Cousin Pons/Section 21
Towards ten o'clock that evening, Gaudissart sent for Topinard. The manager was standing with his back to the fire, in a Napoleonic attitude—a trick which he had learned since be began to command his army of actors, dancers, figurants, musicians, and stage carpenters. He grasped his left-hand brace with his right hand, always thrust into his waistcoat; he head was flung far back, his eyes gazed out into space.
"Ah! I say, Topinard, have you independent means?"
"Are you on the lookout to better yourself somewhere else?"
"No, sir—" said Topinard, with a ghastly countenance.
"Why, hang it all, your wife takes the first row of boxes out of respect to my predecessor, who came to grief; I gave you the job of cleaning the lamps in the wings in the daytime, and you put out the scores. And that is not all, either. You get twenty sous for acting monsters and managing devils when a hell is required. There is not a super that does not covet your post, and there are those that are jealous of you, my friend; you have enemies in the theatre."
"Enemies!" repeated Topinard.
"And you have three children; the oldest takes children's parts at fifty centimes—"
"You want to meddle in other people's business, and put your finger into a will case.—Why, you wretched man, you would be crushed like an egg-shell! My patron is His Excellency, Monseigneur le Comte Popinot, a clever man and a man of high character, whom the King in his wisdom has summoned back to the privy council. This statesman, this great politician, has married his eldest son to a daughter of M. le President de Marville, one of the foremost men among the high courts of justice; one of the leading lights of the law-courts. Do you know the law-courts? Very good. Well, he is cousin and heir to M. Pons, to our old conductor whose funeral you attended this morning. I do not blame you for going to pay the last respects to him, poor man. . . . But if you meddle in M. Schmucke's affairs, you will lose your place. I wish very well to M. Schmucke, but he is in a delicate position with regard to the heirs—and as the German is almost nothing to me, and the President and Count Popinot are a great deal, I recommend you to leave the worthy German to get out of his difficulties by himself. There is a special Providence that watches over Germans, and the part of deputy guardian-angel would not suit you at all. Do you see? Stay as you are—you cannot do better."
"Very good, monsieur le directeur," said Topinard, much distressed. And in this way Schmucke lost the protector sent to him by fate, the one creature that shed a tear for Pons, the poor super for whose return he looked on the morrow.
Next morning poor Schmucke awoke to a sense of his great and heavy loss. He looked round the empty rooms. Yesterday and the day before yesterday the preparations for the funeral had made a stir and bustle which distracted his eyes; but the silence which follows the day, when the friend, father, son, or loved wife has been laid in the grave—the dull, cold silence of the morrow is terrible, is glacial. Some irresistible force drew him to Pons' chamber, but the sight of it was more than the poor man could bear; he shrank away and sat down in the dining-room, where Mme. Sauvage was busy making breakfast ready.
Schmucke drew his chair to the table, but he could eat nothing. A sudden, somewhat sharp ringing of the door-bell rang through the house, and Mme. Cantinet and Mme. Sauvage allowed three black-coated personages to pass. First came Vitel, the justice of the peace, with his highly respectable clerk; third was Fraisier, neither sweeter nor milder for the disappointing discovery of a valid will canceling the formidable instrument so audaciously stolen by him.
"We have come to affix seals on the property," the justice of the peace said gently, addressing Schmucke. But the remark was Greek to Schmucke; he gazed in dismay at his three visitors.
"We have come at the request of M. Fraisier, legal representative of M. Camusot de Marville, heir of the late Pons—" added the clerk.
"The collection is here in this great room, and in the bedroom of the deceased," remarked Fraisier.
"Very well, let us go into the next room.—Pardon us, sir; do not let us interrupt with your breakfast."
The invasion struck an icy chill of terror into poor Schmucke. Fraisier's venomous glances seemed to possess some magnetic influence over his victims, like the power of a spider over a fly.
