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It's the last grey hour before dawn, but I just couldn't hold off. With a chapter title that loaded, this one promised to be special.

Chapter 14 ("Martyrdom") begins with Fanny apparently at death's door. (Really? Is "the other girl's grass is always greener" blues a terminal disease now? Because that'd wipe out half of's victim list in a year...and sadly, that hasn't happened yet. And book, I love you like a brother, but how many more false alarms are you going to throw me?)

Flora the Ministering Angel stayed at her bedside for the duration, and when Fanny finally regained consciousness, her eyes landed on Flora and Aunt Teresa, whose Christian-based humility had kept her away from the fineries and wineries of Kárpáthy Castle, but wasn't about to leave her favorite niece in the lurch.

With Fanny back among the land of the living, but still fragile enough that everybody insisted on treating her like a china doll, she had a significant amount of time to overthink things. And here's where the chapter justifies the snarky name I gave it in the title bar. I was a little too old for emo by the time I found out what it was; my first reaction to seeing the word for the first time was "That's not how you spell Brian Eno, you snotty punk." But if emo is about loud, thunderous waves of overly emotional music from a pity-my-fragile-soul POV...well then, what do you call this?

And now she could coldly review the whole course of her life. What was he, what had she become now, and what would become of her in the future?

She was the scion of a wretched and shameful family, from whose fate she had only been snatched by hands which, wont to lift themselves in prayer to God, had shielded and defended her against every danger, and prepared for her a peaceful and quiet refuge, where she might have lived like a bird of the forest in its hidden nest.

This refuge she had been forced to quit, in order to take her place in the great world—that great world which had so much in it that was terrifying to her.

Then she had sought a woman's heart that could understand her, and a manly face that might serve her for an ideal.

And she had found them both—the noble-hearted friend, who had been so good, so kind to her, far better and kinder than she had dared to hope; and the idolized youth, of whose heart and mind the world itself had even grander and finer things to say than she herself had ever lavished upon him. And this woman, and this idol of a man were spouses—and he happiest of spouses too!

What must her portion be now?

She must be the dumb witness of that very bliss which she pictured to herself so vividly. Every day she must see the happy face of her friend, and listen to the sweet secrets of her rapture. She must listen while his name is magnified by another; she must look upon the majestic countenance of the youth whom she may not worship—nay, she must not even dare to speak of him, lest her blushes and the tremor of her voice should betray what no man must ever know!

How happy she would have been now, had she never learnt to know this passion, if she had never allowed her soul to fly away after unattainable desires! If only she had listened to that honest old woman she would now be sitting at home in her quiet peaceful cottage among the meadows, with nothing to think of but her flowers!

That was all, all over now!

She was no longer able to go either backwards or forwards. Only to live on, live on, one day after another, and, as every day came round, to sigh, as she got up to face it: "Yet another day!" (pp. 288-9)

Yes sir, that's how I picture the whole scene, with the horn-rims and the turtlenecks, writing all her moments of crazy misery in her high school notebook. But honestly, the Dashboard Confessional MTV Unplugged show and that Weezer album are all I know. So screw me for trying to reach out to da kidz. Moving on...and not a moment too soon...

For John Kárpáthy's part, almost losing (pardon me for rolling my eyes) his young bride made him realize how much he really loved her, so when she was well enough to start asking for favors, he was in a very receptive mood.

"Ask not one favour, but a thousand favours!" cried Kárpáthy, rejoicing that his wife asked anything of him at all.

"Are you not getting ready a new mansion at Pest?" asked Fanny.

"You wish to live there, perhaps?" cried Kárpáthy, hastening to anticipate his wife's wishes. "You can take possession of it at a moment's notice, and, if you don't like it, and want something more handsome, I'll have another built for you this winter."

"Thanks, but I shall be quite satisfied with the one at Pest. I have been thinking to myself what an entirely new life we'll begin to live there together."

"Yes, indeed; we will have lots of company, and of the merriest,—splendid parties——"

"I did not mean that. I am thinking of serious things, of charitable objects. Oh! we who are rich have so many obligations towards the suffering, towards the community, towards humanity."

Poor woman! how she would have escaped from her own burning heart amidst coldly sublime ideas!

"As you please. Seek your joy, then, in drying the eyes of the tearful. Be happy in the blessings which Gratitude will shower upon your name."

"Then you promise me this?"

"I am happy in being able to do anything that pleases you."

"Nay, be not too indulgent. I warn you that will only make me more exacting."

