a very sharp face. He ain't handsome, but in spite of
that, he's got such a sly expression that you'd almost call
" What in the deuce can Poterne be doing with this
boy ? " said Darena to himself as he went upstairs. " Can
it be his son? Oh, no! a man like him never acknowl-
edges a child; he would have to take care of him. It's
probably some urchin whom he has hired to do his
errands and polish his boots; but I supposed that he
did all that himself."
Darena entered his room, and, not finding Poterne
there, went up another flight and knocked at the door of
his agent's chamber.
Instantly there was a great commotion inside; it was
as if chairs were being upset, and closet doors opened
and shut. At last Monsieur Poterne's shrill, unmusical
" Parbleu ! it's I. Let me in, you old scoundrel."
" Why don't you let me know who it is at once ? "
asked Poterne, as he opened the door. " I was very busy
your knock disturbed me as I didn't know who it
Darena glanced about the room, which was in great
disorder; then, fastening his eyes on Poterne, who
seemed to be anxious to set things to rights, he said :
" You weren't alone here, you had a small boy with
you. What devilish mystery are you brewing now, with
1 86 THE BASHFUL LOVER
this child? Come, answer quickly; I am in no joking
mood, I promise you ! "
Monsieur Poterne's only reply was to call out:
" Come, Bruno, come ; you can show yourself ; it was
my intimate friend, there's no danger ! "
Instantly a closet opened and a small boy of twelve
years or more emerged and rolled across the floor, utter-
ing a shrill noise not unlike the cry of a savage. The
singularity of his behavior was intensified by the fact
that he was clad from head to foot in a sort of greenish
skin, hairy in spots ; that that skin, which covered his
hands and feet as well, ended at those extremities in
something like claws; and that a very slender and ex-
ceedingly long tail depended from his posterior. His
face alone was uncovered.
" What in the devil is this ? " asked Darena, examining
the boy, who went through a multitude of leaps and
capers on the floor, and seemed perfectly accustomed to
walking on his hands.
Monsieur Poterne emitted a hollow rumble, as if he
were laughing internally, and replied :
" This is a monkey I am training."
" A monkey ! For whom, pray ? "
" For our young marquis. I wanted to sell him a
large and handsome monkey, but I had no desire to put
out the money for one. I had noticed this little boot-
black at the corner; the rascal always did what errands
I gave him, to my entire satisfaction ; I saw that he was
a bright little devil, so I proposed to him to play the
monkey, for a handsome remuneration. I bought this
orang-outang's costume, which is very lifelike; Bruno
comes here every morning and puts it on ; then he
practises jumping and capering. He is doing very well,
and he's more amusing than a real monkey. I have a
POTERNE CONTINUES HIS LITTLE TRICKS 187
mask, but I haven't made up my mind whether to have
him wear one. As he is horribly ugly, I think that, by
staining his face and gluing hair on his eyebrows and
chin, I could make a fine monkey of him ! Ha ! ha ! "
Darena threw himself into a chair; he could not help
laughing with his agent, as he rejoined:
" This is shocking ! it is horrible ! and yet I cannot
help laughing! Really, this idea of manufacturing a
monkey Poterne, it's a pity that you are such a vile
knave, for you have much imagination. But let us sup-
pose that Cherubin has bought this counterfeit monkey
is Monsieur Bruno inclined to remain an animal all
" Why, no," replied Poterne ; " once in the house, he
will cleverly choose the moment to take flight; he will
escape in one way or another by the chimney, if need
be ; for he has been a sweep, and he is perfectly at home
climbing chimneys. That part of it doesn't concern me,
you see; I sell a monkey and get my money; it isn't
my fault if you let him escape. Ha ! ha ! "
The boy, hearing Poterne laugh, followed his example,
imitating anew the monkey's wild chatter, and leaping
over all the furniture in the room in order to develop his
" Well," said Darena, after a moment, " you will lose
the expense of educating him, Poterne ; this little scamp-
may play the monkey on the boulevards, but he won't do
it in our young pupil's house ! "
"Why not, pray?"
