M. de Traggers was lifting his hand to administer a well-deservedcorrection, when suddenly the scene in the grand parlor of theThaller mansion came back vividly to his mind. He saw again, asin the glass, the ill-looking man listening, with an anxious look,to Mme. de Thaller's propositions, and afterwards sitting down towrite.

"That's it!" he exclaimed, a multitude of circumstances occurringto his mind, which had escaped him at the moment.

And, without further reflection, seizing his adversary by thethroat, he threw him over on the table, holding him down with hisknee.

"I am sure he must have the letter about him," he said to thepeople who surrounded him.

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And in fact he did take from the side-pocket of the villain a letter,which he unfolded, and commenced reading aloud,"I am waiting for you, my dear major, come quick, for the thing ispressing, - a troublesome gentleman who is to be made to keep quiet.

It will be for you the matter of a sword-thrust, and for us theoccasion to divide a round amount.""And, that's why he picked a quarrel with me," added M. de Traggers.

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Two Waiters had taken hold of the villain, who was strugglingfuriously, and wanted to surrender him to the police.

"What's the use?" said Marius. " I have his letter: that's enough.

The police will find him when they want him."And, getting back into his cab,"Rue St. Gilles," he ordered, "and lively, if possible."VIIIIn the Rue St. Giles the hours were dragging, slow and gloomy.

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After Maxence had left to go and meet M. de Tregars, Mme. Favoraland her daughter had remained alone with M. Chapelain, and had beencompelled to bear the brunt of his wrath, and to hear hisinterminable complaints.

He was certainly an excellent man, that old lawyer, and too just tohold Mlle. Gilberte or her mother responsible for Vincent Favoral'sacts. He spoke the truth when he assured them that he had for thema sincere affection, and that they might rely upon his devotion.

But he was losing a hundred and sixty thousand francs; and a manwho loses such a large sum is naturally in bad humor, and not muchdisposed to optimism.

The cruellest enemies of the poor women would not have torturedthem so mercilessly as this devoted friend.

He spared them not one sad detail of that meeting at the MutualCredit office, from which he had just come. He exaggerated theproud assurance of the manager, and the confiding simplicity of thestockholders. "That Baron de Thaller," he said to them, "iscertainly the most impudent scoundrel and the cleverest rascal Ihave ever seen. You'll see that he'll get out of it with cleanhands and full pockets. Whether or hot he has accomplices, Vincentwill be the scapegoat. We must make up our mind to that."His positive intention was to console Mme. Favoral and Gilberte.

Had he sworn to drive them to distraction, he could not havesucceeded better.

"Poor woman!" he said, "what is to become of you? Maxence is agood and honest fellow, I am sure, but so weak, so thoughtless, sofond of pleasure! He finds it difficult enough to get along byhimself. Of what assistance will he be to you?"Then came advice.

Mme. Favoral, he declared, should not hesitate to ask for aseparation, which the tribunal would certainly grant. For wantof this precaution, she would remain all her life under the burdenof her husband's debts, and constantly exposed to the annoyances ofthe creditors.

And always he wound up by saying,"Who could ever have expected such a thing from Vincent, - a friendof twenty years' standing! A hundred and sixty thousand francs!

Who in the world can be trusted hereafter?"Big tears were rolling slowly down Mme. Favoral's withered cheeks.