“Pooh, he’ll bury us all; his health is better than ours,” replied an heir, hypocritically.
“Well, if you don’t get the money yourselves, your children will, unless that little Ursula—”
“He won’t leave it all to her.”
Ursula, as Madame Massin had predicted, was the bete noire of the relations, their sword of Damocles; and Madame Cremiere’s favorite saying, “Well, whoever lives will know,” shows that they wished at any rate more harm to her than good.
The collector and the clerk of the court, poor in comparison with the post master, had often estimated, by way of conversation, the doctor’s property. If they met their uncle walking on the banks of the canal or along the road they would look at each other piteously.
“He must have got hold of some elixir of life,” said one.
“He has made a bargain with the devil,” replied the other.
“He ought to give us the bulk of it; that fat Minoret doesn’t need anything,” said Massin.
“Ah! but Minoret has a son who’ll waste his substance,” answered Cremiere.
“How much do you really think the doctor has?”
“At the end of twelve years, say twelve thousand francs saved each year, that would give one hundred and forty-four thousand francs, and the interest brings in at least one hundred thousand more. But as he must, if he consults a notary in Paris, have made some good strokes of business, and we know that up to 1822 he could get seven or eight per cent from the State, he must now have at least four hundred thousand francs, without counting the capital of his fourteen thousand a year from the five per cents. If he were to die to-morrow without leaving anything to Ursula we should get at least seven or eight hundred thousand francs, besides the house and furniture.”
“Well, a hundred thousand to Minoret, and three hundred thousand apiece to you and me, that would be fair.”
“Ha, that would make us comfortable!”
“If he did that,” said Massin, “I should sell my situation in court and buy an estate; I’d try to be judge at Fontainebleau, and get myself elected deputy.”
“As for me I should buy a brokerage business,” said the collector.
“Unluckily, that girl he has on his arm and the abbe have got round him. I don’t believe we can do anything with him.”
“Still, we know very well he will never leave anything to the Church.”
The fright of the heirs at beholding their uncle on