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  • 1843
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the genii, as the janissary to the Sultan, as the soul to the body. I will sustain you in the way to power with a strong hand; and at the same time I promise that your life shall be a continual course of pleasure, honors, and enjoyment. You shall never want for money. You shall shine, you shall go bravely in the eyes of the world; while I, crouching in the mud, will lay a firm foundation for the brilliant edifice of your fortunes. For I love power for its own sake. I shall always rejoice in your enjoyment, forbidden to me. In short, my self shall become your self! Well, if a day should come when this pact between man and the tempter, this agreement between the child and the diplomatist should no longer suit your ideas, you can still look about for some quiet spot, like that pool of which you were speaking, and drown yourself; you will only be as you are now, or a little more or a little less wretched and dishonored.”

“This is not like the Archbishop of Granada’s homily,” said Lucien as they stopped to change horses.

“Call this concentrated education by what name you will, my son, for you are my son, I adopt you henceforth, and shall make you my heir; it is the Code of ambition. God’s elect are few and far between. There is no choice, you must bury yourself in the cloister (and there you very often find the world again in miniature) or accept the Code.”

“Perhaps it would be better not to be so wise,” said Lucien, trying to fathom this terrible priest.

“What!” rejoined the canon. “You begin to play before you know the rules of the game, and now you throw it up just as your chances are best, and you have a substantial godfather to back you! And you do not even care to play a return match? You do not mean to say that you have no mind to be even with those who drove you from Paris?”

Lucien quivered; the sounds that rang through every nerve seemed to come from some bronze instrument, some Chinese gong.

“I am only a poor priest,” returned his mentor, and a grim expression, dreadful to behold, appeared for a moment on a face burned to a copper-red by the sun of Spain, “I am only a poor priest; but if I had been humiliated, vexed, tormented, betrayed, and sold as you have been by the scoundrels of whom you have told me, I should do like an Arab of the desert–I would devote myself body and soul to vengeance. I might end by dangling from a gibbet, garroted, impaled, guillotined in your French fashion, I should not care a rap; but they should not have my head until I had crushed my enemies under my heel.”

Lucien was silent; he had no wish to draw the priest out any further.

“Some are descended from Cain and some from Abel,” the canon concluded; “I myself am of mixed blood–Cain for my enemies, Abel for my friends. Woe to him that shall awaken Cain! After all, you are a Frenchman; I am a Spaniard, and, what is more, a canon.”

“What a Tartar!” thought Lucien, scanning the protector thus sent to him by Heaven.

There was no sign of the Jesuit, nor even of the ecclesiastic, about the Abbe Carlos Herrera. His hands were large, he was thick-set and broad-chested, evidently he possessed the strength of a Hercules; his terrific expression was softened by benignity assumed at will; but a complexion of impenetrable bronze inspired feelings of repulsion rather than attachment for the man.

The strange diplomatist looked somewhat like a bishop, for he wore powder on his long, thick hair, after the fashion of the Prince de Talleyrand; a gold cross, hanging from a strip of blue ribbon with a white border, indicated an ecclesiastical dignitary. The outlines beneath the black silk stockings would not have disgraced an athlete. The exquisite neatness of his clothes and person revealed an amount of care which a simple priest, and, above all, a Spanish priest, does not always take with his appearance. A three-cornered hat lay on the front seat of the carriage, which bore the arms of Spain.

In spite of the sense of repulsion, the effect made by the man’s appearance was weakened by his manner, fierce and yet winning as it was; he evidently laid himself out to please Lucien, and the winning manner became almost coaxing. Yet Lucien noticed the smallest trifles uneasily. He felt that the moment of decision had come; they had reached the second stage beyond Ruffec, and the decision meant life or death.

The Spaniard’s last words vibrated through many chords in his heart, and, to the shame of both, it must be said that all that was worst in Lucien responded to an appeal deliberately made to his evil impulses, and the eyes that studied the poet’s beautiful face had read him very clearly. Lucien beheld Paris once more; in imagination he caught again at the reins of power let fall from his unskilled hands, and he avenged himself! The comparisons which he himself had drawn so lately between the life of Paris and life in the provinces faded from his mind with the more painful motives for suicide; he was about to return to his natural sphere, and this time with a protector, a political intriguer unscrupulous as Cromwell.

“I was alone, now there will be two of us,” he told himself. And then this priest had been more and more interested as he told of his sins one after another. The man’s charity had grown with the extent of his misdoings; nothing had astonished this confessor. And yet, what could be the motive of a mover in the intrigues of kings? Lucien at first was fain to be content with the banal answer–the Spanish are a generous race. The Spaniard is generous! even so the Italian is jealous and a poisoner, the Frenchman fickle, the German frank, the Jew ignoble, and the Englishman noble. Reverse these verdicts and you shall arrive within a reasonable distance of the truth! The Jews have monopolized the gold of the world; they compose _Robert the Devil_, act _Phedre_, sing _William Tell_, give commissions for pictures and build palaces, write _Reisebilder_ and wonderful verse; they are more powerful than ever, their religion is accepted, they have lent money to the Holy Father himself! As for Germany, a foreigner is often asked whether he has a contract in writing, and this is in the smallest matters, so tricky are they in their dealings. In France the spectacle of national blunders has never lacked national applause for the past fifty years; we continue to wear hats which no mortal can explain, and every change of government is made on the express condition that things shall remain exactly as they were before. England flaunts her perfidy in the face of the world, and her abominable treachery is only equaled by her greed. All the gold of two Indies passed through the hands of Spain, and now she has nothing left. There is no country in the world where poison is so little in request as in Italy, no country where manners are easier or more gentle. As for the Spaniard, he has traded largely on the reputation of the Moor.

As the Canon of Toledo returned to the caleche, he had spoken a word to the post-boy. “Drive post-haste,” he said, “and there will be three francs for drink-money for you.” Then, seeing that Lucien hesitated, “Come! come!” he exclaimed, and Lucien took his place again, telling himself that he meant to try the effect of the _argumentum ad hominem_.

“Father,” he began, “after pouring out, with all the coolness in the world, a series of maxims which the vulgar would consider profoundly immoral—-“

“And so they are,” said the priest; “that is why Jesus Christ said that it must needs be that offences come, my son; and that is why the world displays such horror of offences.”

“A man of your stamp will not be surprised by the question which I am about to ask?”

“Indeed, my son, you do not know me,” said Carlos Herrera. “Do you suppose that I should engage a secretary unless I knew that I could depend upon his principles sufficiently to be sure that he would not rob me? I like you. You are as innocent in every way as a twenty-year-old suicide. Your question?”

“Why do you take an interest in me? What price do you set on my obedience? Why should you give me everything? What is your share?”

The Spaniard looked at Lucien, and a smile came over his face.

“Let us wait till we come to the next hill; we can walk up and talk out in the open. The back seat of a traveling carriage is not the place for confidences.”

They traveled in silence for sometime; the rapidity of the movement seemed to increase Lucien’s moral intoxication.

“Here is a hill, father,” he said at last awakening from a kind of dream.

“Very well, we will walk.” The Abbe called to the postilion to stop, and the two sprang out upon the road.

“You child,” said the Spaniard, taking Lucien by the arm, “have you ever thought over Otway’s _Venice Preserved_? Did you understand the profound friendship between man and man which binds Pierre and Jaffier each to each so closely that a woman is as nothing in comparison, and all social conditions are changed?–Well, so much for the poet.”

“So the canon knows something of the drama,” thought Lucien. “Have you read Voltaire?” he asked.

“I have done better,” said the other; “I put his doctrine in practice.”

“You do not believe in God?”

“Come! it is I who am the atheist, is it?” the Abbe said, smiling. “Let us come to practical matters, my child,” he added, putting an arm round Lucien’s waist. “I am forty-six years old, I am the natural son of a great lord; consequently, I have no family, and I have a heart. But, learn this, carve it on that still so soft brain of yours–man dreads to be alone. And of all kinds of isolation, inward isolation is the most appalling. The early anchorite lived with God; he dwelt in the spirit world, the most populous world of all. The miser lives in a world of imagination and fruition; his whole life and all that he is, even his sex, lies in his brain. A man’s first thought, be he leper or convict, hopelessly sick or degraded, is to find another with a like fate to share it with him. He will exert the utmost that is in him, every power, all his vital energy, to satisfy that craving; it is his very life. But for that tyrannous longing, would Satan have found companions? There is a whole poem yet to be written, a first part of _Paradise Lost_; Milton’s poem is only the apology for the revolt.”

“It would be the Iliad of Corruption,” said Lucien.

“Well, I am alone, I live alone. If I wear the priest’s habit, I have not a priest’s heart. I like to devote myself to some one; that is my weakness. That is my life, that is how I came to be a priest. I am not afraid of ingratitude, and I am grateful. The Church is nothing to me; it is an idea. I am devoted to the King of Spain, but you cannot give affection to a King of Spain; he is my protector, he towers above me. I want to love my creature, to mould him, fashion him to my use, and love him as a father loves his child. I shall drive in your tilbury, my boy, enjoy your success with women, and say to myself, ‘This fine young fellow, this Marquis de Rubempre, my creation whom I have brought into this great world, is my very Self; his greatness is my doing, he speaks or is silent with my voice, he consults me in everything.’ The Abbe de Vermont felt thus for Marie-Antoinette.”

“He led her to the scaffold.”

“He did not love the Queen,” said the priest. “HE only loved the Abbe de Vermont.”

“Must I leave desolation behind me?”

“I have money, you shall draw on me.”

“I would do a great deal just now to rescue David Sechard,” said Lucien, in the tone of one who has given up all idea of suicide.

“Say but one word, my son, and by to-morrow morning he shall have money enough to set him free.”

“What! Would you give me twelve thousand francs?”

“Ah! child, do you not see that we are traveling on at the rate of four leagues an hour? We shall dine at Poitiers before long, and there, if you decide to sign the pact, to give me a single proof of obedience, a great proof that I shall require, then the Bordeaux coach shall carry fifteen thousand francs to your sister—-“

“Where is the money?”

The Spaniard made no answer, and Lucien said within himself, “There I had him; he was laughing at me.”

In another moment they took their places. Neither of them said a word. Silently the Abbe groped in the pocket of the coach, and drew out a traveler’s leather pouch with three divisions in it; thence he took a hundred Portuguese moidores, bringing out his large hand filled with gold three times.

“Father, I am yours,” said Lucien, dazzled by the stream of gold.

“Child!” said the priest, and set a tender kiss on Lucien’s forehead. “There is twice as much still left in the bag, besides the money for traveling expenses.”

“And you are traveling alone!” cried Lucien.

“What is that?” asked the Spaniard. “I have more than a hundred thousand crowns in drafts on Paris. A diplomatist without money is in your position of this morning–a poet without a will of his own!”

As Lucien took his place in the caleche beside the so-called Spanish diplomatist, Eve rose to give her child a draught of milk, found the fatal letter in the cradle, and read it. A sudden cold chilled the damps of morning slumber, dizziness came over her, she could not see. She called aloud to Marion and Kolb.

“Has my brother gone out?” she asked, and Kolb answered at once with, “Yes, Montame, pefore tay.”

“Keep this that I am going to tell you a profound secret,” said Eve. “My brother has gone no doubt to make away with himself. Hurry, both of you, make inquiries cautiously, and look along the river.”

Eve was left alone in a dull stupor, dreadful to see. Her trouble was at its height when Petit-Claud came in at seven o’clock to talk over the steps to be taken in David’s case. At such a time, any voice in the world may speak, and we let them speak.

“Our poor, dear David is in prison, madame,” so began Petit-Claud. “I foresaw all along that it would end in this. I advised him at the time to go into partnership with his competitors the Cointets; for while your husband has simply the idea, they have the means of putting it into practical shape. So as soon as I heard of his arrest yesterday evening, what did I do but hurry away to find the Cointets and try to obtain such concessions as might satisfy you. If you try to keep the discovery to yourselves, you will continue to live a life of shifts and chicanery. You must give in, or else when you are exhausted and at the last gasp, you will end by making a bargain with some capitalist or other, and perhaps to your own detriment, whereas to-day I hope to see you make a good one with MM. Cointet. In this way you will save yourselves the hardships and the misery of the inventor’s duel with the greed of the capitalist and the indifference of the public. Let us see! If the MM. Cointet should pay your debts–if, over and above your debts, they should pay you a further sum of money down, whether or no the invention succeeds; while at the same time it is thoroughly understood that if it succeeds a certain proportion of the profits of working the patent shall be yours, would you not be doing very well? –You yourself, madame, would then be the proprietor of the plant in the printing-office. You would sell the business, no doubt; it is quite worth twenty thousand francs. I will undertake to find you a buyer at that price.

“Now if you draw up a deed of partnership with the MM. Cointet, and receive fifteen thousand francs of capital; and if you invest it in the funds at the present moment, it will bring you in an income of two thousand francs. You can live on two thousand francs in the provinces. Bear in mind, too, madame, that, given certain contingencies, there will be yet further payments. I say ‘contingencies,’ because we must lay our accounts with failure.

“Very well,” continued Petit-Claud, “now these things I am sure that I can obtain for you. First of all, David’s release from prison; secondly, fifteen thousand francs, a premium paid on his discovery, whether the experiments fail or succeed; and lastly, a partnership between David and the MM. Cointet, to be taken out after private experiment made jointly. The deed of partnership for the working of the patent should be drawn up on the following basis: The MM. Cointet to bear all the expenses, the capital invested by David to be confined to the expenses of procuring the patent, and his share of the profits to be fixed at twenty-five per cent. You are a clear-headed and very sensible woman, qualities which are not often found combined with great beauty; think over these proposals, and you will see that they are very favorable.”

Poor Eve in her despair burst into tears. “Ah, sir! why did you not come yesterday evening to tell me this? We should have been spared disgrace and–and something far worse—-“

“I was talking with the Cointets until midnight. They are behind Metivier, as you must have suspected. But how has something worse than our poor David’s arrest happened since yesterday evening?”

