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there was perceptible on the features of the old man a struggle between sarcasm and benevolence. Benevolence carried the day. He took a chair, and, with that air of mild authority which is the prerogative of old age and experience, he said to Riponneau :
" Ah! you are poor, and consequently unhappy. Let us have a few moments conversation together, neighbour. You know that liberality is even found amongst the poor, and I who am happy should like to bestow upon you a little of that of which you stand in need. I desire to share some of my happiness with you."
And how, might I ask, neighbour, can you manage that ? for, if I am not mistaken, you live alone."
“Yes." “You work from morning till night.” “ Yes." “You rarely stir out." “ Rarely." " In what, then, consists your happiness ? and what could you give
“Nothing; but yet I should consider that I had done much for you could I but remove a certain something from your heart. It is envy that is gnawing there, that is withering away all the pleasures of your youth, as the worm at the head of the tender sapling."
“Me envious !” said Mark Anthony, colouring.
“No wife, ergo, no children ; no mistress, ergo, no rivals; no family, ergo, no ties; no debts, ergo, no bailiffs. In a word, you are exempt from all the plagues of humanity. If, then, you are unhappy, that not coming from exterior causes independent of your being, your misfortune proceeds from an interior cause inherent in your nature. This cause is envy."
"Well, and supposing that were to be the case,” said Riponneau, “supposing I envied the happiness of every living thing round me, where would be the harm of that?”
“The harm is in suffering that which is foreign to your nature, which is, moreover, profoundly unreasonable.”
“ Bah!” exclaimed Riponneau, “it is not unreasonable to desire fortune."
“ It is unreasonable to desire the chagrins, the despair, the perpetual uneasiness, the incessant torments, which accompany it."
“ Commonplaces all these, my dear neighbour; the empty condolences of the poor man with his fellow; the insolent derision of the rich man when it is he who uses similar language."
The old man reflected for some moments, and, after a silence of considerable duration, he said to Mark Anthony :
“Come now, answer me sincerely,—Whom do you envy amongst those who surround you? In whose place should you wish to be?”
"In whose place?" cried Mark Anthony. “Why there is not a single person in the neighbourhood who is not happier than I am; and since, as far as wishing goes, the field is open, and as we rob no one by taking in imagination the goods of others, think you that I should not much rather be in the position of the Crivelins than in my
"Why, hang it ! last week I did not close an eye all night from the noise of the fête which they gave. The most magnificent equipages encumbered the streets; the most celebrated names were announced by stentorian lungs at the doors of their saloons. Those who entered burned with impatience to reach the wished-for goal; those who were leaving regretted their departure; and upon the staircase, up and down which I passed at least ten times during the night, I heard upon all sides nothing but such expressions as—'What amiable people! what gaiety! it is easy to see that they are happy!' And others said — Their daughter is going to be married to the young Count de Formont. What a beautiful marriage that will be ; youth, beauty, fortune, rank, and station on both sides. They are happy, but they deserve it.”
"Ah!” said the old gentleman, “so you heard all this on the staircase, eh?”
“Yes, certainly I did.”
"Well, if you had gone into the drawing-rooms you would have heard and seen still more. On all sides joy, laughter, felicitations, and upon the features of M. and Madame de Crivelin that air of satisfaction and happiness which the sight of the happiness we confer on others ever affords; and on all sides assurances of friendship and esteem, and the devotion of the Count de Formund, and the repressed joy of Adèle de Crivelin, and their furtively exchanged glances, and the gentle and benevolent smiles of the old people when they would surprise some of these glances and think of their early days; and the pride of the father, and the exulting love of the mother, delighted with her daughter's success. All this, I say, formed a charming picture. It was the same at midnight, at one o'clock in the morning, at three, at five even ; but at daybreak the curtain fell, the play was over, and the drama of real life commenced.”
"Ah, bah!” said Mark Anthony, - I suppose the Crivelins are deeply involved, and, like many others, hide their ruin under an appearance of luxury and splendour."
