The Case Of The Judicial Job


Perhaps madame would like to look at them, and move?" "Thank you, M.As it was the porter's duty to call every one, and as he was anxious, like the rest of his class, to get rid of his travellers as soon as possible after arrival, he rapped at each of the two closed doors behind which people presumably still slept. Last of all, the porter was brought in and treated like the passengers, but more distinctly as a prisoner. Are you always like this?" cried the Chief. I had been up two nights; but so it is always, and I am not like this generally. She did not come on board to stay, for the last stage, when her mistress would be getting up, dressing, and likely to require her?" "No; I should not have permitted it." "And where is the maid now, d'you suppose?" The porter looked at him with an air of complete imbecility. Before the English General was dismissed, he asked whether he was likely to be detained. "Because I should like to communicate with the British Embassy." "You are known there?" asked the detective, not choosing to believe the story at first. "That will do, madame, thank you," said the detective, politely, "for the present at least." "Why, are we likely to be detained? These sleepers have no foot-boards like ordinary carriages; access to them is gained from a platform by the steps at each end. Floçon was an experienced detective, and he knew so well that he ought to be on his guard against the most plausible suggestions, that he did not like to make too much of these discoveries. "My orders were precise." "So I was going to fetch the water," went on the General angrily, eying the guard as though he would like to make another grab at him, "and this fellow interfered." "Very properly," added M.

She would not dare to leave me here like this, all alone." "Parbleu! It does not much matter, still it is odd, and for your sake we should like to help you to find her, if you do wish to find her?" Another little trap which failed. It would not be likely. Look as near as you like, and say is it yours?" "Of course it is mine. "I should like, before going further, to look at the car," he said, suddenly coming to a conclusion. "Madame has money?" went on the old hag in a half-threatening, half-coaxing whisper, as she came up quite close, and fastened on her victim like a bird of prey. He was well known and liked in Rome, indeed, many who heard the adverse reports disbelieved them, I myself among the number. But I give it you for what it is worth." "Well, well, this maid--what was she like?" "Tall, dark, good-looking, not too reserved. le Juge like me to go in search of her? He was a stout, stumpy little man, with a barrel-like figure, greatly emphasized by the short frock coat he wore; he had smallish pig's eyes buried deep in a fat face, and his round, chubby cheeks hung low over his turned-down collar.

He did not like this pertinacity, and looked at his colleagues as though he sought their concurrence in altering the arrangements for the Italian's mission.

"Because," went on the Judge with decision--"because this was found in the compartment;" and he held out the piece of lace and the scrap of beading for the General's inspection, adding quickly, "You have seen these, or one of them, or something like them before. But I think I have seen these beads, or something exactly like them, before." "Where? I should like that explained, please." "By me? A woman climb out like that? And really I should like to see the end of this. The detective paused for a moment to get a general view, looking, in the light of the General's suggestion, for either hand or foot marks, anything like a trace of the passage of a feminine skirt, across the dusty surface. "There is more here, much more, and something like--yes, beyond question it is--the print of two hands upon the roof.

Even his sleepiness, his stupidity, are likely to have been assumed." "I do not think he is acting; he has not the ability to deceive us like that." "Well, then, what if the Countess took him the second drink?" "Oh! Madame has a beautiful face, and I gazed at it with sympathy, grieving for her, in fact, in such a trying situation; when suddenly I saw a great and remarkable change come over it." "Of what character?" "It was a look of horror, disgust, surprise,--a little perhaps of all three; I could not quite say which, it faded so quickly and was followed by a cold, deathlike pallor. They were long in coming; indeed, I am only at the end now." "Explain, pray, as quickly as possible, and in your own words." "It was like this, monsieur. He knew everything, all Paris, like his pocket. He ate, this devilish Italian, like three, and I too, I was so hungry,--forgive me, sir,--I did my share. "You will have to find him, Block, and that speedily, within twenty-four hours,--to-day, indeed,--or I will break you like a stick, and send you into the gutter. "Tell me," said the Chief, "quick, this woman--what was she like? I understand that some one like her was seen here in the station not more than an hour ago." " Peste! Why were we not told this sooner?" cried the Chief, impetuously. and left you like a fool planted there.

There is a lady there,--one of our party, in fact,--and I should like to ask after her. I thought you might want me, or might like to know the latest news," he answered, as he held her hands in his for a few seconds longer than was perhaps absolutely necessary. There was no more hesitation or reluctance; she accepted his love as he had offered it, freely, with whole heart and soul, crept up under his sheltering wing like a storm-beaten dove reëntering the nest, and there, cooing softly, "My knight--my own true knight and lord," yielded herself willingly and unquestioningly to his tender caresses. "I was thinking of it when--when you appeared like a whirlwind, and since then, events have moved so fast." "Are you sorry, Sabine? I hardly think--of course I do not like to withhold anything, not now. Perhaps madame would like to look at them, and move?" "Thank you, M. "You will have to accompany me now to the Prefecture." "And if it does not suit me to go?" "I will have you carried there, bound, tied hand and foot, by the police, like any common rapscallion taken in the act who resists the authority of an officer." "Oho, you talk very big, sir.

