Other People's Money
There is not, perhaps, in all Paris, a quieter street than the Rue St. Gilles in the
Marais, within a step of the Place Royale. No carriages there; never a crowd.
Hardly is the silence broken by the regulation drums of the Minims Barracks near
by, by the chimes of the Church of St. Louis, or by the joyous clamors of the
pupils of the Massin School during the hours of recreation.
At night, long before ten o'clock, and when the Boulevard Beaumarchais is still
full of life, activity, and noise, every thing begins to close. One by one the lights
go out, and the great windows with diminutive panes become dark. And if, after
midnight, some belated citizen passes on his way home, he quickens his step,
feeling lonely and uneasy, and apprehensive of the reproaches of his concierge,
who is likely to ask him whence he may be coming at so late an hour.
In such a street, every one knows each other: houses have no mystery; families,
no secrets,--a small town, where idle curiosity has always a corner of the veil
slyly raised, where gossip flourishes as rankly as the grass on the street.
Thus on the afternoon of the 27th of April, 1872 (a Saturday), a fact which
anywhere else might have passed unnoticed was attracting particular attention.
A man some thirty years of age, wearing the working livery of servants of the
upper class,--the long striped waistcoat with sleeves, and the white linen apron,--
was going from door to door.
"Who can the man be looking for?" wondered the idle neighbors, closely
watching his evolutions.
He was not looking for any one. To such as he spoke to, he stated that he had
been sent by a cousin of his, an excellent cook, who, before taking a place in the
neighborhood, was anxious to have all possible information on the subject of her