion changing a place what prodigious vanity lurks underneath the words does a name solve the difficulty yet it is the place of our science for all that our machines either make direct use of this agency this fact or they convert it this trifling phenomenon applied to large masses would send Paris flying we can increase speed by an expenditure of force and augment the force by an increase of speed but what our speed and force our science is as powerless to tell us that as to create motion any movement whatever is an immense power and man does not create power of any kind everything is movement what itself is a movement upon movement nature is based death is of movement whose limitations are little known if God is eternal be sure that he moves perpetually perhaps God is movement that is why movement like God is inexplicable unfathomable unlimited in comprehensible intangible who has ever touched comprehended or measured movement we feel its effects without seeing it we can even deny them as we can deny the existence of God where is it where is it not whence comes it what is its source what is its end it surrounds us it intrudes upon us and yet escapes us it is evident as a fact obscure as an abstraction it is at once effect and cause it requires space even as we and what is space movement alone recalls it to us without movement space is but an empty meaningless word like space like creation like the infinite movement is an insoluble problem which confounds a human reason man will never conceive it whatever else he may be permitted to conceive between each point and space occupied in succession by that ball continued the man of science there is an abyss confronting human reason and abyss into which Pascal fell in order to produce any effect upon an unknown substance we are first of all to study the substance to know whether in accordance with its nature it will be broken by the force of a blow or whether it will withstand it if it breaks in pieces and you have no wish to split it up we shall not achieve the end proposed if you want to compress it a uniform impulse must be communicated to all the particles of the substance so as to diminish the interval that separates them in an equal degree if you wish to expand it we should try to bring a uniform eccentric force to bear on every molecule for unless we conform accurately to this law we shall have breaches in continuity the modes of motion sir are infinite and no limit exists two combinations of movement upon what effect have you determined I want any kind of pressure that is strong enough to expand the skin indefinitely began Rafael quite out of patience substance is finite the mathematician put in and therefore will not admit of indefinite expansion but pressure will necessarily increase the extent of surface at the expense of the thickness which will be diminished until the point is reached where the material gives out bring about that result sir Rafael crimeans then I should rob you of your money reply the other phlegmatic as a Dutchman I am going to show you in a word or two that a machine can be made that is fit to crush prominence itself in pieces like a fly it would reduce a man to the conditions of a piece of waste paper a man boots and spurs hat and cravat crickets and gold and all what a fearful machine instead of flinging their brats into the water the Chinese ought to make them useful in this way the man of science went on without reflecting on the regard man has for his progeny quite absorbed by his idea planchette took an empty flowerpot with a hole in the bottom and put it on the surface of the dial then he went to look for a little clay in a corner of the garden Rafael stood spellbound like a child to whom his nurse is telling some wonderful story Blanchette put the clay down upon the slab drew a pruning knife from his pocket cut two branches from an elder tree and began to clean them of pith by blowing through them as if Rafael had not been present these are the rudiments of the apparatus he said then he connected one of the wooden pipes with the bottom of the flowerpot by way of a clay joint in such a way that the mouth of the elder stem was just under the whole of the flowerpot you might have compared it to a big tobacco pipe he spread a bit of clay over the surface the slab in a shovel shaped mass set down the flowerpot at the wider end of it and laid the pipe of the elder stem along the portion which represented the handle of the shovel then he put a lump of clay at the end of the elder stem and therein planted the other pipe in an upright position forming a second elbow which connected it with the first horizontal pipe in such a manner that the air or any given fluid in circulation could flow through this improvised piece of mechanism from the mouth of the vertical tube along with the intermediate passages and so into the large empty flowerpot this apparatus sir he said to Raphael with all the gravity of an academician pronouncing his initiatory discourse is one of the great Pascal's grandest claims upon our admiration I don't understand the man of science smiled he went up to a fruit tree and took down a little file in which the druggist had sent him some liquid for catching ants he broke off the bottom and made a funnel of the top carefully fitting it to the mouth of the vertical hollowed stem that he had put in the clay and