Still--" "I will go where you like, only I will tell you nothing more, not a single word; and before I start, I must let my friends at the Embassy know where to find me." "Oh, with all my heart," said the little detective, shrugging his shoulders. He did not like it at all; yet what could he do? Baume, as the Chief had called him, was a short, thick-set man with a great shock head sunk in low between a pair of enormous shoulders, betokening great physical strength; he stood on very thin but greatly twisted bow legs, and the quaintness of his figure was emphasized by the short black blouse or smock-frock he wore over his other clothes like a French artisan. There is always something irritating in doing antechamber work, in kicking one's heels in the waiting-room of any functionary or official, high or low, and the General found it hard to possess himself in patience, when he thought he was being thus ignominiously treated by a man like M.

Santissima Donna! why did I not risk it, and climb out like the maid? It was likely he would so wish," further remarked the Judge. "I have formed an opinion--yes, but I should like to see if it coincides with yours. There are, moreover, many specially contrived refrigerating chests, in which those still unrecognized corpses are laid by for months, to be dragged out, if needs be, like carcasses of meat.

The person thus challenged was very unlike any one he had seen before that day, Ripaldi most of all. /

Should he die before you, that sum remains still yours; but, if you die before him, it goes to him.Should he die before you, that sum remains still yours; but, if you die before him, it goes to him. These much coveted millions are mine, and you are here; and now I can say to you, ‘Take them, they are yours; I give them to you as I give myself to you.’” She had drawn herself up to her full height as she said this; and she looked splendid and fearful at the same time, in her matchless beauty, diffusing energy and immodesty around her, and shaking her head defiantly, till the waves of golden hair flowed over her shoulders. /

my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable.my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable. /

Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of all heroines, in the attempt.Her name was Scheherazade, and her idea was, that she would either redeem the land from the depopulating tax upon its beauty, or perish, after the approved fashion of all heroines, in the attempt. /

Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed.Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed. /

A feeling of mingled wonder, selfishness, and fear pervaded the group of servants.Perhaps their grief was only selfishness, and they were merely wondering what would become of them, where they should find another situation, and if it would prove a good one. A feeling of mingled wonder, selfishness, and fear pervaded the group of servants. /

Could we suppose an oversight in one, or two, or three, this oversight would have been remedied by a fourth.If only one flower, we seek for nothing farther--what then if two or three, or more? Could we suppose an oversight in one, or two, or three, this oversight would have been remedied by a fourth. /

It will save you from many troubles of the vexing sort.It will save you from many troubles of the vexing sort. /

He knew that something extraordinary must have happened to induce Henrietta, with her usual reserve, to take such a step, and, above all, to write to him in such brief but urgent terms.But she had only spoken a few words when he interrupted her, and, blushing deeply, said,-- “Do not trouble yourself about that, Miss Henrietta; and, whatever your father may do, do not mind it.” That advice was more easily given than followed; for the count’s ways became daily more extraordinary. He knew that something extraordinary must have happened to induce Henrietta, with her usual reserve, to take such a step, and, above all, to write to him in such brief but urgent terms. Thomas Elgin, also a relation of hers, a most extraordinary man, stiff like a poker, but evidently a dangerous man, who never opens his mouth except when he eats. 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. Did they not admit the most extraordinary interpretation?

But, simple as the whole scene was in itself, it was very extraordinary, in view of the usual reserve which prevails among sailors. Still all efforts to bring her to remained sterile; and this was so extraordinary, that even Count Ville-Handry began to be moved, although at first he had been heard to exclaim,-- “Pshaw!

For some time the servants, quite amazed, saw him walk up and down the passage with feverish steps, and, in spite of his usual impassiveness, giving all the signs of extraordinary excitement. Whence this extraordinary impudence? Champcey fled from our house in the middle of the night, bareheaded, without taking his overcoat?” “Sir?” “Did you not think that was extraordinary? Then strange and incoherent thoughts arose deliriously in her head; her ears were filled with confused noises; her pulse beat with extraordinary vehemence; nausea nearly convulsed her; and from time to time she fancied terrific explosions were breaking her skull to pieces.

What was it?” The man, this time, turned crimson with rage, and cried out with extraordinary vehemence,-- “How do I know? “To cheat me, me!” Crochard went on with extraordinary vehemence,--“to cheat a friend, an old comrade! When Papa Ravinet had appeared the evening before, with his carpet-bag in his hand, his hurry had been so extraordinary, and his excitement so great, that one might have doubted his sanity. Daniel felt it; and hence he said, without hesitating any longer, but looking stealthily at Henrietta’s face,-- “Since that is so, I will not conceal from you that the Countess Sarah has written me a dozen letters of at least extraordinary nature.” “You have kept them, I hope?” “Yes; they are all in one of my trunks.” Papa Ravinet was evidently much embarrassed; but at last he said,-- “Ah! But most extraordinary ill luck had pursued him; so that, seeing the deficit growing larger and larger, and overcome with remorse and terror, he had almost gone mad, and ceased to put any restraint upon himself. /

