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This secret warfare between the Cruchots and des Grassins, the prizethereof being the hand in marriage of Eugenie Grandet, kept thevarious social circles of Saumur in violent agitation. WouldMademoiselle Grandet marry Monsieur le president or Monsieur Adolphedes Grassins? To this problem some replied that Monsieur Grandet wouldnever give his daughter to the one or to the other. The old cooper,eaten up with ambition, was looking, they said, for a peer of France,to whom an income of three hundred thousand francs would make all thepast, present, and future casks of the Grandets acceptable. Othersreplied that Monsieur and Madame des Grassins were nobles, andexceedingly rich; that Adolphe was a personable young fellow; and thatunless the old man had a nephew of the pope at his beck and call, sucha suitable alliance ought to satisfy a man who came from nothing,,aman whom Saumur remembered with an adze in his hand, and who had,moreover, worn the /bonnet rouge/. Certain wise heads called attentionto the fact that Monsieur Cruchot de Bonfons had the right of entry tothe house at all times, whereas his rival was received only onSundays. Others, however, maintained that Madame des Grassins was moreintimate with the women of the house of Grandet than the Cruchotswere, and could put into their minds certain ideas which would lead,sooner or later, to success. To this the former retorted that the AbbeCruchot was the most insinuating man in the world: pit a woman againsta monk, and the struggle was even. "It is diamond cut diamond," said aSaumur wit.

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The oldest inhabitants, wiser than their fellows, declared that theGrandets knew better than to let the property go out of the family,and that Mademoiselle Eugenie Grandet of Saumur would be married tothe son of Monsieur Grandet of Paris, a wealthy wholesale wine-merchant. To this the Cruchotines and the Grassinists replied: "In thefirst place, the two brothers have seen each other only twice inthirty years; and next, Monsieur Grandet of Paris has ambitiousdesigns for his son. He is mayor of an arrondissement, a deputy,colonel of the National Guard, judge in the commercial courts; hedisowns the Grandets of Saumur, and means to ally himself with someducal family,,ducal under favor of Napoleon." In short, was thereanything not said of an heiress who was talked of through acircumference of fifty miles, and even in the public conveyances fromAngers to Blois, inclusively!

At the beginning of 1811, the Cruchotines won a signal advantage overthe Grassinists. The estate of Froidfond, remarkable for its park, itsmansion, its farms, streams, ponds, forests, and worth about threemillions, was put up for sale by the young Marquis de Froidfond, whowas obliged to liquidate his possessions. Maitre Cruchot, thepresident, and the abbe, aided by their adherents, were able toprevent the sale of the estate in little lots. The notary concluded abargain with the young man for the whole property, payable in gold,persuading him that suits without number would have to be broughtagainst the purchasers of small lots before he could get the money forthem; it was better, therefore, to sell the whole to Monsieur Grandet,who was solvent and able to pay for the estate in ready money. Thefine marquisate of Froidfond was accordingly conveyed down the gulletof Monsieur Grandet, who, to the great astonishment of Saumur, paidfor it, under proper discount, with the usual formalities.This affair echoed from Nantes to Orleans. Monsieur Grandet tookadvantage of a cart returning by way of Froidfond to go and see hischateau. Having cast a master's eye over the whole property, hereturned to Saumur, satisfied that he had invested his money at fiveper cent, and seized by the stupendous thought of extending andincreasing the marquisate of Froidfond by concentrating all hisproperty there. Then, to fill up his coffers, now nearly empty, heresolved to thin out his woods and his forests, and to sell off thepoplars in the meadows. wig natural hair

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It is now easy to understand the full meaning of the term, "the houseof Monsieur Grandet,",that cold, silent, pallid dwelling, standingabove the town and sheltered by the ruins of the ramparts. The twopillars and the arch, which made the porte-cochere on which the dooropened, were built, like the house itself, of tufa,,a white stonepeculiar to the shores of the Loire, and so soft that it lasts hardlymore than two centuries. Numberless irregular holes, capriciouslybored or eaten out by the inclemency of the weather, gave anappearance of the vermiculated stonework of French architecture to thearch and the side walls of this entrance, which bore some resemblanceto the gateway of a jail. Above the arch was a long bas-relief, inhard stone, representing the four seasons, the faces already crumblingaway and blackened. This bas-relief was surmounted by a projectingplinth, upon which a variety of chance growths had sprung up,,yellowpellitory, bindweed, convolvuli, nettles, plantain, and even a littlecherry-tree, already grown to some height. wig n out

