Part 7 out of 10
pretext for the seizure."
"In my opinion," said the countess, "the king's servants must have a
vivid imagination to persuade themselves they were dealing with a
seditious publication. But that only proves the strength of the
underground power which is thwarting all your good intentions in favor
of Monsieur Thuillier."
"Madame," said la Peyrade, "do you know our secret enemies?"
"Perhaps I do," replied the countess, with another smile.
"May I dare to utter a suspicion, madame?" said la Peyrade, with some
"Yes, say what you think," replied Madame de Godollo. "I shall not
blame you if you guess right."
"Well, madame, our enemies, Thuillier's and mine, are--a woman."
"Supposing that is so," said the countess; "do you know how many lines
Richelieu required from a man's hand in order to hang him?"
"Four," replied la Peyrade.
"You can imagine, then, that a pamphlet of two hundred pages might
afford a--slightly intriguing woman sufficient ground for
"I see it all, madame, I understand it!" cried la Peyrade, with
animation. "I believe that woman to be one of the elite of her sex,
with as much mind and malice as Richelieu! Adorable magician! it is
she who has set in motion the police and the gendarmes; but, more than
that, it is she who withholds that cross the ministers were about to
"If that be so," said the countess, "why struggle against her?"
"Ah! I struggle no longer," said la Peyrade. Then, with an assumed air
of contrition, he added, "You must, indeed, HATE me, madame."
"Not quite as much as you may think," replied the countess; "but,
after all, suppose that I do hate you?"
"Ah! madame," cried la Peyrade, ardently, "I should then be the
happiest of unhappy men; for that hatred would seem to me sweeter and
more precious than your indifference. But you do not hate me; why
should you feel to me that most blessed feminine sentiment which
Scribe has depicted with such delicacy and wit?"
Madame de Godollo did not answer immediately. She lowered her eyelids,
and the deeper breathing of her bosom gave to her voice when she did
speak a tremulous tone:--
"The hatred of a woman!" she said. "Is a man of your stoicism able to
"Ah! yes, madame," replied la Peyrade, "I do indeed perceive it, but
not to revolt against it; on the contrary, I bless the harshness that
deigns to hurt me. Now that I know my beautiful and avowed enemy, I
shall not despair of touching her heart; for never again will I follow
any road but the one that she points out to me, never will I march
under any banner but hers. I shall wait--for her inspiration, to
think; for her will, to will; for her commands, to act. In all things
I will be her auxiliary,--more than that, her slave; and if she still
repulses me with that dainty foot, that snowy hand, I will bear it
resignedly, asking, in return for such obedience one only favor,--that
of kissing the foot that spurns me, of bathing with tears the hand
that threatens me."
During this long cry of the excited heart, which the joy of triumph
wrung from a nature so nervous and impressionable as that of the
Provencal, he had slidden from his chair, and now knelt with one knee
on the ground beside the countess, in the conventional attitude of the
stage, which is, however, much more common in real life than people
"Rise, monsieur," said the countess, "and be so good as to answer me."
Then, giving him a questioning look from beneath her beautiful
frowning brows, she continued: "Have you well-weighed the outcome of
the words you have just uttered? Have you measured the full extent of
your pledge, and its depth? With your hand on your heart and on your
conscience, are you a man to fulfil those words? Or are you one of the
falsely humble and perfidious men who throw themselves at our feet
only to make us lose the balance of our will and our reason?"
"I!" exclaimed la Peyrade; "never can I react against the fascination
you have wielded over me from the moment of our first interview! Ah!
madame, the more I have resisted, the more I have struggled, the more
you ought to trust in my sincerity and its tardy expression. What I
have said, I think; that which I think aloud to-day I have thought in
my soul since the hour when I first had the honor of admittance to
you; and the many days I have passed in struggling against this
allurement have ended in giving me a firm and deliberate will, which
understands itself, and is not cast down by your severity."
"Severity?" said the countess; "possibly. But you ought to think of
the kindness too. Question yourself carefully. We foreign women do not
understand the careless ease with which a Frenchwoman enters upon a
solemn engagement. To us, our YES is sacred; our word is a bond. We do
and we will nothing by halves. The arms of my family bear a motto
which seems significant under the present circumstances,--'All or
Nothing'; that is saying much, and yet, perhaps, not enough."
"That is how I understand my pledge," replied la Peyrade; "and on
leaving this room my first step will be to break with that ignoble
past which for an instant I seemed to hold in the balance against the
intoxicating future you do not forbid me to expect."
"No," said the countess, "do it calmly and advisedly; I do not like
rash conduct; you will not please me by taking open steps. These
Thuilliers are not really bad at heart; they humiliated you without
knowing that they did so; their world is not yours. Is that their
fault? Loosen the tie between you, but do not violently break it. And,
above all, reflect. Your conversion to my beliefs is of recent date.
What man is certain of what his heart will say to him to-morrow?"
"Madame," said la Peyrade, "I am that man. We men of Southern blood do
not love as you say a Frenchwoman loves."
"But," said the countess, with a charming smile, "I thought it was
hatred we were talking of."
"Ah, madame," cried the barrister, "explained and understood as it has
been, that word is still a thing that hurts me. Tell me rather, not
that you love me, but that the words you deigned to say to me at our
first interview were indeed the expression of your thoughts."
"My friend," said the countess, dwelling on the word; "one of your
moralists has said: 'There are persons who say, THAT IS or THAT IS
NOT.' Do me the favor to count me among such persons."
So saying, she held out her hand to her suitor with a charming gesture
of modesty and grace. La Peyrade, quite beside himself, darted upon
that beautiful hand and devoured it with kisses.
"Enough, child!" said the countess, gently freeing her imprisoned
fingers; "adieu now, soon to meet again! Adieu! My headache, I think,
La Peyrade picked up his hat, and seemed about to rush from the
apartment; but at the door he turned and cast upon the handsome
creature a look of tenderness. The countess made him, with her head, a
graceful gesture of adieu; then, seeing that la Peyrade was inclined
to return to her, she raised her forefinger as a warning to control
himself and go.
La Peyrade turned and left the apartment.
HOW TO SHUT THE DOOR IN PEOPLE'S FACES
On the staircase la Peyrade stopped to exhale, if we may so express
it, the happiness of which his heart was full. The words of the
countess, the ingenious preparation she had made to put him on the
track of her sentiments, seemed to him the guarantee of her sincerity,
and he left her full of faith.
Possessed by that intoxication of happy persons which shows itself in
their gestures, their looks, their very gait, and sometimes in actions
not authorized by their common-sense, after pausing a moment, as we
have said, on the staircase, he ran up a few steps till he could see
the door of the Thuilliers' apartment.
"At last!" he cried, "fame, fortune, happiness have come to me; but,
above all, I can now give myself the joy of vengeance. After Dutocq
and Cerizet, I will crush YOU, vile bourgeois brood!"
So saying, he shook his fist at the innocent door. Then he turned and
ran out; the popular saying that the earth could not hold him, was
true at that moment of his being.
The next day, for he could not restrain any longer the tempest that
was swelling within him, la Peyrade went to see Thuillier in the
bitterest and most hostile of moods. What was therefore his amazement
when, before he had time to put himself on guard and stop the
demonstration of union and oblivion, Thuillier flung himself into his
"My friend," cried the municipal councillor, as he loosened his clasp,
"my political fortune is made; this morning all the newspapers,
without exception, have spoken of the seizure of my pamphlet; and you
ought to see how the opposition sheets have mauled the government."
"Simple enough," said la Peyrade, not moved by this enthusiasm; "you
are a topic for them, that's all. But this does not alter the
situation; the prosecution will be only the more determined to have
"Well, then," said Thuillier, proudly raising his head, "I will go to
prison, like Beranger, like Lamennais, like Armand Carrel."
"My good fellow, persecution is charming at a distance; but when you
hear the big bolts run upon you, you may be sure you won't like it as
"But," objected Thuillier, "prisoners condemned for political offences
are always allowed to do their time in hospital if they like. Besides,
I'm not yet convicted. You said yourself you expected to get me
"Yes, but since then I have heard things which make that result very
doubtful; the same hand that withheld your cross has seized your
pamphlet; you are being murdered with premeditation."
"If you know who that dangerous enemy is," said Thuillier, "you can't
refuse to point him out to me."
"I don't know him," replied la Peyrade; "I only suspect him. This is
what you get by playing too shrewd a game."
"Playing a shrewd game!" said Thuillier, with the curiosity of a man
who is perfectly aware that he has nothing of that kind on his
"Yes," said la Peyrade, "you made a sort of decoy of Celeste to
attract young bloods to your salon. All the world has not the
forbearance of Monsieur Godeschal, who forgave his rejection and
generously managed that affair about the house."
"Explain yourself better," said Thuillier, "for I don't see what you
"Nothing is easier to understand. Without counting me, how many
suitors have you had for Mademoiselle Colleville? Godeschal, Minard
junior, Phellion junior, Olivier Vinet, the substitute judge,--all men
who have been sent about their business, as I am."
"Olivier Vinet, the substitute judge!" cried Thuillier, struck with a
flash of light. "Of course; the blow must have come from him. His
father, they say, has a long arm. But it can't be truly said that we
sent him about his business,--to use your expression, which strikes me
as indecorous,--for he never came to the house but once, and made no
offer; neither did Minard junior or Phellion junior, for that matter.
Godeschal is the only one who risked a direct proposal, and he was
refused at once, before he dipped his beak in the water."
"It is always so!" said la Peyrade, still looking for a ground of
quarrel. "Straightforward and outspoken persons are always those that
sly men boast of fooling."
"Ah ca! what's all this?" said Thuillier; "what are you insinuating?
Didn't you settle everything with Brigitte the other day? You take a
pretty time to come and talk to me about your love-affairs, when the
sword of justice is hanging over my head."
"Oh!" said la Peyrade, ironically; "so now you are going to make the
most of your interesting position of accused person! I knew very well
how it would be; I was certain that as soon as your pamphlet appeared
the old cry of not getting what you expected out of me would come up."
