By François Edouard Joachim Coppée
THE LOST CHILD
By François Edouard Joachim Coppée
Translated by J. Matthewman
Copyright, 1894, by The Current Literature Publishing Company.
On that morning, which was the morning before Christmas, two
important events happened simultaneously--the sun rose, and so did M.
Unquestionably the sun, illuminating suddenly the whole of Paris with
its morning rays, is an old friend regarded with affection by everybody,
It is particularly welcome after a fortnight of misty atmosphere and
gray skies, when the wind has cleared the air and allowed the sun's rays
to reach the earth again. Besides all of which the sun is a person of
importance. Formerly, he was regarded as a god, and was called Osiris,
Apollyon, and I don't know what else. But do not imagine that because
the sun is so important he is of greater influence than M. Jean-Baptiste
Godefroy, millionaire banker, director of the _Comptoir Général de
Crédit_, administrator of several big companies, deputy and member of
the General Counsel of the Eure, officer of the Legion of Honor, etc.,
etc. And whatever opinion the sun may have about himself, he certainly
has not a higher opinion than M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy has of
_him_self. So we are authorized to state, and we consider ourselves
justified in stating, that on the morning in question, at about a
quarter to eight, the sun and M. Jean-Baptiste Godefroy rose.
Certainly the manner of rising of these two great powers mentioned
was not the same. The good old sun began by doing a great many pretty
actions. As the sleet had, during the night, covered the bare branches
of the trees in the boulevard Malesherbes, where the _hôtel_ Godefroy is
situated, with a powdered coating, the great magician sun amused himself
by transforming the branches into great bouquets of red coral. At the
same time he scattered his rays impartially on those poor passers-by
whom necessity sent out, so early in the morning, to gain their daily
bread, He even had a smile for the poor clerk, who, in a thin overcoat,
was hurrying to his office, as well as for the _grisette_, shivering
under her thin, insufficient clothing; for the workman carrying half a
loaf under his arm, for the car-conductor as he punched the tickets, and
for the dealer in roast chestnuts, who was roasting his first panful. In
short, the sun gave pleasure to everybody in the world. M. Jean-Baptiste
Godefroy, on the contrary, rose in quite a different frame of mind. On
the previous evening he had dined with the Minister for Agriculture.
The dinner, from the removal of the _potage_ to the salad, bristled with
truffles, and the banker's stomach, aged forty-seven years, experienced
the burning and biting of pyrosis. So the manner in which M.
Jean-Baptiste Godefroy rang for his valet-de-chambre was so expressive
that, as he got some warm water for his master's shaving, Charles said
to the kitchen-maid:
"There he goes! The monkey is barbarously ill-tempered again this
morning. My poor Gertrude, we're going to have a miserable day."
Whereupon, walking on tiptoe, with eyes modestly cast down, he entered
the chamber of his master, opened the curtains, lit the fire, and made
all the necessary preparations for the toilet with the discreet demeanor
and respectful gestures of a sacristan placing the sacred vessels on the
altar for the priest.
"What sort of weather this morning?" demanded M. Godefroy curtly, as he
buttoned his undervest of gray swandown upon a stomach that was already
a little too prominent.
"Very cold, sir," replied Charles meekly. "At six o'clock the
thermometer marked seven degrees above zero. But, as you will see,
sir, the sky is quite clear, and I think we are going to have a fine
In stropping his razor, M. Godefroy approached the window, drew aside
one of the hangings, looked on the boulevard, which was bathed in
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