The Japanese vase
His heart does not understand to begin with how acute is his unhappiness; he is more disturbed than moved. But as his reason gradually returns, he feels the depth of his misfortune. All the pleasures of life are destroyed for him, he can only feel the sharp prickings of despair tearing him apart. But what is the use of talking of physical pain? What pain felt by the body alone can be compared with this?
DINNER was being announced; Julien only just had time to dress. In the drawing-room he found Mathilde, who was earnestly entreating her brother and M. de Croisenois not to go and spend the evening at Suresnes with the Maréchale de Fervaques.
No one could have been more charming and more amiable towards them. After dinner Messrs de Luz, de Caylus and several of their friends turned up. It looked as if Mlle de La Mole's resumption of the cult of sisterly affection went hand in hand with that of the strictest propriety. Although the weather was delightful that evening, she insisted on not going out into the garden; she wanted everyone to stay by the couch where Mme de La Mole was settled. The blue sofa was the focus of the group, as in winter.
Mathilde had taken against the garden, or at any rate it seemed utterly boring to her: it was linked with the memory of Julien.
Unhappiness dulls the mind. Our hero was inept enough to come over to the little wicker chair which had witnessed such brilliant triumphs in the past. Today no one said a word to him: his presence was as good as unnoticed, or worse. Those of Mlle de La Mole's friends who were stationed near him at the foot of the sofa made a point of turning their backs to him, or at least that was how it struck him.
It's exactly like falling from favour at Court, he reflected.