"Parbleu! your pamphlet!" cried Thuillier. "I think you are a fine
fellow to boast of that when, on the contrary, it has caused the most
"Deplorable? how so? you have just said your political fortune was
"Well, truly, my dear Theodose," said Thuillier, with feeling, "I
should never have thought that you would choose the hour of adversity
to come and put your pistol at our throats and make me the object of
your sneers and innuendoes."
"Well done!" said la Peyrade; "now it is the hour of adversity! A
minute ago you were flinging yourself into my arms as a man to whom
some signal piece of luck had happened. You ought really to choose
decidedly between being a man who needs pity and a glorious victor."
"It is all very well to be witty," returned Thuillier; "but you can't
controvert what I say. I am logical, if I am not brilliant. It is very
natural that I should console myself by seeing that public opinion
decides in my favor, and by reading in its organs the most honorable
assurances of sympathy; but do you suppose I wouldn't rather that
things had taken their natural course? Besides, when I see myself the
object of unworthy vengeance on the part of persons as influential as
the Vinets, how can I help measuring the extent of the dangers to
which I am exposed?"
"Well," said la Peyrade, with pitiless persistency, "I see that you
prefer to play the part of Jeremiah."
"Yes," said Thuillier, in a solemn tone. "Jeremiah laments over a
friendship I did think true and devoted, but which I find has only
sarcasms to give me when I looked for services."
"What services?" asked la Peyrade. "Did you not tell me positively, no
later than yesterday, that you would not accept my help under any form
whatever? I offered to plead your case, and you answered that you
would take a better lawyer."
"Yes; in the first shock of surprise at such an unexpected blow, I did
say that foolish thing; but, on reflection, who can explain as well as
you can the intention of the words you wrote with your own pen?
Yesterday I was almost out of my mind; but you, with your wounded
self-love, which can't forgive a momentary impatience, you are very
caustic and cruel."
"So," said la Peyrade, "you formally request me to defend you before
"Yes, my dear fellow; and I don't know any other hands in which I
could better place my case. I should have to pay a monstrous sum to
some great legal luminary, and he wouldn't defend me as ably as you."
"Well, I refuse. Roles have changed, as you see, diametrically.
Yesterday, I thought, as you do, that I was the man to defend you.
To-day, I see that you had better take the legal luminary, because,
with Vinet's antagonism against you the affair is taking such
proportions that whoever defends it assumes a fearful responsibility."
"I understand," said Thuillier, sarcastically. "Monsieur has his eye
on the magistracy, and he doesn't want to quarrel with a man who is
already talked of for Keeper of the Seals. It is prudent, but I don't
know that it is going to help on your marriage."
"You mean," said la Peyrade, seizing the ball in its bound, "that to
get you out of the claws of that jury is a thirteenth labor of
Hercules, imposed upon me to earn the hand of Mademoiselle Colleville?
I expected that demands would multiply in proportion to the proofs of
my devotion. But that is the very thing that has worn me out, and I
have come here to-day to put an end to this slave labor by giving back
to you your pledges. You may dispose of Celeste's hand; for my part, I
am no longer a suitor for it."
The unexpectedness and squareness of this declaration left Thuillier
without words or voice, all the more because at this moment entered
Brigitte. The temper of the old maid had also greatly moderated since
the previous evening, and her greeting was full of the most amicable
"Ah! so here you are, you good old barrister," she said.
"Mademoiselle, your servant," he replied, gravely.
"Well," she continued, paying no attention to the stiffness of his
manner, "the government has got itself into a pretty mess by seizing
your pamphlet. You ought to see how the morning papers lash it! Here,"
she added, giving Thuillier a small sheet printed on sugar-paper, in
coarse type, and almost illegible,--"here's another, you didn't read;
the porter has just brought it up. It is a paper from our old quarter,
'L'Echo de la Bievre.' I don't know, gentlemen, if you'll be of my
opinion, but I think nothing could be better written. It is droll,
though, how inattentive these journalists are! most of them write your
name without the H; I think you ought to complain of it."
Thuillier took the paper, and read the article inspired to the
reviewer of the tanner's organ by stomach gratitude. Never in her life
had Brigitte paid the slightest attention to a newspaper, except to
know if it was the right size for the packages she wrapped up in it;
but now, suddenly, converted to a worship of the press by the ardor of
her sisterly love, she stood behind Thuillier and re-read, over his
shoulder, the more striking passages of the page she thought so
eloquent, pointing her finger to them.
"Yes," said Thuillier, folding up the paper, "that's warm, and very
flattering to me. But here's another matter! Monsieur has come to tell
me that he refuses to plead for me, and renounces all claim to
"That is to say," said Brigitte, "he renounces her if, after having
pleaded, the marriage does not take place 'subito.' Well, poor fellow,
I think that's a reasonable demand. When he has done that for us there
ought to be no further delay; and whether Mademoiselle Celeste likes
it or not, she must accept him, because, you know, there's an end to
"Do you hear that, my good fellow?" said la Peyrade, seizing upon
Brigitte's speech. "When I have pleaded, the marriage is to take
place. Your sister is frankness itself; she, at least, doesn't
"Diplomacy!" echoed Brigitte. "I'd like to see myself creeping
underground in matters. I say things as I think them. The workman has
worked, and he ought to have his pay."
"Do be silent," cried Thuillier, stamping his foot; "you don't say a
word that doesn't turn the knife in the wound."
"The knife in the wound?" said Brigitte, inquiringly. "Ah ca! are you
"I told you," said Thuillier, "that la Peyrade had returned our
promises; and the reason he gives is that we are asking him another
service for Celeste's hand. He thinks he has done us enough without
"He has done us some services, no doubt," said Brigitte; "but it seems
to me that we have not been ungrateful to him. Besides, it was he who
made the blunder, and I think it rather odd he should now wish to
leave us in the lurch."
"Your reasoning, mademoiselle," said la Peyrade, "might have some
appearance of justice if I were the only barrister in Paris; but as
the streets are black with them, and as, only yesterday, Thuillier
himself spoke of engaging some more important lawyer than myself, I
have not the slightest scruple in refusing to defend him. Now, as to
the marriage, in order that it may not be made the object of another
brutal and forcible demand upon me, I here renounce it in the most
formal manner, and nothing now prevents Mademoiselle Colleville from
accepting Monsieur Felix Phellion and all his advantages."
"As you please, my dear monsieur," said Brigitte, "if that's your last
word. We shall not be at a loss to find a husband for Celeste,--Felix
Phellion or another. But you must permit me to tell you that the
reason you give is not the true one. We can't go faster than the
fiddles. If the marriage were settled to-day, there are the banns to
publish; you have sense enough to know that Monsieur le maire can't
marry you before the formalities are complied with, and before then
Thuillier's case will have been tried."
"Yes," said la Peyrade, "and if I lose the case it will be I who have
sent him to prison,--just as yesterday it was I who brought about the
"As for that, it seems to me that if you had written nothing the
police would have found nothing to bite."
"My dear Brigitte," said Thuillier, seeing la Peyrade shrug his
shoulders, "your argument is vicious in the sense that the writing was
not incriminating on any side. It is not la Peyrade's fault if persons
of high station have organized a persecution against me. You remember
that little substitute, Monsieur Olivier Vinet, whom Cardot brought to
one of our receptions. It seems that he and his father are furious
that we didn't want him for Celeste, and they've sworn my
"Well, why did we refuse him," said Brigitte, "if it wasn't for the
fine eyes of monsieur here? For, after all, a substitute in Paris is a
very suitable match."
"No doubt," said la Peyrade, nonchalantly. "Only, he did not happen to
bring you a million."
"Ah!" cried Brigitte, firing up. "If you are going to talk any more
about that house you helped us to buy, I shall tell you plainly that
if you had had the money to trick the notary you never would have come
after us. You needn't think I have been altogether your dupe. You
spoke just now of a bargain, but you proposed that bargain yourself.
'Give me Celeste and I'll get you that house,'--that's what you said
to us in so many words. Besides which, we had to pay large sums on
which we never counted."
"Come, come, Brigitte," said Thuillier, "you are making a great deal
out of nothing."
"Nothing! nothing!" exclaimed Brigitte. "Did we, or did we not, have
to pay much more than we expected?"
"My dear Thuillier," said la Peyrade, "I think, with you, that the
matter is now settled, and it can only be embittered by discussing it
further. My course was decided on before I came here; all that I have
now heard can only confirm it. I shall not be the husband of Celeste,
but you and I can remain good friends."
He rose to leave the room.
"One moment, monsieur," said Brigitte, barring his way; "there is one
matter which I do not consider settled; and now that we are no longer
to have interests in common, I should not be sorry if you would be so
good as to tell me what has become of a sum of ten thousand francs
which Thuillier gave you to bribe those rascally government offices in
order to get the cross we have never got."
"Brigitte!" cried Thuillier, in anguish, "you have a devil of a
tongue! You ought to be silent about that; I told it to you in a
moment of ill-temper, and you promised me faithfully never to open
your lips about it to any one, no matter who."
"So I did; but," replied the implacable Brigitte, "we are parting.
When people part they settle up; they pay their debts. Ten thousand
francs! For my part, I thought the cross itself dear at that; but for
a cross that has melted away, monsieur himself will allow the price is
"Come, la Peyrade, my friend, don't listen to her," said Thuillier,
going up to the barrister, who was pale with anger. "The affection she
has for me blinds her; I know very well what government offices are,
and I shouldn't be surprised if you had had to pay out money of your
"Monsieur," said la Peyrade, "I am, unfortunately, not in a position
to return to you, instantly, that money, an accounting for which is so
insolently demanded. Grant me a short delay; and have the goodness to
accept my note, which I am ready to sign, if that will give you
"To the devil with your note!" cried Thuillier; "you owe me nothing;
on the contrary, it is we who owe you; for Cardot told me I ought to
give you at least ten thousand francs for enabling us to buy this
"Cardot! Cardot!" said Brigitte; "he is very generous with other
people's money. We were giving monsieur Celeste, and that's a good
deal more than ten thousand francs."
La Peyrade was too great a comedian not to turn the humiliation he had
just endured into a scene finale. With tears in his voice, which
presently fell from his eyes, he turned to Brigitte.
