At Réveillon

   The snow continues to fall at Réveillon and the duchess is continually saying: "my poor children: what weather you are having, I assure you I am heartbroken about it." Because as the mistress of the house she makes it a point of honour that one should be satisfied not only with the comfort and cheerfulness of the rooms, with the fine quality of the cuisine, with the pleasant series of guests, but also with things that it seems less just to make her responsibility, like the temperature, the amount of sunshine, the weather. She is just as mortified if it is raining as if one has not been able to have pheasant or if the pretty guest has not come. She also hardly likes to invite guests other than in the summer months. Moreover at the beginning of October the garden is without doubt no longer so glorious, but if the rose bushes creeping the length of the wall no longer display themselves towards the often still bright sunshine, sometimes this colourless sun that abruptly brightens before the rain and promises to the walls that it transfigures in an instant, to the windows of the small towns on which it is bent for an instant, the approaching shower with which they will stream, so that the old woman who is sitting by the casement, instead of opening it, says to the housemaid "go and close the blinds up there it could quite well rain" and instead of opening the window goes to poke the fire because down the whole street the sun that is playing for an instant on the windows, which is gilding the roses that creep the length of the wall on the side that does not overlook the garden, down the whole street for the grocer, for the curé in the middle of giving Jean his Latin lesson, for old Mme Santeuil working by the window, for the solicitor in his library, this intense and gentle gleam they took not as a sun one had to benefit from in itself but rather as a sign and a warning, not to go outside but to come back in and to leave it to the window panes alone to withstand the downpour, whilst one stays in one's room to keep warm, the downpour is falling very nearby. For the sky growing dim, as in the same way one cannot light the lamp at four o'clock but has opened up the curtains so as to see more clearly and the large window panes are naked against the streaming downpour and as the room is on the ground floor raised up by only two courses of stone, the late passers-by who are rushing beneath their umbrellas pass opposite you, on the other side of the glass. If the rose bushes that creep the length of the wall on the side that Jean's window looks out on no longer show to the sun anything but flowers stripped of their petals so that one no longer has lots of roses to offer when a guest has come, on the other hand during October the Phlox, the Galliardia, the Maidenhair Fern, the Zinnias are still intact until the first frosts. One cannot go and see them other than in passing because it is not warm enough to stop and one would quickly get wet feet but at least Mme de Réveillon can say with a smile that is a an attempt to make us believe that her pride is ironic: "Isn't my little garden pretty. But after the first of October!" Also she does not like to invite people and Jean is very annoyed to have arrived just at the time that Réveillon is so unattractive, when the weather is so bad, just as he would have been annoyed to have come to dine on the very day that there was an unpleasant dinner party there or a provincial parent.
   Henri discovered that the departmental engineer who was preparing him for the polytechnic and whose ideas on all matters were extremely ordinary and dull is an extraordinary musician whose true life is spent in performing the most elevated works of music with passion and very real talent. And he took Jean who was astounded at his mastery. The qualities and shortcomings of men do not necessarily govern one another and it is sometimes difficult to suspect on seeing a man and his different intellectual and moral qualities, that in the heart of a resistant environment he has developed a formidable taste for music, openly Dreyfusist opinions, an unconquerable disposition for morphine, a skillfully hidden treachery, traits that can suddenly put him in contact with that which appears most refractory to him.1

1. The last paragraph in the manuscript replaces this passage that Proust had crossed out:

   "Three times a week the departmental engineer who is a royalist came to help Henri with his studies, as he was now preparing for polytechnic. And as he is very musical and as he could see that it would interest Jean he made arrangements to stay behind for an hour during which he played music to Jean. Outside of music he is the least artistic of men and if you talk to him you will feel the most acute disappointment because you will find nothing but vulgar opinions coming from his mouth. But music is his passion, he plays marvellously, and the most elevated works of music throw him into a veritable ecstasy. As for the rest he has nothing but scorn. Do not speak to him about good singers or operas."

From the manuscript of Jean Santeuil, 1899.

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