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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 30/113 -


to her whom he believes to be his daughter, until then unhappy and abandoned, he will renew those ties which I had thought indissoluble. The predictions of my nurse will at length be realized, and I shall have this time surely attained the constant aim of my life--a crown." Hardly had Sarah left the mansion of the notary, than Charles Robert entered it, descending from an elegant cabriolet: he turned toward the private cabinet, as one having free admission.

CHAPTER VIII.

CHARLES ROBERT.

The new-comer entered without any ceremony the notary's office, who was in a very thoughtful and splenetic mood, and who said to him very roughly, "I reserve the afternoon for my clients; when you wish to speak to me, come in the morning."

"My dear scribbler" (this was one of the pleasantries of M. Robert), "it is concerning an important affair, in the first place, and then I wish to assure you myself concerning the fears that you might have."

"What fears?"

"Do you not know?"

"What?"

"My duel with the Duke de Lucenay. Are you ignorant of it?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Why this duel?"

"Something very serious, which required blood. Just imagine that, in the face of the whole embassy, M. de Lucenay allowed himself to say to me, to my face, that I had a cough, a complaint that must be very ridiculous."

"You fought for this?"

"And what the devil would you have one to fight for? Do you think that one could, in cold blood, hear one's self accused of having a cough? and before a charming woman, too; what is more, before a little marchioness, who, in brief--it could not be overlooked."

"Certainly."

"We soldiers, you understand, we are always on the look out. My seconds, the day before yesterday, had an interview with those of the duke. I had the question placed very plainly; a duel or a retraction."

"A retraction of what?"

"Of the cough, by Jove, which he allowed himself to attribute to me." The notary shrugged his shoulders.

"On their side the duke's seconds said, 'We render justice to the honorable character of M. Charles Robert; but his grace of Lucenay cannot, ought not, will not retract.' 'Then, gentlemen,' responded my seconds, 'M. de Lucenay still continues to insist that M. Charles Robert has a cough?' 'Yes, gentlemen; but he does not intend it as an attack upon M. Robert's reputation.' 'Then let him retract.' 'No, gentlemen; M. de Lucenay recognizes M. Robert for a gallant man, but he insists that he has a cough.' You see there was no way of arranging so serious an affair."

"None. You were insulted in that which a man holds to be most respectable."

"So they agreed on the day and hour of meeting, and yesterday morning at Vincennes, all passed in the most honorable manner. I touched the duke slightly in the arm with my sword; the seconds declared my honor satisfied. Then the duke said, in a loud voice, 'I never retract before an affair; afterward, it is different: it is therefore my duty to proclaim that I falsely accused M. Charles Robert of having a cough. Gentlemen, I confess, not only that my loyal adversary has no cough, but I affirm that he is incapable of ever having it.' Then the duke extended his hand to me cordially, saying, 'Are you content? Henceforth we are friends in life until death.' I answered, that I owed him as much. The duke has done everything that was right. He might have said nothing at all, or contented himself with saying that I had not the cough; but to affirm that I never could have one was a very delicate proceeding on his part."

"This is what I call courage well employed. But what do you mean?"

"My dear banker" (another pleasantry of M. Robert), "it concerns something of great importance to me. You know that in our agreement, when I advanced you 350,000 francs, in order that you might finish the purchase of your notariat, it was stipulated that, by giving you three months' notice, I could withdraw from you this amount for which you now pay interest."

"What next?"

"Well!" said M. Robert, with hesitation, "I; no, but--"

"What?"

"You perceive it is pure caprice; an idea to become a landed proprietor, my dear law-writer."

"Explain yourself; you annoy me."

"In a word, I have been offered a territorial acquisition, and, if it is not disagreeable to you I should wish, that is to say, I should desire, to withdraw my funds from you; and I come to give you notice, according to our agreement."

"Humph!"

"It does not make you angry, I hope!"

"Why should it?"

"Because you might think--"

"I may think?"

"That I am the echo of rumors."

"What rumors?"

"No, nothing; absurdities."

"But, tell me then?"

"It is no reason because there _are_ reports in circulation about you----"

"About me?"

"There is not a word of truth in it--that you have been doing some bad business; pure scandal, no doubt, like when we speculated on the 'Change together. That report soon fell to the ground; for I wish that you and I might become----"

"Then you think your money is no longer safe with me?"

"Not so; but I prefer to have it in my hands."

"Wait a minute."

Ferrand shut the drawer of his bureau, and rose.

"Where are you going to, my dear banker?"

"To look for something to convince you of the truth of the rumors concerning me," said the notary, ironically. And opening a little private staircase which led to the pavilion, without going through the office, he disappeared.

Hardly had he gone when the clerk knocked at the door. "Come in," said Charles Robert.

"Is not M. Ferrand here?"

"No, my worthy blue-baggist."

"A veiled lady wishes to speak to master instantly, on very pressing business."

"Worthy fellow, your master will return directly; I will tell him. Is she pretty?"

"One must be a wizard to find this out; she wears a black veil, so thick that her face cannot be seen."

"Good, good! I'll take a look at her when I go out."

The clerk left the room.

"Where the devil is he gone to?" said Charles to himself. "If these reports are absurd, so much the better. Never mind, I prefer to have my money. I will buy the chateau they have spoken to me of, with Gothic towers of the time of Louis XIV.; that will give me a noble appearance. It will not be like my affair with this prude of a Madame d'Harville--fine game! Oh, no; I have not made my expenses, as the stupid old portress in the Rue du Temple said, with her fantastic periwig. This pleasantry has cost meat least a thousand crowns. It is true, the furniture remains; and I can compromise the marquise. But here is the scrivener."

Ferrand returned, holding in his hand some papers, which he gave to Robert.

"Here," said he to him, "are three hundred and fifty thousand francs in Treasury notes. In a few days we will regulate the interest. Write me a receipt."

"Eh!" cried Charles, stupefied. "Oh! now don't think, at least, that I--"

"I think nothing."


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