The Case Of The Single Shortage


On the other side, was a torn sheet of white paper, with a seal on it, partly destroyed, and with an inscription in writing, which was still perfectly legible.Franklin or I could say a word, Sergeant Cuff struck in smoothly, with an appearance of continuing the previous conversation. Franklin Blake with another letter. To my surprise and disappointment, it began with an apology warning me to expect no news of any importance. On the other side, was a torn sheet of white paper, with a seal on it, partly destroyed, and with an inscription in writing, which was still perfectly legible. /

The Widow Lerouge, when a young woman, is in the service of a great lady, immensely rich.He had one evening menaced a woman, and another day beaten a child. “As of my existence,” answered the woman, “for, on that evening, yes, it was evening, she was, saving your presence, a little tipsy.

The woman, now dead, we come to the object of her assassination. The Widow Lerouge, when a young woman, is in the service of a great lady, immensely rich. I, who loved this woman, who knew not how to show my affection for her, who, for her sake, sacrificed my youth! 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. Moreover, my father has not deceived me, like this miserable woman, every hour of my life, during thirty years. When Noel entered, a woman, still young, was reclining on the divan, smoking a cigarette. 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.

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. 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. 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.

In less than a minute, the doctor seized the lamp, examined the sick woman, and returned to his friend. 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 was jealous of the woman, who had tried to take her lover from her. The principal one was, that he did not wish to see this woman, once so dearly loved. 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. 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. 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. The old woman, in a white cap, stood at her garden gate: she spoke beseechingly.

She purchased a brat from a woman, who happened to be passing; and, never having noticed his child, the count has never known the difference.” “But the assassination!” “That’s very simple. She was a young woman, with a face whiter than her cap. She must have suffered much and long, poor woman, for it was pitiable to see how thin she was. Juliette is a charming woman, to be sure; she has not her equal, I am convinced; but she is expensive, devilish expensive.” Noel was enraged at hearing his Juliette thus spoke of by this honourable personage. They had heard many people speak of a woman, who pretended, they said, to have seen the assassin leave Widow Lerouge’s cottage; but no one had been able to point this woman out to them, or even to give them her name.

“Brave girl!” he cried, “you are a noble, courageous woman, Claire! “For God’s sake!” exclaimed the soldier, “let her speak.” “Who,” continued the sick woman, unconscious of all that was passing about her, “who told you I was deceiving you? Fallen into a chair, his head thrown back, the Count de Commarin was more overwhelmed and more livid than this dead woman, his old love, once so beautiful. Perhaps I shall be able to bring Albert with me.” He spoke, and, again embracing the dead woman, went out. Her mother, who was the widow of I can’t say how many husbands, was, saving your presence, a bad woman, and my father was the worthiest man alive. But once in your life, influenced by a wicked woman, you did wrong, you became an accomplice in a very guilty action.

When once a man has given his name to a woman, he told me, he cannot take it back; it belongs to her for the rest of her days, and she has a right to dispose of it. He did not wish to reflect before seeing the woman, speaking with her, and carefully questioning her. “Well,” he said, making a great effort to utter the words, “the supper, I suppose, was none the less gay for that.” “Gay!” echoed the young woman, shrugging her shoulders; “you do not seem to know much of your friend. /

In the year 1810, a case of living inhumation happened in France, attended with circumstances which go far to warrant the assertion that truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.I know him, however, as both mathematician and poet, and my measures were adapted to his capacity, with reference to the circumstances by which he was surrounded. That the passages quoted above, with the other similar ones referred to, gave Von Kempelen the hint, I do not in the slightest degree question; but I repeat, it yet remains to be seen whether this momentous discovery itself (momentous under any circumstances) will be of service or disservice to mankind at large. It would have been a miracle had it not-especially under the circumstances. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the common-place--some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects. For me at least--in the circumstances then surrounding me--there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon his canvass, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli. It is with a confused recollection that I bring to mind the circumstances of that meeting. for what could be of less importance, under the terrible circumstances which environed me, then the mere dimensions of my dungeon?

One of very remarkable character, and of which the circumstances may be fresh in the memory of some of my readers, occurred, not very long ago, in the neighboring city of Baltimore, where it occasioned a painful, intense, and widely-extended excitement. In the year 1810, a case of living inhumation happened in France, attended with circumstances which go far to warrant the assertion that truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. This claim she resisted, and a judicial tribunal sustained her in her resistance, deciding that the peculiar circumstances, with the long lapse of years, had extinguished, not only equitably, but legally, the authority of the husband. I exacted the most sacred oaths, that under no circumstances they would bury me until decomposition had so materially advanced as to render farther preservation impossible. 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.

Under other circumstances than those which invested him, it is not impossible that he would have become a painter. “I am aware,” said the traveller, as he drew a sigh of deep delight after gazing on this scene, entranced, for nearly an hour, “I know that here, in my circumstances, nine-tenths of the most fastidious of men would rest content. I would fain have them believe that I have been, in some measure, the slave of circumstances beyond human control. That he observed it in all its bearings, and as fixedly as I, was apparent; but that he could discover in such circumstances so fruitful a field of annoyance, can only be attributed, as I said before, to his more than ordinary penetration. 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.

But these reflections partook not of the idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as would have occurred, under similar circumstances, to the ordinary mass of mankind. /

Men like Tremorel can only receive such services as outrages.The refrains of bargemen, the brazen voices of boat-horns, have never awakened echoes there. After a moment, a servant, half asleep, appeared at one of the ground-floor windows. I will dress at once, and will hasten off--no, wait." He reflected a moment, then called: "Baptiste!" The valet was not far off. "There is not a moment to lose. "They tell me," said he, at the threshold, "that Madame de Tremorel has been murdered." "These men here, at least, pretend so," answered the mayor, who had just reappeared. a commune where, in the memory of men, no crime has been committed!" And he directed a suspicious glance toward the two Bertauds. "It's of no use to ring, gentlemen," said this man; "there's nobody in the chateau." "How! Five persons, three women and two men, soon appeared. "These gentlemen perhaps wish to speak to Monsieur the Count?" asked he, having bowed to M.

Madame even said to Monsieur that she should not shut her eyes the whole night, with this immense sum in the house." There was a silence; each one looked at the others with a frightened air. A little more, and she would have talked of presentiments. The mayor told the brigadier to follow him, and placed two men at the gate, ordering them not to permit anyone to enter or go out, unless by his orders. "Gendarmes," cried he to the men guarding the gate, "see to it that no one goes out; prevent anybody from entering the house, and above all, let no one go into the garden." Then they ascended the staircase. There was nothing unusual in the apartment; it was a boudoir hung in blue satin, furnished with a couch and four arm-chairs, covered also with blue satin. There was not an article of furniture, not an ornament, which did not betray that a terrible, enraged and merciless struggle had taken place between the assassins and their victims.

"Ah!" said the valet de chambre, "Monsieur and Madame were taking tea when the wretches came in!" The mantel ornaments had been thrown upon the floor; the clock, in falling, had stopped at twenty minutes past three.

"They were murdered here." Every one for a moment was appalled. Surely they were confident of not being overheard; for they must have struck tremendous blows to make the massive oaken bureau fly in pieces. He was even seen to cast a menacing look toward his son. But at the moment he was adjusting it, the mayor cried out to him: "Stop!" The imprints left by the Bertauds on both sides of the ditch had just caught his eye. Courtois, "what implements did you use? "Brigadier," ordered the mayor, "arrest these two men in the name of the law, and prevent all communication between them." Philippe seemed to be ill. As for old Jean, he contented himself with shrugging his shoulders and saying to his son: "Well, you would have it so, wouldn't you?" While the brigadier led the two poachers away, and shut them up separately, and under the guard of his men, the justice and the mayor returned to the park.

The women rushed into the garden. There was then a terrible concert of cries, lamentations, and imprecations. From the day when a legal investigation commenced, he did not sleep, and he employed every means to discover the truth.

It was rumored that he sought for secrets of practical chemistry, to augment still more his twenty thousand livres of income. Five men, detailed by me, and all the people of the house, are searching the park. If their efforts are not crowned with success, I have here some fishermen who will drag the river." M. "Clement Sauvresy was just thirty; he had no longer any family, and possessed nearly a hundred thousand livres income from lands absolutely free of incumbrance. Without awkwardness or embarrassment, she passed easily from the humble school-room, where she had assisted her father, to the splendid drawing-room of Valfeuillu. He was one of those men with a robust faith, with obstinate illusions, whom doubts never disturb. He had thrown to the winds of his caprices an immense fortune; the relatively calm life of Valfeuillu was a relief. Plantat made a movement with his lips as if to say, "I know other things besides." He went on, however, with his story. Up to the last moment, he had preserved the full force of his faculties. Bertha and Hector began to protest, but he insisted in such a manner as to compel assent, praying and adjuring them, and declaring that their refusal would embitter his last moments.

She was worthy of Hector and of Sauvresy, the two most worthy men I have ever met!" Then, perceiving that his enthusiasm somewhat surprised his hearers, he added, more softly: "I have my reasons for expressing myself thus; and I do not hesitate to do so before men whose profession and character will justify my discretion. "Here I am fixed," he commenced, "now, it seems to me--" He was interrupted by a loud noise in the vestibule. See him!" And the wretch, inspired by an immense fright, continued to struggle. Plantat, "why on earth has he returned?" It was with difficulty that the crowd was kept back; the brigadier was forced to call in the aid of his men. Then he returned and placed himself beside Guespin, thinking it not prudent to leave him alone with unarmed men. When he saw my men, he was undeceived. Just then one of the women cried out, 'Brigand, it was you who have this night assassinated the count and the countess!' He immediately became paler than death, and remained motionless and dumb. I've searched him, and this is what I have found in his pockets: a handkerchief, a pruning-knife, two small keys, a scrap of paper covered with figures, and an address of the establishment of 'Vulcan's Forges.' But that's not all--" The brigadier took a step, and eyed his auditors mysteriously; he was preparing his effect. "Guespin isn't the man to have savings," said he; "Women and cards exhaust all his wages. "Remorse, and fear of punishment," muttered the mayor.

"You know the events of this night, don't you?" commenced the judge; "the Count and Countess de Tremorel have been murdered. What is this card of a hardware establishment that has been found in your pocket?" Guespin made a sign of desperation, and stammered: "I am innocent." "I have not as yet accused you," said the judge of instruction, quickly. The smallest gesture, the most rapid movement of physiognomy may acquire deep significance, a fugitive light in the eye betray an advantage gained; an imperceptible change in the voice may be confession. "Do men like you believe men like me? Meanwhile, exhausted by his excitement, he paused and wiped his face, covered with perspiration.

It is a fatality." "I warn you for your own sake," resumed the judge, "that if you persist in refusing to answer, the charges which weigh upon you are such that I will have you arrested as suspected of this murder." This menace seemed to have a remarkable effect on Guespin.

de Tremorel's body?" The accused did not seem affected by this menace. He had had so many affairs with the men of law, that one inquisition the more disturbed him little. Domini's opinion; and some fishermen were sent to drag the Seine, commencing their search a little above the place where the countess was found. These were curious folks who, more daring than the rest, wished to see the "men of justice" eating, and tried to hear a word or two, to report them, and so become important in the eyes of the others.

But the "men of justice"--as they said at Orcival--took care to say nothing of moment while the doors were open, and while a servant was passing to and fro. He was, perhaps, the least tormented of the four companions at this funereal repast. His speech, in fragments, penetrated to the dining-room. It was a nearly equal mixture of timidity, self-sufficiency, and contentment. Bertaud, an acknowledged rogue, is arrested; he merits a little punishment, doubtless. But, then, public opinion is against him, and I naturally distrust that." The detective stood alone in the middle of the room, the rest, at his request, remained at the threshold, and looking keenly about him, searched for some explanation of the frightful disorder of the apartment. Not so bungling, after all, perhaps." The witnesses of this scene remained motionless at the door, following, with an interest mingled with surprise, the detective's movements. So that this dampness cannot tell us the exact moment when the crime was committed." "But the clock does, and very exactly," interrupted the mayor. Domini, "in his notes, well explains that the movements of the clock stopped when it fell." "But see here," said M.

Gendron had been sitting on the only unbroken chair in the chamber, reflecting on Plantat's sudden embarrassment, when he had spoken of Robelot the bone-setter.

Now and then, he took out an instrument-case, from which he produced a shank, which he introduced and turned in the locks.

Men who hold the liberty and lives of others in their hands, a scratch of whose pen condemns to death, are apt to feel heavily the burden of their responsibility. Lecoq was at that moment curiously examining a large portrait of the Count Hector, which hung opposite the bed.

"If you please," said he, in a tone totally unlike that he had used up to this time, "I would like to call your attention to the wounds on the head, made by a blunt instrument, which I suppose to be a hammer. He stood still, crushed; lamenting, instead of hastening home. Decidedly, this was an ill-omened day! "What!" stammered he, with an air of frank amazement, "do you, a man of experience, who--" Delighted with the success of his ruse, Lecoq could not keep his countenance, and Plantat, who perceived that he had been caught in the snare, laughed heartily. Not a word, however, was exchanged between these two men, both subtle in the science of life, and equally cunning in its mysteries. According to the mayor's account, the instrument with which all these things were broken has been found." "In the room in the second story," answered M. He got up confused, and after meditating a moment, said: "This perplexes me a little; however--" He stopped, motionless, in a revery, with one of his hands on his forehead. "All might yet be explained," he muttered, mentally searching for a solution of the mystery, "and in that case the time indicated by the clock would be true." M. I thought myself sure of the character of these assassins: but now--" He paused; the wrinkles on his face, the contraction of his mouth, betrayed his mental effort.

But I see something else--" "What?" "Nothing--at least, for the moment. Plantat only answered by a movement of the lips, as if to say, "You are going too far." The other smiled, opened the door, and called: "Francois!" The valet hastened to obey the call. Lecoq, who had the vanity which all actors possess, was flattered by the compliment, and but poorly dissimulated an expression of pleasure. "Besides," he paused a moment to give more weight to what he was going to say, "besides, you haven't seen everything yet." No one could tell when M. He was very indignant against the assassins, and gesticulated about in great excitement; but he never ceased to watch Plantat slyly, and the last words of the latter made him prick up his ears.

There was no mistaking the old man's hesitation this time; he was clearly undecided, and leaned on the other's judgment for guidance. Plantat interrupted: "Enough; the most incredulous would now be convinced." After thinking a moment, he added: "No, there is no longer any possible doubt of it." M. Lecoq thought that his argument deserved a reward, and treated himself to two lozenges at a mouthful. The evidences against the arrested men are very conclusive." Plantat and Lecoq exchanged a long look, betraying their great surprise. Plantat and made an appointment to meet him on the morrow, at the court-house. His instruments lay on a table near him; he had covered the body with a long white sheet. The phenomena on which I base my own conviction are too fugitive, too capricious in their nature, to enable me to be absolutely certain." This seemed to disturb M. "But, from the moment when--" "What I can affirm," interrupted Dr.

Lecoq, "that we may conclude from the proved fact that the countess, after death, was struck by a flat implement, that she had also ceased to live when she was mutilated by the knife." M. Gendron reflected a moment. If you insist on going to Corbeil to-night, we will carry you over after supper." The operation of fixing the seals was speedily concluded; narrow strips of parchment, held by large waxen seals, were affixed to all the doors, as well as to the bureau in which the articles gathered for the purposes of the investigation had been deposited.

And that Guespin; ah, I would willingly trudge to Corbeil to see them put up the scaffold!" "A little charity, Master Lenfant; you forget that both these men were among your best customers." Master Lenfant was confused by this reply; but his native impudence soon regained the mastery. Plantat said: "Let's hurry, for I want to get news of our poor mayor." The three hastened their steps, and the old justice of the peace, oppressed with sad presentiments, and trying to combat them, continued: "If anything had happened at the mayor's, I should certainly have been informed of it by this time. A number of the village women were standing before the mayor's gate. Plantat's approach, the women fled like a troop of frightened gulls. "Ah, gentlemen," said he, "don't ask me about her--'tis heartrending!" The doctor and M. Her husband was reclining on a lounge near the windows at the rear of the apartment. Plantat, softly; "confide in me--tell me all." "Well," commenced M.

I have been very guilty, but the punishment is terrible! Oh, have I not a right to a terrible vengeance?" But the crime at Valfeuillu occurred to him; and it was with a tone of deep disappointment that he resumed: "And not to be able to revenge myself!

A brain fever, after such excitement, would not surprise me." The old justice of the peace at once approached Mme. Even should he recover, his life is broken." "I had a sort of presentiment," said the other, "that this misfortune would come. He is one of those men who will listen to nothing, and whom the brutal fact alone can undeceive." "You might have dealt with the Count de Tremorel." "The count would have denied all. She laughed and joked, as women who have a secret which they wish to conceal, do. "A piece of parchment does not make science. I don't fear the men of the schools. Doctor Gendron, with whom you served, was praising your cleverness a moment ago." The bone-setter shuddered, not so imperceptibly as to escape Plantat, who continued: "Yes, the good doctor said he never had so intelligent an assistant. "Yes;" returned he, "I have seen some strange experiments." "Well, you see, you may think yourself lucky--for the doctor is going to have a splendid chance to study this sort of thing, and he will undoubtedly want you to assist him." But Robelot was too shrewd not to have already guessed that this cross-examination had a purpose. Good-evening, gentlemen." He walked away, and soon the sand in the court was heard creaking with his steps.

Well, you have read this letter; but have you studied it, examined the hand-writing, weighed the words, remarked the context of the sentences?" "Ah," cried Plantat, "I was not mistaken then--you had the same idea strike you that occurred to me!" And, in the energy of his excitement he seized the detective's hands and pressed them as if he were an old friend. Three large rooms on the ground-floor, four chambers in the first story, an attic under the roof for the servants, composed all its apartments. "Has he got common-sense, then?" But reflecting that time pressed, she continued: "Go along, Louis; this is not the moment for two feet to stay in one shoe. He called to the cook: "You will give us our coffee in the library, and may then retire, as well as Louis." "But these gentlemen do not know their rooms," insisted Mme. If it were simple, I would go back to Paris instanter, and to-morrow I would send you one of my men. Lecoq puffed vigorously at his cigar a moment, casting a curious glance at M. Then he resumed: "Well, you may imagine that I wasn't the happiest of men. I forgot to mention that I had two little vices: I loved the women, and I loved play. Happily for men of property, criminals are idiots." "What is he coming to?" thought the doctor. I had just been inventing a little arrangement by which a man could rob any banker whatever of 200,000 francs without any more danger or difficulty than I raise this cup.

So I said to myself, 'Well, my boy, if this goes on a little longer, a moment will come when, from the idea, you will naturally proceed to the practice.' Having, however, been born an honest lad--a mere chance--and being determined to use the talents which nature had given me, eight days afterward I bid my astronomer good-morning, and went to the prefecture. It seems to me monstrous that people can be interested in sentiments which, though well represented, are fictitious. In a moment of reason, one sees and judges himself; he says, no, it's impossible, she is almost a child, I almost an old man. Lecoq, without departing widely from the truth, had just attempted one of the most daring experiments of his repertoire, and he judged it useless to go further. After a moment's silence, he shuddered as though awaking from a dream, and pulling out his watch, said: "Par le Dieu! Plantat reflected a moment. You see, gentlemen, the inquest of a crime is nothing more nor less than the solution of a problem.

Given the crime, proved, patent, you commence by seeking out all the circumstances, whether serious or superficial; the details and the particulars. Lecoq's exposition, so logical his argument, that his hearers could not repress an admiring exclamation: "Very good! Exactly the moment when he knows, and everyone in the neighborhood knows, that he is going to pass the night at the chateau, alone with Madame de Tremorel. Lieuben, a German lunatic, bet that he would succeed in turning up a pack of cards in the order stated in the written agreement.

"Madame de Tremorel has no ill presentiment; her husband, the past few days, has been more amiable, more attentive than ever. He must have some implement with which to break open everything. His companions held their breath, unwilling by a movement to distract his attention. "At this moment," pursued he, "the count's rage and terror were at their height.

And if these proofs are not enough, I will send to Paris for two of my men, who will find, somewhere in the house or the garden, both the count's beard and the cloth with which he wiped his razor.

We will not be rash then in supposing that the importance of this paper was immense--entirely beyond an ordinary affair. It is certain that it was a menace--capable of being executed at any moment--suspended over the head of him or them concerned by it. It was surely to deliver himself from this perpetual menace that the count killed his wife." The logic was so clear, the last words brought the evidence out so lucidly and forcibly, that his hearers were struck with admiration. Lecoq, "from the various elements which have served to form our conviction, we must conclude that the contents of this letter, if it can be found, will clear away our last doubts, will explain the crime, and will render the assassin's precautions wholly useless. His preparations for flight ended, Hector, in spite of his deadly peril, of the speeding time, of the coming day, instead of flying recommences with more desperation than ever his useless search. Can you imagine his immense terror? For the moment he is safe. When I was left alone a moment with Francois, the valet, I asked him if he knew exactly the number of the count's shoes; he said yes, and took me to a closet where the shoes are kept.

In the middle of the lawn, at rapid intervals, they heard the blunt noise of a clinched fist striking a living body, and saw two men, or rather two phantoms, furiously swinging their arms. "I've got the rogue." The shadow of the detective, which was upright, bent over, and the conflict was recommenced. Then there was a moment when the lookers-on could not make out which was the detective. I've persuaded him to pay his respects to us--light me up a little." The doctor and his host hastened to the lamp; their zeal caused a delay, and at the moment that the doctor raised the lamp, the door was rudely pushed open.

We run such dangers, in protecting society, as should entitle us to the esteem, if not the affection of our fellow-men: Why, I am condemned to death, at this moment, by seven of the most dangerous criminals in France. I have caught them, you see, and they have sworn--they are men of their word, too--that I should only die by their hands. You've let out in spite of yourself a secret that tormented you furiously, and you came here to get it back again. Besides, it does not always serve a man to save his life." He was pensive a moment, then added: "You will thank me after awhile, when I have gained other titles to your gratitude." M. The pavement resounded with the wooden shoes of the workmen going fieldward. "Before commencing," said the old man, "I ought to consider your weariness; we have been up twenty-four hours--" But the others protested that they did not need repose.

He was one of those men whom success intoxicates, who long for applause, but who care not for what they are applauded. Hector took the announcement coolly and said, as he got up: "Well, here's an end of it." He was very calm, though a little confused. Forty-eight hours after her removal to her new apartments, she had established order among the servants; she made them obey a glance or a gesture; and she made her dress-makers and milliners submit with good grace to her orders. Jenny soon began to languish, in her fine rooms, for new excitement; her gorgeous toilets no longer amused her. He seemed to her the most tiresome of men.

Perhaps she perceived beneath their ironically polite manner, a contempt for her, and understood of how little consequence she was to these rich people, these high livers, gamblers, men of the world. Many a time she packed up; her vanity always checked her at the last moment. I am a ruined man." She looked at him with amazement, not seeming to comprehend him. Since he had confessed to her that he was penniless, she ceased to hate him, and even commenced to love him. "You are not as poor as you say," she said, "for you still have so large a sum." "But, dear child, I have several times given as much for diamonds which you envied." She reflected a moment, then as if an idea had struck her, exclaimed: "That's true enough; but I can spend, oh, a great deal less, and yet be just as happy.

Once, before I knew you, when I was young (she was now nineteen), ten thousand francs seemed to me to be one of those fabulous sums which were talked about, but which few men ever saw in one pile, and fewer still held in their hands." She tried to slip the money into the count's pocket; but he prevented it. I've heard of people that are now rich as kings, who commenced with nothing, and hadn't your talents either. The flower-women at the corners of the bridges had their baskets full of odorous violets. "If I shouldn't die to-night," he thought, "I shall have a terrible cold in the morning." This mental sally did not make him smile, but it gave him the consciousness of being firm and determined.

The statements made to us are so strange, that we defer details till to-morrow, not having time to send for fuller information now." These lines startled Hector. At this moment he was as firm as in the morning. "No one must be accused of my death," he commenced; and he went on by asking that the hotel-keeper should be indemnified. So that to-night, at this very moment, the world was discussing him. One, false courage, is that meant for the public eye, which needs the excitement of the struggle, the stimulus of rage, and the applause of lookers-on. It was the waiter, who had come to take his order for breakfast, and who started back with amazement on seeing Hector, so disordered was his clothing and so livid the pallor of his features. They were mostly students and women, talking gayly as they waited for their turns. A young woman pitied his embarrassment. "See," said she, "put your articles on this counter, before that window with green curtains." A moment after he heard a voice which seemed to proceed from the next room: "Twelve hundred francs for the watch and ring." This large amount produced such a sensation as to arrest all the conversation. "One French shawl, thirty-five francs, whose is it?" Hector meanwhile went out of the establishment.

But he would thus confront the world, and confess his terrors to have overcome him at the last moment; he would have to suffer glances more cruel than the pistol-ball. Workmen were drinking and clinking their glasses under the trees along the river-bank. He left the main road at the Sevres bridge, and descending the embankment reached the borders of the Seine. A man was running down the embankment toward him with outstretched arms. This was a man of his own age, rather stout, but well shaped, with a fine open face and, large black eyes in which one read frankness and good-nature; one of those men who are sympathetic at first sight, whom one loves on a week's acquaintance. He told Sauvresy everything; his vain boasting, his terror at the last moment, his agony at the hotel, his fury, remorse, and anguish at the pawnbroker's.

I've married--for love--the loveliest and best of women.

He had, however, done as other young men do. People were always telling her that she was the happiest of women. Sauvresy wished to insert in the marriage-contract a settlement of five hundred thousand francs on his affianced.

If, at the bottom of her heart, she thought herself the most wretched of women, there was nothing of it apparent--it was a well-kept secret. Sauvresy had often mentioned it, and she had seen it often in the papers, and had heard it in the drawing-rooms of all her friends. He was one of those men whose lives astonish common people, whom the well-to-do citizen thinks faithless and lawless, whose extravagant passions overleap the narrow bounds of social prejudice; a man who tyrannizes over others, whom all fear, who fights on the slightest provocation, who scatters gold with a prodigal hand, whose iron health resists the most terrible excesses. He could scarcely sit up after the terrible excitements of the last twenty-four hours. If Sauvresy had bid him begone, he would not have known where to go; yet he had already resumed the haughty carelessness of the millionnaire, accustomed to bend men and circumstances to his will.

I burnt up all my papers yesterday." Sauvresy jumped up from his chair in astonishment; such a method of doing business seemed to him monstrous; he could not suppose that Hector was lying. "What a difference," thought she, "between these two men! But everything about the count betrays an innate or acquired superiority; even his name, Hector--how it sounds!" And she repeated "Hector" several times, as if it pleased her, adding, contemptuously, "My husband's name is Clement!" M. She wished to remain alone, to reflect upon this event which had happened so suddenly, to analyze her sensations, listen to her presentiments, study her impressions and decide, if possible, upon her line of conduct. Ah, I've completely checkmated these gentlemen. They looked at me in amazement. Our gentlemen opened their eyes very wide, and consented to grant my request." Hector, notwithstanding what he had said, knew enough about his affairs to see that this action would save him a fortune--a small one, as compared with what he had possessed, yet a fortune. The certainty of this delighted him, and moved by a momentary and sincere gratitude, he grasped both of Sauvresy's hands in his. I think they began to suspect that I was one of a band of thieves." "You didn't mention my name, did you?" "That would have been useless. At this moment, Hector was awaiting Jenny at the Corbeil station.

Sauvresy's foresight in recommending the place of meeting had thus been disconcerted by Jenny's sensational arrival. They would purchase an establishment in the Breda quarter, and between them could scarcely fail to prosper. A physical and moral torpor had succeeded the fever of the first days, free from disagreeable sensations, though wanting in excitement. She had bought her establishment at too high a price, and her partner at the end of the first month decamped, carrying off three thousand francs. When your situation is relieved, we will see." The settlement of Hector's affairs was very laborious. "If he loved me," thought she, "he would tell me so, for he is bold with women and fears no one." Then she began to hate the girl, her rival, whom Hector went to meet at Corbeil every week. It was quickly stifled under the explosion of the base passions which fermented in him. Sauvresy, after saving him, had welcomed him, opened to him his heart, purse, house; at this very moment he was making untiring efforts to restore his fortunes.

Men like Tremorel can only receive such services as outrages. I should be a fool if I repelled her." Conceit has irresistible arguments. One evening, in a fit of anger, she menaced him with a singular threat. "I am going, Hector," said she, after a moment's reflection; "If you are really leaving me to get married, you shall never hear of me again." "Why, Jenny, I hope I shall still remain your friend." "Well, only if you abandon me for another reason, remember what I tell you; you will be a dead man, and she, a lost woman." She opened the door; he tried to take her hand; she repulsed him. Their payment is not yet completed, but enough has been done to enable us to foresee the end.

what?" Sauvresy paused a moment, and looked steadily at his friend. Know that this Courtois, whom you think so obstinate, is really the most romantic of men, and an ambitious old fellow to boot. The expression of her face was so menacing that he quailed before it.

Evidently; for he knew well that she was one of those women who shrink from nothing, whom no consideration could arrest. The moment to be persuasive and paternal had come. That's our fate, you see, only to love the men we despise." Jenny talked loud, gesticulating, and every now and then thumping the table with her fist so that the bottles and glasses jingled. He had no idea of this Parisian nature, detestable and excellent, emotional to excess, nervous, full of transitions, which laughs and cries, caresses and strikes in the same minute, which a passing idea whirls a hundred leagues from the present moment. I won't have it." Jenny was one of those women who do not reason, but who feel; with whom it is folly to argue, for their fixed idea is impregnable to the most victorious arguments. "I see, my child," he commenced, "that you haven't understood or even heard me.

"He get married." She reflected a moment, and added: "If it were true, though--" "I tell you it is so." "No," cried Jenny, "no, that can't be possible. So, if you are his friend, sir, advise him to come back to me." Sauvresy was really alarmed; he saw clearly how real and earnest Jenny's menaces were. "If I give you my word of honor to tell you the truth, you'll believe me, won't you?" She hesitated a moment, and said: "Yes, you are honorable; I will believe you." "Then, I swear to you that Tremorel hopes to marry a young girl who is immensely rich, whose dowry will secure his future." "He tells you so; he wants you to believe it." "Why should he? "Never!" If, when one is sleeping, the thunder rolls and the storm bursts, it often happens that the sleep is not troubled; then suddenly, at a certain moment, the imperceptible flutter of a passing insect's wing awakens one. For a moment he saw nothing but that; all thought was crushed within him.

Overwhelmed by an unheard-of, unlooked-for catastrophe, his brain had been for a moment paralyzed. Then, why "he," instead of, "Clement?" This word was striking. I must kill myself, but first, I must avenge my dishonor!" But he tried in vain to imagine a punishment cruel or terrible enough. What chastisement could expiate the horrible tortures which he endured?

He knew it well; but it was beyond his power to embrace Bertha at that moment; and he was suffering more than he thought he should. They never deserted him for a moment, passing the night by turns near his bed. That was a frightful moment. This anxiety prevented his making the slightest movement, and he opened his eyes softly and cautiously. "How are you, dear Clement?" asked she, kissing him fondly on the forehead. It would balk his vengeance, should it fall into his wife's hands; and this might happen at any moment. She came to the bed and whispered gently: "Clement, Clement!" He did not open his eyes, and she, persuaded that he was sleeping, though very lightly, stole out of the room, holding her breath as she went. Hector made a sudden movement, and turned around as if he was surprised by an unwonted noise.

What languor had been in her voice when she used to say: "Say, dear Clement, you will, will you not?" And now she was using the same blandishments on another. Hector was evidently refusing what she wished; then she shook her finger menacingly, and tossed her head angrily, as if she were saying: "You won't? Here and there on the vestibule pavement were little puddles.

"It couldn't have been Clement," said Bertha, at last. Every time that Sauvresy had a moment of reason, the scene at the window recurred to him, and drove him to madness again. At first he positively refused to grant her prayer, but by her supplications and menaces she persuaded him, and she did not go downstairs until he had sworn that he would write to M. She was indignant, but at the same time she felt that unhealthy satisfaction that some women feel, when they meet a master who subdues them; and she admired Tremorel more than ever before. You owe me as much--let Clement get well, first." He did not expect to see her so gentle and subdued; who would have looked for such concessions, so easily obtained? He got up every day, and commenced to go about the house; he even received numerous visits from the neighbors; without apparent fatigue. But what punishment should he inflict? Bertha and Tremorel would be condemned to a year's imprisonment, perhaps eighteen months, possibly two years.

He might go in, fire a revolver at them, and they would not have time to comprehend it, for their agony would be but for a moment; and then? "Clement is getting on finely," said he to Bertha, one evening. "And who is that?" She leaned over, and whispered tremblingly in his ear: "I am Clement's sole heiress; perhaps he'll die; I might be a widow to-morrow." Hector was petrified. He was one of those men who shun explanations, and who, rather than put themselves on their guard in time, permit themselves to be drawn on by circumstances; soft and feeble beings, who deliberately bandage their eyes so as not to see the danger which threatens them, and who prefer the sloth of doubt, and acts of uncertainty to a definite and open position, which they have not the courage to face. Plantat being in attendance at the sick man's bedside, Bertha commenced.

How can I find out whether Clement, within the past day or two, has not changed his will in regard to me?" "His will?" "Yes, I've already told you that by a will of which I myself have a copy, Sauvresy has left me his whole fortune. "I will betray the fact of your relations with me; who will then believe that you are not my accomplice?" He saw the force of this terrible menace, coming from Bertha. Ah, you don't know Clement! Bertha's threats, the great obstacles now intervening, his anguish, crime, only augmented the violence of his love for her, and fed the flame of his ambition to secure her as his wife. Yet he thought that she was not cautious enough; and that she put herself in danger of discovery; and he told her of these fears, and how she made him tremble every moment.

"They might examine and experiment as much as they pleased, they would find nothing. "Before all, I must know about the will--and that I am trying to find out." She occupied herself constantly about this will, and during the long hours that she passed at Sauvresy's bedside, she gradually, with the greatest craft and delicacy, led her husband's mind in the direction of his last testament, with such success that he himself mentioned the subject which so absorbed Bertha. A sudden thought reassured her; people do not tear up a document which can be cancelled by a scratch of the pen on another sheet of paper. Still, she hesitated a moment.

"CLEMENT SAUVRESY." Mistress of herself as Bertha was, she succeeded in concealing the unspeakable satisfaction with which she was filled. What happiness, Hector!" The mere prospect of this anticipated felicity so shocked Hector, that his better self for the moment got the mastery; he essayed to move Bertha. "Do you feel a little better, dear Clement?" she asked. There was a moment of stupor, of silence so profound that Hector heard his temples beat. It could only have been by simple chance that he had touched her at the moment when she was using the poison. All these thoughts flashed across her mind in a moment, as rapid as lightning shooting between the clouds. And then she dared to approach the bed, and, with a frightfully constrained smile, to say: "How you frightened me then!" He looked at her a moment, which seemed to her an age--and simply replied: "I understand it." There was no longer any uncertainty.

"You are worse, my Clement," said she. Bertha was only the instrument of your rancor; and she weighs upon you to-day--you despise and fear her. Bertha, as she looked at the two men, recognized her error with rage and indignation. Her husband, at this moment, seemed to her sublime; his eyes gleamed, his face was radiant; while the other--the other!

"Poison?" she cried, eagerly, "never!" "You must give me some, though, presently, so as to help me to die." "You die, Clement? You don't seem to perceive that hate is all that is still living in me." Sauvresy's expression was at this moment ferocious. My mind was always bent on that; I searched for a punishment as great as this crime; I found none, could find none. They remained opposite each other with dilated eyes, stupefied, as if their thoughts were bent upon the torments of that future which the implacable vengeance of the man whom they had outraged imposed upon them.

Separated by mutual hate and contempt, they saw themselves riveted together by the common terror of punishment, condemned to an eternal embrace. Bertha at this moment admired her husband. Of all men, it was he whom she would have chosen were she mistress of her destinies; and he was going to escape her.

"I have not said all yet," he commenced. Having appreciated the grandeur of soul and nobleness of sentiment which belong to my wife and friend, I know that they are worthy of each other, and that each will be happy in the other. "Clement," she stammered, in a voice full of tenderness, "my husband, Clement!" He directed toward her a glance of hatred. And he knew that Bertha would not be wanting in courage at the critical moment. He thanked them, he said, for their attachment and fidelity, and wished to apprise them that he had left each of them a goodly sum in his will. But if they wish to soothe my last moments and give me a happy death, they will assent to the prayer which I earnestly make, to them, and will swear to espouse each other after I am gone. Soon the agony commenced.

Clement Sauvresy was dead! Sauvresy did a detestable thing when he thought of making this poor girl the accomplice, or I should say, the instrument of his wrath. He, who had so well foreseen all that could serve his vengeance, did not deign to foresee that Laurence might be dishonored; and yet he left her disarmed before this most cowardly and infamous of men!" The detective reflected. Lecoq at this stopped promenading up and down the room, and sat down opposite M. If he revolted, she always had this instrument of torture at hand. Gendron, "up to the very day he killed her." The detective had resumed his promenade up and down the library. But we only know of it nowadays by Mathiole's experiments on felons sentenced to death, in the sixteenth century; by Hers, who isolated the active principle, the alkaloid, in 1833 and lastly by certain experiments made by Bouchardat, who pretends--" Unfortunately, when Dr.

Bouchardat tried ioduret of potassium, but his experiment was not successful." "The deuce!" said M. And above all, the paper for which he searched with such desperation, when every moment was an affair of life and death to him, was none other than Sauvresy's manuscript, his condemnation and the proof of his first crime." M. He was wearied, too, of a punishment which began anew each morning; he saw himself lost, and his wife sacrificing herself for the malignant pleasure of sacrificing him. This flight had been discussed, planned, and agreed upon between them; they made an appointment to meet at a certain place, on a certain day." "But this letter," said the doctor.

"Last evening we had the same suspicion at the same moment at the mayor's. Here I go on quietly talking with my face exposed, as if it was not broad daylight; and people might come in at any moment!" And turning to Louis, who was very much surprised to see this dark young man whom he had certainly not admitted the night before, he added: "Give me those little toilet articles, my good fellow; they belong to me." Then, by a turn of his hand, he readjusted his physiognomy of last night, while the master of the house went out to give some orders, which M. They appreciated the value of the passing moments; M. He quickly pulled out his case of instruments and knelt beside the motionless body. "The asphyxia was accomplished in a very few moments." The bone-setter's body was carefully laid on the floor in the library.

Run to the mairie," he added, turning to his servant, "and get a litter and two stout men." Dr.

Louis lost no time, and soon reappeared followed, not by two, but ten men. Among the men who had brought it was the "drummer of the town," who was at the same time the grave-digger. Plantat could scarcely conceal his disappointment. I don't find any of the light dust and soot on them which ought to be there after they have lain several months." He went into the second room whither he had sent the men after they had completed their task, and said: "I wish one of you would get me a pickaxe." All the men rushed out; M. "There is no cement between these stones, and they are movable; the treasure must be here." When the pickaxe was brought, he gave a single blow with it; the stones gaped apart, and betrayed a wide and deep hole between them. They locked the money up in the secretary, and affixed seals everywhere, leaving two men on guard. Why should you wish the judge of instruction to see these notes, which are purely personal, and have no legal or authentic character?" He reflected a few moments, and added: "I have too much confidence in you, Monsieur Lecoq, and esteem you too much, not to have every trust that you will not divulge these strict confidences. Lecoq took him by the hand, and pressing it significantly, said: "Count on me, Monsieur." At this moment Dr. He narrated them not as if he had guessed or been told of them, but in their order of time and in such a manner that each new incident which, he mentioned followed naturally from the preceding one. Domini's surprise increased every minute as he proceeded; while at times, exclamations of astonishment passed his lips: "Is it possible?" "That is hard to believe!" M.

I think you very shrewd, but you were not here, and I was in a hurry." "A false step is often irreparable." "Make yourself easy; I've sent an intelligent man." At this moment the door opened, and the policeman referred to by the judge appeared on the threshold. Then their recollection was fixed by his talking very fast, saying that he was going to patronize them a great deal, and that if they would make a reduction in their prices he would procure for them the custom of an establishment whose confidence he possessed, the Gentil Jardinier, which bought a great many gardening tools." M. "I think, Monsieur," said he, very humbly, "that the murderers at Valfeuillu did not use either a hammer or a chisel, or a file, and that they brought no instrument at all from outside--since they used a hammer." "And didn't they have a dirk besides?" asked the judge in a bantering tone, confident that he was on the right path. Let us suppose for a moment that night before last, at ten o'clock, he changed a one-thousand-franc note in Paris. "And what is this tremendous proof, if you please?" asked he. "The true criminal, Count Hector," resumed the detective, "lost his presence of mind at the last moment, and thus lost all the advantages which his previous caution had gained. When I arrested Lanscot, the poor servant in the Rue Marignan, his first words were: 'Come on, my account is good.' The morning that Papa Tabaret and I took the Viscount de Commarin as he was getting out of bed, on the accusation of having murdered the widow Lerouge, he cried: 'I am lost.' Yet neither of them were guilty; but both of them, the viscount and the valet, equal before the terror of a possible mistake of justice, and running over in their thoughts the charges which would be brought against them, had a moment of overwhelming discouragement." "But such discouragement does not last two days," said M. Lecoq's arguments had not shaken his convictions, but they imposed on him the duty of informing himself at once, and to either conquer the detective or avow himself conquered. She began, however, to drink furiously, falling lower and lower every week--" "And the count really consented to see her again?" "He was forced to do so; she tormented him, and he was afraid of her. Lecoq in speechless amazement.

"Yes, comrade, and if you want to know her name, to put in your prayers, she is called--Jenny." Men who are really able in some specialty, whatever it may be, never uselessly abuse their superiority; their satisfaction at seeing it recognized is sufficient reward. Guespin's astonishment soon changed to anger. Then, when you learned that the count had been murdered during the night, recollecting that on the evening before you had bought all kinds of instruments of theft and murder, and that you didn't know either the address or the name of the woman to whom you gave up the package, convinced that if you explained the source of the money found in your pocket, you would not be believed--then, instead of thinking of the means to prove your innocence, you became afraid, and thought you would save yourself by holding your tongue." The prisoner's countenance visibly changed; his nerves relaxed; his tight lips fell apart; his mind opened itself to hope. You are prolonging your imprisonment by your own will. Receive my congratulations, to say nothing of the reward which I propose to recommend in your favor to your chiefs." The detective at these compliments cast down his eyes with the abashed air of a virgin. He looked tenderly at the dear defunct's portrait, and doubtless said to it: "At last, darling, we have defeated him--this austere judge who so heartily detests the force of which we are the brightest ornament, makes his apologies; he recognizes and applauds our services." He answered aloud: "I can only accept half of your eulogies, Monsieur; permit me to offer the other half to my friend Monsieur Plantat." M.

Guespin's innocence would surely sooner or later have been recognized; but the idea of having imprisoned an innocent man and harassed him with my interrogatories, would have disturbed my sleep and tormented my conscience for a long time." "God knows this poor Guespin is not an interesting youth," returned the detective. Lecoq reflected a moment. The doctor remained with the judge to make arrangements for Sauvresy's exhumation.

"Monsieur Lecoq's apartments," answered the old woman, "are on the third story, the door facing the stairs." The justice of the peace slowly ascended the narrow, ill-lighted staircase, which in its dark corners was almost dangerous. Was it not more likely that one of his men had done it? "Monsieur Lecoq." "What do you want of him?" "He made an appointment with me for this morning." "Your name and business?" "Monsieur Plantat, justice of the peace at Orcival." "All right. "If you will take the trouble to sit," said the servant, "Monsieur Lecoq will soon be here; he is giving orders to one of his men." But M. Plantat did not take a seat; he preferred to examine the curious apartment in which he found himself. The most singular piece of furniture in the apartment, however, was a large ball, shaped like a lozenge, in black velvet, suspended beside the looking-glass. then you did not see my motto--'always vigilant?' Why, I've been out ten times this morning; besides marking out work for three of my men. Lecoq rose and promenaded, as his habit was, up and down the room. The moment he had decided on the crime, he said to himself: 'Grant that Bertha has been murdered; thanks to my precautions, they think that I have been killed too; Laurence, with whom I elope, writes a letter in which she announces her suicide; I have money, what must I do?' The problem, it seems to me, is fairly put in this way." "Perfectly so," approved M. If a man flies from France to escape punishment, he acts absurdly.

They do not make a purchase which is not remarked; they cannot make any movement without exciting curiosity.

If they choose to cross the ocean and go to free America, they must go aboard a vessel; and the moment they do that they may be considered as good as lost. Lecoq's "narrow field" of observation appeared still immense. Lecoq always waxed warm on this subject; he felt a strong resentment against the injustice practised on his profession. Fortunately, at the moment when he was most excited, the black ball suddenly caught his eye.

He had plenty of time before him, and so arranged to hire apartments in some convenient house." "He came to Paris three or four times some weeks ago." "Then there's no longer any doubt about it. He hired some apartments under a false name, paid in advance, and to-day he is comfortably ensconced in his new residence." M.

"Having hired apartments, Tremorel naturally set about furnishing them." "Evidently." "Of course he would furnish them sumptuously, both because he is fond of luxury and has plenty of money, and because he couldn't carry a young girl from a luxurious home to a garret. At this moment three of my men, each with a list and a photograph, are going from upholsterer to upholsterer showing them the picture and asking them if they recognize it as the portrait of one of their customers. The detective, who, like all men of great activity, was a great eater, vainly essayed to entertain his guest, and filled his glass with the choicest Chateau Margaux; the old man sat silent and sad, and only responded by monosyllables. Janouille went to the door, and speedily returned with the announcement that Goulard begged to speak with M. "Monsieur Gendron is too good, too flattering, really!" No matter, the compliment touched his heart.

I certainly deplore the frightful circumstances of this worthy man's death as much as anyone; but on the other hand, I cannot help rejoicing at this excellent opportunity to test the efficacy of my sensitive paper--" "Confound these men of science," cried the indignant Plantat. Am I not ravished when I encounter a fine crime?" And without waiting for his guest's reply, he continued reading the letter: "The experiments promised to be all the more conclusive as aconitine is one of those drugs which conceal themselves most obstinately from analysis. I explained this experiment beforehand to the judge of instruction and the experts who were assisting me.

Why, that body is nothing more to him than 'suspected matter!' And he already imagines himself discussing the merits of his sensitive paper in court!" "He has reason to look for antagonists in court." "And meanwhile he makes his experiments, and analyzes with the coolest blood in the world; he continues his abominable cooking, boiling and filtering, and preparing his arguments--!" M. She came to me to talk of Hector; she admired in him all that seemed to her superior to other men, so that none could be compared with him. I said to myself, when I saw three women of such different characters smitten with him, 'what is there in him to be so loved?'" "Yes," answered M. Lecoq, responding to a secret thought, "women often err; they don't judge men as we do." "Many a time," resumed the justice of the peace, "I thought of provoking him to fight with me, that I might kill him; but then Laurence would not have looked at me any more. And yet you want to save him from trial, the galleys, the scaffold which await him." The old man paused a moment before replying. If I were the judge I should not hesitate to include Laurence in the indictment." "With our aid she will prove victoriously that she was ignorant of all, and has been outrageously deceived." "May be; but will she be any the less dishonored and forever lost? Then she must explain what menaces forced her to do this, which surely was not her own idea. Laurence represents in it the romantic and sentimental element; she--my darling girl--will become a heroine of the assizes; it is she who will attract the readers of the Police Gazette; the reporters will tell when she blushes and when she weeps; they will rival each other in describing her toilet and bearing. He had just cruelly wounded this man, who was so well disposed toward him, and he had everything to fear from his resentment.

"Far be it from me, dear friend," he commenced, "to intend the offence you imagine. Lecoq gazed intently at his companion, and simply said: "Ah!" But this is what he thought: "At last I am going to find out where the manuscript which we heard read the other night, and which is in two handwritings, came from." After a moment's hesitation, M. Besides, had I the right to deprive poor Sauvresy, who was dying in order to avenge himself, of his vengeance?" "But you gave the papers to Madame de Tremorel?" "True; but Bertha had a vague presentiment of the fate that was in store for her. "Two o'clock," cried he, "and I have an appointment between three and four with Madame Charman about Jenny." "I am at your disposal," returned his guest. Each of my three men has a carriage and a good horse; they may be able to finish with the upholsterers within an hour from now. "See here," said he, "what I've written to one of my lieutenants." "MONSIEUR JOB--"Get together six or eight of our men at once and take them to the wine merchant's at the corner of the Rue des Martyrs and the Rue Lamartine; await my orders there." "Why there and not here?" "Because we must avoid needless excursions. Now listen to this: On leaving her aunt's house, Laurence must have gone directly to Tremorel's apartments, the address of which he had given her, and where he had promised to meet her on Thursday morning. She wrote the letter, then, in his apartments. But men do not see clearly in affairs in which they are deeply interested; passion dims the eyes, as heat in a room dims a pair of spectacles.

"It seems to me," he could not help remarking, "that if you wish to keep Hector from trial, the men you have summoned together will be more embarrassing than useful." M. You will be pleased to remain here and wait for the men that I sent out this morning. She conducted them into her drawing-room, invited them to sit in her best arm-chairs, and pressed some refreshments upon them. Lecoq exchanged a significant glance with the old justice; the same idea struck them both at the same moment. These bank-notes could only be the payment for some important service rendered by Jenny to Tremorel. Come, cheer up; you're going to have a splendid chance, because just at this moment I happen to have a piece of exquisite velvet--" "A pretty thing to bring me here for!" "All silk, my dear, at thirty francs the yard.

"It is so possible," he resumed, "that he is at this moment in prison, will soon be tried, and without a doubt will be convicted." M. He thought a moment, and said that my advice was good. It's seldom that a campaign which commences so well ends badly. If Job is at the wine merchant's, and if one of my men has succeeded in his search, the crime of Valfeuillu is solved, and in a week people will have forgotten it." He stopped short on reaching the foot of the street opposite the church. "Aren't there six or eight men waiting for somebody here?" he asked.

Ten men in various guises were drinking there and playing cards. Your ten men will be quite enough, for I shall have the three besides whom I sent out this morning." M. Lecoq, "for my orders will depend on a report which I am expecting." He turned to the men whom he had sent out among the upholsterers: "Which of you was successful?" "I, Monsieur," replied a big white-faced fellow, with insignificant mustaches. Lecoq's face, which had up to that moment worn an anxious expression, beamed with joy.

Plantat gave a groan of disappointment, but M. All the men rose at his approach as before. Our chances at this moment are ninety to ten." "What are you going to do?" asked the justice, whose emotion increased as the decisive moment approached. As it is two hours yet before dark, let's imitate my men; I know a restaurant just by here where you can dine capitally; we'll patronize it." And without awaiting a reply, he led M. But at the moment he was about to open the door, he stopped and made a signal. "If that's so," said he mournfully, "it's all over with our project." "How so?" "Because Tremorel will not leave Laurence by herself for a moment." "Then I'll try to entice him out." "And you, you who are usually so clear-sighted, really think that he will let himself be taken in by a trick! You don't consider his situation at this moment. First, hire a carriage, with a good horse; then go to the wine-shop for one of our men, who will accompany you to Monsieur Wilson's house. Have your eyes open, for he is a rascal who may feel inclined to jump out of his cab and leave you in pursuit of an empty vehicle." "Yes, and the moment I am informed--" "Silence, please, when I am speaking.

If he returns, you will come back with him, and the moment his cab stops before the house give two loud whistles, you know. Plantat and the detective, left alone, began to walk up and down the gallery; both were grave and silent, as men are at a decisive moment; there is no chatting about a gaming-table.

Look, I am trembling at the moment when I see my wishes being realized, and I feel as if a disappointment would be the death of me. "Not yet," said the detective, "not yet; the battle now depends on the precision of our movements. The old justice, his head leaning on the back of his chair and his eyes wandering over the ceiling, passed in mental review the events of the past four years. Wilson's house, accompanied by Job and his men. "You men," said M. Only, as I must positively speak with Madame Wilson, I'm going upstairs." The porter seemed about to resist him by force; but, as Lecoq now called in his men, he thought better of it and kept quiet.

Lecoq posted six of his men in the court, in such a position that they could be easily seen from the windows on the first floor, and instructed the others to place themselves on the opposite sidewalk, telling them to look ostentatiously at the house. Yes, I did love him, it is true--loved him to the forgetfulness of duty, to self-abandonment. I cannot be innocent when Hector has committed a crime; I desire to suffer half the punishment." She spoke with such remarkable animation that the detective despaired of calming her, when two whistles in the street struck his ear. Tremorel was returning and there was not a moment to be lost. "But abandon all hope, Madame, of saving the prisoner; the house is watched; if you look in the court and in the street you will see my men in ambuscade. Lecoq's men, and returned half mad and hideous with terror. Laurence, with a rapid movement, took up the other pistol, and was turning it against herself, when M.

Plantat's, saying to the latter: "Go, lead her away; my men have orders to let you pass, and Palot will lend you his carriage." "But where shall we go?" "To Orcival; Monsieur Courtois has been informed by a letter from me that his daughter is living, and he is expecting her. No; but my conscience will not reproach me, because I have acted rightly." And running to the staircase, he called his men. /

I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the general philosophy of the volume.The body of the little man was more than proportionately broad, giving to his entire figure a rotundity highly absurd. On comparing the intervals between the successive arrivals of Encke’s comet at its perihelion, after giving credit, in the most exact manner, for all the disturbances due to the attractions of the planets, it appears that the periods are gradually diminishing; that is to say, the major axis of the comet’s ellipse is growing shorter, in a slow but perfectly regular decrease. “The pigeons about this time seeming to undergo much suffering, I determined upon giving them their liberty. Shortly before, too, he has himself observed that the lens would not render perceptible objects of less than eighteen inches in diameter; but even this, as I have said, is giving the glass by far too great power. I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the general philosophy of the volume. I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jup annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant attentions Would you believe it?--he had prepared a huge stick, the other day, with which to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the day, solus, among the hills on the main land. Taking now a spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and one to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as quickly as possible.

He, at length, became so obstreperous that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in the vicinity;--or, rather, this was the apprehension of Legrand;--for myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption which might have enabled me to get the wanderer home. It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else shall I call it?) to be enamored of the Night for her own sake; and into this bizarrerie, as into all his others, I quietly fell; giving myself up to his wild whims with a perfect abandon.

“We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial,” he said. The result of decomposition is the generation of gas, distending the cellular tissues and all the cavities, and giving the puffed appearance which is so horrible. /

But she did no more than hiss an insolent gibe.Now I find it ever so much worse than I expected." "Why is that, if I may ask?" "You see, I am travelling alone, practically alone that is to say, with only my maid." "And your child," I added rather casually, with no second thought, and I was puzzled to understand why the chance phrase evoked another vivid blush. But she did no more than hiss an insolent gibe. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. I was too much taken aback to do better than stammer out helplessly, hopelessly, almost unintelligibly, a few words striving to remind her of her own admission. If the first I will help you, if the latter I will also help you as far as lies in my power." "Without conditions?" And when I nodded assent such a smile lit up her face that more than repaid me, and stifled the doubts and qualms that still oppressed me. How thankful I am that I never let you into my secrets! The opportunity was nearer at hand than I thought. I felt that I had better submit to his unpalatable society than let him bore Mrs.

He had taken out a cigar-case and pressed one upon me with such pertinacious, offensive familiarity that I could see no way out of it than by saying peremptorily: "You cannot smoke here.

"Whatever lies in my power to do shall be done without stint or hesitation," I said solemnly, careless of all consequences, content to hold her hand and earn her heartfelt thanks. No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. I had not been overprudent; I had pressed my attentions on him rather abruptly, although I had the excuse that I usually found them well received, thanks to my affable address; again I had behaved most incautiously in penetrating his identity. And, worse than all, I had still no certainty. My place is worth more than that; and if it is a dog's life, it is better than lying on the straw.

We understand our business better than that, we don't go into it single-handed. 70." The news pointed pretty clearly to the passage of the Alps and descent into Italy by another route than the St. More than ever did I set my brain to puzzle out some way of escaping this horrible infliction. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope. My reward was a sweet smile, and I felt encouraged to hazard a few words in reply to her cordial thanks. The smile that came upon her lips was so pleasant and sweet that it might have overjoyed a more conceited man than myself. Fortunately our first stop was within five and twenty minutes, at Vevey; and there in ten minutes more I found a train back to Lausanne, so that I had lost less than an hour and a half in all.

It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, "if," he added cunningly, "it was not Ouchy." But he had seen her, that was sure--seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before. My spirits rose with my release, but there was still more than freedom to encourage my light-heartedness. I had been there more than once, had stayed some time, and I knew too well that it is a city with many issues, many facilities for travelling, and, as they had so much reason for moving on rapidly, the chances were that they would have already escaped me.

"Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me. I liked his face less than ever. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel. My lord was a great deal older than his beautiful young wife, and desperately jealous of her. She never really went wrong, so her friends stoutly averred, especially her sister Claire, a staunch and loyal soul, but she gave a handle to innuendo, and more than once allowed appearances to go against her.

It was more than hinted that they had been spirited away, and they were not the first material witnesses, it was hinted, in an intricate case, conducted by Messrs. Be brave still." "Thank you, Colonel Annesley, I will." She put out her hand with enchanting frankness, her fine eyes shining gratefully.

"There had been no question of that; the possibility of her losing it had never been raised, or she would have nerved herself to fight sooner than give up what she valued more than her very life. "This is my business, too, if you will allow me to say so, and I offer you my advice for what it is worth." "Yes, I will take it thankfully, I promise you." "The only safe course now is the boldest. Thank you--at 5.52 A.M., which will get her to Culoz at 6.48. Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. The reasoning was correct, but Ludovic was always a desperately obstinate creature, jealous and conceited, tenacious of his opinions, and holding them far superior to those who were cleverer and more intelligent than himself. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together. It's not my business; but I fancy I have fallen into a snug berth, a soft job, better than making beds in a sleeping-car and being shaken to death in express trains." "Good wages, if it's a fair question?" "Fifty francs a week, pour tout potage." I looked at him hard, revolving in my mind how best to approach him.

I want a lot more than that, a thousand francs down and fifty francs a day so long as I serve you. 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. "Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly. He'll be off then faster than that," he snapped his fingers, "and you won't find it easy to catch him." "That's good. Why should he be more faithful to my lord than to the Colonel?

Better make friends." "We can do without you, thank you," I said stiffly.

He was unhappy about something; some doubt, some secret dread oppressed him, and more than once I thought he wished to keep out of sight and avoid my searching interrogative eyes. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. I was in for much more than a skirmish; it was to be a battle royal.

Why should I be buried alive in such an out-of-the-way spot?" "It will be no worse than Fuentellato, a place you chose for yourself." "I have a house of my own there--my own servants. In less than an hour we pulled up before the Hôtel Dent du Chat, a simple, unpretending hostelry, to which I had telegraphed in advance, stating my needs. Once more I took the road to Le Bourget, driving over by the first fiacre I could pick up on the stand, a much slower journey than the first, and it was nearly 3 P.M. I had no time to spare for anything outside our settled plan, so I jumped out on to the platform at once, and closely followed by Philpotts joined Henriette, and cried: "Quick, quick, dear, the train goes on in less than ten minutes. The reaction from this agitating scene was little less than despair and collapse. It was still no more than 8.21. In less than an hour I was in the return train and once more at Culoz, where, sending Philpotts to hide with her charge in the inmost recesses of the ladies' waiting-room, I vainly explored the station for any signs of Henriette, but to my delight she was nowhere in sight. The man Tiler, the second detective, the man whom I had already befooled more than once, was there now on the platform, waiting like myself to embark upon the 5.19 train south to Marseilles. I had tried my strength with him more than once already, and felt myself his equal in guile.

More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. He came back more than once during the journey and stared. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked. He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice?

There could no longer be any doubt how "it stood with us;" my heart went out to him then and there, and I nodded involuntarily, more in answer to his own thoughts than his suggestion.

The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. It will be put right now, now that Ralph can no longer oppose it." I bowed my head silently, thankful and deeply impressed with the strange turn taken by events and the sudden light let in upon the darkness that had surrounded us. Our first act was to return to England at the very earliest opportunity, and we embarked that evening on a Forwood steamer direct for London, which port we reached in less than five days. /

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.She drives herself, shortens her petticoats, and cuts down her dress-bodies atrociously. And at all times, incessantly and everywhere, she met him, as if he had been her shadow, or as if he had been condemned to breathe the air which had been displaced by her petticoats. She was in want of every thing, of the most indispensable articles: she had not another dress, nor another petticoat. 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. What gave her such perfect peace was the certainty she had, that Henrietta had left the house bareheaded, with wretched, worn-out shoes on her feet, with nothing but one petticoat, and her thin alpaca dress on her body. 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. /

The cold-air process, that latest of scientific contrivances to arrest the waste of tissue, has now been applied at the Morgue to preserve and keep the bodies fresh, and allow them to be for a longer time exposed than when running water was the only aid.The cold-air process, that latest of scientific contrivances to arrest the waste of tissue, has now been applied at the Morgue to preserve and keep the bodies fresh, and allow them to be for a longer time exposed than when running water was the only aid. /

People were already on the move, work-people, the thrifty, industrious Swiss, forestalling time, travellers in twos and threes arriving and departing by the early train through this great junction on the frontier of Switzerland. The crossing from Dover to Calais had been rough; a drizzling rain fell all the time, and most of the passengers had remained below. Strange to say, they were few enough, as I saw on landing. It was a Sunday in late July, and there ought to have been a strong stream setting towards Central Europe. I hardly expected to find much room in the train; not that it mattered, for my place was booked through in the Lucerne sleeping-car of the Engadine express. When I reached the siding where this train de luxe was drawn up, I saw that I was not merely the first but the only passenger. Five sleeping-cars and a dining-car attached, with the full staff, attendants, chef, waiters--all lay there waiting for me, and me alone. "Not very busy?" I said, with a laugh to the conductor. "Parbleu," replied the man, polyglot and cosmopolitan, like most of his class, but a Frenchman, or, more likely from his accent, a Swiss. "I never saw the like before." "I shall have a compartment to myself, then?" "Monsieur may have the whole carriage if he wishes--the whole five carriages.

It is but to arrange." His eyes glistened at the prospect of something special in this obvious scarcity of coming tips. "The train will run, I hope? The carriages are wanted at the other end for the return journey. Stay, what have we here?" We stood talking together on the platform, and at some little distance from the railway station, the road to which was clear and open all the way, so that I could see a little party of four approaching us, and distinguish them. Two ladies, an official, probably one of the guards, and a porter laden with light luggage. As they came up I discreetly withdrew to my own compartment, the window of which was open, so that I could hear and see all that passed.

"Places?" echoed the conductor. "Madame can have fifty." "What did I tell madame?" put in the official who had escorted her. A separate compartment for myself and maid; the child can come in with us." Now for the first time I noticed that the maid was carrying a bundle in her arms, the nature of which was unmistakable. The way in which she swung it to and fro rhythmically was that of a nurse and child. "If madame prefers, the maid and infant can be accommodated apart," suggested the obliging conductor. "I wish them to be with me. Only, as the train is not full--very much the reverse indeed--only one other passenger, a gentleman--no more--" The news affected her strangely, and in two very different ways. She turned to talk to her maid in English, while the conductor busied himself in preparing the tickets. "What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English. There is nothing to be afraid of, not in that way.

I saw him, the gentleman, as we came up. He's quite a gentleman, a good-looking military-looking man, not at all the other sort--you know the sort I mean." Now while I accepted the compliment to myself, I was greatly mystified by the allusion to the "other sort of man." "You think we can go on, that it's safe, even in this empty train?

We should have passed unobserved among a lot of people." "But then there would have been a lot of people to observe us; some one, perhaps, who knew you, some one who might send word." "I wish I knew who this passenger is. The mere thought makes me shiver. Not a soul could have equalled you at the business.

You might have been at it all your life," said the maid, with affectionate familiarity, that of a humble performer paying tribute to a great artist in crime. The very opposite of the younger woman (about her more directly), a neatly dressed unassuming person, short and squat in figure, with a broad, plain, and, to the casual observer, honest face, slow in movement and of no doubt sluggish temperament, not likely to be moved or distressed by conscience, neither at the doing or the memory of evil deeds. Now the conductor came up and civilly bowed them towards their carriage, mine, which they entered at the other end as I left it making for the restaurant, not a little interested in what I had heard. Who and what could these two people be with whom I was so strangely and unexpectedly thrown?

The one was a lady, I could hardly be mistaken in that; it was proved in many ways, voice, air, aspect, all spoke of birth and breeding, however much she might have fallen away from or forfeited her high station. She might have taken to devious practices, or been forced into them; whatever the cause of her present decadence she could not have been always the thief she now confessed herself. There must surely have been some excuse for her, some overmastering temptation, some extreme pressure exercised irresistibly through her emotions, her affections, her fears. As I still hesitated, puzzled and bewildered, still anxious to give her the benefit of the doubt, she came to the door of the buffet where I was now seated at lunch, and allowed me to survey her more curiously and more at leisure. "A daughter of the gods, divinely tall and most divinely fair." The height and slimness of her graceful figure enhanced by the tight-fitting tailor-made ulster that fell straight from collar to heel; her head well poised, a little thrown back with chin in the air, and a proud defiant look in her undeniably handsome face. Fine eyes of darkest blue, a well-chiseled nose with delicate, sensitive nostrils, a small mouth with firm closely compressed lips, a wealth of glossy chestnut hair, gathered into a knot under her tweed travelling cap. As she faced me, looking straight at me, she conveyed the impression of a determined unyielding character, a woman who would do much, dare much, who would go her own road if so resolved, undismayed and undeterred by any difficulties that might beset her. Then, to my surprise, although I might have expected it, she came and seated herself at a table close to my elbow.

She had told her companion that she wanted to know more about me, that she would like to enlist me in her service, questionable though it might be, and here she was evidently about to make the attempt. "I beg your pardon," she began almost at once in English, when the waiter had brought her a plate of soup, and she was toying with the first spoonful, speaking in a low constrained, almost sullen voice, as though it cost her much to break through the convenances in thus addressing a stranger. "You will think it strange of me," she went on, "but I am rather awkwardly situated, in fact in a position of difficulty, even of danger, and I venture to appeal to you as a countryman, an English officer." "How do you know that?" I asked, quickly concluding that my light baggage had been subjected to scrutiny, and wondering what subterfuge she would adopt to explain it. Gentlemen of your cloth are as easily recognizable as if your names were printed on your back." "And as they are generally upon our travelling belongings." I looked at her steadily with a light laugh, and a crimson flush came on her face.

However hardened a character, she had preserved the faculty of blushing readily and deeply, the natural adjunct of a cream-like complexion.

"Let me introduce myself in full," I said, pitying her obvious confusion; and I handed her my card, which she took with a shamefaced air, rather foreign to her general demeanour. "What was your regiment?" "The Princess Ulrica Rifles, but I left it on promotion.

I am unattached for the moment, and waiting for reëmployment." "Your own master then?" "Practically, until I am called upon to serve. Meanwhile I am loafing about Europe." "Do you go beyond Lucerne?" "Across the St. Am I right in supposing we are to be fellow travellers by the Engadine express?" I went on by way of saying something. "To Lucerne or further?" CHAPTER II.

"Probably." The answer was given with great hesitation. To tell you the truth, I dread the journey. Now I find it ever so much worse than I expected." "Why is that, if I may ask?" "You see, I am travelling alone, practically alone that is to say, with only my maid." "And your child," I added rather casually, with no second thought, and I was puzzled to understand why the chance phrase evoked another vivid blush.

"The child! Oh, yes, the child," and I was struck that she did not say "my" child, but laid rather a marked stress on the definite article. "That of course increases your responsibility," I hazarded, and she seized the suggestion. The idea of going all that way in an empty train quite terrifies me." "I don't see why it should." "But just think. There will be no one in it, no one but ourselves. Suppose the five attendants and the others were to combine against us? They might rob and murder us." "Oh, come, come. You must not let foolish fears get the better of your common sense. Why should they want to make us their victims? I believe they are decent, respectable men, the employes of a great company, carefully selected.

Ladies are perhaps a little too reckless in carrying their valuables about with them. Your jewel-case may be exceptionally well lined." "Oh, but it is not; quite the contrary," she cried with almost hysterical alacrity. "I have nothing to tempt them. And yet something dreadful might happen; I feel we are quite at their mercy." "I don't. I tell you frankly that I think you are grossly exaggerating the situation. Wait over for another train, I mean?" I am free to confess that, although my curiosity had been aroused, I would much rather have washed my hands of her, and left her and her belongings, especially the more compromising part, the mysterious treasure, behind at Calais. "Is there another train soon?" she inquired nervously. It connects with the train from Victoria at 2.20 and the boat from Folkestone.

You need only run as far as Boulogne with this Engadine train, and wait there till it starts. I think about 6 P.M." "Will that not lose time?" "Undoubtedly you will be two hours later at Basle, and you may lose the connection with Lucerne and the St. But if I can be of no further use to you I will make my bow.

It is time for me to get back to the train, and for my part I don't in the least want to lose the Engadine express." She got up too, and walked out of the buffet by my side. "I shall go on, at any rate as far as Boulogne," she volunteered, without my asking the question; and we got into our car together, she entering her compartment and I mine. I smoked many cigarettes pondering over the curious episode and my new acquaintance. A young man would have sworn she was perfectly straight, that there could be no guile in this sweet-faced, gentle, well-mannered woman; and I, with my greater experience of life and the sex, was much tempted to do the same. It was against the grain to condemn her as all bad, a depredator, a woman with perverted moral sense who broke the law and did evil things. 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? "Bother the woman and her dark blue eyes. I hope to heaven she will really leave the train at Boulogne; we ought to be getting near there by now." I had travelled the road often enough to know it by heart, and I recognized our near approach only to realize that the train did not mean to stop. I turned over the leaves of Bradshaw and saw I had been mistaken; the train skirted Boulogne and never entered the station. "Well, that settles it for the present, anyhow.

If she still wants to leave the train she must wait now until Amiens. We had hardly passed the place when her maid's (or companion's) square figure filled the open doorway of my compartment, and in her strong deep voice she addressed a brief summons to me brusquely and peremptorily: "My lady wishes to speak to you." "And pray what does 'my lady' want with me?" I replied carelessly, using the expression as a title of rank. Blair." The correction and information were vouchsafed with cold self-possession. If she had been in any trouble, any serious trouble, such as she anticipated when talking to me at the buffet, and a prey to imaginary alarms since become real, I should have been ready to serve her or any woman in distress, but nothing of this could have happened in the short hour's run so far." "I thought you were a gentleman," was the scornful rejoinder. "A nice sort of gentleman, indeed, to sit there like a stock or a stone when a lady sends for you!" "A lady!" There was enough sarcasm in my tone to bring a flush upon her impassive face, a fierce gleam of anger in her stolid eyes; and when I added, "A fine sort of lady!" I thought she would have struck me. You're not the kind of people I like to deal with or wish to know." She stared at me open-mouthed, her hands clenched, her eyes half out of her head. Her face had gone deadly white, and I thought she would have fallen there where she stood, a prey to impotent rage. The lady, Mrs.

Blair, as I had just heard her called, appeared behind, her taller figure towering above the maid's, her face in full view, vexed with varying acute emotions, rage, grief, and terror combined. Do you go back to our place this instant; we cannot be away together, you know that; it must not be left alone, one of us must be on guard over it. My self-reproach was aroused even before I quailed under the withering contempt of her tone. You can have no real reason for condemning me." "Let me admit that, and leave the matter there," I pleaded. I could not bring myself to tell her that she was self-condemned, that she was the principal witness against herself. Come, please, let there be no more evasion. I shall stay here until you tell me what you think of me, and why." She seated herself by my side in the narrow velvet seat of the small compartment, so close that the folds of her tweed skirt (she had removed her ulster) touched and rubbed against me. I was invaded by the sweet savour of her gracious presence (she used some delightful scent, violette ideale, I believe), by putting forth my hand a few inches I might have taken hers in mine. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. How do I differ from the rest of--your world, let us call it?" "You do not, as far as I can see.

At least you ought to hold your own anywhere, in any society, the very best." "And yet I'm not 'your sort.' Am I a humbug, an impostor, an adventuress, a puppet and play-actress? Or is it that I have forfeited my right, my rank of gentlewoman, my position in the world, your world?" I was silent, moodily, obstinately silent. She had hit the blot, and could put but one interpretation upon it. She still was not satisfied; she would penetrate my reserve, overcome my reticence, have it out of me willy nilly, whether I would or no. I have my reasons for desiring to know the very worst." "Why drive me to that?" I schooled myself to seem hard and uncompromising. I felt I was weakening under the subtle charm of her presence, and the pretty pleading of her violet eyes; but I was still resolute not to give way.

"If you will only tell me why you think such evil I may be able to justify myself, or at least explain away appearances that are against me." "You admit there are such appearances? Remember, I never said so." "Then on what do you condemn me? "You imply that I have no conscience, or that I should feel the qualms, the prickings of conscience?" "After what you've done, yes," I blurted out. How dare you judge me without knowing the facts, without a shadow of proof?" She sprang to her feet and passed to the door, where she turned, as it were, at bay. "I have the very best proof, from your own lips. I heard you and your maid talking together at Calais." "A listener, Colonel Annesley? You stood under my window there." I defended myself indignantly. "And their consequences, madam," but the shot failed rather of effect.

