thing done on the spur of the moment, you, I say,
are very bitter and very cruel."
"So you formally request me to defend you before
the jury, do you?"
"Why, yes, my dear fellow; I see no other hands
in which I can place my case. I might pay some
high and mighty gentleman at the Palais an absurd
fee, and he not defend me as skilfully as you
"Well, I refuse; our respective roles, you see,
are exactly changed ; yesterday I thought, as you do
to-day, that I was the man for the case ; to-day I
think that you really ought to retain somebody at
the top of the profession, because, with Vinet's
antagonism, the affair has assumed proportions
which impose a truly alarming responsibility upon
the man who undertakes to defend you."
"I understand," sneered Thuillier; "Monsieur
has always had his eye on the magistracy, and he
doesn't want to have any trouble with a man who
126 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
has been mentioned as Keeper of the Seals. That's
very prudent of you, but I don't know how far it
will advance your marriage."
"That is to say," retorted La Peyrade, catching
the ball on the bound, "that to extricate you from
the claws of the jury is the thirteenth task of Her-
cules which I must perform in order to deserve Ma-
demoiselle Colleville's hand. I suspected that your
demands would multiply in proportion to the proofs
of my devotion, but that is just what's tiring me
out, and to cut short this exploitation of one man by
another, 1 came here this morning to tell you that I
give you back your word: so you are at liberty to
dispose of Celeste's hand; so far as I am concerned,
I make no claim to it"
The shock of this downright declaration left
Thuillier speechless, fortunately as it happened, as
Brigitte entered at that moment The housekeeper's
mood was also considerably milder than on the pre-
ceding day and her greeting was charmingly familiar
"Ah! here you are," she said to La Peyrade,
"you rascal of an advocate!"
"Mademoiselle, I salute you," replied the advo-
"Well," continued the old maid without paying
any attention to La Peyrade's ceremonious air,
"the government's got itself into a pretty fix by
seizing your pamphlet! You ought to see how the
newspapers worry 'em this morning! Look here,"
she added, handing Thuillier a small sheet, printed
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 127
on papier & sucre in large but almost illegible char-
acters, "here's one you haven't read; the concierge
just brought it up; it's a paper published in our old
quarter, the Echo de la Bifrvre. I don't know if you
agree with me, gentlemen, but it seems to me that
the article couldn't have been better written. It's
strange though, how little attention these news-
paper men pay to things : they write your name
without the h. Seems to me you might claim dam-
ages for it"
Thuillier took the paper and read the article in-
spired by the stomachic gratitude of the editor-in-
chief of the tanners' journal. Brigitte had never
paid any attention to newspapers except to see if
they were large enough to do up packages in, but,
having been suddenly converted to the worship of
the press by the ardor of her sisterly love, she
stationed herself behind Thuillier, and looked over
his shoulder, reading with him the salient passages
of the sheet that had seemed so eloquent to her, and
emphasizing them with her finger.
"Yes," said Thuillier folding the paper, "it is
zealous and very flattering to me But here's some-
thing very different ! Monsieur here insists upon
it that he won't defend me, and says that he gives
up his claim to Celeste's hand."
"That is to say," rejoined Brigitte, "he gives it
up unless we'll marry him off in double-quick time
after the trial. For my part, I think his conditions
are very reasonable, poor boy. When he has done
that for us, there sha'n't be any more postponing,
128 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
and whether Mademoiselle Celeste falls in with the
idea or not, she must accept, for there's a limit to
everything, you know."
"You hear, my dear fellow," said La Peyrade,
seizing upon Brigitte's suggestion, "the marriage
shall take place when I have tried your case. Your
sister is frankness itself and doesn't employ the least
"Diplomacy!" repeated Brigitte. "Oh! I pro-
pose to take a hand in the matter now. I say things
as they come into my mind; the workman has done
his work, and he must be paid for his trouble."
"Hold your tongue!" cried Thuillier, stamping on
the floor; "you don't say a word that doesn't turn
the dagger in the wound."
"What's that! the dagger in the wound?"
Brigitte repeated; "hoity-toity! are you at logger-
"I told you, " said Thuillier, "that La Peyrade
had given us back our promise, and his reason is
that we demand something else of him before giving
him Celeste's hand; he thinks he's done enough for
"He has done a good deal for us, no doubt,"
replied Brigitte, "but it don't strike me that we've
been ungrateful to him. Besides, he's made all the
trouble, and it's a pretty good one for him to leave
us in the lurch now."
