The Flexible Feast


Madame Gerdy lived in respectable style.The party, led by the gendarmes, followed the main road which here bordered the river until it reached this lane, into which it turned, and stumbled over the rugged inequalities of the ground for about a hundred yards, when it arrived in front of a cottage of extremely modest yet respectable appearance. Madame Gerdy lived in respectable style. As she gave no promise of beauty, she was on the point of being placed in a shop, when an old and respectable gentleman, who had known her mamma some years previously, accorded her his protection. Do you call this an existence, never to budge out of the house even?” “It is the life of all the respectable women that I know,” replied the advocate drily. Happily, though, I am not a respectable woman, and I can tell you I am tired of living more closely shut up than the wife of a Turk, with your face for sole amusement.” “You live shut up, you?” “Certainly!” continued Juliette, with increased bitterness. /

How could they do it, seeing before them the empty seat, once occupied by her who was the life of the whole house, and now never to be filled again?THE CLIQUE OF GOLD I. As soon as you enter, you are struck by a minute, extreme neatness, which reminds you of Holland, and almost sets you a-laughing. The neighbors might use the brass plate on the door as a mirror to shave in; the stone floor is polished till it shines; and the woodwork of the staircase is varnished to perfection. In the entrance-hall a number of notices, written in the peculiar style which owners of houses affect, request the tenants to respect the property of others, without regard to the high price they pay for their share. The first story was occupied by the families of two independent gentlemen, whose simplicity of mind was only equalled by that of their mode of life. A collector, who occasionally acted as broker, lived in the second story, and had his offices there. He dealt in second-hand merchandise, furniture, curiosities, and toilet articles; and his rooms were filled to overflowing with a medley collection of things which he was in the habit of buying at auctions. An addition to the house in the rear had its own staircase, and was probably in the hands of still humbler tenants; but then it is so difficult to rent out small lodgings! Not one of them would have been trusted with a dollar’s worth of goods in any of the neighboring shops. No one, however, stood, rightly or wrongly, in as bad repute as the doorkeeper, or concierge, who lived in a little hole near the great double entrance-door, and watched over the safety of the whole house.

Master Chevassat and his wife were severely “cut” by their colleagues of adjoining houses; and the most atrocious stories were told of both husband and wife. Master Chevassat was reputed to be well off; but the story went that he lent out money, and did not hesitate to charge a hundred per cent a month. He acted, besides, it was said, as agent for two of his tenants,--the broker, and the dealer in second-hand goods, and undertook the executions, when poor debtors were unable to pay. Honore, but had been compelled to leave there on account of several ugly occurrences. They were, finally, reported to have a son called Justin, a handsome fellow, thirty-five years old, who lived in the best society, and whom they nearly worshipped; while he was ashamed of them, and despised them, although he came often at night to ask them for money. Towards the end of last December, however, on a Saturday afternoon, towards five o’clock, husband and wife were just sitting down to dinner, when the dealer in old clothes, Papa Ravinet, rushed like a tempest into their room. He was a man of middle size, clean shaven, with small, bright, yellowish eyes, which shone with restless eagerness from under thick, bushy brows.

“Quick, Chevassat!” he cried, with a voice full of trouble. This very moment, as I was just coming out of my room, I thought I heard the death-rattle of a dying person. Of course I ran up a few steps, I listened.

I went down again, thinking I had been mistaken; and at once I heard again a sighing, a sobbing--I can’t tell you exactly what; but it sounded exactly like the last sigh of a person in agony, and at the point of death.” “And then?” “Then I ran down to tell you, and ask you to come up. I am not sure, you understand; but I think I could swear it was the voice of Miss Henrietta,--that pretty young girl who lives up there. But never mind; we must see what it is.” During this conversation, the door of the room had been open; and several of the lodgers, hearing the voice of the merchant and the exclamations of the woman as they crossed the hall, had stopped and listened. The steps of all these people were heard all over the house; and from story to story the lodgers opened their doors to see what was going on. He knocked at first gently, then harder, and at last with all his energy, till his heavy fists shook the thin partition-walls of all the rooms. “Now there is, perhaps, a chance yet to save the poor girl; and, when you come back, it will of course be too late.” “What’s to be done, then?” “Break in the door.” “I dare not.” “Well, I will.” The kind-hearted man put his shoulder to the worm-eaten door, and in a moment the lock gave way. The door was wide open, and masses of vapors rolled out.

The feeble light of the lamp had gone out in the foul air; and the darkness was frightful. Nothing could be seen but the reddish glow of the charcoal, which was slowly going out under a little heap of white ashes in two small stoves. “On the right there.” “Very well; I’ll open it.” And boldly the strange man plunged into the dark room; and almost instantly the noise of breaking glass was heard. Come, ladies, come here and help the poor child, till the doctor comes.” And then, with strange self-possession, he told them what to do for the purpose of recalling her to life.

“Give her air,” he said, “plenty of air; try to get some air into her lungs. Cut open her dress; pour some vinegar on her face; rub her with some woollen stuff.” He issued his orders, and they obeyed him readily, although they had no hope of success. “Poor child!” said one of the women. The whole furniture consisted of a bed, a chest of drawers, and two chairs. Too proud to complain, and cut off from society by bashfulness, the poor girl who was lying there had evidently gone through all the stages of suffering which the shipwrecked mariner endures, who floats, resting on a stray spar in the great ocean. Papa Ravinet was thinking of all this, when a paper lying on the bureau attracted his eye.

It was the last will of the poor girl, and ran thus:-- “Let no one be accused; I die voluntarily. A sudden light seemed to brighten up the small yellowish eye of the dealer in old clothes; a wicked smile played on his lips; and he uttered a very peculiar, “Ah!” But all this passed away in a moment. No, nobody had noticed him, nobody was thinking of him; for everybody was occupied with Miss Henrietta. Thereupon he slipped the paper and the two letters into the vast pocket of his huge frock-coat with a dexterity and a rapidity which would have excited the envy of an accomplished pickpocket. It was high time; for the women who were bending over the bed of the young girl were exhibiting signs of intense excitement. One of them said she was sure the body had trembled under her hand, and the others insisted upon it that she was mistaken. After, perhaps, twenty seconds of unspeakable anguish, during which all held their breath, and solemn stillness reigned in the room, a cry of hope and joy broke forth suddenly.

One of the women, the wife of the gentleman in the first story, held the head of the girl on her arm, and the poor child looked around with that blank, unmeaning eye which we see in mad-houses. But she must be attended to, the poor child, and we cannot leave her here alone.” The bystanders knew very well what that meant; and yet hardly any one ventured timidly to assent, and say, “Oh, of course!” This reluctance did not deter the good man. “We must put her to bed,” he went on; “and, of course, she must have a mattress, bedclothes and blankets. As a proof of this, the wife of the broker put grandly a five-franc piece on the mantlepiece, and quietly slipped out. Some of the others followed her example; but they left nothing. Had the shrewd man foreseen this noble abandonment of the poor girl?

After that, we shall see what can be done.” The face of the concierge’s wife was a picture. They told stories of him that would have made Harpagon envious, and touched the heart of a constable. Nevertheless, he re-appeared soon after, almost succumbing under the weight of two excellent mattresses; and, when he came back a second time, he brought much more than he had mentioned. Life had come back before the mind had recovered; and it was evident that she was utterly unconscious of her situation, and of what was going on around her. “However, the doctor will bleed her, if there is any necessity.” And, turning to Master Chevassat, he added,-- “But we are in the way of these ladies; suppose we go down and take something? He slept where he could, or, rather, wherever an accidental sale had cleared a space for the time,--one night in a costly bed of the days of Louis XIV., and the next night on a lounge that he would have sold for a few francs. Chevassat, what a terrible thing this is!” His visitor had been well drilled by his wife, and said neither yes nor no; but the old merchant was a man of experience, and knew how to loosen his tongue. Of course I told him it was a wretched garret, unfit for people like him; but he insisted, and I took him up.” “To the room in which Miss Henrietta is now staying?” “Exactly. He looked out of the window, tried the door if it would shut, examined the partition-wall, and at last he said, ‘This suits me; I take the room.’ And thereupon he hands me a twenty-franc piece to make it a bargain. Ravinet felt any interest in the story, he took pains not to show it; for his eyes wandered to and fro as if his thoughts were elsewhere, and he was heartily tired of the tedious account.

But he recovered promptly, so promptly, that his visitor saw nothing; and then he said in a tone of indifference,-- “The young man did not give you his family name?” “No.” “But ought you not to have inquired?” “Ah, there is the trouble! It looked as if he were preparing himself for the assault, and to get ready for the police-officer. ‘Do I look,’ he said, ‘like a man who lives in a place like this?’ And when he saw I was puzzled, he went on to tell me that he took the room for a young person from the country, in whom he took an interest, and that the contract and the receipts for rent must all be made out in the name of Miss Henrietta. But he got angry, and told me that was none of my business, and that some furniture would be sent presently.” He stopped, waiting for his host to express his approbation by a word or a sign; but, as nothing came, he went on,-- “In fine, I did not dare to insist, and all was done as he wanted it done. But if that young damsel had been carried off by M. The law is pretty strict about it, in the case of a minor.” The concierge protested with a solemn air.

But Papa Ravinet did not by any means seem so sure of that. “Still, you may be sure they will ask you how it could happen that one of your tenants should fall into such a state of abject poverty without your giving notice to anybody.” “Why, in the first place, I do not wait upon my lodgers.

he knew that she was dying of hunger?” Master Chevassat became more and more troubled. I tell you I’ll send her off pretty quickly!” The old merchant shook his head, and said in his softest voice,-- “My dear sir, you won’t do that, because from today I’ll pay the rent for her room. And, more than that, if you wish to oblige me, you will be very kind to the poor girl, you hear, and even respectful, if you please.” There was no misunderstanding the meaning of the word “oblige,” from the manner in which he pronounced it; and yet he was about to enforce the recommendation, when a fretting voice exclaimed on the stairs,-- “Chevassat! And, delighted to get away, he said to Papa Ravinet-- “I understand; she shall be treated as politely as if she were the daughter of the owner of the house. Maxime de Brevan over the steam of the boiling water. In a moment the mucilage of the envelope was dissolved, and the letter could easily be opened without showing in any way that it had ever been broken open.

“You may raise your head again; you are relieved of all fears.

I shall carry the secret of your infamy and your cowardice into the grave with me. “The honor of Maxime de Brevan!” he growled with a voice of intense hatred,--“the honor of Maxime de Brevan!” But his terrible excitement did not keep him from manipulating the other letter, addressed to Count Ville-Handry, in the same manner. “I must appear very guilty in your eyes, father, that you should abandon me thus to the hatred of Sarah Brandon and her people.

I have struggled hard before I could make up my mind to leave your house,--the house where my mother had died, where I had been so happy, and so tenderly beloved as a child by both of you. “And yet it was so little I asked of you!--barely enough to bury my undeserved disgrace in a convent. “Yes, undeserved, father; for I tell you at this hour, when no one utters a falsehood, if my reputation was lost, my honor was not lost.” Big tears rolled down the cheeks of the old man; and he said in a half-stifled voice,-- “Poor, poor child!

And to think that for a whole year I have lived under the same roof with her, without knowing it. Oh, what a friend chance can be when it chooses!” Most assuredly not one of the inmates of the house would have recognized Papa Ravinet at this moment; he was literally transfigured. He was no longer the cunning dealer in second-hand articles, the old scamp with the sharp, vulgar face, so well known at all public sales, where he sat in the front rank, watching for good bargains, and keeping cool when all around him were in a state of fervent excitement. He was suffering intensely; and his pain, his wrath, and his hope of vengeance long delayed, gave to his features a strange expression of energy and nobility.

With his elbows on the table, holding his head in his hands, and looking apparently into the far past, he seemed to call up the miseries of the past, and to trace out in the future the vague outlines of some great scheme.

And that Daniel, who intrusted her to the care of Maxime de Brevan--who is he? I must go up stairs, and hear the child’s confession.” Instantly, and with amazing dexterity, he replaced the letters in their envelopes, dried them, pasted them up again, and smoothed them down, till every trace of the steam had entirely disappeared. Then looking at his work with an air of satisfaction, he said,-- “That was not so badly done.

An expert in the post-office would not suspect it. It is none of my business, only”-- She stopped, smiling wickedly, and then added,-- “Only she is a prodigiously pretty girl; and I was just saying to myself, ‘Upon my word, M. Ravinet’s taste is not bad.’” The merchant was on the point of giving her a pretty sharp, indignant reply; but he controlled himself, because he knew how important it was to mislead the woman; and, forcing himself to smile, he said,-- “You know I count upon your being discreet.” When he got up, he found that he ought, at least, to give credit to Mamma Chevassat and the two ladies from the first floor, for having employed their time well, and for having skilfully made use of the articles he had contributed. The room, a short time ago cold and bare, had an air of comfort about it now, which was delightful. In fact, there was no trace left of the sufferings and the terrible danger from which the patient had so marvellously escaped, except the deep pallor of her face.

Stretched out at full-length on her comfortable bed with its thick mattresses and snow-white sheets, her head propped up high on a couple of pillows, she was breathing freely, as was easily seen by the steady, regular rising and falling of her bosom under the cover. But life and consciousness had also brought back to her a sense of the horror of her position, and of her capacity for suffering. Her brow resting on her arm, which was almost concealed by masses of golden hair, immovable, and her eyes fixed steadily upon infinite space, as if trying to pierce the darkness of the future, she would have looked like a statue of sorrow rather than of resignation, but for the big tears which were slowly dropping down her cheeks. Her exquisite beauty looked almost ethereal under the circumstances; and Papa Ravinet, when he saw her, remained fixed by admiration, standing upon the threshold of the open door. You have saved my life.” Then, shaking her head, she added,-- “You have rendered me a sad service, sir.” She uttered these words so simply, but in a tone of such harrowing grief, that Papa Ravinet was overcome. “Unhappy child!” he exclaimed, “you do not think of trying it over again?” She made no answer. She dared not repeat what the wife of the concierge had said. But she added in a voice trembling with womanly shame and deep indignation,-- “Ah, that woman is a wicked creature!” The old merchant was probably fully aware of the character of Mrs. He guessed only too readily what kind of advice she had given this poor girl of twenty, who had turned to her for help in her great suffering.

Come, smile again, and think of the good times a-coming.” But she did not smile; she looked frightened, almost stupefied.

But I cannot understand why you should offer me your kind protection.” Papa Ravinet affected a greater surprise than he really felt, and said, raising his hands to heaven,-- “Great God! I’ll crush her one of these days! She told you Papa Ravinet was a dangerous, ill-reputed man, who carried on in the dark all kind of suspicious trades. She told you the old scamp was a usurer, who knew no law, and kept no promise; whose only principle was profit; who dealt in every thing with everybody, selling to-day old iron in junk-shops, and to-morrow cashmere shawls to fashionable ladies; and who lent money on imaginary securities--the talent of men and the beauty of women. In fine, she told you that it was a piece of good-fortune for a woman to be under my protection, and you knew it was a disgrace.” He stopped, as if to give the poor girl time to form her judgment, and then went on more calmly,-- “Let us suppose there is such a Papa Ravinet as she has described. But there is another one, whom but few people know, who has been sorely tried by misfortune; and he is the one who now offers his aid to you.” There is no surer way to make people believe in any virtue we have, or wish to appear to have, than to accuse ourselves of bad qualities, or even vices, which we do not have. “In fact, you reject my offers, because I do not explain them to you by any of the usual motives. Suppose I should say to you that I have a daughter who has secretly left me, so that I do not know what has become of her, and that her memory makes me anxious to serve you.

A moment before he had despaired of ever gaining her confidence; now he felt almost sure of success. If it had been otherwise, do you think I should have asked you these questions, instead of finding out every thing by simply tearing a piece of paper?” The poor girl could not retain a cry of terror. That is why the ladies who nursed me looked for them everywhere in vain.” Instead of any other answer, he drew them from his pocket, and laid them on the bed with an air of injured innocence. Henrietta glanced at them, and then, holding out her hand to the old man, she said,-- “I thank you, sir!” He did not stir; but he felt that this false evidence of honesty had helped him more than all his eloquence. No doubt he is the young man who called to see you so often. If you but knew how a little experience of the world often helps us to overcome the greatest difficulties!” He was evidently deeply moved. In that way I may”-- “Well, I’ll wait, why, as long as you want me to wait,--two days, ten days.” “Very well.” “Only, I pray you, promise me solemnly that you will give up all idea of suicide.” “I promise you solemnly I will.” Papa Ravinet’s eyes shone with delight; and he exclaimed joyously,-- “Done! In spite of the wretched weather, he left the house; and, as soon as he was in the street, he hid himself in a dark corner, from which he could watch the front-door of the house.

to see if the charcoal had done its work.” But the same moment the young man came out again, and jumped into the carriage, which quickly drove off. I hold you fast; and, instead of one bill to pay, there will be two now.” II.

In the first place, she asked herself who this odd man could be, who had spoken of himself as a dangerous and suspicious person. At the same time his language, usually careless and incorrect, and full of slang terms belonging to his trade, became pure and almost elegant. Is not Paris the haven in which all shipwrecked sailors of society seek a refuge? Does not Paris alone offer to all wretched and guilty people a hiding-place, where they can begin a new life, lost and unknown in the vast multitude? How many persons, once brilliant lights in the great world, and then, of a sudden, sought for in vain by friend and foe, might be found there again, disguised in strange costumes, and earning a livelihood in most curious ways! Why should not the old merchant be one of this class? But, even if this were so, it would not have satisfactorily explained to Henrietta the eagerness of Papa Ravinet to serve her, nor his perseverance in offering her his advice. Christian charity is not often so pressing.

Had he at any period of her life come in contact with her? “Would it not be the height of imprudence to put myself in the power of this man?” thought the poor girl. If, on the other hand, she rejected his offers, she fell back into that state of forlorn wretchedness, from which she had only been able to save herself by suicide. It seemed as if the contact with death had wiped out at once all the memory of the past, and all the threats of the future. my only friend upon earth, what would you suffer if you knew that you lost me forever by the very means you chose to secure my safety!” To refuse the assistance offered her by Papa Ravinet would have required an amount of energy which she did not possess. The voice of reflection continually said to her,-- “The old man is your only hope.” It never occurred to her to conceal the truth from Papa Ravinet, or to deceive him by a fictitious story. Unfortunately, she was the victim of one of those intrigues which are formed and carried out within the narrow circle of a family,--intrigues of the most abominable character, which people suspect, and often even know perfectly well, and which yet remain unpunished, because they cannot be reached by the law.

Henrietta’s father, Count Ville-Handry, was in 1845 one of the wealthiest land-owners of the province of Anjou. The good people near Rosiers and Saint Mathurin were fond of pointing out to strangers the massive towers of Ville-Handry, a magnificent castle half hid among noble old woods on the beautiful slopes of the bluffs which line the Loire.

“There,” they said, “lives a true gentleman, a little too proud, perhaps, but, nevertheless, a true gentleman.” For contrary to the usual state of things in the country, where envy is apt to engender hatred, the count was quite popular, in spite of his title and his large fortune. He was at that time about forty years old, quite tall and good-looking, solemn and courteous, obliging, although reserved, and very good-natured as long as no one spoke in his presence of the church or the reigning family, the nobility or the clergy, of his hounds or the wines of his vineyards, or of various other subjects on which he had what he chose to consider his “own opinions.” As he spoke but rarely, and said little at the time, he said fewer foolish things than most people, and thus obtained the reputation of being clever and well-informed, of which he was very proud and very careful. He lived freely, almost profusely, and thus put aside every year but little more than about half his income. He had all his clothes made in Paris, was proud of his foot, and always wore gloves. His house was kept handsomely; and his gardens cost him a good deal of money. He kept a pack of hounds, and six hunters. Finally, he kept half a dozen lazy servants in the house, whose gorgeous liveries, with the family coat-of-arms, were a source of perpetual wonder at Saint Mathurin. This he carried so far, that the ladies of the neighborhood, who had daughters, blamed him to his face for his imprudence, and scolded him for risking his precious health so recklessly. Mothers and daughters kept their sweetest smiles for him; and kind welcomes were offered on all sides.

One fine morning in the month of July, 1847, the lady died suddenly of apoplexy. The fact could not be doubted any longer, when the banns were read, and the announcement appeared in the official journal. The daughter of a poor widow, the Baroness Rupert, who lived in great poverty at a place called Rosiers, having nothing but a small pension derived from her husband, who had been a colonel of artillery. If she had, at least, been of good and ancient family; if she had been, at least, a native of the province! Her husband, they added, had been made a baron after the fashion of others, who dubbed themselves such during the first empire, and had no right to call himself noble. On the other hand, Pauline de Rupert, then twenty-three years old, was in the full bloom of youth, and marvellously beautiful. Moreover, she had, up to this time, been looked upon as a sensible, modest girl, very bright and very sweet withal; in fact, possessed of every quality and virtue that can make life happy, and add to the fame of a great house. Everybody was amazed; and a perfect storm of indignation arose in the neighborhood.

that he should marry a penniless girl, an adventuress,--he who had had the pick and choice of the richest and greatest ladies of the land? Was she not perhaps, after all, a designing hypocrite, who had very quietly, in her retired home, woven the net in which the lion of Anjou was now held captive? People would have been less astonished, if they had known, that, for years, a great intimacy had existed between the mother of the bride and the housekeeper at the castle. However that might be, the count was not suffered long to remain in doubt as to the entire change of opinion in the neighborhood. He saw it as soon as he paid the usual visits in the town of Angers, and at the houses of the nobility near him. Pauline, in order to provide her mother with some of the comforts which are almost indispensable to old people, had given lessons on the piano in the neighborhood. They would have blamed her for the noblest of virtues; for all the blame was laid upon her. This impertinence went so far, that at last Count Ville-Handry, one day, almost beside himself with anger, seized one of his neighbors by the collar of his coat, shook him violently, and shouted out to him,-- “Do you see the countess, my wife, sir? How shall I chastise you to cure you of your near-sightedness?” Foreseeing a duel, the impertinent man made his excuses; and his experience put the rest of them on their guard. An uncle of his wife’s, a banker at Dresden, died, and left his “beloved niece Pauline” half a million dollars.

This immensely wealthy man, who had never assisted his sister in her troubles, and who would have disinherited the daughter of a soldier of fortune, had been flattered by the idea of writing in his last will the name of his niece, the “high and mighty Countess Ville-Handry.” This unexpected piece of good-fortune ought to have delighted the young wife. A voice within her warned her that she ought never to have yielded to the entreaties and the orders of her mother. An excellent daughter, as she was to become the best of mothers, and the most faithful of wives, she had sacrificed herself. Ah, why had she not resisted, at least for the purpose of gaining time? For when she was a girl she had dreamed of a very different future.

Long before giving herself to the count, she had, of her own free will, given her heart to another. She had bestowed her first and warmest affections upon a young man who was only two or three years older than she,--Peter Champcey, the son of one of those marvellously rich farmers who live in the valley of the Loire. It could not be expected that those keen, thrifty peasants, Champcey’s father and mother, would ever permit one of their sons--they had two--to commit the folly of making a love-match. And the old couple were not a little proud of these “gentlemen,” their sons. “When I am of age,” he said to himself, “it will be a different matter.” Alas! On the day on which she entered the castle of Ville- Handry, she had sworn she would bury this love of hers so deep in the innermost recesses of her heart, that it should never come up and trouble her thoughts.

But now it suddenly broke forth, more ardent, more powerful, than ever, till it well-nigh overcame her, and crushed her--sweetly and sadly, like the memory of lost days, and at the same time cruel and heart-rending, like bitter remorse. What had become of him? When he had heard that she was going to marry the count, he had written to her a letter full of despair, in which he overwhelmed her with irony and contempt. For long hours the poor young wife struggled in the solitude of her chamber against these ghosts of the past which crowded around her. She needed all her courage, all her energy, to fulfil her vows; for the count’s character lay fully open before her now, after two years of married life. She had long since found out that the brilliant man of the world, whom everybody considered so clever, was in reality an absolute nullity, incapable of any thought that was not suggested to him by others, and at the same time full of overweening self-esteem, and absurdly obstinate.

An ordinary woman would have shrunk from the difficult task which Pauline had assumed, and would have thought that nothing more could be expected of her than to keep sacred her marriage-vows. Full of resignation, she meant to do more than her duty. Nancy was very fond of you. She understood how, modestly keeping in the background, and sheltering herself under the very humility of her position, she had been in truth the intellect, the energy, and the strong will, of her master. Although cruelly humiliated by this confession of her husband’s, the countess had sufficient self-control not to blame him for his weakness. He was so sensitive on this point, that his wife had only to show the shadow of a purpose of her own, and he went instantly to work to oppose and prohibit it. “I am not a weather-cock!” was one of his favorite sayings.

He did not know that those who turn to the opposite side of the wind, nevertheless turn, as well as those who go with the wind. After working for many months patiently and cautiously, she thought she had learnt the secret of managing him, and that henceforth she would be able to control his will whenever she was in earnest.

Although the great people of the neighborhood had generally come round and treated her quite fairly now, especially since she had become an heiress, the countess found her position unpleasant, and was anxious to leave the country. He hated large cities; and the mere idea of leaving his castle, where every thing was arranged to suit his habits, made him seriously angry. “It was much against the will of the countess,” he said, full of delight at her disappointment. I insisted on having my way, and she yielded at last.” So that in the latter part of October, in 1851, the Count and the Countess Ville-Handry moved into the magnificent house in Varennes Street, a princely mansion, which, however, did not cost them more than a third of its actual value, as they happened to buy at a time when real estate was very low. Nothing was more likely than that, deprived of the active exercise and the fresh air he enjoyed in the country, he should miss his many occupations and duties, and either succumb to weariness, or seek refuge in dissipation. Already before leaving home she had dropped in his mind the seed of that passion, which, in a man of fifty, can take the place of all others,--ambition. Thus he came to Paris with the secret desire and the hope of becoming a leader in politics, and making his mark in some great affair of state. The countess however, aware of the dangers which beset a man who ventures upon such slippery ground, determined first to examine the condition of things so as to be able to warn him in time. Fortunately her fortune and her name were of great service to her in this enterprise.

She managed to assemble at her house all the celebrities of the day. But she was all the time listening, and trying, with all her mental powers, to understand the great questions of the day. She studied characters; watched the passions of some, and discovered the cunning tricks of others, ever anxious to find out what enemies she would have to fear, and what allies to conciliate.

Like one of those ill-taught professors who study in the morning what they mean to teach in the afternoon, she prepared herself for the lessons which she soon meant to give. She soon reaped the fruit of her labors. The next winter the count, who had so far kept aloof from politics, came out with his opinions. He had soon enthusiastic partisans, and, of course, as violent adversaries. His friends encouraged him to become the leader of his party; and he worked day and night to achieve that end. “Unfortunately I have to pay for it at home,” he said to his intimate friends; “for my wife is one of those timid women who cannot understand that men are made for the excitement of public life. The greater the success of her husband in the world, the prouder she became of her own usefulness to him. Her feelings were very much those of a dramatic poet who hears the applause given to the characters which he has created. She wanted Henrietta, as little as the world, to know what she was to her husband; and she taught her not only to love him as her father, but to respect and admire him as a man of eminence.

Of course, the count was the very last man to suspect any thing. He fancied he had discovered himself the whole line of proceeding which his wife had so carefully traced out for him. In the full sincerity of his heart, he believed he had composed and written out the speeches which she drew up for him; and the articles for the newspapers, and the letters, which she dictated, appeared to him all to have sprung from his own fertile brains. He was even sometimes surprised at the want of good sense in his wife, and pointed out to her, quite ironically, that the steps from which she tried hardest to dissuade him were the most successful he took. But, the more he gloried in his utter nullity, the more she delighted in her work, and found ample compensation in the approval of her own conscience.

The count had been so exceedingly good as to take her when she was penniless; she owed him the historic name she bore and a large fortune; but, in return, she had given him, and without his being aware of it, a position of some eminence. “Yes,” she said to herself, “we are quits, fairly quits!” Now also, she reproached herself no longer for the long hours during which her thoughts, escaping from the control of her will, had turned to the man of her early choice.

The bride, chosen among a thousand, had brought their son a fortune of a hundred thousand dollars; but she was a bad woman. And after eight years of wretched, intolerable married life, Peter Champcey had shot himself, unable to bear any longer his domestic misfortunes, and the infidelity of his wife. He had, however, avoided committing this crime at Angers, where he held a high official position. The countess heard of it first through her husband. Her selfishness was so intense, that she never became aware of the cruelty with which she had sacrificed her daughter.

What would have become of her, if her child had not bound her to life! Thus she struggled on quite alone, for she had not a soul in whom she could confide, when one afternoon, as she was going down stairs, a servant came to tell her that there was a young man in naval uniform below, who desired to have the honor of waiting upon her. A younger man had recently been wrongly promoted over him; and he had asked for leave of absence to appeal to the secretary of the navy. He felt quite sure of the justice of his claims; but he also knew that strong recommendations never spoil a good cause. In fact, he hoped that Count Ville-Handry, of whose kindness and great influence he had heard much, would consent to indorse his claims. “My husband will be happy to serve a countryman of his,” she replied; “and he will tell you so himself, if you will be kind enough to wait for him, and stay to dinner.” Daniel did stay.

At table he was placed by the side of Henrietta, who was then fifteen years old; and the countess, seeing these two young and handsome people side by side, was suddenly struck with an idea which seemed to her nothing less than inspiration from on high. Why might she not intrust the future happiness of her daughter to the brother of the poor man who had loved her so dearly? Daniel shall be Henrietta’s husband.” Thus it came about, that, only a fortnight later, Count Ville-Handry said to one of his intimate friends, pointing out Daniel,-- “That young Champcey is a very remarkable young man; he has a great future before him. And one of these days, when he is a lieutenant, and a few years older, if it should so happen that he liked Henrietta, and asked me for my consent, I should not say no. The countess might think and say of it what she chooses, I am master.” After that time Daniel became, unfortunately, a constant visitor at the house in Varennes Street. He had not only obtained ample satisfaction at headquarters, but, by the powerful influence of certain high personages, he had been temporarily assigned to duty in the bureau of the navy department, with the promise of a better position in active service hereafter. Thus Daniel and Henrietta saw a great deal of each other, and, to all appearances, began to love each other. She felt as if she would not live long; and she trembled at the idea of leaving her child without any other protector but the count.

If Henrietta had at least known the truth, and, instead of admiring her father as a man of superior ability, learned to mistrust his judgment! A hundred times the countess was on the point of revealing her secret. She did not think much of it, but sent for a cup of tea. When it came, she was standing before the fireplace, undoing her hair; but, instead of taking it, she suddenly raised her hand to her throat, uttered a hoarse sound, and fell back. The Countess Ville-Handry had died from disease of the heart.

There she had heard the doctors utter the fatal words,-- “All is over!” There were five or six of them in the room; and one of them, his eyes swollen from sleeplessness, and overcome with fatigue, had drawn the count into a corner, and, pressing his hands, repeated over and over again,-- “Courage, my dear sir, courage!” He, overcome, with downcast eye, and cold perspiration on his pallid brow, did not understand him; for he continued to stammer incessantly,-- “It is nothing, I hope. Did you not say it was nothing?” There are misfortunes so terrible, so overwhelming in their suddenness, that the stunned mind refuses to believe them, and denies their genuineness in spite of their actual presence. How could any one imagine or comprehend that the countess, who but a moment ago was standing there full of life, in perfect health, and the whole vigor of her years, apparently perfectly happy, smiling, and beloved by all,--how could one conceive that she had all at once ceased to exist? The flowers were still in her hair; and the blow had come with such suddenness, that, even in death, she retained the appearance of life; she was still warm, her skin transparent, and her limbs supple. It looked as if she had had at that last moment a revelation of the future which her too great cautiousness had prepared for her daughter. And she went from one doctor to the other, urging them, beseeching them, to find some means-- What were they doing there, looking so blank, instead of acting? Were they not going to restore her,--they whose business it was to cure people, and who surely had saved a number of people? She sank down upon her knees by the side of the bed, hiding her face in the drapery, and repeating with fierce sobs,-- “My mother, my darling mother!” It was nearly morning, and the pale dawn was stealing into the room, when at last some sisters of charity came, who had been sent for; and then a couple of priests; a little later (it was towards the end of January) one of the count’s friends appeared, who undertook all those sickening preparations which our civilization demands in such cases. How could they do it, seeing before them the empty seat, once occupied by her who was the life of the whole house, and now never to be filled again?

And thus, for a long time, their meals were a steady reminder of their loss. But there was another true and warm heart, far from that house, which had been sorely wounded by the death of the countess. He had called several times at the house of mourning; but it was only a fortnight later that he was admitted. There was a strange want of steadiness in his movements; he looked almost like a paralytic, whose crutches had suddenly broken down. Was he conscious of the immense loss which he had suffered? He ought not to have done it; but he resumed his duties as a politician at a time when they had become unusually difficult, and when great things were expected of him. They attributed the sudden failure of his faculties to the great sorrow that had befallen him in the death of his wife. She loved him all the more dearly as she watched the apparent effect of his incurable grief. He tortured his mind in vain; he could not find a plausible explanation, and said over and over again,-- “It is perfectly inexplicable.” He talked of regular plots, of a coalition of his enemies, of the black ingratitude of men, and their fickleness. At first he had thought of going back to the country.

But gradually, as day followed day, and weeks grew into months, his wounded vanity began to heal; he forgot his misfortunes, and adopted new habits of life. But she was not a little amazed when she saw him lay aside his mourning, and exchange his simple costumes, suitable to his age, for the eccentric fashions of the day, wearing brilliant waistcoats and fancy-colored trousers. Henrietta could not restrain an expression of amazement. Henrietta, although ignorant of the world, and at that time innocence personified, was, nevertheless, a woman, and hence had the keen instinct of her sex, which is better than all experience. He had gradually drifted away from his old friends and his wife’s friends, and seemed to prefer to their high-bred society the company of very curious people of all kinds. A number of young men came in the forenoon on horseback, and in the most unceremonious costumes. In the afternoon, another set of men made their appearance,--vulgar and arrogant people, with huge whiskers and enormous watch-chains, who gesticulated vehemently, and were on most excellent terms with the servants. He told her, that, having been ill-treated in politics, he intended to devote himself henceforth to grand enterprises, and hoped confidently to realize an enormous fortune, while, at the same time, rendering great service to certain branches of industry. What with his own estate, and what with his wife’s fortune, he had already an income of a hundred thousand dollars.

Was that not quite enough for a man of sixty-five and for a young girl who did not spend a thousand a year on her toilet? Henrietta asked him timidly, for she was afraid of hurting her father’s feelings, why he wanted more money. Both had been taught by the countess to look upon her husband as a man of genius; hence they felt sure that he had only to undertake a thing, and he was sure to succeed. Besides, Daniel hoped that such grave matters of business would keep the count from playing the fashionable young man. On the other hand, he was forever complaining of oppression in the chest, and of palpitation of the heart. His daughter repeatedly found him with tears in his eyes,--big tears, which passed through his dyed beard, and fell like drops of ink on his white shirt-front. Then, again, these attacks of melancholy would be followed by sudden outbursts of joy. “There are moments when I tremble for his mind.” At last, one evening after dinner, when he had drunk more than usually, perhaps in order to gain courage, he drew his daughter on his knee, and said in his softest voice,-- “Confess, my dear child, that in your innermost heart you have more than once called me a very bad father. Henrietta was left more completely to herself than the daughter of a workman, whose business keeps him from home all day long.

A girl of your age stands in need of some one to advise her, to pet her,--an affectionate and devoted friend. That is why I have been thinking of giving you another mother.” Henrietta drew back her arm, which she had wound round her father’s neck; and, rising suddenly, she said,-- “You think of marrying again?” He turned his head aside, hesitated moment, and then replied,-- “Yes.” At first the poor girl could not utter a word, so great were her stupor, her indignation, her bitter grief; then she made an effort, and said in a pained voice,-- “Do you really tell me so, papa?

you would bring another wife to this house, which is still alive with the voice of her whom we have lost? surely you do not think of such profanation!” The count’s trouble was pitiful to behold. “I am old; I may die; we have no near relations; what would become of you without a friend?” She blushed crimson; but she said timidly,-- “But, papa, there is M. She had certainly very odd notions, against which I had to use the whole strength of my firm will.

A sailor is a sorry kind of husband, my dear child; a word from his minister may part him for years from his wife.” Henrietta remained silent. She began to understand the nature of the bargain which her father proposed to her, and it made her indignant. He thought he had said enough for this time, and left her with these words,-- “Consider, my child; for my part, I will also think of it.” What should she do? “Henrietta.” She gave the letter to a servant, ordering him to carry it at once to its address; and then she waited in a state of feverish anxiety, counting the minutes. Daniel Champcey had, in a house not far from the university, three rooms, the windows of which looked out upon the gardens of an adjoining mansion, where the flowers bloomed brilliantly, and the birds sang joyously. There he spent almost all the time which was not required by his official duties. “A genuine old maid, that sailor is,” said the concierge of the house.

A pure, noble love, such as his, based upon perfect confidence in her to whom it is given, is quite sufficient to fill up a life; for it makes the present delightful, and paints the distant horizon of the future in all the bright colors of the rainbow. But, the more he loved Henrietta, the more he felt bound to be worthy of her, and to deserve her affections. He had chosen a profession which he loved.

He had a considerable fortune of his own, and was thus, by his private income and his pay as an officer, secured against want.

But Henrietta belonged to a great house; she was the daughter of a man who had filled a high position; she was immensely rich; and, even if he had married her only with her own fortune, she would have brought him ten times as much as he had. Hence he worked incessantly, indefatigably, waking up every morning anew with the determination to make himself one of those names which weigh more than the oldest parchments, and to win one of those positions which make a wife as proud as she is fond of her husband. The French navy was in a state of transformation; but the marine was as yet unreformed, waiting, apparently, for the hand of a man of genius. “Do you see that d---- little fellow, there, with his quiet ways?” said Admiral Penhoel to his young officers. “Tell Miss Henrietta I am coming at once; and make haste, or I shall be there before you.” As soon as the servant had left, Daniel dressed, and a moment later he was out of the house.

Then, recalling at once the gradual transformation of the count, he said,-- “Oh, oh, oh! But the very imminence of the danger restored to him his energy. There is no law which authorizes children to oppose the follies of their parents. If you refuse, he will go on, nevertheless, and not mind your objections.” “Oh!” “I am, unfortunately, but too sure of that. If he spoke to you of his plans, you may be sure he had made up his mind.

He might possibly forgive you; but she--Don’t you think she should avail herself to the utmost of her influence over him? And she must be a dangerous woman, Henrietta, a woman who is capable of any thing.” “Why?” He hesitated for a moment, not daring to speak out fully what he thought; and at last he said slowly, as if weighing his words,-- “Because, because this marriage cannot be any thing else but a barefaced speculation. “I beseech you to do it.” She shook her head sadly, and said in a tone of utter dejection,-- “Very well. I shall not object to this profanation. She rose, offered her hand to Daniel, and said,-- “I will see you to-morrow evening. By that time I shall know, and I will tell you, the name of the woman whom father is going to marry; for I shall ask him who she is.” She was spared that trouble. Next morning, the first words of the count were,-- “Well, have you thought it over?” She looked at him till he felt compelled to turn his head away; and then she replied in a tone of resignation,-- “Father, you are master here. I should not tell you the truth, if I said I was not going to suffer cruelly at the idea of a stranger coming here to--But I shall receive her with all due respect.” Ah! “Do not speak of respect,” he said.

She is a foreigner, of excellent family, very rich, marvellously clever and beautiful; and her name is Sarah Brandon.” That evening, when Henrietta told Daniel the name of her future mother-in-law, he started with an air of utter despair, and said,-- “Great God!

When Henrietta saw how the young officer was overcome by the mere mention of that name, Sarah Brandon, she felt the blood turn to ice in her veins. She knew perfectly well that a man like Daniel was not likely to be so utterly overwhelmed unless there was something fearful, unheard of, in the matter. “Do you know the woman, Daniel?” But he, regretting his want of self-possession, was already thinking how he could make amends for his imprudence. I see you know who she is.” “I know nothing about her.” “But”-- “It is true I have heard people talk of her once, a long time ago.” “Whom?” “One of my friends, Maxime de Brevan, a fine, noble fellow.” “What sort of a woman is she?” “Ah, me! Maxime happened to mention her just in passing; and I never thought that one of these days I should--If I seemed to be so very much surprised just now, it was because I remembered, all of a sudden, a very ugly story in which Maxime said she had been involved, and then”-- He was ridiculous in his inability to tell a fib; so, when he found that he was talking nonsense, he turned his head away to avoid Henrietta’s eyes. But, in spite of all that, if my fears should be well founded, as I apprehend they are, I should not hesitate to say to you, whatever might be the consequences, Henrietta, and even if we should have to part forever, we must try our utmost, we must employ all possible means in our power, to prevent a marriage between Count Ville-Handry and Sarah Brandon.” In spite of all her sufferings, Henrietta felt her heart bounding with unspeakable happiness and joy. he deserved to be loved,--this man whom her heart had freely chosen among them all,--this man who gave her such an overwhelming proof of his love.

She offered him her hand; and, with her eyes beaming with enthusiasm and tenderness, she said,-- “And I, I swear by the sacred memory of my mother, that whatever may happen, and whatever force they may choose to employ, I shall never belong to any one but to you.” Daniel had seized her hand, and held it for some time pressed to his lips. His life and his happiness were at stake; and a single word would decide his fate in spite of all he could do. He was a man of thirty or thirty-five years, remarkably well made, light-haired, wearing a full beard, with a bright eye, and pleasing face. And yet, far from following the advice of the philosopher, who tells us to keep our life from the eye of the public, Maxime de Brevan seemed to take pains to let everybody into his secrets. Thus he told the whole world that the Brevans came originally from the province of Maine, and that he was the last, the sole representative, of that old family. Not that he prided himself particularly on his ancestors; he acknowledged frankly that there was very little left of their ancient splendor; in fact, nothing but a bare support. So much only was certain, that, to his great honor and glory, he had solved the great problem of preserving his independence and his dignity while associating, a comparatively poor man, with the richest young men of Paris.

They had been introduced to each other at a great ball by a common friend of theirs, a lieutenant in the navy. At all events, Daniel had been irresistibly attracted by the peculiar ways of Maxime, and especially by the cool stoicism with which he spoke of his genteel poverty. He uttered a cry of delight when he saw him, as he always did. “What!” he said, “the hermit student from the other side of the river in this worldly region, and at this hour? You look frightened out of your wits. I have a long story to tell you, and you are just going out”-- But Brevan interrupted him, shaking his head kindly, and saying,-- “I was only going out for want of something better to do, upon my word! This continued so long, that Maxime, who had of late heard much of diseases of the brain, asked himself if Daniel could possibly have lost his mind. No; for suddenly his friend stopped before him, and said in a short, sharp tone,-- “First of all, Maxime, swear that you will never, under any circumstances, say to any human being a word of what I am going to tell you.” Thoroughly mystified, Brevan raised his hand, and said,-- “I pledge my word of honor!” This promise seemed to re-assure Daniel; and, when he thought he had recovered sufficient control over himself, he said,-- “Some months ago, my dear friend, I heard you telling somebody a horrible story concerning a certain Mrs. Now, Maxime, I conjure you, by our friendship, tell me frankly what you think of her.

What kind of a woman is this Miss Brandon?” His features, as well as his voice, betrayed such extreme excitement, that Brevan was almost stunned. It is of the utmost importance to me.” Brevan, struck by a sudden thought, touched his forehead, and exclaimed,-- “Oh, I see! You are in love with Sarah!” Daniel would never have thought of such a subterfuge in order to avoid mentioning the name of Count Ville-Handry; but, seeing it thus offered to him, he determined to profit by the opportunity. Maxime raised his hands to heaven, and said in a tone of painful conviction,-- “In that case you are right. Suppose I were to tell you that this Sarah is a wretched creature, an infamous forger, who has already the death of three poor devils on her conscience, who loved her as you do? You would vow, in the candor of your heart, that you are forever cured, and, when you leave me”-- “Well?” “You would rush to your beloved, tell her all I said, and beseech her to clear herself of all these charges.” “I beg your pardon; I am not one of those men who”-- But Brevan was getting more and more excited.

Passion does not reason, does not calculate; and that is the secret of its strength. As long as we have a spark of commonsense left, we are not really in love.

That is so, I tell you; and no will, no amount of energy, can do any thing with it. Those people remind me of still champagne blaming sparkling champagne for popping off the cork. Was it true that real love destroys in us the faculty of reasoning, and of distinguishing truth from falsehood? Did he really not love Henrietta truly, because he was on the point of giving her up for the sake of doing his duty?

Brevan had been speaking of another kind of love,--a love neither pure nor chaste.

He spoke of those passions which suddenly strike us down like lightning; which confound our senses, and mislead our judgment; which destroy every thing, as fire does, and leave nothing behind but disaster and disgrace and remorse. But all the more painful became Daniel’s thoughts as he remembered that Count Ville-Handry was overcome by one of these terrible passions for a worthless creature. He could not accept Maxime’s offer. “Suppose I lose my free will, and surrender absolutely; what will become of me?” Brevan looked at him with an air of pity, and said,-- “Not much will happen to you; only”-- And then he added with almost sternness, mixed with bitter sarcasm,-- “You ask me for your horoscope? You will be an admiral one of these days. “One of my friends.” “What name?” “I wish you would render the service I ask of you doubly valuable by not asking me that question,--at least, not to-day.” Daniel spoke with such an accent of truth, that not a shadow of doubt remained on Maxime’s mind. After a moment’s silence, he began again,-- “Let us assume, then, that it is one of your friends who is bewitched?” “Yes.” “And the matter is--serious?” “Alas! He talks of marrying that woman.” Maxime shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and said,-- “As to that, console yourself.

“Then your friend must be very rich.” “He is immensely rich.” “He bears a great name, and holds a high position?” “His name is one of the oldest and noblest in the province of Anjou.” “And he is a very old man?” “He is sixty-five.” Brevan struck the marble slab of the mantlepiece with his fist so that it shook, and exclaimed,-- “Ah, she told me she would succeed!” And then he added in a very low tone of voice, as if speaking to himself with an indescribable accent of mingled admiration and hatred,-- “What a woman! Oh, what a woman!” Daniel, who was himself greatly excited, and far too busy with his own thoughts to observe what was going on, did not notice the excitement of his friend; he continued quietly,-- “Now you will understand my great curiosity. In order to prevent the scandal of such a marriage, my friend’s family would do every thing in the world. But how can you attack a woman of whose antecedents and mode of life nothing is known?” “Yes, I understand,” said Brevan,--“I understand.” His features betrayed that he was making a great mental effort. He remained for some time absorbed in his thoughts; and at last he said, as if coming to a decision,-- “No, I do not see any way to prevent this marriage; none at all.” “Still, from what you told me”-- “What!” “About the cupidity of this woman.” “Well?” “If she were offered a large sum, some eighty or a hundred thousand dollars?” Maxime laughed out loud; but there was not the true ring in his laughter. “You might offer her two hundred thousand, and she would laugh at you.

Do you think she would be fool enough to content herself with a fraction of a fortune, if she can have the whole, with a great name and a high position into the bargain?” Daniel opened his lips to present another suggestion; but Maxime, laying aside his usual half-dreamy, mocking manner, said, as if roused by a matter of great personal interest,-- “You do not understand me, my dear friend. Miss Brandon is not one of those vulgar hawks, who, in broad daylight, seize upon a poor pigeon, pluck it alive, and cast it aside, still living, and bleeding all over.” “Then, Maxime, she must be”-- “Well, I tell you you misapprehend her. Miss Brandon”-- He stopped suddenly, and looking at Daniel with a glance with which a judge examines the features of a criminal, he added in an almost threatening voice,-- “By telling you what little I know about her, Daniel, I give you the highest proof of confidence which one man can give to another. If you ever mention my name in connection with this affair, if you ever let any one suspect that you learned what I am going to tell you from me, you will dishonor yourself.” Daniel, deeply moved, seized his friend’s hand, and, pressing it most affectionately, said,-- “Ah, you know Daniel Champcey is to be relied upon.” Maxime knew it; for he continued,-- “Miss Sarah Brandon is one of those female cosmopolitan adventurers, whom steam brings nowadays to us from all the four quarters of the world. Like so many others, she, also, has come to Paris to spread her net, and catch her birds, But she is made of finer stuff than most of them, and more clever. “I should not be surprised if anybody told me Miss Sarah was born within ten miles of Paris; but she calls herself an American. The fact is, she speaks English like an Englishwoman, and knows a great deal more of America than you know of Paris. I have heard her tell the story of her family to a large and attentive audience; but I do not say that I believed it. Brandon, her father, a thoroughbred Yankee, was a man of great enterprise and energy, who was ten times rich, and as often wretchedly poor again in his life, but died leaving several millions. Fortunately, his good star led him into a region where large tracts of land happened to be for sale.

He was just about to be another Peabody when a fearful accident suddenly ended his life; he was burnt in an enormous fire that destroyed one of his establishments.

Brian, a relative of hers, who is the dryest, boniest person you can imagine, but at the same time the slyest woman I have ever seen. She also brought with her a kind of protector, a Mr. Thomas Elgin, also a relation of hers, a most extraordinary man, stiff like a poker, but evidently a dangerous man, who never opens his mouth except when he eats. He is a famous hand at small-swords, however, and snuffs his candle, nine times out of ten, at a distance of thirty yards.

Sir Thorn, who is a jockey of the first water, had discovered a pair of gray horses for her which made a sensation at the Bois de Boulogne, and drew everybody’s attention to their fair owner. Heaven knows how she had managed to get a number of letters of introduction. But certainly two or three of the most influential members of the American colony here received her at their houses. Gradually she crept into society; and now she is welcome almost everywhere, and visits, not only at the best houses, but even in certain families which have a reputation of being quite exclusive.

They talk of her as of a poor little orphan- girl, whom people slander atrociously because they envy her youth, her beauty, her splendor.” “Ah, is she so rich?” “Miss Brandon spends at least twenty thousand dollars a year.” “And no one inquires where they come from?” “From her sainted father’s petroleum-wells, my dear fellow. Petroleum explains everything.” Brevan seemed to feel a kind of savage delight in seeing Daniel’s despair, and in explaining to him most minutely how solidly, and how skilfully Miss Sarah Brandon’s position in the world had been established.

The air is filled with a perfume of hypocrisy which would rejoice the stiffest of Quakers. “But how, how can you reconcile that,” he said, “with the thoroughly worldly life of Miss Brandon?” “Oh, very easily, my dear fellow! and there you see the sublime policy of the three rogues. She says she has a right to do as she pleases, according to the code of laws which govern American young ladies. But at home she bows to the taste and the wishes of her relative, Mrs. Brian, who displays all the extreme prudishness of the austerest Puritan. “There is no way, then, of getting hold of this woman?” he asked. “I think not.” “But that adventure of which you spoke some time ago?” “Which?

He had lost as yet none of his illusions, being barely twenty-five years old, and having something like a hundred thousand dollars of his own. What his relations were with her, no one can tell positively,--I mean with sufficient evidence to carry conviction to others,--for the young man was a model of discretion. But what became only too well known was the fact, that, about eight months later, the people living near Miss Brandon’s house saw one morning, when the shutters were opened, a corpse dangling at a distance of a few feet above the ground from the iron fastenings of the lady’s window. In the pocket of his overcoat a letter was found, in which he declared that he committed suicide because an unreturned affection had made life unbearable to him. According, to their account, Miss Sarah had been the mistress of M. de Kergrist, and, seeing him utterly ruined, had sent him off one fine morning. They stated, that, the evening before the accident, he had come to the house at the usual hour, and, finding it closed, had begged, and even wept, and finally threatened to kill himself; that, thereupon, he had really killed himself; (poor fool that he was!) that Miss Brandon, concealed behind the blinds, had watched all his preparations for the fearful act; that she had seen him fasten the rope to the outside hinges of her window, put the noose around his neck, and then swing off into eternity; that she had watched him closely during his agony, and stood there till the last convulsions had passed away.” “Horrible!” whispered Daniel,--“too horrible!” But Maxime seized him by the arm, and pressing it so as almost to hurt him, said in a low, hoarse voice,-- “That is not the worst yet. Finding the last letter of Kergrist, she took it away with her, broke the seal, and read it; and, having found that her name was not mentioned in it, she had the amazing audacity to return to the body, and to put the letter back where she had found it. She had gotten rid of a man whom she feared. He no longer thought of discretion, of caution.

“There is another crime on record, of older date. The first appearance of Miss Brandon in Paris society. “One evening, about four years ago, the president of the Mutual Discount Society came into the cashier’s room to tell him, that, on the following day, the board of directors would examine his books. The cashier, an unfortunate man by the name of Malgat, replied that every thing was ready; but, the moment the president had turned his back, he took a sheet of paper, and wrote something like this:-- “‘Forgive me, I have been an honest man forty years long; now a fatal passion has made me mad. In his despair he ran as far as the Champs Elysees, and late in the night he knocked at the door of Miss Brandon’s house. Then, in his wild despair, he told them all, begging them to give him a couple of hundreds only of the four hundred thousand which he had stolen in order to give them to Miss Brandon,--a hundred only, to enable him to escape to Belgium. And when he begged and prayed, falling on his knees before Miss Sarah, Sir Thorn seized him by the shoulders, and turned him out of the house.” Maxime, overcome by his intense excitement, fell into an easy-chair, and remained there for a considerable time, his eyes fixed, his brow darkened, repenting himself, no doubt, of his candor, his wrath, and his forgetfulness of all he owed to himself and to others. But, when he rose again, his rare strength of will enabled him to assume his usual phlegmatic manner; and he continued in a mocking tone,-- “I see in your face, Daniel, that you think the story is monstrous, improbable, almost impossible. Nevertheless, four years ago, it was believed all over Paris, and set off by a number of hideous details which I will spare you.

If you care to look at the papers of that year, you will find it everywhere. To say nothing of the many similar stories that have happened since.” Daniel said nothing, he only bowed his head sadly. He felt a kind of painful emotion, such as he had never before experienced in his life.

In his furious rage, he might have left the house, rushed to a police-officer, and confessed to him every thing, laying the evidence he had in his hands before a magistrate, and”-- “You say,” replied Brevan, interrupting him with a dry, sardonic laugh, “precisely what all the advocates of the fair American said at that time. Her prudence consists in carrying imprudence to the farthest limits.” “But”-- “You ought to credit her, besides, with sufficient astuteness and experience to know that she had taken the most careful precautions, having destroyed every evidence of her own complicity, and feeling quite safe in that direction. She was quite sure that neither of them would accuse her, even at the moment of death. And yet, in the case of this Mutual Discount Society, her calculations did not prove absolutely correct.” “How so?” “It became known that she had received Malgat two or three times secretly, for he did not openly enter her house; and the penny papers had it, that ‘the fair stranger was no stranger to small peculations.’ Public opinion was veering around, when it was reported that she had been summoned to appear before a magistrate. Malgat had the sublime self-abnegation to undergo the agonies of a trial, and the infamy of a condemnation, without allowing a word to escape?” “No. For the simple reason that Malgat was sentenced in contumaciam to ten years in the penitentiary.” “And what has become of the poor wretch?” “Who knows? Two months later, a half decomposed body was found in the forest of Saint Germain, which people declared to be Malgat. This is what has set me thinking more than once, that, if people were not mistaken, a day might, after all, yet come, when Miss Sarah would have a terrible bill to settle with her implacable creditor.” He passed his hand across his brow as if to drive away such uncomfortable thoughts, and then said with a forced laugh,-- “Now, my dear fellow, I have come to the end of my budget.

Some you may read of in the papers; but most I know from my own long and patient observation. And, if you ask me what interest I could have in knowing such a woman, I will tell you frankly, that you see before you one of her victims; for my dear Daniel, I have to confess it, I also have been in love with her; and how! But I was too small a personage, and too poor a devil, to be worth a serious thought of Miss Brandon. I tell you, she played with me as if I had been a child, and then she sent me off as if I had been a lackey. Therefore, if I can help you, in secret, without becoming known, you may count upon me.” Why should Daniel have doubted the truthfulness of his friend’s statements? Had he not himself, and quite voluntarily, confessed his own folly, his own love, anticipating all questions, and making a clean breast of the whole matter? On the contrary, he thanked God for having sent him such an ally, such a friend, who had lived long enough amid all these intrigues of Parisian high life to know all its secret springs, and to guide him safely. He jumped up as if suddenly inspired by a bright idea, and said hurriedly,-- “But now I think of it, Daniel, you do not know Miss Brandon; you have never even seen her!” “No, indeed!” “Well, that’s a pity. “Very well,” he said, “I am willing.” Without losing a moment, they went out, and reached the theatre just as the curtain rose on the fourth act of Don Giovanni.

The stage was gorgeous; but what did they care for the singer on the boards, or the divine music of Mozart? In the box which Maxime had pointed out to him he saw a girl of such rare and dazzling beauty, that he could hardly retain a cry of admiration.

She was leaning forward, resting on the velvet cushion of her box, in order to hear better. Her large, soft eyes were overshadowed by long lashes; and as she now opened them wide, and now half closed them again, they changed from the darkest to the lightest blue. Her lips smiled in all the freshness and innocence of merry youth, displaying now and then two rows of teeth, matchless in their beauty and regularity. “Can that be,” said Daniel to himself, “the wretched creature whose portrait Maxime has just given me?” A little behind her, and half-hid in the shade of the box, appeared a large bony head, adorned with an absurd bunch of feathers. Still farther back, barely discernible after long examination, arose a tall, stiff figure, a bald, shining head, two dark, deep-sunk eyes, a hooked nose, and a pair of immense streaming whiskers. As Daniel was persistently examining the box, with the smiling girl, the stern old woman, and the placid old man in the background, he felt doubts of all kinds creeping into his mind. Did he not merely repeat the atrocious slanders of the envious world?

The happy lover of Miss Brandon?” “Yes, it is so.

I have to confess it.” He was just in the act of explaining the reasons for his silence, when M. de Brevan interrupted him, saying,-- “Just look, Daniel; just look!” The count had taken a seat in the front part of the box, by Miss Brandon’s side, and was talking to her with studied affectation, bending over her, gesticulating violently, and laughing till he showed every one of the long yellow teeth which were left him. it will be hard work to rescue the count from the wiles of this witch,” said Maxime. Having left the house, they were just turning into the narrow street which leads to the boulevards, when they saw a tall man, wrapped up in a huge cloak, coming towards them, and behind him a servant with a whole armful of magnificent roses. That is a crime against the majesty of Mozart.

Daniel, taken rather by surprise, accompanied the count till he saw him stop near a huge landau, open in spite of the cold weather, but guarded by three servants in gorgeous livery. When they saw the count, they all three uncovered respectfully; but he, without taking any notice of them, turned to the porter who had the flowers, and said,-- “Scatter all these roses in this carriage.” The man hesitated. He was the servant of a famous florist, and had often seen people pay forty or fifty dollars for such bouquets. The roses were piled up in the bottom of the carriage; and, when he had done, he received a handsome fee for his trouble.

He ran up the steps of the great porch of the opera-house, and in a few moments he was once more in Miss Brandon’s box. Daniel Champcey, one of our most distinguished naval officers.” Daniel bowed, first to her, and then solemnly to Mrs. And I even know that you are one of the most frequent visitors at Count Ville-Handry’s house.” She looked at Daniel with a kind of malicious simplicity, and then added, “I do not mean to say that the count would not be wrong if he attributed your frequent visits exclusively to his own merits.

I have heard something of a certain young lady”-- “Sarah,” here broke in Mrs. Brian, “what you say there is highly improper.” This reproof, so far from checking Miss Sarah’s merriment, only seemed to increase it. Without losing sight of Daniel, she turned to her aunt, and said,-- “Since the count is not opposed to this gentleman’s paying his attentions to his daughter, I think I may safely speak of them. After all that he had been told, these words sounded to him, in spite of the loud laugh that accompanied them, like a warning and a threat. Suddenly, as her foot touched the bottom of the carriage, she drew back, and cried out,-- “What is that? “You are fond of roses,” he said, “and I have ordered a few.” With these words he took up some of the leaves, and showed them to her.

“You want people to say everywhere that I make you commit all kinds of follies. What a glorious thing to waste fifty dollars on flowers, when one has I know not how many millions!” Then, seeing by the light of the street-lamp that the count’s face showed deep disappointment, she said in a tone to make him lose the little reason that was left him,-- “You would have been more welcome if you had brought me a cent’s worth of violets.” In the mean time Mrs. At the moment when the servant was closing the door, Miss Sarah bent forward toward Daniel, and said,-- “I hope I shall have the pleasure of soon seeing you again. I must tell you that we American girls dote upon naval officers, and that I”-- The remainder was lost in the noise of the wheels. All these strange events, coming upon him one by one, in the course of a few hours, and breaking suddenly in upon so calm and quiet a life, overwhelmed him to such a degree, that he was not quite sure whether he was dreaming or awake. This Miss Sarah Brandon, who had just passed away from him like a glorious vision from on high, was only too real; and there, on the muddy pavement, a handful of rose-leaves bore witness of the power of her charms, and the folly of her aged lover. “Ah, we are lost!” exclaimed Daniel, in so loud a voice, that some of the passers-by stopped, expecting one of those street-dramas which read so strikingly in the local columns of our papers. Noticing that he attracted attention, Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and quickly walked off towards the boulevards.

Whilst lounging leisurely down the boulevards, still brilliantly lighted up, and crowded with people, he strained all his faculties for the purpose of examining his situation coolly and calmly. At first he had imagined he should only have to do with one of those common intriguantes who want to secure themselves a quiet old age, and clumsily spread their nets to catch an old or a young man; and who can always easily be gotten rid of by paying them a more or less considerable sum of money, provided the police does not get hold of them. But here he saw himself suddenly confronted by one of those formidable adventuresses in high life, who either save appearances altogether, or, at worst, are only compromised far enough to give additional zest and an air of mystery to their relations. Was it not pure folly to think even of making her give up the magnificent fortune which she seemed already to have in her hands, Heaven knows by what means? When he reached home, he went to bed as usual; but the consciousness of his misfortunes kept him awake. de Brevan, who came to hear all about his new acquaintance of last night, and whose first word was,-- “Well?” “Alas!” replied Daniel, “I think the wisest plan would be to give it up.” “Upon my word, you are in great haste to surrender.” “And what would you do in my place, eh? “For I can no longer deceive myself, Maxime,” he concluded with a tone of utter despair. All the more reason, then, that you should listen to the calm advice of a friend.

Don’t you see that the position of these daring adventurers, however secure it may appear, may, after all, hang on a single thread? Of course all these results had not been the work of an hour. But he recalled himself at once, and added, full of vivacity,-- “Not that I complain of it; oh, no! In the meantime, Daniel, full of respect for his future father-in-law, had drawn forward his easiest arm-chair. I was to meet one of my fellow members of the assembly, and he did not come to the place where we were to meet.

I might ask him what he thinks of a certain young lady to whom he had, last night, the honor of being presented.’” Now or never was the favorable moment for following Maxime’s advice; hence Daniel, instead of replying, simply smiled as pleasantly as he could. But that did not satisfy the count; so he repeated the question more directly, and said,-- “Come, tell us frankly, what do you think of Miss Brandon?” “She is one of the greatest beauties I have ever seen in my life.” Count Ville-Handry’s eyes beamed with delight and with pride as he heard these words. When she opens her lips, the charms of her mind, beauty and her mind, and remember her admirable ingenuousness, her naive freshness, and all the treasures of her chaste and pure soul.” This excessive, almost idiotic admiration, this implicit, absurd faith in his beloved, gave the painted face of the count a strange, almost ecstatic expression. He said to himself, but loud enough to be heard,-- “And to think that chance alone has led me to meet this angel!” A sudden start, involuntary on the part of Daniel, seemed to disturb him; for he resumed his speech, laying great stress upon his words,-- “Yes, chance alone; and I can prove it to you.” He settled down in his chair like a man who is going to speak for some length of time; and, in that emphatic manner which so well expressed the high opinion he had of himself, he continued,-- “You know, my friend, how deeply I was affected by the death of the Countess Ville-Handry. It is true she was not exactly the companion a statesman of my rank would have chosen. But she was a good woman, attentive, discreet, and devoted to me; an excellent manager, economical, and yet always sure to do honor to the high reputation of my house.” Thus, in all sincerity, the count spoke of her who had literally made him, and who, for sixteen long years, had galvanized his empty head. “In short,” he continued, “the loss of my wife so completely upset me, that I lost all taste for the occupations which had so far been dear to me; and I set about to find distractions elsewhere. Soon after I had gotten into the habit of going frequently to my club, I fell in with M. “Sir Thorn, as they call him, is an excellent horseman, you know, and used to ride out every morning at an early hour; and as the physicians had recommended to me horseback exercise, and as I like it, because I excel in riding, as in every thing else, we often met in the Bois de Boulogne.

They got him, with some difficulty, out of the hack; and there they were, carrying him painfully up the stairs, and he groaning feebly, for he suffered terribly. She had only taken time to throw a loose wrapper around her shoulders; and her dishevelled hair streamed out from under a kind of coquettish morning-cap. “When she saw her kinsman in the arms of the servants, she imagined he was dangerously wounded, perhaps even--She turned as pale as death, and, uttering a loud cry, she tottered. And there I held her, leaning on my shoulder, so close that I became aware of the warmth of her lovely body, and actually felt her heart beat against mine.

“When she recovered, and found herself in the arms of a man, she rose with an air of extreme distress, and, slipping away, disappeared in her room.” At the mere description of this scene, the count turned pale under his rouge; and his voice forsook him.

Never in my life, I assure you, have I felt such a deep sensation as when Miss Brandon was lying in my arms.” While saying this, he had pulled out his handkerchief, saturated with a strong perfume, and was wiping his forehead, though very gently, and with infinite precautions, so as not to spoil the artistic work of his valet. They showed me into the room of that excellent gentleman, where I found him stretched out on an invalid’s chair, with his legs all bandaged up. I offered him my arm; he accepted it; and, when we came back, he asked me if I would be kind enough to take pot-luck with him.” However important these communications were for Daniel, he was for some time already listening but very inattentively to the count’s recital, for he had heard a strange, faint noise, which he could not by any means explain to himself. de Brevan, weary of his confinement and excited by curiosity, had chosen this way to see and to listen. Of all this, however, Count Ville-Handry saw nothing, and suspected nothing. But you know I have some power over myself; and I had recovered my calmness, when Sir Thorn confessed to me that he would have invited me long since, but for the fear of offending his young relative, who had declared she would never meet me again. I was grieved, and asked how I had offended her. And then Sir Thorn, with that marvellous composure which never leaves him, said, ‘It is not you she blames, but herself, on account of that ridiculous scene the other day.’ “Do you hear, Daniel, he called that adorable scene which I have just described to you, ridiculous!

A man like myself, known abroad and at home during a long political career of some distinction, could not be a stranger to Miss Brandon. My earnestness in defending those causes which I considered just had often filled her with enthusiasm. Deeply moved by my speeches, which she was in the habit of reading, she had often thought of the speaker. I think I can hear her now say with that beautiful voice of hers, which has the clear ring of pure crystal,-- “‘Oh, yes! And there was many a day when I wished I were a friend of yours, so that I might say to you, “Well done, sir! what you are doing is grand, is noble!”’ “And that was true; for she remembered a number of passages from my speeches, even from such as I had forgotten myself; and she always quoted them literally. Brian, the Puritan lady, so strict for herself, so indulgent for others; and Thomas Elgin, the noblest and best of men, who conceals under an appearance of icy coldness the warmest and kindest of hearts.” What was Count Ville-Handry aiming at? Had he come merely to confide to Daniel the amazing romance of his love? Or did he simply yield to the natural desire of all lovers, to pour out the exuberance of their feelings, and to talk of their love, even when they know that their indiscretion may be fatal to their success? You say to yourself, ‘Count Ville-Handry was in love.’ Well, I assure you you are mistaken.” Daniel started from his chair; and, overcome by amazement, he exclaimed,-- “Can it be possible?” “Exactly so; I give you my word of honor.

But as I am a shrewd observer, and have some knowledge of the human heart, I could not help being struck by a change in Miss Brandon’s face, and especially in her manner. I devoted myself, therefore, to more careful observation; and I soon became aware, that, if I loved Miss Brandon only with the affection of a father, I had succeeded in inspiring her with a more tender sentiment.” In any other person, this senile self-conceit would have appeared intensely absurd to Daniel; in his Henrietta’s father, it pained him deeply. I was so surprised by it, that for three days I could neither think of it coolly, nor decide on what I ought to do.

I did not for a moment think of abusing the confidence of this innocent child; and yet I knew, I felt it, she was absolutely in my power.

It would have been infamous in me to repay the hospitality of excellent Mrs.

Brian, and the kindness of noble M. I thought of that, also; but I had not the courage to do so.” He hesitated for a moment, trying to read in Daniel’s eyes his real opinion. After a while, he said very gravely,-- “It was then only, that the idea of marrying her occurred to me.” Daniel had been expecting the fatal word; thus, however heavy the blow was, it found him prepared. This indifference seemed to surprise the count; for he uttered an expression of discontent, and curtly repeated,-- “Yes, I thought of marrying her. I am not one of those weak men, you know, I am sure, who can easily be hoodwinked, and who fancy they alone possess the secret of perennial youth. But then I answered it triumphantly by the fact that age is not a matter to be decided by the certificate of baptism, but that we are just as old as we appear to be. Now, thanks to an exceptionally sober and peaceful life, of which forty years were spent in the country, to an iron constitution, and to the extreme care I have always taken of my health, I possess a--what shall I say?--a vigor which many young men might envy, who can hardly drag one foot after the other.” He rose as he said this, threw out his chest, straightened his back, and stretched out his well-shaped leg. Then, when he thought Daniel had sufficiently admired him, he continued,-- “Now, what of Miss Brandon? She is at least twenty-five, my dear friend; and, for a woman, twenty-five years are--ah, ah!” He smiled ironically, as if to say that to him a woman of twenty-five appeared an old, a very old woman. A thousand trifles, of no weight in appearance, and unnoticed by herself in all probability, have told me that she abhors very young men.

She has learnt to appreciate the value of young husbands of thirty, who are all fire and flame in the honeymoon, and who, six months later, wearied with pure and tranquil happiness, seek their delights elsewhere. It is not only of late that I have found out how truly she values what is, after all, most desirable in this world,--a great name worthily borne by a true man, and a reputation that would shed new radiance upon her. How often have I heard her say to Mrs. Brian, ‘Above all, aunt, I want to be proud of my husband; I want to see everybody’s eye sparkle with admiration and envy as soon as I mention his name, which will have become mine also; I want people to whisper around me, “Ah, how happy she is to be loved by such a man!”’” He shook his head gravely, and said in a solemn tone,-- “I examined myself, Daniel, and found that I answered all of Miss Brandon’s expectations; and the result of my meditations was, that I would be a madman to allow such happiness to escape me, and that I was bound to risk every thing. Elgin in order to make him aware of my intentions. I cannot describe to you the amazement of that worthy gentleman. Brian the responsibility of refusing or accepting my offer.” He laughed, this good Count Ville-Handry, he laughed heartily, no doubt recalling his discussion with Sir Thorn, and his triumphant skill.

“As a matter of course, I was punctual; and it was well I was so, for, a few minutes after I got there, I saw her--or rather I felt her--coming towards me, riding at full speed. I am deeply wounded by this want of confidence, and I do not think I can endure it any longer. Here I am, carry me off, let us go!’ “Never, O Daniel! And yet I had the courage, mad as I felt I was becoming, to speak to her words of calm reason. “She began to weep, and accused me of indifference. “But I had discovered a way out of the difficulty, and said to her,-- “‘Sarah, go home. In the face of such evidence of what they called our madness, Sir Thorn and Mrs. Go, then, and get married.’” This is what Count Ville-Handry called chance, a “blessed chance,” as he said, utterly unmindful of the whole chain of circumstances which he himself related. Elgin, and the fainting-fit of Miss Brandon, to the meeting in the Bois de Boulogne and the proposed runaway-match, all seemed to him perfectly natural and simple,--even the sudden enthusiasm of a young, frivolous woman for his political opinions, and the learning by heart of his speeches. The count, however, was not so blind, that he should not have at least suspected the nature of Daniel’s feelings.

“What are you thinking of?” he asked. Tell us frankly that you suspect Miss Brandon, and accuse her of trying to catch me in her snares, or, at least, of having selfish views.” “I do not say so,” stammered Daniel. Well, come; I think I can convince you of your mistake. I have only one word in reply; but that is sufficient; Miss Brandon is richer than I am.” How, and at what price, Miss Brandon had managed to possess herself of such a fortune, Daniel knew but too well from Maxime’s account; hence he could not suppress a nervous shudder, which the count noticed, and which irritated him. “The oil-wells which she has inherited from her father bring her in, bad years and good years, from thirty to forty thousand dollars a year, and that in spite of their being sadly mismanaged. Sir Thorn has proved to me that they are an almost inexhaustible mine of wealth. If petroleum was not fabulously profitable, how would you account for the oil-fever with which these cool, calculating Americans have suddenly been seized, and which has made more millionaires than the gold-fever in California and the Territories? there is something to be made there yet, and something grand, if one could dispose of a large capital.” He became excited, and forgot himself; but he soon checked himself. He had evidently been on the point of letting a secret leak out. After a few moments, he continued more calmly,-- “But enough of that.

Daniel did not even think of asking himself that question; his mind was in a state of utter confusion.

Her excellent father was a model of honesty.” “And--her previous life?” The count started from his chair, and, casting a savage glance at Daniel, said,-- “Oh, oh! I see one of those rascally slanderers, who have tried to tarnish the honor of the noblest and chastest of all women, has already been at work here, anticipating my communication to you, and repeating those infamous calumnies. You must give me the name of the scoundrel.” Unconsciously, almost, Daniel turned towards the door, behind which M. “I know every hour of it; and I can answer for it as for my own.

Did they not actually say she had been the accomplice of a wretched thief, a cashier of some bank, who had become a defaulter? Did they not say that she had driven a foolish young man, a gambler, to commit suicide; and that she had watched, unmoved, the tortures of his agony?

you have only to look at Miss Brandon to know that these vile stories are wretched inventions of malicious enemies and rivals. And look here, Daniel; you may believe me; whenever you see people calumniate a man or a woman, you may rest assured that that man or woman has, somehow or other, wounded or humiliated some vulgar person, some mean, envious fool, who cannot endure his or her superiority in point of fortune, rank, or beauty and talent.” He had actually recovered his youthful energy in thus defending his beloved. “But no more of that painful topic,” he said: “let us talk seriously.” He rose, and leaning on the mantelpiece, so as to face Daniel, he said,-- “I told you, my dear Daniel, that Sir Thorn and Mrs. I know she is distressed at the idea of my marrying again. She cannot bear the mere idea that another woman is to take the place of her mother, to bear her name, and to rule in my house.” Daniel began at last to know what he had to understand by that unsuccessful appointment which had procured him the pleasure of a visit from Count Ville-Handry. If she has taken it into her head to receive Miss Brandon uncivilly, she will do so, in spite of all she has promised me, and she will make a terrible scene of it. And if Miss Brandon consents, in spite of all, to go on, my house will become a hell to me, and my wife will suffer terribly. He went on,-- “I have never disapproved of my poor wife’s plans; and the proof is, that I have allowed you to pay your attentions to my daughter. I have shown you the wisdom of my decision, and you may act accordingly.” He had already put on his hat and opened the door, when he added,-- “Ah!

Now, pray think of what I have told you, and good-by!” VII. de Brevan rushed out of the bedroom in which he had been concealed. Overcome by the great effort he had made to conceal his emotions, he had sunk into a chair, hiding his face in his hands, and said to himself in a mournful voice, and as if trying to convince himself of an overwhelming fact,-- “The count has lost his mind altogether, and we are lost.” The grief of this excellent young man was so great and so bitter, that M.

He looked at him for some time with an air of pity, and then suddenly, as if yielding to a good impulse, he touched his shoulder, and said,-- “Daniel!” The unhappy man started like one who has suddenly been roused from deep slumber; and, as he recalled what had just happened, he said,-- “You have heard all, Maxime?” “All!

You know I have paid dear for my experience.” He hesitated, being at a loss how to express his ideas; then he continued in a short, sharp tone,-- “You love Miss Ville-Handry?” “More than my life, don’t you know?” “Well, if that is so, abandon all thoughts of useless resistance; induce Miss Henrietta to do as her father wishes; and persuade Miss Brandon to let your wedding take place a month after her own. Miss Ville-Handry may suffer somewhat during that month; but the day after your wedding you will carry her off to your own home, and leave the poor old man to his amorous folly.” Daniel showed in his face that this suggestion opened a new prospect before him.

“I had not thought of that,” he said.

But can I do so in honor?” “Oh, honor, honor!” “Would it not be wrong in me to abandon the poor old man to the mercy of Miss Brandon and her accomplices?” “You will never be able to rescue him, my dear fellow.” “I ought at least to try. She is as weak as a child; but at the proper moment she can develop a masculine energy and an iron will.” “Why should you tell her at all who Miss Brandon is?” “I have pledged my word of honor to tell her every thing.” Brevan again shrugged his shoulders, and there was no mistaking what he meant by that gesture. de Brevan, at first all fire and energy, had rapidly cooled off, like a man, who, having ventured too far, thinks he has made a mistake, and tries to retrace his steps. An advertisement inserted in all the leading newspapers of Europe would, no doubt, reach him; and the hope of seeing himself avenged”-- M. He broke out with strange vehemence,-- “What nonsense!” Then he added, more collectedly,-- “You forget that Malgat has been sentenced to I know not how many years’ penal servitude, and that he will see in your advertisement a trick of the police; so that he will only conceal himself more carefully than ever.” But Daniel was not so easily shaken. If I thought he was really anxious for Miss Brandon’s hand”-- “I have heard it said, and I am sure it is so, the young man is one of those idiots whom vanity renders insane, and who do not know what to do in order to make themselves notorious. Miss Brandon being very famous, he would marry her, just as he would pay a hundred thousand dollars for a famous racer.” “And how do you account for Miss Brandon’s refusal?” “By the character of the man, whom I know very well, and whom she knows as well. I have heard her say that only fools employ poison or the dagger.” A strange smile passed over his lips; and he added in a tone of horrible irony,-- “It is true there are other means, less prompt, perhaps, but much safer, by which people may be removed when they become inconvenient. The same, no doubt, which she had employed to get rid of poor Kergrist, and that unlucky Malgat, the cashier of the Mutual Discount Society. Purely moral means, based upon her thorough knowledge of the character of her victims, and her own infernal power over them.” But Daniel tried in vain to obtain more light from his friend.

Brevan answered evasively; perhaps because he did not dare to speak out freely, and reveal his real thoughts; or because it lay in his plans to be content with having added this horrible fear to all the other apprehensions of his friend. He who had first advised all kinds of concessions now suggested the most energetic resistance, and seemed to be confident of success. When he at last left Daniel, he had made him promise to keep him hour by hour informed of all that might happen, and, above all, to try every means in his power to unmask Miss Brandon.

A young and beautiful woman, consumed by ambition and covetousness, might possibly play a comedy of pure love while she was disgusted in her heart. Such things happen, and are excused by the morality of our day. But that she should marry a poor old fool, with the preconceived purpose of hastening his end by a deliberate crime, there was a depth in that wickedness which terrified Daniel’s imagination. Deeply ensconced in his chair, he was losing himself in conjectures, forgetting how time passed, and how his work was waiting for him, even the invitation to dinner which the count had given to him, and the prospect of being introduced that very evening to Miss Brandon. Night came; and then only his concierge, who came in to see what had become of him all day long, aroused him from his torpor. “And Henrietta, who has been waiting for me--what must she think of me?” Miss Ville-Handry, at that very moment, had reached that degree of anxiety which becomes well-nigh intolerable. After having waited for Daniel all the evening of the day before, and after having spent a sleepless night, she had surely expected him to-day, counting the seconds by the beating of her heart, and starting at the noise of every carriage in the street.

In her despair, knowing hardly what she was doing, she was thinking of running herself to University Street, to Daniel’s house, when the door opened. “Alas!” “Speak: let me know all.” “Your father has come to me, and offered me your hand, Henrietta, provided I can obtain your consent to his marriage with Miss Brandon. to think that you should be exposed to the spite and the persecution of these wretches!” She raised her head proudly, and replied,-- “I am not afraid of them.” Then she added in a gentler tone,-- “Besides, won’t you always be near me, to advise me, and to protect me in case of danger?” “I? Don’t you think they will try to part us soon enough?” “No, Daniel, I know very well that the house will no longer be open to you.” “Well?” The poor girl blushed up to the roots of her hair, and, turning her. I shall have to stoop to win over one of my waiting-women, who may be discreet and obliging enough to aid me, and, through her, I will write to you, and receive your letters.” But this arrangement did not relieve Daniel from his terrible apprehensions. She answered,-- “I thought you would be able to wait until the day should come when the law would authorize me to make my own choice.” “Henrietta!” She offered him her hand, and said solemnly,-- “And on that day, Daniel, I promise you, if my father still withholds his consent, I will ask you openly for your arm; and then, in broad daylight, before all the world, I shall leave this house never to re-enter it again.” As quick as thought, Daniel had seized her hand, and, carrying it to his lips, he said,--“Thanks! “I will do what you desire; but believe me, all your efforts will be in vain.” She was interrupted by the arrival of Count Ville-Handry. He kissed his daughter, said a few words about rain and fine weather; and then, drawing Daniel into one of the windows, he asked-- “Have you spoken to her?” “Yes.” “Well?” “Miss Henrietta wants a few days to consider.” The count looked displeased, and said,-- “That is absurd. She has a quarter of a million of her own.” “Sir!” exclaimed Daniel indignantly. They had but just handed the coffee around, when he turned to Daniel, saying,-- “Let us make haste.

But the count did not even give him time to take leave of Henrietta; he carried him off to his carriage, pushed him in, jumped in after him, and called out to the servant,--“Circus Street! Nevertheless, on this evening Count Ville-Handry twice lowered the window to call out,-- “Don’t drive at a walk!” The fact is, that, in spite of his efforts to assume the air of a grave statesman, he was as impatient, and as vain of his love, as a young collegian hurrying to his first rendezvous with his beloved. During dinner he had been sullen and silent; now he became talkative, and chatted away, without troubling himself about the silence of his companion. Half-buried in the corner of the well-padded carriage, he tried his best to control his emotions; for he was excited, more excited than ever in his life, by the thought that he was to see, face to face, this formidable adventuress, Miss Brandon. And, without waiting for the steps to be let down, he jumped on the sidewalk, and, running ahead of his servants, knocked at the door of Miss Brandon’s house. It was by no means one of those modern structures which attract the eye of the passer-by by a ridiculous and conspicuous splendor. Looking at it from the street, you would have taken it for the modest house of a retired grocer, who was living in it upon his savings at the rate of two or three thousand a year.

When they reached the upper landing, the count stopped, as if his breath had been giving out of a sudden. Another servant appeared, coming out of the rooms, and, bowing low before Count Ville-Handry, he said,-- “The ladies have but just risen from table, and are still dressing.” “Ah!” “If the gentlemen will please sit down in the parlor, I will tell M. It was a magnificent room; but every thing in it, from the carpet on the floor to the chandelier on the ceiling, betrayed the Puritanic taste of Mrs. Opposite the fireplace, in the place of honor, there stared at you a painting in a most costly gilt frame,--a horrible daub, representing a man of about fifty years, who wore a fancy uniform with enormous epaulets, a huge sword, a plumed hat, and a blue sash, into which two revolvers were thrust. Brandon, Miss Sarah’s father,” said Count Ville-Handry, in a tone of deep respect, which unnerved Daniel. “As a work of art, this portrait leaves, no doubt, much to be wished for; but they say the likeness is excellent.” Certainly, though that might be so, there was no resemblance to be discovered between the tanned face of this American general and the blooming features of Miss Brandon. As Daniel examined this picture nearer by, and more closely, he thought he discovered a studied and intentional coarseness of execution. It looked to him like the work of an artist who had endeavored to imitate those wretched painters who live upon the vanity of weak men and little children. He thought he discovered by the side of gross inaccuracies unmistakable traces of a master’s hand; and especially one of the ears, half hid behind the hair, seemed to him admirably done. Count Ville-Handry looked at it with pity; then, forgetting that he had introduced Daniel already the night before at the opera, he presented him once more; and, when the ceremony was over, he said to Sir Thorn,-- “Upon my word, I am almost ashamed to appear so early; but I knew you expected company to-night.” “Oh, only a few persons!” “And I desired to see you for a few moments alone.” A strange grimace represented the only smile of which the honorable gentleman was capable.

I cannot imagine how she can spend so much time at her toilet.” They were thus chatting away before the fireplace, Sir Thorn stretched out in an easy-chair, and the count leaning against the mantlepiece, while Daniel had withdrawn into the embrasure of a window which looked upon the court-yard and the garden behind the house. He could not understand this wound of M. If he did so, that fainting-fit might have been natural, and not prearranged; but”-- He was just plunging into these doubts and speculations, when the noise of a carriage entering the court-yard, aroused him from his thoughts.

A coupe had driven up to the back porch of the house. A lady stepped out; and he was on the point of uttering a cry of surprise, for he thought he recognized Miss Sarah in that woman. It was a potent fact, unmistakable and tangible, which came to him in support of his suspicions.

In order to increase the passionate impatience of the count, they had told him that Miss Brandon was still dressing, but that she was making all haste to come down to him. Not a word had been said of her being out, and of her return at that very moment. It must have evidently been something of great importance to have kept her out till so late an hour, and when she knew, moreover, that the count was waiting for her. This incident threw a flood of light on the cunning policy pursued in this house, and on the clever and active complicity of M. How marvellously well even the parlor was arranged to serve the purposes of the owners! This simple elegance could not but banish all doubts; and this horrible portrait of the so-called Gen. Brandon--what a stroke of genius! As to the lame leg of Sir Thorn, Daniel no longer believed in it.

But at the same time he marvelled at the self-denial of this gentleman, who, in order to prove a falsehood, consented to wear his leg bandaged up for months, as if it really had been severely injured. He would live, he said, with his wife in the second story of his palace. The first story was to be divided into two suites of apartments,--one for M. She wore on that night a dress of tea-color embroidered with tiny bouquets in Chinese silk, and trimmed below with an immense flounce of plaited muslin. In her hair, which looked even more carelessly put up than usually, she had nothing but a branch of fuschia, the crimson bells falling gracefully down upon her neck, where they mingled with her golden curls. She came smilingly up to Count Ville-Handry, and, offering him her brow to kiss, she said,-- “Do I look well, dear count?” He trembled from head to foot; and all he could do was to stretch out his lips, and to stammer in an almost ecstatic tone of voice,-- “Oh, beautiful! too beautiful!” “It has taken you long enough, I am sure,” said Sir Thorn severely,--“too long!” He might have known that Miss Brandon had accomplished a miracle of expeditiousness; for it was not a quarter of an hour since she returned to the house. “You are an impertinent villain, Thorn,” she said, laughing in the fresh and hearty manner of a child; “and I am very happy that the presence of the count relieves me from your eternal sermons.” “Sarah!” exclaimed Mrs. “I am sure we shall understand each other admirably.” She told him this with the softest possible voice; but, if he had known her better, he would have read in the way in which she looked at him, that her disposition towards him had entirely changed since yesterday; then she wished him well; now she hated him savagely. The servant announced some of the usual visitors; and she went to receive them.

It appeared that the gentlemen who showed themselves there--old men mostly, amply decorated with foreign orders, and young men in extravagantly fashionable costumes--were not free from suspicion; but they all belonged to Paris high-life, to that society, which, under a dazzlingly brilliant outside, conceals hideous crimes, and allows now and then traces of real misery to be seen through the rents in the splendid livery worn by its members. Some of these men stood, by the name they bore or the position they filled, high above the rest of the company; they were easily recognized by their haughty manner, and the intense deference with which their slightest remarks were received. He assumed all the airs of the master of the house; as if he had been in his own house, gave orders to the servants, and then, with mock modesty, went from group to group, eagerly picking up all the compliments he could gather on Miss Brandon’s beauty, and his own good luck. But in spite of the multitude of her admirers, and the number of compliments she received at every moment, she never for a moment lost sight of Daniel, watching him all the time stealthily, to read his thoughts in his features. Once she even shocked the crowd of her worshippers by suddenly leaving her place in order to ask him why he held himself so aloof, and whether he felt indisposed. Then, seeing that he was a perfect stranger here, she was good enough to point out to him some of the most remarkable men in the crowd. In doing this, she was so anxious to make him aware of her distinguished friends, that Daniel began to think she must have divined his intentions, and thus indirectly defied him, as if she had said in so many words,-- “You see what friends I have, and how they would defend me if you should dare to attack me.” Nevertheless, he was not discouraged, being fully aware of all the difficulties of his undertaking, and having long since counted up all the obstacles in his way.

While the conversation was going on around him, he arranged in his head a plan, which, he hoped, would enable him to find out the antecedents of this dangerous adventuress. Brian interposed, saying a few words in a tone of reproach to her niece. If the great reception-room reflected the character of Mrs. She sat down on a small sofa and began, after a short pause,-- “My aunt was right; it would have been more proper for me to convey to you through M. But I have the independence of all the girls of my country; and, when my interests are at stake, I trust no one but myself.” She was bewitching in her ingenuousness as she uttered these words with the air of a little child who looks cunning, and determined to undertake something that appears quite formidable. “Now, sir,” continued Miss Brandon, “I wish to hear from your own lips whether you see--any--objections to this match.” She spoke so frankly, that it was evident she was utterly unconscious of that article in the code of social laws which prescribes that a French girl must never mention the word “marriage” without blushing to the roots of her hair. I speak, therefore, to Count Ville-Handry’s son-in-law, and I repeat, Do you see any objections to this match?” The question was too precisely put to allow of any prevarication.

He answered diplomatically,-- “I am afraid you overestimate my influence.” She looked at him suddenly with such a sharp and penetrating glance that he felt almost startled, and then said,-- “I do not ask of you to succeed, only promise me upon your honor that you will do your best, and I shall be very much obliged to you. “You see,” resumed Miss Brandon very coldly, “you see you were deceiving me.” And, turning away from him, she hid her face in her hands, apparently overcome by grief, and repeated in a tone of deep sorrow,-- “What a disgrace! What a humiliation!” But suddenly she started up again, her face bright with a glow of hope, and cried out,-- “Well, be it so. Whilst you--I can trust you; you are a man of honor, and all is not lost yet.

Is it a question of money, the count’s fortune?” “Miss Brandon!” “No, it is not that, I see. I was quite sure of it. “I understand.” She made a supreme effort not to break out in sobs; and big tears, resembling diamonds of matchless beauty, rolled slowly down from between her long, trembling eyelashes. They have, no doubt, told you that I am an adventuress, come from nowhere; that my father, the brave defender of the Union, exists only in the painting in my parlor; that no one knows where my income comes from; that Thorn, that noble soul, and Mrs. Brian, a saint upon earth, are vile accomplices of mine. Confess, you have been told all that, and you have believed it.” Grand in her wrath, her cheeks burning, her lips trembling, she rose, and added in a tone of bitter sarcasm,-- “Ah! America is not so far off. Brandon, and they would have told me what sort of a man their chief had been.

I should have examined the oil-regions of Pennsylvania; and I would have learned there that the petroleum-wells belonging to M. To enable her to speak with such energy and in such a tone, she must either be possessed of unsurpassed impudence, or--he had to confess it--be innocent. Overcome by the effort she had made, she had sunk back upon the sofa, and continued in a lower tone of voice, as if speaking to herself,-- “But have I a right to complain? Thorn has told me so often enough, and I would not believe him.

I had been brought up in America, where young girls know no other law but that of their own consciences. We are taught not to blush, except when we have done wrong; they are taught all the appearances of false prudishness. I did not count upon the wickedness of the world. Then she added suddenly,-- “But I have proofs, irrefutable proofs of Malgat’s rascality.” And, without waiting for another word, she hurried into the adjoining room.

Daniel, moved to the bottom of his heart, remained standing where he was, immovable, like a statue. He was utterly confounded and overcome by the charm of that marvellous voice, which passed through the whole gamut of passion with such a sonorous ring, and yet with such sweet languor, that it seemed by turns to sob and to threaten, to sigh with sadness and to thunder with wrath. And how well she defends herself.” But Miss Brandon was already back again, carrying in her arms a small box of costly wood inlaid with jewels. She resumed her seat on the sofa; and in that brief, sharp tone which betrays terrible passions restrained with a great effort, she said,-- “Before all, I must thank you, M. I knew that slander had attacked me; I felt it, so to say, in the air I was breathing; but I had never been able yet to take hold of it. Listen, therefore; for I swear to you by all that is most sacred to me, by the memory of my sainted mother, I swear to you solemnly, that you shall hear the truth, and nothing but the truth.” She had opened the box, and was eagerly searching something among the papers inside. Malgat was the cashier and confidential clerk of the Mutual Discount Society, a large and powerful company. Elgin had some business with him, a few weeks after our arrival here, for the purpose of drawing funds which he had in Philadelphia. He was a man of about forty, of medium height, ordinary looking, very polite, but not refined in his manners. I read in his face an expression of base vice.

This description of Malgat impressed his portrait so deeply on his mind, that he thought he saw him before his eyes, and would certainly recognize him if he should ever meet him. Malgat offered him his assistance, although they never had any luck, in fact.” By this time Miss Brandon had found the papers she was looking for. She handed them to Daniel, saying,-- “And, if you do not believe what I say, look at this.” There were a dozen square bits of paper, on which Malgat had reported the result of his operations on ‘change, which he carried on on account of, and with the money of, M. There is a capital chance on such and such funds; send me all the money you can spare.” The words were always the same; the name of the funds alone varied in each. One loss brought about another, I lost my head; I hoped to recover my money; and now, at this hour, I owe more than ten thousand dollars, which I have taken from the safe of the society.

It is a matter of life and death with me; and as you decide, so I may be saved, or disgraced forever. No interest to be paid.” “And that,” stammered Daniel, “that is the man”-- “Whom they charge me with having turned aside from the paths of honesty; yes, sir! I can find no words to convey to you the exaggerated expressions of his gratitude. Elgin, he said, because he was no longer worthy of such honor.

He spoke of nothing but of his devotion unto death. He, a model of honesty, who would have starved to death rather than touch the gold intrusted to his care,--he consoled Malgat, finding all kinds of apology for him, telling him, that, after all, he was not so very much to blame, that there were temptations too strong to be resisted, and repeating even those paradoxical principles which have been specially invented as an apology for thieves. Malgat had still some money of his own; but M. Elgin did not ask him for it, for fear of hurting his feelings. He continued to invite him, and urged him to come and dine with us as heretofore.” She stopped, laughing in a nervous manner, which was painful to hear, and then continued, in a hoarse voice,-- “Do you know, M. The board of directors have begun to suspect me; and the president has just told me that tomorrow the books will be examined. I venture to ask you to furnish me the means of escaping from this country. I beseech you on my knees, in the name of all that is dear to you, for mercy’s sake; for I am penniless, and cannot even pay the fare on the railway as far as the frontier. But she made an effort to overcome her weakness; and, in a more decided tone, she continued,-- “Forty-eight hours passed; and the impression of this horrible scene began to fade from our minds, till it appeared like a bad dream. Even if he should dare to accuse us of some great crime, we thought no one would listen to him, and we should never hear of it.

How could we imagine that the world would set to work doubting our honor upon the mere word of a wretch like him? “His crime had, in the meantime, become known; and all the papers were full of it, adding a number of more or less reliable stories.

Brian suggested, than to address two or three anonymous letters to some of our acquaintances, who he knew did not like us, or envied us. “At all events, in less than a week after his disappearance, it was reported everywhere, that I, Sarah Brandon, had been an accomplice of this defaulter, and, worse than that, that the sums he had stolen might easily be found, if a certain bureau in my bedchamber could be searched. They said that Malgat’s defalcation was after the American style, and that it was perfectly natural he should go to a foreign country, after having been associated with a certain foreign lady.” She had become crimson all over; her bosom rose; and shame, indignation, and resentment alternately appeared on her face, changing finally into an ardent desire of vengeance.

It is true, I had been struck by some strange whisperings, by curious looks and singular smiles, when I passed some of my friends; but I had not noticed them specially. “A paper which had been left at the house one afternoon, when we were out, showed us the true state of things. Elgin swore I should not go, that he would most assuredly find out the authors of this infamous libel, and that, in the meantime, he would challenge and kill every one who dared repeat it. “We were at the end of our endurance, having suffered all the tortures of anxiety, when, at last, near midnight, M. But, when I had shown him the letters which you have just read, his manner suddenly changed, pity got the better of him; and I thought I saw a tear in his eye. I shall be eternally grateful to him for the words he said when I left his office,-- “‘Poor, poor young girl! Would to God that the world could be made to do the same!’” She fixed her eyes, trembling with fear and hope, upon Daniel, and added, in a voice of supplication and touching humility,-- “The world has been more cruel than justice itself but you, sir, will you be harder than the magistrate?” Alas! He turned his head aside, feeling as if, under her obstinate gaze, his mind left him, his energy evaporated, and all the fibres of his strong will were breaking. Do you doubt the authenticity of these letters? Ah, if you do, take them; for I do not hesitate to confide them, the only proofs of my innocence, to your honor.

Take them and show them to the other clerks who have been sitting for twenty years in the same office with Malgat; and they will tell you that it is his handwriting; that he has signed his own condemnation. Then Miss Brandon rose, came gently up to him, and taking his hand, said softly,-- “I beseech you!” But as if suddenly electrified by the touch of this soft, warm hand, Daniel rose so hastily, that he upset the chair; and, trembling with mysterious terror, he cried out,-- “Kergrist!” It was as if a fearful insult had set Miss Brandon on fire.

