Henceforth Jacques’s innocence was as clear as daylight; and although he had to bear the burden of his sentence till the judgment was declared void, it was decided, with the consent of the president of the court, M. Domini, and the active cooperation of M. Gransiere, that he should be set free that same evening.
M. Folgat and M. Magloire were charged with the pleasant duty of informing the prisoner of this happy news. They found him walking up and down in his cell like a madman, devoured by unspeakable anguish, and not knowing what to make of the words of hope which M. Daubigeon had spoken to him in the morning.
He was hopeful, it is true; and yet when he was told that he was safe, that he was free, he sank, an inert mass, into a chair, being less able to bear joy than sorrow.
But such emotions are not apt to last long. A few moments later, and Jacques de Boiscoran, arm in arm with his counsel, left his prison, in which he had for several months suffered all that an honest man can suffer. He had paid a fearful penalty for what, in the eyes of so many men, is but a trifling wrong.
When they reached the street in which the Chandores lived, M. Folgat said to his client,—
“They do not expect you, I am sure. Go slowly, while I go ahead to prepare them.”
He found Jacques’s parents and friends assembled in the parlor, suffering great anxiety; for they had not been able to ascertain if there were any truth in the vague rumors which had reached them.
The young advocate employed the utmost caution in preparing them for the truth; but at the first words Dionysia asked,—
“Where is Jacques?”
Jacques was kneeling at her feet, overcome with gratitude and love.
The next day the funeral of Count Claudieuse took place. His youngest daughter was buried at the same time; and in the evening the Countess left Sauveterre, to make her home henceforth with her father in Paris.
In the proper course of the law, the sentence which condemned Jacques was declared null and void; and Cocoleu, found guilty of having committed the crime at Valpinson, was sentenced to hard labor for life.
A month later Jacques de Boiscoran was married at the church in Brechy to Dionysia de Chandore. The witnesses for the bridegroom were M. Magloire and Dr. Seignebos; the witnesses for the bride, M. Folgat and M. Daubigeon.
Even the excellent commonwealth attorney laid aside on that day some of his usual gravity. He continually repeated,—
“Nunc est bibendum,
nunc pede libero
And he really did drink his glass of wine, and opened the ball with the bride.
M. Galpin, who was sent to Algiers, was not present at the wedding. But M. Mechinet was there, quite brilliant, and, thanks to Jacques, free from all pecuniary troubles.