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Samuel Brohl and Company By Victor Cherbuliez Characters: 34585

Updated: 2017-11-28 00:07


The following day, after breakfast, Mlle. Moriaz was walking alone on the terrace. The weather was delightfully mild. She was bare-headed, and had opened her white silk umbrella to protect herself from the sun; for Samuel Brohl had been a true prophet-there was sunshine. She looked up at the sky, where no trace was left of the wind-storm of the preceding evening, and it seemed to her that she never had seen the sky so blue. She looked at her flower-beds, and the flowers that she saw were perhaps not there. She looked at the orchard, growing on the slope that bordered the terrace, and she admired the foliage of the apple-trees, over which Autumn, with liberal hand, had scattered gold and purple; the grass there was as high as her knee, and was fragrant and glossy. Above the apple-trees she saw the spire of the church at Cormeilles; it seemed to amuse itself watching the flying clouds. It was a high-festival day. The bells were ringing out a full peal; they spoke to this happy girl of that far-off, mysterious land which we remember, without ever having seen it. Their silvery voices were answered by the cheerful cackling of the hens. She at once understood that a joyful event was occurring in the poultry-yard, as well as in the belfry; that below, as well as above, an arrival was being celebrated. But what pleased her more than all the rest was the little deep-set gateway with its ivy-hung arch at the end of the orchard. It was through this gate that he would come.

She walked several times around the terrace. The gravel was elastic, and rebounded under her step. Never had Mlle. Moriaz felt so light: life, the present, the future, weighed no heavier on her brow than a bird in the hand that holds it and feels it tremble. Her heart fluttered like a bird; like a bird it had wings, and only asked to fly. She believed that there was happiness everywhere; there seemed to be joy diffused through the air, in the wind, in every sound, and in all silences. She gazed smilingly on the vast landscape that was spread out before her eyes, and the sparkling Seine sent back her smile.

Some one came to announce that a lady, a stranger, had called, who wished to speak with her. Immediately thereupon the stranger appeared, and Mlle. Moriaz was most disagreeably surprised to find herself in the presence of the Princess Gulof, whom she would willingly never have seen again. "This is an unpleasant visit," she thought, as she asked her guest to be seated on a rustic bench. "What can this woman want with me?"

"It was M. Moriaz whom I desired to speak with," began the princess. "I am told that he is out. I shall leave in a few hours for Calais; I cannot await his return, and I have, therefore, decided to address myself to you, mademoiselle. I have come here to render you one of those little services that one woman owes to another; but, first of all, I would like to be assured that I may rely on your absolute discretion; I do not desire to appear in this affair."

"In what affair, madame?"

"One of no little consequence; it concerns your marriage."

"You are extremely kind to concern yourself with my marriage; but I do not understand--"

"You will understand in a few moments. So you promise me--"

"I promise nothing, madame, before I understand."

The princess looked in amazement at Mlle. Moriaz. She had anticipated talking with a dove; she found that the dove had a less accommodating temper and a much stiffer neck than she had believed. She hesitated for a moment whether she would not at once end the interview; she decided, however, to proceed:

"I have a story to relate to you," she continued, in a familiar tone; "listen with attention, I beg of you. I err if in the end you do not find it interesting. Thirteen or fourteen years ago, one of those unlucky chances, common in travelling, obliged me to pass several hours in a miserable little town in Galicia. The inn, or rather the tavern, where I stopped, was very dirty; the tavern-keeper, an ill-looking little German Jew, was still dirtier than his tavern, and he had a son who was in no better condition. I am given to forming illusions about people. In spite of his filth, this youth interested me. His stupid father refused him all instruction, and beat him unmercifully; he appeared intelligent; he made me think of a fresh-water fish condemned to live in a quagmire. He was called Samuel Brohl: remember the name. I pitied him and I saw no other way of saving him than to buy him of his father. This horrid little man demanded an exorbitant price. I assure you his pretensions were absurd. Well, my dear, I was out of cash; I had with me just the money sufficient for the expenses of the rest of the journey; but I wore on my arm a bracelet that had the advantage of pleasing him. It was a Persian trinket, more singular than beautiful. I can see it now; it was formed of three large plates of gold ornamented with grotesque animals, and joined by a filigree network. I valued this bracelet; it had been brought to me from Teheran. By means of a secret spring, one of the plates opened, and I had had engraved inside the most interesting dates of my life, and underneath them my profession of faith, with which you have no concern. Ah! my dear, when one has once been touched by that dangerous passion called philanthropy, one becomes capable of exchanging a Persian bracelet for a Samuel Brohl, and I swear to you that it was a real fool's bargain that I made. This miserable fellow paid me badly for my kindness to him. I sent him to the university, and later I took him into my service as secretary. He had a black heart. One fine morning, he took to his heels and disappeared."