Her face turned crimson, and then, almost instantly, livid; and, stepping back a little, she darted at Daniel a look of burning hatred. It looked as if she thought of it, for she walked to the door; but, suddenly changing her mind, she came back to where she had stood, facing Daniel. I look upon you as upon Henrietta’s husband; and, since I have commenced, I mean to finish.” Daniel tried to say a few words of apology; but she interrupted him,-- “Well, yes; one night a young man, Charles de Kergrist,--a profligate, a gambler, crowning his scandalous life with the vilest and meanest act,--did come and kill himself under my window. Three days later the brother of that wretched madman, a M. But do you know what came of these explanations? Charles de Kergrist, it appears, killed himself after a supper, which he left in a state of drunkenness.

Finally, at the time when the catastrophe occurred, I was sixty miles away from here, in Tours, staying at the house of one of M. Palmer, who deposed”-- And, as Daniel looked at her with an air of utter bewilderment, she added,-- “Perhaps you will ask me for proofs of what I state.

de Kergrist’s brother; for, after those explanations, he has continued to be our friend, sir, one of our best friends. What else are you going to charge me with?” A judge, however, ought to be calm; and Daniel was but too conscious of his deep excitement; he knew he could not even prevent his features from expressing his utter bewilderment. He gave up all discussion therefore, and simply said,-- “I believe you, Miss Brandon, I believe you.” Miss Brandon’s beautiful eyes lighted up for a moment with joy; and in a tone of voice which sounded like the echo of her heart, she said,-- “Oh, thank you, sir! He saw how weak he had been, and was ashamed of himself. He said sternly, thus proving his anger at himself, and the failure of his judgment,-- “Permit me not to reply to that to-night. Perhaps you wish to consult one of my enemies?” She spoke in a tone of such profound disdain, that Daniel, stung to the quick, forgot the discretion which he had intended to observe, and said,-- “Since you insist upon it, Miss Brandon, I must confess that there is one doubt which you have not removed.” “Which?” Daniel hesitated, regretting the words he had allowed to escape him. The count is sixty-six years old.” She, who had been so daring that nothing seemed to be able to disconcert her, now lowered her head like a timid boarding-school girl who has been caught acting contrary to rules; and a flood of crimson spread over her face, and every part of her figure which was not concealed by her dress. “You are cruel, sir!” she stammered; “the secret into which you pry is one of those which a girl hardly dares to confide to her mother.” He was triumphant, thinking he had caught her at last. For your sake, I will lay aside that veil of proud reserve which conceals the mysteries of a young girl’s heart. This confession seemed to him the height of imprudence.

I can give no precise name to that feeling of sympathy which attracts me towards him. “And,” she continued, “if you must have motives of more ordinary character, I will confess to you that I can no longer endure this life, harassed as I am by vile calumnies. The palace of Count Ville-Handry appears to me an asylum, where I shall bury my disappointments and my sorrows, and where I shall find peace and a position which commands respect. Fifty marriages out of every hundred are made upon less high ground. She rose as she spoke, to her former haughtiness, and inspired herself with the sound of her voice. “During the last two years,” she said, “I have had twenty offers; and among them three or four that would have been acceptable to a duchess. I have refused them, in spite of M. Only yesterday, a man of twenty-five, a Gordon Chalusse, was here at my feet. I have sent him off like the others, preferring my dear count.

They say I am in the most elegant and most polished society in Europe; and yet I have looked in vain for the man whose eye could for a moment even break the peace of my heart. I have seen everywhere only persons of like perfection, whose characters had no more wrinkles than the coat made by the first of tailors, all equally eager and gallant, playing well, talking well, dancing well, riding well.” She shook her head with a movement full of energy; and, beaming with enthusiasm, she exclaimed,-- “Ah!

I had dreamed of better things to come.

What I dreamed of was a man of noble heart, with an inflexible will, capable of attempting what others dared not,--what, I do not know, but something grand, perilous, impossible. I dreamed of one of those ambitious men with a pale brow, a longing look, whose eyes sparkle with genius,--one of those strong men who impose their will upon the multitude, and who remove mountains by the force of their will. to repay the love of such a man, I would have found treasures in my heart, which now remain useless, like all the wealth that is buried at the bottom of the sea. I would have drunk deep from the cup of my hopes; my pulse would have kept time with the fever of his excitement. For his sake, I would have made myself small, humble, useful; I would have watched in his looks for the shadow of a desire. “But how proud I would have been, I, his wife, of his success and of his glories, of the reverence paid him by his admirers, and the hatred of his enemies!” Her voice had vibrations in it that might have stirred up the heart of a stoic. The splendor of her exalted beauty illumined the room. And gradually, one by one, Daniel’s suspicions vanished, or fell to pieces like the ill-jointed pieces of an ancient armor. But Miss Brandon paused, ashamed of her vehemence, and continued more slowly,-- “Now, sir, you know me better than any other person in this world.

You alone have read the innermost heart of Sarah Brandon.

Will you make me repent of my frankness? I know you to be a man of honor and of high principles; I know how, in order to save a name which you revere, you have risked your prospects in life, the girl you love, and an enormous fortune. Yes, Miss Ville-Handry has made no ordinary choice.” She looked as if she were utterly despondent, and added, in a tone of concentrated rage,-- “And I, I know my fate.” Then followed a pause, a terrible pause. Daniel, as he felt the hot breath of this terrible passion, became almost unconscious of the surroundings; his mind was shaken; a mysterious delirium took possession of his senses; the blood rushed to his head; and he felt as if the beating at his temples was ringing in the whole house.

I must become the Countess of Ville-Handry, or I am lost. Then, half drunk with excitement, forgetting every thing, he pressed his lips upon the lips of this strange girl. It was a dark, freezing night; the sky was laden with clouds which hung so low, that they nearly touched the roofs of the houses; and a furious wind was shaking the black branches of the trees in the Champs Elysees, passing through the air like a fine dust of snow. Like one of those dissipated men who awake from the heavy sleep after a debauch, with dry mouth and weary head, he felt as if he had just been aroused from a singular and terrible dream. Like the drunkard, who, when he is sobered, tries to recall the foolish things he may have done under the guidance of King Alcohol, Daniel conjured up one by one all his emotions during the hour which he had just spent by Miss Brandon’s side,--an hour of madness which would weigh heavily upon his future fate, and which alone contained in its sixty minutes more experiences than his whole life so far. He had been warned, put on his guard, made fully aware of all of Miss Brandon’s tricks; they had told him of the weird charm of her eyes; he himself had caught her that very evening in the open act of deceiving others.

And in spite of all this, feeble and helpless as he was, he had let himself be caught by the fascinations of this strange girl. “Fool!” he said to himself, “what have I done?” Unmindful of the blast of the tempest, and of the snow which had begun to fall, he had sat down on the steps of one of the grandest houses in Circus Street, and, with his elbows on his knees, he pressed his brow with his hands, as if hoping that he might thus cause it to suggest to him some plan of salvation. Conjuring up the whole energy of his will, he tried to retrace his interview with Miss Brandon in order to find out by what marvellous transformation it had begun as a terrible combat, and ended as a love-scene. And recalling thus to his memory all she had told him in her soft, sweet voice, he asked himself if she had not really been slandered; and, if there was actually something amiss in her past life, why should it not rather be laid at the door of those two equivocal personages who watched over her, M. but also what lofty nobility! Was she of marble, and susceptible only of delight in foolish vanity? The most refined coquetry never achieved that passionate violence; the most accomplished artist never possessed that marvellous contagion which is the sublime gift of truth alone. And, whatever he could do, his head and heart remained still filled with Miss Brandon; and Daniel trembled as he remembered certain words in which, under almost transparent illusions, the secret of her heart had betrayed itself. And as he thought of it his heart was filled with a sense of eager and unwholesome desires; for he was a man, no better, no worse, than other men; and there are but too many men nowadays, who would value a few hours of happiness with a woman like Miss Brandon more highly than a whole life of chaste love by the side of a pure and noble woman. And, drawn by an invincible power, Daniel had risen to return to the house; and there, half-hid under the shadow of the opposite side, in a deep doorway, he watched anxiously the windows, as if they could have told him any thing of what was going on inside.

These were Daniel’s thoughts when he heard the noise of bolts withdrawn, and doors opened. It was the great entrance-gate of Miss Brandon’s house, which was thrown open by some of the servants. But, at the moment when the coupe turned, the light of the lamp fell full upon the inside, and Daniel thought he recognized, nay, he did recognize, Miss Brandon. But Daniel was agile; and the hope of being able to avenge himself at once gave him unheard-of strength. He was on the point of giving up the pursuit, when he saw a cab coming down towards him from the Madeleine, the driver fast asleep on the box. He threw himself before the horses, and cried out as well as he could,-- “Driver, a hundred francs for you, if you follow that coupe down there!” But the driver, suddenly aroused by a man who stood in the middle of the street, bareheaded, and in evening costume, and who offered him such an enormous sum, thought it was a practical joke attempted by a drunken man, and replied furiously,-- “Look out, rascal! Get out of the way, or I drive over you!” And therewith he whipped his horses; and Daniel would have been driven over, if he had not promptly jumped aside. But all this had taken time; and, when he looked up, the coupe was far off, nearly at the boulevard. He went slowly back to his lodgings, and threw himself into an arm-chair, determined not to go to bed till he had found a way to extricate himself from the effects of his egregious folly. Thus he fell asleep, dreaming even in his sleep that he was hard at work, and just about to discover the means by which he could penetrate the mystery of Miss Brandon.

His first impulse was one of wrath against himself. Had his peaceful and monotonous life in his office during the last two years weakened him to such a point, that all the springs of his system had lost their power? The last evil effects of his excitement last night had passed away; the charm by which he had been fascinated was broken; and he felt once more master of all his faculties. Now his folly appeared to him so utterly inexplicable, that, if he had but tasted a glass of lemonade at Miss Brandon’s house, he should have been inclined to believe that they had given him one of those drugs which set the brains on fire, and produce a kind of delirium. The handwriting was a woman’s, small and delicate, but in no ways like the long, angular hand of an American lady. The letter was indeed from her, and on the top of the page bore her name, Sarah, in small blue Gothic letters.

Miss Brandon had told him that she was imprudence personified; and here she gave him a positive proof of it. And, sitting down at his bureau, he wrote to Miss Brandon,-- “Certainly, Miss Brandon, I remember the promises you extorted from me when I was not master of myself; I remember them but too well.” Suddenly an idea struck him; and he paused. She thinks I am still in the dark; let her believe it.” Still this letter of hers seemed to prepare some new intrigue, which troubled Daniel excessively.

Miss Brandon was certain of achieving her end; what more did she want? He went down, therefore; and, while his carriage drove to his friend’s house, he thought of the surprise he would cause Maxime. But Maxime burst out laughing, and interrupted him, saying with bitter irony,-- “Of course!

And then she went on, telling you that she had never yet loved anybody, having vainly looked in the world for the man of whom she dreamed. He stammered,-- “How did you know?” Maxime could not look him in the face; but his voice was as steady as ever when he replied, in a tone of bitterest sarcasm,-- “I guess it. She has only one card in her hand; but that is enough; it always makes a trick.” To have been deceived, and even to have been rendered ridiculous, is one of those misfortunes which we confess to ourselves, however painful the process may be; but to hear another person laugh at us after such a thing has happened is more than we can readily bear. Daniel, therefore, did not conceal his impatience, and said rather dryly,-- “If I have been the dupe of Miss Brandon, my dear Maxime, you see, at last, that I am so no longer.” “Ah, ah!” “No, not in the least.

And that, thanks to her; for she herself has destroyed my illusions.” “Pshaw!” “Unconsciously, of course, having ran away from her like a fool, I was wandering about in the streets near her house, when I saw her come out in her coupe.” “Oh, come!” “I saw her as distinctly as I see you. “Then, of course, you know where she went.” “Alas, no!

She drove so fast, that, quick as I am, I could not follow her, and lost sight of her.” Certainly M. And yet”-- “Well, yet?” Daniel hesitated, for fear of seeing another sardonic smile appear on Maxime’s lips. Still making an effort, he replied,-- “Well, I am asking myself whether all that Miss Brandon states about her childhood, her family, and her fortune, might not, after all, be true.” Maxime looked like a sensible man who is forced to listen to the absurd nonsense of an insane person. “Perhaps I am; but, then, do me the favor to explain to me how Miss Brandon, anxious as she must be to conceal her past, could herself point out to me the means to ascertain every thing about her, and even to learn the precise amount of her income? America is not so far off!” M. “What!” he cried out, “could you seriously think of undertaking a trip to America?” “Why not?” “To be sure, my dear friend, you are, in all sincerity, too naive for our age. When she saw you, and had taken your measure, she said to herself, ‘Here is an excellent young man who is in my way, excessively in my way; he must go and breathe a better air a few thousand miles off.’ And thereupon she suggested to you that pleasant trip to America.” After what Daniel had learned about Miss Brandon’s character, this explanation sounded by no means improbable. Outside of this marriage, Miss Brandon must be pursuing some other plan.” “What plan?” “Ah! I want no better evidence of it than the fact that she wrote to me this morning.” M.

He replied,--“It is hardly generous in you to make sport of me, Maxime. That is no impediment.” “Finally, you know how dearly, how ardently, I love Miss Ville-Handry.” “Of course; but that is not the same thing.” M. de Brevan had thrown himself into a comfortable chair, and assumed the careful air of a physician who has been consulted. She, on the other hand, will be forced to live under the same roof with Miss Brandon; and you do not know what a stepmother can do to torture the child of her husband!” Daniel trembled. He had already thought of that; and the idea had made him shudder. It was nearly noon; and he had not yet been in the hands of his valet. Who else, ashamed of his scandalous conduct, has run away, never daring to reappear at her house?” What had the count been told? Champcey, what has been the effect of your brutality? They would, of course, never have allowed me to enter her own room; but from the reception-room I could at times hear her painful cries and sobs. Brian, taking pity on my great grief, granted me the favor to see her, sleeping like an infant.” Daniel listened, stupefied by amazement, utterly confounded by the impudence of Sir Thorn and Mrs.

Here I am an accomplice of this Miss Brandon. Must I actually aid her in obtaining possession of this unlucky man?” But what could he do? Should he tell Count Ville- Handry, that if he really heard cries of pain, and sobs, they were certainly not uttered by Miss Brandon? The thought of doing so occurred to Daniel. But what would have been the good of it? Still he tried to excuse himself, and began,-- “I am too much of a gentleman to insult a woman.” The count interrupted him rudely, saying,-- “Spare me, I pray, a rigmarole which cannot affect me.

I know the heart of man too well not to be sure, that, in acting thus, you have followed much less the inspirations of your own heart than the suggestions made by my daughter.” It might have been very dangerous for Henrietta to allow the count to cherish such thoughts. “Yes.” Greeting Daniel with a sweet glance of her eyes, Henrietta walked up to the count, and offered him her forehead to kiss; but he pushed her back rudely, and said, assuming an air of supreme solemnity,-- “I have sent for you, my daughter, to inform you that to-morrow fortnight I shall marry Miss Brandon.” Henrietta must have been prepared for something of the kind, for she did not move. She turned slightly pale; and a ray of wrath shot from her eyes. But I--I owe it to myself and to the sacred memory of my mother, to protest by all the means in my power; and I shall protest.” The count stammered and stared. You are afraid of losing a part of your inheritance.” Stung by this insult, Henrietta had stepped up close to her father,-- “But don’t you see, father, that it is this woman who wants your fortune, and that she does not like us, and cannot like us?” “Why, if you please?” Once before, Count Ville-Handry had asked this question of his daughter in almost the same words. look at yourself!” If Count Ville-Handry had trusted nature, he would have looked like a man of barely sixty, still quite robust and active. And this morning, with his few hairs, half white, half dyed, with the rouge and the white paint of yesterday cracked, and fallen away in places, he looked as if he had lived a few thousand years.

He certainly became livid; and coldly, for his excessive rage gave him the appearance of composure, he said,-- “You are a wretch, Henrietta!” And as she broke out in sobs, terrified by his words, he said,-- “Oh, don’t play comedy! Daniel was the first to shake off the stupor of despair; and, taking Henrietta’s hand, he asked her,-- “You have heard what your father said. And, looking at Daniel with grieved surprise, she added,-- “Would you really dare give me that advice,--you who had only to look at Miss Brandon to lose your self-control so far as to overwhelm her with insults?” “Henrietta, I swear”-- “And this to such an extent, that father accused you of having done so at my bidding. He felt as if he had rendered himself guilty already by not revealing the mean conduct of M.

And now, at this very hour, he was put into a still more difficult position, because he could not even give a glimpse of the true state of things. “You see,” she said, “that if your heart condemns me, your reason and your conscience approve of my decision.” He made no reply, but, rising suddenly, he began to walk up and down in the room like a wild beast searching for some outlet from the cage in which it has been imprisoned. It was so; but she was still struggling against her own emotion, and said in a half-suppressed tone,-- “No doubt, Daniel, you think I am not yet wretched enough.” And then, fixing upon him a long, anxious glance, she added,-- “Say no more, or I shall begin to fear that you are dreading the time which has still to elapse till we can be united, and that you doubt me--or yourself.” He blushed, finding himself thus half detected; but, given up entirely to sinister presentiments, he insisted,-- “No, I do not doubt; but I cannot reconcile myself to the idea that you are going to live under the same roof with Miss Brandon, M. I have in Anjou an old respectable kinswoman, who will be very proud to offer you her hospitality.” Henrietta stopped him by a gesture. Then she said,-- “In other words, I who risk my happiness in order to avoid a blot upon the name of Ville-Handry, I should tarnish it in an almost ineffaceable manner. I stand upon a post of honor which I shall not abandon. de Brevan had told him of the means employed by Miss Brandon for the purpose of getting rid of troublesome people. This morning a gentleman called here, who said he was a business-man, and had an appointment with Count Ville-Handry which was of the utmost importance. When he saw me, and found out who I was, he at once became very quiet, and begged me to take charge of a rough copy of a legal paper, which he had been directed to prepare secretly, and which he desired me to hand to my father.

The statutes of a new society, of which father was to be president.” “Great God! I saw on the top of the paper, ‘Count Ville-Handry, director in chief’ and after the name followed all his titles, the high offices he has filled, and the French and foreign decorations which he has received.” Daniel could no longer doubt. He said,-- “We knew that they would try to obtain possession of your father’s fortune, and now we have the proof of it. But what can we ever do, Henrietta, against the cunning manoeuvres of people like these?” She bowed her head, and answered in a tone of resignation,-- “I have heard it said that often the mere presence of an inoffensive child is sufficient to intimidate and frighten away the boldest criminals. Let us think of the future. I have secured the confidence of one of my waiting-women, and to her you must direct your letters.

If any grave and unforeseen necessity should arise, and it becomes absolutely necessary for me to see you, Clarissa will bring you the key of the little garden-gate, and you will come.” Both of them had their eyes filled with tears; and their hearts felt increasing anguish as the hand on the dial advanced. Stung to the quick by what he called the insulting remarks of his daughter, he had stimulated the zeal of his valet; and that artist had evidently surpassed himself in the arrangement of the hair, and especially in the complexion. Now I can explain to myself that new society of which you are going to be director-general.” Count Ville-Handry turned pale under this “juncture,” and cried in a terrible voice,-- “Unhappy child! have a care!” The count cast upon him a look of concentrated hatred; but, regaining his self-control, he freed himself, and, pointing at the door, he said slowly,-- “M. My servants will be informed, that, if any one of them ever allows you to cross the threshold of this house, he will be instantly dismissed. He had made a mortal enemy of the man whom it was his greatest interest to manage; and this man, who of his own accord would have parted with him only regretfully, had now turned him disgracefully out of his house. He was in this state of mind when there came to him, to his great surprise, a letter from Henrietta. I know I shall stay here a long time.” She concluded thus,-- “What we want most of all, oh, my only friend! In spite of all his efforts, he could not fix his thoughts upon any thing else but his misfortunes.

The balance of his whole life was so completely destroyed, that he was not able to restore it. The existence which he now led was that of a desperate man.

He dined early, hurried home again, and, putting on a rough overcoat which he had worn on board ship, he went to roam around the palace of his beloved. If he had struck the flagstones of the sidewalk with the heel of his boots, she would have heard the sound. He could hear the music of her piano; and yet the will of one man placed an abyss between them. He was dying of inaction. He was suffering thus for six days, and saw no end of it; when one morning, just as he was going out, his bell rang. Although she was wrapped up in a huge cloak which completely hid her figure, in spite of the very thick veil before her face, Daniel recognized her at once.

In the meantime she had raised her veil, “Yes, it is I,” she replied, “risking another calumny in addition to all the others that have been raised against me, Daniel.” Amazed at a step which seemed to him the height of imprudence, he remained standing in the anteroom, and did not even think of inviting Miss Brandon to go into the next room, his study. She went in of her own accord, quite aloof; and, when he had followed her, she said to him,-- “I came, sir, to ask you what you have done with that promise you gave me the other night at my house?” She waited a moment; and, as he did not reply, she went on,-- “Come, I see you are like all men, if they pledge their word to another man, who is a match for them, they consider it a point of honor to keep it, but if it is a woman, then they do not keep it, and boast of it!” Daniel was furious; but she pretended not to see it, and said more coldly,-- “I--I have a better memory than you, sir; and I mean to prove it to you. my dear count is incapable of such violence; and yet his own daughter had dared to taunt him with his weakness, pretending that he had been induced by me to establish a new industrial company.” Daniel said nothing. “And you,” continued Miss Brandon,--“you allowed Miss Henrietta to say all these offensive and absurd things. The world can think of no other motive nowadays. I have enough of it. And you also know that it depended, and perhaps, at this moment, still depends upon one single man, whether I shall break off that match this very day, now.” As she said this, she looked at him in a manner which would have caused a statue to tremble on its marble pedestal. But he, with his heart full of hatred, remained icy, enjoying the revenge which was thus presented to him. “What, you know that?” she said, with an accent of admirable candor. I committed an act of almost as great imprudence as I now do.

Let us break off here, and pray to God that I may be able to forget all the wrong you have done me.” Miss Brandon’s beautiful eyes filled with tears of grief or of rage. If you knew”-- He could not turn her out; he bowed profoundly before her, and withdrew into his bedroom, closing the door behind him. And the idea that he had avoided it made him, for a part of that day at least, forget his sorrow. The other ordered him to report four days hence at Rochefort, on board the frigate “Conquest,” which was lying in the roadstead waiting for two battalions of marines to be transferred to Cochin China. Daniel had for long years, and with all the eager ambition of a young man, desired the promotion which he now obtained.

That rank had been the supreme goal of all his dreams since the day on which he learned at the navy school the rudiments of his perilous vocation. How often, as he stood leaning against the monkey-railing, and saw boats passing by which carried officers, had he said to himself,-- “When I am a navy lieutenant!” Well, now he was a lieutenant. his wishes, thus realized, filled him only with disgust and bitterness, like those golden apples, which, at a distance, shine brightly in the branches of magic trees, and under the touch of the hand turn into dust and ashes. For with the news of his promotion came also the fatal order to a distant shore. Why did they send such an order to him, who had at the department an office in which he could render valuable services, while so many of his comrades, waiting idly in port, watched anxiously, and with almost feverish impatience, for a chance to go into active service?

“Ah!” he said to himself, his heart filled with rage, “how could I fail to recognize in this abominable treachery Miss Brandon’s cunning hand?” First she had closed against him the gates of Count Ville-Handry’s palace, and thus separated him from his beloved Henrietta, so that they could not meet nor speak to each other.

She wanted to raise a barrier between them which should be more than a mere moral and social obstacle, one of those difficulties which no human power, no lover’s ingenuity, could overcome,--the ocean and thousands of miles.

Rather give up my career, rather send in my resignation.” Hence, the very next day, he put on his uniform, determined to lay the matter, first before that officer who was his immediate superior, but resolved, if he should not succeed there, to go up to the minister himself. He had never worn that uniform since the night of a large court-ball, where he had danced with Henrietta. It was nearly a year ago, a few weeks before the death of the Countess Ville-Handry. As he compared his happiness in those days with his present desperate condition, he was deeply moved; and his eyes were still brimful of tears when he reached the navy department, towards ten o’clock in the morning. The officer whom he called upon was an old captain, an excellent man, who had practised the appearance of a grim, stern official so long, that he had finally become in reality what he only wished to appear. Seeing Daniel enter his office, he thought he came to inform him of his promotion, and made a great effort to smile as he hailed him with the words,-- “Well, Lieut.

Champcey, we are satisfied, I hope?” And, perceiving that Daniel did not wear the epaulets of his new rank, he added,-- “But how is that, lieutenant?

Daniel excused himself as well as he could, which was very little, and then boldly approached the purpose of his call. But impossible to grant you ten minutes more.” “I do not ask for leave of absence, captain; I want the favor--to be allowed to keep my place here.” The old officer could hardly keep his seat. “Believe me, captain,” he replied, “I obey the most imperative duty.” Leaning back in his chair, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, the captain seemed to look for such a duty; then he asked suddenly,-- “Is it your family that keeps you?” “If my place can really not be filled by one of my comrades, I shall be compelled to send in my resignation.” The old sailor bounded as he heard that word, and said furiously,-- “I told you you were a fool!” In spite of his determination, Daniel was too much troubled not to commit a blunder. He insisted,-- “It is a matter of life and death with me, captain. I insist upon what I have told you.” “Then, captain, I shall be compelled, to my infinite sorrow, to insist upon offering my resignation.” The old sailor’s brow became darker and darker. You talk of it very lightly. You are still in France; but you are actually under orders to meet the enemy; Men do not resign in the face of the enemy, Lieut. “I have no idea, I assure you, of being gentle; and, if that can induce you to change your mind”-- “Unfortunately, I cannot alter my decision.” The old sailor rose violently, and walked up and down the room several times, giving vent to his anger in oaths of various kinds; then he returned to Daniel, and said in his driest tone,-- “If that is so, the case is serious; I must report it to the secretary of the navy. I shall have settled the matter then.” Quite certain that his superior would say nothing in his favor, Daniel retired, walking hurriedly through the narrow passages, when a joyous voice hailed him, calling out, “Champcey!” He turned, and found himself face to face with two of his comrades, with whom he had been most intimate at school.

They said eagerly,-- “So you are our superior now?” And, with the utmost sincerity, they began to congratulate him, delighted, as they said, that such good luck should have fallen upon a man like him, whom everybody thought worthy of the distinction, and who reflected honor upon the service. There was not one of their good wishes which did not amount to a bitter sarcasm; every word they said told upon him. One day you are made a lieutenant; and the next day they offer you active service. The next time we meet, you will be a captain in command of a frigate.” “I am not going out,” replied Daniel, fiercely. Having left home with the intention of offering his resignation only in an extreme case, he was now determined to adhere to his plan, even if they should offer him full satisfaction. Had he not an ample income of his own? That would be far better than to continue in a profession where one is never his own master, but lives eternally under the dread of some order that may send him, at a moment’s warning, to heaven knows what part of the world. That was the way he reasoned with himself while breakfasting at a tavern not far off; and when he returned to the department, a little after twelve, he looked upon himself as already no longer belonging to the navy, and in his imagination caring little for the final decision.

It was the hour for receptions, when everybody who had any business at the department came to look after his interests; and the anteroom was filled with officers of every grade, some in uniform, others in citizen’s dress. He thought, very much troubled,-- “What can this mean?” In the meantime a young man in citizen’s dress, whom he did not know, called out from one side of the room to the other, to an old officer in a seedy uniform, with blackened epaulets (a real sea-dog), lean, bronzed, wrinkled, and with eyes bearing the traces of recent ophthalmy,-- “Why do you stop, lieutenant?

In the course of a week the whole crew was laid up; and as to the staff, little Bertram and I were the only officers able to appear on deck. The captain was the first to die; the same evening five sailors followed suit, and seven the next day; the day after the first lieutenant and two of the noncommissioned officers. “Who is that officer?” he asked. Dutac of ‘The Valorous,’ just returned from Cochin China.” Light broke upon Daniel’s mind; it was a painful light. “Six days ago she made the harbor of Brest.” The other man went on,-- “And thus, you see, we left a goodly portion of our crew out there. As to my own notions, this is what I think,--a nasty country, a wretched climate, a people fit for the gallows.” “Certainly,” said the young man in citizen’s dress, “things are not pleasant in Cochin China.” “Ah, but still”-- “What if you were ordered back?” “I would go, of course. It was very evident that the officers who were there assembled doubted his courage, and were discussing the fact when he entered. At this idea, that he might be suspected of cowardice, Daniel trembled all over.

Should he challenge every one of these men, and fight one, two, ten duels? Would that prove that he had not shrunk from the unknown perils of a new country, from the dangers of an armed invasion, and a fatal climate? No; unless he was willing to remain a marked man for life, he must go; yes, go, since out there dangers awaited him of which he was held to be afraid. He went up, therefore, to the old lieutenant, and said, in a voice loud enough to be heard by every one in the room,-- “My good comrade, I had just been ordered to the place you come from, and I had sent in my resignation; but after what you have said,--things I knew nothing of,--I shall go.” There was a murmur of approbation. I was sure of it!” and that was all. But, simple as the whole scene was in itself, it was very extraordinary, in view of the usual reserve which prevails among sailors. And, besides, does it not happen almost every day, that an officer ordered to some station requests and obtains leave to exchange with some one else, and nothing is said? Were all these men in citizen’s dress whom he saw there really navy officers? Soon a summons came for him to appear in the superior’s office.

“Secundo,” continued the old officer, “he was doubtful whether you were in your right senses, and I agree with him, since he has told me that you yourself have solicited this appointment on foreign service in the most urgent terms.” Daniel was stunned, and stammered out,-- “His Excellency is mistaken.” “Ah! Champcey; I have myself seen your letter.” But already a sudden inspiration had, like a flash of lightning, cleared up the mystery in Daniel’s mind. Captain, I beseech you show me that letter!” The old officer began almost to think that Champcey was really not in his right mind. He answered,-- “I do not have it; but it is among your papers in the bureau for Personal Affairs.” In a minute Daniel was in the office where those papers were kept, and obtained, not without much trouble, and under certain conditions only, leave to look at his papers. He opened the parcel with feverish haste; and the very first paper that fell in his hands was a letter, dated the day before, in which he urgently requested the minister to grant him the special favor of being sent out with the expedition to Cochin China on board the frigate “Conquest.” Daniel was, of course, perfectly sure that he had written no such letter.

The whole was done so exceedingly well, that if the matter had been one of ordinary importance, and the date of the letter had gone back to a fortnight or so ago, he would certainly have suspected his memory rather than the letter before him. Overcome by the atrocity of such a trick, he exclaimed,-- “It is almost incredible!” It was, however, only too certain, too indisputable, that the letter could not have been dictated by any one but Miss Brandon. No doubt, one of her accomplices, perhaps the great Sir Thorn himself, had written it. now Daniel understood the insolent assurance of Miss Brandon, when she insisted upon his taking poor Malgat’s letters, and repeatedly said, “Go and show them to the clerks who have known that unhappy man for long years, and they will tell you if they are his own.” Most assuredly he would have met with no one bold enough to say the contrary, if Malgat’s handwriting had been copied with the same distressing perfection as his own.

Still he might, perhaps, profit by this strange event; but how? Would they believe him, if he accused her of forgery, of a trick unsurpassed in boldness and wickedness? But he did not wish that false letter, which might become a formidable piece of evidence against him, to remain among his papers; no doubt Miss Brandon would soon find an opportunity of having it withdrawn. Providentially, it seemed to him, Maxime had not gone out, or, rather, having been to breakfast at the English cafe with some of his friends, he had just returned. In ten words Daniel had told him every thing, and even shown him that masterpiece of forgery, which he attributed to Miss Brandon’s mind, and M. Then, without heeding Maxime’s exclamations of wonder and indignation, loud and deep as they were, he continued,-- “Now, my dear Maxime, listen to me. Now I want a reliable, safe, and experienced man, possessed of prudence and energy, and sure not to leave Paris. I say, therefore, simply, you may count upon me.” “And I do count upon you,” exclaimed Daniel,--“yes, blindly and absolutely; and I am going to give you a striking proof of it.” For a few moments it looked as if he were trying to find some brief and yet impressive form for his communication; and then he said, speaking very rapidly,-- “If I leave in despair, it is because I leave Henrietta in the hands of the enemy.

Miss Brandon must be meditating some terrible blow, or she would not have been so anxious to keep me at a distance.” He sobbed almost, so great was his excitement; but he instantly became master again of his emotion, and continued,-- “Well, Maxime, I shall ask you to watch over Henrietta. I shall take leave of her then. I shall tell her to appeal to you as if it were to myself; to write to you as she used to write to me; to keep you informed of all they may attempt to do; to consult and to obey you without hesitation. “As to what you will have to do, Maxime, I cannot tell you that, even in a general way, as I know nothing of Miss Brandon’s plans. In either case, you will take Henrietta to an old lady, a relative of mine, who lives at the Rosiers, a little village in the department of Maine-et-Loire, and whose address I will give you, while I will inform her beforehand of what may happen.” He paused, trying to remember if there was any thing else, and, recalling nothing, he said,-- “This, my dear Maxime, is all I expect you to do for me.” With open brow, a clear eye, and grave face, M.

de Brevan replied in a solemn tone of voice, speaking like a man who feels that he deserves such confidence,-- “Friend Daniel, you may sail without fear.” But Daniel had not done yet. de Brevan, “in comparison with a number of my friends, with men like Gordon Chalusse, for instance, I am only a poor devil.” Daniel did not notice the bitterness of this reply. “Now,” he said, “suppose, at a given moment, Miss Henrietta’s safety should make a certain sum of money necessary,--perhaps a very large sum,--are you sure you will always have enough in your drawer, and be able to dispose of it without inconvenience?” “Ah! you expect too much of me; but I have friends.” “And you would ask them! you would expose yourself to the humiliation of hearing those set excuses which serve to conceal refusals! The garden and the orchard are the first little bits of land my father bought from his earnings as ploughboy. He cultivated them in his leisure hours, and there is literally not a foot of soil which he has not moistened with the sweat of his brow. I will leave you a power-of-attorney. “Excuse me,” he said, “excuse me.” “What?” “Well, it seems to me it would be more suitable to leave some one else in charge of that.” “Whom?” “Oh!

A nervous shiver, which he could hardly conceal, ran down his backbone; drops of perspiration broke out on his temples; and he turned deadly pale. He took an interest in the affairs of his clients, and sometimes even listened to hear their explanations. de Brevan a power-of-attorney in proper form.” “Would it be possible,” asked Daniel, “to have it drawn up at once?” “Why not? It can be recorded this evening; and to-morrow”-- “Well, then, lose no time.” The notary called his chief clerk, gave him briefly his instructions, then, making a sign to Daniel, he drew him into a kind of recess resembling an enormous cupboard, adjoining his office, in which he “confessed” his clients, as he called it. There are particular circumstances in this case which I cannot explain to you in so short a time.” The notary raised his eyes to the ceiling, and said in a tone of great pity,-- “At least, let me make him give you a deed of defeasance.” “Very well, sir.” This was done, but in such carefully guarded terms, that even the most exquisite susceptibility on the part of Maxime could not have been hurt. It was five o’clock, when the power-of-attorney and the deed were signed, and the two friends left the worthy notary’s office. de Brevan, he went all over Paris in search of the thousand little things which are necessary for such a long and perilous voyage. The next morning he breakfasted in his rooms, for fear of being out of the house when they should bring him the key. It was brought by a large girl, nearly thirty years old, with a cross expression of face, and eyes more than modestly seeking the ground, and with narrow lips which seemed to be perpetually engaged in reciting prayers. This was Clarissa, whom Henrietta considered the safest of her waiting-women, and whom she had taken into her confidence.

the poor girl had no idea of the terrible news that was in store for her. “Request Miss Henrietta,” said Daniel to the maid, “to expect me at seven o’clock.” Sure now of seeing Henrietta, Daniel slipped the key in his pocket, and hurried away. de Brevan’s little sitting-room, he was handing over his deeds and papers to his faithful confidant, explaining to him how he might make the most of the different parcels of land which he owned; how certain woods might be sold together; how, on the other hand, a large farm, now held by one tenant, might be advantageously divided into small lots, and sold at auction. Daniel was deeply touched by the devotion of his friend, whose intense selfishness he had noticed but too often. Capable of the greatest sacrifices where Daniel’s interests were at stake, M. He proposed to overcome his aversion to Miss Brandon, and to seek, immediately after her marriage, an introduction at Count Ville-Handry’s palace, for the purpose of going there constantly. “Dear Maxime,” repeated Daniel, “dear, excellent friend, how can I ever thank you for all you are doing for me!” As the day before, they dined together at one of the restaurants on the boulevard; and after dinner M.

As they reached it long before the appointed hour, they walked up and down on the sidewalk which runs along the wall of the immense park belonging to the palace. And, pressing his hand once more cordially, he walked off rapidly in the direction of the Invalides.

He had counted sixty by the beating of his pulse ever so many times, and was beginning to be very anxious, when at last he heard some dry branches crackling under rapid footsteps. I am a child, full of daring as long as it rests on its mother’s knee, but helpless as soon as it feels that it is left to itself; I am only a woman, Daniel; I am weak.” The unhappy man felt his strength leaving him; he could no longer bear the restraint which he had imposed upon himself.

“You insist upon sending me off in utter despair?” he asked her. I will ask him to present me to her; I will humble myself before her.” “That is impossible, Henrietta.” She bent towards him, joining her hands; and in a suppliant voice she repeated,-- “Stay, I beseech you, in the name of our happiness! “If I were weak enough to give way now, Henrietta,” he said, “you would despise me before the month is over; and I, desperate at having to drag out a life of disgrace, would blow out my brains with a curse on you.” With her arms hanging listlessly by her side, her hands crossed behind her, Miss Ville-Handry stood there motionless, like a statue. Then he said in a gentle voice,-- “I am going, Henrietta; but I leave you a friend of mine,--a true and noble friend, who will watch over you. You have heard me speak of him often,--Maxime de Brevan. I should leave more cheerfully if you would promise me to trust this faithful friend, to listen to his advice, and to follow his directions.” “I promise you, Daniel, I will obey him.” But a rustling of the dry leaves interrupted them.

Is this the virtuous young lady who dares to insult Miss Sarah?” As soon as Daniel had locked the door again, he listened for a moment, hoping that he might hear something of importance. He would have to sail without seeing Henrietta again, without enjoying that bitter happiness of holding her once more in his arms.

And yet he had told her nothing of all he had to tell her; he had not spoken to her of half his recommendations, nor given her a thousandth part of his tender farewells. How came it about that the count had stayed at home, instead of hurrying off immediately after dinner, as was his custom? he recognized but too clearly the execrable but most cunning policy of Miss Brandon. Brian is at the theatre; but Miss Brandon is at home.” Daniel’s wrath changed into a kind of cold fury. Dressed in a long dressing-wrapper of pale-blue cashmere, her hair scarcely taken up at all, she was reading, reclining on a sofa. As the door opened, she raised herself carelessly a little, and, without turning around, asked,-- “Who is that?” But, when the servant announced the name of M. “Here, and of your own accord?” Firmly resolved this time to remain master of his sensations, Daniel had stopped in the middle of the room, as stiff as a statue. I have held that masterpiece of forgery in my hand and know now how you free yourself of my presence!” Miss Brandon interrupted him with an angry gesture,-- “Then it is really so!

Champcey, you drove me from you.” He looked upon her with such an ironical smile that she broke off, and cried,-- “Ah, he does not believe me! Tell me that you do not believe me!” He bowed ceremoniously, and replied in his gravest manner,-- “I believe, Miss Brandon, that you desire to become Countess Ville- Handry; and you clear everything out of your path that can hinder you in your plans.” She was about to answer; but he did not give her time, and continued,-- “Mark, I pray, that I make no charges. And, that there may be no misunderstanding, I will mention the precise terms: if you will swear to be kind to Henrietta during my absence, to protect her against violence on the part of her father, and never to force her to act contrary to her sentiments for me, I will give you, in return, my word that I shall give up to you, without dispute and without reserve, the whole immense fortune possessed by Count Ville-Handry.” Succumbing to her grief, Miss Brandon seemed to be almost fainting; and big tears rolled down her cheeks.

If you knew the truth, however, Daniel--if I could, if I dared, tell you all!” She drew nearer to him, all trembling; and then continued in a still lower tone of voice, as if she feared to be overheard,-- “Do you not understand yet that I am no longer my own? I have no longer the right to have a will of my own. “Will you promise me to protect Henrietta?” “Do you really love her so dearly, your Henrietta?” “Better than life!” Miss Brandon turned as white as the lace on her dress; a flash of indignation shot through her eyes; and, drying her tears, she said curtly,-- “Oh!” Then Daniel replied,-- “You will give me no answer, madam?” And, as she persisted in her silence, he resumed,-- “Very well, then, I understand. And now, madam, farewell--or, rather, till we meet again!” At eight o’clock on the evening of the next day, after having left in M. Some thirty carriages, the most elegant, by all means, that Paris could boast of, were standing alongside of the Church of St.

They have been in the church now for some time, and they will soon come out again.” Under the porch a dozen men, in the orthodox black costume, with yellow kid gloves, and white cravats showing under their overcoats, evidently men belonging to the wedding-party, were chatting merrily while they were waiting for the end of the ceremony. He stepped leisurely out of his carriage, and came up in his usual phlegmatic manner. He knew the majority, perhaps, of the young men in the crowd; and so he commenced at once shaking hands all around, and then said in an easy tone of voice,-- “Who has seen the bride?” “I!” replied an old beau, whose perpetual smile displayed all the thirty-two teeth he owed to the dentist. “Well, what do you think of her?” “She is always sublime in her beauty, my dear. When she walked up the aisle to kneel down at the altar, a murmur of admiration followed her all the way. Upon my word of honor, I thought they would applaud.” This was too much enthusiasm.

de Brevan cut it short, asking,-- “And Count Ville-Handry?” “Upon my word,” replied the old beau ironically, “the good count can boast of a valet who knows almost as much as Rachel, the famous English enameller. Everybody laughed; but a very young man, a mere youth, who did not catch the joke, said,-- “Why so?” A man of about thirty years, a perfect model of elegance, whom the others called, according to the degree of intimacy which they could claim, either “Your Grace,” or “Duke” simply replied,-- “Because, my dear viscount, Miss Brandon is one of those ladies who never are married. But to bear our name, never!” “It is true,” said Brevan, “that they tell a number of stories about her; but it is all gossip. Except, perhaps, a score of houses, where old traditions are still preserved, all other houses are wide open to the first-comer, man or woman, who drives up in a carriage. And the number of such first-comers is prodigiously large. So that I verily believe all this high-life society, by dint of helping one another, of pushing and crowding in, will, in the end, be master of all. I willingly shake hands with the workmen who work for me, and who earn their living worthily; but I do not shake hands with these ambiguous personages in yellow kids, who have no title but their impudence, and no means of living but their underhand intrigues.” He addressed himself apparently to no one, following, with his absent- minded glance, the crowd in the garden; and yet, by his peculiar manner, you would have known that he was speaking at some one among the listeners. However, it was evident that he had no success, and that his doctrine seemed to be utterly out of season, and almost ridiculous. “That is the Duke of Champdoce, you know, who has married a princess of Mussidan.

de Brevan, however, had remained perfectly impassive, and now said,-- “At all events, I suppose it was not altogether a question of interest which made Miss Brandon marry the count.” “Why not?” “Because she is immensely rich.” “Pshaw!” An old gentleman came up, and said,-- “She must needs be perfectly disinterested; for I have it from the count himself that none of the property is to be settled upon Miss Brandon.” “That certainly is marvellously disinterested.” Having said what he meant to say, the duke had entered the church; and the old beau now took the word. Besides, I have looked for her all over the church, and she is not there.” “She is not present at the wedding,” replied the old gentleman, the friend of Count Ville-Handry, “because she was suddenly taken ill.” “So they say,” interposed the young man; “but the fact is, that a friend of mine has just seen her driving out in her carriage in full dress.” “That can hardly be so.” “My friend was positive. She intended this pretty piece of scandal as a wedding-present for her stepmother.” M.

de Brevan shrugged his shoulders, and said in an undertone,-- “Upon my word, I should not like to stand in the count’s shoes.” As a faithful echo of the gossip that was going on in society, this conversation, carried on in broken sentences, under the porch of St. Clothilda, made it quite clear that public opinion was decidedly in favor of Miss Brandon. She triumphed; and the world is always on the side of the victor. That Duke of Champdoce, an original, was the only one there who was disposed to remember the past; the others had forgotten it. The brilliancy of her success was even reflected on those who belonged to her; and a young man who copied to exaggeration English fashions was just singing the praises of M. The parish register had been placed upon a small table; and every one approached, as his turn came, taking off his gloves before seizing the pen. Fronting the door, and leaning against one of the cupboards in which the holy vessels are kept, stood Miss Brandon, now Countess Ville-Handry, having at her side grim Mrs. In her white bridal costume she looked amazingly beautiful; and her whole person exhaled a perfume of innocence and ingenuous purity.

Count Ville-Handry stood in the centre of the room, swelling with almost comic happiness; and at every moment, in replying to his friends, used the words, “My wife,” like a sweet morsel which he rolled on his tongue. Still a careful observer might have noticed underneath his victorious airs a trace of almost painful restraint. From time to time his face darkened as one of those unlucky, awkward people, who turn up everywhere, asked him,-- “I hope Miss Henrietta is not complaining much? They had suspected something from the beginning of the ceremony.

The guests who were nearest had seen him turn pale, and utter an expression of furious rage. He had invited some twenty people, former friends of his, to a great wedding- breakfast; but he seemed to have forgotten them.

send Ernest here!” Ernest was his own valet, the clever artist to whom he was indebted for the roses of his complexion. I have a good many visits to make; and, as the weather is fine, I shall afterwards go to the Bois de Boulogne.’ Thereupon the gates were opened, and off they went.

The veins in his neck began to swell; and his eyes became bloodshot, as if he had been threatened with a fit of apoplexy. The young countess at once came up to him and said,-- “I beseech you, my dear friend, be calm!” “No, this must end; and I mean to punish the wicked girl.” “I beseech you, my dear count, do not destroy the happiness of the first day of our married life. Brian was not of the same opinion. The conduct of this young lady is perfectly shocking.” Then Sir Thorn interrupted her, saying,-- “Ah, ah! Brian advised discipline; and Sir Thorn was in favor of silent impartiality. It was growing dark, and they were bringing in the lamps, when the rolling of carriage-wheels was heard on the sand in the court-yard. Forced to abandon their nature, they do not reason, and do not calculate, and, losing all self-possession, rush blindly into danger, impelled by a kind of madness resembling that of sheep when they knock their heads against the walls of their stable. For Count Ville-Handry, acting under a kind of overexcitement, had that day lost all self-control, and forgot himself so far as to treat his daughter as no gentleman would have treated his child while in his senses, and that in the presence of his servants! She had declared that she would not be present at the reading of the marriage-contract, nor at the ceremonies of the civil marriage, nor at church; and her father had tried to make her change her intentions.

If the count had at least used a little discretion, if he had tried the powers of persuasion, or sought to touch his daughter’s heart by speaking to her of herself, of her future, of her happiness, of her peace! He never came to her room without a new insult, thinking of nothing, as he acknowledged himself, but of sparing Miss Brandon’s feelings, and of saving her all annoyance. Without telling her any thing of it, he had ordered her dressmaker to send her several magnificent dresses; and they were lying about now, spread out upon chairs.

“Dress yourself,” he said in a tone of command, “and come down!” She, the victim of that kind of nervous exaltation which makes martyrdom appear preferable to yielding, replied obstinately,-- “No, I shall not come down.” She did not care for any subterfuge or excuse; she did not even pretend to be unwell; she said resolutely-- “I will not!” And he, finding himself unable to overcome this resistance, maddened and enraged, broke out in blasphemies and insane threats. Nevertheless, it was but too true, that, in consequence of these last insults, she had come to the determination to make her protest as public as she could by showing herself to all Paris while her father was married at St.

Putting on a very showy costume, so as to attract as much attention as possible, she had spent the day in driving about to all the places where she thought she would meet most of her acquaintances. Night alone had compelled her to return, and she felt broken to pieces, exhausted, upset by unspeakable anguish of soul, but upheld by the absurd idea that she had done her duty and shown herself worthy of Daniel. She had just alighted, and was about to pay the coachman, when the count’s valet came up, and said to her in an almost disrespectful tone of voice,-- “My master has ordered me to tell you to come to him as soon as you should come home.” “Where is my father?” “In the large reception-room.” “Alone?” “No. I am coming.” Gathering all her courage, and looking whiter and colder than the marble of the statues in the vestibule, she went to the reception-room, opened the door, and entered stiffly. “Here you are!” exclaimed Count Ville-Handry, restored to a certain degree of calmness by the very excess of his wrath,--“here you are!” “Yes, father.” “Where have you been?” She had at a glance taken in the whole room; and at the sight of the new countess, and those whom she called her accomplices, all her resentment arose.

In the morning I went out to make some purchases; later, knowing that the Duchess of Champdoce is a little unwell, and does not go out, I went to lunch with her; after that, as the weather was so fine”-- Count Ville-Handry could endure it no longer. on your knees, and ask the best and noblest of women to pardon you for all these insults!” “You hurt me terribly, father,” said the young girl coldly. “For Heaven’s sake, madam,” she said, “spare your father!” And, as Henrietta measured her from head to foot with an insulting glance, she went on,-- “Dear count, don’t you see that your violence is killing me?” Promptly Count Ville-Handry let his daughter go, and, drawing back, he said,-- “Thank her, thank this angel of goodness who intercedes in your behalf!

There are such things as houses of correction for rebellious children and perverse daughters.” She interrupted him by a gesture, and exclaimed with startling energy,-- “Be it so, father!

Whatever I may have to suffer there, it will be better than being here, as long as I see in the place of my mother that--woman!” “Wretch!” howled the count. By a violent effort he tore off his cravat; and, conscious that he was no longer master of himself, he cried to his daughter,-- “Leave me, leave me!

Then, casting upon the countess one more look full of defiance, she slowly went out of the room. But she had not yet gone half-way up the stairs which led to her own rooms, when she was held at the place by the sound of all the bells of the house, which had been set in motion by a furious hand. The servants were rushing about; the vestibule resounded with hurried steps; and she distinguished the imperious voice of M. But, when she was alone once more, the poor girl failed not to recognize the utter futility of her fancied triumph. However unwell the countess might be to-night,--and perhaps she was not really unwell,--she would certainly be well again in the morning; and then what would be the advantage of the scandal she had attempted in order to ruin her?

Who could write to her, and in this way, unless it was Maxime de Brevan, to whom Daniel had begged her to intrust herself, and who, so far, had given no sign of life of himself? de Brevan who wrote thus,-- “Madam,--Like all Paris, I also have heard of your proud and noble protest on the day of your father’s unfortunate marriage. And my dear Daniel, if he were here, would approve and admire your courage, as I do myself.” She drew a full breath, as if her heart had been relieved of a heavy burden. This was enough to stifle henceforth the voice of reason, and to make her disregard every idea of prudence. The whole letter of M. Farther on he wrote,-- “At the moment of taking the train, Daniel handed me a letter, in which he expresses his innermost thoughts. With a sagacity worthy of such a heart, he foresees and solves in advance all the difficulties by which your step-mother will no doubt embarrass you hereafter. This letter is too precious to be intrusted to the mail, I shall, therefore, get myself introduced at your father’s house before the end of the week, and I shall have the honor to put that letter into your own hands.” And again,-- “I shall have an opportunity, tomorrow, to send Daniel news from here. Thomas Elgin.” This last recommendation caused Henrietta particular trouble, and made her feel all kinds of vague and terrible apprehensions.

Here was an opportunity to send Daniel news promptly and safely, and she was running the risk, by her delays, of losing the chance? When Henrietta took her meals up stairs, which of late had happened quite often, she ate in the sitting-room. She had gone in there, and was clearing the table of the albums and little trifles which were lying about, so as to hasten matters, when the maid reappeared with empty hands. “Ah, miss!” “Well?” “The count has given orders not to take any thing up stairs.” “That cannot be.” But a mocking voice from without interrupted her, saying,-- “It is so!” And immediately Count Ville-Handry appeared, already dressed, curled, and painted, bearing the appearance of a man who is about to enjoy his revenge. The time of weakness is past, and so is the time of passion; therefore, you will come down. I have in vain appealed to your heart; you see I am forced to appeal to your stomach.” Whatever efforts Henrietta might make to remain impassive, the tears would come into her eyes,--tears of shame and humiliation. Could this idea of starving her into obedience have originated with her father? No, he would never have thought of it! It was evidently a woman’s thought, and the result of bitter, savage hate. Still the poor girl felt that she was caught; and her heart revolted at the ignominy of the means, and the certainty that she would be forced to yield.

Her cruel imagination painted to her at once the exultation of the new countess, when she, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry, would appear in the dining-room, brought there by want, by hunger. And from your convent you would at once write to everybody and everywhere, that my wife had turned you out of the house; that you had been obliged to escape from threats and bad treatment; you would repeat all the well-known elegies of the innocent young girl who is persecuted by a wicked stepmother. “Consult your stomach; and, according to what it tells you, come down, or stay here.” He went out, manifestly quite proud at having performed what he called an act of paternal authority, without vouchsafing a glance at his daughter, who had sunk back upon a chair; for she felt overcome, the poor child! by all the agony of her pride. She sat down, and, while eating, watched stealthily, and with all her powers of observation, these strangers who were henceforth the masters of her destiny, and whom she now saw for the first time; for yesterday she had hardly perceived them. She was at once struck, painfully struck, with the dazzling, marvellous beauty of Countess Sarah, although she had been shown her photograph by her father, and ought thus to have been prepared. She exhibited all the touching confusion of a young bride, and was constantly more or less embarrassed. Henrietta rose, and having bowed, without saying a word, was going back to her room when she met on the stairs some of the servants, who were carrying a heavy wardrobe. Three servants were hard at work taking down her furniture, under the direction of M.

“What are you doing there?” she asked, and “Who has permitted you?” “We are only obeying the orders of the count, your father,” replied M. Take out that sofa; now!” Overcome with surprise, Henrietta remained petrified where she was, looking at the servants as they went on with their work.

These eager adventurers had taken possession of the palace, they invaded it, they reigned here absolutely, and that was not enough for them! They meant to take from her even the rooms she had occupied, she, the daughter of their dupe, the only heiress of Count Ville-Handry! Brian, who had not space enough for”-- The young countess made a gesture of displeasure. “I cannot understand,” she said, “how Aunt Brian can accept that.” “I beg your pardon,” exclaimed the admirable lady, “this is done entirely without my consent.” But the count interposed, saying,-- “Sarah, my darling, permit me to be sole judge in all the arrangements that concern my daughter.” Count Ville-Handry’s accent was so firm as he said this, that one would have sworn the idea of dislodging Henrietta had sprung from his own brains. In this case I act from motives of the most ordinary propriety. If one of the two has to submit to some slight inconvenience, it is certainly my daughter.” All of a sudden M. Unfortunately the rest of the phrase was lost in an indistinct murmur. And resolved not to interfere in the count’s family affairs, and, on the other hand, indignant at what he considered an odious abuse of power, he left the room abruptly.

But Count Ville-Handry continued, after a moment’s surprise, saying,-- “Therefore, my daughter will hereafter live in the rooms formerly occupied by the companion of my--I mean of her mother. Besides, they have this advantage, that they can be easily overlooked from one of our own rooms, my dear Sarah; and that is important when we have to deal with an imprudent girl, who has so sadly abused the liberty which she enjoyed, thanks to my blind confidence.” What should she say? But here, in the presence of these two women, with the mocking eye of Countess Sarah upon her, it was impossible! she would have died a thousand times over rather than to give these miserable adventurers the joy and the satisfaction of a new humiliation.

And by a kind of miracle of energy, she went out of the room calmly, her head on high; without having shed a tear. To give up those little rooms in which she had spent so many happy hours, where every thing recalled to her sweet memories, certainly that was no small grief: it was nothing however, in comparison with that frightful perspective of having to live under the wary eye of Countess Sarah, under lock and key. Her intolerable sufferings would not extort a sigh from her that the countess did not hear on the other side of the partition, and delight in. She rang the bell, therefore, for Clarissa, her confidante, for the purpose of sending it to the Rue Laffitte. But, instead of Clarissa, one of the housemaids appeared, and said,-- “Your own maid is not in the house. She was not allowed to eat in her rooms; she was turned out of her own rooms; and the maid, long attached to her service, was taken from her. And here she was forced to submit to such humiliations without a chance of rebelling. The concierge, a large man, very proud of his richly laced livery, was sitting before the little pavilion in which he lived, smoking, and reading his paper. But the man, without taking his pipe out of his mouth, without even getting up from his seat, answered in a surly tone,-- “The count has sent me orders never to let you go out without a verbal or written permission; so that”-- “Impudence!” exclaimed Henrietta. And resolutely she went up to the ponderous gates of the court-yard, stretching out her hand to pull the bolt.

Father, are you aware of what you are saying?” And, as the suppressed laughter of the servants reached her, she added with--almost convulsive vehemence,-- “At least, say who the man was with whom I was in the garden, so that all, all may hear his name. Daniel Champcey,--he whom my sainted mother had chosen for me among all,--he whom for long years you have daily received at your house, to whom you have solemnly promised my hand, who was my betrothed, and who would now be my husband, if we had chosen to approve of your unfortunate marriage. Daniel Champcey, whom you had sent off the day before, and whom a crime, a forgery committed by your Sarah, forced to go to sea; for he had to be put out of the way at any hazard. She looked at him; a big tear was slowly rolling down the cheek of the impassive gentleman. Then, when he had led her as far as the staircase, and she had laid hold of the balusters, he said,-- “Poor girl!” And went away with rapid steps. Her resolve was giving way under all these terrible blows; and seized with a kind of vertigo, out of breath, and almost beside herself, she had rushed up the steps, feeling as if she still heard the abominable accusations of her father, and the laughter of the servants. “O God,” she sobbed, “have pity on me!” She felt in her heart that she had no hope left now but God, delivered up as she was to pitiless adversaries, sacrificed to the implacable hatred of a stepmother, abandoned by all, and betrayed and openly renounced by her own father. Hour by hour she had seen how, by an incomprehensible combination of fatal circumstances, the infernal circle narrowed down, within which she was wretchedly struggling, and which soon would crush her effectually.

What did they want of her? Unfortunately, she did not examine this question carefully, too inexperienced as she was to suspect the subtle cunning of people whose wickedness would have astonished a criminal judge. de Brevan, in his first moment of expansion,-- “Miss Brandon leaves the dagger and the poisoned cup to fools, as too coarse and too dangerous means to get rid of people. She shall never know how much I suffer!” Ringing, then, for Clarissa, who had come back, she said,-- “Come, quick, dress me!” And in less than five minutes she had arranged her beautiful hair, and put on one of her most becoming dresses. While changing her dress, she noticed the rustling of paper. Her beauty, ordinarily a little impaired, shone forth once more in amazing splendor, so as to eclipse almost that of the countess. Even Count Ville-Handry was struck by it, and exclaimed, glancing at his young wife,-- “Oh, oh!” Otherwise, this was the only notice which was taken of Henrietta. Elgin, whose eye softened whenever he looked at her. Affecting a composure which she was far from possessing, she made an effort to eat, when a servant entered, and very respectfully whispered a few words in the ear of the countess. “What was it?” asked Count Ville-Handry, with an accent of tenderest interest, when his young wife reappeared.

“Nothing, my dear,” she replied, as she took her seat again,--“nothing, some orders to give.” Still Henrietta thought she noticed under this apparent indifference of her step-mother an expression of cruel satisfaction. “These wretches,” she thought, “have prepared another insult for me.” This suspicion took so powerfully hold of her, that when dinner was over, instead of returning to her rooms, she followed her father and his new “friends” into the sitting-room.

Count Ville-Handry spoke of Mrs. The count and his young wife had probably let it be known that they would be at home that evening; and soon a number of visitors came in, some of them old friends of the family, but the great majority intimates from Circus Street. It required a brutal scene to open her mind to the truth, and to bring her thoughts back to the horrible reality of her situation. They were apparently friends of the young countess, for she did not know them, and one of them had a strong foreign accent. “Why did you not bring your daughter?” asked one of them. Don’t you know what kind of a woman the count’s daughter is? On the day of her father’s marriage she ran away with somebody, by the aid of a servant, who has since been dismissed; and they had to get the police to help them bring her back. If it had not been for our dear Sarah, who is goodness itself, they would have sent her to a house of correction.” A stifled cry interrupted them. Elgin had been ahead of them all, and had rushed up with such surprising promptness at the very moment when the accident happened, that it almost looked as if he had had a presentiment, and was watching for the precise time when his assistance would be needed. Raising Henrietta with a powerful arm, he laid her on a sofa, not forgetting to slip a cushion under her head.

Immediately the countess and the other ladies crowded around the fainting girl, rubbing the palms of her hands, moistening her temples with aromatic vinegar and cologne, and holding bottles of salts persistently to her nostrils. It is nothing.” The mad passion of senile love had not yet entirely extinguished in him the instincts of a father; and anxiety rekindled the affection he had formerly felt for his child. “I shall have her carried to her room.” And he was stretching out his hand to pull the bell, when Sir Thorn stopped him, saying in a voice of deep emotion,-- “Never mind, count. He could, of course, not remain in Henrietta’s room; but it looked as if he could not tear himself away. For some time the servants, quite amazed, saw him walk up and down the passage with feverish steps, and, in spite of his usual impassiveness, giving all the signs of extraordinary excitement. Every ten minutes he paused in his walk to ask at the door, with a voice full of anxiety,-- “Well?” “She is still in the same condition,” was the answer.

They had exhausted all the usual remedies for such cases, and began, evidently, to be not a little surprised at the persistency of the symptoms. Nor could Count Ville-Handry suppress his growing anxiety as he saw them consulting in the recess of one of the windows, discussing more energetic means to be employed. At last, toward midnight, Sir Thorn saw the young countess come out of Henrietta’s room.

At last, when, all of a sudden, the horrid reality broke upon her mind, she threw herself back, and cried out,-- “O God!” But she was saved; and the doctors soon withdrew, declaring that there was nothing to apprehend now, provided their prescriptions were carefully observed. She said it in a tone of bitter irony now; but afterwards, when she was alone, and more quiet, reflecting in the silence of the night, she had to acknowledge, and confess to herself, that it was so. Still, the next morning she was a little better; and, in spite of all that Clarissa could say, she would get up, and go down stairs, for all her hopes henceforth depended on that letter written by Daniel. Attributing his tardiness to some new misfortune, she thought of writing to him, when at last, on Tuesday,--the day which the countess had chosen for her reception-day,--but not until the room was already quite full of company, the servant announced,--“M. de Brevan!” Seized with most violent emotions, Henrietta turned round suddenly, casting upon the door one of those glances in which a whole soul is read at once. Two men entered: one, quite old, had gray hair, and looked as grave and solemn as a member of parliament; the other, who might be thirty or thirty-five years old, looked cold and haughty, having thin lips and a sardonic smile. But she never thought for a moment of distrusting M.

She had been too severely punished when she tried to follow her own inspirations, ever to think of repeating the experiment. He went from one group to another, throwing a word to each one, gaining thus, insensibly, and without affectation, a small chair, which was vacant, by the side of Henrietta. And the air of perfect indifference with which he took possession of it would have made you think he had fully measured the danger of risking a confidential talk with a young lady under the eyes of fifty or sixty persons. He commenced with some of those set phrases which furnish the currency of society, speaking loud enough to be heard by the neighbors, and to satisfy their curiosity, if they should have a fancy for listening. Remember that we must not know each other; that we are perfect strangers to each other.” Then he began in a very loud voice to sing the praise of the last new play that had been performed, until finally, thinking that he had put all suspicions asleep, he drew a little nearer, and, casting down his eyes, he said,-- “It is useless to tell you, madam, that I am M. “I have taken the liberty of writing to you, madam, under cover to your maid Clarissa, according to Daniel’s orders; but I hope you will pardon me.” “I have nothing to pardon, sir, but to thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart, for your generous devotion.” No man is perfect. A passing blush colored the cheeks of M. “You must have thought,” continued Henrietta, “that I was not in great haste to avail myself of your kind offer; but--there were difficulties--in my way”-- “Oh, yes!

They will gain a fortnight in this way; for the mail for Cochin China does not leave more than once a month,--on the 26th.” But he paused suddenly, or rather raised his voice to resume his account of the new drama. Then, when she felt the crisp paper under the folds of the linen, she became all crimson in her face. de Brevan had the presence of mind to rise suddenly, and to move his chair so as to help her in concealing her embarrassment. Then, when he saw her calm again, he sat down once more, and went on, with an accent of deep interest,-- “Now, madam, permit me to inquire after your position here.” “It is terrible.” “Do they harass you?” “Oh, fearfully!” “No doubt, your step-mother?” “Alas! And my poor father becomes a willing instrument in her hands,--my poor father, formerly so kind, and so fond of me!” She was deeply moved; and M. Elgin might very well cherish a hope of replacing Daniel in your heart, and of becoming your husband.” “Great God!” exclaimed Henrietta, sinking back in her chair with an expression of horror. “Is it possible?” “I am quite sure of it,” replied M. I have read the heart of that man; and before long you will have some terrible evidence of his intentions.

I would say to you, if you will excuse the triviality of the comparison, imitate those feeble insects who simulate death when they are touched. They are defenceless; and that is their only chance of escape.” He had risen; and, while bowing deeply before Henrietta, he added,-- “I must also warn you, madam, not to be surprised if you see me doing every thing in my power for the purpose of winning the good-will of your step-mother. But I have no other way to obtain the privilege of coming here frequently, of seeing you, and of being useful to you, as I have promised your friend Daniel.” XV.

Her mind was, in fact, thousands of miles away. She thought only of that letter which she had in her pocket, and which was burning her fingers, so to say. She could think of nothing else. The fact is, that in his terrible distress, Daniel no longer was sufficiently master of himself to look calmly at the future, and to weigh the probabilities. In his despair he had filled three pages with assurances of his love, with promises that his last thoughts would be for her, and with prayers that she would not forget him. Do not leave your father’s house unless in the last extremity, in case of pressing danger, and under no circumstances without first consulting Maxime.

And to fill up the measure, from excessive delicacy, and fearing to wound his friend’s oversensitive feelings, Daniel had omitted to inform Henrietta of certain most important circumstances. Thus he only told her, that, if flight became her only means of escape from actual danger, she need not hesitate from pecuniary considerations; that he had foreseen every thing, and made the needful preparations. She had vowed to herself that she would meet all the torments they might inflict upon her, with the stoicism of the Indian who is bound to the stake, and to be, among her enemies, like a dead person, whom no insult can galvanize into the semblance of life. Except at meals, they took no more notice of her than if she had not been in existence. That sudden access of affection which had moved Count Ville-Handry on that evening when he thought his daughter in danger had long since passed away. The countess observed a kind of affectionate reserve, like a well-disposed person who has seen all her advances repelled, and who is hurt, but quite ready to be friends at the first sign. Brian never opened her thin lips but to growl out some unpleasant remark, of which a single word was intelligible: shocking! The great gates, formerly almost always open, were now kept carefully closed; and, when they were opened to admit a carriage, the concierge mounted guard before them, as if he were the keeper of a jail. The little garden-gate had been secured by two additional enormous locks; and whenever Henrietta, during her walks in the garden, came near it, she saw one of the gardeners watch her with anxious eyes. She wanted to be clear about that; and one morning she asked her father’s permission to send to the Duchess of Champdoce, and beg her to come and spend the day with her.

But Count Ville-Handry brutally replied that he did not want to see the Duchess of Champdoce; and that, besides, she was not in Paris, as her husband had taken her south to hasten her recovery. On another occasion, toward the end of February, and when several days of fine spring weather had succeeded each other, the poor child could not help expressing a desire to go out and breathe a little fresh air. She would sooner have allowed herself to be cut to pieces than to appear in public seated by the side of the young countess and in the same carriage with her. Months passed thus without her having put a foot outside of the palace, except her daily attendance at mass at eight o’clock on Sunday mornings. de Brevan such a respectful interest in her welfare, such almost womanly delicacy, and so much prudence and discretion, that she blessed Daniel for having left her this friend, and counted upon his devotion as upon that of a brother. Daniel will soon be back!” But the more Henrietta was left to the inspirations of solitude, and compelled to live within herself only, the more she observed all that was going on around her. The palace had become, so to say, the headquarters of that motley society which forms the “Foreign Legion” of pleasure and of scandal. Sarah Brandon, now Countess Ville-Handry, was surrounded by that strange aristocracy which has risen upon the ruins of old Paris,--a contraband aristocracy, a dangerous kind of high life, which, by its unheard-of extravagance and mysterious splendor, dazzles the multitude, and puzzles the police. She was too clever to commit such a blunder; but she bestowed her sweetest smiles upon all those equivocal Bohemians who represent all races, and whose revenues come much less from good acres in the broad sunlight than from the credulity and stupidity of mankind. He was the firm, the receiver of the fortune, the flag that covers the merchandise, the master, in fine, although he exercised no authority.

All these titles secured to him the appearance of profound respect; and all vied with each other in flattering him to the utmost, and paying him court in the most abject manner. This led him to imagine that he had recovered the prestige he had enjoyed in former days, thanks to the skilful management of his first wife; and he assumed a new kind of grotesque importance commensurate with his revived vanity. All the business men who had called upon him before his marriage already reappeared now, accompanied by that legion of famished speculators, whom the mere report of a great enterprise attracts, like the flies settling upon a lump of sugar. The count shut himself up with these men in his study, and often spent the whole afternoon with them there. She was quite sure of it when she saw her father unhesitatingly give up the splendid suite of apartments in the lower story of the palace, which were cut up into an infinite number of small rooms. On the doors there appeared, one by one, signs not usually found in such houses; as, “Office,” “Board Room,” “Secretary,” “Cashier’s Room.” Then office-furniture appeared in loads,--tables, desks, chairs; then mountains of huge volumes; and at last two immense safes, as large as a bachelor’s-lodging. In the most off-hand manner he assured her that he knew nothing about it, but promised to inquire, and to let her know soon. There was no necessity; for one morning, when Henrietta was wandering about listlessly around the offices, which began to be filled with clerks, she noticed an immense advertisement on one of the doors. She went up to it, and read:-- FRANCO-AMERICAN SOCIETY, For the development of Pennsylvania petroleum wells. Capital, Ten Million of Francs. Twenty Thousand Shares of 500 Francs each.

The Charter may be seen at the Office of M. The books for subscription will be opened on the 25th of March.

principal office, Palace of Count Ville-Handry, Rue de Varennes. branch office, Rue Lepelletier, No.

At the foot, in small print, was a full explanation of the enormous profits which might be expected, the imperative necessity which had led to the establishment of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Society, the nature of its proposed operations, the immense services which it would render to the world at large, and, above all, the immense profits which would promptly accrue to the stockholders. Then there came an account of petroleum or oil wells, in which it was clearly demonstrated that this admirable product represented, in comparison with other oils, a saving of more than sixty per cent; that it gave a light of matchless purity and brilliancy; that it burnt without odor; and, above all, that, in spite of what might have been said by interested persons, there was no possible danger of explosion connected with its use. “In less than twenty years,” concluded the report in a strain of lyric prophecy, “petroleum will have taken the place of all the primitive and useless illuminating mediums now employed. It will replace, in like manner, all the coarse and troublesome varieties of fuel of our day. In less than twenty years the whole world will be lighted and heated by petroleum; and the oil-wells of Pennsylvania are inexhaustible.” A eulogy on the president, Count Ville-Handry, crowned the whole work,--a very clever eulogy, which called him a man sent by Providence; and, alluding to his colossal fortune, suggested that, with such a manager at the head of the enterprise, the shareholders could not possibly run any risk. My father is ruined!” That Count Ville-Handry should risk all he possessed in this terrible game of speculation was not so surprising to Henrietta. But what she could not comprehend was this, that he should assume the whole responsibility of such a hazardous enterprise, and run the terrible risk of a failure. “It must have cost prodigies of patience and cunning,” she thought, “to induce him to make such a sacrifice, such a surrender of old and cherished convictions.

They must have worried him terribly, and brought to bear upon him a fearful pressure.” She was, therefore, truly amazed, when, two days afterwards, she became accidentally a witness to a lively discussion between her father and the countess on this very subject of the famous placards, which were now scattered all over Paris and France. She did not understand, she said, how her husband, a nobleman of ancient lineage, could stoop to “making money.” Had he not enough of it already? And, when the countess paused, he deigned to explain to her in that emphatic manner which betrayed his intense conceit, that if he, the representative of the very oldest nobility, threw himself into the great movement, it was for the purpose of setting a lofty example. More than that, if you speak to them of disinterestedness, they will laugh in your face. And they will call you a dunce into the bargain.” Count Ville-Handry shrugged his shoulders almost imperceptibly; and then he said, taking his wife by the hand,-- “Would you love me less if I were ruined?” She looked at him with her beautiful eyes as if overflowing with affection, and replied in a voice full of emotion,-- “God is my witness, my friend, that I should be delighted to be able to prove to you that I did not think of money when I married you.” “Sarah!” cried the count in ecstasy, “Sarah, my darling, that was a word worth the whole of that fortune which you blame me for risking.” Even if Henrietta had been more disposed to mistrust appearances, she would never have supposed that the whole scene was most cunningly devised for the purpose of impressing upon the count’s feeble intellect this idea more forcibly than ever.

The result of her meditations was a long letter to a gentleman for whom her mother had always entertained a great esteem, the Duke of Champdoce. After having explained to him her situation, she told him all that she knew of the new enterprise, and besought him to interfere whilst it was yet time. Who is it, then, that has meanly slandered me, has robbed me of my father’s affection, surrounds me with spies, and overwhelms me with insults? She was evidently calculating the effect of a new plan.

You are the purest and chastest of girls whom I know; are you not? “And you think, madam,” resumed Henrietta, “that sufferings like mine can be long continued?” “They will be continued till it pleases me to make an end to them.” “Or till I come of age.” The countess made a great effort to conceal her surprise. Still Henrietta saw in it only a new insult; no suspicion entered her soul, and she replied in the most ironical tone,-- “Then it was not you who sent that petition to the secretary of the navy?

or was the whole scene only a bit of cruel sport? It was for his money’s sake that you married him,--you, the young, marvellously-beautiful woman,--the old man.” A smile rose upon the lips of the countess, in which she appeared herself in all the deep treachery of her secret calculations. I had coveted the fortune of this dear count, my husband? You do not think of it, madam? Was she not, perhaps, under the influence of one of those hallucinations which fevers produce? “And you dare tell me all these things, me, Count Ville-Handry’s own daughter, the daughter of your husband?” “Why not?” asked the countess. And, shrugging her shoulders, she added in a careless tone,-- “Do you think I am afraid of your reporting me to him? You are here, both of you, and chatting amicably like two charming sisters?

My Henrietta has come back to her senses, I trust.” They were both silent; and, seeing how they looked at each other with fierce glances, he went on in a tone of great bitterness-- “But no, it is not so! What has happened?” The countess shook her head sadly, and replied,-- “The matter is, that your daughter, during your absence, has written a letter to one of my most cruel enemies, to that man who, you know, on our wedding-day, slandered me meanly; in fine, to the Duke of Champdoce!” “And has any one of my servants dared to carry that letter?” “No, my friend! For Henrietta, sure of the Duke of Champdoce, had not hesitated to open her heart to him, describing her situation as it really was; painting her step-mother as he had anticipated she would be; and at every turn certain phrases were repeated, which were so many blows with a dagger to the count. “This is unheard of!” he growled with a curse. Such perversity has never been known before.” He went and stood before his daughter, his arms crossed, and cried with a voice of thunder,-- “Wretch!

Repeat the impudent avowals of the countess? Brian had taken a seat by the side of her beloved Sarah. “I,” she said, “if I were, for my sins, afflicted with such a daughter, I would get her a husband as soon as possible.” “I have thought of that,” replied the count; “and I believe I have even hit upon an arrangement which”-- But, when he saw his daughter’s watchful eye fixed upon him, he paused, and, pointing towards the door, said to her brutally,-- “You are in the way here!” Without saying a word, she went out, much less troubled by her father’s fury than by the strange confessions which the countess had made. She only now began to measure the full extent of her step-mother’s hatred, and knew that she was too practical a woman to waste her time by making idle speeches.

How could any one unearth the truth from among such a mass of falsehood and deception? You would have thought he was a man who at a single blow sees the edifice of all his hopes crumble to pieces.

Even the watch kept upon her movements was not quite as strict as heretofore. The countess kept out of her way. Thus, a week later, all seemed to have entirely forgotten the terrible explosion produced by the letter to the Duke of Champdoce.

There was one of the inmates of the palace who recalled it daily,--M. On the very evening after the scene, his generous indignation had so far gotten the better of his usual reserve, and his pledge of neutrality, that he had taken the Countess Sarah aside, and overwhelmed her with sharp reproaches. “It can be nothing but vile hypocrisy and the beginning of an abominable farce. A new Sir Thorn appeared, whom no one would have ever suspected under the cloak of icy reserve which the former had worn.

His sympathetic pity of former days was succeeded by more tender sentiments.

It was not pity now, which animated his big, blue-china eyes, but the half-suppressed flame of a discreet passion. The most direct result of these manoeuvres was to keep M. “Well, madam,” he said to Henrietta on one of the few occasions when he could speak to her,--“well, what did I tell you? Does the wretch show his hand clearly enough now?” Henrietta discouraged her curious lover as much as she could; but it was impossible for her to avoid him, as they lived under the same roof, and sat down twice a day at the same table.

For about a minute they remained there alone, standing face to face,--she trying to keep up her spirits, although blushing deeply; he, apparently so overcome, that he had lost the use of his voice. At last, all of a sudden, and as if making a supreme effort, Sir Thorn began in a breathless voice to declare, that, according to Henrietta’s answer, he would be the happiest or the most unfortunate of mortals.

Touched by her innocence, and the persecutions to which she was exposed, he had at first pitied her, then, discovering in her daily more excellent qualities, unusual energy, coupled with all the charming bashfulness of a young girl, he had no longer been able to resist such marvellous attractions. Henrietta, still mistress of herself, because she was convinced that M. Now I wish to be indebted to you only, madam, deciding in full enjoyment of your liberty; for”-- An expression of intense anxiety contracted the features of his usually so impassive face; and he added with great earnestness,-- “Miss Henrietta, I am an honorable man; I love you. Will you be my wife?” By a stroke of instinctive genius, he had found the only argument, perhaps, that might have procured credit for his sincerity.

My life is in his hands.” He tottered as if he had received a heavy blow, and stammered with a half-extinct voice,-- “Will you not leave me a glimpse of hope?” “I would do wrong if I did so, sir, and I have never yet deceived any one.” But the Hon. Elgin was not one of those men who despair easily, and give up. The very next day he became a changed man, as if Henrietta’s refusal had withered the very roots of his life. In his carriage, his gestures, and his tone of voice, he betrayed the utmost dejection.

One would have thought him endowed with the gift of multiplying himself; for he was inevitably seen wherever she was,--leaning against the door-frame, or resting his elbow on the mantlepiece, his eyes fixed upon her. de Brevan, having been made aware of his importunate attentions, seemed to check his indignation only with great difficulty. Once or twice he spoke of calling out this wretched fellow (so he called Sir Thorn); and, in order to quiet him, Henrietta had to repeat to him over and over again, that, after such an encounter, he would no longer be able to appear at the palace, and would thus deprive her of the only friend to whom she could look for assistance. Elgin, who is one of the most eminent financiers in all Europe, should think of a little insignificant person like you, he would look a long time elsewhere.” “Permit me, father”-- “Stop! If you should, however, not deceive yourself, it would be the greatest good luck for you, and an honor of which you ought to be very proud indeed. Do you think it would be easy to find a husband for you, after all the unpleasant talk to which you have given occasion?” “I do not wish to marry, father.” “Of course not. “Is the idea of becoming my wife so very revolting to you?” “I have told you, sir, I am no longer free.” “Yes, to be sure! She replied, therefore, haughtily,-- “It was a point of honor with M. Then in a stifled voice, with a gesture of despair, he added,-- “Keep your illusions, madam; and farewell.” He was going to leave the room; but she threw herself in his way, crossed her arms, and said to him in an imperative tone,-- “You have gone too far, sir, to retrace your steps. He checked himself, however, and said, in a short and cutting tone,-- “I say so because it is so; and any one but you, possessing a less noble ignorance of evil, would long since have discovered the truth.

To the memory of your offences on the occasion of her wedding? Jealousy alone is capable of that fierce and insatiable hatred which cannot be disarmed by tears or submission,--that hatred which time increases, instead of diminishing. He, shrugging his shoulders, and assuming an air of commiseration, went on,-- “What? Champcey fled from our house in the middle of the night, bareheaded, without taking his overcoat?” “Sir?” “Did you not think that was extraordinary?

After having been one of the foremost to recommend to Sarah to marry your father, M. He had, before that, tried to have it broken off through your agency, madam, using thus his influence over you, his betrothed, for the benefit of his passion.” “Ah! To this charge, which fell like a blow upon his face, he only replied,-- “I have proofs.” “What proofs?” “Letters written by M. “These letters would prove nothing to me, sir.” “But”-- She cast a withering glance at him, and said, in a voice of unbearable contempt,-- “Those who have sent a letter to the Navy Department, which pretended to have been written by Daniel, cannot find any difficulty in imitating his signature. Let us break off here, sir.

Instead of answering him, she drew a step aside, thus opening the way to the door, at which she pointed with her finger. “Well,” said Sir Thorn with an accent of fierce threatening, “remember this; I have sworn you shall be my wife, whether you will or not; and my wife you shall be!” “Leave the room, sir, or I must give it up to you!” He went out swearing; and, more dead than alive, Henrietta sank into an arm-chair. As long as she had been in the presence of the enemy, her pride had enabled her to keep up the appearance of absolute faith in Daniel; but, now she was alone, terrible doubts began to beset her. Was there not something true in the evident exaggerations of the Hon. Had not Sarah also boasted of it, that she loved Daniel, and that she had been in his room? Finally, Henrietta recalled with a shudder, that, when Daniel had told her of his adventure in Circus Street, he had appeared embarrassed towards the end, and had failed fully to explain the reasons of his flight. “The measure of my sufferings is full indeed!” Unfortunately it was not yet full. A new persecution awaited her, infamous, monstrous, by the side of which all the others amounted to nothing. He was no longer the sympathetic defender of former days, nor the timid lover, nor the sighing, rejected lover, who followed Henrietta everywhere.

He was, henceforth, a kind of wild beast, pursuing her, harassing her, persecuting her, with his eyes glaring at her with abominable lust. But he pushed her back, and reproached her for slandering the most honorable and most inoffensive of men. And Sir Thorn knew probably of her failure; for the next day he looked at her, laughing, as if he felt that he now might venture upon any thing. One evening, or rather one night, when the count and the countess were at a ball, he came and knocked at the door of Henrietta’s chamber. Could she remain any longer standing upon the brink of an abyss without name? de Brevan had turned deadly pale; and the perspiration pearled in large drops on his temples, while his hands trembled like the eager hands of a man who touches, and is about to seize, a long-coveted prize. You think of seeking refuge at the house of that estimable lady?” “Certainly.” M. de Brevan, now entirely master of himself, and calculating with his usual calmness, gravely shook his head, and said,-- “You ought to be careful, madam. To seek an asylum at the house of our friend’s relative might be a very grave imprudence.” “But Daniel recommended it to me in his letter.” “Yes; but he had not considered the consequences of the advice he gave you.

Do not deceive yourself; the wrath of your enemies will be terrible when they find that you have escaped them. The house of the old aunt will be watched at once, and most jealously. You are not of age, consequently you are entirely dependent on the will of your father. Under the inspiration of your step-mother, he would attack Daniel’s aunt, on the score of having inveigled a minor, and would bring you back here.” She seemed to reflect; then she said suddenly,--“I can implore the assistance of the Duchess of Champdoce.” “Unfortunately, madam, they told you the truth. For a year now, the Duke of Champdoce and his wife have been travelling in Italy.” A gesture of despair betrayed the terrible dejection of the poor girl. “Great God!” she said, “what must I do?” A passing smile appeared on the face of M. de Brevan; and he answered in his most persuasive manner,-- “Will you permit me to offer you some advice, madam?” “Alas, sir! You will move into it, and await there your coming of age, or Daniel’s return.

No detective will ever think of seeking the daughter of Count Ville-Handry in a poor needlewoman’s garret.” “And I am to stay there alone, forsaken and lost?” “It is a sacrifice which it seems to me you have to make for safety’s sake.” She said nothing, weighing the two alternatives,--to remain in the house, or to accept M. Formerly I used to have always a couple of hundred dollars in my drawers somewhere; but now”-- “Madam,” broke in M. They may discover my share in the attempt; and who knows what charges they would raise against me?” His apprehension alone betrayed the character of the man; and still it did not enlighten Henrietta. de Brevan had a slight attack of coughing, which prevented him from answering at first. On Thursday, madam, you will complain early in the morning already, of a bad headache, and you will send for the doctor. At night, however, towards ten o’clock, you will come down and conceal yourself at the foot of the back-stairs, in the corner of the courtyard.

My coachman, whom I will instruct beforehand, instead of stopping at the great entrance, will pretend to go amiss, and stop just at the foot of the staircase. She was fully aware of the terrible rashness of her plan. If she could only have been as sure of the heart of her chosen one as she had formerly been! But the cunning innuendoes of the countess, and the impudent asseverations of Sir Thorn, had done their work, and shaken her faith. Very polite, very cold, and almost without a word of hope. And still, the more she reflected with all that lucidity with which the approach of a great crisis inspired her, the more she became impressed with the absolute necessity of flight. She was relying upon a man who was almost a stranger to her; but was not this the only way to escape from the insults of a wretch who had become the boon companion, the friend, and the counsellor of her father?

Finally, she sacrificed her reputation, that is, the appearance of honor; but she saved the reality, honor itself. She bade farewell to this beloved house, full of souvenirs of eighteen years in which she had played as a child, where Daniel’s voice had caused her heart to beat loud and fast, and where her sainted mother had died. And in the evening, at table, big tears were rolling down her cheeks as she watched the stupidly-triumphant serenity of her father. The next day, however, Thursday, Henrietta complained, as was agreed upon, of a violent headache; and the doctor was sent for. As soon as he had left, she rose; and, like a dying person who makes all her last dispositions, she hastened to put every thing in order in her drawers, putting together what she meant to keep, and burning what she wished to keep from the curiosity of the countess and her accomplices.

She left them, therefore, with the exception of such as she wore every day, openly displayed on a chiffonnier. The manner of her escape forbade her taking much baggage; and still some linen was indispensable. Upon reflection it did not seem to her inexpedient to take a small carpet- bag, which her mother had given her, and which contained a dressing- case, all the articles in which were of solid gold and of marvellously fine workmanship. When her preparations were complete, she wrote to her father a long letter, in which she explained fully the motives of her desperate resolution. She could hear the hasty steps of busy servants, the loud orders of butlers and stewards, the hammer of upholsterers who gave here and there a final touch. Soon there came the rolling of wheels on the fine gravel in the court- yard, and the arrival of the first guests. Henceforth it was for Henrietta only a question of minutes; and she counted them by her watch with a terrible beating of her heart. Thus she got down without difficulty, reached the dark hall at the foot of the staircase; and there in the shade, seated on her little bag, she waited, out of breath, her hair moist with a cold perspiration, her teeth clattering in her mouth from fear.

At last it struck ten o’clock; and the vibration of the bell could still be heard, when M. Pretending to have lost the control of his horse, he made it turn round, and forced it back with such admirable awkwardness, that the carriage came close up to the wall, and the right hand door was precisely in the face of the dark little hall in which Henrietta was standing. A moment later the carriage slowly drove out of the court-yard of the palace of Count Ville-Handry, and stopped at some little distance.

In leaving her father’s house, Miss Ville-Handry had broken with all the established laws of society. She was at the mercy now of what might follow; and, according as events might turn out favorable or unfavorable, she was saved or lost. But she did not think of that. As the danger of being surprised passed away, the feverish excitement that had kept her up so far, also subsided, and she was lying, undone, on the cushions, when the door suddenly opened, and a man appeared. I have just presented my respects to the Countess Sarah and her worthy companions; I have shaken hands with Count Ville-Handry; and no one has the shadow of a suspicion.” And, as Henrietta said nothing, he added,-- “Now I think we ought to lose no time; for I must show myself again at the ball as soon as possible.

He had spoken of her, he said, as of one of his relatives from the provinces, who had suffered a reverse of fortune, and who had come to Paris in the hope of finding here some way to earn her living. you did not after all take your jewels, madam?” “No, certainly not, sir!” Still this persistency on the part of M. The room of the concierge was still light. de Brevan, “my young kinswoman, of whom I told you, Miss Henrietta.” If Henrietta had had the slightest knowledge of Parisian customs, she would have guessed from the bows of the concierge, and the courtesies of his wife, how liberally they had been rewarded in advance. de Brevan and Henrietta, and stopping at every landing to praise the neatness of the house. The young lady will see how nice it is.” It might possibly have been nice in her eyes; but Henrietta, accustomed to the splendor of her father’s palace, could not conceal a gesture of disgust. This more than modest chamber looked to her like a garret such as she would not have permitted the least of her maids to occupy at home. She went in bravely, putting her travelling-bag on a bureau, and taking off her shawl, as if to take possession of the lodging.

The terrible emotions which had shaken and undermined Henrietta during the last forty-eight hours were followed now by a feeling of intense astonishment at what she had done, at the irrevocable step she had taken. Standing by the mantle-piece, she looked at her pale face in the little looking-glass, and said to herself,-- “Is that myself, my own self?” Yes, it was she herself, the only daughter of the great Count Ville- Handry, here in a strange house, in a wretched garret-room, which she called her own. It was she, yesterday still surrounded by princely splendor, waited on by an army of servants, now in want of almost every thing, and having for her only servant the old woman to whom M.

“But what is the use,” she said to herself, “of thinking of what is past? I must not allow myself to think of it; I must shake off this heaviness.” And, to occupy her mind, she rose and went about to explore her new home, and to examine all it contained. It was one of those lodgings about which the owners of houses rarely trouble themselves, and where they never make the smallest repairs, because they are always sure of renting them out just as they are. The floor, laid in bricks, was going to pieces; and a number of bricks were loose, and shaking in their layers of cement. The ceiling was cracked, and fell off in scales; while all along the walls it was blackened by flaring tallow-candles. The papering, a greasy, dirty gray paper, preserved the fingermarks of all the previous occupants of the room from the time it had first been hung. The furniture, also, was in keeping with the room,--a walnut bedstead with faded calico curtains, a chest of drawers, a table, two chairs, and a miserable arm-chair; that was all.

By the side of the bed was a little strip of carpeting; and on the mantlepiece a zinc clock between two blue glass vases. But would she have been any more compromised, or in greater danger of being discovered by the Countess Sarah, if they had papared the room anew, put a simple felt carpet on the floor, and furnished the room a little more decently? Accustomed to the profound stillness of the immense rooms in her father’s palace, Henrietta had no idea, of course, of the incessant movement that goes on in the upper stories of these Paris lodging-houses, which contain the population of a whole village, and where the tenants, separated from each other by thin partition-walls, live, so to say, all in public. Her father, most probably, had gone to call in the aid of the police. She felt almost happy at the idea of being so safely concealed; and looking around her chamber, which appeared even more wretched by daylight than last night, she said,-- “No, they will never think of looking for me here!” In the meantime she had discovered a small supply of wood near the fireplace; and, as it was cold, she was busy making a fire, when somebody knocked at her door. Chevassat, the wife of the concierge appeared. Don’t you think you might eat a little something?” Henrietta not only thought of it; but she was very hungry. For there are no events and no adventures, no excitements and no sorrows, which prevent us from getting hungry; the tyranny of our physical wants is stronger than any thing else. As often as you desire, my pretty young lady. Chevassat had displayed all the amiability of which she was capable, hiding under a veil of tender sympathy the annoying eagerness of her eyes.

“I am sure,” thought Henrietta, “she is a bad woman.” Her suspicions were only increased when the worthy woman reappeared, bringing her breakfast, and setting it out on a little table before the fire, with all kinds of hideous compliments.

23 Water Street, where there was such a concierge with such a wife!--he, the best of men; she, a real treasure of kindness, gentleness, and, above all, discretion.

They are all people of notoriously high standing, from the wealthy old ladies in the best story to Papa Ravinet in the fourth story, and not excepting the young ladies who live in the small rooms in the back building.” Then, having passed them all in review, she began praising M. With her great experience, she had at once recognized in him one of those men who seem to be born expressly for the purpose of inspiring the most violent passions, and of securing the most lasting attachments. Besides, she added with a hideous smile, she was sure of his deep interest in her pretty new tenant; and she was so well convinced of this, that she would be happy to devote herself to her service, even without any prospect of payment.

This did not prevent her from saying to Henrietta, as soon as she had finished her breakfast,-- “You owe me two francs, miss; and, if you would like it, I can board you for five francs a day.” Thereupon she went into a lively discussion to show that this would be on her part a mere act of kindness, because, considering how dear every thing was, she would most assuredly lose. Drawing from her purse a twenty-franc piece, she said,-- “Make yourself paid, madam.” This was evidently not what the estimable woman expected; for she drew back with an air of offended dignity, and protested,-- “What do you take me to be, miss? Do you think me capable of asking for payment?” And, shrugging her shoulders, she added,-- “Besides, does not all that regards your expenses concern M.

Henrietta did not know what to think of it. What frightened her most of all was the feeling that she was evidently altogether at M. She was in want of every thing, of the most indispensable articles: she had not another dress, nor another petticoat. de Brevan thought of that beforehand? Was he waiting for her to tell him of her distress, and to ask him for money? Torn by a thousand wild apprehensions, Henrietta was more than once on the point of going to his house. The flight of the daughter of Count Ville-Handry was known all over Paris, and he was suspected of having aided and abetted her: so they had told him, he said, at his club. de Brevan came in, evidently under the influence of some terrible determination.

As soon as he had entered, he locked the door, and said in a hoarse voice,-- “I must speak to you, madam, yes, I must!” He was deadly pale; his white lips trembled; and his eyes shone with a fearful light, like those of a man who might have sought courage in strong drink. Overcome with horror, her hair standing at an end, and shaken by nervous spasms, poor Henrietta was trying to measure the depth of the abyss into which she had thrown herself. Voluntarily, and with the simplicity of a child, she had walked into the pit which had been dug for her. She saw how profound had been his calculations when he recommended her so urgently not to take her jewels with her while escaping from her father’s house, nor any object of value; for, if she had had her jewelry, she would have been in possession of a small fortune; she would have been independent, and above want, at least for a couple of years. And it was he to whom Daniel, at the moment of sailing, had intrusted his betrothed! Thomas Elgin was no doubt a formidable bandit, faithless and unscrupulous; but he was known as such: he was known to be capable of any thing, and thus people were on their guard. But this man!--ah, a thousand times meaner and viler!--he had watched for a whole year, with smiling face, for the hour of treachery; he had prepared a hideous crime under the veil of the noblest friendship!

In obtaining possession of her, he no doubt thought he would secure to himself a large portion of Count Ville-Handry’s immense fortune. They both coveted the same thing; and each one trembled lest the other should first get hold of the treasure which he wanted to secure. Moreover, she called in to her assistance a light shining high above all this terrible darkness,--the remembrance of Daniel. to think of the grief and the rage of this man, when he should hear how wickedly and cowardly he had been betrayed by the man whom he called his friend! She did not ask herself that question; for she was yet in that first stage of enthusiasm, when we are full of heroic resolves which do not allow us to see the obstacles that are to be overcome. Maxime?” Henrietta was so sure of the uselessness of replying, and so fearful of new dangers, that she simply replied,-- “Yes, madam.” “I was afraid of it,” replied the woman, “just from seeing him come down the stairs with a face as long as that. Only I know you owe a good deal of money.” “Owe?” “Why, yes!

The furniture”-- “Of course, M. She asked,-- “What did the furniture of this room cost? Should she return to her father, and implore the pity of his wife? de Brevan, would she not fall into the hands of M. Should she seek assistance at the hands of some of the old family friends? Since her mother had died, and she had been living alone, no one seemed to have remembered her, unless for the purpose of calumniating her. Her only friends, the only ones who had made her cause their own, the Duke and the Duchess of Champdoce, were in Italy, as she had been assured. I shall be saved!” Her safety depended upon one single point: if she could manage to live till she came of age, or till Daniel returned, all was right. “The daughters of poor people, who are as completely forsaken as I am, nevertheless live. Because the children of poor people have served, so to say, from the cradle, an apprenticeship of poverty,--because they are not afraid of a day without work, or a day without bread,--because cruel experience has armed them for the struggle,--because, in fine, they know life, and they know Paris,--because their industry is adapted to their wants, and they have an innate capacity to obtain some advantage from every thing, thanks to their smartness, their enterprise, and their energy.

But Count Ville-Handry’s only daughter--the heiress of many millions, brought up, so to say, in a hothouse, according to the stupid custom of modern society--knew nothing at all of life, of its bitter realities, its struggles, and its sufferings. As to objects of any value, she owned the cashmere which she had wrapped around her when she fled, the dressing-case in her mother’s travelling-bag, a brooch, a watch, a pair of pretty ear-rings, and, lastly, two rings, which by some lucky accident she had forgotten to take off, one of which was of considerable value. But how could she dispose of these things? She wanted to have it all settled, so as to get rid of this sense of uncertainty; she wanted, especially, to pay for the scanty, wretched furniture in her chamber. She was thinking it out, when the idea of the pawnbroker occurred to her. She had heard such men spoken of; but she only knew that they kept places where poor people could get money upon depositing a pledge. This resolution gave her courage to go up to a policeman, and, crimson like a poppy, to ask him,-- “Will you be so kind, sir, as to tell me a pawnbroker’s shop?” The man looked with pity at the young girl, whose whole person exhaled a perfume of distinction and of candor, asking himself, perhaps, what terrible misfortune could have reduced a lady like her to such a step; then he answered with a sigh,-- “There, madam, at the corner of the first street on the right, you will find a loan office.” “Loan office?” These words suggested to Henrietta no clear idea. On the right hand three or four clerks, shut off from the public by a railing breast-high, were writing down the names of the depositors, and counting out money. Trembling as if she had committed a crime, she went to the opening behind, and put upon the ledge one of her rings, the most valuable of the two. Your passport, a receipt for rent, or any thing.” The whole company laughed at the ignorance of this girl.

