Part 2 out of 12
Rudolph, as he listened to this prattle, asked himself, for the third
or fourth time, what he ought to think of the _virtue_ of Miss
Dimpleton. Sometimes the frankness of the grisette, and the
remembrance of the large bolt, made him almost believe that she loved
her neighbors merely as _brothers_ or _companions_, and that
Mrs. Pipelet had caluminated her; then again he smiled at his
credulity, in thinking it probable that a girl so young, so pretty, so
solitary, should have escaped the seductions of Giraudeau, Cabrion,
and Germain. Still, for all that, Miss Dimpleton's frankness and
originality disposed him to think favorably of her.
"You delight me, neighbor, by your manner of disposing of my Sundays,"
said Rudolph, gayly; "we will have some famous treats."
"Stop a moment, Mr. Spendthrift. I warn you that I shall keep house.
In summer, we can dine very well--yes, very well--for three francs, at
the Chartreuse or at the Montmartre Hermitage, half a dozen country
dances, or valses included, with a ride upon the wooden horses:--oh, I
do so love riding on horseback! That will makeup your five francs--not
a farthing more, I assure you. Do you valse?"
"Oh, this pleases me! M. Cabrion always trod on my feet, and then for
fun he would throw fulminating balls on the ground, which was the
reason they would not let him go any more to the Chartreuse."
"Be assured, I will answer for my discretion wherever we go together;
and as to the fulminating balls, I will have nothing to do with them.
But in winter, what shall we do?" "In winter, we are less hungry, and
can dine luxuriously for forty sous; then we shall have three francs
left for the play, for I would not have you exceed a hundred sous--
that is indeed too much to spend in pleasure; but if alone, you would
spend much more at the wine-shop or the billiard-rooms, with low
fellows, who smell horribly of tobacco. Is it not better to pass the
day pleasantly with a young friend, very laughter-loving and discreet,
who will save you some expense, by hemming your cravats, and taking
care of your other little domestic affairs?"
"It is clearly a gaining for me, neighbor; only if my friends should
meet me with my pretty little friend on my arm, what then?"
"Well, they will look at us and say: 'He is not at all unlucky, that
"You know my name?"
"Why, to be sure I do. When I learned that the next room was let, I
asked to whom!"
"Yes, when people meet us together, no doubt, as you say, they will
remark: 'What a lucky fellow that Rudolph is!' and will envy me."
"So much the better."
"They will think me perfectly happy."
"Of course they will; and so much the better!"
"And if I should not be so happy as I seem?"
"What does that matter, provided they believe it; men require nothing
further than mere outward show."
"But your reputation?"
Miss Dimpleton burst into an immoderate fit of laughter.
"The reputation of a grisette! Would any one believe in such a
phenomenon?" answered she. "If I had father or mother, brother or
sister, for them I should be careful of what people would say: but I
am alone in the world, and it's my own look out. As long as I am
satisfied with myself, I don't care a snap for others!"
"But still I should be very uncomfortable."
"In being thought happy in having you for a companion, while, on the
contrary, I love you. It would be something like taking dinner with
Papa Cretu--eating dry bread, whilst a cookery book was being read to
"Nonsense, nonsense! You will be very happy to live after my fashion.
I shall prove so mild, grateful, and unwearying, that you will say:
'After all, it is as well to pass my Sunday, with her as with any one
else.' If you should be disengaged in the evenings, during the week,
and it would not annoy you, you might pass them in my room, and have
the advantage of my fire and lamp, you could hire romances, and read
them aloud to me. Better than go and lose your money at billiards.
Otherwise, if you were kept late at your business, or you liked better
to go to the _cafe_, you could wish me good-night on your return,
if I were still up. But should I be in bed, at an early hour next day
I would say good-morning, by tapping at the wall to waken you. M.
Germain, my last neighbor, spent all his evenings in that manner with
me, and did not complain; he read all Walter Scott's works to me,
which were very interesting. Sometimes on Sunday, when the weather was
bad, instead of leaving home, he bought something nice, and we made a
downright banquet in my room; after which we amused ourselves with
reading, and I was almost as much pleased as if I had been at the
theater. This is to show you that it would not be difficult to live
with me, and that I will do what I can to make things pleasant and
agreeable. And then, you, who talk of illness, if ever you should be
laid up, I'll be a real Sister of Charity; only ask the Morels what
sort of a nurse I am! So, you see, you are not aware of all your
happiness; it is as good as a lucky hit in the lottery to have me for
"That is true, I have always been lucky; but, speaking of M. Germain,
where is he now?"
"In Paris, I believe."
"Then you never see him now?"
"Since he left this house, he has not been to see me."
"But where does he live, and what is he doing?"
"Why do you ask those questions, neighbor?"
"Because I feel jealous of him," said Rudolph, smiling, "and I would--"
"Jealous!" exclaimed Miss Dimpleton, laughing. "There is no reason for
that, poor fellow!"
"Seriously, then, I have the greatest interest in knowing the address
of M. Germain; you know where he lives, and I may, without boasting,
add, that I am incapable of abusing the secret I ask of you; it will
be for his interest also." "Seriously, neighbor, I believe you wish
every good to M. Germain, but he made me promise not to give his
address to any one; therefore, be assured, that as I do not give it to
you, it is because I cannot. You ought not to be angry with me; if you
had intrusted a secret to me, you would be pleased to find I acted as
I am now doing."
"Stop, neighbor! Once for all, do not speak to me any more on that
subject; I have made a promise, I intend to keep it, and, whatever you
may say to me, I shall still answer you in the same way."
In spite of her giddiness and frivolity, the girl pronounced these
last words so decisively, that Rudolph felt, to his great regret, that
he would never obtain from her the desired information about Germain;
and he felt a repugnance to employ artifice in surprising her
confidence. He paused a moment, and then resumed: "Do not let us speak
of it again, neighbor. Upon my soul, you keep so well the secrets of
others, that I am no longer surprised at your keeping your own."
"Secrets! I have secrets! I wish I had some; it must be so very
"Do you mean to say that you have not a little secret of the heart?"
"A secret of the heart!"
"In a word, have you never loved?" said Rudolph, looking steadfastly
at Miss Dimpleton, to read the truth in her tell-tale face.
"Loved!--have I not loved M. Giraudeau, M. Cabrion, M. Germain, and
"And did you love them the same as you love me--neither more nor
"Oh, I cannot tell you that, exactly--less, perhaps; for I had to
habituate myself to the squint of M. Giraudeau, to the red beard and
disagreeable jests of M. Cabrion, and the melancholy of M. Germain,
for he was so very sad, poor young man: while you, on the contrary,
pleased me instantly."
"You will not feel angry, neighbor, if I speak to you as a friend?"
"Oh, no, don't be afraid--I am very good-natured; and then you are so
kind, that I am sure you have not the heart to say anything that would
cause me pain."
"Certainly not; but now, frankly, have you never had--a lover?"
"Lovers! Now, is that very likely? Have I time for that?"
"But what has time to do with it?"
"Everything. First of all, I should be as jealous as a tiger, and I
should be constantly worrying myself with one idea or the other. Then,
again, do I earn money enough to enable me to lose two or three hours
a day in grief and tears?--and if he deceived me, what weeping, what
sorrow! All that would throw me pretty well behindhand, you may
"But all lovers are not unfaithful, and do not cause their mistresses
"That would be still worse. If he were very good and loving, could I
live a moment away from him? And then, as most likely he would be
obliged to stay all day, either at the desk, manufactory, or shop, I
should be like a poor restless spirit during his absence. I should
invent a thousand chimeras; imagine that others loved him, and that he
was with them. Heaven only knows what I might be tempted to do in my
despair! Certain it is, that my work would be neglected, and what
would become of me then? I can manage, quiet as I am, to live by
working twelve or fourteen hours a day; but, were I to lose two or
three days in the week by tormenting myself, how could I make up the
lost time? Impossible! I must then take a situation. Oh, no, I love my
liberty too well."
"Yes; I could enter as forewoman to the person who now employs me; I
should receive four hundred francs a year, with board and lodging."
"And you will not accept that?"
"No, indeed. I should be dependent on others; instead of which,
however humble my home may be, it is my own. I owe no one anything; I
have courage, health and gayety: with an agreeable neighbor like
yourself, what do I want more?"
"Then you have never thought of marrying?"
"I marry! I could only expect to meet with a husband as poor as
myself; and look at the unhappy Morels--see where it ends! When you
have but yourself to look to, you can always manage somehow."
"Then you never build castles in the air--never dream?"
"Yes, I dream of my chimney-ornaments; besides them what can I
"But suppose, now, some relation, of whom you have never heard, should
die and leave you a fortune--say twelve hundred francs a year--to you,
who live upon five hundred francs----"
"It might prove a good thing--perhaps an evil."
"I am very happy as I am; I can enjoy the life I now lead, but I do
not know how I should pass my time if I were rich. After a hard day's
work, I go to bed, my lamp extinguished, and, by a few light embers
that remain in my stove, I see my room neat--curtains, drawers,
chairs, birds, watch, and my table spread with goods intrusted to me--
and then I say to myself, `All this I owe to myself.' Truly, neighbor,
these thoughts cradle me softly, and sometimes I go to sleep with
pride, always with content. But here we are at the Temple! You must
confess, now, that it is a very superb show!"
Although Rudolph did not participate in the deep veneration expressed
by Miss Dimpleton at the sight of the Temple, he was nevertheless
struck by the singular appearance of this enormous bazaar, with its
numerous divisions and passages. Toward the middle of the Rue du
Temple, not far from a fountain which was placed in the angle of a
large square, might be seen an immense parallelogram built of timber,
surmounted with a slated roof. That building is the Temple. Bounded on
the left by the Rue du Petit Thouars, on the right by the Rue Percee,
it finished in a vast rotunda, surrounded with a gallery, forming a
sort of arcade. A long opening, intersecting this parallelogram in its
length, divided it in two equal parts; these were in their turn
divided and subdivided by little lateral and transverse courts,
sheltered from the rain by the roof of the edifice. In this bazaar new
merchandise is generally prohibited; but the smallest rag of any
stuff, the smallest piece of iron, brass, or steel, there found its
buyer or seller.
