Baron Trigault's Vengeance
Baron Trigault still held Madame de Fondege a prisoner in the hall. What did he
say to her in justification of the expedient he had improvised? His own agitation
was so great that he scarcely knew, and it mattered but little after all, for the good
lady did not even pretend to listen to his apologies. Although by no means
overshrewd, she suspected some great mystery, some bit of scandal, perhaps,
and her eyes never once wandered from the door leading to the boudoir. At last
this door opened and Mademoiselle Marguerite reappeared. "Great heavens!"
exclaimed Madame de Fondege; "what has happened to my poor child?"
For the unfortunate girl advanced with an automatic tread, her eyes fixed on
vacancy, and her hands outstretched, as if feeling her way. It indeed seemed to
her as if the floor swayed to and fro under her feet, as if the walls tottered, as if
the ceiling were about to fall and crush her.
Madame de Fondege sprang forward. "What is the matter, my dearest?"
Alas! the poor girl was utterly overcome. "It is but a trifle," she faltered. But her
eyes closed, her hands clutched wildly for some support, and she would have
fallen to the ground if the baron had not caught her in his arms and carried her to
a sofa. "Help!" cried Madame de Fondege, "help, she is dying!--a physician!"
But there was no need of a physician. One of the maids came with some fresh
water and a bottle of smelling salts, and Marguerite soon recovered sufficiently to
sit up, and cast a frightened glance around her, while she mechanically passed
her hand again and again over her cold forehead. "Do you feel better my
darling?" inquired Madame de Fondege at last.
"Ah! you gave me a terrible fright; see how I tremble." But the worthy lady's fright
was as nothing in comparison with the curiosity that tortured her. It was so
powerful, indeed, that she could not control it. "What has happened?" she asked.
"Nothing, madame, nothing."
"I am subject to such attacks. I was very cold, and the heat of the room made me
Although she could only speak with the greatest difficulty, the baron realized by
her tone that she would never reveal what had taken place, and his attitude and
relief knew no bounds. "Don't tire the poor child," he said to Madame de
Fondege. "The best thing you can do would be to take her home and put her to
I agree with you; but unfortunately, I have sent away my brougham with orders
not to return for me until one o'clock."
"Is that the only difficulty? If so, you shall have a carriage at once, my dear
madame." So saying, the baron made a sign to one of the servants, and the man
started on his mission at once.
Madame de Fondege was silent but furious. "He is actually putting me out of
doors," she thought. "This is a little too much! And why doesn't the baroness