Petty Troubles of Married Life, Complete by Honoré de Balzac


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Page 1

Then what? . . . . . Why, then come a crowd of petty unforeseen
troubles, like the following:



Is it a petty or a profound trouble? I knew not; it is profound for
your sons-in-law or daughters-in-law, but exceedingly petty for you.

"Petty! You must be joking; why, a child costs terribly dear!"
exclaims a ten-times-too-happy husband, at the baptism of his
eleventh, called the little last newcomer,--a phrase with which women
beguile their families.

"What trouble is this?" you ask me. Well! this is, like many petty
troubles of married life, a blessing for some one.

You have, four months since, married off your daughter, whom we will
call by the sweet name of CAROLINE, and whom we will make the type of
all wives. Caroline is, like all other young ladies, very charming,
and you have found for her a husband who is either a lawyer, a
captain, an engineer, a judge, or perhaps a young viscount. But he is
more likely to be what sensible families must seek,--the ideal of
their desires--the only son of a rich landed proprietor. (See the

This phoenix we will call ADOLPHE, whatever may be his position in the
world, his age, and the color of his hair.

The lawyer, the captain, the engineer, the judge, in short, the
son-in-law, Adolphe, and his family, have seen in Miss Caroline:

I.--Miss Caroline;

II.--The only daughter of your wife and you.

Here, as in the Chamber of Deputies, we are compelled to call for a
division of the house:

1.--As to your wife.

Your wife is to inherit the property of a maternal uncle, a gouty old
fellow whom she humors, nurses, caresses, and muffles up; to say
nothing of her father's fortune. Caroline has always adored her uncle,
--her uncle who trotted her on his knee, her uncle who--her uncle
whom--her uncle, in short,--whose property is estimated at two hundred

Further, your wife is well preserved, though her age has been the
subject of mature reflection on the part of your son-in-law's
grandparents and other ancestors. After many skirmishes between the
mothers-in-law, they have at last confided to each other the little
secrets peculiar to women of ripe years.

"How is it with you, my dear madame?"

"I, thank heaven, have passed the period; and you?"

"I really hope I have, too!" says your wife.

"You can marry Caroline," says Adolphe's mother to your future
son-in-law; "Caroline will be the sole heiress of her mother, of her
uncle, and her grandfather."

2.--As to yourself.

You are also the heir of your maternal grandfather, a good old man
whose possessions will surely fall to you, for he has grown imbecile,
and is therefore incapable of making a will.

You are an amiable man, but you have been very dissipated in your
youth. Besides, you are fifty-nine years old, and your head is bald,
resembling a bare knee in the middle of a gray wig.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sat 18th Jan 2020, 17:55