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The Triumphs of Eugène Valmont
written by "Barr, Robert, 1850-1912"
...ould have come here and commissioned you to undertake some elucidation of the strange situation in which I find myself, and I make no doubt you would have accepted the task if your numerous engagements had permitted. Then, if you failed, I should have been unable to pay you, for I am practically bankrupt. My whole desire, therefore, was to make an honest beginning, and to let you know exactly how I stand. If you succeed, I shall be a rich man; if you do not succeed, I shall be what I am now, penniless. Have I made it plain now why I began with a question which you had every right to resent?' 'Perfectly plain, my lord, and your candour does you credit.' I was very much taken with the unassuming manners of the young man, and his evident desire to accept no service under false[86] pretences. When I had finished my sentence the pauper nobleman rose to his feet, and bowed. 'I am very much your debtor, monsieur, for your courtesy in receiving me, and can only beg pardon for occupying your time on a futile quest. I wish you good-morning, monsieur.' 'One moment, my lord,' I rejoined, waving him to his chair again. 'Although I am unprepared to accept a commission on the terms you suggest, I may, nevertheless, be able to offer a hint or two that will prove of service to you. I think I remember the announcement of Lord Chizelrigg's death. He was somewhat eccentric, was he not?' 'Eccentric?' said the young man, with a slight laugh, seating himself again—'well, rather!' 'I vaguely remember that he was accredited with the possession of something like twenty thousand acres of land?' 'Twenty-seven thousand, as a matter of fact,' replied my visitor. 'Have you fallen heir to the lands as well as to the title?' 'Oh, yes; the estate was entailed. The old gentleman could not divert it from me if he would, and I rather suspect that fact must have been the cause of some worry to him.' 'But surely, my lord, a man who owns, as one mig...

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