If we allow that Madame Rogêt, from her age and grief, could not go over, (which is allowing a great deal,) there certainly must have been some one who would have thought it worth while to go over and attend the investigation, if they thought the body was that of Marie.THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURES OF ONE HANS PFAALL (*1) BY late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a high state of philosophical excitement. Indeed, phenomena have there occurred of a nature so completely unexpected--so entirely novel--so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions--as to leave no doubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears. It appears that on the---- day of---- (I am not positive about the date), a vast crowd of people, for purposes not specifically mentioned, were assembled in the great square of the Exchange in the well-conditioned city of Rotterdam. The day was warm--unusually so for the season--there was hardly a breath of air stirring; and the multitude were in no bad humor at being now and then besprinkled with friendly showers of momentary duration, that fell from large white masses of cloud which chequered in a fitful manner the blue vault of the firmament. It is, however, somewhat remarkable that many citizens of Rotterdam swore to having seen the same hat repeatedly before; and indeed the whole assembly seemed to regard it with eyes of familiarity; while the vrow Grettel Pfaall, upon sight of it, uttered an exclamation of joyful surprise, and declared it to be the identical hat of her good man himself. To be sure, some bones which were thought to be human, mixed up with a quantity of odd-looking rubbish, had been lately discovered in a retired situation to the east of Rotterdam, and some people went so far as to imagine that in this spot a foul murder had been committed, and that the sufferers were in all probability Hans Pfaall and his associates. It is not to be supposed, however, that the great Underduk suffered this impertinence on the part of the little old man to pass off with impunity. It is said, on the contrary, that during each and every one of his one-and twenty circumvolutions he emitted no less than one-and-twenty distinct and furious whiffs from his pipe, to which he held fast the whole time with all his might, and to which he intends holding fast until the day of his death. In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, soaring far away above the city, at length drifted quietly behind a cloud similar to that from which it had so oddly emerged, and was thus lost forever to the wondering eyes of the good citizens of Rotterdam. That functionary, however, had not failed, during his circumgyratory movements, to bestow a thought upon the important subject of securing the packet in question, which was seen, upon inspection, to have fallen into the most proper hands, being actually addressed to himself and Professor Rub-a-dub, in their official capacities of President and Vice-President of the Rotterdam College of Astronomy. It is well known to most of my fellow citizens, that for the period of forty years I continued to occupy the little square brick building, at the head of the alley called Sauerkraut, in which I resided at the time of my disappearance.

For, to speak the truth, until of late years, that the heads of all the people have been set agog with politics, no better business than my own could an honest citizen of Rotterdam either desire or deserve. But, as I was saying, we soon began to feel the effects of liberty and long speeches, and radicalism, and all that sort of thing. If a fire wanted fanning, it could readily be fanned with a newspaper, and as the government grew weaker, I have no doubt that leather and iron acquired durability in proportion, for, in a very short time, there was not a pair of bellows in all Rotterdam that ever stood in need of a stitch or required the assistance of a hammer. My house was literally besieged from morning till night, so that I began to rave, and foam, and fret like a caged tiger against the bars of his enclosure.

In other words, I believed, and still do believe, that truth, is frequently of its own essence, superficial, and that, in many cases, the depth lies more in the abysses where we seek her, than in the actual situations wherein she may be found. In the contemplation of the heavenly bodies it struck me forcibly that I could not distinguish a star with nearly as much precision, when I gazed on it with earnest, direct and undeviating attention, as when I suffered my eye only to glance in its vicinity alone. I was not, of course, at that time aware that this apparent paradox was occasioned by the center of the visual area being less susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the exterior portions of the retina. The secret I would make no difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right belongs to a citizen of Nantz, in France, by whom it was conditionally communicated to myself. I mention this circumstance, because I think it probable that hereafter the individual in question may attempt a balloon ascension with the novel gas and material I have spoken of, and I do not wish to deprive him of the honor of a very singular invention. I began to get uneasy, and worked away with all my might, for I verily believe the idiots supposed that I had entered into a compact with the devil, and that, in short, what I was now doing was nothing better than it should be.

To these speeches they gave, of course, their own interpretation; fancying, no doubt, that at all events I should come into possession of vast quantities of ready money; and provided I paid them all I owed, and a trifle more, in consideration of their services, I dare say they cared very little what became of either my soul or my carcass. This manoeuvre was totally unperceived on the part of the three duns; and, jumping into the car, I immediately cut the single cord which held me to the earth, and was pleased to find that I shot upward, carrying with all ease one hundred and seventy-five pounds of leaden ballast, and able to have carried up as many more. “Scarcely, however, had I attained the height of fifty yards, when, roaring and rumbling up after me in the most horrible and tumultuous manner, came so dense a hurricane of fire, and smoke, and sulphur, and legs and arms, and gravel, and burning wood, and blazing metal, that my very heart sunk within me, and I fell down in the bottom of the car, trembling with unmitigated terror. Indeed, I now perceived that I had entirely overdone the business, and that the main consequences of the shock were yet to be experienced.