“Here is the awful news that I found when I awoke this morning,” she said, holding out Lucien’s letter. “You have just given me proof of your interest in us; you are David’s friend and Lucien’s; I need not ask you to keep the secret—-“

“You need not feel the least anxiety,” said Petit-Claud, as he returned the letter. “Lucien will not take his life. Your husband’s arrest was his doing; he was obliged to find some excuse for leaving you, and this exit of his looks to me like a piece of stage business.”

The Cointets had gained their ends. They had tormented the inventor and his family, until, worn out by the torture, the victims longed for a respite, and then seized their opportunity and made the offer. Not every inventor has the tenacity of the bull-dog that will perish with his teeth fast set in his capture; the Cointets had shrewdly estimated David’s character. The tall Cointet looked upon David’s imprisonment as the first scene of the first act of the drama. The second act opened with the proposal which Petit-Claud had just made. As arch-schemer, the attorney looked upon Lucien’s frantic folly as a bit of unhoped-for luck, a chance that would finally decide the issues of the day.

Eve was completely prostrated by this event; Petit-Claud saw this, and meant to profit by her despair to win her confidence, for he saw at last how much she influenced her husband. So far from discouraging Eve, he tried to reassure her, and very cleverly diverted her thoughts to the prison. She should persuade David to take the Cointets into partnership.

“David told me, madame, that he only wished for a fortune for your sake and your brother’s; but it should be clear to you by now that to try to make a rich man of Lucien would be madness. The youngster would run through three fortunes.”

Eve’s attitude told plainly enough that she had no more illusions left with regard to her brother. The lawyer waited a little so that her silence should have the weight of consent.

“Things being so, it is now a question of you and your child,” he said. “It rests with you to decide whether an income of two thousand francs will be enough for your welfare, to say nothing of old Sechard’s property. Your father-in-law’s income has amounted to seven or eight thousand francs for a long time past, to say nothing of capital lying out at interest. So, after all, you have a good prospect before you. Why torment yourself?”

Petit-Claud left Eve Sechard to reflect upon this prospect. The whole scheme had been drawn up with no little skill by the tall Cointet the evening before.

“Give them the glimpse of a possibility of money in hand,” the lynx had said, when Petit-Claud brought the news of the arrest; “once let them grow accustomed to that idea, and they are ours; we will drive a bargain, and little by little we shall bring them down to our price for the secret.”

The argument of the second act of the commercial drama was in a manner summed up in that speech.

Mme. Sechard, heartbroken and full of dread for her brother’s fate, dressed and came downstairs. An agony of terror seized her when she thought that she must cross Angouleme alone on the way to the prison. Petit-Claud gave little thought to his fair client’s distress. When he came back to offer his arm, it was from a tolerably Machiavellian motive; but Eve gave him credit for delicate consideration, and he allowed her to thank him for it. The little attention, at such a moment, from so hard a man, modified Mme. Sechard’s previous opinion of Petit-Claud.

“I am taking you round by the longest way,” he said, “and we shall meet nobody.”

“For the first time in my life, monsieur, I feel that I have no right to hold up my head before other people; I had a sharp lesson given to me last night—-“

“It will be the first and the last.”

“Oh! I certainly shall not stay in the town now—-“

“Let me know if your husband consents to the proposals that are all but definitely offered by the Cointets,” said Petit-Claud at the gate of the prison; “I will come at once with an order for David’s release from Cachan, and in all likelihood he will not go back again to prison.”

This suggestion, made on the very threshold of the jail, was a piece of cunning strategy–a _combinazione_, as the Italians call an indefinable mixture of treachery and truth, a cunningly planned fraud which does not break the letter of the law, or a piece of deft trickery for which there is no legal remedy. St. Bartholomew’s for instance, was a political combination.

Imprisonment for debt, for reasons previously explained, is such a rare occurrence in the provinces, that there is no house of detention, and a debtor is perforce imprisoned with the accused, convicted, and condemned–the three graduated subdivisions of the class generically styled criminal. David was put for the time being in a cell on the ground floor from which some prisoner had probably been recently discharged at the end of his time. Once inscribed on the jailer’s register, with the amount allowed by the law for a prisoner’s board for one month, David confronted a big, stout man, more powerful than the King himself in a prisoner’s eyes; this was the jailer.

An instance of a thin jailer is unknown in the provinces. The place, to begin with, is almost a sinecure, and a jailer is a kind of innkeeper who pays no rent and lives very well, while his prisoners fare very ill; for, like an innkeeper, he gives them rooms according to their payments. He knew David by name, and what was more, knew about David’s father, and thought that he might venture to let the printer have a good room on credit for one night; for David was penniless.

The prison of Angouleme was built in the Middle Ages, and has no more changed than the old cathedral. It is built against the old _presidial_, or ancient court of appeal, and people still call it the _maison de justice_. It boasts the conventional prison gateway, the solid-looking, nail-studded door, the low, worn archway which the better deserves the qualification “cyclopean,” because the jailer’s peephole or _judas_ looks out like a single eye from the front of the building. As you enter you find yourself in a corridor which runs across the entire width of the building, with a row of doors of cells that give upon the prison yard and are lighted by high windows covered with a square iron grating. The jailer’s house is separated from these cells by an archway in the middle, through which you catch a glimpse of the iron gate of the prison yard. The jailer installed David in a cell next to the archway, thinking that he would like to have a man of David’s stamp as a near neighbor for the sake of company.

“This is the best room,” he said. David was struck dumb with amazement at the sight of it.

The stone walls were tolerably damp. The windows, set high in the wall, were heavily barred; the stone-paved floor was cold as ice, and from the corridor outside came the sound of the measured tramp of the warder, monotonous as waves on the beach. “You are a prisoner! you are watched and guarded!” said the footsteps at every moment of every hour. All these small things together produce a prodigious effect upon the minds of honest folk. David saw that the bed was execrable, but the first night in a prison is full of violent agitation, and only on the second night does the prisoner notice that his couch is hard. The jailer was graciously disposed; he naturally suggested that his prisoner should walk in the yard until nightfall.

David’s hour of anguish only began when he was locked into his cell for the night. Lights are not allowed in the cells. A prisoner detained on arrest used to be subjected to rules devised for malefactors, unless he brought a special exemption signed by the public prosecutor. The jailer certainly might allow David to sit by his fire, but the prisoner must go back to his cell at locking-up time. Poor David learned the horrors of prison life by experience, the rough coarseness of the treatment revolted him. Yet a revulsion, familiar to those who live by thought, passed over him. He detached himself from his loneliness, and found a way of escape in a poet’s waking dream.

At last the unhappy man’s thoughts turned to his own affairs. The stimulating influence of a prison upon conscience and self-scrutiny is immense. David asked himself whether he had done his duty as the head of a family. What despairing grief his wife must feel at this moment! Why had he not done as Marion had said, and earned money enough to pursue his investigations at leisure?

“How can I stay in Angouleme after such a disgrace? And when I come out of prison, what will become of us? Where shall we go?”

