Ursule Mirouët (Tomlinson translation)/Part II/5
In the provinces, and especially in the small towns where everyone possesses his own house, it is difficult enough to find lodgings. Moreover, in buying an establishment of any kind, the house nearly always forms part of the sale. The justice of the peace, to whom the attorney for the crown had entrusted the orphan’s interests, saw no other way of removing her from the inn than by making her buy a little house in the Grand’Rue, at the corner of the bridge on the Loing, with the house-door opening on a passage, and having only one parlor on the ground floor with two windows looking on the street, and behind which there was a kitchen, with a French window looking on an inner court about thirty feet square. A small staircase lighted on the riverside by borrowed lights, led to the second story, composed of three rooms over which were two attics. The justice of the peace took two thousand francs out of La Bougival’s savings to pay the first part of the cost of the house, which was worth six thousand francs, and he obtained terms for the remainder. In order to find room for the books Ursule wished to buy back, Bongrand had the inner partition of the two rooms on the second floor destroyed, after having noticed that the depth of the house corresponded to the length of the body of the library. Savinien and the justice of the peace so hurried on the workmen who were cleaning, painting and renovating the little house, that, toward the end of March, the orphan was able to leave her inn, and discovered in this ugly house a room similar to the one from which the heirs had hunted her, for it was full of her own furniture that the justice of the peace had recovered at the raising of the seals. La Bougival, located above, could come down at the call of a bell placed at the head of her young mistress’s bed. The room destined for the library, the ground-floor parlor and the kitchen, still empty, only stained, freshly papered and painted, were waiting for the purchases the goddaughter was to make at the sale of her godfather’s furniture. Although they knew Ursule’s character, the justice of the peace and the curé dreaded this sudden transition for her to a life devoid of the refinements and luxury to which the deceased doctor had insisted upon accustoming her. As to Savinien, he wept about it. And so he had secretly given the workmen and the upholsterer more than one compensation in order that Ursule should find no difference, at least in the interior, between the old and the new room. But the young girl, who derived all her happiness from Savinien’s eyes, showed the gentlest resignation. In these circumstances, she enchanted her two old friends and proved to them, for the thousandth time, that heart sorrows only could make her suffer. The grief that the loss of her godfather caused her was too deep for her to feel the bitterness of this change of fortune, which, nevertheless, contributed fresh obstacles to her marriage. She was so much hurt at Savinien’s sadness at seeing her so reduced, that she was obliged to whisper to him, coming out from mass on the morning of her entry into her new house:
“Love does not thrive without patience, we will wait!”
As soon as the title deeds of the inventory were drawn up, Massin, by the advice of Goupil, who had changed over to him out of secret hatred for Minoret, hoping something better from the usurer’s selfishness than from Zélie’s cautiousness, sued Monsieur and Madame de Portenduère, whose payments had fallen due. The old lady was stunned at being called upon to pay one hundred and twenty-nine thousand five hundred and seventeen francs fifty-five centimes to the heirs at twenty-four hours’ notice, and the interest from the day of the application, at the risk of seizure of her property. To borrow was impossible. Savinien went to consult a solicitor at Fontainebleau.
“You have to deal with bad people who will never compromise; they will prosecute unmercifully to get possession of the farm of Bordières,” said the solicitor. “It would be best to convert the sale into a voluntary auction, so as to avoid expense.”
This sad news crushed the old Bretonne, to whom her son mildly observed, that, had she consented to his marriage during Minoret’s lifetime, the doctor would have given her estates to Ursule’s husband. Their household would now have been in wealth instead of poverty. Although uttered unreproachfully, this argument wounded the old lady quite as much as the idea of an early and violent dispossession. On learning this disaster, Ursule, barely recovered from the fever and the blow aimed at her by the heirs, was stupefied with grief. To love and find one’s self powerless to succor the beloved one is one of the most frightful sufferings that can lay waste to the soul of a noble, delicate woman.
“I meant to have bought my uncle’s house, I shall buy your mother’s,” she said.
“Is it possible?” said Savinien. “You are a minor and cannot sell your stock without formalities to which the attorney for the crown would never consent Besides, we shall not attempt to resist. The whole town is delighted to see the discomfiture of a noble family. These bourgeois are like hounds at the death. Happily I still have ten thousand francs with which I shall be able to provide for my mother until the end of this wretched business. After all, your godfather’s inventory is not finished; Monsieur Bongrand still hopes to find something for you. He is as astonished as I am to know that you are without any fortune. The doctor so often spoke, either to him or to me, of the beautiful future he had arranged for you, that we do not at all understand this issue.”
