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Scenes from a Courtesan's Life by Honore de Balzac

Part 6 out of 12

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affected to pay him not the slightest attention, but looked about the
house through her glass. Lucien could see, however, by the shaking of
her hand that the Countess was suffering from one of those terrible
emotions by which illicit joys are paid for. He went to the front of
the box all the same, and sat down by her at the opposite corner,
leaving a little vacant space between himself and the Countess. He
leaned on the ledge of the box with his elbow, resting his chin on his
gloved hand; then he half turned away, waiting for a word. By the
middle of the act the Countess had still neither spoken to him nor
looked at him.

"I do not know," said she at last, "why you are here; your place is in
Mademoiselle Esther's box----"

"I will go there," said Lucien, leaving the box without looking at the

"My dear," said Madame du Val-Noble, going into Esther's box with
Peyrade, whom the Baron de Nucingen did not recognize, "I am delighted
to introduce Mr. Samuel Johnson. He is a great admirer of M. de
Nucingen's talents."

"Indeed, monsieur," said Esther, smiling at Peyrade.

"Oh yes, bocou," said Peyrade.

"Why, Baron, here is a way of speaking French which is as much like
yours as the low Breton dialect is like that of Burgundy. It will be
most amusing to hear you discuss money matters.--Do you know, Monsieur
Nabob, what I shall require of you if you are to make acquaintance
with my Baron?" said Esther with a smile.

"Oh!--Thank you so much, you will introduce me to Sir Baronet?" said
Peyrade with an extravagant English accent.

"Yes," said she, "you must give me the pleasure of your company at
supper. There is no pitch stronger than champagne for sticking men
together. It seals every kind of business, above all such as you put
your foot in.--Come this evening; you will find some jolly fellows.--
As for you, my little Frederic," she added in the Baron's ear, "you
have your carriage here--just drive to the Rue Saint-Georges and bring
Europe to me here; I have a few words to say to her about the supper.
I have caught Lucien; he will bring two men who will be fun.--We will
draw the Englishman," she whispered to Madame du Val-Noble.

Peyrade and the Baron left the women together.

"Oh, my dear, if you ever succeed in drawing that great brute, you
will be clever indeed," said Suzanne.

"If it proves impossible, you must lend him to me for a week," replied
Esther, laughing.

"You would but keep him half a day," replied Madame du Val-Noble. "The
bread I eat is too hard; it breaks my teeth. Never again, to my dying
day, will I try to make an Englishman happy. They are all cold and
selfish--pigs on their hind legs."

"What, no consideration?" said Esther with a smile.

"On the contrary, my dear, the monster has never shown the least

"Under no circumstances whatever?" asked Esther.

"The wretch always addresses me as Madame, and preserves the most
perfect coolness imaginable at moments when every man is more or less
amenable. To him love-making!--on my word, it is nothing more nor less
than shaving himself. He wipes the razor, puts it back in its case,
and looks in the glass as if he were saying, 'I have not cut myself!'

"Then he treats me with such respect as is enough to send a woman mad.
That odious Milord Potboiler amuses himself by making poor Theodore
hide in my dressing-room and stand there half the day. In short, he
tries to annoy me in every way. And as stingy!--As miserly as Gobseck
and Gigonnet rolled into one. He takes me out to dinner, but he does
not pay the cab that brings me home if I happen not to have ordered my
carriage to fetch me."

"Well," said Esther, "but what does he pay you for your services?"

"Oh, my dear, positively nothing. Five hundred francs a month and not
a penny more, and the hire of a carriage. But what is it? A machine
such as they hire out for a third-rate wedding to carry an epicier to
the Mairie, to Church, and to the Cadran bleu.--Oh, he nettles me with
his respect.

"If I try hysterics and feel ill, he is never vexed; he only says: 'I
wish my lady to have her own way, for there is nothing more detestable
--no gentleman--than to say to a nice woman, "You are a cotton bale, a
bundle of merchandise."--Ha, hah! Are you a member of the Temperance
Society and anti-slavery?' And my horror sits pale, and cold, and hard
while he gives me to understand that he has as much respect for me as
he might have for a Negro, and that it has nothing to do with his
feelings, but with his opinions as an abolitionist."

"A man cannot be a worse wretch," said Esther. "But I will smash up
that outlandish Chinee."

"Smash him up?" replied Madame du Val-Noble. "Not if he does not love
me. You, yourself, would you like to ask him for two sous? He would
listen to you solemnly, and tell you, with British precision that
would make a slap in the face seem genial, that he pays dear enough
for the trifle that love can be to his poor life;" and, as before,
Madame du Val-Noble mimicked Peyrade's bad French.

"To think that in our line of life we are thrown in the way of such
men!" exclaimed Esther.

"Oh, my dear, you have been uncommonly lucky. Take good care of your

"But your nabob must have got some idea in his head."

"That is what Adele says."

"Look here, my dear; that man, you may depend, has laid a bet that he
will make a woman hate him and pack him off in a certain time."

"Or else he wants to do business with Nucingen, and took me up knowing
that you and I were friends; that is what Adele thinks," answered
Madame du Val-Noble. "That is why I introduced him to you this
evening. Oh, if only I could be sure what he is at, what tricks I
could play with you and Nucingen!"

"And you don't get angry?" asked Esther; "you don't speak your mind
now and then?"

"Try it--you are sharp and smooth.--Well, in spite of your sweetness,
he would kill you with his icy smiles. 'I am anti-slavery,' he would
say, 'and you are free.'--If you said the funniest things, he would
only look at you and say, 'Very good!' and you would see that he
regards you merely as a part of the show."

"And if you turned furious?"

"The same thing; it would still be a show. You might cut him open
under the left breast without hurting him in the least; his internals
are of tinned-iron, I am sure. I told him so. He replied, 'I am quite
satisfied with that physical constitution.'

"And always polite. My dear, he wears gloves on his soul . . .

"I shall endure this martyrdom for a few days longer to satisfy my
curiosity. But for that, I should have made Philippe slap my lord's
cheek--and he has not his match as a swordsman. There is nothing else
left for it----"

"I was just going to say so," cried Esther. "But you must ascertain
first that Philippe is a boxer; for these old English fellows, my
dear, have a depth of malignity----"

"This one has no match on earth. No. if you could but see him asking
my commands, to know at what hour he may come--to take me by surprise,
of course--and pouring out respectful speeches like a so-called
gentleman, you would say, 'Why, he adores her!' and there is not a
woman in the world who would not say the same."

"And they envy us, my dear!" exclaimed Esther.

"Ah, well!" sighed Madame du Val-Noble; "in the course of our lives we
learn more or less how little men value us. But, my dear, I have never
been so cruelly, so deeply, so utterly scorned by brutality as I am by
this great skinful of port wine.

"When he is tipsy he goes away--'not to be unpleasant,' as he tells
Adele, and not to be 'under two powers at once,' wine and woman. He
takes advantage of my carriage; he uses it more than I do.--Oh! if
only we could see him under the table to-night! But he can drink ten
bottles and only be fuddled; when his eyes are full, he still sees

"Like people whose windows are dirty outside," said Esther, "but who
can see from inside what is going on in the street.--I know that
property in man. Du Tillet has it in the highest degree."

"Try to get du Tillet, and if he and Nucingen between them could only
catch him in some of their plots, I should at least be revenged. They
would bring him to beggary!

"Oh! my dear, to have fallen into the hands of a hypocritical
Protestant after that poor Falleix, who was so amusing, so good-
natured, so full of chaff! How we used to laugh! They say all
stockbrokers are stupid. Well, he, for one, never lacked wit but

"When he left you without a sou? That is what made you acquainted with
the unpleasant side of pleasure."

Europe, brought in by Monsieur de Nucingen, put her viperine head in
at the door, and after listening to a few words whispered in her ear
by her mistress, she vanished.

At half-past eleven that evening, five carriages were stationed in the
Rue Saint-Georges before the famous courtesan's door. There was
Lucien's, who had brought Rastignac, Bixiou, and Blondet; du Tillet's,
the Baron de Nucingen's, the Nabob's, and Florine's--she was invited
by du Tillet. The closed and doubly-shuttered windows were screened by
the splendid Chinese silk curtains. Supper was to be served at one;
wax-lights were blazing, the dining-room and little drawing-room
displayed all their magnificence. The party looked forward to such an
orgy as only three such women and such men as these could survive.
They began by playing cards, as they had to wait about two hours.

"Do you play, milord?" asked du Tillet to Peyrade.

"I have played with O'Connell, Pitt, Fox, Canning, Lord Brougham,

"Say at once no end of lords," said Bixiou.

"Lord Fitzwilliam, Lord Ellenborough, Lord Hertford, Lord----"

Bixiou was looking at Peyrade's shoes, and stooped down.

"What are you looking for?" asked Blondet.

"For the spring one must touch to stop this machine," said Florine.

"Do you play for twenty francs a point?"

"I will play for as much as you like to lose."

"He does it well!" said Esther to Lucien. "They all take him for an

Du Tillet, Nucingen, Peyrade, and Rastignac sat down to a whist-table;
Florine, Madame du Val-Noble, Esther, Blondet, and Bixiou sat round
the fire chatting. Lucien spent the time in looking through a book of
fine engravings.

"Supper is ready," Paccard presently announced, in magnificent livery.

Peyrade was placed at Florine's left hand, and on the other side of
him Bixiou, whom Esther had enjoined to make the Englishman drink
freely, and challenge him to beat him. Bixiou had the power of
drinking an indefinite quantity.

Never in his life had Peyrade seen such splendor, or tasted of such
cookery, or seen such fine women.

