At six oclock Lord Winter came in. He was armed to the teeth. This man, in whom milady till that time had only seen a rather silly gentleman, had become an admirable jailer. He appeared to foresee everything, to divine everything, to anticipate everything.
A single look at milady informed him of all that was passing in her mind.
Ay! said he, I see; but you will not kill me to-day either. You have no longer a weapon; and besides, I am on my guard. You began to pervert my poor Felton. He was already yielding to your infernal influence. But I intend to save him. He will never see you again; all is over. Get your clothes together; to-morrow you will go. I had fixed the embarkation for the 24th. But I have reflected that the more promptly the affair takes place, the more certain it will be. To-morrow at noon I shall have the order for your exile, signed Buckingham. Au revoir, then. That is all I have to say to you to-day. To-morrow I will see you again, to take my leave of you.
And at these words the baron went out.
The supper was served. Milady felt that she needed all her strength. She did not know what might take place during this night, which was approaching portentously, for enormous clouds were rolling over the face of the sky, and distant lightning announced a storm.
Suddenly she heard a tap at her window, and by the help of a flash of lightning she saw the face of a man appear behind the bars.
She ran to the window and opened it.
Felton! cried she. I am saved!
Yes, said Felton; but be silent, be silent! I must have time to file through these bars. Only take care that they do not see me through the grating of the door.
Oh, it is a proof that the Lord is on our side, Felton! replied milady. The grating is closed with a board.
That is well; God has made them mad! said Felton.
Milady shut the window, extinguished the lamp, and went to lie down on the bed. Amid the moaning of the storm she heard the grinding of the file on the bars, and by the light of every flash she saw Feltons shadow behind the panes.
She spent an hour scarcely breathing, panting, with a cold sweat on her brow, and her heart oppressed by frightful agony at every movement she heard in the corridor.
There are hours that last a year.
At the end of an hour Felton tapped again.
Milady sprang out of bed and opened the window. Two bars removed made an opening large enough for a man to pass through.
Are you ready? asked Felton.
Yes. Must I take anything with me?
Money, if you have any.
Yes; fortunately they have left me all I had.
So much the better, for I have expended all mine in hiring a vessel.
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