“You will excuse me, I know,” said General Berthelin, speaking to all the persons present, with his hand on the library door, “if I leave you. I have bad news to break to my daughter, and private business after that to settle with a friend.”
He saluted the company, with his usual bluff nod of the head, and entered the library. A few minutes afterward, Trudaine and Lomaque left the house.
“You will find your sister waiting for you in our apartment at the hotel,” said the latter. “She knows nothing, absolutely nothing, of what has passed.”
“But the recognition?” asked Trudaine, amazedly. “His mother saw her. Surely she—”
“I managed it so that she should be seen, and should not see. Our former experience of Danville suggested to me the propriety of making the experiment, and my old police-office practice came in useful in carrying it out. I saw the carriage standing at the door, and waited till the old lady came down. I walked your sister away as she got in, and walked her back again past the window as the carriage drove off. A moment did it, and it turned out as useful as I thought it would. Enough of that! Go back now to your sister. Keep indoors till the night mail starts for Rouen. I have had two places taken for you on speculation. Go! resume possession of your house, and leave me here to transact the business which my employer has intrusted to me, and to see how matters end with Danville and his mother. I will make time somehow to come and bid you good-by at Rouen, though it should be only for a single day. Bah! no thanks. Give us your hand. I was ashamed to take it eight years ago—I can give it a hearty shake now! There is your way; here is mine. Leave me to my business in silks and satins, and go you back to your sister, and help her to pack up for the night mail.”
Three more days have passed. It is evening. Rose, Trudaine and Lomaque are seated together on the bench that overlooks the windings of the Seine. The old familiar scene spreads before them, beautiful as ever—unchanged, as if it was but yesterday since they had all looked on it for the last time.
They talk together seriously and in low voices. The same recollections fill their hearts—recollections which they refrain from acknowledging, but the influence of which each knows by instinct that the other partakes. Sometimes one leads the conversation, sometimes another; but whoever speaks, the topic chosen is always, as if by common consent, a topic connected with the future.
The evening darkens in, and Rose is the first to rise from the bench. A secret look of intelligence passes between her and her brother, and then she speaks to Lomaque.
“Will you follow me into the house,” she asks, “with as little delay as possible? I have something that I very much wish to show you.”
Her brother waits till she is out of hearing, then inquires anxiously what has happened at Paris since the night when he and Rose left it.