result in a curtailment of my liberties, as well as the，
So, at about seven o'clock on Monday evening, although still grievously suffering both in mind and body, she arranged herself to receive her guests. From among all her dresses, she chose the same dark robe she had worn on the night when Pascal Ferailleur was ruined at her house; and as she was even paler than usual, she tried to conceal the fact by a prodigal use of rouge. At ten o'clock, when the first arrivals entered the brilliantly lighted rooms, they found her seated as usual on the sofa, near the fire, with the same eternal, unchangeable smile upon her lips. There were at least forty persons in the room, and the gambling had become quite animated when the baron entered. Madame d'Argeles read in his eyes that he was the bearer of good news. "Everything is going on well," he whispered, as he shook hands with her. "I have seen M. Ferailleur--I wouldn't give ten sous for Valorsay's and Coralth's chances."
This intelligence revived Madame d'Argeles's drooping spirits, and she received M. de Coralth with perfect composure when he came to pay his respects to her soon afterward. For he had the impudence to come, in order to dispel any suspicions that might have been aroused anent his complicity in the card-cheating affair. The hostess's calmness amazed him. Was she still ignorant of her brother's death and the complications arising from it, or was she only acting a part? He was so anxious and undecided, that instead of mingling with the groups of talkers, he at once took a seat at the card-table, whence he could watch the poor woman's every movement.
Both rooms were full, and almost everybody was engaged in play, when, shortly after midnight, a servant entered the room, whispered a few words in his mistress's ear, and handed her a card. She took it, glanced at it, and uttered so harsh, so terrible, so heart-broken a cry, that several of the guests sprang to their feet. "What is it? What is it?" they asked. She tried to reply, but could not. Her lips parted, she opened her mouth, but no sound came forth. She turned ghastly white under her rouge, and a wild, unnatural light gleamed in her eyes. One curious guest, without a thought of harm, tried to take the card, which she still held in her clinched hand; but she repulsed him with such an imperious gesture that he recoiled in terror. "What is it? What is the matter with her?" was the astonished query on every side.
At last, with a terrible effort, she managed to reply, "Nothing." And then, after clinging for a moment to the mantel-shelf, in order to steady herself, she tottered out of the room.
It was not enough to tell M. Wilkie the secret of his birth. He must be taught how to utilize the knowledge. The Viscount de Coralth devoted himself to this task, and burdened Wilkie with such a host of injunctions, that it was quite evident he had but a poor opinion of his pupil's sagacity. "That woman d'Argeles," he thought, "is as sharp as steel. She will deceive this young idiot completely, if I don't warn him."
So he did warn him; and Wilkie was instructed exactly what to do and say, how to answer any questions, and what position to take up according to circumstances. Moreover, he was especially enjoined to distrust tears, and not to let himself be put out of countenance by haughty airs. The Viscount spent at least an hour in giving explanations and advice, to the great disgust of M. Wilkie, who, feeling that he was being treated like a child, somewhat testily declared that he was no fool, and that he knew how to take care of himself as well as any one else. Still, this did not prevent M. de Coralth from persisting in his instructions until he was persuaded that he had prepared his pupil for all possible emergencies. He then rose to depart. "That's all, I think," he remarked, with a shade of uneasiness. "I've traced the plan--you must execute it, and keep cool, or the game's lost."
His companion rose proudly. "If it fails, it won't be from any fault of mine," he answered with unmistakable petulance.
"And understand, that whatever happens, my name is not to be mentioned."
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