Chen Long Media Network Money

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"M. Chapelain, whom a loss of a hundred and sixty thousand francshas not made particularly indulgent, is of that opinion.""And so am I," exclaimed Marius.

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"You see, then -"But without allowing her to proceed and taking gently her hand,"Let me tell you all," he interrupted, "and try with you to findan issue to this horrible situation. Strange rumors are afloatabout M. Favoral. It is said that his austerity was but a mask,his sordid economy a means of gaining confidence. It is affirmedthat in fact he abandoned himself to all sorts of disorders; thathe had, somewhere in Paris, an establishment, where he lavished themoney of which he was so sparing here. Is it so? The same thingis said of all those in whose hands large fortunes have melted."The young girl had become quite red.

"I believe that is true," she replied. "The commissary of policestated so to us. He found among my father's papers receipted billsfor a number of costly articles, which could only have been intendedfor a woman.

M. de Tregars looked perplexed.

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"And does any one know who this woman is?" he asked.

"Whoever she may be, I admit that she may have cost M. Favoralconsiderable sums. But can she have cost him twelve millions?""Precisely the remark which M. Chapelain made.""And which every sensible man must also make. I know very wellthat to conceal for years a considerable deficit is a costlyoperation, requiring purchases and sales, the handling and shiftingof funds, all of which is ruinous in the extreme. But, on the otherhand, M. Favoral was making money, a great deal of money. He wasrich: he was supposed to be worth millions. Otherwise, Costeclarwould never have asked your hand.""M. Chapelain pretends that at a certain time my father had at leastfifty thousand francs a year.""It's bewildering."For two or three minutes M. de Tregars remained silent, reviewingin his mind every imaginable eventuality, and then,"But no matter," he resumed. "As soon as I heard this morning theamount of the deficit, doubts came to my mind. And it is for thatreason, dear friend, that I was so anxious to see you and speak toyou. It would be necessary for me to know exactly what occurredhere last night."Rapidly, but without omitting a single useful detail, Mlle. Gilbertenarrated the scenes of the previous night - the sudden appearance ofM. de Thaller, the arrival of the commissary of police, M. Favoral'sescape, thanks to Maxence's presence of mind. Every one of herfather's words had remained present to her mind; and it was almostliterally that she repeated his strange speeches to his indignantfriends, and his incoherent remarks at the moment of flight, when,whilst acknowledging his fault, he said that he was not as guiltyas they thought; that, at any rate, he was not alone guilty; andthat he had been shamefully sacrificed. When she had finished,"That's exactly what I thought," said M. de Tregars.

"What?""M. Favoral accepted a role in one of those terrible financialdramas which ruin a thousand poor dupes to the benefit of two orthree clever rascals. Your father wanted to be rich: he neededmoney to carry on his intrigues. He allowed himself to be tempted.

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But whilst he believed himself one of the managers, called upon todivide the receipts, he was but a scene-shifter with a statedsalary. The moment of this denouement having come, his so-calledpartners disappeared through a trap-door with the cash, leavinghim alone, as they say, to face the music.""If that's the case," replied the young girl, "why didn't my fatherspeak?""What was he to say?""Name his accomplices.""And suppose he had no proofs of their complicity to offer? He wasthe cashier of the Mutual Credit; and it is from his cash that themillions are gone."Mlle. Gilberte's conjectures had run far ahead of that sentence.

