Overcome with horror, half mad, Jacques fled.
M. Folgat had just risen. Standing before his mirror, hung up to one of the windows in his room, he had just finished shaving himself, when the door was thrown open violently, and old Anthony appeared quite beside himself.
“Ah, sir, what a terrible thing!”
“Run away, disappeared!”
The surprise was so great, that M. Folgat nearly let his razor drop: he said, however, peremptorily,—
“That is false!”
“Alas, sir,” replied the old servant, “everybody is full of it in town. All the details are known. I have just seen a man who says he met master last night, about eleven o’clock, running like a madman down National Street.”
“That is absurd.”
“I have only told Miss Dionysia so far, and she sent me to you. You ought to go and make inquiry.”
The advice was not needed. Wiping his face hastily, the young advocate went to dress at once. He was ready in a moment; and, having run down the stairs, he was crossing the passage when he heard somebody call his name. He turned round, and saw Dionysia making him a sign to come into the boudoir in which she was usually sitting. He did so.
Dionysia and the young advocate alone knew what a desperate venture Jacques had undertaken the night before. They had not said a word about it to each other; but each had noticed the preoccupation of the other. All the evening M. Folgat had not spoken ten words, and Dionysia had, immediately after dinner, gone up to her own room.
“Well?” she asked.
“The report, madam, must be false,” replied the advocate.
“His evasion would be a confession of his crime. It is only the guilty who try to escape; and M. de Boiscoran is innocent. You can rest quite assured, madam, it is not so. I pray you be quiet.”
Who would not have pitied the poor girl at that moment? She was as white as her collar, and trembled violently. Big tears ran over her eyes; and at each word a violent sob rose in her throat.
“You know where Jacques went last night?” she asked again.
She turned her head a little aside, and went on, in a hardly audible voice,—
“He went to see once more a person whose influence over him is, probably, all powerful. It may be that she has upset him, stunned him. Might she not have prevailed upon him to escape from the disgrace of appearing in court, charged with such a crime?”
“No, madam, no!”
“This person has always been Jacques’s evil genius. She loves him, I am sure. She must have been incensed at the idea of his becoming my husband. Perhaps, in order to induce him to flee, she has fled with him.”
“Ah! do not be afraid, madam: the Countess Claudieuse is incapable of such devotion.”