Whose is it?” Henrietta was rushing out, and down the stairs, pursued, as it seemed to her, by the cries of the crowd. And what was to become of it? The honest woman tried to look as grave as an attorney whom a great client consults, who has unwittingly stirred up a wasps’ nest; and, when her tenant had finished, she said in a voice apparently half drowned in tears,-- “Poor little kitten, poor little innocent kitten!” But, if she succeeded in giving to her face an expression of sincere sympathy, the greedy look in her eyes betrayed but too clearly her immense satisfaction at seeing Henrietta at last at her feet. Why, only last week, she had sent one of those men away, and a dressmaker into the bargain, who came to levy upon one of her tenants in the back building,--the very nicest, and prettiest, and best of them all. Chevassat, “if it were only to be agreeable to you, he would give one of his arms, this poor M. For himself, he had, of course, kept nothing,--oh, nothing at all! Thus, with the few gold-pieces which she had found in her purse, the poor girl had a capital of about a thousand francs in hand. Such a sum for a few second-hand pieces of furniture which adorned that wretched garret! It was the thought of leaving the house by stealth, of going to the station of the Orleans Railway, and of taking the first train for the home of Daniel’s aunt. de Brevan had gone to engage this garret-room, he had thought of nothing; or rather (and such a calculation was quite in keeping with his cold-blooded rascality) he had taken his measures so that his victim must soon be in utter destitution.

Without any other clothes than those she wore on the night of her flight, she had no linen, no shoes, not a towel even to wipe her hands, unless she borrowed them from her friend down stairs. Accustomed as she was to all the comforts of boundless wealth, and to all the refinements of cleanliness, these privations became to her a genuine martyrdom. Thus she spent in a variety of small purchases more than a hundred and fifty francs. One evening she had hinted at the necessity of retrenching, when Mrs. Chevassat had shot at her a venomous glance, which pierced her to the very marrow of her bones. In her mind she felt as if the five francs were a kind of daily ransom which she paid the estimable concierge’s wife for her good-will. It is true, that, for such a consideration, the terrible woman was all attention for her “poor little pussy-cat;” for thus she had definitely dubbed Henrietta, becoming daily more familiar, and adding this odious and irritating presumption to all the other tortures of the poor girl. Many a time poor Henrietta had been made so indignant and furious, that she had been on the point of rebelling; but she had never dared, submitting to this familiarity for the same reason for which she paid her five francs every day. “And more than that, poor little pussy,” she added, “you will see that one of these days he will summon courage enough to come and offer you an apology.” But Henrietta would not believe that. “I have come, madam,” he said, “to ask if you have reconsidered.” She made no reply, looking at him with an air of contempt which would have caused a man with some remnant of honor in his heart to flee from the spot instantly.

I came solely for the purpose of enlightening you in regard to your own position, which you do not seem to realize.” If she had followed her own impulses, Henrietta would have driven the wretch away. All Paris is convinced, by this time, that I have run away with you; and that I keep you concealed in a charming place, where we enjoy our mutual love; in fact, that you are my mistress.” He seemed to expect an explosion of wrath. “What would you have?” he went on in a tone of sarcasm. Two friends of mine, who reached the palace on foot when I drove up, saw you jump into my coupe; and, as if that had not been enough, that absurd M.

He added,-- “If you doubt it, madam, pray read this, then, at the top of the second column.” She took the paper which he offered her, and there she read,-- “Yesterday, in the woods near Vincennes, a duel with swords was fought between M. de B---- and one of the most distinguished members of our American colony.

It is said that the sudden and very surprising disappearance of one of the greatest heiresses of the Faubourg Saint Germain was not foreign to this duel. de B---- is reported to know too much of the beautiful young lady’s present home for the peace of the family. But surely these lines ought to be more than enough on the subject of an adventure which will ere long, no doubt, end in a happy and brilliant marriage.” “You see, madam,” said M.

If you will become my wife, your honor is safe.” “Ah, sir!” In that simple utterance there was so much contempt, and such profound disgust, that M. Your father has no other will but that of the Countess Sarah; and the Countess Sarah will have it so, that you marry Sir Thorn.” “I shall not appeal to my father, sir.” “Then you probably count upon Daniel’s return? Go to the navy department, and they will tell you that ‘The Conquest’ is out on a cruise of two years more. I shall, however, have the honor of calling every week to receive your orders.” And, bowing, he left the room. What does he want of me?” Thus she questioned herself as soon as she was alone, and the door was ‘shut.’ And her anguish increased tenfold; for she did not believe a word of the pretexts which M. “He ought to know me well enough,” she thought with a new access of wrath, “to be sure that I would prefer death a thousand times.” There was no doubt in her mind that this step, which had evidently been extremely painful to himself, had become necessary through some all-powerful consideration. By a great effort of mind Henrietta recalled, one by one, all the phrases used by M.

All he had told her as to the consequences of her flight, she had foreseen before she had resolved to escape.

For did they not both covet with equal eagerness the fortune which she would inherit from her mother as soon as she came of age? The antagonism of their interests explained, she thought, their hatred; for she was well convinced that they hated each other mortally. de Brevan had done this; and therefore he must aim at something different from that marriage of which he spoke. Such abominable things are not done for the mere pleasure of doing them, especially if that involves some amount of danger. de Brevan would have a terrible account to give to that brave sailor who had trusted him with the care of his betrothed. de Brevan ever think of that return? There was proof of that in one of the phrases that had escaped him.

Was he not capable of anything, the wretched man, who had betrayed him so infamously,--capable even of arming an assassin? And this letter she carried herself to the post-office, convinced as she was that to confide it to Mrs.

At all hours of the day, and on the most trivial pretexts, she would come up, sit down, and for entire hours entertain her with her intolerable speeches. She did not put any restraint upon herself any longer, but talked “from the bottom of her heart” with her “dear little pussy-cat,” as if she had been her own daughter. The strange doctrines at which she had formerly only hinted, she now proclaimed without reserve, boasting of an open kind of cynicism, which betrayed a terrible moral perversity. It looked as if the horrible Megsera had been deputed by Henrietta’s enemies for the special purpose of demoralizing and depraving her, if possible, and to drive her into the brilliant and easy life of sin in which so many unhappy women perish. The eloquence of Mrs. Chevassat, which very likely would have inflamed the imagination of some poor but ambitious girl, caused nothing but disgust in Henrietta’s heart. She had gotten into the habit of thinking of other things while the old woman was holding forth; and her noble soul floated off to regions where these vulgarities could reach her no more. She never went out, spending her days in her chamber, reading, or working at a great embroidery, a masterpiece of patience and taste, which she had undertaken with a faint hope that it might become useful in case of distress. But a new source of trouble roused her soon after from this dull monotony.

Her money grew less and less; and at last the day came when she changed the last gold-piece of her nine hundred francs. It became urgent to resort once more to the pawnbroker; for these were the first days of April, and the honeyed words of Mrs. “Look there,” he said, “and remember to whom you are talking!” On the receipt she read in fact these words: “Advanced, two hundred francs.” Convinced of the injustice of her accusations, Henrietta had to make her apologies, and hardly succeeded by means of a ten-franc-piece in soothing the man’s wounded feelings. the poor girl did not know that one is always at liberty to pledge an article only for a given sum, a part of its real value; and she was too inexperienced in such matters to notice the reference to that mode of pawning on her receipt. However, it was one of those mishaps for poor Henrietta which cannot be mended, and from which we never recover. This time she thought she would, instead of pawning, sell, her gold- dressing-case; and she requested the obliging lady below to procure her a purchaser.

Chevassat raised a host of objections. If, on the other hand, you carry it to ‘Uncle’ you can take it out again as soon as you have a little money.” But she lost her pains, she saw and at last consented to bring up a kind of dealer in toilet-articles, an excellent honest man, she declared, in whom one could put the most absolute confidence. And he really showed himself worthy of her warm recommendation; for he offered instantly five hundred francs for the dressing-case, which was not worth much more than three times as much. “But no,” said the poor young girl to herself, “that would be pusillanimous in the highest degree.” And that very evening she summoned all her courage, and told the formidable woman in a firm tone of voice, that henceforth she would only take one meal, dinner. She only shrugged her shoulders as she said,-- “As you like, my ‘little pussy-cat.’ Only believe me, it is no use economizing in one’s eating.” From the day of this coup d’etat, Henrietta went down every morning herself to buy her penny-roll and the little supply of milk which constituted her breakfast. For the rest of the day she did not leave her room, busying herself with her great work; and nothing broke in upon the distressing monotony of her life but the weekly visits of M. He came in with a solemn air, and coldly asked if she had reflected since he had had the honor of presenting his respects to her. She did not answer him ordinarily, except by a look of contempt; but he did not seem in the least disconcerted. Her pride rose at the thought of this unceasing struggle; and she swore that she would be victorious.

It was now the end of June, and she saw with trembling her little treasure grow smaller and smaller; when one day she asked Mrs. Chevassat, who seemed to be of unusually good-humor, if she could not procure her some work. She told her that she was considered quite skilful in all kinds of needlework. Are hands like yours made to work?” And when Henrietta insisted, and showed her, as a proof of what she could do, the embroidery which she had commenced, she replied,-- “That is very pretty; but embroidering from morning till night would not enable a fairy to keep a canary-bird.” There was probably some truth in what she said, exaggerated as it sounded; and the poor girl hastened to add that she understood other kinds of work also. At these words a ray of diabolic satisfaction lighted up the old woman’s eyes; and she cried out,-- “What, my ‘pussy-cat,’ could you play dancing-music, like those artists who go to the large parties of fashionable people?” “Certainly!” “Well, that is a talent worth something!

I will think of it, and you shall see.” On the next Saturday, early in the morning, she appeared in Henrietta’s room with the bright face of a bearer of good news. “I have thought of you,” she said as soon as she entered.

That’s a big sum; and besides, if they are pleased, you will get more customers.” “In what part of the house does she live?” “In the second story of the back building, looking upon the yard. You would have to be there at nine o’clock precisely.” “I’ll come.” Quite happy, and full of hope, Henrietta spent a part of the afternoon in mending her only dress, a black silk dress, much worn unfortunately, and already often repaired. She was shown into a room furnished with odd furniture, but brilliantly lighted, in which seven or eight ladies in flaming costumes, and as many fashionable gentlemen, were smoking and taking coffee. Both ladies and gentlemen had just risen from table; there was no mistaking it from their eyes and the sound of their voices.

And, turning to Henrietta, she asked,-- “Will you take a little glass of something, my darling?” The poor girl blushed crimson, and, painfully embarrassed, declined, and asked pardon for declining; when the lady broke in rather rudely, and said,-- “You are not thirsty? and mark the time, please.” Then imitating with distressing accuracy the barking voice of masters of ceremonies at public balls, she called out,-- “Take your positions, take your positions: a quadrille!” Henrietta had taken her seat at the piano. She turned her back to the dancers; but she had before her a mirror, in which she saw every gesture of Mrs.

And then she became quite sure of what she had suspected from the beginning. But, when the last figure had been danced, she rose; and, walking up to the mistress of the house, said, stammering painfully, and in extreme embarrassment,-- “Please excuse me, madam, I have to leave. I could not play any more.” “How funny!” cried one of the gentlemen. Carried away by an irresistible impulse, and no longer mistress of herself, Henrietta rushed down stairs, and broke like a whirlwind into the little box of the concierge, crying out,-- “How could you dare to send me to such people? In the first place, I am tired of your ways, my ‘pussy-cat.’ When one is a beggar, as you are, one stays at home like a good girl; and one does not run away with a young man, and gad about the world with lovers.” Thereupon she took advantage of the fact that Henrietta had paused upon the threshold, to push her brutally out of the room at the risk of throwing her down, and fiercely banged the door.

At the sight of the poor girl, that irascible woman turned as red as a poppy, and, rushing up to her, seized her by the arm, and shook it furiously, crying out at the same time with the full force of her lungs,-- “Ah, it is you, miserable beggar, who go and tell stories on me! You’ll have to clear out of here, I tell you!” And the threat was not an idle one. Surely, there was no lack of desire on her part to leave the house. In July her rent had cost her a hundred francs, and she had been compelled to buy a dress in place of her merino dress, which was falling to pieces. In the first days of August she was at the end of her resources. Hilaire’s, done entirely without the expensive board of Mrs. Even this rupture, at which Henrietta had at first rejoiced, became now to her a source of overwhelming trouble. What she was looking for was one of those dark little shops in which men lie in wait for their prey, whom the police always suspects, and carefully watches.

What was this sum of money? She kept her word, sustained by a secret hope of triumphing, by dint of energy and perseverance, over fate itself. Her beauty, her charms, her distinguished appearance, her very manner of speaking, were so many obstacles in her way. Who could think of engaging a girl as a servant, who looked like a duchess? So that all her prayers only met with cold faces, shrugging of shoulders, and ironical smiles. It is true that now and then some gallant clerk replied to her application by a declaration of love. Chance had thrown into her hands one of those small handbills which bill-stickers paste upon the gutters, and in which workwomen are “wanted.” Henceforth she spent her days in looking up these handbills, and in going to places from which they were issued. There was no end of questions. She had noticed one which displayed at the door a huge placard, on which places were offered from thirty-five up to a thousand francs a month. She went ten times back to the office, and always in vain.

After an eleventh appointment, he gave her the address of two houses, in one of which he assured her she would certainly be employed. For ten months she had now been struggling with a kind of helpless fury against inconquerable difficulties, and at last the springs of her energy had lost their elasticity. It lacked still eighteen months before she would become of age. Since she had escaped from her father’s house, she had not received a line from Daniel, although she had constantly written to him, and she had, of course, no means of ascertaining the date of his return. She now spent her days almost always in bed, shivering with chills, or plunged in a kind of stupor, during which her mind was filled with dismal visions. She felt as if the very sources of life were drying up within her, and as if all her blood was, drop by drop, oozing out of her through an open wound. This was the last favor she asked of God. A perfect indifference and intense distaste of every thing filled her soul.

It was the only article of value which she still possessed; and she might at any time have procured several hundred francs for it. It means three months taken from my life; that is all.” And she did not think of it any more; she did not even trouble herself about the rent, which became due in October. Chevassat will give me notice, and then the hour will have come.” Still, to her great surprise, the worthy woman from below did not scold her for not having the money ready, and even promised she would make the owner of the house give her time. “Well,” she thought, as if announcing to her own soul that the catastrophe had at last come, “all I need now is a few minutes’ courage.” She said so in her mind; but in reality she was chilled to the heart by the fearful certainty that the crisis had really come: she felt as if the executioner were at the door of the room, ready to announce her sentence of death. And yet, for a month now, she had thought of suicide only; and the evening before she had thought it over with a kind of delight.

“I am surely not such a coward?” she said to herself in a fit of rage. she was only twenty years old; she had never felt such exuberance of life within her; she wanted to live,--to live a month more, a week, a day! Then, examining with haggard eyes her chamber, she saw that exquisite piece of embroidery which she had undertaken. It was a dress, covered all over with work of marvellous delicacy and exquisite outlines. “Never mind!” she said to herself; “perhaps they will give me something for it.” And, wrapping the dress up hastily, she hurried to offer it for sale to the old woman who had already bought her ear-rings, and then her watch. The fearful old hag seemed to be overcome with surprise when she saw this marvel of skill. and, if it were finished, it would be worth a mint of money; but as it is no one would want it.” She consented, however, to give twenty francs for it, solely from love of art, she said; for it was money thrown away. “It will last me a month,” she thought, determined to live on dry bread only; “and who can tell what a month may bring forth?” And this unfortunate girl had an inheritance from her mother of more than a million! This perseverance, which had at first served to maintain Henrietta’s courage, had now become a source of unspeakable torture. “Daniel will come back.” But he, shrugging his shoulders, had answered,-- “If you count upon that alone, you may as well surrender, and become my wife at once.” She turned her head from him with an expression of ineffable disgust.

Rather the icy arms of Death! And still the pulsations of her heart were apparently counted. Since the end of November her twenty francs had been exhausted; and to prolong her existence she had had to resort to the last desperate expedients of extreme poverty. Her linen had been sacrificed first; then the covering of her bed, her curtains, her sheets. The mattress had gone the way of the rest,--the wool from the inside first, carried off by handfuls; then the ticking. Thus, on the 25th of December, she found herself in a chamber as utterly denuded as if a fire had raged there; while she herself had on her body but a single petticoat under her thin alpaca dress, without a rag to cover herself in these wintry nights. “I must make an end of it,” she said to herself. She had told the Cerberus below that she would be out all the evening; and she had procured a considerable stock of charcoal.

Maddened by a sensation of dying, she tried to rise; but she could not. But at that very hour the tenant of the fourth story, Papa Ravinet, the second-hand dealer, was going to his dinner. That evening he went down the back stairs, and heard the death-rattle of the poor dying girl. In our beautiful egotistical days, many a man, in the place of this old man, would not have gone out of his way. Many a man, again, would have been quieted by the apparent calmness of the Chevassat couple, and would have been satisfied with their assurance that Henrietta was not at home. He, however, insisted, and, in spite of the evident reluctance of the concierge and his wife, compelled them to go up, and brought out, by his words first, and then by his example, one tenant after another.

In the first place she was utterly amazed at feeling that she was in a warm bed,--she who had, for so many days, endured all the tortures of bitter cold. “To have suffered all that can be suffered in dying,” she said to herself, “and then not to die after all!” She almost had a feeling of hatred against all these people who were busying themselves around her.

Chevassat, who assumed an air of great activity, while she explained to them how Henrietta had deceived her affectionate heart in order to carry out her fatal purpose. “You see, I did not dream of any thing,” she protested in a whining tone. Did I not already, in October, when I saw she would not be able to pay her rent, become responsible for her?” And thereupon the infamous hypocrite bent over the poor girl, kissed her on her forehead, and said with a tender tone of voice,-- “Did you not love me, dear little pussy-cat; did not you? Still, it was only after the doctor, who had been sent for, had come and bled her, that she was restored to the full use of her faculties. The two wealthy ladies, whom curiosity had carried off at the moment when they were sitting down to dinner, did not wait for more, and, very happy to be released, slipped away at once. But the concierge’s wife remained by Henrietta’s bedside till she was alone with her victim; and then every thing changed in her face, tone of voice, look, and manner. Everybody will pity you, and think your lover a cold-blooded villain, who lets you die of starvation.” The poor young girl deprecated the charge with such a sweet, gentle expression of face, that a savage would have been touched; but Mrs. Only day before yesterday, he offered you his whole fortune”-- “Madam,” stammered Henrietta, “have you no mercy?” Mercy--Mrs. Thus she had not seen the man who had saved her, and did not understand the allusions of the old woman. The man who has pulled you out, who has brought you all these things to make your bed, and kindle a fire; why, that is the second-hand dealer of the fourth story!

“What ought I to be afraid of?” asked Henrietta. At last she answered,-- “If I were to tell you, you would repeat it to him when he comes back.” “No, I promise you.” “Swear it on your mother’s sacred memory.” “I swear.” Thus reassured, the old woman came close up to her bed; and, in an animated but low voice, she said,-- “Well, I mean this: if you accept now what Papa Ravinet will offer you, in six months you will be worse than any of Mrs. Chevassat had plunged Henrietta once more into an abyss of profound despair.

“Great God!” she said to herself, “why must the generous assistance of this old man be a new snare for me?” With her elbow resting on her pillow, her forehead supported by her hand, her eyes streaming with tears, she endeavored to gather her ideas, which seemed to be scattered to the four winds, like the leaves of trees after a storm; when a modest, dry cough aroused her from her meditations. In the framework of the open door stood a man of mature age and of medium height, looking at her. She guessed at it, rather than she knew; for, although she lived in the same house with him, she was not in the same part of the building, and she scarcely recollected having caught a glimpse of him now and then in crossing the yard. Fortunately he was a clever man, the old dealer; and by means of not saying what might shock her, and by saying much that could not fail to touch her, he gradually regained his position. Thus, when he left her, after half an hour’s diplomatic intercourse, he had obtained from the poor young girl the promise that she would not renew the attempt at her life, and that she would explain to him by what fatal combination of circumstances she had been reduced to such extreme suffering. “You would not hesitate,” he said, “if you knew how easy it often is, by a little experience, to arrange the most difficult matters.” Henrietta did not hesitate. If she tries to keep me from accepting the old man’s assistance, she no doubt finds it to her advantage that I should do so.” When she tried, after that, to examine as coolly as she could the probable consequences of her decision, she found enormous chances in her favor. But still, in spite of the pressing need she had for rest, her promise kept her awake for the greater part of the night; for she passed in her mind once more over the whole lamentable story of her sufferings, and asked herself what she might confess to, and what she ought to withhold from the old dealer. Had he not already discovered, by the address of one of her letters, that she was the daughter of Count Ville-Handry?

On the other hand, was it not foolish to ask the advice of a man to whom we will not confess the whole truth? He looked very pale, the old man; and the expression of his face, and the tone of his voice, betrayed an emotion which he could scarcely control, together with deep anxiety. Fixing her eyes upon the old man with all the power of observation of which she was capable, she said,-- “I am fully aware that what I am about to do is almost unparalleled in rashness. I put myself, to a certain extent, absolutely in your power, sir,--the power of an utter stranger, of whom I am told I have every thing to fear.” “O miss!” he declared, “believe me”-- But she interrupted him, saying with great solemnity,-- “I think, if you were to deceive me, you would be the meanest and least of men. I rely upon your honor.” And then in a firm voice she began the account of her life, from that fatal evening on which her father had said to her,-- “I have resolved, my daughter, to give you a second mother.” The old dealer had taken a seat facing Henrietta, and listened, fixing his eyes upon her face as if to enter into her thoughts, and to anticipate her meaning. His face was all aglow with excitement, like the face of a gambler who is watching the little white ball that is to make him a rich man or a beggar.

Yes, of course that had to come next.” And all these people whose abominable intrigues Henrietta was explaining to him were apparently better known to him than to her, as if he had frequently been in contact with them, or even lived in their intimacy. Brian.” Or,-- “Sir Thorn never does otherwise.” Or, again,-- “Yes, that is all over Maxime de Brevan.” And, according to the different phases of the account, he would laugh bitterly and almost convulsively, or he would break out in imprecations. “What a trick!” he murmured with an accent of deep horror, “what an infernal snare!” At another point he turned deadly pale, and almost trembled on his chair, as if he were feeling ill, and were about to fall.

But, as soon as the young girl had finished, he rose all of a sudden, and cried out in a formidable voice,-- “I have them now, the wretches! “Unless he should try to deceive me,” she thought, not having quite shaken off all doubts yet. de Brevan had every reason to think that this house would keep the secret of his crime as safe as the grave, and so brought you here. And here it happens I must chance to live,--of all men, I,--and he remain unaware of it! By a kind of miracle we are brought together under the same roof,--you, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry, and I, one after the other, without knowing each other; and, at the very moment when this Brevan is about to triumph, Providence brings us together, and this meeting ruins him!” His voice betrayed his fierce joy at approaching vengeance; his sallow cheeks flushed up; and his eyes shone brilliantly. at last we shall get rid of her.’” Henrietta shuddered, and stammered out,-- “Is it possible?” Then the old man, looking at her half surprised, said,-- “What! after all you have seen of M. de Brevan, you have never suspected him of meditating your death?” “Why, yes! But I know them, I; for I have had a chance of measuring the depth of their wickedness.

He said, however,-- “You see, madam, I shall have to ask you to trust me blindly.” “I will trust you blindly.” “It is of the utmost importance that you should escape out of reach of M. de Brevan; he must lose every trace of you. You will, consequently, have to leave this house.” “I will leave it.” “And in the way I say.” “I will obey you in every point.” The last shadow of trouble which had still overclouded the old dealer’s brow vanished as if by magic. “Then all will go well,” he said, rubbing his hands as if he were taking off the skin; “and I guarantee the rest. Give her to understand that you think me a wicked old man, who wants you to pay the price of infamy for the services I wish to render to you.” Henrietta had turned crimson. I shall take measures to have the woman Chevassat either kept engaged, or out of the house; and you will thus find it easy to slip out without being perceived.

At the corner of the street, in front of the great Auction-Mart, you will see a cab standing, with a plaid handkerchief like this hanging out of the window. You may rely on me.” Every thing passed off just as the old dealer had foreseen; and Henrietta played her part so well, that at night, when her disappearance was discovered, Mrs. “She was tired of life, the girl!” she said to her husband.

Now, she was quite sure, that in such a state of destitution, and in this cold December night, the poor young girl would soon be weary wandering through the streets of Paris, and would be irresistibly drawn to the waters of the Seine. When Henrietta was alone, after the departure of Papa Ravinet, she had only become confirmed in her determination to trust in him blindly: she had even forborne to think it over, as she had, humanly speaking, no other choice on earth.

“And now, sir,” she began, “where do you take me?” By the light of the gas in the stores, which from time to time lighted up the interior of the carriage, she could see the features of her neighbor. He looked at her with manifest satisfaction; and a smile of friendly malice played upon his lips. But you will know soon, for the man drives well.” The poor horses went, indeed, as fast as if the dollar which the driver had received had infused the noble blood of the fastest racer into their veins. They drove down the whole long street at a furious rate, turned to the right, and, after many more turns, stopped at last before a house of modest appearance. Lightly and promptly, like a sheriff’s clerk, Papa Ravinet jumped out; and, having aided Henrietta to alight, he offered her his arm, and drew her into the house, saying,-- “You will see what a surprise I have in store for you.” In the third story the old man stopped; and, drawing a key from his pocket, he opened the door which faced the staircase. And, before she had time to consider, Henrietta found herself gently pushed into a small sitting-room, where a middle-aged lady was embroidering at a frame by the light of a large copper lamp. “Dear sister,” said Papa Ravinet, still in the door, “here is the young lady of whom I spoke to you, and who does us the honor to accept our hospitality.” Slowly the elderly lady put her needle into the canvas, pushed back the frame, and rose.

But age and sorrow had blanched her hair, and furrowed her face; and the habit of silence and meditation seemed to have sealed her lips forever. But she interrupted him, as if embarrassed by his praise, saying,-- “You have told me so late, Anthony, that I have not been able to attend to all of your orders. But the young lady’s room is ready, and if you choose”-- “Yes, we must show her the way.” The old lady having taken the lamp, after removing the screen, opened a door which led from the parlor directly into a small, modestly furnished room, which shone with exquisite tidiness, and which exhaled that fresh odor of lavender so dear to all housekeepers from the country. At one glance the old dealer had taken in every thing; and, after a smile of gratitude addressed to his sister, he said to Henrietta,-- “This is your room, madam.” The poor girl, all overcome, sought in vain for words to express her gratitude. She showed her, spread out on the bed, petticoats, white linen, stockings, a warm dressing- wrapper of gray flannel with blue flowers, and at the foot a pair of slippers.

“I have provided what was most pressing; to-morrow we will see about the rest.” Big tears, tears of happiness and gratitude, this time, rolled down Henrietta’s pale cheeks. this was a surprise, and a delicious one, which the ingenious foresight of her new friend had prepared for her. How can I ever repay what you are doing for me?” Then overcoming her emotion, and turning to Papa Ravinet, she added,-- “But pray, who are you, sir,--you who thus come to succor, a poor young girl who is an utter stranger to you, doubling the value of your assistance by your great delicacy?” The old lady replied in his place,--“My brother, madam, is an unfortunate man, who has paid for a moment’s forgetfulness of duty, with his happiness, his prospects, and his very life. Let him be for you what he is for all of us,--Anthony Ravinet, dealer in curiosities.” The voice of the old lady betrayed such great sorrow, silently endured, that Henrietta looked ashamed, regretting her indiscretion. Why do you speak of gratitude? It is I who shall forever be under obligations to you for the immense service which you render me.” He seemed to be inspired by his own words; his figure straightened up; his eyes flashed fire; and he was on the point of letting, perhaps, some secret escape him, when his sister interrupted him, saying reproachfully,-- “Anthony, Anthony!” He stopped at once. It is of the utmost importance that that woman Chevassat should not miss me a moment to-night.” He was about to leave them, when the old lady held him back, and said,-- “You ought to go back, I know; only be careful! What can you do to avoid meeting him?” “I have thought of that danger,” he replied. “When I go back, I shall tell the two Chevassats a little story, which will frighten them, so that they will advise Brevan never to appear there, except at night, as he formerly did.” Thereupon he bowed to Henrietta, and went away with the words,-- “To-morrow we will consult with each other.” The shipwrecked man who is saved at the last moment, when, strength and spirits being alike exhausted, he feels himself sinking into the abyss, cannot, upon feeling once more firm ground under his feet, experience a sense of greater happiness than Henrietta did that night.

The widow, free from embarrassment as from affectation, possessed a quiet dignity which appeared in certain words and ways she had, and which made Henrietta guess the principal events of her life. Ruined all of a sudden,--she did not say how,--some months after the death of her husband, she, who had been accustomed to all the comforts of opulence had seen herself reduced to poverty, and all its privations. Gradually, however, she had become reconciled to it, and taken up this habit of economizing with unflinching severity, and down to the smallest details. At present, she felt in these very privations a kind of secret satisfaction which results from the sense of having accomplished a duty,--a satisfaction all the greater, the harder the duty is. Still she could not get over the mystery which surrounded the lives of these two personages, whom fate, relenting at last, had placed in her way. What was the mystery in the past of this brother and sister? But fatigue soon made an end to her meditations, and confused her ideas; and, for the first time in two years, she fell asleep with a sense of perfect security; she slept peacefully, without starting at the slightest noise, without being troubled by silence, without wondering whether her enemies were watching her, without suspecting the very walls of her room.

When she awoke next morning, calm and refreshed, it was broad daylight, nearly ten o’clock; and a pale ray of the sun was playing over the polished furniture. When she opened her eyes, she saw the dealer’s sister standing at the foot of her bed, like a good genius who had been watching over her slumbers.

“Oh, how lazy I am!” she exclaimed with the hearty laugh of a child; for she felt quite at home in this little bedroom, where she had only spent a night; she felt as much at home here as in her father’s palace when her mother was still alive; and it seemed to her as if she had lived here many a year.

Absorbed in the happiness of the moment, she had forgotten every thing; and these few words brought her back to the reality of her position, and recalled to her the sufferings of the past and the uncertainty of the future. The good widow in the meantime assisted her in getting up; and they spent the day together in the little parlor, busily cutting out and making up a black silk dress for which Papa Ravinet had brought the material in the morning, and which was to take the place of Henrietta’s miserable, worn-out, alpaca dress. When the young girl had first seen the silk, she had remembered all the kind widow had told her of their excessive economy, and with difficulty only succeeded in checking her tears. The hospitality which you offer me must in itself be quite a heavy charge upon you. I should never forgive myself for becoming a source of still greater privations to such very kind friends.” But the old lady shook her head, and replied,-- “Don’t be afraid, child. They live in Peletier Street, in a modest apartment just above the office of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company.

They have only kept two servants,--Ernest, the count’s valet, and a certain Clarissa.” The name of the vile creature whose treachery had been one of the principal causes of Henrietta’s misfortunes did not strike her ear. “Yes!” Thus were the sad presentiments realized which she had felt when first she had heard Count Ville-Handry speak of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company. “My father ruined!” she repeated, as if she were unable to realize the precise meaning of these words. Six millions swallowed up in twelve months!--six millions!” And as the enormous amount seemed to be out of all proportion to the shortness of time, she said,-- “It cannot be. You must be mistaken, sir; they have misled you.” A smile of bitter irony passed over the old dealer’s lips. what I tell you is but too true; and, if you want proofs”-- He drew a newspaper from his pocket and handed it to Henrietta, pointing out to her on the first page an article marked with a red pencil. It was one of those financial sheets which arise every now and then, and which profess to teach the art of becoming rich in a very short time, without running any risk.

Do not trust new enterprises!’ “Out of a hundred enterprises which appear in the market, it may safely be said that sixty are nothing but the simplest kind of wells, into which the capital of foolhardy speculators is sunk almost instantly. Out of the remaining forty, twenty-five may be looked upon as suspicious enterprises, partaking too much of gambling speculations. Among the last fifteen even, a careful choice must be made before we find out the few that present safe guarantees.” The young girl paused, not understanding a word of all this stuff. But the old man said,-- “That is only the honey of the preface, the sweet syrup intended to conceal the bitterness of the medicine that is to follow. “All of our readers will have understood that we are speaking of the Franco-American Society of Pennsylvania Oil-Wells, which for the last eight days has been the subject of universal excitement. “On ‘Change the shares of a hundred dollars are quoted at 4-to-5.” Blinding tears prevented Henrietta from going on. “O God!” Then, mastering her weakness, she began once more to read,-- “And yet if ever any company seemed to offer all the material and moral guarantees which we can desire before risking our carefully saved earnings, this company presented them. “It had at its head a man who in his day was looked up to as a statesman endowed with rare administrative talents, and whose reputation as a man of sterling integrity seemed to lie above all suspicion. He was to bestow upon the country a new branch of industry. “It was especially brought into notice that the noble count’s personal fortune was nearly equal to the whole capital of the new company,--ten millions.

Hence he was risking his own money rather than the money of others. What remains of them all? “Who could have expected in our day a new edition of Law’s Mississippi Scheme?” The paper fell from the hands of the poor girl. The old man picked up the paper, and read from another article, below the lines which carried poison in every word, the following comments:-- “Two delegates of the stockholders of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company were to sail this morning from Brest for New York. “These gentlemen have been sent out by their fellow-sufferers to examine the lands on which the oil-wells are situated which constitute the only security of the shareholders. Certain people have gone so far as to doubt even the existence of such oil-wells.” And in another place, under the head of local items:-- “The palace of Count Ville-Handry was sold last week. This magnificent building, with the princely real estate belonging to it, was knocked down to the highest bidder for the sum of one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. “Nobody will believe such atrocious libels.” Pale and deeply grieved, Papa Ravinet and his sister exchanged looks of distress. Evidently the poor girl did not at all realize the terrible nature of the circumstances. Count Ville-Handry is ruined; and the shares of the company of which he is the president have fallen to five dollars, because”-- His voice changed, and he added in a very low tone,-- “Because it is believed that the capital of the company has been appropriated to other purposes, and lost in speculations on ‘Change.” The poor old dealer was suffering intensely, and showed it.

“Ah, madam, perfectly as I am convinced of Count Ville-Handry’s uprightness and integrity, I also know that he was utterly ignorant of business. What did he understand of these speculations into which he was drawn? It is a difficult and often a dangerous thing to manage large capitals. They have no doubt deceived him, cheated him, misled him, and driven him at last to the verge of bankruptcy.” “Who?” Papa Ravinet trembled on his chair, and, raising his hands to the ceiling, exclaimed,-- “Who? Why, those who had an interest in it, the wretches by whom he was surrounded,--Sarah, Sir Thorn”-- Henrietta shook her head and said,-- “I do not think the Countess Sarah looked with a favorable eye upon the formation of this company.” And, when objection was made, she went on,-- “Besides, what interest could she have in ruining my father? To ruin him was to ruin herself, since she was absolute mistress of her fortune, and free to dispose of it as she chose.” Proud of the accuracy of her decision, she was looking triumphantly at the old dealer. I told you: They say the capital of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company has been swallowed up by unlucky speculations on ‘Change. I am, on the contrary, convinced, I am quite sure even, that these millions were not lost on ‘Change, because they never were used for the purpose of speculating.” “Still”-- “Still they have disappeared, none the less; and your father is probably the last man in the world to tell us how and where they have disappeared. Brian; search Maxime de Brevan,’ the wretched tool of these wicked women!” Now at last a terrible light broke upon Henrietta’s mind.

From the day on which it was established, it was the aim and purpose of the founders to publish in it the articles which you haven’t read.” Even if she could not well understand by what ingenious combinations such enormous sums could be abstracted, Henrietta was conquered by Papa Ravinet’s sincere and earnest conviction. For the world, for the courts, the guilty one will be Count Ville-Handry.” “For the courts?” “Alas, yes!” The poor girl’s eyes went from the brother to the sister with a terrible expression of bewilderment. At last she asked,-- “And do you believe Sarah will allow my father’s name to be thus dishonored,--the name which she bears, and of which she was so proud?” “She will, perhaps, even insist upon it.” “Great God!

She touched the poor girl’s arm, and said in a subdued voice,-- “Because, you see, my poor child, now that Sarah has gotten possession of the fortune she wanted, your father is in her way; because, you see, she wants to be free--do you understand?--free!” Henrietta uttered a cry of such horror that both the brother and the sister saw at once that she had not misunderstood the horrible meaning of that word “free.” But, since the blow had fallen, the old dealer did not think the rest need be concealed from Henrietta. You see, I know, because I have experienced it myself, of what crimes she is capable; and I see clear in the dark night of her infernal intrigues.

I know that this woman with the chaste brow, the open smile, and the soft eyes, has the genius and the instinct of a murderess, and has never counted upon any thing else, but murder for the gratification of her lusts.” The attitude of the old man, who raised his head on high while his breast swelled, breathed in every one of his sharp and threatening gestures an intense thirst of vengeance. He no longer measured his words carefully; and they overflowed from his lips as they came boiling up under the pressure of his rage. He went on,-- “And now, madam, must I still explain to you the simple and yet formidable plan by which Sarah Brandon has succeeded in obtaining by one effort the immense fortune of the Ville-Handry family? From the first day, she has seen that you were standing between her and those millions; therefore she attacked you first of all.

Daniel Champcey, loved you; he would have protected you; therefore she got him out of the way.

The world might have become interested in you, might have taken your side; she beguiled your father, in his blind passion, to calumniate you, to ruin your reputation, and to expose you to the contempt of the world. She placed by your side her wretched tool, her spy, a forger, a criminal whom she knew to be able of doing things from which even an accomplished galley-slave would have shrunk with disgust and horror: I mean Maxime de Brevan.” The very excess, of eruption had restored a part of her energy to Henrietta.

have I not told you, on, the contrary, that Daniel himself had confided me to the care of M.

Nothing but the skill of M. de Brevan, kept informed of all your thoughts, of all your hopes, of every word you wrote to M. Champcey, and of all he said in reply; for you need not doubt he did answer, and they suppressed the letters, just as they, very probably, intercepted all of your letters which you did not yourself carry to the post-office. Still, as long as you were living under your father’s roof, Sarah could do nothing against your life. She resolved, therefore, to force you to flee; and those mean persecutions of M. Maxime had as little idea of marrying you as Sir Thomas; he was quite prepared, when he dared to approach you with open arms, to be rejected with disgust.

But he had received orders to add the horror of his persecutions to the horror of your isolation and your destitution.

that the secret of your sufferings would be well kept. He had carefully chosen the house in which you were to die of hunger and misery. Yes, these wretches thought they had now surely gotten rid of you, when I came in. Elgin asked, no doubt, full of hope, ‘Is it all over?’” Immovable, and white as marble, her eyes dilated beyond measure, and her lips half-open, poor Henrietta listened. She felt as if a bright ray of the sun had suddenly illumined the darkest depths of the abyss from which she had been barely snatched. “Yes,” she said, “yes; now I see it all.” Then, as the old dealer, out of breath, and his voice hoarse with indignation, paused a moment, she asked,-- “Still there is one circumstance which I cannot understand: Sarah insists upon it that she knew nothing of the forged letter by means of which Daniel was sent abroad. do not believe a word of those infamous stories,” broke in Papa Ravinet’s sister. Champcey!” And, as if he was afraid of having given rise to hopes which he founded upon this contingency, he added at once,-- “But let us return to facts.

When Sarah was sure of you, she turned her attention to your father.

While they were murdering you slowly, she abused the inexperience of Count Ville-Handry to lead him into a path at the end of which he could not but leave his honor behind him. That is a clear evidence of her crime. Thinking that she had gotten rid of you, she evidently said to herself, ‘And now for the father.’” Henrietta grew red in her face, as if a jet of fire had blazed up in it.

The proofs are coming out; the crime will be disclosed. And they dared all, sure as they were that that honorable man would carry the secret of their wickedness and of their unheard-of robbery with him to the grave.” Papa Ravinet leisurely wiped the perspiration from his brow. Then he replied in a hoarse voice,-- “Yes, that was probably, that was assuredly, the way Sarah Brandon reasoned within herself.” But Henrietta, full of admirable energy, had roused herself; and, with flushed cheeks and burning eyes, she said to him,-- “What! Ah, that was cruel cautiousness!” And quick like lightning she dashed forward, and would have rushed out, if the old lady had not promptly stepped in front of the door, saying,-- “Henrietta, poor child! where are you going?” “To save my father, madam, who, perhaps at this very moment is struggling in the last agonies of death, as I was struggling in like manner only two nights ago.” Quite beside herself, she had clasped the knob of the door in her hands, and tried with all the strength she still possessed to move the old lady out of the way. But Papa Ravinet seized her by the arm, and said to her solemnly,-- “Madam, I swear to you by all you hold sacred, and my sister will swear to you in like manner, that your father’s life is in no kind of danger.” She gave up the struggle; but her face bore the expression of the most harassing anxiety. Would you like to give warning to our enemies, to put them on their guard, and to deprive us of all hopes of revenge?” Henrietta almost mechanically passed her hand to and fro across her brow, as if she hoped she could thus restore peace to her mind. You cannot so far underrate the diabolical cunning of your enemy.

Why, she has no doubt taken all possible measures to keep your father’s faith in her unshaken, and to let him die as he has lived, completely deceived by her, and murmuring with his last breath words of supreme love for her who kills him.” These arguments were so overwhelming, that Henrietta let go the door- knob, and slowly went back to her seat by the fire. Do you not see that the whole power of this abominable creature lies in the fact that she employs means which are not within the reach of human justice. Yes, for long years I have been lying in wait, thirsting for vengeance, lost in darkness, but pursuing her tracks with the unwearied perseverance of the Indian. For the purpose of finding out who she is, and who her accomplices are, whence they came, and how they have met to plot together such fearful crimes,--for that purpose I have walked in the deepest mud, and stirred up heaps of infamy.

And yet in the whole life of Sarah Brandon,--a life of theft and murder,--I have till this moment not found a single fact which would bring her within the reach of the law, so cunning is her wickedness.” His face brightened with an air of triumph; and his voice rose high as he added,-- “But now! Eager to enjoy her millions, and, in proportion, weary of playing a comedy of love with your father, she has been too eager.

According to your mother’s marriage contract, and in consequence of a bequest of a million and a half which were left her by one of her uncles, your father’s estate is your debtor to the amount of two millions; and that sum is invested in mortgages on his estates in Anjou. It is Sarah’s interest that my father should live; and he will live, therefore, as long as she does not know whether I am dead or alive, in fact, as long as she does not know what has become of me.” “And she must not know that for some time,” chimed in the old man. Then laughing his odd, silent laugh,-- “You ought to see the anxiety of your enemies since you have slipped out of their hands.

The fellow has been spending the whole day in running from the police office to the Morgue, and back again. Destitute as you were, and almost without clothes, what could have become of you? He had in his hand a kind of carpet-bag; and his looks and gestures made him look almost insane. Champcey before anybody else can see him.” When his sister had given him notes to the amount of four hundred dollars, he rushed out, exclaiming,-- “To-morrow I will send you a telegram!” XXII. If there is in our civilized states a profession more arduous than others it is surely that of the sailor. Not because of the hazards, the fatigues, and the dangers connected with it, but because it creates an existence apart, and because the conditions it imposes seem to be incompatible with free will.

And by a kind of special grace they are apt to enjoy their short happiness as if it were for eternity, indifferent as to what the morning may bring.

one fine morning, all of a sudden, a big letter comes from the department. He must go, abandoning every thing and everybody,--mother, family, and friends, the wife he has married the day before, the young mother who sits smiling by the cradle of her first-born, the betrothed who was looking joyfully at her bridal veil. He must go, and stifle all those ominous voices which rise from the depth of his heart, and say to him, “Will you ever return? Such could not fail to be the scene also, when “The Conquest” sailed,--the ship on board of which Daniel Champcey had been ordered as lieutenant. Daniel suffered more than any other man on board, although he succeeded in affecting a certain air of indifference. The thought of Henrietta being left in the hands of adventurers who were capable of any thing was a thorn in his side, which caused him great and constant pain. As he gradually calmed down, and peace returned to his mind, a thousand doubts assailed him concerning Maxime de Brevan: would he not be exposed to terrible temptation when he found himself thrown daily into the company of a great heiress? “And I,” he thought, “who in my last directions urged her to trust implicitly in Maxime, and to follow his advice as if it were my own!” In the midst of these terrible anxieties, he hardly recollected that he had intrusted to Maxime every thing that he possessed. Thus it appeared to him a genuine favor of Providence when “The Conquest,” six days out at sea, experienced a violent storm, which endangered her safety for nearly seventy-two hours.

When he awoke, he was surprised to feel a certain peace of mind. A single hope now kept him alive,--the hope of soon receiving a letter from Henrietta, or, it might be, of finding one upon arriving at his destination; for it was by no means impossible for “The Conquest” to be outstripped by some vessel that might have left port three weeks later. “The Conquest,” an old wooden frigate, and a sailing vessel, justified her bad reputation of being the worst sailor in the whole fleet. To add to the discomfort, “The Conquest” was so crammed full with passengers, that sailors and officers had hardly half of the space usually allotted to them on board ship. Besides the crew, there were on board a half battalion of marines, and a hundred and sixty mechanics of various trades, whom government sent out for the use of the colony. Some of these artisans had their families with them, having determined to become settlers in Cochin China; others, generally quite young yet, only made the voyage in order to have an opportunity for seeing foreign lands, and for earning, perhaps, a little money. They were occasionally called upon to assist in handling the ship, and were, on the whole, good men, with the exception of four or five, who were so unruly that they had to be put in irons more than once. They ran up to him, and raised him up; but he gave no sign of life; and the blood poured forth from his mouth and nose in streams.

Daniel had won the hearts of the crew by his even temper, his strict attention to duty, and his kindness, when off duty, to all who came in contact with him. Hence, when the accident became known, in an instant sailors and officers came hurrying up from one end of the frigate to the other, and even from the lowest deck, to see what had happened to him. Still it must be a very grave matter, to judge from the large pool of blood which dyed the deck at the place where the young man had fallen down so suddenly.

They had carried him to the infirmary; and, as soon as he recovered his senses, the surgeons discovered the cause of his fall and his fainting. He had an enormous contused wound on the back of his head, a little behind the left ear,--a wound such as a heavy hammer in the hands of a powerful man might have produced. No one could explain this, neither the surgeons, nor the officers who stood around the bed of the wounded man. There had been no one standing near him; nor had he seen anybody come near him at the time of the accident; the blow, moreover, had been so violent, that he had fallen down unconscious. They were received with incredulous smiles, and, when they could no longer be held in doubt, with bursts of indignation.

Champcey had been struck in broad daylight, in the midst of the crew! The whole matter was so wrapped up in mystery, that it became all important to clear it up; and the sailors themselves opened at once a kind of court of inquest. Some hairs, and a clot of blood, which were discovered on an enormous block, seemed to explain the riddle.

It would seem that the rope to which this enormous block was fastened had slipped out of the hands of one of the sailors who were engaged in the rigging, carrying out the manoeuvre superintended by Daniel.

Frightened by the consequences of his awkwardness, but, nevertheless preserving his presence of mind, this man had, no doubt, drawn up the block so promptly, that he had not been noticed. Besides, what would be the use of it?

When, at the end of a fortnight, Champcey returned to duty, they ceased talking of the accident; unfortunately, such things happen but too frequently on board ship. And really, one fine evening, as the sun was setting, land was seen, and the next morning, at daybreak, the frigate sailed into the Dong-Nai, the king of Cochin Chinese rivers, which is so wide and so deep, that vessels of the largest tonnage can ascend it without difficulty till they reach Saigon. After a voyage of several months, he derived a melancholy pleasure from seeing the banks of the river overshadowed by mango trees and mangroves, with their supple, snakelike roots wandering far off under water; while on shore a soft, pleasant vegetation presented to the eye the whole range of shades in green, from the bluish, sickly green of the idrys to the dark, metallic green of the stenia. Farther inland, tall grapes, lianes, aloes, and cactus formed impenetrable thickets, out of which rose, like fluted columns, gigantic cocoa-palms, and the most graceful trees on earth, areca-palms.

Through clearings here and there, one could follow, as far as the eye reached, the course of low, fever-breeding marshes, an immense mud-plain covered with a carpet of undulating verdure, which opened and closed again under the breeze, like the sea itself. That is Saigon, is it?” said to Daniel a voice full of delight.

It was his best friend on board, a lieutenant like himself, who had come to his side, and, offering him a telescope, said with a great sigh of satisfaction,-- “Look! In two hours, Champcey, we shall be at anchor.” In the distance one could, in fact, make out upon the deep blue of the sky the profile of the curved roof of the pagodas in Saigon. It took a long hour yet, before, at a turn in the river, the town itself appeared, miserable looking,--with all deference to our geographies, be it said,--in spite of the immense labor of the French colony. Saigon consists mainly of one wide street running parallel with the right bank of the Dong-Nai, a primitive, unpaved street cut up into ruts, broken in upon by large empty spaces, and lined with wooden houses covered with rice-straw or palm-leaves. Thousands of boats crowd against the banks of the river along this street, and form a kind of floating suburb, overflowing with a strange medley of Annamites, Hindoos, and Chinamen. At a little distance from the river, there appear a few massive buildings with roofs of red tiles, pleasing to the eye, and here and there an Annamite farm, which seems to hide behind groups of areca-palms. Finally, on an eminence, rise the citadel, the arsenal, the house of the French commander, and the former dwelling of the Spanish colonel.

But every town is beautiful, where we land after a voyage of several months. Hence, as soon as “The Conquest” was safely at anchor, all the officers, except the midshipman on duty, went on shore, and hastened to the government house to ask if letters from France had arrived there before them. Two three-masters, one French, the other English, which had sailed a month later than “The Conquest,” had arrived there at the beginning of the week, bringing despatches. There were two letters for Daniel, and with feverish hands and beating heart he took them from the hand of the old clerk. One of the letters was signed, “Maxime de Brevan;” the other, “Countess Ville-Handry,” nee Sarah Brandon. After informing him of her marriage, Sarah described at great length Henrietta’s conduct on the wedding-day. They think I have reached the summit of my wishes. I have never been more wretched.” This letter made Daniel utter an exclamation of rage. The surprising part was, that Brevan did not say a word of the large amounts that had been intrusted to his care, nor of his method of selling the lands, nor of the price which he had obtained. “Why should she not have written,” he thought, “when all the others found means to write?” Overwhelmed with disappointment, he had sat down on a wooden bench in the embrasure of one of the windows in the hall where the letters were distributed.

Travelling across the vast distance which separated him from France, his thoughts were under the trees in the garden of the count’s palace.

He felt as if a powerful effort of his will would enable him to transport himself thither. By the pale light of the moon he thought he could discern the dress of his beloved as she stole towards him between the old trees. Four or five officers from “The Conquest” were standing around him, gay, and free from cares, a hearty laugh on their lips. “Well, my dear Champcey,” they said, “are you coming?” “Where?” “Why, to dinner!” And as he looked at them with the air of a man who had just been roused, and has not had time to collect his thoughts, they went on,-- “Well, to dinner. He trembled at the idea of being torn from his melancholy reveries, of being compelled to take his part in conversation, to talk, to listen, to reply. I must return on board.” Then only, the others were struck by the sad expression of his face; and, changing their tone, they asked him in the most affectionate manner,-- “What is the matter, Champcey? Have you heard of any misfortune, any death?” “No.” “You have had letters from France, I see.” “They bring me nothing sad.

At the door of the government house he parted with his comrades, and went back, sad and solitary, towards the harbor. He reached without difficulty the banks of the Dong-Nai; but here obstacles presented themselves of which he had not thought. The night was so dark, that he could hardly see to find his way along a wharf in process of construction, and covered with enormous stones and timber. In spite of his efforts to pierce this darkness, he could discern nothing but the dark outline of the vessels lying at anchor in the river, and the light of the lighthouse as it trembled in the current. The silence, which was as deep as the darkness, was broken only by the low wash of the river as it flowed down rapidly. “I am quite capable,” thought Daniel, “of not finding the boat of ‘The Conquest.’” Still he did find it, after long search, drawn up, and half lost, in a crowd of native boats. It was only when he got into it, that he discovered a little midshipman fast asleep in the bottom, wrapped up in a carpet which was used to cover the seats for the officers. Quite awake now, the midshipman, who had good eyes, had noticed, in spite of the darkness, the gold of the epaulets. When all the officers had gone on shore, they told the boatswain they would not come back very soon, and he might take his time to eat a mouthful, and to drink a glass, provided the men did not get drunk.” That was so; and Daniel had forgotten the fact.

And jumping on shore, without uttering a word of disappointment, he was going in search of his comrades, when he saw suddenly a man turn up out of the darkness, whose features it was impossible to distinguish. Officer,” answered the man in an almost unintelligible jargon, a horrible medley of French, Spanish, and English. In all ports of the world, and at any hour of the day or the night, men are to be found who are lying in wait on the wharves for sailors who have been belated, and who are made to pay dear for such extra services. Officer, a little way down; just follow me.

But what ship do you want to go to?” “That ship there.” And Daniel pointed out to him “The Conquest” as she lay not six hundred yards off in the river, showing her lights. “That is rather far,” grumbled the man; “the tide is low; and the current is very strong.” “I’ll give you a couple of francs for your trouble.” The man clapped his hands with delight, and said,-- “Ah! Officer, a little farther down. Get in, now steady!” Daniel followed his directions; but he was so much struck by the man’s awkwardness in getting the boat off, that he could not help saying to him,-- “Ah, my boy, you are not a boatman, after all!” “I beg pardon, sir; I used to be one before I came to this country.” “What is your country?” “Shanghai.” “Nevertheless, you will have to learn a great deal before you will ever be a sailor.” Still, as the boat was very small, a mere nutshell, in fact, Daniel thought he could, if needs be, take an oar himself. Thanks to a shock, a wrong movement, or any other accident, the boat upset, and Daniel was thrown into the river; and, to fill the measure of his mishaps, one of his feet was so closely jammed in between the seat and the boat itself, that he was paralyzed in his movements, and soon under water. Gathering, by one supreme effort, all his strength and energy, he took hold of the boat, that had turned over just above him, and pushed it so forcibly, that he loosened his foot, and at the same moment reached the surface. “Now,” he thought, “I have a chance to escape!” A very frail chance, alas!--so small a chance, in fact, that it required all the strong will and the invincible courage of Daniel to give it any effect. What had become of the boatman, however?

Had he been swept off? But all of a sudden Daniel’s heart trembled with joy and hope.

He nearly touched it; and then, with incredible presence of mind, and great precision, at the moment when the current drove him close up to the anchor-chain, he seized it. He held on to it; and, having recovered his breath, he uttered three times in succession, with all the strength of his lungs, so sharp a cry, that it was heard above the fierce roar of the river,-- “Help, help, help!” From the ship came a call, “Hold on!” proving to him that his appeal had been heard, and that help was at hand. An eddy in the terrible current seized him, and, with irresistible violence, tore the chain, slippery with mud, out of his stiffened hands. Rolled over by the waters, he was rudely thrown against the side of the vessel, went under, and was carried off. Daniel could now count only upon himself in trying to make one of the banks.

But his clothes encumbered him terribly; and the water which they soaked up made them, of course, every moment more oppressive. “I shall be drowned, most assuredly,” he thought, “if I cannot get rid of my clothes.” Excellent swimmer as he was, the task was no easy one. After prodigious efforts of strength and skill, he got rid of his shoes; and then he cried out, as if in defiance of the blind element against which he was struggling,-- “I shall pull through! I shall see Henrietta again!” But it had cost him an enormous amount of time to undress; and how could he calculate the distance which this current had taken him down--one of the swiftest in the world? As he tried to recall all he knew about it, he remembered having noticed that, a mile below Saigon, the river was as wide as a branch of the sea. “Never mind,” he said to himself, “I mean to get out of this.” Not knowing to which bank he was nearest, he had resolved, almost instinctively, to swim towards the right bank, on which Saigon stands. He was thus swimming for about half an hour, and began already to feel his muscles stiffening, and his joints losing their elasticity, while his breathing became oppressed, and his extremities were chilled, when he noticed from the wash of the water that he was near the shore. His presence of mind now began to leave him, as well as his strength; and his thoughts became confused, when he touched, instinctively feeling for a hold, the root of a mangrove. That root might be the saving of his life. First he tried its strength; then, finding it sufficiently solid, he hoisted himself up by it, gently, but with the frenzied energy of a drowning man; then, creeping cautiously on the treacherous mud, he finally succeeded in reaching firm ground, and fell down exhausted.

He was saved from drowning; but what was to become of him, naked, exhausted, chilled as he was, and lost in this dark night in a strange and deserted country? “Well,” he said, “I must stay here till day breaks.” The rest of the night he spent in walking up and down, and beating his chest, in order to keep out the terrible chills which penetrated to the very marrow of his bones.

The first light of dawn showed him how he was imprisoned within an apparently impenetrable thicket, out of which, it seemed, he could never find his way.

He did find it, however, and after a walk of four hours, he reached Saigon.

Some sailors of a merchant-ship, whom he met, lent him a few clothes, and carried him on board “The Conquest,” where he arrived more dead than alive. For, in the midst of all the frightful sufferings he had undergone during the past night, he had reflected deeply. That block which had fallen on his head, no one knew whence; this boat sinking suddenly, and without apparent cause--were they the work of chance alone? The awkwardness of the boatman who had so unexpectedly turned up to offer him his services had filled his mind with strange doubts. To begin, he asked for a list of all the men who had been allowed to go on shore the night before. He learned in reply, that only the crews of the different boats had been at Saigon, but that all the emigrants having been allowed to land, several of these men had also gone on shore. With this information, and in spite of his great weakness, Daniel went to the chief of police at Saigon, and asked him for an officer. With this agent he went to the wharf, to the spot where the boat of “The Conquest” had been lying the night before, and asked him to make inquiries there as to any boatman that might have disappeared during the night. None of the boatmen was missing; but they brought Daniel a poor Annamite fellow, who had been wandering about the river-bank ever since early morning, tearing his hair, and crying that he had been robbed; that they had stolen his boat.

Daniel had been unable the night before to distinguish the form or the dress of the man whose services he had accepted; but he had heard his voice, and he recalled the peculiar intonation so perfectly, that he would have recognized it among thousands.

Besides, this poor devil did not know a word of French (more than ten persons bore witness to it); and born on the river, and having always lived there, he was an excellent sailor. He felt henceforth this terrible certainty, that war had been declared against him, a savage warfare, merciless, pitiless, a war of treachery and cunning, of snare and ambush. It had been proved to him that at his side, so to say, as his very shadow, there was ever a terrible enemy, stimulated by the thirst of gain, watching all his steps, ever awake and on the watch, and ready to seize the first opportunity to strike. The infernal cunning of the first two attempts enabled Daniel to measure the superior wickedness of the man who had been chosen and enlisted--at least Daniel thought so--by Sarah Brandon.

Still he did not say a word of the danger to which he was exposed, and even assumed, as soon as he had recovered from the first shock, a certain cheerfulness which he had not shown during the whole voyage, and under which he concealed his apprehensions. He never put one foot before the other, so to say, without first having examined the ground; he never seized a man-rope without having first tried its solidity; he had made it a law to eat and drink nothing, not even a glass of water, but what came from the officers’ table. But he also thought not only of defending himself, but of getting at the assassin, and, through him, at the infamous creature by whom he was employed, Sarah Brandon. He had, for instance, ascertained that none but the crews of the boats had been on shore, and that, of these, not one had been for ten minutes out of sight of the others. Hence the pretended boatman was not a sailor on board “The Conquest.” Nor could it have been one of the marines, as none of them had been allowed to leave the vessel. There remained the emigrants, fifty or sixty of whom had spent the night in Saigon.

But was not the idea that one of these men might have led Daniel into the trap contradicted by the circumstances of the first attempt? By no means; for many of the younger men among these emigrants had asked permission to help in the working of the ship in order to break the monotony of the long voyage. After careful inquiry, Daniel ascertained even that four of them had been with the sailors on the yards from which the heavy block fell that came so near ending his life. He could breathe again on board ship; he went and came in all safety, since he was sure that the guilty man was not one of the crew.

He even felt real and great relief at the thought that his would-be assassin was not to be looked for among these brave and frank sailors; none of them, at least, had been bribed with gold to commit a murder. Moreover, the limits of his investigations had now narrowed down in such a manner, that he might begin to hope for success in the end. Daniel had therefore, at least for the moment, to give up a plan he had formed, to talk with every one of them until he should recognize the voice of the false boatman. After a first expedition, which kept him away for two months, he obtained command of a steam-sloop, which was ordered to explore and to take all the bearings of the River Kamboja, from the sea to Mitho, the second city of Cochin China. This was no easy task; for the Kamboja had already defeated the efforts of several hydrographic engineers by its capricious and constant changes, every pass and every turn nearly changing with the monsoons in direction and depth. The Kamboja is not only obstructed by foul swamps; but it flows through vast marshy plains, which, in the season of rains, are covered with water; while in the dry season, under the burning rays of the sun, they exhale that fatal malaria which has cost already thousands of valuable lives.

In less than a week after he had set out, he saw three of the men who had been put under his orders die before his eyes, after a few hours’ illness, and amid atrocious convulsions. And towards the end of the expedition, when the work was nearly done, the survivors were so emaciated, that they had hardly strength enough to hold themselves up. He had told Sarah Brandon on the eve of his departure,-- “With a love like mine, with a hatred like mine, in the heart, one can defy all things. The murderous climate is not going to harm me; and, if I had six balls in my body, I should still find strength enough to come and call you to account for what you have done to Henrietta before I die.” He certainly had had need of all that dauntless energy which passion inspires to sustain him in his trials. At night, while his men were asleep, he kept awake, his heart torn with anguish, now crushed under the thought of his helplessness, and now asking himself if rage would not deprive him of his reason. If Henrietta had died, Daniel would have been crushed; and maybe despair would have driven him to extreme measures; but he would have been relieved of that horrible struggle within him, between his faith in the promises of his beloved and certain suspicions, which caused his hair to stand on end. The Countess Ville-Handry cannot forget it.” Under the most indifferent words there seemed to palpitate and to struggle a passion which was but partially restrained, and ever on the point of breaking forth. Her letters read like the conversations of timid lovers, who talk about the rain and the weather in a tone of voice trembling with desire, and with looks burning with passion. “Could she really be in love with me?” Daniel thought, “and could that be her punishment?” Then, again, swearing, like the roughest of his men, he added,-- “Am I to be a fool forever?

She is evidently preparing for her defence, in case the rascal who attempted my life should be caught, and compromise her by his confessions.” Every letter; moreover, brought from the Countess Sarah some news about his betrothed, her “stepdaughter.” But she always spoke of her with extreme reserve and reticence, and in ambiguous terms, as if counting upon Daniel’s sagacity to guess what she could not or would not write. The coquettish ways of the young girl became quite alarming; and her indiscretion provoked the gossip of visitors. “She lies, the wretch!” said Daniel; “yes, she lies!” But he tried in vain to resist; every letter from Sarah brought him the germ of some new suspicion, which fermented in his mind as the miasma fermented in the veins of his men. The information furnished by Maxime de Brevan was different, and often contradictory even, but by no means more reassuring. His letters portrayed the perplexity and the hesitation of a man who is all anxiety to soften hard truths. According to him, the Countess Sarah and Miss Ville-Handry did not get on well with each other; but he declared he was bound to say that the wrong was all on the young lady’s side, who seemed to make it the study of her life to mortify her step-mother, while the latter bore the most irritating provocations with unchanging sweetness. He finally added that he foresaw the moment when she would leave her father’s house in spite of all his advice to the contrary. “And not one line from her,” exclaimed Daniel,--“not one line!” And he wrote her letter after letter, beseeching her to answer him, whatever might be the matter, and to fear nothing, as the certainty even of a misfortune would be a blessing to him in comparison with this torturing uncertainty. He wrote without imagining for a moment that Henrietta suffered all the torments he endured, that their letters were intercepted, and that she had no more news of him than he had of her. Daniel returned to Saigon, bringing back with him one of the finest hydrographic works that exist on Cochin China.

It was well known that this work had cost an immense outlay of labor, of privations, and of life; hence he was rewarded as if he had won a battle, and he was rewarded instantly, thanks to special powers conferred upon his chief, reserving only the confirmation in France, which was never refused. All the survivors of the expedition were mentioned in public orders and in the official report; two were decorated; and Daniel was promoted to officer of the Legion of Honor. The fact was, that these long trials had worn out the elasticity of his heart; and the sources of joy, as well as the sources of sorrow, had dried up. There were moments in which he looked lovingly at his pistols, and said to himself,-- “Why should I not spare Sarah Brandon the trouble?” What kept his hand back was the leaven of hatred which still rose in him at times. His superiority was so evident, that none disputed it; they might envy him; but they could never be jealous of him. Some of them thought he had brought back with him from Kamboja the germ of one of those implacable diseases which demoralize the strongest, and which break out suddenly, carrying a man off in a few hours.

“Come, for Heaven’s sake shake off that sadness, which might make an end of you before you are aware of it!” And jestingly they added,-- “Decidedly, you regret the banks of the Kamboja!” They thought it a jest: it was the truth. Daniel did regret even the worst days of his mission. At that time his grave responsibility, overwhelming fatigues, hard work, and daily danger, had procured him at least some hours of oblivion. It was the desire, the necessity almost, of escaping in some manner from himself, which made him accept an invitation to join a number of his comrades who wanted to try the charms of a great hunting party. On the morning of the expedition, however, he had a kind of presentiment. As if a life like mine was worth the trouble of protecting it against danger!” When they arrived on the following day on the hunting ground, he, as well as the other hunters, received their instructions, and had their posts assigned them by the leader. He found himself placed between two of his comrades, in front of a thicket, and facing a narrow ravine, through which all the game must necessarily pass as it was driven down by a crowd of Annamites.

They hurried up to catch him; but he fell, face forward, to the ground, saying aloud, and very distinctly,-- “This time they have not missed me!” At the outcry raised by the two neighbors of Daniel, other hunters had hastened up, and among them the chief surgeon of “The Conquest,” one of those old “pill-makers,” who, under a jovial scepticism, and a rough, almost brutal outside, conceal great skill and an almost feminine tenderness. As soon as he looked at the wounded man, whom his friends had stretched out on his back, making a pillow of their overcoats, and who lay there pale and inanimate, the good doctor frowned, and growled out,-- “He won’t live.” The officers were thunderstruck. “Poor Champcey!” said one of them, “to escape the Kamboja fevers, and to be killed here at a pleasure party! Do you recollect, doctor, what you said on the occasion of his second accident,--‘Mind the third’?” The old doctor did not listen. He had knelt down, and rapidly stripped the coat off Daniel’s back. The doctor rose slowly, and, while carefully dusting the knees of his trousers, he said,-- “All things considered, I would not bet that he may not escape. “Projectiles often take curious turns and twists.

Let one of you gentlemen tell the sailors who have come with us to make a litter of branches.” The noise of a struggle, of fearful oaths and inarticulate cries, interrupted his orders. Some fifteen yards off, below the place where Daniel had fallen, two sailors were coming out of the thicket, their faces red with anger, dragging out a man with a wretched gun, who hurled out,-- “Will you let me go, you parcel of good-for-nothings! Let me go, or I’ll hurt you!” He was so furiously struggling in the arms of the two sailors, clinging with an iron grip to roots and branches and rocks, turning and twisting at every step, that the men at last, furious at his resistance, lifted him up bodily, and threw him at the chief surgeon’s feet, exclaiming,-- “Here is the scoundrel who has killed our lieutenant!” It was a man of medium size, with a dejected air, and lack-lustre eyes, wearing a mustache and chin-beard, and looking impudent. His costume was that of an Annamite of the middle classes,--a blouse buttoned at the side, trousers made in Chinese style, and sandals of red leather. “Where did you find him?” asked the surgeon of the men. “Down there, commandant, behind that big bush, to the right of Lieut. When we saw him, he was lying flat on the ground, trembling with fear; and we said at once, ‘Surely, there is the man who fired that shot.’” The man had, in the meantime, raised himself, and assumed an air of almost provoking assurance. “Yes, they lie, the cowards!” This insult would have procured him a sound drubbing, but for the old surgeon, who held the arm of the first sailor who made the attack.

I was not invited to your hunting party, to be sure; but I am fond of game; and I said to myself, ‘Even if I were to shoot two or three head out of the hundreds their drivers will bring down, I would do them no great harm.’” The doctor let him talk on for some time, observing him closely with his sagacious eye; then, all of a sudden, he broke in, saying,-- “Give me your gun!” The man turned so visibly pale, that all the officers standing around noticed it.

It’s a gun one of my friends has lent me.” The doctor examined the weapon very carefully; and, after having inspected the lock, he said,-- “Both barrels of your gun are empty; and they have not been emptied more than two minutes ago.” “That is so; I fired both barrels at an animal that passed me within reach.” “One of the balls may have gone astray.” “That cannot be. I was aiming in the direction of the prairie; and, consequently, I was turning my back to the place where the officer was standing.” To the great surprise of everybody, the doctor’s face, ordinarily crafty enough, now looked all benevolent curiosity,--so much so, that the two sailors who had captured the man were furious, and said aloud,-- “Ah! don’t believe him, commandant, the dirty dog!” But the man, evidently encouraged by the surgeon’s apparent kindliness, asked,-- “Am I to be allowed to defend myself, or not?” And then he added in a tone of supreme impudence,-- “However, whether I defend myself or not, it will, no doubt, be all the same. if I were only a sailor, or even a marine, that would be another pair of sleeves; they would hear me! Wrong or right, as soon as they are accused, they are convicted.” The doctor seemed to have made up his mind; for he interrupted this flow of words, saying in his kindest voice,-- “Calm yourself, my friend. Yes, it may be I who have hit the officer. Such accidents happen every day in hunting; the papers are full of them. He now ordered the two sailors who had arrested the man, to make sure of him, to bind him, and carry him to Saigon to prison. One of the gentlemen, he said, would write a few lines, which they must take with them. In less than twenty minutes, and with that marvellous skill which is one of the characteristic features of good sailors, a solid litter had been constructed; the bottom formed a real mattress of dry leaves; and overhead a kind of screen had been made of larger leaves.

When they put Daniel in, the pain caused him to utter a low cry of pain. This was the first sign of life he had given. And bear in mind, if you shake the lieutenant, he is a dead man.” It was hardly eight in the morning when the melancholy procession started homeward; and it was not until between two and three o’clock on the next morning that it entered Saigon, under one of those overwhelming rains which give one an idea of the deluge, and of which Cochin China has the monopoly. The sailors who carried the litter on which Daniel lay had walked eighteen hours without stopping, on footpaths which were almost impassable, and where every moment a passage had to be cut through impenetrable thickets of aloes, cactus, and jack-trees. Several times the officers had offered to take their places; but they had always refused, relieving each other, and taking all the time as ingenious precautions as a mother might devise for her dying infant. Although, therefore, the march lasted so long, the dying man felt no shock; and the old doctor said, quite touched, to the officers who were around him,-- “Good fellows, how careful they are! You might have put a full glass of water on the litter, and they would not have spilled a drop.” Yes, indeed! Good people, rude and rough, no doubt, in many ways, coarse sometimes, and even brutal, bad to meet on shore the day after pay-day, or coming out from a drinking-shop, but keeping under the rough outside a heart of gold, childlike simplicity, and the sacred fire of noblest devotion. Two officers who had hastened in advance had ordered a room to be made ready.

Daniel was carried there; and when he had been gently put on a white, good bed, officers and sailors withdrew into an adjoining room to await the doctor’s sentence. Daniel had recovered his consciousness during the journey, and had even spoken a few words to those around him, but incoherent words, the utterance of delirium.

They had questioned him once or twice; but his answers had shown that he had no consciousness of the accident which had befallen him, nor of his present condition; so that the general opinion among the sailors who were waiting, and who all had more or less experience of shot-wounds, was, that fever would carry off their lieutenant before sunrise. The old surgeon had just appeared at the door of the sick-chamber; and, with a pleasant and hopeful smile on his lips, he said,-- “Our poor Champcey is doing as well as could be expected; and I would almost be sure of his recovery, if the great heat was not upon us.” And, silencing the murmur of satisfaction which arose among them at this good news, he went on to say,-- “Because, after all, serious as the wound is, it is nothing in comparison with what it might have been; and what is more, gentlemen, I have the corpus delicti.” He raised in the air, as he said this, a spherical ball, which he held between his thumb and forefinger. “Another instance,” he said, “to be added to those mentioned by our great masters of surgery, of the oddities of projectiles. This one, instead of pursuing its way straight through the body of our poor friend, had turned around the ribs, and gone to its place close by the vertebral column.

There I found it, almost on the surface; and nothing was needed to dislodge it but a slight push with the probe.” The shot-gun taken from the hands of the murderer had been deposited in a corner of the large room: they brought it up, tried the ball, and found it to fit accurately.

“Now we have a tangible proof,” exclaimed a young ensign, “an unmistakable proof, that the wretch whom our men have caught is Daniel’s murderer. Don’t let us be over-hasty in accusing a poor fellow of such a fearful crime, when, perhaps, he is guilty only of imprudence.” “O doctor, doctor!” protested half a dozen voices. Don’t let us be hasty, I say; and let us consider, For an assassination there must be a motive, and an all-powerful motive; for, aside from the scaffold which he risks, no man is capable of killing another man solely for the purpose of shedding his blood. But, before a man makes up his mind to shoot even the man he hates like a dog, he must have been cruelly offended by him; and, to bring this about, he must have been in contact, or must have stood in some relation to him. He knew him perfectly well.” The man who interrupted the doctor was one of the sailors to whom the prisoner had been intrusted to carry him to prison. He came forward, twisting his worsted cap in his hands; and, when the old surgeon had ordered him to speak, he said,-- “Yes, the rascal knew the lieutenant as well as I know you, commandant; and the reason of it is, that the scoundrel was one of the emigrants whom we brought here eighteen months ago.” “Are you sure of what you say?” “As sure as I see you, commandant. At first my comrade and I did not recognize him, because a year and a half in this wretched country disfigure a man horribly; but, while we were carrying him to jail, we said to one another, ‘That is a head we have seen before.’ Then we made him talk; and he told us gradually, that he had been one of the passengers, and that he even knew my name, which is Baptist Lefloch.” This deposition of the sailor made a great impression upon all the bystanders, except the old doctor. It is true he was looked upon, on board “The Conquest,” as one of the most obstinate men in holding on to his opinions. “Do you know,” he asked the sailor, “if this man was one of the four or five who had to be put in irons during the voyage?” “No, he was not one of them, commandant.” “Did he ever have anything to do with Lieut.

that is more than I can tell.” The old doctor slightly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a tone of indifference,-- “You see, gentlemen, this deposition is too vague to prove anything. The doctor was getting ready to lie down on a bed which he had ordered to be put up in a room adjoining that in which the wounded man was lying, when an officer came in. It was one of those who had been standing near Champcey; he, also, was a lieutenant.

And Saint Edme, who was farther from him than I was, heard it as distinctly as I did.” To the great surprise of the lieutenant, the chief surgeon seemed only moderately surprised; his eyes, on the contrary, shone with that pleased air of a man who congratulates himself at having foreseen exactly what he now is told was the fact. He drew a chair up to the fireplace, in which a huge fire had been kindled to dry his clothes, sat down, and said,-- “Do you know, my dear lieutenant, that what you tell me is a matter of the greatest importance?

“Well, I,” he continued slowly, “I had a very clear presentiment of all that as soon as I looked at the murderer. Do you remember the man’s amazing impudence as long as he thought he could not be convicted of the crime? And then, when he found that the calibre of his gun betrayed him, how abject, how painfully humble, he became! Evidently such a man is capable of anything.” “Oh! After what you tell me, I am sure.” He seized the lieutenant’s hand; and, pressing it almost painfully, he went on,-- “Yes, I am ready to take my oath that this wretch is the vile tool of people who hate or fear Daniel Champcey; who are deeply interested in his death; and who, being too cowardly to do their own business, are rich enough to hire an assassin.” The lieutenant was evidently unable to follow.

They will vanish before you can put out your hand to seize them.” “Champcey might be questioned; perhaps he could furnish some information.” But the doctor rose, and stopped him with an air of fury,-- “Question my patient! He probably has the same reasons for keeping silence now that he had then.” Then, without noticing the officer’s objections, he added,-- “At all events, I will think it over, and go and see the judges as soon as they are out of bed.

He felt as if this crime was the result of some terrible but mysterious intrigue; and the very fact of having, as he fancied, raised a corner of the veil, made him burn with the desire to draw it aside altogether. “Why,” he said to himself, “why might not the scamp whom we hold be the author of the other two attempts likewise? The man, once engaged, might easily have been put on board ‘The Conquest;’ and he might have left France saying to himself that it would be odd indeed, if during a long voyage, or in a land like this, he did not find a chance to earn his money without running much risk.” The result of his meditations was, that the chief surgeon appeared, at nine o’clock, at the office of the state attorney. When they entered, they found him seated on his bed, his heels on the bars, and his chin in the palm of his hands. As soon as he saw the surgeon, he jumped up, and with outstretched arms and rolling eyes, exclaimed,-- “The officer has died!” “No,” replied the surgeon, “no!

Still he promptly mastered this weakness of the flesh; and falling on his knees, with folded hands, he murmured in the most dramatic manner,-- “Then I am not a murderer! It was evidently a case of coarsest hypocrisy; for his looks contradicted his words and his voice. Your profession?” The man hesitated.

I was tired of Paris. “Come, make an effort; try to remember.” “I know I cannot; it is not worth the trouble.” “Well; but no doubt you recollect the profession of the man who knew so well that government wanted men in Cochin China? Besides, what have I to do with my friend’s name and profession?

I called at the navy department, they engaged me; and that is all.” Standing quietly in one of the corners of the cell, the old chief surgeon lost not a word, not a gesture, of the murderer. And he could hardly refrain from rubbing his hands with delight as he noticed the marvellous skill of the magistrate in seizing upon all those little signs, which, when summed up at the end of an investigation, form an overwhelming mass of evidence against the criminal. Farniol, the owner of the French restaurant, offered me a place as waiter. Of course I accepted, and stayed there a year. And where do you live?” “At the Hotel de France, of course, where I am employed.” The magistrate’s face looked more and more benevolent. You have been now eighteen months in Saigon; no doubt you have laid up something?” The man looked troubled and amazed, as if he had suddenly found out that the apparent benevolence of the magistrate had led him upon slippery and dangerous ground. How much about have you saved?” Bagnolet’s looks, and the tremor of his lips, showed the rage that was devouring him. The magistrate made a gesture of surprise which was admirable. Only it is my duty to show you the effect of your declaration. Now, what would you say, if, upon search being made, the police should find a certain sum of money on your person or elsewhere?” “They won’t find any.” “So much the better for you; for, after what you said, it would be a terrible charge.” “Let them search.” “They are doing it now, and not only in your room, but also elsewhere.

They will soon know if you have invested any money, or if you have deposited it with any of your acquaintances.” “I may have brought some money with me from home.” “No; for you have told me that you could no longer live in Paris, finding no work.” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, made such a sudden and violent start, that the surgeon thought he was going to attack the magistrate. He felt he had been caught in a net the meshes of which were drawing tighter and tighter around him; and these apparently inoffensive questions assumed suddenly a terrible meaning.

You need not consider in order to tell the truth.” And, as the man remained obstinately silent, the magistrate began again after a pause, saying,-- “You know what you are accused of? How did you hear that the officers of ‘The Conquest’ had arranged a large hunting-party?” “I had heard them speak of it at table d’hote.” “And you left your service in order to attend this hunt, some twelve miles from Saigon? That is certainly singular.” “Not at all; for I am very fond of hunting. And then I thought, if I could bring back a large quantity of game, I would probably be able to sell it very well.” “And you would have added the profit to your other savings, wouldn’t you?” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, was stung by the point of this ironical question, as if he had received a sharp cut.

But, as he said nothing, the magistrate continued,-- “Explain to us how the thing happened.” On this ground the murderer knew he was at home, having had ample time to get ready; and with an accuracy which did great honor to his memory, or to his veracity, he repeated what he had told the surgeon on the spot, and at the time of the catastrophe. And as he continued his account, warming up with its plausibility, he recovered the impudence, or rather the insolence, which seemed to be the prominent feature of his character. “Do you know the officer whom you have wounded?” asked the magistrate when he had finished. “Of course, I do, as I have made the voyage with him. Champcey.” “Have you any complaint against him?” “None at all.” Then he added in a tone of bitterness and resentment,-- “What relations do you think could there be between a poor devil like myself and a great personage like him? If I know him, it is only because I have seen him, from afar off, walk the quarter-deck with the other officers, a cigar in his mouth, after a good meal, while we in the forecastle had our salt fish, and broke our teeth with worm-eaten hard-tack.” “So you had no reason to hate him?” “None; as little as anybody else.” Seated upon a wretched little footstool, his paper on his knees, an inkhorn in his hand, the clerk was rapidly taking down the questions and the answers. I am bound to tell you, that, having so far only kept you as a matter of precaution, I shall issue now an order for your arrest.” “You mean I am to be put in jail?” “Yes, until the court shall decide whether you are guilty of murder, or of involuntary homicide.” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, seemed to have foreseen this conclusion: at least he coolly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a hoarse voice,-- “In that case I shall have my linen changed pretty often here; for, if I had been wicked enough to plot an assassination, I should not have been fool enough to say so.” “Who knows?” replied the magistrate. And I mean to get that person’s name out of him, if M. If the old original was inexorable, as they said on board ship, for those lazy ones who pretended to be sick for the purpose of shirking work, he was all tenderness for his real patients; and his tenderness grew with the seriousness of their danger. He would not have hesitated a moment between an admiral who was slightly unwell, and the youngest midshipman of the fleet who was dangerously wounded.

Unfortunately, Daniel’s condition was one of those which defy all professional skill, and where all hope depends upon time, nature, and constitution. At times he thought he was on board his sloop in the swamps of the Kamboja; but most frequently he imagined himself fighting against enemies bent upon his ruin. The names of Sarah Brandon, Mrs.

Not one of those noble daughters of divine wisdom, whom we meet in every part of the globe, wherever there is a sick man to nurse, could have been more patient, more attentive, or more ingenious, than this common sailor. He had put off his shoes, so as to walk more softly; and he came and went on tiptoe, his face full of care and anxiety, preparing draughts, and handling with his huge bony hands, with laughable, but almost touching precautions, the small phials out of which he had to give a spoonful to his patient at stated times. “I’ll have you appointed head nurse of the navy, Lefloch,” said the old surgeon.

Only, you see, when we were down there on the Kamboja, and Baptist Lefloch was writhing like a worm in the grip of the cholera, and when he was already quite blue and cold, Lieut.

Champcey did not send for one of those lazy Annamites to rub him, he came himself, and rubbed him till he brought back the heat and life itself. It was thus he learned a part, at least, of Daniel’s history,--that he was to marry a daughter of Count Ville- Handry, who himself had married an adventuress; and that they had separated him from his betrothed by a forged letter. But the worthy surgeon was too deeply impressed with the dignity of his profession to divulge secrets which he had heard by the bedside of a patient. I am sorry for it, for the sake of Evariste Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, who must be tired of prison; but he must wait.” In the meantime, Daniel’s long delirium had been succeeded by a period of stupor. But he was so excessively weak, that he remained nearly all the time plunged in a kind of torpor which looked very much like death itself. But the old surgeon said to himself, not without good reason,-- “Certainly it is almost a case of conscience to leave this unfortunate man in such uncertainty: but this uncertainty is free from danger, at least; while any excitement would kill him as surely and as promptly as I could blow out a candle.” A fortnight passed; and Daniel recovered some little strength; at last he entered upon a kind of convalescence--if a poor man who could not turn over in bed unaided can be called a convalescent.

Daniel uttered a cry of delight. At the first glance he had recognized on three of the envelopes Henrietta’s handwriting. However, just see how calm I am!” So calm, that he did not even take the time to see which was the oldest of his letters. He opened one of them at haphazard, and read:-- “Daniel, my dear Daniel, my only friend in this world, and my sole hope, how could you intrust me to such an infamous person? de Brevan had declared to her that he loved her, and that sooner or later, whether she chose or not, she should be his, giving her the choice between the horrors of starvation and the disgrace of becoming his wife. As Daniel went on reading, a deadly pallor was spreading over his face, pale as it was already; his eyes grew unnaturally large; and big drops of perspiration trickled down his temples. At last he reached the concluding lines,-- “Now,” the young girl wrote, “since, probably, none of my letters have reached you, they must have been intercepted. This one will reach you; for I am going to carry it to the post-office myself.

This man, who but just now had not been able to raise himself on his pillows; this unfortunate sufferer, who looked more like a skeleton than a human being; this wounded man, who had scarcely his breath left him,--threw back his blankets, and rushed to the middle of the room, crying, with a terrible voice,-- “My clothes, Lefloch, my clothes!” The doctor had hastened forward to support him; but he pushed him aside with one arm, continuing,-- “By the holy name of God, Lefloch, make haste! He tottered; his eyes dosed; and he fainted away in the arms of his sailor, stammering,-- “That letter, doctor, that letter; read it, and you will see I must go.” Raising his lieutenant, and holding him like a child in his arms, Lefloch carried him back to his bed; but, for more than ten minutes, the doctor and the faithful sailor were unable to tell whether they had not a corpse before their eyes, and were wasting all their attentions. The cold and indifferent look with which Daniel stared at them, when he at last opened his eyes once more, told them that the tottering reason of the poor man had not been strong enough to resist this new shock. And still he must have retained some glimpses of the past; for his efforts to collect his thoughts were unmistakable.

Then a convulsion shook him; and his lips overflowed with incoherent words, in which the recollection of the fearful reality, and the extravagant conceptions of delirium, were strangely mixed.

“I foresaw it but too fully.” He had by this time exhausted all the resources of his skill and long experience; he had followed all the suggestions nature vouchsafed; and he could do nothing more now, but wait. Picking up the fatal letter, he went into the embrasure of one of the windows to read it. Daniel had in his wanderings said enough to enable the doctor to understand the piercing cry of distress contained in the poor girl’s letter; and Lefloch, who watched him, saw a big tear running down his cheek, and in the next moment a flood of crimson overspread his face. Precisely at the same hour, the magistrate, who had been notified of the trial, came to ask for news. Seeing the old surgeon cross the hospital yard, he ran up and asked, as soon as he was within hearing,-- “Well?” The doctor went a few steps farther, and then replied in a tone of despair,-- “Lieut. Daniel has a violent brain-fever, or rather congestion of the brain. Or, if you send him before a court, he will be declared guilty of involuntary homicide.

And yet you know, as well as I do, he has wantonly fired at one of the noblest creatures I have ever known. And, when he has served his term, he will receive the price of Champcey’s life, and he will spend it in orgies; and the others, the true criminals, who have hired him, will go about the world with lofty pride, rich, honored, and haughty.” “Doctor!” But the old original was not to be stopped. Your human justice,--do you want me to tell you what I think of it?

I am ashamed of it! When you send every year three or four stupid murderers to the scaffold, and some dozens of miserable thieves to the penitentiary, you fold your black gowns around you, and proudly proclaim that all is well, and that society, thus protected, may sleep soundly. Well, do you know what is the real state of things? The others, the strong, escape between the meshes of your laws, and, relying on their cleverness and your want of power, they enjoy the fruit of their crimes in all the pride of their impunity, until”-- He hesitated, and added, unlike his usual protestations of atheism,-- “Until the day of divine judgment.” Far from appearing hurt by such an outburst of indignation, the magistrate, after having listened with impassive face, said, as soon as the doctor stopped for want of breath,-- “You must have discovered something new.” “Most assuredly. I think I hold at last the thread of the fearful plot which is killing my poor Daniel. You said human justice has its limits, and hosts of criminals escape its vengeance; but in this case, whether Lieut. Champcey live or die, justice shall be done, I promise you!” He spoke in a tone of such absolute certainty, that the old surgeon was struck by it.

I have, besides, a letter”-- He was pulling the letter out of his pocket; but the magistrate stopped him, saying,-- “We cannot talk here in the middle of the court, where everybody can watch us from the windows. The court-room is quite near: suppose we go there, doctor.” For all answer the surgeon put on his cap firmly, took his friend’s arm, and the next moment the soldier on duty at the gate of the hospital saw them go out, engaged in a most animated conversation. I know now who Evariste Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, really is; and I know the principal events of his life.

Considering that this man had sailed on board ‘The Conquest’ for more than four months, in company with one hundred and fifty emigrants, I thought it would be unlikely that he should not have tried to break the monotony of such a voyage by long talks with friends. He was, no doubt, always sure of an audience. “Almost every one of them had found out some detail of Bagnolet’s life, some more, some less, according to the degree of honesty or demoralization which Bagnolet thought he discovered in them. I collected all the depositions of these witnesses; I completed and compared them, one by the other; and thus, by means of the confessions of the accused, certain allusions and confidences of his made to others, and his indiscretions when he was drunk, I was enabled to make up his biography with a precision which is not likely to be doubted.” Without seeming to notice the doctor’s astonishment, he opened a large case on his table; and, drawing from it a huge bundle of papers, he held it up in the air, saying,-- “Here are the verbal depositions of my hundred and odd witnesses.” Then, pointing at four or five sheets of paper, which were covered with very fine and close writing, he added,-- “And here are my extracts. Now, doctor, listen,--” And at once he commenced reading this biography of his “accused,” making occasional remarks, and explaining what he had written. He was born in February; and this month is determined by the deposition of a witness, to whom the accused offered, during the voyage, a bottle, with the words, ‘To-day is my birthday.’ “From all the accounts of the accused, it appears that his parents were evidently very honest people. But from his twelfth year he joined several bad companions of his age, and frequently abandoned his home for weeks, roaming about Paris. But he has made such precise statements about the manner in which youthful thieves maintain themselves in the capital, that many witnesses suspect him of having helped them in robbing open stalls in the streets. “The positive result of these investigations is, that his father, distressed by his misconduct, and despairing of ever seeing him mend his ways, had him sent to a house of correction when he was fourteen years old. “Released at the end of eighteen months, he says he was bound out as an apprentice, and soon learned his business well enough to support himself.

This last allegation, however, cannot be true; for four witnesses, of whom one at least is of the same profession as Crochard, declare that they have seen him at work, and that, if he ever was a skilled mechanic, he is so no longer. Besides, he cannot have been long at work; for he had been a year in prison again, when the revolution of 1848 began. One was told that he had been sentenced for having stabbed one of his companions while drunk; another, that it was for a row in a drinking-saloon; and a third, that he was innocently involved with others in an attempt to rob a foreigner. “Set free soon after the revolution, he did not resume his profession, but secured a place as machinist in a theatre on the boulevards. At the end of three months he was turned off, because of ‘improper conduct with women,’ according to one; or, if we believe another statement, because he was accused of a robbery committed in one of the boxes.

Having successfully concealed his antecedents, he is next admitted as substitute in the B Regiment of the line; but, before a year had elapsed, his insubordination has caused him to be sent to Africa as a punishment. “He remained there sixteen months, and conducted himself well enough to be incorporated in the First Regiment of Marines, one battalion of which was to be sent to Senegambia. He had, however, by no means given up his bad ways; for he was very soon after condemned to ten years’ penal servitude for having broken into a house by night as a robber.” The chief surgeon, who had for some time given unmistakable signs of impatience, now rose all of a sudden, and said,-- “Pardon me, if I interrupt you, sir; but can you rely upon the veracity of your witnesses?” “Why should I doubt them?” “Because it seems to me very improbable that a cunning fellow, such as this Crochard seems to be, should have denounced himself.” “But he has not denounced himself.” “Ah?” “He has often mentioned this condemnation; but he has always attributed it to acts of violence against a superior; On that point he has never varied in his statements.” “Then how on earth did you learn”-- “The truth? I inquired at Saigon; and I succeeded in finding a sergeant in the Second Regiment of Marines, who was in the First Regiment at the same time with Crochard.

The statements of the accused since his arrest are too insignificant to be here reported. There is only one peculiarity of importance for the prosecution, which may possibly serve to enable us to trace the instigators of this crime. On three occasions, and in the presence of, at least, three witnesses each time, Crochard has used, in almost the same terms, these words,-- “‘No one would believe the strange acquaintances one makes in prisons. You meet there young men of family, who have done a foolish thing, and lots of people, who, wishing to make a fortune all at once, had no chance. When they come out from there, many of these fellows get into very good positions; and then, if you meet them, they don’t know you. “Oh!” he said half aloud, “might not some of these people whom the assassin has known in prison have put arms in his hand?” “That is the very question I asked myself.” “Because, you see, some of Daniel’s enemies are fearful people; and if you knew what is in this letter here in my hand, which, no doubt, will be the cause of that poor boy’s death”-- “Allow me to finish, doctor,” said the man of law. Champcey may still be avenged.” A smile of pleased pride appeared for a moment on the lips of the lawyer; but assuming his mask of impassiveness instantly again, as if he had been ashamed of his weakness, he said with delicate irony,-- “I really think human justice may this time reach the guilty. They want and require proof, positive proof, before they condemn. Well, such proof I have.” “Oh!” From the same box from which he had taken the papers concerning Crochard he now drew a letter, which he shook in the air with a threatening gesture.

Champcey of the ship ‘Conquest.’ “In connection with this misfortune, my wife thinks, and I also consider it a matter of conscience, that we should make known to you a very serious matter. “Still, sir, I beg you will protect me, in case Crochard should think of avenging himself on me or on my family,--a thing which might very easily happen, as he is a very bad man, capable of any thing. And we are, with the most profound respect, &c.” The doctor rubbed his hands violently.

if the man had been left to his own counsels, he would have kept it all secret, so terribly is he afraid of this Crochard; but, fortunately, his wife had more courage.” “Decidedly,” growled the surgeon. “The women are, after all, the better part of creation.” The magistrate carefully replaced the letter in the box, and then went on in his usual calm voice,-- “Thus the first attempt at murder is duly and fully proven. Only about three months ago he made a bet with one of the waiters at the hotel where he is engaged, that he would swim across the Dong-Nai twice, at a place where the current is strongest; and he did it.” “But that is evidence; is it not?” “No; it is only a probability in favor of the prosecution. The register on board ship proves that Crochard went on shore the very evening after the arrival of the vessel. Not one of my hundred and odd witnesses has seen him that night. Therefore he must have changed his clothes; and, in order to do that, he must have bought some; for he had taken nothing with him out of the ship but what he had on.

Oh, I know the ways of these rascals! Champcey, he will tell me by whom he was hired; and he will have to confess that he was thus hired, when I show him how much of the money he received for the purpose is now left.” The old surgeon once more jumped up from his chair.

I have had a good deal of perplexity and trouble. Morally sure as I was, after the first examination of the accused, that he had a relatively large sum hidden somewhere, I first gave all my attention to his chamber. The furniture was taken to pieces, and examined, the lining taken out of the chairs, and even the paper stripped from the walls.

I was in despair, when a thought struck me,--one of those simple thoughts which make you wonder why it did not occur to you at once. He came; and--But I prefer reading you his deposition.” He took from the large bundle of papers a single sheet, and, assuming an air of great modesty, read the affidavit. “Magistrate.--At what point of the river did Crochard swim across? “W.--At the place where he went into the water, just opposite the tile-factory of M.

Now, his clothes consisted of a mean pair of trousers and a miserable blouse. As they were in my way, I put them down on the ground, at the foot of a tree. He had in the meantime done his work, and came back; but, instead of listening to my compliments, he cried furiously, ‘My clothes!’--‘Well,’ I said, ‘they are not lost. Thus proceeding from one point to another, and by the unaided power of his sagacity, coupled with indefatigable activity, the magistrate had succeeded in establishing Crochard’s guilt, and the existence of accomplices who had instigated the crime. No one could doubt that he was proud of it, and that his self-esteem had increased, although he tried hard to preserve his stiff and impassive appearance.

He had even affected a certain dislike to the idea of reading Henrietta’s letter, until he should have proved that he could afford to do without such assistance. Like the chief surgeon, he, also, was struck and amazed by the wickedness of M. “But here is exactly what we want,” he exclaimed,--“an irrefragable proof of complicity. But remember what I say, doctor: the future reserves some fearful mysteries yet to be revealed to us hereafter.” The two men had been so entirely preoccupied with their thoughts, that they were unconscious of the flight of time; and they were not a little astonished, therefore, when they now noticed that the day was gone, and night was approaching. “I will hand them to you,” he said at last, “if you will assure me that the interests of justice require it.

They shook hands; and the chief surgeon, his heart fall of darkest presentiments, slowly made his way to the hospital. Daniel, whom he had left in a desperate condition, almost dying,--Daniel slept profoundly, sweetly. I gave him a cup of your tea; he took it, and then asked me to help him turn over towards the wall. I did so, and I saw him remain so, his arm bent, and his head in his hand, like a man who is thinking profoundly. But about a quarter of an hour later, all of a sudden, I thought I heard him gasp. I came up softly on tiptoe, and looked. If I knew where I could catch them, these rascals who give him all this trouble”-- His fists rose instinctively, and most undoubtedly something bright started from his eyes which looked prodigiously like a tear rolling slowly down one of the deep furrows in his cheek. he said something like, ‘Henrietta, Henrietta!’ Always that good friend of his, for whom he was forever calling when he had the fever. I am the cause of her death.

