And, feeling how mortifying such an answer must be, he added,—
“Your mind is too pure for such wretched intrigues. I do not want your wedding-dress to be stained by a speck of that mud into which they have thrown me.”
Was she deceived? No; but she had the courage to seem to be deceived. She went on quietly,—
“Very well, then. But the truth will have to be told sooner or later.”
“Yes, to M. Magloire.”
“Well, then, Jacques, write down at once what you mean to tell him. Here are pen and ink: I will carry it to him faithfully.”
“There are things, Dionysia, which cannot be written.”
She felt she was beaten; she understood that nothing would ever bend that iron will, and yet she said once more,—
“But if I were to beseech you, Jacques, by our past and our future, by that great and eternal love which you have sworn?”
“Do you really wish to make my prison hours a thousand times harder than they are? Do you want to deprive me of my last remnant of strength and of courage? Have you really no confidence in me any longer? Could you not believe me a few days more?”
He paused. Somebody knocked at the door; and almost at the same time Blangin the jailer called out through the wicket,—
“Time is passing. I want to be down stairs when they relieve guard. I am running a great risk. I am a father of a family.”
“Go home now, Dionysia,” said Jacques eagerly, “go home. I cannot think of your being seen here.”
Dionysia had paid dear enough to know that she was quite safe; still she did not object. She offered her brow to Jacques, who touched it with his lips; and half dead, holding on to the walls, she went back to the jailer’s little room. They had made up a bed for her, and she threw herself on it, dressed as she was, and remained there, immovable, as if she had been dead, overcome by a kind of stupor which deprived her even of the faculty of suffering.
It was bright daylight, it was eight o’clock, when she felt somebody pulling her sleeve. The jailer’s wife said to her,—
“My dear young lady, this would be a good time for you to slip away. Perhaps they will wonder to see you alone in the street; but they will think you are coming home from seven o’clock mass.”
Without saying a word, Dionysia jumped down, and in a moment she had arranged her hair and her dress. Then Blangin came, rather troubled at not seeing her leave the house; and she said to him, giving him one of the thousand-franc rolls that were still in her bag,—
“This is for you: I want you to remember me, if I should need you again.”
And, dropping her veil over her face, she went away.
Baron Chandore had had one terrible night in his life, every minute of which he had counted by the ebbing pulse of his only son.