“I will do what you desire; but believe me, all your efforts will be in vain.”
She was interrupted by the arrival of Count Ville-Handry. He kissed his daughter, said a few words about rain and fine weather; and then, drawing Daniel into one of the windows, he asked—
“Have you spoken to her?”
“Miss Henrietta wants a few days to consider.”
The count looked displeased, and said,—
“That is absurd. Nothing can be more ridiculous. But, after all, it is your business, my dear Daniel. And, if you want any additional motive, I will tell you that my daughter is very rich. She has a quarter of a million of her own.”
“Sir!” exclaimed Daniel indignantly.
But Count Ville-Handry had already turned upon his heels; and the butler came to announce that dinner was on the table.
The meal, though excellent in itself, was necessarily very dull and sad. It was promptly despatched; for the count seemed to be sitting on needles, and every minute looked at his watch.
They had but just handed the coffee around, when he turned to Daniel, saying,—
“Let us make haste. Miss Brandon expects us.”
Daniel was instantly ready. But the count did not even give him time to take leave of Henrietta; he carried him off to his carriage, pushed him in, jumped in after him, and called out to the servant,—“Circus Street! Miss Brandon! Drive fast!”
The servants knew very well what the count meant when he said, “Drive fast!” The coachman, on such occasions, made his horses literally go as fast as they could; and, but for his great skill, the foot-passengers would have been in considerable danger. Nevertheless, on this evening Count Ville-Handry twice lowered the window to call out,—
“Don’t drive at a walk!”
The fact is, that, in spite of his efforts to assume the air of a grave statesman, he was as impatient, and as vain of his love, as a young collegian hurrying to his first rendezvous with his beloved. During dinner he had been sullen and silent; now he became talkative, and chatted away, without troubling himself about the silence of his companion.
To be sure, Daniel did not even listen. Half-buried in the corner of the well-padded carriage, he tried his best to control his emotions; for he was excited, more excited than ever in his life, by the thought that he was to see, face to face, this formidable adventuress, Miss Brandon. And like the wrestler, who, before making a decisive assault, gathers up all his strength, he summoned to his aid his composure and his energy. It took them not more than ten minutes to drive the whole distance to Circus Street.
“Here we are!” cried the count.