The next day, Wednesday, Monsieur
Rabourdin was to transact business
with the minister, for he had
filled the late La Billardiere's
place since the beginning of
the latter's illness. On such
days the clerks came punctually,
the servants were specially attentive,
there was always a certain excitement
in the offices on these signing-days,--and
why, nobody ever knew. On this
occasion the three servants were
at their post, flattering themselves
they should get a few fees; for
a rumor of Rabourdin's nomination
had spread through the ministry
the night before, thanks to Dutocq.
Uncle Antoine and Laurent had
donned their full uniform, when,
at a quarter to eight, des Lupeaulx's
servant came in with a letter,
which he begged Antoine to give
secretly to Dutocq, saying that
the general-secretary had ordered
him to deliver it without fail
at Monsieur Dutocq's house by
"I'm sure I don't know how
it happened," he said, "but I
overslept myself. I've only just
waked up, and he'd play the devil's
tattoo on me if he knew the letter
hadn't gone. I know a famous
secret, Antoine; but don't say
anything about it to the clerks
if I tell you; promise? He would
send me off if he knew I had
said a single word; he told me
"What's inside the letter?" asked
Antoine, eying it.
looked this way--see."
He made the letter gape open,
and showed Antoine that there
was nothing but blank paper to
"This is going to be a great
day for you, Laurent," went on
the secretary's man. "You are
to have a new director. Economy
must be the order of the day,
for they are going to unite the
two divisions under one director--you
fellows will have to look out!"
"Yes, nine clerks are put on
the retired list," said Dutocq,
who came in at the moment; "how
did you hear that?"
Antoine gave him the letter,
and he had no sooner opened it
than he rushed headlong downstairs
in the direction of the secretary's
The bureaus Rabourdin and Baudoyer,
after idling and gossiping since
the death of Monsieur de la Billardiere,
were now recovering their usual
official look and the dolce far
niente habits of a government
office. Nevertheless, the approaching
end of the year did cause rather
more application among the clerks,
just as porters and servants
become at that season more unctuously
civil. They all came punctually,
for one thing; more remained
after four o'clock than was usual
at other times. It was not forgotten
that fees and gratuities depend
on the last impressions made
upon the minds of masters. The
news of the union of the two
divisions, that of La Billardiere
and that of Clergeot, under one
director, had spread through
the various offices. The number
of the clerks to be retired was
known, but all were in ignorance
of the names. It was taken for
granted that Poiret would not
be replaced, and that would be
a retrenchment. Little La Billardiere
had already departed. Two new
supernumeraries had made their
appearance, and, alarming circumstance!
they were both sons of deputies.
The news told about in the offices
the night before, just as the
clerks were dispersing, agitated
all minds, and for the first
half-hour after arrival in the
morning they stood around the
stoves and talked it over. But
earlier than that, Dutocq, as
we have seen, had rushed to des
Lupeaulx on receiving his note,
and found him dressing. Without
laying down his razor, the general-secretary
cast upon his subordinate the
glance of a general issuing an
"Are we alone?" he
March on Rabourdin; forward!
steady! Of course you
kept a copy of that paper?"
me? Inde iroe! There must be
a general hue and
cry raised against him. Find
some way to start a clamor--"
"I could get
a man to make a caricature,
but I haven't five
hundred francs to pay for it."
"He shall have
a thousand and be under-head-clerk
who will arrange with them; tell
"But he wouldn't
believe it on nothing more
than my word."
"Are you trying
to make me compromise myself?
the thing or let it alone; do
you hear me?"
Baudoyer were director--"
"Well, he will
be. Go now, and make haste;
you have no time
to lose. Go down the back-stairs;
I don't want people to know you
have just seen me."
While Dutocq was returning
to the clerks' office and asking
himself how he could best incite
a clamor against his chief without
compromising himself, Bixiou
rushed to the Rabourdin office
for a word of greeting. Believing
that he had lost his bet the
incorrigible joker thought it
amusing to pretend that he had
Phellion's voice]. "Gentlemen,
I salute you with a collective
do, and I appoint Sunday next
for the dinner at the Rocher
de Cancale. But a serious question
presents itself. Is that dinner
to include the clerks who are
those who retire?"
Bixiou. "Not that I care, for
it isn't I who pay." [General
stupefaction.] "Baudoyer is appointed.