The door of the archway was made of solid oak, brown, shrunken, andsplit in many places; though frail in appearance, it was firmly heldin place by a system of iron bolts arranged in symmetrical patterns. Asmall square grating, with close bars red with rust, filled up themiddle panel and made, as it were, a motive for the knocker, fastenedto it by a ring, which struck upon the grinning head of a huge nail.This knocker, of the oblong shape and kind which our ancestors called/jaquemart/, looked like a huge note of exclamation; an antiquary whoexamined it attentively might have found indications of the figure,essentially burlesque, which it once represented, and which long usagehad now effaced. Through this little grating,intended in olden timesfor the recognition of friends in times of civil war,inquisitivepersons could perceive, at the farther end of the dark and slimyvault, a few broken steps which led to a garden, picturesquely shut inby walls that were thick and damp, and through which oozed a moisturethat nourished tufts of sickly herbage. These walls were the ruins ofthe ramparts, under which ranged the gardens of several neighboringhouses. wig near me

The most important room on the ground-floor of the house was a largehall, entered directly from beneath the vault of the porte-cochere.Few people know the importance of a hall in the little towns of Anjou,Touraine, and Berry. The hall is at one and the same time antechamber,salon, office, boudoir, and dining-room; it is the theatre of domesticlife, the common living-room. There the barber of the neighborhoodcame, twice a year, to cut Monsieur Grandet's hair; there the farmers,the cure, the under-prefect, and the miller's boy came on business.This room, with two windows looking on the street, was entirely ofwood. Gray panels with ancient mouldings covered the walls from top tobottom; the ceiling showed all its beams, which were likewise paintedgray, while the space between them had been washed over in white, nowyellow with age. An old brass clock, inlaid with arabesques, adornedthe mantel of the ill-cut white stone chimney-piece, above which was agreenish mirror, whose edges, bevelled to show the thickness of theglass, reflected a thread of light the whole length of a gothic framein damascened steel-work. The two copper-gilt candelabra whichdecorated the corners of the chimney-piece served a double purpose: bytaking off the side-branches, each of which held a socket, the mainstem,which was fastened to a pedestal of bluish marble tipped withcopper,made a candlestick for one candle, which was sufficient forordinary occasions. The chairs, antique in shape, were covered withtapestry representing the fables of La Fontaine; it was necessary,however, to know that writer well to guess at the subjects, for thefaded colors and the figures, blurred by much darning, were difficultto distinguish.

At the four corners of the hall were closets, or rather buffets,surmounted by dirty shelves. An old card-table in marquetry, of whichthe upper part was a chess-board, stood in the space between the twowindows. Above this table was an oval barometer with a black borderenlivened with gilt bands, on which the flies had so licentiouslydisported themselves that the gilding had become problematical. On thepanel opposite to the chimney-piece were two portraits in pastel,supposed to represent the grandfather of Madame Grandet, old Monsieurde la Bertelliere, as a lieutenant in the French guard, and thedeceased Madame Gentillet in the guise of a shepherdess. The windowswere draped with curtains of red /gros de Tours/ held back by silkencords with ecclesiastical tassels. This luxurious decoration, littlein keeping with the habits of Monsieur Grandet, had been, togetherwith the steel pier-glass, the tapestries, and the buffets, which wereof rose-wood, included in the purchase of the house.

By the window nearest to the door stood a straw chair, whose legs wereraised on castors to lift its occupant, Madame Grandet, to a heightfrom which she could see the passers-by. A work-table of stainedcherry-wood filled up the embrasure, and the little armchair ofEugenie Grandet stood beside it. In this spot the lives had flowedpeacefully onward for fifteen years, in a round of constant work fromthe month of April to the month of November. On the first day of thelatter month they took their winter station by the chimney. Not untilthat day did Grandet permit a fire to be lighted; and on the thirty-first of March it was extinguished, without regard either to thechills of the early spring or to those of a wintry autumn. A foot-warmer, filled with embers from the kitchen fire, which la GrandeNanon contrived to save for them, enabled Madame and MademoiselleGrandet to bear the chilly mornings and evenings of April and October.Mother and daughter took charge of the family linen, and spent theirdays so conscientiously upon a labor properly that of working-women,that if Eugenie wished to embroider a collar for her mother she wasforced to take the time from sleep, and deceive her father to obtainthe necessary light. For a long time the miser had given out thetallow candle to his daughter and la Grande Nanon just as he gave outevery morning the bread and other necessaries for the dailyconsumption.

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