“For I wish you to become accustomed to independent action, so that at my death your sudden liberty may not intoxicate you.”
The Duke then rose from his seat, and took a highly finished gun from a cupboard.
“I have been very much pleased with you for some time past,” said he, “and this is a sign of my satisfaction. The gamekeeper has brought in a thoroughly trained dog, which will also be yours. Shoot as much as you like, and, as you cannot go about without money in your pocket, take this, but be careful of it; for remember that extravagance on your part will procrastinate the day upon which our descendants will resume their proper station in the world.”
The Duke spoke for some time longer, but his son paid no heed to his words, and was too much astonished to accept the six five-franc pieces which his father tendered to him.
“I suppose,” said the Duke at last in angry accents, “that you will have the grace to thank me.”
“You will find that I am not ungrateful,” stammered Norbert, aroused by this reproach.
The Duke turned away impatiently.
“What has the boy got into his head now?” muttered he.
It was owing to the advice of the priest of Bevron that the Duke had acted as he had done; but this indulgence came too late, for Norbert’s detestation of his tyrant was too deeply buried in his heart to be easily eradicated.
A gun was not such a wonderful present after all—a matter of a few francs, perhaps. Had the Duke offered him the means of a better education, it would be a different matter; but as it was, he would still remain the “Young Savage of Champdoce.”
However, Norbert took advantage of the permission accorded to him, and rambled daily over the estate with his gun and his dog Bruno, to which he had become very much attached. His thoughts often wandered to Daumon; but he had made inquiries, and had heard that the Counsellor was a most dangerous man, who would stick at nothing; but for all that, he had made up his mind to go back to him again for further advice, though his better nature warned him of the precipice on the brink of which he was standing.
A financial transaction.
Daumon was expecting a visit from the young man, and had been waiting for him with the cool complacency of a bird-catcher, who, having arranged all his lines and snares, stands with folded arms until his feathered victims fall into his net. The line that he had displayed before the young man’s eyes was the sight of liberty. Daumon had emissaries everywhere, and knew perfectly well what was going on at the Chateau de Champdoce, and could have repeated the exact words made use of by the Duke in his last conversation with his son, and was aware of the leave of liberty that had been granted to Norbert, and was as certain as possible that this small concession would only hasten the rebellion of the young Marquis.