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great earnestness:

" To the progress of the culinary art in France ! The
old Romans may have had more dishes than we on their
tables, but probably they were less satisfying."

Mademoiselle Malvina, determined to propose a toast
of her own, raised her glass and cried :

" I toast for very long ballets and very short skirts,
in the interest of the dancers and of everybody who likes
a high kick."

None of the ladies chose to lag behind ; Ccelina drank
to her squirrel's health, Rosina to her cat's, and Foedora
to her cousin's, who was in the Chasseurs d'Afrique.
Monsieur Poterne drank to nobody's health, but he kept
his back turned to the table, and swallowed an appalling
quantity of champagne. A terrible crash interrupted
the toasts : Jasmin had dropped a pile of plates that time,
and the floor was strewn with debris of crockery.

" This will be rather an expensive dinner," said
Darena ; " one must needs be very rich to indulge in such
servants as this old Jasmin."

Meanwhile the frequent toasts had excited the guests
to some extent. Malvina, who could not keep still, began
to dance a very pronounced cancan ; Coelina and Rosina
attempted the Cracovienne ; Foedora waltzed with Darena,
and Monsieur Gerondif, finding that everything about
him was in a whirl, although he did not leave his chair,
called loudly upon Malvina for a second performance of
the Mozambique dance, with all its accessories.


Monsieur d'Hurbain, who had retained his presence
of mind, thought that it was time to take Cherubin away ;
he took the young marquis's arm, motioned to Monfre-
ville, and to the tutor, who left the table with regret, and,
picking out a path through the broken crockery, they
left the restaurant and entered a carriage which took them
to the hotel de Grandvilain, not observing that Jasmin,
who had followed them, had succeeded in climbing up
behind, with the assistance of a messenger.

" Aren't we going back to Gagny ? " inquired Cherubin,
when he found himself in the carriage.

" It is impossible to-night, my dear friend, it is much
too late," said Monsieur d'Hurbain. " To-morrow, or a
few days hence, you will think about it. Since you are in
Paris, you should at least get acquainted with the city."

" Yes," mumbled Monsieur Gerondif, whose tongue
was very thick, " Cras, to-morrow ; eras mane, to-mor-
row morning; perendinus dies, day after to-morrow
no matter when ! "

" And with your permission," said Monfreville, " I will
undertake to be your guide, and to show you all that a
young man of your rank should know."

Cherubin made no reply ; he would have liked to return
to Gagny ; but the delicious repast of which he had just
partaken had aroused a new train of ideas in his mind,
and he had heard so much of the pleasures that awaited
him in Paris, of which he had already had such a pleasant
specimen, that he finally said to himself:

" After all, as long as I am in the city, I may as well
see at once all the wonderful things I have heard so
much about; and when I go back to Louise I shall have
lots of things to tell her, at all events."

The cab arrived at the mansion in Faubourg Saint-
Germain; the porte cochere was thrown open. The


equipage had no sooner entered the courtyard than the
ears of the young marquis and his companions were as-
sailed by some most extraordinary music. They heard
the strains of several barrel-organs, several violins and
two or three clarinets, playing at the same time, but
playing different tunes. Male and female voices too,
shrill and false, roared ancient airs, laments, or vaude-
ville choruses. The general result was a horrible medley
of sounds.

The occupants of the carriage were asking one another
what it could mean, when they heard a dull thud on the
pavement, as if caused by the fall of a heavy body. They
recognized Jasmin, who, when he attempted to climb
down from behind the cab, had fallen in the middle
of the courtyard. But the dauntless retainer was already
on his feet, crying:

" It's nothing ; I just slipped. Monsieur le marquis,
I ordered this concert musicians and singers in honor
of your return to your paternal mansion. Long life to
the new Marquis de Grandvilain ! "

Cherubin thanked Jasmin for his kind intentions, but
begged him instantly to dismiss those people, who were
making such a horrible din. Monsieur d'Hurbain and
Monfreville bade the young man good-night, commend-
ing him in whispers to the care of his tutor, who was not
in a condition to understand what they said ; then they
left him to enjoy the repose which he was likely to need.

When the strangers had gone, Jasmin asked Cherubin
if he wished to pass his servants in review ; and Made-
moiselle Turlurette, who was overjoyed to see her young
master, proposed that he inspect the linen closets and
the servants' quarters, so that he might become ac-
quainted with his establishment and see how things had
been managed since his father's death. But Cherubin


had no desire to take all that trouble ; pleasure is fatigu-
ing when one is not accustomed to it, and the young
marquis wanted nothing except to go to bed.

