“Above all, be prudent and circumspect. The public mind is already but too much inflamed. Politics are mixed up with the case. I am afraid of some disturbance at the burial of the firemen; and they bring me word that Dr. Seignebos wants to make a speech at the graveyard. Good-by and good luck!”
The driver whipped the horse, and, as the carriage was going down through the suburbs, M. de Chandore said,—
“I cannot understand why Anthony did not come to me immediately after his master had been arrested. What can have happened to him?”
M. Seneschal’s horse was perhaps one of the very best in the whole province; but M. de Chandore’s was still better. In less than fifty minutes they had driven the whole distance to Boiscoran; and during this time M. de Chandore and M. Folgat had not exchanged fifty words.
When they reached Boiscoran, the courtyard was silent and deserted. Doors and windows were hermetically closed. On the steps of the porch sat a stout young peasant, who, at the sight of the newcomers, rose, and carried his hand to his cap.
“Where is Anthony?” asked M. de Chandore.
“Up stairs, sir.”
The old gentleman tried to open the door: it resisted.
“O sir! Anthony has barricaded the door from the inside.”
“A curious idea,” said M. de Chandore, knocking with the butt-end of his whip.
He was knocking fiercer and fiercer, when at last Anthony’s voice was heard from within,—
“Who is there?”
“It is I, Baron Chandore.”
The bars were removed instantly, and the old valet showed himself in the door. He looked pale and undone. The disordered condition of his beard, his hair, and his dress, showed that he had not been to bed. And this disorder was full of meaning in a man who ordinarily prided himself upon appearing always in the dress of an English gentleman.
M. de Chandore was so struck by this, that he asked, first of all,—
“What is the matter with you, my good Anthony?”
Instead of replying, Anthony drew the baron and his companion inside; and, when he had fastened the door again, he crossed his arms, and said,—
“The matter is—well, I am afraid.”
The old gentleman and the lawyer looked at each other. They evidently both thought the poor man had lost his mind. Anthony saw it, and said quickly,—
“No, I am not mad, although, certainly, there are things passing here which could make one doubtful of one’s own senses. If I am afraid, it is for good reasons.”
“You do not doubt your master?” asked M. Folgat.
The servant cast such fierce, threatening glances at the lawyer, that M. de Chandore hastened to interfere.
“My dear Anthony,” he said, “this gentleman is a friend of mine, a lawyer, who has come down from Paris with the marchioness to defend Jacques. You need not mistrust him, nay, more than that, you must tell him all you know, even if”—