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knew them as one of the happiest couples in Paris. Their affection, and the good understanding subsisting between them, were invariably quoted as examples in every ménage ; (what a pity, par parenthèse, it is, that people are more prone to quote good examples, than to follow them! n'est-ce pas ?)! and though Jules de St. Armand's uxoriousness, and deference to his wife's opinions, were sometimes ridiculed by the Benedicts of his circle, or the who boasted their freedom from female in. fluence, still it seemed generally allowed that he was as happy as even the most attached of his friends could desire him to be.
Jules and Alicia de St. Armand had been
married two years at the period to which I am now referring. Their union had arisen solely in affection, and the time which had elapsed since its occurrence had only served to increase their mutual attachment.
personal beauty, both joined considerable talents ; consequently, they were
the réunions of the calculated to shine circle to which they belonged; but they found themselves so happy in the home which their love embellished, that they scarcely ever voluntarily entered into society.
Every husband who thought his wife too fond of balls and soirées, dwelt, with warm commendations, upon the domestic taste and habits of Madame de St. Armand ; and every wife who felt dissatisfied with the dissipation of her caro sposo, quoted M. de St. Armand as a model for husbands. The natural con
The wives with propensities to gaiety began to look with aversion on Alicia; and those husbands who liked all other places better than home quickly ceived an unfriendly sentiment towards Jules. This antipathy, however, might have been as
transitory as it was sudden, had it not been increased and established by the imprudent and enthusiastic praises of the friends and relatives of the exemplary couple.
And now, more than one married belle, who was to be seen continually at all public places, and rarely chez elle, was heard to observe, that it was quite ridiculous in Madame de St. Armand to set herself up to be wiser and happier than her neighbours ; and that such an attempt could only be made in the peevish vanity of seeking to oppose and displease all her friends and acquaintance. Several of the men, too, who found more attractions in other women than in their own wives, spoke with affected contempt of St. Armand's hypocritical assumption of the role of a pattern husband, and of his ostentatious abandonment of society to act le bon mari at home. To pretend to be better than one's
acquaintance, is always considered as a piece of impertinence that demands correction ; but to pretend to be happier, is an offence never pardoned. Mari et femme were viewed as thus offending, and those who so considered them determined on avenging themselves.
Little did the St. Armands imagine that, while they were enjoying the pure happiness which congenial minds experience in a domestic life, their tranquil felicity and retired habits were exciting the hatred of those whom they had never injured. Had this fact been communicated to them, they would have disbelieved it; for both were unacquainted with the ill-nature of worldly minds, and the wanton and atrocious calumnies which the spirit of rancour engenders.
The rarity of Madame de St. Armand's appearance in society rendered her beauty still more impressive whenever she was seen ;
and even women who were, perhaps, really lovelier, ceased to attract their wonted degree of admiration when she was present; solely because the beholders were habituated to their charms, while hers were invested with all the additional grace of novelty. This success only increased the acerbity of those who were already but too well inclined to be hostile to her, and they anxiously awaited an opportunity of injuring and humiliating her.
At this period a ball was given by an aunt of M. de St. Armand, at which she insisted that my conjugal and exemplary pair should attend. Aware of this circumstance, some of the most mischievous of their acquaintance hoped to profit by it, and to arrange a plot which would occasion them dissension and
A M. de Melfort had been an unsuccessful
suitor for the hand of Alicia St. Armand, the