He left; and Jacques de Boiscoran fell, utterly undone, on one of the prison chairs.
“It is all over,” he stammered: “I am lost.”
During all this time, they were suffering intense anxiety at M. de Chandore’s house. Ever since eight o’clock in the morning the two aunts, the old gentleman, the marchioness, and M. Folgat had been assembled in the dining-room, and were there waiting for the result of the interview. Dionysia had only come down later; and her grandfather could not help noticing that she had dressed more carefully than usual.
“Are we not going to see Jacques again?” she replied with a smile full of confidence and joy.
She had actually persuaded herself that one word from Jacques would suffice to convince the celebrated lawyer, and that he would reappear triumphant on M. Magloire’s arm. The others did not share these expectations. The two aunts, looking as yellow as their old laces, sat immovable in a corner. The marchioness was trying to hide her tears; and M. Folgat endeavored to look absorbed in a volume of engravings. M. de Chandore, who possessed less self-control, walked up and down in the room, repeating every ten minutes,—
“It is wonderful how long time seems when you are waiting!”
At ten o’clock no news had come.
“Could M. Magloire have forgotten his promise?” said Dionysia, becoming anxious.
“No, he has not forgotten it,” replied a newcomer, M. Seneschal. It was really the excellent mayor, who had met M. Magloire about an hour before, and who now came to hear the news, for his own sake, as he said, but especially for his wife’s sake, who was actually ill with anxiety.
Eleven o’clock, and no news. The marchioness got up, and said,—
“I cannot stand this uncertainty a minute longer. I am going to the prison.”
“And I will go with you, dear mother,” declared Dionysia.
But such a proceeding was hardly suitable. M. de Chandore opposed it, and was supported by M. Folgat, as well as by M. Seneschal.
“We might at least send somebody,” suggested the two aunts timidly.
“That is a good idea,” replied M. de Chandore.
He rang the bell; and old Anthony came in. He had established himself the evening before in Sauveterre, having heard that the preliminary investigation was finished.
As soon as he had been told what they wanted him to do, he said,—
“I shall be back in half an hour.”
He nearly ran down the steep street, hastened along National Street, and then climbed up more slowly Castle Street. When M. Blangin, the keeper, saw him appear, he turned very pale; for M. Blangin had not slept since Dionysia had given him the seventeen thousand francs. He, once upon a time the special friend of all gendarmes, now trembled when one of them entered the jail. Not that he felt any remorse about having betrayed his duty; oh, no! but he feared discovery.