“Bah!” she said, “as long as I can buy my godfather’s library and furniture so that they shall not be scattered or fall into the hands of strangers, I am contented with my lot.”
“But who knows what price these infamous heirs may not put on all you wish to have?”
From Montargis to Fontainebleau nothing was talked of but the Minoret heirs and the million they were looking for; but the most minute searches made in the house since the raising of the seals, had not led to any discovery. The Portenduère debt of a hundred and twenty-nine thousand francs, the fifteen thousand francs’ income from the three per cents, then at seventy-six, and which gave a capital of three hundred and eighty thousand francs, the house, valued at forty thousand francs, and its rich furniture, produced a total of about six hundred thousand francs which seemed to everybody a sufficiently handsome compensation. Minoret then had several gnawing anxieties. La Bougival and Savinien, who, as well as the justice of the peace, persisted in believing in the existence of some will, used to arrive at the close of each sitting and ask Bongrand the result of the searches. Sometimes the old man’s friend would exclaim, just as the men of business and the heirs were leaving: “I don’t understand it at all!” As, to many superficial people, two hundred thousand francs made a fine provincial fortune for each heir, nobody thought of asking how the doctor had been able to keep up his style of household with only fifteen thousand francs, since he had left untouched the interest on the Portenduère debt. Bongrand, Savinien and the curé alone took up this question in Ursule’s interest, and, by expressing it, made the postmaster turn pale more than once.
“And yet they have searched everything thoroughly, they, in order to find money, I, to find a will which ought to be in Monsieur de Portenduère’s favor,” said the justice of the peace the day on which the inventory was closed. “They have scattered the cinders, raised the marbles, felt the slippers, pierced through the wooden beds, emptied the mattresses, pricked the blankets and quilts, turned out his eiderdown, examined the papers bit by bit, and the drawers, upset the floor of the cellar, and I urged them on to these devastations!”
“What do you think of it?” said the curé.
“The will has been suppressed by one of the heirs.”
“And the papers?”
“Look for them then! Find out what you can of the ways of such sneaking, sly, miserly people as the Massins and the Crémières! How are you to thoroughly understand a fortune like Minoret’s? he receives two hundred thousand francs of the inheritance, and they say he is going to sell his license, his house and his shares in the stage-coach, three hundred and fifty thousand francs.—What sums! without counting the savings of his thirty odd thousand francs income from landed property—Poor doctor!”
“Perhaps the will has been hidden in the library?” said Savinien.
“Therefore I do not dissuade the little one from buying it! But for that, would it not be folly to let her put her ready money into books which she will never open?”
The whole town believed the doctor’s goddaughter to have been provided with the hidden funds, but, when it became positively known that her income of fourteen hundred francs and her repurchases constituted her entire fortune, then the doctor’s house and personal property excited universal curiosity. Some thought that sums in banknotes would be found hidden in the pieces of furniture; others, that the old man had lined his books. And so the sale presented the spectacle of strange precautions taken by the heirs. Dionis, acting as auctioneer, proclaimed every time an article was put up that the heirs only intended selling the piece of furniture and not any valuable it might contain; then, before surrendering it, they all submitted it to light-fingered examinations, having it probed and sounded; in fact, they followed it with the same look which a father would give to his only son on seeing him leave for the Indies.
“Ah! mademoiselle!” said La Bougival, in dismay upon her return from the first sitting, “I shall not go again. And Monsieur Bongrand is right, you would not be able to bear such a sight. Everything is out in the grounds. People come and go everywhere as if it were the street, the handsomest furniture is put to any use, they climb upon it, and a hen would not be able to find her chicks for the muddle! One would think one was at a fire. The things are in the yard, the cupboards open, and nothing in them! Oh! the poor dear man, it was well he died, this sale would have killed him.”
