former room that opened on the passage in the wall. From this she took the key, and put it on the outer side. She then came back.
The men--the second of whom was a dark, bilious subject, in a jacket, close shaved, and with a black head of hair close cropped--had completed their preparation of the table, and were standing looking at it. He who had spoken before, inquired whether Madame thought it would be long before Monsieur arrived?
`She couldn't say. It was all one.'
`Pardon! There was the supper! It should be eaten on the instant. Monsieur (who spoke French like an Angel--or a Frenchman--it was all the same) had spoken with great emphasis of his punctuality. But the English nation had so grand a genius for punctuality. Ah! what noise! Great Heaven, here was Monsieur. Behold him!'
In effect, Monsieur, admitted by the other of the two, came, with his gleaming teeth, through the dark rooms, like a mouth; and arriving in that sanctuary of light and colour, a figure at full length, embraced Madame, and addressed her in the French tongue as his charming wife.
`My God! Madame is going to faint. Madame is overcome with joy!' The bald man with the beard observed it, and cried out.
Madame had only shrunk and shivered. Before the words were spoken, she was standing with her hand upon the velvet back of a great chair; her figure drawn up to its full height, and her face immoveable.
The hot dishes were on a chafing-dish; the cold already set forth, with the change of service on a sideboard. Monsieur was satisfied with this arrangement. The supper table being small, it pleased him very well. Let them set the chafing-dish upon the floor, and go. He would remove the dishes with his own hands.
`Pardon!' said the bald man, politely. `It was impossible!'
Monsieur was of another opinion. He required no further attendance that night.
`Madame,' replied Monsieur, `had her own maid. It was enough.'
`A million pardons! No! Madame had no maid!'
`I came here alone,' said Edith. `It was my choice to do so. I am well used to travelling; I want no attendance. They need send nobody to me.'
Monsieur accordingly, persevering in his first proposed impossibility, proceeded to follow the two attendants to the outer door, and secure it after them for the night. The bald man turning round to bow, as he went out, observed that Madame still stood with her hand upon the velvet back of the great chair, and that her face was quite regardless of him, though she was looking straight before her.
As the sound of Carker's fastening the door resounded through the intermediate rooms, and seemed to come hushed and stifled into that last distant one, the sound of the Cathedral clock striking twelve mingled with it, in Edith's ears. She heard him pause, as if he heard it too and listened; and then came back towards her, laying a long train of footsteps through the silence, and shutting all the doors behind
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