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'Good!' he rejoined, feeling quite happy, 'we can go two days on that, so I won't ask for an advance, which would surely be refused. Besides, it worries me so to ask. To-morrow I will go to see if the "Figaro" will take an article from me. Ah! if I had only finished my novel, and if that would sell a little!'

Marcelle kissed him in her turn. 'Yes, things will go on all right. Now you will come home with me, won't you? That will be so nice of you, and for to-morrow morning we'll buy a red herring at the corner of the Rue de Clichy, where I saw some splendid ones. To-night we have potatoes and bacon.'

Having asked a comrade to look at his proofs, Jordan started off with his wife. Saccard and Huret were also going away just then. In the street a brougham had stopped outside the newspaper office, and they saw the Baroness Sandorff step out. She bowed with a smile, and then went hurriedly up the stairs. She now sometimes visited Jantrou in this fashion, just by way of asking him if he knew of anything. In spite of his sudden rise, she still treated him as she had done in the days when he had presented himself at her father's house, bending double and soliciting orders. Her father had been a frightfully brutal man, and she could not forget how she had once seen him, when enraged by a heavy loss, kick Jantrou out of the door. And now that the ex-professor was at the fountain-head of information, she had again become familiar, and sought to extract tips from him.

'Well, is there nothing new?' she asked, when she had reached his office, where she would not even sit down.

'No, indeed; I know nothing.'

But she continued to look at him with a smile, persuaded that he was unwilling to speak. Then, to force him to be confidential, she began to talk of that stupid war, which was about to set Austria, Italy, and Prussia fighting. The world of speculation was panic-stricken; there had been a terrible fall in Italian funds, as well as in all securities for that matter. And she was very much worried, for she did not know how far she ought to follow the movement, already having heavy engagements for next settling-day.

'Doesn't your husband give you any information?' asked Jantrou jestingly. 'He is certainly in a good position to do so, at the Embassy.'

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'Oh! my husband,' she murmured, with a disdainful gesture: 'my husband, I get nothing out of him.'

He continued to laugh at her expense, going so far as to allude to the Public Prosecutor, Delcambre, who was said to pay her losses when she consented to pay them at all. 'And your friends, don't they know anything, either at Court or at the Palais de Justice?'

She pretended not to understand, but, without taking her eyes off him, rejoined, in a supplicating tone: 'Come, be amiable yourself. You know something.'

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'Amiable, why should I be?' said he, laughing, with an embarrassed air. 'You are scarcely amiable with me.'

Straightway she became grave again, and a stern expression came into her eyes. That man, whom her father had received with kicks—ah! never! And she turned her back upon him to go away when, out of spite, seeking to wound her, he added: 'You just met Saccard at the door, didn't you? Why didn't you question him? He wouldn't refuse you.'

She suddenly stepped back. 'What do you mean?'

'Why, whatever you please. Oh, don't pretend to be mystified!'

A feeling of revolt filled her; all the pride of her race, still[Pg 203] alive, rose out of the troubled depths, the mire in which her gambling passion was slowly, gradually drowning it. However, she did not indulge in an outburst, but in a clear, severe tone of voice simply said: 'Ah! my dear sir, what do you take me for? You are mad. No, I have nothing in common with your Saccard, because I didn't choose.'

Thereupon he saluted her with a profound bow. 'Well, madame, you made a very great mistake. You, who are always seeking "tips," could easily obtain them from that gentleman.'