N221Yb

N221Yb

"I was passing before a small restaurant. I went in; for I wasvery hungry, having, so to speak, eaten nothing for several dayspast. Besides, I felt anxious to count my treasure. The Baron deThaller had given me nine hundred and thirty francs.

"This sum, which exceeded the utmost limits of my ambition, seemedinexhaustible to me: I was dazzled by its possession.

"'And yet,' I thought, 'had M. de Thaller happened to have tenthousand francs in his pockets he would have given them to me allthe same.'

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"I was at a loss to explain this strange generosity. Why hissurprise when he first saw me, then his anger, and his haste to getrid of me? How was it that a man whose mind must be filled withthe gravest cares had so distinctly remembered me, and the letterI had written to his wife? Why, after showing himself so generous,had he so strictly excluded me from his house?

"After vainly trying for some time to solve this riddle, I concludedthat I must be the victim of my own imagination; and I turned myattention to making the best possible use of my sudden fortune. Onthe same day, I took a little room in the Faubourg St. Denis; andI bought myself a sewing-machine. Before the week was over, I hadwork before me for several months. Ah! this time it seemed indeedthat I had nothing more to apprehend from destiny; and I lookedforward, without fear, to the future. At the end of a month, I wasearning four to five francs a day, when, one afternoon, a stout man,very well dressed, looking honest and good-natured, and speakingFrench with some difficulty, made his appearance at my room. Hewas an American he stated, and had been sent to me by the woman forwhom I worked. Having need of a skilled Parisian work-woman, hecame to propose to me to follow him to New York, where he wouldinsure me a brilliant position.

"But I knew several poor girls, who, on the faith of dazzlingpromises, had expatriated themselves. Once abroad, they had beenshamefully abandoned, and had been driven, to escape starvation,to resort to the vilest expedients. I refused, therefore, andfrankly gave him my reasons for doing so.

"My visitor at once protested indignantly. Whom did I take himfor? It was a fortune that I was refusing. He guaranteed me inNew York board, lodging, and two hundred francs a month. He wouldpay all traveling and moving expenses. And, to prove to me thefairness of his intentions, he was ready, he said, to sign anagreement, and pay me a thousand down.

"These offers were so brilliant, that I was staggered in myresolution.

"Well,' I said, 'give me twenty-four hours to decide. I wish tosee my employer.'

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"He seemed very much annoyed; but, as I remained firm in my purpose,he left, promising to return the next day to receive my final answer.

"I ran at once to my employer. She did not know what I was talkingabout. She had sent no one, and was not acquainted with any American.

"Of course, I never saw him again; and I couldn't help thinking ofthis singular adventure, when, one evening during the followingweek, as I was coming home at about eleven o'clock, two policemenarrested me, and, in spite of my earnest protestations, took meto the station-house, where I was locked up with a dozen unfortunateswho had just been taken up on the Boulevards. I spent the nightcrying with shame and anger; and I don't know what would have becomeof me, if the justice of the peace, who examined me the next morning,had not happened to be a just and kind man. As soon as I hadexplained to him that I was the victim of a most humiliating errorhe sent an agent in quest of information, and having satisfiedhimself that I was an honest girl, working for my living, hedischarged me. But, before permitting me to go,"'Beware, my child,' he said to me: 'it is upon a formal andwell-authenticated declaration that you were arrested. Thereforeyou must have enemies. People have an interest in getting rid ofyou'"Mademoiselle Lucienne was evidently almost exhausted with fatigue:

her voice was failing her. But it was in vain that Maxence beggedher to take a few moments of rest.