Bravely, and without flinching, she sustained his look; and, in a firm voice:
“I shall always be indisposed,” she replied, “when M. Costeclar calls. You hear me, don’t you, father—always!”
But the cashier of the Credit Mutual was not one of those men whose wrath finds vent in mere sarcasms. Rising suddenly to his feet:
“By the holy heavens!” he screamed forth, “you are wrong to trifle thus with my will; for, all of you here, I shall crush you as I do this glass.”
And, with a frenzied gesture, he dashed the glass he held in his hand against the wall, where it broke in a thousand pieces. Trembling like a leaf, Mme. Favoral staggered upon her chair.
“Better kill her at once,” said Mlle. Gilberte coldly. “She would suffer less.”
It was by a torrent of invective that M. Favoral replied. His rage, dammed up for the past four days, finding at last an outlet, flowed in gross insults and insane threats. He spoke of throwing out in the street his wife and children, or starving them out, or shutting up his daughter in a house of correction; until at last, language failing his fury, beside himself, he left, swearing that he would bring M. Costeclar home himself, and then they would see.
“Very well, we shall see,” said Mlle. Gilberte.
Motionless in his place, and white as a plaster cast, Maxence had witnessed this lamentable scene. A gleam of common-sense had enabled him to control his indignation, and to remain silent. He had understood, that, at the first word, his father’s fury would have turned against him; and then what might have happened? The most frightful dramas of the criminal courts have often had no other origin.
“No, this is no longer bearable!” he exclaimed.
Even at the time of his greatest follies, Maxence had always had for his sister a fraternal affection. He admired her from the day she had stood up before him to reproach him for his misconduct. He envied her her quiet determination, her patient tenacity, and that calm energy that never failed her.
“Have patience, my poor Gilberte,” he added: “the day is not far, I hope, when I may commence to repay you all you have done for me. I have not lost my time since you restored me my reason. I have arranged with my creditors. I have found a situation, which, if not brilliant, is at least sufficiently lucrative to enable me before long to offer you, as well as to our mother, a peaceful retreat.”
“But it is to-morrow,” interrupted Mme. Favoral, “to-morrow that your father is to bring M. Costeclar. He has said so, and he will do it.”
And so he did. About two o’clock in the afternoon M. Favoral and his protege arrived in the Rue St. Gilles, in that famous coupe with the two horses, which excited the wonder of the neighbors.