" Why not ? Because you are a villain, a swindler, a
Monsieur Poterne looked at the count with an ex-
pression which said plainly enough : " You've known
that a long while ; why pretend to be so surprised ? "
1 88 THE BASHFUL LOVER
" I have no objection to your selling things at rather
a high figure to my young friend, because tradesmen
always get as much as they can. That is business and
nothing else. But I do not propose that you shall abuse
Cherubin's confidence to the point of cheating him out-
rageously; and that is just what you have done, master
Poterne rolled his eyes in amazement, muttering:
" I don't see where the great harm comes in ! I told
him they were preserved pineapples, and they're turnips ;
but they can't hurt him; on the contrary, they're less
" I am not talking about turnips I don't know about
that episode, you must tell me about it! I am talking
about the watch and chain and pin; they are all sham,
horribly sham; and you had the face to tell me that
they were worth eight hundred francs ! You robbed me
too, you villain ! "
" It's very lucky that they weren't worth as much as
that ! " replied Poterne coolly ; " for, out of the twenty-
five hundred francs I got for them, you left me only
five hundred to pay the dealer on account, and you've
never given me the rest since."
" Because I had a sort of presentiment of your knavery !
The idea of selling trash, gilded copper, to my young
friend ! it is infamous ! "
" Bah ! look you, it seems to me that you've been liv-
ing comfortably at your young friend's expense for
eighteen months past."
" Hold your tongue, Poterne, hold your tongue. I
am tempted to break every bone in your body, and you
deserve it. See what a fine thing you have done in not
being content with the honest profits you might have
made on such things as you sold Cherubin; now you
POTERNE CONTINUES HIS LITTLE TRICKS 189
can never go to his house again. I had thrown open an
excellent house to you, and you have closed it by your
thirst for gold and as a result you have injured me
considerably. I have derived some profit from your little
transactions and that was no more than fair; as it was
I who made you acquainted with this rich youngster."
" Some profit ! In other words, you took the whole ! "
muttered Poterne, with a horrible grimace.
" Once more, hold your tongue, or I cannot restrain
myself! Now, how shall I maintain my position, my
life of luxury? I can borrow of Cherubin occasionally,
to be sure, but that resource will soon fail me: the most
obliging people get tired of lending, especially when they
are never paid. I have tried to instil into my young
friend a taste for cards, telling him that it was the pas-
sion of fashionable people; but I could not do it, cards
are a bore to him; and then that devil of a Monfre-
ville has strongly advised him not to touch them. So
that there is but one way left for me to feather my own
nest by making myself useful to Cherubin, and that is
love. When a wealthy young man is in love, he
usually does all sorts of foolish things for the woman
he loves. If there are obstacles, he spends money
lavishly to overcome them, and we should have had no
difficulty in placing obstacles in his path whenever we
chose. Well! by some fatality which I cannot under-
stand, Cherubin, who exclaims in admiration at sight of
a pretty face, who seemed to be dead in love with my
four little ballet dancers, who cannot look at a grisette
without a thrill, who, in short, acts as if he were tre-
mendously in love with all women, hasn't yet engaged
in any intrigue or taken a mistress. I have proposed
twenty times to take him to Malvina, or Rosina, or
Fcedora; he will agree at first, then refuse, saying:
IpO THE BASHFUL LOVER
* Later ; we'll see about it ; I don't dare ! ' And my sar-
casms, my jests, fail to overcome his timidity. That
is where I stand now, monsieur; I was justified, you
see, in saying that your knavery has placed me in an un-
Poterne, who had listened very attentively to Darena,
reflected for some moments on what he had heard, and
replied at last:
" If the young man has no love-affairs on hand, it is
probably because he has not yet met a woman who has
really attracted him. Those dancers of yours who seemed
to be throwing themselves at his head that's not the
way to captivate a wholly inexperienced heart, which
wants illusions, ardent passion. Never fear, I'll find
what he needs, and before long I will involve him in a
most romantic and complicated intrigue."
" Remember that you cannot show your face before
Cherubin, who is quite capable of kicking you down-
stairs. He is in a terrible rage with you, I warn you."
" Oh ! don't be alarmed ; if I appear before him, I will
take good care that he doesn't recognize me."
" Poterne, if you succeed in arousing a passionate love
in our young man's heart, I will give you back my
" Oh, yes ! I shall succeed ! But first, you must give
me time to find a pretty girl, and then to learn whether
I say, Bruno ! Bruno ! where are you going, you little
rascal ? "
During the foregoing conversation between Darena
and Poterne, the small boy, who had understood that
he was not to play the part of a monkey, as he had been
led to expect, had resumed his ordinary garb ; but, when
he had finished his toilet, Monsieur Bruno, presuming
that no one was paying any heed to him, rolled the
ADVICE OF A FRIEND 191
monkey's skin around the mask, put it under' his arm,
and left the room.
