I laughed, and changed the subject. I had no particular，
"Then will madame be so kind as to pass in. She will not be obliged to wait long. There are only four or five persons before her."
Four or five persons! How long would she be obliged to wait?--half an hour--two hours? She had not the slightest idea. But she DID know that she had not a second to lose, that Madame Leon might return at any moment, and find the letter missing; and, to crown all, she remembered now that she had not even locked the drawer again. "I cannot wait," she said, imperiously. "I must speak to M. Carjat at once."
"At once, I tell you. Go and tell him that he must come."
Her tone was so commanding, and there was so much authority in her glance, that the servant hesitated no longer. He ushered her into a little sitting-room, and said, "If madame will take a seat, I will call monsieur."
She sank on to a chair, for her limbs were failing her. She was beginning to realize the strangeness of the step she had taken--to fear the result it might lead to--and to be astonished at her own boldness. But she had no time to prepare what she wished to say, for a man of five-and-thirty, wearing a mustache and imperial, and clad in a velvet coat, entered the room, and bowing with an air of surprise, exclaimed: "You desire to speak with me, madame?"
"I have a great favor to ask of you, monsieur."
She drew M. de Valorsay's letter from her pocket, and, showing it to the photographer, she said, "I have come to you, monsieur, to ask you to photograph this letter--but at once--before me--and quickly--very quickly. The honor of two persons is imperilled by each moment I lose here."
Mademoiselle Marguerite's embarrassment was extreme. Her cheeks were crimson, and she trembled like a leaf. Still her attitude was proud, generous enthusiasm glowed in her dark eyes, and her tone of voice revealed the serenity of a lofty soul ready to dare anything for a just and noble cause. This striking contrast--this struggle between girlish timidity and a lover's virgil energy, endowed her with a strange and powerful charm, which the photographer made no attempt to resist. Unusual as was the request, he did not hesitate. "I am ready to do what you desire, madame," he replied, bowing again.
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