Ralph's happy ideas are somewhat sinister, but the couple set out nevertheless for the Isle of Bourbon in search of a propitious waterfall. A sea-voyage, under such circumstances, would be an excellent preparation. When once there, they carry out their plans, and Ralph gives his beloved wise advice at the last moment. She must not jump from the side, as that would be bad. "Throw yourself into the white line that the waterfall makes," he says. "You will then reach the lake with that, and the torrent will plunge you in." This sounds enticing.
Such a suicide was considered infinitely poetical at that epoch, and every one pitied Indiana in her troubles. It is curious to read such books calmly a long time afterwards, books which reflect so exactly the sentiments of a certain epoch. It is curious to note how the point of view has changed, and how people and things appear to us exactly the reverse of what they appeared to the author and to contemporaries.
As a matter of fact, the only interesting person in all this is Colonel Delmare, or, at any rate, he is the only one of whom Indiana could not complain. He loved her, and he loved no one else but her. The like cannot be said for Indiana. Few husbands would imitate his patience and forbearance, and he certainly allowed his wife the most extraordinary freedom. At one time we find, a young man in Indiana's bedroom, and at another time Indiana in a young man's bedroom. Colonel Delmare receives Raymon at his house in a friendly way, and he tolerates the presence of the sempiternal Ralph in his home. What more can be asked of a husband than to allow his wife to have a man friend and a cousin? Indiana declares that Colonel Delmare has struck her, and that the mark is left on her face. She exaggerated, though, as we know quite well what took place. In reality all this was at Plessis-Picard. Delmare-Dudevant struck Indiana-Aurore. This was certainly too much, but there was no blood shed. As to the other personages, Raymon is a wretched little rascal, who was first the lover of Indiana's maid. He next made love to poor Noun's mistress, and then deserted her to make a rich marriage. Ralph plunges Indiana down a precipice. That was certainly bad treatment for the woman he loved. As regards Indiana, George Sand honestly believed that she had given her all the charms imaginable. As a matter of fact, she did charm the readers of that time. It is from this model that we have one of the favourite types of woman in literature for the next twenty years--the misunderstood woman.
The misunderstood woman is pale, fragile, and subject to fainting. Up to page 99 of the book, Indiana has fainted three times. I did not continue counting. This fainting was not the result of bad health. It was the fashion to faint. The days of nerves and languid airs had come back. The women whose grandmothers had walked so firmly to the scaffold, and whose mothers had listened bravely to the firing of the cannon under the Empire, were now depressed and tearful, like so many plaintive elegies. It was just a matter of fashion. The mis-
understood woman was supposed to be unhappy with her husband, but she would not have been any happier with another man. Indiana does not find fault with Colonel Delmare for being the husband that he is, but simply for being the husband!
"She did not love her husband, for the mere reason, perhaps, that she was told it was her duty to love him and that it had become her second nature, a principle and a law of her conscience to resist inwardly all moral constraint." She affected a most irritating gentleness, an exasperating submissiveness. When she put on her superior, resigned airs, it was enough to unhinge an angel. Besides, what was there to complain about, and why should she not accommodate herself to conditions of existence with which so many others fall in? She must not be compared to others, though. She is eminently a distinguished woman, and she asks without shrinking: "Do you know what it means to love a woman such as I am?"
In her long silences and her persistent melancholy, she is no doubt thinking of the love appropriate to a woman such as she is. She was a princess in exile and times were then hard for princesses. That is why the one in question took refuge in her homesick sorrow. All this is what people will not understand. Instead of rising to such sublimities, or of being lost in fogs, they judge from mere facts. And on coming across a young wife who is inclined to prefer a handsome, dark young man to a husband who is turning grey, they are apt to conclude: "Well, this is not the first time we have met with a similar case. It is hardly worth while making such a fuss about a young plague of a woman who wants to go to the bad." It would be very unjust, though, not to recognize that _Indiana_ is a most remarkable novel. There is a certain relief in the various characters, Colonel Delmare, Raymon, Ralph and Inaiana. We ought to question the husbands who married wives belonging to the race of misunderstood women brought into vogue by _Indiana_.
_Valentine_, too, is the story of a woman unhappily married.