I afterward carefully examined my head, shaking it repeatedly, and feeling it with minute attention, until I succeeded in satisfying myself that it was not, as I had more than half suspected, larger than my balloon. It now occurred to me that I suffered great uneasiness in the joint of my left ankle, and a dim consciousness of my situation began to glimmer through my mind. I brought them, however, after some trouble, at right angles to the body of the buckle, and was glad to find them remain firm in that position. “My body was now inclined towards the side of the car, at an angle of about forty-five degrees; but it must not be understood that I was therefore only forty-five degrees below the perpendicular. It should be remembered, however, that when I fell in the first instance, from the car, if I had fallen with my face turned toward the balloon, instead of turned outwardly from it, as it actually was; or if, in the second place, the cord by which I was suspended had chanced to hang over the upper edge, instead of through a crevice near the bottom of the car,--I say it may be readily conceived that, in either of these supposed cases, I should have been unable to accomplish even as much as I had now accomplished, and the wonderful adventures of Hans Pfaall would have been utterly lost to posterity, I had therefore every reason to be grateful; although, in point of fact, I was still too stupid to be anything at all, and hung for, perhaps, a quarter of an hour in that extraordinary manner, without making the slightest farther exertion whatsoever, and in a singularly tranquil state of idiotic enjoyment. “It was not until some time afterward that I recovered myself sufficiently to attend to the ordinary cares of the balloon.

Indeed, I had so well secured them in their places, that such an accident was entirely out of the question. “It is now high time that I should explain to your Excellencies the object of my perilous voyage. Your Excellencies will bear in mind that distressed circumstances in Rotterdam had at length driven me to the resolution of committing suicide. It was not, however, that to life itself I had any, positive disgust, but that I was harassed beyond endurance by the adventitious miseries attending my situation. Now, lest I should be supposed more of a madman than I actually am, I will detail, as well as I am able, the considerations which led me to believe that an achievement of this nature, although without doubt difficult, and incontestably full of danger, was not absolutely, to a bold spirit, beyond the confines of the possible. But it must be borne in mind that the form of the moon’s orbit being an ellipse of eccentricity amounting to no less than 0.05484 of the major semi-axis of the ellipse itself, and the earth’s centre being situated in its focus, if I could, in any manner, contrive to meet the moon, as it were, in its perigee, the above mentioned distance would be materially diminished. But, to say nothing at present of this possibility, it was very certain that, at all events, from the 237,000 miles I would have to deduct the radius of the earth, say 4,000, and the radius of the moon, say 1080, in all 5,080, leaving an actual interval to be traversed, under average circumstances, of 231,920 miles. There were, however, many particulars inducing me to believe that my average rate of travelling might possibly very much exceed that of thirty miles per hour, and, as these considerations did not fail to make a deep impression upon my mind, I will mention them more fully hereafter. From indications afforded by the barometer, we find that, in ascensions from the surface of the earth we have, at the height of 1,000 feet, left below us about one-thirtieth of the entire mass of atmospheric air, that at 10,600 we have ascended through nearly one-third; and that at 18,000, which is not far from the elevation of Cotopaxi, we have surmounted one-half the material, or, at all events, one-half the ponderable, body of air incumbent upon our globe. It is also calculated that at an altitude not exceeding the hundredth part of the earth’s diameter--that is, not exceeding eighty miles--the rarefaction would be so excessive that animal life could in no manner be sustained, and, moreover, that the most delicate means we possess of ascertaining the presence of the atmosphere would be inadequate to assure us of its existence.

But I did not fail to perceive that these latter calculations are founded altogether on our experimental knowledge of the properties of air, and the mechanical laws regulating its dilation and compression, in what may be called, comparatively speaking, the immediate vicinity of the earth itself; and, at the same time, it is taken for granted that animal life is and must be essentially incapable of modification at any given unattainable distance from the surface. The greatest height ever reached by man was that of 25,000 feet, attained in the aeronautic expedition of Messieurs Gay-Lussac and Biot. This is a moderate altitude, even when compared with the eighty miles in question; and I could not help thinking that the subject admitted room for doubt and great latitude for speculation. It is therefore evident that, ascend as high as we may, we cannot, literally speaking, arrive at a limit beyond which no atmosphere is to be found.

“On the other hand, I was aware that arguments have not been wanting to prove the existence of a real and definite limit to the atmosphere, beyond which there is absolutely no air whatsoever. On comparing the intervals between the successive arrivals of Encke’s comet at its perihelion, after giving credit, in the most exact manner, for all the disturbances due to the attractions of the planets, it appears that the periods are gradually diminishing; that is to say, the major axis of the comet’s ellipse is growing shorter, in a slow but perfectly regular decrease.

