"What, haven't you taken it already?" interrupted the marquis, quickly. And shrugging his shoulders, he added: "Observe that I don't reproach you in the least. Only remember this: we survive or we perish together."
By the angry gleam in M. de Coralth's eyes, the marquis must have realized that his companion was disposed to rebel; still this knowledge did not seem to disquiet him, for it was in the same icy tone that he continued: "Besides, your plans, far from conflicting with mine, will be of service to me. Yes, Madame d'Argeles must lay claim to the count's estate. If she hesitates, her son will compel her to urge her claims, will he not?"
"Oh, you may rest assured of that."
"And when he becomes rich, will you be able to retain your influence over him?"
"Rich or poor, I can mould him like wax."
"Very good. Marguerite was escaping me, but I shall soon have her in my power. I have a plan. The Fondeges think they can outwit me, but we shall soon see about that." The viscount was watching his companion stealthily; as the latter perceived, and so in a tone of brusque cordiality, he resumed: "Excuse me for not keeping you to breakfast, but I must go out immediately--Baron Trigault is waiting for me at his house. Let us part friends--au revoir--and, above all, keep me well posted about matters in general."
M. de Coralth's temper was already somewhat ruffled when he entered Valorsay's house; and he was in a furious passion when he left it. "So we are to survive or perish together," he growled. "Thanks for the preference you display for my society. Is it my fault that the fool has squandered his fortune? I fancy I've had enough of his threats and airs."
Still his wrath was not so violent as to make him forget his own interests. He at once went to inquire if the agreement which M. Wilkie had just signed would be binding. The lawyer whom he consulted replied that, at all events, a reasonable compensation would most probably be granted by the courts, in case of any difficulty; and he suggested a little plan which was a chef d'oeuvre in its way, at the same time advising his client to strike the iron while it was hot.