“Bash!” said he: “God blesses large families.”
But already, at this time, M. Vincent Favoral’s situation had been singularly modified.
The revolution of 1848 had just taken place. The factory in the Faubourg St. Antoine, where he was employed, had been compelled to close its doors.
One evening, as he came home at the usual hour, he announced that he had been discharged.
Mme. Favoral shuddered at the thought of what her husband might be, without work, and deprived of his salary.
“What is to become of us?” she murmured.
He shrugged his shoulders. Visibly he was much excited. His cheeks were flushed; his eyes sparkled.
“Bash!” he said: “we shan’t starve for all that.” And, as his wife was gazing at him in astonishment:
“Well,” he went on, “what are you looking at? It is so: I know many a one who affects to live on his income, and who are not as well off as we are.”
It was, for over six years since he was married, the first time that he spoke of his business otherwise than to groan and complain, to accuse fate, and curse the high price of living. The very day before, he had declared himself ruined by the purchase of a pair of shoes for Maxence. The change was so sudden and so great, that she hardly knew what to think, and wondered if grief at the loss of his situation had not somewhat disturbed his mind.
“Such are women,” he went on with a giggle. “Results astonish them, because they know nothing of the means used to bring them about. Am I a fool, then? Would I impose upon myself privations of all sorts, if it were to accomplish nothing? Parbleu! I love fine living too, I do, and good dinners at the restaurant, and the theatre, and the nice little excursions in the country. But I want to be rich. At the price of all the comforts which I have not had, I have saved a capital, the income of which will support us all. Eh, eh! That’s the power of the little penny put out to fatten!”
As she went to bed that night, Mme. Favoral felt more happy than she had done since her mother’s death. She almost forgave her husband his sordid parsimony, and the humiliations he had heaped upon her.
“Well, be it so,” she thought. “I shall have lived miserably, I shall have endured nameless sufferings; but my children shall be rich, their life shall be easy and pleasant.”
The next day M. Favoral’s excitement had completely abated. Manifestly he regretted his confidences.
“You must not think on that account that you can waste and pillage every thing,” he declared rudely. “Besides, I have greatly exaggerated.”
And he started in search of a situation.
To find one was likely to be difficult. Times of revolution are not exactly propitious to industry. Whilst the parties discussed in the Chamber, there were on the street twenty thousand clerks, who, every morning as they rose, wondered where they would dine that day.