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" Faith, monsieur, all I did was to follow the instruc-
tions Monsieur Jasmin gave me; and I thought he was
only carrying out monsieur's orders."

" Ah ! it was Jasmin who told you to say that, was it ?
Very well ; you may go ; but henceforth take your orders
from me alone."

The concierge bowed and left the room, delighted that
he had come off so cheap.

Old Jasmin turned purple; he twisted his mouth, like
a child about to cry. Cherubin walked up to him and
said in a tone in which there was more reproach than
anger :

" And so, Jasmin, it was you who ordered my dear
Nicole and Louise to be turned away? It was you who
arranged matters so that the people who brought me up
must inevitably think me proud and unfeeling and un-
grateful ! Ah ! that was very ill done of you and I
don't recognize your kind heart in that business."


Jasmin drew his handkerchief and wept.

" You are right, monsieur ! " he cried ; " it was a
shame, it was downright folly, but it wasn't my idea; I
should never have thought of it. It was your tutor who
told me that we must prevent your seeing Nicole and
little Louise, because it would be very dangerous for
you. As Monsieur Gerondif is a scholar, I thought that
he must be right, and I did what he told me."

While the old valet was speaking, Monsieur Gerondif
scratched his nose with all his might, as if to prepare
for the attack that he was about to undergo ; and in fact
it was to him that Cherubin turned after listening to
Jasmin, and there was the ring of righteous anger in
his voice as he cried :

" So all this comes from you, monsieur ? I should
have suspected as much. So it was dangerous for me to
see the people from the village, who love me like their
own child ! "

Monsieur Gerondif threw one of his legs back, puffed
out his chest, raised his head, and began with abundant
assurance :

" Well, yes, my illustrious pupil ! and I consider that
I was right. Non est discipulus super magistrum.
Listen to my reasons : You left the village and the fields
with great regret; you might have been tempted to re-
turn thither, and it was necessary to remove that tempta-
tion always in your interest. The Sadder, abridged
from the Zend, which contains all the tenets of the re-
ligion founded by Zoroaster, ordains that every man
must make a strict examination of his conscience at the
end of each day ; and mine "

" Oh ! I am not talking about Zoroaster, monsieur !
Was it in my interest too, that, at the time of your last
visit to the village, you told Nicole that I had become a

FEAR 371

rake and a seducer in Paris; that I intended to make
Louise my mistress ; and that it was absolutely necessary
to find a place for her in Paris, and to make me believe
that she was in Bretagne ? "

Monsieur Gerondif was petrified; he could think of
no quotations to make; he hung his head and did not
know which leg to stand on; while Jasmin, when he
heard what the tutor had said of his young master, ran
to the fireplace, seized the tongs, and prepared to strike
Monsieur Gerondif:

" You dare to tell such infamous lies about my mas-
ter ! " he exclaimed ; " to slander him like that ! Let
me thrash him, monsieur! I believe that I can do that
with as much force as I had at twenty years."

But Cherubin stopped Jasmin, and said to the tutor:

" What were your reasons for lying so, monsieur ? "

" To tell the truth, my noble pupil, I do not know ; a,
temporary aberration, a "

" Well, I shall find out later. But, first of all, where is

" The young and interesting foundling ? "

" Come, come, monsieur, answer me, and no more
lies ; where is Louise ? "

" In an honorable family, I venture to flatter myself ;
I obtained her a situation as lady's maid with Madame
de Noirmont."

" A lady's maid ! my foster-sister ! You have made
my old playmate a lady's maid ! Ah ! that's an outrage ! "

" The wages are good, and I thought that, as she has
no fortune "

" Hold your peace ! Poor Louise ! so this is the re-
ward of your sworn attachment to me! But she shall
not remain another day in that position. Jasmin, call a
cab at once, and you, monsieur, come with me."


Monsieur Gerondif did not wait for the order to be
repeated; he followed Cherubin, who took his hat and
hastened downstairs. Jasmin called a cab, the young
marquis stepped in, ordered Monsieur Gerondif to take
his place beside him and to give the driver Madame de
Noirmont's address. The tutor obeyed and they drove

Cherubin did not open his mouth during the drive, and
Gerondif did not dare even to blow his nose. When the
cab stopped in front of the Noirmont mansion, Cherubin
said to his tutor:

" It was you who brought Louise to this house ; go
now and find her. Say to the persons in whose service
she is that she is not to work any more, that she has
found a friend and protector; say whatever you choose,
but remember that you must bring me my friend and
sister. As for her, simply say to her that I am here,
waiting for her, and I am perfectly sure that she will
instantly make her preparations to come to me. Go,
monsieur; I will stay here and wait."

Monsieur Gerondif jumped out of the cab, blew his
nose when he was on the sidewalk, and entered the house
at last, saying to himself :

" Let us do it, as there is no way to avoid it ! The
little one will not be mine unless, perhaps, later no
one knows. Perhaps he will endow her, and I will
imagine that she's a widow."

Cherubin counted the minutes after the tutor entered
the house; he leaned out of the cab door and did not
take his eyes from the porte cochere ; for he momentarily
expected Louise to appear, and that hope was constantly
disappointed. At last two persons left the house and
came toward him; they were Monsieur Gerondif and
Comtois. The professor's face wore a most woebegone

FEAR 373

expression; he rolled his eyes wildly about as he ap-
proached Cherubin; but the latter did not wait for him

i l ***

to speak.

" Louise ! " he cried, " Louise ! why hasn't she come
with you ? Didn't you tell her that I was here ? "

" No, my noble pupil," replied Gerondif, with an air
of desperation, " I did not tell her, for I could not. If
you knew ! "

" I don't want to know ; I want Louise I came here
to get her. Why doesn't she come down? Do they
refuse to let her go? In that case I will go up my-
self "

" Oh, no! nobody refuses anything; but she has gone
already, and that is why she doesn't come down with us."

" What do you say ? Louise "

" Has not been at Monsieur de Noirmont's for four
days ; she went off one morning, very early, before any-
one in the house was up."

" Ah ! you are deceiving me ! "

" No, my noble pupil ; but as I thought that perhaps
you would not believe me, I requested Comtois, Mon-
sieur de Noirmont's confidential valet, to come with me
and confirm my story. Speak, incorruptible Comtois;
tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

Comtois stepped toward Cherubin, and said, saluting
him respectfully:

" Since Mademoiselle Louise has been in our family,
we had never had anything but praise for her behavior.
Her modest manner, her sweetness of disposition, won
all our hearts. Mademoiselle Ernestine de Noirmont
treated her more as her friend than as her maid ; madame
was the only one who, for some unknown reason, was
a trifle harsh with Mademoiselle Louise. Well, last
Friday, the day after a large dinner-party that we gave


here, the girl went away. She took nothing with her
but a little bundle containing her clothes not another
thing. Mademoiselle Ernestine was terribly unhappy
over her going; but we supposed that Louise had de-
cided to return to her province because she was dis-
appointed that she had not been able to win madame's
favor. That is the exact truth, monsieur. However, if
you will take the trouble to go upstairs, you can see
Mademoiselle Ernestine, or my master and mistress, who
will tell you just what I have told you."

Cherubin did not deem it necessary to question Mon-
sieur or Madame de Noirmont; Comtois had no motive
for lying to him, and in his eyes could be read his per-
sonal regret for Louise's departure.

" She must have returned to Gagny, beyond any ques-
tion," cried Gerondif, scratching his nose.

" To Gagny ! " exclaimed Cherubin, in despair ; " why,
I have just come from there! You forget that I have
been there this morning, that I am just from Nicole's
house, and that Louise has not been seen there."

" Perhaps you may have passed each other on the

" Why, he says that it was four days ago that she left
the house! four days, do you understand? What has
become of her during all that time? Does it take four
days to travel four leagues ? "

" Not usually but, if she stopped often on the way."

" Ah ! it was you who induced Louise to leave the
village, where she was safe from all harm. It was you,
monsieur, who brought her to Paris. But remember that
you must find Louise, that I must know where she is,
what has happened to her in the four days since she left
this house ; and if she has met with any misfortune then
all my wrath will fall on you ! "

FEAR 375

Cherubin leaped into the cab, gave the driver Mon-
freville's address, and hastened to his friend. He longed
to confide his troubles to him, for he knew that his friend-
ship would not fail him when he went to him to claim
his aid and support.

