Was it not far more probable, on the contrary, that, after what he had done in the morning, they would have ascribed his charges to a mistake, or seen in them a weak invention in order to cover his retreat? Therefore it was a thousand times better to keep silence, to be resigned to postpone to another day every attempt to avenge himself in a manner corresponding to the injury he had suffered, and all the more effectively, as his vengeance would have been carefully matured.
But he did not wish that false letter, which might become a formidable piece of evidence against him, to remain among his papers; no doubt Miss Brandon would soon find an opportunity of having it withdrawn. He asked, therefore, for leave to copy it, obtained permission, went to work, and succeeded, without being seen by anybody, in substituting his copy for the original.
When this was done, knowing that he had not a minute to lose, he instantly left the department, and, jumping into a carriage, drove to M. de Brevan.
Like all energetic natures, Daniel felt a wonderful relief as soon as he had formed an irrevocable decision. He would even have enjoyed the peace that had once more returned to his mind, but for the savage hatred which had accumulated in his heart, and which confused his thoughts whenever he remembered Miss Brandon.
Providentially, it seemed to him, Maxime had not gone out, or, rather, having been to breakfast at the English cafe with some of his friends, he had just returned.
In ten words Daniel had told him every thing, and even shown him that masterpiece of forgery, which he attributed to Miss Brandon’s mind, and M. Elgin’s skill. Then, without heeding Maxime’s exclamations of wonder and indignation, loud and deep as they were, he continued,—
“Now, my dear Maxime, listen to me. It may be my last will which I am going to give in your charge.”
And, when his friend tried to remonstrate, he insisted,—
“I know what I am saying. I am sure I hope I shall not be buried out there; but the climate is murderous, and I may encounter a cannon-ball. It is always better to be prepared.”
He paused a moment to collect his thoughts; and then he went on.
“You alone, in this world, Maxime, know all my private affairs. I have no secret from you. I have friends whom I have known longer than you; but I have none in whom I feel more confidence. Besides, my old friends are all sailors,—men, who, like myself, may at any moment be sent, Heaven knows where. Now I want a reliable, safe, and experienced man, possessed of prudence and energy, and sure not to leave Paris. Will you be that man, Maxime?”
M. de Brevan, who had remained in his chair, rose, and, putting his hand on his heart, said,—
“Between us, Daniel, oaths are useless; don’t you think so? I say, therefore, simply, you may count upon me.”