There you saw dealers in scraps of cloth of all colors, ages, shades,
qualities, and fashion, to assimilate either with worn-out or ill-fitting
garments. Some of the shops presented mountains of old shoes,
some trodden down at heel, others twisted, torn, split, and in holes,
presenting a mass of nameless, formless, colorless objects, among
which were grimly visible some species of _fossil_ soles, about
an inch thick, studded with thick nails, like a prison door, and hard
as a horseshoe, the actual skeletons of shoes whose other component
parts had long since been devoured by Time. Yet all this moldy, rusty,
dried-up accumulation of decaying rubbish found a willing purchaser,
an extensive body of _merchants_ trading in this particular line.
There existed retailers of trimming, fringes, cords, ravelings of
silk, cotton, or thread, during the destruction of curtains, etc.,
rendered unfit for use. Other industrious persons occupied themselves
in the business of women's bonnets; these bonnets never came to their
shop but in the bags of the retailer, after the most singular changes,
the most extraordinary transformations, the most unheard-of
discolorations. To prevent the merchandise taking up too much room in
a shop usually of the size of a large box, they folded these bonnets
in two, after which they smoothed them and pressed them down
excessively tight--saving the salt, it is positively the same process
as is used in the preservation of herrings: thus you may imagine how
much, thanks to this method of stowage, may be contained in a space of
four square feet.
When the purchaser presents himself, they withdraw these bags from the
pressure to which they are subject; the merchant, with a careless air,
gives a slight push with his fist to the bottom of the crown, to raise
it up, smooths the front upon his knee, and presents to your eyes an
object at once whimsically fantastical, which recalls confusedly to
your memory those fabulous head-dresses favored by box-keepers, aunts
of opera dancers, or duennas of provincial theaters. Further on, at
the sign of the _Gout du jour_, under the arcades of the Rotunda,
elevated at the end of the wide opening which separates the Temple in
two parts, were hanging, like _exotics_, numerous clothes, in
color, shape, and make still more extravagant than those of the
bonnets just described. Here were seen frock-coats, flashily set off
by three rows of hussar-jacket buttons, and warmly ornamented with a
little fur collar of fox's skin. Great-coats, formerly of bottle-green,
rendered by time _invisible_, edged with a black cord, and
brightened by a lining of plaid, blue and yellow, which had a most
laughable effect. Coats, formerly styled the "swallow-tails," of a
reddish-brown, with a handsome collar of plush, ornamented with
buttons, once gilt, but now of a copper color. There were also to be
seen Polish cloaks, with collars of cat-skin, frogged, and faced with
old black cotton-velvet; not far from these were dressing-gowns,
cunningly made of watchmen's old great-coats, from which were taken
the many capes, and lined with pieces of printed cotton; the better
sort were of dead blue and dark green, patched up with sundry pieces
of variegated colors, and fastened round the waist with an old woolen
bell-rope serving for a girdle, making a finish to these elegant
_deshabilles_, so exultingly worn by Robert Macaire.
We shall briefly pass over a variety of "loud" costumes, more or less
uncouth, in the midst of which might here and there be seen some
authentic relics of royalty or greatness, dragged by the revolution of
time from palaces and noble halls, to figure on the dingy shelves of
These exhibitions of old shoes, old hats, and ridiculous old dresses,
were on the grotesque side of the bazaar--the quarter for beggars,
ostentatiously decked out and disguised; but it must be allowed, or
rather distinctly asserted, that this vast establishment was of
immense use to the humble classes, or those of limited means. There
they might purchase, at an amazing reduction in price, excellent
things, almost new, the actual depreciation in value being almost
imaginary. On one side of the Temple, set apart for bedding, there
were heaps of coverlets, sheets, mattresses, and pillows. Further on
were carpets, curtains, and all sorts of kitchen utensils, besides
clothes, shoes, and head-dresses for all classes and ages. These
objects, generally of perfect cleanliness, offered nothing repugnant
to the sight.
One could scarcely believe, before visiting the bazaar, how little
time and money were requisite to fill a cart with all that is
necessary to the complete fitting out of two or three families who
Rudolph was struck by the manner, at once eager, obliging, and merry,
with which the various dealers, standing outside their shops,
solicited the custom of the passers-by; these manners, stamped with a
sort of respectful familiarity, seemed to belong to another age.
Scarcely had Miss Dimpleton and her companion appeared in the long
passage occupied by those who sold bedding, than they were surrounded
by the most seductive offers.
"Sir, come in and see my mattresses; they are better than new! I will
unsew a corner, that you may examine the stuffing; you will think it
lambs'-wool, it is so white and soft!"
"My pretty little lady, I have sheets of fine holland, finer than at
first, for their stiffness has been taken out of them; they are as
soft as a glove, strong as steel!"
"Come, my elegant new-married couple, buy of me a counterpane. See how
soft, warm, and light they are--you would imagine them of eider-down;
nearly new--have not been used twenty times. Look, my little lady;
decide for your husband; give me your custom--I will furnish very
cheaply for you--you will be satisfied--you will come again to Mother
Bouvard. You will find all you want in my shop; yesterday I made
beautiful purchases--you shall see them all. Come in, anyhow; it will
not cost anything to look."
"By my faith, neighbor," said Rudolph to Miss Dimpleton, "this good
fat woman shall have the preference. She takes us for young married
people; the supposition flatters me, and I decide for her shop."
"To the good fat woman's, then," answered Miss Dimpleton; "her face
pleases me too."
The grisette and her companion then entered Mother Bouvard's shop. By
a magnanimity perhaps unexampled anywhere but at the Temple, the
rivals of Mother Bouvard did not rebel at the preference accorded her;
one of the neighbors, indeed, had the generosity to say, "So long as
it is Mother Bouvard, and no other, who has this customer, it is very
well: she has a family, and is the oldest inhabitant of the Temple,
and an honor to it." It was, besides, impossible to have a face more
prepossessing, open, and joyous than hers.
"Here, my pretty little lady," said she to Miss Dimpleton, who
examined everything with the manner of one capable of judging, "this
is the purchase of which I spoke; two beds, completely fitted up, and
as good as new. If by chance you want a little old secretary, and not
dear, there is one," and she pointed to it, "that I had in the same
lot. Although I do not generally buy furniture, I could not refuse to
take it, as the person of whom I had all this seemed so unhappy. Poor
lady! it was the parting with that, above all, that appeared to rend
her heart; an old piece of furniture very long with the family."
At these words, while the shopkeeper and Miss Dimpleton were debating
the prices of different articles, Rudolph looked more attentively at
the piece of furniture which Mother Bouvard had pointed out. It was
one of those old secretaries of rosewood, in shape nearly triangular,
shut in by a panel in front, which, thrown back, and supported by two
long brass hinges, could be used as a writing-desk. In the middle of
the panel, inlaid with different-colored wood, Rudolph noticed a
cipher in ebony, an M. and R. interlaced, and surmounted by the
coronet of a count. He imagined its last possessor to belong to an
elevated class of society. His curiosity increased; he examined the
secretary with renewed attention; he opened mechanically the drawers,
one after the other, when, finding some difficulty in opening the
last, and seeking the cause, he discovered and drew out carefully a
sheet of paper, partly entangled between the drawer and the bottom of
the secretary. While Miss Dimpleton was finishing her purchases with
Mother Bouvard, Rudolph narrowly scrutinized the paper; from the many
erasures it was easily to be seen that it was an unfinished draught of
a letter. Rudolph, with difficulty, read as follows:
"Sir,--Be assured that misfortunes the most frightful could alone
compel me to address you. It is not from ill-placed pride I feel these
scruples, but the absolute want of any claim to the service I venture
to ask of you. The sight of my daughter, reduced, like myself, to the
most painful privation, urges me to the task. A few words will explain
the cause of the misfortunes which overwhelm me. After the death of my
husband, there remained to me a fortune of three hundred thousand
francs, placed by my brother with M. Jacques Ferrand, notary. I
received at Angers, where I had retired with my daughter, the interest
of this sum in remittances from my brother. You remember, sir, the
frightful event that put an end to his existence: ruined, as it
appeared, by secret and unfortunate speculations, he destroyed himself
eight months since. Before this melancholy event, I received from him
a few lines, written in despair, in which he said, when I read them he
should have ceased to exist; he finished by informing me that he
possessed no document relative to the sum placed in my name with M.
Jacques Ferrand, as that individual never gave a receipt, but was
honor and goodness itself, and it would only be necessary for me to
call on him for the affairs to be satisfactorily arranged. As soon as
I could possibly turn my attention to anything but the fearful death
of my brother, I came to Paris, where I knew no one but yourself, sir,
and that indirectly, by business you had had with my husband. I told
you that the sum placed with M. Jacques Ferrand comprised the whole of
my fortune, and that my brother sent me, every six months, the
interest derived from that sum. More than a year having passed since
the last payment, I consequently called on the notary, to demand that
of which I stood greatly in want. Scarcely had I made myself known,
than, without respecting my grief, he accused my brother of having
borrowed from him two thousand francs, which he had entirely lost by
his death; adding, that not only was his suicide a crime toward God
and man, but that it was still further an act of dishonesty, of which
he was the victim. This odious speech made me indignant. The upright
conduct of my brother was well known; he had, it is true, without the
knowledge of myself or his friends, lost his fortune in hazardous
speculations, but he died with his reputation unsullied, regretted by
every one, and leaving no debts, save that to his notary. I replied to
M. Ferrand that I authorized him to take instantly, from the sum he
had in his charge of mine, the two thousand francs my brother was
indebted to him. At these words he looked at me in stupefied manner,
and asked me of what money I spoke. 'The three hundred thousand francs
that my brother placed in your hands eighteen months since, sir; the
interest of which you have remitted, through him,' said I not
comprehending his question. The notary shrugged his shoulders, smiled
in pity, as though my assertion was not true, and answered me that, so
far from having placed money with him, he had borrowed two thousand
"It is impossible to explain to you my terror at this answer. 'But
what, then, has become of this sum?' asked I. 'My daughter and myself
have no other resource; if it be taken from us, there remains but the
greatest misery. What will become of us?' 'I know nothing about it,'
said the notary coolly: 'it is most likely that your brother, instead
of placing this sum with me, as he told you, made use of it in those
unfortunate speculations to which he gave himself up, without the
knowledge of any one.' 'It is false, sir!' I exclaimed; 'my brother
was honor's self. Far from despoiling myself and child, he sacrificed
himself to us. He would never marry, that he might leave all he
possessed to my child.' 'Dare you assume, then, madame, that I am
capable of denying a trust reposed in me?' asked the notary, with an
indignation so apparently honorable and sincere, that I replied, 'No,
sir; without doubt your reputation for probity is well known; but,
notwithstanding, I cannot accuse my brother of so cruel an abuse of
confidence.' 'Upon what deeds do you found this demand on me?' asked
M. Ferrand. 'None, sir; eighteen months since, my brother, who took
upon himself the management of my affairs, wrote to me, saying, 'I
have an excellent opportunity of realizing six per cent.; send me your
warrant of attorney; I will deposit three hundred thousand francs,
which I have concluded about, with M. Ferrand, the notary.' I sent the
power of attorney; and, a few days after, he informed me that he had
effected the deposit with you, and at the end of six months he sent me
the interest of that sum. 'At least you have some letters from him on
the subject, madame?' 'No, sir; as they related only to business, I
did not preserve them.' 'I, unhappily, madame, know nothing of all
this,' replied the notary; 'if my character was not above all
suspicion, all attack, I should say to you, 'The law is open to you--
proceed against me; the judges will have to choose between an
honorable man, who for thirty years has enjoyed the esteem of persons
of consideration, and the posthumous declaration of a man who, after
ruining himself in the most hazardous speculations, found refuge only
in suicide.' In short, I say to you now, attack me, madame, if you
dare, and the memory of your brother will be dishonored! But I should
think that you will nave the good sense to be resigned to a
misfortune, doubtless very great, but to which I am a stranger.' 'But,
sir, I am a mother; if my fortune is lost to me, my daughter and
myself have only the resource of some little furniture; that sold,
there remains but misery, sir, appalling misery!' 'You have,
unfortunately, been cheated; I can do nothing,' replied the notary.
