The fragment read as follows:
“of M. Raoul, I have been very im . . . plotted against him, of whom never . . . warn Prosper, and then . . . best friend. he . . . hand of Mlle. Ma . . .”
Prosper never closed his eyes during that night.
Not far from the Palais Royal, in the Rue St. Honore, is the sign of “La Bonne Foi,” a small establishment, half cafe and half shop, extensively patronized by the people of the neighborhood.
It was in the smoking-room of this modest cafe that Prosper, the day after his release, awaited M. Verduret, who had promised to meet him at four o’clock.
The clock struck four; M. Verduret, who was punctuality itself, appeared. He was more red-faced and self-satisfied, if possible, than the day before.
As soon as the servant had left the room to obey his orders, he said to Prosper:
“Well, are our commissions executed?”
“Have you seen the costumer?”
“I gave him your letter, and everything you ordered will be sent to the Archangel to-morrow.”
“Very good; you have not lost time, neither have I. I have good news for you.”
The “Bonne Foi” is almost deserted at four o’clock. The hour for coffee is passed, and the hour for absinthe has not yet come. M. Verduret and Prosper could talk at their ease without fear of being overheard by gossiping neighbors.
M. Verduret drew forth his memorandum-book, the precious diary which, like the enchanted book in the fairy-tale, had an answer for every question.
“While awaiting our emissaries whom I appointed to meet here, let us devote a little time to M. de Lagors.”
At this name Prosper did not protest, as he had done the night previous. Like those imperceptible insects which, having once penetrated the root of a tree, devour it in a single night, suspicion, when it invades our mind, soon develops itself, and destroys our firmest beliefs.
The visit of Lagors, and Gypsy’s torn letter, had filled Prosper with suspicions which had grown stronger and more settled as time passed.
“Do you know, my dear friend,” said M. Verduret, “what part of France this devoted friend of yours comes from?”
“He was born at St. Remy, which is also Mme. Fauvel’s native town.”
“Are you certain of that?”
“Oh, perfectly so, monsieur! He has not only often told me so, but I have heard him tell M. Fauvel; and he would talk to Mme. Fauvel by the hour about his mother, who was cousin to Mme. Fauvel, and dearly beloved by her.”
“Then you think there is no possible mistake or falsehood about this part of his story?”
“None in the least, monsieur.”
“Well, things are assuming a queer look.”
And he began to whistle between his teeth; which, with M. Verduret, was a sign of intense inward satisfaction.