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considerable affection for Woola and Sola, for the normal

source:rnatime:2023-11-29 14:00:57

A bitter smile curved the baron's lips. "What do you fear?" he asked. "Isn't your brother dead? He has defrauded me alike of happiness and vengeance!"

considerable affection for Woola and Sola, for the normal

If her son's life had depended on a single word, Madame d'Argeles could not have uttered it. She knew what mental agony had urged the baron to a sort of moral suicide, and led him to contract the vice in which he wasted his life and squandered, or, at least risk, his millions.

considerable affection for Woola and Sola, for the normal

"Nor is this all," he continued. "Listen. As I have often told you, I was sure that my wife became a mother in my absence. I sought the child for years, hoping that through the offspring I might discover the father. Ah, well! I've found what I sought, at last. The child is now a beautiful young girl. She lives at the Hotel de Chalusse as your brother's daughter. She is known as Mademoiselle Marguerite."

considerable affection for Woola and Sola, for the normal

Madame d'Argeles listened, leaning against the wall for support, and trembling like a leaf. Her reason was shaken by so many repeated blows, and her son, her brother, Marguerite, Pascal Ferailleur, Coralth, Valorsay--all those whom she loved or feared, or hated--rose like spectres before her troubled brain. The horror of the truth exceeded her most frightful apprehensions. The strangeness of the reality surpassed every flight of fancy. And, moreover, the baron's calmness increased her stupor. She so often had heard him give vent to his rage and despair in terrible threats, that she could not believe he would be thus resigned. But was his calmness real? Was it not a mask, would not his fury suddenly break forth?

However, he continued, "It is thus that destiny makes us its sport--it is thus that it laughs at our plans. Do you remember, Lia, the day when I met you wandering through the streets of Paris--with your child in your arms--pale and half dead with fatigue, faint for want of food, homeless and penniless? You saw no refuge but in death, as you have since told me. How could I imagine when I rescued you that I was saving my greatest enemy's sister from suicide--the sister of the man whom I was vainly pursuing? And yet this might not be the end, if I chose to have it otherwise. The count is dead, but I can still return him disgrace for disgrace. He dishonored me. What prevents me from casting ineffaceable opprobrium upon the great name of Chalusse, of which he was so proud? He seduced my wife. To-day I can tell all Paris what his sister has been and what she is to-day."

Ah! it was this--yes, it was this that Madame d'Argeles had dreaded. She fell upon her knees, and, with clasped hands she entreated: "Pity!--oh! have pity--forgive me! Have mercy! Have I not always been a faithful and devoted friend to you? Think of the past you have just invoked! Who helped you then to bear your intolerable sufferings? Don't you remember the day when you, yourself, had determined to die by your own hand? There was a woman who persuaded you to abandon the thought of suicide. It was I!"

He looked at her for a moment with a softer expression, tears came to his eyes, and rolled down his cheeks. Then suddenly he raised her, and placed her in an arm-chair, exclaiming: "Ah! you know very well that I shall not do what I said. Don't you know me better than that? Are you not sure of my affection, are you not aware that you are sacred in my eyes?" He was evidently striving hard to master his emotion. "Besides," he added, "I had already pardoned before coming here. It was foolish on my part, perhaps, and for nothing in the world would I confess it to my acquaintances, but it is none the less true. I shall have my revenge in a certain fashion, however. I need only hold my peace, and the daughter of M. de Chalusse and Madame Trigault would become a lost woman. Is this not so? Very well, I shall offer her my assistance. It may, or may not, be another absurd and ridiculous fancy added to the many I have been guilty of. But no matter. I have promised. And why, indeed, should this poor girl be held responsible for the sins of her parents? I--I declare myself on her side against the world!"

Madame d'Argeles rose, her face radiant with joy and hope. "Then perhaps we are saved!" she exclaimed. "Ah! I knew when I sent for you that I should not appeal to your heart in vain!"