'Again I tell you, madame, your brother deceived you. If you hesitate
between my word and his, proceed against me; the law is open to you--I
abide by its decision.' I left the office of the notary in the deepest
despair. What remained for me to do in this extremity. Without any
document to prove the validity of my claim, convinced of the strict
honesty of my brother, confounded by the assurance of M. Ferrand,
having no one from whom I could ask advice (you were then traveling),
knowing that money was necessary to have the opinion of counsel, and
wishing carefully to preserve the little which was left to me, I dared
not undertake the commencement of a lawsuit. It was then--"
This copy of a letter ended here, for strokes not decipherable,
covered some lines which followed: at last, at the bottom, in a corner
of the page, Rudolph read the following memorandum: "_Write to the
Duchess de Lucenay, for M. de Saint-Remy_."
Rudolph remained thoughtful after the perusal of this fragment of a
letter, in which he had found two names whose connection struck him.
Although the additional infamy with which M. Ferrand appeared to be
accused was not proved, this man had shown himself so pitiless towards
the unfortunate Morel, so infamous to Louise, his daughter, that a
denial of the deposit, protected as he was from certain discovery, did
not appear strange, coming from such a wretch. This mother, who
claimed a fortune which had so strangely disappeared, no doubt
accustomed to the comforts of life, was ruined by a blow so sudden:
knowing no one at Paris, as the letter said, what could now be the
existence of these two females, deprived of everything, alone in the
heart of this immense city?
The prince had, as we know, promised to Lady d'Harville _some
intrigues_, which he hazarded for the purpose of occupying her
mind, and a part to perform in some future work of charity, feeling
certain of finding, before his again meeting the lady, some grief to
assuage: he trusted that perhaps chance might throw in his path some
worthy, unfortunate person, who could, agreeably to his project,
interest the heart and imagination of Lady d'Harville. The wording of
the letter that he held in his hands, a copy of which, without doubt,
had never been sent to the person from whom assistance was implored,
showed a character proud and resigned, to whom the offer of charity
would be no doubt repugnant. In that case, what precautions and
delicate deceptions would be necessary to hide the source of a
generous succor, or to make it acceptable! And then, what address to
gain introduction to this lady, so that you might judge if she really
merited the interest it seemed she ought to inspire! Rudolph foresaw a
crowd of emotions, new, curious, and touching, which ought singularly
to amuse Lady d'Harville, as he had promised her.
"Well, _husband_," said Miss Dimpleton, gayly, "what is that
scrap of paper you are reading?"
"My little _wife_," answered Rudolph, "you are very curious. I
will tell you presently. Have you concluded your purchases?"
"Certainly, and your poor friends will be established like kings.
There remains only to pay. Mother Bouvard is very accommodating, it
must be allowed."
"My little _wife_, an idea has just struck me; while I am paying,
will you go and choose clothing for Mrs. Morel and her children; I
confess my ignorance on the subject of such purchases. You can tell
them to bring the things here, as there need be but one journey, and
the poor people will have all at the same time."
"You are always right, _husband_. Wait for me, I shall not be
long; I know two shopkeepers with whom I always deal, and I shall find
there all that I want." Miss Dimpleton went out, saying, "Mother
Bouvard, I trust my _husband_ to you; do not make love to him."
And, laughing, she hastily disappeared.
"Indeed, sir," said Mother Bouvard to Rudolph, after the departure of
Miss Dimpleton, "you must allow that you possess a famous little
manager. She understands well how to buy. So pretty! Red and white,
with beautiful large black eyes, and hair to match!"
"Is she not charming? Am I not a happy husband, Mother Bouvard?"
"As happy a husband as she is a wife, I am quite sure."
"You are not mistaken there; but tell me, how much do I owe you?"
"Your little lady would not go beyond three hundred and thirty francs
for all. As there is a heaven above, I only clear fifteen francs, for
I did not buy them so cheaply as I might; I had not the heart to beat
them down, the people who sold them appeared so very unhappy!"
"Indeed! were they not the same persons of whom you bought the little
"Yes, sir; and its break my heart only to think of it. There came here
the day before yesterday, a lady, still young and beautiful, but so
pale and thin, that it gave you pain to see her. Although she was neat
and clean, her old threadbare, black worsted shawl, her black stuff
gown, also much worn and frayed, her straw bonnet in the month of
January, for she was in mourning, proclaimed what is termed a
_shabby genteel_ appearance, but I am sure she was of real
quality. At length she inquired, with a blush, if I would purchase two
beds complete, and an old secretary. I replied, that as I sold I must
buy, and that, if they suited me, I would have them. She then begged
me to go with her, not far from here, on the other side of the street,
to a house on the quay of the Canal Saint Martin. I left my shop in
charge of my niece, and followed the lady. We came to a shabby-looking
house, quite at the bottom of a court; we went up to the fourth story,
the lady knocked, and a young girl of fourteen opened the door; she
was also in mourning, and equally pale and thin, but in spite of this,
beautiful as the day--so beautiful, that I was enraptured!"
"Well, and this young girl?"
"Was the daughter of the lady in mourning. Although so cold she had on
nothing more than a black cotton dress with white spots, and a little
black shawl quite worn out."
"And their lodging was wretched?"
"Imagine, sir, two little rooms, very clean, but almost empty, and so
cold that I was nearly frozen; a fireplace where you could not
perceive the least appearance of ashes; there had not been a fire for
a long time. The whole of the furniture consisted of two beds, two
chairs, a chest of drawers, an old trunk, and the little secretary.
Upon the trunk was a bundle in a handkerchief. This bundle was all
that remained to the mother and daughter, when once their furniture
was sold. The landlord selected the two bedsteads, the chairs, trunk,
and table, for what they were indebted to him, as the porter said who
came up with us. When the lady begged me to put a fair value on the
mattress, sheets, curtains, and blankets, on the faith of an honest
woman, sir, although I live by buying cheap and selling dear, when I
saw the poor young lady, her eyes filled with tears, and her mother,
in spite of her calmness, appearing to weep inwardly, I estimated them
within fifteen francs of their value to sell again, I assure you; I
even consented, to oblige them, to take the little secretary, although
it is not in my line of business."
"I will buy it of you, Mother Bouvard."
"Will you though? So much the better, sir; it would have remained on
my hands a long time, and I only took it to serve the lady. I then
told her what I would give for the things, and I expected she would
ask me more than I had offered; but no, she said not a word about it.
This still more satisfied me that she was no common person; _genteel
poverty_, sir, be assured. I said, 'So much,' she answered, 'Thank
you! now let us return to your shop, and you can then pay me, as I
shall not come back again to this house.' Then, speaking to her
daughter, who was sitting on the trunk, crying, she said, 'Claire,
take the bundle.' I remember the name well. The young lady rose up,
but in passing by the side of the little secretary, she threw herself
on her knees before it, and began to sob. 'Courage, my child, they are
looking at us,' said her mother, in a low tone, but yet I heard her.
You can understand, sir, they are poor but proud people. When the lady
gave me the key of the little secretary, I noticed a tear in her eyes,
her heart seemed breaking at parting with the old piece of furniture;
but she still tried to preserve her calmness and dignity before
strangers. She then gave the porter to understand that I was to take
away all the landlord did not keep, and afterward we returned here.
The young lady gave her arm to her mother, and carried in her hand the
little bundle which contained their all. I paid them three hundred and
fifteen francs, and have not since seen them."
"But their name?"
"I do not know: the lady sold me the things in the presence of the
porter; I had not the necessity to ask her name, as what she sold
belonged to herself."
"But their new abode?"
"That, also, I do not know."
"Perhaps they can inform me at their old lodging?"
"No, sir; for when I returned to fetch away the things, the porter
said, speaking of the mother and daughter; 'They are very quiet
people, but very unhappy; some misfortunes have happened to them. They
always appeared calm; but I am sure they were in a state of despair.'
'And where are they going to lodge at this late hour?' I asked him.
'In truth, I know nothing,' answered he; 'it is, however, quite
certain they will not return here.'"
The hopes that Rudolph had entertained for a moment vanished. How
could he discover these two unhappy females, having only as a clew the
name of the young girl, Claire, and the fragment of a letter, of which
we have spoken, at the bottom of which were the words: "_Write to
Madame de Lucenay, for M. de Saint-Remy_."
The only chance, and that was a very faint one, of tracing these
unfortunates, rested in Madame de Lucenay, who, fortunately, was on
intimate terms with Lady d'Harville.
"Here, madame, pay yourself," said Rudolph to the shopkeeper, giving
her a note for five hundred francs.
"I will give you the difference, sir."
"Where can I engage a cart to carry the things?"
"If it be not very far, a large truck will be sufficient; Father
Jerome has one, quite close by; I always employ him. What is your
"No. 17, Rue du Temple."
"Rue du Temple, No. 17. Yes, yes, I know the house."
"You have been there?"
"Many times. First, I bought some clothes of a pawnbroker who lived
there. It is true, she did not carry on a large business, but that was
no affair of mine: she sold, I bought, and we were quits. Another
time, not six months ago, I went again for the furniture of a young
man who lived on the fourth story, and who was going to remove."