"M. Schmucke understood how to turn a will, made in the presence of a notary, to his own advantage," he said, "and he surely must have expected some opposition from the family. A family does not allow itself to be plundered by a stranger without some protest; and we shall see, sir, which carries the day—fraud and corruption or the rightful heirs. . . . We have a right as next of kin to affix seals, and seals shall be affixed. I mean to see that the precaution is taken with the utmost strictness."
"Ach, mein Gott! how haf I offended against Hefn?" cried the innocent Schmucke.
"There is a good deal of talk about you in the house," said La Sauvage. "While you were asleep, a little whipper-snapper in a black suit came here, a puppy that said he was M. Hannequin's head-clerk, and must see you at all costs; but as you were asleep and tired out with the funeral yesterday, I told him that M. Villemot, Tabareau's head-clerk, was acting for you, and if it was a matter of business, I said, he might speak to M. Villemot. 'Ah, so much the better!' the youngster said. 'I shall come to an understanding with him. We will deposit the will at the Tribunal, after showing it to the President.' So at that, I told him to ask M. Villemot to come here as soon as he could.—Be easy, my dear sir, there are those that will take care of you. They shall not shear the fleece off your back. You will have some one that has beak and claws. M. Villemot will give them a piece of his mind. I have put myself in a passion once already with that abominable hussy, La Cibot, a porter's wife that sets up to judge her lodgers, forsooth, and insists that you have filched the money from the heirs; you locked M. Pons up, she says, and worked upon him till he was stark, staring mad. She got as good as she gave, though, the wretched woman. 'You are a thief and a bad lot,' I told her; 'you will get into the police-courts for all the things that you have stolen from the gentlemen,' and she shut up."
The clerk came out to speak to Schmucke.
"Would you wish to be present, sir, when the seals are affixed in the next room?"
"Go on, go on," said Schmucke; "I shall pe allowed to die in beace, I bresume?"
"Oh, under any circumstances a man has a right to die," the clerk answered, laughing; "most of our business relates to wills. But, in my experience, the universal legatee very seldom follows the testator to the tomb."
"I am going," said Schmucke. Blow after blow had given him an intolerable pain at the heart.
"Oh! here comes M. Villemot!" exclaimed La Sauvage.
"Mennesir Fillemod," said poor Schmucke, "rebresent me."
"I hurried here at once," said Villemot. "I have come to tell you that the will is completely in order; it will certainly be confirmed by the court, and you will be put in possession. You will have a fine fortune."
"I? Ein fein vordune?" cried Schmucke, despairingly. That he of all men should be suspected of caring for the money!
"And meantime what is the justice of the peace doing here with his wax candles and his bits of tape?" asked La Sauvage.
"Oh, he is affixing seals. . . . Come, M. Schmucke, you have a right to be present."
"No—go in yourself."
"But where is the use of the seals if M. Schmucke is in his own house and everything belongs to him?" asked La Sauvage, doing justice in feminine fashion, and interpreting the Code according to their fancy, like one and all of her sex.
"M. Schmucke is not in possession, madame; he is in M. Pons' house. Everything will be his, no doubt; but the legatee cannot take possession without an authorization—an order from the Tribunal. And if the next-of-kin set aside by the testator should dispute the order, a lawsuit is the result. And as nobody knows what may happen, everything is sealed up, and the notaries representing either side proceed to draw up an inventory during the delay prescribed by the law. . . . And there you are!"
Schmucke, hearing such talk for the first time in his life, was completely bewildered by it; his head sank down upon the back of his chair—he could not support it, it had grown so heavy.
Villemot meanwhile went off to chat with the justice of the peace and his clerk, assisting with professional coolness to affix the seals—a ceremony which always involves some buffoonery and plentiful comments on the objects thus secured, unless, indeed, one of the family happens to be present. At length the party sealed up the chamber and returned to the dining-room, whither the clerk betook himself. Schmucke watched the mechanical operation which consists in setting the justice's seal at either end of a bit of tape stretched across the opening of a folding-door; or, in the case of a cupboard or ordinary door, from edge to edge above the door-handle.
