The Count's Millions HTML version
M. Fortunat had scarcely started off on his visit to the Vantrassons when the Marquis de
Valorsay reached the Place de la Bourse.
"Monsieur has gone out," said Madame Dodelin, as she opened the door.
"You must be mistaken, my good woman."
"No, no; my master said you would, perhaps, wait for him."
"Very well; I will do so."
Faithful to the orders she had received, the servant conducted the visitor to the drawing-
room, lit the tapers in the candelabra, and retired. "This is very strange!" growled the
marquis. "Monsieur Fortunat makes an appointment, Monsieur Fortunat expects me to
wait for him! What will happen next?" However, he drew a newspaper from his pocket,
threw himself into an arm-chair, and waited.
By his habits and tastes, the Marquis de Valorsay belonged to that section of the
aristocracy which has coined the term "high life" in view of describing its own manners
and customs. The matters that engrossed the marquis's frivolous mind were club-life and
first performances at the opera and the leading theatres, social duties and visits to the
fashionable watering-places, racing and the shooting and hunting seasons, together with
his mistress and his tailor.
He considered that to ride in a steeple-chase was an act of prowess worthy of his
ancestors; and when he galloped past the stand, clad as a jockey, in top-boots and a violet
silk jacket, he believed he read admiration in every eye. This was his every-day life,
which had been enlivened by a few salient episodes: two duels, an elopement with a
married woman, a twenty-six hours' seance at the gaming table, and a fall from his horse,
while hunting, which nearly cost him his life. These acts of valor had raised him
considerably in the estimation of his friends, and procured him a celebrity of which he
was not a little proud. The newspaper reporters were constantly mentioning his name, and
the sporting journals never failed to chronicle his departure from Paris or his arrival in the
Unfortunately, such a life of busy idleness has its trials and its vicissitudes, and M. de
Valorsay was a living proof of this. He was only thirty-three, but in spite of the care he
expended upon his toilette, he looked at least forty. Wrinkles were beginning to show
themselves; it required all the skill of his valet to conceal the bald spots on his cranium;
and since his fall from his horse, he had been troubled by a slight stiffness in his right leg,
which stiffness became perfect lameness in threatening weather. Premature lassitude
pervaded his entire person, and when he relaxed in vigilance even his eyes betrayed a
distaste for everything--weariness, satiety as it were. All the same, however, he bore