"M. Francois Germain, perhaps," said Rudolph.
"The same. Do you know him?"
"Very well. Unhappily, he has not left in the Rue du Temple his
present address, and I do not know where to find him."
"If that be all, I can remove the difficulty."
"You know where he lives?"
"Not exactly; but I know where you will be sure to meet with him."
"Where is that?"--
"At a notary's, where he is employed."
"At a notary's?"
"Yes; who lives in the Rue du Sentier."
"M. Jacques Ferrand!" exclaimed Rudolph.
"The same; a worthy man; he has a crucifix and a bit of the true cross
in his office, which reminds one of a sacristy."
"But how do you know that M. Germain is with the notary?"
"Why, in this way. The young man came to me, and proposed that I
should buy all his furniture; although not in my way of business, I
agreed, and afterward retailed them here; for, as it suited the young
man, I did not like to refuse. Well, then, I bought him clean out, and
gave him a good price; he was, doubtless, satisfied with me, for at
the end of a fortnight he came to buy a bedstead and bedding. He
brought with him a truck and a porter; they packed up all; but just as
he was about to pay he found he had forgotten his purse. He appeared
such an honest young man, that I said to him: 'Take the things with
you, all the same; I will call for the money.''Very well,' he said;
'but I am seldom at home; call, therefore, tomorrow, in the Rue du
Sentier, at M. Jacques Ferrand's the notary, where I am employed, and
I will then pay you.' I went the next day, and he paid me. Only, what
I thought so odd, was, his selling me all his goods, and buying others
in a fortnight after."
Rudolph thought he could account for the cause of this singularity.
Germain, wishing that the wretches who pursued him should lose all
traces, of him, had sold his goods, thinking that if he removed them
it might give a clew to his new abode, and had preferred, to avoid
this evil, purchasing others, and taking them himself to his lodgings.
Rudolph started with joy when he thought of the happiness for Mrs.
George, who was at last about to see this son, so long and vainly
Miss Dimpleton now returned with joyful eyes and smiling lips.
"Well, did I not tell you?" she exclaimed. "I was not wrong: we have
spent, in all, six hundred and forty francs, and the Morels will be
housed like princes. See! the shopkeepers are coming: are they not
loaded? Nothing is wanted for the use of the family--even to a
gridiron, two beautiful saucepans newly tinned, and a coffee-pot. I
said to myself, since everything is to be had, it shall be so; and,
besides all that, I have spent three hours. But make haste and pay,
neighbor, and let us go. It is almost noon, and my needle must go at a
pretty rate to overtake this morning!"
Rudolph paid, and left the Temple with Miss Dimpleton. As the grisette
and her companion entered the passage of the house, they were almost
thrown down by Mrs. Pipelet, who was running out, troubled,
"Gracious heaven!" said Miss Dimpleton, "what is the matter with you,
Mrs. Pipelet? Where are you running to in that manner?"
"Is that you, Miss Dimpleton?" exclaimed Anastasia.
"Providence has sent you. Help me! save the life of Alfred!"
"What do you say?"
"That poor old darling has fainted! Have pity upon us! run and fetch
two sous worth of absinthe--very strong; that is the remedy when he is
indisposed in the pylorus. Be kind; do not refuse me, and I can return
to Alfred. I am quite confused!"
Miss Dimpleton left Rudolph's arm, and ran off to the dram-shop.
"But what has happened, Mrs. Pipelet?" asked Rudolph, following the
portress, who returned to the lodge.
"How should I know, my worthy sir? I left home to go to the mayor's,
the church, and the cook-shop, to prevent Alfred from tiring himself.
I returned; what did I see? the dear old man with his legs and arms
all in the air! Look, M. Rudolph!" said Anastasia, opening the door of
the room, "is not that a sight to break one's heart?"
Lamentable spectacle! With his enormous hat still on his head, even
further on than usual, for the questionable _castor,_ pushed
down, no doubt, by violence, if we may judge by a transverse gap,
covered Pipelet's eyes, who was on his back on the floor, at the foot
of his bed.
The fainting was over, and Alfred was beginning to make some slight
movements with his hands, as though he wished to repulse some one or
some thing; and then he tried to remove his troublesome visor.
"He kicks! that is a good sign; he recovers!" cried the portress--and
stooping down, she bawled in his ears: "What is the matter with my
Alfred? It is his 'Stasie who is here. How are you now? They are
coming to bring you some absinthe; that will put you to rights." Then,
assuming a caressing tone of voice, she added: "Have they abused you,
killed you, my dear old darling--eh?"
Alfred sighed deeply, and with a groan uttered a fatal word:
"_Cabrion!_" His trembling hands seemed as though desirous of
repulsing a frightful vision.
"Cabrion! that devil of a painter again!" exclaimed Mrs. Pipelet.
"Alfred all night dreamed so much about him, that he kicked me
dreadfully. That monster is his nightmare! Not only has he poisoned
his days, but his nights also; he persecutes him even in his sleep--
yes, sir, as though Alfred was a malefactor, and this Cabrion, whom
may the devil confound! is his remorseless enemy."
Rudolph smiled, as he foresaw some new trick on the part of Miss
Dimpleton's former neighbor.
"Alfred, answer me; do not remain dumb--you alarm me," said Mrs.
Pipelet; "let us get you up. Why will you think on that beggarly
fellow? You know that, when you think of him, it has the same effect
on you as when you eat cabbage--it fills up your gizzard, and stifles
"Cabrion!" repeated Pipelet, lifting with difficulty his hat from his
eyes, which he rolled about with a frightened air.
Miss Dimpleton entered, carrying a small bottle of absinthe.
"Thank you, mademoiselle; you are very kind," said the old woman. Then
she added: "Here, darling, pop it down; it will bring you to
And Anastasia, presenting the vial quickly to Pipelet's lips, insisted
on his swallowing the contents. Alfred in vain struggled courageously:
his wife, profiting by the weakness of her victim, held his head with
a firm grasp in one hand, and with the other introduced the neck of
the vial between his teeth, and forced him to drink the absinthe;
after which she cried triumphantly: "Well done! you are again on your
pins, my cherished one!"
Alfred, having wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, opened his
eyes, stood up, and asked in a trembling voice: "Have you seen him?"
"Is he gone?"
"Alfred, whom do you mean?"
"Has he dared--" cried the portress.
Pipelet, as dumb as the statue of the Commander in _Don
Giovanni,_ bowed his head twice in the affirmative.
"M. Cabrion, has he been here?" asked Miss Dimpleton, restraining with
difficulty an inclination to laugh.
"That monster! has he been let loose upon Alfred?" cried Mrs. Pipelet.
"Oh, if I had been here with my broom, he should have eaten it up, to
the very handle! But speak, Alfred; relate to us this horrible
Pipelet made a sign with his hand that he was about to speak, and they
listened to the man of the immense hat in religious silence. Pie
expressed himself in these terms, with a voice deeply agitated: "My
wife had just left me to complete the orders given by you, sir (bowing
to Rudolph), to call at the mayor's and the cook-shop."
"The dear old man had the nightmare all night, and I wished him to
rest," said Anastasia.
"This nightmare was sent me as a warning from above," said the porter,
solemnly. "I had dreamed of Cabrion--I was to suffer by Cabrion. Here
was I sitting quietly before the table, thinking of an alteration that
I wished to make in this boot confided to me, when I heard a noise, a
rustling at the window of my lodge--was it a presentiment--a warning
from above? My heart beat; I raised my head, and through the window I
"Cabrion!" cried Anastasia, clasping her hands.
"Cabrion!" replied Pipelet, in a hollow tone. "His hideous face was
there, close to the window, looking at me with his cat's eyes--what do
I say? tiger's eyes! just as in my dream. I tried to speak, but my
tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth: I would have risen--I was glued
to my seat; the boot fell from my hands, and, as in every critical and
important event of my life, I remained completely motionless. Then the
key turned in the lock; the door opened, and Cabrion entered!"
"He entered? what effrontery!" said Mrs. Pipelet, as much astonished
as her husband at such audacity.
"Cabrion advanced slowly, his looks fixed on me, as a serpent glares
on the bird, like a phantom--on, on, chilling, lowering!"
"I'm goose-flesh all over!" groaned Anastasia.
"He came quite close to me; I could no longer endure his revolting
aspect; it was too much, I could hold out no longer. I shut my eyes,
and I then felt that he dared to put his hands on my hat, took it
slowly off my head, and left it naked! I was seized with giddiness--my
breathing was suspended--a ringing came in my ears--I was more than
ever glued to my seat--I shut my eyes more firmly. Then Cabrion
stooped, took my bald head between his hands, cold as death, and upon
my forehead, bathed in sweat, imprinted a lascivious kiss!"
Anastasia lifted her arms toward heaven.
"My most inveterate enemy kissed my forehead! A monstrosity so
unparalleled overcame and paralyzed me. Cabrion profited by my stupor
to replace my hat on my head: then, with a blow on the crown, bonneted
me as you saw. The last outrage quite overpowered me--the measure was
full; everything about me turned round, and I fainted at the moment
when I saw him, from under the rim of my hat, leave the room as
quietly and slowly as he had entered."
Then, as though this recital had exhausted his strength, Pipelet fell
back on his chair, raising his hands to heaven in the attitude of mute
imprecation. Miss Dimpleton left the room suddenly; her desire to
laugh almost stifled her, and she could no longer restrain herself.
Rudolph himself had with difficulty preserved his gravity.
Suddenly a confused murmur, such as announces the assembling of a
multitude, was heard in the street; a tumult arose at the end of the
passage, and then musket-butts sounded on the door-step.
"Good heaven, M. Rudolph!" cried Miss Dimpleton, running back, pale
and trembling; "here are a commissary of police and the guard!"
"Divine justice watches over me!" said Pipelet, in a burst of
religious gratitude; "they come to arrest Cabrion! Unhappily, it is
A commissary of police, known by a scarf worn under his black coat,
entered the lodge. His countenance was grave, dignified, and severe.
"M. le Commissaire, you are too late; the malefactor has fled!" said
Pipelet, sadly; "but I can give you his description. Villainous smile,
"Of whom do you speak?" asked the officer.
"Of Cabrion, M. le Commissaire, and if you make all haste, there may
be yet time to get hold of him," answered Pipelet.
"I do not know who this Cabrion is," said the officer, impatiently.
"Does Jerome Morel, working lapidary, live in this house?"
