mainly unfavorable. He was lazy, impertinent, unwilling to submit to authority. It was obvious that he was unpopular with his tutors, and of his comrades she knew nothing, only that they were few enough.
On the day of his arrival she took great pains with her appearance. She wanted, for reasons obscure even to herself, to dazzle him, to take him by surprise, to shock him into a sudden spontaneous admiration of her youthfulness. She wanted no doubt to reassure herself, and thus to know that her rest had benefited her; but she wanted something else too; to conquer her son, as she had conquered other men before him, to charm this hunchback, against his will, into loving the sylphide who was also his mother. And this desire, although she did not understand it, was born of her intense loneliness. She longed for Paul to be dependent on her for affection, sympathy, companionship. If she could not love him, and she did not believe that she could, she was at least determined to dominate him.
But she had forgotten Paul.
He was equally determined to reject her advances. If she were pleased to be compassionate, then it was his turn to show how palely cynical he could become. Her scenes of tenderness, played with so much beauty and restraint, left this critic unmoved, but stifling a yawn; every delicate, delicious artifice of charm, projected with a skill worthy of the actress Rachel, at once encountered an obstacle more to be dreaded than open hostility,— indifference. And yet he was not completely indifferent, for her anger pleased him, and whenever she lost her temper his narrow eyes sparkled, and then he would smile the little ironical smile that seemed to be his only maternal inheritance.
"He is a changeling," declared Marie, who hated him, "mais, c'est tout simple, was he not born near the forest,