" My skin ! my monkey's skin, Bruno ! " cried Mon-
sieur Poterne, running out to the landing. " Ah ! you
little vagabond ! don't you mean to give it back to me ? "
But Monsieur Bruno, who had become very skilful
in gymnastic exercises, thanks to the lessons he had taken
in playing the monkey, ran down the stairs so rapidly
that he was at the foot before Poterne had covered three
stairs. The latter ran after the little thief none the less;
and while Darena returned to his room, laughing at the
episode, Monsieur Poterne ran through the street after
the bootblack, crying:
" My skin ! my skin ! stop that little scamp he's
stolen my skin ! "
ADVICE OF A FRIEND
On returning home, Cherubin sent for Jasmin and
said to him:
" If Monsieur Poterne should ever dare to appear here
again, I order you to have him thrown out of doors;
you may even go so far as to ordvy the concierge to
thrash him; but you must not undertake it yourself, for
you are too old and he would return the compliment."
Jasmin uttered a joyful exclamation, and said :
" What ! really, monsieur ? And without taking the
monkey ? "
" Oh ! I forbid you above all things to take anything
whatever from him."
192 THE BASHFUL LOVER
And Cherubin told his old servant what had hap-
" You see, monsieur," said Jasmin, " that Poterne is
an outrageous swindler I was sure of it. His so-
called Indian preserves I gave 'em to Mademoiselle
Turlurette to taste; they gave her a very bad stomach
ache, and she's been out of order ever since. I'm very
much afraid, monsieur, that everything you have bought
of that Poterne is like your watch! And this Monsieur
Darena whose man of business he is hum ! "
" Darena was even more furious than I with that
man; he swore that he'd thrash him. He was deceived
too; it isn't his fault."
" All the same, my dear master, I very much prefer
your other friend, Monsieur de Monfreville. Ah ! such
a difference! he doesn't borrow your tailor; he doesn't
induce you to buy things ; he doesn't let his steward loose
Cherubin smiled at Jasmin's reflections, but it did not
enter his mind that Darena could be a confederate in his
agent's wrongdoing. His heart was too frank, too trust-
ful, to suspect cunning and perfidy, and he would have
been unable to believe in Monsieur Poterne's shameless
rascality had it been less abundantly demonstrated to him.
As for Monsieur Gerondif, who passed a large part of
his time in sleep, and another large part at the table, and
who had adopted the habit of reading Voltaire or Racine
to Mademoiselle Turlurette of an evening, telling her
that he had composed the lines that morning, when he
learned what Monsieur Poterne had done, he exclaimed :
" That man never read Deuteronomy, where it says :
Non furtum fades; or else he mistranslated it."
A few days after this adventure, Monfreville, returning
from the country, came at once to see Cherubin. When
ADVICE OF A FRIEND 193
he spied the pack of hounds, the parrots, the turtle, the
canes, the gothic vases, and all the alleged rare objects
with which his young friend's house was filled to over-
flowing, he uttered an exclamation which was not of
delight, and said to Cherubin:
" Mon Dieu ! what on earth induced you to buy all
" They are all bargains. I was told that they were
" Fine ! Why, they are all horrible, in wretched taste,
and of no value whatever. Your parrots are wretched
cockatoos, your dogs are miserable curs that I would
not have to guard chickens ! Even your canes are com-
mon sticks of wood; this rattan is an imitation, it was
never what it pretends to be."
" What did I say ? " cried Jasmin ; " that Poterne is
an infernal pickpocket; he has taken us in with every-
thing, just as he did with the jewels. Tell monsieur the
story of our watch, my dear master."
Cherubin told Monfreville what had happened to him.
" If it was Monsieur Poterne who sold you all this,"
said Monfreville, " I am surprised no longer ! But
Darena do you still see him ? "
" Yes," replied Cherubin ; " he was indignant at his
agent's conduct, and he has told me since that he had
beaten him and dismissed him from his service."
