“Then what kind of a man is he?”
“An idiot, sir or, as they here call it, an innocent, who has Saint Vitus dance into the bargain, and epilepsy moreover.”
“Then it is perfectly notorious that he is imbecile?”
“Yes, sir, although I have heard people insist that he is not quite so stupid as he looks, and that, as they say here, he plays the ass in order to get his oats”—
M. de Chandore interrupted him, and said,—
“On this subject Dr. Seignebos can give you all the information you may want: he kept Cocoleu for nearly two years at his own house.”
“I mean to see the doctor,” replied M. Folgat. “But first of all we must find this unfortunate idiot.”
“You heard what M. Seneschal said: he has put the gendarmes on his track.”
Anthony made a face, and said,—
“If the gendarmes should take Cocoleu, Cocoleu must have given himself up voluntarily.”
“Because, gentlemen, there is no one who knows all the by-ways and out-of-the-way corners of the country so well as that idiot; for he has been hiding all his life like a savage in all the holes and hiding-places that are about here; and, as he can live perfectly well on roots and berries, he may stay away three months without being seen by any one.”
“Is it possible?” exclaimed M. Folgat angrily.
“I know only one man,” continued Anthony, “who could find out Cocoleu, and that is our tenant’s son Michael,—the young man you saw down stairs.”
“Send for him,” said M. de Chandore.
Michael appeared promptly, and, when he had heard what he was expected to do, he replied,—
“The thing can be done, certainly; but it is not very easy. Cocoleu has not the sense of a man; but he has all the instincts of a brute. However, I’ll try.”
There was nothing to keep either M. de Chandore or M. Folgat any longer at Boiscoran; hence, after having warned Anthony to watch the seals well, and get a glimpse, if possible, of Jacques’s gun, when the officers should come for the different articles, they left the chateau. It was five o’clock when they drove into town again. Dionysia was waiting for them in the sitting-room. She rose as they entered, looking quite pale, with dry, brilliant eyes.
“What? You are alone here!” said M. de Chandore. “Why have they left you alone?”
“Don’t be angry, grandpapa. I have just prevailed on the marchioness, who was exhausted with fatigue to lie down for an hour or so before dinner.”
“And your aunts?”
“They have gone out, grandpapa. They are probably, by this time at M. Galpin’s.”
M. Folgat started, and said,—
“But that is foolish in them!” exclaimed the old gentleman.
The young girl closed his lips by a single word. She said,—
“I asked them to go.”