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IN one of the dirtiest and most gloomy
streets leading to the Rue Saint Denis, in Paris,
there stands a tall and ancient house, the
lower portion of which is a large mercer's
shop. This establishment is held to be one of
the very best in the neighbourhood, and has
for many years belonged to an individual on
whom we will bestow the name of Ramin.

About ten years ago, Monsieur Ramin was
a jovial red-faced man of forty, who joked his
customers into purchasing his goods, flattered
the pretty grisettes outrageously, and now and
then gave them a Sunday treat at the barrier,
as the cheapest way of securing their custom.
Some people thought him a careless, good-
natured fellow, and wondered how, with
his off-hand ways, he contrived to make
money so fast, but those who knew him well
saw that he was one of those who "never
lost an opportunity." Others declared that
Monsieur Ramin's own definition of his
character was, that he was a "bon enfant,"
and that "it was all luck." He shrugged
his shoulders and laughed when people hinted
at his deep scheming in making, and his
skill in taking advantage of Excellent

He was sitting in his gloomy parlour one
fine morning in Spring, breakfasting from a
dark liquid honoured with the name of onion
soup, glancing at the newspaper, and keeping
a vigilant look on the shop through the open
door, when his old servant Catherine suddenly

"I suppose you know Monsieur Bonelle has
come to live in the vacant apartment on the
fourth floor?"

"What!" exclaimed Monsieur Ramin in
a loud key.

Catherine repeated her statement, to which
her master listened in total silence.

"Well! " he said, at length, in his most
careless tones; "what about the old fellow?"
and he once more resumed his triple occupation
of reading, eating, and watching.

"Why," continued Catherine, "they say
he is nearly dying, and that his housekeeper,
Marguerite, vowed he could never get
upstairs alive. It took two men to carry him
up; and when he was at length quiet in bed,
Marguerite went down to the porter's lodge
and sobbed there a whole hour, saying, "Her
poor master, had the gout, the rheumatics,
and a bad asthma; that though he had been
got up stairs, he would never come down
again alive; that if she could only get him to
confess his sins and make his will, she would
not mind it so much; but that when she
spoke of the lawyer or the priest, he
blasphemed at her like a heathen, and declared
he would live to bury her and every body

Monsieur Ramin heard Catherine with
great attention, forgot to finish his soup, and
remained for five minutes in, profound
rumination, without so much as perceiving two
customers who had entered the shop and were
waiting to be served. When aroused, he was
heard to exclaim:

"What an excellent opportunity!"

Monsieur Bonelle had been Ramin's
predecessor. The succession of the latter to
the shop was a mystery. No one ever
knew how it was that this young and poor
assistant managed to replace his patron.
Some said that he had detected Monsieur
Bonelle in frauds which he threatened to
expose, unless the business were given up
to him as the price of his silence; others
averred that, having drawn a prize in
the lottery, he had resolved to set up a fierce
opposition over the way, and that
Monsieur Bonelle, having obtained a hint of his
intentions, had thought it most prudent to
accept the trifling sum his clerk offered, and
avoid a ruinous competition. Some charitable
soulsmoved no doubt by Monsieur Bonelle's
misfortuneendeavoured to console and pump
him; but all they could get from him was the
bitter exclamation, "To think I should have
been duped by him!" For Ramin had the
art, though then a mere youth, to pass himself
off on his master as an innocent provincial lad.
Those who sought an explanation from the
new mercer, were stiil more unsuccessful.
"My good old master," he said in his jovial
way, "felt in need of repose, and so I
obligingly relieved him of all business and

Years passed away; Ramin prospered, and
neither thought nor heard of his "good old
master." The house, of which he tenanted
the lower portion, was offered for sale: he
had long coveted it, and had almost concluded
an agreement with the actual owner, when
Monsieur Bonelle unexpectedly stepped in at
the eleventh hour, and by offering a trifle
more secured the bargain. The rage and
mortification of Monsieur Ramin were
extreme. He could not understand how Bonelle,
whom he had thought ruined, had scraped up
so large a sum; his lease was out, and he
now felt himself at the mercy of the man he
had so much injured. But either Monsieur
Bonelle was free from vindictive feelings, or
those feelings did not blind him to the
expediency of keeping a good tenant; for though
he raised the rent, until Monsieur Ramin
groaned inwardly, he did not refuse to renew
the lease. They had met at that period; but
never since.

"Well, Catherine," observed Monsieur
Ramin to his old servant, on the following
morning, "How is that good Monsieur Bonelle
getting on?"

"I dare say you feel very uneasy about
him," she replied with a sneer.

Monsieur Ramin looked up and frowned.

"Catherine," said he, dryly, "you will have
the goodness, in the first place, not to make
impertinent remarks; in the second place,
you will oblige me by going up stairs to