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Isn't that always the way. Just when Fanny thought she could run away from her problems again, in Chapter 16 ("Light Without and Night Within"), her problems come looking for her. Again.

Flora's husband, whom you might remember as the totally awesome Rudolf, is being installed as Lord Lieutenant, and Flora convinces Fanny to return the previous year's favor helping with the celebration planning. And even with a year's distance, Fanny still can't deal, at least until she spends some time living under the same roof with her icon.

And indeed Fanny herself found the situation much less dangerous than she had imagined. Ideals, especially ideals of the masculine gender, in their domestic circles lose very much of the nimbus which they carry about with them elsewhere. At home you hear them whistle and shout, and bully their servants and domestics, and see them immersed in everyday household affairs. You see them eat and drink and look bored. You see them with imperfect or unaccomplished toilets, and often with muddy boots, especially when they look after their own horses. You begin to realize that ideals also are as much subject to the petty necessities of life as ordinary men, and do not always preserve the precise postures you are wont to see them in when their portraits adorn the picture-galleries. With women it is quite different. Woman is born to beautify the domestic circle, woman is always fascinating whether she be dressed up or domestically dowdy, but man is least of all fascinating at home.

In a word, Fanny felt the danger to be much less when it was actually before her than it had seemed to be when seen from afar, and she looked at Rudolf much more calmly with her bodily eyes than she had been wont to do with the eyes of her imagination. (p. 302)

It's as true now as it was then: if you've overidealized a man, a surefire cure is to see how he lives. Works nine times out of ten.

So with that supposedly out of the way, we move onto the party planning and installation of Rudolf's office. He wanted to keep it as simple as possible, but obviously nobility had an interesting definition of "simple" back then.
The most eminent ladies of the county watched the procession from the balcony, and Madame Kárpáthy also was among them. It was difficult to recognize any one in particular among all those holiday faces, such a different aspect did their Oriental gravity and splendid Oriental Köntöses give them. Several of the younger cavaliers saluted the ladies with their swords.

At length the carriage of the Főispán came in sight with a clattering escort of twelve knightly horsemen. He himself was sitting bareheaded in the open carriage, and something like emotion was visible on his handsome noble face. Loud cries of "Éljen! éljen!" announced his approach. Every one knew of him by hearsay as the noblest of men, and every one rejoiced that the best of patriots and the most excellent of citizens should have attained the highest dignity in the county. Madame Kárpáthy looked at him tremblingly, better for her if she had never seen him like this.

The procession passed across the square to the gate of the town-hall, and half an hour later Rudolf was standing in the large assembly-room filling it with his sublime impassioned words, till all who heard felt their hearts leap towards him. Madame Kárpáthy also heard him, she was in the gallery. Ah, it would have been better had she neither seen nor heard him there. Now she not merely loved, she adored him. (p. 303)
Hoo-boy. Yes, this again. No winner in this race yet. Please hang onto your stubs while we review the photo...

After Rudolf unwittingly primed Fanny's pump yet again, it was time to convert the hall into a ballroom and get down to the celebration. But when it rains, it pours: during the speech, Mr. Kecskerey had been frantically signaling Fanny from the gallery, and when she begged off Rudolf's offer to dance (too much, too soon?), Kecskerey took advantage of the oppurtunity to sit it out with her. Of course, being Abellino's mole, the topic of conversation was fairly predictable.
"Will it bore your ladyship if we have a little talk together?"

"I am a good listener."

"During the last few days a joyous rumour has flashed through our capital which has made every one happy who has heard it."

"What rumour is that?"

"That your ladyship intends to spend the coming winter in the capital."

"It is not yet certain."

"You drive me to despair. Surely, my friend Kárpáthy is not such an ungallant husband? Why, he should fly to execute his wife's wishes!"

"I have never told anybody that I wanted to reside at Pest."

"The lady is secretive," thought Kecskerey. "I know that they are making their palace at Pest habitable. We shall get to the bottom of it presently."

"Yet the Pest saloons will be very attractive this winter, and we shall form some very elegant sets. The Szépkiesdys are coming up, and we may also expect to see there Count Gergely with his mother, young Eugene Darvay, the handsome Rezsö Csendey, and that genial prince of buffoons, Mike Kis."

Fanny toyed indifferently with her fan; not one of all these persons interested her in the least.

"And I know it as a fact, that our fêted friend Rudolf is also going to spend the winter there, with his handsome wife."

Hah! what impression will that make? Will she be able to conceal the smarting pain she felt at that moment? But no, she did not betray herself; she merely said, "I don't fancy we shall go to Pest."

With that she rose from her seat. The dance was over, and Flora, hastening to her friend, passed her arm round her waist, and they took a turn together round the room.

Mr. Kecskerey began to rock himself gently to and fro on the sofa and draw conclusions.

"Why did she sigh so deeply when she said, 'I don't fancy we shall go to Pest'?" (pp. 305-6)

Well, that well turned out to be a dry hole...maybe.

So while Fanny and Flora made the rounds, BFF style, Kecskerey continued doing the work God (or somebody else) created him for: planting bad ideas in the heads of others. And what's more, he finds Rudolf is shockingly easy to influence.