I think I already hear him calling
Laurent" [mimicking Baudoyer], "Laurent!
lock up my hair- shirt, and my
scourge." [They all roar with
laughter.] "Yes, yes, he laughs
well who laughs last. Gentlemen,
there's a great deal in that
anagram of Colleville's. 'Xavier
Rabourdin, chef de bureau--D'abord
reva bureaux, e-u fin riche.'
If I were named 'Charles X.,
par la grace de Dieu roi de France
et de Navarre,' I should tremble
in my shoes at the fate those
here! are you making fun?"
I am not. Rabourdin resigns
in a rage at finding
Baudoyer appointed director."
Vimeux [entering.] "Nonsense,
no such thing! Antoine (to whom
I have just been paying forty
francs that I owed him) tells
me that Monsieur and Madame Rabourdin
were at the minister's private
party last night and stayed till
midnight. His Excellency escorted
Madame Rabourdin to the staircase.
It seems she was divinely dressed.
In short, it is quite certain
that Rabourdin is to be director.
Riffe, the secretary's copying
clerk, told me he sat up all
the night before to draw the
papers; it is no longer a secret.
Monsieur Clergeot is retired.
After thirty years' service that's
no misfortune. Monsieur Cochlin,
who is rich--"
cochineal; he's a partner in
the house of Matifat,
rue des Lombards. Well, he is
retired; so is Poiret. Neither
is to be replaced. So much is
certain; the rest is all conjecture.
The appointment of Monsieur Rabourdin
is to be announced this morning;
they are afraid of intrigues."
Fleury. "Baudoyer's, confound
him! The priests uphold him;
here's another article in the
liberal journal,--only half a
dozen lines, but they are queer" [reads]:
spoke last night in the lobby
of the Opera-house
of the return of Monsieur de
Chateaubriand to the ministry,
basing their opinion on the choice
made of Monsieur Rabourdin (the
protege of friends of the noble
viscount) to fill the office
for which Monsieur Baudoyer was
first selected. The clerical
party is not likely to withdraw
unless in deference to the great
having heard the whole discussion]. "Blackguards!
Who? Rabourdin? Then you know
his eyes savagely]. "Rabourdin
a blackguard! Are you mad, Dutocq?
do you want a ball in your brains
to give them weight?"
said nothing against Monsieur
Rabourdin; only it has
just been told to me in confidence
that he has written a paper denouncing
all the clerks and officials,
and full of facts about their
lives; in short, the reason why
his friends support him is because
he has written this paper against
the administration, in which
we are all exposed--"
a loud voice]. "Monsieur
Rabourdin is incapable of--"
Bixiou. "Very proper in you
to say so. Tell me, Dutocq" [they
whisper together and then go
into the corridor].
you remember what I said to
you about that caricature?"
it, and you shall be under-head-clerk
with a famous
fee. The fact is, my dear fellow,
there's dissension among the
powers that be. The minister
is pledged to Rabourdin, but
if he doesn't appoint Baudoyer
he offends the priests and their
party. You see, the King, the
Dauphin and the Dauphine, the
clergy, and lastly the court,
all want Baudoyer; the minister
ease the matter off, the minister,
who sees he
must give way, wants to strangle
the difficulty. We must find
some good reason for getting
rid of Rabourdin. Now somebody
has lately unearthed a paper
of his, exposing the present
system of administration and
wanting to reform it; and that
paper is going the rounds,--at
least, this is how I understand
the matter. Make the drawing
we talked of; in so doing you'll
play the game of all the big
people, and help the minister,
the court, the clergy,--in short,
everybody; and you'll get your
appointment. Now do you understand
don't understand how you came
to know all that;
perhaps you are inventing it."
you want me to let you see
what Rabourdin wrote
come home with me; for I must
put the document
into safe keeping."
Bixiou. "You go first alone." [Re-enters
the bureau Rabourdin.] "What
Dutocq told you is really all
true, word of honor! It seems
that Monsieur Rabourdin has written
and sent in very unflattering
descriptions of the clerks whom
he wants to 'reform.' That's
the real reason why his secret
friends wish him appointed. Well,
well; we live in days when nothing
astonishes me" [flings his cloak
about him like Talma, and declaims]:--
"Thou who has
seen the fall of grand, illustrious
Why thus amazed, insensate that
"to find a man like Rabourdin
employing such means? Baudoyer
is too much of a fool to know
how to use them. Accept my congratulations,
gentlemen; either way you are
under a most illustrious chief" [goes
shall leave this ministry without
a single word that gentleman
utters. What does he mean with
his 'heads that fall'?"
