TWO days later Poiret and Mademoiselle Michonneau were sitting on a bench in the sun, by a secluded path in the Jardin des Plantes, talking to the gentleman about whom the medical student entertained quite justifiable suspicions.
'Mademoiselle,' Monsieur Gondureau was saying, 'I cannot see why you should have such scruples. His Excellency Monseigneur the Minister of Police for the whole Kingdom of France . . .'
'Ah! His Excellency Monseigneur the Minister of Police for the whole Kingdom . . .' Poiret repeated.
'Yes. His Excellency is dealing with the matter.' It may seem most unlikely that Poiret, a retired clerk, no doubt endowed with solid middle-class virtues, though without an idea in his head, should go on listening to the self-styled man of independent means from the rue de Buffon once mention of the word 'police' had revealed the true face of an agent from the rue de Jérusalem* beneath his mask of ordinary respectability. Yet nothing could be more natural. One can better understand the particular species to which Poiret belonged within the large family of fools in the light of a point already noted by certain observers, though hitherto unpublished. There is a plumigerous* race, whose habitat in the budget is concentrated between the first degree of latitude, comprising salaries of twelve hundred francs, a sort of administrative Greenland, and the third, where slightly more generous salaries of three to six thousand begin, a temperate region where the bonus has been acclimatized and flourishes in spite of difficulties of cultivation. One of the characteristics which most clearly reveals the feeble narrow-mindedness of this