"Your reasoning, my dear young lady," said La
Peyrade, "might seem unanswerable, if there were
no other lawyer than myself in Paris; but as the
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 129
streets are paved with them, and as Thuillier him-
self spoke yesterday of retaining a man of standing
in the profession, I haven't the slightest scruple
about refusing to undertake his defence. Now, as
to the marriage in question, in order that it may
not be again made the pretext for some brutal, bold-
faced bargain, I hereby resign my pretensions in
the most formal way, and nothing need prevent
Mademoiselle Colleville from accepting all the ad-
vantages that go with Monsieur Phellion."
"As you please, my dear sir," retorted Brigitte;
"if that's your last word we sha'n't be hard put to it
to find a husband for Celeste, young Phellion or
somebody else ; but allow me to tell you that the
reason you give isn't the true one; for, after all's
said and done, we can't go any faster than the vio-
lins; even if we decided on the marriage to-day, the
banns would have to be published ; you know enough
to understand that the mayor can't marry you until
you've gone through with all the formalities, and
between now and then Thuillier will have been
"Yes," retorted La Peyrade, "and if I lose the
case I shall be the one who sends Thuillier to prison,
just as I was the one yesterday who was responsi-
ble for the seizure."
"Goodness, I should say that if you hadn't written
anything the police wouldn't have found anything
to snap at"
"My dear girl," interposed Thuillier, seeing La
Peyrade shrug his shoulders, "your reasoning is
130 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
very bad, for the reason that the pamphlet isn't in-
dictable in any sense of the word. It isn't La Pey-
rade's fault that influential men have started out
to persecute me. You remember that little deputy
king's-attorney, Monsieur Olivier Vinet, Cardot
brought to one of our receptions; it seems he
and his father are in a rage because we wouldn't
take him for Celeste, and they have sworn to
"Well, why did we refuse him," said Brigitte,
"if it wasn't for monsieur's fine eyes? A deputy-
attorney at Paris, you know, wasn't a bad sort of
"No doubt," said La Peyrade carelessly; "but he
didn't bring a dowry of a round million in his
"Ah!" cried Brigitte, warming to the subject, "if
you're going to talk about the house you helped us
buy I'll just tell you that, if you'd had the money
yourself to put out to cheat the notary out of it,
you'd never have come to us. You mustn't think,
you see, that you've pulled the wool over my eyes
altogether; you were talking about bargains just
now, but this was your own proposition: 'Give
me Celeste, and I'll give you the house;' that's
what you gave us to understand in so many words;
and even then we had to make sacrifices we didn't
"Come, Brigitte," said Thuillier, "you're talk-
"Nonsense! nonsense!" repeated Brigitte. "Did
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 131
we or didn't we have to put out more than the sum
"My dear Thuillier," said La Peyrade, "I agree
with you that the question is thrashed out and that
it will only embitter matters to keep saying the
same things over and over again. My mind was
made up before I came; all that I have heard has
only confirmed me in that decision; 1 shall not be
your son-in-law, but we'll be good friends just the
And he rose to take his leave.
"One moment, Monsieur 1'Avocat," thereupon
said Brigitte, stepping across his path; "there's one
subject that I don't consider thrashed out and, now
that we are not to have a common purse any more,
I shouldn't mind if you would be kind enough to tell
me what became of a matter of ten thousand francs
Thuillier turned over to you for those curs in the
department, who were to get us the Cross we haven't
"Brigitte," exclaimed Thuillier in agony, "you
have a hellish tongue: you weren't to know any-
thing about that little detail, which I told you when
I was in a bad humor, and you promised not to open
your mouth about it to anybody whosoever."
"True; but we're dissolving partnership now,"
rejoined the implacable Brigitte, "and when we
dissolve, we settle up. Ten thousand francs! I
thought that was pretty high for a real cross; but
for a cross that don't materialize, monsieur will
agree that it's out of all reason."
132 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
"Look here, La Peyrade, my friend," said Thuil-
lier, walking up to the advocate, who was livid with
rage, "don't listen to Brigitte; her affection for me
turns her head ; I know well enough what the depart-
ments are, and I shouldn't be surprised if you had
put in a little of your own money too."