"I am getting my money's worth this evening for the thousand crowns la
Val-Noble has cost me till now," thought he; "and besides, I have just
won a thousand francs."

"This is an example for men to follow!" said Suzanne, who was sitting
by Lucien, with a wave of her hand at the splendors of the dining-

Esther had placed Lucien next herself, and was holding his foot
between her own under the table.

"Do you hear?" said Madame du Val-Noble, addressing Peyrade, who
affected blindness. "This is how you ought to furnish a house! When a
man brings millions home from India, and wants to do business with the
Nucingens, he should place himself on the same level."

"I belong to a Temperance Society!"

"Then you will drink like a fish!" said Bixiou, "for the Indies are
uncommon hot, uncle!"

It was Bixiou's jest during supper to treat Peyrade as an uncle of
his, returned from India.

"Montame du Fal-Noble tolt me you shall have some iteas," said
Nucingen, scrutinizing Peyrade.

"Ah, this is what I wanted to hear," said du Tillet to Rastignac;
"the two talking gibberish together."

"You will see, they will understand each other at last," said Bixiou,
guessing what du Tillet had said to Rastignac.

"Sir Baronet, I have imagined a speculation--oh! a very comfortable
job--bocou profitable and rich in profits----"

"Now you will see," said Blondet to du Tillet, "he will not talk one
minute without dragging in the Parliament and the English Government."

"It is in China, in the opium trade----"

"Ja, I know," said Nucingen at once, as a man who is well acquainted
with commercial geography. "But de English Gover'ment hafe taken up de
opium trate as a means dat shall open up China, and she shall not
allow dat ve----"

"Nucingen has cut him out with the Government," remarked du Tillet to

"Ah! you have been in the opium trade!" cried Madame du Val-Noble.
"Now I understand why you are so narcotic; some has stuck in your

"Dere! you see!" cried the Baron to the self-styled opium merchant,
and pointing to Madame du Val-Noble. "You are like me. Never shall a
millionaire be able to make a voman lofe him."

"I have loved much and often, milady," replied Peyrade.

"As a result of temperance," said Bixiou, who had just seen Peyrade
finish his third bottle of claret, and now had a bottle of port wine

"Oh!" cried Peyrade, "it is very fine, the Portugal of England."

Blondet, du Tillet, and Bixiou smiled at each other. Peyrade had the
power of travestying everything, even his wit. There are very few
Englishmen who will not maintain that gold and silver are better in
England than elsewhere. The fowls and eggs exported from Normandy to
the London market enable the English to maintain that the poultry and
eggs in London are superior (very fine) to those of Paris, which come
from the same district.

Esther and Lucien were dumfounded by this perfection of costume,
language, and audacity.

They all ate and drank so well and so heartily, while talking and
laughing, that it went on till four in the morning. Bixiou flattered
himself that he had achieved one of the victories so pleasantly
related by Brillat-Savarin. But at the moment when he was saying to
himself, as he offered his "uncle" some more wine, "I have vanquished
England!" Peyrade replied in good French to this malicious scoffer,
"Toujours, mon garcon" (Go it, my boy), which no one heard but Bixiou.

"Hallo, good men all, he is as English as I am!--My uncle is a Gascon!
I could have no other!"

Bixiou and Peyrade were alone, so no one heard this announcement.
Peyrade rolled off his chair on to the floor. Paccard forthwith picked
him up and carried him to an attic, where he fell sound asleep.

At six o'clock next evening, the Nabob was roused by the application
of a wet cloth, with which his face was being washed, and awoke to
find himself on a camp-bed, face to face with Asie, wearing a mask and
a black domino.

"Well, Papa Peyrade, you and I have to settle accounts," said she.

"Where am I?" asked he, looking about him.

"Listen to me," said Asie, "and that will sober you.--Though you do
not love Madame du Val-Noble, you love your daughter, I suppose?"

"My daughter?" Peyrade echoed with a roar.

"Yes, Mademoiselle Lydie."

"What then?"

"What then? She is no longer in the Rue des Moineaux; she has been
carried off."

Peyrade breathed a sigh like that of a soldier dying of a mortal wound
on the battlefield.

"While you were pretending to be an Englishman, some one else was
pretending to be Peyrade. Your little Lydie thought she was with her
father, and she is now in a safe place.--Oh! you will never find her!
unless you undo the mischief you have done."

"What mischief?"

"Yesterday Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre had the door shut in his face
at the Duc de Grandlieu's. This is due to your intrigues, and to the
man you let loose on us. Do not speak, listen!" Asie went on, seeing
Peyrade open his mouth. "You will have your daughter again, pure and
spotless," she added, emphasizing her statement by the accent on every
word, "only on the day after that on which Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre
walks out of Saint-Thomas d'Aquin as the husband of Mademoiselle
Clotilde. If, within ten days Lucien de Rubempre is not admitted, as
he has been, to the Grandlieus' house, you, to begin with, will die a
violent death, and nothing can save you from the fate that threatens
you.--Then, when you feel yourself dying, you will have time before
breathing your last to reflect, 'My daughter is a prostitute for the
rest of her life!'

"Though you have been such a fool as give us this hold for our
clutches, you still have sense enough to meditate on this ultimatum
from our government. Do not bark, say nothing to any one; go to
Contenson's, and change your dress, and then go home. Katt will tell
you that at a word from you your little Lydie went downstairs, and has
not been seen since. If you make any fuss, if you take any steps, your
daughter will begin where I tell you she will end--she is promised to
de Marsay.

"With old Canquoelle I need not mince matters, I should think, or wear
gloves, heh?---- Go on downstairs, and take care not to meddle in our
concerns any more."

Asie left Peyrade in a pitiable state; every word had been a blow with
a club. The spy had tears in his eyes, and tears hanging from his
cheeks at the end of a wet furrow.

"They are waiting dinner for Mr. Johnson," said Europe, putting her
head in a moment after.

Peyrade made no reply; he went down, walked till he reached a cab-
stand, and hurried off to undress at Contenson's, not saying a word to
him; he resumed the costume of Pere Canquoelle, and got home by eight
o'clock. He mounted the stairs with a beating heart. When the Flemish
woman heard her master, she asked him:

"Well, and where is mademoiselle?" with such simplicity, that the old
spy was obliged to lean against the wall. The blow was more than he
could bear. He went into his daughter's rooms, and ended by fainting
with grief when he found them empty, and heard Katt's story, which was
that of an abduction as skilfully planned as if he had arranged it

"Well, well," thought he, "I must knock under. I will be revenged
later; now I must go to Corentin.--This is the first time we have met
our foes. Corentin will leave that handsome boy free to marry an
Empress if he wishes!--Yes, I understand that my little girl should
have fallen in love with him at first sight.--Oh! that Spanish priest
is a knowing one. Courage, friend Peyrade! disgorge your prey!"

The poor father never dreamed of the fearful blow that awaited him.

On reaching Corentin's house, Bruno, the confidential servant, who
knew Peyrade, said:

"Monsieur is gone away."

"For a long time?"

"For ten days."


"I don't know.

"Good God, I am losing my wits! I ask him where--as if we ever told
them----" thought he.

A few hours before the moment when Peyrade was to be roused in his
garret in the Rue Saint-Georges, Corentin, coming in from his country
place at Passy, had made his way to the Duc de Grandlieu's, in the
costume of a retainer of a superior class. He wore the ribbon of the
Legion of Honor at his button-hole. He had made up a withered old face
with powdered hair, deep wrinkles, and a colorless skin. His eyes were
hidden by tortoise-shell spectacles. He looked like a retired office-
clerk. On giving his name as Monsieur de Saint-Denis, he was led to
the Duke's private room, where he found Derville reading a letter,
which he himself had dictated to one of his agents, the "number" whose
business it was to write documents. The Duke took Corentin aside to
tell him all he already knew. Monsieur de Saint-Denis listened coldly
and respectfully, amusing himself by studying this grand gentleman, by
penetrating the tufa beneath the velvet cover, by scrutinizing this
being, now and always absorbed in whist and in regard for the House of

"If you will take my advice, monsieur," said Corentin to Derville,
after being duly introduced to the lawyer, "we shall set out this very
afternoon for Angouleme by the Bordeaux coach, which goes quite as
fast as the mail; and we shall not need to stay there six hours to
obtain the information Monsieur le Duc requires. It will be enough--if
I have understood your Grace--to ascertain whether Monsieur de
Rubempre's sister and brother-in-law are in a position to give him
twelve hundred thousand francs?" and he turned to the Duke.

"You have understood me perfectly," said the Duke.

"We can be back again in four days," Corentin went on, addressing
Derville, "and neither of us will have neglected his business long
enough for it to suffer."

"That was the only difficulty I was about to mention to his Grace,"
said Derville. "It is now four o'clock. I am going home to say a word
to my head-clerk, and pack my traveling-bag, and after dinner, at
eight o'clock, I will be---- But shall we get places?" he said to
Monsieur de Saint-Denis, interrupting himself.

"I will answer for that," said Corentin. "Be in the yard of the Chief
Office of the Messageries at eight o'clock. If there are no places,
they shall make some, for that is the way to serve Monseigneur le Duc
de Grandlieu."

"Gentlemen," said the Duke most graciously, "I postpone my thanks----"

Corentin and the lawyer, taking this as a dismissal, bowed, and

At the hour when Peyrade was questioning Corentin's servant, Monsieur
de Saint-Denis and Derville, seated in the Bordeaux coach, were
studying each other in silence as they drove out of Paris.