that fell?' why, think of the
of Rochelle, Ney, Berton, Caron,
the brothers Faucher, and the
asserts very flippantly things
that he only
at once that he lies; in his
mouth truth itself
turns to corrosion."
language is unparliamentary
and lacks the
courtesy and consideration which
are due to a colleague."
seems to me that if what he
says is false, the
proper name for it is calumny,
defamation of character; and
such a slanderer deserves the
hot]. "If the
government offices are public
places, the matter ought to be
taken into the police-courts."
to avert a quarrel, tries to
conversation]. "Gentleman, might
I ask you to keep quiet? I am
writing a little treatise on
moral philosophy, and I am just
at the heart of it."
Fleury [interrupting]. "What
are you saying about it, Monsieur
Phellion [reading]. "Question.--What
is the soul of man?
spiritual substance which thinks
substance! you might as well
interrupt; let him go on."
Phellion [continuing]. "Quest.--Whence
comes the soul?
God, who created it of a nature
one and indivisible;
the destructibility thereof is,
consequently, not conceivable,
and he hath said--"
Poiret [amazed]. "God
monsieur; tradition authorizes
don't interrupt, yourself."
Phellion [resuming]. "--and
he hath said that he created
it immortal; in other words,
the soul can never die.
are the uses of the soul?
to will, to remember; these
understanding, volition, memory.
are the uses of the understanding?
It is the eye of the soul."
the soul is the eye of what?"
Phellion [continuing]. "Quest.--What
ought the understanding to know?
does man possess volition?
good and hate evil.
which makes us happy."
do you teach that to young
Phellion. "Yes" [continuing]. "Quest.--How
many kinds of good are there?"
indecorous, to say the least."
Phellion [aggrieved]. "Oh,
monsieur!" [Controlling himself.] "But
here's the answer,--that's as
far as I have got" [reads]:--
are two kinds of good,--eternal
good and temporal
a look of contempt]. "And
does that sell for anything?"
hope it will. It requires great
of mind to carry on a system
of questions and answers; that
is why I ask you to be quiet
and let me think, for the answers--"
Thuillier [interrupting]. "The
answers might be sold separately."
that a pun?"
Phellion. "I am sorry I interrupted
you" [he dives into his office
desk]. "But" [to himself] "at
any rate, I have stopped their
talking about Monsieur Rabourdin."
At this moment a scene was
taking place between the minister
and des Lupeaulx which decided
Rabourdin's fate. The general-secretary
had gone to see the minister
in his private study before the
breakfast- hour, to make sure
that La Briere was not within
is not treating me frankly--"
"He means a quarrel," thought
the minister; "and all because
his mistress coquetted with me
last night. I did not think you
so juvenile, my dear friend," he
"Friend?" said the general-secretary, "that
is what I want to find out."
The minister looked haughtily
at des Lupeaulx.
"We are alone," continued the
secretary, "and we can come to
an understanding. The deputy
of the arrondissement in which
my estate is situated--"
"So it is really an estate!" said
the minister, laughing, to hide
"Increased by a recent purchase
of two hundred thousand francs'
worth of adjacent property," replied
des Lupeaulx, carelessly. "You
knew of the deputy's approaching
resignation at least ten days
ago, and you did not tell me
of it. You were perhaps not bound
to do so, but you knew very well
that I am most anxious to take
my seat in the centre. Has it
occurred to you that I might
fling myself back on the 'Doctrine'?--which,
let me tell you, will destroy
the administration and the monarchy
both if you continue to allow
the party of representative government
to be recruited from men of talent
whom you ignore. Don't you know
that in every nation there are
fifty to sixty, not more, dangerous
heads, whose schemes are in proportion
to their ambition? The secret
of knowing how to govern is to
know those heads well, and either
to chop them off or buy them.
I don't know how much talent
I have, but I know that I have
ambition; and you are committing
a serious blunder when you set
aside a man who wishes you well.
The anointed head dazzles for
the time being, but what next?--Why,
a war of words; discussions will
spring up once more and grow
embittered, envenomed. Then,
for your own sake, I advise you
not to find me at the Left Centre.
In spite of your prefect's manoeuvres
(instructions for which no doubt
went from here confidentially)
I am secure of a majority. The
time has come for you and me
to understand each other. After
a breeze like this people sometimes
become closer friends than ever.
I must be made count and receive
the grand cordon of the Legion
of honor as a reward for my public
services. However, I care less
for those things just now than
I do for something else in which
you are more personally concerned.