When he saw the immense room which was to be his
bedroom, where there was an old-fashioned bed, reached
by a set of steps, and surrounded by enormous curtains of
crimson velvet, Cherubin made a wry face and exclaimed :

" Oh ! how ugly it is here ! I liked my little room at
my nurse's much better; it was more cheerful! I am
going back there to-morrow, for it seems to me that I
can't sleep well here."

But at sixteen years and a half, after a tiresome day,
one sleeps well anywhere; and that is what happened to

As for Monsieur Gerondif, after bestowing an affable
smile on Mademoiselle Turlurette, whom he called " mes-
dames," because, his eyesight being a little blurred, he
took her for two persons, he was escorted to his apart-
ment, and was radiant with delight when he saw the fine
room that had been prepared for him. He stretched him-
self out luxuriously in a soft bed, and gently laid his head
on a pile of pillows, saying:

" I never slept in such a bed as this ! I sink in, I
drown! It is enchanting! I would like to pass my life
in bed, and dream of the Mozambique dance ! "




Cherubin woke late ; he gazed about him in amazement
and tried to collect his thoughts. He asked himself why
he had left Gagny, his dear Nicole, and Louise, whom he
loved so dearly. Then he thought of the magnificent
dinner of the day before and of those four young women,
who were so pretty and gay and amusing, and who danced
so gracefully, casting soft glances at him the while.
It was all well calculated to engross so inexperienced
a head and heart.

Suddenly the crash of breaking furniture made Cher-
ubin start; he turned his head and saw Jasmin stand-
ing in dismay beside a washstand that he had over-

" What is all this ? " cried the young man, who could
not help laughing at the grimace made by his old valet.

" It's I, monsieur it was because I didn't want to make
a noise and wake you."

" So you call that not making a noise ? "

" I was walking so carefully that I ran into that little
piece of furniture, and it fell. But no matter; you can
find those things at all furniture shops."

" Oh ! I am not at all alarmed, Jasmin. I am going
to dress and go back to Gagny."

"What! already, my dear master? Have you ex-
amined your cash-box ? "

"No; why should I?"


" That is all full of gold, monsieur," said Jasmin,
pointing to the cash drawer in the secretary ; " and it's
all yours. And when it's all gone, there is plenty more;
you have only to apply to your banker. And one can
enjoy so much in Paris with money."

" Jasmin, you know that I don't like to be thwarted.
Where are my clothes and my shoes ? "

" I threw them all out of the window, monsieur, ex-
cept what Monsieur de Monfreville brought you yester-

" What does that mean ? Do you mean that I haven't
any trousers to put on ? Are you mad, Jasmin ? "

" It was Monsieur de Monfreville who advised me to
throw away all monsieur's old things. But there's a
tailor waiting outside, and a boot-maker and a shirt-
maker and a hatter, who have brought some things that
are more in style. It was Monsieur de Monfreville again
who sent them all here; they've been waiting an hour
for you to wake."

" Let them come in then."

The tradesmen were admitted. Each of them was
attended by a boy laden with merchandise. While Cher-
ubin selected those things which pleased him and which
he was told were the most fashionable, Comte Darena
was announced.

Darena wore his old ragged coat, his shapeless hat,
and his rumpled cravat of the night before; but he ap-
peared with his usual charming and playful manner, and
shook the young man's hand with great heartiness, cry-

" Here I am, my dear fellow ; I intended to be here to
salute you when you woke. I have come to breakfast
with you. Ah ! you are making purchases ? You should
have left that to me; I would have sent my tradesmen


to you. You left very suddenly last night, did you
not? The ladies were all terribly surprised when they
found that you were no longer there."

" Monsieur d'Hurbain told me it was time to go
that we ought not to stay any longer at a restaurant,"
replied Cherubin artlessly.

" Ah ! charming ! delicious ! In Paris you stay at a
restaurant as late as you choose you even pass the
night there when the fancy strikes you. Your Monsieur
d'Hurbain is a most estimable man, but he is not of our
time, nor on the level of the age we live in. Luckily he
won't always be with you, for he would be a terrible
bore. Aren't you going to take this blue coat?"