"Monsieur," replied La Peyrade, "unfortunately
I am not in a position to send you, as soon as I
return home, the sum for which I have been called
to account with such insulting brutality. But per-
haps you will give me a little time, and if you care
to accept a note to help you to be patient, I am ready
to give it to you."
"To the devil with your note!" said Thuillier;
''you owe me nothing, and in reality we are still in
debt to you, for Cardot told me that you ought to
have at least ten thousand francs for the magnifi-
cent bargain you put in our way."
"Cardot! Cardot!" said Brigitte, "he's very
generous with other people's money ! We gave him
Celeste, that was much better than ten thousand
La Peyrade was too accomplished an actor not to
find in the humiliation he was forced to undergo an
opportunity for an effective denoument With tears
in his voice, which were not long in rising to his
eyes, he said :
"Mademoiselle, when I first had the honor of be-
ing received at your house, I was a poor man, and
you saw that for a long while I was distressed and
ill at ease, because I knew that poverty exposes one
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 133
to every sort of indignity. From the day when I
was able to bring you the fortune which I did not
seek for myself, I felt more assurance, and your
very kindness encouraged me to shake off my tim-
idity and self-abasement To-day, when I in my
loyalty to you take a step which takes a great load
off your mind, for, if you would deal frankly with
me, you would acknowledge that you have dreamed
of another husband for Celeste, we might abandon
an idea which my sense of delicacy forbids me to
pursue, and nevertheless remain friends. All that
was necessary for that was for us not to overstep
the limits of that courtesy of which you have a
model before you every day, for, although Madame
de Godollo does not look favorably upon me, I am
sure that her good breeding would not allow her to
approve of your shameful performance. But, thank
heaven, I have some religious feeling in my heart;
the Gospel is not a dead letter in my eyes, and un-
derstand, mademoiselle, I forgive you: not to Thuil-
lier, who would not accept them, but to you, as my
only revenge, I will shortly repay the ten thousand
francs, which I have, in your opinion, used for my
own purposes. When you have them in your
hands, if you should have laid aside your unjust
suspicions, and should feel any scruple about using
the money, you can turn it over to the bureau of
"The bureau of charity!" cried Brigitte, inter-
rupting him, "thanks! to be distributed to a parcel
of lazy louts and pious frauds who go junketing on
134 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
it after 'eating the Good Lord' taking the Sacra-
ment. I have been poor too, my boy, and for a
long time I made bags to put other people's money
in before I put in any of my own ; I have some now
and I'll keep it; so, when you please I'm all ready
to receive it ; so much the worse for you, if you
don't know how to do the business you undertake,
and shoot off all your powder at sparrows."
Seeing that he had missed his mark and had made
no impression on Brigitte's granite surface, La Pey-
rade glanced disdainfully at her, and stalked majes-
He noticed thatThuillier made a motion to detain
him, but an imperious gesture from Brigitte, still as
always queen and mistress, nailed her brother to
Upon his return home the advocate completed his
emancipation by writing to Madame Colleville that,
as his projected marriage to Celeste was broken off,
he felt compelled, by a sense of propriety as well as
by his instinctive delicacy, to cease his visits to her.
The next day Colleville, on his way to his office,
went up to La Peyrade's quarters and asked him
what all that stuff was that he had written to Flavie,
whom it had driven to despair, he said.
The advocate assumed his most solemn expression
as he repeated to the husband the by no means
amorous epistle he had indited to the wife.
"And that's what you call being a friend, is it?"
said Colleville, who, as the reader will remember,
had for a long time been on familiar terms with the
Provencal. "You don't choose to marry: is that a
reason for falling out with the girl's parents? It
looks like holding us responsible for the words you
may have had with the Thuilliers. Is that our
affair ? Hasn't my wife always treated you well ?"
"I have no reason to do aught but congratulate
myself upon Madame Colleville's kindness to me,"
replied La Peyrade.
