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Being double, the house was much more spacious than could havebeen thought from the street, and arranged with that science ofcomfort which is the genius of modern architects.

The most lavish luxury was displayed on all sides; not that solid,quiet, and harmonious luxury which is the result of long years ofopulence, but the coarse, loud, and superficial luxury of theparvenu, who is eager to enjoy quick, and to possess all that hehas craved from others.

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The vestibule was a folly, with its exotic plants climbing alongcrystal trellises, and its Sevres and China jardinieres filled withgigantic azaleas. And along the gilt railing of the stairs marbleand bronze statuary was intermingled with masses of growing flowers.

"It must take twenty thousand francs a year to keep up thisconservatory alone," thought M. de Tregars.

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Meantime the old chambermaid opened a satinwood door with silverlock.

"That's the parlor," she said. "Take a seat whilst I go and tellmadame."In this parlor everything had been combined to dazzle. Furniture,carpets, hangings, every thing, was rich, too rich, furiously,incontestably, obviously rich. The chandelier was a masterpiece,the clock an original and, unique piece of work. The pictureshanging upon the wall were all signed with the most famous names.

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"To judge of the rest by what I have seen," thought M. de Tregars,"there must have been at least four or five hundred thousand francsspent on this house."And, although he was shocked by a quantity of details which betrayedthe most absolute lack of taste, he could hardly persuade himselfthat the cashier of the Mutual Credit could be the master of thissumptuous dwelling; and he was asking himself whether he had notfollowed the wrong scent, when a circumstance came to put an end toall his doubts.

Upon the mantlepiece, in a small velvet frame, was Vincent Favoral'sportrait.

M. de Tregars had been seated for a few minutes, and was collectinghis somewhat scattered thoughts, when a slight grating sound, anda rustling noise, made him turn around.

Mme. Zelie Cadelle was coming in.

She was a woman of some twenty-five or six, rather tall, lithe, andwell made. Her face was pale and worn; and her heavy dark hair wasscattered over her neck and shoulders. She looked at once sarcasticand good-natured, impudent and naive, with her sparkling eyes, herturned-up nose, and wide mouth furnished with teeth, sound and white,like those of a young dog. She had wasted no time upon her dress;for she wore a plain blue cashmere wrapper, fastened at the waistwith a sort of silk scarf of similar color.

From the very threshold,"Dear me!" she exclaimed, "how very singular!"M. de Tregars stepped forward.

"What?" he inquired.

"Oh, nothing!" she replied, - "nothing at all!"And without ceasing to look at him with a wondering eye, butsuddenly changing her tone of voice,"And so, sir," she said, "my servants have been unable to keep youfrom forcing yourself into my house!""I hope, madame," said M. de Tregars with a polite bow, "that youwill excuse my persistence. I come for a matter which can sufferno delay."She was still looking at him obstinately. "Who are you?" she asked.

"My name will not afford you any information. I am the Marquis deTregars.""Tregars!" she repeated, looking up at the ceiling, as if in searchof an inspiration. "Tregars! Never heard of it!"And throwing herself into an 'arm chair,"Well, sir, what do you wish with me, then? Speak!"He had taken a seat near her, and kept his eyes riveted upon hers.

"I have come, madame," he replied, "to ask you to put me in the wayto see and speak to the man whose photograph is there on themantlepiece."He expected to take her by surprise, and that by a shudder, a cry,a gesture, she might betray her secret. Not at all.