The Blonde Lady
Number 514, Series 26
On the 8th of December last, M. Gerbois, professor of mathematics at
Versailles College, rummaging among the stores at a second-hand
dealer's, discovered a small mahogany writing-desk, which took his
fancy because of its many drawers.
"That's just what I want for Suzanne's birthday," he thought.
M. Gerbois' means were limited and, anxious as he was to please his
daughter, he felt it his duty to beat the dealer down. He ended by paying
sixty-five francs. As he was writing down his address, a well-groomed
and well-dressed young man, who had been hunting through the shop
in every direction, caught sight of the writing-desk and asked:
"How much for this?"
"It's sold," replied the dealer.
"Oh É to this gentleman?"
M. Gerbois bowed and, feeling all the happier that one of his fellow-
men envied him his purchase, left the shop. But he had not taken ten
steps in the street before the young man caught him up and, raising his
hat, said, very politely:
"I beg a thousand pardons, sirÉ . I am going to ask you an indiscreet
questionÉ . Were you looking for this desk rather than anything else?"
"No. I went to the shop to see if I could find a cheap set of scales for
"Therefore, you do not want it very particularly?"
"I want it, that's all."
"Because it's old I suppose?"
"Because it's useful."
"In that case, would you mind exchanging it for another desk, quite as
useful, but in better condition?"
"This one is in good condition and I see no point in exchanging it."
"Still É "