LFO

LFO

Never have the most curious of the neighbors discovered the faceof a tenant. And yet they are occupied; for often, in theafternoon, a curtain is drawn aside, and a shadow is seen to move.

In the evening, lights are noticed within; and sometimes the soundof a cracked old piano is heard.

Above the second story, the mystery ceases. All the upper rooms,the price of which is relatively modest, are occupied by tenantswho may be seen and heard, - clerks like Maxence, shop-girls fromthe neighborhood, a few restaurant-waiters, and sometimes some poordevil of an actor or chorus-singer from the Theatre Dejazet, theCircus, or the Chateau d'Eau. One of the great advantages of theHotel des Folies - and Mme. Fortin, the landlady, never failed topoint it out to the new tenants, an inestimable advantage, shedeclared - was a back entrance on the Rue Beranger.

"And everybody knows," she concluded, "that there is no chance ofbeing caught, when one has the good luck of living in a house thathas two outlets."When Maxence entered the office, a small, dark, and dirty room,the proprietors, M. and Mme. Fortin were just finishing theirbreakfast with an immense bowl of coffee of doubtful color, ofwhich an enormous red cat was taking a share.

"Ah, here is M. Favoral!" they exclaimed.

There was no mistaking their tone. They knew the catastrophe;and the newspaper lying on the table showed how they had heard it.

"Some one called to see you last night," said Mme. Fortin, a largefat woman, whose nose was always besmeared with snuff, and whosehoneyed voice made a marked contrast with her bird-of-prey look.

"Who?""A gentleman of about fifty, tall and thin, with a long overcoat,coming down to his heels."Maxence imagined, from this description, that he recognized his ownfather. And yet it seemed impossible, after what had happened, thathe should dare to show himself on the Boulevard du Temple, whereeverybody knew him, within a step of the Caf Turc, of which hewas one of the oldest customers.

"At what o'clock was he here?" he inquired.

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"I really can't tell," answered the landlady. "I was half asleepat the time; but Fortin can tell us."M. Fortin, who looked about twenty years younger than his wife, wasone of those small men, blonde, with scanty beard, a suspiciousglance, and uneasy smile, such as the Madame Fortins know how, tofind, Heaven knows where.

"The confectioner had just put up his shutters," he replied:

"consequently, it must have been between eleven and a quarter-pasteleven.""And didn't he leave any word?" said Maxence.

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"Nothing, except that he was very sorry not to find you in. And,in fact, he did look quite annoyed. We asked him to leave his name;but he said it wasn't worth while, and that he would call again."At the glance which the landlady was throwing toward him from thecorner of her eyes, Maxence understood that she had on the subjectof that late visitor the same suspicion as himself.

And, as if she had intended to make it more apparent still,"I ought, perhaps, to have given him your key," she said.

"And why so, pray?""Oh! I don't know, an idea of mine, that's all. Besides, Mlle.

Lucienne can probably tell you more about it; for she was therewhen the gentleman came, and I even think that they exchanged afew words in the yard."Maxence, seeing that they were only seeking a pretext to questionhim, took his key, and inquired,"Is - Mlle. Lucienne at home?""Can't tell. She has been going and coming all the morning, andI don't know whether she finally staid in or out. One thing issure, she waited for you last night until after twelve; and shedidn't like it much, I can tell you."Maxence started up the steep stairs; and, as he reached the upperstories, a woman's voice, fresh and beautifully toned, reached hisears more and more distinctly.

She was singing a popular tune, - one of those songs which aremonthly put in circulation by the singing cafes"To hope! 0 charming word,Which, during all life,Husband and children and wifeRepeat in common accord!