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four filled up," said the master of the ceremonies.

There had been no difficulty over persuading the agent for monuments.
He took a corner the more readily when he was shown the handsome pair
of gloves which, according to custom, was to be his property.

"A quarter to eleven! We absolutely must go down. They are waiting for
us at the church."

The six persons thus assembled went down the staircase.

The cold-blooded lawyer remained a moment to speak to the two women on
the landing. "Stop here, and let nobody come in," he said, "especially
if you wish to remain in charge, Mme. Cantinet. Aha! two francs a day,
you know!"

By a coincidence in nowise extraordinary in Paris, two hearses were
waiting at the door, and two coffins standing under the archway;
Cibot's funeral and the solitary state in which Pons was lying was
made even more striking in the street. Schmucke was the only mourner
that followed Pons' coffin; Schmucke, supported by one of the
undertaker's men, for he tottered at every step. From the Rue de
Normandie to the Rue d'Orleans and the Church of Saint-Francois the
two funerals went between a double row of curious onlookers for
everything (as was said before) makes a sensation in the quarter.
Every one remarked the splendor of the white funeral car, with a big
embroidered P suspended on a hatchment, and the one solitary mourner
behind it; while the cheap bier that came after it was followed by an
immense crowd. Happily, Schmucke was so bewildered by the throng of
idlers and the rows of heads in the windows, that he heard no remarks
and only saw the faces through a mist of tears.

"Oh, it is the nutcracker!" said one, "the musician, you know - "

"Who can the pall-bearers be?"

"Pooh! play-actors."

"I say, just look at poor old Cibot's funeral. There is one worker the
less. What a man! he could never get enough of work!"

"He never went out."

"He never kept Saint Monday."

"How fond he was of his wife!"

"Ah! There is an unhappy woman!"

Remonencq walked behind his victim's coffin. People condoled with him
on the loss of his neighbor.

The two funerals reached the church. Cantinet and the doorkeeper saw
that no beggars troubled Schmucke. Villemot had given his word that
Pons' heir should be left in peace; he watched over his client, and
gave the requisite sums; and Cibot's humble bier, escorted by sixty or
eighty persons, drew all the crowd after it to the cemetery. At the
church door Pons' funeral possession mustered four mourning-coaches,
one for the priest and three for the relations; but one only was
required, for the representative of the firm of Sonet departed during
mass to give notice to his principal that the funeral was on the way,
so that the design for the monument might be ready for the survivor at
the gates of the cemetery. A single coach sufficed for Fraisier,
Villemot, Schmucke, and Topinard; but the remaining two, instead of
returning to the undertaker, followed in the procession to
Pere-Lachaise - a useless procession, not unfrequently seen; there are
always too many coaches when the dead are unknown beyond their own
circle and there is no crowd at the funeral. Dear, indeed, the dead
must have been in their lifetime if relative or friend will go with
them so far as the cemetery in this Paris, where every one would fain
have twenty-five hours in the day. But with the coachmen it is
different; they lose their tips if they do not make the journey; so,
empty or full, the mourning coaches go to the church and cemetery and
return to the house for gratuities. A death is a sort of
drinking-fountain for an unimagined crowd of thirsty mortals. The
attendants at the church, the poor, the undertaker's men, the drivers
and sextons, are creatures like sponges that dip into a hearse and
come out again saturated.

From the church door, where he was beset with a swarm of beggars
(promptly dispersed by the beadle), to Pere-Lachaise, poor Schmucke
went as criminals went in old times from the Palais de Justice to the
Place de Greve. It was his own funeral that he followed, clinging to
Topinard's hand, to the one living creature besides himself who felt a
pang of real regret for Pons' death.