"Yes, sir," said Mrs. Pipelet, standing at the salute.
"Conduct me to his apartment."'
"Morel, the lapidary!" resumed the portress, quite surprised; "he is
as gentle as a lamb, and incapable of--"
"Does Jerome Morel live here or not?"
"He does live here, sir, with his family, in the attic."
"Show me, then, to this garret."
Then, addressing a man who accompanied him, the magistrate said: "Let
the two municipal guards wait below, and not leave the alley. Send
Justin for a coach." The man left to execute these orders.
"Now," said the magistrate, addressing Pipelet, "conduct me to Morel."
"If it be all the same to you, sir, I will go instead of Alfred, who
is indisposed from the persecution of Cabrion; who, just as cabbage
does, troubles his gizzard."
"You, or your husband, it matters little which--go on." Preceded by
Mrs. Pipelet, he began to ascend the stairs; but he soon stopped,
perceiving that he was followed by Rudolph and Miss Dimpleton.
"Who are you, and what do you want?" demanded he.
"They are the two fourth-floors," said Mrs. Pipelet.
"Pardon me, sir, I did not know that you belonged to the house," said
he, to Rudolph; who, auguring well from the politeness of the
magistrate, said, "You will find a family in great distress, sir. I do
not know what new misfortune menaces the unhappy artisan, but he has
been cruelly tried last night; one of his children, worn out by
illness, is dead beneath his eyes--dead from cold and misery."
"Is it possible?"
"It is the truth," said Mrs. Pipelet. "If it had not been for the
gentleman who now speaks to you, and who is a king of lodgers, for he
has saved, by his goodness, poor Morel from prison, the whole family
of the lapidary must have died from hunger."
The commissary looked at Rudolph with as much interest as surprise.
"Nothing is more simple, sir," said the latter. "A person who is very
charitable, knowing that Morel, to whose worth I pledge my honor, was
in a position as deplorable as it was unmerited, instructed me to pay
a bill of exchange, for which the bailiffs were about to drag to
prison this poor man, the sole support of a large family."
Struck in his turn by the noble appearance of Rudolph, and the dignity
of his manner, the magistrate replied, "I do not doubt the probity of
Morel; I only regret being compelled to fulfill a painful duty before
you, sir, who have shown so lively an interest in this family."
"What can you mean, sir?"
"After the services you have rendered the Morels, and from your
language, I know that you are a worthy man. Having, besides, no reason
to conceal the object of the mandate I am about to execute, I will
acknowledge that I am about to arrest Louise Morel, the lapidary's
The rouleau of gold that she had offered to the bailiffs came to the
mind of Rudolph.
"Of what is she accused?"
"She is accused of infanticide."
"She, she! Oh, her poor father!"
"From what you have told me, sir, I conceive that, under the
circumstances in which the artisan is placed, this new blow will be
terrible for him. Unfortunately I must obey my orders."
"But it is only a simple accusation!" cried Rudolph. "The proofs are
wanting, without doubt?"
"I cannot explain myself further on this subject. The authorities have
been informed of this crime, or rather, the presumption, by the
declarations of a man in every way respectable--the master of Louise
"Jacques Ferrand, the notary," said Rudolph indignantly.
"Yes, sir. But why this vivacity?"
"M. Jacques Ferrand, the notary, is a scoundrel, sir!"
"I see with pain that you do not know of whom you speak. M. Jacques
Ferrand is the most honorable man in the world; of most exemplary
piety, and known probity."
"I repeat to you, sir, that the notary is a scoundrel. He wished to
imprison Morel, because his daughter repulsed his infamous
propositions. If Louise is only accused on the testimony of such a
man--acknowledge, sir, that it merits but little belief."
"It does not belong to me, sir, and it does not become me, to discuss
the value of the testimony of M. Ferrand," said the officer coldly.
"Justice has taken cognizance of the affair; the tribunals will
decide. As to me, I have orders to arrest Louise Morel, and I shall do
"You are right, sir. I regret that a movement of indignation, perhaps
legitimate, has made me forget that this is neither the time nor place
for such a discussion. One word alone: the body of the child he has
lost is in the garret. I have offered my room to this family, to spare
them the sad sight of the corpse; hence it is, probably, in my chamber
you will find the artisan and his daughter. I conjure you, sir, in the
name of humanity, do not arrest Louise suddenly in the midst of these
misfortunes. Morel has gone through so many shocks this night, that
his reason will give way: his wife is also dangerously sick--such a
blow will kill her. If you will permit me, I'll ask you a favor. This
is what I propose. The young girl who follows us with the door-keeper
occupies a room adjoining mine; I do not doubt but that she will place
it at your disposal. You can at first send for Louise; then, if it
must be, for Morel, that his daughter may bid him farewell. You will
at least spare a poor, sick, and infirm mother a heart-rending scene.
"If this can be arranged so, sir, willingly."
The conversation had taken place in an undertone, while Rigolette and
Mrs. Pipelet held themselves discreetly at some distance off.
Rudolph descended, and said to the former: "My poor neighbor, I must
ask another favor; you must let me have your room at my disposal for
"As long as you please, M. Rudolph. You have my key. But, what is the
"I will tell you directly. This is not all: you must be kind enough to
return to the Temple to tell them to delay sending home our purchases
for an hour." "Willingly, M. Rudolph; but is there a new misfortune
happened to the Morels?"
"Alas! yes; you will know it only too soon."
"Come, neighbor, I fly to the Temple. I, thanks to you, thought them
out of trouble," said the grisette, descending rapidly the stairs.
Rudolph wished to spare Rigolette the sad spectacle of the arrest of
Louise. "Officer," said Mrs. Pipelet, "since my prince of lodgers
accompanies you, I can go and find Alfred. He alarms me: he has hardly
recovered from his attack of--Cabrion."
"Go--go!" said the magistrate; who remained alone with Rudolph. Both
arrived on the landing place of the fourth, opposite the door of the
room where the artisan and his family were temporarily placed.
Suddenly this door was opened. Louise, pale and weeping, came out
quickly. "Adieu, adieu! father," cried she; "I will return--I must go
"Louise, my child, listen to me, then," answered Morel, following his
daughter, and trying to detain her.
At the sight of Rudolph and the magistrate they remained immovable.
"Ah, sir! you, our savior," said the artisan, recognizing Rudolph;
"aid me to prevent Louise from going. I do not know what is the matter
with her, she makes me afraid; she wishes to go away. Is it not so,
sir, that she must not return any more to her master? Did you not say,
'Louise shall quit you no more--this shall be your recompense'? Oh! at
this delightful promise, I avow it, for a moment I have forgotten the
death of my poor little Adele; but to be separated from you, Louise,
Rudolph felt himself overcome; be had not strength to utter a word.
The officer said severely to Louise, "Are you Louise Morel?"
"Yes, sir!" answered the young girl, amazed. Rudolph had opened the
chamber of Rigolette.
"You are Jerome Morel, her father?" added the magistrate addressing
"Yes, sir! but--"
"Enter there with your daughter." And the magistrate pointed to the
chamber of Rigolette, where Rudolph already was. Reassured by his
presence, the artisan and Louise, astonished and troubled, obeyed; the
officer shut the door, and said to Morel, with emotion, "I know your
honesty and misfortunes; it is, then, with regret I inform you that,
in the name of the law, I come to arrest your daughter."
"All is discovered--I am lost!" cried Louise, throwing herself in the
arms of her father.
"What do you say? what do you say?" said Morel, stupefied. "Are you
mad? why lost? arrest you! why arrest you? who will arrest you?"
"I--in the name of the law!" and the officer showed his scarf.
"Oh, unfortunate! unfortunate that I am!" cried Louise, falling on her
"How, in the name of the law?" said the artisan, whose mind began to
wander; "why arrest my daughter in the name of the law? I answer for
Louise, I--she is my daughter, my worthy daughter--is it not true,
Louise? How arrest you, when our guardian angel restores you to us, to
console us for the death of my little Adele? Come now! it cannot be!
And besides, sir, speaking with respect, only criminals are arrested,
do you understand--and Louise, my daughter, is not a criminal. Very
sure, do you see, my child, this gentleman is mistaken. My name is
Morel; there are more Morels than me. You are Louise--but there are
more of the same name. That's it, you see, sir; there is a mistake!"
"Unfortunately, there is no mistake! Louise Morel, say farewell to
"You carry away my daughter, will you?" cried the workman, furious
from grief, and advancing toward the magistrate with a threatening
Rudolph seized him by the arm, and said, "Calm yourself, and hope;
your daughter shall be returned to you--her innocence shall be proved;
she is doubtless not culpable."
"Of what? she can be culpable of nothing. I would place my hand in the
fire that"--then recollecting the gold that Louise had brought to pay
the note, Morel cried, "But that money, that money, Louise?" and he
cast on his daughter a terrible look.
Louise understood it. "I steal!" cried she, and the cheeks colored
with generous indignation. Her tone of voice, her gesture, satisfied
"I knew it!" he cried. "Do you see, sir--she denies it--and never in
her life has she lied, I swear to you. Ask every one who knows her,
and they will say the same. She lie? she is too proud for that.
Besides, the bill was paid by our benefactor. She don't want gold; she
was going to return it to the person who lent it, wasn't you, Louise?"
"Your daughter is not accused of theft," said the magistrate.
"But of what is she accused, then? I, her father, swear that, whatever
she is accused of, she is innocent; and all my life I have never
"What good will it do to know what she is accused of?" said Rudolph to
him; "her innocence shall be proven--the person who interests herself
so much in you will protect your daughter. Come, come. This time,
again, Providence will not fail you. Embrace your daughter--you will
soon see her again."
"M. le Commissaire," cried Morel, without listening to Rudolph, "a
daughter is not taken away from a father without at least telling him
of what she is accused! I wish to know all! Louise, will you speak?"
"Your daughter is accused--of infanticide," said the magistrate.
"I--I--do not comprehend--I--you--"
"Your daughter is accused of having killed her child," said the
officer, much overcome at this scene.
"But it is not yet proved that she has committed this crime."
"Oh, no, it is not so, sir, it is not so," cried Louise, with force,
and raising herself up: "I swear to you it was dead. It breathed no
more; it was frozen; I lost all consciousness; that is my crime. But
kill my child, oh, never!"
"Your child, wretch!" cried Morel, raising his hands to Louise, as if
he wished to annihilate her with this gesture and terrible
"Pardon, father, pardon!" cried she.
