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"The worst of M. Vincent Favoral's conduct," he resumed, "is, that,while he was throwing away money here by the handful, he subjectedhis family to the most cruel privations.""Oh!""He refused the necessaries of life to his wife, the best and theworthiest of women; he never gave a cent to his son; and hedeprived his daughter of every thing.""Ah, if I could have suspected such a thing!" murmured Mme. Zelie.

"Finally, and to cap the - climax, he has gone, leaving his wifeand children literally without bread."Transported with indignation,"Why, that man must have been a horrible old scoundrel" exclaimedthe young woman.

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This is just the point to which M. de Tregars wished to bring, her.

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"And now," he resumed, "you must understand the enormous interestwe have in knowing what has become of him.""I have already told you."M. de Tregars had risen, in his turn. Taking Mme. Zelie's hands,and fixing upon her one of those acute looks, which search for thetruth down to the innermost recesses of the conscience,"Come, my dear child," he began in a penetrating voice, "you are aworthy and honest girl. Will you leave in the most frightfuldespair a family who appeal to your heart? Be sure that no harmwill ever happen through us to Vincent Favoral."She raised her hand, as they do to take an oath in a court ofjustice, and, in a solemn tone,"I swear," she uttered, "that I went to the station with M. Vincent;that he assured me that he was going to Brazil; that he had hispassage-ticket; and that all his baggage was marked, 'Rio deJaneiro.'"The disappointment was great: and M. de Tregars manifested it bya gesture.

"At least," he insisted, "tell me who the woman was whose place youtook here."But already had the young woman returned to her feeling of mistrust.

"How in the world do you expect me to know?" she replied. "Go andask Amanda. I have no accounts to give you. Besides, I have togo and finish packing my trunks. So good-by, and enjoy yourself."And she went out so quick, that she caught Amanda, the chambermaid,kneeling behind the door.

"So that woman was listening," thought M. de Tregars, anxious anddissatisfied.

But it was in vain that he begged Mme. Zelie to return, and to heara single word more. She disappeared; and he had to resign himselfto leave the house without learning any thing more for the present.

He had remained there very long; and he was wondering, as he walkedout, whether Maxence had not got tired waiting for him in the littlecaf where he had sent him.

But Maxence had remained faithfully at his post. And when Marius deTregars came to sit by him, whilst exclaiming, "Here you are at last!"he called his attention at the same time with a gesture, and a winkfrom the corner of his eye, to two men sitting at the adjoining tablebefore a bowl of punch.

Certain, now, that M. de Tregars would remain on the lookout, Maxencewas knocking on the table with his fist, to call the waiter, who wasbusy playing billiards with a customer.

And when he came at last, justly annoyed at being disturbed,"Give us two mugs of beer," Maxence ordered, "and bring us a packof cards."M. de Tregars understood very well that something extraordinary hadhappened; but, unable to guess what, he leaned over towards hiscompanion.

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"What is it?" he whispered.

"We must hear what these two men are saying; and we'll play a gameof piquet for a subterfuge."The waiter returned, bringing two glasses of a muddy liquid, a pieceof cloth, the color of which was concealed under a layer of dirt, anda pack of cards horribly soft and greasy.