Bongrand, who bought for Ursule the pieces of furniture that the deceased had been fond of and that were calculated to adorn the little house, did not appear at all at the sale of the library. More cunning than the heirs, whose avidity might have made him pay too dear for the books, he had commissioned a dealer in second-hand books at Melun, who had purposely come to Nemours, and who had already had several lots knocked down to him. In consequence of the suspicion of the heirs, the library was sold in separate works. Three thousand volumes were examined, rummaged one by one, held up by both sides of the uplifted cover, and shaken in order to turn out any papers that might be hidden in them; finally their covers and fly-leaves were examined. The total of the auction, for Ursule, ran up to about six thousand five hundred francs, the half of her claim against the estate. The bookcase was not given up until after it had been carefully examined by a cabinetmaker sent for from Paris, who was celebrated for secret drawers. When the justice of the peace gave the order for the bookcase and the books to be conveyed to Mademoiselle Mirouët, the heirs felt vague misgivings, which vanished later on when she was seen to be as poor as before. Minoret bought his uncle’s house, which his co-inheritors worked up to fifty thousand francs, thinking that the postmaster was hoping to find a treasure in the walls. The conditions also contained reservations on this subject. A fortnight after the settlement of the inheritance, Minoret, having sold his horses and business to the son of a rich farmer, installed himself in his uncle’s house, where he spent considerable sums in furniture and restorations. So in this way Minoret condemned himself to live a few steps away from Ursule.
“I hope,” he had said at Dionis’s the day that the formal notice had been served upon Savinien and his mother, “that we shall get rid of these lordlings! We will drive the others out afterward.”
“The old woman with the fourteen quarterings,” replied Goupil, “would never witness her own downfall; she will go and die in Brittany, where no doubt she will find a wife for her son.”
“I do not think so,” answered the notary, who, that morning, had drawn up the contract of the purchase made by Bongrand. “Ursule has just bought widow Richard’s house.”
“That cursed little fool does not know what to invent to annoy us!” cried the postmaster very rashly.
“And what does that matter to you, if she lives in Nemours?” asked Goupil, surprised at the movement of vexation that escaped the foolish giant.
“You don’t know,” replied Minoret, turning as red as a poppy, “that my son is idiotic enough to be in love with her. That is why I would willingly give a hundred écus if Ursule would leave Nemours.”
From this first outburst, it will be understood how Ursule, poor and resigned, was going to annoy the wealthy Minoret. The worry of an inheritance to settle, the sale of his business, and the visits necessitated by unwonted affairs, his arguments with his wife about the slightest details and about the purchase of the doctor’s house, in which Zélie wanted to live in a homely way in the interests of her son; this uproar, which contrasted with the quiet of his ordinary life, prevented the great Minoret from thinking of his victim. But, a few days after his installation in the Rue des Bourgeois, toward the middle of May, as he was returning from a walk, he heard the sound of the piano, saw La Bougival sitting at the window like a dragon guarding a treasure, and suddenly heard an importunate voice within him.
To explain why, in a man of the former postmaster’s stamp, the sight of Ursule, who did not even suspect the theft committed to her injury, should become unbearable; why the sight of this dignity in misfortune inspired him with the desire to send this young girl out of the town; and why this desire assumed the character of hatred and passion, would perhaps form a whole treatise on ethics. Perhaps he did not think himself the lawful owner of the thirty-six thousand francs income so long as she to whom it belonged was two steps from him. Perhaps he had a vague belief in some chance that would disclose his theft whilst those whom he had robbed were there. Perhaps Ursule’s presence was awakening remorse in this somewhat primitive, almost gross nature, which up till now had never done anything illegal. Perhaps this remorse pricked him all the more because he had additional property legitimately acquired. He doubtless attributed this emotion to Ursule’s presence alone, fancying that, if once the young girl disappeared, these tiresome troubles would also vanish. In short, perhaps crime has its doctrine of perfection. A beginning of evil must have its end, a first wound calls for the blow that kills. It may be that theft leads inevitably to murder. Minoret had committed the robbery without the least reflection, so rapidly had events succeeded each other; reflection came afterward. Now, if you have thoroughly grasped this man’s physiognomy and appearance, you will understand the amazing effect that thought would produce upon him. Remorse is more than a thought, it springs from a feeling that is no more hidden than love, and that exercises the same tyranny. But, just as Minoret had not reflected in the least in seizing the fortune destined for Ursule, so he mechanically wished to drive her from Nemours when he felt himself injured by the sight of this deluded innocence. Following his character of an imbecile, he never thought at all of the consequences, but went from peril to peril, prompted by his covetous instinct like a wild animal which does not foresee any cunning of the hunter and relies upon its own speed and strength. Very soon, the rich bourgeois who used to meet at the house of the notary Dionis remarked a change in the manners and attitude of this man who had formerly been so easy-going.
