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IT is my considered view that no one can invent fictional1 characters without first having made a lengthy2 study of people, just as it is impossible for anyone to speak a language that has not been properly mastered.

Since I am not yet of an age to invent, I must make do with telling a tale.

I therefore invite the reader to believe that this story is true. All the characters who appear in it, with the exception of the heroine, are still living.

I would further add that there are reliable witnesses in Paris for most of the particulars which I bring together here, and they could vouch4 for their accuracy should my word not be enough. By a singular turn of events, I alone was able to write them down since I alone was privy5 to the very last details without which it would have been quite impossible to piece together a full and satisfying account.

It was in this way that these particulars came to my knowledge.

On the 12th day of March 1847, in the rue3 Laffitte, I happened upon a large yellow notice announcing a sale of furniture and valuable curios. An estate was to be disposed of, the owner having died. The notice did not name the dead person, but the sale was to be held at 9 rue d'Antin on the 16th, between noon and five o'clock.

The notice also stated that the apartments and contents could be viewed on the 13th and 14th.

I have always been interested in curios. I promised myself I would not miss this opportunity, if not of actually buying, then at least of looking.

The following day, I directed my steps towards 9 rue d'Antin.

It was early, and yet a good crowd of visitors had already gathered in the apartment? men for the most part, but also a number of ladies who, though dressed in velvet6 and wearing Indian shawls, and all with their own elegant broughams standing7 at the door, were examining the riches set out before them with astonished, even admiring eyes.

After a while, I quite saw the reason for their admiration8 and astonishment9, for having begun myself to look around I had no difficulty in recognizing that I was in the apartment of a kept woman. Now if there is one thing that ladies of fashion desire to see above all else ?and there were society ladies present ? it is the rooms occupied by those women who have carriages which spatter their own with mud every day of the week, who have their boxes at the Opera or the Theatre-Italien just as they do, and indeed next to theirs, and who display for all Paris to see the insolent10 opulence11 of their beauty, diamonds and shameless conduct.

The woman in whose apartments I now found myself was dead: the most virtuous12 of ladies were thus able to go everywhere, even into the bedroom. Death had purified the air of this glittering den13 of iniquity14, and in any case they could always say, if they needed the excuse, that they had done no more than come to a sale without knowing whose rooms these were. I had read the notices, they had wanted to view what the notices advertised and mark out their selections in advance. It could not have been simpler ?though this did not prevent them from looking through these splendid things for traces of the secret life of a courtesan of which they had doubtless been given very strange accounts.

Unfortunately, the mysteries had died with the goddess, and in spite of their best endeavours these good ladies found only what had been put up for sale since the time of death, and could detect nothing of what had been sold while the occupant had been alive.

But there was certainly rich booty to be had. The furniture was superb. Rosewood and Buhl-work pieces, Severs15 vases and blue china porcelain16, Dresden figurines, satins, velvet and lace, everything in fact.

I wandered from room to room in the wake of these inquisitive17 aristocratic ladies who had arrived before me. They went into a bedroom hung with Persian fabrics18 and I was about to go in after them, when they came out again almost immediately, smiling and as it were put to shame by this latest revelation. The effect was to make me even keener to see inside. It was the dressing-room, complete down to the very last details, in which the dead woman's profligacy19 had seemingly reached its height.

On a large table standing against one wall ?it measured a good six feet by three ?shone the finest treasures of Aucoc and Odiot. It was a magnificent collection, and among the countless20 objects each so essential to the appearance of the kind of woman in whose home we had gathered, there was not one that was not made of gold or silver. But it was a collection that could only have been assembled piece by piece, and clearly more than one love had gone into its making.

I, who was not the least put out by the sight of the dressing-room of a kept woman, spent some time agreeably inspecting its contents, neglecting none of them, and I noticed that all these magnificently wrought21 implements22 bore different initials and all manner of coronets.

As I contemplated23 all these things, each to my mind standing for a separate prostitution of the poor girl, I reflected that God had been merciful to her since He had not suffered her to live long enough to undergo the usual punishment but had allowed her to die at the height of her wealth and beauty, long before the coming of old age, that first death of courtesans.