“Nothing of interest to you. I said there could not be another miracle; and here it is!” Then turning to Lefloch, he asked,-- “You know where I am staying?” “Yes, commandant.” “If your officer wakes up in the night, you will send for me at once.” “Yes, commandant.” But Daniel did not wake up; and he had hardly opened his eyes on the next morning, about eight o’clock, when the chief surgeon entered his room. One, very long, was only a repetition of the first he had read. The other consisted only of a few lines:-- “M. Take care, be watchful; think that you are the only friend, the sole hope here below, of your Henrietta.” Now it was truly seen that Daniel had not presumed too much on his strength and his courage. Not a muscle in his face changed; his eye remained straight and clear; and he said in an accent of coldest, bitterest irony,-- “Look at this, doctor.

Here is the explanation of the strange ill luck that has pursued me ever since I left France.” At a glance the doctor read Henrietta’s warning, which came, alas! “The man who fired at me has been arrested?” Lefloch was unable to restrain himself at this juncture, and replied,-- “I should say so, lieutenant, and by my hand, before his gun had cooled off.” The doctor did not wait for the questions which he read in the eyes of his patient. But, doctor, you know who are the real guilty ones.” “And justice shall be done, I swear!” broke in the old surgeon, who looked upon the cause of his patient with as much interest as if it were his own. “Our lucky star has sent us a lawyer who is no trifler, and who, if I am not very much mistaken, would like very much to leave Saigon with a loud blast of trumpets.” He remained buried in thought for a while, watching his patient out of the corner of his eye, and then said suddenly,-- “Now I think of it, why could you not see the lawyer? There were seven of them,--four from the Countess Sarah, and three from Maxime. It sounded like an intense, irresistible passion, escaping from the control of the owner, and breaking forth terribly, like a long smouldering fire. Of Henrietta she said but little,--enough, however, to terrify Daniel, if he had not known the truth. “That unfortunate, wayward girl,” she wrote, “has just caused her aged father such cruel and unexpected grief, that he was on the brink of the grave. Weary of the control which her indiscretions rendered indispensable, she has fled, we know not with whom; and all our efforts to find her have so far been unsuccessful.” On the other hand, M.

de Brevan wrote, “Deaf to my counsel and prayers even, Miss Ville-Handry has carried out the project of leaving her paternal home.

Suspected of having favored her escape, I have been called out by Sir Thorn, and had to fight a duel with him. A paper which I enclose will give you the details of our meeting, and tell you that I was lucky enough to wound that gentleman of little honor, but of great skill with the pistol. my poor, excellent Daniel, why should I be compelled by the duties of friendship to confess to you that it was not for the purpose of remaining faithful to you, that Miss Henrietta was so anxious to be free? You would suffer too much in finding her whom you have loved so dearly unworthy of an honest man, unworthy of you. Still he found the newspaper, which had been sent to him with the letter, and in it the account of the duel between M. He once more read over, more attentively than at first, the letters of Maxime and the Countess Sarah; and, by comparing them with each other, he thought he noticed in them some traces of a beginning disagreement. “It may be that there is discord among my enemies,” he said to himself, “and that they do no longer agree, now that, in their view, the moment approaches when they are to divide the proceeds of their crimes. Or did they never agree, and am I the victim of a double plot? Or is the whole merely a comedy for the purpose of deceiving me, and keeping me here, until the murderer has done his work?” He was not allowed to torture his mind long with efforts to seek the solution of this riddle.

The old doctor came back with the lawyer, and for more than half an hour he had to answer an avalanche of questions. But the investigation had been carried on with such rare sagacity, that Daniel could furnish the prosecution only a single new fact,--the surrender of his entire fortune into the hands of M. And even this fact must needs, on account of its extreme improbability, remain untold in an investigation which was based upon logic alone. Daniel very naturally, somewhat ashamed of his imprudence, tried to excuse himself; and, when he had concluded his explanations, the lawyer said,-- “Now, one more question: would you recognize the man who attempted to drown you in the Dong-Nai in a boat which he had offered to you, and which he upset evidently on purpose?” “No, sir.” “Ah! That man was Crochard, I am sure; but he will deny it; and the prosecution will have nothing but probabilities to oppose to his denial, unless I can find the place where he changed his clothes.” “Excuse me, there is a way to ascertain his identity.” “How?” “The voice of the wretch is so deeply engraven on my mind, that even at this moment, while I am speaking to you, I think I can hear it in my ear; and I would recognize it among a thousand.” The lawyer made no reply, weighing, no doubt, in his mind the chances of a confrontation. Then he made up his mind, and said,-- “It is worth trying.” And handing his clerk, who had been a silent witness of this scene, an order to have the accused brought to the hospital, he said,-- “Take this to the jail, and let them make haste.” It was a month now since Crochard had been arrested; and his imprisonment, so far from discouraging him, had raised his spirits. “They are evidently looking for evidence,” he said; “but, as they cannot find any, they will have to let me go.” He looked, therefore, as self-assured as ever when he came into Daniel’s room, and exclaimed, while still in the door, with an air of intolerable arrogance,-- “Well? I ask for justice; I am tired of jail. “That is the man!” he exclaimed; “I am ready to swear to it, that is the man!” Great as was the impudence of Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, he was astonished, and looked with rapid, restless eyes at the chief surgeon, at the magistrate, and last at Lefloch, who stood immovable at the foot of the bed of his lieutenant.

He had too much experience of legal forms not to know that he had given way to absurd illusions,--and that his position was far more dangerous than he had imagined. But the accused had recovered his self-control by a great effort; and he replied,-- “I am not deaf.” And there was in his voice the unmistakable accent of the former vagabond of Paris.

“That’s impossible; for”-- But the rest of the phrase remained in his throat. But for that reflection, he would have gone on thus,-- “That’s impossible; for the night was too dark to distinguish a man’s features.” And that would have been equivalent to a confession; and he would have had nothing to answer the magistrate, if the latter had asked at once,-- “How do you know that the darkness was so great on the banks of the Dong-Nai?

It seems you were there, eh?” Quite pallid with fright, the accused simply said,-- “The officer must be mistaken.” “I think not,” replied the magistrate. When he offered me a boat, he spoke a kind of almost unintelligible jargon, a mixture of English and Spanish words; but he did not think of changing his intonation and his accent.” Affecting an assurance which he was far from really feeling, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, shrugged his shoulders carelessly, and said,-- “Do I know any English? Do I know any Spanish?” “No, very likely not; but like all Frenchmen who live in this colony, and like all the marines, you no doubt know a certain number of words of these two languages.” To the great surprise of the doctor and of Daniel, the prisoner did not deny it; it looked as if he felt that he was on dangerous ground. “It is anyhow pretty hard to accuse an honest man of a crime, because his voice resembles the voice of a rascal.” The magistrate gently shook his head. I know your antecedents, from the first petty theft that procured you four months’ imprisonment, to the aggravated robbery for which you were sent to the penitentiary, when you were in the army.” Profound stupor lengthened all of Crochard’s features; but he was not the man to give up a game in which his head was at stake, without fighting for it. “I have been condemned to ten years, that is true, when I was a soldier; but it was for having struck an officer who had punished me unjustly.” “You lie. A former soldier of your regiment, who is now in garrison here in Saigon, will prove it.” For the first time the accused seemed to be really troubled. He saw all of a sudden his past rising before him, which until now he had thought unknown or forgotten; and he knew full well the weight which antecedents like his would have in the scales of justice. So he changed his tactics; and, assuming an abject humility, he said,-- “One may have committed a fault, and still be incapable of murdering a man.” “That is not your case.” “Oh!

Must I needs have such a mishap?” The magistrate had for some time been looking at the accused with an air of the most profound disgust. But he had still the strength to say in a half-strangled voice,-- “That is false!” But the magistrate had too great an abundance of evidence to allow the examination to continue. In less than no time, his features had sunk in, as it were, till he looked like a man at the foot of the scaffold. It may be, that, feeling he was irretrievably lost, he had had a vision of the fatal instrument. Then, seeing no other chance of safety, except the mercy of the judges, he fell heavily on his knees, and stammered out,-- “I am a wretched man.” At the same instant a cry of astonishment burst from the doctor, from Daniel, and the worthy Lefloch.

But the man of law was not surprised. He knew in advance that the first victory would be easily won, and that the real difficulty would be to induce the prisoner to confess the name of his principal. You got a certain sum of money in advance; and you were to receive a larger sum after his death.” “I swear”-- “Don’t swear! The sum in your possession, which you cannot account for, is positive proof of what I say.” “Alas!

You may order a search.” Under the impassive mask of the lawyer, a certain degree of excitement could at this moment be easily discerned. The time had come to strike a decisive blow, and to judge of the value of his system of induction. Instead, therefore, of replying to the prisoner, he turned to the gendarmes who were present and said to them,-- “Take the prisoner into the next room. Strip him, and examine all his clothes carefully: see to it that there is nothing hid in the lining.” The gendarmes advanced to seize the prisoner, when he suddenly jumped up, and said in a tone of ill-constrained rage,-- “No need for that! I have three one thousand-franc-notes sewn into the lining of my trousers.” This time the pride of success got completely the better of the imperturbable coldness of the magistrate. He uttered a low cry of satisfaction, and could not refrain from casting a look of triumph at Daniel and the doctor, which said clearly,-- “Well? What did I tell you?” It was for a second only; the next instant his features resumed their icy immobility; and, turning to the accused, he said in a tone of command,-- “Hand me the notes!” Crochard did not stir; but his livid countenance betrayed the fierce suffering he endured. To take from him his three thousand francs, the price of the meanest and most execrable crime; the three thousand francs for the sake of which he had risked the scaffold,--this was like tearing his entrails from him. Like an enraged brute who sees that the enemy is all-powerful, he gathered all his strength, and, with a furious look, glanced around the room to see if he could escape anywhere, asking himself, perhaps, upon which of the men he ought to throw himself for the purpose.

“Must I order force to be used?” Convinced of the uselessness of resistance, and of the folly of any attempt at escape, the wretch hung his head. “But I cannot undo the seams of my trousers with my nails,” he said. “Let them give me a knife or a pair of scissors.” They were careful not to do so. But, at a sign given by the magistrate, one of the gendarmes approached, and, drawing a penknife from his pocket, ripped the seam at the place which the prisoner pointed out. A genuine convulsion of rage seized the assassin, when a little paper parcel appeared, folded up, and compressed to the smallest possible size. It contained three notes of a thousand francs each, wrapped up in a sheet of letter-paper, which was all greasy, and worn out in the folds. The bank-notes had nothing peculiar; but on the sheet of paper, traces could be made out of lines of writing; and at least two words were distinctly legible,--University and Street. Here is evidently the address of some one who lives in University Street.” Daniel was trembling on his bed. “Ah, sir!” he exclaimed, “I used to live in University Street, Paris.” A slight blush passed over the lawyer’s face, a sign of unequivocal satisfaction in him. He uttered half loud, as if replying to certain objections in his own mind,-- “Everything is becoming clear.” And yet, to the great surprise of his listeners, he abandoned this point; and, returning to the prisoner, he asked him,-- “So you acknowledge having received money for the murder of Lieut.

Do not forget that!” The assassin was, perhaps, better able to appreciate the importance of such advice than anybody else there present. Still he remained silent for more than a minute, shaken by a kind of nervous tremor, as if a terrible struggle was going on in his heart.

I am not a tell- tale.” Then, all of a sudden, making up his mind, and showing himself just the man the magistrate had expected to find, he said with a cynic laugh,-- “Upon my word, so much the worse for them! The lawyer thought he did; for, turning to Daniel, he asked,-- “Do you know anybody by the name of Chevassat, M.

“Yes, that may be,” replied the lawyer; “although, in such matters, people generally do their own work.” And, continuing his examination, he asked the accused,-- “Who is this Justin Chevassat?” “One of my friends.” “A friend richer than yourself, I should think?” “As to that--why, yes; since he has always plenty of money in his pockets, dresses in the last fashion, and drives his carriage.” “What is he doing?

What is his profession?” “Ah! He began to show the system which the wretch was about to adopt,--to throw all the responsibility and all the odium of the crime on the man who had hired him, and to appear the poor devil, succumbing to destitution when he was tempted and dazzled by such magnificent promises, that he had not the strength to resist. The lawyer continued,-- “Where and how did you make the acquaintance of this Justin Chevassat?” “I made his acquaintance at the galleys.” “Ah! At all events, he had money to handle; and it stuck to his fingers.” “I am surprised, as you are so well informed with regard to this man’s antecedents, that you should know nothing of his present means of existence.” “He has money, plenty of money; that is all I know.” “Have you lost sight of him?” “Why, yes. Never would a stranger who should have suddenly come into Daniel’s chamber, upon seeing Crochard’s attitude, have imagined that the wretch was accused of a capital crime, and was standing there before a magistrate, in presence of the man whom he had tried three times to assassinate. Quite at home in the law, as far as it was studied at the galleys, he had instantly recognized that his situation was by no means so desperate as he had at first supposed; that, if the jury rendered a verdict of guilty of death, it would be against the instigator of the crime, and that he would probably get off with a few years’ penal servitude. He had recovered from that stupor which the discovery of his crime had produced in him, and from the rage in which he had been thrown by the loss of his bank-notes. Now there appeared, under the odious personage of the murderer, the pretentious and ridiculous orator of the streets and prisons, who is accustomed to make himself heard, and displays his eloquence with great pride. He assumed a studied position; and it was evident that he was preparing himself for his speech, although, afterwards, a good many words escaped him which are found in no dictionary, but belong to the jargon of the lowest classes, and serve to express the vilest sentiments.

I have seen that head somewhere.’ “Thereupon, I go to work, and remain fixed to the front of the shop, a little at the side, though, you know, at a place where, without being seen myself, I could very well watch my individual, who laughed and talked, showing his white teeth, while a pretty girl was trying on a pair of gloves. The more I looked at him, the more I thought, ‘Positively, Bagnolet, although that sweet soul don’t look as if he were a member of your society, you know him.’ “However, as I could not put a name to that figure, I was going on my way, when suddenly my memory came back to me, and I said, ‘Cretonne, it is an old comrade. But I had a little way of my own to make the thing sure. Do you want to speak to me?’ “Thereupon, quite sure of my business now, I say, ‘Yes, to you, Justin Chevassat. Nothing at all; for I have nothing.’ “I must tell you, that, while I said all this, I looked at him fixedly with the air of a man who has nothing in his stomach, and who is bent upon putting something into it.

And, when he saw I was determined, the fine gentleman softened down. And pretending to laugh very merrily,--for the benefit of the spectators, you know,--he said, speaking very low and very rapidly,-- “‘In the costume that you have on, I cannot ask you to get into my carriage; that would only compromise us both uselessly. He thought it of great importance that Crochard’s evidence should be written down, word for word; and he saw, that, for some little while, the clerk had been unable to follow. This permission gave him more time to select his words, and this flattered his vanity; for even the lowest of these criminals have their weak point, in which their vanity is engaged. “Chevassat said a few words to his coachman, who whipped the horse, and there he was, promenading down the boulevard, turning his cane this way, puffing out big clouds of smoke, as if he had not the colic at the thought that his friend Bagnolet was following on his heels. “I ought to say that he had lots of friends, very genteel friends, who wished him good-evening as they passed him. There were some even who stopped him, shook hands with him, and offered to treat him; but he left them all promptly, saying, ‘Excuse me, pray, I am in a hurry.’ “Why, yes, he was in a hurry; and I who was behind him, and saw and heard it all, I laughed in my sleeve most heartily.” Whatever advantage there may be in not interrupting a great talker, who warms up as he talks, and consequently forgets himself, the magistrate became impatient.

Then reflecting, I thought, ‘It is not natural for him to be so soft.

Keep your eyes open, Bagnolet.’ “‘Then you are not angry that I spoke to you; eh?’ He laughs, and says, ‘No.’ “Then I, ‘However, you hadn’t exactly a wedding-air when I spoke to you, and I thought you were looking for a way to get rid of me unceremoniously.’ But he said very seriously, ‘Look here, I am going to talk to you quite openly! I have long foreseen something of the kind would happen; and I know that every time I go out I run the risk of meeting a former comrade. If I wanted to get rid of you, this very evening you would have lost all trace of me, thanks to a little contrivance I have arranged. “‘Then,’ I said, ‘you rather like meeting an old friend, eh?’ “He looked me straight in the face and replied, ‘Yes; and the proof of it is, that if you were not here, sitting at my side, and if I had known where to find you, I should have gone in search of you.

Although the magistrate preserved his impassive appearance, Daniel and the chief surgeon listened with breathless attention, feeling that the prisoner had come to the really important part of his confession, from which, no doubt, much light would be obtained.

Lefloch himself listened with open mouth; and one could follow on his ingenuous countenance all the emotions produced by the recital of the criminal, who, but for him, would probably have escaped justice. “Naturally,” continued Crochard, “when he talked of something to do, I opened my ears wide. ‘Since I left that place you know of, I have been living nicely. The driver did so; and then Chevassat said to me, ‘Come, old man, we’ll begin by dressing you up decently.’ So we get out; and upon my word, he buys me a shirt, trousers, a coat, and everything else that was needful; he pays for a silk hat, and a pair of varnished boots. I declare he makes me a present of a gold watch, which I still have, and which they seized when they put me in jail.

He made a face, full of spite, and then went on, speaking more rapidly,-- “All these purchases had taken some time; so that it was six o’clock, and almost dark, when we reached Vincennes. A little before we got into the town, Chevassat stopped the cab, paid the driver, sends him back, and, taking me by the arm, says, ‘You must be hungry: let us dine.’ “So we first absorb a glass of absinthe; then he carries me straight to the best restaurant, asks for a private room, and orders a dinner. Merely to hear it ordered from the bill of fare made my mouth water.

Chevassat seemed to have unbuttoned, and told me lots of funny things which set me a-laughing heartily. But when the coffee had been brought, with liquors in abundance, and cigars at ten cents apiece, my individual rises, and pushes the latch in the door; for there was a latch. “Then he comes back, and sits down right in front of me, with his elbows on the table. I am a good fellow, you know; but you understand that I am not treating you for the sake of your pretty face alone.

I want a good stout fellow; and I thought you might be the man.’ “Upon my word, he told me that in such a peculiar way, that I felt as if somebody had kicked me in the stomach; and I began to be afraid of him.

But if anything should happen to a certain person whom I think of, I should be rich; and you--why, you might be rich too, if you were willing to give him a little push with the elbow, so that the thing might happen to him a little sooner.’” Earnestly bent upon the part which he had to play for the sake of carrying out his system of defence, the prisoner assumed more and more hypocritical repentance, an effort which gave to his wicked face a peculiarly repulsive expression. The magistrate, however, though no doubt thoroughly disgusted with this absurd comedy, did not move a muscle of his face, nor make a gesture, anxious, as he was, not to break the thread of this important deposition. I’d rather die first!’ He laughed, and replied, ‘Don’t be a fool; who talks to you of murder? I spoke of an accident. The thing would happen to him abroad.’ I continued, however, to refuse, and I spoke even of going away; when Chevassat seized a big knife, and said, now that I had his secret, I was bound to go on.

“Then, all at once, he became as jolly again as before; and, whilst he kept pouring the brandy into my glass, he explained to me that I would be a fool to hesitate; that I could never in all my life find such a chance again of making a fortune; that I would most certainly succeed; and that then I would have an income, keep a carriage as he did, wear fine clothes, and have every day a dinner like the one we had just been enjoying together. This lot of gold which he held up before my mind’s eyes dazzled me; and the strong drink I had been taking incessantly got into my head. I got up; and, striking the table with my fist, I cried out, ‘I am your man!’” Although, probably, the whole scene never took place, except in the prisoner’s imagination, Daniel could not help trembling under his cover, at the thought of these two wretches arranging for his death, while they were there, half drunk, glass in hand, and their elbows resting on a table covered with wine-stains. Perhaps he dreamed he held in his grasp the neck of the man who was talking so coolly of murdering his lieutenant. The lawyer and the doctor thought of nothing but of watching the contortions of the accused. Chevassat wrote me to come to his house, and to breakfast with him for the purpose of talking business. “Of course I went.

I go up, ring the bell; a servant opens the door; I enter, and find, in an elegant apartment, my brigand in a dressing-gown, stretched out on a sofa. At the same time he spread out before me a great heap of gold. I pledged my word; and the bargain was made.” As he said this, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, sighed deeply and noisily, like a man whose heart has been relieved of a grievous burden. To have to confess everything on the spot, without a moment’s respite to combine a plan of apology, was a hard task.

Now, the wretch had stood this delicate and dangerous trial pretty well, and thought he had managed cleverly enough to prepare for the day of his trial a number of extenuating circumstances. We agreed, therefore, that he would pay me four thousand francs in advance, and that, after the accident, he would give me six thousand certain, and a portion of the sum which he would secure.” “Thus you undertook, for ten thousand francs, to murder a man?” “I thought”-- “That sum is very far from those fabulous amounts by which you said you had been blinded and carried away.” “Pardon me! I would have--but no; he knows me; he would never have dared”-- The magistrate had caught the prisoner’s eye, and, fixing him sternly, he said good-naturedly,-- “Why did you tell me, then, that that man magnetized you, and frightened you out of your wits?” The wretch had gone into the snare, and, instead of answering, hung his head, and tried to sob. They have not gotten their full number yet: so you go and offer yourself. that if any accident should happen to him, either during the voyage, or at Saigon, that accident will pass unnoticed, as a letter passes through the post-office.’ “Yes, that’s what he told me, every word of it; and I think I hear him now. “‘You are surely more of a fool than I thought,’ he said. Well, as you will exhibit your papers in excellent order, they will take you.’ “I opened my eyes wide, and said, ‘That’s all very pretty, what you say; but the mischief is, that, as I have not worked at my profession for more than fifteen years, I have no papers at all.’ He shrugs his shoulders, and says, ‘You shall have your papers.’ That worries me; and I reply, ‘If I have to steal somebody’s papers, and change my name, I won’t do it.’ But the brigand had his notions. ‘You shall always remain Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet; and you shall have your papers as engraver on metal as perfect as anybody can have them.’ “And, to be sure, the second day after that he gave me a set of papers, signatures, seals, all in perfect order.” “The papers found in your room, you mean?” asked the lawyer. The magistrate was as much struck by the fact as they were; but his features remained unchanged; and, pursuing his plan in spite of all the incidents of the examination, he asked,-- “These papers caused no suspicion?” “None whatever.

Unfortunately, he arrived forty- eight hours afterwards, and we sailed at once.” The marvellous coolness of the wretch showed clearly under his affected trouble; and, while it confounded Daniel and the old surgeon, it filled the faithful Lefloch with growing indignation.

He spoke of this abominable plot, of this assassination which had been so carefully plotted, and of the price agreed upon, and partly paid in advance, as if the whole had been a fair commercial operation. By everybody?” “Well, I mean his concierge, his servants.” The magistrate seemed for a moment to consider how he should frame his next question; and then he asked, all of a sudden,-- “Suppose that the--accident, as you call it, had succeeded, you would have taken ship; you would have arrived in France; you reach Paris; how would you have found Chevassat to claim your six thousand francs?” “I should have gone to his house, where I breakfasted with him; and, if he had left, the concierge would have told me where he lived now.” “Then you really think you saw him at his own rooms? If you left him only for a couple of hours, between the time when you first met him and the visit you paid him afterwards, he might very well have improvised a new domicile for himself.” “Ah!

“Go down,” he said, “and see if any of the merchants in town have a Paris Directory.” The clerk went off like an arrow, and appeared promptly back again with the volume in question. Superior attendance.” “I was almost sure of it,” he said to himself. Champcey?” Too full of the lawyer’s shrewd surmises to express any surprise, Daniel looked at the words, and said coolly,-- “That is Maxime de Brevan’s handwriting.” A rush of blood colored instantly the pale face of Crochard. He was furious at the idea of having been duped by his accomplice, by the instigator of the crime he had committed, and for which he would probably never have received the promised reward. He had foreseen this wrath on the part of the prisoner; he had prepared it carefully, and caused it to break out fully; for he knew it would bring him full light on the whole subject.

He must be uneasy at not hearing from me; and I am sure he is going every day to the post-office to inquire if there are no letters yet for M. I am sure, after that, the scamp will keep quiet; and the police will have nothing to do but to take the omnibus, and arrest him at his lodgings.” The magistrate had allowed the prisoner to give free vent to his fury, knowing full well by experience how intensely criminals hate those of their accomplices by whom they find themselves betrayed. And he was in hopes that the rage of this man might suggest a new idea, or furnish him with new facts. Have you forgotten or concealed nothing that might assist us in carrying out this examination?” “No; I think I have told you every thing.” “You cannot furnish any additional evidence of the complicity of Justin Chevassat, of his efforts to tempt you to commit this crime, or of the forgery he committed in getting up a false set of papers for you?” “No! But, strong as he is, if we could be confronted in court, I’d undertake, just by looking at him, to get the truth out of him somehow.” “You shall be confronted, I promise you.” The prisoner seemed to be amazed. You will be sent home, to be tried there.” A flash of joy shone in the eyes of the wretch. He knew the voyage would not be a pleasant one; but the prospect of being tried in France was as good as an escape from capital punishment to his mind. Besides, he delighted in advance in the idea of seeing Chevassat in court, seated by his side as a fellow-prisoner. When he had done, he said,-- “Now give me as accurate a description of Justin Chevassat as you can.” Crochard passed his hand repeatedly over his forehead; and then, his eyes staring at empty space, and his neck stretched out, as if he saw a phantom which he had suddenly called up, he said,-- “Chevassat is a man of my age; but he does not look more than twenty seven or eight. He looks clever, with soft eyes; and his face inspires confidence at once.” “Ah!

The sailor started, and almost mechanically assumed the respectful position of a sailor standing before his officer. “Since I have been sick, they have brought part of my baggage here; have they not?” “Yes, lieutenant, all of it.” “Well. You have no doubt seen me look at it often.” “Yes, lieutenant; and I know where it is.” And he immediately opened one of the trunks that were piled up in a corner of the room, and took from it a photograph album, which, upon a sign from Daniel, he handed to the lawyer.

“Will you please,” said Daniel at the same time, “ask the prisoner, if, among the sixty or seventy portraits in that book, he knows any one?” The album was handed to Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, who turned over leaf after leaf, till all of a sudden, and almost beside himself, he cried out,-- “Here he is, Justin Chevassat! But when he had signed it, and the gendarmes were about to carry him off again, and to put on the handcuffs, he asked leave to make an addition. The magistrate assented; and Crochard said,-- “I do not want to excuse myself, nor to make myself out innocent; but I do not like, on the other hand, to seem worse than I am.” He had assumed a very decided position, and evidently aimed at giving to his words an expression of coarse but perfect frankness.

I tried in vain to think of Chevassat’s big promises; at the last moment, my heart always failed me. And the proof of it is, that I missed him at ten yards’ distance. The lieutenant got out of it; but I was very near being drowned. He certainly needed it; but how could he sleep with the fearful idea of his Henrietta--she whom he loved with his whole heart--being in the hands of this Justin Chevassat, a forger, a former galley-slave, the accomplice and friend of Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet? But what did it profit him to be avenged, when it was too late, long after Henrietta should have been forced to seek in suicide the only refuge from Brevan’s persecution? Now it seemed to him as if the magistrate was far more anxiously concerned for the punishment of the guilty than for the safety of the victims. At the first glimpse of reason that had appeared after his terrible sufferings, he had hastened to write to Henrietta, begging her to take courage, and promising her that he would soon be near her. In this letter he had enclosed the sum of four thousand francs. All these anxieties made a bed of burning coals of the couch of the poor wounded man.

And still, by a prodigious effort of his will, his convalescence pursued its normal, steady way in spite of so many contrary influences. The next week he was able to get down into the garden of the hospital, and to walk about there, leaning on the arm of his faithful Lefloch. And with his strength and his health, hope, also, began to come back; when, all of a sudden, two letters from Henrietta rekindled the fever. In one the poor girl told him how she had lived so far on the money obtained from the sale of the little jewelry she had taken with her, but added that she was shamefully cheated, and would soon be compelled to seek employment of some sort in order to support herself. “I am quite sure,” she said, with a kind of heartrending cheerfulness, “that I can earn my forty cents a day; and with that, my friend, I shall be as happy as a queen, and wait for your return, free from want.” In the other she wrote,-- “None of my efforts to procure work has so far succeeded.

I shall struggle on to the last extremity, were it only not to give my enemies the joy of seeing me dead. He was evidently reading one of those last cries which precede agony. Do you know that you cannot stand up fifteen minutes?” “I can lie down in my berth.” “You would kill yourself.” “What of that? But would this imprudence be of any use to him? No; for he could not reach the mouth of the Dong-Nai alive.

Therefore it is my duty to keep him here: and that can be done, since he is as yet unable to go out alone; and Lefloch will obey me, I am sure, when I tell him that his master’s life depends upon his obedience.” Too wise to meet so decided a determination as Daniel’s was by a flat refusal, he said,-- “Very well, then; be it as you choose!” Only he came in again the same evening, and, with an air of disappointment, said to Daniel,-- “To go is all very well; but there is one difficulty in the way, of which neither you nor I have thought.” “And what is that?” “There is no vessel going home.” “Really, doctor?” “Ah! my dear friend,” replied the excellent man boldly, “do you think I could deceive you?” Evidently Daniel thought him quite capable of doing so; but he took good care not to show his suspicions, reserving to himself the right of making direct inquiries as soon as the opportunity should offer. Two friends of his called to see him. He sent Lefloch out of the room on some pretext, and then begged them to go down to the port, and to engage a passage for him,--no, not for him, but for his man, whom urgent business recalled to France. But the concierge of the hospital, and Lefloch, were so well drilled, that no visitor reached Daniel before having learned his lesson thoroughly. Thus they succeeded in keeping Daniel quiet for a fortnight; but, at the end of that time, he declared that he felt quite well enough to look out for a ship himself; and that, if he could do no better, he meant to sail for Singapore, where he would be sure to procure a passage home. It would, of course, have been simple folly to try and keep a man back who was so much bent upon his purpose; and, as his first visit to the port would have revealed to him the true state of things, the old surgeon preferred to make a clean breast of it.

If I had let you set sail in the condition in which you were, I should have virtually sent you to your grave, and thus have deprived your betrothed, Miss Ville-Handry, of her last and only chance of salvation.” Daniel shook his head sadly, and said,-- “But if I get there too late, too late; by a week, a day, do you think, doctor, I shall not curse your prudence? On Sunday, in five days; and that ship is ‘The Saint Louis’ a famous clipper, and so good a sailor, that you will easily overtake the two big three-masters that have sailed before you.” Offering his hand to Daniel, he added,-- “Come, my dear Champcey; don’t blame an old friend who has done what he thought was his duty to do.” Daniel was too painfully affected to pay much attention to the conclusive and sensible reasons alleged by the chief surgeon; he saw nothing but that his friends had taken advantage of his condition to keep him in the dark. Still he also felt that it would have been black ingratitude and stupid obstinacy to preserve in his heart a shadow of resentment. He therefore, took the hand that was offered him, and, pressing it warmly, replied in a tone of deep emotion,-- “Whatever the future may have in store for me, doctor, I shall never forget that I owe my life to your devotion.” As usually, when he felt that excitement was overcoming him,--a very rare event, to tell the truth,--the old surgeon fell back into his rough and abrupt manner. If any one owes me thanks, it is Miss Ville-Handry; and I beg you will remind her of it when she is your wife. And now you will be good enough to dismiss all those dismal ideas, and remember that you have only five days longer to tremble with impatience in this abominable country.” He spoke easily enough of it,--five days! It was an eternity for a man in Daniel’s state of mind. The last mail had brought him the news of his appointment to a judgeship, which he had long anxiously desired, and which would enable him to return, not only to France, but to his native province. He meant to sail in a frigate which was to leave towards the end of the month, and in which Crochard, also, was to be sent home.

“In this way,” he said, “I shall arrive at the same time as the accused, and very soon after the papers, which were sent home last week; and I trust and hope I shall be allowed to conduct the trial of an affair, which, so far, has gone smoothly enough in my hands.” His impassive air was gone; and that official mask was laid aside, which might have been looked upon as much a part of his official costume as the black gown which was lying upon one of his trunks. He must be a cool swindler, brimful of cunning and astuteness, familiar with all the tricks of criminal courts, and not so easily overcome. It will be no child’s play, I am sure, to prove that he was the instigator of Crochard’s crimes, and that he has hired him with his own money. “Professional enthusiasm carries him away; and here he is, troubling himself about the discussions in court, neither less nor more than Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet. He thinks only of the honor he will reap for having handed over to the jury such a formidable rascal as”-- But the lawyer had not sent for Daniel to speak to him of his plans and his hopes. Champcey was on the point of sailing, he wished to tell him that he would receive a very important packet, which he was desired to hand to the court as soon as he reached Paris. “This is, you understand,” he concluded, “an additional precaution which we take to prevent Maxime de Brevan from escaping us.” It was five o’clock when Daniel left the court-house; and on the little square before it he found the old surgeon, waiting to carry him off to dinner, and a game of whist in the evening. He tried in vain to get rid of the fixed idea which filled his mind,--a mechanical instinct, so to say, which was stronger than his will, and drove him incessantly to the wharf where “The Saint Louis” was lying. Sitting on some bags of rice, he spent hour after hour in watching the cargo as it was put on board.

Then, when he could no longer bear the sight, he went to the cafe on the wharf, where the captain of “The Saint Louis” was generally to be found. At five o’clock I get my mail at the post-office; and to-morrow morning we are off. I was just going to send you word that you had better sleep on board.” That evening the officers of “The Conquest,” gave Daniel a farewell dinner; and it was nearly midnight, when, after having once more shaken hands most cordially with the old chief surgeon, he took possession of his state-room, one of the largest on board ship, in which they had put up two berths, so that, in case of need, Lefloch might be at hand to attend his master. Then at last, towards four o’clock in the morning, Daniel was aroused by the clanking of chains, accompanied by the singing of the sailors. “The Saint Louis” was a first-class sailer; and the captain, stimulated by the presence of a navy lieutenant, always exacted the utmost from his ship; so that on the seventeenth day after they had left Saigon, on a fine winter afternoon, Daniel could see the hills above Marseilles rise from the blue waters of the Mediterranean. He was drawing near the end of the voyage and of his renewed anxieties.

He trembled as he thought of all the formalities which have to be observed when a ship arrives. Standing by the side of the captain, he was watching the masts, which looked as if they were loaded down with all the sails they could carry, when a cry from the lookout in the bow of the vessel attracted his attention. That man reported, at two ship’s lengths on starboard, a small boat, like a pilot-boat, making signs of distress. The captain and Daniel exchanged looks of disappointment. The slightest delay in the position in which they were, and at a season when night falls so suddenly, deprived them of all hope of going on shore that night. And who could tell how long it would take them to go to the rescue of that boat? There were two men in it, who hastened to come on the deck of the clipper. One was a sailor of about twenty, the other a man of perhaps fifty, who looked like a country gentleman, appeared ill at ease, and cast about him restless glances in all directions. But, whilst they were hoisting themselves up by the man-rope; the captain of “The Saint Louis” had had time to examine their boat, and to ascertain that it was in good condition, and every thing in it in perfect order.

Crimson with wrath, he now seized the young sailor by his collar; and, shaking him so roughly as nearly to disjoint his neck, he said with a formidable oath,-- “Are you making fun of me?

What wretched joke have you been playing?” Like their captain, the men on board, also, had discovered the perfect uselessness of the signals of distress which had excited their sympathy; and their indignation was great at what they considered a stupid mystification. Champcey of the navy?” Daniel, who had been a silent witness of the scene, now stepped forward, very much puzzled. “What do you desire?” But, instead of replying, the “gentleman” raised his hands to heaven in a perfect ecstasy of joy, and said in an undertone,-- “We triumph at last!” Then, turning to Daniel and the captain, he said,-- “But come, gentlemen, come! I must explain my conduct; and we must be alone for what I have to tell you.” Pale, and with every sign of seasickness in his face, when he had first appeared on deck, the man now seemed to have recovered, and, in spite of the rolling of the vessel, followed the captain and Daniel with a firm step to the quarter-deck. And yet I had the most powerful interest in boarding ‘The Saint Louis’ before she should enter port; therefore I did not hesitate.” He drew from his pocket a sheet of paper, simply folded twice, and said,-- “Here is my apology, Lieut. Champcey; see if it is sufficient.” Utterly amazed, the young officer read,-- “I am saved, Daniel; and I owe my life to the man who will hand you this. I shall owe to him the pleasure of seeing you again. Champcey.” A strange smile played on the man’s lips; and, shaking his head, he said, “I shall before long remind you of your promise, lieutenant.” Standing between the two men, the captain of “The Saint Louis” was looking alternately at the one and the other with an astonished air, listening without comprehending, and imagining marvellous things.

I believe I have treated the sailor who brought him on board a little roughly; but I am going to order him a glass of brandy, which will set him right again.” Thereupon the captain discreetly withdrew; while Papa Ravinet continued,-- “You will tell me, M. Champcey, that it would have been simpler to wait for you in port, and hand you my letter of introduction there. If I heard at the navy department of your arrival, others may have learned it as well. As soon, therefore, as ‘The Saint Louis’ was telegraphed in town, you may be sure a spy was sent to the wharf, who is going to follow you, never losing sight of you, and who will report all your goings and your doings.” “What does it matter?” “Ah! If our enemies hear of our meeting, you see, if they only find out that we have conversed together, all is lost. I tell you for five years I have lived only on the hope of being able to avenge myself on them. Yes, it is five years now, that, lost in the crowd, I have followed them with the perseverance of an Indian,--five years that I have patiently, incessantly, inch by inch, undermined the ground beneath their steps. I doubt whether they are aware of my existence. They triumph with impunity; they boast of their unpunished wickedness, and think they are strong, and safe from all attacks, because they have the prestige and the power of gold.

Every thing is ready; and I have only to touch the proud fabric of their crimes to make it come down upon them, and crush them all under the ruins. if I could see them only suffer one-fourth of what they have made me suffer, I should die content.” Papa Ravinet seemed to have grown a foot; his hatred convulsed his placid face; his voice trembled with rage; and his yellow eyes shone with ill-subdued passion. Daniel wondered, and asked himself what the people who had sworn to ruin him and Henrietta could have done to this man, who looked so inoffensive with his bright-flowered waistcoat and his coat with the high collar. Already the white country houses appeared on the high bluffs amid the pine-groves; and the outlines of the Castle of If were clearly penned on the deep blue of the sky. I did not come out so far, that they might see me enter on board ‘The Saint Louis.’” And when Daniel offered him his state-room, where he might remain in concealment, he replied,-- “No, no! We shall have time enough to come to an understanding about what is to be done in Paris; and I must go back by rail to-night; I came down for the sole purpose of telling you this. Neither Sarah nor Brevan know what has become of her; they think she has thrown herself into the river; and this conviction is our safety and our strength. Instead of going to your former lodgings, go to the Hotel du Louvre. I will see to it that my sister and Miss Ville-Handry shall have taken rooms there before you reach Paris; and you may be sure, that, in less than a quarter of an hour after your arrival, you will hear news.

When they were safely stowed away in it, and at the moment when they cast off the man-rope, Papa Ravinet called to Daniel,-- “We shall soon see you! At the same hour when Papa Ravinet, on the deck of “The Saint Louis,” was pressing Daniel’s hand, and bidding him farewell, there were in Paris two poor women, who prayed and watched with breathless anxiety,--the sister of the old dealer, Mrs.

Bertolle, the widow; and Henrietta, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry. He had peremptorily asked his sister for two thousand francs; had made Henrietta write in all haste a letter of introduction to Daniel; and had rushed out again like a tempest, as he had come in, without saying more than this,-- “M. I take the express train of quarter past seven. Their thoughts were far away, in spite of all their efforts to keep them at home, and followed the traveller. But neither of them knew anything of the journey from Paris to Marseilles. They were ignorant of the distances, the names of the stations, and even of the large cities through which the railroad passes.

And, quite proud of her happy thought, she went out instantly, hurried to the nearest bookstore, and soon reappeared, flourishing triumphantly a yellow pamphlet, and saying,-- “Now we shall see it all, my dear child.” Then, placing the guide on the tablecloth between them, they looked for the page containing the railway from Paris to Lyons and Marseilles, then the train which Papa Ravinet was to have taken; and they delighted in counting up how swiftly the “express” went, and all the stations where it stopped. Then, when the table was cleared, instead of going industriously to work, as usually, they kept constantly looking at the clock, and, after consulting the book, said to each other,-- “He is at Montereau now; he must be beyond Sens; he will soon be at Tonnerre.” A childish satisfaction, no doubt, and very idle. But who of us has not, at least once in his life, derived a wonderful pleasure, or perhaps unspeakable relief from impatience, or even grief, from following thus across space a beloved one who was going away, or coming home? What it was, they did not know; but they understood, or rather felt, that Daniel’s return would and must totally change the aspect of affairs. But there are moments in which we think electricity the slowest of messengers. At two o’clock nothing had come; and the poor women began to accuse the old dealer of having forgotten them, when, at last, the bell was rung. It is only a matter of a few hours.” She said this very quietly; but all who have ever undergone the anguish of expectation will know how it becomes more and more intolerable as the moment approaches that is to bring the decision. This time it was Henrietta who had taken the despatch; and, before opening it, she had half a minute’s fearful suspense, as if the paper had contained the secret of her fate. Up to this hour, until she held the proof in her hand, she had not allowed herself to hope. I am safe now.” But people do not die of joy; and, when she had recovered her equanimity, Henrietta understood how cruel she had been in the incoherent phrases that had escaped her in her excitement.

Without you Daniel would find nothing of me but a cross at the cemetery, and a name stained and destroyed by infamous calumnies.” The old lady did not hear a word. Ill-bred and coarse in Water Street, amid the thousand articles of his trade, he became a very different man as soon as he reached his sister’s house. As to the Widow Bertolle, she was evidently a woman of superior intellect and education. By reverses of fortune. “You saw, my dear child,” she began saying, “that my brother desires us to be ready to set out on a long journey as soon as he comes home.” “Yes, madam; and I am quite astonished.” “I understand; but, although I know no more than you do of my brother’s intentions, I know that he does nothing without a purpose. Towards five o’clock in the afternoon, all the preparations of the old lady and the young girl had been made; and all their things were carefully stowed away in three large trunks.

Still they were out of their reckoning. don’t you think I suffered when I thought of your impatience? “The man I had left in charge of him has foolishly lost sight of him.” Then noticing the trunks, he said,-- “But I am talking, and time flies. Here, you see, he could not have come twice without betraying the secret of your existence.” “But where are we going?” asked Mrs. She had, therefore, to drop anchor at some distance from the harbor, to the great disgust of the crew, who saw Marseilles all ablaze before them, and who could count the wineshops, and hear the songs of the half-drunken people as they walked down the wharves in merry bands. The least unhappy of them all was, for once, Daniel.

His nerves, strained to the utmost, relaxed; and he felt the delight of a man who can at last throw down a heavy burden which he has long borne on his shoulders. Good wind during the passage always brings good news upon landing.” That night, while “The Saint Louis” was rocking lazily over her anchors, was the first night, since Daniel had heard of Count Ville-Handry’s marriage, that he slept with that sweet sleep given by hope. He was only aroused by the noise of the people who came in the quarantine boat; and, when he came on deck, he found that there was nothing any longer to prevent his going on shore. The men had been actively engaged ever since early in the morning, to set things right aloft and below, so as to “dress” “The Saint Louis;” for every ship, when it enters port, is decked out gayly, and carefully conceals all traces of injuries she has suffered, like the carrier-pigeon, which, upon returning to his nest after a storm, dries and smooths his feathers in the sun. when he felt his foot once more standing on the soil of France, whence a vile plot had driven him long ago, his eyes flashed, and a threatening gesture boded ill to his enemies.

It looked as if he were saying to them,-- “Here I am, and my vengeance will be terrible!” Neither his joy nor his excitement, however, could make him forget the apprehensions of Papa Ravinet, although he thought they were eccentric, and very much exaggerated. Instead, therefore, of simply following the wharf, of going up Canebiere Street, and turning to the right on his way to the Hotel du Luxembourg, he went through several narrow streets, turning purposely every now and then. The man who thus watched him, with his nose in the air and his hands in his pockets, hardly suspected the danger which he ran by practising his profession within reach of Lefloch. The idea of being tracked put the worthy sailor into a red-hot fury; and he proposed nothing less than to “run foul” of the spy, and make an end of him for good. “I just go up to him, without making him aware of my presence. He won’t track anybody again.” Daniel had to use all his authority to keep him back, and found it still harder to convince him of the necessity to let the scamp not know that he had been discovered. But they could no longer doubt, when, just before dinner, as they looked out of the window, they saw the same man pass the hotel. At night they saw him again at the depot; and he took the same express train of 9.45 for Paris, in which they went. He thought of nothing but the one fact that he was in the same town now with Henrietta.

For such pay, the lean horses of any cab become equal to English thoroughbreds; and in three-quarters of an hour Daniel was installed in his room at the hotel, and waited with anxiety the return of the waiter. Might they not, excited as they both were, have easily made a mistake?” “In less than a quarter of an hour after your arrival,” Papa Ravinet had said to Daniel, “you shall have news.” Less than a quarter of an hour! Thinking that Henrietta might possibly occupy a room on the same floor with him, on the same side of the house, that he might even be separated from her only by a partition-wall, he felt like cursing Papa Ravinet, when there came a knock at the door. But, once outside, he was so overcome, that he lost his way in the long passages and interminable staircases, in spite of the directions hung up at every turn, and had finally to ask a waiter, who pointed out a door which he had passed half a dozen times, and said,-- “That is No. It was exactly two years since Daniel and Henrietta had been parted by the foulest treachery,--two years since that fatal evening when the stupidly ironical voice of Count Ville-Handry had suddenly made itself heard near them under the old trees of the garden of the palace. What unheard-of, most improbable events; what trials, what tribulations, what sufferings! There was not a day, so to say, in these two years, that had not brought them its share of grief and sorrow. How often both of them had despaired of the future! And yet, after all these storms, here they were reunited once more, in unspeakable happiness, forgetting every thing,--their enemies and the whole world, the anxieties of the past, and the uncertainty of the future. They will have to pay for everything.” Daniel, in the meantime, was recovering himself gradually; and reason once more got the better of his feelings.

He led Henrietta to an arm- chair at the corner of the fireplace, and sitting down in front of her, after having taken her hands in his own, he asked her to give him a faithful account of the two terrible years that had just come to an end. She had to tell him everything,--her humiliations in her father’s house, the insults she had endured, the wicked slanders by which her honor had been tainted, the incomprehensible blindness of the count, the surly provocations of her step-mother, the horrible attentions of Sir Thorn; in fine, the whole abominable plot which had been formed, as she found out too late, for the purpose of driving her to seek safety in flight, and to give herself up to Maxime de Brevan. to abandon his child to the mercy of such miserable wretches!” And, when the poor girl looked at him imploringly, he replied,-- “Be it so! I will say nothing more of the count. People like him do not die by the sword of honest men.” In the meantime Henrietta had resumed her history, and spoke of her surprise and amazement when she reached that bare room in Water Street, with its scanty second-hand furniture.

“And yet, Henrietta,” here broke in Daniel, “I had handed that man all my money to be placed at your disposal in case of any accident.” “What!” exclaimed the old dealer, “you had”-- He did not finish, but looked at the young officer with an utterly amazed air, as if he were an improbable phenomenon, never seen before. I believed in the friendship of that man.” “And besides,” remarked Mrs. But, when she came to the disgusting ill-treatment she received at the hands of the concierge’s wife, Daniel cried out,-- “Stop!” And, fearfully excited, he asked her,-- “Did I hear right?

Did you say the concierge of that house in Water Street, and his wife, were called Chevassat?” “Yes, why?” “Because Maxime de Brevan’s real name is Justin Chevassat.” Papa Ravinet started up as if he had been shot. I also know that my friend, the proud nobleman, Maxime de Brevan, who has been received in the most aristocratic salons of Paris, has been a galley-slave, condemned for forgery.” Henrietta had risen, filled with terror. I thought the mean coward would try to get you out of the way, Daniel. After having missed me twice, the assassin fired at me; and I was in my bed, a ball in my chest, dying.” “What has become of the murderer?” asked Papa Ravinet. “He was arrested.” “Then he confessed?” “Yes, thanks to the astonishing cleverness of the magistrate who carried on the investigation.” “What has become of him?” “He has left Saigon by this time. To be sure, ‘The Saint Louis’ may have gotten ahead of her. Yes, I shall!” But from that moment there was an end of that logical order which the old gentleman had so far kept up.

As it always happens with people who are under the influence of some passion, eager to learn what they do not know, and little disposed to tell what they do know, confusion prevailed soon. At last, after the lapse of this time, and by dint of great efforts, it became possible to ascertain the sum total of the information given by Papa Ravinet, Daniel, and Henrietta. The truth began to show itself in the midst of this chaos; and the plot of Sarah Brandon and her accomplices appeared in all its hideous outlines. A plan of striking simplicity, the success of which seemed to have hung upon a hair. If the old dealer, instead of going down by the backstairs, had taken the front staircase, he would never have heard Henrietta’s agony, and the poor child would have been lost. Champcey,” he began at last, “the more I think of it, the more I am convinced that Sarah Brandon had nothing to do with these attempts at assassination, which so nearly made an end of you. She is too strong in her perversity to stoop to such coarse means, which always leave traces behind, and finally lead to a court of justice. de Brevan.” The old gentleman did not seem to hear him, so intensely did he apply all the faculties of his mind to the problem before him. Could not Brevan have possessed himself of M.

Of course, he could. No; for at the time when he engaged Crochard, he could not foresee the atrocious outrages of which he would have become guilty during the succeeding year.

Then all of a sudden, looking strangely at Daniel, he asked him,-- “Could the Countess Sarah be in love with you, M. He had not forgotten that fatal evening, when, in the house in Circus Street, he had held Sarah Brandon in his arms; and the intoxicating delirium of that moment had left in his heart a bitter and undying pang of remorse. And even to-night, while giving very fully all the details of his passage out, and his residence in Saigon, he had not said a word of the letters which had been addressed to him by the countess. She laughed at me contemptuously, telling me that she had it in her power to make you do anything she chose, and offering to show me your letters”-- She paused a moment, turned her head aside, and said with a visible effort,-- “Finally, M. Thomas Elgin assured me that Sarah Brandon had been your mistress, and that the marriage with my father took place only in consequence of a quarrel between you.” Daniel had listened to her, trembling with indignation. You will tell me that we have ninety-nine chances out of a hundred on our side; maybe! Daniel felt it; and hence he said, without hesitating any longer, but looking stealthily at Henrietta’s face,-- “Since that is so, I will not conceal from you that the Countess Sarah has written me a dozen letters of at least extraordinary nature.” “You have kept them, I hope?” “Yes; they are all in one of my trunks.” Papa Ravinet was evidently much embarrassed; but at last he said,-- “Ah!

“Lefloch, my servant, must have come up by this time with the trunks; and, if you give me time to go down to my room, you shall have the letters at once.” He was on the point of leaving the room, when the old dealer held him back, and said,-- “Sir, you forget the man who has been following you all the way from Marseilles.

Daniel went down promptly; and, when he came back, he held in his hand a bundle of faded and crumpled papers, which he handed to Papa Ravinet, with the words,-- “Here they are!” Strange as it may seem, when the old gentleman touched these letters, impregnated with the peculiar perfume affected by Sarah Brandon, he trembled and turned pale. Immediately, however, perhaps in order to conceal his embarrassment, or to be the better able to reflect, he took a candlestick from the mantlepiece, and sat down aside, at one of the small tables. Bertolle, Daniel, and Henrietta were silent; and nothing broke the stillness but the rustling of the paper, and the old gentleman’s voice as he muttered,-- “This is fabulous,--Sarah writing such things! Well, well, all heartless women love thus when a sudden passion conquers them, setting their brains and their senses on fire, and”-- Daniel noticed in Henrietta’s face a sign of concern; and, quite distressed, he beckoned to the old gentleman to say nothing more. But he saw nothing, full as he was of his notion, and went on,-- “Now I understand. Sarah Brandon has not been able to keep her secret; and Brevan, seeing her love, and furious with jealousy, did not consider that to hire an assassin was to ruin himself.” The indignation he felt had restored the blood to his face; and, as he struck the packet of letters with the palm of his hand, he exclaimed,-- “Yes, all is clear now; and by this correspondence, Sarah Brandon, you are ours!” What could be the plan of Papa Ravinet? “You see, to use a woman’s correspondence, however odious and contemptible she may be, would always be very repugnant to me.” “I had no idea of asking such a thing of you,” replied the old dealer.

Bertolle, who sat there silent and immovable; and now he raised his head, and, looking attentively at Henrietta and Daniel by turns, he added,-- “Perhaps you are both not exactly conscious of the position in which you stand. Having been reunited to-night, after such terrible trials, and having, both of you, escaped, almost by a miracle, from death, you feel, no doubt, as if all trouble was at an end, and the future was yours. If you sin against social conventionalities, you risk your whole happiness of life. And Miss Henrietta has been too much calumniated already.” To soar in the azure air, and suddenly to fall back into the mud on earth; to indulge in the sweetest of dreams, and all at once to be recalled to stern reality,--this is what Daniel and Henrietta endured at that moment. The calm, collected voice of the old dealer sounded cruel to them. Evidently not; for the moment Sarah Brandon hears that Miss Henrietta has not committed suicide, but is, instead, at the Hotel du Louvre, within easy reach of M. For another year, Miss Henrietta is yet under paternal control; that is, in this case, at the mercy of a revengeful step-mother, who looks upon her as a successful rival.” At this idea, that Henrietta might be once more taken from him, Daniel felt his blood chill off in his veins; and he exclaimed,-- “Ah, and I never dreamed of any of these things!

Of all he once owned, of his lands, forests, castles, deeds, and bonds, there is nothing left. His last cent, his last rod of land, has been taken from him. You left him living like a prince in his forefathers’ palace: you will find him vegetating in the fourth story of a lodging-house.

The day is drawing near when Sarah Brandon will get rid of him, as she has gotten rid of Kergrist, of Malgat the poor cashier, and others. Already the name of Count Ville-Handry is seriously compromised. If he cannot pay to-day, he will be to-morrow accused of fraudulent bankruptcy. “Poor, honest young man!” he said with an accent of bitter irony. That he understood nothing of business? Brian.” “Well; but how shall we get such evidence?” The old gentleman cast a look of intelligence at his sister, smiled, and said with a strange accent in his voice,-- “I have collected some. Still he did not object; he bowed his head under the clear eye of Henrietta, and said in a low voice,-- “I will do what you wish me to do, sir.” The old gentleman uttered a low cry of delight, as if he had been relieved of an overwhelming anxiety. It struck midnight; but the poor people in the little parlor in the Hotel du Louvre hardly thought of sleep. How could they have become aware of the flight of time, as long as all their faculties were bent upon the immense interests that were at stake? On the struggle which they were about to undertake depended Count Ville-Handry’s life and honor, and the happiness and whole future life of Daniel and Henrietta.

Her real name, by which she was known up to her sixteenth year, is Ernestine Bergot; and she was born in Paris, in the suburb of Saint Martin, just on the line of the corporation. To tell you in detail what the first years of Sarah were like would be difficult indeed. There are things of that kind which do not bear being mentioned. “Her mother was one of those unfortunate women of whom Paris devours every year several thousands; who come from the provinces in wooden shoes, and are seen, six months later, dressed in all the fashion; and who live a short, gay life, which invariably ends in the hospital. Thus the little one grew up by God’s mercy, but at the Devil’s bidding, living by chance, now stuffed with sweet things, and now half-killed by blows, fed by the charity of neighbors, while her mother remained for weeks absent from her lodgings.

“Four years old, she wandered through the neighborhood dressed in fragments of silk or velvet, with a faded ribbon in her hair, but with bare feet in her torn shoes, hoarse, and shivering with severe colds,--very much after the fashion of lost dogs, who rove around open-air cooking-shops,--and looking in the gutters for cents with which to buy fried potatoes or spoilt fruit. “At a later time she extended the circle of her excursions, and wandered all over Paris, in company of other children like herself, stopping on the boulevards, before the brilliant shops or performing jugglers, trying to learn how to steal from open stalls, and at night asking in a plaintive voice for alms in behalf of her poor sick father. Merely upon seeing her go along, her head high with an air of saucy indifference, coquettish under her rags, and walking with elastic steps, you would have guessed in her the young Parisian girl, the sister of the poor ‘gamin,’ a thousand times more wicked than her brothers, and far more dangerous to society. She was as depraved as the worst of sinners, fearing neither God nor the Devil, nor man, nor anything. “For from them she derived the only notions of morality she ever possessed; otherwise, it would have been love’s labor lost to talk to her of virtue or of duty. “One day, however, her mother, who had virtually made a servant of her, had a praiseworthy inspiration. Finding that she had some money, she dressed her anew from head to foot, bought her a kind of outfit, and bound her as an apprentice to a dressmaker. “Every kind of restraint was naturally intolerable to such a vagabond nature.

The order and the regularity of the house in which she lived were a horror to her. At the end of the first week, therefore, she ran away from the dressmaker, stealing a hundred francs. “But her mother had moved away, and no one knew what had become of her. The same day she entered as waiter in a cheap coffee-house.

Sent away here, also, she became a servant in two or three other places of still lower character; then, at last, utterly disgusted, she determined to do nothing at all. “She was sinking into the gutter, she was on the point of being lost before she had reached womanhood, like fruit which spoils before it is ripe, when a man turned up who was fated to arm her for life’s Struggle, and to change the vulgar thief into the accomplished monster of perversity whom you know.” Here Papa Ravinet suddenly paused, and, looking at Daniel, said,-- “You must not believe, M.

I have spent five years of my life in tracing out Sarah’s early life,--five years, during which I have been going from door to door, ever in search of information. And then I have witnesses to prove everything I have told you so far,--witnesses whom I shall summon, and who will speak whenever the necessity arises to establish the identity of the Countess Sarah.” Daniel made no reply. The latter, after having rested for a few minutes, went on,-- “The man who picked up Sarah was an old German artist, painter and musician both, of rare genius, but a maniac, as they called him. The good German used often to speak of the deep compassion which seized him as he saw this tall girl of fourteen come into his studio,--a child, stained by vice already, thin like hunger itself, and shivering in her thin calico dress. But he was at the same time almost dazzled by the rich promises of beauty in her face, the pure notes of her superb voice, which had withstood so far, and the surprising intelligence beaming in her features. Sarah had no roof over her head, and had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours.

“She accepted, be it understood, not doubting, in her perversity, but that this kind old man had other intentions besides those he mentioned in offering her a home. He recognized in her marvellous talents, and thought of nothing but of making of her a true marvel, which should astonish the world. He devoted himself heart and soul to his new favorite, with all the enthusiastic ardor of an artist, and all the jealous passion of an amateur.

Some of the neighbors told me that he treated her harshly, beating her often brutally; but neither threats nor blows were apt to make an impression on Sarah Brandon. A friend of the old man’s thought he had guessed the riddle: he thought the old artist had succeeded in arousing Sarah’s pride. “‘Follow my counsels,’ he used to say to her, ‘and at twenty you will be a queen,--a queen of beauty, of wit, and of genius. Among men there will be none so noble, none so great, none so rich, but he will beg for one of your looks; and they will fight for one of your smiles. Only work and study!’ “At all events, Sarah did work, and studied with a steady perseverance which spoke of her faith in the promises of her old master, and of the influence he had obtained over her through her vanity. “It is true that her innate sagacity had made her soon find out how ignorant she was of the world. She saw that society did not exclusively consist, as she had heretofore imagined, of people like those she had known.

“At last she actually learned to know the tree of good fruit, after having for so many years known only the tree of forbidden fruit. And he knew much; for the eccentric old man had travelled for a long time over the world, and observed man on every step of the social ladder. He had been a favorite artist at the court of Vienna; he had had several of his operas brought out in Italy; and he had been admitted to the best society in Paris. At night, therefore, while sipping his coffee, his feet on the andirons, and his long pipe in his mouth, he would soon forget himself amid the recollections of his youth.

He described to her the splendor of courts, the beauty of women, the magnificence of their toilets, and the intrigues which he had seen going on around him. He spoke to her of the men whose portraits he had painted, of the manners and the jealousies behind the stage, and of the great singers who had sung in his operas. “Thus it came about, that, two years later, no one would have recognized the lean, wretched-looking vagabond of the suburbs in this fresh, rosy girl, with the lustrous eyes and the modest mien, whom they called in the house the ‘pretty artist in the fifth story.’ “And yet the change was only on the surface.

“Sarah was already too thoroughly corrupted, when the good German picked her up, to be capable of being entirely changed. “The soul remained corrupt; and all the charms with which it was outwardly adorned became only so many base allurements, like those beautiful flowers which unfold their splendor on the surface of bottomless swamps, and thus lead those whom they attract to miserable death. “At that time, however, Sarah did not yet possess that marvellous self-control which became one of her great charms hereafter; and at the end of two years she could endure this peaceful atmosphere no longer; she grew homesick after sin. “As she was already a very fair musician, and her voice, trained by a great master, possessed amazing power, she urged her old teacher to procure her an engagement at one of the theatres.

He wanted to secure to his pupil one of those debuts which are an apotheosis; and he had decided, as he told her, that she should not appear in public till she had reached the full perfection of her voice and her talent,--certainly not before her nineteenth or twentieth year. She asked herself where she could go, alone, without money, without friends, and what she should do, and what would become of her. “She knew what destitution meant, and she was afraid of it now.

“When she thought of the life her mother had led,--a long series of nights spent in orgies, and of days without bread; that life of distress and disgrace, when she depended on the whims of a good-for-nothing, or the suspicions of a police constable,--Sarah felt the cold perspiration break out on her temples.

“Perhaps, in spite of everything, in spite of herself and her execrable instincts, Sarah might have become a great artist, if the old German had not been taken from her by a terrible accident. “One fine afternoon in April, in the beginning of spring, he was smoking his pipe at the window, when he heard a noise in the street, and leaned over to see. “I have held in my own hands the police report of the accident. It states that the fall was unavoidable; and that, if no such calamity had occurred before, this was due to the simple fact, that, during the bad weather, nobody had thought of looking out of the window. The castings of the little railing in front were found to be broken in two places, and so long ago, that a thick layer of rust had filled up the cracks. His relatives, of whom several lived in Paris, rushed to his rooms; and their first act was to dismiss Sarah, after having searched her trunks, and after giving her to understand that she ought to be very grateful if she was allowed to take away all she said she owed to the munificence of her late patron.

I have long endeavored to find out what had become of the various bonds and the ready money of the old artist; for everybody who had known him agreed that there must be some. Do you know what I discovered by dint of indefatigable investigations? I procured leave to examine the books of the savings-bank in which he invested his earnings for the year of his death; and I found there, that on the 17th of April, that is, five days before the poor German’s fall, a certain Ernestine Bergot had deposited a sum of fifteen hundred francs.” “Ah, you see!” exclaimed Daniel. “Weary of the simple life with the old man, she murdered him in order to get hold of his money.” But the old gentleman continued, as if he had heard nothing,-- “What Sarah did during the three first months of her freedom, I cannot tell. A clerk in the mayor’s office, who is a great lover of curiosities, and for whom I have procured many a good bargain, had all the lists of lodging-houses for the four months from April to July carefully examined; but no Ernestine Bergot could be found. “I am quite sure, however, that she thought of the stage. One of the former secretaries of the Lyric Theatre told me he recollected distinctly a certain Ernestine, beautiful beyond description, who, came several times, and requested a trial. And this was quite natural; for her head was still full of all the ambitious dreams of the old artist.

“The first positive trace I find of Sarah in that year appears towards the end of summer.

She was then living in a fashionable street with a young painter full of talent, and very rich, called Planix. The friends of the unfortunate young man were sure she did not.

Hence she often complained of his love, which restrained her cherished liberty; and still she bore it patiently till fate threw in her way Maxime de Brevan.” At the name of the wretch who had been so bent upon ruining them both, and who had been so nearly successful, Henrietta and Daniel trembled, and looked at each other. But Papa Ravinet did not give them, time to ask any questions, and continued, as calmly as if he had been reading a report,-- “It was several years before this, that Justin Chevassat, released from the galleys, had made a nobleman of himself, and claimed before all the world to be Maxime de Brevan. We need not be surprised, in this age of ours, where impudence takes the place of everything else, that he should have promptly succeeded in making his way into high life, and in being admitted to many houses which were considered more or less exclusive. Chevassat, now concierges of No.

23 Water Street, were, some thirty-eight or forty years ago, living in the upper part of the suburb of Saint Honore. They had a very modest little shop, partly restaurant, partly bar: their customers were generally the servants of the neighborhood. They were people of easy principles and loose morals,--as there are so many in our day,--honest enough as long as there is nothing to be gained by being otherwise. As their trade prospered, they were not dishonest; and, when any of their customers forgot their portemonnaies at the shop, they always returned them. There was rejoicing in the shop; and the child was christened Justin, in honor of his godfather, who was no less a personage than the valet of the Marquis de Brevan.

This thought now began to occupy the minds of his parents incessantly. These stupid people, who had a business which supported them handsomely, and enabled them, in the course of time, to amass a small fortune, did not see that the best thing they could have done would have been to enlarge it, and to leave it to their son. They vowed they would sacrifice all their savings, and deprive themselves even of the necessaries of life, in order that their Justin might become a ‘gentleman.’ “And what a gentleman! The mother dreamed of him as a rich broker, or, at the very least, a notary’s first clerk. The father preferred seeing him a government official, holding one of those much-coveted places, which give the owner, after twenty-five years’ service, a title, and an income of some six or seven hundred dollars. “The result of all these speculations was, that, at the age of nine, Master Justin was sent to a high school. He conducted himself there just badly enough to be perpetually on the brink of being sent away, without ever being really expelled. They had become so accustomed to look upon their son as a superior being, that it never entered their mind to think he was not the first, the best, and the most remarkable pupil of the establishment. If Justin’s reports were bad,--and they were always bad,--they accused the teachers of partiality. If he gained no prize at the end of the year,--and he never got any,--they did not know what to do for him to console him for having been victimized by such cruel injustice.

“The consequences of such a system need hardly be stated. “When Justin was fourteen years old, he despised his parents thoroughly, treated them like servants, and was so much ashamed of them, that he would not allow his mother to come and see him in the parlor of the college to which he had been admitted of late. When he was at home during vacations, he would have cut his right arm off rather than help his father, or pour out a glass of wine for a customer. His course was not completed; but, as he was tired of college-life, he declared he would not return there, and he never did return.

“To dress in the height of fashion; to walk up and down before the most renowned restaurants, with a toothpick in his mouth; to hire a carriage, and drive it himself, having a hired groom in livery by his side,--this was the delight of those days. “His parents had rented for him, and comfortably furnished, a nice set of rooms in their house, and tried by all manner of servility to keep him at home, neglecting even their own business in order to be always ready for his orders. He said he could not possibly receive his friends in a house where his name was to be seen on the signboard of such a low establishment. “It was his despair to be the son of a restaurant-keeper, and to be called Chevassat. “One fine morning when he needed a couple of hundred dollars, his parents told him, with tears in their eyes, that they had not twenty dollars in the house; that they were at the end of their resources; that the day before a note of theirs had been protested; and that they were at that moment on the brink of bankruptcy. And, with fear and trembling, they at last ventured to suggest, that perhaps it would be well if he should seek some kind of work. He went, therefore, in search of some employment; and his godfather, the valet, found one for him at the house of a banker, who was in want of a reliable young man to be trained for his business, and hereafter to be intrusted with the management of his funds.” Papa Ravinet’s voice changed so perceptibly as he uttered these last words, that Daniel and Henrietta, with one impulse, asked him,-- “Is anything the matter, sir?” He did not make any reply; but his sister, Mrs. Bertolle, said,-- “No, there is nothing the matter with my brother;” and she looked at him with a nod of encouragement. Then, making a great effort, he continued,-- “Justin Chevassat was at twenty precisely what you know him to be as Maxime de Brevan,--a profound dissembler, a fierce egotist devoured by vanity, in fine, a man of ardent passions, and capable of anything to satisfy his desires.

“The hope of getting rich at once by some great stroke was already so deeply rooted in his mind, that it gave him the strength to change his habits and manner of life from one day to another, and to keep up the deceit with a perseverance unheard of at his age. This lazy, profligate gambler rose with the day, worked ten hours a day, and became the model of all clerks.

He had resolved to win the favor of his patron, and to be trusted. So that, only two years after he had first been admitted into the house, he had already been promoted to a place which conferred upon him the keeping of all the valuables of the firm. “This occurred before those accidents which have, since that time, procured for the keepers of other people’s money such a sad reputation. Nowadays it seems almost an ordinary event to hear of some cashier’s running away with the funds intrusted to his keeping; and no one is astonished. “At the time of which I am now speaking, defalcations were quite rare as yet. Financial companies and brokers did not contemplate being robbed by their own clerks as one of the ordinary risks. When they knew the keys of their safe to be in the hands of an honest man, whose family and mode of life were well known, they slept soundly. Justin Chevassat’s patron was thus sleeping soundly for ten months, when one Sunday he was specially in need of certain bonds which Justin used to keep in one of the drawers of his desk. He had the other drawers opened likewise, searched them, and soon discovered all the details of a formidable and most ingenious plan, by which he was to be robbed at a single blow of more than a million. His favorite clerk was a wretch, a forger of matchless skill.

A minute and careful examination of all the papers soon revealed other misdeeds. Since that time not a week had passed without his laying hands on a more or less considerable sum; and all these thefts had been most ingeniously covered by such skilful imitations of other people’s signatures, that he had once been sick for a fortnight, and yet his substitute had never become aware of anything. In fine, it appeared that the sum total of his defalcations amounted to some eighty thousand dollars. He was like one of those men who allow their little finger to be caught in a machine. “He laid great stress upon the fact that his whole eighty thousand dollars had been lost on ‘Change, and that he would have looked upon himself as the meanest of rascals, if he had spent any part of it on his personal enjoyments. Unfortunately the forged checks and drafts in his drawer destroyed the force of this plea. Convinced that the sums he had thus obtained were not lost, the investigating magistrate suspected the parents of the accused.

“Matters looked very serious for him; but he had the good luck of falling in with a young lawyer who initiated in his case a system of pleading which has since become very popular. ‘Was it the act of a sensible man,’ he said, ‘to trust so young a man with such important sums? Was it not tempting him beyond his powers of resistance, and almost provoking him to become dishonest? What kind of a business was it, where a cashier could so easily take eighty thousand dollars, and remain undiscovered?

“What he was at the galleys, you may imagine from what you know of him. He played the ‘repentant criminal,’ overflowing with professions of sorrow for the past, and amendment in future, and cringing and crouching at the feet of the officials of the prison. The contact with the vilest of criminals had sharpened his wits, and completed his education in rascality. He came out of prison an accomplished felon. He conceived the idea of bursting forth in a new shape, under which no one would ever suspect his former identity. Through his godfather, the valet, who had died before his trial, Justin Chevassat knew the history of the Brevan family in its minutest details. He knew that the Brevans were originally from Maine; that they had formerly owned immense estates in the neighborhood of Mans; and that they had not been there for more than twenty years.

Would people take the trouble to inquire minutely what had become of the marquis and his five sons? “As soon as he was free once more, he devoted all his energies to the destruction of every trace of his identity; and, when he thought he had accomplished this, he went to Mans, assuming the name of one of the sons of the marquis, who had been nearly of his own age. Who could have doubted it, when he purchased the old family mansion for a considerable sum, although it only consisted of a ruinous castle, and a small farm adjoining the house? He paid cash, moreover, proving thus the correctness of the magistrate’s suspicions as to his story about losses on ‘Change, and as to the complicity of his parents. He even took the precaution of living on his little estate for four years, practising the life of a country-gentleman, received with open arms by the nobility of the neighborhood, forming friendships, gaining supporters, and becoming more and more identified with Maxime de Brevan. “He was on the point of marrying a young lady from Mans, who would have brought him half a million in money, and the banns had already been published, when, all of a sudden, the marriage was broken off, no one knew why. Perhaps they divined each other’s character, perhaps they had an intuitive perception of who they were.

“They met frequently; and, if it were not profanation, I would say they loved each other. Love had torn the mask from their faces; and each one vied with the other in letting the foulness of their past days be seen clearly. This, no doubt, secured, first the constancy of their passion, and the continuation of their intimacy long after they had ceased loving each other. “For now they hate each other; but they are also afraid of each other. Ten times they have tried to break off their intimacy; and as often they have been compelled to renew it, bound as they feel they are to each other by a chain far more oppressive and solid than the one Justin Chevassat wore at the galleys. de Brevan, however economical he had been, he had come to an end of the sums stolen from his employer. For eight or ten months now, he had been reduced to all kinds of dangerous expedients in order to live. He visited them, of course only in secret; for they had in the meantime exchanged their shop, for the modest little box assigned to the concierge of No. “‘Ah!’ she said to him on this occasion, and often thereafter, ‘why can’t we have that fool’s money?’ meaning her friend and lover, M. One would be at a loss to guess how she could obtain this from a young, healthy man, full of life and happiness, if it were not that love will explain everything.

Planix one of his friends, who was considered, and who really was, the best swordsman in Paris, a good fellow otherwise, honor itself, and rather patient in temper than given to quarrelling. Planix of his persecution, and knew so skilfully how to excite his jealousy, and to wound his vanity, that, three days later, he allowed himself to be carried away by passion, and struck M. de Font-Avar in the presence of a dozen friends.

The duel came off one Saturday morning, in the woods near Vincennes. Accomplished actress as she was, she could hardly manage to shed a few tears for the benefit of the public, when the body, still warm, was brought to the house. “Even as she knelt by the bedside, hiding her face in her handkerchief, she was thinking only of the testament, lying safe and snug, as she knew, in one of the drawers of that bureau, enclosed in a large official envelope with a huge red wax seal. “It was opened and read the same day by the justice of the peace, who had been sent for to put the seals on the deceased man’s property. Her tears were tears of rage. For seized by a kind of remorse, and at a moment when Sarah’s absence had rendered him very angry, M. “He still said, ‘I appoint Miss Ernestine Bergot my residuary legatee’; but he had written underneath, ‘on condition that she shall pay to each of my sisters the sum of a hundred and fifty thousand francs.’ This was more than three-fourths of his whole fortune. He had systems of his own which could not fail, and which he was bent upon trying. “He proposed to Sarah to risk the hundred thousand francs, promising to make a million out of them; and she yielded, tempted by the very boldness of his proposition. Twice they were on the point of staking their last thousand-franc-note; and one lucky day they won as much as four hundred thousand francs.

Victory remained, as usual, with, the ‘big battalions;’ and one evening the two partners returned to their lodgings, ruined, penniless, having not even a watch left, and owing the hotel-keeper a considerable sum of money. “That evening Maxime spoke of blowing his brains out. What had become of her? “By dint of meditating, and recollecting all he could gather in his memory, M. de Brevan remembered having seen Sarah two or three times, since fortune had forsaken them, in close conversation with a tall, thin gentleman of about forty years, who was in the habit of wandering through the rooms, and attracted much attention by his huge whiskers, his stiff carriage, and his wearied expression. At the Hotel of the Three Kings. “Sure of his game now, M. He found no trace of the fugitives. During the five months of their intimacy, she had gained such complete ascendency over him, that now, when he was left to his own strength, he felt like a lost child, having no thought and no resolution.

“What was to become of him, now that this woman was no longer there to sustain and inspire him,--that woman with the marvellous talent for intrigue, the matchless courage that shrank from nothing, and the energy which sufficed for everything? Sarah had, besides, filled his imagination with such magnificent hopes, and opened before his covetous eyes such a vast horizon of enjoyment, that he had come to look upon things as pitiful, which would formerly have satisfied his highest wishes. Should he, after having dreamed of those glorious achievements by which millions are won in a day, sink back again into the meanness of petty thefts? Where could he get the money to pay them, at least, a percentage of his dues? Were all of his dark works to be useless? if our honest friends could but know what misery, what humiliations and anxieties are hid beneath that false splendor of high life, which they often envy, they would think themselves fully avenged. Often and often, in his hours of distress, he recalled her parting promise, ‘You shall see me again when our fortune is made.’ He knew she was quite capable of amassing millions; but, when she had them, would she still think of him? What could have become of her?

“That tall, light-haired gentleman, that eminently respectable lady, who had carried her off, were M. All I know is, that they belonged to that class of adventurers whom one sees at all the watering-places and gambling-resorts,--at Nice, at Monaco, and during the winter in Italy; swindlers of the highest class, who unite consummate skill with excessive caution; who are occasionally suspected, but never found out; and who are frequently indebted to their art of making themselves agreeable, and even useful to others, to the carelessness of travellers, and their thorough knowledge of life, for the acquaintance, or even friendship, of people whom one is astonished to find in such company. They did not hesitate, therefore, to offer her a compact by which she was to be a full partner, although they themselves had to risk all they possessed,--a capital of some twenty thousand dollars. You have seen what these respectable people proposed to make of her,--a snare and a pitfall. They knew very well that her matchless beauty would catch fools innumerable, and bring in a rich harvest of thousand-franc-notes. “In almost all the capitals of Europe, you will find even now some of these almost sublimely beautiful creatures, who are exhibited in the great world by cosmopolitan adventurers. They have six or seven years,--eighteen to twenty-five,--during which, their beauty and their tact may secure an immense fortune to themselves and their comrades; and according to chance, to their skill, or the whims or the folly of men, they end by marrying some great personage in high life, or by keeping a wretched gambling hell in the suburbs.

They may fall upon the velvet cushions of a princely carriage, or sink, step by step, to the lowest depths of society. Brian had agreed that they would exhibit Sarah in Paris; that she was to marry a duke with any number of millions; and that they should be paid for their trouble by receiving an annual allowance of some ten thousand dollars. But, in order to undertake the adventure with a good chance of success, it was indispensable that Sarah should lose her nationality as a Parisian; that she should rise anew, as an unknown star; and, above all, that she should be trained and schooled for the profession she was to practise.

They had hardly landed, when they found that they could easily introduce the girl as the daughter of Gen. In this way, Ernestine Bergot appeared at once in the best society of Philadelphia as Sarah Brandon. Elgin also purchased, in spite of his limited means, for a thousand dollars, vast tracts of land in the western part of the State, where there was no trace of oil-wells, but where there might very well be a good many, and had them entered upon the name of his ward. “Of all these measures, I have the evidence in hand, and can produce it at any moment.” For some time already, Daniel and Henrietta had looked at each other with utter amazement. They were almost dumfounded by the prodigious sagacity, the cunning, patience, and labor which the old dealer must have employed to collect this vast mass of information. Brian found out in a few days how well they had been served by their instincts in taking hold of Sarah. In less than six months, this wonderful girl, whose education they had undertaken, spoke English as well as they did, and had become their master, controlling them by the very superiority of her wickedness. Brian explained to her the part she was expected to play, she had assumed it so naturally and so perfectly, that all traces of art disappeared at once. She had instinctively appreciated the immense advantage she would derive from personifying a young American girl, and the irresistible effect she might easily produce by her freedom of movement and her bold ingenuousness.

Finally, at the end of eighteen months’ residence in America, M. A tall man opened the door of the sitting-room; and, at the sight of a young lady who sat before the fire, he could not help exclaiming, ‘Ernestine, is that you?’ “But she interrupted him at once, saying, ‘You are mistaken: Ernestine Bergot is dead, and buried by the side of Justin Chevassat, my dear M. Familiar as she was with the life of adventurers in high life, she had soon learned to appreciate M.

She saw him now as he really was,--timid, overcautious, petty, incapable of conceiving bold combinations, scarcely good enough for the smallest of plots, ridiculous, in fine, as all needy scamps are. On the point of entering upon a most dangerous game, she felt the necessity of having one accomplice, at least, in whom she could trust blindly. On the other hand, Maxime de Brevan was entirely hers, dependent on her pleasure, as the lump of clay in the hands of the sculptor. “It is true that Maxime appeared almost distressed when he heard that that immense fortune which he coveted with all his might was still to be made, and that Sarah was no farther advanced now than she was on the day of their separation. She might even have said that she was less so; for the two years and more which had just elapsed had made a large inroad upon the savings of M.

When they had paid for their establishment in Circus Street, when they had advanced the hire of a coupe, a landau, and two saddle-horses, they had hardly four thousand dollars left in all. They were determined to fall furiously upon the first victim that should pass within reach, when chance brought to them the unlucky cashier of the Mutual Discount Society, Malgat.” XXXI. For a few moments the fatigue of the old dealer seemed to have disappeared. And still it is those that appear most insignificant which we ought to fear most, because they alone determine our fate, precisely as an atom of sand dismembers the most powerful engine. “It was on a fine afternoon in the month of October when Sarah Brandon appeared for the first time before the eyes of Malgat. He was at that time a man of forty, sprung from an old and respectable though modest family, content with his lot in life, and rather simple, as most men are who have always lived far from the intrigues of society.

He had one passion, however,--he filled the five rooms of his lodgings with curiosities of every kind, happy for a week to come, if he had discovered a piece of old china, or a curious piece of furniture, which he could purchase cheap. He was not rich, his whole patrimony having been long since spent on his collections; but he had a place that brought him some three thousand dollars; and he was sure of an ample pension in his old age. “He was honest in the highest sense of the word; his honesty being instinctive, so to say, never reasoning, never hesitating. For fifteen years now, he had been cashier; and hundreds of millions had passed through his hands without arousing in him a shadow of covetousness. Their confidence in him was so great, that they would have laughed in the face of any one who should have come and told them, ‘Malgat is a thief!’ “Such he was, when, that morning, he was standing near his safe, and saw a gentleman come to his window who had just cashed a check drawn by the Central Bank of Philadelphia upon the Mutual Discount Bank. “How can I describe to you the sensations of the poor cashier as he beheld this amazing beauty! He could hardly stammer out a few incoherent words; and the gentleman and the young lady had long since left, when he was still lost in a kind of idiotic delight.

He had been overtaken by one of those overwhelming passions which sometimes felled to the ground the strongest and simplest of men at the age of forty. To be sure, Malgat was very far from that ideal of a millionaire husband of whom these adventurers dreamed; but, after all, he held the keys of a safe in which lay millions. One might always get something out of him wherewith to wait for better things to come. Elgin presented himself alone at the office to ask for some information. By the end of the week, he had furnished Malgat with an opportunity to render him some trifling service. Thus relations began to exist between them; and, at the end of a fortnight, Sir Thorn could, with all propriety, ask the cashier to dine with him in Circus Street. A voice from within--one of those presentiments to which we ought always to listen--warned Malgat not to accept the invitation; but he was already no longer his own master. He thought those rapturous glances were genuine; he believed in the truthfulness of that intoxicating sweetness of her voice, and those enchanting blushes, which his coming never failed to call forth.

“Now began the second act of the hideous comedy. Brian appeared one day, all of a sudden, to notice something, and promptly requested Malgat never to put foot again within that house. She accused him of an attempt to seduce Sarah Brandon. how he protested, affirming the purity of his intentions, and swearing that he would be the happiest of mortals if they would condescend to grant him the hand of her niece. But Sir Thorn, in the haughtiest tone possible, asked him how he could dare think of such a thing, and presume that he could ever be a fit match for a young lady who had a dower of two hundred thousand dollars. If your love is true, if dangers and difficulties terrify you no more than they terrify me, knock to-morrow night, at ten o’clock, at the gate of the court. if he had taken her at her word, and answered her, offering her his arm,-- “‘Yes, let us flee,’ the plot might have been defeated, and he might have been saved; for she would certainly not have gone with him. “But with that clear perception which was a perfect marvel in her, and looked like the gift of second sight, she had taken the measure of the cashier, and exposed herself to the danger, well-knowing that he would shrink from doing what she asked. He said to himself that it would be a mean thing to abuse the attachment of this pure and trustful girl, to separate her from her family, and to ruin her forever.

“He did have this wonderful power of self-denial to dissuade her from taking such a step, and to induce her to be patient, giving time an opportunity of coming to their assistance, while he would do all he could to overcome the obstacles in the way. There was but one way, a single way, by which he could ever hope to obtain possession of this woman whom he worshipped; and that was the one she had herself proposed,--an abduction. But how could he reason at a moment when his whole mind was filled with thoughts of the most amazing happiness that ever was enjoyed by mortal being? “Whenever he thought of flight, there arose before him one obstacle which he could not overcome. Brian spoke of giving her in marriage to a friend of hers. And, with such troubles filling his head, the poor cashier had to attend to his daily duties, and from morning till night receive tens and hundreds of thousands; and never yet, I swear it, the thought occurred to him of taking a small fraction of these treasures. “He had determined to sell all his collections as a whole, at any price he could get, when one day, a few moments before the office closed, a lady appeared, whose ample dress concealed her figure, while a thick veil completely shrouded her features. Her breath went and came, causing her almost to sob at every respiration; and big tears, like scattered beads from a chaplet of pearls, rolled down her pale cheeks. “Malgat stood a moment before her, stunned by the blow; and the imminence of the danger extorted from him a confession of the reasons that had made him hesitate so long.

No money?’ “And when Malgat, more heartily ashamed of his poverty than he could have been of a crime, blushed to the roots of his hair, she pointed at the immense safe, which overflowed with gold and bank-notes, and said,-- “‘And what is all that?’ “Malgat jumped up, and stood before the safe, his arms far outstretched, as if to defend it, and said in an accent of ineffable terror,-- “‘What are you thinking of? Yes!’ “She immediately disengaged herself, and with eager hands seized one parcel of bank-notes after another, pushing them into a little morocco bag which she held in her hand. To-night at ten o’clock, at the gate of the court- yard, with a carriage. To-morrow, at daybreak, we shall be out of France, and free. And he let her go away.” The old gentleman had become ghastly white, his few hairs seemed to stand on end, and large drops of perspiration inundated his face as he swallowed at a gulp a cup of tea, and then went on, laughing bitterly,-- “You suppose, no doubt, that, when Sarah had left him, Malgat came to himself? “Far from repenting, he rejoiced at what had been done; and when he learned, that, on the following day, the board of directors were to meet to examine the books, he laughed at the faces they would make; for I told you he was mad. With all the coolness of a hardened thief, he calculated the total amount of what had been abstracted: it was four hundred thousand francs. Immediately, in order to conceal the true state of things, he took his books, and, with almost diabolic skill, altered the figures, and changed the entries, so as to make it appear that the defalcation was of long date, and that various sums had been abstracted for several months. When this was done, he left his office, as if nothing had happened.

“The proof that he acted under the incomprehensible influence of a kind of hallucination is this, that he felt neither remorse nor fear. As he was resolved not to return to his house, nor to encumber himself with luggage, he dined at a restaurant, spent a few minutes at a theatre, and then posted his letter to the board of directors, so that it might reach them early in the morning. “At ten o’clock he knocked at the gate of the house in Circus Street. In the parlor Sarah was sitting on a sofa, and Maxime de Brevan by her side. she might have spoken a long time yet, and Malgat would not have thought of interrupting her.

The fearful truth broke all of a sudden upon him; and he felt as if the whole world were going to pieces. He understood the enormity of the crime; he discerned the fatal consequences, and knew he was ruined. You are dishonored!’ “But, when he saw Sarah Brandon get up to leave the room, he was seized with an attack of furious rage, and threw himself upon her, crying,-- “‘Yes, I am lost; but you shall die, Sarah Brandon!’ “Poor fool! who did not know that these wretches had, of course, foreseen his wrath, and prepared for the emergency. Supple, like one of those lost children of the gutter among whom she had lived once upon a time, Sarah Brandon escaped from Malgat’s grasp, and by a clever trick threw him upon an arm-chair. It seemed to him impossible that such a monstrous wrong could be carried out, and that he would have only to proclaim the wickedness of these wretches to have them in his power. Sir Thorn asked him coolly,-- “‘Where do you think of going?

Had he not himself, for fear lest a suspicion should fall upon Sarah Brandon, told the board of directors in his letter that he had been tempted by unlucky speculations? Sir Thorn continued with his horrid sneers,-- “‘Have you forgotten the letters which you wrote me for the purpose of borrowing money from me, and in which you confess your defalcations? Champcey, are those which Sarah showed you; and Malgat was frightened out of his senses. May my blood come upon you!’ “And he rushed out, pursued by the insulting laugh of the wretches.” Amazed at the inconceivable boldness of this atrocious plot, Daniel and Henrietta were shuddering with horror. The old gentleman, however, continued with evident haste,-- “Whether Malgat did, or did not, commit suicide, he was never heard of again. And this crime, one of the most atrocious ever conceived by human wickedness, went to swell the long list of unpunished outrages. de Brevan had, of course, claimed his share; Sir Thorn was a gambler; Sarah loved diamonds; and grim Mrs. He was an orphan, and came up from his province, his heart full of illusions, and in his pockets his entire fortune,--a sum of five hundred thousand francs. At the end of five months, his half million was in the hands of Sarah.

They offered him, also, money to flee. Descended from a family in which a keen sense of honor had been hereditary for many generations, he did not hesitate. A careful investigation revealed nothing against Sarah Brandon; but the scandals of the suicide diminished her prestige. She felt it; and, giving up her dreams of greatness, she thought of marrying a fool who was immensely wealthy, M. Wilkie Gordon, when Sir Thorn spoke to her of Count Ville-Handry. “In fortune, name, and age, the count was exactly what Sarah had dreamed of so often.

de Brevan would not hear of it; and it was the hope he had of breaking it up, which made him speak to you so frankly of Sarah Brandon.

When you went to ask his advice, he was on bad terms with her: she had turned him off, and refused to pay him any money. And he was so mortally offended, that he would have betrayed her to the courts even, if he had known how to do it without inculpating himself. “You were the very person to reconcile them again, inasmuch as you gave Maxime an opportunity of rendering Sarah Brandon a great service.

“He did not then anticipate that she would ever fall in love with you, and that she, in her turn, would have to succumb to one of those desperate passions which she had so often kindled in others, and used for her own advantage. Sarah, who loved you, wanted to get rid of Henrietta, who was your betrothed: Maxime, stung by jealousy, wanted you to die.” Visibly overcome by fatigue, Papa Ravinet fell back in his chair, and remained silent for more than five minutes. The hour of vengeance has come at last.” Henrietta did not let him conclude: she interrupted him, saying,-- “And my father, sir, my father?” “M. Champcey will save him, madam.” Daniel had risen, deeply moved, and now asked,-- “What am I to do?” “You must call on the Countess Sarah, and look as if you had forgotten all that has happened,--as far as she is concerned, Miss Henrietta.” The young officer blushed all over, and stammered painfully,-- “Ah, I cannot play that part! Laying her hand on his shoulder, and looking deep into the eyes of her betrothed, as if to search the very depths of his conscience, she said,-- “Have you reasons for hesitating?” He hung his head, and said,-- “I shall go.” XXXII.

It struck two when Daniel jumped out of a carriage before No. 79 in Peletier Street, where the offices of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company were now, and where Count Ville-Handry lived at present. Unfortunately, he could not refuse to go without risking the peace of his Henrietta, her confidence, and her whole happiness; so he went as bravely as he could. His lower lip hung down, giving him a painful expression of weakness of mind; and his watery eyes looked almost senile.

When he recognized Daniel, he pushed back his papers; and offering him his hand, as if they had parted the day before, he said,-- “Ah, here you are back again among us! We know what you have been doing out there; for my wife sent me again and again to the navy department to see if there were any news of you.

And you have become an officer of the Legion of Honor! ‘The ups and downs of speculations,’ says Sir Thorn. Look here, my dear Daniel, let me give you a piece of advice: never speculate in industrial enterprises! That is my story, and I thought I would enrich my country by a new source of revenue. From the first day on which I emitted shares, speculators have gotten hold of them, and have crushed me, till my whole fortune has been spent in useless efforts to keep them up. And yet Sir Thorn says I have fought as bravely on this slippery ground as my ancestors did in the lists.” Every now and then the poor old man passed his hand over his face as if trying to drive away painful thoughts; and then he went on in a different tone of voice,-- “And yet I am far from complaining. My misfortunes have been the source of the purest and highest happiness for me.

It is to them I owe the knowledge of the boundless devotion of a beloved wife; they have taught me how dearly Sarah loves me. “And I,” he resumed in an accent of deepest despair,--“I could not reward her for such love and so many sacrifices. “Ah, count,” he exclaimed, “don’t speak of dying!

I did not have the--the--cleverness to overcome all the restrictions which hamper this kind of business. I was imprudent, in spite of all Sir Thorn’s warnings. To-morrow there will be a meeting of the stockholders; and, if they do not grant me what I shall have to ask of them, I may be in trouble. And, when a man calls himself Count Ville-Handry, rather than appear in a police-court--you know what I mean!” He was interrupted by one of the clerks, who brought him a letter. But be careful and don’t say a word of my troubles. Brian did so without saying a word; and the countess sank into an arm-chair, as if overcome by a sudden good fortune which she was not able to endure, looking intensely at Daniel, who stood in the centre of the room like a statue. Then, thinking of his purpose in coming here, and the treacherous part he was about to act, he felt a desire to escape. But she fell, step by step, and finally so low, that one day, when a ray of sense fell upon her mind, she went and killed herself.” It was done. He answered in an admirably-feigned tone of indifference,-- “Ah!” Then, encouraged by the joyous surprise he read in Sarah’s face, he went on,-- “This expedition has cost me dear.

Yes; that is to say, I have been robbed,--robbed of every cent I ever had. On the eve of my departure, I intrusted a hundred thousand dollars, all I ever possessed, to M. So, you see, I am reduced to my pittance of pay as a lieutenant. In any other man, this prodigious confidence in a friend would have appeared to her the extreme of human folly; in Daniel, she thought it was sublime. Daniel had not heard of his arrest. de Brevan must have been arrested for having attempted to murder me.” The lioness who has just been robbed of her whelps does not rise with greater fury in her eyes than Sarah did when she heard these words. “The scoundrel, the rascal!” And, sitting down by Daniel, she asked him to tell her all the details of these attempted assassinations, from which he had escaped only by a miracle. She was taken in, besides, by the double mirage of love and of absence. During the last two years she had so often evoked the image of Daniel, she had so constantly lived with him in her thoughts, that she mistook the illusion of her desires for the reality, and was no longer able to distinguish between the phantom of her dreams and the real person. And she, generally, so clearsighted, was not surprised to find that this man, who had been disinterestedness itself, should all of a sudden deplore his losses so bitterly, and value money so highly.

He replied with a perfection of affected candor which he would not have suspected to be in his power the day before,-- “What? Do you--you, Sarah--give me such advice?” He said it so naturally, and with such an air of aggrieved surprise, that she was delighted and carried away by it, as if he had made her the most passionate avowal. Do you really, really love me?” The sound of a key turning in the door interrupted them. Go now.” And, kissing him on his lips till they burnt with unholy fire, she pushed him out of the room. What a woman!” It required nothing less to rouse him from his stupor than the sight of Papa Ravinet, who was waiting for him below, hid in a corner of his carriage. Under the thick layers of rouge, the count showed his livid pallor; and every moment nervous tremblings shook him from head to foot. “Well,” he said with the air and the voice of a man who braces himself to mount the scaffold, “it must be done; they are waiting for me.” And, after having kissed his wife with passionate tenderness, he shook hands with Daniel, and went out hurriedly. do you speak to me of unattainable happiness? You are as poor as I am; and we are too clever to think of joining poverty to poverty.” She looked at him with a strange, sinister smile.

A last ray of reason lighted up the abyss at her feet. But she was drunk with pride and passion; she had taken a good deal of wine; and her usually cool head was in a state of delirium. “And if I were not ruined?” she said at last in a hoarse voice; “what would you say then?” “I should say that you are the very woman of whom an ambitious man of thirty might dream in his most glorious visions.” She believed him. Yes, she was capable of believing that what he said was true; and, throwing aside all restraint, she went on,-- “Well, then, I will tell you. That entire fortune which once belonged to Count Ville-Handry, and which he thinks has been lost in unlucky speculations,--the whole of it is in my hands.

But I thought of you, my much beloved, my Daniel; and that thought sustained me. These much coveted millions are mine, and you are here; and now I can say to you, ‘Take them, they are yours; I give them to you as I give myself to you.’” She had drawn herself up to her full height as she said this; and she looked splendid and fearful at the same time, in her matchless beauty, diffusing energy and immodesty around her, and shaking her head defiantly, till the waves of golden hair flowed over her shoulders. The untamed vagabond of the gutter reappeared all of a sudden, breathless and trembling, hoarse, lusting. He is beseeching his stockholders to relieve him from the effects of his mismanagement. I will tell you again; for I have seen him write his will, and load his revolver.” But the door of the outer room was opened. It was evident she was looking for one of those almost incredible excuses which are sometimes accepted by credulous old men when violent passions seize them in their dotage. “Malgat!” she cried,--“Malgat!” She held out her hands before her as if to push aside a spectre that had suddenly risen from the grave, and was now opening its arms to seize her, and carry her off. And do you not see, that for the privilege of being loved by me as I love you, and were it but for a day, Malgat would again rob his employers, and the count would again give all his millions, and his honor itself?” She said this; but at the same time she had slipped one of her hands behind her back, and was feeling for the knob of the door. She got hold of it, and instantly disappeared, before any one could have prevented her escape. She looked defiantly all around her, and said in a mocking tone of voice,-- “I have loved; and now I can die.

Planix, Malgat, and Kergrist ought to have taught me what becomes of people who really love.” Then looking at Daniel, she went on,-- “And you--you will know what you have lost when I am no more.

I may die; but the memory of my love will never die: it will rankle ever in you like a wound which opens daily afresh, and becomes constantly sorer. You triumph now, Henrietta; but remember, that between your lips and Daniel’s there will forever rise the shadow of Sarah Brandon.” As she said the last words, she raised a small phial, which she held in her hand, with an indescribably swift movement to her lips: she drank the contents, and, sinking into a chair, said,-- “Now I defy you all!” “Ah, she escapes after all!” exclaimed Malgat, “she escapes from justice!” He rushed forward to assist her; but Daniel stepped between, and said,-- “Let her die.” Already horrible convulsions began to seize her; and the penetrating smell of bitter almonds, which slowly filled the whole room, told but too plainly that the poison which she had taken was one of those from which there is no rescue. Bertolle were kneeling by the side of the bed, and the count was sobbing in a corner of the room, when a police-sergeant entered. “Dead?” said the officer. “I wish to state that I am not Ravinet, dealer in curiosities; but that my true name is Malgat, formerly cashier of the Mutual Discount Society, sentenced in contumaciam to ten years’ penal servitude.

