to have been a center of commerce and culture known as，
This was no doubt the case, and yet there was one circumstance which puzzled Chupin exceedingly. In former years, he had heard it asserted that Mademoiselle Flavie was the very personification of pride, and that she adored her husband even to madness. Had this great love vanished? Had poverty and sorrow broken her spirit to such a degree that she was willing to stoop to such shameful concessions! If she were acquainted with her husband's present life, how did it happen that she did not prefer starvation, or the alms-house and a pauper's grave to his assistance? Chupin could understand how, in a moment of passion, she might be driven to denounce her husband in the presence of his fashionable acquaintances, how she might be impelled to ruin him so as to avenge herself; but he could not possibly understand how she could consent to profit by the ignominy of the man she loved. "The plan isn't hers," said Chupin to himself, after a moment's reflection. "It's probably the work of that stout old gentleman."
There was a means of verifying his suspicions, for on returning into the adjoining room, Madame Paul had not taken her son with her. He was still sitting on the muddy floor of the shop, playing with his dilapidated horse. Chupin called him. "Come here, my little fellow," said he.
The child rose, and timidly approached, his eyes dilating with distrust and astonishment. The poor boy's repulsive uncleanliness was a terrible charge against the mother. Did she no longer love her own offspring? The untidiness of sorrow and poverty has its bounds. A long time must have passed since the child's face and hands had been washed, and his soiled clothes were literally falling to rags. Still, he was a handsome little fellow, and seemed fairly intelligent, in spite of his bashfulness. He was very light-haired, and in features he was extremely like M. de Coralth. Chupin took him on his knees, and, after looking to see if the door communicating with the inner room were securely closed, he asked: "What's your name, little chap?"
"Doesn't your mother ever talk to you about him?"
The child did not reply; perhaps his mother had forbidden him to say anything on the subject--perhaps that instinct which precedes intelligence, just as the dawn precedes daylight, warned him to be prudent with a stranger. "Doesn't your papa ever come to see you?" insisted Chupin.
"And wouldn't you like to go and see him?"
"I don't know. But he'll come some day, and take us away with him to a large house. We shall be all right, then; and he will give us a deal of money and pretty dresses, and I shall have plenty of toys."
Satisfied on this point, Chupin, pushed his investigations farther. "And do you know this old gentleman who is with your mamma in the other room?"
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