Next morning, between Orleans and Tours, Derville, being bored, began
to converse, and Corentin condescended to amuse him, but keeping his
distance; he left him to believe that he was in the diplomatic
service, and was hoping to become Consul-General by the good offices
of the Duc de Grandlieu. Two days after leaving Paris, Corentin and
Derville got out at Mansle, to the great surprise of the lawyer, who
thought he was going to Angouleme.

"In this little town," said Corentin, "we can get the most positive
information as regards Madame Sechard."

"Do you know her then?" asked Derville, astonished to find Corentin so
well informed.

"I made the conductor talk, finding he was a native of Angouleme. He
tells me that Madame Sechard lives at Marsac, and Marsac is but a
league away from Mansle. I thought we should be at greater advantage
here than at Angouleme for verifying the facts."

"And besides," thought Derville, "as Monsieur le Duc said, I act
merely as the witness to the inquiries made by this confidential

The inn at Mansle, la Belle Etoile, had for its landlord one of those
fat and burly men whom we fear we may find no more on our return; but
who still, ten years after, are seen standing at their door with as
much superfluous flesh as ever, in the same linen cap, the same apron,
with the same knife, the same oiled hair, the same triple chin,--all
stereotyped by novel-writers from the immortal Cervantes to the
immortal Walter Scott. Are they not all boastful of their cookery?
have they not all "whatever you please to order"? and do not all end
by giving you the same hectic chicken, and vegetables cooked with rank
butter? They all boast of their fine wines, and all make you drink the
wine of the country.

But Corentin, from his earliest youth, had known the art of getting
out of an innkeeper things more essential to himself than doubtful
dishes and apocryphal wines. So he gave himself out as a man easy to
please, and willing to leave himself in the hands of the best cook in
Mansle, as he told the fat man.

"There is no difficulty about being the best--I am the only one," said
the host.

"Serve us in the side room," said Corentin, winking at Derville. "And
do not be afraid of setting the chimney on fire; we want to thaw out
the frost in our fingers."

"It was not warm in the coach," said Derville.

"Is it far to Marsac?" asked Corentin of the innkeeper's wife, who
came down from the upper regions on hearing that the diligence had
dropped two travelers to sleep there.

"Are you going to Marsac, monsieur?" replied the woman.

"I don't know," he said sharply. "Is it far from hence to Marsac?" he
repeated, after giving the woman time to notice his red ribbon.

"In a chaise, a matter of half an hour," said the innkeeper's wife.

"Do you think that Monsieur and Madame Sechard are likely to be there
in winter?"

"To be sure; they live there all the year round."

"It is now five o'clock. We shall still find them up at nine."

"Oh yes, till ten. They have company every evening--the cure, Monsieur
Marron the doctor----"

"Good folks then?" said Derville.

"Oh, the best of good souls," replied the woman, "straight-forward,
honest--and not ambitious neither. Monsieur Sechard, though he is very
well off--they say he might have made millions if he had not allowed
himself to be robbed of an invention in the paper-making of which the
brothers Cointet are getting the benefit----"

"Ah, to be sure, the Brothers Cointet!" said Corentin.

"Hold your tongue," said the innkeeper. "What can it matter to these
gentlemen whether Monsieur Sechard has a right or no to a patent for
his inventions in paper-making?--If you mean to spend the night here--
at the Belle Etoile----" he went on, addressing the travelers, "here
is the book, and please to put your names down. We have an officer in
this town who has nothing to do, and spends all his time in nagging at

"The devil!" said Corentin, while Derville entered their names and his
profession as attorney to the lower Court in the department of the
Seine, "I fancied the Sechards were very rich."

"Some people say they are millionaires," replied the innkeeper. "But
as to hindering tongues from wagging, you might as well try to stop
the river from flowing. Old Sechard left two hundred thousand francs'
worth of landed property, it is said; and that is not amiss for a man
who began as a workman. Well, and he may have had as much again in
savings, for he made ten or twelve thousand francs out of his land at
last. So, supposing he were fool enough not to invest his money for
ten years, that would be all told. But even if he lent it at high
interest, as he is suspected of doing there would be three hundred
thousand francs perhaps, and that is all. Five hundred thousand francs
is a long way short of a million. I should be quite content with the
difference, and no more of the Belle Etoile for me.!"

"Really!" said Corentin. "Then Monsieur David Sechard and his wife
have not a fortune of two or three millions?"

"Why," exclaimed the innkeeper's wife, "that is what the Cointets are
supposed to have, who robbed him of his invention, and he does not get
more than twenty thousand francs out of them. Where do you suppose
such honest folks would find millions? They were very much pinched
while the father was alive. But for Kolb, their manager, and Madame
Kolb, who is as much attached to them as her husband, they could
scarcely have lived. Why, how much had they with La Verberie!--A
thousand francs a year perhaps."

Corentin drew Derville aside and said:

"In vino veritas! Truth lives under a cork. For my part, I regard an
inn as the real registry office of the countryside; the notary is not
better informed than the innkeeper as to all that goes on in a small
neighborhood.--You see! we are supposed to know all about the Cointets
and Kolb and the rest.

"Your innkeeper is the living record of every incident; he does the
work of the police without suspecting it. A government should maintain
two hundred spies at most, for in a country like France there are ten
millions of simple-minded informers.--However, we need not trust to
this report; though even in this little town something would be known
about the twelve hundred thousand francs sunk in paying for the
Rubempre estate. We will not stop here long----"

"I hope not!" Derville put in.

"And this is why," added Corentin; "I have hit on the most natural way
of extracting the truth from the mouth of the Sechard couple. I rely
upon you to support, by your authority as a lawyer, the little trick I
shall employ to enable you to hear a clear and complete account of
their affairs.--After dinner we shall set out to call on Monsieur
Sechard," said Corentin to the innkeeper's wife. "Have beds ready for
us, we want separate rooms. There can be no difficulty 'under the
stars.' "

"Oh, monsieur," said the woman, "we invented the sign."

"The pun is to be found in every department," said Corentin; "it is no
monopoly of yours."

"Dinner is served, gentlemen," said the innkeeper.

"But where the devil can that young fellow have found the money? Is
the anonymous writer accurate? Can it be the earnings of some handsome
baggage?" said Derville, as they sat down to dinner.

"Ah, that will be the subject of another inquiry," said Corentin.
"Lucien de Rubempre, as the Duc de Chaulieu tells me, lives with a
converted Jewess, who passes for a Dutch woman, and is called Esther
van Bogseck."

"What a strange coincidence!" said the lawyer. "I am hunting for the
heiress of a Dutchman named Gobseck--it is the same name with a
transposition of consonants."

"Well," said Corentin, "you shall have information as to her parentage
on my return to Paris."

An hour later, the two agents for the Grandlieu family set out for La
Verberie, where Monsieur and Madame Sechard were living.

Never had Lucien felt any emotion so deep as that which overcame him
at La Verberie when comparing his own fate with that of his brother-
in-law. The two Parisians were about to witness the same scene that
had so much struck Lucien a few days since. Everything spoke of peace
and abundance.

At the hour when the two strangers were arriving, a party of four
persons were being entertained in the drawing-room of La Verberie: the
cure of Marsac, a young priest of five-and-twenty, who, at Madame
Sechard's request, had become tutor to her little boy Lucien; the
country doctor, Monsieur Marron; the Maire of the commune; and an old
colonel, who grew roses on a plot of land opposite to La Verberie on
the other side of the road. Every evening during the winter these
persons came to play an artless game of boston for centime points, to
borrow the papers, or return those they had finished.

When Monsieur and Madame Sechard had bought La Verberie, a fine house
built of stone, and roofed with slate, the pleasure-grounds consisted
of a garden of two acres. In the course of time, by devoting her
savings to the purpose, handsome Madame Sechard had extended her
garden as far as a brook, by cutting down the vines on some ground she
purchased, and replacing them with grass plots and clumps of
shrubbery. At the present time the house, surrounded by a park of
about twenty acres, and enclosed by walls, was considered the most
imposing place in the neighborhood.

Old Sechard's former residence, with the outhouses attached, was now
used as the dwelling-house for the manager of about twenty acres of
vineyard left by him, of five farmsteads, bringing in about six
thousand francs a year, and ten acres of meadow land lying on the
further side of the stream, exactly opposite the little park; indeed,
Madame Sechard hoped to include them in it the next year. La Verberie
was already spoken of in the neighborhood as a chateau, and Eve
Sechard was known as the Lady of Marsac. Lucien, while flattering her
vanity, had only followed the example of the peasants and vine-
dressers. Courtois, the owner of the mill, very picturesquely situated
a few hundred yards from the meadows of La Verberie, was in treaty, it
was said, with Madame Sechard for the sale of his property; and this
acquisition would give the finishing touch to the estate and the rank
of a "place" in the department.

Madame Sechard, who did a great deal of good, with as much judgment as
generosity, was equally esteemed and loved. Her beauty, now really
splendid, was at the height of its bloom. She was about six-and-
twenty, but had preserved all the freshness of youth from living in
the tranquillity and abundance of a country life. Still much in love
with her husband, she respected him as a clever man, who was modest
enough to renounce the display of fame; in short, to complete her
portrait, it is enough to say that in her whole existence she had
never felt a throb of her heart that was not inspired by her husband
or her children.

The tax paid to grief by this happy household was, as may be supposed,
the deep anxiety caused by Lucien's career, in which Eve Sechard
suspected mysteries, which she dreaded all the more because, during
his last visit, Lucien roughly cut short all his sister's questions by
saying that an ambitious man owed no account of his proceedings to any
one but himself.

