M. de Breulh’s noble nature enabled him to understand Andre’s scruples; his feelings, however, would not for the instant enable him to speak. He slowly put the notes back in their receptacle, and then said in a low voice,—
“Your conduct is that of an honorable man; and remember this, at all times and seasons you may rely upon De Breulh-Faverlay. Farewell!”
As soon as he was alone, Andre threw himself into an armchair, and mused over this unexpected interview, which had proved a source of such solace to his feelings. All that he now longed for was a letter from Sabine. At this moment the portress entered with a letter. Andre was so occupied with his thoughts that he hardly noticed this act of condescension on the part of the worthy woman.
“A letter!” exclaimed he; and, tearing it open, he glanced at the signature. But Sabine’s name was not there; it was signed Modeste. What could Sabine’s maid have to say to him? He felt that some great misfortune was impending, and, trembling with excitement, he read the letter.
“I write to tell you that my mistress has succeeded in the matter she spoke of to you; but I am sorry to say that I have bad news to give you, for she is seriously ill.”
“Ill!” exclaimed Andre, crushing up the letter in his hands, and dashing it upon the floor. “Ill! ill!” he repeated, not heeding the presence of the portress; “why, she may be dead;” and, snatching up his hat, he dashed downstairs into the street.
As soon as the portress was left alone, she picked up the letter, smoothed it out, and read it.
“And so,” murmured she, “the little lady’s name was Sabine—a pretty name; and she is ill, is she? I expect that the old gent who called this morning, and asked so many questions about M. Andre, would give a good deal for this note; but no, that would not be fair.”
A COUNCIL OF WAR.
Mad with his terrible forebodings, Andre hurried through the streets in the direction of the Hotel de Mussidan, caring little for the attention that his excited looks and gestures caused. He had no fixed plan as to what to do when he arrived there, and it was only on reaching the Rue de Matignon that he recovered sufficient coolness to deliberate and reflect.
He had arrived at the desired spot; how should he set to work to obtain the information that he required? The evening was a dark one, and the gas-lamps showed a feeble light through the dull February fog. There were no signs of life in the Rue de Matignon, and the silence was only broken by the continuous surge of carriage wheels in the Faubourg Saint Honore. This gloom, and the inclemency of the weather, added to the young painter’s depression. He saw his utter helplessness, and felt that he could not move a step without compromising the woman he so madly adored. He walked to the gate of the house, hoping