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My family, which is one of the oldest of Brittany, is allied to allthe great families.""Perfectly exact," remarked the old gentleman.

"Unfortunately, my fortune is not on a par with my nobility. Whenmy mother died, in 1856, my father, who worshiped her, could nolonger bear, in the intensity of his grief, to remain at the Chateaude Tregars where he had spent his whole life. He came to Paris,which he could well afford, since we were rich then, butunfortunately, made acquaintances who soon inoculated him with thefever of the age. They proved to him that he was mad to keep landswhich barely yielded him forty thousand francs a year, and which hecould easily sell for two millions; which amount, invested merelyat five per cent, would yield him an income of one hundred thousandfrancs. He therefore sold every thing, except our patrimonialhomestead on the road from Quimper to Audierne, and rushed intospeculations. He was rather lucky at first. But he was too honestand too loyal to be lucky long. An operation in which he becameinterested early in 1869 turned out badly. His associates becamerich; but he, I know not how, was ruined, and came near beingcompromised. He died of grief a month later."The old soldier was nodding his assent.

"Very well, my boy," he said. "But you are too modest; and there'sa circumstance which you neglect. You had a right, when your fatherbecame involved in these troubles, to claim and retain your mother'sfortune; that is, some thirty thousand francs a year. Not only youdid not do so; but you gave up every thing to his creditors. Yousold the domain of Tregars, except the old castle and its park, andpaid over the proceeds to them; so that, if your father did dieruined, at least he did not owe a cent. And yet you knew, as wellas myself, that your father had been deceived and swindled by a lotof scoundrels who drive their carriages now, and who, perhaps, ifthe courts were applied to, might still be made to disgorge theirill-gotten plunder."Her head bent upon her tapestry, Mlle. Gilberte seemed to be workingwith incomparable zeal. The truth is, she knew not how to concealthe blushes on her cheeks, and the trembling of her hands. She hadsomething like a cloud before her eyes; and she drove her needle atrandom. She scarcely preserved enough presence of mind to reply toMme. Favoral, who, not noticing any thing, spoke to her from time totime.

Indeed, the meaning of this scene was too clear to escape her.

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"They have had an understanding," she thought, "and it is for mealone that they are speaking."Meantime, Marius de Tregars was going on:

"I should lie, my old friend, were I to say that I was indifferentto our ruin. Philosopher though one may be, it is not without somepangs that one passes from a sumptuous hotel to a gloomy garret.

But what grieved me most of all was that I saw myself compelledto give up the labors which had been the joy of my life, and uponwhich I had founded the most magnificent hopes. A positive vocation,stimulated further by the accidents of my education, had led me tothe study of physical sciences. For several years, I had applied allI have of intelligence and energy to certain investigations inelectricity. To convert electricity into an incomparablemotive-power which would supersede steam, - such was the object Ipursued without pause. Already, as you know, although quite young,I had obtained results which had attracted some attention in thescientific world. I thought I could see the last of a problem, thesolution of which would change the face of the globe. Ruin was thedeath of my hopes, the total loss of the fruits of my labors; formy experiments were costly, and it required money, much money, topurchase the products which were indispensable to me, and toconstruct the machines which I contrived.

"And I was about being compelled to earn my daily bread.

"I was on the verge of despair, when I met a man whom I had formerlyseen at my father's, and who had seemed to take some interest in myresearches, a speculator named Marcolet. But it is not at the boursethat he operates. Industry is the field of his labors. Ever on thelookout for those obstinate inventors who are starving to death intheir garrets, he appears to them at the hour of supreme crisis: hepities them, encourages them, consoles them, helps them, and almostalways succeeds in becoming the owner of their discovery. Sometimeshe makes a mistake; and then all he has to do is to put a fewthousand francs to the debit of profit or loss. But, if he hasjudged right, then he counts his profits by hundreds of thousands;and how many patents does he work thus! Of how many inventions doeshe reap the results which are a fortune, and the inventors ofwhich have no shoes to wear! Every thing is good to him; and hedefends with the same avidity a cough - sirup, the formula ofwhich he has purchased of some poor devil of a druggist, and animprovement to the steam-engine, the patent for which has been soldto him by an engineer of genius. And yet Marcolet is not a bad man.

Seeing my situation, he offered me a certain yearly sum to undertakesome studies of industrial chemistry which he indicated to me. Iaccepted; and the very next day I hired a small basement in the Ruedes Tournelles, where I set up my laboratory, and went to work atonce. That was a year ago. Marcolet must be satisfied. I havealready found for him a new shade for dyeing silk, the cost priceof which is almost nothing. As to me, I have lived with thestrictest economy, devoting all my surplus earnings to theprosecution of the problem, the solution of which would give meboth glory and fortune."Palpitating with inexpressible emotion, Mlle. Gilberte was listeningto this young man, unknown to her a few moments since, and whosewhole history she now knew as well as if she had always lived nearhim; for it never occurred to her to suspect his sincerity.

No voice had ever vibrated to her ear like this voice, whose gravesonorousness stirred within her strange sensations, and legions ofthoughts which she had never suspected. She was surprised at theaccent of simplicity with which he spoke of the illustriousness ofhis family, of his past opulence, of his obscure labors, and of hisexalted hopes.

She admired the superb disregard for money which beamed forth in hisevery word. Here was then one man, at least, who despised thatmoney before which she had hitherto seen all the people she knewprostrated in abject worship.

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After a pause of a few moments, Marius de Tregars, still addressinghimself apparently to his aged companion, went on:

"I repeat it, because it is the truth, my old friend, this life oflabor and privation, so new to me, was not a burden. Calm, silence,the constant exercise of all the faculties of the intellect, havecharms which the vulgar can never suspect. I was happy to think,that, if I was ruined, it was through an act of my own will. I founda positive pleasure in the fact that I, the Marquis de Tregars, whohad had a hundred thousand a year - I must the next moment go out inperson to the baker's and the green-grocer's to purchase my suppliesfor the day. I was proud to think that it was to my labor alone, tothe work for which I was paid by Marcolet, that I owed the means ofprosecuting my task. And, from the summits where I was carried onthe wings of science, I took pity on your modern existence, on thatridiculous and tragical medley of passions, interests, and cravings;that struggle without truce or mercy, whose law is, woe to the weak,in which whosoever falls is trampled under feet.