Can you make money on the Internet to recover?

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He had made two piles of the papers, with the intention of thoroughly examining them when he should be alone, and now sat motionless, with his hands open, one resting on each pile.

A spell of silence followed; then La Méchain resumed: 'I have been attending to the Jordan notes. I really thought[Pg 31] that I had found our man again. He has been employed somewhere, and now he is writing for the newspapers. But they receive you so badly at the newspaper offices; they refuse to give you addresses. And besides, I think that he does not sign his articles with his real name.'

Without a word, Busch had stretched out his arm to take the Jordan portfolio from its place. It contained six notes of hand of fifty francs each, dated five years back and maturing monthly—a total sum of three hundred francs—which the young man had undertaken to pay to a tailor in days of poverty. Unpaid on presentation, however, the capital sum had been swollen by enormous costs, and the portfolio fairly overflowed with formidable legal documents. At the present time the debt had increased to the sum of seven hundred and thirty francs and fifteen centimes. 'If he has a future before him,' muttered Busch, 'we shall catch him one of these days.' Then, some sequence of ideas undoubtedly forming in his mind, he exclaimed: 'And that Sicardot affair, are we going to abandon it?'

La Méchain lifted her fat arms to heaven with a gesture of anguish. A ripple of despair seemed to course through her monstrous person. 'Oh, Lord!' she wailed, with her piping voice, 'it will cost me my very skin.'

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This Sicardot affair was a very romantic story which she delighted to tell. A cousin of hers, Rosalie Chavaille, a daughter of her father's sister, living with her mother in a small lodging on the sixth floor of a house in the Rue de la Harpe, had fallen a victim to a married man, who occupied with his wife a room sublet to him on the second floor. There were some abominable circumstances in connection with the affair, but the girl's mother, consenting to silence, had merely required that the evil-doer should pay her the sum of six hundred francs, divided into twelve notes of fifty francs each, payable monthly. Before the first month was at an end, however, the man—an individual of gentlemanly appearance—had disappeared, and all trace of him was lost, whilst misfortunes continued falling thick as hail. Rosalie gave birth to a boy, lost her mother, and fell into a life of vice and[Pg 32] abject poverty. Stranded in the Cité de Naples, her cousin's property, she had dragged about the streets till the age of twenty-six; but at last, during the previous year, she had been lucky enough to die, leaving behind her her son Victor, whom La Méchain had to keep; and of the whole adventure there only remained the twelve unpaid notes of hand. They had never been able to learn more of the individual who had signed them than that he called himself Sicardot.

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With a fresh gesture, Busch took down the Sicardot papers, contained in a thin grey paper wrapper. No costs had accumulated, so there were merely the twelve notes.

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'If Victor were only a nice child!' explained the old woman in a sorrowful voice. 'But he's dreadful! Ah! it is hard to be encumbered with such inheritances—an urchin who will end on the scaffold, and those bits of paper which will never bring me anything!'

Busch kept his big pale eyes obstinately fixed upon the notes. How many times already had he thus studied them, hoping that some hitherto unnoticed detail, something in the form of the letters, or in the grain of the stamped paper, would supply him with a clue! He asserted at times that that fine, pointed handwriting was not altogether unknown to him. 'It is curious,' he repeated once more, 'I am certain that I have somewhere already seen such a's and o's as these, so elongated that they resemble i's.'

Just then there came a knock; and he asked La Méchain to stretch out her hand to open the door, for the room communicated direct with the staircase. You had to cross it in order to reach the second chamber, the one that overlooked the street. As for the kitchen, this was a stifling hole on the other side of the landing.

'Come in, monsieur,' said La Méchain, and Saccard entered. He was smiling, inwardly amused by the copper plate screwed upon the door, and bearing in large letters the words: 'Disputed Claims.'

'Oh yes, Monsieur Saccard, you have come for that translation—my brother is there in the other room. Come in, pray come in.'

La Méchain, however, absolutely barred the passage, and scrutinised the new-comer with an air of increasing surprise. No end of man?uvring was necessary for Saccard to effect an entrance; he had to retreat to the stairs again whilst she stepped out, and drew back on the landing, so that he might pass in and finally reach the adjoining room, into which he disappeared. During these complicated movements, La Méchain had not once taken her eyes off him.