You have not yet appointed Rabourdin,
and I have news this morning
which tends to show that most
persons will be better satisfied
if you appoint Baudoyer."
"Appoint Baudoyer!" echoed
the minister. "Do you know him?"
"Yes," said des Lupeaulx; "but
suppose he proves incapable,
as he will, you can then get
rid of him by asking those who
protect him to employ him elsewhere.
You will thus get back an important
office to give to friends; it
may come in at the right moment
to facilitate some compromise."
"But I have
pledged it to Rabourdin."
"That may be;
and I don't ask you to make
the change this very
day. I know the danger of saying
yes and no within twenty-four
hours. But postpone the appointment,
and don't sign the papers till
the day after to-morrow; by that
time you may find it impossible
to retain Rabourdin,--in fact,
in all probability, he will send
you his resignation--"
"He is the
tool of a secret power in whose
interests he has
carried on a system of espionage
in all the ministries, and the
thing has been discovered by
mere accident. He has written
a paper of some kind, giving
short histories of all the officials.
Everybody is talking of it; the
clerks are furious. For heaven's
sake, don't transact business
with him to-day; let me find
some means for you to avoid it.
Ask an audience of the King;
I am sure you will find great
satisfaction there if you concede
the point about Baudoyer; and
you can obtain something as an
equivalent. Your position will
be better than ever if you are
forced later to dismiss a fool
whom the court party impose upon
"What has made
you turn against Rabourdin?"
"Would you forgive Monsieur
de Chateaubriand for writing
an article against the ministry?
Well, read that, and see how
Rabourdin has treated me in his
secret document," said des Lupeaulx,
giving the paper to the minister. "He
pretends to reorganize the government
from beginning to end,--no doubt
in the interests of some secret
society of which, as yet, we
know nothing. I shall continue
to be his friend for the sake
of watching him; by that means
I may render the government such
signal service that they will
have to make me count; for the
peerage is the only thing I really
care for. I want you fully to
understand that I am not seeking
office or anything else that
would cause me to stand in your
way; I am simply aiming for the
peerage, which will enable me
to marry a banker's daughter
with an income of a couple of
hundred thousand francs. And
so, allow me to render you a
few signal services which will
make the King feel that I have
saved the throne. I have long
said that Liberalism would never
offer us a pitched battle. It
has given up conspiracies, Carbonaroism,
and revolts with weapons; it
is now sapping and mining, and
the day is coming when it will
be able to say, 'Out of that
and let me in!' Do you think
I have been courting Rabourdin's
wife for my own pleasure? No,
but I got much information from
her. So now, let us agree on
two things; first, the postponement
of the appointment; second, your
SINCERE support of my election.
You shall find at the end of
the session that I have amply
For all answer, the minister
took the appointment papers and
placed them in des Lupeaulx's
"I will go and tell Rabourdin," added
des Lupeaulx, "that you cannot
transact business with him till
The minister replied with an
assenting gesture. The secretary
despatched his man with a message
to Rabourdin that the minister
could not work with him until
Saturday, on which day the Chamber
was occupied with private bills,
and his Excellency had more time
at his disposal.
Just at this moment Saillard,
having brought the monthly stipend,
was slipping his little speech
into the ear of the minister's
wife, who drew herself up and
answered with dignity that she
did not meddle in political matters,
and besides, she had heard that
Monsieur Rabourdin was already
appointed. Saillard, terrified,
rushed up to Baudoyer's office,
where he found Dutocq, Godard,
and Bixiou in a state of exasperation
difficult to describe; for they
were reading the terrible paper
on the administration in which
they were all discussed.
his finger on a paragraph]. "Here YOU are,
pere Saillard. Listen" [reads]:--
office of cashier to be suppressed
in all the ministries;
their accounts to be kept in
future at the Treasury. Saillard
is rich and does not need a pension.
"Do you want to hear about
your son-in-law?" [Turns over
the leaves.] "Here he is" [reads]:--
incapable. To be thanked and
Rich; does not need a pension.
"And here's for Godard" [reads]:--
be dismissed; pension one-third
of his present
"In short, here we all are.
