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The Patron
by [?]

“Yes, monsieur. I am only passing through on my journey.”

“It certainly is very disagreeable to have rain during the few days one spends in the capital. We officials who stay here the year round, we think nothing of it.”

The priest did not reply. He was looking at the street where the rain seemed to be falling less heavily. And with a sudden resolve he raised his cassock just as women raise their skirts in stepping across water.

M. Marin, seeing him start away, exclaimed:

“You will get drenched, Monsieur l’Abbe. Wait a few moments longer; the rain will be over.”

The good man stopped irresistibly and then said:

“But I am in a great hurry. I have an important engagement.”

M. Marin seemed quite worried.

“But you will be absolutely drenched. Might I ask in which direction you are going?”

The priest appeared to hesitate. Then he said:

“I am going in the direction of the Palais Royal.”

“In that case, if you will allow me, Monsieur l’Abbe, I will offer you the shelter of my umbrella: As for me, I am going to the council. I am a councillor of state.”

The old priest raised his head and looked at his neighbor and then exclaimed:

“I thank you, monsieur. I shall be glad to accept your offer.”

M. Marin then took his arm and led him away. He directed him, watched over him and advised him.

“Be careful of that stream, Monsieur l’Abbe. And be very careful about the carriage wheels; they spatter you with mud sometimes from head to foot. Look out for the umbrellas of the people passing by; there is nothing more dangerous to the eyes than the tips of the ribs. Women especially are unbearable; they pay no heed to where they are going and always jab you in the face with the point of their parasols or umbrellas. And they never move aside for anybody. One would suppose the town belonged to them. They monopolize the pavement and the street. It is my opinion that their education has been greatly neglected.”

And M. Marin laughed.

The priest did not reply. He walked along, slightly bent over, picking his steps carefully so as not to get mud on his boots or his cassock.

M. Marin resumed:

“I suppose you have come to Paris to divert your mind a little?”

The good man replied:

“No, I have some business to attend to.”

“Ali! Is it important business? Might I venture to ask what it is? If I can be of any service to you, you may command me.”

The priest seemed embarrassed. He murmured:

“Oh, it is a little personal matter; a little difficulty with–with my bishop. It would not interest you. It is a matter of internal regulation–an ecclesiastical affair.”

M. Marin was eager.

“But it is precisely the state council that regulates all those things. In that case, make use of me.”

“Yes, monsieur, it is to the council that I am going. You are a thousand times too kind. I have to see M. Lerepere and M. Savon and also perhaps M. Petitpas.”

M. Marin stopped short.

“Why, those are my friends, Monsieur l’Abbe, my best friends, excellent colleagues, charming men. I will speak to them about you, and very highly. Count upon me.”

The cure thanked him, apologizing for troubling him, and stammered out a thousand grateful promises.

M. Marin was enchanted.

“Ah, you may be proud of having made a stroke of luck, Monsieur l’Abbe. You will see–you will see that, thanks to me, your affair will go along swimmingly.”

They reached the council hall. M. Marin took the priest into his office, offered him a chair in front of the fire and sat down himself at his desk and began to write.

“My dear colleague, allow me to recommend to you most highly a venerable and particularly worthy and deserving priest, M. L’Abbe—-“