He was manoeuvering cleverly in the hope of ascertaining this point, when a carriage was heard driving into the courtyard below. "Monsieur must have returned!" exclaimed the valet, darting to the window.
Chupin also ran to look out, and saw a very elegant blue-lined brougham, drawn by a superb horse, but he did not perceive the viscount. In point of fact, M. de Coralth was already climbing the stairs, four at a time, and, a moment later, he entered the room, angrily exclaiming, "Florent, what does this mean? Why have you left all the doors open?"
Florent was the servant in the red waistcoat. He slightly shrugged his shoulders like a servant who knows too many of his master's secrets to have anything to fear, and in the calmest possible tone replied, "If the doors are open, it is only because the baroness has just sent some flowers. On Sunday, too, what a funny idea! And I have been treating Father Moulinet and this worthy fellow" (pointing to Chupin) "to a glass of wine, to acknowledge their kindness in assisting me."
Fearing recognition, Chupin hid his face as much as possible; but M. de Coralth did not pay the slightest attention to him. There was a dark frown on his handsome, usually smiling countenance, and his hair was in great disorder. Evidently enough, something had greatly annoyed him. "I am going out again," he remarked to his valet, "but first of all I must write two letters which you must deliver immediately."
He passed into the drawing-room as he spoke, and Florent scarcely waited till the door was closed before uttering an oath. "May the devil take him!" he exclaimed. "Here he sets me on the go again. It is five o'clock, too, and I have an appointment in half an hour.
A sudden hope quickened the throbbings of Chupin's heart. He touched the valet's arm, and in his most persuasive tone remarked: "I've nothing to do, and as your wine was so good, I'll do your errands for you, if you'll pay me for the wear and tear of shoe- leather."
Chupin's appearance must have inspired confidence, for the servant replied:--"Well--I don't refuse--but we'll see."
The viscount did not spend much time in writing; he speedily reappeared holding two letters which he flung upon the table, saying: "One of these is for the baroness. You must deliver it into HER hands or into the hands of her maid--there will be no answer. You will afterward take the other to the person it is addressed to, and you must wait for an answer which you will place on my writing-table--and make haste." So saying, the viscount went off as he had entered--on the run--and a moment later, his brougham was heard rolling out of the courtyard.