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- Vautrin - 10/27 -

Vautrin (aside) Merely that! (Aloud) I can tell your grace all about him. Raoul de Frescas is a young nobleman whose family is mixed up in an affair of high treason, and he does not like to assume his father's name.

The Duke He has a father, then?

Vautrin He has a father.

The Duke And where does he come from? What is his fortune?

Vautrin We are changing our roles, and your grace must excuse my not answering until you tell me what special interest your grace has in Monsieur de Frescas.

The Duke You are forgetting yourself, sir!

Vautrin (with assumed humility) Yes, I am forgetting the fact that there is an enormous difference between spies and those who set them.

The Duke Joseph!

Vautrin (aside) The duke has set his spies upon us; I must hurry.

(Vautrin disappears through the side door, by which he entered in the first act.)

The Duke (turning back) You shall not leave the house. Heavens! Where is he? (He rings and Joseph answers.) Let all the doors of the house be locked, a man has got into the house. Quick! Let all look for him, and let him be apprehended. (He goes to the room of the duchess.)

Joseph (looking through the postern) He is far away by this time.

Curtain to the Second Act.


SCENE FIRST. (A room in the house of Raoul de Frescas.)

Lafouraille (alone) Would my late excellent father, who advised me to frequent none but the best society, have been satisfied with me yesterday? I spent all night with ministers' valets, attendants of the embassy, princes', dukes', peers' coachmen--none but these, all reliable men, in good luck; they steal only from their masters. My master danced with a fine chit of a girl whose hair was powdered with a million's worth of diamonds, and he had no eyes for anything but the bouquet she carried in her hand; simple young man, we sympathize with you. Old Jacques Collin--Botheration! There I trip again, I cannot reconcile myself to this common name--I mean Monsieur Vautrin, will arrange all that. In a little time diamonds and dowry will take an airing, and they have need of it; to think of them as always in the same strong boxes! 'Tis against the laws of circulation. What a joker he is!--He sets you up as a young man of means. He is so kind, he talks so finely, the heiress comes in, the trick is done, and we all cry shares! The money will have been well earned. You see we have been here six months. Haven't we put on the look of idiots! Everybody in the neighborhood takes us for good simple folk. And who would refuse to do anything for Vautrin? He said to us: "Be virtuous," and virtuous we became. I fear him as I fear the police, and yet I love him even more than money.

Vautrin (calling from outside) Lafouraille!

Lafouraille There he is! I haven't seen his face this morning--that means a storm; I prefer it should fall upon some one else, and will get out. (He starts to the door but encounters Vautrin.)

SCENE SECOND. Vautrin and Lafouraille. (Vautrin is dressed in long white duck trousers and a waistcoat of the same material, slippers of red morocco,--the morning dress of a business man.)

Vautrin Lafouraille.

Lafouraille Sir?

Vautrin Where are you going?

Lafouraille To get your letters.

Vautrin I have them. Have you anything else to do?

Lafouraille Yes, your chamber--

Vautrin In so many words you want to avoid me. I have always found that restless legs never go with a quiet conscience. Stay where you are. I want to talk with you.

Lafouraille I am at your service.

Vautrin I hope you are. Come here. You told us, under the fair sky of Provence, a certain story which was little to your credit. A steward beat you at play; do you recollect?

Lafouraille A steward? Yes, that fellow Charles Blondet, the only man who ever robbed me! Can a fellow forget that?

Vautrin Had you not on one occasion sold your master to him? That's common enough.

Lafouraille On one occasion? I sold him three times over.

Vautrin That was better. And what business was the steward then engaged in?

Lafouraille I was going to tell you. I was footman at eighteen with the De Langeacs--

Vautrin I thought it was in the Duc de Montsorel's house.

Lafouraille No; the duke, fortunately, has only twice set eyes on me, and has, I hope, forgotten me.

Vautrin Did you rob him?

Lafouraille Well, to some small extent.

Vautrin Why do you want him to forget you?

Lafouraille Because, after seeing him again, yesterday, at the embassy, I should then feel safe.

Vautrin And it is the same man?

Lafouraille We are both older by twenty-five years, and that is the only difference.

Vautrin Tell me all about him. I knew I had heard you mention his name. Go on.

Lafouraille The Vicomte de Langeac, one of my masters, and this Duc de Montsorel were like peas in the same pod. When I was forced to choose between the nobles and the people, I did not hesitate; from a mere footman, I became a citizen, and citizen Philip Boulard was an earnest worker. I had enthusiasm, and acquired influence in the faubourg.

Vautrin And so you have been a politician, have you?

Lafouraille Not for long. I did a pretty thing, and that ruined me.

Vautrin Aha! My boy, pretty things are like pretty women--better light shy of them; they often bring trouble. What was this pretty thing?

Lafouraille I'll tell you. In the scrimmage of the Tenth of August, the duke confided to my care the Vicomte de Langeac; I disguised and hid him, I gave him food at the risk of my popularity and my life. The duke had greatly encouraged me by such trifles as a thousand gold pieces, and that Blondet had the infamy to offer me a bigger pile to give up our young master.

Vautrin Did you give him up?


Vautrin - 10/27

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