"Now for this room," said Fraisier, pointing to Schmucke's bedroom, which opened into the dining-room.
"But that is M. Schmucke's own room," remonstrated La Sauvage, springing in front of the door.
"We found the lease among the papers," Fraisier said ruthlessly; "there was no mention of M. Schmucke in it; it is taken out in M. Pons' name only. The whole place, and every room in it, is a part of the estate. And besides"—flinging open the door—"look here, monsieur le juge de la paix, it is full of pictures."
"So it is," answered the justice of the peace, and Fraisier thereupon gained his point.
"Wait a bit, gentlemen," said Villemot. "Do you know that you are turning the universal legatee out of doors, and as yet his right has not been called in question?"
"Yes, it has," said Fraisier; "we are opposing the transfer of the property."
"And upon what grounds?"
"You shall know that by and by, my boy," Fraisier replied, banteringly. "At this moment, if the legatee withdraws everything that he declares to be his, we shall raise no objections, but the room itself will be sealed. And M. Schmucke may lodge where he pleases."
"No," said Villemot; "M. Schmucke is going to stay in his room."
"I shall demand an immediate special inquiry," continued Villemot, "and prove that we pay half the rent. You shall not turn us out. Take away the pictures, decide on the ownership of the various articles, but here my client stops—'my boy.'"
"I shall go out!" the old musician suddenly said. He had recovered energy during the odious dispute.
"You had better," said Fraisier. "Your course will save expense to you, for your contention would not be made good. The lease is evidence—"
"The lease! the lease!" cried Villemot, "it is a question of good faith—"
"That could only be proved in a criminal case, by calling witnesses.—Do you mean to plunge into experts' fees and verifications, and orders to show cause why judgment should not be given, and law proceedings generally?"
"No, no!" cried Schmucke in dismay. "I shall turn out; I am used to it—"
In practice Schmucke was a philosopher, an unconscious cynic, so greatly had he simplified his life. Two pairs of shoes, a pair of boots, a couple of suits of clothes, a dozen shirts, a dozen bandana handkerchiefs, four waistcoats, a superb pipe given to him by Pons, with an embroidered tobacco-pouch—these were all his belongings. Overwrought by a fever of indignation, he went into his room and piled his clothes upon a chair.
"All dese are mine," he said, with simplicity worthy of Cincinnatus. "Der biano is also mine."
Fraisier turned to La Sauvage. "Madame, get help," he said; "take that piano out and put it on the landing."
"You are too rough into the bargain," said Villemot, addressing Fraisier. "The justice of the peace gives orders here; he is supreme."
"There are valuables in the room," put in the clerk.
"And besides," added the justice of the peace, "M. Schmucke is going out of his own free will."
"Did any one ever see such a client!" Villemot cried indignantly, turning upon Schmucke. "You are as limp as a rag—"
"Vat dos it matter vere von dies?" Schmucke said as he went out. "Dese men haf tiger faces. . . . I shall send somebody to vetch mein bits of dings."
"Where are you going, sir?"
"Vere it shall blease Gott," returned Pons' universal legatee with supreme indifference.
"Send me word," said Villemot.
Fraisier turned to the head-clerk. "Go after him," he whispered.
Mme. Cantinet was left in charge, with a provision of fifty francs paid out of the money that they found. The justice of the peace looked out; there Schmucke stood in the courtyard looking up at the windows for the last time.
"You have found a man of butter," remarked the justice.
"Yes," said Fraisier, "yes. The thing is as good as done. You need not hesitate to marry your granddaughter to Poulain; he will be head-surgeon at the Quinze-Vingts." (The Asylum founded by St. Louis for three hundred blind people.)
"We shall see.—Good-day, M. Fraisier," said the justice of the peace with a friendly air.
"There is a man with a head on his shoulders," remarked the justice's clerk. "The dog will go a long way."