“I don’t know what is the matter with Minoret, he is all odd!” said his wife, from whom he had resolved to hide his bold stroke.
Everybody attributed Minoret’s weariness—for the thought reflected in his face was like that of weariness—to the entire cessation of any occupation, to the sudden change from an active to a private life. Whilst Minoret was considering how he could ruin Ursule’s life, not a day went by without La Bougival’s making some allusion to her foster daughter as to the fortune she ought to have had, or would compare her wretched condition to that which her late master had intended for her and of which he had spoken to her, La Bougival.
“After all,” she said, “I am not saying this from any selfishness, but would not my late master, good as he was, have left me some little thing—?”
“Am I not here?” replied Ursule, forbidding La Bougival to say another word to her on this subject.
She did not want thoughts of self-interest to sully the kindly, mournful and sweet memories which went with the noble face of the old doctor, a sketch of whom, in black and white crayons, done by her drawing-master, adorned her little parlor. To her fresh and beautiful imagination, the sight of this sketch was always enough to bring back her godfather, whom she thought of ceaselessly, especially when she was surrounded by the things he had been fond of; his big easy-chair à la duchesse, his study furniture and his backgammon table, as well as the piano he had given her. In the midst of these things almost quickened into life by her regrets, the two old friends remaining to her, the Abbé Chaperon and Monsieur Bongrand—the only persons she would receive—were like two living memories of her past life, to which she linked her present by the love that her godfather had blest. Before long, the sadness of her thoughts—insensibly softened—in some measure tinged the hours and bound all these things anew in indefinable harmony; there was exquisite cleanliness, the most precise symmetry in the arrangement of the furniture, a few flowers given every day by Savinien, elegant trifles, a hush that the young girl’s habits communicated to objects and which made her home lovely. When breakfast and mass were over, she would study and sing; then she would embroider, sitting at her window overlooking the street. At four o’clock, Savinien, returning from the walk he used to take in all weathers, would find the window half-open, and would seat himself on the outer sill for a half-hour’s chat with her. In the evening the curé and the justice of the peace used to visit her, but she never would allow Savinien to accompany them. In fact, she would not accept Madame de Portenduère’s proposal, sent through her son, that Ursule should go to live with her. Moreover, the young girl and La Bougival lived in the strictest economy; altogether, they did not spend more than sixty francs a month. The old nurse was indefatigable; she washed and ironed, she only cooked twice a week, she kept the cooked meat which the mistress and servant ate cold; for Ursule wanted to save seven hundred francs a year to pay the remainder of the price of her house. This sternness of conduct, modesty and resignation to a life of poverty and deprivation after having enjoyed a luxurious existence in which her slightest whims were doted upon, won over some people. Ursule won respect and incurred no gossip. Moreover, once satisfied, the heirs did her justice. Savinien admired this strength of character in so young a girl. From time to time, coming away from mass, Madame de Portenduère addressed a few kindly words to Ursule, she invited her twice to dinner and came herself to fetch her. If it was not yet happiness, at least it was tranquillity. But a success, in which the justice of the peace showed his old skill as a lawyer, caused the outburst of the yet secret persecution that Minoret was meditating against Ursule, and which was of the nature of a vow. As soon as all the business of the inheritance was finished, the justice of the peace, at Ursule’s entreaty, took the Portenduères’ cause in hand and promised her that he would extricate them from their difficulties; but, while visiting the old lady, whose opposition to Ursule’s happiness made him furious, he did not leave her ignorant of the fact that he was devoting himself to her interests solely to please Mademoiselle Mirouët. He selected one of his former clerks as solicitor at Fontainebleau, for the Portenduères, and himself conducted the inquiry into the nullity of the proceedings. He wanted to profit by the interval that should elapse between the annulment of the prosecution and Massin’s fresh suit, to renew the lease of the farm at six thousand francs, to extract a premium from the farmers and the payment of the last year in advance. From that time, the whist party was reorganized at Madame de Portenduère’s, between himself, the curé, Savinien and Ursule, whom Bongrand and the Abbé Chaperon used to call for and take home every evening. In June, Bongrand proclaimed the nullity of the proceedings pursued by Massin against the Portenduères. He immediately signed the fresh lease, obtained thirty-two thousand francs from the farmer, and a rental of six thousand francs for eighteen years; then, that evening, before his transactions could be noised abroad, he called upon Zélie, whom he knew to be puzzled as to how she should invest her funds, and proposed that she should purchase Les Bordières for two hundred and twenty thousand francs.