"Mademoiselle," he said, "when I had the honor to be received by you I
was poor; you long saw me suffering and ill at ease, knowing, alas!
too well, the indignities that poverty must bear. From the day that I
was able to give you a fortune which I never thought of for myself I
have felt, it is true, more assurance; and your own kindness
encouraged me to rise out of my timidity and depression. To-day, when
I, by frank and loyal conduct, release you from anxiety,--for, if you
chose to be honest, you would acknowledge that you have been thinking
of another husband for Celeste,--we might still remain friends, even
though I renounce a marriage which my delicacy forbids me to pursue.
But you have not chosen to restrain yourself with the limits of social
politeness, of which you have a model beside you in Madame de Godollo,
who, I am persuaded, although she is not at all friendly to me, would
never have approved of your odious behavior. Thank Heaven! I have in
my heart some religious sentiment at least; the Gospel is not to me a
mere dead-letter, and--understand me well, mademoiselle--I FORGIVE
YOU. It is not to Thuillier, who would refuse them, but to you that I
shall, before long, pay the ten thousand francs which you insinuate I
have applied to my own purposes. If, by the time they are returned to
you, you feel regret for your unjust suspicions, and are unwilling to
accept the money, I request that you will turn it over to the bureau
of Benevolence to the poor--"
"To the bureau of Benevolence!" cried Brigitte, interrupting him. "No,
I thank you! the idea of all that money being distributed among a
crowd of do-nothings and devotes, who'll spend it in junketing! I've
been poor too, my lad; I made bags for the money of others long before
I had any money of my own; I have some now, and I take care of it. So,
whenever you will, I am ready to receive that ten thousand francs and
keep it. If you didn't know how to do what you undertook to do, and
spent that money in trying to put salt on a sparrow's tail, so much
the worse for you."
Seeing that he had missed his effect, and had made not the slightest
impression on Brigitte's granite, la Peyrade cast a disdainful look
upon her and left the room majestically. As he did so he noticed a
movement made by Thuillier to follow him, and also the imperious
gesture of Brigitte, always queen and mistress, which nailed her
brother to his chair.
At the moment when la Peyrade was preparing to lay at the feet of the
countess the liberty he had recovered in so brutal a manner, he
received a perfumed note, which made his heart beat, for on the seal
was that momentous "All or Nothing" which she had given him as the
rule of the relation now to be inaugurated between them. The contents
of the note were as follows:--
Dear Monsieur,--I have heard of the step you have taken; thank
you! But I must now prepare to take my own. I cannot, as you may
well think, continue to live in this house, and among these people
who are so little of our own class and with whom we have nothing
in common. To arrange this transaction, and to avoid explanations
of the fact that the entresol welcomes the voluntary exile from
the first-floor, I need to-day and to-morrow to myself. Do not
therefore come to see me until the day after. By that time I shall
have executed Brigitte, as they say at the Bourse, and have much
to tell you.
Torna de Godollo.
That "Wholly thine" in Latin seemed charming to la Peyrade, who was
not, however, astonished, for Latin is a second national language to
the Hungarians. The two days' waiting to which he was thus condemned
only fanned the flame of the ardent passion which possessed him, and
on the third day when reached the house by the Madeleine his love had
risen to a degree of incandescence of which only a few days earlier he
would scarcely have supposed himself capable.
This time the porter's wife perceived him; but he was now quite
indifferent as to whether or not the object of his visit should be
known. The ice was broken, his happiness was soon to be official, and
he was more disposed to cry it aloud in the streets than to make a
mystery of it.
Running lightly up the stairs, he prepared to ring the bell, when, on
putting out his hand to reach the silken bell-cord he perceived that
the bell-cord had disappeared. La Peyrade's first thought was that one
of those serious illnesses which make all noises intolerable to a
patient would explain its absence; but with the thought came other
observations that weakened it, and which, moreover, were not in
From the vestibule to the countess's door a stair carpet, held at each
step by a brass rod, made a soft ascent to the feet of visitors; this,
too, had been removed. A screen-door covered with green velvet and
studded with brass nails had hitherto protected the entrance to the
apartment; of that no sign, except the injury to the wall done by the
workmen in taking it away. For a moment the barrister thought, in his
agitation, that he must have mistaken the floor, but, casting his eye
over the baluster he saw that he had not passed the entresol. Madame
de Godollo must, therefore, be in the act of moving away.
He then resigned himself to make known his presence at the great
lady's door as he would have done at that of a grisette. He rapped
with his knuckles, but a hollow sonority revealing the void,
"intonuere cavernae," echoed beyond the door which he vainly appealed
to with his fist. He also perceived from beneath that door a ray of
vivid light, the sure sign of an uninhabited apartment where curtains
and carpets and furniture no longer dim the light or deaden sound.
Compelled to believe in a total removal, la Peyrade now supposed that
in the rupture with Brigitte, mentioned as probable by Madame de
Godollo, some brutal insolence of the old maid had necessitated this
abrupt departure. But why had he not been told of it? And what an
idea, to expose him to this ridiculous meeting with what the common
people call, in their picturesque language, "the wooden face"!
Before leaving the door finally, and as if some doubt still remained
in his mind, la Peyrade made a last and most thundering assault upon
"Who's knocking like that, as if they'd bring the house down?" said
the porter, attracted by the noise to the foot of the staircase.
"Doesn't Madame de Godollo still live here?" asked la Peyrade.
"Of course she doesn't live here now; she has moved away. If monsieur
had told me he was going to her apartment I would have spared him the
trouble of battering down the door."
"I knew that she was going to leave the apartment," said la Peyrade,
not wishing to seem ignorant of the project of departure, "but I had
no idea she was going so soon."
"I suppose it was something sudden," said the porter, "for she went
off early this morning with post-horses."
"Post-horses!" echoed la Peyrade, stupefied. "Then she has left
"That's to be supposed," said the porter; "people don't usually take
post-horses and a postilion to change from one quarter of Paris to
"And she did not tell you where she was going?"
"Ah! monsieur, what an idea! Do people account to us porters for what
"No, but her letters--those that come after her departure?"
"Her letters? I am ordered to deliver them to Monsieur le commandeur,
the little old gentlemen who came to see her so often; monsieur must
have met him."
"Yes, yes, certainly," said la Peyrade, keeping his presence of mind
in the midst of the successive shocks which came upon him,--"the
powered little man who was here every day."
"I couldn't say every day; but he came often. Well, I am told to give
the countess's letters to him."
"And for other persons of her acquaintance," said la Peyrade,
carelessly, "did she leave no message?"
"Very well," said la Peyrade, "good-morning." And he turned to go out.
"But I think," said the porter, "that Mademoiselle Thuillier knows
more about it than I do. Won't monsieur go up? She is at home; and so
is Monsieur Thuillier."
"No, never mind," said la Peyrade, "I only came to tell Madame de
Godollo about a commission she asked me to execute; I haven't time to
"Well, as I told you, she left with post-horses this morning. Two
hours earlier monsieur might still have found her; but now, with post-
horses, she must by this time have gone a good distance."
La Peyrade departed, with a sense of despair in his heart. Added to
the anxiety caused by this hasty departure, jealousy entered his soul,
and in this agonizing moment of disappointment the most distressing
explanations crowded on his mind.
Then, after further reflection, he said to himself:--
"These clever diplomatic women are often sent on secret missions which
require the most absolute silence, and extreme rapidity of movement."
But here a sudden revulsion of thought overcame him:--
"Suppose she were one of those intriguing adventurers whom foreign
governments employ as agents? Suppose the tale, more or less probable,
of that Russian princess forced to sell her furniture to Brigitte were
also that of this Hungarian countess? And yet," he continued, as his
brain made a third evolution in this frightful anarchy of ideas and
feelings, "her education, her manners, her language, all bespoke a
woman of the best position. Besides, if she were only a bird of
passage, why have given herself so much trouble to win me over?"
La Peyrade might have continued to plead thus for and against for a
long time had he not been suddenly grasped round the shoulders by a
strong arm and addressed in a well-known voice.
"Take care! my dear barrister; a frightful danger threatens you; you
are running right into it."
La Peyrade, thus arrested, looked round and found himself in the arms
The scene took place in front of a house which was being pulled down
at the corner of the rues Duphot and Saint-Honore. Posted on the
pavement of the other side of the street, Phellion, whose taste for
watching the process of building our readers may remember, had been
witnessing for the last fifteen minutes the drama of a wall about to
fall beneath the united efforts of a squadron of workmen. Watch in
hand, the great citizen was estimating the length of the resistance
which that mass of freestone would present to the destructive labor of
which it was the object. Precisely at the crucial moment of the
impending catastrophe la Peyrade, lost in the tumult of his thoughts,
was entering, heedless of the shouts addressed to him on all sides,
the radius within which the stones would fall. Seen by Phellion (who,
it must be said, would have done the same for a total stranger) la
Peyrade undoubtedly owed his life to him; for, at the moment when he
was violently flung back by the vigorous grasp of the worthy citizen,
the wall fell with the noise of a cannon-shot, and the stones rolled
in clouds of dust almost to his very feet.
"Are you blind and deaf?" said the workman whose business it was to
warn the passers, in a tone of amenity it is easy to imagine.
"Thank you, my dear friend," said la Peyrade, recalled to earth. "I
should certainly have been crushed like an idiot if it hadn't been for
And he pressed Phellion's hand.
"My reward," replied the latter, "lies in the satisfaction of knowing
that you are saved from an imminent peril. And I may say that that
satisfaction is mingled, for me, with a certain pride; for I was not
mistaken by a single second in the calculation which enabled me to
foresee the exact moment when that formidable mass would be displaced
from its centre of gravity. But what were you thinking of, my dear
monsieur? Probably of the plea you are about to make in the Thuillier
affair. The public prints have informed me of the danger of
prosecution by the authorities which hangs above the head of our
estimable friend. You have a noble cause to defend, monsieur.
Habituated as I am, through my labors as a member of the reading
committee of the Odeon, to judge of works of intellect, and with my
hand upon my conscience, I declare that after reading the incriminated
passages, I can find nothing in the tone of that pamphlet which
justifies the severe measures of which it is the object. Between
ourselves," added the great citizen, lowering his voice, "I think the
government has shown itself petty."
"So I think," said la Peyrade, "but I am not employed for the defence.
I have advised Thuillier to engage some noted lawyer."
