“Six physicians! impossible! And the composition?” cried Pittrino.
“That is your business — but so it shall be — I insist upon it — it must be so — my macaroni is burning.”
This reasoning was peremptory — Pittrino obeyed. He composed the sign of six physicians, with the legend; the echevin applauded and authorized it.
The sign produced an extravagant success in the city, which proves that poetry has always been in the wrong, before citizens, as Pittrino said.
Cropole, to make amends to his painter-in-ordinary, hung up the nymphs of the preceding sign in his bedroom, which made Madame Cropole blush every time she looked at it, when she was undressing at night.
This is the way in which the pointed-gable house got a sign; and this is how the hostelry of the Medici, making a fortune, was found to be enlarged by a quarter, as we have described. And this is how there was at Blois a hostelry of that name, and had for a painter-in-ordinary Master Pittrino.
Thus founded and recommended by its sign, the hostelry of Master Cropole held its way steadily on towards a solid prosperity.
It was not an immense fortune that Cropole had in perspective; but he might hope to double the thousand louis d’or left by his father, to make another thousand louis by the sale of his house and stock, and at length to live happily like a retired citizen.
Cropole was anxious for gain, and was half-crazy with joy at the news of the arrival of Louis XIV.
Himself, his wife, Pittrino, and two cooks, immediately laid hands upon all the inhabitants of the dove-cote, the poultry-yard, and the rabbit-hutches; so that as many lamentations and cries resounded in the yards of the hostelry of the Medici as were formerly heard in Rama.
Cropole had, at the time, but one single traveler in his house.
This was a man of scarcely thirty years of age, handsome, tall, austere, or rather melancholy, in all his gestures and looks.
He was dressed in black velvet with jet trimmings; a white collar, as plain as that of the severest Puritan, set off the whiteness of his youthful neck; a small dark-colored mustache scarcely covered his curled, disdainful lip.
He spoke to people looking them full in the face, without affectation, it is true, but without scruple; so that the brilliancy of his black eyes became so insupportable, that more than one look had sunk beneath his, like the weaker sword in a single combat.
At this time, in which men, all created equal by God, were divided, thanks to prejudices, into two distinct castes, the gentlemen and the commoner, as they are really divided into two races, the black and the white, — at this time, we say, he whose portrait we have just sketched could not fail of being taken for a gentleman, and of the best class. To ascertain this, there was no necessity to consult anything but his hands, long, slender, and white, of which every muscle, every vein, became apparent through the skin at the least movement, and eloquently spoke of good descent.