Mascarin lost his patience, and with a deep frown, replied,—
“That is enough. We require no more argument, I am the master, and it is for you to obey.”
When Mascarin adopted this tone, resistance was out of the question; and as he invariably made all yield to him, it was best to obey with a good grace, and Catenac relapsed into silence, completely subjugated and very much puzzled.
“Sit down at my desk,” continued Mascarin, “and take careful notes of what I now say. Success is, as I have told you, inevitable, but I must be ably backed. All now depends upon your exactitude in obeying my orders; one false step may ruin us all. You have heard this, and cannot say that you are not fully warned.”
A sudden check.
Catenac seated himself at the writing-table without a word, concealing his anger and jealousy beneath a careless smile. Mascarin was no longer the plotter consulting with his confederates; he was the master issuing his orders to his subordinates. He had now taken from a box some of those square pieces of pasteboard, which he spent his time in reading over.
“Try and not miss one word of what I am saying,” remarked he, bending his keen glance upon Paul; then, turning to Catenac, he continued, “Can you persuade the Duke de Champdoce and Perpignan to start for Vendome on Saturday?”
“Perhaps I may be able to do so.”
“I want a Yes or No. Can you or can you not make these people go there?”
“Well, yes, then.”
“Very well. Then, on going to Vendome, you will stop at the Hotel de Porte.”
“Hotel de Porte,” repeated Catenac, as he made a note of the name.
“Upon the day of your arrival at Vendome,” continued Mascarin, “you could do very little. Your time would be taken up in resting after your journey, and perhaps you may make a few preliminary inquiries. It will be on Sunday that you will go to the hospital together, and make the same inquires which the Duke formerly made by himself. The lady superior is a woman of excellent taste and education, and she will do all that she can to be useful to you. Through her you will be able to obtain the boy’s description, and the date on which he left the hospital to be apprenticed to a tanner. She will tell you that, disliking the employment, he ran away from them at the age of twelve and a half years, and that since then no trace of him has been found. You will hear from her that he was a tall, well-built lad, looking two years older than he really was, with an intelligent cast of feature, and keen, bright eyes, full of health and good looks. He had on, on the day of his disappearance, blue and white striped trousers, a gray blouse, a cap with no peak, and a spotted silk cravat. Then to assist you still further in your researches she will add that he carried in a bundle, enveloped in a red plaid cotton handkerchief, a white blouse, a pair of gray cloth trousers, and a pair of new shoes.”