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The American eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 397 pages of information about The American.

“Something happened to your father?” said Newman, urgently.

Valentin looked at him, still more wide-eyed.  “He didn’t get well.”

“Get well of what?”

But the immense effort which Valentin had made, first to decide to utter these words and then to bring them out, appeared to have taken his last strength.  He lapsed again into silence, and Newman sat watching him.  “Do you understand?” he began again, presently.  “At Fleurieres.  You can find out.  Mrs. Bread knows.  Tell her I begged you to ask her.  Then tell them that, and see.  It may help you.  If not, tell, every one.  It will—­it will”—­here Valentin’s voice sank to the feeblest murmur—­“it will avenge you!”

The words died away in a long, soft groan.  Newman stood up, deeply impressed, not knowing what to say; his heart was beating violently.  “Thank you,” he said at last.  “I am much obliged.”  But Valentin seemed not to hear him, he remained silent, and his silence continued.  At last Newman went and opened the door.  M. le cure reentered, bearing his sacred vessel and followed by the three gentlemen and by Valentin’s servant.  It was almost processional.

CHAPTER XX

Valentin de Bellegarde died, tranquilly, just as the cold, faint March dawn began to illumine the faces of the little knot of friends gathered about his bedside.  An hour afterwards Newman left the inn and drove to Geneva; he was naturally unwilling to be present at the arrival of Madame de Bellegarde and her first-born.  At Geneva, for the moment, he remained.  He was like a man who has had a fall and wants to sit still and count his bruises.  He instantly wrote to Madame de Cintre, relating to her the circumstances of her brother’s death—­with certain exceptions—­and asking her what was the earliest moment at which he might hope that she would consent to see him.  M. Ledoux had told him that he had reason to know that Valentin’s will—­Bellegarde had a great deal of elegant personal property to dispose of—­contained a request that he should be buried near his father in the church-yard of Fleurieres, and Newman intended that the state of his own relations with the family should not deprive him of the satisfaction of helping to pay the last earthly honors to the best fellow in the world.  He reflected that Valentin’s friendship was older than Urbain’s enmity, and that at a funeral it was easy to escape notice.  Madame de Cintre’s answer to his letter enabled him to time his arrival at Fleurieres.  This answer was very brief; it ran as follows:—­

“I thank you for your letter, and for your being with Valentin.  It is a most inexpressible sorrow to me that I was not.  To see you will be nothing but a distress to me; there is no need, therefore, to wait for what you call brighter days.  It is all one now, and I shall have no brighter days.  Come when you please; only notify me first.  My brother is to be buried here on Friday, and my family is to remain here.  C. de C.”

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