“Very well,” answered his friend, with sullen resignation, “then I will give in.”
De Clinchain heaved a deep sigh of relief, for he, not knowing what had passed before, had expected to have had a much more difficult task in persuading his friend.
“You are acting like a reasonable man for once in your life,” said he.
“You think so, because I give ear to your timorous advice. A thousand curses on that idiotic habit of yours of putting on paper not only your own secrets, but those of others.”
But at this remark Clinchain mounted his hobby.
“Do not talk like that,” said he. “Had you not committed the act, it would not have appeared in my diary.”
Chilled to the very bone, and quivering like an aspen leaf, Sabine had listened to every word. The reality was even more dreadful than she had dreamed of. There was a hidden sorrow, a crime in her father’s past life.
Again the Count spoke. “There is no use in recrimination. We cannot wipe out the past, and must, therefore, submit. I promise you, on my honor, that this day I will write to De Breulh, and tell him this marriage must be given up.”
These words threw the balm of peace and safety into De Clinchain’s soul, but the excess of joy was too much for him, and murmuring, “Too much breakfast, and the shock of too violent an emotion,” he sank back, fainting, on a couch.
The Count de Mussidan was terrified, he pulled the bell furiously, and the domestics rushed in, followed by the Countess. Restoratives were applied, and in ten minutes the Baron opened one eye, and raised himself on his elbow.
“I am better now,” said he, with a faint smile. “It is weakness and dizziness. I know what I ought to take—two spoonfuls of eau des carmes in a glass of sugar and water, with perfect repose of both mind and body. Fortunately, my carriage is here. Pray, be prudent, Mussidan.” And, leaning upon the arm of one of the lackeys, he staggered feebly out, leaving the Count and Countess alone, and Sabine still listening from her post of espial in the card-room.
HUSBAND AND WIFE.
Ever since Mascarin’s visit, the Count de Mussidan had been in a deplorable state of mind. Forgetting the injury to his foot, he passed the night pacing up and down the library, cudgelling his brains for some means of breaking the meshes of the net in which he was entangled. He knew the necessity for immediate action, for he felt sure that this demand would only be the forerunner of numerous others of a similar character. He thought over and dismissed many schemes. Sometimes he had almost decided to go to the police authorities and make a clean breast; then the idea of placing the affair in the hands of a private detective occurred to him; but the more he deliberated, the more he realized the strength of the cord that bound him, and the scandal which exposure