She drew back, exclaiming:
"Oh, George, that is unworthy of you," and pressing her two hands to her heart, began to choke and sob.
When he saw the tears come he took his hat from the corner of the mantelpiece, saying:
"Oh, you are going to cry, are you?
So it was to show off in this way that you came here, eh?"
She had taken a step forward in order to bar the way, and quickly pulling out a handkerchief from her pocket, wiped her eyes with an abrupt movement.
Her voice grew firmer by the effort of her will, as she said, in tones tremulous with pain,
"No--I came to--to tell you some news--political news--to put you in the way of gaining fifty thousand francs--or even more--if you like."
He inquired, suddenly softening,
What do you mean?"
"I caught, by chance, yesterday evening, some words between my husband and Laroche-Mathieu.
They do not, besides, trouble themselves to hide much from me.
But Walter recommended the Minister not to let you into the secret, as you would reveal everything."
Du Roy had put his hat down on a chair, and was waiting very attentively.
"What is up, then?" said he.
"They are going to take possession of Morocco."
I lunched with Laroche-Mathieu, who almost dictated to me the intention of the Cabinet."
"No, darling, they are humbugging you, because they were afraid lest their plan should be known."
"Sit down," said George, and sat down himself in an armchair.
Then she drew towards him a low stool, and sitting down on it between his knees, went on in a coaxing tone,
"As I am always thinking about you, I pay attention now to everything that is whispered around me."
And she began quietly to explain to him how she had guessed for some time past that something was being hatched unknown to him; that they were making use of him, while dreading his co-operation.
She said, "You know, when one is in love, one grows cunning."
At length, the day before, she had understood it all.
It was a business transaction, a thumping affair, worked out on the quiet.
She smiled now, happy in her dexterity, and grew excited, speaking like a financier's wife accustomed to see the market rigged, used to rises and falls that ruin, in two hours of speculation, thousands of little folk who have placed their savings in undertakings guaranteed by the names of men honored and respected in the world of politics of finance.
She repeated, "Oh, it is very smart what they have been up to!
It was Walter who did it all, though, and he knows all about such things.
Really, it is a first-class job."
He grew impatient at these preliminaries, and exclaimed,
"Come, tell me what it is at once."
"Well, then, this is what it is.
The Tangiers expedition was decided upon between them on the day that Laroche-Mathieu took the ministry of foreign affairs, and little by little they have bought up the whole of the Morocco loan, which had fallen to sixty-four or sixty-five francs.
They have bought it up very cleverly by means of shady brokers, who did not awaken any mistrust.
They have even sold the Rothschilds, who grew astonished to find Morocco stock always asked for, and who were astonished by having agents pointed out to them--all lame ducks.
That quieted the big financiers.
And now the expedition is to take place, and as soon as we are there the French Government will guarantee the debt.
Our friends will gain fifty or sixty millions.
You understand the matter?
You understand, too, how afraid they have been of everyone, of the slightest indiscretion?"
She had leaned her head against the young fellow's waistcoat, and with her arms resting on his legs, pressed up against him, feeling that she was interesting him now, and ready to do anything for a caress, for a smile.
"You are quite certain?" he asked.
"I should think so," she replied, with confidence.
"It is very smart indeed.
As to that swine of a Laroche-Mathieu, just see if I don't pay him out one of these days.
Oh, the scoundrel, just let him look out for himself!