As for Topinard, greatly touched by the honor of the request to act as
pall-bearer, content to drive in a carriage, the possessor of a new
pair of gloves, - it began to dawn upon him that this was to be one of
the great days of his life. Schmucke was driven passively along the
road, as some unlucky calf is driven in a butcher's cart to the
slaughter-house. Fraisier and Villemot sat with their backs to the
horses. Now, as those know whose sad fortune it has been to accompany
many of their friends to their last resting-place, all hypocrisy
breaks down in the coach during the journey (often a very long one)
from the church to the eastern cemetery, to that one of the
burying-grounds of Paris in which all vanities, all kinds of display,
are met, so rich is it in sumptuous monuments. On these occasions those
who feel least begin to talk soonest, and in the end the saddest listen,
and their thoughts are diverted.

"M. le President had already started for the Court." Fraisier told
Villemot, "and I did not think it necessary to tear him away from
business; he would have come too late, in any case. He is the
next-of-kin; but as he has been disinherited, and M. Schmucke gets
everything, I thought that if his legal representative were present
it would be enough."

Topinard lent an ear to this.

"Who was the queer customer that took the fourth corner?" continued
Fraisier.

"He is an agent for a firm of monumental stone-masons. He would like
an order for a tomb, on which he proposes to put three sculptured
marble figures - Music, Painting, and Sculpture shedding tears over the
deceased."

"It is an idea," said Fraisier; "the old gentleman certainly deserved
that much; but the monument would cost seven or eight hundred francs."

"Oh! quite that!"

"If M. Schmucke gives the order, it cannot affect the estate. You
might eat up a whole property with such expenses."

"There would be a lawsuit, but you would gain it - "

"Very well," said Fraisier, "then it will be his affair. - It would be
a nice practical joke to play upon the monument-makers," Fraisier
added in Villemot's ear; "for if the will is upset (and I can answer
for that), or if there is no will at all, who would pay them?"

Villemot grinned like a monkey, and the pair began to talk
confidentially, lowering their voices; but the man from the theatre,
with his wits and senses sharpened in the world behind the scenes,
could guess at the nature of their discourse; in spite of the rumbling
of the carriage and other hindrances, he began to understand that
these representatives of justice were scheming to plunge poor Schmucke
into difficulties; and when at last he heard the ominous word
"Clichy," the honest and loyal servitor of the stage made up his mind
to watch over Pons' friend.

At the cemetery, where three square yards of ground had been purchased
through the good offices of the firm of Sonet (Villemot having
announced Schmucke's intention of erecting a magnificent monument),
the master of ceremonies led Schmucke through a curious crowd to the
grave into which Pons' coffin was about to be lowered; but here, at
the sight of the square hole, the four men waiting with ropes to lower
the bier, and the clergy saying the last prayer for the dead at the
grave-side, something clutched tightly at the German's heart. He
fainted away.

Sonet's agent and M. Sonet himself came to help Topinard to carry poor
Schmucke into the marble-works hard by, where Mme. Sonet and Mme.
Vitelot (Sonet's partner's wife) were eagerly prodigal of efforts to
revive him. Topinard stayed. He had seen Fraisier in conversation with
Sonet's agent, and Fraisier, in his opinion, had gallows-bird written
on his face.

An hour later, towards half-past two o'clock, the poor, innocent
German came to himself. Schmucke thought that he had been dreaming for
the past two days; if he could only wake, he should find Pons still
alive. So many wet towels had been laid on his forehead, he had been
made to inhale salts and vinegar to such an extent, that he opened his
eyes at last. Mme. Sonet make him take some meat-soup, for they had
put the pot on the fire at the marble-works.

"Our clients do not often take things to heart like this; still, it
happens once in a year or two - "

At last Schmucke talked of returning to the Rue de Normandie, and at
this Sonet began at once.

"Here is the design, sir," he said; "Vitelot drew it expressly for
you, and sat up last night to do it. . . . And he has been happily
inspired, it will look fine - "

"One of the finest in Pere-Lachaise!" said the little Mme. Sonet. "But
you really ought to honor the memory of a friend who left you all his
fortune."