Doubts as to his process began to occur to him, and he passed through an agony which none save inventors can understand. Going from doubt to doubt, David began to see his real position more clearly; and to himself he said, as the Cointets had said to old Sechard, as Petit-Claud had just said to Eve, “Suppose that all should go well, what does it amount to in practice? The first thing to be done is to take out a patent, and money is needed for that–and experiments must be tried on a large scale in a paper-mill, which means that the discovery must pass into other hands. Oh! Petit-Claud was right!”

A very vivid light sometimes dawns in the darkest prison.

“Pshaw!” said David; “I shall see Petit-Claud to-morrow no doubt,” and he turned and slept on the filthy mattress covered with coarse brown sacking.

So when Eve unconsciously played into the hands of the enemy that morning, she found her husband more than ready to listen to proposals. She put her arms about him and kissed him, and sat down on the edge of the bed (for there was but one chair of the poorest and commonest kind in the cell). Her eyes fell on the unsightly pail in a corner, and over the walls covered with inscriptions left by David’s predecessors, and tears filled the eyes that were red with weeping. She had sobbed long and very bitterly, but the sight of her husband in a felon’s cell drew fresh tears.

“And the desire of fame may lead one to this!” she cried. “Oh! my angel, give up your career. Let us walk together along the beaten track; we will not try to make haste to be rich, David. . . . I need very little to be very happy, especially now, after all that we have been through. . . . And if you only knew–the disgrace of arrest is not the worst. . . . Look.”

She held out Lucien’s letter, and when David had read it, she tried to comfort him by repeating Petit-Claud’s bitter comment.

“If Lucien has taken his life, the thing is done by now,” said David; “if he has not made away with himself by this time, he will not kill himself. As he himself says, ‘his courage cannot last longer than a morning—-‘”

“But the suspense!” cried Eve, forgiving almost everything at the thought of death. Then she told her husband of the proposals which Petit-Claud professed to have received from the Cointets. David accepted them at once with manifest pleasure.

“We shall have enough to live upon in a village near L’Houmeau, where the Cointets’ paper-mill stands. I want nothing now but a quiet life,” said David. “If Lucien has punished himself by death, we can wait so long as father lives; and if Lucien is still living, poor fellow, he will learn to adapt himself to our narrow ways. The Cointets certainly will make money by my discovery; but, after all, what am I compared with our country? One man in it, that is all; and if the whole country is benefited, I shall be content. There! dear Eve, neither you nor I were meant to be successful in business. We do not care enough about making a profit; we have not the dogged objection to parting with our money, even when it is legally owing, which is a kind of virtue of the counting-house, for these two sorts of avarice are called prudence and a faculty of business.”

Eve felt overjoyed; she and her husband held the same views, and this is one of the sweetest flowers of love; for two human beings who love each other may not be of the same mind, nor take the same view of their interests. She wrote to Petit-Claud telling him that they both consented to the general scheme, and asked him to release David. Then she begged the jailer to deliver the message.

Ten minutes later Petit-Claud entered the dismal place. “Go home, madame,” he said, addressing Eve, “we will follow you.–Well, my dear friend” (turning to David), “so you allowed them to catch you! Why did you come out? How came you to make such a mistake?”

“Eh! how could I do otherwise? Look at this letter that Lucien wrote.”

David held out a sheet of paper. It was Cerizet’s forged letter.

Petit-Claud read it, looked at it, fingered the paper as he talked, and still taking, presently, as if through absence of mind, folded it up and put it in his pocket. Then he linked his arm in David’s, and they went out together, the order for release having come during the conversation.

It was like heaven to David to be at home again. He cried like a child when he took little Lucien in his arms and looked round his room after three weeks of imprisonment, and the disgrace, according to provincial notions, of the last few hours. Kolb and Marion had come back. Marion had heard in L’Houmeau that Lucien had been seen walking along on the Paris road, somewhere beyond Marsac. Some country folk, coming in to market, had noticed his fine clothes. Kolb, therefore, had set out on horseback along the highroad, and heard at last at Mansle that Lucien was traveling post in a caleche–M. Marron had recognized him as he passed.

“What did I tell you?” said Petit-Claud. “That fellow is not a poet; he is a romance in heaven knows how many chapters.”

“Traveling post!” repeated Eve. “Where can he be going this time?”

“Now go to see the Cointets, they are expecting you,” said Petit-Claud, turning to David.

“Ah, monsieur!” cried the beautiful Eve, “pray do your best for our interests; our whole future lies in your hands.”

“If you prefer it, madame, the conference can be held here. I will leave David with you. The Cointets will come this evening, and you shall see if I can defend your interests.”

“Ah! monsieur, I should be very glad,” said Eve.

“Very well,” said Petit-Claud; “this evening, at seven o’clock.”

“Thank you,” said Eve; and from her tone and glance Petit-Claud knew that he had made great progress in his fair client’s confidence.

“You have nothing to fear; you see I was right,” he added. “Your brother is a hundred miles away from suicide, and when all comes to all, perhaps you will have a little fortune this evening. A _bona-fide_ purchaser for the business has turned up.”

“If that is the case,” said Eve, “why should we not wait awhile before binding ourselves to the Cointets?”

Petit-Claud saw the danger. “You are forgetting, madame,” he said, “that you cannot sell your business until you have paid M. Metivier; for a distress warrant has been issued.”

As soon as Petit-Claud reached home he sent for Cerizet, and when the printer’s foreman appeared, drew him into the embrasure of the window.

“To-morrow evening,” he said, “you will be the proprietor of the Sechards’ printing-office, and then there are those behind you who have influence enough to transfer the license;” (then in a lowered voice), “but you have no mind to end in the hulks, I suppose?”

“The hulks! What’s that? What’s that?”

“Your letter to David was a forgery. It is in my possession. What would Henriette say in a court of law? I do not want to ruin you,” he added hastily, seeing how white Cerizet’s face grew.

“You want something more of me?” cried Cerizet.

“Well, here it is,” said Petit-Claud. “Follow me carefully. You will be a master printer in Angouleme in two months’ time . . . but you will not have paid for your business–you will not pay for it in ten years. You will work a long while yet for those that have lent you the money, and you will be the cat’s-paw of the Liberal party. . . . Now _I_ shall draw up your agreement with Gannerac, and I can draw it up in such a way that you will have the business in your own hands one of these days. But–if the Liberals start a paper, if you bring it out, and if I am deputy public prosecutor, then you will come to an understanding with the Cointets and publish articles of such a nature that they will have the paper suppressed. . . . The Cointets will pay you handsomely for that service. . . . I know, of course, that you will be a hero, a victim of persecution; you will be a personage among the Liberals–a Sergeant Mercier, a Paul-Louis Courier, a Manual on a small scale. I will take care that they leave you your license. In fact, on the day when the newspaper is suppressed, I will burn this letter before your eyes. . . . Your fortune will not cost you much.”

A working man has the haziest notions as to the law with regard to forgery; and Cerizet, who beheld himself already in the dock, breathed again.

“In three years’ time,” continued Petit-Claud, “I shall be public prosecutor in Angouleme. You may have need of me some day; bear that in mind.”

“It’s agreed,” said Cerizet, “but you don’t know me. Burn that letter now and trust to my gratitude.”

