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It had lacked neither capital nor powerful patronage at the start,and had been at once admitted to the honor of being quoted at thebourse.

Beginning business ostensibly as an accommodation bank formanufacturers and merchants, the Mutual Credit had had, for a numberof years, a well-determined specialty.

But gradually it had enlarged the circle of its operations, alteredits by-laws, changed its board of directors; and at the end theoriginal subscribers would have been not a little embarrassed totell what was the nature of its business, and from what sources itdrew its profits.

All they knew was, that it always paid respectable dividends; thattheir manager, M. de Thaller, was personally very rich; and thatthey were willing to trust him to steer clear of the code.

There were some, of course, who did not view things in quite sofavorable a light; who suggested that the dividends were suspiciouslylarge; that M. de Thaller spent too much money on his house, hiswife, his daughter, and his mistress.

One thing is certain, that the shares of the Mutual Credit Societywere much above par, and were quoted at 580 francs on that Saturday,when, after the closing of the bourse, the rumor had spread thatthe cashier. Vincent Favoral, had run off with twelve millions.

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"What a haul!" thought, not without a feeling of envy, more thanone broker, who, for merely one-twelfth of that amount would havegayly crossed the frontier. It was almost an event in Paris.

Although such adventures are frequent enough, and not taken muchnotice of, in the present instance, the magnitude of the amountmore than made up for the vulgarity of the act.

Favoral was generally pronounced a very smart man; and some personsdeclared, that to take twelve millions could hardly be calledstealing.

The first question asked was,"Is Thaller in the operation? Was he in collusion with his cashier?""That's the whole question.""If he was, then the Mutual Credit is better off than ever:

otherwise, it is gone under.""Thaller is pretty smart.""That Favoral was perhaps more so still."This uncertainty kept up the price for about half an hour. But soonthe most disastrous news began to spread, brought, no one knewwhence or by whom; and there was an irresistible panic.

From 425, at which price it had maintained itself for a time, theMutual Credit fell suddenly to 300, then 200, and finally to 150francs.

Some friends of M. de Thaller, M. Costeclar, for instance, hadendeavored to keep up the market; but they had soon recognized thefutility of their efforts, and then they had bravely commenceddoing like the rest.

The next day was Sunday. From the early morning, it was reported,with the most circumstantial details, that the Baron de Thallerhad been arrested.

But in the evening this had been contradicted by people who hadgone to the races, and who had met there Mme. de Thaller and herdaughter, more brilliant than ever, very lively, and very talkative.