He set himself to work, therefore, hurried on his business with an activity which nothing could discourage, neither Oriental discursiveness—that refined fair-spoken politeness, under which is hidden ferocity—nor coolly indifferent smiles, nor averted looks, invoking divine fatalism when human lies fail. The self-possession of this southerner, in whom was condensed, as it were, all the exuberance of his compatriots, served him as well as his perfect knowledge of French law, of which the Code of Tunis is only a disfigured copy.
By his diplomacy and discretion, in spite of the intrigues of Hemerlingue’s son—who was very influential at the Bardo—he succeeded in withdrawing from confiscation the money lent by the Nabob some months before, and to snatch ten millions out of fifteen from Mohammed’s rapacity. The very morning of the day on which the money was to be paid over, he received from Paris the news of the unseating of Jansoulet. He hurried at once to the Palace to arrive there before the news, and on his return with the ten millions in bills on Marseilles secure in his pocket-book, he passed young Hemerlingue’s carriage, with his three mules at full gallop. The thin owl’s face was radiant. De Gery understood that if he remained many hours at Tunis his bills ran the risk of being confiscated, so took his place at once on an Italian packet which was sailing next morning for Genoa, passed the night on board, and was only easy in his mind when he saw far behind him white Tunis with her gulf and the rocks of Cape Carthage spread out before her. On entering Genoa, the steamer while making for the quay passed near a great yacht with the Tunisian flag flying. De Gery felt greatly excited, and for a moment believed that she had come in pursuit of him, and that on landing he might be seized by the Italian police like a common thief. But the yacht was swinging peacefully at anchor, her sailors cleaning the deck or repainting the red siren of her figurehead, as if they were expecting someone of importance. Paul had not the curiosity to ask who this personage was. He crossed the marble city, and returned by the coast railway from Genoa to Marseilles—that marvellous route where one passes suddenly from the blackness of the tunnels to the dazzling light of the blue sea.
At Savona the train stopped, and the passengers were told that they could go no farther, as one of the little bridges over the torrents which rush from the mountains to the sea had been broken during the night. They must wait for the engineer and the break-down gang, already summoned by telegraph; wait perhaps a half day. It was early morning. The Italian town was waking in one of those veiled dawns which forecast great heat for the day. While the dispersed travellers took refuge in the hotels, installed themselves in the cafes, and others visited the town, de Gery, chafing at the delay, tried to think of some means of saving these few hours. He thought of