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Monsieur Lecoq

Chapter 2
The young police agent to whom Gevrol abandoned what he thought an
unnecessary investigation was a debutant in his profession. His name was
Lecoq. He was some twenty-five or twenty-six years of age, almost beardless,
very pale, with red lips, and an abundance of wavy black hair. He was rather
short but well proportioned; and each of his movements betrayed unusual
energy. There was nothing remarkable about his appearance, if we except his
eyes, which sparkled brilliantly or grew extremely dull, according to his mood;
and his nose, the large full nostrils of which had a surprising mobility.
The son of a respectable, well-to-do Norman family, Lecoq had received a good
and solid education. He was prosecuting his law studies in Paris, when in the
same week, blow following blow, he learned that his father had died, financially
ruined, and that his mother had survived him only a few hours. He was left alone
in the world, destitute of resources, obliged to earn his living. But how? He had
an opportunity of learning his true value, and found that it amounted to nothing;
for the university, on bestowing its diploma of bachelor, does not give an annuity
with it. Hence of what use is a college education to a poor orphan boy? He
envied the lot of those who, with a trade at the ends of their fingers, could boldly
enter the office of any manufacturer, and say: "I would like to work." Such men
were working and eating. Lecoq sought bread by all the methods employed by
people who are in reduced circumstances! Fruitless labor! There are a hundred
thousand people in Paris who have seen better days. No matter! He gave proofs
of undaunted energy. He gave lessons, and copied documents for a lawyer. He
made his appearance in a new character almost every day, and left no means
untried to earn an honest livelihood. At last he obtained employment from a well-
known astronomer, the Baron Moser, and spent his days in solving bewildering
and intricate problems, at the rate of a hundred francs a month.