Listen to what I am" [reads]: "An
artist who might be employed
by the civil list, at the Opera,
or the Menus- Plaisirs, or the
Museum. Great deal of capacity,
little self-respect, no application,--a
restless spirit. Ha! I'll give
you a touch of the artist, Monsieur
cashiers! Why, the man's a
Bixiou. "Let us see what he
says of our mysterious Desroys." [Turns
over the pages; reads.]
because he cannot be shaken
that are subversive of monarchial
power. He is the son of the Conventionel,
and he admires the Convention.
He may become a very mischievous
police are not worse spies!"
shall go the general-secretary
and lay a complaint in form;
we must all resign in a body
if such a man as that is put
listen to me; let us be prudent.
you rise at once in a body, we
may all be accused of rancor
and revenge. No, let the thing
work, let the rumor spread quietly.
When the whole ministry is aroused
your remonstrances will meet
with general approval."
believes in the principles
of the grand air
composed by the sublime Rossini
for Basilio,--which goes to show,
by the bye, that the great composer
was also a great politician.
I shall leave my card on Monsieur
Rabourdin to-morrow morning,
inscribed thus: 'Bixiou; no self-respect,
no application, restless mind.'"
good idea, gentlemen. Let us
all leave our cards to-morrow
on Rabourdin inscribed in the
Bixiou apart]. "Come,
you'll agree to make that caricature
now, won't you?"
Bixiou. "I see plainly, my
dear fellow, that you knew all
about this affair ten days ago" [looks
him in the eye]. "Am I to be
my word of honor, yes, and
a thousand-franc fee
beside, just as I told you. You
don't know what a service you'll
be rendering to powerful personages."
then I want to speak with them."
Dutocq [dryly]. "You
can make the caricature or
not, and you
can be under-head-clerk or not,--as
any rate, let me see that thousand
shall have them when you bring
Bixiou. "Forward, march! that
lampoon shall go from end to
end of the bureaus to-morrow
morning. Let us go and torment
the Rabourdins." [Then speaking
to Saillard, Godard, and Baudoyer,
who were talking together in
a low voice.] "We are going to
stir up the neighbors." [Goes
with Dutocq into the Rabourdin
bureau. Fleury, Thuillier, and
Vimeux are there, talking excitedly.] "What's
the matter, gentlemen? All that
I told you turns out to be true;
you can go and see for yourselves
the work of this infamous informer;
for it is in the hands of the
virtuous, honest, estimable,
upright, and pious Baudoyer,
who is indeed utterly incapable
of doing any such thing. Your
chief has got every one of you
under the guillotine. Go and
see; follow the crowd; money
returned if you are not satisfied;
execution GRATIS! The appointments
are postponed. All the bureaus
are in arms; Rabourdin has been
informed that the minister will
not work with him. Come, be off;
go and see for yourselves."
They all depart except Phellion
and Poiret, who are left alone.
The former loved Rabourdin too
well to look for proof that might
injure a man he was determined
not to judge; the other had only
five days more to remain in the
office, and cared nothing either
way. Just then Sebastien came
down to collect the papers for
signature. He was a good deal
surprised, though he did not
show it, to find the office deserted.
Phellion. "My young friend" [he
rose, a rare thing], "do you
know what is going on? what scandals
are rife about Monsieur Rabourdin
whom you love, and" [bending
to whisper in Sebastien's ear] "whom
I love as much as I respect him.
They say he has committed the
imprudence to leave a paper containing
comments on the officials lying
about in the office--" [Phellion
stopped short, caught the young
man in his strong arms, seeing
that he turned pale and was near
fainting, and placed him on a
chair.] "A key, Monsieur Poiret,
to put down his back; have you
have the key of my domicile."
[Old Poiret junior promptly
inserted the said key between
Sebastien's shoulders, while
Phellion gave him some water
to drink. The poor lad no sooner
opened his eyes than he began
to weep. He laid his head on
Phellion's desk, and all his
limbs were limp as if struck
by lightning; while his sobs
were so heartrending, so genuine,
that for the first time in his
life Poiret's feelings were stirred
by the sufferings of another.]
come, my young friend; courage!
In times of trial we must show
courage. You are a man. What
is the matter? What has happened
to distress you so terribly?"
Sebastien [sobbing]. "It
is I who have ruined Monsieur
I left that paper lying about
when I copied it. I have killed
my benefactor; I shall die myself.
Such a noble man!--a man who
ought to be minister!"
his nose]. "Then
it is true he wrote the report."
it was to--there, I was going
to tell his secrets! Ah! that
wretch of a Dutocq; it was he
who stole the paper."
His tears and sobs recommenced
and made so much noise that Rabourdin
came up to see what was the matter.
