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of any classical person I ever knew. He
wiped his pens on his hair habitually. His
hands were scrupulously clean, however,
and he managed somehow to look like a
scholar and a gentleman. His religion was
that of an honourable heathen. His morals
those of Epicurus, and his philosophyit was
no wonderexcessively cynical; but, it is my
belief, that at some exceedingly remote time,
and under circumstances at which I cannot
make the faintest guess, Smilax was once a
tolerably good and very kind-hearted man.

He went, eventually, the way of most
ushers: he set up a school on his own
account, and failed.



NOT long since, there lived in the Rue
Richelieu, behind one of those lofty gate-ways
which separate the highly-decorated
shops of this great thoroughfare, one
Monsieur Perrin.

Monsieur Perrin occupied one of those
sumptuous entresols in which the footstep
is never heard; where Sèvres china,
vast mirrors, clocks and bronzes of
fantastic design stand dangerously near the
visitor's elbow; and where or-molu vies in
magnificence with buhl and marqueterie.
Immediately behind the door that opened
upon the general staircase of the vast hotel
of which this entresol formed part, was a
small room, devoted to Monsieur Perrin's
business. Here, were no ornaments
whatever; a small bronze oil-lamp, capped with
a dingy green shade, being the only article
upon the mantelpiece. Three or four cane-
chairs were against the bare walls; one
corner of the room was partitioned off
by a high wooden screen; behind the rails
of which green curtains were drawn, to veil
the mysteries which young Monsieur Adolphe
Beauvoir conducted on behalf of his

Adolphe was the son of a wealthy Norman
family. His fatheronce a notable millionnaire
of Francehad been a good friend to Monsieur
Perrin at critical seasons; and, in fact, had on
more than one occasion saved him from
bankruptcy. But, at last, troubles came to
Monsieur Beauvoir himself; and he was
ruined in the railway mania. He fled to
Algeria where he died, the proprietor of a
small café in Constantine. Adolphe, when
his father fled, was left to the care of
Monsieur Perrin; who, after having given
him a slight education, turned him to account
in his office.

At first Adolphe was little better than an
errand-boy; and spent more than half of
every day running to and from the Bourse.
All his early associations were with the
Bourse, therefore, and with Bourse men. He
had passed his youth in the midst of the
gamblers who fed upon the industry of the
poor; upon the honest investments of the
small capitalists. He had seen dozens of
companies formed under splendid auspices;
advertised upon whole pages of the morning
journals, sent up to extraordinary premiums,
to fall to annihilating discount. He had
seen men whom he met one day in dingy
attire, tricked out on the morrow by
Dusantoy, and dangling one of Verdier's
malaccas. He had, on the other hand,
watched young men of fortune slide from the
eminence of a Stanhope drawn by a pair of
blood-bays, to the cab at twenty-two sous the
course. He had brushed past pale-faced
men looking desperately calm; and on the
morrow he had heard that they lay in
the Morgue. He had watched wretched
women weeping in the bye-streets; and
had seen others dart furtively from the
office of their agent-de-change with a
roll of notes clutched in their greedy
fingers. To him, the Bourse was the world.
He grew up to know it alone as the arena
where a man might fight his way to wealth.
Like the people with whom he was in daily
contact, he even despised the men whom he
saw doing hard work for low wages. Why
starve at a counter, when a lucky dash might
any day make a bold pauper a millionnaire?
He had heard that his father died a broken-
hearted man, serving out demi-tasses to lazy
Arabs; but, all his father's old friends had
told him that Monsieur Beauvoir lost his
head in the excitement of the railway mania,
and speculated absurdly. One old manto
whom Monsieur Perrin sent him very often
with letters, or bills, or mysterious messages
had favoured him with painful details on his
father's short-comings as a financier. These
communications were, however, offered with
so many excuses, that Adolphe grew to like
the old story-teller, and to anticipate a gossip
with him on Bourse affairs with pleasure.

Poor young fellow! On all sides he was
gathering experience; on all sides he sought
advice. He had resolved at last, one morning
when there was a great rise in the
Rentes, and he had met three or four young
fellows who had realised from ten to twenty
thousand francs eachto give notice to
Monsieur Perrin that he should leave him
within a month. He would now act on his
own account; for he saw how each wheel
worked within the other in that complicated
Machine, The Bourse. Instead of making
fifteen hundred francs a-year, be would realise
a thousand francs a-month; he would be,
moreover, his own master.

Full of this resolution, he bent his way to
the office of the old man who had told him so
much about his father's affairs, just to ask
his advice, before giving Monsieur Perrin
notice. The old man was from home, and
four or five gentlemen were sitting in his
bureau waiting, in solemn silence. When
Adolphe asked the clerk when he expected
his employer back, a sneering laugh appeared