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Prussia next door to France. Prussia, And more than ever I may say, desiring, not unreasonably, to take L'Empire c'est la paix !” that place in the world which Monsieur de Mauléon shrugged France now holds, will never chal- his shoulders. “The old storylenge France; if she did, she would Troy and the wooden horse." be too much in the wrong to find a “Tell me, M. de Mauléon, why second : Prussia, knowing that she do you, who so despise the Opposihas to do with the vainest, the most tion, join with it in opposing the conceited, the rashest antagonist Empire ?" that ever flourished a rapier in the “Mademoiselle, the Empire opface of a spadassin-Prussia will poses me; while it lasts I cannot make France challenge her.
be even a Député; when it is gone, “And how do ces messieurs deal heaven knows what I may be, with the French army? Do they perhaps Dictator; one thing you dare say to the ministers, 'Reform may rely upon, that I would, if not it'? Do they dare say, "Prefer for Dictator myself, support any man men whose first duty it is to obey, who was better fitted for that task.” discipline to equality-insist on “Better fitted to destroy the the distinction between the officer liberty which he pretended to fight and the private, and never confound for !" it; Prussian officers are well edu- “Not exactly so," replied M. de cated gentlemen, see that yours are'? Mauléon, imperturbably -“better Oh no; they are democrats too fitted to establish a good governstanch not to fraternise with an ment in lieu of the bad one he had armed mob; they content them- fought against, and the much worse selves with grudging an extra sou governments that would seek to to the Commissariat, and winking turn France into a madhouse, and at the millions fraudulently pocketed make the maddest of the inmates by some ‘Liberal contractor.' Dieu the mad doctor!" He turned away, des dieux ! France to be beaten, and here their conversation ended. not as at Waterloo by hosts com- But it so impressed Isaura, that bined, but in fair duel by a single the same night she concluded her foe! Oh, the shame! the shame! letter to Madame de Grantmesnil But as the French army is now by giving a sketch of its substance, organised, beaten she must be, prefaced by an ingenuous confession if she meets the march of the Ger- that she felt less sanguine confidence man."
in the importance of the applauses “You appal me with your sinis- which had greeted the Emperor at ter predictions," said Isaura ; "but, the Saturday's ceremonial, and endhappily, there is no sign of war. ing thus: “I can but confusedly M. Duplessis, who is in the confi- transcribe the words of this singular dence of the Emperor, told us only man, and can give you no notion of the other day that Napoléon, on the manner and the voice which learning the result of the plébiscite, made them eloquent. Tell me, can said : The foreign journalists who there be any truth in his gloomy have been insisting that the Empire predictions? I try not to think so, cannot coexist with free institu- but they seem to rest over that tions, will no longer hint that it can brilliant hall of the Louvre like an be safely assailed from without.' ominous thunder-cloud."
The Marquis de Rochebriant was Chevalier did so explain; for though seated in his pleasant apartment, both at the first, and quite recently glancing carelessly at the envelopes at the second default of payment, of many notes and letters lying yet Alain received letters from M. Louunopened on his breakfast - table. vier's professional agent, as reHe had risen late at noon, for he minders of interest due, and as had not gone to bed till dawn. The requests for its payment, the Chenight had been spent at his club valier assured him that these appliover the card-table-by no means cations were formalities of convento the pecuniary advantage of the tion—that Louvier, in fact, knew Marquis. The reader will have nothing about them; and when learned, through the conversation dining with the great financier himrecorded in a former chapter between self, and cordially welcomed and De Mauléon and Enguerrand de called “Mon cher,” Alain had taken Vandemar, that the austere Seig- him aside and commenced explananeur Breton had become a fast tion and excuse, Louvier had cut viveur of Paris. He had long him short. " Peste ! don't mention since spent the remnant of Louvier's such trifles. There is such a thing premium of £1000, and he owed a as business that concerns my year's interest. For this last there agent; such a thing as friendship was an excuse-M. Collot, the con- -that concerns me. Allez !" tractor to whom he had been ad- Thus M. de Rochebriant, convised to sell the yearly fall of his fiding in debtor and in creditor, forest-trees, had removed the trees, had suffered twelve months to glide but had never paid a sou beyond by without much heed of either, the preliminary deposit; so that the and more than lived up to an inrevenue, out of which the mortgagee come amply sufficient indeed for the should be paid his interest, was not wants of an ordinary bachelor, but forthcoming. Alain had instructed needing more careful thrift than M. Hébert to press the contractor; could well be expected from the the contractor had replied, that if head of one of the most illustrious not pressed he could soon settle all houses in France, cast so young claims—if pressed, he must declare into the vortex of the most exhimself bankrupt. The Chevalier pensive capital in the world. de Finisterre had laughed at the The poor Marquis glided into the alarm which Alain conceived when grooves that slant downward, much he first found himself in the condi- as the French Marquis of tradition tion of debtor for a sum he could was wont to slide; not that he not pay—creditor for a sum he could appeared to live extravagantly, but not recover.