He found the young fellow almost
fainting in the arms of Poiret
is the matter, gentlemen?"
to his feet, and then falling
knees before Rabourdin]. "I have
ruined you, monsieur. That memorandum,--
Dutocq, the monster, he must
have taken it."
Rabourdin [calmly]. "I knew
that already" [he lifts Sebastien]. "You
are a child, my young friend." [Speaks
to Phellion.] "Where are the
have gone into Monsieur Baudoyer's
see a paper which it is said--"
him]. "Enough." [Goes
out, taking Sebastien with him.
Poiret and Phellion look at each
other in amazement, and do not
know what to say.]
I never! Monsieur Rabourdin!"
did you notice how calm and
dignified he was?"
a sly look that was more like
a grimace]. "I
shouldn't be surprised if there
were something under it all."
man of honor; pure and spotless."
Poiret, you think as I think
surely you understand me?"
his head three times and answering
with a shrewd
look]. "Yes." [The other clerks
great shock; I still don't
believe the thing. Monsieur
Rabourdin, a king among men!
If such men are spies, it is
enough to disgust one with virtue.
I have always put Rabourdin among
is all true."
that he had only five days
more to stay
in the office]. "But, gentlemen,
what do you say about the man
who stole that paper, who spied
upon Rabourdin?" [Dutocq left
say he is a Judas Iscariot.
Who is he?"
Phellion [significantly]. "He
is not here at THIS MOMENT."
Vimeux [enlightened]. "It
have no proof of it, gentlemen.
While you were
gone, that young man, Monsieur
de la Roche, nearly fainted here.
See his tears on my desk!"
Poiret. "We held him fainting
in our arms.--My key, the key
of my domicile!--dear, dear!
it is down his back." [Poiret
goes hastily out.]
minister refused to transact
business with Rabourdin
to- day; and Monsieur Saillard,
to whom the secretary said a
few words, came to tell Monsieur
Baudoyer to apply for the cross
of the Legion of honor,--there
is one to be granted, you know,
on New-Year's day, to all the
heads of divisions. It is quite
clear what it all means. Monsieur
Rabourdin is sacrificed by the
very persons who employed him.
Bixiou says so. We were all to
be turned out, except Sebastien
Du Bruel [entering]. "Well,
gentlemen, is it true?"
the last word."
Du Bruel [putting
his hat on again]. "Good-bye." [Hurries
may rush as much as he pleases
to his Duc
de Rhetore and Duc de Maufrigneuse,
but Colleville is to be our under-head-clerk,
Bruel always seemed to be attached
Poiret [returning]. "I have
had a world of trouble to get
back my key. That boy is crying
still, and Monsieur Rabourdin
has disappeared." [Dutocq and
Bixiou. "Ha, gentlemen! strange
things are going on in your bureau.
Du Bruel! I want you." [Looks
into the adjoining room.] "Gone?"
evaporated, melted! Such a
man, the king
of men, that he--"
Dutocq]. "That little
Sebastien, in his trouble, said
that you, Monsieur Dutocq, had
taken the paper from him ten
at Dutocq]. "You
must clear yourself of THAT,
my good friend." [All the clerks
look fixedly at Dutocq.]
the little viper who copied
Bixiou. "Copied it? How did
you know he copied it? Ha! ha!
it is only the diamond that cuts
the diamond." [Dutocq leaves
you listen to me, Monsieur
Bixiou? I have only
five days and a half to stay
in this office, and I do wish
that once, only once, I might
have the pleasure of understanding
what you mean. Do me the honor
to explain what diamonds have
to do with these present circumstances."
meant papa,--for I'm willing
for once to bring
my intellect down to the level
of yours,--that just as the diamond
alone can cut the diamond, so
it is only one inquisitive man
who can defeat another inquisitive
man' stands for 'spy.'"
well; try again some other
Monsieur Rabourdin, after taking
Sebastien to his room, had gone
straight to the minister; but
the minister was at the Chamber
of Deputies. Rabourdin went at
once to the Chamber, where he
wrote a note to his Excellency,
who was at that moment in the
tribune engaged in a hot discussion.
Rabourdin waited, not in the
conference hall, but in the courtyard,
where, in spite of the cold,
he resolved to remain and intercept
his Excellency as he got into
his carriage. The usher of the
Chamber had told him that the
minister was in the thick of
a controversy raised by the nineteen
members of the extreme Left,
and that the session was likely
to be stormy. Rabourdin walked
to and for in the courtyard of
the palace for five mortal hours,
a prey to feverish agitation.
