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"WELL, Monsieur Guillaume, what is the
news this evening ?"

"None that I know of, Monsieur Justin,
except that Mademoiselle Rose is to be
married to-morrow."

"Much obliged, my respectable old friend,
for so interesting and unexpected a reply to
my question. Considering that I am the
valet of Monsieur Danville, who plays the
distinguished part of bridegroom in the little
wedding comedy to which you refer, I think
I may assure you, without offence, that your
news is, so far as I am concerned, of the
stalest possible kind. Take a pinch of snuff,
Monsieur Guillaume, and excuse me if I
inform you that my question referred to public
news, and not to the private affairs of the two
families whose household interests we have
the pleasure of promoting."

"I don't understand what you mean by
such a phrase as promoting household
interests, Monsieur Justin. I am the servant
of Monsieur Louis Trudaine, who lives here
with his sister, Mademoiselle Rose. You are
the servant of Monsieur Danville, whose
excellent mother has made up the match for
him with my young lady. As servants, both
of us, the pleasantest news we can have any
concern with is news that is connected with
the happiness of our masters. I have nothing
to do with public affairs; and, being one of
the old school, I make it my main object in
life to mind my own business. If our homely
domestic politics have no interest for you,
allow me to express my regret, and to wish
you a very good evening."

"Pardon me, my dear sir, I have not the
slightest respect for the old school, or the
least sympathy with people who only mind
their own business. However, I accept your
expressions of regret; I reciprocate your
Good evening; and I trust to find you
improved in temper, dress, manners, and
appearance, the next time I have the honour of
meeting you. Adieu, Monsieur Guillaume,
and Vive la bagatelle!"

These scraps of dialogue were interchanged
on a lovely summer evening, in the year
seventeen hundred and eighty-nine, before the
back-door of a small house which stood on
the banks of the Seine, about three miles
westward of the city of Rouen. The one
speaker was lean, old, crabbed, and slovenly;
the other was plump, young, oily-mannered,
and dressed in the most gorgeous lively
costume of the period. The last days of genuine
dandyism were then rapidly approaching all
over the civilised world; and Monsieur
Justin was, in his own way, dressed to
perfection, as a living illustration of the expiring
glories of his epoch.

After the old servant had left him, he
occupied himself for a few minutes in
contemplating, superciliously enough, the back
view of the little house before which he stood.
Judging by the windows, it did not contain
more than six or eight rooms in all. Instead
of stables and outhouses, there was a
conservatory attached to the building on one side,
and a low long room, built of wood gaily
painted, on the other. One of the windows of
this room was left uncurtained, and through
it could be seen on a sort of dresser inside,
bottles filled with strangely-coloured liquids,
oddly-shaped utensils of brass and copper,
one end of a large furnace, and other objects,
which plainly proclaimed that the apartment
was used as a chemical laboratory.

"Think of our bride's brother amusing
himself in such a place as that with cooking
drugs in saucepans," muttered Monsieur
Justin, peeping into the room. " I am the
least particular man in the universe; but, I
must say, I wish we were not going to be
connected by marriage with an amateur
apothecary. Pah! I can smell the place
through the window."

With these words Monsieur Justin turned
his back on the laboratory in disgust, and
sauntered towards the cliffs overhanging the

Leaving the garden attached to the
house, he ascended some gently-rising ground
by a winding path. Arrived at the summit,
the whole view of the Seine with its lovely
green islands, its banks fringed with trees,
its gliding boats, and little scattered waterside
cottages, opened before him. Westward,
where the level country appeared beyond the
further bank of the river, the landscape was
all aglow with the crimson of the setting sun.
Eastward, the long shadows and mellow
intervening lights, the red glory that quivered