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XVII

"Better kill her at once," said Mlle. Gilberte coldly. "She would
suffer less."

It was by a torrent of invective that M. Favoral replied. His rage,
dammed up for the past four days, finding at last an outlet, flowed
in gross insults and insane threats. He spoke of throwing out in
the street his wife and children, or starving them out, or shutting
up his daughter in a house of correction; until at last, language
failing his fury, beside himself, he left, swearing that he would
bring M. Costeclar home himself, and then they would see.

"Very well, we shall see," said Mlle. Gilberte.

Motionless in his place, and white as a plaster cast, Maxence had
witnessed this lamentable scene. A gleam of common-sense had
enabled him to control his indignation, and to remain silent. He
had understood, that, at the first word, his father's fury would
have turned against him; and then what might have happened? The
most frightful dramas of the criminal courts have often had no
other origin.

"No, this is no longer bearable!" he exclaimed.

Even at the time of his greatest follies, Maxence had always had
for his sister a fraternal affection. He admired her from the day
she had stood up before him to reproach him for his misconduct. He
envied her her quiet determination, her patient tenacity, and that
calm energy that never failed her.

"Have patience, my poor Gilberte," he added: "the day is not far,
I hope, when I may commence to repay you all you have done for me.
I have not lost my time since you restored me my reason. I have
arranged with my creditors. I have found a situation, which, if
not brilliant, is at least sufficiently lucrative to enable me
before long to offer you, as well as to our mother, a peaceful
retreat."

"But it is to-morrow," interrupted Mme. Favoral, "to-morrow that
your father is to bring M. Costeclar. He has said so, and he will
do it."

And so he did. About two o'clock in the afternoon M. Favoral and
his protege arrived in the Rue St. Gilles, in that famous coupe
with the two horses, which excited the wonder of the neighbors.

But Mlle. Gilberte bad her plan ready. She was on the lookout;
and, as soon as she heard the carriage stop, she ran to her room,
undressed in a twinkling, and went to bed.

When her father came for her, and saw her in bed, he remained
surprised and puzzled on the threshold of the door.

"And yet I'll make you come into the parlor!" he said in a hoarse
voice.

"Then you must carry me there as I am," she said in a tone of
defiance; "for I shall certainly not get up."

For the first time since his marriage, M. Favoral met in his own
house a more inflexible will than his own, and a more unyielding
obstinacy. He was baffled. He threatened his daughter with his
clinched fists, but could discover no means of making her obey.
He was compelled to surrender, to yield.

"This will be settled with the rest," he growled, as he went out.

"I fear nothing in the world, father," said the girl.

It was almost true, so much did the thought of Marius de Tregars
inflame her courage. Twice already she had heard from him through
the Signor Gismondo Pulei, who never tired talking of this new pupil,
to whom he had already given two lessons.

"He is the most gallant man in the world," he said, his eye sparkling
with enthusiasm, " and the bravest, and the most generous, and the
best; and no quality that can adorn one of God's creatures shall be
wanting in him when I have taught him the divine art. It is not
with a little contemptible gold that he means to reward my zeal.
To him I am as a second father; and it is with the confidence of a
son that he explains to me his labors and his hopes."

Thus Mlle. Gilberte learned through the old maestro, that the
newspaper article she had read was almost exactly true, and that
M. de Tregars and M. Marcolet had become associated for the purpose
of working, in joint account, certain recent discoveries, which bid
fair to yield large profits in a near future.

"And yet it is for my sake alone that he has thus thrown himself
into the turmoil of business, and has become as eager for gain as
that M. Marcolet himself."

And, at the height of her father's persecutions, she felt glad of
what she had done, and of her boldness in placing her destiny in the
hands of a stranger. The memory of Marius had become her refuge,
the element of all her dreams and of all her hopes; in a word, her
life.

It was of Marius she was thinking, when her mother, surprising her
gazing into vacancy, would ask her, "What are you thinking of?" And,
at every new vexation she had to endure, her imagination decked him
with a new quality, and she clung to him with a more desperate grasp.

