Helium, and John Carter, gentleman of Virginia, followed，
The man, in whose face doubt, fear, and hope had succeeded each other in swift succession, thereupon drew an interminable bill from his pocket. And when he saw the bank-notes, when he saw the bill paid without dispute or even examination, he was seized with a wondering respect, and his voice became sweeter than honey. They say the payment of a bad debt delights a merchant a thousand times more than the settlement of fifty good ones. The truth of this assertion became apparent in the present case. Mademoiselle Marguerite thought the man was going to beg "Madame la Comtesse to do him the favor to withhold a portion of the small amount." For the Parisian tradesman is so constituted that very frequently it is not necessary to pay him money, but only to show it.
However, this creditor's abnegation did not extend so far; still he did entreat Madame la Comtesse not to leave him on account of a blunder--for it was a blunder--he swore it on his children's heads. His coachman was only a fool and a drunkard, who had misunderstood him entirely, and whom he should ignominiously dismiss on returning to his establishment. But "Madame la Comtesse" was inflexible. She sent the man about his business, saying, "I never place myself in a position to be treated with disrespect a second time."
This probably accounted for the fact that Evariste, the footman, who had been so wanting in respect the previous evening, had been sent away that very morning. Mademoiselle Marguerite did not see him again. Dinner was served by a new servant, who had been sent by an Employment Office, and engaged without a question, no doubt because Evariste's livery fitted him like a glove. Had the cook also been replaced? Mademoiselle Marguerite thought so, though she had no means of convincing herself on this point. It was certain, however, that the Sunday dinner was utterly unlike that of the evening before. Quality had replaced quantity, and care, profusion. It was not necessary to send to the cellar for a bottle of Chateau-Laroze; it made its appearance at the proper moment, warmed to the precise degree of temperature, and seemed quite to the taste of excellent Madame Leon.
In twenty-four hours the Fondege family had been raised to such affluence that they must have asked themselves if it were possible they had ever known the agonies of that life of false appearances and sham luxury which is a thousand times worse than an existence of abject poverty. "Is it possible that I am deceived?" Marguerite said to herself, on retiring to her room that evening. For it surprised her that a keen-sighted person like Madame Leon should not have remarked this revolution; but the worthy companion merely declared the General and his wife to be charming people, and did not cease to congratulate her dear young lady upon having accepted their hospitality. "I feel quite at home here," said she; "and though my room is a trifle small, I shall have nothing to wish for when it has been refurnished."
Mademoiselle Marguerite spent a restless and uncomfortable night. In spite of her reason, in spite of the convincing proofs she had seen, the most disturbing doubts returned. Might she not have judged the situation with a prejudiced mind? Had the Fondeges really been as reduced in circumstances as she supposed? Like every one who has been unfortunate, she feared illusions, and was extremely distrustful of everything that seemed to favor her hopes and wishes. The only thing that really encouraged her was the thought that she could consult the old magistrate, and that M. de Chalusse's former agent might succeed in finding Pascal Ferailleur. M. Fortunat must have received her letter by this time: he would undoubtedly expect her on Tuesday, and it only remained for her to invent some excuse which would give her a couple of hours' liberty without awakening suspicion.
She rose early the next morning, and had almost completed her toilette, when she heard some one in the passage outside rapping at the door of Madame Leon's room. "Who's there?" inquired that worthy lady.
It was Justine, Madame de Fondege's maid, who answered in a pert voice, "Here is a letter, madame, which has just been sent up by the concierge. It is addressed to Madame Leon. That is your name, is it not?"
Marguerite staggered as if she had received a heavy blow. "My God! a letter from the Marquis de Valorsay!" she thought.
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