"Perhaps not, but my people do. When he swore to keep the matter secret, he was unmarried, but a few years later, having entered the bonds of matrimony, he told all to his young wife. This woman turned out badly; she had several lovers, and through one of them the matter came to my employer's ears."
"And it was on the word of a lackey, and the gossip of a dissolute woman, that they have dared to accuse me."
No word of direct accusation had passed, and yet the Count sought to defend himself.
Mascarin saw all this, and smiled inwardly, as he replied, "We have other evidence than that of Ludovic."
"But," said the Count, who was sure of the fidelity of his friend, "you do not, I suppose, pretend that the Baron de Clinchain has deceived me?"
The state of mental anxiety and perturbation into which this man of the world had been thrown must have been very intense for him not to have perceived that every word he uttered put a fresh weapon in his adversary's hands.
"He has not denounced you by word of mouth," replied the agent. "He has done far more; he has written his testimony."
"It is a lie," exclaimed the Count.