In six years Lucien had seen his sister but three times, and had not
written her more than six letters. His first visit to La Verberie had
been on the occasion of his mother's death; and his last had been paid
with a view to asking the favor of the lie which was so necessary to
his advancement. This gave rise to a very serious scene between
Monsieur and Madame Sechard and their brother, and left their happy
and respected life troubled by the most terrible suspicions.

The interior of the house, as much altered as the surroundings, was
comfortable without luxury, as will be understood by a glance round
the room where the little party were now assembled. A pretty Aubusson
carpet, hangings of gray cotton twill bound with green silk brocade,
the woodwork painted to imitate Spa wood, carved mahogany furniture
covered with gray woolen stuff and green gimp, with flower-stands, gay
with flowers in spite of the time of year, presented a very pleasing
and homelike aspect. The window curtains, of green brocade, the
chimney ornaments, and the mirror frames were untainted by the bad
taste that spoils everything in the provinces; and the smallest
details, all elegant and appropriate, gave the mind and eye a sense of
repose and of poetry which a clever and loving woman can and ought to
infuse into her home.

Madame Sechard, still in mourning for her father, sat by the fire
working at some large piece of tapestry with the help of Madame Kolb,
the housekeeper, to whom she intrusted all the minor cares of the

"A chaise has stopped at the door!" said Courtois, hearing the sound
of wheels outside; "and to judge by the clatter of metal, it belongs
to these parts----"

"Postel and his wife have come to see us, no doubt," said the doctor.

"No," said Courtois, "the chaise has come from Mansle."

"Montame," said Kolb, the burly Alsatian we have made acquaintance
with in a former volume (Illusions perdues), "here is a lawyer from
Paris who wants to speak with monsieur."

"A lawyer!" cried Sechard; "the very word gives me the colic!"

"Thank you!" said the Maire of Marsac, named Cachan, who for twenty
years had been an attorney at Angouleme, and who had once been
required to prosecute Sechard.

"My poor David will never improve; he will always be absent-minded!"
said Eve, smiling.

"A lawyer from Paris," said Courtois. "Have you any business in

"No," said Eve.

"But you have a brother there," observed Courtois.

"Take care lest he should have anything to say about old Sechard's
estate," said Cachan. "HE had his finger in some very queer concerns,
worthy man!"

Corentin and Derville, on entering the room, after bowing to the
company, and giving their names, begged to have a private interview
with Monsieur and Madame Sechard.

"By all means," said Sechard. "But is it a matter of business?"

"Solely a matter regarding your father's property," said Corentin.

"Then I beg you will allow monsieur--the Maire, a lawyer formerly at
Angouleme--to be present also."

"Are you Monsieur Derville?" said Cachan, addressing Corentin.

"No, monsieur, this is Monsieur Derville," replied Corentin,
introducing the lawyer, who bowed.

"But," said Sechard, "we are, so to speak, a family party; we have no
secrets from our neighbors; there is no need to retire to my study,
where there is no fire--our life is in the sight of all men----"

"But your father's," said Corentin, "was involved in certain mysteries
which perhaps you would rather not make public."

"Is it anything we need blush for?" said Eve, in alarm.

"Oh, no! a sin of his youth," said Corentin, coldly setting one of his
mouse-traps. "Monsieur, your father left an elder son----"

"Oh, the old rascal!" cried Courtois. "He was never very fond of you,
Monsieur Sechard, and he kept that secret from you, the deep old dog!
--Now I understand what he meant when he used to say to me, 'You shall
see what you shall see when I am under the turf.' "

"Do not be dismayed, monsieur," said Corentin to Sechard, while he
watched Eve out of the corner of his eye.

"A brother!" exclaimed the doctor. "Then your inheritance is divided
into two!"

Derville was affecting to examine the fine engravings, proofs before
letters, which hung on the drawing-room walls.

"Do not be dismayed, madame," Corentin went on, seeing amazement
written on Madame Sechard's handsome features, "it is only a natural
son. The rights of a natural son are not the same as those of a
legitimate child. This man is in the depths of poverty, and he has a
right to a certain sum calculated on the amount of the estate. The
millions left by your father----"

At the word millions there was a perfectly unanimous cry from all the
persons present. And now Derville ceased to study the prints.

"Old Sechard?--Millions?" said Courtois. "Who on earth told you that?
Some peasant----"

"Monsieur," said Cachan, "you are not attached to the Treasury? You
may be told all the facts----"

"Be quite easy," said Corentin, "I give you my word of honor I am not
employed by the Treasury."

Cachan, who had just signed to everybody to say nothing, gave
expression to his satisfaction.

"Monsieur," Corentin went on, "if the whole estate were but a million,
a natural child's share would still be something considerable. But we
have not come to threaten a lawsuit; on the contrary, our purpose is
to propose that you should hand over one hundred thousand francs, and
we will depart----"

"One hundred thousand francs!" cried Cachan, interrupting him. "But,
monsieur, old Sechard left twenty acres of vineyard, five small farms,
ten acres of meadowland here, and not a sou besides----"

"Nothing on earth," cried David Sechard, "would induce me to tell a
lie, and less to a question of money than on any other.-- Monsieur,"
he said, turning to Corentin and Derville, "my father left us, besides
the land----"

Courtois and Cachan signaled in vain to Sechard; he went on:

"Three hundred thousand francs, which raises the whole estate to about
five hundred thousand francs."

"Monsieur Cachan," asked Eve Sechard, "what proportion does the law
allot to a natural child?"

"Madame," said Corentin, "we are not Turks; we only require you to
swear before these gentlemen that you did not inherit more than five
hundred thousand francs from your father-in-law, and we can come to an

"First give me your word of honor that you really are a lawyer," said
Cachan to Derville.

"Here is my passport," replied Derville, handing him a paper folded in
four; "and monsieur is not, as you might suppose, an inspector from
the Treasury, so be easy," he added. "We had an important reason for
wanting to know the truth as to the Sechard estate, and we now know

Derville took Madame Sechard's hand and led her very courteously to
the further end of the room.

"Madame," said he, in a low voice, "if it were not that the honor and
future prospects of the house of Grandlieu are implicated in this
affair, I would never have lent myself to the stratagem devised by
this gentleman of the red ribbon. But you must forgive him; it was
necessary to detect the falsehood by means of which your brother has
stolen a march on the beliefs of that ancient family. Beware now of
allowing it to be supposed that you have given your brother twelve
hundred thousand francs to repurchase the Rubempre estates----"

"Twelve hundred thousand francs!" cried Madame Sechard, turning pale.
"Where did he get them, wretched boy?"

"Ah! that is the question," replied Derville. "I fear that the source
of his wealth is far from pure."

The tears rose to Eve's eyes, as her neighbors could see.

"We have, perhaps, done you a great service by saving you from
abetting a falsehood of which the results may be positively
dangerous," the lawyer went on.

Derville left Madame Sechard sitting pale and dejected with tears on
her cheeks, and bowed to the company.

"To Mansle!" said Corentin to the little boy who drove the chaise.

There was but one vacant place in the diligence from Bordeaux to
Paris; Derville begged Corentin to allow him to take it, urging a
press of business; but in his soul he was distrustful of his traveling
companion, whose diplomatic dexterity and coolness struck him as being
the result of practice. Corentin remained three days longer at Mansle,
unable to get away; he was obliged to secure a place in the Paris
coach by writing to Bordeaux, and did not get back till nine days
after leaving home.

Peyrade, meanwhile, had called every morning, either at Passy or in
Paris, to inquire whether Corentin had returned. On the eighth day he
left at each house a note, written in their peculiar cipher, to
explain to his friend what death hung over him, and to tell him of
Lydie's abduction and the horrible end to which his enemies had
devoted them. Peyrade, bereft of Corentin, but seconded by Contenson,
still kept up his disguise as a nabob. Even though his invisible foes
had discovered him, he very wisely reflected that he might glean some
light on the matter by remaining on the field of the contest.

Contenson had brought all his experience into play in his search for
Lydie, and hoped to discover in what house she was hidden; but as the
days went by, the impossibility, absolutely demonstrated, of tracing
the slightest clue, added, hour by hour, to Peyrade's despair. The old
spy had a sort of guard about him of twelve or fifteen of the most
experienced detectives. They watched the neighborhood of the Rue des
Moineaux and the Rue Taitbout--where he lived, as a nabob, with Madame
du Val-Noble. During the last three days of the term granted by Asie
to reinstate Lucien on his old footing in the Hotel de Grandlieu,
Contenson never left the veteran of the old general police office. And
the poetic terror shed throughout the forests of America by the arts
of inimical and warring tribes, of which Cooper made such good use in
his novels, was here associated with the petty details of Paris life.
The foot-passengers, the shops, the hackney cabs, a figure standing at
a window,--everything had to the human ciphers to whom old Peyrade had
intrusted his safety the thrilling interest which attaches in Cooper's
romances to a beaver-village, a rock, a bison-robe, a floating canoe,
a weed straggling over the water.

"If the Spaniard has gone away, you have nothing to fear," said
Contenson to Peyrade, remarking on the perfect peace they lived in.

"But if he is not gone?" observed Peyrade.

"He took one of my men at the back of the chaise; but at Blois, my man
having to get down, could not catch the chaise up again."

Five days after Derville's return, Lucien one morning had a call from

"I am in despair, my dear boy," said his visitor, "at finding myself
compelled to deliver a message which is intrusted to me because we are
known to be intimate. Your marriage is broken off beyond all hope of
reconciliation. Never set foot again in the Hotel de Grandlieu. To
marry Clotilde you must wait till her father dies, and he is too
selfish to die yet awhile. Old whist-players sit at table--the card-
table--very late.

