Baron Trigault's Vengeance
"O God! send Pascal to my aid," prayed Mademoiselle Marguerite, as she left M.
Fortunat's house. Now she understood the intrigue she had been the victim of;
but, instead of reassuring her the agent had frightened her, by revealing the
Marquis de Valorsay's desperate plight. She realized what frenzied rage must fill
this man's heart as he felt himself gradually slipping from the heights of opulence,
down into the depths of poverty and crime. What might he not dare, in order to
preserve even the semblance of grandeur for a year, or a month, or a day longer!
Had they measured the extent of his villainy? Would he even hesitate at murder?
And the poor girl asked herself with a shudder if Pascal were still living; and a
vision of his bleeding corpse, lying lifeless in some deserted street, rose before
her. And who could tell what dangers threatened her personally? For, though she
knew the past, she could not read the future. What did M. de Valorsay's letter
mean? and what was the fate that he held in reserve for her, and that made him
so sanguine of success? The impression produced upon her mind was so terrible
that for a moment she thought of hastening to the old justice of the peace to ask
for his protection and a refuge. But this weakness did not last long. Should she
lose her energy? Should her will fail her at the decisive moment? "No, a
thousand times no!" she said to herself again and again. "I will die if needs be,
but I will die fighting!" And the nearer she approached the Rue Pigalle, the more
energetically she drove away her apprehension, and sought for an excuse
calculated to satisfy any one who might have noticed her long absence.
An unnecessary precaution. She found the house as when she left it, abandoned
to the mercy of the servants--the strangers sent the evening before from the
employment office. Important matters still kept the General and his wife from
home. The husband had to show his horses; and the wife was intent upon
shopping. As for Madame Leon, most of her time seemed to be taken up by the
family of relatives she had so suddenly discovered. Alone, free from all
espionage, and wishing to ward off despondency by occupation, Mademoiselle
Marguerite was just beginning a letter to her friend the old magistrate, when a
servant entered and announced that her dressmaker was there and wished to
speak with her. "Let her come in," replied Marguerite, with unusual vivacity. "Let
her come in at once."
A lady who looked some forty years of age, plainly dressed, but of distinguished
appearance, was thereupon ushered into the room. Like any well-bred modiste,
she bowed respectfully while the servant was present, but as soon as he had left
the room she approached Mademoiselle Marguerite and took hold of her hands:
"My dear young lady," said she, "I am the sister-in-law of your old friend, the
magistrate. Having an important message to send to you, he was trying to find a
person whom he could trust to play the part of a dressmaker, as had been
agreed upon between you, when I offered my services, thinking he could find no
one more trusty than myself."