The Case Of The Delicate Disability


“The wretch knows through Coralth that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse,” he said to himself; “and when Mademoiselle Marguerite has become his wife, he intends to oblige Madame d’Argeles to accept her brother’s estate and share it with him.” At that same moment Madame d’Argeles finished her narrative.that is the first, the only thought, when a man finds himself victimized, when his honor and fortune, his present and future, are wrecked by a vile conspiracy! So the hope that had momentarily lightened his heart faded away again. Since he had received that fatal letter from Madame Leon the evening before, he believed that Marguerite was lost to him forever, and in this case, it was useless to struggle against fate. It certainly was not for pleasure that she had decided to go out to service again; her dignity suffered terribly by this fall--but then the stomach has to be cared for.

Nor did the grocery store pay; the few half-pence which were left there occasionally in exchange for a glass of liquor were pocketed by Vantrasson, who spent them at some neighboring establishment; for it is a well-known fact that the wine a man drinks in his own shop is always bitter in flavor. But this was not a satisfying diet, as she was forced to confess; so she decided to find some work, that would furnish her with food and a little money, which she vowed she would never allow her worthy husband to see. She seemed to reflect, and after a great deal of counting on her fingers, she finally declared that she would be content with breakfast and fifteen francs a month, on condition she was allowed to do the marketing.

“Too dear!” said Madame Ferailleur; “I have never given over fifteen francs.” But Madame Vantrasson was not the woman to be easily discouraged, especially as she knew that if she failed to obtain this situation, she might have considerable difficulty in finding another one. “I told you that I could only give fifteen francs,” interrupted Madame Ferailleur--“take it or leave it.” Madame Vantrasson protested. Monsieur and madame would be delighted with my cooking, for I have seen more than one fine gentleman smack his lips over my sauces when was in the employment of the Count de Chalusse.” Pascal and his mother could not repress a start on hearing this name; but it was in a tone of well-assumed indifference that Madame Ferailleur repeated, “M.

de Chalusse?” “Yes, madame--a count--and so rich that he didn’t know how much he was worth. Still she was so delighted with this denouement that she expressed her willingness to enter upon her duties at once; and to get rid of her Madame Ferailleur was obliged to send her out to purchase the necessary supplies for breakfast. Then, as soon as she was alone with her son, she turned to him and asked: “Well, Pascal?” But the wretched man seemed turned to stone, and seeing that he neither spoke nor moved, she continued in a severe tone: “Is this the way you keep your resolutions and your oaths!

If it had not been for me you would have betrayed yourself in that woman’s presence. “Hear what?” “What that vile woman said? The worthy woman’s heart was pervaded with that lofty sentiment of duty which sustains the humble heroines of the fireside, and lends them even more courage than the reckless adventurers whose names are recorded by history could boast of. She felt that Pascal must not be consoled, but spurred on to fresh efforts; and so mustering all her courage, she said: “Are you acquainted with Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life? You only know that hers has been a life of great vicissitudes--and so it is not strange that she should be slandered.” “In that case, mother,” said Pascal, “you were wrong to interrupt Madame Vantrasson. “I wish for nothing better; but don’t forget that we have ourselves to rehabilitate. It seemed to me that you had sworn to act, not to complain.” This ironical thrust touched Pascal’s sensitive mind to the quick; he rose at once to his feet, and coldly said, “That’s true. He was revolving the subject in his mind when he suddenly remembered the man who, on the morning that followed the scene at Madame d’Argeles’s house, had come to him in the Rue d’Ulm to give him a proof of his confidence. He remembered that this strange man had said: “If you ever need a helping hand, come to me.” And at the recollection he made up his mind.

He had dressed himself in the oldest clothes he possessed; and this, with the change he had made by cutting off his hair and beard, had so altered his appearance that it was necessary to look at him several times, and most attentively, to recognize him. The marvellous luxury so surprised Pascal, that he asked himself how the owner of this princely abode could find any pleasure at the gaming table of the Hotel d’Argeles. His surprise, indeed, seemed so profound that Pascal feared he had made some mistake and added: “Doesn’t he live here?” The servant laughed heartily. Florestan--is the baron receiving?” “The baroness hasn’t forbidden it.” This seemed to satisfy the footman; for, turning to Pascal he said: “In that case, you can follow me.” II. On a rustic bench sat a couple of tall footmen, as bright in their gorgeous liveries as gold coins fresh from the mint; still, despite their splendor, they were stretching and yawning to such a degree, that it seemed as if they would ultimately dislocate their jaws and arms. That Fernand, no doubt--or some one else?” “No; this morning it’s about M. “There!” exclaimed one of the footmen, “that’s monsieur; he has smashed two or three hundred francs’ worth of dishes. I says that it’s indecent.

Besides, monsieur does not care about that. “Yes, strict necessities, one can swear to that. And as if he had construed the oath that answered him as an exclamation of assent, he began: “In June, a Hungarian costume with jacket and sash, two train dresses with upper skirts and trimmings of lace, a Medicis polonaise, a jockey costume, a walking costume, a riding-habit, two morning-dresses, a Velleda costume, an evening dress.” “I was obliged to attend the races very frequently during the month of June,” remarked the baroness. At last, after what seemed an interminable enumeration, Van Klopen exclaimed: “And that’s all!” “Yes, that’s all,” repeated the baroness, like an echo. “That’s all!” exclaimed the baron--“that’s all! That is to say, in four months, at least seven hundred yards of silk, velvet, satin, and muslin, have been put on this woman’s back!” “The dresses of the present day require a great deal of material. Monsieur le Baron will understand that flounces, puffs, and ruches----” “Naturally! Van Klopen, if you are ever paid for this rubbish it won’t be by me.” If Van Klopen was expecting this denouement, Pascal wasn’t; in fact, he was so startled, that an exclamation escaped him which would have betrayed his presence under almost any other circumstances. Do you suppose that I, Baron Trigault, that I’ve worked like a negro for twenty years merely for the purpose of aiding your charming and useful branch of industry?

There may be husbands who believe themselves responsible for their wives’ follies--it’s quite possible there are--but I’m not made of that kind of stuff.

I allow Madame Trigault eight thousand francs a month for her toilette--that is sufficient--and it is a matter for you and her to arrange together. That I would not be responsible for any more of my wife’s debts. It is with my wife that you have opened an account. “That’s their business. Pay, monsieur--pay just once more.” “No!” “If not for my sake, for your own.” “Not a farthing.” By the baron’s tone, Pascal realized that his wife would never shake his fixed determination. “If this is the case, I shall, to my great regret, be obliged to fail in the respect I owe to Monsieur le Baron, and to place this bill in the hands of a solicitor.” “Send him along--send him along.” “I cannot believe that monsieur wishes a law-suit.” “In that you are greatly mistaken. Do you think that wives are to turn their husbands into machines for supplying money? you prate of the scandal that would be created by my resistance to your demands. That’s your system; but, with me, it won’t succeed.

It isn’t always to talk about dress that ladies stop at your place on returning from the Bois. “And I!” he exclaimed, “I will tell people that Baron Trigault, after losing all his money at play, repays his creditors with curses.” The noise of an overturned chair told Pascal that the baron had sprung up in a furious passion “You may say what you like, you rascally fool! Then a door closed with such violence that the whole house shook, and a magnificent clock, fixed to the wall of the smoking-room, fell on to the floor. How could one suppose that a creditor would leave this princely mansion with his bill unpaid? But more and more clearly he understood that there must be some greater cause of difference between husband and wife than this bill of twenty-eight thousand francs. The baron, who had been so favorably disposed toward him, and from whom he was expecting a great service, would undoubtedly hate him, undoubtedly become his enemy, when he learned that he had been a listener, although an involuntary one, to this conversation with Van Klopen. How did it happen that he had been placed in this dangerous position? Would it not be discovered sooner or later that he had been in the smoking-room while M. He therefore noisily moved a chair, and coughed in that affected style which means in every country: “Take care--I’m here!” But he did not succeed in attracting attention.

If he desired to avoid hearing the confidential conversation, which would no doubt ensue between the baron and his wife, there was but one course for him to pursue, and that was to reveal his presence at once. That’s sufficient. You know very well that he won’t bring any action against me--unfortunately. I have a foolish wife--is that my fault? If all husbands were as courageous, we should soon close the establishments of these artful men, who minister to your vanity, and use you ladies as puppets, or living advertisements, to display the absurd fashions which enrich them.” The baron took two or three more steps forward, as if about to leave the room, but his wife interposed: “The Baroness Trigault, whose husband has an income of seven or eight hundred thousand francs a year, can’t go about clad like a simple woman of the middle classes.” “I should see nothing so very improper in that.” “Oh, I know. I shall never consent to make myself ridiculous among the ladies of my set--among my friends.” “It would indeed be a pity to arouse the disapproval of your friends.” This sneering remark certainly irritated the baroness, for it was with the greatest vehemence that she replied: “All my friends are ladies of the highest rank in society--noble ladies!” The baron no doubt shrugged his shoulders, for in a tone of crushing irony and scorn, he exclaimed: “Noble ladies!

“If it is scandal that crowns one a great lady, you ARE one--and one of the greatest; for you are notorious--almost as notorious as Jenny Fancy. It is impossible to read of a first performance at a theatre, or of a horse-race, without finding your name coupled with that of Jenny Fancy, or Cora Pearl, or Ninette Simplon. The whole world not only knows how my wife dresses, but how she looks en dishabille, and how she is formed; folks are aware that she has an exquisite foot, a divinely-shaped leg, and a perfect hand. No one is ignorant of the fact that my wife’s shoulders are of dazzling whiteness, and that high on the left shoulder there is a most enticing little mole. Do they ever trouble honest women?” “They wouldn’t trouble me if I had a husband who knew how to make them treat me with respect!” The baron laughed a strident, nervous laugh, which it was not pleasant to hear, and which revealed the fact that intense suffering was hidden beneath all this banter. You know too well that you would receive none of my money, that I have guarded against that. Now that a woman no longer has a conscience, the newspapers act in place of it. And I think it quite right, for it is our only hope of salvation.” By the stir in the adjoining room, Pascal felt sure that the baroness had stationed herself before the door to prevent her husband from leaving her. well, monsieur,” she exclaimed, “I declare to you that I must have Van Klopen’s twenty-eight thousand francs before this evening. Still if, as you say, it is absolutely necessary that you should have it to-day, there is a means of procuring it.

Pawn your diamonds for thirty thousand francs--I authorize you to do so; and I give you my word of honor that I will redeem them within a week. Fernand de Coralth has demanded that sum, and because you have promised to give it to him!” Leaning against the wall of the smoking-room, speechless and motionless, holding his breath, with his hands pressed upon his heart, as if to stop its throbbings, Pascal Ferailleur listened. “My mother was right,” he thought; “the baron hates that miserable viscount mortally. She swore that she did not know what he meant. I know only too well that what I say is true; and if you desire proofs, they shall be in your hands in less than half an hour. Fool that I was! We had a daughter; and if a fear or a doubt entered my mind, I told myself that the sight of her cradle would drive all evil thoughts from your heart. The adultery of a childless wife may be forgiven or explained; but that of a mother, never!

that I was! I should consider myself amply revenged if I could make you suffer for a single day all the torments that I endured for long months. Convinced of your treachery, I resolved to ascertain everything, and I discovered that in my absence you had become a mother. I said to myself that the day would come when, at any risk, you would try to see your child again, to embrace her, and provide for her future. fool that I was! “Yes, always!” “You must know, however, that this story of a child is only a vile slander. I have repeated it a thousand times since.” The baron uttered a sigh that was very like a sob, and without paying any heed to his wife’s words, he continued: “If I consented to allow you to remain under my roof, it was only for the sake of our daughter.

you blame me for that?” “Whom ought I to blame, then? On the day before yesterday--listen carefully to this--my son-in-law came to ask me for a hundred thousand francs, and when I refused them, he threatened if I did not give them to him that he would publish some letters written by my daughter--by his wife--to some low scoundrel. But that same evening I learned that the husband and wife, my daughter and my son-in-law, had concocted this vile conspiracy together. Leaving here, and not wishing to return home that day, he telegraphed the good news to his wife. I beat my drum, and he surrendered at once.’ Yes, that is what he dared to write, and sign with his own name, and then send to his wife--my daughter!” Pascal was absolutely terrified. He thought that the baroness would be crushed--that she would fall on her knees before her husband.

The tone of her voice told him that, instead of yielding, she was only bent on retaliation. “How dare you censure him--you who drag your name through all the gambling dens of Europe?” “Wretch!” interrupted the baron, “wretch!” But quickly mastering himself, he remarked: “Yes, it’s true that I gamble. People say, ‘That great Baron Trigault is never without cards in his hands!’ But you know very well that I really hold gambling in horror--that I loathe it. It is no doubt in the hope of forgetting your sorrows that you spend all your time--when you are not gambling--with a woman named Lia d’Argeles. Don’t insult an unfortunate woman who is a thousand times better than yourself.” And, feeling that he could endure no more--that he could no longer restrain his passion, he cried: “Out of my sight! How was it that she did not perceive him?

He could see the baron somewhere else some other day--elsewhere than at his own house, so that he need not fear the recognition of the servants. monsieur, don’t you recognize me?” rejoined Pascal, who in his agitation forgot that the baron had seen him only twice before. monsieur, that’s not my name. Have you forgotten the innocent man who was caught in that infamous snare set for him by the Viscount de Coralth?” “Yes, yes,” replied the baron, “I remember you now.” And then recollecting the terrible scene that had just taken place in the adjoining room: “How long have you been here?” he asked. The terrible ordeal which he had just passed through had exhausted him mentally and physically, and it was in a faltering voice that he resumed: “Then you have not lost a word--a word of what was said in the other room?” “Not a word.” The baron sank on to the divan.

I swear it by all that is most sacred!” He had raised his hand as if to take a solemn oath, when the baron caught hold of it, and, pressing it with sorrowful gratitude, exclaimed: “I believe you! You are a man of honor--I only needed to see your home to be convinced of that. that I should be so cruelly punished?” he continued. I made a will, and left my property in such a way that if I die, my family will not receive one penny. It is to gratify her desire for luxury that I have toiled to amass millions. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?” “To your own kind offer, monsieur, and the hope that you will help me in refuting this slander, and wreaking vengeance upon those who have ruined me.” “Oh! yes, I will help you in that to the full extent of my power,” exclaimed the baron.

But experience reminded him that confidential disclosures ought not to be made with the doors open, so he rose, shut them, and returning to Pascal, said: “Explain in what way I can be of service to you, monsieur.” It was not without many misgivings that Pascal had presented himself at the baron’s house, but after what he had heard he felt no further hesitation; he could speak with perfect freedom. “It is quite unnecessary for me to tell you, Monsieur le Baron,” he began, “that the cards which made me win were inserted in the pack by M. de Coralth--that is proven beyond question, and whatever the consequences may be, I shall have my revenge. you suppose----” “I don’t suppose--I am sure that M. She--loved me, and he saw that I was an obstacle. If I died, she might mourn for me--dishonored, she would spurn me----” “Is Valorsay so madly in love with the girl, then?” “I think he cares but very little for her.” “Then why----” “She is the heiress of several millions.” It was evident that this explanation did not shake Baron Trigault’s faith in his friend. “But the marquis has an income of a hundred and fifty or two hundred thousand francs,” said he; “that is an all-sufficient justification. The baron called out: “Come in,” and a valet appeared, and informed his master that the Marquis de Valorsay wished to speak with him. “I wish to prove to you that your suspicions are without foundation,” pursued the baron. “Rest assured that I shall prove this conclusively.

I will conduct the conversation in the form of a cross-examination, and after the marquis’s departure, you will be obliged to confess that you were wrong.” “Or you, that I am right?” “So be it. He was dressed with even more than usual care, and in perfect taste as well; moreover, his valet had surpassed himself in dressing his hair--for one would have sworn that his locks were still luxuriant. People have declared that it was my interest he should be beaten, and that I had an understanding with my jockey to that effect. It is a fact, however, that the story has been circulated everywhere, but in such a cautious manner that there is no way of calling the authors to account. They have even gone so far as to say that this piece of knavery brought me in an enormous sum, and that I used Rochecotte’s, Kervaulieu’s, and Coralth’s names in betting against my own horse.” The baron’s agitation was so great that M. Living in the same society with the Baroness Trigault, and knowing her story, he thought that Coralth’s name might, perhaps, have irritated the baron. my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable. My manager declares that the twenty-three thousand francs I won last year, cost me at least fifty thousand.” Was he boasting, or was he speaking the truth?

Does his income equal that sum? I begin to find a bachelor life not so very pleasant after all; there is rheumatism in prospect, and my digestion is becoming impaired--in short, I feel that it is time for marriage, baron; and--I am about to marry.” “You!” “Yes, I. It is true, however, that I have not been to the club for three days. I have made a wager with Kami-Bey, you know--that rich Turk--and as our sittings are eight or ten hours long, we play in his apartments at the Grand Hotel. “As if that would make any difference to me!” he exclaimed.

Add to this that I have promised her fifty thousand francs to dry her tears with on my wedding-day, and you will understand that she really longs to see me married.” “I understand,” replied the baron; “Ninette Simplon won’t trouble you. But I can’t understand why you should talk of economy on the eve of a marriage which will no doubt double your fortune; for I’m sure you won’t surrender your liberty without good and substantial reasons.” “You are mistaken.” “How mistaken?” “Well, I won’t hesitate to confess to you, my dear baron, that the girl I am about to marry hasn’t a penny of her own. then you adore your future bride!” “Adore only feebly expresses my feelings.” “I must be dreaming.” Valorsay shrugged his shoulders with the air of a man who has made up his mind to accept the banter of his friends; and in a tone of mingled sentimentality and irony, he said: “I know that it’s absurd, and that I shall be the laughing-stock of my acquaintances. How does it happen then that his daughter, even though she be his illegitimate child, should find herself penniless?” “A mere chance--a fatality. de Chalusse, after a thousand vain attempts, at last succeeded in finding her.” It was no longer on Pascal’s account, but on his own, that Baron Trigault listened with breathless attention. de Chalusse was in his turn obliged to start for Germany, having been informed that a sister of his, who had fled from the paternal roof with nobody knows who, had been seen there. It IS over!” Still his limbs trembled so much that he could not stand, and he sank on to a chair, murmuring: “I entreat you, marquis--continue. Having somehow ascertained that his wife had given birth to a child in his absence, he moved heaven and earth not only to discover the child, but its father also. But he watched her, or employed others to watch her, both day and night, convinced that she would finally commit some act of imprudence which would give him the clue he wanted. She soon discovered that her husband knew everything, and she warned M.

de Chalusse, thus saving his life.” It is not at all remarkable that the Marquis de Valorsay should have failed to see any connection between his narrative and the baron’s agitation. Another point that would have dispelled any suspicions on the marquis’s part was that he had found the baron greatly agitated on arriving, and that he now seemed to be gradually regaining his composure. The count was not very explicit when he reached this part of his story; but, in spite of his reticence, I learned that he had been tricked in his turn, that certain papers had been stolen from him, and that he had been defrauded in many ways by his inamorata. I also know that M. He felt a presentiment that he would die by this man’s hand. If he went out alone in the evening, which was an exceedingly rare occurrence, he turned the street corners with infinite caution; it seemed to him that he could always see the gleam of a poniard or a pistol in the shade. It was not until he had discovered that the husband had become discouraged and had discontinued his search, that the count began his.

How it is that he is allowed to prosecute his dishonorable calling I can’t understand; but it is none the less true that he does follow it, and without the slightest attempt at concealment, at an office he has on the Place de la Bourse.” This name and address were engraved upon the baron’s memory, never to be effaced. Pretending that the count had turned her from the path of duty, and destroyed her life and happiness, she lost no opportunity of tormenting him. And when the count announced his intention of legally adopting the child, in spite of her protests, she declared that, rather than allow it, she would confess everything to her husband.” “The count was a patient man,” sneered the baron. During the last few months of his life he obtained peace--that is to say, he bought it. de Valorsay so little that he quietly concluded by saying: “And this is the reason, baron, why my beloved Marguerite, the future Marquise de Valorsay, has no dowry.” The baron cast a look of positive anguish at the door of the smoking-room. He assumed the right to be brutal, ill-bred, cynical and bold; to be one of those persons who declare that folks must take them as they find them.

But his rudeness now was so thoroughly offensive that under any other circumstances the marquis would have resented it. “Good heavens!” he thought, “Valorsay is going to ask me for money.” In fact, he felt certain that the marquis’s pretended carelessness concealed real embarrassment, and that it was difficult for him to find the words he wanted. And now the wedding gifts, the two fetes that I propose giving, the repairs at Valorsay, and the honeymoon with my wife--all these things will cost a nice little sum.” “A nice little sum, indeed!” “Ah, well!

“Zounds!” he exclaimed in a half-grieved, half-petulant tone; “I haven’t the amount!” It was not disappointment that showed itself on the marquis’s face; it was absolute despair, quickly concealed. He felt certain that M. de Valorsay was financially ruined--and yet, as it did not suit his plans to refuse, he hastily added: “When I say I haven’t that amount, I mean that I haven’t got it on hand just at this moment. But I shall have it within forty-eight hours; and if you are at home at this time on the day after to-morrow, I will send you one of my agents, who will arrange the matter with you.” A moment before, the marquis had allowed his consternation to show itself; but this time he knew how to conceal the joy that filled his soul. So it was in the most indifferent manner, as if the affair were one of trivial importance, that he thanked the baron for being so obliging. A martyr to a passion that was stronger than reason itself, the victim of a fatal love which he had not been able to drive from his heart, Baron Trigault had passed many terrible hours, but never had he been so completely crushed as at this moment when chance revealed the secret which he had vainly pursued for years. “And she has extorted money from the Count de Chalusse,” he thought; “she sold him the right to adopt their own daughter.” And so strange are the workings of the human heart, that this circumstance, trivial in comparison with many others, drove the unfortunate baron almost frantic with rage. What did it avail him that he had become one of the richest men in Paris?

“Ah, you know what it is to love!” he exclaimed; and in a hollow voice, he added: “and thus it was that I loved Marguerite’s mother.” The breakfast-table had not been cleared, and a large decanter of water was still standing on it. It seemed to him that his own destiny was being decided in this man’s mind, that his whole future depended upon the determination he arrived at. Give me your hand--that’s right.

We will unmask Coralth, and we will crush Valorsay if we find that he is really the instigator of the infamous plot that ruined you.” “What, monsieur! “I am certain that my hundred thousand francs will be lost forever if I lend them to him. I would be willing to swear that he bet against his own horse and prevented the animal from winning, as he is accused of doing.” “You must see, then--” “Excuse me--all this does NOT explain the great discrepancy between your allegations and his story. You assure me that he cares nothing whatever for Mademoiselle Marguerite; he pretends that he adores her.” “Yes, monsieur, yes--the scoundrel dared to say so. Consequently, Mademoiselle Marguerite was still an heiress.” “That’s true; but the very day after the commission of the crime, the accomplices must have discovered that it could do them no good; so, why have they still persisted in their scheme?” Pascal tried to find a satisfactory answer, but failed.

“That is exactly what my mother told me.” “Ah! that’s Madame Ferailleur’s opinion? Mademoiselle Marguerite loved you, you say?” “Yes.” “And she has suddenly broken off the engagement?” “She wrote to me that the Count de Chalusse extorted from her a promise on his death-bed, that she would marry the Marquis de Valorsay.” The baron sprang to his feet. so Mademoiselle Marguerite has written to you that M. On the other hand, Valorsay pretends that Mademoiselle Marguerite is left without resources, simply because the count died too suddenly to be able to write or to sign a couple of lines. We must ascertain that point. Two scoundrels who league to ruin an honest man don’t sign a contract to that effect before a notary. “Yes!” he exclaimed, “yes; it is necessary that M. The marquis doesn’t know me, and I am sufficiently sure of myself to promise you that I will not betray my identity. The next moment a footman entered, and informed his master that a messenger wished to speak to him on urgent business.

How was it that a clever man like M. He felt certain, that under any other circumstances he would not have been dismissed so cavalierly. Wilkie had been compelled to attend to Pompier de Nanterre, that famous steeplechaser, of which he owned one-third part, and he had, moreover, to give orders to the jockey, whose lord and master he was to an equal extent. But it was a strong claim--a claim that justified the display of whips and spurs that decorated his apartments in the Rue du Helder, and allowed him to aspire to the character of a sporting man. Wilkie really imagined that folks were waiting for him at Vincennes; and that the fete would not be complete without his presence. Still, when he presented himself inside the enclosure, a cigar in his mouth, and his racing card dangling from his button-hole, he was obliged to confess that his entrance did not create much of a sensation.

People were eagerly discussing the Marquis de Valorsay’s sudden determination to pay forfeit and withdraw his horses from the contest; and the best informed declared that in the betting-rooms the evening before he had openly announced his intention of selling his racing stable. If the marquis had hoped that by adopting this course he would silence the suspicions which had been aroused, he was doomed to grievous disappointment. The rumor that he had secretly bet against his own horse, Domingo, on the previous Sunday, and that he had given orders not to let the animal win the race, was steadily gaining credence.

Some declared that they had seen the jockey hold Domingo back; and they insisted that it was necessary to make an example, and disqualify both the marquis and his jockey. “But people said exactly the same of Croisenois, of the Duc de H., and Baron P., who were finally convicted of the same rascality that Valorsay is accused of.” “It’s an infamous slander! That’s no reason whatever.” Like all gamblers, the frequenters of the turf are distrustful and inclined to be quarrelsome.

de Valorsay had said nothing of the kind, for the very good reason that he did not even know Wilkie by sight; still, no one paid much heed to the assertion, whereat Wilkie felt vexed, and resolved to turn his attention to his jockey. Although he made them pay him a very high salary--something like eight thousand francs a year--on the plea that it was most repugnant to his feelings to act as a groom, trainer, and jockey at the same time, he regularly every month presented them with fabulous bills from the grain merchant, the veterinary surgeon, and the harness-maker. In addition, he regularly sold Pompier’s oats in order to obtain liquor, and in fact the poor animal was so nearly starved that he could scarcely stand on his legs. He had made them believe, and they in turn had made many others believe, that Pompier de Nanterre would certainly win such and such a race; and, trusting in this fallacious promise, they risked their money on the poor animal--and lost it. In the first place, he judged, with no little reason, that it was dangerous to leap hurdles on such an animal as Pompier; and, secondly, nothing irritated him so much as to be obliged to promenade with his three employers in turn. But how could he refuse, since he knew that if these young men hired him, it was chiefly, or only in view of, displaying themselves in his company. They were firmly convinced that he reflected enormous credit upon them, and their hearts swelled with joy at the thought of the envy they no doubt inspired. And how great his delight was when, as he passed through the crowd, he heard people exclaim: “That gentleman has a racing stable. poor Pompier de Nanterre fell exhausted before half the distance was accomplished; and that evening Wilkie described his defeat, with a profusion of technical terms that inspired the uninitiated with the deepest awe.

He saw himself the possessor of a magnificent stud, of sufficient wealth to gratify every fancy; he would splash mud upon all the passers-by, and especially upon his former acquaintances, as he dashed past them in his superb equipage; the best tailor should invent astonishing garments for him; he would make himself conspicuous at all the first performances in a stage-box, with the most notorious women in Paris; his fetes would be described in the papers; he would be the continual subject of comment; he would be credited with splendid, perfect “form.” It is true that M. de Coralth had promised him all this, without a word of explanation; but what did that matter? By the way in which he spoke of him, it might have been supposed that they had been friends from their childhood, or, at least, that they had known each other for years. Their acquaintance dated only seven or eight months back, and their first meeting had apparently been the result of chance; though it is needless to say, perhaps, that this chance had been carefully prepared by M. From that moment the conquest was assured; for M.

de Coralth possessed in an eminent degree all the attributes that were likely to dazzle and charm the gifted owner of Pompier de Nanterre. He was sure, perfectly sure, that he had made a very long sea voyage when only a little child, and he looked upon America as his birthplace. The English word “father” was among those that lingered in his memory; and now, after a lapse of twenty years, he pronounced it without the least foreign accent. But while he remembered the word perfectly well, no recollection remained to him of the person he had called by that name. He thought he must have been about four years old at that time.

The visitor held a long conference with his mother, or, at least, with the person whom he called by that name. Give me courage, my God!” Those were the exact words; Wilkie was sure on that point. It seemed to him he could still hear that despairing farewell. According to his calculation, he was just ten years old when, one Sunday, toward the end of October, a grave-looking, red-whiskered gentleman, clad in solemn black with a white necktie, presented himself at the school, and declared that he had been instructed by Wilkie’s relatives to place him in a college to continue his education. Patterson--for that was the gentleman’s name--from taking him to the college of Louis-the-Great, where he was entered as a boarder. Wilkie now hoped that his pockets would be filled, and that he would then be set at liberty. To use a familiar expression, “It went in through one ear and came out through the other.” Only two facts had made an impression upon him: that he was to be his own master henceforth, and that he had a fortune at his command.

Wilkie had taken the trouble to attentively examine the rooms which had suddenly become his own, he would perhaps have recognized the fact that a loving hand had prepared them for his reception. Wilkie was obliged to confess to them that this was his first taste of liberty, and that he scarcely knew what to do with himself. Of course his friends assured him that they could quickly make him acquainted with the only life that it was worth while living; and, to prove it, they accepted the invitation to dinner which he immediately offered them.

He swore that he would win a place in their midst, and an influential place too. But it was easier to form this plan than to carry it into execution, as he discovered when, at the end of the month, he counted his money to see what remained of the five thousand francs that had been given him for his quarterly allowance. Wilkie discovered that he should never succeed in making both ends meet.

Everybody knows that they have no property; they do nothing, and yet they are reckless in their expenditures, and rail at work and jeer at economy. “Not I--I’m not that sort of a person, as I’ll soon let them know.” And thereupon he wrote to M. By return of post that gentleman sent him a cheque for one thousand francs--a mere drop in the bucket. From that day forward, his life was spent in demanding money and waiting for it. He employed in quick succession every pretext that could soften the hearts of obdurate relatives, or find the way to the most closely guarded cash-box. And in accordance with the favorable or unfavorable character of the replies his manner became humble or impertinent, so that his friends soon learned to judge very accurately of the condition of his purse by the way he wore his mustaches. He became wise with experience, however; and on adding all the sums he had received together, he decided that his family must be very rich to allow him so much money.

He finally persuaded himself that he was the son of a great English nobleman--a member of the House of Lords, who was twenty times a millionaire.

And he more than half believed it when he told his creditors that his lordship, his father, would some day or other come to Paris and pay all his debts.

Wilkie’s noble father that arrived, but a letter from M. Not a penny remains in my possession--so that my instructions have been fulfilled. He felt that M.

His creditors were becoming uneasy; bills actually rained in upon his concierge; his next quarterly allowance was not due for some time to come, and it was only through the pawnbroker that he could obtain money for his more pressing requirements.

He was in the depths of despair, when one morning his servant woke him up with the announcement that the Viscount de Coralth was in the sitting-room and wished to speak with him on very important business. That would be a piece of grand good luck and no mistake. And the influence that had made him rise betimes in the present case had indeed been extremely powerful. It was certainly not from any delicacy of feeling that he had held his peace; but only because it had not been for his interest to speak. He heard of the catastrophe at his club on the evening after the count’s death, and his emotion was so great that he actually declined to take part in a game of baccarat that was just beginning. From what I know of her, I am inclined to think that she won’t. Will she ever go to Wilkie and confess that she, Lia d’Argeles, is a Chalusse, and that he is her illegitimate son? Just now he was cunning enough to find a means of procuring the thirty or forty thousand francs a year that were indispensable to his comfort; but he had not a farthing laid by, and the vein of silver he was now working might fail him at any moment.

He passionately longed for a more assured position--for a little capital that would insure him his bread until the end of his days, and rid him of the grim phantom of poverty forever. And it was this desire which inspired him with the same plan that M. “If I present him with a fortune, the simpleton ought certainly to give me some reward.” But to carry this plan into execution it would be necessary to brave Madame d’Argeles’s anger; and that was attended by no little danger. Still, after weighing all the advantages and all the dangers, he decided to act, convinced that Madame d’Argeles might be kept ignorant of his treason, providing he only played his cards skilfully. Wilkie was caused by a fear that he might not be the only person knowing the truth, and that some one else might forestall him. “It was solely on your account that I deviated from my usual habits.” “What is it? Wilkie’s face turned from white to purple at least three times in ten seconds; and it was in a strangely altered voice that he replied: “Ah! that’s good--very good--excellent!” He tried his best to laugh, but he was completely overcome; and, in fact, he had cherished so many extravagant hopes that nothing seemed impossible to him. It was easy to divine the conflict that was raging in his mind, between the hope that the news was true and the fear of being made the victim of a practical joke.

That wouldn’t be polite. What would you give a man who--” “I would give him half of the fortune he gave me.” “That’s too much!” “No, no!” He was in earnest, certainly. It is afterward, when the day of settlement comes, that people begin to find fault with the rate of interest. “If I tell you that one-half is too much, it is because such is really the case. “It is not fitting that I should fix upon the indemnity which is due to me. I lost no time in coming to you, so that I might put you on your guard.

“Monday, so be it!” said he; “but swear that you are not deceiving me.” “What, do you still doubt me?” M. Wilkie, saying: “Monsieur believes me now, does he not?” As will be readily believed, it was not for his own pleasure that M. He knew Wilkie perfectly well, and felt that it was dangerous to let him roam about Paris with half of an important secret. It was to the house of his formidable associate that he repaired on leaving M.

Wilkie; and in a single breath he told the marquis all that he knew, and the plans that he had formed. de Valorsay’s astonishment must have been intense when he heard that Lia d’Argeles was a Chalusse, but he knew how to maintain his composure. And shrugging his shoulders, he added: “Observe that I don’t reproach you in the least.

de Coralth’s eyes, the marquis must have realized that his companion was disposed to rebel; still this knowledge did not seem to disquiet him, for it was in the same icy tone that he continued: “Besides, your plans, far from conflicting with mine, will be of service to me. If she hesitates, her son will compel her to urge her claims, will he not?” “Oh, you may rest assured of that.” “And when he becomes rich, will you be able to retain your influence over him?” “Rich or poor, I can mould him like wax.” “Very good. The Fondeges think they can outwit me, but we shall soon see about that.” The viscount was watching his companion stealthily; as the latter perceived, and so in a tone of brusque cordiality, he resumed: “Excuse me for not keeping you to breakfast, but I must go out immediately--Baron Trigault is waiting for me at his house.

Is it my fault that the fool has squandered his fortune? The lawyer whom he consulted replied that, at all events, a reasonable compensation would most probably be granted by the courts, in case of any difficulty; and he suggested a little plan which was a chef d’oeuvre in its way, at the same time advising his client to strike the iron while it was hot. How did it happen that this young man had been just on the spot ready to pick up Wilkie’s hat?

Thus it was not strange if some one had set a snare for him; it was rather a miracle that he had not fallen into one before. The dangers that threatened him were so formidable that he was almost tempted to relinquish his attack on Madame d’Argeles. He could concoct some story for Wilkie’s benefit, and that would be the end of it. “Let us say but little, and that to the point,” he remarked on entering. “The secret I am about to reveal to you will make you rich; but it might ruin me if it were known that you obtained this information through me. It is scarcely necessary for me to add that if you break your faith you are a dead man. You know how I handle a sword; and don’t forget it.” His manner was so threatening that Wilkie shuddered. de Coralth; “but you must reply that you received the information through one of Mr. Now let us sign our formal contract in lieu of the temporary one you gave me the other day.” It is needless to say that Wilkie signed it eagerly. Not so the viscount; he read the document through carefully, before appending his signature, and then exclaimed: “The estate that belongs to you is that of the Count de Chalusse, your uncle.

Wilkie’s excited gestures, by the glitter in his eyes, it might have been supposed that this wonderful good fortune was too much for him, and that he was going mad. “I knew that I belonged to a noble family,” he began. “Yes, your mother is the sister of the Count de Chalusse, and it is through her that you are an heir to the estate. This man knew that she, Lia d’Argeles, was really a Durtal de Chalusse. It is true this man Fortunat had declared that his visit was entirely disinterested. He had pretended that his regard for the Chalusse family, and the compassion aroused in his heart by the unfortunate plight of Mademoiselle Marguerite, were the only motives that has influenced him in taking this step. I was foolish to send him away like that!

It occurred to her that M. Fortunat could not have gone very far; so that, if she sent for him to come back, she might perhaps be able to repair her blunder.

Without losing a second, she rushed downstairs, and ordered her concierge and a servant to run after the gentleman who had just left the house, and ask him to return; to tell him that she had reflected, and wished to speak to him again. “It doesn’t matter,” faltered Madame d’Argeles, in a tone that belied her words. Fortunat had left his card--that is to say, his address--and it would have been an easy matter to send a servant to his house. She was strongly tempted to do so; but she ultimately decided that it would be better to wait--that an hour more or less would make but little difference. And so she waited for his coming in breathless anxiety; and the more she reflected, the more imminent her peril seemed, for she realized that M. “If I had only been courageous enough to reply that I knew absolutely nothing about the person he spoke of.

then he would have gone away convinced that he was mistaken.” But would the smooth-spoken visitor have declared that he knew everything, if he had not really penetrated the mystery of her life? So this man, this Isidore Fortunat, knew that she had a son.

“That’s Job!” she said to herself. He had visited every place where there was the least probability of finding the baron, and he was everywhere told that Baron Trigault had not been seen for several days. “In that case, you ought to have gone to his house. “Madame knows that the baron is never at home. It had been agreed between them that they should play until one or the other had lost five hundred thousand francs; and, in order to prevent any waste of “precious time,” as the baron was wont to remark, they neither of them stirred from the Grand Hotel, where Kami-Bey had a suite of rooms.

“I only returned to inform madame that I had so far been unsuccessful,” said Job. “But I will recommence the search at once.” “That is unnecessary,” replied Madame d’Argeles. “The baron will undoubtedly drop in this evening, after dinner, as usual.” She said this, and tried her best to believe it; but in her secret heart she felt that she could no longer depend upon the baron’s assistance. Ruin seemed so inevitable that she no longer thought of avoiding it; she awaited it with that blind resignation displayed by Spanish women, who, when they hear the roll of thunder, fall upon their knees, convinced that lightning is about to strike their defenceless heads.

It was past mid-day when he returned, but his face was radiant; and it was in a triumphant voice that he announced: “Monsieur le Baron Trigault.” Madame d’Argeles sprang up, and greeted the baron with a joyful exclamation. She had hoped that the baron would be able to alleviate her wretchedness, but it seemed as if he were fated to increase it. “Why do you look at me like that?” she asked, anxiously. “You know that I have been infamously duped and deceived, that the happiness of my life has been destroyed by a scoundrel who tempted the wife I so fondly loved to forget her duty, and trample her honor under foot. As I have often told you, I was sure that my wife became a mother in my absence.

I sought the child for years, hoping that through the offspring I might discover the father. She so often had heard him give vent to his rage and despair in terrible threats, that she could not believe he would be thus resigned. However, he continued, “It is thus that destiny makes us its sport--it is thus that it laughs at our plans. How could I imagine when I rescued you that I was saving my greatest enemy’s sister from suicide--the sister of the man whom I was vainly pursuing? it was this--yes, it was this that Madame d’Argeles had dreaded. you know very well that I shall not do what I said. Don’t you know me better than that? Are you not sure of my affection, are you not aware that you are sacred in my eyes?” He was evidently striving hard to master his emotion. I knew when I sent for you that I should not appeal to your heart in vain!” She took hold of his hand as if to raise it to her lips; but he gently withdrew it, and inquired, with an air of astonishment: “What do you mean?” “That I have been cruelly punished for not wishing you to assist that unfortunate man who was dishonored here the other evening.” “Pascal Ferailleur?” “Yes, he is innocent.

You were cruel enough to remain silent when that innocent man entreated you to testify on his behalf! I did not know that the young man was beloved by my brother’s daughter--I did not know--” The baron interrupted her, and exclaimed, indignantly: “Ah! what does that matter?

I submitted to a will that was stronger than my own.

“The wretch knows through Coralth that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse,” he said to himself; “and when Mademoiselle Marguerite has become his wife, he intends to oblige Madame d’Argeles to accept her brother’s estate and share it with him.” At that same moment Madame d’Argeles finished her narrative. de Coralth will speak out as soon as he finds that I have revealed his shameful past.” “Let him speak.” Madame d’Argeles shuddered.

Patterson to summon your son to England, under any pretext whatever; let him pretend that he wishes to give him some money, for instance. Coralth certainly won’t run after him, and we shall have nothing more to fear on that score.” “Great heavens!” murmured Madame d’Argeles, “why did this idea never occur to me?” The baron had now completely recovered his composure. You make no opposition, and next week we shall have flaming posters on all the walls, telling Paris that the furniture, wardrobe, cashmeres, laces, and diamonds of Madame Lia d’Argeles will be sold without reserve, at public auction, in the Rue Drouot, with the view of satisfying the claims of her creditors. She was a good creature.’ ‘Oh, excellent; a deal of amusement could be found at her house,--only between you and me----’ ‘Well?’ ‘Well, she was no longer young.’ ‘That’s true. And what made it all the more frightful was, that he did not seem to be in the least degree conscious of the cruelty of his words.

Indeed, he continued, in a tone of bitter irony: “Of course, you will have an exhibition before the sale, and you will see all the dolls that hairdressers, milliners and fools call great ladies, come running to the show. Then the papers will take up the refrain; they will give an account of your financial difficulties, and tell the public what you paid for your pictures.” It was with a sort of terror-stricken curiosity that Madame d’Argeles watched the baron. I know five or six journalists; and it would be very strange if I could not convince one of them that you had died upon an hospital pallet. Before that time has elapsed you will have succeeded in accumulating the necessary proofs of your identity, and then you can assert your claims and take possession of your brother’s estate.” Madame d’Argeles sprang to her feet. “What!” he stammered; “you will relinquish the millions that are legally yours, to the government?” “Yes--I am resolved--it must be so.” “Will you sacrifice your son’s future in this style?” “No, it isn’t in my power to do that; but Wilkie will do so, later, on, I’m sure of it.” “But this is simply folly.” A feverish agitation had now succeeded Madame d’Argeles’s torpor; there was an expression of scorn and anger on her rigid features, and her eyes, usually so dull and lifeless, fairly blazed. I have told you with perfect frankness everything concerning my past life, save this--this--that I am married, Monsieur le Baron, legally married. I am bound by a chain that nothing can break, and my husband is a scoundrel. For I loved him, alas!--even to madness--loved him so much that I forgot self, family, honor, and all the most sacred duties. I loved him so madly that I was willing to follow him, while his hands were still wet with my brother’s blood.

He only saw in me the fortune that I was to inherit. I will give you back your liberty, and then we can each of us be happy in our own way.’ It was for this reason that he wished to marry me. But I took a solemn oath that he should never have a farthing of the wealth he coveted, and neither threats nor BLOWS could compel me to assert my claim. I am sure of that, my presentiments never deceive me. I would rather see Wilkie die of starvation before my very eyes!” Madame d’Argeles spoke in that tone of concentrated rage which betrays years of repressed passion and unflinching resolution. She possessed the distinguishing characteristic of her family in a remarkable degree--that proverbial Chalusse obstinacy which Madame Vantrasson had alluded to in her conversation with M. But now I would dig the ground with my own hands, rather than give him a louis that came from you.

It is certain that I am no longer what I was yesterday. This trouble has torn away the bandage that covered my eyes. But I might have rehabilitated myself through him, and now he will perhaps be dishonored through me.” Her breathing came short and hard, and it was in a choked voice that she continued: “Wilkie shall work for me and for himself. It shall never be said that I sacrificed the honor of a noble name and the happiness of my brother’s child to my son. “That’s no doubt right,” said he. “Only allow me to tell you that all is not lost yet. I made inquiries on the subject years ago, and I was told that it would be impossible. I know that you would not advise me rashly;--but don’t delay. “If he has any evil designs, a visit or a letter from you would only hasten them.” By the way Madame d’Argeles shook her head, it was easy to see that she had very little hope.

It’s true that I am now a winner to the tune of two hundred and eighty thousand francs.” He settled his hat firmly on his head, and opening the door, he added: “Good-by, my dear madame, I will soon see you again, and in the meantime don’t deviate in the least from your usual habits. Our success depends, in a great measure, upon the fancied security of our enemies!” Madame d’Argeles considered this advice so sensible that half an hour later she went out for her daily drive in the Bois, little suspecting that M. She incurred such a risk of awakening suspicion by wandering about near her son’s home that she seldom allowed herself that pleasure, but sometimes her anxiety overpowered her reason. On returning home, she felt so ill that she was obliged to go to bed. She shivered with cold, and yet the blood that flowed in her veins seemed to her like molten lead. The physician who was summoned declared that her illness was a mere trifle, but prescribed rest and quiet.

And as he was a very discerning man, he added, not without a malicious smile, that any excess is injurious--excess of pleasure as well as any other. Still, fearing that this seclusion might seem a little strange, she ordered her concierge to tell any visitors that she had gone into the country, and would not return until her usual reception-day. Madame d’Argeles read in his eyes that he was the bearer of good news. For he had the impudence to come, in order to dispel any suspicions that might have been aroused anent his complicity in the card-cheating affair. He was so anxious and undecided, that instead of mingling with the groups of talkers, he at once took a seat at the card-table, whence he could watch the poor woman’s every movement. She took it, glanced at it, and uttered so harsh, so terrible, so heart-broken a cry, that several of the guests sprang to their feet. One curious guest, without a thought of harm, tried to take the card, which she still held in her clinched hand; but she repulsed him with such an imperious gesture that he recoiled in terror. The Viscount de Coralth devoted himself to this task, and burdened Wilkie with such a host of injunctions, that it was quite evident he had but a poor opinion of his pupil’s sagacity. “That woman d’Argeles,” he thought, “is as sharp as steel.

Wilkie, who, feeling that he was being treated like a child, somewhat testily declared that he was no fool, and that he knew how to take care of himself as well as any one else. de Coralth from persisting in his instructions until he was persuaded that he had prepared his pupil for all possible emergencies.

“That’s all, I think,” he remarked, with a shade of uneasiness. “Lose no time.” “There’s no danger of that.” “And understand, that whatever happens, my name is not to be mentioned.” “Yes, yes.” “If there should be any new revelations, I will inform you.” “At the club?” “Yes, but don’t be uneasy; the affair is as good as concluded.” “I hope so, indeed.” Wilkie gave a sigh of relief as he saw his visitor depart. He wished to be alone, so as to brood over the delights that the future had in store for him.

And a gleam of envy that he had detected in M. The reputation that Madame d’Argeles bore had at first cast a shadow over his joy; but this shadow had soon vanished. He had been quite shocked by the suggestion that Madame d’Argeles might try to deny him, and he wished to appear before her in the most advantageous light. that’s quite unnecessary. de Coralth, who had advised him not to send in his name, but to gain admission into Madame d’Argeles’s presence as speedily as possible, without giving her time to prepare herself for the interview; and Wilkie had ultimately decided that these precautions might not prove as superfluous as he had at first supposed. “Madame has not yet returned,” said the concierge, who knew that his mistress had only just risen from her bed, “but I don’t think it will be long. Wilkie brusquely, and he was going off in a furious passion, when, on crossing the street, he chanced to turn his head and notice that the reception rooms were brilliantly lighted up. I think that a very shabby trick!” grumbled the intelligent youth. “They won’t succeed in playing that game on me again. Why, she’s there now!” It occurred to him that Madame d’Argeles had perhaps described him to her servants, and had given them strict orders not to admit him.

“I’ll find out if that is the case, even if I have to wait here until to-morrow morning,” he thought, angrily. Wilkie realized that his idea was really an excellent one. The air of luxury that pervaded the entire establishment, the liveried servants, the lights and flowers, all impressed him much more deeply than he would have been willing to confess.

And in spite of his affected arrogance, he felt that the superb assurance which was the dominant trait in his character was deserting him. For the first time it occurred to him that this woman, whose peace he had come to destroy, was not only the heiress of the Count de Chalusse’s millions, but also his mother, that is to say, the good fairy whose protection had followed him everywhere since he entered the world. The thought that he was about to commit an atrocious act entered his mind, but he drove it away. She felt that her salvation depended upon her calmness, and she had succeeded in appearing calm, haughty, and disdainful--as impassive as if she had been a statue. For he had imagined that Madame d’Argeles would be like other women he had known, but not at all.

Do you dare to pretend that you don’t know?” She looked at him with admirably feigned astonishment, glanced despairingly at the ceiling, shrugged her shoulders, and replied: “Most certainly I don’t know--unless indeed it be a wager.” “A wager!” M.

This morning, a man with whom you are well acquainted, assured me that I was--your son.

I was completely stunned at first, but after a while I recovered sufficiently to call here, and found that you had gone out.” He was interrupted by a nervous laugh from Madame d’Argeles. Madame d’Argeles’s laugh had an unnatural ring that awakened his suspicions. All Coralth’s recommendations buzzed confusedly in his ears, and he judged that the moment had come “to do the sentimental,” as he would have expressed it.

if---- But I only have friends while my money lasts.” He wiped his eyes, dry as they were, with his handkerchief, and in a still more pathetic tone, resumed: “Not that I want for anything; I receive a very handsome allowance. But you were not deserted, Wilkie; don’t say that. Know, then, that for years and years I have seen you every day, and that all my thoughts and all my hopes are centered in you alone! I said to myself that you, my pride and joy, would move freely and proudly far above me and my shame. I accepted ignominy, so that your honor might be preserved intact. I renounced all hope for myself, and I consecrated all that was noble and generous in my nature to you. And for more than a minute the silence was so profound that one could hear the sound of low conversation in the hall outside, the exclamations of the players as they greeted each unexpected turn of luck, and occasionally a cry of “Banco!” or “I stake one hundred louis!” Standing silent and motionless near the window, Wilkie gazed with consternation at Madame d’Argeles, his mother, who was crouching in the middle of the room with her face hidden in her hands, and sobbing as if her heart would break.

It was not emotion that he felt, but an instinctive fear mingled with commiseration. He shuddered at the thought that some one might come in. I shall do so, of course; but I shall have to get used to it, you know.” “True, very true!--but tell me it is not mere pity that leads you to make this promise? To be reduced to such a state of abject misery that one dares not lift one’s head before one’s own son!

Wilkie, I know only too well that you cannot help despising me.” “No, indeed. What an idea!” “Tell me that you forgive me!” “I do, upon my word I do.” Poor woman, her face brightened. And her son was beside her, so near that she felt his breath upon her cheek. It was with a sort of ecstasy that she looked at him. He flattered himself that he was a man of mettle--and he remained as cold as ice beneath his mother’s kisses. When I entered this room, I was firmly resolved to convince you, no matter how, that you had been deceived.

God knows that it was not my fault if I did not succeed. There are some sacrifices that are above human strength.” M. One might have supposed that the strangeness of her son’s expressions would have surprised her--have enlightened her in regard to his true character--but no. She only saw and understood one thing--that he had no intention of casting her off, but was indeed ready to devote himself to her. My connections in England are such that you need not fear the obstacles one generally meets with among foreigners. Patterson, who manages a large manufacturing establishment, will, I know, be happy to be of service to us--but we shall not be indebted to any one for long, now that you have resolved to work.” On hearing these words, M. Well, to tell the truth, that doesn’t suit me at all.” It was impossible to mistake M. what did you dare to hope?” And, without giving him time to reply, she continued: “Then it was only idle curiosity that brought you here. One louis out of every hundred that change hands falls to my share.

“Fool!” continued Madame d’Argeles, “did nothing warn you that in coming here you would deprive yourself forever of the income you received? Did no inward voice tell you that all would be changed when you compelled me, Lia d’Argeles, to say, ‘Well, yes, it is true; you are my son?’ So long as you did not know who and what I was, I had a mother’s right to watch over you. But now that you know me, and know what I am, I can do nothing more for you--nothing! What do you take me for?” This repugnance was sincere; there could be no doubt of that, and it seemed to give Madame d’Argeles a ray of hope. In that case, my poor child,” she said aloud, “you must see that a new life is about to commence for you. He was always telling me that I was spoiling you, and ruining your future by giving you so much money. Do you know that you have spent more than fifty thousand francs during the past two years?

To think that any one should dare to attack his friends, his tastes, and his pleasures. that’s really too good! The blow was so terrible that Madame d’Argeles staggered beneath it. Still, she accepted it without rebellion, although it was in a tone of heart-broken anguish that she replied: “Perhaps I have no right to tell you the truth. I hope the future will prove that I am wrong. Pray Heaven that you may never know what it is to be hungry and to have no bread.” For some time already the ingenious young man had shown unmistakable signs of impatience.

That’s plain enough, I hope.” Madame d’Argeles did not wince. That maternal confidence which is so strong in the hearts of mothers vanished from Madame d’Argeles’s for ever. It was not his mother’s, but the Count de Chalusse’s estate that he claimed. so you’ve heard of that,” she said, in a tone of bitter irony. How much have you promised to pay him in case of success?” Although Wilkie prided himself on being very clever, he did not pretend to be a diplomatist, and, indeed, he was greatly disconcerted by this question; still, recovering himself, he replied: “It doesn’t matter how I obtained the information--whether I paid for it, or whether it cost me nothing--but I know that you are a Chalusse, and that you are the heiress of the count’s property, which is valued at eight or ten millions of francs.

To receive this fortune, I should be obliged to confess that Lia d’Argeles is a Chalusse--and that is a confession which no consideration whatever will wring from me.” She imagined that this declaration would silence and discomfit Wilkie, but she was mistaken. So he shrugged his shoulders, and coolly replied: “In that case we should remain poor, and the government would take possession of our millions. I will show you that this estate can never be yours. But I will deny that you are. I will declare upon oath that you are nothing to me, and that I don’t even know you.” But even this did not daunt Wilkie. But she felt that this Article 341 would no doubt destroy her last hope; for the person who had chosen this weapon from the code to place it in Wilkie’s hand must have chosen it carefully. And though it was not her son who had conceived this odious plot, it was more than enough to know that he had consented to carry it into execution. But, under the circumstances, she realized that any effort in this direction would prove unavailing. So it was purely from a sense of duty and to prevent her conscience from reproaching her that she exclaimed: “So you will apply to the courts in order to constrain me to acknowledge you as my son?” “If you are not reasonable----” “That is to say, you care nothing for the scandal that will be created by such a course.

“One would suppose, to hear you talk, that you were the greatest criminal in the world. Break loose from this life to-morrow, assume your rightful name, install yourself at the Hotel de Chalusse, and in a week from now no one will remember that you were once known as Lia d’Argeles.

Folks do not trouble themselves as to whether a person has done this or that; the essential thing is to have plenty of money. So believe me when I tell you that it will be much better for you if you acknowledge me without any fuss! He is still watching, you may be sure of that; and as soon as there is any talk of a law-suit respecting the Chalusse property, you will see him appear, armed with his rights. “No.” “What does he do?” “Everything that a man can do when he has a taste for luxury and a horror for work.” This reply was so explicit in its brevity, and implied so many terrible accusations, that Wilkie was dismayed. He knew what he had to expect from such a father as that. Instead of doing that--as you hate me--you compel me to make the affair public, so that my father will hear of it and defraud me of everything. So taking advantage of a heavy loss, he rose from the table, swearing that the beastly turmoil of a few moments before had changed the luck.

At that moment rage was imparting a truly frightful intonation to M. He arrived only just in time to fell Wilkie to the floor, and save Madame d’Argeles from that most terrible of humiliations: the degradation of being struck by her own son. By what right do you meddle with my affairs?” “By the right that every honest man possesses to chastise a cowardly rascal.” M. You must mend your manners a little, you old----” The word he uttered was so vile that no man could fail to resent it, much less the baron, who was already frantic with passion.

His faced turned as purple as if he were stricken with apoplexy, and such furious rage gleamed in his eyes that Madame d’Argeles was frightened. Jacques--that was the name of the man who had brought him cakes and toys in the comfortable rooms where he had remained only a few days. “Ah, ha!” he exclaimed, with a laugh that was at once both ferocious and idiotic. The worthy youth was frightened--so terribly frightened that his teeth chattered. “Louder--speak up better than that.

She had endured so much during the past hour that her strength was exhausted, and she had fallen back in her arm-chair in a deep swoon.

The baron waited for a moment, and seeing that her eyes remained obstinately closed, he exclaimed: “This is your work, wretch!” And lifting him again, as easily as if he had been a child, he set him on his feet, saying in a calmer tone, but in one that admitted of no reply: “Arrange your clothes and go.” This advice was not unnecessary. He had lost his cravat, his shirt-front was crumpled and torn, and his waistcoat--one of those that open to the waist and are fastened by a single button--hung down in the most dejected manner. He went out into the hall, and holding the door open, in a way that would enable him to close it at the shortest notice, he shouted back, so as to be heard by all the servants: “Yes; I will have satisfaction.

Is it any fault of mine that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse, and that she wishes to defraud me of my fortune. “And I believed that my sin was expiated,” she pursued. Fool that I was! “Do you suppose that my heart hasn’t pleaded for him?” she said. you try to make me believe that? ‘You know, even better than I, baron, that this is impossible. It was only toward the close of the interview, and after an unexpected revelation from me, that he lost all control over himself. The thought that he would lose my brother’s millions crazed him.

that fatal and accursed money! By this one circumstance I am convinced that his adviser is a man of experience in such matters--in other words, the business agent----” “What business agent?” inquired the baron.

if I thought that!” she exclaimed. “So you are persuaded that it is personal vengeance that I am pursuing?” said he. “You think that fear of ridicule and public odium prevents me from striking M. de Coralth in my own name, and that I am endeavoring to find some other excuse to crush him.

“Besides,” continued the baron, “you ought to know that when I make such a statement I have some better foundation for it than mere conjecture. It was to some purpose that I watched M.

When the servant handed you that card he turned extremely pale. His agitation and preoccupation were so marked as to attract attention; and one acquaintance laughingly inquired if he were ill, while another jestingly remarked that he had dined and wined a little too much. With a single word I could have wrung a confession from him.” This explanation was so plausible that Madame d’Argeles felt half convinced. if you had only spoken that word!” she murmured. That very night, indeed, it was currently reported at the clubs that there would be no more card-playing at the d’Argeles establishment, as that lady was a Chalusse, and consequently the aunt of the beautiful young girl whom M. Yet such was the heroism that Marguerite, although scarcely twenty, displayed when she left the Hotel de Chalusse to accept the hospitality of the Fondege family. “Shall I be a coward?” she thought; “shall I be unworthy of Pascal?” And she resolutely entered the carriage, mentally exclaiming: “The die is cast!” The General insisted that she should take a place beside Madame de Fondege on the back seat; while he found a place next to Madame Leon on the seat facing them. My employer said that the bill had been standing a long time already.” “What, scoundrel!” But Madame de Fondege, who was on the point of entering the house, suddenly stepped back, and drawing out her pocketbook, exclaimed: “That’s enough! Here are thirty-five francs.” The man went to his carriage lamp to count the money, and seeing that he had the exact amount--“And my gratuity?” he asked. Tell the cook that I have some guests to dine with me.

See that M. “We are the cause of all this disturbance, and I am very sorry for it.” The retort that rose to the housekeeper’s lips was checked by the return of Madame de Fondege, followed by a servant-girl with a turn-up nose, a pert manner, and who carried a lighted candle in her hand. Gustave slept here?” “I know it; but madame must remember that I have been very much hurried this last month, having to do all the washing and ironing since the laundress----” “That’s sufficient,” interrupted Madame de Fondege. de Valorsay’s orders bound her to Marguerite, and she deemed it fortunate that she was allowed to follow her. Without knowing exactly what the General and his wife expected from Mademoiselle Marguerite, she was shrewd enough to divine that they hoped to gain some important advantage. And being quite ready to play a double part as the spy of the Marquis de Valorsay, and the Fondege family, and quite willing to espouse the latter’s cause should that prove to be the more remunerative course, she saw a long series of polite attentions and gifts before her. That very evening her prophecies were realized; and she received a proof of consideration which positively delighted her. It was decided that she should take her meals at the family table, a thing which had never happened at the Hotel de Chalusse. Madame Leon in no wise doubted but this favor was due to her merit alone, but Mademoiselle Marguerite, who was more discerning, saw that their hostess was really furious at the idea, but was compelled to submit to it by the imperious necessity of preventing Madame Leon from coming in contact with the servants, who might make some decidedly compromising disclosures. For instance, while the servants were carrying the luggage upstairs, Marguerite discovered Madame de Fondege and her maid in close consultation, whispering with that volubility which betrays an unexpected and pressing perplexity.

“Is it possible,” she thought, “that they have no sheets to give us?” It did not take her long to discover the maid’s opinion of the establishment in which she served; for while she brandished her broom and duster, this girl, exasperated undoubtedly by the increase of work she saw in store for her, growled and cursed the old barrack where one was worked to death, where one never had enough to eat, and where the wages were always in arrears.

Mademoiselle Marguerite was doing her best to aid the maid, who was greatly surprised to find this handsome, queenly young lady so obliging, when Evariste, the same who had received warning an hour before, made his appearance, and announced in an insolent tone that “Madame la Comtesse was served.” For Madame de Fondege exacted this title. By a search in the family archives she had discovered--so she declared to her intimate friends--that she was the descendant of a noble family, and that one of her ancestors had held a most important position at the court of Francis I. Such was the display, indeed, that when Mademoiselle Marguerite took a seat at the table, between the General and his wife, and opposite Madame Leon, she asked herself if she had not been the victim of that dangerous optical delusion known as prejudice. She noticed that the supply of knives and forks was rather scanty; but many economical housewives keep most of their silver under lock and key; besides the china was very handsome and marked with the General’s monogram, surmounted by his wife’s coronet. “From this,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite, “I must infer that he usually goes hungry, and that this seems a positive feast to him.” In fact, he seemed bubbling over with contentment. It was only by a powerful effort that he restrained himself from indulging in various witticisms which would have been most unseemly in the presence of a poor girl who had just lost her father and all her hopes of fortune.

But he did forget himself so much as to say that the drive to the cemetery had whetted his appetite, and to address his wife as Madame Range-a-bord, a title which had been bestowed upon her by a sailor brother. On the contrary, he cared so little for his wife’s displeasure that, when the dessert was served, he turned to the servant, and, with a wink that Mademoiselle Marguerite noticed, “Evariste,” he ordered, “go to the wine-cellar, and bring me a bottle of old Bordeaux.” The valet, who had just received a week’s notice, was only too glad of an opportunity for revenge. Monsieur knows very well that neither the grocer nor the wine-merchant will trust him any longer.” M. “You know, my dear, that I don’t trust the key of my cellar to this lad. My relatives would never forgive me if I did not inform them of my change of residence.” This was the first time since she had been engaged by the Count de Chalusse, that the estimable “companion” had ever made any direct allusion to her relatives, and what is more, to relatives residing in Paris. She had previously only spoken of them in general terms, giving people to understand that her relatives had not been unfortunate like herself--that they still retained their exalted rank, though she had fallen, and that she found it difficult to decline the favors they longed to heap upon her. She seated herself on a sofa near the mantelpiece, and when Mademoiselle Marguerite had taken a chair opposite her, she began, “Now, my dear child, let us have a quiet talk.” Mademoiselle Marguerite expected some important communication, so that she was not a little surprised when Madame de Fondege resumed: “Have you thought about your mourning?” “About my mourning, madame?” “Yes. I saw one that would suit you well. You may think that a costume for deep mourning made with puffs would be a trifle LOUD, but that depends upon tastes.

“I must confess, madame, that from my infancy I have been in the habit of making almost all my dresses myself.” The General’s wife raised her eyes to Heaven in real or feigned astonishment. “Yourself!” she repeated four or five times, as if to make sure that she had heard aright. That is incomprehensible!

Still I know that poor M. But, my poor child, what did you do for fashions--for patterns?” The immense importance she attached to the matter was so manifest that Marguerite could not refrain from smiling. “The dress that I am wearing now----.” “Is very pretty, my child, and it becomes you extremely; that’s the truth. Only, to be frank, I must confess that this style is no longer worn--no--not at all. Do you suppose, my poor dear, that I’m going to allow you to shut yourself up as you did at the Hotel de Chalusse? how dull it must have been for you, alone in that big house, without society or friends.” A tear fell from Marguerite’s long lashes. Doesn’t that thought make that cold little heart of yours throb more quickly? She would have told her that such pleasures could never have any charm for her, and that she felt only scorn and disgust for such worthless aims and sordid desires.

But having resolved to appear a dupe, she concealed her real feelings under an air of surprise, and was astonished and even ashamed to find that she could dissemble so well. Mademoiselle Marguerite almost believed it--but the lady was too shrewd for that. On the eleventh, there will be a concert, followed by a ball, at the superb mansion of the Baroness Trigault--you know--the wife of that strange man who spends all his time in playing cards.” “This is the first time I ever heard the name mentioned.” “Really! You must know then, my dear little ignoramus, that the Baroness Trigault is one of the most distinguished ladies in Paris, and certainly the best dressed. I am sure her bill at Van Klopen’s is not less than a hundred thousand francs a year--and that is saying enough, is it not?” And with genuine pride, she added: “The baroness is my friend. “I wish to put an end to this.” “Step into my room then, and we will put an end to it, and at once.” This opportunity to escape from Madame de Fondege must not be allowed to pass; so Marguerite asked permission to withdraw, declaring, what was really the truth, that she felt completely tired out. Isidore Fortunat, telling him that she would call upon him on the following Tuesday. “I must be very awkward,” she thought, “if to-morrow, on going to mass, I can’t find an opportunity to throw this note into a letter-box without being observed.” It was fortunate that she had lost no time, for her writing-case was scarcely in its place again before Madame Leon entered, evidently out of sorts.

“Well,” asked Marguerite, “did you see your friends?” “Don’t speak of it, my dear young lady; they were all of them away from home--they had gone to the play.” “Ah?” “So I shall go again early to-morrow morning; you must realize how important it is.” “Yes, I understand.” But Madame Leon, who was usually so loquacious, did not seem to be in a talkative mood that evening, and, after kissing her dear young lady, she went into her own room. She said to herself that rest would be more beneficial than anything else, and that her mind would be clearer on the morrow; so after a fervent prayer in which Pascal Ferailleur’s name was mentioned several times, she prepared for bed. If Marguerite had been born in the Hotel de Chalusse, if she had known a father’s and a mother’s tender care from her infancy, if she had always been protected by a large fortune from the stern realities of life, there would have been no hope for her now that she was left poor and alone--for how can a girl avoid dangers she is ignorant of? It is true that Madame de Fondege had a handsome wardrobe with glass doors in her own room, but this was an article which the friend of the fashionable Baroness Trigault could not possibly dispense with. for how could this extreme destitution in one part of the establishment be reconciled with the luxury noticeable in the other, except by the fact that a desperate struggle to keep up appearances was constantly going on?

And this constant anxiety made out-door noise, excitement, and gayety a necessity of their existence, and caused them to welcome anything that took them from the home where they had barely sufficient to deceive society, and not enough to impose upon their creditors. Her common sense told her that her task would merely consist in carefully watching the behavior of the General and his wife, in noting their expenditure, and so on.

For she felt that the real difficulties would not begin until she became morally certain that the General had stolen the millions that were missing from the count’s escritoire. Now that she had a positive and fixed point of departure, she felt that she possessed enough energy to sustain her in her endeavors for years, if need be. What troubled her most was that she could not logically explain the conduct of her enemies from the time M. And first, why had they been so audacious or so imprudent as to bring her to their own home if they had really stolen one of those immense amounts that are sure to betray their possessors? If they were on their guard, it would be the easiest thing in the world for them to pay their debts quietly, and increase their expenditure so imperceptibly that she would not be able to prove a sudden acquisition of wealth. That very afternoon, although it was Sunday, it became evident that a shower of gold had fallen on the General’s abode. And as if to prove to Mademoiselle Marguerite that her suspicions were correct, she chanced to be present when the livery stable-keeper presented his bill. That is an excellent way to gain patronage.

Insolence is one of those things that I never forgive. Mademoiselle Marguerite thought the man was going to beg “Madame la Comtesse to do him the favor to withhold a portion of the small amount.” For the Parisian tradesman is so constituted that very frequently it is not necessary to pay him money, but only to show it. She sent the man about his business, saying, “I never place myself in a position to be treated with disrespect a second time.” This probably accounted for the fact that Evariste, the footman, who had been so wanting in respect the previous evening, had been sent away that very morning. It was certain, however, that the Sunday dinner was utterly unlike that of the evening before. In twenty-four hours the Fondege family had been raised to such affluence that they must have asked themselves if it were possible they had ever known the agonies of that life of false appearances and sham luxury which is a thousand times worse than an existence of abject poverty.

“Is it possible that I am deceived?” Marguerite said to herself, on retiring to her room that evening. For it surprised her that a keen-sighted person like Madame Leon should not have remarked this revolution; but the worthy companion merely declared the General and his wife to be charming people, and did not cease to congratulate her dear young lady upon having accepted their hospitality. Like every one who has been unfortunate, she feared illusions, and was extremely distrustful of everything that seemed to favor her hopes and wishes. The only thing that really encouraged her was the thought that she could consult the old magistrate, and that M. “Who’s there?” inquired that worthy lady.

That is your name, is it not?” Marguerite staggered as if she had received a heavy blow. It was evident that the estimable lady was expecting this missive by the eagerness with which she sprang out of bed and opened the door. Standing silent and motionless in the middle of her room, Marguerite listened with that feverish anxiety that excites the perceptive faculties to the utmost degree. An inward voice, stronger than reason, told her that this letter threatened her happiness, her future, perhaps her life! But if she did this, she would betray herself, and prove that she was not the dupe they supposed her to be, and this supposition on the part of her enemies constituted her only chance of salvation.

Suddenly a crack in the partition attracted her attention, and finding that it extended through the wall, she realized she might watch what was passing in the adjoining room. From that moment a firm determination to obtain that letter took possession of her mind; and so deeply was she occupied in seeking for some means to surmount the difficulties which stood in her way that she did not say a dozen words during breakfast. “I must be a fool if I can’t find some way of gaining possession of that letter,” she said to herself again and again. For she was rather fond of good living, the dear lady, as she confessed herself, adding that no one is perfect. The General talked of nothing but a certain pair of horses which he was to look at that afternoon, and which he thought of buying--being quite disgusted with job-masters, so he declared. All the evening before, through part of the night, and ever since she had been awake that morning, she had been racking her brain to arrive at an effective combination of colors and materials. Madame de Fondege, who was dressed to go out, and who had already sent for a carriage, insisted that Mademoiselle Marguerite should accompany her. “I have so many things to put in order,” she added, feeling that an excuse was indispensable. So it was with a wildly throbbing heart that she opened the communicating door and entered her “companion’s” room.

To steal a key, to force an article of furniture open, and violate the secret of a private correspondence, these were actions so repugnant to her sense of honor, and her pride, that for some time she stood irresolute. This is an indiscretion which will render denial difficult.” And she resumed her perusal: “Your letter, which I have just received, confirms what my servants had already told me: that twice during my absence--on Saturday evening and Sunday morning--you called at my house to see me.” So Mademoiselle Marguerite’s penetration had served her well. “I regret,” continued the letter, “that you did not find me at home, for I have instructions of the greatest importance to give you. I have formed a plan which will completely, and forever, efface all remembrance of that cursed P. You have cause to know that I am not ungrateful. In spite of these explanations, which I have just given you for your guidance, it is very necessary that I should see you. Don’t imagine that I distrust you--but there is nothing so dangerous as letters.” For some time Marguerite stood, stunned and appalled by the Marquis de Valorsay’s audacity, and by the language of this letter, which was at once so obscure and so clear, every line of it threatening her future. She felt that every second was precious, and that she must act, and act at once. No; that must not be. Unwilling to waste any more time, she hastily entered a grocer’s shop at the corner of the Rue Pigalle and the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, and anxiously inquired: “Do you know any photographer in this neighborhood, monsieur?” Her agitation made this question seem so singular that the grocer looked at her closely for a moment, as if to make sure that she was not jesting.

“That girl’s certainly light-headed,” he thought. Her demeanor was really so extraordinary that it attracted the attention of the passers-by. But she DID know that she had not a second to lose, that Madame Leon might return at any moment, and find the letter missing; and, to crown all, she remembered now that she had not even locked the drawer again.

Go and tell him that he must come.” Her tone was so commanding, and there was so much authority in her glance, that the servant hesitated no longer. Before you set to work, I must know if what you can do will answer my purpose.” “Speak, madame.” “Will the copy you obtain be precisely like the original in every particular?” “In every particular.” “The writing will be the same--exactly the same?” “Absolutely the same.” “So like, that if one of your photographs should be presented to the person who wrote this letter----” “He could no more deny his handwriting than he could if some one handed him the letter itself.” “And the operation will leave no trace on the original?” “None.” A smile of triumph played upon Mademoiselle Marguerite’s lips. Was it possible that this young girl, with such a pure and noble brow, and with such frank, honest eyes, could be meditating any cowardly, dishonorable act? “My facsimile would certainly be admitted as evidence,” he replied at last; “and this would not be the first time that the decision of a court has depended on proofs which have been photographed by me.” Meanwhile, his assistant had returned, bringing the necessary apparatus with him. The man’s honest, kindly face told her that he would not betray her, that he would rather give her assistance. So she handed him the Marquis de Valorsay’s letter, saying, with melancholy dignity, “It is my happiness and my future that I place in your hands--and I have no fears.” He read her thoughts, and understood that she either dared not ask for a pledge of secrecy, or else that she thought it unnecessary.

I give you my word on that! However, at the end of about twenty minutes, the photographer possessed two negatives that promised him perfect proofs. He would destroy his letter the next day, and think that he was annihilating all proofs of his infamy. And, though she felt that she possessed a formidable weapon of defence, she could not drive away her gloomy forebodings when she thought of the threats contained in the marquis’s letter. She had the Fondege family to dread--these dangerous hypocrites, who had taken her to their home so that they might ruin her the more surely. de Valorsay wrote that he had no fears of the Fondeges--that he understood their little game.

No doubt they were resolved that she should become their son’s wife, even if they were obliged to use force to win her consent. She felt that she needed the advice of a riper experience than her own, and the thought of consulting him at once occurred to her. She was alone; she had no spy to fear; and it would be folly not to profit by the few moments of liberty that remained. She told him everything with rare precision and accuracy of detail, sending him a copy of Valorsay’s letter, and informing him that, in case any misfortune befell her, he could obtain the facsimiles from Carjat. She had made all possible haste, fearing that Madame de Fondege and Madame Leon might return at any moment. Besides purchasing every requisite for that wonderful costume of hers, the General’s wife had found some laces of rare beauty, which she had secured for the mere trifle of four thousand francs. It isn’t an outlay--it’s an investment.” Subtle reasoning that has cost many a husband dear! The General came in a little later, accompanied by a friend, and Marguerite soon discovered that the worthy man had spent the day as profitably as his wife.

Less than an hour after the purchase he had refused almost double that amount from a celebrated connoisseur in horse-flesh, M. This excellent speculation had put him in such good humor that he had been unable to resist the temptation of purchasing a beautiful saddle-horse, which they let him have for a hundred louis. He had not been foolish, for he was sure that he could sell the animal again at an advance of a thousand francs whenever he wished to do so. Having purchased the horses, his next task was to find a carriage, and he had heard of a barouche which a Russian prince had ordered but didn’t take, so that the builder was willing to sell it at less than cost price; and to recoup this worthy man, the General had purchased a brougham as well.

The first outlay frightened me a little; but that is made now, and I am delighted. Do they think me an idiot to flaunt the millions they have stolen from my father--that they have stolen from me--before my eyes in this fashion? A common thief would take care not to excite suspicion by a foolish expenditure of the fruits of his knavery, but they--they have lost their senses.” Madame Leon was already in bed, and when Mademoiselle Marguerite was satisfied that she was asleep, she took her letter from her trunk, and added this post-script: “P. This audacity must arise from a conviction that no proofs of the crime they have committed exist. I hope to make my escape easily enough, for at that same hour, Madame Leon has an appointment with the Marquis de Valorsay.” X. For it was in this cash-box and not in his breast that his heart really throbbed. This then explains his frenzy on that ill-fated Sunday, when, after being brutally dismissed by M.

The other, the viscount, had suddenly sprung up out of the ground, and carried off from under his very nose that magnificent prize, the Chalusse inheritance, which he had considered as good as won. He read it with intense astonishment, rubbing his eyes as if to assure himself that he were really awake. “Tuesday,” he repeated, “the day after to-morrow--at your house--between three and four o’clock--I must speak with you.” His manner was so strange, and his usually impassive face so disturbed by conflicting feelings, that Madame Dodelin’s curiosity overcame her prudence, and she remained standing in front of him with open mouth, staring with all her eyes and listening with all her ears. She has chanced to apply to me on the very day that I had resolved to defend and rehabilitate her lover, the honest fool who allowed himself to be dishonored by those unscrupulous blackguards.

Fortunat piously believed in Providence when things went to his liking, but it is sad to add that in the contrary case he denied its existence. “I told you that Valorsay and Coralth should pay me for their treason. “So far the explanation I gave you was all that was necessary; but now that I expect more important services from you, I ought to tell you the whole truth, or at least all I know about the affair. He saw plainly enough that this honest impulse on M. Fortunat’s part came from disappointed avarice and wounded vanity, and that the agent would have allowed the Marquis de Valorsay to carry out his infamous scheme without any compunctions of conscience, providing he, himself, had not been injured by it. So, when his employer paused, he exclaimed: “Well, we must outwit these scoundrels--for I’ll join you, m’sieur; and I flatter myself that I can be very useful to you. I don’t know exactly where she lives, but she keeps a tobacco store, somewhere, and that’s enough. I see that you will serve me with your usual zeal and intelligence.

Rest assured that you will be rewarded as you have never been rewarded before.

Victor had become very much excited; his usually pale cheeks were crimson, and in a harsh voice, he continued: “It’s a fancy of mine--that’s all. I’ll spend the last penny of it if need be; and if I can see Coralth in the mire, I shall say, ‘My money has been well expended.’ I’d rather see that day dawn than be the possessor of a hundred thousand francs. that brigand’s my nightmare. “I’ve told you, sir, that I was guilty of an infamous deed once upon a time. But I swore that I would do honor to his teachings--and when evil thoughts enter my mind, and when I feel a thirst for liquor, I say to myself, ‘Wait a bit, and--and M.

Andre will take a glass with you.’ And that quenches my thirst instantly. I have his portrait at home, and every night, before going to bed, I tell him the history of the day--and sometimes I fancy that he smiles at me. Never mind--we’ll get him out of this scrape; he shall marry his sweetheart after all; and I’ll dance at the wedding.” As he finished speaking he laughed a shrill, dangerous laugh, which revealed his sharp teeth--but such invincible determination was apparent on his face, that M. He was sure that this volunteer would be of more service than the highest-priced hireling. “That’s bad,” growled he. That would be dangerous.” He thought of roaming sound about M. As soon as the waiter served him, he drained his glass of beer to give himself an inspiration, and then, in his finest hand, he wrote: “MY DEAR VISCOUNT--Here’s the amount--one hundred francs--that I lost to you last evening at piquet. Your friend, “VALORSAY.” When he had finished this letter he read it over three or four times, asking himself if this were the style of composition that very fashionable folks employ in repaying their debts. “That is quite a different thing,” remarked one of the waiters. I don’t fancy that idea!” he exclaimed.

And that’s why I want his address.” The argument was of a nature to touch the waiters; they thought the young man quite right; but they did not know M. The porter, on being called, remembered that he had once been sent to M. And, believe me, if there’s any reward, you shall see that I know how to repay a good turn.” “And if you don’t find the viscount,” added the waiters, “bring the money here, and it will be returned to him.” “Naturally!” replied Chupin. This was the only avocation that her almost complete blindness allowed her to pursue; and she followed it constantly. “You are always kind,” said he, “but, unfortunately, I can’t remain to dine with you.” “But you promised me.” “That’s true, mamma; but business, you see--business.” The worthy woman shook her head. “Yes--when a fellow hasn’t ten thousand francs a year.” “You have become a worker, Toto, and that makes me very happy; but you are too eager for money, and that frightens me.” “That’s to say, you fear I shall do something dishonest. She would only have to extend her hand to prove that he was telling a falsehood. Since I heard that man’s voice, I’m sure that he is quite as capable of urging you to commit a crime as others were in days gone by.” The blind woman was preaching to a convert; for during the past three days, M.

Fortunat had shown himself in such a light that Chupin had secretly resolved to change his employer. “I promise you I’ll leave him, mother,” he declared, “so you may be quite easy in mind.” “Very well; but now, at this moment, where are you going?” There was only one way of completely reassuring the good woman, and that was to tell her all. It’s only God’s protecting care that has saved you again from an act which you would have reproached yourself for all your life. I, who am only a poor plebeian, should die of shame under such circumstances.” Chupin blew his nose so loudly that the window-panes rattled; this was his way of repressing his emotion whenever it threatened to overcome him. “You speak like the good mother that you are,” he exclaimed at last, “and I’m prouder of you than if you were the handsomest and richest lady in Paris, for you’re certainly the most honest and virtuous; and I should be a thorough scoundrel if I caused you a moment’s sorrow. I can’t go about from door to door making inquiries, so if you’ll go there and ascertain his address for me, I’ll give you five francs for yourself,’ so my money’s made.” Profiting by his old Parisian experience, Chupin had chosen such a clever excuse that both his listeners heartily laughed.

“Well, Father Moulinet,” cried the servant in the red waistcoat, “what do you say to that? “You accomplish your errands so well that perhaps you’d be willing to take these flower-pots up to the second floor, if we gave you a glass of wine!” No proposal could have suited Chupin better. Although he was prone to exaggerate his own powers and the fecundity of his resources, he had not flattered himself with the hope that he should succeed in crossing the threshold of M.

For, without any great mental effort, he had realized that the servant arrayed in the red waistcoat was in the viscount’s employ, and these flowers were to be carried to his apartments. you had better say two.” “Well, I’ll say a whole bottleful, my boy, if that suits you any better,” replied the servant, with the charming good-nature so often displayed by people who are giving other folk’s property away. Come in.” Chupin had expected to find that M. Decidedly this mustn’t be allowed to continue.” Thereupon he busied himself placing the flowers in the numerous jardinieres scattered about the rooms, as well as in a tiny conservatory, cleverly contrived on the balcony, and adjoining a little apartment with silk hangings, that was used as a smoking-room. He said to himself that, if ever he became rich, his establishment should be quite different. Still this did not prevent him from going into ecstasies over each room he entered; and he expressed his admiration so artlessly that the valet, feeling as much flattered as if he were the owner of the place, took a sort of pride in exhibiting everything. But it was the dressing-room that most astonished and stupefied Chupin. While Chupin changed the contents of the jardinieres, and remained upstairs in the intervals between the nine or ten journeys he made to the porte-cochere for more flowers, he listened attentively to the conversation between the concierge and the valet, and heard snatches of sentences that enlightened him wonderfully. Moreover, whenever a question arose as to placing a plant in one place rather than another, the valet stated as a conclusive argument that the baroness liked it in such or such a place, or that she would be better pleased with this or that arrangement, or that he must comply with the instructions she had given him. Chupin was therefore obliged to conclude that the flowers had been sent here by a baroness who possessed certain rights in the establishment.

Naturally no one can execute that commission but myself.” “That’s true!” replied Chupin; “but how about the other?” The valet had not yet examined the second letter. you’d only give me fifteen sous to measure such a distance as that! “That fool in the red waistcoat will be coming out to take the letter to that famous baroness,” he thought. It grew dark so rapidly that Chupin was scarcely able to recognize Florent when he at last emerged from the house. It is true that he looked altogether unlike the servant in the red waist-coat. “My servants sha’n’t serve me in that way if I ever have any.” But he paused in his soliloquy, and prudently hid himself under a neighboring gateway.

When you have flowers to send to anybody it’s convenient to be neighbors!” He glanced round, and seeing an old man smoking his pipe on the threshold of a shop, he approached him and asked politely “Can you tell me whom that big house belongs to?” “To Baron Trigault,” replied the man, without releasing his hold on his pipe. It might be supposed that his unexpected success had delighted him, but, on the contrary, it rendered him even more exacting.

“Madame Paul,” he muttered, “that must be the rascal’s wife.

First, Paul is his Christian name; secondly, I’ve been told that his wife keeps a tobacco shop--so the case is plain.

But the strangest thing about it is that this husband and wife should write to each other, when I fancied them at dagger’s ends.” Chupin would have given a pint of his own blood to know the contents of the missive. The idea of opening it occurred to him, and it must be confessed that it was not a feeling of delicacy that prevented him. He fancied that there was some mysterious connection between this letter intended for M. On the right-hand side--that next to the canal--there are also a few provision stores. In the daytime there is no noisier nor livelier place than this same Quai; but nothing could be more gloomy at night-time when the shops are closed, when the few gas-lamps only increase the grimness of the shadows, and when the only sound that breaks the silence is the rippling of the water as its smooth surface is ruffled by some boatman propelling his skiff through the canal. “That scoundrel’s wife must have less than a hundred thousand a year if she takes up her abode here!” thought Chupin. It was but one story high, and built of clay, and it had fallen to ruin to such an extent that it had been found necessary to prop it up with timber, and to nail some old boards over the yawning fissures in the walls. The floor was covered with that black and glutinous coal-dust which forms the soil of the Quai de la Seine. “That’s her,” he murmured. “That’s certainly Mademoiselle Flavie.” He had used her maiden name in speaking of her.

Even if she had struggled at first, it was easy to see that she struggled no longer. Her attire--her torn and soiled silk dress, and her dirty cap--revealed thorough indolence, and that morbid indifference which at times follows great misfortunes with weak natures. I can see her now as she looked that day when I met her driving her gray ponies.

