“When the wind is north, yes, sir.”
“And last night, how was it?”
“The wind was from the west, as it always is when we have a storm.”
“So that you have heard nothing? You do not know what a terrible calamity”—
“A calamity? I do not understand you, sir.”
This conversation had taken place in the court-yard: and at this moment there appeared two gendarmes on horseback, whom M. Galpin had sent for just before he left Valpinson.
When old Anthony saw them, he exclaimed,—
“Great God! what is the meaning of this? I must wake master.”
The magistrate stopped him, saying harshly,—
“Not a step! Don’t say a word!”
And pointing out Ribot to the gendarmes, he said,—
“Keep that lad under your eyes, and let him have no communication with anybody.”
Then, turning again to Anthony, he said,—
“Now show us to M. de Boiscoran’s bedroom.”
In spite of its grand feudal air, the chateau at Boiscoran was, after all, little more than a bachelor’s modest home, and in a very bad state of preservation. Of the eighty or a hundred rooms which it contained, hardly more than eight or ten were furnished, and this only in the simplest possible manner,—a sitting-room, a dining-room, a few guest-chambers: this was all M. de Boiscoran required during his rare visits to the place. He himself used in the second story a small room, the door of which opened upon the great staircase.
When they reached this door, guided by old Anthony, the magistrate said to the servant,—
The man obeyed: and immediately a youthful, hearty voice replied from within,—
“Who is there?”
“It is I,” said the faithful servant. “I should like”—
“Go to the devil!” broke in the voice.
“Let me sleep, rascal. I have not been able to close an eye till now.” The magistrate, becoming impatient, pushed the servant aside, and, seizing the door-knob tried to open it; it was locked inside. But he lost no time in saying,—
“It is I, M. de Boiscoran: open, if you please!”
“Ah, dear M. Galpin!” replied the voice cheerfully.
“I must speak to you.”
“And I am at your service, illustrious jurist. Just give me time to veil my Apollonian form in a pair of trousers, and I appear.”
Almost immediately, the door opened; and M. de Boiscoran presented himself, his hair dishevelled, his eyes heavy with sleep, but looking bright in his youth and full health, with smiling lips and open hands.
“Upon my word!” he said. “That was a happy inspiration you had, my dear Galpin. You come to join me at breakfast?”
And, bowing to M. Daubigeon, he added,—
“Not to say how much I thank you for bringing our excellent commonwealth attorney with you. This is a veritable judicial visit”—