"That will do," said Corentin. "But as for your position on the newspaper, you may perhaps have to keep it for a time. The candidacy of that fool interferes with the plans of the government, and we must manage in some way to trip up the heels of the municipal councillor. In your position as editor-in-chief you may find a chance to do it, and I think your conscience won't kick at the mission."
"No, indeed!" said la Peyrade, "the thought of the humiliations to which I have been so long subjected will make it a precious joy to lash that bourgeois brood."
"Take care!" said Corentin; "you are young, and you must watch against those revengeful emotions. In our austere profession we love nothing and we hate nothing. Men are to us mere pawns of wood or ivory, according to their quality—with which we play our game. We are like the blade that cuts what is given it to cut, but, careful only to be delicately sharpened, wishes neither harm nor good to any one. Now let us speak of your cousin, to whom, I suppose, you have some curiosity to be presented."
La Peyrade was not obliged to pretend to eagerness, that which he felt was genuine.
"Lydie de la Peyrade," said Corentin, "is nearly thirty, but her innocence, joined to a gentle form of insanity, has kept her apart from all those passions, ideas, and impressions which use up life, and has, if I may say so, embalmed her in a sort of eternal youth. You would not think her more than twenty. She is fair and slender; her face, which is very delicate, is especially remarkable for an expression of angelic sweetness. Deprived of her full reason by a terrible catastrophe, her monomania has something touching about it. She always carries in her arms or keeps beside her a bundle of linen which she nurses and cares for as though it were a sick child; and, excepting Bruneau and myself, whom she recognizes, she thinks all other men are doctors, whom she consults about the child, and to whom she listens as oracles. A crisis which lately happened in her malady has convinced Horace Bianchon, that prince of science, that if the reality could be substituted for this long delusion of motherhood, her reason would assert itself. It is surely a worthy task to bring back light to a soul in which it is scarcely veiled; and the existing bond of relationship has seemed to me to point you out as specially designated to effect this cure, the success of which Bianchon and two other eminent doctors who have consulted with him declare to be beyond a doubt. Now, I will take you to Lydie's presence; remember to play the part of doctor; for the only thing that makes her lose her customary serenity is not to enter into her notion of medical consultation."
After crossing several rooms Corentin was on the point of taking la Peyrade into that usually occupied by Lydie when employed in cradling or dandling her imaginary child, when suddenly they were stopped by the sound of two or three chords struck by the hand of a master on a piano of the finest sonority.
"What is that?" asked la Peyrade.
"That is Lydie," replied Corentin, with what might be called an expression of paternal pride; "she is an admirable musician, and though she no longer writes down, as in the days when her mind was clear, her delightful melodies, she often improvises them in a way that moves me to the soul—the soul of Corentin!" added the old man, smiling. "Is not that the finest praise I can bestow upon her? But suppose we sit down here and listen to her. If we go in, the concert will cease and the medical consultation begin."
La Peyrade was amazed as he listened to an improvisation in which the rare union of inspiration and science opened to his impressionable nature a source of emotions as deep as they were unexpected. Corentin watched the surprise which from moment to moment the Provencal expressed by admiring exclamations.
"Hein! how she plays!" said the old man. "Liszt himself hasn't a firmer touch."
To a very quick "scherzo" the performer now added the first notes of an "adagio."
"She is going to sing," said Corentin, recognizing the air.
"Does she sing too?" asked la Peyrade.
"Like Pasta, like Malibran; but hush, listen to her!"
After a few opening bars in "arpeggio" a vibrant voice resounded, the tones of which appeared to stir the Provencal to the depths of his being.
"How the music moves you!" said Corentin; "you were undoubtedly made for each other."
"My God! the same air! the same voice!"
"Have you already met Lydie somewhere?" asked the great master of the police.
"I don't know—I think not," answered la Peyrade, in a stammering voice; "in any case, it was long ago—But that air—that voice—I think—"
"Let us go in," said Corentin.
Opening the door abruptly, he entered, pulling the young man after him.
Sitting with her back to the door, and prevented by the sound of the piano from hearing what happened behind her, Lydie did not notice their entrance.
"Now have you any remembrance of her?" said Corentin.
La Peyrade advanced a step, and no sooner had he caught a glimpse of the girl's profile than he threw up his hands above his head, striking them together.
"It is she!" he cried.
Hearing his cry, Lydie turned round, and fixing her attention on Corentin, she said:—
"How naughty and troublesome you are to come and disturb me; you know very well I don't like to be listened to. Ah! but—" she added, catching sight of la Peyrade's black coat, "you have brought the doctor; that is very kind of you; I was just going to ask you to send for him. The baby has done nothing but cry since morning; I was singing to put her to sleep, but nothing can do that."
And she ran to fetch what she called her child from a corner of the room, where with two chairs laid on their backs and the cushions of the sofa, she had constructed a sort of cradle.
As she went towards la Peyrade, carrying her precious bundle with one hand, with the other she was arranging the imaginary cap of her "little darling," having no eyes except for the sad creation of her disordered brain. Step by step, as she advanced, la Peyrade, pale, trembling, and with staring eyes, retreated backwards, until he struck against a seat, into which, losing his equilibrium, he fell.
A man of Corentin's power and experience, and who, moreover, knew to its slightest detail the horrible drama in which Lydie had lost her reason, had already, of course, taken in the situation, but it suited his purpose and his ideas to allow the clear light of evidence to pierce this darkness.
"Look, doctor," said Lydie, unfastening the bundle, and putting the pins in her mouth as she did so, "don't you see that she is growing thinner every day?"
La Peyrade could not answer; he kept his handkerchief over his face, and his breath came so fast from his chest that he was totally unable to utter a word.
Then, with one of those gestures of feverish impatience, to which her mental state predisposed her, she exclaimed, hastily:—
"But look at her doctor, look!" taking his arm violently and forcing him to show his features. "My God!" she cried, when she had looked him in the face.
Letting fall the linen bundle in her arms, she threw herself hastily backwards, and her eyes grew haggard. Passing her white hands rapidly over her forehead and through her hair, tossing it into disorder, she seemed to be making an effort to obtain from her memory some dormant recollection. Then, like a frightened mare, which comes to smell an object that has given it a momentary terror, she approached la Peyrade slowly, stooping to look into his face, which he kept lowered, while, in the midst of a silence inexpressible, she examined him steadily for several seconds. Suddenly a terrible cry escaped her breast; she ran for refuge into the arms of Corentin, and pressing herself against him with all her force, she exclaimed:—
"Save me! save me! It is he! the wretch! It is he who did it!"