Was she so old a hand, so hardened in crime, that the fears of detection, arrest, reprisals, the law and its penalties had no effect upon her? Now, when standing before me fully confessed for what she was, and practically at my mercy, she could laugh with cool and unabashed levity and make little of the whole affair. If I had hoped that I had done with her now, when the murder was out, I was very much mistaken. She had some further designs on me, I was sure. The woman was in the ascendant, and, as I thought, the eternal feminine ever agog to attract and subjugate the male, she would conquer my admiration even if she could not secure my esteem. Call in the gendarmes at the next station? Have me taken red-handed with the--stolen property--the 'swag,' you know the word, perhaps, in my possession?" "I am not a police officer; it's not my business," I answered gruffly.

"Or you might telegraph back to England, to London, to Scotland Yard: 'The woman Blair in the Engadine express. Wire along the line to authorities, French and Swiss, to look out for her and arrest preparatory to extradition.'" "I would much rather not continue this conversation, Mrs. I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs.

I would rather not have the whole list," I interrupted her, but could not check her restless tongue. I was the heroine of that robbery at Buckingham Palace. I was at the State Ball, and made a fine harvest of jewels.

I have swept a dozen country-houses clean; I have picked pockets and lifted old lace from the shop counters, and embezzled and forged--" "And turned pirate, and held up trains, and robbed the Bank of England," I added, falling into her humour and laughing as she rose to her full height; and again her mood changed, dominating me with imperious air, her voice icily cold in manner, grave and repellent. Nothing, indeed, could take the sting out of this, and yet it was all but impossible to accuse her, to blame her even for what she had done. She read that in my eyes, in my abashed face, my hands held out deprecating her wrath, and her next words had a note of conciliation in them. "There are degrees of wrong-doing, shades of guilt," she said. "Crimes, offences, misdeeds, call them as you please, are not absolutely unpardonable; in some respects they are excusable, if not justifiable. "You know I am still quite in the dark." "And you must remain so, for the present at any rate," she said firmly and sharply.

We are absolute strangers, I owe you no explanation, and I would give you none, even if you asked." "I have not asked and shall not ask anything." "Then you are willing to take it so, to put the best construction on what you have heard, to forget my words, to surrender your suspicions?" "If you will tell me only this: that I may have confidence in you, that I may trust you, some day, to enlighten me and explain what seems so incomprehensible to-day." "I am sorely tempted to do so now," she paused, lost for a time in deep and anxious thought; and then, after subjecting me to a long and intent scrutiny, she shook her head. You must earn the right to my confidence, you must prove to me that you will not misuse it. There are others concerned; I am not speaking for myself alone. If the first I will help you, if the latter I will also help you as far as lies in my power." "Without conditions?" And when I nodded assent such a smile lit up her face that more than repaid me, and stifled the doubts and qualms that still oppressed me. But, bewitched by the sorcery of her bright eyes, I said bravely: "I accept service--I am yours to command. The way is by no means clear.

There are risks, dangers before me. I may ask you to share them. "I shall not disappoint you," was what I said, and, in a firm assured voice, added, "You have resolved then to travel forward in this train?" "I must, I have no choice. I dare not tarry by the way. "That is not in the compact. For the present you must be satisfied so, and there is nothing more to be said." "I shall see you again, I trust," I pleaded, as she rose to leave me. Why should we not dine together in the dining-car by and by?" she proposed with charming frankness, in the lighter mood that sat so well upon her. "The waiters will be there to play propriety, and no Mrs. If only I might be allowed to--" know more, I would have said, but she chose to put other words into my mouth.

"To join us in the watching? Become one of us, belong to a gang of thieves, liable like the rest of us to the law? I would gladly help you, see you through any difficulty by the way, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at active partnership," I answered a little lamely under her mocking eyes. "There is a limit, then, to your devotion?" She was coldly sarcastic now, and I realized painfully that I had receded in her favour. She had by no means dispelled them.

So for half an hour I abused her fiercely; I swore at myself hotly as an ass, a hopeless and unmitigated ass, ever ready to be betrayed and beguiled by woman's wiles, the too easy victim of the first pretty face I saw. The fit lasted for quite half an hour, and then came the reaction. I heard her rich deep voice singing in my ears, I felt the haunting glamour of her eyes, remembered her gracious presence, and my heart went out to her. I knew, of course, that I ought not to stand between her and the inevitable Nemesis that awaits upon misdeeds, but what if I helped her to avoid or escape it? The opportunity was nearer at hand than I thought. Blair, were soon to be put to the test. The train reached Amiens punctually at 5 P.M., and a stoppage of five minutes was announced. I got out to stretch my legs on the platform.

No one took much notice of us; it must have been known that the train was empty, for there were no waiters from the buffet with café au lait or fruit, or brioches--no porters about, or other officials. I had not expected to see any passengers come on board the train, a through express, made up of sleeping-cars and a supplementary charge on the tickets.

But on running into the station (ours was the first carriage) I had noticed a man standing with a valise in his hand, and I saw him following the train down the platform when we stopped. He addressed himself to a little group of conductors who had already alighted, and were gossiping idly among themselves, having nothing else to do. One of them indicated our particular attendant, to whom he spoke, and who brought him directly to our carriage. Evidently the newcomer was bound for Lucerne via Basle. Here was one more occupant of our neglected train, another companion and fellow traveller in our nearly empty sleeping-car.

Curiosity and something more led me to examine this man closely; it was a strange, undefined, inexplicable sense of foreboding, of fateful forecast, that he and I were destined to be thrown together unpleasantly, to be much mixed up with one another, and to the comfort and satisfaction of neither. His position in life, his business, trade or calling were not to be easily fixed; a commercial man, an agent or "traveller" on his own account, well-to-do and prosperous, was the notion borne out by his dress, his white waistcoat and coloured shirt of amazing pattern (a hint of his Italian origin), his rings and the showy diamond pin in his smart necktie. I added to this, my first impression, by further observation, for which I soon had abundant opportunity. When the train moved on, he came and took his seat on the flap seat (or strapontin) just opposite my compartment. I could not tell why, until presently he made overtures of sociability and began a desultory talk across the corridor. My cabin or compartment, it will be remembered, was the last but one; the newcomer had been given the one behind mine, and here from his seat he commanded the whole length of the carriage forward, which included the compartment occupied by Mrs. His eyes were so deep set as to be almost lost in their recesses behind his sandy eyelashes, and he kept them screwed up close, with the intent watchful gaze of an animal about to make a spring.

His whole aspect, his shifty, restless manner, his furtive looks, all were antipathetic and to his great advantage. I had all but shut the door of my compartment in his face, but it suddenly occurred to me that he was capable of wandering on, and when he found the ladies inflicting his greasy attentions upon them. There are ladies in that compartment yonder." "Ladies indeed! You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there. "Does monsieur, tell me quickly, I--I--beg--know them! Can he describe them to me?" "I shall tell you nothing about them. What the mischief do you mean by asking me questions? Find out what you want for yourself." I was hot and indignant with the brute. I shall find out then," and he jumped up, the spring seat closing with a bang from under him.

The noise concealed the sound of the electric bell which I had pressed to summon the attendant, as I rushed out and caught the other man by the arm. "You'll do nothing of the kind," I cried with very vigorous emphasis, backed by all my strength. "I'll shake you to a jelly if you dare to move another inch." "Here, I say, drop it. Who the deuce are you? At this moment the conductor appeared upon the scene, and began to expostulate loudly. No fighting and quarrelling are permitted." "Well, then, people must behave themselves," I retorted. "Don't let this chap annoy your passengers." "I have done nothing to annoy them," stammered the other. Get in there and stay there;" and with that I forced him, almost flung him, into his compartment, where he fell panting upon the velvet sofa. "You'd better keep an eye on him," I said to the conductor, who was inclined to be disagreeable, and was barely pacified by a couple of five-franc pieces. "Fellows of this sort are apt to be a nuisance, and we must take care of the ladies." As I said this I saw Mrs.

Blair's face peering out beyond her door a little nervously, but she ventured to come right out and along the passage towards me. In here?" and she followed the indication of my thumb as I jerked it back, and looked over my shoulder into the compartment. "Ah!" The ejaculation was involuntary, and one of acute painful surprise, the gesture that accompanied it spontaneous and full of terror. "He must not see me; let me go, let me go!" But her strength failed her, and but for my supporting arm she would have fallen to the ground. There was clearly a strong bond of affection between these two, possibly companions and confederates in wrong-doing; the delicate and refined woman, tormented by the inner qualms of outraged conscience, relied and leant upon the stronger and more resolute nature. There, there, don't give way," said the maid, softly coaxing her and stroking her hands. He is there!

Falfani, the--the--you know--" Of course I saw it all now. I had puzzled my brains vainly trying to place him, to fix his quality and condition in life, neglecting the one simple obvious solution to which so many plain indications pointed. The man, of course, was a detective, an officer or private agent, and his dirty business--you see, I was already shaken in my honesty, and now with increasing demoralization under seductive influences I was already inclined to cross over to the other side of the frontier of crime--his dirty business was the persecution of my sweet friend. It will be taken from us." "You cannot, you must not, shall not turn back now," said the maid with great determination. Wouldn't it be better to slip out of the train at the first station and run away?" "He would do the same. And how much the better should we be? It would be far worse; we should be much more at his mercy if we left the train. The journey would still have to be made; we must get to the end, the very end, or we'd better not have started." "He will know then, if he sticks to us. We cannot hide it from him, nor where we have taken it; we shall never be able to keep it, they will come and claim it and recover it;" and she cried hysterically: "I cannot see my way; it's all dark, black as night. I wish--I wish--" "That you had never done it?" quickly asked the maid; and I noticed a slight sarcasm in her tone that was not without its effect in bracing up and strengthening her companion's shattered nerves.

I did it deliberately, counting the cost fully, and it shall be paid, however heavy it may be. It is not regret that tortures me, but the fear of failure when so near success." "We will succeed yet.

Do not be cast down, my sweet dear." The maid patted her on the cheek with great affection. This gentleman, the colonel here, will help us, perhaps." "Will you?" Who could resist her pleading voice and shining eyes? If I had had any scruples left I would have thrown them to the winds. [The Statement of Domenico Falfani, confidential agent, made to his employers, Messrs. Becke and Co., of the Private Inquiry Offices, 279 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.] I propose, gentlemen, to set down here at length the story of my mission, and the events which befell me from the time I first received my instructions. The circumstances which led up to her disappearance and the partners of her flight are already well known to you. The only indication given me, as you are aware, was that I might take it for granted that she would go abroad and probably by the most direct route to the South, to Switzerland and across the Alps into Italy. My orders having only reached me in the early morning, the theft having presumably been committed during the night previous to Sunday, September 21, I was unable to ascertain through the tourist agencies whether any and what tickets had been booked in the directions indicated. My most urgent duty then was to watch the outgoing Continental trains, the first of which left Charing Cross for Dover and Calais at 9 A.M.

I closely watched it therefore, and its passengers, and travelled with it to Cannon Street, where I continued my search, but without result. I was greatly helped in my quest by the not unusual fact noticeable on Sundays, that travellers abroad are few in number. I had no difficulty in satisfying myself that the lady and her party were not in this train, and I returned at once to Charing Cross in time for the second Continental train, the 10 A.M. I had resolved to book myself by that as far as Amiens, for I knew that, once there, I should have reached a central point or junction, a sort of throat through which every train moving southward to Paris or Switzerland must pass. There remained, of course, the route via Dover by Ostend and through Brussels; but I had been informed by you that Ludovic Tiler, my colleague and coworker, was to undertake the inquiry on that line. It is part of my business to be thoroughly familiar with the Continental Bradshaw, and I soon ticked off the different trains that interested me. There was first the 11 A.M.

from Victoria by Dover and Calais, where it connected with the Paris express and the sleeping-car Engadine express, both of which run through Amiens, where, however, the latter branches off to Basle and beyond, with special cars for Lucerne, Zurich and Coire. Then came the 2.20 P.M. from Charing Cross to Folkestone, and so to Boulogne, Amiens and the rest, travelling the same road as the Engadine express. This was the last of the day service, as it gave most time, allowing people to start at the very latest moment, and I felt it quite probable that my lady would prefer to take it. I reached Amiens a little before 5 P.M., and I had a wait of half an hour for the first express from Calais. I was greatly disappointed when at last it appeared issuing from the tunnel, and passed me where I stood at the commencement of the platform, taking stock of each carriage as it passed.

The train seemed to be quite empty; there were no passengers, so the officials, the conductors, informed me when I talked to them, sad and unhappy at the certain loss of tips. Only one of them had any luck, Jules l'Echelle, of the Lucerne sleeping-car, who had one or two people on board. The lady, quite a lady, a grande dame belle personne, tall, fine figure, well dressed; her companion no doubt her servant; the child, well, an ordinary child, an infant in arms. I had them, I felt sure. There could be no mistaking this description. I held them in the hollow of my hand. Here they were in this car, and it would be all my own fault if they escaped me. It would be necessary only to verify my conclusions, to identify the lady according to the description and photograph given me. For the rest I knew what to do. As I have said, there was one other passenger, a gentleman, in the car, and I felt it would be prudent to make his acquaintance.

No doubt I could tell at the first glance whether or not he was an ordinary traveller, or whether he was a friend and accomplice of the lady under observation. I was at great pains to be affable, to treat him with all the courtly consideration I have at command, and I flatter myself that in the matter of tact and good-breeding I do not yield to princes of the blood royal. The man was an absolute brute, abrupt, overbearing, rude. I offered him a cigar (a Borneo of the best brand, at 10s. the hundred), and he not only refused it, but positively forbade me to smoke. There were ladies in the carriage, he said (this was the first reference made to them), and, when declining to be ordered about, I proposed to refer the question to themselves, he threw himself violently upon me and assaulted me brutally. Fortunately the attendant came to my rescue or I should have been seriously injured. He lifted me into my compartment very kindly, and acted like an old friend, as indeed he was, for I remembered him as the Jules l'Echelle with whom I served some time back as an assistant at the Baths of Bormio. It was, of course, clear to my mind that my assailant was associated in some way with the lady, and probably a confederate.

I saw that I must know more about him, with the least possible delay, and as soon as Jules had left me, promising to return later and talk of old times, and the changes that had come over us since then, I ventured to look out and get a glimpse of the other man, I will not call him gentleman after his conduct. He was nowhere in sight, but I could hear his voice, several voices, talking together at the far end. No doubt he had joined his friends in their compartment, and the moment seemed opportune to visit his. It was next to mine, and the door stood invitingly open. At least he made no pretence at mystery; his light baggage lay about, a dressing bag, a roll of rugs, a couple of sticks and an umbrella strapped together, all very neat and precise and respectable, and all alike furnished with a parchment tag or label bearing in plain language all that I wanted to know. Basil Annesley," and his club, the Mars and Neptune, that famous military house in Piccadilly. Underneath, on all, his destination was written, "Hotel Bellevue, Bellagio, Como." There could never be the least difficulty in finding this person if I wanted him, as I thought likely. In my great contentment at the discovery I had been wanting in caution, and I lingered too long on forbidden ground. "You infernal scoundrel," cried some one from the door, and once more I felt an angry hand on my shoulder. Explain yourself." "It's all a mistake," I began, trying to make the best of it, struggling to get free.

But he still held me in a grip of iron, and it was not until my friend Jules appeared that I got out of the enemy's clutches. "The boot is on the other leg, I take it. The man's a thief.

He will have to be locked up." "I'm not the only thief in the car, then," I cried, for I was now mad with him and his threats. "I don't know what you're driving at, or whom you think to accuse; but I tell you this, my friend, that I shall call in the police at the next station and hand you over." I looked at the conductor Jules, appealing for protection. I saw at once that it would be terrible for me to have any trouble with the police. They could do me no harm, but I might be delayed, obliged to leave the train, and I should lose sight of the lady, possibly fail altogether. You might own the whole train. Who might you be?" "None of your confounded impudence," shouted the Colonel, as he pointed to one of the luggage labels. I have caught this man under suspicious circumstances in the very act of rifling my effects. I insist upon his being taken into custody." "There isn't enough for that," Jules answered, still my friend, but weakening a little before this masterly army officer, and I felt that I must speak for myself.

"And if you stop me I will have the law of you for false imprisonment, and bring heavy damages. Enough that you will feel the weight of their hands if you interfere with me in carrying out their instructions." "Well, anyhow, tell me who you are. Is that the name he has given you?"--this to the conductor. "I have a clear right," I insisted, overruling all objections raised by the Colonel; and taking it into my hands I read the names aloud, "Colonel Annesley, Mrs. Blair, maid and child." I pronounced the name with great contempt. No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. Blair; you may take that from me," I said as impressively as a judge on the bench. "And what's more, Colonel, I wouldn't press charges you can't substantiate against me, or I may hit back with another not so easy to meet.

Try to stop me at the next station, and I'll stop your pal--ah, don't"--he had a cruelly strong hand--"your Mrs. Blair, and she'll find herself in a particularly tight place." "We'll see about that," said the Colonel, who kept a stiff face, but was, I think, rather crestfallen. Whatever may have been the Colonel's intentions when he caught me in his compartment, something, and I think my last words, led him to modify them. I ought to be able to hold my own with him, although in truth I was not over happy at the course events had taken, and I could not compliment myself on my good management. I had not been overprudent; I had pressed my attentions on him rather abruptly, although I had the excuse that I usually found them well received, thanks to my affable address; again I had behaved most incautiously in penetrating his identity.

I could only surmise that the lady was the one I was in search of, for I had not as yet clapt eyes on her, and I had been to some extent driven to show my hand before I had made my ground good. So the first thing I did on regaining my own compartment was to ring for Jules, the conductor, and put before him the photograph with which I was provided, and ask him if he recognized it. It is the lady yonder," he said promptly. For the present you must know that I am after her; I have to watch her, stick to her like her shadow until it is time to act." "An adventuress, eh?" "She is in possession of what does not belong to her; something she abstracted from--from--Never mind where, and it must be recovered from her here, or after she leaves the car." "Afterwards, please. I could do it, say somewhere short of Basle, and on reaching there make off. No one should be any the wiser, and they, the women, wouldn't dare to make a fuss." "It's I who do not dare--not for twice five hundred francs. My place is worth more than that; and if it is a dog's life, it is better than lying on the straw.

Besides, there's her friend the Colonel, he'll be on the alert, you may depend." "So must I be, and I must find some way to circumvent him. He sha'n't beat me, the overbearing, hectoring brute. I was not as clever as I thought, and shall have to tell you how seriously I had underrated his worth in the coming trial of strength. As the train sped on and the night began to close in on us, I remained quietly in my berth, pondering over my position, and in considering the course I should adopt under various contingencies. The first and most serious danger was that the lady should succeed in leaving the train at any of the intermediate stations at Basle, and so give me the slip.

There were Laon, Rheims, Chaumont, and the rest. I did not look for any such attempt until far into the night, when the stations were empty and half-dark, and I agreed with Jules to divide the hours till daylight, he taking the first, I the last. We were due at Basle at 5 A.M., and I expected to join forces then with Tiler, my colleague, coming from the side of Ostend, via Brussels and Strasburg. Meanwhile I kept quiet and made no sign beyond showing that I was there and on the spot ready to act if it should be necessary. Thus, when the train slackened speed on approaching a station, I was always on the move and the first to descend and patrol the platform.

The Colonel always got out too, but he never accosted me; indeed, he seemed disposed to despise me, to ignore my existence, or dare me to the worst I could do. I suppose the lady must have been of the same mind, for when dinner-time arrived, she came boldly out of her compartment, and I met her face to face for the first time, on her way to the restaurant.

I was standing at the door of my compartment. "Dinner is ready," the Colonel said to me significantly, but I did not choose to understand, and shook my head, holding my ground. One moment," he whispered to the lady, who walked on, and turned again to me: "Now see here, my friend, I do not mean to leave you behind.

You will come to the dining-car with us, and no two ways about it, even if I have to carry you." "I won't dine with you," I cried.

"You're going to dine under my eye, that's all, even though the sight of you is enough to make one sick. So come along, sharp's the word, see? There was something in his manner that cowed me, and I was obliged in spite of myself to give way. There were only three of us in the dining-car, and we were not a very merry company. Our tables were laid almost adjoining, and there was no conversation between us, except when the Colonel asked me with contemptuous civility what wine I preferred.

He did not talk to the lady, or the merest commonplaces, for I was within earshot. Then I got back to my berth, where the bed was made. I threw myself on to it, rejoiced at the prospect of getting a few hours' sleep while Jules remained on the watch. I slept heavily, but in fitful snatches, as a man does when constantly disturbed by the whirr and whizzing of the train, the rattle and jangle of wheels passing over ill-jointed points. After one of the longest periods of unconsciousness I awoke, aroused by the complete absence of noise. The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt.

Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle. I thought I recognized the station, but I soon made out for certain the name "Basilea" (Basle), and saw the clock with the fingers at five-thirty. People were already on the move, work-people, the thrifty, industrious Swiss, forestalling time, travellers in twos and threes arriving and departing by the early train through this great junction on the frontier of Switzerland. Who are those crossing the platform hurriedly. Right under my eyes, a little party of four, two females, two men accompanying them, escorting them, carrying rugs and parcels. There could not be a shadow of doubt. It was the lady, the so-called Mrs.

Blair, in full flight, with all her belongings, and under the care and guidance not only of the Colonel, that of course, but also of the perfidious Jules l'Echelle.

All doubt of his treachery disappeared when on rushing to the door I found I had been locked into my compartment. I rang the electric bell frantically, again and again. I got no answer; I threw up the window and thrust my head out, shouting for help, but got none, only one or two sluggish porters came up and asked what was amiss, answering stolidly, when they heard, that it was none of their business. "They had no key, it must be a mistake. The conductor would explain, I must wait till he came." Presently Jules arrived, walking very leisurely from the direction of the restaurant, and he stood right under my window with a grin on his face and mockery in his voice.

I believe it was your trickery from the first.

I must get out, I tell you, or they will escape me," I cried. I may say it is pretty certain they will. That was the Colonel's idea; you'd better talk to him about it next time you see him." "And that will be never, I expect. He's not going to show up here again." "There you're wrong; he will be back before the train starts, you may rely on that, and you'll be able to talk to him. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was. The railway officials at Basle might have interfered, but Jules answered for me, declaring with a significant gesture that I was in drink and that he would see to me. Already the train was moving out of the station, when, to my intense joy, I caught sight of Ludovic Tiler, who came down the platform running alongside us, and crying, "Falfani, Falfani," as he recognized me. She's in the restaurant.

You'll easily know her, in a long ulster, with her maid and the child. By the Lord, she is standing at the door! The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot. I had failed, myself, but I hoped that with my lead he would get on to the scent and keep to it. Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler's intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side.

If the Colonel knew that another man was on his friend's track, he would surely have left the train at once so as to go to her assistance. But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler's existence.

I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l'Echelle came with the Colonel to release me. "As for you, l'Echelle, it shall cost you your place, and I'll take the law of you, Colonel Annesley; I'll get damages and you shall answer for your illegal action." "Pfui!" retorted the Colonel. "The mischief you can do is nothing to what you might have done. We can stand the racket. I've bested you for the present--that's the chief thing, anyway.

You can't persecute the poor lady any more." "Poor lady! "If you dare to utter a single word against that lady, I'll break every bone in your body." "I'm saying nothing--it's not me, it's all the world. It was in the papers, you must have read them, the most awful story, such--such depravity there never was--such treachery, such gross misconduct." He caught me by the arm so violently and looked so fierce that for a moment I was quite alarmed. Leave the lady alone, both by word and deed.

You've collared me for a bit, but I'm not the only one in the show." "The only one that counts," he said sneering. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone. "What if I had a pal waiting for me at Basle, who received my instructions there--just when you thought you had me safe--and has now taken up the running?" He was perfectly staggered at this, I could see plainly. "You infernal villain," he shouted, "I believe the whole thing is a confounded lie! I only account to them for my conduct.

But he looked me very straight in the eyes.

Give up the whole business; you will only burn your fingers." "Ah! How so?" "The law is altogether against you. "Tell that to the Courts and to the Judge when you are prosecuted for contempt and charged as an accessory after the fact. It will take the starch out of you." "Rot!

The law can't do us much harm. The only person who might make it disagreeable is Lord Blackadder, and I snap my fingers at him." "The Earl of Blackadder? He has been made the victim of an abominable outrage, and will spare no effort, no means, no money to recover his own." "Lord Blackadder is a cad--a cruel, cowardly ruffian. It would give me the greatest pleasure to kick him down the street. All must depend on what I heard there--upon what news, if any, came from Ludovic Tiler. So on my arrival I made my way straight to the telegraph-office in the corner of the great station, and on showing my card an envelope was handed to me. It was from Tiler at Basle, and ran as follows: "They have booked through by 7.30 A.M., via Brienne, Lausanne to Brieg, and I suppose the Simplon.

Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola?

The sooner the better.

Wire me from all places along the route, giving your movements. 70." The news pointed pretty clearly to the passage of the Alps and descent into Italy by another route than the St.

I had my Bradshaw in my bag, and proceeded at once to verify the itinerary by the time-table, while I drank my early coffee in the restaurant upon the station platform. I was most anxious to join hands with Tiler, and quickly turned over the leaves of my railway guide to see if it was possible, and how it might best be managed. My first idea was to retrace my steps to Basle and follow him by the same road. But I soon found that the trains would not fit in the very least. He would be travelling by the one fast train in the day, which was due at Brieg at four o'clock in the afternoon. My first chance, if I caught the very next train back from Lucerne, would only get me to Brieg by the eleven o'clock the following morning. It was not good enough, and I dismissed the idea forthwith. Then I remembered that by getting off the St. Gothard railway at Goeschenen I should strike the old Furka diligence route by the Devil's Bridge, Hospenthal, and the Rhone Glacier, a drive of fifty miles, more or less, but at least it would get me to Brieg that same night by 10 or 11 o'clock. Before adopting this line I had to consider that there was a risk of missing Tiler and his quarry; that is to say, of being too late for them; for the lady might decide to push on directly she reached Brieg, taking a special carriage extra post as far as the Simplon at least, even into Domo Dossola.

She was presumably in such a hurry that the night journey would hardly deter her from driving over the pass. By the time I reached Brieg they would be halfway across the Alps, and I must take the same road, making a stern chase, proverbially the longest. I turned my attention, therefore, to the Italian end of the carriage road, and to seeing how and when I could reach Domo Dossola, the alternative suggestion made by Tiler. There would be no difficulty as to that, and I found I could be there in good time the same evening. I worked it out on the tables and it looked easy enough. Leave Lucerne by the St. Gothard railway, pass Goeschenen, and go through the tunnel down the Italian side as far as Bellizona. Thence a branch line would take me to Locarno and into touch with the steamboat service on Lake Maggiore. There was a fixed connection according to the tables, and I should land at Pallanza within a short hour's drive of the line to Domo Dossola.

I could be established there by nightfall and would command the situation. Every carriage that came down the Simplon must come under my eye.

There could be no doubt that the Bellizona-Locarno Lake line was the preferable one, and I finally decided in favour of it. I closed my Bradshaw with a bang, replaced it in my bag, drank up my coffee, and started for the telegraph office. I meant to advise Tiler of my plans, and at the same time arrange with him to look out for me just outside the terminus station at Domo Dossola, or to communicate with me there at the Hôtel de la Poste.

On coming out I ran up against the last person I wished to see. It was the Colonel, who greeted me with a loud laugh, and gave me a slap on the back. Well, what's the next move?" "I decline to hold any conversation with you," I began severely. There are police about, and the Swiss police do not approve of brawling," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. "Come, Falfani, tell me what you mean to do now," he went on in the same tone. We are inseparables, you and I, as much united as the Siamese twins. I shall appeal for protection to the authorities." "Do so, my friend, do so.

See which will get the best of that. I don't want to swagger, but at any rate all the world knows pretty well who I am; but what shall you call yourself, Mr. Falfani?" "I have my credentials from my employers; I have letters, testimonials, recommendations from the best people." "Including the Earl of Blackadder, I presume? You may get the best of it in the long run, but you'll lose a good deal of time. I must throw dust in his eyes, put him off the scent, mislead, befool, elude him somehow. The time was drawing on for the departure of the St. I had booked at Amiens as far as Lucerne only, leaving further plans as events might fall out. He would be certain to be within earshot when I went up to the window. "See that gentleman," I nodded towards the Colonel.

"He wants you; do your best for him." And when the tourist agent proceeded on his mission to be accosted, I fear rather unceremoniously, I slipped off and hid out of sight. 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. On looking round I saw Jules l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, but out of uniform, and with an amused grin on his face. How about your service on the car?" I asked suspiciously. His business was the Colonel's, who had set him to assist in watching me. I had two enemies then to encounter, and I realized with some misgiving that the Colonel was not a man to be despised. I secured a place with difficulty; there was rather a rush for the St.

It was composed as usual of corridor carriages, all classes en suite, and I knew that it would be impossible to conceal the fact that I was on board the train. Within five minutes Jules had verified the fact and taken seats in the immediate neighbourhood, to which he and the Colonel presently came. Many excursions, especially by steamer; the Borromean islands well worth seeing, and Baveno and Stresa and the road to the Simplon." I refused to be drawn, and only muttered that I hated excursions and steamers and lakes, and wished to be left in peace.

Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? I took the Colonel's hint, and pretended to take refuge in sleep, and at last, I believe, I dozed off. It was suggested to me by the short tunnels that succeed so frequently in the ascent of the St. They are, as most people know, a chief feature in the mountain railway, and a marvel of engineering skill, being cut in circles to give the necessary length and gain the height with a moderate gradient.

Speed is so far slackened that it would be quite possible to drop off the train without injury whenever inclined. I nursed my project with eyes shut, still feigning sleep; and my extreme quiescence had, as I hoped, the effect of throwing them off their guard.

Jules, like all in the same employment, was always ready for forty winks, and I saw that he was sound and snoring just as we entered the last tunnel before reaching the entrance of the final great tunnel at Goeschenen. I could not be quite sure of the Colonel, but his attitude was that of a man resting, and who had very nearly lost himself, if he had not quite gone off. Fortunately we sat at the extreme end of a coach, in the last places, and besides we three there was only one other occupant in the compartment of six. The fourth passenger was awake, but I made a bid for his good-will by touching my lips with a finger, and the next minute I was gone. I expected to hear the alarm given at my disappearance, but none reached my ears, as the train rattled past me with its twinkling lights and noisy road.

I held myself close against the side of the tunnel in perfect safety, although the hot wind of the passing cars fanned my cheek and rather terrified me. The moment the train was well gone I faced the glimmering light that showed the entrance to the tunnel at the further end from the station, and ran to it with all speed. I knew that my jump from the train could not pass unnoticed, and I counted on being followed. I expected that the tunnel would be explored by people from Goeschenen so soon as the train ran in and reported. My first object, therefore, was to quit the line, and I did so directly I was clear of the tunnel. I climbed the fence, dropped into a road, left that again to ascend the slope and take shelter among the rocks and trees.

The pursuit, if any, was not very keen or long maintained. When all was quiet, an hour later I made for the highroad, the famous old road that leads through the Devil's Pass to Andermatt, three miles above. I altogether avoided the Goeschenen station, fearing any inconvenient inquiries, and abandoned all idea of getting the telegram from Tiler that might be possibly awaiting me.

I should be obliged now to send him fresh news, news of the changed plans that took me direct into Brieg; and on entering Andermatt I came upon the post-office, just where I wanted it, both to send my message and order an extra post carriage from Brieg. It was with a sense of intense relief that I sank back into the cushions and felt that at last I was free. Long before I reached Hospenthal, a mile or so from Andermatt, I was disturbed by strange cries to the accompaniment of harness bells. "Yo-icks, Yo-icks, G-o-ne away!" was borne after me with all the force of stentorian lungs, and looking round I saw to my horror a second carriage coming on at top speed, and beyond all question aiming to overtake us. Soon they drew nearer, near enough for speech, and the accursed Colonel hailed me. Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer. "Going all the way to Brieg by road, I believe? It's all in the day's work." With that I desired my driver to pull up, and waved my hand to the others, motioning to them that the road was theirs. But when I stopped they stopped, and the Colonel jeered. When I drove on they came along too, laughing.

We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St.

Gothard, the other leading to the Furka, I took the first for a short distance, then turned back, just to try my pursuers. They still stuck to me. He had collared me, he was on my back, and I felt that I must throw up the sponge. "I gave you fair notice that you would not get rid of me, and by heaven you shall not," he cried fiercely, putting off all at once the lighter mockery of his tone. You think to find your confederate there, and you hope that, combined, the two of you will get the better of that lady. I must get in touch with him at the earliest possible moment and my nearest way to him, situated as I was now, must be at or through Brieg. We pulled up for luncheon and a short rest at the Furka; again in the afternoon at the Rhone Glacier. Then we pursued our way all along the valley, with the great snow peak of the Matterhorn in front of us, through village and hamlet, in the fast fading light, and so on under the dark but luminous sky into Munster, Fiesch, and Morel, till at length we rolled into Brieg about 11 P.M. I drove straight to the Hôtel de la Poste, careless that my tormentors were accompanying me; they could do me no more harm, and Tiler was at hand to help in vindicating our position.

There was no Tiler at the Hôtel de la Poste; no Tiler in Brieg.

Wait there or leave address." My face must have betrayed my abject despair. I was so completely knocked over that I offered no opposition when the Colonel impudently took the telegram out of my hand and read it coolly. "By the Lord Harry, that's good." CHAPTER X. I travelled via Ostend, Brussels and Strasburg, and was due at Basle from that side at 4.35 A.M. My instructions were to look out for Falfani there, and thought I might do so if our train was fairly punctual, as it was. We were "on time," and the answer to my first question was that the Lucerne express was still at the platform, but on the point of departure.

He was in trouble himself; they had nipped him, caught him tight, and thrown him off the scent. I was now to take up the running. "You've got your chance now, Ludovic," he said hurriedly, as he leaned out of the carriage window. She's got the wiles of the devil, and will sell you like a dog if you don't mind. Hurry now; you'll pick her up in the waiting-room or restaurant, and can't miss her." He gave me the description, and I left him, promising him a wire at the telegraph office, Lucerne. He was right, there was no mistaking her. Few people were about at that time in the morning, and there was not a soul among the plain-headed, commonplace Swiss folk to compare with her, an English lady with her belongings. She was quite a beauty, tall, straight, lissom, in her tight-fitting ulster; her piquante-looking heather cap perched on chestnut curls, and setting off as handsome a face as I have ever seen. And I have seen and admired many, for I don't deny that I've a strong penchant for pretty women, and this was the pick of the basket. It was rather a bore to be put on to her in the way of business; but why should I not get a little pleasure out of it if I could?

I need not be disagreeable; it might help matters and pass the time pleasantly, even if in the end I might have to show my teeth. I saw her looking me over as I walked into the waiting-room, curiously, critically, and for a moment I fancied she guessed who I was. If so--if she thought me one of her persecutors--she would hardly look upon me without repugnance, yet I almost believed it was all the other way. I had an idea that she did not altogether dislike me, that she was pleased with my personal appearance. I had had my successes in my time, and may say, although it sounds conceited, that I had won the approval of other ladies quite as high-toned. In the meantime it would be amusing, enjoyable, to make friends. So far I had still to ascertain the direction in which she was bound. That might be safely inferred, for she was in the waiting-room with her porter and her bags, ready to pass out upon the platform as soon as the doors were opened. (Everyone knows that the idiotic and uncomfortable practice still prevails in Switzerland of shutting passengers off from the train till the very last moment.) This waiting-room served for many lines, and I could only wait patiently to enter the particular train for which she would be summoned.

When at length an official unlocked the door and announced the train for Biel, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, and Brieg, she got up to take her seat, and I had no longer any doubt as to the direction of her journey.

So as I saw her go, I slipped back to the ticket-office and took my place all the way to Brieg, the furthest point on the line. This was obviously my best and safest plan, as I should then be ready for anything that happened. After getting my ticket I found time to telegraph to Falfani at Lucerne, giving him my latest news, and then proceeded to the train. I found the lady easily enough, and got into the same carriage with her.

It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. Although the seat I chose was at a discreet distance, I was able to keep her in view. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope.

One of the Swiss guards of the train, a surly, overbearing brute, like so many others of his class, accosted her rudely, and from his gestures was evidently taking her to task as to the number and size of her parcels in the net above. He began to shift them, and, despite her indignant protests in imperfect German, threw some of them on the floor. I hurried to the rescue, and, being fluent in German as in several other languages--it is part of my stock in trade--I sharply reproved the guard and called him an unmannerly boor for his cowardly treatment of an unprotected lady. She responded quickly, readily, and I thought I might improve the occasion by politely inquiring if I could be of any further service to her. "Perhaps you can tell me, you see I am strange on this line," she answered with a perfectly innocent air, "do you happen to know at what time we are due at Lausanne?" "Not to the minute," I replied.

I had not the slightest suspicion that she was playing with me. Silly ass that I was, I failed to detect the warning that dropped from her own lips. When I got back with the Bradshaw I came upon them for just one moment unawares. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity. It is the only way." Then she caught sight of me as I stood before her, and her manner instantly changed. She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. Lausanne I think you said?" I asked casually as I turned over the pages of the guide. I only wanted to know whether there would be time for déjeuner at Lausanne. I think there is no dining-car on this train?" "No, it is on the next, which is extraordinarily bad mismanagement.

It is a slow train the next, and we are a special express. It depends upon my meeting friends somewhere on the lake, either there or further on. If they come on board we shall run on to Brieg so as to drop over the Alps to Lake Maggiore by the Simplon route." I threw this out carelessly but with deliberate intention, and the shot told.

I had not the smallest doubt that this was her plan also. She was bound to cross over into Italy, that we knew, or our employers firmly believed it, and as she had been driven off the St. Gothard by Falfani she had now doubled back by Switzerland to make the journey to Brieg and across the mountains by road. I had scored as I thought, but I forgot that in gaining the knowledge I had betrayed my own intentions, and put her upon her guard. How long does it take, have you any idea, and how do you travel?" "It is about nine hours by diligence," I said, consulting the Bradshaw, "and the fare is forty francs, but by private carriage or extra post a good deal more." "May I look?" and I handed her the book, "although I never could understand Bradshaw," she added pleasantly. "I shall be very pleased to explain if you are in doubt," I suggested; but she declined laughingly, saying it would amuse her to puzzle out things, so I left her the book and composed myself into a corner while the train rattled on. I mused and dozed and dreamily watched her pretty face admiringly, as she pored over the pages of the Guide, little thinking she was perfecting a plan for my undoing. The first stop was at Biel or Bienne, its French name, and there was a halt of ten minutes or more.

I made my way to the telegraph office in the station, where to my great satisfaction I found a message from Falfani, informing me that he should make the best of his way to Brieg, unless I could suggest something better. The answer I despatched at once to Goeschenen was worded as follows: "Declares she is going to Montreux only. Come on there anyhow and await further from me. I was well satisfied with what we were doing, and on receiving the second and third telegrams at Neuchâtel and Yverdun I was all the more pleased. The smile that came upon her lips was so pleasant and sweet that it might have overjoyed a more conceited man than myself.

"Are we near then? I never was so hungry in my life," and the smile expanded into a gay laugh as she rose to her feet and was ready to leave the carriage. "I'm afraid you will have to wait, Philpotts, we cannot leave that," she pointed to the child nestling sound asleep by her side.

This gentleman will perhaps escort me to the refreshment-room." I agreed, of course, and saying, "Only too charmed," I led the way--a long way, for the restaurant is at the far end of the platform. At last we sat down tête-à-tête and prepared to do full justice to the meal. "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. Come and help me choose," and in duty bound I gallantly carried the food back to the train. I walked ahead briskly, and making my way to the places where we had left the maid and child, jumped in. They were gone, the two of them. The seats were empty, and as the compartment was quite empty, too, no one could tell me when they had left or where they had gone. For the moment I was dazed and dumfounded, but I took a pull on myself quickly. Had they sold me completely?

My one chance was in prompt action; I must hunt them up, recover trace of them with all possible despatch, follow them, and find them wherever they might be. There was just the chance that they had only moved into another carriage, thinking that when I missed them I should get out and hunt for them in the station. To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere. So eager was I that I neglected the ordinary warnings that the train was about to start; the guard's fertig ("ready"), the sounding horn, the answering engine whistle, I overlooked them all, and we moved on before I could descend. Nein, nein, verboten." A hand caught me roughly by the collar and dragged me back. It was the enemy I had made in championing my lady, the guard of the train, who gladly seized the chance of being disagreeable to me. I fought hard to be free, but by the time I had shaken him off the speed had so increased that it would have been unsafe to leave the train.

Fortunately our first stop was within five and twenty minutes, at Vevey; and there in ten minutes more I found a train back to Lausanne, so that I had lost less than an hour and a half in all. It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. My first business was to inquire in and about the station for a person or persons answering to the parties I missed.

Had they separated, these two women, for good and all? If the maid had gone off first, I had to consider whether they would not again join forces as soon as I was well out of the way. They would surely feel safer, happier, together, and this encouraged me to ask first for two people, two females, a lady and her servant, one of them, the latter, carrying a child. There were many officials about in uniform, and all alike supercilious and indifferent, after the manner of their class, to the travelling public, and I could get none to take the smallest interest in my affairs. One shrugged his shoulders, another stared at me in insolent silence, a third answered me abruptly that he was too occupied to bother himself, and a fourth peremptorily ordered me not to hang any longer about the station. Foiled thus by the railway staff--and I desire to place on record here my deliberate opinion after many years' experience in many lands, that for rudeness and overbearing manners the Swiss functionary has no equal in the whole world--I went outside the station and sought information among the cabmen and touts who hang about waiting to take up travellers. I accosted all the drivers patiently one by one, but could gather nothing definite from any of them.

Most had been on the stand at the arrival of the midday train, many had been engaged to convey passengers and baggage up into the town of Lausanne, and had deposited their fares at various hotels and private residences, but no one had driven any party answering to those of whom I was in search. This practically decided the point that my lady had not left the station in a carriage or openly, if she had walked. But that she had not been observed did not dispose of the question. They were dull, stupid men, these, only intent on their own business, who would pay little attention to humble persons on foot showing no desire to hire a cab. A confidential agent who will not take infinite pains in his researches had better seek some other line of business. As I stood there in front of the great station belonging to the Jura-Simplon, I saw facing me a small façade of the Gare Sainte Luce, one of the intermediate stations on the Ficelle or cable railway that connects Ouchy on the lake with Lausanne above. It was not a hundred yards distant; it could be easily and quickly reached, and without much observation, if a person waited till the immediate neighbourhood had been cleared by the general exodus after the arrival of the chief express of the day. There were any number of trains by this funiculaire--at every half-hour indeed--and any one taking this route could reach either Lausanne or Ouchy after a very few minutes' journey up or down. I was only too conscious of my great loss of time, now at the outset, which might efface all tracks and cut me off hopelessly from any clue.

I was soon across and inside the Sainte Luce station, but still undecided which direction I should choose, when the little car arrived going upward, and I ran over to that platform and jumped in. I must begin one way or the other, and I proceeded at once to question the conductor, when he nicked my ticket, only to draw perfectly blank. It is idiote to ask such questions, monsieur, of a busy man." "I can pay for what I want," I whispered gently, as I slipped a five-franc piece into his hand, ever mindful of the true saying, Point d'argent, point de Suisse; and the bribe entirely changed his tone. Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not--" he dropped his voice--"not for five francs." I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue. But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, "if," he added cunningly, "it was not Ouchy." But he had seen her, that was sure--seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before.

he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, "diable, who could say?" I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry. She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand.

I resolved to inquire at all the hotels forthwith. I must run her to ground if possible, fix her once more, or I should never again dare to look my employers in the face. I was now upon the great bridge that spans the valley of the Flon and joins the old with the new quarter of Lausanne. The best hotels, the Gibbon, Richemont, Falcon, Grand Pont, and several more, stood within easy reach, and I soon exhausted this branch of the inquiry. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address--Eugène Falloon, Rue Pré Fleuri--where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus. On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news.

The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy." "And on board the steamer? "He shall tell you himself if I can find him when we reach the terminus.

It may not be easy, but I could do it if--" Another and a third five-franc piece solved his doubts, and I abandoned my visit to the terminus hotel to seize this more tangible clue, and proceeded at once to the lake shore. On reaching the steamboat pier I was introduced to the porter, a shock-headed, stupid-looking creature, whom I forthwith questioned eagerly; but elicited only vague and, I felt sure, misleading replies. The conductor assisted at my interview, stimulating and encouraging the man to speak, and overdid it, as I thought. I strongly suspected that this new evidence had been produced in order to bleed me further. Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse? How dressed, and did he suppose her condition to be that of a lady like the other, equal in rank, or an inferior?

The answers I got were not encouraging. Of course they were ladies, both of them. In the very latest fashion. They were very distinguished people. "Were they carrying anything, either of them?" I inquired. "Yes, when I saw them first they had much baggage. It was for that they summoned me. Handbags, sacs de nuit, rugs, wrappers, bonnet-boxes, many things, like all travellers." "And you noticed nothing big, no parcel for which they were particularly concerned?" "They were anxious about everything, and worried me about everything, but about no one thing especially that I can remember." This did not tally with my own observation and the extreme care taken of the child in the woman's arms. I did not look at the clock." "But you know by the steamers that arrive. You men must know which are due, and when they pass through." "Come, come, Antoine," broke in the conductor, determined to give him a lead, "you must know that; there are not so many.

It would be about 2 P.M., wouldn't it, when the express boat comes from Vevey and Bouveret?" "Yes, I make no doubt of that," said the man, with a gleam of intelligence upon his stolid face. "And the ladies went on board it, you say? You are sure?" "It must have been so; I certainly carried their traps on board." "Now, are you quite positive it was the two o'clock going that way, and not the quarter past two returning from Geneva?" I had my Bradshaw handy, and was following the time-table with my fingers. "The 2.15?" The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face.

You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier.

I could easily make a mistake between them." "It is my firm belief," I said, utterly disgusted with the fellow, "my firm belief that you have made a mistake all through. You never saw the ladies at all, either of you." I turned upon the conductor with a fierce scowl. I've a precious good mind to report you to your superiors, and insist upon your refunding the money. My superiors will always listen first to one of their own employés, and it will be awkward if I charge you with obstructing an official and making false charges against him." Mine is a hasty temper; I am constrained to confess to a fault which often stood in my way especially in my particular business. The conductor's insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Without another word I rushed at him, caught him by the throat, and shook him violently, throwing him to the ground and beating his head upon it savagely.

I was quickly removed like any malefactor to the lock-up in the town above, and was thus for the moment effectively precluded from continuing my pursuit. Law and order are not to be lightly trifled with in Switzerland, least of all in the Canton de Vaud. I had been taken in the very act of committing a savage assault upon an official in the execution of his duty, which is true to the extent that every Swiss official conceives it to be his duty to outrage the feelings and tyrannize over inoffensive strangers. The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. I was not permitted to answer the charge against me, but was at once consigned to a cell, having been first searched and despoiled of all my possessions. Among them was my knife and a pocket revolver I generally carried, also my purse, my wallet with all my private papers, and my handbag.

Both wallet and handbag were locked; they demanded the keys, thinking I had them hidden on my person, but I said they could find them for themselves, the truth being the locks were on a patent plan and could be opened with the fingers by any one who knew. My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it. I offered him any money in reason, I would pay any sum they might fix, pay down on the nail and give my bond for the rest. My gaolers scouted the proposal indignantly. It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? what could I produce in cash on the nail? My bond would not be worth the paper it was written on. No, no, there was no chance for me; nothing could save me. I must go before the correctional police and pay in person for my offence.

I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more. I appealed to the British Consul; I insisted upon seeing him. When they laughed at me, saying that he would not interfere with the course of justice on behalf of such an unknown vagabond, I told them roundly that I was travelling under the special protection of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, the illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne. Let them bring me my wallet. I would show them my passport bearing the Royal Arms and the signature of one of H.M. All of us in the employ of Messrs. Becke invariably carried Foreign Office passports as the best credentials we could produce if we were caught in any tight place.

The greeting of so great a personage to his trusty and well beloved Ludovic Tiler had a very marked effect upon my captors. It was enhanced by the sight of a parcel of crisp Bank of England notes lying snugly in the pocket of the wallet, which I had opened, but without betraying the secret of the spring. When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release. I was promised dinner from a restaurant hard by, and was permitted to send a brief telegram to Falfani, to the effect that I was detained at Lausanne by unforeseen circumstances, but no more. Then bedding was brought in, on which, after a night in the train, I managed to sleep soundly enough until quite late next morning.

I had summoned Eugène Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened.

He was prompt and practical, and proceeded to perform the commissions I gave him with all despatch. I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke's have friends and correspondents in every city of the world.

He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice. I had been warned that I might expect to be examined that very day, but that several were likely to elapse before the final disposal of my case. All that forenoon, and quite late into the next day, I was left brooding and chafing at my misfortune, self-inflicted I will confess, but not the less irksome to bear. I had almost persuaded myself that I should be left to languish here quite friendless and forgotten, when the luck turned suddenly, and daylight broke in to disperse my gloomy forebodings.

First came the Consul, and with him an intelligent Swiss advocate, who declared he would soon put matters right. That was the only question. And while we still discussed it we found amongst the callers a respectable and well-to-do watchmaker from Geneva, who had been entreated (no doubt from Becke's) to do all that was needful on my behalf. I might be of good cheer; there was no reasonable doubt but that I should be released, but hardly before next day. A second night in durance was not much to my taste, but I bore it with as much resignation as I could command; and when next morning I appeared before the Court, I paid my fine of one hundred francs with hearty good-will. I assured my bail, the friendly watchmaker, that he need not have the smallest fear I should again commit myself. My spirits rose with my release, but there was still more than freedom to encourage my light-heartedness. Falloon had come upon undoubted evidence that she had never left the great Jura-Simplon station, but had remained quietly out of sight in the "ladies' waiting-room" until the next train left for Geneva. This was at 1.35 P.M., and she must have slipped away right under my eyes into the very train which had brought me back from Vevey.

So near are the chances encountered in such a profession as ours. Falloon had only ascertained this positively on the second day of my detention, but with it the information that only two first-class tickets, both for Geneva, had been issued by that train. To make it all sure he had taken the precaution to ask at all the stations along the line at which the train had stopped, seven in number, and had learned that no persons answering to my ladies had alighted at any of them.

So my search was carried now to Geneva, and it might be possible to come upon my people there, although I was not oversanguine. I knew something of the place. I had been there more than once, had stayed some time, and I knew too well that it is a city with many issues, many facilities for travelling, and, as they had so much reason for moving on rapidly, the chances were that they would have already escaped me. We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. The party had certainly been seen at this very station. Two ladies, one tall, the other short, with a baby. They had gone no further then; they had not returned to the station since. But there was a second station, the Gare des Vollondes, at the opposite end of the city, from which ran the short line to Bouveret on the south shore of the lake, and I sent Falloon there to inquire, giving him a rendezvous an hour later at the Café de la Couronne on the Quai du Lac.

Meanwhile I meant to take all the hotels in regular order, and began with those of the first class on the right bank, the Beau Rivage, the Russie, de la Paix, National, Des Bergues, and the rest.

As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole. Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction. It was the lady herself. She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot. At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. My lady made up her mind then and there, and as it paused she boarded it with one quick, agile spring. With no less prompt decision I followed her, and we entered the car almost simultaneously.

There were only two seats vacant and, curiously enough, face to face. "Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. The truth was my child had been suddenly taken ill and the nurse had to leave the train hurriedly. "But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake," she continued. I begin to like the place, and I have found very comfortable quarters at the Hôtel Cornavin, near the station. There was surely some pitfall, some trap concealed for my abounding credulity.

"The accommodation is good, nice rooms, civil people, decent cuisine. The tram-car by this time had run through the Place Molard, the Allemand Marché, and was turning into the Rue de la Corraterie, pointing upward for the theatre and the Promenade des Bastions. She settled the question by getting out at the Place Neuve with a few parting words. Do try the Cornavin.

What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there? I could not afford to let her out of my sight, and with one spring I also left the car and, catching a last glimpse of her retreating skirts, gave chase. I cannot say whether she realized that I was following, but she led me a pretty dance. In and out, and round and round, by narrow streets and dark passages, backwards and forwards, as adroitly as any practised thief eluding the hot pursuit of the police.

At last she paused and looked back, and thinking she had shaken me off (for knowing the game well I had hastily effaced myself in a doorway) plunged into the entrance of a small unpretending hotel in a quiet, retired square--the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, certainly not the Cornavin.

The door in which I had taken shelter was that of a dark third-rate café well suited to my purpose, and well placed, for I was in full view of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, which I was resolved to watch at least until my lady came out again. As I slowly absorbed an absinthe, revolving events past and to come, I thought it would be well to draw Falloon to me. It was past the hour for our meeting. I scribbled three lines of a note and despatched it to the Café de la Couronne by a messenger to whom I fully described my colleague's appearance, desiring him to show the addressed envelope before delivery, but having no doubt that it would reach its destination. Presently Falloon joined me, and as my lady had as yet made no sign, I bade him continue the watch, while I left the café openly and ostentatiously, so that it might be seen by any one curious to know that I had given up the game. I designed only to try the Hôtel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable. There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel.

I was told directly I asked at the bureau that a Mrs. Blair, accompanied by her maid and child, was staying in the house. She was not at home for the moment.

I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand. I secured a room at the Cornavin Hôtel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once. With this idea I took the earliest opportunity of telegraphing to him as follows: "Detained by unfortunate contretemps at Lausanne, happily surmounted, clue lost and regained. "LUDOVIC." I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M. It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. Combined we could tie ourselves to our quarry, and never let her out of sight until our principals could take over and settle the business. Then hailing a cab, I drove to a point close by where I had left Falloon, and found the situation entirely unchanged. No one had come out of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio.

All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me. The more I tortured my brain to consider how, the less I was able to fathom her intentions. The time ran on, and I thought it would be prudent to return to my own hotel. Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying. Falloon should stand his ground where he was, but I fully impressed upon him the importance of the duty entrusted to him. Blair had not returned when the table d'hôte bell rang at the Cornavin, but I had hardly swallowed the first spoonful of soup when Falloon appeared, hot and flurried, with very startling news. "Already her carriage enters the station--without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere." I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. There she was ahead of me, quite unmistakable, walking quickly, with her fine upright figure clad in the same pearl gray ulster she had worn in the tram-car. She passed through the open doors of the waiting-room on to the platform where the train was waiting with engine attached. "The 7.35 for Culoz and beyond by Amberieu to Paris," I was informed on inquiry.

"A double back," I concluded on the spot. In another minute or two she would have eluded me once more. As we were on the point of starting, I scribbled a few lines on a leaf torn from my pocket-book to inform Falfani of my hasty departure and the reason for it. This I folded carefully and addressed to him, entrusting it to Falloon, who was to seek out my colleague at the Hôtel Cornavin after the arrival of the late train from Brieg, and deliver it. At the same time I handed Falloon a substantial fee, but desired him to offer his services to Falfani. I saw no more of the lady. She did not show at Bellegarde when the French Customs' examination took place, nor yet at Culoz, and I believed she was now committed to the journey northward. But as I was dozing in my place and the train slowed on entering Amberieu, the guard whom I had suborned came to me with a hurried call. Madame has descended and is just leaving the station.

No doubt for the Hôtel de France, just opposite." There she was indeed with all her belongings. (How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. I quickened my pace and entered the hotel almost simultaneously with her. Ranging up alongside I said, not without exultation: "Geneva was not so much to your taste, then? You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. She was so closely veiled that I could not see her face, but it was the same figure, the same costume, the same air.

No fear." I meant to spend the night on guard, watching and waiting till I was relieved by the arrival of the others, to whom I telegraphed without delay. I left my narrative at the moment when I had promised my help to the lady I found in such distress in the Engadine express. I promised it unconditionally, and although there were circumstances in her case to engender suspicion, I resolutely ignored them. It was her secret, and I was bound to respect it, content to await the explanation I felt sure she could make when so minded. It was at dinner in the dining-car, under the eyes of her persecutor, that we arranged to give him the slip at Basle.

As may be supposed I rejoiced greatly on reaching Brieg to find that Falfani had been bitterly disappointed. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne.

He said he had lost "her," the lady of course. I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out.

She certainly had not reached Brieg, for with my ally l'Echelle we searched the town for news of her that night and again next morning. The situation was embarrassing. I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief. One of us, l'Echelle or myself, continually watched him all that day, the third of this curious imbroglio into which I was plunged. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room. When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed. "I'll appeal to the law, I'll denounce you to the authorities, I'll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment.

I loathe and detest you. "I am the representative of a court of law; I have great people at my back, people who will soon bring you to book. The Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder will arrive shortly. I've told you before now what I think of Lord Blackadder, and if it be necessary I'll tell him to his face when he gets here." This conversation took place just before the table-d'hôte luncheon, and immediately afterwards Falfani went out in the direction of the railway station. I followed, keeping him in sight on the platform, where, by and by, I saw him, hat in hand, bowing obsequiously before a passenger who alighted from the incoming train. They walked back together to the hotel, and so, at a certain distance, did I. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me.

"Earl of Blackadder" was the name engraved, and written just below in pencil were the words, "would like to speak to Colonel Annesley at once." "Well, I've no objection," I began, stiffly. I thought the summons a trifle too peremptory.

"Where is he?" The waiter pointed back to the hotel, and I saw a white, evil face glowering at me from a window on the ground floor of the hotel. The very look on it stirred my bile. It was an assumption of superiority, of concentrated pride and exaggerated authority, as though everyone must yield to his lightest wish and humble himself in the dust before him. I resented this, and slipping the card carelessly in my pocket, I nodded to the waiter, who still stood awaiting my reply. Mahomet came to the mountain. It wore an angry scowl now; his dark eyes glittered balefully under the close-knit eyebrows, his lips were drawn down, and the curved nose was like the aggressive beak of a bird of prey. "Colonel Annesley, I understand," he said coldly, contemptuously, just lifting one finger towards the brim of his hat. "That is my name," I responded, without returning the salute. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel. There can be nothing between you and me, Lord Blackadder, that concerns me very closely; nothing that the whole world may not hear." "What I have to say might prove very unpleasant to you in the telling, Colonel Annesley.

Say what you please, my lord, and, if you like, as loud as you please, only be quick about it." "With all my heart, then, if you will have it so. "People who forget themselves so far as you have done must accept the responsibility of their own actions; and I tell you, here and now, that I shall call you to strict account for yours." The man was trying me hard, but still I strove to keep my temper. No one would do so who had read the public prints lately." "How dare you, sir, refer to my conduct, or presume to criticize or question it?" he burst out. We are within a short step of either France or Italy, and in both countries the old-fashioned plan of settling affairs of honour is still in force. We shall find friendly seconds in the nearest garrison town, and I shall be glad to cross the frontier with you whenever you please." "You talk like the hectoring, swashbuckling bully that you are," he cried angrily, but looking rather uncomfortable.... "I will swear the peace against you." "Do so by all means. A man who would descend to espionage, who could so cruelly misuse a lady, is capable of anything; of making assertions he cannot substantiate, of threatening things he dare not do." "I have the clearest proof of what I say. You have chosen to come into my life--" "I should be extremely sorry to do so." "Will you deny that you have sided with my enemies, that you have joined and abetted them in a base plot to defraud and rob me of my--my--property, of that which I most highly value and cherish of all my possessions?" "I don't know what you are talking about, Lord Blackadder, but whatever your grievance I tell you candidly that I do not like your tone or your manner, and I shall hold no further converse with you." I turned my back on him and walked away.

I shall go my own road, and I defy you to do your worst." Here, when I was on the threshold of the hotel, I met Falfani full, as he came running out excitedly, holding in his hand the telltale blue envelope, which, with his elated air, indicated clearly that he had just received important news. I paused for a moment, hoping he might commit himself, and was rewarded by hearing him say aloud: "It is from Geneva, my lord, from Ludovic Tiler," he began indiscreetly, and was angrily silenced by my lord, who called him "a triple-dyed idiot," and with a significant gesture towards me bade him walk away to some distance from the hotel. The mischief was done, however, for I had of course heard enough to know that the other detective had given signs of life at last, and that the report, to judge by Falfani's glee, must be satisfactory. The more pleased the other side, the more reason to fear that matters were adverse on ours. It might be thought that I was too hard on my Lord Blackadder, but only those few indeed who were unacquainted with the circumstances of his divorce would find fault with me. The scandal was quite recent, and the Blackadder case had been in everybody's mouth. The papers had been full of it, and the proceedings were not altogether to his lordship's credit. They had been instituted by him, however, on grounds that induced the jury to give him a verdict, and the judge had pronounced a decree nisi on the evidence as it stood.

Yet the public sympathies were generally with the respondent, the Countess of Blackadder. It had been an unhappy marriage, an ill-assorted match, mercenary, of mere convenience, forced upon an innocent and rather weak girl by careless and callous guardians, eager to rid themselves of responsibility for the two twin sisters, Ladies Claire and Henriette Standish, orphans, and with no near relations. Lord Blackadder was immensely rich, but a man of indifferent moral character, a roué and a voluptuary, with a debilitated constitution and an unattractive person, possessing none of the gifts that take a maiden's fancy. Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. Distrust grew into strong suspicion, and presently consumed him when an old flame of Lady Henriette's, Charlie Forrester, of the Dark Horse, turned up from foreign service, and their names came to be bracketed together by the senseless gossiping busybodies ever ready to tear a pretty woman's reputation to tatters. There was one very awkward story that could not be disproved as it was told, and in the upshot convicted her.

It was said, but not so positively, that she had met him at Victoria Station; they were seen there together, had travelled by the same train, and there was a strong presumption that they had arrived together at Brighton; one or two railway officials deposed to the fact. Lady Blackadder denied this entirely, and gave a very different complexion to the story. Major Forrester had seen her off, no doubt, but they had parted at the carriage door. Her visit to Brighton had been for the purpose of seeing and staying with an old servant, once a very confidential maid for whom she had a great liking, and had often taken refuge with when worried and in trouble. She thought, perhaps, to make this the first stage in the rupture with my lord. This flight was the head and corner-stone of Lady Blackadder's offending. It was interpreted into guilt of the most heinous kind; the evidence in support of it seemed overwhelming. Witnesses swore positively to the companionship of Major Forrester, both at Victoria and Brighton, and it was to be fairly assumed that they were at the latter place together.

The maid, a woman married to an ex-French or Swiss courier, by name Bruel, could not be produced, simply because she could not be found in Brighton. They were supposed to be settled there as lodging-house keepers, but they had not resided long enough to be in the Directory, and their address was not known. Lord Blackadder's case was that they were pure myths, they had never had any tangible existence, but were only imported into the case to support an ingenious but untenable defence. It was more than hinted that they had been spirited away, and they were not the first material witnesses, it was hinted, in an intricate case, conducted by Messrs.

So the plausible, nay, completely satisfactory explanation of Lady Blackadder's visit to Brighton could not be put forward, much less established, and there was no sort of hope for her. She lost her case in the absence of the Bruels, man and wife. The verdict was for Lord Blackadder, and he was adjudged to have the care and custody of the child, the infant Viscount Aspdale. I had not the smallest doubt when I realized with whom I had to do that the unhappy mother had made a desperate effort to redress her wrongs, as she thought them, and had somehow contrived to carry off her baby before she could be deprived of it. I had met her in full flight upon the Engadine express. The Court might order such an unnatural proceeding, but I was moved by every chivalrous impulse to give her my unstinting and unhesitating support to counteract it. I was full of these thoughts, and still firmly resolved to help Lady Blackadder, when l'Echelle, the conductor whose services I still retained, sought me out hurriedly, and told me that he believed the others were on the point of leaving Brieg. "I saw Falfani and milord poring over the pages of the Indicateur, and heard the word Geneva dropped in a whisper. I think they mean to take the next train along the lake shore." "Not a doubt of it," I assented; "so will we. They must not be allowed to go beyond our reach." When the 6.57 P.M.

for Geneva was due out from Brieg, we, l'Echelle and I, appeared on the platform, and our intention to travel by it was made plain to Lord Blackadder. The effect upon him was painfully manifest at once. Seeing me enter the same carriage with him, with the obvious intention of keeping him under my eye, he threw himself back among the cushions and yielded himself with the worst grace to the inevitable. The railway journey was horribly slow, and it must have been past 11 P.M. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed. I expected them to take a carriage and drive off, and was prepared to give chase, when I found they started on foot, evidently to some destination close at hand. It proved to be the Cornavin Hôtel, not a stone's-throw from the station. They entered, and went straight to the bureau, where the night clerk was at his desk.

I heard them ask for a person named Tiler, and without consulting his books the clerk replied angrily: "Tiler! He has gone off from the dinner-table and without paying his bill." "That shall be made all right," replied Lord Blackadder loftily, as he detailed his name and quality, before which the employé bowed low. "And might I ask," his lordship went on, "whether a certain Mrs. Blair, a lady with her child and its nurse, is staying in the hotel?" "But certainly, milord. They have been here some days. This explains." And he passed the scrap of paper on to his employer.

He says the parties have gone, and that he is in close attendance; yet this fellow here," pointing to the clerk, "assures us she is in this very house. I don't understand it, by Gad!" "There is some fresh trick, my lord, you may be sure. The devil himself isn't half so clever as this fine lady.

But we'll get at the bottom of it. We shall hear more from Tiler, and we've got the lady here, under our hand." "Ah! How do you know, sir," to the clerk, "that Mrs. Blair is still in the hotel? See, it is marked in the register. Blair holds it still." "But she may not be in it, all the same.

She may retain it, but not use it." "Look, my lord, look, there's one of her party, anyway," interposed Falfani, and he called his attention to a female figure standing a little aloof in the shadow of the staircase, and which I had already recognized. Lord Blackadder had not seen her, and now his eye, for the first time, fell upon me. Take yourself off, or I will not answer for the consequences." I confess I only laughed and still held my ground, although my lord's outcry had attracted much attention. Several people ran up, and they might have sided against me, when I heard a voice whisper into my ear: "Come, sir, come. "I had no idea you were within miles, and was repining bitterly that I had let you get so far out of the way. Now you appear in the very nick of time, just when I was almost in despair. Then with a conscious blush she went on. I can lay no claim to the title." "May I be forgiven if I trench on such a delicate subject, and assure you of my most sincere sympathy?

I was watching that fellow, the detective Falfani, when his lordship came upon the scene.

How am I to escape him?" "With the child?" "To be sure. Of course, I do not fear him in the least for myself." "You want to keep the child?" "Naturally, as I carried it off." "And still more because you had the best right to it, whatever the Court might direct. You are its mother." Again she blushed and smiled, rather comically. Yet he is very near getting it now." "In there?" I nodded towards the next room. How are you to manage it?" "There would not have been the slightest difficulty; it was all but done, and then some one, something, failed me. I expected too much perhaps, but I have been bitterly disappointed, and the danger has revived." "Come, come, Lady Blackadder, keep up your courage. Let us take counsel together.

"It is getting late, but you must hear all I have to tell before we can decide upon the next step. First let me clear the ground a little. I am not Lady Blackadder--no, no, do not misunderstand me--not on account of the divorce, but I never was Lady Blackadder. I shall never forget that detestable trial, those awful days in the Divorce Court, when the lawyers fought and wrangled over my darling sister, like dogs over a bone, tearing and snarling at each other, while the judge sat above like a solemn old owl, never moving or making a sign. "Henriette positively refused to appear in the case, although she was pressed and entreated by her legal advisers.

She could have thrown so much light on the worst and darkest part. She could have repudiated the cowardly charges made, and cast back the lies drawn round her to ruin her. If the jury had but seen her pretty, pathetic face, and heard from her own sweet lips all she had endured, they would have come to a very different verdict. She would not defend the action; she did not want to win it, but waited till it was all over, hiding herself away in a far-off corner of the Apennines, where I was to join her with the child, little Ralph. "There had been no question of that; the possibility of her losing it had never been raised, or she would have nerved herself to fight sooner than give up what she valued more than her very life. "It fell upon me with crushing effect, although towards the end of the trial I had had my forebodings.

Lord Blackadder was to have the custody of his heir, and my dear sweet Henriette was to be robbed for ever of her chiefest joy and treasure. The infant child was to be abandoned to strangers, paid by its unnatural and unfeeling father. "I had braced myself to listen to all that came out in court, a whole tissue of lies told by perjured wretches whose evidence was accepted as gospel--one of them was the same Falfani whom you know, and who had acted the loathsome part of spy on several occasions. "Directly the judge had issued his cruel fiat, I slipped out, hurried down-stairs into the Strand, jumped into a hansom, and was driven at top speed to Hamilton Terrace, bent upon giving instant effect to a scheme I had long since devised. The dear baby was dressed quickly--he was as good as gold--the baggage, enough for my hurried journey to Fuentellato, had been packed for days past, and we took the road. When I first saw you at Calais I was seized with a terrible fear, which was soon allayed; you did not look much like a detective, and you were already my good friend when the real ruffian, Falfani, came on board the train at Amiens." "On reaching Geneva I at once opened communications with Henriette. I felt satisfied, now that I had come so far, it would be well that she should join me, and that we should concert together as to our next proceedings. Our first and principal aim was to retain the child at all costs and against all comers. I had no precise knowledge as to where we should be beyond the jurisdiction of the English law, but I could not believe that the Divorce Court and its emissaries could interfere with us in a remote Italian village. He was so bold and unscrupulous that, if the law would not help him, he would try stratagem, or even force.

We should be really safe nowhere if we once came within his reach, and, the best plan to keep out of his clutches was to hide our whereabouts from him. "Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her. If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. Farther afield, if necessary to the very end of the world. That was another reason for drawing my sister to me. I had hit upon a cunning device, as I thought it, to confuse and deceive my pursuers, to throw them on to a false scent, lead them to follow a red herring, while the fox, free of the hunt, took another line." CHAPTER XVII. "There should be two Richmonds in the field! Two sets, two parties, each of them consisting of one lady, one maid, and one baby, exactly similar and indistinguishable. When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry.

Run it to the death, while the party got clear away. Fuentellato was at no great distance from Parma, on the main line of railway. If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday. My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. 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. "It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come. "We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help.

There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required--the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment. "Everything was completed by this morning, and I had settled that my sister, with her dear little Ralph, should get away, but by quite a new route, while I held my ground against the detectives. I felt sure they would soon hear of me and run me down. I hoped they would attach themselves to me, and meant to lead them a fine dance as a blind for Henriette, who, meanwhile, would have crossed to Lyons and gone south to Marseilles. The Riviera is a longer and more roundabout road to Turin, but it was open, and I hoped unimpeded. Everything was cut and dried and this evening we scored the first point in the game. Henriette went on this evening to Amberieu, the junction for Lyons.

She went straight from her hotel, alone, for of course I was obliged to keep close, or the trick would have been discovered, and it was in part.

"For I must tell you that to-day one of the detectives appeared in Geneva, not the first man, but a second, who attached himself to me at Basle. I met him plump on the Mont Blanc Bridge and turned tail, but he came after me. Then I got out and left him, making my way to the Pierre Fatio Hôtel by a circuitous route, dodging in and out among the narrow streets till I nearly lost myself. "I thought I had eluded him, and he certainly was nowhere near when I went into the hotel.

The man accosted her, taking her for me. So you see--" "If she goes round by Lyons to Marseilles, then, he would be at her heels, and the scheme breaks down in that respect?" "Not only that, I don't see that he could interfere with her, or do her much harm, and at Marseilles she might change her plans entirely. There are ever so many ways of escape from a seaport. She might take ship and embark on board the first steamer bound to the East, for India or Ceylon, the Antipodes or far Cathay." "Well, why not?" "Henriette, my sister, has given way. Her courage has failed her at this, the most critical moment, when she is within a hair's breadth of success. She is afraid to go on alone with little Ralph, and is running back to me by the first train to-morrow morning, at five or six o'clock." "Coming here?

Into the very mouths of all the others!" "Just so, and all my great scheme will be ruined. They cannot but find out, and there is no knowing what they may do. What can I do?" She looked at me in piteous appeal, the tears brimming over, her hands stretched towards me with a gesture at once pathetic and enchanting. "Say, rather, what can we do, Lady Claire," I corrected her. "This is my business, too, if you will allow me to say so, and I offer you my advice for what it is worth." "Yes, I will take it thankfully, I promise you." "The only safe course now is the boldest. You must make another exchange with your sister, Lady Blackadder--" "Call her Lady Henriette Standish. She has dropped the other entirely." "By all means. Lady Henriette then has determined to take the first train from Amberieu at--Have you a Bradshaw? You must, if possible, exchange babies, and at the same time exchange rôles.

I feel sure that you, at any rate, are not afraid of going to Marseilles with the real baby." "Hardly!" she laughed scornfully. The first and all-important is for you to secure the little Ralph and escape with him. It will have to be done under the very eyes of the enemy, for there is every reason to fear they will be going on, too. The other detective, this Tiler--I have heard them call him by that name--will have told them of her ladyship's movements, and will have summoned them, Falfani at least, to his side." "If I go on by that early train they will, no doubt, do the same. I must not be seen by them. They would fathom the trick of the two parties and the exchange." "Yet you must go on by that train. It's the only way." "Of course I might change my appearance a little, but not enough to deceive them. Cannot I go across to the station before them and hide in some compartment specially reserved for us?" "It might be managed. We might secure the whole of the seats." "Money is no object." "It will do most things, especially in Switzerland.

