occurred as that blow fell does not signify that I remained，
"No; a young gentleman is with her."
The baron no longer doubted the correctness of his conjectures, and his disquietude increased. Quickly, and as if he had been in his own house, he hastened to the door of the little sitting-room and listened. At that moment rage was imparting a truly frightful intonation to M. Wilkie's voice. The baron really felt alarmed. He stooped, applied his eye to the keyhole, and seeing M. Wilkie with his hand uplifted, he burst open the door and went in. He arrived only just in time to fell Wilkie to the floor, and save Madame d'Argeles from that most terrible of humiliations: the degradation of being struck by her own son. "Ah, you rascal!" cried the worthy baron, transported with indignation, "you beggarly rascal! you brigand! Is this the way you treat an unfortunate woman who has sacrificed herself for you--your mother? You try to strike your mother, when you ought to kiss her very footprints!"
As livid as if his blood had been suddenly turned to gall--with quivering lips and eyes starting from their sockets--M. Wilkie rose, with difficulty, to his feet, at the same time rubbing his left elbow which had struck against the corner of a piece of furniture, in his fall. "Scoundrel! You brutal scoundrel!" he growled, ferociously. And then, retreating a step: "Who gave you permission to come in here?" he added. "Who are you? By what right do you meddle with my affairs?"
"By the right that every honest man possesses to chastise a cowardly rascal."
M. Wilkie shook his fist at the baron. "You are a coward yourself," he retorted. "You had better learn who you are talking to! You must mend your manners a little, you old----"
The word he uttered was so vile that no man could fail to resent it, much less the baron, who was already frantic with passion. His faced turned as purple as if he were stricken with apoplexy, and such furious rage gleamed in his eyes that Madame d'Argeles was frightened. She feared she should see her son butchered before her very eyes, and she extended her arms as if to protect him. "Jacques," she said beseechingly, "Jacques!"
This was the name which was indelibly impressed upon Wilkie's memory--the name he had heard when he was but a child. Jacques-- that was the name of the man who had brought him cakes and toys in the comfortable rooms where he had remained only a few days. He understood, or at least he thought he understood, everything. "Ah, ha!" he exclaimed, with a laugh that was at once both ferocious and idiotic. "This is very fine--monsieur is the lover. He has the say here--he--"
He did not have time to finish his sentence, for quick as thought the baron caught him by the collar, lifted him from the ground with irresistible strength, and flung him on his knees at Madame d'Argeles's feet, exclaiming: "Ask her pardon, you vile wretch! Ask her pardon, or----" "Or" meant the baron's clinched fist descending like a sledge-hammer on M. Wilkie's head.
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