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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesScenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 4
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Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 4 Post by :narnia Category :Long Stories Author :Honore De Balzac Date :May 2012 Read :1416

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Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 4

In almost every class of society the good fellow is an open-handed man, who will lend a few crowns now and again without expecting them back, who always behaves in accordance with a certain code of delicate feeling above mere vulgar, obligatory, and commonplace morality. Certain men, regarded as virtuous and honest, have, like Nucingen, ruined their benefactors; and certain others, who have been through a criminal court, have an ingenious kind of honesty towards women. Perfect virtue, the dream of Moliere, an Alceste, is exceedingly rare; still, it is to be found everywhere, even in Paris. The "good fellow" is the product of a certain facility of nature which proves nothing. A man is a good fellow, as a cat is silky, as a slipper is made to slip on to the foot. And so, in the meaning given to the word by a kept woman, Falleix ought to have warned his mistress of his approaching bankruptcy and have given her enough to live upon.

D'Estourny, the dashing swindler, was a good fellow; he cheated at cards, but he had set aside thirty thousand francs for his mistress. And at carnival suppers women would retort on his accusers: "No matter. You may say what you like, Georges was a good fellow; he had charming manners, he deserved a better fate."

These girls laugh laws to scorn, and adore a certain kind of generosity; they sell themselves, as Esther had done, for a secret ideal, which is their religion.

After saving a few jewels from the wreck with great difficulty, Madame du Val-Noble was crushed under the burden of the horrible report: "She ruined Falleix." She was almost thirty; and though she was in the prime of her beauty, still she might be called an old woman, and all the more so because in such a crisis all a woman's rivals are against her. Mariette, Florine, Tullia would ask their friend to dinner, and gave her some help; but as they did not know the extent of her debts, they did not dare to sound the depths of that gulf. An interval of six years formed rather too long a gap in the ebb and flow of the Paris tide, between La Torpille and Madame du Val-Noble, for the woman "on foot" to speak to the woman in her carriage; but La Val-Noble knew that Esther was too generous not to remember sometimes that she had, as she said, fallen heir to her possessions, and not to seek her out by some meeting which might seem accidental though arranged. To bring about such an accident, Madame du Val-Noble, dressed in the most lady-like way, walked out every day in the Champs-Elysees on the arm of Theodore Gaillard, who afterwards married her, and who, in these straits, behaved very well to his former mistress, giving her boxes at the play, and inviting her to every spree. She flattered herself that Esther, driving out one fine day, would meet her face to face.

Esther's coachman was Paccard--for her household had been made up in five days by Asie, Europe, and Paccard under Carlos' instructions, and in such a way that the house in the Rue Saint-Georges was an impregnable fortress.

Peyrade, on his part, prompted by deep hatred, by the thirst for vengeance, and, above all, by his wish to see his darling Lydie married, made the Champs-Elysees the end of his walks as soon as he heard from Contenson that Monsieur de Nucingen's mistress might be seen there. Peyrade could dress so exactly like an Englishman, and spoke French so perfectly with the mincing accent that the English give the language; he knew England itself so well, and was so familiar with all the customs of the country, having been sent to England by the police authorities three times between 1779 and 1786, that he could play his part in London and at ambassadors' residences without awaking suspicion. Peyrade, who had some resemblance to Musson the famous juggler, could disguise himself so effectually that once Contenson did not recognize him.

Followed by Contenson dressed as a mulatto, Peyrade examined Esther and her servants with an eye which, seeming heedless, took everything in. Hence it quite naturally happened that in the side alley where the carriage-company walk in fine dry weather, he was on the spot one day when Esther met Madame du Val-Noble. Peyrade, his mulatto in livery at his heels, was airing himself quite naturally, like a nabob who is thinking of no one but himself, in a line with the two women, so as to catch a few words of their conversation.

"Well, my dear child," said Esther to Madame du Val-Noble, "come and see me. Nucingen owes it to himself not to leave his stockbroker's mistress without a sou----"

"All the more so because it is said that he ruined Falleix," remarked Theodore Gaillard, "and that we have every right to squeeze him."

"He dines with me to-morrow," said Esther; "come and meet him." Then she added in an undertone:

"I can do what I like with him, and as yet he has not that!" and she put the nail of a gloved finger under the prettiest of her teeth with the click that is familiarly known to express with peculiar energy: "Just nothing."

"You have him safe----"

"My dear, as yet he has only paid my debts."

"How mean!" cried Suzanne du Val-Noble.

"Oh!" said Esther, "I had debts enough to frighten a minister of finance. Now, I mean to have thirty thousand a year before the first stroke of midnight. Oh! he is excellent, I have nothing to complain of. He does it well.--In a week we give a house-warming; you must come.--That morning he is to make me a present of the lease of the house in the Rue Saint-Georges. In decency, it is impossible to live in such a house on less than thirty thousand francs a year--of my own, so as to have them safe in case of accident. I have known poverty, and I want no more of it. There are certain acquaintances one has had enough of at once."

"And you, who used to say, 'My face is my fortune!'--How you have changed!" exclaimed Suzanne.

"It is the air of Switzerland; you grow thrifty there.--Look here; go there yourself, my dear! Catch a Swiss, and you may perhaps catch a husband, for they have not yet learned what such women as we are can be. And, at any rate, you may come back with a passion for investments in the funds--a most respectable and elegant passion!--Good-bye."

Esther got into her carriage again, a handsome carriage drawn by the finest pair of dappled gray horses at that time to be seen in Paris.

"The woman who is getting into the carriage is handsome," said Peyrade to Contenson, "but I like the one who is walking best; follow her, and find out who she is."

"That is what that Englishman has just remarked in English," said Theodore Gaillard, repeating Peyrade's remark to Madame du Val-Noble.

Before making this speech in English, Peyrade had uttered a word or two in that language, which had made Theodore look up in a way that convinced him that the journalist understood English.

Madame du Val-Noble very slowly made her way home to very decent furnished rooms in the Rue Louis-le-Grand, glancing round now and then to see if the mulatto were following her.

This establishment was kept by a certain Madame Gerard, whom Suzanne had obliged in the days of her splendor, and who showed her gratitude by giving her a suitable home. This good soul, an honest and virtuous citizen, even pious, looked on the courtesan as a woman of a superior order; she had always seen her in the midst of luxury, and thought of her as a fallen queen; she trusted her daughters with her; and--which is a fact more natural than might be supposed--the courtesan was as scrupulously careful in taking them to the play as their mother could have been, and the two Gerard girls loved her. The worthy, kind lodging-house keeper was like those sublime priests who see in these outlawed women only a creature to be saved and loved.