Before 5 A.M." "If necessary I'll sit up all night." "Well, then, that's settled.

I'll knock at your door and see you get some coffee." "Philpotts shall make it; no one in the hotel must know.

There will be the bill." "I will see to that.

I'll come back after you're ensconced, with the blinds drawn. Sick lady on the way, via Culoz to Aix-les-Bains, must not be disturbed. It won't matter my being seen on the road, all the better really if my lord is there, for I have a little plan of my own, Lady Claire--no, please don't ask me yet--but it will help matters, I think." "You are, indeed, my true and faithful friend," she said, as she put out her hand and wished me good night. 17 I descended to the ground floor, seeking the smoking-room and a little stimulant to assist me in deciding the best course of action for the following day. As I passed along the corridor I caught sight of l'Echelle, whom I considered my man, in close confabulation with Falfani in a quiet corner. They could hardly have seen me, at least l'Echelle made no reference to the fact when he came to me presently and asked if I had any orders for the morning. The truth, please, or you get nothing more from me." "He is a vaurien and fainéant, and thinks others as bad as himself; said my lord would give me five hundred francs to know what you were doing, and find out whether the lady who travelled with us to Basle last Sunday is here in this house." "I've no objection to your taking his money if you will tell me something.

Have you any idea?" "They all go on by the early train to Culoz or farther. A pressing telegram has come from their man at Amberieu." "Ah! Then you may say that I am also going by that early train. They're not going to shake me off very easily. Tell them that, and that if they want the lady they'd better look for her. I shall be forgiven, I think, under the circumstances. The free use of coin had the desired effect at the railway station.

I was met at a private door and escorted, with my precious party, by a circuitous route to where the 5.48 was shunted, waiting the moment to run back to the departure platform. There was a coupé ready for Lady Claire, and she took her place quietly, observed by no one but the obsequious official who had managed it all. As for me, I walked boldly to the hotel and hung about the hall till the Blackadder party appeared and had left for the station.

Then I asked the hotel clerk for Lady Claire's bill, paid it, with my own, and went over to the train, selecting a compartment close to the coupé. As I passed it I knocked lightly on the window pane, giving a signal previously arranged between us. I do not think that Lord Blackadder saw me then, at the start. But at Bellegarde, the Swiss frontier, where there was a wait of half an hour for the Customs examination, an irritating performance always, but carried out here with the most maddening and overbearing particularity, everyone was obliged to alight from the train, and for the moment I trembled for Lady Claire. But the appeal addressed to the French brigadier, "un galant homme," of an invalid lady, too ill to be disturbed, was effectual, especially when backed by two five-franc pieces. Lord Blackadder was on the platform with the rest, and directly he saw me he came up with the same arrogant air, curiously blended with aggrieved helplessness. I shall appeal to the authorities.

It affords protection to all who claim it against such people as you." "If you talk like that I'll give you some reason to seek the protection of the gendarmes or police," I cried, but checked myself at once. I had made up my mind how to deal with him, but the time was not yet. "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture! Lord Blackadder hurried to his compartment at the end of the train some way from mine and the coupé. As I passed the latter, seeing the road clear, I gave the signal, and, taking out my railway carriage key, quickly slipped in.

She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask. "The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously. "It is essential that we should have a few last words together. Naturally we must now be guided very much by the way things happen, but so far as possible we must prepare for them. I don't believe Lord Blackadder has any idea you are in the train, and I much doubt that he expects to find Lady Henriette at Culoz. You think she will really be there?" "I feel sure of it. It is just what she would do." "Then everything will depend on you. You must be alert and prompt, on the qui vive to seize your opportunity. It will be your business to make your way to her with the dummy the instant the train stops." "I shall have to find her." "That is the first and chief thing on your part. There are very few minutes for the whole job.

Find her, exchange burthens, send her to the train for Aix-les-Bains. It will be waiting there.

You hurry back to this coupé, lie low, and, if all goes well, you will be travelling on toward Amberieu before the enemy has the least notion what has occurred." "But one word, please. What will the enemy have been doing at Culoz?

Say they catch sight of Henriette as soon as we do?" "I hope and trust they may. I count upon that as part of my programme." "But they will catch her, stop her, deprive her of our dear little Ralph." "Wait, wait. We shall both be moving about, and the best address I can give will be in London. Telegraph to me there to my club, the Mars and Neptune, Piccadilly.

I will send instructions there to have all telegrams opened and retelegraphed to me at once. They shall be kept informed of my whereabouts daily.

There, standing under the shadow of the dwarf plane-trees, but with not the slightest suggestion of concealment, was the exact counterpart of Lady Claire, her twin sister, Lady Henriette Standish, till lately Lady Blackadder. She was staring intently at our train as it ran in, deeply anxious, no doubt, to note the arrival of her sister. "Give me a short start," I said to Lady Claire as I jumped out of the coupé. "You will see why." Even as I spoke I was satisfied that the pursuing party had recognized the object of their journey. They had all alighted and were coming up the platform in great haste to where she stood. Had any doubt remained, it would have been removed by the appearance of a man who ran out from some back part of the station and waved them forward with much gesticulation. Here I interposed, and, rushing forward with all the ardour of a football player entering a scrimmage, I took Lord Blackadder by the throat and shook him. When that audacious and intemperate English Colonel so far forgot himself as to assault my lord the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder at Culoz Station in the open light of day before us all, I greatly rejoiced; for, although horror-stricken at his ruffianly conduct, I knew that he would get his deserts at last. The French authorities would certainly not tolerate brawling in the precincts of the railway station, and justice must promptly overtake the sole offender.

The blackguard Colonel, the cause and origin of the disturbance, would, of course, be at once arrested and removed. The fracas had naturally attracted general attention. A crowd quickly gathered around us, many passengers and a number of idlers, who drop from nowhere, as it might be, all drawn to the spot by overmastering curiosity. Everybody talked at the same time, asking questions, volunteering answers, some laughing shamelessly at my lord's discomfiture, a few expressing indignation, and declaring that such a scandal should not be permitted, and the guilty parties held strictly to account. The gendarmes on duty--a couple of them are always at hand in a French railway station--soon appeared, and, taking in the situation at the first glance, imposed silence peremptorily. "Let some one, one person only, speak and explain." The brigadier, or sergeant, addressed himself to me, no doubt seeing that I had assumed a prominent place in the forefront, and seemed a person of importance. "Monsieur here," I said, pointing to the Colonel, who, in spite of all we could do, still held my lord tight, "was the aggressor, as you can see for yourselves. Who, then, is the other?" "An abominable vaurien," I answered with great heat. "A rank villain; one who outrages all decency, breaks every law, respects no rank--" "Bus, bus," cried the Colonel, in some language of his own, as he put me aside so roughly that I still feel the pain in my shoulder. I am, as you will perceive, an officer of the English army, and I appeal to you as a comrade, for I see by your decorations, no doubt richly deserved, that you are an ancien militaire.

"Such as the wolf and the tiger and the snake expect from their victim." It made me sick to hear him currying favour with the gendarme, and still worse that it was affecting the old trooper, who looked on all as pekins, mere civilians, far inferior to military men. "Protection you shall have, mon Colonel, if you have a right to it, bien entendu," said the sergeant, civilly but cautiously. "I ask it because these people have made a dead set at me. They have tried to hustle me and, I fear, to rob me, and I have been obliged to act in my own defence." Before I could protest against this shameless misrepresentation of the fact, my lord interposed. He was now free, and, gradually recovering, was burning to avenge the insults put upon him.

His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel. "Take us before the station-master, or send for the Commissary from the town. I haven't the slightest objection." "Yes, yes, the Commissaire de police, the judge, the peace officer. Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. "With all my heart," cried the Colonel.

It is my right; let us all go before the Commissary." "There is no Commissary here in Culoz. I'm quite ready," assented the Colonel, with an alacrity I did not understand. "I desire most strongly to haul this hectoring bully before the law, and let his flagrant misconduct be dealt with in a most exemplary fashion." I caught a curious shadow flitting across my comrade Tiler's face at this speech. He," jerking his finger toward the Colonel, "wants us to waste as much time as possible, while my lady slips through our fingers and gets farther and farther on her road." "Where is she?" "Ah, where? No longer here, anyway." The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station. It had gone on, quite unobserved by any of us during the fracas, and it flashed upon me at once that the incident had been planned for this very purpose of occupying our attention while she stole off. My lady was travelling the other way--this way. Still there was a reason, a good one.

She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?" "She only came because I'd tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip," said Tiler. She's not the sort to hide herself easily, with all her belongings, the nurse and the baby and all the rest. But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix. I mean to push this through to the bitter end. 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.

It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side.

"A prisoner, am I?" cried the Colonel, gaily. When is it to be?" "Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22," Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way.

Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him.

The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him.

I was a little doubtful of that slippery gentleman; although I had bought him, as I thought, the night before, I never felt sure of him. He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer. Was the money thrown away, and his intention now to go back on his bargain? Meanwhile Tiler and I thought it our pressing duty to utilize these few moments in seeking news of our lady and her party. Oh, yes, many people, officials, and hangers-on about the station had seen her. Too much seen indeed, for the stories told were confusing and conflicting. One facteur assured us he had helped her into the train going Amberieu way, but I thought his description very vague, although Tiler swallowed the statement quite greedily. Another man told me quite a different story; he had seen her, and had not the slightest doubt of it, in the down train, that for Aix-les-Bains, the express via Chambery, Modane, and the Mont Cenis tunnel for Italy. This was the true version, I felt sure. Why, then, Tiler asked, had she gone to Amberieu, running back as she had done with him at her heels?

Why else had she returned to Culoz by the early train directly she thought she had eluded Tiler? The reasoning was correct, but Ludovic was always a desperately obstinate creature, jealous and conceited, tenacious of his opinions, and holding them far superior to those who were cleverer and more intelligent than himself. Then we heard the whistle of the approaching train, and we all collected on the platform. L'Echelle, as he came from the direction of the buvette, was a little in the rear of the Colonel and the gendarmes. He was grinning all over it and pointing toward the Colonel with his finger, derisively. I was not inclined to trust him very greatly, but he evidently wished us to believe that he thought very little of the Colonel, and that we might count upon his support against him. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together.

My lord very liberally provided first-class tickets for the whole of the party, but the Colonel took his own and paid for the gendarmes. He refused to travel in the same carriage with the noble Earl, saying openly and impudently that he preferred the society of honest old soldiers to such a crew as ours. L'Echelle, still sitting on the hedge, as I fancied, got in with the Colonel and his escort. On reaching Aix-les-Bains, we found the omnibus that did the service de la ville, but the Colonel refused to enter it, and declared he would walk; he cared nothing for the degradation of appearing in the public streets as a prisoner marching between a couple of gendarmes. He gloried in it, he said; his desire was clearly to turn the whole thing into ridicule, and the passers-by laughed aloud at this well-dressed gentleman, as he strutted along with his hat cocked, one hand on his hip, the other placed familiarly on the sergeant's arm. He met some friends, too,--one was a person rather like himself, with the same swaggering high-handed air, who accosted him as we were passing the corner of the square just by the Hôtel d'Aix. Basil my boy!" cried the stranger.

Took up by the police? I'm going before the beak and may want a witness as to character." "Right oh! There are some more of us here from the old shop--Jack Tyrrell, Bobus Smith--all Mars and Neptune men. They'll speak for a pal at a pinch. Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. "I've got a particular appointment there with Monsieur le Commissaire, and the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder." "Oh! By-by, you'll see me again, and all the chaps I can pick up at the Cercle and the hotels near." Then our procession passed on, the Colonel and gendarmes leading, Tiler and I with l'Echelle close behind. He had driven on ahead in a fiacre and was standing alone at the entrance to the police office, which is situated on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Ville, a pretty old-fashioned building of gray stone just facing the Etablissement Thermale, the home of the far-famed baths from which Aix-les-Bains takes its name. "In here?" asked my lord; and with a brief wave of his hand he would have passed in first, but the officers of the law put him rather rudely aside and claimed precedence for their prisoner. le Commissaire, who was there, seated at a table opposite his greffier, rose and bowed stiffly, inquiring our business, my lord pushed forward into the front and began very warmly, in passable French: "I am an aggrieved person seeking justice on a wrong-doer.

No one need claim it in the tone you have assumed." The Commissary was a solemn person, full of the stiff formality exhibited by members of the French magistracy, the juniors especially.

He was dressed in discreet black, his clean-shaven, imperturbable face showed over a stiff collar, and he wore the conventional white tie of the French official. It is the duty of the officers of the law now present, and prepared, I presume, to make their report. I have been shamefully ill-used by that man there." He shook his finger at the Colonel.

I am entitled to your best consideration." "Every individual, the poorest, meanest, is entitled to that in republican France. I must first hear the story from my own people. I shall complain to your superiors--I shall bring the matter before the British ambassador. I must ask you to behave yourself, to respect the convenances, or I shall be compelled to show you the door." "I will not be put down in this way, I will speak; I--I--" "Silence, monsieur. I call upon you, explicitly, to moderate your tone and pay proper deference to my authority." With this the commissary pulled out a drawer, extracted a tricolour sash and slowly buckled it round his waist, then once more turned interrogatively to the sergeant: "It is nothing very serious, M. le Commissaire," said the treacherous gendarme. Fi donc! Why the commonest voyous, the rôdeurs of the barrière, could not do worse. Men of honour settle their disputes differently; they do not come to the police correctionnelle." "Pray do not think it is my desire," broke in the Colonel, with his customary fierceness. Duels are in contravention of the Code.

le Commissaire, and it cannot be tolerated." "I am not responsible to you, sir, and will account for my action à qui de droit, to those who have the right to question me. The case is dismissed. Gendarmes, release your prisoner, and let everyone withdraw." We all trooped out into the square, where a number of persons had assembled, evidently the Colonel's friends, for they greeted him uproariously. "The prisoner has left the court without a stain upon his character," the Colonel shouted in answer to their noisy inquiries. Why did they run you in?" they still asked. He didn't mean it really;" and I could see that the Earl could hardly contain himself in his rage. Then, suddenly muttering something about "bounders" and "cads," he forced his way through and hurried off, shouting his parting instructions to us to join him as soon as possible at the Hôtel Hautecombe on the hill. Nothing you have done has been of the very slightest use; on the contrary, through your beastly mismanagement I have been dragged into this degrading position, held up to ridicule and contempt before all the world. And with it all, the whole thing has failed.

The situation is not hopeless, believe me. You may rely on us to regain touch with the fugitives without delay. I have a clue, and with your lordship's permission will follow it at once." I saw clearly that he was set upon the absurd notion he had conceived that the lady had gone westward, and I felt it my duty to warn the Earl not to be misled by Tiler. "There is nothing in his clue, my lord.

"I will decide what it is worth." Then Tiler propounded his theory. "It might be good enough," I interjected, "if I did not know the exact contrary. The lady with her party was seen going in exactly the opposite direction. His lordship looked from one to the other, plainly perplexed and with increasing anger. "By the Lord Harry, it's pleasant to be served by a couple of such useless creatures who differ so entirely in their views that they cannot agree upon a common plan of action. How can I decide as to the best course if you give me no help?" "Perhaps your lordship will allow me to make a suggestion?" I said gravely, and I flatter myself with some dignity, for I wished to show I was not pleased with the way he treated us. "Whether the lady has gone north or south, east or west, may be uncertain; and although I am satisfied in my own mind as to the direction she took, I am willing to await further developments before embarking on any further chase. To my mind the best clue, the real, the only clue, lies here, in our very hands. If we have only a little patience, this Colonel Annesley will act as a sign-post." "You think that some communication will reach him from the fugitives?" "Most decidedly I do.

I firmly believe that the lady relies upon him greatly, and will in all probability call him to her, or if not that she will wish to let him know how she has got on." For the first time in this unpleasant interview his lordship looked at me approvingly. "It ought not to be difficult, seeing that he was here half an hour ago, and we can hunt up l'Echelle, who will surely know, and who I have reason to hope is on our side." "Do it one way or another. I look to you for that, and let me know the result without loss of time. Then we will confer again and arrange further. Leave me now." I accepted my dismissal and moved towards the door, but Tiler hung behind, and I heard him say timidly: "May I crave your lordship's pardon--and I trust you rely on my entire devotion to your lordship's service--but there is one thing I most earnestly desire to do." "Go on." "And that is to follow my own clue, at least for a time. It is the right one I firmly believe, and I am satisfied it would be wrong, criminal even to neglect it. That should suffice to settle the point. If, as I hope and believe, I strike the scent, assuredly you will not regret it." "There's something in what you say. "I am willing to wait a day or two until you return or report, or unless something more definite turns up in the other direction. I suppose he can be spared, Falfani?" "He will be no manner of use here, it will be better to let him go; let him run after his red herring, he'll precious soon find out his mistake." "We shall see," said Tiler, elated and cocksure, and I freely confess we did see that he was not quite the fool I thought him.

On leaving his lordship I descended to the grand entrance to the hotel with the intention of beating up the Colonel's quarters in Aix.

Although the hotels were certain to be crowded at this, the height of the season, the town is not really large, the visitors' lists are well posted with new arrivals, and there are one or two public places where people always turn up at some time or other in the day. The cercle or casino and its succursale the Villa des Fleurs, with their many spacious rooms, reading-room, concert-room, baccarat-room, their restaurants, their beautiful gardens, are thronged at all hours of the day with the smart folk of all nationalities. I stood on the top of the steps waiting for the private omnibus that plies between the hotel and the town below, when I heard my name called from behind, and turning, was confronted by Jules l'Echelle. "What brings you up here?" "The Colonel, my master--for I have taken service with him, you must know--sent me here to inquire whether we could have rooms." "Why does he choose this hotel of all others?" I asked in a dissatisfied tone, although in my secret heart I was overjoyed. "It's the best, isn't it? Haven't you come here?" "My Lord Blackadder has, but that's another pair of shoes.

There's some difference between him and a beggarly half-pay Colonel who will very likely have to black the boots to work out his bill. They know how to charge here." "The Colonel, I take it, can pay his way as well as most people.

He said something about going through the course, taking the baths, and among the rest asked me to find out the best doctor." "That'll mean a lengthened stay; three weeks at least." "Well, why shouldn't he? He's his own master." "Then he's finished with that foolish business about the lady; had enough of it, I suppose; burnt his fingers and done no earthly good." "How do I know? It will be easy to say there are no rooms. He looks both sides of his money, and pays no fancy prices for a pig in a poke." "Then I'll take my pigs to another market. Suppose I let the Colonel know what you've been at, trying to tamper with me. This hotel wouldn't be big enough to hold him and your patron together." "Well,"--I hesitated, not willing to appear too anxious,--"let's say, just for argument's sake, that you got what you ask, or something near it. I'm not in a position to promise it, no, not the half of it.

Think first of my lord, put his interests before the Colonel's; tell us what the Colonel's doing, his game from day to day, read his letters, and tell us their contents; spy on his actions, watch him at every turn, his comings and his goings; the houses he calls at, the people he meets, every move he makes or has in view?" "If I promise to do all that will you promise not to give me away? You'll keep your own counsel and protect me from the Colonel? If he got a whisper I was selling him I'd lose my place and he'd half kill me into the bargain." "Not a soul shall know but my lord and myself. I must consult him, or you won't get the money." "But there is that other chap, the one who joined us at Culoz, and who was with you at the Commissariat, a new face to me. One of your own party, wasn't he?" "To be sure, Tiler; he's on the job, too, came out when I did from London. 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. She was seen in the express for Modane, making for the Mont Cenis tunnel. Of course that's the true direction. She was aiming for Italy from the first; the other sister, the divorced lady, is there; we've always known that. I'd stick to my opinion against fifty fools like Tiler." "It's a bargain, then; I can count upon the cash?

I'd like to begin at once; there's something I would tell you here, and now, that would interest you very much. I won't keep you five minutes." My lord gave his consent a little grudgingly, but was presently persuaded that it was to his own advantage to have a spy in the heart of the enemy's camp.

That was soon seen when l'Echelle had pocketed his notes and gave us the news in exchange. "Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly. He'll be off then faster than that," he snapped his fingers, "and you won't find it easy to catch him." "That's good. When I take an employer's pay I serve him faithfully and to the best of my power," he said with an engaging frankness that won me completely. Why should he be more faithful to my lord than to the Colonel? The rest of the first day at Aix passed without any important incident. I was a trifle surprised that the Colonel did not put in an appearance; but it was explained by l'Echelle, whom I met by appointment later in the day. I understood from him that the Colonel had decided to remain down in the town, where he had many friends, and where he was more in the thick of the fun. For Aix-les-Bains, as every one knows, is a lively little place in the season, and the heart and centre of it all is the Casino.

The Colonel had established himself in a hotel almost next door, and ran up against me continually that afternoon and evening, as I wandered about now under the trees listening to the band, now at the baccarat table, where I occasionally staked a few jetons of the smaller values.

If any one was with him, as was generally the case--smart ladies and men of his own stamp, with all of whom he seemed on very familiar terms--he invariably drew their attention to me, and they, too, laughed aloud after a prolonged stare. Once he had the effrontery to accost me as I stood facing the green board on which the telegrams are exposed. Ah, of course, my old friend Falfani, the private detective who appeared in the Blackadder case. I don't know you, I don't wish to know you," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. But several of his rowdy friends closed around me and held me there, compelled to listen to his gibes as he rattled on.

None the worse for that little contretemps this morning. If there is anything I can do for his lordship, any information I can give him, he knows, I trust, that he can command me. Does he propose to make a lengthened stay here?" "His lordship--" I tried vainly to interrupt him. "Let me urge him most strongly to go through the course. The warm baths are truly delightful and most efficacious in calming the temper and restoring the nerve-power. He should take the Aix treatment, he should indeed. I am the only person who can be of any use to you. He can choose his own agents." "And in his own sneaking, underhand way," the Colonel answered quickly, and with such a meaning look that I was half-afraid he suspected that we were tampering with his man. "But two can play at that game, as you may find some day." When I met l'Echelle that same evening as arranged, at the Café Amadeo in the Place Carnot, I questioned him closely as to whether his master had any suspicion of him, but he answered me stoutly it was quite impossible. By the way, have you heard anything of your other man?" "Why should I tell you?" "Oh, don't trouble; only if I could pass him on a bit of news either way it might lead him to show his hand.

If Tiler is getting 'hot'--you know the old game--he might like to go after him. If Tiler is thrown out the Colonel will want to give help in the other direction." "That's sound sense, I admit. Of all the born idiots!" "Poor devil! The more I saw of l'Echelle the more I liked him. Nothing fresh occurred that night or the next day. I was rather struck by a change in his demeanour. Half a dozen times to-day he's asked me to inquire if there's a telegram for him, and he haunts the hall porter's box continually in the hope of getting one. Have you heard any more from Tiler?" "Yes, another mad telegram, this time from Marseilles. The folly of it!" "What does my lord say?" "Plenty, and it's not pleasant to bear. He wants to go racing after Tiler now, and if he does he'll give away the whole show.

But cheer up, copain, things may mend." They did, as often happens when they seem to be at their worst. I have always been an early riser, and was specially so at Aix, now when the heat was intense, and the pleasantest hours of the day were before the sun had risen high. I was putting the finishing touches to my toilette about 7 A.M. There is not a moment to lose.

I've a fiacre at the door below." He gave the établissement as the address, and we were soon tearing down the hill. As we drove along l'Echelle told me the news. He simply jumped for joy when he read it." "But what was the message? But I mean to see it pretty soon, and so shall you." "You mean to abstract it somehow--pick his pocket, or what?" "Simplest thing in the world.

You see he's gone to have his bath, he likes to be early, and he's undergoing the douche at this very moment, which means naturally that he's taken off his clothes, and they are waiting in the dressing-room for me to take home. I shall have a good quarter of an hour and more to spare before they carry him back to the hotel in his blankets and get him to bed." "Ha!" I said, "that's a brilliant idea. How do you mean to work it out?" "Take the telegram out of his waistcoat pocket, read it, or bring it to you." "Bring it; that will be best," I interrupted, feeling a tinge of suspicion. "But I must put it straight back," continued l'Echelle, "for he is sure to ask for it directly he returns to the hotel." Within a few minutes he had gone in and out again, carrying now one of the black linen bags used by valets de chambres to carry their masters' clothes in.

He winked at me as he passed, and we walked together to a shady, retired spot in the little square where the cab-stand is, and sat in the newspaper kiosk on a couple of straw-bottomed chairs of the Central café. "Read that," he said triumphantly, as he handed me the familiar scrap of blue paper.

My lord will be very grateful to you," and I handed him back the telegram, having first copied it word for word in my note-book. "It means, I suppose," suggested l'Echelle, "that you will make for Milan, too?" "No fear--by the first train. You'll be clever if you get the start of us, for I presume you will be moving." "I haven't the smallest doubt of that; we shall be quite a merry party. I had no reason to complain of the course of events culminating in the affair at Culoz. I defended to myself the assault upon Lord Blackadder as in a measure provoked and justifiable under the circumstances, although I was really sorry for him and at the poor figure he cut before the police magistrate and gendarmes. But I could not forget the part he had played throughout, nor was I at all disposed to turn aside from my set purpose to help the ladies in their distress. Every man of proper feeling would be moved thereto, and I knew in my secret heart that very tender motives impelled me to the unstinting championship of Lady Claire. I was still without definite news of what had happened between the two sisters while I was covering their movements at Culoz. I could not know for certain whether or not the exchange had actually been effected, and I did not dare inquire about the station, for it might betray facts and endanger results.

Lady Claire would almost certainly telegraph to me via London at the very earliest opportunity, and I was careful to wire from Culoz to the hall porter of my club, begging him to send on everything without a moment's delay. Then, while still in the dark, I set myself like a prudent general to discover what the enemy was doing. He was here in Aix in the persons of Lord Blackadder and his two devoted henchmen, Falfani and Tiler. I had heard the appointment he had given them at the Hôtel Hautecombe, and I cast about me to consider how I might gain some inkling of their intentions.

Luckily I had desired l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, to stick to me on leaving the police office, and I put it to him whether or not he was willing to enter my service. It is likely that I may wander about the Continent for some time, and it may suit you to come with me." He seemed pleased at the idea, and we quickly agreed as to terms. Find out what the other side is at, and contrive somehow to become acquainted with Lord Blackadder's plans." "How far may I go?" he asked me plump.

"They are pretty sure to try and win me over, they've done so already. Shall I accept their bid? It would be the easiest way to know all you want." "It's devilish underhand," I protested. "You'll be paying them back in their own coin," he returned. "A corsaire fieffé corsaire et demi. It will be to my advantage, and you won't lose." "Upon my soul, I don't quite like it." I still hung back, but his arguments seemed so plausible that they overcame my scruples, and I was not sorry for it in the long run. [The reader has already been told how Falfani craftily approached l'Echelle, and found him, as he thought, an easy prey. We know how the communication was kept up between the two camps, how Falfani was fooled into believing that he kept close watch over Colonel Annesley through l'Echelle, how the latter told his real master the true news of the progress made by Tiler. When there could be little doubt that the chase was growing warm and had gone as far as Lyons, the Colonel felt that there was danger and that he must take more active steps to divert the pursuit and mislead the pursuers. The Colonel shall continue in his own words.] I was much disturbed when I learnt that Tiler had wired from Lyons.

The next message would disclose the whereabouts of the Lady Claire, at that time the only lady, as they thought, in the case, and the lady with the real child. It would soon be impossible for me to make use of the second with the sham child to draw the pursuers after her. In this it must be understood that, although I had no certainty of it, I took it for granted that the little Lord Aspdale was with his aunt and not with his mother, who, as I sincerely believed, had already reached Fuentellato. It was essential now to persuade my Lord Blackadder and his people that this was the case, and induce them to embark upon a hasty expedition into Italy. I therefore concocted a cunning plan with l'Echelle for leading them astray.

It was easy enough to arrange for the despatch of a telegram from Milan to me at Aix, a despatch to be handed in at the former place by a friend of l'Echelle's, but purporting to come from Lady Claire. My man had any number of acquaintances in the railway service, one or more passed daily through Aix with the express trains going east or west; and with the payment of a substantial douceur the trick was done. The spurious message reached me in Aix early on the third morning, and the second act in the fraud was that l'Echelle should allow Falfani to see the telegram.

He carried out the deception with consummate skill, pretending to pick my pocket of the telegram, which he then put under Falfani's eyes. The third act was to be my immediate exit from Aix. I made no secret of this, very much the reverse. Notice was given at the hotel bureau to prepare my bill, and insert my name on the list of departures by the afternoon express, the 1.41 P.M. And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, came a complete change in the situation. Not long after I had consumed my morning café au lait and rolls, the conventional petit déjeuner of French custom, a letter was brought to my bedside, where, again according to rule, I was resting after my bath.

I expected no letters, no one except the porter of my London club knew my present address, and the interval was too short since my telegram to him to allow of letters reaching me in the ordinary course of the post. I turned over the strange missive, the address in a lady's hand quite unknown to me, examining it closely, as one does when mystified, guessing vainly at a solution instead of settling it by instantly breaking the seal.

When at last I opened it my eye went first to the signature. To my utter amazement I read the name, "Henriette Standish." It was dated from the Hôtel de Modena, Aix-les-Bains, a small private hotel quite in the suburbs in the direction of the Grand Port, and it ran as follows: "DEAR COLONEL ANNESLEY:--I have only just seen in the Gazette des Etrangers that you are staying in Aix.

I thought of remaining here a few days longer, but I have also read Lord Blackadder's name in the list. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, your extreme kindness to Claire emboldens me to make this appeal to you. I shall be at home all the morning. Indeed, I have hardly left the house yet, and certainly shall not do so now that I know he is here. Was there ever such a broken reed of a woman? Already she had spoilt her sister's nice combinations by turning back from Amberieu when the road to safety with her darling child lay open to her.

Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. How could I hope to lure her pursuers away to a distance when she was here actually on the spot, and might be run into at any moment? For the present all my movements were in abeyance. I had reason to fear--how much reason I did not even then realize--they would be interfered with, and that a terrible collapse threatened us.

I dressed hurriedly and walked down to the Hôtel Modena, where I was instantly received.

Blair" had given orders that I should be admitted the moment I appeared. I had had one glimpse of this tall, graceful creature, who so exactly reproduced the beautiful traits of her twin sister that she might indeed at a distance be taken for her double. There was the same proud carriage of her head, the same lithe figure, even her musical voice when she greeted me with shy cordiality might have been the voice of Lady Claire. But the moment I looked into her face I saw a very distinct difference, not in outward feature, but in the inward character that is revealed by the eyes, the lines of the mouth, the shape of the lower jaw.

In Lady Claire the first were steady and spoke of high courage, of firm, fixed purpose; the mouth, as perfectly curved as Cupid's bow, was resolute and determined, the well-shaped, rounded chin was held erect, and might easily become defiant, even aggressive. Lady Henriette was evidently cast in another mould. Her eyes, of the same violet blue, were pretty, pleading, soft in expression, but often downcast and deprecating; the mouth and chin were weak and irresolute. It was the same lovely face as Lady Claire's, and to some might seem the sweeter, indicating the tender, clinging, yielding nature that commonly appeals to the stronger sex; but to me she lost in every respect by comparison with her more energetic, self-reliant sister. I heard the explanation, such as it was, without the smallest surprise; it was very much what I expected now when I was permitted to know and appreciate her better. "But the moment I found I had to part with my child my courage broke down. I am not brave, you know, like my dearest Claire, or strong-minded, and I quite collapsed." "But I hope and trust you have made the exchange. Lady Claire has little Lord Aspdale and has left you the dummy?

Tell me, I beg." "Oh, yes, yes, we made the exchange," she replied, in such a faltering, undecided voice that I doubted, and yet could not bring myself to believe that she was not telling the truth. It would be a very serious matter if--if--" "The contrary was the case," I wanted to say, yet how could I? "But what will happen now?" she said, her voice faltering, her eyes filling, and seemingly on the very verge of hysterics. "What if Blackadder should find that I am here, and--and--" "He can do nothing to you unless he has a right to act, unless," I answered unhesitatingly and a little cruelly perhaps, regardless of the scared look in her face, "you have good reason to dread his interference. Where is little Lord Aspdale?" "In there!" she pointed to an inner room, and burst into uncontrollable tears. To say that I was aghast at the discovery of Lady Blackadder, or, as she preferred to call herself, Lady Henriette Standish, in Aix, and with the precious child, would but imperfectly express my feelings. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action. I sat there helplessly staring at the poor creature, so full of grief and remorse that I was quite unable to rise to the occasion. The most essential thing was to get Lord Blackadder away from Aix.

So long as he remained he was an ever present danger; our game was up directly he awoke to the true state of affairs. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. Clearly I must go, and that not alone, but take them with me, following me under the positive impression that I was leading them straight to their goal. Not one hint, not the slightest suspicion must be permitted to reach them that their quarry was here, just under their feet.

When I had gone on with the others at my heels, the coast would be clear for Lady Henriette, and she must double back once more and go into safe hiding somewhere, while the hunt overshot its quarry and rolled on. But the idea of parting from me now that she had laid hold of me was so repugnant to her that she yielded once more to her nerves. I'll do what you like, disguise myself, go third class, anything; but for goodness' sake don't desert me, or I don't know what will happen." "There is simply no help for it, Lady Henriette. It is imperative that you should remain here at least for a day or two while the others clear out of your way. It would be quite fatal if they saw you or you came across them." "Oh, you're too cruel, it is perfectly inhuman. I think I am the most wretched and ill-used woman alive." These lamentations and indirect reproaches rather hardened my heart. The woman was so unreasonable, so little mindful of what was being done for her, that I lost my patience, and said very stiffly: "Lady Henriette, let us quite understand one another. I tell you candidly there is only one way to save it." "My darling Aspdale!

You ought never to have kept it--it was madness to come here and run straight into the jaws of danger." "How was I to know?" she retorted, now quite angrily. You are most unkind." "Dear, dear," I said fretfully, "this is all beside the question. What is most urgent is to shield and save you now when the peril is most pressing." "And yet you propose to leave me to fight it out alone? I have explained the necessity. Surely you must see that it would be madness, quite fatal for us, to be seen together, or for you to be seen at all.

I must still hoodwink them by going off this afternoon." "And leave me without protection, with all I have at stake? If only Claire was here." "It wouldn't mend matters much, except that Lady Claire would side with me." "Oh, yes, you say that, you believe she thinks so much of you and your opinion that she would agree to anything you suggest." "Mine is the safest and the only course," I replied, I am afraid with some heat. "Really, Lady Henriette, you will drive me to wash my hands of the whole business. Unless you are disposed to change your views, I shall stick to mine; and I do not see the use of prolonging this interview. I will bid you good day." I moved towards the door, still keeping an eye on her, believing her to be quite set in her fatuous refusal to hear reason.

She still held herself erect and defiant, and there seemed to be small hope of doing anything with her. Then suddenly I saw symptoms of giving way. Signals of distress were hung out in her quivering lip and the nervous twitching of her hands. The situation was awkward, embarrassing.

At another time I might have been puzzled how to deal with it, but this was a moment of supreme emergency. A great crisis was imminent, the ruin of our scheme and the downfall of our hopes were certainly at hand if I gave way to her. Everything depended upon my action, and I knew that the only chance of safety lay in the execution of my design. I counted, at any rate, and with some assurance, on the approval of Lady Claire if the details of this painful scene should ever come to her ears.

Time was too precious to be wasted in any attempts to win her back to common sense, and without waiting for permission I crossed the room, rang the bell, and begged the waiter to summon the lady's maid. I will not go with you; certainly not in the dark. Is it likely that I should trust myself alone with an almost complete stranger--a man who has shown me so little consideration, who has been so unkind, so cruel, and who now wants to carry me off goodness knows where, because he is so obstinately determined that his is the right way to proceed." "Lady Henriette," I said civilly but very coldly, and putting the drag on myself, for I confess she was trying me very hard, "let there be no misunderstanding between us. Either you consent to my proposals absolutely and unhesitatingly, or I shall withdraw altogether from your service. 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. "I know I'm right," I urged, a little feebly perhaps, for I was nearly worn out by her prejudice and utterly illogical refusal to see how the land lay.

Have everything packed, please, and the bill paid. I returned to my hotel vexed and irritated beyond measure by my passage at arms with Lady Henriette Standish, and hating the prospect of any further dealings with her. Matters would have been very different had her strong-minded sister been on the spot to use her influence and help us with her counsel.

What a contrast between the two women! I was more and more drawn to the one, and more and more heartily despised the other. With my mind full of the beautiful creature who had made me a willing captive to her charms, her gracious presence was recalled to me by a message from under her own hand. As I passed the threshold of my hotel, the hall porter gave me a telegram from Lady Claire. It had come via London, but the office of origin was Marseilles.

"One of them turned up this morning--have no fear--exchange not effected--shall remain here for the present--Hotel Terminus.

She told me just exactly all that it was essential to know: of the pursuit, of the absence of pressing danger, of the abortive attempt to exchange babies, and where she was to be found. It was now barely 10 A.M., and the time intervening before the departure of the eastward bound express (three and a half hours) was none too much to carry out my intentions as to Lady Henriette.

I first of all ordered a covered landau to be harnessed as speedily as possible, and to be sent to await me in a side street near the Hôtel Modena; then I summoned l'Echelle and bade him make all ready for the journey. I also told him that I should be busily engaged that forenoon; but that as I might be obliged to run it very close for the train, he was to make all preparations, to take the tickets, and await me on the platform. I had debated anxiously with myself how far I should betray the presence of Lady Henriette in Aix to l'Echelle, and decided that, although I had no particular reason to doubt him, I felt that it would be more prudent to keep the fact to myself. For the same reason I kept him busily engaged in my bedroom packing, lest he should spy upon my movements. There was still the fear that Falfani might be on the watch, but I had been assured by l'Echelle that the Blackadder party were so satisfied by the news he gave them that they left the business of shadowing almost entirely to him.

I was pretty sure that I reached the Hôtel Modena unobserved. I came upon the carriage by the way, and as I passed briefly desired the driver to follow me to the Hôtel Modena. Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room. She was there, dressed in hat and jacket, and so far disposed to comply with my wishes. Her maid, Victorine, was with her, the baby on her knee.

Her baggage, happily light enough, was there, packed and all ready for a start. But if I thought that Lady Henriette meant to yield without another skirmish I was sadly mistaken. "The carriage is at the door," I said as pleasantly as possible. "Very much the reverse indeed. The more I think over it the more outrageous and preposterous your behaviour seems. I must have a plain categorical answer or I will not move an inch." Her dogged, determined air was belied by her dress and the obvious preparations already made for departure.

Her present attitude I set down to the vacillation of her character. She might make up her mind one moment and one way, and yet be quite prepared to change it the next. "You are fully entitled to know where you are going, and I have not the smallest desire to keep it from you," I replied, still speaking in a smooth, courteous voice. "I propose that you should take up your residence for a time--the very shortest time possible--at Le Bourget, a small place at the head of the lake. You may know it; there is a snug little hotel in the village, the Dent du Chat. I dislike the whole idea exceedingly. Why should I be buried alive in such an out-of-the-way spot?" "It will be no worse than Fuentellato, a place you chose for yourself." "I have a house of my own there--my own servants. It is perfectly safe." "Not now, believe me, they will come upon you there; trace you easily and quickly, and they are capable of any violence to capture and deprive you of your treasure." I pointed to the child on the maid's knee.

"I shall be more at their mercy here in Aix." "Be guided by me. All will be well if you will only keep out of the way now for a few hours, perhaps at most a couple of days. If they do not find you at once they will never find you. Only let me have a short start ahead and I'll lead them a pretty dance, and take them further and further away. You may rely on it, and I assure you they will never be able to find you or do you any harm." "I wish I could believe you," she said. "If I could only believe in you and trust you as Claire does," she murmured pathetically, still tortured by doubt.

If she were only here, or I knew where to find her!" I was on the point of imparting my last news, but I checked myself. Lady Henriette had seen her last, and must be well aware of the direction she was taking to Lyons and Marseilles. She would be mad to join her, and it was my most earnest wish that, for the present at least, Lady Henriette should keep quiet in the background with her charge. We had words--" "Ah!" I had heard enough to know that there had been a strong difference of opinion, a sharp quarrel probably, and that Lady Claire had not spared her sister at this fresh exhibition of ridiculous weakness.

"May I ask, please, whether you were to believe in me or not?" I resumed, taking up the discussion where I had left it. I will go, but under protest." She led the way herself and entered the carriage first, motioning to Victorine to hand her the baby and take her seat inside.

But I also got in without invitation, only explaining that it might not be wise to show myself on the box. The coachman had his orders, and he drove off briskly along the Marlioz road till he reached the turning towards the head of the lake. In less than an hour we pulled up before the Hôtel Dent du Chat, a simple, unpretending hostelry, to which I had telegraphed in advance, stating my needs. We were received with profuse civility, the best of everything placed at our disposal, a best at which Lady Henriette, as I might have expected, turned up her nose, sniffing and scornful. She uttered no complaint, she would not address a word to me; her air was one of lofty, contemptuous reserve; she intimated plainly that we were "dead cuts." Only at the last, just as I was driving away and lifted my hat in farewell, she yielded to an impulse of despair, and seized my arm in almost frenzied appeal. I can never face this place alone." Her last appeal touched me to the quick. Once more I sought to explain the dire necessity for this act that seemed so barbarous, but she was deaf to all my arguments, and still clung to me nervously as I climbed into the carriage. When at length I got away, and I persisted in leaving, being so fully satisfied it was for the best, her piteous, reproachful accents still rung in my ears, and I shall count that return drive to Aix as the most miserable hour I have passed in my life.

The whole episode had occupied much time, and it was already past one when I reëntered the town. I drove straight to the railway station, and was met outside it by the faithful l'Echelle. They have gone half an hour ago, and not by the eastern but the western express." "You saw them?" "I spoke to them.

Falfani himself told me of the change in their plans. The latest news from their man in the south was so positive, and has so convinced my lord, that he is hastening full speed to join Tiler, and they are only too delighted to leave you behind." I laughed aloud with intense satisfaction. You have no reason to fear them?" "Not the least in the world, they are playing into my hands. I shall be glad to go on with the baths." But I was thinking really of that poor creature I had abandoned at Le Bourget, and overjoyed to think that I might now meet her wishes, and perchance regain something of her good-will. Once more I took the road to Le Bourget, driving over by the first fiacre I could pick up on the stand, a much slower journey than the first, and it was nearly 3 P.M. when I reached the little hotel.

"Madame went very soon after monsieur," said the patronne, in high dudgeon.

She called me up and said I was to bring her the Indicateur. Then she must have a carriage as soon as it could be prepared to drive her to Culoz, fifteen miles away, meaning to take the train from there." "Not to Aix?" "Assuredly not, for when I suggested that she could more easily find the train there she told me to hold my tongue, that she knew very well what she was about, and wanted no observations from me." To Culoz? She was bound then to follow her sister, I felt sure of it; and I was aghast, foreshadowing the new dangers opening before her. It was as much as I could do to restrain myself when I saw my gallant knight, the Colonel, rush at that despicable creature, Lord Blackadder, and shake him. I wanted to put my head out of the window and cry, "Well done!" But I saw the folly of it, much as I was delighted, and checked any demonstration of joy. I had no time to spare for anything outside our settled plan, so I jumped out on to the platform at once, and closely followed by Philpotts joined Henriette, and cried: "Quick, quick, dear, the train goes on in less than ten minutes. Give me the child, we must exchange again." "What do you mean?" she gasped, and looked at me dazed and bewildered. Why?" "Because Blackadder is over there, and in another minute or two the child will be taken forcibly from you.

I do not understand, not in the least. I haven't heard, I do not know." "Go on to Fuentellato with the dummy. It is the easiest thing in the world. They will follow you, Colonel Annesley will see to that, while I carry our darling to some secure hiding-place and keep out of sight until we can meet. There, do not, for heaven's sake, delay. Give me the child." "I can't, I can't. To think that now at the eleventh hour you should fail me and break down.

Let me take little Ralph;" and I put out my arms for the child, which Victorine held. But the mother stood between us, seized the baby convulsively, and with a gesture of repulsion cried: "Go away, go away, you shall not have him.

I don't care what happens, I will keep him against all the world." I pleaded and stormed in turn, I tried everything but force, all without avail. My foolish sister seemed to have taken leave of her senses; she thought nothing of the nearly certain collapse of our schemes, her one overmastering idea was, like any tigress, to resist all attempts to deprive her of her cub. Meanwhile the time ran on.

Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M.

If I lingered I should lose it, no great matter perhaps, seeing that the exchange, my principal object, had not been made; but if I remained with Henriette, she with her baby and I with mine, the whole of the artifice might at any moment be laid bare. I had to decide then and there, and all I could think of at the time was to keep the enemy in the dark as to the doubled part of the baby. That was clearly the wisest course, and I should have taken it, but I was sorely vexed and put out by her obstinate refusal to play her part; and I told her so.

"Once more and for the last time, Henriette, will you do what I want?" I asked her peremptorily. She only hugged her baby the closer and whispered a soft lullaby. "Then I shall go on with the other. They may still be drawn after me, and leave you to your own devices. The only thing for you to do is to take the first train the other way,--it will be here in ten minutes,--keep low and you may get through into Italy unobserved." "Are you really deserting me?" she cried piteously. "When shall I see you again?" "I shall go round the long journey to Marseilles, by the South of France, and will join you at Fuentellato. There is no reason why you should not get there.

Colonel Annesley will detain the others here, you may be sure of that. Good-bye, now," and without another word Philpotts and I ran round, regained the up platform, resumed our seats by the narrowest margin and proceeded on our way to Amberieu. The reaction from this agitating scene was little less than despair and collapse. Hardly, she had not the nerve, I had almost said the wit, to escape alone from the toils and snares that encompassed her. I blamed myself, I became a prey to the bitterest self-reproach for having abandoned her, for allowing myself to give way to temper, and treat her so cruelly. As the train rattled on, one thought took possession of me. I must get out and go back instantly, at least at the very first opportunity. I must retrace my steps and return again to Culoz, where I hoped to be in time to support and strengthen her, please God save her from the consequences of my unkind and ill-considered action.

Accordingly, at the very next station, Virieu, I alighted. In less than an hour I was in the return train and once more at Culoz, where, sending Philpotts to hide with her charge in the inmost recesses of the ladies' waiting-room, I vainly explored the station for any signs of Henriette, but to my delight she was nowhere in sight.

The place was still in a turmoil, the consequences no doubt of the affray expressly begun by Colonel Annesley to befriend me. I narrowly escaped being seen by some of my enemies, but they were evidently too much preoccupied by their indignation at the outrage put upon that great personage, Lord Blackadder. I passed within an inch or two of my gallant Colonel and was sorely tempted to speak to him, but was deterred by the possible mischief it might entail. I was relieved when they all took seats in the eastward bound train, going only as far as Aix-les-Bains, where, as I heard it stated by the Culoz officials, the case was to be submitted to the Commissary of Police. Although not fully satisfied as to Henriette, I was so far satisfied by coming upon all the parties, Ralph, Blackadder, and the rest, at Culoz, that she had disappeared from the scene without interference. I debated with myself whether I should not follow my sister to Fuentellato, to which I made sure she had gone, and I had every reason to hope that I could eventually join her there. But it seemed to be throwing away that same chance of mystification which I had always kept in view, which might have served me so well but for her weakness, and I still clung to my hope of drawing them after me on the wrong scent. At one time I thought of venturing boldly into their midst and appearing openly at Aix; but this would probably end in abruptly pricking the bubble, and nothing more was to be done. I thought of sending Philpotts to hunt up the Colonel and convey a letter to him detailing my situation, and was much taken with this idea, which I presently rejected because I did not clearly see what good could come of it. I was tortured with doubts, unable to decide for the best, and at last, from sheer inability to choose, resolved to adhere to my original plan of travelling south.

I would at least go to Marseilles, which I could reach that very night, and once there would be guided by circumstances, seeking only to control them to the extent of reporting my whereabouts to Henriette at Fuentellato, and to the Colonel via London as arranged. This as it proved was the very wisest course I could have adopted, as will presently appear. There was no train due westward till 12.40, and I had to put in nearly three solid hours, which I spent in wandering into the village, where I found an unpretending auberge and a rather uneatable breakfast. A slow train to Amberieu, a still slower cross journey to Lyons, which I did not reach till nearly 4 P.M., and learnt that another hour or more must elapse before the departure of the next Marseilles express. The journey seemed interminable, but just as I was losing all patience, I received a fillip that awoke me to alertness, and set all my nerves tingling. The man Tiler, the second detective, the man whom I had already befooled more than once, was there now on the platform, waiting like myself to embark upon the 5.19 train south to Marseilles.

Ludovic Tiler he was busily engaged in conversation with one of the guards and a couple of porters. From his gestures, no doubt, he was describing our party, and I was half-inclined to walk up to him and say "Behold!" But then I drew back hesitating. I did not fear him in the least, but he would be sure to draw the others to him, and I did not quite like the idea of having three of them on my hands at once, and with no Colonel on my side. I could only communicate with Colonel Annesley by a roundabout process, and it might take him some time to reach me, even if he was not otherwise engaged by Henriette. This Tiler man would of course stick to me and follow me if he had the faintest clue, and I let him have that by directing Philpotts to show herself, passing quite close to him and walking on towards the train. She was to return then to the waiting-room, where together we made some change in our appearance.

There were other cloaks in the bundle of rugs, which we put on over those we were wearing. More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. Tiler certainly did not recognize us as we walked separately to the train. He had his suspicions, however, for as soon as we started he walked through the long line of couloir carriages, deliberately peering and prying, examining the passengers of every compartment. He passed us at first, and was much put out, I could see, disappointed no doubt, but he came back presently and stood for some time at our window, while I hid my face in among the rugs, and Philpotts cowered in a corner.

He came back more than once during the journey and stared. He was evidently in great doubt, so much so that I began to fear he would sheer off altogether. That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby? I could enter into the workings of his mind on that point. Hidden it, left it somewhere on the road in the lost property office or at a foundling hospital? 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? To tie him still to our heels, I took the opportunity of having the compartment to ourselves to revive and reconstitute the dummy. The baby was quickly reborn behind the drawn blinds of the carriage, and when at last we arrived at Marseilles at 10.30 P.M. we sallied forth and marched in solemn procession to the Terminus Hotel under the very eyes of our watchful detective.

I almost laughed in his face as we entered the lift near the outer door, and were carried up to our rooms upon the second floor. I slept late, and when I woke, refreshed and fortified against anything that might come, I looked out on to the little square with its fringe of plane-trees, and saw my friend Mr. He had the hotel under observation that was clear, and it was little I should be able to do that day unknown to him. It did not worry me in the least, for in the early hours of calm reflection that followed deep, restful sleep, I had thought out the course I should pursue. I no longer dreaded pursuit; let them all come, the more the merrier, and I meant to fully justify Mr. Tiler in calling them to him. I dressed slowly, lingered leisurely over my luncheon-déjeuner, and then ordered a carriage, a comfortable landau and pair. I meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing. It was a brilliant day, the Southern sun struck with semi-tropical fervour, the air was soft and sleepy in the oppressive heat. I brought out the baby undeterred, and installed it, slumbering peacefully, on Philpotts's knees in the seat before me, and lying back with ostentatious indifference, drove off in full view of the detective.

I shot one glance back as I turned down the long slope leading to the Grâce-à-Dieu Street, and was pleased to see that he had jumped into a fiacre and was coming on after me. I led him up and down and round and round, street after street, all along the great Cannebière and out towards the Reserve, where Roubion's Restaurant offers his celebrated fish stew, bouillabaise, to all comers. Then when Mr. Tiler's weedy horse began to show signs of distress, for my sturdy pair had outpaced him sorely, I relented and reëntered the town, meaning to make a long halt at the office of Messrs. Cook and Son, the universal friends of all travellers far and near. I had long had an idea in my mind that the most promising, if not the only effective method of ending our trouble would be to put the seas between us and the myrmidons of the Courts. I had always hoped to escape to some far-off country where the King's writ does not run, where we could settle down under genial skies, amid pleasant surroundings, at a distance from the worries and miseries of life. Now, with the enemy close at hand, and the real treasure in my foolish sister's care, I could not expect to evade them, but I might surely beguile and lead them astray. This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices. The object I had in view was to get a list of steamers leaving the port of Marseilles within the next two or three days, and their destination.

As everybody knows, there is a constant moving of shipping East, West, and South, and it ought not to be difficult to pick out something to suit me.

The obliging clerk at the counter gave me abundant, almost unending, information. "To the East? Why, surely, there are several opportunities. The P. has half a dozen steamers for the East, pointing first for Port Said and Suez Canal, and bound to India, Ceylon, China, and the Antipodes; the same line for Gibraltar and the West.

The Messagéries Maritime, for all Mediterranean ports, the General Navigation of Italy for Genoa and Naples, the Transatlantique for various Algerian ports, Tunis, Bône, Philippeville, and Algiers, other companies serving the coast of Morocco and especially Tangier." Truly an embarrassing choice! I took a note of all that suited, and promised to return after I had made a round of the shipping offices,--another jaunt for Tiler, and a pretty plain indication of what was in my mind. That it was somewhat out of the way, neither easy to reach nor to leave, as the steamers came and went rarely, served my purpose well. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked. Accordingly, I secured a good cabin on board the S.S. Oasis of the Transatlantique, leaving Marseilles for Tripoli at 8 A.M. the following Sunday, and paid the necessary deposit on the passage ticket. It was a satisfaction to me to see my "shadow's" fiacre draw up at the door soon after I left, and Mr. Ludovic Tiler enter the office. I made no doubt he would contrive, very cleverly as he thought, to find out exactly what I had been doing with regard to the Oasis.

Later in the day, out of mere curiosity, I walked down to the offices to ask a trivial question about my baggage. It was easy to turn the talk to other matters connected with the voyage and my fellow passengers. Several other cabins had been engaged, two of them in the name of Ludovic Tiler.

There was nothing left for me but to bide my time. We were really waiting for each other, and we knew enough of each other's plans to bide in tranquil expectation of what we thought must certainly follow. When I was at dinner in the hotel restaurant he calmly came into the room, merely to pass his eye over me as it were, and I took it so much as a matter of course that I looked up, and felt half-inclined to give him a friendly nod. We were like duellists saluting each other before we crossed swords, each relying upon his own superior skill. [We need not reproduce in detail the rest of the matters set forth by Lady Claire Standish while she and the detective watched each other at Marseilles. Tiler, on the Saturday morning, made it plain, from his arrogance and self-sufficient air as he walked through the hotel restaurant, that all was going well, and he had indeed heard from Falfani that he would arrive with Lord Blackadder that night. Later on that Saturday a telegram from Culoz reached Lady Claire from Colonel Annesley giving the latest news, and bringing down Lady Henriette's movements to the time of her departure for Marseilles. He promised a later message from somewhere along the road with later information, and soon after 9 P.M. Lady Claire was told they were coming through by the night train, due at Marseilles at 4 A.M. Thus all the parties to this imbroglio were about to be concentrated in the same place, and it must depend upon the skill and determination of one clever woman to turn events her way.] She goes on to say: It was a shock to me to hear that Henriette still lingered on the fringe of danger, and I was very much disturbed at finding she might be running into the very teeth of it.

But I trusted to my good fortune, and, better still, to good management, to keep her out of harm's way until the coast was clear. I was on the platform at 10 P.M. watching for the Blackadder lot when they appeared. Tiler was there to receive them and spoke a few words to my lord, who instantly looked round, for me no doubt, and I slipped away.

I did not wish to anticipate a crisis, and he was quite capable of making a scene, even at the hotel at that time of night. I was relieved at seeing him pass on, and the more so that he did not take the turn into the Terminus Hotel, my hotel, but went towards the entrance where a carriage was waiting for him. He meant of course to put up in the town, either at the Noailles or the Louvre. I lay down to take a short rest, but was roused in time to be again on the platform at 4 A.M. The Colonel came to the rescue as usual, and said briefly, after we had shaken hands: "Take charge of her, Lady Claire, I will see to everything now. We can talk later." "Can you be at the entrance to the hotel in a couple of hours' time? I shall want your advice, probably your assistance." "You know you have only to ask," he answered, with the prompt, soldierlike obedience, and the honest, unflinching look in his eyes that I knew so well and loved in him. I felt now that I should succeed in the difficult task I had set myself. The plan I had conceived and hoped to work out was to send Lord Blackadder to sea, all the way to Tripoli, with Philpotts and the sham child.

We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. The Oasis had her blue peter flying, and a long gangway stretched from her side to the shore, up and down which a crowd passed ceaselessly, passengers embarking, porters with luggage, and dock hands with freight. At the top of the slope was the chief steward and his men, in full dress, white shirts, white ties, and white gloves, who welcomed us, asking the number of our stateroom, and offering to relieve us of our light baggage. One put out his arms to take the baby from Philpotts, but she shook her head vigorously, and I cried in French that it was too precious. Next moment a voice I recognized said: "Certainly they are there, and they have it with them. "No violence, if you please, or you may make the acquaintance of another police commissary." I had heard the whole story of the affair at Aix from the Colonel, who I may say at once I had seen shortly before, and who was at no great distance now.

I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us. Let me pass; I cannot stay here, it would poison me to breathe the same air. Down-stairs I found Philpotts in the cabin, busily engaged in putting her "doll" to bed in the third berth. "Are you at all afraid of being left with these wretches?" I asked a little doubtfully, counting upon her devotion, but loth to lay too great a burden on her. What can they do to me? They will be furiously angry, of course, but the laugh will be against them. If the worst comes to the worst they will appeal to the captain, and they will get no satisfaction from him. You shall hear from Tripoli to the same hotel in Marseilles." "If we go on your letter will follow us. Come back there as soon as you possibly can and you will find further instructions. Now it must be good-bye, there goes the bell to warn people ashore.

One last word: I advise you when well out to sea to go to my lord and offer to go over to his side and desert me altogether. Tell him you will help him to get the child,--that you will put it into his hands indeed,--at a price." "As if I would touch his dirty money, my lady!" "It will be only spoiling the Egyptians! You know I shall always be your firm friend whatever you do, and that I shall never forget what I owe you." I should have said much more, but now the second bell was ringing, and if I was to carry out my scheme it was time for me to go.

On leaving the cabin I walked forward along the lower deck seeking another issue, the position of which I had fixed the day before, having visited the Oasis on purpose. In a minute I had emerged into the open air, and found myself in the midst of the sailors sending down cargo into the forehold. "This way, Lady Claire, only a couple of steps," said the Colonel as he led me to the side of the steamer farthest from the shore. A ladder was fixed here and a boat was made fast to the lowest rung. Carefully, tenderly guided by my ever trusty henchman I made the descent, took my seat in the stern of the small boat, it was cast loose, and we pushed off into the waterway. Half an hour later we were back at the Terminus Hotel. For the first time in all that stirring and eventful week I breathed freely.

At any rate the present peril was overpast, we had eluded pursuit, and had a clear time of perfect security to consider our situation and look ahead. She was very humble and apologetic, and disarmed me if I had intended to take her to task for all the trouble and anxiety she had caused us. I have been scolded quite enough these last twenty-four hours. I never met a man I disliked so much as your fine friend, that Colonel Annesley, the rudest, most presuming, overbearing wretch. He talked to me and ordered me about as if I was still in the schoolroom, he actually dared to find fault with my actions, and dictated to me what I should do next. He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice? "Why, of course, he thinks all the world of you.

You know of your latest conquest, I suppose?" "There are things one does not care to discuss, my dear, even with one's sister," I answered, rather coldly. You are free to choose, I was not," and her eyes filled with tears at the sad shipwreck of her married life. But how can I keep him after that wicked decision of the Court, and with such a persistent enemy as Ralph Blackadder? For the moment we are safe, but by and by he will come back, he will leave no stone unturned until he finds me, and I shall lose my darling for ever." The hopelessness of evading pursuit for any time sorely oppressed me, too. There seemed no safety but in keeping continually on the move, in running to and fro and changing our hiding place so soon as danger of discovery loomed near.

Yet, after a pleasant déjeuner, the three of us held a council of war. "The thing is perfectly simple," said my dear Colonel, in his peremptory, but to me reassuring fashion. You must go as quickly as you can get there, to Tangier." "Tangier!" I cried, amazed.

It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on. "You have broken the law, you are flying from the law, and you are amenable to it all the world over, save and except in Morocco alone. You must go to Tangier, there is no extradition, the King's warrant does not run there. You will be perfectly safe if you elect to stay there, safe for the rest of your days." "You seem very anxious to get rid of us and bury us at the back of beyond," I said, nettled and unable to conceal my chagrin at the matter-of-fact way in which he wished to dispose of us. "I venture to hope I may be permitted to accompany you, and remain with you--" It was now Henriette's turn to laugh outright at this rather blunt proposal, and I regret to add that I blushed a rosy red. "To remain with you and near you so long as my services may be required," he went on, gravely, by no means the interpretation my sister had put upon his remark; for he fixed his eyes on me with unmistakable meaning, and held them so fixedly that I could not look away. There could no longer be any doubt how "it stood with us;" my heart went out to him then and there, and I nodded involuntarily, more in answer to his own thoughts than his suggestion.

I knew from the gladness on his frank, handsome face that he understood and rejoiced. "You see," he went on, quickly, dealing with the pressing matter in hand, "I know all about the place. Sport in the season, and plenty of galloping ground.

The point is, how we should travel?" I could be of service in this; my inquiries at Cook's had qualified me to act as a shipping clerk, and we soon settled to take a steamer of the Bibby Line due that afternoon, which would land us at Gibraltar in two or three days. Thence to Tangier was only like crossing a ferry. The Colonel's man, l'Echelle, was sent to secure cabins, and we caught the ship in due course. Three days later we were soon comfortably settled in the Hotel Atlas, just above the wide sweep of sands that encircle the bay. It was the season of fierce heat, but we faced the northern breezes full of invigorating ozone. Tangier, the wildest, quaintest, most savage spot on the face of the globe, was to me the most enchanting. Our impressions take their colour from the passing mood; we like or loathe a place according to the temper in which we view it. I was so utterly and foolishly happy in this most Eastern city located in the West that I have loved it deeply ever since. After the trying and eventful episodes of the past week I had passed into a tranquil haven filled with perfect peace.

The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. I could calmly await the issue, content to enjoy the moment and forget the past like a bad dream. It was sufficient to bask in the sunshine, revelling in the free air, rejoicing in the sweetness of my nascent love. We were much together, Basil and I; we walked together, exploring the recesses of the native town, and the ancient citadel, with its memories of British dominion; we lingered in the Soko or native market, crowded with wild creatures from the far interior; we rode together, for his first care was to secure horses, and scoured the country as far as the Marshan and Cape Spartel. But even she brightened as the days ran on and brought no fresh disquiet, while her boy, sweet little Ralph, developed in health and strength. A week passed thus, a week of unbroken quiet, flawless as the unchanging blue of a summer sky; not a cloud in sight, not a suspicion of coming disturbance and unrest. To imagine it was to fall asleep in a fool's paradise, lulled into false serenity by the absence of portents so often shrouded and unseen until they break upon us. They had recrossed the Mediterranean together in the same ship, the Oasis. "So far all well," she said, "but am watched closely, will certainly follow me--send instructions--better not join you at present." This message fell on us two poor women like a bolt from the blue.

Basil looked serious for a moment, but then laughed scornfully. There is not the slightest fear. He may bluster and bully as much as he pleases, or rather, as far as he is permitted to go. We will place ourselves under the protection of the Moorish bashaw. At the same time he can give you no protection. He will follow with his men, they are well-trained detectives, and it will be mere child's play for them to track us to Tangier.

You may look for them here any day. We must be ready for them at all points." "There is no saying what Ralph Blackadder may not attempt." "Indeed, yes, he is equal to anything, guile of course, treachery, cunning, stratagem, absolute violence if the opportunity offers. It is of the utmost importance not to play into his hands, not to give him the smallest chance. The child must be watched continually in the house, awake and asleep, wherever he goes and whatever he does." "Then I think Henriette must be warned not to wander about the town and on the sands in the way she's been doing with Victorine and the child, all of them on donkey back. I grudged her the smallest pleasure, while I was racing up and down flirting and philandering with Basil Annesley all day and every day; she was to sit indoors, bored to extinction and suffering torments in the unbearable heat. Basil and I agreed that it was cruel to restrict her movements even with such a good excuse, and had she been willing to accept the irksome conditions, which she certainly was not. We arranged a surveillance, therefore, unknown to her. The Colonel, his man, or myself invariably accompanied her or followed her within eyeshot; and we hired two or three stalwart Moors, who were always to be near enough to render help if required. Then came confirmations of our worst fears. L'Echelle, who had been unaccountably absent one morning, returned about midday with news from the port.

Lord Blackadder and his two henchmen had just landed from the José Pielago, the steamer that runs regularly between Cadiz and Algeçiras, Gibraltar, and Tangier. He had seen them in the custom-house, fighting their way through the crowd of ragged Jew porters, the Moorish egg merchants, and dealers in luscious fruit.

They had mounted donkeys, the only means of conveyance in a town with no wheeled vehicles; and l'Echelle made us laugh at the sorry picture presented by the indignant peer, with his legs dangling down on each side of the red leather saddle. Their baggage was also piled on donkeys, and the whole procession, familiar enough in the narrow streets of Tangier, climbed the hill to the Soko, and made for the Shereef Hotel, reputed one of the best in Tangier, and lying outside the walls in the immediate neighbourhood of the British Legation.

L'Echelle, who seems an honest, loyal fellow, thought he would serve us best by marking them down, and, if possible, renewing his acquaintance with the detectives, one or both of whom he knew. After hanging about the outside of the hotel, he entered the garden boldly and went up to the shady trellised verandah where they were seated together, smoking and refreshing themselves after their journey. Falfani, my friend of the Calais train, believed he had suborned him at Aix, and now hailed his appearance with much satisfaction. L'Echelle might again be most useful; at least, he could lead them to us, and he wisely decided to let Falfani know where we were to be found in Tangier. The fact would surely be discovered without him. It was better, he thought, to appear frank, and, by instilling confidence, learn all there was to know of their plans and movements. My lord had gone to the Legation, Falfani told him at once, bombastically boasting that everything would yield before him. He had but to express his wishes, and there would be an end of the hunt.

But my lord came back in a furious rage, and, regardless of l'Echelle's--a comparative stranger's--presence, burst forth into passionate complaint against the Minister. He would teach Sir Arthur to show proper respect to a peer of the realm; he would cable at once to the Foreign Office and insist on this second-rate diplomatist's recall. The upshot of it all was that his lordship's demand for help had been refused pointblank, and no doubt, after what the Colonel had heard, in rather abrupt, outspoken terms.

All this and more l'Echelle brought back to us at the Atlas Hotel. He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property.

As the fitting end of his violent declamation, Ralph Blackadder had left the hotel hurriedly, calling upon his creatures to follow him, bent, as it seemed, to perpetrate some mad act. I confess I shuddered at the thought of this reckless, unprincipled man loose about Tangier, vowing vengeance, and resolved to go to any lengths to secure it. But even he quailed at the sudden shock that fell upon us at the very same moment.

After the first excitement, we desired to pass on the news brought by l'Echelle to her, and renew our entreaties for extreme caution in her comings and goings; and with much misgiving we learnt that she was not in the hotel. It had been l'Echelle's turn to accompany her, but he had been diverted from his duty by the pressing necessity of following Lord Blackadder. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour. Could she have fallen a victim to the machinations of Lord Blackadder? Was the boy captured and she detained while he was spirited away? We doubted the more when the man turned up in person at the Atlas Hotel and had the effrontery to ask for her. Basil went out to him in the outer hall, and, as I listened from within, I immediately heard high words. It was like a spark applied to tinder; a fierce quarrel blazed up instantly between them.

I come to demand the restoration of that which belongs to me. It is the most impudent pretence; you know perfectly well he is not here." "I will not bandy words with you. Go in, you men, both of you, Tiler and Falfani, and seize the child. I could not possibly hold aloof, but called for help from the hotel people, and, with them at my back, rushed out to add my protest against this intemperate conduct. The three assailants, Ralph Blackadder behind egging them on, had thrown themselves upon Basil, who stood sturdily at bay with his back to the wall, daring them to come on, and prepared to strike out at the first man who touched him. But even as he spoke his voice weakened, he halted abruptly; his hands went up into the air, his body swayed to and fro, his strength left him completely, and he fell to the ground in sudden and complete collapse.

When they picked him up, there was froth mixed with blood upon his lips, he breathed once or twice heavily, stertorously, and then with one long-drawn gasp died in the arms of his two men.

It was an apoplectic seizure, the doctors told us later, brought on by excessive nervous irritation of the brain. Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. While the servants of the hotel attended to the stricken man, Basil Annesley plied the detectives with eager questions. He urged them to tell all they knew; it should be made worth their while; they no longer owed allegiance to their late employer. He entreated them to withhold nothing. We could get nothing out of these men; they refused to answer our questions from sheer mulish obstinacy, as we thought at first, but we saw at length that they did not understand us. They assured us they had seen no lady, nor had the unfortunate peer accosted any one, or interfered with any one on his way between the two hotels.

He had come straight from the Villa Shereef to the Hotel Atlas, racing down at a run, pausing nowhere, addressing no one on the road. If not Lord Blackadder, what then? Full of anxiety, Basil called for a horse, and was about to ride off to institute a hue and cry, when my sister appeared in person upon the scene. Not on my account, surely?" I took her aside, and in a few words told her of the terrible catastrophe that had just occurred, and for a time she was silent and seemed quite overcome. Have you taken leave of your senses?" "Know that I have discovered the whole plot of which I was the victim.

They were bribed to go away, and they have been here hiding in Tangier." "Go on, go on. Tell me, please, all about it." "You must know we went out, the three of us, on our donkeys, and the fancy seized me to explore some of the dark, narrow streets where the houses all but join overhead.

I could not even see the sky, and at last desired Achmet to get me out into the open, anywhere.

After one or two sharp turns, we emerged upon a sort of plateau or terrace high above the sea, and in full view of it. "There was a small hotel in front of it, and above the door was the name of the proprietor, would you believe it, Domenico Bruel! "It was the name of Susan's husband, and no doubt Susan was there. I thought of sending Achmet back for you or the Colonel, but I could not bear parting with him. Then, while I was still hesitating, Susan herself came out and rushed across to where I was, with her hands outstretched and fairly beside herself, laughing and crying by turns.

It is you, then? He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here. Can you forgive me?' "All this she poured forth, and much more of the same sort. Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed. It will be put right now, now that Ralph can no longer oppose it." I bowed my head silently, thankful and deeply impressed with the strange turn taken by events and the sudden light let in upon the darkness that had surrounded us.

The rest of the adventures that began in the sleeping-car between Calais and Basle, and came abruptly to an end on the North African shore, may soon be told. Our first act was to return to England at the very earliest opportunity, and we embarked that evening on a Forwood steamer direct for London, which port we reached in less than five days. Town was empty, and we did not linger there. Nothing could be done in the Courts, as it was the legal vacation, but Henriette's solicitors arranged to send out a commission to take the Bruels' evidence at Tangier, and to bring the matter before The President at the earliest opportunity. As for ourselves, I persuaded Henriette to take a cottage at Marlow on the Upper Thames, where Colonel Annesley was a constant guest, and Charlie Forrester. We four passed many idle halcyon days on the quiet river, far from the noise of trains, and content to leave Bradshaw in the bottom of the travelling-bag, where it had been thrown at the end of our feverish wanderings. Once more we found ourselves at Calais with Philpotts, but no encumbrances, bound on a second, a far happier, and much less eventful journey by the Engadine express. /

It was past the hour for our meeting. The crossing from Dover to Calais had been rough; a drizzling rain fell all the time, and most of the passengers had remained below. Strange to say, they were few enough, as I saw on landing. It was a Sunday in late July, and there ought to have been a strong stream setting towards Central Europe.

I hardly expected to find much room in the train; not that it mattered, for my place was booked through in the Lucerne sleeping-car of the Engadine express. When I reached the siding where this train de luxe was drawn up, I saw that I was not merely the first but the only passenger. Five sleeping-cars and a dining-car attached, with the full staff, attendants, chef, waiters--all lay there waiting for me, and me alone. "Not very busy?" I said, with a laugh to the conductor. "Parbleu," replied the man, polyglot and cosmopolitan, like most of his class, but a Frenchman, or, more likely from his accent, a Swiss.

"I never saw the like before." "I shall have a compartment to myself, then?" "Monsieur may have the whole carriage if he wishes--the whole five carriages. It is but to arrange." His eyes glistened at the prospect of something special in this obvious scarcity of coming tips. "The train will run, I hope? The carriages are wanted at the other end for the return journey. Stay, what have we here?" We stood talking together on the platform, and at some little distance from the railway station, the road to which was clear and open all the way, so that I could see a little party of four approaching us, and distinguish them. Two ladies, an official, probably one of the guards, and a porter laden with light luggage. As they came up I discreetly withdrew to my own compartment, the window of which was open, so that I could hear and see all that passed. "Places?" echoed the conductor. "Madame can have fifty." "What did I tell madame?" put in the official who had escorted her. A separate compartment for myself and maid; the child can come in with us." Now for the first time I noticed that the maid was carrying a bundle in her arms, the nature of which was unmistakable.

