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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 1/113 -










The surprised lapidary rose and opened the door. Two men entered the garret. One of them was tall and thin, with a face mean and pimpled, surrounded by thick, grayish whiskers; he held in his hand a stout loaded cane, and wore a shapeless hat and a large green greatcoat, covered with mud, and buttoned close up to the neck; the black velvet collar, much worn, exposed to view his long, bare, red throat, which resembled a vulture's. This man was one Malicorne. The other was short and thick-set, his countenance equally mean, and his hair red. He was dressed with an attempt at finery, quite ridiculous. Bright studs fastened the front of his shirt, whose cleanliness was more than doubtful; a long gold chain, passed across his second-hand plaid stuff waistcoat, was left to view by a velveteen jacket, of a yellowish-gray color. This man's name was Bourdin.

"Oh, what a stink of misery and death is here!" said Malicorne, stopping at the threshold.

"The fact is, it does not smell of musk. What habits!" repeated Bourdin, turning up his nose in disgust and disdain. He then advanced toward the artisan, who looked at him with mingled surprise and indignation.

Through the half-open door was seen Hoppy's evil, watchful, and cunning face, who, having followed the strangers, unknown to them, was narrowly watching and listening attentively.

"What do you want?" challenged the lapidary, roughly, disgusted with the rudeness of the two men.

"Jerome Morel," responded Bourdin.

"I am he."

"Working jeweler?"

"The same."

"Are you quite sure?"

"Once more, I am that person; you annoy me--what do you want? Explain, or leave the room!"

"Oh, you are coming the _bounce_, are you? I say, Malicorne," said this man, turning toward his companion, "there is no catch here; it is not like the haul at Viscount de Saint-Remy's."

"No, but when there is much, the door is shut against you, as we found in the Rue de---. The bird had watched the net, and would not be taken; while such vermin as these stick to their _cribs_ like a snail to his shell."

"It is my opinion that they only require to be jugged to cram themselves."

"Still the costs will be more than ever the creditor _wolf_ will get here; however, that's his look-out."

"Hold!" said Morel with indignation; "if you were not drunk, as you surely are, I should be very angry. Instantly leave my room!"

"How very sharp you are this morning, old lopsides!" cried Malicorne, insultingly alluding to the deformity in the lapidary's person.

"Do you hear, Malicorne?--he has the impudence to call this place a _room_--a hole where I would not put my dog."

"For heaven's sake!" cried Madeleine, so alarmed, that till then she had not spoken a word, "call for assistance; perhaps they are thieves. Take care of the diamonds!"

In truth, seeing these two strangers, of doubtful appearance, approach nearer and nearer to the bench on which lay the jewels, Morel, fearing some evil intention, ran forward, and with both hands covered the precious stones.

Hoppy, always on the watch, and listening, hearing Madeleine's words, and seeing the movement of the artisan, said to himself; "They say he is a cutter of false stones; if so, he would not fear their being stolen. Just as well to know that. _I take!_ Then again, Mother Mathieu, who comes here so often, is a dealer in _real_; and those she has in her casket are real diamonds. I will put the Owl up to this!" added Red Arm's son.

"If you do not leave this room instantly, I will call the police," said Morel.

The children, frightened at this scene, began to cry, while the old idiot started upright in her bed.

"If any one has a right to call the police, we're the men. Do you hear, Mister Sideways?" said Bourdin.

"You'll see the police lend a hand to take you, if you don't go quietly," added Malicorne; "we have not the magistrate with us, it is true; but if you wish to enjoy his society, you shall have a taste of one, just out of his bed, quite hot and heavy. Bourdin will go and fetch him."

"To prison! Me?" cried the astounded Morel.

"Yes, to Clichy."

"To Clichy!" repeated the artisan, with a wild look.

"Is he hard of hearing?" asked Malicorne.

"Well, then, to the debtor's prison, if you like that better," explained Bourdin.

"You--you--are--can it be?--the lawyer! Oh, my God!"

The artisan, pale as death, fell back on his stool, unable to utter another word.

"We are the officers who are to take you, if we can; do you understand now, old fellow?"

"Morel, it is for the bill in the hands of Louise's master! We are all lost!" said Madeleine, with a sorrowful voice.

"This is the warrant," said Malicorne, taking from his dirty pocket-book a stamped writ.

After having mumbled over in the usual way a part of this document, in a voice hardly intelligible, he pronounced distinctly the last words, unfortunately too well understood by the artisan.--

"As final judgment, the court condemns Jerome Morel to pay to Pierre Petit-Jean, merchant,[Footnote: The crafty notary incompetent to proceed in his own name, had got from the unfortunate Morel a blank acceptance, and had introduced a third party's name.] by all his goods, and even with his body, the sum of thirteen hundred francs, with lawful interest, dated from the day of the protest; and he is besides condemned to pay all other and extra costs. Given and judged at Paris, the 30th of September," etc., etc.

"And Louise, then? Louise!" cried Morel, almost distracted, without appearing to have heard what had just been read. "Where is she? She must have left the lawyer, since he sends me to prison. Louise! my child! what has become of her?"

"Who is this Louise?" said Bourdin.

"Let him alone," said Malicorne. "Don't you see he's coming the artful?" Then, approaching Morel, he added: "Come, to the right-about-face, march; I want to breathe the air, I am poisoned here!"

"Morel, do not go!" said Madeleine, wildly. "Kill them, the thieves! Oh, you are a coward! You will let them take you, and abandon us to our fate."

"Act as though you were at home, madame," said Bourdin, sarcastically; "but if your husband lifts his hand against me, I will give him something to remember it by," continued he, twisting his loaded stick round and round.

Occupied solely with thoughts of Louise, Morel heard nothing of what was said. Suddenly, an expression of bitter joy lighting up his face, he cried out, "Louise has quitted the lawyer's house. I shall go to prison with a light heart!" But then, glancing round him, he exclaimed, "But my wife, and her mother, and my poor children--who will support them? They will not trust me with stones to cut in prison; for it will be supposed that my own misconduct has sent me there. Does this lawyer desire the death of all of us?"

The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 1/113

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