“A good action—nothing but a good action-forgotten for these last fifteen years, and which has all at once presented itself to them under the form of a hideous, yellow, dissipated looking rascal, a low thief, who has rubbed off the dirt of his tatters upon the silk damask of those
gilded sofas which an hour previously had sustained the light forms of the young and beautiful dancers.”
“I don't understand you."
“Listen to me, then. This man, clad in a dirty suit of cast-off livery, had remained all night in the artichamber. Amongst the crowd of servants he had escaped the observation of the domestics of the house; but as the saloons began to thin, and the antichambers also in consequence, they began to remark his presence there, and looked on him, it must be said, with a very suspicious eye; but the rogue was by no means disconcerted with this demonstration, and only stretched himself out more at his ease on the benches. At length came the moment when the last guests had taken their departure, and our ragged friend still remained at his post. They ended by asking him whom he was waiting for.
“I am waiting for my master, M. Eugene Ligny." " There is no such person here,' they replied. "'I tell you that he is here; ask your master, he'll soon find him.'
“The domestics grew angry, our ragged friend loud; and M. de Crivelin appeared at the door of the antichamber to inquire the cause of the disturbance.
" It is this man, sir,' replied the valet de chamber, who refuses to leave the house on the pretence that he is waiting for his master.'
6And what is his master's name?"
6. The person I seek,' said the unknown lacquey, 'is named Eugene Ligny, and I shall not stir a peg until I have spoken to him.'
“Scarcely had he pronounced these words, when M. de Crivelin started back as if he had received a dagger in his heart; he turned deadly pale, and fixed his eyes with an expression of mute terror on the countenance of his strange visitor; then, with difficulty concealing his emotion, he gave orders to his domestics to retire, and invited the man to follow him.
“Petty annoyances generally come in the train of great catastrophes. A house in which one has just given a ball to upwards of 500 persons is seldom in order; the doors having been taken off their hinges and removed for the convenience of the dancers, left the apartments open to all eyes. M. and Madame de Crivelin had kept but their own bedchamber and that of their daughter secluded from the general invasion. It was now broad daylight; Madame de Crivelin was in the hands of her femme de chamber, when her husband came to beg that she would retire to her daughter's bedroom for a few moments, and let him have their chamber for an interview of the greatest importance.
“Ah,' said she, laughing, 'I would lay a wager now that it is M. de Formont who pursues you. But I suppose lovers don't require any sleep. Cannot you put him off to some more seasonable hour ?'
" No, it is not that, it is for mercy-sake retire until I come for you.'
“But what is the matter, then ?' cried Madame de Crivelin ; 'you are pale-ill-what is it?'
"Nothing, my love, nothing; but I beg of you to leave us.'
“Madame de Crivelin retired, but carried with her a feeling of uneasiness and anxiety which she in vain endeavoured to control, and which soon gained also upon her daughter; for Adéle was not yet asleep, and seeing her mother enter her room pale and anxious, she questioned her, and began to tremble in her turn. Here, then, were these two poor women enclosed in the narrowest corner of their splendid apartments, anxiously awaiting the issue of a conference as singular as it was unexpected, and at the bare idea of which only M. de Crivelin had been so visibly agitated. With whom was it? What did he say? And what powerful argument had been made use of to induce him to give a similar interview at such an unseasonable hour? Adéle fancied that some terrible accident must have happened to her lover ; Madame de Crivelin lost herself in a labyrinth of confused and impossible suppositions.
"During this time, let us see what was passing in the bed-room, in which M. de Crivelin was closeted with the dirty servant.
"You have recognised me then, Eugène?' said the stranger. "You here!' said M. de Crivelin. "You living!'
"When you believed me dead, that's pleasant, is'nt it. What would you have-it's all right. Order me a glass of wine and a slice of ham, and you'll soon see if I am a ghost or not.'
“Come, come, Jules, it is not for this that you are come here: speak, speak then, unhappy man.'
"I'll tell you what it is; for these last six hours, I have been waiting in your anti-chamber-I am dying of hunger and thirst-I want to eat and drink.'
"What is all this about?'
