The Honor of the Name
The twenty-four hours which Blanche had spent in measuring the extent of her terrible
misfortune, the duke had spent in raving and swearing.
He had not even thought of going to bed.
After his fruitless search for his son he returned to the chateau, and began a continuous
tramp to and fro in the great hall.
He was almost sinking from weariness when his son's letter was handed him.
It was very brief.
Martial did not vouchsafe any explanation; he did not even mention the rupture between
his wife and himself.
"I cannot return to Sairmeuse," he wrote, "and yet it is of the utmost importance that I
should see you.
"You will, I trust, approve my determinations when I explain the reasons that have
guided me in making them.
"Come to Montaignac, then, the sooner the better. I am waiting for you."
Had he listened to the prompting of his impatience, the duke would have started at once.
But how could he thus abandon the Marquis de Courtornieu, who had accepted his
hospitality, and especially Blanche, his son's wife?
He must, at least, see them, speak to them, and warn them of his intended departure.
He attempted this in vain. Mme. Blanche had shut herself up in her own apartments, and
remained deaf to all entreaties for admittance. Her father had been put to bed, and the
physician who had been summoned to attend him, declared the marquis to be at death's
The duke was therefore obliged to resign himself to the prospect of another night of
suspense, which was almost intolerable to a character like his.
"To-morrow, after breakfast, I will find some pretext to escape, without telling them I am
going to see Martial," he thought.
He was spared this trouble. The next morning, at about nine o'clock, while he was
dressing, a servant came to inform him that M. de Courtornieu and his daughter were
awaiting him in the drawing-room.