Monfreville smiled faintly; t^en he took Cherubin's
hand and said :
" My friend, you are still very young, and you cannot
be expected to understand men; the knowledge of the
world which one acquires only by experience and famil-
iarity, unless one is blessed in youth with a most observant
mind, that knowledge is rather melancholy than agree-
able! For men are rarely what they choose to appear;
194 THE BASHFUL LOVER
frankness is not esteemed as a virtue in society; on the
contrary, the man would be considered a fool or a boor
who should say frankly what he thought, at the risk of
wounding the self-esteem of this one or the susceptibility
of that one. We consider those people delightful who
never have any but agreeable and flattering words in
their mouths, and we do not worry as to whether they
mean what they say. In the world, every man acts as
his interest or his passions impel him, and they who
make the most parade of their virtues, their honor, their
good faith, are the ones whom we should trust least ; for
people who are really virtuous and upright deem it per-
fectly natural to be so, and quite unnecessary to proclaim
it. I have not said all this to you earlier, for I regret to
deprive you of the illusions which make a large part of
the charm of youth, and with which we begin life ; but
I take too deep an interest in you not to try to put you
on your guard against the snares which may be laid for
" What, my dear Monfreville," said Cherubin sadly,
" can't we trust anybody in the world ? "
" I don't mean to go so far as that. I do not want to
make a misanthrope of you God forbid! But I warn
you that you must be particular in the choice of your
" Monsieur Gerondif has often told me that when a
man became learned he became a man to be feared, be-
cause a learned man can never be cheated by anybody,
as he knows more than other men."
" I don't know whether your tutor is very strong on
his authors, but he is rather weak in knowledge of the
human heart. In the first place, a person may be very
learned without a spark of wit we have proofs of that
every day ; and in the second place, those who have the
ADVICE OF A FRIEND 195
most wit are almost always the ones who are most easily
cheated; doubtless Providence so ordained as a recom-
pense to fools."
" So you feel sure that people will try to cheat me ? "
" You are young and rich, and you have had very
little experience. There are numbers of people who
would like to take advantage of that combination. All
this that I am saying is very sad but you will realize
later that I am right."
" Have you been caught often, Monsieur de Monfre-
This artless question brought a smile to the lips of
him to whom it was addressed; he heaved a sigh, how-
ever, as he replied:
" Like other men, my friend. Take my advice and
do not form an intimacy with Darena. I dislike to speak
harshly of anyone; but the more I observe the count,
the more strongly I feel that his acquaintance is not at
all suitable for you."
" But he is very amusing, very agreeable, very clever."
" I know it, and that makes him all the more danger-
ous. He has already borrowed money from you, has he
" Why, yes sometimes."
" He will never pay you."
"Do you think not?"
" I am sure of it. He will urge you to play."
" Yes, he has often proposed it."
" It is the most fatal of passions. He is a gambler and
he has ruined himself. When a man has reached that
point, he tries too often to ruin others; for an unlucky
gambler is sometimes far from delicate in the methods
to which he resorts to obtain money, in order to gratify
his passion. Darena has reached that point."
196 THE BASHFUL LOVER
" As you have so bad an opinion of Darena, how does
it happen that he is a friend of yours? Why did he
come to Gagny with you ? "
"Your question is perfectly just; but in society one
accepts a man's good qualities and does not concern
oneself enough about his bad ones. Darena bears an
honorable name; he is able to behave most becomingly
when he chooses; in fact, he has most agreeable and
fascinating manners ; and nobody asks for anything more
in society. But, I tell you again, one should look for
something more in a friend."
" And the women, my dear Monfreville, the women
must I distrust them too? Ah! that would be a great
pity, women are so pretty ! "
" It's different with women ! As a general rule, men
are too fickle to be exacting in the choice of their mis-
tresses, and for that reason such liaisons are not at all
dangerous. What does it matter that you are in love
with a coquette, with a woman whose reputation is more
than shady, with an actress who will make a fool of you ?
That love will soon be replaced by another, which, in its
turn, will be as quickly forgotten ! A man's reputa-
tion has nothing to fear from all that; on the contrary,
the more love-affairs you have, the more flattered the
ladies will be to win your love; that fact says more for
their self-esteem than for their hearts."
