“My father speculated at the bourse,” he stammered. “And he led a scandalous conduct, keeping up, away from home, a style of living which must have absorbed immense sums.”
“We knew nothing of it, sir; and our first suspicions were aroused by what the commissary of police told us.”
The judge insisted no more; and in a tone which indicated that his question was a mere matter of form, and he attached but little importance to the answer,
“You have no news from your father?” he asked.
“And you have no idea where he has gone?”
“None in the least.”
M. d’Avranchel had already resumed his seat at the table, and was again busy with his papers.
“You may retire,” he said. “You will be notified if I need you.”
Maxence felt much discouraged when he joined M. de Tregars at the entrance of the gallery.
“The judge is convinced of M. de Thaller’s entire innocence,” he said.
But as soon as he had narrated, with a fidelity that did honor to his memory, all that had just occurred,
“Nothing is lost yet,” declared M. de Tregars. And, taking from his pocket the bill for two trunks, which had been found in M. Favoral’s portfolio,
“There,” he said, “we shall know our fate.”
M. de Tregars and Maxence were in luck. They had a good driver and a fair horse; and in twenty minutes they were at the trunk store. As soon as the cab stopped,
“Well,” exclaimed M. de Tregars, “I suppose it has to be done.”
And, with the look of a man who has made up his mind to do something which is extremely repugnant to him, he jumped out, and, followed by Maxence, entered the shop.
It was a modest establishment; and the people who kept it, husband and wife, seeing two customers coming in, rushed to meet them, with that welcoming smile which blossoms upon the lips of every Parisian shopkeeper.
“What will you have, gentlemen?”
And, with wonderful volubility, they went on enumerating every article which they had for sale in their shop,—from the “indispensable-necessary,” containing seventy-seven pieces of solid silver, and costing four thousand francs, down to the humblest carpet-bag at thirty-nine cents.
But Marius de Tregars interrupted them as soon as he could get an opportunity, and, showing them their bill,
“It was here, wasn’t it,” he inquired, “that the two trunks were bought which are charged in this bill?”
“Yes, sir,” answered simultaneously both husband and wife.
“When were they delivered?”
“Our porter went to deliver them, less than two hours after they were bought.”
By this time the shopkeepers were beginning to exchange uneasy looks.
“Why do you ask?” inquired the woman in a tone which indicated that she had the settled intention not to answer, unless for good and valid reason.