"Speak, speak! would that there were no end to your wishes! Believe me, only then am I unhappy, when I see that nothing delights you, when you are sorrowful, when there's nothing you feel a liking for—then, indeed, I am very, very unhappy! Would you like to go to a watering-place this summer? Where would you like to go? Command me, where would you feel most happy?"

Fanny began reflecting. Whither away? Anywhere, if it only were far enough! Away from the neighbourhood of the Szentirmays, and never come back again! (pp. 291-2)

Yep, if you have a potential point of friction with a friend, the mature thing to do is to run away and and shut them out of your life forever. That's gratitude for you after Flora burned off a month of her life because of her new friend's pyschosomatic life-threatening illness, but the Ministering Angel has a husband hot enough to kill another woman from embarassment, what is Fanny expected to do?

Fanny's other request to Master John was to allow her to never leave his side...not even for a minute. He was more than happy to oblige her on that point, so just like that, she became his second shadow.

Day by day her health returned, and she grew more and more like her old self. And then she would spend whole days with her husband, and bring her embroidery or her book into his room; or she would invite him into her room, when she played the piano; or would drive about with him, in fact, she never left him. She did not wish for any other society. She directed the servants that if any of her old visitors came to see her, they were to be told she was not feeling well, and all the time she would be sitting inside with her husband, and forcing herself to make him happy and load him with joy.

During these days she had very little to do even with Teresa, and very shortly her worthy kinswoman took her leave. Fanny parted from her without tears or sorrow, yet Teresa saw into her soul. When she had kissed the silent lips, and was sitting in the carriage on her way home, she sighed involuntarily, "Poor girl! poor girl!" (pp. 292-3)

And that's where we leave them for now, because...

Chapter 15 ("The Spy") takes us back to Mr. Kecskerey's do remember Mr. Kecskerey, don't you? Of course you don't, because I didn't really touch on him, even though he was the man who ran the parlor where Abellino got his comeuppance. That's the sad thing about not reading ahead before doing the recaps; you never know who's going to be important and when.

Okay, I stiffed him before on this point, so let's get on with a proper introduction already...

It was still early, and the worthy man was not yet half dressed. When I say not yet half dressed, I mean the expression to be taken in the literal sense of the word. He was sitting in the middle of the room on a rich purple ottoman, enfolded in a red burnous, sucking away at a huge chibook, puffing smoke all round him, and contemplating himself in a large mirror exactly opposite to him. At the opposite end of the ottoman sat a huge orang-outang of about his own size, in a similarly charming position, wrapped in a similar burnous, also smoking a chibook, and regarding himself in the mirror.

Scattered all about were heaps of scented billet-doux, verses, musical notes, and other perishable articles of the same sort. Round about the walls hung all kinds of select pictures, which would certainly have been very much ashamed if they could have seen each other. On the table, in a vase of genuine Herculanean bronze, were the visiting-cards of a number of notable men and women of the smartest set. The carpets were all woven by delicate feminine hands, and bore the figures of dogs, horses, and huntsmen. The tapestried walls revealed the presence of small hidden doors, and the windows were covered by double curtains close drawn.

In the antechamber outside, a small negro groom was scratching his ear for sheer ennui. He had orders not to admit any gentleman visitor till after twelve o'clock, from which he drew the temerarious conclusion that he was free to admit ladies up to that hour. (pp. 294-5)

Yes, at some point, the narrator drops a descriptive N-bomb when talking about this servant. No, I'm not about to point out that passage. Not even for a laugh.

Into this den of iniquity (and trained orangutans), looky, it's Abellino again, back from a year of lying low after killing a man over a card game gone wrong.

"Ah, Abellino! 'tis you, eh? We fancied you had mediatized yourself in India. Come and sit down by me. Have you brought back with you some of those famous pastilles which you mentioned in your genial letters?"

"Go to the devil, and take your baboon with you," cursed the new arrival. "You resemble one another so closely that I did not know which was the master of the house." (p. 295-6)

Still a golden shaft of sunshine, our boy...

"Answer me first of all; is there still any rumour abroad about my former affair?"

Kecskerey made an angry grimace.

"My dear friend," said he, "you ask too much of me. You seem to expect that folks will talk of nothing but your beggarly duel for a whole twelve-month. Why, it is as much forgotten as if it had never been. Look now! you killed Fennimore, and Fennimore had a younger brother who by his death succeeded to the family estates. They asked him a little time ago why he did not pursue the action brought against you. 'I am not so mad,' said he, 'as to take action against my benefactor.' You can meet him at my place this very evening. He is a much finer fellow than his brother, and he'll be very glad to see you." (pp. 296)

Fine, don't say "hi." Just barge in and start being nosy. See if I care.

