The Count's Millions
On hearing M. de Valorsay's name, Mademoiselle Marguerite and the magistrate
exchanged glances full of wondering conjecture. The girl was undecided what course to
pursue; but the magistrate put an end to her perplexity. "Ask the marquis to come up," he
said to the servant.
The footman left the room; and, as soon as he had disappeared, Mademoiselle Marguerite
exclaimed: "What, monsieur! after all I have told you, you still wish me to receive him?"
"It is absolutely necessary that you should do so. You must know what he wishes and
what hope brings him here. Calm yourself, and submit to necessity."
In a sort of bewilderment, the girl hastily arranged her disordered dress, and caught up
her wavy hair which had fallen over her shoulders. "Ah! monsieur," she remarked, "don't
you understand that he still believes me to be the count's heiress? In his eyes, I am still
surrounded by the glamor of the millions which are mine no longer."
"Hush! here he comes!"
The Marquis de Valorsay was indeed upon the threshold, and a moment later he entered
the room. He was clad with the exquisite taste of those intelligent gentlemen to whom the
color of a pair of trousers is a momentous matter, and whose ambition is satisfied if they
are regarded as a sovereign authority respecting the cut of a waistcoat. As a rule, his
expression of face merely denoted supreme contentment with himself and indifference as
to others, but now, strange to say, he looked grave and almost solemn. His right leg--the
unfortunate limb which had been broken when he fell from his horse in Ireland--seemed
stiff, and dragged a trifle more than usual, but this was probably solely due to the
influence of the atmosphere. He bowed to Mademoiselle Marguerite with every mark of
profound respect, and without seeming to notice the magistrate's presence.
"You will excuse me, I trust, mademoiselle," said he, "in having insisted upon seeing
you, so that I might express my deep sympathy. I have just heard of the terrible
misfortune which has befallen you--the sudden death of your father."
She drew back as if she were terrified, and repeated: "My father!"
The marquis did not evince the slightest surprise. "I know," said he, in a voice which he
tried to make as feeling as possible, "I know that M. de Chalusse kept this fact concealed
from you; but he confided his secret to me."
"To you?" interrupted the magistrate, who was unable to restrain himself any longer.
The marquis turned haughtily to this old man dressed in black, and in the dry tone one
uses in speaking to an indiscreet inferior, he replied: "To me, yes, monsieur; and he