And, with her finger pointed at la Peyrade, she seemed to nail the miserable object of her terror to his place.
After this explosion, she muttered a few disconnected words, and her eyes closed; Corentin felt the relaxing of all the muscles by which she had held him as in a vice the moment before, and he took her in his arms and laid her on the sofa, insensible.
"Do not stay here, monsieur," said Corentin. "Go into my study; I will come to you presently."
A few minutes later, after giving Lydie into the care of Katte and Bruneau, and despatching Perrache for Doctor Bianchon, Corentin rejoined la Peyrade.
"You see now, monsieur," he said with solemnity, "that in pursuing with a sort of passion the idea of this marriage, I was following, in a sense, the ways of God."
"Monsieur," said la Peyrade, with compunction, "I will confess to you—"
"Useless," said Corentin; "you can tell me nothing that I do not know; I, on the contrary, have much to tell you. Old Peyrade, your uncle, in the hope of earning a POT for this daughter whom he idolized, entered into a dangerous private enterprise, the nature of which I need not explain. In it he made enemies; enemies who stopped at nothing,—murder, poison, rape. To paralyze your uncle's action by attacking him in his dearest spot, Lydie was, not abducted, but enticed from her home and taken to a house apparently respectable, where for ten days she was kept concealed. She was not much alarmed by this detention, being told that it was done at her father's wish, and she spent her time with her music—you remember, monsieur, how she sang?"
"Oh!" exclaimed la Peyrade, covering his face with his hands.
"I told you yesterday that you might perhaps have more upon your conscience than the Thuillier house. But you were young; you had just come from your province, with that brutality, that frenzy of Southern blood in your veins which flings itself upon such an occasion. Besides, your relationship became known to those who were preparing the ruin of this new Clarissa Harlowe, and I am willing to believe than an abler and better man than you might not have escaped the entanglement into which you fell. Happily, Providence has granted that there is nothing absolutely irreparable in this horrible history. The same poison, according to the use that is made of it, may give either death or health."
"But, monsieur," said la Peyrade, "shall I not always be to her an object of horror?"
"The doctor, monsieur," said Katte, opening the door.
"How is Mademoiselle Lydie?" asked la Peyrade, eagerly.
"Very calm," replied Katte. "Just now, when we put her to bed,—though she did not want to go, saying she felt well,—I took her the bundle of linen, but she told me to take it away, and asked what I meant her to do with it."
"You see," said Corentin, grasping the Provencal's hand, "you are the lance of Achilles."
And he left the room with Katte to receive Doctor Bianchon.
Left alone, Theodose was a prey to thoughts which may perhaps be imagined. After a while the door opened, and Bruneau, the old valet, ushered in Cerizet. Seeing la Peyrade, the latter exclaimed:—
"Ha! ha! I knew it! I knew you would end by seeing du Portail. And the marriage,—how does that come on?"
"What are you doing here?" asked la Peyrade.
"Something that concerns you; or rather, something that we must do together. Du Portail, who is too busy to attend to business just now, has sent me in here to see you, and consult as to the best means of putting a spoke in Thuillier's election; it seems that the government is determined to prevent his winning it. Have you any ideas about it?"
"No," replied la Peyrade; "and I don't feel in the mood just now to be imaginative."
"Well, here's the situation," said Cerizet. "The government has another candidate, which it doesn't yet produce, because the ministerial negotiations with him have been rather difficult. During this time Thuillier's chances have been making headway. Minard, on whom they counted to create a diversion, sits, the stupid fool, in his corner; the seizure of that pamphlet has given your blockhead of a protege a certain perfume of popularity. In short, the ministry are afraid he'll be elected, and nothing could be more disagreeable to them. Pompous imbeciles, like Thuillier, are horribly embarrassing in the Opposition; they are pitchers without handles; you can't take hold of them anywhere."
"Monsieur Cerizet," said la Peyrade, beginning to assume a protecting tone, and wishing to discover his late associate's place in Corentin's confidence, "you seem to know a good deal about the secret intentions of the government; have you found your way to a certain desk in the rue de Grenelle?"
"No. All that I tell you," said Cerizet, "I get from du Portail."
"Ah ca!" said la Peyrade, lowering his voice, "who is du Portail? You seem to have known him for some time. A man of your force ought to have discovered the real character of a man who seems to me to be rather mysterious."
"My friend," replied Cerizet, "du Portail is a pretty strong man. He's an old slyboots, who has had some post, I fancy, in the administration of the national domain, or something of that kind, under government; in which, I think, he must have been employed in the departments suppressed under the Empire."
"Yes?" said la Peyrade.
"That's where I think he made his money," continued Cerizet; "and being a shrewd old fellow, and having a natural daughter to marry, he has concocted this philanthropic tale of her being the daughter of an old friend named Peyrade; and your name being the same may have given him the idea of fastening upon you—for, after all, he has to marry her to somebody."
"Yes, that's all very well; but his close relations with the government, and the interest he takes in elections, how do you explain all that?"
"Naturally enough," replied Cerizet. "Du Portail is a man who loves money, and likes to handle it; he has done Rastignac, that great manipulator of elections, who is, I think, his compatriot, several signal services as an amateur; Rastignac, in return, gives him information, obtained through Nucingen, which enables him to gamble at the Bourse."
"Did he himself tell you all this?" asked la Peyrade.
"What do you take me for?" returned Cerizet. "With that worthy old fellow, from whom I have already wormed a promise of thirty thousand francs, I play the ninny; I flatten myself to nothing. But I've made Bruneau talk, that old valet of his. You can safely ally yourself to his family, my dear fellow; du Portail is powerfully rich; he'll get you made sub-prefect somewhere; and thence to a prefecture and a fortune is but one step."
"Thanks for the information," said la Peyrade; "at least, I shall know on which foot to hop. But you yourself, how came you to know him?"
"Oh! that's quite a history; by my help he was able to get back a lot of diamonds which had been stolen from him."
At this moment Corentin entered the room.
"All is well," he said to la Peyrade. "There are signs of returning reason. Bianchon, to whom I have told all, wishes to confer with you; therefore, my dear Monsieur Cerizet, we will postpone until this evening, if you are willing, our little study over the Thuillier election."
"Well, so here you have him, at last!" said Cerizet, slapping la Peyrade's shoulder.
"Yes," said Corentin, "and you know what I promised; you may rely on that."
Cerizet departed joyful.
