“No,” said Goupil, “that’s too far out of the way; but Montargis—”
“No,” said Minoret; “Sens.”
“Very good,—Sens,” replied the hideous clerk. “There’s an archbishop at Sens, and I don’t object to devotion; a little hypocrisy and there you are, on the way to fortune. Besides, the girl is pious, and she’ll succeed at Sens.”
“It is to be fully understood,” continued Minoret, “that I shall not pay the money till you marry my cousin, for whom I wish to provide, out of consideration for my deceased uncle.”
“Why not for me too?” said Goupil maliciously, instantly suspecting a secret motive in Minoret’s conduct. “Isn’t it through information you got from me that you make twenty-four thousand a year from that land, without a single enclosure, around the Chateau du Rouvre? The fields and the mill the other side of the Loing make sixteen thousand more. Come, old fellow, do you mean to play fair with me?”
“If I wanted to show my teeth I could coax Massin to buy the Rouvre estate, park, gardens, preserves, and timber—”
“You’d better think twice before you do that,” said Zelie, suddenly intervening.
“If I choose,” said Goupil, giving her a viperish look; “Massin would buy the whole for two hundred thousand francs.”
“Leave us, wife,” said the colossus, taking Zelie by the arm, and shoving her away; “I understand him. We have been so very busy,” he continued, returning to Goupil, “that we have had no time to think of you; but I rely on your friendship to buy the Rouvre estate for me.”
“It is a very ancient marquisate,” said Goupil, maliciously; “which will soon be worth in your hands fifty thousand francs a year; that means a capital of more than two millions as money is now.”
“My son could then marry the daughter of a marshal of France, or the daughter of some old family whose influence would get him a fine place under the government in Paris,” said Minoret, opening his huge snuff-box and offering a pinch to Goupil.
“Very good; but will you play fair?” cried Goupil, shaking his fingers.
Minoret pressed the clerk’s hands replying:—
“On my word of honor.”
The malignity of provincial minds
Like all crafty persons, Goupil, fortunately for Minoret, believed that the proposed marriage with Ursula was only a pretext on the part of the colossus and Zelie for making up with him, now that he was opposing them with Massin.
“It isn’t he,” thought Goupil, “who has invented this scheme; I know my Zelie,—she taught him his part. Bah! I’ll let Massin go. In three years time I’ll be deputy from Sens.” Just then he saw Bongrand on his way to the opposite house for his whist, and he rushed hastily after him.
“You take a great interest in Mademoiselle Mirouet, my dear Monsieur Bongrand,” he said. “I know you will not be indifferent to her future. Her relations are considering it, and there is the programme; she ought to marry a notary whose practice should be in the chief town of an arrondisement. This notary, who would of course be elected deputy in three years, should settle on a dower of a hundred thousand francs on her.”