The design, supposed to have been drawn on purpose, had, as a matter
of fact, been prepared for de Marsay, the famous cabinet minister. His
widow, however, had given the commission to Stidmann; people were
disgusted with the tawdriness of the project, and it was refused. The
three figures at that period represented the three days of July which
brought the eminent minister to power. Subsequently, Sonet and Vitelot
had turned the Three Glorious Days - "_les trois glorieuses_" - into the
Army, Finance, and the Family, and sent in the design for the
sepulchre of the late lamented Charles Keller; and here again Stidmann
took the commission. In the eleven years that followed, the sketch had
been modified to suit all kinds of requirements, and now in Vitelot's
fresh tracing they reappeared as Music, Sculpture, and Painting.

"It is a mere trifle when you think of the details and cost of setting
it up; for it will take six months," said Vitelot. "Here is the
estimate and the order-form - seven thousand francs, sketch in plaster
not included."

"If M. Schmucke would like marble," put in Sonet (marble being his
special department), "it would cost twelve thousand francs, and
monsieur would immortalize himself as well as his friend."

Topinard turned to Vitelot.

"I have just heard that they are going to dispute the will," he
whispered, "and the relatives are likely to come by their property. Go
and speak to M. Camusot, for this poor, harmless creature has not a
farthing."

"This is the kind of customer that you always bring us," said Mme.
Vitelot, beginning a quarrel with the agent.

Topinard led Schmucke away, and they returned home on foot to the Rue
de Normandie, for the mourning-coaches had been sent back.

"Do not leaf me," Schmucke said, when Topinard had seen him safe into
Mme. Sauvage's hands, and wanted to go.

"It is four o'clock, dear M. Schmucke. I must go home to dinner. My
wife is a box-opener - she will not know what has become of me. The
theatre opens at a quarter to six, you know."

"Yes, I know . . . but remember dat I am alone in die earth, dat I haf
no friend. You dat haf shed a tear for Bons enliden me; I am in teep
tarkness, und Bons said dat I vas in der midst of shcoundrels."

"I have seen that plainly already; I have just prevented them from
sending you to Clichy."

"_Gligy!_" repeated Schmucke; "I do not understand."

"Poor man! Well, never mind, I will come to you. Good-bye."

"Goot-bye; komm again soon," said Schmucke, dropping half-dead with
weariness.

"Good-bye, mosieu," said Mme. Sauvage, and there was something in her
tone that struck Topinard.

"Oh, come, what is the matter now?" he asked, banteringly. "You are
attitudinizing like a traitor in a melodrama."

"Traitor yourself! Why have you come meddling here? Do you want to
have a hand in the master's affairs, and swindle him, eh?"

"Swindle him! . . . Your very humble servant!" Topinard answered with
superb disdain. "I am only a poor super at a theatre, but I am
something of an artist, and you may as well know that I never asked
anything of anybody yet! Who asked anything of you? Who owes you
anything? eh, old lady!"

"You are employed at a theatre, and your name is - ?"

"Topinard, at your service."

"Kind regards to all at home," said La Sauvage, "and my compliments to
your missus, if you are married, mister. . . . That was all I wanted
to know."

"Why, what is the matter, dear?" asked Mme. Cantinet, coming out.

"This, child - stop here and look after the dinner while I run round to
speak to monsieur."

"He is down below, talking with poor Mme. Cibot, that is crying her
eyes out," said Mme. Cantinet.

La Sauvage dashed down in such headlong haste that the stairs trembled
beneath her tread.

"Monsieur!" she called, and drew him aside a few paces to point out
Topinard.

Topinard was just going away, proud at heart to have made some return
already to the man who had done him so many kindnesses. He had saved
Pons' friend from a trap, by a stratagem from that world behind the
scenes in which every one has more or less ready wit. And within
himself he vowed to protect a musician in his orchestra from future
snares set for his simple sincerity.

"Do you see that little wretch?" said La Sauvage. "He is a kind of
honest man that has a mind to poke his nose into M. Schmucke's
affairs."

"Who is he?" asked Fraisier.

"Oh! he is a nobody."

"In business there is no such thing as a nobody."

"Oh, he is employed at the theatre," said she; "his name is Topinard."

"Good, Mme. Sauvage! Go on like this, and you shall have your
tobacconist's shop."

And Fraisier resumed his conversation with Mme. Cibot.

