The Count was deceived by the honest accents which long practice had taught Mascarin to use, and he had neither a suspicion nor a presentiment.
"Ah!" said he majestically, "a business agent, are you? I presume you come on behalf of one of my creditors. Well, sir, as I have before told these people, your errand is a futile one. Why do they worry me when I unhesitatingly pay the extravagant interest they are pleased to demand? They know that they are all knaves. They are aware that I am rich, for I have inherited a great fortune, which is certainly without encumbrance; for though I could raise a million to-morrow upon my estates in Poitiers, I have up to this time not chosen to do so."
Mascarin had at length so recovered his self-command that he listened to this speech without a word, hoping to gain some information from it.
"You may tell this," continued the Count, "to those by whom you are employed."
"I have nothing more to say; all will be settled as I promised, when I pay my daughter's dowry. You are aware that she will shortly be united to M. de Breulh-Faverlay."
There was no mistaking the order to go, contained in these words, but Mascarin did not offer to do so, but readjusting his spectacles, remarked in a perfectly calm voice,--
"It is this marriage that has brought me here."
The Count thought that his ears had deceived him. "What are you saying?" said he.