Like all very clever men, Dr. Seignebos made the mistake of thinking other people as cunning as he was himself. M. Galpin was, of course, watching him, but by no means with the energy which one would have expected from so ambitious a man. He had, of course, been the first to be notified that the case was to be tried in open court, and from that moment he felt relieved of all anxiety.
As to remorse, he had none. He did not even regret any thing. He did not think of it, that the prisoner who was thus to be tried had once been his friend,—a friend of whom he was proud, whose hospitality he had enjoyed, and whose favor he had eagerly sought in his matrimonial aspirations. No. He only saw one thing,—that he had engaged in a dangerous affair, on which his whole future was depending, and that he was going to win triumphantly.
Evidently his responsibility was by no means gone; but his zeal in preparing the case for trial was no longer required. He need not appear at the trial. Whatever must be the result, he thought he should escape the blame, which he should surely have incurred if no true bill had been found. He did not disguise it from himself that he should be looked at askance by all Sauveterre, that his social relations were well-nigh broken off, and that no one would henceforth heartily shake hands with him. But that gave him no concern. Sauveterre, a miserable little town of five thousand inhabitants! He hoped with certainty he would not remain there long; and a brilliant preferment would amply repay him for his courage, and relieve him from all foolish reproaches.
Besides, once in the large city to which he would be promoted, he could hope that distance would aid in attenuating and even effacing the impression made by his conduct. All that would be remembered after a time would be his reputation as one of those famous judges, who, according to the stereotyped phrase, “sacrifice every thing to the sacred interests of justice, who put inflexible duty high above all the considerations that trouble and disturb the vulgar mind, and whose heart is like a rock, against which all human passions are helplessly broken to pieces.”
With such a reputation, with his knowledge of the world, and his eagerness to succeed, opportunities would not be wanting to put himself forward, to make himself known, to become useful, indispensable even. He saw himself already on the highest rungs of the official ladder. He was a judge in Bordeaux, in Lyons, in Paris itself!
With such rose-colored dreams he fell asleep at night. The next morning, as he crossed the streets, his carriage haughtier and stiffer than ever, his firmly-closed lips, and the cold and severe look of his eyes, told the curious observers that there must be something new.
“M. de Boiscoran’s case must be very bad indeed,” they said, “or M. Galpin would not look so very proud.”