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The fourth side looks on a courtyard which separates the Soudrys from the adjoining house occupied by a grocer named Wattebled, a man of the SECOND-CLASS society of Soulanges, father of the beautiful Madame Plissoud, of whom we shall presently have occasion to speak. All little towns have a renowned beauty, just as they have a Socquard and a Cafe de la Paix.

At the carnival the leading society of Soulanges went in a body to four balls given by Gaubertin, Gendrin, Leclercq, and Soudry, junior. Every Sunday the latter, his wife, Monsieur, Madame, and Mademoiselle Elise Gaubertin dined with the Soudrys at Soulanges.

Mark my words, when that affair happens, my children, the Soudrys, the Gaubertins, the Rigous, will make you kick your heels in the air. 'I've the good tobacco, it never shall be thine, that's the national air of the rich man, hey? The peasant will always be the peasant. The middle classes and the government, they are all one. What would become of them if everybody was rich?

The united fortunes of the Soudrys and the ex-monk, which would come eventually to the attorney, made that young man one of the most important personages of the department.

All the general's inquiries were cleverly anticipated by the Soudrys, Gaubertin, and Lupin, who quietly obtained for their candidate the influence of the leading lawyers in the capital of the department, where a royal court held sessions, such as Counsellor Gendrin, a distant relative of the judge at Ville-aux-Fayes; Baron Bourlac, attorney-general; and another counsellor named Sarcus, a cousin thrice removed of the candidate.

At his first words, "The general and I have parted; whom can we put in my place without his suspecting it?" the Soudrys understood their friend's wishes. Do not forget that Soudry, for the last seventeen years chief of police of the canton, was doubly shrewd through his wife, an adept in the particular wiliness of a waiting-maid of an Opera divinity.

The count and countess did not appear at the fair nor at the Tivoli fete; and that, again, was counted a wrong by the Soudrys, the Gaubertins, and their adherents; it was pride, it was disdain, said the Soudry salon.

Too self-indulgent to be at the trouble of driving over to the Soudrys' merely to hear the vapid talk of its visitors and to see a Parisian monkey in the guise of an old woman, Rigou, far superior in intelligence and education to this petty society, never made his appearance unless business brought him over to meet the notary.

If we turn to the other end of the valley of the Avonne we shall see that Gaubertin ruled at Soulanges through the Soudrys, through Lupin the assistant mayor and steward of the Soulanges estate, who was necessarily in constant communication with the Comte de Soulanges, through Sarcus, justice of the peace, through Guerbet, the collector, through Gourdon, the doctor, who had married a Gendrin-Vatebled.

Under these circumstances the letter which Madame Soudry hastily dispatched brought Sibilet to Soulanges through a region of castles in the air. His father-in-law, Sarcus, whom the Soudrys advised to take steps in the interest of his daughter, had gone in the morning to see the general and to propose Adolphe for the vacant post.