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The Count's Millions

Chapter 2.
M. Isidore Fortunat resided at No. 27 Place de la Bourse, on the third floor. He had a
handsome suite of apartments: a drawing- room, a dining-room, a bed-room, a large outer
office where his clerks worked, and a private one, which was the sanctuary of his
thoughts and meditations. The whole cost him only six thousand francs a year, a mere
trifle as rents go nowadays. His lease entitled him, moreover, to the use of a room ten feet
square, up under the eaves, where he lodged his servant, Madame Dodelin, a woman of
forty-six or thereabouts, who had met with reverses of fortune, and who now took such
good charge of his establishment, that his table--for he ate at home--was truly fit for a
sybarite.
Having been established here for five years or more, M. Fortunat was very well known in
the neighborhood, and, as he paid his rent promptly, and met all his obligations without
demur, he was generally respected. Besides, people knew very well from what source M.
Fortunat derived his income. He gave his attention to contested claims, liquidations, the
recovery of legacies, and so on, as was shown by the inscription in large letters which
figured on the elegant brass plate adorning his door. He must have had a prosperous
business, for he employed six collectors in addition to the clerks who wrote all day long
in his office; and his clients were so numerous that the concierge was often heard to
complain of the way they ran up and down the stairs, declaring that it was worse than a
procession.
To be just, we must add that M. Fortunat's appearance, manners and conduct were of a
nature to quiet all suspicions. He was some thirty-eight years of age, extremely
methodical in his habits, gentle and refined in his manner, intelligent, very good-looking,
and always dressed in perfect taste. He was accused of being, in business matters, as cold,
as polished, and as hard as one of the marble slabs of the Morgue; but then, no one was
obliged to employ him unless they chose to do so. This much is certain: he did not
frequent cafes or places of amusement. If he went out at all after dinner, it was only to
pass the evening at the house of some rich client in the neighborhood. He detested the
smell of tobacco, and was inclined to be devout--never failing to attend eight o'clock
mass on Sunday mornings. His housekeeper suspected him of matrimonial designs, and
perhaps she was right.
On the evening that the Count de Chalusse was struck with apoplexy M. Isidore Fortunat
had been dining alone and was sipping a cup of tea when the door-bell rang, announcing
the arrival of a visitor. Madame Dodelin hastened to open the door, and in walked Victor
Chupin, breathless from his hurried walk. It had not taken him twenty-five minutes to
cover the distance which separates the Rue de Courcelles from the Place de la Bourse.
"You are late, Victor," said M. Fortunat, quietly.
"That's true, monsieur, but it isn't my fault. Everything was in confusion down there, and
I was obliged to wait "
 
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