The mischief, however, is, that this life of rural beggary, if it has its good days, also has its evil times. On certain days, Trumence could not find either kind-hearted topers or hospitable housewives. Hunger, however, was ever on hand; then he had to become a marauder; dig some potatoes, and cook them in a corner of a wood, or pilfer the orchards. And if he found neither potatoes in the fields, nor apples in the orchards, what could he do but climb a fence, or scale a wall?
Relatively speaking, Trumence was an honest man, and incapable of stealing a piece of money; but vegetables, fruits, chickens—
Thus it had come about that he had been arrested twice, and condemned to several days’ imprisonment; and each time he had vowed solemnly that he would never be caught at it again, and that he was going to work hard. And yet he had been caught again.
The poor fellow had told his misfortunes to Jacques; and Jacques, who owed it to him that he could, when still in close confinement, correspond with Dionysia, felt very kindly towards him. Hence, when he saw him come up very respectful, and cap in hand, he asked,—
“What is it, Trumence?”
“Sir,” replied the vagrant, “M. Blangin sends you word that the two advocates are coming up to your room.”
Once more the marquis embraced his son, saying,—
“Do not keep them waiting, and keep up your courage.”
The Marquis de Boiscoran had not been mistaken about M. Magloire. Much shaken by Dionysia’s statement, he had been completely overcome by M. Folgat’s explanations; and, when he now came to the jail, it was with a determination to prove Jacques’s innocence.
“But I doubt very much whether he will ever forgive me for my incredulity,” he said to M. Folgat while they were waiting for the prisoner in his cell.
Jacques came in, still deeply moved by the scene with his father. M. Magloire went up to him, and said,—
“I have never been able to conceal my thoughts, Jacques. When I thought you guilty, and felt sure that you accused the Countess Claudieuse falsely, I told you so with almost brutal candor. I have since found out my error, and am now convinced of the truth of your statement: so I come and tell you as frankly, Jacques, I was wrong to have had more faith in the reputation of a woman than in the words of a friend. Will you give me your hand?”
The prisoner grasped his hand with a profusion of joy, and cried,—
“Since you believe in my innocence, others may believe in me too, and my salvation is drawing near.”
The melancholy faces of the two advocates told him that he was rejoicing too soon. His features expressed his grief; but he said with a firm voice,—
“Well, I see that the struggle will be a hard one, and that the result is still uncertain. Never mind. You may be sure I will not give way.”