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"I am too much the friend of our dear Favoral, madame," he uttered,"not to have heard of you long since, nor to know your merits, andthe fact that he owes to you that peaceful happiness which he enjoys,and which we all envy him."Standing by the mantel-piece, the usual Saturday evening guestsfollowed with the liveliest interest the evolutions of the pretender.

Two of them, M. Chapelain and old Desormeaux, were perfectly ableto appreciate him at his just value; but, in affirming that he madehalf a million a year, M. Favoral had, as it were, thrown over hisshoulders that famous ducal cloak which concealed all deformities.

Without waiting for his wife's answer, M. Favoral brought hisprotege in front of Mlle. Gilberte.

"Dear daughter,"said he, "Monsieur Costeclar, the friend of whomI have spoken."M. Costeclar bowed still lower, and rounded off his shoulders again;but the young lady looked at him from head to foot with such afreezing glance, that his tongue remained as if paralyzed in hismouth, and he could only stammer out:

"Mademoiselle! the honor, the humblest of your admirers."Fortunately Maxence was standing three steps off - he fell hack ingood order upon him, and seizing his hand, which he shook vigorously:

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"I hope, my dear sir, that we shall soon be quite intimate friends.

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Your excellent father, whose special concern you are, has oftenspoken to me of you. Events, so he has confided to me, have nothitherto responded to your expectations. At your age, this is nota very grave natter. People, now-a-days, do not always find at thefirst attempt the road that leads to fortune. You will find yours.

From this time forth I place at your command my influence and myexperience; and, if you will consent to take me for your guide -"Maxence had withdrawn his hand.

"I am very much obliged to you, sir," he answered coldly; "but I amcontent with my lot, and I believe myself old enough to walk alone."Almost any one would have lost countenance. But M. Costeclar wasso little put out, that it seemed as though he had expected justsuch a reception. He turned upon his heels, and advanced towardsM. Favoral's friends with a smile so engaging as to make it evidentthat he was anxious to conquer their suff rages.

This was at the beginning of the month of June, 1870. No one asyet could foresee the frightful disasters which were to mark theend of that fatal year. And yet there was everywhere in Francethat indefinable anxiety which precedes great social convulsions.

The plebiscitum had not succeeded in restoring confidence. Everyday the most alarming rumors were put in circulation and it was witha sort of passion that people went in quest of news.

Now, M. Costeclar was a wonderfully well-posted man. He had,doubtless, on his way, stopped on the Boulevard des Italiens, thatblessed ground where nightly the street-brokers labor for thefinancial prosperity of the country. He had gone through the Passagede l'Opera, which is, as is well known, the best market for the mostcorrect and the most reliable news. Therefore he might safely bebelieved.

Placing his hack to the chimney, he had taken the lead in theconversation; and he was talking, talking, talking. Being a "bull,"he took a favorable view of every thing. He believed in theeternity of the second empire. He sang the praise of the newcabinet: he was ready to pour out his blood for Emile Ollivier.

True, some people complained that business was dull and slow; butthose people, he thought, were merely "bears." Business had neverbeen so brilliant. At no time had prosperity been greater. Capitalwas abundant. The institutions of credit were flourishing.