He was not as well-behaved as he pretended, having about that time taken a fancy to a little singer at the Bouffes; but he lived in such a desire, such an anxiety, for success, that all other appetites were bound to remain diminished and paralysed until he should feel himself triumphant, fortune's undisputed master.
'Bah!' Madame Caroline would answer, 'my brother has always been so staid that staidness is to him a natural condition, and not a merit, I wrote to him yesterday that I had[Pg 147] induced you not to re-gild the board-room. That will please him much more.'
It was about this time, one very cold afternoon in the early days of November, at the moment when Madame Caroline was giving the head painter an order to merely clean the paint in the board-room, that a servant brought her a card, saying that the person who had delivered it strongly insisted upon seeing her. The card, a dirty one, bore the name of Busch, coarsely printed. She did not know the name; still she gave orders for the person to be shown up to her brother's room, where she usually received.
If for six long months Busch had remained patient, and had not utilised the extraordinary discovery which he had made of Saccard's natural son, it was in the first place for the reasons that he had originally advanced—the comparatively trifling result that there would be in simply obtaining payment of the six hundred francs, which the notes given to the mother represented, and the extreme difficulty of blackmailing Saccard in order to obtain more, that is, a reasonable sum of a few thousand francs or so. A widower, free from all 'incumbrances,' and but little afraid of scandal—how could one terrorise him, how make him pay a stiff price for that ugly present, a natural child, who had grown up in the mud, and was fated possibly to become a brute and an assassin? La Méchain had certainly made out a long bill of expenses, about six thousand francs: first small sums lent to Rosalie Chavaille, her cousin, the little one's mother; then what the poor woman's sickness had cost her, her burial, the care of her grave, and finally what had been spent for Victor himself, since he had fallen to her charge, in the way of food, clothing, and a multitude of other things. But if Saccard should not prove an affectionate father, was it not likely that he would send them about their business? For there was nothing in the world to prove that he was the father except the resemblance between himself and the child; and at most they might merely get from him the amount represented by the notes, provided always that he did not contend that they were barred by the statute of limitation.
Another reason why Busch had delayed action so long was that he had just spent several weeks of frightful anxiety by the side of his brother Sigismond, who was in bed stretched low by consumption. For a fortnight especially, this terrible 'stirabout' had neglected everything, forgotten the thousand and one complicated skeins which he was unravelling, no more appearing at the Bourse, and no longer pursuing a single debtor—never indeed leaving the bedside of his patient, but watching over him, caring for him, and changing his linen like a mother. Becoming prodigal, he who was so stingy, he summoned the best doctors of Paris, and would have paid an enhanced price for drugs if by this means they could only have been rendered more efficacious; and, as the doctors had forbidden all work, and Sigismond in this respect was obstinate, he carefully hid all the young fellow's papers and books. A war of ruses was then carried on between them. As soon as his nurse, overcome by fatigue, fell asleep, the young man, drenched with perspiration and devoured by fever, would manage to find a bit of pencil, and on the margin of a newspaper would again begin making his calculations, distributing wealth according to his dream of justice, and assuring to one and all a due share of happiness and life. And Busch, on waking, was irritated to find him worse, and felt heartbroken at the thought that he thus bestowed on his chimera the little life that was left him. He allowed him to play with these stupid theories, as he called them, just as one allows a child to play with jumping-jacks, when he was in good health; but to kill himself with such mad, impracticable ideas, really it was imbecile! At last, however, having consented to be prudent through affection for his elder brother, Sigismond had recovered some strength and was beginning to get up.
Then it was that Busch, going back to his work, declared that it was time to settle the Saccard matter, especially as Saccard had re-entered the Bourse as a conqueror, and had again become a personage of indisputable solvency. The report which Busch had received from La Méchain, whom he had sent to the Rue Saint Lazare, was excellent. Nevertheless, he still hesitated to attack his man in front, and was delaying[Pg 149] matters in the hope of discovering some method by which he might conquer him, when a word dropped by La Méchain with regard to Madame Caroline, the lady who kept the house, and of whom all the shopkeepers in the neighbourhood had spoken to her, started him on a new plan of campaign. Was this lady perchance the real mistress, the one who held the keys of the cupboards and of the heart? He frequently obeyed what he called the stroke of inspiration, yielding to sudden divination, starting upon the chase with a mere indication due to his scent, and then collecting facts which would bring him certainty, and enable him to form a resolution. Thus it was that he betook himself to the Rue Saint Lazare to see Madame Caroline.
Upstairs in the work-room, she stopped short in surprise at sight of this stout, ill-shaven man, with a flat dirty face, greasy frock-coat, and white cravat. He, on the other hand, searched her very soul, finding her such as he desired her to be, so tall and healthy-looking, with her wonderful white hair, which, so to say, illumined her young face with gaiety and gentleness; and he was especially struck by the expression of her rather large mouth, such an expression of kindliness that he at once made up his mind.
Tips, opportunities to make money：How to make a novel to make money online?'Madame,' said he, 'I wished to see Monsieur Saccard, but they just told me he was not in.'
He lied; he had not even asked for Saccard, for he knew very well that he was not in, having watched his departure for the Bourse.
'And so,' he resumed, 'I ventured to apply to you, really preferring this, for I am not ignorant who it is that I address. It is a question of a communication so serious and so delicate——'
Tips, opportunities to make money：Software that makes a picture onlineMadame Caroline, who had so far not asked him to sit down, pointed out a chair with anxious alacrity.
'Speak, monsieur, I am listening.'
Carefully lifting the skirts of his coat, which he seemed to be afraid of soiling, Busch settled in his own mind that this woman must be Saccard's mistress.
'You see, madame,' said he, 'it is not an easy thing to[Pg 150] say, and I confess to you that at the last moment I ask myself if I really ought to confide such a matter to you. I hope that you will see in the step I am taking nothing but a desire to enable Monsieur Saccard to repair old wrongs.'
With a gesture she put him at his ease, having, in her turn, understood with what sort of personage she had to deal, and desiring to curtail all useless protests. For the rest, he did not insist, but began to tell the old story in great detail—the seduction of Rosalie in the Rue de la Harpe, the birth of a child after Saccard's disappearance, the death of the mother in poverty and debauchery, and the fate of Victor left in the charge of a cousin too busy to watch him, and growing up in the midst of abomination. She listened to him, astonished at first by this romance which she had not expected, for she had imagined that it was a question of some shady financial transaction; and afterwards she visibly softened, moved by the mother's sad fate and the abandonment of the child, deeply stirred in the maternal instinct which was so strong within her, childless though she was.