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List Of Contents | Contents of Derues, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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her husband's arm, declining to answer any questions until she
reached the louse, and laughing at his curiosity.

Pierre-Etienne de Saint-Faust de Lamotte, one of the king's
equerries, seigneur of Grange-Flandre, Valperfond, etc., had married
Marie-Francoise Perier in 1760.  Their fortune resembled many others
of that period: it was more nominal than actual, more showy than
solid.  Not that the husband and wife had any cause for
self-reproach, or that their estates had suffered from dissipation;
unstained by the corrupt manners of the period, their union had been
a model of sincere affection, of domestic virtue and mutual
confidence.  Marie-Francoise was quite beautiful enough to have made
a sensation in society, but she renounced it of her own accord, in
order to devote herself to the duties of a wife and mother.  The only
serious grief she and her husband had experienced was the loss of
two young children.  Edouard, though delicate from his birth, had
nevertheless passed the trying years of infancy and early
adolescence; he was them nearly fourteen.  With a sweet and rather
effeminate expression, blue eyes and a pleasant smile, he was a
striking likeness of his mother.  His father's affection exaggerated
the dangers which threatened the boy, and in his eyes the slightest
indisposition became a serious malady; his mother shared these fears,
and in consequence of this anxiety Edouard's education had been much
neglected.  He had been brought up at Buisson-Souef, and allowed to
run wild from morning till night, like a young fawn, exercising the
vigour and activity of its limbs.  He had still the simplicity and
general ignorance of a child of nine or ten.

The necessity of appearing at court and suitably defraying the
expenses of his office had made great inroads on Monsieur de
Lamotte's fortune.  He had of late lived at Buisson-Souef in the most
complete retirement; but notwithstanding this too long deferred
attention to his affairs, his property was ruining him, for the place
required a large expenditure, and absorbed a large amount of his
income without making any tangible return.  He had always hesitated
to dispose of the estate on account of its associations; it was there
he had met, courted, and married his beloved wife; there that the
happy days of their youth had been spent; there that they both wished
to grow old together.

Such was the family to which accident had now introduced Derues.  The
unfavourable impression made on Monsieur de Lamotte had not passed
unperceived by him; but, being quite accustomed to the instinctive
repugnance which his first appearance generally inspired, Derues had
made a successful study of how to combat and efface this antagonistic
feeling, and replace it by confidence, using different means
according to the persons he had to deal with.  He understood at once
that vulgar methods would be useless with Monsieur de Lamotte, whose
appearance and manners indicated both the man of the world and the
man of intelligence, and also he had to consider the two priests, who
were both observing him attentively.  Fearing a false step, he
assumed the most simple and insignificant deportment he could,
knowing that sooner or later a third person would rehabilitate him in
the opinion of those present.  Nor did he wait long.

Arrived at the drawing-room, Monsieur de Lamotte requested the
company to be seated.  Derues acknowledged the courtesy by a bow, and
there was a moment of silence, while Edouard and his mother looked at
each other and smiled.  The silence was broken by Madame de Lamotte.

"Dear Pierre," she said, "you are surprised to see us accompanied by
a stranger, but when you hear what he has done for us you will thank
me for having induced him to return here with us."

"Allow me," interrupted Derues, "allow me to tell you what happened.
The gratitude which madame imagines she owes me causes her to
exaggerate a small service which anybody would have been delighted to
render."

"No, monsieur; let me tell it."

"Let mamma tell the story," said Edouard.

"What is it, then?  What happened?" said Monsieur de Lamotte.

"I am quite ashamed," answered Derues; "but I obey your wishes,
madame."

"Yes," replied Madame de Lamotte, "keep your seat, I wish it.
Imagine, Pierre, just six days ago, an accident happened to Edouard
and me which might have had serious consequences."

"And you never wrote to me, Marie?"

"I should only have made you anxious, and to no purpose.  I had some
business in one of the most crowded parts of Paris; I took a chair,
and Edouard walked beside me.  In the rue Beaubourg we were suddenly
surrounded by a mob of low people, who were quarrelling.  Carriages
stopped the way, and the horses of one of these took fright in the
confusion and uproar, and bolted, in spite of the coachman's
endeavours to keep them in hand.  It was a horrible tumult, and I
tried to get out of the chair, but at that moment the chairmen were
both knocked down, and I fell.  It is a miracle I was not crushed.  I
was dragged insensible from under the horses' feet and carried into
the house before which all this took place.  There, sheltered in a
shop and safe from the crowd which encumbered the doorway, I
recovered my senses, thanks to the assistance of Monsieur Derues, who
lives there.  But that is not all: when I recovered I could not walk,
I had been so shaken by the fright, the fall, and the danger I had
incurred, and I had to accept his offer of finding me another chair
when the crowd should disperse, and meanwhile to take shelter in his
rooms with his wife, who showed me the kindest attention."