“I would close the bargain at once,” said Minoret, “if I knew that the Portenduères would go and live elsewhere than in Nemours.”
“But why?” replied the justice of the peace.
“We would like to dispense with nobility at Nemours.”
“I think I have heard the old lady say that if her affairs were settled, she could not live anywhere but in Brittany on what would remain to her. She talks of selling her house.”
“Well then, sell it to me,” said Minoret.
“But you talk as if you were master,” said Zélie. “What do you want with two houses?”
“If I do not close with you to-night for Les Bordières,” rejoined the justice of the peace, “our lease will be known, we shall be seized again in three days, and I shall fail in this settlement, which I am bent upon. So I shall go at once to Melun, where some farmers that I know there will buy Les Bordières without a moment’s hesitation. In this way you will lose the chance of investing in land at three per cent on the estates of Rouvre.”
“Well then, why did you come to see us?” said Zélie.
“Because you have the money, whilst my former clients would need several days to fork out one hundred and twenty-nine thousand francs. I don’t want any difficulties.”
“Let her leave Nemours and I will give them to you!” repeated Minoret.
“You understand that I cannot answer for the will of the Portenduères,” replied Bongrand, “but I am sure that they will not remain in Nemours.”
Upon this assurance, Minoret, nudged moreover by Zélie, promised the funds for paying the Portenduères’ debt to the doctor’s estate. The deed of sale was then drawn up at Dionis’s, and in it the delighted justice of the peace got Minoret to accept the conditions of the new lease, the latter as well as Zélie being a little late in discovering the loss of the last year paid in advance. Toward the end of June, Bongrand brought the adjusted balance of her fortune to Madame de Portenduère, one hundred and twenty-nine thousand francs, whilst urging her to invest it in the Funds, which with Savinien’s ten thousand francs would give her an income of six thousand francs in the five per cents. Thus, far from losing on her income, the old lady gained two thousand francs a year by the settlement. And so the Portenduère family remained in Nemours.
Minoret believed he had been tricked, as if the justice of the peace could have known that Ursule’s presence was unbearable to him, and he consequently entertained a keen resentment which increased his hatred of his victim. Then began the drama—secret, but terrible in its results—of the struggle between two feelings, the one urging Minoret to drive Ursule out of Nemours, and the one giving Ursule strength to bear the persecutions, the reason for which was for some time unfathomable; a strange situation, to which all the preceding events had led, for which they had paved the way, and to which they had served as a preface.
Madame Minoret, to whom her husband had given silverware and a complete dinner-service worth about twenty thousand francs, gave a gorgeous dinner every Sunday, upon which day her son the deputy used to bring a few friends from Fontainebleau. For these sumptuous dinners, Zélie would send to Paris for rarities, thus obliging the notary Dionis to imitate her ostentation. Goupil, whom the Minorets were endeavoring to exclude from their society like some disreputable person who might sully their splendor, was not invited until toward the end of July, one month after the inauguration of the private life led by the former owners of the stage. The head clerk, already alive to this intentional neglect, was obliged to adopt formal manners toward Désiré, who, since the exercise of his duties, had assumed a solemn and supercilious manner even with his family.
“Then you have forgotten all about Esther, now that you are in love with Mademoiselle Mirouët?” said Goupil to the deputy.
“In the first place, Esther is dead, monsieur. Then, I have never thought about Ursule,” replied the magistrate.
“Well then, what were you telling me, Papa Minoret?” cried Goupil very insolently.
Minoret, caught in the very act of lying by so formidable a man, would have been abashed but for the purpose for which he had invited Goupil to dinner, whilst recollecting the proposition once made by the head clerk, that he should prevent the marriage of Ursule and young Portenduère. For all answer, he hastily led the clerk to the far end of his garden.
“You will soon be twenty-eight, my dear fellow,” he said, “and I do not yet see you on the road to good fortune. I wish you well, for after all you have been my son’s friend. Listen to me: if you induce little Mirouët—who possesses moreover forty thousand francs—to become your wife, as sure as my name is Minoret, I will give you the means to buy a notary’s practice at Orleans.”