For it is evident that such a medium must, in retarding the comet’s velocity, increase its centripetal, by weakening its centrifugal force. Valz, that this apparent condensation of volume has its origin in the compression of the same ethereal medium I have spoken of before, and which is only denser in proportion to its solar vicinity? Granting that on my passage I should meet with atmosphere essentially the same as at the surface of the earth, I conceived that, by means of the very ingenious apparatus of M. “It is true that balloons, in the first stage of their ascensions from the earth, are known to rise with a velocity comparatively moderate. Now, the power of elevation lies altogether in the superior lightness of the gas in the balloon compared with the atmospheric air; and, at first sight, it does not appear probable that, as the balloon acquires altitude, and consequently arrives successively in atmospheric strata of densities rapidly diminishing--I say, it does not appear at all reasonable that, in this its progress upwards, the original velocity should be accelerated. On the other hand, I was not aware that, in any recorded ascension, a diminution was apparent in the absolute rate of ascent; although such should have been the case, if on account of nothing else, on account of the escape of gas through balloons ill-constructed, and varnished with no better material than the ordinary varnish. It seemed, therefore, that the effect of such escape was only sufficient to counterbalance the effect of some accelerating power. I now considered that, provided in my passage I found the medium I had imagined, and provided that it should prove to be actually and essentially what we denominate atmospheric air, it could make comparatively little difference at what extreme state of rarefaction I should discover it--that is to say, in regard to my power of ascending--for the gas in the balloon would not only be itself subject to rarefaction partially similar (in proportion to the occurrence of which, I could suffer an escape of so much as would be requisite to prevent explosion), but, being what it was, would, at all events, continue specifically lighter than any compound whatever of mere nitrogen and oxygen.

In the meantime, the force of gravitation would be constantly diminishing, in proportion to the squares of the distances, and thus, with a velocity prodigiously accelerating, I should at length arrive in those distant regions where the force of the earth’s attraction would be superseded by that of the moon. It has been observed, that, in balloon ascensions to any considerable height, besides the pain attending respiration, great uneasiness is experienced about the head and body, often accompanied with bleeding at the nose, and other symptoms of an alarming kind, and growing more and more inconvenient in proportion to the altitude attained.(*3) This was a reflection of a nature somewhat startling. Was it not probable that these symptoms would increase indefinitely, or at least until terminated by death itself? In a word, I conceived that, as the body should become habituated to the want of atmospheric pressure, the sensations of pain would gradually diminish--and to endure them while they continued, I relied with confidence upon the iron hardihood of my constitution. “Having attained the altitude before mentioned, that is to say three miles and three-quarters, I threw out from the car a quantity of feathers, and found that I still ascended with sufficient rapidity; there was, therefore, no necessity for discharging any ballast. Now, in my case, the versed sine--that is to say, the thickness of the segment beneath me--was about equal to my elevation, or the elevation of the point of sight above the surface. This was, to be sure, a singular recontre, for I had not believed it possible that a cloud of this nature could be sustained at so great an elevation. Upon so doing, I soon rose above the difficulty, and perceived immediately, that I had obtained a great increase in my rate of ascent. Had the balloon remained a very short while longer within the cloud--that is to say--had not the inconvenience of getting wet, determined me to discharge the ballast, inevitable ruin would have been the consequence. Thus I found that my senses would shortly give way altogether, and I had already clutched one of the valve ropes with the view of attempting a descent, when the recollection of the trick I had played the three creditors, and the possible consequences to myself, should I return, operated to deter me for the moment.

The difficulty of breathing, however, was diminished in a very slight degree, and I found that it would soon be positively necessary to make use of my condenser. In the meantime, looking toward the cat, who was again snugly stowed away upon my coat, I discovered to my infinite surprise, that she had taken the opportunity of my indisposition to bring into light a litter of three little kittens. I had imagined that the habitual endurance of the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the earth was the cause, or nearly so, of the pain attending animal existence at a distance above the surface. Thus it seemed to me evident that my rate of ascent was not only on the increase, but that the progression would have been apparent in a slight degree even had I not discharged the ballast which I did. This apparatus will require some little explanation, and your Excellencies will please to bear in mind that my object, in the first place, was to surround myself and cat entirely with a barricade against the highly rarefied atmosphere in which I was existing, with the intention of introducing within this barricade, by means of my condenser, a quantity of this same atmosphere sufficiently condensed for the purposes of respiration. That is to say, it (the bag) was drawn over the whole bottom of the car, up its sides, and so on, along the outside of the ropes, to the upper rim or hoop where the net-work is attached. Having thus inserted a portion of the cloth forming the upper part of the bag, I refastened the loops--not to the hoop, for that would have been impossible, since the cloth now intervened--but to a series of large buttons, affixed to the cloth itself, about three feet below the mouth of the bag, the intervals between the buttons having been made to correspond to the intervals between the loops. It is evident that the hoop would now drop down within the car, while the whole weight of the car itself, with all its contents, would be held up merely by the strength of the buttons.

This, at first sight, would seem an inadequate dependence; but it was by no means so, for the buttons were not only very strong in themselves, but so close together that a very slight portion of the whole weight was supported by any one of them. All that now remained was to fasten up the mouth of the enclosure; and this was readily accomplished by gathering the folds of the material together, and twisting them up very tightly on the inside by means of a kind of stationary tourniquet. In that portion of the cloth forming the bottom, was likewise, a fourth window, of the same kind, and corresponding with a small aperture in the floor of the car itself. Thus it seemed evident that a greater part of the uneasiness attending the removal of atmospheric pressure had actually worn off, as I had expected, and that much of the pain endured for the last two hours should have been attributed altogether to the effects of a deficient respiration. “At twenty minutes before nine o’clock--that is to say, a short time prior to my closing up the mouth of the chamber, the mercury attained its limit, or ran down, in the barometer, which, as I mentioned before, was one of an extended construction. It then indicated an altitude on my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twenty miles, and I consequently surveyed at that time an extent of the earth’s area amounting to no less than the three hundred-and-twentieth part of its entire superficies. At nine o’clock I had again lost sight of land to the eastward, but not before I became aware that the balloon was drifting rapidly to the N.

