Baron Trigault's Vengeance
It was not enough to tell M. Wilkie the secret of his birth. He must be taught how
to utilize the knowledge. The Viscount de Coralth devoted himself to this task,
and burdened Wilkie with such a host of injunctions, that it was quite evident he
had but a poor opinion of his pupil's sagacity. "That woman d'Argeles," he
thought, "is as sharp as steel. She will deceive this young idiot completely, if I
don't warn him."
So he did warn him; and Wilkie was instructed exactly what to do and say, how to
answer any questions, and what position to take up according to circumstances.
Moreover, he was especially enjoined to distrust tears, and not to let himself be
put out of countenance by haughty airs. The Viscount spent at least an hour in
giving explanations and advice, to the great disgust of M. Wilkie, who, feeling that
he was being treated like a child, somewhat testily declared that he was no fool,
and that he knew how to take care of himself as well as any one else. Still, this
did not prevent M. de Coralth from persisting in his instructions until he was
persuaded that he had prepared his pupil for all possible emergencies. He then
rose to depart. "That's all, I think," he remarked, with a shade of uneasiness. "I've
traced the plan--you must execute it, and keep cool, or the game's lost."
His companion rose proudly. "If it fails, it won't be from any fault of mine," he
answered with unmistakable petulance.
"Lose no time."
"There's no danger of that."
"And understand, that whatever happens, my name is not to be mentioned."
"If there should be any new revelations, I will inform you."
"At the club?"
"Yes, but don't be uneasy; the affair is as good as concluded."
"I hope so, indeed."
Wilkie gave a sigh of relief as he saw his visitor depart. He wished to be alone,
so as to brood over the delights that the future had in store for him. He was no
longer to be limited to a paltry allowance of twenty thousand francs! No more
debts, no more ungratified longings. He would have millions at his disposal! He
seemed to see them, to hold them, to feel them gliding in golden waves between
his fingers! What horses he would have! what carriages! what mistresses! And a
gleam of envy that he had detected in M. de Coralth's eyes put the finishing
touch to his bliss. To be envied by this brilliant viscount, his model and his ideal,
what happiness it was!
The reputation that Madame d'Argeles bore had at first cast a shadow over his
joy; but this shadow had soon vanished. He was troubled by no foolish
prejudices, and personally he cared little or nothing for his mother's reputation.
The prejudices of society must, of course, be considered. But nonsense! society
has no prejudices nowadays when millionaires are concerned, and asks no
questions respecting their parents. Society only requires passports of the