At these words he drew from his note-book two letters, which he unfolded.
“Is there much more?” demanded Camille. “I fear that I shall become short of funds, and be obliged to go back for more.”
“Ah! these two letters, I will not part with them for a trifle, the second especially. It is only twelve lines in length; but what pretty English handwriting! Only see! and the style is loving and tender. I will add that it is signed. Ah! monsieur, Mlle. Moriaz will be charmed to see these scrawls again. Under what obligations she will be to you! You will make the most of it; you will tell her that you wrested them from me, your dagger at my throat—that you terrified me. With what a gracious smile she will reward your heroism! According to my opinion, that smile is as well worth ten thousand francs as the medallion—the two gems are of equal value.”
“If you want more, it makes no difference.”
“No, monsieur; I have told you I have only one price.”
“At this rate, it is twenty-five thousand francs that I owe you. You have nothing more to sell me?”
“Alas! that is all.”
“Will you swear it?”
“What, monsieur! you admit, then, that Samuel Brohl has a word of honour—that when he has sworn, he can be believed?”
“You are right; I am still very young.”
“That is all, then, I swear to you,” affirmed Samuel, sighing. “My shop is poorly stocked; I had begun laying in a supply, but an unfortunate accident deranged my little business.”
“Bah! be consoled,” replied M. Langis; “you will find another opportunity; a genius of such lofty flights as yours never is at a loss. You have been unfortunate; some day Fortune will compensate you for the wrongs she has done you, and the world will accord justice to your fine talents.”
Speaking thus, he laid on the table twenty-five notes of a thousand francs each. He counted them; Samuel counted them after him, and at once delivered to him the medallion, the hood, and the two letters.
Camille rose to leave. “Monsieur Brohl,” he said, “from the first day I saw you, I formed the highest opinion of your character. The reality surpasses my expectations. I am charmed to have made your acquaintance, and I venture to hope that you are not sorry to have made mine. However, I shall not say, au revoir.”
“Who knows?” replied Samuel, suddenly changing his countenance and attitude. And he added, “If you are fond of being astonished, monsieur, will you remain still another instant in this den?”
He rolled and twisted the twenty-five one-thousand-franc notes into lamp-lighters; then, with a grand gesture, a la Poniatowski, he approached the candle, held them in the flame until they blazed, and then threw them on the hearth, where they were soon consumed.
Turning towards M. Langis, he cried, “Will you now do me the honour of fighting with me?”