That day he succeeded in concealing his agitation, and kept up a flow of talk at dinner; but at about nine o’clock, when Clameran called on the ladies, he rushed from the house, for fear that he would be unable to control his indignation at the sight of this destroyer of his happiness; and did not return home until late in the night.
The next day he reaped the fruit of his prudence.
Among the letters which his valet brought him at noon, was one bearing the post-mark of Vesinet.
He carefully opened the envelope, and read:
“DEAR AUNT—It is imperatively necessary for me to see you to-day; so do not fail to come to Vesinet.
“I will explain why I give you this trouble, instead of calling at your house.
“I have them now!” cried M. Fauvel trembling with satisfaction at the near prospect of vengeance.
Eager to lose no time, he opened a drawer, took out a revolver, and examined the hammer to see if it worked easily.
He imagined himself alone, but a vigilant eye was watching his movements. Gypsy, immediately upon her return from the Archangel, stationed herself at the key-hole of the study-door, and saw all that occurred.
M. Fauvel laid the pistol on the mantel-piece, and nervously resealed the letter, which he then took to the box where the letters were usually left, not wishing anyone to know that Raoul’s letter had passed through his hands.
He was only absent two minutes, but, inspired by the imminence of the danger, Gypsy darted into the study, and rapidly extracted the balls from the revolver.
“Thank Heaven!” she murmured: “this peril is averted, and M. Verduret will now perhaps have time to prevent a murder. I must send Cavaillon to tell him.”
She hurried into the bank, and sent the clerk with a message, telling him to leave it with Mme. Alexandre, if M. Verduret had left the hotel.
An hour later, Mme. Fauvel ordered her carriage, and went out.
M. Fauvel jumped into a hackney-coach, and followed her.
“God grant that M. Verduret may reach there in time!” cried Nina to herself, “otherwise Mme. Fauvel and Raoul are lost.”
The moment that the Marquis of Clameran perceived that Raoul de Lagors was the only obstacle between him and Madeleine, he swore that the obstacle should soon be removed.
That very day he took steps for the accomplishment of his purpose. As Raoul was walking out to Vesinet about midnight, he was stopped at a lonely spot, by three men, who asked him what o’clock it was; while looking at his watch, the ruffians fell upon him suddenly, and but for Raoul’s wonderful strength and agility, would have left him dead on the spot.
As it was, he soon, by his skilfully plied blows (for he had become a proficient in fencing and boxing in England), made his enemies take to their heels.