Madame du Val-Noble respected this worth; and often, as she chatted with the good woman, she envied her while bewailing her own ill-fortune.

"Your are still handsome; you may make a good end yet," Madame Gerard would say.

But, indeed, Madame du Val-Noble was only relatively impoverished. This woman's wardrobe, so extravagant and elegant, was still sufficiently well furnished to allow of her appearing on occasion--as on that evening at the Porte-Saint-Martin to see _Richard Darlington --in much splendor. And Madame Gerard would most good-naturedly pay for the cabs needed by the lady "on foot" to go out to dine, or to the play, and to come home again.

"Well, dear Madame Gerard," said she to this worthy mother, "my luck is about to change, I believe."

"Well, well, madame, so much the better. But be prudent; do not run into debt any more. I have such difficulty in getting rid of the people who are hunting for you."

"Oh, never worry yourself about those hounds! They have all made no end of money out of me.--Here are some tickets for the Varietes for your girls--a good box on the second tier. If any one should ask for me this evening before I come in, show them up all the same. Adele, my old maid, will be here; I will send her round."

Madame du Val-Noble, having neither mother nor aunt, was obliged to have recourse to her maid--equally on foot--to play the part of a Saint-Esteve with the unknown follower whose conquest was to enable her to rise again in the world. She went to dine with Theodore Gaillard, who, as it happened, had a spree on that day, that is to say, a dinner given by Nathan in payment of a bet he had lost, one of those orgies when a man says to his guests, "You can bring a woman."

It was not without strong reasons that Peyrade had made up his mind to rush in person on to the field of this intrigue. At the same time, his curiosity, like Corentin's, was so keenly excited, that, even in the absence of reasons, he would have tried to play a part in the drama.

At this moment Charles X.'s policy had completed its last evolution. After confiding the helm of State to Ministers of his own choosing, the King was preparing to conquer Algiers, and to utilize the glory that should accrue as a passport to what has been called his _Coup d'Etat_. There were no more conspiracies at home; Charles X. believed he had no domestic enemies. But in politics, as at sea, a calm may be deceptive.

Thus Corentin had lapsed into total idleness. In such a case a true sportsman, to keep his hand in, for lack of larks kills sparrows. Domitian, we know, for lack of Christians, killed flies. Contenson, having witnessed Esther's arrest, had, with the keen instinct of a spy, fully understood the upshot of the business. The rascal, as we have seen, did not attempt to conceal his opinion of the Baron de Nucingen.

"Who is benefiting by making the banker pay so dear for his passion?" was the first question the allies asked each other. Recognizing Asie as a leader in the piece, Contenson hoped to find out the author through her; but she slipped through his fingers again and again, hiding like an eel in the mud of Paris; and when he found her again as the cook in Esther's establishment, it seemed to him inexplicable that the half-caste woman should have had a finger in the pie. Thus, for the first time, these two artistic spies had come on a text that they could not decipher, while suspecting a dark plot to the story.

After three bold attempts on the house in the Rue Taitbout, Contenson still met with absolute dumbness. So long as Esther dwelt there the lodge porter seemed to live in mortal terror. Asie had, perhaps, promised poisoned meat-balls to all the family in the event of any indiscretion.

On the day after Esther's removal, Contenson found this man rather more amenable; he regretted the lady, he said, who had fed him with the broken dishes from her table. Contenson, disguised as a broker, tried to bargain for the rooms, and listened to the porter's lamentations while he fooled him, casting a doubt on all the man said by a questioning "Really?"

"Yes, monsieur, the lady lived here for five years without ever going out, and more by token, her lover, desperately jealous though she was beyond reproach, took the greatest precautions when he came in or went out. And a very handsome young man he was too!"

Lucien was at this time still staying with his sister, Madame Sechard; but as soon as he returned, Contenson sent the porter to the Quai Malaquais to ask Monsieur de Rubempre whether he were willing to part with the furniture left in the rooms lately occupied by Madame van Bogseck. The porter then recognized Lucien as the young widow's mysterious lover, and this was all that Contenson wanted. The deep but suppressed astonishment may be imagined with which Lucien and Carlos received the porter, whom they affected to regard as a madman; they tried to upset his convictions.

Within twenty-four hours Carlos had organized a force which detected Contenson red-handed in the act of espionage. Contenson, disguised as a market-porter, had twice already brought home the provisions purchased in the morning by Asie, and had twice got into the little mansion in the Rue Saint-Georges. Corentin, on his part, was making a stir; but he was stopped short by recognizing the certain identity of Carlos Herrera; for he learned at once that this Abbe, the secret envoy of Ferdinand VII., had come to Paris towards the end of 1823. Still, Corentin thought it worth while to study the reasons which had led the Spaniard to take an interest in Lucien de Rubempre. It was soon clear to him, beyond doubt, that Esther had for five years been Lucien's mistress; so the substitution of the Englishwoman had been effected for the advantage of that young dandy.

Now Lucien had no means; he was rejected as a suitor for Mademoiselle de Grandlieu; and he had just bought up the lands of Rubempre at the cost of a million francs.

Corentin very skilfully made the head of the General Police take the first steps; and the Prefet de Police a propos to Peyrade, informed his chief that the appellants in that affair had been in fact the Comte de Serizy and Lucien de Rubempre.

"We have it!" cried Peyrade and Corentin.

The two friends had laid plans in a moment.

"This hussy," said Corentin, "has had intimacies; she must have some women friends. Among them we shall certainly find one or another who is down on her luck; one of us must play the part of a rich foreigner and take her up. We will throw them together. They always want something of each other in the game of lovers, and we shall then be in the citadel."

Peyrade naturally proposed to assume his disguise as an Englishman. The wild life he should lead during the time that he would take to disentangle the plot of which he had been the victim, smiled on his fancy; while Corentin, grown old in his functions, and weakly too, did not care for it. Disguised as a mulatto, Contenson at once evaded Carlos' force. Just three days before Peyrade's meeting with Madame du Val-Noble in the Champs-Elysees, this last of the agents employed by MM. de Sartine and Lenoir had arrived, provided with a passport, at the Hotel Mirabeau, Rue de la Paix, having come from the Colonies via le Havre, in a traveling chaise, as mud-splashed as though it had really come from le Havre, instead of no further than by the road from Saint-Denis to Paris.

