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Baron Trigault's Vengeance

Chapter 8
Unusual strength of character, unbounded confidence in one's own energy, with
thorough contempt of danger, and an invincible determination to triumph or
perish, are all required of the person who, like Mademoiselle Marguerite, intrusts
herself to the care of strangers--worse yet, to the care of actual enemies. It is no
small matter to place yourself in the power of smooth-tongued hypocrites and
impostors, who are anxious for your ruin, and whom you know to be capable of
anything. And the task is a mighty one-- to brave unknown dangers, perilous
seductions, perfidious counsels, and perhaps even violence, at the same time
retaining a calm eye and smiling lips. Yet such was the heroism that Marguerite,
although scarcely twenty, displayed when she left the Hotel de Chalusse to
accept the hospitality of the Fondege family. And, to crown all, she took Madame
Leon with her--Madame Leon, whom she knew to be the Marquis de Valorsay's
spy.
But, brave as she was, when the moment of departure came her heart almost
failed her. There was despair in the parting glance she cast upon the princely
mansion and the familiar faces of the servants. And there was no one to
encourage or sustain her. Ah, yes! standing at a window on the second floor, with
his forehead pressed close against the pane of glass, she saw the only friend
she had in the world--the old magistrate who had defended, encouraged, and
sustained her--the man who had promised her his assistance and advice, and
prophesied ultimate success.
"Shall I be a coward?" she thought; "shall I be unworthy of Pascal?" And she
resolutely entered the carriage, mentally exclaiming: "The die is cast!"
The General insisted that she should take a place beside Madame de Fondege
on the back seat; while he found a place next to Madame Leon on the seat facing
them. The drive was a silent and tedious one. The night was coming on; it was a
time when all Paris was on the move, and the carriage was delayed at each
street corner by a crowd of passing vehicles. The conversation was solely kept
alive by the exertions of Madame de Fondege, whose shrill voice rose above the
rumble of the wheels, as she chronicled the virtues of the late Count de
Chalusse, and congratulated Mademoiselle Marguerite on the wisdom of her
decision. Her remarks were of a commonplace description, and yet each word
she uttered evinced intense satisfaction, almost delight, as if she had won some
unexpected victory. Occasionally, the General leaned from the carriage window
to see if the vehicle laden with Mademoiselle Marguerite's trunks was following
them, but he said nothing.
At last they reached his residence in the Rue Pigalle. He alighted first, offered his
hand successively to his wife, Mademoiselle Marguerite, and Madame Leon, and
motioned the coachman to drive away.
But the man did not stir. "Pardon--excuse me, monsieur," he said, "but my
employers bade--requested me----"
"What?"
 
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