" I have already selected two sack coats and two frock

"Then I'll take it; I can see at a glance that it will
look well on me. I am also attracted by this little polo-
naise it's a whim. Parbleu! I like the color of these
trousers ; I'll take them and these two waistcoats. When
I am once started, there is no good reason why I should
stop. Here are some shirts which should fit me perfectly.
They make shirts now that fit as tight as a coat; I will
take this dozen. These boots look as if they were well
made. You have a very pretty foot, Cherubin, of the
same type as mine. I will take this pair of boots. Are
they the same size as the ones selected by monsieur le
marquis ? "

" Yes, monsieur," the boot-maker replied, with a bow.

" Then I will keep them. I am curious to see if
my head is the same size as yours, also. Let me see the
hat you have chosen."

Doing his utmost to squeeze his head into a hat which
the hatter handed him, and which was much too small
for him, Darena cried:


" It will fit me oh ! it will end by fitting me. Have
you another one like it there, hatter but a little larger ? "

" Yes, monsieur."

" Let me see that is just right; I will take it."

The tradesmen glanced at one another with some un-
easiness; one could see in their eyes that they were
wondering whether they ought to trust this gentleman,
who selected so many things without even asking the
price, and whose costume did not inspire unbounded con-
fidence. Darena put an end to their uncertainty by add-

" By the way, here I am buying and buying, and I have
no money with me! Parbleu! my friend the young
Marquis Cherubin will pay for my purchases with his
own; it is useless to make two bills. Then I will settle
with him. Will that inconvenience you, my young

" No, monsieur, it will give me great pleasure," re-
plied Cherubin, as he proceeded to dress ; " I am de-
lighted to accommodate you ! "

And Jasmin whispered to his young master, as he as-
sisted him to put on his waistcoat:

" It's very good form, too, very noble, to lend to your
friends; the late Monsieur de Grandvilain, your father,
did it all the time ! I will settle with monsieur's trades-

Jasmin paid the various accounts.

Darena gave the dealers his address, so that they
might send him what he had selected, and they took their
leave, greatly pleased.

While the old servant went out to give orders for
breakfast, Darena said to Cherubin:

" Now you are dressed in perfect taste that is very
good so far; but it isn't enough; I propose that my


young friend shall have all the little trifles, all the jewelry
that is absolutely essential for a Parisian lion."

" What do you say ? a lion ? "

" That is the name given to-day to a young man of
fashion. Have you a watch ? "

" Yes, this one ; it belonged to my father."

As he spoke, Cherubin showed Darena a gold watch
as thick as it was broad. The count roared with laughter
as he glanced at it.

" Why, my dear fellow, if you should be seen carry-
ing such an onion, people would laugh in your face."

" What's that ? Why, it's gold ! "

" I don't doubt it ; and I may add that it is a most
respectable watch, as it came from your father; but
such watches are not worn now. Put it away carefully in
your desk and have a stylish one, as thin as a sheet of
paper. I have instructed my steward to find one for
you, and to bring you this morning all the jewelry that
you ought to have. Stay, I hear him asking for you
now in your reception room. This way, Poterne, this
way; monsieur le marquis is visible."

Poterne's villainous face appeared at the bedroom door,
and Cherubin invited him to come in. As he passed
Darena, he said to him rapidly and in an undertone :

" The dealer wouldn't trust me with anything ; he's
waiting at the door."

" All right, you will be able to pay him. They're not
false, of course ? "

" No, they're genuine stones."

" How much does he want for them ? "

" Eight hundred francs."

" Call it two thousand."

Monsieur Poterne took a pasteboard box from his
pocket, containing a very pretty, flat watch, a gold chain,


which looked very light but was of beautiful workman-
ship, and a diamond pin. Cherubin uttered a cry of ad-
miration when he saw the baubles.

" These, monsieur le marquis, are the finest and most
stylish things to be had," said Poterne, passing the chain
about the young man's neck, and doing his utmost to
assume an honest expression.

" Yes, they're in the latest style," said Darena. " My
dear Cherubin, you must have these things; a well-
dressed man cannot do without them. I have several
chains myself; they are all broken just now, but I am
having them mended."

"Oh! I will buy all these jewels," cried Cherubin.
" Who would believe that there was a watch inside of
this? What a pretty pin! How much for them all,
monsieur ? "

Observing the young man's enthusiasm over the
jewels, Poterne thought that he might add a little more
to the price.

" Twenty-five hundred francs in all," he said.

Darena turned his face away and bit his lips, while
Cherubin ran to his cash drawer.