The way in which she swung it to and fro rhythmically was that of a nurse and child. "If madame prefers, the maid and infant can be accommodated apart," suggested the obliging conductor. "I wish them to be with me. Only, as the train is not full--very much the reverse indeed--only one other passenger, a gentleman--no more--" The news affected her strangely, and in two very different ways.

She turned to talk to her maid in English, while the conductor busied himself in preparing the tickets. "What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English.

There is nothing to be afraid of, not in that way. I saw him, the gentleman, as we came up.

He's quite a gentleman, a good-looking military-looking man, not at all the other sort--you know the sort I mean." Now while I accepted the compliment to myself, I was greatly mystified by the allusion to the "other sort of man." "You think we can go on, that it's safe, even in this empty train? We should have passed unobserved among a lot of people." "But then there would have been a lot of people to observe us; some one, perhaps, who knew you, some one who might send word." "I wish I knew who this passenger is. The mere thought makes me shiver.

Not a soul could have equalled you at the business.

You might have been at it all your life," said the maid, with affectionate familiarity, that of a humble performer paying tribute to a great artist in crime. The very opposite of the younger woman (about her more directly), a neatly dressed unassuming person, short and squat in figure, with a broad, plain, and, to the casual observer, honest face, slow in movement and of no doubt sluggish temperament, not likely to be moved or distressed by conscience, neither at the doing or the memory of evil deeds. Now the conductor came up and civilly bowed them towards their carriage, mine, which they entered at the other end as I left it making for the restaurant, not a little interested in what I had heard. Who and what could these two people be with whom I was so strangely and unexpectedly thrown? The one was a lady, I could hardly be mistaken in that; it was proved in many ways, voice, air, aspect, all spoke of birth and breeding, however much she might have fallen away from or forfeited her high station. She might have taken to devious practices, or been forced into them; whatever the cause of her present decadence she could not have been always the thief she now confessed herself. There must surely have been some excuse for her, some overmastering temptation, some extreme pressure exercised irresistibly through her emotions, her affections, her fears.

As I still hesitated, puzzled and bewildered, still anxious to give her the benefit of the doubt, she came to the door of the buffet where I was now seated at lunch, and allowed me to survey her more curiously and more at leisure. "A daughter of the gods, divinely tall and most divinely fair." The height and slimness of her graceful figure enhanced by the tight-fitting tailor-made ulster that fell straight from collar to heel; her head well poised, a little thrown back with chin in the air, and a proud defiant look in her undeniably handsome face.

Fine eyes of darkest blue, a well-chiseled nose with delicate, sensitive nostrils, a small mouth with firm closely compressed lips, a wealth of glossy chestnut hair, gathered into a knot under her tweed travelling cap. As she faced me, looking straight at me, she conveyed the impression of a determined unyielding character, a woman who would do much, dare much, who would go her own road if so resolved, undismayed and undeterred by any difficulties that might beset her.

Then, to my surprise, although I might have expected it, she came and seated herself at a table close to my elbow. She had told her companion that she wanted to know more about me, that she would like to enlist me in her service, questionable though it might be, and here she was evidently about to make the attempt. "I beg your pardon," she began almost at once in English, when the waiter had brought her a plate of soup, and she was toying with the first spoonful, speaking in a low constrained, almost sullen voice, as though it cost her much to break through the convenances in thus addressing a stranger. "You will think it strange of me," she went on, "but I am rather awkwardly situated, in fact in a position of difficulty, even of danger, and I venture to appeal to you as a countryman, an English officer." "How do you know that?" I asked, quickly concluding that my light baggage had been subjected to scrutiny, and wondering what subterfuge she would adopt to explain it. Gentlemen of your cloth are as easily recognizable as if your names were printed on your back." "And as they are generally upon our travelling belongings." I looked at her steadily with a light laugh, and a crimson flush came on her face. However hardened a character, she had preserved the faculty of blushing readily and deeply, the natural adjunct of a cream-like complexion. "Let me introduce myself in full," I said, pitying her obvious confusion; and I handed her my card, which she took with a shamefaced air, rather foreign to her general demeanour. "What was your regiment?" "The Princess Ulrica Rifles, but I left it on promotion. I am unattached for the moment, and waiting for reëmployment." "Your own master then?" "Practically, until I am called upon to serve.

Meanwhile I am loafing about Europe." "Do you go beyond Lucerne?" "Across the St. Am I right in supposing we are to be fellow travellers by the Engadine express?" I went on by way of saying something. "To Lucerne or further?" CHAPTER II. "Probably." The answer was given with great hesitation. To tell you the truth, I dread the journey. Now I find it ever so much worse than I expected." "Why is that, if I may ask?" "You see, I am travelling alone, practically alone that is to say, with only my maid." "And your child," I added rather casually, with no second thought, and I was puzzled to understand why the chance phrase evoked another vivid blush. "The child! Oh, yes, the child," and I was struck that she did not say "my" child, but laid rather a marked stress on the definite article. "That of course increases your responsibility," I hazarded, and she seized the suggestion.

The idea of going all that way in an empty train quite terrifies me." "I don't see why it should." "But just think. There will be no one in it, no one but ourselves. Suppose the five attendants and the others were to combine against us? They might rob and murder us." "Oh, come, come.

You must not let foolish fears get the better of your common sense. Why should they want to make us their victims? I believe they are decent, respectable men, the employes of a great company, carefully selected. Ladies are perhaps a little too reckless in carrying their valuables about with them. Your jewel-case may be exceptionally well lined." "Oh, but it is not; quite the contrary," she cried with almost hysterical alacrity. "I have nothing to tempt them. And yet something dreadful might happen; I feel we are quite at their mercy." "I don't. I tell you frankly that I think you are grossly exaggerating the situation. Wait over for another train, I mean?" I am free to confess that, although my curiosity had been aroused, I would much rather have washed my hands of her, and left her and her belongings, especially the more compromising part, the mysterious treasure, behind at Calais. "Is there another train soon?" she inquired nervously.

It connects with the train from Victoria at 2.20 and the boat from Folkestone.

You need only run as far as Boulogne with this Engadine train, and wait there till it starts. I think about 6 P.M." "Will that not lose time?" "Undoubtedly you will be two hours later at Basle, and you may lose the connection with Lucerne and the St.

But if I can be of no further use to you I will make my bow. It is time for me to get back to the train, and for my part I don't in the least want to lose the Engadine express." She got up too, and walked out of the buffet by my side. "I shall go on, at any rate as far as Boulogne," she volunteered, without my asking the question; and we got into our car together, she entering her compartment and I mine. I smoked many cigarettes pondering over the curious episode and my new acquaintance. A young man would have sworn she was perfectly straight, that there could be no guile in this sweet-faced, gentle, well-mannered woman; and I, with my greater experience of life and the sex, was much tempted to do the same.

It was against the grain to condemn her as all bad, a depredator, a woman with perverted moral sense who broke the law and did evil things. 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?

"Bother the woman and her dark blue eyes. I hope to heaven she will really leave the train at Boulogne; we ought to be getting near there by now." I had travelled the road often enough to know it by heart, and I recognized our near approach only to realize that the train did not mean to stop. I turned over the leaves of Bradshaw and saw I had been mistaken; the train skirted Boulogne and never entered the station. "Well, that settles it for the present, anyhow. If she still wants to leave the train she must wait now until Amiens. We had hardly passed the place when her maid's (or companion's) square figure filled the open doorway of my compartment, and in her strong deep voice she addressed a brief summons to me brusquely and peremptorily: "My lady wishes to speak to you." "And pray what does 'my lady' want with me?" I replied carelessly, using the expression as a title of rank. Blair." The correction and information were vouchsafed with cold self-possession. If she had been in any trouble, any serious trouble, such as she anticipated when talking to me at the buffet, and a prey to imaginary alarms since become real, I should have been ready to serve her or any woman in distress, but nothing of this could have happened in the short hour's run so far." "I thought you were a gentleman," was the scornful rejoinder.

"A nice sort of gentleman, indeed, to sit there like a stock or a stone when a lady sends for you!" "A lady!" There was enough sarcasm in my tone to bring a flush upon her impassive face, a fierce gleam of anger in her stolid eyes; and when I added, "A fine sort of lady!" I thought she would have struck me. You're not the kind of people I like to deal with or wish to know." She stared at me open-mouthed, her hands clenched, her eyes half out of her head. Her face had gone deadly white, and I thought she would have fallen there where she stood, a prey to impotent rage. The lady, Mrs. Blair, as I had just heard her called, appeared behind, her taller figure towering above the maid's, her face in full view, vexed with varying acute emotions, rage, grief, and terror combined. Do you go back to our place this instant; we cannot be away together, you know that; it must not be left alone, one of us must be on guard over it. My self-reproach was aroused even before I quailed under the withering contempt of her tone. You can have no real reason for condemning me." "Let me admit that, and leave the matter there," I pleaded. I could not bring myself to tell her that she was self-condemned, that she was the principal witness against herself. Come, please, let there be no more evasion.

I shall stay here until you tell me what you think of me, and why." She seated herself by my side in the narrow velvet seat of the small compartment, so close that the folds of her tweed skirt (she had removed her ulster) touched and rubbed against me. I was invaded by the sweet savour of her gracious presence (she used some delightful scent, violette ideale, I believe), by putting forth my hand a few inches I might have taken hers in mine. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. How do I differ from the rest of--your world, let us call it?" "You do not, as far as I can see.

At least you ought to hold your own anywhere, in any society, the very best." "And yet I'm not 'your sort.' Am I a humbug, an impostor, an adventuress, a puppet and play-actress? Or is it that I have forfeited my right, my rank of gentlewoman, my position in the world, your world?" I was silent, moodily, obstinately silent. She had hit the blot, and could put but one interpretation upon it. She still was not satisfied; she would penetrate my reserve, overcome my reticence, have it out of me willy nilly, whether I would or no. I have my reasons for desiring to know the very worst." "Why drive me to that?" I schooled myself to seem hard and uncompromising. I felt I was weakening under the subtle charm of her presence, and the pretty pleading of her violet eyes; but I was still resolute not to give way. "If you will only tell me why you think such evil I may be able to justify myself, or at least explain away appearances that are against me." "You admit there are such appearances? Remember, I never said so." "Then on what do you condemn me? "You imply that I have no conscience, or that I should feel the qualms, the prickings of conscience?" "After what you've done, yes," I blurted out.

How dare you judge me without knowing the facts, without a shadow of proof?" She sprang to her feet and passed to the door, where she turned, as it were, at bay. "I have the very best proof, from your own lips. I heard you and your maid talking together at Calais." "A listener, Colonel Annesley? You stood under my window there." I defended myself indignantly. "And their consequences, madam," but the shot failed rather of effect.

Was she so old a hand, so hardened in crime, that the fears of detection, arrest, reprisals, the law and its penalties had no effect upon her? Now, when standing before me fully confessed for what she was, and practically at my mercy, she could laugh with cool and unabashed levity and make little of the whole affair. If I had hoped that I had done with her now, when the murder was out, I was very much mistaken. She had some further designs on me, I was sure. The woman was in the ascendant, and, as I thought, the eternal feminine ever agog to attract and subjugate the male, she would conquer my admiration even if she could not secure my esteem. Call in the gendarmes at the next station? Have me taken red-handed with the--stolen property--the 'swag,' you know the word, perhaps, in my possession?" "I am not a police officer; it's not my business," I answered gruffly. "Or you might telegraph back to England, to London, to Scotland Yard: 'The woman Blair in the Engadine express.

Wire along the line to authorities, French and Swiss, to look out for her and arrest preparatory to extradition.'" "I would much rather not continue this conversation, Mrs. I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs. I would rather not have the whole list," I interrupted her, but could not check her restless tongue. I was the heroine of that robbery at Buckingham Palace. I was at the State Ball, and made a fine harvest of jewels. I have swept a dozen country-houses clean; I have picked pockets and lifted old lace from the shop counters, and embezzled and forged--" "And turned pirate, and held up trains, and robbed the Bank of England," I added, falling into her humour and laughing as she rose to her full height; and again her mood changed, dominating me with imperious air, her voice icily cold in manner, grave and repellent. Nothing, indeed, could take the sting out of this, and yet it was all but impossible to accuse her, to blame her even for what she had done. She read that in my eyes, in my abashed face, my hands held out deprecating her wrath, and her next words had a note of conciliation in them.

"There are degrees of wrong-doing, shades of guilt," she said. "Crimes, offences, misdeeds, call them as you please, are not absolutely unpardonable; in some respects they are excusable, if not justifiable. "You know I am still quite in the dark." "And you must remain so, for the present at any rate," she said firmly and sharply.

We are absolute strangers, I owe you no explanation, and I would give you none, even if you asked." "I have not asked and shall not ask anything." "Then you are willing to take it so, to put the best construction on what you have heard, to forget my words, to surrender your suspicions?" "If you will tell me only this: that I may have confidence in you, that I may trust you, some day, to enlighten me and explain what seems so incomprehensible to-day." "I am sorely tempted to do so now," she paused, lost for a time in deep and anxious thought; and then, after subjecting me to a long and intent scrutiny, she shook her head. You must earn the right to my confidence, you must prove to me that you will not misuse it. There are others concerned; I am not speaking for myself alone. If the first I will help you, if the latter I will also help you as far as lies in my power." "Without conditions?" And when I nodded assent such a smile lit up her face that more than repaid me, and stifled the doubts and qualms that still oppressed me. But, bewitched by the sorcery of her bright eyes, I said bravely: "I accept service--I am yours to command. The way is by no means clear. There are risks, dangers before me. I may ask you to share them. "I shall not disappoint you," was what I said, and, in a firm assured voice, added, "You have resolved then to travel forward in this train?" "I must, I have no choice. I dare not tarry by the way.

"That is not in the compact. For the present you must be satisfied so, and there is nothing more to be said." "I shall see you again, I trust," I pleaded, as she rose to leave me. Why should we not dine together in the dining-car by and by?" she proposed with charming frankness, in the lighter mood that sat so well upon her.

"The waiters will be there to play propriety, and no Mrs.

If only I might be allowed to--" know more, I would have said, but she chose to put other words into my mouth. "To join us in the watching? Become one of us, belong to a gang of thieves, liable like the rest of us to the law? I would gladly help you, see you through any difficulty by the way, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at active partnership," I answered a little lamely under her mocking eyes. "There is a limit, then, to your devotion?" She was coldly sarcastic now, and I realized painfully that I had receded in her favour.

She had by no means dispelled them. So for half an hour I abused her fiercely; I swore at myself hotly as an ass, a hopeless and unmitigated ass, ever ready to be betrayed and beguiled by woman's wiles, the too easy victim of the first pretty face I saw. The fit lasted for quite half an hour, and then came the reaction. I heard her rich deep voice singing in my ears, I felt the haunting glamour of her eyes, remembered her gracious presence, and my heart went out to her.

I knew, of course, that I ought not to stand between her and the inevitable Nemesis that awaits upon misdeeds, but what if I helped her to avoid or escape it? The opportunity was nearer at hand than I thought. Blair, were soon to be put to the test. The train reached Amiens punctually at 5 P.M., and a stoppage of five minutes was announced. I got out to stretch my legs on the platform. No one took much notice of us; it must have been known that the train was empty, for there were no waiters from the buffet with café au lait or fruit, or brioches--no porters about, or other officials.

I had not expected to see any passengers come on board the train, a through express, made up of sleeping-cars and a supplementary charge on the tickets. But on running into the station (ours was the first carriage) I had noticed a man standing with a valise in his hand, and I saw him following the train down the platform when we stopped. He addressed himself to a little group of conductors who had already alighted, and were gossiping idly among themselves, having nothing else to do. One of them indicated our particular attendant, to whom he spoke, and who brought him directly to our carriage.

Evidently the newcomer was bound for Lucerne via Basle. Here was one more occupant of our neglected train, another companion and fellow traveller in our nearly empty sleeping-car. Curiosity and something more led me to examine this man closely; it was a strange, undefined, inexplicable sense of foreboding, of fateful forecast, that he and I were destined to be thrown together unpleasantly, to be much mixed up with one another, and to the comfort and satisfaction of neither. His position in life, his business, trade or calling were not to be easily fixed; a commercial man, an agent or "traveller" on his own account, well-to-do and prosperous, was the notion borne out by his dress, his white waistcoat and coloured shirt of amazing pattern (a hint of his Italian origin), his rings and the showy diamond pin in his smart necktie. I added to this, my first impression, by further observation, for which I soon had abundant opportunity. When the train moved on, he came and took his seat on the flap seat (or strapontin) just opposite my compartment. I could not tell why, until presently he made overtures of sociability and began a desultory talk across the corridor.

My cabin or compartment, it will be remembered, was the last but one; the newcomer had been given the one behind mine, and here from his seat he commanded the whole length of the carriage forward, which included the compartment occupied by Mrs. His eyes were so deep set as to be almost lost in their recesses behind his sandy eyelashes, and he kept them screwed up close, with the intent watchful gaze of an animal about to make a spring. His whole aspect, his shifty, restless manner, his furtive looks, all were antipathetic and to his great advantage. I had all but shut the door of my compartment in his face, but it suddenly occurred to me that he was capable of wandering on, and when he found the ladies inflicting his greasy attentions upon them. There are ladies in that compartment yonder." "Ladies indeed! You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there. "Does monsieur, tell me quickly, I--I--beg--know them!

Can he describe them to me?" "I shall tell you nothing about them. What the mischief do you mean by asking me questions? Find out what you want for yourself." I was hot and indignant with the brute. I shall find out then," and he jumped up, the spring seat closing with a bang from under him. The noise concealed the sound of the electric bell which I had pressed to summon the attendant, as I rushed out and caught the other man by the arm. "You'll do nothing of the kind," I cried with very vigorous emphasis, backed by all my strength.

"I'll shake you to a jelly if you dare to move another inch." "Here, I say, drop it. Who the deuce are you? At this moment the conductor appeared upon the scene, and began to expostulate loudly. No fighting and quarrelling are permitted." "Well, then, people must behave themselves," I retorted. "Don't let this chap annoy your passengers." "I have done nothing to annoy them," stammered the other. Get in there and stay there;" and with that I forced him, almost flung him, into his compartment, where he fell panting upon the velvet sofa. "You'd better keep an eye on him," I said to the conductor, who was inclined to be disagreeable, and was barely pacified by a couple of five-franc pieces. "Fellows of this sort are apt to be a nuisance, and we must take care of the ladies." As I said this I saw Mrs. Blair's face peering out beyond her door a little nervously, but she ventured to come right out and along the passage towards me.

In here?" and she followed the indication of my thumb as I jerked it back, and looked over my shoulder into the compartment. "Ah!" The ejaculation was involuntary, and one of acute painful surprise, the gesture that accompanied it spontaneous and full of terror. "He must not see me; let me go, let me go!" But her strength failed her, and but for my supporting arm she would have fallen to the ground. There was clearly a strong bond of affection between these two, possibly companions and confederates in wrong-doing; the delicate and refined woman, tormented by the inner qualms of outraged conscience, relied and leant upon the stronger and more resolute nature. There, there, don't give way," said the maid, softly coaxing her and stroking her hands. He is there! Falfani, the--the--you know--" Of course I saw it all now. I had puzzled my brains vainly trying to place him, to fix his quality and condition in life, neglecting the one simple obvious solution to which so many plain indications pointed.

The man, of course, was a detective, an officer or private agent, and his dirty business--you see, I was already shaken in my honesty, and now with increasing demoralization under seductive influences I was already inclined to cross over to the other side of the frontier of crime--his dirty business was the persecution of my sweet friend. It will be taken from us." "You cannot, you must not, shall not turn back now," said the maid with great determination.

Wouldn't it be better to slip out of the train at the first station and run away?" "He would do the same.

And how much the better should we be? It would be far worse; we should be much more at his mercy if we left the train. The journey would still have to be made; we must get to the end, the very end, or we'd better not have started." "He will know then, if he sticks to us. We cannot hide it from him, nor where we have taken it; we shall never be able to keep it, they will come and claim it and recover it;" and she cried hysterically: "I cannot see my way; it's all dark, black as night. I wish--I wish--" "That you had never done it?" quickly asked the maid; and I noticed a slight sarcasm in her tone that was not without its effect in bracing up and strengthening her companion's shattered nerves. I did it deliberately, counting the cost fully, and it shall be paid, however heavy it may be. It is not regret that tortures me, but the fear of failure when so near success." "We will succeed yet. Do not be cast down, my sweet dear." The maid patted her on the cheek with great affection. This gentleman, the colonel here, will help us, perhaps." "Will you?" Who could resist her pleading voice and shining eyes?

If I had had any scruples left I would have thrown them to the winds.

[The Statement of Domenico Falfani, confidential agent, made to his employers, Messrs. Becke and Co., of the Private Inquiry Offices, 279 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.] I propose, gentlemen, to set down here at length the story of my mission, and the events which befell me from the time I first received my instructions. The circumstances which led up to her disappearance and the partners of her flight are already well known to you. The only indication given me, as you are aware, was that I might take it for granted that she would go abroad and probably by the most direct route to the South, to Switzerland and across the Alps into Italy. My orders having only reached me in the early morning, the theft having presumably been committed during the night previous to Sunday, September 21, I was unable to ascertain through the tourist agencies whether any and what tickets had been booked in the directions indicated. My most urgent duty then was to watch the outgoing Continental trains, the first of which left Charing Cross for Dover and Calais at 9 A.M. I closely watched it therefore, and its passengers, and travelled with it to Cannon Street, where I continued my search, but without result. I was greatly helped in my quest by the not unusual fact noticeable on Sundays, that travellers abroad are few in number. I had no difficulty in satisfying myself that the lady and her party were not in this train, and I returned at once to Charing Cross in time for the second Continental train, the 10 A.M.

I had resolved to book myself by that as far as Amiens, for I knew that, once there, I should have reached a central point or junction, a sort of throat through which every train moving southward to Paris or Switzerland must pass. There remained, of course, the route via Dover by Ostend and through Brussels; but I had been informed by you that Ludovic Tiler, my colleague and coworker, was to undertake the inquiry on that line. It is part of my business to be thoroughly familiar with the Continental Bradshaw, and I soon ticked off the different trains that interested me.

There was first the 11 A.M. from Victoria by Dover and Calais, where it connected with the Paris express and the sleeping-car Engadine express, both of which run through Amiens, where, however, the latter branches off to Basle and beyond, with special cars for Lucerne, Zurich and Coire. Then came the 2.20 P.M. from Charing Cross to Folkestone, and so to Boulogne, Amiens and the rest, travelling the same road as the Engadine express. This was the last of the day service, as it gave most time, allowing people to start at the very latest moment, and I felt it quite probable that my lady would prefer to take it. I reached Amiens a little before 5 P.M., and I had a wait of half an hour for the first express from Calais. I was greatly disappointed when at last it appeared issuing from the tunnel, and passed me where I stood at the commencement of the platform, taking stock of each carriage as it passed. The train seemed to be quite empty; there were no passengers, so the officials, the conductors, informed me when I talked to them, sad and unhappy at the certain loss of tips. Only one of them had any luck, Jules l'Echelle, of the Lucerne sleeping-car, who had one or two people on board. The lady, quite a lady, a grande dame belle personne, tall, fine figure, well dressed; her companion no doubt her servant; the child, well, an ordinary child, an infant in arms.

I had them, I felt sure. There could be no mistaking this description. I held them in the hollow of my hand. Here they were in this car, and it would be all my own fault if they escaped me. It would be necessary only to verify my conclusions, to identify the lady according to the description and photograph given me. For the rest I knew what to do. As I have said, there was one other passenger, a gentleman, in the car, and I felt it would be prudent to make his acquaintance. No doubt I could tell at the first glance whether or not he was an ordinary traveller, or whether he was a friend and accomplice of the lady under observation. I was at great pains to be affable, to treat him with all the courtly consideration I have at command, and I flatter myself that in the matter of tact and good-breeding I do not yield to princes of the blood royal. The man was an absolute brute, abrupt, overbearing, rude.

I offered him a cigar (a Borneo of the best brand, at 10s. the hundred), and he not only refused it, but positively forbade me to smoke. There were ladies in the carriage, he said (this was the first reference made to them), and, when declining to be ordered about, I proposed to refer the question to themselves, he threw himself violently upon me and assaulted me brutally. Fortunately the attendant came to my rescue or I should have been seriously injured.

He lifted me into my compartment very kindly, and acted like an old friend, as indeed he was, for I remembered him as the Jules l'Echelle with whom I served some time back as an assistant at the Baths of Bormio. It was, of course, clear to my mind that my assailant was associated in some way with the lady, and probably a confederate. I saw that I must know more about him, with the least possible delay, and as soon as Jules had left me, promising to return later and talk of old times, and the changes that had come over us since then, I ventured to look out and get a glimpse of the other man, I will not call him gentleman after his conduct. He was nowhere in sight, but I could hear his voice, several voices, talking together at the far end. No doubt he had joined his friends in their compartment, and the moment seemed opportune to visit his.

It was next to mine, and the door stood invitingly open. At least he made no pretence at mystery; his light baggage lay about, a dressing bag, a roll of rugs, a couple of sticks and an umbrella strapped together, all very neat and precise and respectable, and all alike furnished with a parchment tag or label bearing in plain language all that I wanted to know.

Basil Annesley," and his club, the Mars and Neptune, that famous military house in Piccadilly. Underneath, on all, his destination was written, "Hotel Bellevue, Bellagio, Como." There could never be the least difficulty in finding this person if I wanted him, as I thought likely.

In my great contentment at the discovery I had been wanting in caution, and I lingered too long on forbidden ground. "You infernal scoundrel," cried some one from the door, and once more I felt an angry hand on my shoulder. Explain yourself." "It's all a mistake," I began, trying to make the best of it, struggling to get free. But he still held me in a grip of iron, and it was not until my friend Jules appeared that I got out of the enemy's clutches.

"The boot is on the other leg, I take it. The man's a thief. He will have to be locked up." "I'm not the only thief in the car, then," I cried, for I was now mad with him and his threats. "I don't know what you're driving at, or whom you think to accuse; but I tell you this, my friend, that I shall call in the police at the next station and hand you over." I looked at the conductor Jules, appealing for protection. I saw at once that it would be terrible for me to have any trouble with the police.

They could do me no harm, but I might be delayed, obliged to leave the train, and I should lose sight of the lady, possibly fail altogether. You might own the whole train. Who might you be?" "None of your confounded impudence," shouted the Colonel, as he pointed to one of the luggage labels. I have caught this man under suspicious circumstances in the very act of rifling my effects. I insist upon his being taken into custody." "There isn't enough for that," Jules answered, still my friend, but weakening a little before this masterly army officer, and I felt that I must speak for myself. "And if you stop me I will have the law of you for false imprisonment, and bring heavy damages. Enough that you will feel the weight of their hands if you interfere with me in carrying out their instructions." "Well, anyhow, tell me who you are. Is that the name he has given you?"--this to the conductor. "I have a clear right," I insisted, overruling all objections raised by the Colonel; and taking it into my hands I read the names aloud, "Colonel Annesley, Mrs. Blair, maid and child." I pronounced the name with great contempt.

No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. Blair; you may take that from me," I said as impressively as a judge on the bench. "And what's more, Colonel, I wouldn't press charges you can't substantiate against me, or I may hit back with another not so easy to meet. Try to stop me at the next station, and I'll stop your pal--ah, don't"--he had a cruelly strong hand--"your Mrs. Blair, and she'll find herself in a particularly tight place." "We'll see about that," said the Colonel, who kept a stiff face, but was, I think, rather crestfallen. Whatever may have been the Colonel's intentions when he caught me in his compartment, something, and I think my last words, led him to modify them. I ought to be able to hold my own with him, although in truth I was not over happy at the course events had taken, and I could not compliment myself on my good management. I had not been overprudent; I had pressed my attentions on him rather abruptly, although I had the excuse that I usually found them well received, thanks to my affable address; again I had behaved most incautiously in penetrating his identity. I could only surmise that the lady was the one I was in search of, for I had not as yet clapt eyes on her, and I had been to some extent driven to show my hand before I had made my ground good.

So the first thing I did on regaining my own compartment was to ring for Jules, the conductor, and put before him the photograph with which I was provided, and ask him if he recognized it. It is the lady yonder," he said promptly.

For the present you must know that I am after her; I have to watch her, stick to her like her shadow until it is time to act." "An adventuress, eh?" "She is in possession of what does not belong to her; something she abstracted from--from--Never mind where, and it must be recovered from her here, or after she leaves the car." "Afterwards, please. I could do it, say somewhere short of Basle, and on reaching there make off. No one should be any the wiser, and they, the women, wouldn't dare to make a fuss." "It's I who do not dare--not for twice five hundred francs. My place is worth more than that; and if it is a dog's life, it is better than lying on the straw. Besides, there's her friend the Colonel, he'll be on the alert, you may depend." "So must I be, and I must find some way to circumvent him. He sha'n't beat me, the overbearing, hectoring brute. I was not as clever as I thought, and shall have to tell you how seriously I had underrated his worth in the coming trial of strength. As the train sped on and the night began to close in on us, I remained quietly in my berth, pondering over my position, and in considering the course I should adopt under various contingencies.

The first and most serious danger was that the lady should succeed in leaving the train at any of the intermediate stations at Basle, and so give me the slip. There were Laon, Rheims, Chaumont, and the rest.

I did not look for any such attempt until far into the night, when the stations were empty and half-dark, and I agreed with Jules to divide the hours till daylight, he taking the first, I the last. We were due at Basle at 5 A.M., and I expected to join forces then with Tiler, my colleague, coming from the side of Ostend, via Brussels and Strasburg.

Meanwhile I kept quiet and made no sign beyond showing that I was there and on the spot ready to act if it should be necessary. Thus, when the train slackened speed on approaching a station, I was always on the move and the first to descend and patrol the platform. The Colonel always got out too, but he never accosted me; indeed, he seemed disposed to despise me, to ignore my existence, or dare me to the worst I could do. I suppose the lady must have been of the same mind, for when dinner-time arrived, she came boldly out of her compartment, and I met her face to face for the first time, on her way to the restaurant. I was standing at the door of my compartment. "Dinner is ready," the Colonel said to me significantly, but I did not choose to understand, and shook my head, holding my ground. One moment," he whispered to the lady, who walked on, and turned again to me: "Now see here, my friend, I do not mean to leave you behind. You will come to the dining-car with us, and no two ways about it, even if I have to carry you." "I won't dine with you," I cried. "You're going to dine under my eye, that's all, even though the sight of you is enough to make one sick. So come along, sharp's the word, see?

There was something in his manner that cowed me, and I was obliged in spite of myself to give way. There were only three of us in the dining-car, and we were not a very merry company.

Our tables were laid almost adjoining, and there was no conversation between us, except when the Colonel asked me with contemptuous civility what wine I preferred. He did not talk to the lady, or the merest commonplaces, for I was within earshot. Then I got back to my berth, where the bed was made. I threw myself on to it, rejoiced at the prospect of getting a few hours' sleep while Jules remained on the watch. I slept heavily, but in fitful snatches, as a man does when constantly disturbed by the whirr and whizzing of the train, the rattle and jangle of wheels passing over ill-jointed points. After one of the longest periods of unconsciousness I awoke, aroused by the complete absence of noise.

The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt. Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle. I thought I recognized the station, but I soon made out for certain the name "Basilea" (Basle), and saw the clock with the fingers at five-thirty.

People were already on the move, work-people, the thrifty, industrious Swiss, forestalling time, travellers in twos and threes arriving and departing by the early train through this great junction on the frontier of Switzerland. Who are those crossing the platform hurriedly. Right under my eyes, a little party of four, two females, two men accompanying them, escorting them, carrying rugs and parcels. There could not be a shadow of doubt. It was the lady, the so-called Mrs. Blair, in full flight, with all her belongings, and under the care and guidance not only of the Colonel, that of course, but also of the perfidious Jules l'Echelle. All doubt of his treachery disappeared when on rushing to the door I found I had been locked into my compartment.

I rang the electric bell frantically, again and again. I got no answer; I threw up the window and thrust my head out, shouting for help, but got none, only one or two sluggish porters came up and asked what was amiss, answering stolidly, when they heard, that it was none of their business. "They had no key, it must be a mistake. The conductor would explain, I must wait till he came." Presently Jules arrived, walking very leisurely from the direction of the restaurant, and he stood right under my window with a grin on his face and mockery in his voice. I believe it was your trickery from the first. I must get out, I tell you, or they will escape me," I cried. I may say it is pretty certain they will. That was the Colonel's idea; you'd better talk to him about it next time you see him." "And that will be never, I expect. He's not going to show up here again." "There you're wrong; he will be back before the train starts, you may rely on that, and you'll be able to talk to him. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was.

The railway officials at Basle might have interfered, but Jules answered for me, declaring with a significant gesture that I was in drink and that he would see to me. Already the train was moving out of the station, when, to my intense joy, I caught sight of Ludovic Tiler, who came down the platform running alongside us, and crying, "Falfani, Falfani," as he recognized me. She's in the restaurant. You'll easily know her, in a long ulster, with her maid and the child. By the Lord, she is standing at the door! The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot. I had failed, myself, but I hoped that with my lead he would get on to the scent and keep to it. Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler's intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side. If the Colonel knew that another man was on his friend's track, he would surely have left the train at once so as to go to her assistance.

But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler's existence.

I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l'Echelle came with the Colonel to release me. "As for you, l'Echelle, it shall cost you your place, and I'll take the law of you, Colonel Annesley; I'll get damages and you shall answer for your illegal action." "Pfui!" retorted the Colonel. "The mischief you can do is nothing to what you might have done. We can stand the racket. I've bested you for the present--that's the chief thing, anyway.

You can't persecute the poor lady any more." "Poor lady! "If you dare to utter a single word against that lady, I'll break every bone in your body." "I'm saying nothing--it's not me, it's all the world. It was in the papers, you must have read them, the most awful story, such--such depravity there never was--such treachery, such gross misconduct." He caught me by the arm so violently and looked so fierce that for a moment I was quite alarmed. Leave the lady alone, both by word and deed. You've collared me for a bit, but I'm not the only one in the show." "The only one that counts," he said sneering. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone. "What if I had a pal waiting for me at Basle, who received my instructions there--just when you thought you had me safe--and has now taken up the running?" He was perfectly staggered at this, I could see plainly. "You infernal villain," he shouted, "I believe the whole thing is a confounded lie! I only account to them for my conduct.

But he looked me very straight in the eyes.

Give up the whole business; you will only burn your fingers." "Ah! How so?" "The law is altogether against you. "Tell that to the Courts and to the Judge when you are prosecuted for contempt and charged as an accessory after the fact. It will take the starch out of you." "Rot! The law can't do us much harm. The only person who might make it disagreeable is Lord Blackadder, and I snap my fingers at him." "The Earl of Blackadder? He has been made the victim of an abominable outrage, and will spare no effort, no means, no money to recover his own." "Lord Blackadder is a cad--a cruel, cowardly ruffian.

It would give me the greatest pleasure to kick him down the street. All must depend on what I heard there--upon what news, if any, came from Ludovic Tiler. So on my arrival I made my way straight to the telegraph-office in the corner of the great station, and on showing my card an envelope was handed to me. It was from Tiler at Basle, and ran as follows: "They have booked through by 7.30 A.M., via Brienne, Lausanne to Brieg, and I suppose the Simplon. Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola? The sooner the better. Wire me from all places along the route, giving your movements. 70." The news pointed pretty clearly to the passage of the Alps and descent into Italy by another route than the St. I had my Bradshaw in my bag, and proceeded at once to verify the itinerary by the time-table, while I drank my early coffee in the restaurant upon the station platform.

I was most anxious to join hands with Tiler, and quickly turned over the leaves of my railway guide to see if it was possible, and how it might best be managed. My first idea was to retrace my steps to Basle and follow him by the same road. But I soon found that the trains would not fit in the very least. He would be travelling by the one fast train in the day, which was due at Brieg at four o'clock in the afternoon. My first chance, if I caught the very next train back from Lucerne, would only get me to Brieg by the eleven o'clock the following morning. It was not good enough, and I dismissed the idea forthwith. Then I remembered that by getting off the St. Gothard railway at Goeschenen I should strike the old Furka diligence route by the Devil's Bridge, Hospenthal, and the Rhone Glacier, a drive of fifty miles, more or less, but at least it would get me to Brieg that same night by 10 or 11 o'clock. Before adopting this line I had to consider that there was a risk of missing Tiler and his quarry; that is to say, of being too late for them; for the lady might decide to push on directly she reached Brieg, taking a special carriage extra post as far as the Simplon at least, even into Domo Dossola.

She was presumably in such a hurry that the night journey would hardly deter her from driving over the pass. By the time I reached Brieg they would be halfway across the Alps, and I must take the same road, making a stern chase, proverbially the longest. I turned my attention, therefore, to the Italian end of the carriage road, and to seeing how and when I could reach Domo Dossola, the alternative suggestion made by Tiler. There would be no difficulty as to that, and I found I could be there in good time the same evening. I worked it out on the tables and it looked easy enough. Leave Lucerne by the St. Gothard railway, pass Goeschenen, and go through the tunnel down the Italian side as far as Bellizona.

Thence a branch line would take me to Locarno and into touch with the steamboat service on Lake Maggiore. There was a fixed connection according to the tables, and I should land at Pallanza within a short hour's drive of the line to Domo Dossola. I could be established there by nightfall and would command the situation. Every carriage that came down the Simplon must come under my eye. There could be no doubt that the Bellizona-Locarno Lake line was the preferable one, and I finally decided in favour of it. I closed my Bradshaw with a bang, replaced it in my bag, drank up my coffee, and started for the telegraph office. I meant to advise Tiler of my plans, and at the same time arrange with him to look out for me just outside the terminus station at Domo Dossola, or to communicate with me there at the Hôtel de la Poste. On coming out I ran up against the last person I wished to see.

It was the Colonel, who greeted me with a loud laugh, and gave me a slap on the back.

Well, what's the next move?" "I decline to hold any conversation with you," I began severely. There are police about, and the Swiss police do not approve of brawling," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. "Come, Falfani, tell me what you mean to do now," he went on in the same tone. We are inseparables, you and I, as much united as the Siamese twins. I shall appeal for protection to the authorities." "Do so, my friend, do so. See which will get the best of that. I don't want to swagger, but at any rate all the world knows pretty well who I am; but what shall you call yourself, Mr.

Falfani?" "I have my credentials from my employers; I have letters, testimonials, recommendations from the best people." "Including the Earl of Blackadder, I presume? You may get the best of it in the long run, but you'll lose a good deal of time. I must throw dust in his eyes, put him off the scent, mislead, befool, elude him somehow. The time was drawing on for the departure of the St. I had booked at Amiens as far as Lucerne only, leaving further plans as events might fall out. He would be certain to be within earshot when I went up to the window. "See that gentleman," I nodded towards the Colonel. "He wants you; do your best for him." And when the tourist agent proceeded on his mission to be accosted, I fear rather unceremoniously, I slipped off and hid out of sight.

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. On looking round I saw Jules l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, but out of uniform, and with an amused grin on his face. How about your service on the car?" I asked suspiciously. His business was the Colonel's, who had set him to assist in watching me.

I had two enemies then to encounter, and I realized with some misgiving that the Colonel was not a man to be despised.

I secured a place with difficulty; there was rather a rush for the St. It was composed as usual of corridor carriages, all classes en suite, and I knew that it would be impossible to conceal the fact that I was on board the train. Within five minutes Jules had verified the fact and taken seats in the immediate neighbourhood, to which he and the Colonel presently came. Many excursions, especially by steamer; the Borromean islands well worth seeing, and Baveno and Stresa and the road to the Simplon." I refused to be drawn, and only muttered that I hated excursions and steamers and lakes, and wished to be left in peace. Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? I took the Colonel's hint, and pretended to take refuge in sleep, and at last, I believe, I dozed off. It was suggested to me by the short tunnels that succeed so frequently in the ascent of the St. They are, as most people know, a chief feature in the mountain railway, and a marvel of engineering skill, being cut in circles to give the necessary length and gain the height with a moderate gradient. Speed is so far slackened that it would be quite possible to drop off the train without injury whenever inclined.

I nursed my project with eyes shut, still feigning sleep; and my extreme quiescence had, as I hoped, the effect of throwing them off their guard. Jules, like all in the same employment, was always ready for forty winks, and I saw that he was sound and snoring just as we entered the last tunnel before reaching the entrance of the final great tunnel at Goeschenen. I could not be quite sure of the Colonel, but his attitude was that of a man resting, and who had very nearly lost himself, if he had not quite gone off. Fortunately we sat at the extreme end of a coach, in the last places, and besides we three there was only one other occupant in the compartment of six. The fourth passenger was awake, but I made a bid for his good-will by touching my lips with a finger, and the next minute I was gone.

I expected to hear the alarm given at my disappearance, but none reached my ears, as the train rattled past me with its twinkling lights and noisy road. I held myself close against the side of the tunnel in perfect safety, although the hot wind of the passing cars fanned my cheek and rather terrified me. The moment the train was well gone I faced the glimmering light that showed the entrance to the tunnel at the further end from the station, and ran to it with all speed. I knew that my jump from the train could not pass unnoticed, and I counted on being followed. I expected that the tunnel would be explored by people from Goeschenen so soon as the train ran in and reported.

My first object, therefore, was to quit the line, and I did so directly I was clear of the tunnel. I climbed the fence, dropped into a road, left that again to ascend the slope and take shelter among the rocks and trees. The pursuit, if any, was not very keen or long maintained.

When all was quiet, an hour later I made for the highroad, the famous old road that leads through the Devil's Pass to Andermatt, three miles above. I altogether avoided the Goeschenen station, fearing any inconvenient inquiries, and abandoned all idea of getting the telegram from Tiler that might be possibly awaiting me. I should be obliged now to send him fresh news, news of the changed plans that took me direct into Brieg; and on entering Andermatt I came upon the post-office, just where I wanted it, both to send my message and order an extra post carriage from Brieg. It was with a sense of intense relief that I sank back into the cushions and felt that at last I was free. Long before I reached Hospenthal, a mile or so from Andermatt, I was disturbed by strange cries to the accompaniment of harness bells.

"Yo-icks, Yo-icks, G-o-ne away!" was borne after me with all the force of stentorian lungs, and looking round I saw to my horror a second carriage coming on at top speed, and beyond all question aiming to overtake us. Soon they drew nearer, near enough for speech, and the accursed Colonel hailed me. Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer.

"Going all the way to Brieg by road, I believe? It's all in the day's work." With that I desired my driver to pull up, and waved my hand to the others, motioning to them that the road was theirs. But when I stopped they stopped, and the Colonel jeered. When I drove on they came along too, laughing. We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St.

Gothard, the other leading to the Furka, I took the first for a short distance, then turned back, just to try my pursuers. They still stuck to me. He had collared me, he was on my back, and I felt that I must throw up the sponge.

"I gave you fair notice that you would not get rid of me, and by heaven you shall not," he cried fiercely, putting off all at once the lighter mockery of his tone. You think to find your confederate there, and you hope that, combined, the two of you will get the better of that lady. I must get in touch with him at the earliest possible moment and my nearest way to him, situated as I was now, must be at or through Brieg. We pulled up for luncheon and a short rest at the Furka; again in the afternoon at the Rhone Glacier.

Then we pursued our way all along the valley, with the great snow peak of the Matterhorn in front of us, through village and hamlet, in the fast fading light, and so on under the dark but luminous sky into Munster, Fiesch, and Morel, till at length we rolled into Brieg about 11 P.M. I drove straight to the Hôtel de la Poste, careless that my tormentors were accompanying me; they could do me no more harm, and Tiler was at hand to help in vindicating our position. There was no Tiler at the Hôtel de la Poste; no Tiler in Brieg. Wait there or leave address." My face must have betrayed my abject despair. I was so completely knocked over that I offered no opposition when the Colonel impudently took the telegram out of my hand and read it coolly. "By the Lord Harry, that's good." CHAPTER X.

I travelled via Ostend, Brussels and Strasburg, and was due at Basle from that side at 4.35 A.M. My instructions were to look out for Falfani there, and thought I might do so if our train was fairly punctual, as it was.

We were "on time," and the answer to my first question was that the Lucerne express was still at the platform, but on the point of departure. He was in trouble himself; they had nipped him, caught him tight, and thrown him off the scent. I was now to take up the running. "You've got your chance now, Ludovic," he said hurriedly, as he leaned out of the carriage window. She's got the wiles of the devil, and will sell you like a dog if you don't mind.

Hurry now; you'll pick her up in the waiting-room or restaurant, and can't miss her." He gave me the description, and I left him, promising him a wire at the telegraph office, Lucerne.

He was right, there was no mistaking her. Few people were about at that time in the morning, and there was not a soul among the plain-headed, commonplace Swiss folk to compare with her, an English lady with her belongings. She was quite a beauty, tall, straight, lissom, in her tight-fitting ulster; her piquante-looking heather cap perched on chestnut curls, and setting off as handsome a face as I have ever seen. And I have seen and admired many, for I don't deny that I've a strong penchant for pretty women, and this was the pick of the basket. It was rather a bore to be put on to her in the way of business; but why should I not get a little pleasure out of it if I could?

I need not be disagreeable; it might help matters and pass the time pleasantly, even if in the end I might have to show my teeth. I saw her looking me over as I walked into the waiting-room, curiously, critically, and for a moment I fancied she guessed who I was.

If so--if she thought me one of her persecutors--she would hardly look upon me without repugnance, yet I almost believed it was all the other way.

I had an idea that she did not altogether dislike me, that she was pleased with my personal appearance. I had had my successes in my time, and may say, although it sounds conceited, that I had won the approval of other ladies quite as high-toned. In the meantime it would be amusing, enjoyable, to make friends. So far I had still to ascertain the direction in which she was bound. That might be safely inferred, for she was in the waiting-room with her porter and her bags, ready to pass out upon the platform as soon as the doors were opened.

(Everyone knows that the idiotic and uncomfortable practice still prevails in Switzerland of shutting passengers off from the train till the very last moment.) This waiting-room served for many lines, and I could only wait patiently to enter the particular train for which she would be summoned. When at length an official unlocked the door and announced the train for Biel, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, and Brieg, she got up to take her seat, and I had no longer any doubt as to the direction of her journey. So as I saw her go, I slipped back to the ticket-office and took my place all the way to Brieg, the furthest point on the line. This was obviously my best and safest plan, as I should then be ready for anything that happened. After getting my ticket I found time to telegraph to Falfani at Lucerne, giving him my latest news, and then proceeded to the train.

I found the lady easily enough, and got into the same carriage with her. It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. Although the seat I chose was at a discreet distance, I was able to keep her in view. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope. One of the Swiss guards of the train, a surly, overbearing brute, like so many others of his class, accosted her rudely, and from his gestures was evidently taking her to task as to the number and size of her parcels in the net above.

He began to shift them, and, despite her indignant protests in imperfect German, threw some of them on the floor. I hurried to the rescue, and, being fluent in German as in several other languages--it is part of my stock in trade--I sharply reproved the guard and called him an unmannerly boor for his cowardly treatment of an unprotected lady. She responded quickly, readily, and I thought I might improve the occasion by politely inquiring if I could be of any further service to her.

"Perhaps you can tell me, you see I am strange on this line," she answered with a perfectly innocent air, "do you happen to know at what time we are due at Lausanne?" "Not to the minute," I replied. I had not the slightest suspicion that she was playing with me. Silly ass that I was, I failed to detect the warning that dropped from her own lips. When I got back with the Bradshaw I came upon them for just one moment unawares. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity.

It is the only way." Then she caught sight of me as I stood before her, and her manner instantly changed.

She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. Lausanne I think you said?" I asked casually as I turned over the pages of the guide.

I only wanted to know whether there would be time for déjeuner at Lausanne. I think there is no dining-car on this train?" "No, it is on the next, which is extraordinarily bad mismanagement. It is a slow train the next, and we are a special express.

It depends upon my meeting friends somewhere on the lake, either there or further on. If they come on board we shall run on to Brieg so as to drop over the Alps to Lake Maggiore by the Simplon route." I threw this out carelessly but with deliberate intention, and the shot told. I had not the smallest doubt that this was her plan also. She was bound to cross over into Italy, that we knew, or our employers firmly believed it, and as she had been driven off the St. Gothard by Falfani she had now doubled back by Switzerland to make the journey to Brieg and across the mountains by road. I had scored as I thought, but I forgot that in gaining the knowledge I had betrayed my own intentions, and put her upon her guard. How long does it take, have you any idea, and how do you travel?" "It is about nine hours by diligence," I said, consulting the Bradshaw, "and the fare is forty francs, but by private carriage or extra post a good deal more." "May I look?" and I handed her the book, "although I never could understand Bradshaw," she added pleasantly. "I shall be very pleased to explain if you are in doubt," I suggested; but she declined laughingly, saying it would amuse her to puzzle out things, so I left her the book and composed myself into a corner while the train rattled on.

I mused and dozed and dreamily watched her pretty face admiringly, as she pored over the pages of the Guide, little thinking she was perfecting a plan for my undoing. The first stop was at Biel or Bienne, its French name, and there was a halt of ten minutes or more. I made my way to the telegraph office in the station, where to my great satisfaction I found a message from Falfani, informing me that he should make the best of his way to Brieg, unless I could suggest something better. The answer I despatched at once to Goeschenen was worded as follows: "Declares she is going to Montreux only. Come on there anyhow and await further from me. I was well satisfied with what we were doing, and on receiving the second and third telegrams at Neuchâtel and Yverdun I was all the more pleased. The smile that came upon her lips was so pleasant and sweet that it might have overjoyed a more conceited man than myself. "Are we near then? I never was so hungry in my life," and the smile expanded into a gay laugh as she rose to her feet and was ready to leave the carriage. "I'm afraid you will have to wait, Philpotts, we cannot leave that," she pointed to the child nestling sound asleep by her side.

This gentleman will perhaps escort me to the refreshment-room." I agreed, of course, and saying, "Only too charmed," I led the way--a long way, for the restaurant is at the far end of the platform. At last we sat down tête-à-tête and prepared to do full justice to the meal. "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. Come and help me choose," and in duty bound I gallantly carried the food back to the train.

I walked ahead briskly, and making my way to the places where we had left the maid and child, jumped in. They were gone, the two of them. The seats were empty, and as the compartment was quite empty, too, no one could tell me when they had left or where they had gone. For the moment I was dazed and dumfounded, but I took a pull on myself quickly.

Had they sold me completely? My one chance was in prompt action; I must hunt them up, recover trace of them with all possible despatch, follow them, and find them wherever they might be. There was just the chance that they had only moved into another carriage, thinking that when I missed them I should get out and hunt for them in the station. To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere. So eager was I that I neglected the ordinary warnings that the train was about to start; the guard's fertig ("ready"), the sounding horn, the answering engine whistle, I overlooked them all, and we moved on before I could descend. Nein, nein, verboten." A hand caught me roughly by the collar and dragged me back. It was the enemy I had made in championing my lady, the guard of the train, who gladly seized the chance of being disagreeable to me.

I fought hard to be free, but by the time I had shaken him off the speed had so increased that it would have been unsafe to leave the train. Fortunately our first stop was within five and twenty minutes, at Vevey; and there in ten minutes more I found a train back to Lausanne, so that I had lost less than an hour and a half in all. It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. My first business was to inquire in and about the station for a person or persons answering to the parties I missed. Had they separated, these two women, for good and all? If the maid had gone off first, I had to consider whether they would not again join forces as soon as I was well out of the way. They would surely feel safer, happier, together, and this encouraged me to ask first for two people, two females, a lady and her servant, one of them, the latter, carrying a child. There were many officials about in uniform, and all alike supercilious and indifferent, after the manner of their class, to the travelling public, and I could get none to take the smallest interest in my affairs.

One shrugged his shoulders, another stared at me in insolent silence, a third answered me abruptly that he was too occupied to bother himself, and a fourth peremptorily ordered me not to hang any longer about the station. Foiled thus by the railway staff--and I desire to place on record here my deliberate opinion after many years' experience in many lands, that for rudeness and overbearing manners the Swiss functionary has no equal in the whole world--I went outside the station and sought information among the cabmen and touts who hang about waiting to take up travellers. I accosted all the drivers patiently one by one, but could gather nothing definite from any of them. Most had been on the stand at the arrival of the midday train, many had been engaged to convey passengers and baggage up into the town of Lausanne, and had deposited their fares at various hotels and private residences, but no one had driven any party answering to those of whom I was in search.

This practically decided the point that my lady had not left the station in a carriage or openly, if she had walked. But that she had not been observed did not dispose of the question. They were dull, stupid men, these, only intent on their own business, who would pay little attention to humble persons on foot showing no desire to hire a cab. A confidential agent who will not take infinite pains in his researches had better seek some other line of business. As I stood there in front of the great station belonging to the Jura-Simplon, I saw facing me a small façade of the Gare Sainte Luce, one of the intermediate stations on the Ficelle or cable railway that connects Ouchy on the lake with Lausanne above. It was not a hundred yards distant; it could be easily and quickly reached, and without much observation, if a person waited till the immediate neighbourhood had been cleared by the general exodus after the arrival of the chief express of the day.

There were any number of trains by this funiculaire--at every half-hour indeed--and any one taking this route could reach either Lausanne or Ouchy after a very few minutes' journey up or down. I was only too conscious of my great loss of time, now at the outset, which might efface all tracks and cut me off hopelessly from any clue. I was soon across and inside the Sainte Luce station, but still undecided which direction I should choose, when the little car arrived going upward, and I ran over to that platform and jumped in.

I must begin one way or the other, and I proceeded at once to question the conductor, when he nicked my ticket, only to draw perfectly blank. It is idiote to ask such questions, monsieur, of a busy man." "I can pay for what I want," I whispered gently, as I slipped a five-franc piece into his hand, ever mindful of the true saying, Point d'argent, point de Suisse; and the bribe entirely changed his tone. Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not--" he dropped his voice--"not for five francs." I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue. But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, "if," he added cunningly, "it was not Ouchy." But he had seen her, that was sure--seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before. he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, "diable, who could say?" I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry. She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand. I resolved to inquire at all the hotels forthwith.

I must run her to ground if possible, fix her once more, or I should never again dare to look my employers in the face. I was now upon the great bridge that spans the valley of the Flon and joins the old with the new quarter of Lausanne. The best hotels, the Gibbon, Richemont, Falcon, Grand Pont, and several more, stood within easy reach, and I soon exhausted this branch of the inquiry. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address--Eugène Falloon, Rue Pré Fleuri--where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus. On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news. The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy." "And on board the steamer? "He shall tell you himself if I can find him when we reach the terminus. It may not be easy, but I could do it if--" Another and a third five-franc piece solved his doubts, and I abandoned my visit to the terminus hotel to seize this more tangible clue, and proceeded at once to the lake shore.

On reaching the steamboat pier I was introduced to the porter, a shock-headed, stupid-looking creature, whom I forthwith questioned eagerly; but elicited only vague and, I felt sure, misleading replies. The conductor assisted at my interview, stimulating and encouraging the man to speak, and overdid it, as I thought. I strongly suspected that this new evidence had been produced in order to bleed me further. Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse? How dressed, and did he suppose her condition to be that of a lady like the other, equal in rank, or an inferior? The answers I got were not encouraging. Of course they were ladies, both of them. In the very latest fashion.

They were very distinguished people.

"Were they carrying anything, either of them?" I inquired. "Yes, when I saw them first they had much baggage. It was for that they summoned me.

Handbags, sacs de nuit, rugs, wrappers, bonnet-boxes, many things, like all travellers." "And you noticed nothing big, no parcel for which they were particularly concerned?" "They were anxious about everything, and worried me about everything, but about no one thing especially that I can remember." This did not tally with my own observation and the extreme care taken of the child in the woman's arms. I did not look at the clock." "But you know by the steamers that arrive. You men must know which are due, and when they pass through." "Come, come, Antoine," broke in the conductor, determined to give him a lead, "you must know that; there are not so many. It would be about 2 P.M., wouldn't it, when the express boat comes from Vevey and Bouveret?" "Yes, I make no doubt of that," said the man, with a gleam of intelligence upon his stolid face. "And the ladies went on board it, you say? You are sure?" "It must have been so; I certainly carried their traps on board." "Now, are you quite positive it was the two o'clock going that way, and not the quarter past two returning from Geneva?" I had my Bradshaw handy, and was following the time-table with my fingers. "The 2.15?" The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face. You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier. I could easily make a mistake between them." "It is my firm belief," I said, utterly disgusted with the fellow, "my firm belief that you have made a mistake all through. You never saw the ladies at all, either of you." I turned upon the conductor with a fierce scowl.

I've a precious good mind to report you to your superiors, and insist upon your refunding the money. My superiors will always listen first to one of their own employés, and it will be awkward if I charge you with obstructing an official and making false charges against him." Mine is a hasty temper; I am constrained to confess to a fault which often stood in my way especially in my particular business. The conductor's insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Without another word I rushed at him, caught him by the throat, and shook him violently, throwing him to the ground and beating his head upon it savagely.

I was quickly removed like any malefactor to the lock-up in the town above, and was thus for the moment effectively precluded from continuing my pursuit. Law and order are not to be lightly trifled with in Switzerland, least of all in the Canton de Vaud. I had been taken in the very act of committing a savage assault upon an official in the execution of his duty, which is true to the extent that every Swiss official conceives it to be his duty to outrage the feelings and tyrannize over inoffensive strangers. The police of Lausanne showed me little consideration. I was not permitted to answer the charge against me, but was at once consigned to a cell, having been first searched and despoiled of all my possessions. Among them was my knife and a pocket revolver I generally carried, also my purse, my wallet with all my private papers, and my handbag. Both wallet and handbag were locked; they demanded the keys, thinking I had them hidden on my person, but I said they could find them for themselves, the truth being the locks were on a patent plan and could be opened with the fingers by any one who knew. My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it. I offered him any money in reason, I would pay any sum they might fix, pay down on the nail and give my bond for the rest.

My gaolers scouted the proposal indignantly. It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely.

Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? what could I produce in cash on the nail? My bond would not be worth the paper it was written on. No, no, there was no chance for me; nothing could save me. I must go before the correctional police and pay in person for my offence. I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more. I appealed to the British Consul; I insisted upon seeing him. When they laughed at me, saying that he would not interfere with the course of justice on behalf of such an unknown vagabond, I told them roundly that I was travelling under the special protection of the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, the illustrious Marquis of Lansdowne. Let them bring me my wallet.

I would show them my passport bearing the Royal Arms and the signature of one of H.M. All of us in the employ of Messrs. Becke invariably carried Foreign Office passports as the best credentials we could produce if we were caught in any tight place. The greeting of so great a personage to his trusty and well beloved Ludovic Tiler had a very marked effect upon my captors. It was enhanced by the sight of a parcel of crisp Bank of England notes lying snugly in the pocket of the wallet, which I had opened, but without betraying the secret of the spring. When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release. I was promised dinner from a restaurant hard by, and was permitted to send a brief telegram to Falfani, to the effect that I was detained at Lausanne by unforeseen circumstances, but no more. Then bedding was brought in, on which, after a night in the train, I managed to sleep soundly enough until quite late next morning. I had summoned Eugène Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened. He was prompt and practical, and proceeded to perform the commissions I gave him with all despatch.

I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke's have friends and correspondents in every city of the world. He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice. I had been warned that I might expect to be examined that very day, but that several were likely to elapse before the final disposal of my case. All that forenoon, and quite late into the next day, I was left brooding and chafing at my misfortune, self-inflicted I will confess, but not the less irksome to bear. I had almost persuaded myself that I should be left to languish here quite friendless and forgotten, when the luck turned suddenly, and daylight broke in to disperse my gloomy forebodings. First came the Consul, and with him an intelligent Swiss advocate, who declared he would soon put matters right. That was the only question.

And while we still discussed it we found amongst the callers a respectable and well-to-do watchmaker from Geneva, who had been entreated (no doubt from Becke's) to do all that was needful on my behalf. I might be of good cheer; there was no reasonable doubt but that I should be released, but hardly before next day. A second night in durance was not much to my taste, but I bore it with as much resignation as I could command; and when next morning I appeared before the Court, I paid my fine of one hundred francs with hearty good-will. I assured my bail, the friendly watchmaker, that he need not have the smallest fear I should again commit myself. My spirits rose with my release, but there was still more than freedom to encourage my light-heartedness. Falloon had come upon undoubted evidence that she had never left the great Jura-Simplon station, but had remained quietly out of sight in the "ladies' waiting-room" until the next train left for Geneva. This was at 1.35 P.M., and she must have slipped away right under my eyes into the very train which had brought me back from Vevey. So near are the chances encountered in such a profession as ours. Falloon had only ascertained this positively on the second day of my detention, but with it the information that only two first-class tickets, both for Geneva, had been issued by that train. To make it all sure he had taken the precaution to ask at all the stations along the line at which the train had stopped, seven in number, and had learned that no persons answering to my ladies had alighted at any of them.

So my search was carried now to Geneva, and it might be possible to come upon my people there, although I was not oversanguine. I knew something of the place. I had been there more than once, had stayed some time, and I knew too well that it is a city with many issues, many facilities for travelling, and, as they had so much reason for moving on rapidly, the chances were that they would have already escaped me. We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. The party had certainly been seen at this very station. Two ladies, one tall, the other short, with a baby. They had gone no further then; they had not returned to the station since. But there was a second station, the Gare des Vollondes, at the opposite end of the city, from which ran the short line to Bouveret on the south shore of the lake, and I sent Falloon there to inquire, giving him a rendezvous an hour later at the Café de la Couronne on the Quai du Lac. Meanwhile I meant to take all the hotels in regular order, and began with those of the first class on the right bank, the Beau Rivage, the Russie, de la Paix, National, Des Bergues, and the rest. As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole.

Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction.

It was the lady herself. She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot. At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. My lady made up her mind then and there, and as it paused she boarded it with one quick, agile spring. With no less prompt decision I followed her, and we entered the car almost simultaneously.

There were only two seats vacant and, curiously enough, face to face. "Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. The truth was my child had been suddenly taken ill and the nurse had to leave the train hurriedly. "But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake," she continued.

I begin to like the place, and I have found very comfortable quarters at the Hôtel Cornavin, near the station. There was surely some pitfall, some trap concealed for my abounding credulity. "The accommodation is good, nice rooms, civil people, decent cuisine. The tram-car by this time had run through the Place Molard, the Allemand Marché, and was turning into the Rue de la Corraterie, pointing upward for the theatre and the Promenade des Bastions.

She settled the question by getting out at the Place Neuve with a few parting words. Do try the Cornavin. What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there? I could not afford to let her out of my sight, and with one spring I also left the car and, catching a last glimpse of her retreating skirts, gave chase. I cannot say whether she realized that I was following, but she led me a pretty dance. In and out, and round and round, by narrow streets and dark passages, backwards and forwards, as adroitly as any practised thief eluding the hot pursuit of the police. At last she paused and looked back, and thinking she had shaken me off (for knowing the game well I had hastily effaced myself in a doorway) plunged into the entrance of a small unpretending hotel in a quiet, retired square--the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, certainly not the Cornavin. The door in which I had taken shelter was that of a dark third-rate café well suited to my purpose, and well placed, for I was in full view of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, which I was resolved to watch at least until my lady came out again. As I slowly absorbed an absinthe, revolving events past and to come, I thought it would be well to draw Falloon to me.

It was past the hour for our meeting. I scribbled three lines of a note and despatched it to the Café de la Couronne by a messenger to whom I fully described my colleague's appearance, desiring him to show the addressed envelope before delivery, but having no doubt that it would reach its destination. Presently Falloon joined me, and as my lady had as yet made no sign, I bade him continue the watch, while I left the café openly and ostentatiously, so that it might be seen by any one curious to know that I had given up the game. I designed only to try the Hôtel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable. There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel.

I was told directly I asked at the bureau that a Mrs. Blair, accompanied by her maid and child, was staying in the house. She was not at home for the moment. I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand. I secured a room at the Cornavin Hôtel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once.

With this idea I took the earliest opportunity of telegraphing to him as follows: "Detained by unfortunate contretemps at Lausanne, happily surmounted, clue lost and regained. "LUDOVIC." I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M.

It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. Combined we could tie ourselves to our quarry, and never let her out of sight until our principals could take over and settle the business.

Then hailing a cab, I drove to a point close by where I had left Falloon, and found the situation entirely unchanged. No one had come out of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio. All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me. The more I tortured my brain to consider how, the less I was able to fathom her intentions. The time ran on, and I thought it would be prudent to return to my own hotel.

Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying. Falloon should stand his ground where he was, but I fully impressed upon him the importance of the duty entrusted to him. Blair had not returned when the table d'hôte bell rang at the Cornavin, but I had hardly swallowed the first spoonful of soup when Falloon appeared, hot and flurried, with very startling news. "Already her carriage enters the station--without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere." I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. There she was ahead of me, quite unmistakable, walking quickly, with her fine upright figure clad in the same pearl gray ulster she had worn in the tram-car. She passed through the open doors of the waiting-room on to the platform where the train was waiting with engine attached.

"The 7.35 for Culoz and beyond by Amberieu to Paris," I was informed on inquiry. "A double back," I concluded on the spot. In another minute or two she would have eluded me once more. As we were on the point of starting, I scribbled a few lines on a leaf torn from my pocket-book to inform Falfani of my hasty departure and the reason for it. This I folded carefully and addressed to him, entrusting it to Falloon, who was to seek out my colleague at the Hôtel Cornavin after the arrival of the late train from Brieg, and deliver it. At the same time I handed Falloon a substantial fee, but desired him to offer his services to Falfani.

I saw no more of the lady. She did not show at Bellegarde when the French Customs' examination took place, nor yet at Culoz, and I believed she was now committed to the journey northward.

But as I was dozing in my place and the train slowed on entering Amberieu, the guard whom I had suborned came to me with a hurried call. Madame has descended and is just leaving the station. No doubt for the Hôtel de France, just opposite." There she was indeed with all her belongings.

(How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. I quickened my pace and entered the hotel almost simultaneously with her. Ranging up alongside I said, not without exultation: "Geneva was not so much to your taste, then? You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. She was so closely veiled that I could not see her face, but it was the same figure, the same costume, the same air. No fear." I meant to spend the night on guard, watching and waiting till I was relieved by the arrival of the others, to whom I telegraphed without delay. I left my narrative at the moment when I had promised my help to the lady I found in such distress in the Engadine express. I promised it unconditionally, and although there were circumstances in her case to engender suspicion, I resolutely ignored them. It was her secret, and I was bound to respect it, content to await the explanation I felt sure she could make when so minded.

It was at dinner in the dining-car, under the eyes of her persecutor, that we arranged to give him the slip at Basle. As may be supposed I rejoiced greatly on reaching Brieg to find that Falfani had been bitterly disappointed. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne. He said he had lost "her," the lady of course. I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out. She certainly had not reached Brieg, for with my ally l'Echelle we searched the town for news of her that night and again next morning. The situation was embarrassing.

I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief. One of us, l'Echelle or myself, continually watched him all that day, the third of this curious imbroglio into which I was plunged. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room. When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed. "I'll appeal to the law, I'll denounce you to the authorities, I'll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment.

I loathe and detest you. "I am the representative of a court of law; I have great people at my back, people who will soon bring you to book. The Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder will arrive shortly. I've told you before now what I think of Lord Blackadder, and if it be necessary I'll tell him to his face when he gets here." This conversation took place just before the table-d'hôte luncheon, and immediately afterwards Falfani went out in the direction of the railway station. I followed, keeping him in sight on the platform, where, by and by, I saw him, hat in hand, bowing obsequiously before a passenger who alighted from the incoming train. They walked back together to the hotel, and so, at a certain distance, did I. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me.

"Earl of Blackadder" was the name engraved, and written just below in pencil were the words, "would like to speak to Colonel Annesley at once." "Well, I've no objection," I began, stiffly. I thought the summons a trifle too peremptory. "Where is he?" The waiter pointed back to the hotel, and I saw a white, evil face glowering at me from a window on the ground floor of the hotel. The very look on it stirred my bile. It was an assumption of superiority, of concentrated pride and exaggerated authority, as though everyone must yield to his lightest wish and humble himself in the dust before him. I resented this, and slipping the card carelessly in my pocket, I nodded to the waiter, who still stood awaiting my reply.

Mahomet came to the mountain. It wore an angry scowl now; his dark eyes glittered balefully under the close-knit eyebrows, his lips were drawn down, and the curved nose was like the aggressive beak of a bird of prey. "Colonel Annesley, I understand," he said coldly, contemptuously, just lifting one finger towards the brim of his hat.

"That is my name," I responded, without returning the salute. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel. There can be nothing between you and me, Lord Blackadder, that concerns me very closely; nothing that the whole world may not hear." "What I have to say might prove very unpleasant to you in the telling, Colonel Annesley. Say what you please, my lord, and, if you like, as loud as you please, only be quick about it." "With all my heart, then, if you will have it so. "People who forget themselves so far as you have done must accept the responsibility of their own actions; and I tell you, here and now, that I shall call you to strict account for yours." The man was trying me hard, but still I strove to keep my temper. No one would do so who had read the public prints lately." "How dare you, sir, refer to my conduct, or presume to criticize or question it?" he burst out. We are within a short step of either France or Italy, and in both countries the old-fashioned plan of settling affairs of honour is still in force.

We shall find friendly seconds in the nearest garrison town, and I shall be glad to cross the frontier with you whenever you please." "You talk like the hectoring, swashbuckling bully that you are," he cried angrily, but looking rather uncomfortable.... "I will swear the peace against you." "Do so by all means. A man who would descend to espionage, who could so cruelly misuse a lady, is capable of anything; of making assertions he cannot substantiate, of threatening things he dare not do." "I have the clearest proof of what I say. You have chosen to come into my life--" "I should be extremely sorry to do so." "Will you deny that you have sided with my enemies, that you have joined and abetted them in a base plot to defraud and rob me of my--my--property, of that which I most highly value and cherish of all my possessions?" "I don't know what you are talking about, Lord Blackadder, but whatever your grievance I tell you candidly that I do not like your tone or your manner, and I shall hold no further converse with you." I turned my back on him and walked away. I shall go my own road, and I defy you to do your worst." Here, when I was on the threshold of the hotel, I met Falfani full, as he came running out excitedly, holding in his hand the telltale blue envelope, which, with his elated air, indicated clearly that he had just received important news. I paused for a moment, hoping he might commit himself, and was rewarded by hearing him say aloud: "It is from Geneva, my lord, from Ludovic Tiler," he began indiscreetly, and was angrily silenced by my lord, who called him "a triple-dyed idiot," and with a significant gesture towards me bade him walk away to some distance from the hotel. The mischief was done, however, for I had of course heard enough to know that the other detective had given signs of life at last, and that the report, to judge by Falfani's glee, must be satisfactory. The more pleased the other side, the more reason to fear that matters were adverse on ours. It might be thought that I was too hard on my Lord Blackadder, but only those few indeed who were unacquainted with the circumstances of his divorce would find fault with me.

The scandal was quite recent, and the Blackadder case had been in everybody's mouth. The papers had been full of it, and the proceedings were not altogether to his lordship's credit.

They had been instituted by him, however, on grounds that induced the jury to give him a verdict, and the judge had pronounced a decree nisi on the evidence as it stood.

Yet the public sympathies were generally with the respondent, the Countess of Blackadder. It had been an unhappy marriage, an ill-assorted match, mercenary, of mere convenience, forced upon an innocent and rather weak girl by careless and callous guardians, eager to rid themselves of responsibility for the two twin sisters, Ladies Claire and Henriette Standish, orphans, and with no near relations. Lord Blackadder was immensely rich, but a man of indifferent moral character, a roué and a voluptuary, with a debilitated constitution and an unattractive person, possessing none of the gifts that take a maiden's fancy. Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. Distrust grew into strong suspicion, and presently consumed him when an old flame of Lady Henriette's, Charlie Forrester, of the Dark Horse, turned up from foreign service, and their names came to be bracketed together by the senseless gossiping busybodies ever ready to tear a pretty woman's reputation to tatters. There was one very awkward story that could not be disproved as it was told, and in the upshot convicted her. It was said, but not so positively, that she had met him at Victoria Station; they were seen there together, had travelled by the same train, and there was a strong presumption that they had arrived together at Brighton; one or two railway officials deposed to the fact.

Lady Blackadder denied this entirely, and gave a very different complexion to the story. Major Forrester had seen her off, no doubt, but they had parted at the carriage door. Her visit to Brighton had been for the purpose of seeing and staying with an old servant, once a very confidential maid for whom she had a great liking, and had often taken refuge with when worried and in trouble. She thought, perhaps, to make this the first stage in the rupture with my lord.

