“It seems it is you who were afraid,” retorted Tantaine.
“You do not know me when you say that,” said Perpignan.
“If you were not afraid,” asked Tantaine, in his most oily voice, “why did you not carry out your plan?”
“Because there was one obstacle that could not be got over.”
“Well, I can’t see it myself,” returned Tantaine, desirous of hearing every detail.
“Ah, there is one thing that I omitted in my narrative. The Duke informed me that he could prove the identity of the boy by certain scars.”
“Scars? And of what kind, pray?”
“Now you are asking me too much. I do not know.”
On receiving this reply, Tantaine rose hastily from his chair, and thus concealed his agitation from his companion.
“I have a hundred apologies to make for taking up so much of your valuable time. My master has got it into his head that you were after the same game as ourselves. He was mistaken, and now we leave the field clear to you.”
Before Perpignan could make any reply, the old man had passed through the doorway. On the threshold he paused, and said,—
“Were I in your place, I would stick to my first plan. You will never find the boy, but you will get several thousand francs out of the Duke, which I am sure will come in handy.”
“There are scars now, then,” muttered Tantaine, as he moved away from the house, “and that Master Catenac never said a word about them!”
FATHER AND SON.
Two hours after Andre had left the Avenue de Matignon, one of Mascarin’s most trusty emissaries was at his heels, who could watch his actions with the tenacity of a bloodhound. Andre, however, now that he had heard of Sabine’s convalescence, had entirely recovered the elasticity of his spirits, and would never have noticed that he was being followed. His heart, too, was much rejoiced at the friendship of M. de Breulh and the promise of assistance from the Viscountess de Bois Arden; and with the assistance of these two, he felt that he could end his difficulties.
“I must get to work again,” muttered he, as he left M. de Breulh’s hospitable house. “I have already lost too much time. To-morrow, if you look up at the scaffolding of a splendid house in the Champs Elysees, you will see me at work.”
Andre was busy all night with his plans for the rich contractor, M. Gandelu, who wanted as much ornamental work on the outside of his house as he had florid decorations within. He rose with the lark, and having gazed for a moment on Sabine’s portrait, started for the abode of M. Gandelu, the proud father of young Gaston. This celebrated contractor lived in a splendid house in the Rue Chasse d’Antin, until his more palatial residence should be completed.
When Andre presented himself at the door, an old servant, who knew him well, strongly urged him not to go up.