“The man is found. This evening we start for Paris. The most valuable testimony. GEVROL.”
On the Monday morning, at nine o’clock, M. Daburon was preparing to start for the Palais de Justice, where he expected to find Gevrol and his man, and perhaps old Tabaret. His preparations were nearly made, when his servant announced that a young lady, accompanied by another considerably older, asked to speak with him. She declined giving her name, saying, however, that she would not refuse it, if it was absolutely necessary in order to be received.
“Show them in,” said the magistrate.
He thought it must be a relation of one or other of the prisoners, whose case he had had in hand when this fresh crime occurred. He determined to send her away quickly. He was standing before the fireplace, seeking for an address in a small china plate filled with visiting cards. At the sound of the opening of the door, at the rustling of a silk dress gliding by the window, he did not take the trouble to move, nor deign even to turn his head. He contented himself with merely casting a careless glance into the mirror.
But he immediately started with a movement of dismay, as if he had seen a ghost. In his confusion, he dropped the card-plate, which fell noisily on to the hearth, and broke into a thousand pieces.
“Claire!” he stammered, “Claire!”
And as if he feared equally either being deceived by an illusion or actually seeing her whose name he had uttered, he turned slowly round.
It was truly Mademoiselle d’Arlange. This young girl, usually so proud and reserved, had had the courage to come to his house alone, or almost so, for her governess, whom she had left in the ante-room, could hardly count. She was evidently obeying some powerful emotion, since it made her forget her habitual timidity.
Never, even in the time when a sight of her was his greatest happiness, had she appeared to him more fascinating. Her beauty, ordinarily veiled by a sweet sadness, was bright and shining. Her features had an animation which he had never seen in them before. In her eyes, rendered more brilliant by recent tears but partly wiped away, shone the noblest resolution. One could see that she was conscious of performing a great duty, and that she performed it, if not with pleasure, at least with that simplicity which in itself is heroism.
She advanced calm and dignified, and held out her hand to the magistrate in that English style that some ladies can render so gracefully.
“We are always friends, are we not?” asked she, with a sad smile.
The magistrate did not dare take the ungloved hand she held out to him. He scarcely touched it with the tips of his fingers, as though he feared too great an emotion.
“Yes,” he replied indistinctly, “I am always devoted to you.”