"It may be good advice," said Phellion; "at any rate, it speaks well
for your modesty. Poor man! I went to him at once when the blow fell,
but I did not see him; I saw only Brigitte, who was having a
discussion with Madame de Godollo. There is a woman with strong
political views; it seems she predicted that the seizure would be
"Did you know that the countess had left Paris?" said la Peyrade,
rushing at the chance of speaking on the subject of his present
"Ah! left Paris, has she?" said Phellion. "Well, monsieur, I must tell
you that, although there was not much sympathy between us, I regard
her departure as a misfortune. She will leave a serious void in the
salon of our friends. I say this, because it is my belief, and I am
not in the habit of disguising my convictions."
"Yes," said la Peyrade, "she is certainly a very distinguished woman,
with whom in spite of her prejudice against me, I think I should have
come to an understanding. But this morning, without leaving any word
as to where she was going, she started suddenly with post-horses."
"Post-horses!" said Phellion. "I don't know whether you will agree
with me, monsieur, but I think that travelling by post is a most
agreeable method of conveyance. Certainly Louis XI., to whom we owe
the institution, had a fortunate inspiration in the matter; although,
on the other hand, his sanguinary and despotic government was not, to
my humble thinking, entirely devoid of reproach. Once only in my life
have I used that method of locomotion, and I can truly say I found it
far superior, in spite of its inferior relative rapidity, to the
headlong course of what in England are called RAILWAYS; where speed is
attained only at the price of safety."
La Peyrade paid but little attention to Phellion's phraseology. "Where
can she have gone?"--round that idea he dug and delved in every
direction, an occupation that would have made him indifferent to a far
more interesting topic. However, once started, like the locomotive he
objected to, the great citizen went on:--
"I made that journey at the period of Madame Phellion's last
confinement. She was in Perche, with her mother, when I learned that
serious complications were feared from the milk-fever. Overcome with
terror at the danger which threatened my wife, I went instantly to the
post-office to obtain a seat in the mail-coach, but all were taken; I
found they had been engaged for more than a week. Upon that, I came to
a decision; I went to the rue Pigalle, and, for a very large sum in
gold a post-chaise and three horses were placed at my disposal, when
unfortunately the formality of a passport, with which I had neglected
to supply myself, and without which, in virtue of the decrees of the
consulate of 17 Nivose, year VII., the post agents were not permitted
to deliver horses to travellers--"
The last few words were like a flash of light to la Peyrade, and
without waiting for the end of the postal odyssey of the great
citizen, he darted away in the direction of the rue Pigalle, before
Phellion, in the middle of his sentence, perceived his departure.
Reaching the Royal postal establishment, la Peyrade was puzzled as to
whom to address himself in order to obtain the information he wanted.
He began by explaining to the porter that he had a letter to send to a
lady of his acquaintance that morning by post, neglecting, very
thoughtlessly, to send him her address, and that he thought he might
discover it by means of the passport which she must have presented in
order to obtain horses.
"Was it a lady accompanied by a maid whom I took up on the boulevard
de la Madeleine?" asked a postilion sitting in the corner of the room
where la Peyrade was making his preliminary inquiry.
"Exactly," said la Peyrade, going eagerly up to the providential
being, and slipping a five-franc piece into his hand.
"Ah! well, she's a queer traveller!" said the man, "she told me to
take her to the Bois de Boulogne, and there she made me drive round
and round for an hour. After that, we came back to the Barriere de
l'Etoile, where she gave me a good 'pourboire' and got into a hackney
coach, telling me to take the travelling carriage back to the man who
lets such carriages in the Cour des Coches, Faubourg Saint-Honore."
"Give me the name of that man?" said la Peyrade, eagerly.
"Simonin," replied the postilion.
Furnished with that information la Peyrade resumed his course, and
fifteen minutes later he was questioning the livery-stable keeper; but
that individual knew only that a lady residing on the Boulevard de la
Madeleine had hired, without horses, a travelling-carriage for half a
day; that he had sent out the said carriage at nine that morning, and
it was brought back at twelve by a postilion of the Royal Post house.
"Never mind," thought la Peyrade, "I am certain now she has not left
Paris, and is not avoiding me. Most probably, she wants to break
utterly with the Thuilliers, and so has invented this journey. Fool
that I am! no doubt there's a letter waiting for me at home,
explaining the whole thing."
Worn out with emotion and fatigue, and in order to verify as quickly
as possible this new supposition, la Peyrade flung himself into a
street cab, and in less than a quarter of an hour, having promised the
driver a good pourboire, he was deposited at the house in the rue
Saint-Dominique d'Enfer. There he was compelled to endure still longer
the tortures of waiting. Since Brigitte's departure, the duty of the
porter, Coffinet, had been very negligently performed, and when la
Peyrade rushed to the lodge to inquire for his letter, which he
thought he saw in the case that belonged to him, the porter and his
wife were both absent and their door was locked. The wife was doing
some household work in the building, and Coffinet himself, taking
advantage of that circumstance, had allowed a friend to entice him
into a neighboring wine-shop, where, between two glasses, he was
supporting, against a republican who was talking disrespectfully
against it, the cause of the owners of property.
It was twenty minutes before the worthy porter, remembering the
"property" entrusted to his charge, decided to return to his post. It
is easy to imagine the reproaches with which la Peyrade overwhelmed
him. He excused himself by saying that he had gone to do a commission
for Mademoiselle, and that he couldn't be at the door and where his
masters chose to send him at the same time. At last, however, he gave
the lawyer a letter bearing the Paris postmark.
With his heart rather than his eyes la Peyrade recognized the
handwriting, and, turning over the missive, the arms and motto
confirmed the hope that he had reached the end of the cruellest
emotion he had ever in his life experienced. To read that letter
before that odious porter seemed to him a profanation. With a
refinement of feeling which all lovers will understand, he gave
himself the pleasure of pausing before his happiness; he would not
even unseal that blissful note until the moment when, with closed
doors and no interruptions to distract him, he could enjoy at his ease
the delicious sensation of which his heart had a foretaste.
Rushing up the staircase two steps at a time, the now joyous lover
committed the childish absurdity of locking himself in; then, having
settled himself at his ease before his desk, and having broken the
seal with religious care, he was forced to press his hand on his
heart, which seemed to burst from his bosom, before he could summon
calmness to read the following letter:--
Dear Monsieur,--I disappear forever, because my play is played
out. I thank you for having made it both attractive and easy. By
setting against you the Thuilliers and Collevilles (who are fully
informed of your sentiments towards them), and by relating in a
manner most mortifying to their bourgeois self-love the true
reason of your sudden and pitiless rupture with them, I am proud
and happy to believe that I have done you a signal service. The
girl does not love you, and you love nothing but the eyes of her
"dot"; I have therefore saved you both from a species of hell.
But, in exchange for the bride you have so curtly rejected,
another charming girl is proposed to you; she is richer and more
beautiful than Mademoiselle Colleville, and--to speak of myself--
more at liberty than
Your unworthy servant,
Torna "Comtesse de Godollo."
P.S. For further information apply, without delay, to Monsieur du
Portail, householder, rue Honore-Chevalier, near the rue de la
Cassette, quartier Saint-Sulpice, by whom you are expected.
When he had read this letter the advocate of the poor took his head in
his hands; he saw nothing, heard nothing, thought nothing; he was
Several days were necessary to la Peyrade before he could even begin
to recover from the crushing blow which had struck him down. The shock
was terrible. Coming out of that golden dream which had shown him a
perspective of the future in so smiling an aspect, he found himself
fooled under conditions most cruel to his self-love, and to his
pretensions to depth and cleverness; irrevocably parted from the
Thuilliers; saddled with a hopeless debt of twenty-five thousand
francs to Madame Lambert, together with another of ten thousand to
Brigitte, which his dignity required him to pay with the least delay
possible; and, worst of all,--to complete his humiliation and his
sense of failure,--he felt that he was not cured of the passionate
emotion he had felt for this woman, the author of his great disaster,
and the instrument of his ruin.
Either this Delilah was a very great lady, sufficiently high in
station to allow herself such compromising caprices,--but even so, she
would scarcely have cared to play the role of a coquette in a
vaudeville where he himself played the part of ninny,--OR she was some
noted adventuress who was in the pay of this du Portail and the agent
of his singular matrimonial designs. Evil life or evil heart, these
were the only two verdicts to be pronounced on this dangerous siren,
and in either case, it would seem, she was not very deserving of the
regrets of her victim; nevertheless, he was conscious of feeling them.
We must put ourselves in the place of this son of Provence, this
region of hot blood and ardent heads, who, for the first time in his
life finding himself face to face with jewelled love in laces,
believed he was to drink that passion from a wrought-gold cup. Just as
our minds on waking keep the impression of a vivid dream and continue
in love with what we know was but a shadow, la Peyrade had need of all
his mental energy to drive away the memory of that treacherous
countess. We might go further and say that he never ceased to long for
her, though he was careful to drape with an honest pretext the intense
desire that he had to find her. That desire he called curiosity, ardor
for revenge; and here follow the ingenious deductions which he drew
"Cerizet talked to me about a rich heiress; the countess, in her
letter, intimates that the whole intrigue she wound about me was to
lead to a rich marriage; rich marriages flung at a man's head are not
so plentiful that two such chances should come to me within a few
weeks; therefore the match offered by Cerizet and that proposed by the
countess must be the crazy girl they are so frantic to make me marry;
therefore Cerizet, being in the plot, must know the countess;
therefore, through him I shall get upon her traces. In any case, I am
sure of information about this extraordinary choice that has fallen
upon me; evidently, these people, whoever they are, who can pull the
wires of such puppets to reach their ends must be persons of
considerable position; therefore, I'll go and see Cerizet."
And he went to see Cerizet.
Since the dinner at the Rocher de Cancale, the pair had not met. Once
or twice la Peyrade had asked Dutocq at the Thuilliers' (where the
latter seldom went now, on account of the distance to their new abode)
what had become of his copying clerk.
"He never speaks of you," Dutocq had answered.
