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perils past, his promotion gained, his old father comforted and relieved in his necessity, and his intended bride visited and won to name the nuptial day; envy and malice are depicted at their baleful work, the ingenuous young sailor is involved in a false accusation, and consigned to hopeless captivity as a state prisoner. We are soon introduced to the "small cabinet of the Tuileries," and Louis the XVIII. is placed before us almost as distinctly as the lion-hearted Richard appears in Ivanhoe, or the crafty and cruel Louis the XI. in Quentin Durward. The first of the restored Bourbons was not a man calculated to win attention as a character; much had been done for him, nothing had been done by him, he was cunning but not sagacious, pedantic but not learned, confident but not courageous, fearful but not cautious, and we have all these points fully pourtrayed by Dumas, in his description of the scene which terminated by the announcement of Napoleon's return from Elba. It is not our intention to go farther with the narrative, we notice its early pages as justifying our previous remarks, and we now proceed to give the real story on which the remainder of the work is founded.
There lived at Paris in 1807, a shoemaker. of the description called chamber masters, named Francois Picaud, he was young, tolerably well-looking, and was on the point of effect. ing a matrimonial union with an agreeable, lively damsel, who possessed a very handsome dowry. Full of the excitement consequent on his expected good fortune, and arrayed in his best attire, he betook himself to a café kept by an acquaintance of his own rank and age, but who was more wealthy than the shoemaker, and was remarkable for an extraordinary jealousy of any neighbour who appeared to be thriving, or even likely to prosper.
Mathieu Loupian, who had as well as Picaud, been born at Nismes, kept a well frequented house of refreshment near the place Sainte Opportune. He was a widower having two children, and three persons all from the department of Gard, were peculiarly intimate with him.
"What now," said the host, "ch! Picaud, but you are stylish, one would imagine that you were about to dance las treilhas," (a popular ballet much practised in lower Languedoc.)
I am on a better project, my friend Loupian, I am about to marry."
"And whom have you selected to plant your horns," demanded one of the company named Allut.
"Not the second daughter of your mother-in-law, for in that family they manage inatters so awkwardly that your antlers are breaking through your hat."
It required only a look to perceive a large rent in the old felt hat of Allut, so the laugh was on the side of the son of Crispin.
"But jesting apart," said the host," who is your intended, Picaud?"
"The damsel de Vigoroux."
"But she has one hundred thousand francs," exclaimed the astonished host.
"I shall pay her for them in love and happiness, so friends I invite you to the ceremony which is to be performed at Saint Leu, and to the dance which we are to have in the evening, it is to be a bal champetre in les bosquets de Venus, rue aux Ours, at M. Latignac's, the fifth house, and in the gardens at its rere."
The four friends could scarcely reply in some common-place phrases, so much did the good fortune of their comrade surprize them.
"And when is the wedding?" asked Loupian.
"Next Tuesday, I shall expect you, I am now going to the Mayor and the Curé."
He departed, they looked at each other.
"What a lucky rascal !"
He is a sorcerer."
"A girl so handsome and so rich."
And to a cobbler.”
And in three days.”
I will wager that I stop his progress," said Loupian. "What are you about ?”
"Oh, just a joke."
"It is an excellent joke, the commissary is just coming here, I shall say that I suspect Picaud to be an agent of the English; you understand, he will be summoned and examined, he will be frightened at his position, and for at least eight days, the marriage will have to wait."
"Loupian," said Allut, "your's is a dangerous game, you do not know Picaud thoroughly, he is capable, if he finds you out, of a fearful revenge."
"Bah!" cried the other, "we must have some diversion in carnival time."
"Just as you please, but I warn you that I take no part in your project, every one to his taste."
"Oh!" replied the proprietor of the café, "you are but a dung-hill cock."
"I am an honest man, you are jealous and envious of your neighbour, I shall live quietly, you will come to a bad endgood night."
As soon as he turned on his heel, the trio took courage to persevere in their amusing trick, and Loupian, with whom it originated, promised his two friends a hearty laugh. The same day, the commissary to whom Loupian whispered his suspicions, discharged his duty as a vigilant functionary, and two hours had not elapsed before an elaborate report was laid before his superior, and ultimately came under the observation of the Duc de Rovigo. It coincided with some revelations which he had received touching movements in la Vendee. Beyond all doubt, Picaud was an agent between the south and west, his trade perhaps, was only a device, and he was likely to be a gentleman of Languedoc, in short, during the night of Sunday, the unfortunate Picaud was taken from his apartment, with such mystery that no one saw him depart, and from that day, every trace of him was totally lost, his kindred or friends could obtain no explanation of his fate, and his very existence was soon forgotten.
