The Count's Millions
"Ah! this is a bad job!" growled Chupin. "Go, go, and never stop!"
What exasperated him even more than his want of sleep was the thought that his good
mother must be waiting for him at home in an agony of anxiety; for since his reformation
he had become remarkably regular in his habits. What should he do? "Go home," said
Reason; "it will be easy enough to find this Wilkie again. There can be little doubt that he
lives at No. 48, in the Rue du Helder." "Remain," whispered Avarice; "and, since you
have accomplished so much, finish your work. M. Fortunat won't pay for conjectures, but
for a certainty."
Love of money carried the day; so, weaving an interminable chaplet of oaths, he followed
the party until they entered Brebant's restaurant, one of the best known establishments
which remain open at night-time. It was nearly two o'clock in the morning now; the
boulevard was silent and deserted, and yet this restaurant was brilliantly lighted from top
to bottom, and snatches of song and shouts of laughter, with the clatter of knives and
forks and the clink of glasses, could be heard through the half opened windows.
"Eight dozen Marennes for No. 6," shouted a waiter to the man who opened oysters near
the restaurant door.
On hearing this order, Chupin shook his clenched fist at the stars. "The wretches!" he
muttered through his set teeth; "bad luck to them! Those oysters are for their mouths,
plainly enough, for there are eight of them in all, counting those yellow-haired women.
They will, no doubt, remain at table until six o'clock in the morning. And they call this
enjoying themselves. And meanwhile, poor little Chupin must wear out his shoe-leather
on the pavement. Ah! they shall pay for this!"
It ought to have been some consolation to him to see that he was not alone in his misery,
for in front of the restaurant stood a dozen cabs with sleepy drivers, who were waiting for
chance to send them one of those half-intoxicated passengers who refuse to pay more
than fifteen sous for their fare, but give their Jehu a gratuity of a louis. All these vehicles
belonged to the peculiar category known as "night cabs"--dilapidated conveyances with
soiled, ragged linings, and drawn by half-starved, jaded horses.
However, Chupin neither thought of these vehicles, nor of the poor horses, nor, indeed, of
the drivers themselves. His wrath had been succeeded by philosophical resignation; he
accepted with good grace what he could not avoid. As the night air had become very
cool, he turned up the collar of his overcoat, and began to pace to and fro on the
pavement in front of the restaurant. He had made a hundred turns perhaps, passing the
events of the day in review, when suddenly such a strange and startling idea flashed
across his mind that he stood motionless, lost in astonishment. Reflecting on the manner
in which M. Wilkie and the Viscount de Coralth had behaved during the evening, a
singular suspicion assailed him. While M. Wilkie gradually lost his wits, M. de Coralth