CHAPTER XVI. CHECKMATE TO THUILLIER
The day after that evening, when Corentin, la Peyrade, and Cerizet were to have had their consultation in reference to the attack on Thuillier's candidacy, the latter was discussing with his sister Brigitte the letter in which Theodose declined the hand of Celeste, and his mind seemed particularly to dwell on the postscript where it was intimated that la Peyrade might not continue the editor of the "Echo de la Bievre." At this moment Henri, the "male domestic," entered the room to ask if his master would receive Monsieur Cerizet.
Thuillier's first impulse was to deny himself to that unwelcome visitor. Then, thinking better of it, he reflected that if la Peyrade suddenly left him in the lurch, Cerizet might possibly prove a precious resource. Consequently, he ordered Henri to show him in. His manner, however, was extremely cold, and in some sort expectant. As for Cerizet, he presented himself without the slightest embarrassment and with the air of a man who had calculated all the consequences of the step he was taking.
"Well, my dear monsieur," he began, "I suppose by this time you have been posted as to the Sieur la Peyrade."
"What may you mean by that?" said Thuillier, stiffly.
"Well, the man," replied Cerizet, "who, after intriguing to marry your goddaughter, breaks off the marriage abruptly—as he will, before long, break that lion's-share contract he made you sign about his editorship—can't be, I should suppose, the object of the same blind confidence you formerly reposed in him."
"Ah!" said Thuillier, hastily, "then do you know anything about la Peyrade's intention of leaving the newspaper?"
"No," said the other; "on the terms I now am with him, you can readily believe we don't see each other; still less should I receive his confidences. But I draw the induction from the well-known character of the person, and you may be sure that when he finds it for his interest to leave you, he'll throw you away like an old coat—I've passed that way, and I speak from experience."
"Then you must have had some difficulties with him before you joined my paper?" said Thuillier, interrogatively.
"Parbleu!" replied Cerizet; "the affair of this house which he helped you to buy was mine; I started that hare. He was to put me in relation with you, and make me the principal tenant of the house. But the unfortunate affair of that bidding-in gave him a chance to knock me out of everything and get all the profits for himself."
"Profits!" exclaimed Thuillier. "I don't see that he got anything out of that transaction, except the marriage which he now refuses—"
"But," interrupted Cerizet, "there's the ten thousand francs he got out of you on pretence of the cross which you never received, and the twenty-five thousand he owes to Madame Lambert, for which you went security, and which you will soon have to pay like a good fellow."
"What's this I hear?" cried Brigitte, up in arms; "twenty-five thousand francs for which you have given security?"
"Yes, mademoiselle," interposed Cerizet; "behind that sum which this woman had lent him there was a mystery, and if I had not laid my hand on the true explanation, there would certainly have been a very dirty ending to it. La Peyrade was clever enough not only to whitewash himself in Monsieur Thuillier's eyes, but to get him to secure the debt."
"But," said Thuillier, "how do you know that I did give security for that debt, if you have not seen him since then?"
"I know it from the woman herself, who tells the whole story now she is certain of being paid."
"Well," said Brigitte to her brother, "a pretty business you are engaged in!"
"Mademoiselle," said Cerizet, "I only meant to warn Monsieur Thuillier a little. I think myself that you are sure to be paid. Without knowing the exact particulars of this new marriage, I am certain the family would never allow him to owe you to such mortifying debts; if necessary, I should be very glad to intervene."
"Monsieur," said Thuillier, stiffly, "thanking you for your officious intervention, permit me to say that it surprises me a little, for the manner in which we parted would not have allowed me to hope it."
"Ah ca!" said Cerizet; "you don't think I was angry with you for that, do you? I pitied you, that was all. I saw you under the spell, and I said to myself: 'Leave him to learn la Peyrade by experience.' I knew very well that the day of justice would dawn for me, and before long, too. La Peyrade is a man who doesn't make you wait for his questionable proceedings."
"Allow me to say," remarked Thuillier, "that I do not consider the rupture of the marriage we had proposed a questionable proceeding. The matter was arranged, I may say, by mutual consent."
"And the trick he is going to play you by leaving the paper in the lurch, and the debt he has saddled you with, what are they?"
"Monsieur Cerizet," continued Thuillier, still holding himself on the reserve, "as I have said more than once to la Peyrade, no man is indispensable; and if the editorship of my paper becomes vacant, I feel confident that I shall at once meet with persons very eager to offer me their services."
"Is it for me you say that?" asked Cerizet. "Well, you haven't hit the nail; if you did me the honor to want my services it would be impossible for me to grant them. I have long been disgusted with journalism. I let la Peyrade, I hardly know why, persuade me to make this campaign with you; it didn't turn out happily, and I have vowed to myself to have no more to do with newspapers. It was about another matter altogether than I came to speak to you."
"Ah!" said Thuillier.
"Yes," continued Cerizet, "remembering the business-like manner in which you managed the affair of this house in which you do me the honor to receive me, I thought I could not do better than to call your attention to a matter of the same kind which I have just now in hand. But I shall not do as la Peyrade did,—make a bargain for the hand of your goddaughter, and profess great friendship and devotion to you personally. This is purely business, and I expect to make my profit out of it. Now, as I still desire to become the principal tenant of this house,—the letting of which must be a care and a disappointment to mademoiselle, for I saw as I came along that the shops were still unrented,—I think that this lease to me, if you will make it, might be reckoned in to my share of the profits. You see, monsieur, that the object of my visit has nothing to do with the newspaper."
"What is this new affair?" said Brigitte; "that's the first thing to know."
"It relates to a farm in Beauce, which has just been sold for a song, and it is placed in my hands to resell, at an advance, but a small one; you could really buy it, as the saying is, for a bit of bread."
And Cerizet went on to explain the whole mechanism of the affair, which we need not relate here, as no one but Brigitte would take any interest in it. The statement was clear and precise, and it took close hold on the old maid's mind. Even Thuillier himself, in spite of his inward distrust, was obliged to own that the affair had all the appearance of a good speculation.
"Only," said Brigitte, "we must first see the farm ourselves."
This, the reader will remember, was her answer to la Peyrade when he first proposed the purchase of the house at the Madeleine.
"Nothing is easier than that," said Cerizet. "I myself want to see it, and I have been intending to make a little excursion there. If you like, I'll be at your door this afternoon with a post-chaise, and to-morrow morning, very early, we can examine the farm, breakfast at some inn near by, and be back in time for dinner."
"A post-chaise!" said Brigitte, "that's very lordly; why not take the diligence?"