at the opposite end to the great reservoir represented by the flower pot next by means of a watering pot he poured in sufficient water to rise to the same level in the large vessel and in the tiny circular funnel at the end of the Eldar stem Raphael was thinking of his piece of skin water is considered today sir to be an incompressible body said the mechanician never lose sight of that fundamental principle still it can be compressed though only so very slightly that we should regard its faculty for contracting as a zero you see the amount of surface presented by the water at the brim of the flowerpot yes sir very good now suppose that that surface is a thousand times larger than the orifice of the elder stem through which I poured the liquid Here I am taking the funnel away granted well then if by any method at whatever I increase the volume of that quantity of water by pouring in yet more the mouth of the little tube the water thus compelled to flow downwards would rise in the reservoir represented by the flowerpot until it reached the same level at either end that is quite clear cried Raphael but there is this difference the other one on suppose that the thin column of water poured into the little vertical tube there exerts a force equal say to a pound weight for instance its action will be functionally communicated to the great body of the liquid and will be transmitted to every part of the surface represented by the water in the flowerpot so that at the surface there will be a thousand columns of water every one pressing upwards as if they were impelled by a force equal to that which compels the liquid to descend in the vertical tube and of necessity they reproduce here said planchette indicating to Raphael the top of the flowerpot the force introduced over there a thousand fold and the man of science pointed out to the Marquis the upright wooden pipe set in the clay that is quite simple that Raphael planchette smiled again in other words he went on with the mathematicians natural stubborn propensity for logic in order to resist the force of the incoming water it would be necessary to exert upon every part of the larger surface a force equal to that brought into action in the vertical column but with this difference if the column of liquid is a foot in height a thousand little columns of the wide surface we'll only have a very slight elevating power now said planchette as he gave a fillip to his bits of stick let us replace this funny little apparatus by steel tubes of suitable strength and dimensions and if you cover the liquid surface of the reservoir with a strong sliding plate of metal and if to this metal plate you oppose another solid enough and strong enough to resist any test if furthermore you give me the power of continually adding water to the volume of liquid contents by means of the little vertical tube the object fixed between the two solid metal plates must of necessity yield to the tremendous crushing force which indefinitely compresses it the method of continually pouring in water through a little tube like the manner of communicating force through the volume of the liquid to a small metal plate is an absurdly primitive mechanical device a brace of Pistons and a few valves would do it all do you perceive my dear sir he said taking Vala tap by the arm there is scarcely a substance in existence that would not be compelled to dilate when fixed in between these two indefinitely resisting services what the author of the letter of Provencal invented it Raphael exclaimed yes and no other sir the science of mechanics knows no simpler nor more beautiful contrivance the opposite principle the capacity of expansion possessed by water has brought the steam engine into being but water will only expand up to a certain point while its incompressibility being a force in a manner negative is of necessity infinite if this skin is expanded sin Raphael I promise you to erect a colossal statue to Blaise Pascal to found a prize of can be offered every 10 years for the solution of the grandest problem of mechanical science affected during the interval to find dalories for all your cousins and second cousins and finally to build an asylum on purpose for impoverished or insane mathematicians that would be exceedingly useful planchette replied we will go to spike halter tomorrow sir he continued with the serenity of a man living on a plain holy intellectual that distinguished mechanic has just completed after my own designs and improved mechanical arrangement by which a child could get a thousand trusses of hay inside his cap then good bye till tomorrow till tomorrow sir talk of mechanics cried Raphael isn't it the grandis of the sciences the other fellow with his honours classifications ducks and species and his files are full of mottled monstrosities is at best only fit for a billiard marker in a saloon the next morning Raphael went off in great spirits to find planchette and together they set out for the Rue de la salt auspicious appellation arrived at speak halters the young man found himself in a vast foundry his eyes lighted upon a multitude of glowing and roaring furnaces there was a storm of sparks a deluge of nails an ocean of pistons vices levers valves girders files and nuts a sea of melted metal walks of timber and bar steel iron filings filled your throat there was iron in the atmosphere