"Monsieur--" said Monsieur de Lamotte, rising.  But his wife stopped
him.

"Wait a moment; I have not finished yet.  Monsieur Derues came back
in an hour, and I was then feeling better; but before, I left I was
stupid enough to say that I had been robbed in the confusion; my
diamond earrings, which had belonged to my mother, were gone.  You
cannot imagine the trouble Monsieur Derues took to discover the
thief, and all the appeals he made to the police--I was really
ashamed!"

Although Monsieur de Lamotte did not yet understand what motive,
other than gratitude, had induced his wife to bring this stranger
home with her, he again rose from his seat, and going to Derues, held
out his hand.

"I understand now the attachment my son shows for you.  You are wrong
in trying to lessen your good deed in order to escape from our
gratitude, Monsieur Derues."

"Monsieur Derues?" inquired the monk.

"Do you know the name, my father?" asked Madame de Lamotte eagerly.

"Edouard had already told me," said the monk, approaching Derues.

"You live in the, rue Beaubourg, and you are Monsieur Derues,
formerly a retail grocer?"

"The same, my brother."

"Should you require a reference, I can give it.  Chance, madame, has
made you acquainted with a man whose, reputation for piety and honour
is well established; he will permit me to add my praises to yours."

"Indeed, I do not know how I deserve so much honour."

"I am, Brother Marchois, of the Camaldulian order.  You see that I
know you well."

The monk then proceeded to explain that his community had confided
their affairs to Derues' honesty, he undertaking to dispose of the
articles manufactured by the monks in their retreat.  He then
recounted a number of good actions and of marks of piety, which were
heard with pleasure and admiration by those present.  Derues received
this cloud of incense with an appearance of sincere modesty and
humility, which would have deceived the most skilful physiognomist.

When the eulogistic warmth of the good brother began to slacken it
was already nearly dark, and the two priests had barely time to
regain the presbytery without incurring the risk of breaking their
necks in the rough road which led to it.  They departed at once, and
a room was got ready for Derues.

"To-morrow," said Madame de Lamotte as they separated, "you can
discuss with my husband the business on which you came: to-morrow, or
another day, for I beg that you will make yourself at home here, and
the longer you will stay the better it will please us."

The night was a sleepless one for Derues, whose brain was occupied by
a confusion of criminal plans.  The chance which had caused his
acquaintance with Madame de Lamotte, and even more the accident of
Brother Marchois appearing in the nick of time, to enlarge upon the
praises which gave him so excellent a character, seemed like
favourable omens not to be neglected.  He began to imagine fresh
villanies, to outline an unheard-of crime, which as yet he could not
definitely trace out; but anyhow there would be plunder to seize and
blood to spill, and the spirit of murder excited and kept him awake,
just as remorse might have troubled the repose of another.

Meanwhile Madame de Lamotte, having retired with her husband, was
saying to the latter--

"Well, now!  what do you think of my protege, or rather, of the
protector which Heaven sent me?"

"I think that physiognomy is often very deceptive, for I should have
been quite willing to hang him on the strength of his."

"It is true that his appearance is not attractive, and it led me into
a foolish mistake which I quickly regretted.  When I recovered
consciousness, and saw him attending on me, much worse and more
carelessly dressed than he is to-day."

"You were frightened?"

"No, not exactly; but I thought I must be indebted to a man of the
lowest class, to some poor fellow who was really starving, and my
first effort at gratitude was to offer him a piece of gold."

"Did he refuse it?"

"No; he accepted it for the poor of the parish.  Then he told me his
name, Cyrano Derues de Bury, and told me that the shop and the goods
it contained were his own property, and that he occupied an apartment
in the house.  I floundered in excuses, but he replied that he
blessed the mistake, inasmuch as it would enable him to relieve some
unfortunate people.  I was so touched with his goodness that I
offered him a second piece of gold."

"You were quite right, my dear; but what induced you to bring him to

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