At half-past six o'clock the
session broke up, and the members
filed out. The minister's chasseur
came up to find the coachman.
"Hi, Jean!" he called out to
him; "Monseigneur has gone with
the minister of war; they are
going to see the King, and after
that they dine together, and
we are to fetch him at ten o'clock.
There's a Council this evening."
Rabourdin walked slowly home,
in a state of despondency not
difficult to imagine. It was
seven o'clock, and he had barely
time to dress.
"Well, you are appointed?" cried
his wife, joyously, as he entered
his head with a grievous motion
and answered, "I fear I shall
never again set foot in the ministry."
his wife, quivering with sudden
on the officials is known in
all the offices;
and I have not been able to see
Celestine's eyes were opened
to a sudden vision in which the
devil, in one of his infernal
flashes, showed her the meaning
of her last conversation with
"If I had behaved like a low
woman," she thought, "we should
have had the place."
She looked at Rabourdin with
grief in her heart. A sad silence
fell between them, and dinner
was eaten in the midst of gloomy
"And it is my Wednesday," she
said at last.
"All is not lost, dear Celestine," said
Rabourdin, laying a kiss on his
wife's forehead; "perhaps to-morrow
I shall be able to see the minister
and explain everything. Sebastien
sat up all last night to finish
the writing; the papers are copied
and collated; I shall place them
on the minister's desk and beg
him to read them through. La
Briere will help me. A man is
never condemned without a hearing."
"I am curious
to see if Monsieur des Lupeaulx
will come here to-
"He? Of course he will come," said
Rabourdin; "there's something
of the tiger in him; he likes
to lick the blood of the wounds
he has given."
"My poor husband," said his
wife, taking his hand, "I don't
see how it is that a man who
could conceive so noble a reform
did not also see that it ought
not to be communicated to a single
person. It is one of those ideas
that a man should keep in his
own mind, for he alone can apply
them. A statesman must do in
our political sphere as Napoleon
did in his; he stooped, twisted,
crawled. Yes, Bonaparte crawled!
To be made commander-in-chief
of the Army of Italy he married
Barrere's mistress. You should
have waited, got yourself elected
deputy, followed the politics
of a party, sometimes down in
the depths, at other times on
the crest of the wave, and you
should have taken, like Monsieur
de Villele, the Italian motto
'Col tempo,' in other words,
'All things are given to him
who knows how to wait.' That
great orator worked for seven
years to get into power; he began
in 1814 by protesting against
the Charter when he was the same
age that you are now. Here's
your fault; you have allowed
yourself to be kept subordinate,
when you were born to rule."
The entrance of the painter
Schinner imposed silence on the
wife and husband, but these words
made the latter thoughtful.
"Dear friend," said the painter,
grasping Rabourdin's hand, "the
support of artists is a useless
thing enough, but let me say
under these circumstances that
we are all faithful to you. I
have just read the evening papers.
Baudoyer is appointed director
and receives the cross of the
Legion of honor--"
"I have been longer in the
department, I have served twenty-four
hours," said Rabourdin with a
"I know Monsieur le Comte de
Serizy, the minister of State,
pretty well, and if he can help
you, I will go and see him," said
The salon soon filled with
persons who knew nothing of the
government proceedings. Du Bruel
did not appear. Madame Rabourdin
was gayer and more graceful than
ever, like the charger wounded
in battle, that still finds strength
to carry his master from the
"She is very courageous," said
a few women who knew the truth,
and who were charmingly attentive
to her, understanding her misfortunes.
"But she certainly did a great
deal to attract des Lupeaulx," said
the Baronne du Chatelet to the
Vicomtesse de Fontaine.
"Do you think--" began
"If so," interrupted Madame
de Camps, in defence of her friend, "Monsieur
Rabourdin would at least have
had the cross."
About eleven o'clock des Lupeaulx
appeared; and we can only describe
him by saying that his spectacles
were sad and his eyes joyous;
the glasses, however, obscured
the glances so successfully that
only a physiognomist would have
seen the diabolical expression
which they wore. He went up to
Rabourdin and pressed the hand
which the latter could not avoid
Then he approached Madame Rabourdin.
"We have much to say to each
other," he remarked as he seated
himself beside the beautiful
woman, who received him admirably.
"Ah!" he continued, giving
her a side glance, "you are grand
indeed; I find you just what
I expected, glorious under defeat.