But from the upper-class twit's interrogation, we find out that the city of Pest is turning into a swinging social center, showing that Master John has an instinct of knowing where the good times can be had. It also comes out that Griffard realized he's been throwing his money down a hole and has cut off our lad's line of credit. Therefore Abellino, predictable as the sunrise, turns to his favorite topic: his dear uncle('s money).

Mr. Kecskerey blew himself out haughtily like a frog, and grunted in a strangulated sort of voice, "My friend, for what do you take me, pray? Am I your spy, that I should go ferreting into family secrets in order to betray them to you? What sort of an opinion can you have of me?"

Abellino, with a feeling of satisfaction, launched the remainder of the crumpled-up visiting-cards in his fist at Joko's head. He knew the manners and customs of Mr. Kecskerey thoroughly. He was wont to fling back every dishonourable commission and query with the utmost indignation, into the face of their proposer, but he executed them all the same, and reported accordingly.

"What business is it of mine what the Kárpáthys are doing? The world says, however, that Madame Kárpáthy has a fresh lover every day. At one time 'tis Count Erdey, at another 'tis Mike Kis. It says, too, that old Squire John himself invites his cronies to Kárpátfalva, and is quite delighted if his wife finds any among them worthy to be loved. He lets her go visiting at the neighbouring villages with Mike Kis hundreds of times, and much more is said to the same effect. But what has it all got to do with me? I think as little of such things as of the dreams of my baboon." (pp. 297-8)

And really, doesn't that just sound like the girl who thought she'd committed a mortal sin by accidentally reading a note from a fresh guy? I call shenanigans on this rumor.

Anyway, the party maestro also brightens our boy Bélá's day by telling him his uncle looks ten, maybe twenty, years younger, and his wife is practically shooting sunshine out of her bustle. Abellino doesn't take that news well, either.

"Hell and devils!" exclaimed Abellino, mad with rage. "What can be the reason why this woman is so happy and contented? Her husband is incapable, I'll swear, of making her so. There's falsehood, there's fraud somehow."

"There may be falsehood and fraud, my friend," replied Kecskerey, coolly clasping one of his knees with both his hands, and swaying himself to and fro in a rocking-chair.

"If I could only prove that that woman was in love with some one; if any one were able to show the world in the clearest, the most sensational manner that she had secret relations with anybody——"

"But, as a member of the family, that would naturally bring disgrace upon you also."

"They are playing a game against me."

"It may be so. The old man is quite capable of overlooking his wife's infidelity in order to do you out of the inheritance."

"But it cannot be, it cannot be! Our laws would not allow such a scandal."

Kecskerey burst out laughing.

"My friend, if our laws were disposed to make very conscientious investigations concerning the proper descent of all our great families, endless confusion would arise in the making out of our family trees."

"But I tell you I will not allow a downtrodden beggar-woman to force her way into an illustrious family, and rob the rightful heirs of their inheritance by saddling her decrepit husband with brats that are the fruit of her base amours."

At these words Kecskerey laughed louder than ever.

"Since your return you have become quite a moral man, I see. You would have been glad to have had one of these same base-born brats yourself a year ago." (pp. 298-9)

Abellino promises to either prove Fanny is disgracing the family name or invent a disgrace for her. Whatever it takes. Kecskerey--who is a respectable man running a respectable establishment, remember--refuses to offer any aid in this underbellied spree...and then proceeds to outline a likely plan of attack.

Kecskerey pulled a wry face.

"My dear friend, I know not why you say such things to me. Do I look like a person competent to give advice in such matters? It is a serious business, I assure you. I am very sorry, but you must do what you want yourself. The Kárpáthys will reside here this winter. Do as you please, corrupt their servants, set your creatures to their work, and get them to lead the young woman astray and then betray her; plant your spies about her, watch every step she takes, and put the affair in the hands of sharp practitioners; but leave me in peace, I am a gentleman, I will not be a spy, or a well-feed Mephistopheles, or a hired Cicisbeo." (p. 300)

I wash my hands of your evil schemes. Feel free, however, to take home the dirt at the bottom of the basin.

Next: Fanny wants to cry? Let's give her something to cry about...again. Sigh...


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