“No,” said Goupil, “I should not be conspicuous enough; but at Montargis—”
“No,” retorted Minoret, “but at Sens—”
“Done! then it shall be Sens!” cried the hideous head clerk, “there is an archbishop there, I do not dislike a pious country; with a little hypocrisy one gets on better. Besides, the little one is religious, she would be a success there.”
“It must be clearly understood,” said Minoret, “that I only give the hundred thousand francs upon the marriage of our relation, whom I want to settle comfortably out of consideration for my dead uncle.”
“And why not a little for my sake?” said Goupil slily, suspecting some secret in Minoret’s behavior, “was it not through my directions that you were able to collect twenty-four thousand francs a year from one holding without enclave, round about the Chateau du Rouvre? With your grassland and mill on the other side of the Loing, you might add sixteen thousand francs! See here, old fellow, do you intend to deal fairly with me?”
“Well then, to let you feel my fangs, I was nursing the purchase of Le Rouvre, the parks, gardens, reserves and forest for Massin—”
“Take care how you do that!” broke in Zélie.
“Well then,” said Goupil, darting a viperous look at her, “if I choose, Massin will have all that for two hundred thousand francs.”
“Leave us, wife,” then said the giant, taking Zélie’s arm and sending her back, “I am settling with him.—We have been so busy,” resumed Minoret returning to Goupil, “that we have not been able to think of you; but I count upon your friendship to procure us Le Rouvre.”
“An old marquisate,” said Goupil, slily, “and which in your hands would soon be worth fifty thousand francs a year, more than two millions at the present price of landed estate.”
“And our deputy would then marry a fieldmarshal’s daughter, or the heiress of some old family who would advance him in the magistracy of Paris,” said the postmaster, opening his big snuff-box and offering Goupil a pinch.
“Well then, are we playing fair?” cried Goupil, flicking his fingers.
Minoret squeezed Goupil’s hands and replied:
“On my word of honor!”
Happily for Minoret, the head clerk believed, like all crafty people, that his marriage with Ursule was an excuse for making up to him since he had set Massin against them.
“It is not he,” he said to himself, “who thought of this humbug, I recognize my Zélie, she has dictated his rôle. Bah! I can let Massin go. Before three years are over I shall be deputy for Sens,” he thought.
Then, perceiving Bongrand who was going to play whist opposite, he rushed into the street.
“You are very much interested in Ursule Mirouët, my dear Monsieur Bongrand,” he said, “you cannot be indifferent to her future. Here is the programme: that she should marry a notary whose practice will be in a chief town of the district. This notary, who is bound to be deputy in three years, will bring her a dowry of one hundred thousand francs.”
“She can do better,” said Bongrand, drily. “Since her misfortunes, Madame de Portenduère has not been at all well; even yesterday she was terribly altered, sorrow is killing her; Savinien still has six thousand francs a year, Ursule has forty thousand francs, I shall have their capitals put out at interest à la Massin, but honestly, and in ten years they will have a small fortune.”
“Savinien would be a fool; he can marry Mademoiselle du Rouvre when he pleases, an only daughter to whom her uncle and aunt intend to leave two magnificent legacies.”
“‘When Love lays hold upon us, good-bye to prudence,’ says La Fontaine. But who is he, your notary? for after all—” rejoined Bongrand out of curiosity.
“I,” replied Goupil, startling the justice of the peace.
“You?” answered Bongrand, without concealing his disgust.
“Ah well! your servant, monsieur,” replied Goupil, casting him a look full of malice, hatred and defiance.
“Would you like to be the wife of a notary who will bring you a dowry of one hundred thousand francs?” cried Bongrand, entering the little parlor and addressing Ursule, who was sitting beside Madame de Portenduère.
Moved by the same impulse, Ursule and Savinien started and looked at each other: she smiling, he not daring to show his anxiety.
“I am not mistress of my actions,” replied Ursule, holding out her hand to Savinien without the old mother seeing this gesture.
“Therefore I refused without even consulting you.”
“And why?” said Madame de Portenduère. “It seems to me, my child, that a notary’s is a fine position?”
“I prefer my peaceful poverty,” she replied, “for, compared to what I might have expected from life, it is wealth to me. Besides, my old nurse saves me many worries, and I am not going to exchange the present, which satisfies me, for an unknown future.”