I observed now that even the lightest vapors never rose to more than ten miles above the level of the sea. I did not at first know what to make of this extraordinary phenomenon; not being able to believe that my rate of ascent had, of a sudden, met with so prodigious an acceleration.

But it soon occurred to me that the atmosphere was now far too rare to sustain even the feathers; that they actually fell, as they appeared to do, with great rapidity; and that I had been surprised by the united velocities of their descent and my own elevation. “By ten o’clock I found that I had very little to occupy my immediate attention. And I have in mind that the shadows of the trees which fell upon the lake remained not on the surface where they fell, but sunk slowly and steadily down, and commingled with the waves, while from the trunks of the trees other shadows were continually coming out, and taking the place of their brothers thus entombed. “At five o’clock, p.m., being engaged in regenerating the atmosphere within the chamber, I took that opportunity of observing the cat and kittens through the valve.

I could only account for all this by extending my theory, and supposing that the highly rarefied atmosphere around might perhaps not be, as I had taken for granted, chemically insufficient for the purposes of life, and that a person born in such a medium might, possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending its inhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near the earth, he might endure tortures of a similar nature to those I had so lately experienced. It has since been to me a matter of deep regret that an awkward accident, at this time, occasioned me the loss of my little family of cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter which a continued experiment might have afforded. Positively, there could not have intervened the tenth part of a second between the disengagement of the basket and its absolute and total disappearance with all that it contained. My good wishes followed it to the earth, but of course, I had no hope that either cat or kittens would ever live to tell the tale of their misfortune. It was not, however, until long after this time that the rays of the setting sun ceased to illumine the balloon; and this circumstance, although of course fully anticipated, did not fail to give me an infinite deal of pleasure. It was evident that, in the morning, I should behold the rising luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rotterdam, in spite of their situation so much farther to the eastward, and thus, day after day, in proportion to the height ascended, would I enjoy the light of the sun for a longer and a longer period. The consideration of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude; and it will hardly be believed, that, after the dangers I had undergone, I should look upon this business in so serious a light, as to give up all hope of accomplishing my ultimate design, and finally make up my mind to the necessity of a descent. I reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, and that many points in the routine of his existence are deemed essentially important, which are only so at all by his having rendered them habitual. It was very certain that I could not do without sleep; but I might easily bring myself to feel no inconvenience from being awakened at intervals of an hour during the whole period of my repose. I at length hit upon the following expedient, which, simple as it may seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of discovery, as an invention fully equal to that of the telescope, the steam-engine, or the art of printing itself.

“It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the elevation now attained, continued its course upward with an even and undeviating ascent, and the car consequently followed with a steadiness so perfect that it would have been impossible to detect in it the slightest vacillation whatever. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, as might happen, until, after a few experiments, it arrived at that exact degree of tightness, at which the water, oozing from the hole, and falling into the pitcher below, would fill the latter to the brim in the period of sixty minutes.

It was evident, that, at the expiration of an hour, the pitcher, getting full, would be forced to run over, and to run over at the mouth, which was somewhat lower than the rim. It was also evident, that the water thus falling from a height of more than four feet, could not do otherwise than fall upon my face, and that the sure consequences would be, to waken me up instantaneously, even from the soundest slumber in the world. I now lamented that my great elevation would, in this case, prevent my taking as accurate a survey as I could wish. It was evident that if the balloon held its present course, it would soon arrive above the Frozen Ocean, and I had now little doubt of ultimately seeing the Pole. Toward night the limits of my horizon very suddenly and materially increased, owing undoubtedly to the earth’s form being that of an oblate spheroid, and my arriving above the flattened regions in the vicinity of the Arctic circle. I had now ascended to so vast a distance, that nothing could with accuracy be discerned.

of the same day (at which time the barometer ran down), it might be fairly inferred that the balloon had now, at four o’clock in the morning of April the seventh, reached a height of not less, certainly, than 7,254 miles above the surface of the sea. Your Excellencies may, however, readily imagine that the confined regions hitherto unexplored within the limits of the Arctic circle, although situated directly beneath me, and therefore seen without any appearance of being foreshortened, were still, in themselves, comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a distance from the point of sight, to admit of any very accurate examination. Northwardly from that huge rim before mentioned, and which, with slight qualification, may be called the limit of human discovery in these regions, one unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet of ice continues to extend. Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that the balloon now hovered above the range of great lakes in the continent of North America, and was holding a course, due south, which would bring me to the tropics. Indeed, the direction I had hitherto taken, had filled me with uneasiness; for it was evident that, had I continued it much longer, there would have been no possibility of my arriving at the moon at all, whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only the small angle of 5 degrees 8’ 48”. It is needless to say that I became excessively alarmed, having, in the first instance, attributed the noise to the bursting of the balloon. Found a startling diminution in the apparent diameter of the earth, and a considerable increase, now observable for the first time, in that of the moon itself, which wanted only a few days of being full. To-day I became strongly impressed with the idea, that the balloon was now actually running up the line of apsides to the point of perigee--in other words, holding the direct course which would bring it immediately to the moon in that part of its orbit the nearest to the earth. About twelve o’clock I became aware, for the third time, of that appalling sound which had so astonished me before.