She saw a handsome young fellow and wanted him for her husband; her father, who could refuse her nothing, consented, and now behold the result!” He had lingered longer at the window than he had meant to do, perhaps because he could see that the young woman was talking with some person in a back room, the door of which stood open. We may as well make a note of that: and when we settle up our accounts, he shall pay dearly for his villainy.” With this threat he brusquely entered the shop. And when they were adjusted, the light was so dim that it took him at least three minutes more to decipher the missive. “He’s a middle class man, that’s evident from his linen. But what was he doing there in that back room in the dark?” Meanwhile M. He was certain now that he knew the contents of the letter as perfectly as if he had read it. He understood that one was the natural consequence of the other. She had instituted a search for her husband, and, having found him, she had written to him in this style: “I consent to abstain from interfering with you, but only on conditions that you provide means of subsistence for me, your lawfully wedded wife, and for your child. The scandal won’t be of much use to me, it’s true, but at least I shall no longer be obliged to endure the torture of knowing that you are surrounded by every luxury while I am dying of starvation.” Yes, she had evidently written that.

He knew only too well that if his wife made herself known and revealed his past, it would be all over with him. In former years, he had heard it asserted that Mademoiselle Flavie was the very personification of pride, and that she adored her husband even to madness. Had poverty and sorrow broken her spirit to such a degree that she was willing to stoop to such shameful concessions! If she were acquainted with her husband’s present life, how did it happen that she did not prefer starvation, or the alms-house and a pauper’s grave to his assistance? “It’s probably the work of that stout old gentleman.” There was a means of verifying his suspicions, for on returning into the adjoining room, Madame Paul had not taken her son with her. Chupin took him on his knees, and, after looking to see if the door communicating with the inner room were securely closed, he asked: “What’s your name, little chap?” “Paul.” “Do you know your father?” “No.” “Doesn’t your mother ever talk to you about him?” “Oh, yes!” “And what does she say?” “That he’s rich--very rich.” “And what else?” The child did not reply; perhaps his mother had forbidden him to say anything on the subject--perhaps that instinct which precedes intelligence, just as the dawn precedes daylight, warned him to be prudent with a stranger. “And do you know this old gentleman who is with your mamma in the other room?” “Oh, yes!--that’s Mouchon.” “And who’s Mouchon?” “He’s the gentleman who owns that beautiful garden at the corner of the Rue Riquet, where there are such splendid grapes. He always has goodies in his pocket for mamma and me.” “Why does he sit in that back room without any light?” “Oh, he says that the customers mustn’t see him.” It would have been an abominable act to continue this examination, and make this child the innocent accuser of his own mother.

That he was rich, and that, in case he returned, he would give them plenty of money and fine clothes. That very morning, he had refused the ten francs a day that M. As he returned to the Rue de Flandres, he muttered: “Take twenty sous from that poor creature, who hasn’t had enough to satisfy her hunger for heaven knows how long! That would be altogether unworthy of a man.” It is only just to say that money had never given him a feeling of satisfaction at all comparable with that which he now experienced. He was impressed, too, with a sense of vastly-increased importance on thinking that all the faculties, and all the energy he had once employed in the service of evil, were now consecrated to the service of good. Chupin’s mind was so busily occupied with these thoughts that he reached the Rue d’Anjou and M. and she had been so inconsiderate as to keep him waiting for more than an hour, so that he had missed his appointment with the charming ladies he had spoken of.

He sprang to the ground as soon as the carriage entered the courtyard, and on perceiving his servant, he exclaimed: “Have you executed my commissions?” “They have been executed, monsieur.” “Did you see the baroness?” “She made me wait two hours to tell me that the viscount need not be worried in the least; that she would certainly be able to comply with his request to-morrow.” M. “Gave me this for monsieur.” The viscount seized the missive, with an eager hand, tore it open, read it at one glance, and flew into such a paroxysm of passion that he quite forgot those around him, and began to tear the letter, and utter a string of oaths which would have astonished a cab-driver. Here, by making himself useful to the servants, by his zeal in opening and shutting the doors of the carriages that left the house, he succeeded in gathering some information concerning the frightful scene which had taken place between the mother and the son. Fortunat’s office at two o’clock on the Tuesday afternoon, he felt that he held every possible clue to the shameful intrigue which would ruin the viscount as soon as it was made public. Fortunat knew that his agent was shrewd, but he had not done justice to his abilities; and it was, indeed, with something very like envy that he listened to Chupin’s clear and circumstantial report. But he had not time to explain how or why, for just as he was about to do so, Madame Dodelin appeared, and announced that the young lady he expected was there. The General had decamped early in the morning to try his horses and his carriages, announcing, moreover, that he would breakfast at the club. And as soon as her breakfast was concluded, Madame de Fondege had hurried off to her dressmaker’s, warning the household that she would not return before dinner-time. A little while later, Madame Leon had suddenly remembered that her noble relative would certainly be expecting a visit from her, and so she dressed herself in haste, and went off, first to Dr. A vague presentiment told her that this man was better acquainted with her past life than she was herself, and that he could, if he chose, tell her her mother’s name--the name of the woman whom the count so dreaded, and who had so pitilessly deserted her.

However, her heart beat more quickly, and she felt that she was turning pale when, at Madame Dodelin’s invitation, she at last entered M. Fortunat found it difficult to believe that this beautiful, imposing young girl could be the poor little apprentice whom he had seen in the book-bindery, years before, clad in a coarse serge frock, with dishevelled hair covered with scraps of paper. In the meantime, Marguerite was regretting the necessity of confiding in this man, for the more she looked at him, the more she was convinced that he was not an honest, straightforward person; and she would infinitely have preferred a cynical scoundrel to this plausible and polite gentleman, whom she strongly suspected of being a hypocrite. “An hour after the receipt of your letter I began the campaign.” “But I had not told you----” “What you wished of me--that’s true. But I allowed myself to suspect----” “Ah!” “I fancied I might conclude that you wished the help of my experience and poor ability in clearing an innocent man who has been vilely slandered, M. You would have shuddered if you had realized the dangers that threatened you.

For it is you, your person, and your fortune that are imperilled. It was solely on your account that M.

This marriage was Valorsay’s only resource--the plank that might save the drowning man. He was in such desperate straits that he had almost determined to blow his brains out before the hope of marrying you entered his mind.” “Ah!” thought Chupin, “my employer is well under way.” This was indeed the case. However, this much is certain, mademoiselle: the marquis has not renounced his intention of becoming your husband; and to attain that object he won’t hesitate to employ any means that may promise to prove effectual.” Completely mistress of herself, Mademoiselle Marguerite listened with an impassive face. you know----” “Yes; but there is one thing that baffles my powers of comprehension. Why does he still wish to marry me, now that I have no fortune?” M.

I believe that the marquis has in his possession a letter, or a will, or a document of some sort, written by M. The great interest that M. Fortunat seemed to take in her affairs aroused her distrust; and she decided to do what he had attempted in vain--that is, allow him to do all the talking, and to conceal all that she knew herself. “Perhaps you are right,” she remarked, “but it is necessary to prove the truth of your assertion.” “I can prove that Valorsay hasn’t a shilling, and that he has lived for a year by expedients which render him liable to arrest and prosecution at any time. I can prove that he deceived M. I can prove that he conspired with M. Wouldn’t this be something?” She smiled in a way that was exceedingly irritating to his vanity, and in a tone of good-natured incredulity, she remarked: “It is easy to SAY these things.” “And to do them,” rejoined M. Would you be willing to swear that you never helped him in his designs?” A silent and ignored witness of this scene, Victor Chupin was secretly delighted. Fortunat was so taken by surprise that he made no attempt to deny his guilt. “I confess that I acted as M.

Upon my word, I see nothing so very bad about that!

Perhaps it would be more correct to say that it is a transaction in which one person tries to cheat the other. Ferailleur, I cried ‘halt!’ My conscience revolted at that. And not being able to prevent this infamous act, I swore that I would avenge it.” Would Mademoiselle Marguerite accept this explanation? Chupin feared so, and accordingly turning quickly to his employer, he remarked: “To say nothing of the fact that this fine gentleman has swindled you outrageously, shrewd as you are--cheating you out of the forty thousand francs you lent him, and which he was to pay you eighty thousand for.” M. Her scorn for the man was only increased; but she was convinced that he would serve her faithfully.

Ferailleur sold his furniture and went away with his mother.” “I am aware of that, and I have come to ask you to search for him. By questioning the people in the neighborhood I finally succeeded in ascertaining that Madame Ferailleur left her home in a cab several hours after her son, and took a very large quantity of baggage with her. I am sure of this, and I know she told a porter there that her destination was London.

If he had felt that his case was hopeless, he would have destroyed himself, and as he has not done so, he is not without hope. Mademoiselle Marguerite only did him justice when she said that the sole condition on which he could consent to live was that of consecrating his life, and all his strength, intelligence and will to confounding this infamous calumny. How could she suppose that he believed himself deserted by her? How could she know the doubts and fears and the anguish that had been roused in his heart by the note which Madame Leon had given him at the garden gate? What did she know of the poignant suspicions that had rent his mind, after listening to Madame Vantrasson’s disparaging insinuations? It must be admitted that he was indebted to his mother alone for his escape from suicide--that grim madness that seizes hold of so many desperate, despairing men.

And it was still to his mother--the incomparable guardian of his honor--that he owed his resolution on the morning he applied to Baron Trigault. He knew the weak spot in the marquis’s armor now; he knew where and how to strike, and he felt sure that he should succeed in winning Valorsay’s confidence, and in obtaining irrefutable proofs of his villainy. Madame Ferailleur was just returning home when he arrived, which surprised him considerably, for he had not known that she had intended going out. She was so accustomed to read his secret thoughts on his face, that it was unnecessary for him to say a word; before he had even opened his lips, she cried: “So you have succeeded?” “Yes, mother, beyond my hopes.” “I was not deceived, then, in the worthy man who came to offer us his assistance?” “No, certainly not. “Great Heavens!” “It is the truth, mother; listen to me.” And in a voice that trembled with emotion, he rapidly related all he had learned by his visit to the baron, softening the truth as much as he could without concealing it. “That woman is a shameless creature,” she said, coldly, when her son’s narrative was concluded. He knew only too well that his mother was right, and yet it wounded him cruelly to hear her speak in this style. For how could she live, how could she sleep with the thought that somewhere in the world her own child, the flesh of her flesh, was exposed to all the temptations of poverty, and the horrors of shame and vice? How was it that she didn’t ask herself every minute, ‘Where is my daughter now, and what is she doing? On seeing the poor wretches who have been driven to vice by want, how can she fail to say to herself: ‘That, perhaps, is my daughter!’” Pascal turned pale, moved to the depths of his soul by his mother’s extraordinary vehemence.

“The baroness knew that her husband adored her, and hearing of his return she became terrified; she lost her senses,” he ventured to say in extenuation. It is a miracle that she did not perish.” Where had Madame Ferailleur learned these particulars? Is it possible she never told you anything about it?” “I only know that she has been very unhappy.” “Has she never alluded to the time when she was an apprentice?” “She has only told me that she earned her living with her own hands at one time of her life.” “Well, I am better informed on the subject.” Pascal’s amazement was changed to terror. you love a young girl, you swear in my presence that she shall be your wife, and you think it strange that I should try to ascertain whether she is worthy of you or not? “Have you already forgotten the disparaging remarks made by our new servant, Madame Vantrasson?” “Good Heavens!” “I understood her base insinuations as well as you did, and after your departure I questioned her, or rather I allowed her to tell her story, and I ascertained that Mademoiselle Marguerite had once been an apprentice of Vantrasson’s brother-in-law, a man named Greloux, who was formerly a bookbinder in the Rue Saint-Denis, but who has now retired from business. It was there that Vantrasson met Mademoiselle Marguerite, and this is why he was so greatly surprised to see her doing the mistress at the Hotel de Chalusse.” It seemed to Pascal that the throbbing of his heart stopped his breath. “The Greloux family,” she continued, “seem to be what are called worthy people, that is, incapable of committing any crime that is punishable by the code, and very proud of their income of seven thousand francs a year. you see, mother, you see!” “As for the wife, it was easy to see that she had sincerely regretted the loss of the best apprentice, the most honest servant, and the best worker she had ever seen in her life. And yet, from her own story, I should be willing to swear that she had abused the poor child, and had made a slave of her.” Tears glittered in Pascal’s eyes, but he breathed freely once more. “As for Vantrasson,” resumed Madame Ferailleur, “it is certain that he took a violent fancy to his sister’s apprentice.

He fancied the poor little apprentice--she was then but thirteen years old--would be only too glad to become the mistress of her employer’s brother; but she scornfully repulsed him, and his vanity was so deeply wounded that he persecuted the poor girl to such an extent that she was obliged to complain, first to Madame Greloux, who--to her shame be it said--treated these insults as mere nonsense; and afterward to Greloux himself, who was probably delighted to have an opportunity of ridding himself of his indolent brother-in-law, for he turned him out of the house.” The thought that so vile a rascal as this man Vantrasson should have dared to insult Marguerite made Pascal frantic with indignation. For they saw her at least once, and that was on the day she brought them twenty thousand francs, which proved the nucleus of their fortune. “Well, mother!” he exclaimed, “well, is it strange that I love her?” Madame Ferailleur made no reply, and a sorrowful apprehension seized hold of him. When the blessed day that will allow me to wed Marguerite arrives, you surely won’t oppose our marriage?” “No, my son, nothing that I have learned gives me the right to do so.” “The right! Haven’t I faithfully reported all that was told me, although I knew it would only increase your passion?” “That’s true, but----” Madame Ferailleur sadly shook her head. “Do you think,” she interrupted, “that I can, without sorrow, see you choose a girl of no family, a girl who is outside the pale of social recognition? Don’t you understand my disquietude when I think that the girl that you will marry is the daughter of such a woman as Baroness Trigault, an unfortunate girl whom her mother cannot even recognize, since her mother is a married woman----” “Ah! mother, is that Marguerite’s fault?” “Did I say it was her fault? No--I only pray God that you may never have to repent of choosing a wife whose past life must ever remain an impenetrable mystery!” Pascal had become very pale. “Mother!” he said in a quivering voice, “mother!” “I mean that you will only know so much of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life as she may choose to tell you,” continued the obdurate old lady.

It has been said that she was the mistress, not the daughter, of the Count de Chalusse. I would have my son’s wife above suspicion; and she--why, there is not a single episode in her life that does not expose her to the most atrocious calumny.” “What does calumny matter? By declaring children irresponsible for their mother’s faults, you will break the strongest tie that binds a woman to duty. If the son of a pure and virtuous wife, and the son of an adulterous woman meet upon equal ground, those who are held in check only by the thought of their children will finally say to themselves, what does it matter?” It was the first time that a cloud had ever arisen between mother and son. He felt that it was not his place to reproach his mother or censure her for her opinions. And who knows?--it was, perhaps, from these same rigid prejudices that this simple-minded and heroic woman had derived her energy, her enthusiastic love of God, her hatred of evil, and that virility of spirit which misfortune had been powerless to daunt.

His mind was occupied with these thoughts when his door suddenly opened, and he sprang up, exclaiming: “Who is it?” It was Madame Vantrasson, who came to announce that dinner was ready--a dinner which she had herself prepared, for on going out Madame Ferailleur had left her in charge of the household. He knew that she was only a vile slanderer, but she might meet other beings as vile as herself who would be only too glad to believe her falsehoods. And to think that he was powerless to punish her! Four or five times she asked impatiently, “Isn’t that good?” and as the only reply was a scarcely enthusiastic “Very good,” she vowed she would never again waste so much care and talent upon such unappreciative people.

However, Madame Ferailleur must have understood her son’s agitation, for as soon as they were alone, she said: “So you have not forgiven me for my plain speaking?” “How can I be angry with you, mother, when I know that you are thinking only of my happiness? I have done so in this instance, and I am going perhaps to give you a convincing proof of it.” “A proof?” “Yes.” She reflected for a moment and then she asked: “Did you not tell me, my son, that Mademoiselle Marguerite’s education has not suffered on account of her neglected childhood?” “And it’s quite true, mother.” “She worked diligently, you said, so as to improve herself?” “Marguerite knows all that an unusually talented girl can learn in four years, when she finds herself very unhappy, and study proves her only refuge and consolation.” “If she wrote you a note would it be written grammatically, and be free from any mistakes in spelling?” “Oh, certainly!” exclaimed Pascal, and a sudden inspiration made him pause abruptly. And she had not felt satisfied on this point until the day when the gray-haired magistrate, after hearing her story, said: “If I had a son, I should be proud to have him beloved by you!” It soon became apparent that Madame Ferailleur was deeply moved, and once she even raised her glasses to wipe away a furtive tear which made Pascal’s heart leap with very joy. How could I have failed to discover it?” And as if he felt the need of convincing himself that he was not deceived, he continued, speaking to himself rather than to his mother: “The hand-writing is not unlike Marguerite’s, it’s true; but it’s only a clever counterfeit. And who doesn’t know that all writings in pencil resemble each other more or less? Besides, it’s certain that Marguerite, who is simplicity itself, would not have made use of such pretentious melodramatic phrases. How could I have been so stupid as to believe that she ever thought or wrote this: ‘One cannot break a promise made to the dying; I shall keep mine even though my heart break.’ And again: ‘Forget, therefore, the girl who has loved you so much: she is now the betrothed of another, and honor requires she should forget even your name!’” He read these passages with an extravagant emphasis, which heightened their absurdity.

“You noticed them, of course, mother?--command is written with a single ‘m,’ and supplicate with one ‘p.’ These are certainly not mistakes that we can attribute to haste! Yesterday evening, while I was examining it for the twentieth time, it occurred to me that I had read some portions of it before. That’s it, there on the corner of the mantel-shelf. Take it and see.” Pascal obeyed, and noticed with surprise that the work was entitled, “The Indispensable and Complete Letter-writer, for Both Sexes, in Every Condition of Life.” “Now turn to the page I have marked,” said Madame Ferailleur. Line for line and word for word, the mistakes in spelling excepted, the note was an exact copy of the stilted prose of the “Indispensable Letter-writer.” It seemed to Pascal as if the scales had suddenly fallen from his eyes, and that he could now understand the whole intrigue which had been planned to separate him from Marguerite. His enemies had dishonored him in the hope that she would reject and scorn him, and, disappointed in their expectations, they had planned this pretended rupture of the engagement to prevent him from making any attempt at self-justification. He had been quite right, then, in saying to his mother: “I can never believe that Marguerite deserts me at a moment when I am so wretched--that she condemns me unheard, and has no greater confidence in me than in my accusers.

“How is it,” he said to himself, “that Marguerite writes to me that her father, on his death-bed, made her promise to renounce me, while Valorsay declares the Count de Chalusse died so suddenly, that he had not even time to acknowledge his daughter or to bequeath her his immense fortune? She was shuddering at the thought that she might be followed and watched, and that Marguerite might appear at any moment, and discover everything. “I think it would be a good plan to let this poor young girl know that her companion is Valorsay’s spy,” remarked Madame Ferailleur. Owing to her past life, Marguerite’s experience is far in advance of her years, and if some one told me that she had fathomed Madame Leon’s character, I should not be at all surprised.” It was necessary to ascertain what had become of Marguerite; and Pascal was puzzling his brain to discover how this might be done, when suddenly he exclaimed: “Madame Vantrasson! It will be easy to find some excuse for sending her to the Hotel de Chalusse: she will gossip with the servants there, and in that way we can discover the changes that have taken place.” This was a heroic resolution on Pascal’s part, and one which he would have recoiled from the evening before. But it is easy to be brave when one is hopeful; and he saw his chances of success increase so rapidly that he no longer feared the obstacles that had once seemed almost insurmountable. For why should he fear after the surprising proof she had given him of her love of justice, proving that the pretended letter from Mademoiselle Marguerite was really a forgery? He slept but little that night and did not stir from the house on the following day. He ought to have recollected that their interests were identical, that they hated the same men with equal hatred, and that they were equally resolved upon vengeance.

However, misfortune had rendered Pascal timid and suspicious, and it was not until he reached the baron’s house that his fears vanished. The manner in which the servants received him proved that the baron greatly esteemed him: for the man must be stupid indeed who does not know that the greeting of the servants is ever in harmony with the feelings of the master of the house. “The baron is very busy, but that doesn’t matter. He gave orders that monsieur should be shown up as soon as he arrived.” Pascal followed without a word. This time his guide remarked that he would take him upstairs to the baron’s private room. “That’s the baroness,” whispered the servant, after she had passed. He had seen her but once, and then only for a second; but it had been under such circumstances that he should never forget her so long as he lived.

Once there he indicated by a gesture that they could be heard in the adjoining room, and that it was necessary to speak in a low tone. “You have no doubt come,” said he, “for the money I promised that dear Marquis de Valorsay--I have it all ready for you; here it is.” So saying, he opened an escritoire, and took out a large roll of bank-notes, which he handed to Pascal. I ought to have said that it is sure to be lost; and hence my embarrassment. Is it not solely on my account that you sacrifice a sum which would be a fortune to many men?

I am asking myself if it is right for me to accept such a sacrifice, when it is by no means certain that I shall ever be able to requite it. It’s not at your request nor solely on your account that I make this sacrifice.” “Oh!” “No; I give you my word of honor it isn’t. Leaving you quite out of the question, I should still have lent Valorsay this money; and if you do not wish to take it to him, I shall send it by some one else.” After that, Pascal could not demur any further. He took the baron’s proffered hand and pressed it warmly, uttering only this one word, made more eloquent than any protestations by the fervor with which it was spoken: “Thanks!” The baron shrugged his shoulders good-naturedly, like a man who fails to see that he has done anything at all meritorious, or even worthy of the slightest acknowledgment. “And you must understand, my dear sir,” he resumed, “that you can employ this sum as you choose, in advancing your interests, which are identical with mine.

Pascal knew this, and feeling that his protector understood him, he said: “You overpower me with kindness.” “Nonsense!” “You offer me just what I came to ask for.” “So much the better.” “But you will allow me to explain my intentions?” “It is quite unnecessary, my dear sir.” “Excuse me; if I follow my present plan, I shall be obliged to ascribe certain sentiments, words, and even acts, to you, which you might perhaps disavow, and--” With a careless toss of the head, accompanied by a disdainful snap of the fingers, the baron interrupted him. “Set to work, and don’t give yourself the slightest uneasiness about that. Why, Maumejan, one of my business agents, and I can always throw the blame on you.” And as if to prove that he had divined even the details of the scheme devised by his young friend, he added: “Besides, every one knows that a millionaire’s business agent is anything but a pleasant person to deal with. Confer with him.’ And it is the unlucky agent who must object, declare that his employer has no money at his disposal just now, and finally say, ‘No.’” Pascal was still disposed to insist, but the baron was obdurate. The days are only twenty-four hours long: and as you see, I’m very busy, so busy that I’ve not touched a card since the day before yesterday. It has been rather a delicate operation, but I flatter myself that I have succeeded finely.” And he laughed a laugh that was not pleasant to hear. I am still willing to go on paying, but only on conditions that they give me in return for my money, if not the reality, at least a show of love, affection, and respect. I’m determined to have the semblance of these things; I’m quite resolved on that. Ferailleur, for I am convinced that his theory is sound and practicable.

“That’s Kami-Bey,” said he, “the Turk whom I am playing that great game of cards with. Such, indeed, was Kami-Bey, a specimen of those semi-barbarians, loaded with gold who are not attracted to Paris by its splendors and glories, but rather by its corruption--people who come there persuaded that money will purchase anything and everything, and who often return home with the same conviction. Perhaps it was because the lackey who opened his carriage door on his arrival at the Grand Hotel had addressed him by that title. “It seems to me, sir, that according to our agreement, we were to play until one of us had won five hundred thousand francs,” he said haughtily.

“That’s true--but we ought to play every day.” “Possibly: but I’m very busy just now. If you are at all uneasy, tear up the book in which the results of our games are noted, and that shall be the end of it. You will gain considerably by the operation.” Kami-Bey felt that the baron would not tolerate his arrogance, and so with more moderation he exclaimed: “It isn’t strange that I’ve become suspicious. I shall be ruined if this sort of thing goes on much longer.” He had taken a seat, and the baron saw that he was not likely to get rid of his guest very soon; so approaching Pascal he whispered: “You had better go off, or you may miss Valorsay. It was not necessary to recommend that to Pascal. He who had triumphed over his despair in the terrible hours, when he had reason to suppose that Marguerite believed him guilty and had abandoned him, could scarcely lack courage. While he was condemned to inaction, his mind had no doubt been assailed by countless doubts and fears; but now that he knew whom he was to attack--now that the decisive moment had come, he was endowed with indomitable energy; he had turned to bronze, and he felt sure that nothing could disconcert or even trouble him in future. Only fools find consolation in saying: “Who could have foreseen that?” Great minds do foresee. And Pascal felt almost certain that he was fully prepared for any emergency. That morning, before leaving home, he had dressed with extreme care, realizing that the shabby clothes he had worn on his first visit to the Trigault mansion would not be appropriate on such an occasion as this.

Pascal was just saying to himself that the coast was clear, and that he should incur no danger by going in, when he saw the servants step aside, the gate swing back, and M.

“If it hadn’t been for Kami-Bey, who detained me a full quarter of an hour at Baron Trigault’s, I should have found myself face to face with that miserable viscount, and then all would have been lost. But now I’m safe!” It was with this encouraging thought that he approached the house. “Oh!” said he, “that’s quite a different matter. Each of these objects bore an inscription, setting forth that it had been won at such a race, in such a year, by such a horse, belonging to the Marquis de Valorsay.

“Heaven grant that he may not recognize me!” And with a firm step he followed the valet.

Evidently he had not the slightest suspicion that the man he had tried to ruin--his mortal enemy--was standing there before him.

He had feared that he might not be able to retain his self-control when he found himself in the presence of the scoundrel who, after destroying his happiness, ruining his future, and depriving him of his honor--dearer than life itself--was at that moment endeavoring, by the most infamous manoeuvres, to rob him of the woman he loved. His arteries did not throb more quickly; it was with perfect calmness--the calmness of a strong nature--that he stealthily watched M. A man may be a scapegrace and a spendthrift and may boast of it; he may have no principle and no conscience; he may be immoral, he may defy God and the devil, but it is nevertheless true that he suffers fearful anguish of mind when he is guilty, for the first time, of a positive crime, forbidden by the laws and punishable with the galleys. Fortunat that he had suffered the tortures of the damned in his struggle to maintain a show of wealth, while he was often without a penny in his pocket, and was ever subject to the pitiless surveillance of thirty servants? His agony, when he thought of his precarious condition, could only be compared to that of a miner, who, while ascending from the bowels of the earth, finds that the rope, upon which his life depends, is slowly parting strand by strand, and who asks himself, in terror, if the few threads that still remain unsevered will be strong enough to raise him to the mouth of the pit. At last, probably fearing that Pascal was growing impatient, he looked up and said: “I am really very sorry to keep you waiting so long, but some one is waiting for this work to be completed.” “Oh!

“Strange to say, I have a little leisure at my command just now.” The marquis seemed to feel that it was necessary to make some remark in acknowledgment of this courtesy on his visitor’s part, and so, as he continued his work, he condescended to explain its purpose. It is true, however, that I have a foreigner to deal with--one of those half-civilized nabobs who come here every year to astonish the Parisians with their wealth and display, and who, by their idiotic prodigality, have so increased the price of everything that life has become well-nigh an impossibility to such of us as don’t care to squander an entire fortune in a couple of years. “Kami-Bey must be this exacting purchaser,” thought Pascal, “and it’s probable that the marquis, desperately straitened as he is, has committed one of those frauds which lead their perpetrator to prison?” The surmise was by no means far-fetched, for in sporting matters, at least, there was cause to suspect Valorsay of great elasticity of conscience. Besides, he would not concede that all was lost; and, like most great gamblers, he told himself that since he had so much at stake, he might reasonably hope to succeed. He rose, stretched himself, as a man is apt to do after the conclusion of a tiresome task, and then, leaning against the mantel-shelf, he exclaimed: “Now, Monsieur Maumejan, let us speak of the business that brings you here.” His negligent attitude and his careless tone were admirably assumed, but a shrewd observer would not have been deceived by them, or by the indifferent manner in which he added: “You bring me some money from Baron Trigault?” Pascal shook his head, as he replied: “I regret to say that I don’t, Monsieur le Marquis.” This response had the same effect as a heavy rock falling upon M. He thought to himself that if he allowed this man to see what a terrible blow this really was, he would virtually confess his absolute ruin, and have to renounce the struggle, and own himself vanquished and lost. But probably he doesn’t understand the embarrassing position in which he places me.” “Excuse me, Monsieur le Marquis, he understands it so well that, instead of informing you by a simple note, he sent me to acquaint you with his sincere regret. He was particularly anxious I should tell you that it was not his fault. “You think I am jesting, monsieur,” he said, quietly, “but I assure you that the baron is very short of money just now.” “Nonsense!

It is not the magnitude of a man’s income that constitutes affluence, but rather the way in which that income is spent. Their situation must be something like that of several millionaires of my acquaintance, who are obliged to take their silver to the pawn-broker’s while waiting for their rents to fall due.” This excuse might not be true, but it was certainly a very plausible one. Had not a recent lawsuit revealed the fact that certain rich folks, who had an income of more than a hundred thousand francs a year, had kept a thieving coachman for six months, simply because, in all that time, they were not able to raise the eight hundred francs they owed him, and which must be paid before he was dismissed? “Let us understand each other, Monsieur Maumejan,” said he; “the baron was unable to procure this money he had promised me to-day--but when will he let me have it?” Pascal opened his eyes in pretended astonishment, and it was with an air of the utmost simplicity that he replied, “I concluded the baron would take no further action in the matter. I judged so from his parting words: ‘It consoles me a little,’ he said, ‘to think that the Marquis de Valorsay is very rich and very well known, and that he has a dozen friends who will be delighted to do him this trifling service.’” Until now, M. de Valorsay had cherished a hope that the loan was only delayed, and the certainty that the decision was final, crushed him. “My ruin’s known,” he thought, and feeling that his strength was deserting him, he poured out a brimming glass of Madeira, which he emptied at a single draught. “I must say that I don’t understand your indignation, Monsieur le Marquis,” he said, coldly.

“I have a debt that must be paid this evening, at all hazards--a sacred obligation--in short, a debt of honor.” “A debt of one hundred thousand francs?” “No, it is only twenty-five thousand.” “Is it possible that a rich man like you can be troubled about such a trifling sum, which any one would lend you?” M. “Didn’t you just tell me that we were living in an age when no one has any money except those who are in business? He literally felt that he was restored to life.

For ruin was inevitable if he did not succeed in obtaining twenty-five thousand francs that day. If he could procure that amount he might obtain a momentary respite, and to gain time was the main thing. Moreover, the offer was a sufficient proof that his financial difficulties were not known. “What if I had revealed the truth!” But he was careful to conceal the secret joy that filled his heart. “Allow me to say,” he exclaimed, “that I am not any one’s subordinate. He pays me, and we are each of us perfectly independent of the other.” From the look which Valorsay gave Pascal, one would have sworn that he suspected who his visitor really was. That worthy gambler has invented this ingenious method of obliging me so as to extort a rate of interest which he would not dare to demand openly. Isn’t it a well-known fact that the N---- Brothers, the most rigidly honest financiers in the world, have never under any circumstances directly obliged one of their friends? If their own father, of whom they always speak with the greatest veneration, asked them to lend him fifty francs for a month, they would say to him as they do to every one else: ‘We are rather cramped just now; but see that rascal B----.’ And that rascal B----, who is the most pliable tool in existence, will, providing father N---- offers unquestionable security, lend the old gentleman his son’s money at from twelve to fifteen per cent.

I must warn you that it will be difficult for me to repay this loan in less than two months.” This, then, was the time he thought necessary for the accomplishment of his designs. “That does not matter,” replied Pascal, “and even if you desire a longer delay.” “That will be unnecessary, thank you! But there is one thing more.” “What is that?” “What will this negotiation cost me?” Pascal had expected this question, and he had prepared a reply which was in perfect keeping with the spirit of the role he had assumed. “Ah!” he sneered, “that strikes me as a very liberal compensation for your services!” But he would gladly have recalled the sneer when he saw how the agent received it.

Was that an exaggerated estimate of my services? I might boast with truth that I once assured the marriage of a brilliant viscount by keeping his creditors quiet while his courtship was in progress. “I see that you are a shrewd man, Monsieur Maumejan,” said he, “and if I am ever in difficulty I shall apply to you.” Pascal bowed with an air of assumed modesty; but he was inwardly jubilant, for he felt that his enemy would certainly fall into the trap which had been set for him. Question people who are in difficulties, and ninety-five out of a hundred will tell you that their worst troubles have been caused by those who called themselves their best friends.” He had risen to take leave, when the door of the smoking-room opened, and a servant appeared and said in an undertone: “Madame Leon is in the drawing-room with Dr. “It is strange that I can’t have five minutes’ peace and quietness,” he said.

“I told you that I was at home to no one.” “But----” “Enough! de Valorsay came to his relief, for as Pascal was about to open the same door by which he had entered, the marquis exclaimed: “Not that way! Maumejan.” It is not at the moment of peril that people endure the worst agony; it is afterward, when they have escaped it.

He was amazed to find that he could utter falsehoods with such a calm, unblushing face--he was astonished at his own audacity. He felt certain that he had just slipped round M. What new piece of infamy are they plotting to require his services?” One of those presentiments which are prompted by the logic of events, told him that this physician had been, or would be, one of the actors in the vile conspiracy of which he and Mademoiselle Marguerite were the victims. Through the baron, he might hope to obtain an interview with Kami-Bey--and so it was to the baron’s house that Pascal directed his steps.

After the more than cordial reception which the baron had granted him that morning, it was quite natural that the servants should receive him as a friend of the household. “Everything is progressing as favorably as I could wish, Monsieur le Baron, but I must speak with that foreigner whom I met here this morning.” “Kami-Bey?” “Yes.” And in a few words, Pascal explained the situation. He had been winning when the servant came for the baron, and he feared that an interruption would change the luck. “What the devil took you away?” he exclaimed, with that coarseness of manner which was habitual with him, and which the flatterers around him styled “form.” “A man should no more be disturbed when he’s playing than when he’s eating.” “Come, come, prince,” said the baron, good-naturedly, “don’t be angry, and I’ll give you three hours instead of two. But I have a favor to ask of you.” The foreigner at once thrust his hand into his pocket, with such a natural gesture, that neither the baron nor Pascal could repress a smile, and he himself understanding the cause of their merriment broke into a hearty laugh.

since I’ve been in Paris---- But what do you wish?” The baron sat down, and gravely replied: “You told us scarcely an hour ago that you had been cheated in the purchase of some horses.” “Cheated! “Hum!” said he, in an altered tone of voice, “that is a delicate question. My defrauder appears to be a dangerous fellow--a duellist--and if I disclose his knavery, he is quite capable of picking a quarrel with me--not that I am afraid of him, I assure you, but my principles don’t allow me to fight. When a man has an income of a million, he doesn’t care to expose himself to the dangers of a duel.” “But, prince, in France folks don’t do a scoundrel the honor to cross swords with him.” “That’s just what my steward, who is a Frenchman, told me; but no matter. He deliberated some time, and then rejoined: “Really, I’m not sufficiently convinced of the accuracy of my suspicions to incur the risk of accusing a man who belongs in the very best society; a man who is very rich and very highly respected, and who would tolerate no imputations upon his character.” It was plain that he would not speak. “Then I will tell you, prince,” he said, “the name that you are determined to hide from us.” “Oh!” “But you must allow me to remark that the baron and myself retract the promise we made you just now.” “Naturally.” “Then, your defrauder is the Marquis de Valorsay!” If Kami-Bey had seen an emissary of his sovereign enter the room carrying the fatal bow-string he would not have seemed more terror-stricken. “Now that we know the fact, I hope, Prince, that you will be sufficiently obliging to tell us how it all happened,” he remarked.

Not that I care much for sport. I had purchased several, when the Marquis de Valorsay proposed to sell me some of his, some that were very well known, and that had--so he assured me--won at least ten times the amount they had cost him. It must be confessed that frauds of every description are common enough in the racing world, and a great deal of dishonest manoeuvring results from greed for gain united with the fever of gambling. But never before had any one been accused of such an audacious and impudent piece of rascality as that which Kami-Bey imputed to Valorsay. that’s another thing. I shouldn’t be at all surprised if it were proved that the man who has charge of my stables had been bribed by the marquis.” “Then, how were your suspicions aroused?” “It was only by the merest chance.

Naturally, I showed him the horse, but he had no sooner set eyes on it than he exclaimed: ‘That the horse!

How is it possible that he could have been guilty of so gross a fraud--a fraud which might be, which could not fail to be discovered in twenty-four hours--and which, once proven, would dishonor him forever?” “Before perpetrating such a piece of deception upon any one else, he would have thought twice; but upon me it’s different. Isn’t it an established fact that a person incurs no risk in robbing Kami-Bey?” “Had I been in your place I should have quietly instituted an investigation.” “What good would that have done? why didn’t you tell us that at first?” cried the baron. Finding himself in a desperate strait, and feeling that his salvation was certain if he could only gain a little time, he had yielded to temptation, saying to himself, like unfaithful cashiers when they first appropriate their employers’ money: “I will pay it back, and no one will ever know it!” However, when the day of settlement came he had found himself in as deplorable a plight as on the day of the robbery, and he had been compelled to yield to the force of circumstances. If it were a mere question of money I should let the matter drop; but he has defrauded and deceived me so outrageously that it annoys me. On the other hand, to confess that he has cheated me in this fashion would cover me with ridicule.

I’d give ten thousand francs to any one who’d settle this cursed affair for me!” His perplexity was so great, and his anger so intense, for that once he tore off his eternal fez and flung it on to the table, swearing like a drayman. “I will profit by this opportunity to eat something,” he thought; a sudden faintness reminding him that he had taken nothing but a cup of chocolate that day. He would have gone there before the appointed time if he had merely listened to the promptings of his impatience, so thoroughly was he persuaded that this second interview would be decisive. Whatever happens, such a sum as that can always be gathered from the wreck. that requires reflection, and I must understand the situation thoroughly.” “And if I told you that I am--almost ruined, what would you reply?” “I shouldn’t be so very much surprised.” M. You should have told me that sooner.” “Wait; I am about to retrieve my fortune--to make it even larger than it has ever been.

You told me this morning that you once assisted a man who was in a similar position. Still, he succeeded in conquering his emotion, and it was in a perfectly calm voice that he replied: “I can promise nothing until I understand the situation, Monsieur le Marquis. “No doubt about that. It was not until some moments later that they learned a portion of the truth through the servants who had been on duty upstairs, and who now ran down in great terror, crying that Madame d’Argeles was dying, and that a physician must be summoned at once. In this frightful crisis, he was only conscious of one fact--that just as he raised his hand to strike Madame Lia d’Argeles, his mother, a big, burly individual had burst into the room, like a bombshell, caught him by the throat, forced him upon his knees, and compelled him to ask the lady’s pardon. He would never endure that. This was an affront he could not swallow, one of those insults that cry out for vengeance and for blood. A duel was the only thing that could appease his furious anger and heal his wounded pride. He saw his already remarkable reputation enhanced by the interest that always attaches to people who are talked about, and he could hear in advance the flattering whisper which would greet his appearance everywhere: “You see that young man?--he is the hero of that famous adventure,” etc. It was not the terrible sacrifice that this poor woman had made for him in a transport of maternal love!

“He was too clever for that. He had a stronger stomach, and was up with the times!” If he were sorely vexed in spirit it was because he thought that the immense property which he had believed his own had slipped, perhaps for ever, from his grasp.

He was certain that Madame d’Argeles would not give him another sou. She could not--he recognized that fact. His intelligence was equal to that. His despair was so poignant that tears came to his eyes; and he bitterly deplored the step he had taken. Yes, he sighed for that time! He sincerely wished that the great adversary of mankind had the Viscount de Coralth in his clutches. For, in his despair, it was the once dear viscount that he blamed, accused, and cursed. “They have heard that I was looking for them, and so they have hastened here,” he thought. Prudence had compelled the viscount to leave Madame d’Argeles’s card-party one of the last, but as soon as he was out of the house he had rushed to the Marquis de Valorsay’s to hold a conference with him, far from suspecting that he was followed, and that an auxiliary of Pascal Ferailleur and Mademoiselle Marguerite was even then waiting for him below--an enemy as formidable as he was humble--Victor Chupin.

At sight of the man who had so long been his model--the friend who had advised what he styled his blunder--Wilkie was so surprised that he almost dropped his lamp. Prudence, calmness and moderation, persuasive gentleness, sentiments of the loftiest nature, tenderness, a shower of tears----” “Possibly, but----” “But instead of that, you fall upon this woman like a thunderbolt, and set the whole household in the wildest commotion. Still toward the last he felt disposed to rebel against the insults that were being heaped upon him. “Do you know, viscount, that I begin to think this very strange,” he exclaimed. de Coralth shrugged his shoulders with an air of contempt, and threateningly replied: “Understand, once for all, that you had better not attempt to bully me! Do you suppose that I intend to remain here all night? Wilkie’s greatest boasts that he had an indomitable will--an iron nature.

Moreover, a glimmer of reason had at last penetrated his befogged brain: he saw that M. de Coralth was right--that he had acted like a fool, and that, if he hoped to escape from the dangers that threatened him, he must take the advice of more experienced men than himself. if it hadn’t been for that---- But I shall have my revenge. Yes, he shall learn that he can’t trample a man under foot with impunity. To-morrow two of my friends will call upon him; and if he refuses to apologize or to give me satisfaction, I’ll cane him.” It was evident enough that M. “I must warn you that you ought to speak in other terms of an honorable and honored gentleman,” he interrupted, at last. So it was Baron Trigault--the noted gambler--who owns such a magnificent house in the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque, the husband of that extremely stylish lady, that notorious cocotte----” The viscount sprang from his chair, and interrupting M. de Coralth’s tone, and his glance said plainly that he would not allow much time to pass before putting his threat into execution.

Having always lived in a lower circle to that in which the baroness sparkled with such lively brilliancy, M. Wilkie was ignorant of the reasons that induced his distinguished friend to defend her so warmly; but he DID understand that it would be highly imprudent to insist, or even to discuss the matter. You ought to have sense enough to know that the baron would kick Serpillon out of the house, and that you would only cover yourself with ridicule. de Coralth seemed to consider a moment, and then gravely replied: “I think that, UNASSISTED, you have no chance whatever. that is precisely what I have said to myself.” “Still, I am convinced that with some assistance you might overcome your mother’s resistance, and even your father’s pretentions.” “Yes, but where could I find protectors?” The viscount’s gravity seemed to increase. “You cannot fail to understand that if the Marquis de Valorsay espouses your cause, you will want for nothing. Wilkie lack confidence after that? What rapture to become that illustrious nobleman’s acquaintance, perhaps his friend!

He felt that he had grown a head taller, and Heaven only knows with what disdain poor Costard and Serpillon would have been received had they chanced to present themselves at that moment. It is needless to say that Wilkie dressed with infinite care on the following morning, no doubt in the hope of making a conquest of the marquis at first sight. He tried his best to solve the problem of appearing at the same time most recherche but at ease, excessively elegant and yet unostentatious; and he devoted himself to the task so unreservedly that he lost all conception of the flight of time: so that on seeing M.

de Coralth enter his rooms, he exclaimed in unfeigned astonishment: “You here already?” It seemed to him that barely five minutes had elapsed since he took his place before the looking-glass to study attitudes and gestures, with a new and elegant mode of bowing and sitting down, like an actor practising the effects which are to win him applause. Wilkie himself was insensible to fatigue, and although he had not closed his eyes the previous night, he only felt that nervous trepidation which invariably attacks debutants, and makes the throat so marvellously dry.

Wilkie distrusted his own powers, and feared that he was not “quite up to the mark,” as he elegantly expressed it. Wilkie mentally acknowledged that he knew nothing of high life, and that what he had considered luxury was scarcely the shadow of the reality.

This feeling of inferiority became so powerful that he was almost tempted to turn and fly, when the man clothed in black opened the door and announced, in a clear voice: “M. Wilkie noticed that his friend understood how to present the events in their most favorable light, and how to omit them altogether when his heartless conduct would have appeared too odious.

He also noticed--and he considered it an excellent omen--that M. When the viscount had concluded his story, he gravely exclaimed: “Your young friend is indeed in a most critical position, a position from which he cannot escape without being terribly victimized, if he’s left dependent on his own resources.” “But it is understood that you will help him, is it not?” M. I promise you my aid on one condition--that you will follow my advice implicitly.” The interesting young man lifted his hand, and, by dint of a powerful effort, he succeeded in articulating: “Anything you wish!--upon my sacred word!” “You must understand that when I engage in an enterprise, it must not fail. But I cannot accept this great responsibility unless I am allowed absolute control of the affair.” “And I think that we ought to begin operations this very day. “I would willingly yield that undertaking to some one else,” said he.

It was easy to see that by the way he settled his hat on his head and went off, slamming the door noisily behind him.

“And to think that there are ten thousand in Paris built upon the very same plan!” M. “Let us thank fortune that he is as he is.

No youth who possessed either heart or intelligence would play the part that I intend for him, and enable me to obtain proud Marguerite and her millions. You noticed his repugnance!” “Oh, you needn’t trouble yourself in the least on that account--he’ll go. Besides, she won’t eat me.” And remembering that he should be obliged to render a report of this interview, he resolved to assert his superiority and to remain cool and unmoved, as he had seen M. Wilkie, “it was fortunate that I came--very fortunate; so she was going to run away!” Thereupon, approaching a group of servants who were in close conference in the hall, he demanded, in his most imperious manner: “Madame d’Argeles!” The servants remembered the visitor perfectly; they now knew who he really was, and they could not understand how he could have the impudence and audacity to come there again so soon after the shameful scene of the previous evening. It was only necessary to look at her to be assured of that. She was so greatly changed that when M. you can’t make me believe that! This sudden change of residence, this departure which so strongly resembled flight, this cold greeting when he expected passionate reproaches, seemed to indicate that Madame d’Argeles’s resolution would successfully resist any amount of entreaty on his part.

That’s what I am after! And when I’ve once taken anything into my head----” He paused, for he could no longer face the scornful glances that Madame d’Argeles was giving him.

I felt that no amount of slander or disgrace would daunt you.” “Of course not, when so many millions are at stake.” “I reflected, and I saw that nothing would arrest you upon your downward path except a large fortune. I only desire that the name of Lia d’Argeles should not be mentioned. I will give you the necessary proofs to establish your identity; my marriage contract and your certificate of birth.” It was joy that made M.

Manifestly he ought to assume that stolid and insolent air of boredom which is considered a sure indication of birth and breeding. I will tell you, however--for you may be ignorant of the fact--that our house is the equal of any in France in lineage, splendor of alliance, and fortune. Certainly everything that money could procure, or vanity desire, was within my reach; and yet my youth was wretchedly unhappy. The only conversation I heard dealt with the means of leaving all the family fortune to my brother, so that he might uphold the splendor of the name, and with the necessity of marrying me to some superannuated nobleman who would take me without a dowry, or of compelling me to enter one of those aristocratic convents, which are the refuge, and often the prison, of poor girls of noble birth.

it is only too true that when our glances met for the first time, my heart was stirred to its inmost depths; I felt that it was no longer mine--that I was no longer free! This man, who was a corrupt and audacious hypocrite, had that air of apparent nobility and frankness which inspires you with unlimited confidence, and the melancholy expression on his features seemed to indicate that he had known sorrow, and had good cause to rail at destiny. I afterward learned that this was only a natural result of the wild life he had led. The moment a letter addressed to me in an unknown hand was covertly handed me by my maid, I divined that it came from him. from that moment my conduct was inexcusable. I knew that it was worse than a fault to continue this clandestine correspondence. I knew that I was risking my reputation, the spotless honor of our house, my happiness, and life! Still I persisted--I was possessed with a strange madness that made me ready to brave every danger. At the very same time he was pursuing two other rich young girls, persuaded that one of the three would certainly become his victim. I felt that one or the other of these two men--my lover or my brother--would not leave that room alive.

Defend yourself, and save your life if you can!’ And as Arthur hesitated, and seemed to be trying to gain time instead of picking up the weapon that was lying on the floor near him, my brother struck him in the face with the flat side of his sword, and cried: ‘Now will you fight, you coward!

Then I, too, lost consciousness and fell!” Any one who had seen Madame d’Argeles as she stood there recoiling in horror, with her features contracted, and her eyes dilated, would have realized that by strength of will she had dispelled the mists enshrouding the past, and distinctly beheld the scene she was describing. She seemed to experience anew the same agony of terror she had felt twenty years before; and this lent such poignant intensity to the interest of her narrative that if M. You, who witnessed the scene, know that it was so. I did not know that by throwing himself upon my brother before he was on guard, Arthur Gordon had virtually assassinated him. But don’t tremble, I know that you are not in my house of your own free will. Slander will not venture to attack such a family as yours.’ He spoke in the constrained tone, and with that air which a brave man, condemned to death, would assume in giving utterance to his last wishes.

Nothing matters now that I must live apart from you’! He could not link my destiny to his, for misery had ever been his lot; and now that this last and most terrible misfortune had overtaken him, he was more than ever convinced that there was a curse hanging over him! The more forcibly he showed the horror of the sacrifice, the more I was convinced that my honor compelled me to make it. ‘I accept it; and before the God who is looking down upon us, I swear that I will do all that is in human power to repay such sublime and marvellous devotion.’ And, bending over me, he printed a kiss upon my forehead. A vehicle was indeed waiting at the door, but not for the purpose of conveying me to the Hotel de Chalusse--as was proved conclusively by the fact that his trunks were already strapped upon it. It was not until some months afterward that these trifles, which entirely escaped my notice at the time, opened my eyes to the truth. Remembering that God has said to woman: To follow thy husband thou shalt abandon all else, native land, paternal home, parents and friends, I told myself that this was the husband whom my heart had instinctively chosen, and that it was my duty to follow him and share his destiny. Wilkie was actually so much interested that he forgot his anxiety concerning his attitude, and no longer thought of M. On our arrival at Le Havre the next day, Arthur confessed that he was greatly embarrassed financially.

My education had been absurd, like that of most young girls in my station. I knew, of course, that there were rich people and poor people, that money was a necessity, and that those who did not possess it would stoop to any meanness to obtain it. But all this was not very clear in my mind, and I never suspected that a few francs more or less would be a matter of vital importance. However, the total value was comparatively small, and such was Arthur’s disappointment that he made a remark which frightened me even then, though I did not fully understand its shameful meaning until afterward: ‘A woman who repairs to a rendezvous should always have all the valuables she possesses about her.

The voyage was one long torture to me, for it was then that I first served my apprenticeship in shame and disgrace. By the captain’s offensive gallantry, the lower officers’ familiarity of manner, and the sailors’ ironical glances whenever I appeared on deck, I saw that my position was a secret for no one. Everybody knew that I was the mistress and not the wife of the man whom I called my husband: and, without being really conscious of it, perhaps, they made me cruelly expiate my fault. Moreover, reason had regained its ascendency, my eyes were gradually opening to the truth, and I was beginning to learn the real character of the scoundrel for whom I had sacrificed all that makes life desirable. “Not that he had wholly ceased to practise dissimulation. He declared he bitterly regretted that our love affair had ended so disastrously. It was deplorable to think that so happily conceived and so skilfully conducted a scheme should have terminated in bloodshed. why had he not acted differently?--that was what I vainly puzzled my brain to explain. I hoped that he would now cease his constant complaints, but he seemed even more displeased than before. ‘With this money, I might easily have married a wife worth a hundred thousand dollars, and then I should be rich at last!’ After that, I had good reason to expect that I should soon be forsaken--but no, shortly after our arrival, he married me.

I took the paper as he bade me, and read that my brother had not been killed, that he was improving, and that his recovery was now certain.

‘From that time forward, I noticed he displayed the feverish anxiety of a man who feels that he is constantly threatened with some great danger. He pretends that I tried to murder him!’ It was strange; but Arthur Gordon, who was bravery personified, and who exposed himself again and again to the most frightful dangers, felt a wild, unreasoning, inconceivable fear of my brother. It was this dread that had decided him to burden himself with me. He feared that if he left me, lying unconscious beside my brother’s lifeless form, I might on recovering my senses reveal the truth, and unconsciously act as his accuser. It was not until we reached Paris that I discovered the reasons that had influenced him in returning to Europe. At last the hour of my vengeance had arrived; for I had taken a solemn oath that this scoundrel who had ruined me should never enjoy the fortune which had been his only object in seducing me. “When I told him that I was resolved not to assert my rights, he seemed utterly confounded.

And when he found that my decision was irrevocable, I thought he would have an attack of apoplexy. It made him wild with rage to think that he was only separated from this immense fortune--the dream of his life--by a single word of mine, and to find that he had not the power to extort that word from me. But it was in vain that he resorted to brutal treatment; in vain that he struck me, tortured me, and dragged me about the floor by the hair of my head! The thought that I was avenged, that his sufferings equalled mine, increased my courage a hundredfold, and made me almost insensible to physical pain. He said to himself that if he could not conquer the wife, he COULD conquer the mother and he threatened to turn his brutality to you, Wilkie.

However, it was not pity for his mother’s sufferings, nor shame for his father’s infamy that agitated him, but ever the same terrible fear of incurring the enmity of this dangerous coveter of the Chalusse millions. “A hundred francs was all that I possessed. I said to myself that we could live there together by my work, Wilkie. I had no one to recommend me, and I scarcely dared show myself in the streets, so great was my fear that your father would discover our hiding-place. People sneered at me, and replied (when they deigned to reply at all) that ‘there was no business doing, and they had all the help they wanted.’ My evident inexperience was probably the cause of many of these refusals, as well as my attire, for I still had the appearance of being a rich woman. Then I pawned and sold everything that was not absolutely indispensable until nothing was left me but my patched dress and a single skirt. And all that night and all the next day, aimless and hopeless, we wandered about the streets. There was a strange fascination--a promise of peace in its depths--that impelled me almost irresistibly to plunge into the flood.

“You did well to hesitate.” She did not even hear him, but continued: “I at last decided that it was best to put an end to this misery, and rising with difficulty, I was approaching the parapet, when a gruff voice beside us exclaimed: ‘What are you doing there?’ I turned, thinking some police officer had spoken, but I was mistaken. Perhaps it was an unconscious horror of death that made me long for any token of human sympathy. He thought that reflection would cure me of my folly.

By taking certain precautions, and by establishing this gambling den in a private drawing-room, they believed the scheme practicable, and came to suggest that I should keep the drawing-room in question, and be their partner in the enterprise. And that same week this house was rented and furnished, and I was installed in it under the name of Lia d’Argeles. There still remained the task of creating for myself one of those scandalous reputations that attract public attention. I tried to convince myself that appearances are nothing, that reality is everything, and that it did not matter if I were known as a courtesan since rumor lied, and my life WAS really chaste. I had discovered that the business would prove successful; and for your sake, I longed for money as passionately, as madly, as any miser.

The unhappy woman had told her story with apparent coldness, and yet, in her secret heart, she perhaps hoped that by disclosing her terrible sacrifice and long martyrdom, she would draw a burst of gratitude and tenderness from her son, calculated to repay her for all her sufferings. And as he sprang up, astonished that any one should doubt his abundant supply of good sense, “Let us put an end to this,” she sternly added. “It is that you should sign this deed, which has been drawn up by my notary--a deed by which you pledge yourself to hand me the sum of two million francs on the day you come into possession of the Chalusse property.” Two millions! Nor did he forget that he would be compelled to give the Viscount de Coralth the large reward he had promised him--a reward promised in writing, unfortunately.

When I was a girl I often heard my father say that his income amounted to more than eight hundred thousand francs a year. My brother inherited the whole property, and I would be willing to swear that he never spent more than half of his income.” Wilkie’s nerves had never been subjected to so severe a shock. Wilkie took it up, placed it carefully in his pocket, and then exclaimed: “That being the case, I consent to sign, but after this you need not complain. “Ah!” “I intend one of these two millions to serve as the dowry of a young girl who would have been the Count de Chalusse’s sole legatee, if his death had not been so sudden and so unexpected.” “And the other one?” “The other I intend to invest for you in such a way that you can only touch the interest of it, so that you will not want for bread after you have squandered your inheritance, even to the very last penny.” This wise precaution could not fail to shock such a brilliant young man as M. But he attempted to prove that he was no fool by reading and rereading the contract before he would consent to append his name to it. “You don’t know that it’s the marquis----” She paused abruptly. All that he is regretting, you have a right to hope for. He vaguely felt that he ought not to leave his mother in this style.

But you are going to give me your new address.” “No.” “What?--No!” She shook her head sadly, and in a scarcely audible voice responded: “It is not likely that we shall meet again.” “And the two millions that I am to turn over to you?” “Mr. As for me, say to yourself that I’m dead. You have broken the only link that bound me to life, by proving the futility of the most terrible sacrifices. However, I am a mother, and I forgive you.” Then as he did not move, and as she felt that her strength was deserting her, she dragged herself from the room, murmuring, “Farewell!” XVI. Not that he repented, he was incapable of that; but there are hours when the most hardened conscience is touched, and when long dormant instincts at last assert their rights.

But reflection, remembrance of the Viscount de Coralth, and the Marquis de Valorsay, made him silent the noblest voice that had spoken in his soul for many a long day. Unfortunately he failed to find this friend, and eager to vent the pride that was suffocating him, in some way or other, he entered the shop of an engraver, whom he crushed by his importance, and ordered some visiting cards bearing the inscription W. Thus occupied, time flew by so quickly that he was a trifle late in keeping his appointment with his dear friend the marquis. Not that the marquis had been idle, but it had barely taken him an hour to set in motion the machinery which he had had in complete readiness since the evening before. “Is that really so?” “It is, indeed.

Imagine the amazement of Paris when it learns that Lia d’Argeles was a virtuous woman, who sacrificed her reputation for the sake of her son--a martyr, whose disgrace was only a shameful falsehood invented by two men of rank to increase the attractions of their gambling-den! He is a clever fellow, honest, intelligent, and well up in his business--such a man as you will need, in fact, and I won’t try to conceal the fact that the hope of entering your service has aided considerably in unloosening his tongue.” M. “I never deny my words,” replied the valet, “and since monsieur is the heir to the property, I won’t hesitate to tell him that immense sums have been stolen from the late count’s estate.” M. We servants were terribly alarmed, for we feared that suspicion would fall upon us.” Ah! de Coralth, he felt that he must maintain an air of stoical indifference. that’s a good haul. “I shouldn’t like to accuse an innocent person,” he replied, “but there was some one who constantly had access to that escritoire.” “And who was that?” “Mademoiselle Marguerite.” “I don’t know the lady.” “She’s a young girl who is--at least people say--the count’s illegitimate daughter.

Even Bourigeau said to me: ‘That’s unnatural, M. “A robbery of two millions!” The marquis shook his head, and remarked, gravely: “That’s a mere nothing.

No definite words had passed between them--they were both too shrewd for that; and yet, a compact had been concluded by which each had tacitly agreed to serve the other according to his need. de Valorsay rose and shook hands with him; then, offering him an arm-chair, he remarked: “I will not conceal from you, doctor, that I have in some measure prepared this gentleman”--designating M. Wilkie--“for your terrible revelation.” By the doctor’s attitude, a keen observer might have divined the secret trepidation that always precedes a bad action which has been conceived and decided upon in cold blood.

“To tell the truth,” he began, speaking slowly, and with some difficulty, “now that the moment for speaking has come, I almost hesitate. I am a man, that is to say, I am liable to error. When I asked what this vial contained, the answer was: ‘A medicine to prevent apoplexy.’ I don’t say that this is false, but prove it. As for the motive that led to the crime, it is apparent at once.

Show me the vial, find the money, and I will admit that I am wrong. “It could only have been the person likely to profit by it; and only one person besides the count knew that the money was in the house, and had possession of the key of this escritoire.” “And this person?” “Is the count’s illegitimate daughter, who lived in the house with him--Mademoiselle Marguerite.” M. de Valorsay seemed to reflect for a moment; and then he solemnly exclaimed: “I should feel that my honor required me to investigate every circumstance connected with this mysterious affair. How would you set about solving this mystery?” “I should appeal to the authorities.” “Ah!” “And this very day, this very hour, without losing a second, I should address a communication to the public prosecutor, informing him of the robbery which is patent to any one, and referring to the possibility of foul play.” “Yes, that would be an excellent idea; but there is one slight drawback--I don’t know how to draw up such a communication.” “I know no more about it than you do yourself; but any lawyer or notary will give you the necessary information.

Write: ‘Maumejan, Route de la Revolte.’ Tell him that I sent you, and he will treat you with the same consideration as he would show to me. You may tell me that this is a downfall, but I will answer, ‘It will give me a living.’ Medicine is becoming a more and more unremunerative profession. The marquis was so sure of this, that he quickly exclaimed: “Ah, my dear doctor, if you have need of twenty thousand francs, I shall be only too happy to offer them to you.” “Really?” “Upon my honor!” “And when can you let me have the money?” “In three or four days’ time.” The bargain was concluded. And, approaching his acolyte, who was sitting silent and motionless in an arm-chair, he slapped him on the shoulder, exclaiming: “Are you ill that you sit there like that, as still as a mummy?” The viscount turned as if he had been suddenly aroused from slumber.

I was thinking of the fate that you are preparing for us.” “Oh! that is the cause of my anxiety. It was not until after he had walked five or six times round the smoking-room and grown more calm that he returned to the viscount’s side. This morning I might have doubted, but now, thanks to that vain idiot who goes by the name of Wilkie, I am sure, perfectly, mathematically sure of success. Maumejan, who is entirely devoted to me, and who is the greediest, most avaricious scoundrel alive, will draw up such a complaint that Marguerite will sleep in prison.

You may say that there are seals upon the furniture, placed there by the justice of the peace. That’s true, but this man tells me that he can remove and replace them in such a way as to defy detection; and as the lock has been forced once already--the day after the count’s death--a second attempt to break the escritoire open will not be detected.” The viscount remarked, with an ironical air: “All that is perfect; but the autopsy will reveal the falseness of the accusation.” “Naturally--but an autopsy will require time, and that will suit my plans admirably. Remember, now, that your dark forebodings are only chimeras! A robbery has been committed, it’s true; but I know the real culprit--a scoundrel who fancied that by destroying a single letter he would annihilate all traces of the breach of fidelity he had committed. Maumejan, who has examined it, guarantees that the value of the count’s estate cannot be less than ten millions. Come, confess that the plan is admirable!” “Admirable, undoubtedly; but terribly complicated.

Still, it was in a careless tone that ill accorded with his state of mind that the marquis replied: “The poor devil must be en route for America by this time.” The viscount shook his head. “That’s what I’ve in vain been trying to convince myself of,” said he. “Do you know that Pascal was virtually expelled from the Palais de Justice, and that his name has been struck off the list of advocates? Secondly, she remained for more than an hour yesterday evening in the drawing-room with the General’s son, Lieutenant Gustave, and, on parting, they shook hands like a couple of friends, and said, ‘It is agreed.’” “And is that all?” “One moment and you’ll see. I do not know what took place there, but there must have been a terrible scene; for they brought Mademoiselle Marguerite back unconscious, in one of the baron’s carriages.” “Do you hear that, viscount?” exclaimed M. Ferailleur for you in less than a fortnight.” It is true that M. I’m well aware that I can’t go to M. On and after to-morrow evening I will watch for you; and if I don’t come down at the end of half an hour, you will know that I am unavoidably detained.” Chupin ought to have been satisfied. But no, he had still another request to make; and instinct, supplying the lack of education, told him that it was a delicate one.

Indeed, he dared not present his petition; but his embarrassment was so evident, and he twisted his poor cap so despairingly, that at last the young girl gently asked him: “Is there anything more?” He still hesitated, but eventually, mustering all his courage, he replied: “Well, yes, mademoiselle. Did you notice, monsieur, that she did not offer to pay me. She understood that I offered to work for her for my own pleasure, for my own satisfaction and honor. How provoked I should have been!” Chupin was so fascinated that he wished no reward for his toil! This was so astonishing that M. Chupin knew this, and so he quickly resumed: “When I become rich, when I’m a great banker, and have a host of clerks who spend their time in counting my gold behind a grating, I should like to have a wife of my own like that.

But I must be off about my business now, so till we meet again, monsieur.” The foregoing conversation will explain how it happened that Madame Leon chanced to surprise her dear young lady in close conversation with a vagabond clad in a blouse. His starting point was that Pascal had lived in the Rue d’Ulm, and had suddenly gone off with his mother, with the apparent intention of sailing for America. Still Mademoiselle Marguerite had convinced him that instead of leaving Paris, Pascal was really still there, only waiting for an opportunity to establish his innocence, and to wreak his vengeance upon M. He learned that at nine o’clock on the sixteenth of October Madame Ferailleur, after seeing her trunks securely strapped on to a cab had entered the vehicle, ordering the driver to take her to the Railway Station in the Place du Havre! He mentioned, however, that this cab had been procured by Madame Ferailleur’s servant-woman, who lived only a few steps from the house. All she could say was that she had hired it at the cab stand in the Rue Soufflot, and that the driver was a portly, pleasant-faced man. He added that his duty only consisted in noting the arrivals and departures of the drivers, and that he could give no information whatever.

Pausing in his walk, he had taken off his cap and was scratching his head furiously, when suddenly he exclaimed: “What an ass I am!” in so loud a tone that several passers-by turned to see who was applying this unflattering epithet to himself. “If any one can help me out of this difficulty, it must be that fellow,” he said to himself. “Since that is the case, pray take a seat, and tell me how I can serve you,” he replied. However, this lady is a relative of my employer, and he so much wishes to find her that he would willingly give a hundred francs over and above the amount you owe him, to ascertain the number of the vehicle. He pretends that you can give him this number if you choose; and it isn’t an impossibility, is it?” “On the contrary, nothing could be easier,” replied the clerk, glad of an opportunity to explain the ingenious mechanism of the office to an outsider. Here is a list of the vehicles that arrived or left from a quarter to nine o’clock till a quarter past nine.

“What is the use of doing that?” he said, disdainfully. Listen: Friday, at ten minutes past nine, sent to the Rue d’Ulm---- do you think of that?” “It’s astonishing! I can promise you that M. As the servant-woman had said, he was a stout, jovial-faced man, and he did not hesitate to accept a glass of “no matter what” in a wine-shop that was still open. Whether he believed the story that Chupin told to excuse his questions or not, at all events he answered them very readily. He had fancied that Madame Ferailleur had merely announced her intention of driving to the Havre railway station so as to set possible spies on the wrong track, and he would have willingly wagered anything, that after going a short distance she had given the cabman different instructions. Thinking over all this, Chupin slept but little that night, and the next morning, before five o’clock, he was wandering about the Rue d’Amsterdam peering into the wine-shops in search of some railway porter. This circumstance had been impressed on the porter’s mind by the fact that the woman had not given him a farthing gratuity, although he had been much more obliging than the regulations required.

I keep a wine-shop on the Route d’Asnieres, and if you ever happen to pass that way with one of your comrades, come in, and I’ll reward you with a famous drink!” What had exasperated the porter almost beyond endurance, was the certainty he felt that she was mocking him. Now that he had discovered the stratagem which Madame Ferailleur had employed to elude her pursuers, his conjectures were changed into certainties. This information proved that Pascal WAS concealed somewhere in Paris; but where? She had said that she kept a wine-shop on the Route d’Asnieres. Was it not more likely that this vague direction was only a fresh precaution? Chupin had not thought of the only hypothesis that could explain what seemed inexplicable to him. However, he knew how to conceal his satisfaction, and so with an air of disappointment, he remarked: “That’s too bad! I’m employed in the baggage room of the western railway station, and I wanted to know if your wife didn’t call there a few days ago for some trunks?” The landlord’s features betrayed the vague perturbation of a person who can count the days by his mistakes, and it was with evident hesitation that he replied: “Yes, my wife went to the Havre station for some baggage last Sunday.” “I thought so. He turned pale with anger on beholding his supposed creditor, and quickly slipping between the visitor and the door, he said: “So your name is Victor Chupin?” “Yes, certainly.” “And you are in the employment of the Railway Company?” “As I just told you.” “That doesn’t prevent you from acting as a collector, does it?” Chupin instinctively recoiled, convinced that he had betrayed himself by some blunder, but unable to discover in what he had erred.

“I did do something in that line formerly,” he faltered. “So you confess that you are a vile scoundrel!” he exclaimed. “You confess that you purchased an old promissory note of mine for fourpence, and then sent a man here to seize my goods! Take that!” And so saying, he dealt his supposed creditor a terrible blow with his clinched fist that sent him reeling to the other end of the shop. In the open field, he could easily have protected himself; but here in this narrow space, and hemmed in a corner, he felt that despite this barrier he was lost. “What a devil of a mess!” he thought, as with wonderful agility he avoided Vantrasson’s fist, a fist that would have felled an ox. Maumejan seemed perfectly satisfied with this explanation; and in the indifferent tone of a man who is delivering a message, the meaning of which he scarcely understood, he said: “A person who knows that your wife is in my employ requested me to ask you if you would be ready to attend to that little matter she spoke of.” “Certainly. “That’s M. At that moment Chupin darted toward him, and softly called, “M’sieur Ferailleur!” The young man turned instinctively.

Then seeing his mistake, and feeling that he had betrayed himself, he sprang upon Chupin, and caught him by the wrists: “Scoundrel! and what was the fate that he held in reserve for her, and that made him so sanguine of success? The impression produced upon her mind was so terrible that for a moment she thought of hastening to the old justice of the peace to ask for his protection and a refuge. Alone, free from all espionage, and wishing to ward off despondency by occupation, Mademoiselle Marguerite was just beginning a letter to her friend the old magistrate, when a servant entered and announced that her dressmaker was there and wished to speak with her. You write me word that the Fondeges are spending money lavishly; try and find out the names of the people they deal with, and communicate them to me. Once more, I tell you that I am sure of success. Courage!” “Well!” said the spurious dressmaker, when she saw that Marguerite had finished reading the letter. “What answer shall I take my brother-in-law?” “Tell him that he shall certainly have the information he requires to-morrow.

The future that had seemed so gloomy only a moment before, had now suddenly brightened. Thus it was with a placid and almost smiling face that she successively greeted Madame Leon, who returned home quite played out, then Madame de Fondege, who made her appearance attended by two shop-boys overladen with packages, and finally the General, who brought his son, Lieutenant Gustave, with him to dinner. He bowed to Mademoiselle Marguerite with a smile that was too becoming to be displeasing; and he offered her his arm with an air of triumph to lead her to the dining-room, as soon as the servant came to announce that “Madame la Comtesse was served.” Seated opposite to him at table, the young girl could not refrain from furtively watching the man whom they wished to compel her to marry. It was evident that he was doing his best to produce a favorable impression; but as the dinner progressed, his conversation became rather venturesome. He gradually grew extremely animated; and three or four adventures of garrison life which he persisted in relating despite his mother’s frowns, were calculated to convince his hearers that he was a great favorite with the fair sex. It was the good cheer that loosened his tongue. There could be no possible doubt on that score; and, indeed, while drinking a glass of the Chateau Laroze, to which Madame Leon had taken such a liking, he was indiscreet enough to declare that if his mother had always kept house in this fashion, he should have been inclined to ask for more frequent leaves of absence. Madame de Fondege was the first to disappear on the pretext that some domestic affairs required her attention. It was evident enough to the young girl that this had been preconcerted; and she asked herself what kind of an opinion M. The proceeding made her so indignant that she was on the point of rising from the table and of retiring like the others, when reason restrained her.

She said to herself that perhaps she might gain some useful information from this young man, and so she remained. The effort that he was making in his intense desire to be eloquent and persuasive absorbed the attention of all his faculties. ‘Mademoiselle Marguerite does this; Mademoiselle Marguerite does that.’ They never cease talking of you, declaring that heart, wit, talent, beauty, all womanly charms are united in your person. And they have never wearied of telling me that the man whom you honored with your preference would be the happiest of mortals. I felt sure that I should dislike you; but I have seen you and all is changed.

But she shrank from the contact as from red-hot iron, and rising hurriedly, with her eyes flashing, and her voice quivering with indignation: “Monsieur!” she exclaimed, “Monsieur!” He was so surprised that he stood as if petrified, with his eyes wide open and his hand still extended. “Who has told you that you could address such words to me with impunity?” she continued. And that is why they have left us, and why no servant has appeared. And a happy inspiration entering his mind, he continued: “A man does not insult a woman, mademoiselle, when, while telling her that he loves her and thinks her beautiful, he offers her his name and life.” Mademoiselle Marguerite shrugged her shoulders ironically, and remained for a moment silent. She was very proud, and her pride had been cruelly wounded; but reason told her that a continuation of this scene would render a prolonged sojourn in the General’s house impossible; and where could she go, without exciting malevolent remarks? But she remembered that a quarrel and a rupture with the Fondeges would certainly imperil the success of her plans.

“So I will swallow even this affront,” she said to herself; and then in a tone of melancholy bitterness, she remarked, aloud: “A man cannot set a very high value on his name when he offers it to a woman whom he knows absolutely nothing about.” “Excuse me--you forget that my mother----” “Your mother has only known me for a week.” An expression of intense surprise appeared on the lieutenant’s face. “That I came to the Hotel de Chalusse a year ago, and that the count treated me like a daughter--that is all! Who I am, where I was reared, and how, and what my past life has been, these are matters that M.

de Fondege knows nothing whatever about.” “My parents told me that you were the daughter of the Count de Chalusse, mademoiselle.” “What proof have they of it? They ought to have told you that I was an unfortunate foundling, with no other name than that of Marguerite.” “Oh!” “They ought to have told you that I am poor, very poor, and that I should probably have been reduced to the necessity of toiling for my daily bread, if it had not been for them.” An incredulous smile curved the lieutenant’s lips. He fancied that Mademoiselle Marguerite only wished to prove his disinterestedness, and this thought restored his assurance. “I am not exaggerating--I possess but ten thousand francs in the world--I swear it by all that I hold sacred.” “That would not even be the dowry required of an officer’s wife by law,” muttered the lieutenant.

“You suppose that I am rich, monsieur,” she resumed at last. “I understand that only too well. de Chalusse’s death, two million francs that had been placed in his escritoire for safe keeping, could not be found. Your father must have told you of this, as well as of the cloud of suspicion that is still hanging over me.” She paused, for the lieutenant had become whiter than his shirt. I entreat you to say that you forgive me.” “I forgive you, monsieur.” But still he lingered. I have committed many acts of folly; but there is nothing in my past life for which I have cause to blush.” He looked fixedly at Mademoiselle Marguerite, as if he were striving to read her inmost soul; and in a solemn tone, that contrasted strangely with his usual levity of manner, he added: “If the name I bear should ever be compromised, my prospects would be blighted forever!

it was a terrible sacrifice that he demanded of her. “I will remain neutral,” she replied, “that is all I can promise. Providence shall decide.” “Thank you,” he said, sadly, suspecting that perhaps it was already too late--“thank you.” Then he turned to go, and, in fact, he had already opened the door, when a forlorn hope brought him back to Mademoiselle Marguerite, whose hand he took, timidly faltering, “We are friends, are we not?” She did not withdraw her icy hand, and in a scarcely audible voice, she repeated: “We are friends?” Convinced that he could obtain nothing more from her than her promised neutrality, the lieutenant thereupon hastily left the room, and she sank back in her chair more dead than alive. In point of fact, she almost immediately afterward heard the lieutenant inquire in a stern, imperious voice: “Where is my father?” “The General has just gone to his club.” “And my mother?” “A friend of hers called a few moments ago to take her to the opera.” “What madness!” That was all. In her anxiety, she forgot Madame Leon, but the latter had not forgotten her; she was even now listening at the drawing-room door, inconsolable to think that she had not succeeded in hearing at least part of the conversation between the lieutenant and her dear young lady. A secret presentiment warned her that the punishment which would overtake the General and his wife would be none the less terrible, despite her own forbearance, and that they would find their son more inexorable than the severest judge. The essential thing was to warn the old magistrate; and so in a couple of pages she summarized the scene of the evening, feeling sure that she would find an opportunity to post her letter on the following day. “They have not seen their son,” said Mademoiselle Marguerite to herself, and this anxiety, combined with many others, tortured her so cruelly, that she did not fall asleep until near daybreak. Madame de Fondege was not in a mood to consider an objection that morning. It might have been fancied that she wished to buy all Paris.

madame, you forget that it is not a fortnight since the count’s death!” Madame de Fondege was about to make an impatient reply, but she mastered the impulse, and in a tone of hypocritical compassion, exclaimed: “Poor child! that’s true. “That would be a most delightful----” The remainder of the sentence died unuttered upon his lips. He had just perceived Mademoiselle Marguerite, and his consternation was so apparent that Madame de Fondege could not fail to remark it; however, she attributed it to the girl’s remarkable beauty. It seemed to him that Providence itself offered him the means of putting an end to an intolerable situation. She even gloried in her knowledge that she could make this man--who loved her in spite of everything--at one moment furious with rage or wild with grief, and then an instant afterward plunge him into the rapture of a senseless ecstasy by a word, a smile, or a caress. Even after the frightful scene that Pascal had witnessed, she had made another appeal to the baron, and he had been weak enough to give her the thirty thousand francs which M. Her usual shrewdness had not deserted her, and she perfectly understood all that Marguerite’s presence in that house portended. She was not ignorant of the fact that her husband had disposed of his immense fortune in a way that would enable him to say and prove that he was insolvent whenever occasion required; and if he found courage to apply for a legal separation, what could she hope to obtain from the courts?

She would be compelled to spend her last years in the same poverty that had made her youth so wretched. The resemblance--which had astonished Pascal could not fail to strike them, for it was still more noticeable now that they stood face to face. “That I hate her? I could have forgiven anything but that.

The laws of our country do not forbid illigitimate children to search for their parents, and more than once I have said to myself that I would discover my mother, and have my revenge.” “But you have no means of discovering her?” “In this you are greatly mistaken, madame. wretched woman that I am, he kept them.

I am lost, for of course, they have been read?” “The ribbon securing them together has never been untied.” “Is that true? They will see----” The thought of what they would see endowed her with the energy of despair, and clutching hold of Marguerite’s wrists: “Listen!” said she, approaching so near that her hot breath scorched the girl’s cheeks, “no one must be allowed to see those letters!--it must not be! I hated my husband; I loved the Count de Chalusse madly, and he had sworn that he would marry me if ever I became a widow. “I swear to you, madame, that everything any human being can do to save your letters shall be done by me,” she exclaimed.

Did they not tell you, before bringing you here, that I was the hated and unnatural mother who abandoned you?” She advanced with tearful eyes and outstretched arms, but Marguerite sternly waved her back. His own agitation was so great that he scarcely knew, and it mattered but little after all, for the good lady did not even pretend to listen to his apologies. you gave me a terrible fright; see how I tremble.” But the worthy lady’s fright was as nothing in comparison with the curiosity that tortured her. It was so powerful, indeed, that she could not control it. I was very cold, and the heat of the room made me feel faint.” Although she could only speak with the greatest difficulty, the baron realized by her tone that she would never reveal what had taken place, and his attitude and relief knew no bounds. “The best thing you can do would be to take her home and put her to bed.” “I agree with you; but unfortunately, I have sent away my brougham with orders not to return for me until one o’clock.” “Is that the only difficulty? Remember that my servants are at your disposal, and don’t hesitate to call them.

You are at home, recollect.” It was not without considerable difficulty--not without being compelled to stop and rest several times on her way up stairs--that Mademoiselle Marguerite succeeded in reaching the apartments of the Fondege family. Gustave has been here three times already; he was very angry when he found that there was no one at home--he went on terribly. How could she free herself from the thought that haunted her? To think that such a woman was her mother! For this cry was the signal that had been agreed upon between herself and the young man who had so abruptly offered to help her on the occasion of her visit to M. The young fellow was our friend Victor Chupin, now somewhat the worse for his encounter with Vantrasson that same morning. Happy, and yet anxious; for, as he preceded Mademoiselle Marguerite, he said to himself: “How shall I tell her that I have succeeded? Don’t you see how anxious I am?” He did see it only too well; and his embarrassment increased to such a pitch that he began to scratch his head furiously. Yes, like that. “So possible that I have a letter for you from M.

They are henceforth powerless to injure you.” “PASCAL” “I will go!” replied Marguerite at once, careless of the obstacles that might impede the fulfilment of her promise. For it was quite possible that serious difficulties might arise. Pascal had spoken, that sufficed, and she was determined to obey him implicitly, cost what it might. Having told Chupin that she might be relied upon for the evening, she was retracing her way home, when suddenly the thought occurred to her that she ought not to neglect this opportunity to place a decisive weapon in Pascal’s hands. The workmen had gone off and the laughter and chatter of the servants in the kitchen were the only sounds that broke the stillness. Glancing behind her to assure herself that she had not been followed, Marguerite eagerly approached the vehicle, whereupon a kindly voice exclaimed: “Jump in quickly, mademoiselle.” Marguerite obeyed, and the door was scarcely closed behind her before the driver had urged his horse into a gallop. They had never met before, and their anxiety to become acquainted was intense, for they each felt that the other would exert a decisive influence upon her life. Having considered the subject, she had decided that it was not proper for her son’s betrothed to run about the streets alone in the evening.

Thus the puritanical old lady had come to fetch Marguerite, so that whenever occasion required she might be able to say: “I was there!” As for Marguerite, after the trials of the day, she yielded without reserve to the feeling of rest and happiness that now filled her heart. For that reason alone, if for no other, she was prepared to worship her.

“How can I tell you all that I have suffered!” said Pascal, whose voice was hoarse with feeling. it is nothing in comparison with the intense, unendurable anguish I experienced in thinking that you believed the infamous calumny which disgraced me.” Marguerite rose to her feet. “You thought that!” she exclaimed. “You believed that I doubted you? I never received it.” “I know that now; but then I was deceived. And, fool that I was, I did not see that the note was a forgery!” Mademoiselle Marguerite was amazed.

Alarmed at having received no news from you, I hastened to the Rue d’Ulm, where I learned that you had sold your furniture and started for America. I felt sure that you had not fled in ignominious fashion. I was convinced that you had only concealed yourself for a time in order to strike your enemies more surely.” “Do not shame me, Marguerite. It is true that of us two I showed myself the weaker.” Lost in the rapture of the present moment, they had forgotten the past and the future, the agony they had endured, the dangers that still threatened them, and even the existence of their enemies. Each moment that is wasted endangers our success. “You forget, Pascal.” she insisted, “that Mademoiselle Marguerite must be at home again by ten o’clock, if she consents to the ordeal you feel obliged to impose upon her.” This was the voice of duty recalling Pascal to the stern realities of life. de Fondege.” “I know that, Pascal--I’m sure of it; but the proof, the proof!” “The proof exists, and, like the will, it is in the hands of the Marquis de Valorsay.” “Is it possible! He had sworn thousands of times that neither husband nor wife should ever have a penny of the large fortune which really belonged to them. Believing that a lawsuit was now inevitable, and wishing to conceal his wealth, he was greatly embarrassed by the large amount of money he had on hand. So, when he left home, on the afternoon of his illness, he took the package of bank-notes and bonds, which you had noticed in the escritoire that morning, away with him.

But what I do know, and what I shall be able to prove, is that M. de Fondege accepted the trust, and that he gave an acknowledgment of it in the form of a letter, which read as follows: “‘MY DEAR COUNT DE CHALUSSE--I hereby acknowledge the receipt, on Thursday, October 15, 186-, of the sum of two millions, two hundred and fifty thousand francs, which I shall deposit, in my name, at the Bank of France, subject to the orders of Mademoiselle Marguerite, your daughter, on the day she presents this letter. de Chalusse proposed to post it himself, so that the official stamp might authenticate its date. He felt that this tiny, perishable scrap of paper would be the only proof of the deposit which he had confided to M.

de Fondege alone can tell what has become of that. It is evident that he has somehow succeeded in obtaining possession of it. Would he have dared to squander money as he has done if he had not been convinced that there was no proof of his guilt in existence? If they wish you to marry their son, it is probably because it seems too hard that you should be left in abject poverty while they are enjoying the fortune they have stolen from you. It is only by proving the guilt of the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth that I can establish my innocence, and so far I am powerless to do so.” Mademoiselle Marguerite’s face brightened with supreme joy. de Fondege, he believes that the letter which proves his guilt is annihilated. And approaching Madame Ferailleur, who still stood leaning against the door, silent and motionless: “Look, mother,” he repeated, “look!” And he pointed to this paragraph which was so convincing and so explicit, that the most exacting jury would have asked for no further evidence. “I have formed a plan which will completely efface all remembrance of that cursed P. “There are other letters which will prove that this plot was the marquis’s work and which give the name of his accomplice, Coralth.

He is known as Isidore Fortunat, and lives in the Place de la Bourse.” Marguerite felt that Madame Ferailleur’s keen glance was riveted upon her. She intuitively divined what was passing in the mind of the puritanical old lady, and realized that her whole future, and the happiness of her entire wedded life, depended upon her conduct at that moment. “You are worthy of my son, and you will proudly guard our honest name!” For some little time already the obstinate old lady had been struggling against the sympathetic emotion that filled her heart, and big tears were coursing down her wrinkled cheeks.

how unjust my prejudices were!” It might be thought that Pascal was transported with joy on hearing this, but no: the lines of care on his forehead deepened, as he said: “Happiness is so near! “Speak, Pascal!” said she, “don’t you see that it is almost ten o’clock?” He hesitated; there was grief in his eyes and his breath came quick and hard, as he resumed: “For your sake and mine, we must conquer, at any price. This is the only reason that can justify the horrible expedient I have to suggest. de Valorsay, as you know, has boasted of his power to overcome your resistance, and he really believes that he possesses this power. The only thing that gave me power to restrain myself was my desire for as sure, as terrible, and as public a revenge as the humiliation he inflicted on me. The marquis has acquired great influence over him, and has persuaded him that it is his duty to denounce you to the authorities. “As for the robbery, we have an answer to that,” she answered, “and as regards the poisoning--really the accusation is too absurd!” But Pascal still looked gloomy. de Valorsay wishes you to consider yourself as irretrievably lost, and then he intends to offer to save you on condition that you consent to marry him.