"And is that why you want to kill her with
grief? She's had her handkerchief in her hand ever
since she had your letter : I tell you she'll get sick
136 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
"Listen to me, my dear Colleville," said La Pey-
rade; "I owe you the truth and you are entitled to
hear it : apart from the fact that I cannot now meet
Mademoiselle Celeste "
"Well, then you sha'n't meet her," Colleville
interrupted; "when you come the little one shall go
to her room ; besides it won't be long before she's
"Very good; but I ought to say in addition that
my frequent visits at your house have been made a
subject of slander, and malicious reports have been
circulated. It is my wish no less than my duty to
put an end to them."
"What!" cried the husband, "a man of your
common sense take any notice of such trash! You
undertake to prevent people's tongues from wagging ?
Why they've been talking about my wife twenty-
five years because she's built on a little better
model than Brigitte and Madame Thuillier. In that
case I'm more of a Spartan than you, for all their
chatter has never caused me fifteen minutes' unhap-
piness at home."
"Well," said La Peyrade, "although I honor
you for it, because it bespeaks a noble heart, I
believe that this contempt for public opinion is im-
"Nonsense!" said Colleville; "I trample on pub-
lic opinion, the vile hussy ! Minard's the one who
starts the reports, because his great fat cook of a
wife never attracted an honest man's notice. He
would do much better, would Monsieur le Maire, to
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 137
keep his eye on the conduct of his son, who's ruining
himself with a former actress at Bobino's."
"You must try to make Flavie listen to reason,
my dear fellow," said La Peyrade.
"Good!" said Colleville, energetically shaking
the advocate's hand; "you call her Flavie as you
used to do, and I've found my friend again."
"Certainly," rejoined La Peyrade, in a less effu-
sive tone, "friends are always friends."
"Yes, friends are friends," echoed Colleville;
"friendship! a gift from the gods, which consoles us
for all the crooked things in life ! So it's understood
that you will come and see my wife, and restore
tranquillity and peace in my unhappy household."
La Peyrade promised in a vague way, and when
he was rid of his importunate friend he asked him-
self whether this peculiar marital temperament,
which is more common than people imagine, was
genuine or a bit of comedy.
As the advocate was preparing to go and deposit
at the countess's feet the homage of the freedom he
had recovered with so little ceremony, he received
a perfumed note which made his heart beat fast ; he
recognized on the seal the famous device : All or
Nothing, which had been given him as the guiding
precept of his new relations.
" Dear Monsieur," said Madame de Godollo, " I have
learned your decision thanks ! But now I must prepare to
carry out my own, for you cannot suppose that I have any
idea of pitching my tent forever in a social circle with which
we have so little in common, and where there is no longer
138 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
anything to detain me. To arrange for my departure and to
avoid the necessity of explaining why the entresol should
afford shelter to the voluntary exile from the first floor, I
shall need to-day and to-morrow. So don't come to see me
until the day after to-morrow. By that time I shall have sold
iBrigitte out, as they say on the Bourse, and 1 shall have
many things to tell you.
"COMTESSE DE GODOLLO."
The Latin rendering of Tout & vous delighted La
Peyrade, nor was he surprised at it, as Latin is a sort
of second national tongue in Hungary. The two days
of waiting to which he was condemned added more
fuel to the ardent flame of the passion that had
taken possession of him, and on the appointed day,
when he reached the house on Boulevard de la
Madeleine, his love had attained a white heat, of
which, a few days earlier, he would not have be-
lieved himself susceptible.
This time La Peyrade was seen by the concierge's
wife ; but, aside from the fact that it might be supposed
that he was on his way to the Thuilliers', it was a
matter of indifference to him whether she knew the
real purpose of his visit or not. The ice was broken
now, his good fortune was official, and he was more
disposed to shout it from the house tops than to
make a mystery of it
Running quickly up the stairs, he was preparing
to ring the bell, when, as he put out his hand to
grasp the silk cord beside the door, he found that it
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 139
La Peyrade's first thought was that some severe
indisposition of the kind that renders the slightest
noise unendurable to the sufferer might explain the
removal of the missing object; but several other
things that caught his eye at the same time tended
to weaken that explanation, which was not, at best,
From the vestibule to the countess's door, a stair
carpet, held in place by a copper rod on every stair,
formerly made the ascent soft and pleasant to the
visitor's feet; this carpet had been removed.
The door-recess was ordinarily enclosed by a
porch covered with green velvet and supported by
gilded rods; of this arrangement there was now no
sign except some marks made upon the wall by the
workmen in taking it away.
