“Did he say that his name was Tantaine?” exclaimed Andre.
“Ah! was that his name? Well, it doesn’t matter. He told me in the most friendly manner that the holder of my bills had determined to place them in the hands of the police to-morrow at twelve o’clock, but that there was still a way for me to escape.”
“And this was to take Rose out of France with you,” said Andre quickly.
Gaston was overwhelmed with surprise.
“Who the deuce told you that?” asked he.
“No one; I guessed it; for it was only the conclusion of the plan which they had initiated when you were induced to forge Martin Rigal’s signature. Well, what did you say?”
“That the idea was a ridiculous one, and that I would not stir a yard. They shall find out that I can be obstinate, too; besides, I can see their little game. As soon as I am out of the way they will go to the governor and bleed him.”
But Andre was not listening to him. What was best to be done? To advise Gaston to go and take Rose with him was to deprive himself of a great element of success; and to permit him to kill himself was, of course, out of the question.
“Just attend to me,” said he at last; “I have an idea which I will tell you as soon as we are out of this house; but for reasons which are too long to go into at present it is necessary for me to get into the street without going through the door. You will, therefore, go away, and as the clock strikes twelve you will ring at the gateway of 29, Rue de Laval. When it is opened, ask some trivial question of the porter; and when you leave, take care that you do not close the gate. I shall be in the garden of the house and will slip out and join you.”
The plan succeeded admirably, and in ten minutes Gaston and Andre were walking along the boulevards.
The Marquis de Croisenois lived in a fine new house on the Boulevard Malesherbes near the church of St. Augustine, and in a suite of rooms the rental of which was four thousand francs per annum. He had collected together sufficient relics of his former splendor to dazzle the eyes of the superficial observer. The apartment and the furniture stood in the name of his body-servant, while his horse and brougham were by the same fiction supposed to be the property of his coachman, for even in the midst of his ruin the Marquis de Croisenois could not go on foot like common people.
The Marquis had two servants only in his modest establishment—a coachman, who did a certain amount of indoor work, and a valet, who knew enough of cookery to prepare a bachelor breakfast. This valet Mascarin had seen once, and the man had then produced so unpleasant an impression on the astute proprietor of the Servants’ Registry Office that he had set every means at work to discover who he was and from whence he came.