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"That is just what your creditors wished," he pursued. "Theythought I would be afraid of a row, and that I would 'come down.'

It is a system of blackmailing, like any other. An account isopened to some young rascal; and, when the amount is reasonablylarge, they take it to the family, saying, 'Money, or I make row.'

Do you think it is to you, who are penniless, that they give credit?

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It's on my pocket that they were drawing, - on my pocket, becausethey believed me rich. They sold you at exorbitant prices everything they wished; and they relied on me to pay for trousers atninety francs, shirts at forty francs, and watches at six hundredfrancs."Contrary to his habit, Maxence did not offer any denial.

"I expect to pay all I owe," he said.

"You!""I give my word I will!""And with what, pray?""With my salary.""You have a salary, then?"Maxence blushed.

"I have what I earn at my employer's.""What employer?""The architect in whose office M. Chapelain helped me to find aplace."With a threatening gesture, M. Favoral interrupted him.

"Spare me your lies," he uttered. "I am better posted than yousuppose. I know, that, over a month ago, your employer, tired ofyour idleness, dismissed you in disgrace."Disgrace was superfluous. The fact was, that Maxence, returningto work after an absence of five days, had found another in hisplace.

"I shall find another place," he said.

M. Favoral shrugged his shoulders with a movement of rage.

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"And in the mean time," he said, "I shall have to pay. Do you knowwhat your creditors threaten to do? - to commence a suit against me.

They would lose it, of course, they know it; but they hope that Iwould yield before a scandal. And this is not all: they talk ofentering a criminal complaint. They pretend that you haveaudaciously swindled them; that the articles you purchased of themwere not at all for your own use, but that you sold them as fast asyou got them, at any price you could obtain, to raise ready money.

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The jeweler has proofs, he says, that you went straight from hisshop to the pawnbroker's, and pledged a watch and chain which hehad just sold you. It is a police matter. They said all that inpresence of my superior officer - in presence of M. de Thaller. Ihad to get the janitor to put them out. But, after they had left,M. de Thaller gave me to understand that he wished me very much tosettle everything. And he is right. My consideration could notresist another such scene. What confidence can be placed in acashier whose son behaves in this manner? How can a key of a safecontaining millions be left with a man whose son would have beendragged into the police-courts? In a word, I am at your mercy.

In a word, my honor, my position, my fortune, rest upon you. Asoften as it may please you to make debts, you can make them, andI shall be compelled to pay."Gathering all his courage:

"You have been sometimes very harsh with me, father," commencedMaxence; "and yet I will not try to justify my conduct. I swear toyou, that hereafter you shall have nothing to fear from me.""I fear nothing," uttered M. Favoral with a sinister smile. "Iknow the means of placing myself beyond the reach of your follies- and I shall use them.""I assure you, father, that I have taken a firm resolution.""Oh! you may dispense with your periodical repentance."Mlle. Gilberte stepped forward.

"I'll stand warrant," she said, "for Maxence's resolutions."Her father did not permit her to proceed.

"Enough," he interrupted somewhat harshly. "Mind your own business,Gilberte! I have to speak to you too.""To me, father.""Yes."He walked up and down three or four times through the parlor, as ifto calm his irritation. Then planting himself straight before hisdaughter, his arms folded across his breast: