The Bachelors by Henry de Montherlant
By Henry de Montherlant
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De Coëtquidan turning the handle of the stove in order to make it burn more strongly and give out more heat. This gesture of his ? a ritual gesture, like so many gestures and words in this house ? had always been the cause of dramas ? also ritual, of course. During the time when the house was run by the Comtesse de Coantré, mother of M. de Coantré and sister of M. de Coëtquidan (this time was not long past: she had been dead only six months), M. de Coëtquidan paid his sister a rent of five hundred francs a month, which he now paid to her son.
Asked M. Élie, with a strange glint in his eye. 'Come, Uncle Élie, you know perfectly well. ' (Of course M. de Coëtquidan knew, or rather suspected: these sums had been borrowed by Mme de Coantré to pay her late husband's debts. ) 'Now,' M. de Coantré continued, 'a new debt has come to light. Mme de Saint-Huberty has put in a claim for sixteen thousand francs which her father, M. d'Aumagne, lent Mama in 1912, plus four thousand francs interest. I've found among Mama's papers a letter from M.
Without explaining to Léon the reason for his curiosity, he asked him a few questions about his family. Léon's reaction was worthy of the elder Coëtquidan. ' he asked the august personage. He was promptly ploughed. The two years that followed until his military service, still reading law without either inclination or success, were as characteristically futile as the student years of most average Frenchmen. He was a gifted youth, in a variety of ways. He excelled at writing Latin verse. He drew and painted agreeably, without ever having been taught.