"How much he would grieve," thought she, "if he knew of what
persecution I am the object!"

And very careful was she not to allow the Signor Gismondo Pulei to
suspect any thing of it, affecting, on the contrary, in his presence,
the most cheerful serenity.

And yet she was a prey to the most cruel anxiety, since she observed
a new and most incredible transformation in her father.

That man so violent and so harsh, who flattered himself never to
have been bent, who boasted never to have forgotten or forgiven any
thing, that domestic tyrant, had become quite a debonair personage.
He had referred to the expedient imagined by Mlle. Gilberte only to
laugh at it, saying that it was a good trick, and he deserved it;
for he repented bitterly, he protested, his past brutalities.

He owned that he had at heart his daughter's marriage with M.
Costeclar; but he acknowledged that he had made use of the surest
means for making it fail. He should, he humbly confessed, have
expected every thing of time and circumstances, of M. Costeclar's
excellent qualities, and of his beautiful, darling daughter's
good sense.

More than of all his violence, Mme. Favoral was terrified at this
affected good nature.

"Dear me!" she sighed, "what does it all mean?"

But the cashier of the Mutual Credit was not preparing any new
surprise to his family. If the means were different, it was still
the same object that he was pursuing with the tenacity of an insect.
When severity had failed, he hoped to succeed by gentleness, that's
all. Only this assumption of hypocritical meekness was too new
to him to deceive any one. At every moment the mask fell off, the
claws showed, and his voice trembled with ill-suppressed rage in
the midst of his most honeyed phrases.

Moreover, he entertained the strangest illusions. Because for
forty-eight hours he had acted the part of a good-natured man,
because one Sunday he had taken his wife and daughter out riding in
the Bois de Vincennes, because he had given Maxence a hundred-franc
note, he imagined that it was all over, that the past was obliterated,
forgotten, and forgiven.

And, drawing Gilberte upon his knees,

"Well, daughter," he said, "you see that I don't importune you any
more, and I leave you quite free. I am more reasonable than you are."

But on the other hand, and according to an expression which escaped
him later, he tried to turn the enemy.

He did every thing in his power to spread in the neighborhood the
rumor of Mlle. Gilberte's marriage with a financier of colossal
wealth, - that elegant young man who came in a coupe with two horses.
Mme. Favoral could not enter a shop without being covertly
complimented upon having found such a magnificent establishment for
her daughter.

Loud, indeed, must have been the gossip; for its echo reached even
the inattentive ears of the Signor Gismondo Pulei.

One day, suddenly interrupting his lesson, - "You are going to be
married, signora?" he inquired.

Mlle. Gilberte started.

What the old Italian had heard, he would surely ere long repeat to
Marius. It was therefore urgent to undeceive him.

"It is true," she replied, "that something has been said about a
marriage, dear maestro."

"Ah, ah!"

"Only my father had not consulted me. That marriage will never
take place: I swear it."

She expressed herself in a tone of such ardent conviction, that the
old gentleman was quite astonished, little dreaming that it was not
to him that this energetic denial was addressed.

"My destiny is irrevocably fixed," added Mlle. Gilberte. "When I
marry, I will consult the inspirations of my heart only."

In the mean time, it was a veritable conspiracy against her. M.
Favoral had succeeded in interesting in the success of his designs
his habitual guests, not M. and Mme. Desciavettes, who had been
seduced from the first, but M. Chapelain and old Desormeaux himself.
So that they all vied with each other in their efforts to bring the
"dear child" to reason, and to enlighten her with their counsels.

"Father must have a still more considerable interest in this alliance
than he has allowed us to think," she remarked to her brother.
Maxence was also absolutely of the same opinion.

"And then," he added, "our father must be terribly rich; for, do not
deceive yourself, it isn't solely for your pretty blue eyes that
this Costeclar persists in coming here twice a week to pocket a new
mortification. What enormous dowry can he be hoping for? I am
going to speak to him myself, and try to find out what he is after."