I should say, however, that M. It was to me that the marquis sent M. Madame d’Argeles’s renunciation had been so correctly drawn up, that as soon as he presented his claims and displayed his credentials he was placed in possession of the Chalusse estate. It is true that a few trifling difficulties presented themselves.

But what did that matter to M. Still, he gave them to understand that this was only a temporary arrangement. However, he purchased their share of Pompier de Nanterre, feeling convinced that this remarkable steeplechaser had a brilliant future before him. Like every one else, he knew that she had disappeared, but nothing further. On the other hand, the thought of his father, the terrible chevalier d’industrie, hung over his joy like a pall; and each time the great entrance bell announced a visitor, he trembled, turned pale, and muttered: “Perhaps it’s he!” Tortured by this fear, he clung closely to the Marquis de Valorsay as if he felt that this distinguished friend was a powerful support. At times, some of his friends inquired: “Who is that queer little fellow?” with a touch of irony in their tone, but when the marquis carelessly answered: “A poor devil who has just come into possession of a property worth twenty millions!” they became serious, and requested the pleasure and honor of an introduction to this fortunate young man. It was to be an entertainment for gentlemen only, a monster card-party; but every one knew the wealthy baron, and no doubt with a view of stimulating curiosity he had declared, and the Figaro had repeated, that he had a great surprise in store for his guests. “They look like lawyers or magistrates.” But although he said this he did not really believe it, and it was without the slightest feeling of anxiety that he strolled from group to group, shaking hands with his friends and introducing M. Many of them declared--where could they have heard such a thing?--that in consequence of a quarrel with her husband, Madame Trigault had left Paris the evening before.

Farewell!” However, the best informed among the guests, the folks who were thoroughly acquainted with all the scandals of the day, declared the story false, and said that if the baroness had really fled, handsome Viscount de Coralth would not appear so calm and smiling. de Valorsay that Maumejan, as one of the baron’s business agents, should be received at his house, that he was not in the least disturbed. He became livid, his eyes seemed to start from their sockets, and it was with difficulty that he ejaculated: “He!” “Who?” inquired the astonished marquis. He was so frightfully agitated that five or six persons sprang forward exclaiming: “What is the matter, marquis? He felt that he was caught in a trap, and he glanced wildly around him seeking for some loophole of escape. The strangeness of the situation, the certainty of speedy and startling rehabilitation, perhaps the joy of vengeance, the silence, which was so profound that he could hear his own panting breath, and the many eyes riveted upon him, all combined to unnerve him.

The man’s an impostor!--he lies!--all that he says is false!” “Yes, it is false!” echoed M. “Don’t try that dodge on us!” shouted Chupin. “Vantrasson and mother Leon have confessed everything.” “Who defrauded us all with Domingo?” cried several people; and, loud above all the others, Kami-Bey bawled out: “To say nothing of the fact that the sale of your racing stud was a complete swindle!” Meanwhile, Pascal’s former friends and associates, his brother advocates and the magistrates who had listened to his first efforts at the bar, crowded round him, pressing his hands, embracing him almost to suffocation, censuring themselves for having suspected him, the very soul of honor, and pleading in self-justification the degenerate age in which we live--an age in which we daily see those whom we had considered immaculate suddenly yield to temptation. The wretched Valorsay felt that all was over--that he was irretrievably lost. Seized by a blind fury like that which impels a hunted animal to turn and face the hounds that pursue him, and bid them defiance, he confronted the throng with his face distorted with passion, his eyes bloodshot, and foam upon his lips; he was absolutely frightful in his cynicism, hatred, and scorn. well, yes!” he exclaimed--“yes, all that you have just heard is true. that you are, insult me if you like, but tell me how many among you all are sufficiently pure and upright to have a right to despise me! I was ruined--that is the long and short of it. You, too, have a passion for pleasure and gambling, race-horses, and notorious women, a table always bountifully spread, glasses ever overflowing with wine, all the delights of luxury, and everything that gratifies your vanity! if you please.” He advanced with his head haughtily erect, and would actually have made his escape if a frightened servant had not at that moment appeared crying: “Monsieur--Monsieur le Baron!

He turned even paler than he already was if that were possible, and reeled like an ox but partially stunned by the butcher’s hammer. Suddenly a desperate resolution could be read in his eyes, the resolution of the condemned criminal, who, knowing that he cannot escape the scaffold, ascends it with a firm step. me--a Valorsay!” It might have been supposed that the baron had expected this reproach, for without a word he led the marquis and M. It was not till later that people learned what precautions the baron had taken. On the table in that room he had laid two revolvers, and two packages containing ten thousand francs each.

It is to Madame Gordon that the Fondeges are often indebted for bread.

He speaks in the highest terms of Chupin also; but in this, he is scarcely sincere, for Victor, who has been set up in business by Pascal, told him very plainly that he was determined not to put his hand to any more dirty work, and that expression, “dirty work,” rankles in M. /

Existence has an enormous attraction for me, because I have still a passion which overrides all others--curiosity." The detective smiled, and continued: "There are people who have a mania for the theatre.Existence has an enormous attraction for me, because I have still a passion which overrides all others--curiosity." The detective smiled, and continued: "There are people who have a mania for the theatre. /

I therefore concocted a cunning plan with l'Echelle for leading them astray.I want and will have an explanation. I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs. 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. Explain." "I owe you no explanations," I replied stiffly, "my duty is to my employers. Those laugh longest who laugh last." By this time our talk was done, for we were approaching Lucerne, and I began to think over my next plans. 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. I had booked at Amiens as far as Lucerne only, leaving further plans as events might fall out.

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. This was obviously my best and safest plan, as I should then be ready for anything that happened. It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. I had not the smallest doubt that this was her plan also. 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. It was a clever plant. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. We can surely devise some fresh plan. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. "Stay, monsieur, it is not from you that I seek explanation. It was essential to confer and decide upon some plan of action; but when I asked him what he proposed to do next, he received my harmless request with a storm of invective and reproach. "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. 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. I therefore concocted a cunning plan with l'Echelle for leading them astray. Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. 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. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action.

Undoubtedly I must adhere to my first plan. So soon as Lady Blackadder recovered from her agitation, I essayed to win her approval of my plans. Falfani himself told me of the change in their plans. I, too, have changed my plans.

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. 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 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. This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices. 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. 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.

It was better, he thought, to appear frank, and, by instilling confidence, learn all there was to know of their plans and movements. But one o'clock came, and two, and two-thirty, but not a sign of Henriette, nor a word in explanation of her absence. /

That evening, with a duplicity of which she would have been incapable a few weeks before, she began to question Madeleine about her sentiments toward Prosper: 'Ah, ha, mademoiselle,' she said, gayly, 'I have discovered your secret.That is the secret.' This theory of disguise explained why the lynx-eyed Lecoq never appeared at the police-office without his gold spectacles. Moreover, Valentine and Gaston believed everyone ignorant of their secret. This 'everything' could not be of any importance, for Gaston had gone abroad in total ignorance of her secret. That evening, with a duplicity of which she would have been incapable a few weeks before, she began to question Madeleine about her sentiments toward Prosper: 'Ah, ha, mademoiselle,' she said, gayly, 'I have discovered your secret. With a shrug, which meant, 'Just as you please,' he said: 'I think you have sense enough to keep your secret.' He bowed ceremoniously, and left the room, but slammed the front door after him so violently as to prove that his restrained anger burst forth before leaving the house. /

I’ve forgotten it.” But M.I fancied that any annoyance the letter had caused him was forgotten; but I was wrong, for in the afternoon he sent a message, through Madame Leon, requesting me to join him in the garden. She silenced her indiscreet questioner with a haughty glance, and in the driest possible tone, replied: “I have forgotten the name.” Cut to the quick, the doctor suddenly resumed his master’s pose; but all the same his imperturbable sang-froid was sensibly impaired. Fortunat seemed to have forgotten his presence. But perhaps he had forgotten this circumstance.

Without seeming to attach the slightest importance to Madame Vantrasson’s narrative, he rose with a startled air, like a man who suddenly realizes that he has forgotten himself. I’ve forgotten her name.

You have probably forgotten that Garcia affair, and that rumpus at Jenny Fancy’s house. You must have forgotten that I know you, that your past life is no secret to me, that I know who you are, and what dishonored name you hide beneath your borrowed title!

You must have forgotten that Rose told me everything, Monsieur--Paul!” She had struck the right place this time, and with such precision that M. On perceiving that you had forgotten your letter, you turned pale and glanced at me. If Pascal belonged to our set, people might investigate the matter, perhaps; but to-morrow it will be forgotten.” “And will he have no suspicions?” “He will have no proofs to offer, in any case.” Madame d’Argeles seemed to resign herself to the inevitable. He had forgotten this one, or neglected it, not thinking that anybody would approach his office through his bedroom. It would cause you a great deal of trouble and annoyance, and I should none the less be obliged to relinquish the practice of my profession--besides, I am especially anxious to be forgotten for a time.” “So be it--I understand you; you hope to discover the traitor, and you do not wish to put him on his guard. I forbid it!’ He had become extremely pale, and he looked anxiously around him, as if he feared that some one had overheard me--as if he had forgotten that we were alone in a carriage which was dashing onward at full speed! de Chalusse had forgotten one circumstance, which made my two years’ sojourn at Sainte-Marthe a lingering and cruel agony. And yet, I freely forgive you.” Mademoiselle Marguerite reflected for a moment, questioning her memory to ascertain if she had told everything--if she had forgotten any particulars of importance. Forgotten themselves, the adventurers in their turn soon forget.

“Upon my word, I had forgotten--forgotten entirely, upon my word!” And the thought of his condition, and the responsibility he had accepted, coming upon him at the same time, he continued: “Good Heavens! I’ve forgotten it.” But M. “You’ve forgotten it--that’s not at all strange. And when they were convinced that they had forgotten nothing, Madame Ferailleur suggested that Pascal should start off. You forget that the cab is waiting at the door.” It was true; he had forgotten it. Have you forgotten what it led to?

I thought she had been forgotten in all the confusion, and that the poor creature had been shut out, so I summoned all my courage, and----” Mirza was an old spaniel that M.

/

"What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English.Strange to say, they were few enough, as I saw on landing. 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. "Can we have places for Lucerne?" It was asked in an eager, anxious, but very sweet voice, and in excellent French. "No, no, no," she answered with much asperity. "What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English. We can't turn back.

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. 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. 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. This beautiful woman, so richly endowed by nature, so outwardly worthy of admiration, a despicable degraded character within? 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.

"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. Am I right in supposing we are to be fellow travellers by the Engadine express?" I went on by way of saying something. "Probably." The answer was given with great hesitation. We two lone women and you, single-handed. Suppose the five attendants and the others were to combine against us? Your jewel-case may be exceptionally well lined." "Oh, but it is not; quite the contrary," she cried with almost hysterical alacrity.

And yet something dreadful might happen; I feel we are quite at their mercy." "I don't. You said you were going to Naples," she replied stiffly.

"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. 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. 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? 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. "Well, that settles it for the present, anyhow.

That ought to suit her just as well." But it would not; at least, she lost no time in expressing her disappointment at not being able to alight at Boulogne. 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. 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. 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.

I myself heard you tell my maid that you wished to have nothing to say to us, that we were not your sort. Well! 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Do you repent already?" She had been watching me closely for any sign of wavering, but I showed none, whatever I might feel in my inmost heart. 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. Who knows what might happen when our backs were turned? We might lose it--it might be abstracted. If only I might be allowed to--" know more, I would have said, but she chose to put other words into my mouth. 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. So be it; it is well to know how far I may go.

I had accorded her an active sympathy which in my more sober moments I felt she did not, could not, deserve; if I were not careful she would yet involve me in some inextricable mess. 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. How could I withhold my countenance if she were in real distress? She was a woman--a weak, helpless woman; I could not desert and abandon her. However reprehensible her conduct might have been, she had a claim to my protection from ill-usage, and I knew in my heart that she might count upon a good deal more.

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?

Blair, were soon to be put to the test.

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.

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. 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. 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 did not take to him at all, and plainly showed him that I had no desire for his talk or his company. It was not easy to shake him off, however. He would take no offence; I was cold to positive rudeness, I snubbed him unmercifully; I did not answer his remarks or his questions, which were incessant and shamelessly inquisitorial. You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there.

It can't be allowed.

No fighting and quarrelling are permitted." "Well, then, people must behave themselves," I retorted. "You shall answer for this. "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. In here?" and she followed the indication of my thumb as I jerked it back, and looked over my shoulder into the compartment. 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. 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. "What are we to do now?" asked Mrs. "I begin to think we shall fail, we cannot carry it through, we shall lose our treasure. "We must devise something, some way, of outwitting this Falfani. We did it before, we must do it again.

After all he has no power over us; we are in France and shall be in Switzerland by daylight." "We ought to go on, you think? 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 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. "We shall find a way.

"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. What though I were pawning my honour? The circumstances which led up to her disappearance and the partners of her flight are already well known to you. 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. 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. 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. 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.

Here they were in this car, and it would be all my own fault if they escaped me. 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. 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. Nothing reputable, I feel sure." "I'm not ashamed of it, and I have powerful friends behind me. 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. 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.

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. We can't have any scandal on board here." "Five hundred francs wouldn't tempt you to let me have a free hand for just half an hour? It's between him and me, and I think I'm a match for him." I spoke this confidently to my friend, who engaged for his part to do all in his power to assist, or at least to do nothing against me, and I was content to bide my time. 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. "You are coming to dinner, I think," he repeated in a sharp commanding way, as if he were talking to his soldiers.

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. Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle. 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. Great powers! 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. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was.

We're just going on." Now I saw my last chance of successfully performing my mission disappearing beyond recall. I renewed my shouts and protests, but was only laughed at for my pains. 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. She must not know we are acting in common, and I do hope she hasn't noticed. Say where I may answer and where I can join you." CHAPTER VIII. 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.

"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. We can stand the racket. Do you know who she is or was, anyway?" "Of course I do," he answered bold as brass. We understand our business better than that, we don't go into it single-handed. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone.

Explain." "I owe you no explanations," I replied stiffly, "my duty is to my employers. "Well, I suppose I cannot expect you to tell me things. He is a great personage, a rich and powerful nobleman. It's too absurd." "We shall see.

Those laugh longest who laugh last." By this time our talk was done, for we were approaching Lucerne, and I began to think over my next plans. Well, what's the next move?" "I decline to hold any conversation with you," I began severely. "We are not alone now in a railway carriage. "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 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. Well, try it. He would not let me out of his sight; wherever I went he was coming too.

He would be certain to be within earshot when I went up to the window. "It seems that we are still to be fellow travellers," he observed casually. 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. 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. 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 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.

Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer. Falfani, and a long drive," he went on, laughing boisterously.

So are we. Pity we did not join forces. We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St.

You sha'n't, not if I can prevent you by any means in my power; understand that, and look out for squalls if you try." I confess he cowed me; he was so strong, so masterful, and, as I began to fear, so unscrupulous, that I felt I could not make head against him. So I resigned myself to my fate, and suffered myself to be driven on with my pertinacious escort hanging on to me mile after mile of my wearing and interminable journey. 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. Only a brief telegram from him conveying unwelcome and astounding intelligence. It had been despatched from Vevey about 2 P.M., and it said: "Lost her somewhere between this and Lausanne.

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. 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. 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. My reward was a sweet smile, and I felt encouraged to hazard a few words in reply to her cordial thanks. "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.

Let me fetch my bag." I went off in perfect good faith, anxious to oblige so charming a lady. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity. She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. It is a slow train the next, and we are a special express. Lausanne at 12 noon, and we go on at half-past." "You, too, are going beyond Lausanne?" "Possibly, I am not quite sure.

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.

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. The answer I despatched at once to Goeschenen was worded as follows: "Declares she is going to Montreux only. May be necessary to join forces." We were in accord, Falfani and I, and in communication. 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.

At last we were nearing Lausanne, and I looked across to my lady to prepare her for getting out. 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'm afraid you will have to wait, Philpotts, we cannot leave that," she pointed to the child nestling sound asleep by her side. 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.

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. 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. 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. My first business was to inquire in and about the station for a person or persons answering to the parties I missed. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse? The answers I got were not encouraging.

Of course they were ladies, both of them. They were very distinguished people. "Were they carrying anything, either of them?" I inquired. 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. "What time was it?" I went on. "And the ladies went on board it, you say? "The 2.15?" The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face. 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. 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. 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. I acknowledged my error, and promised to do anything in my power to indemnify my victim. Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price? 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. 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 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. Several visitors came, claiming to see me, and were presently admitted in turn.

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. 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. 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. However, with Falloon I proceeded to Geneva without delay, and began a systematic search.

We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. 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. "But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake," she continued. 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. There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel. 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.

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. 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. 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. (How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. I promised it unconditionally, and although there were circumstances in her case to engender suspicion, I resolutely ignored them. 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. 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. Wait a little, we shall see.

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. "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. "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.

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. 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. You would be well advised in agreeing that our interview should be private." "I can't see it, and I must tell you plainly that I do not care one jot. 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. You have no right to be here at all." "Do you think that you own all Switzerland, my noble earl?" I answered over my shoulder as I walked on. 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 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. Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. It was so much put about, so constantly dinned into Lord Blackadder's ears, that he was goaded into a perfect fury, and was at length determined, by hook or by crook, to put away his wife, leaving it to certain astute and well-practised solicitors to manufacture a clear, solid case against 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 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.

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. 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. 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 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. before we reached Geneva. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed.

They entered, and went straight to the bureau, where the night clerk was at his desk. 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. 17." "At any rate, that's well, Falfani," said Lord Blackadder, with a sigh of satisfaction. 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! but have we? 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. "I had no idea you were within miles, and was repining bitterly that I had let you get so far out of the way.

Then with a conscious blush she went on. We had words, a quarrel, almost a fight." "Pfu! We can surely devise some fresh plan. "It is getting late, but you must hear all I have to tell before we can decide upon the next step. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. I had resolved he should not find us, but where else should we go? Lord Blackadder, we might be sure, would hunt high and low to recover his lost heir, sparing no expense, neglecting no means. "It was, however, essential to elude his agents, who were so near at hand and likely to press me close. 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. 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. "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.

Philpotts and Victorine, my sister's maid, were also made up on a similar pattern, and a second baby was built up as a dummy that would have deceived any one. 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. "I thought I had eluded him, and he certainly was nowhere near when I went into the hotel. But I suppose he followed me, he must have, and found out something, for I know now that he went to Amberieu after Henriette--" "You are perfectly sure?" "She has telegraphed to me from Amberieu; I got it not an hour ago. 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.

"Say, rather, what can we do, Lady Claire," I corrected her. 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 answered him sternly: "What was Falfani saying to you just now? 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.

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. We shall be on French soil directly, and I know something of French law. "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture!

en voiture!" and we were peremptorily hustled back to our seats. She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask. "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. We have managed capitally so far. 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. Say they catch sight of Henriette as soon as we do?" "I hope and trust they may. We shall both be moving about, and the best address I can give will be in London. But now, here we are, close to Culoz and already slowing down. They had all alighted and were coming up the platform in great haste to where she stood.

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. "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.

le brigadier," he went on, saluting him politely.

He knows it is not true; he is perfectly well aware who I am, Lord Blackadder; and that he has no sort of grievance against me nor any of my people. His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel.

Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord. "We'll refer it to any one you please. Fifteen miles from here." "Well, why not? I met his eye as soon as I could, and, in answer to my inquiring glance, he came over to me and whispered: "Don't you see? No longer here, anyway." The train by which we had come from Geneva was not now in the station.

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. Anyway, we've got to find her once more. It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side. 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. The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. We found my lord awaiting us. 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. I--demand justice of you--" "Pardon, monsieur, je vous prie. We must proceed in order, and first allow me to assure you that justice is always done in France. 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. "Allow me to ask--" he went on coldly. 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. "A simple brawl--a blow struck, possibly returned--a mere rixe." "Between gentlemen? 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. We had a difference of opinion, and I was compelled to administer chastisement." A lot of impudent chaff followed. Can we be of any use to you?" "You mustn't mind Basil Annesley; he's always full of his games." "Hope he didn't hurt you. We followed quickly, and were ushered at once into his private apartment. 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. "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. 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. Take immediate steps, if you please, to set a close watch on this pestilent villain Annesley; keep him continually under your eye." "We've got to find him first," objected Tiler gruffly and despondently.

"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.

Then we will confer again and arrange further.

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.

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. 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. 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? 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. "Well, how have you fared? 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.

But we'll agree what you'd do for us in return?" "Anything you chose to ask." "Would you come over to us, belong to us body and soul? She was aiming for Italy from the first; the other sister, the divorced lady, is there; we've always known that. You'll be well worth your money, I can see. We shall trust very greatly to you." "Your trust shall not be misplaced. 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. It was a little embarrassing; he had so evidently disclosed my business, in scornful terms no doubt, and held me up to ridicule, describing in his own way and much to my discredit all that had happened between us. "Where have we met?" he began, with a mocking laugh. Well, I hope. The warm baths are truly delightful and most efficacious in calming the temper and restoring the nerve-power. Better make friends." "We can do without you, thank you," I said stiffly.

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. But all I can tell you is we had a telegram from him an hour or two ago which doesn't look as if he was doing much good. It's lucky my lord has you at his elbow." We parted excellent friends. I hope I know my business well enough for that. 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'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. "It's come, that satanic telegram, and just what he wanted, I'm prepared to swear.

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. 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 was still without definite news of what had happened between the two sisters while I was covering their movements at Culoz. 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. "Now, l'Echelle," I went on, "after last night I think I may trust you to do what I want, and I promise you I won't forget it. 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. 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.

It was quite certain that I should not be allowed to go off alone. When at last I opened it my eye went first to the signature. For the present all my movements were in abeyance. 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. 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. 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. "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. "You must, you shall take it." "Upon my word, Colonel Annesley, you speak to me as if I were a private soldier. But I came into it to oblige your sister, and I owe it to her to do my best without reference to you.

Signals of distress were hung out in her quivering lip and the nervous twitching of her hands. What shall I do?" And she collapsed into a chair, weeping as if her heart would break. 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. Well, we shall not part; I propose to take you away with me. 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. I am not unwilling to accept responsibility, but only if I am allowed to act as I please." "Oh, how like a man!

You shall give me my answer when I return. What a contrast between the two women! 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. Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room. "We have nearly an hour's drive before us, and I am delighted to think that you are ready and willing to go with me." "I am ready, as you see, but not willing," she answered, bridling up with a scornful air. Where are we going? 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.

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 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. Of course you arranged that at Culoz?" "We arranged nothing. It was all so hurried, and we had much to talk about.

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. "We must be moving if we are to go at all." Her acquiescence, now tardily given, was surly and ungracious. She made no such sign to me, although I followed close behind. 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. They have gone half an hour ago, and not by the eastern but the western express." "You saw them?" "I spoke to them. 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. Blair," I was answered abruptly that she was gone. "Madame went very soon after monsieur," said the patronne, in high dudgeon. 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? 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.

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. 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. Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M. She was so helpless, so weak and vacillating that I had small hope of her getting through to Fuentellato by herself. 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. 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. 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.

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. Everywhere I was met with wearisome delays. 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. Although he owed me a grudge and would certainly be upon his guard, I thought myself strong enough to face and outwit him. 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. That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby? What could we have done with it? 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? 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. 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 meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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. It was a joyful meeting, but we lost little time over it. 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. We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. 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. I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us. You shall hear from Tripoli to the same hotel in Marseilles." "If we go on your letter will follow us. 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. 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. 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. As soon as Henriette was visible, I went up to her room to talk matters over. I have been scolded quite enough these last twenty-four hours. 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?

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. "If I am allowed to keep him, yes.

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. We were like pariahs ostracized from our fellows, wandering Jews condemned to roam on and on, forbidden to pause or find peace anywhere. It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on.

"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. "You see," he went on, quickly, dealing with the pressing matter in hand, "I know all about the place. I have soldiered at Gibraltar and often went over to Africa. 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.

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. 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. 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. She had arrived at Marseilles on her return voyage from Tripoli, and was anxious that I should know without delay that we had not shaken off Lord Blackadder. "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. We will place ourselves under the protection of the Moorish bashaw. We must take care of ourselves." "You believe that Lord Blackadder will find his way to Tangier?" "Most certainly. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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. L'Echelle was well received.

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. 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. One Moor, Achmet El Mansur, was with her, we were told, but we did not trust him entirely. Basil and I had ridden out quite early on a long expedition, from which we only returned when l'Echelle did. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour. It was impossible to disassociate Lord Blackadder from Lady Henriette's mysterious disappearance, and yet we could hardly believe that he could have so quickly accomplished his purpose. 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.

It is the most impudent pretence; you know perfectly well he is not here." "I will not bandy words with you. 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. Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. He urged them to tell all they knew; it should be made worth their while; they no longer owed allegiance to their late employer. 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.

What were we driving at? 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. 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. 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. 'We behaved most disgracefully, most wickedly, but indeed it was Domenico's doing. He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here.

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. 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 again we had recourse to it, however, when we started on our honeymoon, Basil and I. 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. /

Why had she leaned out?That she had leaned out, or partly passed out, of the window at some time or other, as the scrap of lace testified. Why had she leaned out? What have we here, aha?" Mère Tontaine held up next the broken bit of jet ornament for inspection, and as the Countess leaned forward to examine it more closely, gave it into her hand. Some one fetch a ladder." One of these curious French ladders, narrow at the top, splayed out at the base, was quickly leaned against the car, and the detective ran up, using his magnifier as he climbed. /

At school, he had three times as much money as his richest playfellow.At school, he had three times as much money as his richest playfellow. /

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.Not one of them would have been trusted with a dollar’s worth of goods in any of the neighboring shops. People said she would do anything for money, and had aided and encouraged many a poor girl in the house in her evil career. The two Chevassats shrugged their shoulders, and said it would be absurd if they should trouble themselves about public opinion, as long as their consciences were clear, and they owed nobody anything. “She went out just now, and told me she would not be back till nine o’clock. 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 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. They told stories of him that would have made Harpagon envious, and touched the heart of a constable. 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. 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. “I know it was wrong,” he continued; “but you would not have acted differently in my place, my dear sir, I am sure. 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. Maxime, if you were lending a hand in an elopement, I think you would be in a bad box. 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. An expert in the post-office would not suspect it. Her brow resting on her arm, which was almost concealed by masses of golden hair, immovable, and her eyes fixed steadily upon infinite space, as if trying to pierce the darkness of the future, she would have looked like a statue of sorrow rather than of resignation, but for the big tears which were slowly dropping down her cheeks.

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. I would have done the coarsest, hardest work cheerfully, joyously. He uttered an oath which would have startled even that estimable woman, and then said warmly,-- “I understand, Miss Henrietta, I understand. Who would not give up life itself when everybody abandons us? Do you think I would leave you, after having been just in time to save your life? That would be nice! Come, let us be frank; what has she told you?” He hoped she would say a word at least. 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.

Ah, if you would but trust me! Then he added in a savage voice,-- “I knew he would come, the scoundrel! 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. “Would it not be the height of imprudence to put myself in the power of this man?” thought the poor girl. 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. He would have been perfect, but for his passion for hunting. 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. They would have blamed her for the noblest of virtues; for all the blame was laid upon her. 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. It could not be expected that those keen, thrifty peasants, Champcey’s father and mother, would ever permit one of their sons--they had two--to commit the folly of making a love-match.

They told everybody who would listen, that, in return for the costly education they were giving them, they expected them to marry large fortunes. 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.

An ordinary woman would have shrunk from the difficult task which Pauline had assumed, and would have thought that nothing more could be expected of her than to keep sacred her marriage-vows. 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.

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. “She would not agree to it at all; but I am not a weather-cock. 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. He might have been told all, and he would have believed nothing. What would have become of her, if her child had not bound her to life! In fact, he hoped that Count Ville-Handry, of whose kindness and great influence he had heard much, would consent to indorse his claims. She felt as if she would not live long; and she trembled at the idea of leaving her child without any other protector but the count. “Who would have thought that he had loved her so deeply?” they asked one another. He laughed heartily, tapped her cheek playfully, and said,-- “Ah, you would like to rule your papa, would you?” Then he added more seriously,-- “Am I so old, my little lady, that I ought to go into retirement?

Besides, Daniel hoped that such grave matters of business would keep the count from playing the fashionable young man. 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. Then, again, these attacks of melancholy would be followed by sudden outbursts of joy.

He would rub his hands till they pained him; he would sing and almost dance with delight. 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. you would bring another wife to this house, which is still alive with the voice of her whom we have lost? You would make her sit down in the chair in which she used to sit, and let her rest her feet on the cushion which she embroidered? Perhaps you would even want me to call her mamma? And yet, if Henrietta had been less excited, she would have read in his eye that his mind was made up. “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.

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. But Henrietta belonged to a great house; she was the daughter of a man who had filled a high position; she was immensely rich; and, even if he had married her only with her own fortune, she would have brought him ten times as much as he had. 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? 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? His life and his happiness were at stake; and a single word would decide his fate in spite of all he could do. You are in love with Sarah!” Daniel would never have thought of such a subterfuge in order to avoid mentioning the name of Count Ville-Handry; but, seeing it thus offered to him, he determined to profit by the opportunity.

Don’t you know, that, as I lead a very quiet life, I know nothing?” Brevan, looking more serious than he had ever done, rose and replied, leaning against the mantlepiece,-- “What would you have me tell you? If you are, nothing that I could say would change your mind. Do you know what would happen? You would press my hand with effusion. You would overwhelm me with thanks, tears in your eye.

You would vow, in the candor of your heart, that you are forever cured, and, when you leave me”-- “Well?” “You would rush to your beloved, tell her all I said, and beseech her to clear herself of all these charges.” “I beg your pardon; I am not one of those men who”-- But Brevan was getting more and more excited.

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. “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. “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!

In order to prevent the scandal of such a marriage, my friend’s family would do every thing in the world. “You might offer her two hundred thousand, and she would laugh at you. Do you think she would be fool enough to content herself with a fraction of a fortune, if she can have the whole, with a great name and a high position into the bargain?” Daniel opened his lips to present another suggestion; but Maxime, laying aside his usual half-dreamy, mocking manner, said, as if roused by a matter of great personal interest,-- “You do not understand me, my dear friend. The air is filled with a perfume of hypocrisy which would rejoice the stiffest of Quakers. ‘If she had been weak,’ they said, ‘Kergrist would not have hanged himself.

“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. She was quite sure that neither of them would accuse her, even at the moment of death. 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. If we could once know who she really is, all would be safe. 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.

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. 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. 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. In such a case he would have had some hope. 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? 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.

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! 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! It is true she was not exactly the companion a statesman of my rank would have chosen.

“She would have fallen down the steps, head foremost, if I had not caught her in my arms. 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. But you know I have some power over myself; and I had recovered my calmness, when Sir Thorn confessed to me that he would have invited me long since, but for the fear of offending his young relative, who had declared she would never meet me again.

I 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. It would have been infamous in me to repay the hospitality of excellent Mrs. 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. As if I would have come to him, if, by some impossible accident, I should have been unhappy in my choice! 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. 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. 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.

What do you think Miss Brandon would gain by marrying me? If they were well managed, they would produce, three, four, or five times as much, or even more. If petroleum was not fabulously profitable, how would you account for the oil-fever with which these cool, calculating Americans have suddenly been seized, and which has made more millionaires than the gold-fever in California and the Territories? Do you think I would buy a cat in a bag? “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.

An advertisement inserted in all the leading newspapers of Europe would, no doubt, reach him; and the hope of seeing himself avenged”-- M. 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. 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. 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! You restore me to hope.” Still, before abandoning the effort, he thought he would try one more measure; and for that purpose it was necessary that Henrietta should be induced to conceal her intentions as long as possible.

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. 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. What their game really was, and how Count Ville-Handry had been caught in the trap, he now understood well enough; he would have been caught in it himself. 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.

“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. 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. 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. She sat down on a small sofa and began, after a short pause,-- “My aunt was right; it would have been more proper for me to convey to you through M.

A mean man would not have hesitated at an oath, however determined he might have been not to keep it. 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. Brandon, and they would have told me what sort of a man their chief had been. I should have examined the oil-regions of Pennsylvania; and I would have learned there that the petroleum-wells belonging to M. Thorn has told me so often enough, and I would not believe him. 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. 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.

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. 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. Even if he should dare to accuse us of some great crime, we thought no one would listen to him, and we should never hear of it. How could we imagine that the world would set to work doubting our honor upon the mere word of a wretch like him? 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. 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! 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. “During the last two years,” she said, “I have had twenty offers; and among them three or four that would have been acceptable to a duchess.

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. if I were the woman you think I am, what would I care for Miss Henrietta and her enmity? What would they say and think? 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. 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. 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. To attempt overtaking it now would have been folly indeed; and Daniel remained there, overwhelmed and defeated. The consequences would be fatal, he had no doubt.

He went down, therefore; and, while his carriage drove to his friend’s house, he thought of the surprise he would cause Maxime. 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. What would you say?” “I would say that I execrate her!” “Oh! They would, of course, never have allowed me to enter her own room; but from the reception-room I could at times hear her painful cries and sobs. But what would have been the good of it? Would the count believe him?

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. 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. look at yourself!” If Count Ville-Handry had trusted nature, he would have looked like a man of barely sixty, still quite robust and active. A few hours more, and the mischief would be done. What will you do?” “What I said I would do, whatever it may cost me.” “But could you yield?” “Yield?” exclaimed the young girl. And, looking at Daniel with grieved surprise, she added,-- “Would you really dare give me that advice,--you who had only to look at Miss Brandon to lose your self-control so far as to overwhelm her with insults?” “Henrietta, I swear”-- “And this to such an extent, that father accused you of having done so at my bidding. He said,-- “We knew that they would try to obtain possession of your father’s fortune, and now we have the proof of it.

They knew they would have to part. 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.

Thus it was she who anticipated him, and who, sure that he would be desperate, had the feminine delicacy to write to him almost cheerfully. 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. If he had struck the flagstones of the sidewalk with the heel of his boots, she would have heard the sound.

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. 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? “You would prefer not going on board ship,” he exclaimed, “the very day after your promotion? 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. 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.

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. Would that prove that he had not shrunk from the unknown perils of a new country, from the dangers of an armed invasion, and a fatal climate? 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? 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. 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. What would have been the use? Would they believe him, if he accused her of forgery, of a trick unsurpassed in boldness and wickedness? Would they even consent to an investigation; and, if they instituted one, what would be the result? 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 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. Miss Brandon must be meditating some terrible blow, or she would not have been so anxious to keep me at a distance.” He sobbed almost, so great was his excitement; but he instantly became master again of his emotion, and continued,-- “Well, Maxime, I shall ask you to watch over Henrietta. I intrust her to you as I would intrust her to my brother, if I had one.” M. you expect too much of me; but I have friends.” “And you would ask them! you would expose yourself to the humiliation of hearing those set excuses which serve to conceal refusals! “Excuse me,” he said, “excuse me.” “What?” “Well, it seems to me it would be more suitable to leave some one else in charge of that.” “Whom?” “Oh! de Brevan a power-of-attorney in proper form.” “Would it be possible,” asked Daniel, “to have it drawn up at once?” “Why not?

“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. 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. 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. But he trembled so violently, that for a moment he thought he would never be able to turn the key in the rusty lock.

“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.

“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! 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.

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. He would have to sail without seeing Henrietta again, without enjoying that bitter happiness of holding her once more in his arms. 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.

Upon my word of honor, I thought they would applaud.” This was too much enthusiasm. 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. 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.

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. It would have been surprising if it should have been otherwise. 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. For Count Ville-Handry, acting under a kind of overexcitement, had that day lost all self-control, and forgot himself so far as to treat his daughter as no gentleman would have treated his child while in his senses, and that in the presence of his servants! She had declared that she would not be present at the reading of the marriage-contract, nor at the ceremonies of the civil marriage, nor at church; and her father had tried to make her change her intentions. 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. Putting on a very showy costume, so as to attract as much attention as possible, she had spent the day in driving about to all the places where she thought she would meet most of her acquaintances. However unwell the countess might be to-night,--and perhaps she was not really unwell,--she would certainly be well again in the morning; and then what would be the advantage of the scandal she had attempted in order to ruin her? And my dear Daniel, if he were here, would approve and admire your courage, as I do myself.” She drew a full breath, as if her heart had been relieved of a heavy burden. I have in vain appealed to your heart; you see I am forced to appeal to your stomach.” Whatever efforts Henrietta might make to remain impassive, the tears would come into her eyes,--tears of shame and humiliation.

No, he would never have thought of it! Still the poor girl felt that she was caught; and her heart revolted at the ignominy of the means, and the certainty that she would be forced to yield. Her cruel imagination painted to her at once the exultation of the new countess, when she, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry, would appear in the dining-room, brought there by want, by hunger. And from your convent you would at once write to everybody and everywhere, that my wife had turned you out of the house; that you had been obliged to escape from threats and bad treatment; you would repeat all the well-known elegies of the innocent young girl who is persecuted by a wicked stepmother. People who would not shrink from such extreme measures in order to overcome her might resort to the last extremities. Whatever she could do, sooner or later she would have to succumb. She saw clearly, that, the longer she postponed it, the sweeter would be the victory to the countess, and the more painful would be the sacrifice to herself. She had imagined that her appearance would be greeted by some insulting remark. “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. 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. They would not even leave her at liberty to weep. Her intolerable sufferings would not extort a sigh from her that the countess did not hear on the other side of the partition, and delight in. Already it was too late for the mail; and she would have to send it by a commissionaire. Then he continued harshly, pointing at the concierge,-- “This man would be instantly dismissed if he allowed you to leave the house alone. 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. Hour by hour she had seen how, by an incomprehensible combination of fatal circumstances, the infernal circle narrowed down, within which she was wretchedly struggling, and which soon would crush her effectually.

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! 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.

“I would not bring her here for the world. 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.

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. de Brevan, who was to bring it to her; and for nothing in the world would she have been absent when he came at last. 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. who else would do it? 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.

What would she not have given for the right to run away and read it at once? But adversity was teaching her gradually circumspection; and she felt it would be unwise to leave the room before the last guests had departed. 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. 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. She would sooner have allowed herself to be cut to pieces than to appear in public seated by the side of the young countess and in the same carriage with her. Her unalterable patience would have touched ordinary executioners. Never would Count Ville-Handry’s first wife have been able to recognize her reception-rooms. Henrietta was seriously alarmed, and knowing beforehand that no one in the house would answer her questions, she turned to M. 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.

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. Would he be any happier if he had twice or thrice as many thousands a year? 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. Who would like to drive me from this house like an infamous person? “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.

For Henrietta, sure of the Duke of Champdoce, had not hesitated to open her heart to him, describing her situation as it really was; painting her step-mother as he had anticipated she would be; and at every turn certain phrases were repeated, which were so many blows with a dagger to the count. She would not stoop to do that. What would be the use? Did she not know beforehand that the count would not believe her? “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. 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?

I shall watch.” This sounded like a promise to afford her protection, which certainly would have been efficient if it had been sincere. A new Sir Thorn appeared, whom no one would have ever suspected under the cloak of icy reserve which the former had worn. de Brevan’s advice, “would be, perhaps, to provoke an explanation.” But he did not wait to be asked. At last, all of a sudden, and as if making a supreme effort, Sir Thorn began in a breathless voice to declare, that, according to Henrietta’s answer, he would be the happiest or the most unfortunate of mortals. Many in my place would have spoken to your father; but I thought that would hardly be fair in your exceptional position. Still I have reason to believe that Count Ville- Handry would look upon my proposals with favor. But then he would probably have attempted to do violence to your feelings.

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. 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. Once or twice he spoke of calling out this wretched fellow (so he called Sir Thorn); and, in order to quiet him, Henrietta had to repeat to him over and over again, that, after such an encounter, he would no longer be able to appear at the palace, and would thus deprive her of the only friend to whom she could look for assistance. Elgin, who is one of the most eminent financiers in all Europe, should think of a little insignificant person like you, he would look a long time elsewhere.” “Permit me, father”-- “Stop! If you should, however, not deceive yourself, it would be the greatest good luck for you, and an honor of which you ought to be very proud indeed. Do you think it would be easy to find a husband for you, after all the unpleasant talk to which you have given occasion?” “I do not wish to marry, father.” “Of course not. 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. But what she thought she would permit no one else to think. 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. 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.

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. If that had been all, her indifference would have given you back your place months ago. “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.

A drunken lackey pursuing a scullion would not have looked and acted more impudently. And he did venture upon something, that so far would have seemed impossible.

It would be folly to hope for safety there.” Pensively Henrietta hung her head. 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. 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.

Henrietta proposed that they should wait for a night when the count would take the countess to a ball. She foresaw clearly what the world would say the day after her flight.

She would be lost, and could hope for rehabilitation only when Daniel returned. de Brevan had already jumped into the carriage, which started at full gallop; and, while they were driving along, he explained to Henrietta how she would have to conduct herself in the house in which he had engaged a lodging for her. 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, “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. 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. 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? She hoped it was, after all, only for a short time, and consoled herself with the thought that a cell in a convent would have been worse still. “I would be obliged to you, madam,” she said, “if you would bring me up some breakfast.” “If I would! 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.

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. He also added that it would be imprudent in him to stay longer; and he left again, without having said a word to Henrietta, and without having apparently noticed her destitution. But who, in her place, would not have trusted? 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! In obtaining possession of her, he no doubt thought he would secure to himself a large portion of Count Ville-Handry’s immense fortune.

“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. de Brevan, would not have taken such pains to make her believe it. She thought, therefore, she was quite certain that he would return to her with his heart devoted to her as when he left her. He would know how to restore the count’s daughter to her proper position, and how to avenge her. Chevassat, one would have thought she was stunned. death itself would be more tolerable than such a humiliation. de Brevan, would she not fall into the hands of M. All this, she thought, must have cost, at least, eight or nine thousand francs; but for how much would it sell? For nothing in the world would she have confided in Mrs. Chevassat; for her instincts told her, that, if she once let that terrible woman see what were her necessities, she would be bound hand and foot to her.

The police would inquire; they would trace her out; and she would be carried back to her father’s house, and given up to Sir Thorn. my beautiful friend, you would have fared pretty badly, I dare say.” And then, changing her tone, she began scolding her beautiful young lady for having concealed her troubles from her. To be sure, there was that furniture dealer, who must be paid; but she would have been quite willing to make him wait; and why should he not? Chevassat, “if it were only to be agreeable to you, he would give one of his arms, this poor M. How many days, how many months, this sum would have secured to her, if the furniture-dealer had not been there with his bill!

She had vowed to herself, the unfortunate girl, that she would economize her little hoard like the blood in her veins. The sum was enormous at a time when she could already count the days to the hour when she would be without bread. Five francs were another enormous sum which troubled her grievously; for she would have been quite willing to live on bread and water.

“And more than that, poor little pussy,” she added, “you will see that one of these days he will summon courage enough to come and offer you an apology.” But Henrietta would not believe that. “I have come, madam,” he said, “to ask if you have reconsidered.” She made no reply, looking at him with an air of contempt which would have caused a man with some remnant of honor in his heart to flee from the spot instantly.

I came solely for the purpose of enlightening you in regard to your own position, which you do not seem to realize.” If she had followed her own impulses, Henrietta would have driven the wretch away. “What would you have?” he went on in a tone of sarcasm. 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. For did they not both covet with equal eagerness the fortune which she would inherit from her mother as soon as she came of age? de Brevan understood each other, and pursued a common purpose, never entered her mind; and, if it had suggested itself, she would have rejected it as absurd. what advantage would that be to him?

de Brevan would have a terrible account to give to that brave sailor who had trusted him with the care of his betrothed. Chevassat would have been the same as to send it to M. At all hours of the day, and on the most trivial pretexts, she would come up, sit down, and for entire hours entertain her with her intolerable speeches. Chevassat, which very likely would have inflamed the imagination of some poor but ambitious girl, caused nothing but disgust in Henrietta’s heart. 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. “But no,” said the poor young girl to herself, “that would be pusillanimous in the highest degree.” And that very evening she summoned all her courage, and told the formidable woman in a firm tone of voice, that henceforth she would only take one meal, dinner.

Her pride rose at the thought of this unceasing struggle; and she swore that she would be victorious.

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. 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. Nor would she have been able to make them last so long, even if she had not, ever since that evening at Mrs. And hence, overcoming all her reserve and her reluctance, she vowed she would try every thing in her power to obtain work. 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. After an eleventh appointment, he gave her the address of two houses, in one of which he assured her she would certainly be employed. It lacked still eighteen months before she would become of age.

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. 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.

She had told the Cerberus below that she would be out all the evening; and she had procured a considerable stock of charcoal.

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. No, for he would have been there; and she looked in vain for him among all these strange people. Now that they had brought her back to life, would they enable her to live? 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? Everybody will pity you, and think your lover a cold-blooded villain, who lets you die of starvation.” The poor young girl deprecated the charge with such a sweet, gentle expression of face, that a savage would have been touched; but Mrs. “You would take nothing,” she continued, “from M. After all, you would have it so.

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. Thus, when he left her, after half an hour’s diplomatic intercourse, he had obtained from the poor young girl the promise that she would not renew the attempt at her life, and that she would explain to him by what fatal combination of circumstances she had been reduced to such extreme suffering. “You would not hesitate,” he said, “if you knew how easy it often is, by a little experience, to arrange the most difficult matters.” Henrietta did not hesitate. Chevassat says, that bad woman would not have warned me against him. And just that she would have liked to keep him from knowing. She shook her head sadly, and replied, pointing to a chair,-- “I have made up my mind, sir; sit down, please, and listen to me.” The old dealer had been fully convinced that Henrietta would come to that; but he had not hoped for it so soon.

I put myself, to a certain extent, absolutely in your power, sir,--the power of an utter stranger, of whom I am told I have every thing to fear.” “O miss!” he declared, “believe me”-- But she interrupted him, saying with great solemnity,-- “I think, if you were to deceive me, you would be the meanest and least of men. It looked almost as if he had foreseen the terrible communication she was making, and was experiencing a bitter satisfaction at finding his presentiments confirmed,-- As Henrietta was proceeding, he would murmur now and then,-- “That is so! Brian.” Or,-- “Sir Thorn never does otherwise.” Or, again,-- “Yes, that is all over Maxime de Brevan.” And, according to the different phases of the account, he would laugh bitterly and almost convulsively, or he would break out in imprecations. de Brevan had every reason to think that this house would keep the secret of his crime as safe as the grave, and so brought you here.

And there your safety would lie, if you would follow my advice.” “I will, sir.” Papa Ravinet was evidently a little embarrassed. It would not be easy to lie so as to deceive Mrs. She would not have gone to bed so quietly, nor have fallen asleep so comfortably, if she had suspected the truth. Now, she was quite sure, that in such a state of destitution, and in this cold December night, the poor young girl would soon be weary wandering through the streets of Paris, and would be irresistibly drawn to the waters of the Seine. After the young lady’s desperate act, he would not fail to recognize the man who has saved her. “Would not a woollen dress have done quite as well? would she have imagined so sudden a downfall. Daniel Champcey, loved you; he would have protected you; therefore she got him out of the way. She placed by your side her wretched tool, her spy, a forger, a criminal whom she knew to be able of doing things from which even an accomplished galley-slave would have shrunk with disgust and horror: I mean Maxime de Brevan.” The very excess, of eruption had restored a part of her energy to Henrietta.

Your enemies knew your character too well to hope that you would ever break your word, and become faithless to M. that the secret of your sufferings would be well kept. “Finally you were driven to it; and your death would have realized their atrocious hopes, if Providence had not miraculously stepped in,--that Providence which always, sooner or later, takes its revenge, whatever the wicked may say to the contrary. Unless, indeed--But no, that would be almost too lucky for us! Notice, pray, that the articles which you read are dated on the very day on which you would probably have died.

I have no doubt the assassins told each other that Count Ville-Handry would never survive such a foul stain on his honor.

And they dared all, sure as they were that that honorable man would carry the secret of their wickedness and of their unheard-of robbery with him to the grave.” Papa Ravinet leisurely wiped the perspiration from his brow. Ah, that was cruel cautiousness!” And quick like lightning she dashed forward, and would have rushed out, if the old lady had not promptly stepped in front of the door, saying,-- “Henrietta, poor child! Would you like to give warning to our enemies, to put them on their guard, and to deprive us of all hopes of revenge?” Henrietta almost mechanically passed her hand to and fro across her brow, as if she hoped she could thus restore peace to her mind. “And mind,” continued the old man with a persuasive voice, “mind that such imprudence would save our enemies, but would not save your father. Do you really think that your arguments would be stronger than Sarah Brandon’s? And yet in the whole life of Sarah Brandon,--a life of theft and murder,--I have till this moment not found a single fact which would bring her within the reach of the law, so cunning is her wickedness.” His face brightened with an air of triumph; and his voice rose high as he added,-- “But now! As he gradually calmed down, and peace returned to his mind, a thousand doubts assailed him concerning Maxime de Brevan: would he not be exposed to terrible temptation when he found himself thrown daily into the company of a great heiress? Daniel believed too firmly in his betrothed to apprehend that she would even listen to Brevan. But he reasoned, very justly, that his darling would be in a desperate condition indeed, if M.

It would seem that the rope to which this enormous block was fastened had slipped out of the hands of one of the sailors who were engaged in the rigging, carrying out the manoeuvre superintended by Daniel. Could it be hoped that he would accuse himself? Besides, what would be the use of it? “Any other but myself,” she said, “would have been incensed at this atrocious insult, and would abuse her position to be avenged. He felt as if a powerful effort of his will would enable him to transport himself thither. then you must come with us.” “Do not force me; I would be a sorry companion.” Still they insisted, as friends will insist who will not understand that others may not be equally tempted by what charms them; but nothing could induce Daniel to change his mind.

When all the officers had gone on shore, they told the boatswain they would not come back very soon, and he might take his time to eat a mouthful, and to drink a glass, provided the men did not get drunk.” That was so; and Daniel had forgotten the fact. Daniel had been unable the night before to distinguish the form or the dress of the man whose services he had accepted; but he had heard his voice, and he recalled the peculiar intonation so perfectly, that he would have recognized it among thousands. Finally, it was very clear, that, if this man had committed the crime, he would have been careful not to claim his boat.

There is no man, however brave he may think himself, who would not tremble at the idea that he has, just by a miracle, escaped from the assassin’s hand. There is not one who would not feel his blood grow chill in his veins at the thought that those who have failed in their attempt once will no doubt renew their efforts, and that perhaps the miracle may not be repeated. These perpetual precautions, these ceaseless apprehensions, were extremely repugnant to his daring temper; but he felt, that, under such circumstances, careless would be no longer courage, but simple folly. He felt, moreover, that he was the only protector his beloved had now; and that, if he died, she would certainly be lost.

He even felt real and great relief at the thought that his would-be assassin was not to be looked for among these brave and frank sailors; none of them, at least, had been bribed with gold to commit a murder. At night, while his men were asleep, he kept awake, his heart torn with anguish, now crushed under the thought of his helplessness, and now asking himself if rage would not deprive him of his reason. “Well,” he would say to himself, “I can wait for the next.” And then he began counting the days. To be chained by honor to a place a thousand leagues from the woman he loved to distraction, to know nothing about her, her life, her actions and her thoughts, to be reduced to such extreme wretchedness, to doubt-- Daniel would have been much less unhappy if some one had suddenly come and told him, “Miss Ville-Handry is no more.” Yes, less unhappy; for true love in its savage selfishness suffers less from death than from treason.

If Henrietta had died, Daniel would have been crushed; and maybe despair would have driven him to extreme measures; but he would have been relieved of that horrible struggle within him, between his faith in the promises of his beloved and certain suspicions, which caused his hair to stand on end. She is evidently preparing for her defence, in case the rascal who attempted my life should be caught, and compromise her by his confessions.” Every letter; moreover, brought from the Countess Sarah some news about his betrothed, her “stepdaughter.” But she always spoke of her with extreme reserve and reticence, and in ambiguous terms, as if counting upon Daniel’s sagacity to guess what she could not or would not write. He finally added that he foresaw the moment when she would leave her father’s house in spite of all his advice to the contrary. “And not one line from her,” exclaimed Daniel,--“not one line!” And he wrote her letter after letter, beseeching her to answer him, whatever might be the matter, and to fear nothing, as the certainty even of a misfortune would be a blessing to him in comparison with this torturing uncertainty. Under other circumstances, this distinction, doubly valuable to so young a man, would have made him supremely happy; now it left him cold. He no longer struggled against despair, and came to believe that Henrietta had forgotten him, and would never be his wife. “You ought not to become a misanthrope, my dear Champcey,” they would say. The doctor rose slowly, and, while carefully dusting the knees of his trousers, he said,-- “All things considered, I would not bet that he may not escape.

“Yes, they lie, the cowards!” This insult would have procured him a sound drubbing, but for the old surgeon, who held the arm of the first sailor who made the attack.

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

if I were only a sailor, or even a marine, that would be another pair of sleeves; they would hear me! I would give my life to save his if I could. One of the gentlemen, he said, would write a few lines, which they must take with them. You might have put a full glass of water on the litter, and they would not have spilled a drop.” Yes, indeed! They had questioned him once or twice; but his answers had shown that he had no consciousness of the accident which had befallen him, nor of his present condition; so that the general opinion among the sailors who were waiting, and who all had more or less experience of shot-wounds, was, that fever would carry off their lieutenant before sunrise. The old surgeon had just appeared at the door of the sick-chamber; and, with a pleasant and hopeful smile on his lips, he said,-- “Our poor Champcey is doing as well as could be expected; and I would almost be sure of his recovery, if the great heat was not upon us.” And, silencing the murmur of satisfaction which arose among them at this good news, he went on to say,-- “Because, after all, serious as the wound is, it is nothing in comparison with what it might have been; and what is more, gentlemen, I have the corpus delicti.” He raised in the air, as he said this, a spherical ball, which he held between his thumb and forefinger. And, moreover, it will be very fortunate indeed if in a month he is sufficiently recovered to keep up a conversation.” He shook his head, and went on, after a moment’s silence,-- “Besides, it is a question whether Champcey would be disposed to say what he knows, or what he suspects.

The man, once engaged, might easily have been put on board ‘The Conquest;’ and he might have left France saying to himself that it would be odd indeed, if during a long voyage, or in a land like this, he did not find a chance to earn his money without running much risk.” The result of his meditations was, that the chief surgeon appeared, at nine o’clock, at the office of the state attorney. He would not eat.” “What did he say when he got here?” “Nothing. The truth always comes out in the end; and your position would be a very serious one if you tried to lie. Now, what would you say, if, upon search being made, the police should find a certain sum of money on your person or elsewhere?” “They won’t find any.” “So much the better for you; for, after what you said, it would be a terrible charge.” “Let them search.” “They are doing it now, and not only in your room, but also elsewhere.

you would like to ‘squeeze’ me, and make me cut my own throat. And then I thought, if I could bring back a large quantity of game, I would probably be able to sell it very well.” “And you would have added the profit to your other savings, wouldn’t you?” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, was stung by the point of this ironical question, as if he had received a sharp cut.

He only added, that he had concealed himself, because he had seen at once to what terrible charges he would be exposed by his awkwardness.

Would he have condescended even to look at me? Would I have dared to speak to him? The so-called friend, whose name he would not tell us, is no other person than the rascal whose tool he is. He would not have hesitated a moment between an admiral who was slightly unwell, and the youngest midshipman of the fleet who was dangerously wounded. The admiral might have waited a long time before he would have left the midshipman,--an originality far less frequent than we imagine. It would have been enough, therefore, for Daniel to be so dangerously wounded.

To try to question him would have been absurd; for he had so far continued delirious.

But he shook his head and answered,-- “I would not like the place, commandant. Now, you see, I want to do some little for him.” “You would be a great scamp if you did not.” The surgeon hardly left the wounded man himself. The doctor’s conjectures were thus confirmed: such cowardly forgers would not hesitate to hire an assassin. But the old surgeon said to himself, not without good reason,-- “Certainly it is almost a case of conscience to leave this unfortunate man in such uncertainty: but this uncertainty is free from danger, at least; while any excitement would kill him as surely and as promptly as I could blow out a candle.” A fortnight passed; and Daniel recovered some little strength; at last he entered upon a kind of convalescence--if a poor man who could not turn over in bed unaided can be called a convalescent. It would take another miracle to save him now; and you may rest assured it won’t be done. Ah, if he would but live!

Considering that this man had sailed on board ‘The Conquest’ for more than four months, in company with one hundred and fifty emigrants, I thought it would be unlikely that he should not have tried to break the monotony of such a voyage by long talks with friends. On three occasions, and in the presence of, at least, three witnesses each time, Crochard has used, in almost the same terms, these words,-- “‘No one would believe the strange acquaintances one makes in prisons. I was just considering whether I ought to report him, when he fell at my feet, and implored me to keep it secret; for he had been very unfortunate in life, and if I spoke he would be ruined. if the man had been left to his own counsels, he would have kept it all secret, so terribly is he afraid of this Crochard; but, fortunately, his wife had more courage.” “Decidedly,” growled the surgeon. Only about three months ago he made a bet with one of the waiters at the hotel where he is engaged, that he would swim across the Dong-Nai twice, at a place where the current is strongest; and he did it.” “But that is evidence; is it not?” “No; it is only a probability in favor of the prosecution.

He was afraid about his clothes; and he did not rest satisfied till I had told him I would keep watch over them. He would never have dared to abuse Miss Ville- Handry’s confidence in so infamous a manner, if he had not been persuaded, in fact been quite sure, that Lieut. Champcey would never return to France.” Then, after a few minutes’ reflection, he added,-- “And yet I feel that there is something underneath still, which we do not see. Champcey has received?” “No; but it is the only one he has opened.” “Would you object to handing me the others?” The excellent doctor hesitated. You would--But that would be too great an imprudence.” “No, doctor, don’t trouble yourself. de Brevan could not foresee that the assassin he had hired would be caught.” This was an unexpected revelation; and Daniel was all attention.

He said at once,-- “It is as Lefloch says, my dear lieutenant; and, if you have not been told anything about it, it was because the slightest excitement would become fatal. “Our lucky star has sent us a lawyer who is no trifler, and who, if I am not very much mistaken, would like very much to leave Saigon with a loud blast of trumpets.” He remained buried in thought for a while, watching his patient out of the corner of his eye, and then said suddenly,-- “Now I think of it, why could you not see the lawyer? You would suffer too much in finding her whom you have loved so dearly unworthy of an honest man, unworthy of you. Daniel very naturally, somewhat ashamed of his imprudence, tried to excuse himself; and, when he had concluded his explanations, the lawyer said,-- “Now, one more question: would you recognize the man who attempted to drown you in the Dong-Nai in a boat which he had offered to you, and which he upset evidently on purpose?” “No, sir.” “Ah! That man was Crochard, I am sure; but he will deny it; and the prosecution will have nothing but probabilities to oppose to his denial, unless I can find the place where he changed his clothes.” “Excuse me, there is a way to ascertain his identity.” “How?” “The voice of the wretch is so deeply engraven on my mind, that even at this moment, while I am speaking to you, I think I can hear it in my ear; and I would recognize it among a thousand.” The lawyer made no reply, weighing, no doubt, in his mind the chances of a confrontation. But for that reflection, he would have gone on thus,-- “That’s impossible; for the night was too dark to distinguish a man’s features.” And that would have been equivalent to a confession; and he would have had nothing to answer the magistrate, if the latter had asked at once,-- “How do you know that the darkness was so great on the banks of the Dong-Nai? He saw all of a sudden his past rising before him, which until now he had thought unknown or forgotten; and he knew full well the weight which antecedents like his would have in the scales of justice. how can you say such a thing?--I who would not harm a fly.

The emigrant who was near you, who saw you, and who promised he would not report you at that time, has spoken. He knew in advance that the first victory would be easily won, and that the real difficulty would be to induce the prisoner to confess the name of his principal. Besides, who would have gotten the big prize, if I had succeeded? 88.” It became evident now, that, so far from endeavoring to save his accomplices, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, would do all he could to aid justice in discovering them. by the merest chance, and a very bad chance for me; since, but for him, I would not be here.” XXVI. Never would a stranger who should have suddenly come into Daniel’s chamber, upon seeing Crochard’s attitude, have imagined that the wretch was accused of a capital crime, and was standing there before a magistrate, in presence of the man whom he had tried three times to assassinate. Quite at home in the law, as far as it was studied at the galleys, he had instantly recognized that his situation was by no means so desperate as he had at first supposed; that, if the jury rendered a verdict of guilty of death, it would be against the instigator of the crime, and that he would probably get off with a few years’ penal servitude.

They might have fired a cannon at his ear, and he would not have jumped as he did when I spoke to him. And pretending to laugh very merrily,--for the benefit of the spectators, you know,--he said, speaking very low and very rapidly,-- “‘In the costume that you have on, I cannot ask you to get into my carriage; that would only compromise us both uselessly. I have long foreseen something of the kind would happen; and I know that every time I go out I run the risk of meeting a former comrade.

If I wanted to get rid of you, this very evening you would have lost all trace of me, thanks to a little contrivance I have arranged. Besides, as you are in Paris without leave, before twenty-four hours are over, you would be in jail.’ He told me all this so calmly, that I felt it was so, and that the scamp had some special trick. Although the magistrate preserved his impassive appearance, Daniel and the chief surgeon listened with breathless attention, feeling that the prisoner had come to the really important part of his confession, from which, no doubt, much light would be obtained. Lefloch himself listened with open mouth; and one could follow on his ingenuous countenance all the emotions produced by the recital of the criminal, who, but for him, would probably have escaped justice. But I have not put anything aside; and if an accident should happen to me, which I have reason to fear, I would be destitute.’ “I should have liked very much to know more; but he would not tell me anything else concerning himself; and I had to give him my whole history since my release.

I would have jumped into the fire for Chevassat. I would not have been so delighted, if I had known what I should have to pay for all this; for in the first place”-- “Oh, go on!” broke in the lawyer; “go on!” Not without some disappointment, Crochard had to acknowledge that everything purely personal did not seem to excite the deepest interest. “We sit down; and I, fearing nothing, would not have changed places with the pope. Besides, you would not risk anything. The thing would happen to him abroad.’ I continued, however, to refuse, and I spoke even of going away; when Chevassat seized a big knife, and said, now that I had his secret, I was bound to go on. “Then, all at once, he became as jolly again as before; and, whilst he kept pouring the brandy into my glass, he explained to me that I would be a fool to hesitate; that I could never in all my life find such a chance again of making a fortune; that I would most certainly succeed; and that then I would have an income, keep a carriage as he did, wear fine clothes, and have every day a dinner like the one we had just been enjoying together. “No scene!” Crochard sighed deeply, and then continued in a tearful tone,-- “They might cut me to pieces, and I would not be able to say what happened after that. We agreed, therefore, that he would pay me four thousand francs in advance, and that, after the accident, he would give me six thousand certain, and a portion of the sum which he would secure.” “Thus you undertook, for ten thousand francs, to murder a man?” “I thought”-- “That sum is very far from those fabulous amounts by which you said you had been blinded and carried away.” “Pardon me!

You knew very well that Chevassat would never have paid you anything.” Crochard’s hands twitched nervously. I would have--but no; he knows me; he would never have dared”-- The magistrate had caught the prisoner’s eye, and, fixing him sternly, he said good-naturedly,-- “Why did you tell me, then, that that man magnetized you, and frightened you out of your wits?” The wretch had gone into the snare, and, instead of answering, hung his head, and tried to sob. “Repentance is all very well,” said the lawyer, who did not seem to be in the least touched; “but just now it would be better for you to explain how your trip to Cochin China was arranged. If he takes it into his head to imitate your own handwriting, you would never suspect it.” Daniel and the old surgeon exchanged glances. Besides, Chevassat said he would enlist some people in my behalf; perhaps I had been specially recommended.” “And thus you sailed?” “Yes. I began to hope he would not go out on the expedition at all. By everybody?” “Well, I mean his concierge, his servants.” The magistrate seemed for a moment to consider how he should frame his next question; and then he asked, all of a sudden,-- “Suppose that the--accident, as you call it, had succeeded, you would have taken ship; you would have arrived in France; you reach Paris; how would you have found Chevassat to claim your six thousand francs?” “I should have gone to his house, where I breakfasted with him; and, if he had left, the concierge would have told me where he lived now.” “Then you really think you saw him at his own rooms? He was furious at the idea of having been duped by his accomplice, by the instigator of the crime he had committed, and for which he would probably never have received the promised reward. He had foreseen this wrath on the part of the prisoner; he had prepared it carefully, and caused it to break out fully; for he knew it would bring him full light on the whole subject. He knew the voyage would not be a pleasant one; but the prospect of being tried in France was as good as an escape from capital punishment to his mind.

If I had been a brute, such as these are, the lieutenant would not be there, wounded to be sure, but alive. And her confidence in me was so great, that, if she had any presentiment, she suppressed it for my sake.” Daniel had, to be sure, a certain assurance now, that Maxime de Brevan would not be able to escape from justice. Blinded by passion, so as to ask for impossibilities, Daniel would have had this lawyer, who was so clever in unearthing crimes committed in Saigon, find means rather to prevent the atrocious crime which was now going on in France. At the first glimpse of reason that had appeared after his terrible sufferings, he had hastened to write to Henrietta, begging her to take courage, and promising her that he would soon be near her. But how long would it take before it could reach her? Would it reach her in time? In one the poor girl told him how she had lived so far on the money obtained from the sale of the little jewelry she had taken with her, but added that she was shamefully cheated, and would soon be compelled to seek employment of some sort in order to support herself.

After these two fearful letters, he could only expect a last one from Henrietta,--a letter in which she would tell him, “All is over. Do you know that you cannot stand up fifteen minutes?” “I can lie down in my berth.” “You would kill yourself.” “What of that? I would rather suffer death than what I now endure. But would this imprudence be of any use to him? Thus they succeeded in keeping Daniel quiet for a fortnight; but, at the end of that time, he declared that he felt quite well enough to look out for a ship himself; and that, if he could do no better, he meant to sail for Singapore, where he would be sure to procure a passage home. It would, of course, have been simple folly to try and keep a man back who was so much bent upon his purpose; and, as his first visit to the port would have revealed to him the true state of things, the old surgeon preferred to make a clean breast of it. Still he also felt that it would have been black ingratitude and stupid obstinacy to preserve in his heart a shadow of resentment. “I have attended you as I would have attended any one: that is my duty, and you need not trouble yourself about your gratitude.

At noon, therefore, he asked himself with terror, how he was to employ his time till night, when they came, and asked if he would please come over to the courthouse, to see the magistrate. The last mail had brought him the news of his appointment to a judgeship, which he had long anxiously desired, and which would enable him to return, not only to France, but to his native province. Champcey was on the point of sailing, he wished to tell him that he would receive a very important packet, which he was desired to hand to the court as soon as he reached Paris. Two days more, and he would be in Paris, and his fate would be irrevocably fixed. But would they let him go on shore that evening? And who could tell how long it would take them to go to the rescue of that boat? I, I would not make the signal; but”-- Nevertheless, the poor fellow would probably have experienced some very rough treatment, if the “gentleman” had not come running up, and covered him with his own body, exclaiming,-- “Let that poor boy go! Confide in him as you would in your best and most devoted friend; and, I beseech you, do not hesitate to follow his advice literally. Champcey, that it would have been simpler to wait for you in port, and hand you my letter of introduction there.

That would have been grievous imprudence. They would see the danger that threatens them, and they would escape.” Daniel could hardly trust his ears.

No, not even--What would it be to them, besides? Towards midnight, however, the old lady remarked that it was getting late, and that it would be wise to go to bed.

What it was, they did not know; but they understood, or rather felt, that Daniel’s return would and must totally change the aspect of affairs. But would Daniel really come? Without you Daniel would find nothing of me but a cross at the cemetery, and a name stained and destroyed by infamous calumnies.” The old lady did not hear a word. Too impatient to wait for his trunks, he left Lefloch in charge, and jumped into a cab, promising the driver two dollars if he would go as fast as he could to the Hotel du Louvre. Now and then they would move apart a little, throwing back the head in order the better to look at each other; then swiftly they would fold each other again closely in their arms, as if they were afraid they might be separated anew. I thought the mean coward would try to get you out of the way, Daniel. If the old dealer, instead of going down by the backstairs, had taken the front staircase, he would never have heard Henrietta’s agony, and the poor child would have been lost. If Crochard’s ball had been a few lines nearer the heart, Daniel would have been killed.

No; for at the time when he engaged Crochard, he could not foresee the atrocious outrages of which he would have become guilty during the succeeding year. “What an idea!” But he could not tell a falsehood; and Henrietta would not have been a woman, if she had not noticed his embarrassment. tell me that there is no need for me to justify myself to”-- Then turning to Papa Ravinet, he said,-- “Suppose, we admit, for a moment, that she might have been in love, as you say, what would that prove?” The cunning old dealer remained apparently unmoved for a time; but his small eyes were sparkling with malicious delight and satisfaction. you would not talk so, if you knew Sarah Brandon’s antecedents as well as I do. But no; it would be asking too much, perhaps, to beg you to let me see them?” He did not know how ready Daniel was to grant the request. Ready as he was, to tell Henrietta everything, he could not but wish that she should read these letters, as she would see from them, that, if the countess had written to him, he had never returned an answer.

Daniel trembled at the idea; for his loyalty rebelled against such a vengeance; he felt as if he would have become a traitor. “You see, to use a woman’s correspondence, however odious and contemptible she may be, would always be very repugnant to me.” “I had no idea of asking such a thing of you,” replied the old dealer. “Now,” he went on, “mind that I take everything at the best; and even suppose the case, that Count Ville-Handry leaves his daughter free to choose: would that be enough?

Would I be here, if I did not think that Sarah was not quite ready yet?” Daniel, also, had suffered terribly during this discussion; and he now said passionately,-- “Would it not be a crime for us to think, to wait, and to calculate, when such great dangers are impending? Can we not go to him?” “Count Ville-Handry would say to you--But you shall hear to-morrow what he will tell you.” Daniel began to feel utterly dismayed. To tell you in detail what the first years of Sarah were like would be difficult indeed. Merely upon seeing her go along, her head high with an air of saucy indifference, coquettish under her rags, and walking with elastic steps, you would have guessed in her the young Parisian girl, the sister of the poor ‘gamin,’ a thousand times more wicked than her brothers, and far more dangerous to society. “For from them she derived the only notions of morality she ever possessed; otherwise, it would have been love’s labor lost to talk to her of virtue or of duty. These words would have conveyed no meaning to her imagination; she knew no more about them than about the abstract ideas which they represent. The very comforts around her embarrassed her, and she felt as a savage would feel in tight boots.

Any other person would have been in despair. At night, therefore, while sipping his coffee, his feet on the andirons, and his long pipe in his mouth, he would soon forget himself amid the recollections of his youth.

“Thus it came about, that, two years later, no one would have recognized the lean, wretched-looking vagabond of the suburbs in this fresh, rosy girl, with the lustrous eyes and the modest mien, whom they called in the house the ‘pretty artist in the fifth story.’ “And yet the change was only on the surface. He refused in a manner which made it clear to her that he would never change his mind on that subject. “In former days Sarah would not have hesitated a moment; she would have run away. She asked herself where she could go, alone, without money, without friends, and what she should do, and what would become of her. “I do not say that,” he said; “and, at all events, it would be impossible to prove it at this time,--I mean, to prove it against her denial.

These stupid people, who had a business which supported them handsomely, and enabled them, in the course of time, to amass a small fortune, did not see that the best thing they could have done would have been to enlarge it, and to leave it to their son.

They vowed they would sacrifice all their savings, and deprive themselves even of the necessaries of life, in order that their Justin might become a ‘gentleman.’ “And what a gentleman! “When Justin was fourteen years old, he despised his parents thoroughly, treated them like servants, and was so much ashamed of them, that he would not allow his mother to come and see him in the parlor of the college to which he had been admitted of late. When he was at home during vacations, he would have cut his right arm off rather than help his father, or pour out a glass of wine for a customer. His course was not completed; but, as he was tired of college-life, he declared he would not return there, and he never did return. And, with fear and trembling, they at last ventured to suggest, that perhaps it would be well if he should seek some kind of work.

“He told them coolly that he would think it over, but that he must have his two hundred dollars. “Still he saw that the till he had considered inexhaustible was really empty, and that henceforth his pockets also would be empty, unless he could devise some means to fill them. Still, most assuredly, it was his signature; he would have sworn to it in court.

“If he had slept soundly one month longer, he would have been ruined. “He laid great stress upon the fact that his whole eighty thousand dollars had been lost on ‘Change, and that he would have looked upon himself as the meanest of rascals, if he had spent any part of it on his personal enjoyments.

He conceived the idea of bursting forth in a new shape, under which no one would ever suspect his former identity. Would they still be remembered in a land where they had once been all powerful? Most assuredly they would. Would people take the trouble to inquire minutely what had become of the marquis and his five sons? “He was on the point of marrying a young lady from Mans, who would have brought him half a million in money, and the banns had already been published, when, all of a sudden, the marriage was broken off, no one knew why. “They met frequently; and, if it were not profanation, I would say they loved each other.

One would be at a loss to guess how she could obtain this from a young, healthy man, full of life and happiness, if it were not that love will explain everything. “They resolved they would not stop playing till they had won a million, or lost everything. “The next morning she dressed very early and went out, saying she had a plan in her head, and would soon be back. de Brevan left immediately for Frankfort, convinced that Sarah’s brilliant beauty would guide him like a star. Sarah had, besides, filled his imagination with such magnificent hopes, and opened before his covetous eyes such a vast horizon of enjoyment, that he had come to look upon things as pitiful, which would formerly have satisfied his highest wishes. “He knew, that, if he returned to Paris, matters would not be very pleasant for him there. His creditors, made restless by his prolonged absence, would fall upon him instantly. How would he support himself? if our honest friends could but know what misery, what humiliations and anxieties are hid beneath that false splendor of high life, which they often envy, they would think themselves fully avenged.

Often and often, in his hours of distress, he recalled her parting promise, ‘You shall see me again when our fortune is made.’ He knew she was quite capable of amassing millions; but, when she had them, would she still think of him? They knew very well that her matchless beauty would catch fools innumerable, and bring in a rich harvest of thousand-franc-notes. Brian had agreed that they would exhibit Sarah in Paris; that she was to marry a duke with any number of millions; and that they should be paid for their trouble by receiving an annual allowance of some ten thousand dollars. She had instinctively appreciated the immense advantage she would derive from personifying a young American girl, and the irresistible effect she might easily produce by her freedom of movement and her bold ingenuousness. Their confidence in him was so great, that they would have laughed in the face of any one who should have come and told them, ‘Malgat is a thief!’ “Such he was, when, that morning, he was standing near his safe, and saw a gentleman come to his window who had just cashed a check drawn by the Central Bank of Philadelphia upon the Mutual Discount Bank. how he protested, affirming the purity of his intentions, and swearing that he would be the happiest of mortals if they would condescend to grant him the hand of her niece.

He would have carried his deceptive illusions and his unstained honor with him to the grave. if he had taken her at her word, and answered her, offering her his arm,-- “‘Yes, let us flee,’ the plot might have been defeated, and he might have been saved; for she would certainly not have gone with him. “But with that clear perception which was a perfect marvel in her, and looked like the gift of second sight, she had taken the measure of the cashier, and exposed herself to the danger, well-knowing that he would shrink from doing what she asked. He said to himself that it would be a mean thing to abuse the attachment of this pure and trustful girl, to separate her from her family, and to ruin her forever. “He did have this wonderful power of self-denial to dissuade her from taking such a step, and to induce her to be patient, giving time an opportunity of coming to their assistance, while he would do all he could to overcome the obstacles in the way. “For hours after he had left Sarah Brandon, Malgat had not recovered from the excitement; and he would have thought the whole a dream, but for the penetrating perfume which his clothes still retained where she had rested her beautiful head. She said this with an accent and with a look which would have tempted an angel.

“Far from repenting, he rejoiced at what had been done; and when he learned, that, on the following day, the board of directors were to meet to examine the books, he laughed at the faces they would make; for I told you he was mad. she might have spoken a long time yet, and Malgat would not have thought of interrupting her. It seemed to him impossible that such a monstrous wrong could be carried out, and that he would have only to proclaim the wickedness of these wretches to have them in his power. You would only sacrifice yourself, without doing us any harm. Would they believe him if he were to tell the truth? He only saw clearly that no one would look upon them as forgeries. “Unfortunately, such victims would not show themselves. And, when he had not a cent left, she well-nigh forced him to write her three forged drafts, swearing, that, on the day on which they became due, she would take them up herself. As soon as he left the house, he hanged himself on Sarah’s window, thinking that he would thus hold up to public censure the infamous creature who had led him to commit a crime. de Brevan would not hear of it; and it was the hope he had of breaking it up, which made him speak to you so frankly of Sarah Brandon.

And he was so mortally offended, that he would have betrayed her to the courts even, if he had known how to do it without inculpating himself.

“He did not then anticipate that she would ever fall in love with you, and that she, in her turn, would have to succumb to one of those desperate passions which she had so often kindled in others, and used for her own advantage. I would not be able.” But Henrietta stopped him. Bertolle brought up all possible arguments to convince him, that, with a woman like Sarah Brandon, all reprisals were fair; he would not be convinced. That is my story, and I thought I would enrich my country by a new source of revenue. If I were to die to-morrow, she would be penniless.” Daniel trembled. He read it, and said,-- “Tell them I am coming.” Then, turning again to Daniel, he added,-- “I must leave you; but the countess is at home, and she would never forgive me if I did not take you in to present your respects to her. It would kill her.” And, before Daniel could recover from his bewilderment, the count had opened a door, and pushed him into the room, saying,-- “Sarah, M. Her husband had left them; but, even if he had been still in the room, she would probably not have been any more able to control herself.

In any other man, this prodigious confidence in a friend would have appeared to her the extreme of human folly; in Daniel, she thought it was sublime. This idea, one would think, would have made Sarah tremble. In the meantime he entertained her by describing to her his actual position, lamenting over the treachery by which he had been ruined, and adding how hard he would find it at thirty to begin the world anew. He replied with a perfection of affected candor which he would not have suspected to be in his power the day before,-- “What? But for me, the count would have kept you; but I came to your rescue by sending him up a letter. “And if I were not ruined?” she said at last in a hoarse voice; “what would you say then?” “I should say that you are the very woman of whom an ambitious man of thirty might dream in his most glorious visions.” She believed him.

I knew you would come back; and I wanted to have royal treasures to give you. And do you not see, that for the privilege of being loved by me as I love you, and were it but for a day, Malgat would again rob his employers, and the count would again give all his millions, and his honor itself?” She said this; but at the same time she had slipped one of her hands behind her back, and was feeling for the knob of the door. /

The Swiss porter stared at me with astonishment.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. This cottage had probably been built by some little Parisian shopkeeper in love with the beauties of nature; for all the trees had been carefully cut down. It consisted merely of two apartments on the ground floor with a loft above. He found himself surrounded by about forty individuals burning with curiosity. He knocked several times loudly with his leaded cane, first at the door, and then successively at all the window shutters. “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. They entered the house, while the crowd, restrained with difficulty by the gendarmes, stamped with impatience, or leant over the garden wall, stretching their necks eagerly, to see or hear something of what was passing within the cottage. Everything in the first room pointed with a sad eloquence to the recent presence of a malefactor. “Could they not have robbed, without assassinating the poor woman?” “But where has she been wounded?” inquired the commissary, “I do not see any blood.” “Look!

“Let information be at once conveyed to the justice of the peace, and the mayor, and send this letter without delay to the Palais de Justice. 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. This night-cap did not prevent her dressing very smartly during the day; indeed, she ordinarily wore very handsome dresses, very showy ribbons in her caps, and covered herself with jewels like a saint in a chapel. Without doubt she had lived on the coast, for ships and the sea recurred incessantly in her conversation.

She had lent a woman at La Malmaison sixty francs with which to pay her rent, and would not let her return them. 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. Laborious, patient, and acute, he knew with singular skill how to disentangle the skein of the most complicated affair, and from the midst of a thousand threads lay hold to the right one. None better than he, armed with an implacable logic, could solve those terrible problems in which X--in algebra, the unknown quantity--represents the criminal.

Although possessed of qualifications for his office so numerous and valuable, he was tremblingly distrustful of his own abilities and exercised his terrible functions with diffidence and hesitation. No rest for him until the day when the accused was forced to bow before the evidence; so much so that he had been jestingly reproached with seeking not to discover criminals but innocents. The reason for this, so he pretends, is because he only looks at a man’s eyes, without noticing any other features. Without the slightest hesitation he recognised the prisoners and named them. The subordinate Gevrol had brought with him, was an old offender, reconciled to the law. She was then returning from Bougival with a basketful of purchases.” “You are sure of the hour, sir?” inquired Gevrol. “Perfectly, and for this reason; the two witnesses who furnished me with this fact, a woman named Tellier and a cooper who lives hard by, alighted from the omnibus which leaves Marly every hour, when they perceived the widow in the cross-road, and hastened to overtake her.

They conversed with her and only left her when they reached the door of her own house.” “And what had she in her basket?” asked the investigating magistrate. He came, sure enough, the amiable gallant!” “Oh!” cried the corporal of gendarmes, evidently scandalised, “she was very old, and terribly ugly!” Gevrol surveyed the honest fellow with an expression of contemptuous pity. In the middle of the room was a table covered with a fine linen cloth, white as snow. 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. On the other side of the fireplace, an old secretary with a marble top had been forced, broken, smashed into bits, and rummaged, no doubt, to its inmost recesses.

the poor devil was busy with her cooking when he struck her; see her pan of ham and eggs upon the hearth. I have known an assassin, who, after accomplishing the murder, became so utterly bewildered as to depart without remembering to take the plunder, for which he had committed the crime. Not a letter, not a scrap of paper even, to be met with. The miscreant has taken his measures with great precaution; but I will catch him. “Only, permit me, sir, to give--what shall I say without failing in respect?--a piece of advice?” “Speak!” “I would advise you, sir, to distrust old Tabaret.” “Really? And he manages to invent a story that will correspond exactly with the situation.

He professes, with the help of one single fact, to be able to reconstruct all the details of an assassination, as a savant pictures an antediluvian animal from a single bone. Take, for instance, the case of the tailor, the unfortunate Dereme, without me--” “I thank you for your advice,” interrupted M. It was evident that Widow Lerouge had been a singularly discreet woman; for, although very talkative, nothing in any way connected with her antecedents remained in the memory of the gossips of La Jonchere. Public opinion sided with Gevrol. Every voice denounced the tall sunburnt man with the gray blouse. She remained in my shop more than an hour.” “And what did she say?” “I think I see her now,” continued the shopkeeper: “she was leaning against the counter near the scales, jesting with a fisherman of Marly, old Husson, who can tell you the same; and she called him a fresh water sailor. In fact he was too honest to be wise.” “Did her son ever come to see her while she lived here?” “She never told me of it.” “Did she spend much money with you?” “That depends. Then he took me by the ear, but without hurting me, and said, ‘Since that is so, if you will run an errand for me, I will give you ten sous.

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. 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. I only gave half to mamma; and I kept the rest to buy marbles with.” “My little friend,” said the investigating magistrate, “for this time I forgive you.

“The man with the rings in his ears becomes more and important,” said the magistrate, when the woman had retired. His round face wore that expression of perpetual astonishment, mingled with uneasiness, which has made the fortunes of two comic actors of the Palais-Royal theatre. “If you will permit me, I prefer to proceed without receiving any details, in order to be more fully master of my own impressions. I will, if you please, at once commence my researches, with Lecoq’s assistance.” As the old fellow spoke, his little gray eyes dilated, and became brilliant as carbuncles. All the while he talked loudly and with much gesticulation, apostrophising himself, scolding himself, uttering little cries of triumph or self-encouragement. 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. His clothes had greatly suffered; he was covered with mud up to the chin. “In the first place,” said he, at last, in a tone of affected modesty, “robbery has had nothing to do with the crime that occupies our attention.” “Oh! The assassin then gained admission without difficulty.

He leapt more than two yards with ease, proving that he is active, and therefore young.” Old Tabaret spoke in a low voice, clear and penetrating: and his eye glanced from one to the other of his auditors, watching the impression he was making. Has it been moistened with saliva? It is for him this magnificent glass, a present, no doubt, and it is evident she did not often use this knife with the ivory handle.” “That is all true,” murmured M. 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. The victim must have clung with a death-grip to his hands; but, as he had not taken off his lavender kid gloves,--” “Gloves! And then do you know what he did with them? He flies, carrying with him all that he finds valuable, to baffle detection, by suggesting a robbery. “I fear, however, your well-dressed young man must have been just a little embarrassed in carrying a bundle covered with a snow white napkin, which could be so easily seen from a distance. He 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. Old Tabaret examined with extreme care the dead woman’s finger-nails; and, using infinite precaution, he even extracted from behind them several small particles of kid. 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.

Daburon had now nothing more to do at La Jonchere; but Gevrol, who still clung to his own opinion of the guilt of the man with the rings in his ears, declared he would remain at Bougival. 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. “M Tabaret,” he suddenly asked, “have you been long associated with the police?” “Nine years, M. One morning my father entered my lodging, and abruptly announced to me that he was ruined, and without food or shelter. No sooner said than done, and during twenty years I was encumbered with the old--” “What!