For a moment the advocate thought, in his bewil-
derment, that he had made a mistake in the floor,
but, by glancing over the stair-rail, he satisfied him-
self that he had not passed the entresol. Did it
mean that Madame de Godollo was already moving?
The Provencal thereupon submitted to the neces-
sity of announcing his presence to the great lady as
one does to a grisette; but the door gave back
beneath his knock that sonorous hollow sound which
indicates emptiness within intonuere cavernce and
at the same time he noticed, under the door at which
he was vainly pleading with his clenched fist, the
brighter light which indicates an unoccupied room,
where there are no curtains, no carpets, no furniture
to deaden the sound and diminish the light
140 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
Forced at last to believe that the removal was an
accomplished fact, La Peyrade came to the conclu-
sion that, at the time of the rupture with Brigitte,
some brutality or other on the old maid's part had
driven the countess to adopt this radical and hasty
measure; but how happened it that he had not been
advised of it, and what was the idea of leaving him
in this absurd predicament, which the common peo-
ple describe so picturesquely by the expression :
"Finding a wooden face?"
Before leaving the building, as if there were still
room for doubt, La Peyrade decided to make one
last violent assault upon the door.
"Who's that knocking as if he'd knock the house
down?" shouted the concierge, attracted to the foot
of the stairs by the noise.
"Doesn't Madame de Godollo live here now?"
asked La Peyrade.
"Certainly she don't live here now, when she's
moved away. If monsieur had told me he was
going to call on her I might have saved him the
trouble of breaking down the door."
"I knew that she was to give up her apartment,"
said La Peyrade, not choosing to appear ignorant of
her purpose to move, "but I didn't think she was to
make the change so soon."
"Must a' been in a hurry," said the concierge,
"for she went off in a post-chaise this morning."
"Went off in a post-chaise!" echoed La Peyrade
in utter amazement "Has she left Paris, pray?"
"It's reasonable to think so," retorted the terrible
THE PETTY BOURGEOIS 141
concierge; "it ain't the fashion to take horses and
a postilion to move from one quarter to another."
"And she didn't tell you where she was going?"
"Ah! monsieur has curious ideas if he thinks
people tell us anything!"
"No; but her letters, if any come for her after
she's gone? "
"Her letters she told me to give them to Mon-
sieur le Commandeur, the little old fellow who came
to see her so often ; monsieur must have met him up
"Oh! yes, to be sure," said La Peyrade, retaining
his presence of mind under the blows he was receiv-
ing in rapid succession ; "the little old man with the
powdered wig who came almost every day?"
"Not exactly every day, but he came often : well,
he's the man I'm to give Madame la Comtesse's
"And she gave you no message for others of her
acquaintances?" inquired the Provencal carelessly.
"Not any, monsieur."
"Very well, my good woman," said La Peyrade;
And he started to go.
"But I think mademoiselle must know more about
it than me," said the concierge; "ain't you going
up, monsieur? she's at home, and so's Monsieur
"No, it's no matter," said La Peyrade; "I came
to acquit myself of a commission Madame de Go-
dollo gave me. I haven't time to stop."
142 THE PETTY BOURGEOIS
"Well, as I tell you, she went off this morning by
post Why, bless my soul ! two hours ago, monsieur,
you'd a' found her ; but she went by post, so she
must be a long ways off by this time."
Her fashion of always saying things twice gave
this woman, who had given the Provencal such
heart-rending information, the appearance of insist-
ing upon the details which were calculated to inflict
the keenest torture upon him. He left the house
with despair in his heart Aside from the distress
caused by her precipitate departure, jealousy had
taken possession of him, and in the agony of his
horrible disappointment the most heart-breaking
explanations suggested themselves to his mind:
"These diplomatic women," he said to himself,
after musing an instant, "are often entrusted with
secret missions, in which the most absolute discre-
tion and extremely rapid evolutions are necessary.
But suppose," he exclaimed with a sudden tran-
sition/'she is one of those scheming creatures whom
foreign governments employ as their agents ? Sup-
pose that more or less probable story of the Russian
princess compelled to sell her furniture to Brigitte
was the story of my Hungarian lady herself ? How-
ever," he added, his brain taking another turn in its
frightful confusion of ideas and emotions, "her edu-