The elections of 1830 united into an active body the various Minoret
relations,--Desire and Goupil having formed a committee in Nemours by
whose efforts a liberal candidate was put in nomination at
Fontainebleau. Massin, as collector of taxes, exercised an enormous
influence over the country electors. Five of the post master's farmers
were electors. Dionis represented eleven votes. After a few meetings
at the notary's, Cremiere, Massin, the post master, and their
adherents took a habit of assembling there. By the time the doctor
returned, Dionis's office and salon were the camp of his heirs. The
justice of peace and the mayor, who had formed an alliance, backed by
the nobility in the neighbouring castles, to resist the liberals of
Nemours, now worsted in their efforts, were more closely united than
ever by their defeat.
By the time Bongrand and the Abbe Chaperon were able to tell the
doctor by word of mouth the result of the antagonism, which was
defined for the first time, between the two classes in Nemours (giving
incidentally such importance to his heirs) Charles X. had left
Rambouillet for Cherbourg. Desire Minoret, whose opinions were those
of the Paris bar, sent for fifteen of his friends, commanded by Goupil
and mounted on horses from his father's stable, who arrived in Paris
on the night of the 28th. With this troop Goupil and Desire took part
in the capture of the Hotel-de-Veille. Desire was decorated with the
Legion of honor and appointed deputy procureur du roi at
Fontainebleau. Goupil received the July cross. Dionis was elected
mayor of Nemours, and the city council was composed of the post master
(now assistant-mayor), Massin, Cremiere, and all the adherents of the
family faction. Bongrand retained his place only through the influence
of his son, procureur du roi at Melun, whose marriage with
Mademoiselle Levrault was then on the tapis.
Seeing the three-per-cents quoted at forty-five, the doctor started by
post for Paris, and invested five hundred and forty thousand francs
in shares to bearer. The rest of his fortune which amounted to about
two hundred and seventy thousand francs, standing in his own name in
the same funds, gave him ostensibly an income of fifteen thousand
francs a year. He made the same disposition of Ursula's little capital
bequeathed to her by de Jordy, together with the accrued interest
thereon, which gave her about fourteen hundred francs a year in her
own right. La Bougival, who had laid by some five thousand francs of
her savings, did the same by the doctor's advice, receiving in future
three hundred and fifty francs a year in dividends. These judicious
transactions, agreed on between the doctor and Monsieur Bongrand, were
carried out in perfect secrecy, thanks to the political troubles of
When quiet was again restored the doctor bought the little house which
adjoined his own and pulled it down so as to build a coach-house and
stables on its side. To employ a capital which would have given him a
thousand francs a year on outbuildings seemed actual folly to the
Minoret heirs. This folly, if it were one, was the beginning of a new
era in the doctor's existence, for he now (at a period when horses and
carriages were almost given away) brought back from Paris three fine
horses and a caleche.
When, in the early part of November, 1830, the old man came to church
on a rainy day in the new carriage, and gave his hand to Ursula to
help her out, all the inhabitants flocked to the square,--as much to
see the caleche and question the coachman, as to criticize the
goddaughter, to whose excessive pride and ambition Massin, Cremiere,
the post master, and their wives attributed this extravagant folly of
the old man.
"A caleche! Hey, Massin!" cried Goupil. "Your inheritance will go at
top speed now!"
"You ought to be getting good wages, Cabirolle," said the post master
to the son of one of his conductors, who stood by the horses; "for it
is to be supposed an old man of eighty-four won't use up many horse-
shoes. What did those horses cost?"
"Four thousand francs. The caleche, though second-hand, was two
thousand; but it's a fine one, the wheels are patent."
"Yes, it's a good carriage," said Cremiere; "and a man must be rich to
buy that style of thing."
"Ursula means to go at a good pace," said Goupil. "She's right; she's
showing you how to enjoy life. Why don't you have fine carriages and
horses, papa Minoret? I wouldn't let myself be humiliated if I were
you--I'd buy a carriage fit for a prince."
"Come, Cabirolle, tell us," said Massin, "is it the girl who drives
our uncle into such luxury?"
"I don't know," said Cabirolle; "but she is almost mistress of the
house. There are masters upon masters down from Paris. They say now
she is going to study painting."
"Then I shall seize the occasion to have my portrait drawn," said
In the provinces they always say a picture is drawn, not painted.
