You are here

قراءة كتاب A Virgin Heart: A Novel

تنويه: تعرض هنا نبذة من اول ١٠ صفحات فقط من الكتاب الالكتروني، لقراءة الكتاب كاملا اضغط على الزر “اشتر الآن"

‏اللغة: English
A Virgin Heart: A Novel

A Virgin Heart: A Novel

No votes yet
دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 1


A Novel



Authorized Translation





The author had thought of qualifying this book: A Novel Without Hypocrisy; but he reflected that these words might appear unseemly, since hypocrisy is becoming more and more fashionable.

He next thought of: A Physiological Novel; but that was still worse in this age of great converts, when grace from on high so opportunely purifies the petty human passions.

These two sub-titles being barred, nothing was left; he has therefore put nothing.

A novel is a novel. And it would be no more than that if the author had not attempted, by an analysis that knows no scruples, to reveal in these pages what may be called the seamy side of a "virgin heart" to show that innocence has its instincts, its needs, its physiological dues.

A young girl is not merely a young heart, but a young human body, all complete.

Such is the subject of this novel, which must, in spite of everything, be called "physiological."

R. G.



The terrace was in a ruinous state, over-grown with grass and brambles and acacias. The girl was leaning on the Parapet, eating mulberries. She displayed her purple-stained hands and laughed. M. Hervart looked-up.

"You've got a moustache as well," he said. "It looks very funny."

"But I don't want to look funny."

She walked to the little stream flowing close at hand, wetted her handkerchief and began wiping her mouth.

M. Hervart's eyes returned to his magnifying glass; he went on examining the daisy on which he had two scarlet bugs so closely joined together that they seemed a single insect. They had gone to sleep in the midst of their love-making, and but for the quivering of their long antennæ, you would have thought they were dead. M. Hervart would have liked to watch the ending of this little scene of passion; but it might go on for hours. He lost heart.

"What's more," he reflected, "I know that the male does not die on the spot; he goes running about in search of food as soon as he's free. Still, I would have liked to see the mechanism of separation. That will come with luck. One must always count on luck, whether one is studying animals or men. To be sure, there is also patience, perseverance...."

He made a little movement with his head signifying, no doubt, that patience and perseverance were not in his line. Then, very gently he laid the flower with its sleeping burden on the parapet of the terrace. It was only then he noticed that Rose was no longer there.

"I must have annoyed her by what I said about the moustache. It wasn't true, either. But there are moments when that child gets on my nerves with that look of hers, as though she wanted to be kissed. And yet, if I did so much as to lay my hand on her shoulder, I should get my face smacked. A curious creature. But then all women are curious creatures, girls above all."

Carefully wiping his glass, M. Hervart stepped across the stream and entered the wood.

M. Hervart was about forty. He was tall and thin; sometimes, when his curiosity had kept him poring over something for too long at a stretch he stooped a little. His eyes were bright and penetrating, despite the fact that one of them had, it would seem, been narrowed and shrunk by the use of the microscope. His clear-complexioned face, with its light pointed beard, was pleasant, without being striking.

He was the keeper of the department of Greek sculpture at the Louvre, but the cold beauty of the marbles interested him little, and archæology even less. He was a lover of life, who divided his days between women and animals. Studying the habits of insects was his favourite hobby. He was often to be seen at the Zoological Gardens, or else, more often than at his office, in the animal-shop round the corner. His evenings he devoted to amusement, frequenting every kind of society. To sympathetic audiences he liked to give out that he was the descendant of the M. d'Hervart whose wife had La Fontaine for a lover. He used also to say that it was only his professional duties that had prevented his making himself a name as a naturalist. But the opinion of most people was that M. Hervart was, in all he did, nothing more than a clever amateur, ruined by a great deal of indolence.

Every two or three years he used to go and stay with his friend M. Desbois at his manor of Robinvast, near Cherbourg. M. Desbois was a retired commercial sculptor, who had recently ennobled himself by means of a Y and one or two other little changes. When M. Des Boys burst upon the world, Hervart appeared not to notice the metamorphosis. That earned him an increase in affection, and whenever he came to visit, Mme. Des Boys would take almost excessive pains about the cooking.

Mme. Des Boys, who had been sentimental and romantic in her youth and had remained all her life rather a silly woman, had insisted on calling her daughter Rose. It would have been a ridiculous name—Rose Des Boys—if Rose had been the sort of girl to tolerate the repetition of a foolish compliment. Ordinarily she was a gay and gentle creature, but she could be chilling, could ignore and disregard you in the cruellest fashion. Her parents adored her and were afraid of her: so they allowed her to do what she liked. She was twenty years old.

Meanwhile, M. Hervart was looking for Rose. He did not dare call her, because he did not know what name to use. In conversation he said: You; before strangers, Mademoiselle; in his own mind, Rose.

"She was much nicer two years ago. She listened to what I had to say. She obeyed me. She caught insects for me. This is the critical moment now. If we were bugs...."

He went on:

"Whether it's women or beetles, love is their whole life. Bugs die as soon as their work is done, and women begin dying from the moment of their first kiss.... They also begin living. It's pretty, the spectacle of these girls who want to live, want to fulfil their destiny, and don't know how, and go sobbing through the darkness, looking for their way. I expect I shall find her crying."

Rose, indeed, had just finished wiping her eyes. They were blue when she was sad and greenish when she laughed.

"You've been crying. Did you prick yourself coming through this holly? I did too."

"I shouldn't cry for a thing like that. But who told you I'd been crying? I got a fly in my eye. Look, only one of them's red."

But, instead of lifting her head, she bent down and began to pick the flowers at her feet.

"May I sit down beside you?"

"What a question!"

"You see, your skirt takes up all the room."

"Well then, push it away."

M. Hervart turned back the outspread skirt and sat down on the old bench—cautiously, for he knew that it was rather rickety. Now that he had money and an aristocratic name, M. Des Boys had become romantic. His whole domain, except for the kitchen garden and the rooms that were actually inhabited, was kept in a perennially wild, decrepit state. In the house and its surroundings you could see nothing but mouldering walls and rotten planks moss-grown benches, impenetrable bramble bushes. Near the stream stood an old tower from which the ivy fell in a cataract whose waves of greenery splashed up again to the summit of an old oak with dead forked branches—a pretty sight. The Des Boys never went out except to show their virgin forest to a visitor. M. Des Boys dabbled in painting.

It was morning, and the wood was cool, still damp with dew. Through the thickly woven beech branches the sunlight fell on the stiff holly leaves and lit them up like