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195
SERIGNY'S DEPARTURE

and becoming much interested I broke in upon a glowing account of my heroism:

"Hold, Jerome, by my faith, you grow more garrulous than a fish-wife of the barriers; tell but a plain, straight tale, and leave off all that romantic garniture of thine," and thence I reclaimed my straggling story and brought it to a conclusion. All this while the dispatches for which we had risked so much lay safe in my breast. I rather hesitated to produce them, dreading what the hot-headed fellow might do to get a hold upon that which peradventure would cause trouble to his lady love. I could not decline when Serigny asked for them, but hauled out both packets, one taken from Yvard, the other from Broussard, casting them upon the table. Jerome eyed them so I that knew from the look his late fury was not yet dead, and I watched him in readiness for any move he might make to repossess them.

He sat as unconcerned as if the whole affair interested him no further, now that the main object of his solicitude was safe in the keeping of his superior. I misdoubted whether this was not all a sham, and could hardly believe him the same frenzied Jerome who had pleaded so hard, and fought so desperately for this self-same packet of Yvard's, which at this time reposed within easy reach of his hand. Once he reached out and took it up negligently, inspected the seals and marks, then replaced it. His examination seemed one of mere idle curiosity, or would have so appeared had I not known that he was already perfectly acquainted with every mark borne by our charge. The eyes, half closed