Notwithstanding this, the old fellow complained without ceasing; he regretted his lost fortune; he must have pocket-money, with which to buy this, or that; my utmost exertions failed to satisfy him. on my word, it is enough to disgust the human race with filial piety!” M. I am acquainted with an illustrious bibliomaniac who may be able to read, but who is most certainly unable to sign his own name.” “This is very likely. In reading the memoirs of celebrated detectives, more attractive to me than the fables of our best authors I became inspired by an enthusiastic admiration for those men, so keen scented, so subtle, flexible as steel, artful and penetrating, fertile in expedients, who follow crime on the trail, armed with the law, through the rushwood of legality, as relentlessly as the savages of Cooper pursue their enemies in the depths of the American forests. 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. He seldom visited but one person of the house, but with that one he was very intimate, so much so indeed, that he was more often in her apartment, than in his own. Her name was Madame Gerdy, and she lived with her son Noel, whom she adored. Noel Gerdy was a man thirty-three years of age, but looking older; tall and well made, with a noble and intelligent face, large black eyes, and black hair which curled naturally. He was an obstinate worker, cold and meditative, though devoted to his profession, and affected, with some ostentation, perhaps, a great rigidity of principle, and austerity of manners. 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.

“Ah,” said he, “the proprietor has returned at last.” “So he has,” replied his wife, “but it looks as though his princess would have nothing to do with him to-night. Are you not hungry?” “Yes, yes,” muttered he, trying mechanically to escape the voice that sounded in his ears, “I am very hungry, for since the morning I have been obliged--” He interrupted himself, remaining with his mouth open, his eyes fixed on vacancy. She confided in the Widow Lerouge, and, with her assistance, accomplished a clandestine accouchement.” He called again. The father is the man of the fine carriage; the mother is the lady who came with the handsome young man. They have been frightened, and said, ‘Let there be an end of this!’ But who has charged himself with the commission? He has slain the witness and burnt the proofs!” Manette all this time, her ear to the keyhole, listened with all her soul; from time to time she gleaned a word, an oath, the noise of a blow upon the table; but that was all. I will have a chat with Noel, and that will change the course of my ideas.” He got up from the table, put on his overcoat, and took his hat and cane. She lived very quietly, and with the exception of one or two friends, whom Noel occasionally invited to dinner, received very few visitors.

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. 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. I wanted to fetch the doctor, sir, but he said there was no need; he knew what was the matter with her.” “And how is she now?” “She has come to her senses; that is to say, I suppose so; for M. Noel; 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. He found nothing with the exception of these lines, to justify or explain even the slightest emotion. Without doubt the accident to his mother had greatly excited him; for he was very pale and his countenance, ordinarily so calm, wore an expression of profound sorrow.

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. “At least, my dear boy,” said he, “tell me how this happened?” The young man hesitated a moment, as if consulting with himself.

He wanted to question Noel, but was restrained by the fear of revealing the secret of his association with the police. Indeed he had almost betrayed himself by the eagerness with which he exclaimed,-- “What! your mother knew the Widow Lerouge?” By an effort he restrained himself, and with difficulty dissembled his satisfaction; for he was delighted to find himself so unexpectedly on the trace of the antecedents of the victim of La Jonchere.

“What it is for Madame Gerdy, I cannot say,” replied Noel with a gloomy air; “but, for me, it is an overwhelming misfortune! Not only do I fear that the injustice is irreparable; but here am I totally without defence delivered over to the shafts of calumny. Is it probable?” “It is improbable,” replied Noel with a peculiar emphasis which was habitual to him: “it is incredible, if you will; but yet it is true. Her infamy dates from the moment when for the first time she took me on her knees; and, until these few days past, she has sustained without faltering her execrable role. We must believe Madame Gerdy possessed of an amount of audacity and ability rarely to be met with in a woman. She could never have managed this unaided; perhaps her husband himself.” “Her husband!” interrupted the advocate, with a laugh.

Tabaret, very much a bastard; Noel, son of the girl Gerdy and an unknown father!” “Ah!” cried the old fellow; “that then was the reason why your marriage with Mademoiselle Levernois was broken off four years ago?” “Yes, my friend, that was the reason. And what misfortunes might have been averted by this marriage with a young girl whom I loved! I know her; with her head on the block, she will deny it. I am only going to deal with the more important facts, treating directly of the affair.” Old Tabaret nestled in his arm-chair, burning with curiosity; his face and his eyes expressing the most anxious attention. This morning I received your darling letter, I have covered it with kisses, I have re-read it a hundred times; and now it has gone to join the others here upon my heart. has nearly killed me with joy. While the other, the son of my detested wife, by the sole fact of his birth, will be rich, noble, surrounded by devotion and homage, with a great position in the world.

It is very long, and filled with matters altogether foreign to the subject which now occupies us. ‘A destiny, more powerful than my will, chains me to this country; but my soul is with you, my Valerie! Without ceasing, my thoughts rest upon the adored pledge of our love which moves within you. In those days I would have gone to the king, who, with a word, would have assured the child’s position in the world. To-day, the king who governs with difficulty his disaffected subjects can do nothing. Heaven reserves strength and beauty for the children of love!’ The monster, that is I!” said the advocate, with intense rage. 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. My presence will double your courage; the strength of my love will diminish your sufferings.’” “I beg your pardon for interrupting you, Noel,” said old Tabaret, “do you know what important affairs detained your father abroad?” “My father, my old friend,” replied the advocate, “was, in spite of his youth, one of the friends, one of the confidants, of Charles X.; and he had been entrusted by him with a secret mission to Italy. I am sending him to Normandy, charged with a commission of the most delicate nature. Assist him with your advice.

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. Really, in my opinion, the count is far more deserving of your anger than she is.” “True,” interrupted Noel, with a certain degree of violence,--“true, the count is guilty, very guilty. I wish to charge myself with the sole responsibility of the deed; it is more prudent. “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. What is your opinion?” Old Tabaret remained some minutes without answering; he was estimating the probabilities resulting from M. The count’s scheme, simply and yet ingeniously conceived, succeeded without any effort.

She promised me her testimony for the day on which I should reclaim my rights!” “And she is gone, carrying her secret with her!” murmured the old fellow in a tone of regret. He had found them and had burnt them with the other papers, in the little stove. “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. His mistress was false to him, he learnt it, and cast her off with just indignation. “Who is there?” he asked, without stirring. Tabaret; “do not be merciless, only bigots have that right.” Noel arose with visible reluctance, and passed into Madame Gerdy’s sleeping apartment. He will tell me without knowing it.

If I ask for one, I must acknowledge my connection with the police. She has just assailed me with the most atrocious abuse, upbraiding me as the vilest of mankind! I really believe she is going out of her mind.” “One might do so with less cause,” murmured M. 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. Lies, absurd, infamous lies.” The advocate had finished gathering up his letters, without noticing the abstraction. It was easy, was it not, with the proofs I held against her? She would see me suffer the most horrible tortures, without shedding a tear, to prevent a single hair falling from her son’s head.” “She has probably warned the count,” observed old Tabaret, still pursuing his idea.

“She may have tried, but cannot have succeeded, for the count has been absent from Paris for more than a month and is not expected to return until the end of the week.” “How do you know that?” “I wished to see the count my father, to speak with him.” “You?” “Yes, I.

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! At the end rises the grand facade of the main building, majestic and severe, with its immense windows, and its double flight of marble steps.

I compared my brother’s brilliant destinies with my sad and labourious career; and my indignation well nigh overmastered reason. I love all, even to the proud escutcheon, frowning above the principal doorway, flinging its defiance to the theories of this age of levellers.” This last phrase conflicted so directly with the code of opinions habitual to Noel, that old Tabaret was obliged to turn aside, to conceal his amusement. The Swiss porter stared at me with astonishment. 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. I do not cherish any resentment against this young man; he has never to his knowledge injured me: he was in ignorance of our father’s crime; I am therefore able to speak of him with justice. He is one of the fortunate ones who arrive without having to start, or who traverse life’s road on such soft cushions that they are never injured by the jolting of their carriage. 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. I beseech you, above all, to keep calm.’ He looked at me with an air of extreme surprise, and answered, ‘Speak! I told him only to stop at those marked with a cross, and to carefully read the passages indicated with a red pencil.” “It was an abridgment of his penance,” remarked old Tabaret.

I was standing with my back to the fireplace in which a fire was burning. He held his handkerchief in his hand, with which from time to time he mechanically wiped his lips. 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. As soon as he returns I will have an explanation with him, and justice shall be done.

This old coach-house had a small door opening on the street, which had been in disuse for many years; but which Noel had had secretly repaired and provided with a lock. He could thus enter or leave the house at any hour without the concierge or any one else knowing. It was by this door that the advocate went out, though not without using the utmost caution in opening and closing it. But at the sound of the key in the lock, though very faint, a lady’s maid, rather young and pretty, with a bold pair of eyes, ran toward him.

This was a rather large apartment with a very high ceiling. All the empire of the sun and moon was depicted thereon in vermillion landscapes: corpulent mandarins surrounded by their lantern-bearers; learned men lay stupefied with opium, sleeping under their parasols; young girls with elevated eyebrows, stumbled upon their diminutive feet swathed in bandages. The carpet of a manufacture unknown to Europeans, was strewn with fruits and flowers, so true to nature that they might have deceived a bee. Slender rods of lacquer, inlaid with mother of pearl, bordered the draperies, and marked the angles of the apartment. Articles of furniture of capricious and incoherent forms, tables with porcelain tops, and chiffoniers of precious woods encumbered every recess or angle. A very large and very low divan piled up with cushions, covered with tapestry similar to the hangings, occupied one end of the room.

There was no regular window, but instead a large single pane of glass, fixed into the wall of the house; in front of it was a double glass door with moveable panes, and the space between was filled with the most rare flowers. The grate was replaced by registers adroitly concealed, which maintained in the apartment a temperature fit for hatching silkworms, thus truly harmonising with the furniture.

Her hands with their tapering fingers and rosy nails looked like jewels preciously cared for. Her forehead was a little high, and her mouth unmistakably large, notwithstanding the provoking freshness of her lips. Her eyebrows were so perfect they seem to have been drawn with India ink; but, unhappily the pencil had been used too heavily; and they gave her an unpleasant expression when she frowned.

So as soon as I am unable to pay, it will be all up with me.” “My dear Juliette,” began the advocate gently.

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. You bring me a present, and I ought at once to pay cash, fill the house with cries of joy, and throw myself upon my knees before you, calling you a great and magnificent lord!” Noel was unable this time to restrain a gesture of impatience, which Juliette perceived plainly enough, to her great delight. 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. The idea that a man had loved her sufficiently to ruin himself for her, without allowing even a reproach to escape him, filled this woman with joy. 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.

“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. Juliette did the same on account of her lover, for she had no secrets from Charlotte, who had been with her three years, and with whom she had shared everything, sometimes even her lovers. At the end of three months, having had enough of it, she left the nest of her first love, with all she possessed tied up in a cotton pocket handkerchief. During the four years which followed, she led a precarious existence, sometimes with little else to live upon but hope, which never wholly abandons a young girl who knows she has pretty eyes. 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 loved her madly, without reflection, without measure, with his eyes shut. He made himself a monster of jealousy, and then argued with himself respecting her fidelity. You are not at all the doctor who could do anything for me.” Noel rose with a discouraged air, and took his place at the side of the tea-table, facing her.

Then one should seek a woman to suit oneself, or have her made to order; shut her up in the cellar, and have her brought upstairs once a day, at the end of dinner, during dessert, or with the champagne just by way of amusement.” “I should have done better not to have come,” murmured the advocate. I am to remain alone here, without anything to occupy me except a cigarette and a stupid book, that I go to sleep over? 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. Yet I know many bigger swells then you, who do not mind being seen with their mistresses. My friends would have come to see us in a home in accordance with a modest competence.

“You will drive me mad with your injustice,” said he. 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.

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. I shall have a visit from him the day after to-morrow, for he holds some bills of mine.” Juliette recoiled, menacing Noel with a mutinous gesture. 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. Her face was of a livid paleness, as though there was not a drop of blood left in her veins; and her eyes, which glittered with a sombre light, seemed filled with a fine dust. The doctor’s history differed in nothing from that of most young men, who, without fortune, friends, or influence, enter upon the practice of the most difficult, the most hazardous of professions that exist in Paris, where one sees so many talented young doctors forced, to earn their bread, to place themselves at the disposition of infamous drug vendors. Here, armed with a patience which nothing could fatigue, an iron resolution that nothing could subdue, he struggled and waited. Only those who have experienced it can understand what sufferings are endured by the poor, proud man, who waits in a black coat, freshly shaven, with smiling lips, while he is starving of hunger!

Three or four pamphlets, and a prize won without much intrigue, have attracted public attention to him. He used up that feeling in the days when he had not wherewith to pay for his dinner. Madame Gerdy is not my mother; she despoiled me, to enrich her son with my fortune and my name. Ever since, she has been dying minute by minute.” The advocate expected some exclamations of astonishment, and a host of questions from his friend; but the doctor received the explanation without remark, as a simple statement, indispensable to his understanding the case. Lazare terminus was striking eleven as old Tabaret, after shaking hands with Noel, left his house, still bewildered by what he had just heard. It was with an unsteady gait that he took his first steps in the street, like the toper, who, after being shut up in a warm room, suddenly goes out into the open air. He was beaming with pleasure, but at the same time felt rather giddy, from that rapid succession of unexpected revelations, which, so he thought, had suddenly placed him in possession of the truth.

Notwithstanding his haste to arrive at M. Without hastening his pace, he reached the Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin, crossed the Boulevard with its resplendent cafes, and turned to the Rue Richelieu. Like all persons labouring under strong emotion without knowing it, he talked aloud, little thinking into what indiscreet ears his exclamations and disjointed phrases might fall.

I shall kill two birds with one stone. A woman to whom I would have given absolution without waiting to hear her confess. He saw himself married, and all on a sudden, discovering the antecedents of Madame Tabaret, becoming mixed up with a scandalous prosecution, compromised, and rendered ridiculous. “When I think,” he continued, “that my worthy Gevrol is running after the man with the earrings! Won’t he just overpower me with questions! When I was with Noel, I should have cross-examined him, got hold of a quantity of useful details; but I did not even think of doing so. To be sure, I do not blush for my connection with the police, I am even vain of it; but at the same time, I prefer that no one should know of it.

have you got a clue?” “Better than that,” answered the old fellow, smiling with pleasure. I shall certainly never hereafter undertake an investigation without your assistance.” “You are too kind, sir. But I beg you will be seated and proceed.” Then with the lucidness and precision of which few would have believed him capable, the old fellow repeated to the magistrate all that he had learned from Noel. He quoted from memory the extracts from the letters, almost without changing a word. 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. Tabaret, like an accomplished artist, had uttered these words slowly, and with a deliberate emphasis, confidently expecting to produce a great impression.

Daburon was struck with stupor. He remained motionless, his eyes dilated with astonishment. Mechanically he repeated like a word without meaning which he was trying to impress upon his memory: “Albert de Commarin! Daburon, without exactly knowing what he said. His mind wanted brilliancy and lightness; he lacked the facility of repartee, and the amiable art of conversing without a subject; he could neither tell a lie, nor pay an insipid compliment. He required to reflect and consider within himself.

He reasoned, wisely perhaps, that a magistrate can make better use of his time than by remaining shut up in his study, in company with books of law. His friends sought for him, but he was nowhere to be met with.

Her appearance alone will tell more than an exhaustive article, and an hour’s conversation with her, more than a volume. 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. Daburon’s presented him one evening to the Marchioness d’Arlange, having dragged him to her house in a mirthful mood, saying, “Come with me, and I will show you a phenomenon, a ghost of the past in flesh and bone.” The marchioness rather puzzled the magistrate the first time he was admitted to her presence. She was so confirmed in this habit, that, if by accident she pronounced such a name correctly, she immediately repeated it with some ludicrous alteration.

The old marchioness did not care, so she said, to be bothered with a young spy who would be in her way when she related some of her choice anecdotes. A certain air of antiquity, the result of her association with her grandmother, added yet another charm to the young girl’s manner. She was, what is often met with on the other side of the Rhine, a woman at once romantic and practical, of the tenderest sensibility and the severest virtue.

She revealed to Claire all the peculiarities of thought and manner that rendered her grandmother so ridiculous, and taught her to avoid them, but without ceasing to respect them. Whilst listening with an inattentive ear to the old lady’s rigmaroles and her interminable anecdotes of the emigration, he gazed upon Claire, as a fanatic upon his idol. She looked at the discard, changed the cards which did not suit her, while she audaciously scored points she never made, and pocketed the money thus won without shame or remorse. During the entire winter, the magistrate did not directly address the young girl ten times; and, on these rare occasions, he had learned mechanically by heart the phrase he proposed to repeat to her, well knowing that, without this precaution, he would most likely be unable to finish what he had to say. But at least he saw her, he breathed the same air with her, he heard her voice, whose pure and harmonious vibrations thrilled his very soul. At other times, he thought, “She has met with some annoyance to-day;” and immediately he became sad. To attempt the thing would be to risk, without a chance of success, his present happiness which he thought immense, for love lives upon its own misery. She had some work done by a neighboring painter some eight or ten months before; and the workman had presented himself a hundred times to receive payment, without avail. A maid was occupied in inundating the old lady with all sorts of waters, in the hope of calming her nerves.

In a little more than half an hour, she told her story, interlarded with numerous interjections and imprecations. turned out!” At this painful recollection, she made a menacing gesture with her arm. He had heard many speeches as absurd issue from her lips without ever making fun of them. He blessed her for her granddaughter, as an admirer of nature blesses heaven for the wild flower that delights him with its perfume. His triumph was the more meritorious, because he came completely unprepared for this adventure, which interfered with his intended proposal. Arming himself, however, with his professional eloquence, he talked the old lady into calmness.

Commencing with the infamous Marat he eventually reached the rascal of a judge who had offended her. I see plainly that I must pay this man without delay, and it is frightfully sad for me, for I have nothing, and am forced to make such sacrifices for the sake of my grandchild!” This statement surprised the magistrate so strongly that involuntarily he repeated half-aloud, “Sacrifices?” “Certainly!” resumed Madame d’Arlange. “Without her, would I have to live as I am doing, refusing myself everything to make both ends meet? Daburon, it makes me giddy when I wonder how I am to marry her.” The magistrate reddened with pleasure. I do not know of one who has the manhood to take a d’Arlange with her bright eyes for a dowry.” “I believe that you exaggerate,” remarked M. He will be only too happy to receive Mademoiselle Claire without a dowry.

Daburon, transported with happiness, could almost have embraced the old lady. He thought her the best, the most excellent of women, not noticing the facility with which this proud spirit had been brought to yield. He departed in triumph from the d’Arlange abode, which he had entered with a heart swelling with anxiety. He walked with his head erect, his chest dilated, and breathing the fresh air with the full strength of his lungs. He already saw it, with its facade to the rising sun, nestling in the midst of flowers, and shaded with wide-spreading trees.

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 began to perceive that her fear of him had almost disappeared, that she no longer received him with the cold and haughty air which had previously kept him at a distance. At times she intrusted him with trifling commissions, the execution of which he would not have exchanged for the Russian embassy.

She accepted it with an air of uneasy surprise, but begged him not to repeat the offering. Often in the evening she accepted his arm, and, while the marchioness remained at the window, seated in her arm-chair, they walked around the lawn, treading lightly upon the paths spread with gravel sifted so fine that the trailing of her light dress effaced the traces of their footsteps. She chatted gaily with him, as with a beloved brother, while he was obliged to do violence to his feelings, to refrain from imprinting a kiss upon the little blonde head, from which the light breeze lifted the curls and scattered them like fleecy clouds. At such moments, he seemed to tread an enchanted path strewn with flowers, at the end of which appeared happiness. You must petition the king, my friend, to change your name.” If instead of intoxicating himself with dreams of happiness, this acute observer had studied the character of his idol, the effect might have been to put him upon his guard.

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. “Mademoiselle,” stammered he, “Claire--” She turned towards him her beautiful eyes, filled with astonishment. Claire, mademoiselle, do not spurn me: I love you!” While the magistrate was speaking, Mademoiselle d’Arlange looked at him as though doubtful of the evidence of her senses; but at the words, “I love you!” pronounced with the trembling accents of the most devoted passion, she disengaged her hand sharply, and uttered a stifled cry. She repulsed him with an imploring gesture. It is not possible, that, without a profound love, a man can be all that you have been to me. It was with such happiness that I leant on you as a child on its mother; and with what inward joy I said to myself, ‘I am sure of one friend, of one heart into which runs the overflow of mine!’ Ah! Why did I withhold my secret from you? I no longer belong to myself freely and with happiness, I have given my life to another.” To hover in the clouds, and suddenly to fall rudely to the earth, such was M. His father is cruel, inexorable.” “His father,” cried the magistrate, with a bitterness he did not dream of hiding, “his father, his family, and that withholds him!

What sacrifice can compare with love? To suffer, to struggle, to wait, to hope always, to devote oneself entirely to another; that is my idea of love.” “It is thus I love,” said Claire with simplicity. 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. Daburon looked at her with an air of surprise; his eyes questioned her. That she has continued to receive you is a tacit encouragement of your addresses; which I consider, permit me to say, as very honourable to myself.” “I have already mentioned, mademoiselle,” replied the magistrate, “that the marchioness has deigned to authorise my hopes.” And briefly he related his interview with Madame d’Arlange, having the delicacy, however, to omit absolutely the question of money, which had so strongly influenced the old lady. I cherish this last illusion, that later on you will remember me with pleasure. Daburon’s hands, and said with great emotion:--“Yes, you are right, you must remain my friend. 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. I shall only return often enough to avoid the appearance of a rupture.” His voice trembled, so that it was with difficulty he made it distinct.

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. She turned to her grand-daughter, who had gone to hide her confusion away from the candles of the card table, and asked, “What is the matter with Daburon this evening?” “I do not know, madame,” stammered Claire.

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. On the following day only it was learned, that, during the hunt, he had fallen from his horse, and had sat at his majesty’s card table with a broken rib. Her imagination would present me dressed in a funeral robe, in the depth of a gloomy dungeon, engaged with some vile criminal. He went with his head bare, his eyes haggard. Sometimes, unconsciously, he crossed the path of a solitary wayfarer, who would pause, touched with pity, and turn to watch the retreating figure of the unfortunate wretch he thought deprived of reason. He began to understand the hate that arms itself with a knife, and lays in ambush in out-of-the-way places; which strikes in the dark, whether in front or from behind matters little, but which strikes, which kills, whose vengeance blood alone can satisfy. At that very hour he was supposed to be occupied with an inquiry into the case of an unfortunate, accused of having stabbed one of her wretched companions. Daburon felt himself seized with pity for this miserable creature, whom he had commenced to examine the day before. The delirium of the night continued, but without suffering. He reflected and reasoned, but without his reason.

As soon as he arrived home he dressed himself with care, as was his custom formerly when visiting the Marchioness d’Arlange, and went out.

While passing along, he grasped with frenzy the handle of the revolver which he kept concealed, thinking only of the murder he was determined to commit, and the means of insuring the accuracy of his aim. My father no doubt will die of grief, but I must have my revenge!” On arriving at the club, his friend pointed out a very dark young man, with a haughty air, or what appeared so to him, who, seated at a table, was reading a review.

Daburon walked up to him without drawing his revolver. But when within two paces, his heart failed him; he turned suddenly and fled, leaving his friend astonished at a scene, to him, utterly inexplicable. He tried to cry out, but could not utter a sound; he struck at the air with his hands, reeled for an instant, and then fell all of a heap on the pavement. With much caution they told him, that for six weeks he had wavered between life and death.

He shuddered, and his hair was in a moment soaking with perspiration. 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. Daburon was not, however, a man to give way without a struggle.

In an instant they unrolled themselves before his memory, with the instantaneousness of a dream annihilating time and space. And he, the magistrate, was about to experience the infinite gratification of striking his enemy with the sword of justice. Can a magistrate, without despising himself more than he despises the vile beings he condemns, recollect that a criminal, whose fate is in his hands, has been his enemy? Has an investigating magistrate the right to make use of his exceptional powers in dealing with a prisoner; so long as he harbours the least resentment against him?” M. Daburon repeated to himself what he had so frequently thought during the year, when commencing a fresh investigation: “And I also, I almost stained myself with a vile murder!” And now it was his duty to cause to be arrested, to interrogate, and hand over to the assizes the man he had once resolved to kill. Ought he not to withdraw, and wash his hands of the blood that had been shed, leaving to another the task of avenging him in the name of society? Heaven, who reads all my thoughts, sees that I love Claire enough to desire with all my heart the innocence of her lover.” Only then did M. Daburon’s study, which was large, and handsomely furnished in accordance with his position and fortune.

Taking up a lamp, he first admired six very valuable pictures, which ornamented the walls; he then examined with considerable curiosity some rare bronzes placed about the room, and bestowed on the bookcase the glance of a connoisseur. He had not read a third of the leading article, which, like all leading articles of the time, was exclusively occupied with the Roman question, when, letting the paper drop from his hands, he became absorbed in meditation. do not content themselves with a moral conviction. The accusation must then come before the jury, armed at all points, with abundant proofs. A task often tedious to the investigating magistrate, and bristling with difficulties, is the arrangement and condensation of this evidence, particularly when the accused is a cool hand, certain of having left no traces of his guilt.

It is a terrible struggle, enough to make one tremble at the responsibility of the magistrate, when he remembers, that after all, this man imprisoned, without consolation or advice, may be innocent. 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. Such a monstrous event, in his opinion, could only proceed from the incapacity of those charged with the preliminary inquiry, the clumsiness of the police, or the stupidity of the investigating magistrate. “It is not I,” he muttered, with the satisfied vanity of success, “who would ever let my prey escape. Daburon crossed the room, and seated himself, facing his agent before a small table encumbered with papers and documents relating to the crime. He will declare himself the victim of a misunderstanding, and insist upon an immediate interview with the investigating magistrate. 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.

Public opinion, absurd and idiotic, will not pardon the man guilty of being suspected.” It was with a sinking heart that the old fellow listened to these remarks. He would not be withheld by such paltry considerations. “I have to do with a trembler. 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. If you are satisfied with demanding his appearance, he is saved. He will present you with a magnificent alibi, an alibi that can not be gainsayed. He will show you that he passed the evening and the night of Tuesday with personages of the highest rank. In short, his little machine will be so cleverly constructed, so nicely arranged, all its little wheels will play so well, that there will be nothing left for you but to open the door and usher him out with the most humble apologies.

Fall upon him like a thunder-clap, arrest him as he wakes, drag him hither while yet pale with astonishment, and interrogate him at once.

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. It will not do with me. Moreover, you were foolish to wear such small boots, and to keep on your lavender kid gloves, besides embarrassing yourself with a silk hat and an umbrella. Now confess your guilt, for it is the only thing left you to do, and I will give you permission to smoke in your dungeon some of those excellent trabucos you are so fond of, and which you always smoke with an amber mouthpiece.’” During this speech, M. 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. Sir, I have the honour to inform you, that I am on the track of the man with the earrings.

I have also learned that she was laden with grain. I am in waiting, sir, etc.’” “Poor Gevrol!” cried old Tabaret, bursting with laughter. Noel Gerdy, who had been closeted with him for three hours in the library.

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. Imbued quite as deeply with aristocratic prejudice as the Marchioness d’Arlange, he had progressed with his century or at least appeared to have done so.

She was stupid, and without a shade of common sense. 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. They shook hands and embraced with an air as noble as ceremonious, and, in less than a minute, had exchanged all the news that had transpired during the count’s absence. The count uttered “Ah!” accompanied by a certain movement of the head, which, with him, expressed perfect incredulity; then, turning to his servant, he gave him some orders briefly. To crown his dissatisfaction, he had rested, on his homeward way, at the chateau of an old friend, with whom he had had so violent a discussion that they had parted without shaking hands. “I have quarrelled with the Duke de Sairmeuse,” said he to his son. “That seems to me to happen whenever you meet,” answered Albert, without intending any raillery. 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. A prince dismounted, and without footmen, is no more than any one else. He is slow as the oxen he ploughs with, but as patient, as tenacious, and as obstinate. I have, without effort, doubled my fortune in thirty years.

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. This was a large apartment, with a very high ceiling, as were all the rooms of the ground floor, and was most magnificently furnished. The old nobleman’s ill-humour and volubility returned with the dessert, apparently increased by a Burgundy of which he was particularly fond, and of which he drank freely. 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.

Let all the younger sons and the daughters of our great families forego their rights, by giving up the entire patrimony to the first-born for five generations, contenting themselves each with a couple of thousand francs a year. If they also have as many, you will probably see your grandchildren in poverty!” “You put all at the worst, father.” “Without doubt: it is the only means of pointing out the danger, and averting the evil. The patience with which he had armed himself at last escaped him. “Well, sir,” he answered, “if I resemble one of the people, there are perhaps good reasons for it.” The glance with which the viscount accompanied his speech was so expressive that the count experienced a sudden shock. “Sir,” he replied with some embarrassment, “I have to acquaint you with some important matters. However, as you wish me to explain, I will do so.” The count listened with ill-concealed anxiety. “A truce to preambles; let me have the facts without phrases,” said he sternly. Albert was some time without answering, he hesitated how to commence. “Sir,” said he at length, “during your absence, I have read all your correspondence with Madame Gerdy.

The count, as though stung by a serpent, started up with such violence that he overturned his chair. With one accord, father and son avoided letting their eyes meet, lest they might encounter glances too eloquent to bear at so painful a moment. It is important that we should decide on our future conduct without delay. Could he, without yielding, resist the tearful pleading of those eyes, which had so long held complete sway over him? I will not gratify her with the sight of my grief.” So months and years passed on; and finally he began to say and believe that it was too late.

And for now more than twenty years, he had never passed a day without cursing his inexcusable folly. He had formed and rejected many plans: he had deluded himself, like all men of imagination, with innumerable chimerical projects, and now he found himself quite unprepared. He expressed himself clearly and forcibly, without losing himself in those details which in serious matters needlessly defer the real point at issue. “Sir,” he replied, “on Sunday morning, a young man called here, stating that he had business with me of the utmost importance. 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. I therefore took the letters, and read them.” “And then?” “And then, sir, I returned the correspondence to the young man, and asked for a delay of eight days; not to think over it myself--there was no need of that,--but because I judged an interview with you indispensable. All the letters that I read spoke distinctly of your purpose, detailed your plan minutely; but not one pointed to, or in any way confirmed, the execution of your project.” The count gazed at his son with a look of intense surprise. He recollected distinctly all the letters; and he could remember, that, in writing to Valerie, he had over and over again rejoiced at their success, thanking her for having acted in accordance with his wishes. “You did not go to the end of them, then, viscount,” he said, “you did not read them all?” “Every line, sir, and with an attention that you may well understand. The last letter shown me simply announced to Madame Gerdy the arrival of Claudine Lerouge, the nurse who was charged with accomplishing the substitution.

and why, after having preserved them, has she let them go out of her possession?” Without moving, Albert awaited a word from the count.

And at the thought that Valerie was dead, without his having again seen her, he started painfully. In his present frame of mind, his heart retained only happy memories, like a vase which, once filled with precious perfumes, retains the odour until it is destroyed. Albert watched him with anxious curiosity. Noel Gerdy himself.” “Yes,” said the count in a low tone, “Noel, that is his name, I remember.” And then, with evident hesitation, he added: “Did he speak to you of his--of your mother?” “Scarcely, sir. Before your legitimate son, I ought to give way without a murmur, if not without regret. I am ready to yield to him everything that I have so long kept from him without a suspicion of the truth--his father’s love, his fortune and his name.” At this most praiseworthy reply, the old nobleman could scarcely preserve the calmness he had recommended to his son in the earlier part of the interview. His face grew purple; and he struck the table with his fist more furiously than he had ever done in his life. And yet I learnt how to keep silence, and to hide the sorrow and remorse which have covered my pillow with thorns. No, I will never permit it!” The count read a reply on his son’s lips: he stopped him with a withering glance. I received it from my ancestors without a stain.

To-day the name appears to you laden with a heavy fault, a crime, if you will; and your conscience revolts. Yes,” he added with an effort, “I will call on her, I will speak to her; and I will guarantee that she will not betray us.” “And Claudine,” continued the young man; “will she be silent, too?” “For money, yes; and I will give her whatever she asks.” “And you would trust, father, to a paid silence, as if one could ever be sure of a purchased conscience? I went there, I remember, with you.

He was like all men of imagination, who fall in love with their projects, and who expect them to succeed on all occasions, as if wishing hard was all that was necessary to change their dreams into realities. With money, you see, much money--” “Spare him, sir; he is your son.” “Unfortunately! I will prove to him the bad policy of the earthen pot struggling with the iron kettle; and, if he is not a fool, he will understand.” The count rubbed his hands while speaking. He was delighted with this brilliant plan of negotiation. Do not delude yourself with the idea of an amicable arrangement; the awakening will only be the more painful. I can still hear his voice trembling with resentment, while he spoke to me. If you resist, he will attack you without the slightest consideration. Strong in his rights, he will cling to you with stubborn animosity. Permit me to withdraw with at least the honour of having freely done my duty.

You must have some reason for acting so grandly; some reason which I fail to see.” “None but what I have already told you.” “Therefore it is understood you intend to relinquish everything; you will even abandon your proposed union with Mademoiselle Claire d’Arlange? 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. No one shall insult her in my presence, I will not permit it, sir; and I will suffer it least of all from you.” The count made great efforts to keep his anger within bounds, but Albert’s behavior thoroughly enraged him. “Leave the room,” he cried, in a voice choking with rage, “leave the room instantly! Retire to your apartments, and take care not to leave them without my orders. To-morrow I will let you know my decision.” Albert bowed respectfully, but without lowering his eyes and walked slowly to the door.

I may be angry with you; but I can never lose my esteem for you. For a long time their hands remained clasped, without either being able to utter a word. “Well,” said an old footman who had been in the family thirty years, “the count has had another unhappy scene with his son. You might give your father his walking ticket very properly, because you never expect five sous from him; and you have already learned how to earn your living without doing any work at all. Put him in the centre of Paris, with only his fine hands for capital, and you will see.” “Yes, but he has his mother’s property in Normandy,” replied Joseph. His eldest son, who is a friend of the viscount’s, and who comes here occasionally, is a pit without a bottom, as far as money is concerned. He 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. When he was at play, he was lavish with his money; but he always lost: and, when he was drunk, he had a quick temper, and didn’t spare the blows. In looking about us, we often see men of success and reputation, who are simply dolts, without any merit except their perfect insignificance.

One cannot meet certain persons without saying, “I know that face; I have seen it somewhere, before;” because it has no individuality, but simply resembles faces seen in a common crowd. It is precisely so with the minds of certain other people. He was charged with sins of the most opposite character, with faults so contradictory that they were their own defence.

He was charged with treating with insulting levity the most serious questions, and was then blamed for his affectation of gravity. He had had, like others, his run of follies; but he had soon got disgusted with what it is the fashion to call pleasure. He affirmed that a gentleman was not necessarily an object of ridicule because he would not expose himself in the theatre with these women. Finally, none of his friends could ever inoculate him with a passion for the turf. He purposed, after a while, to take part in public affairs; and, as he had often been struck with the gross ignorance of many men in power, he wished to avoid their example. He busied himself with politics; and this was the cause of all his quarrels with his father. 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. And now, just as he was reaping the happiness of success, Noel had arrived, implacable as fate, with his cursed letters.

After the painful emotions arising from his explanations with the count, he could not sleep. “I can scarcely, even for myself, abandon so much splendour without regret; and thinking of Claire makes it hard indeed. Have I not dreamed of a life of exceptional happiness for her, a result almost impossible to realise without wealth?” Midnight sounded from the neighbouring church of St.

He sat down at his desk, and wrote, “My dearly loved Claire,” but he could go no further; his distracted brain could not furnish him with a single sentence. At last, at break of day, he threw himself on to a sofa, and fell into a heavy sleep peopled with phantoms. A servant entered, with a scared look on his face, and so out of breath from having come up the stairs four at a time, that he could scarcely speak.

They seized a number of articles belonging to the viscount,--documents, manuscripts, and a very voluminous correspondence; but it was with especial delight that M. In the ante-room, hung with all sorts of weapons, a broken foil was found behind a sofa. It is ornamented with the count’s coronet, and the initials A. All one side is smeared with greenish moss, like that which grows on walls. 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. You must not henceforth communicate with a living soul.

Then he thought he heard that the Count de Commarin had been struck down with apoplexy. In this gallery, far from the sight of men, the judicial curriculum is gone through with. They have nothing terrible nor sad in themselves; and yet it is difficult to enter one of them without a shudder. The walls all seem moist with the tears which have been shed there. You shudder, at thinking of the avowals wrested from the criminals, of the confessions broken with sobs murmured there.

The walls are hung with green paper; the curtains are green, and the floors are carpeted in the same color. He had already had an interview with the public prosecutor, and had arranged everything with the police. Besides issuing the warrant against Albert, he had summoned the Count de Commarin, Madame Gerdy, Noel, and some of Albert’s servants, to appear before him with as little delay as possible.

Many a time had he issued warrants of arrest, without possessing even half the proofs which guided him in the present case. He walked up and down the room, counting the minutes, drawing out his watch three times within a quarter of an hour, to compare it with the clock. He could hear the most astonishing things without moving a muscle. He had been busy with some book-keeping, which he did every morning; and his wife had had to send after him. He entered with an easy manner, like an advocate who was well acquainted with the Palais, and who knew its winding ways. The preliminaries common in the examinations of all witnesses ended; the name, surname, age, place of business, and so on having been written down, the magistrate, who had followed his clerk with his eyes while he was writing, turned towards Noel. Gerdy,” he began, “the matters in connection with which you are troubled with appearing before me?” “Yes, sir, the murder of that poor old woman at La Jonchere.” “Precisely,” replied M. She is attacked with a disease which, in the words of my friend, Dr.

He was disconcerted; he hesitated, as if a struggle was going on within him. Daburon interrupted with a gesture. “I am very much obliged to you, sir,” he said with suppressed warmth, “for your considerateness. If any words escape me that seem charged with bitterness, excuse them; they will be involuntary. Comparing my lot with that of so many others, I felt that I had more than common advantages. On reading these letters, I was convinced that I was not what I had hitherto believed myself to be,--that Madame Gerdy was not my mother!” And, without giving M.

It was the same story, with the same circumstances, the same abundance of precise and conclusive details; but the tone in which it was told was entirely changed. With the detective he had rebelled against his unjust lot; but with the magistrate he seemed to bow, full of resignation, before a blind fatality. With genuine eloquence and rare facility of expression, he related his feelings on the day following the discovery,--his grief, his perplexity, his doubts. Then he passed on to his explanation with Madame Gerdy, and he gave the magistrate even fuller details than he had given his old neighbour. She had, he said, at first utterly denied the substitution, but he insinuated that, plied with questions, and overcome by the evidence, she had, in a moment of despair, confessed all, declaring, soon after, that she would retract and deny this confession, being resolved at all hazards that her son should preserve his position. Noel then described his interview with the Viscount de Commarin.

A few inaccuracies occurred in his narrative, but so slight that it would have been difficult to charge him with them. Albert had received the revelation with a certain distrust, it is true, but with a noble firmness at the same time, and, like a brave heart, was ready to bow before the justification of right.

In fact, he drew an almost enthusiastic portrait of this rival, who had not been spoiled by prosperity, who had left him without a look of hatred, towards whom he felt himself drawn, and who after all was his brother. Daburon listened to Noel with the most unremitting attention, without allowing a word, a movement, or a frown, to betray his feelings. It is evident that the crime is of the greatest service to this young man, and that it was committed at a singularly favourable moment.” “Oh sir!” cried Noel, protesting with all his energy, “this insinuation is dreadful.” The magistrate watched the advocate’s face narrowly.

But he was well acquainted with her, having visited her with the count, who supplied her, I have since learned, liberally with money.” “Did not this generosity appear to you very singular?” “No.” “Can you explain why the viscount did not appear disposed to accompany you?” “Certainly. He had just said that he wished, before all, to have an explanation with his father, who was then absent, but who would return in a few days.” The truth, as all the world knows, and delights in proclaiming, has an accent which no one can mistake. Noel continued with the ingenuous candour of an honest heart which suspicion has never touched with its bat’s wing: “The idea of treating at once with my father pleased me exceedingly. With my hands full of proofs, I should still recoil from a public trial.” “Would you not have brought an action?” “Never, sir, not at any price. If things came to the worst, I had determined to leave my title with Albert. But I have nothing to reproach myself with, whatever happens. At this moment, Viscount Albert is doubtless under arrest.” “What!” exclaimed Noel, with a sort of stupor: “I was not, then, mistaken, sir, in the meaning of your words. I have nothing more to say, I believe, except to ask you for the letters in your possession, and which are indispensable to me.” “Within an hour, sir, you shall have them,” replied Noel. He burst like a cannon-shot into the magistrate’s office, knocking up against the methodical clerk in the rudest of ways, without even asking his pardon. 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.

But no; my Gevrol wants to nab the man with the earrings; he is just capable of doing that. When they bring the fellow before you, merely show him the particles of kid taken from behind the nails of the victim, side by side with his torn gloves, and you will overwhelm him. Seldom in my life have I met with a man who so won my sympathy from the first. The nobleman motioned with his hand, and the two servants who had helped him up as far as the door, retired. Daburon quickly, “go with M. Daburon offered him a seat, which he accepted with a sad smile. Fifteen centuries of spotless fame end with me in infamy.” M. de Commarin with an exaltation of which he did not seem capable ten minutes before,--“write my avowal and suppress nothing.

The idea of sharing my love with another was revolting to her.

To my great surprise, she refused it with horror.

Already the maternal instinct was aroused within her; she would not be separated from her child. She yielded; and my valet and Claudine Lerouge were charged with this wicked substitution. I was so intoxicated with the joy of having my Valerie’s child there, near me, that I forgot everything else.

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. One thing alone interfered with my happiness. I cannot express what I suffered at seeing my wife cover with kisses and caresses the child of my mistress. not understanding what was passing within me, imagined that I was doing everything to prevent her son loving her.

She died, sir, with this idea, which poisoned her last days. She died of sorrow; but saint-like, without a complaint, without a murmur, pardon upon her lips and in her heart.” Though greatly pressed for time, M.

Not wishing a scene, and not knowing to what excess my anger might carry me, I rushed out of the place without saying a word. She attempted to force her way into my presence, but in vain; my servants had orders that they dared not ignore.” Could this be the Count de Commarin, celebrated for his haughty coldness, for his reserve so full of disdain, who spoke thus, who opened his whole life without restrictions, without reserve? 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. I cannot describe the furious passions her memory stirred within me. I scorned her and longed for her with equal vehemence.

I only know that justice would not proceed without good cause against a man of Albert’s rank. “Sir,” said the count, without replying directly, “Albert is a hero, if he is not guilty.” “Ah!” said the magistrate quickly, “have you, then, reason to think him innocent?” M. I desire only to render what assistance I can to justice, in accordance with my duty.” “Confound it,” said M.

He began to understand the difficult duty with which he was charged. “Sir,” said he, “the sentiments expressed by the viscount are very fine, without doubt; but did he not mention Widow Lerouge?” “Yes,” replied the count, who appeared suddenly to brighten, as by the remembrance of some unnoticed circumstances,--“yes, certainly.” “He must have shown you that this woman’s testimony rendered a struggle with M. de Commarin could do so without much difficulty. For some little time, a salutary reaction had taken place within him. As his story advanced, alive with clearness and precision, M. How marvellously this scene with his father was brought about, in order to procure doubt in case of discovery?

His discussion with the count was his plank of safety. And, when Noel returned to the charge, he would find himself in presence of the count, who would boldly deny everything, politely refuse to have anything to do with him and would possibly have him driven out of the house, as an impostor and forger.” It was a strange coincidence, but yet easily explained, that M. In fact, why that persistence with respect to Claudine?

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. Then these two, father and son, stood face to face, apparently deep in thought, but in reality examining one another with mutual distrust, each striving to gather something of the other’s thoughts. 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. He handed the pen to the count, who signed without hesitation. 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. He wished to interrogate Albert as soon as possible; and he had still to receive the evidence of several of the count’s servants, and the report of the commissary of police charged with the arrest. The servants who had been waiting their turn a long while were now brought in without delay, and examined separately. From that moment, the whole household perceived that something had gone wrong with him, that he was very much annoyed, or very unwell.

He ate very little,--only some soup, and a very thin fillet of sole with white wine. He then gave Lubin a letter to carry to Mademoiselle Claire d’Arlange, with orders to deliver it only to herself or to Mademoiselle Schmidt, the governess. About one o’clock, he went down to stables, and caressed, with an air of sadness, his favorite mare, Norma. poor old girl!” At three o’clock, a messenger arrived with a letter. 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. He breakfasted with a good appetite; and the butler noticed that he was in excellent spirits. That evening, after his interview with his father, he went to his room looking extremely ill. 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.

The magistrate carefully examined these things, and compared them closely with the scraps of evidence gathered at La Jonchere. He soon appeared, more than ever, satisfied with the course he had taken. He then placed all these material proofs upon his table, and covered them over with three or four large sheets of paper. To the questions put to him he replied, without knowing what he said. The only thing he understood of all that was said around him was that the count had been struck with apoplexy; but even that he soon forgot. He recalled her as she was when he went with his father to La Jonchere. During the formality of entering his name in the jail-book in the dingy, stinking record office, and whilst replying mechanically to everything, he gave himself up with delight to recollections of Claire.

He was a prisoner, and, in accordance with special orders, in solitary confinement. His body, as well as his mind, was weighed down with weariness. He threw himself upon it, and lay down with delight; but he felt cold, so he unfolded the coarse woollen coverlid, and wrapping it about him, was soon sound asleep. It’s the first time I ever saw such a thing.” “It is because, comrade, you have only had dealings with the smaller rogues. All rascals of position--and I have had to do with more than one--are this sort. It is, my boy, as though your brain was being torn with pincers, as though molten lead was being poured into your bones, in place of marrow. On awaking his head seemed clearer than it had been ever since his interview with Noel. And, with a firm step, he followed the gendarmes along the passage which led to the Palais de Justice. I was wrong in not withdrawing.

I faced him with a revolver in my hand: why did I not present it and fire? Albert entered the magistrate’s office with his head erect.

Gerdy,” continued the magistrate, “with any chance of success. Gerdy was in possession of evidence that was certain to win his cause, that of Widow Lerouge.” “I have never doubted that, sir.” “Now,” continued the magistrate, seeking to hide the look which he fastened upon Albert, “justice supposes that, to do away with the only existing proof, you have assassinated Widow Lerouge.” This terrible accusation, terribly emphasised, caused no change in Albert’s features. He preserved the same firm bearing, without bravado.

I am at this moment a close prisoner, without communication with the outer world, reduced consequently to the most absolute helplessness. When I knew of what crime I was accused, I was overwhelmed with consternation. Nothing.” “Have you often gone to see this woman?” “Three or four times with my father.” “One of your coachmen pretends to have driven you there at least ten times.” “The man is mistaken. My resolution explains my conduct.” Albert replied promptly to the magistrate’s questions, without the least embarrassment, and in a confident tone. With so cunning an adversary, he was evidently pursuing a false course. “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. You doubtless had need of some extra excitement for your subsequent plans.” “I had no plans,” replied the prisoner with very evident uneasiness.

I spoke the words, with her letter still in my hands.” “This letter was, then, from a woman?” “Yes.” “What have you done with it?” “I have burnt it.” “This precaution leads one to suppose that you considered the letter compromising.” “Not at all, sir; it treated entirely of private matters.” M. Should he nevertheless ask the question, and again hear pronounced the name of Claire, which always aroused such painful emotions within him? What kind of cigars do you usually smoke?” “Trabucos.” “Do you not use a cigar-holder, to keep your lips from contact with the tobacco?” “Yes, sir,” replied Albert, much surprised at this series of questions. “At what time did you go out?” “About eight o’clock.” “Did you carry an umbrella?” “Yes.” “Where did you go?” “I walked about.” “Alone, without any object, all the evening?” “Yes, sir.” “Now trace out your wanderings for me very carefully.” “Ah, sir, that is very difficult to do! 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.

He raised his hand to his forehead with a despairing gesture.

Who broke it?” “I, sir, in fencing with M. I will place one of your boots upon it and the sole, as you perceive, fits the tracing with the utmost precision. I perceive, too, the mark of a peg, which appears in both.” Albert followed with marked anxiety every movement of the magistrate. Look at this clod of clay, raised with the utmost care; and now look at your umbrella. Compare these pieces of kid with your own gloves. While appearing to occupy himself solely with the objects lying upon his table, M. “It is, then, my duty,” said he, with a shade of irony, “to supply your failure of memory. The prisoner’s assurance, already shaken, fell little by little, just like the outer coating of a wall when riddled with bullets. Albert was, as the magistrate perceived, like a man, who, rolling to the bottom of a precipice, sees every branch and every projecture which might retard his fall fail him, and who feels a new and more painful bruise each time his body comes in contact with them. “I am innocent,” interrupted Albert; “and I repeat it, without the least hope of changing in any way your conviction.

To him, Albert was as surely the murderer as if he had admitted his guilt Even if he should persist in his system of denial to the end of the investigation, it was impossible, that, with the proofs already in the possession of the police, a true bill should not be found against him. Daburon did not experience that intense satisfaction, mixed with vanity, which he ordinarily felt after he had successfully conducted an examination, and had succeeded in getting his prisoner into the same position as Albert. A reflection so simple that he could hardly understand why it had not occurred to him at first, increased his discontent, and made him angry with himself. I ought to have declined to proceed with the investigation. Then, being in no way connected with the trial, I could have reappeared before Claire. As her friend, I could have soothed her, mingled my tears with hers, calmed her regrets. With time, she might have been consoled, and perhaps have forgotten him. I have with my own hands opened an abyss!

He had never so hated Albert,--that wretch, who, stained with a crime, stood in the way of his happiness. 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. “He is evidently guilty,” replied the magistrate, with a harshness very different to his usual manner. It was therefore, with great hesitancy that he offered his further services. Tabaret stood with his mouth wide open, and his eyes staring wildly, and altogether in the most grotesque attitude his astonishment could effect. 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. When he had finished, he arose with pale and distorted features. Daburon, without stopping his preparations for departure, “you are going out of your mind, my dear M.

Given a crime, with all the circumstances and details, I construct, bit by bit, a plan of accusation, which I do not guarantee until it is entire and perfect. You err through an excess of subtlety, you accord too freely to others the wonderful sagacity with which you yourself are endowed. He is overwhelmed because he perceives coincidences so fatal that they appear to condemn him, without a chance of escape. The old detective desperately tore his hair with both hands.

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. “Sit here by my side, sir,” he exclaimed; “are you not my son?” The advocate, without replying, took his seat by the side of the terrible old man, but occupied as little room as possible. He had been very much upset by his interview with M. When the carriage stopped before the steps leading to the principal entrance, and the count got out with Noel’s assistance, there was great commotion among the servants. A young groom appeared with his wooden shoes filled with straw, shuffling about on the marble floor like a mangy dog on a Gobelin tapestry. “So,” said a cook, “that tall dark fellow with the whiskers is the count’s true son!” “You are right,” said one of the footmen who had accompanied M. de Commarin; “as for the other, he is no more his son than Jean here; who, by the way, will be kicked out of doors, if he is caught in this part of the house with his dirty working-shoes on.” “What a romance,” exclaimed Jean, supremely indifferent to the danger which threatened him. “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. So he resolved at last to put an end to it, and come to a final settling with her.” “And the other, who is up there, the dark fellow?” The orator would have gone on, without doubt, giving the most satisfactory explanations of everything, if he had not been interrupted by the entrance of M. “What a villainous fellow is this Albert!” He entirely did away with the “Mr.” and the “Viscount,” and met with general approval for doing so.

Suppose some one went up and tried to find out what is going on.” This proposition did not meet with the least favour. The sharpest ear placed at the keyhole could hear nothing of what was going on within, even when the master was in a passion, and his voice loudest. They examined one another, they almost measured each other, much as two adversaries feel their way with their eyes before encountering with their weapons. Servants, horses, carriages, furniture, such as become a viscount, will be at your service, cost what it may, within forty-eight hours. While all his passions vibrated within him, he appeared to listen with a sad and almost indifferent coldness.

“Permit me, sir,” he said to the count “without overstepping the bounds of the utmost respect, to say a few words. I am certain to be judged with the utmost severity. They will reproach me with occupying the bed still warm from Albert’s body. They will certainly compare me to Albert, and the comparison will be to my disadvantage, since I should appear to triumph at a time when a great disaster has fallen upon our house.” The count listened without showing any signs of disapprobation, struck perhaps by the justice of these reasons. “I beseech you then, sir,” he continued, “to permit me for the present in no way to change my mode of living, By not showing myself, I leave all malicious remarks to waste themselves in air,--I let public opinion the better familiarise itself with the idea of a coming change. I confess, without shame, that I have heretofore professed ideas and opinions that would not be suited to this house; and it is impossible in the space of a day--” “Ah!” interrupted the count in a bantering tone, “you are a liberal. “What, sir!” cried Noel with ardour, “would you abandon him, when he has not a friend left in the world? I will find new accents to imbue the judges with my own conviction. 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. But at least nothing prevents your remaining here from to-day, and taking your meals with me.

The unfortunate woman would neither recognise nor understand you.” “Go then alone,” sighed the count, “go, my son!” The words “my son,” pronounced with a marked emphasis, sounded like a note of victory in Noel’s ears. 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. And yet I feel no sympathy with him; it seems to me that I shall always regret my poor Albert. He is without malice, and is ready to sacrifice himself to repay me for what I have done for him.

With fixed eyes and convulsed features, the sick woman lay extended upon her back. Above her head was placed a little vessel, filled with ice water, which fell drop by drop upon her forehead, covered with large bluish spots. 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. She was a young woman, with a face whiter than her cap. Every time she moved, her long chaplet of beads of coloured box-wood, loaded with crosses and copper medals, shook and trailed along the floor with a noise like a jingling of chains.

Herve was seated on a chair opposite the bed, watching, apparently with close attention, the nun’s preparations. “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. “She is much worse,” he replied: “since morning bad symptoms have succeeded each other with frightful rapidity.” He checked himself.

The advocate had seized his arm and was pressing it with all his might. 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. 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. “Must she die without recovering her reason even for one moment? 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!

I know her well.” “It was you, then, who brought this nun?” “Yes, and without your permission. These good creatures are sometimes charged with strange commissions. In your place, sir, I should send without delay for a priest,--” “What, now, sister? I could cite to you many cases of dying people who have been cured simply by contact with the sacred balm.” The nun spoke in a tone as mournful as her look.

Without doubt, she had learned them when she first entered the convent. If she could speak in the midst of her cruel sufferings--” The advocate was on the point of replying, when the servant announced that a gentleman, who would not give his name, wished to speak with him on business. Noel had disappeared with a displeased look; and almost immediately she heard his voice in the next room, saying: “At last you have come, M. He has never been known to seize a debtor’s goods; he prefers to follow him up without respite for ten years, and tear from him bit by bit what is his due.

Free with his money when one pleases him, he would not lend five francs, even with a mortgage on the Chateau of Ferrieres as guarantee, to whosoever does not meet with his approval. 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. “I do not complain; I only say that you take things too easily with me. “It would be no good doing that,” said the usurer; “mamma’s purse has long been empty; and if the dear creature should die now,--they tell me she is very ill,--I would not give two hundred napoleons for the inheritance.” The advocate turned red with passion, his eyes glittered; but he dissembled, and protested with some spirit. Clergeot possessed the fault of not properly appreciating women, which doubtless arises from the business transactions he has had with them.

He is charming in his business with the fair sex, complimenting and flattering them; but the coarsest insults would be less revolting than his disgusting familiarity. “You have gone too fast,” he continued, without deigning to notice his client’s ill looks; “and I have told you so before. I know that her glance would turn the head of a stone saint; but you should reason with yourself, hang it! 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. Where did you obtain the ten thousand francs that you left with her the other evening? Clergeot, but have done with your advice.

My extravagance, with all due deference to you, will remain a secret as heretofore. I will not relinquish, for your sake, that at which I have been aiming, the very day it is within my grasp.” “He resists,” thought the usurer; “he is less deeply involved than I imagined.” “So,” continued the advocate, “put your bills in the hands of your lawyer. You will know it ere long, in common with all the world.” “I have it!” cried M. You wouldn’t take her without that. 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. Ought he to go and dine with his father?

“Decidedly,” he murmured, “I can’t go.” He sat down at his desk, and with all haste wrote a letter of apology to his father. Madame Gerdy, he said, might die at any moment; he must remain with her. I have arranged all with the servant. It was with him, as with the rest of mankind; who knows how much one’s ideas may change, from the beginning to the end of a repast, be it ever so modest! He was entirely another man, as he rose from the table; and it was with a sprightly step that he walked towards the Rue St. 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? It was, above all others, from his dear Noel, now Viscount de Commarin, that he wished entirely to conceal his connection with the police.

However, as he could not withdraw he resolved to keep close watch upon his language and remain constantly on his guard.

“He has just gone,” replied Noel; “before long all will be over.” The old man advanced on tip-toe, and looked at the dying woman with evident emotion. what, you too?” Old Tabaret put so much warmth and vivacity into this exclamation, that Noel looked at him with astonishment. I have spoken with many persons on this matter which has made so much noise; and everybody is of my opinion. 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. For the time being, he contented himself with strongly approving his young friend. With a look, he drew the old man’s attention to her, and said: “I have seen him; and everything is arranged to my satisfaction. Tabaret was obliged to content himself with this reply and this promise. 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. He had started with a positive fact, the murder.

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. He, therefore, had nothing whatever to do with the matter. 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.

His imagination was so struck with what had just happened that he made unheard of efforts to recall the name pronounced by Albert. It was no longer with him a question of sleep. Beset with these anxieties, he accused himself most severely, and harshly reproached himself for the occupation he had until then so delighted in. All sorts of annoyance, the contempt of the world, without counting the danger of contributing to the conviction of an innocent man. Recalling his few satisfactions of the past, and comparing them with his present anguish, he resolved that he would have no more to do with it. He would break the connection of which he was ashamed, and the police and justice might get on the best they could without him. At last the day, which he had awaited with feverish impatience, dawned.

To pass the time, he dressed himself slowly, with much care, trying to occupy his mind with needless details, and to deceive himself as to the time by looking constantly at the clock, to see if it had not stopped. He received the old amateur detective with his usual kindness, and even joked with him a little about his excitement of the previous evening. He believed it did; and it was without the least deception that he commenced his pleading. He put the case more calmly this time, but with all the energy of a well-digested conviction. He was going, he added, to busy himself with obtaining more information. Who knew what testimony the man with the earrings, who was being pursued by Gevrol, might give? He ended by asking permission to communicate with Albert, He thought his services deserved this slight favour. He desired an interview of only ten minutes without witnesses.

Tabaret; “but I understand it, and submit.” That was his only complaint: and he withdrew almost immediately, fearing that he could no longer master his indignation. He arranged for five of the most experienced detectives in the secret service to be sent to Bougival, supplied with photographs of the prisoner. 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. 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. The criminal who has girt up his energy to sustain the shock of intimidation, finds himself without defence against the wheedling of kindness, the greater in proportion to its lack of sincerity. What confessions he had obtained with a few tears! With Albert, he became kind and friendly, and full of the liveliest compassion.

On this same day, Saturday, Albert was confronted with the corpse of Widow Lerouge. Daburon with a feverish hatred, and urged him on in the path which he had chosen. He must have acted with great promptness; for, no matter where they went, he had been there before them. Daburon became so angry with old Tabaret, that he immediately started for Bougival, firmly resolved to bring the too zealous man back to Paris, and to report his conduct in the proper quarter.

His preparations were nearly made, when his servant announced that a young lady, accompanied by another considerably older, asked to speak with him. He was standing before the fireplace, seeking for an address in a small china plate filled with visiting cards. He contented himself with merely casting a careless glance into the mirror. But he immediately started with a movement of dismay, as if he had seen a ghost. One could see that she was conscious of performing a great duty, and that she performed it, if not with pleasure, at least with that simplicity which in itself is heroism. “We are always friends, are we not?” asked she, with a sad smile.

He scarcely touched it with the tips of his fingers, as though he feared too great an emotion. With a nod, he replied in the affirmative. This idea saddened her, and filled her with self-reproach. “With you,” she continued, “I am not afraid. A formal assurance given by her ought to be amply sufficient; with a word, M. Albert is not innocent?” She half-raised herself with a protesting gesture. He continued, “If I should tell you that he is guilty?” “Oh, sir!” interrupted Claire, “you cannot think so!” “I do think so, mademoiselle,” exclaimed the magistrate in a sad voice, “and I must add that I am morally certain of it.” Claire looked at the investigating magistrate with profound amazement. He did not suppose that this young girl, timid to excess, with a sensitiveness almost a disease, would be able to hear without flinching such a terrible revelation.

well,” interrupted Mademoiselle d’Arlange, in a voice filled with emotion, “I assert, I repeat, that justice is deceived. I am sure of it; and I would proclaim it, even were the whole world to join with you in accusing him. tell me, why?” “Neither the name nor the fortune of the Count de Commarin would descend to him, mademoiselle; and the knowledge of it came upon him with a sudden shock. Young, inexperienced, without a guide, without a mother, alas! Even if he were acquitted, and I wish he may be, but without hope, he will not be less unworthy. Therefore, forget him.” Mademoiselle d’Arlange stopped the magistrate with a look in which flashed the strongest resentment.

All the world deserts him; and your prudence advises me to act with the world. “I may be timid,” she continued with increasing energy, “but I am no coward. I will cling so closely to him that no blow shall touch him without reaching me, too.

If he falls to the bottom of the abyss, I will fall with him. Overcome by the violence of her emotion, she lay back in her chair, and breathed with such difficulty that M. But yet, why should I harass you with all these proofs?

enough, sir, enough!” interrupted Claire, whose eyes beamed once more with happiness. Albert passed the entire evening you speak of with me.” “With you?” stammered the magistrate. “Yes, with me, at my home.” M. He wished no one to see him; he desired to be alone with me.” “Ah!” said the magistrate with a sigh of relief. “Mademoiselle!” “A daughter of my family, sir, may receive her betrothed without danger of anything occurring for which she would have to blush.” She spoke thus, and at the same time was red with shame, grief, and anger. 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? 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.

“Sir,” began Claire, “you know what obstacles have stood in the way of my marriage with Albert. It was necessary, he wrote, that he should have a long conversation with me, alone, and without delay.

I expected, also, that Madame d’Arlange would keep Schmidt with her.” “Excuse me, mademoiselle,” interrupted M. He tried, but without success. The wall is very high, as you know; the top is covered with pieces of broken glass, and the acacia branches stretch out above like a hedge. Fortunately, he is very active, and got over without hurting himself. 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. He enjoined upon the detective to proceed with the utmost caution, and to invent a plausible pretext which would explain his investigations. Albert asked for this interview?” “Yes, sir, I even think I have it with me.” She arose, felt in her pocket, and drew out a much crumpled piece of paper. This compromising letter happened to be very conveniently in Claire’s pocket; and yet young girls do not usually carry about with them requests for secret interviews. Now I can well see that you are with me. This proceeding will be painful to you; but it is a necessary formality.” “Ah, sir, I will do so with pleasure.

He was choking with emotion, the unhappy man! inspire me with accents to touch the hearts of men! I will remind him that he still has a son.” The magistrate rose to see her to the door; but she had already disappeared, taking the kind-hearted Schmidt with her. His eyes filled with tears.

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? The magistrate struggled in the midst of inextricable difficulties, without a plan, without an idea. de Commarin was still more so, when his valet whispered to him that Mademoiselle d’Arlange desired a moment’s conversation with him. She could only have, as he knew, a very slight affection for him, who had for so long repulsed her with such obstinacy. What could she want with him? As soon as he appeared, Claire saluted him with one of those graceful, yet highly dignified bows, which distinguished the Marchioness d’Arlange.

Mademoiselle d’Arlange understood his thoughts; her interview with M. I told him that Albert passed with me, in my grandmother’s garden, all that evening on which the crime was committed. You were abandoning him, without trying to defend him. Without thinking, without discussion, he put faith in Claire’s assertions. He shared her convictions, without asking himself whether it were wise or prudent to do so. de Commarin quickly, “yes, and without losing a minute.” Since Albert’s arrest, the count had been plunged in a dull stupor. Ordinarily very active, he now sat all day long without moving. Suddenly the radiance in his face changed to sadness, mixed with anger. “At what door shall we knock with any hope of success?

Even the emperor himself cannot interfere with the law. 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. de Commarin; “he is now with Albert’s mother, who brought him up, and who is now on her deathbed.” “Albert’s mother!” “Yes, my child. But, if an opportunity occurs, one is only too happy to seize it; then one has an excuse with which to silence one’s conscience. In thus yielding to the impulse of one’s feelings, one can say: “It was not I who willed it, it was fate.” “It will be quicker, perhaps,” observed the count, “to go to Noel.” “Let us start then, sir.” “I hardly know though, my child,” said the old gentleman, hesitating, “whether I may, whether I ought to take you with me. Propriety--” “Ah, sir, propriety has nothing to do with it!” replied Claire impetuously. “With you, and for his sake, I can go anywhere. But the coachman was a skillful driver, and arrived without accident. He was very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to a person as celebrated as the Count de Commarin, and to become acquainted with him.

The doctor and the priest entered with him; Claire and the old soldier remained at the threshold of the door, facing the bed. He taxed his memory severely; nothing in those withered features, nothing in that distorted face, recalled the beautiful, the adored Valerie of his youth. With supernatural strength, she raised herself, exposing her shoulders and emaciated arms; then pushing away the ice from her forehead, and throwing back her still plentiful hair, bathed with water and perspiration, she cried, “Guy! Your friends wished to separate us; they said that I was deceiving you with another. But you did not believe the wicked calumny, you scorned it, for are you not here?” The nun, who had risen on seeing so many persons enter the sick room, opened her eyes with astonishment. It was lovely, with the new paper all covered with flowers, which we hung ourselves.

One day, when taking my work home, I met you in an elegant carriage, with tall footmen, dressed in liveries covered with gold lace, behind. I resigned myself, without an effort, to the most humiliating, the most shameful of positions. I was alone in my own home, in that room so associated with you; and you were marrying another! They listened breathlessly, and waited with feverish emotion for her to resume.

He worked whilst with his regiment; he taught himself, and he quickly rose in rank. What is a mother without her child? Take away this strange child from me; he fills me with horror; I want my own! Ah, do not insist, do not threaten me with anger, do not leave me.

With the help of the old soldier, whose red, tearful eyes, told of suppressed grief, they moved the count’s chair to the half-opened window to give him a little air. With what transports of repentance he would have cast himself at her feet, to implore her pardon, to tell her how much he detested his past conduct! Upon a mere suspicion, without deigning to inquire, without giving her a hearing, he had treated her with the coldest contempt. “I have promised, father,” he replied, “to save him.” For the first time, Mademoiselle d’Arlange was face to face with Noel. “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. Perhaps I shall be able to bring Albert with me.” He spoke, and, again embracing the dead woman, went out. She removed all traces of the illness, put away the medicine bottles, burnt some sugar upon the fire shovel, and, on a table covered with a white cloth at the head of the bed, placed some lighted candles, a crucifix with holy water, and a branch of palm. “I have already some proofs; and before three days--But you are going to see Gevrol’s man with the earrings.

He is very cunning, Gevrol; I misjudged him.” And without listening to another word, he hurried away, jumping down three steps at a times, at the risk of breaking his neck. 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. “Your orders have been executed, sir; the prisoner is without, and here is M. “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. “Have you decided, sir,” asked the investigating magistrate without preamble, “to give me a true account of how you spent last Tuesday evening?” “I have already told you, sir.” “No, sir, you have not; and I regret to say that you lied to me.” Albert, at this apparent insult, turned red, and his eyes flashed. His explanations corresponded exactly with Claire’s; not one detail more. Daburon with a touch of irony. You will be treated with every attention due to a prisoner whose innocence appears probable.” Albert bowed, and thanked him; and was then removed. The chief of detectives was absent: he had been sent for from the Prefecture of Police; but his witness, the man with the earrings, was waiting in the passage.

He had large callous black hands, with big sinewy fingers which must have possessed the strength of a vice. He advanced, balancing himself first on one leg, then on the other, with that irregular walk of the sailor, who, used to the rolling and tossing of the waves, is surprised to find anything immovable beneath his feet. To give himself confidence, he fumbled over his soft felt hat, decorated with little lead medals, like the cap of king Louis XI. of devout memory, and also adorned with some if that worsted twist made by the young country girls, on a primitive frame composed of four or five pins stuck in a hollow cork. I had told her that I would have nothing more to do with her.” “Indeed? Everywhere that they inquired after me with their warrant, people must have said ‘Ah, ha, he has then committed some crime!’ And here I am before a magistrate! Inquire of all who have ever had dealings with me, they will tell you, ‘Lerouge’s word is as good as another man’s writing.’ Yes, she was a wicked woman; and I have often told her that she would come to a bad end.” “You told her that?” “More than a hundred times, sir.” “Why?

it was I who obeyed.” To proceed by short inquiries with a witness, when you have no idea of the information he brings, is but to lose time in attempting to gain it.

John’s day since I fell in love with Claudine. She was a pretty, neat, fascinating girl, with a voice sweeter than honey. 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. It is so delightful during the first six months one passes with a dearly loved wife!

She might have seized and bound me, and carried me to market and sold me, without my noticing it. At the baptism of our son, who was called Jacques after my father, to please her, I squandered all I had economized during my youth, more than three hundred pistoles, with which I had intended purchasing a meadow that lay in the midst of our property.” M. Daburon was boiling over with impatience, but he could do nothing.

She wished to earn a little money, being ashamed of doing nothing while I was killing myself with work. That confounded meadow, to which she alluded, decided me.” “Did she not tell you of the commission with which she was charged?” asked the magistrate. ‘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. I felt so annoyed that, if I had been master, my wife should have come away without the little bastard. One takes too much to drink, for instance, or goes out on the loose with some friends; but that a man with a wife and children should live with another woman and give her what really belongs to his legitimate offspring, I think is bad--very bad. 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. My wife was mad with joy; she kissed me over and over again, and chinked handfuls of gold in my face. 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.

His mistress, this little one’s mother, doesn’t want it at all; she merely pretended to consent, so as not to quarrel with her lover, and because she has got a plan of her own. He longed to interrogate quickly, but he saw that Lerouge told his story with difficulty, laboriously disentangling his recollections; he was guided by a single thread which the least interruption might seriously entangle. That scamp, Germain, with a nurse carrying a child dressed so exactly like the one we had that I was startled. Why is it that women can turn an honest man’s conscience about like a weather-cock with their wheedling?” M. My wife undressed and got into bed with our son and the little bastard. At this uproar, Germain rushed in with a lighted candle. Not knowing what I was doing, I drew from my pocket a long Spanish knife, which I always carried, and seizing the cursed bastard, I thrust the blade through his arm, crying, ‘This way, at least, he can’t be changed without my knowing it; he is marked for life!’” Lerouge could scarcely utter another word. He panted; but the magistrate’s stern glance harassed him, and urged him on, like the whip which flogs the negro slave overcome with fatigue. Germain didn’t dare resist; for I spoke with knife in hand. “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.

All that is said here, and which is not directly connected with the crime, will remain secret; even I will forget it immediately. In our house there was feasting without end. I entered, and found her with a man.

I took him by the neck and pitched him out of the window, without opening it! Protected and counselled by her mother, whom she had taken to live with us, on the pretence of looking after Jacques, she managed to deceive me for more than a year. Occasionally I had doubts which disturbed me; and then without reason, for a simple yes or no, I would beat her until I was tired, and then I would forgive her, like a coward, like a fool. “Rest a while, my friend,” he said; “compose yourself.” “No,” replied the sailor, “I would rather get through with it quickly. 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. She may sully it, cover it with mire, drag it from wine shop to wine shop, and her husband can do nothing. 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.

By constantly telling everyone that I was dead, she had without a doubt ended by believing it herself. Why had he, the magistrate, moved with such deplorable haste?

The scruples which troubled him had filled his mind with phantoms, and had prompted in him the passionate animosity he had displayed at a certain moment. His profession henceforth inspired him with an unconquerable loathing. Then his interview with Claire had re-opened all the old wounds in his heart, and they bled more painfully than ever. Too pious a man to think of suicide, he asked himself with anguish what would become of him when he threw aside his magistrate’s robes. But, without a doubt, the count would make him some compensation; at least, he ought to. Daburon’s messenger had arrived just as the count was alighting from his carriage, on returning with Claire from Madame Gerdy’s.

Abandoned by the investigating magistrate to his own resources, he set to work without losing a minute and without taking a moment’s rest. Lavish with his money, the old fellow had gathered together a dozen detectives on leave or rogues out of work; and at the head of these worthy assistants, seconded by his friend Lecoq, he had gone to Bougival. He had actually searched the country, house by house, with the obstinacy and the patience of a maniac hunting for a needle in a hay-stack.

Tabaret thought he recognized him in a man described to him by the porters at that station as rather young, dark, and with black whiskers, carrying an overcoat and an umbrella. He passed without paying, keeping up his rapid pace, pressing his elbows to his side, husbanding his breath, and the gate-keeper was obliged to run after him for his toll. He seemed greatly annoyed at the circumstance, threw the man a ten sou piece, and hurried on, without waiting for the nine sous change. The appearance of this man corresponded exactly with the description given of him by the porters at Chatou, and by the gatekeeper at the bridge. Gevrol,” he replied, “mock me without pity; you are right, I deserve it all.” “Ah, come now,” said the chief, “have you then performed some new masterpiece, you impetuous old fellow?” Old Tabaret shook his head sadly. Instead of laughing, pray help me, aid me with your advice and your experience. Alone, I can do nothing, while with your assistance----!” Gevrol is vain in the highest degree. Gevrol, I wished to work without you, and I have got myself into a pretty mess.” Cunning old Tabaret kept his countenance as penitent as that of a sacristan caught eating meat on a Friday; but he was inwardly laughing and rejoicing all the while. But before we part I’ll give you a light to find your way with.

Then, after reflecting a moment, he added, “You are joking with me.” “No, upon my word. But suddenly he started, and gave his forehead a hard blow with his fist.

“Noel, then, must have assassinated Widow Lerouge, to prevent her confessing that the substitution had never taken place, and have burnt the letters and papers which proved it!” But he repelled this supposition with horror, as every honest man drives away a detestable thought which by accident enters his mind. The old detective, who knew everybody, was well acquainted with the worthy banker. He had even done business with him once, when collecting books. you old crocodile, you have clients, then, in my house?” “So it seems,” replied Clergeot dryly, for he does not like being treated with such familiarity. Clergeot, with an air of offended dignity. He made the mistake of not fixing a price with her.

And, yet, such was his confidence in Noel that he again struggled with his reason to resist the suspicions which tormented him. Have not many men done just such insane things for women, without ceasing to be honest? I have often said to myself, ‘Perhaps he doesn’t want to disturb me; it is very thoughtful on his part, and he seems to enjoy it so.’” The concierge spoke with his eyes fixed on the gold piece. “She will tell me all,” he thought, and with a bound he was in the street. He made a supreme effort, and with a bound jumped into the vehicle without touching the step.

And he covered his ill-conditioned horse with vigorous blows, muttering, “A jealous husband following his wife; that’s evident. I wonder how such an ugly man can be so jealous.” Old Tabaret tried in every way to occupy his mind with other matters. He did not wish to reflect before seeing the woman, speaking with her, and carefully questioning her. What can these creatures do with the money so lavishly bestowed upon them? For you will tell me, without knowing it. “She lives here,” said old Tabaret, with a sigh of relief. She had taken off her dress, and had hastily thrown about her a loose black dressing-gown, trimmed with cherry-coloured satin. “You wished, sir, to speak with me?” she inquired, bowing gracefully. Consequently he had presented himself with his lesson all prepared, his little trap all set. But do you think that he sat in it with me?

At the second bottle, he was more tipsy than a cork; so much so, that he lost nearly everything he had with him: his overcoat, purse, umbrella, cigar-case--” Old Tabaret couldn’t sit and listen any longer; he jumped to his feet like a raving madman.

Without knowing it I must have spoken against Noel. His hate was without bounds, as formerly had been his confiding affection. Tabaret was seized with a sudden giddiness. A man should always keep his will constantly with him, to be able to destroy it, if necessary.” A few steps further on, he saw a doctor’s plate on a door; he stopped the cab, and rushed into the house. An hour later, armed with the necessary power, and accompanied by a policeman, he proceeded to the lost property office at the St. When with Juliette, he had felt positively sure, and yet, at this last moment, when doubt had become impossible, he was, on beholding the evidence arrayed against Noel, absolutely thunderstruck. “Now to arrest him.” And, without losing an instant, he hastened to the Palais de Justice, where he hoped to find the investigating magistrate.

Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, M. He was conversing with the Count de Commarin, having related to him the facts revealed by Pierre Lerouge whom the count had believed dead many years before. “Sir,” he cried, stuttering with suppressed rage, “we have discovered the real assassin!

We must now occupy ourselves with the other one.” Neither old Tabaret nor M. The Commarins had mingled their blood with all the great families; two of them had even married daughters of royalty. At the same time their minds were filled with thoughts, which would require a volume to transcribe. you not only committed this murder, but you did everything to cause an innocent man to be charged with your crime! “You killed her,” continued the count with increased energy, “if not by poison, at least by your crime. He drew himself up with a look of defiance. de Commarin, without seeming to pay any attention to Noel, approached his writing table, and opened a drawer. Noel with a sign stopped him, and drawing at the same time a revolver from his pocket, he said: “Your fire-arms are needless, sir; my precautions, as you see, are already taken; they will never catch me alive.

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. Supply me with the means of escape; and I promise you that I will sooner die than be captured. I say, supply me with means, for I have not twenty francs in the world. Therefore, I say, give me some money.” “Never!” “Then I will deliver myself up to justice, and you will see what will happen to the name you hold so dear!” The count, mad with rage, rushed to his table for a pistol. “Let us end this,” he said in a tremulous voice, filled with the utmost contempt; “let us end this disgraceful scene. But make up your mind quickly.” On the previous Saturday the count had withdrawn from his bankers the sum he had destined for fitting up the apartments of him whom he thought was his legitimate child. I will find some means of sending for them, without any risk to myself. I curse you!” When, an hour later, the servants entered the count’s room, they found him stretched on the floor with his face against the carpet, and showing scarcely a sign of life. 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.

His insensibility bore a striking resemblance to that felt by persons afflicted with sea-sickness, who care for nothing, whom no sensations are capable of moving, who have neither strength nor courage to think, and who could not be aroused from their lethargy by the presence of any great danger, not even of death itself. He foresaw, with horror, the scaffold, as one sees the depth of the abyss by the lightning flashes.

He began running in the direction of the Latin quarter without purpose, without aim, running for the sake of running, to get away, like Crime, as represented in paintings, fleeing under the lashes of the Furies.

When he still hesitated to commit the crime, he had said to himself; “I may be discovered.” And with that possibility in view, he had perfected a plan which should put him beyond all fear of pursuit. Gradually night had fallen, and, with the darkness, Noel seemed to recover his confidence and boldness. Was he going to leave without her, going away with the certainty of never seeing her again? She will forget me, she will live happily, while I--And I was about to go away without her!” The voice of prudence cried out to him: “Unhappy man! to drag a woman along with you, and a pretty woman too, is but to stupidly attract attention upon you, to render flight impossible, to give yourself up like a fool.” “What of that?” replied passion.

She will come, otherwise--” But how to see Juliette, to speak with her, to persuade her.

Just one month before, ruined, at the end of his expedients and absolutely without resources, he had determined, cost what it might, to procure money, so as to be able to continue to keep Madame Juliette, when chance placed in his hands Count de Commarin’s correspondence. But Madame Gerdy spurned the proposition with horror. The unhappy woman had not been more frank with Madame Gerdy than with others, so that Noel really thought her a widow. If Madame Gerdy spoke, he could always reply: “After stealing my name for your son, you will do everything in the world to enable him to keep it.” But how to do away with Claudine without danger to himself? who will ever know?” Everything had resulted in accordance with his calculations; it was, in his opinion, a matter of patience. Noel knew of his connection with the police, and guessed that the old fellow would make a most valuable confidant. What fatality had resuscitated a secret which he had believed buried with Madame Gerdy? Seeing no one, he paid the fare through the front window, before getting out of the cab, and, crossing the pavement with a bound, he rushed up stairs. “Ah, madame has been expecting you with the greatest impatience!

“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. Come, fly with me. I must fly: will you follow me?” Juliette’s eyes grew wide with astonishment; but she doubted Noel. With a bound, Juliette flew to him, throwing herself upon him, her arms about his neck, and embraced him as she had never embraced him before. It occurred on Tuesday, did it not?” “Yes, Tuesday.” “Ah, then I have told all, without a doubt, to your friend, the old man I supposed you had sent, Tabaret!” “Has Tabaret been here?” “Yes; just a little while ago.” “Come, then,” cried Noel, “quickly; it’s a miracle that he hasn’t been back.” He took her arm, to hurry her away; but she nimbly released herself. “Ah, you are ruining me,” cried Noel, “you are ruining me!” He spoke thus; but his heart was overflowing with joy. She loves me truly,” he said to himself; “for my sake, she renounces her happy life without hesitation; for my sake, she sacrifices all!” Juliette had finished her preparations, and was hastily tying on her bonnet, when the door-bell rang. The young woman and her lover stood as immovable as two statues, with great drops of perspiration on their foreheads, their eyes dilated, and their ears listening intently. “Let me finish!” murmured Noel; “they must not take me alive!” And, with a supreme effort, triumphing over his dreadful agony, he released himself, and roughly pushed Juliette away. Ah, I have had a fine game; but, with three women in the play, I was sure to lose.” The death struggle commenced, and, when the doctor arrived, he could only announce the decease of M.

“The wedding,” said she, “took place on our estate in Normandy, without any flourish of trumpets. 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. /

Franklin came running down the steps.PROLOGUE THE STORMING OF SERINGAPATAM (1799) Extracted from a Family Paper I address these lines--written in India--to my relatives in England. My object is to explain the motive which has induced me to refuse the right hand of friendship to my cousin, John Herncastle. The reserve which I have hitherto maintained in this matter has been misinterpreted by members of my family whose good opinion I cannot consent to forfeit. I request them to suspend their decision until they have read my narrative. And I declare, on my word of honour, that what I am now about to write is, strictly and literally, the truth. The private difference between my cousin and me took its rise in a great public event in which we were both concerned--the storming of Seringapatam, under General Baird, on the 4th of May, 1799. In order that the circumstances may be clearly understood, I must revert for a moment to the period before the assault, and to the stories current in our camp of the treasure in jewels and gold stored up in the Palace of Seringapatam. II One of the wildest of these stories related to a Yellow Diamond--a famous gem in the native annals of India.

The earliest known traditions describe the stone as having been set in the forehead of the four-handed Indian god who typifies the Moon. Partly from its peculiar colour, partly from a superstition which represented it as feeling the influence of the deity whom it adorned, and growing and lessening in lustre with the waxing and waning of the moon, it first gained the name by which it continues to be known in India to this day--the name of THE MOONSTONE.

A similar superstition was once prevalent, as I have heard, in ancient Greece and Rome; not applying, however (as in India), to a diamond devoted to the service of a god, but to a semi-transparent stone of the inferior order of gems, supposed to be affected by the lunar influences--the moon, in this latter case also, giving the name by which the stone is still known to collectors in our own time. The adventures of the Yellow Diamond begin with the eleventh century of the Christian era. At that date, the Mohammedan conqueror, Mahmoud of Ghizni, crossed India; seized on the holy city of Somnauth; and stripped of its treasures the famous temple, which had stood for centuries--the shrine of Hindoo pilgrimage, and the wonder of the Eastern world. Of all the deities worshipped in the temple, the moon-god alone escaped the rapacity of the conquering Mohammedans. Preserved by three Brahmins, the inviolate deity, bearing the Yellow Diamond in its forehead, was removed by night, and was transported to the second of the sacred cities of India--the city of Benares. Here, in a new shrine--in a hall inlaid with precious stones, under a roof supported by pillars of gold--the moon-god was set up and worshipped.

Here, on the night when the shrine was completed, Vishnu the Preserver appeared to the three Brahmins in a dream. The deity breathed the breath of his divinity on the Diamond in the forehead of the god. And the Brahmins knelt and hid their faces in their robes. The deity commanded that the Moonstone should be watched, from that time forth, by three priests in turn, night and day, to the end of the generations of men. And the Brahmins heard, and bowed before his will. The deity predicted certain disaster to the presumptuous mortal who laid hands on the sacred gem, and to all of his house and name who received it after him.

And the Brahmins caused the prophecy to be written over the gates of the shrine in letters of gold. One age followed another--and still, generation after generation, the successors of the three Brahmins watched their priceless Moonstone, night and day. One age followed another until the first years of the eighteenth Christian century saw the reign of Aurungzebe, Emperor of the Moguls. At his command havoc and rapine were let loose once more among the temples of the worship of Brahmah. The shrine of the four-handed god was polluted by the slaughter of sacred animals; the images of the deities were broken in pieces; and the Moonstone was seized by an officer of rank in the army of Aurungzebe.

Powerless to recover their lost treasure by open force, the three guardian priests followed and watched it in disguise. The generations succeeded each other; the warrior who had committed the sacrilege perished miserably; the Moonstone passed (carrying its curse with it) from one lawless Mohammedan hand to another; and still, through all chances and changes, the successors of the three guardian priests kept their watch, waiting the day when the will of Vishnu the Preserver should restore to them their sacred gem.

Time rolled on from the first to the last years of the eighteenth Christian century. The Diamond fell into the possession of Tippoo, Sultan of Seringapatam, who caused it to be placed as an ornament in the handle of a dagger, and who commanded it to be kept among the choicest treasures of his armoury. Even then--in the palace of the Sultan himself--the three guardian priests still kept their watch in secret. There were three officers of Tippoo’s household, strangers to the rest, who had won their master’s confidence by conforming, or appearing to conform, to the Mussulman faith; and to those three men report pointed as the three priests in disguise. III So, as told in our camp, ran the fanciful story of the Moonstone. It made no serious impression on any of us except my cousin--whose love of the marvellous induced him to believe it. On the night before the assault on Seringapatam, he was absurdly angry with me, and with others, for treating the whole thing as a fable.

