Now it is night. Everything is asleep at Saint-Romans after the tremendous uproar of the day. Torrents of rain continue to fall; and in the park, where the triumphal arches and the Venetian masts still lift vaguely their soaking carcasses, one can hear streams rushing down the slopes transformed into waterfalls. Everything streams or drips. A noise of water, an immense noise of water. Alone in his sumptuous room, with its lordly bed all hung with purple silks, the Nabob is still awake, turning over his own black thoughts as he strides to and fro. It is not the affront, that public outrage before all these people, that occupies him, it is not even the gross insult the Bey had flung at him in the presence of his mortal enemies. No, this southerner, whose sensations were all physical and as rapid as the firing of new guns, had already thrown off the venom of his rancour. And then, court favourites, by famous examples, are always prepared for these sudden falls. What terrifies him is that which he guesses to lie behind this affront. He reflects that all his possessions are over there, firms, counting-houses, ships, all at the mercy of the Bey, in that lawless East, that country of the ruler’s good-pleasure. Pressing his burning brow to the streaming windows, his body in a cold sweat, his hands icy, he remains looking vaguely out into the night, as dark, as obscure as his own future.
Suddenly a noise of footsteps, of precipitate knocks at the door.
“Who is there?”
“Sir,” said Noel, coming in half dressed, “it is a very urgent telegram that has been sent from the post-office by special messenger.”
“A telegram! What can there be now?”
He takes the envelope and opens it with shaking fingers. The god, struck twice already, begins to feel himself vulnerable, to know the fears, the nervous weakness of other men. Quick—to the signature. MORA! Is it possible? The duke—the duke to him! Yes, it is indeed—M-O-R-A. And above it: “Popolasca is dead. Election coming in Corsica. You are official candidate.”
Deputy! It was salvation. With that, nothing to fear. No one dares treat a representative of the great French nation as a mere swindler. The Hemerlingues were finely defeated.
“Oh, my duke, my noble duke!”
He was so full of emotion that he could not sign his name. Suddenly: “Where is the man who brought this telegram?”
“Here, M. Jansoulet,” replied a jolly south-country voice from the corridor.
He was lucky, that postman.
“Come in,” said the Nabob. And giving him the receipt, he took in a heap from his pockets—ever full—as many gold pieces as his hands could hold, and threw them into the cap of the poor fellow, who stuttered, distracted and dazzled by the fortune showered upon him, in the night of this fairy palace.