the men were covered with it everything wreaked of iron the iron seemed to be a living organism it became a fluid moved and seemed to shape itself intelligently after every fashion to obey the workers every Caprice through the uproar made by the bellows the crescendo of the falling hammers and the shrill sounds of the lathes that drew groans are from the steel Rafael passed into a large clean and every place where he was able to inspect at his leisure the great press that planchette had told him about he admired the cast iron beams as one might call them and the twin bars of Steel coupled together with indestructible bolts if he were to give a seven rapid turns to that crank said to speak halter pointing out a beam of polished steel would make a steel bar spurt out in thousands of jets that would go into your legs like needles the Dooce exclaimed the rafael planchette himself slipped the piece of skin between the metal plates of the all-powerful press and brim full of the certainty of a scientific conviction he worked the crank energetically live flat all of you we are dead men thundered speak halter as he himself fell prone on the floor a hideous shrinking sound rang through the workshops the water in the machine had broken the chamber and now spouted out in a jet of incalculable force luckily it went in the direction of an old furnace which was overthrown enveloped and carried away by a waterspout AHA remarked planchette serenely the piece of skin is as safe and sound as my eye there was a flaw in your reservoir somewhere or a crevasse in the large tube no no I know my reservoir the devil is in your contrivance sir you can take it away and the German pounced upon a Smith's hammer plumbed the skin down on an anvil and with all the strength that rage gives dealt the talisman the most formidable blow that had ever resounded throughout his workshops there is not so much as a mark on it said the planchette stroking the perverse bits of skin the workmen hardly did the foreman took the skin and buried it in the glowing coal of a forge while in a semi-circle round at the fire they all waited the action of a huge pair of bellows Rafael's big halter and professor planchette stood in the midst of the grimy expectant crowd Raphael looking round on faces dusted over with iron filings white eyes greasy blackened clothing and hairy chests could have fancied himself transported into the wild nocturnal world of German ballad poetry after the skin had been in the fire for ten minutes the foreman pulled it out with a pair of pincers hand it over to me said Raphael the foreman held it out by way of a joke the Marquis readily handled it it was cool and flexible between his fingers an exclamation of alarm went up the workman fled in terror palette I was left alone with planchette and the empty workshop there is certainly something infernal in the thing cried Raphael and desperation is no human power able to give me one more day of existence I made a mistake sir said the mathematician with a penitent expression we ought to have subjected that peculiar skin to the action of a rolling machine where could my eyes have been when I suggested compression it was I that asked for it Raphael answered the mathematician heaved a sigh of relief like a culprit acquitted by a dozen jurors still the strange problem afforded by the skin interest in him he meditated a moment and then remarked this unknown material ought to be treated chemically by reagents let us call on a chef a perhaps at the chemist may have better luck then the mechanic vallata urged his horse into a rapid trot hoping to find the chemist the celebrated chef a in his laboratory well old friend planchette began Jeff a in his armchair examining a precipitate how goes chemistry gone to sleep nothing new at all the Academy however has recognized the existence of Salah scene but Salah scene asparagine evoke Killeen and digitally are not really discoveries since you cannot invent substances at Rafael you are obliged to fall back on inventing names most emphatically true young man here said planchette addressing the chemist trying to analyze this composition if you can extract any element whatever from it I christen it diamo lien beforehand for we have just smashed a hydraulic press and trying to compress it let's see let's have a look at it cried the delighted the chemist it may perhaps be a fresh element it is simply a piece of the skin of an ass or say no Rafael sir said the illustrious chemist sternly I am not joking the Marquis answered laying the piece of skin before him baron Jaffe applied the nervous fibers of his tongue to the skin he had skill in thus detecting salts acids alkalis and gases after several experiments he remarked no taste whatever come we will give it a little fluoric acid to drink subjected to the influence of this ready solvent of animal tissue the skin underwent no change whatsoever it is not shagreen at all the chemist cried we will treat this unknown mystery as a mineral and try its mettle by dropping it in a crucible where I have at this moment some red potash Jeff a went out and returned almost immediately allow me to cut away a bit of this strange substance sir he said to Raphael it is so extraordinary a bit exclaimed Raphael not so much as a hair's breadth you may try though he added half bantering Lee half sad the chemists broke a