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SERIGNY'S DEPARTURE

If Bienville were involved in the general ruin, why, what mattered it to them?

While I remained hesitating for a word, Jerome's ready wit had already comprehended my purpose. He took the words from my lips. His countenance first flushed, then became hard and fixed, compelling me for the time into silence.

"Monsieur de Serigny, I perhaps can speak you better our good Captain's mind. He mistrusts me—."

"You?" burst out Serigny greatly surprised. "Why you have ever been our staunch and loyal friend. What is this, Captain de Mouret, surely you are above a young man's jealousy?"

Jerome gave me no time to explain.

"Softly, softly, sir. The Captain has good cause. Give me heed, my friends. To you, M. de Serigny, I will say upon my honour, which until this day was never stained by thought or deed, I will say,—this day I would have betrayed you. Nay, do not look so pained and unbelieving; all men are mortal, and passions stronger even than duty, stronger than loyalty, yea, stronger than honour itself, may tyrannize over the best of us. I repeat, this day would I gladly have betrayed you, betrayed my friends to save—well it boots not whom, but a woman. For the woman I love may lose her liberty if not her life when those accursed papers reach the hands of the King. I was mad, and at this moment doubt and fear myself. It is better not to trust me with your plans; the Captain is right. Jerome de Greville never yet deceived a friend, but for the love of God, Messires, do