He paused, but there was no reply.
“This woman—this dangerous woman—I have been in search of, and as you can conceive, I easily found her. I went to the Forest of Bevron, and there I need not tell you I found Mademoiselle de Laurebourg.”
“Did you speak to her?”
“I did so, certainly. I told her my opinion of those manoeuvring women who fascinate the dupes they intend to take advantage of—”
“Can it be possible that you, simple boy even as you are, could have been deceived by the pretended love of this wily young woman? It is not you, Marquis, that she loves, but our name and fortune; but I know if she does not that the law will imprison women who contrive to entrap young men who are under age.”
Norbert turned deadly pale.
“Did you really say that to her?” asked he, in a low, hoarse voice, utterly unlike his own. “You dare to insult the woman I love, when you knew that I was far away and unable to protect her! Take care, or I shall forget that you are my father.”
“He actually threatens me,” said the Duke, “my son threatens me;” and, raising the heavy stick he held in his hand, he struck Norbert a violent blow. By a fortunate movement the unhappy boy drew back, and so avoided the full force of the stroke, but the end of the stick struck him across the temple, inflicting a long though not a serious wound. In his blind rage Norbert was about to throw himself upon his father, when his eyes caught sight of the open door. Liberty and safety lay before him, and, with a bound, he was on the stairs, and before the Duke could shout for aid from the window, his son was tearing across the park with all the appearance and gesture of a madman.
The little glass bottle.
In order to avoid being seen by Mademoiselle de Laurebourg, Daumon had to take a much longer route to regain his home than the one that Diana had followed. This, however, he could not help. As soon as he arrived at his home he ran hastily upstairs and took from a cleverly concealed hiding-place in the wainscoting of his bedroom a small bottle of dark green glass, which he hastily slipped into his pocket. When he had once more descended to his office, he again took it out and examined it carefully to see that it had in no way been tampered with; then, with a hard, cruel smile, he placed it upon his desk among his ledgers and account books. Diana de Laurebourg might pay him a visit as soon as she liked, for he was quite prepared for her, for he had slipped on his dressing-gown and placed his velvet skull cap upon his head, as if he had not quitted the house that day.
“Why on earth does she not come?” muttered he.
He began to be uneasy. He went to the window and glanced eagerly down the road; then he drew out his watch and examined the face of it, when all at once his ears detected a gentle tapping at the door of the office.