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- Vautrin - 2/27 -

hour the duke goes to the king's, and then we will question him about his childhood.

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey For goodness' sake, calm yourself; you will never be able to sleep this night. And send Felicite to bed, she is not accustomed to these late hours. (She rings the bell.)

Felicite (entering the room) His grace the duke has come in with his lordship the marquis.

The Duchess I have already told you, Felicite, never to inform me of his grace's movements. (Exit Felicite.)

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey I should hate to rob you of an illusion which causes you such happiness; but when I see the height of expectation to which you have soared, I fear a terrible fall for you. The soul, like the body, is bruised by a fall from an excessive height, and you must excuse my saying that I tremble for you.

The Duchess While you fear the effect of despair for me, I fear that of overwhelming joy.

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey (watching the duchess go out) If she should be deceived, she might lose her senses.

The Duchess (re-entering the room) Fernand, dear aunt, calls himself Raoul de Frescas. (Exit.)


Mademoiselle de Vaudrey (alone) She does not see that the recovery of her son would be a miracle. All mothers believe in miracles. We must keep watch over her. A look, a word might ruin her, for if she is right, if God restores her son to her, she is on the brink of a catastrophe more frightful even than the deception she had been practicing. Does she think she can dissemble under the eyes of women?

SCENE THIRD. Mademoiselle de Vaudrey and Felicite.

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey Already here?

Felicite Her grace the duchess dismissed me early.

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey Has my niece given you no orders for the morning?

Felicite None, madame.

Mademoiselle de Vaudrey A young man, named Monsieur Raoul de Frescas, is coming to call upon me towards noon; he may possibly ask for the duchess, but you must instruct Joseph to bring him to my apartment. (Exit.)


Felicite (alone) A young man for her? Not a bit of it. I always said that there was some motive in my lady's retired way of living; she is rich, she is handsome, yet the duke does not love her; and now the first time she goes out, a young man comes next day to see her, and her aunt wishes to receive him. They keep me in the dark; I am neither trusted nor tipped. If this is the way chambermaids are to be treated under the new government, I don't know what will become of us. (A side door opens, two men are seen, and the door is immediately closed again.) At any rate we shall have a look at the young man. (Exit.)

SCENE FIFTH. Joseph and Vautrin. (Vautrin wears a tan-colored overcoat, trimmed with fur, over the black evening dress of a foreign diplomatic minister.)

Joseph That blasted girl! We would have been down in our luck if she had seen us.

Vautrin You mean /you/ would have been down in your luck; you take pretty good care not to be caught again, don't you? I suppose then that you enjoy peace of mind in this house?

Joseph That I do, for honesty I find to be the best policy.

Vautrin And do you quite approve of honesty?

Joseph Oh, yes, so long as the place and the wages suit me.

Vautrin I see you are doing well, my boy. You take little and often, you save, you even have the honesty to lend a trifle at interest. That's all right, but you cannot imagine what pleasure it gives me to see one of my old acquaintances filling an honorable position. You have succeeded in doing so; your faults are but negative and therefore half virtues. I myself once had vices; I regret them as things of the past; I have nothing but dangers and struggles to interest me. Mine is the life of an Indian hemmed in by my enemies, and I am fighting in defence of my own scalp.

Joseph And what of mine?

Vautrin Yours? Ah! you are right to ask that. Well, whatever happens to me, you have the word of Jacques Collin that he will never compromise you. But you must obey me in everything!

Joseph In everything? But--

Vautrin There are no buts with me. If there is any dark business to be done I have my "trusties" and old allies. Have you been long in this place?

Joseph The duchess took me for her footman when she went with the court to Ghent, last year and I am trusted by both the ladies of the house.

Vautrin That's the ticket! I need a few points with regard to these Montsorels. What do you know about them?

Joseph Nothing.

Vautrin (aside) He is getting a little too honest. Does he think he knows nothing about them? Well, you cannot talk for five minutes with a man without drawing something out of him. (Aloud) Whose room is this?

Joseph The salon of her grace the duchess, and these are her apartments; those of the duke are on the floor above. The suite of the marquis, their only son, is below, and looks on the court.

Vautrin I asked you for impressions of all the keys of the duke's study. Where are they?

Joseph (hesitatingly) Here they are.

Vautrin Every time I purpose coming here you will find a cross in chalk on the garden gate; every night you must examine the place. Virtue reigns here, and the hinges of that gate are very rusty; but a Louis XVIII can never be a Louis XV! Good-bye--I'll come back to-morrow night. (Aside) I must rejoin my people at the Christoval house.

Joseph (aside) Since this devil of a fellow has found me out, I have been on tenter- hooks--

Vautrin (coming back from the door) The duke then does not live with his wife?

Joseph They quarreled twenty years ago.

Vautrin What about?

Joseph Not even their own son can say.

Vautrin And why was your predecessor dismissed?

Joseph I cannot say. I was not acquainted with him. They did not set up an establishment here until after the king's second return.

Vautrin (aside) Such are the advantages of the new social order; masters and servants are bound together by no ties; they feel no mutual attachment, exchange no secrets, and so give no ground for betrayal. (To Joseph) Any spicy stories at meal-times?

Joseph Never before the servants.

Vautrin What is thought of them in the servants' hall?

Joseph The duchess is considered a saint.

Vautrin - 2/27

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