But Mlle. Gilberte had but slight confidence in her brother's
diplomacy.

"I beg of you," she said, "don't meddle with that business!"

"Yes, yes, I will! Fear nothing, I'll be prudent."

Having taken his resolution, Maxence placed himself on the lookout;
and the very next day, as M. Costeclar was stepping out of his
carriage at the door, he walked straight up to him.

"I wish to speak to you, sir," he said. Self-possessed as he was,
the brilliant financier succeeded but poorly in concealing a surprise
that looked very much like fright.

"I am going in to call on your parents, sir," he replied; "and whilst
waiting for your father, with whom I have an appointment, I shall be
at your command."

"No, no!" interrupted Maxence. "What I have to say must be heard by
you alone. Come along this way, and we shall not be interrupted."

And he led M. Costeclar away as far as the Place Royal. Once there,

"You are very anxious to marry my sister, sir," he commenced.

During their short walk M. Costeclar had recovered himself. He had
resumed all his impertinent assurance. Looking at Maxence from head
to foot with any thing but a friendly look,

"It is my dearest and my most ardent wish, sir," he replied.

"Very well. But you must have noticed the very slight success, to
use no harsher word, of your assiduities."

"Alas!"

"And, perhaps, you will judge, like myself, that it would be the act
of a gentleman to withdraw in presence of such positive-repugnance?"

An ugly smile was wandering upon M. Costeclar's pale lips.

"Is it at the request of your sister, sir, that you make me this
communication?"

"No, sir."

"Are you aware whether your sister has some inclination that may be
an obstacle to the realization of my hopes?"

"Sir!"

"Excuse me! What I say has nothing to offend. It might very well
be that your sister, before I had the honor of being introduced to
her, had already fixed her choice."

He spoke so loud, that Maxence looked sharply around to see whether
there was not some one within hearing. He saw no one but a young
man, who seemed quite absorbed reading a newspaper.

"But, sir," he resumed, "what would you answer, if I, the brother
of the young lady whom you wish to marry against her wishes, - I
called upon you to cease your assiduities?

M. Costeclar bowed ceremoniously,

"I would answer you, sir," he uttered, "that your father's assent
is sufficient for me. My suit has nothing but is honorable. Your
sister may not like me: that is a misfortune; but it is not
irreparable. When she knows me better, I venture to hope that she
will overcome her unjust prejudices. Therefore I shall persist."

Maxence insisted no more. He was irritated at M. Costeclar's
coolness; but it was not his intention to push things further.

"There will always be time," he thought, "to resort to violent
measures."

But when he reported this conversation to his sister,

"It is clear," he said, "that, between our father and that man,
there is a community of interests which I am unable to discover.
What business have they together? In what respect can your marriage
either help or injure them? I must see, try and find out exactly
who is this Costeclar: the deuse take him!"

He started out the same day, and had not far to go.

M. Costeclar was one of those personalities which only bloom in
Paris, and are only met in Paris, - the same as cab-horses, and
young ladies with yellow chignons.

He knew everybody, and everybody knew him.

He was well known at the bourse, in all the principal restaurants,
where he called the waiters by their first names, at the box-office
of the theatres, at all the pool-rooms, and at the European Club,
otherwise called the Nomadic Club, of which he was a member.

He operated at the bourse: that was sure. He was said to own a
third interest in a stock-broker's office. He had a good deal of
business with M. Jottras, of the house of Jottras and Brother, and
M. Saint Pavin, the manager of a very popular journal, "The Financial
Pilot."

It was further known that he had on Rue Vivienne, a magnificent
apartment, and that he had successively honored with his liberal
protection Mlle. Sidney of the Varieties, and Mme. Jenny Fancy, a
lady of a certain age already, but so situated as to return to her
lovers in notoriety what they gave her in good money. So much did
Maxence learn without difficulty. As to any more precise details,
it was impossible to obtain them. To his pressing questions upon
M. Costeclar's antecedents,

"He is a perfectly honest man," answered some.