Carlos Herrera, on his part, had his passport _vise at the Spanish Embassy, and arranged everything at the Quai Malaquais to start for Madrid. And this is why. Within a few days Esther was to become the owner of the house in the Rue Saint-Georges and of shares yielding thirty thousand francs a year; Europe and Asie were quite cunning enough to persuade her to sell these shares and privately transmit the money to Lucien. Thus Lucien, proclaiming himself rich through his sister's liberality, would pay the remainder of the price of the Rubempre estates. Of this transaction no one could complain. Esther alone could betray herself; but she would die rather than blink an eyelash.

Clotilde had appeared with a little pink kerchief round her crane's neck, so she had won her game at the Hotel de Grandlieu. The shares in the Omnibus Company were already worth thrice their initial value. Carlos, by disappearing for a few days, would put malice off the scent. Human prudence had foreseen everything; no error was possible. The false Spaniard was to start on the morrow of the day when Peyrade met Madame du Val-Noble. But that very night, at two in the morning, Asie came in a cab to the Quai Malaquais, and found the stoker of the machine smoking in his room, and reconsidering all the points of the situation here stated in a few words, like an author going over a page in his book to discover any faults to be corrected. Such a man would not allow himself a second time such an oversight as that of the porter in the Rue Taitbout.

"Paccard," whispered Asie in her master's ear, "recognized Contenson yesterday, at half-past two, in the Champs-Elysees, disguised as a mulatto servant to an Englishman, who for the last three days has been seen walking in the Champs-Elysees, watching Esther. Paccard knew the hound by his eyes, as I did when he dressed up as a market-porter. Paccard drove the girl home, taking a round so as not to lose sight of the wretch. Contenson is at the Hotel Mirabeau; but he exchanged so many signs of intelligence with the Englishman, that Paccard says the other cannot possibly be an Englishman."

"We have a gadfly behind us," said Carlos. "I will not leave till the day after to-morrow. That Contenson is certainly the man who sent the porter after us from the Rue Taitbout; we must ascertain whether this sham Englishman is our foe."

At noon Mr. Samuel Johnson's black servant was solemnly waiting on his master, who always breakfasted too heartily, with a purpose. Peyrade wished to pass for a tippling Englishman; he never went out till he was half-seas over. He wore black cloth gaiters up to his knees, and padded to make his legs look stouter; his trousers were lined with the thickest fustian; his waistcoat was buttoned up to his cheeks; a red scratch wig hid half his forehead, and he had added nearly three inches to his height; in short, the oldest frequenter of the Cafe David could not have recognized him. From his squarecut coat of black cloth with full skirts he might have been taken for an English millionaire.

Contenson made a show of the cold insolence of a nabob's confidential servant; he was taciturn, abrupt, scornful, and uncommunicative, and indulged in fierce exclamations and uncouth gestures.

Peyrade was finishing his second bottle when one of the hotel waiters unceremoniously showed in a man in whom Peyrade and Contenson both at once discerned a gendarme in mufti.

"Monsieur Peyrade," said the gendarme to the nabob, speaking in his ear, "my instructions are to take you to the Prefecture."

Peyrade, without saying a word, rose and took down his hat.

"You will find a hackney coach at the door," said the man as they went downstairs. "The Prefet thought of arresting you, but he decided on sending for you to ask some explanation of your conduct through the peace-officer whom you will find in the coach."

"Shall I ride with you?" asked the gendarme of the peace-officer when Peyrade had got in.

"No," replied the other; "tell the coachman quietly to drive to the Prefecture."

Peyrade and Carlos were now face to face in the coach. Carlos had a stiletto under his hand. The coach-driver was a man he could trust, quite capable of allowing Carlos to get out without seeing him, or being surprised, on arriving at his journey's end, to find a dead body in his cab. No inquiries are ever made about a spy. The law almost always leaves such murders unpunished, it is so difficult to know the rights of the case.

Peyrade looked with his keenest eye at the magistrate sent to examine him by the Prefet of Police. Carlos struck him as satisfactory: a bald head, deeply wrinkled at the back, and powdered hair; a pair of very light gold spectacles, with double-green glasses over weak eyes, with red rims, evidently needing care. These eyes seemed the trace of some squalid malady. A cotton shirt with a flat-pleated frill, a shabby black satin waistcoat, the trousers of a man of law, black spun silk stockings, and shoes tied with ribbon; a long black overcoat, cheap gloves, black, and worn for ten days, and a gold watch-chain--in every point the lower grade of magistrate known by a perversion of terms as a peace-officer.

"My dear Monsieur Peyrade, I regret to find such a man as you the object of surveillance, and that you should act so as to justify it. Your disguise is not to the Prefet's taste. If you fancy that you can thus escape our vigilance, you are mistaken. You traveled from England by way of Beaumont-sur-Oise, no doubt."

"Beaumont-sur-Oise?" repeated Peyrade.

"Or by Saint-Denis?" said the sham lawyer.

Peyrade lost his presence of mind. The question must be answered. Now any reply might be dangerous. In the affirmative it was farcical; in the negative, if this man knew the truth, it would be Peyrade's ruin.

"He is a sharp fellow," thought he.

He tried to look at the man and smile, and he gave him a smile for an answer; the smile passed muster without protest.

"For what purpose have you disguised yourself, taken rooms at the Mirabeau, and dressed Contenson as a black servant?" asked the peace-officer.

"Monsieur le Prefet may do what he chooses with me, but I owe no account of my actions to any one but my chief," said Peyrade with dignity.

"If you mean me to infer that you are acting by the orders of the General Police," said the other coldly, "we will change our route, and drive to the Rue de Grenelle instead of the Rue de Jerusalem. I have clear instructions with regard to you. But be careful! You are not in any deep disgrace, and you may spoil your own game in a moment. As for me--I owe you no grudge.--Come; tell me the truth."

"Well, then, this is the truth," said Peyrade, with a glance at his Cerberus' red eyes.

The sham lawyer's face remained expressionless, impassible; he was doing his business, all truths were the same to him, he looked as though he suspected the Prefet of some caprice. Prefets have their little tantrums.

"I have fallen desperately in love with a woman--the mistress of that stockbroker who is gone abroad for his own pleasure and the displeasure of his creditors--Falleix."

"Madame du Val-Noble?"

"Yes," replied Peyrade. "To keep her for a month, which will not cost me more than a thousand crowns, I have got myself up as a nabob and taken Contenson as my servant. This is so absolutely true, monsieur, that if you like to leave me in the coach, where I will wait for you, on my honor as an old Commissioner-General of Police, you can go to the hotel and question Contenson. Not only will Contenson confirm what I have the honor of stating, but you may see Madame du Val-Noble's waiting-maid, who is to come this morning to signify her mistress' acceptance of my offers, or the conditions she makes.

