Caught In The Net
A New Skin
Dr. Hortebise's private arrangements were sadly upset by his being compelled to
accede to the desire of Tantaine and Mascarin, and in granting hospitality to Paul
Violaine; and in spite of the brilliant visions of the future, he often devoutly wished
that Mascarin and his young friend were at the other side of the world; but for all
that he never thought of attempting to evade the order he had received. He
therefore set himself steadily to his task, endeavoring to form Paul's mind, blunt
his conscience, and prepare him for the inevitable part that he would soon have
Paul found in him a most affable companion, pleasant, witty, and gifted with great
conversational powers. Five days were thus spent breakfasting at well-known
restaurants, driving in the Bois, and dining at clubs of which the doctor was a
member, while the evenings were passed at the banker's. The doctor played
cards with his host, while Paul and Flavia conversed together in low whispers, or
else hung over the piano together. But every kind of agreeable existence comes
to an end, and one day Daddy Tantaine entered the room, his face radiant with
"I have secured you the sweetest little nest in the world," cried he merrily. "It is
not so fine as this, but more in accordance with your position."
"Where is it?" asked Paul.
Tantaine waited. "You won't wear out much shoe leather," said he, "in walking to
a certain banker's, for your lodgings are close to his house."
That Tantaine had a splendid talent for arrangement Paul realized as soon as he
entered his new place of abode, which was in the Rue Montmartre, and
consisted of some neat, quiet rooms, just such as an artist who had conquered
his first difficulties would inhabit. The apartments were on the third floor, and
comprised a tiny entrance hall, sitting-room, bed and dressing room. A piano
stood near the window in the sitting-room. The furniture and curtains were
tasteful and in good order, but nothing was new. One thing surprised Paul very
much; he had been told that the apartments had been taken and furnished three
days ago, and yet it seemed as if they had been inhabited for years, and that the
owner had merely stepped out a few minutes before. The unmade bed, and the
half-burnt candles in the sleeping-room added to this impression, while on the
rug lay a pair of worn slippers. The fire had not gone out entirely, and a half-
smoked cigar lay on the mantelpiece.
On the table in the sitting-room was a sheet of music paper, with a few bars
jotted down upon it. Paul felt so convinced that he was in another person's
rooms, that he could not help exclaiming, "But surely some one has been living in
"We are in your own home, my dear boy," said Tantaine.
"But you took over everything, I suppose, and the original proprietor simply
Tantaine smiled, as though an unequivocal compliment had been paid him.