“My father-in-law is too closely watched to be able to keep him in his own house,” he resumed. “So he brought him to me, by night, about a week ago. I hoped to keep him out of sight in this corner, the only spot in the house where he could be safe.”
“If I can be useful to you, employ me,” said Ginevra. “I know the Marechal de Feltre.”
“Well, we’ll see,” replied the painter.
This conversation lasted too long not to be noticed by all the other girls. Servin left Ginevra, went round once more to each easel, and gave such long lessons that he was still there at the hour when the pupils were in the habit of leaving.
“You are forgetting your bag, Mademoiselle Thirion,” said the professor, running after the girl, who was now condescending to the work of a spy to satisfy her jealousy.
The baffled pupil returned for the bag, expressing surprise at her carelessness; but this act of Servin’s was to her fresh proof of the existence of a mystery, the importance of which was evident. She now ran noisily down the staircase, and slammed the door which opened into the Servins’ apartment, to give an impression that she had gone; then she softly returned and stationed herself outside the door of the studio.
When the painter and Ginevra thought themselves alone, Servin rapped in a peculiar manner on the door of the dark garret, which turned at once on its rusty and creaking hinges. Ginevra then saw a tall and well-made young man, whose Imperial uniform set her heart to beating. The officer had one arm in a sling, and the pallor of his face revealed sharp suffering. Seeing an unknown woman, he recoiled.
Amelie, who was unable to look into the room, the door being closed, was afraid to stay longer; she was satisfied with having heard the opening of the garret door, and departed noiselessly.
“Fear nothing,” said the painter to the officer. “Mademoiselle is the daughter of a most faithful friend of the Emperor, the Baron di Piombo.”
The young soldier retained no doubts as to Ginevra’s patriotism as soon as he saw her.
“You are wounded,” she said.
“Oh! it is nothing, mademoiselle,” he replied; “the wound is healing.”
Just at this moment the loud cries of the vendors of newspapers came up from the street: “Condemned to death!” They all trembled, and the soldier was the first to hear a name that turned him pale.
“Labedoyere!” he cried, falling on a stool.
They looked at each other in silence. Drops gathered on the livid forehead of the young man; he seized the black tufts of his hair in one hand with a gesture of despair, and rested his elbow on Ginevra’s easel.
“After all,” he said, rising abruptly, “Labedoyere and I knew what we were doing. We were certain of the fate that awaited us, whether from triumph or defeat. He dies for the Cause, and here am I, hiding myself!”