CHAPTER V A LETTER FROM LUPIN
The Duke stood for a while staring thoughtfully at the door through which Sonia had passed, a faint smile playing round his lips. He crossed the hall to the Chippendale bureau, took a cigarette from a box which stood on the ledge of it, beside the morocco case which held the pendant, lighted it, and went slowly out on to the terrace. He crossed it slowly, paused for a moment on the edge of it, and looked across the stretch of country with musing eyes, which saw nothing of its beauty. Then he turned to the right, went down a flight of steps to the lower terrace, crossed the lawn, and took a narrow path which led into the heart of a shrubbery of tall deodoras. In the middle of it he came to one of those old stone benches, moss-covered and weather-stained, which adorn the gardens of so many French chateaux.佛山桑拿按摩qq女 It faced a marble basin from which rose the slender column of a pattering fountain. The figure of a Cupid danced joyously on a tall pedestal to the right of the basin. The Duke sat down on the bench, and was still, with that rare stillness which only comes of nerves in perfect harmony, his brow knitted in careful thought. Now and again the frown cleared from his face, and his intent features relaxed into a faint smile, a smile of pleasant memory. Once he rose, walked round the fountains frowning, came back to the bench, and sat down again. The early September dusk was upon him when at last he rose and with quick steps took his way through the shrubbery, with the air of a man whose mind, for good or ill, was at last made up.
When he came on to the upper terrace his eyes fell on a group which stood at the further corner, near 佛山桑拿网论坛 the entrance of the chateau, and he sauntered slowly up to it.
In the middle of it stood M. Gournay-Martin, a big, round, flabby hulk of a man. He was nearly as red in the face as M. Charolais; and he looked a great deal redder owing to the extreme whiteness of the whiskers which stuck out on either side of his vast expanse of cheek. As he came up, it struck the Duke as rather odd that he should have the Charolais eyes, set close together; any one who did not know that they were strangers to one another might have thought it a family likeness.
The millionaire was waving his hands and roaring after the manner of a man who has cultivated the art of brow-beating those with whom he does business; and as the Duke neared the group, he caught the words:
“No; that’s the lowest I’ll take. Take it or leave it. You can say Yes, 佛山桑拿飞机网 or you can say Good-bye; and I don’t care a hang which.”
“It’s very dear,” said M. Charolais, in a mournful tone.
“Dear!” roared M. Gournay-Martin. “I should like to see any one else sell a hundred horse-power car for eight hundred pounds. Why, my good sir, you’re having me!”
“No, no,” protested M. Charolais feebly.
“I tell you you’re having me,” roared M. Gournay-Martin. “I’m letting you have a magnificent car for which I paid thirteen hundred pounds for eight hundred! It’s scandalous the way you’ve beaten me down!”
“No, no,” protested M. Charolais.
He seemed frightened out of his life by the vehemence of the big man.
“You wait till you’ve seen how it goes,” said M. Gournay-Martin.
“Eight hundred is very dear,” said M. Charolais.
“Come, come! You’re too sharp, that’s what you are. But don’t say any more till 佛山桑拿交流群 you’ve tried the car.”
He turned to his chauffeur, who stood by watching the struggle with an appreciative grin on his brown face, and said: “Now, Jean, take these gentlemen to the garage, and run them down to the station. Show them what the car can do. Do whatever they ask you—everything.”
He winked at Jean, turned again to M. Charolais, and said: “You know, M. Charolais, you’re too good a man of business for me. You’re hot stuff, that’s what you are—hot
stuff. You go along and try the car. Good-bye—good-bye.”
The four Charolais murmured good-bye in deep depression, and went off with Jean, wearing something of the air of whipped dogs. When they had gone round the corner the millionaire turned to the Duke and said, with a chuckle: “He’ll buy the car all right—had him fine!”
“No business success of yours could surprise 佛山桑拿按摩一条龙图片 me,” said the Duke blandly, with a faint, ironical smile.
M. Gournay-Martin’s little pig’s eyes danced and sparkled; and the smiles flowed over the distended skin of his face like little ripples over a stagnant pool, reluctantly. It seemed to be too tightly stretched for smiles.
“The car’s four years old,” he said joyfully. “He’ll give me eight hundred for it, and it’s not worth a pipe of tobacco. And eight hundred pounds is just the price of a little Watteau I’ve had my eye on for some time—a first-class investment.”
They strolled down the terrace, and through one of the windows into the hall. Firmin had lighted the lamps, two of them. They made but a small oasis of light in a desert of dim hall. The millionaire let himself down very gingerly into an Empire chair, as if he feared, with excellent reason, that it might 佛山夜生活上门 collapse under his weight.
“Well, my dear Duke,” he said, “you don’t ask me the result of my official lunch or what the minister said.”
“Is there any news?” said the Duke carelessly.
“Yes. The decree will be signed to-morrow. You can consider yourself decorated. I hope you feel a happy man,” said the millionaire, rubbing his fat hands together with prodigious satisfaction.
“Oh, charmed—charmed,” said the Duke, with entire indifference.
“As for me, I’m delighted—delighted,” said the millionaire. “I was extremely keen on your being decorated. After that, and after a volume or two of travels, and after you’ve published your grandfather’s letters with a good introduction, you can begin to think of the Academy.”
“The Academy!” said the Duke, startled from his usual coolness. “But I’ve no title to become an Academician.”
“How, no title?” said the millionaire solemnly; and his little eyes opened wide. “You’re a duke.”
“There’s no doubt about that,” said the Duke, watching him with admiring curiosity.
“I mean to marry my daughter to a worker—a worker, my dear Duke,” said the millionaire, slapping his big left hand with his bigger right. “I’ve no prejudices—not I. I wish to have for son-in-law a duke who wears the Order of the Legion of Honour, and belongs to the Academie Francaise, because that is personal merit. I’m no snob.”
A gentle, irrepressible laugh broke from the Duke.
“What are you laughing at?” said the millionaire, and a sudden lowering gloom overspread his beaming face.
“Nothing—nothing,” said the Duke quietly. “Only you’re so full of surprises.”
“I’ve startled you, have I? I thought I should. It’s true that I’m 佛山桑拿报告 full of surprises. It’s my knowledge. I understand so much. I understand business, and I love art, pictures, a good bargain, bric-a-brac, fine tapestry. They’re first-class investments. Yes, certainly I do love the beautiful. And I don’t want to boast, but I understand it. I have taste, and I’ve something better than taste; I have a flair, the dealer’s flair.”
“Yes, your collections, especially your collection in Paris, prove it,” said the Duke, stifling a yawn.
“And yet you haven’t seen the finest thing I have—the coronet of the Princesse de Lamballe. It’s worth half a million francs.”
“So I’ve heard,” said the Duke, a little wearily. “I don’t wonder that Arsene Lupin envied you it.”
The Empire chair creaked as the millionaire jumped.
“Don’t speak of the swine!” he roared. “Don’t mention his name before me.”
“Germaine showed me his letter,” said the Duke. “It is amusing.”