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A month later he had moved into it; and the expenses which heincurred to furnish it in a style worthy of the building itselfwas the talk of the town. And yet he was not fully satisfiedwith his purchase.

Unlike M. Parcimieux, he had no wish whatever to conceal his wealth.

What! he owned one of those exquisite houses which excite at oncethe wonder and the envy of passers-by, and that house was hidbehind such a common-looking building!

"I must have that shanty pulled down," he said from time to time.

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And then he thought of something else; and the "shanty" was stillstanding on that evening, when, after leaving Maxence, M. deTraggers presented himself at M. de Thaller's.

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The servants had, doubtless, received their instructions; for, assoon as Marius emerged from the porch of the front-house, theporter advanced from his lodge, bent double, his mouth open to hisvery ears by the most obsequious smile.

Without waiting for a question,"The baron has not yet come home -," he said. "But he cannot bemuch longer away; and certainly the baroness is at home for mylord-marquis. Please, then, give yourself the trouble to pass."And, standing aside, he struck upon the enormous gong that stoodnear his lodge a single sharp blow, intended to wake up thefootman on duty in the vestibule, and to announce a visitor ofnote. Slowly, but not without quietly observing every thing, M.

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de Traggers crossed the courtyard, covered with fine sand, - theywould have powdered it with golden dust, if they had dared, - andsurrounded on all sides with bronze baskets, in which beautifulrhododendrons were blossoming.

It was nearly six o'clock. The manager of the Mutual Credit dinedat seven; and the preparations for this important event wereeverywhere apparent. Through the large windows of the dining-roomthe steward could be seen presiding over the setting of the table.

The butler was coming up from the cellar, loaded with bottles.

Finally, through the apertures of the basement arose the appetizingperfumes of the kitchen.

What enormous business it required to support such a style, todisplay this luxury, which would shame one of those Germanprincelings, who exchanged the crown of their ancestors for aPrussian livery gilded with French gold! - other people's money.

Meantime, the blow struck by the porter on the gong had producedthe desired effect; and the gates of the vestibule seemed to openof their own accord before M. de Tregars as he ascended the stoop.

This vestibule with the splendor of which Mlle. Lucienne had beenso deeply impressed, would, indeed, have been worthy the attentionof an artist, had it been allowed to retain the simple grandeurand the severe harmony which M. Parcimieux's architect had impartedto it.

But M. de Thaller, as he was proud of boasting, had a perfect horrorof simplicity; and, wherever he discovered a vacant space as big ashis hand, he hung a picture, a bronze, or a piece of china, anything and anyhow.

The two footmen were standing when M. de Tregars came in. Withoutasking any question, "Will M. le Marquis please follow me?" saidthe youngest.

And, opening the broad glass doors1 he began walking in front ofM. de Traggers, along a staircase with marble railing, the elegantproportions of which were absolutely ruined by a ridiculousprofusion of "objects of art" of all nature, and from all sources.

This staircase led to a vast semicircular landing, upon which,between columns of precious marble, opened three wide doors. Thefootman opened the middle one, which led to M. de Thaller'spicture-gallery, a celebrated one in the financial world, andwhich had acquired for him the reputation of an enlightened amateur.