"He is simply a speculator," affirmed others.

But all agreed that he was a sharp one," who would surely make his
fortune, and without passing through the police-courts, either.

"How can our father and such a man be so intimately connected?"
wondered Maxence and his sister.

And they were lost in conjectures, when suddenly, at an hour when
he never set his foot in the house, M. Favoral appeared.

Throwing a letter upon his daughter's lap,

"See what I have just received from Costeclar," he said in a hoarse
voice. "Read."

She read, "Allow me, dear friend, to release you from your engagement.
Owing to circumstances absolutely beyond my control, I find myself
compelled to give up the honor of becoming a member of your family."

What could have happened?

Standing in the middle of the parlor, the cashier of the Mutual Credit
held, bowed down beneath his glance, his wife and children, Mme.
Favoral trembling, Maxence starting in mute surprise, and Mlle.
Gilberte, who needed all the strength of her will to control the
explosion of her immense joy.

Every thing in M. Favoral betrayed, nevertheless, much more the
excitement of a disaster than the rage of a deception.

Never had his family seen him thus, - livid, his cravat undone, his
hair wet with perspiration, and clinging to his temples.

"Will you please explain this letter? " he asked at last.

And, as no one answered him, he took up that letter again from the
table where Mlle. Gilberte bad laid it, and commenced reading it
again, scanning each syllable, as if in hopes of discovering in each
word some hidden meaning.

"What did you say to Costeclar?" he resumed, "what did you do to
him to make him take such a determination?"

"Nothing," answered Maxence and Mlle. Gilberte.

The hope of being at last rid of that man inspired Mme. Favoral with
something like courage.

"He has doubtless understood," she meekly suggested, "that he could
not triumph over our daughters repugnance."

But her husband interrupted her,

"No," he uttered, "Costeclar is not the man to trouble himself about
the ridiculous caprices of a little girl. There is something else.
But what is it? Come, if you know it, any of you, if you suspect it
even, speak, say it. You must see that I am in a state of fearful
anxiety."

It was the first time that he thus allowed something to appear of
what was passing within him, the first time that he ever complained.

"M. Costeclar alone, father, can give you the explanation you ask of
us," said Mlle. Gilberte.

The cashier of the Mutual Credit shook his head. "Do you suppose,
then, that I have not questioned him? I found his letter this
morning at the office. At once I ran to his apartments, Rue
Vivienne. He had just gone out; and it is in vain that I called
for him at Jottras', and at the office of 'The Financial Pilot.'
I found him at last at the bourse, after running three hours. But
I could only get from him evasive answers and vague explanations.
Of course he did not fail to say, that, if he does withdraw, it is
because he despairs of ever succeeding in pleasing Gilberte. But
it isn't so: I know it; I am sure of it; I read it in his eyes.
Twice his lips moved as if he were about to confess all; and then
he said nothing. And the more I insisted, the more he seemed ill
at ease, embarrassed, uneasy, troubled, the more he appeared to me
like a man who has been threatened, and dares not brave the threat."

He directed upon his children one of those obstinate looks which
search the inmost depths of the conscience.

"If you have done any thing to drive him off," he resumed, "confess
it frankly, and I swear I will not reproach you."

"We did not."

"You did not threaten him?"

"No!"

M. Favoral seemed appalled.

"Doubtless you deceive me," he said, "and I hope you do. Unhappy
children! you do not know what this rupture may cost you.

And, instead of returning to his office, he shut himself up in that
little room which he called his study, and only came out of it at
about five o'clock, holding under his arm an enormous bundle of
papers, and saying that it was useless to wait for him for dinner,
as he would not come home until late in the night, if he came home
at all, being compelled to make up for his lost day.

"What is the matter with your father, my poor children?" exclaimed
Mme. Favoral. "I have never seen him in such a state."