At sight of that drawer filled with gold pieces, Mon-
sieur Poterne turned blue, his brow became wrinkled,
his eyes increased in size and his nose shrunk. Darena,
observing his excitement, took advantage of the fact
that Cherubin's back was turned to administer a kick to
his friend, muttering:

" I trust, you villain, that you have no detestable in-
tentions ; if I thought that you had, I would break every
bone in your body."

Poterne had no time to reply ; he rubbed that portion
of his anatomy which had been attacked, received the
amount which Cherubin counted out to him in gold, and


hastily took his leave. But he had hardly passed through
the bedroom door when Darena ran after him, saying:

" Excuse me, my young friend, I will return in a mo-
ment; I forgot to give my steward an important order."

Hurrying after Poterne, who seemed anxious to avoid
being overtaken, Darena caught him on the stairs and
seized him by his coat collar.

" Don't go so fast," he said ; " you're in a great hurry,
you old scoundrel. Come, give me two thousand francs,
in a hurry."

" Two thousand francs ! " muttered Poterne ; " why,
I've got to give eight hundred to the jeweler, who is
waiting downstairs."

" You can give him five hundred ; he will be satisfied
to wait for the rest."

But I "

" I'll break you into six pieces, if you argue. Come,
Poterne, be decent ! You know that when I am in funds,
you never lack anything."

Monsieur Poterne complied, looking as if he were
about to weep. Darena pocketed the gold and returned
to Cherubin, who was admiring himself in the mirror.
Jasmin came to say that breakfast was served, and the
gentlemen took their seats at the table. They were hardly
seated when Monsieur de Monfreville was announced.

When he saw Darena at table with their young friend
of the preceding day, Monfreville moved his head im-
perceptibly and said to the count:

" Here already ? The deuce ! you must have come
quite early."

" When I am fond of my friends, I am always in haste
to see them," replied Darena. " What wine is this,
faithful Jasmin?"

" Beaune, monsieur," replied the old servant, bowing.


" It is very good ; but I like sauterne and chambertin
at breakfast. You must have a fine cellar here ? "

" Oh, yes, monsieur ; and all old wines."

" I imagine so, if they were laid in by our young
friend's father. Come, O model of old retainers, go
and bring us several more bottles. When a cellar has
been left in peace for a generation, it seems to me that
it is high time to empty it."

Jasmin hastened to do as he was requested, and Mon-
freville said to Darena:

" But you give orders without even consulting the
master of the house ! "

" My friend has given me carte blanche, and I am
making the most of it."

" Yes, monsieur," said Cherubin ; " pray do whatever
you choose in my house."

Darena leaned toward Monfreville and said in his ear :

" He was already talking of going back to Gagny
this morning ; if we don't make the young fellow giddy,
he is capable of returning to his nurse, and that would
be downright murder ! "

"Aren't you going to breakfast with us, monsieur?"
Cherubin asked Monfreville.

"Thanks, my young friend, but I have breakfasted.
Were you satisfied with the tradespeople whom I sent to
you this morning ? "

" Oh, yes, monsieur ; everything was beautiful. I
bought a lot of things, and so did monsieur le comte."

Monfreville glanced at Darena, who pretended not to
hear and seemed busily occupied helping himself to par-
tridge pie.

" And look at my watch and my gold chain, and this
pin. Monsieur Darena sent them all to me by his
steward. How pretty they are, aren't they ? "


" Did you pay much for them ? " Monfreville inquired.

" Why, no, only two thousand five hundred francs ;
I don't call that dear ! "

Monfreville looked again at Darena, who continued to
stuff himself with partridges.

" Why, yes, it was quite enough," he said ; " in fact,
it was very dear. In the future, with your permission, I
will advise you in your purchases; I fancy that I know
at least as much about such matters as monsieur's

Jasmin returned with a number of bottles; he broke
one when he attempted to put it on the table, and dropped
a cream cheese on Darena's head. Cherubin was ter-
ribly distressed by his servant's awkwardness; and the
old fellow, overwhelmed with confusion by what he had
done, slunk out of sight behind a screen. Darena was
the first to laugh at the accident.