Petit-Claud looked Cerizet in the face. It was a duel in which one man’s gaze is a scalpel with which he essays to probe the soul of another, and the eyes of that other are a theatre, as it were, to which all his virtue is summoned for display.

Petit-Claud did not utter a word. He lighted a taper and burned the letter. “He has his way to make,” he said to himself.

“Here is one that will go through fire and water for you,” said Cerizet.

David awaited the interview with the Cointets with a vague feeling of uneasiness; not, however, on account of the proposed partnership, nor for his own interests–he felt nervous as to their opinion of his work. He was in something the same position as a dramatic author before his judges. The inventor’s pride in the discovery so nearly completed left no room for any other feelings.

At seven o’clock that evening, while Mme. du Chatelet, pleading a sick headache, had gone to her room in her unhappiness over the rumors of Lucien’s departure; while M. de Comte, left to himself, was entertaining his guests at dinner–the tall Cointet and his stout brother, accompanied by Petit-Claud, opened negotiations with the competitor who had delivered himself up, bound hand and foot.

A difficulty awaited them at the outset. How was it possible to draw up a deed of partnership unless they knew David’s secret? And if David divulged his secret, he would be at the mercy of the Cointets. Petit-Claud arranged that the deed of partnership should be the first drawn up. Thereupon the tall Cointet asked to see some specimens of David’s work, and David brought out the last sheet that he had made, guaranteeing the price of production.

“Well,” said Petit-Claud, “there you have the basis of the agreement ready made. You can go into partnership on the strength of those samples, inserting a clause to protect yourselves in case the conditions of the patent are not fulfilled in the manufacturing process.”

“It is one thing to make samples of paper on a small scale in your own room with a small mould, monsieur, and another to turn out a quantity,” said the tall Cointet, addressing David. “Quite another thing, as you may judge from this single fact. We manufacture colored papers. We buy parcels of coloring absolutely identical. Every cake of indigo used for ‘blueing’ our post-demy is taken from a batch supplied by the same maker. Well, we have never yet been able to obtain two batches of precisely the same shade. There are variations in the material which we cannot detect. The quantity and the quality of the pulp modify every question at once. Suppose that you have in a caldron a quantity of ingredients of some kind (I don’t ask to know what they are), you can do as you like with them, the treatment can be uniformly applied, you can manipulate, knead, and pestle the mass at your pleasure until you have a homogeneous substance. But who will guarantee that it will be the same with a batch of five hundred reams, and that your plan will succeed in bulk?”

David, Eve, and Petit-Claud looked at one another; their eyes said many things.

“Take a somewhat similar case,” continued the tall Cointet after a pause. “You cut two or three trusses of meadow hay, and store it in a loft before ‘the heat is out of the grass,’ as the peasants say; the hay ferments, but no harm comes of it. You follow up your experiment by storing a couple of thousand trusses in a wooden barn–and, of course, the hay smoulders, and the barn blazes up like a lighted match. You are an educated man,” continued Cointet; “you can see the application for yourself. So far, you have only cut your two trusses of hay; we are afraid of setting fire to our paper-mill by bringing in a couple of thousand trusses. In other words, we may spoil more than one batch, make heavy losses, and find ourselves none the better for laying out a good deal of money.”

David was completely floored by this reasoning. Practical wisdom spoke in matter-of-fact language to theory, whose word is always for the future.

“Devil fetch me, if I’ll sign such a deed of partnership!” the stout Cointet cried bluntly. “You may throw away your money if you like, Boniface; as for me, I shall keep mine. Here is my offer–to pay M. Sechard’s debts _and_ six thousand francs, and another three thousand francs in bills at twelve and fifteen months,” he added. “That will be quite enough risk to run.–We have a balance of twelve thousand francs against Metivier. That will make fifteen thousand francs.–That is all that I would pay for the secret if I were going to exploit it for myself. So this is the great discovery that you were talking about, Boniface! Many thanks! I thought you had more sense. No, you can’t call this business.”

“The question for you,” said Petit-Claud, undismayed by the explosion, “resolves itself into this: ‘Do you care to risk twenty thousand francs to buy a secret that may make rich men of you?’ Why, the risk usually is in proportion to the profit, gentlemen. You stake twenty thousand francs on your luck. A gambler puts down a louis at roulette for a chance of winning thirty-six, but he knows that the louis is lost. Do the same.”

“I must have time to think it over,” said the stout Cointet; “I am not so clever as my brother. I am a plain, straight-forward sort of chap, that only knows one thing–how to print prayer-books at twenty sous and sell them for two francs. Where I see an invention that has only been tried once, I see ruin. You succeed with the first batch, you spoil the next, you go on, and you are drawn in; for once put an arm into that machinery, the rest of you follows,” and he related an anecdote very much to the point–how a Bordeaux merchant had ruined himself by following a scientific man’s advice, and trying to bring the Landes into cultivation; and followed up the tale with half-a-dozen similar instances of agricultural and commercial failures nearer home in the departments of the Charente and Dordogne. He waxed warm over his recitals. He would not listen to another word. Petit-Claud’s demurs, so far from soothing the stout Cointet, appeared to irritate him.

“I would rather give more for a certainty, if I made only a small profit on it,” he said, looking at his brother. “It is my opinion that things have gone far enough for business,” he concluded.

“Still you came here for something, didn’t you?” asked Petit-Claud. “What is your offer?”

“I offer to release M. Sechard, and, if his plan succeeds, to give him thirty per cent of the profits,” the stout Cointet answered briskly.

“But, monsieur,” objected Eve, “how should we live while the experiments were being made? My husband has endured the disgrace of imprisonment already; he may as well go back to prison, it makes no difference now, and we will pay our debts ourselves—-“

Petit-Claud laid a finger on his lips in warning.

“You are unreasonable,” said he, addressing the brothers. “You have seen the paper; M. Sechard’s father told you that he had shut his son up, and that he had made capital paper in a single night from materials that must have cost a mere nothing. You are here to make an offer. Are you purchasers, yes or no?”

“Stay,” said the tall Cointet, “whether my brother is willing or no, I will risk this much myself. I will pay M. Sechard’s debts, I will pay six thousand francs over and above the debts, and M. Sechard shall have thirty per cent of the profits. But mind this–if in the space of one year he fails to carry out the undertakings which he himself will make in the deed of partnership, he must return the six thousand francs, and we shall keep the patent and extricate ourselves as best we may.”

“Are you sure of yourself?” asked Petit-Claud, taking David aside.

“Yes,” said David. He was deceived by the tactics of the brothers, and afraid lest the stout Cointet should break off the negotiations on which his future depended.

“Very well, I will draft the deed,” said Petit-Claud, addressing the rest of the party. “Each of you shall have a copy to-night, and you will have all to-morrow morning in which to think it over. To-morrow afternoon at four o’clock, when the court rises, you will sign the agreement. You, gentlemen, will withdraw Metivier’s suit, and I, for my part, will write to stop proceedings in the Court-Royal; we will give notice on either side that the affair has been settled out of court.”

