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less, put it in his pocket; and, doing so, again I saw the handle of his poniard peeping forth, and shuddered at the thoughts it excited.
“ Is this all your wealth ?” asked he.
Why, what a stingy old animal your aunt must be! I shall make her more liberal, you may be sure. It is devilish cold here, ma belle !” resumed he: “no wonder you tremble ; for even I, who am used to be less delicately lodged, am half frozen.”
As he thus spoke, he took from his pocket a leathern bottle, filled with some spirit, the odour of which was detestable, and emptied nearly half the contents of it into his mouth.
“ I have discovered," he continued, “at the village alehouse, where I lodge, that your statement is correct as to your aunt's fortune not being settled on you — nay, more, it is said that she does not appear to feel any strong predilection in your favour. There is no accounting for tastes, you know : every one may not admire you as much as your humble servant once did — nay, still does ; for, en verité, you are still a monstrous fine woman.”
How I loathed him !
“ Now, as her fortune is wholly in her own power, she might take it into her head to bequeath it to some one less likely to do honour to it than we are; and to drag on some tedious years in pleasing a stupid old woman, who, after all, may cheat one at last, is a triste affair. I know something of this sort of existence, for I tried it once. An old uncle, rich as Cræsus, bête comme un Anglais, and capricious as a Parisian belle, took me to live with him as his adopted heir, at his old château near Turin. He kept an execrable cook, gave me bad wine and good advice, until I could stomach neither any longer; consequently, took
French leave of him one night, disembarrassing him of all the money in his coffre fort ; a good round sum, too, by Jove! But he, stupid old dolt, chose to resent this little escapade of mine as a heinous offence; and, when he shortly afterwards died, left his fortune to another nephew, who could swallow bad dinners and good advice without murmuring, and prefer waiting patiently for a large fortune to anticipating a portion of it.”
While he recounted this anecdote of himself, he was glancing round at the various articles of plate and furniture in the room.
Every thing here indicates wealth,” said he: “ that silver-framed mirror, this silver basin and ewer, and the nécessaire," taking one of the large old-fashioned boxes from the toilette, and weighing it in his hand. “ Do you know that there is a little fortune in this appartment? Your aunt has, doubtless, diamonds
A vague dread that this question was only the prelude to some proposal of theft, induced me to answer in the negative. “ What! would
have me believe that the owner of the costly things before me has no diamonds ? Bah ! I know better ; you are disingenuous, Caroline. Ye gods, how thirsty I am !” pursued he, having again recourse to his bottle; “ it is the infernal bacon I partook of, by way of a supper, that has produced this insatiable thirst. Apropos de souper, how can you, ma belle, who have lived in civilised countries, exist on English cookery? Faugh! the recollection of it makes me sick! Mais, revenons à nos affaires. What do you intend ? How are you to procure a sufficient supply of money to place me at my ease, and prevent the necessity of my exposing you to your aunt? I really have no malice against you, ma chère ; and, if I am compelled to any hostile measure, poverty alone will be the cause."
I told him that, except a few trinkets, all of which were at his service, I had nothing that could produce money.
“ Where are they? let me see them,” replied he.
They are in my bed-room, above stairs." “ Go for them : why do you hesitate ?”
I dared not tell him what was then passing in my mind, but he divined it.
" You are afraid to leave me here with
these costly things,” said he, pointing to the rich toilette-service; “ but I am ready to attend you to your bed-room, if you prefer this alternative :” and this was uttered with a glance that made me shudder.
I instantly took a light, and glided with