This flight was the head and corner-stone of Lady Blackadder's offending. It was interpreted into guilt of the most heinous kind; the evidence in support of it seemed overwhelming. Witnesses swore positively to the companionship of Major Forrester, both at Victoria and Brighton, and it was to be fairly assumed that they were at the latter place together. The maid, a woman married to an ex-French or Swiss courier, by name Bruel, could not be produced, simply because she could not be found in Brighton. They were supposed to be settled there as lodging-house keepers, but they had not resided long enough to be in the Directory, and their address was not known. Lord Blackadder's case was that they were pure myths, they had never had any tangible existence, but were only imported into the case to support an ingenious but untenable defence. It was more than hinted that they had been spirited away, and they were not the first material witnesses, it was hinted, in an intricate case, conducted by Messrs. So the plausible, nay, completely satisfactory explanation of Lady Blackadder's visit to Brighton could not be put forward, much less established, and there was no sort of hope for her. She lost her case in the absence of the Bruels, man and wife. The verdict was for Lord Blackadder, and he was adjudged to have the care and custody of the child, the infant Viscount Aspdale.

I had not the smallest doubt when I realized with whom I had to do that the unhappy mother had made a desperate effort to redress her wrongs, as she thought them, and had somehow contrived to carry off her baby before she could be deprived of it. I had met her in full flight upon the Engadine express. The Court might order such an unnatural proceeding, but I was moved by every chivalrous impulse to give her my unstinting and unhesitating support to counteract it. I was full of these thoughts, and still firmly resolved to help Lady Blackadder, when l'Echelle, the conductor whose services I still retained, sought me out hurriedly, and told me that he believed the others were on the point of leaving Brieg. "I saw Falfani and milord poring over the pages of the Indicateur, and heard the word Geneva dropped in a whisper. I think they mean to take the next train along the lake shore." "Not a doubt of it," I assented; "so will we.

They must not be allowed to go beyond our reach." When the 6.57 P.M. for Geneva was due out from Brieg, we, l'Echelle and I, appeared on the platform, and our intention to travel by it was made plain to Lord Blackadder. The effect upon him was painfully manifest at once. Seeing me enter the same carriage with him, with the obvious intention of keeping him under my eye, he threw himself back among the cushions and yielded himself with the worst grace to the inevitable. The railway journey was horribly slow, and it must have been past 11 P.M. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed. I expected them to take a carriage and drive off, and was prepared to give chase, when I found they started on foot, evidently to some destination close at hand. It proved to be the Cornavin Hôtel, not a stone's-throw from the station. They entered, and went straight to the bureau, where the night clerk was at his desk. I heard them ask for a person named Tiler, and without consulting his books the clerk replied angrily: "Tiler!

He has gone off from the dinner-table and without paying his bill." "That shall be made all right," replied Lord Blackadder loftily, as he detailed his name and quality, before which the employé bowed low. "And might I ask," his lordship went on, "whether a certain Mrs. Blair, a lady with her child and its nurse, is staying in the hotel?" "But certainly, milord. They have been here some days. This explains." And he passed the scrap of paper on to his employer. He says the parties have gone, and that he is in close attendance; yet this fellow here," pointing to the clerk, "assures us she is in this very house. I don't understand it, by Gad!" "There is some fresh trick, my lord, you may be sure. The devil himself isn't half so clever as this fine lady. But we'll get at the bottom of it. We shall hear more from Tiler, and we've got the lady here, under our hand." "Ah!

How do you know, sir," to the clerk, "that Mrs. Blair is still in the hotel? See, it is marked in the register. Blair holds it still." "But she may not be in it, all the same. She may retain it, but not use it." "Look, my lord, look, there's one of her party, anyway," interposed Falfani, and he called his attention to a female figure standing a little aloof in the shadow of the staircase, and which I had already recognized. Lord Blackadder had not seen her, and now his eye, for the first time, fell upon me.

Take yourself off, or I will not answer for the consequences." I confess I only laughed and still held my ground, although my lord's outcry had attracted much attention. Several people ran up, and they might have sided against me, when I heard a voice whisper into my ear: "Come, sir, come. "I had no idea you were within miles, and was repining bitterly that I had let you get so far out of the way. Now you appear in the very nick of time, just when I was almost in despair. Then with a conscious blush she went on. I can lay no claim to the title." "May I be forgiven if I trench on such a delicate subject, and assure you of my most sincere sympathy? I was watching that fellow, the detective Falfani, when his lordship came upon the scene. How am I to escape him?" "With the child?" "To be sure. Of course, I do not fear him in the least for myself." "You want to keep the child?" "Naturally, as I carried it off." "And still more because you had the best right to it, whatever the Court might direct. You are its mother." Again she blushed and smiled, rather comically.

Yet he is very near getting it now." "In there?" I nodded towards the next room. How are you to manage it?" "There would not have been the slightest difficulty; it was all but done, and then some one, something, failed me. I expected too much perhaps, but I have been bitterly disappointed, and the danger has revived." "Come, come, Lady Blackadder, keep up your courage. Let us take counsel together.

"It is getting late, but you must hear all I have to tell before we can decide upon the next step. First let me clear the ground a little. I am not Lady Blackadder--no, no, do not misunderstand me--not on account of the divorce, but I never was Lady Blackadder. I shall never forget that detestable trial, those awful days in the Divorce Court, when the lawyers fought and wrangled over my darling sister, like dogs over a bone, tearing and snarling at each other, while the judge sat above like a solemn old owl, never moving or making a sign. "Henriette positively refused to appear in the case, although she was pressed and entreated by her legal advisers. She could have thrown so much light on the worst and darkest part. She could have repudiated the cowardly charges made, and cast back the lies drawn round her to ruin her. If the jury had but seen her pretty, pathetic face, and heard from her own sweet lips all she had endured, they would have come to a very different verdict. She would not defend the action; she did not want to win it, but waited till it was all over, hiding herself away in a far-off corner of the Apennines, where I was to join her with the child, little Ralph. "There had been no question of that; the possibility of her losing it had never been raised, or she would have nerved herself to fight sooner than give up what she valued more than her very life.

"It fell upon me with crushing effect, although towards the end of the trial I had had my forebodings. Lord Blackadder was to have the custody of his heir, and my dear sweet Henriette was to be robbed for ever of her chiefest joy and treasure. The infant child was to be abandoned to strangers, paid by its unnatural and unfeeling father.

"I had braced myself to listen to all that came out in court, a whole tissue of lies told by perjured wretches whose evidence was accepted as gospel--one of them was the same Falfani whom you know, and who had acted the loathsome part of spy on several occasions. "Directly the judge had issued his cruel fiat, I slipped out, hurried down-stairs into the Strand, jumped into a hansom, and was driven at top speed to Hamilton Terrace, bent upon giving instant effect to a scheme I had long since devised. The dear baby was dressed quickly--he was as good as gold--the baggage, enough for my hurried journey to Fuentellato, had been packed for days past, and we took the road.

When I first saw you at Calais I was seized with a terrible fear, which was soon allayed; you did not look much like a detective, and you were already my good friend when the real ruffian, Falfani, came on board the train at Amiens." "On reaching Geneva I at once opened communications with Henriette. I felt satisfied, now that I had come so far, it would be well that she should join me, and that we should concert together as to our next proceedings. Our first and principal aim was to retain the child at all costs and against all comers. I had no precise knowledge as to where we should be beyond the jurisdiction of the English law, but I could not believe that the Divorce Court and its emissaries could interfere with us in a remote Italian village. He was so bold and unscrupulous that, if the law would not help him, he would try stratagem, or even force.

We should be really safe nowhere if we once came within his reach, and, the best plan to keep out of his clutches was to hide our whereabouts from him. "Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her. If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. Farther afield, if necessary to the very end of the world. That was another reason for drawing my sister to me. I had hit upon a cunning device, as I thought it, to confuse and deceive my pursuers, to throw them on to a false scent, lead them to follow a red herring, while the fox, free of the hunt, took another line." CHAPTER XVII. "There should be two Richmonds in the field! Two sets, two parties, each of them consisting of one lady, one maid, and one baby, exactly similar and indistinguishable.

When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry. Run it to the death, while the party got clear away. Fuentellato was at no great distance from Parma, on the main line of railway. If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday.

My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. 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. "It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come. "We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help. There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required--the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment. "Everything was completed by this morning, and I had settled that my sister, with her dear little Ralph, should get away, but by quite a new route, while I held my ground against the detectives. I felt sure they would soon hear of me and run me down.

I hoped they would attach themselves to me, and meant to lead them a fine dance as a blind for Henriette, who, meanwhile, would have crossed to Lyons and gone south to Marseilles. The Riviera is a longer and more roundabout road to Turin, but it was open, and I hoped unimpeded.

Everything was cut and dried and this evening we scored the first point in the game. Henriette went on this evening to Amberieu, the junction for Lyons. She went straight from her hotel, alone, for of course I was obliged to keep close, or the trick would have been discovered, and it was in part. "For I must tell you that to-day one of the detectives appeared in Geneva, not the first man, but a second, who attached himself to me at Basle. I met him plump on the Mont Blanc Bridge and turned tail, but he came after me. Then I got out and left him, making my way to the Pierre Fatio Hôtel by a circuitous route, dodging in and out among the narrow streets till I nearly lost myself. "I thought I had eluded him, and he certainly was nowhere near when I went into the hotel. The man accosted her, taking her for me. So you see--" "If she goes round by Lyons to Marseilles, then, he would be at her heels, and the scheme breaks down in that respect?" "Not only that, I don't see that he could interfere with her, or do her much harm, and at Marseilles she might change her plans entirely.

There are ever so many ways of escape from a seaport. She might take ship and embark on board the first steamer bound to the East, for India or Ceylon, the Antipodes or far Cathay." "Well, why not?" "Henriette, my sister, has given way.

Her courage has failed her at this, the most critical moment, when she is within a hair's breadth of success. She is afraid to go on alone with little Ralph, and is running back to me by the first train to-morrow morning, at five or six o'clock." "Coming here? Into the very mouths of all the others!" "Just so, and all my great scheme will be ruined.

They cannot but find out, and there is no knowing what they may do. What can I do?" She looked at me in piteous appeal, the tears brimming over, her hands stretched towards me with a gesture at once pathetic and enchanting.

"Say, rather, what can we do, Lady Claire," I corrected her.

"This is my business, too, if you will allow me to say so, and I offer you my advice for what it is worth." "Yes, I will take it thankfully, I promise you." "The only safe course now is the boldest. You must make another exchange with your sister, Lady Blackadder--" "Call her Lady Henriette Standish. She has dropped the other entirely." "By all means. Lady Henriette then has determined to take the first train from Amberieu at--Have you a Bradshaw? You must, if possible, exchange babies, and at the same time exchange rôles. I feel sure that you, at any rate, are not afraid of going to Marseilles with the real baby." "Hardly!" she laughed scornfully. The first and all-important is for you to secure the little Ralph and escape with him. It will have to be done under the very eyes of the enemy, for there is every reason to fear they will be going on, too. The other detective, this Tiler--I have heard them call him by that name--will have told them of her ladyship's movements, and will have summoned them, Falfani at least, to his side." "If I go on by that early train they will, no doubt, do the same. I must not be seen by them.

They would fathom the trick of the two parties and the exchange." "Yet you must go on by that train. It's the only way." "Of course I might change my appearance a little, but not enough to deceive them. Cannot I go across to the station before them and hide in some compartment specially reserved for us?" "It might be managed. We might secure the whole of the seats." "Money is no object." "It will do most things, especially in Switzerland. Before 5 A.M." "If necessary I'll sit up all night." "Well, then, that's settled. I'll knock at your door and see you get some coffee." "Philpotts shall make it; no one in the hotel must know. There will be the bill." "I will see to that.

I'll come back after you're ensconced, with the blinds drawn. Sick lady on the way, via Culoz to Aix-les-Bains, must not be disturbed. It won't matter my being seen on the road, all the better really if my lord is there, for I have a little plan of my own, Lady Claire--no, please don't ask me yet--but it will help matters, I think." "You are, indeed, my true and faithful friend," she said, as she put out her hand and wished me good night. 17 I descended to the ground floor, seeking the smoking-room and a little stimulant to assist me in deciding the best course of action for the following day. As I passed along the corridor I caught sight of l'Echelle, whom I considered my man, in close confabulation with Falfani in a quiet corner. They could hardly have seen me, at least l'Echelle made no reference to the fact when he came to me presently and asked if I had any orders for the morning. The truth, please, or you get nothing more from me." "He is a vaurien and fainéant, and thinks others as bad as himself; said my lord would give me five hundred francs to know what you were doing, and find out whether the lady who travelled with us to Basle last Sunday is here in this house." "I've no objection to your taking his money if you will tell me something.

Have you any idea?" "They all go on by the early train to Culoz or farther. A pressing telegram has come from their man at Amberieu." "Ah! Then you may say that I am also going by that early train. They're not going to shake me off very easily. Tell them that, and that if they want the lady they'd better look for her.

I shall be forgiven, I think, under the circumstances. The free use of coin had the desired effect at the railway station. I was met at a private door and escorted, with my precious party, by a circuitous route to where the 5.48 was shunted, waiting the moment to run back to the departure platform. There was a coupé ready for Lady Claire, and she took her place quietly, observed by no one but the obsequious official who had managed it all. As for me, I walked boldly to the hotel and hung about the hall till the Blackadder party appeared and had left for the station. Then I asked the hotel clerk for Lady Claire's bill, paid it, with my own, and went over to the train, selecting a compartment close to the coupé. As I passed it I knocked lightly on the window pane, giving a signal previously arranged between us. I do not think that Lord Blackadder saw me then, at the start. But at Bellegarde, the Swiss frontier, where there was a wait of half an hour for the Customs examination, an irritating performance always, but carried out here with the most maddening and overbearing particularity, everyone was obliged to alight from the train, and for the moment I trembled for Lady Claire.

But the appeal addressed to the French brigadier, "un galant homme," of an invalid lady, too ill to be disturbed, was effectual, especially when backed by two five-franc pieces. Lord Blackadder was on the platform with the rest, and directly he saw me he came up with the same arrogant air, curiously blended with aggrieved helplessness. I shall appeal to the authorities. It affords protection to all who claim it against such people as you." "If you talk like that I'll give you some reason to seek the protection of the gendarmes or police," I cried, but checked myself at once.

I had made up my mind how to deal with him, but the time was not yet. "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture! Lord Blackadder hurried to his compartment at the end of the train some way from mine and the coupé.

As I passed the latter, seeing the road clear, I gave the signal, and, taking out my railway carriage key, quickly slipped in. She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask. "The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously. "It is essential that we should have a few last words together. Naturally we must now be guided very much by the way things happen, but so far as possible we must prepare for them. I don't believe Lord Blackadder has any idea you are in the train, and I much doubt that he expects to find Lady Henriette at Culoz. You think she will really be there?" "I feel sure of it. It is just what she would do." "Then everything will depend on you. You must be alert and prompt, on the qui vive to seize your opportunity. It will be your business to make your way to her with the dummy the instant the train stops." "I shall have to find her." "That is the first and chief thing on your part.

There are very few minutes for the whole job. Find her, exchange burthens, send her to the train for Aix-les-Bains. It will be waiting there. You hurry back to this coupé, lie low, and, if all goes well, you will be travelling on toward Amberieu before the enemy has the least notion what has occurred." "But one word, please. What will the enemy have been doing at Culoz?

Say they catch sight of Henriette as soon as we do?" "I hope and trust they may. I count upon that as part of my programme." "But they will catch her, stop her, deprive her of our dear little Ralph." "Wait, wait. We shall both be moving about, and the best address I can give will be in London. Telegraph to me there to my club, the Mars and Neptune, Piccadilly. I will send instructions there to have all telegrams opened and retelegraphed to me at once. They shall be kept informed of my whereabouts daily. There, standing under the shadow of the dwarf plane-trees, but with not the slightest suggestion of concealment, was the exact counterpart of Lady Claire, her twin sister, Lady Henriette Standish, till lately Lady Blackadder. She was staring intently at our train as it ran in, deeply anxious, no doubt, to note the arrival of her sister. "Give me a short start," I said to Lady Claire as I jumped out of the coupé. "You will see why." Even as I spoke I was satisfied that the pursuing party had recognized the object of their journey.

They had all alighted and were coming up the platform in great haste to where she stood. Had any doubt remained, it would have been removed by the appearance of a man who ran out from some back part of the station and waved them forward with much gesticulation. Here I interposed, and, rushing forward with all the ardour of a football player entering a scrimmage, I took Lord Blackadder by the throat and shook him.

When that audacious and intemperate English Colonel so far forgot himself as to assault my lord the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder at Culoz Station in the open light of day before us all, I greatly rejoiced; for, although horror-stricken at his ruffianly conduct, I knew that he would get his deserts at last. The French authorities would certainly not tolerate brawling in the precincts of the railway station, and justice must promptly overtake the sole offender. The blackguard Colonel, the cause and origin of the disturbance, would, of course, be at once arrested and removed. The fracas had naturally attracted general attention.

A crowd quickly gathered around us, many passengers and a number of idlers, who drop from nowhere, as it might be, all drawn to the spot by overmastering curiosity. Everybody talked at the same time, asking questions, volunteering answers, some laughing shamelessly at my lord's discomfiture, a few expressing indignation, and declaring that such a scandal should not be permitted, and the guilty parties held strictly to account. The gendarmes on duty--a couple of them are always at hand in a French railway station--soon appeared, and, taking in the situation at the first glance, imposed silence peremptorily. "Let some one, one person only, speak and explain." The brigadier, or sergeant, addressed himself to me, no doubt seeing that I had assumed a prominent place in the forefront, and seemed a person of importance. "Monsieur here," I said, pointing to the Colonel, who, in spite of all we could do, still held my lord tight, "was the aggressor, as you can see for yourselves. Who, then, is the other?" "An abominable vaurien," I answered with great heat.

"A rank villain; one who outrages all decency, breaks every law, respects no rank--" "Bus, bus," cried the Colonel, in some language of his own, as he put me aside so roughly that I still feel the pain in my shoulder. I am, as you will perceive, an officer of the English army, and I appeal to you as a comrade, for I see by your decorations, no doubt richly deserved, that you are an ancien militaire. "Such as the wolf and the tiger and the snake expect from their victim." It made me sick to hear him currying favour with the gendarme, and still worse that it was affecting the old trooper, who looked on all as pekins, mere civilians, far inferior to military men.

"Protection you shall have, mon Colonel, if you have a right to it, bien entendu," said the sergeant, civilly but cautiously. "I ask it because these people have made a dead set at me. They have tried to hustle me and, I fear, to rob me, and I have been obliged to act in my own defence." Before I could protest against this shameless misrepresentation of the fact, my lord interposed.

He was now free, and, gradually recovering, was burning to avenge the insults put upon him.

His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel. "Take us before the station-master, or send for the Commissary from the town.

I haven't the slightest objection." "Yes, yes, the Commissaire de police, the judge, the peace officer. Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. "With all my heart," cried the Colonel. It is my right; let us all go before the Commissary." "There is no Commissary here in Culoz. I'm quite ready," assented the Colonel, with an alacrity I did not understand. "I desire most strongly to haul this hectoring bully before the law, and let his flagrant misconduct be dealt with in a most exemplary fashion." I caught a curious shadow flitting across my comrade Tiler's face at this speech. He," jerking his finger toward the Colonel, "wants us to waste as much time as possible, while my lady slips through our fingers and gets farther and farther on her road." "Where is she?" "Ah, where?

No longer here, anyway." The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station. It had gone on, quite unobserved by any of us during the fracas, and it flashed upon me at once that the incident had been planned for this very purpose of occupying our attention while she stole off. My lady was travelling the other way--this way. Still there was a reason, a good one. She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?" "She only came because I'd tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip," said Tiler. She's not the sort to hide herself easily, with all her belongings, the nurse and the baby and all the rest. But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix. I mean to push this through to the bitter end. 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. It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side.

"A prisoner, am I?" cried the Colonel, gaily. When is it to be?" "Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22," Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way. Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him. The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him. I was a little doubtful of that slippery gentleman; although I had bought him, as I thought, the night before, I never felt sure of him.

He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer. Was the money thrown away, and his intention now to go back on his bargain? Meanwhile Tiler and I thought it our pressing duty to utilize these few moments in seeking news of our lady and her party. Oh, yes, many people, officials, and hangers-on about the station had seen her. Too much seen indeed, for the stories told were confusing and conflicting. One facteur assured us he had helped her into the train going Amberieu way, but I thought his description very vague, although Tiler swallowed the statement quite greedily. Another man told me quite a different story; he had seen her, and had not the slightest doubt of it, in the down train, that for Aix-les-Bains, the express via Chambery, Modane, and the Mont Cenis tunnel for Italy. This was the true version, I felt sure. Why, then, Tiler asked, had she gone to Amberieu, running back as she had done with him at her heels?

Why else had she returned to Culoz by the early train directly she thought she had eluded Tiler? The reasoning was correct, but Ludovic was always a desperately obstinate creature, jealous and conceited, tenacious of his opinions, and holding them far superior to those who were cleverer and more intelligent than himself. Then we heard the whistle of the approaching train, and we all collected on the platform. L'Echelle, as he came from the direction of the buvette, was a little in the rear of the Colonel and the gendarmes. He was grinning all over it and pointing toward the Colonel with his finger, derisively.

I was not inclined to trust him very greatly, but he evidently wished us to believe that he thought very little of the Colonel, and that we might count upon his support against him. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together.

My lord very liberally provided first-class tickets for the whole of the party, but the Colonel took his own and paid for the gendarmes. He refused to travel in the same carriage with the noble Earl, saying openly and impudently that he preferred the society of honest old soldiers to such a crew as ours.

L'Echelle, still sitting on the hedge, as I fancied, got in with the Colonel and his escort.

On reaching Aix-les-Bains, we found the omnibus that did the service de la ville, but the Colonel refused to enter it, and declared he would walk; he cared nothing for the degradation of appearing in the public streets as a prisoner marching between a couple of gendarmes. He gloried in it, he said; his desire was clearly to turn the whole thing into ridicule, and the passers-by laughed aloud at this well-dressed gentleman, as he strutted along with his hat cocked, one hand on his hip, the other placed familiarly on the sergeant's arm. He met some friends, too,--one was a person rather like himself, with the same swaggering high-handed air, who accosted him as we were passing the corner of the square just by the Hôtel d'Aix. Basil my boy!" cried the stranger.

Took up by the police?

I'm going before the beak and may want a witness as to character." "Right oh! There are some more of us here from the old shop--Jack Tyrrell, Bobus Smith--all Mars and Neptune men.

They'll speak for a pal at a pinch. Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. "I've got a particular appointment there with Monsieur le Commissaire, and the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder." "Oh! By-by, you'll see me again, and all the chaps I can pick up at the Cercle and the hotels near." Then our procession passed on, the Colonel and gendarmes leading, Tiler and I with l'Echelle close behind. He had driven on ahead in a fiacre and was standing alone at the entrance to the police office, which is situated on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Ville, a pretty old-fashioned building of gray stone just facing the Etablissement Thermale, the home of the far-famed baths from which Aix-les-Bains takes its name. "In here?" asked my lord; and with a brief wave of his hand he would have passed in first, but the officers of the law put him rather rudely aside and claimed precedence for their prisoner.

le Commissaire, who was there, seated at a table opposite his greffier, rose and bowed stiffly, inquiring our business, my lord pushed forward into the front and began very warmly, in passable French: "I am an aggrieved person seeking justice on a wrong-doer. No one need claim it in the tone you have assumed." The Commissary was a solemn person, full of the stiff formality exhibited by members of the French magistracy, the juniors especially. He was dressed in discreet black, his clean-shaven, imperturbable face showed over a stiff collar, and he wore the conventional white tie of the French official.

It is the duty of the officers of the law now present, and prepared, I presume, to make their report. I have been shamefully ill-used by that man there." He shook his finger at the Colonel.

I am entitled to your best consideration." "Every individual, the poorest, meanest, is entitled to that in republican France. I must first hear the story from my own people. I shall complain to your superiors--I shall bring the matter before the British ambassador. I must ask you to behave yourself, to respect the convenances, or I shall be compelled to show you the door." "I will not be put down in this way, I will speak; I--I--" "Silence, monsieur. I call upon you, explicitly, to moderate your tone and pay proper deference to my authority." With this the commissary pulled out a drawer, extracted a tricolour sash and slowly buckled it round his waist, then once more turned interrogatively to the sergeant: "It is nothing very serious, M.

le Commissaire," said the treacherous gendarme. Fi donc! Why the commonest voyous, the rôdeurs of the barrière, could not do worse. Men of honour settle their disputes differently; they do not come to the police correctionnelle." "Pray do not think it is my desire," broke in the Colonel, with his customary fierceness. Duels are in contravention of the Code. le Commissaire, and it cannot be tolerated." "I am not responsible to you, sir, and will account for my action à qui de droit, to those who have the right to question me. The case is dismissed. Gendarmes, release your prisoner, and let everyone withdraw." We all trooped out into the square, where a number of persons had assembled, evidently the Colonel's friends, for they greeted him uproariously. "The prisoner has left the court without a stain upon his character," the Colonel shouted in answer to their noisy inquiries. Why did they run you in?" they still asked.

He didn't mean it really;" and I could see that the Earl could hardly contain himself in his rage. Then, suddenly muttering something about "bounders" and "cads," he forced his way through and hurried off, shouting his parting instructions to us to join him as soon as possible at the Hôtel Hautecombe on the hill. Nothing you have done has been of the very slightest use; on the contrary, through your beastly mismanagement I have been dragged into this degrading position, held up to ridicule and contempt before all the world. And with it all, the whole thing has failed. The situation is not hopeless, believe me. You may rely on us to regain touch with the fugitives without delay. I have a clue, and with your lordship's permission will follow it at once." I saw clearly that he was set upon the absurd notion he had conceived that the lady had gone westward, and I felt it my duty to warn the Earl not to be misled by Tiler. "There is nothing in his clue, my lord. "I will decide what it is worth." Then Tiler propounded his theory.

"It might be good enough," I interjected, "if I did not know the exact contrary. The lady with her party was seen going in exactly the opposite direction. His lordship looked from one to the other, plainly perplexed and with increasing anger. "By the Lord Harry, it's pleasant to be served by a couple of such useless creatures who differ so entirely in their views that they cannot agree upon a common plan of action. How can I decide as to the best course if you give me no help?" "Perhaps your lordship will allow me to make a suggestion?" I said gravely, and I flatter myself with some dignity, for I wished to show I was not pleased with the way he treated us. "Whether the lady has gone north or south, east or west, may be uncertain; and although I am satisfied in my own mind as to the direction she took, I am willing to await further developments before embarking on any further chase. To my mind the best clue, the real, the only clue, lies here, in our very hands. If we have only a little patience, this Colonel Annesley will act as a sign-post." "You think that some communication will reach him from the fugitives?" "Most decidedly I do. I firmly believe that the lady relies upon him greatly, and will in all probability call him to her, or if not that she will wish to let him know how she has got on." For the first time in this unpleasant interview his lordship looked at me approvingly.

"It ought not to be difficult, seeing that he was here half an hour ago, and we can hunt up l'Echelle, who will surely know, and who I have reason to hope is on our side." "Do it one way or another. I look to you for that, and let me know the result without loss of time. Then we will confer again and arrange further. Leave me now." I accepted my dismissal and moved towards the door, but Tiler hung behind, and I heard him say timidly: "May I crave your lordship's pardon--and I trust you rely on my entire devotion to your lordship's service--but there is one thing I most earnestly desire to do." "Go on." "And that is to follow my own clue, at least for a time. It is the right one I firmly believe, and I am satisfied it would be wrong, criminal even to neglect it. That should suffice to settle the point. If, as I hope and believe, I strike the scent, assuredly you will not regret it." "There's something in what you say.

"I am willing to wait a day or two until you return or report, or unless something more definite turns up in the other direction. I suppose he can be spared, Falfani?" "He will be no manner of use here, it will be better to let him go; let him run after his red herring, he'll precious soon find out his mistake." "We shall see," said Tiler, elated and cocksure, and I freely confess we did see that he was not quite the fool I thought him. On leaving his lordship I descended to the grand entrance to the hotel with the intention of beating up the Colonel's quarters in Aix.

Although the hotels were certain to be crowded at this, the height of the season, the town is not really large, the visitors' lists are well posted with new arrivals, and there are one or two public places where people always turn up at some time or other in the day. The cercle or casino and its succursale the Villa des Fleurs, with their many spacious rooms, reading-room, concert-room, baccarat-room, their restaurants, their beautiful gardens, are thronged at all hours of the day with the smart folk of all nationalities.

I stood on the top of the steps waiting for the private omnibus that plies between the hotel and the town below, when I heard my name called from behind, and turning, was confronted by Jules l'Echelle. "What brings you up here?" "The Colonel, my master--for I have taken service with him, you must know--sent me here to inquire whether we could have rooms." "Why does he choose this hotel of all others?" I asked in a dissatisfied tone, although in my secret heart I was overjoyed. "It's the best, isn't it? Haven't you come here?" "My Lord Blackadder has, but that's another pair of shoes. There's some difference between him and a beggarly half-pay Colonel who will very likely have to black the boots to work out his bill. They know how to charge here." "The Colonel, I take it, can pay his way as well as most people. He said something about going through the course, taking the baths, and among the rest asked me to find out the best doctor." "That'll mean a lengthened stay; three weeks at least." "Well, why shouldn't he?

He's his own master." "Then he's finished with that foolish business about the lady; had enough of it, I suppose; burnt his fingers and done no earthly good." "How do I know? It will be easy to say there are no rooms. He looks both sides of his money, and pays no fancy prices for a pig in a poke." "Then I'll take my pigs to another market. Suppose I let the Colonel know what you've been at, trying to tamper with me. This hotel wouldn't be big enough to hold him and your patron together." "Well,"--I hesitated, not willing to appear too anxious,--"let's say, just for argument's sake, that you got what you ask, or something near it. I'm not in a position to promise it, no, not the half of it. Think first of my lord, put his interests before the Colonel's; tell us what the Colonel's doing, his game from day to day, read his letters, and tell us their contents; spy on his actions, watch him at every turn, his comings and his goings; the houses he calls at, the people he meets, every move he makes or has in view?" "If I promise to do all that will you promise not to give me away? You'll keep your own counsel and protect me from the Colonel?

If he got a whisper I was selling him I'd lose my place and he'd half kill me into the bargain." "Not a soul shall know but my lord and myself.

I must consult him, or you won't get the money." "But there is that other chap, the one who joined us at Culoz, and who was with you at the Commissariat, a new face to me. One of your own party, wasn't he?" "To be sure, Tiler; he's on the job, too, came out when I did from London. 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. She was seen in the express for Modane, making for the Mont Cenis tunnel. Of course that's the true direction. She was aiming for Italy from the first; the other sister, the divorced lady, is there; we've always known that. I'd stick to my opinion against fifty fools like Tiler." "It's a bargain, then; I can count upon the cash? I'd like to begin at once; there's something I would tell you here, and now, that would interest you very much. I won't keep you five minutes." My lord gave his consent a little grudgingly, but was presently persuaded that it was to his own advantage to have a spy in the heart of the enemy's camp. That was soon seen when l'Echelle had pocketed his notes and gave us the news in exchange.

"Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly.

He'll be off then faster than that," he snapped his fingers, "and you won't find it easy to catch him." "That's good. When I take an employer's pay I serve him faithfully and to the best of my power," he said with an engaging frankness that won me completely. Why should he be more faithful to my lord than to the Colonel? The rest of the first day at Aix passed without any important incident. I was a trifle surprised that the Colonel did not put in an appearance; but it was explained by l'Echelle, whom I met by appointment later in the day. I understood from him that the Colonel had decided to remain down in the town, where he had many friends, and where he was more in the thick of the fun.

For Aix-les-Bains, as every one knows, is a lively little place in the season, and the heart and centre of it all is the Casino. The Colonel had established himself in a hotel almost next door, and ran up against me continually that afternoon and evening, as I wandered about now under the trees listening to the band, now at the baccarat table, where I occasionally staked a few jetons of the smaller values.

If any one was with him, as was generally the case--smart ladies and men of his own stamp, with all of whom he seemed on very familiar terms--he invariably drew their attention to me, and they, too, laughed aloud after a prolonged stare. Once he had the effrontery to accost me as I stood facing the green board on which the telegrams are exposed. Ah, of course, my old friend Falfani, the private detective who appeared in the Blackadder case. I don't know you, I don't wish to know you," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume.

But several of his rowdy friends closed around me and held me there, compelled to listen to his gibes as he rattled on. None the worse for that little contretemps this morning. If there is anything I can do for his lordship, any information I can give him, he knows, I trust, that he can command me. Does he propose to make a lengthened stay here?" "His lordship--" I tried vainly to interrupt him. "Let me urge him most strongly to go through the course. The warm baths are truly delightful and most efficacious in calming the temper and restoring the nerve-power. He should take the Aix treatment, he should indeed.

I am the only person who can be of any use to you. He can choose his own agents." "And in his own sneaking, underhand way," the Colonel answered quickly, and with such a meaning look that I was half-afraid he suspected that we were tampering with his man. "But two can play at that game, as you may find some day." When I met l'Echelle that same evening as arranged, at the Café Amadeo in the Place Carnot, I questioned him closely as to whether his master had any suspicion of him, but he answered me stoutly it was quite impossible. By the way, have you heard anything of your other man?" "Why should I tell you?" "Oh, don't trouble; only if I could pass him on a bit of news either way it might lead him to show his hand.

If Tiler is getting 'hot'--you know the old game--he might like to go after him. If Tiler is thrown out the Colonel will want to give help in the other direction." "That's sound sense, I admit. Of all the born idiots!" "Poor devil! The more I saw of l'Echelle the more I liked him. Nothing fresh occurred that night or the next day. I was rather struck by a change in his demeanour. Half a dozen times to-day he's asked me to inquire if there's a telegram for him, and he haunts the hall porter's box continually in the hope of getting one. Have you heard any more from Tiler?" "Yes, another mad telegram, this time from Marseilles. The folly of it!" "What does my lord say?" "Plenty, and it's not pleasant to bear. He wants to go racing after Tiler now, and if he does he'll give away the whole show.

But cheer up, copain, things may mend." They did, as often happens when they seem to be at their worst. I have always been an early riser, and was specially so at Aix, now when the heat was intense, and the pleasantest hours of the day were before the sun had risen high. I was putting the finishing touches to my toilette about 7 A.M. There is not a moment to lose. I've a fiacre at the door below." He gave the établissement as the address, and we were soon tearing down the hill. As we drove along l'Echelle told me the news. He simply jumped for joy when he read it." "But what was the message?

But I mean to see it pretty soon, and so shall you." "You mean to abstract it somehow--pick his pocket, or what?" "Simplest thing in the world. You see he's gone to have his bath, he likes to be early, and he's undergoing the douche at this very moment, which means naturally that he's taken off his clothes, and they are waiting in the dressing-room for me to take home. I shall have a good quarter of an hour and more to spare before they carry him back to the hotel in his blankets and get him to bed." "Ha!" I said, "that's a brilliant idea. How do you mean to work it out?" "Take the telegram out of his waistcoat pocket, read it, or bring it to you." "Bring it; that will be best," I interrupted, feeling a tinge of suspicion. "But I must put it straight back," continued l'Echelle, "for he is sure to ask for it directly he returns to the hotel." Within a few minutes he had gone in and out again, carrying now one of the black linen bags used by valets de chambres to carry their masters' clothes in. He winked at me as he passed, and we walked together to a shady, retired spot in the little square where the cab-stand is, and sat in the newspaper kiosk on a couple of straw-bottomed chairs of the Central café. "Read that," he said triumphantly, as he handed me the familiar scrap of blue paper. My lord will be very grateful to you," and I handed him back the telegram, having first copied it word for word in my note-book.

"It means, I suppose," suggested l'Echelle, "that you will make for Milan, too?" "No fear--by the first train. You'll be clever if you get the start of us, for I presume you will be moving." "I haven't the smallest doubt of that; we shall be quite a merry party. I had no reason to complain of the course of events culminating in the affair at Culoz. I defended to myself the assault upon Lord Blackadder as in a measure provoked and justifiable under the circumstances, although I was really sorry for him and at the poor figure he cut before the police magistrate and gendarmes. But I could not forget the part he had played throughout, nor was I at all disposed to turn aside from my set purpose to help the ladies in their distress. Every man of proper feeling would be moved thereto, and I knew in my secret heart that very tender motives impelled me to the unstinting championship of Lady Claire. I was still without definite news of what had happened between the two sisters while I was covering their movements at Culoz. I could not know for certain whether or not the exchange had actually been effected, and I did not dare inquire about the station, for it might betray facts and endanger results. Lady Claire would almost certainly telegraph to me via London at the very earliest opportunity, and I was careful to wire from Culoz to the hall porter of my club, begging him to send on everything without a moment's delay.

Then, while still in the dark, I set myself like a prudent general to discover what the enemy was doing.

He was here in Aix in the persons of Lord Blackadder and his two devoted henchmen, Falfani and Tiler. I had heard the appointment he had given them at the Hôtel Hautecombe, and I cast about me to consider how I might gain some inkling of their intentions. Luckily I had desired l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, to stick to me on leaving the police office, and I put it to him whether or not he was willing to enter my service. It is likely that I may wander about the Continent for some time, and it may suit you to come with me." He seemed pleased at the idea, and we quickly agreed as to terms. Find out what the other side is at, and contrive somehow to become acquainted with Lord Blackadder's plans." "How far may I go?" he asked me plump. "They are pretty sure to try and win me over, they've done so already. Shall I accept their bid? It would be the easiest way to know all you want." "It's devilish underhand," I protested. "You'll be paying them back in their own coin," he returned. "A corsaire fieffé corsaire et demi. It will be to my advantage, and you won't lose." "Upon my soul, I don't quite like it." I still hung back, but his arguments seemed so plausible that they overcame my scruples, and I was not sorry for it in the long run.

[The reader has already been told how Falfani craftily approached l'Echelle, and found him, as he thought, an easy prey. We know how the communication was kept up between the two camps, how Falfani was fooled into believing that he kept close watch over Colonel Annesley through l'Echelle, how the latter told his real master the true news of the progress made by Tiler. When there could be little doubt that the chase was growing warm and had gone as far as Lyons, the Colonel felt that there was danger and that he must take more active steps to divert the pursuit and mislead the pursuers. The Colonel shall continue in his own words.] I was much disturbed when I learnt that Tiler had wired from Lyons. The next message would disclose the whereabouts of the Lady Claire, at that time the only lady, as they thought, in the case, and the lady with the real child. It would soon be impossible for me to make use of the second with the sham child to draw the pursuers after her. In this it must be understood that, although I had no certainty of it, I took it for granted that the little Lord Aspdale was with his aunt and not with his mother, who, as I sincerely believed, had already reached Fuentellato. It was essential now to persuade my Lord Blackadder and his people that this was the case, and induce them to embark upon a hasty expedition into Italy. I therefore concocted a cunning plan with l'Echelle for leading them astray. It was easy enough to arrange for the despatch of a telegram from Milan to me at Aix, a despatch to be handed in at the former place by a friend of l'Echelle's, but purporting to come from Lady Claire.

My man had any number of acquaintances in the railway service, one or more passed daily through Aix with the express trains going east or west; and with the payment of a substantial douceur the trick was done.

The spurious message reached me in Aix early on the third morning, and the second act in the fraud was that l'Echelle should allow Falfani to see the telegram. He carried out the deception with consummate skill, pretending to pick my pocket of the telegram, which he then put under Falfani's eyes. The third act was to be my immediate exit from Aix.

I made no secret of this, very much the reverse.

Notice was given at the hotel bureau to prepare my bill, and insert my name on the list of departures by the afternoon express, the 1.41 P.M. And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, came a complete change in the situation. Not long after I had consumed my morning café au lait and rolls, the conventional petit déjeuner of French custom, a letter was brought to my bedside, where, again according to rule, I was resting after my bath.

I expected no letters, no one except the porter of my London club knew my present address, and the interval was too short since my telegram to him to allow of letters reaching me in the ordinary course of the post. I turned over the strange missive, the address in a lady's hand quite unknown to me, examining it closely, as one does when mystified, guessing vainly at a solution instead of settling it by instantly breaking the seal. When at last I opened it my eye went first to the signature. To my utter amazement I read the name, "Henriette Standish." It was dated from the Hôtel de Modena, Aix-les-Bains, a small private hotel quite in the suburbs in the direction of the Grand Port, and it ran as follows: "DEAR COLONEL ANNESLEY:--I have only just seen in the Gazette des Etrangers that you are staying in Aix. I thought of remaining here a few days longer, but I have also read Lord Blackadder's name in the list. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, your extreme kindness to Claire emboldens me to make this appeal to you. I shall be at home all the morning. Indeed, I have hardly left the house yet, and certainly shall not do so now that I know he is here. Was there ever such a broken reed of a woman?

Already she had spoilt her sister's nice combinations by turning back from Amberieu when the road to safety with her darling child lay open to her. Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. How could I hope to lure her pursuers away to a distance when she was here actually on the spot, and might be run into at any moment?

For the present all my movements were in abeyance. I had reason to fear--how much reason I did not even then realize--they would be interfered with, and that a terrible collapse threatened us. I dressed hurriedly and walked down to the Hôtel Modena, where I was instantly received. Blair" had given orders that I should be admitted the moment I appeared. I had had one glimpse of this tall, graceful creature, who so exactly reproduced the beautiful traits of her twin sister that she might indeed at a distance be taken for her double.

There was the same proud carriage of her head, the same lithe figure, even her musical voice when she greeted me with shy cordiality might have been the voice of Lady Claire. But the moment I looked into her face I saw a very distinct difference, not in outward feature, but in the inward character that is revealed by the eyes, the lines of the mouth, the shape of the lower jaw. In Lady Claire the first were steady and spoke of high courage, of firm, fixed purpose; the mouth, as perfectly curved as Cupid's bow, was resolute and determined, the well-shaped, rounded chin was held erect, and might easily become defiant, even aggressive.

Lady Henriette was evidently cast in another mould. Her eyes, of the same violet blue, were pretty, pleading, soft in expression, but often downcast and deprecating; the mouth and chin were weak and irresolute.

It was the same lovely face as Lady Claire's, and to some might seem the sweeter, indicating the tender, clinging, yielding nature that commonly appeals to the stronger sex; but to me she lost in every respect by comparison with her more energetic, self-reliant sister. I heard the explanation, such as it was, without the smallest surprise; it was very much what I expected now when I was permitted to know and appreciate her better. "But the moment I found I had to part with my child my courage broke down.

I am not brave, you know, like my dearest Claire, or strong-minded, and I quite collapsed." "But I hope and trust you have made the exchange. Lady Claire has little Lord Aspdale and has left you the dummy?

Tell me, I beg." "Oh, yes, yes, we made the exchange," she replied, in such a faltering, undecided voice that I doubted, and yet could not bring myself to believe that she was not telling the truth. It would be a very serious matter if--if--" "The contrary was the case," I wanted to say, yet how could I? "But what will happen now?" she said, her voice faltering, her eyes filling, and seemingly on the very verge of hysterics. "What if Blackadder should find that I am here, and--and--" "He can do nothing to you unless he has a right to act, unless," I answered unhesitatingly and a little cruelly perhaps, regardless of the scared look in her face, "you have good reason to dread his interference. Where is little Lord Aspdale?" "In there!" she pointed to an inner room, and burst into uncontrollable tears. To say that I was aghast at the discovery of Lady Blackadder, or, as she preferred to call herself, Lady Henriette Standish, in Aix, and with the precious child, would but imperfectly express my feelings. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action. I sat there helplessly staring at the poor creature, so full of grief and remorse that I was quite unable to rise to the occasion.

The most essential thing was to get Lord Blackadder away from Aix. So long as he remained he was an ever present danger; our game was up directly he awoke to the true state of affairs. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. Clearly I must go, and that not alone, but take them with me, following me under the positive impression that I was leading them straight to their goal. Not one hint, not the slightest suspicion must be permitted to reach them that their quarry was here, just under their feet. When I had gone on with the others at my heels, the coast would be clear for Lady Henriette, and she must double back once more and go into safe hiding somewhere, while the hunt overshot its quarry and rolled on.

But the idea of parting from me now that she had laid hold of me was so repugnant to her that she yielded once more to her nerves. I'll do what you like, disguise myself, go third class, anything; but for goodness' sake don't desert me, or I don't know what will happen." "There is simply no help for it, Lady Henriette. It is imperative that you should remain here at least for a day or two while the others clear out of your way. It would be quite fatal if they saw you or you came across them." "Oh, you're too cruel, it is perfectly inhuman.

I think I am the most wretched and ill-used woman alive." These lamentations and indirect reproaches rather hardened my heart. The woman was so unreasonable, so little mindful of what was being done for her, that I lost my patience, and said very stiffly: "Lady Henriette, let us quite understand one another. I tell you candidly there is only one way to save it." "My darling Aspdale! You ought never to have kept it--it was madness to come here and run straight into the jaws of danger." "How was I to know?" she retorted, now quite angrily. You are most unkind." "Dear, dear," I said fretfully, "this is all beside the question.

What is most urgent is to shield and save you now when the peril is most pressing." "And yet you propose to leave me to fight it out alone? I have explained the necessity. Surely you must see that it would be madness, quite fatal for us, to be seen together, or for you to be seen at all.

I must still hoodwink them by going off this afternoon." "And leave me without protection, with all I have at stake? If only Claire was here." "It wouldn't mend matters much, except that Lady Claire would side with me." "Oh, yes, you say that, you believe she thinks so much of you and your opinion that she would agree to anything you suggest." "Mine is the safest and the only course," I replied, I am afraid with some heat. "Really, Lady Henriette, you will drive me to wash my hands of the whole business. Unless you are disposed to change your views, I shall stick to mine; and I do not see the use of prolonging this interview. I will bid you good day." I moved towards the door, still keeping an eye on her, believing her to be quite set in her fatuous refusal to hear reason.

She still held herself erect and defiant, and there seemed to be small hope of doing anything with her. Then suddenly I saw symptoms of giving way. Signals of distress were hung out in her quivering lip and the nervous twitching of her hands. The situation was awkward, embarrassing. At another time I might have been puzzled how to deal with it, but this was a moment of supreme emergency.

A great crisis was imminent, the ruin of our scheme and the downfall of our hopes were certainly at hand if I gave way to her. Everything depended upon my action, and I knew that the only chance of safety lay in the execution of my design. I counted, at any rate, and with some assurance, on the approval of Lady Claire if the details of this painful scene should ever come to her ears. Time was too precious to be wasted in any attempts to win her back to common sense, and without waiting for permission I crossed the room, rang the bell, and begged the waiter to summon the lady's maid.

I will not go with you; certainly not in the dark. Is it likely that I should trust myself alone with an almost complete stranger--a man who has shown me so little consideration, who has been so unkind, so cruel, and who now wants to carry me off goodness knows where, because he is so obstinately determined that his is the right way to proceed." "Lady Henriette," I said civilly but very coldly, and putting the drag on myself, for I confess she was trying me very hard, "let there be no misunderstanding between us. Either you consent to my proposals absolutely and unhesitatingly, or I shall withdraw altogether from your service. 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. "I know I'm right," I urged, a little feebly perhaps, for I was nearly worn out by her prejudice and utterly illogical refusal to see how the land lay. Have everything packed, please, and the bill paid. I returned to my hotel vexed and irritated beyond measure by my passage at arms with Lady Henriette Standish, and hating the prospect of any further dealings with her. Matters would have been very different had her strong-minded sister been on the spot to use her influence and help us with her counsel. What a contrast between the two women! I was more and more drawn to the one, and more and more heartily despised the other.

With my mind full of the beautiful creature who had made me a willing captive to her charms, her gracious presence was recalled to me by a message from under her own hand. As I passed the threshold of my hotel, the hall porter gave me a telegram from Lady Claire. It had come via London, but the office of origin was Marseilles. "One of them turned up this morning--have no fear--exchange not effected--shall remain here for the present--Hotel Terminus. She told me just exactly all that it was essential to know: of the pursuit, of the absence of pressing danger, of the abortive attempt to exchange babies, and where she was to be found. It was now barely 10 A.M., and the time intervening before the departure of the eastward bound express (three and a half hours) was none too much to carry out my intentions as to Lady Henriette.

I first of all ordered a covered landau to be harnessed as speedily as possible, and to be sent to await me in a side street near the Hôtel Modena; then I summoned l'Echelle and bade him make all ready for the journey. I also told him that I should be busily engaged that forenoon; but that as I might be obliged to run it very close for the train, he was to make all preparations, to take the tickets, and await me on the platform. I had debated anxiously with myself how far I should betray the presence of Lady Henriette in Aix to l'Echelle, and decided that, although I had no particular reason to doubt him, I felt that it would be more prudent to keep the fact to myself. For the same reason I kept him busily engaged in my bedroom packing, lest he should spy upon my movements. There was still the fear that Falfani might be on the watch, but I had been assured by l'Echelle that the Blackadder party were so satisfied by the news he gave them that they left the business of shadowing almost entirely to him. I was pretty sure that I reached the Hôtel Modena unobserved. I came upon the carriage by the way, and as I passed briefly desired the driver to follow me to the Hôtel Modena. Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room.

She was there, dressed in hat and jacket, and so far disposed to comply with my wishes. Her maid, Victorine, was with her, the baby on her knee. Her baggage, happily light enough, was there, packed and all ready for a start. But if I thought that Lady Henriette meant to yield without another skirmish I was sadly mistaken. "The carriage is at the door," I said as pleasantly as possible. "Very much the reverse indeed. The more I think over it the more outrageous and preposterous your behaviour seems.

I must have a plain categorical answer or I will not move an inch." Her dogged, determined air was belied by her dress and the obvious preparations already made for departure. Her present attitude I set down to the vacillation of her character. She might make up her mind one moment and one way, and yet be quite prepared to change it the next. "You are fully entitled to know where you are going, and I have not the smallest desire to keep it from you," I replied, still speaking in a smooth, courteous voice. "I propose that you should take up your residence for a time--the very shortest time possible--at Le Bourget, a small place at the head of the lake. You may know it; there is a snug little hotel in the village, the Dent du Chat. I dislike the whole idea exceedingly. Why should I be buried alive in such an out-of-the-way spot?" "It will be no worse than Fuentellato, a place you chose for yourself." "I have a house of my own there--my own servants. It is perfectly safe." "Not now, believe me, they will come upon you there; trace you easily and quickly, and they are capable of any violence to capture and deprive you of your treasure." I pointed to the child on the maid's knee. "I shall be more at their mercy here in Aix." "Be guided by me.

All will be well if you will only keep out of the way now for a few hours, perhaps at most a couple of days. If they do not find you at once they will never find you. Only let me have a short start ahead and I'll lead them a pretty dance, and take them further and further away. You may rely on it, and I assure you they will never be able to find you or do you any harm." "I wish I could believe you," she said. "If I could only believe in you and trust you as Claire does," she murmured pathetically, still tortured by doubt. If she were only here, or I knew where to find her!" I was on the point of imparting my last news, but I checked myself. Lady Henriette had seen her last, and must be well aware of the direction she was taking to Lyons and Marseilles.

She would be mad to join her, and it was my most earnest wish that, for the present at least, Lady Henriette should keep quiet in the background with her charge. We had words--" "Ah!" I had heard enough to know that there had been a strong difference of opinion, a sharp quarrel probably, and that Lady Claire had not spared her sister at this fresh exhibition of ridiculous weakness. "May I ask, please, whether you were to believe in me or not?" I resumed, taking up the discussion where I had left it.

I will go, but under protest." She led the way herself and entered the carriage first, motioning to Victorine to hand her the baby and take her seat inside. But I also got in without invitation, only explaining that it might not be wise to show myself on the box. The coachman had his orders, and he drove off briskly along the Marlioz road till he reached the turning towards the head of the lake. In less than an hour we pulled up before the Hôtel Dent du Chat, a simple, unpretending hostelry, to which I had telegraphed in advance, stating my needs. We were received with profuse civility, the best of everything placed at our disposal, a best at which Lady Henriette, as I might have expected, turned up her nose, sniffing and scornful. She uttered no complaint, she would not address a word to me; her air was one of lofty, contemptuous reserve; she intimated plainly that we were "dead cuts." Only at the last, just as I was driving away and lifted my hat in farewell, she yielded to an impulse of despair, and seized my arm in almost frenzied appeal. I can never face this place alone." Her last appeal touched me to the quick. Once more I sought to explain the dire necessity for this act that seemed so barbarous, but she was deaf to all my arguments, and still clung to me nervously as I climbed into the carriage.

When at length I got away, and I persisted in leaving, being so fully satisfied it was for the best, her piteous, reproachful accents still rung in my ears, and I shall count that return drive to Aix as the most miserable hour I have passed in my life. The whole episode had occupied much time, and it was already past one when I reëntered the town. I drove straight to the railway station, and was met outside it by the faithful l'Echelle. They have gone half an hour ago, and not by the eastern but the western express." "You saw them?" "I spoke to them. Falfani himself told me of the change in their plans. The latest news from their man in the south was so positive, and has so convinced my lord, that he is hastening full speed to join Tiler, and they are only too delighted to leave you behind." I laughed aloud with intense satisfaction.

You have no reason to fear them?" "Not the least in the world, they are playing into my hands. I shall be glad to go on with the baths." But I was thinking really of that poor creature I had abandoned at Le Bourget, and overjoyed to think that I might now meet her wishes, and perchance regain something of her good-will. Once more I took the road to Le Bourget, driving over by the first fiacre I could pick up on the stand, a much slower journey than the first, and it was nearly 3 P.M. when I reached the little hotel.

"Madame went very soon after monsieur," said the patronne, in high dudgeon. She called me up and said I was to bring her the Indicateur. Then she must have a carriage as soon as it could be prepared to drive her to Culoz, fifteen miles away, meaning to take the train from there." "Not to Aix?" "Assuredly not, for when I suggested that she could more easily find the train there she told me to hold my tongue, that she knew very well what she was about, and wanted no observations from me." To Culoz? She was bound then to follow her sister, I felt sure of it; and I was aghast, foreshadowing the new dangers opening before her. It was as much as I could do to restrain myself when I saw my gallant knight, the Colonel, rush at that despicable creature, Lord Blackadder, and shake him. I wanted to put my head out of the window and cry, "Well done!" But I saw the folly of it, much as I was delighted, and checked any demonstration of joy. I had no time to spare for anything outside our settled plan, so I jumped out on to the platform at once, and closely followed by Philpotts joined Henriette, and cried: "Quick, quick, dear, the train goes on in less than ten minutes. Give me the child, we must exchange again." "What do you mean?" she gasped, and looked at me dazed and bewildered.

Why?" "Because Blackadder is over there, and in another minute or two the child will be taken forcibly from you. I do not understand, not in the least. I haven't heard, I do not know." "Go on to Fuentellato with the dummy. It is the easiest thing in the world. They will follow you, Colonel Annesley will see to that, while I carry our darling to some secure hiding-place and keep out of sight until we can meet.

There, do not, for heaven's sake, delay. Give me the child." "I can't, I can't. To think that now at the eleventh hour you should fail me and break down. Let me take little Ralph;" and I put out my arms for the child, which Victorine held.

But the mother stood between us, seized the baby convulsively, and with a gesture of repulsion cried: "Go away, go away, you shall not have him. I don't care what happens, I will keep him against all the world." I pleaded and stormed in turn, I tried everything but force, all without avail. My foolish sister seemed to have taken leave of her senses; she thought nothing of the nearly certain collapse of our schemes, her one overmastering idea was, like any tigress, to resist all attempts to deprive her of her cub. Meanwhile the time ran on. Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M. If I lingered I should lose it, no great matter perhaps, seeing that the exchange, my principal object, had not been made; but if I remained with Henriette, she with her baby and I with mine, the whole of the artifice might at any moment be laid bare. I had to decide then and there, and all I could think of at the time was to keep the enemy in the dark as to the doubled part of the baby. That was clearly the wisest course, and I should have taken it, but I was sorely vexed and put out by her obstinate refusal to play her part; and I told her so. "Once more and for the last time, Henriette, will you do what I want?" I asked her peremptorily. She only hugged her baby the closer and whispered a soft lullaby.

"Then I shall go on with the other. They may still be drawn after me, and leave you to your own devices. The only thing for you to do is to take the first train the other way,--it will be here in ten minutes,--keep low and you may get through into Italy unobserved." "Are you really deserting me?" she cried piteously. "When shall I see you again?" "I shall go round the long journey to Marseilles, by the South of France, and will join you at Fuentellato. There is no reason why you should not get there. Colonel Annesley will detain the others here, you may be sure of that.

Good-bye, now," and without another word Philpotts and I ran round, regained the up platform, resumed our seats by the narrowest margin and proceeded on our way to Amberieu. The reaction from this agitating scene was little less than despair and collapse. Hardly, she had not the nerve, I had almost said the wit, to escape alone from the toils and snares that encompassed her. I blamed myself, I became a prey to the bitterest self-reproach for having abandoned her, for allowing myself to give way to temper, and treat her so cruelly. As the train rattled on, one thought took possession of me. I must get out and go back instantly, at least at the very first opportunity. I must retrace my steps and return again to Culoz, where I hoped to be in time to support and strengthen her, please God save her from the consequences of my unkind and ill-considered action.

Accordingly, at the very next station, Virieu, I alighted. In less than an hour I was in the return train and once more at Culoz, where, sending Philpotts to hide with her charge in the inmost recesses of the ladies' waiting-room, I vainly explored the station for any signs of Henriette, but to my delight she was nowhere in sight. The place was still in a turmoil, the consequences no doubt of the affray expressly begun by Colonel Annesley to befriend me. I narrowly escaped being seen by some of my enemies, but they were evidently too much preoccupied by their indignation at the outrage put upon that great personage, Lord Blackadder. I passed within an inch or two of my gallant Colonel and was sorely tempted to speak to him, but was deterred by the possible mischief it might entail. I was relieved when they all took seats in the eastward bound train, going only as far as Aix-les-Bains, where, as I heard it stated by the Culoz officials, the case was to be submitted to the Commissary of Police. Although not fully satisfied as to Henriette, I was so far satisfied by coming upon all the parties, Ralph, Blackadder, and the rest, at Culoz, that she had disappeared from the scene without interference. I debated with myself whether I should not follow my sister to Fuentellato, to which I made sure she had gone, and I had every reason to hope that I could eventually join her there. But it seemed to be throwing away that same chance of mystification which I had always kept in view, which might have served me so well but for her weakness, and I still clung to my hope of drawing them after me on the wrong scent.

At one time I thought of venturing boldly into their midst and appearing openly at Aix; but this would probably end in abruptly pricking the bubble, and nothing more was to be done. I thought of sending Philpotts to hunt up the Colonel and convey a letter to him detailing my situation, and was much taken with this idea, which I presently rejected because I did not clearly see what good could come of it. I was tortured with doubts, unable to decide for the best, and at last, from sheer inability to choose, resolved to adhere to my original plan of travelling south. I would at least go to Marseilles, which I could reach that very night, and once there would be guided by circumstances, seeking only to control them to the extent of reporting my whereabouts to Henriette at Fuentellato, and to the Colonel via London as arranged. This as it proved was the very wisest course I could have adopted, as will presently appear. There was no train due westward till 12.40, and I had to put in nearly three solid hours, which I spent in wandering into the village, where I found an unpretending auberge and a rather uneatable breakfast. A slow train to Amberieu, a still slower cross journey to Lyons, which I did not reach till nearly 4 P.M., and learnt that another hour or more must elapse before the departure of the next Marseilles express. The journey seemed interminable, but just as I was losing all patience, I received a fillip that awoke me to alertness, and set all my nerves tingling. The man Tiler, the second detective, the man whom I had already befooled more than once, was there now on the platform, waiting like myself to embark upon the 5.19 train south to Marseilles.

Ludovic Tiler he was busily engaged in conversation with one of the guards and a couple of porters.

From his gestures, no doubt, he was describing our party, and I was half-inclined to walk up to him and say "Behold!" But then I drew back hesitating. I did not fear him in the least, but he would be sure to draw the others to him, and I did not quite like the idea of having three of them on my hands at once, and with no Colonel on my side.

I could only communicate with Colonel Annesley by a roundabout process, and it might take him some time to reach me, even if he was not otherwise engaged by Henriette. This Tiler man would of course stick to me and follow me if he had the faintest clue, and I let him have that by directing Philpotts to show herself, passing quite close to him and walking on towards the train. She was to return then to the waiting-room, where together we made some change in our appearance. There were other cloaks in the bundle of rugs, which we put on over those we were wearing. More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. Tiler certainly did not recognize us as we walked separately to the train. He had his suspicions, however, for as soon as we started he walked through the long line of couloir carriages, deliberately peering and prying, examining the passengers of every compartment. He passed us at first, and was much put out, I could see, disappointed no doubt, but he came back presently and stood for some time at our window, while I hid my face in among the rugs, and Philpotts cowered in a corner. He came back more than once during the journey and stared. He was evidently in great doubt, so much so that I began to fear he would sheer off altogether.

That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby? I could enter into the workings of his mind on that point. Hidden it, left it somewhere on the road in the lost property office or at a foundling hospital?

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? To tie him still to our heels, I took the opportunity of having the compartment to ourselves to revive and reconstitute the dummy. The baby was quickly reborn behind the drawn blinds of the carriage, and when at last we arrived at Marseilles at 10.30 P.M.

we sallied forth and marched in solemn procession to the Terminus Hotel under the very eyes of our watchful detective. I almost laughed in his face as we entered the lift near the outer door, and were carried up to our rooms upon the second floor. I slept late, and when I woke, refreshed and fortified against anything that might come, I looked out on to the little square with its fringe of plane-trees, and saw my friend Mr. He had the hotel under observation that was clear, and it was little I should be able to do that day unknown to him. It did not worry me in the least, for in the early hours of calm reflection that followed deep, restful sleep, I had thought out the course I should pursue. I no longer dreaded pursuit; let them all come, the more the merrier, and I meant to fully justify Mr. Tiler in calling them to him. I dressed slowly, lingered leisurely over my luncheon-déjeuner, and then ordered a carriage, a comfortable landau and pair.

I meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing. It was a brilliant day, the Southern sun struck with semi-tropical fervour, the air was soft and sleepy in the oppressive heat. I brought out the baby undeterred, and installed it, slumbering peacefully, on Philpotts's knees in the seat before me, and lying back with ostentatious indifference, drove off in full view of the detective. I shot one glance back as I turned down the long slope leading to the Grâce-à-Dieu Street, and was pleased to see that he had jumped into a fiacre and was coming on after me. I led him up and down and round and round, street after street, all along the great Cannebière and out towards the Reserve, where Roubion's Restaurant offers his celebrated fish stew, bouillabaise, to all comers. Then when Mr. Tiler's weedy horse began to show signs of distress, for my sturdy pair had outpaced him sorely, I relented and reëntered the town, meaning to make a long halt at the office of Messrs. Cook and Son, the universal friends of all travellers far and near. I had long had an idea in my mind that the most promising, if not the only effective method of ending our trouble would be to put the seas between us and the myrmidons of the Courts.

I had always hoped to escape to some far-off country where the King's writ does not run, where we could settle down under genial skies, amid pleasant surroundings, at a distance from the worries and miseries of life. Now, with the enemy close at hand, and the real treasure in my foolish sister's care, I could not expect to evade them, but I might surely beguile and lead them astray. This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices. The object I had in view was to get a list of steamers leaving the port of Marseilles within the next two or three days, and their destination. As everybody knows, there is a constant moving of shipping East, West, and South, and it ought not to be difficult to pick out something to suit me. The obliging clerk at the counter gave me abundant, almost unending, information. "To the East?

Why, surely, there are several opportunities. The P.

has half a dozen steamers for the East, pointing first for Port Said and Suez Canal, and bound to India, Ceylon, China, and the Antipodes; the same line for Gibraltar and the West. The Messagéries Maritime, for all Mediterranean ports, the General Navigation of Italy for Genoa and Naples, the Transatlantique for various Algerian ports, Tunis, Bône, Philippeville, and Algiers, other companies serving the coast of Morocco and especially Tangier." Truly an embarrassing choice!

I took a note of all that suited, and promised to return after I had made a round of the shipping offices,--another jaunt for Tiler, and a pretty plain indication of what was in my mind.

That it was somewhat out of the way, neither easy to reach nor to leave, as the steamers came and went rarely, served my purpose well. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked. Accordingly, I secured a good cabin on board the S.S. Oasis of the Transatlantique, leaving Marseilles for Tripoli at 8 A.M. the following Sunday, and paid the necessary deposit on the passage ticket. It was a satisfaction to me to see my "shadow's" fiacre draw up at the door soon after I left, and Mr.

Ludovic Tiler enter the office. I made no doubt he would contrive, very cleverly as he thought, to find out exactly what I had been doing with regard to the Oasis. Later in the day, out of mere curiosity, I walked down to the offices to ask a trivial question about my baggage. It was easy to turn the talk to other matters connected with the voyage and my fellow passengers. Several other cabins had been engaged, two of them in the name of Ludovic Tiler.

There was nothing left for me but to bide my time.

We were really waiting for each other, and we knew enough of each other's plans to bide in tranquil expectation of what we thought must certainly follow. When I was at dinner in the hotel restaurant he calmly came into the room, merely to pass his eye over me as it were, and I took it so much as a matter of course that I looked up, and felt half-inclined to give him a friendly nod.

We were like duellists saluting each other before we crossed swords, each relying upon his own superior skill. [We need not reproduce in detail the rest of the matters set forth by Lady Claire Standish while she and the detective watched each other at Marseilles.

Tiler, on the Saturday morning, made it plain, from his arrogance and self-sufficient air as he walked through the hotel restaurant, that all was going well, and he had indeed heard from Falfani that he would arrive with Lord Blackadder that night. Later on that Saturday a telegram from Culoz reached Lady Claire from Colonel Annesley giving the latest news, and bringing down Lady Henriette's movements to the time of her departure for Marseilles. He promised a later message from somewhere along the road with later information, and soon after 9 P.M. Lady Claire was told they were coming through by the night train, due at Marseilles at 4 A.M. Thus all the parties to this imbroglio were about to be concentrated in the same place, and it must depend upon the skill and determination of one clever woman to turn events her way.] She goes on to say: It was a shock to me to hear that Henriette still lingered on the fringe of danger, and I was very much disturbed at finding she might be running into the very teeth of it. But I trusted to my good fortune, and, better still, to good management, to keep her out of harm's way until the coast was clear. I was on the platform at 10 P.M. watching for the Blackadder lot when they appeared.

Tiler was there to receive them and spoke a few words to my lord, who instantly looked round, for me no doubt, and I slipped away.

I did not wish to anticipate a crisis, and he was quite capable of making a scene, even at the hotel at that time of night. I was relieved at seeing him pass on, and the more so that he did not take the turn into the Terminus Hotel, my hotel, but went towards the entrance where a carriage was waiting for him. He meant of course to put up in the town, either at the Noailles or the Louvre. I lay down to take a short rest, but was roused in time to be again on the platform at 4 A.M. The Colonel came to the rescue as usual, and said briefly, after we had shaken hands: "Take charge of her, Lady Claire, I will see to everything now. We can talk later." "Can you be at the entrance to the hotel in a couple of hours' time? I shall want your advice, probably your assistance." "You know you have only to ask," he answered, with the prompt, soldierlike obedience, and the honest, unflinching look in his eyes that I knew so well and loved in him. I felt now that I should succeed in the difficult task I had set myself. The plan I had conceived and hoped to work out was to send Lord Blackadder to sea, all the way to Tripoli, with Philpotts and the sham child.

We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. The Oasis had her blue peter flying, and a long gangway stretched from her side to the shore, up and down which a crowd passed ceaselessly, passengers embarking, porters with luggage, and dock hands with freight. At the top of the slope was the chief steward and his men, in full dress, white shirts, white ties, and white gloves, who welcomed us, asking the number of our stateroom, and offering to relieve us of our light baggage. One put out his arms to take the baby from Philpotts, but she shook her head vigorously, and I cried in French that it was too precious. Next moment a voice I recognized said: "Certainly they are there, and they have it with them. "No violence, if you please, or you may make the acquaintance of another police commissary." I had heard the whole story of the affair at Aix from the Colonel, who I may say at once I had seen shortly before, and who was at no great distance now. I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us. Let me pass; I cannot stay here, it would poison me to breathe the same air. Down-stairs I found Philpotts in the cabin, busily engaged in putting her "doll" to bed in the third berth. "Are you at all afraid of being left with these wretches?" I asked a little doubtfully, counting upon her devotion, but loth to lay too great a burden on her.

What can they do to me? They will be furiously angry, of course, but the laugh will be against them. If the worst comes to the worst they will appeal to the captain, and they will get no satisfaction from him. You shall hear from Tripoli to the same hotel in Marseilles." "If we go on your letter will follow us. Come back there as soon as you possibly can and you will find further instructions. Now it must be good-bye, there goes the bell to warn people ashore. One last word: I advise you when well out to sea to go to my lord and offer to go over to his side and desert me altogether. Tell him you will help him to get the child,--that you will put it into his hands indeed,--at a price." "As if I would touch his dirty money, my lady!" "It will be only spoiling the Egyptians! You know I shall always be your firm friend whatever you do, and that I shall never forget what I owe you." I should have said much more, but now the second bell was ringing, and if I was to carry out my scheme it was time for me to go.

On leaving the cabin I walked forward along the lower deck seeking another issue, the position of which I had fixed the day before, having visited the Oasis on purpose. In a minute I had emerged into the open air, and found myself in the midst of the sailors sending down cargo into the forehold. "This way, Lady Claire, only a couple of steps," said the Colonel as he led me to the side of the steamer farthest from the shore. A ladder was fixed here and a boat was made fast to the lowest rung.

Carefully, tenderly guided by my ever trusty henchman I made the descent, took my seat in the stern of the small boat, it was cast loose, and we pushed off into the waterway. Half an hour later we were back at the Terminus Hotel. For the first time in all that stirring and eventful week I breathed freely.

At any rate the present peril was overpast, we had eluded pursuit, and had a clear time of perfect security to consider our situation and look ahead. She was very humble and apologetic, and disarmed me if I had intended to take her to task for all the trouble and anxiety she had caused us. I have been scolded quite enough these last twenty-four hours. I never met a man I disliked so much as your fine friend, that Colonel Annesley, the rudest, most presuming, overbearing wretch. He talked to me and ordered me about as if I was still in the schoolroom, he actually dared to find fault with my actions, and dictated to me what I should do next. He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice?

"Why, of course, he thinks all the world of you. You know of your latest conquest, I suppose?" "There are things one does not care to discuss, my dear, even with one's sister," I answered, rather coldly. You are free to choose, I was not," and her eyes filled with tears at the sad shipwreck of her married life. But how can I keep him after that wicked decision of the Court, and with such a persistent enemy as Ralph Blackadder? For the moment we are safe, but by and by he will come back, he will leave no stone unturned until he finds me, and I shall lose my darling for ever." The hopelessness of evading pursuit for any time sorely oppressed me, too. There seemed no safety but in keeping continually on the move, in running to and fro and changing our hiding place so soon as danger of discovery loomed near. Yet, after a pleasant déjeuner, the three of us held a council of war. "The thing is perfectly simple," said my dear Colonel, in his peremptory, but to me reassuring fashion. You must go as quickly as you can get there, to Tangier." "Tangier!" I cried, amazed.

It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on. "You have broken the law, you are flying from the law, and you are amenable to it all the world over, save and except in Morocco alone. You must go to Tangier, there is no extradition, the King's warrant does not run there. You will be perfectly safe if you elect to stay there, safe for the rest of your days." "You seem very anxious to get rid of us and bury us at the back of beyond," I said, nettled and unable to conceal my chagrin at the matter-of-fact way in which he wished to dispose of us. "I venture to hope I may be permitted to accompany you, and remain with you--" It was now Henriette's turn to laugh outright at this rather blunt proposal, and I regret to add that I blushed a rosy red. "To remain with you and near you so long as my services may be required," he went on, gravely, by no means the interpretation my sister had put upon his remark; for he fixed his eyes on me with unmistakable meaning, and held them so fixedly that I could not look away. There could no longer be any doubt how "it stood with us;" my heart went out to him then and there, and I nodded involuntarily, more in answer to his own thoughts than his suggestion.

I knew from the gladness on his frank, handsome face that he understood and rejoiced. "You see," he went on, quickly, dealing with the pressing matter in hand, "I know all about the place. Sport in the season, and plenty of galloping ground. The point is, how we should travel?" I could be of service in this; my inquiries at Cook's had qualified me to act as a shipping clerk, and we soon settled to take a steamer of the Bibby Line due that afternoon, which would land us at Gibraltar in two or three days. Thence to Tangier was only like crossing a ferry. The Colonel's man, l'Echelle, was sent to secure cabins, and we caught the ship in due course.

Three days later we were soon comfortably settled in the Hotel Atlas, just above the wide sweep of sands that encircle the bay. It was the season of fierce heat, but we faced the northern breezes full of invigorating ozone. Tangier, the wildest, quaintest, most savage spot on the face of the globe, was to me the most enchanting. Our impressions take their colour from the passing mood; we like or loathe a place according to the temper in which we view it. I was so utterly and foolishly happy in this most Eastern city located in the West that I have loved it deeply ever since.

After the trying and eventful episodes of the past week I had passed into a tranquil haven filled with perfect peace. The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. I could calmly await the issue, content to enjoy the moment and forget the past like a bad dream.