"An old monkey knows what grimaces mean: I have offered her a thousand francs a month and a carriage--that comes to fifteen hundred; five hundred francs' worth of presents, and as much again in some outings, dinners and play-going; you see, I am not deceiving you by a centime when I say a thousand crowns.--A man of my age may well spend a thousand crowns on his last fancy."

"Bless me, Papa Peyrade! and you still care enough for women to----? But you are deceiving me. I am sixty myself, and I can do without 'em. --However, if the case is as you state it, I quite understand that you should have found it necessary to get yourself up as a foreigner to indulge your fancy."

"You can understand that Peyrade, or old Canquoelle of the Rue des Moineaux----"

"Ay, neither of them would have suited Madame du Val-Noble," Carlos put in, delighted to have picked up Canquoelle's address. "Before the Revolution," he went on, "I had for my mistress a woman who had previously been kept by the gentleman-in-waiting, as they then called the executioner. One evening at the play she pricked herself with a pin, and cried out--a customary ejaculation in those days--'Ah! Bourreau!' on which her neighbor asked her if this were a reminiscence?--Well, my dear Peyrade, she cast off her man for that speech.

"I suppose you have no wish to expose yourself to such a slap in the face.--Madame du Val-Noble is a woman for gentlemen. I saw her once at the opera, and thought her very handsome.

"Tell the driver to go back to the Rue de la Paix, my dear Peyrade. I will go upstairs with you to your rooms and see for myself. A verbal report will no doubt be enough for Monsieur le Prefet."

Carlos took a snuff-box from his side-pocket--a black snuff-box lined with silver-gilt--and offered it to Peyrade with an impulse of delightful good-fellowship. Peyrade said to himself:

"And these are their agents! Good Heavens! what would Monsieur Lenoir say if he could come back to life, or Monsieur de Sartines?"

"That is part of the truth, no doubt, but it is not all," said the sham lawyer, sniffing up his pinch of snuff. "You have had a finger in the Baron de Nucingen's love affairs, and you wish, no doubt, to entangle him in some slip-knot. You missed fire with the pistol, and you are aiming at him with a field-piece. Madame du Val-Noble is a friend of Madame de Champy's----"

"Devil take it. I must take care not to founder," said Peyrade to himself. "He is a better man than I thought him. He is playing me; he talks of letting me go, and he goes on making me blab."

"Well?" asked Carlos with a magisterial air.

"Monsieur, it is true that I have been so foolish as to seek a woman in Monsieur de Nucingen's behoof, because he was half mad with love. That is the cause of my being out of favor, for it would seem that quite unconsciously I touched some important interests."

The officer of the law remained immovable.

"But after fifty-two years' experience," Peyrade went on, "I know the police well enough to have held my hand after the blowing up I had from Monsieur le Prefet, who, no doubt, was right----"

"Then you would give up this fancy if Monsieur le Prefet required it of you? That, I think, would be the best proof you could give of the sincerity of what you say."

"He is going it! he is going it!" thought Peyrade. "Ah! by all that's holy, the police to-day is a match for that of Monsieur Lenoir."

"Give it up?" said he aloud. "I will wait till I have Monsieur le Prefet's orders.--But here we are at the hotel, if you wish to come up."

"Where do you find the money?" said Carlos point-blank, with a sagacious glance.

"Monsieur, I have a friend----"

"Get along," said Carlos; "go and tell that story to an examining magistrate!"

This audacious stroke on Carlos' part was the outcome of one of those calculations, so simple that none but a man of his temper would have thought it out.

At a very early hour he had sent Lucien to Madame de Serizy's. Lucien had begged the Count's private secretary--as from the Count--to go and obtain from the Prefet of Police full particulars concerning the agent employed by the Baron de Nucingen. The secretary came back provided with a note concerning Peyrade, a copy of the summary noted on the back of his record:--

"In the police force since 1778, having come to Paris from Avignon two years previously.

"Without money or character; possessed of certain State secrets.

"Lives in the Rue des Moineaux under the name of Canquoelle, the name of a little estate where his family resides in the department of Vaucluse; very respectable people.

"Was lately inquired for by a grand-nephew named Theodore de la Peyrade. (See the report of an agent, No. 37 of the Documents.)"

"He must be the man to whom Contenson is playing the mulatto servant!" cried Carlos, when Lucien returned with other information besides this note.

Within three hours this man, with the energy of a Commander-in-Chief, had found, by Paccard's help, an innocent accomplice capable of playing the part of a gendarme in disguise, and had got himself up as a peace-officer. Three times in the coach he had thought of killing Peyrade, but he had made it a rule never to commit a murder with his own hand; he promised himself that he would get rid of Peyrade all in good time by pointing him out as a millionaire to some released convicts about the town.

Peyrade and his Mentor, as they went in, heard Contenson's voice arguing with Madame du Val-Noble's maid. Peyrade signed to Carlos to remain in the outer room, with a look meant to convey: "Thus you can assure yourself of my sincerity."

"Madame agrees to everything," said Adele. "Madame is at this moment calling on a friend, Madame de Champy, who has some rooms in the Rue Taitbout on her hands for a year, full of furniture, which she will let her have, no doubt. Madame can receive Mr. Johnson more suitably there, for the furniture is still very decent, and monsieur might buy it for madame by coming to an agreement with Madame de Champy."

"Very good, my girl. If this is not a job of fleecing, it is a bit of the wool," said the mulatto to the astonished woman. "However, we will go shares----"

"That is your darkey all over!" cried Mademoiselle Adele. "If your nabob is a nabob, he can very well afford to give madame the furniture. The lease ends in April 1830; your nabob may renew it if he likes."

"I am quite willing," said Peyrade, speaking French with a strong English accent, as he came in and tapped the woman on the shoulder.

He cast a knowing look back at Carlos, who replied by an assenting nod, understanding that the nabob was to keep up his part.

But the scene suddenly changed its aspect at the entrance of a person over whom neither Carlos nor Peyrade had the least power. Corentin suddenly came in. He had found the door open, and looked in as he went by to see how his old friend played his part as nabob.

"The Prefet is still bullying me!" said Peyrade in a whisper to Corentin. "He has found me out as a nabob."

"We will spill the Prefet," Corentin muttered in reply.

Then after a cool bow he stood darkly scrutinizing the magistrate.

