by the folds of flesh. If you have ever seen a collie smile，
"I was then ignorant of Mademoiselle Marguerite's existence. I did not know that the young man was beloved by my brother's daughter--I did not know--"
The baron interrupted her, and exclaimed, indignantly: "Ah! what does that matter? It was none the less an abominable action."
She hung her head, and in a scarcely audible voice replied: "I was not free. I submitted to a will that was stronger than my own. If you had heard M. de Coralth's threats you would not censure me so severely. He has discovered my secret; he knows Wilkie--I am in his power. Don't frown--I make no attempt to excuse myself--I am only explaining the position in which I was placed. My peril is imminent; I have only confidence in you--you alone can aid me; listen!"
Thereupon she hastily explained M. de Coralth's position respecting herself, what she had been able to ascertain concerning the Marquis de Valorsay's plans, the alarming visit she had received from M. Fortunat, his advice and insinuations, the dangers she apprehended, and her firm determination to deliver Mademoiselle Marguerite from the machinations of her enemies. Madame d'Argeles's disclosures formed, as it were, a sequel to the confidential revelations of Pascal Ferailleur, and the involuntary confession of the Marquis de Valorsay; and the baron could no longer doubt the existence of the shameful intrigue which had been planned in view of obtaining possession of the count's millions. And if he did not, at first, understand the motives, he at least began to discern what means had been employed. He now understood why Valorsay persisted in his plan of marrying Mademoiselle Marguerite, even without a fortune. "The wretch knows through Coralth that Madame d'Argeles is a Chalusse," he said to himself; "and when Mademoiselle Marguerite has become his wife, he intends to oblige Madame d'Argeles to accept her brother's estate and share it with him."
At that same moment Madame d'Argeles finished her narrative. "And now, what shall I do?" she added.
The baron was stroking his chin, as was his usual habit when his mind was deeply exercised. "The first thing to be done," he replied, "is to show Coralth in his real colors, and prove M. Ferailleur's innocence. It will probably cost me a hundred thousand francs to do so, but I shall not grudge the money. I should probably spend as much or even more in play next summer; and the amount had better be spent in a good cause than in swelling the dividends of my friend Blanc, at Baden."
"But M. de Coralth will speak out as soon as he finds that I have revealed his shameful past."
Madame d'Argeles shuddered. "Then the name of Chalusse will be disgraced," said she; "and Wilkie will know who his mother is."
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