A foolish wrangle followed; and Herncastle’s unlucky temper got the better of him.

He declared, in his boastful way, that we should see the Diamond on his finger, if the English army took Seringapatam. The sally was saluted by a roar of laughter, and there, as we all thought that night, the thing ended. Let me now take you on to the day of the assault. My cousin and I were separated at the outset.

I never saw him when we forded the river; when we planted the English flag in the first breach; when we crossed the ditch beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the town. It was only at dusk, when the place was ours, and after General Baird himself had found the dead body of Tippoo under a heap of the slain, that Herncastle and I met. We were each attached to a party sent out by the general’s orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed our conquest. The camp-followers committed deplorable excesses; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, by a guarded door, into the treasury of the Palace, and loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court outside the treasury that my cousin and I met, to enforce the laws of discipline on our own soldiers. Herncastle’s fiery temper had been, as I could plainly see, exasperated to a kind of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which we had passed.

He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the duty that had been entrusted to him. There was riot and confusion enough in the treasury, but no violence that I saw.

The men (if I may use such an expression) disgraced themselves good-humouredly. All sorts of rough jests and catchwords were bandied about among them; and the story of the Diamond turned up again unexpectedly, in the form of a mischievous joke. “Who’s got the Moonstone?” was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering, as soon as it was stopped in one place, to break out in another. While I was still vainly trying to establish order, I heard a frightful yelling on the other side of the courtyard, and at once ran towards the cries, in dread of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction. I got to an open door, and saw the bodies of two Indians (by their dress, as I guessed, officers of the palace) lying across the entrance, dead. A third Indian, mortally wounded, was sinking at the feet of a man whose back was towards me. The man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John Herncastle, with a torch in one hand, and a dagger dripping with blood in the other. A stone, set like a pommel, in the end of the dagger’s handle, flashed in the torchlight, as he turned on me, like a gleam of fire. The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle’s hand, and said, in his native language--“The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!” He spoke those words, and fell dead on the floor.

Before I could stir in the matter, the men who had followed me across the courtyard crowded in. My cousin rushed to meet them, like a madman. “Clear the room!” he shouted to me, “and set a guard on the door!” The men fell back as he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. I put two sentinels of my own company, on whom I could rely, to keep the door. Through the remainder of the night, I saw no more of my cousin. Early in the morning, the plunder still going on, General Baird announced publicly by beat of drum, that any thief detected in the fact, be he whom he might, should be hung. The provost-marshal was in attendance, to prove that the General was in earnest; and in the throng that followed the proclamation, Herncastle and I met again. “Tell me first,” I said, “how the Indian in the armoury met his death, and what those last words meant, when he pointed to the dagger in your hand.” “The Indian met his death, as I suppose, by a mortal wound,” said Herncastle. His frenzy of the previous day had all calmed down. I determined to give him another chance.

IV I beg it to be understood that what I write here about my cousin (unless some necessity should arise for making it public) is for the information of the family only. He has been taunted more than once about the Diamond, by those who recollect his angry outbreak before the assault; but, as may easily be imagined, his own remembrance of the circumstances under which I surprised him in the armoury has been enough to keep him silent.

It is reported that he means to exchange into another regiment, avowedly for the purpose of separating himself from ME. Whether this be true or not, I cannot prevail upon myself to become his accuser--and I think with good reason. If I made the matter public, I have no evidence but moral evidence to bring forward. I have not only no proof that he killed the two men at the door; I cannot even declare that he killed the third man inside--for I cannot say that my own eyes saw the deed committed. It is true that I heard the dying Indian’s words; but if those words were pronounced to be the ravings of delirium, how could I contradict the assertion from my own knowledge? Let our relatives, on either side, form their own opinion on what I have written, and decide for themselves whether the aversion I now feel towards this man is well or ill founded. Although I attach no sort of credit to the fantastic Indian legend of the gem, I must acknowledge, before I conclude, that I am influenced by a certain superstition of my own in this matter. I am not only persuaded of Herncastle’s guilt; I am even fanciful enough to believe that he will live to regret it, if he keeps the Diamond; and that others will live to regret taking it from him, if he gives the Diamond away. THE STORY FIRST PERIOD THE LOSS OF THE DIAMOND (1848) The events related by GABRIEL BETTEREDGE, house-steward in the service of JULIA, LADY VERINDER. CHAPTER I In the first part of ROBINSON CRUSOE, at page one hundred and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written: “Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly of our own Strength to go through with it.” Only yesterday, I opened my ROBINSON CRUSOE at that place.

Franklin, “I have been to the lawyer’s about some family matters; and, among other things, we have been talking of the loss of the Indian Diamond, in my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years since. Bruff thinks as I think, that the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing--and the sooner the better.” Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always desirable for the sake of peace and quietness to be on the lawyer’s side, I said I thought so too. “In this matter of the Diamond,” he said, “the characters of innocent people have suffered under suspicion already--as you know. The memories of innocent people may suffer, hereafter, for want of a record of the facts to which those who come after us can appeal. There can be no doubt that this strange family story of ours ought to be told. Bruff and I together have hit on the right way of telling it.” Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt. Franklin proceeded; “and we have certain persons concerned in those events who are capable of relating them.

Starting from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn--as far as our own personal experience extends, and no farther. We must begin by showing how the Diamond first fell into the hands of my uncle Herncastle, when he was serving in India fifty years since. This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the form of an old family paper, which relates the necessary particulars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years ago, and how it came to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterwards.

Nobody knows as much as you do, Betteredge, about what went on in the house at that time. So you must take the pen in hand, and start the story.” In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was with the matter of the Diamond. If you are curious to know what course I took under the circumstances, I beg to inform you that I did what you would probably have done in my place. I modestly declared myself to be quite unequal to the task imposed upon me--and I privately felt, all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own abilities a fair chance. As soon as his back was turned, I went to my writing desk to start the story. There I have sat helpless (in spite of my abilities) ever since; seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as quoted above--namely, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it. Please to remember, I opened the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I rashly undertook the business now in hand; and, allow me to ask--if THAT isn’t prophecy, what is? You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as ROBINSON CRUSOE never was written, and never will be written again.

I have tried that book for years--generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco--and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and ROBINSON CRUSOE put me right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain. Still, this don’t look much like starting the story of the Diamond--does it? Now the Diamond could never have been in our house, where it was lost, if it had not been made a present of to my lady’s daughter; and my lady’s daughter would never have been in existence to have the present, if it had not been for my lady who (with pain and travail) produced her into the world.

If you know anything of the fashionable world, you have heard tell of the three beautiful Miss Herncastles. Miss Adelaide; Miss Caroline; and Miss Julia--this last being the youngest and the best of the three sisters, in my opinion; and I had opportunities of judging, as you shall presently see. I went into the service of the old lord, their father (thank God, we have got nothing to do with him, in this business of the Diamond; he had the longest tongue and the shortest temper of any man, high or low, I ever met with)--I say, I went into the service of the old lord, as page-boy in waiting on the three honourable young ladies, at the age of fifteen years. There I lived till Miss Julia married the late Sir John Verinder. An excellent man, who only wanted somebody to manage him; and, between ourselves, he found somebody to do it; and what is more, he throve on it and grew fat on it, and lived happy and died easy on it, dating from the day when my lady took him to church to be married, to the day when she relieved him of his last breath, and closed his eyes for ever. I have omitted to state that I went with the bride to the bride’s husband’s house and lands down here.

“Sir John,” she says, “I can’t do without Gabriel Betteredge.” “My lady,” says Sir John, “I can’t do without him, either.” That was his way with her--and that was how I went into his service. It was all one to me where I went, so long as my mistress and I were together. Seeing that my lady took an interest in the out-of-door work, and the farms, and such like, I took an interest in them too--with all the more reason that I was a small farmer’s seventh son myself. My lady got me put under the bailiff, and I did my best, and gave satisfaction, and got promotion accordingly. Some years later, on the Monday as it might be, my lady says, “Sir John, your bailiff is a stupid old man. Pension him liberally, and let Gabriel Betteredge have his place.” On the Tuesday as it might be, Sir John says, “My lady, the bailiff is pensioned liberally; and Gabriel Betteredge has got his place.” You hear more than enough of married people living together miserably. Here is an example to the contrary. Let it be a warning to some of you, and an encouragement to others.

In the meantime, I will go on with my story. Well, there I was in clover, you will say. Placed in a position of trust and honour, with a little cottage of my own to live in, with my rounds on the estate to occupy me in the morning, and my accounts in the afternoon, and my pipe and my ROBINSON CRUSOE in the evening--what more could I possibly want to make me happy? Remember what Adam wanted when he was alone in the Garden of Eden; and if you don’t blame it in Adam, don’t blame it in me. The woman I fixed my eye on, was the woman who kept house for me at my cottage. I agree with the late William Cobbett about picking a wife. See that she chews her food well and sets her foot down firmly on the ground when she walks, and you’re all right. Selina Goby was all right in both these respects, which was one reason for marrying her. I had another reason, likewise, entirely of my own discovering.

That was the point of view I looked at it from. Some joke tickled her, I suppose, of the sort that you can’t take unless you are a person of quality. As my time drew nearer, and there got to be talk of my having a new coat for the ceremony, my mind began to misgive me. I have compared notes with other men as to what they felt while they were in my interesting situation; and they have all acknowledged that, about a week before it happened, they privately wished themselves out of it. I went a trifle further than that myself; I actually rose up, as it were, and tried to get out of it. Compensation to the woman when the man gets out of it, is one of the laws of England. In obedience to the laws, and after turning it over carefully in my mind, I offered Selina Goby a feather-bed and fifty shillings to be off the bargain.

You will hardly believe it, but it is nevertheless true--she was fool enough to refuse. I got the new coat as cheap as I could, and I went through all the rest of it as cheap as I could. We were six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. How it was I don’t understand, but we always seemed to be getting, with the best of motives, in one another’s way. When I wanted to go up-stairs, there was my wife coming down; or when my wife wanted to go down, there was I coming up. After five years of misunderstandings on the stairs, it pleased an all-wise Providence to relieve us of each other by taking my wife. I was left with my little girl Penelope, and with no other child.

Shortly afterwards Sir John died, and my lady was left with her little girl, Miss Rachel, and no other child. As for me, I went on with my business as bailiff year after year up to Christmas 1847, when there came a change in my life. She remarked that, reckoning from the year when I started as page-boy in the time of the old lord, I had been more than fifty years in her service, and she put into my hands a beautiful waistcoat of wool that she had worked herself, to keep me warm in the bitter winter weather. I received this magnificent present quite at a loss to find words to thank my mistress with for the honour she had done me. To my great astonishment, it turned out, however, that the waistcoat was not an honour, but a bribe. My lady had discovered that I was getting old before I had discovered it myself, and she had come to my cottage to wheedle me (if I may use such an expression) into giving up my hard out-of-door work as bailiff, and taking my ease for the rest of my days as steward in the house. I made as good a fight of it against the indignity of taking my ease as I could. But my mistress knew the weak side of me; she put it as a favour to herself. The dispute between us ended, after that, in my wiping my eyes, like an old fool, with my new woollen waistcoat, and saying I would think about it.

The perturbation in my mind, in regard to thinking about it, being truly dreadful after my lady had gone away, I applied the remedy which I have never yet found to fail me in cases of doubt and emergency. To-day I was all for continuing to be farm-bailiff; to-morrow, on the authority of ROBINSON CRUSOE, I should be all the other way.

Take myself to-morrow while in to-morrow’s humour, and the thing was done. My mind being relieved in this manner, I went to sleep that night in the character of Lady Verinder’s farm bailiff, and I woke up the next morning in the character of Lady Verinder’s house-steward. She says what I have done so far isn’t in the least what I was wanted to do. I am asked to tell the story of the Diamond and, instead of that, I have been telling the story of my own self. I wonder whether the gentlemen who make a business and a living out of writing books, ever find their own selves getting in the way of their subjects, like me? If they do, I can feel for them. In the meantime, here is another false start, and more waste of good writing-paper. Nothing that I know of, except for you to keep your temper, and for me to begin it all over again for the third time. CHAPTER III The question of how I am to start the story properly I have tried to settle in two ways. Penelope’s notion is that I should set down what happened, regularly day by day, beginning with the day when we got the news that Mr.

Franklin Blake was expected on a visit to the house. The only difficulty is to fetch out the dates, in the first place. In answer to an improvement on this notion, devised by myself, namely, that she should tell the story instead of me, out of her own diary, Penelope observes, with a fierce look and a red face, that her journal is for her own private eye, and that no living creature shall ever know what is in it but herself. When I inquire what this means, Penelope says, “Fiddlesticks!” I say, Sweethearts. Beginning, then, on Penelope’s plan, I beg to mention that I was specially called one Wednesday morning into my lady’s own sitting-room, the date being the twenty-fourth of May, Eighteen hundred and forty-eight. He has been staying with his father in London, and he is coming to us to-morrow to stop till next month, and keep Rachel’s birthday.” If I had had a hat in my hand, nothing but respect would have prevented me from throwing that hat up to the ceiling.

He was, out of all sight (as I remember him), the nicest boy that ever spun a top or broke a window. Miss Rachel, who was present, and to whom I made that remark, observed, in return, that SHE remembered him as the most atrocious tyrant that ever tortured a doll, and the hardest driver of an exhausted little girl in string harness that England could produce. “I burn with indignation, and I ache with fatigue,” was the way Miss Rachel summed it up, “when I think of Franklin Blake.” Hearing what I now tell you, you will naturally ask how it was that Mr. Franklin should have passed all the years, from the time when he was a boy to the time when he was a man, out of his own country. I answer, because his father had the misfortune to be next heir to a Dukedom, and not to be able to prove it.

In two words, this was how the thing happened: My lady’s eldest sister married the celebrated Mr. How many years he went on worrying the tribunals of his country to turn out the Duke in possession, and to put himself in the Duke’s place--how many lawyer’s purses he filled to bursting, and how many otherwise harmless people he set by the ears together disputing whether he was right or wrong--is more by a great deal than I can reckon up. His wife died, and two of his three children died, before the tribunals could make up their minds to show him the door and take no more of his money. When it was all over, and the Duke in possession was left in possession, Mr. Blake discovered that the only way of being even with his country for the manner in which it had treated him, was not to let his country have the honour of educating his son. “How can I trust my native institutions,” was the form in which he put it, “after the way in which my native institutions have behaved to ME?” Add to this, that Mr. Master Franklin was taken from us in England, and was sent to institutions which his father COULD trust, in that superior country, Germany; Mr. Blake himself, you will observe, remaining snug in England, to improve his fellow-countrymen in the Parliament House, and to publish a statement on the subject of the Duke in possession, which has remained an unfinished statement from that day to this. There!

Neither you nor I need trouble our heads any more about Mr. Leave him to the Dukedom; and let you and I stick to the Diamond. The Diamond takes us back to Mr. Franklin, who was the innocent means of bringing that unlucky jewel into the house.

He wrote every now and then; sometimes to my lady, sometimes to Miss Rachel, and sometimes to me.

We had had a transaction together, before he left, which consisted in his borrowing of me a ball of string, a four-bladed knife, and seven-and-sixpence in money--the colour of which last I have not seen, and never expect to see again.

After he had learnt what the institutions of Germany could teach him, he gave the French a turn next, and the Italians a turn after that. They made him among them a sort of universal genius, as well as I could understand it. He wrote a little; he painted a little; he sang and played and composed a little--borrowing, as I suspect, in all these cases, just as he had borrowed from me. His mother’s fortune (seven hundred a year) fell to him when he came of age, and ran through him, as it might be through a sieve. The more money he had, the more he wanted; there was a hole in Mr. Wherever he went, the lively, easy way of him made him welcome. He lived here, there, and everywhere; his address (as he used to put it himself) being “Post Office, Europe--to be left till called for.” Twice over, he made up his mind to come back to England and see us; and twice over (saving your presence), some unmentionable woman stood in the way and stopped him. On Thursday the twenty-fifth of May, we were to see for the first time what our nice boy had grown to be as a man. The Thursday was as fine a summer’s day as ever you saw: and my lady and Miss Rachel (not expecting Mr.

Franklin till dinner-time) drove out to lunch with some friends in the neighbourhood. When they were gone, I went and had a look at the bedroom which had been got ready for our guest, and saw that all was straight. Then, being butler in my lady’s establishment, as well as steward (at my own particular request, mind, and because it vexed me to see anybody but myself in possession of the key of the late Sir John’s cellar)--then, I say, I fetched up some of our famous Latour claret, and set it in the warm summer air to take off the chill before dinner. Concluding to set myself in the warm summer air next--seeing that what is good for old claret is equally good for old age--I took up my beehive chair to go out into the back court, when I was stopped by hearing a sound like the soft beating of a drum, on the terrace in front of my lady’s residence. Going round to the terrace, I found three mahogany-coloured Indians, in white linen frocks and trousers, looking up at the house. The Indians, as I saw on looking closer, had small hand-drums slung in front of them.

Behind them stood a little delicate-looking light-haired English boy carrying a bag. I judged the fellows to be strolling conjurors, and the boy with the bag to be carrying the tools of their trade. One of the three, who spoke English and who exhibited, I must own, the most elegant manners, presently informed me that my judgment was right. He requested permission to show his tricks in the presence of the lady of the house. I am generally all for amusement, and the last person in the world to distrust another person because he happens to be a few shades darker than myself. But the best of us have our weaknesses--and my weakness, when I know a family plate-basket to be out on a pantry-table, is to be instantly reminded of that basket by the sight of a strolling stranger whose manners are superior to my own.

I accordingly informed the Indian that the lady of the house was out; and I warned him and his party off the premises.

He made me a beautiful bow in return; and he and his party went off the premises. On my side, I returned to my beehive chair, and set myself down on the sunny side of the court, and fell (if the truth must be owned), not exactly into a sleep, but into the next best thing to it. I was roused up by my daughter Penelope running out at me as if the house was on fire.

She wanted to have the three Indian jugglers instantly taken up; for this reason, namely, that they knew who was coming from London to visit us, and that they meant some mischief to Mr. It appeared that Penelope had just come from our lodge, where she had been having a gossip with the lodge-keeper’s daughter. The two girls had seen the Indians pass out, after I had warned them off, followed by their little boy. Taking it into their heads that the boy was ill-used by the foreigners--for no reason that I could discover, except that he was pretty and delicate-looking--the two girls had stolen along the inner side of the hedge between us and the road, and had watched the proceedings of the foreigners on the outer side. Those proceedings resulted in the performance of the following extraordinary tricks. They first looked up the road, and down the road, and made sure that they were alone.

Then they all three faced about, and stared hard in the direction of our house. Then they jabbered and disputed in their own language, and looked at each other like men in doubt. Then they all turned to their little English boy, as if they expected HIM to help them. And then the chief Indian, who spoke English, said to the boy, “Hold out your hand.” On hearing those dreadful words, my daughter Penelope said she didn’t know what prevented her heart from flying straight out of her.

All I said, however, was, “You make my flesh creep.” (NOTA BENE: Women like these little compliments.) Well, when the Indian said, “Hold out your hand,” the boy shrunk back, and shook his head, and said he didn’t like it. The Indian, thereupon, asked him (not at all unkindly), whether he would like to be sent back to London, and left where they had found him, sleeping in an empty basket in a market--a hungry, ragged, and forsaken little boy. This, it seems, ended the difficulty. The little chap unwillingly held out his hand. Upon that, the Indian took a bottle from his bosom, and poured out of it some black stuff, like ink, into the palm of the boy’s hand. The Indian--first touching the boy’s head, and making signs over it in the air--then said, “Look.” The boy became quite stiff, and stood like a statue, looking into the ink in the hollow of his hand. I was beginning to feel sleepy again, when Penelope’s next words stirred me up.) The Indians looked up the road and down the road once more--and then the chief Indian said these words to the boy; “See the English gentleman from foreign parts.” The boy said, “I see him.” The Indian said, “Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?” The boy said, “It is on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day.” The Indian put a second question--after waiting a little first. He said: “Has the English gentleman got It about him?” The boy answered--also, after waiting a little first--“Yes.” The Indian put a third and last question: “Will the English gentleman come here, as he has promised to come, at the close of day?” The boy said, “I can’t tell.” The Indian asked why.

The boy said, “I am tired. The mist rises in my head, and puzzles me. I can see no more to-day.” With that the catechism ended. The chief Indian said something in his own language to the other two, pointing to the boy, and pointing towards the town, in which (as we afterwards discovered) they were lodged. He then, after making more signs on the boy’s head, blew on his forehead, and so woke him up with a start. After that, they all went on their way towards the town, and the girls saw them no more. Most things they say have a moral, if you only look for it. What was the moral of this?

The moral was, as I thought: First, that the chief juggler had heard Mr. Franklin’s arrival talked of among the servants out-of-doors, and saw his way to making a little money by it. Second, that he and his men and boy (with a view to making the said money) meant to hang about till they saw my lady drive home, and then to come back, and foretell Mr.

Third, that Penelope had heard them rehearsing their hocus-pocus, like actors rehearsing a play. Fourth, that I should do well to have an eye, that evening, on the plate-basket. Fifth, that Penelope would do well to cool down, and leave me, her father, to doze off again in the sun. That appeared to me to be the sensible view. If you know anything of the ways of young women, you won’t be surprised to hear that Penelope wouldn’t take it. The moral of the thing was serious, according to my daughter. She particularly reminded me of the Indian’s third question, Has the English gentleman got It about him?

“Oh, father!” says Penelope, clasping her hands, “don’t joke about this. “And see whether HE thinks it a laughing matter, too.” With that parting shot, my daughter left me. But as I don’t wish to raise your expectations and then disappoint them, I will take leave to warn you here--before we go any further--that you won’t find the ghost of a joke in our conversation on the subject of the jugglers. Franklin, like Penelope, took the thing seriously. How seriously, you will understand, when I tell you that, in his opinion, “It” meant the Moonstone. But things must be put down in their places, as things actually happened--and you must please to jog on a little while longer with me, in expectation of Mr. Franklin Blake’s arrival later in the day. Before I had time to doze off again, after my daughter Penelope had left me, I was disturbed by a rattling of plates and dishes in the servants’ hall, which meant that dinner was ready. Taking my own meals in my own sitting-room, I had nothing to do with the servants’ dinner, except to wish them a good stomach to it all round, previous to composing myself once more in my chair. I was just stretching my legs, when out bounced another woman on me.

Not my daughter again; only Nancy, the kitchen-maid, this time. I was straight in her way out; and I observed, as she asked me to let her by, that she had a sulky face--a thing which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass me without inquiry. “What’s wrong now, Nancy?” Nancy tried to push by, without answering; upon which I rose up, and took her by the ear.

All the hard work falls on my shoulders in this house. Betteredge!” The person here mentioned as Rosanna was our second housemaid. Having a kind of pity for our second housemaid (why, you shall presently know), and seeing in Nancy’s face, that she would fetch her fellow-servant in with more hard words than might be needful under the circumstances, it struck me that I had nothing particular to do, and that I might as well fetch Rosanna myself; giving her a hint to be punctual in future, which I knew she would take kindly from ME.

“At the sands, of course!” says Nancy, with a toss of her head. “She had another of her fainting fits this morning, and she asked to go out and get a breath of fresh air. When she looks nice, I chuck her under the chin. Well, I took my stick, and set off for the sands.

I am sorry again to detain you; but you really must hear the story of the sands, and the story of Rosanna--for this reason, that the matter of the Diamond touches them both nearly. How hard I try to get on with my statement without stopping by the way, and how badly I succeed! But, there!--Persons and Things do turn up so vexatiously in this life, and will in a manner insist on being noticed. Let us take it easy, and let us take it short; we shall be in the thick of the mystery soon, I promise you! Rosanna (to put the Person before the Thing, which is but common politeness) was the only new servant in our house. About four months before the time I am writing of, my lady had been in London, and had gone over a Reformatory, intended to save forlorn women from drifting back into bad ways, after they had got released from prison. The matron, seeing my lady took an interest in the place, pointed out a girl to her, named Rosanna Spearman, and told her a most miserable story, which I haven’t the heart to repeat here; for I don’t like to be made wretched without any use, and no more do you. The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law. The matron’s opinion of Rosanna was (in spite of what she had done) that the girl was one in a thousand, and that she only wanted a chance to prove herself worthy of any Christian woman’s interest in her. My lady (being a Christian woman, if ever there was one yet) said to the matron, upon that, “Rosanna Spearman shall have her chance, in my service.” In a week afterwards, Rosanna Spearman entered this establishment as our second housemaid.

Not a soul was told the girl’s story, excepting Miss Rachel and me. My lady, doing me the honour to consult me about most things, consulted me about Rosanna. Having fallen a good deal latterly into the late Sir John’s way of always agreeing with my lady, I agreed with her heartily about Rosanna Spearman. None of the servants could cast her past life in her teeth, for none of the servants knew what it had been. She had her wages and her privileges, like the rest of them; and every now and then a friendly word from my lady, in private, to encourage her. In return, she showed herself, I am bound to say, well worthy of the kind treatment bestowed upon her. But, somehow, she failed to make friends among the other women servants, excepting my daughter Penelope, who was always kind to Rosanna, though never intimate with her. I hardly know what the girl did to offend them.

There was certainly no beauty about her to make the others envious; she was the plainest woman in the house, with the additional misfortune of having one shoulder bigger than the other. What the servants chiefly resented, I think, was her silent tongue and her solitary ways. She read or worked in leisure hours when the rest gossiped. She never quarrelled, she never took offence; she only kept a certain distance, obstinately and civilly, between the rest of them and herself. Add to this that, plain as she was, there was just a dash of something that wasn’t like a housemaid, and that WAS like a lady, about her. All I can say is, that the other women pounced on it like lightning the first day she came into the house, and said (which was most unjust) that Rosanna Spearman gave herself airs. Having now told the story of Rosanna, I have only to notice one of the many queer ways of this strange girl to get on next to the story of the sands. Our house is high up on the Yorkshire coast, and close by the sea. It leads, for a quarter of a mile, through a melancholy plantation of firs, and brings you out between low cliffs on the loneliest and ugliest little bay on all our coast. The sand-hills here run down to the sea, and end in two spits of rock jutting out opposite each other, till you lose sight of them in the water.

One is called the North Spit, and one the South. Between the two, shifting backwards and forwards at certain seasons of the year, lies the most horrible quicksand on the shores of Yorkshire. At the turn of the tide, something goes on in the unknown deeps below, which sets the whole face of the quicksand shivering and trembling in a manner most remarkable to see, and which has given to it, among the people in our parts, the name of the Shivering Sand. A great bank, half a mile out, nigh the mouth of the bay, breaks the force of the main ocean coming in from the offing. Winter and summer, when the tide flows over the quicksand, the sea seems to leave the waves behind it on the bank, and rolls its waters in smoothly with a heave, and covers the sand in silence. The very birds of the air, as it seems to me, give the Shivering Sand a wide berth. It’s true, nevertheless, account for it as you may, that this was Rosanna Spearman’s favourite walk, except when she went once or twice to Cobb’s Hole, to see the only friend she had in our neighbourhood, of whom more anon. It’s also true that I was now setting out for this same place, to fetch the girl in to dinner, which brings us round happily to our former point, and starts us fair again on our way to the sands.

I saw no sign of the girl in the plantation. When I got out, through the sand-hills, on to the beach, there she was, in her little straw bonnet, and her plain grey cloak that she always wore to hide her deformed shoulder as much as might be--there she was, all alone, looking out on the quicksand and the sea. Not looking me in the face being another of the proceedings, which, as head of the servants, I never allow, on principle, to pass without inquiry--I turned her round my way, and saw that she was crying. I took it out, and I said to Rosanna, “Come and sit down, my dear, on the slope of the beach along with me. I’ll dry your eyes for you first, and then I’ll make so bold as to ask what you have been crying about.” When you come to my age, you will find sitting down on the slope of a beach a much longer job than you think it now. By the time I was settled, Rosanna had dried her own eyes with a very inferior handkerchief to mine--cheap cambric. When you want to comfort a woman by the shortest way, take her on your knee.

But there! Rosanna wasn’t Nancy, and that’s the truth of it! “Now, tell me, my dear,” I said, “what are you crying about?” “About the years that are gone, Mr. Why can’t you forget it?” She took me by one of the lappets of my coat. I am a slovenly old man, and a good deal of my meat and drink gets splashed about on my clothes. Sometimes one of the women, and sometimes another, cleans me of my grease.

The day before, Rosanna had taken out a spot for me on the lappet of my coat, with a new composition, warranted to remove anything. The grease was gone, but there was a little dull place left on the nap of the cloth where the grease had been. The girl pointed to that place, and shook her head. “The stain is taken off,” she said.

“But the place shows, Mr. Betteredge--the place shows!” A remark which takes a man unawares by means of his own coat is not an easy remark to answer. Something in the girl herself, too, made me particularly sorry for her just then. She had nice brown eyes, plain as she was in other ways--and she looked at me with a sort of respect for my happy old age and my good character, as things for ever out of her own reach, which made my heart heavy for our second housemaid. Not feeling myself able to comfort her, there was only one other thing to do.

“They told Nancy to fetch you,” I said. “But thought you might like your scolding better, my dear, if it came from me.” Instead of helping me up, the poor thing stole her hand into mine, and gave it a little squeeze. “What is it that brings you everlastingly to this miserable place?” “Something draws me to it,” says the girl, making images with her finger in the sand. Betteredge, I think that my grave is waiting for me here.” “There’s roast mutton and suet-pudding waiting for you!” says I. “I think the place has laid a spell on me,” she said. But I wonder sometimes whether the life here is too quiet and too good for such a woman as I am, after all I have gone through, Mr. It’s more lonely to me to be among the other servants, knowing I am not what they are, than it is to be here. My lady doesn’t know, the matron at the reformatory doesn’t know, what a dreadful reproach honest people are in themselves to a woman like me.

Don’t scold me, there’s a dear good man. My mind’s unquiet, sometimes, that’s all.” She snatched her hand off my shoulder, and suddenly pointed down to the quicksand. The tide was on the turn, and the horrid sand began to shiver. The broad brown face of it heaved slowly, and then dimpled and quivered all over.

“Do you know what it looks like to ME?” says Rosanna, catching me by the shoulder again.

“It looks as if it had hundreds of suffocating people under it--all struggling to get to the surface, and all sinking lower and lower in the dreadful deeps! Throw a stone in, and let’s see the sand suck it down!” Here was unwholesome talk! My answer--a pretty sharp one, in the poor girl’s own interests, I promise you!--was at my tongue’s end, when it was snapped short off on a sudden by a voice among the sand-hills shouting for me by my name.

“Betteredge!” cries the voice, “where are you?” “Here!” I shouted out in return, without a notion in my mind of who it was. Rosanna started to her feet, and stood looking towards the voice.

I was just thinking of getting on my own legs next, when I was staggered by a sudden change in the girl’s face. I twisted round on the sand and looked behind me. There, coming out on us from among the hills, was a bright-eyed young gentleman, dressed in a beautiful fawn-coloured suit, with gloves and hat to match, with a rose in his button-hole, and a smile on his face that might have set the Shivering Sand itself smiling at him in return. Before I could get on my legs, he plumped down on the sand by the side of me, put his arm round my neck, foreign fashion, and gave me a hug that fairly squeezed the breath out of my body. Following his lead, I looked at the girl too.

Franklin’s eye; and she turned and left us suddenly, in a confusion quite unaccountable to my mind, without either making her curtsey to the gentleman or saying a word to me. “I wonder what she sees in me to surprise her?” “I suppose, sir,” I answered, drolling on our young gentleman’s Continental education, “it’s the varnish from foreign parts.” I set down here Mr. Franklin’s careless question, and my foolish answer, as a consolation and encouragement to all stupid people--it being, as I have remarked, a great satisfaction to our inferior fellow-creatures to find that their betters are, on occasions, no brighter than they are.

Neither Mr. Franklin, with his wonderful foreign training, nor I, with my age, experience, and natural mother-wit, had the ghost of an idea of what Rosanna Spearman’s unaccountable behaviour really meant. She was out of our thoughts, poor soul, before we had seen the last flutter of her little grey cloak among the sand-hills.

Read on, good friend, as patiently as you can, and perhaps you will be as sorry for Rosanna Spearman as I was, when I found out the truth. CHAPTER V The first thing I did, after we were left together alone, was to make a third attempt to get up from my seat on the sand. “There is one advantage about this horrid place,” he said; “we have got it all to ourselves.

Stay where you are, Betteredge; I have something to say to you.” While he was speaking, I was looking at him, and trying to see something of the boy I remembered, in the man before me. The man put me out. His complexion had got pale: his face, at the lower part was covered, to my great surprise and disappointment, with a curly brown beard and mustachios. He had a lively touch-and-go way with him, very pleasant and engaging, I admit; but nothing to compare with his free-and-easy manners of other times. He was neat, and slim, and well made; but he wasn’t by an inch or two up to the middle height. In short, he baffled me altogether. The years that had passed had left nothing of his old self, except the bright, straightforward look in his eyes. There I found our nice boy again, and there I concluded to stop in my investigation. “Welcome back to the old place, Mr.

“All the more welcome, sir, that you have come some hours before we expected you.” “I have a reason for coming before you expected me,” answered Mr. “I suspect, Betteredge, that I have been followed and watched in London, for the last three or four days; and I have travelled by the morning instead of the afternoon train, because I wanted to give a certain dark-looking stranger the slip.” Those words did more than surprise me. They brought back to my mind, in a flash, the three jugglers, and Penelope’s notion that they meant some mischief to Mr. “Tell me about the three Indians you have had at the house to-day,” says Mr. “It’s just possible, Betteredge, that my stranger and your three jugglers may turn out to be pieces of the same puzzle.” “How do you come to know about the jugglers, sir?” I asked, putting one question on the top of another, which was bad manners, I own. “I saw Penelope at the house,” says Mr. Did the late Mrs. Betteredge possess those inestimable advantages?” “The late Mrs.

“One of them (if you will pardon my mentioning it) was never keeping to the matter in hand. “I never settle on anything either. Your daughter said as much, when I asked for particulars about the jugglers. ‘Father will tell you, sir.

Not even my respect for you prevented me from--never mind; I knew her when she was a child, and she’s none the worse for it. What did the jugglers do?” I was something dissatisfied with my daughter--not for letting Mr.

However, there was no help for it now but to mention the circumstances. When I had done, he repeated after me two of the questions which the chief juggler had put to the boy--seemingly for the purpose of fixing them well in his mind. “‘Is it on the road to this house, and on no other, that the English gentleman will travel to-day?’ ‘Has the English gentleman got It about him?’ I suspect,” says Mr. And ‘this,’ Betteredge, means my uncle Herncastle’s famous Diamond.” “Good Lord, sir!” I broke out, “how do you come to be in charge of the wicked Colonel’s Diamond?” “The wicked Colonel’s will has left his Diamond as a birthday present to my cousin Rachel,” says Mr.

“And my father, as the wicked Colonel’s executor, has given it in charge to me to bring down here.” If the sea, then oozing in smoothly over the Shivering Sand, had been changed into dry land before my own eyes, I doubt if I could have been more surprised than I was when Mr. “The Colonel’s Diamond left to Miss Rachel!” says I. “And your father, sir, the Colonel’s executor! Franklin, that your father wouldn’t have touched the Colonel with a pair of tongs!” “Strong language, Betteredge! What was there against the Colonel. Tell me what you know about him, and I’ll tell you how my father came to be his executor, and more besides. I have made some discoveries in London about my uncle Herncastle and his Diamond, which have rather an ugly look to my eyes; and I want you to confirm them.

You called him the ‘wicked Colonel’ just now. Here follows the substance of what I said, written out entirely for your benefit. Pay attention to it, or you will be all abroad, when we get deeper into the story. Clear your mind of the children, or the dinner, or the new bonnet, or what not. Try if you can’t forget politics, horses, prices in the City, and grievances at the club. I hope you won’t take this freedom on my part amiss; it’s only a way I have of appealing to the gentle reader. haven’t I seen you with the greatest authors in your hands, and don’t I know how ready your attention is to wander when it’s a book that asks for it, instead of a person? I spoke, a little way back, of my lady’s father, the old lord with the short temper and the long tongue. Two sons to begin with; then, after a long time, his wife broke out breeding again, and the three young ladies came briskly one after the other, as fast as the nature of things would permit; my mistress, as before mentioned, being the youngest and best of the three.

Of the two sons, the eldest, Arthur, inherited the title and estates. The second, the Honourable John, got a fine fortune left him by a relative, and went into the army.

It’s an ill bird, they say, that fouls its own nest. I look on the noble family of the Herncastles as being my nest; and I shall take it as a favour if I am not expected to enter into particulars on the subject of the Honourable John. He was, I honestly believe, one of the greatest blackguards that ever lived. He went into the army, beginning in the Guards. He had to leave the Guards before he was two-and-twenty--never mind why. They are very strict in the army, and they were too strict for the Honourable John. He went out to India to see whether they were equally strict there, and to try a little active service. In the matter of bravery (to give him his due), he was a mixture of bull-dog and game-cock, with a dash of the savage. He was at the taking of Seringapatam. Soon afterwards he changed into another regiment, and, in course of time, changed into a third.

In the third he got his last step as lieutenant-colonel, and, getting that, got also a sunstroke, and came home to England. He came back with a character that closed the doors of all his family against him, my lady (then just married) taking the lead, and declaring (with Sir John’s approval, of course) that her brother should never enter any house of hers. There was more than one slur on the Colonel that made people shy of him; but the blot of the Diamond is all I need mention here. Some said he was afraid of its getting him into a difficulty with the military authorities; others (very ignorant indeed of the real nature of the man) said he was afraid, if he showed it, of its costing him his life. There was perhaps a grain of truth mixed up with this last report. It was false to say that he was afraid; but it was a fact that his life had been twice threatened in India; and it was firmly believed that the Moonstone was at the bottom of it.

When he came back to England, and found himself avoided by everybody, the Moonstone was thought to be at the bottom of it again.

The mystery of the Colonel’s life got in the Colonel’s way, and outlawed him, as you may say, among his own people. The men wouldn’t let him into their clubs; the women--more than one--whom he wanted to marry, refused him; friends and relations got too near-sighted to see him in the street.

Some men in this mess would have tried to set themselves right with the world. But to give in, even when he was wrong, and had all society against him, was not the way of the Honourable John. He had kept the Diamond, in flat defiance of assassination, in India. He kept the Diamond, in flat defiance of public opinion, in England. There you have the portrait of the man before you, as in a picture: a character that braved everything; and a face, handsome as it was, that looked possessed by the devil. Sometimes they said he was given up to smoking opium and collecting old books; sometimes he was reported to be trying strange things in chemistry; sometimes he was seen carousing and amusing himself among the lowest people in the lowest slums of London. Anyhow, a solitary, vicious, underground life was the life the Colonel led. About two years before the time of which I am now writing, and about a year and a half before the time of his death, the Colonel came unexpectedly to my lady’s house in London. It was the night of Miss Rachel’s birthday, the twenty-first of June; and there was a party in honour of it, as usual.

I received a message from the footman to say that a gentleman wanted to see me. Going up into the hall, there I found the Colonel, wasted, and worn, and old, and shabby, and as wild and as wicked as ever. “Go up to my sister,” says he; “and say that I have called to wish my niece many happy returns of the day.” He had made attempts by letter, more than once already, to be reconciled with my lady, for no other purpose, I am firmly persuaded, than to annoy her. But this was the first time he had actually come to the house.

I had it on the tip of my tongue to say that my mistress had a party that night.

But the devilish look of him daunted me. I went up-stairs with his message, and left him, by his own desire, waiting in the hall. The servants stood staring at him, at a distance, as if he was a walking engine of destruction, loaded with powder and shot, and likely to go off among them at a moment’s notice. My lady had a dash--no more--of the family temper. “Tell Colonel Herncastle,” she said, when I gave her her brother’s message, “that Miss Verinder is engaged, and that I decline to see him.” I tried to plead for a civiller answer than that; knowing the Colonel’s constitutional superiority to the restraints which govern gentlemen in general. The family temper flashed out at me directly.

I don’t ask for it now.” I went downstairs with the message, of which I took the liberty of presenting a new and amended edition of my own contriving, as follows: “My lady and Miss Rachel regret that they are engaged, Colonel; and beg to be excused having the honour of seeing you.” I expected him to break out, even at that polite way of putting it. To my surprise he did nothing of the sort; he alarmed me by taking the thing with an unnatural quiet. His eyes, of a glittering bright grey, just settled on me for a moment; and he laughed, not out of himself, like other people, but INTO himself, in a soft, chuckling, horridly mischievous way.

“I shall remember my niece’s birthday.” With that, he turned on his heel, and walked out of the house. The next birthday came round, and we heard he was ill in bed. Six months afterwards--that is to say, six months before the time I am now writing of--there came a letter from a highly respectable clergyman to my lady. It communicated two wonderful things in the way of family news. First, that the Colonel had forgiven his sister on his death-bed. I have myself (in spite of the bishops and the clergy) an unfeigned respect for the Church; but I am firmly persuaded, at the same time, that the devil remained in undisturbed possession of the Honourable John, and that the last abominable act in the life of that abominable man was (saving your presence) to take the clergyman in! This was the sum-total of what I had to tell Mr. I remarked that he listened more and more eagerly the longer I went on.

Also, that the story of the Colonel being sent away from his sister’s door, on the occasion of his niece’s birthday, seemed to strike Mr. Franklin like a shot that had hit the mark. Before, however, I tell you what discoveries I have made in London, and how I came to be mixed up in this matter of the Diamond, I want to know one thing.

You look, my old friend, as if you didn’t quite understand the object to be answered by this consultation of ours. “My looks, on this occasion at any rate, tell the truth.” “In that case,” says Mr. Franklin, “suppose I put you up to my point of view, before we go any further. I see three very serious questions involved in the Colonel’s birthday-gift to my cousin Rachel. “Question the first: Was the Colonel’s Diamond the object of a conspiracy in India? Question the second: Has the conspiracy followed the Colonel’s Diamond to England? Question the third: Did the Colonel know the conspiracy followed the Diamond; and has he purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister, through the innocent medium of his sister’s child? If he was right, here was our quiet English house suddenly invaded by a devilish Indian Diamond--bringing after it a conspiracy of living rogues, set loose on us by the vengeance of a dead man. There was our situation as revealed to me in Mr.

Who ever heard the like of it--in the nineteenth century, mind; in an age of progress, and in a country which rejoices in the blessings of the British constitution? Nobody ever heard the like of it, and, consequently, nobody can be expected to believe it.

When you get a sudden alarm, of the sort that I had got now, nine times out of ten the place you feel it in is your stomach. I fidgeted silently in my place on the sand. Franklin noticed me, contending with a perturbed stomach or mind--which you please; they mean the same thing--and, checking himself just as he was starting with his part of the story, said to me sharply, “What do you want?” What did I want? Our young gentleman’s first words informed me that his discoveries, concerning the wicked Colonel and the Diamond, had begun with a visit which he had paid (before he came to us) to the family lawyer, at Hampstead. Franklin, when the two were alone, one day, after dinner, revealed that he had been charged by his father with a birthday present to be taken to Miss Rachel. One thing led to another; and it ended in the lawyer mentioning what the present really was, and how the friendly connexion between the late Colonel and Mr. The facts here are really so extraordinary, that I doubt if I can trust my own language to do justice to them. “You remember the time, Betteredge,” he said, “when my father was trying to prove his title to that unlucky Dukedom?

that was also the time when my uncle Herncastle returned from India. My father discovered that his brother-in-law was in possession of certain papers which were likely to be of service to him in his lawsuit. He called on the Colonel, on pretence of welcoming him back to England. The Colonel was not to be deluded in that way. ‘You want something,’ he said, ‘or you would never have compromised your reputation by calling on ME.’ My father saw that the one chance for him was to show his hand; he admitted, at once, that he wanted the papers. The Colonel asked for a day to consider his answer. His answer came in the shape of a most extraordinary letter, which my friend the lawyer showed me.

The Colonel began by saying that he wanted something of my father, and that he begged to propose an exchange of friendly services between them. The fortune of war (that was the expression he used) had placed him in possession of one of the largest Diamonds in the world; and he had reason to believe that neither he nor his precious jewel was safe in any house, in any quarter of the globe, which they occupied together. Under these alarming circumstances, he had determined to place his Diamond in the keeping of another person. He might deposit the precious stone in any place especially guarded and set apart--like a banker’s or jeweller’s strong-room--for the safe custody of valuables of high price. His main personal responsibility in the matter was to be of the passive kind.

He was to undertake either by himself, or by a trustworthy representative--to receive at a prearranged address, on certain prearranged days in every year, a note from the Colonel, simply stating the fact that he was a living man at that date. In the event of the date passing over without the note being received, the Colonel’s silence might be taken as a sure token of the Colonel’s death by murder. In that case, and in no other, certain sealed instructions relating to the disposal of the Diamond, and deposited with it, were to be opened, and followed implicitly. If my father chose to accept this strange charge, the Colonel’s papers were at his disposal in return. That was the letter.” “What did your father do, sir?” I asked. He brought the invaluable faculty, called common sense, to bear on the Colonel’s letter. The whole thing, he declared, was simply absurd. Somewhere in his Indian wanderings, the Colonel had picked up with some wretched crystal which he took for a diamond.

As for the danger of his being murdered, and the precautions devised to preserve his life and his piece of crystal, this was the nineteenth century, and any man in his senses had only to apply to the police. The Colonel had been a notorious opium-eater for years past; and, if the only way of getting at the valuable papers he possessed was by accepting a matter of opium as a matter of fact, my father was quite willing to take the ridiculous responsibility imposed on him--all the more readily that it involved no trouble to himself. The Diamond and the sealed instructions went into his banker’s strong-room, and the Colonel’s letters, periodically reporting him a living man, were received and opened by our family lawyer, Mr. Bruff, as my father’s representative. No sensible person, in a similar position, could have viewed the matter in any other way. Franklin thought his father’s notion about the Colonel hasty and wrong. “What is your own private opinion about the matter, sir?” I asked. “Let’s finish the story of the Colonel first,” says Mr. “There is a curious want of system, Betteredge, in the English mind; and your question, my old friend, is an instance of it.

When we are not occupied in making machinery, we are (mentally speaking) the most slovenly people in the universe.” “So much,” I thought to myself, “for a foreign education! Franklin took up the lost thread, and went on. “My father,” he said, “got the papers he wanted, and never saw his brother-in-law again from that time. Year after year, on the prearranged days, the prearranged letter came from the Colonel, and was opened by Mr. I have seen the letters, in a heap, all of them written in the same brief, business-like form of words: ‘Sir,--This is to certify that I am still a living man. Let the Diamond be. John Herncastle.’ That was all he ever wrote, and that came regularly to the day; until some six or eight months since, when the form of the letter varied for the first time.

It ran now: ‘Sir,--They tell me I am dying. Bruff went, and found him, in the little suburban villa, surrounded by its own grounds, in which he had lived alone, ever since he had left India.

He had dogs, cats, and birds to keep him company; but no human being near him, except the person who came daily to do the house-work, and the doctor at the bedside.

The will was a very simple matter. The Colonel had dissipated the greater part of his fortune in his chemical investigations. The first clause provided for the safe keeping and support of his animals. The second founded a professorship of experimental chemistry at a northern university. The third bequeathed the Moonstone as a birthday present to his niece, on condition that my father would act as executor. My father at first refused to act. On second thoughts, however, he gave way, partly because he was assured that the executorship would involve him in no trouble; partly because Mr. Bruff suggested, in Rachel’s interest, that the Diamond might be worth something, after all.” “Did the Colonel give any reason, sir,” I inquired, “why he left the Diamond to Miss Rachel?” “He not only gave the reason--he had the reason written in his will,” said Mr. You have heard about the Colonel’s Will; now you must hear what happened after the Colonel’s death. It was formally necessary to have the Diamond valued, before the Will could be proved.

All the jewellers consulted, at once confirmed the Colonel’s assertion that he possessed one of the largest diamonds in the world. The question of accurately valuing it presented some serious difficulties. Its size made it a phenomenon in the diamond market; its colour placed it in a category by itself; and, to add to these elements of uncertainty, there was a defect, in the shape of a flaw, in the very heart of the stone. Even with this last serious draw-back, however, the lowest of the various estimates given was twenty thousand pounds. Conceive my father’s astonishment!

He had been within a hair’s-breadth of refusing to act as executor, and of allowing this magnificent jewel to be lost to the family. The interest he took in the matter now, induced him to open the sealed instructions which had been deposited with the Diamond. Bruff showed this document to me, with the other papers; and it suggests (to my mind) a clue to the nature of the conspiracy which threatened the Colonel’s life.” “Then you do believe, sir,” I said, “that there was a conspiracy?” “Not possessing my father’s excellent common sense,” answered Mr. Franklin, “I believe the Colonel’s life was threatened, exactly as the Colonel said. The sealed instructions, as I think, explain how it was that he died, after all, quietly in his bed. In the event of his death by violence (that is to say, in the absence of the regular letter from him at the appointed date), my father was then directed to send the Moonstone secretly to Amsterdam. The stones were then to be sold for what they would fetch, and the proceeds were to be applied to the founding of that professorship of experimental chemistry, which the Colonel has since endowed by his Will. Now, Betteredge, exert those sharp wits of yours, and observe the conclusion to which the Colonel’s instructions point!” I instantly exerted my wits. They were of the slovenly English sort; and they consequently muddled it all, until Mr. Franklin took them in hand, and pointed out what they ought to see.

Franklin, “that the integrity of the Diamond, as a whole stone, is here artfully made dependent on the preservation from violence of the Colonel’s life. He is not satisfied with saying to the enemies he dreads, ‘Kill me--and you will be no nearer to the Diamond than you are now; it is where you can’t get at it--in the guarded strong-room of a bank.’ He says instead, ‘Kill me--and the Diamond will be the Diamond no longer; its identity will be destroyed.’ What does that mean?” Here I had (as I thought) a flash of the wonderful foreign brightness. “It means lowering the value of the stone, and cheating the rogues in that way!” “Nothing of the sort,” says Mr. The flawed Diamond, cut up, would actually fetch more than the Diamond as it now is; for this plain reason--that from four to six perfect brilliants might be cut from it, which would be, collectively, worth more money than the large--but imperfect single stone. If robbery for the purpose of gain was at the bottom of the conspiracy, the Colonel’s instructions absolutely made the Diamond better worth stealing. More money could have been got for it, and the disposal of it in the diamond market would have been infinitely easier, if it had passed through the hands of the workmen of Amsterdam.” “Lord bless us, sir!” I burst out. “What was the plot, then?” “A plot organised among the Indians who originally owned the jewel,” says Mr. Franklin--“a plot with some old Hindoo superstition at the bottom of it.

That is my opinion, confirmed by a family paper which I have about me at this moment.” I saw, now, why the appearance of the three Indian jugglers at our house had presented itself to Mr. Franklin in the light of a circumstance worth noting. “The idea of certain chosen servants of an old Hindoo superstition devoting themselves, through all difficulties and dangers, to watching the opportunity of recovering their sacred gem, appears to me to be perfectly consistent with everything that we know of the patience of Oriental races, and the influence of Oriental religions. But then I am an imaginative man; and the butcher, the baker, and the tax-gatherer, are not the only credible realities in existence to my mind. Let the guess I have made at the truth in this matter go for what it is worth, and let us get on to the only practical question that concerns us. Does the conspiracy against the Moonstone survive the Colonel’s death? And did the Colonel know it, when he left the birthday gift to his niece?” I began to see my lady and Miss Rachel at the end of it all, now. “I was not very willing, when I discovered the story of the Moonstone,” said Mr.

Franklin, “to be the means of bringing it here.

After taking the Diamond out of the bank, I fancied I was followed in the streets by a shabby, dark-complexioned man.

I went to my father’s house to pick up my luggage, and found a letter there, which unexpectedly detained me in London. I went back to the bank with the Diamond, and thought I saw the shabby man again. Taking the Diamond once more out of the bank this morning, I saw the man for the third time, gave him the slip, and started (before he recovered the trace of me) by the morning instead of the afternoon train. Here I am, with the Diamond safe and sound--and what is the first news that meets me? I find that three strolling Indians have been at the house, and that my arrival from London, and something which I am expected to have about me, are two special objects of investigation to them when they believe themselves to be alone.

I don’t waste time and words on their pouring the ink into the boy’s hand, and telling him to look in it for a man at a distance, and for something in that man’s pocket. The thing (which I have often seen done in the East) is ‘hocus-pocus’ in my opinion, as it is in yours. The present question for us to decide is, whether I am wrongly attaching a meaning to a mere accident? or whether we really have evidence of the Indians being on the track of the Moonstone, the moment it is removed from the safe keeping of the bank?” Neither he nor I seemed to fancy dealing with this part of the inquiry. We looked at each other, and then we looked at the tide, oozing in smoothly, higher and higher, over the Shivering Sand. “I was thinking, sir,” I answered, “that I should like to shy the Diamond into the quicksand, and settle the question in THAT way.” “If you have got the value of the stone in your pocket,” answered Mr. Franklin, “say so, Betteredge, and in it goes!” It’s curious to note, when your mind’s anxious, how very far in the way of relief a very small joke will go. We found a fund of merriment, at the time, in the notion of making away with Miss Rachel’s lawful property, and getting Mr. Blake, as executor, into dreadful trouble--though where the merriment was, I am quite at a loss to discover now.

Franklin was the first to bring the talk back to the talk’s proper purpose. He took an envelope out of his pocket, opened it, and handed to me the paper inside.

“Betteredge,” he said, “we must face the question of the Colonel’s motive in leaving this legacy to his niece, for my aunt’s sake. Bear in mind how Lady Verinder treated her brother from the time when he returned to England, to the time when he told you he should remember his niece’s birthday. And read that.” He gave me the extract from the Colonel’s Will. I have got it by me while I write these words; and I copy it, as follows, for your benefit: “Thirdly, and lastly, I give and bequeath to my niece, Rachel Verinder, daughter and only child of my sister, Julia Verinder, widow--if her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living on the said Rachel Verinder’s next Birthday after my death--the yellow Diamond belonging to me, and known in the East by the name of The Moonstone: subject to this condition, that her mother, the said Julia Verinder, shall be living at the time.

And I hereby desire my executor to give my Diamond, either by his own hands or by the hands of some trustworthy representative whom he shall appoint, into the personal possession of my said niece Rachel, on her next birthday after my death, and in the presence, if possible, of my sister, the said Julia Verinder. And I desire that my said sister may be informed, by means of a true copy of this, the third and last clause of my Will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter Rachel, in token of my free forgiveness of the injury which her conduct towards me has been the means of inflicting on my reputation in my lifetime; and especially in proof that I pardon, as becomes a dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and a gentleman, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of her house against me, on the occasion of her daughter’s birthday.” More words followed these, providing if my lady was dead, or if Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testator’s decease, for the Diamond being sent to Holland, in accordance with the sealed instructions originally deposited with it. The proceeds of the sale were, in that case, to be added to the money already left by the Will for the professorship of chemistry at the university in the north. I handed the paper back to Mr. Up to that moment, my own opinion had been (as you know) that the Colonel had died as wickedly as he had lived.

I don’t say the copy from his Will actually converted me from that opinion: I only say it staggered me. Franklin, “now you have read the Colonel’s own statement, what do you say?

In bringing the Moonstone to my aunt’s house, am I serving his vengeance blindfold, or am I vindicating him in the character of a penitent and Christian man?” “It seems hard to say, sir,” I answered, “that he died with a horrid revenge in his heart, and a horrid lie on his lips. God alone knows the truth. Franklin sat twisting and turning the extract from the Will in his fingers, as if he expected to squeeze the truth out of it in that manner. He altered quite remarkably, at the same time. One of the two had been in undisturbed possession of him (as I supposed) up to this time.

And now (as well as I could make out) the other was taking its place. I steered a middle course between the Objective side and the Subjective side. “Let’s extract the inner meaning of this,” says Mr.

“Why did my uncle leave the Diamond to Rachel? “Colonel Herncastle knew my lady well enough to know that she would have refused to accept any legacy that came to her from HIM.” “How did he know that Rachel might not refuse to accept it, too?” “Is there any young lady in existence, sir, who could resist the temptation of accepting such a birthday present as The Moonstone?” “That’s the Subjective view,” says Mr. “It does you great credit, Betteredge, to be able to take the Subjective view. But there’s another mystery about the Colonel’s legacy which is not accounted for yet. How are we to explain his only giving Rachel her birthday present conditionally on her mother being alive?” “I don’t want to slander a dead man, sir,” I answered. “But if he HAS purposely left a legacy of trouble and danger to his sister, by the means of her child, it must be a legacy made conditional on his sister’s being alive to feel the vexation of it.” “Oh!

The Subjective interpretation again! Franklin, “that the Colonel’s object may, quite possibly, have been--not to benefit his niece, whom he had never even seen--but to prove to his sister that he had died forgiving her, and to prove it very prettily by means of a present made to her child. There is a totally different explanation from yours, Betteredge, taking its rise in a Subjective-Objective point of view. From all I can see, one interpretation is just as likely to be right as the other.” Having brought matters to this pleasant and comforting issue, Mr. He laid down flat on his back on the sand, and asked what was to be done next. He had been so clever, and clear-headed (before he began to talk the foreign gibberish), and had so completely taken the lead in the business up to the present time, that I was quite unprepared for such a sudden change as he now exhibited in this helpless leaning upon me.

It was not till later that I learned--by assistance of Miss Rachel, who was the first to make the discovery--that these puzzling shifts and transformations in Mr. Franklin were due to the effect on him of his foreign training. At the age when we are all of us most apt to take our colouring, in the form of a reflection from the colouring of other people, he had been sent abroad, and had been passed on from one nation to another, before there was time for any one colouring more than another to settle itself on him firmly. As a consequence of this, he had come back with so many different sides to his character, all more or less jarring with each other, that he seemed to pass his life in a state of perpetual contradiction with himself. He could be a busy man, and a lazy man; cloudy in the head, and clear in the head; a model of determination, and a spectacle of helplessness, all together. He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side--the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as much as to say, “Here I am, sorely transmogrified, as you see, but there’s something of me left at the bottom of him still.” Miss Rachel used to remark that the Italian side of him was uppermost, on those occasions when he unexpectedly gave in, and asked you in his nice sweet-tempered way to take his own responsibilities on your shoulders. You will do him no injustice, I think, if you conclude that the Italian side of him was uppermost now. Franklin didn’t appear to see the force of my question--not being in a position, at the time, to see anything but the sky over his head.

“As I understand it, sir,” I said, “somebody is bound to put this plaguy Diamond into Miss Rachel’s hands on her birthday--and you may as well do it as another. This is the twenty-fifth of May, and the birthday is on the twenty-first of June. Let’s wait and see what happens in that time; and let’s warn my lady, or not, as the circumstances direct us.” “Perfect, Betteredge, as far as it goes!” says Mr. “But between this and the birthday, what’s to be done with the Diamond?” “What your father did with it, to be sure, sir!” I answered. “Your father put it in the safe keeping of a bank in London. You put in the safe keeping of the bank at Frizinghall.” (Frizinghall was our nearest town, and the Bank of England wasn’t safer than the bank there.) “If I were you, sir,” I added, “I would ride straight away with it to Frizinghall before the ladies come back.” The prospect of doing something--and, what is more, of doing that something on a horse--brought Mr. Franklin up like lightning from the flat of his back. “Come along, and saddle the best horse in the stables directly.” Here (God bless it!) was the original English foundation of him showing through all the foreign varnish at last!

Here was the Master Franklin I remembered, coming out again in the good old way at the prospect of a ride, and reminding me of the good old times! I would have saddled a dozen horses, if he could only have ridden them all! We went back to the house in a hurry; we had the fleetest horse in the stables saddled in a hurry; and Mr. Franklin rattled off in a hurry, to lodge the cursed Diamond once more in the strong-room of a bank.

When I heard the last of his horse’s hoofs on the drive, and when I turned about in the yard and found I was alone again, I felt half inclined to ask myself if I hadn’t woke up from a dream.

CHAPTER VII While I was in this bewildered frame of mind, sorely needing a little quiet time by myself to put me right again, my daughter Penelope got in my way (just as her late mother used to get in my way on the stairs), and instantly summoned me to tell her all that had passed at the conference between Mr. Under present circumstances, the one thing to be done was to clap the extinguisher upon Penelope’s curiosity on the spot. Franklin and I had both talked of foreign politics, till we could talk no longer, and had then mutually fallen asleep in the heat of the sun. Try that sort of answer when your wife or your daughter next worries you with an awkward question at an awkward time, and depend on the natural sweetness of women for kissing and making it up again at the next opportunity. The afternoon wore on, and my lady and Miss Rachel came back. Needless to say how astonished they were, when they heard that Mr. Needless also to say, that THEY asked awkward questions directly, and that the “foreign politics” and the “falling asleep in the sun” wouldn’t serve a second time over with THEM.

Being at the end of my invention, I said Mr. Franklin’s arrival by the early train was entirely attributable to one of Mr. Being asked, upon that, whether his galloping off again on horseback was another of Mr. Having got over my difficulties with the ladies, I found more difficulties waiting for me when I went back to my own room. In came Penelope--with the natural sweetness of women--to kiss and make it up again; and--with the natural curiosity of women--to ask another question.

This time she only wanted me to tell her what was the matter with our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand, Rosanna, it appeared, had returned to the house in a very unaccountable state of mind. She had turned (if Penelope was to be believed) all the colours of the rainbow. Franklin Blake, and in another breath she had been angry with Penelope for presuming to suppose that a strange gentleman could possess any interest for her. She had been surprised again, crying and looking at her deformed shoulder in the glass. Franklin known anything of each other before to-day? Had they heard anything of each other? Franklin’s astonishment as genuine, when he saw how the girl stared at him.

Penelope could speak to the girl’s inquisitiveness as genuine, when she asked questions about Mr. The conference between us, conducted in this way, was tiresome enough, until my daughter suddenly ended it by bursting out with what I thought the most monstrous supposition I had ever heard in my life. “Father!” says Penelope, quite seriously, “there’s only one explanation of it.

But a housemaid out of a reformatory, with a plain face and a deformed shoulder, falling in love, at first sight, with a gentleman who comes on a visit to her mistress’s house, match me that, in the way of an absurdity, out of any story-book in Christendom, if you can! I laughed till the tears rolled down my cheeks. Penelope resented my merriment, in rather a strange way. “I never knew you cruel before, father,” she said, very gently, and went out. I was savage with myself, for feeling uneasy in myself the moment she had spoken them--but so it was. We will change the subject, if you please. I am sorry I drifted into writing about it; and not without reason, as you will see when we have gone on together a little longer. The evening came, and the dressing-bell for dinner rang, before Mr. He had not met with the Indians, either going or returning. He had deposited the Moonstone in the bank--describing it merely as a valuable of great price--and he had got the receipt for it safe in his pocket.

I went down-stairs, feeling that this was rather a flat ending, after all our excitement about the Diamond earlier in the day. How the meeting between Mr. But, in my position in the household, waiting at dinner (except on high family festivals) was letting down my dignity in the eyes of the other servants--a thing which my lady considered me quite prone enough to do already, without seeking occasions for it. The news brought to me from the upper regions, that evening, came from Penelope and the footman. Penelope mentioned that she had never known Miss Rachel so particular about the dressing of her hair, and had never seen her look so bright and pretty as she did when she went down to meet Mr. Franklin in the drawing-room.

The footman’s report was, that the preservation of a respectful composure in the presence of his betters, and the waiting on Mr.

Franklin Blake at dinner, were two of the hardest things to reconcile with each other that had ever tried his training in service. Later in the evening, we heard them singing and playing duets, Mr. Franklin piping high, Miss Rachel piping higher, and my lady, on the piano, following them as it were over hedge and ditch, and seeing them safe through it in a manner most wonderful and pleasant to hear through the open windows, on the terrace at night. Franklin in the smoking-room, with the soda-water and brandy, and found that Miss Rachel had put the Diamond clean out of his head. “She’s the most charming girl I have seen since I came back to England!” was all I could extract from him, when I endeavoured to lead the conversation to more serious things. Towards midnight, I went round the house to lock up, accompanied by my second in command (Samuel, the footman), as usual.

When all the doors were made fast, except the side door that opened on the terrace, I sent Samuel to bed, and stepped out for a breath of fresh air before I too went to bed in my turn. The night was still and close, and the moon was at the full in the heavens. It was so silent out of doors, that I heard from time to time, very faint and low, the fall of the sea, as the ground-swell heaved it in on the sand-bank near the mouth of our little bay. As the house stood, the terrace side was the dark side; but the broad moonlight showed fair on the gravel walk that ran along the next side to the terrace. Looking this way, after looking up at the sky, I saw the shadow of a person in the moonlight thrown forward from behind the corner of the house. Being old and sly, I forbore to call out; but being also, unfortunately, old and heavy, my feet betrayed me on the gravel. Before I could steal suddenly round the corner, as I had proposed, I heard lighter feet than mine--and more than one pair of them as I thought--retreating in a hurry. By the time I had got to the corner, the trespassers, whoever they were, had run into the shrubbery at the off side of the walk, and were hidden from sight among the thick trees and bushes in that part of the grounds.

From the shrubbery, they could easily make their way, over our fence into the road. If I had been forty years younger, I might have had a chance of catching them before they got clear of our premises.

Without disturbing anybody, Samuel and I got a couple of guns, and went all round the house and through the shrubbery. Passing over the walk where I had seen the shadow, I now noticed, for the first time, a little bright object, lying on the clean gravel, under the light of the moon. Picking the object up, I discovered it was a small bottle, containing a thick sweet-smelling liquor, as black as ink. But, remembering what Penelope had told me about the jugglers, and the pouring of the little pool of ink into the palm of the boy’s hand, I instantly suspected that I had disturbed the three Indians, lurking about the house, and bent, in their heathenish way, on discovering the whereabouts of the Diamond that night. On summoning up my own recollections--and on getting Penelope to help me, by consulting her journal--I find that we may pass pretty rapidly over the interval between Mr.

For the greater part of that time the days passed, and brought nothing with them worth recording. With your good leave, then, and with Penelope’s help, I shall notice certain dates only in this place; reserving to myself to tell the story day by day, once more, as soon as we get to the time when the business of the Moonstone became the chief business of everybody in our house.

This said, we may now go on again--beginning, of course, with the bottle of sweet-smelling ink which I found on the gravel walk at night. On the next morning (the morning of the twenty-sixth) I showed Mr.

His opinion was, not only that the Indians had been lurking about after the Diamond, but also that they were actually foolish enough to believe in their own magic--meaning thereby the making of signs on a boy’s head, and the pouring of ink into a boy’s hand, and then expecting him to see persons and things beyond the reach of human vision. In our country, as well as in the East, Mr.

Franklin informed me, there are people who practise this curious hocus-pocus (without the ink, however); and who call it by a French name, signifying something like brightness of sight. Franklin, “the Indians took it for granted that we should keep the Diamond here; and they brought their clairvoyant boy to show them the way to it, if they succeeded in getting into the house last night.” “Do you think they’ll try again, sir?” I asked. Franklin, “on what the boy can really do. If he can see the Diamond through the iron safe of the bank at Frizinghall, we shall be troubled with no more visits from the Indians for the present. If he can’t, we shall have another chance of catching them in the shrubbery, before many more nights are over our heads.” I waited pretty confidently for that latter chance; but, strange to relate, it never came. Whether the jugglers heard, in the town, of Mr. Franklin having been seen at the bank, and drew their conclusions accordingly; or whether the boy really did see the Diamond where the Diamond was now lodged (which I, for one, flatly disbelieve); or whether, after all, it was a mere effect of chance, this at any rate is the plain truth--not the ghost of an Indian came near the house again, through the weeks that passed before Miss Rachel’s birthday. The jugglers remained in and about the town plying their trade; and Mr. Franklin and I remained waiting to see what might happen, and resolute not to put the rogues on their guard by showing our suspicions of them too soon. With this report of the proceedings on either side, ends all that I have to say about the Indians for the present.

On the twenty-ninth of the month, Miss Rachel and Mr. Franklin hit on a new method of working their way together through the time which might otherwise have hung heavy on their hands.

There are reasons for taking particular notice here of the occupation that amused them. Gentlefolks in general have a very awkward rock ahead in life--the rock ahead of their own idleness. Their lives being, for the most part, passed in looking about them for something to do, it is curious to see--especially when their tastes are of what is called the intellectual sort--how often they drift blindfold into some nasty pursuit.

Nine times out of ten they take to torturing something, or to spoiling something--and they firmly believe they are improving their minds, when the plain truth is, they are only making a mess in the house. I have seen them (ladies, I am sorry to say, as well as gentlemen) go out, day after day, for example, with empty pill-boxes, and catch newts, and beetles, and spiders, and frogs, and come home and stick pins through the miserable wretches, or cut them up, without a pang of remorse, into little pieces. You see my young master, or my young mistress, poring over one of their spiders’ insides with a magnifying-glass; or you meet one of their frogs walking downstairs without his head--and when you wonder what this cruel nastiness means, you are told that it means a taste in my young master or my young mistress for natural history. Sometimes, again, you see them occupied for hours together in spoiling a pretty flower with pointed instruments, out of a stupid curiosity to know what the flower is made of.

But there!

the poor souls must get through the time, you see--they must get through the time. In the one case and in the other, the secret of it is, that you have got nothing to think of in your poor empty head, and nothing to do with your poor idle hands. And so it ends in your spoiling canvas with paints, and making a smell in the house; or in keeping tadpoles in a glass box full of dirty water, and turning everybody’s stomach in the house; or in chipping off bits of stone here, there, and everywhere, and dropping grit into all the victuals in the house; or in staining your fingers in the pursuit of photography, and doing justice without mercy on everybody’s face in the house. It often falls heavy enough, no doubt, on people who are really obliged to get their living, to be forced to work for the clothes that cover them, the roof that shelters them, and the food that keeps them going.

But compare the hardest day’s work you ever did with the idleness that splits flowers and pokes its way into spiders’ stomachs, and thank your stars that your head has got something it MUST think of, and your hands something that they MUST do. Franklin and Miss Rachel, they tortured nothing, I am glad to say. They simply confined themselves to making a mess; and all they spoilt, to do them justice, was the panelling of a door. Miss Rachel being wild to try her hand at the new process, Mr. Franklin sent to London for the materials; mixed them up, with accompaniment of a smell which made the very dogs sneeze when they came into the room; put an apron and a bib over Miss Rachel’s gown, and set her to work decorating her own little sitting-room--called, for want of English to name it in, her “boudoir.” They began with the inside of the door. Franklin scraped off all the nice varnish with pumice-stone, and made what he described as a surface to work on. Miss Rachel then covered the surface, under his directions and with his help, with patterns and devices--griffins, birds, flowers, cupids, and such like--copied from designs made by a famous Italian painter, whose name escapes me: the one, I mean, who stocked the world with Virgin Maries, and had a sweetheart at the baker’s. When they were not riding, or seeing company, or taking their meals, or piping their songs, there they were with their heads together, as busy as bees, spoiling the door.

Who was the poet who said that Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do? If he had occupied my place in the family, and had seen Miss Rachel with her brush, and Mr. Franklin with his vehicle, he could have written nothing truer of either of them than that. The next date worthy of notice is Sunday the fourth of June. On that evening we, in the servants’ hall, debated a domestic question for the first time, which, like the decoration of the door, has its bearing on something that is still to come.

Seeing the pleasure which Mr. Franklin and Miss Rachel took in each other’s society, and noting what a pretty match they were in all personal respects, we naturally speculated on the chance of their putting their heads together with other objects in view besides the ornamenting of a door. Some of us said there would be a wedding in the house before the summer was over. Others (led by me) admitted it was likely enough Miss Rachel might be married; but we doubted (for reasons which will presently appear) whether her bridegroom would be Mr. The difficulty was to fathom Miss Rachel. Let me do myself the honour of making you acquainted with her; after which, I will leave you to fathom for yourself--if you can.

My young lady’s eighteenth birthday was the birthday now coming, on the twenty-first of June. If you happen to like dark women (who, I am informed, have gone out of fashion latterly in the gay world), and if you have no particular prejudice in favour of size, I answer for Miss Rachel as one of the prettiest girls your eyes ever looked on.

To see her sit down, to see her get up, and specially to see her walk, was enough to satisfy any man in his senses that the graces of her figure (if you will pardon me the expression) were in her flesh and not in her clothes. Her hair was the blackest I ever saw. Franklin) morsels for the gods; and her complexion (on the same undeniable authority) was as warm as the sun itself, with this great advantage over the sun, that it was always in nice order to look at. Add to the foregoing that she carried her head as upright as a dart, in a dashing, spirited, thoroughbred way--that she had a clear voice, with a ring of the right metal in it, and a smile that began very prettily in her eyes before it got to her lips--and there behold the portrait of her, to the best of my painting, as large as life! She had just as many faults as you have, ma’am--neither more nor less. She was unlike most other girls of her age, in this--that she had ideas of her own, and was stiff-necked enough to set the fashions themselves at defiance, if the fashions didn’t suit her views. She judged for herself, as few women of twice her age judge in general; never asked your advice; never told you beforehand what she was going to do; never came with secrets and confidences to anybody, from her mother downwards.

In little things and great, with people she loved, and people she hated (and she did both with equal heartiness), Miss Rachel always went on a way of her own, sufficient for herself in the joys and sorrows of her life. Over and over again I have heard my lady say, “Rachel’s best friend and Rachel’s worst enemy are, one and the other--Rachel herself.” Add one thing more to this, and I have done.

With all her secrecy, and self-will, there was not so much as the shadow of anything false in her. I can call to mind, in her childhood, more than one occasion when the good little soul took the blame, and suffered the punishment, for some fault committed by a playfellow whom she loved. Nobody ever knew her to confess to it, when the thing was found out, and she was charged with it afterwards. But nobody ever knew her to lie about it, either. She looked you straight in the face, and shook her little saucy head, and said plainly, “I won’t tell you!” Punished again for this, she would own to being sorry for saying “won’t;” but, bread and water notwithstanding, she never told you. Self-willed--devilish self-willed sometimes--I grant; but the finest creature, nevertheless, that ever walked the ways of this lower world. Study your wife closely, for the next four-and-twenty hours. If your good lady doesn’t exhibit something in the shape of a contradiction in that time, Heaven help you!--you have married a monster.

I have now brought you acquainted with Miss Rachel, which you will find puts us face to face, next, with the question of that young lady’s matrimonial views. On June the twelfth, an invitation from my mistress was sent to a gentleman in London, to come and help to keep Miss Rachel’s birthday. This was the fortunate individual on whom I believed her heart to be privately set! My lady’s second sister (don’t be alarmed; we are not going very deep into family matters this time)--my lady’s second sister, I say, had a disappointment in love; and taking a husband afterwards, on the neck or nothing principle, made what they call a misalliance. There was terrible work in the family when the Honourable Caroline insisted on marrying plain Mr.

Ablewhite, the banker at Frizinghall. But he had presumed to raise himself from a low station in the world--and that was against him. However, Time and the progress of modern enlightenment put things right; and the misalliance passed muster very well. We are all getting liberal now; and (provided you can scratch me, if I scratch you) what do I care, in or out of Parliament, whether you are a Dustman or a Duke? That’s the modern way of looking at it--and I keep up with the modern way. The Ablewhites lived in a fine house and grounds, a little out of Frizinghall. Very worthy people, and greatly respected in the neighbourhood. We shall not be much troubled with them in these pages--excepting Mr. In the first place, Mr. Godfrey was, in point of size, the finest man by far of the two.

He stood over six feet high; he had a beautiful red and white colour; a smooth round face, shaved as bare as your hand; and a head of lovely long flaxen hair, falling negligently over the poll of his neck.

Maternal societies for confining poor women; Magdalen societies for rescuing poor women; strong-minded societies for putting poor women into poor men’s places, and leaving the men to shift for themselves;--he was vice-president, manager, referee to them all. Wherever there was a table with a committee of ladies sitting round it in council there was Mr. Godfrey at the bottom of the board, keeping the temper of the committee, and leading the dear creatures along the thorny ways of business, hat in hand. I do suppose this was the most accomplished philanthropist (on a small independence) that England ever produced. As a speaker at charitable meetings the like of him for drawing your tears and your money was not easy to find.

The last time I was in London, my mistress gave me two treats. She sent me to the theatre to see a dancing woman who was all the rage; and she sent me to Exeter Hall to hear Mr. The lady did it, with a band of music. The gentleman did it, with a handkerchief and a glass of water. Crowds at the performance with the legs. Ditto at the performance with the tongue.

And with all this, the sweetest tempered person (I allude to Mr. Godfrey)--the simplest and pleasantest and easiest to please--you ever met with. On the fourteenth, came Mr. He accepted my mistress’s invitation, from the Wednesday of the birthday to the evening of Friday--when his duties to the Ladies’ Charities would oblige him to return to town. Franklin in making fun of the verses at dinner; and Penelope, who was all on Mr.

Franklin might strike in, and try his luck, before the verses were followed by the poet. Though one of the most inveterate smokers I ever met with, he gave up his cigar, because she said, one day, she hated the stale smell of it in his clothes. He slept so badly, after this effort of self-denial, for want of the composing effect of the tobacco to which he was used, and came down morning after morning looking so haggard and worn, that Miss Rachel herself begged him to take to his cigars again.

Such devotion as this, you may say (as some of them said downstairs), could never fail of producing the right effect on Miss Rachel--backed up, too, as it was, by the decorating work every day on the door. Godfrey in her bed-room; represented speaking at a public meeting, with all his hair blown out by the breath of his own eloquence, and his eyes, most lovely, charming the money out of your pockets. Every morning--as Penelope herself owned to me--there was the man whom the women couldn’t do without, looking on, in effigy, while Miss Rachel was having her hair combed. June the sixteenth brought an event which made Mr. A strange gentleman, speaking English with a foreign accent, came that morning to the house, and asked to see Mr. The business could not possibly have been connected with the Diamond, for these two reasons--first, that Mr. Franklin told me nothing about it; secondly, that he communicated it (when the gentleman had gone, as I suppose) to my lady. Franklin, at the piano that evening, about the people he had lived among, and the principles he had adopted in foreign parts. The next day, for the first time, nothing was done towards the decoration of the door.

Franklin’s on the Continent--with a woman or a debt at the bottom of it--had followed him to England. Franklin, but my lady too, for a wonder, left me in the dark. On the seventeenth, to all appearance, the cloud passed away again. They returned to their decorating work on the door, and seemed to be as good friends as ever.

Franklin had seized the opportunity of the reconciliation to make an offer to Miss Rachel, and had neither been accepted nor refused. Franklin off by declining to believe that he was in earnest, and had then secretly regretted treating him in that way afterwards. Though Penelope was admitted to more familiarity with her young mistress than maids generally are--for the two had been almost brought up together as children--still I knew Miss Rachel’s reserved character too well to believe that she would show her mind to anybody in this way. What my daughter told me, on the present occasion, was, as I suspected, more what she wished than what she really knew. On the nineteenth another event happened. We had the doctor in the house professionally. He was summoned to prescribe for a person whom I have had occasion to present to you in these pages--our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. This poor girl--who had puzzled me, as you know already, at the Shivering Sand--puzzled me more than once again, in the interval time of which I am now writing.

But I must own that what I myself saw, and what my daughter saw also, of our second housemaid’s conduct, began to look mysterious, to say the least of it. For example, the girl constantly put herself in Mr. He took about as much notice of her as he took of the cat; it never seemed to occur to him to waste a look on Rosanna’s plain face. The poor thing’s appetite, never much, fell away dreadfully; and her eyes in the morning showed plain signs of waking and crying at night. One day Penelope made an awkward discovery, which we hushed up on the spot. Franklin’s dressing-table, secretly removing a rose which Miss Rachel had given him to wear in his button-hole, and putting another rose like it, of her own picking, in its place. She was, after that, once or twice impudent to me, when I gave her a well-meant general hint to be careful in her conduct; and, worse still, she was not over-respectful now, on the few occasions when Miss Rachel accidentally spoke to her. My lady noticed the change, and asked me what I thought about it. I tried to screen the girl by answering that I thought she was out of health; and it ended in the doctor being sent for, as already mentioned, on the nineteenth.

She begged and prayed, with the tears in her eyes, to be let to stop; and, in an evil hour, I advised my lady to try her for a little longer. As the event proved, and as you will soon see, this was the worst advice I could have given. If I could only have looked a little way into the future, I would have taken Rosanna Spearman out of the house, then and there, with my own hand. On the twentieth, there came a note from Mr. He had arranged to stop at Frizinghall that night, having occasion to consult his father on business. On the afternoon of the next day, he and his two eldest sisters would ride over to us on horseback, in good time before dinner. An elegant little casket in China accompanied the note, presented to Miss Rachel, with her cousin’s love and best wishes. Franklin had only given her a plain locket not worth half the money. My daughter Penelope, nevertheless--such is the obstinacy of women--still backed him to win. Thanks be to Heaven, we have arrived at the eve of the birthday at last!

You will own, I think, that I have got you over the ground this time, without much loitering by the way. I’ll ease you with another new chapter here--and, what is more, that chapter shall take you straight into the thick of the story. CHAPTER IX June twenty-first, the day of the birthday, was cloudy and unsettled at sunrise, but towards noon it cleared up bravely. We, in the servants’ hall, began this happy anniversary, as usual, by offering our little presents to Miss Rachel, with the regular speech delivered annually by me as the chief. I follow the plan adopted by the Queen in opening Parliament--namely, the plan of saying much the same thing regularly every year. Before it is delivered, my speech (like the Queen’s) is looked for as eagerly as if nothing of the kind had ever been heard before.

When it is delivered, and turns out not to be the novelty anticipated, though they grumble a little, they look forward hopefully to something newer next year.

An easy people to govern, in the Parliament and in the Kitchen--that’s the moral of it. Franklin and I had a private conference on the subject of the Moonstone--the time having now come for removing it from the bank at Frizinghall, and placing it in Miss Rachel’s own hands. Whether he had been trying to make love to his cousin again, and had got a rebuff--or whether his broken rest, night after night, was aggravating the queer contradictions and uncertainties in his character--I don’t know. Franklin failed to show himself at his best on the morning of the birthday. He was in twenty different minds about the Diamond in as many minutes.

For my part, I stuck fast by the plain facts as we knew them. Nothing had happened to justify us in alarming my lady on the subject of the jewel; and nothing could alter the legal obligation that now lay on Mr. That was my view of the matter; and, twist and turn it as he might, he was forced in the end to make it his view too. We arranged that he was to ride over, after lunch, to Frizinghall, and bring the Diamond back, with Mr. Godfrey and the two young ladies, in all probability, to keep him company on the way home again. They consumed the whole morning, and part of the afternoon, in the everlasting business of decorating the door, Penelope standing by to mix the colours, as directed; and my lady, as luncheon time drew near, going in and out of the room, with her handkerchief to her nose (for they used a deal of Mr. Franklin’s vehicle that day), and trying vainly to get the two artists away from their work.

It was three o’clock before they took off their aprons, and released Penelope (much the worse for the vehicle), and cleaned themselves of their mess. But they had done what they wanted--they had finished the door on the birthday, and proud enough they were of it.

The griffins, cupids, and so on, were, I must own, most beautiful to behold; though so many in number, so entangled in flowers and devices, and so topsy-turvy in their actions and attitudes, that you felt them unpleasantly in your head for hours after you had done with the pleasure of looking at them. If I add that Penelope ended her part of the morning’s work by being sick in the back-kitchen, it is in no unfriendly spirit towards the vehicle. It left off stinking when it dried; and if Art requires these sort of sacrifices--though the girl is my own daughter--I say, let Art have them! Franklin snatched a morsel from the luncheon-table, and rode off to Frizinghall--to escort his cousins, as he told my lady. To fetch the Moonstone, as was privately known to himself and to me. This being one of the high festivals on which I took my place at the side-board, in command of the attendance at table, I had plenty to occupy my mind while Mr.

Having seen to the wine, and reviewed my men and women who were to wait at dinner, I retired to collect myself before the company came. A whiff of--you know what, and a turn at a certain book which I have had occasion to mention in these pages, composed me, body and mind. I was aroused from what I am inclined to think must have been, not a nap, but a reverie, by the clatter of horses’ hoofs outside; and, going to the door, received a cavalcade comprising Mr. But there was a sort of cloud over him, which I couldn’t at all account for; and when I asked how he had found his father in health, he answered rather shortly, “Much as usual.” However, the two Miss Ablewhites were cheerful enough for twenty, which more than restored the balance. They were nearly as big as their brother; spanking, yellow-haired, rosy lasses, overflowing with super-abundant flesh and blood; bursting from head to foot with health and spirits. The legs of the poor horses trembled with carrying them; and when they jumped from their saddles (without waiting to be helped), I declare they bounced on the ground as if they were made of india-rubber. Everything the Miss Ablewhites said began with a large O; everything they did was done with a bang; and they giggled and screamed, in season and out of season, on the smallest provocation.

Bouncers--that’s what I call them. Under cover of the noise made by the young ladies, I had an opportunity of saying a private word to Mr. Franklin in the hall. “Have you got the Diamond safe, sir?” He nodded, and tapped the breast-pocket of his coat.

“Have you seen anything of the Indians?” “Not a glimpse.” With that answer, he asked for my lady, and, hearing she was in the small drawing-room, went there straight. The bell rang, before he had been a minute in the room, and Penelope was sent to tell Miss Rachel that Mr. Crossing the hall, about half an hour afterwards, I was brought to a sudden standstill by an outbreak of screams from the small drawing-room. I can’t say I was at all alarmed; for I recognised in the screams the favourite large O of the Miss Ablewhites. However, I went in (on pretence of asking for instructions about the dinner) to discover whether anything serious had really happened. There stood Miss Rachel at the table, like a person fascinated, with the Colonel’s unlucky Diamond in her hand. There, on either side of her, knelt the two Bouncers, devouring the jewel with their eyes, and screaming with ecstasy every time it flashed on them in a new light. There, at the opposite side of the table, stood Mr. exquisite!” There sat Mr.

