Baron Trigault's Vengeance HTML version
Mademoiselle Marguerite had been greatly surprised on the occasion of her visit
to M. Fortunat when she saw Victor Chupin suddenly step forward and eagerly
exclaim: "I shall be unworthy of the name I bear if I do not find M. Ferailleur for
you in less than a fortnight."
It is true that M. Fortunat's clerk did not appear to the best advantage on this
occasion. In order to watch M. de Coralth, he had again arrayed himself in his
cast-off clothes, and with his blouse and his worn-out shoes, his "knockers" and
his glazed cap, he looked the vagabond to perfection. Still, strange as it may
seem, Mademoiselle Marguerite did not once doubt the devotion of this strange
auxiliary. Without an instant's hesitation she replied, "I accept your services,
Chupin felt at least a head taller as he heard this beautiful young girl speak to
him in a voice as clear and as sonorous as crystal. "Ah! you are right to trust me,"
he rejoined, striking his chest with his clinched hand, "for I have a heart--but----"
"But what, monsieur?"
"I am wondering if you would consent to do what I wish. It would be a very good
plan, but if it displeases you, we will say no more about it."
"And what do you wish?"
"To see you every day, so as to tell you what I've done, and to obtain such
directions as I may require. I'm well aware that I can't go to M. de Fondege's door
and ask to speak to you; but there are other ways of seeing each other. For
instance, every evening at five o-clock precisely, I might pass along the Rue
Pigalle, and warn you of my presence by such a signal as this: 'Pi-ouit!'" So
saying he gave vent to the peculiar call, half whistle, half ejaculation, which is
familiar to the Parisian working-classes. "Then," he resumed, "you might come
down and I would tell you the news; besides, I might often help you by doing
Mademoiselle Marguerite reflected for a moment, and then bowing her head, she
"What you suggest is quite practicable. On and after to-morrow evening I will
watch for you; and if I don't come down at the end of half an hour, you will know
that I am unavoidably detained."
Chupin ought to have been satisfied. But no, he had still another request to
make; and instinct, supplying the lack of education, told him that it was a delicate
one. Indeed, he dared not present his petition; but his embarrassment was so
evident, and he twisted his poor cap so despairingly, that at last the young girl
gently asked him: "Is there anything more?"
He still hesitated, but eventually, mustering all his courage, he replied: "Well, yes,
mademoiselle. I've never seen Monsieur Ferailleur. Is he tall or short, light or
dark, stout or thin? I do not know. I might stand face to face with him without
being able to say, 'It's he.' But it would be quite a different thing if I only had a
photograph of him."