It was sufficient to bask in the sunshine, revelling in the free air, rejoicing in the sweetness of my nascent love. We were much together, Basil and I; we walked together, exploring the recesses of the native town, and the ancient citadel, with its memories of British dominion; we lingered in the Soko or native market, crowded with wild creatures from the far interior; we rode together, for his first care was to secure horses, and scoured the country as far as the Marshan and Cape Spartel. But even she brightened as the days ran on and brought no fresh disquiet, while her boy, sweet little Ralph, developed in health and strength. A week passed thus, a week of unbroken quiet, flawless as the unchanging blue of a summer sky; not a cloud in sight, not a suspicion of coming disturbance and unrest.

To imagine it was to fall asleep in a fool's paradise, lulled into false serenity by the absence of portents so often shrouded and unseen until they break upon us. They had recrossed the Mediterranean together in the same ship, the Oasis. "So far all well," she said, "but am watched closely, will certainly follow me--send instructions--better not join you at present." This message fell on us two poor women like a bolt from the blue.

Basil looked serious for a moment, but then laughed scornfully. There is not the slightest fear. He may bluster and bully as much as he pleases, or rather, as far as he is permitted to go.

We will place ourselves under the protection of the Moorish bashaw. At the same time he can give you no protection. He will follow with his men, they are well-trained detectives, and it will be mere child's play for them to track us to Tangier. You may look for them here any day. We must be ready for them at all points." "There is no saying what Ralph Blackadder may not attempt." "Indeed, yes, he is equal to anything, guile of course, treachery, cunning, stratagem, absolute violence if the opportunity offers.

It is of the utmost importance not to play into his hands, not to give him the smallest chance. The child must be watched continually in the house, awake and asleep, wherever he goes and whatever he does." "Then I think Henriette must be warned not to wander about the town and on the sands in the way she's been doing with Victorine and the child, all of them on donkey back. I grudged her the smallest pleasure, while I was racing up and down flirting and philandering with Basil Annesley all day and every day; she was to sit indoors, bored to extinction and suffering torments in the unbearable heat.

Basil and I agreed that it was cruel to restrict her movements even with such a good excuse, and had she been willing to accept the irksome conditions, which she certainly was not. We arranged a surveillance, therefore, unknown to her. The Colonel, his man, or myself invariably accompanied her or followed her within eyeshot; and we hired two or three stalwart Moors, who were always to be near enough to render help if required. Then came confirmations of our worst fears. L'Echelle, who had been unaccountably absent one morning, returned about midday with news from the port. Lord Blackadder and his two henchmen had just landed from the José Pielago, the steamer that runs regularly between Cadiz and Algeçiras, Gibraltar, and Tangier.

He had seen them in the custom-house, fighting their way through the crowd of ragged Jew porters, the Moorish egg merchants, and dealers in luscious fruit. They had mounted donkeys, the only means of conveyance in a town with no wheeled vehicles; and l'Echelle made us laugh at the sorry picture presented by the indignant peer, with his legs dangling down on each side of the red leather saddle. Their baggage was also piled on donkeys, and the whole procession, familiar enough in the narrow streets of Tangier, climbed the hill to the Soko, and made for the Shereef Hotel, reputed one of the best in Tangier, and lying outside the walls in the immediate neighbourhood of the British Legation. L'Echelle, who seems an honest, loyal fellow, thought he would serve us best by marking them down, and, if possible, renewing his acquaintance with the detectives, one or both of whom he knew. After hanging about the outside of the hotel, he entered the garden boldly and went up to the shady trellised verandah where they were seated together, smoking and refreshing themselves after their journey. Falfani, my friend of the Calais train, believed he had suborned him at Aix, and now hailed his appearance with much satisfaction. L'Echelle might again be most useful; at least, he could lead them to us, and he wisely decided to let Falfani know where we were to be found in Tangier. The fact would surely be discovered without him.

It was better, he thought, to appear frank, and, by instilling confidence, learn all there was to know of their plans and movements. My lord had gone to the Legation, Falfani told him at once, bombastically boasting that everything would yield before him. He had but to express his wishes, and there would be an end of the hunt. But my lord came back in a furious rage, and, regardless of l'Echelle's--a comparative stranger's--presence, burst forth into passionate complaint against the Minister. He would teach Sir Arthur to show proper respect to a peer of the realm; he would cable at once to the Foreign Office and insist on this second-rate diplomatist's recall. The upshot of it all was that his lordship's demand for help had been refused pointblank, and no doubt, after what the Colonel had heard, in rather abrupt, outspoken terms. All this and more l'Echelle brought back to us at the Atlas Hotel. He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property. As the fitting end of his violent declamation, Ralph Blackadder had left the hotel hurriedly, calling upon his creatures to follow him, bent, as it seemed, to perpetrate some mad act. I confess I shuddered at the thought of this reckless, unprincipled man loose about Tangier, vowing vengeance, and resolved to go to any lengths to secure it.

But even he quailed at the sudden shock that fell upon us at the very same moment. After the first excitement, we desired to pass on the news brought by l'Echelle to her, and renew our entreaties for extreme caution in her comings and goings; and with much misgiving we learnt that she was not in the hotel. It had been l'Echelle's turn to accompany her, but he had been diverted from his duty by the pressing necessity of following Lord Blackadder. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour.

Could she have fallen a victim to the machinations of Lord Blackadder? Was the boy captured and she detained while he was spirited away? We doubted the more when the man turned up in person at the Atlas Hotel and had the effrontery to ask for her. Basil went out to him in the outer hall, and, as I listened from within, I immediately heard high words.

It was like a spark applied to tinder; a fierce quarrel blazed up instantly between them. I come to demand the restoration of that which belongs to me.

It is the most impudent pretence; you know perfectly well he is not here." "I will not bandy words with you. Go in, you men, both of you, Tiler and Falfani, and seize the child. I could not possibly hold aloof, but called for help from the hotel people, and, with them at my back, rushed out to add my protest against this intemperate conduct. The three assailants, Ralph Blackadder behind egging them on, had thrown themselves upon Basil, who stood sturdily at bay with his back to the wall, daring them to come on, and prepared to strike out at the first man who touched him. But even as he spoke his voice weakened, he halted abruptly; his hands went up into the air, his body swayed to and fro, his strength left him completely, and he fell to the ground in sudden and complete collapse.

When they picked him up, there was froth mixed with blood upon his lips, he breathed once or twice heavily, stertorously, and then with one long-drawn gasp died in the arms of his two men. It was an apoplectic seizure, the doctors told us later, brought on by excessive nervous irritation of the brain. Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. While the servants of the hotel attended to the stricken man, Basil Annesley plied the detectives with eager questions. He urged them to tell all they knew; it should be made worth their while; they no longer owed allegiance to their late employer.

He entreated them to withhold nothing. We could get nothing out of these men; they refused to answer our questions from sheer mulish obstinacy, as we thought at first, but we saw at length that they did not understand us. They assured us they had seen no lady, nor had the unfortunate peer accosted any one, or interfered with any one on his way between the two hotels. He had come straight from the Villa Shereef to the Hotel Atlas, racing down at a run, pausing nowhere, addressing no one on the road. If not Lord Blackadder, what then? Full of anxiety, Basil called for a horse, and was about to ride off to institute a hue and cry, when my sister appeared in person upon the scene. Not on my account, surely?" I took her aside, and in a few words told her of the terrible catastrophe that had just occurred, and for a time she was silent and seemed quite overcome.

Have you taken leave of your senses?" "Know that I have discovered the whole plot of which I was the victim. They were bribed to go away, and they have been here hiding in Tangier." "Go on, go on. Tell me, please, all about it." "You must know we went out, the three of us, on our donkeys, and the fancy seized me to explore some of the dark, narrow streets where the houses all but join overhead. I could not even see the sky, and at last desired Achmet to get me out into the open, anywhere. After one or two sharp turns, we emerged upon a sort of plateau or terrace high above the sea, and in full view of it. "There was a small hotel in front of it, and above the door was the name of the proprietor, would you believe it, Domenico Bruel! "It was the name of Susan's husband, and no doubt Susan was there. I thought of sending Achmet back for you or the Colonel, but I could not bear parting with him. Then, while I was still hesitating, Susan herself came out and rushed across to where I was, with her hands outstretched and fairly beside herself, laughing and crying by turns. It is you, then?

He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here. Can you forgive me?' "All this she poured forth, and much more of the same sort. Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed. It will be put right now, now that Ralph can no longer oppose it." I bowed my head silently, thankful and deeply impressed with the strange turn taken by events and the sudden light let in upon the darkness that had surrounded us. The rest of the adventures that began in the sleeping-car between Calais and Basle, and came abruptly to an end on the North African shore, may soon be told.

Our first act was to return to England at the very earliest opportunity, and we embarked that evening on a Forwood steamer direct for London, which port we reached in less than five days. Town was empty, and we did not linger there. Nothing could be done in the Courts, as it was the legal vacation, but Henriette's solicitors arranged to send out a commission to take the Bruels' evidence at Tangier, and to bring the matter before The President at the earliest opportunity. As for ourselves, I persuaded Henriette to take a cottage at Marlow on the Upper Thames, where Colonel Annesley was a constant guest, and Charlie Forrester. We four passed many idle halcyon days on the quiet river, far from the noise of trains, and content to leave Bradshaw in the bottom of the travelling-bag, where it had been thrown at the end of our feverish wanderings. Once more we found ourselves at Calais with Philpotts, but no encumbrances, bound on a second, a far happier, and much less eventful journey by the Engadine express. /

The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.For one hour at least we had maintained a profound silence; while each, to any casual observer, might have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of the chamber. Another took two loud sounds and out of them made a silence. 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 valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master. “And you have not seen it?” he said abruptly, after having stared about him for some moments in silence--“you have not then seen it?--but, stay! While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened--there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind--the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight--my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder--there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters--and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “House of Usher.” SILENCE--A FABLE ALCMAN. And there is no quiet there, nor silence. And by the shores of the river Zaire there is neither quiet nor silence. “Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs of the water-lilies. And I looked upon the characters of the rock, and they were changed;--and the characters were SILENCE. But there was no voice throughout the vast illimitable desert, and the characters upon the rock were SILENCE.

And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. There was then a long and obstinate silence. Here, too, are some chefs d’oeuvre of the unknown great; and here, unfinished designs by men, celebrated in their day, whose very names the perspicacity of the academies has left to silence and to me. Then silence, and stillness, night were the universe. These shadows of memory tell, indistinctly, of tall figures that lifted and bore me in silence down--down--still down--till a hideous dizziness oppressed me at the mere idea of the interminableness of the descent. 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. As I turned the corner of the gable, the mastiff bounded towards me in stern silence, but with the eye and the whole air of a tiger. The pitiable condition of my dupe had thrown an air of embarrassed gloom over all; and, for some moments, a profound silence was maintained, during which I could not help feeling my cheeks tingle with the many burning glances of scorn or reproach cast upon me by the less abandoned of the party.

He hesitated but for an instant; then, with a slight sigh, drew in silence, and put himself upon his defence. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. Through the gray of the early morning--among the trellised shadows of the forest at noonday--and in the silence of my library at night--she had flitted by my eyes, and I had seen her--not as the living and breathing Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream; not as a being of the earth, earthy, but as the abstraction of such a being; not as a thing to admire, but to analyze; not as an object of love, but as the theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation. He told of a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night--of the gathering together of the household--of a search in the direction of the sound; and then his tones grew thrillingly distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave--of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet still breathing--still palpitating--still alive!

We called it the “River of Silence”; for there seemed to be a hushing influence in its flow. It was one evening at the close of the third lustrum of her life, and of the fourth of my own, that we sat, locked in each other’s embrace, beneath the serpent-like trees, and looked down within the water of the River of Silence at our images therein. She had seen that the finger of Death was upon her bosom--that, like the ephemeron, she had been made perfect in loveliness only to die; but the terrors of the grave to her lay solely in a consideration which she revealed to me, one evening at twilight, by the banks of the River of Silence.

And the lulling melody that had been softer than the wind-harp of Aeolus, and more divine than all save the voice of Eleonora, it died little by little away, in murmurs growing lower and lower, until the stream returned, at length, utterly, into the solemnity of its original silence. And once--but once again in the silence of the night; there came through my lattice the soft sighs which had forsaken me; and they modelled themselves into familiar and sweet voice, saying: “Sleep in peace!--for the Spirit of Love reigneth and ruleth, and, in taking to thy passionate heart her who is Ermengarde, thou art absolved, for reasons which shall be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora.” /

We arranged that she should go alone, while I awaited for her at our inn.The window-shutters as well as the door were closed; and it was impossible to obtain even a glimpse of the interior. 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.

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. 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. “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.

“We shall see.” The key was tried, and it proved to be the key of the house. Those who anticipated the discovery of a crime, were unhappily not deceived. The furniture was knocked about, and a chest of drawers and two large trunks had been forced and broken open. All one side of the face and the hair were burnt; it seemed a miracle that the fire had not caught her clothing. here between the shoulders,” replied the corporal; “two fierce blows, by my faith. “We are not here to talk, but to discover the guilty,” said he to the corporal. We must leave everything here as it is. What were her habits, her morals, and what sort of company did she keep?

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. 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.

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. 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. She was a woman about fifty-four or fifty-five years of age, well preserved, active, and in the enjoyment of excellent health. 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. 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 took pleasure in treating her acquaintances, and her dinners were excellent.

She was supposed, however, to have seen the world, and to know a great deal. 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. Her remarks were often most offensive and odious in the mouth of a woman of her age. 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.

These men were reported to be her lovers. 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.

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. 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. The commissary, by this time heartily tired of his responsibilities, welcomed the investigating magistrate and his agents as liberators. “You have proceeded very well,” observed the investigating magistrate. She was last seen and spoken to on the evening of Shrove Tuesday, at twenty minutes past five. We must find the tall sunburnt man, the gallant in the blouse. The brandy and the wine were intended for his entertainment. “Now that I think of it,” cried he, “was it not on Tuesday that the weather changed? 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. If they were dry, he arrived sooner. 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. 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. The drawers had been pulled out and thrown upon the floor. 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. 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.

From time to time Gevrol stopped to swear or grumble. The scoundrel is a cool hand!” “Well, what do you make of it?” at length demanded the investigating magistrate. “We are baffled for the present.

He has carried off the plate and the jewels.

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. At the Prefecture we have nicknamed him ‘Tirauclair,’ from a phrase he is constantly in the habit of repeating. 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. I have known you for a long time, and I know your worth; but to-day we happen to differ in opinion.

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. All the people interrogated, however, obstinately tried to impart to the magistrate their own convictions and personal conjectures. They could point out neither the child nor the woman; but no matter: these brutal acts were notoriously public. “As of my existence,” answered the woman, “for, on that evening, yes, it was evening, she was, saving your presence, a little tipsy. He was weak-headed, and forged ideas out of nothing at all. 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. 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!

I answered yes. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. “Perhaps you would do well to wait a little,” answered M. “This man was seen on Sunday morning; we will inquire into Widow Lerouge’s movements on that day.” Three neighbours were called.

To one woman who, hearing she was unwell, had visited her, she said, “Ah! 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. 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. He was very comfortably dressed, clean as a new franc piece, displaying linen of dazzling whiteness, and wearing silk gloves and leather gaiters. 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. 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 am on the track of the man with the earrings,” said he; “the boat went down the river.

We are thus assured of the hour. Well deign to glance at these lumps of damp plaster. heel high, instep pronounced, sole small and narrow,--an elegant boot, belonging to a foot well cared for evidently. At the entrance to the garden, the man leapt to avoid a flower bed! We have traced the young man into the house. Daburon, “very true.” “Now, then we have got the young man seated. Then, his heart failing him, he asked for brandy, and swallowed about five small glassfuls. 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. 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? 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. “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. “You may well believe, that, to reach the railway station, he was not fool enough to take the omnibus. Gevrol, out of my own pocket.” “If they should however find this bundle!” murmured M.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. They were fortunate enough to secure a 1st class carriage to themselves. 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. But what, I should like to know, is your reason for adopting this employment?” “Sorrow, sir, loneliness, weariness. “I am well off, sir,” he replied; “but I have not always been so. When I was five and twenty years of age. 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! “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. It is thirty years now since that time; well! Well, I was quite an old man when my father died, the wretch, the--” “M. 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!

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. And I was forty-five years old, and for twenty years I had been reproaching myself if ever I spent a single sou uselessly. I resigned my situation, however, to make way for some one poorer than myself.

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!

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! I shrug my shoulders when I see a foolish fellow pay twenty-five francs for the right of hunting a hare. 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. 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. If you have any occasion to speak to me, do not hesitate to come at night as well as during the day. “Till to-morrow,” replied old Tabaret; and he added, “We shall succeed.” CHAPTER III. 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. He went out at every hour of the day and night, often slept abroad, and even disappeared for entire weeks at a time. This did not, however, prevent many of his tenants from seeking his society and paying court to him. 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. 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. “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. Fortunately, however, I was there. His fair ones do treat him well! 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. 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. “You were obliged--?” repeated Manette. He hastily swallowed his soup which was completely cold.

I can well believe the dear old dame wanted for nothing. “Yes, you may bring it to me,” he answered. 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. 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. “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. “Do not speak of it, sir: we have just had a fright! but this evening?” “After her dinner, madame went into the drawing-room as usual.

We hastened to her; madame had fallen on to the floor, as one dead. 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. These were the first words that met his eye.

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. 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. 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. 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 had to avenge myself for cruel injuries; her death breaks the weapon in my hands, and reduces me to despair, to impotence. What connection could possibly exist between Noel’s honour and the assassination at La Jonchere? 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. “Well! The part I have been playing irritates and wearies me.

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. why can I not take back all the embraces I bestowed on her in exchange for her Judas kisses? 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. We must believe Madame Gerdy possessed of an amount of audacity and ability rarely to be met with in a woman. 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! He therefore answered,-- “I have known the truth for three weeks past. 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. 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.

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. You were not deceived, then; it was true! We shall have a son.

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!

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. 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! By her timid submission and unalterable sweetness, one would think she sought pardon for our unhappy union. I lay them, however, aside. The nobles of former times were not worried in this way. 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. We shall soon come to the point.” M.

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. 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 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. In three weeks, at the latest, I shall be in Paris. “‘Your maternal heart, my sweet Valerie, may perhaps bleed at the thought of being deprived of the innocent caresses of your child. What excess of tenderness can serve him as powerfully as this separation?

No, my well beloved, no. 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. 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. He saw Madame Gerdy, and the final arrangements of the conspiracy were decided on. Do not, however, mention our plans to her; for she has been given to understand that you know nothing. Everything depends now upon our skill and our prudence, so that we are sure to succeed!’” On one point, at least, M. The researches into the past life of widow Lerouge were no longer difficult. “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. 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.

“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.

Must I say it, her complicity in the matter weighed upon her conscience; it was a remorse too great for her old age. “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. 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. 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. “Sir,” answered the servant from the other side of the door, “madame wishes to speak to you.” The advocate appeared to hesitate. if I had one of those letters for four and twenty hours. As he entered the room nothing in his manner betrayed what had taken place between Madame Gerdy and himself. “Well,” asked old Tabaret, “how is she now?” “Worse,” answered Noel.

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. “It was by that,” answered Noel, “that I began.” “And what did she say?” “What could she say!

He tied them together carefully, and replaced them in the secret drawer of his bureau.

“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. 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!

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. 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. “Were you then shown over the house and grounds?” asked the old fellow. “Standing before the dwelling of my ancestors,” continued Noel, “you cannot comprehend the excess of my emotion. I compared my brother’s brilliant destinies with my sad and labourious career; and my indignation well nigh overmastered reason. The propriety of legal means at once recurred to my distracted mind, however, and restrained me. A Swiss porter, in grand livery, answered, the count was travelling, but that the viscount was at home.

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. I answered simply, that, quite unknown to the viscount, I desired five minutes’ conversation with him on a matter of importance. 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.

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. 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. I answered the question I saw upon his lips. 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. Can we not postpone this conversation?’” “Good!

“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.

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 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.

I followed his slightest movements; and I scanned his features closely. 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. Forget all; let us remain as we are and love one another!’” M. 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. He made no answer, but walked up and down the room. 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. 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 is it?” “I have, locked up in my secretary, twelve or fifteen thousand francs, which trouble me exceedingly. 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. 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. 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 by this door that the advocate went out, though not without using the utmost caution in opening and closing it. I have had much difficulty in prevailing on her not to disobey your orders.” “Very well,” said the advocate. 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.

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. 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. 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 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. “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. How pleasant all this is!” Noel bowed his head like a schoolboy rebuked for having neglected his lessons. You know very well that the only consideration I receive is what my money pays for. 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. .” and as Juliette said nothing, he added: “Well, if you are pleased, you do not show it.” “Oh! “If you have any real complaint against me, better to say so simply and seriously.” “Very well,” said Juliette, “let us be serious.

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. “Well! 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. You know very well what you are about.

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. “At first you were not very exacting, but the appetite came with eating.

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. 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. 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. What he did not procure her, however, was a lover. 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. 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.

He felt himself so powerless against her, that he never essayed to struggle. She tortured him; but she had also the power to make him forget all by a smile, a tear, or a kiss. “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.

How many times must I tell you that I am very unwell this evening.” “You suffer, my love?” resumed the advocate, “where? “Nothing.” “Well, then, why--?” “My life is nothing more than a continual yawn,” answered the young woman; “is it my fault? Never, your dignity would be sullied, if you were seen in my company. 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. 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. “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.

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. 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. 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. “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. “The affair in question,” stammered he, “can as well fail as succeed.” “Enough,” interrupted Juliette; “your will shall be obeyed. 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. 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. “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. 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. 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. “Everything!” answered Herve.

Three weeks ago I discovered this unworthy fraud; she knows it, and the consequences terrify her. “Three weeks,” he murmured; “then, that explains everything. 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! Nothing short of a miracle can save her; but this miracle we may hope and prepare for. If he followed the proper road, it was a purely mechanical impulse that guided him. 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. I was not, however, very far from the reality. 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. Won’t he just overpower me with questions!

But I see very well now, I did not draw him out enough. have you got a clue?” “Better than that,” answered the old fellow, smiling with pleasure. 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. “Are you unwell, sir?” he asked. “No,” answered M.

“I am very well; but the surprise, the emotion,--” “I understand that,” said the old fellow. Do not leave the house though; we must converse at some length on this business. He possessed, however, none of the qualifications which ensure social success. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. “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. “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! She had a profusion of fine light brown hair, which fell in ringlets over her well-shaped neck and shoulders. 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. Then he would answer her at cross-purposes, committing the most singular blunders, which he labored afterwards to explain. 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. 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. “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. Unfortunately, too, Claire and her governess were gone out.

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 blessed her for her granddaughter, as an admirer of nature blesses heaven for the wild flower that delights him with its perfume. At the end of an hour, however, she was, or appeared to be, pacified. Arming himself, however, with his professional eloquence, he talked the old lady into calmness. He attacked the authors of the revolution, cursed its errors, deplored its crimes, and almost wept over its disastrous results. 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. Encourage them by a culpable weakness! 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. What will they do to me, if I do not pay?” “Well, madame, they can do many things; almost ruin you, in costs.

We shall all be swallowed up by it, my poor Daburon! I would use every effort to pay the necessary dower; but she has no affection for me.” M. 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! At length he stammered, “It is I, madame!” His voice, his look, his gesture were beseeching. 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! “You are then very rich?” “I inherited, madame, from my mother, about twenty thousand francs a year.

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. I cannot, however, consent to speak to Claire of this horrible misalliance. One last piece of advice; you believe Claire to be just as she looks,--timid, sweet, obedient. He departed in triumph from the d’Arlange abode, which he had entered with a heart swelling with anxiety. 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 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.

If she had heard a play well spoken of and wished to know the subject, M. “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. 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. 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. Then, for a week, she would remain melancholy and dejected.

that,” answered she, heaving a deep sigh, “is my secret,--a secret of which even my grandmother knows nothing.” M. He thought he saw a tear between her long eyelashes. “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, at this the most critical moment of his life was powerless to utter a word. What were then his feelings, when he saw Claire burst into tears.

“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. “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. Daburon that he was beholding the frightful spectacle of a weeping statue. 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. “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. This answer crushed the magistrate. Madame d’Arlange receives no one.” “I ought now to tell you everything, sir,” answered Claire proudly. 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. 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. “Well, no. 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. Do you feel the power to forget? 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

All through the night he wandered about at random, seeking to cool his heated brow, and to allay his excessive weariness. He went with his head bare, his eyes haggard. 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.

Calm and cool, he acted under the power of an hallucination, almost like a somnambulist. 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. No one noticed the strange state of his mind, so natural were his manners and conversations. 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. But who would believe me, were I to recount my experience?” Some days later, he was sufficiently recovered to tell his father all. The good old man was moved at the story of his son’s luckless wooing, without seeing therein, however, an irreparable misfortune. But try as he would, he only went through his duties like a body without a soul. Claire was ill for a week after seeing him. Can Albert love me as much?” She did not dare to answer herself.

Daburon was not, however, a man to give way without a struggle. 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. These were the events, recalled to M. His first thought, it must be confessed, was one of hate, followed by a detestable feeling of satisfaction. The man’s upright conscience revolted against it, and made its powerful voice heard. 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. We shall have to follow a wrong track, join Gevrol in running after some imaginary murderer. Impelled by different interests, he wavered, undecided between the most opposite decisions, his mind oscillating from one extreme to the other.

am I so weak that, in assuming my office, I am unable to divest myself of my personality? Would she wed a man suspected of a crime? If Claire has preferred him to me, it is to Claire and not to him I owe my suffering. If he is not guilty, he shall make use of all the means in my power to establish his innocence.

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. 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. 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. 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. The weight of responsibility oppresses the man of conscientious scruple. We have seen numbers of persons signing appeals for mercy to a condemned malefactor, condemned for what crime? 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.

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. Tabaret, for having left you so long alone.” The old fellow rose and bowed respectfully. My opinion, however, is, that he will remain perfectly cool. “We have not got as far as that yet,” said he. “But we shall, in a few hours,” replied M. He felt now what a distance lies between a mental decision and the physical action required to execute it. 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. In cases like the present, one must not strike until the blow is sure, and we have but presumptions. Suppose we are mistaken. “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. 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.

“And why, pray?” “Because we are opposed by a criminal of marked ability. If we give him time to breathe, he will escape.” The only answer was an inclination of the head, which M. 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. 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. I cause my man to be arrested, and, twenty minutes later, he is standing before me. 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.

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. At twenty minutes past nine, you planted the well-sharpened end of a foil between her shoulders. 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. “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. 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.

Tabaret,” answered the magistrate. Daburon, “if I would have all my measures well taken. 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. He waits an answer.” “Very well,” replied M. Are you not going to put a stop to his inquiries, sir?” “No; certainly not,” answered M. Who can tell what light we may receive from this mariner?” CHAPTER VIII. 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. 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.

His beard and hair, yet abundant, were scarcely gray.

As fully as the marchioness, he held in contempt all who were not noble; but his disdain expressed itself in a different fashion.

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. “You are unwell, viscount,” said he. “Oh, no, sir,” answered Albert, laconically. “That seems to me to happen whenever you meet,” answered Albert, without intending any raillery. 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.

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. He gave them the magic formula for power.

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. Their wealth would be enormous; for the value of land rises year after year. 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. 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. Each servant was at his post; and the occupations, interrupted during the past six weeks, resumed without confusion. 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.

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. 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.

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! “It is well,” interrupted the count. 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. 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! “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.

However, as you wish me to explain, I will do so.” The count listened with ill-concealed anxiety. Albert was some time without answering, he hesitated how to commence. “You were right, sir,” continued the count, “our honour is involved. It is important that we should decide on our future conduct without delay. 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. How was it that he had allowed this fatal correspondence to remain in existence! And for now more than twenty years, he had never passed a day without cursing his inexcusable folly.

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. This flinching, however, lasted but an instant. “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. “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. His heart, after more than twenty years of voluntary separation, still suffered, so deeply rooted was this first love of his youth. True, she had deceived him; but did he not owe to her the only years of happiness he had ever known? Three or four times his eyelids trembled, as if a tear were about to fall. I swear it. For twenty years, sir, I have lamented my true son; for twenty years I have cursed the wickedness of which he is the victim. “Do you think,” he continued, “that I have never wept over the thought of my legitimate son passing his life struggling for a competence?

The same moral does not do for everyone; because we have not the same duties to perform.

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? 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. He will then call Madame Gerdy.” “Oh, I will answer for her!” cried the count, “her interests are the same as ours. I went there, I remember, with you. He spoke to me of her, as though he were sure of her testimony. But, unless we yield, the scandal will be terrible. 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. We can make the change very quietly. “But instead of contesting, viscount,” he cried, “we might compromise.

We may be able to purchase these letters. 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. Well, whose fault is it? 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. Gerdy?” “We hope so, sir. 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. Your worthy mother alone might tell us, provided, however, she herself knows.” “Sir,” cried Albert menacingly, “think well before you speak! To-morrow I will let you know my decision.” Albert bowed respectfully, but without lowering his eyes and walked slowly to the door.

“Well,” said an old footman who had been in the family thirty years, “the count has had another unhappy scene with his son. 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. 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. I must do him the justice to say, though, that his cigars were splendid. In looking about us, we often see men of success and reputation, who are simply dolts, without any merit except their perfect insignificance. 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. He was charged with sins of the most opposite character, with faults so contradictory that they were their own defence.

People knew him scarcely well enough to love him, while they were jealous of him and feared him. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. This passion, so annoying to the count, was the source of the most vivid, the most powerful emotions in the viscount. “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. 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.

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. 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. “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, and the old fellow guided them in their search, made them ransack drawers and closets, and move the furniture to look underneath or behind. 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. These trousers had not been hung up with the other clothes; but appear to have been hidden between two large trunks full of clothing. 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. Their evidence is rather peculiar.” “Very well; we shall see.

His course resolved upon, he had not lost an instant, understanding as well as old Tabaret the necessity for rapid action. He wondered why his people were so long in making their appearance.

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 bowed to the magistrate, and excused himself for his tardiness. 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. What a contrast between him and the magistrate! His shirt-front was all rumpled, and his cuffs were far from clean. 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. He bowed to M.

“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 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. 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 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. 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. The advocate lowered his head. “Those words, sir, were the last spoken by Madame Gerdy. The doctor--” “It is well,” interrupted M.

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.

Daburon, “we have got at the letters; and I have not betrayed poor old Tabaret. “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. This was evidently a signal; for the tall clerk rose methodically, put his pen behind his ear, and went out in his measured tread. Daburon time to reply, he laid before him the facts which, twelve hours before, he had related to M. what do you think we ought to do?

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. I would, however, have demanded a large pecuniary compensation. That which Madame Gerdy owed to the generosity of my father was almost entirely spent.

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. To-morrow,--for today my time is all taken up,--we will write down your deposition together if you like. 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. I’d give a hundred francs if he were only here now. Why if all the world were of my mind, the punishment of rascals wouldn’t take such a time. Daburon resigned himself to this shower of words. 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. “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. All my arrangements were made. 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. 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.

de Commarin’s testimony to recover for him all that he so well deserves. 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. In one night, he had grown twenty years older. Tabaret, and see if there’s any news at the Prefecture.” The clerk left the room, followed by the detective, who went away regretfully. “I feel so weak,” said he, “you must excuse my sitting.” Apologies to an 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. 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. She yielded; and my valet and Claudine Lerouge were charged with this wicked substitution. 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. 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. However, I inquired into the matter; I had her watched; I even acted the spy upon her myself.

He usually left about midnight; but sometimes he came to pass the night, and in that case went away in the early morning. 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. 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. My very heartstrings were bound up in that woman.

Nevertheless, there has always been an icy barrier between us, which he was unable to explain. 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? 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.

His story showed that he thought his honour in peril just as much as his son. And yet he could not clearly see how the Count de Commarin’s interests were concerned in the matter. “Sir,” he asked, more sternly, “when were you informed of the discovery of your secret?” “Last evening, by Albert himself. An animated discussion arose between us. All my efforts to convert him to my views were useless. He renewed, then, the painful examination. Gerdy impossible.” “Precisely; sir; and, aside from the question of duty, it was upon that that he based his refusal to follow my wishes.” “It will be necessary, count, for you to repeat to me very exactly all that passed between the viscount and yourself. It is a miracle that we are able to unmask him.

How well everything was foreseen and arranged? He could thus make a merit of his compliance, and would ask a reward for his weakness. I can say nothing positive; but justice has weighty reasons to believe that, in the scene which you have just related to me, Viscount Albert played a part previously arranged.” “And well arranged,” murmured the count; “for he deceived me!” He was interrupted by the entrance of Noel, who carried under his arm a black shagreen portfolio, ornamented with his monogram. The advocate bowed to the old gentleman, who in his turn rose and retired politely to the end of the room.

“You must however give me a moment, my dear sir,” replied the magistrate. He read very quickly, all at a stretch, without paying the least attention to either full stops or commas, questions or replies; but went on reading as long as his breath lasted. When they were gone, M. They were going slowly. The count seemed to drag heavily and painfully along; the advocate took short steps, bending slightly towards his father; and all his movements were marked with the greatest solicitude. The servants who had been waiting their turn a long while were now brought in without delay, and examined separately. Albert’s conduct since the beginning of the fatal week, his least words, his most insignificant movements, were reported, commented upon, and explained. From that moment, the whole household perceived that something had gone wrong with him, that he was very much annoyed, or very unwell.

He took, however a cup of tea.

He wandered about the house, as though he were in great trouble, or impatiently awaiting something which did not arrive.

About one o’clock, he went down to stables, and caressed, with an air of sadness, his favorite mare, Norma. He was then near the flower-garden. These gentlemen were anxious for him to join them in some pleasure party, but he declined, saying that he had a very important appointment. At half-past seven, according to Joseph and two footmen, or at eight according to the Swiss porter and Lubin, the viscount went out on foot, taking an umbrella with him. On entering the viscount’s room on the Wednesday, the valet was struck with the condition in which he found his master’s clothes. They were wet, and stained with mud; the trousers were torn. On the Thursday, he again seemed very unwell. That evening, after his interview with his father, he went to his room looking extremely ill. Lubin wanted to run for the doctor: he forbade him to do so, or to mention to any one that he was not well.

Such was the substance of twenty large pages, which the tall clerk had covered with writing, without once turning his head to look at the witnesses who passed by in their fine livery. Though well aware of the importance of their testimony, all these servants were very voluble. there were found only three among them who did not appear perfectly delighted at the misfortune which had befallen the family. Two were greatly distressed.

It was not strength, however, that the magistrate needed; it was courage. “In the name of the law I arrest you,” his mind, completely upset, was a long time in recovering its equilibrium, Everything that followed appeared to him to float indistinctly in a thick mist, like those dream-scenes represented on the stage behind a quadruple curtain of gauze. His body, which followed every jolt, scarcely allayed by the worn-out springs, rolled from one side to the other and his head oscillated on his shoulders, as if the muscles of his neck were broken. He recalled her as she was when he went with his father to La Jonchere. He went back to the time of the early days of their love, when he doubted whether he would ever have the happiness of being loved by her in return; when they used to meet at Mademoiselle Goello’s. On all the dining-room furniture, and on the mantel-piece, were placed a dozen or fifteen stuffed dogs, of various breeds, which together or successively had helped to cheer the maiden’s lonely hours. Some were grotesque, others horrible.

His body, as well as his mind, was weighed down with weariness. This bed was as welcome to him as a plank would be to a drowning man. “We must wait and see. You could relate to me, afterwards, what your feelings were while the ball was rolling.

Balan, one would think that you yourself had had just such an experience.” “Alas!” sighed the old detective, “it is to my love for the queen of spades, my unhappy love, that you owe the honour of looking through this peephole in my company. He felt this deeply; they were treating him like the most abandoned of villains. Then pouring a little water on his handkerchief, he passed it over his face, bathing his eyes which were greatly inflamed. He had no idea that four lynx eyes were fixed upon him all the while. And, with a firm step, he followed the gendarmes along the passage which led to the Palais de Justice. Again, and for the twentieth time since morning, he regretted having engaged in the business.

What power held my finger, when an almost insensible pressure would have sufficed to kill him? He was very pale; but his eyes were clear and sparkling. I know further that my father would be unable to recognise me, even if he wished to, since I was born during his married life.” “What were your feelings upon learning this?” “I should speak falsely, sir, if I said I did not feel very bitterly. However, I never for a moment entertained the thought of contesting M. “Before God,” he answered, “and by all that is most sacred on earth, I swear to you, sir, that I am innocent! Then suddenly he resumed, “When you were arrested, you cried out, ‘I am lost,’ what did you mean by that?” “Sir,” replied Albert, “I remember having uttered those words.

My mind was, as it were, enlightened by a glimpse of the future. I understood the weight of the accusation, its probability, and the difficulties I should have in defending myself. We know, also, that all the widow’s papers were burnt. If you know of any one, speak.” “What can I answer, sir? Can you describe them?” “Perfectly, sir: there were two.

Claudine slept in the back room.” “You were in no way a stranger to Widow Lerouge. If you had knocked one evening at her window-shutter, do you think she would have let you in?” “Certainly, sir, and eagerly.” “You have been unwell these last few days?” “Very unwell, to say the least, sir. My body bent under the weight of a burden too great for my strength. It was not, however, for want of courage.” “Why did you forbid your valet, Lubin, to call in the doctor?” “Ah, sir, how could the doctor cure my disease? All his science could not make me the legitimate son of the Count de Commarin.” “Some very singular remarks made by you were overheard. “I have him,” thought the magistrate, starting with joy, and then added aloud, “yes, from six o’clock until midnight.” “I am afraid, sir,” answered Albert, “it will be difficult for me to satisfy you.

“If I had asked what you were doing three months ago, on a certain evening, and at a certain hour, I could understand your hesitation; but this is about Tuesday, and it is now Friday. That circumstance ought to help your memory.” “That evening, I went out walking,” murmured Albert. During the day, you said, ‘She can not resist me.’ Of whom were you speaking?” “Of some one to whom I had written the evening before, and who had replied to me. You are here to tell everything, sir.” “My own affairs, yes, not those of others.” Albert gave this last answer in a dry tone.

He was further extremely surprised to find the discernment of the old detective at fault; just as though Tabaret were infallible.

After dinner what did you do?” “I went out for a walk.” “Not immediately. I went out simply to walk about, for the sake of exercise, to drive away the torpor which had depressed me for three days. Daburon, however, knew that it was at least possible. He was again an investigating magistrate, like the fencing master, who, once practising with his dearest friend, became excited by the clash of the weapons, and, forgetting himself, killed him.

You entered no place, not even a cafe or a theatre, or a tobacconist’s to light one of your favourite trabucos?” “No, sir.” “Well, it is a great misfortune for you, yes, a very great misfortune; for I must inform you, that it was precisely during this Tuesday evening, between eight o’clock and midnight, that Widow Lerouge was assassinated. However he replied in a calm voice,--“I am very unfortunate, sir: but I can recollect nothing.” M. “We will pass,” he continued, “to the examination of the charges which weigh against you. Do you recognize these articles as belonging to yourself?” “Yes, sir, they are all mine.” “Well, take this foil. This piece of stuff, on which the assassin wiped his weapon, is a proof of what I state.” “I beseech you, sir, to order a most minute search to be made. I perceive, too, the mark of a peg, which appears in both.” Albert followed with marked anxiety every movement of the magistrate. Was he attacked by that fright which overpowers the guilty when they see themselves on the point of being confounded.

To all the magistrate’s remarks, he answered in a low voice,--“It is true--perfectly true.” “That is so,” continued M. Are they alike, or not?” “These things, sir,” attempted Albert, “are manufactured in large quantities.” “Well, we will pass over that proof. His hands trembled so much that they were of no use to him. It is plain that not long ago they were very wet; and, besides the mud on them, there are traces of earth.

We will admit, for the moment that you might not remember where you went on that evening; but who would believe that you do not know when you tore your trousers and how you frayed your gloves?” What courage could resist such assaults?

Albert’s firmness and energy were at an end. I am innocent.” “Then tell me where you passed Tuesday evening.” “Ah, sir!” cried the prisoner, “I should have to--” But, restraining himself, he added in a faint voice, “I have made the only answer that I can make.” M. I am going to remind you of where you went and what you did. In your place, I should have spoken as you have done; yet all the same, I swear to you that I am innocent.” “Come now, do you really--” began the magistrate. “Nothing but what I say, sir.” “So you persist in denying your guilt?” “I am innocent.” “But this is folly--” “I am innocent.” “Very well,” said M. Left to himself, however, M. He had just been informed of the termination of the inquiry; and he arrived, impatient to know what had passed, swelling with curiosity, and full of the sweet hope of hearing of the fulfilment of his predictions. “What answers did he make?” he asked even before he had closed the door. We must then be mistaken: he cannot be the criminal.

“Unfortunately,” said he, “we are not mistaken.

However, if you like, you can ask Constant for his report of the examination, and read it over while I put these papers in order.” “Very well,” said the old fellow with feverish anxiety.

How, after all that you have read there, can--” “Yes, sir, yes: it is because I have read this that I entreat you to pause, or we shall add one more mistake to the sad list of judicial errors. “It becomes you well to talk in this manner, after the way you spoke last night, when I hesitated so much.” “But, sir,” cried the old detective, “I still say precisely the same. It is, however, very simple. You err through an excess of subtlety, you accord too freely to others the wonderful sagacity with which you yourself are endowed. My culprit,--the true one,--he whom we have missed catching, feared everything. Why, I had them in quantities against Kaiser, the poor little tailor, who--” “Well,” interrupted the magistrate, hastily, “if it is not he, the most interested one, who committed the crime, who then is it? To-morrow we will talk the whole matter over again. He is innocent, I swear to you. Resting one hand against the half-opened carriage door, he bowed respectfully, and said: “When, sir, shall I have the honour of paying my respects to you?” “Come with me now,” said the old nobleman.

On the way from the Palais de Justice to the De Commarin mansion, not a word passed between the father and son. There were, it is true, few of them present, nearly all having been summoned to the Palais; but the count and the advocate had scarcely disappeared, when, as if by enchantment, they were all assembled in the hall. A thousand stories were circulated, talked over, corrected, and added to by the ill-natured and malicious,--some abominably absurd, others simply idiotic. Twenty people, very noble and still more proud, had not been above sending their most intelligent servants to pay a little visit among the count’s retainers, for the sole purpose of learning something positive. “How ever did it happen?” “Well, you see, one day, long ago, when the countess who is now dead was out walking with her little son, who was about six months old, the child was stolen by gypsies. “However,” he added, “I always had my doubts.

You see now to what we are exposed every day in our profession, and it is dreadfully disagreeable. Lubin,’ said he, ‘it is very sad for a man like you to have waited on such a scoundrel.’ For you must know, that, besides an old woman over eighty years old, he also assassinated a young girl of twelve. Suppose some one went up and tried to find out what is going on.” This proposition did not meet with the least favour.

One alone, Denis, the count’s valet, had the opportunity of gathering information; but he was well paid to be discreet, and he was so. de Commarin was sitting in the same arm-chair on which the evening before he had bestowed such furious blows while listening to Albert. He became even more arrogant in his manner, than he had been humble when before the magistrate, as though he were ashamed of what he now considered an unpardonable weakness. They examined one another, they almost measured each other, much as two adversaries feel their way with their eyes before encountering with their weapons. From this moment you are the Viscount de Commarin; you regain possession of all the rights of which you were deprived. Remember this well, sir; had I been master of the situation, I would never have recognised you: Albert should have remained in the position in which I placed him.” “I understand you, sir,” replied Noel. It was a thousand times better to suffer an injustice to continue in secret, than to expose the name to the comments of the malicious.” This answer surprised the count, and very agreeably too. I provided the necessary funds for the expenses of Albert’s household completely, distinct from my own, for he had his own servants, horses, and carriages; and besides that I allowed the unhappy boy four thousand francs a month. Weigh your words well.

Do you fence?” “Moderately well.” “That will do! It is well to despise public opinion, but not to defy it. Albert also was a great liberal.” “My ideas, sir,” said Noel quickly, “were those of every intelligent man who wishes to succeed. Besides, have not all parties one and the same aim--power? Innocent, or guilty, he has a right to count upon us; and we owe him our assistance.” “What do you then hope for, sir?” asked the count. Yes, however strong the charges against him may be, I will overthrow them. I will save him, and this shall be my last cause.” “And if he should confess,” said the count, “if he has already confessed?” “Then, sir,” replied Noel with a dark look, “I will render him the last service, which in such a misfortune I should ask of a brother, I will procure him the means of avoiding judgment.” “That is well spoken, sir,” said the count, “very well, my son!” And he held out his hand to Noel, who pressed it, bowing a respectful acknowledgment. We will, first of all, see where you can be lodged, until you formally take possession of the apartments which are to be prepared for you.” Noel had the hardihood to again interrupt the old nobleman. “She has done me great harm,” he murmured, as if answering his thoughts. He bowed to take his leave.

Since morning, events had followed one another with such bewildering rapidity that his thoughts could scarcely keep pace with them. He knows how to be humble without lowering himself, and firm without arrogance. I augur well of a man who knows how to bear himself in prosperity. He thinks well; he will carry his title proudly. we live in a happy age. “No one, sir.” He seemed relieved from a great anxiety, and continued in a calmer tone, “And the doctor?” “He came this morning, sir,” replied the girl, “while you were out; and he did not seem at all hopeful. He came again just now, and is still here.” “Very well. The table and mantel-piece were covered with little pots, medicine bottles, and half-emptied glasses.

At the foot of the bed, a piece of rag stained with blood showed that the doctor had just had recourse to leeches. “I was detained at the Palais,” said the advocate, as if he felt the necessity of explaining his absence; “and I have been, as you may well imagine, dreadfully anxious.” He leant towards the doctor’s ear, and in a trembling voice asked: “Well, is she at all better?” The doctor shook his head with an air of deep discouragement. “I wish it were so,” said the doctor; “It would be most encouraging. However, we will see.” He went up to Madame Gerdy, and, whilst feeling her pulse, examined her carefully; then, with the tip of his finger, he lightly raised her eyelid. We are going to apply a mustard poultice.” The servant hastened in.

In the arms of the two women, Madame Gerdy was like a corpse, whom they were dressing for the last time. She was as rigid as though she were dead. “It is done,” said the doctor; “we have only now to wait the effect of the mustard.

If she feels it, it will be a good sign; if it has no effect, we will try cupping.” “And if that does not succeed?” The doctor answered only with a shrug of the shoulders, which showed his inability to do more. She is now in a state of utter insensibility, of complete prostration of all her intellectual faculties, of coma, of paralysis so to say; to-morrow, she may be seized with convulsions, accompanied with a fierce delirium.” “And will she speak then?” “Certainly; but that will neither modify the nature nor the gravity of the disease.” “And will she recover her reason?” “Perhaps,” answered the doctor, looking fixedly at his friend; “but why do you ask that?” “Ah, my dear Herve, one word from Madame Gerdy, only one, would be of such use to me!” “For your affair, eh! Well, I can tell you nothing, can promise you nothing. But I must go,” added the doctor; “I have still three calls to make.” Noel followed his friend. I know her well.” “It was you, then, who brought this nun?” “Yes, and without your permission. We always do that,” she added; “it is more convenient for the family. You have perhaps not thought of giving this poor lady the sweet aid of our holy religion! She did not answer you; but are you sure that she will not answer the priest? Ah, you do not know all the power of the last sacraments! Noel was not listening to her; his thoughts were far away.

Clergeot, I had almost given you up!” The visitor, whom the advocate had been expecting, is a person well known in the Rue St. However, he often risks his all on the most unlucky cards. His discernment, it should be said, however, enjoys a great reputation.

Noel, who well knew how sensitive this worthy man was to kind attentions, and how pleased by politeness, began by offering him a seat, and asking after his health. Clergeot went into details. His teeth were still good; but his sight was beginning to fail. His legs were no longer so steady, and his hearing was not all that could be desired. I have one of ten, one of seven, and a third of five thousand francs, total, twenty-two thousand francs.” “Come, M. Why, it’s just eight days ago to-day that I wrote to tell you that I was not prepared to meet the bills, and asked for a renewal!” “I recollect very well receiving your letter.” “What do you say to it, then?” “By my not answering the note, I supposed that you would understand that I could not comply with your request; I hoped that you would exert yourself to find the amount for me.” Noel allowed a gesture of impatience to escape him. Do you know that I have renewed these bills four times already?” “I know that the interest has been fully and promptly paid, and at a rate which cannot make you regret the investment.” Clergeot never likes talking about the interest he received.

“Must I repeat it?” he said; “I am completely drained, com--plete--ly!” “Indeed?” said the usurer; “well, I am sorry for you; but I shall have to sue you.” “And what good will that do? Well, what then? If you supposed me capable of half the cruel things you have said, my money would be there in your drawer, ready for me.” “A mistake! “We know what we know,” continued Clergeot quietly. Mamma’s remaining bonds were sold last October. Four good strong wishes, well managed, ought to last a year. When she has ruined you, she’ll leave you in the lurch.” Noel accepted the eloquence of his prudent banker like a man without an umbrella accepts a shower. Just now, if you try very hard, you will be able to hand me the twenty-two thousand francs in question.

I know the game well. Clergeot, I can procure twenty-two thousand francs; I could have a hundred thousand to-morrow morning, if I saw fit. In eight days, I shall be summoned to appear before the Tribunal de Commerce, and I shall ask for the twenty-five days’ delay, which the judges always grant to an embarrassed debtor.

Twenty-five and eight, all the world over, make just thirty-three days. You have two alternatives: either accept from me at once a new bill for twenty-four thousand francs payable in six weeks, or else, as I have an appointment, go off to your lawyer.” “And in six weeks,” replied the usurer, “you will be in precisely the same condition you are to-day. But I have finished,” he added rising; “and my time is valuable.” “One moment, you impatient fellow!” exclaimed the good-natured banker, “you said twenty-four thousand francs at forty-five days?” “Yes. So it is settled: prepare a new bill for twenty-four thousand francs, and I will call for it when I bring you the old ones on Monday.” “You haven’t them with you, then?” “No. And to be frank, I confess that, knowing well I should get nothing from you, I left them with others at my lawyer’s. However, you may rest easy: you have my word.” M. “I had almost forgotten,” said he; “while you are about it, you can make the bill for twenty-six thousand francs.

He certainly did not refuse to pay, only he thought he ought to be consulted when any purchases were made. And you know, if you need any money for the wedding, you have but to give me some guarantee. Have him sought for, if he is not at home; he must come.” Considerably more at ease, Noel went and sat in the sick-room. “Have we any gleam of hope, sister?” he asked. Old Tabaret, as well as the magistrate, was greatly fatigued. He went at once up to the fourth floor to inquire after the health of his former friend, her whom he used to call the excellent, the worthy Madame Gerdy.

He knew very well, that, being with the advocate, he would be unavoidably led to speak of the Lerouge case; and how could he do this, knowing, as he did, the particulars much better than his young friend himself, without betraying his secret? But, on the other hand, he thirsted to know what had passed between the advocate and the count. However, as he could not withdraw he resolved to keep close watch upon his language and remain constantly on his guard. Before this she had overheard mysterious remarks pass between Noel and the doctor. We are sharper than that in France, as you know. When a poor devil is arrested, entirely innocent, perhaps, of the crime charged against him, we are always ready to throw stones at him.

We keep all our pity for him, who, without doubt guilty, appears before the court of assize. As long as the justice hesitates, we side with the prosecution against the prisoner. You understand, however, that it affects me but little. He longed to say to him: “We will save him together.” But he restrained himself.

He resolved, however, to reveal all should it become necessary, or should Albert’s position become worse. I feared to see you spoiled by wealth and rank; pardon me. I will tell you all, in detail, by-and-by, when we are more at ease. He had been absent from home twenty-four hours; and he fully expected a formidable scene with his housekeeper. Such goings on would be the death of her, without counting that her constitution was too weak to allow her to sit up so late. Were his calculations of probabilities erroneous? He had discovered the particulars; his inferences were correct, and the criminal was evidently such as he had described him. Three persons were interested in Widow Lerouge’s death:--Albert, Madame Gerdy, and the Count de Commarin. He must have hired some wretch, a wretch of good position, if you please, wearing patent leather boots of a good make, and smoking trabucos cigars with an amber mouth-piece. These well-dressed villains ordinarily lack nerve.

And, above all, I must obtain the past history of this obliging widow, and I will have it too, for in all probability the particulars which have been written for from her birthplace will arrive tomorrow.” Returning to Albert, old Tabaret weighed the charges which were brought against the young man, and reckoned the chances which he still had in favour of his release. However, it is no use going over them.

What do signs prove, however striking they may be, in cases where one ought to disbelieve even the evidence of one’s own senses? At five o’clock, he bought a knife, which he showed to ten of his friends, saying, ‘This is for my wife, who is an idle jade, and plays me false with my workmen.’ In the evening, the neighbours heard a terrible quarrel between the couple, cries, threats, stampings, blows; then suddenly all was quiet. The next day, the tailor had disappeared from his home, and the wife was discovered dead, with the very same knife buried to the hilt between her shoulders. Ah, well! If, after having caused the evil, I should find myself powerless to undo it!” Old Tabaret went to bed, shuddering at this last thought. A power unknown and irresistible compelled him to look. Excuses were superfluous. Who would have thought his nerves were so sensitive? He put the case more calmly this time, but with all the energy of a well-digested conviction.

His strongest arguments were of no more avail against M. They were only at the beginning of the investigation; and they were still ignorant of very many things, even of Widow Lerouge’s past life. He wished, he said, to keep well posted up in the different phases of the investigation, and to be informed of the result of future interrogations. But I must find out the real truth of the case between now and then.” Yes, M.

One deposition alone to that effect would have such great weight, that M. They were to scour the entire country between Rueil and La Jonchere, to inquire everywhere, and make the most minute investigations. They had orders to show them everywhere and to everybody and even to leave a dozen about the neighbourhood, as they were furnished with a sufficient number to do so. It was impossible, that, on an evening when so many people were about, no one had noticed the original of the portrait either at the railway station at Rueil or upon one of the roads which lead to La Jonchere, the high road, and the path by the river. Albert was no longer the despairing man who, the night before, bewildered with the multiplicity of charges, surprised by the rapidity with which they were brought against him, had writhed beneath the magistrate’s gaze, and appeared ready to succumb. No one knew so well as he how to touch those old chords which vibrate still even in the most corrupt hearts: honour, love, and family ties. Who could have foreseen all this at the time when he was the one hope of a wealthy and illustrious house!

His answers were of the shortest. “I will compel him to confess!” he muttered between his teeth. He remembered, too well, his having had the Viscount de Commarin for a rival, and his having nearly assassinated him.

In fact, were the prisoner innocent, he would become inexcusable in his own eyes; and, in proportion as he reproached himself the more severely, and as the knowledge of his own failings grew, he felt the more disposed to try everything to conquer his former rival, even to abusing his own power. They all thought it their duty, however, to inform the magistrate that another inquiry was going on at the same time as theirs. He must have acted with great promptness; for, no matter where they went, he had been there before them. “You are a simple fellow,” he cried out, “to hunt for a hiding man on the high-way; look a little aside, and you may find him.” Again he had accosted two who were together in a cafe at Bougival, and had taken them aside.

The journey, however, was useless. Tabaret, the cabriolet, the swift horse, and the twelve men had all disappeared, or at least were not to be found. This evening we start for Paris. His preparations were nearly made, when his servant announced that a young lady, accompanied by another considerably older, asked to speak with him. She declined giving her name, saying, however, that she would not refuse it, if it was absolutely necessary in order to be received. She was evidently obeying some powerful emotion, since it made her forget her habitual timidity. Her beauty, ordinarily veiled by a sweet sadness, was bright and shining. “We are always friends, are we not?” asked she, with a sad smile. At first I was terrified; but, when they told me that all depended upon you, my fears were dispelled. How can I ever express my gratitude?” What humiliation for the worthy magistrate were these heartfelt thanks!

Yes, he had at first thought of Mademoiselle d’Arlange, but since--He bowed his head to avoid Claire’s glance, so pure and so daring. I do not know exactly of what he is accused, but I swear to you that he is innocent.” Claire spoke in the positive manner of one who saw no obstacle in the way of the very simple and natural desire which she had expressed. Had he answered seriously? If he were here, sir, and should himself say, ‘It is true,’ I would refuse to believe it; I would still cry out, ‘It is false!’” “He has not yet admitted it,” continued the magistrate, “but he will confess. well,” interrupted Mademoiselle d’Arlange, in a voice filled with emotion, “I assert, I repeat, that justice is deceived. Yes,” she persisted, in answer to the magistrate’s gesture of denial, “yes, he is innocent. I am sure of it; and I would proclaim it, even were the whole world to join with you in accusing him. It is four years, sir, since we first loved each other. For four years, there has never been a secret between us; he lived in me, as I lived in him.

Sustained one by the other, we have passed through many unhappy days; and it is at the very moment our trials are ending that he has become a criminal? what to me are that great name, that immense wealth? I owe to them the only unhappiness I have ever known. It is only at the time a thing escapes us that we feel the greatness of the loss. “Possibly,” replied the magistrate; “and yet the circumstances of the crime denote a well-laid plan. Weep, yes, weep for your deceived love; but forget it. But though the body was weak, the soul still remained firm. Even if he were acquitted, and I wish he may be, but without hope, he will not be less unworthy.

Look about you; however humiliated, however wretched, however low, a man may be, you will always find a woman near to sustain and console him. Between two, the burden will be less heavy to bear. It is no more in my power to cease loving him than it is to arrest, by the sole effort of my will, the beating of my heart. All the stings of jealousy were rending him. What would not be his delight, if he were the object of so irresistible a passion as that which burst forth before him! Why do so many men pass through life dispossessed of love, while others, the vilest beings sometimes, seem to possess a mysterious power, which charms and seduces, and inspires those blind and impetuous feelings which to assert themselves rush to the sacrifice all the while longing for it? “I may seem weak; but I am not so. That which I do regret is my having lowered my self so far as to defend him; but he will forgive me that one doubt. If you were truly my friend, I would ask you to aid me in the task of saving him, to which I am about to devote myself. Very well; I will give you in detail all the evidence we have collected.

He went out, however, and only returned home about two o’clock in the morning, his clothes soiled and torn, and his gloves frayed.” “Oh! “Well?” he asked impatiently. de Commarin went secretly to your house, when his approaching marriage gave him the right to present himself openly at all hours. I still wonder, how, on such a visit, he could get his clothes in the condition in which we found them.” “That is to say, sir,” replied Claire bitterly, “that you doubt my word!” “The circumstances are such, mademoiselle,--” “You accuse me, then, of falsehood, sir. Know that, were we criminals, we should not descend to justifying ourselves; we should never pray nor ask for pardon.” Mademoiselle d’Arlange’s haughty, contemptuous tone could only anger the magistrate. “Above all, mademoiselle,” he answered severely, “I am a magistrate; and I have a duty to perform. Now it is the magistrate to whom you speak: and it is the magistrate who answers, ‘Prove it.’” “My word, sir,--” “Prove it!” Mademoiselle d’Arlange rose slowly, casting upon the magistrate a look full of astonishment and suspicion. Can you answer for your impartiality?

Do not certain memories weigh heavily in the scale? Are you sure that you are not, armed with the law, revenging yourself upon a rival?” “This is too much,” murmured the magistrate, “this is too much!” “Do you know the unusual, the dangerous position we are in at this moment? Now that other is accused of murder, and you are his judge; and I find myself between you two, praying to you for him. But what weight will others attach to your testimony, when you go to them with a true story--most true, I believe, but yet highly improbable?” Tears came into Claire’s eyes. Though the wedding day had been fixed, the marchioness declared that we should not be compromised nor laughed at again for any apparent haste to contract a marriage so advantageous, that we had often before been accused of ambition. We could not get her to alter this determination. Albert?” “On Tuesday.” “Can you fix the hour?” “I must have sent the letter between two and three o’clock.” “Thanks, mademoiselle. Continue, I pray.” “All my anticipations,” continued Claire, “were realised. I retired during the evening, and I went into the garden a little before the appointed time.

We were speaking, you must understand, through the door. We first of all sat down upon the little seat you know of, in front of the grove; then, as the rain was falling, we took shelter in the summer house. He went back in the same manner, only with less danger, because I made him use the gardener’s ladder, which I laid down alongside the wall when he had reached the other side.” This account, given in the simplest and most natural manner, puzzled M. Albert climbed over the wall?” “No, sir, the first drops fell when we were on the seat. I recollect it very well, because he opened his umbrella, and I thought of Paul and Virginia.” “Excuse me a minute, mademoiselle,” said the magistrate. “Sir,” said she suddenly, “it often happens, that when we wish to be, and believe ourselves alone, we are nevertheless observed. He could understand the violence she had been doing to her feelings during the past hour, he who knew her character so well. If it is found in his possession, it will well prove that he was in the garden.” “I will give orders respecting it, mademoiselle.” “There is still another thing,” continued Claire; “while I am here, send some one to examine the wall.” She seemed to think of everything. Now I can well see that you are with me. There was none, however.

“Is it necessary,” she asked, “that I should await the return of the police agents who are examining the wall?” “It is needless, mademoiselle.” “Then,” she continued in a sweet voice, “I can only beseech you,” she clasped her hands, “conjure you,” her eyes implored, “to let Albert out of prison.” “He shall be liberated as soon as possible; I give you my word.” “Oh, to-day, dear M. if it depended upon me alone, I could not, even were he guilty, see you weep, and resist.” Mademoiselle d’Arlange, hitherto so firm, could no longer restrain her sobs. Yes,” she said after a moment’s reflection, “there is one man who owes himself to Albert; since he it was who put him in this position,--the Count de Commarin. Ah, well! How could he expose a plan, so well laid that the prisoner had been able without danger to await certain results, with his arms folded, and without himself moving in the matter? And yet, if Claire’s story were true, and Albert innocent!

However, he thought of how much she must have suffered; and he pitied her. He felt that it would be cruel, as well as unworthy of him, to keep away from her who was to have been his daughter-in-law, the Viscountess de Commarin. He interrupted Claire, and went straight to the point, in order to get the disagreeable business more quickly over. You were abandoning him, without trying to defend him.

He shared her convictions, without asking himself whether it were wise or prudent to do so. Yes, he had been overcome by the magistrate’s certitude, he had told himself that what was most unlikely was true; and he had bowed his head. There ought, however, to be some means for obtaining justice.

“At what door shall we knock with any hope of success? We shall certainly have justice; but to obtain it promptly is an art taught in schools that I have not frequented.” “Let us try, at least, sir,” persisted Claire. I will speak; and you shall see if we do not succeed.” The count took Claire’s little hands between his own, and held them a moment pressing them with paternal tenderness. But we must not rush about everywhere, like wild geese. We need some one to tell us whom we should address,--some guide, lawyer, advocate.

I am ready, sir.” “Very well, then,” said the count. “You have taken twenty years from my age,” he said; “it is but right that I should devote to you the youth you have restored to me.” As soon as Claire had entered the carriage, he said to the footman: “Rue St. Aided by the concierge’s directions, the count and the young girl went towards Madame Gerdy’s apartments. “We will wait for him, then,” said the count.

Three persons were in the room into which the servant introduced the count and Mademoiselle d’Arlange. They were the parish priest, the doctor, and a tall man, an officer of the Legion of Honour, whose figure and bearing indicated the old soldier. They were conversing near the fireplace, and the arrival of strangers appeared to astonish them exceedingly. His lips moved, as if he were about to speak; but he restrained himself, and retired, bowing his head, to the window. While Mademoiselle d’Arlange sat down rather surprised, the count, much embarrassed at his position, went up to the priest, and asked in a low voice, “What is, I pray, M. Since last evening, however, there has been a great change. About an hour ago, we thought she was recovering her senses, and we sent for M. I have been to see her nearly every week; I never knew a more worthy person.” “She must suffer dreadfully,” said the doctor. Dark presentiments oppressed her; she felt as though she were enveloped in an atmosphere of evil. “Yes, sir,” harshly answered the old soldier, who had also drawn near.

His thoughts were in the past; it seemed to him but yesterday that he had quitted her for the last time. His eyes encountered the officer’s; he lowered them like a criminal before his judge. “Guy,” said she in a voice heartrending by its sweetness, “you have come at last! You were angry when you left me. They envied my happiness; and we were so happy! You told me you were a poor student; I thought you were depriving yourself for me. It was lovely, with the new paper all covered with flowers, which we hung ourselves. From the window, we could see the great trees of the Tuileries gardens; and by leaning out a little we could see the sun set through the arches of the bridges. The first time that we went into the country together, one Sunday, you brought me a more beautiful dress than I had ever dreamed of, and such darling little boots, that it was a shame to walk out in them! You were not a poor student.

That evening you told me the truth, that you were a nobleman and immensely rich. Great tears rolled down the Count de Commarin’s wrinkled face, and the doctor and the priest were touched by the sad spectacle of an old man weeping like a child. Only the previous evening, the count had thought his heart dead; and now this penetrating voice was sufficient to regain the fresh and powerful feelings of his youth. “After that,” continued Madame Gerdy, “we left the Quai Saint-Michel. When I knew that you were so rich, I lost my simplicity, my thoughtlessness, my gaiety. Oh my dearest, why did we leave our dear little room? There, we were happy.

If we had been wise, we would have hid ours like a crime. You thought to raise me, but you only sunk me lower. You were proud of our love; you published it abroad. You were satisfied, because my beauty became celebrated; I wept, because my shame became so too. You were married; and I remained your mistress. I was alone in my own home, in that room so associated with you; and you were marrying another! I will write to Louis; he will come, he will tell you that I do not lie, and you cannot doubt his, a soldier’s word.” “Yes, on my honour,” said the old soldier, “what my sister says is the truth.” The dying woman did not hear him; she continued in a voice panting from weariness: “How your presence revives me. Ah, well, God will punish us. Oh, those letters, those letters, sweet memories of our love! Yet he knows well that I am his mother.

I have neither the power to resist, nor the courage to obey you.” At this moment the door opening on to the landing opened, and Noel appeared, pale as usual, but calm and composed. Involuntarily we are drawn together, when some mutual friend breathes his last in our presence.

All the bystanders were deeply moved by this painful scene, this last confession, wrested so to say from the delirium. We do not feel all its intensity at once; it is only afterwards that we realize the extent and profundity of the evil. He would have spared himself twenty years of doubt as to Albert’s birth.

And we were not able to undeceive her.” “At least,” cried the count, “her son should be free to render her his last duties; yes, he must be. “What we ask is, that prompt justice shall be done him; that he shall be immediately set at liberty. “Yes; Albert passed at my house, with me, the evening the crime was committed.” Noel looked at her surprised; so singular a confession from such a mouth, without explanation, might well surprise him. Honour demands, sir, that we act to-day, at this moment. You can show your love for this poor woman much better by delivering her son than by praying for her.” Noel bowed low. Perhaps I shall be able to bring Albert with me.” He spoke, and, again embracing the dead woman, went out. The old soldier went to the Mayor, to give notice of the death, and to fulfil the necessary formalities.

Her prayers said, she arose and went about the room, arranging everything as it should be in the presence of death. Tabaret!” But the old fellow, who showed signs of the most intense agitation, was scarcely disposed to stop, or to lose a single minute. “You must excuse me, sir,” he said, bowing, “but I am expected at home.” “I hope, however--” “Oh, he is innocent,” interrupted old Tabaret. In the office, Constant was talking with a skinny little man, who might have been taken, from his dress, for a well-to-do inhabitant of Batignolles, had it not been for the enormous pin in imitation gold which shone in his cravat, and betrayed the detective.

Martin, who this moment arrived from the neighbourhood of the Invalides.” “That is well,” said the magistrate in a satisfied tone. And, turning towards the detective, “Well, M. Martin, who was a great talker--“the thief entered the garden before the rain, and went away after it, as you had conjectured. It is to see where he placed it, by holes made in the ground by the fellow’s weight; and also by the mortar which has been knocked away from the top of the wall.” “Is that all?” asked the magistrate. “I am well satisfied with you; and I will report you favourably at headquarters.” He rang his bell, while the detective, delighted at the praise he had received, moved backwards to the door, bowing the while. However, he made no reply. “Mademoiselle d’Arlange,” continued the magistrate, “has told me where you were on Tuesday evening.” Albert still hesitated. In that event, I do not think, so far as one can answer for oneself, that I should have mentioned her name.” There was no appearance of bravado. You will be treated with every attention due to a prisoner whose innocence appears probable.” Albert bowed, and thanked him; and was then removed. “We are now ready for Gevrol,” said the magistrate to his clerk.

He was one of those short, thick-set men, powerful as oaks, who look as though they could carry almost any weight on their broad shoulders. His white hair and whiskers set off his features, hardened and tanned by the inclemency of the weather, the sea winds and the heat of the tropics. He was dressed in the costume of a well-to-do Normandy fisherman, out for a holiday.

To-day, precisely as twenty years ago, when Justice is in doubt, it requires the same inordinate loss of time and money to obtain the slightest information. Besides, it was an arrangement between ourselves. Well, you know that she is dead, victim of an odious crime?” “The detective who brought me here told me of it, sir,” replied the sailor, his face darkening. To help the great to hide their villainies, and to expect happiness from it, is like making your bed of thorns, in the hope of sleeping well. But she had a will of her own.” “You were her husband, though,” objected M. “Go on, my friend, tell me everything exactly; here, you know, we must have not only the truth, but the whole truth.” Lerouge placed his hat on a chair. She was a pretty, neat, fascinating girl, with a voice sweeter than honey. The misfortune was, that she hadn’t a sou, while we were in easy circumstances. So one evening, after we had returned from fishing and I got up from supper without tasting it, he said to me, ‘Marry the hag’s daughter, and let’s have no more of this.’ I remember it distinctly, because, when I heard the old fellow call my love such a name, I flew into a great passion, and almost wanted to kill him.

The evening after the wedding, and when the relatives and guests had departed, I was about to join my wife, when I perceived my father all alone in a corner weeping. For two years, in spite of a few little quarrels, everything went on nicely. Every week there was something new, dresses, jewels, bonnets, the devil’s baubles, which the dealers invent for the perdition of the female sex.

“I was well enough pleased,” continued the sailor, “until one morning I saw one of the Count de Commarin’s servants entering our house; the count’s chateau is only about a mile from where I lived on the other side of the town. I would not hear of it at first, for our means were sufficient to allow Claudine to keep all her milk for our own child.

She was to get a very good price, that we could save up to go towards the three hundred pistoles. “Not then,” he answered, “but you will see. ‘Very well,’ said she, ‘I will start to-morrow by the diligence.’ I didn’t say a word then; but next morning, when she was about to take her seat in the diligence, I declared that I was going with her. We arranged that she should go alone, while I awaited for her at our inn. I went out soon after, and prowled about near Madame Gerdy’s house, making inquiries of the servants and others; I soon discovered that she was the Count de Commarin’s mistress. After three days of violent discussion, she obtained from me a reluctant consent, between two kisses. Then she told me that we were not going to return home by the diligence. The lady, who feared the fatigue of the journey for her child, had arranged that we should travel back by short stages, in her carriage, and drawn by her horses. We were, therefore, installed with the children, mine and the other, in an elegant carriage, drawn by magnificent animals, and driven by a coachman in livery. Go on.” “She said to me, shaking her pocket full of money, ‘See here, my man, we shall always have as much of this as ever we may want, and this is why: The count, who also had a legitimate child at the same time as this bastard, wishes that this one shall bear his name instead of the other; and this can be accomplished, thanks to me.

On the road, we shall meet at the inn, where we are to sleep, M. We shall be put in the same room, and, during the night, I am to change the little ones, who have been purposely dressed alike.

For this the count gives me eight thousand francs down, and a life annuity of a thousand francs.’” “And you!” exclaimed the magistrate, “you, who call yourself an honest man, permitted such villainy, when one word would have been sufficient to prevent it?” “Sir, I beg of you,” entreated Lerouge, “permit me to finish.” “Well, continue!” “I could say nothing at first, I was so choked with rage. She took me aside, during my visit in her room, and, after having made me swear secrecy on a crucifix, she told me that she couldn’t bear the idea of separating herself from her babe forever, and of bringing up another’s child. I tell the count that I have changed the children; we receive from both sides, and Jacques will be rich. It was his way of weeping. She proved to me that we were wronging no one, that we were making little Jacques’s fortune, and I was silenced. At evening we arrived at some village; and the coachman, stopping the carriage before an inn, told us we were to sleep there.

We entered, and who do you think we saw? That scamp, Germain, with a nurse carrying a child dressed so exactly like the one we had that I was startled. I resolved not to lose sight of the little bastard, swearing that they shouldn’t change it; so I kept him all the evening on my knees, and to be all the more sure, I tied my handkerchief about his waist. the plan had been well laid. After supper, some one spoke of retiring, and then it turned out that there were only two double-bedded rooms in the house. Add to this, that during the evening I had surprised looks of intelligence passing between my wife and that rascally servant, and you can imagine how furious I was. I knew very well that I was doing wrong; and I almost wished myself dead.

Why is it that women can turn an honest man’s conscience about like a weather-cock with their wheedling?” M. They were obliged to give way to me. The other nurse went up to bed first. Claudine and I followed soon afterwards.