razor in his desire to cut the skin he tried to break it by a powerful electric shock next he submitted it to the influence of a galvanic battery but all the Thunderbolts his science voted of fell harmless on the dreadful talisman it was seven o'clock in the evening planchette Jeff a Raphael unaware of the flight of time were awaiting the outcome of a final experiment the magic skin emerged triumphant from a formidable encounter in which it had been engaged with a considerable quantity of fluoride of nitrogen it is all over with me Raphael weld it is the finger of God I shall die and he left the two amazed scientific men we must be very careful not to talk about this affair at the academy our colleagues there would laugh at us floette remarked to the chemist after a long pause in which they looked at each other without daring to communicate their thoughts the learner de perak looked like two Christians who had issued from their tombs to find a new God in the heavens science had been powerless acids so much clear water red potash had been discredited the galvanic battery and electric shock had been a couple of playthings a hydraulic press broken like a biscuit commented Blanchette I believe in the devil said Barron with FA after a moment's silence and I in God replied planchette each spoke in character the universe of a mechanician is a machine that requires an operator for chemistry that fiendish employment of decomposing all things the world is a gas endowed with the power of movement we cannot deny the fact the chemist replied Shaw those gentlemen the doctor dares have invented a nebulous aphorism for our consolation stupid as your aphorism said the chemist seems to me as a fact very stupid they began to laugh and went off to dine like folk for whom a miracle is nothing more than a phenomena valid have reached his own house shivering with rage and consumed with anger he had no more faith in anything conflicting thoughts shifted and surged to and fro in his brain as is the case with every man brought face to face with an inconceivable fact he had literally believed in some hidden flaw and speak halters apparatus he had not been surprised by the incompetence and failure of science and of fire but the flexibility of the skin as he handled it taken with its stubbornness when all means of destruction that man possesses had been brought to bear upon it in vain these things terrified him again convertible fact made him dizzy I am mad he muttered I have had no food since the morning and yet I am neither hungry nor thirsty and there is a fire in my breast that burns me he put back the skin in the frame where it had been enclosed but lately drew a line in red ink about the actual configuration of the talisman and seated himself in the armchair 8 o clock already he exclaimed today has gone like a dream he leaned his elbow on the arm of the chair and propped his head with his left hand and so remained lost in the secret dark reflections and consuming thoughts that men condemned to die bear away with them all pauline he cried poor child there are gulfs that love can never traverse despite the strength of his wings just then he very distinctly heard a smothered sigh I knew by one of the most tender privileges of passionate love that it was Pauline's breathing that is my death warrant he said to himself if she were there I should wish to die in her arm a burst of gleeful and hearty laughter made him turn his face toward the bed he saw Pauline's a face through the transparent curtains smiling like a child for gladness over a successful piece of mischief her pretty hair fell over her shoulders and countless girls she looked like a Bengal rose upon a pile of white roses I cajoled Jonathan said she doesn't the bed belong to me to me who I'm your wife don't scold me darling I only wanted to surprise you to sleep beside you forgive me for my freak she sprang out of bed like a kitten showed herself gleaming in her long raiment and sat down on Raphael's knee love what Gulf were you talking about she said with an anxious expression apparent upon her face death you hurt me she answered there are some thoughts upon which we poor women that we are cannot dwell they are death to us is it strength of love in us or a lack of courage I cannot tell death does not frighten me she began again laughingly to die with you both together tomorrow morning and one last embrace would be joy it seems to me that even then I should have lived more than a hundred years what does the number of days matter if we have spent a whole lifetime of peace and love and one night in one hour you are right heaven is speaking through that pretty mouth of yours granted I may kiss you and let us die said raphael then let us die she said laughing towards a nine o'clock in the morning the daylight streamed through the chinks of the window shutters obscured somewhat by the muslin curtains it yet suffice to show clearly the rich colours of the carpet the silks and furniture of the room when the two lovers were lying asleep the gilding sparkled here and there a ray of sunshine fell and faded upon the soft down quilt that the streaks of life had to the ground the outlines of Pauline's dress hanging from the chevron glass appeared like a shadowy ghost her daily shoes had been left at a distance from the Med a nightingale came to perch upon the sill its trills