" What do you say ? to attract the women, one must
deceive them ? " cried Cherubin, gazing at Monfreville
with an incredulous expression. " Do you mean that
it is all the same to them whether we forget them and
abandon them ? "
Monfreville turned pale, his brow darkened, and he
kept his eyes on the floor for a long while ; not for some
moments did he reply:
ADVICE OF A FRIEND 197
" There are women who never forgive inconstancy, but
they are not ordinarily the ones who love you the best;
for true love makes one indulgent. It forgives, pro-
vided that you return in all sincerity. I tell you, Cheru-
bin, that the shrewdest man knows nothing about a
woman's heart. There has been much discussion of the
subject, and no two persons ever agreed. Tertullian
declares that the devil is not so spiteful as woman, and
Confucius says that a woman's soul is the masterwork
of creation. Cato maintains that wisdom and virtue are
incompatible with the female mind, and Tibullus that
woman's love brings us back to virtue. How are we to
form an opinion about it? But I believe that at this
moment I am too much like your tutor, who overwhelms
you with his learning. I conclude, my young friend, by
informing you that the best way to be happy is to form
no attachment. Love all women! Your life will glide
along amid pleasures and folly. But if you love only
one, you must expect much sorrow in exchange for a little
" Love all women, you say ! I ask nothing better ! I
fall in love with all I see when they are pretty."
" But I believe that you have not yet formed any
liaison ? I have not heard that you have any mistress ! "
" No you see it seems to ,me that I shall never dare
to tell a woman that I love her. A man must be very
bold to say that, do you know ? "
" Ha ! ha ! this is the result of a sojourn of sixteen
years with your nurse. But you must cast off this
timidity, which will be much more injurious than ad-
vantageous to you, especially with the fair sex. You are
more than eighteen years old you must make a start,
show yourself in society. You must not serve your ap-
prenticeship in love with grisettes or supernumeraries
198 THE BASHFUL LOVER
from the theatre. You will find something better than
that. In the fashionable society to which I propose to
introduce you, a thousand women will contend for your
favor, and they will do you credit, at all events. More-
over, it is high time that you should know something
besides the theatres, cafes and restaurants of Paris; the
salons are where a man gets his training, and I will take
you to those where refined manners are the rule. With
your name you will be welcomed everywhere. This is
the season for receptions; Madame Celival has resumed
her assemblies, which are very brilliant affairs ; the best
people in Paris go there. I will introduce you to her
Cherubin trembled at the idea of going into society;
he was afraid of being awkward and clumsy, and of be-
ing unable to talk. But Monfreville encouraged him,
promised to be his guide and to stay with him, and the
young man consented to allow himself to be taken to
Madame Celival's reception.
The day arrived too quickly for Cherubin, who, having
never attended any such function, was greatly excited
at the mere thought of finding himself in the midst of a
large company, exposed to everybody's glances and re-
"What shall I say?" That was always the result of
Cherubin's reflections; and, pending Monfreville's ar-
rival, he went to Monsieur Gerondif, to consult him as
to what a young man may find to say when he makes
his first appearance in society.
Monsieur Gerondif was learning some of La Fontaine's
poetry by heart, intending to recite it to Mademoiselle
Turlurette as his own. The tutor was not enamored of
the housekeeper; he considered her over-developed for
him, and he had views elsewhere; but Mademoiselle
ADVICE OF A FRIEND 199
Turlurette's functions included the department of pre-
serves, sweetmeats and liqueurs, and Monsieur Gerondif
was very fond of all such dainties.
When he saw his pupil enter his room, the tutor was
thunderstruck; it was the first time that Cherubin had
paid him a visit since they had been in Paris. He im-
agined that he wished to resume his studies, and he said :
" Everything is ready, my noble pupil. I am always
expecting you. I have prepared abstracts of history,
mythology and geology for you. I am always at work
in your service. At this moment, as you are taking
lessons in savate, I am trying to find the origin of that
form of exercise in Plutarch's lives of illustrious men.
I find the cestus, boxing and wrestling, but I haven't yet
" I thank you, Monsieur Gerondif," replied Cherubin,
" but that is not what I have come about. This evening
Monsieur de Monfreville is to take me into society; he
declares that it is necessary for me to go there, that I
shall acquire refined manners there ; he is probably right,
and I have promised to let him take me. But what do
people say at a fashionable reception? How should one
behave? Do you talk with people whom you don't
know ? I thought that you coula tell me that, you know
so many things; for as yet I haven't been anywhere
except to the theatre and concerts, and to cafes; and I
must confess that I am terribly afraid of cutting a foolish