Translated by Clara Bell
er bobbins that the gloomy and pensive passer-by was perhaps prompted to look up by the unusual noise.
The stranger merely exchanged glances with Caroline, swift indeed, but enough to effect a certain contact between their souls, and both were aware that they would think of each other. When the stranger came by again, at four in the afternoon, Caroline recognized the sound of his step on the echoing pavement; they looked steadily at each other, and with evident purpose; his eyes had an expression of kindliness which made him smile, and Caroline colored; the old mother noted them with satisfaction. Ever after that memorable afternoon, the Gentleman in Black went by twice a day, with rare exceptions, which both the women observed. They concluded from the irregularity of the hours of his homecoming that he was not released so early, nor so precisely punctual as a subordinate official.
All through the first three winter months, twice a day, Caroline and the stranger thus saw each other for so long as it too
A story that plays with time, that ought to be read at one sitting. It starts in 1816 with an impoverished seamstress in a Paris slum watching a strange man in black. After a while, there is a flashback, then a jump to the future.
Balzac was not an optimist about wealth, love, or human nature. He wrote well and was great at plot. The translation is very good.