Looking straight at Marius,"Then," she said, "you believe, as M. Capelan does, that M. deThaller -""Ah! M. Capelan thinks "-"That the manager of the Mutual Credit must have known the fact ofthe frauds.""And that he had his share of them?""A larger share than his cashier, yes."A singular smile curled M. de Tregars' lips. "Quite possible," hereplied: "that's quite possible."For the past few moments Mlle. Gilberte's embarrassment was quiteevident in her look. At last, overcoming her hesitation,"Pardon me," said she, "I had imagined that M. de Thaller was oneof those men whom you wished to strike; and I had indulged in thehope, that, whilst having justice done to your father, you werethinking, perhaps, of avenging mine."M. de Tregars stood up, as if moved by a spring. "Well, yes!" heexclaimed. "Yes, you have correctly guessed. But how can weobtain this double result? A single misstep at this moment mightlose all. Ah, if I only knew your father's real situation; if Icould only see him and speak to him! In one word he might, perhaps,place in my hands a sure weapon, - the weapon that I have as yetbeen unable to find.""Unfortunately," replied Mlle. Gilberte with a gesture of despair,"we are without news of my father; and he even refused to tell uswhere he expected to take refuge.""But he will write, perhaps. Besides, we might look for him,quietly, so as not to excite the suspicions of the police; and ifyour brother Maxence was only willing to help me -""Alas! I fear that Maxence may have other cares. He insisted upongoing out this morning, in spite of mother's request to the contrary."But Marius stopped her, and, in the tone of a man who knows muchmore than he is willing to say, - "Do not calumniate Maxence," hesaid: "it is through him, perhaps, that we will receive the helpthat we need."Eleven o'clock struck. Mlle. Gilberte started.

"Dear me!" she exclaimed, "mother will be home directly."M. de Tregars might as well have waited for her. Henceforth he hadnothing to conceal. Yet, after duly deliberating with the younggirl, they decided that he should withdraw, and that he would sendM. de Villegre to declare his intentions. He then left, and, fiveminutes later, Mine: Favoral and M. Capelan appeared.

The ex-attorney was furious; and he threw the package of bank-notesupon the table with a movement of rage.

"In order to return them to M. de Thaller," he exclaimed, "it was atleast necessary to see him. But the gentleman is invisible; keepshimself under lock and key, guarded by a perfect cloud of servantsin livery."Meantime, Mme. Favoral had approached her daughter.

"Your brother?" she asked in a whisper.

"He has not yet come home.""Dear me!" sighed the poor mother: "at such a time he forsakes us,and for whose sake?"

Mme. Favoral, usually so indulgent, was too severe this time; andit was very unjustly that she accused her son. She forgot, andwhat mother does not forget, that he was twenty-five years of age,that he was a man, and that, outside of the family and of herself,he must have his own interests and his passions, his affections andhis duties. Because he happened to leave the house for a few hours,Maxence was surely not forsaking either his mother or his sister.

It was not without a severe internal struggle that he had made uphis mind to go out, and, as he was going down the steps,"Poor mother," he thought. "I am sure I am making her very unhappy;but how can I help it?"This was the first time that he had been in the street since hisfarther's disaster had been known; and the impression produced uponhim was painful in the extreme. Formerly, when he walked throughthe Rue St. Gilles, that street where he was born, and where he usedto play as a boy, every one met him with a friendly nod or a familiarsmile. True he was then the son of a man rich and highly esteemed;whereas this morning not a hand was extended, not a hat raised, onhis passage. People whispered among themselves, and pointed himout with looks of hatred and irony. That was because he was nowthe son of the dishonest cashier tracked by the police, of the manwhose crime brought disaster upon so many innocent parties.

Mortified and ashamed, Maxence was hurrying on, his head down, hischeek burning, his throat parched, when, in front of a wine-shop,"Halloo!" said a man; "that's the son. What cheek!"And farther on, in front of the grocer's.

"I tell you what," said a woman in the midst of a group, "they stillhave more than we have."Then, for the first time, he understood with what crushing weighthis father's crime would weigh upon his whole life; and, whilstgoing up the Rue Terrain,"It's all over," he thought: "I can never get over it." And hewas thinking of changing his name, of emigrating to America, andhiding himself in the deserts of the Far West, when, a littlefarther on, he noticed a group of some thirty persons in frontof a newspaper-stand. The vender, a fat little man with a redface and an impudent look, was crying in a hoarse voice,"Here are the morning papers! The last editions! All about therobbery of twelve millions by a poor cashier. Buy the morningpapers!"And, to stimulate the sale of his wares, he added all sorts ofjokes of his own invention, saying that the thief belonged to theneighborhood; that it was quite flattering, etc.

The crowd laughed; and he went on,"The cashier Favoral's robbery! twelve millions! Buy the paper,and see how it's done."And so the scandal was public, irreparable. Maxence was listeninga few steps off. He felt like going; but an imperative feeling,stronger than his will, made him anxious to see what the papers said.