Indeed, what sadder sight is there than vice24 in old age, especially in a woman? It has no dignity and is singularly unattractive. Those everlasting25 regrets, not for wrong turnings taken but for wrong calculations made and money foolishly spent, are among the most harrowing things that can be heard. I once knew a former woman of easy virtue26 of whose past life there remained only a daughter who was almost as beautiful as the mother had once been, or so her contemporaries said. This poor child, to whom her mother never said 'You are my daughter' except to order her to keep her now that she was old just as she had been kept when she was young, this wretched creature was called Louise and, in obedience27 to her mother, she sold herself without inclination28 or passion or pleasure, rather as she might have followed an honest trade had it ever entered anyone's head to teach her one.

The continual spectacle of debauchery, at so tender an age, compounded by her continuing ill- health, had extinguished in the girl the knowledge of good and evil which God had perhaps given her but which no one had ever thought to nurture29.

I shall always remember that young girl who walked along the boulevards almost every day at the same hour. Her mother was always with her, escorting her as assiduously as a true mother might have accompanied her daughter. I was very young in those days and ready enough to fall in with the easy morality of the times. Yet I recall that the sight of such scandalous chaperoning filled me with contempt and disgust.

Add to all this that no virgin's face ever conveyed such a feeling of innocence30 nor any comparable expression of sadness and suffering.

You would have said it was the image of Resignation itself.

And then one day, the young girl's face lit up. In the midst of the debauches which her mother organized for her, it suddenly seemed to this sinful creature that God had granted her one happiness. And after all why should God, who had made her weak and helpless, abandon her without consolation31 to struggle on beneath the oppressive burden of her life? One day, then, she perceived that she was with child, and that part of her which remained pure trembled with joy. The soul finds refuge in the strangest sanctuaries32. Louise ran to her mother to tell her the news that had filled her with such happiness. It is a shameful33 thing to have to say ?but we do not write gratuitously34 of immorality35 here, we relate a true incident and one perhaps which we would be better advised to leave untold36 if we did not believe that it is essential from time to time to make public the martyrdom of these creatures who are ordinarily condemned37 without a hearing and despised without trial ? it is, we say, a matter for shame, but the mother answered her daughter saying that as things stood they scarcely had enough for two, and that they would certainly not have enough for three; that such children serve no useful purpose; and that a pregnancy38 is so much time wasted.

The very next day, a midwife (of whom we shall say no more than that she was a friend of the mother)called to see Louise, who remained for a few days in her bed from which she rose paler and weaker than before.

Three months later, some man took pity on her and undertook her moral and physical salvation39. But this latest blow had been too great and Louise died of the after effects of the miscarriage40 she had suffered.

The mother still lives. How? God alone knows.

This story had come back to me as I stood examining the sets of silver toilet accessories, and I must have been lost in thought for quite some time. For by now the apartment was empty save for myself and a porter who, from the doorway41, was eyeing me carefully lest I should try to steal anything.

I went up to this good man in whom I inspired such grave anxieties.

'Excuse me, ' I said, 'I wonder if you could tell me the name of the person who lived here?'

'Mademoiselle Marguerite Gautier.'

I knew this young woman by name and by sight.

'What!' I said to the porter. 'Marguerite Gautier is dead?'

'Yes, sir.'

'When did it happen?'

'Three weeks ago, I think.'

'But why are people being allowed to view her apartment?'

'The creditors42 thought it would be good for trade. People can get the effect of the hangings and the furniture in advance. Encourages people to buy, you understand.'

'So she had debts, then?'

'Oh yes, sir! Lots of'em.'

'But I imagine the sale will cover them?'

'Over and above.'

'And who stands to get the balance?'

'The family.'

'She had a family?'

'Seems she did.'

'Thank you very much.'

The porter, now reassured43 as to my intentions, touched his cap and I left.

'Poor girl, ' I said to myself as I returned home, 'she must have died a sad death, for in her world, people only keep their friends as long as they stay fit and well.' And in spite of myself, I lamented44 the fate of Marguerite Gautier.

All this will perhaps seem absurd to many people, but I have a boundless45 forbearance towards courtesans which I shall not even trouble to enlarge upon here.

