He resumed, in a brief and harsh tone,"When my father died, I was young. I did not know then what I havelearned since, - that to contribute to insure the impunity of knavesis almost to make one's self their accomplice. And the victim whosays nothing and submits, does contribute to it. The honest man,on the contrary, should speak, and point out to others the trapinto which he has fallen, that they may avoid it."The baroness was listening with the air of a person who is compelledby politeness to hear a tiresome story.

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"That is a rather gloomy preamble," she said. M. de Tregars tookno notice of the interruption.

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"At all times," he went on, "my father seemed careless of hisaffairs: that affectation, he thought, was due to the name he bore.

But his negligence was only apparent. I might mention things ofhim that would do honor to the most methodical tradesman. He had,for instance, the habit of preserving all the letters of anyimportance which he received. He left twelve or fifteen boxes fullof such. They were carefully classified; and many bore upon theirmargin a few notes indicating what answer had been made to them."Half suppressing a yawn,"That is order," said the baroness, "if I know any thing about it.""At the first moment, determined not to stir up the past, Iattached no importance to those letters; and they would certainlyhave been burnt, but for an old friend of the family, the Count deVillegre, who had them carried to his own house. But later, actingunder the influence of circumstances which it would be too long toexplain to you, I regretted my apathy; and I thought that I should,perhaps, find in that correspondence something to either dissipateor justify certain suspicions which had occurred to me.""So that, like a respectful son, you read it?" M. de Tregars bowedceremoniously.

"I believe," he said, "that to avenge a father of the imposture ofwhich he was the victim during his life, is to render homage to hismemory. Yes, madame, I read the whole of that correspondence, andwith an interest which you will readily understand. I had already,and without result, examined the contents of several boxes, when inthe package marked 1852, a year which my father spent in Paris,certain letters attracted my attention. They were written uponcoarse paper, in a very primitive handwriting and wretchedly spelt.

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They were signed sometimes Phrasie, sometimes Marquise de Javelle.

Some gave the address, 'Rue des Bergers, No. 3, Paris-Grenelle.'

"Those letters left me no doubt upon what had taken place. Myfather had met a young working-girl of rare beauty: he had taken afancy to her; and, as he was tormented by the fear of being lovedfor his money alone, he had passed himself off for a poor clerk inone of the departments.""Quite a touching little love-romance," remarked the baroness.

But there was no impertinence that could affect Marius de Tregars'

"A romance, perhaps," he said, "but in that case a money-romance,not a love-romance. This Phrasie or Marquise de Javelle, announcesin one of her letters, that in February, 1853, she has given birthto a daughter, whom she has confided to some relatives of hers inthe south, near Toulouse. It was doubtless that event whichinduced my father to acknowledge who he was. He confesses thathe is not a poor clerk, but the Marquis de Tregars, having anincome of over a hundred thousand francs. At once the tone ofthe correspondence changes. The Marquise de Javelle has a stupidtime where she lives; the neighbors reproach her with her fault;work spoils her pretty hands. Result: less than two weeks afterthe birth of her daughter, my father hires for his pretty mistressa lovely apartment, which she occupies under the name of Mme. Devil;she is allowed fifteen hundred francs a month, servants, horses,carriage."Mme. de Thaller was giving signs of the utmost impatience. Withoutpaying any attention to them, M. de Tregars proceeded,"Henceforth free to see each other daily, my father and his mistresscease to write. But Mme. Devil does not waste her time. During aspace of less than eight months, from February to September, sheinduces my father to dispose - not in her favor, she is toodisinterested for that, but in favor of her daughter - of a sumexceeding five hundred thousand francs. In September, thecorrespondence is resumed. Mme. Devil discovers that she is nothappy, and acknowledges it in a letter, which shows, by its improvedwriting and more correct spelling, that she has been taking lessons.

"She complains of her precarious situation: the future frightens her:

she longs for respectability. Such is, for three months, theconstant burden of her correspondence. She regrets the time whenshe was a working girl: why has she been so weak? Then, at last,in a note which betrays long debates and stormy discussions, sheannounces that she has an unexpected offer of marriage; a finefellow, who,, if she only had two hundred thousand francs, wouldgive his name to herself and to her darling little daughter. Fora long time my father hesitates; but she presses her point withsuch rare skill, she demonstrates so conclusively that this marriagewill insure the happiness of their child, that my father yields atlast, and resigns himself to the sacrifice. And in a memorandumon the margin of a last letter, he states that he has just giventwo hundred thousand francs to Mme. Devil; that he will never seeher again; and that he returns to live in Brittany, where he wishes,by the most rigid economy, to repair the breach he has just madein his fortune.""Thus end all these love-stories," said Mme. de Thaller in ajesting tone.

"I beg your pardon: this one is not ended yet. For many years, myfather kept his word, and never left our homestead of Tregars. Butat last he grew tired of his solitude, and returned to Paris. Didhe seek to see his former mistress again? I think not. I supposethat chance brought them together; or else, that, being aware of hisreturn, she managed to put herself in his way. He found her morefascinating, than ever, and, according to what she wrote him, richand respected; for her husband had become a personage. She wouldhave been perfectly happy, she added, had it been possible for herto forget the man whom she had once loved so much, and to whom sheowed her position.

"I have that letter. The elegant hand, the style, and the correctorthography, express better than any thing else the transformationsof the Marquise de Javelle. Only it is not signed. The littleworking-girl has become prudent: she has much to lose, and fears tocompromise herself.

"A week later, in a laconic note, apparently dictated by anirresistible passion, she begs my father to come to see her at herown house. He does so, and finds there a little girl, whom hebelieves to be his own child, and whom he at once begins to idolize.

"And that's all. Again he falls under the charm. He ceases tobelong to himself: his former mistress can dispose, at her pleasure,of his fortune and of his fate.

"But see now what bad luck! The husband takes a notion to becomejealous of my father's visits. In a letter which is a masterpieceof diplomacy, the lady explains her anxiety.

'"He has suspicions,' she writes; 'and to what extremities might henot resort, were he to discover the truth!' And with infinite artshe insinuates that the best way to justify his constant presenceis to associate himself with that jealous husband.