"Let him present you this young man," she said. "You might likehim."" I am sure I shall not like him."She said this in such a tone, that the light suddenly flashed uponMme. Favoral's mind.

"Heavens!" she murmured. "Gilberte, my darling child, have you thena secret which your mother does not know?"

Yes, Mlle. Gilberte had her secret - a very simple one, though,chaste, like herself, and one of those which, as the old women say,must cause the angels to rejoice.

The spring of that year having been unusually mild, Mlle. Favoraland her daughter had taken the habit of going daily to breathe thefresh air in the Place Royale. They took their work with them,crotchet or knitting; so that this salutary exercise did not in anyway diminish the earnings of the week. It was during these walksthat Mlle. Gilberte had at last noticed a young man, unknown to her,whom she met every day at the same place.

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Tall and robust, he had a grand look, notwithstanding his modestclothes, the exquisite neatness of which betrayed a sort ofrespectable poverty. He wore his full beard; and his proud andintelligent features were lighted up by a pair of large black eyes,of those eyes whose straight and clear look disconcerts hypocritesand knaves.

He never failed, as he passed by Mlle. Gilberte, to look down, orturn his head slightly away; and in spite of this, in spite of theexpression of respect which she had detected upon his face, shecould not help blushing.

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"Which is absurd," she thought; "for after all, what on earth do Icare for that young man?"The infallible instinct, which is the experience of inexperiencedyoung girls, told her that it was not chance alone that broughtthis stranger in her way. But she wished to make sure of it. Shemanaged so well, that each day of the following week, the hour oftheir walk was changed. Sometimes they went out at noon, sometimesafter four o'clock.

But, whatever the hour, Mlle. Gilberte, as she turned the corner ofthe Rue des Minimes, noticed her unknown admirer under the arcades,looking in some shop-window, and watching out of the corner of hiseye. As soon as she appeared, he left his post, and hurried fastenough to meet her at the gate of the Place.

"It is a persecution," thought Mlle. Gilberte.

How, then, had she not spoken of it to her mother? Why had she notsaid any thing to her the day, when, happening, to look out of thewindow, she saw her "persecutor" passing before the house, or,evidently looking in her direction?

"Am I losing my mind?" she thought, seriously irritated againstherself. "I will not think of him any more."And yet she was thinking of him, when one afternoon, as her motherand herself were working, sitting upon a bench, she saw the strangercome and sit down not far from them. He was accompanied by anelderly man with long white mustaches, and wearing the rosetteof the Legion of Honor.

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"This is an insolence," thought the young girl, whilst seeking apretext to ask her mother to change their seats.

But already had the young man and his elderly friend seatedthemselves, and so arranged their chairs, that Mlle. Gilberte couldnot miss a word of what they were about to say. It was the youngman who spoke first.

"You know me as well as I know myself, my dear count," he commenced- "you who were my poor father's best friend, you who dandled meupon your knees when I was a child, and who has never lost sight ofme.""Which is to say, my boy, that I answer for you as for myself," putin the old man. "But go on.""I am twenty-six years old. My name is Yves-Marius-Genost de Tregars.

My family, which is one of the oldest of Brittany, is allied to allthe great families.""Perfectly exact," remarked the old gentleman.

"Unfortunately, my fortune is not on a par with my nobility. Whenmy mother died, in 1856, my father, who worshiped her, could nolonger bear, in the intensity of his grief, to remain at the Chateaude Tregars where he had spent his whole life. He came to Paris,which he could well afford, since we were rich then, butunfortunately, made acquaintances who soon inoculated him with thefever of the age. They proved to him that he was mad to keep landswhich barely yielded him forty thousand francs a year, and which hecould easily sell for two millions; which amount, invested merelyat five per cent, would yield him an income of one hundred thousandfrancs. He therefore sold every thing, except our patrimonialhomestead on the road from Quimper to Audierne, and rushed intospeculations. He was rather lucky at first. But he was too honestand too loyal to be lucky long. An operation in which he becameinterested early in 1869 turned out badly. His associates becamerich; but he, I know not how, was ruined, and came near beingcompromised. He died of grief a month later."The old soldier was nodding his assent.

"Very well, my boy," he said. "But you are too modest; and there'sa circumstance which you neglect. You had a right, when your fatherbecame involved in these troubles, to claim and retain your mother'sfortune; that is, some thirty thousand francs a year. Not only youdid not do so; but you gave up every thing to his creditors. Yousold the domain of Tregars, except the old castle and its park, andpaid over the proceeds to them; so that, if your father did dieruined, at least he did not owe a cent. And yet you knew, as wellas myself, that your father had been deceived and swindled by a lotof scoundrels who drive their carriages now, and who, perhaps, ifthe courts were applied to, might still be made to disgorge theirill-gotten plunder."Her head bent upon her tapestry, Mlle. Gilberte seemed to be workingwith incomparable zeal. The truth is, she knew not how to concealthe blushes on her cheeks, and the trembling of her hands. She hadsomething like a cloud before her eyes; and she drove her needle atrandom. She scarcely preserved enough presence of mind to reply toMme. Favoral, who, not noticing any thing, spoke to her from time totime.

Indeed, the meaning of this scene was too clear to escape her.