David Sechard’s undertakings were thus worded in the deed:–

“M. David Sechard, printer of Angouleme, affirming that he has discovered a method of sizing paper-pulp in the vat, and also a method of affecting a reduction of fifty per cent in the price of all kinds of manufactured papers, by introducing certain vegetable substances into the pulp, either by intermixture of such substances with the rags already in use, or by employing them solely without the addition of rags: a partnership for working the patent to be presently applied for is entered upon by M. David Sechard and the firm of Cointet Brothers, subject to the following conditional clauses and stipulations.”

One of the clauses so drafted that David Sechard forfeited all his rights if he failed to fulfil his engagements within the year; the tall Cointet was particularly careful to insert that clause, and David Sechard allowed it to pass.

When Petit-Claud appeared with a copy of the agreement next morning at half-past seven o’clock, he brought news for David and his wife. Cerizet offered twenty-two thousand francs for the business. The whole affair could be signed and settled in the course of the evening. “But if the Cointets knew about it,” he added, “they would be quite capable of refusing to sign the deed of partnership, of harassing you, and selling you up.”

“Are you sure of payment?” asked Eve. She had thought it hopeless to try to sell the business; and now, to her astonishment, a bargain which would have been their salvation three months ago was concluded in this summary fashion.

“The money has been deposited with me,” he answered succinctly.

“Why, here is magic at work!” said David, and he asked Petit-Claud for an explanation of this piece of luck.

“No,” said Petit-Claud, “it is very simple. The merchants in L’Houmeau want a newspaper.”

“But I am bound not to publish a paper,” said David.

“Yes, you are bound, but is your successor?–However it is,” he continued, “do not trouble yourself at all; sell the business, pocket the proceeds, and leave Cerizet to find his way through the conditions of the sale–he can take care of himself.”

“Yes,” said Eve.

“And if it turns out that you may not print a newspaper in Angouleme,” said Petit-Claud, “those who are finding the capital for Cerizet will bring out the paper in L’Houmeau.”

The prospect of twenty-two thousand francs, of want now at end, dazzled Eve. The partnership and its hopes took a second place. And, therefore, M. and Mme. Sechard gave way on a final point of dispute. The tall Cointet insisted that the patent should be taken out in the name of any one of the partners. What difference could it make? The stout Cointet said the last word.

“He is finding the money for the patent; he is bearing the expenses of the journey–another two thousand francs over and above the rest of the expenses. He must take it out in his own name, or we will not stir in the matter.”

The lynx gained a victory at all points. The deed of partnership was signed that afternoon at half-past four.

The tall Cointet politely gave Mme. Sechard a dozen thread-pattern forks and spoons and a beautiful Ternaux shawl, by way of pin-money, said he, and to efface any unpleasant impression made in the heat of discussion. The copies of the draft had scarcely been made out, Cachan had barely had time to send the documents to Petit-Claud, together with the three unlucky forged bills, when the Sechards heard a deafening rumble in the street, a dray from the Messageries stopped before the door, and Kolb’s voice made the staircase ring again.

“Montame! montame! vifteen tausend vrancs, vrom Boidiers” (Poitiers). “Goot money! vrom Monziere Lucien!”

“Fifteen thousand francs!” cried Eve, throwing up her arms.

“Yes, madame,” said the carman in the doorway, “fifteen thousand francs, brought by the Bordeaux coach, and they didn’t want any more neither! I have two men downstairs bringing up the bags. M. Lucien Chardon de Rubempre is the sender. I have brought up a little leather bag for you, containing five hundred francs in gold, and a letter it’s likely.”

Eve thought that she must be dreaming as she read:–

“MY DEAR SISTER,–Here are fifteen thousand francs. Instead of taking my life, I have sold it. I am no longer my own; I am only the secretary of a Spanish diplomatist; I am his creature. A new and dreadful life is beginning for me. Perhaps I should have done better to drown myself.

“Good-bye. David will be released, and with the four thousand francs he can buy a little paper-mill, no doubt, and make his fortune. Forget me, all of you. This is the wish of your unhappy brother.

“It is decreed that my poor boy should be unlucky in everything, and even when he does well, as he said himself,” said Mme. Chardon, as she watched the men piling up the bags.

“We have had a narrow escape!” exclaimed the tall Cointet, when he was once more in the Place du Murier. “An hour later the glitter of the silver would have thrown a new light on the deed of partnership. Our man would have fought shy of it. We have his promise now, and in three months’ time we shall know what to do.”

That very evening, at seven o’clock, Cerizet bought the business, and the money was paid over, the purchaser undertaking to pay rent for the last quarter. The next day Eve sent forty thousand francs to the Receiver-General, and bought two thousand five hundred francs of _rentes_ in her husband’s name. Then she wrote to her father-in-law and asked him to find a small farm, worth about ten thousand francs, for her near Marsac. She meant to invest her own fortune in this way.

The tall Cointet’s plot was formidably simple. From the very first he considered that the plan of sizing the pulp in the vat was impracticable. The real secret of fortune lay in the composition of the pulp, in the cheap vegetable fibre as a substitute for rags. He made up his mind, therefore, to lay immense stress on the secondary problem of sizing the pulp, and to pass over the discovery of cheap raw material, and for the following reasons:

The Angouleme paper-mills manufacture paper for stationers. Notepaper, foolscap, crown, and post-demy are all necessarily sized; and these papers have been the pride of the Angouleme mills for a long while past, stationery being the specialty of the Charente. This fact gave color to the Cointet’s urgency upon the point of sizing in the pulping-trough; but, as a matter of fact, they cared nothing for this part of David’s researches. The demand for writing-paper is exceedingly small compared with the almost unlimited demand for unsized paper for printers. As Boniface Cointet traveled to Paris to take out the patent in his own name, he was projecting plans that were like to work a revolution in his paper-mill. Arrived in Paris, he took up his quarters with Metivier, and gave his instructions to his agent. Metivier was to call upon the proprietors of newspapers, and offer to deliver paper at prices below those quoted by all other houses; he could guarantee in each case that the paper should be a better color, and in every way superior to the best kinds hitherto in use. Newspapers are always supplied by contract; there would be time before the present contracts expired to complete all the subterranean operations with buyers, and to obtain a monopoly of the trade. Cointet calculated that he could rid himself of Sechard while Metivier was taking orders from the principal Paris newspapers, which even then consumed two hundred reams daily. Cointet naturally offered Metivier a large commission on the contracts, for he wished to secure a clever representative on the spot, and to waste no time in traveling to and fro. And in this manner the fortunes of the firm of Metivier, one of the largest houses in the paper trade, were founded. The tall Cointet went back to Angouleme to be present at Petit-Claud’s wedding, with a mind at rest as to the future.

Petit-Claud had sold his professional connection, and was only waiting for M. Milaud’s promotion to take the public prosecutor’s place, which had been promised to him by the Comtesse du Chatelet. The public prosecutor’s second deputy was appointed first deputy to the Court of Limoges, the Keeper of the Seals sent a man of his own to Angouleme, and the post of first deputy was kept vacant for a couple of months. The interval was Petit-Claud’s honeymoon.

While Boniface Cointet was in Paris, David made a first experimental batch of unsized paper far superior to that in common use for newspapers. He followed it up with a second batch of magnificent vellum paper for fine printing, and this the Cointets used for a new edition of their diocesan prayer-book. The material had been privately prepared by David himself; he would have no helpers but Kolb and Marion.

