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"Gentlemen," said Dutocq, returning to the clerks' office and addressing his colleagues. "I don't know if Bixiou has the art of looking into futurity, but if you have not read the ministerial journal I advise you to study the article about Baudoyer; then, as Monsieur Fleury takes the opposition sheet, you can see the reply.

"I assure you, my good Madame Nourrisson," said Bixiou, "that we only wanted the pleasure of making your acquaintance, and we should like very much to be informed as to how you ever came to slip into this business." "I was confidential maid in the family of a marshal of France, Prince d'Ysembourg," she said, assuming the airs of a Dorine.

Joseph flung away the letter, but Bixiou caught it in the air, and read it aloud, as follows: Is it decent that the Comtesse Bridau de Brambourg should die in a hospital, no matter what may have been her faults?

There was another pause, during which Lousteau turned away, took out his handkerchief, and seemed to wipe away a tear. "How much do you want, Etienne," she went on in motherly tones. "We are at this moment old comrades; speak to me as you would to to Bixiou." "To save my furniture from vanishing into thin air to-morrow morning at the auction mart, eighteen hundred francs!

About ten o'clock, in the bureau Baudoyer, Bixiou was relating the last moments of the life of the director to Minard, Desroys, Monsieur Godard, whom he had called from his private office, and Dutocq, who had rushed in with private motives of his own. Colleville and Chazelle were absent.

"Ah! monsieur, the doctor from the Sisters' hospital came; but as to the disease," said Madame Gruget, assuming a modest air, "he told me she must go to the hospital. The case is hopeless." "Let us go and see her," said Bixiou. "Here," said Joseph to the woman, "take these ten francs."

The dinner, on the whole, was dull; Bixiou, at Madame de Saint-Esteve's request, had warned the party to risk nothing that might offend the chaste ears of the pious Italian.

"I have promised our guests that we will sit at table till the evening. There will be Bixiou, your old official chum du Tillet, Lousteau, Vernisset, Leon de Lora, Vernou, all the wittiest men in Paris, who will not know that we are married. We will play them a little trick, we will get just a little tipsy, and Lisbeth must join us.

Grown big and stout and high-colored with good cheer and prosperity, Gaudissart made no disguise of his transformation into a Mondor. "We are turning into a city-father," he once said, trying to be the first to laugh. "You are only in the Turcaret stage yet, though," retorted Bixiou, who often replaced Gaudissart in the company of the leading lady of the ballet, the celebrated Heloise Brisetout.

He knew the science of writing quite as well as Vimeux. At the office he kept in the background, doing his allotted task with the collected air of a man who thinks and suffers. His white eyelashes and lack of eyebrows induced the relentless Bixiou to name him "the white rabbit."

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