"Stay here till I return," said Carlos; "I will go to the Prefecture. If you do not see me again, you may go your own way."

Having said this in an undertone to Peyrade, so as not to humiliate him in the presence of the waiting-maid, Carlos went away, not caring to remain under the eye of the newcomer, in whom he detected one of those fair-haired, blue-eyed men, coldly terrifying.

"That is the peace-officer sent after me by the Prefet," said Peyrade.

"That?" said Corentin. "You have walked into a trap. That man has three packs of cards in his shoes; you can see that by the place of his foot in the shoe; besides, a peace-officer need wear no disguise."

Corentin hurried downstairs to verify his suspicions: Carlos was getting into the fly.

"Hallo! Monsieur l'Abbe!" cried Corentin.

Carlos looked around, saw Corentin, and got in quickly. Still, Corentin had time to say:

"That was all I wanted to know.--Quai Malaquais," he shouted to the driver with diabolical mockery in his tone and expression.

"I am done!" said Jacques Collin to himself. "They have got me. I must get ahead of them by sheer pace, and, above all, find out what they want of us."

Corentin had seen the Abbe Carlos Herrera five or six times, and the man's eyes were unforgettable. Corentin had suspected him at once from the cut of his shoulders, then by his puffy face, and the trick of three inches of added height gained by a heel inside the shoe.

"Ah! old fellow, they have drawn you," said Corentin, finding no one in the room but Peyrade and Contenson.

"Who?" cried Peyrade, with metallic hardness; "I will spend my last days in putting him on a gridiron and turning him on it."

"It is the Abbe Carlos Herrera, the Corentin of Spain, as I suppose. This explains everything. The Spaniard is a demon of the first water, who has tried to make a fortune for that little young man by coining money out of a pretty baggage's bolster.--It is your lookout if you think you can measure your skill with a man who seems to me the very devil to deal with."

"Oh!" exclaimed Contenson, "he fingered the three hundred thousand francs the day when Esther was arrested; he was in the cab. I remember those eyes, that brow, and those marks of the smallpox."

"Oh! what a fortune my Lydie might have had!" cried Peyrade.

"You may still play the nabob," said Corentin. "To keep an eye on Esther you must keep up her intimacy with Val-Noble. She was really Lucien's mistress."

"They have got more than five hundred thousand francs out of Nucingen already," said Contenson.

"And they want as much again," Corentin went on. "The Rubempre estate is to cost a million.--Daddy," added he, slapping Peyrade on the shoulder, "you may get more than a hundred thousand francs to settle on Lydie."

"Don't tell me that, Corentin. If your scheme should fail, I cannot tell what I might not do----"

"You will have it by to-morrow perhaps! The Abbe, my dear fellow, is most astute; we shall have to kiss his spurs; he is a very superior devil. But I have him sure enough. He is not a fool, and he will knock under. Try to be a gaby as well as a nabob, and fear nothing."

In the evening of this day, when the opposing forces had met face to face on level ground, Lucien spent the evening at the Hotel Grandlieu. The party was a large one. In the face of all the assembly, the Duchess kept Lucien at her side for some time, and was most kind to him.

"You are going away for a little while?" said she.

"Yes, Madame la Duchesse. My sister, in her anxiety to promote my marriage, has made great sacrifices, and I have been enabled to repurchase the lands of the Rubempres, to reconstitute the whole estate. But I have found in my Paris lawyer a very clever man, who has managed to save me from the extortionate terms that the holders would have asked if they had known the name of the purchaser."

"Is there a chateau?" asked Clotilde, with too broad a smile.

"There is something which might be called a chateau; but the wiser plan would be to use the building materials in the construction of a modern residence."

Clotilde's eyes blazed with happiness above her smile of satisfaction.

"You must play a rubber with my father this evening," said she. "In a fortnight I hope you will be asked to dinner."

"Well, my dear sir," said the Duc de Grandlieu, "I am told that you have bought the estate of Rubempre. I congratulate you. It is an answer to those who say you are in debt. We bigwigs, like France or England, are allowed to have a public debt; but men of no fortune, beginners, you see, may not assume that privilege----"

"Indeed, Monsieur le Duc, I still owe five hundred thousand francs on my land."

"Well, well, you must marry a wife who can bring you the money; but you will have some difficulty in finding a match with such a fortune in our Faubourg, where daughters do not get large dowries."

"Their name is enough," said Lucien.

"We are only three wisk players--Maufrigneuse, d'Espard, and I--will you make a fourth?" said the Duke, pointing to the card-table.

Clotilde came to the table to watch her father's game.

"She expects me to believe that she means it for me," said the Duke, patting his daughter's hands, and looking round at Lucien, who remained quite grave.

Lucien, Monsieur d'Espard's partner, lost twenty louis.

"My dear mother," said Clotilde to the Duchess, "he was so judicious as to lose."

At eleven o'clock, after a few affectionate words with Mademoiselle de Grandlieu, Lucien went home and to bed, thinking of the complete triumph he was to enjoy a month hence; for he had not a doubt of being accepted as Clotilde's lover, and married before Lent in 1830.

On the morrow, when Lucien was smoking his cigarettes after breakfast, sitting with Carlos, who had become much depressed, M. de Saint-Esteve was announced--what a touch of irony--who begged to see either the Abbe Carlos Herrera or Monsieur Lucien de Rubempre.

"Was he told downstairs that I had left Paris?" cried the Abbe.

"Yes, sir," replied the groom.

"Well, then, you must see the man," said he to Lucien. "But do not say a single compromising word, do not let a sign of surprise escape you. It is the enemy."

"You will overhear me," said Lucien.

Carlos hid in the adjoining room, and through the crack of the door he saw Corentin, whom he recognized only by his voice, such powers of transformation did the great man possess. This time Corentin looked like an old paymaster-general.

"I have not had the honor of being known to you, monsieur," Corentin began, "but----"

"Excuse my interrupting you, monsieur, but----"

"But the matter in point is your marriage to Mademoiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu--which will never take place," Corentin added eagerly.

Lucien sat down and made no reply.

"You are in the power of a man who is able and willing and ready to prove to the Duc de Grandlieu that the lands of Rubempre are to be paid for with the money that a fool has given to your mistress, Mademoiselle Esther," Corentin went on. "It will be quite easy to find the minutes of the legal opinions in virtue of which Mademoiselle Esther was summoned; there are ways too of making d'Estourny speak. The very clever manoeuvres employed against the Baron de Nucingen will be brought to light.

