ground by his great weight; then wriggling and squirming，
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."
"Ah! allow me to finish, my dear friend. I have my plan, and it is as plain as daylight. This evening you will write to your London correspondent. Request M. Patterson to summon your son to England, under any pretext whatever; let him pretend that he wishes to give him some money, for instance. He will go there, of course, and then we will keep him there. Coralth certainly won't run after him, and we shall have nothing more to fear on that score."
"Great heavens!" murmured Madame d'Argeles, "why did this idea never occur to me?"
The baron had now completely recovered his composure. "As regards yourself," said he, "the plan you ought to adopt is still more simple. What is your furniture worth? About a hundred thousand francs, isn't it? Very well, then. You will sign me notes, dated some time back, to the amount of a hundred thousand francs. On the day these notes fall due, on Monday, for instance, they will be presented for payment. You will refuse to pay them. A writ will be served, and an attachment placed upon your furniture; but you will offer no resistance. I don't know if I explain my meaning very clearly."
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