The other nurse cried out as though she were being murdered. Great drops of sweat stood out upon his brow, then, trickling down his cheeks, lodged in the deep wrinkles of his face. This was done; we could all four write. He wrote his name first, begging me to say nothing about it to the count, swearing that, for his part, he would never breathe a word of it, and pledging the other nurse to a like secrecy.” “And have you kept this paper?” asked M. “Yes, sir, and as the detective to whom I confessed all, advised me to bring it with me, I went to take it from the place where I always kept it, and I have it here.” “Give it to me.” Lerouge took from his coat pocket an old parchment pocket-book, fastened with a leather thong, and withdrew from it a paper yellowed by age and carefully sealed. “The paper hasn’t been opened since that accursed night.” And, in fact, when the magistrate unfolded it, some dust fell out, which had been used to keep the writing, when wet, from blotting. The four signatures were there. you do not know?” “Yes, sir, I swear it. Fear nothing, therefore; and, if you experience some humiliation, think that it is your punishment for the past.” “Alas, sir,” answered the sailor, “I have been already greatly punished; and it is a long time since my troubles began.

When she realised how much money we had these vices showed themselves, just like a fire, smouldering at the bottom of the hold, bursts forth when you open the hatches. Whenever I went to sea, she would entertain the worst women in the place; and there was nothing too good or too expensive for them. Well, one night, when she thought me at Rouen, I returned unexpectedly. Without losing a minute, I went and saw a lawyer, and asked him how an honest sailor who had had the misfortune to marry a hussy ought to act. That same night I went away with my son.” “And what became of your wife after your departure?” “I cannot say, sir; I only know that she quitted the neighbourhood a year after I did.” “You have never lived with her since?” “Never.” “But you were at her house three days before the crime was committed.” “That is true, but it was absolutely necessary. The wretched woman had not changed in the least; she had by her side a glass and a bottle of brandy--” “All this doesn’t explain why you went to seek your wife.” “It was on Jacques’s account, sir, that I went.

“Well, sir,” replied the sailor, “what can I say? I thought that Claudine had wearied out the people from whom she drew money, like water from a well; or else getting drunk one day, she had blabbed too freely.” The testimony being as complete as possible, M. He had acted in a mysterious crime, which demanded the utmost caution, as carelessly as though it were a case of simple misdemeanour.

He had feared equally appearing weak and being revengeful. He accused himself, however, none the less harshly. A man may well feel so, when all women are as nothing to him except one, whom he may never dare hope to possess. His efforts were not absolutely wasted. The chief of detectives was triumphant, and showed it too. As soon as he saw Tabaret, he called out, “Well, my illustrious mare’s-nest hunter, what news? Instead of retaliating, he bowed his head in such a penitent manner that Gevrol was astonished.

Gevrol rubbed his nose, put out his lower lip, and said, “Ah,--hem!” He pretended to hesitate; but it was only because he enjoyed prolonging the old amateur’s discomfiture. Come to me to-morrow morning, and we’ll talk it over. But before we part I’ll give you a light to find your way with. Gevrol.” “Well, that fellow on the bench there, who is waiting for M. Tabaret doesn’t sound so well as Commarin, but it’s at least a name. That however, would not prove his innocence to me, if I doubted it.

He must have believed as well as the count in the substitution having taken place. Then, when Noel discovered the count’s letters, she must have hastened to explain to him--” Old Tabaret stopped as suddenly as if further progress were obstructed by some dangerous reptile. “A handsome animal!” he said to himself; “my tenants receive some swell people.” They apparently received visitors of an opposite class also, for, at that moment, he saw M. The old detective, who knew everybody, was well acquainted with the worthy banker. “Have you ever had reason to complain of me whenever we have done business together? “That’s well known,” replied Tabaret in a careless tone. But what do you suppose the wench costs him a year?” “Oh, I don’t know! Gerdy, however, has resources.” “He!” interrupted the usurer, shrugging his shoulders. But, if he owes you money, do not be anxious. He is going to be married; and I have just renewed bills of his for twenty-six thousand francs.

And, supposing it were true? He passed in, and found his concierge standing, cap in hand, and tenderly examining a twenty franc piece. why?” “That elegant lady, who just went out, sir; she came to make some inquiries about M. She gave me twenty francs for answering her questions. Lazare as rapidly as if he had been a young man of twenty.

The old fellow followed. “There,” he gasped, “that blue brougham, twenty francs!” “All right!” replied the coachman, nodding. They were soon on the Boulevards. I said twenty francs; I’ll make it forty.” The driver whipped up his horse most mercilessly, and growled, “It’s no use, I must catch her. For twenty francs, I would have let her escape; for I love the girls, and am on their side. Ah, well!

The young woman alighted, crossed the pavement, and entered a shop where cashmeres and laces were sold. What can these creatures do with the money so lavishly bestowed upon them? If so, he is the lowest, the most infamous of men! The weather was charming, her dress irresistible, and she intended showing herself off. He got out of the cab, gave the driver his forty francs, bade him wait, and followed in the young woman’s footsteps. “Madame Juliette Chaffour,” he answered.

The ornaments on the mantelpiece alone must have cost, at the lowest estimate, twenty thousand francs. We are quits.” “You know very well that he worships you.” “He? He hides me as though I were some horrible disease. Why, no longer ago than last Tuesday, we went to the theatre! Were you obliged to return home alone?” “No. We had arranged to go to the masked ball at the Opera and then to have some supper. At supper, I had to treat him like a perfect stranger, because some of his friends were present.” This, then, was the alibi prepared in case of trouble. “Well,” he said, making a great effort to utter the words, “the supper, I suppose, was none the less gay for that.” “Gay!” echoed the young woman, shrugging her shoulders; “you do not seem to know much of your friend. An hour later, armed with the necessary power, and accompanied by a policeman, he proceeded to the lost property office at the St.

In one of the pockets of the overcoat, he found a pair of lavender kid gloves, frayed and soiled, as well as a return ticket from Chatou, which had not been used. In hurrying on, in pursuit of the truth, old Tabaret knew only too well, what it was. “Sir,” he cried, stuttering with suppressed rage, “we have discovered the real assassin! And then in a lower tone, he added, “I suspected it.” “A warrant is necessary at once,” continued the old fellow. “If we lose a minute, he will slip through our fingers. We must now occupy ourselves with the other one.” Neither old Tabaret nor M. “The Count has gone out,” said Denis; “but if you will take the trouble to wait----” “I will wait,” answered Noel. I have the count’s orders to show you into his private room.” This confidence gave Noel an idea of his new power. At the same time their minds were filled with thoughts, which would require a volume to transcribe.

you knew well that you were Madame Gerdy’s son. But you know as well as I do what she was saying. You were listening, and, if you dared to enter at that moment when one word more would have betrayed you, it was because you had calculated the effect of your presence. His lips, which were hanging through terror, now grew firm. de Commarin, without seeming to pay any attention to Noel, approached his writing table, and opened a drawer. You will then find fire-arms in this drawer. de Commarin in disgust, “you are a coward!” “No, sir, not a coward; but I will not kill myself until I am sure that every opening is closed against me, that I cannot save myself.” “Miserable wretch!” said the count, threateningly, “must I then do it myself?” He moved towards the drawer, but Noel closed it with a kick. I say, supply me with means, for I have not twenty francs in the world. For a moment hesitating between love for his name and his burning desire to see this wretch punished, the old nobleman stood undecided. If I succeed in escaping my pursuers, you must hold at my disposal the balance, four hundred and twenty thousand francs.

I can yet give myself up, and----” He stooped down, however, and picked up the notes. His mouth was parched, his eyes were burning, and every now and then a sudden fit of sickness overcame him. An irresistible weariness succeeded the desperate energy which, in the presence of the count, had sustained his impudent arrogance.

All the springs of his organization, stretched for more than a week past far beyond their ordinary limits, now relaxed and gave way. The fever which for the last few days had kept him up failed him now; and, with the weariness, he felt an imperative need of rest. But he struggled against this dull stupor, and at last the reaction came, shaking off this weakness of mind and body. He very soon stopped, however, for it occurred to him that this extraordinary behaviour would attract attention. The police were seeking him, and he could think of no place in the whole world where he would feel perfectly safe. It occurred to him that as the police were doubtless already in pursuit of him, his description would soon be known to everyone, his white cravat and well trimmed whiskers would betray him as surely as though he carried a placard stating who he was. And, besides, as soon as his eighty thousand francs were spent, he had the certainty of receiving, on his first request, five or six times as much more. “We will be saved or we will perish together.

The police were perhaps there already. Then the advocate made a confession of all his follies, laid bare his financial condition, showed himself in his true light, sunk in debt; and he finally begged his mother to have recourse to M. For a fortnight, there was a terrible struggle between mother and son, in which the advocate was conquered. These last he went and showed to Albert, feeling sure, that, should justice ever discover the reason of Claudine’s death, it would naturally suspect he who appeared to have most interest in it. In case things went against him, he thus secured an unanswerable alibi. Putting a bold face on it, however, he acted at once and staked his all. Circumstances, as well as his own terror, increased his boldness and his ingenuity. He pushed her gently into the salon, and followed, closing the door. “Answer me,” he continued, bruising her pretty hands in his grasp, “yes, or no,--do you love me?” A hundred times had she played with her lover’s anger, delighting to excite him into a fury, to enjoy the pleasure of appeasing him with a word; but she had never seen him like this before.

“I have some money, some jewels. I have a fortune, Juliette; let us fly!” She had already opened her jewel box, and was throwing everything of value that she possessed pell mell into a little travelling bag. “Don’t despair,” cried Juliette; “try the servants’ staircase!” “You may be sure they have not forgotten it.” Juliette went to see, and returned dejected and terrified. But Juliette, who had returned, perceiving the movement, threw herself upon her lover, but so violently that the revolver turned aside and went off. He staggered, but remained standing, supporting himself by the mantel piece, while the blood flowed copiously from his wound. I will help you, we will bribe the jailors. Ah, we will live so happily together, no matter where, far away in America where no one knows us!” The outer door had yielded; the police were now picking the lock of the door of the ante-chamber. “After all, I loved him as though he were my own child; his name is still in my will!” Old Tabaret stopped. I owe him that at least.” While they were writing, he drew Juliette’s head close to his lips.

Some months later, one evening, at old Mademoiselle de Goello’s house, the Marchioness d’Arlange, looking ten years younger than when we saw her last, was giving her dowager friends an account of the wedding of her granddaughter Claire, who had just married the Viscount Albert de Commarin. “The wedding,” said she, “took place on our estate in Normandy, without any flourish of trumpets. The scandal raised by the mistake of which he had been the victim, called for a brilliant wedding. It is, however, of no consequence; I defy anyone to find to-day a single individual with courage enough to confess that he ever for an instant doubted Albert’s innocence. But I do not think much of those parents who hesitate at any pecuniary sacrifice when their children’s happiness is at stake.” The marchioness forgot, however, to state that, a week before the wedding, Albert freed her from a very embarrassing position, and had discharged a considerable amount of her debts. Since then, she had not borrowed more than nine thousand francs of him; but she intends confessing to him some day how greatly she is annoyed by her upholsterer, by her dressmaker, by three linen drapers, and by five or six other tradesmen. Ah, well, she is all the same a worthy woman; she never says anything against her son-in-law! The eighty thousand francs hidden by him under the pillow were not taken from her.

/

He accosted me with trepidation and passed on.To this the porter replied, as well as he could for trepidation, that he had once before heard of this sea-beast; that it was a cruel demon, with bowels of sulphur and blood of fire, created by evil genii as the means of inflicting misery upon mankind; that the things upon its back were vermin, such as sometimes infest cats and dogs, only a little larger and more savage; and that these vermin had their uses, however evil--for, through the torture they caused the beast by their nibbling and stingings, it was goaded into that degree of wrath which was requisite to make it roar and commit ill, and so fulfil the vengeful and malicious designs of the wicked genii. He accosted me with trepidation and passed on. I could not help, however, repeatedly observing, through the mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he rapidly descanted upon matters of little importance, a certain air of trepidation--a degree of nervous unction in action and in speech--an unquiet excitability of manner which appeared to me at all times unaccountable, and upon some occasions even filled me with alarm. /

* * * * * Ten o’clock.--The witnesses, or the company (which shall I call them?) reached the house an hour since.It took a pretty stiff exertion of my authority, as chief, to prevent the whole of the female household from following me and Penelope up-stairs, in the character of volunteer witnesses in a burning fever of anxiety to help Sergeant Cuff. In this matter of the Moonstone the plan is, not to present reports, but to produce witnesses. As genuine documents they are sent to me--and as genuine documents I shall preserve them, endorsed by the attestations of witnesses who can speak to the facts. And you can be one of the witnesses, Drusilla, when I sign my Will.” Her Will! “She has been so good as to ask me to be one of the witnesses.” “Aye? Later discoveries she will be good enough to leave to the pens of those persons who can write in the capacity of actual witnesses.” (5.) “Miss Clack is extremely sorry to trouble Mr. The walks were, one and all, solitudes; and the birds and the bees were the only witnesses.

“You shall steal the Diamond, unconsciously, for the second time, in the presence of witnesses whose testimony is beyond dispute.” I started to my feet. She only waits a word of reply from me to make the journey to Yorkshire, and to be present as one of the witnesses on the night when the opium is tried for the second time. Bruff, making a point of it that he shall be present as one of the witnesses. With these, and with old Betteredge (who is really a person of importance in the family) we shall have witnesses enough for the purpose--without including Mrs.

* * * * * Ten o’clock.--The witnesses, or the company (which shall I call them?) reached the house an hour since. In the presence of the two witnesses, I gave him the dose, and shook up his pillows, and told him to lie down again quietly and wait. /

I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more.I might expect to be punished summarily, to be sent to gaol, to be laid by the heels for a month or two, perhaps more. It was plain from the telegram that was handed to him on arrival, and which so upset him that he suffered me to take it out of his hand and to read it for myself, that a friend, his colleague, no doubt, had been checked summarily at Lausanne. /

And the number of such first-comers is prodigiously large.There is not in all Paris a house better kept or more inviting-looking than No. 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. “No spitting allowed on the stairs.” “Dogs are not allowed in the house.” Nevertheless, this admirably-kept house “enjoyed” but a sorry reputation in the neighborhood. Probably not; but there is a fate for houses as well as for men.

A collector, who occasionally acted as broker, lived in the second story, and had his offices there. The third story was rented to a very rich man, a baron as people said, who only appeared there at long intervals, preferring, according to his own account, to live on his estates near Saintonge. 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. The fifth story, finally, was cut up in numerous small rooms and closets, which were occupied by poor families or clerks, who, almost without exception, disappeared early in the morning, and returned only as late as possible at night.

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! However this may have been, the house had a bad reputation; and the lodgers had to bear the consequences. 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. 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. 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. No one, it must, however, be confessed, had ever seen this son; and no one knew him. He was a man of middle size, clean shaven, with small, bright, yellowish eyes, which shone with restless eagerness from under thick, bushy brows.

Although he had lived for years in Paris, he was dressed like a man from the country, wearing a flowered silk vest, and a long frock-coat with an immense collar. “Take your lamp, and follow me; an accident has happened upstairs.” He was so seriously disturbed, although generally very calm and cool, that the two Chevassats were thoroughly frightened. 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. “Miss Henrietta is not in her room,” said Mrs.

Ravinet, you must have been mistaken; you had a ringing in your ears, or”-- “No, I am sure I was not mistaken! 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. “Yes, we must see what it is,” they repeated. And, taking up his lamp, he began to ascend the stairs, followed by the merchant, his wife, and five or six other persons. The door to Miss Henrietta’s room was the first on the left in the passage. 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.

Between each blow he cried,-- “Miss Henrietta, Miss Henrietta, they want you!” No reply came. Ravinet had knelt down, and tried to open the door a little, putting now his eye, and now his ear, to the keyhole and to the slight opening between the door and the frame. “It is all over; we are too late!” And, as the neighbors expressed some doubts, he cried furiously,-- “Have you no noses? “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.

No one doubted any longer that the poor girl was lying in there dead; and each one tried his best to see where she was. 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. “Where is the window?” he asked the concierge. “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. “She is not dead yet!” he cried. 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. “No doubt she was crossed in love.” “Or she was starving,” whispered another. There was no doubt that poverty, extreme poverty, had ruled in that miserable chamber: the traces were easily seen all around. The whole furniture consisted of a bed, a chest of drawers, and two chairs.

Papa Ravinet was thinking of all this, when a paper lying on the bureau attracted his eye. 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. His brow grew as dark as ever; and he looked around anxiously and suspiciously to see if anybody had caught the impression produced upon him by the letters. 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. 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. “She has trembled, she has moved!” This time there was no doubt, no denial possible. “She is alive!” exclaimed the women, almost frightened, and as if they had seen a miracle performed,--“she is alive!” In an instant, M. “Never mind!” said the merchant, “she is saved; and, when the doctor comes, he will have little else to do. 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 want wood also (for it is terribly cold here), and sugar for her tea, and a candle.” He did not mention all that was needed, but nearly so, and a great deal too much for the people who stood by. As a proof of this, the wife of the broker put grandly a five-franc piece on the mantlepiece, and quietly slipped out. When Papa Ravinet had finished his little speech, there was nobody left but the two ladies who lived on the first floor, and the concierge and his wife. Had the shrewd man foreseen this noble abandonment of the poor girl?

One would have fancied so; for he smiled bitterly, and said,-- “Excellent hearts--pshaw!” Then, shrugging his shoulders, he added,-- “Luckily, I deal in all possible things. I’ll run down stairs, and I’ll be back in a moment with all that is needed. Never in her life had she been so much astonished. “They have changed Papa Ravinet, or I am mad.” The fact is, that the man was not exactly considered a benevolent and generous mortal. Miss Henrietta was breathing more freely, but her face was still painfully rigid. This troubled the two ladies not a little, although they felt very much relieved, and disposed to do everything, now that they were no longer expected to open their purses. “Well, that is always the way,” said Papa Ravinet boldly. “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? We can come back when the child is comfortably put to bed.” The good man lived, to tell the truth, in the same rooms in which the thousand and one things he was continually buying were piled up in vast heaps. There was no fixed place for his bed even.

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. “The most disagreeable thing about it,” he said with an absent air, “is, that the doctor will report the matter to the police, and there will be an investigation.” Master Chevassat nearly dropped his glass. But no doubt you are mistaken, my dear sir.” “No, I am not. They will simply ask you who that girl is, how she supports herself, and where she lived before she came here.” “That is exactly what I cannot tell.” The dealer in old clothes seemed to be amazed; he frowned and said,-- “Halloo! How came it about that Miss Henrietta had rooms in your house?” The concierge was evidently ill at ease; something was troubling him sorely.

that is as clear as sunlight,” he replied; “and, if you wish it, I’ll tell you the story; you will see there is no harm done.” “Well, let us hear.” “Well, then, it was about a year ago this very day, when a gentleman came in, well dressed, an eyeglass stuck in his eye, impudent like a hangman’s assistant, in fact a thoroughly fashionable young man. 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. I thought he would be disgusted; but no. 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. “And who is that fashionable young man?” he asked. that is more than I know, except that his name is Maxime.” That name made the old merchant jump as if a shower-bath had suddenly fallen upon his head. He changed color; and his small yellowish eyes had a strange look in them. 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! I did not do it.” Gradually, and by a great effort, Master Chevassat began to master his embarrassment.

Maxime, for I had his money in my pocket. He laughed me in the face, and did not even let me finish my question.

‘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. Still it was my duty to know who Miss Henrietta was; so I asked him civilly. 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. That very day a dealer in second-hand furniture brought the pieces you have seen up stairs; and the day after, about eleven o’clock, Miss Henrietta herself appeared. She had not much baggage, I tell you; she brought every thing she owned in a little carpet-bag in her hand.” The old merchant was stooping over the fire as if his whole attention was given to the teakettle, in which the water was beginning to boil. “It seems to me, my good friend,” he said, “that you did not act very wisely. Still, if that is really all, I don’t think they are likely to trouble you.” “What else could there be?” “How do I know? The law is pretty strict about it, in the case of a minor.” The concierge protested with a solemn air. “That is your lookout,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. Maxime no longer came to see Miss Henrietta?” “He still came to see her.” In the most natural manner in the world, Papa Ravinet raised his arms to heaven, and exclaimed as if horror-struck,-- “What!

is it possible? He began to see what the old merchant meant by his questions, and how unsatisfactory his answers were. As for Miss Henrietta, as soon as she is able to move, the serpent! 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! Quickly he drew the teakettle from the fire; and, pulling out Miss Henrietta’s two letters, he held the one that was addressed to M. 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. When you read this, I shall be no longer alive. “You may raise your head again; you are relieved of all fears.

And, if it should require a miracle, that miracle will be done, so as to inform that honorable man who thought you were his friend, how and why the poor girl died whom he had intrusted to your honor. “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. The operation was successful; and, without the slightest hesitation, he read:-- “Dear father,--Broken down with anxiety, and faint from exhaustion, I have waited till this morning for an answer to my humble letter, which I had written to you on my knees. “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! 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. The two letters he had just read had opened anew in his heart more than one badly-healed and badly-scarred wound. 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 as his thoughts began to overflow, so to say, he broke out in a strange, spasmodic monologue,-- “Yes,” he murmured, “yes, I recognize you, Sarah Brandon!

And that Daniel, who intrusted her to the care of Maxime de Brevan--who is he? And how can I ever hope to make her confide in me?” An old clock struck seven, and the merchant was suddenly recalled to the present; he trembled in all his limbs. “I was falling asleep; and that is what I cannot afford to do.

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.

I may risk it.” And, thus re-assured, he rapidly mounted up to the fifth story; but there Mrs. Chevassat suddenly barred his way, coming down stairs in a manner which showed clearly that she had lain in wait for him. “Well, my dear sir,” she said with her sweetest manner: “so you have become Miss Henrietta’s banker?” “Yes; do you object to it?” “Oh, not at all! 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.

On the bureau stood a lamp with a shade to prevent the light from hurting the patient’s eyes; a bright fire blazed on the hearth; several old curtains had been hung before the window, one before the other, to replace for the time the missing panes; and on the table stood a teakettle, a china cup, and two small medicine-bottles. 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. 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. But it occurred to him at once that he might be looked upon as a spy, and that his feelings would be sure to be misinterpreted. At the noise he made, Henrietta roused herself.

it is you, sir. I felt how life was leaving me, and I only wished to shorten the agony. Even to get the charcoal, I had to risk a falsehood, and cheat the woman who let me have it in credit. 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. He uttered an oath which would have startled even that estimable woman, and then said warmly,-- “I understand, Miss Henrietta, I understand.

You want somebody to advise you, to defend you; and here I am; if you have enemies, let them beware! Making a supreme effort, she looked fixedly at the old man to see if she could read in his face what were his real thoughts. He, on his part, was seriously troubled by his failure to inspire her with confidence. “Do you doubt my promises?” he asked her. 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! she mistrusts my good will.” “Sir!” “Pray what can you have to fear from me?

Is not that perfectly natural, and quite simple?” She said nothing; and he remained a few moments buried in thought, as if trying to find out her motive for refusing his help. Suddenly he cried out, beating his forehead,-- “Ah, I have it. 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.

But, if the old man had calculated upon this policy, he failed signally. Henrietta remained as icy as ever, and said,-- “Believe me, sir, I am exceedingly obliged to you for all you have done for me, and for your effort to convince me.” The poor man looked disappointed. May I not have said to myself, that perhaps she is struggling, just as you have done, with poverty; that she also has been abandoned by her lover?” The poor girl turned deadly pale as he spoke thus, and interrupted him eagerly, raising herself on her pillows,-- “You are mistaken, sir. But, if that is so, how did you get here? She said in a low voice,-- “There are secrets which cannot be revealed.” “Not even when life and honor depend on them?” “Yes.” “But”-- “Oh, pray do not insist!” If Henrietta had known the old merchant, she would have read in his eyes the satisfaction which he felt. The time seemed to him to have come to strike a decisive blow.

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. He hastily added,-- “After all, I could not resist the temptation to read the directions, and to draw my own conclusions. Who is Count Ville-Handry? I suppose he is your father. No doubt he is the young man who called to see you so often. “However, wait till you are perfectly well again before you come to any decision.

You need not tell me any thing else but what is absolutely necessary for me to know in order to advise you.” “Yes, indeed! 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! I’ll come up again to-morrow; for, to tell the truth, I am tired to death, and must go and lie down.” But he told a fib; for he did not go back to his rooms. He remained there a long time, exposed to wind and rain, uttering now and then a low oath, and stamping with his feet to keep himself warm. “He is Maxime de Brevan,” murmured the old man. You have lost your game, and you’ll have to try your luck elsewhere; and this time I am on hand. Generally it is in novels only that unknown people suddenly take it into their heads to tell their whole private history, and to confide to their neighbors even their most important and most jealously-guarded secrets. In the first place, she asked herself who this odd man could be, who had spoken of himself as a dangerous and suspicious person.

Thus, whenever he became animated, his carriage, his gestures, and his manners, contrasted with his country-fashioned costume, as if he had for the moment forgotten his lesson.

At the same time his language, usually careless and incorrect, and full of slang terms belonging to his trade, became pure and almost elegant. What was his business? One might very easily have imagined that Papa Ravinet (was that his real name?) had before that been in a very different position. 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?

What discoveries might be made there? 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. Was it merely from charity that he did all this? Christian charity is not often so pressing. or had his interests ever been mixed up with hers? “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. This view was all the more urgent, as the poor child, like all persons who have been rescued from death only after having exhausted their sufferings, now began to cling to life with an almost desperate affection.

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. “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 would have been perfect, but for his passion for hunting. 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. This nobleman, forty years old, and enjoying all that heart could desire, was unmarried.

There was not a good mother for twenty miles around who did not covet this prize for her daughter,--thirty thousand dollars a year, and a great man. But all these manoeuvres had been fruitless; he had escaped from all snares, and resisted the most cunning devices. His friends found the explanation in a certain person, half housekeeper, half companion, who lived in the castle, and was very pretty and very designing. 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. Was it possible, was it natural, that a great nobleman like the count should end thus miserably, ridiculously? or was he only insane about Miss Rupert?

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. But, on the other hand, this fact might have led to very different surmises still. 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. No more affectionate smiles, no tender welcomes, no little white hands stealthily seeking his. The doors that formerly seemed to fly open at his mere approach now turned but slowly on their hinges; some remained even closed, the owners being reported not at home, although the count knew perfectly well that they were in. 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. Even when she was leaning on the count’s arm, there were persons who spoke very kindly to him, and did not say a word to his wife, as if they had not seen her, or she had not existed at all. 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. Fate, however, always more kind than man, held a reward in store for Count Ville-Handry, which amply repaid him for his heroism in marrying a poor girl. 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. She might now have had her vengeance on all her miserable slanderers, and enjoyed a boundless popularity. And now an accident made all her sacrifices useless, and punished her for having done her duty. Ah, why had she not resisted, at least for the purpose of gaining time? Unfortunately one obstacle had risen between them from the beginning,--Pauline’s poverty.

The oldest, Peter, was to be a lawyer; the other, Daniel, who wanted to become a sailor, was studying day and night to prepare for his examination. They told everybody who would listen, that, in return for the costly education they were giving them, they expected them to marry large fortunes. Peter knew his parents so well, that he never mentioned Pauline to them. 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. He had rescued her from abject poverty, and bestowed upon her his fortune and his name; and she owed it to him in return to make him happy.

She knew precisely how narrow his mind was, how empty his thoughts, and how cold his heart. The worst, however, was, that the count was very near hating his wife. He had heard so many people say that she was not his equal, that he finally believed it himself. From that moment she roused herself from the languor to which she had given way for nearly two years, and set to work to study the count with that amazing sagacity which a high stake is apt to give.

One morning, when they had finished breakfast, he said,-- “Ah! The day before she died, when she knew she was going, she made me promise her to marry you.” This Nancy was the count’s former housekeeper.

After this awkward speech, the poor countess saw clearly enough what position that woman had really held at the castle. Although cruelly humiliated by this confession of her husband’s, the countess had sufficient self-control not to blame him for his weakness. For his happiness and for our peace, I will stoop to play the part Nancy played.” This was more easily said than done; for the count was not the man to be led openly, nor was he willing to listen to good advice, simply because it was good. Irritable, jealous, and despotic, like all weak men, he dreaded nothing so much as what he called an insult to his authority. 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. The countess knew it; and this knowledge made her strong. 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.

On the other hand, it was well known that the count had sworn he would end his life in the province. 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. People would not believe it, therefore, when report first arose that he was going to leave Ville-Handry, that he had bought a town-house in Paris and that he would shortly go there to establish himself permanently in the capital.

“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. But it had been comparatively child’s play to bring the count to Paris; the real difficulty was to keep him there. 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. His wife foresaw this difficulty, and looked for an object that might give the count abundant employment and amusement. 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. Fortunately her fortune and her name were of great service to her in this enterprise.

Her relations helped her; and soon her Wednesdays and Saturdays became famous in Paris. 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. The next winter the count, who had so far kept aloof from politics, came out with his opinions. He soon made his mark, aided by his fine appearance, his elegant manners, and imperturbable self-possession. He spoke in public, and made an impression by his good common-sense. He advised others, and they were struck by his sagacity. 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. I should be still in the province, if I had listened to her.” She enjoyed her work in quiet delight. But there was this wonderful feature in her work,--that nobody suspected her; no one, not even her own child.

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. She had made him happy in the only way in which a small and ordinary man could be made happy,--by gratifying his vanity. She had been his evil star. His life had been imbittered from the day on which he found himself forsaken by her whom he loved better than life itself.

His parents had “hunted up” an heiress, as they called it, and he had married her dutifully. 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. He had gone to Rosiers, the house formerly occupied by Pauline’s mother; and there, in a narrow lane, his body was found by some peasants coming home from market. The ball had so fearfully disfigured his face, that at first no one recognized him; and the accident made a terrible sensation. “And to choose such a strange place for his suicide!” he added. “It is evident the man was insane.” But the countess did not hear this.

She understood but too well why Peter had wished to die in that lane overshadowed by old elm-trees. Fortunately her mother died nearly at the same time; and this misfortune helped to explain her utter prostration and deep grief. Her selfishness was so intense, that she never became aware of the cruelty with which she had sacrificed her daughter. The servant handed her his card; she took it, and read,-- “Daniel Champcey.” It was Daniel, Peter’s brother. “What must I say?” asked the servant, rather surprised at the emotion shown by his mistress. Peter had never mentioned Pauline’s name in his father’s house. 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. Gradually, and while listening to him, the countess recovered her calmness. “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.

Thus she might make some amends for her own conduct, and show some respect to his memory. 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. “O God!” thought the countess, “why are they not a few years older?” The poor lady had for some months been troubled by dismal presentiments. 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! 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. They raised her up.

The Countess Ville-Handry had died from disease of the heart. Henrietta, roused by the noise all over the house, the voices in the passages, and the steps on the staircase, and suspecting that some accident had happened, had rushed at once into her mother’s room. 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? “My mother is not dead; oh, no! They turned away from her, distressed by her terrible grief, expressing their inability to help by a gesture; and then the poor girl went back to the bed, and, bending over her mother, watched with a painfully bewildered air for her return to life. They attempted to take her away from that heartrending sight; they begged her to go to her room; but she insisted upon staying. 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.

More than two hundred persons called to condole with the count, twenty-five or thirty ladies came and kissed Henrietta, calling her their poor dear child. Daniel had loved her like a mother; and in his heart a mysterious voice warned him, that, in losing her, he had well-nigh lost Henrietta. He had apparently suffered as much as she; he looked pale; and his eyes were red. There was a strange want of steadiness in his movements; he looked almost like a paralytic, whose crutches had suddenly broken down. His vanity was too great to render that very probable. 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. He lost his reputation as a statesman, and with it his influence.

As yet, however, his reputation remained uninjured. They attributed the sudden failure of his faculties to the great sorrow that had befallen him in the death of his wife. Henrietta was as much misled as the others, and perhaps even more. Her respect and her admiration, so far from being diminished, only increased day by day.

She loved him all the more dearly as she watched the apparent effect of his incurable grief. He was really deeply grieved, but only by his fall. 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. 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.

He was a great deal at his club now, rode much on horseback, went to the theatres, and dined with his friends. 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. But he smiled, and said with considerable embarrassment,-- “My servant is making an experiment; he thinks this goes better with my complexion, and makes me look younger.” Evidently something strange had occurred in the count’s life.

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. But she had only spoken a few words when he interrupted her, and, blushing deeply, said,-- “Do not trouble yourself about that, Miss Henrietta; and, whatever your father may do, do not mind it.” That advice was more easily given than followed; for the count’s ways became daily more extraordinary. 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. 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. They were closeted with the count; and their discussions were so loud, they could be heard all over the house. What were the grave discussions that made so much noise? The count undertook to enlighten his daughter. 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. I do not want any more money; what I want is an outlet for my energy and my talents.” This was so sensible a reply, that both Henrietta and Daniel felt quite re-assured. But it seemed as if nothing could turn him from this folly; he became daily younger and faster. He ordered his coats to be made in the very last fashion; and never went out without a camellia or a rosebud in his buttonhole. He no longer contented himself with dyeing his hair, but actually began to rouge, and used such strong perfumes, that one might have followed his track through the streets by the odors he diffused around him. At times he would sit for hours in an arm-chair, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, his brow knit, and his thoughts apparently bent upon some grave question. He who formerly prided himself on his magnificent appetite (he saw in it a resemblance to Louis XIV.) now hardly ate any thing. 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. He would rub his hands till they pained him; he would sing and almost dance with delight. Now and then a commissionaire (it was always the same man) came and brought him a letter.

The count tore it from his hands, threw him a gold-piece, and went to shut himself up in his study.

“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. I dare say you blame me for leaving you so constantly alone here in this large house, where you must die from sheer weariness.” Such a charge would have been but too well founded. The workman, however, takes his child out, at least on Sundays. In the afternoon my music-teacher comes, and my English master. 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?

And yet, if Henrietta had been less excited, she would have read in his eye that his mind was made up. “What I mean to do is done in your behalf, my dear child,” he stammered out at last. “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. 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. 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.

There he spent almost all the time which was not required by his official duties. A walk in company with his friend, Maxime de Brevan; a visit to the theatre, when a particularly fine piece was to be given; and two or three calls a week at Count Ville-Handry’s house,--these were his sole and certainly very harmless amusements. “A genuine old maid, that sailor is,” said the concierge of the house. The truth is, that, if Daniel’s natural refinement had not kept him from contact with what Parisians call “pleasure,” his ardent love for Henrietta would have prevented his falling into bad company. 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. He had a considerable fortune of his own, and was thus, by his private income and his pay as an officer, secured against want.

Daniel did not want Henrietta, on the blessed day when she should become his own, to have any thing to wish for or to regret. 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. Fortunately, the times were favorable to his ambition. Supported by his love, he saw nothing impossible in that thought, and fancied he could overcome all obstacles. “Do you see that d---- little fellow, there, with his quiet ways?” said Admiral Penhoel to his young officers.

“Well, look at him; he’ll checkmate you all.” Daniel was busy in his study, finishing a paper for the minister, when the count’s servant came and brought him Henrietta’s letter. “No, sir, not that I know.” “The count is not sick?” “No, sir.” “And Miss Henrietta?” “My mistress is perfectly well.” Daniel breathed more freely. “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. As he walked rapidly up the street in which the count lived, he thought,-- “I have no doubt taken the alarm too soon; perhaps she has only some commission for me.” But he was beset with dark presentiments, and had to tell himself that that was not likely to be the case. “What is the matter with you?” he cried, without waiting for the door to be closed behind him. You frighten me.” “My father is going to marry again.” At first Daniel was amazed. When she had ended, Daniel said,-- “You have guessed right, Miss Henrietta.

but that is horrible.” “He wanted you to understand, that, if you would consent to his marriage, he would consent”-- Shocked at what he was going to add, he stopped; but Henrietta said boldly,-- “To ours, you mean,--to ours? Yes, so I understood it; and that was my reason for sending for you to advise me.” Poor fellow! She was asking him to seal his fate. She rose, trembling with indignation, and replied,-- “Never, never!” Daniel was overcome by this sudden shock. He saw all his hopes dashed in an instant, his life’s happiness destroyed forever, Henrietta lost to him. But the very imminence of the danger restored to him his energy. He mastered his grief, and said in an almost calm voice,-- “I beseech you, let me explain to you why I advised you so. You cannot do without his consent; but he can marry without asking you for yours. There is no law which authorizes children to oppose the follies of their parents. What your father wants is your silent approval, the certainty that his new wife will be kindly received.

If he spoke to you of his plans, you may be sure he had made up his mind. Your resistance will lead only to our separation. 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. Your father is immensely rich; she wants his fortune.” Daniel’s reasoning was so sensible, and he pleaded his cause with such eagerness, that Henrietta’s resolution was evidently shaken. It shall be done as you wish it. I shall not object to this profanation. 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. She is an angel.” “What is her age?” “Twenty-five.” The count read in his daughter’s face that she thought his new wife much too young for him; and therefore he added, quickly,-- “Your mother was two years younger when I married her.” That was so; but he forgot that that was twenty years ago. 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!

If Maxime de Brevan is not mistaken, that is worse than any thing we could possibly anticipate.” IV. “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. At last he said,-- “Miss Henrietta, you must give me time before I tell you any more.

I will tell you all as soon as I am better informed.” “When will that be?” “To-night, if I can find Maxime de Brevan at home, as I hope I shall do; if I miss him, you must wait till to-morrow.” “And if your suspicions turn out to be well founded; if what you fear, and hide from me now, is really so,--what must I do then?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he rose and said in a solemn voice,-- “I am not going to tell you again how I love you, Henrietta; I am not going to tell you that to lose you would be death to me, and that in our family we do not value life very highly; you know that, don’t you? 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. At last, when his rapture gave way to calmer thoughts, he said,-- “I must leave you at once, Henrietta, if I want to catch Maxime.” As he left, his head was in a whirl, his thoughts in a maze. His life and his happiness were at stake; and a single word would decide his fate in spite of all he could do. Mixing on intimate terms with the men who make up what is called high life, and with whom pleasure is the only occupation, he was very popular with them all. They said he was a man that could always be relied upon, at all times ready to render you a service when it was in his power, a pleasant companion, and an excellent second whenever a friend had to fight a duel.

In fine, neither slander nor calumny had ever attacked his reputation. 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. 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. But he never said what this “support” amounted to; his most intimate friends could not tell whether he had one thousand or ten thousand a year. 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.

His rooms were simple and unpretending; and he kept but a single servant--his carriage he hired by the month. Had Maxime really felt such warm sympathy for his friend? 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. Brevan was just dressing for the opera when Daniel entered his room. “What!” he said, “the hermit student from the other side of the river in this worldly region, and at this hour? What’s the matter?” “A great misfortune, I fear,” replied Daniel. What is it?” “And I want you to help me.” “Don’t you know that I am at your service?” Daniel certainly thought so. “I thank you in advance, my dear Maxime; but I do not wish to give you too much trouble.

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! So sit down, and tell me all.” Daniel had been so overcome by terror, and the fear that he might possibly lose Henrietta, that he had run to his friend without considering what he was going to tell him. The thought had just occurred to him, that Count Ville-Handry’s secret was not his own, and that he was in duty bound not to betray it, if possible, even if he could have absolutely relied upon his friend’s discretion. 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. Sarah Brandon”-- “Miss, if you please, not Mrs.” “Well, it does not matter. 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!

“Well, yes, suppose it is so,” he said with a sigh. Maxime raised his hands to heaven, and said in a tone of painful conviction,-- “In that case you are right.

You ought to inquire; for you may be close upon a terrible misfortune.” “Ah, is she really so formidable?” Maxime shrugged his shoulders, as if he were impatient at being called upon to prove a well-known fact, and said,-- “I should think so.” There seemed to be no reason why Daniel should persist in his questions after that. It is only fools who call out to lovers to beware; and to warn a man who will not be warned, is useless. Are you really in love with Miss Sarah, or are you not? 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? He interrupted his friend, and said,-- “Nonsense! Passion does not reason, does not calculate; and that is the secret of its strength. That is so, I tell you; and no will, no amount of energy, can do any thing with it. And now, my dear fellow, have the kindness to accept this cigar, and let us take a walk.” Was that really so as Brevan said? 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?

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. Now it is excellent; you have been promoted as rapidly as merit could claim, everybody says. But in six months you will be nothing at all; you will have resigned your commission, or you will have been dismissed.” “Allow me”-- “No. There is your picture. And now let us go.” This time he was determined; and Daniel saw that he would not obtain another word from him, unless he changed his tactics. It is not I who am in love with Miss Sarah Brandon.” Brevan was so much surprised, he could not stir.

“Who is it, then?” he asked. “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. But he could not conceal his trouble, and his disappointment even, as he exclaimed,-- “Well done, Daniel! Tell me that your ingenuous people cannot deceive anybody!” However, he said nothing more about it; and, while Daniel was pouring out his excuses, he quietly went back to the fire, and sat down. 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. Sarah will never consent.” “So far from that, she herself has made the suggestion.” This time, Maxime raised his head suddenly, and looked stupefied. “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. 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. 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. I love you too dearly to exact your promise to be discreet. 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.

She means to have a fortune, and is willing to pay any price for it; but she is also desirous to be respected in the world. “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. 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. This Brandon, she says, was a banker and broker in New York when the civil war broke out. He entered the army, and in less than six months, thanks to his marvellous energy, he rose to be a general.

Fortunately, his good star led him into a region where large tracts of land happened to be for sale. He bought them for a few thousand dollars, and soon after discovered on his purchase the most productive oil-wells in all America. 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. “As to her mother, Miss Sarah says she lost her when she was quite young, in a most romantic, though horrible manner”-- “What!” broke in Daniel, “has nobody taken the trouble to ascertain if all these statements are true?” “I am sure I do not know. This much is certain, that sometimes curious facts leak out. Brandon, a Petroleum Brandon.” “He may have borrowed the name.” “Certainly, especially when the original man is said to have died in America. However, Miss Brandon has been living now for five years in Paris. 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. 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.

This Mr. Brian, always stay with Miss Sarah. “When she first arrived, Miss Sarah established herself in a house near the Champs Elysees, which she furnished most sumptuously. 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. 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. “In fine, if she has enemies, she has also fanatic partisans.

If some people say she is a wretch, others--and they are by no means the least clever--tell you that she is an angel, only wanting wings to fly away from this wicked world. 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. Or rather, knowing Daniel as he did,--far better, unfortunately, than he was known by him,--was he trying to irritate him more and more against this formidable adversary? At all events, he continued in that icy tone which gives to sarcasm its greatest bitterness,-- “Besides, my dear Daniel, if you are ever introduced at Miss Brandon’s,--and I pray you will believe me, people are not so easily introduced there,--you will be dumfounded at first by the tone that prevails in that house.

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! To the outer world, Miss Brandon is all levity, indiscretion, coquettishness, and even worse. 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. they understand each other perfectly; the parts are carefully distributed, and”-- Daniel showed that he was utterly discouraged. “There is no way, then, of getting hold of this woman?” he asked. That with poor Kergrist?” “How do I know which?

It was a fearful story; that is all I remember. What did I, at that time, care for Miss Brandon? Now, to be sure”-- Brevan shook his head, and said,-- “Now, you think that story might become a weapon in your hands?

Still it is not a very long one; and I can now tell it to you more in detail than I could before. “About fifteen months ago, there arrived in Paris a nice young man called Charles de Kergrist. 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. He saw Miss Brandon, and instantly ‘took fire.’ He fell desperately in love with her. 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. Upon inspection, the dead man proved to be that unlucky Kergrist. 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.

Now, this letter--mark the fact--was open; that is to say, it had been sealed, and the seal was broken.” “By whom?” “Let me finish. The accident, as you may imagine, made a tremendous noise.

An inquest was held; and it was found that the hundred thousand dollars which Kergrist had brought with him had utterly disappeared.” “And Miss Brandon’s reputation was not ruined?” Maxime replied with a bitter, ironical smile,-- “You know very well that she was not. On the contrary, the hanging was turned by her partisans into an occasion for praising her marvellous virtuousness. ‘If she had been weak,’ they said, ‘Kergrist would not have hanged himself. As to the money,’ they said, ‘it had been lost at the gaming-table.’ Kergrist was reported to have been seen at Baden-Baden and at Homburg; no doubt he played.” “And the world was content with such an explanation?” “Yes; why not? 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. As soon as she saw that Kergrist was surely dead, she slipped down stairs like a cat, opened the house-door noiselessly, and, gliding stealthily along the wall till she reached the body, she actually searched the still quivering corpse to assure herself that there was nothing in the pockets that could possibly compromise her. 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. “That woman is a monster!” he exclaimed. His eyes shone with intense hatred; his lips were quivering with indignation. He no longer thought of discretion, of caution.

He forgot himself, and gave himself up to his feelings. “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. The first defalcation is only six months old. The whole amount is about four hundred thousand francs. I cannot bear the disgrace which I have incurred; in an hour I shall have ceased to live.’ “Malgat put this letter in a prominent place on his desk, and then rushed out, without a cent in his pocket, to throw himself into the canal.

For hours and hours he walked up and down, asking God in his madness for courage.

He could not return to his bank; for there, by this time, his crime must have become known. 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. But four years are four centuries in Paris. 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. “It is not so much the story itself,” he said at last, “that overcomes me so completely.

What I cannot comprehend is, how this woman could refuse the man whose accomplice she had been the small pittance he required in order to evade justice, and to escape to Belgium.” “Nevertheless, that was so,” repeated M. de Brevan; and then he added emphatically, “at least, they say so.” Daniel did not notice this attempt to become more cautious again. He continued pensively,-- “Is it not very improbable that Miss Brandon should not have been afraid to exasperate the unfortunate man, and to drive him to desperate measures? 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. But I tell you, that her peculiarity is exactly the daring with which she ventures upon the most dangerous steps. 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.

Moreover, she had studied Malgat’s character, as she studied afterwards Kergrist’s. 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. However”-- He had become livid, in his turn; but he continued in an almost inaudible voice, as if to meet Daniel’s objections before they were expressed,-- “However, somebody who used to be intimate with Malgat has assured me that he met him one day in Dronot Street, before the great auction- mart. The man said he recognized him, although he seemed to be most artistically disguised. 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. The details were all given me by Miss Sarah’s friends as well as by her enemies. But I was too small a personage, and too poor a devil, to be worth a serious thought of Miss Brandon. 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 took Maxime’s hand in his own, and said with deep feeling,-- “Now, my friend, we are bound to each other for life.” Brevan seemed deeply touched; he raised his hand as if to wipe a tear from his eyes. How can we prevent his marrying Miss Sarah? you see, it will be hard work.” He seemed to meditate deeply for a few moments; then uttering his words slowly and emphatically, as if to lend them their full weight, and impress them forcibly on Daniel’s mind, he resumed,-- “We must attack Miss Brandon herself, if we want to master the situation.

If we could once know who she really is, all would be safe. Fortunately there is no difficulty in Paris in finding spies, if you have money enough.” As the clock on the mantlepiece struck half-past ten, he started and stopped. 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. I want you to see Miss Sarah.” “But who will point her out to me? Brevan took his opera-glasses out, and rapidly surveying the house, he had soon found what he was looking for. He touched Daniel with his elbow, and, handing him the glasses, whispered in his ear,-- “Look there, in the third box from the stage; look, there she is!” V.

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. 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.

Might not Maxime be mistaken?

These thoughts troubled Daniel; and he would have mentioned his doubts to Maxime; but his neighbors were enthusiasts about music, and, as soon as he bent over to whisper into his friend’s ear, they growled, and, if he ventured to utter a word, they forced him to be silent. Their whole attention was concentrated upon Miss Brandon’s box, when they saw the door open, and a gentleman enter, who, at the distance at which they sat, looked like a very young man. His complexion was brilliantly fair, his beard jet black, and his curly hair most carefully arranged. He had his opera-hat under his arm, a camellia in his button-hole; and his light-yellow kid gloves were so tight, that it looked as if they must inevitably burst the instant he used his hands. Somebody touched his shoulder slightly; and, as he turned round, he found it was Maxime, who said with friendly irony,-- “Your old friend, is it not? 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. Suddenly, however, after Miss Brandon had said a few words to him, he rose, and went out. The bell behind the scenes was ringing, and the curtain was about to rise again.

But he entertained no longer any doubts; he had clearly seen how the adventuress was spurring on the old man, and fanning his feeble flame. it will be hard work to rescue the count from the wiles of this witch,” said Maxime. Coming suddenly face to face upon Daniel, he seemed at first very much embarrassed; then, recovering himself, he said,-- “Why, is this you? That is a crime against the majesty of Mozart. Come, go back with me, and I promise you a pleasant surprise.” Brevan came up close to Daniel, and whispered to him,-- “Go; here is the opportunity I was wishing for.” Then he lifted his hat and went his way. 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. However, the count insisted. The roses were piled up in the bottom of the carriage; and, when he had done, he received a handsome fee for his trouble.

Evidently love had made the count young again, and now gave wings to his steps. 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. “I need not tell you, my dear count,” said Miss Sarah, “that your friends are always welcome here.” Then, turning to Daniel, she added,-- “Besides, I have long since known you.” “Me?” “Yes, sir. 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. 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. It would be such an extraordinary thing, if any thing should happen to interfere with his hopes!” Daniel, who had blushed all over, suddenly became deadly pale. The piece was coming to an end; Miss Brandon was drawing a fur cloak over her shoulders, and left on the count’s arm; while he had to escort Mrs.

The servants had let down the steps; and Miss Sarah was just getting in. Suddenly, as her foot touched the bottom of the carriage, she drew back, and cried out,-- “What is that?

What is in there?” The count came forward, looking visibly embarrassed. But immediately Miss Brandon’s terror was changed into wrath. 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. Brian had taken her seat by Miss Brandon’s side; Sir Thorn had gotten in; and it was now the count’s turn. 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. The carriage which took Miss Brandon and Count Ville-Handry away was already at some distance, before Daniel could recover from his amazement, his utter consternation. 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. They were disappointed, however. Noticing that he attracted attention, Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and quickly walked off towards the boulevards.

He had promised Henrietta to be sure to tell her that very evening, if possible, what he had found out; but it was too late now; midnight was striking. 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. 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. “Great God!” said Daniel, “send me some inspiration.” But no inspiration came; and in vain did he torture his mind; he was unable to think.

When he reached home, he went to bed as usual; but the consciousness of his misfortunes kept him awake.

At nine o’clock in the morning, having never closed his eyes, and feeling utterly overcome by sleeplessness and fatigue, he was just about to get up, when some one knocked at his door. He rose hastily, put on his clothes, and went to open the door.

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? That woman has beauty enough to drive any one mad; and the count is a lost man.” And, before Maxime had time to reply, Daniel told him simply and frankly all about his love for Miss Ville-Handry, the hopes he had been encouraged to cherish, and the dangers that threatened his happiness in life. “I foresee, I know, what is going to happen. Henrietta will obstinately, and at any risk, do every thing in the world to prevent her father’s marriage with Miss Brandon; she will struggle to the bitter end. But we shall have a mortal enemy in Miss Brandon; and, on the morning after her wedding, her first thought will be how to avenge herself, and how to separate Henrietta and myself forever.” Little as Brevan was generally given to show his feelings, he was evidently deeply touched by his friend’s despair. All the more reason, then, that you should listen to the calm advice of a friend. You must have yourself presented at Miss Brandon’s house.” “She has invited me.” “Well, then, do not hesitate, but go there.” “What for?” “Not for much.

You will pay some compliments to Miss Sarah; you will be all attention to Mrs. and that nothing is wanting in order to cut that thread but an opportunity? And when you may expect, at any moment, any thing and every thing, what is to be done but to wait and watch?” Daniel did not seem to be convinced. He added,-- “Miss Sarah will talk to me about her marriage.” “Certainly she will.” “What can I say?” “Nothing,--neither yes nor no,--but smile, or run away; at all events, you gain time.” He was interrupted by Daniel’s servant, who came in, holding a card in his hand, and said,-- “Sir, there is a gentleman down stairs in a carriage, who wants to know if he would interrupt you if he came up to see you.” “What is the gentleman’s name?” “Count Ville-Handry. Here is his card.” “Be quick!” said Daniel, “run down and ask him, would he please come up.” M. de Brevan had started up, and was standing, with his hat on, near the door. You would be compelled to introduce me to him; he might remember my name; and, if he were to tell Miss Sarah that I am your friend, all would be lost.” Thereupon he turned to go; but at the same moment the outer door was opened, and he said,-- “There is the count!

I am caught.” But Daniel opened promptly the door to his bedroom, pushed him in, and shut the door. The count must have risen early that day.

A few stories to climb--what is that to me?” At the same time he stretched out his leg, and caressed his calf, as if to exhibit its vigor and its suppleness. In the meantime, Daniel, full of respect for his future father-in-law, had drawn forward his easiest arm-chair. The count took it, and in an airy manner, which contrasted ill with his evident embarrassment, he said,-- “I am sure, my dear Daniel, you must be very much surprised and puzzled to see me here; are you not?” “I confess, sir, I am.

If you wished to speak to me, you had only to drop me a line, and I should have waited upon you at once.” “I am sure you would!

But that is not necessary. I should not have come to see you, if I had not missed an appointment. 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. He exclaimed,-- “Say she is the greatest beauty, the most marvellous and transcendent beauty, you ever saw. Daniel Champcey, is her smallest attraction. 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. Her whole capacity rarely rose beyond the effort to distinguish a ball-dress from a dinner-dress.

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. “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. We wished each other good-day; and sometimes we galloped a little while side by side. I am rather reserved; but Sir Thorn is even more so, and thus it did not seem that our acquaintance was ever to ripen into any thing better, till an accident brought us together. “One morning we were returning slowly from a long ride, when Sir Thorn’s mare, a foolish brute, suddenly shied, and jumped so high, that he was thrown.

I jumped down instantly to help him up again; but he could not rise. But it seems, as we found out afterwards, that he had sprained an ankle, and dislocated a knee. As soon as it came, we raised the invalid, and put him in as well as we could; I got on the box to show the man the way to Sir Thorn’s house. “She was evidently dressing, when the noise which we made startled her; and she came running out. 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. But all this lasted only a few seconds. “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. Nor did he in any way attempt to conceal his emotion.

“Well, I was mistaken.

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.

“You will know Miss Brandon,” he went on, “I hope soon. 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. By his side sat a venerable lady, to whom he presented me, and who was no other than Mrs.

“They received me very kindly, although with some little reserve under all their politeness; but I staid and staid in vain beyond the proper time; Miss Sarah did not appear. “Nor did I see her upon subsequent occasions, when I repeated my visits, until at last I came to the conclusion that she avoided me purposely.

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. At last, looking all around, he discovered the cause. The door to his bedroom, which he was sure he had closed himself, was now standing partly open. 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. “Thus,” he continued, “I was at last to see Miss Sarah again. 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.

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! It is only Americans who can commit such absurdities. “I have since found out that they had almost to force Miss Brandon to receive me; but she had tact enough not to let me see it, when I was formally presented to her, just before going to dinner. It is true, she blushed deeply; but she took my hand with the utmost cordiality, and cut me short when I was trying to pay her some compliment, saying,-- “‘You are Thorn’s friend; I am sure we shall be friends also.’ “Ah, Daniel!

you admired Miss Brandon at the theatre; but you ought to see her at her house. “We soon became friends, as she had foretold, so soon, in fact, that I was quite surprised when I found her addressing me like an old acquaintance. I soon discovered how that came about.

Their serious minds are occupied with the same subjects which fill their parents’ minds,--with politics, industry, discussions in the assembly, discoveries in science, &c. 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. 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. You said so on such and such an occasion.’ “And when I looked at night, after my return, into my papers, to ascertain the fact, I found almost always that Miss Brandon had been right. Need I tell you after that, that I soon became an almost daily visitor at the house in Circus Street? “But what I must tell you is, that I found there the most perfect happiness, and the purest that I have ever known upon earth. 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? After a short pause, he seemed to rouse himself, and said, suddenly changing his tone,-- “I guess what you think, my dear Daniel. 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. The feelings which attracted me toward Miss Brandon were the same that bound me to my daughter. 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. You may guess how I interpreted this change, my dear Daniel. “But, as I have never been a conceited man, I thought I might be mistaken. 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. The count actually noticed his downcast look, and, misinterpreting it, asked him,-- “Could you doubt what I say?” “Oh, no, sir!” “Very well, then.

I can assure you, at all events, that this discovery troubled me not a little. 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. On the other hand, must I necessarily deny myself my pleasant visits at the house in Circus Street, and break with friends who were so dear to me? 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. This indifference seemed to surprise the count; for he uttered an expression of discontent, and curtly repeated,-- “Yes, I thought of marrying her. “This was, in fact, the first objection that arose in my mind. 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? You think, perhaps, she is still in her teens? 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. Then he went on,-- “Besides, I know how serious her disposition is, and her eminent good sense. 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. 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.

“‘You are joking,’ he said at first, ‘and that pains me deeply.’ “But, when he saw that I had never in my life spoken more seriously, he, who is usually so phlegmatic, became perfectly furious. Nor would he give up his purpose, say what I could; and I had to use all my skill to make him change his mind. At last, after more than two hours’ discussion, all that I could obtain from him was the promise that he would remain neutral, and that he would leave to Mrs.

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. “I insisted; but in vain. She would not even listen to me, the old Puritan; and, when I became pressing, she dropped me a solemn curtsey, and left me alone in the room, looking foolish enough, I am sure. Brian and Miss Brandon had just left for Fontainebleau.

“I was becoming restless, when a commissionaire, one morning, brought me a letter. It was Miss Brandon who wrote. She asked me to be that very day, at four o’clock, in the Bois de Boulogne, near the waterfalls; that she would ride out in the afternoon with Sir Thorn; that she would escape from him, and meet me. I am deeply wounded by this want of confidence, and I do not think I can endure it any longer. She was flushed with excitement and the rapid ride; her eyes shone with courage and passion; her lips trembled; and then she said again,-- “‘I know I am ruining myself; and you yourself--you will probably despise me. that is an experience which alone is worth a man’s whole life. “But I had discovered a way out of the difficulty, and said to her,-- “‘Sarah, go home. Write to me what you have just told me, and I am sure I shall compel your friends to grant me your hand.’ “This she did. 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. 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. “No, but you think so; and that is worse. Well, come; I think I can convince you of your mistake.

What do you think Miss Brandon would gain by marrying me? 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.

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. Next you may tell me that Miss Brandon takes me because she can do no better. Mistaken again, my friend. At this very moment she is called upon to choose between me and a much younger man than I am, whose fortune, moreover, is larger than mine,--Mr. Wilkie Gordon.” How did it come about that Count Ville-Handry seemed to appeal to Daniel, and to plead his cause before him? Daniel did not even think of asking himself that question; his mind was in a state of utter confusion. Still, as the count insisted on having his opinion, as he urged him, and repeatedly asked, “Well, do you see any other objection?” he forgot at last his friend’s prudent warning, and said in a troubled voice,-- “No doubt, count, you know Miss Brandon’s family?” “Certainly! 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. de Brevan was listening.

Before consenting to be mine, she insisted upon my knowing every thing, yes, every thing, without reserve or boastfulness; and I know what she has suffered. 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. His eye brightened up; his voice became strong, and his gestures animated.

Brian insisted upon certain conditions before they consented to our marriage. One is, that Miss Brandon is to be received by my relations as she deserves to be, not only respectfully, but affectionately, even tenderly. As to relations, there is not any. But I have a daughter; and there is the danger. 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. She is her mother over again, weak, but obstinate beyond endurance.

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. Now the question is, whether I have sufficient influence over Henrietta to bring her to reason. But this influence which I have not--a very nice young man may have it; and that man is you.” Daniel had turned red. 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. But now I make this condition: if my daughter is to Miss Brandon what she ought to be to her, a tender and devoted sister, then, six months after my wedding, there shall be another wedding at my house.” Daniel was about to speak; but he stopped him, saying,-- “No, not a word!

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! Miss Brandon has asked me to present you to her to-night. He had forgotten his very presence. 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! But do not blame me for my indiscretion.

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. “It is all you can do.” “Yes, it is what prudence would advise me to do. 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. You thought so yesterday, and even this morning, not two hours ago.” Maxime could scarcely hide his impatience. Daniel had risen, and was walking up and down the small room, replying to his own objections, rather than to those raised by Brevan. 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. He ground his teeth with anger, and said,-- “Not yet, my friend, not yet! An honest man who defends his honor and his life is pretty strong.

I have no experience, that is true; but I have you, Maxime; and I know I can always count upon you.” Daniel did not seem to have noticed that M. 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. I shall call upon Miss Brandon, and watch her.

I shall dissemble, and gain time. I shall try to interest some high personage in my behalf,--my minister, for instance, who is very kind to me.

Besides, I have an idea.” “Ah!” “That unlucky cashier, whose story you told me, and who, you think, is not dead--if we could find him. 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. She is quite aware that, three months after the wedding, he would decamp, and in less than a year she would be divorced. Then there is another thing: Wilkie is only twenty-five years old; and you know a fellow at that age is likely to live a good deal longer than a lover who is beyond the sixties.” The way in which he said this lent to his words a terrible significance; and Daniel, turning pale, stammered out,-- “Great God! Do you think Miss Brandon could”-- “Could do anything, most assuredly,--except, perhaps, get into trouble with the police. 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. His embarrassment, just now unmistakable, had entirely disappeared, as if he had come to a final decision after long hesitation. 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.

“How he hates her!” said Daniel to himself when he was alone,--“how he hates her!” But this very hatred, which had already troubled him the night before, now disturbed him more and more, and kept him from coming to any decision. 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.

She might catch by vile tricks a foolish old man, and make him marry her, openly and avowedly selling her beauty and her youth. This also happens, however horrible it may appear. 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. “Ah, I am losing my senses!” he exclaimed, rising suddenly. “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. It had been sufficient for her to look at Daniel’s sad face to feel that a great misfortune had befallen her.

“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.

Now, listen to me; and then you can decide.” Faithful to his promise, he thereupon told her every thing he had learned from Maxime and the count, suppressing only those details which would have made the poor girl blush, and also that terrible charge which he was unwilling to believe. I should sit still and smile when such dishonor and such ruin are coming to a house over which my mother has presided! No; far be it from me ever to be so selfish! I shall oppose Miss Brandon’s plans with all my strength and all my energy.” “She may triumph, after all.” “She shall not triumph over my resistance and my contempt. And, if my father persists, I shall ask him, the day before his wedding, to allow me to bury myself in a convent.” “He will not let you go.” “Then I shall shut myself up in my room, and never leave it again. I do not think they will drag me out by force.” There was no mistaking it; she spoke with an earnestness and a determination which nothing could shake or break. He said,-- “But Miss Brandon will certainly not come alone to this house.” “Whom will she bring with her?” “Her relatives, M. 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? eyes away from him to avoid his looks, she said,-- “Since they force us to do so, I must needs do a thing a girl, properly speaking, ought not to do. 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.

There was a question which constantly rose to his lips, and which still he did not dare to utter. 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! 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. But, after all, it is your business, my dear Daniel. And, if you want any additional motive, I will tell you that my daughter is very rich. But Count Ville-Handry had already turned upon his heels; and the butler came to announce that dinner was on the table. It was promptly despatched; for the count seemed to be sitting on needles, and every minute looked at his watch. Miss Brandon expects us.” Daniel was instantly ready. 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! Miss Brandon!

The servants knew very well what the count meant when he said, “Drive fast!” The coachman, on such occasions, made his horses literally go as fast as they could; and, but for his great skill, the foot-passengers would have been in considerable danger. 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. To be sure, Daniel did not even listen. 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 like the wrestler, who, before making a decisive assault, gathers up all his strength, he summoned to his aid his composure and his energy. It took them not more than ten minutes to drive the whole distance to Circus Street.

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. 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. It is true, that from the street, you could see neither the garden, nor the stables and the carriage-houses. When they reached the upper landing, the count stopped, as if his breath had been giving out of a sudden. The count only wished to say that “there” was the place where he had held Miss Brandon in his arms the day she had fainted. 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. Elgin.” “Very well,” said the count, speaking in a tone which showed that he considered himself perfectly at home in Miss Brandon’s house. Except these, there was no ornament visible, not a painting, nor a statuette. 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. But, before he could draw his conclusions from this strange discovery, M. He was in evening costume, looking taller and stiffer than ever in his white cravat; and, as he came forward, he halted a little on one foot, though leaning upon a big cane.

“What, my dear Sir Thorn!” exclaimed the count, “your leg still gives you trouble?” “Oh, a great deal!” replied the honorable gentleman, with a very marked English accent,--“a great deal since this morning. The doctor thinks there must be something the matter with the bone.” At the same time, obeying the tendency which we all have to display our ailments, he slightly drew up his trousers, so that the bandages became visible which he wore around his leg. He made it twice, and then said, caressing his primly-cut whiskers,-- “They have told Miss Sarah that you are here, my dear count; and I heard her tell Mrs. There, his brow pressed against the cool window-panes, he was meditating. He could not understand this wound of M.

“Is it possible that his fall was an intentional fall?” he thought, “or did he really break his leg? 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 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. He was unwilling to believe it, when she suddenly raised her head in order to speak to the coachman, and the light from the lamps fell full upon her face. There was no doubt now on his mind. It was Miss Brandon. He heard distinctly the heavy door close behind her.

At the opera, the night before, a single word uttered by Miss Brandon had sufficed to enlighten Daniel. But now this was a very different matter. 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. This incident threw a flood of light on the cunning policy pursued in this house, and on the clever and active complicity of M.

This simple elegance could not but banish all doubts; and this horrible portrait of the so-called Gen. “His leg is no more broken than mine,” he thought. 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.

“And to-night,” said Daniel to himself, “the performance, no doubt, is to be specially artistic, as they expected me.” Still, like a duellist, who tries to regain all his strength after a sleepless night, Daniel was now fully prepared for the battle. He even returned to the fireplace, for fear that his standing alone, and his preoccupation, might betray his thoughts.

Elgin had in the meantime become very familiar; and the count was just detailing all his arrangements for the approaching wedding. He would live, he said, with his wife in the second story of his palace. Brian; for he knew very well that his adored Sarah would never consent to part with her dear relatives, who had been father and mother to her. The last words remained in his throat; he stood as if he were petrified, his eyes starting from their sockets, his mouth wide open. Brian had entered the room, followed by Miss Brandon. 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. “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. And to this crowd Count Ville-Handry displayed his good-fortune. 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. Gracefully reclining in an easy-chair near the fireplace, Miss Sarah looked a young queen surrounded by her court. 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.

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. Then Miss Brandon arose, and, coming up to Daniel, said to him,-- “Will you grant me ten minutes’ conversation, sir?” He prepared to follow her, when Mrs. Daniel knew enough English to understand that she said,-- “What you are doing is highly improper, Sarah.” “Shocking!” added M. But she shrugged her shoulders slightly, and replied in English,-- “My dear count alone would have a right to judge my conduct; and he has authorized me to do what I am doing.” Then turning to Daniel, she said to him in French,-- “Come with me, sir.” IX. Miss Sarah led Daniel to a small boudoir adjoining her own room. Nothing could be fresher and more coquettish than this little room, which looked almost like a greenhouse, so completely was it filled with rare and fragrant flowers, while the door and window-frames were overgrown with luxuriant creepers. Brian, this charming boudoir represented Miss Brandon’s own exquisite taste. “I am told that my dear count has been to see you this afternoon,” she continued, “and you have heard that in less than a month I shall be the Countess Ville-Handry?” Daniel was surprised. “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.

Have they not promised you Miss Ville-Handry’s hand?” “The count has permitted me to hope”-- “He has pledged his word, sir, under certain conditions. 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. For the first time in his life he said a falsehood; and, turning crimson all over, he stammered out,-- “I see no objection.” “Really?” “Really.” She shook her head, and then said very slowly,-- “If that is so, you will not refuse me a great favor. Carried away by her grief at seeing her father marry again, Miss Ville-Handry hates me. Will you promise me to use your influence in trying to persuade her to change her disposition towards me?” Never had honest Daniel Champcey been tried so hard. 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. Will you give me that promise?” Could he do so? The situation was so exceptional, Daniel had at all cost to lull the enemy into security for a time, and for a moment he was inclined to pledge his honor.

But his lips refused to utter a false oath. “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!

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. 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. When people are called upon to admire a noble deed, they refuse to believe, they insist upon inquiring before they admire, they examine carefully.

But, if they are told something bad, they dispense with that ceremony; however monstrous the thing may appear, however improbable it may sound, they believe it instantly. They would not touch a child; but they do not hesitate to repeat a slander which dishonors a woman, and kills her as surely as a dagger. If I were a man, and had been told that Miss Brandon was an adventuress, I would have been bent upon ascertaining the matter. America is not so far off. Brian, and Miss Brandon produce more than many a principality.” Daniel was amazed at the candor and the boldness with which this young girl approached the terrible subject.

I was not twenty years old when I came to Paris, after my poor father’s death. They tell us at home, all the time, that it is our first duty to be truthful. In France, young girls are taught that hypocrisy is their first duty. We are taught not to blush, except when we have done wrong; they are taught all the appearances of false prudishness. And after I had been here a year, they said that Malgat, that wretch”-- She jumped up as she said this, ran up to Daniel, and, seizing him by the hands, she said,-- “Malgat! Don’t you see that your hesitation is an insult?” “Well--yes.” As if in utter despair, she raised her hands to heaven, calling God, as it were, to witness, and asking for inspiration from on high. Daniel, moved to the bottom of his heart, remained standing where he was, immovable, like a statue.

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. 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. She then continued, in feverish haste,-- “M. Malgat was the cashier and confidential clerk of the Mutual Discount Society, a large and powerful company. He found him an exceedingly obliging man, and, to show his appreciation, invited him to dine here. He was a man of about forty, of medium height, ordinary looking, very polite, but not refined in his manners. The first time I looked at his light yellow eyes, I felt disgusted and frightened. I read in his face an expression of base vice. Elgin how sure I was this man would turn out a bad man, and that he ought not to trust him in money-matters.” Daniel listened with breathless attention.

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. Elgin,” continued Miss Brandon, “only laughed at my presentiments; and even Mrs. Brian, I remember distinctly, scolded me, saying it was very wrong to judge a man by his appearance, and that there were very honest men in the world who had yellow eyes. Elgin did not know Paris, and had money to invest, he advised him what to do.

When we had drafts upon the Mutual Discount Society, he always saved M. Elgin took it into his head to try some small speculations on ‘change, M. 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. “That is strange,” said Daniel. Miss Sarah shook her head. This letter, however, will tell you more. Read it, sir, and read it aloud.” Daniel took the letter, and read,-- “‘Paris, Dec. Dear Sir,--It is to you alone, the most honorable among men, that I can make the terrible confession that I have committed a crime.

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. Elgin had written in his angular handwriting,-- “Answered immediately. ten thousand dollars, to be drawn from funds deposited with the Mutual Discount Society. 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! It was not long before he appeared here, his false face bathed in tears. I can find no words to convey to you the exaggerated expressions of his gratitude. He spoke of nothing but of his devotion unto death. It is true M. Elgin carried his generosity to an extreme.

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. Champcey, how Malgat repaid all this kindness?

Read this note; it will restore me in your esteem, I trust.” It was another letter written by Malgat to M. 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. The scamp!” Daniel could not have uttered a word to save his life; he was too fearfully excited.

Miss Brandon continued,-- “We were dining alone that day; and M. Elgin was so indignant, that he forgot his usual reserve, and told us everything.

Seeing, however, how excited I was, he tried to reassure me by telling me that Malgat would certainly not come, that he would not dare to expect an answer to such a letter.” She pressed both her hands on her heart, as if to still its beating; and then continued, in a weak voice,-- “Nevertheless, he came, and, seeing his hopes disappointed, he insisted upon speaking to us. Feeling that all was lost, this thief, this defaulter, had become enraged; he demanded money. At first he asked for it on his knees in humble words; but, when he found that this did not answer, he suddenly rose in a perfect fury, his mouth foaming, his eyes bloodshot, and overwhelmed us with the coarsest insults.

They had to employ force to drag him out; and, as they pushed him down stairs, he threatened us with his fist, and swore that he would be avenged.” Miss Brandon shuddered till she appeared to be all in a quiver; and, for a moment, Daniel thought she was going to be ill. 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. “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. They exaggerated the sums he had stolen; and they said he had succeeded in escaping to England, and that the police had lost his traces in London.

“He had really fled; but, before leaving Paris, he had succeeded in preparing everything for the vengeance which he had threatened. Where could he have found people mean enough to serve his purposes?

“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. “Yes, that is what they said, at first in a whisper and most cautiously, then louder, and finally openly, and before all the world. 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.

I was ordered to appear before a magistrate. 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. Elgin returned, pale, exhausted, and distressed. He had found no one willing even to listen to him; everybody telling him that he was much too good to give a thought to such infamous reports; that they were too absurd to be believed.” She nearly gave way, sobs intercepting her words; but she mastered her emotion, and continued,-- “The next day I went to the court-house; and, after being kept waiting for a long time in a dark passage, I was brought before the magistrate. 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 felt as if all his senses were in an uproar and in utter confusion. “Sir!” begged Miss Brandon again. 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. “Great God!” exclaimed Miss Brandon, with grieved surprise; “he still doubts me.

