“You are making a mistake, Francis. You are in funds just now. You ought to take advantage of the occasion to restore that money to the Treasury.”
“What will you have?” replied M. Francis with a despondent air. “Play is devouring us.”
“Yes, I know it well. But take care. We shall not always be there. We may die, fall from power. Then you will be asked for accounts by the people down yonder. And it will be a terrible business.”
I had often heard whispered the story of a forced loan of two hundred thousand francs which the marquis was reputed to have secured from the State at the time when he was Receiver-General; but the testimony of his valet de chambre was worse than all. Ah! if masters had any suspicion of how much servants know, of all the stories that are told in the servants’ hall, if they could see their names dragged among the sweepings of the house and the refuse of the kitchen, they would never again dare to say even “shut the door” or “harness the horses.” Why, for instance, take Dr. Jenkins, with the most valuable practice in Paris, ten years of life in common with a magnificent woman, who is sought after everywhere; it is in vain that he has done everything to dissimulate his position, announced his marriage in the newspapers after the English fashion, admitted to his house only foreign servants knowing hardly three words of French. In those three words, seasoned with vulgar oaths and blows of his fist on the table, his coachman Joey, who hates him, told us his whole history during supper.
“She is going to kick the bucket, his Irish wife, the real one. Remains to be seen now whether he will marry the other. Forty-five, she is, Mrs. Maranne, and not a shilling. You should see how afraid she is of being left in the lurch. Whether he marries her or whether he does not marry her—kss, kss—we shall have a good laugh.”
And the more drink he was given, the more he told us about her, speaking of his unfortunate mistress as though she were the lowest of the low. For my own part, I confess that she interested me, this false Mme. Jenkins, who goes about weeping in every corner, implores her lover as though he were the executioner, and runs the chance of being thrown overboard altogether, when all society believes her to be married, respectable, and established in life. The others only laughed over the story, the women especially. Dame! it is amusing when one is in service to see that the ladies of the upper ten have their troubles also and torments that keep them awake at night.
Our festal board at this stage presented the most lively aspect, a circle of gay faces stretched towards this Irishman whose story was adjudged to have won the prize. The fact excited envy; the rest sought and hunted through their memories for whatever they might hold in the way of old scandals, adventures of deceived husbands, of those intimate privacies which are emptied on the kitchen-table along with the