One day, as I was on my way to collect a passport from the prefecture, I saw down one of the adjacent streets, a young woman being taken away by two policemen. Now I have no idea what she had done. All I can say is that she was weeping bitterly and clasping to her a child only a few months old from which she was about to be separated by her arrest. From that day until this, I have been incapable46 of spurning47 any woman on sight.































































1 fictional ckEx0     
  • The names of the shops are entirely fictional.那些商店的名字完全是虚构的。
  • The two authors represent the opposite poles of fictional genius.这两位作者代表了天才小说家两个极端。
2 lengthy f36yA     
  • We devoted a lengthy and full discussion to this topic.我们对这个题目进行了长时间的充分讨论。
  • The professor wrote a lengthy book on Napoleon.教授写了一部有关拿破仑的巨著。
3 rue 8DGy6     
  • You'll rue having failed in the examination.你会悔恨考试失败。
  • You're going to rue this the longest day that you live.你要终身悔恨不尽呢。
4 vouch nLszZ     
  • They asked whether I was prepared to vouch for him.他们问我是否愿意为他作担保。
  • I can vouch for the fact that he is a good worker.我保证他是好员工。
5 privy C1OzL     
  • Only three people,including a policeman,will be privy to the facts.只会允许3个人,其中包括一名警察,了解这些内情。
  • Very few of them were privy to the details of the conspiracy.他们中很少有人知道这一阴谋的详情。
6 velvet 5gqyO     
  • This material feels like velvet.这料子摸起来像丝绒。
  • The new settlers wore the finest silk and velvet clothing.新来的移民穿着最华丽的丝绸和天鹅绒衣服。
7 standing 2hCzgo     
  • After the earthquake only a few houses were left standing.地震过后只有几幢房屋还立着。
  • They're standing out against any change in the law.他们坚决反对对法律做任何修改。
8 admiration afpyA     
  • He was lost in admiration of the beauty of the scene.他对风景之美赞不绝口。
  • We have a great admiration for the gold medalists.我们对金牌获得者极为敬佩。
9 astonishment VvjzR     
  • They heard him give a loud shout of astonishment.他们听见他惊奇地大叫一声。
  • I was filled with astonishment at her strange action.我对她的奇怪举动不胜惊异。
10 insolent AbGzJ     
  • His insolent manner really got my blood up.他那傲慢的态度把我的肺都气炸了。
  • It was insolent of them to demand special treatment.他们要求给予特殊待遇,脸皮真厚。
11 opulence N0TyJ     
  • His eyes had never beheld such opulence.他从未见过这样的财富。
  • He owes his opulence to work hard.他的财富乃辛勤工作得来。
12 virtuous upCyI     
  • She was such a virtuous woman that everybody respected her.她是个有道德的女性,人人都尊敬她。
  • My uncle is always proud of having a virtuous wife.叔叔一直为娶到一位贤德的妻子而骄傲。
13 den 5w9xk     
  • There is a big fox den on the back hill.后山有一个很大的狐狸窝。
  • The only way to catch tiger cubs is to go into tiger's den.不入虎穴焉得虎子。
14 iniquity F48yK     
  • Research has revealed that he is a monster of iniquity.调查结果显示他是一个不法之徒。
  • The iniquity of the transaction aroused general indignation.这笔交易的不公引起了普遍的愤怒。
15 severs eb765f65d3310773d977468629157a1d     
v.切断,断绝( sever的第三人称单数 );断,裂
  • He shut his eyes to the severs reality. 对于这严峻的现实,他是闭着眼睛不肯看的。 来自《用法词典》
  • It practically severs the Mediterranean. 实际上是将地中海分开。 来自辞典例句
16 porcelain USvz9     
  • These porcelain plates have rather original designs on them.这些瓷盘的花纹很别致。
  • The porcelain vase is enveloped in cotton.瓷花瓶用棉花裹着。
17 inquisitive s64xi     