Hence it might be inferred that resentment, the "manet alta mente
repostum" was still living in the breast of the vindictive usurer. La
Peyrade, however, was not stopped by that consideration. After all, he
was not going to ask for anything; he went under the pretext of
renewing an affair in which Cerizet had taken part, and Cerizet never
took part in anything unless he had a personal interest in it. The
chances were, therefore, that he would be received with affectionate
eagerness rather than unpleasant acerbity. Moreover, he decided to go
and see the copying clerk at Dutocq's office; it would look, he
thought, less like a visit than if he went to his den in the rue des
Poules. It was nearly two o'clock when la Peyrade made his entrance
into the precincts of the justice-of-peace of the 12th arrondissement.
He crossed the first room, in which were a crowd of persons whom civil
suits of one kind or another summoned before the magistrate. Without
pausing in that waiting-room, la Peyrade pushed on to the office
adjoining that of Dutocq. There he found Cerizet at a shabby desk of
blackened wood, at which another clerk, then absent, occupied the
Seeing his visitor, Cerizet cast a savage look at him and said,
without rising, or suspending the copy of the judgment he was then
"You here, Sieur la Peyrade? You have been doing fine things for your
"How are you?" asked la Peyrade, in a tone both resolute and friendly.
"I?" replied Cerizet. "As you see, still rowing my galley; and, to
follow out the nautical metaphor, allow me to ask what wind has blown
you hither; is it, perchance, the wind of adversity?"
La Peyrade, without replying, took a chair beside his questioner,
after which he said in a grave tone:--
"My dear fellow, we have something to say to each other."
"I suppose," said Cerizet, spitefully, "the Thuilliers have grown cold
since the seizure of the pamphlet."
"The Thuilliers are ungrateful people; I have broken with them,"
replied la Peyrade.
"Rupture or dismissal," said Cerizet, "their door is shut against you;
and from what Dutocq tells me, I judge that Brigitte is handling you
without gloves. You see, my friend, what it is to try and manage
affairs alone; complications come, and there's no one to smooth the
angles. If you had got me that lease, I should have had a footing at
the Thuilliers', Dutocq would not have abandoned you, and together we
could have brought you gently into port."
"But suppose I don't want to re-enter that port?" said la Peyrade,
with some sharpness. "I tell you I've had enough of those Thuilliers,
and I broke with them myself; I warned them to get out of my sun; and
if Dutocq told you anything else you may tell him from me that he
lies. Is that clear enough? It seems to me I've made it plain."
"Well, exactly, my good fellow, if you are so savage against your
Thuilliers you ought to have put me among them, and then you'd have
seen me avenge you."
"There you are right," said la Peyrade; "I wish I could have set you
at their legs--but as for that matter of the lease I tell you again, I
was not master of it."
"Of course," said Cerizet, "it was your conscience which obliged you
to tell Brigitte that the twelve thousand francs a year I expected to
make out of it were better in her pocket than in mine."
"It seems that Dutocq continues the honorable profession of spy which
he formerly practised at the ministry of finance," said la Peyrade,
"and, like others who do that dirty business, he makes his reports
more witty than truthful--"
"Take care!" said Cerizet; "you are talking of my patron in his own
"Look here!" said la Peyrade. "I have come to talk to you on serious
matters. Will you do me the favor to drop the Thuilliers and all their
belongings, and give me your attention?"
"Say on, my friend," said Cerizet, laying down his pen, which had
never ceased to run, up to this moment, "I am listening."
"You talked to me some time ago," said la Peyrade, "about marrying a
girl who was rich, fully of age, and slightly hysterical, as you were
pleased to put it euphemistically."
"Well done!" cried Cerizet. "I expected this; but you've been some
time coming to it."
"In offering me this heiress, what did you have in your mind?" asked
"Parbleu! to help you to a splendid stroke of business. You had only
to stoop and take it. I was formally charged to propose it to you;
and, as there wasn't any brokerage, I should have relied wholly on
"But you are not the only person who was commissioned to make me that
offer. A woman had the same order."
"A woman!" cried Cerizet in a perfectly natural tone of surprise. "Not
that I know of."
"Yes, a foreigner, young and pretty, whom you must have met in the
family of the bride, to whom she seems to be ardently devoted."
"Never," said Cerizet, "never has there been the slightest question of
a woman in this negotiation. I have every reason to believe that I am
exclusively charged with it."
"What!" said la Peyrade, fixing upon Cerizet a scrutinizing eye, "did
you never hear of the Comtesse Torna de Godollo?"
"Never, in all my life; this is the first time I ever heard that
"Then," said la Peyrade, "it must really have been another match; for
that woman, after many singular preliminaries, too long to explain to
you, made me a formal offer of the hand of a young woman much richer
than Mademoiselle Colleville--"
"And hysterical?" asked Cerizet.
"No, she did not embellish the proposal with that accessory; but
there's another detail which may put you on the track of her. Madame
de Godollo exhorted me, if I wished to push the matter, to go and see
a certain Monsieur du Portail--"
"Rue Honore-Chevalier?" exclaimed Cerizet, quickly.
"Then it is the same marriage which is offered to you through two
different mediums. It is strange I was not informed of this
"In short," said la Peyrade, "you not only didn't have wind of the
countess's intervention, but you don't know her, and you can't give me
any information about her--is that so?"
"At present I can't," replied Cerizet, "but I'll find out about her;
for the whole proceeding is rather cavalier towards me; but this
employment of two agents only shows you how desirable you are to the
At this moment the door of the room was opened cautiously, a woman's
head appeared, and a voice, which was instantly recognized by la
Peyrade, said, addressing the copying-clerk:--
"Ah! excuse me! I see monsieur is busy. Could I say a word to monsieur
when he is alone?"
Cerizet, who had an eye as nimble as a hand, instantly noticed a
certain fact. La Peyrade, who was so placed as to be plainly seen by
the new-comer, no sooner heard that drawling, honeyed voice, than he
turned his head in a manner to conceal his features. Instead therefore
of being roughly sent away, as usually happened to petitioners who
addressed the most surly of official clerks, the modest visitor heard
herself greeted in a very surprising manner.
"Come in, come in, Madame Lambert," said Cerizet; "you won't be kept
waiting long; come in."
The visitor advanced, and then came face to face with la Peyrade.
"Ah! monsieur!" cried his creditor, whom the reader has no doubt
recognized, "how fortunate I am to meet monsieur! I have been several
times to his office to ask if he had had time to attend to my little
"I have had many engagements which have kept me away from my office
lately; but I attended to that matter; everything has been done right,
and is now in the hands of the secretary."
"Oh! how good monsieur is! I pray God to bless him," said the pious
woman, clasping her hands.
"Bless me! do you have business with Madame Lambert?" said Cerizet;
"you never told me that. Are you Pere Picot's counsel?"
"No, unfortunately," said Madame Lambert, "my master won't take any
counsel; he is so self-willed, so obstinate! But, my good monsieur,
what I came to ask is whether the family council is to meet."
"Of course," said Cerizet, "and not later than to-morrow."
"But monsieur, I hear those gentlemen of the Royal court said the
family had no rights--"
"Yes, that's so," said the clerk; "the lower court and the Royal court
have both, on the petition of the relatives, rejected their demand for
"I should hope so!" said the woman; "to think of making him out a
lunatic! him so full of wisdom and learning!"
"But the relations don't mean to give up; they are going to try the
matter again under a new form, and ask for the appointment of a
judicial counsel. That's what the family council meets for to-morrow;
and I think, this time, my dear Madame Lambert, your old Picot will
find himself restrained. There are serious allegations, I can tell
you. It was all very well to take the eggs, but to pluck the hen was
"Is it possible that monsieur can suppose--" began the devote,
clasping her hands under her chin.
"I suppose nothing," said Cerizet; "I am not the judge of this affair.
But the relations declare that you have pocketed considerable sums,
and made investments about which they demand inquiry."
"Oh! heavens!" said the woman, casting up her eyes; "they can inquire;
I am poor; I have not a deed, nor a note, nor a share; not the
slightest security of any kind in my possession."
"I dare say not," said Cerizet, glancing at la Peyrade out of the
corner of his eye; "but there are always friends to take care of such
things. However, that is none of my business; every one must settle
his own affairs in his own way. Now, then, say what you have to say,
"I came, monsieur," she replied, "to implore you, monsieur, to implore
Monsieur the judge's clerk, to speak in our favor to Monsieur the
justice-of-peace. Monsieur the vicar of Saint-Jacques is also to speak
to him. That poor Monsieur Picot!" she went on, weeping, "they'll kill
him if they continue to worry him in this way."
"I sha'n't conceal from you," said Cerizet, "that the justice-of-peace
is very ill-disposed to your cause. You must have seen that the other
day, when he refused to receive you. As for Monsieur Dutocq and
myself, our assistance won't help you much; and besides, my good
woman, you are too close-mouthed."
"Monsieur asked me if I had laid by a few little savings; and I
couldn't tell him that I had, be--because they have gone to keep the
h--house of that poor Monsieur Pi--i--cot; and now they accuse me of
Madame Lambert sobbed.
"My opinion is," said Cerizet, "that you are making yourself out much
poorer than you are; and if friend Peyrade here, who seems to be more
in your confidence, hadn't his tongue tied by the rules of his
"I!" said la Peyrade, hastily, "I don't know anything of madame's
affairs. She asked me to draw up a petition on a matter in which there
was nothing judicial or financial."
"Ah! that's it, is it?" said Cerizet. "Madame had doubtless gone to
see you about this petition the day Dutocq met her at your office, the
morning after our dinner at the Rocher de Cancale--when you were such
a Roman, you know."
Then, without seeming to attach any importance to the reminiscence, he
"Well, my good Madame Lambert, I'll ask my patron to speak to the
justice-of-peace, and, if I get a chance, I'll speak to him myself;
but, I repeat it, he is very much prejudiced against you."
Madame Lambert retired with many curtseys and protestations of
gratitude. When she was fairly gone la Peyrade remarked:--
"You don't seem to believe that that woman came to me about a
petition; and yet nothing was ever truer. She is thought a saint in
the street she lives in, and that old man they accuse her of robbing
is actually kept alive by her devotion, so I'm told. Consequently, the
neighbors have put it into the good woman's head to apply for the
Montyon prize; and it was for the purpose of putting her claims in
legal shape that she applied to me."