"Diligences are so uncertain," replied Cerizet; "you never know at what time they will get to a place. But you need not think about the expense, for I should otherwise go alone, and I am only too happy to offer you two seats in my carriage."
To misers, small gains are often determining causes in great matters; after a little resistance "pro forma," Brigitte ended by accepting the proposal, and three hours later the trio were on the road to Chartres, Cerizet having advised Thuillier not to let la Peyrade know of his absence, lest he might take some unfair advantage of it.
The next day, by five o'clock, the party had returned, and the brother and sister, who kept their opinions to themselves in presence of Cerizet, were both agreed that the purchase was a good one. They had found the soil of the best quality, the buildings in perfect repair, the cattle looked sound and healthy; in short, this idea of becoming the mistress of rural property seemed to Brigitte the final consecration of opulence.
"Minard," she remarked, "has only a town-house and invested capital, whereas we shall have all that and a country-place besides; one can't be really rich without it."
Thuillier was not sufficiently under the charm of that dream—the realization of which was, in any case, quite distant—to forget, even for a moment, the "Echo de la Bievre" and his candidacy. No sooner had he reached home than he asked for the morning's paper.
"It has not come," said the "male domestic."
"That's a fine distribution, when even the owner of the paper is not served!" cried Thuillier, discontentedly.
Although it was nearly dinner-time, and after his journey he would much rather have taken a bath than rush to the rue Saint-Dominique, Thuillier ordered a cab and drove at once to the office of the "Echo."
There a fresh disappointment met him. The paper "was made," as they say, and all the employees had departed, even la Peyrade. As for Coffinet, who was not to be found at his post of office-boy, nor yet at his other post of porter, he had gone "of an errand," his wife said, taking the key of the closet in which the remaining copies of the paper were locked up. Impossible, therefore, to procure the number which the unfortunate proprietor had come so far to fetch.
To describe Thuillier's indignation would be impossible. He marched up and down the room, talking aloud to himself, as people do in moments of excitement.
"I'll turn them all out!" he cried. And we are forced to omit the rest of the furious objurgation.
As he ended his anathema a rap was heard on the door.
"Come in!" said Thuillier, in a tone that depicted his wrath and his frantic impatience.
The door opened, and Minard rushed precipitately into his arms.
"My good, my excellent friend!" cried the mayor of the eleventh arrondissement, concluding his embrace with a hearty shake of the hand.
"Why! what is it?" said Thuillier, unable to comprehend the warmth of this demonstration.
"Ah! my dear friend," continued Minard, "such an admirable proceeding! really chivalrous! most disinterested! The effect, I assure you, is quite stupendous in the arrondissement."
"But what, I say?" cried Thuillier, impatiently.
"The article, the whole action," continued Minard, "so noble, so elevated!"
"But what article? what action?" said the proprietor of the "Echo," getting quite beside himself.
"The article of this morning," said Minard.
"The article of this morning?"
"Ah ca! did you write it when you were asleep; or, like Monsieur Jourdain doing prose, do you do heroism without knowing it?"
"I! I haven't written any article!" cried Thuillier. "I have been away from Paris for a day, and I don't even know what is in this morning's paper; and the office-boy is not here to give me a copy."
"I have one," said Minard, pulling the much desired paper from his pocket. "If the article is not years you have certainly inspired it; in any case, the deed is done."
Thuillier hurriedly unfolded the sheet Minard had given him, and devoured rather than read the following article:—
Long enough has the proprietor of this regenerated journal submitted without complaint and without reply to the cowardly insinuations with which a venal press insults all citizens who, strong in their convictions, refuse to pass beneath the Caudine Forks of power. Long enough has a man, who has already given proofs of devotion and abnegation in the important functions of the aedility of Paris, allowed these sheets to call him ambitious and self-seeking. Monsieur Jerome Thuillier, strong in his dignity, has suffered such coarse attacks to pass him with contempt. Encouraged by this disdainful silence, the stipendiaries of the press have dared to write that this journal, a work of conviction and of the most disinterested patriotism, was but the stepping-stone of a man, the speculation of a seeker for election. Monsieur Jerome Thuillier has held himself impassible before these shameful imputations because justice and truth are patient, and he bided his time to scotch the reptile. That time has come.
"That deuce of a Peyrade!" said Thuillier, stopping short; "how he does touch it off!"
"It is magnificent!" cried Minard.
Reading aloud, Thuillier continued:—
Every one, friends and enemies alike, can bear witness that Monsieur Jerome Thuillier has done nothing to seek a candidacy which was offered to him spontaneously.
"That's evident," said Thuillier, interrupting himself. Then he resumed:—
But, since his sentiments are so odiously misrepresented, and his intentions so falsely travestied, Monsieur Jerome Thuillier owes it to himself, and above all to the great national party of which he is the humblest soldier, to give an example which shall confound the vile sycophants of power.
"It is fine, the way la Peyrade poses me!" said Thuillier, pausing once more in his reading. "I see now why he didn't send me the paper; he wanted to enjoy my surprise—'confound the vile sycophants of power!' how fine that is!"
After which reflection, he continued:—
Monsieur Thuillier was so far from founding this journal of dynastic opposition to support and promote his election that, at the very moment when the prospects of that election seem most favorable to himself and most disastrous to his rivals, he here declares publicly, and in the most formal, absolute, and irrevocable manner that he renounces his candidacy.
"What?" cried Thuillier, thinking he had read wrong, or had misunderstood what he read.
"Go on! go on!" said the mayor of the eleventh.
Then, as Thuillier, with a bewildered air, seemed not disposed to continue his reading, Minard took the paper from his hands and read the rest of the article himself, beginning where the other had left off:—
Renounces his candidacy; and he strongly urges the electors to transfer to Monsieur Minard, mayor of the eleventh arrondissement and his friend and colleague in his municipal functions, all the votes with which they seemed about to honor him.
"But this is infamous!" cried Thuillier, recovering his speech; "you have bought that Jesuit la Peyrade."
"So," said Minard, stupefied by Thuillier's attitude, "the article was not agreed upon between you?"
"The wretch has profited by my absence to slip it into the paper; I understand now why he prevented a copy from reaching me to-day."
"My dear friend," said Minard, "what you tell me will seem incredible to the public."
"I tell you it is treachery; it is an abominable trap. Renounce my candidacy!—why should I?"
"You understand, my dear friend," said Minard, "that I am truly sorry if your confidence has been abused, but I have just issued my circular manifesto; the die is cast, and luck to the lucky now."
