It seems to me that if you have no important business at Lyons you had better hasten your departure."
"Do you think I would do such a thing for a miserable fellow like Possano? No! I would despise myself if I did. I would die rather than hasten my departure on account of a rascal whom I loaded with kindnesses, despite his unworthiness! I would give a hundred louis to know where he is now."
"I am delighted to say that I do not know anything about it, for if I did I would tell you, and then God knows what would happen! You won't go any sooner; well, then, begin proceedings, and I will give my evidence by word of mouth or writing whenever you please."
I went to the advocate whom M. Bono had recommended to me, and told him my business. When he heard what I wanted he said,----
"I can do nothing for you, sir, as I have undertaken the case of your opponent. You need not be alarmed, however, at having spoken to me, for I assure you that I will make no use whatever of the information. Possano's plea or accusation will not be drawn up till the day after to-morrow, but I will not tell him to make baste for fear of your anticipating him, as I have only been informed of your intentions by hazard. However, you will find plenty of advocates at Lyons as honest as I am, and more skilled."
"Could you give me the name of one?"
"That would not be etiquette, but M. Bono, who seems to have kindly spoken of me with some esteem, will be able to serve you."
"Can you tell me where your client lives?"
"Since his chief aim is to remain hidden, and with good cause, you will see that I could not think of doing such a thing."
In bidding him farewell I put a louis on the table, and though I did it with the utmost delicacy he ran after me and made me take it back.
"For once in a way," I said to myself, "here's an honest advocate."
As I walked along I thought of putting a spy on Possano and finding out his abode, for I felt a strong desire to have him beaten to death; but where was I to find a spy in a town of which I knew nothing? M. Bono gave me the name of another advocate, and advised me to make haste.
"'Tis in criminal matters" said he, "and in such cases the first comer always has the advantage."
I asked him to find me a trusty fellow to track out the rascally Possano, but the worthy man would not hear of it. He shewed me that it would be dishonourable to set a spy on the actions of Possano's advocate. I knew it myself; but what man is there who has not yielded to the voice of vengeance, the most violent and least reasonable of all the passions.
I went to the second advocate, whom I found to be a man venerable not only in years but in wisdom. I told him all the circumstances of the affair, which he agreed to take up, saying he would present my plea in the course of the day.
"That's just what I want you to do," said I, "for his own advocate told me that his pleas would be presented the day after to-morrow."
"That, sir," said her "would not induce me to act with any greater promptness, as I could not consent to your abusing the confidence of my colleague."
"But there is nothing dishonourable in making use of information which one has acquired by chance."
"That may be a tenable position in some cases, but in the present instance the nature of the affair justifies prompt action. 'Prior in tempore, Potior in jure'. Prudence bids us attack our enemy. Be so kind, if you please, to call here at three o'clock in the afternoon."
"I will not fail to do so, and in the meanwhile here are six louis."
"I will keep account of my expenditure on your behalf."
"I want you not to spare money."
"Sir, I shall spend only what is absolutely necessary."
I almost believed that probity had chosen a home for herself amongst the Lyons advocates, and here I may say, to the honour of the French bar, that I have never known a more honest body of men than the advocates of France.
At three o'clock, having seen that the plan was properly drawn up, I went to Madame d'Urfe's, and for four hours I worked the oracle in a manner that filled her with delight, and in spite of my vexation I could not help laughing at her insane fancies on the subject of her pregnancy.