"The architect in whose office M. Chapelain helped me to find a place."
With a threatening gesture, M. Favoral interrupted him.
"Spare me your lies," he uttered. "I am better posted than you suppose. I know, that, over a month ago, your employer, tired of your idleness, dismissed you in disgrace."
Disgrace was superfluous. The fact was, that Maxence, returning to work after an absence of five days, had found another in his place.
"I shall find another place," he said.
M. Favoral shrugged his shoulders with a movement of rage.
"And in the mean time," he said, "I shall have to pay. Do you know what your creditors threaten to do? - to commence a suit against me. They would lose it, of course, they know it; but they hope that I would yield before a scandal. And this is not all: they talk of entering a criminal complaint. They pretend that you have audaciously swindled them; that the articles you purchased of them were not at all for your own use, but that you sold them as fast as you got them, at any price you could obtain, to raise ready money. The jeweler has proofs, he says, that you went straight from his shop to the pawnbroker's, and pledged a watch and chain which he had just sold you. It is a police matter. They said all that in presence of my superior officer - in presence of M. de Thaller. I had to get the janitor to put them out. But, after they had left, M. de Thaller gave me to understand that he wished me very much to settle everything. And he is right. My consideration could not resist another such scene. What confidence can be placed in a cashier whose son behaves in this manner? How can a key of a safe containing millions be left with a man whose son would have been dragged into the police-courts? In a word, I am at your mercy. In a word, my honor, my position, my fortune, rest upon you. As often as it may please you to make debts, you can make them, and I shall be compelled to pay."
"You have been sometimes very harsh with me, father," commenced Maxence; "and yet I will not try to justify my conduct. I swear to you, that hereafter you shall have nothing to fear from me."