"I deny nothing!" Saintonge cried, fierce and trembling as a baited animal. "For that matter, I would to Heaven he had had her!" he continued bitterly.
"Ay, so you say now," the irrepressible St. Germain retorted, "when you know that be is dead!"
"I do not know that he is dead," Saintonge answered. "And, for that matter, if he were alive and here now he should have her. I am tired; I have suffered enough."
"What! Do you tell the King," the young fellow replied incredulously, "that if St. Mesmin were here you would give him your daughter?"
"I do--I do!" the other exclaimed passionately. "To be rid of him, and you, and all your crew!"
"Tut, tut!" the King said. "Whatever betides, I will answer for it, you shall have protection and justice, M. de Saintonge. And do you, young sir, be silent. Be silent, do you hear! We have had too much noise introduced into this already."
He proceeded then to ask certain details, and particularly the hour at which St. Mesmin had been last seen. Notwithstanding that these facts were in the main matters of common agreement, some wrangling took place over them; which was only brought to an end at last in a manner sufficiently startling. The King with his usual thoughtfulness had bidden St. Mesmin be seated. On a sudden the old man rose; I heard him utter a cry of amazement, and following the direction of his eyes I looked towards the door. There stood his son!
At an appearance so unexpected a dozen exclamations filled the air; but to describe the scene which ensued or the various emotions that were evinced by this or that person, as surprise or interest or affection moved them, were a task on which I am not inclined to enter. Suffice it that the foremost and the loudest in these expressions of admiration was young St. Germain; and that the King, after glancing from face to face in puzzled perplexity, began to make a shrewd guess at the truth.
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