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XII

It was with convulsive haste that the Baroness de Thaller went over
the distance that separated the Rue St. Lazare from the Rue de la
Pepiniere. The sudden intervention of M. de Tregars had upset all
her ideas. The most sinister presentiments agitated her mind. In
the courtyard of her residence, all the servants, gathered in a
group, were talking. They did not take the trouble to stand aside
to let her pass; and she even noticed some smiles and ironical
gigglings. This was a terrible blow to her. What was the matter?
What had they heard? In the magnificent vestibule, a man was
sitting as she came in. It was the same suspicious character that
Marius de Tregars had seen in the grand parlor, in close conference
with the baroness.

"Bad news." he said with a sheepish look.

"What?"

"That little Lucienne must have her soul riveted to her body. She
is only wounded; and she'll get over it."

"Never mind Lucienne. What about M. de Tregars?"

"Oh! he is another sharp one. Instead of taking up our man's
provocation, he collared him, and took away from him the note I
had sent him."

Mme. de Thaller started violently..

"What is the meaning, then," she asked, "of your letter of last
night, in which you requested me to hand two thousand francs to
the bearer?"

The man became pale as death.

"You received a letter from me," he stammered, "last night?"

"Yes, from you; and I gave the money."

The man struck his forehead.

"I understand it all!" he exclaimed.

"What?"

"They wanted proofs. They imitated my handwriting, and you swallowed
the bait. That's the reason why I spent the night in the
station-house; and, if they let me go this morning, it was to find
out where I'd go. I have been followed, they are shadowing me. We
are gone up, Mme. le Baronne. Sauve qui peut!"

And he ran out.

More agitated than ever Mme. de Thaller went up stairs. In the
little red-and-gold parlor, the Baron de Thaller and Mlle. Cesarine
were waiting for her. Stretched upon an arm-chair, her legs crossed,
the tip of her boot on a level with her eye, Mlle. Cesarine, with
a look of ironical curiosity, was watching her father, who, livid
and trembling with nervous excitement, was walking up and down, like
a wild beast in his cage. As soon as the baroness appeared,

"Things are going badly," said her husband, "very badly. Our game
is devilishly compromised."

"You think so?"

"I am but too sure of it. Such a well-combined stroke too! But
every thing is against us. In presence of the examining magistrate,
Jottras held out well; but Saint Pavin spoke. That dirty rascal
was not satisfied with the share allotted to him. On the
information furnished by him, Costeclar was arrested this morning.
And Costeclar knows all, since he has been your confidant, Vincent
Favoral's, and my own. When a man has, like him, two or three
forgeries in his record, he is sure to speak. He will speak.
Perhaps he has already done so, since the police has taken
possession of Latterman's office, with whom I had organized the
panic and the tumble in the Mutual Credit stock. What can we do
to ward off this blow?"

With a surer glance than her husband, Mme. de Thaller had measured
the situation.

"Do not try to ward it off," she replied: "It would be useless."

"Because?"

"Because M. de Tregars has found Vincent Favoral; because, at this
very moment, they are together, arranging their plans."

The baron made a terrible gesture.

"Ab, thunder and lightning!" he exclaimed. "I always told you that
this stupid fool, Favoral, would cause our ruin. It was so easy
for you to find an occasion for him to blow his brains out."

"Was it so difficult for you to accept, M. de Tregars' offers?"

"It was you who made me refuse."

"Was it me, too, who was so anxious to get rid of Lucienne?"

For years, Mlle. Cesarine had not seemed so amused; and, in a half
whisper, she was humming the famous tune, from "The Pearl of
Poutoise,"

"Happy accord! Happy couple!"

M. de Thaller, beside himself, was advancing to seize the baroness:
she was drawing back, knowing him, perhaps to be capable of any
thing, when suddenly there was a violent knocking at the door.

"In the name of the law!"

It was a commissary of police.

And, whilst surrounded by agents, they were taken to a cab.


"Orphan on both sides!" exclaimed Mlle. Cesarine, "I am free, then.
Now we'll have some fun!"

At that very moment, M. de Tregars and Mlle. Gilberte reached the
Rue St. Giles.

Hearing that her husband had been found,

"I must see him!" exclaimed Mme. Favoral.

And, in spite of any thing they could tell her, she threw a shawl
over her shoulders, and started with Mlle. Gilberte.

When they had entered Mme. Zelie's apartment, of which they had a
key, they found in the parlor, with his back towards them, Vincent
Favoral sitting at the table, leaning forward, and apparently
writing. Mme. Favoral approached on tiptoe, and over her husband's
shoulder she read what he had just written,

"Affrays, my beloved, eternally-adored mistress, will you forgive
me? The money that I was keeping for you, my darling, the proofs
which will crush your husband - they have taken every thing from me,
basely, by force. And it is my daughter - "

He had stopped there. Surprised at his immobility, Mme. Favoral
called,

"Vincent!"

He made no answer. She pushed him with her finger. He rolled to
the ground. He was dead.

Three months later the great Mutual Credit suit was tried before
the Sixth Court. The scandal was great; but public curiosity was
strangely disappointed. As in most of these financial affairs,
justice, whilst exposing the most audacious frauds, was not able
to unravel the true secret.

She managed, at least, to lay hands upon every thing that the
Baron de Thaller had hoped to save. That worthy was condemned to
five years' prison; M. Costeclar got off with three years; and M.
Jottras with two. M. Saint Pavin was acquitted.

Arrested for subornation of murder, the former Marquise de Javelle
the Baroness de Thaller, was released for want of proper proof. But,
implicated in the suit against her husband, she lost three-fourths
of her fortune, and is now living with her daughter, whose debut is
announced at the Bouffes-Parisiens, or at the Delassements-Comiques.

Already, before that time, Mlle. Lucienne, completely restored, had
married Maxence Favoral.

Of the five hundred thousand francs which were returned to her, she
applied three hundred thousand to discharge the debts of her
father-in-law, and with the rest she induced her husband to emigrate
to America. Paris had become odious to both.

Marius and Mlle. Gilberte, who has now become Marquise de Tregars,
have taken up their residence at the Chateau de Tregars, three
leagues from Quimper. They have been followed in their retreat by
Mme. Favoral and by General Count de Vil1egre.

The greater portion of his father's fortune, Marius had applied to
pay off all the personal creditors of the former cashier of the
Mutual Credit, all the trades-people, and also M. Chapelain, old
man Desormeaux, and M. and Mme. Desclavettes.

All that is left to the Marquis and Marquise de Tregars is some
twenty thousand francs a year, and if they ever lose them, it will
not be at the bourse.

The Mutual Credit is quoted at 467.25!



The End






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