"That was revolting ingratitude," interrupted Antoinette, "and your good work, madame, was poorly recompensed; but I do not see what relation Samuel Brohl can have to my marriage."

"You are too impatient, my darling. If you had given me time I would have told you that I had had the very unexpected pleasure of dining yesterday with him at Mme. de Lorcy's. This German has made great advances since I lost sight of him; not content with becoming a Pole, he is now a person of vast importance. He is called Count Abel Larinski, and he is to marry very soon Mlle. Antoinette Moriaz."

The blood rushed into Antoinette's cheeks, and her eyes flashed fire. Princess Gulof entirely mistook the sentiment that animated her, and said: "My dear, don't be angry, don't be indignant, your indignation will not help you at all. Without doubt, a rascal capable of deceiving such a charming girl as you deserves death ten times over; but be careful not to make an exposure! My dear, scandal always splashes mud over every one concerned, and there is a rather vulgar but exceedingly sensible Turkish proverb that says that the more garlic is crushed, the stronger becomes its odour. Believe me, you would not come off without a tinge of ridicule; certain mistakes always appear a little ridiculous, and it is useless to proclaim them to the universe. Thank Heaven! you are not yet the Countess Larinski-I arrived in time to save you. Be silent about the discovery you have just made; by no means mention it to Samuel Brohl, and seek a proper pretext to break with him. You would not be a woman if you could not find ten for one."

Mlle. Moriaz could no longer refrain her anger. "Madame," she exclaimed excitedly, "will you declare to M. Larinski, in my presence, that his name is Samuel Brohl?"

"I made that declaration to him yesterday-it is useless to repeat it. He was nearer dead than alive, and I was truly sorry for the state into which I had thrown him. I cannot disguise from myself that I am the cause of all this; why did I take the boy from his father's tavern and his natal mud? Perhaps there he would have remained honest. It was I who launched him into the world and gave him the desire to advance, I put the trump-cards into his hand, but he found that he could not win fast enough by fair play, so he ended by cheating. It is not my place to overwhelm the poor devil-we owe some consideration to those who are under obligations to us; and, once more, I desire not to appear further in this business. Promise me that Samuel Brohl never will be informed of the measures I have taken."

She replied, in a haughty tone: "I promise you, madame, that I never will do Count Larinski the wrong to repeat to him a single word of the very likely story you have related to me."

The princess rose hastily, remained standing before Mlle. Moriaz, and contemplated her in silence; finally she said, in tones of the most cutting sarcasm: "Ah! you do not believe me, my dear. Decidedly you do not believe me. You are right; you should not put faith in an old woman's childish chatter. No, my darling, there is no Samuel Brohl: I dined yesterday at Maisons with the most authentic of Counts Larinski, and nothing remains for me to say but to present my best wishes for the certain happiness of the Countess Larinski, et cetera-of the Countess Larinski and company."

With these words she bowed, turned on her heels, and disappeared.

Mlle. Moriaz remained an instant as if stunned by a blow. She questioned herself as to whether she had not seen a vision, or had had the nightmare. Was it, indeed, a Russian princess of flesh and blood who had just been there, who had been seated close beside her, and had conversed so strangely with her that the belfry of Cormeilles could not hear it without falling into a profound stupor? In fact, the belfry of Cormeilles had become silent, its bells no longer rang; an appalling silence reigned for two leagues round.