"Clotilde is setting out for Italy with Madeleine de Lenoncourt-
Chaulieu. The poor girl is so madly in love with you, my dear fellow,
that they have to keep an eye on her; she was bent on coming to see
you, and had plotted an escape. That may comfort you in misfortune!"

Lucien made no reply; he sat gazing at Rastignac.

"And is it a misfortune, after all?" his friend went on. "You will
easily find a girl as well born and better looking than Clotilde!
Madame de Serizy will find you a wife out of spite; she cannot endure
the Grandlieus, who never would have anything to say to her. She has a
niece, little Clemence du Rouvre----"

"My dear boy," said Lucien at length, "since that supper I am not on
terms with Madame de Serizy--she saw me in Esther's box and made a
scene--and I left her to herself."

"A woman of forty does not long keep up a quarrel with so handsome a
man as you are," said Rastignac. "I know something of these sunsets.--
It lasts ten minutes in the sky, and ten years in a woman's heart."

"I have waited a week to hear from her."

"Go and call."

"Yes, I must now."

"Are you coming at any rate to the Val-Noble's? Her nabob is returning
the supper given by Nucingen."

"I am asked, and I shall go," said Lucien gravely.

The day after this confirmation of his disaster, which Carlos heard of
at once from Asie, Lucien went to the Rue Taitbout with Rastignac and

At midnight nearly all the personages of this drama were assembled in
the dining-room that had formerly been Esther's--a drama of which the
interest lay hidden under the very bed of these tumultuous lives, and
was known only to Esther, to Lucien, to Peyrade, to Contenson, the
mulatto, and to Paccard, who attended his mistress. Asie, without its
being known to Contenson and Peyrade, had been asked by Madame du Val-
Noble to come and help her cook.

As they sat down to table, Peyrade, who had given Madame du Val-Noble
five hundred francs that the thing might be well done, found under his
napkin a scrap of paper on which these words were written in pencil,
"The ten days are up at the moment when you sit down to supper."

Peyrade handed the paper to Contenson, who was standing behind him,
saying in English:

"Did you put my name here?"

Contenson read by the light of the wax-candles this "Mene, Tekel,
Upharsin," and slipped the scrap into his pocket; but he knew how
difficult it is to verify a handwriting in pencil, and, above all, a
sentence written in Roman capitals, that is to say, with mathematical
lines, since capital letters are wholly made up of straight lines and
curves, in which it is impossible to detect any trick of the hand, as
in what is called running-hand.

The supper was absolutely devoid of spirit. Peyrade was visibly
absent-minded. Of the men about town who give life to a supper, only
Rastignac and Lucien were present. Lucien was gloomy and absorbed in
thought; Rastignac, who had lost two thousand francs before supper,
ate and drank with the hope of recovering them later. The three women,
stricken by this chill, looked at each other. Dulness deprived the
dishes of all relish. Suppers, like plays and books, have their good
and bad luck.

At the end of the meal ices were served, of the kind called
plombieres. As everybody knows, this kind of dessert has delicate
preserved fruits laid on the top of the ice, which is served in a
little glass, not heaped above the rim. These ices had been ordered by
Madame du Val-Noble of Tortoni, whose shop is at the corner of the Rue
Taitbout and the Boulevard.

The cook called Contenson out of the room to pay the bill.

Contenson, who thought this demand on the part of the shop-boy rather
strange, went downstairs and startled him by saying:

"Then you have not come from Tortoni's?" and then went straight
upstairs again.

Paccard had meanwhile handed the ices to the company in his absence.
The mulatto had hardly reached the door when one of the police
constables who had kept watch in the Rue des Moineaux called up the

"Number twenty-seven."

"What's up?" replied Contenson, flying down again.

"Tell Papa that his daughter has come home; but, good God! in what a
state. Tell him to come at once; she is dying."

At the moment when Contenson re-entered the dining-room, old Peyrade,
who had drunk a great deal, was swallowing the cherry off his ice.
They were drinking to the health of Madame du Val-Noble; the nabob
filled his glass with Constantia and emptied it.

In spite of his distress at the news he had to give Peyrade, Contenson
was struck by the eager attention with which Paccard was looking at
the nabob. His eyes sparkled like two fixed flames. Although it seemed
important, still this could not delay the mulatto, who leaned over his
master, just as Peyrade set his glass down.

"Lydie is at home," said Contenson, "in a very bad state."

Peyrade rattled out the most French of all French oaths with such a
strong Southern accent that all the guests looked up in amazement.
Peyrade, discovering his blunder, acknowledged his disguise by saying
to Contenson in good French:

"Find me a coach--I'm off."

Every one rose.

"Why, who are you?" said Lucien.

"Ja--who?" said the Baron.

"Bixiou told me you shammed Englishman better than he could, and I
would not believe him," said Rastignac.

"Some bankrupt caught in disguise," said du Tillet loudly. "I
suspected as much!"

"A strange place is Paris!" said Madame du Val-Noble. "After being
bankrupt in his own part of town, a merchant turns up as a nabob or a
dandy in the Champs-Elysees with impunity!--Oh! I am unlucky!
bankrupts are my bane."

"Every flower has its peculiar blight!" said Esther quietly. "Mine is
like Cleopatra's--an asp."

"Who am I?" echoed Peyrade from the door. "You will know ere long; for
if I die, I will rise from my grave to clutch your feet every night!"

He looked at Esther and Lucien as he spoke, then he took advantage of
the general dismay to vanish with the utmost rapidity, meaning to run
home without waiting for the coach. In the street the spy was gripped
by the arm as he crossed the threshold of the outer gate. It was Asie,
wrapped in a black hood such as ladies then wore on leaving a ball.

"Send for the Sacraments, Papa Peyrade," said she, in the voice that
had already prophesied ill.

A coach was waiting. Asie jumped in, and the carriage vanished as
though the wind had swept it away. There were five carriages waiting;
Peyrade's men could find out nothing.

On reaching his house in the Rue des Vignes, one of the quietest and
prettiest nooks of the little town of Passy, Corentin, who was known
there as a retired merchant passionately devoted to gardening, found
his friend Peyrade's note in cipher. Instead of resting, he got into
the hackney coach that had brought him thither, and was driven to the
Rue des Moineaux, where he found only Katt. From her he heard of
Lydie's disappearance, and remained astounded at Peyrade's and his own
want of foresight.

"But they do not know me yet," said he to himself. "This crew is
capable of anything; I must find out if they are killing Peyrade; for
if so, I must not be seen any more----"

The viler a man's life is, the more he clings to it; it becomes at
every moment a protest and a revenge.

Corentin went back to the cab, and drove to his rooms to assume the
disguise of a feeble old man, in a scanty greenish overcoat and a tow
wig. Then he returned on foot, prompted by his friendship for Peyrade.
He intended to give instructions to his most devoted and cleverest

As he went along the Rue Saint-Honore to reach the Rue Saint-Roch from
the Place Vendome, he came up behind a girl in slippers, and dressed
as a woman dresses for the night. She had on a white bed-jacket and a
nightcap, and from time to time gave vent to a sob and an involuntary
groan. Corentin out-paced her, and turning round, recognized Lydie.

"I am a friend of your father's, of Monsieur Canquoelle's," said he in
his natural voice.

"Ah! then here is some one I can trust!" said she.

"Do not seem to have recognized me," Corentin went on, "for we are
pursued by relentless foes, and are obliged to disguise ourselves. But
tell me what has befallen you?"

"Oh, monsieur," said the poor child, "the facts but not the story can
be told--I am ruined, lost, and I do not know how----"

"Where have you come from?"

"I don't know, monsieur. I fled with such precipitancy, I have come
through so many streets, round so many turnings, fancying I was being
followed. And when I met any one that seemed decent, I asked my way to
get back to the Boulevards, so as to find the Rue de la Paix. And at
last, after walking---- What o'clock is it, monsieur?"

"Half-past eleven," said Corentin.

"I escaped at nightfall," said Lydie. "I have been walking for five

"Well, come along; you can rest now; you will find your good Katt."

"Oh, monsieur, there is no rest for me! I only want to rest in the
grave, and I will go and wait for death in a convent if I am worthy to
be admitted----"

"Poor little girl!--But you struggled?"

"Oh yes! Oh! if you could only imagine the abject creatures they
placed me with----!"

"They sent you to sleep, no doubt?"

"Ah! that is it" cried poor Lydie. "A little more strength and I
should be at home. I feel that I am dropping, and my brain is not
quite clear.--Just now I fancied I was in a garden----"

Corentin took Lydie in his arms, and she lost consciousness; he
carried her upstairs.

"Katt!" he called.

Katt came out with exclamations of joy.

"Don't be in too great a hurry to be glad!" said Corentin gravely;
"the girl is very ill."

When Lydie was laid on her bed and recognized her own room by the
light of two candles that Katt lighted, she became delirious. She sang
scraps of pretty airs, broken by vociferations of horrible sentences
she had heard. Her pretty face was mottled with purple patches. She
mixed up the reminiscences of her pure childhood with those of these
ten days of infamy. Katt sat weeping; Corentin paced the room,
stopping now and again to gaze at Lydie.

"She is paying her father's debt," said he. "Is there a Providence
above? Oh, I was wise not to have a family. On my word of honor, a
child is indeed a hostage given to misfortune, as some philosopher has

"Oh!" cried the poor child, sitting up in bed and throwing back her
fine long hair, "instead of lying here, Katt, I ought to be stretched
in the sand at the bottom of the Seine!"

"Katt, instead of crying and looking at your child, which will never
cure her, you ought to go for a doctor; the medical officer in the
first instance, and then Monsieur Desplein and Monsieur Bianchon----
We must save this innocent creature."