"As yet all can be arranged. Pay down a hundred thousand francs, and you will have peace.--All this is no concern of mine. I am only the agent of those who levy this blackmail; nothing more."

Corentin might have talked for an hour; Lucien smoked his cigarette with an air of perfect indifference.

"Monsieur," replied he, "I do not want to know who you are, for men who undertake such jobs as these have no name--at any rate, in my vocabulary. I have allowed you to talk at your leisure; I am at home. --You seem to me not bereft of common sense; listen to my dilemma."

There was a pause, during which Lucien met Corentin's cat-like eye fixed on him with a perfectly icy stare.

"Either you are building on facts that are absolutely false, and I need pay no heed to them," said Lucien; "or you are in the right; and in that case, by giving you a hundred thousand francs, I put you in a position to ask me for as many hundred thousand francs as your employer can find Saint-Esteves to ask for.

"However, to put an end, once and for all, to your kind intervention, I would have you know that I, Lucien de Rubempre, fear no one. I have no part in the jobbery of which you speak. If the Grandlieus make difficulties, there are other young ladies of very good family ready to be married. After all, it is no loss to me if I remain single, especially if, as you imagine, I deal in blank bills to such advantage."

"If Monsieur l'Abbe Carlos Herrera----"

"Monsieur," Lucien put in, "the Abbe Herrera is at this moment on the way to Spain. He has nothing to do with my marriage, my interests are no concern of his. That remarkable statesman was good enough to assist me at one time with his advice, but he has reports to present to his Majesty the King of Spain; if you have anything to say to him, I recommend you to set out for Madrid."

"Monsieur," said Corentin plainly, "you will never be Mademoiselle Clotilde de Grandlieu's husband."

"So much the worse for her!" replied Lucien, impatiently pushing Corentin towards the door.

"You have fully considered the matter?" asked Corentin coldly.

"Monsieur, I do not recognize that you have any right either to meddle in my affairs, or to make me waste a cigarette," said Lucien, throwing away his cigarette that had gone out.

"Good-day, monsieur," said Corentin. "We shall not meet again.--But there will certainly be a moment in your life when you would give half your fortune to have called me back from these stairs."

In answer to this threat, Carlos made as though he were cutting off a head.

"Now to business!" cried he, looking at Lucien, who was as white as ashes after this dreadful interview.

If among the small number of my readers who take an interest in the moral and philosophical side of this book there should be only one capable of believing that the Baron de Nucingen was happy, that one would prove how difficult it is to explain the heart of a courtesan by any kind of physiological formula. Esther was resolved to make the poor millionaire pay dearly for what he called his day of triumph. And at the beginning of February 1830 the house-warming party had not yet been given in the "little palace."

"Well," said Esther in confidence to her friends, who repeated it to the Baron, "I shall open house at the Carnival, and I mean to make my man as happy as a cock in plaster."

The phrase became proverbial among women of her kidney.

The Baron gave vent to much lamentation; like married men, he made himself very ridiculous, he began to complain to his intimate friends, and his dissatisfaction was generally known.

Esther, meanwhile, took quite a serious view of her position as the Pompadour of this prince of speculators. She had given two or three small evening parties, solely to get Lucien into the house. Lousteau, Rastignac, du Tillet, Bixiou, Nathan, the Comte de Brambourg--all the cream of the dissipated crew--frequented her drawing-room. And, as leading ladies in the piece she was playing, Esther accepted Tullia, Florentine, Fanny Beaupre, and Florine--two dancers and two actresses --besides Madame du Val-Noble. Nothing can be more dreary than a courtesan's home without the spice of rivalry, the display of dress, and some variety of type.

In six weeks Esther had become the wittiest, the most amusing, the loveliest, and the most elegant of those female pariahs who form the class of kept women. Placed on the pedestal that became her, she enjoyed all the delights of vanity which fascinate women in general, but still as one who is raised above her caste by a secret thought. She cherished in her heart an image of herself which she gloried in, while it made her blush; the hour when she must abdicate was ever present to her consciousness; thus she lived a double life, really scorning herself. Her sarcastic remarks were tinged by the temper which was roused in her by the intense contempt felt by the Angel of Love, hidden in the courtesan, for the disgraceful and odious part played by the body in the presence, as it were, of the soul. At once actor and spectator, victim and judge, she was a living realization of the beautiful Arabian Tales, in which a noble creature lies hidden under a degrading form, and of which the type is the story of Nebuchadnezzar in the book of books--the Bible. Having granted herself a lease of life till the day after her infidelity, the victim might surely play awhile with the executioner.

Moreover, the enlightenment that had come to Esther as to the secretly disgraceful means by which the Baron had made his colossal fortune relieved her of every scruple. She could play the part of Ate, the goddess of vengeance, as Carlos said. And so she was by turns enchanting and odious to the banker, who lived only for her. When the Baron had been worked up to such a pitch of suffering that he wanted only to be quit of Esther, she brought him round by a scene of tender affection.

Herrera, making a great show of starting for Spain, had gone as far as Tours. He had sent the chaise on as far as Bordeaux, with a servant inside, engaged to play the part of master, and to wait for him at Bordeaux. Then, returning by diligence, dressed as a commercial traveler, he had secretly taken up his abode under Esther's roof, and thence, aided by Asie and Europe, carefully directed all his machinations, keeping an eye on every one, and especially on Peyrade.

About a fortnight before the day chosen for her great entertainment, which was to be given in the evening after the first opera ball, the courtesan, whose witticisms were beginning to make her feared, happened to be at the Italian opera, at the back of a box which the Baron--forced to give a box--had secured in the lowest tier, in order to conceal his mistress, and not to flaunt her in public within a few feet of Madame de Nucingen. Esther had taken her seat, so as to "rake" that of Madame de Serizy, whom Lucien almost invariably accompanied. The poor girl made her whole happiness centre in watching Lucien on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays by Madame de Serizy's side.

At about half-past nine in the evening Esther could see Lucien enter the Countess' box, with a care-laden brow, pale, and with almost drawn features. These symptoms of mental anguish were legible only to Esther. The knowledge of a man's countenance is, to the woman who loves him, like that of the sea to a sailor.

"Good God! what can be the matter? What has happened? Does he want to speak with that angel of hell, who is to him a guardian angel, and who lives in an attic between those of Europe and Asie?"

Tormented by such reflections, Esther scarcely listened to the music. Still less, it may be believed, did she listen to the Baron, who held one of his "Anchel's" hands in both his, talking to her in his horrible Polish-Jewish accent, a jargon which must be as unpleasant to read as it is to hear spoken.

