Within an Inch of His LifeWithin an Inch of His Life
At Sauveterre, everybody, M. de Chandore as much as Jacques himself, blamed the
Marquis de Boiscoran. He persisted in remaining in Paris, it is true: but it was certainly
not from indifference; for he was dying with anxiety. He had shut himself up, and refused
to see even his oldest friends, even his beloved dealers in curiosities. He never went out;
the dust accumulated on his collections; and nothing could arouse him from this state of
prostration, except a letter from Sauveterre.
Every morning he received three or four,--from the marchioness or M. Folgat, from M.
Seneschal or M. Magloire, from M. de Chandore, Dionysia, or even from Dr. Seignebos.
Thus he could follow at a distance all the phases, and even the smallest changes, in the
proceedings. Only one thing he would not do: he would not come down, however
important his coming might be for his son. He did not move.
Once only he had received, through Dionysia's agency, a letter from Jacques himself; and
then he ordered his servant to get ready his trunks for the same evening. But at the last
moment he had given counter-orders, saying that he had reconsidered, and would not go.
"There is something extraordinary going on in the mind of the marquis," said the servants
to each other.
The fact is, he spent his days, and a part of his nights, in his cabinet, half-buried in an
arm-chair, resting little, and sleeping still less, insensible to all that went on around him.
On his table he had arranged all his letters from Sauveterre in order; and he read and re-
read them incessantly, examining the phrases, and trying, ever in vain, to disengage the
truth from this mass of details and statements. He was no longer as sure of his son as at
first: far from it! Every day had brought him a new doubt; every letter, additional
uncertainty. Hence he was all the time a prey to most harassing apprehensions. He put
them aside; but they returned, stronger and more irresistible than before like the waves of
the rising tide.
He was thus one morning in his cabinet. It was very early yet; but he was more than ever
suffering from anxiety, for M. Folgat had written, "To-morrow all uncertainty will end.
To-morrow the close confinement will be raised, and M. Jacques will see M. Magloire,
the counsel whom he has chosen. We will write immediately."
It was for this news the marquis was waiting now. Twice already he had rung to inquire if
the mail had not come yet, when all of a sudden his valet appeared and with a frightened
"The marchioness. She has just come with Anthony, M. Jacques's own man."