He broke off, listened for a moment, and then said,--
"Hush! I can hear his footstep."
A dry cough was heard outside, and in another moment Catenac entered the room.
Nature, or profound dissimulation, had gifted Catenac with an exterior which made every one, when first introduced to him, exclaim, "This is an honest and trustworthy man." Catenac always looked his clients boldly in the face. His voice was pleasant, and had a certain ring of joviality in it, and his manner was one of those easy ones which always insure popularity. He was looked upon as a shrewd lawyer; but yet he did not shine in court. He must therefore, to make those thirty thousand francs a year which he was credited with doing, have some special line of business. He assayed rather risky matters, which might bring both parties into the clutches of the criminal law, or, at any rate, leave them with a taint upon both their names. A sensational lawsuit is begun, and the public eagerly await the result; suddenly the whole thing collapses, for Catenac has acted as mediator. He has even settled the disputes of murderers quarreling over their booty. But he has even gone farther than this. More than once he has said of himself, "I have passed through the vilest masses of corruption." In his office in the Rue Jacob he has heard whispered conferences which were enough to bring down the roof above his head. Of course this was the most lucrative business that passed into Catenac's hands. The client conceals nothing from his attorney, and he belongs to him as absolutely as the sick man belongs to his physician or the penitent to his confessor.
"Well, my dear Baptiste," said he, "here I am; you summoned me, and I am obedient to the call."
"Sit down," replied Mascarin gravely.
"Thanks, my friend, many thanks, a thousand thanks; but I am much hurried; indeed I have not a moment to spare. I have matters on my hands of life and death."
"But for all that," remarked Hortebise, "you can sit down for a moment. Baptiste has something to say to you which is as important as any of your matters can be."
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