When Boniface came back the whole affair wore a different aspect; he looked at the samples, and was fairly satisfied.

“My good friend,” he said, “the whole trade of Angouleme is in crown paper. We must make the best possible crown paper at half the present price; that is the first and foremost question for us.”

Then David tried to size the pulp for the desired paper, and the result was a harsh surface with grains of size distributed all over it. On the day when the experiment was concluded and David held the sheets in his hand, he went away to find a spot where he could be alone and swallow his bitter disappointment. But Boniface Cointet went in search of him and comforted him. Boniface was delightfully amiable.

“Do not lose heart,” he said; “go on! I am a good fellow, I understand you; I will stand by you to the end.”

“Really,” David said to his wife at dinner, “we are with good people; I should not have expected that the tall Cointet would be so generous.” And he repeated his conversation with his wily partner.

Three months were spent in experiments. David slept at the mill; he noted the effects of various preparations upon the pulp. At one time he attributed his non-success to an admixture of rag-pulp with his own ingredients, and made a batch entirely composed of the new material; at another, he endeavored to size pulp made exclusively from rags; persevering in his experiments under the eyes of the tall Cointet, whom he had ceased to mistrust, until he had tried every possible combination of pulp and size. David lived in the paper-mill for the first six months of 1823–if it can be called living, to leave food untasted, and go in neglect of person and dress. He wrestled so desperately with the difficulties, that anybody but the Cointets would have seen the sublimity of the struggle, for the brave fellow was not thinking of his own interests. The moment had come when he cared for nothing but the victory. With marvelous sagacity he watched the unaccountable freaks of the semi-artificial substances called into existence by man for ends of his own; substances in which nature had been tamed, as it were, and her tacit resistance overcome; and from these observations drew great conclusions; finding, as he did, that such creations can only be obtained by following the laws of the more remote affinities of things, of “a second nature,” as he called it, in substances.

Towards the end of August he succeeded to some extent in sizing the paper pulp in the vat; the result being a kind of paper identical with a make in use for printers’ proofs at the present day–a kind of paper that cannot be depended upon, for the sizing itself is not always certain. This was a great result, considering the condition of the paper trade in 1823, and David hoped to solve the final difficulties of the problem, but–it had cost ten thousand francs.

Singular rumors were current at this time in Angouleme and L’Houmeau. It was said that David Sechard was ruining the firm of Cointet Brothers. Experiments had eaten up twenty thousand francs; and the result, said gossip, was wretchedly bad paper. Other manufacturers took fright at this, hugged themselves on their old-fashioned methods, and, being jealous of the Cointets, spread rumors of the approaching fall of that ambitious house. As for the tall Cointet, he set up the new machinery for making lengths of paper in a ribbon, and allowed people to believe that he was buying plant for David’s experiments. Then the cunning Cointet used David’s formula for pulp, while urging his partner to give his whole attention to the sizing process; and thousands of reams of the new paper were despatched to Metivier in Paris.

When September arrived, the tall Cointet took David aside, and, learning that the latter meditated a crowning experiment, dissuaded him from further attempts.

“Go to Marsac, my dear David, see your wife, and take a rest after your labors; we don’t want to ruin ourselves,” said Cointet in the friendliest way. “This great triumph of yours, after all, is only a starting-point. We shall wait now for awhile before trying any new experiments. To be fair! see what has come of them. We are not merely paper-makers, we are printers besides and bankers, and people say that you are ruining us.”

David Sechard’s gesture of protest on behalf of his good faith was sublime in its simplicity.

“Not that fifty thousand francs thrown into the Charente would ruin us,” said Cointet, in reply to mute protest, “but we do not wish to be obliged to pay cash for everything in consequence of slanders that shake our credit; _that_ would bring us to a standstill. We have reached the term fixed by our agreement, and we are bound on either side to think over our position.”

“He is right,” thought David. He had forgotten the routine work of the business, thoroughly absorbed as he had been in experiments on a large scale.

David went to Marsac. For the past six months he had gone over on Saturday evening, returning again to L’Houmeau on Tuesday morning. Eve, after much counsel from her father-in-law, had bought a house called the Verberie, with three acres of land and a croft planted with vines, which lay like a wedge in the old man’s vineyard. Here, with her mother and Marion, she lived a very frugal life, for five thousand francs of the purchase money still remained unpaid. It was a charming little domain, the prettiest bit of property in Marsac. The house, with a garden before it and a yard at the back, was built of white tufa ornamented with carvings, cut without great expense in that easily wrought stone, and roofed with slate. The pretty furniture from the house in Angouleme looked prettier still at Marsac, for there was not the slightest attempt at comfort or luxury in the country in those days. A row of orange-trees, pomegranates, and rare plants stood before the house on the side of the garden, set there by the last owner, an old general who died under M. Marron’s hands.

David was enjoying his holiday sitting under an orange-tree with his wife, and father, and little Lucien, when the bailiff from Mansle appeared. Cointet Brothers gave their partner formal notice to appoint an arbitrator to settle disputes, in accordance with a clause in the agreement. The Cointets demanded that the six thousand francs should be refunded, and the patent surrendered in consideration of the enormous outlay made to no purpose.

“People say that you are ruining them,” said old Sechard. “Well, well, of all that you have done, that is the one thing that I am glad to know.”

At nine o’clock the next morning Eve and David stood in Petit-Claud’s waiting-room. The little lawyer was the guardian of the widow and orphan by virtue of his office, and it seemed to them that they could take no other advice. Petit-Claud was delighted to see his clients, and insisted that M. and Mme. Sechard should do him the pleasure of breakfasting with him.

“Do the Cointets want six thousand francs of you?” he asked, smiling. “How much is still owing of the purchase-money of the Verberie?”

“Five thousand francs, monsieur,” said Eve, “but I have two thousand—-“

“Keep your money,” Petit-Claud broke in. “Let us see: five thousand–why, you want quite another ten thousand francs to settle yourselves comfortably down yonder. Very good, in two hours’ time the Cointets shall bring you fifteen thousand francs—-“

Eve started with surprise.

“If you will renounce all claims to the profits under the deed of partnership, and come to an amicable settlement,” said Petit-Claud. “Does that suit you?”

“Will it really be lawfully ours?” asked Eve.

“Very much so,” said the lawyer, smiling. “The Cointets have worked you trouble enough; I should like to make an end of their pretensions. Listen to me; I am a magistrate now, and it is my duty to tell you the truth. Very good. The Cointets are playing you false at this moment, but you are in their hands. If you accept battle, you might possibly gain the lawsuit which they will bring. Do you wish to be where you are now after ten years of litigation? Experts’ fees and expenses of arbitration will be multiplied, the most contradictory opinions will be given, and you must take your chance. And,” he added, smiling again, “there is no attorney here that can defend you, so far as I see. My successor has not much ability. There, a bad compromise is better than a successful lawsuit.”

“Any arrangement that will give us a quiet life will do for me,” said David.

Petit-Claud called to his servant.

