by Honore de Balzac
Translated by Clara Bell and others
To Monsieur Charles Bernard du Grail.
I was buried in one of those profound reveries to which everybody,
even a frivolous man, is subject in the midst of the most uproarious
festivities. The clock on the Elysee-Bourbon had just struck midnight.
Seated in a window recess and concealed behind the undulating folds of
a curtain of watered silk, I was able to contemplate at my leisure the
garden of the mansion at which I was passing the evening. The trees,
being partly covered with snow, were outlined indistinctly against the
grayish background formed by a cloudy sky, barely whitened by the
moon. Seen through the medium of that strange atmosphere, they bore a
vague resemblance to spectres carelessly enveloped in their shrouds, a
gigantic image of the famous /Dance of Death/. Then, turning in the
other direction, I could gaze admiringly upon the dance of the living!
a magnificent salon, with walls of silver and gold, with gleaming