When my fears and astonishment had in some degree subsided, I had little difficulty in supposing it to be some mighty volcanic fragment ejected from that world to which I was so rapidly approaching, and, in all probability, one of that singular class of substances occasionally picked up on the earth, and termed meteoric stones for want of a better appellation.

It was impossible that human nature could endure this state of intense suffering much longer. It will be remembered that, on the thirteenth, the earth subtended an angular breadth of twenty-five degrees. “The balloon, then, had actually burst!” These were the first tumultuous ideas that hurried through my mind: “The balloon had positively burst!--I was falling--falling with the most impetuous, the most unparalleled velocity! “The stupor and surprise produced in my mind by this extraordinary change in the posture of affairs was perhaps, after all, that part of the adventure least susceptible of explanation. For the bouleversement in itself was not only natural and inevitable, but had been long actually anticipated as a circumstance to be expected whenever I should arrive at that exact point of my voyage where the attraction of the planet should be superseded by the attraction of the satellite--or, more precisely, where the gravitation of the balloon toward the earth should be less powerful than its gravitation toward the moon. The revolution itself must, of course, have taken place in an easy and gradual manner, and it is by no means clear that, had I even been awake at the time of the occurrence, I should have been made aware of it by any internal evidence of an inversion--that is to say, by any inconvenience or disarrangement, either about my person or about my apparatus. “It is almost needless to say that, upon coming to a due sense of my situation, and emerging from the terror which had absorbed every faculty of my soul, my attention was, in the first place, wholly directed to the contemplation of the general physical appearance of the moon. It will be remembered, that, in the earliest stage of my speculations upon the possibility of a passage to the moon, the existence, in its vicinity, of an atmosphere, dense in proportion to the bulk of the planet, had entered largely into my calculations; this too in spite of many theories to the contrary, and, it may be added, in spite of a general disbelief in the existence of any lunar atmosphere at all. My ideas on this topic had also received confirmation by a passage in the eighty-second volume of the Philosophical Transactions, in which it is stated that at an occultation of Jupiter’s satellites, the third disappeared after having been about 1” or 2” of time indistinct, and the fourth became indiscernible near the limb.(*4) “Cassini frequently observed Saturn, Jupiter, and the fixed stars, when approaching the moon to occultation, to have their circular figure changed into an oval one; and, in other occultations, he found no alteration of figure at all.

Hence it might be supposed, that at some times and not at others, there is a dense matter encompassing the moon wherein the rays of the stars are refracted. This approach, however, was still impetuous in the extreme; and it soon became alarmingly certain that, although I had probably not been deceived in the expectation of an atmosphere dense in proportion to the mass of the satellite, still I had been wrong in supposing this density, even at the surface, at all adequate to the support of the great weight contained in the car of my balloon. That it was not the case, however, my precipitous downfall gave testimony enough; why it was not so, can only be explained by a reference to those possible geological disturbances to which I have formerly alluded. As a last resource, therefore, having got rid of my coat, hat, and boots, I cut loose from the balloon the car itself, which was of no inconsiderable weight, and thus, clinging with both hands to the net-work, I had barely time to observe that the whole country, as far as the eye could reach, was thickly interspersed with diminutive habitations, ere I tumbled headlong into the very heart of a fantastical-looking city, and into the middle of a vast crowd of ugly little people, who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gave themselves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, like a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner, and eyeing me and my balloon askant, with their arms set a-kimbo. And indeed your Excellencies may well imagine that, after a residence of five years upon a planet not only deeply interesting in its own peculiar character, but rendered doubly so by its intimate connection, in capacity of satellite, with the world inhabited by man, I may have intelligence for the private ear of the States’ College of Astronomers of far more importance than the details, however wonderful, of the mere voyage which so happily concluded. I have much to say of the climate of the planet; of its wonderful alternations of heat and cold, of unmitigated and burning sunshine for one fortnight, and more than polar frigidity for the next; of a constant transfer of moisture, by distillation like that in vacuo, from the point beneath the sun to the point the farthest from it; of a variable zone of running water, of the people themselves; of their manners, customs, and political institutions; of their peculiar physical construction; of their ugliness; of their want of ears, those useless appendages in an atmosphere so peculiarly modified; of their consequent ignorance of the use and properties of speech; of their substitute for speech in a singular method of inter-communication; of the incomprehensible connection between each particular individual in the moon with some particular individual on the earth--a connection analogous with, and depending upon, that of the orbs of the planet and the satellites, and by means of which the lives and destinies of the inhabitants of the one are interwoven with the lives and destinies of the inhabitants of the other; and above all, if it so please your Excellencies--above all, of those dark and hideous mysteries which lie in the outer regions of the moon--regions which, owing to the almost miraculous accordance of the satellite’s rotation on its own axis with its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yet been turned, and, by God’s mercy, never shall be turned, to the scrutiny of the telescopes of man. Having reached the door, however, of the burgomaster’s dwelling, the professor ventured to suggest that as the messenger had thought proper to disappear--no doubt frightened to death by the savage appearance of the burghers of Rotterdam--the pardon would be of little use, as no one but a man of the moon would undertake a voyage to so vast a distance. That certain wags in Rotterdam have certain especial antipathies to certain burgomasters and astronomers. That an odd little dwarf and bottle conjurer, both of whose ears, for some misdemeanor, have been cut off close to his head, has been missing for several days from the neighboring city of Bruges. Well--what of that?