"Leave me," said Thuillier; "it is a comedy for which you have paid."
"Monsieur Thuillier," said Minard, in a threatening voice, "I advise you not to repeat those words, unless you are ready to give me satisfaction for them."
Happily for Thuillier, who, we may remember, had made his profession of faith as to civic courage some time before, he was relieved from answering by Coffinet, who now opened the door of the editorial sanctum, and announced:—
"Messieurs the electors of the twelfth arrondissement."
The arrondissement was represented on this occasion by five persons. An apothecary, chairman of the deputation, proceeded to address Thuillier in the following terms:—
"We have come, monsieur, after taking cognizance of an article inserted this morning in the 'Echo de la Bievre,' to inquire of you what may be precisely the origin and bearing of that article; thinking it incredible that, having solicited our suffrages, you should, on the eve of this election, and from a most mistaken puritanism, have cast disorder and disunion into our ranks, and probably have caused the triumph of the ministerial candidate. A candidate does not belong to himself; he belongs to the electors who have promised to honor him with their votes. But," continued the orator, casting his eye at Minard, "the presence in these precincts of the candidate whom you have gone out of your way to recommend to us, indicates that between you and him there is connivance; and I have no need to ask who is being here deceived."
"No, messieurs, no," said Thuillier; "I have not renounced my candidacy. That article was written and printed without my knowledge or consent. To-morrow you will see the denial of it in the same paper, and you will also learn that the infamous person who has betrayed my confidence is no longer the editor of this journal."
"Then," said the orator of the deputation, "in spite of your declaration to the contrary, you do continue to be the candidate of the Opposition?"
"Yes, messieurs, until death; and I beg you to use your utmost influence in the quarter to neutralize the effect of this deliberate falsehood until I am able to officially present the most formal disavowal."
"Hear! hear!" said the electors.
"And, as for the presence of Monsieur Minard, my competitor, in these precincts, I have not invited it; and at the moment when you entered this room, I was engaged in a very sharp and decided explanation with him."
"Hear! hear!" said the electors again.
Then, after cordially shaking the hand of the apothecary, Thuillier conducted the deputation to the outer door of the apartment; after which, returning to the editorial sanctum, he said:—
"My dear Minard, I withdraw the words which wounded you; but you can see now what justification I had for my indignation."
Here Coffinet again opened the door and announced:—
"Messieurs the electors of the eleventh arrondissement."
The arrondissement was represented this time by seven persons. A linen-draper, chairman of the delegation, addressed Thuillier in the following speech:—
"Monsieur, it is with sincere admiration that we have learned this morning from the columns of your paper, the great civic act by which you have touched all hearts. You have shown, in thus retiring, a most unusual disinterestedness, and the esteem of your fellow-citizens—"
"Excuse me," said Thuillier, interrupting him, "I cannot allow you to continue; the article about which you are so good as to congratulate me, was inserted by mistake."
"What!" said the linen-draper; "then do you not retire? Can you suppose that in opposition to the candidacy of Monsieur Minard (whose presence in these precincts seems to me rather singular) you have the slightest chance of success?"
"Monsieur," said Thuillier, "have the goodness to request the electors of your arrondissement to await the issue of to-morrow's paper, in which I shall furnish categorical explanations of the most distinct character. The article to-day is the result of a misunderstanding."
"It will be a sad pity, monsieur," said the linen-draper, "if you lose this occasion to place yourself in the eyes of your fellow-citizens beside the Washingtons and other great men of antiquity."
"I say again, to-morrow, messieurs," said Thuillier. "I am none the less sensible to the honor you do me, and I trust that when you know the whole truth, I shall not suffer in your esteem."
"A pretty queer mess this seems to be," said the voice of an elector.
"Yes," said another; "it looks as if they meant to bamboozle us."
"Messieurs, messieurs!" cried the chairman, putting a stop to the outbreak; "to-morrow—we will wait until to-morrow for the promised explanations."
Whereupon, the deputation retired.
It is not likely that Thuillier would have accompanied them beyond the door of the sanctum, but in any case he was prevented by the sudden entrance of la Peyrade.
"I have just come from your house, my dear fellow," said the Provencal; "they told me I should find you here."
"You have come, doubtless, for the purpose of explaining to me the strange article you allowed yourself to insert in my name."
"Precisely," said la Peyrade. "The remarkable man whom you know, and whose powerful influence you have already felt, confided to me yesterday, in your interests, the plans of the government, and I saw at once that your defeat was inevitable. I wished therefore to secure to you an honorable and dignified retreat. There was no time to lose; you were absent from Paris, and therefore—"
"Very good, monsieur," said Thuillier; "but you will take notice that from the present moment you are no longer the editor of this paper."
"That is what I came to tell you."
"Perhaps you also came to settle the little account we have together."
"Messieurs," said Minard, "I see that this is a business interview; I shall therefore take leave of you."
As soon as Minard had left the room, la Peyrade pulled out his pocket-book.
"Here are ten thousand francs," he said, "which I will beg you to remit to Mademoiselle Brigitte; and here, also, is the bond by which you secured the payment of twenty-five thousand francs to Madame Lambert; that sum I have now paid in full, and here is the receipt."
"Very good, monsieur," said Thuillier.
La Peyrade bowed and went away.
"Serpent!" said Thuillier as he watched him go.
"Cerizet said the right thing," thought la Peyrade,—"a pompous imbecile!"
The blow struck at Thuillier's candidacy was mortal, but Minard did not profit by it. While the pair were contending for votes, a government man, an aide-de-camp to the king, arrived with his hands full of tobacco licenses and other electoral small change, and, like the third thief, he slipped between the two who were thumping each other, and carried off the booty.
It is needless to say that Brigitte did not get her farm in Beauce. That was only a mirage, by help of which Thuillier was enticed out of Paris long enough for la Peyrade to deal his blow,—a service rendered to the government on the one hand, but also a precious vengeance for the many humiliations he had undergone.
Thuillier had certainly some suspicions as to the complicity of Cerizet, but that worthy managed to justify himself; and by manoeuvring the sale of the "Echo de la Bievre," now become a nightmare to the luckless owner, he ended by appearing as white as snow.
The paper was secretly bought up by Corentin, and the late opposition sheet became a "canard" sold on Sundays in the wine-shops and concocted in the dens of the police.