"Doubtless," replied Maxence, "the rupture with Costeclar is going
to break up some combination."

But that explanation did not satisfy him any more than it did his
mother. He, too, felt a vague apprehension of some impending
misfortune. But what? He had nothing upon which to base his
conjectures. He knew nothing, any more than his mother, of his
father's affairs, of his relations, of his interests, or even of
his life, outside the house.

And mother and son lost themselves in suppositions as vain as if
they had tried to find the solution of a problem, without possessing
its terms.

With a single word Mlle. Gilberte thought she might have enlightened
them.

In the unerring certainty of the blow, in the crushing promptness
of the result, she thought she could recognize the hand of Marius
de Tregars.

She recognized the hand of the man who acts, and does not talk.
And the girl's pride felt flattered by this victory, by this proof
of the powerful energy of the man whom, unknown to all, she had
selected. She liked to imagine Marius de Tregars and M. Costeclar
in presence of each other, - the one as imperious and haughty as
she had seen him meek and trembling; the other more humble still
than he was arrogant with her.

"One thing is certain," she repeated to herself; "and that is, I
am saved."

And she wished the morrow to come, that she might announce her
happiness to the very involuntary and very unconscious accomplice
of Marius, the worthy Maestro Gismondo Pulei.

The next day M. Favoral seemed to have resigned himself to the
failure of his projects; and, the following Saturday, he told as a
pleasant joke, how Mlle. Gilberte had carried the day, and had
managed to dismiss her lover.

But a close observer could discover in him symptoms of devouring
cares. Deep wrinkles showed along his temples; his eyes were sunken;
a continued tension of mind contracted his features. Often during
the dinner he would remain motionless for several minutes, his
fork aloft; and then he would murmur, "How is it all going to end?"

Sometimes in the morning, before his departure for his office, M.
Jottras, of the house of Jottras and Brother, and M. Saint Pavin,
the manager of "The Financial Pilot," came to see him. They
closeted themselves together, and remained for hours in conference,
speaking so low, that not even a vague murmur could be heard
outside the door.

"Your father has grave subjects of anxiety, my children," said Mme.
Favoral: "you may believe me, - me, who for twenty years have been
trying to guess our fate upon his countenance."

But the political events were sufficient to explain any amount of
anxiety. It was the second week of July, 1870; and the destinies
of France trembled, as upon a cast of the dice, in the hands of a
few presumptuous incapables. Was it war with Prussia, or was it
peace, that was to issue from the complications of a childishly
astute policy?

The most contradictory rumors caused daily at the bourse the most
violent oscillations, which endangered the safest fortunes. A few
words uttered in a corridor by Emile Ollivier had made a dozen heavy
operators rich, but had ruined five hundred small ones. On all
hands, credit was trembling.

Until one evening when he came home,

"War is declared," said M. Favoral.

It was but too true; and no one then had any fears of the result
for France. They had so much exalted the French army, they had
so often said that it was invincible, that every one among the
public expected a series of crushing victories.

Alas! the first telegram announced a defeat. People refused to
believe it at first. But there was the evidence. The soldiers had
died bravely; but the chiefs had been incapable of leading them.

From that time, and with a vertiginous rapidity, from day to day,
from hour to hour, the fatal news came crowding on. Like a river
that overflows its banks, Prussia was overrunning France. Bazaine
was surrounded at Metz; and the capitulation of Sedan capped the
climax of so many disasters.

At last, on the 4th of September, the republic was proclaimed.

On the 5th, when the Signor Gismondo Pulei presented himself at Rue
St. Gilles, his face bore such an expression of anguish, that Mlle.
Gilberte could not help asking what was the matter.

He rose on that question, and, threatening heaven with his clinched
fist,

"Implacable fate does not tire to persecute me," he replied. "I
had overcome all obstacles: I was happy: I was looking forward to
a future of fortune and glory. No, the dreadful war must break out."

