Oscar departed with the full intention of distinguishing himself in this little skirmish, the first affair entrusted to him since his installation as second clerk. After the departure of Georges and Oscar, Godeschal sounded the new clerk to discover the joke which, as he thought, lay behind this Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos.

They reserved all points as to the Spanish lady, intending to judge her without appeal after the meeting. The Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos was neither more nor less than Mademoiselle Agathe-Florentine Cabirolle, first danseuse at the Gaiete, with whom uncle Cardot was in the habit of singing "Mere Godichon."

"Well, well," he said, "my cousin and I are rich, and we'll give you a fete such as you never had before, something to stimulate your imaginations for that register. Afterwards, I'll take you to spend the evening with Madame la Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos, where we shall play cards, and you'll see the elite of the women of fashion.

A young man as handsome and attractive as Georges might very well aspire to the hand of a rich creole; and the clerks in Desroches' office, all of them the sons of poor parents, having never frequented the great world, or, indeed, known anything about it, put themselves into their best clothes on the following day, impatient enough to behold, and be presented to the Mexican Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos.

The remaining ten, all as drunk as Pitt and Dundas, talked of going on foot along the boulevards, considering the fine evening, to the house of the Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos, where, about midnight, they might expect to find the most brilliant society of Paris.

The richest "bibelots" and curiosities danced before the eyes of the new-comers. At first, and in the state to which Georges had brought them, the clerks, and more particularly Oscar, believed in the Marquise de las Florentinas y Cabirolos. Gold glittered on four card-tables in the bed-chamber. In the salon, the women were playing at vingt-et-un, kept by Nathan, the celebrated author.