“Ah! then you agree with me! In that case, you may rest assured that I will expedite matters as much as possible.”
In spite, or rather by reason of his immense fortune, the Marquis de Sairmeuse knew that a person is never so well, nor so quickly served, as when he serves himself, so he resolved to take the matter into his own hands. He conferred with architects, interviewed contractors, and hurried on the workmen.
As soon as he was up in the morning he started out without waiting for breakfast, and seldom returned until dinner.
Although Blanche was compelled to pass most of her time within doors, on account of the bad weather, she was not inclined to complain. Her journey, the unaccustomed sights and sounds of Paris, the novelty of life in a hotel, all combined to distract her thoughts from herself. She forgot her fears; a sort of haze enveloped the terrible scene at the Borderie; the clamors of conscience sank into faint whispers.
The past seemed fading away, and she was beginning to entertain hopes of a new and better life, when one day a servant entered, and said:
“There is a man below who wishes to speak with Madame.”
Half reclining upon a sofa, Mme. Blanche was listening to a new book which Aunt Medea was reading aloud, and she did not even raise her head as the servant delivered his message.
“A man?” she asked, carelessly; “what man?”
She was expecting no one; it must be one of the laborers employed by Martial.
“I cannot inform Madame,” replied the servant. “He is quite a young man; is dressed like a peasant, and is perhaps, seeking a place.”
“It is probably the marquis whom he desires to see.”
“Madame will excuse me, but he said particularly that he desired to speak to her.”
“Ask his name and his business, then. Go on, aunt,” she added; “we have been interrupted in the most interesting portion.”
But Aunt Medea had not time to finish the page when the servant reappeared.
“The man says Madame will understand his business when she hears his name.”
“And his name?”
It was as if a bomb-shell had exploded in the room.
Aunt Medea, with a shriek, dropped her book, and sank back, half fainting, in her chair.
Blanche sprang up with a face as colorless as her white cashmere peignoir, her eyes troubled, her lips trembling.
“Chupin!” she repeated, as if she hoped the servant would tell her she had not understood him correctly; “Chupin!”
“Tell this man that I will not see him, I will not see him, do you hear?”
But before the servant had time to bow respectfully and retire, the young marquise changed her mind.
“One moment,” said she; “on reflection I think I will see him. Bring him up.”