Thus the efforts of the Duke of Vallombreuse, to advance his suit and to get rid of his rival, had once more failed ignominiously.
CHAPTER XIV. LAMPOURDE’S DELICACY
It is easy to imagine the frame of mind in which the Duke of Vallombreuse returned home after his repulse by Isabelle, and her rescue from his arms by the timely intervention of her friends, the comedians. At sight of his face, fairly livid and contorted with suppressed rage, his servants trembled and shrunk away from him—as well they might—for his natural cruelty was apt to vent itself upon the first unhappy dependent that happened to come in his way when his wrath was excited. He was not an easy master to serve, even in his most genial mood—this haughty, exacting young nobleman—and in his frantic fits of anger he was more savage and relentless than a half-starved tiger. Upon entering his own house he rushed through it like a whirlwind, shutting every door behind him with such a violent bang that the very walls shook, and pieces of the gilt mouldings round the panels were snapped off, and scattered on the floor. When he reached his own room he flung down his hat with such force that it was completely flattened, and the feather broken short off. Then, unable to breathe freely, he tore open his rich velvet pourpoint, as he rushed frantically to and fro, without any regard for the superb diamond buttons that fastened it, which flew in every direction. The exquisitely fine lace ruffles round his neck were reduced to shreds in a second, and with a vigorous kick he knocked over a large arm-chair that stood in his way, and left it upside down, with its legs in the air.
“The impudent little hussy!” he cried, as he continued his frenzied walk, like a wild beast in a cage. “I have a great mind to have her thrown into prison, there to be well-whipped, and have her hair shaved off, before being sent to a lunatic asylum—or better still to some strict convent where they take in bad girls who have been forcibly rescued from lives of infamy. I could easily manage it. But no, it would be worse than useless—persecution would only make her hate me more, and would not make her love that cursed de Sigognac a bit less. How can I punish her? what on earth shall I do?” and still he paced restlessly to and fro, cursing and swearing, and raving like a madman. While he was indulging in these transports of rage, without paying any attention to how the time was passing, evening drew on, and it was rapidly growing dark when his faithful Picard, full of commiseration, screwed up his courage to the highest point, and ventured to go softly in—though he had not been called, and was disobeying orders—to light the candles in his master’s room; thinking that he was quite gloomy enough already without being left in darkness as well, and hoping that the lights might help to make him more cheerful. They did seem to afford him some relief, in that they caused a diversion; for his thoughts, which had been all of Isabelle and her cruel repulse of his passionate entreaties, suddenly flew to his successful rival, the Baron de Sigognac.