Monfreville was at home; when his young friend ap-
peared, deeply moved and intensely excited, he instantly
questioned him concerning the cause of his agitation.
Cherubin told him all that he had done since morning:
his visit to the village, his conversation with Nicole and
her disclosures of Monsieur Gerondif's conduct regard-
ing Louise, and finally the girl's disappearance from the
house in which she had taken service. When he had
finished his narrative, he cried:

" I must find Louise, my friend, I must find her, for
I know now how dearly I love her. Poor Louise, it
was to be near me, it was in the hope of seeing me, that
she accepted that place in Paris. Nicole told me all, for
Louise still thought of me, she never let a day pass with-
out speaking of me, and I, like an ingrate, let three
years pass without a sign that I remembered her ! "

" That is true," said Monfreville, " and to-day you
are in the depths of despair because you don't know what
has become of her! But from all that you tell me, it
seems to me that this girl is worthy of your love, and
that it would be a great pity that she should fall into
some trap, that she should be victimized by some miser-
able villain. Is she pretty, did you say ? "

" She was lovely at fifteen, and Nicole told me that she
had improved every day."

" The deuce ! poor child ! If she is very pretty and
has lost her way in Paris, it's very dangerous. As for
your tutor, there is a very natural explanation of his
conduct: he was in love with Louise, no doubt, and


deemed it prudent to keep you from seeing her, which
was sure to happen sooner or later. For a pedagogue,
that was rather clever."

" In love with Louise ! the insolent old idiot ! But
where shall I look for poor Louise where can I hope
to find her now ? "

" That will be rather difficult, perhaps ; but rely upon
me to help you, to guide you in your search. You must
set your servants at work; we will not spare money,
and that is a powerful auxiliary in all the emergencies
of life."

Cherubin thanked his friend warmly for lending him
his assistance, and they began their search the same day.

While these things were taking place at Monfreville's
apartment, Monsieur Gerondif stood in the street, as if
turned to stone by his pupil's anger and threats. Comtois
had long since returned to his duties and the tutor was
still in front of the porte cochere. He decided at last to
go his way, saying to himself :

" The Scripture says : ' Seek and ye shall find.' I am
going to seek you, Louise, but I probably shall not find




We left Louise at the moment when, in compliance
with Madame de Noirmont's wishes, she left the house
before anybody had risen.

Thus Louise found herself in the street at a very early
hour. She had her bundle of clothes under her arm,
and in her breast that letter, of such inestimable value,
which would perhaps enable her to find her father.

When she was at a sufficient distance from the house
that she had left, her first thought was to learn the name
of the person to whom Madame de Noirmont had sent
her. She took out the letter and read this address :

" For Monsieur Edouard de Monfreville. To be de-
livered to him in person."

" Monsieur de Monfreville," said Louise ; " I have
never heard of that gentleman. But Madame de Noir-
mont said that he was a great friend of Cherubin, and
that they would give me his address at Cherubin's house.
So I will go there. Oh! I shall not ask to see him!
I know that he no longer cares for me, that he doesn't
choose to know me any more; and besides, as he has
three or four mistresses at once, why, I haven't any
desire to see him either."

The girl heaved a sigh as she spoke, for her heart
was by no means in accord with her words; but she
started toward Faubourg Saint-Germain, saying to her-


" I must not think any more about my old playfel-
low; I will think only of what Madame de Noirmont
said to me last night."

Louise at last reached the street on which the hotel
de Grandvilain stood. When she realized that she was
so near Cherubin's abode, she stopped and began to
tremble :

" As Cherubin wouldn't admit us," she thought, " when
I came with his dear old nurse, perhaps they'll shut the
door in my face. They will think that it is he whom I
wish to see, and that will make him even more angry
with me. Oh dear ! what am I to do ? "

And instead of going toward the house, Louise re-
traced her steps, walking very slowly. But in a moment
she stopped again and said to herself:

" But I must ascertain this Monsieur de Monfreville's
address ! Suppose I should wait until someone comes out
of the house? Yes, I think that that will be the better
way. I shall not be so afraid to speak to someone in the
street. But it is still very early ; people don't get up at
this time in these fine houses. I will walk back and forth,
and wait; there's no law against that, and, besides, not
many people are passing yet. If I should see him come
out, I would hide so that he might not see me. But I
could look at him, at all events and it is so long since
I saw him ! "

Louise had been walking the street for some time,
looking in vain for somebody to leave the house, when
two persons came toward her from a street near by.
They were not arm in arm ; indeed, one of them allowed
his companion to keep always a few steps in advance, as
if a certain residuum of respect kept him from putting
himself on a level with the other. The first wore a long
coat lined with fur, very stylish and sadly soiled, and a


hat which was almost new, but which seemed to have
received a number of blows; he had a cigar in his
mouth; the second wore his huge umbrella hat and nut-
colored box-coat, a pair of shockingly dirty trousers, and
boots which were not made for him and in which his
feet and legs seemed fairly to dance. In addition, he
had a black eye and a bruised nose.