  • Children are usually inquisitive.小孩通常很好问。
  • A pat answer is not going to satisfy an inquisitive audience.陈腔烂调的答案不能满足好奇的听众。
18 fabrics 678996eb9c1fa810d3b0cecef6c792b4     
织物( fabric的名词复数 ); 布; 构造; (建筑物的)结构(如墙、地面、屋顶):质地
  • cotton fabrics and synthetics 棉织物与合成织物
  • The fabrics are merchandised through a network of dealers. 通过经销网点销售纺织品。
19 profligacy d368c1db67127748cbef7c5970753fbe     
  • Subsequently, this statement was quoted widely in the colony as an evidence of profligacy. 结果这句话成为肆意挥霍的一个例证在那块领地里传开了。 来自辞典例句
  • Recession, they reason, must be a penance for past profligacy. 经济衰退,他们推断,肯定是对过去大肆挥霍的赎罪。 来自互联网
20 countless 7vqz9L     
  • In the war countless innocent people lost their lives.在这场战争中无数无辜的人丧失了性命。
  • I've told you countless times.我已经告诉你无数遍了。
21 wrought EoZyr     
  • Events in Paris wrought a change in British opinion towards France and Germany.巴黎发生的事件改变了英国对法国和德国的看法。
  • It's a walking stick with a gold head wrought in the form of a flower.那是一个金质花形包头的拐杖。
22 implements 37371cb8af481bf82a7ea3324d81affc     
n.工具( implement的名词复数 );家具;手段;[法律]履行(契约等)v.实现( implement的第三人称单数 );执行;贯彻;使生效
  • Primitive man hunted wild animals with crude stone implements. 原始社会的人用粗糙的石器猎取野兽。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
  • They ordered quantities of farm implements. 他们订购了大量农具。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
23 contemplated d22c67116b8d5696b30f6705862b0688     
adj. 预期的 动词contemplate的过去分词形式
  • The doctor contemplated the difficult operation he had to perform. 医生仔细地考虑他所要做的棘手的手术。
  • The government has contemplated reforming the entire tax system. 政府打算改革整个税收体制。
24 vice NU0zQ     
  • He guarded himself against vice.他避免染上坏习惯。
  • They are sunk in the depth of vice.他们堕入了罪恶的深渊。
25 everlasting Insx7     
  • These tyres are advertised as being everlasting.广告上说轮胎持久耐用。
  • He believes in everlasting life after death.他相信死后有不朽的生命。
26 virtue BpqyH     
  • He was considered to be a paragon of virtue.他被认为是品德尽善尽美的典范。
  • You need to decorate your mind with virtue.你应该用德行美化心灵。
27 obedience 8vryb     
  • Society has a right to expect obedience of the law.社会有权要求人人遵守法律。
  • Soldiers act in obedience to the orders of their superior officers.士兵们遵照上级军官的命令行动。
28 inclination Gkwyj     
  • She greeted us with a slight inclination of the head.她微微点头向我们致意。
  • I did not feel the slightest inclination to hurry.我没有丝毫着急的意思。
29 nurture K5sz3     
  • The tree grows well in his nurture.在他的培育下这棵树长得很好。
  • The two sisters had received very different nurture.这俩个姊妹接受过极不同的教育。
30 innocence ZbizC     
  • There was a touching air of innocence about the boy.这个男孩有一种令人感动的天真神情。
  • The accused man proved his innocence of the crime.被告人经证实无罪。
31 consolation WpbzC     
  • The children were a great consolation to me at that time.那时孩子们成了我的莫大安慰。
  • This news was of little consolation to us.这个消息对我们来说没有什么安慰。
32 sanctuaries 532347c9fc39e40608545e03c6fe7eef     
n.避难所( sanctuary的名词复数 );庇护;圣所;庇护所
  • The designation of special marine reserves and marine sanctuaries shall be subject to the State Council for approval. 海洋特别保护区、海上自然保护区的确定,须经国务院批准。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • After 1965 he acquiesced when they established sanctuaries on that soil. 1965年以后,他默认了他们在那块土地上建立庇护所。 来自辞典例句
