Hoffman, the silversmith, whom the count desired to see, was one of those men who have existed at all times and in all countries, who trade on the exertions of those who possess more energy and perseverance than themselves, and who really do seem essential to the great mechanism of society. He had from time to time rendered assistance to Dumiger, who, unfortunately at the present moment owed him a large sum of money, which it would take a long time to liquidate. The count also had dealings with the silversmith; for in the quartier Juif all classes meet and jostle each other. But Hoffman was a superior man of his order, he knew the secret history of most of the important burghers, was consulted on many very delicate subjects, and could have published more scandal than any Sunday Chronicle of these more modern days. The count was like all other counts, incessantly in debt; so, when Hoffman was ordered to attend on the Grand Master, he did not doubt that the mandate originated in the ordinary necessity, and he prepared himself accordingly to evade or concede. Some time previously the count had found it necessary to part with a great portion of his old family plate, and as it was during the passion of his son for Marguerite, and after Dumiger had carried off the prize, he had discovered from the loquacious goldsmith all the particulars relative to Dumiger, and amongst others the account of his pecuniary obligations, and that Hoffman had a bond from him for a very large sum in his possession. The object of the count’s present interview with Hoffman was to know on what terms he could purchase the bond; and when the jeweler arrived, the bargain was soon concluded. Hoffman thought the bond would never be paid, and so the count purchased it for three times its apparent value.