"Esther," said he, releasing her hand, and pushing it away with a slight touch of temper, "you do not listen to me."

"I tell you what, Baron, you blunder in love as you gibber in French."

"_Der teufel_!"

"I am not in my boudoir here, I am at the opera. If you were not a barrel made by Huret or Fichet, metamorphosed into a man by some trick of nature, you would not make so much noise in a box with a woman who is fond of music. I don't listen to you? I should think not! There you sit rustling my dress like a cockchafer in a paper-bag, and making me laugh with contempt. You say to me, 'You are so pretty, I should like to eat you!' Old simpleton! Supposing I were to say to you, 'You are less intolerable this evening than you were yesterday--we will go home?'--Well, from the way you puff and sigh--for I feel you if I don't listen to you--I perceive that you have eaten an enormous dinner, and your digestion is at work. Let me instruct you--for I cost you enough to give some advice for your money now and then--let me tell you, my dear fellow, that a man whose digestion is so troublesome as yours is, is not justified in telling his mistress that she is pretty at unseemly hours. An old soldier died of that very folly 'in the arms of Religion,' as Blondet has it.

"It is now ten o'clock. You finished dinner at du Tillet's at nine o'clock, with your pigeon the Comte de Brambourg; you have millions and truffles to digest. Come to-morrow night at ten."

"Vat you are cruel!" cried the Baron, recognizing the profound truth of this medical argument.

"Cruel!" echoed Esther, still looking at Lucien. "Have you not consulted Bianchon, Desplein, old Haudry?--Since you have had a glimpse of future happiness, do you know what you seem like to me?"


"A fat old fellow wrapped in flannel, who walks every hour from his armchair to the window to see if the thermometer has risen to the degree marked '_Silkworms_,' the temperature prescribed by his physician."

"You are really an ungrateful slut!" cried the Baron, in despair at hearing a tune, which, however, amorous old men not unfrequently hear at the opera.

"Ungrateful!" retorted Esther. "What have you given me till now? A great deal of annoyance. Come, papa! Can I be proud of you? You! you are proud of me; I wear your livery and badge with an air. You paid my debts? So you did. But you have grabbed so many millions--come, you need not sulk; you admitted that to me--that you need not think twice of that. And this is your chief title to fame. A baggage and a thief --a well-assorted couple!

"You have built a splendid cage for a parrot that amuses you. Go and ask a Brazilian cockatoo what gratitude it owes to the man who placed it in a gilded cage.--Don't look at me like that; you are just like a Buddist Bonze.

"Well, you show your red-and-white cockatoo to all Paris. You say, 'Does anybody else in Paris own such a parrot? And how well it talks, how cleverly it picks its words!' If du Tillet comes in, it says at once, 'How'do, little swindler!'--Why, you are as happy as a Dutchman who has grown an unique tulip, as an old nabob pensioned off in Asia by England, when a commercial traveler sells him the first Swiss snuff-box that opens in three places.

"You want to win my heart? Well, now, I will tell you how to do it."

"Speak, speak, dere is noting I shall not do for you. I lofe to be fooled by you."

"Be young, be handsome, be like Lucien de Rubempre over there by your wife, and you shall have gratis what you can never buy with all your millions!"

"I shall go 'vay, for really you are too bat dis evening!" said the banker, with a lengthened face.

"Very well, good-night then," said Esther. "Tell Georches to make your pillows very high and place your fee low, for you look apoplectic this evening.--You cannot say, my dear, that I take no interest in your health."

The Baron was standing up, and held the door-knob in his hand.

"Here, Nucingen," said Esther, with an imperious gesture.

The Baron bent over her with dog-like devotion.

"Do you want to see me very sweet, and giving you sugar-and-water, and petting you in my house, this very evening, old monster?"

"You shall break my heart!"

"Break your heart--you mean bore you," she went on. "Well, bring me Lucien that I may invite him to our Belshazzar's feast, and you may be sure he will not fail to come. If you succeed in that little transaction, I will tell you that I love you, my fat Frederic, in such plain terms that you cannot but believe me."

"You are an enchantress," said the Baron, kissing Esther's glove. "I should be villing to listen to abuse for ein hour if alvays der vas a kiss at de ent of it."

"But if I am not obeyed, I----" and she threatened the Baron with her finger as we threaten children.

The Baron raised his head like a bird caught in a springe and imploring the trapper's pity.

"Dear Heaven! What ails Lucien?" said she to herself when she was alone, making no attempt to check her falling tears; "I never saw him so sad."

This is what had happened to Lucien that very evening.

At nine o'clock he had gone out, as he did every evening, in his brougham to go to the Hotel de Grandlieu. Using his saddle-horse and cab in the morning only, like all young men, he had hired a brougham for winter evenings, and had chosen a first-class carriage and splendid horses from one of the best job-masters. For the last month all had gone well with him; he had dined with the Grandlieus three times; the Duke was delightful to him; his shares in the Omnibus Company, sold for three hundred thousand francs, had paid off a third more of the price of the land; Clotilde de Grandlieu, who dressed beautifully now, reddened inch thick when he went into the room, and loudly proclaimed her attachment to him. Some personages of high estate discussed their marriage as a probable event. The Duc de Chaulieu, formerly Ambassador to Spain, and now for a short while Minister for Foreign Affairs, had promised the Duchesse de Grandlieu that he would ask for the title of Marquis for Lucien.

So that evening, after dining with Madame de Serizy, Lucien had driven to the Faubourg Saint-Germain to pay his daily visit.

He arrives, the coachman calls for the gate to be opened, he drives into the courtyard and stops at the steps. Lucien, on getting out, remarks four other carriages in waiting. On seeing Monsieur de Rubempre, one of the footmen placed to open and shut the hall-door comes forward and out on to the steps, in front of the door, like a soldier on guard.

"His Grace is not at home," says he.

"Madame la Duchesse is receiving company," observes Lucien to the servant.

"Madame la Duchesse is gone out," replies the man solemnly.

"Mademoiselle Clotilde----"

"I do not think that Mademoiselle Clotilde will see you, monsieur, in the absence of Madame la Duchesse."

"But there are people here," replies Lucien in dismay.

"I do not know, sir," says the man, trying to seem stupid and to be respectful.

