Two days after, the sale was ended. It had produced 3.50,000 francs. The
creditors divided among them two thirds, and the family, a sister and a grand-
nephew, received the remainder.
The sister opened her eyes very wide when the lawyer wrote to her that she had
inherited 50,000 francs. The girl had not seen her sister for six or seven years,
and did not know what had become of her from the moment when she had
disappeared from home. She came up to Paris in haste, and great was the
astonishment of those who had known Marguerite when they saw as her only
heir a fine, fat country girl, who until then had never left her village. She had
made the fortune at a single stroke, without even knowing the source of that
fortune. She went back, I heard afterward, to her countryside, greatly saddened
by her sister's death, but with a sadness which was somewhat lightened by the
investment at four and a half per cent which she had been able to make.
All these circumstances, often repeated in Paris, the mother city of scandal, had
begun to be forgotten, and I was even little by little forgetting the part I had taken
in them, when a new incident brought to my knowledge the whole of Marguerite's
life, and acquainted me with such pathetic details that I was taken with the idea
of writing down the story which I now write.
The rooms, now emptied of all their furniture, had been to let for three or four
days when one morning there was a ring at my door.
My servant, or, rather, my porter, who acted as my servant, went to the door and
brought me a card, saying that the person who had given it to him wished to see
I glanced at the card and there read these two words: Armand Duval.
I tried to think where I had seen the name, and remembered the first leaf of the
copy of Manon Lescaut. What could the person who had given the book to
Marguerite want of me? I gave orders to ask him in at once.
I saw a young man, blond, tall, pale, dressed in a travelling suit which looked as if
he had not changed it for some days, and had not even taken the trouble to
brush it on arriving at Paris, for it was covered with dust.
M. Duval was deeply agitated; he made no attempt to conceal his agitation, and it
was with tears in his eyes and a trembling voice that he said to me: