How to make money on the ground

How to make money on the ground

At the Massin School, where he had been sent, he made his teachers'

hair turn white; and not a week went by that he did not signalizehimself by some fresh misdeed.

A father like any other would have paid but slight attention to thepranks of a schoolboy, who, after all, ranked among the first of hisclass, and of whom the teachers themselves, whilst complaining, said,"Bash! What matters it, since the heart is sound and the mind sane?"But M. Favoral took every thing tragically. If Maxence was kept in,or otherwise punished, he pretended that it reflected upon himself,and that his son was disgracing him.

If a report came home with this remark, "execrable conduct," he fellinto the most violent passion, and seemed to lose all control ofhimself.

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"At your age," he would shout to the terrified boy, "I was workingin a factory, and earning my livelihood. Do you suppose that Iwill not tire of making sacrifices to procure you the advantagesof an education which I lacked myself? Beware. Havre is not faroff; and cabin-boys are always in demand there."If, at least, he had confined himself to these admonitions, which,by their very exaggeration, failed in their object! But he favoredmechanical appliances as a necessary means of sufficiently impressingreprimands upon the minds of young people; and therefore, seizinghis cane, he would beat poor Maxence most unmercifully, the more sothat the boy, filled with pride, would have allowed himself to bechopped to pieces rather than utter a cry, or shed a tear.

The first time that Mme. Favoral saw her son struck, she was seizedwith one of those wild fits of anger which do not reason, and neverforgive. To be beaten herself would have seemed to her lessatrocious, less humiliating. Hitherto she had found it impossibleto love a husband such as hers: henceforth, she took him in utteraversion: he inspired her with horror. She looked upon her son asa martyr for whom she could hardly ever do enough.

And so, after these harrowing scenes, she would press him to herheart in the most passionate embrace; she would cover with her kissesthe traces of the blows; and she would strive, by the most deliriouscaresses, to make him forget the paternal brutalities. With him shesobbed. Like him, she would shake her clinched fists in the vacantspace; exclaiming, "Coward, tyrant, assassin!" The little Gilbertemingled her tears with theirs; and, pressed against each other, theydeplored their destiny, cursing the common enemy, the head of thefamily.

Thus did Maxence spend his boyhood between equally fatalexaggerations, between the revolting brutalities of his father, andthe dangerous caresses of his mother; the one depriving him of everything, the other refusing him nothing.

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For Mme. Favoral had now found a use for her humble savings.

If the idea had never come to the cashier of the Mutual CreditSociety to put a few sous in his son's pocket, the too weak motherwould have suggested to him the want of money in order to have thepleasure of gratifying it.

She who had suffered so many humiliations in her life, she could notbear the idea of her son having his pride wounded, and being unableto indulge in those little trifling expenses which are the vanityof schoolboys.

"Here, take this," she would tell him on holidays, slipping a fewfrancs into his hands.

Unfortunately, to her present she joined the recommendation not toallow his father to know any thing about it; forgetting that she wasthus training Maxence to dissimulate, warping his natural sense ofright, and perverting his instincts:

No, she gave; and, to repair the gaps thus made in her treasure, sheworked to the point of ruining her sight, with such eager zeal, thatthe worthy shop-keeper of the Rue St. Denis asked her if she did notemploy working girls. In truth, the only help she received was fromGilberte, who, at the age of eight, already knew how to make herselfuseful.

And this is not all. For this son, in anticipation of growingexpenses, she stooped to expedients which formerly would have seemedto her unworthy and disgraceful. She robbed the household, cheatingon her own marketing. She went so far as to confide to her servant,and to make of the girl the accomplice of her operations. Sheapplied all her ingenuity to serve to M. Favoral dinners in whichthe excellence of the dressing concealed the want of solid substance.