And Corentin wrote down the addresses of these two famous physicians.

At this moment, up the stairs came some one to whom they were
familiar, and the door was opened. Peyrade, in a violent sweat, his
face purple, his eyes almost blood-stained, and gasping like a
dolphin, rushed from the outer door to Lydie's room, exclaiming:

"Where is my child?"

He saw a melancholy sign from Corentin, and his eyes followed his
friend's hand. Lydie's condition can only be compared to that of a
flower tenderly cherished by a gardener, now fallen from its stem, and
crushed by the iron-clamped shoes of some peasant. Ascribe this simile
to a father's heart, and you will understand the blow that fell on
Peyrade; the tears started to his eyes.

"You are crying!--It is my father!" said the girl.

She could still recognize her father; she got out of bed and fell on
her knees at the old man's side as he sank into a chair.

"Forgive me, papa," said she in a tone that pierced Peyrade's heart,
and at the same moment he was conscious of what felt like a tremendous
blow on his head.

"I am dying!--the villains!" were his last words.

Corentin tried to help his friend, and received his latest breath.

"Dead! Poisoned!" said he to himself. "Ah! here is the doctor!" he
exclaimed, hearing the sound of wheels.

Contenson, who came with his mulatto disguise removed, stood like a
bronze statue as he heard Lydie say:

"Then you do not forgive me, father?--But it was not my fault!"

She did not understand that her father was dead.

"Oh, how he stares at me!" cried the poor crazy girl.

"We must close his eyes," said Contenson, lifting Peyrade on to the

"We are doing a stupid thing," said Corentin. "Let us carry him into
his own room. His daughter is half demented, and she will go quite mad
when she sees that he is dead; she will fancy that she has killed

Lydie, seeing them carry away her father, looked quite stupefied.

"There lies my only friend!" said Corentin, seeming much moved when
Peyrade was laid out on the bed in his own room. "In all his life he
never had but one impulse of cupidity, and that was for his daughter!
--Let him be an example to you, Contenson. Every line of life has its
code of honor. Peyrade did wrong when he mixed himself up with private
concerns; we have no business to meddle with any but public cases.

"But come what may, I swear," said he with a voice, an emphasis, a
look that struck horror into Contenson, "to avenge my poor Peyrade! I
will discover the men who are guilty of his death and of his
daughter's ruin. And as sure as I am myself, as I have yet a few days
to live, which I will risk to accomplish that vengeance, every man of
them shall die at four o'clock, in good health, by a clean shave on
the Place de Greve."

"And I will help you," said Contenson with feeling.

Nothing, in fact, is more heart-stirring than the spectacle of passion
in a cold, self-contained, and methodical man, in whom, for twenty
years, no one has ever detected the smallest impulse of sentiment. It
is like a molten bar of iron which melts everything it touches. And
Contenson was moved to his depths.

"Poor old Canquoelle!" said he, looking at Corentin. "He has treated
me many a time.--And, I tell you, only your bad sort know how to do
such things--but often has he given me ten francs to go and gamble
with . . ."

After this funeral oration, Peyrade's two avengers went back to
Lydie's room, hearing Katt and the medical officer from the Mairie on
the stairs.

"Go and fetch the Chief of Police," said Corentin. "The public
prosecutor will not find grounds for a prosecution in the case; still,
we will report it to the Prefecture; it may, perhaps, be of some use.

"Monsieur," he went on to the medical officer, "in this room you will
see a dead man. I do not believe that he died from natural causes; you
will be good enough to make a post-mortem in the presence of the Chief
of the Police, who will come at my request. Try to discover some
traces of poison. You will, in a few minutes, have the opinion of
Monsieur Desplein and Monsieur Bianchon, for whom I have sent to
examine the daughter of my best friend; she is in a worse plight than
he, though he is dead."

"I have no need of those gentlemen's assistance in the exercise of my
duty," said the medical officer.

"Well, well," thought Corentin. "Let us have no clashing, monsieur,"
he said. "In a few words I give you my opinion--Those who have just
murdered the father have also ruined the daughter."

By daylight Lydie had yielded to fatigue; when the great surgeon and
the young physician arrived she was asleep.

The doctor, whose duty it was to sign the death certificate, had now
opened Peyrade's body, and was seeking the cause of death.

"While waiting for your patient to awake," said Corentin to the two
famous doctors, "would you join one of your professional brethren in
an examination which cannot fail to interest you, and your opinion
will be valuable in case of an inquiry."

"Your relations died of apoplexy," said the official. "There are all
the symptoms of violent congestion of the brain."

"Examine him, gentlemen, and see if there is no poison capable of
producing similar symptoms."

"The stomach is, in fact, full of food substances; but short of
chemical analysis, I find no evidence of poison.

"If the characters of cerebral congestion are well ascertained, we
have here, considering the patient's age, a sufficient cause of
death," observed Desplein, looking at the enormous mass of material.

"Did he sup here?" asked Bianchon.

"No," said Corentin; "he came here in great haste from the Boulevard,
and found his daughter ruined----"

"That was the poison if he loved his daughter," said Bianchon.

"What known poison could produce a similar effect?" asked Corentin,
clinging to his idea.

"There is but one," said Desplein, after a careful examination. "It is
a poison found in the Malayan Archipelago, and derived from trees, as
yet but little known, of the strychnos family; it is used to poison
that dangerous weapon, the Malay kris.--At least, so it is reported."

The Police Commissioner presently arrived; Corentin told him his
suspicions, and begged him to draw up a report, telling him where and
with whom Peyrade had supped, and the causes of the state in which he
found Lydie.

Corentin then went to Lydie's rooms; Desplein and Bianchon had been
examining the poor child. He met them at the door.

"Well, gentlemen?" asked Corentin.

"Place the girl under medical care; unless she recovers her wits when
her child is born--if indeed she should have a child--she will end her
days melancholy-mad. There is no hope of a cure but in the maternal
instinct, if it can be aroused."

Corentin paid each of the physicians forty francs in gold, and then
turned to the Police Commissioner, who had pulled him by the sleeve.

"The medical officer insists on it that death was natural," said this
functionary, "and I can hardly report the case, especially as the dead
man was old Canquoelle; he had his finger in too many pies, and we
should not be sure whom we might run foul of. Men like that die to
order very often----"

"And my name is Corentin," said Corentin in the man's ear.

The Commissioner started with surprise.

"So just make a note of all this," Corentin went on; "it will be very
useful by and by; send it up only as confidential information. The
crime cannot be proved, and I know that any inquiry would be checked
at the very outset.--But I will catch the criminals some day yet. I
will watch them and take them red-handed."

The police official bowed to Corentin and left.

"Monsieur," said Katt. "Mademoiselle does nothing but dance and sing.
What can I do?"

"Has any change occurred then?"

"She has understood that her father is just dead."

"Put her into a hackney coach, and simply take her to Charenton; I
will write a note to the Commissioner-General of Police to secure her
being suitably provided for.--The daughter in Charenton, the father in
a pauper's grave!" said Corentin--"Contenson, go and fetch the parish
hearse. And now, Don Carlos Herrera, you and I will fight it out!"

"Carlos?" said Contenson, "he is in Spain."

"He is in Paris," said Corentin positively. "There is a touch of
Spanish genius of the Philip II. type in all this; but I have pitfalls
for everybody, even for kings."

Five days after the nabob's disappearance, Madame du Val-Noble was
sitting by Esther's bedside weeping, for she felt herself on one of
the slopes down to poverty.

"If I only had at least a hundred louis a year! With that sum, my
dear, a woman can retire to some little town and find a husband----"

"I can get you as much as that," said Esther.

"How?" cried Madame du Val-Noble.

"Oh, in a very simple way. Listen. You must plan to kill yourself;
play your part well. Send for Asie and offer her ten thousand francs
for two black beads of very thin glass containing a poison which kills
you in a second. Bring them to me, and I will give you fifty thousand
francs for them."

"Why do you not ask her for them yourself?" said her friend.

"Asie would not sell them to me."

"They are not for yourself?" asked Madame du Val-Noble.


"You! who live in the midst of pleasure and luxury, in a house of your
own? And on the eve of an entertainment which will be the talk of
Paris for ten years--which is to cost Nucingen twenty thousand francs!
There are to be strawberries in mid-February, they say, asparagus,
grapes, melons!--and a thousand crowns' worth of flowers in the

"What are you talking about? There are a thousand crowns' worth of
roses on the stairs alone."

"And your gown is said to have cost ten thousand francs?"

"Yes, it is of Brussels point, and Delphine, his wife, is furious. But
I had a fancy to be disguised as a bride."

"Where are the ten thousand francs?" asked Madame du Val-Noble.

"It is all the ready money I have," said Esther, smiling. "Open my
table drawer; it is under the curl-papers."

"People who talk of dying never kill themselves," said Madame du Val-
Noble. "If it were to commit----"

"A crime? For shame!" said Esther, finishing her friend's thought, as
she hesitated. "Be quite easy, I have no intention of killing anybody.
I had a friend--a very happy woman; she is dead, I must follow her--
that is all."

"How foolish!"

"How can I help it? I promised her I would."

"I should let that bill go dishonored," said her friend, smiling.

"Do as I tell you, and go at once. I hear a carriage coming. It is
Nucingen, a man who will go mad with joy! Yes, he loves me!--Why do we
not love those who love us, for indeed they do all they can to please

"Ah, that is the question!" said Madame du Val-Noble. "It is the old
story of the herring, which is the most puzzling fish that swims."


"Well, no one could ever find out."

"Get along, my dear!--I must ask for your fifty thousand francs."

"Good-bye then."