Antoinette soon controlled her emotions. "The day before yesterday," she thought, "this woman appeared to me to be deranged: she is a lunatic; I wish that Abel were here, he could tell me what happened at dinner between him and this dotard, and we should laugh over it together. Perhaps nothing happened at all. The Princess Gulof should be confined. They do very wrong to let maniacs like that go at large. It is dangerous; the bells of Cormeilles have ceased ringing. Ah! bon Dieu, who knows? Mme. de Lorcy surely has a hand in this business; it is the result of some grand plot. How many acts are there in the play? Here we are at the second or third; but there are some jokes that are very provoking. I shall end by being seriously angry."

Princess Gulof appeared to have entirely failed in her object. It seemed to Mlle. Moriaz that for the last twenty minutes she loved Count Larinski more than ever before.

The hour drew near; he was on the way; she had never been so impatient to see him. She saw some one at the end of the terrace. It was M. Camille Langis, who was going towards the laboratory.

He turned his head, retraced his steps, and came to her. M. Moriaz had asked him to translate two pages of a German memoir which he had not been able to understand. Camille was bringing the translation; perhaps that was the reason of his coming back to Cormeilles after two days; perhaps, too, it was only a pretext.

Mlle. Moriaz could not help thinking that his visit was inopportune; that he had chose an unfortunate time for it. "If the count finds him still here," thought she, "I am not afraid that he will make a scene, but all his pleasure will be spoiled." There was a tinge of coldness in her welcome to M. Langis, of which he was sensible.

"I am in the way," he said, making a movement to retire.

She kept him, and altered her tone: "You are never in the way, Camille. Sit there."

He seated himself, and talked of the races at Chantilly, that he had attended the day before.

She listened to him, bowed her head in sign of approval; but she heard his voice through a mist that veiled her senses. She lifted her hand to brush away a wasp that annoyed her by its buzzing. The lace of her cuff, in falling back, left her wrist exposed.

"What a curious bracelet you have!" said M. Langis.

"Have you not seen it before?" she replied. "It is some time since--"

She interrupted herself, a sudden idea occurring to her. She looked at her wrist. This bracelet from which she never was parted-this bracelet that Count Larinski had given to her-this bracelet that he loved because it had belonged to his mother, and that the late Countess Larinski had worn as long as she lived-resembled none other; but Mlle. Moriaz observed that it had a strong resemblance to the Persian bracelet that the Princess Gulof had described to her, and which she had exchanged for Samuel Brohl. The three gold plates, the grotesque animals, the filigree network-nothing was wanting. She took it from her arm and handed it to M. Langis, saying to him: "There is, it seems, something written on the interior of one of these plates; but you must know the secret to be able to open it. Can you guess secrets?"

He carefully examined the bracelet. "Two of these plates," said he, "are solid, and of heavy gold; the third is hollow, and might serve as a case. I see a little hinge that is almost invisible; but I seek in vain for the secret-I cannot find it."

"Is the hinge strong?"

"Not very, and the lid easily could be forced open."

"That is what I want you to do," she rejoined.

"What are you thinking of? I would not spoil a trinket that you value."

She replied: "I have made the acquaintance of a Russian princess who has a mania for physiology and dissection. I have caught the disease, and I want to begin to dissect. I am fond of this trinket, but I want to know what is inside. Do as I tell you," she continued. "You will find in the laboratory the necessary instruments. Go; the key is in the door."

He consulted her look; her eye was burning, her voice broken, and she repeated: "Go-go! Do you not understand me?"

He obeyed, went to the laboratory, taking the bracelet with him. After five minutes he returned saying: "I am very unskilful; I crushed the lid in raising it; but you wished it, and your curiosity will be satisfied."

She could, in truth, satisfy her curiosity. She eagerly seized the bracelet, and on the back of the plate, now left bare, she saw engraved in the gold, characters almost microscopic in size. Through the greatest attention she succeeded in deciphering them. She distinguished several dates, marking the year, the month, and the day, when some important event had occurred to the Princess Gulof. These dates, accompanied by no indication of any kind, formerly sufficed to recall the principal experiments that she had practised on mankind before having discovered Samuel Brohl. The result had not been very cheerful, for beneath this form of calendar stood a confession of faith, thus expressed, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" This melancholy declaration was signed, and the signature was perfectly legible. Mlle. Moriaz spelled it out readily, although at that moment her sight was dim, and she was convinced that the trinket, which Count Larinski had presented to her as a family relic, had belonged to Anna Petrovna, Princess Gulof.

