He had formed the project of going to Holland and of embarking thence for America. What would he do in the United States? He did not know yet. He passed in review all the professions that at all suited him; they all required an outlay for first expenses. Thanks to God and to M. Guldenthal, whose loan was in the greatest danger, he was not destitute of all supplies. But a week previous he had held into the flames and burned twenty-five one-thousand-franc bills of the Bank of France. He felt some remorse for the act; he could not help thinking that a revenge that cost twenty-five thousand francs was an article of luxury of which poor devils should deprive themselves. In thinking over this adventure, it seemed to him that it was another than himself who had burned those bills, or at least that he had mechanically executed this auto-da-fe through a sort of thoughtless impulse, like a puppet moved by an invisible string. Suddenly the phantom with whom he had had frequent conversations appeared, and there was a sneer on its lips. Samuel addressed it once more—this was to be the last time; he said:
“Imbecile! You are my evil genius. It was you who caused me to commit this extravagance. You yourself lighted the candle, you put the bills into my hands, you guided my arm, extended it, held it above the fatal flame. This act of supreme heroism was your work; it is not I, it is you, who paid so dearly for the pleasure of astonishing one who wantonly insulted me, and of killing him. Cursed forever be the day when I assumed your name, and when I conceived the foolish notion of becoming your second self! I made myself a Pole: did Poland ever have the least idea of government? You of all men were the most incapable of making your way; I aped a poor model indeed. Abel Larinski, I break off all connection with you; I wind up the affairs of our firm, I put the key under the door, or drop it down the well. O my great Pole! I return to you your title, your name, and with your name all that you gave me—your pride, your pretensions, your dangerous delicacy, your attitudes, your sentimental grimaces, and your waving plume.”
It was thus that Samuel Brohl took a decisive farewell of Count Abel Larinski, who might henceforth rest quietly in his grave; there was no further danger of a dead man being compromised by a living one. What name did Samuel Brohl mean now to assume? Out of spite to his destiny, he chose for the time the humblest of all; he decided to call himself Kicks, which was his mother’s name.
His melancholy would have known no bounds, had he suspected that Camille Langis was still in the world. Camille Langis for two weeks lay between life and death, but the ball had finally been successfully extracted. Mme. de Lorcy hastened to Mons and nursed him like a mother; she had the joy of bringing him back alive to Paris.