By this time it was eleven o'clock. The old German went like an automaton down the road along which Pons and he had so often walked together. Wherever he went he saw Pons, he almost thought that Pons was by his side; and so he reached the theatre just as his friend Topinard was coming out of it after a morning spent in cleaning the lamps and meditating on the manager's tyranny.
"Oh, shoost der ding for me!" cried Schmucke, stopping his acquaintance. "Dopinart! you haf a lodging someveres, eh?"
"A home off your own?"
"Are you villing to take me for ein poarder? Oh! I shall pay ver' vell; I haf nine hundert vrancs of inkomm, und—I haf not ver' long ter lif. . . . I shall gif no drouble vatefer. . . . I can eat onydings—I only vant to shmoke mein bipe. Und—you are der only von dat haf shed a tear for Bons, mit me; und so, I lof you."
"I should be very glad, sir; but, to begin with, M. Gaudissart has given me a proper wigging—"
"That is one way of saying that he combed my hair for me."
"Combed your hair?"
"He gave me a scolding for meddling in your affairs. . . . So we must be very careful if you come to me. But I doubt whether you will stay when you have seen the place; you do not know how we poor devils live."
"I should rader der boor home of a goot-hearted mann dot haf mourned Bons, dan der Duileries mit men dot haf ein tiger face. . . . I haf chust left tigers in Bons' house; dey vill eat up everydings—"
"Come with me, sir, and you shall see. But—well, anyhow, there is a garret. Let us see what Mme. Topinard says."
Schmucke followed like a sheep, while Topinard led the way into one of the squalid districts which might be called the cancers of Paris—a spot known as the Cite Bordin. It is a slum out of the Rue de Bondy, a double row of houses run up by the speculative builder, under the shadow of the huge mass of the Porte Saint-Martin theatre. The pavement at the higher end lies below the level of the Rue de Bondy; at the lower it falls away towards the Rue des Mathurins du Temple. Follow its course and you find that it terminates in another slum running at right angles to the first—the Cite Bordin is, in fact, a T-shaped blind alley. Its two streets thus arranged contain some thirty houses, six or seven stories high; and every story, and every room in every story, is a workshop and a warehouse for goods of every sort and description, for this wart upon the face of Paris is a miniature Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Cabinet-work and brasswork, theatrical costumes, blown glass, painted porcelain—all the various fancy goods known as l'article Paris are made here. Dirty and productive like commerce, always full of traffic—foot-passengers, vans, and drays—the Cite Bourdin is an unsavory-looking neighborhood, with a seething population in keeping with the squalid surroundings. It is a not unintelligent artisan population, though the whole power of the intellect is absorbed by the day's manual labor. Topinard, like every other inhabitant of the Cite Bourdin, lived in it for the sake of comparatively low rent, the cause of its existence and prosperity. His sixth floor lodging, in the second house to the left, looked out upon the belt of green garden, still in existence, at the back of three or four large mansions in the Rue de Bondy.
Topinard's apartment consisted of a kitchen and two bedrooms. The first was a nursery with two little deal bedsteads and a cradle in it, the second was the bedroom, and the kitchen did duty as a dining-room. Above, reached by a short ladder, known among builders as a "trap-ladder," there was a kind of garret, six feet high, with a sash-window let into the roof. This room, given as a servants' bedroom, raised the Topinards' establishment from mere "rooms" to the dignity of a tenement, and the rent to a corresponding sum of four hundred francs. An arched lobby, lighted from the kitchen by a small round window, did duty as an ante-chamber, and filled the space between the bedroom, the kitchen, and house doors—three doors in all. The rooms were paved with bricks, and hung with a hideous wall-paper at threepence apiece; the chimneypieces that adorned them were of the kind called capucines—a shelf set on a couple of brackets painted to resemble wood. Here in these three rooms dwelt five human beings, three of them children. Any one, therefore, can imagine how the walls were covered with scores and scratches so far as an infant arm can reach.
