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They were there, at least a hundred, huddled together in thevestibule, on the stairs, and on the first landing, a prey to themost painful emotion and the most violent excitement; for they hadbeen refused admittance.

To all those who insisted upon going in, a tall servant in livery,standing before the door, replied invariably, "The office is notopen, M. de Thaller has not yet come."Whereupon they uttered such terrible threats and such loudimprecations, that the frightened concierge had run, and hid himselfat the very bottom of his lodge.

No one can imagine to what epileptic contortions the loss of moneycan drive an assemblage of men, who has not seen a meeting ofshareholders on the morrow of a great disaster, with their clinchedfists, their convulsed faces, their glaring eyes, and foaming lips.

They felt indignant at what had once been their delight. They laidthe blame of their ruin upon the splendor of the house, thesumptuousness of the stairs, the candelabras of the vestibule, thecarpets, the chairs every thing.

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" And it is our money too," they cried, "that has paid for all that!"Standing upon a bench, a little short man was exciting transportsof indignation by describing the magnificence of the Baron deThaller's residence, where he had once had some dealings.

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He had counted five carriages in the carriage-house, fifteen horsesin the stables, and Heaven knows how many servants.

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He had never been inside the apartments, but he had visited thekitchen; and he declared that he had been dazzled by the numberand brightness of the saucepans, ranged in order of size overthe furnace.

Gathered in a group under the vestibule, the most sensible deploredtheir rash confidence.

"That's the way," concluded one, "with all these adventurous affairs.""That's a fact. There's nothing, after all, like government bonds.""Or a first mortgage on good property, with subrogation of the wife'srights."But what exasperated them, all was not to be admitted to the presenceof M. de Thaller, and to see that servant mounting guard beforethe door.

"What impudence," they growled, "to leave us on the stairs! - we whoare the masters, after all.""Who knows where M. de Thaller may be?""He is hiding, of course.""No matter: I will see him," clamored a big fat man, with abrick-colored face, "if I shouldn't stir from here for a week.""You'll see nothing at all," giggled his neighbor. "Do you supposethey don't have back-stairs and private entrances in this infernalshop?""Ah! if I believed any thing of the kind," exclaimed the big manin a voice trembling with passion. "I'd soon break in some of thesedoors: it isn't so hard, after all."Already he was gazing at the servant with an alarming air, when anold gentleman with a discreet look, stepped up to him, and inquired,"Excuse me, sir: how many shares have you?""Three," answered the man with the brick-colored face.

The other sighed.

"I have two hundred and fifty," he said. "That's why, being atleast as interested as yourself in not losing every thing, I beg ofyou to indulge in no violent proceedings."There was no need of further speaking.

The door which the servant was guarding flew open. A clerk appeared,and made sign that he wished to speak.