Do you know that it is a very
rare thing to find a superior
woman who answers to the expectations
formed of her. So defeat doesn't
dishearten you? You are right;
we shall triumph in the end," he
whispered in her ear. "Your fate
is always in your own hands,--so
long, I mean, as your ally is
a man who adores you. We will
hold counsel together."
"But is Baudoyer appointed?" she
"Does he get
"Not yet; but
he will have it later."
"Ah! you don't
understand political exigencies."
During this evening, which
seemed interminable to Madame
Rabourdin, another scene was
occurring in the place Royale,--one
of those comedies which are played
in seven Parisian salons whenever
there is a change of ministry.
The Saillards' salon was crowded.
Monsieur and Madame Transon arrived
at eight o'clock; Madame Transon
kissed Madame Baudoyer, nee Saillard.
Monsieur Bataille, captain of
the National Guard, came with
his wife and the curate of Saint
"Monsieur Baudoyer," said Madame
Transon. "I wish to be the first
to congratulate you; they have
done justice to your talents.
You have indeed earned your promotion."
"Here you are, director," said
Monsieur Transon, rubbing his
hands, "and the appointment is
very flattering to this neighborhood."
"And we can truly say it came
to pass without any intriguing," said
the worthy Saillard. "We are
none of us political intriguers;
WE don't go to select parties
at the ministry."
Uncle Mitral rubbed his nose
and grinned as he glanced at
his niece Elisabeth, the woman
whose hand had pulled the wires,
who was talking with Gigonnet.
Falleix, honest fellow, did not
know what to make of the stupid
blindness of Saillard and Baudoyer.
Messieurs Dutocq, Bixiou, du
Bruel, Godard, and Colleville
(the latter appointed head of
the bureau) entered.
"What a crew!" whispered Bixiou
to du Bruel. "I could make a
fine caricature of them in the
shapes of fishes,--dorys, flounders,
sharks, and snappers, all dancing
"Monsieur," said Colleville, "I
come to offer you my congratulations;
or rather we congratulate ourselves
in having such a man placed over
us; and we desire to assure you
of the zeal with which we shall
co- operate in your labors. Allow
me to say that this event affords
a signal proof to the truth of
my axiom that a man's destiny
lies in the letters of his name.
I may say that I knew of this
appointment and of your other
honors before I heard of them,
for I spend the night in anagrammatizing
your name as follows:" [proudly] "Isidore
C. T. Baudoyer,--Director, decorated
by us (his Majesty the King,
Baudoyer bowed and remarked
piously that names were given
Monsieur and Madame Baudoyer,
senior, father and mother of
the new director, were there
to enjoy the glory of their son
and daughter-in- law. Uncle Gigonnet-Bidault,
who had dined at the house, had
a restless, fidgety look in his
eye which frightened Bixiou.
"There's a queer one," said
the latter to du Bruel, calling
his attention to Gigonnet, "who
would do in a vaudeville. I wonder
if he could be bought. Such an
old scarecrow is just the thing
for a sign over the Two Baboons.
And what a coat! I did think
there was nobody but Poiret who
could show the like after that
after ten years' public exposure
to the inclemencies of Parisian
"Baudoyer is magnificent," said
"Gentlemen," said Baudoyer, "let
me present you to my own uncle,
Monsieur Mitral, and to my great-uncle
through my wife, Monsieur Bidault."
Gigonnet and Mitral gave a
glance at the three clerks so
penetrating, so glittering with
gleams of gold, that the two
scoffers were sobered at once.
"Hein?" said Bixiou, when they
were safely under the arcades
in the place Royale; "did you
examine those uncles?--two copies
of Shylock. I'll bet their money
is lent in the market at a hundred
per cent per week. They lend
on pawn; and sell most that they
lay hold of, coats, gold lace,
cheese, men, women, and children;
they are a conglomeration of
Arabs, Jews, Genoese, Genevese,
Greeks, Lombards, and Parisians,
suckled by a wolf and born of
a Turkish woman."
"I believe you," said Godard. "Uncle
Mitral used to be a sheriff's
"That settles it," said
"I'm off to see the proof of
my caricature," said Bixiou; "but
I should like to study the state
of things in Rabourdin's salon
to- night. You are lucky to be
able to go there, du Bruel."
"I!" said the vaudevillist, "what
should I do there? My face doesn't
lend itself to condolences. And
it is very vulgar in these days
to go and see people who are