“I want to eat and drink, I tell you. Come, go and get me something yourself, if you are afraid of your domestics soiling their hands by serving me.'
“Crivelin left the room without replying. He returned in a few moments with a plate, which he placed before his strange guest.
“Now,' he said to him, 'speak, what would you have.' "Jules sat down to his supper, and while eating, spoke as follows:
"Listen to me, Eugène; you remember a letter you wrote to me seventeen years ago—here it is.' The epistle ran thus:
"'You see, Jules, your mad career has terminated as I foretold. From disorder you have passed to faults, from faults to crime; and now, a disgraceful condemnation hangs over your head. Since you have been enabled to effect your escape from prison, profit by your liberty, and fly, but fly alone. Drag not with you an innocent child, who has but just entered the world into that wandering existence which you must hasten to conceal in a far distant land. Leave me your daughter. When the vengeance of the law overtook you, misfortune overtook me also: my daughter is dying. If God preserves her, yours will be to her a sister; if it pleases the Almighty to deprive us of her, your Marie shall take her place. I send you some money, sufficient to enable you in another country, to regain the position you have lost in this.'
"That's your writing, Eugène, is it not?' “ It is.'
“Eight days later,' continued this man, 'you departed, carrying with you the two children into Italy, both aged then about two years; you were on your way to rejoin your wife, who had been obliged to
quit you in order to receive the last adieu and pardon of her mother, who died at Naples. You had married her against the wishes of her relatives, and this noble family had forbidden your presence at the reconciliation. Your mother-in-law being dead, you rejoined your wife. As to me, the better to assure my flight, I had deposited on the banks of the river a letter, in which I stated that I was unable to survive my shame ; and a month afterwards you received the news of my death. At that very time your daughter died at Ancona, and you made the usual declaration of it to the authorities, under the name which you then bore. You then continued your journey, allowing all the strangers whom you encountered on your way, to consider the child which accompanied you, as your daughter. You yourself, charmed with her grace, her beauty, and her affection for you-you, I say, called her your daughter; travelling slowly, dreading the moment when you should be obliged to tell your wife that her child was dead. Then, a sudden thought came into your mind. Your wife, led by her brother, M. de Crivelin, to the death-bed of her mother, had quitted Adéle three months after her birth, at that age when the features of children change so perceptibly with almost every succeeding month. Could not Marie, the daughter of Jules Marsilly, dead as you thought, replace in a mother's eyes, the lost Adéle? Your wife fell ill in her turn; the news of her daughter's death might prove fatal to her; you decided upon deceiving her; Marie Marsilly became Adéle Ligny.'
“Since you know so well the sentiments which dictated my conduct,' said M. de Crevelin, can you blame me?'
“I blame nothing,' replied the drunkard, 'I merely recount facts.' “He drank a couple of glasses of wine, and proceeded as follows:
"Your ruse succeeded beautifully, it succeeded even beyond your hopes; not only was your wife delighted with her charming little daughter, but her uncle, M. de Crevelin, who could never pardon you for having become his brother-in-law, became dotingly fond of the child, and eight years afterwards, left her his entire fortune, naming you her guardian, on condition that you added his name to your own. And this is why you re-entered France under the name of Eugène Ligny de Crivelin.'
*. But I have never deceived any one; I have never denied my name.'
"You are incapable of doing so. Only by degrees you dropped the name of Ligny, and called yourself de Crivelin; and, as I had seldom heard mention made of this name in my youth, I should never have suspected that the wealthy M. de Crivelin, was my old college chum, Eugene Ligny, had not I seen the other day, posted at the doors of the Mairie of my arrondissement, the marriage banns of Mademoiselle Adéle Ligny de Crivelin, with the Count Bertrand de Formont.
“When I saw this, I asked myself how it was, that the Adéle who died at Ancona, was alive and well in Paris.'
“It is a falsehood,' said M. de Crivelin, who fancied he saw a loophole by which he could escape from his embarrassing position.
"My good man," said the brigand, with a slight laugh, do not play a character which you are ignorant of. I passed through Ancona the day after your daughter's death, and every one was talking of your