You cannot know to what degree I love my daughter; I have nursed her for fifteen years hovering between life and death, and this week of waiting is torture to me." The baron left the room staggering like a drunken man. The doctor followed and supported him by the arm until he saw him safely down the staircase. An hour later Auguste de Mergi entered the doctor's room.
"What is your mother's name?" he asked. "My mother is the Baronne de Mergi; my father was the son of the president of the Royal Court at Rouen." "Ah!" said Godefroid; "then your grandfather married his daughter to the son of the famous president Mergi." "Yes, monsieur." "Now, my little friend, leave me," said Godefroid. He went with young Mergi to the landing, and called to Madame Vauthier.
He did not disturb himself at the young man's entrance, but went on sopping his bread in the chocolate; for he never ate anything for breakfast but a small roll cut into four strips with careful precision. "Well, young man," he said, glancing at Vanda's son, "so you have come, too, to find out about your mother?" "Yes, monsieur;" replied Auguste de Mergi.
"Well, my dear boy," he replied familiarly, "I am taking care of your mother, and I shall return her to you young and handsome and perfectly well in health. Here is one of those rare cases in which physicians take an interest. Besides, through her mother, she is a compatriot of mine. You and your grandfather must for two weeks have the courage to keep away from Madame ?" "The Baronne de Mergi."
The president, du Ronceret, and the vice-president, Blondet, of the court of Alencon did their best to save our poor lady. But the influence of the councillor of the Imperial Court who presided at her trial before the Criminal and Special Court, the famous Mergi, and that of Bourlac the attorney-general was such over the other judges that they obtained her condemnation.
"Steady, lads steady a moment," cried Potts, enchanted with the success of the experiment; "leave her where she is, that her buoyancy may be fully attested. You know, masters," he cried, with a loud voice, "the meaning of this water ordeal. Non potest mergi, as Pliny saith.
When he reached the Rond-point Godefroid crossed it quickly, on account of the many carriages that were passing rapidly. As he reached the other side in haste he knocked against a young man with a lady on his arm. "Take care!" said the young man; "are you blind?" "Hey! is it you?" cried Godefroid, recognizing Auguste de Mergi.
Both Bourlac and Mergi showed extraordinary bitterness against mother and daughter; they called the Baronne des Tours-Minieres 'the woman Bryond, and Madame 'the woman Lechantre. The names of accused persons in those days were all brought to one republican level, and were sometimes unrecognizable.
As much attracted by that exquisite voice, now rescued from the silence of the grave, as by a burning curiosity, Godefroid offered his arm to the hand held out to him by the Baronne de Mergi, who signed to her son to precede them, charging him with a commission which he seemed to understand.
In case you do not believe in the honor of him who will forever regard you as a benefactor, I pray you to keep silence about an act which would be quite unjustifiable under other circumstances; for by so doing you will save my grandfather's life, just as you are saving my mother's life; and I shall be forever Your devoted servant, Auguste de Mergi.