Darena and Poterne had passed the night at a party
where they had played cards until daylight, and had
indulged in a fight before separating. Darena had chosen
to pass through Cherubin's street on his way home; he
always took that road by preference, a fancy which did
not please Poterne, who muttered as he followed him:

" If your former friend the young marquis should
meet us, he might pay me a few more compliments be-
hind, and I can do without them."

" Bah ! " retorted Darena, " you always look at the
dark side. For my part, I would like to meet Cherubin.
I would go up to him with a laugh, and I would say:
'Who ever heard of friends falling out for a jest? I
obtained your introduction to a charming girl; instead
of being a Pole, she was an Alsatian, but what's the
difference? And, faith, it isn't my fault that you went
to sleep in her company ! ' I'll bet that he would shake
hands with me, and all would be forgotten."

" Hum ! I don't think it ! If you knew how his friend
Monfreville gave it to you ! "

" Ta ! ta ! mere empty words ! nonsense ! I am above
all that!"

The two worthies were walking on when Poterne,
spying Louise standing a few steps from the hotel de
Grandvilain, upon which her eyes seemed to be fixed, put
his hand on Darena's arm, saying:

" Look yonder, at the right."


" Bigre ! what a pretty girl ! What in the devil is she
doing there, in rapt contemplation, before the door of
Cherubin's house? Do you know, Poterne, that girl is
perfectly bewitching! The more one looks at her, the
more charms one discovers."

" Yes, and it's not Parisian style ; however, she's
something more than a peasant. She has a bundle under
her arm do you suppose she has just arrived from the
provinces ? "

" She is still staring at the house. I certainly must
find out what she is doing here."

" What are you going to do ? "

" I don't know yet, but I am a Frenchman, and a lady's
man before everything; and I am bound to aid and pro-
tect the fair sex. Forward, and you will see. Walk
beside me, idiot ! "

Darena and Poterne crossed the street and walked
toward Louise ; when they were near her, Darena stopped
and said in a loud tone:

" Monsieur Poterne, as we are passing through this
street, suppose we stop and bid our good friend, Mar-
quis Cherubin de Grandvilain good-morning? this is his
house. You know that he is constantly asking us to
breakfast with him."

Poterne enveloped himself closely in his box-coat and
replied :

" It's too early as yet ; no one is up in the marquis's

These words were not lost on Louise, who started at
the name of Cherubin. She approached Darena and said
to him timidly:

" Excuse me, monsieur, but as you are a friend of
Monsieur de Grandvilain, who lives in this house, per-
haps you know Monsieur de Monfreville also ? "


At that name Poterne made a wry face; but Darena
replied as amiably as possible:

" Yes, my lovely maiden, I know Monfreville ; indeed,
I am intimately acquainted with him. Have you business
with him ? "

" I have a letter for him, but I do not know his .ad-
dress, and I was told that I could learn it at Monsieur
Cherubin's; but, although I know Monsieur Cherubin,
I dared not go into his house."

" Ah ! so you know my friend Cherubin, mademoi-
selle? In that case he must have spoken to me about
you, for I was his most intimate confidant."

" Oh, no, monsieur ! " replied Louise sadly, " he would
never have spoken to you about me, for he has forgotten
me; he doesn't want to see us again. I am Louise,
Monsieur Cherubin's friend in childhood."

" Young Louise ! " cried Darena ; " who was with
Cherubin, at his nurse Nicole's, at Gagny?"

" Yes, monsieur."

" You see that I am well informed, mademoiselle, that
I did not deceive you when I said that I was the mar-
quis's friend."

" Oh, yes ! I see that, monsieur."

During this dialogue, Poterne sauntered up to Darena
and whispered:

" There's a chance to make a turn here."

Darena retorted with a blow of his elbow in the ribs,
muttering :

"So I see, you fool!"

