Baron Trigault's Vengeance HTML version

Chapter 10
The old legend of Achilles's heel will be eternally true. A man may be humble or
powerful, feeble or strong, but there are none of us without some weak spot in
our armor, a spot vulnerable beyond all others, a certain place where wounds
prove most dangerous and painful. M. Isidore Fortunat's weak place was his
cash-box. To attack him there was to endanger his life--to wound him at a point
where all his sensibility centred. For it was in this cash-box and not in his breast
that his heart really throbbed. His safe made him happy or dejected. Happy when
it was filled to overflowing by some brilliant operation, and dejected when he saw
it become empty as some imprudent transaction failed.
This then explains his frenzy on that ill-fated Sunday, when, after being brutally
dismissed by M. Wilkie, he returned to his rooms in the company of his clerk,
Victor Chupin. This explains, too, the intensity of the hatred he now felt for the
Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth. The former, the marquis, had
defrauded him of forty thousand francs in glittering gold. The other, the viscount,
had suddenly sprung up out of the ground, and carried off from under his very
nose that magnificent prize, the Chalusse inheritance, which he had considered
as good as won. And he had not only been defrauded and swindled--such were
his own expressions--but he had been tricked, deceived, duped, and outwitted,
and by whom? By people who did not make it their profession to be shrewd, like
he did himself. Just fancy, his business was to outwit others, and a couple of
mere amateurs had outgeneraled him. He had not only suffered in pocket, he
had been humiliated as well, and so he indulged in threats of such terrible import.
However, at the very moment when he was dreaming of wreaking vengeance on
the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth, his housekeeper, austere
Madame Dodelin, handed him Mademoiselle Marguerite's letter. He read it with
intense astonishment, rubbing his eyes as if to assure himself that he were really
awake. "Tuesday," he repeated, "the day after to-morrow--at your house--
between three and four o'clock--I must speak with you."
His manner was so strange, and his usually impassive face so disturbed by
conflicting feelings, that Madame Dodelin's curiosity overcame her prudence, and
she remained standing in front of him with open mouth, staring with all her eyes
and listening with all her ears. He perceived this, and angrily exclaimed: "What
are you doing here? You are watching me, I do believe. Get back to your kitchen,
She fled in alarm, and he then entered his private office. His heart was leaping
with joy, and he laughed wickedly at the hope of a speedy revenge. "She's on the
scent," he muttered; "and she has luck in her favor. She has chanced to apply to
me on the very day that I had resolved to defend and rehabilitate her lover, the
honest fool who allowed himself to be dishonored by those unscrupulous
blackguards. Just as I was thinking of going in search of her, she comes to me.
As I was about to write to her, she writes to me. Who can deny the existence of
Providence after this?" Like many other people, M. Fortunat piously believed in