"Dear! dear! the Montyon prize!" cried Cerizet; "well, that's an idea!
My good fellow, we ought to have cultivated it before,--I, especially,
as banker of the poor, and you, their advocate. As for this client of
yours, it is lucky for her Monsieur Picot's relatives are not members
of the French academy; it is in the correctional police-court, sixth
chamber, where they mean to give her the reward of virtue. However, to
come back to what we were talking about. I tell you that after all
your tergiversations you had better settle down peaceably; and I
advise you, as your countess did, to go and see du Portail."
"Who and what is he?" asked la Peyrade.
"He is a little old man," replied Cerizet, "as shrewd as a weasel. He
gives me the idea of having dealings with the devil. Go and see him!
Sight, as they say, costs nothing."
"Yes," said la Peyrade, "perhaps I will; but, first of all, I want you
to find out for me about this Comtesse de Godollo."
"What do you care about her? She is nothing but a supernumerary, that
"I have my reasons," said la Peyrade; "you can certainly get some
information about her in three days; I'll come and see you then."
"My good fellow," said Cerizet, "you seem to me to be amusing yourself
with things that don't pay; you haven't fallen in love with that go-
between, have you?"
"Plague take him!" thought la Peyrade; "he spies everything; there's
no hiding anything from him! No," he said, aloud, "I am not in love;
on the contrary, I am very cautious. I must admit that this marriage
with a crazy girl doesn't attract me, and before I go a step into it I
want to know where I put my feet. These crooked proceedings are not
reassuring, and as so many influences are being brought to bear, I
choose to control one by another. Therefore don't play sly, but give
me all the information you get into your pouch about Madame la
Comtesse Torna de Godollo. I warn you I know enough to test the
veracity of your report; and if I see you are trying to overreach me
I'll break off short with your du Portail."
"Trying to overreach you, monseigneur!" replied Cerizet, in the tone
and manner of Frederic Lemaitre. "Who would dare attempt it?"
As he pronounced those words in a slightly mocking tone, Dutocq
appeared, accompanied by his little clerk.
"Bless me!" he exclaimed, seeing la Peyrade and Cerizet together;
"here's the trinity reconstituted! but the object of the alliance, the
'casus foederis,' has floated off. What have you done to that good
Brigitte, la Peyrade? She is after your blood."
"What about Thuillier?" asked la Peyrade.
Moliere was reversed; here was Tartuffe inquiring for Orgon.
"Thuillier began by not being very hostile to you; but it now seems
that the seizure business has taken a good turn, and having less need
of you he is getting drawn into his sister's waters; and if the
tendency continues, I haven't a doubt that he'll soon come to think
you deserving of hanging."
"Well, I'm out of it all," said la Peyrade, "and if anybody ever
catches me in such a mess again!--Well, adieu, my friends," he added.
"And you, Cerizet, as to what we were speaking about, activity,
safety, and discretion!"
When la Peyrade reached the courtyard of the municipal building, he
was accosted by Madame Lambert, who was lying in wait for him.
"Monsieur wouldn't believe, I am sure," she said, in a deprecating
tone, "the villainous things that Monsieur Cerizet said about me;
monsieur knows it was the little property I received from my uncle in
England that I placed in his hands."
"Yes, yes," said la Peyrade, "but you must understand that with all
these rumors set about by your master's relatives the prize of virtue
is desperately endangered."
"If it is God's will that I am not to have it--"
"You ought also to understand how important it is for your interests
to keep secret the other service which I did for you. At the first
appearance of any indiscretion on your part that money, as I told you,
will be peremptorily returned to you."
"Oh! monsieur may be easy about that."
"Very well; then good-bye to you, my dear," said la Peyrade, in a
As he turned to leave her, a nasal voice was heard from a window on
"Madame Lambert!" cried Cerizet, who, suspecting the colloquy, had
gone to the staircase window to make sure of it. "Madame Lambert!
Monsieur Dutocq has returned; you may come up and see him, if you
Impossible for la Peyrade to prevent the conference, although he knew
the secret of that twenty-five thousand francs ran the greatest
"Certainly," he said to himself as he walked away, "I'm in a run of
ill-luck; and I don't know where it will end."
In Brigitte's nature there was such an all-devouring instinct of
domination, that it was without regret, and, we may even say, with a
sort of secret joy that she saw the disappearance of Madame de
Godollo. That woman, she felt, had a crushing superiority over her;
and this, while it had given a higher order to the Thuillier
establishment, made her ill at ease. When therefore the separation
took place, which was done, let us here say, on good terms, and under
fair and honorable pretexts, Mademoiselle Thuillier breathed more
freely. She felt like those kings long swayed by imperious and
necessary ministers, who celebrate within their hearts the day when
death delivers them from a master whose services and rival influence
they impatiently endured.
Thuillier was not far from having the same sentiment about la Peyrade.
But Madame de Godollo was only the elegance, whereas la Peyrade was
the utility of the house they had now simultaneously abandoned; and
after the lapse of a few days, a terrible need of Theodose made itself
felt in the literary and political existence of his dear, good friend.
The municipal councillor found himself suddenly appointed to draft an
important report. He was unable to decline the task, saddled as he was
with the reputation, derived from his pamphlet, of being a man of
letters and an able writer; therefore, in presence of the perilous
honor conferred upon him by his colleagues of the general Council, he
sat down terrified by his solitude and his insufficiency.
In vain did he lock himself into his study, gorge himself with black
coffee, mend innumerable pens, and write a score of times at the head
of his paper (which he was careful to cut of the exact dimensions as
that used by la Peyrade) the solemn words: "Report to the Members of
the Municipal Council of the City of Paris," followed, on a line by
itself, by a magnificent MESSIEURS--nothing came of it! He was fain to
issue furious from his study, complaining of the horrible household
racket which "cut the thread of his ideas"; though really no greater
noise than the closing of a door or the opening of a closet or the
moving of a chair had made itself heard. All this, however, did not
help the advancement of the work, which remained, as before--simply
Most fortunately, it happened that Rabourdin, wanting to make some
change in his apartment, came, as was proper, to submit his plan to
the owner of the house. Thuillier granted cordially the request that
was made to him, and then discoursed to his tenant about the report
with which he was charged,--being desirous, he said, to obtain his
ideas on the subject.
Rabourdin, to whom no administrative question was foreign, very
readily threw upon the subject a number of very clear and lucid ideas.
He was one of those men to whom the quality of the intellect to which
they address themselves is more or less indifferent; a fool, or a man
of talent who will listen to them, serves equally well to think aloud
to, and they are, as a stimulant, about the same thing. After
Rabourdin had said his say, he observed that Thuillier had not
understood him; but he had listened to himself with pleasure, and he
was, moreover, grateful for the attention, obtuse as it was, of his
hearer, and also for the kindliness of the landlord in receiving his
"I must have among my papers," he said as he went away, "something on
this subject; I will look it up and send it to you."
Accordingly, that same evening Thuillier received a voluminous
manuscript; and he spent the entire night in delving into that
precious repository of ideas, from which he extracted enough to make a
really remarkable report, clumsily as the pillage was managed. When
read before the council it obtained a very great success, and
Thuillier returned home radiant and much elated by the congratulations
he had received. From that moment--a moment that was marked in his
life, for even to advanced old age he still talked of the "report he
had had the honor of making to the Council-general of the Seine"--la
Peyrade went down considerably in his estimation; he felt then that he
could do very well without the barrister, and this thought of
emancipation was strengthened by another happiness which came to him
at almost the same time.
A parliamentary crisis was imminent,--a fact that caused the ministry
to think about depriving its adversaries of a theme of opposition
which always has great influence on public opinion. It resolved
therefore to relax its rigor, which of late had been much increased
against the press. Being included in this species of hypocritical
amnesty, Thuillier received one morning a letter from the barrister
whom he had chosen in place of la Peyrade. This letter announced that
the Council of State had dismissed the complaint, and ordered the
release of the pamphlet.
Then Dutocq's prediction was realized. That weight the less within his
bosom, Thuillier took a swing toward insolence; he chorused Brigitte,
and came at last to speak of la Peyrade as a sort of adventurer whom
he had fed and clothed, a tricky fellow who had EXTRACTED much money
from him, and had finally behaved with such ingratitude that he was
thankful not to count him any longer among his friends. Orgon, in
short, was in full revolt, and like Dorine, he was ready to cry out:
"A beggar! who, when he came, had neither shoes nor coat worth a brass
Cerizet, to whom these indignities were reported by Dutocq, would
gladly have served them up hot to la Peyrade; but the interview in
which the copying clerk was to furnish information about Madame de
Godollo did not take place at the time fixed. La Peyrade made his own
discoveries in this wise:
Pursued by the thought of the beautiful Hungarian, and awaiting, or
rather not awaiting the result of Cerizet's inquiry, he scoured Paris
in every direction, and might have been seen, like the idlest of
loungers, in the most frequented places, his heart telling him that
sooner or later he must meet the object of his ardent search.
One evening--it was towards the middle of October--the autumn, as
frequently happens in Paris, was magnificent, and along the
boulevards, where the Provencal was airing his love and his
melancholy, the out-door life and gaiety were as animated as in
summer. On the boulevard des Italiens, formerly known as the boulevard
de Gand, as he lounged past the long line of chairs before the Cafe de
Paris, where, mingled with a few women of the Chaussee d'Antin
accompanied by their husbands and children, may be seen toward evening
a cordon of nocturnal beauties waiting only a gloved hand to gather
them, la Peyrade's heart received a cruel shock. From afar, he thought
he saw his adored countess.
She was alone, in a dazzling toilet scarcely authorized by the place
and her isolation; before her, mounted on a chair, trembled a tiny
lap-dog, which she stroked from time to time with her beautiful hands.
After convincing himself that he was not mistaken, la Peyrade was
about to dart upon that celestial vision, when he was forestalled by a
dandy of the most triumphant type. Without throwing aside his cigar,
without even touching his hat, this handsome young man began to
converse with the barrister's ideal; but when she saw la Peyrade
making towards her the siren must have felt afraid, for she rose
quickly, and taking the arm of the man who was talking to her, she
"Is your carriage here, Emile? Mabille closes to-night, and I should
like to go there."
