Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Holidays Offer

The Count's Millions

Chapter 10.
Once before, that very morning, the magistrate had witnessed a display of the virile
energy with which misfortune and suffering had endowed this proud but naturally timid
girl. But he was none the less surprised at the sudden explosion of hatred which he now
beheld; for it was hatred. The way in which Mademoiselle Marguerite's voice had
quivered as she pronounced the name of Anais de Rochecote proved, unmistakably, that
hers was one of those haughty natures that never forget an insult. All signs of fatigue had
now disappeared. She had sprung from her chair, and remembrance of the shameful,
cowardly affront she had received had brought a vivid flush to her cheeks and a bright
gleam to her eyes.
"This atrocious humiliation happened scarcely a year ago, monsieur," she resumed; "and
there is but little left for me to tell you. My expulsion from Sainte-Marthe made M. de
Chalusse frantic with indignation. He knew something that I was ignorant of--that
Madame de Rochecote, who enacted the part of a severe and implacable censor, was
famed for the laxity of her morals. The count's first impulse was to wreak vengeance on
my persecutors; for, in spite of his usual coolness, M. de Chalusse had a furious temper at
times. It was only with the greatest difficulty that I dissuaded him from challenging
General de Rochecote, who was living at the time. However, it now became necessary to
make some other arrangements for me. M. de Chalusse offered to find another school,
promising to take such precautions as would insure my peace of mind. But I interrupted
him before he had spoken a dozen words, declaring I would rather return to the book-
binders than chance another such experiment. And what I said I meant. A subterfuge--a
fictitious name, for instance--could alone shield me from persecution similar to what I
had endured at Sainte-Marthe. But I knew that I was incapable of playing such a part--I
felt that I should somehow confess everything. My firmness imparted some resolution to
M. de Chalusse. He exclaimed, with an oath, that I was right--that he was weary of all
this deception and concealment, and that he would make arrangements to have me near
him. 'Yes,' he concluded, embracing me, 'the die is cast, come what may!'
"However, these measures required a certain delay; and, in the meantime, he decided to
install me in Paris, which is the only place where one can successfully hide from prying
eyes. He purchased a small but convenient house, surrounded by a garden, in the
neighborhood of the Luxembourg Palace, and here he installed me, with two old women
and a trusty man-servant. As I needed a chaperon, he went in quest of one, and found
Madame Leon."
On hearing this name, the magistrate gave the young girl a searching look, as if he hoped
to discover what estimate she had formed of the housekeeper's character, as well as what
degree of confidence she had granted her. But Mademoiselle Marguerite's face remained
unaltered in expression.
"After so many trials," she resumed, "I thought I should now find rest and peace. Yes, I
believed so; and the few months I spent in that quiet house will be the happiest of my