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Baron Trigault's Vengeance

Chapter 6
"This man carries away your secret; you are lost." A sinister voice whispered
these words in Madame Lia d'Argeles's heart when M. Isidore Fortunat, after
being rudely dismissed, closed the door of her drawing-room behind him. This
man had addressed her by the ancient and illustrious name of Chalusse which
she had not heard for twenty years, and which she had forbidden her own lips to
pronounce. This man knew that she, Lia d'Argeles, was really a Durtal de
This frightful certainty overwhelmed her. It is true this man Fortunat had declared
that his visit was entirely disinterested. He had pretended that his regard for the
Chalusse family, and the compassion aroused in his heart by the unfortunate
plight of Mademoiselle Marguerite, were the only motives that has influenced him
in taking this step. However, Madame d'Argeles's experience in life had left her
but limited faith in apparent or pretended disinterestedness. This is a practical
age; chivalrous sentiments are expensive--as she had learned conclusively. "If
the man came here," she murmured, "it was only because he thought he might
derive some benefit from the prosecution of my claim to my poor brother's estate.
In refusing to listen to his entreaties, I have deprived him of this expected profit
and so I have made him my enemy. Ah! I was foolish to send him away like that!
I ought to have pretended to listen--I ought to have bound him by all sorts of
She suddenly paused. It occurred to her that M. Fortunat could not have gone
very far; so that, if she sent for him to come back, she might perhaps be able to
repair her blunder. Without losing a second, she rushed downstairs, and ordered
her concierge and a servant to run after the gentleman who had just left the
house, and ask him to return; to tell him that she had reflected, and wished to
speak to him again. They rushed out in pursuit, and she remained in the
courtyard, her heart heavy with anxiety. Too late! About a quarter of an hour
afterward her emissaries returned. They had made all possible haste in contrary
directions, but they had seen no one in the street who at all resembled the
person they were looking for. They had questioned the shopkeepers, but no one
had seen him pass. "It doesn't matter," faltered Madame d'Argeles, in a tone that
belied her words. And, anxious to escape the evident curiosity of her servants,
she hastened back to the little boudoir where she usually spent her mornings.
M. Fortunat had left his card--that is to say, his address--and it would have been
an easy matter to send a servant to his house. She was strongly tempted to do
so; but she ultimately decided that it would be better to wait--that an hour more or
less would make but little difference. She had sent her trusty servant, Job, for
Baron Trigault; he would probably return with the baron at any moment; and the
baron would advise her. He would know at once what was the best course for her
to pursue. And so she waited for his coming in breathless anxiety; and the more
she reflected, the more imminent her peril seemed, for she realized that M.
Fortunat must be a very dangerous and cunning man. He had set a trap for her,