She grew mortally pale, and lost consciousness; she seemed on the verge of an attack of delirium. In the agitation of her mind, she imagined that she saw herself at a great distance, at the end of the world, and very small; she was climbing a mountain, on the other side of which there was a man awaiting her. She questioned herself, "Am I, or is this traveller, Mlle. Moriaz?" She closed her eyes, and saw a blank abyss open before her, in which her life was ingulfed, whirled about, like the leaf of a tree in a whirlpool.

M. Langis drew near her, and, lightly slapping the palms of her hands, said, "What is the matter?"

She roused herself, made an effort to lift her head, and let it sink again. The trouble that lay in the depths of her heart choked her; she experienced an irresistible need of confiding in some one, and she judged that the man who was talking to her was one of those men to whom a woman can tell her secret, one of those souls to whom she could pour out her shame without blushing. She began, in a broken voice, a confused, disconnected recital that Camille could scarcely follow. However, he finally understood; he felt himself divided between an immense pity for her despair, and a fierce lover's joy that tightened his throat and well-nigh strangled him.

The belfry of Cormeilles had recovered its voice; two o'clock rang out on the air. Antoinette rose and exclaimed: "I was to meet him at the pretty little gate that you see from here! He will have the right to be angry if I keep him waiting."

At once she hastened towards the balustered steps that led from the terrace to the orchard. M. Langis followed her, seeking to detain her. "You need not see him again," said he. "I will meet him. Pray, charge me with your explanations."

She repelled him and replied, in a voice of authority: "I wish to see him, no one but I can say to him what I have in my heart. I command you to remain here; I intend that he shall blame no one but me." She added with a curl of the lips meant for a smile: "You must remember, I do not believe yet that I have been deceived; I will not believe it until I have read the lie in his eyes."

She hastily descended into the orc

hard, and, during five minutes, her eye fixed on the gate, she waited for Samuel Brohl. Her impatience counted the seconds, and yet Mlle. Moriaz could have wished the gate would never open. There was near by an old apple-tree that she loved; in the old days she had more than once suspended her hammock from one of its arched and drooping branches. She leaned against the gnarled trunk of the old tree. It seemed to her that she was not alone; some one protected her.

At last the gate opened and admitted Samuel Brohl, who had a smile on his lips. His first words were: "And your umbrella! You have forgotten it?"

She replied: "Do you not see that there is no sunshine?" And she remained leaning against the apple-tree.

He uplifted his hand to show her the blue sky; he let it fall again. He looked at Antoinette, and he was afraid. He guessed immediately that she knew all. At once he grew audacious.

"I spent a dull day yesterday," said he. "Mme. de Lorcy invited me to dine with a crazy woman; but the night made up for it. I saw Engadine in my dreams-the firs, the Alpine pines, the emerald lakes, and a red hood."

"I, too, dreamed last night. I dreamed that the bracelet you gave me belonged to the crazy woman of whom you speak, and that she had her name engraved on it."

She threw him the bracelet: he picked it up, examined it, turned and returned it in his trembling fingers. She grew impatient. "Look at the place that has been forced open. Don't you know how to read?"

He read, and became stupefied. Who would have believed that this trinket that he had found among his father's old traps had come to him from Princess Gulof? that it was the price she had paid for Samuel Brohl's ignominy and shame? Samuel was a fatalist; he felt that his star had set, that Fate had conspired to ruin his hopes, that he was found guilty and condemned. His heart grew heavy within him.

"Can you tell me what I ought to think of a certain Samuel Brohl?" she asked.

That name, pronounced by her, fell on him like a mass of lead; he never would have believed that there could be so much weight in a human word. He trembled under the blow; then he struck his brow with his clinched hand and replied:

"Samuel Brohl is a man as worthy of your pity as he is of mine. If you knew all that he has suffered, all that he has dared, you could not help deeply pitying him and admiring him. Listen to me; Samuel Brohl is an unfortunate man-"

"Or a wretch!" she interrupted, in a terrible voice. She was seized by a fit of nervous laughter; she cried out: "Mme. Brohl! I will not be called Mme. Brohl. Ah! that poor Countess Larinski!"

