MOURET (OCTAVE), born 1840, son of Francois Mouret. La Fortune des
A young man of high spirits and somewhat idle habits, he made little
progress at college, and failed to pass the examinations for a degree.
His father was much annoyed at this, and sent him off to Marseilles to
enter a commercial business. The reports regarding him were, however,
unsatisfactory, as it appeared that he showed no inclination to
settle to hard work and was living a dissolute life.[*] La Conquete de
After the death of his parents, Serge Mouret, who was about to take Holy
Orders, renounced his share of his father's fortune in favour of his
brother Octave. La Faute de l'Abbe Mouret.
He was appointed a member of the family council which nominally had
charge of Pauline Quenu's fortune. La Joie de Vivre.
After three years at Marseilles he came to Paris, where he secured an
appointment as assistant at "The Ladies' Paradise" through the influence
of the Campardons, who were old friends of his mother. He formed the
project of advancing his prospects by making love to Madame Hedouin,
wife of his employer, but she gave him no encouragement. He resigned his
situation, and went as salesman to Auguste Vabre, a neighbouring silk
merchant. Vabre's wife (nee Berthe Josserand) was not on good terms with
her husband, and a liaison was formed between her and Octave Mouret,
which subsisted for some time before it was discovered by Vabre, who
received information from Rachael, his maid-servant. Mouret returned to
his former employment at "The Ladies' Paradise," and M. Hedouin having
died in the interval, he married the widow a few months afterwards. He
had developed keen business ability, with large ideas, and under his
management the shop became one of the most important in the district.
In Mouret's hands the business of "The Ladies' Paradise" continued to
grow, and repeated extensions of the building became necessary. While
one of these was in progress, Madame Mouret, who was inspecting the
work, fell into a hole, and as a result of her injuries died three
days afterwards. Mouret remained a widower, and devoted himself to the
extension of his business, though it was believed that a liaison with
Madame Desforges was not the only entanglement of its kind. On the
introduction of Madame Desforges he came to know Baron Hartmann,
director of the Credit Immobilier, who became interested in him, and
eventually found the money necessary to carry out the vast schemes of
extension which he had long had in mind. By this time Denise Baudu
had come to "The Ladies' Paradise" as a saleswoman, and from the first
Mouret had taken an interest in her. This was probably increased by the
fact that she resisted all his advances, and refused all his offers.
Ultimately he became so infatuated by her that he asked her to marry
him, which she agreed to do. By this time the success of "The Ladies'
Paradise" had become triumphant, and the smaller traders of the
district were being crushed out of existence, and driven one by one into
bankruptcy. Au Bonheur des Dames.
He assisted at the burial of his cousin, Claude Lantier the artist.
By this time he had become very rich, was decorated with the Legion
of Honour, and was desirous of giving the impression of an enlightened
taste for art. L'Oeuvre.
Octave Mouret, whose immense fortune continued to increase, had towards
the end of 1872 a second child by his wife Denise Baudu, whom he adored,
though he again began to lead a somewhat irregular life. Their little
girl was puny, but the younger child, a boy, took after his mother, and
grew magnificently. Le Docteur Pascal.
[*] It is interesting to note that by a curious oversight M.
Zola in _Pot-Bouille_ refers to Octave Mouret as having
passed the examination for his bachelor's degree before
leaving Plassans, and states that at Marseilles the lad
showed a passion for business life, being able during his
three years' stay there to make a sum of five thousand
francs (two hundred pounds), which he took with him to