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- The Mysteries of Paris V2 - 80/113 -
for at his coming of age, and had become my property and yours."
"Then my lord is ruined?"
"In five years."
"And how much did he inherit?"
"Only a poor little million, cash down," said M. Boyer, quite disdainfully, taking another pinch of snuff. "Add to this million about two hundred thousand francs of debts, it is passable. It is then, to tell you, my dear Edward, that I have had an idea of letting this house, admirably furnished as it is, to some English people. Some of your compatriots would have paid well for it."
"Without doubt. Why do you not do it?"
"Yes, but I fancy things are risky, so I have decided to sell. My lord is so well known as a connoisseur, that everything would bring a double price, so that I should realize a round sum. Do as I shall, Edward; realize, realize, and do not adventure your earnings in speculations. You chief coachman of the Viscount de Saint Remy! It will be, who can get you. Only yesterday some one spoke to me of a minor just of age, a cousin of the Duchess de Lucenay, young Duke de Montbrison, arrived from Italy with his tutor, and about seeing life. Two hundred and fifty thousand livres income, in good land; and just entering into life--twenty years old. All the illusions of confidence--all the infatuation of expense--prodigal as a prince. I know the intendant. I can tell you this in confidence: he has already nearly agreed with me as first valet de chambre. He countenances me, the flat!" And M. Boyer shrugged his shoulders again, having recourse to his snuff-box.
"You hope to foist him out?"
"Rather! he is imbecile or impertinent. He puts me there as if he had no fear of me! Before two months are over I shall be in his place."
"Two hundred and fifty thousand livres income!" said Edward, reflecting, "and a young man. It is a good seat."
"I will tell you what there is to do. I will speak for you to my protector," said M. Boyer, ironically. "Enter there--it is a fortune which has roots, to which one can hang on for a long time. Not this miserable million of the viscount's--a real snowball--one ray of Parisian sun, and all is over. I saw here that I should only be a bird of passage: it is a pity, for this house does us honor; and up to the last moment, I will serve my lord with the respect and esteem which are his due."
"My dear Boyer, I thank you, and accept your proposition; but suppose I was to propose to the young duke this stable? It is all ready; it is known and admired by all Paris."
"Exactly so; you might make a mint."
"But why do you not propose this house to him, so admirably furnished? What can he find better?"
"Edward, you are a man of mind; it does not surprise me, but you give me an excellent idea. We must address ourselves to my lord, he is so good a master that he would not refuse to speak for us to the young duke. He can tell him that, leaving for the Legation of Gerolstein, where he is an _attache_, he wishes to dispose of his whole establishment. Let us see: one hundred and sixty thousand francs for the house, all furnished, plate and pictures; fifty thousand francs for the stables and carriages; that makes two hundred and thirty thousand to two hundred and forty thousand francs. It is an excellent affair for a young man who wants everything. He would spend three times this amount before he could get anything half so elegant and select together as this establishment; for it must be acknowledged, Edward, there is no one can equal my lord in knowing how to live."
"And good cheer! Godefroi, his cook, leaves here a hundred times better than when he came. My lord has given him excellent counsels-- has enormously refined him."
"Besides, they say my lord is such a good player."
"Admirable! Gaining large sums with even more indifference than he loses; and yet I have never seen any one lose more gallantly."
"What is he going to do now?"
"Set out for Germany, in a good traveling carriage, with seven or eight thousand francs, which he knows how to get. Oh! I feel no embarrassment about my lord: he is one who always falls on his feet, as they say."
"And he has no more money to inherit?"
"None; for his father has only a small competency."
"My lord's father is not dead?"
"He was not about five or six months since. We wrote to him for some family papers."
"But he never comes here?"
"For a good reason. These fifteen years he has lived in the country, at Angers."
"But my lord never goes to see him?"
"Never, never--not he!"
"Have they quarreled?"
"What I am going to tell you is no secret, for I had it from the confidential agent of the Prince de Noirmont."
"The father of Madame de Lucenay?" said Edward, with a cunning and significant look, of which Boyer, faithful to his habits of reserve and discretion, took no notice, but resumed, coldly:
"The Duchess de Lucenay is the daughter of the Prince de Noirmont; the father of my lord was intimately connected with the prince. The duchess was then very young, and Saint Remy the elder treated her as familiarly as if she had been his own child. Notwithstanding his sixty years, he is a man of iron character, courageous as a lion, and of a probity that I shall permit myself to designate as marvelous. He possessed almost nothing, and had married, from love, the mother of the viscount, a young person rather rich, who brought a million, at the christening of which we have just had the honor to assist," and Boyer made a low bow. Edward did the same.
"The marriage was very happy until the moment when my lord's father found, as was said, by chance, some devilish letters, which proved evidently that, during an absence, some three or four years after his marriage, his wife had had a tender weakness for a certain Polish count."
"That often happens to the Poles. When I lived with the Marquis de Senneval, Madame the Marchioness--_une enragee_--"
Boyer interrupted his companion. "You should know, my dear Edward, the alliances of our great families before you speak, otherwise you reserve for yourself cruel mistakes."
"The Marchioness of Senneval is the sister of the Duke of Montbrison, where you desire to engage."
"Judge of the effect if you had spoken of her in this manner before the envious or detractors: you would not have remained twenty-four hours in the house."
"It is true, Boyer. I will try to know the alliances."
"I resume. The father of my lord discovered, then, after twelve or fifteen years of a marriage until then happy, that he had reason to complain of a Polish count. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the viscount was born nine months after his father, or rather, Saint Remy had returned from this fatal journey, so that he could not be certain whether it was his child or not. Nevertheless, the count separated at once from his wife, not wishing to touch a sou of the fortune she had brought him, and retired to the country, with about eighty thousand francs which he possessed; but you shall see the rancor of this diabolical character. Although the outrage was dated back fifteen years when he discovered it, yet he set off, accompanied by M. de Fermont, one of his relations, in pursuit of the Pole, and found him at Venice, after having sought for him in almost all the cities of Europe."
"What an obstinate!"
"A devilish rancor, I tell you, my dear Edward! At Venice, a terrible duel was fought, in which the Pole was killed. All was done fairly; but, my lord's father showed, they say, such ferocious joy at seeing the Pole mortally wounded, that his relation, M. de Fermont, was obliged to drag him away; the count wishing to see, as he said, his enemy expire under his eyes."
"What a man! what a man!"
"The count returned to Paris, went to the house of his wife, announced to her that he had just returned from killing the Pole, and left her. Since then, he has never seen her nor his son, but has lived at Angers, like a real 'wehr-wolf' as they say, with what remains of his eighty thousand francs, well curtailed, as you may suppose, by his race after this Pole. At Angers he sees no one, except the wife and daughter of his relation, M. de Fermont, who has been dead for some years. And, besides, it would seem as if this was an unfortunate family, for the brother of Madame de Fermont blew his brains out a few weeks since, it is said."
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