The Grey Cloak (Chapter 8, page 1 of 19)


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Chapter 8

Time doled out to the marquis a lagging hour. There were moments when
the sounds of merriment, coming from the dining-hall, awakened in his
breast the slumbering canker of envy,--envy of youth, of health, of the
joy of living. They were young in yonder room; the purse of life was
filled with golden metal; Folly had not yet thrown aside her cunning
mask, and she was still darling to the eye. Oh, to be young again; that
light step of youth, that bold and sparkling glance, that steady
hand,--if only these were once more his! Where was all the gold Time had
given to him? Upon what had he expended it, to have become thus
beggared? To find an apothecary having the elixir of eternal youth! How
quickly he would gulp the draft to bring back that beauty which had so
often compelled the admiration of women, a Duchesse de Montbazon, a
Duchesse de Longueville, a Princesse de Savoie, among the great; a Margot
Bourdaloue among the obscure!

Margot Bourdaloue. . . . The marquis closed his eyes; the revelry
dissolved into silence. How distinctly he could see that face,
sculptured with all the delicacy of a Florentine cameo; that yellow hair
of hers, full of captive sunshine; those eyes, giving forth the
velvet-bloom of heartsease; those slender brown hands which defied the
lowliness of her birth, and those ankles the beauty of which not even the
clumsy sabots could conceal! He knew a duchess whose line of blood was
older than the Capets' or the Bourbons'. Was not nature the great
Satirist? To give nobility to that duchess and beauty to that peasant!
Margot Bourdaloue, a girl of the people, of that race of animals he
tolerated because they were necessary; of the people, who understood
nothing of the poetry of passing loves; Margot Bourdaloue, the one
softening influence his gay and careless life had known.

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