Rich people can scarcely realize the extreme simplicity of a poor man's kitchen. A Dutch oven, a kettle, a gridiron, a saucepan, two or three dumpy cooking-pots, and a frying-pan—that was all. All the crockery in the place, white and brown earthenware together, was not worth more than twelve francs. Dinner was served on the kitchen table, which, with a couple of chairs and a couple of stools, completed the furniture. The stock of fuel was kept under the stove with a funnel-shaped chimney, and in a corner stood the wash-tub in which the family linen lay, often steeping over-night in soapsuds. The nursery ceiling was covered with clothes-lines, the walls were variegated with theatrical placards and wood-cuts from newspapers or advertisements. Evidently the eldest boy, the owner of the school-books stacked in a corner, was left in charge while his parents were absent at the theatre. In many a French workingman's family, so soon as a child reaches the age of six or seven, it plays the part of mother to younger sisters and brothers.
From this bare outline, it may be imagined that the Topinards, to use the hackneyed formula, were "poor but honest." Topinard himself was verging on forty; Mme. Topinard, once leader of a chorus—mistress, too, it was said, of Gaudissart's predecessor, was certainly thirty years old. Lolotte had been a fine woman in her day; but the misfortunes of the previous management had told upon her to such an extent, that it had seemed to her to be both advisable and necessary to contract a stage-marriage with Topinard. She did not doubt but that, as soon as they could muster the sum of a hundred and fifty francs, her Topinard would perform his vows agreeably to the civil law, were it only to legitimize the three children, whom he worshiped. Meantime, Mme. Topinard sewed for the theatre wardrobe in the morning; and with prodigious effort, the brave couple made nine hundred francs per annum between them.
"One more flight!" Topinard had twice repeated since they reached the third floor. Schmucke, engulfed in his sorrow, did not so much as know whether he was going up or coming down.
In another minute Topinard had opened the door; but before he appeared in his white workman's blouse Mme. Topinard's voice rang from the kitchen:
"There, there! children, be quiet! here comes papa!"
But the children, no doubt, did as they pleased with papa, for the oldest member of the family, sitting astride a broomstick, continued to command a charge of cavalry (a reminiscence of the Cirque-Olympique), the second blew a tin trumpet, while the third did its best to keep up with the main body of the army. Their mother was at work on a theatrical costume.
"Be quiet! or I shall slap you!" shouted Topinard in a formidable voice; then in an aside for Schmucke's benefit—"Always have to say that!—Here, little one," he continued, addressing his Lolotte, "this is M. Schmucke, poor M. Pons' friend. He does not know where to go, and he would like to live with us. I told him that we were not very spick-and-span up here, that we lived on the sixth floor, and had only the garret to offer him; but it was no use, he would come—"
Schmucke had taken the chair which the woman brought him, and the children, stricken with sudden shyness, had gathered together to give the stranger that mute, earnest, so soon-finished scrutiny characteristic of childhood. For a child, like a dog, is wont to judge by instinct rather than reason. Schmucke looked up; his eyes rested on that charming little picture; he saw the performer on the tin trumpet, a little five-year-old maiden with wonderful golden hair.
"She looks like ein liddle German girl," said Schmucke, holding out his arms to the child.
"Monsieur will not be very comfortable here," said Mme. Topinard. "I would propose that he should have our room at once, but I am obliged to have the children near me."
She opened the door as she spoke, and bade Schmucke come in. Such splendor as their abode possessed was all concentrated here. Blue cotton curtains with a white fringe hung from the mahogany bedstead, and adorned the window; the chest of drawers, bureau, and chairs, though all made of mahogany, were neatly kept. The clock and candlesticks on the chimneypiece were evidently the gift of the bankrupt manager, whose portrait, a truly frightful performance of Pierre Grassou's, looked down upon the chest of drawers. The children tried to peep in at the forbidden glories.
"Monsieur might be comfortable in here," said their mother.
"No, no," Schmucke replied. "Eh! I haf not ver' long to lif, I only vant a corner to die in."
The door was closed, and the three went up to the garret. "Dis is der ding for me," Schmucke cried at once. "Pefore I lifd mid Bons, I vas nefer better lodged."