He had a spasm of rage that would have terrified her had she conjectured what agitated him. He raised his head, crossed his arms on his breast, and said, with a bitter smile:

"It was not the man that you loved, it was the count."

She replied, "The man whom I loved never lied."

"Yes, I lied!" he cried, gasping for breath. "I drank that cup of shame without remorse or disgust. I lied because I loved you madly. I lied because you were dearer to me than my honour. I lied because I despaired of touching your heart, and any road seemed good that led to you. Why did I meet you? why could I not see you without recognising in you the dream of my whole life? Happiness had passed me by, it was about to take flight; I caught it in a trap-I lied. Who would not lie, to be loved by you?"

Samuel Brohl never had looked so handsome. Despair and passion kindled a sombre flame in his eyes; he had the sinister charm of a fiery Satan. He fixed on Antoinette a fascinating glance that said: "What matter my name, my lies, and the rest? My face is not a mask, and I am the man who pleased you." He had not the least suspicion of the astonishing facility with which Antoinette had taken back the heart that she had given away so easily; he did not suspect that miracles can be wrought by contempt. In the middle ages people believed in golems, figures in clay of an entrancing beauty, which had all the appearance of life. Under a lock of hair was written, in Hebrew characters, on their brow, the word "Truth." If they chanced to lie, the word was obliterated; they lost all their charm, the clay was no longer anything but clay.

Mlle. Moriaz divined Samuel Brohl's thought; she exclaimed: "The man I loved was he whose history you related to me."

He would have liked to kill her, so that she never should belong to another. Behind Antoinette, not twenty steps distant, he descried the curb of a well, and grew dizzy at the sight. He discovered, with despair, that he was not made of the stuff for crime. He dropped down on his knees in the grass, and cried, "If you will not pardon me, nothing remains for me but to die!" She stood motionless and impassive. She repeated between her teeth Camille Langis's phrase: "I am waiting until this great comedian has finished playing his piece."

He rose and started to run towards the well. She was in front of him and barred the passage, but at the same moment she felt two hands clasp her waist, and the breath of two lips that sought her lips and that murmured, "You love me still, since you do not want me to die."

She struggled with violence and horror; she succeeded, by a frantic effort, in disengaging herself from his grasp. She fled towards the house. Samuel Brohl rushed after her in mad pursuit; he was just reaching her, when he suddenly stopped. He had caught sight of M. Langis, hurrying from out a thicket, where he had been hidden. Growing uneasy, he had approached the orchard through a path concealed by the heavy foliage. Antoinette, out of breath, ran to him, gasping, "Camille, save me from this man!" and she threw herself into his arms, which closed about her with delight. He felt her sink; she would have fallen had he not supported her.

At the same instant a menacing voice saluted him with the words, "Monsieur, we will meet again!"

"To-day, if you will," he replied.

Antoinette's wild excitement had given place to insensibility; she neither saw nor heard; her limbs no longer sustained her. Camille had great difficulty in bringing her to the house; she could not ascend the steps of the terrace; he was obliged to carry her. Mlle. Moiseney saw him, and filled the air with her cries. She ran forward, she lavished her best care on her queen. All the time she was busy in bringing her to her senses she was asking Camille for explanations, to which she did not pay the least attention; she interrupted him at every word to exclaim: "This has been designed, and you are at the bottom of the plot. I have suspected you-you owe Antoinette a grudge. Your wounded vanity never has recovered from her refusal, and you are determined to be revenged. Perhaps you flatter yourself that she will end by loving you. She does not love you, and she never will love you. Who are you, to dare compare yourself with Count Larinski? Be silent! Do I believe in Samuel Brohl? I do not know Samuel Brohl. I venture my head that there is no such person as Samuel Brohl."

"Not much of a venture, mademoiselle," replied M. Moriaz, who had arrived in the meantime.

