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She was impatiently pacing about the shop, fearing lest Florent
should make his appearance; and she called to her husband to come away,
dreading a meeting between him and his brother.

"She's getting quite vexed," said Mademoiselle Saget. "Poor Monsieur
Quenu, you see, knows nothing at all about what's taking place. Just
look at him there, laughing like a child! Madame Taboureau, you know,
said that she should have nothing more to do with the Quenus if they
persisted in bringing themselves into discredit by keeping that Florent
with them."

"Well, now, I suppose, they will stick to the fortune," remarked Madame

"Oh, no, indeed, my dear. The other one has had his share already."

"Really? How do you know that?"

"Oh, it's clear enough, that is!" replied the old maid after a momentary
hesitation, but without giving any proof of her assertions. "He's had
even more than his share. The Quenus will be several thousand francs out
of pocket. Money flies, you know, when a man has such vices as he has. I
dare say you don't know that there was another woman mixed up in it all.
Yes, indeed, old Madame Verlaque, the wife of the former inspector; you
know the sallow-faced thing well enough."

The others protested that it surely wasn't possible. Why, Madame
Verlaque was positively hideous!

"What! do you think me a liar?" cried Mademoiselle Saget, with angry
indignation. "Why, her letters to him have been found, a whole pile of
letters, in which she asks for money, ten and twenty francs at a time.
There's no doubt at all about it. I'm quite certain in my own mind that
they killed the husband between them."

La Sarriette and Madame Lecoeur were convinced; but they were beginning
to get very impatient. They had been waiting on the footway for more
than an hour, and feared that somebody might be robbing their stalls
during their long absence. So Mademoiselle Saget began to give them some
further interesting information to keep them from going off. Florent
could not have taken to flight, said she; he was certain to return, and
it would be very interesting to see him arrested. Then she went on to
describe the trap that had been laid for him, while Madame Lecoeur
and La Sarriette continued scrutinising the house from top to bottom,
keeping watch upon every opening, and at each moment expecting to see
the hats of the detectives appear at one of the doors or windows.

"Who would ever imagine, now, that the place was full of police?"
observed the butter dealer.

"Oh! they're in the garret at the top," said the old maid. "They've left
the window open, you see, just as they found it. Look! I think I can see
one of them hiding behind the pomegranate on the balcony."

The others excitedly craned out their necks, but could see nothing.

"Ah, no, it's only a shadow," continued Mademoiselle Saget. "The little
curtains even are perfectly still. The detectives must be sitting down
in the room, and keeping quiet."

Just at that moment the women caught sight of Gavard coming out of the
fish market with a thoughtful air. They looked at him with glistening
eyes, without speaking. They had drawn close to one another, and stood
there rigid in their drooping skirts. The poultry dealer came up to

"Have you seen Florent go by?" he asked.

They replied that they had not.

"I want to speak to him at once," continued Gavard. "He isn't in the
fish market. He must have gone up to his room. But you would have seen
him, though, if he had."

The women had turned rather pale. They still kept looking at each other
with a knowing expression, their lips twitching slightly every now and
then. "We have only been here some five minutes, said Madame Lecoeur
unblushingly, as her brother-in-law still stood hesitating.

"Well, then, I'll go upstairs and see. I'll risk the five flights,"
rejoined Gavard with a laugh.

La Sarriette stepped forward as though she wished to detain him, but her
aunt took hold of her arm and drew her back.

"Let him alone, you big simpleton!" she whispered. "It's the best thing
that can happen to him. It'll teach him to treat us with respect in

"He won't say again that I ate tainted meat," muttered Mademoiselle
Saget in a low tone.

They said nothing more. La Sarriette was very red; but the two others
still remained quite yellow. But they now averted their heads, feeling
confused by each other's looks, and at a loss what to do with their
hands, which they buried beneath their aprons. Presently their eyes
instinctively came back to the house, penetrating the walls, as it were,
following Gavard in his progress up the stairs. When they imagined that
he had entered Florent's room they again exchanged furtive glances. La
Sarriette laughed nervously. All at once they fancied they could see the
window curtains moving, and this led them to believe that a struggle was
taking place. But the house-front remained as tranquil as ever in the
sunshine; and another quarter of an hour of unbroken quietness passed
away, during which the three women's nervous excitement became more
and more intense. They were beginning to feel quite faint when a man
hurriedly came out of the passage and ran off to get a cab. Five minutes
later Gavard appeared, followed by two police officers. Lisa, who had
stepped out on to the footway on observing the cab, hastily hurried back
into the shop.