There is nothing more fatal than etiquette to those who regard it as the most formidable arm of social law. Lucien easily interpreted the meaning of this scene, so disastrous to him. The Duke and Duchess would not admit him. He felt the spinal marrow freezing in the core of his vertebral column, and a sickly cold sweat bedewed his brow. The conversation had taken place in the presence of his own body-servant, who held the door of the brougham, doubting whether to shut it. Lucien signed to him that he was going away again; but as he stepped into the carriage, he heard the noise of people coming downstairs, and the servant called out first, "Madame la Duchesse de Chaulieu's people," then "Madame la Vicomtesse de Grandlieu's carriage!"

Lucien merely said, "To the Italian opera"; but in spite of his haste, the luckless dandy could not escape the Duc de Chaulieu and his son, the Duc de Rhetore, to whom he was obliged to bow, for they did not speak a word to him. A great catastrophe at Court, the fall of a formidable favorite, has ere now been pronounced on the threshold of a royal study, in one word from an usher with a face like a plaster cast.

"How am I to let my adviser know of this disaster--this instant----?" thought Lucien as he drove to the opera-house. "What is going on?"

He racked his brain with conjectures.

This was what had taken place. That morning, at eleven o'clock, the Duc de Grandlieu, as he went into the little room where the family all breakfasted together, said to Clotilde after kissing her, "Until further orders, my child, think no more of the Sieur de Rubempre."

Then he had taken the Duchesse by the hand, and led her into a window recess to say a few words in an undertone, which made poor Clotilde turn pale; for she watched her mother as she listened to the Duke, and saw her expression of extreme surprise.

"Jean," said the Duke to one of his servants, "take this note to Monsieur le Duc de Chaulieu, and beg him to answer by you, Yes or No. --I am asking him to dine here to-day," he added to his wife.

Breakfast had been a most melancholy meal. The Duchess was meditative, the Duke seemed to be vexed with himself, and Clotilde could with difficulty restrain her tears.

"My child, your father is right; you must obey him," the mother had said to the daughter with much emotion. "I do not say as he does, 'Think no more of Lucien.' No--for I understand your suffering" --Clotilde kissed her mother's hand--"but I do say, my darling, Wait, take no step, suffer in silence since you love him, and put your trust in your parents' care.--Great ladies, my child, are great just because they can do their duty on every occasion, and do it nobly."

"But what is it about?" asked Clotilde as white as a lily.

"Matters too serious to be discussed with you, my dearest," the Duchess replied. "For if they are untrue, your mind would be unnecessarily sullied; and if they are true, you must never know them."

At six o'clock the Duc de Chaulieu had come to join the Duc de Grandlieu, who awaited him in his study.

"Tell me, Henri"--for the Dukes were on the most familiar terms, and addressed each other by their Christian names. This is one of the shades invented to mark a degree of intimacy, to repel the audacity of French familiarity, and humiliate conceit--"tell me, Henri, I am in such a desperate difficulty that I can only ask advice of an old friend who understands business, and you have practice and experience. My daughter Clotilde, as you know, is in love with that little Rubempre, whom I have been almost compelled to accept as her promised husband. I have always been averse to the marriage; however, Madame de Grandlieu could not bear to thwart Clotilde's passion. When the young fellow had repurchased the family estate and paid three-quarters of the price, I could make no further objections.

"But last evening I received an anonymous letter--you know how much that is worth--in which I am informed that the young fellow's fortune is derived from some disreputable source, and that he is telling lies when he says that his sister is giving him the necessary funds for his purchase. For my daughter's happiness, and for the sake of our family, I am adjured to make inquiries, and the means of doing so are suggested to me. Here, read it."

"I am entirely of your opinion as to the value of anonymous letters, my dear Ferdinand," said the Duc de Chaulieu after reading the letter. "Still, though we may contemn them, we must make use of them. We must treat such letters as we would treat a spy. Keep the young man out of the house, and let us make inquiries----

"I know how to do it. Your lawyer is Derville, a man in whom we have perfect confidence; he knows the secrets of many families, and can certainly be trusted with this. He is an honest man, a man of weight, and a man of honor; he is cunning and wily; but his wiliness is only in the way of business, and you need only employ him to obtain evidence you can depend upon.

"We have in the Foreign Office an agent of the superior police who is unique in his power of discovering State secrets; we often send him on such missions. Inform Derville that he will have a lieutenant in the case. Our spy is a gentleman who will appear wearing the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, and looking like a diplomate. This rascal will do the hunting; Derville will only look on. Your lawyer will then tell you if the mountain brings forth a mouse, or if you must throw over this little Rubempre. Within a week you will know what you are doing."

"The young man is not yet so far a Marquis as to take offence at my being 'Not at home' for a week," said the Duc de Grandlieu.

"Above all, if you end by giving him your daughter," replied the Minister. "If the anonymous letter tells the truth, what of that? You can send Clotilde to travel with my daughter-in-law Madeleine, who wants to go to Italy."

"You relieve me immensely. I don't know whether I ought to thank you."

"Wait till the end."

"By the way," exclaimed the Duc de Grandlieu, "what is your man's name? I must mention it to Derville. Send him to me to-morrow by five o'clock; I will have Derville here and put them in communication."

"His real name," said M. de Chaulieu, "is, I think, Corentin--a name you must never have heard, for my gentleman will come ticketed with his official name. He calls himself Monsieur de Saint-Something--Saint Yves--Saint-Valere?--Something of the kind.--You may trust him; Louis XVIII. had perfect confidence in him."

After this confabulation the steward had orders to shut the door on Monsieur de Rubempre--which was done.

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Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 5 Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 5

Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 5
Lucien paced the waiting-room at the opera-house like a man who was drunk. He fancied himself the talk of all Paris. He had in the Duc de Rhetore one of those unrelenting enemies on whom a man must smile, as he can never be revenged, since their attacks are in conformity with the rules of society. The Duc de Rhetore knew the scene that had just taken place on the outside steps of the Grandlieus' house. Lucien, feeling the necessity of at once reporting the catastrophe to his high privy councillor, nevertheless was afraid of compromising himself by going to Esther's

Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 3 Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 3

Scenes From A Courtesan's Life - What Love Costs an Old Man - Part 3
Within the sphere of speculative calculations the banker put forth as much intelligence and skill, finesse and mental power, as a practised diplomatist expends on national affairs. If he were equally remarkable outside his office, the banker would be a great man. Nucingen made one with the Prince de Ligne, with Mazarin or with Diderot, is a human formula that is almost inconceivable, but which has nevertheless been known as Pericles, Aristotle, Voltaire, and Napoleon. The splendor of the Imperial crown must not blind us to the merits of the individual; the Emperor was charming, well informed, and witty. Monsieur de