Antoinette remained during an hour in a state of mute languor; then a violent fever took possession of her. When the physician who had been sent for arrived, M. Langis accompanied him into the chamber of the sick girl. She was delirious: seated upright, she kept continually passing her hand over her brow; she sought to efface the taint of a kiss she had received one moonlight night, and the impression in her hair of the flapping of a bat's wings that had caught in her hood. These two things were confounded in her memory. From time to time she said: "Where is my portrait? Give me my portrait."

It was about ten o'clock when M. Langis called on Samuel Brohl, who was not astonished to see him appear; he had hoped he would come. Samuel had regained self-possession. He was calm and dignified. However, the tempest through which he had gone had left on his features some vestige of its passage. His lips quivered, and his beautiful chestnut locks curled like serpents about his temples, and gave his head a Medusa-like appearance.

He said to Camille: "Where and when? Our seconds will undertake the arrangement of the rest."

"You mistake, monsieur, the motive of my visit," replied M. Langis. "I am grieved to destroy your illusions, but I did not come to arrange a meeting with you."

"Do you refuse to give me satisfaction?"

"What satisfaction do I owe you?"

"You insulted me."

"When?"

"And you said: 'The day, the place, the weapons. I leave all to your choice.'"

M. Langis could not refrain from smiling. "Ah! you at last acknowledge that your fainting-fit was comedy?" he rejoined.

"Acknowledge on your part," replied Samuel, "that you insult persons when you believe that they are not in a state to hear you. Your courage likes to take the safe side."

"Be reasonable," replied Camille. "I placed myself at Count Larinski's disposal: you cannot require me to fight with a Samuel Brohl!"

Samuel sprang to his feet; with fierce bearing and head erect he advanced to the young man, who awaited him unflinchingly, and whose resolute manner awed him. He cast upon him a sinister look, turned, and reseated himself, bit his lips until the blood came; then said in a placid voice:

"Will you do me the favour of telling me, monsieur, to what I owe the honour of this visit?"

"I came to demand of you a portrait that Mlle. Moriaz is desirous of having returned."

"If I refuse to give it up, you will doubtless appeal to my delicacy?"

"Do you doubt it?" ironically replied Camille.

"That proves, monsieur, that you still believe in Count Larinski; that it is to him you speak at this moment?"

"You deceive yourself. I came to see Samuel Brohl, who is a business-man, and it is a commercial transaction that I intend to hold with him." And drawing from his pocket a porte-monnaie, he added: "You see I do not come empty-handed."

Samuel settled himself in his arm-chair. Half closing his eyes, he watched M. Langis through his eye-lashes. A change passed over his features; his nose became more crooked, and his chin more pointed; he no longer resembled a lion, he was a fox. His lips wore the sugared smile of a usurer, one who lays snares for the sons of wealthy families, and who scents out every favourable case. If at this moment Jeremiah Brohl had seen him from the other world, he would have recognised his own flesh and blood.

He said at last to Camille: "You are a man of understanding, monsieur; I am ready to listen to you."

"I am very glad of it, and, to speak frankly, I had no doubts about it. I knew you to be very intelligent, very much disposed to make the best of an unpleasant conjuncture."

"Ah! spare my modesty. I thank you for your excellent opinion of me; I should warn you that I am accused of being greedy after gain. You will leave some of the feathers from your wings between my fingers."

For a reply M. Langis significantly patted the porte-monnaie which he held in his hand, and which was literally stuffed with bank-notes. Immediately Samuel took from a locked drawer a casket, and proceeded to open it.

"This is a very precious gem," he said. "The medallion is gold, and the work on the miniature is exquisite. It is a master-piece-the colour equals the design. The mouth is marvellously rendered. Mengs or Liotard could not have done better. At what do you value this work of art?"

"You are more of a connoisseur than I. I will leave it to your own valuation."

"I will let you have the trinket for five thousand francs; it is almost nothing."

Camille began to draw out the five thousand francs from his porte-monnaie. "How prompt you are!" remarked Samuel. "The portrait has not only a value as a work of art; I am sure you attach a sentimental value to it, for I suspect you of being head and ears in love with the original."

"I find you too greedy," replied Camille, casting on him a crushing glance.

"Do not be angry. I am accustomed to exercise methodical precision in business affairs. My father always sold at a fixed price, and I, too, never lower my charges. You will readily understand that what is worth five thousand francs to a friend is worth double to a lover. This gem is worth ten thousand francs. You can take it or leave it."

