“I hear it is a poor young girl, a hunchback, that has fallen from exhaustion.”
“A hunchback! is that all? There will always be enough hunchbacks,” said the lounger, brutally, with a coarse laugh.
“Hunchback or not, if she dies of hunger,” answered the young man, scarcely able to restrain his indignation, “it will be no less sad—and there is really nothing to laugh at, sir.”
“Die of hunger! pooh!” said the lounger, shrugging his shoulders. “It is only lazy scoundrels, that will not work, who die of hunger. And it serves them right.”
“I wager, sir, there is one death you will never die of,” cried the young man, incensed at the cruel insolence of the lounger.
“What do you mean?” answered the other, haughtily.
“I mean, sir, that your heart is not likely to kill you.”
“Sir!” cried the lounger in an angry tone.
“Well! what, sir?” replied the young man, looking full in his face.
“Nothing,” said the lounger, turning abruptly on his heel, and grumbling as he sauntered towards an orange-colored cabriolet, on which was emblazoned an enormous coat-of-arms, surmounted by a baron’s crest. A servant in green livery, ridiculously laced with gold, was standing beside the horse, and did not perceive his master.
“Are you catching flies, fool?” said the latter, pushing him with his cane. The servant turned round in confusion. “Sir,” said he.
“Will you never learn to call me Monsieur le Baron, rascal?” cried his master, in a rage—“Open the door directly!”
The lounger was Baron Tripeaud, the manufacturing baron the stock-jobber. The poor hunchback was Mother Bunch, who had, indeed fallen with hunger and fatigue, whilst on her way to Mdlle. de Cardoville’s. The unfortunate creature had found courage to brave the shame of the ridicule she so much feared, by returning to that house from which she was a voluntary exile; but this time, it was not for herself, but for her sister Cephyse—the Bacchanal Queen, who had returned to Paris the previous day, and whom Mother Bunch now sought, through the means of Adrienne, to rescue from a most dreadful fate.
Two hours after these different scenes, an enormous crowd pressed round the doors of the Porte-Saint-Martin, to witness the exercises of Morok, who was about to perform a mock combat with the famous black panther of Java, named Death. Adrienne, accompanied by Lord and Lady de Morinval, now stepped from a carriage at the entrance of the theatre. They were to be joined in the course of the evening by M. de Montbron, whom they had dropped, in passing, at his club.