CHAPTER XVII. IN THE EXERCISE OF HIS FUNCTIONS
About two months after the scene in which la Peyrade had been convinced that through a crime of his past life his future was irrevocably settled, he (being now married to his victim, who was beginning to have lucid intervals, though the full return of her reason would not take place until the occasion indicated by the doctors) was sitting one morning with the head of the police in the latter's office. Taking part in the work of the department, the young man was serving an apprenticeship under that great master in the difficult and delicate functions to which he was henceforth riveted. But Corentin found that his pupil did not bring to this initiation all the ardor and amiability that he desired. It was plain that in la Peyrade's soul there was a sense of forfeiture and degradation; time would get the better of that impression, but the callus was not yet formed.
Opening a number of sealed envelopes enclosing the reports of his various agents, Corentin glanced over these documents, seldom as useful as the public suppose, casting them one after another contemptuously into a basket, whence they issued in a mass for a burning. But to one of them the great man evidently gave some particular attention; as he read it a smile flickered on his lips, and when he had finished, instead of adding it to the pile in the basket, he gave it to la Peyrade.
"Here," he said, "here's something that concerns you; it shows that in our profession, which just now seems to you unpleasantly serious, we do occasionally meet with comedies. Read it aloud; it will cheer me up."
Before la Peyrade began to read, Corentin added:—
"I ought to tell you that the report is from a man called Henri, whom Madame Komorn introduced as man-servant at the Thuilliers'; you probably remember him."
"So!" said la Peyrade, "servants placed in families! is that one of your methods?"
"Sometimes," replied Corentin; "in order to know all, we must use all means. But a great many lies are told about us on that subject. It is not true that the police, making a system of it, has, at certain periods, by a general enrolment of lacqueys and lady's-maids, established a vast network in private families. Nothing is fixed and absolute in our manner of proceeding; we act in accordance with the time and circumstances. I wanted an ear and an influence in the Thuillier household; accordingly, I let loose the Godollo upon it, and she, in turn, partly to assist herself, installed there one of our men, an intelligent fellow, as you will see for yourself. But for all that, if, at another time, a servant came and offered to sell me the secrets of his master, I should have him arrested, and let a warning reach the ears of the family to distrust the other servants. Now go on, and read that report."
Monsieur the Director of the Secret Police,
read la Peyrade aloud,—
I did not stay long with the little baron; he is a man wholly occupied in frivolous pleasures; and there was nothing to be gathered there that was worthy of a report to you. I have found another place, where I have already witnessed several thing which fit into the mission that Madame de Godollo gave me, and therefore, thinking them likely to interest you, I hasten to bring them to your knowledge. The household in which I am now employed is that of an old savant, named Monsieur Picot, who lives on a first floor, Place de la Madeleine, in the house and apartment formerly occupied by my late masters, the Thuilliers—
"What!" cried la Peyrade, interrupting his reading, "Pere Picot, that ruined old lunatic, occupying such an apartment as that?"
"Go on, go on!" said Corentin; "life is full of many strange things. You'll find the explanation farther along; for our correspondent—it is the defect of those fellows to waste themselves on details—is only too fond of dotting his i's."
La Peyrade read on:—
The Thuilliers left this apartment some weeks ago to return to their Latin quarter. Mademoiselle Brigitte never really liked our sphere; her total want of education made her ill at ease. Just because I speak correctly, she was always calling me 'the orator,' and she could not endure Monsieur Pascal, her porter, because, being beadle in the church of the Madeleine, he had manners; she even found something to say against the dealers in the great market behind the church, where, of course, she bought her provisions; she complained that they gave themselves capable airs, merely because they are not so coarse-tongued as those of the Halle, and only laughed at her when she tried to beat them down. She has leased the whole house to a certain Monsieur Cerizet (a very ugly man, with a nose all eaten away) for an annual rent of fifty-five thousand francs. This tenant seems to know what he is about. He has lately married an actress at one of the minor theatres, Mademoiselle Olympe Cardinal, and he was just about to occupy himself the first-floor apartment, where he proposed to establish his present business, namely, insurance for the "dots" of children, when Monsieur Picot, arriving from England with his wife, a very rich Englishwoman, saw the apartment and offered such a good price that Monsieur Cerizet felt constrained to take it. That was the time when, by the help of M. Pascal, the porter, with whom I have been careful to maintain good relations, I entered the household of Monsieur Picot.
"Monsieur Picot married to a rich Englishwoman!" exclaimed la Peyrade, interrupting himself again; "but it is incomprehensible."
"Go on, I tell you," said Corentin; "you'll comprehend it presently."
The fortune of my new master,
continued la Peyrade,
is quite a history; and I speak of it to Monsieur le directeur because another person in whom Madame de Godollo was interested has his marriage closely mixed up in it. That other person is Monsieur Felix Phellion, the inventor of a star, who, in despair at not being able to marry that demoiselle whom they wanted to give to the Sieur la Peyrade whom Madame de Godollo made such a fool of—
"Scoundrel!" said the Provencal, in a parenthesis. "Is that how he speaks of me? He doesn't know who I am."
Corentin laughed heartily and exhorted his pupil to read on.
—who, in despair at not being able to marry that demoiselle . . . went to England in order to embark for a journey round the world —a lover's notion! Learning of this departure, Monsieur Picot, his former professor, who took great interest in his pupil, went after him to prevent that nonsense, which turned out not to be difficult. The English are naturally very jealous of discoveries, and when they saw Monsieur Phellion coming to embark at the heels of their own savants they asked him for his permit from the Admiralty; which, not having been provided, he could not produce; so then they laughed in his face and would not let him embark at all, fearing that he should prove more learned than they.
"He is a fine hand at the 'entente cordiale,' your Monsieur Henri," said la Peyrade, gaily.
"Yes," replied Corentin; "you will be struck, in the reports of nearly all our agents, with this general and perpetual inclination to calumniate. But what's to be done? For the trade of spies we can't have angels."
Left upon the shore, Telemachus and his mentor—
"You see our men are lettered," commented Corentin.
—Telemachus and his mentor thought best to return to France, and were about to do so when Monsieur Picot received a letter such as none but an Englishwoman could write. It told him that the writer had read his "Theory of Perpetual Motion," and had also heard of his magnificent discovery of a star; that she regarded him as a genius only second to Newton, and that if the hand of her who addressed him, joined to eighty thousand pounds sterling—that is, two millions—of "dot," was agreeable to him it was at his disposal. The first thought of the good man was to make his pupil marry her, but finding that impossible, he told her, before accepting on his own account, that he was old and three-quarters blind, and had never discovered a star, and did not own a penny. The Englishwoman replied that Milton was not young either, and was altogether blind; that Monsieur Picot seemed to her to have nothing worse than a cataract, for she knew all about it, being the daughter of a great oculist, and she would have him operated upon; that as for the star, she did not care so very much about that; it was the author of the "Theory of Perpetual Motion" who was the man of her dreams, and to whom she again offered her hand with eighty thousand pounds sterling (two millions) of "dot." Monsieur Picot replied that if his sight were restored and she would consent to live in Paris, for he hated England, he would let himself be married. The operation was performed and was successful, and, at the end of three weeks the newly married pair arrived in the capital. These details I obtained from the lady's maid, with whom I am on the warmest terms.
