In speaking thus I had yielded to an impulse of indignation very excusable in the eyes of any person whatever acquainted with my position here. Even so, I had said nothing improper and had confined myself within the limits of language conformable to my age and education. (I must have mentioned somewhere in the course of these memoirs that of the sixty-five years I have lived I passed more than thirty as beadle to the Faculty of Letters in Dijon. Hence my taste for reports and memoirs, and those ideas of academical style of which traces will be found in many passages of this lucubration.) I had, then, expressed myself in the governor’s presence with the most complete reserve, without employing any one of those terms of abuse to which he is treated by everybody here, from our two censors—M. de Monpavon, who, every time he comes, calls him laughingly “Fleur-de-Mazas,” and M. de Bois l’Hery, of the Trumpet Club, coarse as a groom, who, for adieu, always greets him with, “To your bedstead, bug!”—to our cashier, whom I have heard repeat a hundred times, tapping on his big book, “That he has in there enough to send him to the galleys when he pleases.” Ah, well! All the same, my simple observation produced an extraordinary effect upon him. The circles round his eyes became quite yellow, and, trembling with rage, one of those evil rages of his country, he uttered these words: “Passajon, you are a blackguard. One word more, and I discharge you!” Stupor nailed me to the floor when I heard them. Discharge me—me! and my four years’ arrears, and my seven thousand francs of money lent!
As though he could read my thought before it was put into words, the governor replied that all accounts were going to be settled, mine included. “And as to that,” he added, “summon these gentlemen to my private room. I have important news to announce to them.”
Upon that, he went into his office, banging the doors.
That devil of a man! In vain you may know him to the core—know him a liar, a comedian—he manages always to get the better of you with his stories. My account, mine!—mine! I was so affected by the thought that my legs seemed to give way beneath me as I went to inform the staff.
According to the regulations, there are twelve of us employed at the Territorial Bank, including the governor and the handsome Moessard, manager of Financial Truth; but more than half of that number were wanting. To begin with, since Truth ceased to be issued—it is two years since its last appearance—M. Moessard has not once set foot in the place. It seems he moves amid honours and riches, has a queen for his mistress—a real queen—who gives him all the money he desires. Oh, what a Babylon, this Paris! The others come from time to time to learn whether by chance anything new has happened at the bank; and, as nothing ever has, we remain weeks without seeing them. Four or five faithful ones, all poor old