When a man has laid a plot like that du Tillet was scheming against Nathan, he confides it to no man. Nucingen knew something of it, but his wife knew nothing. The baroness, however, aware that Raoul was embarrassed, was not the dupe of the two sisters; she guessed into whose hands that money was to go, and she was delighted to oblige the countess; moreover, she felt a deep compassion for all such embarrassments. Rastignac, so placed that he was able to fathom the manoeuvres of the two bankers, came to breakfast that morning with Madame de Nucingen.
Delphine and Rastignac had no secrets from each other; and the baroness related to him her scene with the countess. Eugene, who had never supposed that Delphine could be mixed up in the affair, which was only accessory to his eyes,—one means among many others,—opened her eyes to the truth. She had probably, he told her, destroyed du Tillet’s chances of selection, and rendered useless the intrigues and deceptions of the past year. In short, he put her in the secret of the whole affair, advising her to keep absolute silence as to the mistake she had just committed.
“Provided the cashier does not tell Nucingen,” she said.
A few moments after mid-day, while du Tillet was breakfasting, Monsieur Gigonnet was announced.
“Let him come in,” said the banker, though his wife was at table. “Well, my old Shylock, is our man locked up?”
“Why not? Didn’t I give you the address, rue du Mail, hotel—”
“He has paid up,” said Gigonnet, drawing from his wallet a pile of bank-bills. Du Tillet looked furious. “You should never frown at money,” said his impassible associate; “it brings ill-luck.”
“Where did you get that money, madame?” said du Tillet, suddenly turning upon his wife with a look which made her color to the roots of her hair.
“I don’t know what your question means,” she said.
“I will fathom this mystery,” he cried, springing furiously up. “You have upset my most cherished plans.”
“You are upsetting your breakfast,” said Gigonnet, arresting the table-clock, which was dragged by the skirt of du Tillet’s dressing-gown.
Madame du Tillet rose to leave the room, for her husband’s words alarmed her. She rang the bell, and a footman entered.
“The carriage,” she said. “And call Virginie; I wish to dress.”
“Where are you going?” exclaimed du Tillet.
“Well-bred husbands do not question their wives,” she answered. “I believe that you lay claim to be a gentleman.”
“I don’t recognize you ever since you have seen more of your impertinent sister.”
“You ordered me to be impertinent, and I am practising on you,” she replied.
“Your servant, madame,” said Gigonnet, taking leave, not anxious to witness this family scene.
Du Tillet looked fixedly at his wife, who returned the look without lowering her eyes.