“Still no news!” he said to Mme. Blanche at each interview.
But she would not yield. Jealousy will not yield even to evidence.
Blanche had declared that Marie-Anne had taken her husband from her, that Martial and Marie-Anne loved each other, hence it must be so, all proofs to the contrary notwithstanding.
But one morning she found her spy jubilant.
“Good news!” he cried, as soon as he saw her; “we have caught the minx at last.”
It was the second day after Marie-Anne’s installation at the Borderie.
That event was the general topic of conversation; and Chanlouineau’s will was the subject of countless comments.
“Here is Monsieur Lacheneur’s daughter with an income of more than two thousand francs, without counting the house,” said the old people, gravely.
“An honest girl would have had no such luck as that!” muttered the unattractive maidens who had not been fortunate enough to secure husbands.
This was the great news which Chupin brought to Mme. Blanche.
She listened to it, trembling with anger, her hands so convulsively clinched that the nails penetrated the flesh.
“What audacity!” she exclaimed. “What impudence!”
The old poacher seemed to be of the same opinion.
“If each of her lovers gives her as much she will be richer than a queen. She will have enough to buy both Sairmeuse and Courtornieu, if she chooses,” he remarked, maliciously.
If he had desired to augment the rage of Mme. Blanche, he had good reason to be satisfied.
“And this is the woman who has alienated Martial’s heart from me!” she exclaimed. “It is for this miserable wretch that he abandons me!”
The unworthiness of the unfortunate girl whom she regarded as her rival, incensed her to such a degree that she entirely forgot Chupin’s presence. She made no attempt to restrain herself or to hide the secret of her sufferings.
“Are you sure that what you tell me is true?” she asked.
“As sure as that you stand there.”
“Who told you all this?”
“No one—I have eyes. I went to the Borderie yesterday to see for myself, and all the shutters were open. Marie-Anne was leaning out of a window. She does not even wear mourning, the heartless hussy!”
Poor Marie-Anne, indeed, had no dress but the one which Mme. d’Escorval had given her on the night of the insurrection, when she laid aside her masculine habiliments.
Chupin wished to irritate Mme. Blanche still more by other malicious remarks, but she checked him by a gesture.
“So you know the way to the Borderie?” she inquired.
“Where is it?”
“Opposite the mills of the Oiselle, near the river, about a league and a half from here.”