For three days past, Esther's ways with the Baron de Nucingen had
completely changed. The monkey had become a cat, the cat had become a
woman. Esther poured out treasures of affection on the old man; she
was quite charming. Her way of addressing him, with a total absence of
mischief or bitterness, and all sorts of tender insinuation, had
carried conviction to the banker's slow wit; she called him Fritz, and
he believed that she loved him.

"My poor Fritz, I have tried you sorely," said she. "I have teased you
shamefully. Your patience has been sublime. You loved me, I see, and I
will reward you. I like you now, I do not know how it is, but I should
prefer you to a young man. It is the result of experience perhaps.--In
the long run we discover at last that pleasure is the coin of the
soul; and it is not more flattering to be loved for the sake of
pleasure than it is to be loved for the sake of money.

"Besides, young men are too selfish; they think more of themselves
than of us; while you, now, think only of me. I am all your life to
you. And I will take nothing more from you. I want to prove to you how
disinterested I am."

"Vy, I hafe gifen you notink," cried the Baron, enchanted. "I propose
to gife you to-morrow tirty tousant francs a year in a Government
bond. Dat is mein vedding gift."

Esther kissed the Baron so sweetly that he turned pale without any

"Oh!" cried she, "do not suppose that I am sweet to you only for your
thirty thousand francs! It is because--now--I love you, my good, fat

"Ach, mein Gott! Vy hafe you kept me vaiting? I might hafe been so
happy all dese tree monts."

"In three or in five per cents, my pet?" said Esther, passing her
fingers through Nucingen's hair, and arranging it in a fashion of her

"In trees--I hat a quantity."

So next morning the Baron brought the certificate of shares; he came
to breakfast with his dear little girl, and to take her orders for the
following evening, the famous Saturday, the great day!

"Here, my little vife, my only vife," said the banker gleefully, his
face radiant with happiness. "Here is enough money to pay for your
keep for de rest of your days."

Esther took the paper without the slightest excitement, folded it up,
and put it in her dressing-table drawer.

"So now you are quite happy, you monster of iniquity!" said she,
giving Nucingen a little slap on the cheek, "now that I have at last
accepted a present from you. I can no longer tell you home-truths, for
I share the fruit of what you call your labors. This is not a gift, my
poor old boy, it is restitution.--Come, do not put on your Bourse
face. You know that I love you."

"My lofely Esther, mein anchel of lofe," said the banker, "do not
speak to me like dat. I tell you, I should not care ven all de vorld
took me for a tief, if you should tink me ein honest man.--I lofe you
every day more and more."

"That is my intention," said Esther. "And I will never again say
anything to distress you, my pet elephant, for you are grown as
artless as a baby. Bless me, you old rascal, you have never known any
innocence; the allowance bestowed on you when you came into the world
was bound to come to the top some day; but it was buried so deep that
it is only now reappearing at the age of sixty-six. Fished up by
love's barbed hook.--This phenomenon is seen in old men.

"And this is why I have learned to love you, you are young--so young!
No one but I would ever have known this, Frederic--I alone. For you
were a banker at fifteen; even at college you must have lent your
school-fellows one marble on condition of their returning two."

Seeing him laugh, she sprang on to his knee.

"Well, you must do as you please! Bless me! plunder the men--go ahead,
and I will help. Men are not worth loving; Napoleon killed them off
like flies. Whether they pay taxes to you or to the Government, what
difference does it make to them? You don't make love over the budget,
and on my honor!--go ahead, I have thought it over, and you are right.
Shear the sheep! you will find it in the gospel according to Beranger.

"Now, kiss your Esther.--I say, you will give that poor Val-Noble all
the furniture in the Rue Taitbout? And to-morrow I wish you would give
her fifty thousand francs--it would look handsome, my duck. You see,
you killed Falleix; people are beginning to cry out upon you, and this
liberality will look Babylonian--all the women will talk about it! Oh!
there will be no one in Paris so grand, so noble as you; and as the
world is constituted, Falleix will be forgotten. So, after all, it
will be money deposited at interest."

"You are right, mein anchel; you know the vorld," he replied. "You
shall be mein adfiser."

"Well, you see," said Esther, "how I study my man's interest, his
position and honor.--Go at once and bring those fifty thousand

She wanted to get rid of Monsieur de Nucingen so as to get a
stockbroker to sell the bond that very afternoon.

"But vy dis minute?" asked he.

"Bless me, my sweetheart, you must give it to her in a little satin
box wrapped round a fan. You must say, 'Here, madame, is a fan which I
hope may be to your taste.'--You are supposed to be a Turcaret, and
you will become a Beaujon."

"Charming, charming!" cried the Baron. "I shall be so clever
henceforth.--Yes, I shall repeat your vorts."

Just as Esther had sat down, tired with the effort of playing her
part, Europe came in.

"Madame," said she, "here is a messenger sent from the Quai Malaquais
by Celestin, M. Lucien's servant----"

"Bring him in--no, I will go into the ante-room."

"He has a letter for you, madame, from Celestin."

Esther rushed into the ante-room, looked at the messenger, and saw
that he looked like the genuine thing.

"Tell HIM to come down," said Esther, in a feeble voice and dropping
into a chair after reading the letter. "Lucien means to kill himself,"
she added in a whisper to Europe. "No, take the letter up to him."

Carlos Herrera, still in his disguise as a bagman, came downstairs at
once, and keenly scrutinized the messenger on seeing a stranger in the

"You said there was no one here," said he in a whisper to Europe.

And with an excess of prudence, after looking at the messenger, he
went straight into the drawing-room. Trompe-la-Mort did not know that
for some time past the famous constable of the detective force who had
arrested him at the Maison Vauquer had a rival, who, it was supposed,
would replace him. This rival was the messenger.

"They are right," said the sham messenger to Contenson, who was
waiting for him in the street. "The man you describe is in the house;
but he is not a Spaniard, and I will burn my hand off if there is not
a bird for our net under that priest's gown."

"He is no more a priest than he is a Spaniard," said Contenson.

"I am sure of that," said the detective.

"Oh, if only we were right!" said Contenson.

Lucien had been away for two days, and advantage had been taken of his
absence to lay this snare, but he returned this evening, and the
courtesan's anxieties were allayed. Next morning, at the hour when
Esther, having taken a bath, was getting into bed again, Madame du
Val-Noble arrived.

"I have the two pills!" said her friend.

"Let me see," said Esther, raising herself with her pretty elbow
buried in a pillow trimmed with lace.

Madame du Val-Noble held out to her what looked like two black

The Baron had given Esther a pair of greyhounds of famous pedigree,
which will be always known by the name of the great contemporary poet
who made them fashionable; and Esther, proud of owning them, had
called them by the names of their parents, Romeo and Juliet. No need
here to describe the whiteness and grace of these beasts, trained for
the drawing-room, with manners suggestive of English propriety. Esther
called Romeo; Romeo ran up on legs so supple and thin, so strong and
sinewy, that they seemed like steel springs, and looked up at his
mistress. Esther, to attract his attention, pretended to throw one of
the pills.

"He is doomed by his nature to die thus," said she, as she threw the
pill, which Romeo crushed between his teeth.

The dog made no sound, he rolled over, and was stark dead. It was all
over while Esther spoke these words of epitaph.

"Good God!" shrieked Madame du Val-Noble.

"You have a cab waiting. Carry away the departed Romeo," said Esther.
"His death would make a commotion here. I have given him to you, and
you have lost him--advertise for him. Make haste; you will have your
fifty thousand francs this evening."

She spoke so calmly, so entirely with the cold indifference of a
courtesan, that Madame du Val-Noble exclaimed:

"You are the Queen of us all!"

"Come early, and look very well----"

At five o'clock Esther dressed herself as a bride. She put on her lace
dress over white satin, she had a white sash, white satin shoes, and a
scarf of English point lace over her beautiful shoulders. In her hair
she placed white camellia flowers, the simple ornament of an innocent
girl. On her bosom lay a pearl necklace worth thirty thousand francs,
a gift from Nucingen.

Though she was dressed by six, she refused to see anybody, even the
banker. Europe knew that Lucien was to be admitted to her room. Lucien
came at about seven, and Europe managed to get him up to her mistress
without anybody knowing of his arrival.

Lucien, as he looked at her, said to himself, "Why not go and live
with her at Rubempre, far from the world, and never see Paris again? I
have an earnest of five years of her life, and the dear creature is
one of those who never belie themselves! Where can I find such another
perfect masterpiece?"

"My dear, you whom I have made my God," said Esther, kneeling down on
a cushion in front of Lucien, "give me your blessing."

Lucien tried to raise her and kiss her, saying, "What is this jest, my
dear love?" And he would have put his arm round her, but she freed
herself with a gesture as much of respect as of horror.

"I am no longer worthy of you, Lucien," said she, letting the tears
rise to her eyes. "I implore you, give me your blessing, and swear to
me that you will found two beds at the Hotel-Dieu--for, as to prayers
in church, God will never forgive me unless I pray myself.

"I have loved you too well, my dear. Tell me that I made you happy,
and that you will sometimes think of me.--Tell me that!"

Lucien saw that Esther was solemnly in earnest, and he sat thinking.

"You mean to kill yourself," said he at last, in a tone of voice that
revealed deep reflection.

"No," said she. "But to-day, my dear, the woman dies, the pure,
chaste, and loving woman who once was yours.--And I am very much
afraid that I shall die of grief."

"Poor child," said Lucien, "wait! I have worked hard these two days. I
have succeeded in seeing Clotilde----"

"Always Clotilde!" cried Esther, in a tone of concentrated rage.