Franklin in a chair by the book-case, tugging at his beard, and looking anxiously towards the window. And there, at the window, stood the object he was contemplating--my lady, having the extract from the Colonel’s Will in her hand, and keeping her back turned on the whole of the company. She faced me, when I asked for my instructions; and I saw the family frown gathering over her eyes, and the family temper twitching at the corners of her mouth. “I shall have something to say to you then.” With those words she went out. It was plain enough that she was posed by the same difficulty which had posed Mr. Franklin and me in our conference at the Shivering Sand. Was the legacy of the Moonstone a proof that she had treated her brother with cruel injustice? or was it a proof that he was worse than the worst she had ever thought of him? Serious questions those for my lady to determine, while her daughter, innocent of all knowledge of the Colonel’s character, stood there with the Colonel’s birthday gift in her hand. Before I could leave the room in my turn, Miss Rachel, always considerate to the old servant who had been in the house when she was born, stopped me.

“Look, Gabriel!” she said, and flashed the jewel before my eyes in a ray of sunlight that poured through the window. The light that streamed from it was like the light of the harvest moon. When you looked down into the stone, you looked into a yellow deep that drew your eyes into it so that they saw nothing else. It seemed unfathomable; this jewel, that you could hold between your finger and thumb, seemed unfathomable as the heavens themselves.

We set it in the sun, and then shut the light out of the room, and it shone awfully out of the depths of its own brightness, with a moony gleam, in the dark. The Diamond laid such a hold on ME that I burst out with as large an “O” as the Bouncers themselves.

The only one of us who kept his senses was Mr. He put an arm round each of his sister’s waists, and, looking compassionately backwards and forwards between the Diamond and me, said, “Carbon Betteredge! All he did, however, was to remind me of the dinner. Godfrey said, “Dear old Betteredge, I have the truest regard for him!” He was embracing his sisters, and ogling Miss Rachel, while he honoured me with that testimony of affection. Something like a stock of love to draw on THERE! At the end of half an hour, I presented myself, as directed, in my lady’s room. What passed between my mistress and me, on this occasion, was, in the main, a repetition of what had passed between Mr.

Franklin and me at the Shivering Sand--with this difference, that I took care to keep my own counsel about the jugglers, seeing that nothing had happened to justify me in alarming my lady on this head. When I received my dismissal, I could see that she took the blackest view possible of the Colonel’s motives, and that she was bent on getting the Moonstone out of her daughter’s possession at the first opportunity. On my way back to my own part of the house, I was encountered by Mr. Franklin’s suspicions apparently took the same turn. He tugged hard at his beard, and went and shut himself up in the library with a bang of the door that had a world of meaning in it. I was interrupted no more in the business of preparing for the birthday dinner till it was time for me to smarten myself up for receiving the company. Just as I had got my white waistcoat on, Penelope presented herself at my toilet, on pretence of brushing what little hair I have got left, and improving the tie of my white cravat. She gave me a kiss on the top of my bald head, and whispered, “News for you, father!

“The ladies’ committee-man, father,” says Penelope. But my daughter happened to be improving the tie of my cravat at that moment, and the whole strength of her feelings found its way into her fingers. “I saw him take her away alone into the rose-garden,” says Penelope. “And I waited behind the holly to see how they came back. They had gone out arm-in-arm, both laughing. They came back, walking separate, as grave as grave could be, and looking straight away from each other in a manner which there was no mistaking. I never was more delighted, father, in my life! There’s one woman in the world who can resist Mr.

Godfrey Ablewhite, at any rate; and, if I was a lady, I should be another!” Here I should have protested again. But my daughter had got the hair-brush by this time, and the whole strength of her feelings had passed into THAT. If you are not, skip this bit, and thank God you have got something in the way of a defence between your hair-brush and your head. “Just on the other side of the holly,” Penelope went on, “Mr. ‘You have accepted my mother’s invitation,’ she said; ‘and you are here to meet her guests. Unless you wish to make a scandal in the house, you will remain, of course!’ She went on a few steps, and then seemed to relent a little. He kissed it, which I should have considered taking a liberty, and then she left him. He waited a little by himself, with his head down, and his heel grinding a hole slowly in the gravel walk; you never saw a man look more put out in your life. ‘Awkward!’ he said between his teeth, when he looked up, and went on to the house--‘very awkward!’ If that was his opinion of himself, he was quite right.

And the end of it is, father, what I told you all along,” cries Penelope, finishing me off with a last scarification, the hottest of all. Franklin’s the man!” I got possession of the hair-brush, and opened my lips to administer the reproof which, you will own, my daughter’s language and conduct richly deserved. Before I could say a word, the crash of carriage-wheels outside struck in, and stopped me. The first of the dinner-company had come. I put on my coat, and looked in the glass.

My head was as red as a lobster; but, in other respects, I was as nicely dressed for the ceremonies of the evening as a man need be. I got into the hall just in time to announce the two first of the guests. You needn’t feel particularly interested about them. Only the philanthropist’s father and mother--Mr. CHAPTER X One on the top of the other the rest of the company followed the Ablewhites, till we had the whole tale of them complete. Including the family, they were twenty-four in all. It was a noble sight to see, when they were settled in their places round the dinner-table, and the Rector of Frizinghall (with beautiful elocution) rose and said grace. There is no need to worry you with a list of the guests. You will meet none of them a second time--in my part of the story, at any rate--with the exception of two. Those two sat on either side of Miss Rachel, who, as queen of the day, was naturally the great attraction of the party.

On this occasion she was more particularly the centre-point towards which everybody’s eyes were directed; for (to my lady’s secret annoyance) she wore her wonderful birthday present, which eclipsed all the rest--the Moonstone. Franklin, had contrived, with the help of his neat fingers and a little bit of silver wire, to fix it as a brooch in the bosom of her white dress. Everybody wondered at the prodigious size and beauty of the Diamond, as a matter of course. But the only two of the company who said anything out of the common way about it were those two guests I have mentioned, who sat by Miss Rachel on her right hand and her left. The guest on her left was Mr. This was a pleasant, companionable little man, with the drawback, however, I must own, of being too fond, in season and out of season, of his joke, and of his plunging in rather a headlong manner into talk with strangers, without waiting to feel his way first.

In society he was constantly making mistakes, and setting people unintentionally by the ears together. What HE said about the Diamond to Miss Rachel was said, as usual, by way of a mystification or joke. He gravely entreated her (in the interests of science) to let him take it home and burn it. “We will first heat it, Miss Rachel,” says the doctor, “to such and such a degree; then we will expose it to a current of air; and, little by little--puff!--we evaporate the Diamond, and spare you a world of anxiety about the safe keeping of a valuable precious stone!” My lady, listening with rather a careworn expression on her face, seemed to wish that the doctor had been in earnest, and that he could have found Miss Rachel zealous enough in the cause of science to sacrifice her birthday gift. The other guest, who sat on my young lady’s right hand, was an eminent public character--being no other than the celebrated Indian traveller, Mr. It was rumoured that he was tired of the humdrum life among the people in our parts, and longing to go back and wander off on the tramp again in the wild places of the East. Except what he said to Miss Rachel about her jewel, I doubt if he spoke six words or drank so much as a single glass of wine, all through the dinner. The Moonstone was the only object that interested him in the smallest degree. The fame of it seemed to have reached him, in some of those perilous Indian places where his wanderings had lain. The Bouncers were more delighted still; they dropped their knives and forks with a crash, and burst out together vehemently, “O!

how interesting!” My lady fidgeted in her chair, and changed the subject. As the dinner got on, I became aware, little by little, that this festival was not prospering as other like festivals had prospered before it. Looking back at the birthday now, by the light of what happened afterwards, I am half inclined to think that the cursed Diamond must have cast a blight on the whole company. I plied them well with wine; and being a privileged character, followed the unpopular dishes round the table, and whispered to the company confidentially, “Please to change your mind and try it; for I know it will do you good.” Nine times out of ten they changed their minds--out of regard for their old original Betteredge, they were pleased to say--but all to no purpose. There were gaps of silence in the talk, as the dinner got on, that made me feel personally uncomfortable. When they did use their tongues again, they used them innocently, in the most unfortunate manner and to the worst possible purpose. Candy, the doctor, for instance, said more unlucky things than I ever knew him to say before. Take one sample of the way in which he went on, and you will understand what I had to put up with at the sideboard, officiating as I was in the character of a man who had the prosperity of the festival at heart. Threadgall, widow of the late Professor of that name.

In one of the gaps of silence, somebody mentioned the dry and rather nasty subject of human anatomy; whereupon good Mrs. Anatomy she described as the Professor’s favourite recreation in his leisure hours. Candy, sitting opposite (who knew nothing of the deceased gentleman), heard her. Being the most polite of men, he seized the opportunity of assisting the Professor’s anatomical amusements on the spot. “They have got some remarkably fine skeletons lately at the College of Surgeons,” says Mr. Candy, across the table, in a loud cheerful voice. “I strongly recommend the Professor, ma’am, when he next has an hour to spare, to pay them a visit.” You might have heard a pin fall.

The company (out of respect to the Professor’s memory) all sat speechless. Threadgall at the time, plying her confidentially with a glass of hock. Candy, hearing nothing, and miles away from suspecting the truth, went on across the table louder and politer than ever. “The Professor may not be aware,” says he, “that the card of a member of the College will admit him, on any day but Sunday, between the hours of ten and four.” Mrs. Threadgall dropped her head right into her tucker, and, in a lower voice still, repeated the solemn words, “My beloved husband is no more.” I winked hard at Mr.

Candy across the table. On he went, with a cordiality that there was no stopping anyhow. “I shall be delighted,” says he, “to send the Professor my card, if you will oblige me by mentioning his present address.” “His present address, sir, is THE GRAVE,” says Mrs. Threadgall, suddenly losing her temper, and speaking with an emphasis and fury that made the glasses ring again.

“The Professor has been dead these ten years.” “Oh, good heavens!” says Mr.

Excepting the Bouncers, who burst out laughing, such a blank now fell on the company, that they might all have been going the way of the Professor, and hailing as he did from the direction of the grave. The rest of them were nearly as provoking in their different ways as the doctor himself. When they ought to have spoken, they didn’t speak; or when they did speak they were perpetually at cross purposes. Whether he was sulky, or whether he was bashful, after his discomfiture in the rose-garden, I can’t say. He kept all his talk for the private ear of the lady (a member of our family) who sat next to him. Being close behind these two at the sideboard, I can testify, from what I heard pass between them, that the company lost a good deal of very improving conversation, which I caught up while drawing the corks, and carving the mutton, and so forth. What they said about their Charities I didn’t hear.

When I had time to listen to them, they had got a long way beyond their women to be confined, and their women to be rescued, and were disputing on serious subjects. Godfrey to say, between the corks and the carving) meant love. And earth was heaven a little the worse for wear.

Earth had some very objectionable people in it; but, to make amends for that, all the women in heaven would be members of a prodigious committee that never quarrelled, with all the men in attendance on them as ministering angels. But why the mischief did Mr. Franklin stirred the company up into making a pleasant evening of it? Nothing of the sort! Godfrey’s reception in the rose-garden.

But, talk as he might, nine times out of ten he pitched on the wrong subject, or he addressed himself to the wrong person; the end of it being that he offended some, and puzzled all of them. What do you think, for instance, of his discussing the lengths to which a married woman might let her admiration go for a man who was not her husband, and putting it in his clear-headed witty French way to the maiden aunt of the Vicar of Frizinghall? What do you think, when he shifted to the German side, of his telling the lord of the manor, while that great authority on cattle was quoting his experience in the breeding of bulls, that experience, properly understood counted for nothing, and that the proper way to breed bulls was to look deep into your own mind, evolve out of it the idea of a perfect bull, and produce him? What do you say, when our county member, growing hot, at cheese and salad time, about the spread of democracy in England, burst out as follows: “If we once lose our ancient safeguards, Mr. Franklin answering, from the Italian point of view: “We have got three things left, sir--Love, Music, and Salad”?

He not only terrified the company with such outbreaks as these, but, when the English side of him turned up in due course, he lost his foreign smoothness; and, getting on the subject of the medical profession, said such downright things in ridicule of doctors, that he actually put good-humoured little Mr. The dispute between them began in Mr.

Candy thereupon told him that his nerves were all out of order and that he ought to go through a course of medicine immediately. Franklin replied that a course of medicine, and a course of groping in the dark, meant, in his estimation, one and the same thing. Candy, hitting back smartly, said that Mr Franklin himself was, constitutionally speaking, groping in the dark after sleep, and that nothing but medicine could help him to find it. Franklin, keeping the ball up on his side, said he had often heard of the blind leading the blind, and now, for the first time, he knew what it meant. In this way, they kept it going briskly, cut and thrust, till they both of them got hot--Mr.

Candy, in particular, so completely losing his self-control, in defence of his profession, that my lady was obliged to interfere, and forbid the dispute to go on. This necessary act of authority put the last extinguisher on the spirits of the company. The talk spurted up again here and there, for a minute or two at a time; but there was a miserable lack of life and sparkle in it. The Devil (or the Diamond) possessed that dinner-party; and it was a relief to everybody when my mistress rose, and gave the ladies the signal to leave the gentlemen over their wine. I had just ranged the decanters in a row before old Mr. Ablewhite (who represented the master of the house), when there came a sound from the terrace which, startled me out of my company manners on the instant. Franklin and I looked at each other; it was the sound of the Indian drum. As I live by bread, here were the jugglers returning to us with the return of the Moonstone to the house! As they rounded the corner of the terrace, and came in sight, I hobbled out to warn them off. But, as ill-luck would have it, the two Bouncers were beforehand with me.

They whizzed out on to the terrace like a couple of skyrockets, wild to see the Indians exhibit their tricks. The other ladies followed; the gentlemen came out on their side.

Before you could say, “Lord bless us!” the rogues were making their salaams; and the Bouncers were kissing the pretty little boy. If our suspicions were right, there she stood, innocent of all knowledge of the truth, showing the Indians the Diamond in the bosom of her dress! I can’t tell you what tricks they performed, or how they did it. What with the vexation about the dinner, and what with the provocation of the rogues coming back just in the nick of time to see the jewel with their own eyes, I own I lost my head. The first thing that I remember noticing was the sudden appearance on the scene of the Indian traveller, Mr. Skirting the half-circle in which the gentlefolks stood or sat, he came quietly behind the jugglers and spoke to them on a sudden in the language of their own country. If he had pricked them with a bayonet, I doubt if the Indians could have started and turned on him with a more tigerish quickness than they did, on hearing the first words that passed his lips. The next moment they were bowing and salaaming to him in their most polite and snaky way. After a few words in the unknown tongue had passed on either side, Mr.

The chief Indian, who acted as interpreter, thereupon wheeled about again towards the gentlefolks. I noticed that the fellow’s coffee-coloured face had turned grey since Mr. He bowed to my lady, and informed her that the exhibition was over. The Bouncers, indescribably disappointed, burst out with a loud “O!” directed against Mr. Murthwaite for stopping the performance. The chief Indian laid his hand humbly on his breast, and said a second time that the juggling was over. The little boy went round with the hat.

The ladies withdrew to the drawing-room; and the gentlemen (excepting Mr. Murthwaite) returned to their wine. I and the footman followed the Indians, and saw them safe off the premises. Going back by way of the shrubbery, I smelt tobacco, and found Mr.

Murthwaite (the latter smoking a cheroot) walking slowly up and down among the trees. Franklin beckoned to me to join them. Franklin, presenting me to the great traveller, “is Gabriel Betteredge, the old servant and friend of our family of whom I spoke to you just now. Murthwaite took his cheroot out of his mouth, and leaned, in his weary way, against the trunk of a tree. I naturally asked the traveller if he had ever met with the Indians before.

I charged them with being disguised, and you saw how it told on them, clever as the Hindoo people are in concealing their feelings. There is a mystery about their conduct that I can’t explain. They have doubly sacrificed their caste--first, in crossing the sea; secondly, in disguising themselves as jugglers.

In the land they live in that is a tremendous sacrifice to make. There must be some very serious motive at the bottom of it, and some justification of no ordinary kind to plead for them, in recovery of their caste, when they return to their own country.” I was struck dumb. Franklin, after what looked to me like a little private veering about between the different sides of his character, broke the silence as follows: “I feel some hesitation, Mr. But, after what you have said, I feel bound, in the interests of Lady Verinder and her daughter, to tell you something which may possibly put the clue into your hands. I speak to you in confidence; you will oblige me, I am sure, by not forgetting that?” With this preface, he told the Indian traveller all that he had told me at the Shivering Sand. Even the immovable Mr. Franklin, when he had done, “what does your experience say?” “My experience,” answered the traveller, “says that you have had more narrow escapes of your life, Mr.

“I can’t doubt, after what you have told me, that the restoration of the Moonstone to its place on the forehead of the Indian idol, is the motive and the justification of that sacrifice of caste which I alluded to just now. Those men will wait their opportunity with the patience of cats, and will use it with the ferocity of tigers. How you have escaped them I can’t imagine,” says the eminent traveller, lighting his cheroot again, and staring hard at Mr.

“You have been carrying the Diamond backwards and forwards, here and in London, and you are still a living man! It was daylight, both times, I suppose, when you took the jewel out of the bank in London?” “Broad daylight,” says Mr. “And plenty of people in the streets?” “Plenty.” “You settled, of course, to arrive at Lady Verinder’s house at a certain time?

It’s a lonely country between this and the station. When did you take the Diamond to the bank at the town here?” “I took it an hour after I had brought it to this house--and three hours before anybody was prepared for seeing me in these parts.” “I beg to congratulate you again! I happened to ride back with my cousins and the groom.” “I beg to congratulate you for the third time! If you ever feel inclined to travel beyond the civilised limits, Mr. “You don’t really mean to say, sir,” I asked, “that they would have taken Mr. Franklin’s life, to get their Diamond, if he had given them the chance?” “Do you smoke, Mr. Betteredge?” says the traveller. “Do you care much for the ashes left in your pipe when you empty it?” “No, sir.” “In the country those men came from, they care just as much about killing a man, as you care about emptying the ashes out of your pipe. If a thousand lives stood between them and the getting back of their Diamond--and if they thought they could destroy those lives without discovery--they would take them all. The sacrifice of caste is a serious thing in India, if you like.

The sacrifice of life is nothing at all.” I expressed my opinion upon this, that they were a set of murdering thieves. Murthwaite expressed HIS opinion that they were a wonderful people. Franklin, expressing no opinion at all, brought us back to the matter in hand. “They have seen the Moonstone on Miss Verinder’s dress,” he said. “Colonel Herncastle understood the people he had to deal with.

Send the Diamond to-morrow (under guard of more than one man) to be cut up at Amsterdam. There is an end of its sacred identity as The Moonstone--and there is an end of the conspiracy.” Mr. “There is no help for it,” he said. “Suppose the Indians come back?” Mr. “The Indians won’t risk coming back to-night,” he said. “The direct way is hardly ever the way they take to anything--let alone a matter like this, in which the slightest mistake might be fatal to their reaching their end.” “But suppose the rogues are bolder than you think, sir?” I persisted. Murthwaite, “let the dogs loose. Have you got any big dogs in the yard?” “Two, sir. A mastiff and a bloodhound.” “They will do. In the present emergency, Mr.

Betteredge, the mastiff and the bloodhound have one great merit--they are not likely to be troubled with your scruples about the sanctity of human life.” The strumming of the piano reached us from the drawing-room, as he fired that shot at me. Franklin’s arm, to go back to the ladies. I noticed that the sky was clouding over fast, as I followed them to the house. He looked round at me, in his dry, droning way, and said: “The Indians will want their umbrellas, Mr. But I was not an eminent traveller--and my way in this world had not led me into playing ducks and drakes with my own life, among thieves and murderers in the outlandish places of the earth. In this anxious frame of mind, other men might have ended by working themselves up into a fever; I ended in a different way. Before I had been at it five minutes, I came to this amazing bit--page one hundred and sixty-one--as follows: “Fear of Danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than Danger itself, when apparent to the Eyes; and we find the Burthen of Anxiety greater, by much, than the Evil which we are anxious about.” The man who doesn’t believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE, after THAT, is a man with a screw loose in his understanding, or a man lost in the mist of his own self-conceit! I was far on with my second pipe, and still lost in admiration of that wonderful book, when Penelope (who had been handing round the tea) came in with her report from the drawing-room.

She had left the Bouncers singing a duet--words beginning with a large “O,” and music to correspond. She had observed that my lady made mistakes in her game of whist for the first time in our experience of her. She had seen the great traveller asleep in a corner.

Godfrey, at the expense of Ladies’ Charities in general; and she had noticed that Mr. Godfrey hit him back again rather more smartly than became a gentleman of his benevolent character. Candy, the doctor, who had mysteriously disappeared from the drawing-room, and had then mysteriously returned, and entered into conversation with Mr. Upon the whole, things were prospering better than the experience of the dinner gave us any right to expect. If we could only hold on for another hour, old Father Time would bring up their carriages, and relieve us of them altogether. Everything wears off in this world; and even the comforting effect of ROBINSON CRUSOE wore off, after Penelope left me. I got fidgety again, and resolved on making a survey of the grounds before the rain came. Instead of taking the footman, whose nose was human, and therefore useless in any emergency, I took the bloodhound with me.

We went all round the premises, and out into the road--and returned as wise as we went, having discovered no such thing as a lurking human creature anywhere. The arrival of the carriages was the signal for the arrival of the rain. With the exception of the doctor, whose gig was waiting for him, the rest of the company went home snugly, under cover, in close carriages.

So he drove away in the rain, laughing over his own little joke; and so we got rid of our dinner company. The next thing to tell is the story of the night.

CHAPTER XI When the last of the guests had driven away, I went back into the inner hall and found Samuel at the side-table, presiding over the brandy and soda-water. My lady and Miss Rachel came out of the drawing-room, followed by the two gentlemen. He sat down, looking dead tired; the talking on this birthday occasion had, I suppose, been too much for him. My lady, turning round to wish them good-night, looked hard at the wicked Colonel’s legacy shining in her daughter’s dress.

“Rachel,” she asked, “where are you going to put your Diamond to-night?” Miss Rachel was in high good spirits, just in that humour for talking nonsense, and perversely persisting in it as if it was sense, which you may sometimes have observed in young girls, when they are highly wrought up, at the end of an exciting day. First, she declared she didn’t know where to put the Diamond.

Then she said, “on her dressing-table, of course, along with her other things.” Then she remembered that the Diamond might take to shining of itself, with its awful moony light in the dark--and that would terrify her in the dead of night. Then she bethought herself of an Indian cabinet which stood in her sitting-room; and instantly made up her mind to put the Indian diamond in the Indian cabinet, for the purpose of permitting two beautiful native productions to admire each other. Having let her little flow of nonsense run on as far as that point, her mother interposed and stopped her. Are there thieves in the house?” Without taking notice of this fantastic way of talking, my lady wished the gentlemen good-night. “Why not let ME keep the Diamond for you to-night?” she asked. My lady saw there was no reasoning with her that night. “Come into my room, Rachel, the first thing to-morrow morning,” she said. “I shall have something to say to you.” With those last words she left us slowly; thinking her own thoughts, and, to all appearance, not best pleased with the way by which they were leading her. Miss Rachel was the next to say good-night. Godfrey, who was standing at the other end of the hall, looking at a picture.

Then she turned back to Mr. What words passed between them I can’t say. But standing near the old oak frame which holds our large looking-glass, I saw her reflected in it, slyly slipping the locket which Mr. Franklin had given to her, out of the bosom of her dress, and showing it to him for a moment, with a smile which certainly meant something out of the common, before she tripped off to bed. This incident staggered me a little in the reliance I had previously felt on my own judgment. I began to think that Penelope might be right about the state of her young lady’s affections, after all. His variable humour, shifting about everything, had shifted about the Indians already. Murthwaite too seriously, when we had that talk in the shrubbery. I wonder whether he has been trying any of his traveller’s tales on us? Do you really mean to let the dogs loose?” “I’ll relieve them of their collars, sir,” I answered, “and leave them free to take a turn in the night, if they smell a reason for it.” “All right,” says Mr.

Godfrey, walking towards us from the other end of the hall, backed me. Franklin, in the friendliest manner, to take something, before he went to bed. I only note these trifling circumstances, because, after all I had seen and heard, that day, it pleased me to observe that our two gentlemen were on just as good terms as ever. Their warfare of words (heard by Penelope in the drawing-room), and their rivalry for the best place in Miss Rachel’s good graces, seemed to have set no serious difference between them. But there! they were both good-tempered, and both men of the world.

And there is certainly this merit in people of station, that they are not nearly so quarrelsome among each other as people of no station at all. Franklin declined the brandy-and-water, and went up-stairs with Mr. Godfrey, their rooms being next door to each other. On the landing, however, either his cousin persuaded him, or he veered about and changed his mind as usual.

“Perhaps I may want it in the night,” he called down to me.

“Send up some brandy-and-water into my room.” I sent up Samuel with the brandy-and-water; and then went out and unbuckled the dogs’ collars. They both lost their heads with astonishment on being set loose at that time of night, and jumped upon me like a couple of puppies! However, the rain soon cooled them down again: they lapped a drop of water each, and crept back into their kennels.

As I went into the house I noticed signs in the sky which betokened a break in the weather for the better. For the present, it still poured heavily, and the ground was in a perfect sop. Samuel and I went all over the house, and shut up as usual. All was safe and fast when I rested my old bones in bed, between midnight and one in the morning. The worries of the day had been a little too much for me, I suppose. All the time I lay awake the house was as quiet as the grave.

Not a sound stirred but the splash of the rain, and the sighing of the wind among the trees as a breeze sprang up with the morning. The clock had struck eight, and I was just going out to chain up the dogs again, when I heard a sudden whisking of petticoats on the stairs behind me. I turned about, and there was Penelope flying down after me like mad. “Father!” she screamed, “come up-stairs, for God’s sake! THE DIAMOND IS GONE!” “Are you out of your mind?” I asked her. There, on the threshold of her bedroom door, stood Miss Rachel, almost as white in the face as the white dressing-gown that clothed her.

There also stood the two doors of the Indian cabinet, wide open. One, of the drawers inside was pulled out as far as it would go. “I myself saw Miss Rachel put the Diamond into that drawer last night.” I went to the cabinet. The drawer was empty. With a look that was not like herself, with a voice that was not like her own, Miss Rachel answered as my daughter had answered: “The Diamond is gone!” Having said those words, she withdrew into her bedroom, and shut and locked the door. The news of the loss of the Diamond seemed to petrify her. The alarm, running through the house like fire, caught the two gentlemen next.

Godfrey was the first to come out of his room. Franklin, whose clear head I had confidently counted on to advise us, seemed to be as helpless as his cousin when he heard the news in his turn. For a wonder, he had had a good night’s rest at last; and the unaccustomed luxury of sleep had, as he said himself, apparently stupefied him. However, when he had swallowed his cup of coffee--which he always took, on the foreign plan, some hours before he ate any breakfast--his brains brightened; the clear-headed side of him turned up, and he took the matter in hand, resolutely and cleverly, much as follows: He first sent for the servants, and told them to leave all the lower doors and windows (with the exception of the front door, which I had opened) exactly as they had been left when we locked up over night. He next proposed to his cousin and to me to make quite sure, before we took any further steps, that the Diamond had not accidentally dropped somewhere out of sight--say at the back of the cabinet, or down behind the table on which the cabinet stood. Having searched in both places, and found nothing--having also questioned Penelope, and discovered from her no more than the little she had already told me--Mr. My lady answered the knock, and closed the door behind her.

The moment after we heard it locked inside by Miss Rachel.

“The loss of the Diamond seems to have quite overwhelmed Rachel,” she said, in reply to Mr. “She shrinks, in the strangest manner, from speaking of it, even to ME. It is impossible you can see her for the present.” Having added to our perplexities by this account of Miss Rachel, my lady, after a little effort, recovered her usual composure, and acted with her usual decision. “I suppose there is no help for it?” she said, quietly. “I suppose I have no alternative but to send for the police?” “And the first thing for the police to do,” added Mr. Franklin, catching her up, “is to lay hands on the Indian jugglers who performed here last night.” My lady and Mr. “I can only tell you that the Indians have certainly stolen the Diamond.

Give me a letter of introduction,” says he, addressing my lady, “to one of the magistrates at Frizinghall--merely telling him that I represent your interests and wishes, and let me ride off with it instantly. Our chance of catching the thieves may depend on our not wasting one unnecessary minute.” (Nota bene: Whether it was the French side or the English, the right side of Mr. The only question was, How long would it last?) He put pen, ink, and paper before his aunt, who (as it appeared to me) wrote the letter he wanted a little unwillingly. If it had been possible to overlook such an event as the loss of a jewel worth twenty thousand pounds, I believe--with my lady’s opinion of her late brother, and her distrust of his birthday-gift--it would have been privately a relief to her to let the thieves get off with the Moonstone scot free. Franklin to the stables, and took the opportunity of asking him how the Indians (whom I suspected, of course, as shrewdly as he did) could possibly have got into the house. “One of them might have slipped into the hall, in the confusion, when the dinner company were going away,” says Mr. “The fellow may have been under the sofa while my aunt and Rachel were talking about where the Diamond was to be put for the night. He would only have to wait till the house was quiet, and there it would be in the cabinet, to be had for the taking.” With those words, he called to the groom to open the gate, and galloped off. This seemed certainly to be the only rational explanation.

But how had the thief contrived to make his escape from the house? I had found the front door locked and bolted, as I had left it at night, when I went to open it, after getting up. As for the other doors and windows, there they were still, all safe and fast, to speak for themselves. The dogs, too? Suppose the thief had got away by dropping from one of the upper windows, how had he escaped the dogs? Had he come provided for them with drugged meat? As the doubt crossed my mind, the dogs themselves came galloping at me round a corner, rolling each other over on the wet grass, in such lively health and spirits that it was with no small difficulty I brought them to reason, and chained them up again. The more I turned it over in my mind, the less satisfactory Mr. When we had done, my lady sent for me; and I found myself compelled to tell her all that I had hitherto concealed, relating to the Indians and their plot.

Being a woman of a high courage, she soon got over the first startling effect of what I had to communicate. Her mind seemed to be far more perturbed about her daughter than about the heathen rogues and their conspiracy. “You know how odd Rachel is, and how differently she behaves sometimes from other girls,” my lady said to me.

The loss of her jewel seems almost to have turned her brain. Taking toys and trinkets in general, Miss Rachel was nothing like so mad after them as most young girls.

Yet there she was, still locked up inconsolably in her bedroom. It is but fair to add that she was not the only one of us in the house who was thrown out of the regular groove. Having no company to amuse him, and getting no chance of trying what his experience of women in distress could do towards comforting Miss Rachel, he wandered hither and thither about the house and gardens in an aimless uneasy way. He was in two different minds about what it became him to do, after the misfortune that had happened to us.

Ought he to relieve the family, in their present situation, of the responsibility of him as a guest, or ought he to stay on the chance that even his humble services might be of some use? He decided ultimately that the last course was perhaps the most customary and considerate course to take, in such a very peculiar case of family distress as this was. Circumstances try the metal a man is really made of. As for the women-servants excepting Rosanna Spearman, who kept by herself--they took to whispering together in corners, and staring at nothing suspiciously, as is the manner of that weaker half of the human family, when anything extraordinary happens in a house. The cursed Moonstone had turned us all upside down.

The resolute side of him had, to all appearance, given way, in the interval since his departure, under the stress that had been laid on it. “Well,” says my lady, “are the police coming?” “Yes,” says Mr. Franklin; “they said they would follow me in a fly. The case is hopeless.” “What! have the Indians escaped, sir?” I asked. “The poor ill-used Indians have been most unjustly put in prison,” says Mr. “They are as innocent as the babe unborn. My idea that one of them was hidden in the house has ended, like all the rest of my ideas, in smoke. Franklin, dwelling with great relish on his own incapacity, “to be simply impossible.” After astonishing us by announcing this totally new turn in the matter of the Moonstone, our young gentleman, at his aunt’s request, took a seat, and explained himself.

It appeared that the resolute side of him had held out as far as Frizinghall. He had put the whole case plainly before the magistrate, and the magistrate had at once sent for the police. The first inquiries instituted about the Indians showed that they had not so much as attempted to leave the town. Further questions addressed to the police, proved that all three had been seen returning to Frizinghall with their boy, on the previous night between ten and eleven--which (regard being had to hours and distances) also proved that they had walked straight back after performing on our terrace. Later still, at midnight, the police, having occasion to search the common lodging-house where they lived, had seen them all three again, and their little boy with them, as usual. Soon after midnight I myself had safely shut up the house.

Plainer evidence than this, in favour of the Indians, there could not well be. The magistrate said there was not even a case of suspicion against them so far. But, as it was just possible, when the police came to investigate the matter, that discoveries affecting the jugglers might be made, he would contrive, by committing them as rogues and vagabonds, to keep them at our disposal, under lock and key, for a week. They had ignorantly done something (I forget what) in the town, which barely brought them within the operation of the law. Every human institution (justice included) will stretch a little, if you only pull it the right way. The worthy magistrate was an old friend of my lady’s, and the Indians were “committed” for a week, as soon as the court opened that morning. The Indian clue to the mystery of the lost jewel was now, to all appearance, a clue that had broken in our hands. If the jugglers were innocent, who, in the name of wonder, had taken the Moonstone out of Miss Rachel’s drawer?

Ten minutes later, to our infinite relief; Superintendent Seegrave arrived at the house. Franklin on the terrace, sitting in the sun (I suppose with the Italian side of him uppermost), and warning the police, as they went by, that the investigation was hopeless, before the investigation had begun. For a family in our situation, the Superintendent of the Frizinghall police was the most comforting officer you could wish to see. He had a fine commanding voice, and a mighty resolute eye, and a grand frock-coat which buttoned beautifully up to his leather stock. “I’m the man you want!” was written all over his face; and he ordered his two inferior police men about with a severity which convinced us all that there was no trifling with HIM. He began by going round the premises, outside and in; the result of that investigation proving to him that no thieves had broken in upon us from outside, and that the robbery, consequently, must have been committed by some person in the house. I leave you to imagine the state the servants were in when this official announcement first reached their ears. The Superintendent decided to begin by examining the boudoir, and, that done, to examine the servants next.

At the same time, he posted one of his men on the staircase which led to the servants’ bedrooms, with instructions to let nobody in the house pass him, till further orders. At this latter proceeding, the weaker half of the human family went distracted on the spot. They bounced out of their corners, whisked up-stairs in a body to Miss Rachel’s room (Rosanna Spearman being carried away among them this time), burst in on Superintendent Seegrave, and, all looking equally guilty, summoned him to say which of them he suspected, at once. Superintendent proved equal to the occasion; he looked at them with his resolute eye, and he cowed them with his military voice. “Now, then, you women, go down-stairs again, every one of you; I won’t have you here. Superintendent, suddenly pointing to a little smear of the decorative painting on Miss Rachel’s door, at the outer edge, just under the lock. “Look what mischief the petticoats of some of you have done already. clear out!” Rosanna Spearman, who was nearest to him, and nearest to the little smear on the door, set the example of obedience, and slipped off instantly to her work. The rest followed her out. The Superintendent finished his examination of the room, and, making nothing of it, asked me who had first discovered the robbery.

“Now, young woman, attend to me, and mind you speak the truth.” Penelope fired up instantly. Policeman!--and if father can stand there and hear me accused of falsehood and thieving, and my own bed-room shut against me, and my character taken away, which is all a poor girl has left, he’s not the good father I take him for!” A timely word from me put Justice and Penelope on a pleasanter footing together. The questions and answers went swimmingly, and ended in nothing worth mentioning. My daughter had seen Miss Rachel put the Diamond in the drawer of the cabinet the last thing at night. She had gone in with Miss Rachel’s cup of tea at eight the next morning, and had found the drawer open and empty. Upon that, she had alarmed the house--and there was an end of Penelope’s evidence. Penelope mentioned his request through the door.

The answer reached us by the same road: “I have nothing to tell the policeman--I can’t see anybody.” Our experienced officer looked equally surprised and offended when he heard that reply. We thereupon went downstairs again, and were met by Mr. Franklin crossing the hall. The two gentlemen, being inmates of the house, were summoned to say if they could throw any light on the matter. Neither of them knew anything about it. Had they heard any suspicious noises during the previous night?

They had heard nothing but the pattering of the rain. Had I, lying awake longer than either of them, heard nothing either?

Franklin, still sticking to the helpless view of our difficulty, whispered to me: “That man will be of no earthly use to us. Betteredge, I have the greatest faith in him!” Many men, many opinions, as one of the ancients said, before my time. Superintendent’s next proceeding took him back to the “boudoir” again, with my daughter and me at his heels. His object was to discover whether any of the furniture had been moved, during the night, out of its customary place--his previous investigation in the room having, apparently, not gone quite far enough to satisfy his mind on this point. While we were still poking about among the chairs and tables, the door of the bed-room was suddenly opened.

After having denied herself to everybody, Miss Rachel, to our astonishment, walked into the midst of us of her own accord. She took up her garden hat from a chair, and then went straight to Penelope with this question:-- “Mr. Franklin Blake sent you with a message to me this morning?” “Yes, miss.” “He wished to speak to me, didn’t he?” “Yes, miss.” “Where is he now?” Hearing voices on the terrace below, I looked out of window, and saw the two gentlemen walking up and down together. Franklin is on the terrace, miss.” Without another word, without heeding Mr. Superintendent, who tried to speak to her, pale as death, and wrapped up strangely in her own thoughts, she left the room, and went down to her cousins on the terrace. It showed a want of due respect, it showed a breach of good manners, on my part, but, for the life of me, I couldn’t help looking out of window when Miss Rachel met the gentlemen outside. Godfrey, who thereupon drew back and left them by themselves. It lasted but for a short time, and, judging by what I saw of his face from the window, seemed to astonish him beyond all power of expression. While they were still together, my lady appeared on the terrace.

Franklin--and suddenly went back into the house again, before her mother came up with her. Godfrey joined them, and spoke also. Franklin walked away a little between the two, telling them what had happened I suppose, for they both stopped short, after taking a few steps, like persons struck with amazement.

I had just seen as much as this, when the door of the sitting-room was opened violently. Neither you nor anybody else will ever find it!” With those words she went in, and locked the door in our faces. Penelope, standing nearest to it, heard her burst out crying the moment she was alone again. In a rage, one moment; in tears, the next! I told the Superintendent it meant that Miss Rachel’s temper was upset by the loss of her jewel. Being anxious for the honour of the family, it distressed me to see my young lady forget herself--even with a police-officer--and I made the best excuse I could, accordingly. Taking what she had said at her bed-room door as a guide to guess by, I could only conclude that she was mortally offended by our sending for the police, and that Mr. Franklin’s astonishment on the terrace was caused by her having expressed herself to him (as the person chiefly instrumental in fetching the police) to that effect. If this guess was right, why--having lost her Diamond--should she object to the presence in the house of the very people whose business it was to recover it for her?

And how, in Heaven’s name, could SHE know that the Moonstone would never be found again? As things stood, at present, no answer to those questions was to be hoped for from anybody in the house. Franklin appeared to think it a point of honour to forbear repeating to a servant--even to so old a servant as I was--what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace. My lady, who was also in the secret no doubt, and who alone had access to Miss Rachel, owned openly that she could make nothing of her. “You madden me when you talk of the Diamond!” All her mother’s influence failed to extract from her a word more than that. Here we were, then, at a dead-lock about Miss Rachel--and at a dead-lock about the Moonstone. In the first case, my lady was powerless to help us. In the second (as you shall presently judge), Mr. Seegrave was fast approaching the condition of a superintendent at his wits’ end. Having ferreted about all over the “boudoir,” without making any discoveries among the furniture, our experienced officer applied to me to know, whether the servants in general were or were not acquainted with the place in which the Diamond had been put for the night.

Samuel, the footman, knew also--for he was present in the hall, when they were talking about where the Diamond was to be kept that night. She or Samuel may have mentioned the thing to the other servants--or the other servants may have heard the talk for themselves, through the side-door of the hall, which might have been open to the back staircase.

For all I can tell, everybody in the house may have known where the jewel was, last night.” My answer presenting rather a wide field for Mr. Superintendent’s suspicions to range over, he tried to narrow it by asking about the servants’ characters next. But it was neither my place nor my wish to direct suspicion against a poor girl, whose honesty had been above all doubt as long as I had known her. The matron at the Reformatory had reported her to my lady as a sincerely penitent and thoroughly trustworthy girl. It was the Superintendent’s business to discover reason for suspecting her first--and then, and not till then, it would be my duty to tell him how she came into my lady’s service. “And all have deserved the trust their mistress has placed in them.” After that, there was but one thing left for Mr. Seegrave to do--namely, to set to work, and tackle the servants’ characters himself. One after another, they were examined.

One after another, they proved to have nothing to say--and said it (so far as the women were concerned) at great length, and with a very angry sense of the embargo laid on their bed-rooms. The rest of them being sent back to their places downstairs, Penelope was then summoned, and examined separately a second time. My daughter’s little outbreak of temper in the “boudoir,” and her readiness to think herself suspected, appeared to have produced an unfavourable impression on Superintendent Seegrave. It seemed also to dwell a little on his mind, that she had been the last person who saw the Diamond at night. When the second questioning was over, my girl came back to me in a frenzy. There was no doubt of it any longer--the police-officer had almost as good as told her she was the thief!

But, though he said nothing, the eye with which he looked at my daughter was not a very pleasant eye to see. The devil take him! The next and last step in the investigation brought matters, as they say, to a crisis. The officer had an interview (at which I was present) with my lady. After informing her that the Diamond must have been taken by somebody in the house, he requested permission for himself and his men to search the servants’ rooms and boxes on the spot. My good mistress, like the generous high-bred woman she was, refused to let us be treated like thieves.

“I will never consent to make such a return as that,” she said, “for all I owe to the faithful servants who are employed in my house.” Mr. Superintendent made his bow, with a look in my direction, which said plainly, “Why employ me, if you are to tie my hands in this way?” As head of the servants, I felt directly that we were bound, in justice to all parties, not to profit by our mistress’s generosity. When Gabriel Betteredge sets the example,” says I, stopping Superintendent Seegrave at the door, “the rest of the servants will follow, I promise you. There are my keys, to begin with!” My lady took me by the hand, and thanked me with the tears in her eyes. what would I not have given, at that moment, for the privilege of knocking Superintendent Seegrave down! As I had promised for them, the other servants followed my lead, sorely against the grain, of course, but all taking the view that I took. The women were a sight to see, while the police-officers were rummaging among their things. The cook looked as if she could grill Mr. Superintendent alive on a furnace, and the other women looked as if they could eat him when he was done.

The search over, and no Diamond or sign of a Diamond being found, of course, anywhere, Superintendent Seegrave retired to my little room to consider with himself what he was to do next. He and his men had now been hours in the house, and had not advanced us one inch towards a discovery of how the Moonstone had been taken, or of whom we were to suspect as the thief. While the police-officer was still pondering in solitude, I was sent for to see Mr. Franklin in the library. To my unutterable astonishment, just as my hand was on the door, it was suddenly opened from the inside, and out walked Rosanna Spearman! After the library had been swept and cleaned in the morning, neither first nor second housemaid had any business in that room at any later period of the day. I stopped Rosanna Spearman, and charged her with a breach of domestic discipline on the spot. “What might you want in the library at this time of day?” I inquired.

Franklin Blake dropped one of his rings up-stairs,” says Rosanna; “and I have been into the library to give it to him.” The girl’s face was all in a flush as she made me that answer; and she walked away with a toss of her head and a look of self-importance which I was quite at a loss to account for.

The proceedings in the house had doubtless upset all the women-servants more or less; but none of them had gone clean out of their natural characters, as Rosanna, to all appearance, had now gone out of hers. Franklin writing at the library-table. He asked for a conveyance to the railway station the moment I entered the room. The first sound of his voice informed me that we now had the resolute side of him uppermost once more. The man made of cotton had disappeared; and the man made of iron sat before me again.

“I have convinced my aunt that we must have a cleverer head than Superintendent Seegrave’s to help us; and I have got her permission to despatch a telegram to my father. He knows the Chief Commissioner of Police, and the Commissioner can lay his hand on the right man to solve the mystery of the Diamond. Talking of mysteries, by-the-bye,” says Mr. Franklin, dropping his voice, “I have another word to say to you before you go to the stables.

Don’t breathe a word of it to anybody as yet; but either Rosanna Spearman’s head is not quite right, or I am afraid she knows more about the Moonstone than she ought to know.” I can hardly tell whether I was more startled or distressed at hearing him say that. Instead of that, she stood opposite to me at the table, looking at me in the oddest manner--half frightened, and half familiar--I couldn’t make it out. ‘This is a strange thing about the Diamond, sir,’ she said, in a curiously sudden, headlong way. Upon my honour, Betteredge, I think she must be wrong in the head! She said, ‘They will never find the Diamond, sir, will they? nor the person who took it--I’ll answer for that.’ She actually nodded and smiled at me! At any rate, she changed colour, and left the room. What on earth does it mean?” I could not bring myself to tell him the girl’s story, even then.

It would have been almost as good as telling him that she was the thief. Besides, even if I had made a clean breast of it, and even supposing she was the thief, the reason why she should let out her secret to Mr. Franklin, of all the people in the world, would have been still as far to seek as ever. “I can’t bear the idea of getting the poor girl into a scrape, merely because she has a flighty way with her, and talks very strangely,” Mr. “And yet if she had said to the Superintendent what she said to me, fool as he is, I’m afraid----” He stopped there, and left the rest unspoken.

“The best way, sir,” I said, “will be for me to say two words privately to my mistress about it at the first opportunity. My lady has a very friendly interest in Rosanna; and the girl may only have been forward and foolish, after all. When there’s a mess of any kind in a house, sir, the women-servants like to look at the gloomy side--it gives the poor wretches a kind of importance in their own eyes. If there’s anybody ill, trust the women for prophesying that the person will die. If it’s a jewel lost, trust them for prophesying that it will never be found again.” This view (which I am bound to say, I thought a probable view myself, on reflection) seemed to relieve Mr. Franklin mightily: he folded up his telegram, and dismissed the subject. On my way to the stables, to order the pony-chaise, I looked in at the servants’ hall, where they were at dinner. Rosanna Spearman was not among them. “Don’t talk in that way before the rest of them, father,” she said. “You only make them harder on Rosanna than ever.

The poor thing is breaking her heart about Mr. Franklin Blake.” Here was another view of the girl’s conduct. If it was possible for Penelope to be right, the explanation of Rosanna’s strange language and behaviour might have been all in this--that she didn’t care what she said, so long as she could surprise Mr. Granting that to be the right reading of the riddle, it accounted, perhaps, for her flighty, self-conceited manner when she passed me in the hall. I saw the pony harnessed myself. In the infernal network of mysteries and uncertainties that now surrounded us, I declare it was a relief to observe how well the buckles and straps understood each other!

When you had seen the pony backed into the shafts of the chaise, you had seen something there was no doubt about. And that, let me tell you, was becoming a treat of the rarest kind in our household. Going round with the chaise to the front door, I found not only Mr. Godfrey and Superintendent Seegrave also waiting for me on the steps.

Superintendent’s reflections (after failing to find the Diamond in the servants’ rooms or boxes) had led him, it appeared, to an entirely new conclusion. Still sticking to his first text, namely, that somebody in the house had stolen the jewel, our experienced officer was now of the opinion that the thief (he was wise enough not to name poor Penelope, whatever he might privately think of her!) had been acting in concert with the Indians; and he accordingly proposed shifting his inquiries to the jugglers in the prison at Frizinghall. Franklin had volunteered to take the Superintendent back to the town, from which he could telegraph to London as easily as from our station.

Seegrave, and greatly interested in witnessing the examination of the Indians, had begged leave to accompany the officer to Frizinghall. One of the two inferior policemen was to be left at the house, in case anything happened. The other was to go back with the Superintendent to the town. So the four places in the pony-chaise were just filled. Before he took the reins to drive off, Mr. Franklin walked me away a few steps out of hearing of the others. “I will wait to telegraph to London,” he said, “till I see what comes of our examination of the Indians. My own conviction is, that this muddle-headed local police-officer is as much in the dark as ever, and is simply trying to gain time.

The idea of any of the servants being in league with the Indians is a preposterous absurdity, in my opinion. Keep about the house, Betteredge, till I come back, and try what you can make of Rosanna Spearman. I don’t ask you to do anything degrading to your own self-respect, or anything cruel towards the girl. We will make as light of it as we can before my aunt--but this is a more important matter than you may suppose.” “It is a matter of twenty thousand pounds, sir,” I said, thinking of the value of the Diamond. “I am very uneasy about her.” He left me suddenly; as if he desired to cut short any further talk between us. Further talk might have let me into the secret of what Miss Rachel had said to him on the terrace. So they drove away to Frizinghall.

I was ready enough, in the girl’s own interest, to have a little talk with Rosanna in private. But the needful opportunity failed to present itself. When she did appear, she was flighty and excited, had what they call an hysterical attack, took a dose of sal-volatile by my lady’s order, and was sent back to her bed. The day wore on to its end drearily and miserably enough, I can tell you. Penelope persisted in believing that she was to be forthwith tried, sentenced, and transported for theft. The other women took to their Bibles and hymn-books, and looked as sour as verjuice over their reading--a result, which I have observed, in my sphere of life, to follow generally on the performance of acts of piety at unaccustomed periods of the day. I went out into the yard, and, being hard up for a little cheerful society, set my chair by the kennels, and talked to the dogs. Half an hour before dinner-time, the two gentlemen came back from Frizinghall, having arranged with Superintendent Seegrave that he was to return to us the next day.

They had called on Mr. Murthwaite, the Indian traveller, at his present residence, near the town. Franklin’s request, he had kindly given them the benefit of his knowledge of the language, in dealing with those two, out of the three Indians, who knew nothing of English. The examination, conducted carefully, and at great length, had ended in nothing; not the shadow of a reason being discovered for suspecting the jugglers of having tampered with any of our servants. Franklin had sent his telegraphic message to London, and there the matter now rested till to-morrow came. So much for the history of the day that followed the birthday.

A day or two after, however, the darkness lifted a little. CHAPTER XII The Thursday night passed, and nothing happened. With the Friday morning came two pieces of news.

Item the first: the baker’s man declared he had met Rosanna Spearman, on the previous afternoon, with a thick veil on, walking towards Frizinghall by the foot-path way over the moor. It seemed strange that anybody should be mistaken about Rosanna, whose shoulder marked her out pretty plainly, poor thing--but mistaken the man must have been; for Rosanna, as you know, had been all the Thursday afternoon ill up-stairs in her room. Item the second came through the postman. Candy had said one more of his many unlucky things, when he drove off in the rain on the birthday night, and told me that a doctor’s skin was waterproof. In spite of his skin, the wet had got through him.

The last accounts, brought by the postman, represented him to be light-headed--talking nonsense as glibly, poor man, in his delirium as he often talked it in his sober senses. We were all sorry for the little doctor; but Mr. From what he said to my lady, while I was in the room at breakfast-time, he appeared to think that Miss Rachel--if the suspense about the Moonstone was not soon set at rest--might stand in urgent need of the best medical advice at our disposal. Blake, the elder, arrived, in answer to his son.

It informed us that he had laid hands (by help of his friend, the Commissioner) on the right man to help us. The name of him was Sergeant Cuff; and the arrival of him from London might be expected by the morning train.

At reading the name of the new police-officer, Mr. It seems that he had heard some curious anecdotes about Sergeant Cuff, from his father’s lawyer, during his stay in London.

“I begin to hope we are seeing the end of our anxieties already,” he said. “If half the stories I have heard are true, when it comes to unravelling a mystery, there isn’t the equal in England of Sergeant Cuff!” We all got excited and impatient as the time drew near for the appearance of this renowned and capable character. Superintendent Seegrave, returning to us at his appointed time, and hearing that the Sergeant was expected, instantly shut himself up in a room, with pen, ink, and paper, to make notes of the Report which would be certainly expected from him. I should have liked to have gone to the station myself, to fetch the Sergeant. But my lady’s carriage and horses were not to be thought of, even for the celebrated Cuff; and the pony-chaise was required later for Mr. He deeply regretted being obliged to leave his aunt at such an anxious time; and he kindly put off the hour of his departure till as late as the last train, for the purpose of hearing what the clever London police-officer thought of the case. When the time came for the Sergeant’s arrival, I went down to the gate to look out for him. A fly from the railway drove up as I reached the lodge; and out got a grizzled, elderly man, so miserably lean that he looked as if he had not got an ounce of flesh on his bones in any part of him. His face was as sharp as a hatchet, and the skin of it was as yellow and dry and withered as an autumn leaf. His eyes, of a steely light grey, had a very disconcerting trick, when they encountered your eyes, of looking as if they expected something more from you than you were aware of yourself.

“Yes, sir.” “I am Sergeant Cuff.” “This way, sir, if you please.” On our road to the house, I mentioned my name and position in the family, to satisfy him that he might speak to me about the business on which my lady was to employ him. Not a word did he say about the business, however, for all that. He admired the grounds, and remarked that he felt the sea air very brisk and refreshing. I privately wondered, on my side, how the celebrated Cuff had got his reputation.

We reached the house, in the temper of two strange dogs, coupled up together for the first time in their lives by the same chain. Asking for my lady, and hearing that she was in one of the conservatories, we went round to the gardens at the back, and sent a servant to seek her. While we were waiting, Sergeant Cuff looked through the evergreen arch on our left, spied out our rosery, and walked straight in, with the first appearance of anything like interest that he had shown yet. To the gardener’s astonishment, and to my disgust, this celebrated policeman proved to be quite a mine of learning on the trumpery subject of rose-gardens. “Ah, you’ve got the right exposure here to the south and sou’-west,” says the Sergeant, with a wag of his grizzled head, and a streak of pleasure in his melancholy voice. “This is the shape for a rosery--nothing like a circle set in a square.

Yes, yes; with walks between all the beds. But they oughtn’t to be gravel walks like these. Gardener--grass walks between your roses; gravel’s too hard for them. They always mix well together, don’t they? Here’s the white musk rose, Mr. Betteredge--our old English rose holding up its head along with the best and the newest of them. Pretty dear!” says the Sergeant, fondling the Musk Rose with his lanky fingers, and speaking to it as if he was speaking to a child. This was a nice sort of man to recover Miss Rachel’s Diamond, and to find out the thief who stole it!

Betteredge, the roses get it. I began my life among them in my father’s nursery garden, and I shall end my life among them, if I can. One of these days (please God) I shall retire from catching thieves, and try my hand at growing roses. There will be grass walks, Mr. Gardener, between my beds,” says the Sergeant, on whose mind the gravel paths of our rosery seemed to dwell unpleasantly. “It seems an odd taste, sir,” I ventured to say, “for a man in your line of life.” “If you will look about you (which most people won’t do),” says Sergeant Cuff, “you will see that the nature of a man’s tastes is, most times, as opposite as possible to the nature of a man’s business. Show me any two things more opposite one from the other than a rose and a thief; and I’ll correct my tastes accordingly--if it isn’t too late at my time of life.

You find the damask rose a goodish stock for most of the tender sorts, don’t you, Mr. Is it Lady Verinder?” He had seen her before either I or the gardener had seen her, though we knew which way to look, and he didn’t. I began to think him rather a quicker man than he appeared to be at first sight. The Sergeant’s appearance, or the Sergeant’s errand--one or both--seemed to cause my lady some little embarrassment.

She was, for the first time in all my experience of her, at a loss what to say at an interview with a stranger. He asked if any other person had been employed about the robbery before we sent for him; and hearing that another person had been called in, and was now in the house, begged leave to speak to him before anything else was done. My lady led the way back. Before he followed her, the Sergeant relieved his mind on the subject of the gravel walks by a parting word to the gardener. “Get her ladyship to try grass,” he said, with a sour look at the paths. I can only state the fact. They retired together; and remained a weary long time shut up from all mortal intrusion. When they came out, Mr.

“The Sergeant wishes to see Miss Verinder’s sitting-room,” says Mr. “The Sergeant may have some questions to ask. Attend the Sergeant, if you please!” While I was being ordered about in this way, I looked at the great Cuff. The great Cuff, on his side, looked at Superintendent Seegrave in that quietly expecting way which I have already noticed. I can’t affirm that he was on the watch for his brother officer’s speedy appearance in the character of an Ass--I can only say that I strongly suspected it. I led the way up-stairs. The Sergeant went softly all over the Indian cabinet and all round the “boudoir;” asking questions (occasionally only of Mr. Superintendent, and continually of me), the drift of which I believe to have been equally unintelligible to both of us. In due time, his course brought him to the door, and put him face to face with the decorative painting that you know of.

He laid one lean inquiring finger on the small smear, just under the lock, which Superintendent Seegrave had already noticed, when he reproved the women-servants for all crowding together into the room. “How did it happen?” He put the question to me.

I answered that the women-servants had crowded into the room on the previous morning, and that some of their petticoats had done the mischief, “Superintendent Seegrave ordered them out, sir,” I added, “before they did any more harm.” “Right!” says Mr. “I ordered them out. The petticoats did it, Sergeant--the petticoats did it.” “Did you notice which petticoat did it?” asked Sergeant Cuff, still addressing himself, not to his brother-officer, but to me.

Superintendent looked a little taken aback; but he made the best of it. Seegrave, as he had looked at the gravel walks in the rosery, and gave us, in his melancholy way, the first taste of his quality which we had had yet. “At one end of the inquiry there was a murder, and at the other end there was a spot of ink on a table cloth that nobody could account for. In all my experience along the dirtiest ways of this dirty little world, I have never met with such a thing as a trifle yet.

Before we go a step further in this business we must see the petticoat that made the smear, and we must know for certain when that paint was wet.” Mr.

Superintendent--taking his set-down rather sulkily--asked if he should summon the women. “No,” he said, “we’ll take the matter of the paint first. It’s a question of Yes or No with the paint--which is short. It’s a question of petticoats with the women--which is long. What o’clock was it when the servants were in this room yesterday morning? Is there anybody in the house who knows whether that paint was wet or dry, at eleven yesterday morning?” “Her ladyship’s nephew, Mr. “Is the gentleman in the house?” Mr. Franklin was as close at hand as could be--waiting for his first chance of being introduced to the great Cuff. In half a minute he was in the room, and was giving his evidence as follows: “That door, Sergeant,” he said, “has been painted by Miss Verinder, under my inspection, with my help, and in a vehicle of my own composition. The vehicle dries whatever colours may be used with it, in twelve hours.” “Do you remember when the smeared bit was done, sir?” asked the Sergeant.

“That was the last morsel of the door to be finished. We wanted to get it done, on Wednesday last--and I myself completed it by three in the afternoon, or soon after.” “To-day is Friday,” said Sergeant Cuff, addressing himself to Superintendent Seegrave. At three on the Wednesday afternoon, that bit of the painting was completed. The vehicle dried it in twelve hours--that is to say, dried it by three o’clock on Thursday morning.

Superintendent, when you supposed that the women-servants’ petticoats smeared it.” First knock-down blow for Mr. Having settled the question of the paint, Sergeant Cuff, from that moment, gave his brother-officer up as a bad job--and addressed himself to Mr. Franklin, as the more promising assistant of the two. “It’s quite on the cards, sir,” he said, “that you have put the clue into our hands.” As the words passed his lips, the bedroom door opened, and Miss Rachel came out among us suddenly. She addressed herself to the Sergeant, without appearing to notice (or to heed) that he was a perfect stranger to her.

Franklin, “that HE had put the clue into your hands?” (“This is Miss Verinder,” I whispered, behind the Sergeant.) “That gentleman, miss,” says the Sergeant--with his steely-grey eyes carefully studying my young lady’s face--“has possibly put the clue into our hands.” She turned for one moment, and tried to look at Mr. I say, tried, for she suddenly looked away again before their eyes met. There seemed to be some strange disturbance in her mind. She coloured up, and then she turned pale again.

With the paleness, there came a new look into her face--a look which it startled me to see. “Having answered your question, miss,” says the Sergeant, “I beg leave to make an inquiry in my turn.

There is a smear on the painting of your door, here. “Are you another police-officer?” she asked. “I am Sergeant Cuff, miss, of the Detective Police.” “Do you think a young lady’s advice worth having?” “I shall be glad to hear it, miss.” “Do your duty by yourself--and don’t allow Mr Franklin Blake to help you!” She said those words so spitefully, so savagely, with such an extraordinary outbreak of ill-will towards Mr. Franklin, in her voice and in her look, that--though I had known her from a baby, though I loved and honoured her next to my lady herself--I was ashamed of Miss Rachel for the first time in my life. “Do you happen to know anything about the smear? Might you have done it by accident yourself?” “I know nothing about the smear.” With that answer, she turned away, and shut herself up again in her bed-room. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the Sergeant--I looked at Mr. “And now you see why.” “Miss Verinder appears to be a little out of temper about the loss of her Diamond,” remarked the Sergeant. natural enough!” Here was the excuse that I had made for her (when she forgot herself before Superintendent Seegrave, on the previous day) being made for her over again, by a man who couldn’t have had MY interest in making it--for he was a perfect stranger! A kind of cold shudder ran through me, which I couldn’t account for at the time.

I know, now, that I must have got my first suspicion, at that moment, of a new light (and horrid light) having suddenly fallen on the case, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff--purely and entirely in consequence of what he had seen in Miss Rachel, and heard from Miss Rachel, at that first interview between them. “A young lady’s tongue is a privileged member, sir,” says the Sergeant to Mr. Thanks to you, we know when the paint was dry.

The next thing to discover is when the paint was last seen without that smear. Franklin composed himself, and came back with an effort from Miss Rachel to the matter in hand. “The more we narrow the question of time, the more we also narrow the field of inquiry.” “That’s it, sir,” said the Sergeant. “Did you notice your work here, on the Wednesday afternoon, after you had done it?” Mr. “I can’t say I did either, sir.” “Who was the last person in the room, the last thing on Wednesday night?” “Miss Rachel, I suppose, sir.” Mr. Franklin struck in there, “Or possibly your daughter, Betteredge.” He turned to Sergeant Cuff, and explained that my daughter was Miss Verinder’s maid. Stop!” says the Sergeant, taking me away to the window, out of earshot, “Your Superintendent here,” he went on, in a whisper, “has made a pretty full report to me of the manner in which he has managed this case. Among other things, he has, by his own confession, set the servants’ backs up.

It’s very important to smooth them down again. Tell your daughter, and tell the rest of them, these two things, with my compliments: First, that I have no evidence before me, yet, that the Diamond has been stolen; I only know that the Diamond has been lost. Second, that my business here with the servants is simply to ask them to lay their heads together and help me to find it.” My experience of the women-servants, when Superintendent Seegrave laid his embargo on their rooms, came in handy here. “May I make so bold, Sergeant, as to tell the women a third thing?” I asked.

“Are they free (with your compliments) to fidget up and downstairs, and whisk in and out of their bed-rooms, if the fit takes them?” “Perfectly free,” said the Sergeant. “THAT will smooth them down, sir,” I remarked, “from the cook to the scullion.” “Go, and do it at once, Mr. There was only one difficulty when I came to the bit about the bed-rooms. 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. The Sergeant seemed to approve of Penelope. He became a trifle less dreary; and he looked much as he had looked when he noticed the white musk rose in the flower-garden.

Here is my daughter’s evidence, as drawn off from her by the Sergeant. She gave it, I think, very prettily--but, there! she is my child all over: nothing of her mother in her; Lord bless you, nothing of her mother in her! Penelope examined: Took a lively interest in the painting on the door, having helped to mix the colours. Noticed the bit of work under the lock, because it was the last bit done.

Had, at that hour, wished her young lady good night in the bedroom; had heard the clock strike in the “boudoir”; had her hand at the time on the handle of the painted door; knew the paint was wet (having helped to mix the colours, as aforesaid); took particular pains not to touch it; could swear that she held up the skirts of her dress, and that there was no smear on the paint then; could not swear that her dress mightn’t have touched it accidentally in going out; remembered the dress she had on, because it was new, a present from Miss Rachel; her father remembered, and could speak to it, too; could, and would, and did fetch it; dress recognised by her father as the dress she wore that night; skirts examined, a long job from the size of them; not the ghost of a paint-stain discovered anywhere. The Sergeant’s next proceeding was to question me about any large dogs in the house who might have got into the room, and done the mischief with a whisk of their tails. Hearing that this was impossible, he next sent for a magnifying-glass, and tried how the smear looked, seen that way. No skin-mark (as of a human hand) printed off on the paint. All the signs visible--signs which told that the paint had been smeared by some loose article of somebody’s dress touching it in going by. That somebody (putting together Penelope’s evidence and Mr. Franklin’s evidence) must have been in the room, and done the mischief, between midnight and three o’clock on the Thursday morning. Having brought his investigation to this point, Sergeant Cuff discovered that such a person as Superintendent Seegrave was still left in the room, upon which he summed up the proceedings for his brother-officer’s benefit, as follows: “This trifle of yours, Mr. Superintendent,” says the Sergeant, pointing to the place on the door, “has grown a little in importance since you noticed it last. At the present stage of the inquiry there are, as I take it, three discoveries to make, starting from that smear.

Find out (first) whether there is any article of dress in this house with the smear of the paint on it. Find out (third) how the person can account for having been in this room, and smeared the paint, between midnight and three in the morning. If the person can’t satisfy you, you haven’t far to look for the hand that has got the Diamond.

I’ll work this by myself, if you please, and detain you no longer-from your regular business in the town.

Leave him here at my disposal, in case I want him--and allow me to wish you good morning.” Superintendent Seegrave’s respect for the Sergeant was great; but his respect for himself was greater still. Hit hard by the celebrated Cuff, he hit back smartly, to the best of his ability, on leaving the room.

There IS such a thing, Sergeant, as making a mountain out of a molehill. Good morning.” “There is also such a thing as making nothing out of a molehill, in consequence of your head being too high to see it.” Having returned his brother-officer’s compliments in those terms, Sergeant Cuff wheeled about, and walked away to the window by himself. The Sergeant stood at the window with his hands in his pockets, looking out, and whistling the tune of “The Last Rose of Summer” softly to himself. Later in the proceedings, I discovered that he only forgot his manners so far as to whistle, when his mind was hard at work, seeing its way inch by inch to its own private ends, on which occasions “The Last Rose of Summer” evidently helped and encouraged him. It reminded him, you see, of his favourite roses, and, as HE whistled it, it was the most melancholy tune going. Turning from the window, after a minute or two, the Sergeant walked into the middle of the room, and stopped there, deep in thought, with his eyes on Miss Rachel’s bed-room door. Leaving the room with this message, I heard Mr.

Franklin ask the Sergeant a question, and stopped to hear the answer also at the threshold of the door. Franklin, “who has stolen the Diamond?” “NOBODY HAS STOLEN THE DIAMOND,” answered Sergeant Cuff. We both started at that extraordinary view of the case, and both earnestly begged him to tell us what he meant. “Wait a little,” said the Sergeant. “The pieces of the puzzle are not all put together yet.” CHAPTER XIII I found my lady in her own sitting room.

“There is something in that police-officer from London which I recoil from--I don’t know why. I have a presentiment that he is bringing trouble and misery with him into the house. The more I saw of Sergeant Cuff, the better I liked him. Bring him in, Gabriel, and stay here as long as he stays.” This was the first attack of the megrims that I remembered in my mistress since the time when she was a young girl.

I went back to the “boudoir.” Mr. Franklin strolled out into the garden, and joined Mr. I declare my lady turned a shade paler at the sight of him! She commanded herself, however, in other respects, and asked the Sergeant if he had any objection to my being present. She was so good as to add, that I was her trusted adviser, as well as her old servant, and that in anything which related to the household I was the person whom it might be most profitable to consult. The Sergeant politely answered that he would take my presence as a favour, having something to say about the servants in general, and having found my experience in that quarter already of some use to him. “I have already formed an opinion on this case,” says Sergeant Cuff, “which I beg your ladyship’s permission to keep to myself for the present. My business now is to mention what I have discovered upstairs in Miss Verinder’s sitting-room, and what I have decided (with your ladyship’s leave) on doing next.” He then went into the matter of the smear on the paint, and stated the conclusions he drew from it--just as he had stated them (only with greater respect of language) to Superintendent Seegrave.

The Diamond is missing out of the drawer in the cabinet. Another thing is next to certain. The marks from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress belonging to somebody in this house. We must discover that article of dress before we go a step further.” “And that discovery,” remarked my mistress, “implies, I presume, the discovery of the thief?” “I beg your ladyship’s pardon--I don’t say the Diamond is stolen. I only say, at present, that the Diamond is missing.

The discovery of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it.” Her ladyship looked at me. “How do you propose to discover the stained dress?” inquired my mistress, addressing herself once more to the Sergeant. “My good servants, who have been with me for years, have, I am ashamed to say, had their boxes and rooms searched already by the other officer. I can’t and won’t permit them to be insulted in that way a second time!” (There was a mistress to serve! There was a woman in ten thousand, if you like!) “That is the very point I was about to put to your ladyship,” said the Sergeant. “The other officer has done a world of harm to this inquiry, by letting the servants see that he suspected them. If I give them cause to think themselves suspected a second time, there’s no knowing what obstacles they may not throw in my way--the women especially.

At the same time, their boxes must be searched again--for this plain reason, that the first investigation only looked for the Diamond, and that the second investigation must look for the stained dress. I quite agree with you, my lady, that the servants’ feelings ought to be consulted. But I am equally clear that the servants’ wardrobes ought to be searched.” This looked very like a dead-lock. “I have got a plan to meet the difficulty,” said Sergeant Cuff, “if your ladyship will consent to it.

I propose explaining the case to the servants.” “The women will think themselves suspected directly,” I said, interrupting him. “The women won’t, Mr.

Betteredge,” answered the Sergeant, “if I can tell them I am going to examine the wardrobes of EVERYBODY--from her ladyship downwards--who slept in the house on Wednesday night. It’s a mere formality,” he added, with a side look at my mistress; “but the servants will accept it as even dealing between them and their betters; and, instead of hindering the investigation, they will make a point of honour of assisting it.” I saw the truth of that. My lady, after her first surprise was over, saw the truth of it also.

“You are certain the investigation is necessary?” she said. “It’s the shortest way that I can see, my lady, to the end we have in view.” My mistress rose to ring the bell for her maid. “You shall speak to the servants,” she said, “with the keys of my wardrobe in your hand.” Sergeant Cuff stopped her by a very unexpected question. “Hadn’t we better make sure first,” he asked, “that the other ladies and gentlemen in the house will consent, too?” “The only other lady in the house is Miss Verinder,” answered my mistress, with a look of surprise. “The only gentlemen are my nephews, Mr. There is not the least fear of a refusal from any of the three.” I reminded my lady here that Mr. As I said the words, Mr.

Godfrey himself knocked at the door to say good-bye, and was followed in by Mr. Franklin, who was going with him to the station. My lady explained the difficulty. He called to Samuel, through the window, to take his portmanteau up-stairs again, and he then put the key himself into Sergeant Cuff’s hand. “My luggage can follow me to London,” he said, “when the inquiry is over.” The Sergeant received the key with a becoming apology. “I am sorry to put you to any inconvenience, sir, for a mere formality; but the example of their betters will do wonders in reconciling the servants to this inquiry.” Mr. Godfrey, after taking leave of my lady, in a most sympathising manner, left a farewell message for Miss Rachel, the terms of which made it clear to my mind that he had not taken No for an answer, and that he meant to put the marriage question to her once more, at the next opportunity. Franklin, on following his cousin out, informed the Sergeant that all his clothes were open to examination, and that nothing he possessed was kept under lock and key. His views, you will observe, had been met with the utmost readiness by my lady, by Mr. There was only Miss.

Rachel now wanting to follow their lead, before we called the servants together, and began the search for the stained dress.

My lady’s unaccountable objection to the Sergeant seemed to make our conference more distasteful to her than ever, as soon as we were left alone again. “If I send you down Miss Verinder’s keys,” she said to him, “I presume I shall have done all you want of me for the present?” “I beg your ladyship’s pardon,” said Sergeant Cuff. “Before we begin, I should like, if convenient, to have the washing-book. The stained article of dress may be an article of linen. If the search leads to nothing, I want to be able to account next for all the linen in the house, and for all the linen sent to the wash. If there is an article missing, there will be at least a presumption that it has got the paint-stain on it, and that it has been purposely made away with, yesterday or to-day, by the person owning it. Superintendent Seegrave,” added the Sergeant, turning to me, “pointed the attention of the women-servants to the smear, when they all crowded into the room on Thursday morning. Betteredge, to have been one more of Superintendent Seegrave’s many mistakes.” My lady desired me to ring the bell, and order the washing-book. She remained with us until it was produced, in case Sergeant Cuff had any further request to make of her after looking at it.

The washing-book was brought in by Rosanna Spearman. The girl had come down to breakfast that morning miserably pale and haggard, but sufficiently recovered from her illness of the previous day to do her usual work.

“Have you anything more to say to me?” asked my lady, still as eager as ever to be out of the Sergeant’s society. The great Cuff opened the washing-book, understood it perfectly in half a minute, and shut it up again. “Has the young woman who brought us this book been in your employment as long as the other servants?” “Why do you ask?” said my lady. “The last time I saw her,” answered the Sergeant, “she was in prison for theft.” After that, there was no help for it, but to tell him the truth. My mistress dwelt strongly on Rosanna’s good conduct in her service, and on the high opinion entertained of her by the matron at the reformatory.

“I have already told your ladyship that I don’t suspect any person in the house of thieving--up to the present time.” After that answer, my lady rose to go up-stairs, and ask for Miss Rachel’s keys. The Sergeant was before-hand with me in opening the door for her. He turned his melancholy face to the window; he put his lanky hands into his pockets; and he whistled “The Last Rose of Summer” softly to himself. At last, Samuel came in, not with the keys, but with a morsel of paper for me. I got at my spectacles, with some fumbling and difficulty, feeling the Sergeant’s dismal eyes fixed on me all the time. There were two or three lines on the paper, written in pencil by my lady. They informed me that Miss Rachel flatly refused to have her wardrobe examined. If I had not been too old for the amiable weaknesses of youth, I believe I should have blushed at the notion of facing him myself. “Any news of Miss Verinder’s keys?” asked the Sergeant.

“My young lady refuses to have her wardrobe examined.” “Ah!” said the Sergeant. When he said “Ah!” he said it in the tone of a man who had heard something which he expected to hear.

“Must the search be given up?” I asked. “Yes,” said the Sergeant, “the search must be given up, because your young lady refuses to submit to it like the rest. We must examine all the wardrobes in the house or none. Ablewhite’s portmanteau to London by the next train, and return the washing-book, with my compliments and thanks, to the young woman who brought it in.” He laid the washing-book on the table, and taking out his penknife, began to trim his nails. My lady’s horror of him might (as I have since thought) have meant that she saw his drift (as the scripture says) “in a glass darkly.” I didn’t see it yet--that’s all I know. Sergeant Cuff finished the nail on which he was then at work, looked at it for a moment with a melancholy interest, and put up his penknife. “Come out into the garden,” he said, “and let’s have a look at the roses.” CHAPTER XIV The nearest way to the garden, on going out of my lady’s sitting-room, was by the shrubbery path, which you already know of. For the sake of your better understanding of what is now to come, I may add to this, that the shrubbery path was Mr.

When he was out in the grounds, and when we failed to find him anywhere else, we generally found him here. I am afraid I must own that I am rather an obstinate old man. The more firmly Sergeant Cuff kept his thoughts shut up from me, the more firmly I persisted in trying to look in at them. As we turned into the shrubbery path, I attempted to circumvent him in another way.

“As things are now,” I said, “if I was in your place, I should be at my wits’ end.” “If you were in my place,” answered the Sergeant, “you would have formed an opinion--and, as things are now, any doubt you might previously have felt about your own conclusions would be completely set at rest. Never mind for the present what those conclusions are, Mr. You might have given it to me no doubt, in the house, instead of out of it. But doors and listeners have a knack of getting together; and, in my line of life, we cultivate a healthy taste for the open air.” Who was to circumvent THIS man? “We won’t enter into your young lady’s motives,” the Sergeant went on; “we will only say it’s a pity she declines to assist me, because, by so doing, she makes this investigation more difficult than it might otherwise have been.

We must now try to solve the mystery of the smear on the door--which, you may take my word for it, means the mystery of the Diamond also--in some other way. I have decided to see the servants, and to search their thoughts and actions, Mr. Betteredge, instead of searching their wardrobes. You are an observant man--did you notice anything strange in any of the servants (making due allowance, of course, for fright and fluster), after the loss of the Diamond was found out? Any particular quarrel among them? Any one of them not in his or her usual spirits? or unexpectedly taken ill?” I had just time to think of Rosanna Spearman’s sudden illness at yesterday’s dinner--but not time to make any answer--when I saw Sergeant Cuff’s eyes suddenly turn aside towards the shrubbery; and I heard him say softly to himself, “Hullo!” “What’s the matter?” I asked. “A touch of the rheumatics in my back,” said the Sergeant, in a loud voice, as if he wanted some third person to hear us. “We shall have a change in the weather before long.” A few steps further brought us to the corner of the house. Turning off sharp to the right, we entered on the terrace, and went down, by the steps in the middle, into the garden below.

Sergeant Cuff stopped there, in the open space, where we could see round us on every side. But, for the girl’s own sake, I must ask you at once whether SHE has provided herself with a sweetheart, poor wretch, like the rest of them?” What on earth did he mean, under present circumstances, by putting such a question to me as that? “I saw Rosanna Spearman hiding in the shrubbery as we went by,” said the Sergeant.

“When you said ‘Hullo’?” “Yes--when I said ‘Hullo!’ If there’s a sweetheart in the case, the hiding doesn’t much matter. If there isn’t--as things are in this house--the hiding is a highly suspicious circumstance, and it will be my painful duty to act on it accordingly.” What, in God’s name, was I to say to him? I knew the shrubbery was Mr. Franklin’s favourite walk; I knew he would most likely turn that way when he came back from the station; I knew that Penelope had over and over again caught her fellow-servant hanging about there, and had always declared to me that Rosanna’s object was to attract Mr. Franklin’s return when the Sergeant noticed her. I was put between the two difficulties of mentioning Penelope’s fanciful notion as if it was mine, or of leaving an unfortunate creature to suffer the consequences, the very serious consequences, of exciting the suspicion of Sergeant Cuff. Out of pure pity for the girl--on my soul and my character, out of pure pity for the girl--I gave the Sergeant the necessary explanations, and told him that Rosanna had been mad enough to set her heart on Mr. On the few occasions when anything amused him, he curled up a little at the corners of the lips, nothing more.

“The falling in love with a gentleman of Mr. Franklin Blake’s manners and appearance doesn’t seem to me to be the maddest part of her conduct by any means. However, I’m glad the thing is cleared up: it relieves one’s mind to have things cleared up. Franklin Blake hasn’t got a suspicion of the girl’s fancy for him? The ugly women have a bad time of it in this world; let’s hope it will be made up to them in another. See for yourself how much better the flowers look with grass about them instead of gravel. It goes to my heart to break them off the stem.

Just as it goes to your heart, you know, when there’s something wrong in the servants’ hall. Did you notice anything you couldn’t account for in any of the servants when the loss of the Diamond was first found out?” I had got on very fairly well with Sergeant Cuff so far. But the slyness with which he slipped in that last question put me on my guard. In plain English, I didn’t at all relish the notion of helping his inquiries, when those inquiries took him (in the capacity of snake in the grass) among my fellow-servants. “I noticed nothing,” I said, “except that we all lost our heads together, myself included.” “Oh,” says the Sergeant, “that’s all you have to tell me, is it?” I answered, with (as I flattered myself) an unmoved countenance, “That is all.” Sergeant Cuff’s dismal eyes looked me hard in the face. I have taken an extraordinary liking to you.” (Why he should have chosen the exact moment when I was deceiving him to give me that proof of his good opinion, is beyond all comprehension!

I felt a little proud--I really did feel a little proud of having been one too many at last for the celebrated Cuff!) We went back to the house; the Sergeant requesting that I would give him a room to himself, and then send in the servants (the indoor servants only), one after another, in the order of their rank, from first to last. I showed Sergeant Cuff into my own room, and then called the servants together in the hall. Rosanna Spearman appeared among them, much as usual.

She was as quick in her way as the Sergeant in his, and I suspect she had heard what he said to me about the servants in general, just before he discovered her.

There she was, at any rate, looking as if she had never heard of such a place as the shrubbery in her life. I sent them in, one by one, as desired. The cook was the first to enter the Court of Justice, otherwise my room. He must have been crossed in love, father, when he was a young man.” The first housemaid followed Penelope. Remained longer than any of them. Samuel, the footman, followed Rosanna.

Report, on coming out: “Whoever blacks Sergeant Cuff’s boots ought to be ashamed of himself.” Nancy, the kitchen-maid, went last. Betteredge, with a poor hard-working girl.” Going into the Court of Justice, when it was all over, to hear if there were any further commands for me, I found the Sergeant at his old trick--looking out of window, and whistling “The Last Rose of Summer” to himself. “If Rosanna Spearman asks leave to go out,” said the Sergeant, “let the poor thing go; but let me know first.” I might as well have held my tongue about Rosanna and Mr. It was plain enough; the unfortunate girl had fallen under Sergeant Cuff’s suspicions, in spite of all I could do to prevent it. “I hope you don’t think Rosanna is concerned in the loss of the Diamond?” I ventured to say.

The corners of the Sergeant’s melancholy mouth curled up, and he looked hard in my face, just as he had looked in the garden. “You might lose your head, you know, for the second time.” I began to doubt whether I had been one too many for the celebrated Cuff, after all!

It was rather a relief to me that we were interrupted here by a knock at the door, and a message from the cook. Rosanna Spearman HAD asked to go out, for the usual reason, that her head was bad, and she wanted a breath of fresh air. At a sign from the Sergeant, I said, Yes. “Which is the servants’ way out?” he asked, when the messenger had gone. I showed him the servants’ way out. “Lock the door of your room,” says the Sergeant; “and if anybody asks for me, say I’m in there, composing my mind.” He curled up again at the corners of the lips, and disappeared. It was plain that Sergeant Cuff’s suspicions of Rosanna had been roused by something that he had found out at his examination of the servants in my room. Now, the only two servants (excepting Rosanna herself) who had remained under examination for any length of time, were my lady’s own maid and the first housemaid, those two being also the women who had taken the lead in persecuting their unfortunate fellow-servant from the first.

Reaching these conclusions, I looked in on them, casually as it might be, in the servants’ hall, and, finding tea going forward, instantly invited myself to that meal. (For, NOTA BENE, a drop of tea is to a woman’s tongue what a drop of oil is to a wasting lamp.) My reliance on the tea-pot, as an ally, did not go unrewarded.

In less than half an hour I knew as much as the Sergeant himself. My lady’s maid and the housemaid, had, it appeared, neither of them believed in Rosanna’s illness of the previous day. These two devils--I ask your pardon; but how else CAN you describe a couple of spiteful women?--had stolen up-stairs, at intervals during the Thursday afternoon; had tried Rosanna’s door, and found it locked; had knocked, and not been answered; had listened, and not heard a sound inside. When the girl had come down to tea, and had been sent up, still out of sorts, to bed again, the two devils aforesaid had tried her door once more, and found it locked; had looked at the keyhole, and found it stopped up; had seen a light under the door at midnight, and had heard the crackling of a fire (a fire in a servant’s bed-room in the month of June!) at four in the morning. All this they had told Sergeant Cuff, who, in return for their anxiety to enlighten him, had eyed them with sour and suspicious looks, and had shown them plainly that he didn’t believe either one or the other. Hence, the unfavourable reports of him which these two women had brought out with them from the examination. Hence, also (without reckoning the influence of the tea-pot), their readiness to let their tongues run to any length on the subject of the Sergeant’s ungracious behaviour to them.

Having had some experience of the great Cuff’s round-about ways, and having last seen him evidently bent on following Rosanna privately when she went out for her walk, it seemed clear to me that he had thought it unadvisable to let the lady’s maid and the housemaid know how materially they had helped him.

They were just the sort of women, if he had treated their evidence as trustworthy, to have been puffed up by it, and to have said or done something which would have put Rosanna Spearman on her guard. I walked out in the fine summer afternoon, very sorry for the poor girl, and very uneasy in my mind at the turn things had taken. Drifting towards the shrubbery, some time later, there I met Mr. After returning from seeing his cousin off at the station, he had been with my lady, holding a long conversation with her. She had told him of Miss Rachel’s unaccountable refusal to let her wardrobe be examined; and had put him in such low spirits about my young lady that he seemed to shrink from speaking on the subject. The family temper appeared in his face that evening, for the first time in my experience of him. “Well, Betteredge,” he said, “how does the atmosphere of mystery and suspicion in which we are all living now, agree with you? Do you remember that morning when I first came here with the Moonstone? I wish to God we had thrown it into the quicksand!” After breaking out in that way, he abstained from speaking again until he had composed himself. We walked silently, side by side, for a minute or two, and then he asked me what had become of Sergeant Cuff.

Franklin off with the excuse of the Sergeant being in my room, composing his mind.

I told him exactly what had happened, mentioning particularly what my lady’s maid and the house-maid had said about Rosanna Spearman. Franklin’s clear head saw the turn the Sergeant’s suspicions had taken, in the twinkling of an eye. “Didn’t you tell me this morning,” he said, “that one of the tradespeople declared he had met Rosanna yesterday, on the footway to Frizinghall, when we supposed her to be ill in her room?” “Yes, sir.” “If my aunt’s maid and the other woman have spoken the truth, you may depend upon it the tradesman did meet her. The girl’s attack of illness was a blind to deceive us. She had some guilty reason for going to the town secretly. The paint-stained dress is a dress of hers; and the fire heard crackling in her room at four in the morning was a fire lit to destroy it. Rosanna Spearman has stolen the Diamond. I’ll go in directly, and tell my aunt the turn things have taken.” “Not just yet, if you please, sir,” said a melancholy voice behind us.

