Gustave ran all the way to the manor. When he arrived, Antoine and Colette had not arrived yet and found Paulette instead.
“Please give this to Danielle, Mama,” he said, handing over the instructions. “This is important.”
But Paulette shook her head. “She is not here, my son. The King sent around a courier not long before you arrived. They are staying at the castle tonight, Gustave. You can bring it there if you like.”
Gustave shook his head. “They won’t let me into the castle, not without an invitation.” He was about to turn and walk away when a smile came to his lips.
“I know what to do.” He stepped closer and kissed his mother on the cheek. “I will need a horse, though. Would it be possible to take one of the de Barbarac’s prized stallions?”
Paulette smiled. “Of course, my son, providing you return it, of course.”
Gustave grinned and ran for the stables. A few minutes later, he was on the road headed for the castle.
He was looking for Laurent and found him in the soldier’s barracks toward the back of the castle.
“What are you doing here, Gustave, at this hour?”
“Could ask the same of you, Laurent,” Gustave said. “Anyway, I wanted to give you this,” Gustave said, holding out the note. “I heard that Danielle was here and she must read this. This is an urgent matter, Laurent. I would like it delivered right away.”
“Well,” Laurent said, “I suppose I could slip it under her door unless she is awake.”
“I would rather you deliver it to her.”
Laurent smiled. “I will deliver it to her, Gustave, never fear.”
“Thank you, Laurent,” Gustave said. He turned and walked away from the barracks and back to the horse. He jumped on and made for the manor.
Colette was up at the stroke of two. She lit a torch and ran out to the mud hole. She began to dig and with each small poke in the ground, she became more and more excited. After an hour of digging produced nothing, Colette was beginning to wonder if she was at the right spot.
“I know it was here,” she said, over and over to herself. “I know it was here. I buried it here.” She kept going, mud all over her. What would she tell Antoine when she returned to the manor? Where had she been? She had not been intending to return she planned to cut open the portrait and run. She wanted out of everything. Of this marriage, of living with relatives because they had nowhere else to go. She wanted to be on her own, make it on her own. She could do anything, given the chance, she was convinced of that.
She would do better, had she had her gold francs back. Colette knew they were somewhere in that house, along with the other two treasures. The journal had some instructions in it, she didn’t know what. She would have happy living on some of that gold until she made a name for herself.
But what would it matter now, all that gold was gone, disappeared into thin air. She must find it, she thought. She had to find it. She just couldn’t leave without it.
But where was it. That was the tricky part. All she knew was that she would find it and quickly. She didn’t want to stay here any more than she had to.