It seemed as if the dead man trembled slightly, and Camille exclaimed: “Thank God! this time you have given sign of life, and the insult found the way to your heart. I would be charmed to restore you to your senses. I await your commands. The day, the place, and the weapons, I leave to your choice. And, stay! You can count on my absolute discretion. No one, I give you my word, shall learn from me that your fainting-fit had ears, and resented insults. Here is my address, monsieur.”
And, drawing from his pocket a visiting-card, he tried to slip it into the cold, listless, pendent hand, which let it fall to the ground.
“What obstinacy!” he said. “As you will, M. le Comte; I am at the end of my eloquence.”
He turned his back, seated himself in a chair, and taking a paper, he unfolded it. Meanwhile the door opened, and Mme. de Lorcy appeared.
“What are you doing here, Camille?” she exclaimed.
“You see, madame,” he answered, “I am waiting until this great comedian has finished playing his piece.”
He was not aware that Mlle. Moriaz also had just entered the salon. She cast him an angry, indignant, threatening glance, in which he read his condemnation. He tried to find some word of excuse or explanation to disarm her anger, but his voice failed him. He bowed low, took his hat, and went away.
Mme. de Lorcy, very much agitated, opened a window; then she threw water into Samuel Brohl’s face, rubbed his temples with a vivacity that was not altogether exempt from roughness, and made him smell English salts.
“Ah, my dear! pray go away,” she said to Antoinette; “this is no place for you.”
Antoinette did not go away; her face contracted, her lips trembling, she seated herself aside at some distance from the sofa.
Mme. de Lorcy’s energetic exertions at last produced their effect. Samuel Brohl was not dead; a quiver ran through his frame, his limbs relaxed, and at the end of a few instants he reopened his eyes, then his mouth; he sat up, and stammered: “Where am I? What has happened? Ah, my God! it was but a moment ago that she was here!”
Mme. de Lorcy laid her hand on his mouth, and, bending over his ears, she said, in a severe, imperious tone, “She is here still!”
She did not succeed in making herself understood. One only recovers by degrees from such a fainting-fit. Samuel Brohl was again overcome by weakness; his eyes closed once more, and he let his head sink between his hands. After a silence of a few moments he said, in a choked voice: “Ah! pardon me, madame. I am ashamed of myself. My courage failed me; my strength betrayed me. I love her madly, and I had sworn never to see her again. It was in order to fly from her that I was going away.”
He raised his head; he saw Antoinette; he looked wildly at her, as though he did not recognise her.