"I will take it," replied M. Langis.

"Since we agree," continued Samuel, "I possess still other articles which might suit you."

"Why, do you think of selling me your clothing?"

"Let us come to an understanding. I have other articles of the same lot."

And he brought from a closet the red hood, which he spread out on the table.

"Here is an article of clothing-to use your own words-that may be of interest to you. Its colour is beautiful; if you saw it in the sunshine, it would dazzle you. I grant that the stuff is common-it is very ordinary cashmere-but if you deign to examine it closely, you will be struck by the peculiar perfume that it exhales. The Italians call it 'l'odor femminino.'"

"And what is your rate of charge for the 'odor femminino?'"

"I will be moderate. I will let you have this article and its perfume for five thousand francs. It is actually giving it away."

"Assuredly. We will say ten and five-that makes fifteen thousand."

"One moment. You can pay for all together. I have other things to offer you. One would say that the floor burned your feet, and that you could not endure being in this room."

"I allow that I long to leave this-what shall I say?-this shop, lair, or den."

"You are young, monsieur; it never does to hurry; haste causes us acts of forgetfulness that we afterwards regret. You would be sorry not to take away with you these two scraps of paper."

At these words he drew from his note-book two letters, which he unfolded.

"Is there much more?" demanded Camille. "I fear that I shall become short of funds, and be obliged to go back for more."

"Ah! these two letters, I will not part with them for a trifle, the second especially. It is only twelve lines in length; but what pretty English handwriting! Only see! and the style is loving and tender. I will add that it is signed. Ah! monsieur, Mlle. Moriaz will be charmed to see these scrawls again. Under what obligations she will be to you! You will make the most of it; you will tell her that you wrested them from me, your dagger at my throat-that you terrified me. With what a gracious smile she will reward your heroism! According to my opinion, that smile is as well worth ten thousand francs as the medallion-the two gems are of equal value."

"If you want more, it makes no difference."

"No, monsieur; I have told you I have only one price."

"At this rate, it is twenty-five thousand francs that I owe you. You have nothing more to sell me?"

"Alas! that is all."

"Will you swear it?"

"What, monsieur! you admit, then, that Samuel Brohl has a word of honour-that when he has sworn, he can be believed?"

"You are right; I am still very young."

"That is all, then, I swear to you," affirmed Samuel, sighing. "My shop is poorly stocked; I had begun laying in a supply, but an unfortunate accident deranged my little business."

"Bah! be consoled," replied M. Langis; "you will find another opportunity; a genius of such lofty flights as yours never is at a loss. You have been unfortunate; some day Fortune will compensate you for the wrongs she has done you, and the world will accord justice to your fine talents."

Speaking thus, he laid on the table twenty-five notes of a thousand francs each. He counted them; Samuel counted them after him, and at once delivered to him the medallion, the hood, and the two letters.

Camille rose to leave. "Monsieur Brohl," he said, "from the first day I saw you, I formed the highest opinion of your character. The reality surpasses my expectations. I am charmed to have made your acquaintance, and I venture to hope that you are not sorry to have made mine. However, I shall not say, au revoir."

"Who knows?" replied Samuel, suddenly changing his countenance and attitude. And he added, "If you are fond of being astonished, monsieur, will you remain still another instant in this den?"

He rolled and twisted the twenty-five one-thousand-franc notes into lamp-lighters; then, with a grand gesture, a la Poniatowski, he approached the candle, held them in the flame until they blazed, and then threw them on the hearth, where they were soon consumed.

Turning towards M. Langis, he cried, "Will you now do me the honour of fighting with me?"

"After such a noble act as that, I can refuse you nothing," returned Camille. "I will do you that signal honour."

"Just what I desire," replied Samuel. "I am the offended; I have the choice of arms." And, in showing M. Langis out, he said, "I will not conceal from you that I have frequented the shooting-galleries, and that I am a first-class pistol-shot."

Camille bowed and went out.

The next day, in a lucid interval, Mlle. Moriaz saw at the foot of her bed a medallion laid on a red hood. From that moment the physician announced an improvement in her symptoms.

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