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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 3/113 -
sink under the most painful reflections. Having become calm, he could view far too clearly the horror of his situation. The notary must be pitiless, since he had gone to such extremity; the bailiffs did but do their duty. The artisan was therefore resigned.
"Come, come, let's be marching some time to-day," said Bourdin to him.
"I cannot leave these diamonds here, my wife is half mad," said Morel, pointing to the stones scattered upon the bench; "the person for whom I work will come for them this morning, or in the course of the day. Their amount is considerable."
"Good!" said Hoppy, who still remained near the half-open door: "good, good! Screech-Owl shall know that."
"Grant me only till to-morrow," urged Morel, "that I may restore the diamonds."
"Impossible! We must go immediately."
"But I cannot, by leaving the diamonds here, run the risk of their being lost."
"Take them with you, a coach waits at the door, which you will have to pay for, with the other expenses. We can call on the owner of the stones; if he is not at home you can place them in the registry at Clichy; they will be as safe there as in the bank. Come, make haste; we will slip away before your wife or children are aware of it."
"Grant me only till to-morrow, that I may bury my child!" entreated Morel, with a supplicating voice, half stifled with the sobs he endeavored to restrain.
"No! we have already lost more than an hour waiting here."
"This burying still worries you, then?" added Malicorne.
"Oh! yes, it makes me sad," said Morel, with bitterness; "you so much fear to grieve people. Well, then, a last farewell!"
"There, again! confound you, make haste!" said Malicorne, with brutal impatience.
"How long have you had the order to arrest me?"
"The judgment was signed four months since; but it was only yesterday that our officer received instructions from the lawyer to put it in execution."
"Yesterday only. Why was it delayed so long?"
"How can I tell? Come, pack up."
"Yesterday! and Louise not yet here! Where can she be? what has become of her?" said the lapidary, taking from the bench a card-box filled with cotton, in which he arranged the jewels. "But never mind that; in prison I shall have plenty of time for thinking."
"Come, pack up the duds to take with you, and make haste and dress yourself."
"I have no clothes to pack up: I have only these diamonds to take away, and place in the prison registry."
"Well, then, dress yourself."
"I have no other clothes than these."
"Going out in these rags?" said Bourdin.
"You will be ashamed of me, doubtless," said the lapidary, bitterly.
"No, it is of no consequence, since we go in your coach," answered Malicorne.
"Father, father! mother is calling you," said one of the children.
"You hear?" muttered Morel, rapidly, appealing to one of the bailiffs; "do not be inhuman; grant me a last favor. I have not the courage to say farewell to my wife and children; it would break my heart. If they see you take me away they will run after me, and I would avoid that. I therefore beg of you to say aloud that you will return in three or four days, and pretend to go away; you can wait for me on the landing below; I will come to you in less than five minutes. That will spare me the pain of saying farewell. I will no longer resist, I promise you. I shall go stark mad; I was nearly so just now."
"Not so green!--you want to give us the slip!" said Malicorne, "want to bolt, old son!"
"Oh, God! God!" cried Morel, with mournful indignation.
"I don't think he intends to chouse us," said Bourdin, in a low tone to his companion; "let us do as he wishes, or we'll never get away. I will wait outside the door, there is no other outlet from the garret-- he cannot escape us."
"Very well; but he needn't be so particular about leaving the mucky crib!" Then, addressing Morel in a low voice, he said: "Now then, look sharp, and we will wait for you below. Make haste, and offer some pretense for our going."
"I thank you," said Morel.
"Very well, it shall be so," said Bourdin, in a loud voice, and looking significantly at the artisan; "in such case, as you promise to pay in a short time, we will leave you for the present, and call again in four or five days; but then you must be punctual."
"Yes, gentlemen, I trust I shall then be able to pay you."
The bailiffs left the room; while Hoppy, for fear of being seen, had disappeared down the staircase at the same time the bailiffs quitted the garret.
"Madame Morel, do you hear?" said Miss Dimpleton, trying to withdraw the attention of the mother from her melancholy abstraction; "they will not take away your husband--the two men are gone."
"Mother, don't you hear? they will not take father away," said the eldest of the boys.
"Morel, listen to me," murmured Madeleine, in a state of delirium. "Take one of the large diamonds and sell it--no one will know it, and we shall be saved. Our Adele will no longer feel cold; she will not be dead."
Taking advantage of a moment when none belonging to him were observing his actions, the lapidary cautiously left the room. The bailiff was waiting for him upon a sort of little landing, covered also by the roof. Upon this landing, opened the door of a loft, which had formerly been part of the garret occupied by the Morels, and in which Pipelet kept his stock of leather; and the worthy porter called this place his _box at the play_, because, by means of a hole made in the wall between two laths, he was sometimes a witness to the sad scenes that passed in the Morels' room. The bailiff noticed the door of the loft; in a moment he thought that most likely his prisoner had reckoned upon that outlet for escape, or to hide himself.
"Come, march, old fellow!" said he, beginning to descend the stair, and making a sign to the lapidary to follow.
"One minute more, I beseech!" said Morel; and he fell on his knees upon the floor. Through a chink in the door, he threw a last look upon his family, and clasping his hands, he uttered, in a low, heart-rending voice, while tears flowed down his haggard cheeks: "Farewell, my dear children--my poor wife! may heaven preserve you all! Farewell!"
"Make haste and cut that sermon," said Bourdin, brutally, "Malicorne is quite right; you needn't make so much fuss about leaving the stinking kennel. What a hole! what a hole!"
Morel rose to follow the bailiff, when the words "Father! father!" sounded on the staircase.
"Louise!" exclaimed the lapidary, raising his hands toward heaven; "I can then clasp you to my breast before I go!"
"I thank thee, God, I am in time!" said the voice, approaching nearer and nearer, and light steps were heard rapidly ascending the stairs.
"Be calm, my dear," said a third voice, sharp, asthmatic, and out of breath, coming from a lower part of the house;
"I will lay in wait, if I must, in the alley, with my broom and my old darling, and they sha'n't leave here till you have spoken to them, the contemptible beggars!"
The reader has doubtless recognized Mrs. Pipelet, who, less nimble than Louise, followed her slowly. An instant after, the lapidary's daughter was in her father's arms.
"It is indeed you, Louise, my darling Louise!" said Morel, crying; "but how pale you are! For mercy's sake what ails you?"
"Nothing, nothing, father," stammered Louise. "I have run so fast. Here is the money!"
"How is this?"
"You are free!"
"So you know?"
"Yes, yes! Here, sir, take the money," said the young girl, giving a rouleau of gold to Malicorne.
"But this money, Louise--this money?"
"You shall know all presently; don't be uneasy. Come and comfort dear mother."
"No, not now!" exclaimed Morel, placing himself before the door, remembering that Louise was still in ignorance of the death of the little girl; "wait, I must speak to you. Now, about this money?"
"Stay!" said Malicorne, as he finished counting the gold, and while putting it in his pocket; "sixty-four, sixty-five--that will just make thirteen hundred francs. Have you no more than that, my little dear?"
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