Time elapses, 1814 arrives, the Imperial government falls, and from the castle of Fenestrelle there issues about the 15th April, a man bent down by suffering, old by the effect of despair rather than by the hand of time. In seven years he appeared to have lived half a century, no one would have recognized him, and he could not recognize himself when he first looked in a mirror at a petty inn of the village of Fenestrelle.
This man who, in his prison, answered to the name of Joseph Lucher, was less a domestic than an adopted son of a rich Milanese ecclesiastic. The latter, indignant at the total abandonment of him by his relatives, determined to exclude them from any participation in his enormous wealth, consoli
dated in the public securities of Hamburgh, and the Bank of England. He had moreover sold extensive domains to an exalted personage of Italy, and realized the produce through the agency of a banker of Amsterdam, who remitted the dividends to his order. This noble Italian died the 4th January 1814, leaving the poor Joseph Lucher sole heir to about seven millions of franes in ready money, having also confided to him the secret of a concealed treasure, worth twelve hundred thousand francs, in diamonds, and at least three millions in coined money, ducats, florins, doubloons, louis, and guineas.
Joseph Lucher freed at length, hastened to Milan, and uniting prudence with promptitude, in a short time acquired the property which he came to seek. He then visited Amsterdam, Hamburgh, and London, and amassed treasures worthy of Royal coffers, yielding him a revenue of six hundred. thousand francs, exclusive of his diamonds and one million reserved for present use. His property was vested in the funds of England, Holland, and France.
Having made such arrangements he set out for Paris, where he arrived the 15th February 1815, eight years to the very day after the hapless Picaud had disappeared. He should now be about thirty-four years of age. Joseph Lucher was attacked by a severe illness the day after his arrival, and being without attendance, even of a valet, he had himself conveyed to a manison de sante. At the return of Napoleon, Lucher was still unwell, and his sickness continued as long as the emperor remained in France, but as soon as the second restoration appeared finally to consolidate the Bourbon dynasty, the inmate of the maison de santè quitted his sick bed and took up his residence in the quarter Sainte Opportune, where he speedily acquired some interesting information.
In February 1807, there had been great excitement in the neighbourhood, consequent on the disappearance of a young shoemaker, an honest man who was on the point of marriage with a very wealthy girl. Some hoax concocted by three friends had destroyed his brilliant prospects, the poor fellow had either fled or been carried off. No one knew what had become of him. His intended spent two years in deep affliction, but then, convinced that her sorrow was unavailing, she married the coffee-house keeper Loupian, who by such an union having acquired large property, possessed the most magni
ficent and best frequented house amongst the cafés of Paris. Joseph Lucher received this information with seeming indifference, he just ventured an inquiry as to the names of those whose tricks had occasioned the misfortunes of Picaud-their names had been forgotten.
"Nevertheless," added one of those to whom the inquiry was addressed, "I have heard one Antoine Allut declare that he knew the parties of whom we are speaking."
"I was acquainted with a man named Allut in Italy; he was from Nismes."
"The person I mean is also a native of that place."
"This Allut lent me one hundred crowns which he told me to repay at my convenience to his cousin Antoine."
"Well you may remit the money to him at Nismes, for he has retired to his native town."
Next day a post chaise preceded by a courier who paid like a prince, flew rather than rolled along the road to Lyons, From Lyons the carriage followed the course of the Rhone by the Marseilles road which it quitted at the bridge of St. Esprit. There an Italian abbé alighted for the first time, from the commencement of the journey.
He took another carriage and proceeded to Nismes, to the well known Hotel du Luxembourg. He at once instituted inquiries as to what had become of Antoine Allut. This name, rather common in that country, is borne by several families, differing in rank, fortune, and religion. Some time elapsed before the individual required by the abbé Baldini, was discovered, and some days were necessary to establish an intimate communication with Antoine Allut. But these preliminaries having been adjusted, the abbé detailed to Allut, that whilst a state prisoner in the castle de l'Oeuf, in Naples, he had formed an acquaintance with a worthy friend, whose death in 1811, had caused him great affliction.
"At that time," said he, "my friend was a man of thirty years, he expired deploring his absence from his native land, but pardoning those who had caused his misfortunes, he was a native of Nismes, named Pierre Picaud."
Allut uttered a cry, the abbé regarded him with an astonished look.
"You knew this Picaud yourself?" he said to Allut.
"He was one of my best friends-he has died far awaypoor fellow but have you been informed of the cause of his arrest ?"