33 shameful DzzwR     
  • It is very shameful of him to show off.他向人炫耀自己,真不害臊。
  • We must expose this shameful activity to the newspapers.我们一定要向报社揭露这一无耻行径。
34 gratuitously 429aafa0acba519edfd78e57ed8c6cfc     
  • They rebuild their houses for them gratuitously when they are ruined. 如果他们的房屋要坍了,就会有人替他们重盖,不要工资。 来自互联网
  • He insulted us gratuitously. 他在毫无理由的情况下侮辱了我们。 来自互联网
35 immorality 877727a0158f319a192e0d1770817c46     
n. 不道德, 无道义
  • All the churchmen have preached against immorality. 所有牧师都讲道反对不道德的行为。
  • Where the European sees immorality and lawlessness, strict law rules in reality. 在欧洲人视为不道德和无规则的地方,事实上都盛行着一种严格的规则。 来自英汉非文学 - 家庭、私有制和国家的起源
36 untold ljhw1     
  • She has done untold damage to our chances.她给我们的机遇造成了不可估量的损害。
  • They suffered untold terrors in the dark and huddled together for comfort.他们遭受着黑暗中的难以言传的种种恐怖,因而只好挤在一堆互相壮胆。
37 condemned condemned     
adj. 被责难的, 被宣告有罪的 动词condemn的过去式和过去分词
  • He condemned the hypocrisy of those politicians who do one thing and say another. 他谴责了那些说一套做一套的政客的虚伪。
  • The policy has been condemned as a regressive step. 这项政策被认为是一种倒退而受到谴责。
38 pregnancy lPwxP     
  • Early pregnancy is often accompanied by nausea.怀孕早期常有恶心的现象。
  • Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage.怀孕期吸烟会增加流产的危险。
39 salvation nC2zC     
  • Salvation lay in political reform.解救办法在于政治改革。
  • Christians hope and pray for salvation.基督教徒希望并祈祷灵魂得救。
40 miscarriage Onvzz3     
  • The miscarriage of our plans was a great blow.计划的失败给我们以巨大的打击。
  • Women who smoke are more to have a miscarriage.女性吸烟者更容易流产。
41 doorway 2s0xK     
  • They huddled in the shop doorway to shelter from the rain.他们挤在商店门口躲雨。
  • Mary suddenly appeared in the doorway.玛丽突然出现在门口。
42 creditors 6cb54c34971e9a505f7a0572f600684b     
n.债权人,债主( creditor的名词复数 )
  • They agreed to repay their creditors over a period of three years. 他们同意3年内向债主还清欠款。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • Creditors could obtain a writ for the arrest of their debtors. 债权人可以获得逮捕债务人的令状。 来自《简明英汉词典》
43 reassured ff7466d942d18e727fb4d5473e62a235     
adj.使消除疑虑的;使放心的v.再保证,恢复信心( reassure的过去式和过去分词)
  • The captain's confidence during the storm reassured the passengers. 在风暴中船长的信念使旅客们恢复了信心。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
  • The doctor reassured the old lady. 医生叫那位老妇人放心。 来自《简明英汉词典》
44 lamented b6ae63144a98bc66c6a97351aea85970     
adj.被哀悼的,令人遗憾的v.(为…)哀悼,痛哭,悲伤( lament的过去式和过去分词 )
  • her late lamented husband 她那令人怀念的已故的丈夫
  • We lamented over our bad luck. 我们为自己的不幸而悲伤。 来自《简明英汉词典》
45 boundless kt8zZ     
  • The boundless woods were sleeping in the deep repose of nature.无边无际的森林在大自然静寂的怀抱中酣睡着。
  • His gratitude and devotion to the Party was boundless.他对党无限感激、无限忠诚。
46 incapable w9ZxK     
  • He would be incapable of committing such a cruel deed.他不会做出这么残忍的事。
  • Computers are incapable of creative thought.计算机不会创造性地思维。
47 spurning 803f55bab6c4dc1227d8379096ad239a     
v.一脚踢开,拒绝接受( spurn的现在分词 )
  • There is no point in spurning sth. 鄙视某事物是毫无意义的。 来自互联网
  • It does its job with subtlety, however, spurning the hammer intensity of something like cranberry juice. 然而,它与微妙做它的工作践踏象酸果蔓的果实果汁一样的一些东西的榔头紧张。 来自互联网