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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 40/113 -
"I decide, then, for this necklace," said D'Harville. "You will have to settle with M. Doublet, my steward, Baudoin."
"M. Doublet has advised me, my lord," said the jeweler, and he went out, after having put in his sack, without counting them, the different sets of jewels which he had brought, and which Saint Remy had for a long time handled and examined during this conversation.
D'Harville, in giving this necklace to Joseph, who awaited his orders, whispered to him, "Mlle. Juliette must put these diamonds quietly with her lady's, without her suspecting it, so that the surprise will be complete."
At this moment the butler announced that breakfast was served; the guests passed into the breakfast-room and seated themselves at the table.
"Do you know, my dear D'Harville," said the duke, "that this house is one of the most elegant and best arranged in Paris?"
"It is commodious enough, but it wants space; my project is to add a gallery on the garden. Madame d'Harville desires to give some grand balls, and our three saloons are not large enough; besides, I find nothing more inconvenient than the encroachments made by a fete on the apartments which one habitually occupies, and from which, for the time, you are exiled."
"I am of your opinion," said Saint Remy; "nothing is in worse taste, more in the 'city' fashion, than these forced removals by authority of a ball or concert. To give fetes really splendid, without any inconvenience to one's self, a particular suite of apartments must be arranged exclusively for them; and, besides, vast and splendid saloons, destined for grand balls, ought to have a different character from rooms in ordinary occupation: there is between the two species of apartments the same difference as between a splendid fresco and a cabinet picture."
"He is right," said D'Harville; "what a pity that Saint Remy has not twelve or fifteen hundred thousand livres a year! what wonders we should enjoy!"
"Since we have the happiness to enjoy a representative government," said the Duke de Lucenay, "ought not the country to vote a million a year to Saint Remy, and charge him to represent at Paris French taste and fashion, which would thus decide the fashion of Europe and the world?"
"Adopted!" was cried in chorus.
"And this million should be annually raised in form of a tax on those abominable misers who, possessors of enormous fortunes, shall be arraigned, tried, and convicted of living like skinflints," added Lucenay.
"And as such," said D'Harville, "condemned to defray the magnificences which they ought to display."
"While waiting for the decision which will legalize the supremacy which Saint Remy now exercises in fact," said D'Harville, "I ask his advice for the gallery I am about to construct."
"My feeble lights are at your disposal, D'Harville."
"And when shall this inauguration take place, my dear fellow?"
"Next year, I suppose, for I am going to commence immediately."
"What a man of projects you are!"
"I have many others. I contemplate a complete change at Val Richer."
"Your estate in Burgundy?"
"Yes; there are some admirable plans to execute there, if my life is spared."
"Poor old man! But have you not lately bought a farm near Val Richer to add to your estate?"
"Yes, a very good affair that my notary advised."
"Who is this rare and precious notary who advises such good things?"
"M. Jacques Ferrand."
At this name a slight shade passed over the viscount's brow.
"Is he really as honest a man as he is reputed to be?" asked he, carelessly, of D'Harville, who then remembered what Rudolph had related to Clemence concerning the notary.
"Jacques Ferrand? what a question; why, he is a man of antique probity!" said Lucenay. "As respected as respectable. Very pious--that hurts no one. Excessively avaricious--which is a guarantee for his clients."
"He is, in fine, one of our notaries of the old school, who ask you for whom you take them when you speak of a receipt for money confided to them."
"For no other cause than that I would confide my whole fortune to him."
"But where the devil, Saint Remy, did you get your doubts concerning this worthy man, of proverbial integrity?"
"I am only the echo of vague rumors, otherwise I have no reason to defame this phenix of notaries. But to return to your projects, D'Harville; what are you going to build at Val Richer? The chateau is said to be superb."
"You shall be consulted, my dear Saint Remy, and sooner, perhaps, than you think, for I delight in these works; it seems to me there is nothing more pleasant than to have your plans spread out for years to come. To day this project--in a year this one--still later some other: add to this a charming wife whom one adores, is the motive of all your plans, and life passes gently enough."
"I believe you; it is a real paradise on earth."
"Now," said D'Harville, when breakfast was over, "if you will smoke a cigar in my cabinet, you will find some excellent ones there."
They arose from the table and returned to the cabinet of the marquis: the door of his sleeping apartment, which communicated with it, was open. The sole ornament of this room was a panoply of arms. Lucenay, having lighted a cigar, followed the marquis into his chamber.
"Here are some splendid guns, truly; faith, I do not know which to prefer, the French or the English."
"Douglas," cried Lucenay, "come and see if these guns will not compare with the best Mantons."
Lord Douglas, Saint Remy, and the two other guests entered the chamber of the marquis to examine the arms.
D'Harville took a pistol, cocked it, and said, laughing, "Here, gentlemen, is the universal panacea for all woes, the spleen, or ennui." He placed the muzzle laughingly to his mouth.
"I prefer another specific," said Saint Remy; "this is only good in desperate cases."
"Yes, but it is so prompt," said D'Harville. "Click! and it is done; the will is not more rapid. Really! it is marvelous."
"Take care, D'Harville, such jokes are always dangerous, and accidents might happen," said Lucenay, seeing the marquis again place the pistol to his lips.
"Do you think that if it was loaded I would play these tricks?"
"Doubtless, no, but it is always wrong."
"Look here, sirs, this is the way they do it; the barrel is introduced delicately between the teeth, and then--"
"How foolish you are, D'Harville, when you once get a-going," said Lucenay, shrugging his shoulders.
"The finger is placed on the trigger," added D'Harville.
"Is he not a child--childish at his age?"
"A little movement on the lock," continued the marquis, "and one goes straight to the land of spirits."
With these words the pistol went off.
D'Harville had blown his brains out!
We will renounce the task; we cannot describe the affright, the amazement, of the guests. The next day was seen in a newspaper:
"Yesterday an event, as unforeseen as deplorable, agitated the whole Faubourg St. Germain. One of those imprudent acts, which lead every year to such fatal accidents, has caused a most lamentable affair. Here are the facts which we have gathered, the authenticity of which we can guarantee.
"The Marquis D'Harville, possessor of an immense fortune, hardly twenty-six years of age, noted for the elevation of his character and the goodness of his heart, married to a lady whom he adored, had invited a few friends to breakfast. On leaving the table, they passed into the sleeping apartment of M. d'Harville, where were displayed several valuable arms. In showing some of his guests, M. d'Harville, in jest, placed a pistol, which he did not know was loaded, to his lips. In his security, he drew the trigger; it went off, and the unhappy young nobleman fell dead, with his skull fractured. The frightful consternation of the surrounding friends may easily be imagined, to whom, but a moment before, in the bloom of youth, he had just been conversing of his projects for the future. And as if all the circumstances attending this painful event should be more cruel from contrast, the same morning M. d'Harville, wishing to surprise his wife, had just purchased a valuable necklace. And it is just at this moment, when, perhaps, life never appeared more smiling, more desirable, that he falls a victim to a deplorable accident.
"Before such a misfortune all reflections are useless; we can only
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