“You know, pere Passajon,” said he to me between two mouthfuls, “I know where he is. I have seen him.”
He winked his eye knowingly. I looked at him in wonder. “Who is it you have seen, M. Francis?”
“The marquis, my master—over there in the little white house behind Notre-Dame.” (He did not use the word morgue, it is too low.) “I was sure I should find him there. I went there first thing next morning. There he was. Oh, well disguised, I tell you. Only his valet could recognise him. The hair gray, the teeth gone, the wrinkles showing his sixty-five years, which he used to hide so well. On the marble slab, with the tap running above, I seemed to see him at his dressing-table.”
“And you said nothing?”
“No. I knew his intentions on the subject for long. I let him go away discreetly, without awakening attention, as he wished. But, all the same, he might have given me a crust of bread before he went, after a service of twenty years.”
And on a sudden, striking the table with his fist with rage:
“When I think that if I had liked I might have been with Mora, instead of going to Monpavon, that I might have had Louis’s place. What luck he has had! How many bags of gold he laid his hands on when his duke died! And the wardrobe—hundreds of shirts, a dressing-gown of blue fox fur worth more than twenty thousand francs. Like Noel, too, he must have made his pile! He had to hurry, too, for he knew that it would stop soon. Now there is nothing to be got in the Place Vendome. An old policeman of a mother who manages everything. Saint-Romans is to be sold, the pictures are to be sold, half the house to be let. It is a real break-up.”
I must confess that I could not help showing my satisfaction, for this wretched Jansoulet is the cause of all our misfortunes. A man who boasted of being so rich, who said so everywhere. The public bit at it like a fish who sees the scales shine through the net. He has lost millions, I admit, but why did he make us believe he had more? They have arrested Bois l’Hery; they should have arrested him. Ah! if we had had another expert, I am sure it would have been done. Besides, as I said to Francis, you had only to look at this upstart of a Jansoulet to see what he was worth. What a head—like a bandit!
“And so common,” said the ex-valet.