After a moment of frightful silence, Morel went on with a calmness
still more frightful.
"Sir, take away this creature; she is not my child."
He wished to go out; Louise threw herself at his knees, which she
embraced with both arms, and, with face upward, frantic and
supplicating, she cried, "Father, listen to me, only listen to me."
"Officer, take her away, I abandon her to you," said the artisan,
making every effort to disengage himself from the embraces of Louise.
"Listen to her," said Rudolph, stopping him; "do not be now without
"She, she!" repeated Morel, burying his face in his hands, "she
dishonored! oh! infamous, infamous!"
"Is she dishonored to save you?" whispered Rudolph.
These words made a startling impression on Morel; he looked at his
weeping child, still kneeling at his feet, then, interrogating her
with a look impossible to describe, he cried in a hollow voice, his
teeth grinding with rage, "The notary!"
An answer came to the lips of Louise. She was about to speak, but, on
reflection, she stopped, bent her head, and remained silent.
"But no--he wished to imprison me this morning," continued Morel; "it
is not he? oh, so much the better! so much the better. She has no
excuse for her fault; I can curse her without remorse."
"No, no! do not curse me, my father; to you I will tell all; to you
alone; and you will see--you will see if I do not deserve your
"Listen to her for the sake of pity," said Rudolph.
"What can she tell me? her infamy? it will soon be public; I will
"Sir!" cried Louise to the magistrate, "in mercy let me say a few
words to my father before leaving him, perhaps forever. And before you
also, our savior, I will speak, but only before you and my father."
"I consent," said the magistrate.
"Will you, then, be insensible? will you refuse this last consolation
to your child?" asked Rudolph. "If you think you owe me some return
for the favors I have directed toward you, grant the prayer of your
After a moment of mournful silence, Morel answered, "Let us go."
"But where shall we go?" asked Rudolph; "your family is in the next
"Where shall we go?" cried the artisan, with bitter irony, "where
shall we go? up there--up there, in the garret, alongside of the body
of my child. The place is well chosen for this confession--is it not?
Come--we will see if Louise will dare to lie in the sight of her
sister. Come!" Morel went out precipitately, with a wild stare,
without looking at Louise."
"Sir," whispered the officer to Rudolph, "do not prolong this
interview. You said truly, his reason will not sustain it; just now
his look was that of a madman."
"Alas! sir, I fear, like you, a terrible and new misfortune: I will
shorten as much as possible the touching adieus." And Rudolph rejoined
the artisan and his daughter.
Dark and gloomy spectacle.
In the garret reposed, on the couch of the idiot, the corpse of the
little child. An old piece of sheet covered it. Rudolph standing with
his back to the wall, was painfully affected. Morel, seated on his
work-bench, his head down, hands hanging; his looks, fixed, wild, were
constantly bent on the bed where reposed the remains of the little
At this sight, the anger, the indignation of the artisan became
weaker, and changed into a sadness of inexpressible bitterness; his
energy abandoned him--he sunk under this new blow. Louise, of a mortal
paleness, felt her strength fail her. The revelation that she was
about to make frightened her. Yet she took tremblingly the hand of her
father--that poor, thin hand, deformed by excess of labor.
He did not withdraw it. Then his daughter, bursting into tears,
covered it with kisses, and soon felt it press lightly against her
The anger of Morel had ceased; his tears, for a long time retained,
flowed at last. "My father, if you knew--if you knew how much I am to
"Oh! stop; you see, this will be the grief of all my life, Louise--of
all my life," answered the artisan, weeping. "You in prison--in the
dock--you, so proud-when you had the right to be so. No," continued
he, in a new access of desperate grief, "no, I should prefer to seeing
you under the winding-sheet, alongside your poor little sister."
"And I, also, wish it were so," answered Louise.
"Hush, unfortunate child, you give me pain. I was wrong to say that; I
went too far. Come, speak, but tell the truth. However frightful it
may be, tell me all. If I hear it from you, it will appear less cruel
to me. Speak; alas! our moments are counted; you are waited for. Oh!
the sad, sad parting."
"My father, I will tell you all," said Louise, resolutely; "but
promise me, and you, our benefactor, promise also, not to repeat this
to any one. If he knew that I had spoken, do you see--oh! you would be
lost--lost like me; for you do not know the power and ferocity of this
"Of what man?"
"Yes," said Louise, in a low tone, and looking around her, as if she
were afraid of being overheard.
"Compose yourself," answered Rudolph. "This man is cruel and powerful,
but no matter; we will face him. Besides, if I reveal what you are
about to tell us, it will be only in your interest or in that of your
"And, Louise, if I speak, it will be to try to save you. But what has
this wicked man done?"
"This is not all," said Louise, after a moment's reflection; "this sad
tale concerns some one who has rendered me a great service--who has
been for my father and family full of kindness--this person was
employed at M. Ferrand's when I went; I have sworn not to mention the
"If you mean Francois Germain, be easy; his secret will be kept by
your father and myself," said Rudolph.
Louise looked at Rudolph with surprise.
"You know him?" said she.
"The good and excellent young man who lived here for three months, and
was employed at the notary's when you went there?" said Morel. "The
first time you saw him here you appeared not to know him."
"That was agreed upon between us. He had grave reasons to conceal that
he worked for M. Ferrand. It was I who told him of the chamber on the
fourth story, knowing he would be a good neighbor for you."
"But," said Rudolph, "who placed your daughter with the notary?"
"When my wife was taken sick, I had said to Madame Burette, the
pawnbroker, who lives in this house, that Louise wished to go to
service to aid us. Madame Burette knew the housekeeper of the notary;
she gave me a letter to her, in which she strongly recommended Louise.
Cursed--cursed be that letter; it has caused all our misfortunes. So,
sir, this is the way my daughter went there."
"Although I am informed of some of the facts which have caused the
hatred of M. Ferrand toward your father," said Rudolph to Louise, "I
beg you will relate to me in a few words what passed between you and
the notary since you entered his service. This may serve to defend
"During the first months of my stay at M. Ferrand's I had no reason to
complain of him. I had much work to do; the housekeeper was often very
rough toward me; the house was gloomy; but I endured all with
patience; servitude is servitude, otherwise I should have had other
disagreements. M. Ferrand had a stern look. He went to mass; he often
received priests. I did not mistrust him. At first he hardly looked at
me. He spoke very cross to me; above all, in the presence of
"Except the porter who lodged on the street, in the building where the
office is, I was the only domestic with Mrs. Seraphin, the
housekeeper. The building we occupied was an old isolated ruin,
between the court and garden. My chamber was quite up to the top. Very
often I was afraid to remain alone all the evening, either in the
kitchen, which was underground, or in my chamber. In the night, I
sometimes thought I heard extraordinary noises in the room under mine,
which no one occupied, and where M. Germain alone often came to work
during the day. Two of the windows of this story were walled up, and
one of the doors, very thick, was strengthened with bars of iron. The
housekeeper told me afterward that M. Ferrand kept his strong box
"One night I had sat up very late to finish some mending, which was
very urgent; I was about to go to bed, when I heard some one walking
very softly in the corridor at the end of which was my chamber: they
stopped at my door; at first I thought it was the housekeeper, but as
she did not come in, it made me afraid; I dared not stir; I listened,
no one stirred; I was, however, sure there was some one behind the
door; I asked twice who was there--no one answered. More and more
alarmed, I pushed my chest of drawers against the door, which had
neither lock nor bolt. I still listened--nothing stirred; at the end
of half-an-hour, which appeared very long, I threw myself on my bed;
the night passed tranquilly. The next morning I asked the housekeeper
for permission to put a bolt on my door, as there was no lock,
relating to her my fears of the last night; she answered that I had
dreamed, that I must speak to M. Ferrand about it; at my demand he
shrugged his shoulders, and told me I was a fool. I did not dare to
say anything more.
"Some time after this happened the affair of the diamond. My father,
almost desperate, knew not what to do. I related his trouble to Mrs.
Seraphin; she answered, 'M. Ferrand is so charitable that perhaps he
will do something for your father.' The same evening I waited on
table; M. Ferrand said to me, bluntly, 'Your father has need of
thirteen hundred francs; go this night and tell him to come to my
office to-morrow; he shall have the money. He is an honest man, and
deserves that one should interest himself for him.' At this act of
kindness I burst into tears; I did not know how to thank my master. He
said to me, in his ordinary rough manner, 'It is well, it is well;
what I have done is very simple." In the evening I came to tell the
good news to my father, and the next day----"
"I had the money, against a bill at three months' date, accepted in
blank by me," said Morel. "I did like Louise; I wept with gratitude: I
called him my benefactor. Oh! he must needs have been wicked indeed to
destroy the gratitude and veneration I vowed to him."
"This precaution to make you sign a bill in blank, at such a date that
you could not pay it, did not awaken your suspicions?" asked Rudolph.
[Illustration: THE ARRIVAL OF THE SOLDIERS]
"No, sir, I thought that the notary only took it for security;
besides, he told me I need not think of paying it under two years;
every three months it should be renewed for the sake of being regular;
yet, at the end of the first term, it was presented, and not being
paid, he obtained a judgment against me under another name; but he
told me not to be troubled, that it was an error of his clerk."
"He wished thus to have you in his power," said Rudolph.
"Alas! yes, sir; for it was from the date of his judgment he began to--but
continue, Louise, continue: I do not know where I am. My head
turns. I shall become mad; it is too much--too much!"
Rudolph soothed him, and Louise continued: "I redoubled my zeal to
show my gratitude. The housekeeper then held me in great aversion; she
often placed me in the wrong by not repeating the orders that M.
Ferrand gave her for me; I suffered from this, and would have
preferred another place, but the obligation of my father to my master
prevented my leaving. It was now three months since he had lent the
money; he continued to scold me before Mrs. Seraphin, yet he looked at
me sometimes behind her back in such a manner as to embarrass me, and
he smiled in seeing me blush."
"You comprehend, sir, he was then about to obtain a judgment against
"One day," continued Louise, "the housekeeper went out after dinner,
as was her custom; the clerks had left the office; they lodged
elsewhere. M. Ferrand sent the porter on an errand; I remained in the
house alone with my master; I was working in the ante-chamber; he rang
for me. I entered his room; he was standing before the fireplace; I
drew near; he turned quickly, and took me by the arm. I was alarmed. I
ran into the ante-chamber, and shut the door, holding it with all my
strength; the key was on his side."
"You understand, sir. You hear," said Morel to Rudolph, "the conduct
of this worthy benefactor."
