“Cayrol, everything is explained,” said the mistress. “You have nothing to fear from him whom you suspected. He is separated from Jeanne forever, And; besides, nothing has passed between him and her who is your wife that could arouse your jealousy. I will not tell you the name of this man now. But if perchance he by some impossibility reappeared and threatened your happiness, I would myself—you understand, me?—point him out to you!”
Cayrol remained thinking for, a moment; then addressing Madame Desvarennes, replied:
“It is well. I have confidence in you.”
Then turning toward Jeanne, he added:
“Forgive me and let everything be forgotten.”
The mistress’s face beamed with joy, as she followed their departing figures with her eyes, and murmured:
Then, changing her expression:
“Now for the other one!” exclaimed she.
And she went out on to the terrace.
The air was mild, the night clear and bright. Cayrol’s carriage rolled rapidly along the broad avenue of the park shadowed by tall trees, the lanterns throwing, as they passed, their quivering light on the thickets. The rumbling carriages took the last guests to the railway station. It was past midnight. A nightingale began singing his song of love to the stars.
Madame Desvarennes mechanically stopped to listen. A sense of sorrow came over this mother who was a prey to the most cruel mental anguish. She thought that she could have been very happy on that splendid night, if her heart had been full of quietude and serenity. Her two daughters were married; her last task was accomplished. She ought to have nothing to do but enjoy life after her own fashioning, and be calm and satisfied. Instead of that, here were fear and dissimulation taking possession of her mind; and an ardent, pitiless struggle beginning against the man who had deceived her daughter and lied to her. The bark which carried her fortune, on reaching port, had caught fire, and it was necessary to begin laboring again amid cares and pains.
A dull rage filled her heart. To have so surely built up the edifice of her happiness, to have embellished it every hour, and then to see an intruder audaciously taking possession of it, and making his despotic and hateful authority prevail! And what could she do against this new master? Nothing. He was marvellously protected by Micheline’s mad love for him. To strike Serge would be to wound Micheline, surely and mortally. So this scoundrel could laugh at her and dare her with impunity!