MVD

MVD

We are afraid of being caught: we are compelled, reluctantly ofcourse, to alter the books. At last a day comes when we find thatmillions are gone, and the bomb-shell bursts. Does it follow fromthis that a man is dishonest? Not the least in the world: he issimply unlucky."He stopped, as if awaiting an answer; but, as none came, he resumed,"I repeat, I have no fault to find with Favoral. Only then, now,between us, to lose these hundred and twenty thousand francs wouldsimply be a disaster for me. I know very well that both Chapelainand Desormeaux had also deposited funds with Favoral. But they arerich: one of them owns three houses in Paris, and the other has agood situation; whereas I, these hundred and twenty thousand francsgone, I'd have nothing left but my eyes to weep with. My wife isdying about it. I assure you our position is a terrible one."To M. Desciavettes, - as to the baker a few moments before,"We have nothing," said Maxence.

"I know it," exclaimed the old merchant. "I know it as well as youdo yourself. And so I have come to beg a little favor of you, whichwill cost you nothing. When you see Favoral, remember me to him,explain my situation to him, and try to make him give me back mymoney. He is a hard one to fetch, that's a fact. But if you goright about it, above all, if our dear Gilberte will take the matterin hand ""Sir!""Oh! I swear I sha'n't say a word about it, either to Desormeauxor Chapelain, nor to any one else. Although reimbursed, I'll makeas much noise as the rest, - more noise, even. Come, now, my dearfriends, what do you say?"He was almost crying.

"And where the deuse," exclaimed Maxence, "do you expect my fatherto take a hundred and twenty thousand francs? Didn't you see him gowithout even taking the money that M. de Thaller had brought?"A smile appeared upon M. Desclavettes' pale lips.

"That will do very well to say, my dear Maxence;" he said, "andsome people may believe it. But don't say it to your old friend,who knows too much about business for that. When a man, puts off,after borrowing twelve millions from his employers, he would be agreat fool if he had not put away two or three in safety. Now,Favoral is not a fool."Tears of shame and anger started from Mlle. Gilberte's eyes.

"What you are saying is abominable, sir!" she exclaimed.

He seemed much surprised at this outburst of violence.

"Why so?" he answered. "In Vincent's place, I should not havehesitated to do what he has certainly done. And I am an honest mantoo. I was in business for twenty years; and I dare any one toprove that a note signed Desclavettes ever went to protest. Andso, my dear friends, I beseech you, consent to serve your oldfriend, and, when you see your father "The old man's tone of voice exasperated even Mme. Favoral herself.

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"We never expect to see my husband again," she uttered.

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He shrugged his shoulders, and, in a tone of paternal reproach,"You just give up all such ugly ideas," he said. "You will see himagain, that dear Vincent; for he is much too sharp to allow himselfto be caught. Of course, he'll stay away as long as it may benecessary; but, as soon as he can return without danger, he willdo so. The Statute of Limitations has not been invented for theGrand Turk. Why, the Boulevard is crowded with people who have allhad their little difficulty, and who have spent five or ten yearsabroad for their health. Does any one think any thing of it? Notin the least; and no one hesitates to shake hands with them.

Besides, those things are so soon forgotten."He kept on as if he never intended to stop; and it was not withouttrouble that Maxence and Gilberte succeeded in sending him off, verymuch dissatisfied to see his request so ill received. It was aftertwelve o'clock. Maxence was anxious to return to his own home; but,at the pressing instances of his mother, he consented to remain,and threw himself, without undressing, on the bed in his old room.

"What will the morrow bring forth?" he thought.

  After a few hours of that leaden sleep which follows greatcatastrophes, Mme. Favoral and her children were awakened on themorning of the next day, which was Sunday, by the furious clamorsof an exasperated crowd. Each one, from his own room, understoodthat the apartment had just been invaded. Loud blows upon the doorwere mingled with the noise of feet, the oaths of men, and thescreams of women. And, above this confused and continuous tumult,such vociferations as these could be heard:

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"I tell you they must be at home!""Canailles, swindlers, thieves!""We want to go in: we will go in!""Let the woman come, then: we want to see her, to speak to her!"Occasionally there were moments of silence, during which theplaintive voice of the servant could be heard; but almost at oncethe cries and the threats commenced again, louder than ever.

Maxence, being ready first, ran to the parlor, where his mother andsister joined him directly, their eyes swollen by sleep and by tears.

Mme. Favoral was trembling so much that she could not succeed infastening her dress.

"Do you hear?" she said in a choking voice.

From the parlor, which was divided from the dining-room byfolding-doors, they did not miss a single insult.

"Well," said Mlle. Gilberte coldly, "what else could we expect? IfBertan came alone last night, it is because he alone had beennotified. Here are the others now."And, turning to her brother,"You must see them," she added, "speak to them."But Maxence did not stir. The idea of facing the insults and thecurses of these enraged creditors was too repugnant to him.