Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 469
Christiane Andermatt (kree-STYAHN ahn-dehr-MAHT), a young married woman who, while she is in the country taking some baths to cure her childlessness, meets Paul Brétigny, a friend of her brother, and has a love affair with him. At first, she will not listen to his supplications, but after a time she submits and has a baby girl by him. She becomes jealous when she discovers that, while she is pregnant, her lover has fallen in love with another woman. When her baby is born, she will have nothing to do with the child. Later, however, the baby attracts her; she becomes absorbed in it and is totally indifferent to her former lover.
Paul Brétigny (pohl bray-teen-YEE), Christiane’s lover, who meets her when he goes to the country to recover from an unhappy love affair. He feels sorry for and falls in love with Charlotte Oriol, who has been rejected by Christiane’s brother, Gontran de Ravenel.
William Andermatt, Christiane’s husband, a financier who decides to buy some land from a peasant and build baths to utilize the spring water, which supposedly has medicinal properties. Andermatt engages in many machinations in order to obtain the land and promote the baths.
Father Oriol (ohr-YOHL), a peasant landowner. He blasts a rock out of the ground and a spring gushes forth. Oriol is a shrewd bargainer, as is shown in his dealings with Andermatt.
Gontran de Ravenel
Gontran de Ravenel (goh[n]-TRAH[N] deh rahv-NEHL), Christiane’s brother, a witty young man who, at Andermatt’s suggestion, plans to court and marry one of Oriol’s daughters in order to obtain part of the land that forms their dowries, and thus pay off his debts. He courts Charlotte first, since she is younger and prettier, but he switches to Louise when he finds that her dowry will be more profitable to him.
Charlotte Oriol (shahr-LOHT), Father Oriol’s younger daughter, who is courted by Gontran de Ravenel. When he discovers that her sister’s dowry is larger, he deserts her. She is consoled by Paul, and they become engaged.
Louise Oriol, Father Oriol’s elder daughter, who is persuaded by Gontran that he paid court to her sister only in order to arouse her interest in him.
Clovis (kloh-VEES), a beggar who poaches at night and feigns rheumatism in the daytime. He is hired to bathe in the spring every day and, when he is supposedly cured, it is hoped that Andermatt will be convinced of the medicinal value of the water. After the baths are opened, he returns and threatens to tell the public that the water harmed him. He is bought off by being paid to take the treatment every year.
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