The name of that disreputable place thus thrown in the face of the
unhappy barrister, was a charity, for it saved him from a foolish
action, that of addressing, on the arm of the man who had suddenly
made himself her cavalier, the unworthy creature of whom he was
thinking a few seconds earlier with so much tenderness.
"She is not worth insulting," he said to himself.
But, as lovers are beings who will not allow their foothold to be
taken from them easily, the Provencal was neither convinced nor
resigned as yet. Not far from the place which his countess had left,
sat another woman, also alone; but this one was ripe with years, with
feathers on her head, and beneath the folds of a cashmere shawl she
concealed the plaintive remains of tarnished elegance and long past
luxury. There was nothing imposing about this sight, nor did it
command respect, but the contrary. La Peyrade went up to the woman
without ceremony and addressed her.
"Madame," he said, "do you know that woman who has just gone away on
the arm of a gentleman?"
"Certainly, monsieur; I know nearly all the women who come here."
"And her name is?--"
"Is she as impregnable as the fortress of that name?"
Our readers will doubtless remember that at the time of the
insurrection in Hungary our ears were battered by the press and by
novelists about the famous citadel of Komorn; and la Peyrade knew that
by assuming a tone of indifference or flippancy he was more likely to
succeed with his inquiries.
"Has monsieur any idea of making her acquaintance?"
"I don't know," replied la Peyrade, "but she is a woman who makes
people think of her."
"And a very dangerous woman, monsieur," added his companion; "a
fearful spendthrift, but with no inclination to return generously what
is done for her. I can speak knowingly of that; when she first arrived
here from Berlin, six months ago, she was very warmly recommended to
"Ah!" exclaimed la Peyrade.
"Yes, at that time I had in the environs of Ville d'Avray a very
beautiful place, with park and coverts and a stream for fishing; but
as I was alone I found it dull, and several of these ladies and
gentlemen said to me, 'Madame Louchard, why don't you organize parties
in the style of picnics?'"
"Madame Louchard!" repeated la Peyrade, "are you any relation to
Monsieur Louchard of the commercial police?"
"His wife, monsieur, but legally separated from him. A horrid man who
wants me to go back to him; but I, though I'm ready to forgive most
things, I can't forgive a want of respect; just imagine that he dared
to raise his hand against me!"
"Well," said la Peyrade, trying to bring her back to the matter in
hand; "you organized those picnics, and Madame de Godo--I mean Madame
"Was one of my first lodgers. It was there she made acquaintance with
an Italian, a handsome man, and rich, a political refugee, but one of
the lofty kind. You understand it didn't suit my purposes to have
intrigues going on in my house; still the man was so lovable, and so
unhappy because he couldn't make Madame Komorn like him, that at last
I took an interest in this particular love affair; which produced a
pot of money for madame, for she managed to get immense sums out of
that Italian. Well, would you believe that when--being just then in
great need--I asked her to assist me with a trifling little sum, she
refused me point-blank, and left my house, taking her lover with her,
who, poor man, can't be thankful for the acquaintance now."
"Why not? What happened to him?" asked la Peyrade.
"It happened to him that this serpent knows every language in Europe;
she is witty and clever to the tips of her fingers, but more
manoeuvring than either; so, being, as it appears, in close relations
to the police, she gave the government a lot of papers the Italian
left about carelessly, on which they expelled him from France."
"Well, after his departure, Madame Komorn--"
"Since then, she has had a good many adventures and upset several
fortunes, and I thought she had left Paris. For the last two months
she was nowhere to be seen, but three days ago she reappeared, more
brilliant than ever. My advice to monsieur is not to trust himself in
that direction; and yet, monsieur looks to me a Southerner, and
Southerners have passions; perhaps what I have told him will only
serve to spur them up. However, being warned, there's not so much
danger, and she is a most fascinating creature--oh! very fascinating.
She used to love me very much, though we parted such ill-friends; and
just now, seeing me here, she came over and asked my address, and said
she should come and see me."
"Well, madame, I'll think about it," said la Peyrade, rising and
bowing to her.
The bow was returned with extreme coldness; his abrupt departure did
not show him to be a man of SERIOUS intentions.
It might be supposed from the lively manner in which la Peyrade made
these inquiries that his cure though sudden was complete; but this
surface of indifference and cool self-possession was only the
stillness of the atmosphere that precedes a storm. On leaving Madame
Louchard, la Peyrade flung himself into a street-cab and there gave
way to a passion of tears like that Madame Colleville had witnessed on
the day he believed that Cerizet had got the better of him in the sale
of the house.
What was his position now? The investment of the Thuilliers, prepared
with so much care, all useless; Flavie well avenged for the odious
comedy he had played with her; his affairs in a worse state than they
were when Cerizet and Dutocq had sent him, like a devouring wolf, into
the sheepfold from which he had allowed the stupid sheep to drive him;
his heart full of revengeful projects against the woman who had so
easily got the better of what he thought his cleverness; and the
memory, still vivid, of the seductions to which he had succumbed,--
such were the thoughts and emotions of his sleepless night, sleepless
except for moments shaken by agitated dreams.
The next day la Peyrade could think no more; he was a prey to fever,
the violence of which became sufficiently alarming for the physician
who attended him to take all precautions against the symptoms now
appearing of brain fever: bleeding, cupping, leeches, and ice to his
head; these were the agreeable finale to his dream of love. We must
hasten to add, however, that this violent crisis in the physical led
to a perfect cure of the mental being. The barrister came out of his
illness with no other sentiment than cold contempt for the treacherous
Hungarian, a sentiment which did not even rise to a desire for
GIVE AND TAKE
Once more afoot, and reckoning with his future, on which he had lost
so much ground, la Peyrade asked himself if he had not better try to
renew his relations with the Thuilliers, or whether he should be
compelled to fall back on the rich crazy woman who had bullion where
others have brains. But everything that reminded him of his disastrous
campaign was repulsive to him; besides, what safety was there in
dealing with this du Portail, a man who could use such instruments for
his means of action?
Great commotions of the soul are like those storms which purify the
atmosphere; they induce reflection, they counsel good and strong
resolutions. La Peyrade, as the result of the cruel disappointment he
had just endured, examined his own soul. He asked himself what sort of
existence was this, of base and ignoble intrigue, which he had led for
the past year? Was there for him no better, no nobler use to make of
the faculties he felt within him? The bar was open to him as to
others; that was a broad, straight path which could lead him to all
the satisfaction of legitimate ambition. Like Figaro, who displayed
more science and calculation in merely getting a living than statesmen
had shown in governing Spain for a hundred years, he, la Peyrade, in
order to install and maintain himself in the Thuillier household and
marry the daughter of a clarionet and a smirched coquette, had spent
more mind, more art, and--it should also be said, because in a corrupt
society it is an element that must be reckoned--more dishonesty than
was needed to advance him in some fine career.
"Enough of such connections as Dutocq and Cerizet," he said to
himself; "enough of the nauseating atmosphere of the Minards and
Phellions and Collevilles and Barniols and all the rest of them. I'll
shake off this province 'intra muros,' a thousand times more absurd
and petty than the true provinces; they at least, side by side with
their pettiness, have habits and customs that are characteristic, a
'sui generis' dignity; they are frankly what they are, the antipodes
of Parisian life; this other is but a parody of it. I will fling
myself upon Paris."
In consequence of these reflections, la Peyrade went to see two or
three barristers who had offered to introduce him at the Palais in
secondary cases. He accepted those that presented themselves at once,
and three weeks after his rupture with the Thuilliers he was no longer
the "advocate of the poor," but a barrister pleading before the Royal
He had already pleaded several cases successfully when he received,
one morning, a letter which greatly disturbed him. The president of
the order of barristers requested him to come to his office at the
Palais in the course of the day, as he had something of importance to
say to him. La Peyrade instantly thought of the transaction relating
to the purchase of the house on the boulevard de la Madeleine; it must
have come, he thought, to the ears of the Council of Discipline; if so
he was accountable to that tribunal and he knew its severity.
Now this du Portail, whom he had never yet been to see, in spite of
his conditional promise to Cerizet, was likely to have heard the whole
story of that transaction from Cerizet himself. Evidently all means
were thought good by that man, judging by the use he had made of the
Hungarian woman. In his savage determination to bring about the
marriage with the crazy girl, had this virulent old man denounced him?
On seeing him courageously and with some appearance of success
entering a career in which he might find fame and independence, had
his persecutor taken a step to make that career impossible? Certainly
there was enough likelihood in this suggestion to make the barrister
wait in cruel anxiety for the hour when he might learn the true nature
of the alarming summons.
While breakfasting rather meagrely, his mind full of these painful
conjectures, Madame Coffinet, who had the honor to take charge of his
housekeeping, came up to ask if he would see Monsieur Etienne
Lousteau. [See "The Great Man of the Provinces in Paris."]
Etienne Lousteau! la Peyrade had an idea that he had heard the name
"Show him into my office," he said to the portress.
A moment later he met his visitor, whose face did not seem utterly
unknown to him.
"Monsieur," said this new-comer, "I had the honor of breakfasting with
you not long ago at Vefour's; I was invited to that meeting,
afterwards rather disturbed, by Monsieur Thuillier."
"Ah, very good!" said the barrister, offering a chair; "you are
attached to the staff of a newspaper?"
"Editor-in-chief of the 'Echo de la Bievre,' and it is on the subject
of that paper that I have now called to see you. You know what has
"No," said la Peyrade.
"Is it possible you are not aware that the ministry met with terrible
defeat last night? But instead of resigning, as every one expected,
they have dissolved the Chamber and appeal to the people."
"I knew nothing of all that," said la Peyrade. "I have not read the
"So," continued Lousteau, "all parliamentary ambitions will take the
field, and, if I am well informed, Monsieur Thuillier, already member
of the Council-general, intends to present himself as candidate for
election in the 12th arrondissement."
"Yes," said la Peyrade, "that is likely to be his intention."
"Well, monsieur, I desire to place at his disposition an instrument
the value of which I am confident you will not underestimate. The
'Echo de la Bievre,' a specialist paper, can have a decisive influence
on the election in that quarter."
"And you would be disposed," asked la Peyrade, "to make that paper
support Monsieur Thuillier's candidacy?"
