"I will not quibble about words. I wish to be perfectly straightforward with you."
"I am glad to hear it," sneered the doctor, "though that is not your usual form."
"And yet I do not think that I have ever concealed my real opinion from you. It is fully ten years ago since I spoke to you of the necessity of breaking up this association. Can you recall what I said? I said only our extreme need and griping poverty justified our acts. They are now inexcusable."
"You talked very freely of your scruples," observed Mascarin.
"Yes, and I remember too that those inner scruples never hindered you from drawing your share of the profits."
"That is to say," burst in the doctor, "you repudiated the work, but shared the booty. You wished to play the game without staking anything."
Catenac was in no way disconcerted at this trenchant argument.
"Quite true," said he, "I always received my share; but I have done quite as much as you in putting the agency in its present prosperous condition. Does it not work smoothly like a perfect piece of mechanism? Have we not succeeded in nearly all our schemes? The income comes in monthly with extreme regularity, and I, according to my rights, have received one-third. If you desire to throw up this perilous means of livelihood, say so, and I will not oppose it."
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