“We will hoodwink the lot of them.”
“And how long must we wait,” asked the old man, “until the place skins over, and assumes the appearance of having been there from childhood?”
“In a month’s time Paul can be introduced to the Duke de Champdoce.”
“Are you speaking seriously?”
“Listen to me. The scar will not be quite natural then, but I intend to subject it to various other modes of treatment.”
The dressing was now over, and Paul’s shirt being readjusted, he was permitted to lie down again.
“I am quite willing to remain here forever,” said he, “as long as I am allowed to retain the services of the nurse that I have in the next room, and who, I am sure, is waiting with the greatest eagerness for your departure.”
Hortebise fumed, and cast a glance at Paul which seemed to say, “Be silent;” but the conceited young man paid no heed to it.
“How long has this charming nurse been with you?” asked Tantaine in an unnatural voice.
“Ever since I have been in bed,” returned Paul with the air of a gay young fellow. “I wrote a note that I was unable to go over to her, so she came to me. I sent my letter at nine o’clock, and at ten minutes past she was with me.”
The diplomatic doctor slipped behind Tantaine, and made violent gestures to endeavor to persuade Paul to keep silence, but all was in vain.
“M. Martin Rigal,” continued the vain young fool, “passes the greater part of his life in his private office. As soon as he gets up he goes there, and is not seen for the rest of the day. Flavia can therefore do entirely as she likes. As soon as she knows that her worthy father is deep in his ledgers, she puts on her hat and runs round to me, and no one could have a kinder and a prettier visitor than she is.”
The doctor was hard at work at his danger signals, but it was useless. Paul saw them, but did not comprehend their meaning; and Tantaine rubbed his glasses savagely.
“You are perhaps deceiving yourself a little,” said he at last.
“And why? You know that Flavia loves me, poor girl. I ought to marry her, and of course I shall; but still, if I do not do so—well, you know, I need say no more.”
“You wretched scoundrel!” exclaimed the usually placid Tantaine. His manner was so fierce and threatening that Paul shifted his position to one nearer the wall.
It was impossible for Tantaine to say another word, for Hortebise placed his hand upon his lips, and dragged him from the room.
THE TAFILA COPPER MINES, LIMITED.