"Very well. A truckle-bed, a couple of mattresses, a bolster, a pillow, a couple of chairs, and a table—that is all that you need to buy. That will not ruin you—it may cost a hundred and fifty francs, with the crockeryware and strip of carpet for the bedside."
Everything was settled—save the money, which was not forthcoming. Schmucke saw that his new friends were very poor, and recollecting that the theatre was only a few steps away, it naturally occurred to him to apply to the manager for his salary. He went at once, and found Gaudissart in his office. Gaudissart received him in the somewhat stiffly polite manner which he reserved for professionals. Schmucke's demand for a month's salary took him by surprise, but on inquiry he found that it was due.
"Oh, confound it, my good man, a German can always count, even if he has tears in his eyes. . . . I thought that you would have taken the thousand francs that I sent you into account, as a final year's salary, and that we were quits."
"We haf receifed nodings," said Schmucke; "und gif I komm to you, it ees because I am in der shtreet, und haf not ein benny. How did you send us der bonus?"
"By your portress."
"By Montame Zipod!" exclaimed Schmucke. "She killed Bons, she robbed him, she sold him—she tried to purn his vill—she is a pad creature, a monster!"
"But, my good man, how come you to be out in the street without a roof over your head or a penny in your pocket, when you are the sole heir? That does not necessarily follow, as the saying is."
"They haf put me out at der door. I am a voreigner, I know nodings of die laws."
"Poor man!" thought Gaudissart, foreseeing the probable end of the unequal contest.—"Listen," he began, "do you know what you ought to do in this business?"
"I haf ein mann of pizness!"
"Very good, come to terms at once with the next-of-kin; make them pay you a lump sum of money down and an annuity, and you can live in peace—"
"I ask noding more."
"Very well. Let me arrange it for you," said Gaudissart. Fraisier had told him the whole story only yesterday, and he thought that he saw his way to making interest out of the case with the young Vicomtesse Popinot and her mother. He would finish a dirty piece of work, and some day he would be a privy councillor, at least; or so he told himself.
"I gif you full powers."
"Well. Let me see. Now, to begin with," said Gaudissart, Napoleon of the boulevard theatres, "to begin with, here are a hundred crowns—" (he took fifteen louis from his purse and handed them to Schmucke).
"That is yours, on account of six months' salary. If you leave the theatre, you can repay me the money. Now for your budget. What are your yearly expenses? How much do you want to be comfortable? Come, now, scheme out a life for a Sardanapalus—"
"I only need two suits of clothes, von for der vinter, von for der sommer."
"Three hundred francs," said Gaudissart.
"Shoes. Vour bairs."
"A dozen pairs—thirty-six francs."
"Half a tozzen shirts."
"Six calico shirts, twenty-four francs; as many linen shirts, forty-eight francs; let us say seventy-two. That makes four hundred and sixty-eight francs altogether.—Say five hundred, including cravats and pocket-handkerchiefs; a hundred francs for the laundress—six hundred. And now, how much for your board—three francs a day?"
"No, it ees too much."
"After all, you want hats; that brings it to fifteen hundred. Five hundred more for rent; that makes two thousand. If I can get two thousand francs per annum for you, are you willing? . . . Good securities."
"Und mein tobacco."
"Two thousand four hundred, then. . . . Oh! Papa Schmucke, do you call that tobacco? Very well, the tobacco shall be given in.—So that is two thousand four hundred francs per annum."
"Dat ees not all! I should like som monny."
"Pin-money!—Just so. Oh, these Germans! And calls himself an innocent, the old Robert Macaire!" thought Gaudissart. Aloud he said, "How much do you want? But this must be the last."
"It ees to bay a zacred debt."
"A debt!" said Gaudissart to himself. What a shark it is! He is worse than an eldest son. He will invent a bill or two next! We must cut this short. This Fraisier cannot take large views.—What debt is this, my good man? Speak out."
