puzzle to me as the age-old search for the spring of eternal，
"And when he becomes rich, will you be able to retain your influence over him?"
"Rich or poor, I can mould him like wax."
"Very good. Marguerite was escaping me, but I shall soon have her in my power. I have a plan. The Fondeges think they can outwit me, but we shall soon see about that." The viscount was watching his companion stealthily; as the latter perceived, and so in a tone of brusque cordiality, he resumed: "Excuse me for not keeping you to breakfast, but I must go out immediately--Baron Trigault is waiting for me at his house. Let us part friends--au revoir--and, above all, keep me well posted about matters in general."
M. de Coralth's temper was already somewhat ruffled when he entered Valorsay's house; and he was in a furious passion when he left it. "So we are to survive or perish together," he growled. "Thanks for the preference you display for my society. Is it my fault that the fool has squandered his fortune? I fancy I've had enough of his threats and airs."
Still his wrath was not so violent as to make him forget his own interests. He at once went to inquire if the agreement which M. Wilkie had just signed would be binding. The lawyer whom he consulted replied that, at all events, a reasonable compensation would most probably be granted by the courts, in case of any difficulty; and he suggested a little plan which was a chef d'oeuvre in its way, at the same time advising his client to strike the iron while it was hot.
It was not yet noon, and the viscount determined to act upon the suggestion at once; he now bitterly regretted the delay he had specified. "I must find Wilkie at once," he said to himself. But he did not succeed in meeting him until the evening, when he found him at the Cafe Riche--and in what a condition too! The two bottles of wine which the young fool had drank at dinner had gone to his head, and he was enumerating, in a loud voice, the desires he meant to gratify as soon as he came into possession of his millions. "What a brute!" thought the enraged viscount. "If I leave him to himself, no one knows what foolish thing he may do or say. I must remain with him until he becomes sober again."
So he followed him to the theatre, and thence to Brebant's, where he was sitting feeling terribly bored, when M. Wilkie conceived the unfortunate idea of inviting Victor Chupin to come up and take some refreshment. The scene which followed greatly alarmed the viscount. Who could this young man be? He did not remember having ever seen him before, and yet the young scamp was evidently well acquainted with his past life, for he had cast the name of Paul in his face, as a deadly insult. Surely this was enough to make the viscount shudder! How did it happen that this young man had been just on the spot ready to pick up Wilkie's hat? Was it mere chance? Certainly not. He could not believe it. Then why was the fellow there? Evidently to watch somebody. And whom? Why, him-- Coralth--undoubtedly.
In going through life as he had done, a man makes enemies at every step; and he had an imposing number of foes, whom he only held in check by his unbounded impudence and his renown as a duellist. Thus it was not strange if some one had set a snare for him; it was rather a miracle that he had not fallen into one before. The dangers that threatened him were so formidable that he was almost tempted to relinquish his attack on Madame d'Argeles. Was it prudent to incur the risk of making this woman an enemy? All Sunday he hesitated. It would be very easy to get out of the scrape. He could concoct some story for Wilkie's benefit, and that would be the end of it. But on the other hand, there was the prospect of netting at least five hundred thousand francs--a fortune--a competency, and the idea was too tempting to be relinquished.
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