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Baron Trigault's Vengeance

Chapter 20
Money, which nowadays has taken the place of the good fairies of former times,
had gratified M. Wilkie's every longing in a single night. Without any period of
transition, dreamlike as it were, he had passed from what he called "straitened
circumstances" to the splendid enjoyment of a princely fortune. Madame
d'Argeles's renunciation had been so correctly drawn up, that as soon as he
presented his claims and displayed his credentials he was placed in possession
of the Chalusse estate. It is true that a few trifling difficulties presented
themselves. For instance, the old justice of the peace who had affixed the seals
refused to remove them from certain articles of furniture, especially from the late
count's escritoire, without an order from the court, and several days were needed
to obtain this. But what did that matter to M. Wilkie? The house, with its splendid
reception-rooms, pictures, statuary and gardens, was at his disposal, and he
installed himself therein at once. Twenty horses neighed and stamped in his
stables; there were at least a dozen carriages in the coach-house. He devoted
his attention exclusively to the horses and vehicles; but acting upon the advice of
Casimir, who had become his valet and oracle, he retained all the former
servants of the house, from Bourigeau the concierge down to the humblest
scullery maid. Still, he gave them to understand that this was only a temporary
arrangement. A man like himself, living in this progressive age, could scarcely be
expected to content himself with what had satisfied the Count de Chalusse. "For I
have my plans," he remarked to Casimir, "but let Paris wait awhile."
He repudiated his former friends. Costard and Serpillon, pretended viscounts
though they were, were quite beneath the notice of a Gordon-Chalusse, as M.
Wilkie styled himself on his visiting cards. However, he purchased their share of
Pompier de Nanterre, feeling convinced that this remarkable steeplechaser had a
brilliant future before him. He did not trouble himself to any great extent about his
mother. Like every one else, he knew that she had disappeared, but nothing
further. On the other hand, the thought of his father, the terrible chevalier
d'industrie, hung over his joy like a pall; and each time the great entrance bell
announced a visitor, he trembled, turned pale, and muttered: "Perhaps it's he!"
Tortured by this fear, he clung closely to the Marquis de Valorsay as if he felt that
this distinguished friend was a powerful support. Besides, people of rank and
distinction naturally exercised a powerful attraction over him, and he fancied he
grew several inches taller when, in some public place, in the street, or a
restaurant, he was able to call out, "I say, Valorsay, my good friend," or, "Upon
my word! my dear marquis!"
M. de Valorsay received these effusions graciously enough, although, in point of
fact, he was terribly bored by the platitudes of his new acquaintance. He intended
to send him to Coventry later on, but just now M. Wilkie was too useful to be
ignored. So he had introduced him to his club, and was seen with him
everywhere--in the Bois, at the restaurants, and the theatres. At times, some of
his friends inquired: "Who is that queer little fellow?" with a touch of irony in their
 
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