50 CHAT BETWEEN BROTHER AND SISTER
During the time which Lord de Winter took to shut the door, close a shutter, and draw a chair near to his sister-in-law's fauteuil, Milady, anxiously thoughtful, plunged her glance into the depths of possibility, and discovered all the plan, of which she could not even obtain a glance as long as she was ignorant into whose hands she had fallen. She knew her brother-in-law to be a worthy gentleman, a bold hunter, an intrepid player, enterprising with women, but by no means remarkable for his skill in intrigues. How had he discovered her arrival, and caused her to be seized? Why did he detain her?
Athos had dropped some words which proved that the conversation she had with the cardinal had fallen into outside ears; but she could not suppose that he had dug a countermine so promptly and so boldly. She rather feared that her preceding operations in England might have been discovered. Buckingham might have guessed that it was she who had cut off the two studs, and avenge himself for that little treachery; but Buckingham was incapable of going to any excess against a woman, particularly if that woman was supposed to have acted from a feeling of jealousy.
This supposition appeared to her most reasonable. It seemed to her that they wanted to revenge the past, and not to anticipate the future. At all events, she congratulated herself upon having fallen into the hands of her brother-in-law, with whom she reckoned she could deal very easily, rather than into the hands of an acknowledged and intelligent enemy.
"Yes, let us chat, brother," said she, with a kind of cheerfulness, decided as she was to draw from the conversation, in spite of all the dissimulation Lord de Winter could bring, the revelations of which she stood in need to regulate her future conduct.
"You have, then, decided to come to England again," said Lord de Winter, "in spite of the resolutions you so often expressed in Paris never to set your feet on British ground?"
Milady replied to this question by another question. "To begin with, tell me," said she, "how have you watched me so closely as to be aware beforehand not only of my arrival, but even of the day, the hour, and the port at which I should arrive?"
Lord de Winter adopted the same tactics as Milady, thinking that as his sister-in-law employed them they must be the best.
"But tell me, my dear sister," replied he, "what makes you come to England?"
"I come to see you," replied Milady, without knowing how much she aggravated by this reply the suspicions to which d'Artagnan's letter had given birth in the mind of her brother-in-law, and only desiring to gain the good will of her auditor by a falsehood.
"Ah, to see me?" said de Winter, cunningly.
"To be sure, to see you. What is there astonishing in that?"
"And you had no other object in coming to England but to see me?"
"So it was for me alone you have taken the trouble to cross the Channel?"
"For you alone."
"The deuce! What tenderness, my sister!"
"But am I not your nearest relative?" demanded Milady, with a tone of the most touching ingenuousness.
"And my only heir, are you not?" said Lord de Winter in his turn, fixing his eyes on those of Milady.
Whatever command she had over herself, Milady could not help starting; and as in pronouncing the last words Lord de Winter placed his hand upon the arm of his sister, this start did not escape him.