What then?” Mr. Franklin said those words with a sudden heat and vehemence, as if the Sergeant had mortally offended him. “Do you think it’s wise, sir,” said Sergeant Cuff, quietly, “to put such a question as that to me--at such a time as this?” There was a moment’s silence between them: Mr.

Franklin walked close up to the Sergeant. The two looked each other straight in the face. Cuff,” he said, “that you are treading on delicate ground?” “It isn’t the first time, by a good many hundreds, that I find myself treading on delicate ground,” answered the other, as immovable as ever.

“I am to understand that you forbid me to tell my aunt what has happened?” “You are to understand, if you please, sir, that I throw up the case, if you tell Lady Verinder, or tell anybody, what has happened, until I give you leave.” That settled it.

I had stood there listening to them, all in a tremble; not knowing whom to suspect, or what to think next. In the midst of my confusion, two things, however, were plain to me. First, that my young lady was, in some unaccountable manner, at the bottom of the sharp speeches that had passed between them. Second, that they thoroughly understood each other, without having previously exchanged a word of explanation on either side. Betteredge,” says the Sergeant, “you have done a very foolish thing in my absence. For the future, perhaps you will be so obliging as to do your detective business along with me.” He took me by the arm, and walked me away with him along the road by which he had come. “Only a little information about the country round here,” said the Sergeant. “Is there any path, in that direction, leading to the sea-beach from this house?” asked the Sergeant. He pointed, as he spoke, to the fir-plantation which led to the Shivering Sand. “Yes,” I said, “there is a path.” “Show it to me.” Side by side, in the grey of the summer evening, Sergeant Cuff and I set forth for the Shivering Sand.

CHAPTER XV The Sergeant remained silent, thinking his own thoughts, till we entered the plantation of firs which led to the quicksand. There he roused himself, like a man whose mind was made up, and spoke to me again.

Betteredge,” he said, “as you have honoured me by taking an oar in my boat, and as you may, I think, be of some assistance to me before the evening is out, I see no use in our mystifying one another any longer, and I propose to set you an example of plain speaking on my side. You are determined to give me no information to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman, because she has been a good girl to YOU, and because you pity her heartily.

Those humane considerations do you a world of credit, but they happen in this instance to be humane considerations clean thrown away. Rosanna Spearman is not in the slightest danger of getting into trouble--no, not if I fix her with being concerned in the disappearance of the Diamond, on evidence which is as plain as the nose on your face!” “Do you mean that my lady won’t prosecute?” I asked. “I mean that your lady CAN’T prosecute,” said the Sergeant. “Rosanna Spearman is simply an instrument in the hands of another person, and Rosanna Spearman will be held harmless for that other person’s sake.” He spoke like a man in earnest--there was no denying that. “Can’t you give that other person a name?” I said. “I feel particularly tender at the present moment, Mr. And you, with the same excellent motive, feel particularly tender towards Rosanna Spearman, don’t you? Do you happen to know whether she has had a new outfit of linen lately?” What he meant by slipping in this extraordinary question unawares, I was at a total loss to imagine.

Seeing no possible injury to Rosanna if I owned the truth, I answered that the girl had come to us rather sparely provided with linen, and that my lady, in recompense for her good conduct (I laid a stress on her good conduct), had given her a new outfit not a fortnight since. “This is a miserable world,” says the Sergeant. Betteredge, is a sort of target--misfortune is always firing at it, and always hitting the mark. You have examined the servants yourself, and you know what discoveries two of them made outside Rosanna’s door.

Surely you know what the girl was about yesterday, after she was taken ill? Oh dear me, it’s as plain as that strip of light there, at the end of the trees. At eleven, on Thursday morning, Superintendent Seegrave (who is a mass of human infirmity) points out to all the women servants the smear on the door. Rosanna has her own reasons for suspecting her own things; she takes the first opportunity of getting to her room, finds the paint-stain on her night-gown, or petticoat, or what not, shams ill and slips away to the town, gets the materials for making a new petticoat or nightgown, makes it alone in her room on the Thursday night lights a fire (not to destroy it; two of her fellow-servants are prying outside her door, and she knows better than to make a smell of burning, and to have a lot of tinder to get rid of)--lights a fire, I say, to dry and iron the substitute dress after wringing it out, keeps the stained dress hidden (probably ON her), and is at this moment occupied in making away with it, in some convenient place, on that lonely bit of beach ahead of us. She stopped in the cottage for some time, and she came out with (as I believe) something hidden under her cloak. I saw her set off northwards along the coast, after leaving the cottage.

If you happen to be following another person along your sea-coast, and if that person happens to look round, there isn’t a scrap of cover to hide you anywhere. I had to choose between taking Rosanna in custody on suspicion, or leaving her, for the time being, with her little game in her own hands. For reasons which I won’t trouble you with, I decided on making any sacrifice rather than give the alarm as soon as to-night to a certain person who shall be nameless between us. I came back to the house to ask you to take me to the north end of the beach by another way. Sand--in respect of its printing off people’s footsteps--is one of the best detective officers I know. If we don’t meet with Rosanna Spearman by coming round on her in this way, the sand may tell us what she has been at, if the light only lasts long enough.

Here IS the sand. If you will excuse my suggesting it--suppose you hold your tongue, and let me go first?” If there is such a thing known at the doctor’s shop as a DETECTIVE-FEVER, that disease had now got fast hold of your humble servant. Sergeant Cuff went on between the hillocks of sand, down to the beach. As it turned out, I found myself standing nearly in the same place where Rosanna Spearman and I had been talking together when Mr. While my eyes were watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite of me to what had passed, on that former occasion, between Rosanna and me.

I declare I almost felt the poor thing slip her hand again into mine, and give it a little grateful squeeze to thank me for speaking kindly to her. I declare I almost heard her voice telling me again that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her own will, whenever she went out--almost saw her face brighten again, as it brightened when she first set eyes upon Mr. Franklin coming briskly out on us from among the hillocks. My spirits fell lower and lower as I thought of these things--and the view of the lonesome little bay, when I looked about to rouse myself, only served to make me feel more uneasy still.

The last of the evening light was fading away; and over all the desolate place there hung a still and awful calm. The heave of the main ocean on the great sandbank out in the bay, was a heave that made no sound. The inner sea lay lost and dim, without a breath of wind to stir it. Patches of nasty ooze floated, yellow-white, on the dead surface of the water. Scum and slime shone faintly in certain places, where the last of the light still caught them on the two great spits of rock jutting out, north and south, into the sea. It was now the time of the turn of the tide: and even as I stood there waiting, the broad brown face of the quicksand began to dimple and quiver--the only moving thing in all the horrid place. I saw the Sergeant start as the shiver of the sand caught his eye. Betteredge,” he said; “and no signs of Rosanna Spearman anywhere on the beach, look where you may.” He took me down lower on the shore, and I saw for myself that his footsteps and mine were the only footsteps printed off on the sand. “How does the fishing village bear, standing where we are now?” asked Sergeant Cuff.

“Cobb’s Hole,” I answered (that being the name of the place), “bears as near as may be, due south.” “I saw the girl this evening, walking northward along the shore, from Cobb’s Hole,” said the Sergeant. Is Cobb’s Hole on the other side of that point of land there? And can we get to it--now it’s low water--by the beach?” I answered, “Yes,” to both those questions. “If you’ll excuse my suggesting it, we’ll step out briskly,” said the Sergeant. “I want to find the place where she left the shore, before it gets dark.” We had walked, I should say, a couple of hundred yards towards Cobb’s Hole, when Sergeant Cuff suddenly went down on his knees on the beach, to all appearance seized with a sudden frenzy for saying his prayers. “There’s something to be said for your marine landscape here, after all,” remarked the Sergeant. Let us call them Rosanna’s footsteps, until we find evidence to the contrary that we can’t resist. Ah, poor soul, she understands the detective virtues of sand as well as I do! But hasn’t she been in rather too great a hurry to tread out the marks thoroughly? Here’s one footstep going FROM Cobb’s Hole; and here is another going back to it.

Isn’t that the toe of her shoe pointing straight to the water’s edge? And don’t I see two heel-marks further down the beach, close at the water’s edge also? It looks as if she had determined to get to that place you and I have just come from, without leaving any marks on the sand to trace her by.

Shall we say that she walked through the water from this point till she got to that ledge of rocks behind us, and came back the same way, and then took to the beach again where those two heel marks are still left? It seems to fit in with my notion that she had something under her cloak, when she left the cottage.

not something to destroy--for, in that case, where would have been the need of all these precautions to prevent my tracing the place at which her walk ended? Something to hide is, I think, the better guess of the two. Perhaps, if we go on to the cottage, we may find out what that something is?” At this proposal, my detective-fever suddenly cooled. “What good can I do?” “The longer I know you, Mr. Betteredge,” said the Sergeant, “the more virtues I discover. If I go alone to the cottage, the people’s tongues will be tied at the first question I put to them. If I go with you, I go introduced by a justly respected neighbour, and a flow of conversation is the necessary result.

It strikes me in that light; how does it strike you?” Not having an answer of the needful smartness as ready as I could have wished, I tried to gain time by asking him what cottage he wanted to go to. On the Sergeant describing the place, I recognised it as a cottage inhabited by a fisherman named Yolland, with his wife and two grown-up children, a son and a daughter. If you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting Rosanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her as occasionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand, by a visit to some friends of hers at Cobb’s Hole. Those friends were the Yollands--respectable, worthy people, a credit to the neighbourhood. Rosanna’s acquaintance with them had begun by means of the daughter, who was afflicted with a misshapen foot, and who was known in our parts by the name of Limping Lucy. The two deformed girls had, I suppose, a kind of fellow-feeling for each other. Anyway, the Yollands and Rosanna always appeared to get on together, at the few chances they had of meeting, in a pleasant and friendly manner. The fact of Sergeant Cuff having traced the girl to THEIR cottage, set the matter of my helping his inquiries in quite a new light. Rosanna had merely gone where she was in the habit of going; and to show that she had been in company with the fisherman and his family was as good as to prove that she had been innocently occupied so far, at any rate.

It would be doing the girl a service, therefore, instead of an injury, if I allowed myself to be convinced by Sergeant Cuff’s logic. We went on to Cobb’s Hole, seeing the footsteps on the sand, as long as the light lasted. On reaching the cottage, the fisherman and his son proved to be out in the boat; and Limping Lucy, always weak and weary, was resting on her bed up-stairs. When she heard that Sergeant Cuff was a celebrated character in London, she clapped a bottle of Dutch gin and a couple of clean pipes on the table, and stared as if she could never see enough of him. I sat quiet in a corner, waiting to hear how the Sergeant would find his way to the subject of Rosanna Spearman. How he managed it is more than I could tell at the time, and more than I can tell now. But this is certain, he began with the Royal Family, the Primitive Methodists, and the price of fish; and he got from that (in his dismal, underground way) to the loss of the Moonstone, the spitefulness of our first house-maid, and the hard behaviour of the women-servants generally towards Rosanna Spearman. Having reached his subject in this fashion, he described himself as making his inquiries about the lost Diamond, partly with a view to find it, and partly for the purpose of clearing Rosanna from the unjust suspicions of her enemies in the house.

In about a quarter of an hour from the time when we entered the kitchen, good Mrs. Yolland was persuaded that she was talking to Rosanna’s best friend, and was pressing Sergeant Cuff to comfort his stomach and revive his spirits out of the Dutch bottle. Being firmly persuaded that the Sergeant was wasting his breath to no purpose on Mrs. Yolland, I sat enjoying the talk between them, much as I have sat, in my time, enjoying a stage play. The great Cuff showed a wonderful patience; trying his luck drearily this way and that way, and firing shot after shot, as it were, at random, on the chance of hitting the mark. Yolland talking nineteen to the dozen, and placing the most entire confidence in him. “I shall now wish you good-night, ma’am,” says the Sergeant. Yolland out of the Yorkshire language into the English language. When I tell you that the all-accomplished Cuff was every now and then puzzled to understand her until I helped him, you will draw your own conclusions as to what your state of mind would be if I reported her in her native tongue.) Rosanna Spearman going to leave us! It seemed strange, to say the least of it, that she should have given no warning, in the first place, to my lady or to me.

A certain doubt came up in my mind whether Sergeant Cuff’s last random shot might not have hit the mark. I began to question whether my share in the proceedings was quite as harmless a one as I had thought it. It might be all in the way of the Sergeant’s business to mystify an honest woman by wrapping her round in a network of lies but it was my duty to have remembered, as a good Protestant, that the father of lies is the Devil--and that mischief and the Devil are never far apart. Beginning to smell mischief in the air, I tried to take Sergeant Cuff out. He sat down again instantly, and asked for a little drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle. I went on to the door, excessively uncomfortable, and said I thought I must bid them good-night--and yet I didn’t go. “So she means to leave?” says the Sergeant. The poor creature has got no friends in the world, except you and me.” “Ah, but she has though!” says Mrs. It’s the only room in our place where there’s pen and ink. ‘I want to write a letter to a friend,’ she says ‘and I can’t do it for the prying and peeping of the servants up at the house.’ Who the letter was written to I can’t tell you: it must have been a mortal long one, judging by the time she stopped up-stairs over it.

She hadn’t got the letter in her hand, and she didn’t accept the stamp. But a friend she has got somewhere, I can tell you; and to that friend you may depend upon it, she will go.” “Soon?” asked the Sergeant. Here I stepped in again from the door.

“If she had been going to leave her present situation, she would have mentioned it, in the first place, to me.” “Mistaken?” cries Mrs. And that reminds me,” says the wearisome woman, suddenly beginning to feel in her pocket, “of something I have got it on my mind to say about Rosanna and her money. Are you either of you likely to see her when you go back to the house?” “I’ll take a message to the poor thing, with the greatest pleasure,” answered Sergeant Cuff, before I could put in a word edgewise. Yolland produced out of her pocket, a few shillings and sixpences, and counted them out with a most particular and exasperating carefulness in the palm of her hand. She offered the money to the Sergeant, looking mighty loth to part with it all the while.

“She insisted on paying me for the one or two things she took a fancy to this evening--and money’s welcome enough in our house, I don’t deny it.

Still, I’m not easy in my mind about taking the poor thing’s little savings.

And to tell you the truth, I don’t think my man would like to hear that I had taken Rosanna Spearman’s money, when he comes back to-morrow morning from his work. Please say she’s heartily welcome to the things she bought of me--as a gift. And don’t leave the money on the table,” says Mrs. Yolland, putting it down suddenly before the Sergeant, as if it burnt her fingers--“don’t, there’s a good man! For times are hard, and flesh is weak; and I MIGHT feel tempted to put it back in my pocket again.” “Come along!” I said, “I can’t wait any longer: I must go back to the house.” “I’ll follow you directly,” says Sergeant Cuff. For the second time, I went to the door; and, for the second time, try as I might, I couldn’t cross the threshold. “It’s a delicate matter, ma’am,” I heard the Sergeant say, “giving money back.

You charged her cheap for the things, I’m sure?” “Cheap!” says Mrs. “Come and judge for yourself.” She took up the candle and led the Sergeant to a corner of the kitchen. For the life of me, I couldn’t help following them. Shaken down in the corner was a heap of odds and ends (mostly old metal), which the fisherman had picked up at different times from wrecked ships, and which he hadn’t found a market for yet, to his own mind. Yolland dived into this rubbish, and brought up an old japanned tin case, with a cover to it, and a hasp to hang it up by--the sort of thing they use, on board ship, for keeping their maps and charts, and such-like, from the wet. “There!” says she. “When Rosanna came in this evening, she bought the fellow to that.

‘It will just do,’ she says, ‘to put my cuffs and collars in, and keep them from being crumpled in my box.’ One and ninepence, Mr. As I live by bread, not a halfpenny more!” “Dirt cheap!” says the Sergeant, with a heavy sigh.

He weighed the case in his hand. I thought I heard a note or two of “The Last Rose of Summer” as he looked at it. There was no doubt now! He had made another discovery to the prejudice of Rosanna Spearman, in the place of all others where I thought her character was safest, and all through me! I leave you to imagine what I felt, and how sincerely I repented having been the medium of introduction between Mrs. “We really must go.” Without paying the least attention to me, Mrs.

Yolland took another dive into the rubbish, and came up out of it, this time, with a dog-chain. “Weigh it in your hand, sir,” she said to the Sergeant. “We had three of these; and Rosanna has taken two of them. ‘If I join them together they’ll do round my box nicely,’ says she. There! On the word of an honest woman, three and sixpence, Mr. Cuff!” “Each?” says the Sergeant. “Both together!” says Mrs.

“Three and sixpence for the two.” “Given away, ma’am,” says the Sergeant, shaking his head. “Clean given away!” “There’s the money,” says Mrs. Yolland, getting back sideways to the little heap of silver on the table, as if it drew her in spite of herself. “The tin case and the dog chains were all she bought, and all she took away. With my love and respects--and I can’t find it in my conscience to take a poor girl’s savings, when she may want them herself.” “I can’t find it in MY conscience, ma’am, to give the money back,” says Sergeant Cuff. “You have as good as made her a present of the things--you have indeed.” “Is that your sincere opinion, sir?” says Mrs. “There can’t be a doubt about it,” answered the Sergeant. All they got out of ME was, “Good-night.” “Bother the money!” says Mrs. With these words, she appeared to lose all command over herself; and, making a sudden snatch at the heap of silver, put it back, holus-bolus, in her pocket.

“It upsets one’s temper, it does, to see it lying there, and nobody taking it,” cries this unreasonable woman, sitting down with a thump, and looking at Sergeant Cuff, as much as to say, “It’s in my pocket again now--get it out if you can!” This time, I not only went to the door, but went fairly out on the road back. Explain it how you may, I felt as if one or both of them had mortally offended me. Before I had taken three steps down the village, I heard the Sergeant behind me. “I am indebted to the fisherman’s wife for an entirely new sensation. Yolland has puzzled me.” It was on the tip of my tongue to have given him a sharp answer, for no better reason than this--that I was out of temper with him, because I was out of temper with myself. But when he owned to being puzzled, a comforting doubt crossed my mind whether any great harm had been done after all. “Yes,” says the Sergeant, as if he was actually reading my thoughts in the dark. “Instead of putting me on the scent, it may console you to know, Mr. Betteredge (with your interest in Rosanna), that you have been the means of throwing me off.

What the girl has done, to-night, is clear enough, of course. She has joined the two chains, and has fastened them to the hasp in the tin case. She has sunk the case, in the water or in the quicksand. She has made the loose end of the chain fast to some place under the rocks, known only to herself. And she will leave the case secure at its anchorage till the present proceedings have come to an end; after which she can privately pull it up again out of its hiding-place, at her own leisure and convenience. But,” says the Sergeant, with the first tone of impatience in his voice that I had heard yet, “the mystery is--what the devil has she hidden in the tin case?” I thought to myself, “The Moonstone!” But I only said to Sergeant Cuff, “Can’t you guess?” “It’s not the Diamond,” says the Sergeant. “The whole experience of my life is at fault, if Rosanna Spearman has got the Diamond.” On hearing those words, the infernal detective-fever began, I suppose, to burn in me again. At any rate, I forgot myself in the interest of guessing this new riddle. I said rashly, “The stained dress!” Sergeant Cuff stopped short in the dark, and laid his hand on my arm. “Is anything thrown into that quicksand of yours, ever thrown up on the surface again?” he asked.

“Light or heavy whatever goes into the Shivering Sand is sucked down, and seen no more.” “Does Rosanna Spearman know that?” “She knows it as well as I do.” “Then,” says the Sergeant, “what on earth has she got to do but to tie up a bit of stone in the stained dress and throw it into the quicksand? There isn’t the shadow of a reason why she should have hidden it--and yet she must have hidden it. Query,” says the Sergeant, walking on again, “is the paint-stained dress a petticoat or a night-gown? or is it something else which there is a reason for preserving at any risk? Betteredge, if nothing occurs to prevent it, I must go to Frizinghall to-morrow, and discover what she bought in the town, when she privately got the materials for making the substitute dress. It’s a risk to leave the house, as things are now--but it’s a worse risk still to stir another step in this matter in the dark. Excuse my being a little out of temper; I’m degraded in my own estimation--I have let Rosanna Spearman puzzle me.” When we got back, the servants were at supper. The first person we saw in the outer yard was the policeman whom Superintendent Seegrave had left at the Sergeant’s disposal. The Sergeant asked if Rosanna Spearman had returned. She had gone up-stairs to take off her bonnet and cloak--and she was now at supper quietly with the rest.

Without making any remark, Sergeant Cuff walked on, sinking lower and lower in his own estimation, to the back of the house. Missing the entrance in the dark, he went on (in spite of my calling to him) till he was stopped by a wicket-gate which led into the garden. When I joined him to bring him back by the right way, I found that he was looking up attentively at one particular window, on the bed-room floor, at the back of the house. Looking up, in my turn, I discovered that the object of his contemplation was the window of Miss Rachel’s room, and that lights were passing backwards and forwards there as if something unusual was going on. The Sergeant remained in his place, and said something about enjoying the smell of the garden at night. Just as I was turning in at the door, I heard “The Last Rose of Summer” at the wicket-gate. Sergeant Cuff had made another discovery! And my young lady’s window was at the bottom of it this time!

The latter reflection took me back again to the Sergeant, with a polite intimation that I could not find it in my heart to leave him by himself.

“Is there anything you don’t understand up there?” I added, pointing to Miss Rachel’s window.

Judging by his voice, Sergeant Cuff had suddenly risen again to the right place in his own estimation. “Suppose we are?” “If I was a Yorkshireman,” proceeded the Sergeant, taking my arm, “I would lay you an even sovereign, Mr. Betteredge, that your young lady has suddenly resolved to leave the house. If I won on that event, I should offer to lay another sovereign, that the idea has occurred to her within the last hour.” The first of the Sergeant’s guesses startled me. The second mixed itself up somehow in my head with the report we had heard from the policeman, that Rosanna Spearman had returned from the sands with in the last hour.

The two together had a curious effect on me as we went in to supper. I shook off Sergeant Cuff’s arm, and, forgetting my manners, pushed by him through the door to make my own inquiries for myself. Samuel, the footman, was the first person I met in the passage. “How long has she been waiting?” asked the Sergeant’s voice behind me.

“For the last hour, sir.” There it was again! Rosanna had come back; Miss Rachel had taken some resolution out of the common; and my lady had been waiting to see the Sergeant--all within the last hour! It was not pleasant to find these very different persons and things linking themselves together in this way. “I shouldn’t be surprised,” whispered the Sergeant over my shoulder, “if a scandal was to burst up in the house to-night. I have put the muzzle on worse family difficulties than this, in my time.” As he said the words I heard my mistress’s voice calling to us to come in. CHAPTER XVI We found my lady with no light in the room but the reading-lamp.

The shade was screwed down so as to overshadow her face. Instead of looking up at us in her usual straightforward way, she sat close at the table, and kept her eyes fixed obstinately on an open book. “Officer,” she said, “is it important to the inquiry you are conducting, to know beforehand if any person now in this house wishes to leave it?” “Most important, my lady.” “I have to tell you, then, that Miss Verinder proposes going to stay with her aunt, Mrs. She has arranged to leave us the first thing to-morrow morning.” Sergeant Cuff looked at me. “May I ask your ladyship WHEN Miss Verinder informed you that she was going to her aunt’s?” inquired the Sergeant. They say old people’s hearts are not very easily moved. “I have no claim, my lady,” says the Sergeant, “to control Miss Verinder’s actions. All I can ask you to do is to put off her departure, if possible, till later in the day. If Miss Verinder can be kept here till that time, I should wish to say two words to her--unexpectedly--before she goes.” My lady directed me to give the coachman her orders, that the carriage was not to come for Miss Rachel until two o’clock. “Have you more to say?” she asked of the Sergeant, when this had been done.

If Miss Verinder is surprised at this change in the arrangements, please not to mention Me as being the cause of putting off her journey.” My mistress lifted her head suddenly from her book as if she was going to say something--checked herself by a great effort--and, looking back again at the open page, dismissed us with a sign of her hand. “That’s a wonderful woman,” said Sergeant Cuff, when we were out in the hall again. “But for her self-control, the mystery that puzzles you, Mr. Betteredge, would have been at an end to-night.” At those words, the truth rushed at last into my stupid old head. For the moment, I suppose I must have gone clean out of my senses. I seized the Sergeant by the collar of his coat, and pinned him against the wall. “Damn you!” I cried out, “there’s something wrong about Miss Rachel--and you have been hiding it from me all this time!” Sergeant Cuff looked up at me--flat against the wall--without stirring a hand, or moving a muscle of his melancholy face. Please to remember, as some excuse for my breaking out as I did, that I had served the family for fifty years. Miss Rachel, with all her faults, had been, to my mind, the dearest and prettiest and best young mistress that ever an old servant waited on, and loved.

Betteredge,” says the Sergeant, with more kindness than I had any right to expect from him. You don’t in the least know how to do it; but I’ll overlook your awkwardness in consideration of your feelings.” He curled up at the corners of his lips, and, in his own dreary way, seemed to think he had delivered himself of a very good joke. I led him into my own little sitting-room, and closed the door. “Tell me the truth, Sergeant,” I said. “I know.” My unlucky temper began to get the better of me again. “Do you mean to tell me, in plain English,” I said, “that Miss Rachel has stolen her own Diamond?” “Yes,” says the Sergeant; “that is what I mean to tell you, in so many words. Miss Verinder has been in secret possession of the Moonstone from first to last; and she has taken Rosanna Spearman into her confidence, because she has calculated on our suspecting Rosanna Spearman of the theft. There is the whole case in a nutshell. “You shall hear my reasons to-morrow,” said the Sergeant.

“If Miss Verinder refuses to put off her visit to her aunt (which you will find Miss Verinder will do), I shall be obliged to lay the whole case before your mistress to-morrow. Let the matter rest for to-night. Betteredge, you don’t get a word more on the subject of the Moonstone out of me. There is your table spread for supper. That’s one of the many human infirmities which I always treat tenderly. If you will ring the bell, I’ll say grace. I’ll wait and see you served, and then I’ll ask you to excuse me, if I go away, and try to get the better of this by myself.” I saw him served with the best of everything--and I shouldn’t have been sorry if the best of everything had choked him. The head gardener (Mr. Begbie) came in at the same time, with his weekly account.

The Sergeant got on the subject of roses and the merits of grass walks and gravel walks immediately. I left the two together, and went out with a heavy heart. This was the first trouble I remember for many a long year which wasn’t to be blown off by a whiff of tobacco, and which was even beyond the reach of ROBINSON CRUSOE. Being restless and miserable, and having no particular room to go to, I took a turn on the terrace, and thought it over in peace and quietness by myself. I felt wretchedly old, and worn out, and unfit for my place--and began to wonder, for the first time in my life, when it would please God to take me. Going into the house to get a light to read it by, Samuel remarked that there seemed a change coming in the weather. But, now my attention was roused, I heard the dogs uneasy, and the wind moaning low. Looking up at the sky, I saw the rack of clouds getting blacker and blacker, and hurrying faster and faster over a watery moon.

Wild weather coming--Samuel was right, wild weather coming. The message from my lady informed me, that the magistrate at Frizinghall had written to remind her about the three Indians.

Early in the coming week, the rogues must needs be released, and left free to follow their own devices. If we had any more questions to ask them, there was no time to lose. Having forgotten to mention this, when she had last seen Sergeant Cuff, my mistress now desired me to supply the omission. The Indians had gone clean out of my head (as they have, no doubt, gone clean out of yours). However, I obeyed my orders on the spot, as a matter of course. I found Sergeant Cuff and the gardener, with a bottle of Scotch whisky between them, head over ears in an argument on the growing of roses. The Sergeant was so deeply interested that he held up his hand, and signed to me not to interrupt the discussion, when I came in. As far as I could understand it, the question between them was, whether the white moss rose did, or did not, require to be budded on the dog-rose to make it grow well. They appealed to me, as hotly as a couple of boys. Knowing nothing whatever about the growing of roses, I steered a middle course--just as her Majesty’s judges do, when the scales of justice bother them by hanging even to a hair.

“Gentlemen,” I remarked, “there is much to be said on both sides.” In the temporary lull produced by that impartial sentence, I laid my lady’s written message on the table, under the eyes of Sergeant Cuff. I had got by this time, as nearly as might be, to hate the Sergeant. In half a minute after he had read the message, he had looked back into his memory for Superintendent Seegrave’s report; had picked out that part of it in which the Indians were concerned; and was ready with his answer. A certain great traveller, who understood the Indians and their language, had figured in Mr. Did I know the gentleman’s name and address?

Would I write them on the back of my lady’s message? Sergeant Cuff would look that gentleman up, when he went to Frizinghall in the morning. “Superintendent Seegrave found the Indians as innocent as the babe unborn.” “Superintendent Seegrave has been proved wrong, up to this time, in all his conclusions,” answered the Sergeant. “It may be worth while to find out to-morrow whether Superintendent Seegrave was wrong about the Indians as well.” With that he turned to Mr. Begbie, and took up the argument again exactly at the place where it had left off. Now let me put it to you from another point of view. You take your white moss rose----” By that time, I had closed the door on them, and was out of hearing of the rest of the dispute. In the passage, I met Penelope hanging about, and asked what she was waiting for. She was waiting for her young lady’s bell, when her young lady chose to call her back to go on with the packing for the next day’s journey. Further inquiry revealed to me, that Miss Rachel had given it as a reason for wanting to go to her aunt at Frizinghall, that the house was unendurable to her, and that she could bear the odious presence of a policeman under the same roof with herself no longer.

On being informed, half an hour since, that her departure would be delayed till two in the afternoon, she had flown into a violent passion. My lady, present at the time, had severely rebuked her, and then (having apparently something to say, which was reserved for her daughter’s private ear) had sent Penelope out of the room. My girl was in wretchedly low spirits about the changed state of things in the house. “Nothing goes right, father; nothing is like what it used to be. Penelope ran up the back stairs to go on with the packing. I went by the other way to the hall, to see what the glass said about the change in the weather. Just as I approached the swing-door leading into the hall from the servants’ offices, it was violently opened from the other side, and Rosanna Spearman ran by me, with a miserable look of pain in her face, and one of her hands pressed hard over her heart, as if the pang was in that quarter. “What’s the matter, my girl?” I asked, stopping her.

“Are you ill?” “For God’s sake, don’t speak to me,” she answered, and twisted herself out of my hands, and ran on towards the servants’ staircase. I called to the cook (who was within hearing) to look after the poor girl. Two other persons proved to be within hearing, as well as the cook. Sergeant Cuff darted softly out of my room, and asked what was the matter. Franklin, on the other side, pulled open the swing-door, and beckoning me into the hall, inquired if I had seen anything of Rosanna Spearman.

“She has just passed me, sir, with a very disturbed face, and in a very odd manner.” “I am afraid I am innocently the cause of that disturbance, Betteredge.” “You, sir!” “I can’t explain it,” says Mr. Franklin; “but, if the girl IS concerned in the loss of the Diamond, I do really believe she was on the point of confessing everything--to me, of all the people in the world--not two minutes since.” Looking towards the swing-door, as he said those last words, I fancied I saw it opened a little way from the inner side. Was there anybody listening? The door fell to, before I could get to it. Looking through, the moment after, I thought I saw the tails of Sergeant Cuff’s respectable black coat disappearing round the corner of the passage. He knew, as well as I did, that he could expect no more help from me, now that I had discovered the turn which his investigations were really taking. Under those circumstances, it was quite in his character to help himself, and to do it by the underground way. Not feeling sure that I had really seen the Sergeant--and not desiring to make needless mischief, where, Heaven knows, there was mischief enough going on already--I told Mr. Franklin that I thought one of the dogs had got into the house--and then begged him to describe what had happened between Rosanna and himself. “Were you passing through the hall, sir?” I asked.

Franklin pointed to the billiard-table. “I was knocking the balls about,” he said, “and trying to get this miserable business of the Diamond out of my mind. I happened to look up--and there stood Rosanna Spearman at the side of me, like a ghost! I had no wish to invite the girl’s confidence. At the same time, in the difficulties that now beset us, I could hardly feel justified in refusing to listen to her, if she was really bent on speaking to me. Is there anything you want me to do?’ Mind, Betteredge, I didn’t speak unkindly! The poor girl can’t help being ugly--I felt that, at the time. The cue was still in my hand, and I went on knocking the balls about, to take off the awkwardness of the thing. ‘He looks at the billiard balls,’ I heard her say. ‘Anything rather than look at me!’ Before I could stop her, she had left the hall.

I have been a little hard on her, perhaps, in my own thoughts--I have almost hoped that the loss of the Diamond might be traced to her. Not from any ill-will to the poor girl: but----” He stopped there, and going back to the billiard-table, began to knock the balls about once more. After what had passed between the Sergeant and me, I knew what it was that he had left unspoken as well as he knew it himself. Nothing but the tracing of the Moonstone to our second housemaid could now raise Miss Rachel above the infamous suspicion that rested on her in the mind of Sergeant Cuff. If Rosanna had done nothing to compromise herself, the hope which Mr. But this was not the case. And she had been at the Shivering Sand, that evening, under circumstances which were highly suspicious, to say the least of them. For all these reasons (sorry as I was for Rosanna) I could not but think that Mr. Franklin’s way of looking at the matter was neither unnatural nor unreasonable, in Mr.

“But there is just a chance--a very poor one, certainly--that Rosanna’s conduct may admit of some explanation which we don’t see at present. Tell the poor creature what I told you to tell her. And if she wants to speak to me--I don’t care whether I get into a scrape or not--send her to me in the library.” With those kind words he laid down the cue and left me. Inquiry at the servants’ offices informed me that Rosanna had retired to her own room. Here, therefore, was an end of any confession on her part (supposing she really had a confession to make) for that night. I reported the result to Mr. Franklin, who, thereupon, left the library, and went up to bed. I was putting the lights out, and making the windows fast, when Samuel came in with news of the two guests whom I had left in my room. The argument about the white moss rose had apparently come to an end at last. The gardener had gone home, and Sergeant Cuff was nowhere to be found in the lower regions of the house.

Quite true--nothing was to be discovered there but a couple of empty tumblers and a strong smell of hot grog.

Had the Sergeant gone of his own accord to the bed-chamber that was prepared for him? After reaching the second landing, I thought I heard a sound of quiet and regular breathing on my left-hand side. My left-hand side led to the corridor which communicated with Miss Rachel’s room. I looked in, and there, coiled up on three chairs placed right across the passage--there, with a red handkerchief tied round his grizzled head, and his respectable black coat rolled up for a pillow, lay and slept Sergeant Cuff! He woke, instantly and quietly, like a dog, the moment I approached him. “And mind, if you ever take to growing roses, the white moss rose is all the better for not being budded on the dog-rose, whatever the gardener may say to the contrary!” “What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Why are you not in your proper bed?” “I am not in my proper bed,” answered the Sergeant, “because I am one of the many people in this miserable world who can’t earn their money honestly and easily at the same time. There was a coincidence, this evening, between the period of Rosanna Spearman’s return from the Sands and the period when Miss Verinder stated her resolution to leave the house. The two must have communicated privately once already to-night. If they try to communicate again, when the house is quiet, I want to be in the way, and stop it. Betteredge--blame the Diamond.” “I wish to God the Diamond had never found its way into this house!” I broke out. Sergeant Cuff looked with a rueful face at the three chairs on which he had condemned himself to pass the night. CHAPTER XVII Nothing happened in the night; and (I am happy to add) no attempt at communication between Miss Rachel and Rosanna rewarded the vigilance of Sergeant Cuff.

I had expected the Sergeant to set off for Frizinghall the first thing in the morning. I left him to his own devices; and going into the grounds shortly after, met Mr.

Franklin on his favourite walk by the shrubbery side.

Before we had exchanged two words, the Sergeant unexpectedly joined us. “Have you anything to say to me?” was all the return he got for politely wishing Mr. “I have something to say to you, sir,” answered the Sergeant, “on the subject of the inquiry I am conducting here. You detected the turn that inquiry was really taking, yesterday. Bearing that in mind, be pleased to remember, at the same time, that I am an officer of the law acting here under the sanction of the mistress of the house.

Under these circumstances, is it, or is it not, your duty as a good citizen, to assist me with any special information which you may happen to possess?” “I possess no special information,” says Mr. Franklin; “and I have nothing to say.” “One of the female servants (I won’t mention names) spoke to you privately, sir, last night.” Once more Mr. Franklin answered, “I have nothing to say.” Standing by in silence, I thought of the movement in the swing-door on the previous evening, and of the coat-tails which I had seen disappearing down the passage. This notion had barely struck me--when who should appear at the end of the shrubbery walk but Rosanna Spearman in her own proper person! She was followed by Penelope, who was evidently trying to make her retrace her steps to the house. Franklin saw the girls as soon as I saw them. The Sergeant, with his devilish cunning, took on not to have noticed them at all. Before either Mr. Franklin or I could say a word, Sergeant Cuff struck in smoothly, with an appearance of continuing the previous conversation. “You needn’t be afraid of harming the girl, sir,” he said to Mr.

“On the contrary, I recommend you to honour me with your confidence, if you feel any interest in Rosanna Spearman.” Mr. Franklin instantly took on not to have noticed the girls either. He answered, speaking loudly on his side: “I take no interest whatever in Rosanna Spearman.” I looked towards the end of the walk. All I saw at the distance was that Rosanna suddenly turned round, the moment Mr. Instead of resisting Penelope, as she had done the moment before, she now let my daughter take her by the arm and lead her back to the house. The breakfast-bell rang as the two girls disappeared--and even Sergeant Cuff was now obliged to give it up as a bad job! If he could confuse ME, or irritate HER into breaking out, either she or I might have said something which would answer his purpose. On the spur of the moment, I saw no better way out of it than the way I took. It stopped the girl from saying anything, and it showed the Sergeant that I saw through him.

He had remembered my telling him that the girl was in love with Mr. “As to listening, sir,” I remarked (keeping the other point to myself), “we shall all be rowing in the same boat if this sort of thing goes on much longer. Prying, and peeping, and listening are the natural occupations of people situated as we are. In another day or two, Mr.

Franklin, we shall all be struck dumb together--for this reason, that we shall all be listening to surprise each other’s secrets, and all know it. The horrid mystery hanging over us in this house gets into my head like liquor, and makes me wild. I’ll take the first opportunity of making it right with Rosanna Spearman.” “You haven’t said anything to her yet about last night, have you?” Mr. “No, sir.” “Then say nothing now. I had better not invite the girl’s confidence, with the Sergeant on the look-out to surprise us together. I see no way out of this business, which isn’t dreadful to think of, unless the Diamond is traced to Rosanna. And yet I can’t, and won’t, help Sergeant Cuff to find the girl out.” Unreasonable enough, no doubt. The state of things, indoors and out, while Sergeant Cuff was on his way to Frizinghall, was briefly this: Miss Rachel waited for the time when the carriage was to take her to her aunt’s, still obstinately shut up in her own room. Franklin breakfasted together.

I was the only person who saw him go; and he told me he should be back before the Sergeant returned. The change in the weather, foreshadowed overnight, had come. It was blowing fresh, as the day got on. But though the clouds threatened more than once, the rain still held off. It was not a bad day for a walk, if you were young and strong, and could breast the great gusts of wind which came sweeping in from the sea. I attended my lady after breakfast, and assisted her in the settlement of our household accounts.

She only once alluded to the matter of the Moonstone, and that was in the way of forbidding any present mention of it between us. “Wait till that man comes back,” she said, meaning the Sergeant. “We MUST speak of it then: we are not obliged to speak of it now.” After leaving my mistress, I found Penelope waiting for me in my room. “I wish, father, you would come and speak to Rosanna,” she said. “I am very uneasy about her.” I suspected what was the matter readily enough.

But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women--if they can. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them. “I am afraid, father,” she said, “Mr. Franklin has hurt Rosanna cruelly, without intending it.” “What took Rosanna into the shrubbery walk?” I asked. If I could only have got her away before she heard those dreadful words----” “There! there!” I said, “don’t lose your head. I can’t call to mind that anything happened to alarm Rosanna.” “Nothing to alarm her, father. Franklin said he took no interest whatever in her--and, oh, he said it in such a cruel voice!” “He said it to stop the Sergeant’s mouth,” I answered. “But you see, father (though Mr.

Franklin isn’t to blame), he’s been mortifying and disappointing her for weeks and weeks past; and now this comes on the top of it all! She frightened me, father, when Mr. They seemed to turn her into stone. There was something in the way Penelope put it which silenced my superior sense. She looked cut to the heart on that occasion; and now, as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung again, poor soul, on the tender place. sad!--all the more sad because the girl had no reason to justify her, and no right to feel it. Franklin to speak to Rosanna, and this seemed the fittest time for keeping my word. We found the girl sweeping the corridor outside the bedrooms, pale and composed, and neat as ever in her modest print dress. There was certainly no object about her to look at which she had not seen already hundreds on hundreds of times. Franklin.” I thereupon put the matter in the right view before her, in the friendliest and most comforting words I could find.

My principles, in regard to the other sex, are, as you may have noticed, very severe. But somehow or other, when I come face to face with the women, my practice (I own) is not conformable. Please to thank him.” That was all the answer she made me. She went on sweeping all the time. I took away the broom as gently and as kindly as I could. Make a clean breast of it, Rosanna--make a clean breast of it!” The time had been, when my speaking to her in that way would have brought the tears into her eyes. I could see no change in them now. She was in no condition to understand the caution against speaking to him in private, which Mr.

“The way to relieve your mind is to speak to the merciful and Christian mistress who has always been kind to you.” She looked at me for a moment with a grave and steady attention, as if she was fixing what I said in her mind. Then she took the broom out of my hands and moved off with it slowly, a little way down the corridor. Betteredge.” There was no moving her--there was nothing more to be said. We left her, as we had found her, sweeping the corridor, like a woman in a dream. “This is a matter for the doctor to look into,” I said.

Candy’s illness, owing (as you may remember) to the chill he had caught on the night of the dinner-party. Candy under rather peculiar circumstances; and, right or wrong, we none of us liked him or trusted him. There were other doctors at Frizinghall. But they were strangers to our house; and Penelope doubted, in Rosanna’s present state, whether strangers might not do her more harm than good. But, remembering the heavy weight of anxiety which she already had on her mind, I hesitated to add to all the other vexations this new trouble. Still, there was a necessity for doing something. The girl’s state was, to my thinking, downright alarming--and my mistress ought to be informed of it. No one was there. I waited in vain till the clock on the front staircase struck the quarter to two. Five minutes afterwards, I heard my name called, from the drive outside the house.

I knew the voice directly. CHAPTER XVIII Going down to the front door, I met the Sergeant on the steps. It went against the grain with me, after what had passed between us, to show him that I felt any sort of interest in his proceedings. In spite of myself, however, I felt an interest that there was no resisting. My sense of dignity sank from under me, and out came the words: “What news from Frizinghall?” “I have seen the Indians,” answered Sergeant Cuff. “And I have found out what Rosanna bought privately in the town, on Thursday last. The Indians will be set free on Wednesday in next week.

There isn’t a doubt on my mind, and there isn’t a doubt on Mr. Murthwaite’s mind, that they came to this place to steal the Moonstone. Their calculations were all thrown out, of course, by what happened in the house on Wednesday night; and they have no more to do with the actual loss of the jewel than you have. Betteredge--if WE don’t find the Moonstone, THEY will.

You have not heard the last of the three jugglers yet.” Mr. Franklin came back from his walk as the Sergeant said those startling words. Governing his curiosity better than I had governed mine, he passed us without a word, and went on into the house. As for me, having already dropped my dignity, I determined to have the whole benefit of the sacrifice. “So much for the Indians,” I said. “The mystery in that quarter is thicker than ever,” he said. She bought nothing whatever at any of the other drapers’ shops, or at any milliners’ or tailors’ shops; and she bought nothing at Maltby’s but a piece of long cloth. Between twelve and three, on the Thursday morning, she must have slipped down to your young lady’s room, to settle the hiding of the Moonstone while all the rest of you were in bed.

In going back to her own room, her nightgown must have brushed the wet paint on the door. She couldn’t wash out the stain; and she couldn’t safely destroy the night-gown without first providing another like it, to make the inventory of her linen complete.” “What proves that it was Rosanna’s nightgown?” I objected. “The material she bought for making the substitute dress,” answered the Sergeant. The pinch of the question is--why, after having provided the substitute dress, does she hide the smeared nightgown, instead of destroying it?

If the girl won’t speak out, there is only one way of settling the difficulty. The hiding-place at the Shivering Sand must be searched--and the true state of the case will be discovered there.” “How are you to find the place?” I inquired. “I am sorry to disappoint you,” said the Sergeant--“but that’s a secret which I mean to keep to myself.” (Not to irritate your curiosity, as he irritated mine, I may here inform you that he had come back from Frizinghall provided with a search-warrant. His experience in such matters told him that Rosanna was in all probability carrying about her a memorandum of the hiding-place, to guide her, in case she returned to it, under changed circumstances and after a lapse of time. Possessed of this memorandum, the Sergeant would be furnished with all that he could desire.) “Now, Mr.

Where is Joyce?” Joyce was the Frizinghall policeman, who had been left by Superintendent Seegrave at Sergeant Cuff’s disposal. The clock struck two, as he put the question; and, punctual to the moment, the carriage came round to take Miss Rachel to her aunt’s. “One thing at a time,” said the Sergeant, stopping me as I was about to send in search of Joyce. “I must attend to Miss Verinder first.” As the rain was still threatening, it was the close carriage that had been appointed to take Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. Sergeant Cuff beckoned Samuel to come down to him from the rumble behind. “You will see a friend of mine waiting among the trees, on this side of the lodge gate,” he said. “My friend, without stopping the carriage, will get up into the rumble with you. Otherwise, you will get into trouble.” With that advice, he sent the footman back to his place.

It was plain, to my mind, that Miss Rachel was to be privately kept in view from the time when she left our house--if she did leave it. A spy behind her in the rumble of her mother’s carriage! The first person to come out of the house was my lady. She stood aside, on the top step, posting herself there to see what happened. Not a word did she say, either to the Sergeant or to me. With her lips closed, and her arms folded in the light garden cloak which she had wrapped round her on coming into the air, there she stood, as still as a statue, waiting for her daughter to appear. In a minute more, Miss Rachel came downstairs--very nicely dressed in some soft yellow stuff, that set off her dark complexion, and clipped her tight (in the form of a jacket) round the waist. Her little ears were like rosy shells--they had a pearl dangling from each of them. She came swiftly out to us, as straight as a lily on its stem, and as lithe and supple in every movement she made as a young cat.

Her eyes were brighter and fiercer than I liked to see; and her lips had so completely lost their colour and their smile that I hardly knew them again. She kissed her mother in a hasty and sudden manner on the cheek. She said, “Try to forgive me, mamma”--and then pulled down her veil over her face so vehemently that she tore it. In another moment she had run down the steps, and had rushed into the carriage as if it was a hiding-place. He put Samuel back, and stood before Miss Rachel, with the open carriage-door in his hand, at the instant when she settled herself in her place.

“I want to say one word to you, miss,” answered the Sergeant, “before you go. I can only venture to say that your leaving us, as things are now, puts an obstacle in the way of my recovering your Diamond. Please to understand that; and now decide for yourself whether you go or stay.” Miss Rachel never even answered him. “Drive on, James!” she called out to the coachman. Without another word, the Sergeant shut the carriage-door.

Franklin came running down the steps. The coachman, not knowing what to do, looked towards my lady, still standing immovable on the top step. My lady, with anger and sorrow and shame all struggling together in her face, made him a sign to start the horses, and then turned back hastily into the house.

Franklin, recovering the use of his speech, called after her, as the carriage drove off, “Aunt! Then, as if distrusting herself, waved her hand kindly. Franklin, turning to me, with the tears in his eyes. “Get me away to the train as soon as you can!” He too went his way into the house.

For the moment, Miss Rachel had completely unmanned him. Sergeant Cuff and I were left face to face, at the bottom of the steps. The Sergeant stood with his face set towards a gap in the trees, commanding a view of one of the windings of the drive which led from the house. He had his hands in his pockets, and he was softly whistling “The Last Rose of Summer” to himself. “There’s a time for everything,” I said savagely enough.

“This isn’t a time for whistling.” At that moment, the carriage appeared in the distance, through the gap, on its way to the lodge-gate. There was another man, besides Samuel, plainly visible in the rumble behind.

“All right!” said the Sergeant to himself. I sent one of the stable-boys to look for him. “You heard what I said to Miss Verinder?” remarked the Sergeant, while we were waiting. I tell her plainly that her leaving us will be an obstacle in the way of my recovering her Diamond--and she leaves, in the face of that statement!

Your young lady has got a travelling companion in her mother’s carriage, Mr. Betteredge--and the name of it is, the Moonstone.” I said nothing. The stable-boy came back, followed--very unwillingly, as it appeared to me--by Joyce. But somehow or other----” “Before I went to Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, cutting him short, “I told you to keep your eyes on Rosanna Spearman, without allowing her to discover that she was being watched. Do you mean to tell me that you have let her give you the slip?” “I am afraid, sir,” says Joyce, beginning to tremble, “that I was perhaps a little TOO careful not to let her discover me.

There are such a many passages in the lower parts of this house----” “How long is it since you missed her?” “Nigh on an hour since, sir.” “You can go back to your regular business at Frizinghall,” said the Sergeant, speaking just as composedly as ever, in his usual quiet and dreary way. Good morning.” The man slunk off. I find it very difficult to describe how I was affected by the discovery that Rosanna Spearman was missing. I seemed to be in fifty different minds about it, all at the same time. Betteredge,” said the Sergeant, as if he had discovered the uppermost thought in me, and was picking it out to be answered, before all the rest. As long as I know where Miss Verinder is, I have the means at my disposal of tracing Miss Verinder’s accomplice. I prevented them from communicating last night.

They will get together at Frizinghall, instead of getting together here.

The present inquiry must be simply shifted (rather sooner than I had anticipated) from this house, to the house at which Miss Verinder is visiting. In the meantime, I’m afraid I must trouble you to call the servants together again.” I went round with him to the servants’ hall. It is very disgraceful, but it is not the less true, that I had another attack of the detective-fever, when he said those last words. I seized him confidentially by the arm. I said, “For goodness’ sake, tell us what you are going to do with the servants now?” The great Cuff stood stock still, and addressed himself in a kind of melancholy rapture to the empty air. “If this man,” said the Sergeant (apparently meaning me), “only understood the growing of roses he would be the most completely perfect character on the face of creation!” After that strong expression of feeling, he sighed, and put his arm through mine.

She has either gone direct to Frizinghall (before I can get there), or she has gone first to visit her hiding-place at the Shivering Sand. The first thing to find out is, which of the servants saw the last of her before she left the house.” On instituting this inquiry, it turned out that the last person who had set eyes on Rosanna was Nancy, the kitchenmaid. Nancy had seen her slip out with a letter in her hand, and stop the butcher’s man who had just been delivering some meat at the back door. Nancy had heard her ask the man to post the letter when he got back to Frizinghall. The man had looked at the address, and had said it was a roundabout way of delivering a letter directed to Cobb’s Hole, to post it at Frizinghall--and that, moreover, on a Saturday, which would prevent the letter from getting to its destination until Monday morning, Rosanna had answered that the delivery of the letter being delayed till Monday was of no importance. The only thing she wished to be sure of was that the man would do what she told him. The man had promised to do it, and had driven away.

Nancy had been called back to her work in the kitchen. And no other person had seen anything afterwards of Rosanna Spearman. “Well,” says the Sergeant. “I must go to Frizinghall.” “About the letter, sir?” “Yes. The memorandum of the hiding-place is in that letter.

I must see the address at the post-office. If it is the address I suspect, I shall pay our friend, Mrs. Yolland, another visit on Monday next.” I went with the Sergeant to order the pony-chaise. In the stable-yard we got a new light thrown on the missing girl. CHAPTER XIX The news of Rosanna’s disappearance had, as it appeared, spread among the out-of-door servants. They too had made their inquiries; and they had just laid hands on a quick little imp, nicknamed “Duffy”--who was occasionally employed in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna Spearman as lately as half-an-hour since.

Duffy was certain that the girl had passed him in the fir-plantation, not walking, but RUNNING, in the direction of the sea-shore. “Does this boy know the coast hereabouts?” asked Sergeant Cuff. “He has been born and bred on the coast,” I answered. “Duffy!” says the Sergeant, “do you want to earn a shilling? Keep the pony-chaise ready, Mr. Betteredge, till I come back.” He started for the Shivering Sand, at a rate that my legs (though well enough preserved for my time of life) had no hope of matching.

Little Duffy, as the way is with the young savages in our parts when they are in high spirits, gave a howl, and trotted off at the Sergeant’s heels. Here again, I find it impossible to give anything like a clear account of the state of my mind in the interval after Sergeant Cuff had left us. I did a dozen different needless things in and out of the house, not one of which I can now remember. I don’t even know how long it was after the Sergeant had gone to the sands, when Duffy came running back with a message for me. Sergeant Cuff had given the boy a leaf torn out of his pocket-book, on which was written in pencil, “Send me one of Rosanna Spearman’s boots, and be quick about it.” I despatched the first woman-servant I could find to Rosanna’s room; and I sent the boy back to say that I myself would follow him with the boot. This, I am well aware, was not the quickest way to take of obeying the directions which I had received. But I was resolved to see for myself what new mystification was going on before I trusted Rosanna’s boot in the Sergeant’s hands. My old notion of screening the girl, if I could, seemed to have come back on me again, at the eleventh hour.

This state of feeling (to say nothing of the detective-fever) hurried me off, as soon as I had got the boot, at the nearest approach to a run which a man turned seventy can reasonably hope to make. As I got near the shore, the clouds gathered black, and the rain came down, drifting in great white sheets of water before the wind. I heard the thunder of the sea on the sand-bank at the mouth of the bay. A little further on, I passed the boy crouching for shelter under the lee of the sand hills. Then I saw the raging sea, and the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and the driven rain sweeping over the waters like a flying garment, and the yellow wilderness of the beach with one solitary black figure standing on it--the figure of Sergeant Cuff.

He waved his hand towards the north, when he first saw me. I had a hundred questions to put to him; and not one of them would pass my lips.

He snatched the boot out of my hand, and set it in a footmark on the sand, bearing south from us as we stood, and pointing straight towards the rocky ledge called the South Spit. The mark was not yet blurred out by the rain--and the girl’s boot fitted it to a hair.

The Sergeant pointed to the boot in the footmark, without saying a word. He went on, following the footsteps down and down to where the rocks and the sand joined. The South Spit was just awash with the flowing tide; the waters heaved over the hidden face of the Shivering Sand. Now this way and now that, with an obstinate patience that was dreadful to see, Sergeant Cuff tried the boot in the footsteps, and always found it pointing the same way--straight TO the rocks.

Hunt as he might, no sign could he find anywhere of the footsteps walking FROM them. Still keeping silence, he looked again at me; and then he looked out at the waters before us, heaving in deeper and deeper over the quicksand.

I fell upon my knees on the beach. “She has been back at the hiding-place,” I heard the Sergeant say to himself. “Some fatal accident has happened to her on those rocks.” The girl’s altered looks, and words, and actions--the numbed, deadened way in which she listened to me, and spoke to me--when I had found her sweeping the corridor but a few hours since, rose up in my mind, and warned me, even as the Sergeant spoke, that his guess was wide of the dreadful truth. I tried to tell him of the fear that had frozen me up. I tried to say, “The death she has died, Sergeant, was a death of her own seeking.” No! the words wouldn’t come. The dumb trembling held me in its grip. I couldn’t feel the driving rain. I couldn’t see the rising tide. As in the vision of a dream, the poor lost creature came back before me.

I saw her again as I had seen her in the past time--on the morning when I went to fetch her into the house. I heard her again, telling me that the Shivering Sand seemed to draw her to it against her will, and wondering whether her grave was waiting for her THERE. The horror of it struck at me, in some unfathomable way, through my own child. The Sergeant kindly lifted me up, and turned me away from the sight of the place where she had perished. Looking towards the sand-hills, I saw the men-servants from out-of-doors, and the fisherman, named Yolland, all running down to us together; and all, having taken the alarm, calling out to know if the girl had been found. In the fewest words, the Sergeant showed them the evidence of the footmarks, and told them that a fatal accident must have happened to her. He then picked out the fisherman from the rest, and put a question to him, turning about again towards the sea: “Tell me,” he said. “Could a boat have taken her off, in such weather as this, from those rocks where her footmarks stop?” The fisherman pointed to the rollers tumbling in on the sand-bank, and to the great waves leaping up in clouds of foam against the headlands on either side of us. “No boat that ever was built,” he answered, “could have got to her through THAT.” Sergeant Cuff looked for the last time at the foot-marks on the sand, which the rain was now fast blurring out.

“There,” he said, “is the evidence that she can’t have left this place by land.

And here,” he went on, looking at the fisherman, “is the evidence that she can’t have got away by sea.” He stopped, and considered for a minute. “She was seen running towards this place, half an hour before I got here from the house,” he said to Yolland. “Some time has passed since then. Call it, altogether, an hour ago. How high would the water be, at that time, on this side of the rocks?” He pointed to the south side--otherwise, the side which was not filled up by the quicksand. “As the tide makes to-day,” said the fisherman, “there wouldn’t have been water enough to drown a kitten on that side of the Spit, an hour since.” Sergeant Cuff turned about northward, towards the quicksand.

“The Shivering Sand would have been just awash, and no more.” The Sergeant turned to me, and said that the accident must have happened on the side of the quicksand. The rest of them crowded round. The Sergeant recovered himself instantly.

He put them back from me; he said I was an old man; he said the discovery had shaken me; he said, “Let him alone a little.” Then he turned to Yolland, and asked, “Is there any chance of finding her, when the tide ebbs again?” And Yolland answered, “None. What the Sand gets, the Sand keeps for ever.” Having said that, the fisherman came a step nearer, and addressed himself to me. Betteredge,” he said, “I have a word to say to you about the young woman’s death. Four foot out, broadwise, along the side of the Spit, there’s a shelf of rock, about half fathom down under the sand. If she slipped, by accident, from off the Spit, she fell in where there’s foothold at the bottom, at a depth that would barely cover her to the waist. She must have waded out, or jumped out, into the Deeps beyond--or she wouldn’t be missing now. The Deeps of the Quicksand have got her. And they have got her by her own act.” After that testimony from a man whose knowledge was to be relied on, the Sergeant was silent. The rest of us, like him, held our peace.

With one accord, we all turned back up the slope of the beach. At the sand-hillocks we were met by the under-groom, running to us from the house. The lad is a good lad, and has an honest respect for me. “She found it in Rosanna’s room.” It was her last farewell word to the old man who had done his best--thank God, always done his best--to befriend her. When you next see the Shivering Sand, try to forgive me once more. I have lived, and died, sir, grateful for your kindness.” There was no more than that. Your tears come easy, when you’re young, and beginning the world. “It’s the dread of you, that has driven her to it.” “You are wrong, Mr. “But there will be time enough to speak of it when we are indoors again.” I followed the rest of them, with the help of the groom’s arm. Through the driving rain we went back--to meet the trouble and the terror that were waiting for us at the house.

CHAPTER XX Those in front had spread the news before us. We found the servants in a state of panic. As we passed my lady’s door, it was thrown open violently from the inner side. Franklin following, and trying vainly to compose her), quite beside herself with the horror of the thing. “You are answerable for this!” she cried out, threatening the Sergeant wildly with her hand. give that wretch his money--and release me from the sight of him!” The Sergeant was the only one among us who was fit to cope with her--being the only one among us who was in possession of himself. “If, in half an hour from this, you still insist on my leaving the house, I will accept your ladyship’s dismissal, but not your ladyship’s money.” It was spoken very respectfully, but very firmly at the same time--and it had its effect on my mistress as well as on me.

Franklin to lead her back into the room. As the door closed on the two, the Sergeant, looking about among the women-servants in his observant way, noticed that while all the rest were merely frightened, Penelope was in tears. “When your father has changed his wet clothes,” he said to her, “come and speak to us, in your father’s room.” Before the half-hour was out, I had got my dry clothes on, and had lent Sergeant Cuff such change of dress as he required. Penelope came in to us to hear what the Sergeant wanted with her. The poor dead girl must have been at the bottom of it, I think, with my daughter and with me. The Sergeant went to the window, and stood there looking out. People in high life have all the luxuries to themselves--among others, the luxury of indulging their feelings.

Penelope and I were ready for the Sergeant, as soon as the Sergeant was ready on his side. Asked next, if she had mentioned this notion of hers to any other person, Penelope answered, “I have not mentioned it, for Rosanna’s sake.” I felt it necessary to add a word to this. Let him leave the house to-day, if he does leave it, without the useless pain of knowing the truth.” Sergeant Cuff said, “Quite right,” and fell silent again; comparing Penelope’s notion (as it seemed to me) with some other notion of his own which he kept to himself. At the end of the half-hour, my mistress’s bell rang. He mentioned that her ladyship was ready to see Sergeant Cuff--in my presence as before--and he added that he himself wanted to say two words to the Sergeant first. On our way back to my room, he stopped, and looked at the railway time-table in the hall. My mistress had noticed, from the time when the police first came into the house, that the bare mention of him was enough to set Miss Rachel’s temper in a flame. He had been too fond of his cousin to like to confess this to himself, until the truth had been forced on him, when she drove off to her aunt’s. Franklin had taken his resolution--the one resolution which a man of any spirit COULD take--to leave the house.

What he had to say to the Sergeant was spoken in my presence. And he asked if Sergeant Cuff would consent--in that case--to accept his fee, and to leave the matter of the Diamond where the matter stood now.

The Sergeant answered, “No, sir. “I’ll explain myself, sir,” says the Sergeant.

“When I came here, I undertook to throw the necessary light on the matter of the missing Diamond.

When I have stated the case to Lady Verinder as the case now stands, and when I have told her plainly what course of action to take for the recovery of the Moonstone, the responsibility will be off my shoulders. Let her ladyship decide, after that, whether she does, or does not, allow me to go on. I shall then have done what I undertook to do--and I’ll take my fee.” In those words Sergeant Cuff reminded us that, even in the Detective Police, a man may have a reputation to lose. The view he took was so plainly the right one, that there was no more to be said. Franklin answered, “Not unless Lady Verinder desires it.” He added, in a whisper to me, as I was following the Sergeant out, “I know what that man is going to say about Rachel; and I am too fond of her to hear it, and keep my temper.

Leave me by myself.” I left him, miserable enough, leaning on the sill of my window, with his face hidden in his hands and Penelope peeping through the door, longing to comfort him. When you are ill-used by one woman, there is great comfort in telling it to another--because, nine times out of ten, the other always takes your side. In that case it is only doing my daughter justice to declare that she would stick at nothing, in the way of comforting Mr. In the meantime, Sergeant Cuff and I proceeded to my lady’s room. At the last conference we had held with her, we had found her not over willing to lift her eyes from the book which she had on the table. On this occasion there was a change for the better.

She met the Sergeant’s eye with an eye that was as steady as his own. The family spirit showed itself in every line of her face; and I knew that Sergeant Cuff would meet his match, when a woman like my mistress was strung up to hear the worst he could say to her. CHAPTER XXI The first words, when we had taken our seats, were spoken by my lady.

“Sergeant Cuff,” she said, “there was perhaps some excuse for the inconsiderate manner in which I spoke to you half an hour since. I say, with perfect sincerity, that I regret it, if I wronged you.” The grace of voice and manner with which she made him that atonement had its due effect on the Sergeant. It was impossible, he said, that he could be in any way responsible for the calamity, which had shocked us all, for this sufficient reason, that his success in bringing his inquiry to its proper end depended on his neither saying nor doing anything that could alarm Rosanna Spearman. He appealed to me to testify whether he had, or had not, carried that object out. And there, as I thought, the matter might have been judiciously left to come to an end. Sergeant Cuff, however, took it a step further, evidently (as you shall now judge) with the purpose of forcing the most painful of all possible explanations to take place between her ladyship and himself. “I have heard a motive assigned for the young woman’s suicide,” said the Sergeant, “which may possibly be the right one. It is a motive quite unconnected with the case which I am conducting here. I am bound to add, however, that my own opinion points the other way.

Some unbearable anxiety in connexion with the missing Diamond, has, I believe, driven the poor creature to her own destruction.

But I think (with your ladyship’s permission) I can lay my hand on a person who is capable of deciding whether I am right or wrong.” “Is the person now in the house?” my mistress asked, after waiting a little. “The person has left the house, my lady.” That answer pointed as straight to Miss Rachel as straight could be. how the wind howled, and how the rain drove at the window, as I sat there waiting for one or other of them to speak again! My mistress had her cheque-book on the table when we entered the room--no doubt to pay the Sergeant his fee. She now put it back in the drawer. It went to my heart to see how her poor hand trembled--the hand that had loaded her old servant with benefits; the hand that, I pray God, may take mine, when my time comes, and I leave my place for ever! I owe it to myself, and I owe it to my child, to insist on your remaining here, and to insist on your speaking out.” The Sergeant looked at his watch. “If there had been time, my lady,” he answered, “I should have preferred writing my report, instead of communicating it by word of mouth. I am ready to go into the matter at once.

It is a very painful matter for me to speak of, and for you to hear.” There my mistress stopped him once more. “I may possibly make it less painful to you, and to my good servant and friend here,” she said, “if I set the example of speaking boldly, on my side. You suspect Miss Verinder of deceiving us all, by secreting the Diamond for some purpose of her own? Now, before you begin, I have to tell you, as Miss Verinder’s mother, that she is ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE of doing what you suppose her to have done. My knowledge of her character dates from the beginning of her life. I am sure, beforehand, that (with all your experience) the circumstances have fatally misled you in this case. My one reason for speaking positively, is the reason you have heard already. “You may go on,” she said, facing the Sergeant again as steadily as ever. He settled himself in his chair; and he began his vile attack on Miss Rachel’s character in these words: “I must ask your ladyship,” he said, “to look this matter in the face, from my point of view as well as from yours.

The Sergeant went on: “For the last twenty years,” he said, “I have been largely employed in cases of family scandal, acting in the capacity of confidential man. The one result of my domestic practice which has any bearing on the matter now in hand, is a result which I may state in two words. It is well within my experience, that young ladies of rank and position do occasionally have private debts which they dare not acknowledge to their nearest relatives and friends. Sometimes, the milliner and the jeweller are at the bottom of it. Sometimes, the money is wanted for purposes which I don’t suspect in this case, and which I won’t shock you by mentioning. Bear in mind what I have said, my lady--and now let us see how events in this house have forced me back on my own experience, whether I liked it or not!” He considered with himself for a moment, and went on--with a horrid clearness that obliged you to understand him; with an abominable justice that favoured nobody. “My first information relating to the loss of the Moonstone,” said the Sergeant, “came to me from Superintendent Seegrave.

He proved to my complete satisfaction that he was perfectly incapable of managing the case. The one thing he said which struck me as worth listening to, was this--that Miss Verinder had declined to be questioned by him, and had spoken to him with a perfectly incomprehensible rudeness and contempt. I thought this curious--but I attributed it mainly to some clumsiness on the Superintendent’s part which might have offended the young lady. After that, I put it by in my mind, and applied myself, single-handed, to the case. It ended, as you are aware, in the discovery of the smear on the door, and in Mr. Franklin Blake’s evidence satisfying me, that this same smear, and the loss of the Diamond, were pieces of the same puzzle.

So far, if I suspected anything, I suspected that the Moonstone had been stolen, and that one of the servants might prove to be the thief. She is still violently agitated, though more than four-and-twenty hours have passed since the Diamond was lost. Under these circumstances, and with that character, what does she do?

Superintendent, and myself--otherwise, the very three people who have all, in their different ways, been trying to help her to recover her lost jewel. Having brought my inquiry to that point--THEN, my lady, and not till then, I begin to look back into my own mind for my own experience. My own experience explains Miss Verinder’s otherwise incomprehensible conduct.

It associates her with those other young ladies that I know of.

And it sets me asking myself, whether the loss of the Diamond may not mean--that the Diamond must be secretly pledged to pay them.

That is the conclusion which my experience draws from plain facts. “The circumstances have misled you.” I said nothing on my side. And all the rest of you--which is a great comfort--are, in this respect, much the same as I am.) Sergeant Cuff went on: “Right or wrong, my lady,” he said, “having drawn my conclusion, the next thing to do was to put it to the test. I suggested to your ladyship the examination of all the wardrobes in the house. It was a means of finding the article of dress which had, in all probability, made the smear; and it was a means of putting my conclusion to the test. Miss Verinder alone stopped the whole proceeding by refusing point-blank. That result satisfied me that my view was the right one.

In your hearing, I told the young lady that her leaving the house (as things were then) would put an obstacle in the way of my recovering her jewel. You saw yourselves that she drove off in the face of that statement. Blake for having done more than all the rest of you to put the clue into my hands, she publicly insulted Mr.

Blake, on the steps of her mother’s house. What do these things mean? If Miss Verinder is not privy to the suppression of the Diamond, what do these things mean?” This time he looked my way.

It was downright frightful to hear him piling up proof after proof against Miss Rachel, and to know, while one was longing to defend her, that there was no disputing the truth of what he said.

It will save you from many troubles of the vexing sort. Cultivate a superiority to reason, and see how you pare the claws of all the sensible people when they try to scratch you for your own good! how it did enrage me to notice that he was not in the least put out by our silence! “There is the case, my lady, as it stands against Miss Verinder alone,” he said.

“The next thing is to put the case as it stands against Miss Verinder and the deceased Rosanna Spearman taken together. First, as to the right method of conducting my inquiry.

Second, as to whether Miss Verinder had an accomplice among the female servants in the house. After carefully thinking it over, I determined to conduct the inquiry in, what we should call at our office, a highly irregular manner. For this reason: I had a family scandal to deal with, which it was my business to keep within the family limits. The less noise made, and the fewer strangers employed to help me, the better. As to the usual course of taking people in custody on suspicion, going before the magistrate, and all the rest of it--nothing of the sort was to be thought of, when your ladyship’s daughter was (as I believed) at the bottom of the whole business. Betteredge’s character and position in the house--knowing the servants as he did, and having the honour of the family at heart--would be safer to take as an assistant than any other person whom I could lay my hand on. Blake as well--but for one obstacle in the way. HE saw the drift of my proceedings at a very early date; and, with his interest in Miss Verinder, any mutual understanding was impossible between him and me. I trouble your ladyship with these particulars to show you that I have kept the family secret within the family circle. I am the only outsider who knows it--and my professional existence depends on holding my tongue.” Here I felt that my professional existence depended on not holding my tongue.

Her ladyship honoured me by a little friendly pat on the shoulder. I looked with righteous indignation at the Sergeant, to see what he thought of such a testimony as THAT. The Sergeant looked back like a lamb, and seemed to like me better than ever. I recognised the young woman, as your ladyship may remember, when she brought the washing-book into this room. Up to that time I was inclined to doubt whether Miss Verinder had trusted her secret to any one.

I suspected her at once of being privy to the suppression of the Diamond. The poor creature has met her death by a dreadful end, and I don’t want your ladyship to think, now she’s gone, that I was unduly hard on her. If this had been a common case of thieving, I should have given Rosanna the benefit of the doubt just as freely as I should have given it to any of the other servants in the house. Our experience of the Reformatory woman is, that when tried in service--and when kindly and judiciously treated--they prove themselves in the majority of cases to be honestly penitent, and honestly worthy of the pains taken with them. It was a case--in my mind--of a deeply planned fraud, with the owner of the Diamond at the bottom of it. Holding this view, the first consideration which naturally presented itself to me, in connection with Rosanna, was this: Would Miss Verinder be satisfied (begging your ladyship’s pardon) with leading us all to think that the Moonstone was merely lost? Or would she go a step further, and delude us into believing that the Moonstone was stolen? In the latter event there was Rosanna Spearman--with the character of a thief--ready to her hand; the person of all others to lead your ladyship off, and to lead me off, on a false scent.” Was it possible (I asked myself) that he could put his case against Miss Rachel and Rosanna in a more horrid point of view than this?

“I had another reason for suspecting the deceased woman,” he said, “which appears to me to have been stronger still. Who would be the very person to help Miss Verinder in raising money privately on the Diamond?

Your ladyship’s deceased housemaid was at the top of her profession when she was a thief. She had relations, to my certain knowledge, with one of the few men in London (in the money-lending line) who would advance a large sum on such a notable jewel as the Moonstone, without asking awkward questions, or insisting on awkward conditions. Bear this in mind, my lady; and now let me show you how my suspicions have been justified by Rosanna’s own acts, and by the plain inferences to be drawn from them.” He thereupon passed the whole of Rosanna’s proceedings under review.

You are already as well acquainted with those proceedings as I am; and you will understand how unanswerably this part of his report fixed the guilt of being concerned in the disappearance of the Moonstone on the memory of the poor dead girl. It didn’t seem to matter to the Sergeant whether he was answered or not. “Having stated the whole case as I understand it,” he said, “I have only to tell your ladyship, now, what I propose to do next. The other, I admit, is a bold experiment, and nothing more. Shall we take the certainty first?” My mistress made him a sign to take his own way, and choose for himself. “Thank you,” said the Sergeant. “We’ll begin with the certainty, as your ladyship is so good as to leave it to me. Whether Miss Verinder remains at Frizinghall, or whether she returns here, I propose, in either case, to keep a careful watch on all her proceedings--on the people she sees, on the rides and walks she may take, and on the letters she may write and receive.” “What next?” asked my mistress.

“I shall next,” answered the Sergeant, “request your ladyship’s leave to introduce into the house, as a servant in the place of Rosanna Spearman, a woman accustomed to private inquiries of this sort, for whose discretion I can answer.” “What next?” repeated my mistress. “Next,” proceeded the Sergeant, “and last, I propose to send one of my brother-officers to make an arrangement with that money-lender in London, whom I mentioned just now as formerly acquainted with Rosanna Spearman--and whose name and address, your ladyship may rely on it, have been communicated by Rosanna to Miss Verinder. I don’t deny that the course of action I am now suggesting will cost money, and consume time. But the result is certain. We run a line round the Moonstone, and we draw that line closer and closer till we find it in Miss Verinder’s possession, supposing she decides to keep it. If her debts press, and she decides on sending it away, then we have our man ready, and we meet the Moonstone on its arrival in London.” To hear her own daughter made the subject of such a proposal as this, stung my mistress into speaking angrily for the first time. “And go on to your other way of bringing the inquiry to an end.” “My other way,” said the Sergeant, going on as easy as ever, “is to try that bold experiment to which I have alluded. But she is too hot and impetuous in temper, and too little accustomed to deceit as a habit, to act the hypocrite in small things, and to restrain herself under all provocations. Her feelings, in this case, have repeatedly got beyond her control, at the very time when it was plainly her interest to conceal them.

I want to give her a great shock suddenly, under circumstances that will touch her to the quick. In plain English, I want to tell Miss Verinder, without a word of warning, of Rosanna’s death--on the chance that her own better feelings will hurry her into making a clean breast of it. She answered him on the instant: “Yes; I do.” “The pony-chaise is ready,” said the Sergeant. “I wish your ladyship good morning.” My lady held up her hand, and stopped him at the door. “But I claim the right, as her mother, of putting her to the test myself. You will remain here, if you please; and I will go to Frizinghall.” For once in his life, the great Cuff stood speechless with amazement, like an ordinary man. My mistress rang the bell, and ordered her water-proof things. It was still pouring with rain; and the close carriage had gone, as you know, with Miss Rachel to Frizinghall. I tried to dissuade her ladyship from facing the severity of the weather. I asked leave to go with her, and hold the umbrella.

The pony-chaise came round, with the groom in charge. “You may rely on two things,” she said to Sergeant Cuff, in the hall. “I will try the experiment on Miss Verinder as boldly as you could try it yourself. And I will inform you of the result, either personally or by letter, before the last train leaves for London to-night.” With that, she stepped into the chaise, and, taking the reins herself, drove off to Frizinghall. I found him sitting in a snug corner of the hall, consulting his memorandum book, and curling up viciously at the corners of the lips. “Making notes of the case?” I asked.

“No,” said the Sergeant. “You think it’s all over then, here?” “I think,” answered Sergeant Cuff, “that Lady Verinder is one of the cleverest women in England. Where is the gardener, Mr. Betteredge?” There was no getting a word more out of him on the matter of the Moonstone. He had lost all interest in his own inquiry; and he would persist in looking for the gardener. An hour afterwards, I heard them at high words in the conservatory, with the dog-rose once more at the bottom of the dispute. In the meantime, it was my business to find out whether Mr. Franklin persisted in his resolution to leave us by the afternoon train. After having been informed of the conference in my lady’s room, and of how it had ended, he immediately decided on waiting to hear the news from Frizinghall. It left him unsettled, with a legacy of idle time on his hands, and, in so doing, it let out all the foreign sides of his character, one on the top of another, like rats out of a bag.

Now as an Italian-Englishman, now as a German-Englishman, and now as a French-Englishman, he drifted in and out of all the sitting-rooms in the house, with nothing to talk of but Miss Rachel’s treatment of him; and with nobody to address himself to but me.

I found him (for example) in the library, sitting under the map of Modern Italy, and quite unaware of any other method of meeting his troubles, except the method of talking about them. “I have several worthy aspirations, Betteredge; but what am I to do with them now? I am full of dormant good qualities, if Rachel would only have helped me to bring them out!” He was so eloquent in drawing the picture of his own neglected merits, and so pathetic in lamenting over it when it was done, that I felt quite at my wits’ end how to console him, when it suddenly occurred to me that here was a case for the wholesome application of a bit of ROBINSON CRUSOE. Nobody in the library! The map of Modern Italy stared at ME; and I stared at the map of Modern Italy. I tried the drawing-room. There was his handkerchief on the floor, to prove that he had drifted in.

And there was the empty room to prove that he had drifted out again. I tried the dining-room, and discovered Samuel with a biscuit and a glass of sherry, silently investigating the empty air. Franklin had vanished before the bell downstairs had quite done ringing with the pull he had given to it. I tried the morning-room, and found him at last. There he was at the window, drawing hieroglyphics with his finger in the damp on the glass.

I might as well have addressed myself to one of the four walls of the room; he was down in the bottomless deep of his own meditations, past all pulling up. “How do YOU explain Rachel’s conduct, Betteredge?” was the only answer I received. Not being ready with the needful reply, I produced ROBINSON CRUSOE, in which I am firmly persuaded some explanation might have been found, if we had only searched long enough for it. Franklin shut up ROBINSON CRUSOE, and floundered into his German-English gibberish on the spot. “Why the devil lose your patience, Betteredge, when patience is all that’s wanted to arrive at the truth? Rachel’s conduct is perfectly intelligible, if you will only do her the common justice to take the Objective view first, and the Subjective view next, and the Objective-Subjective view to wind up with.

We know that the loss of the Moonstone, on Thursday morning last, threw her into a state of nervous excitement, from which she has not recovered yet. Do you mean to deny the Objective view, so far? Very well, then--don’t interrupt me. Now, being in a state of nervous excitement, how are we to expect that she should behave as she might otherwise have behaved to any of the people about her? We reach the Subjective view. I defy you to controvert the Subjective view. Very well then--what follows? the Objective-Subjective explanation follows, of course! Then how does it end?

Where’s the sherry?” My head was by this time in such a condition, that I was not quite sure whether it was my own head, or Mr. Franklin his sherry; I retired to my own room; and I solaced myself with the most composing pipe of tobacco I ever remember to have smoked in my life. Franklin on such easy terms as these.

Drifting again, out of the morning-room into the hall, he found his way to the offices next, smelt my pipe, and was instantly reminded that he had been simple enough to give up smoking for Miss Rachel’s sake. In the twinkling of an eye, he burst in on me with his cigar-case, and came out strong on the one everlasting subject, in his neat, witty, unbelieving, French way. Is it conceivable that a man can have smoked as long as I have without discovering that there is a complete system for the treatment of women at the bottom of his cigar-case? You throw it away and try another. Now observe the application! Throw her away, and try another!” I shook my head at that. “In the time of the late Mrs.

But the law insists on your smoking your cigar, sir, when you have once chosen it.” I pointed that observation with a wink. Franklin burst out laughing--and we were as merry as crickets, until the next new side of his character turned up in due course. So things went on with my young master and me; and so (while the Sergeant and the gardener were wrangling over the roses) we two spent the interval before the news came back from Frizinghall. The pony-chaise returned a good half hour before I had ventured to expect it. My lady had decided to remain for the present, at her sister’s house. The groom brought two letters from his mistress; one addressed to Mr. Franklin, and the other to me. Franklin’s letter I sent to him in the library--into which refuge his driftings had now taken him for the second time.

A cheque, which dropped out when I opened it, informed me (before I had mastered the contents) that Sergeant Cuff’s dismissal from the inquiry after the Moonstone was now a settled thing.

I sent to the conservatory to say that I wished to speak to the Sergeant directly. He appeared, with his mind full of the gardener and the dog-rose, declaring that the equal of Mr. Upon that he exerted himself sufficiently to notice the letter in my hand.

Betteredge?” “You shall judge for yourself, Sergeant.” I thereupon read him the letter (with my best emphasis and discretion), in the following words: “MY GOOD GABRIEL,--I request that you will inform Sergeant Cuff, that I have performed the promise I made to him; with this result, so far as Rosanna Spearman is concerned. They never met, even accidentally, on the night when the Diamond was lost; and no communication of any sort whatever took place between them, from the Thursday morning when the alarm was first raised in the house, to this present Saturday afternoon, when Miss Verinder left us. After telling my daughter suddenly, and in so many words, of Rosanna Spearman’s suicide--this is what has come of it.” Having reached that point, I looked up, and asked Sergeant Cuff what he thought of the letter, so far?

“I should only offend you if I expressed MY opinion,” answered the Sergeant. Betteredge,” he said, with the most exasperating resignation, “go on.” When I remembered that this man had had the audacity to complain of our gardener’s obstinacy, my tongue itched to “go on” in other words than my mistress’s. I proceeded steadily with her ladyship’s letter: “Having appealed to Miss Verinder in the manner which the officer thought most desirable, I spoke to her next in the manner which I myself thought most likely to impress her. On two different occasions, before my daughter left my roof, I privately warned her that she was exposing herself to suspicion of the most unendurable and most degrading kind.

I have now told her, in the plainest terms, that my apprehensions have been realised. In the first place, she owes no money privately to any living creature. In the second place, the Diamond is not now, and never has been, in her possession, since she put it into her cabinet on Wednesday night. “The confidence which my daughter has placed in me goes no further than this. She maintains an obstinate silence, when I ask her if she can explain the disappearance of the Diamond.

‘The day will come when you will know why I am careless about being suspected, and why I am silent even to you. I have done much to make my mother pity me--nothing to make my mother blush for me.’ Those are my daughter’s own words. “After what has passed between the officer and me, I think--stranger as he is--that he should be made acquainted with what Miss Verinder has said, as well as you. Read my letter to him, and then place in his hands the cheque which I enclose.

In resigning all further claim on his services, I have only to say that I am convinced of his honesty and his intelligence; but I am more firmly persuaded than ever, that the circumstances, in this case, have fatally misled him.” There the letter ended. Before presenting the cheque, I asked Sergeant Cuff if he had any remark to make. Betteredge,” he answered, “to make remarks on a case, when I have done with it.” I tossed the cheque across the table to him. The Sergeant looked at the cheque, and lifted up his dismal eyebrows in acknowledgment of her ladyship’s liberality. “This is such a generous estimate of the value of my time,” he said, “that I feel bound to make some return for it.

I’ll bear in mind the amount in this cheque, Mr. Betteredge, when the occasion comes round for remembering it.” “What do you mean?” I asked.

“Her ladyship has smoothed matters over for the present very cleverly,” said the Sergeant. “But THIS family scandal is of the sort that bursts up again when you least expect it. We shall have more detective-business on our hands, sir, before the Moonstone is many months older.” If those words meant anything, and if the manner in which he spoke them meant anything--it came to this. My mistress’s letter had proved, to his mind, that Miss Rachel was hardened enough to resist the strongest appeal that could be addressed to her, and that she had deceived her own mother (good God, under what circumstances!) by a series of abominable lies. How other people, in my place, might have replied to the Sergeant, I don’t know. I answered what he said in these plain terms: “Sergeant Cuff, I consider your last observation as an insult to my lady and her daughter!” “Mr.

Betteredge, consider it as a warning to yourself, and you will be nearer the mark.” Hot and angry as I was, the infernal confidence with which he gave me that answer closed my lips. I walked to the window to compose myself. The rain had given over; and, who should I see in the court-yard, but Mr. Begbie, the gardener, waiting outside to continue the dog-rose controversy with Sergeant Cuff. “My compliments to the Sairgent,” said Mr. Begbie, the moment he set eyes on me. “If he’s minded to walk to the station, I’m agreeable to go with him.” “What!” cries the Sergeant, behind me, “are you not convinced yet?” “The de’il a bit I’m convinced!” answered Mr.

“Then I’ll walk to the station!” says the Sergeant. “Then I’ll meet you at the gate!” says Mr. Sergeant Cuff noticed the change in me, and encouraged it by a word in season.

come!” he said, “why not treat my view of the case as her ladyship treats it? Why not say, the circumstances have fatally misled me?” To take anything as her ladyship took it was a privilege worth enjoying--even with the disadvantage of its having been offered to me by Sergeant Cuff. I regarded any other opinion of Miss Rachel, than my lady’s opinion or mine, with a lofty contempt. The only thing I could not do, was to keep off the subject of the Moonstone! My own good sense ought to have warned me, I know, to let the matter rest--but, there! the virtues which distinguish the present generation were not invented in my time. Sergeant Cuff had hit me on the raw, and, though I did look down upon him with contempt, the tender place still tingled for all that. The end of it was that I perversely led him back to the subject of her ladyship’s letter. You think Miss Rachel is not to be believed on her word; and you say we shall hear of the Moonstone again. To say you are as transparent as a child, sir, is to pay the children a compliment which nine out of ten of them don’t deserve.

