“But why have deceived me, Mademoiselle? Why have kept your marriage a secret from me? Was I not toiling and working and risking my life for you?”
“And would you have worked quite so enthusiastically for me,” queried the false one archly, “if I had told you everything?”
I groaned. Perhaps she was right. I don’t know.
I took the thousand francs and never saw M. and Mme. Cazales again.
But I met Ma’ame Dupont by accident soon after.
She has left Mr.
She still weighs one hundred kilos.
I often call on her of an evening.
ON THE BRINK
You would have thought that after the shameful way in which Theodore treated me in the matter of the secret treaty that I would then and there have turned him out of doors, sent him back to grub for scraps out of the gutter, and hardened my heart once and for all against that snake in the grass whom I had nurtured in my bosom.
But, as no doubt you have remarked ere this, I have been burdened by Nature with an over-sensitive heart. It is a burden, my dear Sir, and though I have suffered inexpressibly under it, I nevertheless agree with the English poet, George Crabbe, whose works I have read with a great deal of pleasure and profit in the original tongue, and who avers in one of his inimitable “Tales” that it is “better to love amiss than nothing to have loved.”
Not that I loved Theodore, you understand? But he and I had shared so many ups and downs together of late that I was loath to think of him as reduced to begging his bread in the streets. Then I kept him by me, for I thought that he might at times be useful to me in my business.
I kept him to my hurt, as you will presently see.
In those days—I am now speaking of the time immediately following the Restoration of our beloved King Louis XVIII to the throne of his forbears—Parisian society was, as it were, divided into two distinct categories: those who had become impoverished by the revolution and the wars of the Empire, and those who had made their fortunes thereby. Among the former was M. le Marquis de Firmin-Latour, a handsome young officer of cavalry; and among the latter was one Mauruss Mosenstein, a usurer of the Jewish persuasion, whose wealth was reputed in millions, and who had a handsome daughter biblically named Rachel, who a year ago had become Madame la Marquise de Firmin-Latour.
From the first moment that this brilliant young couple appeared upon the firmament of Parisian society I took a keen interest in all their doings. In those days, you understand, it was in the essence of my business to know as much as possible of the private affairs of people in their position, and instinct had at once told me that in the case of M. le Marquis de Firmin-Latour such knowledge might prove very remunerative.