Gavard was very pale. The police had searched him upstairs, and had
discovered the revolver and cartridge case in his possession. Judging
by the commissary's stern expression on hearing his name, the poultry
dealer deemed himself lost. This was a terrible ending to his plotting
that had never entered into his calculations. The Tuileries would never
forgive him! His legs gave way beneath him as though the firing party
was already awaiting him outside. When he got into the street, however,
his vanity lent him sufficient strength to walk erect; and he even
managed to force a smile, as he knew the market people were looking at
him. They should see him die bravely, he resolved.

However, La Sarriette and Madame Lecoeur rushed up to him and anxiously
inquired what was the matter; and the butter dealer began to cry, while
La Sarriette embraced her uncle, manifesting the deepest emotion. As
Gavard held her clasped in his arms, he slipped a key into her hand, and
whispered in her ear: "Take everything, and burn the papers."

Then he got into the cab with the same mien as he would have ascended
the scaffold. As the vehicle disappeared round the corner of the Rue
Pierre Lescot, Madame Lecoeur observed La Sarriette trying to hide the
key in her pocket.

"It's of no use you trying that little game on me, my dear," she
exclaimed, clenching her teeth; "I saw him slip it into your hand.
As true as there's a God in Heaven, I'll go to the gaol and tell him
everything, if you don't treat me properly."

"Of course I shall treat you properly, aunt, dear," replied La
Sarriette, with an embarrassed smile.

"Very well, then, let us go to his rooms at once. It's of no use to give
the police time to poke their dirty hands in the cupboards."

Mademoiselle Saget, who had been listening with gleaming eyes, followed
them, running along in the rear as quickly as her short legs could
carry her. She had no thought, now, of waiting for Florent. From the Rue
Rambuteau to the Rue de la Cossonnerie she manifested the most humble
obsequiousness, and volunteered to explain matters to Madame Leonce, the

"We'll see, we'll see," the butter dealer curtly replied.

However, on reaching the house a preliminary parley--as Mademoiselle
Saget had opined--proved to be necessary. Madame Leonce refused to allow
the women to go up to her tenant's room. She put on an expression
of severe austerity, and seemed greatly shocked by the sight of La
Sarriette's loosely fastened fichu. However, after the old maid had
whispered a few words to her and she was shown the key, she gave way.
When they got upstairs she surrendered the rooms and furniture to the
others article by article, apparently as heartbroken as if she had been
compelled to show a party of burglars the place where her own money was

"There, take everything and have done with it!" she cried at last,
throwing herself into an arm-chair.

La Sarriette was already eagerly trying the key in the locks of
different closets. Madame Lecoeur, all suspicion, pressed her so closely
that she exclaimed: "Really, aunt, you get in my way. Do leave my arms
free, at any rate."

At last they succeeded in opening a wardrobe opposite the window,
between the fireplace and the bed. And then all four women broke into
exclamations. On the middle shelf lay some ten thousand francs in
gold, methodically arranged in little piles. Gavard, who had prudently
deposited the bulk of his fortune in the hands of a notary, had kept
this sum by him for the purposes of the coming outbreak. He had been
wont to say with great solemnity that his contribution to the revolution
was quite ready. The fact was that he had sold out certain stock, and
every night took an intense delight in contemplating those ten thousand
francs, gloating over them, and finding something quite roysterous and
insurrectional in their appearance. Sometimes when he was in bed he
dreamed that a fight was going on in the wardrobe; he could hear
guns being fired there, paving-stones being torn up and piled into
barricades, and voices shouting in clamorous triumph; and he said to
himself that it was his money fighting against the Government.

La Sarriette, however, had stretched out her hands with a cry of

"Paws off, little one!" exclaimed Madame Lecoeur in a hoarse voice.

As she stood there in the reflection of the gold, she looked yellower
than ever--her face discoloured by biliousness, her eyes glowing
feverishly from the liver complaint which was secretly undermining her.
Behind her Mademoiselle Saget on tip-toe was gazing ecstatically into
the wardrobe, and Madame Leonce had now risen from her seat, and was
growling sulkily.

"My uncle said I was to take everything," declared the girl.

"And am I to have nothing, then; I who have done so much for him?" cried
the doorkeeper.

Madame Lecoeur was almost choking with excitement.

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