M. Magloire did not rely; but, after having read Jacques’s letter, he said,—
“I am at M. de Boiscoran’s disposal; and I shall go to him as soon as he is no longer in close confinement. I think, as Miss Dionysia does, that he will insist upon saying nothing. However, as we have the means of reaching him by letter,—well, here I am myself ready to profit by the imprudence that has been committed!—beseech him, in the name of his own interest, in the name of all that is dear to him, to speak, to explain, to prove his innocence.”
Thereupon M. Magloire bowed, and withdrew suddenly, leaving his audience in consternation, so very evident was it, that he left so suddenly in order to conceal the painful impression which Jacques’s letter had produced upon him.
“Certainly,” said M. de Chandore, “we will write to him; but we might just as well whistle. He will wait for the end of the investigation.”
“Who knows?” murmured Dionysia.
And, after a moment’s reflection, she added,—
“We can try, however.”
And, without vouchsafing any further explanation, she left the room, and hastened to her chamber to write the following letter:—
“I must speak to you. There is a little gate in our garden which opens upon Charity Lane, I will wait for you there. However late it may be when you get these lines, come!
Then having put the note into an envelope, she called the old nurse, who had brought her up, and, with all the recommendations which extreme prudence could suggest, she said to her,—
“You must see to it that M. Mechinet the clerk gets this note to-night. Go! make haste!”
During the last twenty-four hours, Mechinet had changed so much, that his sisters recognized him no longer. Immediately after Dionysia’s departure, they had come to him, hoping to hear at last what was meant by that mysterious interview; but at the first word he had cried out with a tone of voice which frightened his sisters to death,—
“That is none of your business! That is nobody’s business!” and he had remained alone, quite overcome by his adventure, and dreaming of the means to make good his promise without ruining himself. That was no easy matter.
When the decisive moment arrived, he discovered that he would never be able to get the note into M. de Boiscoran’s hands, without being caught by that lynx-eyed M. Galpin: as the letter was burning in his pocket, he saw himself compelled, after long hesitation, to appeal for help to the man who waited on Jacques,—to Trumence, in fine. The latter was, after all, a good enough fellow; his only besetting sin being unconquerable laziness, and his only crime in the eyes of the law perpetual vagrancy. He was attached to Mechinet, who upon former occasions, when he was in jail, had given him some tobacco, or