Baron Trigault's Vengeance
Vengeance! that is the first, the only thought, when a man finds himself
victimized, when his honor and fortune, his present and future, are wrecked by a
vile conspiracy! The torment he endures under such circumstances can only be
alleviated by the prospect of inflicting them a hundredfold upon his persecutors.
And nothing seems impossible at the first moment, when hatred surges in the
brain, and the foam of anger rises to the lips; no obstacle seems insurmountable,
or, rather, none are perceived. But later, when the faculties have regained their
equilibrium, one can measure the distance which separates the dream from
reality, the project from execution. And on setting to work, how many
discouragements arise! The fever of revolt passes by, and the victim wavers. He
still breathes bitter vengeance, but he does not act. He despairs, and asks
himself what would be the good of it? And in this way the success of villainy is
once more assured.
Similar despondency attacked Pascal Ferailleur when he awoke for the first time
in the abode where he had hidden himself under the name of Maumejan. A
frightful slander had crushed him to the earth--he could kill his slanderer, but
afterward--? How was he to reach and stifle the slander itself? As well try to hold
a handful of water; as well try to stay with extended arms the progress of the
poisonous breeze which wafts an epidemic on its wings. So the hope that had
momentarily lightened his heart faded away again. Since he had received that
fatal letter from Madame Leon the evening before, he believed that Marguerite
was lost to him forever, and in this case, it was useless to struggle against fate.
What would be the use of victory even if he conquered? Marguerite lost to him--
what did the rest matter? Ah! if he had been alone in the world. But he had his
mother to think of;--he belonged to this brave-hearted woman, who had saved
him from suicide already. "I will not yield, then; I will struggle on for her sake," he
muttered, like a man who foresees the futility of his efforts.
He rose, and had nearly finished dressing, when he heard a rap at his chamber
door. "It is I, my son," said Madame Ferailleur outside.
Pascal hastened to admit her. "I have come for you because the woman you
spoke about last evening is already here, and before employing her, I want your
"Then the woman doesn't please you, mother?"
"I want you to see her."
On entering the little parlor with his mother, Pascal found himself in the presence
of a portly, pale-faced woman, with thin lips and restless eyes, who bowed
obsequiously. It was indeed Madame Vantrasson, the landlady of the model
lodging-house, who was seeking employment for the three or four hours which
were at her disposal in the morning, she said. It certainly was not for pleasure
that she had decided to go out to service again; her dignity suffered terribly by
this fall--but then the stomach has to be cared for. Tenants were not numerous at
the model lodging- house, in spite of its seductive title; and those who slept there