After the jury had brought in their verdict of guilty, he sentenced Justin Chevassat, alias Maxime de Brevan, to penal servitude for life. Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, got off with twenty years; and the two Chevassats escaped with ten years’ solitary confinement. The trial of Thomas Elgin, which came on during the same term, revealed a system of swindling which was so strikingly bold and daring, that it appeared at first sight almost incredible. They had made Thomas Elgin refund, and had even obtained possession of Sarah Brandon’s fortune; but the count was called upon to make amends for his want of business capacity. When he had satisfied all his creditors, and handed over to his daughter a part of her maternal inheritance, he had hardly more than six thousand dollars a year left. Of the whole “band,” Mrs. Malgat, having surrendered to justice with the prescribed limits of time to purge himself, was tried, and the whole process begun anew. After having fully explained the circumstances which had led the poor cashier to permit a crime, rather than to commit it himself, the attorney said to the jury,-- “Now, gentlemen, that you have learned what was the wrong of which he is guilty, you ought also to know how he has expiated his crime.

“She was one of those women who have religiously preserved the domestic virtues of our forefathers, and who know of no compromise in questions of honor. She had a moderate income from state bonds; she sold them all, and carried the proceeds to the president of the Mutual Discount Society, begging him to be patient as to the remainder, and promising that he should be repaid, capital and interest alike. “And from that day, gentlemen of the jury, the brother and the sister have lived like the poorest laborers, working incessantly, and denying themselves everything but what was indispensable for life itself. And this place in court, where he now sits as a prisoner, will become to him a place of honor, in which he will recover his position in society, and his honor.” Malgat was acquitted. The marriage of Henrietta, Countess Ville-Handry, and Lieut. Daniel Champcey, was celebrated at the Church of St. Daniel’s groomsmen were Malgat and the old chief surgeon of the frigate “Conquest.” Several persons noticed that the bride wore, contrary to usage, a dress of embroidered muslin. It was the robe which Henrietta had so often covered with her tears, at the time when, having no bread for the morrow, she had tried to live by the work of her hands. /

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague.“Well, then; I have received personal information, from a very high quarter, that a certain document of the last importance, has been purloined from the royal apartments. “It is clearly inferred,” replied the Prefect, “from the nature of the document, and from the non-appearance of certain results which would at once arise from its passing out of the robber’s possession; that is to say, from his employing it as he must design in the end to employ it.” “Be a little more explicit,” I said. During its perusal she was suddenly interrupted by the entrance of the other exalted personage from whom especially it was her wish to conceal it.

At length, in taking leave, he takes also from the table the letter to which he had no claim.

Beyond all things, I have been warned of the danger which would result from giving him reason to suspect our design.” “But,” said I, “you are quite au fait in these investigations. He is frequently absent from home all night. They sleep at a distance from their master’s apartment, and, being chiefly Neapolitans, are readily made drunk.

“D--, I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, if not, must have anticipated these waylayings, as a matter of course.” “Not altogether a fool,” said G., “but then he’s a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.” “True,” said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff from his meerschaum, “although I have been guilty of certain doggrel myself.” “Suppose you detail,” said I, “the particulars of your search.” “Why the fact is, we took our time, and we searched every where.

From the tables we removed the tops.” “Why so?” “Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly arranged piece of furniture, is removed by the person wishing to conceal an article; then the leg is excavated, the article deposited within the cavity, and the top replaced. A letter may be compressed into a thin spiral roll, not differing much in shape or bulk from a large knitting-needle, and in this form it might be inserted into the rung of a chair, for example. Some five or six volumes, just from the hands of the binder, we carefully probed, longitudinally, with the needles.” “You explored the floors beneath the carpets?” “Beyond doubt. For some minutes he remained speechless and motionless, looking incredulously at my friend with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting from their sockets; then, apparently recovering himself in some measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and vacant stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty thousand francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin. This functionary grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with a trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then, scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length unceremoniously from the room and from the house, without having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested him to fill up the check. Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first, he would have reasoned thus: ‘This fellow finds that in the first instance I guessed odd, and, in the second, he will propose to himself, upon the first impulse, a simple variation from even to odd, as did the first simpleton; but then a second thought will suggest that this is too simple a variation, and finally he will decide upon putting it even as before. They are right in this much--that their own ingenuity is a faithful representative of that of the mass; but when the cunning of the individual felon is diverse in character from their own, the felon foils them, of course. The mathematical reason has long been regarded as the reason par excellence.” “‘Il y a à parièr,’” replied Dupin, quoting from Chamfort, “‘que toute idée publique, toute convention reçue est une sottise, car elle a convenue au plus grand nombre.’ The mathematicians, I grant you, have done their best to promulgate the popular error to which you allude, and which is none the less an error for its promulgation as truth. The French are the originators of this particular deception; but if a term is of any importance--if words derive any value from applicability--then ‘analysis’ conveys ‘algebra’ about as much as, in Latin, ‘ambitus’ implies ‘ambition,’ ‘religio’ ‘religion,’ or ‘homines honesti,’ a set of honorablemen.” “You have a quarrel on hand, I see,” said I, “with some of the algebraists of Paris; but proceed.” “I dispute the availability, and thus the value, of that reason which is cultivated in any especial form other than the abstractly logical. But the mathematician argues, from his finite truths, through habit, as if they were of an absolutely general applicability--as the world indeed imagines them to be.

Bryant, in his very learned ‘Mythology,’ mentions an analogous source of error, when he says that ‘although the Pagan fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences from them as existing realities.’ With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the ‘Pagan fables’ are believed, and the inferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through an unaccountable addling of the brains.

His frequent absences from home at night, which were hailed by the Prefect as certain aids to his success, I regarded only as ruses, to afford opportunity for thorough search to the police, and thus the sooner to impress them with the conviction to which G--, in fact, did finally arrive--the conviction that the letter was not upon the premises. A novice in the game generally seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them the most minutely lettered names; but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large characters, from one end of the chart to the other. He never once thought it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it. “At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a trumpery fillagree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the mantel-piece. To be sure, it was, to all appearance, radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so minute a description.

When he had gone, D-- came from the window, whither I had followed him immediately upon securing the object in view. But I had an object apart from these considerations. Having fulfilled this vow for many years to the letter, and with a religious punctuality and method that conferred great credit upon him as a man of devout feeling and excellent sense, he was interrupted one afternoon (no doubt at his prayers) by a visit from his grand vizier, to whose daughter, it appears, there had occurred an idea. Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of all heroines, in the attempt. This hand the king eagerly accepts--(he had intended to take it at all events, and had put off the matter from day to day, only through fear of the vizier),--but, in accepting it now, he gives all parties very distinctly to understand, that, grand vizier or no grand vizier, he has not the slightest design of giving up one iota of his vow or of his privileges. On the night of the wedding, she contrived, upon I forget what specious pretence, to have her sister occupy a couch sufficiently near that of the royal pair to admit of easy conversation from bed to bed; and, a little before cock-crowing, she took care to awaken the good monarch, her husband (who bore her none the worse will because he intended to wring her neck on the morrow),--she managed to awaken him, I say, (although on account of a capital conscience and an easy digestion, he slept well) by the profound interest of a story (about a rat and a black cat, I think) which she was narrating (all in an undertone, of course) to her sister. At all events, Scheherazade, who, being lineally descended from Eve, fell heir, perhaps, to the whole seven baskets of talk, which the latter lady, we all know, picked up from under the trees in the garden of Eden--Scheherazade, I say, finally triumphed, and the tariff upon beauty was repealed.

“My dear sister,” said she, on the thousand-and-second night, (I quote the language of the “Isitsoornot” at this point, verbatim) “my dear sister,” said she, “now that all this little difficulty about the bowstring has blown over, and that this odious tax is so happily repealed, I feel that I have been guilty of great indiscretion in withholding from you and the king (who I am sorry to say, snores--a thing no gentleman would do) the full conclusion of Sinbad the sailor. But even yet it is not too late to remedy my great neglect--and as soon as I have given the king a pinch or two in order to wake him up so far that he may stop making that horrible noise, I will forthwith entertain you (and him if he pleases) with the sequel of this very remarkable story.” Hereupon the sister of Scheherazade, as I have it from the “Isitsoornot,” expressed no very particular intensity of gratification; but the king, having been sufficiently pinched, at length ceased snoring, and finally said, “hum!” and then “hoo!” when the queen, understanding these words (which are no doubt Arabic) to signify that he was all attention, and would do his best not to snore any more--the queen, I say, having arranged these matters to her satisfaction, re-entered thus, at once, into the history of Sinbad the sailor: “‘At length, in my old age,’ --‘at length, in my old age, and after enjoying many years of tranquillity at home, I became once more possessed of a desire of visiting foreign countries; and one day, without acquainting any of my family with my design, I packed up some bundles of such merchandise as was most precious and least bulky, and, engaged a porter to carry them, went with him down to the sea-shore, to await the arrival of any chance vessel that might convey me out of the kingdom into some region which I had not as yet explored. The back was flat and nearly white, and from it there extended upwards of six spines, about half the length of the whole body. “‘The horrible creature had no mouth that we could perceive, but, as if to make up for this deficiency, it was provided with at least four score of eyes, that protruded from their sockets like those of the green dragon-fly, and were arranged all around the body in two rows, one above the other, and parallel to the blood-red streak, which seemed to answer the purpose of an eyebrow. Its head and its tail were shaped precisely alike, only, not far from the latter, were two small holes that served for nostrils, and through which the monster puffed out its thick breath with prodigious violence, and with a shrieking, disagreeable noise. “‘When the monster had nearly reached the shore where we stood, it suddenly pushed out one of its eyes to a great extent, and emitted from it a terrible flash of fire, accompanied by a dense cloud of smoke, and a noise that I can compare to nothing but thunder. ‘Washish squashish,’ and so forth:--that is to say, ‘I am happy to find, my dear Sinbad, that you are really a very excellent fellow; we are now about doing a thing which is called circumnavigating the globe; and since you are so desirous of seeing the world, I will strain a point and give you a free passage upon back of the beast.’” When the Lady Scheherazade had proceeded thus far, relates the “Isitsoornot,” the king turned over from his left side to his right, and said: “It is, in fact, very surprising, my dear queen, that you omitted, hitherto, these latter adventures of Sinbad. From the roofs of these palaces there hung myriads of gems, like diamonds, but larger than men; and in among the streets of towers and pyramids and temples, there flowed immense rivers as black as ebony, and swarming with fish that had no eyes.’” (*3) “Hum!” said the king. “‘We then swam into a region of the sea where we found a lofty mountain, down whose sides there streamed torrents of melted metal, some of which were twelve miles wide and sixty miles long (*4); while from an abyss on the summit, issued so vast a quantity of ashes that the sun was entirely blotted out from the heavens, and it became darker than the darkest midnight; so that when we were even at the distance of a hundred and fifty miles from the mountain, it was impossible to see the whitest object, however close we held it to our eyes.’” (*5) “Hum!” said the king.

It was from three to six miles in width; and its banks which arose on either side to twelve hundred feet in perpendicular height, were crowned with ever-blossoming trees and perpetual sweet-scented flowers, that made the whole territory one gorgeous garden; but the name of this luxuriant land was the Kingdom of Horror, and to enter it was inevitable death’” (*8) “Humph!” said the king.

These hideous beasts dig for themselves vast caverns in the soil, of a funnel shape, and line the sides of them with rocks, so disposed one upon the other that they fall instantly, when trodden upon by other animals, thus precipitating them into the monster’s dens, where their blood is immediately sucked, and their carcasses afterwards hurled contemptuously out to an immense distance from “the caverns of death.”’” (*9) “Pooh!” said the king. (*10) There were others that sprang from the substance of other vegetables; (*11) others that derived their substance from the bodies of living animals; (*12) and then again, there were others that glowed all over with intense fire; (*13) others that moved from place to place at pleasure, (*14) and what was still more wonderful, we discovered flowers that lived and breathed and moved their limbs at will and had, moreover, the detestable passion of mankind for enslaving other creatures, and confining them in horrid and solitary prisons until the fulfillment of appointed tasks.’” (*15) “Pshaw!” said the king. “‘We had scarcely lost sight of this empire when we found ourselves close upon another, from whose shores there flew over our heads a flock of fowls a mile in breadth, and two hundred and forty miles long; so that, although they flew a mile during every minute, it required no less than four hours for the whole flock to pass over us--in which there were several millions of millions of fowl.’” (*17) “Oh fy!” said the king. In its talons, the monster was bearing away to his eyrie in the heavens, a house from which it had knocked off the roof, and in the interior of which we distinctly saw human beings, who, beyond doubt, were in a state of frightful despair at the horrible fate which awaited them. (*23) But a still more wonderful conjuror fashioned for himself a mighty thing that was neither man nor beast, but which had brains of lead, intermixed with a black matter like pitch, and fingers that it employed with such incredible speed and dexterity that it would have had no trouble in writing out twenty thousand copies of the Koran in an hour, and this with so exquisite a precision, that in all the copies there should not be found one to vary from another by the breadth of the finest hair. (*28) Another had cultivated his voice to so great an extent that he could have made himself heard from one end of the world to the other. But the whole nation is, indeed, of so surprising a necromantic ability, that not even their infants, nor their commonest cats and dogs have any difficulty in seeing objects that do not exist at all, or that for twenty millions of years before the birth of the nation itself had been blotted out from the face of creation.”’ (*34) “Preposterous!” said the king.

“‘The wives and daughters of these incomparably great and wise magi,’” continued Scheherazade, without being in any manner disturbed by these frequent and most ungentlemanly interruptions on the part of her husband--“‘the wives and daughters of these eminent conjurers are every thing that is accomplished and refined; and would be every thing that is interesting and beautiful, but for an unhappy fatality that besets them, and from which not even the miraculous powers of their husbands and fathers has, hitherto, been adequate to save. Having been long possessed of this idea, and bolsters being cheap in that country, the days have long gone by since it was possible to distinguish a woman from a dromedary-’” “Stop!” said the king--“I can’t stand that, and I won’t.

Upon the whole, you might as well get up and be throttled.” These words, as I learn from the “Isitsoornot,” both grieved and astonished Scheherazade; but, as she knew the king to be a man of scrupulous integrity, and quite unlikely to forfeit his word, she submitted to her fate with a good grace. She derived, however, great consolation, (during the tightening of the bowstring,) from the reflection that much of the history remained still untold, and that the petulance of her brute of a husband had reaped for him a most righteous reward, in depriving him of many inconceivable adventures. It took less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?” The “little cliff,” upon whose edge he had so carelessly thrown himself down to rest that the weightier portion of his body hung over it, while he was only kept from falling by the tenure of his elbow on its extreme and slippery edge--this “little cliff” arose, a sheer unobstructed precipice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen hundred feet from the world of crags beneath us. In truth so deeply was I excited by the perilous position of my companion, that I fell at full length upon the ground, clung to the shrubs around me, and dared not even glance upward at the sky--while I struggled in vain to divest myself of the idea that the very foundations of the mountain were in danger from the fury of the winds.

Do you see any change in the water?” We had now been about ten minutes upon the top of Helseggen, to which we had ascended from the interior of Lofoden, so that we had caught no glimpse of the sea until it had burst upon us from the summit. “We Norwegians call it the Moskoe-ström, from the island of Moskoe in the midway.” The ordinary accounts of this vortex had by no means prepared me for what I saw. I am not sure from what point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at what time; but it could neither have been from the summit of Helseggen, nor during a storm. A bear once, attempting to swim from Lofoden to Moskoe, was caught by the stream and borne down, while he roared terribly, so as to be heard on shore. The depth in the centre of the Moskoe-ström must be immeasurably greater; and no better proof of this fact is necessary than can be obtained from even the sidelong glance into the abyss of the whirl which may be had from the highest crag of Helseggen. Looking down from this pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help smiling at the simplicity with which the honest Jonas Ramus records, as a matter difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the bears; for it appeared to me, in fact, a self-evident thing, that the largest ship of the line in existence, coming within the influence of that deadly attraction, could resist it as little as a feather the hurricane, and must disappear bodily and at once. And yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the afternoon, there was a gentle and steady breeze from the south-west, while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest seaman among us could not have foreseen what was to follow. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. I shook from head to foot as if I had had the most violent fit of the ague. I dragged my watch from its fob.

We were behind the time of the slack, and the whirl of the Ström was in full fury! “When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not deep laden, the waves in a strong gale, when she is going large, seem always to slip from beneath her--which appears very strange to a landsman--and this is what is called riding, in sea phrase. And then down we came with a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made me feel sick and dizzy, as if I was falling from some lofty mountain-top in a dream. As we approached the brink of the pit he let go his hold upon this, and made for the ring, from which, in the agony of his terror, he endeavored to force my hands, as it was not large enough to afford us both a secure grasp.

The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose perfectly smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering rapidity with which they spun around, and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the clouds which I have already described, streamed in a flood of golden glory along the black walls, and far away down into the inmost recesses of the abyss. In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed view, from the manner in which the smack hung on the inclined surface of the pool.

This mist, or spray, was no doubt occasioned by the clashing of the great walls of the funnel, as they all met together at the bottom--but the yell that went up to the Heavens from out of that mist, I dare not attempt to describe. “Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt of foam above, had carried us a great distance down the slope; but our farther descent was by no means proportionate.

This hope arose partly from memory, and partly from present observation.

Since my escape, I have had several conversations on this subject with an old school-master of the district; and it was from him that I learned the use of the words ‘cylinder’ and ‘sphere.’ He explained to me--although I have forgotten the explanation--how what I observed was, in fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating fragments--and showed me how it happened that a cylinder, swimming in a vortex, offered more resistance to its suction, and was drawn in with greater difficulty than an equally bulky body, of any form whatever.

(*1) “There was one startling circumstance which went a great way in enforcing these observations, and rendering me anxious to turn them to account, and this was that, at every revolution, we passed something like a barrel, or else the yard or the mast of a vessel, while many of these things, which had been on our level when I first opened my eyes upon the wonders of the whirlpool, were now high up above us, and seemed to have moved but little from their original station.

I resolved to lash myself securely to the water cask upon which I now held, to cut it loose from the counter, and to throw myself with it into the water. I thought at length that he comprehended my design--but, whether this was the case or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt. It was the hour of the slack--but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves from the effects of the hurricane. A boat picked me up--exhausted from fatigue--and (now that the danger was removed) speechless from the memory of its horror. Those who drew me on board were my old mates and daily companions--but they knew me no more than they would have known a traveller from the spirit-land. It may be as well, however, to premise the cursory observations which I have to offer, by denying, very decidedly, what seems to be a general impression (gleaned, as usual in a case of this kind, from the newspapers), viz.: that this discovery, astounding as it unquestionably is, is unanticipated.

The paragraph from the ‘Courier and Enquirer,’ which is now going the rounds of the press, and which purports to claim the invention for a Mr. Kissam actually did come upon the discovery he says he did, at the period designated--nearly eight years ago--how happens it that he took no steps, on the instant, to reap the immense benefits which the merest bumpkin must have known would have resulted to him individually, if not to the world at large, from the discovery? Very little dependence is to be placed upon it, in my humble opinion; and if I were not well aware, from experience, how very easily men of science are mystified, on points out of their usual range of inquiry, I should be profoundly astonished at finding so eminent a chemist as Professor Draper, discussing Mr. In the brief account of Von Kempelen which appeared in the ‘Home Journal,’ and has since been extensively copied, several misapprehensions of the German original seem to have been made by the translator, who professes to have taken the passage from a late number of the Presburg ‘Schnellpost.’ ‘Viele’ has evidently been misconceived (as it often is), and what the translator renders by ‘sorrows,’ is probably ‘lieden,’ which, in its true version, ‘sufferings,’ would give a totally different complexion to the whole account; but, of course, much of this is merely guess, on my part. ‘The Literary World’ speaks of him, confidently, as a native of Presburg (misled, perhaps, by the account in ‘The Home Journal’) but I am pleased in being able to state positively, since I have it from his own lips, that he was born in Utica, in the State of New York, although both his parents, I believe, are of Presburg descent. His principal topics were those of the day, and nothing that fell from him led me to suspect his scientific attainments. Upon attempting to draw this trunk out from under the bed, they found that, with their united strength (there were three of them, all powerful men), they ‘could not stir it one inch.’ Much astonished at this, one of them crawled under the bed, and looking into the trunk, said: ‘No wonder we couldn’t move it--why it’s full to the brim of old bits of brass!’ Putting his feet, now, against the wall so as to get a good purchase, and pushing with all his force, while his companions pulled with all theirs, the trunk, with much difficulty, was slid out from under the bed, and its contents examined. The supposed brass with which it was filled was all in small, smooth pieces, varying from the size of a pea to that of a dollar; but the pieces were irregular in shape, although more or less flat-looking, upon the whole, ‘very much as lead looks when thrown upon the ground in a molten state, and there suffered to grow cool.’ Now, not one of these officers for a moment suspected this metal to be any thing but brass. All that as yet can fairly be said to be known is, that ‘Pure gold can be made at will, and very readily from lead in connection with certain other substances, in kind and in proportions, unknown.’ Speculation, of course, is busy as to the immediate and ultimate results of this discovery--a discovery which few thinking persons will hesitate in referring to an increased interest in the matter of gold generally, by the late developments in California; and this reflection brings us inevitably to another--the exceeding inopportuneness of Von Kempelen’s analysis. If many were prevented from adventuring to California, by the mere apprehension that gold would so materially diminish in value, on account of its plentifulness in the mines there, as to render the speculation of going so far in search of it a doubtful one--what impression will be wrought now, upon the minds of those about to emigrate, and especially upon the minds of those actually in the mineral region, by the announcement of this astounding discovery of Von Kempelen?

In spasms such as these he had usually found relief from the application of mustard to the nervous centres, but to-night this had been attempted in vain. “These considerations have led me to think that some good results might ensue from a series of well-directed questions propounded to me while mesmerized.

You have often observed the profound self-cognizance evinced by the sleep-waker--the extensive knowledge he displays upon all points relating to the mesmeric condition itself; and from this self-cognizance may be deduced hints for the proper conduct of a catechism.” I consented of course to make this experiment.

The only consideration which restrains us is our conception of its atomic constitution; and here, even, we have to seek aid from our notion of an atom, as something possessing in infinite minuteness, solidity, palpability, weight. The retardation actually experienced is, on the other hand, about that which might be expected from the friction of the ether in the instantaneous passage through the orb. The ultimate body thus escapes our rudimental senses, and we perceive only the shell which falls, in decaying, from the inner form; not that inner form itself; but this inner form, as well as the shell, is appreciable by those who have already acquired the ultimate life. At death, or metamorphosis, these creatures, enjoying the ultimate life--immortality--and cognizant of all secrets but the one, act all things and pass everywhere by mere volition:--indwelling, not the stars, which to us seem the sole palpabilities, and for the accommodation of which we blindly deem space created--but that SPACE itself--that infinity of which the truly substantive vastness swallows up the star-shadows--blotting them out as non-entities from the perception of the angels. Thus, ordinarily, should it have appeared, only after long pressure from Azrael’s hand. Had the sleep-waker, indeed, during the latter portion of his discourse, been addressing me from out the region of the shadows? Through the desire of all parties concerned, to keep the affair from the public, at least for the present, or until we had farther opportunities for investigation--through our endeavors to effect this--a garbled or exaggerated account made its way into society, and became the source of many unpleasant misrepresentations, and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief. There were other points to be ascertained, but these most excited my curiosity--the last in especial, from the immensely important character of its consequences.

I knew the steady philosophy of the man too well to apprehend any scruples from him; and he had no relatives in America who would be likely to interfere. It is now rather more than seven months since I received, from M. After pressing Valdemar’s hand, I took these gentlemen aside, and obtained from them a minute account of the patient’s condition. Theodore L--l,) relieved me from farther embarrassment. L--l was so kind as to accede to my desire that he would take notes of all that occurred, and it is from his memoranda that what I now have to relate is, for the most part, either condensed or copied verbatim. The legs were at full length; the arms were nearly so, and reposed on the bed at a moderate distance from the loin. At its third repetition, his whole frame was agitated by a very slight shivering; the eyelids unclosed themselves so far as to display a white line of the ball; the lips moved sluggishly, and from between them, in a barely audible whisper, issued the words: “Yes;--asleep now. The upper lip, at the same time, writhed itself away from the teeth, which it had previously covered completely; while the lower jaw fell with an audible jerk, leaving the mouth widely extended, and disclosing in full view the swollen and blackened tongue. Valdemar at this moment, that there was a general shrinking back from the region of the bed. At the expiration of this period, there issued from the distended and motionless jaws a voice--such as it would be madness in me to attempt describing.

In the first place, the voice seemed to reach our ears--at least mine--from a vast distance, or from some deep cavern within the earth. An attempt to draw blood from the arm failed. From this period until the close of last week--an interval of nearly seven months--we continued to make daily calls at M.

Valdemar from the mesmeric trance, I made use of the customary passes. It was observed, as especially remarkable, that this lowering of the pupil was accompanied by the profuse out-flowing of a yellowish ichor (from beneath the lids) of a pungent and highly offensive odor. dead!” absolutely bursting from the tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole frame at once--within the space of a single minute, or even less, shrunk--crumbled--absolutely rotted away beneath my hands. From my infancy I was noted for the docility and humanity of my disposition. This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, and in my manhood, I derived from it one of my principal sources of pleasure. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets. For Pluto, however, I still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from maltreating him, as I made no scruple of maltreating the rabbits, the monkey, or even the dog, when by accident, or through affection, they came in my way. One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame.

I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! One morning, in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and hung it to the limb of a tree;--hung it with the tears streaming from my eyes, and with the bitterest remorse at my heart;--hung it because I knew that it had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no reason of offence;--hung it because I knew that in so doing I was committing a sin--a deadly sin that would so jeopardize my immortal soul as to place it--if such a thing wore possible--even beyond the reach of the infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible God. On the night of the day on which this cruel deed was done, I was aroused from sleep by the cry of fire. It was with great difficulty that my wife, a servant, and myself, made our escape from the conflagration. Upon the alarm of fire, this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd--by some one of whom the animal must have been cut from the tree and thrown, through an open window, into my chamber. This had probably been done with the view of arousing me from sleep.

The falling of other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty into the substance of the freshly-spread plaster; the lime of which, with the flames, and the ammonia from the carcass, had then accomplished the portraiture as I saw it. I avoided the creature; a certain sense of shame, and the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, preventing me from physically abusing it. I did not, for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill use it; but gradually--very gradually--I came to look upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently from its odious presence, as from the breath of a pestilence. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly--let me confess it at once--by absolute dread of the beast. During the former the creature left me no moment alone; and, in the latter, I started, hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast weight--an incarnate Night-Mare that I had no power to shake off--incumbent eternally upon my heart! Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. The moodiness of my usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of all mankind; while, from the sudden, frequent, and ungovernable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas! Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain.

I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors. Again, I deliberated about casting it in the well in the yard--about packing it in a box, as if merchandize, with the usual arrangements, and so getting a porter to take it from the house. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented from hardening. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which could not be distinguished from the old, and with this I very carefully went over the new brickwork.

I walked the cellar from end to end. But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs of the Arch-Fiend! No sooner had the reverberation of my blows sunk into silence, than I was answered by a voice from within the tomb!--by a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman--a howl--a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell, conjointly from the throats of the dammed in their agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation. A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country--a letter from him--which, in its wildly importunate nature, had admitted of no other than a personal reply. It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other--it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher”--an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion. And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy--a fancy so ridiculous, indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity--an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent tarn--a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued. Shaking off from my spirit what must have been a dream, I scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building.

Minute fungi overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. In this there was much that reminded me of the specious totality of old wood-work which has rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance from the breath of the external air. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn. While the objects around me--while the carvings of the ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been accustomed from my infancy--while I hesitated not to acknowledge how familiar was all this--I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up. The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from within. Upon my entrance, Usher arose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality--of the constrained effort of the ennuyé man of the world.

In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence--an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual trepidancy--an excessive nervous agitation. For something of this nature I had indeed been prepared, no less by his letter, than by reminiscences of certain boyish traits, and by conclusions deduced from his peculiar physical conformation and temperament. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision (when the animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that species of energetic concision--that abrupt, weighty, unhurried, and hollow-sounding enunciation--that leaden, self-balanced and perfectly modulated guttural utterance, which may be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium, during the periods of his most intense excitement. He suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with horror. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one unceasing radiation of gloom. From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vaguenesses at which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered knowing not why;--from these paintings (vivid as their images now are before me) I would in vain endeavor to educe more than a small portion which should lie within the compass of merely written words.

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad, led us into a train of thought wherein there became manifest an opinion of Usher’s which I mention not so much on account of its novelty, (for other men * have thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with which he maintained it. A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them. He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal, and objectless step. Overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste (for I felt that I should sleep no more during the night), and endeavored to arouse myself from the pitiable condition into which I had fallen, by pacing rapidly to and fro through the apartment. The impetuous fury of the entering gust nearly lifted us from our feet. A whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity; for there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind; and the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not prevent our perceiving the life-like velocity with which they flew careering from all points against each other, without passing away into the distance. “You must not--you shall not behold this!” said I, shudderingly, to Usher, as I led him, with a gentle violence, from the window to a seat. Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative run thus: “And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and who was now mighty withal, on account of the powerfulness of the wine which he had drunken, waited no longer to hold parley with the hermit, who, in sooth, was of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but, feeling the rain upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and, with blows, made quickly room in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding wood alarummed and reverberated throughout the forest.” At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment, paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me)--it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of the mansion, there came, indistinctly, to my ears, what might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. I continued the story: “But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the door, was sore enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit; but, in the stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanor, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this legend enwritten-- Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin; Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win; And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard.” Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement--for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound--the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon’s unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.

From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast--yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at variance with this idea--for he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this, I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded: “And now, the champion, having escaped from the terrible fury of the dragon, bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and of the breaking up of the enchantment which was upon it, removed the carcass from out of the way before him, and approached valorously over the silver pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the wall; which in sooth tarried not for his full coming, but feel down at his feet upon the silver floor, with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound.” No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than--as if a shield of brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of silver--I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently muffled reverberation. From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast. The radiance was that of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly through that once barely-discernible fissure, of which I have before spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag direction, to the base. And there is an indistinct murmur which cometh out from among them like the rushing of subterrene water.

And from their high summits, one by one, drop everlasting dews. And the man was tall and stately in form, and was wrapped up from his shoulders to his feet in the toga of old Rome. “And the man turned his attention from the heaven, and looked out upon the dreary river Zaire, and upon the yellow ghastly waters, and upon the pale legions of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs of the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up from among them. And the moon ceased to totter up its pathway to heaven--and the thunder died away--and the lightning did not flash--and the clouds hung motionless--and the waters sunk to their level and remained--and the trees ceased to rock--and the water-lilies sighed no more--and the murmur was heard no longer from among them, nor any shadow of sound throughout the vast illimitable desert. And, hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand, and stood forth upon the rock and listened.

And the lynx which dwelleth forever in the tomb, came out therefrom, and lay down at the feet of the Demon, and looked at him steadily in the face. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within.

Here the case was very different; as might have been expected from the duke’s love of the bizarre. Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers.

Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. And these--the dreams--writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many-tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise--then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. Seize him and unmask him--that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the battlements!” It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince’s person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple--through the purple to the green--through the green to the orange--through this again to the white--and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. In this respect I did not differ from him materially: I was skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I could.

He will tell me--” “Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.” “And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.” “Come, let us go.” “Whither?” “To your vaults.” “My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. And as for Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado.” Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. I had told them that I should not return until the morning, and had given them explicit orders not to stir from the house. I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. “It is farther on,” said I; “but observe the white web-work which gleams from these cavern walls.” He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the damps.” Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould. “It is this,” I answered, producing a trowel from beneath the folds of my roquelaire. From the fourth the bones had been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming at one point a mound of some size. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally.

From one of these depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Withdrawing the key I stepped back from the recess. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my power.” “The Amontillado!” ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered from his astonishment. The earliest indication I had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected the hairs upon my head.

And in these arrangements of the Principia of human action, the Spurzheimites, whether right or wrong, in part, or upon the whole, have but followed, in principle, the footsteps of their predecessors: deducing and establishing every thing from the preconceived destiny of man, and upon the ground of the objects of his Creator. It will be said, I am aware, that when we persist in acts because we feel we should not persist in them, our conduct is but a modification of that which ordinarily springs from the combativeness of phrenology. The speaker is aware that he displeases; he has every intention to please, he is usually curt, precise, and clear, the most laconic and luminous language is struggling for utterance upon his tongue, it is only with difficulty that he restrains himself from giving it flow; he dreads and deprecates the anger of him whom he addresses; yet, the thought strikes him, that by certain involutions and parentheses this anger may be engendered. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. By gradations, still more imperceptible, this cloud assumes shape, as did the vapor from the bottle out of which arose the genius in the Arabian Nights. It is merely the idea of what would be our sensations during the sweeping precipitancy of a fall from such a height. And because our reason violently deters us from the brink, therefore do we the most impetuously approach it. If there be no friendly arm to check us, or if we fail in a sudden effort to prostrate ourselves backward from the abyss, we plunge, and are destroyed. Examine these similar actions as we will, we shall find them resulting solely from the spirit of the Perverse.

It afforded me more real delight than all the mere worldly advantages accruing from my sin. But there arrived at length an epoch, from which the pleasurable feeling grew, by scarcely perceptible gradations, into a haunting and harassing thought. It is quite a common thing to be thus annoyed with the ringing in our ears, or rather in our memories, of the burthen of some ordinary song, or some unimpressive snatches from an opera. The long imprisoned secret burst forth from my soul. “LA MUSIQUE,” says Marmontel, in those “Contes Moraux” (*1) which in all our translations, we have insisted upon calling “Moral Tales,” as if in mockery of their spirit--“la musique est le seul des talents qui jouissent de lui-meme; tous les autres veulent des temoins.” He here confounds the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the capacity for creating them. The little river which turned sharply in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of the trees to the east--while in the opposite quarter (so it appeared to me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly and continuously into the valley, a rich golden and crimson waterfall from the sunset fountains of the sky. There seemed a deep sense of life and joy about all; and although no airs blew from out the heavens, yet every thing had motion through the gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mistaken for tulips with wings. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth, and thus became absorbed by the stream; while other shadows issued momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus entombed. This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who remain from the wreck of the race.

What the wasting tree is to the water that imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it?” As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank rapidly to rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island, bearing upon their bosom large, dazzling, white flakes of the bark of the sycamore-flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the water, a quick imagination might have converted into any thing it pleased, while I thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one of those very Fays about whom I had been pondering made its way slowly into the darkness from out the light at the western end of the island. She is a year nearer unto Death; for I did not fail to see that, as she came into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the dark water, making its blackness more black.” And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the attitude of the latter there was more of care and uncertainty and less of elastic joy. She floated again from out the light and into the gloom (which deepened momently) and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she made the circuit of the island, (while the sun rushed down to his slumbers), and at each issuing into the light there was more sorrow about her person, while it grew feebler and far fainter and more indistinct, and at each passage into the gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became whelmed in a shadow more black. I was returning home from the Piazetta, by way of the Grand Canal. But as my gondola arrived opposite the mouth of the canal San Marco, a female voice from its recesses broke suddenly upon the night, in one wild, hysterical, and long continued shriek. Startled at the sound, I sprang upon my feet: while the gondolier, letting slip his single oar, lost it in the pitchy darkness beyond a chance of recovery, and we were consequently left to the guidance of the current which here sets from the greater into the smaller channel. Like some huge and sable-feathered condor, we were slowly drifting down towards the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux flashing from the windows, and down the staircases of the Ducal Palace, turned all at once that deep gloom into a livid and preternatural day. A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had fallen from an upper window of the lofty structure into the deep and dim canal.

Her hair, not as yet more than half loosened for the night from its ball-room array, clustered, amid a shower of diamonds, round and round her classical head, in curls like those of the young hyacinth. Stupified and aghast, I had myself no power to move from the upright position I had assumed upon first hearing the shriek, and must have presented to the eyes of the agitated group a spectral and ominous appearance, as with pale countenance and rigid limbs, I floated down among them in that funereal gondola. There seemed but little hope for the child; (how much less than for the mother!) but now, from the interior of that dark niche which has been already mentioned as forming a part of the Old Republican prison, and as fronting the lattice of the Marchesa, a figure muffled in a cloak, stepped out within reach of the light, and, pausing a moment upon the verge of the giddy descent, plunged headlong into the canal. another’s arms have taken it from the stranger--another’s arms have taken it away, and borne it afar off, unnoticed, into the palace! With the mouth and chin of a deity--singular, wild, full, liquid eyes, whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense and brilliant jet--and a profusion of curling, black hair, from which a forehead of unusual breadth gleamed forth at intervals all light and ivory--his were features than which I have seen none more classically regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the Emperor Commodus. I judge from this circumstance, as well as from an air of exhaustion in the countenance of my friend, that he had not retired to bed during the whole of the preceding night. The eye wandered from object to object, and rested upon none--neither the grotesques of the Greek painters, nor the sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings of untutored Egypt. The senses were oppressed by mingled and conflicting perfumes, reeking up from strange convolute censers, together with multitudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald and violet fire. Glancing to and fro, in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from their cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams of natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the artificial light, and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold. With one exception, you are the only human being besides myself and my valet, who has been admitted within the mysteries of these imperial precincts, since they have been bedizzened as you see!” I bowed in acknowledgment--for the overpowering sense of splendor and perfume, and music, together with the unexpected eccentricity of his address and manner, prevented me from expressing, in words, my appreciation of what I might have construed into a compliment.

“Here,” he resumed, arising and leaning on my arm as he sauntered around the apartment, “here are paintings from the Greeks to Cimabue, and from Cimabue to the present hour. Then Michael Angelo was by no means original in his couplet-- ‘Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto Che un marmo solo in se non circunscriva.’” It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner of the true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference from the bearing of the vulgar, without being at once precisely able to determine in what such difference consists. Nor can I better define that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart from all other human beings, than by calling it a habit of intense and continual thought, pervading even his most trivial actions--intruding upon his moments of dalliance--and interweaving itself with his very flashes of merriment--like adders which writhe from out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around the temples of Persepolis. The whole page was blotted with fresh tears; and, upon the opposite interleaf, were the following English lines, written in a hand so very different from the peculiar characters of my acquaintance, that I had some difficulty in recognising it as his own:-- Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine-- A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and a shrine, All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers; And all the flowers were mine. A voice from out the Future cries, “Onward!”--but o’er the Past (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies, Mute--motionless--aghast! for that accursed time They bore thee o’er the billow, From Love to titled age and crime, And an unholy pillow!-- From me, and from our misty clime, Where weeps the silver willow! I was too well aware of the extent of his acquirements, and of the singular pleasure he took in concealing them from observation, to be astonished at any similar discovery; but the place of date, I must confess, occasioned me no little amazement. It had been originally written London, and afterwards carefully overscored--not, however, so effectually as to conceal the word from a scrutinizing eye. But in the expression of the countenance, which was beaming all over with smiles, there still lurked (incomprehensible anomaly!) that fitful stain of melancholy which will ever be found inseparable from the perfection of the beautiful. My glance fell from the painting to the figure of my friend, and the vigorous words of Chapman’s Bussy D’Ambois, quivered instinctively upon my lips: “He is up There like a Roman statue!

Proprieties of place, and especially of time, are the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contemplation of the magnificent. It conveyed to my soul the idea of revolution--perhaps from its association in fancy with the burr of a mill wheel. I saw that the decrees of what to me was Fate, were still issuing from those lips. At first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed white and slender angels who would save me; but then, all at once, there came a most deadly nausea over my spirit, and I felt every fibre in my frame thrill as if I had touched the wire of a galvanic battery, while the angel forms became meaningless spectres, with heads of flame, and I saw that from them there would be no help. The thought came gently and stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the judges vanished, as if magically, from before me; the tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames went out utterly; the blackness of darkness supervened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, we break the gossamer web of some dream. In the return to life from the swoon there are two stages; first, that of the sense of mental or spiritual; secondly, that of the sense of physical, existence. How at least shall we distinguish its shadows from those of the tomb? Then comes a sense of sudden motionlessness throughout all things; as if those who bore me (a ghastly train!) had outrun, in their descent, the limits of the limitless, and paused from the wearisomeness of their toil. I brought to mind the inquisitorial proceedings, and attempted from that point to deduce my real condition.

Perspiration burst from every pore, and stood in cold big beads upon my forehead.

The agony of suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously moved forward, with my arms extended, and my eyes straining from their sockets, in the hope of catching some faint ray of light.

I tore a part of the hem from the robe and placed the fragment at full length, and at right angles to the wall. My confusion of mind prevented me from observing that I began my tour with the wall to the left, and ended it with the wall to the right. In feeling my way I had found many angles, and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity; so potent is the effect of total darkness upon one arousing from lethargy or sleep! I observed that the outlines of these monstrosities were sufficiently distinct, but that the colors seemed faded and blurred, as if from the effects of a damp atmosphere. In the centre yawned the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped; but it was the only one in the dungeon. It passed in many convolutions about my limbs and body, leaving at liberty only my head, and my left arm to such extent that I could, by dint of much exertion, supply myself with food from an earthen dish which lay by my side on the floor.

They had issued from the well, which lay just within view to my right.

From this it required much effort and attention to scare them away. I now observed--with what horror it is needless to say--that its nether extremity was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, about a foot in length from horn to horn; the horns upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that of a razor.

Like a razor also, it seemed massy and heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid and broad structure above. This was free only from the elbow to the hand. I could reach the latter, from the platter beside me, to my mouth, with great effort, but no farther. The first stroke of the razorlike crescent athwart any portion of the band, would so detach it that it might be unwound from my person by means of my left hand. With the particles of the oily and spicy viand which now remained, I thoroughly rubbed the bandage wherever I could reach it; then, raising my hand from the floor, I lay breathlessly still. Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops.

The surcingle hung in ribands from my body. With a steady movement--cautious, sidelong, shrinking, and slow--I slid from the embrace of the bandage and beyond the reach of the scimitar. I had scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror upon the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the hellish machine ceased and I beheld it drawn up, by some invisible force, through the ceiling. It proceeded from a fissure, about half an inch in width, extending entirely around the prison at the base of the walls, which thus appeared, and were, completely separated from the floor. As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the alteration in the chamber broke at once upon my understanding. I shrank from the glowing metal to the centre of the cell. The glare from the enkindled roof illumined its inmost recesses. With a shriek, I rushed from the margin, and buried my face in my hands--weeping bitterly.

I need not remind the reader that, from the long and weird catalogue of human miseries, I might have selected many individual instances more replete with essential suffering than any of these vast generalities of disaster.

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Apart, however, from the inevitable conclusion, a priori that such causes must produce such effects----that the well-known occurrence of such cases of suspended animation must naturally give rise, now and then, to premature interments--apart from this consideration, we have the direct testimony of medical and ordinary experience to prove that a vast number of such interments have actually taken place. A careful investigation rendered it evident that she had revived within two days after her entombment; that her struggles within the coffin had caused it to fall from a ledge, or shelf to the floor, where it was so broken as to permit her escape. Filled with despair, and still inflamed by the memory of a profound attachment, the lover journeys from the capital to the remote province in which the village lies, with the romantic purpose of disinterring the corpse, and possessing himself of its luxuriant tresses. Vitality had not altogether departed, and she was aroused by the caresses of her lover from the lethargy which had been mistaken for death. She returned no more to her husband, but, concealing from him her resurrection, fled with her lover to America. An officer of artillery, a man of gigantic stature and of robust health, being thrown from an unmanageable horse, received a very severe contusion upon the head, which rendered him insensible at once; the skull was slightly fractured, but no immediate danger was apprehended. From what he related, it was clear that he must have been conscious of life for more than an hour, while inhumed, before lapsing into insensibility.

It was the tumult within the grounds of the cemetery, he said, which appeared to awaken him from a deep sleep, but no sooner was he awake than he became fully aware of the awful horrors of his position. Arrangements were easily effected with some of the numerous corps of body-snatchers, with which London abounds; and, upon the third night after the funeral, the supposed corpse was unearthed from a grave eight feet deep, and deposited in the opening chamber of one of the private hospitals. A rough gash was made, and a wire hastily brought in contact, when the patient, with a hurried but quite unconvulsive movement, arose from the table, stepped into the middle of the floor, gazed about him uneasily for a few seconds, and then--spoke. Upon exhibition of ether he revived and was rapidly restored to health, and to the society of his friends--from whom, however, all knowledge of his resuscitation was withheld, until a relapse was no longer to be apprehended. He declares that at no period was he altogether insensible--that, dully and confusedly, he was aware of everything which happened to him, from the moment in which he was pronounced dead by his physicians, to that in which he fell swooning to the floor of the hospital. When we reflect how very rarely, from the nature of the case, we have it in our power to detect them, we must admit that they may frequently occur without our cognizance. The unendurable oppression of the lungs--the stifling fumes from the damp earth--the clinging to the death garments--the rigid embrace of the narrow house--the blackness of the absolute Night--the silence like a sea that overwhelms--the unseen but palpable presence of the Conqueror Worm--these things, with the thoughts of the air and grass above, with memory of dear friends who would fly to save us if but informed of our fate, and with consciousness that of this fate they can never be informed--that our hopeless portion is that of the really dead--these considerations, I say, carry into the heart, which still palpitates, a degree of appalling and intolerable horror from which the most daring imagination must recoil.

Very usually he is saved from premature interment solely by the knowledge of his friends that he has been previously subject to catalepsy, by the consequent suspicion excited, and, above all, by the non-appearance of decay. In this lies the principal security from inhumation. My own case differed in no important particular from those mentioned in medical books. From these latter attacks I awoke, however, with a gradation slow in proportion to the suddenness of the seizure. Apart from the tendency to trance, however, my general health appeared to be good; nor could I perceive that it was at all affected by the one prevalent malady--unless, indeed, an idiosyncrasy in my ordinary sleep may be looked upon as superinduced. Upon awaking from slumber, I could never gain, at once, thorough possession of my senses, and always remained, for many minutes, in much bewilderment and perplexity;--the mental faculties in general, but the memory in especial, being in a condition of absolute abeyance. From the innumerable images of gloom which thus oppressed me in dreams, I select for record but a solitary vision.

Is not this a spectacle of woe?--Behold!” I looked; and the unseen figure, which still grasped me by the wrist, had caused to be thrown open the graves of all mankind, and from each issued the faint phosphoric radiance of decay, so that I could see into the innermost recesses, and there view the shrouded bodies in their sad and solemn slumbers with the worm. the real sleepers were fewer, by many millions, than those who slumbered not at all; and there was a feeble struggling; and there was a general sad unrest; and from out the depths of the countless pits there came a melancholy rustling from the garments of the buried. is it not a pitiful sight?”--but, before I could find words to reply, the figure had ceased to grasp my wrist, the phosphoric lights expired, and the graves were closed with a sudden violence, while from out them arose a tumult of despairing cries, saying again: “Is it not--O, God, is it not a very pitiful sight?” Phantasies such as these, presenting themselves at night, extended their terrific influence far into my waking hours. I hesitated to ride, or to walk, or to indulge in any exercise that would carry me from home.

Among other things, I had the family vault so remodelled as to admit of being readily opened from within. Besides all this, there was suspended from the roof of the tomb, a large bell, the rope of which, it was designed, should extend through a hole in the coffin, and so be fastened to one of the hands of the corpse. Not even these well-contrived securities sufficed to save from the uttermost agonies of living inhumation, a wretch to these agonies foredoomed! There arrived an epoch--as often before there had arrived--in which I found myself emerging from total unconsciousness into the first feeble and indefinite sense of existence. At length the slight quivering of an eyelid, and immediately thereupon, an electric shock of a terror, deadly and indefinite, which sends the blood in torrents from the temples to the heart. I feel that I am not awaking from ordinary sleep. I endeavored to shriek; and my lips and my parched tongue moved convulsively together in the attempt--but no voice issued from the cavernous lungs, which oppressed as if by the weight of some incumbent mountain, gasped and palpitated, with the heart, at every elaborate and struggling inspiration. They struck a solid wooden substance, which extended above my person at an elevation of not more than six inches from my face. I had fallen into a trance while absent from home--while among strangers--when, or how, I could not remember--and it was they who had buried me as a dog--nailed up in some common coffin--and thrust deep, deep, and for ever, into some ordinary and nameless grave. They did not arouse me from my slumber--for I was wide awake when I screamed--but they restored me to the full possession of my memory.

The distance of its bottom from the deck overhead was precisely the same. Nevertheless, I slept soundly, and the whole of my vision--for it was no dream, and no nightmare--arose naturally from the circumstances of my position--from my ordinary bias of thought--and from the difficulty, to which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and especially of regaining my memory, for a long time after awaking from slumber. From the load itself came the earthly smell. From that memorable night, I dismissed forever my charnel apprehensions, and with them vanished the cataleptic disorder, of which, perhaps, they had been less the consequence than the cause. FROM his cradle to his grave a gale of prosperity bore my friend Ellison along.

An anxious examination of his career has given me to understand that in general, from the violation of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind--that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought elements of content--and that, even now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy.

This act, however, did not prevent young Ellison from entering into possession, on his twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his ancestor Seabright, of a fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of dollars. In short, no position can be attained on the wide surface of the natural earth, from which an artistical eye, looking steadily, will not find matter of offence in what is termed the “composition” of the landscape. With her details we shrink from competition. Each alteration of the natural scenery may possibly effect a blemish in the picture, if we can suppose this picture viewed at large--in mass--from some point distant from the earth’s surface, although not beyond the limits of its atmosphere. There may be a class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to whom, from afar, our disorder may seem order--our unpicturesqueness picturesque, in a word, the earth-angels, for whose scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death-refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres.” In the course of discussion, my friend quoted some passages from a writer on landscape-gardening who has been supposed to have well treated his theme: “There are properly but two styles of landscape-gardening, the natural and the artificial.

One seeks to recall the original beauty of the country, by adapting its means to the surrounding scenery, cultivating trees in harmony with the hills or plain of the neighboring land; detecting and bringing into practice those nice relations of size, proportion, and color which, hid from the common observer, are revealed everywhere to the experienced student of nature. The slightest exhibition of art is an evidence of care and human interest.” “From what I have already observed,” said Ellison, “you will understand that I reject the idea, here expressed, of recalling the original beauty of the country. What, in its chrysalis condition of principle, affronted their demure reason, never fails, in its maturity of accomplishment, to extort admiration from their instinct of beauty.

Now let us suppose this sense of the Almighty design to be one step depressed--to be brought into something like harmony or consistency with the sense of human art--to form an intermedium between the two:--let us imagine, for example, a landscape whose combined vastness and definitiveness--whose united beauty, magnificence, and strangeness, shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity--then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the art intervolved is made to assume the air of an intermediate or secondary nature--a nature which is not God, nor an emanation from God, but which still is nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God.” It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodiment of a vision such as this--in the free exercise in the open air ensured by the personal superintendence of his plans--in the unceasing object which these plans afforded--in the high spirituality of the object--in the contempt of ambition which it enabled him truly to feel--in the perennial springs with which it gratified, without possibility of satiating, that one master passion of his soul, the thirst for beauty, above all, it was in the sympathy of a woman, not unwomanly, whose loveliness and love enveloped his existence in the purple atmosphere of Paradise, that Ellison thought to find, and found, exemption from the ordinary cares of humanity, with a far greater amount of positive happiness than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams of De Stael. Let me seek, then, a spot not far from a populous city--whose vicinity, also, will best enable me to execute my plans.” In search of a suitable place so situated, Ellison travelled for several years, and I was permitted to accompany him. We came at length to an elevated table-land of wonderful fertility and beauty, affording a panoramic prospect very little less in extent than that of Aetna, and, in Ellison’s opinion as well as my own, surpassing the far-famed view from that mountain in all the true elements of the picturesque. It is at war with the sentiment and with the sense of seclusion--the sentiment and sense which we seek to humor in ‘retiring to the country.’ In looking from the summit of a mountain we cannot help feeling abroad in the world. The walls of the ravine (through which the clear water still tranquilly flowed) arose to an elevation of a hundred and occasionally of a hundred and fifty feet, and inclined so much toward each other as, in a great measure, to shut out the light of day; while the long plume-like moss which depended densely from the intertwining shrubberies overhead, gave the whole chasm an air of funereal gloom. Having threaded the mazes of this channel for some hours, the gloom deepening every moment, a sharp and unexpected turn of the vessel brought it suddenly, as if dropped from heaven, into a circular basin of very considerable extent when compared with the width of the gorge. Their sides sloped from the water’s edge at an angle of some forty-five degrees, and they were clothed from base to summit--not a perceptible point escaping--in a drapery of the most gorgeous flower-blossoms; scarcely a green leaf being visible among the sea of odorous and fluctuating color.

The impressions wrought on the observer were those of richness, warmth, color, quietude, uniformity, softness, delicacy, daintiness, voluptuousness, and a miraculous extremeness of culture that suggested dreams of a new race of fairies, laborious, tasteful, magnificent, and fastidious; but as the eye traced upward the myriad-tinted slope, from its sharp junction with the water to its vague termination amid the folds of overhanging cloud, it became, indeed, difficult not to fancy a panoramic cataract of rubies, sapphires, opals, and golden onyxes, rolling silently out of the sky. The visiter, shooting suddenly into this bay from out the gloom of the ravine, is delighted but astounded by the full orb of the declining sun, which he had supposed to be already far below the horizon, but which now confronts him, and forms the sole termination of an otherwise limitless vista seen through another chasm-like rift in the hills. Here the bank slopes upward from the stream in a very gentle ascent, forming a broad sward of grass of a texture resembling nothing so much as velvet, and of a brilliancy of green which would bear comparison with the tint of the purest emerald. This plateau varies in width from ten to three hundred yards; reaching from the river-bank to a wall, fifty feet high, which extends, in an infinity of curves, but following the general direction of the river, until lost in the distance to the westward. On drawing nearer to this, however, its chasm-like appearance vanishes; a new outlet from the bay is discovered to the left--in which direction the wall is also seen to sweep, still following the general course of the stream. In a few moments, however, it is seen that the main body of the water still sweeps in a gentle and extensive curve to the left, the wall following it as before, while a stream of considerable volume, diverging from the principal one, makes its way, with a slight ripple, under the door, and is thus hidden from sight. There is a gush of entrancing melody; there is an oppressive sense of strange sweet odor,--there is a dream-like intermingling to the eye of tall slender Eastern trees--bosky shrubberies--flocks of golden and crimson birds--lily-fringed lakes--meadows of violets, tulips, poppies, hyacinths, and tuberoses--long intertangled lines of silver streamlets--and, upspringing confusedly from amid all, a mass of semi-Gothic, semi-Saracenic architecture sustaining itself by miracle in mid-air, glittering in the red sunlight with a hundred oriels, minarets, and pinnacles; and seeming the phantom handiwork, conjointly, of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii and of the Gnomes. As it came fully into view--thus gradually as I describe it--piece by piece, here a tree, there a glimpse of water, and here again the summit of a chimney, I could scarcely help fancying that the whole was one of the ingenious illusions sometimes exhibited under the name of “vanishing pictures.” By the time, however, that the fog had thoroughly disappeared, the sun had made its way down behind the gentle hills, and thence, as if with a slight chassez to the south, had come again fully into sight, glaring with a purplish lustre through a chasm that entered the valley from the west. Not even the monstrosity of color was wanting; for the sunlight came out through the chasm, tinted all orange and purple; while the vivid green of the grass in the valley was reflected more or less upon all objects from the curtain of vapor that still hung overhead, as if loth to take its total departure from a scene so enchantingly beautiful. The little vale into which I thus peered down from under the fog canopy could not have been more than four hundred yards long; while in breadth it varied from fifty to one hundred and fifty or perhaps two hundred.

Here a precipitous ledge of granite arose to a height of some ninety feet; and, as I have mentioned, the valley at this point was not more than fifty feet wide; but as the visiter proceeded southwardly from the cliff, he found on his right hand and on his left, declivities at once less high, less precipitous, and less rocky. Here, generally, the slopes were nothing more than gentle inclinations, extending from east to west about one hundred and fifty yards. To the north--on the craggy precipice--a few paces from the verge--up sprang the magnificent trunks of numerous hickories, black walnuts, and chestnuts, interspersed with occasional oak, and the strong lateral branches thrown out by the walnuts especially, spread far over the edge of the cliff. Another was a hickory, much larger than the elm, and altogether a much finer tree, although both were exceedingly beautiful: it seemed to have taken charge of the northwestern entrance, springing from a group of rocks in the very jaws of the ravine, and throwing its graceful body, at an angle of nearly forty-five degrees, far out into the sunshine of the amphitheatre. Its three trunks separated from the parent at about three feet from the soil, and diverging very slightly and gradually, were not more than four feet apart at the point where the largest stem shot out into foliage: this was at an elevation of about eighty feet. And then the stately grace of the clean, delicately-granulated columnar stems, the largest four feet in diameter, at twenty from the ground. From the one to the northwest issued a rivulet, which came, gently murmuring and slightly foaming, down the ravine, until it dashed against the group of rocks out of which sprang the insulated hickory.

A small island, fairly laughing with flowers in full bloom, and affording little more space than just enough for a picturesque little building, seemingly a fowl-house--arose from the lake not far from its northern shore--to which it was connected by means of an inconceivably light-looking and yet very primitive bridge. From the southern extreme of the lake issued a continuation of the rivulet, which, after meandering for, perhaps, thirty yards, finally passed through the “depression” (already described) in the middle of the southern declivity, and tumbling down a sheer precipice of a hundred feet, made its devious and unnoticed way to the Hudson. The northern precipice, in like manner, was almost entirely clothed by grape-vines of rare luxuriance; some springing from the soil at the base of the cliff, and others from ledges on its face. Its two general directions, as I have said, were first from west to east, and then from north to south. The point of view from which I first saw the valley, was not altogether, although it was nearly, the best point from which to survey the house. I will therefore describe it as I afterwards saw it--from a position on the stone wall at the southern extreme of the amphitheatre. Its total height, from the ground to the apex of the roof, could not have exceeded eighteen feet. To the west end of this structure was attached one about a third smaller in all its proportions:--the line of its front standing back about two yards from that of the larger house, and the line of its roof, of course, being considerably depressed below that of the roof adjoining. At right angles to these buildings, and from the rear of the main one--not exactly in the middle--extended a third compartment, very small--being, in general, one-third less than the western wing. The roofs of the two larger were very steep--sweeping down from the ridge-beam with a long concave curve, and extending at least four feet beyond the walls in front, so as to form the roofs of two piazzas.

The blank wall of the eastern gable was relieved by stairs (with a balustrade) running diagonally across it--the ascent being from the south. Excellent paths of the same material--not nicely adapted, but with the velvety sod filling frequent intervals between the stones, led hither and thither from the house, to a crystal spring about five paces off, to the road, or to one or two out-houses that lay to the north, beyond the brook, and were thoroughly concealed by a few locusts and catalpas. Not more than six steps from the main door of the cottage stood the dead trunk of a fantastic pear-tree, so clothed from head to foot in the gorgeous bignonia blossoms that one required no little scrutiny to determine what manner of sweet thing it could be. From various arms of this tree hung cages of different kinds.

The pillars of the piazza were enwreathed in jasmine and sweet honeysuckle; while from the angle formed by the main structure and its west wing, in front, sprang a grape-vine of unexampled luxuriance. From the position near the stone wall, as described, the buildings were seen at great advantage--for the southeastern angle was thrown forward--so that the eye took in at once the whole of the two fronts, with the picturesque eastern gable, and at the same time obtained just a sufficient glimpse of the northern wing, with parts of a pretty roof to the spring-house, and nearly half of a light bridge that spanned the brook in the near vicinity of the main buildings. It was clear that I had wandered from the road to the village, and I had thus good traveller’s excuse to open the gate before me, and inquire my way, at all events; so, without more ado, I proceeded. I said to myself, “Surely here I have found the perfection of natural, in contradistinction from artificial grace.” The second impression which she made on me, but by far the more vivid of the two, was that of enthusiasm. So intense an expression of romance, perhaps I should call it, or of unworldliness, as that which gleamed from her deep-set eyes, had never so sunk into my heart of hearts before. The eyes of Annie (I heard some one from the interior call her “Annie, darling!”) were “spiritual grey;” her hair, a light chestnut: this is all I had time to observe of her. From me, in an instant, all virtue dropped bodily as a mantle. From comparatively trivial wickedness I passed, with the stride of a giant, into more than the enormities of an Elah-Gabalus. I would have them allow--what they cannot refrain from allowing--that, although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, man was never thus, at least, tempted before--certainly, never thus fell. With how deep a spirit of wonder and perplexity was I wont to regard him from our remote pew in the gallery, as, with step solemn and slow, he ascended the pulpit!

From each room to every other there were sure to be found three or four steps either in ascent or descent. Then the lateral branches were innumerable--inconceivable--and so returning in upon themselves, that our most exact ideas in regard to the whole mansion were not very far different from those with which we pondered upon infinity. The teeming brain of childhood requires no external world of incident to occupy or amuse it; and the apparently dismal monotony of a school was replete with more intense excitement than my riper youth has derived from luxury, or my full manhood from crime. I could only conceive this singular behavior to arise from a consummate self-conceit assuming the vulgar airs of patronage and protection. We had, to be sure, nearly every day a quarrel in which, yielding me publicly the palm of victory, he, in some manner, contrived to make me feel that it was he who had deserved it; yet a sense of pride on my part, and a veritable dignity on his own, kept us always upon what are called “speaking terms,” while there were many points of strong congeniality in our tempers, operating to awake me in a sentiment which our position alone, perhaps, prevented from ripening into friendship. I could find, indeed, but one vulnerable point, and that, lying in a personal peculiarity, arising, perhaps, from constitutional disease, would have been spared by any antagonist less at his wit’s end than myself;--my rival had a weakness in the faucal or guttural organs, which precluded him from raising his voice at any time above a very low whisper. One night, about the close of my fifth year at the school, and immediately after the altercation just mentioned, finding every one wrapped in sleep, I arose from bed, and, lamp in hand, stole through a wilderness of narrow passages from my own bedroom to that of my rival. Awe-stricken, and with a creeping shudder, I extinguished the lamp, passed silently from the chamber, and left, at once, the halls of that old academy, never to enter them again. Madly flushed with cards and intoxication, I was in the act of insisting upon a toast of more than wonted profanity, when my attention was suddenly diverted by the violent, although partial unclosing of the door of the apartment, and by the eager voice of a servant from without.

I did not pretend to disguise from my perception the identity of the singular individual who thus perseveringly interfered with my affairs, and harassed me with his insinuated counsel. Upon neither of these points could I be satisfied; merely ascertaining, in regard to him, that a sudden accident in his family had caused his removal from Dr. It could hardly be credited, however, that I had, even here, so utterly fallen from the gentlemanly estate, as to seek acquaintance with the vilest arts of the gambler by profession, and, having become an adept in his despicable science, to practise it habitually as a means of increasing my already enormous income at the expense of the weak-minded among my fellow-collegians. That he was overcome by the wine just swallowed, was the idea which most readily presented itself; and, rather with a view to the preservation of my own character in the eyes of my associates, than from any less interested motive, I was about to insist, peremptorily, upon a discontinuance of the play, when some expressions at my elbow from among the company, and an ejaculation evincing utter despair on the part of Glendinning, gave me to understand that I had effected his total ruin under circumstances which, rendering him an object for the pity of all, should have protected him from the ill offices even of a fiend. I will even own that an intolerable weight of anxiety was for a brief instant lifted from my bosom by the sudden and extraordinary interruption which ensued. Before any one of us could recover from the extreme astonishment into which this rudeness had thrown all, we heard the voice of the intruder. You are, beyond doubt, uninformed of the true character of the person who has to-night won at ecarte a large sum of money from Lord Glendinning. Wilson,” said our host, stooping to remove from beneath his feet an exceedingly luxurious cloak of rare furs, “Mr. Retaining some presence of mind, I took the one offered me by Preston; placed it, unnoticed, over my own; left the apartment with a resolute scowl of defiance; and, next morning ere dawn of day, commenced a hurried journey from Oxford to the continent, in a perfect agony of horror and of shame. From his inscrutable tyranny did I at length flee, panic-stricken, as from a pestilence; and to the very ends of the earth I fled in vain.

Follow me, or I stab you where you stand!”--and I broke my way from the ball-room into a small ante-chamber adjoining--dragging him unresistingly with me as I went. Upon entering, I thrust him furiously from me. It was not a groan of pain or of grief--oh, no!--it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. So I opened it--you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily--until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye. I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim. How is it that from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness?--from the covenant of peace, a simile of sorrow?

Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy land--into a palace of imagination--into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition--it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eye--that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers--it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life--wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. Berenice!--I call upon her name--Berenice!--and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! Among the numerous train of maladies superinduced by that fatal and primary one which effected a revolution of so horrible a kind in the moral and physical being of my cousin, may be mentioned as the most distressing and obstinate in its nature, a species of epilepsy not unfrequently terminating in trance itself--trance very nearly resembling positive dissolution, and from which her manner of recovery was in most instances, startlingly abrupt. In the one instance, the dreamer, or enthusiast, being interested by an object usually not frivolous, imperceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness of deductions and suggestions issuing therefrom, until, at the conclusion of a day dream often replete with luxury, he finds the incitamentum, or first cause of his musings, entirely vanished and forgotten. The meditations were never pleasurable; and, at the termination of the reverie, the first cause, so far from being out of sight, had attained that supernaturally exaggerated interest which was the prevailing feature of the disease. Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only by trivial things, my reason bore resemblance to that ocean-crag spoken of by Ptolemy Hephestion, which steadily resisting the attacks of human violence, and the fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, trembled only to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. The eyes were lifeless, and lustreless, and seemingly pupilless, and I shrank involuntarily from their glassy stare to the contemplation of the thin and shrunken lips.

* * * * * The shutting of a door disturbed me, and, looking up, I found that my cousin had departed from the chamber. But from the disordered chamber of my brain, had not, alas! I arose from my seat, and throwing open one of the doors of the library, saw standing out in the ante-chamber a servant maiden, all in tears, who told me that Berenice was--no more! It seemed that I had newly awakened from a confused and exciting dream. Yet its memory was replete with horror--horror more horrible from being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity. But I could not force it open; and in my tremor, it slipped from my hands, and fell heavily, and burst into pieces; and from it, with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of dental surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances that were scattered to and fro about the floor. Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence--whether much that is glorious--whether all that is profound--does not spring from disease of thought--from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect. No unguided footstep ever came upon that vale; for it lay away up among a range of giant hills that hung beetling around about it, shutting out the sunlight from its sweetest recesses.

From the dim regions beyond the mountains at the upper end of our encircled domain, there crept out a narrow and deep river, brighter than all save the eyes of Eleonora; and, winding stealthily about in mazy courses, it passed away, at length, through a shadowy gorge, among hills still dimmer than those whence it had issued. No murmur arose from its bed, and so gently it wandered along, that the pearly pebbles upon which we loved to gaze, far down within its bosom, stirred not at all, but lay in a motionless content, each in its own old station, shining on gloriously forever. The margin of the river, and of the many dazzling rivulets that glided through devious ways into its channel, as well as the spaces that extended from the margins away down into the depths of the streams until they reached the bed of pebbles at the bottom,--these spots, not less than the whole surface of the valley, from the river to the mountains that girdled it in, were carpeted all by a soft green grass, thick, short, perfectly even, and vanilla-perfumed, but so besprinkled throughout with the yellow buttercup, the white daisy, the purple violet, and the ruby-red asphodel, that its exceeding beauty spoke to our hearts in loud tones, of the love and of the glory of God. Their mark was speckled with the vivid alternate splendor of ebony and silver, and was smoother than all save the cheeks of Eleonora; so that, but for the brilliant green of the huge leaves that spread from their summits in long, tremulous lines, dallying with the Zephyrs, one might have fancied them giant serpents of Syria doing homage to their sovereign the Sun. We had drawn the God Eros from that wave, and now we felt that he had enkindled within us the fiery souls of our forefathers. And the bright eyes of Eleonora grew brighter at my words; and she sighed as if a deadly burthen had been taken from her breast; and she trembled and very bitterly wept; but she made acceptance of the vow, (for what was she but a child?) and it made easy to her the bed of her death. And she said to me, not many days afterward, tranquilly dying, that, because of what I had done for the comfort of her spirit she would watch over me in that spirit when departed, and, if so it were permitted her return to me visibly in the watches of the night; but, if this thing were, indeed, beyond the power of the souls in Paradise, that she would, at least, give me frequent indications of her presence, sighing upon me in the evening winds, or filling the air which I breathed with perfume from the censers of the angels. And Life departed from our paths; for the tall flamingo flaunted no longer his scarlet plumage before us, but flew sadly from the vale into the hills, with all the gay glowing birds that had arrived in his company.

And then, lastly, the voluminous cloud uprose, and, abandoning the tops of the mountains to the dimness of old, fell back into the regions of Hesper, and took away all its manifold golden and gorgeous glories from the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. I was awakened from a slumber, like the slumber of death, by the pressing of spiritual lips upon my own. I found myself within a strange city, where all things might have served to blot from recollection the sweet dreams I had dreamed so long in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. Suddenly these manifestations they ceased, and the world grew dark before mine eyes, and I stood aghast at the burning thoughts which possessed, at the terrible temptations which beset me; for there came from some far, far distant and unknown land, into the gay court of the king I served, a maiden to whose beauty my whole recreant heart yielded at once--at whose footstool I bowed down without a struggle, in the most ardent, in the most abject worship of love. /

Come in.“I have come for you because the woman you spoke about last evening is already here, and before employing her, I want your advice.” “Then the woman doesn’t please you, mother?” “I want you to see her.” On entering the little parlor with his mother, Pascal found himself in the presence of a portly, pale-faced woman, with thin lips and restless eyes, who bowed obsequiously. She could only hope to obtain employment from strangers and newcomers, who were ignorant of the reputation of the model lodging-house. this is a strange world.” Pascal had become whiter than the ceiling. “Very well,” she said, “I will give you twenty-five francs--but on condition you come without complaining if I sometimes require your services of an evening. He was revolving the subject in his mind when he suddenly remembered the man who, on the morning that followed the scene at Madame d’Argeles’s house, had come to him in the Rue d’Ulm to give him a proof of his confidence. He remembered that this strange man had said: “If you ever need a helping hand, come to me.” And at the recollection he made up his mind. When gentlemen abuse him he does the same as dogs do when they come up out of the water; he just shakes his head and troubles himself no more about it. And I not only said it, I formally notified you through my private secretary.” “I remember, indeed----” “Then why do you come to me with your bill? The baron, who had been so favorably disposed toward him, and from whom he was expecting a great service, would undoubtedly hate him, undoubtedly become his enemy, when he learned that he had been a listener, although an involuntary one, to this conversation with Van Klopen.

What had become of the footman who had taken his card? “I can remain now; he will come here in a moment.” The baron must really have started to leave the room, for his wife exclaimed: “One word more: have you quite decided?” “Oh, fully!” “You are resolved to leave me exposed to the persecutions of my dressmaker?” “Van Klopen is too charming and polite to cause you the least worry.” “You will brave the disgrace of a law-suit?” “Nonsense! If all husbands were as courageous, we should soon close the establishments of these artful men, who minister to your vanity, and use you ladies as puppets, or living advertisements, to display the absurd fashions which enrich them.” The baron took two or three more steps forward, as if about to leave the room, but his wife interposed: “The Baroness Trigault, whose husband has an income of seven or eight hundred thousand francs a year, can’t go about clad like a simple woman of the middle classes.” “I should see nothing so very improper in that.” “Oh, I know. On the day after to-morrow she will inaugurate a new style of hair-dressing, and take part in a comedy. Convinced of your treachery, I resolved to ascertain everything, and I discovered that in my absence you had become a mother. I said to myself that the day would come when, at any risk, you would try to see your child again, to embrace her, and provide for her future. Have you ever asked what has become of her? His face was transformed, his lips had become perfectly white, and his eyes seemed to be starting from their sockets.

But the baron whom the world knew was only a comedian; this was the real man. “But the marquis has an income of a hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand francs,” said he; “that is an all-sufficient justification. The baron called out: “Come in,” and a valet appeared, and informed his master that the Marquis de Valorsay wished to speak with him. “Double it and you won’t come up to the mark. Does his income equal that sum? It was not until he had discovered that the husband had become discouraged and had discontinued his search, that the count began his. I have arrived at the object of my visit now.” As Baron Trigault was supposed to enjoy an income of at least eight hundred thousand francs a year, he received in the course of a twelvemonth at least a million applications for money or help, and for this reason he had not an equal for detecting a coming appeal. Plainly enough, he now longed to make his escape, and indeed, after rattling off a few commonplace remarks, he rose to his feet and took his leave, exclaiming: “Till the day after to-morrow, then!” The baron sank into an arm-chair, completely overcome.

What did it avail him that he had become one of the richest men in Paris? “What can she do with it all?” muttered the baron, overcome with sorrow and indignation. “How can she succeed in spending the income of several millions?” A name, the name of Ferdinand de Coralth, rose to his lips; but he did not pronounce it. His desire to borrow a hundred thousand francs of me proves it; and, besides, he wouldn’t have come this morning to tell me a falsehood, which would be discovered to-morrow. Come, let us reason a little. She is undoubtedly watched, so don’t write on any account.” He reflected for a moment, and then added: “We shall, perhaps, become morally certain of Valorsay’s and Coralth’s guilt, but there’s a wide difference between this and the establishment of their guilt by material proofs.

“Let him come in,” said the baron. He would have let Domingo come in second, not third!” “If he were not guilty, and afraid of detection, he wouldn’t pay forfeit to-day nor sell his horses.” “He only retires from the turf because he’s going to marry----” “Nonsense! Wilkie had taken the trouble to attentively examine the rooms which had suddenly become his own, he would perhaps have recognized the fact that a loving hand had prepared them for his reception. And he more than half believed it when he told his creditors that his lordship, his father, would some day or other come to Paris and pay all his debts. His creditors were becoming uneasy; bills actually rained in upon his concierge; his next quarterly allowance was not due for some time to come, and it was only through the pawnbroker that he could obtain money for his more pressing requirements. Madame d’Argeles is the heiress of all these millions--will she come forward and claim them? I have only some good news to communicate,” and in a careless tone which cleverly concealed his anxiety, the viscount added: “I have come, my dear Wilkie, to ask you what you would be willing to give the man who put you in possession of a fortune of several millions?” M. that’s good--very good--excellent!” He tried his best to laugh, but he was completely overcome; and, in fact, he had cherished so many extravagant hopes that nothing seemed impossible to him. “Come, my friend,” he said at last, “do you want to poke fun at me?

It is afterward, when the day of settlement comes, that people begin to find fault with the rate of interest. If any scoundrel comes to you with proposals, be extremely careful. If she hesitates, her son will compel her to urge her claims, will he not?” “Oh, you may rest assured of that.” “And when he becomes rich, will you be able to retain your influence over him?” “Rich or poor, I can mould him like wax.” “Very good. I must remain with him until he becomes sober again.” So he followed him to the theatre, and thence to Brebant’s, where he was sitting feeling terribly bored, when M. Wilkie conceived the unfortunate idea of inviting Victor Chupin to come up and take some refreshment. Fortunat could not have gone very far; so that, if she sent for him to come back, she might perhaps be able to repair her blunder.

He is incensed with me; and who knows how long it will be before he comes again?” Still she waited, with feverish anxiety, listening breathlessly to every sound in the street, and trembling each time she heard or fancied she heard a carriage stop at the door. “It is too late--he won’t come!” she murmured. how kind of you to come!” she exclaimed.

“You are most welcome. de Chalusse and Madame Trigault would become a lost woman. “The wretch knows through Coralth that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse,” he said to himself; “and when Mademoiselle Marguerite has become his wife, he intends to oblige Madame d’Argeles to accept her brother’s estate and share it with him.” At that same moment Madame d’Argeles finished her narrative. However, I shall attend the sale, and I think I shall bid.’ And, in fact, your acquaintances won’t fail to repair to the Hotel Drouot, and maybe your most intimate friends will yield to their generous impulses sufficiently to offer twenty sous for one of the dainty trifles on your etageres.” Overcome with shame, Madame d’Argeles hung her head. Indeed, he continued, in a tone of bitter irony: “Of course, you will have an exhibition before the sale, and you will see all the dolls that hairdressers, milliners and fools call great ladies, come running to the show. They will come to see how a notorious woman lives, and to ascertain if there are any good bargains to be had.

This is the miserable end of all the poor wretches whose passing luxury scandalizes honest women.’” “And what will become of me?” “A respected woman, Lia. chastisement could not fail to come, and it was terrible, like the sin. ‘If your parents are not monsters,’ he was always saying, ‘they will finally become reconciled to our marriage. There were at least forty persons in the room, and the gambling had become quite animated when the baron entered. For he had the impudence to come, in order to dispel any suspicions that might have been aroused anent his complicity in the card-cheating affair. Wilkie sank into an arm-chair, considerably overcome. For the first time it occurred to him that this woman, whose peace he had come to destroy, was not only the heiress of the Count de Chalusse’s millions, but also his mother, that is to say, the good fairy whose protection had followed him everywhere since he entered the world. “I wished to say to you,” he repeated, “I wished to say to you----” But the words he was seeking would not come; and, so at last, angry with himself, he exclaimed: “Ah! you know as well as I, why I have come. All Coralth’s recommendations buzzed confusedly in his ears, and he judged that the moment had come “to do the sentimental,” as he would have expressed it.

I didn’t come into the world at my own request, did I? why did you come?

Death would have been a rest, a welcome release for me. He shuddered at the thought that some one might come in. He knelt at Madame d’Argeles’s feet, and gently said: “Come, come, be reasonable! “Fool!” continued Madame d’Argeles, “did nothing warn you that in coming here you would deprive yourself forever of the income you received? And if any fool speaks slightingly of you, you can reply: ‘I have an income of five hundred thousand francs,’ and he’ll say no more.” Madame d’Argeles listened, speechless with horror and disgust. He scarcely deigned to come back, and he made no attempt to conceal his impatience. “Come back, gentleman, come back,” he cried, angrily. And then, retreating a step: “Who gave you permission to come in here?” he added. Come, make haste. Come, come, and see your room.” And while they crossed several scantily-furnished apartments, Madame de Fondege continued: “It is I who ought to apologize to you.

You, the daughter of a man who possessed an income of five or six hundred thousand francs a year! “The dress that I am wearing now----.” “Is very pretty, my child, and it becomes you extremely; that’s the truth. This is the fourth time I’ve come here with my bill.” Madame de Fondege pointed to Mademoiselle Marguerite, and exclaimed: “Wait, at least, until I am alone before you speak to me on business.” Madame Landoire shrugged her shoulders. Cast upon her own resources at the age of thirteen, she had learned to look upon everybody and everything with distrust; and by relying only on herself, she had become strangely cautious and clear-sighted. The General’s household was truly Parisian in character; or, at least, it was what a Parisian household inevitably becomes when its inmates fall a prey to the constantly increasing passion for luxury and display, to the furore for aping the habits and expenditure of millionaires, and to the noble and elevated desire of humiliating and outshining their neighbors. And this constant anxiety made out-door noise, excitement, and gayety a necessity of their existence, and caused them to welcome anything that took them from the home where they had barely sufficient to deceive society, and not enough to impose upon their creditors. So, if they rise again, if money and credit come back again, then the old magistrate is right--they have obtained possession of the Chalusse millions!” IX On this side, at least, Mademoiselle Marguerite had no very wide field of investigation to explore. But when they become troublesome, I shall crush them like glass. I am, my dear madame, devotedly yours--V.” Below ran a postscript which read as follows: “When you come on Tuesday bring this letter with you. She saw this, and slackening her pace, tried to become more composed.

“Does madame come for a photograph?” “Yes.” “Then will madame be so kind as to pass in. Go and tell him that he must come.” Her tone was so commanding, and there was so much authority in her glance, that the servant hesitated no longer. de Valorsay’s letter from her pocket, and, showing it to the photographer, she said, “I have come to you, monsieur, to ask you to photograph this letter--but at once--before me--and quickly--very quickly. I will send for them, or come myself.” And, feeling the extent of her obligation, she added, “But I will not go without introducing myself--I am Mademoiselle Marguerite de Chalusse.” And, thereupon, she went off, leaving the photographer surprised at the adventure and dazzled by his strange visitor’s beauty. However, her nature was not one of those weak ones which are become intoxicated by the first symptom of success, and then relax in their efforts. whence would it come?

No doubt they were resolved that she should become their son’s wife, even if they were obliged to use force to win her consent. Happy when it was filled to overflowing by some brilliant operation, and dejected when he saw it become empty as some imprudent transaction failed. Just as I was thinking of going in search of her, she comes to me.

Victor had become very much excited; his usually pale cheeks were crimson, and in a harsh voice, he continued: “It’s a fancy of mine--that’s all. We must be prepared to enter upon the campaign when Mademoiselle Marguerite comes, and we will act in accordance with her instructions.” Chupin had already caught up his hat; but just as he was leaving the room, he paused abruptly. He isn’t a regular customer, but he comes here occasionally.” “And where does he live?” “Why do you wish to know?” “So as to take him this letter, to be sure!” The waiters shrugged their shoulders. But just leave it here at the desk, and the next time the viscount comes in, the cashier will give it to him.” A cold chill crept over Chupin at the thought of losing his bank-note in this way. “Yes--when a fellow hasn’t ten thousand francs a year.” “You have become a worker, Toto, and that makes me very happy; but you are too eager for money, and that frightens me.” “That’s to say, you fear I shall do something dishonest. It was the old Chupin come to life once more--Toto Chupin as he had appeared before his conversion. The blind woman’s usually placid face had become stern.

I, who am only a poor plebeian, should die of shame under such circumstances.” Chupin blew his nose so loudly that the window-panes rattled; this was his way of repressing his emotion whenever it threatened to overcome him. “I certainly don’t come to call on him,” he answered. Come in.” Chupin had expected to find that M. Besides, if you can extract anything from the party the letter’s intended for, you are quite welcome to it.” “Agreed, sir! “I’ve come more quickly than an omnibus.” The Quai de la Seine is a broad road, connecting the Rue de Flandres with the canal de l’Ourcq. Come, come!” A bald-headed, corpulent man, who looked some fifty years of age, now timidly emerged from the room behind the shop with a cap in his hand.

Everything comes to those who know how to wait.” However she had already broken the seal, and she was now reading the letter eagerly, clapping her hands with delight as she finished its perusal. Deserted by her husband, Madame Paul had at last become weary of poverty and privations. On receiving it, Coralth had become alarmed. “Come here, my little fellow,” said he. “Doesn’t your papa ever come to see you?” insisted Chupin. But he’ll come some day, and take us away with him to a large house. I’m going with him to get some.” “Does he often come to see you?” “Every evening. “When I arrive at smoking ten sous cigars, I sha’n’t come here to buy them.” However, with the help of several matches and a great deal of drawing, he had almost succeeded, when the door opened, and Madame Paul reappeared with a letter in her hand. “Come and undress me; I must be up early to-morrow morning.” This remark was not lost upon Chupin, and at seven o’clock the next morning he mounted guard at M.

“Let her come in!” exclaimed M. Fortunat, eagerly--“let her come in!” Mademoiselle Marguerite had not been compelled to resort to any subterfuge to make her escape from Madame de Fondege’s house. But weary at last of this fruitless delay, she exclaimed: “I have come, monsieur, to confer with you respecting certain matters which require the most profound secrecy.” Chupin understood her, for he blushed to the tips of his ears, and started as if to leave the room. Ferailleur’s wishes.” “They cannot be considered.” “And why?” “Because no one knows what has become of him. Ferailleur sold his furniture and went away with his mother.” “I am aware of that, and I have come to ask you to search for him. “The Greloux family,” she continued, “seem to be what are called worthy people, that is, incapable of committing any crime that is punishable by the code, and very proud of their income of seven thousand francs a year.

This man, who has since become an infamous scoundrel, was then only a rake, an unprincipled drunkard and libertine. He fancied the poor little apprentice--she was then but thirteen years old--would be only too glad to become the mistress of her employer’s brother; but she scornfully repulsed him, and his vanity was so deeply wounded that he persecuted the poor girl to such an extent that she was obliged to complain, first to Madame Greloux, who--to her shame be it said--treated these insults as mere nonsense; and afterward to Greloux himself, who was probably delighted to have an opportunity of ridding himself of his indolent brother-in-law, for he turned him out of the house.” The thought that so vile a rascal as this man Vantrasson should have dared to insult Marguerite made Pascal frantic with indignation. On one occasion the superior received from her the sum of twenty-five thousand francs, and a year ago she presented the institution with one hundred thousand francs, the yearly income of which is to constitute the marriage dowry of some deserving orphan.” Pascal was greatly elated. No--I only pray God that you may never have to repent of choosing a wife whose past life must ever remain an impenetrable mystery!” Pascal had become very pale. It is now, perhaps; but will it suffice in years to come? On seeing this woman, Pascal was overcome with rage and indignation, and felt a wild desire to annihilate her. Owing to her past life, Marguerite’s experience is far in advance of her years, and if some one told me that she had fathomed Madame Leon’s character, I should not be at all surprised.” It was necessary to ascertain what had become of Marguerite; and Pascal was puzzling his brain to discover how this might be done, when suddenly he exclaimed: “Madame Vantrasson! “Come, we must have a talk.” And, taking Pascal’s arm, he led him into his private sanctum, separated from the large apartment by folding-doors, which had been removed, and replaced by hangings. “You have no doubt come,” said he, “for the money I promised that dear Marquis de Valorsay--I have it all ready for you; here it is.” So saying, he opened an escritoire, and took out a large roll of bank-notes, which he handed to Pascal. “Here, count it,” he added, “and see if the amount is correct.” But Pascal, whose face had suddenly become as red as fire, did not utter a word in reply.

Such, indeed, was Kami-Bey, a specimen of those semi-barbarians, loaded with gold who are not attracted to Paris by its splendors and glories, but rather by its corruption--people who come there persuaded that money will purchase anything and everything, and who often return home with the same conviction. You will gain considerably by the operation.” Kami-Bey felt that the baron would not tolerate his arrogance, and so with more moderation he exclaimed: “It isn’t strange that I’ve become suspicious. While he was condemned to inaction, his mind had no doubt been assailed by countless doubts and fears; but now that he knew whom he was to attack--now that the decisive moment had come, he was endowed with indomitable energy; he had turned to bronze, and he felt sure that nothing could disconcert or even trouble him in future. If you come from Baron Trigault, you will be received with all the respect due to the Messiah. Come in. It is true, however, that I have a foreigner to deal with--one of those half-civilized nabobs who come here every year to astonish the Parisians with their wealth and display, and who, by their idiotic prodigality, have so increased the price of everything that life has become well-nigh an impossibility to such of us as don’t care to squander an entire fortune in a couple of years. It is not the magnitude of a man’s income that constitutes affluence, but rather the way in which that income is spent. What income does the baron derive from his ten millions of francs?

Had not a recent lawsuit revealed the fact that certain rich folks, who had an income of more than a hundred thousand francs a year, had kept a thieving coachman for six months, simply because, in all that time, they were not able to raise the eight hundred francs they owed him, and which must be paid before he was dismissed? Come, we’ll go and question him.” They found the interesting foreigner in a savage mood. “What the devil took you away?” he exclaimed, with that coarseness of manner which was habitual with him, and which the flatterers around him styled “form.” “A man should no more be disturbed when he’s playing than when he’s eating.” “Come, come, prince,” said the baron, good-naturedly, “don’t be angry, and I’ll give you three hours instead of two. When a man has an income of a million, he doesn’t care to expose himself to the dangers of a duel.” “But, prince, in France folks don’t do a scoundrel the honor to cross swords with him.” “That’s just what my steward, who is a Frenchman, told me; but no matter. “Come,” insisted the baron, “tell us the man’s name.

Now comes the knavery. And what would become of me if I happened to side against him? You can set your own price on your services.” More easily overcome by joy than by sorrow, Pascal almost betrayed himself. Any one else would have been overcome with shame and sorrow--would have been frightened by the thought of what he had done, and have striven to find some way to conceal his disgrace; but he, not in the least. What a glorious chance to win notoriety at an epoch when newspapers have become public laundries, in which every one washes his soiled linen and dries it in the glare of publicity! Wilkie sorely, although he derived some benefit from it, for his disordered attire attracted attention at each place he entered, and acquaintances eagerly inquired: “Where have you come from, and what has happened to you?” Whereupon he replied with an air of profound secrecy: “Pray don’t speak of it. What was to become of him? “You come at a good time!” But M. “It’s I--come to inquire if you have gone mad?” “Viscount!” “I can find no other explanation of your conduct! that is precisely what I have said to myself.” “Still, I am convinced that with some assistance you might overcome your mother’s resistance, and even your father’s pretentions.” “Yes, but where could I find protectors?” The viscount’s gravity seemed to increase.

What rapture to become that illustrious nobleman’s acquaintance, perhaps his friend! de Coralth, exclaimed: “You are most welcome, viscount. I have given you a great mark of confidence, for in lending you my influence I become, in some measure at least, your sponsor. Wilkie, “it was fortunate that I came--very fortunate; so she was going to run away!” Thereupon, approaching a group of servants who were in close conference in the hall, he demanded, in his most imperious manner: “Madame d’Argeles!” The servants remembered the visitor perfectly; they now knew who he really was, and they could not understand how he could have the impudence and audacity to come there again so soon after the shameful scene of the previous evening. if I were in her place----” “Come, make haste,” rejoined Wilkie, indignantly, and following the servant, he was ushered into a room which had already been divested of its hangings, curtains, and furniture. What is to become of me?

As soon as I renounce the inheritance it becomes yours.” “Truly?” “I have no wish to deceive you.

He had come to Paris with the fixed determination of trapping some rich heiress, and forcing her family to give her to him with a large dowry, after one of those disgraceful scandals which render a marriage inevitable. At the very same time he was pursuing two other rich young girls, persuaded that one of the three would certainly become his victim. What will become of you?’ He shook his head, and with a look of anguish, replied: ‘Me! “It is that you should sign this deed, which has been drawn up by my notary--a deed by which you pledge yourself to hand me the sum of two million francs on the day you come into possession of the Chalusse property.” Two millions! When I was a girl I often heard my father say that his income amounted to more than eight hundred thousand francs a year. My brother inherited the whole property, and I would be willing to swear that he never spent more than half of his income.” Wilkie’s nerves had never been subjected to so severe a shock. do you know him?” “He is one of my most intimate friends.” Madame d’Argeles had become very pale. Let your story be noised abroad--and it will be noised abroad--and you will become a hero.

Upon you, my dear sir; and as your millions will lend an additional charm to the romance, you will become the lion of the season.” M. Her word was law in the house.” “What has become of her?” “She has gone to live with General de Fondege, one of the count’s friends. “To tell the truth,” he began, speaking slowly, and with some difficulty, “now that the moment for speaking has come, I almost hesitate. Come!

He lives a long way off, but my brougham is standing in the courtyard; so take it, and when your consultation is over, come back and dine with me.” “Ah! Swear to become my wife and I will establish your innocence?’” “I think she will say: ‘Save me and I will marry you!’” M. “And the day following,” he resumed, “when Marguerite becomes my wife, I shall take from a certain drawer a certain document, given to me by M. Come, confess that the plan is admirable!” “Admirable, undoubtedly; but terribly complicated. “Then,” he resumed, “you might come down and I would tell you the news; besides, I might often help you by doing errands.” Mademoiselle Marguerite reflected for a moment, and then bowing her head, she replied: “What you suggest is quite practicable. On and after to-morrow evening I will watch for you; and if I don’t come down at the end of half an hour, you will know that I am unavoidably detained.” Chupin ought to have been satisfied. Chupin knew this, and so he quickly resumed: “When I become rich, when I’m a great banker, and have a host of clerks who spend their time in counting my gold behind a grating, I should like to have a wife of my own like that.

Come, Victor, my boy, you must look alive!” However, he could not present himself at the office in the garb he then wore, and so, much against his will, he went home and changed his clothes. “What!” said he, “do you fancy I’ve come to collect money from you here, and at this hour? I keep a wine-shop on the Route d’Asnieres, and if you ever happen to pass that way with one of your comrades, come in, and I’ll reward you with a famous drink!” What had exasperated the porter almost beyond endurance, was the certainty he felt that she was mocking him. He then pressed a sou upon it, and when the wax had become sufficiently cool and stiff, he removed it from the table without destroying the impression, by means of a thin bladed knife similar to those which glaziers use. what’s all this?” The sight of the newcomer seemed to stupefy Vantrasson.

“Let her come in,” replied Marguerite, with unusual vivacity.

“Let her come in at once.” A lady who looked some forty years of age, plainly dressed, but of distinguished appearance, was thereupon ushered into the room. Your father must have told you of this, as well as of the cloud of suspicion that is still hanging over me.” She paused, for the lieutenant had become whiter than his shirt. “I have come to take you away, my dear child,” she exclaimed.

“Did you come to take breakfast with us?” he asked. He was not overcome for long; a thought of vengeance speedily flashed through his mind. the poor girl was utterly overcome. Every vein and artery throbbed with violence, and while a chill seemed to come to her heart, her head burned as if it had been on fire. Come, and let no fear of arousing suspicions of the Fondeges deter you. They had never met before, and their anxiety to become acquainted was intense, for they each felt that the other would exert a decisive influence upon her life. Thus the puritanical old lady had come to fetch Marguerite, so that whenever occasion required she might be able to say: “I was there!” As for Marguerite, after the trials of the day, she yielded without reserve to the feeling of rest and happiness that now filled her heart.

Marguerite’s response was inaudible, she was so overcome with emotion. They could bear adversity unmoved; but their composure deserted them in this excess of happiness; and standing in the door-way, Madame Ferailleur felt the tears come to her eyes as she stood watching them. Should any suspicion bring Madame Vantrasson here, all would be lost.” “She cannot come upon us unawares, my dear mother. de Valorsay’s confidence, discover his plans, and become his trusted accomplice. “As for the enormous sum you have been accused of taking,” he continued, “I know what has become of it; it is in the hands of M. de Fondege alone can tell what has become of that. And these letters are in the possession of a man of dubious integrity, who was once the marquis’s ally, but who has now become his enemy. de Valorsay, as you know, has boasted of his power to overcome your resistance, and he really believes that he possesses this power. de Valorsay, and those associated with him, do not come within the reach of human justice; but as soon as you are in prison, I can hasten to our friend the justice of the peace, and we shall go at once to the investigating magistrate and explain everything.

He devoted his attention exclusively to the horses and vehicles; but acting upon the advice of Casimir, who had become his valet and oracle, he retained all the former servants of the house, from Bourigeau the concierge down to the humblest scullery maid.

At times, some of his friends inquired: “Who is that queer little fellow?” with a touch of irony in their tone, but when the marquis carelessly answered: “A poor devil who has just come into possession of a property worth twenty millions!” they became serious, and requested the pleasure and honor of an introduction to this fortunate young man. “Come, my good friends!” said he, “my carriage is below.” They started off at once, and five minutes later they were ushered into the presence of Baron Trigault, who received M. He realized who Maumejan really was, and the audacious comedy he had been duped by. Who among you finds his income sufficient? And when you have come to your last louis, you will do what I have done, or something worse.

I await you there, for there you will surely, necessarily, inevitably come. /

Idiots!But what else could I conclude from the words I had heard drop from her own lips, strengthened and confirmed as they were by the incriminating language of her companion? He addressed himself to a little group of conductors who had already alighted, and were gossiping idly among themselves, having nothing else to do. I felt sure I was unobserved as I took my place in the crowd at the ticket-window, but when I had asked and paid for my place to Locarno I heard, to my disgust, some one else applying for a ticket to exactly the same place, and in a voice that was strangely familiar. "I shall perhaps like something else better," and she went carefully through the whole menu, so that the time slipped away, and we were within five minutes of departure. I had resolved he should not find us, but where else should we go? I had taken up my quarters in this hotel because it was so near the station, but I thought it prudent that Henriette should lodge somewhere else, the farther the better, and she went to a small place, the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, at the other end of the town. You will be careful, sergeant, to bring your prisoner along with you." "Merci bien! I do not want you or any one else to teach me my duty," replied the gendarme, very stiffly. Why else had she returned to Culoz by the early train directly she thought she had eluded Tiler? But I recommend you to take your quarrels elsewhere, and not to waste my time." "This is quite unheard of," cried my lord, now thoroughly aroused. He thinks he knows better than any one else; believes the lady has harked back, and is following her to Amberieu, Maçon, Paris, England perhaps.

Of course you must have your own way, and every one else must give in to you," she cried with aggravating emphasis, giving me no credit for trying to choose the wisest course. All sorts of suggestions probably presented themselves to him, but none would satisfy him; for why, he would reason, were we travelling to Marseilles or anywhere else without it? /

Confide in me, as a son should in his father.THE LEROUGE CASE By Emile Gaboriau CHAPTER I. On Thursday, the 6th of March, 1862, two days after Shrove Tuesday, five women belonging to the village of La Jonchere presented themselves at the police station at Bougival.

They stated that for two days past no one had seen the Widow Lerouge, one of their neighbours, who lived by herself in an isolated cottage. They had several times knocked at the door, but all in vain. The window-shutters as well as the door were closed; and it was impossible to obtain even a glimpse of the interior. This silence, this sudden disappearance alarmed them.

