Caught In The Net
4. A Trustworthy Servant
In the city of Paris it is impossible to find a more fashionable quarter than the one
which is bounded on the one side by the Rue Faubourg Saint Honore and on the
other by the Seine, and commences at the Place de la Concorde and ends at the
Avenue de l'Imperatrice. In this favored spot millionaires seem to bloom like the
rhododendron in the sunny south. There are the magnificent palaces which they
have erected for their accommodation, where the turf is ever verdant, and where
the flowers bloom perennially; but the most gorgeous of all these mansions was
the Hotel de Mussidan, the last chef d'oeuvre of Sevair, that skilful architect who
died just as the world was beginning to recognize his talents. With a spacious
courtyard in front and a magnificent garden in the rear, the Hotel de Mussidan is
as elegant as it is commodious. The exterior was extremely plain, and not
disfigured by florid ornamentation. White marble steps, with a light and elegant
railing at the sides, lead to the wide doors which open into the hall. The busy
hum of the servants at work at an early hour in the yard tells that an ample
establishment is kept up. There can be seen luxurious carriages, for occasions of
ceremony, and the park phaeton, and the simple brougham which the Countess
uses when she goes out shopping; and that carefully groomed thoroughbred is
Mirette, the favorite riding horse of Mademoiselle Sabine. Mascarin and his
confederate descended from their cab a little distance at the corner of the
Avenue Matignon. Mascarin, in his dark suit, with his spotless white cravat and
glittering spectacles, looked like some highly respectable functionary of State.
Hortebise wore his usual smile, though his cheek was pale.
"Now," remarked Mascarin, "let me see,--on what footing do you stand with the
Mussidans? Do they look upon you as a friend?"
"No, no; a poor doctor, whose ancestors were not among the Crusades, could
not be the intimate friend of such haughty nobles as the Mussidans."
"But the Countess knows you, and will not refuse to receive you, nor have you
turned out as soon as you begin to speak; for, taking shelter behind some rogue
without a name, you can shelter your own reputation. I will see the Count."
"Take care of him," said Hortebise thoughtfully. "He has a reputation for being a
man of ungovernable temper, and, at the first word from you that he objects to,
would throw you out of the window as soon as look at you."
Mascarin shrugged his shoulders. "I can bring him to reason," answered he.
The two confederates walked a little past the Hotel de Mussidan, and the doctor
explained the interior arrangements of the house.
"I," continued Mascarin, "will insist upon the Count's breaking off his daughter's
engagement with M. de Breulh-Faverlay, but shall not say a word about the
Marquis de Croisenois, while you will take the opportunity of putting his
pretensions before the Countess, and will not say a word of M. de Breulh-
"I have learned my lesson, and shall not forget it."