"At the end of a few moments the door yielded to his efforts,"
continued Louise. "I blew out the light--he called me. I made no
answer. He then said, in a voice trembling with rage, 'If you resist,
I will send your father to prison for the money he owes and cannot
pay.' I begged him to have pity on me; promised to do everything I
could to serve him, and show my gratitude, but I declared nothing
could induce me to degrade myself."
"Yes; this is the language of Louise," said Morel, "of my Louise, when
she had the right to be proud. But now? Continue--continue."
* * * * * * *
"The next morning after this scene, in spite of the threats of my
master, I came here and told my father all. He wished to make me leave
the house at once--but there was the prison. The little that I earned
was indispensable to the family, since the illness of my mother; and
the bad character which M. Ferrand threatened to give me would prevent
my seeking or obtaining another place for a long time, perhaps."
"Yes," said Morel, with great bitterness, "we had the cowardice, the
selfishness, to let our child return there. Oh! poverty, poverty! how
many crimes it causes to be committed!"
"Alas! father! did you not try all means to obtain the money? That
being impossible, we had to submit."
"Go on, go on, continue. Your parents have been your executioners; we
are guiltier than you are," said the artisan, concealing his face in
"When I saw my master again," said Louise, "he acted toward me as
usual, cross and harshly; he said not a word of the past; the
housekeeper continued to torment me; she hardly gave me enough to eat,
locked up the bread; sometimes, out of wickedness, she would defile
the remains of the dinner before my eyes, for she always ate with
Ferrand. At night I hardly slept. I feared at each moment to see the
notary enter my room! He had taken away the drawers with which I had
barricaded my door; there only remained a chair, a little table, and
my trunk; I always retired to bed dressed. For some time he left me
tranquil; he did not even look at me. I began to be at ease, thinking
that he thought no more of me. One Sunday he allowed me to go out; I
came to announce this good news to my parents. We were all very happy!
It is up to this moment you have known all. What remains to tell," and
the voice of Louise trembled, "is frightful! I have always concealed
it from you."
"Oh, I was very sure of it--very sure that you concealed a secret from
me," cried Morel, with a kind of wandering, and a singular volubility
of expression which astonished Rudolph. "Your pallor and expression
should have enlightened me. A hundred times I have spoken to your
mother; but she always repelled me. Look at us well! look at us! To
escape a prison, we leave our daughter at this monster's. And where
does our child go to? To the dock! Because one is poor--yes--but the
others--the others." Then, stopping as if to collect his thoughts,
Morel struck himself on the forehead, and cried, "Stop, I do not know
what I say. My head pains dreadfully. It seems to me I am drunk." And
he concealed his face in his hands.
Rudolph, not wishing to let Louise see how much he was alarmed at the
incoherent language of her father, said, gravely, "You are not just,
Morel; it was not for herself alone, but for her mother, for her
children, for yourself, that your poor wife feared the consequences of
Louise leaving the notary. Accuse no one. Let all the maledictions,
all your hatred, fall on one man--this monster of hypocrisy, who
placed a girl between dishonor and ruin; the death, perhaps, of her
father and his family; on this master, who abused in an infamous
manner his power as a master. But, patience; I have told you
Providence often reserves for great crimes a surprising and frightful
The words of Rudolph were stamped with such force and conviction, in
speaking of this providential vengeance, that Louise looked at him
with surprise, almost with fear.
"Continue, my child," said he: "conceal nothing; this is more
important than you think."
"I began, then, to feel some security," said Louise, "when one night
Ferrand and his housekeeper both went out, each their own way. They
did not dine at home; I remained alone. As usual, they left me some
bread and water, and wine. My work finished, I dined; and then,
fearing to remain alone in the apartments, I went up to my own room,
after having lighted M. Ferrand's lamp. When he went out at night no
one waited for him. I began to sew, and, what was very unusual, by
degrees, sleep overpowered me. Oh, father," cried Louise, "you will
not believe me--you will accuse me of falsehood; and yet, on the
corpse of my little sister, I swear I tell you the truth."
"Explain yourself," said Rudolph.
"Alas! sir, for seven months I sought in vain to explain to myself
this frightful night. I have almost lost my reason in trying to
explore this mystery."
"Oh!" cried the artisan, "what is she going to say?"
"Contrary to my custom, I fell asleep on my chair," continued Louise.
"That is the last thing I recollect. Before--before--oh, father,
pardon! I swear to you I am not culpable."
"I believe you, I believe you; but speak!"
"I do not know how long I slept; when I awoke I was still in my
* * * * * * *
"Oh! the wretch, the wretch," cried Rudolph. "Do you know, Morel, what
he gave her to drink?" The artisan looked at Rudolph, but made no
reply. "The housekeeper, his accomplice, had put in the drink of
Louise a soporific--opium, without doubt; the strength, the senses of
your child have been paralyzed for some hours; when she awoke from
this lethargic sleep, the crime was committed."
"Ah! now," cried Louise, "my misfortune is explained; you see, father,
I am less guilty than I appear. Father, father! answer me!"
The look of the artisan was of a frightful vagueness.
Such horrible perversity could not be understood by so honest and
simple-hearted a man. He could hardly comprehend the dreadful
revelation. And, besides, it must be said, that for some moments his
reason had deserted him; at each moment his ideas became more obscure;
then he fell into that vacuity of thought which is to the mind what
night is to the sight: formidable symptoms of mental alienation. Yet
Morel answered, in a quick, dull, and a mournful tone, "Oh! yes, it is
very wicked, very wicked, wicked."
And he fell back into his apathy. Rudolph looked at him with anxiety:
he thought that the intensity of indignation began to be exhausted
with him; the same as after violent griefs tears are often wanting.
Wishing to terminate as soon as possible this sad conversation,
Rudolph said to Louise:
"Courage, my child; finish unveiling this tissue of horrors."
"Alas! sir, what you have heard is nothing as yet."
* * * * * * *
"Ah! all precautions were taken to conceal his enormity!" said
"Yes, sir, and I was ruined. To all that he said to me I could find no
answer. Ignorant what drink I had taken, I could not explain my long
sleep. Appearances were against me. If I complained, every one would
condemn me; it must be so, for to me all was an impenetrable mystery."
Rudolph remained confounded at the detestable villainy of Ferrand.
"Then," said he to Louise, "you did not dare to complain to your
father of the odious conduct of the notary?"
"No, sir; I feared he would have thought me the accomplice instead of
the victim; and besides, I feared that, in his anger, my father would
forget that his liberty, the existence of his family, depended
entirely upon my master."
"And was his conduct less brutal toward you afterward?"
"No, sir. To drive away suspicion, when by chance he had the Cure of
Bonne Nouvelle and his vicar to dinner, my master addressed me before
them with severe reproaches; he prayed the Cure to admonish me; he
said that sooner or later I should be lost; that my manners were too
free with his clerks; that I was idle; that he kept me out of charity
for my father, an honest man with a family, whom he had served. All
this was false. I never saw the clerks; they were in a separate
building from us."
"And when you found yourself alone with M. Ferrand, how did he explain
his conduct toward you before the Cure?
"He assured me that he joked. But the Cure took these accusations for
serious; he told me severely that one must be doubly vicious to act
thus in a holy house, where I had religious examples continually under
my eyes. To that I did not know what to answer; I held down my head,
blushing. My silence, my confusion, turned still more against me; my
life was such a burden that several times I was on the point of
destroying myself; but I thought of my father, my mother, my brothers
and sisters, whom I helped to support. I resigned myself; in the midst
of my degradation I found a consolation--at least my father was saved
from prison. A new misfortune overwhelmed me--I was _enceinte;_ I
saw myself altogether lost. I do not know why, I had a presentiment
that M. Ferrand, in learning an event which should have rendered him
less cruel toward me, would increase his bad treatment; I was,
however, far from supposing what would happen."
Morel recovered from his momentary aberration, looked around him with
astonishment, passed his hand over his face, collected his thoughts,
and said to his daughter, "It seems to me I have forgotten myself for
a moment--fatigue--sorrow. What did you say?"
"When M. Ferrand was informed of my situation--"
The artisan made a movement of despair. Rudolph calmed him with a
"Go on; I will listen to the end," said Morel. "Go on, go on."
Louise resumed:--"I asked M. Ferrand by what means I could conceal my
shame. Interrupting me with indignation, and a feigned surprise, he
pretended not to understand me; he asked me if I were mad; frightened,
I cried, 'But, my God, what do you wish to become of me now? If you
have no pity on me, have at least some pity on your child!' 'What a
horror!' cried he, raising his hands toward heaven. 'How, wretch! You
have the audacity to accuse me of being corrupt enough to descend to a
girl of your class! you have effrontery enough to accuse me!--I, who
have a hundred times repeated before the most respectable witnesses
that you would be ruined, vile wanton. Leave my house this moment--I
thrust you from my door.'"
Rudolph and Morel remained horror-struck; such atrocity overpowered
"Oh! I confess," said Rudolph, "this passes all conception."
Morel said nothing; his eyes became enlarged in a fearful manner: a
convulsive spasm contracted his features; he descended from the bench
where he was seated, opened quickly a drawer, and took out a strong,
very sharp, file, with a wooden handle, and rushed toward the door.
Rudolph, divining his thoughts, seized him by the arm and stopped him.
"Morel, where are you going? You will ruin yourself, unfortunate man."
"Take care!" cried the artisan, furiously struggling; "I shall commit
two crimes instead of one!" and the madman threatened Rudolph.
"Father, it is our savior!" cried Louise.
"He is mocking us! bah, bah! he wishes to save the notary!" answered
Morel, completely wild, and contending with Rudolph. At the end of a
second, he succeeded in disarming him, opened the door, and threw the
instrument on the staircase.
Louise ran to the artisan, held him in her arms, and said, "Father, he
is our benefactor; you have raised your hand on him; come to
These words recalled Morel to himself; he covered his face with his
hands, and, without saying a word, he fell at Rudolph's feet.
"Rise, unfortunate father!" said Rudolph kindly. "Patience, patience;
I understand your fury, I partake of your hatred; but, in the name
even of your vengeance, do not compromise it."
"Good heavens!" cried the artisan, raising himself up. "What can
justice--law--do in such a case? Poor as we are, when we go and accuse
the powerful, rich, and respected man, they will laugh in our face--
ah, ah, ah!" and he laughed convulsively. "And they will be right.
Where are our proofs--yes, our proofs? They will not believe us.
Therefore, I tell you," cried he, in another storm of madness, "I tell
you I have no confidence but in the impartiality of the knife!"
"Silence, Morel; grief makes you wander," said Rudolph suddenly. "Let
your daughter speak; moments are precious--the magistrate waits; I
must know all--I tell you, all. Continue, my child."
"It is useless, sir," said Louise, "to speak to you of my tears, my
prayers. I was disregarded. This took place at ten o'clock in the
morning, in the cabinet of M. Ferrand. The priest was to breakfast
with him that morning; he entered at the moment my master was loading
me with reproaches and outrages. He appeared much vexed at the sight
of the priest."
"And what did he say then?"
"He soon made up his mind what course to pursue; he cried, pointing to
me, 'Well, reverend sir, I said truly that this creature would be
ruined. She is lost--lost forever; she has just acknowledged to me her
fault and her shame, begging me to save her. And to think that I,
through pity, have received such a wretch into my house.' 'How,' said
the priest to me, with indignation, 'in spite of the salutary counsels
which your master has given you so often before me, you have thus
degraded yourself? Oh, this is unpardonable. My friend, after the
kindness you have shown her and her family, pity would be a weakness.
Be inexorable,' said the priest, a dupe, like everybody else, of the
hypocrisy of M. Ferrand."
"And you did not at once unmask the scoundrel?" said Rudolph.
"I was terrified, my head turned; I dared not, I could not pronounce a
word, yet I wished to speak, to defend myself. 'But, sir'--I cried.
'Not a word more, unworthy creature!' said M. Ferrand, interrupting
me. 'You have heard the worthy priest: pity would be weakness. In an
hour, you leave my house!' Then, without giving me time to answer, he
led the priest into another room.
"After the departure of M. Ferrand," continued Louise, "I was for a
moment, as it were, delirious. I saw myself driven from his house, not
able to get another place, on account of my situation and the bad
character my master would give me. I did not doubt but that in his
anger he would imprison my father; I did not know what would become of
me. I went for refuge and to weep, to my chamber. At the end of two
hours M. Ferrand appeared. 'Is your trunk ready?' said he. 'Have
mercy!' I cried, falling at his feet 'Do not send me away in the state
in which I am; what will become of me? I can find no other place.' 'So
much the better; God will thus punish your conduct and your lies.' 'You
dare to say that I lie!' cried I indignantly; 'you dare to say you
are not the cause of my ruin?' 'Leave my house at once, you infamous
creature, since you persist in your calumnies!' cried he, in a
terrible voice. 'And to punish you, to-morrow I will imprison your
father.' 'Well--no, no!' said I, aghast; 'I will accuse you no longer,
sir--I promise it; but do not drive me away--have pity on my father;
the little that I earn here supports my family. Keep me here--I will
say nothing--I will conceal everything as long as I can, and then--you
can send me away.'
"After renewed supplications, M. Ferrand consented to my prayers: I
regarded it as a great favor, so frightful was my condition. Yet, for
the five months which followed this cruel scene, I was very unhappy,
very cruelly treated. Sometimes only M. Germain, whom I saw but
seldom, interrogated me with kindness on the subject of my sorrows;
but shame forbade my confession."
"Is it not about this time that he came to live here?"
"Yes, sir. He wished for a room near the Temple or the Arsenal; there
was one to be let here, it suited him."
"And you never thought of confiding your sorrows to M. Germain?" asked
"No, sir; he was also a dupe of M. Ferrand's; he said he was hard and
exacting, but he thought him the most honest man in the world. I
passed these five months in tears, in continual agony. With care, I
had concealed my situation from all eyes, but I could hope to do so no
longer. The future was for me most dreadful; M. Ferrand had declared
he would not keep me any longer with him. I was thus about to be
deprived of the small resource that aided our family to live. Cursed,
driven away by my father--for, after the falsehoods that I had told
him to dissipate his suspicions, he would not believe me to be the
victim of M. Ferrand--what was to become of me? where was I to fly?
where to find a refuge? I had then a very wicked idea. I confess this,
sir, because I wish to conceal nothing, even that which may cast
suspicion on me, and also to show you to what an extremity I was
reduced by the cruelty of M. Ferrand. If I had yielded to a fatal
thought, would he not have been an accomplice of my crime?"
After a moment's silence, Louise resumed, with an effort, and in a
trembling voice, "I had heard from the portress that a quack lived in
the house--and--" She could not finish.
Rudolph remembered that at his first call on Mrs. Pipelet he had
received from the postman, in her absence, a letter written on coarse
paper, in a disguised hand, and on which he had remarked the traces of
tears. "And you did write him, unhappy child, three days since? On
this letter you have wept; your writing was disguised."
Louise looked at Rudolph with affright. "How do you know, sir?"
"Calm yourself. I was alone in the lodge of Mrs. Pipelet when this
letter was handed in, and it was my chance to receive it."
"Yes, sir; in this letter, without signature, I wrote to M.
Bradamanti, that, not daring to come to him, I begged he would meet me
that evening near the Château dead. I was half crazy. I wished to ask
his fearful advice. I left my master's house to meet him; but my
reason returned. I regained the house; I did not see him. Thus the
scene took place, from the consequences of which I am now suffering--
M. Ferrand believing me gone out for two hours, while after a very
short time I returned."
"In pacing before the little door of the garden, to my great
astonishment I saw it open. I entered that way, and I carried the key
to the cabinet of M. Ferrand, where it was ordinarily kept. This was,
next to his bed-chamber, the most retired place in the house: it was
there he gave his secret audiences. You will see, sir, why I give you
these details. Knowing all the ways of the house very well, after
having crossed the dining-room, which was lighted, I entered into the
saloon in the dark, then to the cabinet, as I said before. The door of
his chamber opened at the moment I placed the key on the table. Hardly
had my master perceived me by the light which was burning in his
chamber, than he closed the door quickly on a person whom I could not
see. Then he threw himself on me, seized me by the throat as if he
wished to strangle me, and said to me in a low tone, at once furious
and alarmed, 'You were spying; you listened at the door; what did you
hear? Answer, answer! or I'll strangle you.' But changing his mind,
without giving me time to say a word, he pushed me backward into the
dining-room. The office was open; he threw me into it brutally, and
locked the door."
"And you heard nothing of his conversation?"
"Nothing, sir: if I had known he had anybody in the room, I should
have taken care not to have entered the cabinet; he forbade even Mrs.
Seraphin to do so."
"And when you came out of the office, what did he say to you?"
"It was the housekeeper who came to conduct me, and I did not see him
again that night. The alarm I had experienced had made me very ill.
The next morning, as I came downstairs, I met M. Ferrand. I shuddered
in thinking of his threats of the evening previous; what was my
surprise when he said to me, almost calmly, 'You know I forbid any one
to come into my cabinet when I have some one in my chamber; but for
the short time that you have to remain here, it is useless to scold
any more,' and he passed into his office. This moderation surprised
me, after the violence of the previous evening. I went on with my
usual duties; I went to put in order his sleeping apartment. In
arranging some clothes in a dark closet near the alcove, I was
suddenly taken very ill; I felt that I was about to faint. In falling,
I grasped at a cloak which was hanging against the wall. I dragged it
along with me; it covered me completely as I lay upon the floor. When
I came to myself, the glass door of this closet was shut. I heard the
voice of M. Ferrand. He spoke very loud. Recollecting the scene of the
previous evening, I thought myself killed if I stirred. I supposed
that, concealed under the mantle which had fallen on me, my master, in
shutting the door, had not perceived me. If he discovered me, how
could I make him believe that my presence was accidental? I held my
breath, and, in spite of myself, I heard the end of this conversation,
which doubtless had been commenced for some time."
"Who was the person who was talking with him?" asked Rudolph.
"I am ignorant, sir; I did not know the voice."
"And what did they say?"
"The conversation had lasted for some time, doubtless, for this is all
I heard. 'Nothing can be plainer,' said this unknown voice. 'A queer
fish, called Bras-Rouge (Red-Arm), a determined smuggler, has brought
me, for the affair I have just spoken about, in connection with a
family of fresh-water pirates, who are established at the point of a
little island near Aspires. They are the greatest bandits in the land;
the father and grandfather have both been guillotined, two of the sons
are to the galleys for life; but the mother, three sons, and two
daughters are left, all as great villains one as the other. It is said
that at night, to rob on both sides of the Seine, they come down in
their boats sometimes as far as Barky. They are folks who will kill
the first comer for a crown; but we have no need of them; it suffices
if they will give hospitality to your country lady. The Martial (the
name of my pirates) will pass in her eyes for an honest family of
fishermen. I will go on your account, and make two or three visits to
your young lady; I will order her certain potions, and at the end of
eight days she will make acquaintance with Aspires Cemetery. In the
villages, a death passes like a letter through the post-office, while
at Paris they scrutinize too closely. But when will you send your
country girl to the island, so that I can advise the Martial what part
they have to play?' 'She will arrive to-morrow, and the day after she
will be there,' answered Ferrand; 'and I will inform her that the
Doctor Vincent will take care of her on my account.' 'Agreed for the
name of Vincent,' said the voice; 'I like that as well as any other.'"
"What is this new mystery of crime and infamy?" said Rudolph, more and
"New? no, sir; you will see that it has reference to a crime that you
do know," answered Louise; and she continued, "I heard the movement of
chairs; the conversation was at an end. 'I do not ask you to be
secret,' said M. Ferrand; 'you hold me as I hold you.' 'That proves
that we can serve, but never injure one another,' answered the voice;
'see my zeal. I received your letter last night at ten o'clock; this
morning I am here. Farewell, accomplice; do not forget the Island of
Asnieres, the fisher Martial, and Dr. Vincent. Thanks to these three
magical words, your country girl has only eight days left.' 'Stop,'
said M. Ferrand, 'while I go and unbolt the door of my cabinet, and
see if there is any one in the ante-chamber, that you may go out by
the garden, as you came in.' M. Ferrand went out a moment, and then
returned, and finally I heard him go off with the unknown person. You
may imagine my alarm, sir, during this conversation, and my horror at
knowing such a secret. Two hours after this conversation, Mrs.
Seraphin came to seek me in my chamber, where I had gone more
trembling and sick than I had yet been. 'M. Ferrand wants you,' said
she; 'you have more good luck than you deserve; come, descend. You are
very pale; what you are going to learn will give you more color.'
"I followed Mrs. Seraphin; M. Ferrand was in his cabinet. At seeing
him, I shuddered in spite of myself; yet he had a less wicked look