Ten Years Later HTML version

Chapter 4
Malicorne and Manicamp.
The introduction of these two new personages into this history and that mysterious
affinity of names and sentiments, merit some attention on the part of both historian and
reader. We will then enter into some details concerning Messieurs Malicorne and
Manicamp. Malicorne, we know, had made the journey to Orleans in search of the
brevet destined for Mademoiselle de Montalais, the arrival of which had produced such
a strong feeling at the castle of Blois. At that moment, M. de Manicamp was at Orleans.
A singular person was this M. de Manicamp; a very intelligent young fellow, always
poor, always needy, although he dipped his hand freely into the purse of M. le Comte de
Guiche, one of the best furnished purses of the period. M. le Comte de Guiche had had,
as the companion of his boyhood, this De Manicamp, a poor gentleman, vassal- born, of
the house of Gramont. M. de Manicamp, with his tact and talent had created himself a
revenue in the opulent family of the celebrated marechal. From his infancy he had, with
calculation beyond his age, lent his mane and complaisance to the follies of the Comte
de Guiche. If his noble companion had stolen some fruit destined for Madame la
Marechale, if he had broken a mirror, or put out a dog's eye, Manicamp declared himself
guilty of the crime committed, and received the punishment, which was not made the
milder for falling on the innocent. But this was the way this system of abnegation was
paid for: instead of wearing such mean habiliments as his paternal fortunes entitled him
to, he was able to appear brilliant, superb, like a young noble of fifty thousand livres a
year. It was not that he was mean in character or humble in spirit; no, he was a
philosopher, or rather he had the indifference, the apathy, the obstinacy which banish
from man every sentiment of the supernatural. His sole ambition was to spend money.
But, in this respect, the worthy M. de Manicamp was a gulf. Three or four times every
year he drained the Comte de Guiche, and when the Comte de Guiche was thoroughly
drained, when he had turned out his pockets and his purse before him, when he
declared that it would be at least a fortnight before paternal munificence would refill
those pockets and that purse, Manicamp lost all his energy, he went to bed, remained
there, ate nothing and sold his handsome clothes, under the pretense that, remaining in
bed, he did not want them. During this prostration of mind and strength, the purse of the
Comte de Guiche was getting full again, and when once filled, overflowed into that of De
Manicamp, who bought new clothes, dressed himself again, and recommenced the
same life he had followed before. The mania of selling his new clothes for a quarter of
what they were worth, had rendered our hero sufficiently celebrated in Orleans, a city
where, in general, we should be puzzled to say why he came to pass his days of
penitence. Provincial debauches, petits-maitres of six hundred livres a year, shared the
fragments of his opulence.
Among the admirers of these splendid toilettes, our friend Malicorne was conspicuous;
he was the son of a syndic of the city, of whom M. de Conde, always needy as a De
Conde, often borrowed money at enormous interest. M. Malicorne kept the paternal