Apprehensive of a crime, or at least of an accident, they requested the interference of the police to satisfy their doubts by forcing the door and entering the house.

Bougival is a pleasant riverside village, peopled on Sundays by crowds of boating parties. Trifling offences are frequently heard of in its neighbourhood, but crimes are rare. The commissary of police at first refused to listen to the women, but their importunities so fatigued him that he at length acceded to their request. He sent for the corporal of gendarmes, with two of his men, called into requisition the services of a locksmith, and, thus accompanied, followed the neighbours of the Widow Lerouge. La Jonchere owes some celebrity to the inventor of the sliding railway, who for some years past has, with more enterprise than profit, made public trials of his system in the immediate neighbourhood. It is a hamlet of no importance, resting upon the slope of the hill which overlooks the Seine between La Malmaison and Bougival. It is about twenty minutes’ walk from the main road, which, passing by Rueil and Port-Marly, goes from Paris to St. Germain, and is reached by a steep and rugged lane, quite unknown to the government engineers. The party, led by the gendarmes, followed the main road which here bordered the river until it reached this lane, into which it turned, and stumbled over the rugged inequalities of the ground for about a hundred yards, when it arrived in front of a cottage of extremely modest yet respectable appearance. This cottage had probably been built by some little Parisian shopkeeper in love with the beauties of nature; for all the trees had been carefully cut down.

It consisted merely of two apartments on the ground floor with a loft above. Around it extended a much-neglected garden, badly protected against midnight prowlers, by a very dilapidated stone wall about three feet high, and broken and crumbling in many places.

A light wooden gate, clumsily held in its place by pieces of wire, gave access to the garden. “It is here,” said the women. The commissary stopped. During his short walk, the number of his followers had been rapidly increasing, and now included all the inquisitive and idle persons of the neighbourhood. He found himself surrounded by about forty individuals burning with curiosity.

“No one must enter the garden,” said he; and, to ensure obedience, he placed the two gendarmes on sentry before the entrance, and advanced towards the house, accompanied by the corporal and the locksmith. He knocked several times loudly with his leaded cane, first at the door, and then successively at all the window shutters. After each blow, he placed his ear against the wood and listened. Hearing nothing, he turned to the locksmith. “Open!” said he. The workman unstrapped his satchel, and produced his implements. He had already introduced a skeleton key into the lock, when a loud exclamation was heard from the crowd outside the gate. “Here is the key!” A boy about twelve years old playing with one of his companions, had seen an enormous key in a ditch by the roadside; he had picked it up and carried it to the cottage in triumph. “Give it to me youngster,” said the corporal. “We shall see.” The key was tried, and it proved to be the key of the house.

The commissary and the locksmith exchanged glances full of sinister misgivings. “This looks bad,” muttered the corporal. They entered the house, while the crowd, restrained with difficulty by the gendarmes, stamped with impatience, or leant over the garden wall, stretching their necks eagerly, to see or hear something of what was passing within the cottage. Those who anticipated the discovery of a crime, were unhappily not deceived. The commissary was convinced of this as soon as he crossed the threshold. Everything in the first room pointed with a sad eloquence to the recent presence of a malefactor. The furniture was knocked about, and a chest of drawers and two large trunks had been forced and broken open. In the inner room, which served as a sleeping apartment, the disorder was even greater.

It seemed as though some furious hand had taken a fiendish pleasure in upsetting everything. Near the fireplace, her face buried in the ashes, lay the dead body of Widow Lerouge. All one side of the face and the hair were burnt; it seemed a miracle that the fire had not caught her clothing. “Wretches!” exclaimed the corporal. “Could they not have robbed, without assassinating the poor woman?” “But where has she been wounded?” inquired the commissary, “I do not see any blood.” “Look! here between the shoulders,” replied the corporal; “two fierce blows, by my faith.

I’ll wager my stripes she had no time to cry out.” He stooped over the corpse and touched it. “She is quite cold,” he continued, “and it seems to me that she is no longer very stiff. It is at least thirty-six hours since she received her death-blow.” The commissary began writing, on the corner of a table, a short official report. “We are not here to talk, but to discover the guilty,” said he to the corporal. “Let information be at once conveyed to the justice of the peace, and the mayor, and send this letter without delay to the Palais de Justice. In a couple of hours, an investigating magistrate can be here. In the meanwhile, I will proceed to make a preliminary inquiry.” “Shall I carry the letter?” asked the corporal of gendarmes.

“No, send one of your men; you will be useful to me here in keeping these people in order, and in finding any witnesses I may want. We must leave everything here as it is.

I will install myself in the other room.” A gendarme departed at a run towards the station at Rueil; and the commissary commenced his investigations in regular form, as prescribed by law. “Who was Widow Lerouge?

What did she do?

Upon what means, and how did she live? What were her habits, her morals, and what sort of company did she keep? Was she known to have enemies?

Was she a miser? Did she pass for being rich?” The commissary knew the importance of ascertaining all this: but although the witnesses were numerous enough, they possessed but little information. The depositions of the neighbours, successively interrogated, were empty, incoherent, and incomplete. No one knew anything of the victim, who was a stranger in the country. Many presented themselves as witnesses moreover, who came forward less to afford information than to gratify their curiosity.

A gardener’s wife, who had been friendly with the deceased, and a milk-woman with whom she dealt, were alone able to give a few insignificant though precise details. In a word, after three hours of laborious investigation, after having undergone the infliction of all the gossip of the country, after receiving evidence the most contradictory, and listened to commentaries the most ridiculous, the following is what appeared the most reliable to the commissary. Twelve years before, at the beginning of 1850, the woman Lerouge had made her appearance at Bougival with a large wagon piled with furniture, linen, and her personal effects. She had alighted at an inn, declaring her intention of settling in the neighbourhood, and had immediately gone in quest of a house. Finding this one unoccupied, and thinking it would suit her, she had taken it without trying to beat down the terms, at a rental of three hundred and twenty francs payable half yearly and in advance, but had refused to sign a lease. The house taken, she occupied it the same day, and expended about a hundred francs on repairs. She was a woman about fifty-four or fifty-five years of age, well preserved, active, and in the enjoyment of excellent health.

No one knew her reasons for taking up her abode in a country where she was an absolute stranger.

She was supposed to have come from Normandy, having been frequently seen in the early morning to wear a white cotton cap. This night-cap did not prevent her dressing very smartly during the day; indeed, she ordinarily wore very handsome dresses, very showy ribbons in her caps, and covered herself with jewels like a saint in a chapel. Without doubt she had lived on the coast, for ships and the sea recurred incessantly in her conversation. She did not like speaking of her husband who had, she said, perished in a shipwreck. But she had never given the slightest detail.

On one particular occasion she had remarked, in presence of the milk-woman and three other persons, “No woman was ever more miserable than I during my married life.” And at another she had said, “All new, all fine!

A new broom sweeps clean. My defunct husband only loved me for a year!” Widow Lerouge passed for rich, or at the least for being very well off and she was not a miser. She had lent a woman at La Malmaison sixty francs with which to pay her rent, and would not let her return them. At another time she had advanced two hundred francs to a fisherman of Port-Marly. She was fond of good living, spent a good deal on her food, and bought wine by the half cask. She took pleasure in treating her acquaintances, and her dinners were excellent.

If complimented on her easy circumstances, she made no very strong denial. She had frequently been heard to say, “I have nothing in the funds, but I have everything I want. If I wished for more, I could have it.” Beyond this, the slightest allusion to her past life, her country, or her family had never escaped her. She was very talkative, but all she would say would be to the detriment of her neighbours.

She was supposed, however, to have seen the world, and to know a great deal.

She was very distrustful and barricaded herself in her cottage as in a fortress. She never went out in the evening, and it was well known that she got tipsy regularly at her dinner and went to bed very soon afterwards. Rarely had strangers been seen to visit her; four or five times a lady accompanied by a young man had called, and upon one occasion two gentlemen, one young, the other old and decorated, had come in a magnificent carriage.

In conclusion, the deceased was held in but little esteem by her neighbours. Her remarks were often most offensive and odious in the mouth of a woman of her age. She had been heard to give a young girl the most detestable counsels. A pork butcher, belonging to Bougival, embarrassed in his business, and tempted by her supposed wealth, had at one time paid her his addresses. She, however, repelled his advances, declaring that to be married once was enough for her. On several occasions men had been seen in her house; first of all, a young one, who had the appearance of a clerk of the railway company; then another, a tall, elderly man, very sunburnt, who was dressed in a blouse, and looked very villainous. Whilst questioning the witnesses, the commissary wrote down their depositions in a more condensed form, and he had got so far, when the investigating magistrate arrived, attended by the chief of the detective police, and one of his subordinates. Daburon was a man thirty-eight years of age, and of prepossessing appearance; sympathetic notwithstanding his coldness; wearing upon his countenance a sweet, and rather sad expression.

This settled melancholy had remained with him ever since his recovery, two years before, from a dreadful malady, which had well-nigh proved fatal. Investigating magistrate since 1859, he had rapidly acquired the most brilliant reputation. Laborious, patient, and acute, he knew with singular skill how to disentangle the skein of the most complicated affair, and from the midst of a thousand threads lay hold to the right one. None better than he, armed with an implacable logic, could solve those terrible problems in which X--in algebra, the unknown quantity--represents the criminal. Clever in deducing the unknown from the known, he excelled in collecting facts, and in uniting in a bundle of overwhelming proofs circumstances the most trifling, and in appearance the most insignificant. Although possessed of qualifications for his office so numerous and valuable, he was tremblingly distrustful of his own abilities and exercised his terrible functions with diffidence and hesitation. He wanted audacity to risk those sudden surprises so often resorted to by his colleagues in the pursuit of truth. Thus it was repugnant to his feelings to deceive even an accused person, or to lay snares for him; in fact the mere idea of the possibility of a judicial error terrified him. They said of him in the courts, “He is a trembler.” What he sought was not conviction, nor the most probable presumptions, but the most absolute certainty.

No rest for him until the day when the accused was forced to bow before the evidence; so much so that he had been jestingly reproached with seeking not to discover criminals but innocents.

The chief of detective police was none other than the celebrated Gevrol.

He is really an able man, but wanting in perseverance, and liable to be blinded by an incredible obstinacy. If he loses a clue, he cannot bring himself to acknowledge it, still less to retrace his steps. His audacity and coolness, however, render it impossible to disconcert him; and being possessed of immense personal strength, hidden under a most meagre appearance, he has never hesitated to confront the most daring of malefactors. But his specialty, his triumph, his glory, is a memory of faces, so prodigious as to exceed belief. Let him see a face for five minutes, and it is enough. Its possessor is catalogued, and will be recognised at any time. The impossibilities of place, the unlikelihood of circumstances, the most incredible disguises will not lead him astray.

The reason for this, so he pretends, is because he only looks at a man’s eyes, without noticing any other features. This faculty was severely tested some months back at Poissy, by the following experiment. Three prisoners were draped in coverings so as to completely disguise their height. Over their faces were thick veils, allowing nothing of the features to be seen except the eyes, for which holes had been made; and in this state they were shown to Gevrol. Without the slightest hesitation he recognised the prisoners and named them.

Had chance alone assisted him? The subordinate Gevrol had brought with him, was an old offender, reconciled to the law. A smart fellow in his profession, crafty as a fox, and jealous of his chief, whose abilities he held in light estimation. His name was Lecoq. The commissary, by this time heartily tired of his responsibilities, welcomed the investigating magistrate and his agents as liberators. He rapidly related the facts collected and read his official report. “You have proceeded very well,” observed the investigating magistrate.

“All is stated clearly; yet there is one fact you have omitted to ascertain.” “What is that, sir?” inquired the commissary. “On what day was Widow Lerouge last seen, and at what hour?” “I was coming to that presently.

She was last seen and spoken to on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, at twenty minutes past five. She was then returning from Bougival with a basketful of purchases.” “You are sure of the hour, sir?” inquired Gevrol. “Perfectly, and for this reason; the two witnesses who furnished me with this fact, a woman named Tellier and a cooper who lives hard by, alighted from the omnibus which leaves Marly every hour, when they perceived the widow in the cross-road, and hastened to overtake her. They conversed with her and only left her when they reached the door of her own house.” “And what had she in her basket?” asked the investigating magistrate. “The witnesses cannot say.

They only know that she carried two sealed bottles of wine, and another of brandy.

She complained to them of headache, and said, ‘Though it is customary to enjoy oneself on Shrove Tuesday, I am going to bed.’” “So, so!” exclaimed the chief of detective police. “I know where to search!” “You think so?” inquired M. Daburon.

“Why, it is clear enough. We must find the tall sunburnt man, the gallant in the blouse. The brandy and the wine were intended for his entertainment. He came, sure enough, the amiable gallant!” “Oh!” cried the corporal of gendarmes, evidently scandalised, “she was very old, and terribly ugly!” Gevrol surveyed the honest fellow with an expression of contemptuous pity. “Know, corporal,” said he, “that a woman who has money is always young and pretty, if she desires to be thought so!” “Perhaps there is something in that,” remarked the magistrate; “but it is not what strikes me most.

I am more impressed by the remark of this unfortunate woman. ‘If I wished for more, I could have it.’” “That also attracted my attention,” acquiesced the commissary. He stuck to his own opinion, and began to inspect minutely every corner of the room.

Suddenly he turned towards the commissary. “Now that I think of it,” cried he, “was it not on Tuesday that the weather changed? It had been freezing for a fortnight past, and on that evening it rained. At what time did the rain commence here?” “At half-past nine,” answered the corporal. “I went out from supper to make my circuit of the dancing halls, when I was overtaken opposite the Rue des Pecheurs by a heavy shower. In less than ten minutes there was half an inch of water in the road.” “Very well,” said Gevrol. “Then if the man came after half-past nine his shoes must have been very muddy. If they were dry, he arrived sooner.

This must have been noticed, for the floor is a polished one. Were there any imprints of footsteps, M. Commissary?” “I must confess we never thought of looking for them.” “Ah!” exclaimed the chief detective, in a tone of irritation, “that is vexatious!” “Wait,” added the commissary; “there is yet time to see if there are any, not in this room, but in the other. We have disturbed absolutely nothing there.

My footsteps and the corporal’s will be easily distinguished. Let us see.” As the commissary opened the door of the second chamber, Gevrol stopped him. “I ask permission, sir,” said he to the investigating magistrate, “to examine the apartment before any one else is permitted to enter. It is very important for me.” “Certainly,” approved M. Daburon. Gevrol passed in first, the others remaining on the threshold. They all took in at a glance the scene of the crime. Everything, as the commissary had stated, seemed to have been overturned by some furious madman. In the middle of the room was a table covered with a fine linen cloth, white as snow. Upon this was placed a magnificent wineglass of the rarest manufacture, a very handsome knife, and a plate of the finest porcelain.

There was an opened bottle of wine, hardly touched, and another of brandy, from which about five or six small glassfuls had been taken. On the right, against the wall, stood two handsome walnut-wood wardrobes, with ornamental locks; they were placed one on each side of the window; both were empty, and the contents scattered about on all sides. There were clothing, linen, and other effects unfolded, tossed about, and crumpled.

At the end of the room, near the fireplace, a large cupboard used for keeping the crockery was wide open.

On the other side of the fireplace, an old secretary with a marble top had been forced, broken, smashed into bits, and rummaged, no doubt, to its inmost recesses.

The desk, wrenched away, hung by a single hinge. The drawers had been pulled out and thrown upon the floor. To the left of the room stood the bed, which had been completely disarranged and upset. Even the straw of the mattress had been pulled out and examined.

“Not the slightest imprint,” murmured Gevrol disappointed. “He must have arrived before half-past nine.

You can all come in now.” He walked right up to the corpse of the widow, near which he knelt. “It can not be said,” grumbled he, “that the work is not properly done! the assassin is no apprentice!” Then looking right and left, he continued: “Oh!

the poor devil was busy with her cooking when he struck her; see her pan of ham and eggs upon the hearth. The brute hadn’t patience enough to wait for the dinner. The gentleman was in a hurry, he struck the blow fasting; therefore he can’t invoke the gayety of dessert in his defense!” “It is evident,” said the commissary to the investigating magistrate, “that robbery was the motive of the crime.” “It is probable,” answered Gevrol in a sly way; “and that accounts for the absence of the silver spoons from the table.” “Look here! Some pieces of gold in this drawer!” exclaimed Lecoq, who had been searching on his own account, “just three hundred and twenty francs!” “Well, I never!” cried Gevrol, a little disconcerted. But he soon recovered from his embarrassment, and added: “He must have forgotten them; that often happens. I have known an assassin, who, after accomplishing the murder, became so utterly bewildered as to depart without remembering to take the plunder, for which he had committed the crime. Our man became excited perhaps, or was interrupted. Some one may have knocked at the door. What makes me more willing to think so is, that the scamp did not leave the candle burning.

You see he took the trouble to put it out.” “Pooh!” said Lecoq. “That proves nothing. He is probably an economical and careful man.” The investigations of the two agents were continued all over the house; but their most minute researches resulted in discovering absolutely nothing; not one piece of evidence to convict; not the faintest indication which might serve as a point of departure. Even the dead woman’s papers, if she possessed any, had disappeared. Not a letter, not a scrap of paper even, to be met with. From time to time Gevrol stopped to swear or grumble. It is a tiptop piece of work! The scoundrel is a cool hand!” “Well, what do you make of it?” at length demanded the investigating magistrate. “It is a drawn game monsieur,” replied Gevrol.

“We are baffled for the present. The miscreant has taken his measures with great precaution; but I will catch him. Before night, I shall have a dozen men in pursuit. Besides, he is sure to fall into our hands.

He has carried off the plate and the jewels. He is lost!” “Despite all that,” said M. Daburon, “we are no further advanced than we were this morning!” “Well!” growled Gevrol.

“A man can only do what he can!” “Ah!” murmured Lecoq in a low tone, perfectly audible, however, “why is not old Tirauclair here?” “What could he do more than we have done?” retorted Gevrol, directing a furious glance at his subordinate. Lecoq bowed his head and was silent, inwardly delighted at having wounded his chief. “Who is old Tirauclair?” asked M. Daburon. “It seems to me that I have heard the name, but I can’t remember where.” “He is an extraordinary man!” exclaimed Lecoq. “He was formerly a clerk at the Mont de Piete,” added Gevrol; “but he is now a rich old fellow, whose real name is Tabaret. He goes in for playing the detective by way of amusement.” “And to augment his revenues,” insinuated the commissary. “No danger of that. He works so much for the glory of success that he often spends money from his own pocket. It’s his amusement, you see!

At the Prefecture we have nicknamed him ‘Tirauclair,’ from a phrase he is constantly in the habit of repeating. Ah! he is sharp, the old weasel! It was he who in the case of that banker’s wife, you remember, guessed that the lady had robbed herself, and who proved it.” “True!” retorted Gevrol; “and it was also he who almost had poor Dereme guillotined for killing his wife, a thorough bad woman; and all the while the poor man was innocent.” “We are wasting our time, gentlemen,” interrupted M. Daburon. Then, addressing himself to Lecoq, he added:--“Go and find M. Tabaret. I have heard a great deal of him, and shall be glad to see him at work here.” Lecoq started off at a run, Gevrol was seriously humiliated. “You have of course, sir, the right to demand the services of whom you please,” commenced he, “but yet--” “Do not,” interrupted M. Daburon, “let us lose our tempers, M.

I have known you for a long time, and I know your worth; but to-day we happen to differ in opinion. You hold absolutely to your sunburnt man in the blouse, and I, on my side, am convinced that you are not on the right track!” “I think I am right,” replied the detective, “and I hope to prove it. I shall find the scoundrel, be he whom he may!” “I ask nothing better,” said M. Daburon. “Only, permit me, sir, to give--what shall I say without failing in respect?--a piece of advice?” “Speak!” “I would advise you, sir, to distrust old Tabaret.” “Really? And for what reason?” “The old fellow allows himself to be carried away too much by appearances. He has become an amateur detective for the sake of popularity, just like an author; and, as he is vainer than a peacock, he is apt to lose his temper and be very obstinate.

As soon as he finds himself in the presence of a crime, like this one, for example, he pretends he can explain everything on the instant. And he manages to invent a story that will correspond exactly with the situation. He professes, with the help of one single fact, to be able to reconstruct all the details of an assassination, as a savant pictures an antediluvian animal from a single bone. Sometimes he divines correctly; very often, though, he makes a mistake. Take, for instance, the case of the tailor, the unfortunate Dereme, without me--” “I thank you for your advice,” interrupted M. Daburon, “and will profit by it. Now commissary,” he continued, “it is most important to ascertain from what part of the country Widow Lerouge came.” The procession of witnesses under the charge of the corporal of gendarmes were again interrogated by the investigating magistrate. But nothing new was elicited. It was evident that Widow Lerouge had been a singularly discreet woman; for, although very talkative, nothing in any way connected with her antecedents remained in the memory of the gossips of La Jonchere. All the people interrogated, however, obstinately tried to impart to the magistrate their own convictions and personal conjectures.

Every voice denounced the tall sunburnt man with the gray blouse. Everyone remembered his ferocious aspect, which had frightened the whole neighbourhood.

He had one evening menaced a woman, and another day beaten a child. They could point out neither the child nor the woman; but no matter: these brutal acts were notoriously public. Daburon began to despair of gaining the least enlightenment, when some one brought the wife of a grocer of Bougival, at whose shop the victim used to deal, and a child thirteen years old, who knew, it was said, something positive. The grocer’s wife first made her appearance.

She had heard Widow Lerouge speak of having a son still living. “Are you quite sure of that?” asked the investigating magistrate. “As of my existence,” answered the woman, “for, on that evening, yes, it was evening, she was, saving your presence, a little tipsy. She remained in my shop more than an hour.” “And what did she say?” “I think I see her now,” continued the shopkeeper: “she was leaning against the counter near the scales, jesting with a fisherman of Marly, old Husson, who can tell you the same; and she called him a fresh water sailor. ‘My husband,’ said she, ‘was a real sailor, and the proof is, he would sometimes remain years on a voyage, and always used to bring me back cocoanuts. I have a son who is also a sailor, like his dead father, in the imperial navy.’” “Did she mention her son’s name?” “Not that time, but another evening, when she was, if I may say so, very drunk. She told us that her son’s name was Jacques, and that she had not seen him for a very long time.” “Did she speak ill of her husband?” “Never! She only said he was jealous and brutal, though a good man at bottom, and that he led her a miserable life. He was weak-headed, and forged ideas out of nothing at all.

In fact he was too honest to be wise.” “Did her son ever come to see her while she lived here?” “She never told me of it.” “Did she spend much money with you?” “That depends. About sixty francs a month; sometimes more, for she always buys the best brandy. She paid cash for all she bought.” The woman knowing no more was dismissed.

The child, who was now brought forward, belonged to parents in easy circumstances. Tall and strong for his age, he had bright intelligent eyes, and features expressive of watchfulness and cunning. The presence of the magistrate did not seem to intimidate him in the least. “Let us hear, my boy,” said M.

Daburon, “what you know.” “Well, sir, a few days ago, on Sunday last, I saw a man at Madame Lerouge’s garden-gate.” “At what time of the day?” “Early in the morning. I was going to church, to serve in the second mass.” “Well,” continued the magistrate, “and this man was tall and sunburnt, and dressed in a blouse?” “No, sir, on the contrary, he was short, very fat, and old.” “You are sure you are not mistaken?” “Quite sure,” replied the urchin, “I saw him close face to face, for I spoke to him.” “Tell me, then, what occurred?” “Well, sir, I was passing when I saw this fat man at the gate. He appeared very much vexed, oh! but awfully vexed! His face was red, or rather purple, as far as the middle of his head, which I could see very well, for it was bare, and had very little hair on it.” “And did he speak to you first?” “Yes, sir, he saw me, and called out, ‘Halloa! youngster!’ as I came up to him, and he asked me if I had got a good pair of legs?

I answered yes. Then he took me by the ear, but without hurting me, and said, ‘Since that is so, if you will run an errand for me, I will give you ten sous. Run as far as the Seine; and when you reach the quay, you will notice a large boat moored. Go on board, and ask to see Captain Gervais: he is sure to be there. Tell him that he can prepare to leave, that I am ready.’ Then he put ten sous in my hand; and off I went.” “If all the witnesses were like this bright little fellow,” murmured the commissary, “what a pleasure it would be!” “Now,” said the magistrate, “tell us how you executed your commission?” “I went to the boat, sir, found the man, and I told him; and that’s all.” Gevrol, who had listened with the most lively attention, leaned over towards the ear of M. Daburon, and said in a low voice: “Will you permit me, sir, to ask the brat a few questions?” “Certainly, M. Gevrol.” “Come now, my little friend,” said Gevrol, “if you saw this man again, would you know him?” “Oh, yes!” “Then there was something remarkable about him?” “Yes, I should think so!

his face was the colour of a brick!” “And is that all?” “Well, yes, sir.” “But you must remember how he was dressed; had he a blouse on?” “No; he wore a jacket.

Under the arms were very large pockets, and from out of one of them peeped a blue spotted handkerchief.” “What kind of trousers had he on?” “I do not remember.” “And his waistcoat?” “Let me see,” answered the child. “I don’t think he wore a waistcoat. And yet,--but no, I remember he did not wear one; he had a long cravat, fastened near his neck by a large ring.” “Ah!” said Gevrol, with an air of satisfaction, “you are a bright boy; and I wager that if you try hard to remember you will find a few more details to give us.” The boy hung down his head, and remained silent. From the knitting of his young brows, it was plain he was making a violent effort of memory. “Yes,” cried he suddenly, “I remember another thing.” “What?” “The man wore very large rings in his ears.” “Bravo!” cried Gevrol, “here is a complete description. I shall find the fellow now. Daburon can prepare a warrant for his appearance whenever he likes.” “I believe, indeed, the testimony of this child is of the highest importance,” said M.

Daburon; and turning to the boy added, “Can you tell us, my little friend, with what this boat was loaded?” “No, sir, I couldn’t see because it was decked.” “Which way was she going, up the Seine or down?” “Neither, sir, she was moored.” “We know that,” said Gevrol. “The magistrate asks you which way the prow of the boat was turned,--towards Paris or towards Marly?” “The two ends of the boat seemed alike to me.” The chief of the detective of police made a gesture of disappointment.

“At least,” said he, addressing the child again, “you noticed the name of the boat?

you can read I suppose. One should always know the names of the boats one goes aboard of.” “No, I didn’t see any name,” said the little boy. “If this boat was moored at the quay,” remarked M. Daburon, “it was probably noticed by the inhabitants of Bougival.” “That is true, sir,” approved the commissary. “Yes,” said Gevrol, “and the sailors must have come ashore. I shall find out all about it at the wine shop. But what sort of a man was Gervais, the master, my little friend?” “Like all the sailors hereabouts, sir.” The child was preparing to depart when M. Daburon recalled him. “Before you go, my boy, tell me, have you spoken to any one of this meeting before to-day?” “Yes, sir, I told all to mamma when I got back from church, and gave her the ten sous.” “And you have told us the whole truth?” continued the magistrate. “You know that it is a very grave matter to attempt to impose on justice.

She always finds it out, and it is my duty to warn you that she inflicts the most terrible punishment upon liars.” The little fellow blushed as red as a cherry, and held down his head. Daburon, “that you have concealed something from us. Don’t you know that the police know everything?” “Pardon! sir,” cried the boy, bursting into tears,--“pardon. Don’t punish me, and I will never do so again.” “Tell us, then, how you have deceived us?” “Well, sir, it was not ten sous that the man gave me, it was twenty sous. I only gave half to mamma; and I kept the rest to buy marbles with.” “My little friend,” said the investigating magistrate, “for this time I forgive you. But let it be a lesson for the remainder of your life.

You may go now, and remember it is useless to try and hide the truth; it always comes to light!” CHAPTER II. The two last depositions awakened in M. Daburon’s mind some slight gleams of hope.

In the midst of darkness, the humblest rush-light acquires brilliancy. “I will go at once to Bougival, sir, if you approve of this step,” suggested Gevrol. “Perhaps you would do well to wait a little,” answered M. Daburon. “This man was seen on Sunday morning; we will inquire into Widow Lerouge’s movements on that day.” Three neighbours were called. They all declared that the widow had kept her bed all Sunday. To one woman who, hearing she was unwell, had visited her, she said, “Ah!

I had last night a terrible accident.” Nobody at the time attached any significance to these words. “The man with the rings in his ears becomes more and important,” said the magistrate, when the woman had retired. “To find him again is indispensable: you must see to this, M. Gevrol.” “Before eight days, I shall have him,” replied the chief of detective police, “if I have to search every boat on the Seine, from its source to the ocean. I know the name of the captain, Gervais. The navigation office will tell me something.” He was interrupted by Lecoq, who rushed into the house breathless. “Here is old Tabaret,” he said. “I met him just as he was going out. What a man! He wouldn’t wait for the train, but gave I don’t know how much to a cabman; and we drove here in fifty minutes!” Almost immediately, a man appeared at the door, whose aspect it must be admitted was not at all what one would have expected of a person who had joined the police for honour alone.

He was certainly sixty years old and did not look a bit younger. Short, thin, and rather bent, he leant on the carved ivory handle of a stout cane. His round face wore that expression of perpetual astonishment, mingled with uneasiness, which has made the fortunes of two comic actors of the Palais-Royal theatre.

Scrupulously shaved, he presented a very short chin, large and good natured lips, and a nose disagreeably elevated, like the broad end of one of Sax’s horns. His eyes of a dull gray, were small and red at the lids, and absolutely void of expression; yet they fatigued the observer by their insupportable restlessness. A few straight hairs shaded his forehead, which receded like that of a greyhound, and through their scantiness barely concealed his long ugly ears. He was very comfortably dressed, clean as a new franc piece, displaying linen of dazzling whiteness, and wearing silk gloves and leather gaiters. A long and massive gold chain, very vulgar-looking, was twisted thrice round his neck, and fell in cascades into the pocket of his waistcoat. Tabaret, surnamed Tirauclair, stood at the threshold, and bowed almost to the ground, bending his old back into an arch, and in the humblest of voices asked, “The investigating magistrate has deigned to send for me?” “Yes!” replied M. Daburon, adding under his breath; “and if you are a man of any ability, there is at least nothing to indicate it in your appearance.” “I am here,” continued the old fellow, “completely at the service of justice.” “I wish to know,” said M. Daburon, “whether you can discover some clue that will put us upon the track of the assassin. I will explain the--” “Oh, I know enough of it!” interrupted old Tabaret.

“Lecoq has told me the principal facts, just as much as I desire to know.” “Nevertheless--” commenced the commissary of police.

“If you will permit me, I prefer to proceed without receiving any details, in order to be more fully master of my own impressions. When one knows another’s opinion it can’t help influencing one’s judgment. I will, if you please, at once commence my researches, with Lecoq’s assistance.” As the old fellow spoke, his little gray eyes dilated, and became brilliant as carbuncles. His face reflected an internal satisfaction; even his wrinkles seemed to laugh.

His figure became erect, and his step was almost elastic, as he darted into the inner chamber. He remained there about half an hour; then came out running, then re-entered and then again came out; once more he disappeared and reappeared again almost immediately. The magistrate could not help comparing him to a pointer on the scent, his turned-up nose even moved about as if to discover some subtle odour left by the assassin.

All the while he talked loudly and with much gesticulation, apostrophising himself, scolding himself, uttering little cries of triumph or self-encouragement. He did not allow Lecoq to have a moment’s rest.

He wanted this or that or the other thing. He demanded paper and a pencil. Then he wanted a spade; and finally he cried out for plaster of Paris, some water and a bottle of oil. When more than an hour had elapsed, the investigating magistrate began to grow impatient, and asked what had become of the amateur detective. “He is on the road,” replied the corporal, “lying flat in the mud, and mixing some plaster in a plate. He says he has nearly finished, and that he is coming back presently.” He did in fact return almost instantly, joyous, triumphant, looking at least twenty years younger. Lecoq followed him, carrying with the utmost precaution a large basket.

“I have solved the riddle!” said Tabaret to the magistrate.

“It is all clear now, and as plain as noon-day. Lecoq, my lad, put the basket on the table.” Gevrol at this moment returned from his expedition equally delighted. “I am on the track of the man with the earrings,” said he; “the boat went down the river. I have obtained an exact description of the master Gervais.” “What have you discovered, M. Tabaret!” asked the magistrate. The old fellow carefully emptied upon the table the contents of the basket,--a big lump of clay, several large sheets of paper, and three or four small lumps of plaster yet damp. Standing behind this table, he presented a grotesque resemblance to those mountebank conjurers who in the public squares juggle the money of the lookers-on. His clothes had greatly suffered; he was covered with mud up to the chin. “In the first place,” said he, at last, in a tone of affected modesty, “robbery has had nothing to do with the crime that occupies our attention.” “Oh! “I shall prove it,” continued old Tabaret, “by the evidence.

By-and-by I shall offer my humble opinion as to the real motive.

In the second place, the assassin arrived here before half-past nine; that is to say, before the rain fell. No more than M. Gevrol have I been able to discover traces of muddy footsteps; but under the table, on the spot where his feet rested, I find dust.

We are thus assured of the hour. The widow did not in the least expect her visitor. She had commenced undressing, and was winding up her cuckoo clock when he knocked.” “These are absolute details!” cried the commissary. “But easily established,” replied the amateur. “You see this cuckoo clock above the secretary; it is one of those which run fourteen or fifteen hours at most, for I have examined it. Now it is more than probable, it is certain, that the widow wound it up every evening before going to bed. How, then, is it that the clock has stopped at five? Because she must have touched it. As she was drawing the chain, the assassin knocked.

In proof, I show this chair standing under the clock, and on the seat a very plain foot-mark. Now look at the dress of the victim; the body of it is off. In order to open the door more quickly, she did not wait to put it on again, but hastily threw this old shawl over her shoulders.” “By Jove!” exclaimed the corporal, evidently struck. Her haste to open the door gives rise to this conjecture; what follows proves it. The assassin then gained admission without difficulty. He is a young man, a little above the middle height, elegantly dressed. He wore on that evening a high hat. He carried an umbrella, and smoked a trabucos cigar in a holder.” “Ridiculous!” cried Gevrol. “This is too much.” “Too much, perhaps,” retorted old Tabaret. “At all events, it is the truth.

If you are not minute in your investigations, I cannot help it; anyhow, I am, I search, and I find. Too much, say you? Well deign to glance at these lumps of damp plaster. They represent the heels of the boots worn by the assassin, of which I found a most perfect impression near the ditch, where the key was picked up. On these sheets of paper, I have marked in outline the imprint of the foot which I cannot take up, because it is on some sand. heel high, instep pronounced, sole small and narrow,--an elegant boot, belonging to a foot well cared for evidently. Look for this impression all along the path; and you will find it again twice. Then you will find it five times repeated in the garden where no one else had been; and these footprints prove, by the way, that the stranger knocked not at the door, but at the window-shutter, beneath which shone a gleam of light. At the entrance to the garden, the man leapt to avoid a flower bed!

the point of the foot, more deeply imprinted than usual, shows it. He leapt more than two yards with ease, proving that he is active, and therefore young.” Old Tabaret spoke in a low voice, clear and penetrating: and his eye glanced from one to the other of his auditors, watching the impression he was making. “Does the hat astonish you, M. “Just look at the circle traced in the dust on the marble top of the secretary. Is it because I have mentioned his height that you are surprised? Take the trouble to examine the tops of the wardrobes and you will see that the assassin passed his hands across them. Therefore he is taller than I am. Do not say that he got on a chair, for in that case, he would have seen and would not have been obliged to feel.

Are you astonished about the umbrella? This lump of earth shows an admirable impression not only of the end of the stick, but even of the little round piece of wood which is always placed at the end of the silk.

Perhaps you cannot get over the statement that he smoked a cigar? Here is the end of a trabucos that I found amongst the ashes. Has the end been bitten?

Has it been moistened with saliva? Then he who smoked it used a cigar-holder.” Lecoq was unable to conceal his enthusiastic admiration, and noiselessly rubbed his hands together. The commissary appeared stupefied, while M. Daburon was delighted. Gevrol’s face, on the contrary, was sensibly elongated. As for the corporal, he was overwhelmed. We have traced the young man into the house.

How he explained his presence at this hour, I do not know; this much is certain, he told the widow he had not dined. The worthy woman was delighted to hear it, and at once set to work to prepare a meal. This meal was not for herself; for in the cupboard I have found the remains of her own dinner. She had dined off fish; the autopsy will confirm the truth of this statement.

Besides you can see yourselves, there is but one glass on the table, and one knife. But who is this young man? Evidently the widow looked upon him as a man of superior rank to her own; for in the cupboard is a table-cloth still very clean. For her guest she brought out a clean linen one, her very best. It is for him this magnificent glass, a present, no doubt, and it is evident she did not often use this knife with the ivory handle.” “That is all true,” murmured M. Daburon, “very true.” “Now, then we have got the young man seated. He began by drinking a glass of wine, while the widow was putting her pan on the fire.

Then, his heart failing him, he asked for brandy, and swallowed about five small glassfuls. After an internal struggle of ten minutes (the time it must have taken to cook the ham and eggs as much as they are), the young man arose and approached the widow, who was squatting down and leaning forward over her cooking.

He stabbed her twice on the back; but she was not killed instantly.

She half arose seizing the assassin by the hands; while he drew back, lifting her suddenly, and then hurling her down in the position in which you see her. This short struggle is indicated by the posture of the body; for, squatting down and being struck in the back, it is naturally on her back that she ought to have fallen. The murderer used a sharp narrow weapon, which was, unless I am deceived, the end of a foil, sharpened, and with the button broken off. By wiping the weapon upon his victim’s skirt, the assassin leaves us this indication. He was not, however, hurt in the struggle. The victim must have clung with a death-grip to his hands; but, as he had not taken off his lavender kid gloves,--” “Gloves! Why this is romance,” exclaimed Gevrol.

“Have you examined the dead woman’s finger-nails, M. Well, do so, and then tell me whether I am mistaken. The woman, now dead, we come to the object of her assassination. What did this well-dressed young gentleman want? Valuables? a hundred times no! What he wanted, what he sought, and what he found, were papers, documents, letters, which he knew to be in the possession of the victim. To find them, he overturned everything, upset the cupboards, unfolded the linen, broke open the secretary, of which he could not find the key, and even emptied the mattress of the bed. At last he found these documents.

And then do you know what he did with them? Why, burned them, of course; not in the fire-place, but in the little stove in the front room. His end accomplished, what does he do next?

He flies, carrying with him all that he finds valuable, to baffle detection, by suggesting a robbery. He wrapped everything he found worth taking in the napkin which was to have served him at dinner, and blowing out the candle, he fled, locking the door on the outside, and throwing the key into a ditch. And that is all.” “M. Tabaret,” said the magistrate, “your investigation is admirable; and I am persuaded your inferences are correct.” “Ah!” cried Lecoq, “is he not colossal, my old Tirauclair?” “Pyramidal!” cried Gevrol ironically. “I fear, however, your well-dressed young man must have been just a little embarrassed in carrying a bundle covered with a snow white napkin, which could be so easily seen from a distance. “He did not carry it a hundred leagues,” responded old Tabaret. “You may well believe, that, to reach the railway station, he was not fool enough to take the omnibus.

No, he returned on foot by the shortest way, which borders the river. Now on reaching the Seine, unless he is more knowing than I take him to be, his first care was to throw this tell-tale bundle into the water.” “Do you believe so, M. Tirauclair?” asked Gevrol. “I don’t mind making a bet on it; and the best evidence of my belief is, that I have sent three men, under the surveillance of a gendarme, to drag the Seine at the nearest spot from here. If they succeed in finding the bundle, I have promised them a recompense.” “Out of your own pocket, old enthusiast?” “Yes, M. Daburon. He was interrupted by the entrance of a gendarme, who said: “Here is a soiled table-napkin, filled with plate, money, and jewels, which these men have found; they claim the hundred francs’ reward, promised them.” Old Tabaret took from his pocket-book a bank note, which he handed to the gendarme. “Now,” demanded he, crushing Gevrol with one disdainful glance, “what thinks the investigating magistrate after this?” “That, thanks to your remarkable penetration, we shall discover--” He did not finish.

The doctor summoned to make the post-mortem examination entered the room. That unpleasant task accomplished, it only confirmed the assertions and conjectures of old Tabaret. The doctor explained, as the old man had done, the position of the body. In his opinion also, there had been a struggle. He pointed out a bluish circle, hardly perceptible, round the neck of the victim, produced apparently by the powerful grasp of the murderer; finally he declared that Widow Lerouge had eaten about three hours before being struck. Nothing now remained except to collect the different objects which would be useful for the prosecution, and might at a later period confound the culprit. Old Tabaret examined with extreme care the dead woman’s finger-nails; and, using infinite precaution, he even extracted from behind them several small particles of kid. The largest of these pieces was not above the twenty-fifth part of an inch in length; but all the same their colour was easily distinguishable. He put aside also the part of the dress upon which the assassin had wiped his weapon.

These with the bundle recovered from the Seine, and the different casts taken by the old fellow, were all the traces the murderer had left behind him. It was not much; but this little was enormous in the eyes of M. Daburon; and he had strong hopes of discovering the culprit. The greatest obstacle to success in the unravelling of mysterious crimes is in mistaking the motive. If the researches take at the first step a false direction, they are diverted further and further from the truth, in proportion to the length they are followed. Thanks to old Tabaret, the magistrate felt confident that he was in the right path. Night had come on. Daburon had now nothing more to do at La Jonchere; but Gevrol, who still clung to his own opinion of the guilt of the man with the rings in his ears, declared he would remain at Bougival. He determined to employ the evening in visiting the different wine shops, and finding if possible new witnesses. At the moment of departure, after the commissary and the entire party had wished M.

Daburon good-night, the latter asked M. Tabaret to accompany him. “I was about to solicit that honour,” replied the old fellow. They set out together; and naturally the crime which had been discovered, and with which they were mutually preoccupied, formed the subject of their conversation.

“Shall we, or shall we not, ascertain the antecedents of this woman!” repeated old Tabaret. “All depends upon that now!” “We shall ascertain them, if the grocer’s wife has told the truth,” replied M. Daburon. “If the husband of Widow Lerouge was a sailor, and if her son Jacques is in the navy, the minister of marine can furnish information that will soon lead to their discovery. I will write to the minister this very night.” They reached the station at Rueil, and took their places in the train. They were fortunate enough to secure a 1st class carriage to themselves. But old Tabaret was no longer disposed for conversation. He reflected, he sought, he combined; and in his face might easily be read the working of his thoughts. Daburon watched him curiously and felt singularly attracted by this eccentric old man, whose very original taste had led him to devote his services to the secret police of the Rue de Jerusalem.

“M Tabaret,” he suddenly asked, “have you been long associated with the police?” “Nine years, M. Daburon, more than nine years; and permit me to confess I am a little surprised that you have never before heard of me.” “I certainly knew you by reputation,” answered M. Daburon; “but your name did not occur to me, and it was only in consequence of hearing you praised that I had the excellent idea of asking your assistance.

But what, I should like to know, is your reason for adopting this employment?” “Sorrow, sir, loneliness, weariness. Ah!

I have not always been happy!” “I have been told, though, that you are rich.” The old fellow heaved a deep sigh, which revealed the most cruel deceptions. “I am well off, sir,” he replied; “but I have not always been so. Until I was forty-five years old, my life was a series of absurd and useless privations. I had a father who wasted my youth, ruined my life, and made me the most pitiable of human creatures.” There are men who can never divest themselves of their professional habits. Daburon was at all times and seasons more or less an investigating magistrate. Tabaret,” he inquired, “your father the author of all your misfortunes?” “Alas, yes, sir! I have forgiven him at last; but I used to curse him heartily. In the first transports of my resentment, I heaped upon his memory all the insults that can be inspired by the most violent hatred, when I learnt,--But I will confide my history to you, M. Daburon.

When I was five and twenty years of age. I was earning two thousand francs a year, as a clerk at the Monte de Piete. One morning my father entered my lodging, and abruptly announced to me that he was ruined, and without food or shelter. He appeared in despair, and talked of killing himself. I loved my father. Naturally, I strove to reassure him; I boasted of my situation, and explained to him at some length, that, while I earned the means for living, he should want for nothing; and, to commence, I insisted that henceforth we should live together.

No sooner said than done, and during twenty years I was encumbered with the old--” “What! you repent of your admirable conduct, M. Tabaret?” “Do I repent of it! That is to say he deserved to be poisoned by the bread I gave him.” M.

Daburon was unable to repress a gesture of surprise, which did not escape the old fellow’s notice.

“Hear, before you condemn me,” he continued. “There was I at twenty-five, imposing upon myself the severest privations for the sake of my father,--no more friends, no more flirtations, nothing.

In the evenings, to augment our scanty revenues, I worked at copying law papers for a notary. I denied myself even the luxury of tobacco. Notwithstanding this, the old fellow complained without ceasing; he regretted his lost fortune; he must have pocket-money, with which to buy this, or that; my utmost exertions failed to satisfy him. Ah, heaven alone knows what I suffered!

I was not born to live alone and grow old, like a dog. I longed for the pleasures of a home and a family. My dream was to marry, to adore a good wife, by whom I might be loved a little, and to see innocent healthy little ones gambolling about my knees. But pshaw! when such thoughts entered my heart and forced a tear or two from my eyes, I rebelled against myself. I said: ‘My lad, when you earn but three thousand francs a year, and have an old and cherished father to support, it is your duty to stifle such desires, and remain a bachelor.’ And yet I met a young girl. It is thirty years now since that time; well! just look at me, I am sure I am blushing as red as a tomato. Her name was Hortense. Who can tell what has become of her?

She was beautiful and poor. Well, I was quite an old man when my father died, the wretch, the--” “M. Tabaret!” interrupted the magistrate, “for shame, M.

Tabaret!” “But I have already told you, I have forgiven him, sir. However, you will soon understand my anger. On the day of his death, looking in his secretary, I found a memorandum of an income of twenty thousand francs!” “How so! was he rich?” “Yes, very rich; for that was not all: he owned near Orleans a property leased for six thousand francs a year. He owned, besides, the house I now live in, where we lived together; and I, fool, sot, imbecile, stupid animal that I was, used to pay the rent every three months to the concierge!” “That was too much!” M. Daburon could not help saying. “Was it not, sir?

I was robbing myself of my own money! To crown his hypocrisy, he left a will wherein he declared, in the name of Holy Trinity, that he had no other aim in view, in thus acting, than my own advantage. He wished, so he wrote, to habituate me to habits of good order and economy, and keep me from the commission of follies. And I was forty-five years old, and for twenty years I had been reproaching myself if ever I spent a single sou uselessly. In short, he had speculated on my good heart, he had. Bah! on my word, it is enough to disgust the human race with filial piety!” M. Tabaret’s anger, albeit very real and justified, was so highly ludicrous, that M. Daburon had much difficulty to restrain his laughter, in spite of the real sadness of the recital.

“At least,” said he, “this fortune must have given you pleasure.” “Not at all, sir, it came too late. Of what avail to have the bread when one has no longer the teeth?

The marriageable age had passed. I resigned my situation, however, to make way for some one poorer than myself. At the end of a month I was sick and tired of life; and, to replace the affections that had been denied me, I resolved to give myself a passion, a hobby, a mania. I became a collector of books. You think, sir, perhaps that to take an interest in books a man must have studied, must be learned?” “I know, dear M. Tabaret, that he must have money.

I am acquainted with an illustrious bibliomaniac who may be able to read, but who is most certainly unable to sign his own name.” “This is very likely. I, too, can read; and I read all the books I bought. I collected all I could find which related, no matter how little, to the police. Memoirs, reports, pamphlets, speeches, letters, novels,--all suited me; and I devoured them. So much so, that little by little I became attracted towards the mysterious power which, from the obscurity of the Rue de Jerusalem, watches over and protects society, which penetrates everywhere, lifts the most impervious veils, sees through every plot, divines what is kept hidden, knows exactly the value of a man, the price of a conscience, and which accumulates in its portfolios the most terrible, as well as the most shameful secrets! In reading the memoirs of celebrated detectives, more attractive to me than the fables of our best authors I became inspired by an enthusiastic admiration for those men, so keen scented, so subtle, flexible as steel, artful and penetrating, fertile in expedients, who follow crime on the trail, armed with the law, through the rushwood of legality, as relentlessly as the savages of Cooper pursue their enemies in the depths of the American forests. The desire seized me to become a wheel of this admirable machine,--a small assistance in the punishment of crime and the triumph of innocence.

I made the essay; and I found I did not succeed too badly.” “And does this employment please you?” “I owe to it, sir, my liveliest enjoyments. Adieu weariness! since I have abandoned the search for books to the search for men. I shrug my shoulders when I see a foolish fellow pay twenty-five francs for the right of hunting a hare.

What a prize! Give me the hunting of a man! That, at least, calls the faculties into play, and the victory is not inglorious! The game in my sport is equal to the hunter; they both possess intelligence, strength, and cunning. The arms are nearly equal. Ah! if people but knew the excitement of these games of hide and seek which are played between the criminal and the detective, everybody would be wanting employment at the office of the Rue de Jerusalem. The misfortune is, that the art is becoming lost.

Great crimes are now so rare. The race of strong fearless criminals has given place to the mob of vulgar pick-pockets. The few rascals who are heard of occasionally are as cowardly as foolish.

They sign their names to their misdeeds, and even leave their cards lying about. There is no merit in catching them. Their crime found out, you have only to go and arrest them,--” “It seems to me, though,” interrupted M. Daburon, smiling, “that our assassin is not such a bungler.” “He, sir, is an exception; and I shall have greater delight in tracking him. I will do everything for that, I will even compromise myself if necessary. Daburon,” added he, slightly embarrassed, “that I do not boast to my friends of my exploits; I even conceal them as carefully as possible. They would perhaps shake hands with me less warmly did they know that Tirauclair and Tabaret were one and the same.” Insensibly the crime became again the subject of conversation.

It was agreed, that, the first thing in the morning, M. Tabaret should install himself at Bougival. He boasted that in eight days he should examine all the people round about. Daburon promised to keep him advised of the least evidence that transpired, and recall him, if by any chance he should procure the papers of Widow Lerouge.

Tabaret,” said the magistrate in conclusion, “I shall be always at home. If you have any occasion to speak to me, do not hesitate to come at night as well as during the day. I rarely go out, and you will always find me either at my home, Rue Jacob, or in my office at the Palais de Justice. I will give orders for your admittance whenever you present yourself.” The train entered the station at this moment.

Daburon, having called a cab, offered a seat to M. Tabaret. “It is not worth while,” he replied, “for I live, as I have had the honour of telling you, in the Rue St. Lazare, only a few steps from here.” “Till to-morrow, then!” said M. Daburon. “Till to-morrow,” replied old Tabaret; and he added, “We shall succeed.” CHAPTER III. Tabaret’s house was in fact not more than four minutes’ walk from the railway terminus of St. Lazare.

It was a fine building carefully kept, and which probably yielded a fine income though the rents were not too high.

He occupied on the first floor, overlooking the street, some handsome apartments, well arranged and comfortably furnished, the principal of which was his collection of books. He lived very simply from taste, as well as habit, waited on by an old servant, to whom on great occasions the concierge lent a helping hand.

No one in the house had the slightest suspicion of the avocations of the proprietor. Besides, even the humblest agent of police would be expected to possess a degree of acuteness for which no one gave M. Tabaret credit. Indeed, they mistook for incipient idiocy his continual abstraction of mind. It is true that all who knew him remarked the singularity of his habits. His frequent absences from home had given to his proceedings an appearance at once eccentric and mysterious. Never was young libertine more irregular in his habits than this old man. He came or failed to come home to his meals, ate it mattered not what or when. He went out at every hour of the day and night, often slept abroad, and even disappeared for entire weeks at a time. Then too he received the strangest visitors, odd looking men of suspicious appearance, and fellows of ill-favoured and sinister aspect.

This irregular way of living had robbed the old fellow of much consideration. Many believed they saw in him a shameless libertine, who squandered his income in disreputable places. They would remark to one another, “Is it not disgraceful, a man of his age?” He was aware of all this tittle-tattle, and laughed at it. This did not, however, prevent many of his tenants from seeking his society and paying court to him. They would invite him to dinner, but he almost invariably refused. He seldom visited but one person of the house, but with that one he was very intimate, so much so indeed, that he was more often in her apartment, than in his own. She was a widow lady, who for fifteen years had occupied an apartment on the third floor. Her name was Madame Gerdy, and she lived with her son Noel, whom she adored.

Noel Gerdy was a man thirty-three years of age, but looking older; tall and well made, with a noble and intelligent face, large black eyes, and black hair which curled naturally. An advocate, he passed for having great talent, and greater industry, and had already gained a certain amount of notoriety. He was an obstinate worker, cold and meditative, though devoted to his profession, and affected, with some ostentation, perhaps, a great rigidity of principle, and austerity of manners. In Madame Gerdy’s apartment, old Tabaret felt himself quite at home. He considered her as a relation, and looked upon Noel as a son. In spite of her fifty years, he had often thought of asking the hand of this charming widow, and was restrained less by the fear of a refusal than its consequence. To propose and to be rejected would sever the existing relations, so pleasurable to him. However, he had by his will, which was deposited with his notary constituted this young advocate his sole legatee; with the single condition of founding an annual prize of two thousand francs to be bestowed on the police agent who during the year had unravelled the most obscure and mysterious crime. Short as was the distance to his house, old Tabaret was a good quarter of an hour in reaching it.

On leaving M. Daburon his thoughts reverted to the scene of the murder; and, so blinded was the old fellow to external objects, that he moved along the street, first jostled on the right, then on the left, by the busy passers by, advancing one step and receding two. He repeated to himself for the fiftieth time the words uttered by Widow Lerouge, as reported by the milk-woman. “If I wished for any more, I could have it.” “All is in that,” murmured he. “Widow Lerouge possessed some important secret, which persons rich and powerful had the strongest motives for concealing. She had them in her power, and that was her fortune. She made them sing to her tune; she probably went too far, and so they suppressed her. But of what nature was this secret, and how did she become possessed of it? Most likely she was in her youth a servant in some great family; and whilst there, she saw, heard, or discovered, something--What?

Evidently there is a woman at the bottom of it. Did she assist her mistress in some love intrigue? What more probable? And in that case the affair becomes even more complicated. Not only must the woman be found but her lover also; for it is the lover who has moved in this affair. He is, or I am greatly deceived, a man of noble birth. A person of inferior rank would have simply hired an assassin.

This man has not hung back; he himself has struck the blow and by that means avoiding the indiscretion or the stupidity of an accomplice. He is a courageous rascal, full of audacity and coolness, for the crime has been admirably executed.

The fellow left nothing behind of a nature to compromise him seriously. But for me, Gevrol, believing in the robbery, would have seen nothing. Fortunately, however, I was there. But yet it can hardly be that,” continued the old man. “It must be something worse than a mere love affair.” Old Tabaret entered the porch of the house. The concierge seated by the window of his lodge saw him as he passed beneath the gas lamp. “Ah,” said he, “the proprietor has returned at last.” “So he has,” replied his wife, “but it looks as though his princess would have nothing to do with him to-night.

He seems more loose than ever.” “Is it not positively indecent,” said the concierge, “and isn’t he in a state! His fair ones do treat him well! One of these fine mornings I shall have to take him to a lunatic asylum in a straight waistcoat.” “Look at him now!” interrupted his wife, “just look at him now, in the middle of the courtyard!” The old fellow had stopped at the extremity of the porch. He had taken off his hat, and, while talking to himself, gesticulated violently. “No,” said he, “I have not yet got hold of the clue, I am getting near it; but have not yet found it out.” He mounted the staircase, and rang his bell, forgetting that he had his latch-key in his pocket. “What, is it you, sir,” said she, “and at this hour!” “What’s that you say?” asked the old fellow. “I say,” replied the housekeeper, “that it is more than half-past eight o’clock. I thought you were not coming back this evening. Have you at least dined?” “No, not yet.” “Well, fortunately I have kept your dinner warm.

You can sit down to it at once.” Old Tabaret took his place at the table, and helped himself to soup, but mounting his hobby-horse again, he forgot to eat, and remained, his spoon in the air, as though suddenly struck by an idea. “He is certainly touched in the head,” thought Manette, the housekeeper. “Look at that stupid expression. Who in his senses would lead the life he does?” She touched him on the shoulder, and bawled in his ear, as if he were deaf,--“You do not eat.

Are you not hungry?” “Yes, yes,” muttered he, trying mechanically to escape the voice that sounded in his ears, “I am very hungry, for since the morning I have been obliged--” He interrupted himself, remaining with his mouth open, his eyes fixed on vacancy. “You were obliged--?” repeated Manette. “Thunder!” cried he, raising his clenched fists towards the ceiling,--“heaven’s thunder! I have it!” His movement was so violent and sudden that the housekeeper was a little alarmed, and retired to the further end of the dining-room, near the door. “Yes,” continued he, “it is certain there is a child!” Manette approached him quickly. “A child?” she asked in astonishment.

“What next!” cried he in a furious tone. “What are you doing there? Has your hardihood come to this that you pick up the words which escape me? Do me the pleasure to retire to your kitchen, and stay there until I call you.” “He is going crazy!” thought Manette, as she disappeared very quickly. Old Tabaret resumed his seat.

He hastily swallowed his soup which was completely cold. “Why,” said he to himself, “did I not think of it before? Poor humanity! I am growing old, and my brain is worn out. For it is clear as day; the circumstances all point to that conclusion.” He rang the bell placed on the table beside him; the servant reappeared. “Bring the roast,” he said, “and leave me to myself.” “Yes,” continued he furiously carving a leg of Presale mutton--“Yes, there is a child, and here is his history! The Widow Lerouge, when a young woman, is in the service of a great lady, immensely rich. Her husband, a sailor, probably had departed on a long voyage.

The lady had a lover--found herself enciente. She confided in the Widow Lerouge, and, with her assistance, accomplished a clandestine accouchement.” He called again. “Manette, the dessert, and get out!” Certainly such a master was unworthy of so excellent a cook as Manette. He would have been puzzled to say what he had eaten for diner, or even what he was eating at this moment; it was a preserve of pears. “But what,” murmured he, “has become of the child? Has it been destroyed?

No; for the Widow Lerouge, an accomplice in an infanticide, would be no longer formidable. The child has been preserved, and confided to the care of our widow, by whom it has been reared. They have been able to take the infant away from her, but not the proofs of its birth and its existence. The father is the man of the fine carriage; the mother is the lady who came with the handsome young man. Ha! ha!

I can well believe the dear old dame wanted for nothing. She had a secret worth a farm in Brie.

But the old lady was extravagant; her expenses and her demands have increased year by year. Poor humanity! She has leaned upon the staff too heavily, and broken it. She has threatened. They have been frightened, and said, ‘Let there be an end of this!’ But who has charged himself with the commission?

The papa? He would save his mother, the brave boy! He has slain the witness and burnt the proofs!” Manette all this time, her ear to the keyhole, listened with all her soul; from time to time she gleaned a word, an oath, the noise of a blow upon the table; but that was all. “For certain,” thought she, “his women are running in his head.” Her curiosity overcame her prudence. Hearing no more, she ventured to open the door a little way. The old fellow caught her in the very act. “Monsieur wants his coffee?” stammered she timidly. “Yes, you may bring it to me,” he answered.

He attempted to swallow his coffee at a gulp, but scalded himself so severely that the pain brought him suddenly from speculation to reality. Devil take the case! it has set me beside myself. They are right when they say I am too enthusiastic. But who amongst the whole lot of them could have, by the sole exercise of observation and reason, established the whole history of the assassination? Certainly not Gevrol, poor man! Won’t he feel vexed and humiliated, being altogether out of it. Shall I seek M.

Daburon? The night is necessary to me to sift to the bottom all the particulars, and arrange my ideas systematically. But, on the other hand, if I sit here all alone, this confounded case will keep me in a fever of speculation, and as I have just eaten a great deal, I may get an attack of indigestion.

My faith! I will call upon Madame Gerdy: she has been ailing for some days past. I will have a chat with Noel, and that will change the course of my ideas.” He got up from the table, put on his overcoat, and took his hat and cane. “Are you going out, sir?” asked Manette. “Yes.” “Shall you be late?” “Possibly.” “But you will return to-night?” “I do not know.” One minute later, M. Tabaret was ringing his friend’s bell. Madame Gerdy lived in respectable style. She possessed sufficient for her wants; and her son’s practice, already large, had made them almost rich. She lived very quietly, and with the exception of one or two friends, whom Noel occasionally invited to dinner, received very few visitors. During more than fifteen years that M.

Tabaret came familiarly to the apartments, he had only met the cure of the parish, one of Noel’s old professors, and Madame Gerdy’s brother, a retired colonel. When these three visitors happened to call on the same evening, an event somewhat rare, they played at a round game called Boston; on other evenings piquet or all-fours was the rule. Noel, however, seldom remained in the drawing-room, but shut himself up after dinner in his study, which with his bedroom formed a separate apartment to his mother’s, and immersed himself in his law papers. He was supposed to work far into the night.

Often in winter his lamp was not extinguished before dawn. Mother and son absolutely lived for one another, as all who knew them took pleasure in repeating. They loved and honoured Noel for the care he bestowed upon his mother, for his more than filial devotion, for the sacrifices which all supposed he made in living at his age like an old man. The neighbours were in the habit of contrasting the conduct of this exemplary young man with that of M. Tabaret, the incorrigible old rake, the hairless dangler. As for Madame Gerdy, she saw nothing but her son in all the world. Her love had actually taken the form of worship. In Noel she believed she saw united all the physical and moral perfections. To her he seemed of a superior order to the rest of humanity.

If he spoke, she was silent and listened: his word was a command, his advice a decree of Providence. To care for her son, study his tastes, anticipate his wishes, was the sole aim of her life. She was a mother.

“Is Madame Gerdy visible?” asked old Tabaret of the girl who opened the door; and, without waiting for an answer, he walked into the room like a man assured that his presence cannot be inopportune, and ought to be agreeable. A single candle lighted the drawing-room, which was not in its accustomed order.

The small marble-top table, usually in the middle of the room, had been rolled into a corner. Madame Gerdy’s large arm-chair was near the window; a newspaper, all crumpled, lay before it on the carpet.

The amateur detective took in the whole at a glance. “Has any accident happened?” he asked of the girl. “Do not speak of it, sir: we have just had a fright! oh, such a fright!” “What was it? tell me quickly!” “You know that madame has been ailing for the last month. She has eaten I may say almost nothing. This morning, even, she said to me--” “Yes, yes! but this evening?” “After her dinner, madame went into the drawing-room as usual. She sat down and took up one of M. Noel’s newspapers.

Scarcely had she begun to read, when she uttered a great cry,--oh, a terrible cry! We hastened to her; madame had fallen on to the floor, as one dead. Noel raised her in his arms, and carried her into her room. I wanted to fetch the doctor, sir, but he said there was no need; he knew what was the matter with her.” “And how is she now?” “She has come to her senses; that is to say, I suppose so; for M. Noel made me leave the room.

All that I do know is, that a little while ago she was talking, and talking very loudly too, for I heard her. Ah, sir, it is all the same, very strange!” “What is strange?” “What I heard Madame Gerdy say to M. Noel.” “Ah ha! my girl!” sneered old Tabaret; “so you listen at key-holes, do you?” “No, sir, I assure you; but madame cried out like one lost. She said,--” “My girl!” interrupted old Tabaret severely, “one always hears wrong through key-holes.

Ask Manette if that is not so.” The poor girl, thoroughly confused, sought to excuse herself. “Enough, enough!” said the old man. Noel; I can wait for him very well here.” And satisfied with the reproof he had administered, he picked up the newspaper, and seated himself beside the fire, placing the candle near him so as to read with ease. A minute had scarcely elapsed when he in his turn bounded in his chair, and stifled a cry of instinctive terror and surprise. These were the first words that met his eye. “A horrible crime has plunged the village of La Jonchere in consternation. A poor widow, named Lerouge, who enjoyed the general esteem and love of the community, has been assassinated in her home. The officers of the law have made the usual preliminary investigations, and everything leads us to believe that the police are already on the track of the author of this dastardly crime.” “Thunder!” said old Tabaret to himself, “can it be that Madame Gerdy?--” The idea but flashed across his mind; he fell back into his chair, and, shrugging his shoulders, murmured,-- “Really this affair of La Jonchere is driving me out of my senses!

I can think of nothing but this Widow Lerouge. I shall be seeing her in everything now.” In the mean while, an uncontrollable curiosity made him peruse the entire newspaper. He found nothing with the exception of these lines, to justify or explain even the slightest emotion. “It is an extremely singular coincidence, at the same time,” thought the incorrigible police agent. Then, remarking that the newspaper was slightly torn at the lower part, and crushed, as if by a convulsive grasp, he repeated,-- “It is strange!” At this moment the door of Madame Gerdy’s room opened, and Noel appeared on the threshold. Without doubt the accident to his mother had greatly excited him; for he was very pale and his countenance, ordinarily so calm, wore an expression of profound sorrow.

He appeared surprised to see old Tabaret. “Ah, my dear Noel!” cried the old fellow. “Calm my inquietude. How is your mother?” “Madame Gerdy is as well as can be expected.” “Madame Gerdy!” repeated the old fellow with an air of astonishment; but he continued, “It is plain you have been seriously alarmed.” “In truth,” replied the advocate, seating himself, “I have experienced a rude shock.” Noel was making visibly the greatest efforts to appear calm, to listen to the old fellow, and to answer him. Old Tabaret, as much disquieted on his side, perceived nothing. “At least, my dear boy,” said he, “tell me how this happened?” The young man hesitated a moment, as if consulting with himself. No doubt he was unprepared for this point blank question, and knew not what answer to make; at last he replied,-- “Madame Gerdy has suffered a severe shock in learning from a paragraph in this newspaper that a woman in whom she takes a strong interest has been assassinated.” “Ah!” replied old Tabaret.

The old fellow was in a fever of embarrassment. He wanted to question Noel, but was restrained by the fear of revealing the secret of his association with the police. Indeed he had almost betrayed himself by the eagerness with which he exclaimed,-- “What! your mother knew the Widow Lerouge?” By an effort he restrained himself, and with difficulty dissembled his satisfaction; for he was delighted to find himself so unexpectedly on the trace of the antecedents of the victim of La Jonchere. “She was,” continued Noel, “the slave of Madame Gerdy, devoted to her in every way! She would have sacrificed herself for her at a sign from her hand.” “Then you, my dear friend, you knew this poor woman!” “I had not seen her for a very long time,” replied Noel, whose voice seemed broken by emotion, “but I knew her well. I ought even to say I loved her tenderly. She was my nurse.” “She, this woman?” stammered old Tabaret.

This time he was thunderstruck. He was most unfortunate. Providence had evidently chosen him for its instrument, and was leading him by the hand.

He was about to obtain all the information, which half an hour ago he had almost despaired of procuring. He remained seated before Noel amazed and speechless. Yet he understood, that, unless he would compromise himself, he must speak. “It is a great misfortune,” he murmured at last. “What it is for Madame Gerdy, I cannot say,” replied Noel with a gloomy air; “but, for me, it is an overwhelming misfortune! I am struck to the heart by the blow which has slain this poor woman.

Her death, M. Tabaret, has annihilated all my dreams of the future, and probably overthrown my most cherished hopes. I had to avenge myself for cruel injuries; her death breaks the weapon in my hands, and reduces me to despair, to impotence. Alas! I am indeed unfortunate.” “You unfortunate?” cried old Tabaret, singularly affected by his dear Noel’s sadness. “In heaven’s name, what has happened to you?” “I suffer,” murmured the advocate, “and very cruelly.

Not only do I fear that the injustice is irreparable; but here am I totally without defence delivered over to the shafts of calumny. I may be accused of inventing falsehood, of being an ambitious intriguer, having no regard for truth, no scruples of conscience.” Old Tabaret was puzzled. What connection could possibly exist between Noel’s honour and the assassination at La Jonchere? His brain was in a whirl. A thousand troubled and confused ideas jostled one another in inextricable confusion. “Come, come, Noel,” said he, “compose yourself. Who would believe any calumny uttered about you? Take courage, have you not friends? am I not here? Have confidence, tell me what troubles you, and it will be strange, indeed if between us two--” The advocate started to his feet, impressed by a sudden resolution.

yes,” interrupted he, “yes, you shall know all. In fact, I am tired of carrying all alone a secret that is stifling me. The part I have been playing irritates and wearies me. I have need of a friend to console me. I require a counsellor whose voice will encourage me, for one is a bad judge of his own cause, and this crime has plunged me into an abyss of hesitations.” “You know,” replied M. Tabaret kindly, “that I regard you as my own son. Do not scruple to let me serve you.” “Know then,” commenced the advocate,--“but no, not here: what I have to say must not be overheard. Let us go into my study.” CHAPTER IV.

When Noel and old Tabaret were seated face to face in Noel’s study, and the door had been carefully shut, the old fellow felt uneasy, and said: “What if your mother should require anything.” “If Madame Gerdy rings,” replied the young man drily, “the servant will attend to her.” This indifference, this cold disdain, amazed old Tabaret, accustomed as he was to the affectionate relations always existing between mother and son. “For heaven’s sake, Noel,” said he, “calm yourself.

Do not allow yourself to be overcome by a feeling of irritation. You have, I see, some little pique against your mother, which you will have forgotten to-morrow. Don’t speak of her in this icy tone; but tell me what you mean by calling her Madame Gerdy?” “What I mean?” rejoined the advocate in a hollow tone,--“what I mean?” Then rising from his arm-chair, he took several strides about the room, and, returning to his place near the old fellow, said,-- “Because, M. Tabaret, Madame Gerdy is not my mother!” This sentence fell like a heavy blow on the head of the amateur detective. “Oh!” he said, in the tone one assumes when rejecting an absurd proposition, “do you really know what you are saying, Noel? Is it probable?” “It is improbable,” replied Noel with a peculiar emphasis which was habitual to him: “it is incredible, if you will; but yet it is true. That is to say, for thirty-three years, ever since my birth, this woman has played a most marvellous and unworthy comedy, to ennoble and enrich her son,--for she has a son,--at my expense!” “My friend,” commenced old Tabaret, who in the background of the picture presented by this singular revelation saw again the phantom of the murdered Widow Lerouge. But Noel heard not, and seemed hardly in a state to hear.

The young man, usually so cold, so self-contained, could no longer control his anger.

At the sound of his own voice, he became more and more animated, as a good horse might at the jingling of his harness. “Was ever man,” continued he, “more cruelly deceived, more miserably duped, than I have been! I, who loved this woman, who knew not how to show my affection for her, who, for her sake, sacrificed my youth! How she must have laughed at me! Her infamy dates from the moment when for the first time she took me on her knees; and, until these few days past, she has sustained without faltering her execrable role. Her love for me was nothing but hypocrisy! her devotion, falsehood!

her caresses, lies! And I adored her!

Ah! why can I not take back all the embraces I bestowed on her in exchange for her Judas kisses? And for what was all this heroism of deception, this caution, this duplicity? To betray me more securely, to despoil me, to rob me, to give to her bastard all that lawfully appertained to me; my name, a noble name, my fortune, a princely inheritance!” “We are getting near it!” thought old Tabaret, who was fast relapsing into the colleague of M. Gevrol; then aloud he said, “This is very serious, all that you have been saying, my dear Noel, terribly serious. We must believe Madame Gerdy possessed of an amount of audacity and ability rarely to be met with in a woman. She must have been assisted, advised, compelled perhaps. Who have been her accomplices?

She could never have managed this unaided; perhaps her husband himself.” “Her husband!” interrupted the advocate, with a laugh. “Ah!

you too have believed her a widow. Pshaw! She never had a husband, the defunct Gerdy never existed. I was a bastard, dear M. Tabaret, very much a bastard; Noel, son of the girl Gerdy and an unknown father!” “Ah!” cried the old fellow; “that then was the reason why your marriage with Mademoiselle Levernois was broken off four years ago?” “Yes, my friend, that was the reason. And what misfortunes might have been averted by this marriage with a young girl whom I loved! However I did not complain to her whom I then called my mother. She wept, she accused herself, she seemed ready to die of grief: and I, poor fool!

I consoled her as best I could, I dried her tears, and excused her in her own eyes. No, there was no husband. Do such women as she have husbands? She was my father’s mistress; and, on the day when he had had enough of her, he took up his hat and threw her three hundred thousand francs, the price of the pleasures she had given him.” Noel would probably have continued much longer to pour forth his furious denunciations; but M. Tabaret stopped him. The old fellow felt he was on the point of learning a history in every way similar to that which he had imagined; and his impatience to know whether he had guessed aright, almost caused him to forget to express any sympathy for his friend’s misfortunes. “My dear boy,” said he, “do not let us digress. You ask me for advice; and I am perhaps the best adviser you could have chosen. How have you learned this? Have you any proofs?

where are they?” The decided tone in which the old fellow spoke, should no doubt, have awakened Noel’s attention; but he did not notice it. He had not leisure to reflect. He therefore answered,-- “I have known the truth for three weeks past. I made the discovery by chance. I have important moral proofs; but they are mere presumptive evidence. A word from Widow Lerouge, one single word, would have rendered them decisive. This word she cannot now pronounce, since they have killed her; but she had said it to me.

Now, Madame Gerdy will deny all. I know her; with her head on the block, she will deny it. My father doubtless will turn against me. I am certain, and I possess proofs; now this crime makes my certitude but a vain boast, and renders my proofs null and void!” “Explain it all to me,” said old Tabaret after a pause--“all, you understand. We old ones are sometimes able to give good advice. We will decide what’s to be done afterwards.” “Three weeks ago,” commenced Noel, “searching for some old documents, I opened Madame Gerdy’s secretary.

Accidentally I displaced one of the small shelves: some papers tumbled out, and a packet of letters fell in front of my eyes. A mechanical impulse, which I cannot explain, prompted me to untie the string, and, impelled by an invincible curiosity, I read the first letter which came to my hand.” “You did wrong,” remarked M. Tabaret. “Be it so; anyhow I read. At the end of ten lines, I was convinced that these letters were from my father, whose name, Madame Gerdy, in spite of my prayers, had always hidden from me. You can understand my emotion. I carried off the packet, shut myself up in this room, and devoured the correspondence from beginning to end.” “And you have been cruelly punished my poor boy!” “It is true; but who in my position could have resisted? These letters have given me great pain; but they afford the proof of what I just now told you.” “You have at least preserved these letters?” “I have them here, M.

Tabaret,” replied Noel, “and, that you may understand the case in which I have requested your advice, I am going to read them to you.” The advocate opened one of the drawers of his bureau, pressed an invisible spring, and from a hidden receptacle constructed in the thick upper shelf, he drew out a bundle of letters. “You understand, my friend,” he resumed, “that I will spare you all insignificant details, which, however, add their own weight to the rest. I am only going to deal with the more important facts, treating directly of the affair.” Old Tabaret nestled in his arm-chair, burning with curiosity; his face and his eyes expressing the most anxious attention. After a selection, which he was some time in making, the advocate opened a letter, and commenced reading in a voice which trembled at times, in spite of his efforts to render it calm. “‘My dearly loved Valerie,’-- “Valerie,” said he, “is Madame Gerdy.” “I know, I know. “‘My dearly loved Valerie, “‘This is a happy day. This morning I received your darling letter, I have covered it with kisses, I have re-read it a hundred times; and now it has gone to join the others here upon my heart. has nearly killed me with joy. You were not deceived, then; it was true! Heaven has blessed our love.

We shall have a son. “‘I shall have a son, the living image of my adored Valerie! why are we separated by such an immense distance? Why have I not wings that I might fly to your feet and fall into your arms, full of the sweetest voluptuousness! never as at this moment have I cursed the fatal union imposed upon me by an inexorable family, whom my tears could not move. I cannot help hating this woman, who, in spite of me bears my name, innocent victim though she is of the barbarity of our parents.

And, to complete my misery, she too will soon render me a father.

Who can describe my sorrow when I compare the fortunes of these two children? “‘The one, the son of the object of my tenderest love, will have neither father nor family, nor even a name, since a law framed to make lovers unhappy prevents my acknowledging him. While the other, the son of my detested wife, by the sole fact of his birth, will be rich, noble, surrounded by devotion and homage, with a great position in the world. I cannot bear the thought of this terrible injustice! How it is to be prevented, I do not know: but rest assured I shall find a way. It is to him who is the most desired, the most cherished, the most beloved, that the greater fortune should come; and come to him it shall, for I so will it.’” “From where is that letter dated?” asked old Tabaret. The style in which it was written had already settled one point in his mind. He handed the letter to the old fellow, who read,-- “Venice, December, 1828.” “You perceive,” resumed the advocate, “all the importance of this first letter. It is like a brief statement of the facts.

My father, married in spite of himself, adores his mistress, and detests his wife. Both find themselves enceinte at the same time, and his feelings towards the two infants about to be born, are not at all concealed. Towards the end one almost sees peeping forth the germ of the idea which later on he will not be afraid to put into execution, in defiance of all law human or divine!” He was speaking as though pleading the cause, when old Tabaret interrupted him. “It is not necessary to explain it,” said he. “Thank goodness, what you have just read is explicit enough. I am not an adept in such matters, I am as simple as a juryman; however I understand it admirably so far.” “I pass over several letters,” continued Noel, “and I come to this one dated Jan. It is very long, and filled with matters altogether foreign to the subject which now occupies us. However, it contains two passages, which attest the slow but steady growth of my father’s project.

‘A destiny, more powerful than my will, chains me to this country; but my soul is with you, my Valerie! Without ceasing, my thoughts rest upon the adored pledge of our love which moves within you.

Take care, my darling, take care of yourself, now doubly precious. It is the lover, the father, who implores you. The last part of your letter wounds my heart. Is it not an insult to me, for you to express anxiety as to the future of our child! Oh heaven! she loves me, she knows me, and yet she doubts!’ “I skip,” said Noel, “two pages of passionate rhapsody, and stop at these few lines at the end. ‘The countess’s condition causes her to suffer very much! Unfortunate wife! I hate and at the same time pity her. She seems to divine the reason of my sadness and my coldness.

By her timid submission and unalterable sweetness, one would think she sought pardon for our unhappy union. Poor sacrificed creature! She also may have given her heart to another, before being dragged to the altar. Our fates would then be the same. Your good heart will pardon my pitying her.’ “That one was my mother,” cried the advocate in a trembling voice. “A saint! And he asks pardon for the pity she inspires! Poor woman.” He passed his hands over his eyes, as if to force back his tears, and added,-- “She is dead!” In spite of his impatience, old Tabaret dared not utter a word.

Besides he felt keenly the profound sorrow of his young friend, and respected it. After a rather long silence, Noel raised his head, and returned to the correspondence. “All the letters which follow,” said he, “carry traces of the preoccupation of my father’s mind on the subject of his bastard son. I lay them, however, aside. But this is what strikes me in the one written from Rome, on March 5, 1829. ‘My son, our son, that is my great, my only anxiety. How to secure for him the future position of which I dream?

The nobles of former times were not worried in this way. In those days I would have gone to the king, who, with a word, would have assured the child’s position in the world. To-day, the king who governs with difficulty his disaffected subjects can do nothing. The nobility has lost its rights, and the highest in the land are treated the same as the meanest peasants!’ Lower down I find,--‘My heart loves to picture to itself the likeness of our son.

He will have the spirit, the mind, the beauty, the grace, all the fascinations of his mother. He will inherit from his father, pride, valour, and the sentiments of a noble race. And the other, what will he be like? Hatred can only engender a monster. Heaven reserves strength and beauty for the children of love!’ The monster, that is I!” said the advocate, with intense rage.

“Whilst the other--But let us ignore these preliminaries to an outrageous action. I only desired up to the present to show you the aberration of my father’s reason under the influence of his passion.

We shall soon come to the point.” M.

Tabaret was astonished at the strength of this passion, of which Noel was disturbing the ashes. Perhaps, he felt it all the more keenly on account of those expressions which recalled his own youth. He understood how irresistible must have been the strength of such a love and he trembled to speculate as to the result.

“Here is,” resumed Noel, holding up a sheet of paper, “not one of those interminable epistles from which I have read you short extracts, but a simple billet. It is dated from Venice at the beginning of May; it is short but nevertheless decisive; ‘Dear Valerie,--Tell me, as near as possible, the probable date of your confinement. I await your reply with an anxiety you would imagine, could you but guess my projects with regard to our child.’ “I do not know,” said Noel, “whether Madame Gerdy understood; anyhow she must have answered at once, for this is what my father wrote on the 14th: ‘Your reply, my darling, is what I did not dare expect it to be. The project I had conceived is now practicable. I begin to feel more calm and secure.

Our son shall bear my name; I shall not be obliged to separate myself from him. He shall be reared by my side, in my mansion, under my eyes, on my knees, in my arms. Shall I have strength enough to bear this excess of happiness? I have a soul for grief, shall I have one for joy? my adored one, oh! my precious child, fear nothing, my heart is vast, enough to love you both!

I set out to-morrow for Naples, from whence I shall write to you at length. Happen what may, however, though I should have to sacrifice the important interests confided to me, I shall be in Paris for the critical hour. My presence will double your courage; the strength of my love will diminish your sufferings.’” “I beg your pardon for interrupting you, Noel,” said old Tabaret, “do you know what important affairs detained your father abroad?” “My father, my old friend,” replied the advocate, “was, in spite of his youth, one of the friends, one of the confidants, of Charles X.; and he had been entrusted by him with a secret mission to Italy. My father is Count Rheteau de Commarin.” “Whew!” exclaimed the old fellow; and the better to engrave the name upon his memory, he repeated several times, between his teeth, “Rheteau de Commarin.” For a few minutes Noel remained silent. After having appeared to do everything to control his resentment, he seemed utterly dejected, as though he had formed the determination to attempt nothing to repair the injury he had sustained. “In the middle of the month of May, then,” he continued, “my father is at Naples. It is whilst there, that he, a man of prudence and sense, a dignified diplomatist, a nobleman, prompted by an insensate passion, dares to confide to paper this most monstrous of projects. “‘My adored one,-- “‘It is Germain, my old valet, who will hand you this letter.

I am sending him to Normandy, charged with a commission of the most delicate nature. He is one of those servitors who may be trusted implicitly. “‘The time has come for me to explain to you my projects respecting my son. In three weeks, at the latest, I shall be in Paris.

“‘If my previsions are not deceited, the countess and you will be confined at the same time. An interval of three or four days will not alter my plan. This is what I have resolved.

“‘My two children will be entrusted to two nurses of Normandy, where my estates are nearly all situated. One of these women, known to Germain, and to whom I am sending him, will be in our interests. It is to this person, Valerie, that our son will be confided. These two women will leave Paris the same day, Germain accompanying her who will have charge of the son of the countess. “‘An accident, devised beforehand, will compel these two women to pass one night on the road. Germain will arrange so they will have to sleep in the same inn, and in the same chamber! During the night, our nurse will change the infants in their cradles. “‘I have foreseen everything, as I will explain to you, and every precaution has been taken to prevent our secret from escaping. Germain has instructions to procure, while in Paris, two sets of baby linen exactly similar. Assist him with your advice.

“‘Your maternal heart, my sweet Valerie, may perhaps bleed at the thought of being deprived of the innocent caresses of your child. You will console yourself by thinking of the position secured to him by your sacrifice.

What excess of tenderness can serve him as powerfully as this separation? As to the other, I know your fond heart, you will cherish him. Will it not be another proof of your love for me? Besides, he will have nothing to complain of.

Knowing nothing he will have nothing to regret; and all that money can secure in this world he shall have. “‘Do not tell me that this attempt is criminal. The success of our plan depends upon so many unlikely circumstances, so many coincidences, independent of our will, that, without the evident protection of Providence, we cannot succeed. If, then, success crowns our efforts, it will be because heaven decreed it. “‘Meanwhile I hope.’” “Just what I expected,” murmured old Tabaret. “And the wretched man,” cried Noel, “dares to invoke the aid of Providence!

He would make heaven his accomplice!” “But,” asked the old fellow, “how did your mother,--pardon me, I would say, how did Madame Gerdy receive this proposition?” “She would appear to have rejected it, at first, for here are twenty pages of eloquent persuasion from the count, urging her to agree to it, trying to convince her. Oh, that woman!” “Come my child,” said M. Tabaret, softly, “try not to be too unjust.

You seem to direct all your resentment against Madame Gerdy? Really, in my opinion, the count is far more deserving of your anger than she is.” “True,” interrupted Noel, with a certain degree of violence,--“true, the count is guilty, very guilty.

He is the author of the infamous conspiracy, and yet I feel no hatred against him. He has committed a crime, but he has an excuse, his passion. Moreover, my father has not deceived me, like this miserable woman, every hour of my life, during thirty years. de Commarin has been so cruelly punished, that, at this present moment, I can only pardon and pity him.” “Ah! so he has been punished?” interrogated the old fellow. “Yes, fearfully, as you will admit. But allow me to continue. Towards the end of May, or, rather, during the first days of June, the count must have arrived in Paris, for the correspondence ceases.

He saw Madame Gerdy, and the final arrangements of the conspiracy were decided on.

Here is a note which removes all uncertainty on that point.

On the day it was written, the count was on service at the Tuileries, and unable to leave his post. He has written it even in the king’s study, on the king’s paper; see the royal arms! The bargain has been concluded, and the woman who has consented to become the instrument of my father’s projects is in Paris. He informs his mistress of the fact.” “‘Dear Valerie,--Germain informs me of the arrival of your son’s, our son’s nurse. She will call at your house during the day.

She is to be depended upon; a magnificent recompense ensures her discretion. Do not, however, mention our plans to her; for she has been given to understand that you know nothing. I wish to charge myself with the sole responsibility of the deed; it is more prudent. This woman is a native of Normandy. She was born on our estate, almost in our house. Her husband is a brave and honest sailor. Her name is Claudine Lerouge.

“‘Be of good courage, my dear love I am exacting from you the greatest sacrifice that a lover can hope for from a mother. Heaven, you can no longer doubt it, protects us. Everything depends now upon our skill and our prudence, so that we are sure to succeed!’” On one point, at least, M. Tabaret was sufficiently enlightened. The researches into the past life of widow Lerouge were no longer difficult. He could not restrain an exclamation of satisfaction, which passed unnoticed by Noel. “This note,” resumed the advocate, “closes the count’s correspondence with Madame Gerdy.” “What!” exclaimed the old fellow, “you are in possession of nothing more?” “I have also ten lines, written many years later, which certainly have some weight, but after all are only a moral proof.” “What a misfortune!” murmured M. Tabaret.

Noel laid on the bureau the letters he had held in his hand, and, turning towards his old friend, he looked at him steadily. “Suppose,” said he slowly and emphasising every syllable,--“suppose that all my information ends here. We will admit, for a moment, that I know nothing more than you do now. What is your opinion?” Old Tabaret remained some minutes without answering; he was estimating the probabilities resulting from M.

de Commarin’s letters. “For my own part,” said he at length, “I believe on my conscience that you are not Madame Gerdy’s son.” “And you are right!” answered the advocate forcibly.

“You will easily believe, will you not, that I went and saw Claudine. She loved me, this poor woman who had given me her milk, she suffered from the knowledge of the injustice that had been done me. Must I say it, her complicity in the matter weighed upon her conscience; it was a remorse too great for her old age. I saw her, I interrogated her, and she told me all. The count’s scheme, simply and yet ingeniously conceived, succeeded without any effort. Three days after my birth, the crime was committed, and I, poor, helpless infant, was betrayed, despoiled and disinherited by my natural protector, by my own father! Poor Claudine! She promised me her testimony for the day on which I should reclaim my rights!” “And she is gone, carrying her secret with her!” murmured the old fellow in a tone of regret.

“Perhaps!” replied Noel, “for I have yet one hope. Claudine had in her possession several letters which had been written to her a long time ago, some by the count, some by Madame Gerdy, letters both imprudent and explicit.

They will be found, no doubt, and their evidence will be decisive. I have held these letters in my hands, I have read them; Claudine particularly wished me to keep them, why did I not do so?” No! there was no hope on that side, and old Tabaret knew so better than any one. It was these very letters, no doubt, that the assassin of La Jonchere wanted. He had found them and had burnt them with the other papers, in the little stove. The old amateur detective was beginning to understand. “All the same,” said he, “from what I know of your affairs, which I think I know as well as my own, it appears to me that the count has not overwell kept the dazzling promises of fortune he made Madame Gerdy on your behalf.” “He never even kept them in the least degree, my old friend.” “That now,” cried the old fellow indignantly, “is even more infamous than all the rest.” “Do not accuse my father,” answered Noel gravely; “his connection with Madame Gerdy lasted a long time. I remember a haughty-looking man who used sometimes to come and see me at school, and who could be no other than the count. But the rupture came.” “Naturally,” sneered M. Tabaret, “a great nobleman--” “Wait before judging,” interrupted the advocate.

de Commarin had his reasons. His mistress was false to him, he learnt it, and cast her off with just indignation. The ten lines which I mentioned to you were written then.” Noel searched a considerable time among the papers scattered upon the table, and at length selected a letter more faded and creased than the others. Judging from the number of folds in the paper one could guess that it had been read and re-read many times. The writing even was here and there partly obliterated. “In this,” said he in a bitter tone, “Madame Gerdy is no longer the adored Valerie: ‘A friend, cruel as all true friends, has opened my eyes. You have been watched, and today, unhappily, I can doubt no more. You, Valerie, you to whom I have given more than my life, you deceive me and have been deceiving me for a long time past. Unhappy man that I am! I am no longer certain that I am the father of your child.’” “But this note is a proof,” cried old Tabaret, “an overwhelming proof.

Of what importance to the count would be a doubt of his paternity, had he not sacrificed his legitimate son to his bastard?

Yes, you have said truly, his punishment has been severe.” “Madame Gerdy,” resumed Noel, “wished to justify herself. She called on him, but he would not receive her. At length she grew tired of her useless attempts to see him. She knew that all was well over when the count’s steward brought her for me a legal settlement of fifteen thousand francs a year. The son had taken my place, and the mother had ruined me!” Three or four light knocks at the door of the study interrupted Noel. “Who is there?” he asked, without stirring. “Sir,” answered the servant from the other side of the door, “madame wishes to speak to you.” The advocate appeared to hesitate. “Go, my son,” advised M.

Tabaret; “do not be merciless, only bigots have that right.” Noel arose with visible reluctance, and passed into Madame Gerdy’s sleeping apartment. Tabaret when left alone. “What a fatal discovery! and how he must feel it. Such a noble young man! such a brave heart!

In his candid honesty he does not even suspect from whence the blow has fallen. Fortunately I am shrewd enough for two, and it is just when he despairs of justice, I am confident of obtaining it for him. Thanks to his information, I am now on the track. A child might now divine whose hand struck the blow. But how has it happened?

Ah! if I had one of those letters for four and twenty hours.

He has probably counted them. If I ask for one, I must acknowledge my connection with the police. I had better take one, no matter which, just to verify the handwriting.” Old Tabaret had just thrust one of the letters into the depths of his capacious pocket, when the advocate returned. He was one of those men of strongly formed character, who never lose their self-control. He was very cunning and had long accustomed himself to dissimulation, that indispensable armour of the ambitious. As he entered the room nothing in his manner betrayed what had taken place between Madame Gerdy and himself. He was absolutely as calm as, when seated in his arm-chair, he listened to the interminable stories of his clients. “Well,” asked old Tabaret, “how is she now?” “Worse,” answered Noel.

“She is now delirious, and no longer knows what she says. She has just assailed me with the most atrocious abuse, upbraiding me as the vilest of mankind! I really believe she is going out of her mind.” “One might do so with less cause,” murmured M. Tabaret; “and I think you ought to send for the doctor.” “I have just done so.” The advocate had resumed his seat before his bureau, and was rearranging the scattered letters according to their dates. He seemed to have forgotten that he had asked his old friend’s advice; nor did he appear in any way desirous of renewing the interrupted conversation. This was not at all what old Tabaret wanted.

“The more I ponder over your history, my dear Noel,” he observed, “the more I am bewildered. I really do not know what resolution I should adopt, were I in your situation.” “Yes, my old friend,” replied the advocate sadly, “it is a situation that might well perplex even more profound experiences than yours.” The old amateur detective repressed with difficulty the sly smile, which for an instant hovered about his lips. “I confess it humbly,” he said, taking pleasure in assuming an air of intense simplicity, “but you, what have you done? Your first impulse must have been to ask Madame Gerdy for an explanation.” Noel made a startled movement, which passed unnoticed by old Tabaret, preoccupied as he was in trying to give the turn he desired to the conversation. “It was by that,” answered Noel, “that I began.” “And what did she say?” “What could she say!

Was she not overwhelmed by the discovery?” “What! did she not attempt to exculpate herself?” inquired the detective greatly surprised. she attempted the impossible.

She pretended she could explain the correspondence.

But can I remember what she said? Lies, absurd, infamous lies.” The advocate had finished gathering up his letters, without noticing the abstraction.

He tied them together carefully, and replaced them in the secret drawer of his bureau. “Yes,” continued he, rising and walking backwards and forward across his study, as if the constant movement could calm his anger, “yes, she pretended she could show me I was wrong. It was easy, was it not, with the proofs I held against her? The fact is she adores her son, and her heart is breaking at the idea that he may be obliged to restitute what he has stolen from me. And I, idiot, fool, coward, almost wished not to mention the matter to her. I said to myself, I will forgive, for after all she has loved me!

She would see me suffer the most horrible tortures, without shedding a tear, to prevent a single hair falling from her son’s head.” “She has probably warned the count,” observed old Tabaret, still pursuing his idea. “She may have tried, but cannot have succeeded, for the count has been absent from Paris for more than a month and is not expected to return until the end of the week.” “How do you know that?” “I wished to see the count my father, to speak with him.” “You?” “Yes, I. Do you think that I shall not reclaim my own?

Do you imagine that I shall not raise my voice.

On what account should I keep silent, who have I to consider? I have rights, and I will make them good. What do you find surprising in that?” “Nothing, certainly, my friend. So then you called at M. de Commarin’s house?” “Oh! I did not decide on doing so all at once,” continued Noel. “At first my discovery almost drove me mad.

A thousand opposing sentiments agitated me. At one moment, my fury blinded me; the next, my courage deserted me. I would, and I would not. I was undecided, uncertain, wild. The scandal that must arise from the publicity of such an affair terrified me. I desired, I still desire to recover my name, that much is certain.

But on the eve of recovering it, I wish to preserve it from stain. I was seeking a means of arranging everything, without noise, without scandal.” “At length, however, you made up your mind?” “Yes, after a struggle of fifteen days, fifteen days of torture, of anguish! Ah! what I suffered in that time! I neglected my business, being totally unfit for work. During the day, I tried by incessant action to fatigue my body, that at night I might find forgetfulness in sleep. Vain hope!

since I found these letters, I have not slept an hour.” From time to time, old Tabaret slyly consulted his watch. Daburon will be in bed,” thought he. “At last one morning,” continued Noel, “after a night of rage, I determined to end all uncertainty. I was in that desperate state of mind, in which the gambler, after successive losses, stakes upon a card his last remaining coin. I plucked up courage, sent for a cab, and was driven to the de Commarin mansion.” The old amateur detective here allowed a sigh of satisfaction to escape him. “It is one of the most magnificent houses, in the Faubourg St. Germain, my friend, a princely dwelling, worthy a great noble twenty times millionaire; almost a palace in fact. One enters at first a vast courtyard, to the right and left of which are the stables, containing twenty most valuable horses, and the coach-houses. At the end rises the grand facade of the main building, majestic and severe, with its immense windows, and its double flight of marble steps. Behind the house is a magnificent garden, I should say a park, shaded by the oldest trees which perhaps exist in all Paris.” This enthusiastic description was not at all what M.

Tabaret wanted. But what could he do, how could he press Noel for the result of his visit! An indiscreet word might awaken the advocate’s suspicions, and reveal to him that he was speaking not to a friend, but to a detective. “Were you then shown over the house and grounds?” asked the old fellow. “No, but I have examined them alone. Since I discovered that I was the only heir of the Rheteau de Commarin, I have found out the antecedents of my new family. “Standing before the dwelling of my ancestors,” continued Noel, “you cannot comprehend the excess of my emotion.

Here, said I, is the house in which I was born. This is the house in which I should have been reared; and, above all, this is the spot where I should reign to-day, whereon I stand an outcast and a stranger, devoured by the sad and bitter memories, of which banished men have died. I compared my brother’s brilliant destinies with my sad and labourious career; and my indignation well nigh overmastered reason. The mad impulse stirred me to force the doors, to rush into the grand salon, and drive out the intruder,--the son of Madame Gerdy,--who had taken the place of the son of the Countess de Commarin! I am master here.

The propriety of legal means at once recurred to my distracted mind, however, and restrained me. Once more I stood before the habitation of my fathers. How I love its old sculptures, its grand old trees, its shaded walls, worn by the feet of my poor mother! I love all, even to the proud escutcheon, frowning above the principal doorway, flinging its defiance to the theories of this age of levellers.” This last phrase conflicted so directly with the code of opinions habitual to Noel, that old Tabaret was obliged to turn aside, to conceal his amusement. “Poor humanity!” thought he; “he is already the grand seigneur.” “On presenting myself,” continued the advocate, “I demanded to see the Count de Commarin. A Swiss porter, in grand livery, answered, the count was travelling, but that the viscount was at home. This ran counter to my designs; but I was embarked; so I insisted on speaking to the son in default of the father. The Swiss porter stared at me with astonishment. He had evidently seen me alight from a hired carriage, and so deliberated for some moments as to whether I was not too insignificant a person to have the honour of being admitted to visit the viscount.” “But tell me, have you seen him?” asked old Tabaret, unable to restrain his impatience. “Of course, immediately,” replied the advocate in a tone of bitter raillery.