" It's of no consequence," he said ; " I am not dressed
yet. For all that, my dear marquis, if I may venture
to give you a piece of advice, I advise you to relieve your
old Jasmin from the duty of waiting at table. His ser-
vices will be ruinous to you and fatal to your friends.
The excellent fellow has abundantly earned retirement
and you must give it to him. I will go home to dress,
and come back for you; for we will pass the day to-
gether, eh, Monfreville ? "

" That is my wish, if it will not annoy our young

Cherubin hesitated a moment, then said falteringly :

" But I intended to to go to Gagny to see my
my nurse."

" Oh ! to-morrow ! to-morrow ! " cried Darena ; " we
have too many things to do to-day; I will hurry home
to dress and return at once."


Darena took his leave. Monfreville would have liked
to hint to his young friend that he would do well not
to place too much confidence in the count's manifesta-
tions of friendship for him ; but if he attempted so soon
to destroy the young man's illusions, if he told him to be
on his guard against false friends, selfish affections, the
wiles of shopkeepers, and all the perils of Paris, would
he not run the risk of disgusting him with that city,
which he had consented to visit only with regret?

" After all," said Monfreville to himself, " Darena is
jovial and bright; he has the art of inventing some new
pleasure every day, and even if his friendship should
cost Cherubin a few thousand-franc notes, the youngster
is rich, and one must needs pay for one's apprenticeship
in everything. Besides, I will keep an eye on our pupil,
and I will try to see to it that his inexperience is not
over-abused. By the way, my young friend," he said
aloud, " what have you done with your tutor ? He is to
remain with you, is he not ? Is he not well ? "

" Dear me ! you are right ! " cried Cherubin. " I had
entirely forgotten Monsieur Gerondif! Jasmin, go and
inquire what my tutor is doing; ask him why he doesn't
come to breakfast."

Jasmin went to Monsieur Gerondif's room. The ex-
schoolmaster was buried in his bed, sound asleep, and
entirely hidden by the bedclothes and the pillows, which
had fallen over his head. There was nothing save his
snoring to indicate that the bed was occupied.

The old servant put out his hand toward the pillow;
it came in contact with Monsieur Gerondif's prominent
nose, which he laid hold of and pulled violently, crying

" Come, monsieur le savant, wake up ; my master is
asking for you."


Monsieur Gerondif opened his eyes and rescued his
nose from the fingers that had grasped it.

" What's the matter ? " he muttered ; " what's the
meaning of this violence, and why wake me by the nose ?
That's a new way, surely; rosy-fingered Aurora doesn't
treat the fair-haired Phoebus so."

But, on learning that his pupil had breakfasted, Mon-
sieur Gerondif decided to rise ; he made a hasty toilet and
went down to pay his respects to the marquis.

" The delights of Capua enervated Hannibal's soldiers,"
he said, eying the remains of the breakfast, which were
very appetizing. " My dear pupil, I became even as a
woman on my downy couch. Accept my apologies ; here-
after I will certainly rise with the chanticleer."

And Monsieur Gerondif seated himself at the table to
make up for lost time, while Cherubin, to content Made-
moiselle Turlurette, went to cast a glance at the different
parts of the establishment. Monfreville, who had de-
clined to accompany him, went to the tutor and said :

" Monsieur, you have a most important duty to per-
form ; I doubt not that you will do your utmost to suc-

Monsieur Gerondif looked up at Monfreville, opened
his enormous mouth, apparently annoyed at having to
reply instead of eat, and said at last:

" In truth, monsieur, I have a very hearty appetite
at this moment; but I hope to succeed in satisfying it
with what is on the table."

" That is not what I referred to, monsieur, but to your
pupil, to this young man who should be the object of
your utmost care here in Paris, because, although it was
absolutely necessary that he should come here, we must
see to it that he is not made the dupe of his innocence and
his amiable disposition."


After taking time to swallow a chicken wing, the tutor
replied in a magisterial tone :

" In that respect, young Cherubin could not be in better
hands ! Never fear, monsieur, I will draw for my pupil
a most appalling picture of the seductions in which peo-
ple may seek to ensnare him. Morals before everything !
That is my motto. St. Paul said: Oportet sapere ad
sobrietatem! But I say that, at the marquis's age, one
must be virtuous first of all."

" No, no, monsieur, that isn't what I mean," rejoined
Monf reville, with a shrug ; " it isn't a question of terrify-
ing the young man and trying to make a Cato of him.
Let him enjoy such of the pleasures suited to his years
as his means will allow; but prevent his abusing them,

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Online LibraryPaul de KockNovels by Paul de Kock (Volume 19) → online text (page 10 of 27)