The Alkahest

The Alkahest
The House of Claes

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The Alkahest by Honoré de Balzac

Published:

1887

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The Alkahest
The House of Claes

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Translated by Katharine Prescott Wormeley.

Book Excerpt

mped by heavy iron bands, through which the cellars were entered,--a last vestige of ancient usages.

From the time the house was built, this facade had been carefully cleaned twice a year. If a little mortar fell from between the bricks, the crack was instantly filled up. The sashes, the sills, the copings, were dusted oftener than the most precious sculptures in the Louvre. The front of the house bore no signs of decay; notwithstanding the deepened color which age had given to the bricks, it was as well preserved as a choice old picture, or some rare book cherished by an amateur, which would be ever new were it not for the blistering of our climate and the effect of gases, whose pernicious breath threatens our own health.

The cloudy skies and humid atmosphere of Flanders, and the shadows produced by the narrowness of the street, sometimes diminished the brilliancy which the old house derived from its cleanliness; moreover, the very care bestowed upon it made it rather sad and chilling to the ey

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