"Dere vas but von mann dot haf mourned Bons mit me. . . . He haf a tear liddle girl mit wunderschones haar; it vas as if I saw mein boor Deutschland dot I should nefer haf left. . . . Baris is no blace for die Germans; dey laugh at dem" (with a little nod as he spoke, and the air of a man who knows something of life in this world below).
"He is off his head," Gaudissart said to himself. And a sudden pang of pity for this poor innocent before him brought a tear to the manager's eyes.
"Ah! you understand, mennesir le directeur! Ver' goot. Dat mann mit die liddle taughter is Dobinard, vat tidies der orchestra and lights die lamps. Bons vas fery fond of him, und helped him. He vas der only von dat accombanied mein only friend to die church und to die grafe. . . . I vant dree tausend vrancs for him, und dree tausend for die liddle von—"
"Poor fellow!" said Gaudissart to himself.
Rough, self-made man though he was, he felt touched by this nobleness of nature, by a gratitude for a mere trifle, as the world views it; though for the eyes of this divine innocence the trifle, like Bossuet's cup of water, was worth more than the victories of great captains. Beneath all Gaudissart's vanity, beneath the fierce desire to succeed in life at all costs, to rise to the social level of his old friend Popinot, there lay a warm heart and a kindly nature. Wherefore he canceled his too hasty judgments and went over to Schmucke's side.
"You shall have it all! But I will do better still, my dear Schmucke. Topinard is a good sort—"
"Yes. I haf chust peen to see him in his boor home, vere he ees happy mit his children—"
"I will give him the cashier's place. Old Baudrand is going to leave."
"Ah! Gott pless you!" cried Schmucke.
"Very well, my good, kind fellow, meet me at Berthier's office about four o'clock this afternoon. Everything shall be ready, and you shall be secured from want for the rest of your days. You shall draw your six thousand francs, and you shall have the same salary with Garangeot that you used to have with Pons."
"No," Schmucke answered. "I shall not lif. . . . I haf no heart for anydings; I feel that I am attacked—"
"Poor lamb!" Gaudissart muttered to himself as the German took his leave. "But, after all, one lives on mutton; and, as the sublime Beranger says, 'Poor sheep! you were made to be shorn,'" and he hummed the political squib by way of giving vent to his feelings. Then he rang for the office-boy.
"Call my carriage," he said.
"Rue de Hanovre," he told the coachman.
The man of ambitions by this time had reappeared; he saw the way to the Council of State lying straight before him.
And Schmucke? He was busy buying flowers and cakes for Topinard's children, and went home almost joyously.
"I am gifing die bresents . . ." he said, and he smiled. It was the first smile for three months, but any one who had seen Schmucke's face would have shuddered to see it there.
"But dere is ein condition—"
"It is too kind of you, sir," said the mother.
"De liddle girl shall gif me a kiss and put die flowers in her hair, like die liddle German maidens—"
"Olga, child, do just as the gentleman wishes," said the mother, assuming an air of discipline.
"Do not scold mein liddle German girl," implored Schmucke. It seemed to him that the little one was his dear Germany. Topinard came in.
"Three porters are bringing up the whole bag of tricks," he said.
"Oh! Here are two hundred vrancs to bay for eferydings . . ." said Schmucke. "But, mein friend, your Montame Dobinard is ver' nice; you shall marry her, is it not so? I shall gif you tausend crowns, and die liddle vone shall haf tausend crowns for her toury, and you shall infest it in her name. . . . Und you are not to pe ein zuper any more—you are to pe de cashier at de teatre—"
"I?—instead of old Baudrand?"
"Who told you so?"
"Oh! it is enough to send one wild with joy! . . . Eh! I say, Rosalie, what a rumpus there will be at the theatre! But it is not possible—"
"Our benefactor must not live in a garret—"
"Pshaw! for die few tays dat I haf to lif it ees fery komfortable," said Schmucke. "Goot-pye; I am going to der zemetery, to see vat dey haf don mit Bons, und to order som flowers for his grafe."