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"Well, you are too late.""Why?""Because M. Vincent put off more than twenty-four hours since?""Are you sure of that?""As sure as a person can be who went to the railway stationyesterday with him and all his baggage.""You saw him leave?""As I see you.""Where was he going?""To Havre, to take the steamer for Brazil, which was to sail on thesame day; so that, by this time, he must be awfully seasick.""And you really think that it was his intention to go to Brazil?""He said so. It was written on his thirty-six trunks in lettershalf a foot high. Besides, he showed me his ticket.""Have you any idea what could have induced him to expatriate himselfthus, at his age?""He told me he had spent all his money, and also some of otherpeople's; that he was afraid of being arrested; and that he wasgoing yonder to be quiet, and try to make another fortune."Was Mme. Zelie speaking in good faith? To ask the question wouldhave been rather naive; but an effort might be made to find out.

Carefully concealing his own impressions, and the importance heattached to this conversation,"I pity you sincerely, madame," resumed M. de Tregars; "for you mustbe sorely grieved by this sudden departure.""Me!" she said in a voice that came from the heart. "I don't carea straw."Marquis de Tregars knew well enough the ladies of the class to whichhe supposed that Mme. Zelie Cadelle must belong, not to be surprisedat this frank declaration.

"And yet," he said, "you are indebted to him for the princelymagnificence that surrounds you here.""Of course.""He being gone, as you say, will you be able to keep up your styleof living?"Half raising herself from her seat,"I haven't the slightest idea of doing so," she exclaimed." Neverin the whole world have I had such a stupid time as for the lastfive months that I have spent in this gilded cage. What a bore,my beloved brethren! I am yawning still at the mere thought of thenumber of times I have yawned in it."M. de Tregars' gesture of surprise was the more natural, that hissurprise was immense.

"You are tired being here?" he said.

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"To death.""And you have only been here five months?""Dear me; yes! and by the merest chance, too, you'll see. One dayat the beginning of last December, I was coming from - but no matterwhere I was coming from. At any rate, I hadn't a cent in my pocket,and nothing but an old calico dress on my back; and I was goingalong, not in the best of humor, as you may imagine, when I feelthat some one is following me. Without looking around, and fromthe corner of my eye, if look over my shoulder, and I see arespectable-looking old gentleman, wearing a long frock-coat.""M.Vincent?""In his own natural person, and who was walking, walking. I quietlybegin to walk slower; and, as soon as we come to a place where therewas hardly any one, he comes up alongside of me."Something comical must have happened at this moment, which Mme.

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Zelie Cadelle said nothing about; for she was laughing most heartily,- a frank and sonorous laughter.

"Then," she resumed, "he begins at once to explain that I remindhim of a person whom he loved tenderly, and whom he has just hadthe misfortune to lose, adding, that he would deem himself thehappiest of men if I would allow him to take care of me, and insureme a brilliant position.""You see! That rascally Vincent!" said M. de Tregars, just to besaying something.

Mme. Zelie shook her head.

"You know him," she resumed. "He is not young; he is not handsome;he is not funny. I did not fancy him one bit; and, if I had onlyknown where to find shelter for the night, I'd soon have sent himto the old Nick, - him and his brilliant position. But, not havingenough money to buy myself a penny-loaf, it wasn't the time to puton any airs. So I tell him that I accept. He goes for a cab; weget into it; and he brings me right straight here."Positively M. de Tregars required his entire self-control to concealthe intensity of his curiosity.

"Was this house, then, already as it is now?" he interrogated.

"Precisely, except that there were no servants in it, except thechambermaid Amanda, who is M. Favoral's confidante. All the othershad been dismissed; and it was a hostler from a stable near by whocame to take care of the horses.""And what then?""Then you may imagine what I looked like in the midst of all thismagnificence, with my old shoes and my fourpenny skirt. Somethinglike a grease-spot on a satin dress. M. Vincent seemed delighted,nevertheless. He had sent Amanda out to get me some under-clothingand a ready-made wrapper; and, whilst waiting, he took me allthrough the house, from the cellar to the garret, saying thateverything was at my command, and that the next day I would have abattalion of servants to wait on me."It was evidently with perfect frankness that she was speaking, andwith the pleasure one feels in telling an extraordinary adventure.

But suddenly she stopped short, as if discovering that she wasforgetting herself, and going farther than was proper.

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And it was only after a moment of reflection that she went on,"It was like fairyland to me. I had never tasted the opulence ofthe great, you see, and I had never had any money except that whichI earned. So, during the first days, I did nothing but run up anddown stairs, admiring everything, feeling everything with my ownhands, and looking at myself in the glass to make sure that I wasnot dreaming. I rang the bell just to make the servants come up;I spent hours trying dresses; then I'd have the horses put to thecarriage, and either ride to the bois, or go out shopping. M.

Vincent gave me as much money as I wanted; and it seemed as though Inever spent enough. I shout, I was like a mad woman.

A cloud appeared upon Mme. Zelie's countenance, and, changingsuddenly her tone and her manner,"Unfortunately," she went on, "one gets tired of every thing. Atthe end of two weeks I knew the house from top to bottom, and aftera month I was sick of the whole thing; so that one night I begandressing.

"'Where do you want to go?' Amanda asked me.