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“ Yes, sir, I wish to do so; and I have already saved something towards it, but still it will take a whole year yet before I can make up that sum; but never mind. Ah dear! how happy must rich people be!"
“Do you think so, Seppi ? But it is not as you think, Seppi; for there are very rich people, who drive about in splendid carriages, who are anything but happy; for there are too many among them to whose wealth the sighs and curses of the unfortunate adhere, and too many pass every moment of their life in dread of death: such, therefore, Seppi, we cannot fancy ever enjoy happiness. True and perfect happiness, my good boy, consists in not wishing otherwise than as is the will of God; because He, in His supreme wisdom, guides us over the best paths. If it be his will that we should remain poor, we ought to bear this poverty with resignation, and not desire anything beyond: and if, on the other hand, it be His desire that we should obtain riches, we should, in all humility and gratitude, employ them to the honour of the Heavenly Giver.”
“Ah, yes, dear Monsieur Dumenil, I wish to be contented too; only I could not help thinking of my poor mother, and wishing I could only once send her a good sum. Oh, that would be so delightful, you know, Monsieur Dumenil!”
“ If it be the will of God, Seppi, then be assured He will give you the means of putting your affectionate object into force; for He will bring you into a situation, where you may be enabled to make a more profitable use of your time."
“At any rate,” exclaimed the lad, with pleasure, “I know how to read and write, Monsieur Dumenil; I have learnt that already.”
Monsieur Dumenil's foot now got better every day, so that at length he was enabled to walk about again. Meanwhile, Madame Rivage's curiosity respecting his means of living, and so forth, had not as yet been satisfied, in spite of the continual questions she put to Seppi. One day, in order to try him once more, she sent him for some pies, and then used every effort to induce him to tell her: but all in vain. “Well, well,” said she, in her vexation, and trying to detain him still longer, "you must run and get me this franc piece changed, else I cannot pay you."
“Oh, I have got some money, and can give you change now, at once," said the innocent Seppi, as he drew forth his little treasure.
The old beldam opened her eyes when she saw this, and exclaimed: “Indeed! if you are so rich, then, pray what wages does your master give you ?”.
At this the poor boy's face turned quite red, and he answered, hesitatingly, “ Nothing, madame; these are little presents which I have received.”
“So, so," said Madame Rivage, when Seppi had retired; “now I have you in my power, you little obstinate urchin ; and that Monsieur Dumenil, too, of whom you are so fond, I'll set him against the pastry, for no more shall you take him:”—and she kept her word.
She no sooner met her fellow lodger, who was just going out, than she very graciously accosted him, and said : “My excellent Monsieur Dumenil, I have felt very much for you; and then, too, you have eaten pastry every day."
“How?" asked Dumenil, quite astonished; “ I really do n't understand you : what has your pity to do with the pastry ?"
“Oh, why?" said she, in an undertone, “I will tell you quickly. You know, perhaps, that there are people in Paris, whose sole business consists in stealing cats: well, it is such cats as our pastrycook here buys, kills, and makes his pies of; and—but of course I need not tell you any more. But is it not horrible to think of? It is true, I assure you; I have it from the best authority: pray, therefore, eat no more of those pies, good Monsieur Dumenil.”
“Is it possible !” exclaimed Monsieur Dumenil, in seeming indignation. “Well, I'll bring the man to book for this directly: he shall certainly not go unpunished.”
But Madame Rivage, in alarm, held him back: “Stop, stop," she cried; "you surely will not betray me? Remember, for Heaven's sake, it is told you in confidence it is a secret."
“Why, madame," replied Monsieur Dumenil, gravely, "you must either know it for certain, in which case it is your duty to bring such dishonesty to light, that it may be punished ; or, if it is merely supposition, you are acting extremely bad in spreading a report which must seriously injure this man.”
“Well, well,” rejoined Madame Rivage, mortified; “I see very clearly my sympathy and candour will be ill repaid. Do as you like, sir; tell it, or tell it not; I care little about it; only that, if you are foolish enough to repeat what I have told you to the man, I shall take good care to deny it! I am sure I do n't want to get myself into any scrape; for, thank Heaven! I live in peace and good will. I know what I live upon; whilst other folks, who eat pastry- Adieu, Monsieur Dumenil, adieu !"
Feeling rather uneasy in her mind, lest Monsieur Dumenil should really inform the baker of what she had stated, the
malicious woman thought she had better be beforehand with him ; and, therefore, at once hastened to the man, and insinuated that Monsier Dumenil had expressed himself very disparagingly about his pies: “ In fact,” added she, “ he said,
one could not at all tell what was in them, the taste was so very peculiar.""
“Indeed! Well," exclaimed the enraged, but rather confused pieman," he had better not say that in my hearing! My pies, indeed! which are as good as any possibly can be !”
“Well, well, my good man,” said Madame Rivage, “never mind what such a person says about you — a person, about whom nothing is known as to how he exists from one day to the other. But never mind, it's not over yet; much may still come to light about that man. By-the-bye, I want to tell you something else ; what was it?-Oh, ay, your little Savoyard boy! I suppose you hold him to be a very honest lad ?"
“Why, yes, madame, the fellow is honest, although now-adays we ought to trust nobody, and, least of all, a wandering Savoyard, whom God has thrown upon the world to steal.”
“Well, I am glad you are satisfied with him. But only think, this very day I saw him with a purse full of money in his possession ?”
“What! A purse full of money? You are joking, madame.”
“Not I, indeed, for I never joke. You only ask him upon his oath, and he can't deny it. I say, a purse full of money."
“ Then I am sure he has been robbing me,” exclaimed the pastrycook, whose faith in Seppi's honesty all at once vanished. “So, so; I'll make him feel it! To rob me! I, who gave him clothing and food! ah, if you only knew, madame, what I have