“Paul! go and ask M. Segaud, my successor, to come here.–He shall go to see the Cointets while we breakfast” said Petit-Claud, addressing his former clients, “and in a few hours’ time you will be on your way home to Marsac, ruined, but with minds at rest. Ten thousand francs will bring you in another five hundred francs of income, and you will live comfortably on your bit of property.”

Two hours later, as Petit-Claud had prophesied, Maitre Segaud came back with an agreement duly drawn up and signed by the Cointets, and fifteen notes each for a thousand francs.

“We are much indebted to you,” said Sechard, turning to Petit-Claud.

“Why, I have just this moment ruined you,” said Petit-Claud, looking at his astonished former clients. “I tell you again, I have ruined you, as you will see as time goes on; but I know you, you would rather be ruined than wait for a fortune which perhaps might come too late.”

“We are not mercenary, monsieur,” said Madame Eve. “We thank you for giving us the means of happiness; we shall always feel grateful to you.”

“Great heavens! don’t call down blessings on _me_!” cried Petit-Claud. “It fills me with remorse; but to-day, I think, I have made full reparation. If I am a magistrate, it is entirely owing to you; and if anybody is to feel grateful, it is I. Good-bye.”

As time went on, Kolb changed his opinion of Sechard senior; and as for the old man, he took a liking to Kolb when he found that, like himself, the Alsacien could neither write nor read a word, and that it was easy to make him tipsy. The old “bear” imparted his ideas on vine culture and the sale of a vintage to the ex-cuirassier, and trained him with a view to leaving a man with a head on his shoulders to look after his children when he should be gone; for he grew childish at the last, and great were his fears as to the fate of his property. He had chosen Courtois the miller as his confidant. “You will see how things will go with my children when I am under ground. Lord! it makes me shudder to think of it.”

Old Sechard died in the month of March, 1929, leaving about two hundred thousand francs in land. His acres added to the Verberie made a fine property, which Kolb had managed to admiration for some two years.

David and his wife found nearly a hundred thousand crowns in gold in the house. The department of the Charente had valued old Sechard’s money at a million; rumor, as usual, exaggerating the amount of a hoard. Eve and David had barely thirty thousand francs of income when they added their little fortune to the inheritance; they waited awhile, and so it fell out that they invested their capital in Government securities at the time of the Revolution of July.

Then, and not until then, could the department of the Charente and David Sechard form some idea of the wealth of the tall Cointet. Rich to the extent of several millions of francs, the elder Cointet became a deputy, and is at this day a peer of France. It is said that he will be Minister of Commerce in the next Government; for in 1842 he married Mlle. Popinot, daughter of M. Anselme Popinot, one of the most influential statesmen of the dynasty, deputy and mayor of an arrondissement in Paris.

David Sechard’s discovery has been assimilated by the French manufacturing world, as food is assimilated by a living body. Thanks to the introduction of materials other than rags, France can produce paper more cheaply than any other European country. Dutch paper, as David foresaw, no longer exists. Sooner or later it will be necessary, no doubt, to establish a Royal Paper Manufactory; like the Gobelins, the Sevres porcelain works, the Savonnerie, and the Imprimerie royale, which so far have escaped the destruction threatened by _bourgeois_ vandalism.

David Sechard, beloved by his wife, father of two boys and a girl, has the good taste to make no allusion to his past efforts. Eve had the sense to dissuade him from following his terrible vocation; for the inventor like Moses on Mount Horeb, is consumed by the burning bush. He cultivates literature by way of recreation, and leads a comfortable life of leisure, befitting the landowner who lives on his own estate. He has bidden farewell for ever to glory, and bravely taken his place in the class of dreamers and collectors; for he dabbles in entomology, and is at present investigating the transformations of insects which science only knows in the final stage.

Everybody has heard of Petit-Claud’s success as attorney-general; he is the rival of the great Vinet of Provins, and it is his ambition to be President of the Court-Royal of Poitiers.

Cerizet has been in trouble so frequently for political offences that he has been a good deal talked about; and as one of the boldest _enfants perdus_ of the Liberal party he was nicknamed the “Brave Cerizet.” When Petit-Claud’s successor compelled him to sell his business in Angouleme, he found a fresh career on the provincial stage, where his talents as an actor were like to be turned to brilliant account. The chief stage heroine, however, obliged him to go to Paris to find a cure for love among the resources of science, and there he tried to curry favor with the Liberal party.

As for Lucien, the story of his return to Paris belongs to the _Scenes of Parisian_ life.


The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.

Two Poets
A Man of Business
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Middle Classes

Chardon, Madame (nee Rubempre)
Two Poets
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Chatelet, Sixte, Baron du
Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Thirteen

Chatelet, Marie-Louise-Anais de Negrepelisse, Baronne du Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris The Government Clerks

Cointet, Boniface
Two Poets
The Firm of Nucingen
The Member for Arcis

Cointet, Jean
Two Poets

Collin, Jacques
Father Goriot
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Member for Arcis

Conti, Gennaro

Two Poets

Courtois, Madame
Two Poets

Hautoy, Francis du
Two Poets

Herrera, Carlos
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Marsay, Henri de
The Thirteen
The Unconscious Humorists
Another Study of Woman
The Lily of the Valley
Father Goriot
Jealousies of a Country Town
Ursule Mirouet
A Marriage Settlement
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Letters of Two Brides
The Ball at Sceaux
Modeste Mignon
The Secrets of a Princess
The Gondreville Mystery
A Daughter of Eve

The Government Clerks
The Middle Classes

The Muse of the Department

Nucingen, Baron Frederic de
The Firm of Nucingen
Father Goriot
Cesar Birotteau
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Another Study of Woman
The Secrets of a Princess
A Man of Business
Cousin Betty
The Muse of the Department
The Unconscious Humorists

Nucingen, Baronne Delphine de
Father Goriot
The Thirteen
Eugenie Grandet
Cesar Birotteau
Melmoth Reconciled
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris The Commission in Lunacy
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
Modeste Mignon
The Firm of Nucingen
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
The Member for Arcis

Two Poets

Pimentel, Marquis and Marquise de
Two Poets

Two Poets

Prieur, Madame
Two Poets

Rastignac, Baron and Baronne de (Eugene’s parents) Father Goriot
Two Poets

Rastignac, Eugene de
Father Goriot
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life
The Ball at Sceaux
The Commission in Lunacy
A Study of Woman
Another Study of Woman
The Magic Skin
The Secrets of a Princess
A Daughter of Eve
The Gondreville Mystery
The Firm of Nucingen
Cousin Betty
The Member for Arcis
The Unconscious Humorists

Rubempre, Lucien-Chardon de
Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris The Government Clerks
Ursule Mirouet
Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Sechard, Jerome-Nicholas
Two Poets

Sechard, David
Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial At Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Sechard, Madame David
Two Poets
A Distinguished Provincial At Paris Scenes from a Courtesan’s Life

Senonches, Jacques de
Two Poets

Senonches, Madame Jacques de
Two Poets

Touches, Mademoiselle Felicite des
A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor’s Establishment
Another Study of Woman
A Daughter of Eve
The Muse of the Department

Massimilla Doni
Letters of Two Brides
Gaudissart II