“You are not in earnest,” muttered the banker.
“Much more so than you think. Only you know we live in the nineteenth century, and we cannot make Providence interpose in the form of a dagger or poison so easily as in former days. Arsenic and verdigris are sometimes used, but it does not answer. Scientific people have had the meanness to invent tests by which poison can be detected even when there is none.”
“You are making fun of me,” said Cayrol, laughing.
“I! No. Come, do you wish to do a good stroke of business? Find a man who will consent to rid Madame Desvarennes of her son-in-law. If he succeed, ask Madame Desvarennes for a million francs. I will pay it at only twenty-five francs’ discount, if you like!”
Cayrol was thoughtful. Marechal continued:
“You have known the house a long time, how is it you don’t understand the mistress better? I tell you, and remember this: between Madame Desvarennes and the Prince there is a mortal hatred. One of the two will destroy the other. Which? Betting is open.”
“But what must I do? The Prince relies on me—”
“Go and tell him not to do so any longer.”
“Faith, no! I would rather he came to my office. I should be more at ease. Adieu, Marechal.”
“Adieu, Monsieur Cayrol. But on whom will you bet?”
“Before I venture I should like to know on whose side the Princess is.”
“Ah, dangler! You think too much of the women! Some day you will be let in through that failing of yours!”
Cayrol smiled conceitedly, and went away. Marechal sat down at his desk, and took out a sheet of paper.
“I must tell Pierre that everything is going on well here,” he murmured. “If he knew what was taking place he would soon be back, and might be guilty of some foolery or other.” So he commenced writing.
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Because they moved,
they thought they were progressing
Everywhere was feverish excitement, dissipation, and nullity
It was a relief when they rose from the table
Money troubles are not mortal
One amuses one’s self at the risk of dying
Scarcely was one scheme launched when another idea occurred
Talk with me sometimes. You will not chatter trivialities
They had only one aim, one passion—to enjoy themselves
Without a care or a cross, he grew weary like a prisoner
By GEORGES OHNET
THE UNIVERSAL CREDIT COMPANY