The Count's Millions
It is a terrible task to break suddenly with one's past, without even having had time for
preparation; to renounce the life one has so far lived, to return to the starting point, and
begin existence anew; to abandon everything--the position one has gained, the work one
has become familiar with, every fondly cherished hope, and friend, and habit; to forsake
the known to plunge into the unknown, to leave the certain for the uncertain, and desert
light for darkness; to cast one's identity aside, assume a strange individuality, become a
living lie, change name, position, face, and clothes--in one phrase, to cease to be one's
self, in order to become some one else.
This is indeed, a terrible ordeal, and requires an amount of resolution and energy which
few human beings possess. The boldest hesitate before such a sacrifice, and many a man
has surrendered himself to justice rather than resort to this last extremity. And yet this
was what Pascal Ferailleur had the courage to do, on the morrow of the shameful
conspiracy that had deprived him of his good name. When his mother's exhortations and
Baron Trigault's encouraging words had restored his wonted clearness of perception, the
only course he felt disposed to pursue was to disappear and fly from the storm of slander
and contempt; and then, in a secure hiding-place, to watch for the time and opportunity of
rehabilitation and revenge.
Madame Ferailleur and her son made all needful arrangements. "I shall start out at once,"
said Pascal, "and before two hours have elapsed I shall have found a modest lodging,
where we must conceal ourselves for the present. I know a locality that will suit us, and
where no one will certainly ever think of looking for us."
"And I," asked Madame Ferailleur, "what shall I do in the meantime?"
"You, mother; you must, at once, sell all that we possess here-- everything--even my
books. You will only keep such of our linen and clothes as you can pack in three or four
trunks. We are undoubtedly watched; and so it is of the utmost importance that every one
should imagine I have left Paris, and that you are going to join me."
"And when everything is sold, and my trunks are ready?"
"Then, mother, you must send some one for a cab, and order the driver to take you to the
Western Railway Station, where you will have the trunks removed from the cab and
placed in the baggage- room, as if you did not intend to leave Paris till the next day."
"Very good, I will do so; even if any one is watching us, he won't be likely to suspect this
ruse. But afterward?"
"Afterward, mother, you must go to the waiting-room upstairs, and you will find me
there. I will then take you to the rooms I shall have rented, and to-morrow we'll send a
messenger with the receipt the railway people will give you, to fetch our luggage for us."