"Don't go," he declared; "you must come down and take a glass ofMadeira with us, down at the Cascade."And, turning to the editor of "The Pilot":

"Come, now, shut up," he said: "you shall have what you want.""Really?""Upon my word.""I'd rather have two or three lines in black and white.""I'll give them to you to-night.""All right, then! Forward the big guns! Look out for next Sunday'snumber!"Peace being made, the gentlemen continued their walk in the mostfriendly manner, M. Costeclar pointing out to Maxence all thecelebrities who were passing by them in their carriages.

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He had just designated to his attention Mme. and Mlle. de Thaller,accompanied by two gigantic footmen, when, suddenly interruptinghimself, and rising on tiptoe,"Sacre bleu!" he exclaimed: "what a handsome woman!"Without too much affectation, Maxence fell back a step or two. Hefelt himself blushing to his very ears, and trembled lest his suddenemotion were noticed, and he were questioned; for it was Mlle.

Lucienne who thus excited M. Costeclar's noisy enthusiasm. Oncealready she had been around the lake; and she was continuingher circular drive.

"Positively," approved the editor of "The Financial Pilot," "she issomewhat better than the rest of those ladies we have just seengoing by."M. Costeclar was on the point of pulling out what little hair hehad left.

"And I don't know her!" he went on. "A lovely woman rides in theBois, and I don't know who she is! That is ridiculous andprodigious! Who can post us?"A little ways off stood a group of gentlemen, who had also just lefttheir carriages, and were looking on this interminable procession ofequipages and this amazing display of toilets.

"They are friends of mine," said M. Costeclar: "let us join them."They did so; and, after the usual greetings,"Who is that?" inquired M. Costeclar, - "that dark person, whosecarriage follows Mme. de Thaller's?"An old young man, with scanty hair, dyed beard, and a most impudentsmile, answered him,"That's just what we are trying to find out. None of us have everseen her.""I must and shall find out," interrupted M. Costeclar. "I have avery intelligent servant"Already he was starting in the direction of the spot where hiscarriage was waiting for him. The old beau stopped him.

Don't bother yourself, my dear friend," he said. " I have also aservant who is no fool; and he has had orders for over fifteenminutes."The others burst out laughing.

"Distanced, Costeclar!" exclaimed M. Saint Pavin, who,notwithstanding his slovenly dress and cynic manners, seemedperfectly well received.

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No one was now paying any attention to Maxence; and he slipped offwithout the slightest care as to what M. Costeclar might think.

Reaching the spot where his cab awaited him,"Which way, boss?" inquired the driver. Maxence hesitated. Whatbetter had he to do than to go home? And yet...

"We'll wait for that same carriage," he answered; and we'll followit on the return."But he learned nothing further. Mlle. Lucienne drove straight tothe Boulevard du Temple, and, as before, immediately resumed hereternal black dress; and Maxence saw, her go to the little restaurantfor her modest dinner.

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But he saw something else too.

Almost on the heels of the girl, a servant in livery entered the hotelcorridor, and only went off after remaining a full quarter of an hourin busy conference with Mme. Fortin.

"It's all over," thought the poor fellow. "Lucienne will not bemuch longer my neighbor."He was mistaken. A month went by without bringing about any change.

As in the past, she went out early, came home late, and on Sundaysremained alone all day in her room. Once or twice a week, when theweather was fine, the carriage came for her at about three o'clock,and brought her home at nightfall. Maxence had exhausted allconjectures, when one evening, it was the 31st of October, as hewas coming in to go to bed, he heard a loud sound of voices in theoffice of the hotel. Led by an instinctive curiosity, he approachedon tiptoe, so as to see and hear every thing. The Fortins and Mlle.

Lucienne were having a great discussion.