“Could the examination, think you, result otherwise than in my favour? My white cravat and black costume produced their natural effect. The Swiss porter entrusted me to the guidance of a chasseur with a plumed hat, who, led me across the yard to a superb vestibule, where five or six footmen were lolling and gaping on their seats. One of these gentlemen asked me to follow him. He led me up a spacious staircase, wide enough for a carriage to ascend, preceded me along an extensive picture gallery, guided me across vast apartments, the furniture of which was fading under its coverings, and finally delivered me into the hands of M. Albert’s valet. That is the name by which Madame Gerdy’s son is known, that is to say, my name.” “I understand, I understand.” “I had passed an inspection; now I had to undergo an examination. The valet desired to be informed who I was, whence I came, what was my profession, what I wanted and all the rest.

I answered simply, that, quite unknown to the viscount, I desired five minutes’ conversation with him on a matter of importance. He left me, requesting me to sit down and wait. I had waited more than a quarter of an hour, when he reappeared. His master graciously deigned to receive me.” It was easy to perceive that the advocate’s reception rankled in his breast, and that he considered it an insult. He could not forgive Albert his lackeys and his valet. He forgot the words of the illustrious duke, who said, “I pay my lackeys to be insolent, to save myself the trouble and ridicule of being so.” Old Tabaret was surprised at his young friend’s display of bitterness, in speaking of these trivial details. “What narrow-mindedness,” thought he, “for a man of such intelligence! Can it be true that the arrogance of lackeys is the secret of the people’s hatred of an amiable and polite aristocracy?” “I was ushered into a small apartment,” continued Noel, “simply furnished, the only ornaments of which were weapons. These, ranged against the walls, were of all times and countries.

Never have I seen in so small a space so many muskets, pistols, swords, sabres, and foils. One might have imagined himself in a fencing master’s arsenal.” The weapon used by Widow Lerouge’s assassin naturally recurred to the old fellow’s memory. “The viscount,” said Noel, speaking slowly, “was half lying on a divan when I entered. He was dressed in a velvet jacket and loose trousers of the same material, and had around his neck an immense white silk scarf. I do not cherish any resentment against this young man; he has never to his knowledge injured me: he was in ignorance of our father’s crime; I am therefore able to speak of him with justice. He is handsome, bears himself well, and nobly carries the name which does not belong to him.

He is about my height, of the same dark complexion, and would resemble me, perhaps, if he did not wear a beard. Only he looks five or six years younger; but this is readily explained, he has neither worked, struggled, nor suffered. He is one of the fortunate ones who arrive without having to start, or who traverse life’s road on such soft cushions that they are never injured by the jolting of their carriage. On seeing me, he arose and saluted me graciously.” “You must have been dreadfully excited,” remarked old Tabaret. “Less than I am at this moment.

Fifteen preparatory days of mental torture exhausts one’s emotions. I answered the question I saw upon his lips.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘you do not know me; but that is of little consequence. I come to you, charged with a very grave, a very sad mission, which touches the honour of the name you bear.’ Without doubt he did not believe me, for, in an impertinent tone, he asked me, ‘Shall you be long?’ I answered simply, ‘Yes.’” “Pray,” interrupted old Tabaret, now become very attentive, “do not omit a single detail; it may be very important, you understand.” “The viscount,” continued Noel, “appeared very much put out. ‘The fact is,’ he explained, ‘I had already disposed of my time. This is the hour at which I call on the young lady to whom I am engaged, Mademoiselle d’Arlange. Can we not postpone this conversation?’” “Good! another woman!” said the old fellow to himself. “I answered the viscount, that an explanation would admit of no delay; and, as I saw him prepare to dismiss me, I drew from my pocket the count’s correspondence, and presented one of the letters to him. On recognizing his father’s handwriting, he became more tractable, declared himself at my service, and asked permission to write a word of apology to the lady by whom he was expected.

Having hastily written the note he handed it to his valet, and ordered him to send at once to Madame d’Arlange, He then asked me to pass into the next room, which was his library.” “One word,” interrupted the old fellow; “was he troubled on seeing the letters?” “Not the least in the world. After carefully closing the door, he pointed to a chair, seated himself, and said, ‘Now, sir, explain yourself.’ I had had time to prepare myself for this interview whilst waiting in the ante-room. I had decided to go straight to the point.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘my mission is painful. The facts I am about to reveal to you are incredible. I beg you, do not answer me until you have read the letters I have here. I beseech you, above all, to keep calm.’ He looked at me with an air of extreme surprise, and answered, ‘Speak!

I can hear all.’ I stood up, and said, ‘Sir, I must inform you that you are not the legitimate son of M. de Commarin, as this correspondence will prove to you. The legitimate son exists; and he it is who sends me.’ I kept my eyes on his while speaking, and I saw there a passing gleam of fury. For a moment I thought he was about to spring at my throat. ‘The letters,’ said he in a short tone. I handed them to him.” “How!” cried old Tabaret, “these letters,--the true ones? How imprudent!” “And why?” “If he had--I don’t know; but--” the old fellow hesitated.

The advocate laid his hand upon his friend’s shoulder. “I was there,” said he in a hollow tone; “and I promise you the letters were in no danger.” Noel’s features assumed such an expression of ferocity that the old fellow was almost afraid, and recoiled instinctively.

“He would have killed him,” thought he. “That which I have done for you this evening, my friend,” resumed the advocate, “I did for the viscount. I obviated, at least for the moment, the necessity of reading all of these hundred and fifty-six letters. I told him only to stop at those marked with a cross, and to carefully read the passages indicated with a red pencil.” “It was an abridgment of his penance,” remarked old Tabaret. “He was seated,” continued Noel, “before a little table, too fragile even to lean upon.

I was standing with my back to the fireplace in which a fire was burning. I followed his slightest movements; and I scanned his features closely. Never in my life have I seen so sad a spectacle, nor shall I forget it, if I live for a thousand years. In less than five minutes his face changed to such an extent that his own valet would not have recognized him.

He held his handkerchief in his hand, with which from time to time he mechanically wiped his lips. He grew paler and paler, and his lips became as white as his handkerchief. Large drops of sweat stood upon his forehead, and his eyes became dull and clouded, as if a film had covered them; but not an exclamation, not a sigh, not a groan, not even a gesture, escaped him. At one moment, I felt such pity for him that I was almost on the point of snatching the letters from his hands, throwing them into the fire and taking him in my arms, crying, ‘No, you are my brother! Forget all; let us remain as we are and love one another!’” M. Tabaret took Noel’s hand, and pressed it. “Ah!” he said, “I recognise my generous boy.” “If I have not done this, my friend, it is because I thought to myself, ‘Once these letters destroyed, would he recognise me as his brother?’” “Ah! very true.” “In about half an hour, he had finished reading; he arose, and facing me directly, said, ‘You are right, sir.

If these letters are really written by my father, as I believe them to be, they distinctly prove that I am not the son of the Countess de Commarin.’ I did not answer. ‘Meanwhile,’ continued he, ‘these are only presumptions. Are you possessed of other proofs?’ I expected, of course, a great many other objections. ‘Germain,’ said I, ‘can speak.’ He told me that Germain had been dead for several years. Then I spoke of the nurse, Widow Lerouge--I explained how easily she could be found and questioned, adding that she lived at La Jonchere.” “And what said he, Noel, to this?” asked old Tabaret anxiously. “He remained silent at first, and appeared to reflect. All on a sudden he struck his forehead, and said, ‘I remember; I know her. I have accompanied my father to her house three times, and in my presence he gave her a considerable sum of money.’ I remarked to him that this was yet another proof. He made no answer, but walked up and down the room.

At length he turned towards me, saying, ‘Sir, you know M. de Commarin’s legitimate son?’ I answered: ‘I am he.’ He bowed his head and murmured ‘I thought so.’ He then took my hand and added, ‘Brother, I bear you no ill will for this.’” “It seems to me,” remarked old Tabaret, “that he might have left that to you to say, and with more reason and justice.” “No, my friend, for he is more ill-used than I. I have not been lowered, for I did not know, whilst he! .” The old police agent nodded his head, he had to hide his thoughts, and they were stifling him. “At length,” resumed Noel, after a rather long pause, “I asked him what he proposed doing. ‘Listen,’ he said, ‘I expect my father in about eight or ten days.

You will allow me this delay. As soon as he returns I will have an explanation with him, and justice shall be done. Take back your letters and leave me to myself. This news has utterly overwhelmed me. In a moment I lose everything: a great name that I have always borne as worthily as possible, a magnificent position, an immense fortune, and, more than all that, perhaps, the woman who is dearer to me than life. In exchange, it is true, I shall find a mother.

We will console each other. And I will try, sir, to make her forget you, for she must love you, and will miss you.’” “Did he really say that?” “Almost word for word.” “Hypocrite!” growled the old fellow between his teeth. “What did you say?” asked Noel. “I say that he is a fine young man; and I shall be delighted to make his acquaintance.” “I did not show him the letter referring to the rupture,” added Noel; “it is best that he should ignore Madame Gerdy’s misconduct. I voluntarily deprived myself of this proof, rather than give him further pain.” “And now?” “What am I to do?

I am waiting the count’s return. I shall act more freely after hearing what he has to say. Tomorrow I shall ask permission to examine the papers belonging to Claudine. If I find the letters, I am saved; if not,--but, as I have told you, I have formed no plan since I heard of the assassination. Now, what do you advise?” “The briefest counsel demands long reflection,” replied the old fellow, who was in haste to depart. “Alas! my poor boy, what worry you have had!” “Terrible! and, in addition, I have pecuniary embarrassments.” “How! you who spend nothing?” “I have entered into various engagements. Can I now make use of Madame Gerdy’s fortune, which I have hitherto used as my own?

I think not.” “You certainly ought not to. I am glad you have spoken of this; you can render me a service. What is it?” “I have, locked up in my secretary, twelve or fifteen thousand francs, which trouble me exceedingly. You see, I am old, and not very brave, if any one heard I had this money--” “I fear I cannot--” commenced the advocate. “Nonsense!” said the old fellow. “To-morrow I will give them to you to take care of.” But remembering he was about to put himself at M. Daburon’s disposal, and that perhaps he might not be free on the morrow, he quickly added, “No, not to-morrow; but this very evening. This infernal money shall not remain another night in my keeping.” He hurried out, and presently reappeared, holding in his hand fifteen notes of a thousand francs each.

“If that is not sufficient,” said he, handing them to Noel, “you can have more.” “Anyhow,” replied the advocate, “I will give you a receipt for these.” “Oh! Time enough to-morrow.” “And if I die to-night?” “Then,” said the old fellow to himself, thinking of his will, “I shall still be your debtor. Good-night!” added he aloud. “You have asked my advice, I shall require the night for reflection. At present my brain is whirling; I must go into the air.

If I go to bed now, I am sure to have a horrible nightmare. Come, my boy; patience and courage.

Who knows whether at this very hour Providence is not working for you?” He went out, and Noel, leaving his door open, listened to the sound of his footsteps as he descended the stairs. Almost immediately the cry of, “Open, if you please,” and the banging of the door apprised him that M. Tabaret had gone out.

He waited a few minutes and refilled his lamp. Then he took a small packet from one of his bureau drawers, slipped into his pocket the bank notes lent him by his old friend, and left his study, the door of which he double-locked. On reaching the landing, he paused. He listened intently as though the sound of Madame Gerdy’s moans could reach him where he stood. Hearing nothing, he descended the stairs on tiptoe. A minute later, he was in the street. CHAPTER V. Included in Madame Gerdy’s lease was a coach-house, which was used by her as a lumber room.

Here were heaped together all the old rubbish of the household, broken pieces of furniture, utensils past service, articles become useless or cumbrous. It was also used to store the provision of wood and coal for the winter.

This old coach-house had a small door opening on the street, which had been in disuse for many years; but which Noel had had secretly repaired and provided with a lock. He could thus enter or leave the house at any hour without the concierge or any one else knowing. It was by this door that the advocate went out, though not without using the utmost caution in opening and closing it. Once in the street, he stood still a moment, as if hesitating which way to go. Lazare railway station, when a cab happening to pass, he hailed it. “Rue du Faubourg Montmarte, at the corner of the Rue de Provence,” said Noel, entering the vehicle, “and drive quick.” The advocate alighted at the spot named, and dismissed the cabman. When he had seen him drive off, Noel turned into the Rue de Provence, and, after walking a few yards, rang the bell of one of the handsomest houses in the street. The door was immediately opened. As Noel passed before him the concierge made a most respectful, and at the same time patronizing bow, one of those salutations which Parisian concierges reserve for their favorite tenants, generous mortals always ready to give. On reaching the second floor, the advocate paused, drew a key from his pocket, and opening the door facing him, entered as if at home.

But at the sound of the key in the lock, though very faint, a lady’s maid, rather young and pretty, with a bold pair of eyes, ran toward him. “Ah! This exclamation escaped her just loud enough to be audible at the extremity of the apartment, and serve as a signal if needed. It was as if she had cried, “Take care!” Noel did not seem to notice it.

“Madame is there?” asked he. “Yes, sir, and very angry too. This morning she wanted to send some one to you. A little while ago she spoke of going to find you, sir, herself. I have had much difficulty in prevailing on her not to disobey your orders.” “Very well,” said the advocate. “Madame is in the smoking room,” continued the girl “I am making her a cup of tea. Will you have one, sir?” “Yes,” replied Noel. “Show me a light, Charlotte.” He passed successively through a magnificent dining-room, a splendid gilded drawing-room in Louis XIV. style, and entered the smoking-room.

This was a rather large apartment with a very high ceiling. Once inside one might almost fancy oneself three thousand miles from Paris, in the house of some opulent mandarin of the celestial Empire. Furniture, carpet, hangings, pictures, all had evidently been imported direct from Hong Kong or Shanghai. A rich silk tapestry representing brilliantly coloured figures, covered the walls, and hid the doors from view. All the empire of the sun and moon was depicted thereon in vermillion landscapes: corpulent mandarins surrounded by their lantern-bearers; learned men lay stupefied with opium, sleeping under their parasols; young girls with elevated eyebrows, stumbled upon their diminutive feet swathed in bandages. The carpet of a manufacture unknown to Europeans, was strewn with fruits and flowers, so true to nature that they might have deceived a bee. Some great artist of Pekin had painted on the silk which covered the ceiling numerous fantastic birds, opening on azure ground their wings of purple and gold. Slender rods of lacquer, inlaid with mother of pearl, bordered the draperies, and marked the angles of the apartment. Two fantastic looking chests entirely occupied one side of the room.

Articles of furniture of capricious and incoherent forms, tables with porcelain tops, and chiffoniers of precious woods encumbered every recess or angle. There were also ornamental cabinets and shelves purchased of Lien-Tsi, the Tahan of Sou-Tcheou, the artistic city, and a thousand curiosities, both miscellaneous and costly, from the ivory sticks which are used instead of forks, to the porcelain teacups, thinner than soap bubbles,--miracles of the reign of Kien-Loung. A very large and very low divan piled up with cushions, covered with tapestry similar to the hangings, occupied one end of the room. There was no regular window, but instead a large single pane of glass, fixed into the wall of the house; in front of it was a double glass door with moveable panes, and the space between was filled with the most rare flowers. The grate was replaced by registers adroitly concealed, which maintained in the apartment a temperature fit for hatching silkworms, thus truly harmonising with the furniture. When Noel entered, a woman, still young, was reclining on the divan, smoking a cigarette. In spite of the tropical heat, she was enveloped in heavy Cashmere shawls. She was small, but then only small women can unite in their persons every perfection. Women who are above the medium height must be either essays, or errors of nature. No matter how lovely they may look, they invariably present some defect, like the work of a statuary, who, though possessed of genius, attempts for the first time sculpture on a grand scale.

She was small, but her neck, her shoulders, and her arms had the most exquisite contours. Her hands with their tapering fingers and rosy nails looked like jewels preciously cared for. Her feet, encased in silken stockings almost as thin as a spider’s-web, were a marvel; not that they recalled the very fabulous foot which Cinderella thrust into the glass slipper; but the other, very real, very celebrated and very palpable foot, of which the fair owner (the lovely wife of a well-known banker) used to present the model either in bronze or in marble to her numerous admirers.

Her face was, not beautiful, nor even pretty; but her features were such as one seldom forgets; for, at the first glance, they startled the beholder like a flash of lightning. Her forehead was a little high, and her mouth unmistakably large, notwithstanding the provoking freshness of her lips. Her eyebrows were so perfect they seem to have been drawn with India ink; but, unhappily the pencil had been used too heavily; and they gave her an unpleasant expression when she frowned. On the other hand, her smooth complexion had a rich golden pallor; and her black and velvety eyes possessed enormous magnetic power. Her teeth were of a pearly brilliancy and whiteness, and her hair, of prodigious opulence, was black and fine, and glossy as a raven’s wing. On perceiving Noel, as he pushed aside the silken hangings, she half arose and leaned upon her elbow. “So you have come at last?” she observed in a tone of vexation; “you are very kind.” The advocate felt almost suffocated by the oppressive temperature of the room. “How warm it is!” said he; “it is enough to stifle one!” “Do you find it so?” replied the young woman.

“Well, I am actually shivering! It is true though, that I am very unwell. Waiting is unbearable to me, it acts upon my nerves; and I have been waiting for you ever since yesterday.” “It was quite impossible for me to come,” explained Noel, “quite impossible!” “You knew, however,” continued the lady, “that to-day was my settling day; and that I had several heavy accounts to settle. The tradesmen all came, and I had not a half-penny to give them. The coachmaker sent his bill, but there was no money. Then that old rascal Clergot, to whom I had given an acceptance for three thousand francs, came and kicked up a frightful row. How pleasant all this is!” Noel bowed his head like a schoolboy rebuked for having neglected his lessons. “It is but one day behind,” he murmured.

“And that is nothing, is it?” retorted the young woman.

“A man who respects himself, my friend, may allow his own signature to be dishonoured, but never that of his mistress! Do you wish to destroy my credit altogether? You know very well that the only consideration I receive is what my money pays for. So as soon as I am unable to pay, it will be all up with me.” “My dear Juliette,” began the advocate gently.

that’s all very fine,” interrupted she. “Your dear Juliette!

your adored Juliette! so long as you are here it is really charming; but no sooner are you outside than you forget everything. Do you ever remember then that there is such a person as Juliette?” “How unjust you are!” replied Noel.

“Do you not know that I am always thinking of you; have I not proved it to you a thousand times?

I am going to prove it to you again this very instant.” He withdrew from his pocket the small packet he had taken out of his bureau drawer, and, undoing it, showed her a handsome velvet casket. “Here,” said he exultingly, “is the bracelet you longed for so much a week ago at Beaugrau’s.” Madame Juliette, without rising, held out her hand to take the casket, and, opening it with the utmost indifference, just glanced at the jewel, and merely said, “Ah!” “Is this the one you wanted?” asked Noel. “Yes, but it looked much prettier in the shop window.” She closed the casket, and threw it carelessly on to a small table near her. “I am unfortunate this evening,” said the advocate, much mortified.

“How so?” “I see plainly the bracelet does not please you.” “Oh, but it does. besides, it will complete the two dozen.” It was now Noel’s turn to say: “Ah! .” and as Juliette said nothing, he added: “Well, if you are pleased, you do not show it.” “Oh! so that is what you are driving at!” cried the lady. “I am not grateful enough to suit you! You bring me a present, and I ought at once to pay cash, fill the house with cries of joy, and throw myself upon my knees before you, calling you a great and magnificent lord!” Noel was unable this time to restrain a gesture of impatience, which Juliette perceived plainly enough, to her great delight. “Would that be sufficient?” continued she.

“Shall I call Charlotte, so that she may admire this superb bracelet, this monument of your generosity? Shall I have the concierge up, and call the cook to tell them how happy I am to possess such a magnificent lover.” The advocate shrugged his shoulders like a philosopher, incapable of noticing a child’s banter. “What is the use of these insulting jests?” said he. “If you have any real complaint against me, better to say so simply and seriously.” “Very well,” said Juliette, “let us be serious. And, that being so, I will tell you it would have been better to have forgotten the bracelet, and to have brought me last night or this morning the eight thousand francs I wanted.” “I could not come.” “You should have sent them; messengers are still to be found at the street-corners.” “If I neither brought nor sent them, my dear Juliette, it was because I did not have them. I had trouble enough in getting them promised me for to-morrow. If I have the sum this evening, I owe it to a chance upon which I could not have counted an hour ago; but by which I profited, at the risk of compromising myself.” “Poor man!” said Juliette, with an ironical touch of pity in her voice. “Do you dare to tell me you have had difficulty in obtaining ten thousand francs,--you?” “Yes,--I!” The young woman looked at her lover, and burst into a fit of laughter.

“You are really superb when you act the poor young man!” said she. “I am not acting.” “So you say, my own. But I see what you are aiming at. This amiable confession is the preface. To-morrow you will declare that your affairs are very much embarrassed, and the day after to-morrow. Ah!

you are becoming very avaricious.

It is a virtue you used not to possess.

Do you not already regret the money you have given me?” “Wretched woman!” murmured Noel, fast losing patience. “Really,” continued the lady, “I pity you, oh! Unfortunate lover!

Shall I get up a subscription for you? In your place, I would appeal to public charity.” Noel could stand it no longer, in spite of his resolution to remain calm. “You think it a laughing matter?” cried he. let me tell you, Juliette, I am ruined, and I have exhausted my last resources! I am reduced to expedients!” The eyes of the young woman brightened. She looked at her lover tenderly. “Oh, if ‘twas only true, my big pet!” said she. “If I only could believe you!” The advocate was wounded to the heart. “She believes me,” thought he; “and she is glad. She detests me.” He was mistaken.

The idea that a man had loved her sufficiently to ruin himself for her, without allowing even a reproach to escape him, filled this woman with joy. She felt herself on the point of loving the man, now poor and humbled, whom she had despised when rich and proud. But the expression of her eyes suddenly changed, “What a fool I am,” cried she, “I was on the point of believing all that, and of trying to console you. Don’t pretend that you are one of those gentlemen who scatter their money broadcast. Tell that to somebody else, my friend! All men in our days calculate like money-lenders. There are only a few fools who ruin themselves now, some conceited youngsters, and occasionally an amorous old dotard.

Well, you are a very calm, very grave, and very serious fellow, but above all, a very strong one.” “Not with you, anyhow,” murmured Noel. “Come now, stop that nonsense! You know very well what you are about. Instead of a heart, you have a great big double zero, just like a Homburg. When you took a fancy to me, you said to yourself, ‘I will expend so much on passion,’ and you have kept your word. It is an investment, like any other, in which one receives interest in the form of pleasure. You are capable of all the extravagance in the world, to the extent of your fixed price of four thousand francs a month! If it required a franc more you would very soon take back your heart and your hat, and carry them elsewhere; to one or other of my rivals in the neighborhood.” “It is true,” answered the advocate, coolly.

“I know how to count, and that accomplishment is very useful to me. It enables me to know exactly how and where I have got rid of my fortune.” “So you really know?” sneered Juliette. “And I can tell you, madam,” continued he. “At first you were not very exacting, but the appetite came with eating.

You wished for luxury, you have it; splendid furniture, you have it; a complete establishment, extravagant dresses, I could refuse you nothing. You required a carriage, a horse, I gave them you. And I do not mention a thousand other whims. I include neither this Chinese cabinet nor the two dozen bracelets. The total is four hundred thousand francs!” “Are you sure?” “As one can be who has had that amount, and has it no longer.” “Four hundred thousand francs, only fancy! Are there no centimes?” “No.” “Then, my dear friend, if I make up my bill, you will still owe me something.” The entrance of the maid with the tea-tray interrupted this amorous duet, of which Noel had experienced more than one repetition.

The advocate held his tongue on account of the servant. Juliette did the same on account of her lover, for she had no secrets from Charlotte, who had been with her three years, and with whom she had shared everything, sometimes even her lovers. Madame Juliette Chaffour was a Parisienne. She was born about 1839, somewhere in the upper end of the Faubourg Montmarte. Her father was unknown.

Her infancy was a long alternation of beatings and caresses, equally furious. She had lived as best she could, on sweetmeats and damaged fruit; so that now her stomach could stand anything. At twelve years old she was as thin as a nail, as green as a June apple, and more depraved than the inmates of the prison of St. Lazare. Prudhomme would have said that this precocious little hussy was totally destitute of morality. She had not the slightest idea what morality was. She thought the world was full of honest people living like her mother, and her mother’s friends. She feared neither God nor devil, but she was afraid of the police.

She dreaded also certain mysterious and cruel persons, whom she had heard spoken of, who dwell near the Palais de Justice, and who experience a malicious pleasure in seeing pretty girls in trouble. As she gave no promise of beauty, she was on the point of being placed in a shop, when an old and respectable gentleman, who had known her mamma some years previously, accorded her his protection. This old gentleman, prudent and provident like all old gentlemen, was a connoisseur, and knew that to reap one must sow. He resolved first of all to give his protege just a varnish of education. He procured masters for her, who in less than three years taught her to write, to play the piano, and to dance. What he did not procure her, however, was a lover. She therefore found one for herself, an artist who taught her nothing very new, but who carried her off to offer her half of what he possessed, that is to say nothing. At the end of three months, having had enough of it, she left the nest of her first love, with all she possessed tied up in a cotton pocket handkerchief.

During the four years which followed, she led a precarious existence, sometimes with little else to live upon but hope, which never wholly abandons a young girl who knows she has pretty eyes. By turns she sunk to the bottom, or rose to the surface of the stream in which she found herself. Twice had fortune in new gloves come knocking at her door, but she had not the sense to keep her. With the assistance of a strolling player, she had just appeared on the stage of a small theatre, and spoken her lines rather well, when Noel by chance met her, loved her, and made her his mistress. Her advocate, as she called him, did not displease her at first. After a few months, though, she could not bear him. She detested him for his polite and polished manners, his manly bearing, his distinguished air, his contempt, which he did not care to hide, for all that is low and vulgar, and, above all, for his unalterable patience, which nothing could tire. Her great complaint against him was that he was not at all funny, and also, that he absolutely declined to conduct her to those places where one can give a free vent to one’s spirits.

To amuse herself, she began to squander money; and her aversion for her lover increased at the same rate as her ambition and his sacrifices. She rendered him the most miserable of men, and treated him like a dog; and this not from any natural badness of disposition, but from principle. She was persuaded that a woman is beloved in proportion to the trouble she causes and the mischief she does. Juliette was not wicked, and she believed she had much to complain of. The dream of her life was to be loved in a way which she felt, but could scarcely have explained. She had never been to her lovers more than a plaything.

She understood this; and, as she was naturally proud, the idea enraged her. She dreamed of a man who would be devoted enough to make a real sacrifice for her, a lover who would descend to her level, instead of attempting to raise her to his. She despaired of ever meeting such a one. Noel’s extravagance left her as cold as ice. She believed he was very rich, and singularly, in spite of her greediness, she did not care much for money. Noel would have won her easier by a brutal frankness that would have shown her clearly his situation. He lost her love by the delicacy of his dissimulation, that left her ignorant of the sacrifices he was making for her. Noel adored Juliette. Until the fatal day he saw her, he had lived like a sage.

This, his first passion, burned him up; and, from the disaster, he saved only appearances. The four walls remained standing, but the interior of the edifice was destroyed. Even heroes have their vulnerable parts, Achilles died from a wound in the heel. The most artfully constructed armour has a flaw somewhere. Noel was assailable by means of Juliette, and through her was at the mercy of everything and every one. In four years, this model young man, this advocate of immaculate reputation, this austere moralist, had squandered not only his own fortune on her, but Madame Gerdy’s also. He loved her madly, without reflection, without measure, with his eyes shut.

At her side, he forgot all prudence, and thought out loud. In her boudoir, he dropped his mask of habitual dissimulation, and his vices displayed themselves, at ease, as his limbs in a bath. He felt himself so powerless against her, that he never essayed to struggle. Once or twice he attempted to firmly oppose her ruinous caprices; but she had made him pliable as the osier. Under the dark glances of this girl, his strongest resolutions melted more quickly than snow beneath an April sun. She tortured him; but she had also the power to make him forget all by a smile, a tear, or a kiss. Away from the enchantress, reason returned at intervals, and, in his lucid moments, he said to himself, “She does not love me. She is amusing herself at my expense!” But the belief in her love had taken such deep root in his heart that he could not pluck it forth. He made himself a monster of jealousy, and then argued with himself respecting her fidelity.

On several occasions he had strong reasons to doubt her constancy, but he never had the courage to declare his suspicions. “If I am not mistaken, I shall either have to leave her,” thought he, “or accept everything in the future.” At the idea of a separation from Juliette, he trembled, and felt his passion strong enough to compel him to submit to the lowest indignity. He preferred even these heartbreaking doubts to a still more dreadful certainty. The presence of the maid who took a considerable time in arranging the tea-table gave Noel an opportunity to recover himself. He looked at Juliette; and his anger took flight. Already he began to ask himself if he had not been a little cruel to her. When Charlotte retired, he came and took a seat on the divan beside his mistress, and attempted to put his arms round her. “Come,” said he in a caressing tone, “you have been angry enough for this evening.

If I have done wrong, you have punished me sufficiently. Kiss me, and make it up.” She repulsed him angrily, and said in a dry tone,--“Let me alone! How many times must I tell you that I am very unwell this evening.” “You suffer, my love?” resumed the advocate, “where? Shall I send for the doctor?” “There is no need. I know the nature of my malady; it is called ennui.

You are not at all the doctor who could do anything for me.” Noel rose with a discouraged air, and took his place at the side of the tea-table, facing her. His resignation bespoke how habituated he had become to these rebuffs. Juliette snubbed him; but he returned always, like the poor dog who lies in wait all day for the time when his caresses will not be inopportune. “You have told me very often during the last few months, that I bother you. What have I done?” he asked. “Nothing.” “Well, then, why--?” “My life is nothing more than a continual yawn,” answered the young woman; “is it my fault? Do you think it very amusing to be your mistress? Look at yourself. Does there exist another being as sad, as dull as you, more uneasy, more suspicious, devoured by a greater jealousy!” “Your reception of me, my dear Juliette,” ventured Noel “is enough to extinguish gaiety and freeze all effusion.

Then one always fears when one loves!” “Really! Then one should seek a woman to suit oneself, or have her made to order; shut her up in the cellar, and have her brought upstairs once a day, at the end of dinner, during dessert, or with the champagne just by way of amusement.” “I should have done better not to have come,” murmured the advocate. I am to remain alone here, without anything to occupy me except a cigarette and a stupid book, that I go to sleep over? Do you call this an existence, never to budge out of the house even?” “It is the life of all the respectable women that I know,” replied the advocate drily. “Then I cannot compliment them on their enjoyment. Happily, though, I am not a respectable woman, and I can tell you I am tired of living more closely shut up than the wife of a Turk, with your face for sole amusement.” “You live shut up, you?” “Certainly!” continued Juliette, with increased bitterness. “Come, have you ever brought one of your friends here? When have you offered me your arm for a walk? Never, your dignity would be sullied, if you were seen in my company. I have a carriage.

Have you entered it half a dozen times? Perhaps; but then you let down the blinds! I go out alone.

I walk about alone!” “Always the same refrain,” interrupted Noel, anger getting the better of him, “always these uncalled for complaints. As though you had still to learn the reason why this state of things exists.” “I know well enough,” pursued the young woman, “that you are ashamed of me. Yet I know many bigger swells then you, who do not mind being seen with their mistresses. My lord trembles for his fine name of Gerdy that I might sully, while the sons of the most noble families are not afraid of showing themselves in public places in the company of the stupidest of kept women.” At last Noel could stand it no longer, to the great delight of Madame Chaffour. “Enough of these recriminations!” cried he, rising. “If I hide our relations, it is because I am constrained to do so.

Of what do you complain?

You have unrestrained liberty; and you use it, too, and so largely that your actions altogether escape me. You accuse me of creating a vacuum around you. Who is to blame? Did I grow tired of a happy and quiet existence? My friends would have come to see us in a home in accordance with a modest competence. Can I bring them here? On seeing all this luxury, this insolent display of my folly, they would ask each other where I obtained all the money I have spent on you.

I may have a mistress, but I have not the right to squander a fortune that does not belong to me. If my acquaintances learnt to-morrow that it is I who keep you, my future prospects would be destroyed. What client would confide his interests to the imbecile who ruined himself for the woman who has been the talk of all Paris? I am not a great lord, I have neither an historical name to tarnish, nor an immense fortune to lose. I am plain Noel Gerdy, a advocate. My reputation is all that I possess. It is a false one, I admit.

Such as it is, however, I must keep it, and I will keep it.” Juliette who knew her Noel thoroughly, saw that she had gone far enough. She determined, therefore, to put him in a good humor again. “My friend,” said she, tenderly, “I did not wish to cause you pain. You must be indulgent, I am so horribly nervous this evening.” This sudden change delighted the advocate, and almost sufficed to calm his anger.

“You will drive me mad with your injustice,” said he. “While I exhaust my imagination to find what can be agreeable to you, you are perpetually attacking my gravity; yet it is not forty-eight hours since we were plunged in all the gaiety of the carnival. I kept the fete of Shrove Tuesday like a student. We went to a theatre; I then put on a domino, and accompanied you to the ball at the opera, and even invited two of my friends to sup with us.” “It was very gay indeed!” answered the young woman, making a wry face. Then you are not hard to please. We went to the Vaudeville, it is true, but separately, as we always do, I alone above, you below. At the ball you looked as though you were burying the devil. At the supper table your friends were as melancholy as a pair of owls.

I obeyed your orders by affecting hardly to know you.

You imbibed like a sponge, without my being able to tell whether you were drunk or not.” “That proves,” interrupted Noel, “that we ought not to force our tastes. Let us talk of something else.” He took a few steps in the room, then looking at his watch said: “Almost one o’clock; my love, I must leave you.” “What! you are not going to remain?” “No, to my great regret; my mother is dangerously ill.” He unfolded and counted out on the table the bank notes he had received from old Tabaret. “My little Juliette,” said he, “here are not eight thousand francs, but ten thousand. You will not see me again for a few days.” “Are you leaving Paris, then?” “No; but my entire time will be absorbed by an affair of immense importance to myself. If I succeed in my undertaking, my dear, our future happiness is assured, and you will then see whether I love you!” “Oh, my dear Noel, tell me what it is.” “I cannot now.” “Tell me I beseech you,” pleaded the young woman, hanging round his neck, raising herself upon the tips of her toes to press her lips to his. The advocate embraced her; and his resolution seemed to waver. “No,” said he at length, “seriously I cannot. Of what use to awaken in you hopes which can never be realized? Now, my darling, listen to me.

Whatever may happen, understand, you must under no pretext whatever again come to my house, as you once had the imprudence to do. By disobeying, you may do me an irreparable injury. If any accident occurs, send that old rascal Clergot to me. I shall have a visit from him the day after to-morrow, for he holds some bills of mine.” Juliette recoiled, menacing Noel with a mutinous gesture. “You will not tell me anything?” insisted she.

“Not this evening, but very soon,” replied the advocate, embarrassed by the piercing glance of his mistress. “Always some mystery!” cried Juliette, piqued at the want of success attending her blandishments. “This will be the last, I swear to you!” “Noel, my good man,” said the young woman in a serious tone, “you are hiding something from me. I understand you, as you know; for several days past there has been something or other the matter with you, you have completely changed.” “I swear to you, Juliette--” “No, swear nothing; I should not believe you. Only remember, no attempt at deceiving me, I forewarn you. I am a woman capable of revenge.” The advocate was evidently ill at ease.

“The affair in question,” stammered he, “can as well fail as succeed.” “Enough,” interrupted Juliette; “your will shall be obeyed. I promise that. I am going to bed.” The door was hardly shut upon Noel when Charlotte was installed on the divan near her mistress. Had the advocate been listening at the door, he might have heard Madame Juliette saying, “No, really, I can no longer endure him. What a bore he is, my girl. Ah! if I was not so afraid of him, wouldn’t I leave him at once? But he is capable of killing me!” The girl vainly tried to defend Noel; but her mistress did not listen. She murmured, “Why does he absent himself, and what is he plotting? An absence of eight days is suspicious.

Can he by any chance intend to be married? Ah! You weary me to death, my good Noel, and I am determined to leave you to yourself one of these fine mornings; but I cannot permit you to quit me first. Supposing he is going to get married? But I will not allow it. I must make inquiries.” Noel, however, was not listening at the door.

He went along the Rue de Provence as quickly as possible, gained the Rue St. Lazare, and entered the house as he had departed, by the stable door. He had but just sat down in his study, when the servant knocked. “Sir,” cried she, “in heaven’s name answer me!” He opened the door and said impatiently, “What is it?” “Sir,” stammered the girl in tears, “this is the third time I have knocked, and you have not answered. I am afraid madame is dying!” He followed her to Madame Gerdy’s room. He must have found the poor woman terribly changed, for he could not restrain a movement of terror. The invalid struggled painfully beneath her coverings. Her face was of a livid paleness, as though there was not a drop of blood left in her veins; and her eyes, which glittered with a sombre light, seemed filled with a fine dust.

Her hair, loose and disordered, falling over her cheeks and upon her shoulders, contributed to her wild appearance. She uttered from time to time a groan hardly audible, or murmured unintelligible words. At times, a fiercer pang than the former ones forced a cry of anguish from her. “You see, sir,” said the servant. Who would have supposed her malady could advance so rapidly? Herve’s, tell him to get up, and to come at once, tell him it is for me.” And he seated himself in an arm-chair, facing the suffering woman. Herve was one of Noel’s friends, an old school-fellow, and the companion of his student days. The doctor’s history differed in nothing from that of most young men, who, without fortune, friends, or influence, enter upon the practice of the most difficult, the most hazardous of professions that exist in Paris, where one sees so many talented young doctors forced, to earn their bread, to place themselves at the disposition of infamous drug vendors. A man of remarkable courage and self-reliance, Herve, his studies over, said to himself, “No, I will not go and bury myself in the country, I will remain in Paris, I will there become celebrated. I shall be surgeon-in-chief of an hospital, and a knight of the Legion of Honour.” To enter upon this path of thorns, leading to a magnificent triumphal arch, the future academician ran himself twenty thousand francs in debt to furnish a small apartment.

Here, armed with a patience which nothing could fatigue, an iron resolution that nothing could subdue, he struggled and waited. Only those who have experienced it can understand what sufferings are endured by the poor, proud man, who waits in a black coat, freshly shaven, with smiling lips, while he is starving of hunger! The refinements of civilization have inaugurated punishments which put in the shade the cruelties of the savage.

The unknown physician must begin by attending the poor who cannot pay him. Sometimes too the patient is ungrateful. He is profuse in promises whilst in danger; but, when cured, he scorns the doctor, and forgets to pay him his fee. After seven years of heroic perseverance, Herve has secured at last a circle of patients who pay him. During this he lived and paid the exorbitant interest of his debt, but he is getting on. Three or four pamphlets, and a prize won without much intrigue, have attracted public attention to him.

But he is no longer the brave young enthusiast, full of the faith and hope that attended him on his first visits. He still wishes, and more than ever, to acquire distinction, but he no longer expects any pleasure from his success. He used up that feeling in the days when he had not wherewith to pay for his dinner.

No matter how great his fortune may be in the days to come, he has already paid too dearly for it. For him future success is only a kind of revenge. Less than thirty-five years old, he is already sick of the world, and believes in nothing. Under the appearance of universal benevolence he conceals universal scorn. His finesse, sharpened by the grindstone of adversity, has become mischievous. And, while he sees through all disguises worn by others, he hides his penetration carefully under a mask of cheerful good nature and jovialness. But he is kind, he loves his friends, and is devoted to them. He arrived, hardly dressed, so great had been his haste. His first words on entering were, “What is the matter?” Noel pressed his hand in silence, and by way of answer, pointed to the bed.

In less than a minute, the doctor seized the lamp, examined the sick woman, and returned to his friend.

“What has happened?” he asked sharply.

“It is necessary I should know.” The advocate started at the question. “Know what?” stammered he. “Everything!” answered Herve. “She is suffering from inflammation of the brain. There is no mistaking that. It is by no means a common complaint, in spite of the constant working of that organ.

What can have caused it? There appears to be no injury to the brain or its bony covering, the mischief, then, must have been caused by some violent emotion, a great grief, some unexpected catastrophe. .” Noel interrupted his friend by a gesture, and drew him into the embrasure of the window. “Yes, my friend,” said he in a low tone, “Madame Gerdy has experienced great mental suffering, she has been frightfully tortured by remorse. I will confide our secret to your honour and your friendship. Madame Gerdy is not my mother; she despoiled me, to enrich her son with my fortune and my name. Three weeks ago I discovered this unworthy fraud; she knows it, and the consequences terrify her. Ever since, she has been dying minute by minute.” The advocate expected some exclamations of astonishment, and a host of questions from his friend; but the doctor received the explanation without remark, as a simple statement, indispensable to his understanding the case. “Three weeks,” he murmured; “then, that explains everything.

Has she appeared to suffer much during the time?” “She complained of violent headaches, dimness of sight, and intolerable pains in her ears, she attributed all that though to megrims. Do not, however, conceal anything from me, Herve; is her complaint very serious?” “So serious, my friend, so invariably fatal, that I am almost undertaking a hopeless task in attempting a cure.” “Ah! good heaven!” “You asked for the truth, and I have told it you. If I had that courage, it was because you told me this poor woman is not your mother. Nothing short of a miracle can save her; but this miracle we may hope and prepare for. And now to work!” CHAPTER VI.

Lazare terminus was striking eleven as old Tabaret, after shaking hands with Noel, left his house, still bewildered by what he had just heard. Obliged to restrain himself at the time, he now fully appreciated his liberty of action. It was with an unsteady gait that he took his first steps in the street, like the toper, who, after being shut up in a warm room, suddenly goes out into the open air. He was beaming with pleasure, but at the same time felt rather giddy, from that rapid succession of unexpected revelations, which, so he thought, had suddenly placed him in possession of the truth.

Notwithstanding his haste to arrive at M. Daburon’s he did not take a cab. He felt the necessity of walking. He was one of those who require exercise to see things clearly. When he moved about his ideas fitted and classified themselves in his brain, like grains of wheat when shaken in a bushel.

Without hastening his pace, he reached the Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin, crossed the Boulevard with its resplendent cafes, and turned to the Rue Richelieu. He walked along, unconscious of external objects, tripping and stumbling over the inequalities of the sidewalk, or slipping on the greasy pavement. If he followed the proper road, it was a purely mechanical impulse that guided him. His mind was wandering at random through the field of probabilities, and following in the darkness the mysterious thread, the almost imperceptible end of which he had seized at La Jonchere.

Like all persons labouring under strong emotion without knowing it, he talked aloud, little thinking into what indiscreet ears his exclamations and disjointed phrases might fall.

At every step, we meet in Paris people babbling to themselves, and unconsciously confiding to the four winds of heaven their dearest secrets, like cracked vases that allow their contents to steal away. Often the passers-by mistake these eccentric monologuists for lunatics. Sometimes the curious follow them, and amuse themselves by receiving these strange confidences. It was an indiscretion of this kind which told the ruin of Riscara the rich banker. Lambreth, the assassin of the Rue de Venise, betrayed himself in a similar manner. “What luck!” exclaimed old Tabaret. “What an incredible piece of good fortune! Gevrol may dispute it if he likes, but after all, chance is the cleverest agent of the police. Who would have imagined such a history? I was not, however, very far from the reality.

I guessed there was a child in the case. But who would have dreamed of a substitution?--an old sensational effect, that playwrights no longer dare make use of.

This is a striking example of the danger of following preconceived ideas in police investigation.

We are affrighted at unlikelihood; and, as in this case, the greatest unlikelihood often proves to be the truth. We retire before the absurd, and it is the absurd that we should examine. I would not take a thousand crowns for what I have learnt this evening.

I shall kill two birds with one stone. I deliver up the criminal; and I give Noel a hearty lift up to recover his title and his fortune. There, at least; is one who deserves what he will get. For once I shall not be sorry to see a lad get on, who has been brought up in the school of adversity. But, pshaw! he will be like all the rest. Prosperity will turn his brain.

Already he begins to prate of his ancestors. Poor humanity he almost made me laugh.

A woman to whom I would have given absolution without waiting to hear her confess. When I think that I was on the point of proposing to her, ready to marry her! B-r-r-r!” At this thought, the old fellow shivered. He saw himself married, and all on a sudden, discovering the antecedents of Madame Tabaret, becoming mixed up with a scandalous prosecution, compromised, and rendered ridiculous. “When I think,” he continued, “that my worthy Gevrol is running after the man with the earrings! Travel is a good thing for youth. He will wish me dead. But I don’t care. If any one wishes to do me an injury, M.

Daburon will protect me. Ah! there is one to whom I am going to do a good turn. I can see him now, opening his eyes like saucers, when I say to him, ‘I have the rascal!’ He can boast of owing me something.

This investigation will bring him honour, or justice is not justice. He will, at least, be made an officer of the Legion of Honour. If he is asleep, I am going to give him an agreeable awaking. He will want to know everything at once.” Old Tabaret, who was now crossing the Pont des Saints-Peres, stopped suddenly. “But the details!” said he.

I have none. I only know the bare facts.” He resumed his walk, and continued, “They are right at the office, I am too enthusiastic; I jump at conclusions, as Gevrol says. When I was with Noel, I should have cross-examined him, got hold of a quantity of useful details; but I did not even think of doing so. I drank in his words. I would have had him tell the story in a sentence. All the same, it is but natural; when one is pursuing a stag, one does not stop to shoot a blackbird.

But I see very well now, I did not draw him out enough. On the other hand, by questioning him more, I might have awakened suspicions in Noel’s mind, and led him to discover that I am working for the Rue de Jerusalem. To be sure, I do not blush for my connection with the police, I am even vain of it; but at the same time, I prefer that no one should know of it. People are so stupid, that they detest the police, who protect them; I must be calm and on my best behaviour, for here I am at the end of my journey.” M.

Daburon had just gone to bed, but had given orders to his servant; so that M. Tabaret had but to give his name, to be at once conducted to the magistrate’s sleeping apartment. At sight of his amateur detective, M. Daburon raised himself in his bed, saying, “There is something extraordinary! What have you discovered?

have you got a clue?” “Better than that,” answered the old fellow, smiling with pleasure.

“Speak quickly!” “I know the culprit!” Old Tabaret ought to have been satisfied; he certainly produced an effect. The magistrate bounded in his bed. “Already!” said he. “Is it possible?” “I have the honour to repeat to you, sir,” resumed the old fellow, “that I know the author of the crime of La Jonchere.” “And I,” said M. Daburon, “I proclaim you the greatest of all detectives, past or future. I shall certainly never hereafter undertake an investigation without your assistance.” “You are too kind, sir. I have had little or nothing to do in the matter. The discovery is due to chance alone.” “You are modest, M. Tabaret.

Chance assists only the clever, and it is that which annoys the stupid. But I beg you will be seated and proceed.” Then with the lucidness and precision of which few would have believed him capable, the old fellow repeated to the magistrate all that he had learned from Noel. He quoted from memory the extracts from the letters, almost without changing a word. “These letters,” added he, “I have seen; and I have even taken one, in order to verify the writing. Here it is.” “Yes,” murmured the magistrate--“Yes, M.

Tabaret, you have discovered the criminal. The evidence is palpable, even to the blind. Heaven has willed this. The great sin of the father has made the son an assassin.” “I have not given you the names, sir,” resumed old Tabaret. “I wished first to hear your opinion.” “Oh! you can name them,” interrupted M. Daburon with a certain degree of animation, “no matter how high he may have to strike, a French magistrate has never hesitated.” “I know it, sir, but we are going very high this time.

The father who has sacrificed his legitimate son for the sake of his bastard is Count Rheteau de Commarin, and the assassin of Widow Lerouge is the bastard, Viscount Albert de Commarin!” M. Tabaret, like an accomplished artist, had uttered these words slowly, and with a deliberate emphasis, confidently expecting to produce a great impression. His expectation was more than realized. Daburon was struck with stupor. He remained motionless, his eyes dilated with astonishment. Mechanically he repeated like a word without meaning which he was trying to impress upon his memory: “Albert de Commarin! Albert de Commarin!” “Yes,” insisted old Tabaret, “the noble viscount.

It is incredible, I know.” But he perceived the alteration in the magistrate’s face, and a little frightened, he approached the bed. “Are you unwell, sir?” he asked. “No,” answered M. Daburon, without exactly knowing what he said.

“I am very well; but the surprise, the emotion,--” “I understand that,” said the old fellow. I should like to be alone a few minutes. Do not leave the house though; we must converse at some length on this business. Kindly pass into my study, there ought still to be a fire burning there. Daburon slowly got out of bed, put on a dressing gown, and seated himself, or rather fell, into an armchair. His face, to which in the exercise of his austere functions he had managed to give the immobility of marble, reflected the most cruel agitation; while his eyes betrayed the inward agony of his soul. The name of Commarin, so unexpectedly pronounced, awakened in him the most sorrowful recollections, and tore open a wound but badly healed. This name recalled to him an event which had rudely extinguished his youth and spoilt his life. Involuntarily, he carried his thoughts back to this epoch, so as to taste again all its bitterness.

An hour ago, it had seemed to him far removed, and already hidden in the mists of the past; one word had sufficed to recall it, clear and distinct. It seemed to him now that this event, in which the name of Albert de Commarin was mixed up, dated from yesterday.

In reality nearly two years elapsed since. Pierre-Marie Daburon belonged to one of the oldest families of Poitou. Three or four of his ancestors had filled successively the most important positions in the province. Why, then, had they not bequeathed a title and a coat of arms to their descendants? The magistrate’s father possesses, round about the ugly modern chateau which he inhabits, more than eight hundred thousand francs’ worth of the most valuable land. By his mother, a Cottevise-Luxe, he is related to the highest nobility of Poitou, one of the most exclusive that exists in France, as every one knows.

When he received his nomination in Paris, his relationship caused him to be received at once by five or six aristocratic families, and it was not long before he extended his circle of acquaintance. He possessed, however, none of the qualifications which ensure social success. He was cold and grave even to sadness, reserved and timid even to excess. His mind wanted brilliancy and lightness; he lacked the facility of repartee, and the amiable art of conversing without a subject; he could neither tell a lie, nor pay an insipid compliment. Like most men who feel deeply, he was unable to interpret his impressions immediately. He required to reflect and consider within himself. However, he was sought after for more solid qualities than these: for the nobleness of his sentiments, his pleasant disposition, and the certainty of his connections.

Those who knew him intimately quickly learned to esteem his sound judgment, his keen sense of honour, and to discover under his cold exterior a warm heart, an excessive sensibility, and a delicacy almost feminine. In a word, although he might be eclipsed in a room full of strangers or simpletons, he charmed all hearts in a smaller circle, where he felt warmed by an atmosphere of sympathy. He accustomed himself to go about a great deal.

He reasoned, wisely perhaps, that a magistrate can make better use of his time than by remaining shut up in his study, in company with books of law. He thought that a man called upon to judge others, ought to know them, and for that purpose study them. An attentive and discreet observer, he examined the play of human interests and passions, exercised himself in disentangling and manoeuvring at need the strings of the puppets he saw moving around him. Piece by piece, so to say, he laboured to comprehend the working of the complicated machine called society, of which he was charged to overlook the movements, regulate the springs, and keep the wheels in order. And on a sudden, in the early part of the winter of 1860 and 1861, M. Daburon disappeared.

His friends sought for him, but he was nowhere to be met with. What could he be doing?

Inquiry resulted in the discovery that he passed nearly all his evenings at the house of the Marchioness d’Arlange.

The surprise was as great as it was natural.

This dear marchioness was, or rather is,--for she is still in the land of the living,--a personage whom one would consider rather out of date. She is surely the most singular legacy bequeathed us by the eighteenth century. How, and by what marvellous process she had been preserved such as we see her, it is impossible to say. Listening to her, you would swear that she was yesterday at one of those parties given by the queen where cards and high stakes were the rule, much to the annoyance of Louis XIV., and where the great ladies cheated openly in emulation of each other. Manners, language, habits, almost costume, she has preserved everything belonging to that period about which authors have written only to display the defects. Her appearance alone will tell more than an exhaustive article, and an hour’s conversation with her, more than a volume.

She was born in a little principality, where her parents had taken refuge whilst awaiting the chastisements and repentance of an erring and rebellious people. She had been brought up amongst the old nobles of the emigration, in some very ancient and very gilded apartment, just as though she had been in a cabinet of curiosities. Her mind had awakened amid the hum of antediluvian conversations, her imagination had first been aroused by arguments a little less profitable than those of an assembly of deaf persons convoked to decide upon the merits of the work of some distinguished musician. Here she imbibed a fund of ideas, which, applied to the forms of society of to-day, are as grotesque as would be those of a child shut up until twenty years of age in an Assyrian museum. The first empire, the restoration, the monarchy of July, the second republic, the second empire, have passed beneath her windows, but she has not taken the trouble to open them.

All that has happened since ‘89 she considers as never having been. For her it is a nightmare from which she is still awaiting a release. She has looked at everything, but then she looks through her own pretty glasses which show her everything as she would wish it, and which are to be obtained of dealers in illusions. Though over sixty-eight years old she is as straight as a poplar, and has never been ill.

She is vivacious, and active to excess, and can only keep still when asleep, or when playing her favorite game of piquet. She has her four meals a day, eats like a vintager, and takes her wine neat. She professes an undisguised contempt for the silly women of our century who live for a week on a partridge, and inundate with water grand sentiments which they entangle in long phrases. She has always been, and still is, very positive, and her word is prompt and easily understood. She never shrinks from using the most appropriate word to express her meaning. So much the worse, if some delicate ears object! She heartily detests hypocrisy.

She believes in God, but she believes also in M. de Voltaire, so that her devotion is, to say the least, problematical. However, she is on good terms with the curate of her parish, and is very particular about the arrangement of her dinner on the days she honours him with an invitation to her table. She seems to consider him a subaltern, very useful to her salvation, and capable of opening the gate of paradise for her. Such as she is, she is shunned like the plague.

Everybody dreads her loud voice, her terrible indiscretion, and the frankness of speech which she affects, in order to have the right of saying the most unpleasant things which pass through her head. Of all her family, there only remains her granddaughter, whose father died very young. Of a fortune originally large, and partly restored by the indemnity allowed by the government, but since administered in the most careless manner, she has only been able to preserve an income of twenty thousand francs, which diminishes day by day. She is, also, proprietor of the pretty little house which she inhabits, situated near the Invalides, between a rather narrow court-yard, and a very extensive garden. So circumstanced, she considers herself the most unfortunate of God’s creatures, and passes the greater part of her life complaining of her poverty. From time to time, especially after some exceptionally bad speculation, she confesses that what she fears most is to die in a pauper’s bed.

A friend of M. Daburon’s presented him one evening to the Marchioness d’Arlange, having dragged him to her house in a mirthful mood, saying, “Come with me, and I will show you a phenomenon, a ghost of the past in flesh and bone.” The marchioness rather puzzled the magistrate the first time he was admitted to her presence. On his second visit, she amused him very much; for which reason, he came again. But after a while she no longer amused him, though he still continued a faithful and constant visitor to the rose-coloured boudoir wherein she passed the greater part of her life. Madame d’Arlange conceived a violent friendship for him, and became eloquent in his praises. “A most charming young man,” she declared, “delicate and sensible! What a pity he is not born!” (Her ladyship meant born of noble parentage, but used the phrase as ignoring the fact of the unfortunates who are not noble having been born at all) “One can receive him though, all the same; his forefathers were very decent people, and his mother was a Cottevise who, however, went wrong.

I wish him well, and will do all I can to push him forward.” The strongest proof of friendship he received from her was, that she condescended to pronounce his name like the rest of the world. She had preserved that ridiculous affectation of forgetfulness of the names of people who were not of noble birth, and who in her opinion had no right to names. She was so confirmed in this habit, that, if by accident she pronounced such a name correctly, she immediately repeated it with some ludicrous alteration. Daburon was extremely amused at hearing his name altered every time she addressed him. Successively she made it Taburon, Dabiron, Maliron, Laliron, Laridon; but, in three months time, she called him Daburon as distinctly as if he had been a duke of something, and a lord of somewhere. Occasionally she exerted herself to prove to the worthy magistrate that he was a nobleman, or at least ought to be. She would have been happy, if she could have persuaded him to adopt some title, and have a helmet engraved upon his visiting cards.

“How is it possible,” said she, “that your ancestors, eminent, wealthy, and influential, never thought of being raised from the common herd and securing a title for their descendants? Today you would possess a presentable pedigree.--” “My ancestors were wise,” responded M. Daburon.

“They preferred being foremost among their fellow-citizens to becoming last among the nobles.” Upon which the marchioness explained, and proved to demonstration, that between the most influential and wealthy citizen and the smallest scion of nobility, there was an abyss that all the money in the world could not fill up. They who were so surprised at the frequency of the magistrate’s visits to this celebrated “relic of the past” did not know that lady’s granddaughter, or, at least, did not recollect her; she went out so seldom! The old marchioness did not care, so she said, to be bothered with a young spy who would be in her way when she related some of her choice anecdotes. Claire d’Arlange was just seventeen years old. She was extremely graceful and gentle in manner, and lovely in her natural innocence. She had a profusion of fine light brown hair, which fell in ringlets over her well-shaped neck and shoulders. Her figure was still rather slender; but her features recalled Guide’s most celestial faces. Her blue eyes, shaded by long lashes of a hue darker than her hair, had above all an adorable expression. A certain air of antiquity, the result of her association with her grandmother, added yet another charm to the young girl’s manner.

She had more sense, however, than her relative; and, as her education had not been neglected, she had imbibed pretty correct ideas of the world in which she lived. This education, these practical ideas, Claire owed to her governess, upon whose shoulders the marchioness had thrown the entire responsibility of cultivating her mind. This governess, Mademoiselle Schmidt, chosen at hazard, happened by the most fortunate chance to be both well informed and possessed of principle. She was, what is often met with on the other side of the Rhine, a woman at once romantic and practical, of the tenderest sensibility and the severest virtue. This good woman, while she carried her pupil into the land of sentimental phantasy and poetical imaginings, gave her at the same time the most practical instruction in matters relating to actual life. She revealed to Claire all the peculiarities of thought and manner that rendered her grandmother so ridiculous, and taught her to avoid them, but without ceasing to respect them.

Every evening, on arriving at Madame d’Arlange’s, M. Daburon was sure to find Claire seated beside her grandmother, and it was for that that he called. Whilst listening with an inattentive ear to the old lady’s rigmaroles and her interminable anecdotes of the emigration, he gazed upon Claire, as a fanatic upon his idol. Often in his ecstasy he forgot where he was for the moment and became absolutely oblivious of the old lady’s presence, although her shrill voice was piercing the tympanum of his ear like a needle. Then he would answer her at cross-purposes, committing the most singular blunders, which he labored afterwards to explain. But he need not have taken the trouble.

Madame d’Arlange did not perceive her courtier’s absence of mind; her questions were of such a length, that she did not care about the answers. Having a listener, she was satisfied, provided that from time to time he gave signs of life. When obliged to sit down to play piquet, he cursed below his breath the game and its detestable inventor.

He paid no attention to his cards. He made mistakes every moment, discarding what he should keep in and forgetting to cut.

The old lady was annoyed by these continual distractions, but she did scruple to profit by them. She looked at the discard, changed the cards which did not suit her, while she audaciously scored points she never made, and pocketed the money thus won without shame or remorse. Daburon’s timidity was extreme, and Claire was unsociable to excess, they therefore seldom spoke to each other. During the entire winter, the magistrate did not directly address the young girl ten times; and, on these rare occasions, he had learned mechanically by heart the phrase he proposed to repeat to her, well knowing that, without this precaution, he would most likely be unable to finish what he had to say. But at least he saw her, he breathed the same air with her, he heard her voice, whose pure and harmonious vibrations thrilled his very soul. By constantly watching her eyes, he learned to understand all their expressions. He believed he could read in them all her thoughts, and through them look into her soul like through an open window. “She is pleased to-day,” he would say to himself; and then he would be happy. At other times, he thought, “She has met with some annoyance to-day;” and immediately he became sad. The idea of asking for her hand many times presented itself to his imagination; but he never dared to entertain it.

Knowing, as he did, the marchioness’s prejudices, her devotion to titles, her dread of any approach to a misalliance, he was convinced she would shut his mouth at the first word by a very decided “no,” which she would maintain. To attempt the thing would be to risk, without a chance of success, his present happiness which he thought immense, for love lives upon its own misery. “Once repulsed,” thought he, “the house is shut against me; and then farewell to happiness, for life will end for me.” Upon the other hand, the very rational thought occurred to him that another might see Mademoiselle d’Arlange, love her, and, in consequence, ask for and obtain her. In either case, hazarding a proposal, or hesitating still, he must certainly lose her in the end. By the commencement of spring, his mind was made up. One fine afternoon, in the month of April, he bent his steps towards the residence of Madame d’Arlange, having truly need of more bravery than a soldier about to face a battery. He, like the soldier, whispered to himself, “Victory or death!” The marchioness who had gone out shortly after breakfast had just returned in a terrible rage, and was uttering screams like an eagle. This was what had taken place.

She had some work done by a neighboring painter some eight or ten months before; and the workman had presented himself a hundred times to receive payment, without avail. Tired of this proceeding, he had summoned the high and mighty Marchioness d’Arlange before the Justice of the Peace.

This summons had exasperated the marchioness; but she kept the matter to herself, having decided, in her wisdom, to call upon the judge and request him to reprimand the insolent painter who had dared to plague her for a paltry sum of money. The result of this fine project may be guessed. The judge had been compelled to eject her forcibly from his office; hence her fury. Daburon found her in the rose-colored boudoir half undressed, her hair in disorder, red as a peony, and surrounded by the debris of the glass and china which had fallen under her hands in the first moments of her passion. Unfortunately, too, Claire and her governess were gone out. A maid was occupied in inundating the old lady with all sorts of waters, in the hope of calming her nerves. She received Daburon as a messenger direct from Providence. In a little more than half an hour, she told her story, interlarded with numerous interjections and imprecations.

“He must be some frantic Jacobin,--some son of the furies, who washed their hands in the blood of their king. Ah!

my friend, I read stupor and indignation in your glance. He listened to the complaint of that impudent scoundrel whom I enabled to live by employing him! And when I addressed some severe remonstrances to this judge, as it was my duty to do, he had me turned out! Do you hear? turned out!” At this painful recollection, she made a menacing gesture with her arm. In her sudden movement, she struck a handsome scent bottle that her maid held in her hand. “Stupid, awkward fool!” cried the marchioness, venting her anger upon the frightened girl. Daburon, bewildered at first, now endeavored to calm her exasperation.

She did not allow him to pronounce three words. “Happily you are here,” she continued; “you are always willing to serve me, I know. you will exercise your influence, your powerful friends, your credit, to have this pitiful painter and this miscreant of a judge flung into some deep ditch, to teach them the respect due to a woman of my rank.” The magistrate did not permit himself even to smile at this imperative demand. He had heard many speeches as absurd issue from her lips without ever making fun of them. Was she not Claire’s grandmother?

for that alone he loved and venerated her. He blessed her for her granddaughter, as an admirer of nature blesses heaven for the wild flower that delights him with its perfume. The fury of the old lady was terrible; nor was it of short duration. At the end of an hour, however, she was, or appeared to be, pacified. They replaced her head-dress, repaired the disorder of her toilette, and picked up the fragments of broken glass and china.

Vanquished by her own violence, the reaction was immediate and complete. She fell back helpless and exhausted into an arm-chair. This magnificent result was due to the magistrate. To accomplish it, he had had to use all his ability, to exercise the most angelic patience, the greatest tact. His triumph was the more meritorious, because he came completely unprepared for this adventure, which interfered with his intended proposal. The first time that he had felt sufficient courage to speak, fortune seemed to declare against him, for this untoward event had quite upset his plans.

Arming himself, however, with his professional eloquence, he talked the old lady into calmness. He was not so foolish as to contradict her. On the contrary, he caressed her hobby. He was humorous and pathetic by turns. He attacked the authors of the revolution, cursed its errors, deplored its crimes, and almost wept over its disastrous results. Commencing with the infamous Marat he eventually reached the rascal of a judge who had offended her. He abused his scandalous conduct in good set terms, and was exceedingly severe upon the dishonest scamp of a painter.

However, he thought it best to let them off the punishment they so richly deserved; and ended by suggesting that it would perhaps be prudent, wise, noble even to pay.

The unfortunate word “pay” brought Madame d’Arlange to her feet in the fiercest attitude. “Pay!” she screamed. “In order that these scoundrels may persist in their obduracy!

Encourage them by a culpable weakness! Besides to pay one must have money! and I have none!” “Why!” said M. Daburon, “it amounts to but eighty-seven francs!” “And is that nothing?” asked the marchioness; “you talk very foolishly, my dear sir. It is easy to see that you have money; your ancestors were people of no rank; and the revolution passed a hundred feet above their heads. Who can tell whether they may not have been the gainers by it? It took all from the d’Arlanges. What will they do to me, if I do not pay?” “Well, madame, they can do many things; almost ruin you, in costs. They may seize your furniture.” “Alas!” cried the old lady, “the revolution is not ended yet.

We shall all be swallowed up by it, my poor Daburon! Ah! you are happy, you who belong to the people! I see plainly that I must pay this man without delay, and it is frightfully sad for me, for I have nothing, and am forced to make such sacrifices for the sake of my grandchild!” This statement surprised the magistrate so strongly that involuntarily he repeated half-aloud, “Sacrifices?” “Certainly!” resumed Madame d’Arlange. “Without her, would I have to live as I am doing, refusing myself everything to make both ends meet? Not a bit of it!

I would invest my fortune in a life annuity. But I know, thank heaven, the duties of a mother; and I economise all I can for my little Claire.” This devotion appeared so admirable to M. Daburon, that he could not utter a word. “Ah!

I am terribly anxious about this dear child,” continued the marchioness. Daburon, it makes me giddy when I wonder how I am to marry her.” The magistrate reddened with pleasure. At last his opportunity had arrived; he must take advantage of it at once. “It seems to me,” stammered he, “that to find Mademoiselle Claire a husband ought not to be difficult.” “Unfortunately, it is. She is pretty enough, I admit, although rather thin, but, now-a-days, beauty goes for nothing. Men are so mercenary they think only of money. I do not know of one who has the manhood to take a d’Arlange with her bright eyes for a dowry.” “I believe that you exaggerate,” remarked M. Daburon, timidly. “By no means.

Trust to my experience which is far greater than yours. Besides, when I find a son-in-law, he will cause me a thousand troubles. Of this, I am assured by my lawyer. I shall be compelled, it seems, to render an account of Claire’s patrimony. As if ever I kept accounts! It is shameful! Ah!

if Claire had any sense of filial duty, she would quietly take the veil in some convent. I would use every effort to pay the necessary dower; but she has no affection for me.” M. Daburon felt that now was the time to speak. He collected his courage, as a good horseman pulls his horse together when going to leap a hedge, and in a voice, which he tried to render firm, he said: “Well! Madame, I believe I know a party who would suit Mademoiselle Claire,--an honest man, who loves her, and who will do everything in the world to make her happy.” “That,” said Madame d’Arlange, “is always understood.” “The man of whom I speak,” continued the magistrate, “is still young, and is rich. He will be only too happy to receive Mademoiselle Claire without a dowry. Not only will he decline an examination of your accounts of guardianship, but he will beg you to invest your fortune as you think fit.” “Really! Daburon, my friend, you are by no means a fool!” exclaimed the old lady. “If you prefer not to invest your fortune in a life-annuity, your son-in-law will allow you sufficient to make up what you now find wanting.” “Ah!

really I am stifling,” interrupted the marchioness. “What! you know such a man, and have never yet mentioned him to me! You ought to have introduced him long ago.” “I did not dare, madame, I was afraid--” “Quick!

tell me who is this admirable son-in-law, this white blackbird?

where does he nestle?” The magistrate felt a strange fluttering of the heart; he was going to stake his happiness on a word. At length he stammered, “It is I, madame!” His voice, his look, his gesture were beseeching. He was surprised at his own audacity, frightened at having vanquished his timidity, and was on the point of falling at the old lady’s feet. She, however, laughed until the tears came into her eyes, then shrugging her shoulders, she said: “Really, dear Daburon is too ridiculous, he will make me die of laughing! He is so amusing!” After which she burst out laughing again.

But suddenly she stopped, in the very height of her merriment, and assumed her most dignified air. “Are you perfectly serious in all you have told me, M. Daburon?” she asked. “I have stated the truth,” murmured the magistrate. “You are then very rich?” “I inherited, madame, from my mother, about twenty thousand francs a year. One of my uncles, who died last year, bequeathed me over a hundred thousand crowns. My father is worth about a million. Were I to ask him for the half to-morrow, he would give it to me; he would give me all his fortune, if it were necessary to my happiness, and be but too well contented, should I leave him the administration of it.” Madame d’Arlange signed to him to be silent; and, for five good minutes at least, she remained plunged in reflection, her forehead resting in her hands. At length she raised her head.

“Listen,” said she. “Had you been so bold as to make this proposal to Claire’s father, he would have called his servants to show you the door. For the sake of our name I ought to do the same; but I cannot do so. I am old and desolate; I am poor; my grandchild’s prospects disquiet me; that is my excuse. I cannot, however, consent to speak to Claire of this horrible misalliance. What I can promise you, and that is too much, is that I will not be against you.

Take your own measures; pay your addresses to Mademoiselle d’Arlange, and try to persuade her. If she says ‘yes,’ of her own free will, I shall not say ‘no.’” M.

Daburon, transported with happiness, could almost have embraced the old lady. He thought her the best, the most excellent of women, not noticing the facility with which this proud spirit had been brought to yield. He was delirious, almost mad. “Wait!” said the old lady; “your cause is not yet gained. Your mother, it is true, was a Cottevise, and I must excuse her for marrying so wretchedly; but your father is simple M.

Daburon. This name, my dear friend, is simply ridiculous. Do you think it will be easy to make a Daburon of a young girl who for nearly eighteen years has been called d’Arlange?” This objection did not seem to trouble the magistrate. “After all,” continued the old lady, “your father gained a Cottevise, so you may win a d’Arlange. On the strength of marrying into noble families, the Daburons may perhaps end by ennobling themselves. One last piece of advice; you believe Claire to be just as she looks,--timid, sweet, obedient. Despite her innocent air, she is hardy, fierce, and obstinate as the marquis her father, who was worse than an Auvergne mule. Now you are warned.

Our conditions are agreed to, are they not? Let us say no more on the subject. I almost wish you to succeed.” This scene was so present to the magistrate’s mind, that as he sat at home in his arm-chair, though many months had passed since these events, he still seemed to hear the old lady’s voice, and the word “success” still sounded in his ears. He departed in triumph from the d’Arlange abode, which he had entered with a heart swelling with anxiety. He walked with his head erect, his chest dilated, and breathing the fresh air with the full strength of his lungs. He was so happy! The sky appeared to him more blue, the sun more brilliant. This grave magistrate felt a mad desire to stop the passers-by, to press them in his arms, to cry to them,--“Have you heard? The marchioness consents!” He walked, and the earth seemed to him to give way beneath his footsteps; it was either too small to carry so much happiness, or else he had become so light that he was going to fly away towards the stars. What castles in the air he built upon what Madame d’Arlange had said to him!

He would tender his resignation.

He would build on the banks of the Loire, not far from Tours, an enchanting little villa. He already saw it, with its facade to the rising sun, nestling in the midst of flowers, and shaded with wide-spreading trees. He furnished this dwelling in the most luxuriant style. He wished to provide a marvellous casket, worthy the pearl he was about to possess.

For he had not a doubt; not a cloud obscured the horizon made radiant by his hopes, no voice at the bottom of his heart raised itself to cry, “Beware!” From that day, his visits to the marchioness became more frequent. He might almost be said to live at her house.

While he preserved his respectful and reserved demeanour towards Claire, he strove assiduously to be something in her life. He learnt to overcome his timidity, to speak to the well-beloved of his soul, to encourage her to converse with him, to interest her.

He went in quest of all the news, to amuse her. He read all the new books, and brought to her all that were fit for her to read. Little by little he succeeded, thanks to the most delicate persistence, in taming this shy young girl.

He began to perceive that her fear of him had almost disappeared, that she no longer received him with the cold and haughty air which had previously kept him at a distance. He felt that he was insensibly gaining her confidence. She still blushed when she spoke to him; but she no longer hesitated to address the first word. She even ventured at times to ask him a question. If she had heard a play well spoken of and wished to know the subject, M. Daburon would at once go to see it, and commit a complete account of it to writing, which he would send her through the post. At times she intrusted him with trifling commissions, the execution of which he would not have exchanged for the Russian embassy. Once he ventured to send her a magnificent bouquet. She accepted it with an air of uneasy surprise, but begged him not to repeat the offering. The tears came to his eyes; he left her presence broken-hearted, and the unhappiest of men.

“She does not love me,” thought he, “she will never love me.” But, three days after, as he looked very sad, she begged him to procure her certain flowers, then very much in fashion, which she wished to place on her flower-stand. He sent enough to fill the house from the garret to the cellar. These events, so trifling but yet so great, had not interrupted the games of piquet; only the young girl now appeared to interest herself in the play, nearly always taking the magistrate’s side against the marchioness.

She did not understand the game very well; but, when the old gambler cheated too openly, she would notice it, and say, laughingly,--“She is robbing you, M.

Daburon,--she is robbing you!” He would willingly have been robbed of his entire fortune, to hear that sweet voice raised on his behalf.

It was summer time.

Often in the evening she accepted his arm, and, while the marchioness remained at the window, seated in her arm-chair, they walked around the lawn, treading lightly upon the paths spread with gravel sifted so fine that the trailing of her light dress effaced the traces of their footsteps. She chatted gaily with him, as with a beloved brother, while he was obliged to do violence to his feelings, to refrain from imprinting a kiss upon the little blonde head, from which the light breeze lifted the curls and scattered them like fleecy clouds. At such moments, he seemed to tread an enchanted path strewn with flowers, at the end of which appeared happiness. When he attempted to speak of his hopes to the marchioness, she would say: “You know what we agreed upon. Not a word.

Already does the voice of conscience reproach me for lending my countenance to such an abomination. To think that I may one day have a granddaughter calling herself Madame Daburon! You must petition the king, my friend, to change your name.” If instead of intoxicating himself with dreams of happiness, this acute observer had studied the character of his idol, the effect might have been to put him upon his guard. In the meanwhile, he noticed singular alterations in her humour. On certain days, she was gay and careless as a child.

Then, for a week, she would remain melancholy and dejected. Seeing her in this state the day following a ball, to which her grandmother had made a point of taking her, he dared to ask her the reason of her sadness. that,” answered she, heaving a deep sigh, “is my secret,--a secret of which even my grandmother knows nothing.” M. Daburon looked at her. He thought he saw a tear between her long eyelashes. “One day,” continued she, “I may confide in you: it will perhaps be necessary.” The magistrate was blind and deaf. “I also,” answered he, “have a secret, which I wish to confide to you in return.” When he retired towards midnight, he said to himself, “To-morrow I will confess everything to her.” Then passed a little more than fifty days, during which he kept repeating to himself,--“To-morrow!” It happened at last one evening in the month of August; the heat all day had been overpowering; towards dusk a breeze had risen, the leaves rustled; there were signs of a storm in the atmosphere.

They were seated together at the bottom of the garden, under the arbour, adorned with exotic plants, and, through the branches, they perceived the fluttering gown of the marchioness, who was taking a turn after her dinner.

They had remained a long time without speaking, enjoying the perfume of the flowers, the calm beauty of the evening. Daburon ventured to take the young girl’s hand. It was the first time, and the touch of her fine skin thrilled through every fibre of his frame, and drove the blood surging to his brain. “Mademoiselle,” stammered he, “Claire--” She turned towards him her beautiful eyes, filled with astonishment. I have spoken to your grandmother, before daring to raise my eyes to you.

Do you not understand me? A word from your lips will decide my future happiness or misery. Claire, mademoiselle, do not spurn me: I love you!” While the magistrate was speaking, Mademoiselle d’Arlange looked at him as though doubtful of the evidence of her senses; but at the words, “I love you!” pronounced with the trembling accents of the most devoted passion, she disengaged her hand sharply, and uttered a stifled cry. “You,” murmured she, “is this really you?” M. Daburon, at this the most critical moment of his life was powerless to utter a word. The presentiment of an immense misfortune oppressed his heart. What were then his feelings, when he saw Claire burst into tears. She hid her face in her hands, and kept repeating,-- “I am very unhappy, very unhappy!” “You unhappy?” exclaimed the magistrate at length, “and through me? Claire, you are cruel!

In heaven’s name, what have I done? What is the matter? Speak! Anything rather then this anxiety which is killing me.” He knelt before her on the gravelled walk, and again made an attempt to take her hand. She repulsed him with an imploring gesture. “Let me weep,” said she: “I suffer so much, you are going to hate me, I feel it. you will, perhaps, despise me, and yet I swear before heaven that I never expected what you have just said to me, that I had not even a suspicion of it!” M. Daburon remained upon his knees, awaiting his doom. “Yes,” continued Claire, “you will think you have been the victim of a detestable coquetry.

It is not possible, that, without a profound love, a man can be all that you have been to me.

Alas! I was but a child.

I gave myself up to the great happiness of having a friend! Am I not alone in the world, and as if lost in a desert? Silly and imprudent, I thoughtlessly confided in you, as in the best, the most indulgent of fathers.” These words revealed to the unfortunate magistrate the extent of his error. The same as a heavy hammer, they smashed into a thousand fragments the fragile edifice of his hopes. He raised himself slowly, and, in a tone of involuntary reproach, he repeated,--“Your father!” Mademoiselle d’Arlange felt how deeply she had wounded this man whose intense love she dare not even fathom. “Yes,” she resumed, “I love you as a father! Seeing you, usually so grave and austere, become for me so good, so indulgent, I thanked heaven for sending me a protector to replace those who are dead.” M. Daburon could not restrain a sob; his heart was breaking.

“One word,” continued Claire,--“one single word, would have enlightened me. It was with such happiness that I leant on you as a child on its mother; and with what inward joy I said to myself, ‘I am sure of one friend, of one heart into which runs the overflow of mine!’ Ah! why was not my confidence greater? I might have avoided this fearful calamity. I ought to have told you long since. I no longer belong to myself freely and with happiness, I have given my life to another.” To hover in the clouds, and suddenly to fall rudely to the earth, such was M. Daburon’s fate; his sufferings are not to be described.

“Far better to have spoken,” answered he; “yet no.

I owe to your silence, Claire, six months of delicious illusions, six months of enchanting dreams. This shall be my share of life’s happiness.” The last beams of closing day still enabled the magistrate to see Mademoiselle d’Arlange.

Her beautiful face had the whiteness and the immobility of marble. Heavy tears rolled silently down her cheeks. Daburon that he was beholding the frightful spectacle of a weeping statue. “You love another,” said he at length, “another! And your grandmother does not know it. Claire, you can only have chosen a man worthy of your love. How is it the marchioness does not receive him?” “There are certain obstacles,” murmured Claire, “obstacles which perhaps we may never be able to remove; but a girl like me can love but once.

She marries him she loves, or she belongs to heaven!” “Certain obstacles!” said M. Daburon in a hollow voice. “You love a man, he knows it, and he is stopped by obstacles?” “I am poor,” answered Mademoiselle d’Arlange, “and his family is immensely rich. His father is cruel, inexorable.” “His father,” cried the magistrate, with a bitterness he did not dream of hiding, “his father, his family, and that withholds him! You are poor, he is rich, and that stops him!

And yet he knows you love him! Ah! why am I not in his place? and why have I not the entire universe against me? What sacrifice can compare with love? such as I understand it. Nay, would it be a sacrifice? That which appears most so, is it not really an immense joy? To suffer, to struggle, to wait, to hope always, to devote oneself entirely to another; that is my idea of love.” “It is thus I love,” said Claire with simplicity. This answer crushed the magistrate.

He could understand it. He knew that for him there was no hope; but he felt a terrible enjoyment in torturing himself, and proving his misfortune by intense suffering. “But,” insisted he, “how have you known him, spoken to him?

Madame d’Arlange receives no one.” “I ought now to tell you everything, sir,” answered Claire proudly. “I have known him for a long time. It was at the house of one of my grandmother’s friends, who is a cousin of his,--old Mademoiselle Goello, that I saw him for the first time. There we spoke to each other; there we meet each other now.” “Ah!” exclaimed M. Daburon, whose eyes were suddenly opened, “I remember now. A few days before your visit to Mademoiselle Goello, you are gayer than usual; and, when you return, you are often sad.” “That is because I see how much he is pained by the obstacles he cannot overcome.” “Is his family, then, so illustrious,” asked the magistrate harshly, “that it disdains alliance with yours?” “I should have told you everything, without waiting to be questioned, sir,” answered Mademoiselle d’Arlange, “even his name.

He is called Albert de Commarin.” The marchioness at this moment, thinking she had walked enough, was preparing to return to her rose-coloured boudoir. She therefore approached the arbour, and exclaimed in her loud voice:-- “Worthy magistrate, piquet awaits you.” Mechanically the magistrate arose, stammering, “I am coming.” Claire held him back. “I have not asked you to keep my secret, sir,” said she. “O mademoiselle!” said M. Daburon, wounded by this appearance of doubt.

“I know,” resumed Claire, “that I can count upon you; but, come what will, my tranquillity is gone.” M.

Daburon looked at her with an air of surprise; his eyes questioned her. “It is certain,” continued she, “that what I, a young and inexperienced girl, have failed to see, has not passed unnoticed by my grandmother. That she has continued to receive you is a tacit encouragement of your addresses; which I consider, permit me to say, as very honourable to myself.” “I have already mentioned, mademoiselle,” replied the magistrate, “that the marchioness has deigned to authorise my hopes.” And briefly he related his interview with Madame d’Arlange, having the delicacy, however, to omit absolutely the question of money, which had so strongly influenced the old lady. “I see very plainly what effect this will have on my peace,” said Claire sadly. “When my grandmother learns that I have not received your homage, she will be very angry.” “You misjudge me, mademoiselle,” interrupted M.

Daburon. “I have nothing to say to the marchioness. I will retire, and all will be concluded. No doubt she will think that I have altered my mind!” “Oh! you are good and generous, I know!” “I will go away,” pursued M.

Daburon; “and soon you will have forgotten even the name of the unfortunate whose life’s hopes have just been shattered.” “You do not mean what you say,” said the young girl quickly. I cherish this last illusion, that later on you will remember me with pleasure. Sometimes you will say, ‘He loved me,’ I wish all the same to remain your friend, yes, your most devoted friend.” Claire, in her turn, clasped M. Daburon’s hands, and said with great emotion:--“Yes, you are right, you must remain my friend.

Let us forget what has happened, what you have said to-night, and remain to me, as in the past, the best, the most indulgent of brothers.” Darkness had come, and she could not see him; but she knew he was weeping, for he was slow to answer. “Is it possible,” murmured he at length, “what you ask of me? What! is it you who talk to me of forgetting? Do you not see that I love you a thousand times more than you love--” He stopped, unable to pronounce the name of Commarin; and then, with an effort he added: “And I shall love you always.” They had left the arbour, and were now standing not far from the steps leading to the house. “And now, mademoiselle,” resumed M. Daburon, “permit me to say, adieu!

You will see me again but seldom. I shall only return often enough to avoid the appearance of a rupture.” His voice trembled, so that it was with difficulty he made it distinct. “Whatever may happen,” he added, “remember that there is one unfortunate being in the world who belongs to you absolutely. If ever you have need of a friend’s devotion, come to me, come to your friend. I have courage. Claire, mademoiselle, for the last time, adieu!” She was but little less moved than he was.

Instinctively she approached him, and for the first and last time he touched lightly with his cold lips the forehead of her he loved so well. They mounted the steps, she leaning on his arm, and entered the rose-coloured boudoir where the marchioness was seated, impatiently shuffling the cards, while awaiting her victim. “Now, then, incorruptible magistrate,” cried she. Daburon felt sick at heart. He could not have held the cards. He stammered some absurd excuses, spoke of pressing affairs, of duties to be attended to, of feeling suddenly unwell, and went out, clinging to the walls.

His departure made the old card-player highly indignant. She turned to her grand-daughter, who had gone to hide her confusion away from the candles of the card table, and asked, “What is the matter with Daburon this evening?” “I do not know, madame,” stammered Claire. “It appears to me,” continued the marchioness, “that the little magistrate permits himself to take singular liberties. He must be reminded of his proper place, or he will end by believing himself our equal.” Claire tried to explain the magistrate’s conduct: “He has been complaining all the evening, grandmamma; perhaps he is unwell.” “And what if he is?” exclaimed the old lady. “Is it not his duty to exercise some self-denial, in return for the honour of our company? I think I have already related to you the story of your granduncle, the Duke de St Hurluge, who, having been chosen to join the king’s card party on their return from the chase, played all through the evening and lost with the best grace in the world two hundred and twenty pistoles. All the assembly remarked his gaiety and his good humour.

On the following day only it was learned, that, during the hunt, he had fallen from his horse, and had sat at his majesty’s card table with a broken rib. Nobody made any remark, so perfectly natural did this act of ordinary politeness appear in those days. This little Daburon, if he is unwell, would have given proof of his breeding by saying nothing about it, and remaining for my piquet. But he is as well as I am. Who can tell what games he has gone to play elsewhere!” CHAPTER VII. Daburon did not return home on leaving Mademoiselle d’Arlange. All through the night he wandered about at random, seeking to cool his heated brow, and to allay his excessive weariness. “Fool that I was!” said he to himself, “thousand times fool to have hoped, to have believed, that she would ever love me. Madman!

how could I have dared to dream of possessing so much grace, nobleness, and beauty! How charming she was this evening, when her face was bathed in tears! Could anything be more angelic? What a sublime expression her eyes had in speaking of him! And I? She loves me as a father, she told me so,--as a father! And could it be otherwise?

Could she see a lover in a sombre and severe-looking magistrate, always as sad as his black coat? Was it not a crime to dream of uniting that virginal simplicity to my detestable knowledge of the world? For her, the future is yet the land of smiling chimeras; and long since experience has dissipated all my illusions. She is as young as innocence, and I am as old as vice.” The unfortunate magistrate felt thoroughly ashamed of himself. He understood Claire, and excused her. He reproached himself for having shown her how he suffered; for having cast a shadow upon her life. He could not forgive himself for having spoken of his love.

Ought he not to have foreseen what had happened?--that she would refuse him, that he would thus deprive himself of the happiness of seeing her, of hearing her, and of silently adoring her? “A young and romantic girl,” pursued he, “must have a lover she can dream of,--whom she can caress in imagination, as an ideal, gratifying herself by seeing in him every great and brilliant quality, imagining him full of nobleness, of bravery, of heroism. What would she see, if, in my absence, she dreamed of me? Her imagination would present me dressed in a funeral robe, in the depth of a gloomy dungeon, engaged with some vile criminal. Is it not my trade to descend into all moral sinks, to stir up the foulness of crime? Am I not compelled to wash in secrecy and darkness the dirty linen of the most corrupt members of society? Ah! some professions are fatal. Ought not the magistrate, like the priest, to condemn himself to solitude and celibacy?

Both know all, they hear all, their costumes are nearly the same; but, while the priest carries consolation in the folds of his black robe, the magistrate conveys terror.

One is mercy, the other chastisement. Such are the images a thought of me would awaken; while the other,--the other--” The wretched man continued his headlong course along the deserted quays.

He went with his head bare, his eyes haggard. To breathe more freely, he had torn off his cravat and thrown it to the winds. Sometimes, unconsciously, he crossed the path of a solitary wayfarer, who would pause, touched with pity, and turn to watch the retreating figure of the unfortunate wretch he thought deprived of reason. In a by-road, near Grenelle, some police officers stopped him, and tried to question him. He mechanically tendered them his card. They read it, and permitted him to pass, convinced that he was drunk.

Anger,--a furious anger, began to replace his first feeling of resignation.

In his heart arose a hate, stronger and more violent than even his love for Claire. That other, that preferred one, that haughty viscount, who could not overcome those paltry obstacles, oh, that he had him there, under his knee! At that moment, this noble and proud man, this severe and grave magistrate experienced an irresistible longing for vengeance. He began to understand the hate that arms itself with a knife, and lays in ambush in out-of-the-way places; which strikes in the dark, whether in front or from behind matters little, but which strikes, which kills, whose vengeance blood alone can satisfy. At that very hour he was supposed to be occupied with an inquiry into the case of an unfortunate, accused of having stabbed one of her wretched companions. She was jealous of the woman, who had tried to take her lover from her. He was a soldier, coarse in manners, and always drunk.

Daburon felt himself seized with pity for this miserable creature, whom he had commenced to examine the day before. She was very ugly, in fact truly repulsive; but the expression of the eyes, when speaking of her soldier, returned to the magistrate’s memory. “If each one of the jurors had suffered what I am suffering now, she would be acquitted. But how many men in this world have loved passionately?

Perhaps not one in twenty.” He resolved to recommend this girl to the indulgence of the tribunal, and to extenuate as much as possible her guilt. For he himself had just determined upon the commission of a crime. He was resolved to kill Albert de Commarin. During the rest of the night he became all the more determined in this resolution, demonstrating to himself by a thousand mad reasons, which he found solid and inscrutable, the necessity for and the justifiableness of this vengeance. At seven o’clock in the morning, he found himself in an avenue of the Bois de Boulogne, not far from the lake. He made at once for the Porte Maillot, procured a cab, and was driven to his house. He was conscious of no fatigue. Calm and cool, he acted under the power of an hallucination, almost like a somnambulist. He reflected and reasoned, but without his reason. As soon as he arrived home he dressed himself with care, as was his custom formerly when visiting the Marchioness d’Arlange, and went out.

He first called at an armourer’s and bought a small revolver, which he caused to be carefully loaded under his own eyes, and put it into his pocket. He then called on the different persons he supposed capable of informing him to what club the viscount belonged. No one noticed the strange state of his mind, so natural were his manners and conversations. It was not until the afternoon that a young friend of his gave him the name of Albert de Commarin’s club, and offered to conduct him thither, as he too was a member. Daburon accepted warmly, and accompanied his friend. While passing along, he grasped with frenzy the handle of the revolver which he kept concealed, thinking only of the murder he was determined to commit, and the means of insuring the accuracy of his aim. “This will make a terrible scandal,” thought he, “above all if I do not succeed in blowing my own brains out.

I shall be arrested, thrown into prison, and placed upon my trial at the assizes. My name will be dishonoured! Bah! what does that signify? Claire does not love me, so what care I for all the rest? My father no doubt will die of grief, but I must have my revenge!” On arriving at the club, his friend pointed out a very dark young man, with a haughty air, or what appeared so to him, who, seated at a table, was reading a review.

It was the viscount. Daburon walked up to him without drawing his revolver. But when within two paces, his heart failed him; he turned suddenly and fled, leaving his friend astonished at a scene, to him, utterly inexplicable. Only once again will Albert de Commarin be as near death. On reaching the street, it seemed to M. Daburon that the ground was receding from beneath him, that everything was turning around him. He tried to cry out, but could not utter a sound; he struck at the air with his hands, reeled for an instant, and then fell all of a heap on the pavement.

The passers-by ran and assisted the police to raise him. In one of his pockets they found his address, and carried him home. When he recovered his senses, he was in his bed, at the foot of which he perceived his father. “What has happened?” he asked.

With much caution they told him, that for six weeks he had wavered between life and death. The doctors had declared his life saved; and, now that reason was restored, all would go well. Five minutes’ conversation exhausted him. He shut his eyes, and tried to collect his ideas; but they whirled hither and thither wildly, as autumn leaves in the wind. The past seemed shrouded in a dark mist; yet, in the midst of the darkness and confusion, all that concerned Mademoiselle d’Arlange stood out clear and luminous. All his actions from the moment when he embraced Claire appeared before him.

He shuddered, and his hair was in a moment soaking with perspiration. He had almost become an assassin. The proof that he was restored to full possession of his faculties was, that a question of criminal law crossed his brain. “The crime committed,” said he to himself, “should I have been condemned? Was I responsible? Is crime merely the result of mental alienation? Was I mad? Or was I in that peculiar state of mind which usually precedes an illegal attempt? Who can say?

Why have not all judges passed through an incomprehensible crisis such as mine?

But who would believe me, were I to recount my experience?” Some days later, he was sufficiently recovered to tell his father all.

The old gentleman shrugged his shoulders, and assured him it was but a reminiscence of his delirium. The good old man was moved at the story of his son’s luckless wooing, without seeing therein, however, an irreparable misfortune. He advised him to think of something else, placed at his disposal his entire fortune, and recommended him to marry a stout Poitevine heiress, very gay and healthy, who would bear him some fine children. Then, as his estate was suffering by his absence, he returned home. Two months later, the investigating magistrate had resumed his ordinary avocations. But try as he would, he only went through his duties like a body without a soul. He felt that something was broken. Once he ventured to pay a visit to his old friend, the marchioness.

On seeing him, she uttered a cry of terror. She took him for a spectre, so much was he changed in appearance. As she dreaded dismal faces, she ever after shut her door to him.

Claire was ill for a week after seeing him. “It has almost killed him! Can Albert love me as much?” She did not dare to answer herself. She felt a desire to console him, to speak to him, attempt something; but he came no more. Daburon was not, however, a man to give way without a struggle. He tried, as his father advised him, to distract his thoughts. He sought for pleasure, and found disgust, but not forgetfulness.

Often he went so far as the threshold of debauchery; but the pure figure of Claire, dressed in white garments, always barred the doors against him. Then he took refuge in work, as in a sanctuary; condemned himself to the most incessant labour, and forbade himself to think of Claire, as the consumptive forbids himself to meditate upon his malady.

His eagerness, his feverish activity, earned him the reputation of an ambitious man, who would go far; but he cared for nothing in the world. At length, he found, not rest, but that painless benumbing which commonly follows a great catastrophe. The convalescence of oblivion was commencing. These were the events, recalled to M.

Daburon’s mind when old Tabaret pronounced the name of Commarin. He believed them buried under the ashes of time; and behold they reappeared, just the same as those characters traced in sympathetic ink when held before a fire.

In an instant they unrolled themselves before his memory, with the instantaneousness of a dream annihilating time and space. During some minutes, he assisted at the representation of his own life. At once actor and spectator, he was there seated in his arm-chair, and at the same time he appeared on the stage. He acted, and he judged himself. His first thought, it must be confessed, was one of hate, followed by a detestable feeling of satisfaction. Chance had, so to say, delivered into his hands this man preferred by Claire, this man, now no longer a haughty nobleman, illustrious by his fortune and his ancestors, but the illegitimate offspring of a courtesan.

To retain a stolen name, he had committed a most cowardly assassination. And he, the magistrate, was about to experience the infinite gratification of striking his enemy with the sword of justice. But this was only a passing thought. The man’s upright conscience revolted against it, and made its powerful voice heard. “Is anything,” it cried, “more monstrous than the association of these two ideas,--hatred and justice? Can a magistrate, without despising himself more than he despises the vile beings he condemns, recollect that a criminal, whose fate is in his hands, has been his enemy? Has an investigating magistrate the right to make use of his exceptional powers in dealing with a prisoner; so long as he harbours the least resentment against him?” M.

Daburon repeated to himself what he had so frequently thought during the year, when commencing a fresh investigation: “And I also, I almost stained myself with a vile murder!” And now it was his duty to cause to be arrested, to interrogate, and hand over to the assizes the man he had once resolved to kill. All the world, it is true, ignored this crime of thought and intention; but could he himself forget it? Was not this, of all others, a case in which he should decline to be mixed up? Ought he not to withdraw, and wash his hands of the blood that had been shed, leaving to another the task of avenging him in the name of society? “No,” said he, “it would be a cowardice unworthy of me.” A project of mad generosity occurred to the bewildered man. “If I save him,” murmured he, “if for Claire’s sake I leave him his honour and his life. But how can I save him? To do so I shall be obliged to suppress old Tabaret’s discoveries, and make an accomplice of him by ensuring his silence. We shall have to follow a wrong track, join Gevrol in running after some imaginary murderer.

Is this practicable?

Besides, to spare Albert is to defame Noel; it is to assure impunity to the most odious of crimes. In short, it is still sacrificing justice to my feelings.” The magistrate suffered greatly. How choose a path in the midst of so many perplexities!

Impelled by different interests, he wavered, undecided between the most opposite decisions, his mind oscillating from one extreme to the other. What could he do? His reason after this new and unforeseen shock vainly sought to regain its equilibrium. “Resign?” said he to himself. “Where, then, would be my courage?

Ought I not rather to remain the representative of the law, incapable of emotion, insensible to prejudice? am I so weak that, in assuming my office, I am unable to divest myself of my personality? Can I not, for the present, make abstraction of the past? My duty is to pursue this investigation. Claire herself would desire me to act thus. Would she wed a man suspected of a crime? If he is innocent, he will be saved; if guilty, let him perish!” This was very sound reasoning; but, at the bottom of his heart, a thousand disquietudes darted their thorns. He wanted to reassure himself. “Do I still hate this young man?” he continued.

“No, certainly. If Claire has preferred him to me, it is to Claire and not to him I owe my suffering. My rage was no more than a passing fit of delirium. I will prove it, by letting him find me as much a counsellor as a magistrate. If he is not guilty, he shall make use of all the means in my power to establish his innocence. Yes, I am worthy to be his judge. Heaven, who reads all my thoughts, sees that I love Claire enough to desire with all my heart the innocence of her lover.” Only then did M. Daburon seem to be vaguely aware of the lapse of time. It was nearly three o’clock in the morning.

“Goodness!” cried he; “why, old Tabaret is waiting for me.

I shall probably find him asleep.” But M. Tabaret was not asleep. He had noticed the passage of time no more than the magistrate. Ten minutes had sufficed him to take an inventory of the contents of M. Daburon’s study, which was large, and handsomely furnished in accordance with his position and fortune. Taking up a lamp, he first admired six very valuable pictures, which ornamented the walls; he then examined with considerable curiosity some rare bronzes placed about the room, and bestowed on the bookcase the glance of a connoisseur. After which, taking an evening paper from the table, he approached the hearth, and seated himself in a vast armchair. He had not read a third of the leading article, which, like all leading articles of the time, was exclusively occupied with the Roman question, when, letting the paper drop from his hands, he became absorbed in meditation.