"Better than that," replied Lousteau. "I have come to propose to
Monsieur Thuillier that he purchase the paper itself. Once the
proprietor of it he can use it as he pleases."
"But in the first place," said la Peyrade, "what is the present
condition of the enterprise? In its character as a specialist journal
--as you called it just now--it is a sheet I have seldom met with; in
fact, it would be entirely unknown to me were it not for the
remarkable article you were so good as to devote to Thuillier's
defence at the time his pamphlet was seized."
Etienne Lousteau bowed his thanks, and then said:
"The position of the paper is excellent; we can give it to you on easy
terms, for we were intending shortly to stop the publication."
"That is strange for a prosperous journal."
"On the contrary, it happens to be quite natural. The founders, who
were all representatives of the great leather interest, started this
paper for a special object. That object has been attained. The 'Echo
de la Bievre' has therefore become an effect without a cause. In such
a case, stockholders who don't like the tail end of matters, and are
not eager after small profits, very naturally prefer to sell out."
"But," asked la Peyrade, "does the paper pay its costs?"
"That," replied Lousteau, "is a point we did not consider; we were not
very anxious to have subscribers; the mainspring of the whole affair
was direct and immediate action on the ministry of commerce to obtain
a higher duty on the introduction of foreign leathers. You understand
that outside of the tannery circle, this interest was not very
exciting to the general reader."
"I should have thought, however," persisted la Peyrade, "that a
newspaper, however circumscribed its action, would be a lever which
depended for its force on the number of its subscribers."
"Not for journals which aim for a single definite thing," replied
Lousteau, dogmatically. "In that case, subscribers are, on the
contrary, an embarrassment, for you have to please and amuse them, and
in so doing, the real object has to be neglected. A newspaper which
has a definite and circumscribed object ought to be like the stroke of
that pendulum which, striking steadily on one spot, fires at a given
hour the cannon of the Palais-Royal."
"At any rate," said la Peyrade, "what price do you put upon a
publication which has no subscribers, does not pay its expenses, and
has until now been devoted to a purpose totally different from that
you propose for it?"
"Before answering," returned Lousteau, "I shall ask you another
question. Have you any intention of buying it?"
"That's according to circumstances," replied la Peyrade. "Of course I
must see Thuillier; but I may here remark to you that he knows
absolutely nothing about newspaper business. With his rather bourgeois
ideas, the ownership of a newspaper will seem to him a ruinous
speculation. Therefore, if, in addition to an idea that will scare
him, you suggest an alarming price, it is useless for me to speak to
him. I am certain he would never go into the affair."
"No," replied Lousteau. "I have told you we should be reasonable;
these gentlemen have left the whole matter in my hands. Only, I beg to
remark that we have had propositions from other parties, and in giving
Monsieur Thuillier this option, we intended to pay him a particular
courtesy. When can I have your answer?"
"To-morrow, I think; shall I have the honor of seeing you at your own
house, or at the office of the journal?"
"No," said Lousteau, "to-morrow I will come here, at the same hour, if
that is convenient to you."
"Perfectly," replied la Peyrade, bowing out his visitor, whom he was
inclined to think more consequential than able.
By the manner in which the barrister had received the proposition to
become an intermediary to Thuillier, the reader must have seen that a
rapid revolution had taken place in his ideas. Even if he had not
received that extremely disquieting letter from the president of the
order of barristers, the new situation in which Thuillier would be
placed if elected to the Chamber gave him enough to think about.
Evidently his dear good friend would have to come back to him, and
Thuillier's eagerness for election would deliver him over, bound hand
and foot. Was it not the right moment to attempt to renew his marriage
with Celeste? Far from being an obstacle to the good resolutions
inspired by his amorous disappointment and his incipient brain fever,
such a finale would ensure their continuance and success. Moreover, if
he received, as he feared, one of those censures which would ruin his
dawning prospects at the bar, it was with the Thuilliers, the
accomplices and beneficiaries of the cause of his fall, that his
instinct led him to claim an asylum.
With these thoughts stirring in his mind la Peyrade obeyed the summons
and went to see the president of the order of barristers.
He was not mistaken; a very circumstantial statement of his whole
proceeding in the matter of the house had been laid before his
brethren of the bar; and the highest dignitary of the order, after
stating that an anonymous denunciation ought always to be received
with great distrust, told him that he was ready to receive and welcome
an explanation. La Peyrade dared not entrench himself in absolute
denial; the hand from which he believed the blow had come seemed to
him too resolute and too able not to hold the proofs as well. But,
while admitting the facts in general, he endeavored to give them an
acceptable coloring. In this, he saw that he had failed, when the
president said to him:--
"After the vacation which is now beginning I shall report to the
Council of the order the charges made against you, and the statements
by which you have defended yourself. The Council alone has the right
to decide on a matter of such importance."
Thus dismissed, la Peyrade felt that his whole future at the bar was
imperilled; but at least he had a respite, and in case of condemnation
a new project on which to rest his head. Accordingly, he put on his
gown, which he had never worn till now, and went to the fifth court-
room, where he was employed upon a case.
As he left the court-room, carrying one of those bundles of legal
papers held together by a strip of cotton which, being too voluminous
to hold under the arm, are carried by the hand and the forearm pressed
against the chest, la Peyrade began to pace about the Salle des Pas
perdus with that harassed look of business which denotes a lawyer
overwhelmed with work. Whether he had really excited himself in
pleading, or whether he was pretending to be exhausted to prove that
his gown was not a dignity for show, as it was with many of his legal
brethren, but an armor buckled on for the fight, it is certain that,
handkerchief in hand, he was mopping his forehead as he walked, when,
in the distance, he spied Thuillier, who had evidently just caught
sight of him, and was beginning on his side to manoeuvre.
La Peyrade was not surprised by the encounter. On leaving home he had
told Madame Coffinet he was going to the Palais, and should be there
till three o'clock, and she might send to him any persons who called
on business. Not wishing to let Thuillier accost him too easily, he
turned abruptly, as if some thought had changed his purpose, and went
and seated himself on one of the benches which surround the walls of
that great antechamber of Justice. There he undid his bundle, took out
a paper, and buried himself in it with the air of a man who had not
had time to examine in his study a case he was about to plead. It is
not necessary to say that while doing this the Provencal was watching
the manoeuvres of Thuillier out of the corner of his eye. Thuillier,
believing that la Peyrade was really occupied in some serious
business, hesitated to approach him.
However, after sundry backings and fillings the municipal councillor
made up his mind, and sailing straight before the wind he headed for
the spot he had been reconnoitring for the last ten minutes.
"Bless me, Theodose!" he cried as soon as he had got within hailing
distance. "Do you come to the Palais now?"
"It seems to me," replied Theodose, "that barristers at the Palais are
like Turks at Constantinople, where a friend of mine affirmed you
could see a good many. It is YOU whom it is rather surprising to see
"Not at all," said Thuillier, carelessly. "I've come about that cursed
pamphlet. Is there ever any end to your legal bothers? I was summoned
here this morning, but I don't regret it, as it gives me the happy
chance of meeting you."
"I, too," said la Peyrade, tying up his bundle. "I am very glad to see
you, but I must leave you now; I have an appointment, and I suppose
you want to do your business at once."
"I have done it," said Thuillier.
"Did you speak to Olivier Vinet, that mortal enemy of yours? he sits
in that court," asked la Peyrade.
"No," said Thuillier, naming another official.
"Well, that's queer!" said the barrister; "that fellow must have the
gift of ubiquity; he has been all the morning in the fifth court-room,
and has just this minute given a judgment on a case I pleaded."
Thuillier colored, and got out of his hobble as best he could. "Oh,
hang it!" he said; "those men in gowns are all alike, I don't know one
La Peyrade shrugged his shoulders and said aloud, but as if to
himself: "Always the same; crafty, crooked, never straightforward."
"Whom are you talking about?" asked Thuillier, rather nonplussed.
"Why, of you, my dear fellow, who take me for an imbecile, as if I and
the whole world didn't know that your pamphlet business came to an end
two weeks ago. Why, then, summon you to court?"
"Well, I was sent for," said Thuillier, with embarrassment; "something
about registry fees,--it is all Greek to me, I can't comprehend their
"And they chose," said la Peyrade, "precisely the very day when the
Moniteur, announcing the dissolution of the Chamber, made you think
about being a candidate for the 12th arrondissement."
"Why not?" asked Thuillier, "what has my candidacy to do with the fees
I owe to the court?"
"I'll tell you," said la Peyrade, dryly. "The court is a thing
essentially amiable and complaisant. 'Tiens!' it said to itself,
'here's this good Monsieur Thuillier going to be a candidate for the
Chamber; how hampered he'll be by his attitude to his ex-friend
Monsieur de la Peyrade, with whom he wishes now he hadn't quarrelled.
I'll summon him for fees he doesn't owe; that will bring him to the
Palais where la Peyrade comes daily; and in that way he can meet him
by chance, and so avoid taking a step which would hurt his self-love."
"Well, there you are mistaken!" cried Thuillier, breaking the ice. "I
used so little craft, as you call it, that I've just come from your
house, there! and your portress told me where to find you."
"Well done!" said la Peyrade, "I like this frankness; I can get on
with men who play above-board. Well, what do you want of me? Have you
come to talk about your election? I have already begun to work for
"No, really?" said Thuillier, "how?"
"Here," replied la Peyrade, feeling under his gown for his pocket and
bringing out a paper, "here's what I scribbled just now in the court-
room while the lawyer on the other side rambled on like an expert."
"What is it about?" asked Thuillier.
"Read and you'll see."
The paper read as follows:--
Estimate for a newspaper, small size, at thirty francs a year.
Calculating the editions at 5,000 the costs are:--
Paper, 5 reams at 12 francs . . . . . . . . . . 1,860 francs.
Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2,400 "
Printing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450 "
One administrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 "
One clerk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 "
One editor (also cashier) . . . . . . . . . . . 200 "
One despatcher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 "
Folders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 "
One office boy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 "
Office expenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150 "
Rent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 "
License and postage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,500 "
Reporting and stenographic news . . . . . . . . 1,800 "
Total monthly, 15,110 "
" yearly, 181,320 "