Tremorel thought his friend talked very lightly about a serious matter, and this flippancy vexed him.
“To finish up, I paid a visit to Miss Jenny. She has been abed since last evening, and her chambermaid told me she had not ceased sobbing bitterly ever since your departure.”
“Had she seen no one?”
“Nobody at all. She really thought you dead, and when I told her you were here with me, alive and well, I thought she would go mad for joy. Do you know, Hector, she’s really pretty.”
“And a very good little body, I imagine. She told me some very touching things. I would wager, my friend, that she don’t care so much for your money as she does for yourself.”
Hector smiled superciliously.
“In short, she was anxious to follow me, to see and speak to you. I had to swear with terrible oaths that she should see you to-morrow, before she would let me go; not at Paris, as you said you would never go there, but at Corbeil.”
“Ah, as for that—”
“She will be at the station to-morrow at twelve. We will go down together, and I will take the train for Paris. You can get into the Corbeil train, and breakfast with Miss Jenny at the hotel of the Belle Image.”
Hector began to offer an objection. Sauvresy stopped him with a gesture.
“Not a word,” said he. “Here is my wife.”
On going to bed, that night, the count was less enchanted than ever with the devotion of his friend Sauvresy. There is not a diamond on which a spot cannot be found with a microscope.
“Here he is,” thought he, “abusing his privileges as the saver of my life. Can’t a man do you a service, without continually making you feel it? It seems as though because he prevented me from blowing my brains out, I had somehow become something that belongs to him! He came very near upbraiding me for Jenny’s extravagance. Where will he stop?”
The next day at breakfast he feigned indisposition so as not to eat, and suggested to Sauvresy that he would lose the train.
Bertha, as on the evening before, crouched at the window to see them go away. Her troubles during the past eight-and-forty hours had been so great that she hardly recognized herself. She scarcely dared to reflect or to descend to the depths of her heart. What mysterious power did this man possess, to so violently affect her life? She wished that he would go, never to return, while at the same time she avowed to herself that in going he would carry with him all her thoughts. She struggled under the charm, not knowing whether she ought to rejoice or grieve at the inexpressible emotions which agitated her, being irritated to submit to an influence stronger than her own will.