The fixed idea, stronger than one’s will, and more interesting to him than politics, brought him forcibly back to La Jonchere, where lay the murdered Widow Lerouge. Like the child who again and again builds up and demolishes his house of cards, he arranged and entangled alternately his chain of inductions and arguments. In his own mind there was certainly no longer a doubt as regards this sad affair, and it seemed to him that M. Daburon shared his opinions. But yet, what difficulties there still remained to encounter! There exists between the investigating magistrate and the accused a supreme tribunal, an admirable institution which is a guarantee for all, a powerful moderator, the jury. And the jury, thank heaven! do not content themselves with a moral conviction. The strongest probabilities cannot induce them to give an affirmative verdict. Placed upon a neutral ground, between the prosecution and the defence, it demands material and tangible proofs.

Where the magistrate would condemn twenty times for one, in all security of conscience, the jury acquit for lack of satisfying evidence. The deplorable execution of Lesurques has certainly assured impunity to many criminals; but, it is necessary to say it justifies hesitation in receiving circumstantial evidence in capital crimes.

In short, save where a criminal is taken in the very act, or confesses his guilt, it is not certain that the minister of justice can secure a conviction. Sometimes the judge of inquiry is as anxious as the accused himself. Nearly all crimes are in some particular point mysterious, perhaps impenetrable to justice and the police; and the duty of the advocate is, to discover this weak point, and thereon establish his client’s defence.

By pointing out this doubt to the jury, he insinuates in their minds a distrust of the entire evidence; and frequently the detection of a distorted induction, cleverly exposed, can change the face of a prosecution, and make a strong case appear to the jury a weak one.

This uncertainty explains the character of passion which is so often perceptible in criminal trials. And, in proportion to the march of civilisation, juries in important trials will become more timid and hesitating. The weight of responsibility oppresses the man of conscientious scruple. Already numbers recoil from the idea of capital punishment; and, whenever a jury can find a peg to hang a doubt on, they will wash their hands of the responsibility of condemnation. We have seen numbers of persons signing appeals for mercy to a condemned malefactor, condemned for what crime? Parricide! Every juror, from the moment he is sworn, weighs infinitely less the evidence he has come to listen to than the risk he runs of incurring the pangs of remorse. Rather than risk the condemnation of one innocent man, he will allow twenty scoundrels to go unpunished.

The accusation must then come before the jury, armed at all points, with abundant proofs. A task often tedious to the investigating magistrate, and bristling with difficulties, is the arrangement and condensation of this evidence, particularly when the accused is a cool hand, certain of having left no traces of his guilt. Then from the depths of his dungeon he defies the assault of justice, and laughs at the judge of inquiry. It is a terrible struggle, enough to make one tremble at the responsibility of the magistrate, when he remembers, that after all, this man imprisoned, without consolation or advice, may be innocent. How hard is it, then for the judge to resist his moral convictions! Even when presumptive evidence points clearly to the criminal, and common sense recognises him, justice is at times compelled to acknowledge her defeat, for lack of what the jury consider sufficient proof of guilt. Thus, unhappily, many crimes escape punishment.

An old advocate-general said one day that he knew as many as three assassins, living rich, happy, and respected, who would probably end by dying in their beds, surrounded by their families, and being followed to the grave with lamentations, and praised for their virtues in their epitaphs. At the idea that a murderer might escape the penalty of his crime, and steal away from the assize court, old Tabaret’s blood fairly boiled in his veins, as at the recollection of some deadly insult. Such a monstrous event, in his opinion, could only proceed from the incapacity of those charged with the preliminary inquiry, the clumsiness of the police, or the stupidity of the investigating magistrate. “It is not I,” he muttered, with the satisfied vanity of success, “who would ever let my prey escape. No crime can be committed, of which the author cannot be found, unless, indeed, he happens to be a madman, whose motive it would be difficult to understand. I would pass my life in pursuit of a criminal, before avowing myself vanquished, as Gevrol has done so many times.” Assisted by chance, he had again succeeded, so he kept repeating to himself, but what proofs could he furnish to the accusation, to that confounded jury, so difficult to convince, so precise and so cowardly? What could he imagine to force so cunning a culprit to betray himself? What trap could he prepare? To what new and infallible stratagem could he have recourse? The amateur detective exhausted himself in subtle but impracticable combinations, always stopped by that exacting jury, so obnoxious to the agents of the Rue de Jerusalem.

He was so deeply absorbed in his thoughts that he did not hear the door open, and was utterly unconscious of the magistrate’s presence. Daburon’s voice aroused him from his reverie. Tabaret, for having left you so long alone.” The old fellow rose and bowed respectfully. “By my faith, sir,” replied he, “I have not had the leisure to perceive my solitude.” M. Daburon crossed the room, and seated himself, facing his agent before a small table encumbered with papers and documents relating to the crime.

He appeared very much fatigued. “I have reflected a good deal,” he commenced, “about this affair--” “And I,” interrupted old Tabaret, “was just asking myself what was likely to be the attitude assumed by the viscount at the moment of his arrest.

Nothing is more important, according to my idea, than his manner of conducting himself then. Will he fly into a passion? Will he attempt to intimidate the agents? Will he threaten to turn them out of the house? These are generally the tactics of titled criminals. My opinion, however, is, that he will remain perfectly cool. He will declare himself the victim of a misunderstanding, and insist upon an immediate interview with the investigating magistrate.

Once that is accorded him, he will explain everything very quickly.” The old fellow spoke of matters of speculation in such a tone of assurance that M. Daburon was unable to repress a smile. “We have not got as far as that yet,” said he. “But we shall, in a few hours,” replied M. Tabaret quickly. de Commarin’s arrest at daybreak.” The magistrate trembled, like the patient who sees the surgeon deposit his case of instruments upon the table on entering the room. The moment for action had come. He felt now what a distance lies between a mental decision and the physical action required to execute it.

“You are prompt, M. Tabaret,” said he; “you recognize no obstacles.” “None, having ascertained the criminal. Who else can have committed this assassination? Who but he had an interest in silencing Widow Lerouge, in suppressing her testimony, in destroying her papers? He, and only he. who is as dull as honesty, warned him, and he acted. Should we fail to establish his guilt, he will remain de Commarin more than ever; and my young advocate will be Noel Gerdy to the grave.” “Yes, but--” The old man fixed his eyes upon the magistrate with a look of astonishment. “You see, then, some difficulties, sir?” he asked.

Daburon. “This is a matter demanding the utmost circumspection. In cases like the present, one must not strike until the blow is sure, and we have but presumptions. Suppose we are mistaken. Justice, unhappily, cannot repair her errors.

Her hand once unjustly placed upon a man, leaves an imprint of dishonour that can never be effaced. She may perceive her error, and proclaim it aloud, but in vain! Public opinion, absurd and idiotic, will not pardon the man guilty of being suspected.” It was with a sinking heart that the old fellow listened to these remarks. He would not be withheld by such paltry considerations. “Our suspicions are well grounded,” continued the magistrate. “But, should they lead us into error, our precipitation would be a terrible misfortune for this young man, to say nothing of the effect it would have in abridging the authority and dignity of justice, of weakening the respect which constitutes her power. Such a mistake would call for discussion, provoke examination, and awaken distrust, at an epoch in our history when all minds are but too much disposed to defy the constituted authorities.” He leaned upon the table, and appeared to reflect profoundly. “I have no luck,” thought old Tabaret. “I have to do with a trembler.

When he should act, he makes speeches; instead of signing warrants, he propounds theories. He is astounded at my discovery, and is not equal to the situation. Instead of being delighted by my appearance with the news of our success, he would have given a twenty-franc piece, I dare say, to have been left undisturbed. Ah! he would very willingly have the little fishes in his net, but the big ones frighten him. The big fishes are dangerous, and he prefers to let them swim away.” “Perhaps,” said M. Daburon, aloud, “it will suffice to issue a search-warrant, and a summons for the appearance of the accused.” “Then all is lost!” cried old Tabaret. “And why, pray?” “Because we are opposed by a criminal of marked ability.

A most providential accident has placed us upon his track. If we give him time to breathe, he will escape.” The only answer was an inclination of the head, which M.

Daburon may have intended for a sign of assent.

“It is evident,” continued the old fellow, “that our adversary has foreseen everything, absolutely everything, even the possibility of suspicion attaching to one in his high position. his precautions are all taken. If you are satisfied with demanding his appearance, he is saved. He will appear before you as tranquilly as your clerk, as unconcerned as if he came to arrange the preliminaries of a duel.

He will present you with a magnificent alibi, an alibi that can not be gainsayed. He will show you that he passed the evening and the night of Tuesday with personages of the highest rank. In short, his little machine will be so cleverly constructed, so nicely arranged, all its little wheels will play so well, that there will be nothing left for you but to open the door and usher him out with the most humble apologies. The only means of securing conviction is to surprise the miscreant by a rapidity against which it is impossible he can be on his guard.

Fall upon him like a thunder-clap, arrest him as he wakes, drag him hither while yet pale with astonishment, and interrogate him at once. Ah! I wish I were an investigating magistrate.” Old Tabaret stopped short, frightened at the idea that he had been wanting in respect; but M. Daburon showed no sign of being offended.

“Proceed,” said he, in a tone of encouragement, “proceed.” “Suppose, then,” continued the detective, “I am the investigating magistrate. I cause my man to be arrested, and, twenty minutes later, he is standing before me. I do not amuse myself by putting questions to him, more or less subtle. No, I go straight to the mark. I overwhelm him at once by the weight of my certainty, prove to him so clearly that I know everything, that he must surrender, seeing no chance of escape.

I should say to him, ‘My good man, you bring me an alibi; it is very well; but I am acquainted with that system of defence. I know all about the clocks that don’t keep proper time, and all the people who never lost sight of you. In the meantime, this is what you did. At twenty minutes past eight, you slipped away adroitly; at thirty-five minutes past eight, you took the train at the St Lazare station; at nine o’clock, you alighted at the station at Rueil, and took the road to La Jonchere; at a quarter past nine, you knocked at the window-shutter of Widow Lerouge’s cottage. You were admitted. You asked for something to eat, and, above all, something to drink. At twenty minutes past nine, you planted the well-sharpened end of a foil between her shoulders. You then overturned everything in the house, and burned certain documents of importance; after which, you tied up in a napkin all the valuables you could find, and carried them off, to lead the police to believe the murder was the work of a robber. You locked the door, and threw away the key.

Arrived at the Seine, you threw the bundle into the water, then hurried off to the railway station on foot, and at eleven o’clock you reappeared amongst your friends.

Your game was well played; but you omitted to provide against two adversaries, a detective, not easily deceived, named Tirauclair, and another still more clever, named chance. Between them, they have got the better of you. Moreover, you were foolish to wear such small boots, and to keep on your lavender kid gloves, besides embarrassing yourself with a silk hat and an umbrella.

Now confess your guilt, for it is the only thing left you to do, and I will give you permission to smoke in your dungeon some of those excellent trabucos you are so fond of, and which you always smoke with an amber mouthpiece.’” During this speech, M. Tabaret had gained at least a couple of inches in height, so great was his enthusiasm. He looked at the magistrate, as if expecting a smile of approbation. “Yes,” continued he, after taking breath, “I would say that, and nothing else; and, unless this man is a hundred times stronger than I suppose him to be, unless he is made of bronze, of marble, or of steel, he would fall at my feet and avow his guilt.” “But supposing he were of bronze,” said M. Daburon, “and did not fall at your feet, what would you do next?” The question evidently embarrassed the old fellow. “Pshaw!” stammered he; “I don’t know; I would see; I would search; but he would confess.” After a prolonged silence, M. Daburon took a pen, and hurriedly wrote a few lines. “I surrender,” said he. Albert de Commarin shall be arrested; that is settled. The different formalities to be gone through and the perquisitions will occupy some time, which I wish to employ in interrogating the Count de Commarin, the young man’s father, and your friend M.

Noel Gerdy, the young advocate. The letters he possesses are indispensable to me.” At the name of Gerdy, M. Tabaret’s face assumed a most comical expression of uneasiness. “Confound it,” cried he, “the very thing I most dreaded.” “What?” asked M.

Daburon. “The necessity for the examination of those letters. He will despise me: he will fly from me, when he knows that Tabaret and Tirauclair sleep in the same nightcap. Before eight days are past, my oldest friends will refuse to shake hands with me, as if it were not an honour to serve justice. I shall be obliged to change my residence, and assume a false name.” He almost wept, so great was his annoyance. Daburon was touched. “Reassure yourself, my dear M.

Tabaret,” said he. “I will manage that your adopted son, your Benjamin, shall know nothing. I will lead him to believe I have reached him by means of the widow’s papers.” The old fellow seized the magistrate’s hand in a transport of gratitude, and carried it to his lips. thanks, sir, a thousand thanks! I should like to be permitted to witness the arrest; and I shall be glad to assist at the perquisitions.” “I intended to ask you to do so, M. Tabaret,” answered the magistrate. The lamps paled in the gray dawn of the morning; already the rumbling of vehicles was heard; Paris was awaking. “I have no time to lose,” continued M.

Daburon, “if I would have all my measures well taken. I must at once see the public prosecutor, whether he is up or not.

I shall go direct from his house to the Palais de Justice, and be there before eight o’clock; and I desire, M. Tabaret, that you will there await my orders.” The old fellow bowed his thanks and was about to leave, when the magistrate’s servant appeared. “Here is a note, sir,” said he, “which a gendarme has just brought from Bougival. He waits an answer.” “Very well,” replied M. Daburon. “Ask the man to have some refreshment; at least offer him a glass of wine.” He opened the envelope. “Ah!” he cried, “a letter from Gevrol;” and he read: “‘To the investigating magistrate. Sir, I have the honour to inform you, that I am on the track of the man with the earrings.

I heard of him at a wine shop, which he entered on Sunday morning, before going to Widow Lerouge’s cottage. He bought, and paid for two litres of wine; then, suddenly striking his forehead, he cried, “Old fool! to forget that to-morrow is the boat’s fete day!” and immediately called for three more litres. According to the almanac the boat must be called the Saint-Martin. I have also learned that she was laden with grain.

I write to the Prefecture at the same time as I write to you, that inquiries may be made at Paris and Rouen. He will be found at one of those places.

I am in waiting, sir, etc.’” “Poor Gevrol!” cried old Tabaret, bursting with laughter. “He sharpens his sabre, and the battle is over. Are you not going to put a stop to his inquiries, sir?” “No; certainly not,” answered M. Daburon; “to neglect the slightest clue often leads one into error. Who can tell what light we may receive from this mariner?” CHAPTER VIII. On the same day that the crime of La Jonchere was discovered, and precisely at the hour that M. Tabaret made his memorable examination in the victim’s chamber, the Viscount Albert de Commarin entered his carriage, and proceeded to the Northern railway station, to meet his father. The young man was very pale: his pinched features, his dull eyes, his blanched lips, in fact his whole appearance denoted either overwhelming fatigue or unusual sorrow. All the servants had observed, that, during the past five days, their young master had not been in his ordinary condition: he spoke but little, ate almost nothing, and refused to see any visitors. His valet noticed that this singular change dated from the visit, on Sunday morning, of a certain M.

Noel Gerdy, who had been closeted with him for three hours in the library. The Viscount, gay as a lark until the arrival of this person, had, from the moment of his departure, the appearance of a man at the point of death. When setting forth to meet his father, the viscount appeared to suffer so acutely that M. Lubin, his valet, entreated him not to go out; suggesting that it would be more prudent to retire to his room, and call in the doctor. But the Count de Commarin was exacting on the score of filial duty, and would overlook the worst of youthful indiscretions sooner than what he termed a want of reverence. He had announced his intended arrival by telegraph, twenty-four hours in advance; therefore the house was expected to be in perfect readiness to receive him, and the absence of Albert at the railway station would have been resented as a flagrant omission of duty. The viscount had been but five minutes in the waiting-room, when the bell announced the arrival of the train. Soon the doors leading on to the platform were opened, and the travelers crowded in.

The throng beginning to thin a little, the count appeared, followed by a servant, who carried a travelling pelisse lined with rare and valuable fur. The Count de Commarin looked a good ten years less than his age.

His beard and hair, yet abundant, were scarcely gray. He was tall and muscular, held himself upright, and carried his head high. His appearance was noble, his movements easy. His regular features presented a study to the physiognomist, all expressing easy, careless good nature, even to the handsome, smiling mouth; but in his eyes flashed the fiercest and the most arrogant pride. This contrast revealed the secret of his character. Imbued quite as deeply with aristocratic prejudice as the Marchioness d’Arlange, he had progressed with his century or at least appeared to have done so. As fully as the marchioness, he held in contempt all who were not noble; but his disdain expressed itself in a different fashion. The marchioness proclaimed her contempt loudly and coarsely; the count had kept eyes and ears open and had seen and heard a good deal.

She was stupid, and without a shade of common sense. He was witty and sensible, and possessed enlarged views of life and politics. She dreamed of the return of the absurd traditions of a former age; he hoped for things within the power of events to bring forth. He was sincerely persuaded that the nobles of France would yet recover slowly and silently, but surely, all their lost power, with its prestige and influence.

In a word, the count was the flattered portrait of his class; the marchioness its caricature.

It should be added, that M. de Commarin knew how to divest himself of his crushing urbanity in the company of his equals.

There he recovered his true character, haughty, self-sufficient, and intractable, enduring contradiction pretty much as a wild horse the application of the spur. In his own house, he was a despot. Perceiving his father, Albert advanced towards him. They shook hands and embraced with an air as noble as ceremonious, and, in less than a minute, had exchanged all the news that had transpired during the count’s absence. de Commarin perceive the alteration in his son’s face.

“You are unwell, viscount,” said he. “Oh, no, sir,” answered Albert, laconically. The count uttered “Ah!” accompanied by a certain movement of the head, which, with him, expressed perfect incredulity; then, turning to his servant, he gave him some orders briefly. I am in haste to feel at home; and I am hungry, having had nothing to-day, but some detestable broth, at I know not what way station.” M. de Commarin had returned to Paris in a very bad temper, his journey to Austria had not brought the results he had hoped for. To crown his dissatisfaction, he had rested, on his homeward way, at the chateau of an old friend, with whom he had had so violent a discussion that they had parted without shaking hands. The count was hardly seated in his carriage before he entered upon the subject of this disagreement. “I have quarrelled with the Duke de Sairmeuse,” said he to his son.

“That seems to me to happen whenever you meet,” answered Albert, without intending any raillery. “True,” said the count: “but this is serious. I passed four days at his country-seat, in a state of inconceivable exasperation. He has entirely forfeited my esteem. Sairmeuse has sold his estate of Gondresy, one of the finest in the north of France. He has cut down the timber, and put up to auction the old chateau, a princely dwelling, which is to be converted into a sugar refinery; all this for the purpose, as he says, of raising money to increase his income!” “And was that the cause of your rupture?” inquired Albert, without much surprise. “Certainly it was! Do you not think it a sufficient one?” “But, sir, you know the duke has a large family, and is far from rich.” “What of that? A French noble who sells his land commits an unworthy act. He is guilty of treason against his order!” “Oh, sir,” said Albert, deprecatingly.

“I said treason!” continued the count. “I maintain the word. Remember well, viscount, power has been, and always will be, on the side of wealth, especially on the side of those who hold the soil.

The men of ‘93 well understood this principle, and acted upon it. By impoverishing the nobles, they destroyed their prestige more effectually than by abolishing their titles. A prince dismounted, and without footmen, is no more than any one else.

The Minister of July, who said to the people, ‘Make yourselves rich,’ was not a fool. He gave them the magic formula for power. But they have not the sense to understand it. They want to go too fast. They launch into speculations, and become rich, it is true; but in what? Stocks, bonds, paper,--rags, in short. It is smoke they are locking in their coffers. They prefer to invest in merchandise, which pays eight or ten per cent, to investing in vines or corn which will return but three.

The peasant is not so foolish. From the moment he owns a piece of ground the size of a handkerchief, he wants to make it as large as a tablecloth. He is slow as the oxen he ploughs with, but as patient, as tenacious, and as obstinate. He goes directly to his object, pressing firmly against the yoke; and nothing can stop or turn him aside. He knows that stocks may rise or fall, fortunes be won or lost on ‘change; but the land always remains,--the real standard of wealth. To become landholders, the peasant starves himself, wears sabots in winter; and the imbeciles who laugh at him will be astonished by and by when he makes his ‘93, and the peasant becomes a baron in power if not in name.” “I do not understand the application,” said the viscount. “You do not understand? Why, what the peasant is doing is what the nobles ought to have done! Ruined, their duty was to reconstruct their fortunes. Commerce is interdicted to us; be it so: agriculture remains.

Instead of grumbling uselessly during the half-century, instead of running themselves into debt, in the ridiculous attempt to support an appearance of grandeur, they ought to have retreated to their provinces, shut themselves up in their chateaux; there worked, economised, denied themselves, as the peasant is doing, purchased the land piece by piece. Had they taken this course, they would to-day possess France. Their wealth would be enormous; for the value of land rises year after year. I have, without effort, doubled my fortune in thirty years. Blauville, which cost my father a hundred crowns in 1817, is worth to-day more than a million: so that, when I hear the nobles complain, I shrug the shoulder.

Who but they are to blame? They impoverish themselves from year to year. They sell their land to the peasants. Soon they will be reduced to beggary, and their escutcheons. What consoles me is, that the peasant, having become the proprietor of our domains will then be all-powerful, and will yoke to his chariot wheels these traders in scrip and stocks, whom he hates as much as I execrate them myself.” The carriage at this moment stopped in the court-yard of the de Commarin mansion, after having described that perfect half-circle, the glory of coachmen who preserve the old tradition. The count alighted first, and leaning upon his son’s arm, ascended the steps of the grand entrance. In the immense vestibule, nearly all the servants, dressed in rich liveries, stood in a line. The count gave them a glance, in passing, as an officer might his soldiers on parade, and proceeded to his apartment on the first floor, above the reception rooms. Never was there a better regulated household than that of the Count de Commarin.

He possessed in a high degree the art, more rare than is generally supposed, of commanding an army of servants. The number of his domestics caused him neither inconvenience nor embarrassment. They were necessary to him. So perfect was the organisation of this household, that its functions were performed like those of a machine,--without noise, variation, or effort.

Thus when the count returned from his journey, the sleeping hotel was awakened as if by the spell of an enchanter. Each servant was at his post; and the occupations, interrupted during the past six weeks, resumed without confusion. As the count was known to have passed the day on the road, the dinner was served in advance of the usual hour. All the establishment, even to the lowest scullion, represented the spirit of the first article of the rules of the house, “Servants are not to execute orders, but anticipate them.” M. de Commarin had hardly removed the traces of his journey, and changed his dress, when his butler announced that the dinner was served. He went down at once; and father and son met upon the threshold of the dining-room. This was a large apartment, with a very high ceiling, as were all the rooms of the ground floor, and was most magnificently furnished. The count was not only a great eater, but was vain of his enormous appetite.

He was fond of recalling the names of great men, noted for their capacity of stomach. Charles V. devoured mountains of viands.

swallowed at each repast as much as six ordinary men would eat at a meal. He pretended that one can almost judge of men’s qualities by their digestive capacities; he compared them to lamps, whose power of giving light is in proportion to the oil they consume. During the first half hour, the count and his son both remained silent. de Commarin ate conscientiously, not perceiving or not caring to notice that Albert ate nothing, but merely sat at the table as if to countenance him. The old nobleman’s ill-humour and volubility returned with the dessert, apparently increased by a Burgundy of which he was particularly fond, and of which he drank freely. He was partial, moreover, to an after dinner argument, professing a theory that moderate discussion is a perfect digestive. A letter which had been delivered to him on his arrival, and which he had found time to glance over, gave him at once a subject and a point of departure. “I arrived home but an hour ago;” said he, “and I have already received a homily from Broisfresnay.” “He writes a great deal,” observed Albert. He mentions a lot more of his ridiculous projects and vain hopes, and he mentions a dozen names of men of his own stamp who are his associates.

On my word of honour, they seem to have lost their senses! They talk of lifting the world, only they want a lever and something to rest it on. It makes me die with laughter!” For ten minutes the count continued to discharge a volley of abuse and sarcasm against his best friends, without seeming to see that a great many of their foibles which he ridiculed were also a little his own. “If,” continued he more seriously,--“if they only possessed a little confidence in themselves, if they showed the least audacity! they count upon others to do for them what they ought to do for themselves. In short, their proceedings are a series of confessions of helplessness, of premature declarations of failure.” The coffee having been served, the count made a sign, and the servants left the room.

“No,” continued he, “I see but one hope for the French aristocracy, but one plank of salvation, one good little law, establishing the right of primogeniture.” “You will never obtain it.” “You think not? Would you then oppose such a measure, viscount?” Albert knew by experience what dangerous ground his father was approaching, and remained silent. “Let us put it, then, that I dream of the impossible!” resumed the count. Let all the younger sons and the daughters of our great families forego their rights, by giving up the entire patrimony to the first-born for five generations, contenting themselves each with a couple of thousand francs a year.

By that means great fortunes can be reconstructed, and families, instead of being divided by a variety of interests, become united by one common desire.” “Unfortunately,” objected the viscount, “the time is not favorable to such devotedness.” “I know it, sir,” replied the count quickly; “and in my own house I have the proof of it. I, your father, have conjured you to give up all idea of marrying the granddaughter of that old fool, the Marchioness d’Arlange.

And all to no purpose; for I have at last been obliged to yield to your wishes.” “Father--” Albert commenced. “You have my word; but remember my prediction: you will strike a fatal blow at our house. You will be one of the largest proprietors in France; but have half a dozen children, and they will be hardly rich. If they also have as many, you will probably see your grandchildren in poverty!” “You put all at the worst, father.” “Without doubt: it is the only means of pointing out the danger, and averting the evil. You talk of your life’s happiness.

What is that? A true noble thinks of his name above all. Mademoiselle d’Arlange is very pretty, and very attractive; but she is penniless. I had found an heiress for you.” “Whom I should never love!” “And what of that? She would have brought you four millions in her apron,--more than the kings of to-day give their daughters. Besides which she had great expectations.” The discussion upon this subject would have been interminable, had Albert taken an active share in it; but his thoughts were far away. He answered from time to time so as not to appear absolutely dumb, and then only a few syllables.

This absence of opposition was more irritating to the count than the most obstinate contradiction. He therefore directed his utmost efforts to excite his son to argue. However he was vainly prodigal of words, and unsparing in unpleasant allusions, so that at last he fairly lost his temper, and, on receiving a laconic reply, he burst forth: “Upon my word, the butler’s son would say the same as you! What blood have you in your veins? You are more like one of the people than a Viscount de Commarin!” There are certain conditions of mind in which the least conversation jars upon the nerves. During the last hour, Albert had suffered an intolerable punishment. The patience with which he had armed himself at last escaped him. “Well, sir,” he answered, “if I resemble one of the people, there are perhaps good reasons for it.” The glance with which the viscount accompanied his speech was so expressive that the count experienced a sudden shock. All his animation forsook him, and in a hesitating voice, he asked: “What is that you say, viscount?” Albert had no sooner uttered the sentence than he regretted his precipitation, but he had gone too far to stop.

“Sir,” he replied with some embarrassment, “I have to acquaint you with some important matters. My honour, yours, the honour of our house, are involved. I intended postponing this conversation till to-morrow, not desiring to trouble you on the evening of your return.

However, as you wish me to explain, I will do so.” The count listened with ill-concealed anxiety. He seemed to have divined what his son was about to say, and was terrified at himself for having divined it. “Believe me, sir,” continued Albert slowly, “whatever may have been your acts, my voice will never be raised to reproach you. Your constant kindness to me--” M. de Commarin held up his hand. “A truce to preambles; let me have the facts without phrases,” said he sternly. Albert was some time without answering, he hesitated how to commence. “Sir,” said he at length, “during your absence, I have read all your correspondence with Madame Gerdy. All!” added he, emphasising the word, already so significant.

The count, as though stung by a serpent, started up with such violence that he overturned his chair. “Not another word!” cried he in a terrible voice. “I forbid you to speak!” But he no doubt soon felt ashamed of his violence, for he quietly raised his chair, and resumed in a tone which he strove to render light and rallying: “Who will hereafter refuse to believe in presentiments? A couple of hours ago, on seeing your pale face at the railway station, I felt that you had learned more or less of this affair. I was sure of it.” There was a long silence. With one accord, father and son avoided letting their eyes meet, lest they might encounter glances too eloquent to bear at so painful a moment.

It is important that we should decide on our future conduct without delay. Will you follow me to my room?” He rang the bell, and a footman appeared almost immediately. “Neither the viscount nor I am at home to any one,” said M. de Commarin, “no matter whom.” CHAPTER IX. The revelation which had just taken place, irritated much more than it surprised the Count de Commarin. For twenty years, he had been constantly expecting to see the truth brought to light. He knew that there can be no secret so carefully guarded that it may not by some chance escape; and his had been known to four people, three of whom were still living. He had not forgotten that he had been imprudent enough to trust it to paper, knowing all the while that it ought never to have been written.

How was it that he, a prudent diplomat, a statesman, full of precaution, had been so foolish? How was it that he had allowed this fatal correspondence to remain in existence! Why had he not destroyed, at no matter what cost, these overwhelming proofs, which sooner or later might be used against him? Such imprudence could only have arisen from an absurd passion, blind and insensible, even to madness. So long as he was Valerie’s lover, the count never thought of asking the return of his letters from his beloved accomplice. If the idea had occurred to him, he would have repelled it as an insult to the character of his angel. What reason could he have had to suspect her discretion? He would have been much more likely to have supposed her desirous of removing every trace, even the slightest, of what had taken place. Was it not her son who had received the benefits of the deed, who had usurped another’s name and fortune? When eight years after, believing her to be unfaithful, the count had put an end to the connection which had given him so much happiness he thought of obtaining possession of this unhappy correspondence.

A thousand reasons prevented his moving in the matter. The principal one was, that he did not wish to see this woman, once so dearly loved. He did not feel sufficiently sure either of his anger or of his firmness. Could he, without yielding, resist the tearful pleading of those eyes, which had so long held complete sway over him? To look again upon this mistress of his youth would, he feared, result in his forgiving her; and he had been too cruelly wounded in his pride and in his affection to admit the idea of a reconciliation.

On the other hand, to obtain the letters though a third party was entirely out of the question. He abstained, then, from all action, postponing it indefinitely. “I will go to her,” said he to himself; “but not until I have so torn her from my heart that she will have become indifferent to me. I will not gratify her with the sight of my grief.” So months and years passed on; and finally he began to say and believe that it was too late. And for now more than twenty years, he had never passed a day without cursing his inexcusable folly.

Never had he been able to forget that above his head a danger more terrible than the sword of Damocles hung, suspended by a thread, which the slightest accident might break.

And now that thread had broken. Often, when considering the possibility of such a catastrophe, he had asked himself how he should avert it?

He had formed and rejected many plans: he had deluded himself, like all men of imagination, with innumerable chimerical projects, and now he found himself quite unprepared. Albert stood respectfully, while his father sat in his great armorial chair, just beneath the large frame in which the genealogical tree of the illustrious family of Rheteau de Commarin spread its luxuriant branches. The old gentleman completely concealed the cruel apprehensions which oppressed him. He seemed neither irritated nor dejected; but his eyes expressed a haughtiness more than usually disdainful, and a self-reliance full of contempt. “Now viscount,” he began in a firm voice, “explain yourself. I need say nothing to you of the position of a father, obliged to blush before his son; you understand it, and will feel for me. Let us spare each other, and try to be calm. Tell me, how did you obtain your knowledge of this correspondence?” Albert had had time to recover himself, and prepare for the present struggle, as he had impatiently waited four days for this interview. The difficulty he experienced in uttering the first words had now given place to a dignified and proud demeanor.

He expressed himself clearly and forcibly, without losing himself in those details which in serious matters needlessly defer the real point at issue. “Sir,” he replied, “on Sunday morning, a young man called here, stating that he had business with me of the utmost importance.

He then revealed to me that I, alas! am only your natural son, substituted through your affection, for the legitimate child borne you by Madame de Commarin.” “And did you not have this man kicked out of doors?” exclaimed the count. I was about to answer him very sharply, of course; but, presenting me with a packet of letters, he begged me to read them before replying.” “Ah!” cried M. de Commarin, “you should have thrown them into the fire, for there was a fire, I suppose?

You held them in your hands; and they still exist! Why was I not there?” “Sir!” said Albert, reproachfully. And, recalling the position Noel had occupied against the mantelpiece, and the manner in which he stood, he added,--“Even if the thought had occurred to me, it was impracticable.

Besides, at the first glance, I recognised your handwriting. I therefore took the letters, and read them.” “And then?” “And then, sir, I returned the correspondence to the young man, and asked for a delay of eight days; not to think over it myself--there was no need of that,--but because I judged an interview with you indispensable. Now, therefore, I beseech you, tell me whether this substitution really did take place. “Certainly it did,” replied the count violently, “yes, certainly. You know that it did, for you have read what I wrote to Madame Gerdy, your mother.” Albert had foreseen, had expected this reply; but it crushed him nevertheless. There are misfortunes so great, that one must constantly think of them to believe in their existence. This flinching, however, lasted but an instant. “Pardon me, sir,” he replied. “I was almost convinced; but I had not received a formal assurance of it.

All the letters that I read spoke distinctly of your purpose, detailed your plan minutely; but not one pointed to, or in any way confirmed, the execution of your project.” The count gazed at his son with a look of intense surprise. He recollected distinctly all the letters; and he could remember, that, in writing to Valerie, he had over and over again rejoiced at their success, thanking her for having acted in accordance with his wishes. “You did not go to the end of them, then, viscount,” he said, “you did not read them all?” “Every line, sir, and with an attention that you may well understand.

The last letter shown me simply announced to Madame Gerdy the arrival of Claudine Lerouge, the nurse who was charged with accomplishing the substitution. I know nothing beyond that.” “These proofs amount to nothing,” muttered the count. “A man may form a plan, cherish it for a long time, and at the last moment abandon it; it often happens so.” He reproached himself for having answered so hastily. Albert had had only serious suspicions, and he had changed them to certainty. What stupidity! “There can be no possible doubt,” he said to himself; “Valerie has destroyed the most conclusive letters, those which appeared to her the most dangerous, those I wrote after the substitution.

But why has she preserved these others, compromising enough in themselves?

and why, after having preserved them, has she let them go out of her possession?” Without moving, Albert awaited a word from the count.

What would it be? No doubt, the old nobleman was at that moment deciding what he should do. “Perhaps she is dead!” said M. de Commarin aloud. And at the thought that Valerie was dead, without his having again seen her, he started painfully. His heart, after more than twenty years of voluntary separation, still suffered, so deeply rooted was this first love of his youth.

He had cursed her; at this moment he pardoned her. True, she had deceived him; but did he not owe to her the only years of happiness he had ever known? Had she not formed all the poetry of his youth? Had he experienced, since leaving her, one single hour of joy or forgetfulness? In his present frame of mind, his heart retained only happy memories, like a vase which, once filled with precious perfumes, retains the odour until it is destroyed. “Poor woman!” he murmured.

Three or four times his eyelids trembled, as if a tear were about to fall. Albert watched him with anxious curiosity. This was the first time since the viscount had grown to man’s estate that he had surprised in his father’s countenance other emotion than ambition or pride, triumphant or defeated. de Commarin was not the man to yield long to sentiment. “You have not told me, viscount,” he said, “who sent you that messenger of misfortune.” “He came in person, sir, not wishing, he told me to mix any others up in this sad affair. The young man was no other than he whose place I have occupied,--your legitimate son, M. Noel Gerdy himself.” “Yes,” said the count in a low tone, “Noel, that is his name, I remember.” And then, with evident hesitation, he added: “Did he speak to you of his--of your mother?” “Scarcely, sir. He only told me that he came unknown to her; that he had accidentally discovered the secret which he revealed to me.” M. de Commarin asked nothing further. There was more for him to learn.

He remained for some time deep in thought. The decisive moment had come; and he saw but one way to escape. “Come, viscount,” he said, in a tone so affectionate that Albert was astonished, “do not stand; sit down here by me, and let us discuss this matter. Let us unite our efforts to shun, if possible, this great misfortune. Confide in me, as a son should in his father. Have you thought of what is to be done? have you formed any determination?” “It seems to me, sir, that hesitation is impossible.” “In what way?” “My duty, father, is very plain. Before your legitimate son, I ought to give way without a murmur, if not without regret. I am ready to yield to him everything that I have so long kept from him without a suspicion of the truth--his father’s love, his fortune and his name.” At this most praiseworthy reply, the old nobleman could scarcely preserve the calmness he had recommended to his son in the earlier part of the interview.

His face grew purple; and he struck the table with his fist more furiously than he had ever done in his life. He, usually so guarded, so decorous on all occasions, uttered a volley of oaths that would not have done discredit to an old cavalry officer. “And I tell you, sir, that this dream of yours shall never take place.

No; that it sha’n’t. I swear it.

I promise you, whatever happens, understand, that things shall remain as they are; because it is my will. You are Viscount de Commarin, and Viscount de Commarin you shall remain, in spite of yourself, if necessary. You shall retain the title to your death, or at least to mine; for never, while I live, shall your absurd idea be carried out.” “But, sir,” began Albert, timidly. “You are very daring to interrupt me while I am speaking, sir,” exclaimed the count. “Do I not know all your objections beforehand? You are going to tell me that it is a revolting injustice, a wicked robbery. I confess it, and grieve over it more than you possibly can. Do you think that I now for the first time repent of my youthful folly?

For twenty years, sir, I have lamented my true son; for twenty years I have cursed the wickedness of which he is the victim. And yet I learnt how to keep silence, and to hide the sorrow and remorse which have covered my pillow with thorns. In a single instant, your senseless yielding would render my long sufferings of no avail. No, I will never permit it!” The count read a reply on his son’s lips: he stopped him with a withering glance. “Do you think,” he continued, “that I have never wept over the thought of my legitimate son passing his life struggling for a competence? Do you think that I have never felt a burning desire to repair the wrong done him? There have been times, sir, when I would have given half of my fortune simply to embrace that child of a wife too tardily appreciated. The fear of casting a shadow of suspicion upon your birth prevented me.

I have sacrificed myself to the great name I bear. I received it from my ancestors without a stain. May you hand it down to your children equally spotless! Your first impulse was a worthy one, generous and noble; but you must forget it. Think of the scandal, if our secret should be disclosed to the public gaze.

Can you not foresee the joy of our enemies, of that herd of upstarts which surrounds us? I shudder at the thought of the odium and the ridicule which would cling to our name. Too many families already have stains upon their escutcheons; I will have none on mine.” M. de Commarin remained silent for several minutes, during which Albert did not dare say a word, so much had he been accustomed since infancy to respect the least wish of the terrible old gentleman. “There is no possible way out of it,” continued the count. “Can I discard you to-morrow, and present this Noel as my son, saying, ‘Excuse me, but there has been a slight mistake; this one is the viscount?’ And then the tribunals will get hold of it. What does it matter who is named Benoit, Durand, or Bernard? But, when one is called Commarin, even but for a single day, one must retain that name through life. The same moral does not do for everyone; because we have not the same duties to perform.

In our position, errors are irreparable. Take courage, then, and show yourself worthy of the name you bear. The storm is upon you; raise your head to meet it.” Albert’s impassibility contributed not a little to increase M.

de Commarin’s irritation.

Firm in an unchangeable resolution, the viscount listened like one fulfilling a duty: and his face reflected no emotion. The count saw that he was not shaken. “What have you to reply?” he asked. “It seems to me sir, that you have no idea of all the dangers which I foresee. It is difficult to master the revolts of conscience.” “Indeed!” interrupted the count contemptuously; “your conscience revolts, does it? It has chosen its time badly. Your scruples come too late.

So long as you saw that your inheritance consisted of an illustrious title and a dozen or so of millions, it pleased you. To-day the name appears to you laden with a heavy fault, a crime, if you will; and your conscience revolts. Children, sir, are accountable to their fathers; and they should obey them. Willing or unwilling, you must be my accomplice; willing or unwilling, you must bear the burden, as I have borne it. And, however much you may suffer, be assured your sufferings can never approach what I have endured for so many years.” “Ah, sir!” cried Albert, “is it then I, the dispossessor, who has made this trouble? is it not, on the contrary, the dispossessed!

It is not I who you have to convince, it is M. Noel Gerdy.” “Noel!” repeated the count. “Your legitimate son, yes, sir. You act as if the issue of this unhappy affair depended solely upon my will. Do you then, imagine that M. Gerdy will be so easily disposed of, so easily silenced? And, if he should raise his voice, do you hope to move him by the considerations you have just mentioned?” “I do not fear him.” “Then you are wrong, sir, permit me to tell you. Suppose for a moment that this young man has a soul sufficiently noble to relinquish his claim upon your rank and your fortune. Is there not now the accumulated rancour of years to urge him to oppose you?

He cannot help feeling a fierce resentment for the horrible injustice of which he has been the victim. He must passionately long for vengeance, or rather reparation.” “He has no proofs.” “He has your letters, sir.” “They are not decisive, you yourself have told me so.” “That is true, sir; and yet they convinced me, who have an interest in not being convinced. The day when he wishes it, you will betray us.

Suppose you were summoned before a tribunal, and that there, under oath, you should be required to speak the truth, what answer would you make?” M. de Commarin’s face darkened at this very natural supposition. He hesitated, he whose honour was usually so great.

“I would save the name of my ancestors,” he said at last. Albert shook his head doubtfully. “At the price of a lie, my father,” he said. But let us suppose even that. He will then call Madame Gerdy.” “Oh, I will answer for her!” cried the count, “her interests are the same as ours. If necessary, I will see her. Yes,” he added with an effort, “I will call on her, I will speak to her; and I will guarantee that she will not betray us.” “And Claudine,” continued the young man; “will she be silent, too?” “For money, yes; and I will give her whatever she asks.” “And you would trust, father, to a paid silence, as if one could ever be sure of a purchased conscience? What is sold to you may be sold to another. A certain sum may close her mouth; a larger will open it.” “I will frighten her.” “You forget, father, that Claudine Lerouge was Noel Gerdy’s nurse, that she takes an interest in his happiness, that she loves him.

How do you know that he has not already secured her aid? She lives at Bougival. No doubt, he sees her often; perhaps it is she who put him on the track of this correspondence. He spoke to me of her, as though he were sure of her testimony. He almost proposed my going to her for information.” “Alas!” cried the count, “why is not Claudine dead instead of my faithful Germain?” “You see, sir,” concluded Albert, “Claudine Lerouge would alone render all your efforts useless.” “Ah, no!” cried the count; “I shall find some expedient.” The obstinate old gentleman was not willing to give in to this argument, the very clearness of which blinded him. The pride of his blood paralyzed his usual practical good sense. To acknowledge that he was conquered humiliated him, and seemed to him unworthy of himself. He did not remember to have met during his long career an invincible resistance or an absolute impediment.

He was like all men of imagination, who fall in love with their projects, and who expect them to succeed on all occasions, as if wishing hard was all that was necessary to change their dreams into realities. Albert this time broke the silence, which threatened to be prolonged. “I see, sir,” he said, “that you fear, above all things, the publicity of this sad history; the possible scandal renders you desperate. But, unless we yield, the scandal will be terrible. There will be a trial which will be the talk of all Europe. The newspapers will print the facts, accompanied by heavens knows what comments of their own. Our name, however the trial results, will appear in all the papers of the world. This might be borne, if we were sure of succeeding; but we are bound to lose, my father, we shall lose.

think of the dishonour branded upon us by public opinion.” “I think,” said the count, “that you can have neither respect nor affection for me, when you speak in that way.” “It is my duty, sir, to point out to you the evils I see threatening, and which there is yet time to shun. Noel Gerdy is your legitimate son, recognize him, acknowledge his just pretensions, and receive him. We can make the change very quietly. It is easy to account for it, through a mistake of the nurse, Claudine Lerouge, for instance. All parties being agreeable, there can be no trouble about it. What is to prevent the new Viscount de Commarin from quitting Paris, and disappearing for a time? He might travel about Europe for four or five years; by the end of that time, all will be forgotten, and no one will remember me.” M. de Commarin was not listening; he was deep in thought. “But instead of contesting, viscount,” he cried, “we might compromise.

We may be able to purchase these letters. What does this young fellow want? A position and a fortune? I will make him as rich as he can wish. I will give him a million; if need be, two, three,--half of all I possess. With money, you see, much money--” “Spare him, sir; he is your son.” “Unfortunately! and I wish him to the devil! I will see him, and he will agree to what I wish. I will prove to him the bad policy of the earthen pot struggling with the iron kettle; and, if he is not a fool, he will understand.” The count rubbed his hands while speaking.

He was delighted with this brilliant plan of negotiation. It could not fail to result favorably. A crowd of arguments occurred to his mind in support of it. He would buy back again his lost rest. But Albert did not seem to share his father’s hopes, “You will perhaps think it unkind in me, sir,” said he, sadly, “to dispel this last illusion of yours; but I must. Do not delude yourself with the idea of an amicable arrangement; the awakening will only be the more painful.

I have seen M.

Gerdy, my father, and he is not one, I assure you, to be intimidated. If there is an energetic will in the world, it is his. He is truly your son; and his expression, like yours, shows an iron resolution, that may be broken but never bent.

I can still hear his voice trembling with resentment, while he spoke to me. I can still see the dark fire of his eyes. No, he will never accept a compromise. He will have all or nothing; and I cannot say that he is wrong. If you resist, he will attack you without the slightest consideration. Strong in his rights, he will cling to you with stubborn animosity. He will drag you from court to court; he will not stop short of utter defeat or complete triumph.” Accustomed to absolute obedience from his son, the old nobleman was astounded at this unexpected obstinacy. “What is your object in saying all this?” he asked. I should utterly despise myself, if I did not spare your old age this greatest of calamities.

Your name does not belong to me; I will take my own. I am your natural son; I will give up my place to your legitimate son. Permit me to withdraw with at least the honour of having freely done my duty. Do not force me to wait till I am driven out in disgrace.” “What!” cried the count, stunned, “you will abandon me? You refuse to help me, you turn against me, you recognize the rights of this man in spite of my wishes?” Albert bowed his head. He was much moved, but still remained firm. “My resolution is irrevocably taken,” he replied. “I can never consent to despoil your son.” “Cruel, ungrateful boy!” cried M. de Commarin. His wrath was such, that, when he found he could do nothing by abuse, he passed at once to jeering.

“But no,” he continued, “you are great, you are noble, you are generous; you are acting after the most approved pattern of chivalry, viscount, I should say, my dear M. Gerdy; after the fashion of Plutarch’s time! So you give up my name and my fortune, and you leave me. You will shake the dust from your shoes upon the threshold of my house; and you will go out into the world. I see only one difficulty in your way.

Have you a trade at your fingers’ ends, like Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Emile? Gerdy, have you learned economy from the four thousand francs a month I allow you for waxing your moustache? Perhaps you have made money on the Bourse! Then my name must have seemed very burdensome to you to bear, since you so eagerly introduced it into such a place!

Has dirt, then, so great an attraction for you that you must jump from your carriage so quickly?

Say, rather, that the company of my friends embarrasses you, and that you are anxious to go where you will be among your equals.” “I am very wretched, sir,” replied Albert to this avalanche of insults, “and you would crush me!” “You wretched! Well, whose fault is it? But let us get back to my question. How and on what will you live?” “I am not so romantic as you are pleased to say, sir. I must confess that, as regards the future, I have counted upon your kindness. You are so rich, that five hundred thousand francs would not materially affect your fortune; and, on the interest of that sum, I could live quietly, if not happily.” “And suppose I refuse you this money?” “I know you well enough, sir, to feel sure that you will not do so.

You are too just to wish that I alone should expiate wrongs that are not of my making. Left to myself, I should at my present age have achieved a position. It is late for me to try and make one now; but I will do my best.” “Superb!” interrupted the count; “you are really superb! One never heard of such a hero of romance. What a character! But tell me, what do you expect from all this astonishing disinterestedness?” “Nothing, sir.” The count shrugged his shoulders, looked sarcastically at his son, and observed: “The compensation is very slight. And you expect me to believe all this! No, sir, mankind is not in the habit of indulging in such fine actions for its pleasure alone. You must have some reason for acting so grandly; some reason which I fail to see.” “None but what I have already told you.” “Therefore it is understood you intend to relinquish everything; you will even abandon your proposed union with Mademoiselle Claire d’Arlange?

You forget that for two years I have in vain constantly expressed my disappointment of this marriage.” “No, sir. I have seen Mademoiselle Claire; I have explained my unhappy position to her. Whatever happens, she has sworn to be my wife.” “And do you think that Madame d’Arlange will give her granddaughter to M. The marchioness is sufficiently infected with aristocratic ideas to prefer a nobleman’s bastard to the son of some honest tradesman; but should she refuse, we would await her death, though without desiring it.” The calm manner in which Albert said this enraged the count. “Can this be my son?” he cried. What blood have you then in your veins, sir?

Your worthy mother alone might tell us, provided, however, she herself knows.” “Sir,” cried Albert menacingly, “think well before you speak! She is my mother, and that is sufficient. I am her son, not her judge. No one shall insult her in my presence, I will not permit it, sir; and I will suffer it least of all from you.” The count made great efforts to keep his anger within bounds, but Albert’s behavior thoroughly enraged him. What, his son rebelled, he dared to brave him to his face, he threatened him!

The old fellow jumped from his chair, and moved towards the young man as if he would strike him. “Leave the room,” he cried, in a voice choking with rage, “leave the room instantly! Retire to your apartments, and take care not to leave them without my orders. To-morrow I will let you know my decision.” Albert bowed respectfully, but without lowering his eyes and walked slowly to the door. He had already opened it, when M. de Commarin experienced one of those revulsions of feeling, so frequent in violent natures. “Albert,” said he, “come here and listen to me.” The young man turned back, much affected by this change. “Do not go,” continued the count, “until I have told you what I think.

You are worthy of being the heir of a great house, sir. I may be angry with you; but I can never lose my esteem for you. You are a noble man, Albert. Give me your hand.” It was a happy moment for these two men, and such a one as they had scarcely ever experienced in their lives, restrained as they had been by cold etiquette. The count felt proud of his son, and recognised in him himself at that age. For a long time their hands remained clasped, without either being able to utter a word. At last, M. de Commarin resumed his seat.

“I must ask you to leave me, Albert,” he said kindly. “I must be alone to reflect, to try and accustom myself to this terrible blow.” And, as the young man closed the door, he added, as if giving vent to his inmost thoughts, “If he, in whom I have placed all my hope, deserts me, what will become of me? And what will the other one be like?” Albert’s features, when he left the count’s study, bore traces of the violent emotions he had felt during the interview. The servants whom he met noticed it the more, as they had heard something of the quarrel. “Well,” said an old footman who had been in the family thirty years, “the count has had another unhappy scene with his son. The old fellow has been in a dreadful passion.” “I got wind of it at dinner,” spoke up a valet de chambre: “the count restrained himself enough not to burst out before me; but he rolled his eyes fiercely.” “What can be the matter?” “Pshaw! that’s more than they know themselves.

Why, Denis, before whom they always speak freely, says that they often wrangle for hours together, like dogs, about things which he can never see through.” “Ah,” cried out a young fellow, who was being trained to service, “if I were in the viscount’s place, I’d settle the old gent pretty effectually!” “Joseph, my friend,” said the footman pointedly, “you are a fool. You might give your father his walking ticket very properly, because you never expect five sous from him; and you have already learned how to earn your living without doing any work at all. But the viscount, pray tell me what he is good for, what he knows how to do? Put him in the centre of Paris, with only his fine hands for capital, and you will see.” “Yes, but he has his mother’s property in Normandy,” replied Joseph. “I can’t for the life of me,” said the valet de chambre, “see what the count finds to complain of; for his son is a perfect model, and I shouldn’t be sorry to have one like him.

There was a very different pair, when I was in the Marquis de Courtivois’s service. He was one who made it a point never to be in good humor. His eldest son, who is a friend of the viscount’s, and who comes here occasionally, is a pit without a bottom, as far as money is concerned. He will fritter away a thousand-franc note quicker than Joseph can smoke a pipe.” “But the marquis is not rich,” said a little old man, who himself had perhaps the enormous wages of fifteen francs; “he can’t have more than sixty thousand francs’ income at the most.” “That’s why he gets angry. Every day there is some new story about his son. He had an apartment in the house; he went in and out when he pleased; he passed his nights in gaming and drinking; he cut up so with the actresses that the police had to interfere.

Besides all this, I have many a time had to help him up to his room, and put him to bed, when the waiters from the restaurants brought him home in a carriage, so drunk that he could scarcely say a word.” “Ha!” exclaimed Joseph enthusiastically, “this fellow’s service must be mighty profitable.” “That was according to circumstances.

When he was at play, he was lavish with his money; but he always lost: and, when he was drunk, he had a quick temper, and didn’t spare the blows. I must do him the justice to say, though, that his cigars were splendid. But he was a ruffian; while the viscount here is a true child of wisdom. He is severe upon our faults, it is true; but he is never harsh nor brutal to his servants.

Then he is uniformly generous; which in the long run pays us best. I must say that he is better than the majority, and that the count is very unreasonable.” Such was the judgment of the servants. That of society was perhaps less favorable. The Viscount de Commarin was not one of those who possess the rather questionable and at times unenviable accomplishment of pleasing every one. He was wise enough to distrust those astonishing personages who are always praising everybody. In looking about us, we often see men of success and reputation, who are simply dolts, without any merit except their perfect insignificance. That stupid propriety which offends no one, that uniform politeness which shocks no one’s vanity, have peculiarly the gift of pleasing and of succeeding. One cannot meet certain persons without saying, “I know that face; I have seen it somewhere, before;” because it has no individuality, but simply resembles faces seen in a common crowd.

It is precisely so with the minds of certain other people. When they speak, you know exactly what they are going to say; you have heard the same thing so many times already from them, you know all their ideas by heart.

These people are welcomed everywhere: because they have nothing peculiar about them; and peculiarity, especially in the upper classes, is always irritating and offensive; they detest all innovations.

Albert was peculiar; consequently much discussed, and very differently estimated. He was charged with sins of the most opposite character, with faults so contradictory that they were their own defence. Some accused him, for instance, of entertaining ideas entirely too liberal for one of his rank; and, at the same time, others complained of his excessive arrogance. He was charged with treating with insulting levity the most serious questions, and was then blamed for his affectation of gravity.

People knew him scarcely well enough to love him, while they were jealous of him and feared him.

He wore a bored look in all fashionable reunions, which was considered very bad taste. Forced by his relations, by his father, to go into society a great deal, he was bored, and committed the unpardonable sin of letting it be seen. Perhaps he had been disgusted by the constant court made to him, by the rather coarse attentions which were never spared the noble heir of one of the richest families in France.

Having all the necessary qualities for shining, he despised them. Dreadful sin! He did not abuse his advantages; and no one ever heard of his getting into a scrape. He had had once, it was said, a very decided liking for Madame Prosny, perhaps the naughtiest, certainly the most mischievous woman in Paris; but that was all. Mothers who had daughters to dispose of upheld him; but, for the last two years, they had turned against him, when his love for Mademoiselle d’Arlange became well known. At the club they rallied him on his prudence.

He had had, like others, his run of follies; but he had soon got disgusted with what it is the fashion to call pleasure. The noble profession of bon vivant appeared to him very tame and tiresome. He did not enjoy passing his nights at cards; nor did he appreciate the society of those frail sisters, who in Paris give notoriety to their lovers. He affirmed that a gentleman was not necessarily an object of ridicule because he would not expose himself in the theatre with these women. Finally, none of his friends could ever inoculate him with a passion for the turf. As doing nothing wearied him, he attempted, like the parvenu, to give some meaning to life by work. He purposed, after a while, to take part in public affairs; and, as he had often been struck with the gross ignorance of many men in power, he wished to avoid their example. He busied himself with politics; and this was the cause of all his quarrels with his father. The one word of “liberal” was enough to throw the count into convulsions; and he suspected his son of liberalism, ever since reading an article by the viscount, published in the “Revue des Deux Mondes.” His ideas, however, did not prevent his fully sustaining his rank.

He spent most nobly on the world the revenue which placed his father and himself a little above it. His establishment, distinct from the count’s, was arranged as that of a wealthy young gentleman’s ought to be. His liveries left nothing to be desired; and his horses and equipages were celebrated. Letters of invitation were eagerly sought for to the grand hunting parties, which he formed every year towards the end of October at Commarin,--an admirable piece of property, covered with immense woods. Albert’s love for Claire--a deep, well-considered love--had contributed not a little to keep him from the habits and life of the pleasant and elegant idleness indulged in by his friends. A noble attachment is always a great safeguard. In contending against it, M. de Commarin had only succeeded in increasing its intensity and insuring its continuance. This passion, so annoying to the count, was the source of the most vivid, the most powerful emotions in the viscount. Ennui was banished from his existence.

All his thoughts took the same direction; all his actions had but one aim. Could he look to the right or the left, when, at the end of his journey, he perceived the reward so ardently desired? He resolved that he would never have any wife but Claire; his father absolutely refused his consent.

The effort to change this refusal had long been the business of his life. Finally, after three years of perseverance, he had triumphed; the count had given his consent. And now, just as he was reaping the happiness of success, Noel had arrived, implacable as fate, with his cursed letters. On leaving M. de Commarin, and while slowly mounting the stairs which led to his apartments, Albert’s thoughts reverted to Claire. What was she doing at that moment? She knew that the crisis would come that very evening, or the next day at the latest. She was probably praying.

Albert was thoroughly exhausted; his head felt dizzy, and seemed ready to burst. He rang for his servant, and ordered some tea. “You do wrong in not sending for the doctor, sir,” said Lubin, his valet. “I ought to disobey you, and send for him myself.” “It would be useless,” replied Albert sadly; “he could do nothing for me.” As the valet was leaving the room, he added,--“Say nothing about my being unwell to any one, Lubin; it is nothing at all. If I should feel worse, I will ring.” At that moment, to see any one, to hear a voice, to have to reply, was more than he could bear. After the painful emotions arising from his explanations with the count, he could not sleep. He opened one of the library windows, and looked out. It was a beautiful night: and there was a lovely moon. Seen at this hour, by the mild, tremulous evening light, the gardens attached to the mansion seemed twice their usual size.

The moving tops of the great trees stretched away like an immense plain, hiding the neighbouring houses; the flower-beds, set off by the green shrubs, looked like great black patches, while particles of shell, tiny pieces of glass, and shining pebbles sparkled in the carefully kept walks. The horses stamped in the stable and the rattling of their halter chains against the bars of the manger could be distinctly heard. In the coach-house the men were putting away for the night the carriage, always kept ready throughout the evening, in case the count should wish to go out. Albert was reminded by these surroundings, of the magnificence of his past life. “Must I, then, lose all this?” he murmured. “I can scarcely, even for myself, abandon so much splendour without regret; and thinking of Claire makes it hard indeed. Have I not dreamed of a life of exceptional happiness for her, a result almost impossible to realise without wealth?” Midnight sounded from the neighbouring church of St. Clotilde, and as the night was chilly, he closed the window, and sat down near the fire, which he stirred. In the hope of obtaining a respite from his thoughts, he took up the evening paper, in which was an account of the assassination at La Jonchere; but he found it impossible to read: the lines danced before his eyes.

Then he thought of writing to Claire. He sat down at his desk, and wrote, “My dearly loved Claire,” but he could go no further; his distracted brain could not furnish him with a single sentence. At last, at break of day, he threw himself on to a sofa, and fell into a heavy sleep peopled with phantoms. At half-past nine in the morning, he was suddenly awakened, by the noise of the door being hastily opened. A servant entered, with a scared look on his face, and so out of breath from having come up the stairs four at a time, that he could scarcely speak. “Sir,” said he, “viscount, be quick, fly and hide, save yourself, they are here, it is the--” A commissary of police, wearing his sash, appeared at the door. He was followed by a number of men, among whom M. Tabaret could be seen, keeping as much out of sight as possible. The commissary approached Albert.

“You are,” he asked, “Guy Louis Marie Albert de Rheteau de Commarin?” “Yes, sir.” The commissary placed his hand upon him, while pronouncing the usual formula: “M.

de Commarin, in the name of the law I arrest you.” “Me, sir? me?” Albert, aroused suddenly from his painful dreams, seemed hardly to comprehend what was taking place, seemed to ask himself,--“Am I really awake? Is not this some hideous nightmare?” He threw a stupid, astonished look upon the commissary of police, his men, and M. Tabaret, who had not taken his eyes off him. “Here is the warrant,” added the commissary, unfolding the paper. Mechanically Albert glanced over it. “Claudine assassinated!” he cried.

Then very low, but distinct enough to be heard by the commissary, by one of his officers, and by old Tabaret, he added,--“I am lost!” While the commissary was making inquiries, which immediately follow all arrests, the police officers spread through the apartments, and proceeded to a searching examination of them. They had received orders to obey M. Tabaret, and the old fellow guided them in their search, made them ransack drawers and closets, and move the furniture to look underneath or behind. They seized a number of articles belonging to the viscount,--documents, manuscripts, and a very voluminous correspondence; but it was with especial delight that M. Tabaret put his hands on certain articles, which were carefully described in their proper order in the official report: 1. In the ante-room, hung with all sorts of weapons, a broken foil was found behind a sofa. This foil has a peculiar handle, and is unlike those commonly sold. It is ornamented with the count’s coronet, and the initials A.

It has been broken at about the middle; and the end cannot be found. When questioned, the viscount declared that he did not know what had become of the missing end. In the dressing-room, a pair of black cloth trousers was discovered still damp, and bearing stains of mud or rather of mould. All one side is smeared with greenish moss, like that which grows on walls. On the front are numerous rents; and one near the knee is about four inches long. These trousers had not been hung up with the other clothes; but appear to have been hidden between two large trunks full of clothing.

In the pocket of the above mentioned trousers was found a pair of lavender kid gloves. The palm of the right hand glove bears a large greenish stain, produced by grass or moss. The tips of the fingers have been worn as if by rubbing. Upon the backs of both gloves are some scratches, apparently made by finger-nails. There were also found in the dressing-room two pairs of boots, one of which, though clean and polished, was still very damp; and an umbrella recently wetted, the end of which was still covered with a light coloured mud. In a large room, called the library, were found a box of cigars of the trabucos brand, and on the mantel-shelf a number of cigar-holders in amber and meerschaum. The last article noted down, M. Tabaret approached the commissary of police. “I have everything I could desire,” he whispered. “And I have finished,” replied the commissary.

“Our prisoner does not appear to know exactly how to act. You heard what he said. He gave in at once. I suppose YOU will call it lack of experience.” “In the middle of the day,” replied the amateur detective in a whisper, “he would not have been quite so crestfallen. But early in the morning, suddenly awakened, you know--Always arrest a person early in the morning, when he’s hungry, and only half awake.” “I have questioned some of the servants. Their evidence is rather peculiar.” “Very well; we shall see. But I must hurry off and find the investigating magistrate, who is impatiently expecting me.” Albert was beginning to recover a little from the stupor into which he had been plunged by the entrance of the commissary of police. “Sir,” he asked, “will you permit me to say a few words in your presence to the Count de Commarin?

I am the victim of some mistake, which will be very soon discovered.” “It’s always a mistake,” muttered old Tabaret.

“What you ask is impossible,” replied the commissary. “I have special orders of the strictest sort. You must not henceforth communicate with a living soul. A cab is in waiting below. Have the goodness to accompany me to it.” In crossing the vestibule, Albert noticed a great stir among the servants; they all seemed to have lost their senses. Denis gave some orders in a sharp, imperative tone. Then he thought he heard that the Count de Commarin had been struck down with apoplexy. After that, he remembered nothing. They almost carried him to the cab which drove off as fast as the two little horses could go.

Tabaret had just hastened away in a more rapid vehicle. CHAPTER X. The visitor who risks himself in the labyrinth of galleries and stairways in the Palais de Justice, and mounts to the third story in the left wing, will find himself in a long, low-studded gallery, badly lighted by narrow windows, and pierced at short intervals by little doors, like a hall at the ministry or at a lodging-house.

It is a place difficult to view calmly, the imagination makes it appear so dark and dismal. It needs a Dante to compose an inscription to place above the doors which lead from it. From morning to night, the flagstones resound under the heavy tread of the gendarmes, who accompany the prisoners. You can scarcely recall anything but sad figures there. There are the parents or friends of the accused, the witnesses, the detectives. In this gallery, far from the sight of men, the judicial curriculum is gone through with.

Each one of the little doors, which has its number painted over it in black, opens into the office of a judge of inquiry. All the rooms are just alike: if you see one, you have seen them all. They have nothing terrible nor sad in themselves; and yet it is difficult to enter one of them without a shudder. They are cold. The walls all seem moist with the tears which have been shed there. You shudder, at thinking of the avowals wrested from the criminals, of the confessions broken with sobs murmured there.

In the office of the judge of inquiry, Justice clothes herself in none of that apparel which she afterwards dons in order to strike fear into the masses. She is still simple, and almost disposed to kindness. She says to the prisoner,-- “I have strong reasons for thinking you guilty; but prove to me your innocence, and I will release you.” On entering one of these rooms, a stranger would imagine that he got into a cheap shop by mistake. The furniture is of the most primitive sort, as is the case in all places where important matters are transacted. Of what consequence are surroundings to the judge hunting down the author of a crime, or to the accused who is defending his life? A desk full of documents for the judge, a table for the clerk, an arm-chair, and one or two chairs besides comprise the entire furniture of the antechamber of the court of assize. The walls are hung with green paper; the curtains are green, and the floors are carpeted in the same color. Monsieur Daburon’s office bore the number fifteen. Daburon had arrived at his office in the Palais de Justice at nine o’clock in the morning, and was waiting. His course resolved upon, he had not lost an instant, understanding as well as old Tabaret the necessity for rapid action.

He had already had an interview with the public prosecutor, and had arranged everything with the police. Besides issuing the warrant against Albert, he had summoned the Count de Commarin, Madame Gerdy, Noel, and some of Albert’s servants, to appear before him with as little delay as possible.

He thought it essential to question all these persons before examining the prisoner.

Several detectives had started off to execute his orders, and he himself sat in his office, like a general commanding an army, who sends off his aide-de-camp to begin the battle, and who hopes that victory will crown his combinations. Often, at this same hour, he had sat in this office, under circumstances almost identical. A crime had been committed, and, believing he had discovered the criminal, he had given orders for his arrest. Was not that his duty? But he had never before experienced the anxiety of mind which disturbed him now.

Many a time had he issued warrants of arrest, without possessing even half the proofs which guided him in the present case. He kept repeating this to himself; and yet he could not quiet his dreadful anxiety, which would not allow him a moment’s rest. He wondered why his people were so long in making their appearance.

He walked up and down the room, counting the minutes, drawing out his watch three times within a quarter of an hour, to compare it with the clock. Every time he heard a step in the passage, almost deserted at that hour, he moved near the door, stopped and listened. At length some one knocked. It was his clerk, whom he had sent for.

There was nothing particular in this man; he was tall rather than big, and very slim. His gait was precise, his gestures were methodical, and his face was as impassive as if it had been cut out of a piece of yellow wood. He was thirty-four years of age and during fifteen years had acted as clerk to four investigating magistrates in succession.

He could hear the most astonishing things without moving a muscle. His name was Constant. He bowed to the magistrate, and excused himself for his tardiness. He had been busy with some book-keeping, which he did every morning; and his wife had had to send after him.

“You are still in good time,” said M. Daburon: “but we shall soon have plenty of work: so you had better get your paper ready.” Five minutes later, the usher introduced M. He entered with an easy manner, like an advocate who was well acquainted with the Palais, and who knew its winding ways. He in no wise resembled, this morning, old Tabaret’s friend; still less could he have been recognized as Madame Juliette’s lover.

He was entirely another being, or rather he had resumed his every-day bearing. From his firm step, his placid face, one would never imagine that, after an evening of emotion and excitement, after a secret visit to his mistress, he had passed the night by the pillow of a dying woman, and that woman his mother, or at least one who had filled his mother’s place. What a contrast between him and the magistrate! Daburon had not slept either: but one could easily see that in his feebleness, in his anxious look, in the dark, circles about his eyes. His shirt-front was all rumpled, and his cuffs were far from clean. Carried away by the course of events, the mind had forgotten the body. Noel’s well-shaved chin, on the contrary, rested upon an irreproachably white cravat; his collar did not show a crease; his hair and his whiskers had been most carefully brushed.

Daburon, and held out the summons he had received. “You summoned me, sir,” he said; “and I am here awaiting your orders.” The investigating magistrate had met the young advocate several times in the lobbies of the Palais; and he knew him well by sight. He remembered having heard M. Gerdy spoken of as a man of talent and promise, whose reputation was fast rising. He therefore welcomed him as a fellow-workman, and invited him to be seated.

The preliminaries common in the examinations of all witnesses ended; the name, surname, age, place of business, and so on having been written down, the magistrate, who had followed his clerk with his eyes while he was writing, turned towards Noel. Gerdy,” he began, “the matters in connection with which you are troubled with appearing before me?” “Yes, sir, the murder of that poor old woman at La Jonchere.” “Precisely,” replied M. Daburon. Then, calling to mind his promise to old Tabaret, he added, “If justice has summoned you so promptly, it is because we have found your name often mentioned in Widow Lerouge’s papers.” “I am not surprised at that,” replied the advocate: “we were greatly interested in that poor woman, who was my nurse; and I know that Madame Gerdy wrote to her frequently.” “Very well; then you can give me some information about her.” “I fear, sir, that it will be very incomplete. I know very little about this poor old Madame Lerouge. I was taken from her at a very early age; and, since I have been a man, I have thought but little about her, except to send her occasionally a little aid.” “You never went to visit her?” “Excuse me.

I have gone there to see her many times, but I remained only a few minutes. Madame Gerdy, who has often seen her, and to whom she talked of all her affairs, could have enlightened you much better than I.” “But,” said the magistrate, “I expect shortly to see Madame Gerdy here; she, too, must have received a summons.” “I know it, sir, but it is impossible for her to appear.

She is ill in bed.” “Seriously?” “So seriously that you will be obliged, I think, to give up all hope of her testimony. She is attacked with a disease which, in the words of my friend, Dr. It is something like inflammation of the brain, if I am not mistaken. It may be that her life will be saved, but she will never recover her reason.

If she does not die, she will be insane.” M. Daburon appeared greatly vexed. “This is very annoying,” he muttered. “And you think, my dear sir, that it will be impossible to obtain any information from her?” “It is useless even to hope for it. She has completely lost her reason. She was, when I left her, in such a state of utter prostration that I fear she can not live through the day.” “And when was she attacked by this illness?” “Yesterday evening.” “Suddenly?” “Yes, sir; at least, apparently so, though I myself think she has been unwell for the last three weeks at least.

Yesterday, however, on rising from dinner, after having eaten but little, she took up a newspaper; and, by a most unfortunate hazard, her eyes fell exactly upon the lines which gave an account of this crime. She at once uttered a loud cry, fell back in her chair, and thence slipped to the floor, murmuring, ‘Oh, the unhappy man, the unhappy man!’” “The unhappy woman, you mean.” “No, sir. She uttered the words I have just repeated. Evidently the exclamation did not refer to my poor nurse.” Upon this reply, so important and yet made in the most unconscious tone, M. Daburon raised his eyes to the witness.

The advocate lowered his head.

“And then?” asked the magistrate, after a moment’s silence, during which he had taken a few notes. “Those words, sir, were the last spoken by Madame Gerdy. Assisted by our servant, I carried her to her bed. The doctor was sent for; and, since then, she has not recovered consciousness.

Daburon. “Let us leave that for the present. Do you know, sir, whether Widow Lerouge had any enemies?” “None that I know of, sir.” “She had no enemies?

Well, now tell me, does there exist to your knowledge any one having the least interest in the death of this poor woman?” As he asked this question the investigating magistrate kept his eyes fixed on Noel’s, not wishing him to turn or lower his head. The advocate started, and seemed deeply moved. He was disconcerted; he hesitated, as if a struggle was going on within him. Finally, in a voice which was by no means firm, he replied, “No, no one.” “Is that really true?” asked the magistrate, looking at him more searchingly. “You know no one whom this crime benefits, or whom it might benefit,--absolutely no one?” “I know only one thing, sir,” replied Noel; “and that is, that, as far as I am concerned, it has caused me an irreparable injury.” “At last,” thought M. Daburon, “we have got at the letters; and I have not betrayed poor old Tabaret. It would be too bad to cause the least trouble to that zealous and invaluable man.” He then added aloud: “An injury to you, my dear sir? You will, I hope, explain yourself.” Noel’s embarrassment, of which he had already given some signs, appeared much more marked. “I am aware, sir,” he replied, “that I owe justice not merely the truth, but the whole truth; but there are circumstances involved so delicate that the conscience of a man of honour sees danger in them.

Besides, it is very hard to be obliged to unveil such sad secrets, the revelation of which may sometimes--” M. Daburon interrupted with a gesture. Noel’s sad tone impressed him. Knowing, beforehand, what he was about to hear, he felt for the young advocate. “Constant!” said he in a peculiar tone.

This was evidently a signal; for the tall clerk rose methodically, put his pen behind his ear, and went out in his measured tread. Noel appeared sensible of this kindness. His face expressed the strongest gratitude; his look returned thanks. “I am very much obliged to you, sir,” he said with suppressed warmth, “for your considerateness. What I have to say is very painful; but it will be scarcely an effort to speak before you now.” “Fear nothing,” replied the magistrate; “I will only retain of your deposition, my dear sir, what seems to me absolutely indispensable.” “I feel scarcely master of myself, sir,” began Noel; “so pray pardon my emotion. If any words escape me that seem charged with bitterness, excuse them; they will be involuntary. Up to the past few days, I always believed that I was the offspring of illicit love. I have been honourably ambitious; I have worked hard. He who has no name must make one, you know. I have passed a quiet life, retired and austere, as people must, who, starting at the foot of the ladder, wish to reach the top.

I worshipped her whom I believed to be my mother; and I felt convinced that she loved me in return. The stain of my birth had some humiliations attached to it; but I despised them. Comparing my lot with that of so many others, I felt that I had more than common advantages. One day, Providence placed in my hands all the letters which my father, the Count de Commarin, had written to Madame Gerdy during the time she was his mistress. On reading these letters, I was convinced that I was not what I had hitherto believed myself to be,--that Madame Gerdy was not my mother!” And, without giving M. Daburon time to reply, he laid before him the facts which, twelve hours before, he had related to M. Tabaret.

It was the same story, with the same circumstances, the same abundance of precise and conclusive details; but the tone in which it was told was entirely changed. When speaking to the old detective, the young advocate had been emphatic and violent; but now, in the presence of the investigating magistrate, he restrained his vehement emotions. One might imagine that he adapted his style to his auditors, wishing to produce the same effect on both, and using the method which would best accomplish his purpose. To an ordinary mind like M. Tabaret’s he used the exaggeration of anger; but to a man of superior intelligence like M. Daburon, he employed the exaggeration of restraint. With the detective he had rebelled against his unjust lot; but with the magistrate he seemed to bow, full of resignation, before a blind fatality. With genuine eloquence and rare facility of expression, he related his feelings on the day following the discovery,--his grief, his perplexity, his doubts. To support this moral certainty, some positive testimony was needed. Could he hope for this from the count or from Madame Gerdy, both interested in concealing the truth?

But he had counted upon that of his nurse,--the poor old woman who loved him, and who, near the close of her life, would be glad to free her conscience from this heavy load. She was dead now; and the letters became mere waste paper in his hands. Then he passed on to his explanation with Madame Gerdy, and he gave the magistrate even fuller details than he had given his old neighbour. She had, he said, at first utterly denied the substitution, but he insinuated that, plied with questions, and overcome by the evidence, she had, in a moment of despair, confessed all, declaring, soon after, that she would retract and deny this confession, being resolved at all hazards that her son should preserve his position. From this scene, in the advocate’s judgment, might be dated the first attacks of the illness, to which she was now succumbing. Noel then described his interview with the Viscount de Commarin. A few inaccuracies occurred in his narrative, but so slight that it would have been difficult to charge him with them. Besides, there was nothing in them at all unfavourable to Albert. He insisted, on the contrary, upon the excellent impression which that young man had made on him.

Albert had received the revelation with a certain distrust, it is true, but with a noble firmness at the same time, and, like a brave heart, was ready to bow before the justification of right. In fact, he drew an almost enthusiastic portrait of this rival, who had not been spoiled by prosperity, who had left him without a look of hatred, towards whom he felt himself drawn, and who after all was his brother. Daburon listened to Noel with the most unremitting attention, without allowing a word, a movement, or a frown, to betray his feelings. “How, sir,” observed the magistrate when the young man ceased speaking, “could you have told me that, in your opinion, no one was interested in Widow Lerouge’s death?” The advocate made no reply.

Daburon, “that the Viscount de Commarin’s position has thereby become almost impregnable.

Madame Gerdy is insane; the count will deny all; your letters prove nothing. It is evident that the crime is of the greatest service to this young man, and that it was committed at a singularly favourable moment.” “Oh sir!” cried Noel, protesting with all his energy, “this insinuation is dreadful.” The magistrate watched the advocate’s face narrowly. Was he speaking frankly, or was he but playing at being generous? Could it really be that he had never had any suspicion of this? Noel did not flinch under the gaze, but almost immediately continued,--“What reason could this young man have for trembling, or fearing for his position? I did not utter one threatening word, even indirectly. I did not present myself like a man who, furious at being robbed, demands that everything which had been taken from him should be restored on the spot. I merely presented the facts to Albert, saying, ‘Here is the truth?

what do you think we ought to do? Be the judge.’” “And he asked you for time?” “Yes. I had suggested his accompanying me to see Widow Lerouge, whose testimony might dispel all doubts; he did not seem to understand me. But he was well acquainted with her, having visited her with the count, who supplied her, I have since learned, liberally with money.” “Did not this generosity appear to you very singular?” “No.” “Can you explain why the viscount did not appear disposed to accompany you?” “Certainly. He had just said that he wished, before all, to have an explanation with his father, who was then absent, but who would return in a few days.” The truth, as all the world knows, and delights in proclaiming, has an accent which no one can mistake. Daburon had not the slightest doubt of his witness’s good faith.

Noel continued with the ingenuous candour of an honest heart which suspicion has never touched with its bat’s wing: “The idea of treating at once with my father pleased me exceedingly. I thought it so much better to wash all one’s dirty linen at home, I had never desired anything but an amicable arrangement. With my hands full of proofs, I should still recoil from a public trial.” “Would you not have brought an action?” “Never, sir, not at any price. Could I,” he added proudly, “to regain my rightful name, begin by dishonouring it?” This time M. Daburon could not conceal his sincere admiration. “A most praiseworthy feeling, sir,” he said.

“I think,” replied Noel, “that it is but natural. If things came to the worst, I had determined to leave my title with Albert. No doubt the name of Commarin is an illustrious one; but I hope that, in ten years time, mine will be more known. I would, however, have demanded a large pecuniary compensation.

I possess nothing: and I have often been hampered in my career by the want of money. That which Madame Gerdy owed to the generosity of my father was almost entirely spent. My education had absorbed a great part of it; and it was long before my profession covered my expenses. Madame Gerdy and I live very quietly; but, unfortunately, though simple in her tastes, she lacks economy and system; and no one can imagine how great our expenses have been. But I have nothing to reproach myself with, whatever happens. At the commencement, I could not keep my anger well under control; but now I bear no ill-will.

On learning of the death of my nurse, though, I cast all my hopes into the sea.” “You were wrong, my dear sir,” said the magistrate. “I advise you to still hope. Perhaps, before the end of the day, you will enter into possession of your rights. Justice, I will not conceal from you, thinks she has found Widow Lerouge’s assassin. At this moment, Viscount Albert is doubtless under arrest.” “What!” exclaimed Noel, with a sort of stupor: “I was not, then, mistaken, sir, in the meaning of your words. I dreaded to understand them.” “You have not mistaken me, sir,” said M. Daburon. “I thank you for your sincere straightforward explanations; they have eased my task materially.

To-morrow,--for today my time is all taken up,--we will write down your deposition together if you like. I have nothing more to say, I believe, except to ask you for the letters in your possession, and which are indispensable to me.” “Within an hour, sir, you shall have them,” replied Noel. And he retired, after having warmly expressed his gratitude to the investigating magistrate. Had he been less preoccupied, the advocate might have perceived at the end of the gallery old Tabaret, who had just arrived, eager and happy, like a bearer of great news as he was.

His cab had scarcely stopped at the gate of the Palais de Justice before he was in the courtyard and rushing towards the porch.

To see him jumping more nimbly than a fifth-rate lawyer’s clerk up the steep flight of stairs leading to the magistrate’s office, one would never have believed that he was many years on the shady side of fifty. Even he himself had forgotten it. He did not remember how he had passed the night; he had never before felt so fresh, so agile, in such spirits; he seemed to have springs of steel in his limbs. He burst like a cannon-shot into the magistrate’s office, knocking up against the methodical clerk in the rudest of ways, without even asking his pardon. “Caught!” he cried, while yet on the threshold, “caught, nipped, squeezed, strung, trapped, locked! We have got the man.” Old Tabaret, more Tirauclair than ever, gesticulated with such comical vehemence and such remarkable contortions that even the tall clerk smiled, for which, however, he took himself severely to task on going to bed that night. Daburon, still under the influence of Noel’s deposition, was shocked at this apparently unseasonable joy; although he felt the safer for it. He looked severely at old Tabaret, saying,--“Hush, sir; be decent, compose yourself.” At any other time, the old fellow would have felt ashamed at having deserved such a reprimand. Now, it made no impression on him. “I can’t be quiet,” he replied.

“Never has anything like this been known before. All that I mentioned has been found. Broken foil, lavender kid gloves slightly frayed, cigar-holder; nothing is wanting. You shall have them, sir, and many other things besides. I have a little system of my own, which appears by no means a bad one. I’d give a hundred francs if he were only here now. But no; my Gevrol wants to nab the man with the earrings; he is just capable of doing that.

He is a fine fellow, this Gevrol, a famous fellow! How much do you give him a year for his skill?” “Come, my dear M. Tabaret,” said the magistrate, as soon as he could get in a word, “be serious, if you can, and let us proceed in order.” “Pooh!” replied the old fellow, “what good will that do? It is a clear case now.

When they bring the fellow before you, merely show him the particles of kid taken from behind the nails of the victim, side by side with his torn gloves, and you will overwhelm him. I wager that he will confess all, hic et nunc,--yes, I wager my head against his; although that’s pretty risky; for he may get off yet! Those milk-sops on the jury are just capable of according him extenuating circumstances. Ah!

all those delays are fatal to justice!

Why if all the world were of my mind, the punishment of rascals wouldn’t take such a time. They should be hanged as soon as caught. That’s my opinion.” M. Daburon resigned himself to this shower of words. As soon as the old fellow’s excitement had cooled down a little, he began questioning him. He even then had great trouble in obtaining the exact details of the arrest; details which later on were confirmed by the commissary’s official report. The magistrate appeared very surprised when he heard that Albert had exclaimed, “I am lost!” at sight of the warrant. “That,” muttered he, “is a terrible proof against him.” “I should think so,” replied old Tabaret. “In his ordinary state, he would never have allowed himself to utter such words; for they in fact destroy him. We arrested him when he was scarcely awake.

He hadn’t been in bed, but was lying in a troubled sleep, upon a sofa, when we arrived. I took good care to let a frightened servant run in in advance, and to follow closely upon him myself, to see the effect. All my arrangements were made. But, never fear, he will find a plausible excuse for this fatal exclamation. By the way, I should add that we found on the floor, near by, a crumpled copy of last evening’s ‘Gazette de France,’ which contained an account of the assassination. This is the first time that a piece of news in the papers ever helped to nab a criminal.” “Yes,” murmured the magistrate, deep in thought, “yes, you are a valuable man, M. Tabaret.” Then, louder, he added, “I am thoroughly convinced; for M. Gerdy has just this moment left me.” “You have seen Noel!” cried the old fellow.

On the instant all his proud self-satisfaction disappeared. A cloud of anxiety spread itself like a veil over his beaming countenance. “Noel here,” he repeated. Then he timidly added: “And does he know?” “Nothing,” replied M. Daburon. “I had no need of mentioning your name. Besides, had I not promised absolute secrecy?” “Ah, that’s all right,” cried old Tabaret.

“And what do you think sir, of Noel?” “His is, I am sure, a noble, worthy heart,” said the magistrate; “a nature both strong and tender. The sentiments which I heard him express here, and the genuineness of which it is impossible to doubt, manifested an elevation of soul, unhappily, very rare.

Seldom in my life have I met with a man who so won my sympathy from the first.

I can well understand one’s pride in being among his friends.” “Just what I said; he has precisely the same effect upon every one. I love him as though he were my own child; and, whatever happens, he will inherit almost the whole of my fortune: yes, I intend leaving him everything.

My will is made, and is in the hands of M. Baron, my notary. There is a small legacy, too, for Madame Gerdy; but I am going to have the paragraph that relates to that taken out at once.” “Madame Gerdy, M. Tabaret, will soon be beyond all need of worldly goods.” “How, what do you mean? Has the count--” “She is dying, and is not likely to live through the day; M. Gerdy told me so himself.” “Ah!

heavens!” cried the old fellow, “what is that you say? Noel will be distracted; but no: since she is not his mother, how can it affect him?

Poor humanity! It seems as though all the accomplices are passing away at the same time; for I forgot to tell you, that, just as I was leaving the Commarin mansion, I heard a servant tell another that the count had fallen down in a fit on learning the news of his son’s arrest.” “That will be a great misfortune for M. Gerdy.” “For Noel?” “I had counted upon M. de Commarin’s testimony to recover for him all that he so well deserves. The count dead, Widow Lerouge dead, Madame Gerdy dying, or in any event insane, who then can tell us whether the substitution alluded to in the letters was ever carried into execution?” “True,” murmured old Tabaret; “it is true! And I did not think of it.

What fatality! For I am not deceived; I am certain that--” He did not finish. Daburon’s office opened, and the Count de Commarin himself appeared on the threshold, as rigid as one of those old portraits which look as though they were frozen in their gilded frames. The nobleman motioned with his hand, and the two servants who had helped him up as far as the door, retired. CHAPTER XI. It was indeed the Count de Commarin, though more like his shadow. His head, usually carried so high, leant upon his chest; his figure was bent; his eyes had no longer their accustomed fire; his hands trembled. The extreme disorder of his dress rendered more striking still the change which had come over him. In one night, he had grown twenty years older.

This man, yesterday so proud of never having bent to a storm, was now completely shattered.

The pride of his name had constituted his entire strength; that humbled, he seemed utterly overwhelmed. Everything in him gave way at once; all his supports failed him at the same time. His cold, lifeless gaze revealed the dull stupor of his thoughts. He presented such a picture of utter despair that the investigating magistrate slightly shuddered at the sight. Tabaret looked frightened, and even the clerk seemed moved. “Constant,” said M. Daburon quickly, “go with M. Tabaret, and see if there’s any news at the Prefecture.” The clerk left the room, followed by the detective, who went away regretfully. The count had not noticed their presence; he paid no attention to their departure. Daburon offered him a seat, which he accepted with a sad smile.

“I feel so weak,” said he, “you must excuse my sitting.” Apologies to an investigating magistrate! What an advance in civilisation, when the nobles consider themselves subject to the law, and bow to its decrees! Every one respects justice now-a-days, and fears it a little, even when only represented by a simple and conscientious investigating magistrate. “You are, perhaps, too unwell, count,” said the magistrate, “to give me the explanations I had hoped for.” “I am better, thank you,” replied M. de Commarin, “I am as well as could be expected after the shock I have received. When I heard of the crime of which my son is accused, and of his arrest, I was thunderstruck. I believed myself a strong man; but I rolled in the dust. My servants thought me dead.

Why was it not so? The strength of my constitution, my physician tells me, was all that saved me; but I believe that heaven wishes me to live, that I may drink to the bitter dregs my cup of humiliation.” He stopped suddenly, nearly choked by a flow of blood that rose to his mouth. The investigating magistrate remained standing near the table, almost afraid to move. After a few moments’ rest, the count found relief, and continued,--“Unhappy man that I am! ought I not to have expected it? Everything comes to light sooner or later. I am punished for my great sin,--pride.

I thought myself out of reach of the thunderbolt; and I have been the means of drawing down the storm upon my house. Albert an assassin! A Viscount de Commarin arraigned before a court of assize! Ah, sir, punish me, also; for I alone and long ago, laid the foundation of this crime. Fifteen centuries of spotless fame end with me in infamy.” M. Daburon considered Count de Commarin’s conduct unpardonable, and had determined not to spare him. He had expected to meet a proud, haughty noble, almost unmanageable; and he had resolved to humble his arrogance. Perhaps the harsh treatment he had received of old from the Marchioness d’Arlange had given him, unconsciously, a slight grudge against the aristocracy. He had vaguely thought of certain rather severe remarks, which were to overcome the old nobleman, and bring him to a sense of his position. But when he found himself in the presence of such a sincere repentance, his indignation changed to profound pity; and he began to wonder how he could assuage the count’s grief.

de Commarin with an exaltation of which he did not seem capable ten minutes before,--“write my avowal and suppress nothing. I have no longer need of mercy nor of tenderness. What have I to fear now? Is not my disgrace public? Must not I, Count Rheteau de Commarin appear before the tribunal, to proclaim the infamy of our house? Ah! all is lost now, even honour itself.

Write, sir; for I wish that all the world shall know that I am the most deserving of blame. But they shall also know that the punishment has been already terrible, and that there was no need for this last and awful trial.” The count stopped for a moment, to concentrate and arrange his memory. He soon continued, in a firmer voice, and adapting his tone to what he had to say, “When I was of Albert’s age, sir, my parents made me marry, in spite of my protestations, the noblest and purest of young girls. I made her the most unhappy of women. I cherished a most passionate love for a mistress, who had trusted herself to me, and whom I had loved for a long time. I found her rich in beauty, purity and mind. Her name was Valerie. My heart is, so to say, dead and cold in me, sir, but, ah! when I pronounce that name, it still has a great effect upon me. In spite of my marriage, I could not induce myself to part from her, though she wished me to.

The idea of sharing my love with another was revolting to her. Our relations continued. My wife and my mistress became mothers at nearly the same time. This coincidence suggested to me the fatal idea of sacrificing my legitimate son to his less fortunate brother. I communicated this project to Valerie. To my great surprise, she refused it with horror. Already the maternal instinct was aroused within her; she would not be separated from her child. I have preserved, as a monument of my folly, the letters which she wrote to me at that time. I re-read them only last night. Ah!

why did I not listen to both her arguments and her prayers? It was because I was mad. She had a sort of presentiment of the evil which overwhelms me to-day. But I came to Paris;--I had absolute control over her.

I threatened to leave her, never to see her again. She yielded; and my valet and Claudine Lerouge were charged with this wicked substitution. It is, therefore, the son of my mistress who bears the title of Viscount de Commarin, and who was arrested but a short time ago.” M. Daburon had not hoped for a declaration so clear, and above all so prompt. He secretly rejoiced for the young advocate whose noble sentiments had quite captivated him. “So, count,” said he, “you acknowledge that M.

Noel Gerdy is the issue of your legitimate marriage, and that he alone is entitled to bear your name?” “Yes, sir. Alas! I was then more delighted at the success of my project than I should have been over the most brilliant victory. I was so intoxicated with the joy of having my Valerie’s child there, near me, that I forgot everything else. I had transferred to him a part of my love for his mother; or, rather, I loved him still more, if that be possible.

The thought that he would bear my name, that he would inherit all my wealth, to the detriment of the other, transported me with delight. The other, I hated; I could not even look upon him. I do not recollect having kissed him twice. On this point Valerie, who was very good, reproached me severely. One thing alone interfered with my happiness. The Countess de Commarin adored him whom she believed to be her son, and always wished to have him on her knees. I cannot express what I suffered at seeing my wife cover with kisses and caresses the child of my mistress. But I kept him from her as much as I could; and she, poor woman!

not understanding what was passing within me, imagined that I was doing everything to prevent her son loving her.

She died, sir, with this idea, which poisoned her last days. She died of sorrow; but saint-like, without a complaint, without a murmur, pardon upon her lips and in her heart.” Though greatly pressed for time, M.

Daburon did not venture to interrupt the count, to ask him briefly for the immediate facts of the case.

He knew that fever alone gave him this unnatural energy, to which at any moment might succeed the most complete prostration.

He feared, if he stopped him for an instant, that he would not have strength enough to resume. “I did not shed a single tear,” continued the count.

“What had she been in my life? A cause of sorrow and remorse. But God’s justice, in advance of man’s was about to take a terrible revenge. One day, I was warned that Valerie was deceiving me, and had done so for a long time. I could not believe it at first; it seemed to me impossible, absurd. I would have sooner doubted myself than her. I had taken her from a garret, where she was working sixteen hours a day to earn a few pence; she owed all to me.

I had made her so much a part of myself that I could not credit her being false. I could not induce myself to feel jealous. However, I inquired into the matter; I had her watched; I even acted the spy upon her myself. I had been told the truth. This unhappy woman had another lover, and had had him for more than ten years.

He was a cavalry officer. In coming to her house he took every precaution. He usually left about midnight; but sometimes he came to pass the night, and in that case went away in the early morning. Being stationed near Paris, he frequently obtained leave of absence and came to visit her; and he would remain shut up in her apartments until his time expired. One evening, my spies brought me word that he was there.

I hastened to the house. My presence did not embarrass her. She received me as usual, throwing her arms about my neck. I thought that my spies had deceived me; and I was going to tell her all, when I saw upon the piano a buckskin glove, such as are worn by soldiers. Not wishing a scene, and not knowing to what excess my anger might carry me, I rushed out of the place without saying a word. I have never seen her since. She attempted to force her way into my presence, but in vain; my servants had orders that they dared not ignore.” Could this be the Count de Commarin, celebrated for his haughty coldness, for his reserve so full of disdain, who spoke thus, who opened his whole life without restrictions, without reserve? And to whom?

To a stranger. But he was in one of those desperate states, allied to madness, when all reflection leaves us, when we must find some outlet for a too powerful emotion. What mattered to him this secret, so courageously borne for so many years? He disburdened himself of it, like the poor man, who, weighed down by a too heavy burden, casts it to the earth without caring where it falls, nor how much it may tempt the cupidity of the passers-by.

“Nothing,” continued he, “no, nothing, can approach to what I then endured. My very heartstrings were bound up in that woman.

She was like a part of myself. In separating from her, it seemed to me that I was tearing away a part of my own flesh. I cannot describe the furious passions her memory stirred within me. I scorned her and longed for her with equal vehemence.

I hated her, and I loved her. And, to this day, her detestable image has been ever present to my imagination. Nothing can make me forget her. I have never consoled myself for her loss. And that is not all, terrible doubts about Albert occurred to me.

Was I really his father? Can you understand what my punishment was, when I thought to myself, ‘I have perhaps sacrificed my own son to the child of an utter stranger.’ This thought made me hate the bastard who called himself Commarin. To my great affection for him succeeded an unconquerable aversion.

How often, in those days I struggled against an insane desire to kill him! Since then, I have learned to subdue my aversion; but I have never completely mastered it. Albert, sir, has been the best of sons. Nevertheless, there has always been an icy barrier between us, which he was unable to explain. I have often been on the point of appealing to the tribunals, of avowing all, of reclaiming my legitimate heir; but regard for my rank has prevented me.

I recoiled before the scandal.

I feared the ridicule or disgrace that would attach to my name; and yet I have not been able to save it from infamy.” The old nobleman remained silent, after pronouncing these words. In a fit of despair, he buried his face in his hands, and two great tears rolled silently down his wrinkled cheeks. In the meantime, the door of the room opened slightly, and the tall clerk’s head appeared. Daburon signed to him to enter, and then addressing M.

de Commarin, he said in a voice rendered more gentle by compassion: “Sir, in the eyes of heaven, as in the eyes of society, you have committed a great sin; and the results, as you see, are most disastrous.

It is your duty to repair the evil consequences of your sin as much as lies in your power.” “Such is my intention, sir, and, may I say so? my dearest wish.” “You doubtless understand me,” continued M. Daburon. “Yes, sir,” replied the old man, “yes, I understand you.” “It will be a consolation to you,” added the magistrate, “to learn that M. Noel Gerdy is worthy in all respects of the high position that you are about to restore to him. He is a man of great talent, better and worthier than any one I know. You will have a son worthy of his ancestors. And finally, no one of your family has disgraced it, sir, for Viscount Albert is not a Commarin.” “No,” rejoined the count quickly, “a Commarin would be dead at this hour; and blood washes all away.” The old nobleman’s remark set the investigating magistrate thinking profoundly. “Are you then sure,” said he, “of the viscount’s guilt?” M.

de Commarin gave the magistrate a look of intense surprise. “I only arrived in Paris yesterday evening,” he replied; “and I am entirely ignorant of all that has occurred. I only know that justice would not proceed without good cause against a man of Albert’s rank. If you have arrested him, it is quite evident that you have something more than suspicion against him,--that you possess positive proofs.” M.

Daburon bit his lips, and, for a moment, could not conceal a feeling of displeasure. He had neglected his usual prudence, had moved too quickly. He had believed the count’s mind entirely upset; and now he had aroused his distrust. All the skill in the world could not repair such an unfortunate mistake. A witness on his guard is no longer a witness to be depended upon; he trembles for fear of compromising himself, measures the weight of the questions, and hesitates as to his answers. On the other hand, justice, in the form of a magistrate, is disposed to doubt everything, to imagine everything, and to suspect everybody. How far was the count a stranger to the crime at La Jonchere? Although doubting Albert’s paternity, he would certainly have made great efforts to save him. His sto