"Yes," said he, "we have written to each other.--On Tuesday morning
she is to set out for Italy, but I shall meet her on the road for an
interview at Fontainebleau."

"Bless me! what is it that you men want for wives? Wooden laths?"
cried poor Esther. "If I had seven or eight millions, would you not
marry me--come now?"

"Child! I was going to say that if all is over for me, I will have no
wife but you."

Esther bent her head to hide her sudden pallor and the tears she wiped

"You love me?" said she, looking at Lucien with the deepest
melancholy. "Well, that is my sufficient blessing.--Do not compromise
yourself. Go away by the side door, and come in to the drawing-room
through the ante-room. Kiss me on the forehead."

She threw her arms round Lucien, clasped him to her heart with frenzy,
and said again:

"Go, only go--or I must live."

When the doomed woman appeared in the drawing-room, there was a cry of
admiration. Esther's eyes expressed infinitude in which the soul sank
as it looked into them. Her blue-black and beautiful hair set off the
camellias. In short, this exquisite creature achieved all the effects
she had intended. She had no rival. She looked like the supreme
expression of that unbridled luxury which surrounded her in every
form. Then she was brilliantly witty. She ruled the orgy with the
cold, calm power that Habeneck displays when conducting at the
Conservatoire, at those concerts where the first musicians in Europe
rise to the sublime in interpreting Mozart and Beethoven.

But she observed with terror that Nucingen ate little, drank nothing,
and was quite the master of the house.

By midnight everybody was crazy. The glasses were broken that they
might never be used again; two of the Chinese curtains were torn;
Bixiou was drunk, for the second time in his life. No one could keep
his feet, the women were asleep on the sofas, and the guests were
incapable of carrying out the practical joke they had planned of
escorting Esther and Nucingen to the bedroom, standing in two lines
with candles in their hands, and singing Buona sera from the Barber of

Nucingen simply gave Esther his hand. Bixiou, who saw them, though
tipsy, was still able to say, like Rivarol, on the occasion of the Duc
de Richelieu's last marriage, "The police must be warned; there is
mischief brewing here."

The jester thought he was jesting; he was a prophet.

Monsieur de Nucingen did not go home till Monday at about noon. But at
one o'clock his broker informed him that Mademoiselle Esther van
Bogseck had sold the bond bearing thirty thousand francs interest on
Friday last, and had just received the money.

"But, Monsieur le Baron, Derville's head-clerk called on me just as I
was settling this transfer; and after seeing Mademoiselle Esther's
real names, he told me she had come into a fortune of seven millions."


"Yes, she is the only heir to the old bill-discounter Gobseck.--
Derville will verify the facts. If your mistress' mother was the
handsome Dutch woman, la Belle Hollandaise, as they called her, she
comes in for----"

"I know dat she is," cried the banker. "She tolt me all her life. I
shall write ein vort to Derville."

The Baron at down at his desk, wrote a line to Derville, and sent it
by one of his servants. Then, after going to the Bourse, he went back
to Esther's house at about three o'clock.

"Madame forbade our waking her on any pretence whatever. She is in bed

"Ach der Teufel!" said the Baron. "But, Europe, she shall not be angry
to be tolt that she is fery, fery rich. She shall inherit seven
millions. Old Gobseck is deat, and your mis'ess is his sole heir, for
her moter vas Gobseck's own niece; and besides, he shall hafe left a
vill. I could never hafe tought that a millionaire like dat man should
hafe left Esther in misery!"

"Ah, ha! Then your reign is over, old pantaloon!" said Europe, looking
at the Baron with an effrontery worthy of one of Moliere's waiting-
maids. "Shooh! you old Alsatian crow! She loves you as we love the
plague! Heavens above us! Millions!--Why, she may marry her lover;
won't she be glad!"

And Prudence Servien left the Baron simply thunder-stricken, to be the
first to announce to her mistress this great stroke of luck. The old
man, intoxicated with superhuman enjoyment, and believing himself
happy, had just received a cold shower-bath on his passion at the
moment when it had risen to the intensest white heat.

"She vas deceiving me!" cried he, with tears in his eyes. "Yes, she
vas cheating me. Oh, Esther, my life,! Vas a fool hafe I been! Can
such flowers ever bloom for de old men! I can buy all vat I vill
except only yout!--Ach Gott, ach Gott! Vat shall I do! Vat shall
become of me!--She is right, dat cruel Europe. Esther, if she is rich,
shall not be for me. Shall I go hank myself? Vat is life midout de
divine flame of joy dat I have known? Mein Gott, mein Gott!"

The old man snatched off the false hair he had combed in with his gray
hairs these three months past.

A piercing shriek from Europe made Nucingen quail to his very bowels.
The poor banker rose and walked upstairs on legs that were drunk with
the bowl of disenchantment he had just swallowed to the dregs, for
nothing is more intoxicating than the wine of disaster.

At the door of her room he could see Esther stiff on her bed, blue
with poison--dead!

He went up to the bed and dropped on his knees.

"You are right! She tolt me so!--She is dead--of me----"

Paccard, Asie, every one hurried in. It was a spectacle, a shock, but
not despair. Every one had their doubts. The Baron was a banker again.
A suspicion crossed his mind, and he was so imprudent as to ask what
had become of the seven hundred and fifty thousand francs, the price
of the bond. Paccard, Asie, and Europe looked at each other so
strangely that Monsieur de Nucingen left the house at once, believing
that robbery and murder had been committed. Europe, detecting a packet
of soft consistency, betraying the contents to be banknotes, under her
mistress' pillow, proceeded at once to "lay her out," as she said.

"Go and tell monsieur, Asie!--Oh, to die before she knew that she had
seven millions! Gobseck was poor madame's uncle!" said she.

Europe's stratagem was understood by Paccard. As soon as Asie's back
was turned, Europe opened the packet, on which the hapless courtesan
had written: "To be delivered to Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre."

Seven hundred and fifty thousand-franc notes shone in the eyes of
Prudence Servien, who exclaimed:

"Won't we be happy and honest for the rest of our lives!"

Paccard made no objection. His instincts as a thief were stronger than
his attachment to Trompe-la-Mort.

"Durut is dead," he said at length; "my shoulder is still a proof
before letters. Let us be off together; divide the money, so as not to
have all our eggs in one basket, and then get married."

"But where can we hide?" said Prudence.

"In Paris," replied Paccard.

Prudence and Paccard went off at once, with the promptitude of two
honest folks transformed into robbers.

"My child," said Carlos to Asie, as soon as she had said three words,
"find some letter of Esther's while I write a formal will, and then
take the copy and the letter to Girard; but he must be quick. The will
must be under Esther's pillow before the lawyers affix the seals

And he wrote out the following will:--

"Never having loved any one on earth but Monsieur Lucien Chardon
de Rubempre, and being resolved to end my life rather than relapse
into vice and the life of infamy from which he rescued me, I give
and bequeath to the said Lucien Chardon de Rubempre all I may
possess at the time of my decease, on condition of his founding a
mass in perpetuity in the parish church of Saint-Roch for the
repose of her who gave him her all, to her last thought.


"That is quite in her style," thought Trompe-la-Mort.

By seven in the evening this document, written and sealed, was placed
by Asie under Esther's bolster.

"Jacques," said she, flying upstairs again, "just as I came out of the
room justice marched in----"

"The justice of the peace you mean?"

"No, my son. The justice of the peace was there, but he had gendarmes
with him. The public prosecutor and the examining judge are there too,
and the doors are guarded."

"This death has made a stir very quickly," remarked Jacques Collin.

"Ay, and Paccard and Europe have vanished; I am afraid they may have
scared away the seven hundred and fifty thousand francs," said Asie.

"The low villains!" said Collin. "They have done for us by their
swindling game."

Human justice, and Paris justice, that is to say, the most suspicious,
keenest, cleverest, and omniscient type of justice--too clever,
indeed, for it insists on interpreting the law at every turn--was at
last on the point of laying its hand on the agents of this horrible

The Baron of Nucingen, on recognizing the evidence of poison, and
failing to find his seven hundred and fifty thousand francs, imagined
that one of two persons whom he greatly disliked--either Paccard or
Europe--was guilty of the crime. In his first impulse of rage he flew
to the prefecture of police. This was a stroke of a bell that called
up all Corentin's men. The officials of the prefecture, the legal
profession, the chief of the police, the justice of the peace, the
examining judge,--all were astir. By nine in the evening three medical
men were called in to perform an autopsy on poor Esther, and inquiries
were set on foot.

Trompe-la-Mort, warned by Asie, exclaimed:

"No one knows that I am here; I may take an airing." He pulled himself
up by the skylight of his garret, and with marvelous agility was
standing in an instant on the roof, whence he surveyed the
surroundings with the coolness of a tiler.

"Good!" said he, discerning a garden five houses off in the Rue de
Provence, "that will just do for me."

"You are paid out, Trompe-la-Mort," said Contenson, suddenly emerging
from behind a stack of chimneys. "You may explain to Monsieur Camusot
what mass you were performing on the roof, Monsieur l'Abbe, and, above
all, why you were escaping----"

"I have enemies in Spain," said Carlos Herrera.

"We can go there by way of your attic," said Contenson.

The sham Spaniard pretended to yield; but, having set his back and
feet across the opening of the skylight, he gripped Contenson and
flung him off with such violence that the spy fell in the gutter of
the Rue Saint-Georges.

Contenson was dead on his field of honor; Jacques Collin quietly
dropped into the room again and went to bed.

"Give me something that will make me very sick without killing me,"
said he to Asie; "for I must be at death's door, to avoid answering
inquisitive persons. I have just got rid of a man in the most natural
way, who might have unmasked me."

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