Caught In The Net
Husband And Wife
Ever since Mascarin's visit, the Count de Mussidan had been in a deplorable
state of mind. Forgetting the injury to his foot, he passed the night pacing up and
down the library, cudgelling his brains for some means of breaking the meshes of
the net in which he was entangled. He knew the necessity for immediate action,
for he felt sure that this demand would only be the forerunner of numerous others
of a similar character. He thought over and dismissed many schemes.
Sometimes he had almost decided to go to the police authorities and make a
clean breast; then the idea of placing the affair in the hands of a private detective
occurred to him; but the more he deliberated, the more he realized the strength
of the cord that bound him, and the scandal which exposure would cause. This
long course of thought had in some measure softened the bitterness of his wrath,
and he was able to receive his old friend M. de Clinchain with some degree of
calmness. He was not at all surprised at the receipt of the anonymous letter,--
indeed, he had expected that a blow would be struck in that direction. Still
immersed in thought, M. de Mussidan hardly took heed of his wife's presence,
and he still paced the room, uttering a string of broken phrases. This excited the
attention of the Countess, for her own threatened position caused her to be on
"What is annoying you, Octave?" asked she. "Surely, not M. de Clinchain's attack
For many years the Count had been accustomed to that taunting and sarcastic
voice, but this feeble joke at such a moment was more than he could endure.
"Don't address me in that manner," said he angrily.
"What is the matter--are you not well?"
"Will you have the kindness to tell me what has taken place?"
The color suffused the Count's face, and his rage burst forth the more furiously
from his having had to suppress it so long; and coming to a halt before the chair
in which the Countess was lounging, his eyes blazing with hate and anger, he
"All I wish to tell you is, that De Breulh-Faverlay shall not marry our daughter."
Madame de Mussidan was secretly delighted at this reply, for it showed her that
half the task required of her by Dr. Hortebise had been accomplished without her
interference; but in order to act cautiously, she began at once to object, for a
woman's way is always at first to oppose what she most desires.
"You are laughing at me, Count!" said she. "Where can we hope to find so good
a match again?"
"You need not be afraid," returned the Count, with a sneer; "you shall have
These words sent a pang through the heart of the Countess. Was it an allusion to
the past? or had the phrase dropped from her husband's lips accidentally? or had
he any suspicion of the influence that had been brought to bear upon her? She,