repeated over again and the sounds of its wings suddenly shaken out for flight awoke Raphael for me to die he said following out a thought begun in his dream my organisation the mechanism of flesh and bone that is quickened by the will in me and makes of me an individual man must display some perceptible disease doctors ought to understand the symptoms of any attack on vitality and could tell me whether I am sick or sound he gazed at his sleeping wife she had stretched her head out to him expressing in this way even while she slept the anxious tenderness of love Pauline seemed to look at him as she lay with her face turned towards him in an attitude as full of grace as a young child's with her pretty half opened mouth held out towards him as she drew her light even breath a little pearly teeth seemed to heighten the redness of the fresh lips with the smile hovering over them the red glow in her complexion was brighter and its whiteness was so to speak whiter still just then than in the most impassioned moments of the waking day in her unconstrained grace as she lay so full of believing trust the adorable attractions of childhood were added to the enchantments of love even the most unaffected women still obey certain social conventions which restrain the free expression of the soul within them during their waking hours but slumber seems to give them back the spontaneity of life which makes infancy lovely Pauline blushed for nothing she was like one of those beloved and heavenly things and who reason has not yet put motives into their actions and mystery into their glances a profile stood out in sharp relief against the fine cambric of the pillows there was a certain sprightliness about her loose hair in confusion mingled with the deep lace ruffles and she was sleeping and Happiness her long lashes were tightly pressed against her cheeks as if to secure her eyes from too strong a light or to aid an effort of her soul to recollect and to hold fast a bliss that had been perfect but fleeting her tiny pink and white ear framed by a lock of her hair and outlined by a wrapping of mechlin lace would have made an artist a painter an old man wildly in love and would perhaps have restored a mad man to his senses is it not an ineffable bliss to behold the woman that you love sleeping smiling in a peaceful dream beneath your protection loving you even in dreams even at the point where the individual seems to cease to exist offering to you yet the mute lips that speak to you in slumber of the latest kiss is it not indescribable happiness to see your trusty woman half clad but wrapped round in her love as by a cloak modesty in the midst of dishevelment to see admiringly her scattered to clothing the silken stocking hastily pulled off to please you last evening the unclasped girdle that implies a boundless faith in you a whole romance lies there in that girdle the woman that it used to protect exists no longer she gives yours she has become you henceforward any betrayal of her is a blow dealt at yourself in this softened mood Raphael's eyes wandered over the room now filled with memories and love and where the very daylight seemed to take delightful hues when he turned his gaze at last upon the outline the woman's of form upon youth and purity and love that even now had no thought that was not for him alone above all things and longed to live forever as his eyes fell upon Pauline her own opened at once as if a ray of sunlight had lighted on them good morning she said smiling how handsome you are Batman the grace of love and youth of silence and dawn shown in their faces making a divine picture with the fleeting spell over it all that belongs only to the earliest days of passion just as simplicity and artlessness are the peculiar possession of childhood alas love's spring tide joys like our own youthful laughter must even take flight and live for us no longer save in memory either for our despair or to shed some soothing fragrance over us according to the vent of our inmost thoughts what made me wake you said Raphael it was so great a pleasure to watch you sleeping that it brought tears to my eyes and to mine to she answered I cried in the night while I watched you sleeping but not with happiness Raphael dear pray listen to me your breathing is labored while you sleep and something rattles in your chest that frightens me you have a little dry cough when you are asleep exactly like my father who is dying of thisss in those sounds from your lungs I recognized some of the peculiar symptoms of that complaint then you are feverish I know you are your hand was moist and burning darling you are young she added with a shudder and you could still get over it if unfortunately but no she cried cheerfully there is no unfortunately the disease is contagious so the doctors say she flung both arms about Raphael drawing in his breath through one of those kisses in which the reaches its end I do not wish to live to an old age she said let us both die young and go to heaven while flowers fill our hands we always make such designs as those when we are well and strong Raphael replied burying his hands in Pauline's hair but even then a horrible fit of coughing came on one of those deep ominous coughs that seemed to come from the depths of the tomb a cough that leaves the sufferer ghastly pale trembling and perspiring with aching