“I will bring you the proof you want,” said the carpenter.
“Meet me Monday at four o’clock in the afternoon at the cross-roads near the corner of the Come woods.”
“At the end of the park?”
“Yes, a little above the rocks.”
“I will be there. Until then, you will not say a word to anybody?”
“That is a bargain, since you buy the goods I have for sale—”
“Here is some money to bind the trade,” replied the artist. And he handed him the silver pieces he still held in his hand; Lambernier took them this time without any objections, and put them in his pocket.
“Monday, at four o’clock!”
“Monday, at four o’clock!” repeated Marillac, as he mounted his horse and rode away in great haste as if eager to take leave of his companion. He turned when he reached the road, and, looking behind him, saw the workman standing motionless at the foot of the tree.
“There is a scamp,” thought he, “whose ball and chain are waiting for him at Toulon or Brest, and I have just concluded a devilish treaty with him. Bah! I have nothing to reproach myself with. Of two evils choose the least; it remains to be seen whether Gerfaut is the dupe of a coquette or whether his love is threatened with some catastrophe; at all events, I am his friend, and I ought to clear up this mystery and put him on his guard.”
“Ten francs to-day, and ten napoleons Monday,” said Lambernier as, with an eye in which there was a mixture of scorn and hatred, he watched the traveller disappear. “I should be a double idiot to refuse. But this does not pay for the blows from your whip, you puppy; when we have settled this affair of the fine lady, I shall attend to you.”
AN INHARMONIOUS MUSICALE
The visitors referred to in the conversation between the two friends arrived at the castle at an early hour, according to the custom in the country, where they dine in the middle of the day. Gerfaut saw from his chamber, where he had remained like Achilles under his tent, half a dozen carriages drive one after another up the avenue, bringing the guests announced by Marillac. Little by little the company scattered through the gardens in groups; four or five young girls under Aline’s escort hurried to a swing, to which several good-natured young men attached themselves, and among them Gerfaut recognized his Pylades. During this time Madame de Bergenheim was doing the honors of the house to the matrons, who thought this amusement too youthful for their age and preferred a quiet walk through the park. Christian, on his side, was explaining methods of improvements to gentlemen of agricultural and industrial appearance, who seemed to listen to him with great interest. Three or four others had taken possession of the billiard-table; while the more venerable among the guests had remained in the parlor with Mademoiselle de Corandeuil.