"Yes, true; poor Abellino, for instance, at one time, would scarce allow that a more beautiful woman had been born into the world since Helen of Troy or Ninon d'Enclos. He was quite mad about her; ruined himself, in fact, because of her. He spent sixty thousand florins upon her."

"What do you mean by that?" inquired Rudolf, much offended.

Kecskerey laughed good-humouredly. "Ma foi! that is a vain question from you, Rudolf. As if you did not know that it is usual to spend something on young women."

"But I know exactly what happened to Abellino when he forced six hundred florins into the girl's hand, and the manner in which she flung them back in his face was equivalent, among friends, to at least three boxes on the ears. I remember it well, because it led to a duel, and I was one of the seconds of Abellino's opponent."

"Ah ça, that's true! But you know how often it happens that when one has flung back a paltry five or six hundred florins between the eyes of the giver, one does not do the same with sixty thousand florins, when offered afterwards. I do not say this from any wish to injure Madame Kárpáthy, for, of course, nothing happened between them. But it is true, nevertheless, that she accepted the offer, and promised her dear mother, worthy Mrs. Meyer, that she would listen to Abellino's words, or to his sixty thousand florins, which is the same thing; and when luck unexpectedly suggested to old Jock that he should sue for her hand, in order to spite his nephew, the girl had sense enough to choose the better of two good offers, and accepted him. But not for all the world would I say anything ill of her. She is a lady of position and altogether blameless; but, for that very reason, I do not see why one or other of us might not have tried his luck with her."

At that moment several other acquaintances came up to Rudolf, and claimed him; so he parted from Kecskerey. But henceforward an unusual air of disquietude was visible on his face, and as often as he encountered his wife, who never left Madame Kárpáthy for an instant, an unpleasant feeling took possession of him, and he thought to himself, "That is a woman who might have been won with sixty thousand florins." (pp. 307-9)

He also contemplated the possibility that Kecskerey would be telling the same yarn all through the party, and that would cast a shadow on his dear wife. And more importantly, that would cast a shadow over him. But, oh yeah, poor Flora!

To his credit, Rudolf wastes no time bringing his misgivings out in the open. But to his damnation, he does it in a fairly condescending way.

"I know all about her; and you, from sheer compassion, have made her a present of your heart. Your sympathy does you honour, but the world has an opinion of this woman very different from yours: in the world's opinion she is frivolous enough."

"The world is unjust."

"Not altogether, perhaps. This woman has a past, and there is much in that past which justifies the world's judgment."

"But in her present there is much which contradicts that judgment. This woman's present conduct is worthy of all respect."

Rudolf tenderly stroked the head of his consort.

"My dear Flora, you are a child; there is much you do not understand, and will not understand. In the world there are ideas, ugly, extraordinary ideas, of which your pure, childlike mind can form no notion."

"Oh, don't suppose me so simple! I know everything. I know that Fanny's sisters were very bad, unprincipled women, and that only the energy of good kinsfolk saved Fanny herself from being betrayed and ruined. I know that in the eyes of the world hers is a very dubious record; but I also know that, so long as I hold that woman's hand in mine, the world will not dare to reproach, will not dare to condemn her; and the thought of it makes me proud and well pleased." (pp. 312-3)

Think about it this way, sweetcheeks, who do you trust more on this issue: yourself, a woman (woman!) too childlike and unbiased to be a proper judge of character (but I love you anyway, babycakes)? Or me? A guy who has barely even been in the same room with this girl until tonight, but has a title? And a penis? Anyway, to continue...

"And suppose you are attacked?"

"I don't understand."

"Suppose they say of you what they say of her, that you are a frivolous, flighty woman?"

"Without cause?"

"Not without cause. She lives in the midst of a band of empty-headed men, who certainly have no particular regard for a woman's reputation. And you, in consequence of your intimacy with Madame Kárpáthy, rub shoulders every day with her acquaintances, and will also be taken for a light, frivolous, frail sort of woman."

"I a light, frail, frivolous woman!" cried Flora, visibly wounded; but the moment afterwards she shrugged her shoulders. "It matters not. Rather let the whole world be unjust to me, than that I should be unjust to any one. And, after all, why should I care about the world, when you are the whole world to me? Let everybody regard me as a light woman for Madame Kárpáthy's sake; so long as you do not, I care nothing about the others."

"And if I, also, considered you as much?"

Flora sprang up from Rudolf's side in amazement.

"Rudolf! think what you are saying. Are you serious?"

"Yes, I am serious."

Flora reflected for an instant, then she said decidedly—

"Very well, Rudolf, I assure you that I am neither frivolous nor weak—weak not even in respect to you." And with that she sprang to the bell-rope and pulled it violently three times.

The maid entered.

"Netti, you will sleep in here with me to-night." (pp. 313-4)

Off to the guest bed with you until you come to your senses, punk. That's what you get for trying to be clever. But don't worry about Rudolf's situation...he's sure she'll come around. Kuz wimmin iz fikkul kreechurz. Besides, ol' Rudolf's got an idea. Then he'll make her crawl back. Crawl, I tells ya!

Didn't there used to be a nabob in this book? He even had a few lines of dialogue at some point...

Next: Rudolf gets ideas. BAD IDEAS.


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