"So I say, my dear client, that you have not played openly and
above-board with me, and that one is not bound in any way to a
partner who cheats."

"And how have I cheated you?" asked La Cibot, hands on hips. "Do you
think that you will frighten me with your sour looks and your frosty
airs? You look about for bad reasons for breaking your promises, and
you call yourself an honest man! Do you know what you are? You are a
blackguard! Yes! yes! scratch your arm; but just pocket that - "

"No words, and keep your temper, dearie. Listen to me. You have been
feathering your nest. . . . I found this catalogue this morning while
we were getting ready for the funeral; it is all in M. Pons'
handwriting, and made out in duplicate. And as it chanced, my eyes
fell on this - "

And opening the catalogue, he read:

"No. 7. _Magnificent portrait painted on marble, by Sebastian del
Piombo, in 1546. Sold by a family who had it removed from Terni
Cathedral. The picture, which represents a Knight-Templar kneeling
in prayer, used to hang above a tomb of the Rossi family with a
companion portrait of a Bishop, afterwards purchased by an
Englishman. The portrait might be attributed to Raphael, but for
the date. This example is, to my mind, superior to the portrait of
Baccio Bandinelli in the Musee; the latter is a little hard, while
the Templar, being painted upon 'lavagna,' or slate, has preserved
its freshness of coloring._"

"When I come to look for No. 7," continued Fraisier, "I find a
portrait of a lady, signed 'Chardin,' without a number on it! I went
through the pictures with the catalogue while the master of ceremonies
was making up the number of pall-bearers, and found that eight of
those indicated as works of capital importance by M. Pons had
disappeared, and eight paintings of no special merit, and without
numbers, were there instead. . . . And finally, one was missing
altogether, a little panel-painting by Metzu, described in the
catalogue as a masterpiece."

"And was _I_ in charge of the pictures?" demanded La Cibot.

"No; but you were in a position of trust. You were M. Pons'
housekeeper, you looked after his affairs, and he has been robbed - "

"Robbed! Let me tell you this, sir: M. Schmucke sold the pictures, by
M. Pons' orders, to meet expenses."

"And to whom?"

"To Messrs. Elie Magus and Remonencq."

"For how much?"

"I am sure I do not remember."

"Look here, my dear madame; you have been feathering your nest, and
very snugly. I shall keep an eye upon you; I have you safe. Help me, I
will say nothing! In any case, you know that since you deemed it
expedient to plunder M. le President Camusot, you ought not to expect
anything from _him_."

"I was sure that this would all end in smoke, for me," said La Cibot,
mollified by the words "I will say nothing."

Remonencq chimed in at this point.

"Here are you finding fault with Mme. Cibot; that is not right!" he
said. "The pictures were sold by private treaty between M. Pons, M.
Magus, and me. We waited for three days before we came to terms with
the deceased; he slept on his pictures. We took receipts in proper
form; and if we gave Madame Cibot a few forty-franc pieces, it is the
custom of the trade - we always do so in private houses when we
conclude a bargain. Ah! my dear sir, if you think to cheat a
defenceless woman, you will not make a good bargain! Do you
understand, master lawyer? - M. Magus rules the market, and if you do
not come down off the high horse, if you do not keep your word to Mme.
Cibot, I shall wait till the collection is sold, and you shall see
what you will lose if you have M. Magus and me against you; we can get
the dealers in a ring. Instead of realizing seven or eight hundred
thousand francs, you will not so much as make two hundred thousand."

"Good, good, we shall see. We are not going to sell; or if we do, it
will be in London."

"We know London," said Remonencq. "M. Magus is as powerful there as at
Paris."

"Good-day, madame; I shall sift these matters to the bottom," said
Fraisier - "unless you continue to do as I tell you" he added.

"You little pickpocket! - "

"Take care! I shall be a justice of the peace before long." And with
threats understood to the full upon either side, they separated.

"Thank you, Remonencq!" said La Cibot; "it is very pleasant to a poor
widow to find a champion."



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?"

"No, sir."

"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 - "

"Sir! - "

"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



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