For the worthy maestro, this terrible catastrophe was but a new
caprice of his own destiny.

"What has happened to you?" inquired the young girl, repressing a
smile.

"It happens to me, signora, that I am about to lose my beloved
pupil. He leaves me; he forsakes me. In vain have I thrown myself
at his feet. My tears have not been able to detain him. He is going
to fight; he leaves; he is a soldier!"

Then it was given to Mlle. Gilberte to see clearly within her soul.
Then she understood how absolutely she had given herself up, and to
what extent she had ceased to belong to herself.

Her sensation was terrible, such as if her whole blood had suddenly
escaped through her open arteries. She turned pale, her teeth
chattered; and she seemed so near fainting, that the Signor Gismondo
sprang to the door, crying, "Help, help! she is dying."

Mme. Favoral, frightened, came running in. But already, thanks to
an all-powerful projection of will, Mlle. Gilberte had recovered,
and, smiling a pale smile,

"It's nothing, mamma," she said. "A sudden pain in the head; but
it's gone already."

The worthy maestro was in perfect agony. Taking Mme. Favoral aside,

"It is my fault," he said. "It is the story of my unheard-of
misfortunes that has upset her thus. Monstrous egotist that I am!
I should have been careful of her exquisite sensibility."

She insisted, nevertheless, upon taking her lesson as usual, and
recovered enough presence of mind to extract from the Signor Gismondo
everything that his much-regretted pupil had confided to him.

That was not much. He knew that his pupil had gone, like anyone
else, to Rue de Cherche Midi; that he had signed an engagement;
and had been ordered to join a regiment in process of formation
near Tours. And, as he went out,

"That is nothing," said the kind maestro to Mme. Favoral. "The
signora has quite recovered, and is as gay as a lark."

The signora, shut up in her room, was shedding bitter tears. She
tried to reason with herself, and could not succeed. Never had
the strangeness of her situation so clearly appeared to her. She
repeated to herself that she must be mad to have thus become
attached to a stranger. She wondered how she could have allowed
that love, which was now her very life, to take possession of her
soul. But to what end? It no longer rested with her to undo what
had been done.

When she thought that Marius de Tregars was about to leave Paris
to become a soldier, to fight, to die perhaps, she felt her head
whirl; she saw nothing around her but despair and chaos.

And, the more she thought, the more certain she felt that Marius
could not have trusted solely to the chance gossip of the Signor
Pulei to communicate to her his determination.

"It is perfectly inadmissible," she thought. "It is impossible that
he will not make an effort to see me before going."

Thoroughly imbued with the idea, she wiped her eyes, took a seat
by an open window; and, whilst apparently busy with her work, she
concentrated her whole attention upon the street.

There were more people out than usual. The recent events had
stirred Paris to its lowest depths, and, as from the crater of a
volcano in labor, all the social scoriae rose to the surface. Men
of sinister appearance left their haunts, and wandered through the
city. The workshops were all deserted; and people strolled at
random, stupor or terror painted on their countenance. But in vain
did Mlle. Gilberte seek in all this crowd the one she hoped to see.
The hours went by, and she was getting discouraged, when suddenly,
towards dusk, at the corner of the Rue Turenne,

"'Tis he," cried a voice within her.

It was, in fact, M. de Tregars. He was walking towards the
Boulevard, slowly, and his eyes raised.

Palpitating, the girl rose to her feet. She was in one of those
moments of crisis when the blood, rushing to the brain, smothers
all judgment. Unconscious, as it were, of her acts, she leaned
over the window, and made a sign to Marius, which he understood very
well, and which meant, "Wait, I am coming down."

"Where are you going, dear?" asked Mme. Favoral, seeing Gilberte
putting on her bonnet.

"To the shop, mamma, to get a shade of worsted I need."

Mlle. Gilberte was not in the habit of going out alone; but it
happened quite often that she would go down in the neighborhood on
some little errand.

"Do you wish the girl to go out with you?" asked Mme. Favoral.

