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"So it is. The question is now, How much would a first-class dinnercost, the best of every thing?""That depends upon the number of guests.""Say three or four persons."The poor woman set herself to figuring diligently for some time;and then timidly, for the sum seemed formidable to her:

"I think," she began, "that with a hundred francs "Her husband commenced whistling.

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"You'll need that for the wines alone;' he interrupted. "Do youtake me for a fool? But here, don't let us go into figures. Do asyour parents did when they did their best; and, if it's well, Ishall not complain of the expense. Take a good cook, hire a waiterwho understands his business well."She was utterly confounded; and yet she was not at the end of hersurprises.

Soon M. Favoral declared that their table-ware was not suitable, andthat he must buy a new set. He discovered a hundred purchases tobe made, and swore that he would make them. He even hesitated amoment about renewing the parlor furniture, although it was intolerably good condition still, and was a present from hisfather-in-law.

And, having finished his inventory:

"And you," he asked his wife: "what dress will you wear?""I have my black silk dress -"He stopped her.

"Which means that you have none at all," he said. "Very well. Youmust go this very day and get yourself one, - a very handsome, amagnificent one; and you'll send it to be made to a fashionabledressmaker. And at the same time you had better get some littlesuits for Maxence and Gilberte. Here are a thousand francs."Completely bewildered:

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"Who in the world are you going to invite, then?" she asked.

"The Baron and the Baroness de Thaller," he replied with an emphasisfull of conviction. "So try and distinguish yourself. Our fortuneis at stake."That this dinner was a matter of considerable import, Mme. Favoralcould not doubt when she saw her husband's fabulous liberalitycontinue without flinching for a number of days.

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Ten times of an afternoon he would come home to tell his wife thename of some dish that had been mentioned before him, or to consulther on the subject of some exotic viand he had just noticed in someshop-window. Daily he brought home wines of the most fantasticvintages, - those wines which dealers manufacture for the specialuse of verdant fools, and which they sell in odd-shaped bottlespreviously overlaid with secular dust and cobwebs.

He subjected to a protracted cross-examination the cook whom Mme.

Favoral had engaged, and demanded that she should enumerate thehouses where she had cooked. He absolutely required the man who wasto wait at the table to exhibit the dress-coat he was to wear.

The great day having come, he did not stir from the house, goingand coming from the kitchen to the dining-room, uneasy, agitated,unable to stay in one place. He breathed only when he had seen thetable set and loaded with the new china he had purchased and themagnificent silver he had gone to hire in person. And when hisyoung wife made her appearance, looking lovely in her new dress,and leading by the hands the two children, Maxence and Gilberte, intheir new suits:

"That's perfect," he exclaimed, highly delighted. "Nothing could bebetter. Now, let our four guests come!

They arrived a few minutes before seven, in two carriages, themagnificence of which astonished the Rue St. Gilles.

And, the presentations over, Vincent Favoral had at last theineffable satisfaction to see seated at his table the Baron andBaroness de Thaller, M. Saint Pavin, who called himself a financialeditor, and M. Jules Jottras, of the house of Jottras & Brother.

It was with an eager curiosity that Mme. Favoral observed thesepeople whom her husband called his friends, and whom she saw herselffor the first time.