"Oh! the puppy!" said Corentin, laughing.
The above is therefore hearsay, but what remains to be told to Monsieur le directeur are facts of which I can speak "de visu," and to which I am, consequently, in a position to certify. As soon as Monsieur and Madame Picot had installed themselves, which was done in the most sumptuous and comfortable manner, my master gave me a number of invitations to dinner to carry to the Thuillier family, the Colleville family, the Minard family, the Abbe Gondrin, vicar of the Madeleine, and nearly all the guests who were present at another dinner a few months earlier, when he had an encounter with Mademoiselle Thuillier, and behaved, I must say, in a rather singular manner. All the persons who received these invitations were so astonished to learn that the old man Picot had married a rich wife and was living in the Thuilliers' old apartment that most of them came to inquire of Monsieur Pascal, the porter, to see if they were hoaxed. The information they obtained being honest and honorable, the whole society arrived punctually on time; but Monsieur Picot did not appear. The guests were received by Madame Picot, who does not speak French and could only say, "My husband is coming soon"; after which, not being able to make further conversation, the company were dull and ill at ease. At last Monsieur Picot arrived, and all present were stupefied on seeing, instead of an old blind man, shabbily dressed, a handsome young elderly man, bearing his years jauntily, like Monsieur Ferville of the Gymnase, who said with a lively air:
"I beg your pardon, mesdames, for not being here at the moment of your arrival; but I was at the Academy of Sciences, awaiting the result of an election,—that of Monsieur Felix Phellion, who has been elected unanimously less three votes."
This news seemed to have a great effect upon the company. So then Monsieur Picot resumed:—
"I must also, mesdames, ask your pardon for the rather improper manner in which I behaved a short time ago in the house where we are now assembled. My excuse must be my late infirmity, the annoyances of a family lawsuit, and of an old housekeeper who robbed me and tormented me in a thousand ways, from whom I am happily delivered. To-day you see me another man, rejuvenated and rich with the blessings bestowed upon me by the amiable woman who has given me her hand; and I should be in the happiest frame of mind to receive you if the recollection of my young friend, whose eminence as a man of science has just been consecrated by the Academy, did not cast upon my mind a veil of sadness. All here present," continued Monsieur Picot, raising his voice, which is rather loud, "are guilty towards him: I, for ingratitude when he gave me the glory of his discovery and the reward of his immortal labors; that young lady, whom I see over there with tears in her eyes, for having foolishly accused him of atheism; that other lady, with the stern face, for having harshly replied to the proposals of his noble father, whose white hairs she ought rather to have honored; Monsieur Thuillier, for having sacrificed him to ambition; Monsieur Colleville, for not performing his part of father and choosing for his daughter the worthiest and most honorable man; Monsieur Minard, for having tried to foist his son into his place. There are but two persons in the room at this moment who have done him full justice,—Madame Thuillier and Monsieur l'Abbe Gondrin. Well, I shall now ask that man of God whether we can help doubting the divine justice when this generous young man, the victim of all of us, is, at the present hour, at the mercy of waves and tempests, to which for three long years he is consigned."
"Providence is very powerful, monsieur," replied the Abbe Gondrin. "God will protect Monsieur Felix Phellion wherever he may be, and I have the firmest hope that three years hence he will be among his friends once more."
"But three years!" said Monsieur Picot. "Will it still be time? Will Mademoiselle Colleville have waited for him?"
"Yes, I swear it!" cried the young girl, carried away by an impulse she could not control.
Then she sat down again, quite ashamed, and burst into tears.
"And you, Mademoiselle Thuillier, and you, Madame Colleville, will you permit this young lady to reserve herself for one who is worthy of her?"
"Yes! Yes!" cried everybody; for Monsieur Picot's voice, which is very full and sonorous, seemed to have tears in it and affected everybody.
"Then it is time," he said, "to forgive Providence."
And rushing suddenly to the door, where my ear was glued to the keyhole, he very nearly caught me.
"Announce," he said to me, in a very loud tone of voice, "Monsieur Felix Phellion and his family."
And thereupon the door of a side room opened, and five or six persons came out, who were led by Monsieur Picot into the salon.
At the sight of her lover, Mademoiselle Colleville was taken ill, but the faint lasted only a minute; seeing Monsieur Felix at her feet she threw herself into Madame Thuillier's arms, crying out:—
"Godmother! you always told me to hope."
Mademoiselle Thuillier, who, in spite of her harsh nature and want of education, I have always myself thought a remarkable woman, now had a fine impulse. As the company were about to go into the dining-room,—
"One moment!" she said.
Then going up to Monsieur Phellion, senior, she said to him:
"Monsieur and old friend! I ask you for the hand of Monsieur Felix Phellion for our adopted daughter, Mademoiselle Colleville."
"Bravo! bravo!" they call cried in chorus.
"My God!" said Monsieur Phellion, with tears in his eyes; "what have I done to deserve such happiness?"
"You have been an honest man and a Christian without knowing it," replied the Abbe Gondrin.
Here la Peyrade flung down the manuscript.
"You did not finish it," said Corentin, taking back the paper. "However, there's not much more. Monsieur Henri confesses to me that the scene had moved him; he also says that, knowing the interest I had formerly taken in the marriage, he thought he ought to inform me of its conclusion; ending with a slightly veiled suggestion of a fee. No, stay," resumed Corentin, "here is a detail of some importance:—"
The English woman seems to have made it known during dinner that, having no heirs, her fortune, after the lives of herself and her husband, will go to Felix. That will make him powerfully rich one of these days.
La Peyrade had risen and was striding about the room with rapid steps.
"Well," said Corentin, "what is the matter with you?"