There! there! I have warned you already that you haven’t done with the Moonstone yet. Now I’ll tell you, at parting, of three things which will happen in the future, and which, I believe, will force themselves on your attention, whether you like it or not.” “Go on!” I said, quite unabashed, and just as airy as ever. “First,” said the Sergeant, “you will hear something from the Yollands--when the postman delivers Rosanna’s letter at Cobb’s Hole, on Monday next.” If he had thrown a bucket of cold water over me, I doubt if I could have felt it much more unpleasantly than I felt those words. Miss Rachel’s assertion of her innocence had left Rosanna’s conduct--the making the new nightgown, the hiding the smeared nightgown, and all the rest of it--entirely without explanation. “In the second place,” proceeded the Sergeant, “you will hear of the three Indians again. You will hear of them in the neighbourhood, if Miss Rachel remains in the neighbourhood. You will hear of them in London, if Miss Rachel goes to London.” Having lost all interest in the three jugglers, and having thoroughly convinced myself of my young lady’s innocence, I took this second prophecy easily enough.

“So much for two of the three things that are going to happen,” I said. “Now for the third!” “Third, and last,” said Sergeant Cuff, “you will, sooner or later, hear something of that money-lender in London, whom I have twice taken the liberty of mentioning already.

Give me your pocket-book, and I’ll make a note for you of his name and address--so that there may be no mistake about it if the thing really happens.” He wrote accordingly on a blank leaf--“Mr. Septimus Luker, Middlesex-place, Lambeth, London.” “There,” he said, pointing to the address, “are the last words, on the subject of the Moonstone, which I shall trouble you with for the present. Time will show whether I am right or wrong. In the meanwhile, sir, I carry away with me a sincere personal liking for you, which I think does honour to both of us.

There will be grass walks, Mr. And as for the white moss rose----” “The de’il a bit ye’ll get the white moss rose to grow, unless you bud him on the dogue-rose first,” cried a voice at the window. There was the everlasting Mr. Begbie, too eager for the controversy to wait any longer at the gate. The Sergeant wrung my hand, and darted out into the court-yard, hotter still on his side. “Ask him about the moss rose, when he comes back, and see if I have left him a leg to stand on!” cried the great Cuff, hailing me through the window in his turn. “Gentlemen, both!” I answered, moderating them again as I had moderated them once already.

“In the matter of the moss rose there is a great deal to be said on both sides!” I might as well (as the Irish say) have whistled jigs to a milestone. Away they went together, fighting the battle of the roses without asking or giving quarter on either side. The last I saw of them, Mr.

Begbie was shaking his obstinate head, and Sergeant Cuff had got him by the arm like a prisoner in charge. I own I couldn’t help liking the Sergeant--though I hated him all the time. Franklin’s departure, the history of the Saturday’s events will be finished at last. And when I have next described certain strange things that happened in the course of the new week, I shall have done my part of the Story, and shall hand over the pen to the person who is appointed to follow my lead. If you are as tired of reading this narrative as I am of writing it--Lord, how we shall enjoy ourselves on both sides a few pages further on! CHAPTER XXIII I had kept the pony chaise ready, in case Mr. Franklin persisted in leaving us by the train that night.

The appearance of the luggage, followed downstairs by Mr. “So you have really made up your mind, sir?” I said, as we met in the hall. “Why not wait a day or two longer, and give Miss Rachel another chance?” The foreign varnish appeared to have all worn off Mr. Franklin, now that the time had come for saying good-bye.

Instead of replying to me in words, he put the letter which her ladyship had addressed to him into my hand.

The greater part of it said over again what had been said already in the other communication received by me. But there was a bit about Miss Rachel added at the end, which will account for the steadiness of Mr. “You will wonder, I dare say” (her ladyship wrote), “at my allowing my own daughter to keep me perfectly in the dark. A Diamond worth twenty thousand pounds has been lost--and I am left to infer that the mystery of its disappearance is no mystery to Rachel, and that some incomprehensible obligation of silence has been laid on her, by some person or persons utterly unknown to me, with some object in view at which I cannot even guess. I dare not approach the subject of the Moonstone again until time has done something to quiet her. To help this end, I have not hesitated to dismiss the police-officer.

The mystery which baffles us, baffles him too. “My plans for the future are as well settled as they can be. My present idea is to take Rachel to London--partly to relieve her mind by a complete change, partly to try what may be done by consulting the best medical advice. The valuable assistance which you rendered to the inquiry after the lost jewel is still an unpardoned offence, in the present dreadful state of Rachel’s mind. Moving blindfold in this matter, you have added to the burden of anxiety which she has had to bear, by innocently threatening her secret with discovery, through your exertions. It is impossible for me to excuse the perversity that holds you responsible for consequences which neither you nor I could imagine or foresee. I am grieved to have to say it, but for the present, you and Rachel are better apart. The only advice I can offer you is, to give her time.” I handed the letter back, sincerely sorry for Mr. Franklin, for I knew how fond he was of my young lady; and I saw that her mother’s account of her had cut him to the heart. “You know the proverb, sir,” was all I said to him.

“When things are at the worst, they’re sure to mend. Franklin, than they are now.” Mr. Franklin folded up his aunt’s letter, without appearing to be much comforted by the remark which I had ventured on addressing to him. “When I came here from London with that horrible Diamond,” he said, “I don’t believe there was a happier household in England than this. Look at the household now! Scattered, disunited--the very air of the place poisoned with mystery and suspicion! Do you remember that morning at the Shivering Sand, when we talked about my uncle Herncastle, and his birthday gift? The Moonstone has served the Colonel’s vengeance, Betteredge, by means which the Colonel himself never dreamt of!” With that he shook me by the hand, and went out to the pony chaise. I followed him down the steps. It was very miserable to see him leaving the old place, where he had spent the happiest years of his life, in this way.

Penelope (sadly upset by all that had happened in the house) came round crying, to bid him good-bye. I waved my hand as much as to say, “You’re heartily welcome, sir.” Some of the other female servants appeared, peeping after him round the corner. He was one of those men whom the women all like. At the last moment, I stopped the pony chaise, and begged as a favour that he would let us hear from him by letter. He didn’t seem to heed what I said--he was looking round from one thing to another, taking a sort of farewell of the old house and grounds. “Tell us where you are going to, sir!” I said, holding on by the chaise, and trying to get at his future plans in that way.

“Going?” says he, echoing the word after me. “I am going to the devil!” The pony started at the word, as if he had felt a Christian horror of it. It was dull and dreary enough, when the long summer evening closed in, on that Saturday night. The women (excepting Penelope) beguiled the time by talking of Rosanna’s suicide. They were all obstinately of opinion that the poor girl had stolen the Moonstone, and that she had destroyed herself in terror of being found out. Her notion of the motive which was really at the bottom of the suicide failed, oddly enough, just where my young lady’s assertion of her innocence failed also. It left Rosanna’s secret journey to Frizinghall, and Rosanna’s proceedings in the matter of the nightgown entirely unaccounted for.

There was no use in pointing this out to Penelope; the objection made about as much impression on her as a shower of rain on a waterproof coat. The truth is, my daughter inherits my superiority to reason--and, in respect to that accomplishment, has got a long way ahead of her own father. On the next day (Sunday), the close carriage, which had been kept at Mr. The coachman brought a message for me, and written instructions for my lady’s own maid and for Penelope. The message informed me that my mistress had determined to take Miss Rachel to her house in London, on the Monday.

The written instructions informed the two maids of the clothing that was wanted, and directed them to meet their mistresses in town at a given hour. Most of the other servants were to follow.

My lady had found Miss Rachel so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened in it, that she had decided on going to London direct from Frizinghall. I was to remain in the country, until further orders, to look after things indoors and out. The servants left with me were to be put on board wages. The more I thought of him, the more uneasy I felt about his future proceedings. It ended in my writing, by the Sunday’s post, to his father’s valet, Mr.

The Sunday evening was, if possible, duller even than the Saturday evening. We ended the day of rest, as hundreds of thousands of people end it regularly, once a week, in these islands--that is to say, we all anticipated bedtime, and fell asleep in our chairs. How the Monday affected the rest of the household I don’t know. The Monday gave ME a good shake up. The first of Sergeant Cuff’s prophecies of what was to happen--namely, that I should hear from the Yollands--came true on that day. I had seen Penelope and my lady’s maid off in the railway with the luggage for London, and was pottering about the grounds, when I heard my name called. Turning round, I found myself face to face with the fisherman’s daughter, Limping Lucy.

Bating her lame foot and her leanness (this last a horrid draw-back to a woman, in my opinion), the girl had some pleasing qualities in the eye of a man. A crutch appeared in the list of her misfortunes. And a temper reckoned high in the sum total of her defects. “Well, my dear,” I said, “what do you want with me?” “Where’s the man you call Franklin Blake?” says the girl, fixing me with a fierce look, as she rested herself on her crutch. “Murderer Franklin Blake would be a fitter name for him.” My practice with the late Mrs. Whenever a woman tries to put you out of temper, turn the tables, and put HER out of temper instead. They are generally prepared for every effort you can make in your own defence, but that. I looked her pleasantly in the face; and I said--“Pooh!” The girl’s temper flamed out directly.

She poised herself on her sound foot, and she took her crutch, and beat it furiously three times on the ground. He has been the death of Rosanna Spearman!” She screamed that answer out at the top of her voice.

One or two of the people at work in the grounds near us looked up--saw it was Limping Lucy--knew what to expect from that quarter--and looked away again. “He has been the death of Rosanna Spearman?” I repeated. if she had only thought of the men as I think, she might have been living now!” “She always thought kindly of ME, poor soul,” I said; “and, to the best of my ability, I always tried to act kindly by HER.” I spoke those words in as comforting a manner as I could. The truth is, I hadn’t the heart to irritate the girl by another of my smart replies. She bent her head down, and laid it on the top of her crutch. “I loved her,” the girl said softly. I had a plan for our going to London together like sisters, and living by our needles. I said, ‘No man is worth fretting for in that way.’ And she said, ‘There are men worth dying for, Lucy, and he is one of them.’ I had saved up a little money.

I had settled things with father and mother.

I meant to take her away from the mortification she was suffering here. We should have had a little lodging in London, and lived together like sisters. Her letter comes and tells me that she has done with the burden of her life. Where is he?” cries the girl, lifting her head from the crutch, and flaming out again through her tears. Betteredge, the day is not far off when the poor will rise against the rich.

I pray Heaven they may begin with HIM.

I pray Heaven they may begin with HIM.” Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual break-down, consequent on that same average Christianity being pushed too far! The parson himself (though I own this is saying a great deal) could hardly have lectured the girl in the state she was in now. All I ventured to do was to keep her to the point--in the hope of something turning up which might be worth hearing. “I want to see him.” “For anything particular?” “I have got a letter to give him.” “From Rosanna Spearman?” “Yes.” “Sent to you in your own letter?” “Yes.” Was the darkness going to lift? Were all the discoveries that I was dying to make, coming and offering themselves to me of their own accord? Certain signs and tokens, personal to myself, warned me that the detective-fever was beginning to set in again.

“I must, and will, see him.” “He went to London last night.” Limping Lucy looked me hard in the face, and saw that I was speaking the truth. Give me your letter, and I’ll send it on to him by the post.” Limping Lucy steadied herself on her crutch and looked back at me over her shoulder. “And I am to give it to him in no other way.” “Shall I write, and tell him what you have said?” “Tell him I hate him. And you will tell him the truth.” “Yes, yes. But about the letter?” “If he wants the letter, he must come back here, and get it from Me.” With those words she limped off on the way to Cobb’s Hole. The detective-fever burnt up all my dignity on the spot. Later in the day, I tried my luck with her mother. Yolland could only cry, and recommend a drop of comfort out of the Dutch bottle. I found the fisherman on the beach.

Neither father nor mother knew more than I knew. The one way left to try was the chance, which might come with the morning, of writing to Mr. I leave you to imagine how I watched for the postman on Tuesday morning. The other, from Mr. On reaching the metropolis, Mr.

Franklin had, it appeared, gone straight to his father’s residence. Blake, the elder, was up to his eyes in the business of the House of Commons, and was amusing himself at home that night with the favourite parliamentary plaything which they call “a private bill.” Mr. Franklin into his father’s study. I can listen at the end of the session, not a moment before. Good-night.” Such was the conversation, inside the study, as reported to me by Mr. The conversation outside the study, was shorter still. “Jeffco, see what time the tidal train starts to-morrow morning.” “At six-forty, Mr.

Franklin.” “Have me called at five.” “Going abroad, sir?” “Going, Jeffco, wherever the railway chooses to take me.” “Shall I tell your father, sir?” “Yes; tell him at the end of the session.” The next morning Mr. The chances were as equally divided as possible, in Mr. Jeffco’s opinion, among the four quarters of the globe. Franklin together--at once stopped any further progress of mine on the way to discovery.

Whether the letter which Rosanna had left to be given to him after her death did, or did not, contain the confession which Mr. It might be only a farewell word, telling nothing but the secret of her unhappy fancy for a person beyond her reach.

Or it might own the whole truth about the strange proceedings in which Sergeant Cuff had detected her, from the time when the Moonstone was lost, to the time when she rushed to her own destruction at the Shivering Sand. A sealed letter it had been placed in Limping Lucy’s hand, and a sealed letter it remained to me and to every one about the girl, her own parents included. We all suspected her of having been in the dead woman’s confidence; we all tried to make her speak; we all failed. Now one, and now another, of the servants--still holding to the belief that Rosanna had stolen the Diamond and had hidden it--peered and poked about the rocks to which she had been traced, and peered and poked in vain. The tide ebbed, and the tide flowed; the summer went on, and the autumn came. And the Quicksand, which hid her body, hid her secret too. The news of Mr. Franklin’s departure from England on the Sunday morning, and the news of my lady’s arrival in London with Miss Rachel on the Monday afternoon, had reached me, as you are aware, by the Tuesday’s post. The Wednesday came, and brought nothing.

The Thursday produced a second budget of news from Penelope. Flower-shows, operas, balls--there was a whole round of gaieties in prospect; and Miss Rachel, to her mother’s astonishment, eagerly took to it all. Godfrey had called; evidently as sweet as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception he had met with, when he tried his luck on the occasion of the birthday. To Penelope’s great regret, he had been most graciously received, and had added Miss Rachel’s name to one of his Ladies’ Charities on the spot.

Certain speculations followed, referring to a poor relation of the family--one Miss Clack, whom I have mentioned in my account of the birthday dinner, as sitting next to Mr. She would surely not be long before she fastened herself on my lady as usual--and so forth, and so forth, in the way women have of girding at each other, on and off paper. In that case, just do me the favour of not believing a word she says, if she speaks of your humble servant. On Friday, nothing happened--except that one of the dogs showed signs of a breaking out behind the ears. I gave him a dose of syrup of buckthorn, and put him on a diet of pot-liquor and vegetables till further orders. I am fast coming to the end of my offences against your cultivated modern taste. Besides, the dog was a good creature, and deserved a good physicking; he did indeed. Saturday, the last day of the week, is also the last day in my narrative. The morning’s post brought me a surprise in the shape of a London newspaper. The handwriting on the direction puzzled me.

I compared it with the money-lender’s name and address as recorded in my pocket-book, and identified it at once as the writing of Sergeant Cuff.

Looking through the paper eagerly enough, after this discovery, I found an ink-mark drawn round one of the police reports. Read it as I read it, and you will set the right value on the Sergeant’s polite attention in sending me the news of the day: “LAMBETH--Shortly before the closing of the court, Mr. Septimus Luker, the well-known dealer in ancient gems, carvings, intagli, &c., &c., applied to the sitting magistrate for advice. The applicant stated that he had been annoyed, at intervals throughout the day, by the proceedings of some of those strolling Indians who infest the streets. The persons complained of were three in number. After having been sent away by the police, they had returned again and again, and had attempted to enter the house on pretence of asking for charity. Warned off in the front, they had been discovered again at the back of the premises.

Besides the annoyance complained of, Mr. His collection contained many unique gems, both classical and Oriental, of the highest value. He had only the day before been compelled to dismiss a skilled workman in ivory carving from his employment (a native of India, as we understood), on suspicion of attempted theft; and he felt by no means sure that this man and the street jugglers of whom he complained, might not be acting in concert. It might be their object to collect a crowd, and create a disturbance in the street, and, in the confusion thus caused, to obtain access to the house. In reply to the magistrate, Mr. He could speak positively to the annoyance and interruption caused by the Indians, but not to anything else. The magistrate remarked that, if the annoyance were repeated, the applicant could summon the Indians to that court, where they might easily be dealt with under the Act.

As to the valuables in Mr. Luker himself must take the best measures for their safe custody. He would do well perhaps to communicate with the police, and to adopt such additional precautions as their experience might suggest.

The applicant thanked his worship, and withdrew.” One of the wise ancients is reported (I forget on what occasion) as having recommended his fellow-creatures to “look to the end.” Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and wondering for some days past how I should manage to write it, I find my plain statement of facts coming to a conclusion, most appropriately, of its own self. We have gone on, in this matter of the Moonstone, from one marvel to another; and here we end with the greatest marvel of all--namely, the accomplishment of Sergeant Cuff’s three predictions in less than a week from the time when he had made them. After hearing from the Yollands on the Monday, I had now heard of the Indians, and heard of the money-lender, in the news from London--Miss Rachel herself remember, being also in London at the time.

You see, I put things at their worst, even when they tell dead against my own view. If you desert me, and side with the Sergeant, on the evidence before you--if the only rational explanation you can see is, that Miss Rachel and Mr. Luker must have got together, and that the Moonstone must be now in pledge in the money-lender’s house--I own, I can’t blame you for arriving at that conclusion. In the dark, I have brought you thus far. In the dark I am compelled to leave you, with my best respects. Why not take the persons who have gone along with me, so far, up into those regions of superior enlightenment in which I sit myself? In answer to this, I can only state that I am acting under orders, and that those orders have been given to me (as I understand) in the interests of truth. I am forbidden to tell more in this narrative than I knew myself at the time. Or, to put it plainer, I am to keep strictly within the limits of my own experience, and am not to inform you of what other persons told me--for the very sufficient reason that you are to have the information from those other persons themselves, at first hand. In this matter of the Moonstone the plan is, not to present reports, but to produce witnesses.

I picture to myself a member of the family reading these pages fifty years hence. what a compliment he will feel it, to be asked to take nothing on hear-say, and to be treated in all respects like a Judge on the bench. At this place, then, we part--for the present, at least--after long journeying together, with a companionable feeling, I hope, on both sides. The devil’s dance of the Indian Diamond has threaded its way to London; and to London you must go after it, leaving me at the country-house.

Please to excuse the faults of this composition--my talking so much of myself, and being too familiar, I am afraid, with you. May you find in these leaves of my writing, what ROBINSON CRUSOE found in his experience on the desert island--namely, “something to comfort yourselves from, and to set in the Description of Good and Evil, on the Credit Side of the Account.”--Farewell. THE END OF THE FIRST PERIOD. SECOND PERIOD THE DISCOVERY OF THE TRUTH (1848-1849) The events related in several narratives. FIRST NARRATIVE Contributed by MISS CLACK; niece of the late SIR JOHN VERINDER CHAPTER I I am indebted to my dear parents (both now in heaven) for having had habits of order and regularity instilled into me at a very early age. In that happy bygone time, I was taught to keep my hair tidy at all hours of the day and night, and to fold up every article of my clothing carefully, in the same order, on the same chair, in the same place at the foot of the bed, before retiring to rest. An entry of the day’s events in my little diary invariably preceded the folding up. The “Evening Hymn” (repeated in bed) invariably followed the folding up.

And the sweet sleep of childhood invariably followed the “Evening Hymn.” In later life (alas!) the Hymn has been succeeded by sad and bitter meditations; and the sweet sleep has been but ill exchanged for the broken slumbers which haunt the uneasy pillow of care. On the other hand, I have continued to fold my clothes, and to keep my little diary. The former habit links me to my happy childhood--before papa was ruined. The latter habit--hitherto mainly useful in helping me to discipline the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam--has unexpectedly proved important to my humble interests in quite another way. It has enabled poor Me to serve the caprice of a wealthy member of the family into which my late uncle married. I am now living, for economy’s sake, in a little town in Brittany, inhabited by a select circle of serious English friends, and possessed of the inestimable advantages of a Protestant clergyman and a cheap market. In this retirement--a Patmos amid the howling ocean of popery that surrounds us--a letter from England has reached me at last. The whim has seized him to stir up the deplorable scandal of the Moonstone: and I am to help him by writing the account of what I myself witnessed while visiting at Aunt Verinder’s house in London. Pecuniary remuneration is offered to me--with the want of feeling peculiar to the rich. I am to re-open wounds that Time has barely closed; I am to recall the most intensely painful remembrances--and this done, I am to feel myself compensated by a new laceration, in the shape of Mr.

It cost me a hard struggle, before Christian humility conquered sinful pride, and self-denial accepted the cheque. Without my diary, I doubt--pray let me express it in the grossest terms!--if I could have honestly earned my money. With my diary, the poor labourer (who forgives Mr. Nothing escaped me at the time I was visiting dear Aunt Verinder.

Everything was entered (thanks to my early training) day by day as it happened; and everything down to the smallest particular, shall be told here. Blake to suppress what may not prove to be sufficiently flattering in these pages to the person chiefly concerned in them. Nothing will be added, altered or removed, in her manuscript, or in any of the other manuscripts which pass through my hands. Whatever opinions any of the writers may express, whatever peculiarities of treatment may mark, and perhaps in a literary sense, disfigure the narratives which I am now collecting, not a line will be tampered with anywhere, from first to last.

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. It only remains to be added that “the person chiefly concerned” in Miss Clack’s narrative, is happy enough at the present moment, not only to brave the smartest exercise of Miss Clack’s pen, but even to recognise its unquestionable value as an instrument for the exhibition of Miss Clack’s character. Seeing the shutters opened, and the blinds drawn up, I felt that it would be an act of polite attention to knock, and make inquiries. The person who answered the door, informed me that my aunt and her daughter (I really cannot call her my cousin!) had arrived from the country a week since, and meditated making some stay in London. I sent up a message at once, declining to disturb them, and only begging to know whether I could be of any use. The person who answered the door, took my message in insolent silence, and left me standing in the hall.

She is the daughter of a heathen old man named Betteredge--long, too long, tolerated in my aunt’s family. I sat down in the hall to wait for my answer--and, having always a few tracts in my bag, I selected one which proved to be quite providentially applicable to the person who answered the door. The hall was dirty, and the chair was hard; but the blessed consciousness of returning good for evil raised me quite above any trifling considerations of that kind. The tract was one of a series addressed to young women on the sinfulness of dress. Its title was, “A Word With You On Your Cap-Ribbons.” “My lady is much obliged, and begs you will come and lunch to-morrow at two.” I passed over the manner in which she gave her message, and the dreadful boldness of her look. I thanked this young castaway; and I said, in a tone of Christian interest, “Will you favour me by accepting a tract?” She looked at the title. If it’s written by a woman, I had rather not read it on that account. If it’s written by a man, I beg to inform him that he knows nothing about it.” She handed me back the tract, and opened the door.

We must sow the good seed somehow. I waited till the door was shut on me, and slipped the tract into the letter-box. When I had dropped another tract through the area railings, I felt relieved, in some small degree, of a heavy responsibility towards others. We had a meeting that evening of the Select Committee of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society. The object of this excellent Charity is--as all serious people know--to rescue unredeemed fathers’ trousers from the pawnbroker, and to prevent their resumption, on the part of the irreclaimable parent, by abridging them immediately to suit the proportions of the innocent son.

I was a member, at that time, of the select committee; and I mention the Society here, because my precious and admirable friend, Mr.

I had expected to see him in the boardroom, on the Monday evening of which I am now writing, and had proposed to tell him, when we met, of dear Aunt Verinder’s arrival in London. On my expressing a feeling of surprise at his absence, my sisters of the Committee all looked up together from their trousers (we had a great pressure of business that night), and asked in amazement, if I had not heard the news. I acknowledged my ignorance, and was then told, for the first time, of an event which forms, so to speak, the starting-point of this narrative. On the previous Friday, two gentlemen--occupying widely-different positions in society--had been the victims of an outrage which had startled all London.

One of the gentlemen was Mr. The other was Mr. Living in my present isolation, I have no means of introducing the newspaper-account of the outrage into my narrative.

I was also deprived, at the time, of the inestimable advantage of hearing the events related by the fervid eloquence of Mr. All I can do is to state the facts as they were stated, on that Monday evening, to me; proceeding on the plan which I have been taught from infancy to adopt in folding up my clothes. These lines are written by a poor weak woman.

The date--thanks to my dear parents, no dictionary that ever was written can be more particular than I am about dates--was Friday, June 30th, 1848.

The name of the firm is accidentally blotted in my diary, and my sacred regard for truth forbids me to hazard a guess in a matter of this kind. Fortunately, the name of the firm doesn’t matter. On gaining the door, he encountered a gentleman--a perfect stranger to him--who was accidentally leaving the office exactly at the same time as himself.

A momentary contest of politeness ensued between them as to who should be the first to pass through the door of the bank. The stranger insisted on making Mr. Godfrey said a few civil words; they bowed, and parted in the street. Let me try to be worldly--let me say that trifles, in this case as in many others, led to terrible results. Merely premising that the polite stranger was Mr. He found waiting for him, in the hall, a poorly clad but delicate and interesting-looking little boy. The boy handed him a letter, merely mentioning that he had been entrusted with it by an old lady whom he did not know, and who had given him no instructions to wait for an answer.

Such incidents as these were not uncommon in Mr. He let the boy go, and opened the letter.

The handwriting was entirely unfamiliar to him. The object sought was to obtain from the worthy manager certain details on the subject of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion-Society, and the information was wanted by an elderly lady who proposed adding largely to the resources of the charity, if her questions were met by satisfactory replies. She mentioned her name, and she added that the shortness of her stay in London prevented her from giving any longer notice to the eminent philanthropist whom she addressed. Ordinary people might have hesitated before setting aside their own engagements to suit the convenience of a stranger. The Christian Hero never hesitates where good is to be done. Godfrey instantly turned back, and proceeded to the house in Northumberland Street. A most respectable though somewhat corpulent man answered the door, and, on hearing Mr. Godfrey’s name, immediately conducted him into an empty apartment at the back, on the drawing-room floor.

He noticed two unusual things on entering the room. One of them was a faint odour of musk and camphor. The other was an ancient Oriental manuscript, richly illuminated with Indian figures and devices, that lay open to inspection on a table. He was looking at the book, the position of which caused him to stand with his back turned towards the closed folding doors communicating with the front room, when, without the slightest previous noise to warn him, he felt himself suddenly seized round the neck from behind. He had just time to notice that the arm round his neck was naked and of a tawny-brown colour, before his eyes were bandaged, his mouth was gagged, and he was thrown helpless on the floor by (as he judged) two men. Here I should greatly enjoy saying a few cheering words on the devout confidence which could alone have sustained Mr.

Perhaps, however, the position and appearance of my admirable friend at the culminating period of the outrage (as above described) are hardly within the proper limits of female discussion. Let me pass over the next few moments, and return to Mr. Godfrey at the time when the odious search of his person had been completed. The outrage had been perpetrated throughout in dead silence. At the end of it some words were exchanged, among the invisible wretches, in a language which he did not understand, but in tones which were plainly expressive (to his cultivated ear) of disappointment and rage. He was suddenly lifted from the ground, placed in a chair, and bound there hand and foot. The next moment he felt the air flowing in from the open door, listened, and concluded that he was alone again in the room.

An interval elapsed, and he heard a sound below like the rustling sound of a woman’s dress. It advanced up the stairs, and stopped. A female scream rent the atmosphere of guilt. A man’s voice below exclaimed “Hullo!” A man’s feet ascended the stairs. He looked in amazement at two respectable strangers, and faintly articulated, “What does it mean?” The two respectable strangers looked back, and said, “Exactly the question we were going to ask YOU.” The inevitable explanation followed.

The explanation came next. It appeared from the statement of the landlord and landlady of the house (persons of good repute in the neighbourhood), that their first and second floor apartments had been engaged, on the previous day, for a week certain, by a most respectable-looking gentleman--the same who has been already described as answering the door to Mr. The gentleman had paid the week’s rent and all the week’s extras in advance, stating that the apartments were wanted for three Oriental noblemen, friends of his, who were visiting England for the first time. Early on the morning of the outrage, two of the Oriental strangers, accompanied by their respectable English friend, took possession of the apartments. The third was expected to join them shortly; and the luggage (reported as very bulky) was announced to follow when it had passed through the Custom-house, late in the afternoon. Godfrey’s visit, the third foreigner had arrived. Nothing out of the common had happened, to the knowledge of the landlord and landlady down-stairs, until within the last five minutes--when they had seen the three foreigners, accompanied by their respectable English friend, all leave the house together, walking quietly in the direction of the Strand. Remembering that a visitor had called, and not having seen the visitor also leave the house, the landlady had thought it rather strange that the gentleman should be left by himself up-stairs. After a short discussion with her husband, she had considered it advisable to ascertain whether anything was wrong.

The result had followed, as I have already attempted to describe it; and there the explanation of the landlord and the landlady came to an end. An investigation was next made in the room. When the articles were collected, however, nothing was missing; his watch, chain, purse, keys, pocket-handkerchief, note-book, and all his loose papers had been closely examined, and had then been left unharmed to be resumed by the owner. In the same way, not the smallest morsel of property belonging to the proprietors of the house had been abstracted. The Oriental noblemen had removed their own illuminated manuscript, and had removed nothing else. Taking the worldly point of view, it appeared to mean that Mr. Godfrey had been the victim of some incomprehensible error, committed by certain unknown men. A dark conspiracy was on foot in the midst of us; and our beloved and innocent friend had been entangled in its meshes.

When the Christian hero of a hundred charitable victories plunges into a pitfall that has been dug for him by mistake, oh, what a warning it is to the rest of us to be unceasingly on our guard! I could write pages of affectionate warning on this one theme, but (alas!) I am not permitted to improve--I am condemned to narrate. My wealthy relative’s cheque--henceforth, the incubus of my existence--warns me that I have not done with this record of violence yet. Godfrey to recover in Northumberland Street, and must follow the proceedings of Mr.

Luker at a later period of the day. After leaving the bank, Mr.

Godfrey’s case, the handwriting was strange; but the name mentioned was the name of one of Mr. His correspondent announced (writing in the third person--apparently by the hand of a deputy) that he had been unexpectedly summoned to London. Luker immediately, on the subject of a purchase which he contemplated making. The gentleman was an enthusiastic collector of Oriental antiquities, and had been for many years a liberal patron of the establishment in Lambeth. Oh, when shall we wean ourselves from the worship of Mammon! Once more the respectable man answered the door, and showed the visitor up-stairs into the back drawing-room. There, again, lay the illuminated manuscript on a table. He too was thrown prostrate and searched to the skin.

A longer interval had then elapsed than had passed in the experience of Mr. Godfrey; but it had ended as before, in the persons of the house suspecting something wrong, and going up-stairs to see what had happened. Precisely the same explanation which the landlord in Northumberland Street had given to Mr. Godfrey, the landlord in Alfred Place now gave to Mr.

Both had been imposed on in the same way by the plausible address and well-filled purse of the respectable stranger, who introduced himself as acting for his foreign friends. The one point of difference between the two cases occurred when the scattered contents of Mr. Luker’s pockets were being collected from the floor. Godfrey) one of the loose papers that he carried about him had been taken away. The paper in question acknowledged the receipt of a valuable of great price which Mr. Luker had that day left in the care of his bankers. This document would be useless for purposes of fraud, inasmuch as it provided that the valuable should only be given up on the personal application of the owner. Luker hurried to the bank, on the chance that the thieves who had robbed him might ignorantly present themselves with the receipt. Nothing had been seen of them when he arrived at the establishment, and nothing was seen of them afterwards.

Their respectable English friend had (in the opinion of the bankers) looked the receipt over before they attempted to make use of it, and had given them the necessary warning in good time. Information of both outrages was communicated to the police, and the needful investigations were pursued, I believe, with great energy. The authorities held that a robbery had been planned, on insufficient information received by the thieves. They had been plainly not sure whether Mr.

Luker had, or had not, trusted the transmission of his precious gem to another person; and poor polite Mr. Godfrey had paid the penalty of having been seen accidentally speaking to him. Godfrey’s absence from our Monday evening meeting had been occasioned by a consultation of the authorities, at which he was requested to assist--and all the explanations required being now given, I may proceed with the simpler story of my own little personal experiences in Montagu Square. I was punctual to the luncheon hour on Tuesday. Certain anxious looks escaped my aunt, all of which took the direction of her daughter. I never see Rachel myself without wondering how it can be that so insignificant-looking a person should be the child of such distinguished parents as Sir John and Lady Verinder. There was an absence of all lady-like restraint in her language and manner most painful to see.

I felt deeply for her poor mother, even before the true state of the case had been confidentially made known to me.

Luncheon over, my aunt said: “Remember what the doctor told you, Rachel, about quieting yourself with a book after taking your meals.” “I’ll go into the library, mamma,” she answered. I am dying for more news of him, after his adventure in Northumberland Street.” She kissed her mother on the forehead, and looked my way. When we were left by ourselves, my aunt told me the whole horrible story of the Indian Diamond, which, I am happy to know, it is not necessary to repeat here. She did not conceal from me that she would have preferred keeping silence on the subject.

But when her own servants all knew of the loss of the Moonstone, and when some of the circumstances had actually found their way into the newspapers--when strangers were speculating whether there was any connection between what had happened at Lady Verinder’s country-house, and what had happened in Northumberland Street and Alfred Place--concealment was not to be thought of; and perfect frankness became a necessity as well as a virtue. For my own part, knowing Rachel’s spirit to have been essentially unregenerate from her childhood upwards, I was prepared for whatever my aunt could tell me on the subject of her daughter. It might have gone on from bad to worse till it ended in Murder; and I should still have said to myself, The natural result! oh, dear, dear, the natural result! The one thing that DID shock me was the course my aunt had taken under the circumstances. Here surely was a case for a clergyman, if ever there was one yet! All my poor aunt’s early life had been passed in her father’s godless household. The natural result again! Oh, dear, dear, the natural result again! “The doctors recommend plenty of exercise and amusement for Rachel, and strongly urge me to keep her mind as much as possible from dwelling on the past,” said Lady Verinder.

“Oh, what heathen advice!” I thought to myself. “In this Christian country, what heathen advice!” My aunt went on, “I do my best to carry out my instructions. She even feels an interest in the other person who was roughly used--Mr. Luker, or some such name--though the man is, of course, a total stranger to her.” “Your knowledge of the world, dear aunt, is superior to mine,” I suggested diffidently. “But there must be a reason surely for this extraordinary conduct on Rachel’s part. May there not be something in these recent events which threatens her secret with discovery?” “Discovery?” repeated my aunt. Discovery through my nephew?” As the word passed her lips, a special providence occurred. The servant opened the door, and announced Mr. Godfrey followed the announcement of his name--as Mr.

Godfrey does everything else--exactly at the right time. He was not so close on the servant’s heels as to startle us. He was not so far behind as to cause us the double inconvenience of a pause and an open door. It is in the completeness of his daily life that the true Christian appears.

“Go to Miss Verinder,” said my aunt, addressing the servant, “and tell her Mr. We both asked him together whether he felt like himself again, after his terrible adventure of the past week. With perfect tact, he contrived to answer us at the same moment. Nothing but Nervous Force--which the law doesn’t recognise as property; so that, strictly speaking, I have lost nothing at all.

Luker made HIS injuries public, and my injuries, as the necessary consequence, have been proclaimed in their turn. I have become the property of the newspapers, until the gentle reader gets sick of the subject.

May the gentle reader soon be like me! Still enjoying the gaieties of London? But I really do hope to look in at the Mothers’-Small-Clothes next week. Was the Board hopeful about future prospects? And are we nicely off for Trousers?” The heavenly gentleness of his smile made his apologies irresistible. The richness of his deep voice added its own indescribable charm to the interesting business question which he had just addressed to me. In truth, we were almost TOO nicely off for Trousers; we were quite overwhelmed by them. I was just about to say so, when the door opened again, and an element of worldly disturbance entered the room, in the person of Miss Verinder. “I am charmed to see you, Godfrey,” she said, addressing him, I grieve to add, in the off-hand manner of one young man talking to another.

You and he (as long as our present excitement lasts) are the two most interesting men in all London.

Tell me the whole of the Northumberland Street story directly. I know the newspapers have left some of it out.” Even dear Mr. Godfrey partakes of the fallen nature which we all inherit from Adam--it is a very small share of our human legacy, but, alas! I confess it grieved me to see him take Rachel’s hand in both of his own hands, and lay it softly on the left side of his waistcoat. “Dearest Rachel,” he said, in the same voice which had thrilled me when he spoke of our prospects and our trousers, “the newspapers have told you everything--and they have told it much better than I can.” “Godfrey thinks we all make too much of the matter,” my aunt remarked. “He has just been saying that he doesn’t care to speak of it.” “Why?” She put the question with a sudden flash in her eyes, and a sudden look up into Mr. “Rachel, darling!” I remonstrated gently, “true greatness and true courage are ever modest.” “You are a very good fellow in your way, Godfrey,” she said--not taking the smallest notice, observe, of me, and still speaking to her cousin as if she was one young man addressing another.

You have some private reason for not talking of your adventure in Northumberland Street; and I mean to know it.” “My reason is the simplest imaginable, and the most easily acknowledged,” he answered, still bearing with her. “I am tired of the subject.” “You are tired of the subject? My dear Godfrey, I am going to make a remark.” “What is it?” “You live a great deal too much in the society of women. You have learnt to talk nonsense seriously, and you have got into a way of telling fibs for the pleasure of telling them. I am brimful of downright questions; and I expect you to be brimful of downright answers.” She actually dragged him across the room to a chair by the window, where the light would fall on his face. Franklin Blake’s cheque on one side and my own sacred regard for truth on the other, what am I to do? It was, perhaps, the reaction after the trying time she had had in the country. In the meantime, Rachel had settled herself at the window with our amiable and forbearing--our too forbearing--Mr. She began the string of questions with which she had threatened him, taking no more notice of her mother, or of myself, than if we had not been in the room. “Have the police done anything, Godfrey?” “Nothing whatever.” “It is certain, I suppose, that the three men who laid the trap for you were the same three men who afterwards laid the trap for Mr.

Luker?” “Humanly speaking, my dear Rachel, there can be no doubt of it.” “And not a trace of them has been discovered?” “Not a trace.” “It is thought--is it not?--that these three men are the three Indians who came to our house in the country.” “Some people think so.” “Do you think so?” “My dear Rachel, they blindfolded me before I could see their faces. I know nothing whatever of the matter. How can I offer an opinion on it?” Even the angelic gentleness of Mr. Godfrey was, you see, beginning to give way at last under the persecution inflicted on him. Whether unbridled curiosity, or ungovernable dread, dictated Miss Verinder’s questions I do not presume to inquire.

Godfrey’s attempting to rise, after giving her the answer just described, she actually took him by the two shoulders, and pushed him back into his chair--Oh, don’t say this was immodest! don’t even hint that the recklessness of guilty terror could alone account for such conduct as I have described! We must not judge others. My Christian friends, indeed, indeed, indeed, we must not judge others! Earnest Biblical students will perhaps be reminded--as I was reminded--of the blinded children of the devil, who went on with their orgies, unabashed, in the time before the Flood. Luker than I do.” “You never saw him before you and he met accidentally at the bank?” “Never.” “You have seen him since?” “Yes. We have been examined together, as well as separately, to assist the police.” “Mr. What was the receipt for?” “For a valuable gem which he had placed in the safe keeping of the bank.” “That’s what the newspapers say. It may be enough for the general reader; but it is not enough for me. The banker’s receipt must have mentioned what the gem was?” “The banker’s receipt, Rachel--as I have heard it described--mentioned nothing of the kind.

That was the form, and that is all I know about it.” She waited a moment, after he had said that. She looked at her mother, and sighed.

“Some of our private affairs, at home,” she said, “seem to have got into the newspapers?” “I grieve to say, it is so.” “And some idle people, perfect strangers to us, are trying to trace a connexion between what happened at our house in Yorkshire and what has happened since, here in London?” “The public curiosity, in certain quarters, is, I fear, taking that turn.” “The people who say that the three unknown men who ill-used you and Mr. Luker are the three Indians, also say that the valuable gem----” There she stopped. She had become gradually, within the last few moments, whiter and whiter in the face. The extraordinary blackness of her hair made this paleness, by contrast, so ghastly to look at, that we all thought she would faint, at the moment when she checked herself in the middle of her question. I followed my aunt with a modest medicinal peace-offering, in the shape of a bottle of salts.

We none of us produced the slightest effect on her. Mamma, there is not the least reason to be alarmed about me. Clack, you’re dying to hear the end of it--I won’t faint, expressly to oblige YOU.” Those were the exact words she used--taken down in my diary the moment I got home.

With an obstinacy dreadful to see, she went back again to the place where she had checked herself, and completed her question in these words: “I spoke to you, a minute since, about what people were saying in certain quarters. Tell me plainly, Godfrey, do they any of them say that Mr. Luker’s valuable gem is--the Moonstone?” As the name of the Indian Diamond passed her lips, I saw a change come over my admirable friend. He lost the genial suavity of manner which is one of his greatest charms. “They DO say it,” he answered. “There are people who don’t hesitate to accuse Mr. He has over and over again solemnly declared that, until this scandal assailed him, he had never even heard of the Moonstone. And these vile people reply, without a shadow of proof to justify them, He has his reasons for concealment; we decline to believe him on his oath. Luker is only a chance acquaintance of yours, you take up his cause, Godfrey, rather warmly.” My gifted friend made her one of the most truly evangelical answers I ever heard in my life.

“I hope, Rachel, I take up the cause of all oppressed people rather warmly,” he said. The tone in which those words were spoken might have melted a stone. But, oh dear, what is the hardness of stone? Nothing, compared to the hardness of the unregenerate human heart! I am certain that the scandal which has assailed Mr. She went the length--the very unladylike length--of taking him by the hand. “I am certain,” she said, “that I have found out the true reason of your unwillingness to speak of this matter before my mother and before me.

What does scandal say of you?” Even at the eleventh hour, dear Mr.

“It’s better forgotten, Rachel--it is, indeed.” “I WILL hear it!” she cried out, fiercely, at the top of her voice. He cast one last appealing look at her--and then he spoke the fatal words: “If you will have it, Rachel--scandal says that the Moonstone is in pledge to Mr. Luker, and that I am the man who has pawned it.” She started to her feet with a scream. Don’t touch me!” she exclaimed, shrinking back from all of us (I declare like some hunted animal!) into a corner of the room.

I can’t bear it!” My aunt half rose from her chair, then suddenly sat down again. Don’t let Rachel see.” Under other circumstances, I should have thought this strange. There was no time now to think--there was only time to give the medicine.

Godfrey unconsciously assisted me in concealing what I was about from Rachel, by speaking composing words to her at the other end of the room. It will be all forgotten in another week. I know the hand that took the Moonstone. I know--” she laid a strong emphasis on the words; she stamped her foot in the rage that possessed her--“I KNOW THAT GODFREY ABLEWHITE IS INNOCENT. Take me to the magistrate, Godfrey!

Take me to the magistrate, and I will swear it!” My aunt caught me by the hand, and whispered, “Stand between us for a minute or two. “The drops will put me right in a minute or two,” she said, and so closed her eyes, and waited a little. The best detective officer in England declares that I have stolen my own Diamond.

Ask him what he thinks--and he will tell you that I have pledged the Moonstone to pay my private debts!” She stopped, ran across the room--and fell on her knees at her mother’s feet.

I must be mad--mustn’t I?--not to own the truth NOW?” She was too vehement to notice her mother’s condition--she was on her feet again, and back with Mr. If you won’t take me before the magistrate, draw out a declaration of your innocence on paper, and I will sign it. Do as I tell you, Godfrey, or I’ll write it to the newspapers I’ll go out, and cry it in the streets!” We will not say this was the language of remorse--we will say it was the language of hysterics. Godfrey pacified her by taking a sheet of paper, and drawing out the declaration. “I am afraid, Godfrey, I have not done you justice, hitherto, in my thoughts. Come here when you can, and I will try and repair the wrong I have done you.” She gave him her hand. Before another word could be said by anybody, a thundering knock at the street door startled us all. I looked through the window, and saw the World, the Flesh, and the Devil waiting before the house--as typified in a carriage and horses, a powdered footman, and three of the most audaciously dressed women I ever beheld in my life. She crossed the room to her mother.

“They have come to take me to the flower-show,” she said. I have not distressed you, have I?” (Is the bluntness of moral feeling which could ask such a question as that, after what had just happened, to be pitied or condemned? Let us pity it.) The drops had produced their effect. I had left the window, and was near the door, when Rachel approached it to go out. Another change had come over her--she was in tears.

I looked with interest at the momentary softening of that obdurate heart. “What do you mean by pitying me?” she asked in a bitter whisper, as she passed to the door. I’m going to the flower-show, Clack; and I’ve got the prettiest bonnet in London.” She completed the hollow mockery of that address by blowing me a kiss--and so left the room. I wish I could describe in words the compassion I felt for this miserable and misguided girl. Godfrey searching for something softly, here and there, in different parts of the room. He came back to my aunt and me, with his declaration of innocence in one hand, and with a box of matches in the other. Will you leave Rachel to suppose that I accept the generous self-sacrifice which has signed this paper? And will you kindly bear witness that I destroy it in your presence, before I leave the house?” He kindled a match, and, lighting the paper, laid it to burn in a plate on the table. “Any trifling inconvenience that I may suffer is as nothing,” he remarked, “compared with the importance of preserving that pure name from the contaminating contact of the world.

There! Oh the ecstasy, the pure, unearthly ecstasy of that moment! There was nobody but my aunt in the room.

I should like to stop here--I should like to close my narrative with the record of Mr. Unhappily there is more, much more, which the unrelenting pecuniary pressure of Mr. The painful disclosures which were to reveal themselves in my presence, during that Tuesday’s visit to Montagu Square, were not at an end yet.

Finding myself alone with Lady Verinder, I turned naturally to the subject of her health; touching delicately on the strange anxiety which she had shown to conceal her indisposition, and the remedy applied to it, from the observation of her daughter. Delicacy left me but one alternative--the alternative, after first making my apologies, of taking my leave.

I can trust in their discretion; and I am sure, when I tell you the circumstances, I can trust in yours. “Keep me company then,” she said, “for another hour. And you can be one of the witnesses, Drusilla, when I sign my Will.” Her Will! I thought of the drops which I had seen in her work-box. I thought of the bluish tinge which I had noticed in her complexion. CHAPTER III Consideration for poor Lady Verinder forbade me even to hint that I had guessed the melancholy truth, before she opened her lips. I waited her pleasure in silence; and, having privately arranged to say a few sustaining words at the first convenient opportunity, felt prepared for any duty that could claim me, no matter how painful it might be. “And, strange to say, without knowing it myself.” I thought of the thousands and thousands of perishing human creatures who were all at that moment spiritually ill, without knowing it themselves. And I greatly feared that my poor aunt might be one of the number. “Yes?” “One of the two medical men,” proceeded my aunt, “was a stranger to me.

The other had been an old friend of my husband’s, and had always felt a sincere interest in me for my husband’s sake. After prescribing for Rachel, he said he wished to speak to me privately in another room. I expected, of course, to receive some special directions for the management of my daughter’s health. To my surprise, he took me gravely by the hand, and said, ‘I have been looking at you, Lady Verinder, with a professional as well as a personal interest.

It ended in his making an appointment to come and see me, accompanied by a medical friend, on the next day, at an hour when Rachel would not be at home. The result of that visit--most kindly and gently conveyed to me--satisfied both the physicians that there had been precious time lost, which could never be regained, and that my case had now passed beyond the reach of their art. I may live for some months, or I may die before another day has passed over my head--the doctors cannot, and dare not, speak more positively than this. My one great anxiety is that Rachel should be kept in ignorance of the truth. If she knew it, she would at once attribute my broken health to anxiety about the Diamond, and would reproach herself bitterly, poor child, for what is in no sense her fault. Both the doctors agree that the mischief began two, if not three years since.

Little did my poor aunt imagine what a gush of devout thankfulness thrilled through me as she approached the close of her melancholy story. Here was a beloved relative and perishing fellow-creature, on the eve of the great change, utterly unprepared; and led, providentially led, to reveal her situation to Me! How can I describe the joy with which I now remembered that the precious clerical friends on whom I could rely, were to be counted, not by ones or twos, but by tens and twenties. “Oh!” I said to her, fervently, “the indescribable interest with which you inspire me! the good I mean to do you, dear, before we part!” After another word or two of earnest prefatory warning, I gave her her choice of three precious friends, all plying the work of mercy from morning to night in her own neighbourhood; all equally inexhaustible in exhortation; all affectionately ready to exercise their gifts at a word from me. the result was far from encouraging. Poor Lady Verinder looked puzzled and frightened, and met everything I could say to her with the purely worldly objection that she was not strong enough to face strangers. I yielded--for the moment only, of course. My large experience (as Reader and Visitor, under not less, first and last, than fourteen beloved clerical friends) informed me that this was another case for preparation by books. I possessed a little library of works, all suitable to the present emergency, all calculated to arouse, convince, prepare, enlighten, and fortify my aunt.

Turned down at all the right places, aunt. And marked in pencil where you are to stop and ask yourself, ‘Does this apply to me?’” Even that simple appeal--so absolutely heathenising is the influence of the world--appeared to startle my aunt.

The clock on the mantel-piece informed me that I had just time to hurry home; to provide myself with a first series of selected readings (say a dozen only); and to return in time to meet the lawyer, and witness Lady Verinder’s Will. Promising faithfully to be back by five o’clock, I left the house on my errand of mercy. When no interests but my own are involved, I am humbly content to get from place to place by the omnibus. Permit me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt’s interests by recording that, on this occasion, I committed the prodigality of taking a cab. I drove home, selected and marked my first series of readings, and drove back to Montagu Square, with a dozen works in a carpet-bag, the like of which, I firmly believe, are not to be found in the literature of any other country in Europe. I paid the cabman exactly his fare. I sowed the good seed, in spite of him, by throwing a second tract in at the window of the cab. The servant who answered the door--not the person with the cap-ribbons, to my great relief, but the foot-man--informed me that the doctor had called, and was still shut up with Lady Verinder. Bruff, the lawyer, had arrived a minute since and was waiting in the library.

I was shown into the library to wait too. He is the family solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occasions, under Lady Verinder’s roof. A man, I grieve to say, grown old and grizzled in the service of the world.

A man who, in his hours of business, was the chosen prophet of Law and Mammon; and who, in his hours of leisure, was equally capable of reading a novel and of tearing up a tract. To reveal the contents of my precious bag to such a person as this would have been simply to invite an outburst of profanity. I lowered myself to his own level, and mentioned my business in the house. “She has been so good as to ask me to be one of the witnesses.” “Aye?

You are over twenty-one, and you have not the slightest pecuniary interest in Lady Verinder’s Will.” Not the slightest pecuniary interest in Lady Verinder’s Will. If my aunt, possessed of thousands, had remembered poor Me, to whom five pounds is an object--if my name had appeared in the Will, with a little comforting legacy attached to it--my enemies might have doubted the motive which had loaded me with the choicest treasures of my library, and had drawn upon my failing resources for the prodigal expenses of a cab. Not the cruellest scoffer of them all could doubt now. I was aroused from these consoling reflections by the voice of Mr. My meditative silence appeared to weigh upon the spirits of this worldling, and to force him, as it were, into talking to me against his own will. “Well, Miss Clack, what’s the last news in the charitable circles? Godfrey Ablewhite, after the mauling he got from the rogues in Northumberland Street? they’re telling a pretty story about that charitable gentleman at my club!” I had passed over the manner in which this person had remarked that I was more than twenty-one, and that I had no pecuniary interest in my aunt’s Will.

But the tone in which he alluded to dear Mr. Feeling bound, after what had passed in my presence that afternoon, to assert the innocence of my admirable friend, whenever I found it called in question--I own to having also felt bound to include in the accomplishment of this righteous purpose, a stinging castigation in the case of Mr. “I live very much out of the world,” I said; “and I don’t possess the advantage, sir, of belonging to a club.

But I happen to know the story to which you allude; and I also know that a viler falsehood than that story never was told.” “Yes, yes, Miss Clack--you believe in your friend.

Godfrey Ablewhite, won’t find the world in general quite so easy to convince as a committee of charitable ladies. He was in the house when the Diamond was lost. And he was the first person in the house to go to London afterwards. Those are ugly circumstances, ma’am, viewed by the light of later events.” I ought, I know, to have set him right before he went any farther. Godfrey’s innocence, offered by the only person who was undeniably competent to speak from a positive knowledge of the subject. the temptation to lead the lawyer artfully on to his own discomfiture was too much for me. I asked what he meant by “later events”--with an appearance of the utmost innocence.

“By later events, Miss Clack, I mean events in which the Indians are concerned,” proceeded Mr. Bruff, getting more and more superior to poor Me, the longer he went on. “What do the Indians do, the moment they are let out of the prison at Frizinghall? They go straight to London, and fix on Mr. Luker feels alarmed for the safety of ‘a valuable of great price,’ which he has got in the house. Wonderfully clever of him: but the Indians are just as clever on their side. They have their suspicions that the ‘valuable of great price’ is being shifted from one place to another; and they hit on a singularly bold and complete way of clearing those suspicions up.

Whom do they seize and search? Ablewhite’s explanation is, that they acted on blind suspicion, after seeing him accidentally speaking to Mr. Half-a-dozen other people spoke to Mr. Why were they not followed home too, and decoyed into the trap? The plain inference is, that Mr. Ablewhite had his private interest in the ‘valuable’ as well as Mr. Luker, and that the Indians were so uncertain as to which of the two had the disposal of it, that there was no alternative but to search them both. And public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily refuted.” He said those last words, looking so wonderfully wise in his own worldly conceit, that I really (to my shame be it spoken) could not resist leading him a little farther still, before I overwhelmed him with the truth. Ablewhite to pass over the opinion of the famous London police officer who investigated this case? Not the shadow of a suspicion rested upon anybody but Miss Verinder, in the mind of Sergeant Cuff.” “Do you mean to tell me, Miss Clack, that you agree with the Sergeant?” “I judge nobody, sir, and I offer no opinion.” “And I commit both those enormities, ma’am.

I judge the Sergeant to have been utterly wrong; and I offer the opinion that, if he had known Rachel’s character as I know it, he would have suspected everybody in the house but HER. I admit that she has her faults--she is secret, and self-willed; odd and wild, and unlike other girls of her age. If the plainest evidence in the world pointed one way, and if nothing but Rachel’s word of honour pointed the other, I would take her word before the evidence, lawyer as I am! Suppose she asked the strangest questions about this dreadful scandal, and displayed the most ungovernable agitation when she found out the turn it was taking?” “Suppose anything you please, Miss Clack, it wouldn’t shake my belief in Rachel Verinder by a hair’s-breadth.” “She is so absolutely to be relied on as that?” “So absolutely to be relied on as that.” “Then permit me to inform you, Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite was in this house not two hours since, and that his entire innocence of all concern in the disappearance of the Moonstone was proclaimed by Miss Verinder herself, in the strongest language I ever heard used by a young lady in my life.” I enjoyed the triumph--the unholy triumph, I fear I must admit--of seeing Mr. I kept my seat, undisturbed, and related the whole scene as it had occurred. Ablewhite now?” I asked, with the utmost possible gentleness, as soon as I had done. “If Rachel has testified to his innocence, Miss Clack, I don’t scruple to say that I believe in his innocence as firmly as you do: I have been misled by appearances, like the rest of the world; and I will make the best atonement I can, by publicly contradicting the scandal which has assailed your friend wherever I meet with it. In the meantime, allow me to congratulate you on the masterly manner in which you have opened the full fire of your batteries on me at the moment when I least expected it.

You would have done great things in my profession, ma’am, if you had happened to be a man.” With those words he turned away from me, and began walking irritably up and down the room. I could see plainly that the new light I had thrown on the subject had greatly surprised and disturbed him.

Certain expressions dropped from his lips, as he became more and more absorbed in his own thoughts, which suggested to my mind the abominable view that he had hitherto taken of the mystery of the lost Moonstone. Godfrey of the infamy of stealing the Diamond, and to attribute Rachel’s conduct to a generous resolution to conceal the crime. On Miss Verinder’s own authority--a perfectly unassailable authority, as you are aware, in the estimation of Mr.

Bruff--that explanation of the circumstances was now shown to be utterly wrong. The perplexity into which I had plunged this high legal authority was so overwhelming that he was quite unable to conceal it from notice. “What a case!” I heard him say to himself, stopping at the window in his walk, and drumming on the glass with his fingers. “It not only defies explanation, it’s even beyond conjecture.” There was nothing in these words which made any reply at all needful, on my part--and yet, I answered them! nothing is beyond mortal perversity; and anything is credible when our fallen natures get the better of us! “Pardon me for intruding on your reflections,” I said to the unsuspecting Mr. “But surely there is a conjecture to make which has not occurred to us yet.” “Maybe, Miss Clack.

Ablewhite’s innocence, you mentioned it as one of the reasons for suspecting him, that he was in the house at the time when the Diamond was lost. Franklin Blake was also in the house at the time when the Diamond was lost.” The old worldling left the window, took a chair exactly opposite to mine, and looked at me steadily, with a hard and vicious smile. Very good--let’s suspect them together. It’s quite in his character, we will say, to be capable of stealing the Moonstone. The only question is, whether it was his interest to do so.” “Mr. But there happen to be two difficulties in the way of your theory, Miss Clack. I manage Franklin Blake’s affairs, and I beg to inform you that the vast majority of his creditors (knowing his father to be a rich man) are quite content to charge interest on their debts, and to wait for their money. There is the first difficulty--which is tough enough.

You will find the second tougher still. I have it on the authority of Lady Verinder herself, that her daughter was ready to marry Franklin Blake, before that infernal Indian Diamond disappeared from the house. She had drawn him on and put him off again, with the coquetry of a young girl.

But she had confessed to her mother that she loved cousin Franklin, and her mother had trusted cousin Franklin with the secret.

So there he was, Miss Clack, with his creditors content to wait, and with the certain prospect before him of marrying an heiress.

By all means consider him a scoundrel; but tell me, if you please, why he should steal the Moonstone?” “The human heart is unsearchable,” I said gently. “Who is to fathom it?” “In other words, ma’am--though he hadn’t the shadow of a reason for taking the Diamond--he might have taken it, nevertheless, through natural depravity. Why the devil----” “I beg your pardon, Mr. If I hear the devil referred to in that manner, I must leave the room.” “I beg YOUR pardon, Miss Clack--I’ll be more careful in my choice of language for the future. Why--even supposing he did take the Diamond--should Franklin Blake make himself the most prominent person in the house in trying to recover it? He first steals the Moonstone (without the slightest reason) through natural depravity; and he then acts a part, in relation to the loss of the jewel, which there is not the slightest necessity to act, and which leads to his mortally offending the young lady who would otherwise have married him. That is the monstrous proposition which you are driven to assert, if you attempt to associate the disappearance of the Moonstone with Franklin Blake. After what has passed here to-day, between us two, the dead-lock, in this case, is complete.

Rachel’s own innocence is (as her mother knows, and as I know) beyond a doubt. On the one hand, we are morally certain of all these things. And, on the other hand, we are equally sure that somebody has brought the Moonstone to London, and that Mr.

What is the use of my experience, what is the use of any person’s experience, in such a case as that? I was about to mention this, with all possible mildness, and with every necessary protest against being supposed to cast a slur upon Rachel--when the servant came in to say that the doctor had gone, and that my aunt was waiting to receive us.

This stopped the discussion. Bruff collected his papers, looking a little exhausted by the demands which our conversation had made on him. Permit me to add here, before my narrative advances to other events, that I have not described what passed between the lawyer and me, without having a definite object in view. I am ordered to include in my contribution to the shocking story of the Moonstone a plain disclosure, not only of the turn which suspicion took, but even of the names of the persons on whom suspicion rested, at the time when the Indian Diamond was believed to be in London. A report of my conversation in the library with Mr. Bruff appeared to me to be exactly what was wanted to answer this purpose--while, at the same time, it possessed the great moral advantage of rendering a sacrifice of sinful self-esteem essentially necessary on my part.

I have been obliged to acknowledge that my fallen nature got the better of me. In making that humiliating confession, I get the better of my fallen nature. The moral balance is restored; the spiritual atmosphere feels clear once more. CHAPTER IV The signing of the Will was a much shorter matter than I had anticipated. Samuel, the footman, was sent for to act as second witness--and the pen was put at once into my aunt’s hand. Bruff’s manner convinced me that it was wisest to check the impulse while he was in the room. Bruff folded up the Will, and then looked my way; apparently wondering whether I did or did not mean to leave him alone with my aunt. Paul’s Cathedral by looking at it, as to move Me.

There was one merit about him (due no doubt to his worldly training) which I have no wish to deny. I appeared to produce almost the same impression on him which I had produced on the cabman. HE too uttered a profane expression, and withdrew in a violent hurry, and left me mistress of the field. As soon as we were alone, my aunt reclined on the sofa, and then alluded, with some appearance of confusion, to the subject of her Will. I seized it on the spot. In other words, I instantly opened my bag, and took out the top publication. It proved to be an early edition--only the twenty-fifth--of the famous anonymous work (believed to be by precious Miss Bellows), entitled THE SERPENT AT HOME. The design of the book--with which the worldly reader may not be acquainted--is to show how the Evil One lies in wait for us in all the most apparently innocent actions of our daily lives. The chapters best adapted to female perusal are “Satan in the Hair Brush;” “Satan behind the Looking Glass;” “Satan under the Tea Table;” “Satan out of the Window”--and many others. Subject: Satan among the Sofa Cushions.

Poor Lady Verinder (reclining thoughtlessly on her own sofa cushions) glanced at the book, and handed it back to me looking more confused than ever. The doctor----” The moment she mentioned the doctor’s name, I knew what was coming. Over and over again in my past experience among my perishing fellow-creatures, the members of the notoriously infidel profession of Medicine had stepped between me and my mission of mercy--on the miserable pretence that the patient wanted quiet, and that the disturbing influence of all others which they most dreaded, was the influence of Miss Clack and her Books. Precisely the same blinded materialism (working treacherously behind my back) now sought to rob me of the only right of property that my poverty could claim--my right of spiritual property in my perishing aunt. “The doctor tells me,” my poor misguided relative went on, “that I am not so well to-day. He forbids me to see any strangers; and he orders me, if I read at all, only to read the lightest and the most amusing books. ‘Do nothing, Lady Verinder, to weary your head, or to quicken your pulse’--those were his last words, Drusilla, when he left me to-day.” There was no help for it but to yield again--for the moment only, as before. Any open assertion of the infinitely superior importance of such a ministry as mine, compared with the ministry of the medical man, would only have provoked the doctor to practise on the human weakness of his patient, and to threaten to throw up the case. Happily, there are more ways than one of sowing the good seed, and few persons are better versed in those ways than myself.

You will let me leave the book, aunt? The doctor can hardly object to that!” I slipped it under the sofa cushions, half in, and half out, close by her handkerchief, and her smelling-bottle. Every time her hand searched for either of these, it would touch the book; and, sooner or later (who knows?) the book might touch HER. “Let me leave you to repose, dear aunt; I will call again to-morrow.” I looked accidentally towards the window as I said that. Lady Verinder was extravagantly fond of these perishable treasures, and had a habit of rising every now and then, and going to look at them and smell them. may I take a flower?” I said--and got to the window unsuspected, in that way. Instead of taking away a flower, I added one, in the shape of another book from my bag, which I left, to surprise my aunt, among the geraniums and roses. The happy thought followed, “Why not do the same for her, poor dear, in every other room that she enters?” I immediately said good-bye; and, crossing the hall, slipped into the library. On the library table I noticed two of the “amusing books” which the infidel doctor had recommended. I instantly covered them from sight with two of my own precious publications.

In the breakfast-room I found my aunt’s favourite canary singing in his cage.

She was always in the habit of feeding the bird herself. Some groundsel was strewed on a table which stood immediately under the cage. I put a book among the groundsel. In the drawing-room I found more cheering opportunities of emptying my bag. My aunt’s favourite musical pieces were on the piano. I slipped in two more books among the music. I disposed of another in the back drawing-room, under some unfinished embroidery, which I knew to be of Lady Verinder’s working. A third little room opened out of the back drawing-room, from which it was shut off by curtains instead of a door.

My aunt’s plain old-fashioned fan was on the chimney-piece. I opened my ninth book at a very special passage, and put the fan in as a marker, to keep the place. The question then came, whether I should go higher still, and try the bed-room floor--at the risk, undoubtedly, of being insulted, if the person with the cap-ribbons happened to be in the upper regions of the house, and to find me out. All was silent and solitary--it was the servants’ tea-time, I suppose.

The miniature of my late dear uncle, Sir John, hung on the wall opposite the bed. deposit a book.” There were tables on either side of my aunt’s bed. I put a book near the matches on one side, and a book under the box of chocolate drops on the other. Whether she wanted a light, or whether she wanted a drop, there was a precious publication to meet her eye, or to meet her hand, and to say with silent eloquence, in either case, “Come, try me! try me!” But one book was now left at the bottom of my bag, and but one apartment was still unexplored--the bath-room, which opened out of the bed-room. I peeped in; and the holy inner voice that never deceives, whispered to me, “You have met her, Drusilla, everywhere else; meet her at the bath, and the work is done.” I observed a dressing-gown thrown across a chair. Can words express my exquisite sense of duty done, when I had slipped out of the house, unsuspected by any of them, and when I found myself in the street with my empty bag under my arm?

Oh, my worldly friends, pursuing the phantom, Pleasure, through the guilty mazes of Dissipation, how easy it is to be happy, if you will only be good! When I folded up my things that night--when I reflected on the true riches which I had scattered with such a lavish hand, from top to bottom of the house of my wealthy aunt--I declare I felt as free from all anxiety as if I had been a child again. I was so light-hearted that I sang a verse of the Evening Hymn. I was so light-hearted that I fell asleep before I could sing another. On rising the next morning, how young I felt! I might add, how young I looked, if I were capable of dwelling on the concerns of my own perishable body. Towards luncheon time--not for the sake of the creature-comforts, but for the certainty of finding dear aunt--I put on my bonnet to go to Montagu Square.

Just as I was ready, the maid at the lodgings in which I then lived looked in at the door, and said, “Lady Verinder’s servant, to see Miss Clack.” I occupied the parlour-floor, at that period of my residence in London. The front parlour was my sitting-room. Very small, very low in the ceiling, very poorly furnished--but, oh, so neat! I looked into the passage to see which of Lady Verinder’s servants had asked for me. It was the young footman, Samuel--a civil fresh-coloured person, with a teachable look and a very obliging manner.

When he put the parcel down, it appeared to frighten him. “My lady’s love, Miss; and I was to say that you would find a letter inside.” Having given that message, the fresh-coloured young footman surprised me by looking as if he would have liked to run away. Ablewhite had taken a seat in the carriage, too. I stopped Samuel at the door, and made a few more kind inquiries. There was a morning concert advertised for to-morrow, and Samuel was ordered to take places for a large party, including a place for Mr.

“All the tickets may be gone, Miss,” said this innocent youth, “if I don’t run and get them at once!” He ran as he said the words--and I found myself alone again, with some anxious thoughts to occupy me. We had a special meeting of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes-Conversion Society that night, summoned expressly with a view to obtaining Mr. The afternoon of the next day had been selected for the Festival of the British-Ladies’-Servants’-Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision Society. Instead of being present, the life and soul of that struggling Institution, he had engaged to make one of a party of worldlings at a morning concert! it meant that our Christian Hero was to reveal himself to me in a new character, and to become associated in my mind with one of the most awful backslidings of modern times. To return, however, to the history of the passing day. On finding myself alone in my room, I naturally turned my attention to the parcel which appeared to have so strangely intimidated the fresh-coloured young footman. and had it taken the form of cast-off clothes, or worn-out silver spoons, or unfashionable jewellery, or anything of that sort? Prepared to accept all, and to resent nothing, I opened the parcel--and what met my view? The twelve precious publications which I had scattered through the house, on the previous day; all returned to me by the doctor’s orders!

Well might the youthful Samuel shrink when he brought his parcel into my room! Once self-supported by conscience, once embarked on a career of manifest usefulness, the true Christian never yields. Neither public nor private influences produce the slightest effect on us, when we have once got our mission. Taxation may be the consequence of a mission; riots may be the consequence of a mission; wars may be the consequence of a mission: we go on with our work, irrespective of every human consideration which moves the world outside us. Ah, my friends, you may spare yourselves the useless inquiry! We are the only people who can earn it--for we are the only people who are always right. In the case of my misguided aunt, the form which pious perseverance was next to take revealed itself to me plainly enough. Preparation by books had failed, owing to the doctor’s infidel obstinacy. What was the next thing to try?

The next thing to try was--Preparation by Little Notes. In other words, the books themselves having been sent back, select extracts from the books, copied by different hands, and all addressed as letters to my aunt, were, some to be sent by post, and some to be distributed about the house on the plan I had adopted on the previous day.

As letters they would excite no suspicion; as letters they would be opened--and, once opened, might be read. Some of them I wrote myself.

“Dear aunt, I was reading last night, and I chanced on the following passage,” &c. Other letters were written for me by my valued fellow-workers, the sisterhood at the Mothers’-Small-Clothes. “Dear madam, pardon the interest taken in you by a true, though humble, friend.” “Dear madam, may a serious person surprise you by saying a few cheering words?” Using these and other similar forms of courteous appeal, we reintroduced all my precious passages under a form which not even the doctor’s watchful materialism could suspect. Before the shades of evening had closed around us, I had a dozen awakening letters for my aunt, instead of a dozen awakening books. Six I made immediate arrangements for sending through the post, and six I kept in my pocket for personal distribution in the house the next day. Soon after two o’clock I was again on the field of pious conflict, addressing more kind inquiries to Samuel at Lady Verinder’s door. She was again in the room in which I had witnessed her Will, resting on the sofa, and trying to get a little sleep. I said I would wait in the library, on the chance of seeing her. In the fervour of my zeal to distribute the letters, it never occurred to me to inquire about Rachel. The house was quiet, and it was past the hour at which the musical performance began.

included) were all at the concert, and eagerly devoted myself to my good work, while time and opportunity were still at my own disposal. My aunt’s correspondence of the morning--including the six awakening letters which I had posted overnight--was lying unopened on the library table. She had evidently not felt herself equal to dealing with a large mass of letters--and she might be daunted by the number of them, if she entered the library later in the day. I put one of my second set of six letters on the chimney-piece by itself; leaving it to attract her curiosity, by means of its solitary position, apart from the rest. A second letter I put purposely on the floor in the breakfast-room. The first servant who went in after me would conclude that my aunt had dropped it, and would be specially careful to restore it to her. The field thus sown on the basement story, I ran lightly upstairs to scatter my mercies next over the drawing-room floor. Just as I entered the front room, I heard a double knock at the street-door--a soft, fluttering, considerate little knock. Before I could think of slipping back to the library (in which I was supposed to be waiting), the active young footman was in the hall, answering the door.

To my horror and amazement, the performer of the soft little knock proved to be an exception to general rules. Samuel’s voice below me (after apparently answering some questions which I did not hear) said, unmistakably, “Upstairs, if you please, sir.” The next moment I heard footsteps--a man’s footsteps--approaching the drawing-room floor. Almost as soon as I asked myself the question, the answer occurred to me. Who COULD it be but the doctor? In the case of any other visitor, I should have allowed myself to be discovered in the drawing-room. There would have been nothing out of the common in my having got tired of the library, and having gone upstairs for a change. But my own self-respect stood in the way of my meeting the person who had insulted me by sending me back my books. I slipped into the little third room, which I have mentioned as communicating with the back drawing-room, and dropped the curtains which closed the open doorway. If I only waited there for a minute or two, the usual result in such cases would take place.

That is to say, the doctor would be conducted to his patient’s room. I heard the visitor walking restlessly backwards and forwards. I even thought I recognised the voice. Was it not the doctor, but somebody else? I parted the heavy curtains the least little morsel in the world, and listened. The words I heard were, “I’ll do it to-day!” And the voice that spoke them was Mr. CHAPTER V My hand dropped from the curtain. But don’t suppose--oh, don’t suppose--that the dreadful embarrassment of my situation was the uppermost idea in my mind! So fervent still was the sisterly interest I felt in Mr. Godfrey, that I never stopped to ask myself why he was not at the concert.

I thought only of the words--the startling words--which had just fallen from his lips. Would he apostatise from the faith? Would he abandon us at the Mothers’-Small-Clothes? Had we seen the last of his angelic smile in the committee-room? Had we heard the last of his unrivalled eloquence at Exeter Hall? I was so wrought up by the bare idea of such awful eventualities as these in connection with such a man, that I believe I should have rushed from my place of concealment, and implored him in the name of all the Ladies’ Committees in London to explain himself--when I suddenly heard another voice in the room. It penetrated through the curtains; it was loud, it was bold, it was wanting in every female charm.

The voice of Rachel Verinder.

“Why didn’t you go into the library?” He laughed softly, and answered, “Miss Clack is in the library.” “Clack in the library!” She instantly seated herself on the ottoman in the back drawing-room. To retreat--except into the fireplace--was equally out of the question.

In justice to myself, I noiselessly arranged the curtains so that I could both see and hear. And then I met my martyrdom, with the spirit of a primitive Christian. “Don’t sit on the ottoman,” the young lady proceeded. I like people to be opposite to me when I talk to them.” He took the nearest seat.

“What did you say to them?” “Just what you said, dear Rachel, to me.” “That mamma was not at all well to-day? And that I didn’t quite like leaving her to go to the concert?” “Those were the words. They were grieved to lose you at the concert, but they quite understood. All sent their love; and all expressed a cheering belief that Lady Verinder’s indisposition would soon pass away.” “YOU don’t think it’s serious, do you, Godfrey?” “Far from it! But why not have gone with them to the concert? It seems very hard that you should miss the music too.” “Don’t say that, Rachel! In the position which he occupied, when he did that, he turned my way. Can words describe how I sickened when I noticed exactly the same pathetic expression on his face, which had charmed me when he was pleading for destitute millions of his fellow-creatures on the platform at Exeter Hall! But do try to get over the habit of paying compliments--do, to please me.” “I never paid you a compliment, Rachel, in my life.

Successful love may sometimes use the language of flattery, I admit. But hopeless love, dearest, always speaks the truth.” He drew his chair close, and took her hand, when he said “hopeless love.” There was a momentary silence. I thought I now understood the words which had dropped from him when he was alone in the drawing-room, “I’ll do it to-day.” Alas! the most rigid propriety could hardly have failed to discover that he was doing it now.

“Have you forgotten what we agreed on, Godfrey, when you spoke to me in the country? We agreed that we were to be cousins, and nothing more.” “I break the agreement, Rachel, every time I see you.” “Then don’t see me.” “Quite useless! I break the agreement every time I think of you. how kindly you told me, only the other day, that my place in your estimation was a higher place than it had ever been yet!

Am I mad to build the hopes I do on those dear words? Nothing wanting to complete the parallel but the audience, the cheers, and the glass of water. My charitable business is an unendurable nuisance to me; and when I see a Ladies’ Committee now, I wish myself at the uttermost ends of the earth!” If the annals of apostasy offer anything comparable to such a declaration as that, I can only say that the case in point is not producible from the stores of my reading. I thought of the Mothers’-Small-Clothes. I thought of the Sunday-Sweetheart-Supervision. I thought of the other Societies, too numerous to mention, all built up on this man as on a tower of strength. I thought of the struggling Female Boards, who, so to speak, drew the breath of their business-life through the nostrils of Mr. Godfrey who had just reviled our good work as a “nuisance”--and just declared that he wished he was at the uttermost ends of the earth when he found himself in our company! At the same time, it is only justice to myself to add, that I didn’t lose a syllable of the conversation.

Rachel was the next to speak.

“I wonder whether it would cure you of your unhappy attachment to me, if I made mine?” He started. He thought, and I thought, that she was about to divulge the mystery of the Moonstone. “Would you think, to look at me,” she went on, “that I am the wretchedest girl living? What greater wretchedness can there be than to live degraded in your own estimation? it’s impossible you can have any reason to speak of yourself in that way!” “How do you know I have no reason?” “Can you ask me the question! Your silence, dearest, has never lowered you in the estimation of your true friends. The disappearance of your precious birthday gift may seem strange; your unexplained connection with that event may seem stranger still.” “Are you speaking of the Moonstone, Godfrey----” “I certainly thought that you referred----” “I referred to nothing of the sort.

I can hear of the loss of the Moonstone, let who will speak of it, without feeling degraded in my own estimation.

If the story of the Diamond ever comes to light, it will be known that I accepted a dreadful responsibility; it will be known that I involved myself in the keeping of a miserable secret--but it will be as clear as the sun at noon-day that I did nothing mean! Suppose you were in love with some other woman?” “Yes?” “Suppose you discovered that woman to be utterly unworthy of you? Suppose you were quite convinced that it was a disgrace to you to waste another thought on her? Suppose the bare idea of ever marrying such a person made your face burn, only with thinking of it.” “Yes?” “And, suppose, in spite of all that--you couldn’t tear her from your heart? Suppose the feeling she had roused in you (in the time when you believed in her) was not a feeling to be hidden? Suppose the love this wretch had inspired in you? How can I make a MAN understand that a feeling which horrifies me at myself, can be a feeling that fascinates me at the same time?

It’s the breath of my life, Godfrey, and it’s the poison that kills me--both in one! Let’s change the subject. Is there a form of hysterics that bursts into words instead of tears? For God’s sake, go away!” She turned round on a sudden, and beat her hands wildly on the back of the ottoman.

Her head dropped on the cushions; and she burst out crying. Before I had time to feel shocked, at this, I was horror-struck by an entirely unexpected proceeding on the part of Mr. But he did it with one of the bursts which have made his fame as a public speaker. She sat, either quite thunderstruck, or quite fascinated--I don’t know which--without even making an effort to put his arms back where his arms ought to have been. I was so painfully uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still able to hold the curtain in the right position for looking and listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed hysterics, it is admitted, even by the doctors, that one must hold something. “Yes,” he said, with all the fascination of his evangelical voice and manner, “you are a noble creature! A woman who can speak the truth, for the truth’s own sake--a woman who will sacrifice her pride, rather than sacrifice an honest man who loves her--is the most priceless of all treasures. Judge what that place is--when I implore you on my knees, to let the cure of your poor wounded heart be my care.

will you honour me, will you bless me, by being my wife?” By this time I should certainly have decided on stopping my ears, if Rachel had not encouraged me to keep them open, by answering him in the first sensible words I had ever heard fall from her lips. Look for a moment to the future. and is forgetfulness to be found in the life you are leading now? Surround yourself with nobler interests than the wretched interests of the world. A heart that loves and honours you; a home whose peaceful claims and happy duties win gently on you day by day--try the consolation, Rachel, which is to be found THERE!

Let the rest be left, confidently left, to your husband’s devotion, and to Time that heals even wounds as deep as yours.” She began to yield already. After what you have just said to me, I should be insensible indeed if I didn’t respect and admire you as well.” “Do you know many wives, my dear Rachel, who respect and admire their husbands? And yet they and their husbands get on very well. How many brides go to the altar with hearts that would bear inspection by the men who take them there?

And yet it doesn’t end unhappily--somehow or other the nuptial establishment jogs on. The truth is, that women try marriage as a Refuge, far more numerously than they are willing to admit; and, what is more, they find that marriage has justified their confidence in it. Trust my knowledge of the world--nothing is less possible. You may marry some other man, some years hence. Or you may marry the man, dearest, who is now at your feet, and who prizes your respect and admiration above the love of any other woman on the face of the earth.” “Gently, Godfrey! You are tempting me with a new prospect, when all my other prospects are closed before me. I tell you again, I am miserable enough and desperate enough, if you say another word, to marry you on your own terms. Take the warning, and go!” “I won’t even rise from my knees, till you have said yes!” “If I say yes you will repent, and I shall repent, when it is too late!” “We shall both bless the day, darling, when I pressed, and when you yielded.” “Do you feel as confidently as you speak?” “You shall judge for yourself. Do my father and mother live unhappily together?” “Far from it--so far as I can see.” “When my mother was a girl, Rachel (it is no secret in the family), she had loved as you love--she had given her heart to a man who was unworthy of her. She married my father, respecting him, admiring him, but nothing more.

Your own eyes have seen the result. Is there no encouragement in it for you and for me?” * * See Betteredge’s Narrative, chapter viii. He had another burst--a burst of unholy rapture this time.

He drew her nearer and nearer to him till her face touched his; and then--No! I really cannot prevail upon myself to carry this shocking disclosure any farther. Even my innocence in such matters began to see its way to the end of the interview now. They understood each other so thoroughly by this time, that I fully expected to see them walk off together, arm in arm, to be married. There appeared, however, judging by Mr. He seated himself--unforbidden this time--on the ottoman by her side. “Shall I speak to your dear mother?” he asked.

“Let my mother hear nothing from either of us, until she is better. I wish it to be kept a secret for the present, Godfrey. We have been here alone together quite long enough.” She rose, and in rising, looked for the first time towards the little room in which my martyrdom was going on. “The room is close enough, as it is, without keeping the air out of it in that way.” She advanced to the curtains. At the moment when she laid her hand on them--at the moment when the discovery of me appeared to be quite inevitable--the voice of the fresh-coloured young footman, on the stairs, suddenly suspended any further proceedings on her side or on mine. It was unmistakably the voice of a man in great alarm. “Miss Rachel!” he called out, “where are you, Miss Rachel?” She sprang back from the curtains, and ran to the door.

The footman came just inside the room. Godfrey passed me in the hall, hurrying out, to fetch the doctor. “Go in, and help them!” he said, pointing to the room. I found Rachel on her knees by the sofa, with her mother’s head on her bosom. One look at my aunt’s face (knowing what I knew) was enough to warn me of the dreadful truth. I kept my thoughts to myself till the doctor came in. He began by sending Rachel out of the room--and then he told the rest of us that Lady Verinder was no more. At a later hour I peeped into the breakfast-room, and the library. My aunt had died without opening one of the letters which I had addressed to her.

Franklin Blake; and, in sending him the fifth chapter of her humble narrative, begs to say that she feels quite unequal to enlarge as she could wish on an event so awful, under the circumstances, as Lady Verinder’s death. She has, therefore, attached to her own manuscripts, copious Extracts from precious publications in her possession, all bearing on this terrible subject.

And may those Extracts (Miss Clack fervently hopes) sound as the blast of a trumpet in the ears of her respected kinsman, Mr.

Franklin Blake presents his compliments to Miss Clack, and begs to thank her for the fifth chapter of her narrative. In returning the extracts sent with it, he will refrain from mentioning any personal objection which he may entertain to this species of literature, and will merely say that the proposed additions to the manuscript are not necessary to the fulfilment of the purpose that he has in view.” (3.) “Miss Clack begs to acknowledge the return of her Extracts. Franklin Blake that she is a Christian, and that it is, therefore, quite impossible for him to offend her. persists in feeling the deepest interest in Mr. Blake, and pledges herself, on the first occasion when sickness may lay him low, to offer him the use of her Extracts for the second time. In the meanwhile she would be glad to know, before beginning the final chapters of her narrative, whether she may be permitted to make her humble contribution complete, by availing herself of the light which later discoveries have thrown on the mystery of the Moonstone.” (4.) “Mr. He can only repeat the instructions which he had the honour of giving her when she began her narrative. 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.

Franklin Blake with another letter. Her Extracts have been returned, and the expression of her matured views on the subject of the Moonstone has been forbidden. Miss Clack is painfully conscious that she ought (in the worldly phrase) to feel herself put down. has learnt Perseverance in the School of Adversity. Her object in writing is to know whether Mr. Blake (who prohibits everything else) prohibits the appearance of the present correspondence in Miss Clack’s narrative? Some explanation of the position in which Mr. Blake’s interference has placed her as an authoress, seems due on the ground of common justice. And Miss Clack, on her side, is most anxious that her letters should be produced to speak for themselves.” (6.) “Mr. Franklin Blake agrees to Miss Clack’s proposal, on the understanding that she will kindly consider this intimation of his consent as closing the correspondence between them.” (7.) “Miss Clack feels it an act of Christian duty (before the correspondence closes) to inform Mr.

Franklin Blake that his last letter--evidently intended to offend her--has not succeeded in accomplishing the object of the writer. Blake to retire to the privacy of his own room, and to consider with himself whether the training which can thus elevate a poor weak woman above the reach of insult, be not worthy of greater admiration than he is now disposed to feel for it. solemnly pledges herself to send back the complete series of her Extracts to Mr.

(Signed) DRUSILLA CLACK.] CHAPTER VII The foregoing correspondence will sufficiently explain why no choice is left to me but to pass over Lady Verinder’s death with the simple announcement of the fact which ends my fifth chapter. Keeping myself for the future strictly within the limits of my own personal experience, I have next to relate that a month elapsed from the time of my aunt’s decease before Rachel Verinder and I met again. That meeting was the occasion of my spending a few days under the same roof with her. In the course of my visit, something happened, relative to her marriage-engagement with Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite, which is important enough to require special notice in these pages. When this last of many painful family circumstances has been disclosed, my task will be completed; for I shall then have told all that I know, as an actual (and most unwilling) witness of events. My aunt’s remains were removed from London, and were buried in the little cemetery attached to the church in her own park. I was invited to the funeral with the rest of the family. But it was impossible (with my religious views) to rouse myself in a few days only from the shock which this death had caused me. I was informed, moreover, that the rector of Frizinghall was to read the service.

Having myself in past times see