he needed all he had for his pocket“ Bagatelle !” said the Chevalier. money, and had lost that dread of “Tschu! Collot, if you give him being in debt which he had brought time, is as safe as the Bank of up from the purer atmosphere of France, and Louvier knows it. Bretagne. Louvier will not trouble you- But there were some debts which, Louvier, the best fellow in the of course, a Rochebriant must pay world ! I'll call on him and ex- -debts of honour—and Alain had, plain matters."
on the previous night, incurred such It is to be presumed that the a debt, and must pay it that day. He had been strongly tempted, “ His all? Tut, with such an when the debt rose to the figure it estate as Rochebriant !" had attained, to risk a change of For the first time in that talk luck; but whatever his imprudence, Alain's countenance became overhe was incapable of dishonesty. cast. If the luck did not change, and he “And how long will Rochebriant lost more, he would be without be mine? You know that I hold means to meet his obligations. As it at the mercy of the mortgagee, the debt now stood, he calculated whose interest has not been paid, that he could just discharge it by and who could, if he so pleased, the sale of his coupé and horses. issue notice, take proceedings — It is no wonder he left his letters that unopened, however charming they “Peste !” interrupted De Finismight be; he was quite sure they terre; “Louvier take proceedings ! would contain no cheque which Louvier, the best fellow in the would enable him to pay his debt world! But don't I see his handand retain his equipage.
writing on that envelope? No The door opened, and the valet doubt an invitation to dinner.” announced M. le Chevalier de Finis- Alain took up the letter thus terre—a man with smooth counte- singled forth from a miscellany of nance and air distingué, a pleasant epistles, some in female handwritvoice and perpetual smile.
ings, unsealed but ingeniously “Well, mon cher," cried the twisted into Gordian knots—some Chevalier, “I hope that you re- also in female handwritings, carecovered the favour of Fortune before fully sealed-others in ill-looking you quitted her green table last envelopes, addressed in bold, legible, night. When I left she seemed clerk-like caligraphy. Taken altovery cross with you.”
gether, these epistles had a charac“And so continued to the end,” ter in common; they betokened the answered Alain, with well-simulated correspondence of a viveur, regaiety—much too bon gentilhomme garded from the female side as to betray rage or anguish for pe- young, handsome, well - born; on .cuniary loss.
the male side, as a viveur who had “After all,” said De Finisterre, forgotten to pay his hosier and lighting his cigarette, “the uncertain tailor. goddess could not do you much Louvier wrote a small, not very harm; the stakes were small, and intelligible, but very masculine your adversary, the Prince, never hand, as most men who think goes double or quits."
cautiously and act promptly do “ Nor I either. 'Small,' how. write. The letter ran thus :ever, is a word of relative import; the stakes might be small to you, “ Cher petit Marquis," (at that to me large. Entre nous, cher ami, commencement Alain haughtily I am at the end of my purse, and I raised his head and bit his lips). have only this consolation—I am “ Cher petit Marquis,- It is an cured of play; not that I leave the age since I have seen you. No complaint, the complaint leaves me; doubt my humble soirées are too it can no more feed on me than a dull for a beau seigneur so courted. fever can feed on a skeleton." I forgive you. Would I were a Are you serious ?"
beau seigneur at your age! Alas ! “As serious as a mourner who I am only a commonplace' man of has just buried his all.”
business, growing old, too aloft
do not pay
from the world in which I dwell. sion on my mind. I will set him You can scarcely be aware that I on the man. All will come right, have embarked a great part of my I daresay ; but if it does not come capital in building speculations. right, what would Louvier do ?” There is a Rue de Louvier that “ Louvier do !” answered Finisruns its drains right through my terre, reflectively.
“ Well, do you purse. I am obliged to call in the ask my opinion and advice ?" moneys due to me. My agent in- “Earnestly, I ask.” forms me that I am just 7000 louis “Honestly, then, I answer. I am short of the total I need all other a little on the Bourse myself—most debts being paid in—and that there Parisians are. Louvier has made is a trifle more than 7000 louis
a gigantic speculation in this new owed to me as interest on my hypo- street, and with so many other irons thèque on Rochebriant : kindly pay in the fire he must want all the into his hands before the end of money he can get at. I daresay this week that sum. You have that if
him what you been too lenient to Collot, who must owe, he must leave it to his agent owe you more than that.