"That is not true," said the great detective. "I think you envy the happiness of that young man. My dear fellow, permit me to tell you that if such a conclusion were to your taste, you should have acted as he has done. When I sent you two thousand francs on which to study law, I did not intend you to succeed me; I expected you to row your galley laboriously, to have the needful courage for obscure and painful toil; your day would infallibly have come. But you chose to violate fortune—"
"I mean hasten it, reap it before it ripened. You flung yourself into journalism; then into business, questionable business; you made acquaintance with Messieurs Dutocq and Cerizet. Frankly, I think you fortunate to have entered the port which harbors you to-day. In any case, you are not sufficiently simple of heart to have really valued the joys reserved for Felix Phellion. These bourgeois—"
"These bourgeois," said la Peyrade, quickly,—"I know them now. They have great absurdities, great vices even, but they have virtues, or, at the least, estimable qualities; in them lies the vital force of our corrupt society."
"Your society!" said Corentin, smiling; "you speak as if you were still in the ranks. You have another sphere, my dear fellow; and you must learn to be more content with your lot. Governments pass, societies perish or dwindle; but we—we dominate all things; the police is eternal."
Note.—This volume ("Les Petits Bourgeois") was not published until 1854, more than three years after Balzac's death; although he says of it in March, 1844: "I must tell you that my work entitled 'Les Petits Bourgeois,' owing to difficulties of execution, requires still a month's labor, although the book is entirely written." And again, in October, 1846, he says: "It is to such scruples" (care in perfecting his work) "that delays which have injured several of my works are due; for instance, 'Les Paysans,' which has long been nearly finished, and 'Les Petits Bourgeois,' which has been in type at the printing office for the last eighteen months."
The following personages appear in other stories of the Human Comedy.
Barbet A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Man of Business The Seamy Side of History The Middle Classes
Baudoyer, Isidore The Government Clerks The Middle Classes Cousin Pons
Beaumesnil, Mademoiselle The Middle Classes Scenes from a Courtesan's Life A Second Home
Bianchon, Horace Father Goriot The Atheist's Mass Cesar Birotteau The Commission in Lunacy Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor's Establishment The Secrets of a Princess The Government Clerks Pierrette A Study of Woman Scenes from a Courtesan's Life Honorine The Seamy Side of History The Magic Skin A Second Home A Prince of Bohemia Letters of Two Brides The Muse of the Department The Imaginary Mistress The Middle Classes Cousin Betty The Country Parson In addition, M. Bianchon narrated the following: Another Study of Woman La Grande Breteche
Bousquier, Du (or Du Croisier or Du Bourguier) Jealousies of a Country Town The Middle Classes
Brisetout, Heloise Cousin Betty Cousin Pons The Middle Classes
Bruel, Jean Francois du A Bachelor's Establishment The Government Clerks A Start in Life A Prince of Bohemia The Middle Classes A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Daughter of Eve
Bruel, Claudine Chaffaroux, Madame du A Bachelor's Establishment A Prince of Bohemia A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Letters of Two Brides The Middle Classes
Bruno Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Cardot (Parisian notary) The Muse of the Department A Man of Business Jealousies of a Country Town Pierre Grassou The Middle Classes Cousin Pons
Cerizet Lost Illusions A Man of Business Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Chaffaroux Cesar Birotteau A Prince of Bohemia The Middle Classes
Claparon, Charles A Bachelor's Establishment Cesar Birotteau Melmoth Reconciled The Firm of Nucingen A Man of Business The Middle Classes
Cochin, Emile-Louis-Lucien-Emmanuel Cesar Birotteau The Government Clerks The Firm of Nucingen The Middle Classes
Colleville The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Colleville, Flavie Minoret, Madame The Government Clerks Cousin Betty The Middle Classes
Corentin The Chouans The Gondreville Mystery Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Couture Beatrix The Firm of Nucingen The Middle Classes
Crochard, Charles A Second Home The Middle Classes
Desroches (son) A Bachelor's Establishment Colonel Chabert A Start in Life A Woman of Thirty The Commission in Lunacy The Government Clerks A Distinguished Provincial at Paris Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Firm of Nucingen A Man of Business The Middle Classes
Dutocq The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Fleury The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Galathionne, Prince and Princess (both not in each story) The Secrets of a Princess The Middle Classes Father Goriot A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Daughter of Eve Beatrix
Godard, Joseph The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Godeschal, Francois-Claude-Marie Colonel Chabert A Bachelor's Establishment A Start in Life The Commission in Lunacy The Middle Classes Cousin Pons
Grassou, Pierre Pierre Grassou A Bachelor's Establishment Cousin Betty The Middle Classes Cousin Pons
Grindot Cesar Birotteau Lost Illusions A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Start in Life Scenes from a Courtesan's Life Beatrix The Middle Classes Cousin Betty
Katt Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Keller, Adolphe The Middle Classes Pierrette Cesar Birotteau
La Peyrade, Charles-Marie-Theodose de Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
La Peyrade, Madame de Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
La Roche-Hugon, Martial de Domestic Peace The Peasantry A Daughter of Eve The Member for Arcis The Middle Classes Cousin Betty
Laudigeois The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Lousteau, Etienne A Distinguished Provincial at Paris A Bachelor's Establishment Scenes from a Courtesan's Life A Daughter of Eve Beatrix The Muse of the Department Cousin Betty A Prince of Bohemia A Man of Business The Middle Classes The Unconscious Humorists
Metivier Lost Illusions The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Metivier (nephew) The Seamy Side of History The Middle Classes
Minard, Auguste-Jean-Francois The Government Clerks The Firm of Nucingen The Middle Classes
Minard, Madame The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Phellion The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Poiret, the elder The Government Clerks Father Goriot A Start in Life Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Poiret, Madame (nee Christine-Michelle Michonneau) Father Goriot Scenes from a Courtesan's Life The Middle Classes
Popinot, Jean-Jules Cesar Birotteau Honorine The Commission in Lunacy The Seamy Side of History The Middle Classes
Rabourdin, Xavier The Government Clerks At the Sign of the Cat and Racket Cesar Birotteau The Middle Classes
Saillard The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Thuillier The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Thuillier, Marie-Jeanne-Brigitte The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Thuillier, Louis-Jerome The Government Clerks The Middle Classes
Tillet, Ferdinand du Cesar Birotteau The Firm of Nucingen The Middle Classes A Bachelor's Establishment Pierrette Melmoth Reconciled A Distinguished Provincial at Paris The Secrets of a Princess A Daughter of Eve The Member for Arcis Cousin Betty The Unconscious Humorists
Vinet Pierrette The Member for Arcis The Middle Classes Cousin Pons
Vinet, Olivier The Member for Arcis Cousin Pons The Middle Classes