"Oh, it isn't worth while!"

She ran down the stairs; and once out, regardless of the looks that
might be watching her, she walked straight to M. de Tregars, who was
waiting on the corner of the Rue des Minimes.

"You are going away?" she said, too much agitated to notice his own
emotion, which was, however, quite evident.

"I must," he answered.

"Oh!"

"When France is invaded, the place for a man who bears my name is
where the fighting is."

"But there will be fighting in Paris too."

"Paris has four times as many defenders as it needs. It is outside
that soldiers will be wanted."

They walked slowly, as they spoke thus, along the Rue des Minimes,
one of the least frequented in Paris; and there were only to be
seen at this hour five or six soldiers talking in front of the
barracks gate.

"Suppose I were to beg you not to go," resumed Mlle. Gilberte.
"Suppose I beseeched you, Marius!"

"I should remain then," he answered in a troubled voice; "but I
would be betraying my duty, and failing to my honor; and remorse
would weigh upon our whole life. Command now, and I will obey."

They had stopped; and no one seeing them standing there side by
side affectionate and familiar could have believed that they were
speaking to each other for the first time. They themselves did not
notice it, so much had they come, with the help of all-powerful
imagination, and in spite of separation, to the understanding of
intimacy. After a moment of painful reflection,

"I do not ask you any longer to stay," uttered the young girl.
He took her hand, and raised it to his lips.

"I expected no less of your courage," he said, his voice vibrating
with love. But he controlled himself, and, in a more quiet tone,

"Thanks to the indiscretion of Pulei," he added, "I was in hopes of
seeing you, but not to have the happiness of speaking to you. I
had written "

He drew from his pocket a large envelope, and, handing it to Mlle.
Gilberte,

"Here is the letter," he continued, "which I intended for you. It
contains another, which I beg you to preserve carefully, and not to
open unless I do not return. I leave you in Paris a devoted friend,
the Count de Villegre. Whatever may happen to you, apply to him
with all confidence, as you would to myself."

Mlle. Gilberte, staggering, leaned against the wall.

"When do you expect to leave?" she inquired.

"This very night. Communications may he cut off at any moment."

Admirable in her sorrow, but also full of energy, the poor girl
looked up, and held out her hand to him.

"Go then," she said, "0 my only friend! go, since honor commands.
But do not forget that it is not your life alone that you are going
to risk."

And, fearing to burst into sobs, she fled, and reached the Rue St.
Gilles a few moments before her father, who had gone out in quest
of news.

Those he brought home were of the most sinister kind.

Like the rising tide, the Prussians spread and advanced, slowly,
but steadily. Their marches were numbered; and the day and hour
could be named when their flood would come and strike the walls
of Paris.

And so, at all the railroad stations, there was a prodigious rush
of people who wished to leave at any, cost, in any way, in the
baggage-car if needs be, and who certainly were not, like Marius,
rushing to meet the enemy.

One after another, M. Favoral had seen nearly every one he knew
take flight.

The Baron and Baroness de Thaller and their daughter had gone to
Switzerland; M. Costeclar was traveling in Belgium; the elder
Jottras was in England, buying guns and cartridge; and if the
younger Jottras, with M. Saint Pavin of "The Financial Pilot,"
remained in Paris, it was because, through the gallant influence
of a lady whose name was not mentioned, they had obtained some
valuable contracts from the government.

The perplexities of the cashier of the Mutual Credit were great.
The day that the Baron and the Baroness de Thaller had left,

"Pack up our trunks," he ordered his wife. "The bourse is going
to close; and the Mutual Credit can very well get along without me."

But the next day he became undecided again. What Mlle. Gilberte
thought she could guess, was, that he was dying to start alone, and
leave his family, but dared not do it. He hesitated so long, that
at last, one evening,

"You may unpack the trunks," he said to his wife. "Paris is
invested; and no one can now leave."





Other People's Money by Emile Gaboriau
Category:
General Fiction
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