When Cheditafa heard the order, he was beset by a new consternation. He had been greatly troubled when his mistress had gone to the Gardens the first time—not because there was anything strange in that, for any lady might like to walk in such a beautiful place, but because she was alone, and, with a Rackbird in Paris, his lady ought never to be alone. She had come out safely, and he had breathed again, and now, now she wanted to go back! He must tell her about that Rackbird man. He had been thinking and thinking about telling her all the way back to the hotel, but he had feared to frighten her, and he had also been afraid to say that he had done what he had been ordered not to do, and had told some one that she was the captain’s wife. But when he had reached the Gardens, he felt that he must say something—she must not walk about alone. Accordingly, as Edna stepped out of the carriage, he began to speak to her, but, contrary to her usual custom, she paid no attention to him, simply telling him to wait until she came back.
Edna was obliged to wander about for some time before Banker appeared.
“Now, then, madam,” said he, “don’t let us waste any time on this business. Have you the money with you?”
“I have,” said she. “But before I give it to you, I tell you that I do so under protest, and that this conduct of yours shall be reported. I consider it a most shameful thing, and I do not willingly pay you for what, no doubt, you have been sufficiently paid before.”
“That’s all very well,” said Banker. “I don’t mind a bit what you say to me. I don’t mind your being angry—in fact, I think you ought to be. In your place, I would be angry. But if you will hand me the money—”
“Silence!” exclaimed Edna. “Not another word. Where is my letter?”
“Here it is,” said Banker, drawing the letter he had prepared from his pocket, and holding it in such a position that she could read the address. “You see, it is marked, ‘by private hand,’ and this is the private hand that has brought it to you. Now, if you will count out the money, and will hand it to me, I will give you the letter. That is perfectly fair, isn’t it?”
Edna leaned forward and looked at it. When she saw the superscription, she was astonished, and stepped back.
“What do you mean?” she exclaimed, and was about to angrily assert that she was not Madame Raminez, when Banker interrupted her. The sight of her pocket-book within two feet of his hands threw him into a state of avaricious excitement.
“I want you to give me that money, and take your letter!” he said savagely. “I can’t stand here fooling.”
[Illustration: “I want you to give me that money, and take your letter!” he said savagely.]
Edna firmly gripped her pocket-book, and was about to scream, but there was no occasion for it. It had been simply impossible for Cheditafa to remain on the carriage and let her go into the Gardens alone; he had followed her, and, behind some bushes, he had witnessed the interview between her and Banker. He saw that the man was speaking roughly to her and threatening her. Instantly he rushed toward the two, and at the very top of his voice he yelled: