for mercy. Why had he suddenly remembered that? It was
"What is the meaning of this reception?" asked he.
"Can you not guess?" returned Mascarin, his manner growing more and more threatening. "I have sounded the lowest depths of your infamy. I was sure the other day that you meant to turn traitor, but you swore to the contrary, and you--"
"It is useless. One word from Perpignan set us on the right track. Were you or were you not ignorant that the Duke de Champdoce had a certain way of recognizing his son, and that was by a certain ineffaceable scar?"
The words faded from his lips, for even his great self-command failed him under Mascarin's disdainful glance.
"Let me tell you what I think of you," said the latter. "I knew that you were a coward and a traitor. Even convicts keep faith with each other, and I had not thought you so utterly infamous."
"Then why have you forced me to act contrary to my wishes?"
This reply exasperated Mascarin so much that he grasped Catenac by the throat, and shook him violently.
"I made use of you, you viper," said he, "because I had placed you in such a position that you could not harm us. And now you will serve me because I will show you that I can take everything from you--name, money, liberty, and /life/. All depends upon our success. If we fail, you fall into an abyss of the depth and horrors of which you can have no conception. I knew with whom I had to deal, and took my measures accordingly. The most crushing proofs of your crime are in the hands of a person who has precise orders how to act. When I give the signal, he moves; and when he moves, you are utterly lost."