"The old German is not dismissed, is he?" said Madame Massin.
"He was there yesterday," replied Cabirolle.
"Now," said Goupil, "you may as well give up counting on your
inheritance. Ursula is seventeen years old, and she is prettier than
ever. Travel forms young people, and the little minx has got your
uncle in the toils. Five or six parcels come down for her by the
diligence every week, and the dressmakers and milliners come too, to
try on her gowns and all the rest of it. Madame Dionis is furious.
Watch for Ursula as she comes out of church and look at the little
scarf she is wearing round her neck,--real cashmere, and it cost six
If a thunderbolt had fallen in the midst of the heirs the effect would
have been less than that of Goupil's last words; the mischief-maker
stood by rubbing his hands.
The doctor's old green salon had been renovated by a Parisian
upholsterer. Judged by the luxury displayed, he was sometimes accused
of hoarding immense wealth, sometimes of spending his capital on
Ursula. The heirs called him in turn a miser and a spendthrift, but
the saying, "He's an old fool!" summed upon, on the whole, the verdict
of the neighbourhood. These mistaken judgments of the little town had
the one advantage of misleading the heirs, who never suspected the
love between Savinien and Ursula, which was the secret reason of the
doctor's expenditure. The old man took the greatest delights in
accustoming his godchild to her future station in the world.
Possessing an income of over fifty thousand francs a year, it gave him
pleasure to adorn his idol.
In the month of February, 1832, the day when Ursula was eighteen, her
eyes beheld Savinien in the uniform of an ensign as she looked from
her window when she rose in the morning.
"Why didn't I know he was coming?" she said to herself.
After the taking of Algiers, Savinien had distinguished himself by an
act of courage which won him the cross. The corvette on which he was
serving was many months at sea without his being able to communicate
with the doctor; and he did not wish to leave the service without
consulting him. Desirous of retaining in the navy a name already
illustrious in its service, the new government had profited by a
general change of officers to make Savinien an ensign. Having obtained
leave of absence for fifteen days, the new officer arrived from Toulon
by the mail, in time for Ursula's fete, intending to consult the
doctor at the same time.
"He has come!" cried Ursula rushing into her godfather's bedroom.
"Very good," he answered; "I can guess what brings him, and he may now
stay in Nemours."
"Ah! that's my birthday present--it is all in that sentence," she
said, kissing him.
On a sign, which she ran up to make from her window, Savinien came
over at once; she longed to admire him, for he seemed to her so
changed for the better. Military service does, in fact, give a certain
grave decision to the air and carriage and gestures of a man, and an
erect bearing which enables the most superficial observer to recognize
a military man even in plain clothes. The habit of command produces
this result. Ursula loved Savinien the better for it, and took a
childlike pleasure in walking round the garden with him, taking his
arm, and hearing him relate the part he played (as midshipman) in the
taking of Algiers. Evidently Savinien had taken the city. The doctor,
who had been watching them from his window as he dressed, soon came
down. Without telling the viscount everything, he did say that, in
case Madame de Portenduere consented to his marriage with Ursula, the
fortune of his godchild would make his naval pay superfluous.
"Alas!" said Savinien. "It will take a great deal of time to overcome
my mother's opposition. Before I left her to enter the navy she was
placed between two alternatives,--either to consent to my marrying
Ursula or else to see me only from time to time and to know me exposed
to the dangers of the profession; and you see she chose to let me go."
"But, Savinien, we shall be together," said Ursula, taking his hand
and shaking it with a sort of impatience.
To see each other and not to part,--that was the all of love to her;
she saw nothing beyond it; and her pretty gesture and the petulant
tone of her voice expressed such innocence that Savinien and the
doctor were both moved by it. The resignation was written and
despatched, and Ursula's fete received full glory from the presence of
her betrothed. A few months later, towards the month of May, the home-
life of the doctor's household had resumed the quite tenor of its way
but with one welcome visitor the more. The attentions of the young
viscount were soon interpreted in the town as those of a future
husband,--all the more because his manners and those of Ursula,
whether in church, or on the promenade, though dignified and reserved,
betrayed the understanding of their hearts. Dionis pointed out to the
heirs that the doctor had never asked Madame de Portenduere for the
interest of his money, three years of which was now due.