sides and quivering nerves with a feeling of weariness pervading the very marrow of the spine and unspeakable anger in every vein Raphael slowly laid himself down pale exhausted and overcome like a man who has spent all the strength in him over one final effort Pauline's eyes grown large with terror well fixed upon him she lay quite motionless pale and silent let us commit no more Follies my angel she said trying not to let Raphael see the dreadful forebodings that disturbed her she covered her face with her hands for she saw death before her the hideous skeleton Raphael's face had grown as pale and livid as any skull on earth from a churchyard to assist the studies of some scientific man Pauline remembered the exclamation that had escaped from Velata the previous evening and to herself she said yes there are gulfs that love can never cross and there in love must bury itself on a March morning some days after this wretched scene Raphael found himself seated in an armchair placed in the window and the full light of day for doctors to around him each intern trying his pulse feeling him over and questioning him with apparent interest the invalid sought to guess their thoughts putting a construction on ever they made and on the slightest contractions of their brows his last hope lay in this consultation this court of appeal was about to pronounce its decision life or death well it had summoned the Oracles of modern medicine so that he might have the last word of science thanks to his wealth and title they stood before him three embodied theories human knowledge fluctuated round at the three points three of the doctors brought among them the complete circle of medical philosophy they represented the points of conflict around which the battle raged between spiritualism analysis and goodness knows what in the way of mocking eclecticism the Fourth Doctor was Horus being call a man of science with a future before him the most distinguished man of the new school in medicine a discrete and unassuming representative of a studious generation that is preparing to receive the inheritance of fifty years of experience treasured up by the occult Amari a generation that perhaps will erect the monument for the building of which the centuries behind us have collected the different materials as a personal friend of the Marquis and of rusting yak he had been in attendance on the former for some days past and was helping him to answer the inquiries of the three professors occasionally insisting somewhat upon those symptoms which in his opinion pointed to pulmonary disease you have been living at a great pace leading a dissipated life no doubt and you have devoted yourself largely to intellectual work queried one of the three celebrated authorities addressing Rafael he was a square headed man with a large frame and energetic organization which seemed to mark him out as superior to his two rivals I made up my mind to kill myself with debauchery after spending three years over an extensive work with which perhaps you may someday occupy yourselves Raphael replied the great doctor shook his head and so displayed his satisfaction I was short of it he seemed to say to himself he was the illustrious and police say the successor of come on eat and be shot the head of the organic school a doctor popular with believers in material and positive science who see a man a complete individual subject solely to the laws of his own particular organization and who considers that his normal condition an abnormal state of disease can both be traced to obvious causes after his reply we say looked without speaking at a middle sized person whose darkly flushed countenance and glowing eyes seemed to belong to some antique satyr and who leaning his back against the corner of the embrasure was studying Raphael without saying a word doctor come a riskless a man of creeds and enthusiasms the head of the vitalists a romantic champion of the historic doctrines of van Helmont discerned a lofty informing principle in human life a mysterious and inexplicable phenomenon which marks at the scalpel deceives the surgeon eludes the drugs of the pharmacopoeia the formulae of algebra the demonstrations of anatomy and D rides all our efforts a sort of invisible intangible flame which obeying some divinely appointed law will often linger on in a body in our opinion devoted to death while it takes flight from our organization well fitted for prolonged existence a bitter smile hovered upon the lips of the third doctor Moe Girardi a man of acknowledged ability but a parent and a scoffer with the scalpel for his one article of faith he would consider as a concession to please a that a man who as a matter of fact was perfectly well was dead and recognized with common reach was that a man might be living on after his apparent demise he found something sensible in every theory and embraced none of them claiming that the best of all systems of medicine was to have none at all and to stick to facts this pond urge of the clinical schools the king of observers the great investigator a great skeptic the man of desperate expeditions was scrutinizing the magic skin I should very much like to be a witness of the coincidence of its retrenchment with your wish he said to the Marquis where does the use cry to be say where is the use echoed cameras juice ah you are both of the same