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. And, if that is not enough for you, go to the magistrate who examined me; his name is Patrigent.” And she waited, waited, but not a word came forth. Daniel had sunk, undone, into a chair; and his elbow resting on a small stand, his brow in his hands, he endeavored to think, to reason. 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.

“This is the first time in my life,” she said, trembling with rage, “that I condescend to justify myself against such infamous charges; and you abuse my patience by heaping insult after insult upon me. 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. Rene de Kergrist, came and held M. Charles de Kergrist, it appears, killed himself after a supper, which he left in a state of drunkenness.

He committed suicide because he had lost his fortune at Homburg and at Baden; because he had exhausted his last resources; because his family, ashamed at his disgrace, refused to acknowledge him any longer.

And, if he chose my window for his self-murder, it was because he wanted to satisfy a petty grievance. Looking upon me as an heiress, whose fortune would enable him to continue his extravagant life, he had courted me, and been refused by M. But I know a man who can give you what you want, and that man is M. de Kergrist’s brother; for, after those explanations, he has continued to be our friend, sir, one of our best friends. de Kergrist lives here in Paris; and M. Elgin will give you his address.” She looked at Daniel with a glance in which pity and contempt were strangely mixed, and then added, in her proudest tone,-- “And now, sir, since I have deigned to stand here like a criminal, do you sit in judgment on me. 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! now I am sure you will grant me Miss Henrietta’s friendship.” Why did she mention that name?

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. He replied,-- “I do not understand, Miss Brandon, how you can marry Count Ville- Handry.” “Why not?” “You are young. 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. This confession seemed to him the height of imprudence. Still I shall be most happy to become his wife. Do not expect me to explain to you what is going on within me. I can give no precise name to that feeling of sympathy which attracts me towards him. I have been captivated by his wit and his kindness; his words have an indescribable charm for me.

That is all I can tell you.” Daniel could not believe his ears. “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. I dare say I am; but I see nothing mean or disgraceful in my hopes.” Daniel had thought he had confounded her, and it was she who crushed him by her bold frankness; for there was nothing to say, no reasonable objection to make. Miss Brandon, however, was not a woman to be easily overcome.

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.

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.

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. 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. “Yes,” began at last Miss Brandon once more, “my fate is sealed. And once more, sir, I beseech you induce Miss Henrietta to receive me like an elder sister.

if I were the woman you think I am, what would I care for Miss Henrietta and her enmity? Here I am.” And really, as she said this, she sank down so suddenly, that her knees struck the floor with a noise; and, seizing Daniel’s hands, she pressed them upon her burning brow.

He trembled from head to foot; and, bending over Miss Brandon, he raised her, and held her, half lifeless, while her head rested on his shoulder. “Miss Sarah,” he said in a hoarse, low voice. They were so near to each other, that their breaths mingled, and Daniel felt Miss Brandon’s sobs on his heart, burning him like fiery flames.

Then, half drunk with excitement, forgetting every thing, he pressed his lips upon the lips of this strange girl. Daniel rushed in feverish haste, like an escaped convict, headlong on, without aim or purpose, solely bent upon escaping. But, when he had gone some distance, the motion, the cold night-air, and the keen wind playing in his hair, restored him to consciousness. Then he became aware that he was still in evening costume, bareheaded, and that he had left his hat and his overcoat in Miss Brandon’s house. There might have been a way to escape from that hell; and he himself, in his madness, had closed it forever. 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. Her voice had made him forget every thing, every thing--even his dear and beloved Henrietta, his sole thought for so many years. “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. What boldness this strange girl had displayed in her defence! 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. Could she have told Daniel more pointedly than she had actually done, “He whom I could love is none other but you”? 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. “But what is that to me?” he repeated.

“Can I love her, I?” Then he began again to revolve in his mind what might have happened after his flight from the house. How had Miss Brandon explained his escape? 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. A man came and leaned his face against the window, then suddenly he drew back; and Daniel distinctly recognized Count Ville-Handry. Did it not imply that Miss Brandon had been taken suddenly ill, and that people were anxious about her? 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. “She has deceived me!” he exclaimed, grinding his teeth in his rage; “she has treated me like an imbecile, like an idiot!” Then, suddenly conceiving a strange plan, he added,-- “I must know where she is going at four o’clock in the morning.

I will follow her.” Unfortunately, Miss Brandon’s coachman had, no doubt, received special orders; for he drove down the avenue as fast as the horse could go, and the animal was a famous trotter, carefully chosen by Sir Thorn, who understood horse-flesh better than any one else in Paris. His elbows close to the body, managing his breath, and steadily measuring his steps, he succeeded in not only following the coupe, but in actually gaining ground. When Miss Brandon reached Concord Square, he was only a few yards behind the carriage. Daniel felt his breath giving out, and a shooting pain, first trifling, but gradually increasing, in his side.

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. He had not closed an eye for forty-eight hours; and, if the heart seems to be able to suffer almost indefinitely, our physical strength is strictly limited. 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. It was bright day when Daniel awoke, chilled and stiffened; for he had not changed his clothes when he came home, and his fire had gone out. His first impulse was one of wrath against himself. he succumbed so easily?--he, the sailor, who remembered very well having remained more than once for forty, and even once for sixty hours on deck, when his vessel was threatened by a hurricane?

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? he knew not that the direst fatigue is trifling in comparison with that deep moral excitement which shakes the human system to its most mysterious depths. 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. But he had taken nothing, and, even if he had, was the foolish act less real for that? He was thus busy trying to analyze the future, when his servant entered, as he did every morning, bringing his hat and overcoat on his arm. He handed me at the same time this letter, and is waiting for an answer.” Daniel took the letter, and for a minute or more examined the direction. At last he tore the envelope; and at once a penetrating but delicate perfume arose, which he had inhaled, he knew but too well, in Miss Brandon’s rooms.

She wrote,-- “Is it really so, O Daniel! Do you still remember your promises?” Daniel was petrified. 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. Having been caught already in the very first trap she had prepared for his inexperience, was he to risk falling into a second? He tore the letter he had commenced into small pieces, and, turning to his servant, said,-- “Tell the man that I am out; and make haste and get me a carriage!” Then, when he was once more alone, he murmured,-- “Yes, it is better so. It is much better to leave Miss Brandon in uncertainty. She cannot even suspect that her driving out this morning has enlightened me. 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?

“I must consult Brevan.” On his writing-table he found that important and urgent work which the minister had intrusted to his hands still unfinished. But the minister, the department, his position, his preferment,--all these considerations weighed as nothing in comparison with his passion. He went down, therefore; and, while his carriage drove to his friend’s house, he thought of the surprise he would cause Maxime. de Brevan standing in his shirt- sleeves before an immense marble table, covered all over with pots and bottles, with brushes, combs, and sponges, with pincers, polishers, and files, making his toilet. If he expected Daniel, he had not expected him so soon; for his features assumed an expression which seemed to prohibit all confidential talk. He shook hands with his friend, and, sinking heavily into a chair, he said,-- “I went to Miss Brandon. She has made me promise all she wanted.

Then, without hesitation, and with all the minutest details, Daniel told him how Miss Brandon had taken him into her little boudoir, and how she had exculpated herself from all complicity with Malgat by showing him the letters written by that wretched man.

de Brevan shrugged his shoulders. “You were forewarned,” he said, “and you have promised all she wanted! Do you not think she might have made you sign your own death-sentence?” “But Kergrist?” said Daniel. “Kergrist’s brother is her friend.” “I dare say.

But do you imagine that brother is any cleverer than you are?” Although he was by no means fully satisfied, Daniel went on, describing his amazement when Miss Brandon told him that she did not love Count Ville-Handry. She has thrown herself at your feet; you have raised her up; she has fainted; she has sobbed like a distressed dove in your arms; you have lost your head.” Daniel was overcome. 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. Did I not tell you I knew Miss Brandon? 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. It was four o’clock in the morning, mind!” “Is it possible? de Brevan nearly let the brush fall, with which he was polishing his finger-nails; but he mastered his confusion so promptly, that Daniel did not perceive it.

you followed her,” he said in a voice which all his efforts could not steady entirely. de Brevan was breathing more freely, and said in an easy tone,-- “That is provoking, and you have lost a fine opportunity. I am, however, by no means astonished that you are at last enlightened.” “Oh! 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. de Brevan’s face no longer expressed astonishment; he looked absolutely bewildered. have you not yet been able to divine Miss Brandon’s plan? And yet it is patent enough. 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. Nevertheless, he was not quite satisfied. Believe me, Maxime, there is something else underneath.

Outside of this marriage, Miss Brandon must be pursuing some other plan.” “What plan?” “Ah!

That is what I cannot find out, to save my life. But you may be sure that I am not mistaken. I want no better evidence of it than the fact that she wrote to me this morning.” M. She has written to you?” “Yes; it is that accursed letter, more than any thing else, that brings me here. Here it is, just read it; and, if you can understand it, you are more fortunate than I am.” At one glance M. de Brevan had read the five lines which Miss Brandon had written; and, turning deadly pale, he said,-- “This is incomprehensible.

A note, and such an indiscreet note, from her who never writes!” He looked upon Daniel as if he wished to penetrate his innermost thoughts, and then asked him, weighing his words with the utmost care,-- “If she should really love you, what would you say?” Daniel looked disgusted. He replied,--“It is hardly generous in you to make sport of me, Maxime. I may be a fool; but I am not an idiot, to be conceited to that degree.” “That is no answer to my question,” said Brevan; “and I repeat my question.

if you hate her so bitterly, you are very near loving her.” “I despise her; and without esteem”-- “That is an old story. 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 at last finished his careful toilet. He nodded, and said,-- “You have done well, and for the future I advise you to pursue the same plan. Can you do any thing to prevent Miss Brandon from carrying out her purposes?

Let her go on, then.” “But”-- “Let me finish. It is not only your own interest to act thus, but also Miss Henrietta’s interest. 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. Brevan continued,-- “For the present, the most important thing is to find out how your flight has been explained. And, after having affectionately shaken hands with Maxime, he hurried down to his carriage and drove as fast as he could to Count Ville- Handry’s palace. It was nearly noon; and he had not yet been in the hands of his valet. When he saw Daniel, he paused for a moment, and, crossing his arms on his breast, he said, in a terrible tone,-- “Ah! Who else has overwhelmed poor Miss Sarah with insults at the very time when she was trying to explain every thing to you? Who else, ashamed of his scandalous conduct, has run away, never daring to reappear at her house?” What had the count been told? Miss Brandon has been seized with such a terrible nervous attack, that they had to send the carriage for a doctor.

It was only after eight o’clock this morning that she could get any rest; and then Mrs. 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. Brian, and hardly able to understand the count’s astonishing credulity. He thought to himself,-- “This is abominable! 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?

Should he tell him, that, while he was dying with anxiety, his beloved was driving about Paris, Heaven knows where and with whom. And thus he would only add new difficulties to his position, which was already complicated enough. Finally, he saw very, clearly that he would never dare tell the whole truth, or show that letter which he had in his pocket. 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. “I assure you, count”-- But the count interrupted him fiercely, stamping with his foot.

I mean to make an end to this absurd opposition, and to break it forever. I shall make you aware who is master.” He checked himself for an instant, and then continued,-- “Ah, M. But it is the last; and this very morning, as soon as she wakes, she shall know that all is ended. I have just sent for my daughter to tell her that the day for the wedding is fixed. “You wish to speak to me, papa?” she said as she entered the room. “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. The count went on,-- “Under these circumstances, it is not proper, it is hardly decent, that you should not know her who is to be your mother hereafter. I shall therefore present you to her this very day, in the afternoon.” The young girl shook her head gently, and then she said,-- “No!” Count Ville-Handry had become very red.

What would you say if I threatened to carry you forcibly to Miss Brandon’s house?” “I, should say, father, that that is the only way to make me go there.” Her attitude was firm, though not defiant. The count seemed to be perfectly amazed at this audacity shown by a girl who was usually so timid. He said,-- “Then you detest, you envy, this Miss Brandon?” “I, father? I only know that she cannot become the Countess Ville-Handry,--she who has filled all Paris with evil reports.” “Who has told you so? Champcey.” “Everybody has told me, father.” “So, because she has been slandered, the poor girl”-- “I am willing to think she is innocent; but the Countess Ville-Handry must not be a slandered woman.” She raised herself to her full height, and added in a higher voice,-- “You are master here, father; you can do as you choose. The blood rose to his head.

I was not mistaken. Daniel Champcey to Miss Brandon, to insult her at her own house.” “Sir!” interrupted M. But the count could not be restrained; and, with his eyes almost starting from their sockets, he continued,-- “Yes, I read your innermost heart, Henrietta. 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. Then she had not dared answer him; but now, carried away by her bitterness at being insulted by a woman whom she despised, she forgot every thing. 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! Presently, at four o’clock precisely, I shall call for you. If I find you dressed, and ready to accompany me to Miss Brandon’s house, all right. Champcey has been here for the last time in his life; and you will never--do you hear?--never be his wife.

“All is over!” Both Henrietta and Daniel were crushed by this certain conviction. The crisis could no longer be postponed. A few hours more, and the mischief would be done. 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. Ah, you have been very imprudent, Daniel!” The unhappy man wrung his hands with despair. What punishment he had to endure for a moment’s forgetfulness! Brian while Miss Brandon was driving about Paris. 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.

He said nothing; and Henrietta gloried in his silence. “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. We have done enough; we have done our duty.” All trembling with passion, he spoke on for some time, bringing up the most conclusive arguments, one by one; while his love lent him all its persuasive power. 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. Since this abominable adventuress must triumph, let us flee. 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. The more formidable Miss Brandon is, the more it becomes my duty to remain here in order to watch over my father.” Daniel trembled.

de Brevan had told him of the means employed by Miss Brandon for the purpose of getting rid of troublesome people. “You will understand my decision all the better,” she continued, “if I tell you what a strange discovery I have made.

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. “I promised to do so; but, as I was carrying the paper up stairs to put it upon my father’s bureau, I happened to look at it. Is it possible?” “Most assuredly, unfortunately. 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. 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.

If God wills it so, I will be that child.” Daniel tried once more to insist; but she cut him short, saying,-- “You forget, my dear friend, that this is, perhaps for many years, the last time we shall ever be alone together. Her name is Clarissa Pontois. 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. “My decision remains unchanged, father.” The count was probably prepared for this answer; for he succeeded in controlling his fury. Do not decide rashly, relying simply upon odious slanders.” He drew from his pocket a photograph, looked at it lovingly, and, handing it to his daughter, he added,-- “Here is Miss Brandon’s portrait. Look at it, and see if she to whom God has given such a charming face, such sublime eyes, can have a bad heart.” For more than a minute Henrietta examined the likeness; and then, returning it to her father, she said coldly,-- “This woman is beautiful beyond all conception. 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!

You dare insult an angel?” Maddened with rage, he had lifted up his hand, and was about to strike his daughter, when Daniel seized his wrist in his iron grasp, and threateningly, as if he himself was about to strike, he said,-- “Ah, sir, have a care! 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. Champcey, I order you to leave this house instantly; and I forbid your ever coming back to it again. 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.

Twenty-four hours after Daniel had thus left Count Ville-Handry’s palace, pale and staggering, he had not yet entirely recovered from this last blow. 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 could hardly account to himself for the way in which this had come about. Nay, more; retracing step by step, his conduct during the last few days, it appeared to him pitiful, absurd. He accused Fate, that blind goddess, who is always blamed by those who have not the courage to blame themselves. He was in this state of mind when there came to him, to his great surprise, a letter from Henrietta. is courage. I shall have all that is needed,” exclaimed Daniel, moved to tears. And he vowed to himself that he would devote himself, heart and soul, to his work, and there find, if not forgetfulness, at least peace. In spite of all his efforts, he could not fix his thoughts upon any thing else but his misfortunes.

The studies which he had formerly pursued with delight now filled him with disgust. 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. As soon as he had risen, he hurried to M. de Brevan, and remained in his company as long as he could. 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. There, behind those heavy, beautifully carved gates, which were open to all comers but to him, lived she who was more to him than his life.

If he had struck the flagstones of the sidewalk with the heel of his boots, she would have heard the sound. It seemed to him atrocious, humiliating, intolerable, to be thus reduced to expecting good or evil fortune from fate, passively, without making an effort, like a man, who having taken a ticket in a lottery, and is all anxiety to obtain a large fortune, crosses his arms and waits for the drawing. 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. “Miss Brandon!” he exclaimed. 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. You have allowed yourself to be carried away so far as to threaten him, to raise your hand against him.” “He was going to strike his daughter, and I held his arm.” “No, sir! 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. I should induce the count to engage in an enterprise where money might be lost! 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. “I will believe whatever you wish to say,” he answered in a mocking tone, “if you will answer me a single question.” “Ask, sir.” “The other night, when I had left you, where did you go in your carriage?” He expected to see her confused, turning pale, stammer. If some fool should see me leave your rooms?” “Pardon me, Miss Brandon, that is no answer to my question. Where did you go?” And as she kept silent, surprised by Daniel’s firmness, he said sneeringly,-- “Then you confess that it would be madness to believe you? 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.

But he immediately applied his eye to the keyhole, and saw Miss Brandon, her features convulsed with rage, threaten him with her closed hand, and leave the room hastily.

And the idea that he had avoided it made him, for a part of that day at least, forget his sorrow. 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. 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. But this was not enough for the accursed adventuress. 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. “Oh, no!” he cried in his anguish, “a thousand times no!

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. 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.

It is short. 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. Ah, come, you are mad!” Daniel shook his head sadly. “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. ‘The Conquest’ does not sail on a pleasure-party; she is sent out on a serious campaign, and will probably be absent for some time. “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. What time is it?

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. “I have handed in my resignation.” And, leaving his two friends looking utterly amazed, he went away at a rapid pace. Certainly, he had not foreseen all these difficulties; and in his blind wrath he charged his chief with injustice and tyranny. He said,-- “I must stay in Paris; and I will stay.” Reflection, far from calming him, only excited him the more. 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?

We were much interested, I assure you.” The lieutenant seemed to hesitate, as if he were making up his mind to do a disagreeable thing, which still did not depend on his choice; and then he resumed his account,-- “Well, we got there, convinced that we had taken all the necessary precautions, and that there was, consequently, nothing to fear,--fine precautions they turned out to be! 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. The like was never seen before.” Daniel turned to his neighbor. “Who is that officer?” he asked. That is a campaign! 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. Somebody must go, you know, and carry reinforcements there; but I should not care if somebody else”-- He shrugged his shoulders, and said stoically,-- “And besides, since we navy men must be eaten by the fish some time or other, it does not matter very much when that takes place.” Was not that, in a trivial, but terribly impressive manner, precisely the same thing that Daniel had been told by his captain? It was very evident that the officers who were there assembled doubted his courage, and were discussing the fact when he entered. It was clear that they attributed his resignation to fear. At this idea, that he might be suspected of cowardice, Daniel trembled all over.

But it was quite enough to prove to Daniel that he had chosen the only way to save his honor, which had been in imminent peril. 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?

If Miss Brandon had really procured this order to active service, was it not likely that she would have taken her measures, so that he could not possibly avoid going?

Dutac to go on in his story had disappeared. The minister is very angry with you.” “The minister? And why?” “Primo, he had charged you with a very important duty.” “To be sure,” stammered Daniel, hanging his head; “but I have been so severely suffering!” The fact is, he had totally forgotten that unlucky work.

“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! I wish I could see it too! 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. But the handwriting was so precisely like his own, letter for letter, and even his signature was so admirably imitated, that he felt for a moment utterly bewildered, mistrusting, for a second, his own eyes, his own reason. 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. 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?

Ought he to mention his discovery?

Where would they find an expert ready to swear that this letter was not written by him, when he himself, if each line had been presented to him separately, would have felt bound to acknowledge it as his own? Was it not far more probable, on the contrary, that, after what he had done in the morning, they would have ascribed his charges to a mistake, or seen in them a weak invention in order to cover his retreat? Therefore it was a thousand times better to keep silence, to be resigned to postpone to another day every attempt to avenge himself in a manner corresponding to the injury he had suffered, and all the more effectively, as his vengeance would have been carefully matured. 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. He asked, therefore, for leave to copy it, obtained permission, went to work, and succeeded, without being seen by anybody, in substituting his copy for the original. When this was done, knowing that he had not a minute to lose, he instantly left the department, and, jumping into a carriage, drove to M. Like all energetic natures, Daniel felt a wonderful relief as soon as he had formed an irrevocable decision. He would even have enjoyed the peace that had once more returned to his mind, but for the savage hatred which had accumulated in his heart, and which confused his thoughts whenever he remembered Miss Brandon. 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. It may be my last will which I am going to give in your charge.” And, when his friend tried to remonstrate, he insisted,-- “I know what I am saying.

I am sure I hope I shall not be buried out there; but the climate is murderous, and I may encounter a cannon-ball. It is always better to be prepared.” He paused a moment to collect his thoughts; and then he went on. “You alone, in this world, Maxime, know all my private affairs. Now I want a reliable, safe, and experienced man, possessed of prudence and energy, and sure not to leave Paris. de Brevan, who had remained in his chair, rose, and, putting his hand on his heart, said,-- “Between us, Daniel, oaths are useless; don’t you think so? 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. de Brevan was about to state some objections; but Daniel cut him short, saying,-- “I will tell you how and in what manner you can watch over Miss Ville-Handry. To-morrow evening I shall see her, and tell her the new misfortune which has befallen us. I know she will be terrified; but then, to reassure her, I shall explain to her that I leave her a friend, another myself, ready, like myself, to assist her at her first summons, and ready, like myself, to run any danger in order to succor her. “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. I rely upon your experience to do what is most expedient. It may be that her father’s house becomes impossible for Henrietta, and that she should wish to leave it. It may also be, that, under certain circumstances, you may think it inexpedient for her to remain there, and that you have to advise her to escape.

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. Pressing his friend’s hand heartily, he thanked him, and then with a careless air, under which he very imperfectly concealed his real embarrassment, he said,-- “There remains only to provide the means for carrying out these measures, and for possible contingencies. You are not rich, my dear Maxime, I mean rich in comparison with the people who are your friends; you have told me so more than once.” He touched a wound which was always open, and always bleeding. 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! I also own property in Anjou which is valued at fifty or sixty thousand dollars, and I mean to sell it.” The other man opened his eyes wide. 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. And, if ever Miss Henrietta should be compelled to leave her father’s house, you will hand the money over to her.” M.

Money questions are so delicate!” But Daniel said, shrugging his shoulders,-- “I do not understand why you should hesitate to undertake so simple a thing, when you have already consented to render me so signal and so difficult a service.” So simple! 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. That is an enormous sum.” “Oh, yes!” replied Daniel in the most careless manner. My carriage is waiting. The notary expects us between three and four o’clock.” This notary was an exceptional man. He took an interest in the affairs of his clients, and sometimes even listened to hear their explanations. 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. When they were there, he said,-- “How is it, M. Champcey, do you really owe this M. de Brevan so much money?” “Not a cent.” “And you leave your entire fortune thus in his hands!

You must have marvellous confidence in the man.” “As much as in myself.” “That is a good deal. And, from the manner in which he shook his head, it was clearly seen that experience had made him very sceptical on that subject. “If you would only listen to me,” he resumed, “I could prove to you”-- But Daniel interrupted him, and said,-- “I have no desire, sir, to change my mind; but, even if I should wish to do so, I cannot retract my word. 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. 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. This was Clarissa, whom Henrietta considered the safest of her waiting-women, and whom she had taken into her confidence. “Miss Henrietta,” she said to Daniel, “has given me this key and this letter for you, sir. to resort to this dangerous expedient which we ought to reserve for the last extremity. Is what you have to tell me really so important as you say?

Tell Clarissa the precise hour at which you will be here.” Alas! “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. At his notary’s, where he went first, he found the papers ready; all the formalities had been fulfilled. What matters my fortune, if I only see my Henrietta again?” The notary looked discouraged. if there is a woman in the affair, I have nothing more to say.” It was as well. The next moment Daniel had forgotten him and his sombre presentiments. 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. He had recovered his self- possession, and laid aside his usual reserve in order to show himself all eagerness for his friend. He declared that he would see to it that his friend Daniel should not be robbed. In his opinion, it would be wiser to sell piecemeal, without hurry.

Daniel was deeply touched by the devotion of his friend, whose intense selfishness he had noticed but too often. Nor was this all. 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.

He might have to play a disagreeable part, he admitted; but he would thus be enabled to see Miss Henrietta frequently; he would hear every thing that happened, and be at hand whenever she should need advice or assistance.

de Brevan insisted upon accompanying his friend back to Count Ville-Handry’s house.

There was not a cloud in the sky, no mist nor haze; and the moon was shining so brightly, that one could have read by its light. 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. “What is it now, great God!” she said anxiously. “Clarissa said you looked so pale and undone, that I have been terribly frightened.” Daniel had come to the conclusion that the plain truth would be less cruel than the most skilful precautions. Miss Ville-Handry felt as if she had been stunned by a crushing blow. It is impossible for you to obey!” “Henrietta, my honor is at stake.” “Ah, what does it matter?” He was about to reply; but she continued in a broken voice,-- “You will certainly not go when you have heard me. You are mistaken.

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. “Ah, I have hardly courage enough for myself!” She interrupted him with a nervous laugh, and said in bitter sarcasm,-- “It would be courage to stay, to despise public opinion.” And, as any thing appeared to her preferable to such a separation, she added,-- “Listen! Let us go together to my father, and I will tell him that I have overcome my aversion to Miss Brandon. 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 you have ever loved me, if you love me now, stay!” Daniel had foreseen this heartrending scene; but he had vowed, that, if his heart should break, he would have the fortitude to resist Henrietta’s prayers and tears. “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. He knows my wishes. 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.

To remain would only have been to risk a painful explanation, insults, perhaps even a personal collision. 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. But he could only make out a few indistinct exclamations, then nothing, nothing more. 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 had they been surprised? How came it about that the count had stayed at home, instead of hurrying off immediately after dinner, as was his custom? Why should he have inquired after his daughter, he who generally took no more trouble about her than if she had not existed? By that unpleasant maid evidently, whom he had seen that morning; by that very Clarissa in whom Henrietta put such confidence. If that was so,--and it was but too probable,--to whom should he send his letters hereafter? he recognized but too clearly the execrable but most cunning policy of Miss Brandon.

“The wretch!” he swore; “the infamous woman!” Wrath, mad wrath, set his brains on fire. “There is a man there who shelters her under his responsibility,--Sir Thorn!” M. And, without considering this absurd plan, he hurried to Circus Street. Although it was barely eight o’clock, Miss Brandon’s house looked as if everybody were asleep. Elgin is absent,” replied the servant. “At what hour will he be back?” “He is not coming home to-night.” And whether he had received special instructions, or was only acting upon general orders, he added,-- “Mrs.

Brian is at the theatre; but Miss Brandon is at home.” Daniel’s wrath changed into a kind of cold fury. Should he see Miss Brandon?

“Show me to Miss Brandon’s room,” he said to the servant. 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 do not know what you mean.” He shrugged his shoulders, and continued in an icy tone,-- “Do me the honor to think that I am not altogether a fool. I have seen the letter which you have sent to the minister, signed with my name. 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!

He has done it; he has dared do it!” “Who is this he? Thomas Elgin, no doubt?” “No, not he; another man.” “Name him!” She hesitated, hung her head, and then said with a great effort,-- “I knew they wished to separate us; and, without knowing precisely what means they would employ, I suspected them. 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. You are too sensible and too practical to hate us--Miss Henrietta and myself--from gratuitous and purely platonic motives. Tell me; and, if you will promise to help us, we--Henrietta and I--pledge ourselves not to stand in your way.” Miss Brandon looked as if she could not trust her ears. “But, sir, this is a bargain, I should say, which you propose?” “Yes, indeed! 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.

Every thing is against me; every thing bears witness against me. If they say, ‘Do this!’ I must needs do it. If you were willing even now!” She became excited almost to exaltation; her eyes, moist with tears, shone with matchless splendor; passing blushes colored her face; and her voice had strange, weird vibrations. “That is no answer, Miss Brandon,” at last said Daniel. “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. Only listen to me carefully. Undeceive yourself, Miss Brandon; I shall return. And if you have touched a hair on her head, if you have made her shed a single tear, by all that is holy, it will bring ill luck to you, and ill luck to others!” He was going to leave her, when a thought struck him. “I ought to tell you, moreover,” he added, “that I leave a faithful friend behind me; and, if the count or his daughter should die very suddenly, the coroner will be informed. de Brevan’s hands a long letter for Henrietta, and after having given him his last instructions, Daniel took his seat in the train which was to take him to his new post.

Some thirty carriages, the most elegant, by all means, that Paris could boast of, were standing alongside of the Church of St. The passers-by, noticing the crowd, went up and asked,-- “What is going on?” “A wedding,” was the answer.

It is a nobleman, and an immensely rich one, who is going to be married,--Count Ville-Handry. 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. At a little distance you would have sworn that he was sixteen years old, and that he was going, not to be married, but to be confirmed.” “And how did he look?” “Restless, I think.” “He might well be,” observed a stout, elderly gentleman, who was said not to be very happily married. 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. However”-- “You certainly would not ask,” replied the duke, “that I should prove her to have been brought before a police-court, or to have escaped from the penitentiary?” And, without permitting himself to be interrupted, he went on,-- “Good society in France, they say, is very exclusive. And the number of such first-comers is prodigiously large. That is a mystery.

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. A young man with a delicate black mustache, and extremely well dressed, even turned to his neighbor, and asked,-- “Who is our friend, the preacher?” “What!

“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. “The only thing that is clear to me in this matter is, that I think I know the person whom this wedding will not please particularly.” “Whom do you mean?” “Count Ville-Handry’s daughter, a young girl, eighteen years old, and wondrously pretty. 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. It would have been surprising if it should have been otherwise. 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. People came out, and said,-- “It is all over. The old beau alone exclaimed,-- “Gentlemen, if we wish to present our respects to the newly-married couple, we must make haste.” And with these words he hurried into the church, followed by all the others, and soon reached the vestry, which was too small to hold all the guests invited by Count Ville-Handry. 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.

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? How very sorry she must be to be detained at home!” It is true, that, among these unlucky ones, there were not a few malicious ones. For the count had hardly knelt down by Miss Brandon’s side, on a velvet cushion, when a servant wearing his livery had come up, and whispered a few words in his ear.

It became soon known, thanks to the Countess Bois, who went about telling everybody with inexhaustible volubility, that she had just met Miss Ville-Handry in the street. When the last name had been signed, nobody was, therefore, surprised at seeing Count Ville-Handry give his arm to his wife, and hand her hurriedly to her carriage,--a magnificent state-carriage. He had invited some twenty people, former friends of his, to a great wedding- breakfast; but he seemed to have forgotten them. And once in his carriage, alone with Mrs. send Ernest here!” Ernest was his own valet, the clever artist to whom he was indebted for the roses of his complexion. As soon as he appeared, he asked,-- “Where is the young lady?” “Gone out.” “When?” “Immediately after you, sir.” The young countess, Mrs. Elgin, had, in the meantime, come up, and gone into the room in the lower story, where this scene took place. “Then the servant was frightened, and did what she wanted.” “He is dismissed, the fool!” exclaimed Count Ville-Handry.

Let his wages be paid. And you go on.” Without showing any embarrassment, the valet shrugged his shoulders, and continued in a lazy tone,-- “Then the hack came into the court-yard; and we saw the young lady come down in a splendid toilet, such as we have never seen her wear before,--not pretty exactly, but so conspicuous, that it must have attracted everybody’s attention. 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. It was then that I took the liberty to send you word, sir.” In all his life Count Ville-Handry had not been so furious. The veins in his neck began to swell; and his eyes became bloodshot, as if he had been threatened with a fit of apoplexy. an impudent girl whom I caught the other day in the garden with a man!” He cried out so loud, that his voice was heard in the adjoining room, where the invited guests were beginning to assemble. He disgraced his own child. 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. Henrietta is only a child; she did not know what she was doing.” Mrs. She declared,-- “The count is right.

The conduct of this young lady is perfectly shocking.” Then Sir Thorn interrupted her, saying,-- “Ah, ah! Brian, where is our bargain? Was it not understood that we would have nothing to do with the count’s private affairs?” Thus every one took up at once his assigned part. Brian advised discipline; and Sir Thorn was in favor of silent impartiality. That can hardly be!” In vain did the count try to look indifferent; in vain did the young countess display all her rare gifts. At half-past four o’clock, the last guest had escaped, and the count remained alone with his new family.

“Here is my daughter!” It was Henrietta. Because the most timid people are precisely the boldest on certain occasions. The insults which her father heaped upon her when he surprised her with Daniel had unsettled her mind completely. 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! Hence every day a new lamentable scene, as the decisive moment drew nearer. 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. The consequence was, that his threats, so far from moving Henrietta, had only served to strengthen her in her determination.

At half-past five, the count had once more come to his daughter’s room.

“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. A chambermaid, who had been attracted by the loud voice, had come, and, putting her ear to the keyhole, had heard every thing; and the same evening she told her friends how the count had struck his daughter, and that she had heard the blows. 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. Clothilda to Miss Brandon.

The poor girl had no one to whom she could confide her griefs, no one to tell her that all the disgrace would fall back upon herself.

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. “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. She smiled haughtily, and said carelessly,-- “I have been at the Bois de Boulogne. 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. Seizing his daughter by the wrists, he lifted her bodily, and, dragging her up to the Countess Sarah, he hurled out,-- “On your knees, unhappy child! “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! my patience is at an end. 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!

“Well, I am sure the count can boast that he has had a curious wedding-day.” This was the way the servants spoke at the moment when Henrietta left the reception-room. She heard it; and without knowing whether they approved her conduct, or laughed at it, she felt gratified, so eager is passion for encouragement from anywhere. She bent over the balusters to listen. The servants were rushing about; the vestibule resounded with hurried steps; and she distinguished the imperious voice of M. “At least,” she said to herself, “I shall have poisoned this woman’s joy.” And, fearing to be caught thus listening, she went up stairs.

Never mind, it seemed to her miserable cowardice to shrink from going on. Rising with the sun, she was deliberating on what weak point she might make her next attack, when there came a knock at the door, and Clarissa, her own maid, entered. “Here is a letter for you, miss,” she said. “I have received it this moment, in an envelope addressed to me.” Henrietta examined the letter for a long time before opening it, studying the handwriting, which she did not know. 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. Egotists and fools will perhaps blame you. But you may despise them; for all the best men are on your side. This was enough to stifle henceforth the voice of reason, and to make her disregard every idea of prudence. de Brevan was, moreover, nothing but a long and respectful admonition to resist desperately.

Farther on he wrote,-- “At the moment of taking the train, Daniel handed me a letter, in which he expresses his innermost thoughts.

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. If you wish to write to him, send me your letter to-day, Rue Laffitte, No. 62, and I will enclose it in mine.” Finally, there came a postscript in these words,-- “Mistrust, above all, M. Thomas Elgin.” This last recommendation caused Henrietta particular trouble, and made her feel all kinds of vague and terrible apprehensions. “Why should I mistrust him,” she said to herself, “more than the others?” But a more pleasing anxiety soon came to her assistance. Here was an opportunity to send Daniel news promptly and safely, and she was running the risk, by her delays, of losing the chance?

It was eleven o’clock when she had finished, having filled eight large pages with all she felt in her heart.

As she was about to rise, she suddenly felt ill. What could this mean? She rang the bell; and, when her maid appeared, she said,-- “Bring me some breakfast!” Miss Ville-Handry occupied three rooms. “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. And, as soon as Clarissa had left the room, he turned to Henrietta with these words,-- “Yes, indeed, my dear Henrietta, I have given strict orders not to bring you up any thing to eat. Brian.” “But, father!” “There is no father who could stand this. The time of weakness is past, and so is the time of passion; therefore, you will come down. whenever you feel disposed.

Could this idea of starving her into obedience have originated with her father? His features retained their sardonic expression; and he said in an icy tone,-- “I have told you what I desire. You have heard it, and that is enough.” He was turning to leave the room, when his daughter held him back. “Father,” she said, “listen to me.” “Well, what is it, now?” “Yesterday you threatened to shut me up.” “Well?” “To-day it is I who beseech you to do so.

However harsh and strict the rules may be, however sad life may be there, I will find there some relief for my sorrow, and I will bless you with all my heart.” He only shrugged his shoulders over and over again; then he said,-- “A good idea! 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! Seated by her, he had shown her discreetly some little attentions; and, when she observed him more closely, she discovered in his eyes something like commiseration. She shook her head sadly; but in her rooms a greater surprise was awaiting her.

“We are getting your rooms ready for Madam Brian.” And, turning round to his colleagues, he said,-- “Go on, men! 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. This impudence seemed to her so monstrous, that unable to believe it, and yielding to a sudden impulse, she went back to the dining-room, and, addressing her father, said to him,-- “Is it really true, father, that you have ordered my furniture to be removed?” “Yes, I have done so, my daughter. 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.

He went on,-- “I never act thoughtlessly, and always take time to mature my decisions. In this case I act from motives of the most ordinary propriety. Brian is no longer young; my daughter is a mere child. 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. He was no doubt at that moment recalling a promise he had made. His looks, his physiognomy, his gestures, all betrayed these sentiments so clearly, that Henrietta was quite touched. 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?

If she had been alone with her father, she would certainly have defended herself; she would have tried to make him reconsider his decision; she would have besought him; she might have gone on her knees to him. she would have died a thousand times over rather than to give these miserable adventurers the joy and the satisfaction of a new humiliation. “Let them crush me,” she said to herself; “they shall never hear me complain, or cry for mercy.” And when her father, who had been quietly watching her, asked,-- “Well?” “You shall be obeyed this very night,” she replied. 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. Already it was too late for the mail; and she would have to send it by a commissionaire. 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.

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. But the man, divining her intention, and quicker than she, had rushed up to the gate, and, crying out as loud as he could, he exclaimed,-- “Miss, miss! I have my orders, and I shall lose my place.” At his cries a dozen servants who were standing idly about in the stables, the vestibule, and the inner court, came running up. What are you doing there?” he asked his daughter. Then he continued harshly, pointing at the concierge,-- “This man would be instantly dismissed if he allowed you to leave the house alone.

And, if ever a man should dare to steal into the garden, the gardeners have orders to shoot him down like a dog, whether it be the man with whom I caught you the other day, or some one else.” Under this mean and cowardly insult Henrietta staggered; but, immediately collecting herself, she exclaimed,-- “Great God! 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. As long as he was in Paris, you would never have dared treat me as I am treated.” Overcome by this unexpected violence, the count could only stammer out a few incoherent words. Henrietta was about to go on, when she felt herself taken by the arm, and gently but irresistibly taken up to the house.

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. Ah, how useful one word from Daniel would have been to her at this crisis!

But, trembling with anguish for his betrothed, the unhappy man had not dared repeat to her the terrible words which had escaped M. 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 has safer means to suppress those who are in her way--means which justice never discovers.” Lost in sombre reflections, the poor girl was forgetting the hour, and did not notice that it had become dark already, when she heard the dinner-bell ring. 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. So she gave it to Clarissa, saying,-- “You will take a cab, and take this letter immediately to M. If he is out, you will leave it, telling the people to be sure to give it to him as soon as he comes in. Be discreet.” She herself went down stairs, so determined to conceal her emotion, that she actually had a smile on her lips as she entered the dining-room. 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. 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. 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.

As the visitors increased, the conversation had ceased to be general, and groups had formed; so that two ladies came to sit down close by Henrietta. Instinctively Henrietta listened. Don’t you know what kind of a woman the count’s daughter is? It is incredible, and almost too scandalous. 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.

Still all efforts to bring her to remained sterile; and this was so extraordinary, that even Count Ville-Handry began to be moved, although at first he had been heard to exclaim,-- “Pshaw! 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. Let some one run for the doctor; never mind which,--the nearest!” This acted as a signal for the guests to scatter at once.

Finding that this fainting-fit lasted too long, and fearing perhaps a fatal termination, a painful scene, and tears, they slyly slipped out, one by one, and escaped. In this way the countess, Mrs. “We ought not to leave her here,” said Countess Sarah; “she will be better in her bed.” “Yes, that is true, you are right!” replied the count. “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. I’ll carry her myself.” And, without waiting for an answer, he took her up like a feather, and carried her to her room, followed by Count Ville-Handry, and his young wife. 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.

“How is she?” he cried out. Then the countess said, speaking very loud, so as to be heard by the servants,-- “She is coming to; and that is why I am leaving her.

She dislikes me so terribly, that poor unhappy child, that I fear my presence might do her harm.” Henrietta had indeed recovered her consciousness. First had come a shiver running over her whole body; then she had tried painfully and repeatedly to raise herself on her pillows, looking around,-- Evidently she did not remember what had happened, and mechanically passed her hand to and fro over her brow, as if to brush away the dark veil that was hanging over her mind, looking with haggard eyes at the doctors, at her father, and at her confidante, Clarissa, who knelt by her bedside, weeping.

The count then came up to his daughter, and, taking her hands, asked her,-- “Come, child. “What do you mean?” And very much embarrassed, perhaps angry against himself, and trying to find an excuse for what he had done, he added, simpering,-- “Is it not your own fault? It is my fault,” murmured Henrietta. 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. At last she was to know him whom her Daniel had called his second self. “That is the man!” said Henrietta to herself; “that is Daniel’s friend!” At first she disliked him excessively. Upon examining him more closely, she thought his composure affected, and his whole appearance lacking in frankness. 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. 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. de Brevan; he had to cough a little; and once or twice passed his hand between his collar and his neck, as if he felt troubled in his throat.

de Brevan, sadly shaking his head; “your maid has told me. 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!

But she dissembles, veiling her malignity under the most affected gentleness. In appearance she is all kindness to me. Quite frightened, he said,-- “Madam, for Heaven’s sake control yourself!” And, anxious to turn Henrietta’s thoughts from her father, he asked,-- “How is Mrs. And Sir Thorn?” “You wrote me that I should mistrust him particularly, and so I do; but, I must confess, he alone seems to be touched by my misfortunes.” “Ah! that is the very reason why you ought to fear him.” “How so?” 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. But I pray, madam, let this remain a secret between us, to be kept religiously. You alone, sir, can advise me.” For some time M.

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. Believe me, if I tell you that such duplicity is very distasteful to my character. 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. During the last visits which Daniel had paid to Henrietta, he had not concealed from her the fact that Maxime de Brevan had formerly been quite intimate with Sarah Brandon and her friends.

But still, in explaining his reasons for trying to renew these relations, M. de Brevan had acted with his usual diplomacy. But for this, she might have conceived some vague suspicions when she saw him, soon after he had left her, enter into a long conversation with the countess, then speak with Sir Thorn, and finally chat most confidentially with austere Mrs. But now, if she noticed it all, she was not surprised. But adversity was teaching her gradually circumspection; and she felt it would be unwise to leave the room before the last guests had departed. Thus it was past two o’clock in the morning before she could open the precious letter, after having dismissed her faithful Clarissa.

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. There were hardly twenty lines left for recommendations, which ought to have contained the most precise and minute details. All his suggestions, moreover, amounted to this,--arm yourself with patience and resignation till my return. 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. How could she guess from this, that the unlucky man, carried away and blinded by passion, had intrusted fifty or sixty thousand dollars, his entire fortune, to his friend Maxime? Thus, when she fell asleep, she had formed a decision. 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.

During the following weeks it was not so difficult for her to keep her promises. 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. She was thus leading a truly wretched life in this magnificent palace, in which she was kept a prisoner by her father’s orders; for such she was; she could no longer disguise it from herself. 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. Her father said, in reply to her request,--“Every day, your mother and I go out and drive for an hour or two in the Bois de Boulogne. Ernest, his valet, accompanied her, with express orders not to let her speak to any one whatsoever, and to “apprehend” her (this was the count’s own expression), and to bring her back forcibly, if needs be, if she should try to escape.

At this time Henrietta had entirely overcome her prejudice against him. She had discovered in M. 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. Was it not he, who, on certain evenings, when she was well-nigh overcome by despair, whispered to her,-- “Courage; here is another day gone! 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.

At first Count Ville-Handry had been rather shocked by this new world, whose manners and customs were unknown to him, and whose language even he hardly understood. He was the firm, the receiver of the fortune, the flag that covers the merchandise, the master, in fine, although he exercised no authority. 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. “Most probably something is going on there,” thought Henrietta. 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. Lilois, N.

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 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. Henrietta was overwhelmed with surprise. “Ah!” she said to herself, “this is what Sarah Brandon and her accomplices were aiming at.

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. How could he, with his deeply-rooted aristocratic prejudices, ever consent to lend his name to an industrial enterprise? “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. The countess seemed to be distressed by the whole affair, and presented to her husband all the objections which Henrietta herself would have liked to have urged; only she did it with all the authority she derived from the count’s passionate love for her.

He met all these objections with a sweetish smile, like a great artist who hears an ignoramus criticise his work. 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. He had no desire for “filthy lucre,” he assured her; he only desired to render his country a great service. More than that, if you speak to them of disinterestedness, they will laugh in your face. If the thing fails, on the other hand, who is to pay? 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.

She was rather inclined to believe, and she did believe, that this Petroleum Society, conceived by Sir Thorn, was unpleasant to the countess; and that thus discord reigned in the enemy’s camp. 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. When she had written her letter, she gave it to Clarissa, urging her to carry it immediately to its address. the poor girl was rapidly approaching an incident which was to bring about a crisis. Ah, how many things this explained to her which she had hitherto wondered at as perfectly incomprehensible! This last infamy, however, tempted her to lay aside for once her carefully-nursed reserve. She rushed into the room, crimson with shame and wrath, and said in a fierce tone,-- “Give me that letter, madam!” Clarissa had fled when she saw her treachery discovered. “This letter,” replied the countess coldly, “I shall hand to your father, madam, as it is my duty to do.” “Ah, take care, madam!” broke in the poor girl with a threatening gesture; “take care!

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? Who forces me to lead this wretched life to which I am condemned?” The countess showed in her features how deeply she was reflecting. I will ask you, in my turn, who is it that has done every thing that could possibly be done to prevent my marriage? Who would like to drive me from this house like an infamous person? Is it not you, always you? That ‘those only are libelled who deserve it.’ I wanted to prove to you that it is not so. I defy you to find a single person around you who does not believe that you have had lovers.” Extreme situations have this peculiarity, that the principal actors may be agitated by the most furious passions, and still outwardly preserve the greatest calmness. “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. You are mistaken. Whence this extraordinary impudence?

Champcey to be ordered abroad?” “No; and I told him so myself, the day before he left, in his own room.” Henrietta was stunned.

This woman had gone to see Daniel? Was this true? “In his room?” she repeated,--“in his room?” “Why, yes, in University Street. I foresaw that trick which I could not prevent, and I wished to prevent it. I had a thousand reasons for wishing ardently that he should remain in Paris.” “A thousand reasons? Can you hope that he will ever love you?” “Yes, any day I may wish for it. And I shall wish it the day when he returns.” Was she speaking seriously?

That is what Henrietta was asking herself, as far as she was able to control her thoughts; for she felt her head growing dizzy, and her thoughts rushed wildly through her mind. “You love Daniel!” she repeated once more, “and yet you were married the very week after his departure!” “Alas, yes!” “And what was my father to you? After all, you acknowledge it yourself, it was his fortune you wanted. 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?

Have you so completely forgotten the zeal with which you heard me, only the other day, try to turn him from this enterprise in which he is about to embark all he possesses?” Henrietta hardly knew whether she was awake or asleep.

Listen. As he perceived his wife and his daughter, his face lighted up immediately; and he exclaimed,-- “What?

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 is the matter? 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! “Where is that letter?” The countess gave it to him with these words,-- “Perhaps it would be better to throw it into the fire without reading it.” But already he had torn the envelope; and, as he was reading the first lines, a crimson blush overspread his temples, and his eyes became bloodshot. “This is unheard of!” he growled with a curse. “This is incomprehensible! 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! Will you disgrace us all?” She made no reply. “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.

de Brevan what had happened, he trembled in his chair, and was so overwhelmed with surprise, that he forgot his precautions, and exclaimed almost aloud,-- “That is not possible!” There was no doubt that he, usually so impassive, was terribly excited. You would have thought he was a man who at a single blow sees the edifice of all his hopes crumble to pieces.

At last, after a moment’s reflection, he said,-- “Perhaps it would be wise, madam, to leave the house.” But she replied sadly,-- “What? He recommends me only to flee at the last extremity, and when there is no other resource left.

But, this confidence which Henrietta expressed was only apparent. A secret voice told her that this scene, no doubt well prepared and carefully brought about, was but another step leading to the final catastrophe. It looked as if they had resolved, after that crisis, to give her a short respite, and time to recover.

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. “You will have to eat your own words,” he had told her, among other things, “if you use such abominable means to gratify your hatred.” It is true, that, when he thus took his kinswoman aside, he also took pains to be overheard by Henrietta. And besides, for fear, perhaps, that she might not fully appreciate his sentiments, he had stealthily pressed her hand, and whispered into her ear,-- “Poor, dear girl! I shall watch.” This sounded like a promise to afford her protection, which certainly would have been efficient if it had been sincere. “It can be nothing but vile hypocrisy and the beginning of an abominable farce. Elgin suddenly underwent a complete metamorphosis. 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 latter became naturally very indignant at this, and began to dislike Sir Thorn to such an extent, that he could hardly contain himself. 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. One morning, after breakfast, he waited for Henrietta in the vestibule; and, when she appeared, he said in an embarrassed manner,-- “I must speak to you, madam; it is absolutely necessary.” She did not manifest any surprise, and simply replied,-- “Follow me, sir.” She entered into the parlor, and he came with her. 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. 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. I beseech you, madam, let me finish. 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.

He was not discouraged by a first failure; and he showed it very soon. 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. A bitter smile curled on his lips; and his magnificent whiskers, usually so admirably kept, now hung down miserably on his chest. And this intense melancholy grew and grew, till it became so evident to all the world, that people asked the countess,-- “What is the matter with poor M. He looks funereal.” “He is unhappy,” was the answer, accompanied by a sigh, which sounded as if it had been uttered in order to increase curiosity, and stimulate people to observe him more closely.

Several persons did observe him; and they soon found out that Sir Thorn no longer took his seat by Henrietta as formerly, and that he avoided every occasion to address her a word. He only laid siege from a distance now, spending whole evenings in looking at her from afar, absorbed in mute ecstasy. And at all times, incessantly and everywhere, she met him, as if he had been her shadow, or as if he had been condemned to breathe the air which had been displaced by her petticoats. 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. And, when she did not see him, she felt his looks still weighing her down. 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.

He yielded; but he said after careful consideration,-- “This abominable persecution cannot go on, madam: this man compromises you too dreadfully. 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! 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. However, as such a marriage would meet all my wishes, as it would serve to tighten the bonds which unite us with this honorable family (if M. He began thus,-- “Is it really true, madam, that you have made complaint to your father?” “Your pertinacity compelled me to do so,” replied Henrietta. “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! If he had hesitated, I would have been the first one to say to him, ‘Duty calls; you must go.’” Sir Thorn shook his head with a sardonic smile, and said,-- “But he did not hesitate.

It is ten months now since he left you; and no one knows for how many more months, for how many years, he will be absent. For his sake you suffer martyrdom; and, when he returns, he may have long since forgotten you.” Her eyes beaming with faith, Henrietta rose to her full height, and replied,-- “I believe in Daniel as surely as in myself.” “And if they convinced you that you were mistaken?” “They would render me a very sad service, which would bring no reward to any one.” Sir Thorn’s lips moved, as if he were about to answer. 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. You are bound now to justify your insidious insinuations, or, to confess that they were false.” Then he seemed to make up his mind, and said, speaking rapidly,-- “You will have it so? Know, then, since you insist upon it, that M. Daniel Champcey has been deceiving you most wickedly; that he does not love you, and probably never did love you.” “That is what you say,” replied Henrietta. Her haughty carriage, the disdain, rather than disgust, with which she spoke, could not fail to exasperate M. 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. 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. Between Sarah and you, Miss Henrietta, there stands a man.” “A man?” “Yes,--M.

He, shrugging his shoulders, and assuming an air of commiseration, went on,-- “What? You will not understand that Sarah is your rival; that she has loved M. Champcey; that she is still madly in love with him?

Brian and myself cruelly.” “How so?” He turned his head aside, and murmured, as if speaking to himself,-- “-------- -------- was her lover.” Miss Ville-Handry discerned the truth with admirable instinct, drew herself up, and said in her most energetic way,-- “That is false!” Sir Thorn trembled; but that was all.

Champcey fled from our house in the middle of the night, bareheaded, without taking his overcoat?” “Sir?” “Did you not think that was extraordinary? That night, you see, we discovered the whole thing. 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.

I have obtained two; and I have them here in my pocket-book.” He put at the same time his hand to his pocket. “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. “That is your last word?” he asked.

“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. 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. de Brevan additional information on the subject, she had been struck by his embarrassment, and the lame and confused way in which he had defended his friend. “Ah, now all is really over!” she thought.

“The measure of my sufferings is full indeed!” Unfortunately it was not yet full. He was, henceforth, a kind of wild beast, pursuing her, harassing her, persecuting her, with his eyes glaring at her with abominable lust. He no longer looked at her furtively, as formerly; but he lay in wait for her in the passages, ready, apparently, to throw himself upon her; projecting his lips as if to touch her cheeks, and extending his arms as if to seize her around her waist. But from that moment her terrors had no limit; and, whenever the count went out at night with his wife, she barricaded herself up in her chamber, and spent the whole night, dressed, in a chair. de Brevan,-- “My mind is made up; I must flee.” Taken aback, as if he had received a blow upon his head, with his mouth wide open, his eyes stretched out, M. 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. And yet, before risking any thing decisive, it might be better first to write to Daniel’s aunt in order to ask her about the directions she may have received, and to tell her that very soon I shall come to ask for her pity and her protection.” “What? 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. Now, it is evident, that the very first place where they will look for you will be Daniel’s relatives.

de Brevan, “let us see what they would do if they should discover you.

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. de Brevan; and he answered in his most persuasive manner,-- “Will you permit me to offer you some advice, madam?” “Alas, sir! I beg you to do so for Heaven’s sake.” “Well, this is the only plan that seems to me feasible.

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. “You see,” she said, after long hesitation, “all this will cost money. de Brevan, “madam, is not my whole fortune entirely at your disposal?” “To be sure, I have my jewels; and they are quite valuable.” “For that very reason you ought to be careful not to take them with you. 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. Then, finding that Henrietta was bent upon escaping, he tried to devise the means.

Count Ville-Handry is going soon to give a great party?” “The day after to-morrow, Thursday.” “All right. I will be here with a carriage at ten o’clock precisely. 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. de Brevan regulated his watch by Henrietta’s; and then, rising, he said,-- “We have already conversed longer than we ought to have done in prudence. By this one word Henrietta sealed her destiny; and she knew it. If Daniel upon his return should abandon her! 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. 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. Night had fallen long since; and the last preparations for a princely entertainment filled the palace with noise and movement. She went on tiptoe, holding her breath, eye and ear on the watch, ready at the smallest noise to run back, or to rush into the first open room. 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. His coachman was certainly a skilful driver.

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. 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. Your lodgings are ready for you, madam; and I am going, with your leave, to drive you there.” She raised herself, and said, with a great effort,-- “Do so, sir!” M. 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. “Remember this romance, madam,” he begged her, “and let your words and actions be in conformity with it. Remember that you are still under age, that you will be searched for anxiously, and that the slightest indiscretion may put them upon your traces.” Then, as she still kept silent, weeping, he wanted to take her hand, and thus noticed the little bag which she had taken. “What is that?” he asked, in a tone, which, under its affected gentleness, betrayed no small dissatisfaction. “Some indispensable articles.” “Ah!

you did not after all take your jewels, madam?” “No, certainly not, sir!” Still this persistency on the part of M. de Brevan began to strike her as odd; and she would have betrayed her surprise, if the carriage had not at that moment stopped suddenly before No. de Brevan walked straight up to it, and opened the door like a man who is at home in a house. “It is I,” he said. A man and a woman, the concierge and his wife, who had been dozing, her nose in a paper, started up suddenly.

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. “The young lady’s room is quite ready,” said the man. “My husband has arranged every thing himself,” broke in his wife; “it was no trifle, after the papering had been done. The concierge and his wife, however, were economical people; and the gas on the stairs had long since been put out. 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. He drew her into the passage while the woman was stirring the fire, and said in a low voice,-- “It is a terrible room; but prudence induced me to choose it.” “I like it as it is, sir.” “You will want a great many things, no doubt; but we will see to that to-morrow. To-night I must leave you: you know it is all important that I should be seen again at your father’s house.” “You are quite right; sir, go, make haste!” Still he did not wish to go without having once more recommended his “young kinswoman” to Mrs. 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. Was this possible? “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. 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.

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? “At least,” she said, “I shall be quiet and undisturbed here.” Perhaps she was to be morally quiet; for as to any other peace, she was soon to be taught differently. 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. This thought carried her back to her father’s house. What were they doing there at this hour?

Her escape was certainly known by this time. 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.

“It is I, my pretty young lady,” she said as she entered. And how is your appetite? 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.

Chevassat had displayed all the amiability of which she was capable, hiding under a veil of tender sympathy the annoying eagerness of her eyes. Her hypocrisy was all wasted. “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. “You’ll see how very well every thing is cooked, miss,” she said. To hear her, the new tenant ought to thank her guardian angel who had brought her to this charming house, No.

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. 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? Maxime?” Thereupon she quickly folded the napkin, took the plates, and disappeared.

She could not doubt that this Megsera pursued some mysterious aim with all her foolish talk; but she could not possibly guess what that aim could be. She was in want of every thing, of the most indispensable articles: she had not another dress, nor another petticoat. Was he waiting for her to tell him of her distress, and to ask him for money? She could not think so, and she attributed his neglect to his excitement, thinking that he would no doubt come soon to ask how she was, and place himself at her service. What did this mean? what misfortune could have befallen him? 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. And thus, for three days, he only came, to disappear almost instantly. He always came painfully embarrassed, as if he had something very important to tell her; then his brow clouded over; and he went away suddenly, without having said any thing. Henrietta, tortured by terrible doubts, felt unable to endure this atrocious uncertainty any longer.

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. “I am ready to listen,” replied the poor girl, all trembling. He hesitated again for a moment; then overcoming his reluctance, apparently by a great effort, he said,-- “Well, I wish to ask you if you have ever suspected what my real reasons were for assisting you to escape?” “I think, sir, you have acted from kind pity for me, and also from friendship for M. You are entirely mistaken.” She drew back instinctively, uttering only a low, “Ah!” Pale as he had been, M. Are you really not aware that I love you?” She could understand any thing but this, the unfortunate girl; any thing but such infamy, such an incredible insult!

“If you advance another step, I shall cry for help.” He stopped, and, changing his tone, said to her,-- “Ah! And, as he still insisted, she added,-- “Why don’t you go, coward? Must I call?” He was frightened, backed to the door, and half opened it; then he said,-- “You refuse me to-day; but, before the month is over, you will beg me to come to you.

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. with what crushing contempt she would reject his first proposals; but he flattered himself with the hope that isolation, fear, destitution would at last reduce her to submission, and enable him-- “It is too horrible,” repeated the poor girl,--“too horrible!” And this man had been Daniel’s friend! And it was he to whom Daniel, at the moment of sailing, had intrusted his betrothed! 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! “Ah!” she said to herself, “they have one feeling, at all events, in common; and that is hatred against me.” A few months ago, so fearful and so sudden a catastrophe would have crushed Henrietta, in all probability. But she had endured so many blows during the past year, that she bore this also; for it is a fact that the human heart learns to bear grief as the body learns to endure fatigue. Moreover, she called in to her assistance a light shining high above all this terrible darkness,--the remembrance of Daniel. She thought, therefore, she was quite certain that he would return to her with his heart devoted to her as when he left her. 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!

You see, he is in love with you, that kind young man; and you may believe me when I tell you so, for I know what men are.” She expected an answer; for generally her eloquence was very effective with her tenants. “Well, it is your lookout. But if you fall out in this way--you understand, don’t you?” She hardly did understand such fearful infamy. Still Henrietta did not show her indignation and surprise. She asked,-- “What did the furniture of this room cost? “The man will give me forty- eight hours’ time, I presume?” “Oh, certainly!” As the poor girl was now quite sure that this honeyed Megsera was employed by M. When she had finished her dinner, she even insisted upon paying on the spot fifty francs, which she owed for the last few days, and for some small purchases. Should she return to her father, and implore the pity of his wife? Should she seek assistance at the hands of some of the old family friends? In greater distress than the shipwrecked man who in vain examines the blank horizon, she looked around for some one to help her.

“Is it really so hard to live?” she thought. 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. “That is enough,” she said to herself. All this, she thought, must have cost, at least, eight or nine thousand francs; but for how much would it sell? This was the question on which her whole future depended. 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. “That is the place I must go to,” Henrietta said to herself.

Chevassat’s great astonishment, but without answering her questions, where she was going to in such a hurry. 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. She went on in feverish haste, recognized the house that had been pointed out to her, went up stairs, and, pushing open a door, found herself in a large room, where some twenty people were standing about, waiting. Far back, a large opening was visible, where another clerk appeared from time to time, to take in the articles that were pawned. Whose is it?” The large amount caused all to look around; and a big woman, but too well dressed, and with a very impudent expression, said,-- “Oh, oh!

She whispered,-- “It is my ring, sir.” The clerk looked at her, and then asked quite gently,-- “You have your papers?” “Papers? What for?” “The papers that establish your identity. Your passport, a receipt for rent, or any thing.” The whole company laughed at the ignorance of this girl. She stammered out,-- “I have no such papers, sir.” “Then we can make no advance.” One more hope, her last, vanished thus. You shall have it back when you bring me the papers, or when you come accompanied by two merchants who are known to us.” “But, sir”-- “That is so.” And, finding that he had lost time enough, he went on,-- “One velvet cloak! Whose is it?” Henrietta was rushing out, and down the stairs, pursued, as it seemed to her, by the cries of the crowd.

She confessed her discomfiture to Mrs. 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. “After all,” she said, “you are prodigiously lucky in your misfortunes; for you are too imprudent in all conscience.” And, as the poor girl was not a little astonished at this, she went on,-- “Yes, you ran a great risk; and I can easily prove it to you. If they had arrested you when they saw you had no papers; if they had carried you before a magistrate--eh? Thus she discoursed and discoursed with amazing volubility, till at last, when she thought she had made a sufficiently strong impression on her “poor little pussy-cat,” she said,-- “But one can easily see, my dear young lady, that you are a mere child. Why, that is murder, as long as there is some one at hand quite ready to do any thing for you.” At this sudden, but not altogether unexpected attack, Henrietta trembled. Chevassat, “if it were only to be agreeable to you, he would give one of his arms, this poor M.

Maxime.” Henrietta looked so peremptorily at her, that the worthy lady seemed to be quite disconcerted. “I forbid you,” cried the young lady, with a voice trembling with indignation,--“I forbid you positively ever to mention his name!” The woman shrugged her shoulders. What do you propose to do?” “That is exactly why I came to you,” replied Henrietta. “I do not know what is to be done in such a case.” Mrs. “Chevassat will go, take the charcoal-dealer and the grocer next door with him; and before going to bed you will have your money, I promise you! He did not bring the whole nine hundred francs, he said; for, having put his two neighbors to some inconvenience, he was bound, according to established usage, to invite them to take something. He could take his oath upon that; for he preferred by far leaving that little matter to the beautiful young lady’s liberality. “Here are ten francs,” said Henrietta curtly, in order to make an end to his endless talk.

How many days, how many months, this sum would have secured to her, if the furniture-dealer had not been there with his bill! This inspiration was, moreover, to be the last favor which Providence vouchsafed to Henrietta,--an opportunity which, once allowed to pass, never returns. 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. 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. One morning, when she had just finished righting up her room, somebody knocked discreetly, at her door.

He was deadly pale; his lips trembled; his eyes looked dim and uncertain; and he moved his lips and jaws as if he had gravel in his mouth.

“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 have led you into this snare, and I have meanly betrayed a friend’s confidence; but I have an excuse.

My passion is stronger than my will, than my reason.” “A vile passion for money!” “You may think so, madam, if you choose. That is not what I came for. But she thought she ought to know his intentions and his plans. She overcame her disgust, therefore, and remained silent. de Brevan, apparently trying to collect his thoughts, “bear this in mind, madam. 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. 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.

de Brevan, when he thought Henrietta had had time enough to read the article, “you see it is not I who advise marriage.

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. Then you think, perhaps, you will only need to implore your father to come to your assistance. I have told you Daniel loves the Countess Sarah; and, even if he did not love her, you have been too publicly disgraced for him ever to give you his name. But that is nothing yet.

Go to the navy department, and they will tell you that ‘The Conquest’ is out on a cruise of two years more. At the time when Daniel returns, if he returns at all (which is very far from being certain), you will long since have become Mrs. de Brevan bowed, as if he intended to say,-- “Yes, unless you should be dead: that was what I meant.” Then, opening the door, he added,-- “Let me hope, madam, that this is not your last word. 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.

de Brevan had assigned for his visit. No, she could not admit that he had come to see if she had reflected, nor that he really cherished that abominable hope, that misery, hunger, and fear would drive her into his arms. “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. de Brevan, in the hope that some word might give her light; but she discovered nothing. He had told her nothing new, but his duel with Sir Thorn; and, when she considered the matter, she thought that, also, quite natural. The antagonism of their interests explained, she thought, their hatred; for she was well convinced that they hated each other mortally. The man who wants to make a girl his own does not go to work to chill her with terror, and to inspire her with ineffable disgust. de Brevan had done this; and therefore he must aim at something different from that marriage of which he spoke. de Brevan would have a terrible account to give to that brave sailor who had trusted him with the care of his betrothed.

After having said, “When Daniel returns,” he had added, “if he ever returns, which is by no means sure.” Why this proviso? Had he any reasons to think that Daniel might perish in this dangerous campaign?

Now she remembered, yes, she remembered distinctly, that M. And, as she recalled this, her heart sank within her, and she felt as if she were going to faint. “Oh, I must warn Daniel!” she exclaimed, “I must warn him, and not lose a minute.” And, although she had written him a long letter only the day before, she wrote again, begging him to be watchful, to mistrust everybody, because most assuredly his life was threatened.

And this letter she carried herself to the post-office, convinced as she was that to confide it to Mrs. It was astonishing, however, how the estimable lady seemed to become day by day more attached to Henrietta, and how expansive and demonstrative her affections grew. 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. Fortunately, in this case, the messenger was ill-chosen. Chevassat, which very likely would have inflamed the imagination of some poor but ambitious girl, caused nothing but disgust in Henrietta’s heart. 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. Calculating from the sum she had received for the first ring, she hoped to obtain for this one, at the very least, five or six hundred francs. 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. She lost two months’ existence, the very time, perhaps, that was needed till Daniel’s return.

Chevassat’s elegant expression, forced to “live on her poor possessions.” But the pawnbroker had too cruelly disappointed her calculations: she would not resort to him again, and risk a second disappointment. 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. Nor was this his last bid. After an hour’s irritating discussions, after having ten times pretended to leave the room, he drew with many sighs his portemonnaie from its secret home, and counted upon the table the seven hundred francs in gold upon which Henrietta had stoutly insisted. She had chosen this half-way measure in order not to avoid a scene, for that she knew she could not hope for, but a regular falling-out. Contrary to all expectations, the concierge’s wife appeared neither surprised nor angry. 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. For he did not forget his threat; and every week Henrietta was sure to see him come. 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. I have time; I can wait.” If he hoped thus to conquer Henrietta more promptly, he was entirely mistaken. This periodical insult acted only as an inducement to keep up her wrath and to increase her energy. Her pride rose at the thought of this unceasing struggle; and she swore that she would be victorious. It was this sentiment which inspired her with a thought, which, in its results, was destined to have a decisive influence on her future.

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! “Ah!” “We have a tenant in the house who is going to give a large party to-night. there is no one like her. 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.

there is the musician from the garret!” exclaimed a large, dark-skinned woman, pretty, but very vulgar, who seemed to be Mrs.

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 had, however, sufficient self-control to finish the quadrille. 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. “Here is our ball at an end!” But the young woman said,-- “Hush, Julius! Don’t you see how pale she is,--pale like death, the poor child! What is the matter with you, darling? Is it the heat that makes you feel badly?

It is stifling hot here.” And, when Henrietta was at the door, she said,-- “Oh, wait! Her first surprise had been followed by mad anger, which drove the blood to her head, and made her weep bitter tears. Chevassat had caught her in this trap. 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? You are a wretch!” Master Chevassat was the first to rise, and said,-- “What is the matter? Do you know to whom you are talking?” But his wife interrupted him with a gesture, and, turning to Henrietta, said with cynic laughter,-- “Well, what next? 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. Who knows what this wicked woman will now do to avenge herself?” She found it out the second day afterwards. 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!

And I must needs think she is sick, and pity her, and ask Julius to give her a twenty-franc-piece.” Henrietta felt that she ought not to blame this woman, who, after all, had shown her nothing but kindness. “They’ll make you pay for that, my darling,” she yelled, amid foul oaths, which her wrath carried along with it, as a torrent floats down stones and debris. Early in the morning, as soon as the door was opened, she ran out to buy her daily provisions; then, running up swiftly, she barricaded herself in her chamber, and never stirred out again. Even this rupture, at which Henrietta had at first rejoiced, became now to her a source of overwhelming trouble. What was this sum of money?

She went from store to store, from door to door, so to say, soliciting employment, as she would have asked for alms, promising to do any thing that might be wanted, in return merely for her board and lodging.

Her beauty, her charms, her distinguished appearance, her very manner of speaking, were so many obstacles in her way.

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. By whom have you been employed?” and finally, always the same distressing answer,-- “We cannot employ persons like you.” Then she went to an employment agency. 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.

This was Henrietta’s last effort.

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. This was the last favor she asked of God. Henceforth, a miracle alone could save her; and she hardly wished to be saved. A perfect indifference and intense distaste of every thing filled her soul. A last misfortune which now befell her did not elicit even a sigh from her. On this chair hung her cashmere; it fell into the fireplace, in which a little fire was still burning; and when she came back she found the shawl half-burnt to ashes. 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.

This inexplicable forbearance gave Henrietta a week’s respite. “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. 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. Unfortunately, it was far from being finished. The fearful old hag seemed to be overcome with surprise when she saw this marvel of skill. “That’s very fine,” she said; “why, it is magnificent! 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!

If she had but known it, if she had but had a single friend to advise her in her inexperience! But she had been faithful to her vow never to let her secret be known to a living soul; and the most terrible anguish had never torn from her a single complaint. de Brevan knew this full well; for he had continued his weekly visits with implacable regularity. 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. 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.

If by tomorrow at noon you have not come to my assistance, at one o’clock you will have ceased to have a daughter.” Tortured by cold and hunger, emaciated, and almost dying, she had waited for an answer. A dense, bitter vapor spread slowly through the room; and the candle ceased to give a visible light. Then strange and incoherent thoughts arose deliriously in her head; her ears were filled with confused noises; her pulse beat with extraordinary vehemence; nausea nearly convulsed her; and from time to time she fancied terrific explosions were breaking her skull to pieces. 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. If he had gone down as usually, by the front staircase, no noise would have reached him.

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. It was he likewise, who, while the concierge and the other people were deliberating, directed what was to be done for the dying girl, and who hastened to fetch from his magazine a mattress, sheets, blankets, wood to make a fire, in fact, every thing that was needed in that bare chamber. Had her father at last come to her assistance? Nevertheless, she distinguished very clearly what was going on in her room. “A poor little pussy-cat, who was always merry, and this morning yet sang like a bird.

I thought she might be a little embarrassed, but never suspected such misery. She would rather have died than ask for assistance; for she knew she had only a word to say to me.

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? Chevassat.” Unable to articulate a word, even if she had understood what was said, poor Henrietta shivered, shrank with horror and disgust from the contact with those lying lips. And the emotion which this feeling caused her did more for her than all the attentions that were paid her. “Well,” she commenced, “now you are happy, miss! You have advertised my house, and it will all be in the papers. Only day before yesterday, he offered you his whole fortune”-- “Madam,” stammered Henrietta, “have you no mercy?” Mercy--Mrs.

It was hardly worth while, if you meant, immediately afterwards, to accept that old miser, who will make life hard enough for you. Ah, you have fallen into nice hands!” Gathering up all the strength that had come back to her, Henrietta raised herself on the pillows, and asked,-- “What do you mean?” “Oh, nothing! Besides, he had been looking after you a long time already.” As soon as Henrietta opened her eyes, Papa Ravinet had discreetly withdrawn, in order to leave the ladies, who were about her, time to undress her. that is not difficult. 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! 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. That’s his business; and, upon my word!

“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. She trembled, and raised her head.

It was Papa Ravinet, who, after a long conversation with the concierge, and after some words with his amiable wife, had come up to inquire after his patient. “That,” she thought, “is the man who plots my ruin, the wretch whom I am to avoid.” Now, it is true that this man, with his mournful face, his huge, brushlike eyebrows, and his small, yellow eyes, startling by their incessant activity, had for the observer something enigmatical about him, and therefore did not inspire much confidence. Nevertheless, Henrietta thanked him none the less heartily, although greatly embarrassed, for his readiness to help her, his kind care, and his generosity in providing every thing she wanted. “I have only done my duty, and that very imperfectly.” And at once, in a