Send to take steps for announcing the agent to him.
Désolé to trouble sale of Rochebriant. But he detests you, and am au désespoir to think scandal; he hates the notion of that my own pressing necessities being severe ; rather than that, in compel me to urge you to take so spite of his difficulties, he will buy much trouble. Mais que faire ? Rochebriant of you at a better price The Rue de Louvier stops the way, than it can command at public sale. and I must leave it to my agent to Sell it to him. Appeal to him to clear it.
act generously, and you will flatter “Accept all my excuses, with the him. You will get more than the assurance of my sentiments the most old place is worth. Invest the surcordial. Paul LOUVIER.” plus-live as you have done, or
better and marry an heiress. Alain tossed the letter to · De Morbleu! a Marquis de Rochebriant, Finisterre.“ Read that from the if he were 60 years old, would rank best fellow in the world."
high in the matrimonial market. The Chevalier laid down his The more the democrats have sought cigarette and read. “Diable /" he to impoverish titles and laugh down said, when he returned the letter historical names, the more do rich and resumed the cigarette—“Diable! democrat fathers-in-law seek to dec. Louvier must be much pressed for orate their daughters with titles and money, or he would not have give their grandchildren the heriwritten in this strain. What does tage of historical names. You look it matter? Collot owes you more shocked, pauvre ami. Let us hope, than 7000 louis. Let your lawyer then, that Collot will pay. Set get them, and go to sleep with both your dog-I mean your lawyer-at ears on your pillow."
him ; seize him by the throat !” “ Ah! you think Collot can pay
Before Alain had recovered from if he will ? "
the stately silence with which he “ Ma foi ! did not M. Gandrin had heard this very practical counsel, tell you that M. Collot was safe to the valet again appeared and ushered buy your wood at more money than in M. Frederic Lemercier. any one else would give ?”
There was no cordial acquaintance Certainly," said Alain, com- between the visitors. Lemercier was forted. “Gandrin left that impres- chafed at finding himself supplanted in Alain's intimate companionship and he was surprised as well as by so new a friend, and De Finis- moved by the more than usual terre affected to regard Lemercier warmth with which it was grasped as a would-be exquisite of low birth by the friend he had long neglectand bad taste.
ed. Such affectionate greeting was Alain, too, was a little discom- scarcely in keeping with the pride posed at the sight of Lemercier, which characterised Frederic Leremembering the wise cautions which mercier. that old college friend had wasted “Ma foi !" said the Chevalier, on him at the commencement of his glancing towards the clock, “how Parisian career, and smitten with time flies! I had no idea it was so vain remorse that the cautions had late. I must leave you now, my dear been so arrogantly slighted. Rochebriant. Perhaps we shall meet
It was with some timidity that at the club later—I dine thereto-day. he extended his hand to Frederic, Au plaisir, M. Lemercier."
When the door had closed on the eye over the contents of Louvier's Chevalier, Frederic's countenance letter. became very grave. Drawing his “It is true, then, that you owe chair near to Alain, he said: “We this man a year's interest-more have not seen much of each other than 7000 louis ?” lately, — nay, no excuses; I am “Somewhat more yes.
But well aware that it could scarcely be that is not the first care that otherwise. Paris has grown so
troubles me—Rochebriant may be large and so subdivided into sets, lost, but with it not my honour. I that the best friends belonging to owe the Russian Prince 300 louis, different sets become as divided lost to him last night at ecarté. I as if the Atlantic flowed between must find a purchaser for my coupé them. I come to - day in conse- and horses ; they cost me 600 louis quence of something I have just last year, do you know any one heard from Duplessis. Tell me, who will give me three ?” have you got the money for the “ Pooh! I will give you six; wood you sold to M. Collot a year your alezan alone is worth half the ago
“No," said Alain, falteringly. “My dear Frederic, I will not 66 Good heavens ! none of it?" sell them to you on any account.
“Only the deposit of ten per But you have so many friends cent, which of course I spent, for it formed the greater part of my “ Who would give their soul to income. What of Collot? Is he say, 'I bought these horses of really unsafe ?"
Rochebriant.' Of course I do. Ha ! “He is ruined, and has fled the young Rameau, you are acquainted country. His flight was the talk with him ?” of the Bourse this morning. Du- “ Rameau ! I never heard of plessis told me of it.”
him!” Alain's face paled. “ How is “Vanity of vanities, then what Louvier to be paid ? Read that is fame! Rameau is the editor of letter !"
"Le Sens Commun.' You read that Lemercier rapidly scanned his journal !"