mind replied Moga Roddy the contraction is perfectly simple Bruce a went on it is supernatural remarked camorrista s– in short Mogra deem a dancer with affected solemnity and handing the piece of skin to raphael as he spoke the shriveling Faculty of the skin is in fact in explicable and yet quite natural which ever since the world began has been the despair of medicine and of pretty women all volunteers observation could discover no trace of a feeling for his troubles and any of the three doctors the three received every answer in silence scanned him unconcernedly and interrogated him unsympathetically politeness did not conceal their indifference whether deliberation or certainty was the cause their words at any rate came so seldom and so languidly that at times Raphael thought that their attention was wandering from time to time we say the sole speaker remarked good just so as being calm pointed out the existence of each desperate symptom camarasaurus seemed to be deep in meditation mo Grundy looked like a comic author of studying two queer character with a view to reproducing them faithfully upon the stage there was deep unconcealed distress and grave compassion in Horus being calls face he had been a doctor for too short a time to be untouched by suffering and unmoved by a deathbed he had not learned to keep back the sympathetic tears that obscure a man's clear vision and prevent him from ceasing like the general of an army upon the auspicious moment for victory in utter disregard of the groans of dying men after spending about half an hour overtaking in some the sort the measure of the patient and the complaint much as a tailor measures a young man for a coat when he orders his wedding outfit the authorities ordered several common places and even talked of politics then they decided to go into a Rafael's study to exchange their ideas and frame their verdict may I not be present during the discussion gentlemen anata had asked them button press a and Mogra d protested against this and in spite of their patience and treaties declined altogether to deliberate in his presence Raphael gave way before their custom thinking that he could slip into a passenger joining whence he could easily overhear the medical conference in which the three professors were about to engage permit me gentlemen said police say as they entered to give you my own opinion at once I neither wish to force it upon you nor to have it discussed in the first place it is unbiased concise and based on an exact similarity that exists between one of my own patients and the subject that we have been called in to examine and moreover I am expected at my hospital the importance of the case that demands my presence there will excuse me for speaking the first word the subject with which we are concerned has been exhausted in an equal degree my intellectual labors what did he said about Horace he asked of the young doctor a theory of the will the devil but that's a big subject he is exhausted I say by too much brain work by irregular courses and by the repeated use of two powerful stimulants a violent exertion of body and mind has demoralized the whole system it is easy gentlemen to recognize in the symptoms of the face and body generally intense irritation of the stomach an affection of the great sympathetic nerve acute sensibility of the epigastric region and a contraction of the right and left hypochondriac you have noticed to the large size and prominence of the liver miss European call has besides constantly watched the patient and he tells us that digestion is troublesome and difficult strictly speaking there is no stomach left and so the man has disappeared the brain is atrophied because the man digests no longer the progressive deterioration wrought in the epigastric region the seat of vitality has vitiating the whole system thence by continuous fevered vibrations the disorder has reached the brain by means of the nervous plexus hence the excessive irritation in that organ there is monomania the patient is burdened with a fixed idea that piece of skin really contracts to his way of thinking very likely it always has been as we have seen it but whether it contracts or no that thing is for him just like the fly that some Grand Vizier or other had on his nose if you put leeches at once on the epigastrium and reduce the irritation in that part which is the receipt of man's life and if you diet the patient the monomania will leave him I will say no more to dr. Muir oh he should be able to grasp the whole treatment as well as the details there may be perhaps some complication of the disease the bronchial tubes possibly maybe also inflamed but I believe that treatment for the intestinal organs is very much more important at necessary and more urgently required than for the lungs persistent study of abstract matters and certain violent passions have induced serious disorders in that vital mechanism however we are in time to set these conditions right nothing is too seriously affected you will easily get your friend round again he remarked to be in calm end of section 9

One thought on “Magic Skin | Honoré de Balzac | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 9/10

  1. Magic Skin | Honoré de Balzac | Literary Fiction | Book | English | 9/10

    9: [00:00:00] – Section 09

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