Then, turning to Louise, he continued:

" Mademoiselle, if you do not wish to call at my
friend Cherubin's, it does not seem to me fitting that
you should remain in the street. In Paris, you see,
there are certain proprieties that one must always


observe. Young and pretty as you are, you must not
expose yourself to the risk of being insulted by some
scoundrel. Take my arm; you are my friend's foster-
sister, his playmate, and I naturally declare myself your
protector. Pray take my arm."

" Oh ! how kind you are, monsieur ! " replied Louise,
timidly putting her arm through Darena's. " Are you
really going to take the trouble to take me to Monsieur
de Monf reville's ? "

" I will take you wherever you choose to the king if
you have anything to say to him. Poterne, why don't
you take mademoiselle's bundle?"

" You are too kind, monsieur, but it does not trouble

" No matter ; I will not allow my friend Cherubin's
foster-sister to carry a bundle when she has my arm."

Poterne had already taken the bundle from Louise's
hands; and she, confused by so much courtesy, walked
on with her arm through Darena's, while Poterne fol-
lowed, feeling the bundle to find out what there was
in it.

As they walked along, the girl told Darena how she
had left Gagny to enter Madame de Noirmont's service,
and her grief because Cherubin had forgotten her; in
fact, she omitted nothing save the visit Madame de Noir-
mont had paid to her during the night.

" And what do you propose to do at Monf reville's ? "
asked Darena, fixing his eyes on Louise's lovely ones.

" I am going to give him a letter which was given to
me for him."

" To induce him to reconcile you and your dear friend
Cherubin, no doubt? "

" Oh ! no, monsieur ! it's about something that he alone
knows about."


Louise said no more, deeming it improper to admit a
third person to the secret of what Madame de Noirmont
had said to her. Darena paid little heed to that matter;
he was thinking what he should do with Louise. Sud-
denly he remembered the little house on the outer boule-
vard, which he had hired for the Polish intrigue, and
which was still in his possession, as he had been obliged
to take it for six months. Turning to Poterne, he said
with a wink:

" Monsieur de Poterne, my friend Monfreville is still
living in his petite maison on the boulevards, outside the
wall, is he not ? "

" He is, monsieur le comte," replied Poterne innocently.
" But Monsieur de Monfreville often goes away on short
journeys about the neighborhood; I can't vouch for it
that he is at home now."

" At all events, we will take mademoiselle there. If he
is absent, we will consider what Mademoiselle Louise, my
friend Cherubin's foster-sister, can do until his return.
Ah! there's a cab; let us take it, for it's a long way
from here to Monfreville's."

Poterne summoned a cab, and Louise entered it with
her two chance acquaintances; the girl was entirely un-
suspicious; she was convinced that the gentleman who
had offered her his arm was a friend of Cherubin, and
in her eyes that title was enough to banish suspicion.

The cab stopped in front of the house near Barriere
de la Chopinette, which had been occupied since the
abortive Chichemann affair by little Bruno alone, whom
they left in charge. Darena whispered a word in Po-
terne's ear, and that gentleman took pains to enter first.
Louise remained with Darena, who wasted a long time
paying the cab-driver. At last he ushered the girl into
the house, the boy having received his instructions.


" We wish to speak with Monsieur de Monfreville,"
Darena said to Bruno. " Here is a young lady, my inti-
mate friend Marquis Cherubin's foster-sister, who is
most anxious to see him."

Bruno eyed Louise impertinently as he replied :

" Monsieur de Monfreville's away ; he'll probably come
back to-morrow or next day; if anybody wants to wait
for him, he told me to offer his room to any of his
friends who might come to see him."

Louise was in despair ; she looked at Darena and mur-
mured :

" The gentleman is away ; what shall I do ? "

" In the first place, my child, you must go upstairs and
rest," said Darena ; " then we will see, we will consider.
Come, follow me without fear; in Monfreville's house,
I act as if I were at home."

Louise went upstairs with Darena, who, to dispel every
shadow of fear from her mind, made a show of treating
her with the greatest respect, and kept always at a con-
siderable distance from her. She was rather surprised
that the person to whom Madame de Noirmont had sent
her should occupy a house of such humble appearance,
and so modestly furnished; but she had not told her
that he was rich, she had simply said that he could tell
her who her father was, and that was why she was so
eager to see him.

" My lovely maid," said Darena, after a moment,
" you know no one in Paris except Cherubin ; and you

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Online LibraryPaul de KockNovels by Paul de Kock (Volume 19) → online text (page 25 of 27)