Short summary - The Etruscan Vase
Auguste Saint-Clair was not liked in the so-called "big world"; the main reason was that he tried to please only those who pleased him. He walked towards some and carefully avoided others. Moreover, he was careless and absent-minded.
He was proud and proud. He valued the opinions of others. He summoned all his strength, trying to learn to hide everything that was considered a humiliating weakness.
In the world, he soon acquired the notorious reputation of being indifferent and unresponsive. Saint-Clair did not believe in friendship.
Saint Clair was, however, a pleasant person to talk to. His shortcomings only hurt him personally. It was seldom boring with him.
Saint-Clair was distinguished by his great concern for women; he preferred their conversation to a man's. If such an outwardly cold man loved someone, the object of his passion could only be - everyone knew that - the pretty Countess Matilda de Courcy. This was a young widow whom he visited with rare consistency.
The Countess went to the healing waters, and Saint-Clair soon followed her.
After one of the dates, he was unusually happy, admired de Courcy, was glad that she preferred him to many other admirers.
On the same evening, Saint-Clair comes to a meeting of young bachelors, where his friend Alphonse de Temin is present. Young people are discussing how to get the love of pretty women. They try to derive a general formula for originality so that, following it, everyone will like it. Saint-Clair told how he would have conquered beauties, even if hunchbacked: he would have bewitched mournful or eccentric persons.
Temin said that his main weaponsand tasteful dress. As an example, he began to talk about the very Countess de Courcy, who had once been frowned upon by a certain Masigny: “The most stupid and empty of people turned the head of the cleverest of women. After that, would you say that with a hump you can achieve such success? Trust me, all that is required is good looks, a good tailor, and courage. "
Saint-Clair was furious. He remembered the Etruscan vase - a gift from Masigny, which de Courcy carefully kept and even took with her to the water. And every evening, chipping off her boutonniere, the Countess put it in an Etruscan vase.
The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Theodore Neuville from Egypt. He talks about the customs there. Saint-Clair quietly went home, where he became very worried that the Countess turned out to be the same woman as everyone else, and he thought that she had loved only him in her whole life. She, our hero thinks, does not care: Masigny or Saint-Clair. He is tormented, but still goes to de Courcy again on a date.
She is incredibly affectionate with him, indulges him in all the little things. Gives a refurbished watch with his own portrait. Saint-Clair relents: he now believes that she loves him.
In the morning his joy is clouded again. He sees the vase again, and it is de Courcy's dear. And her portrait on his repaired watch was made by the artist, whom Masigny once introduced her to.
Saint-Clair is already beginning to think whether to marry her or not after her year of mourning. Immersed in gloomy thoughts, rides a horse and meets another rider - de Temin. Saint-Clair is so annoyed that he starts a little quarrel, and Temin challenges him to a duel.
In the evening with the Countess Saint-Clair, he is pretendingly cheerful, which causes her displeasure, she thinks that he is evil.
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They start talking about who is more likely to fall into the trap of false love - a man or a woman. The countess tells him how she once made fun of Masigny, who was in love with her: he sent her a declaration of love, and that evening she asked her cousin to read it aloud without naming her names. Everyone laughed at his stupid and inept style, and Masigny was defeated.
Saint-Clair realizes that he has been fooled, and the Countess has never been in love with Masigny. He tells her everything, and they embrace happily. Then the Countess breaks the Etruscan vase.
The next day, Temin kills Saint-Clair in a duel.
For three years the Countess has not wanted to see anyone. Then her cousin Julie returns from her wanderings and takes her to the islands. But de Courcy had already ruined herself - she held out at the resort for three or four months, and then died of chest disease.