That the newspapers which were stuck all over the little balloon were newspapers of Holland, and therefore could not have been made in the moon. Fourthly, That Hans Pfaall himself, the drunken villain, and the three very idle gentlemen styled his creditors, were all seen, no longer than two or three days ago, in a tippling house in the suburbs, having just returned, with money in their pockets, from a trip beyond the sea. That it is an opinion very generally received, or which ought to be generally received, that the College of Astronomers in the city of Rotterdam, as well as other colleges in all other parts of the world,--not to mention colleges and astronomers in general,--are, to say the least of the matter, not a whit better, nor greater, nor wiser than they ought to be.

Locke; but as both have the character of hoaxes (although the one is in a tone of banter, the other of downright earnest), and as both hoaxes are on the same subject, the moon--moreover, as both attempt to give plausibility by scientific detail--the author of “Hans Pfaall” thinks it necessary to say, in self-defence, that his own jeu d’esprit was published in the “Southern Literary Messenger” about three weeks before the commencement of Mr. That the public were misled, even for an instant, merely proves the gross ignorance which is so generally prevalent upon subjects of an astronomical nature. Shortly before, too, he has himself observed that the lens would not render perceptible objects of less than eighteen inches in diameter; but even this, as I have said, is giving the glass by far too great power.

It may be observed, in passing, that this prodigious glass is said to have been molded at the glasshouse of Messrs. Herschel that this was a providential contrivance to protect the eyes of the animal from the great extremes of light and darkness to which all the inhabitants of our side of the moon are periodically subjected.” But this cannot be thought a very “acute” observation of the Doctor’s.

In the absence of the sun they have a light from the earth equal to that of thirteen full unclouded moons. The topography throughout, even when professing to accord with Blunt’s Lunar Chart, is entirely at variance with that or any other lunar chart, and even grossly at variance with itself. The points of the compass, too, are in inextricable confusion; the writer appearing to be ignorant that, on a lunar map, these are not in accordance with terrestrial points; the east being to the left, etc. has entered into details regarding oceans and other large bodies of water in the moon; whereas there is no astronomical point more positively ascertained than that no such bodies exist there. On page 23, we have the following: “What a prodigious influence must our thirteen times larger globe have exercised upon this satellite when an embryo in the womb of time, the passive subject of chemical affinity!” This is very fine; but it should be observed that no astronomer would have made such remark, especially to any journal of Science; for the earth, in the sense intended, is not only thirteen, but forty-nine times larger than the moon. A similar objection applies to the whole of the concluding pages, where, by way of introduction to some discoveries in Saturn, the philosophical correspondent enters into a minute schoolboy account of that planet--this to the “Edinburgh journal of Science!” But there is one point, in particular, which should have betrayed the fiction.

The real observer would have uttered an instant ejaculation of surprise (however prepared by previous knowledge) at the singularity of their position; the fictitious observer has not even mentioned the subject, but speaks of seeing the entire bodies of such creatures, when it is demonstrable that he could have seen only the diameter of their heads! It might as well be remarked, in conclusion, that the size, and particularly the powers of the man-bats (for example, their ability to fly in so rare an atmosphere--if, indeed, the moon have any), with most of the other fancies in regard to animal and vegetable existence, are at variance, generally, with all analogical reasoning on these themes; and that analogy here will often amount to conclusive demonstration. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add, that all the suggestions attributed to Brewster and Herschel, in the beginning of the article, about “a transfusion of artificial light through the focal object of vision,” etc., etc., belong to that species of figurative writing which comes, most properly, under the denomination of rigmarole. If, indeed, the casting of large lenses were all that is required, man’s ingenuity would ultimately prove equal to the task, and we might have them of any size demanded. And for this evil there is no remedy within human ability; for an object is seen by means of that light alone which proceeds from itself, whether direct or reflected. It has been easily calculated that, when the light proceeding from a star becomes so diffused as to be as weak as the natural light proceeding from the whole of the stars, in a clear and moonless night, then the star is no longer visible for any practical purpose. Je lui ai cette obligation entre les autres, de m’ auoir non seulement mis en main cc Livre en anglois, mais encore le Manuscrit du Sieur Thomas D’Anan, gentilhomme Eccossois, recommandable pour sa vertu, sur la version duquel j’ advoue que j’ ay tiré le plan de la mienne.” After some irrelevant adventures, much in the manner of Gil Blas, and which occupy the first thirty pages, the author relates that, being ill during a sea voyage, the crew abandoned him, together with a negro servant, on the island of St. Here he finds, among other odd things, that the people enjoy extreme happiness; that they have no law; that they die without pain; that they are from ten to thirty feet in height; that they live five thousand years; that they have an emperor called Irdonozur; and that they can jump sixty feet high, when, being out of the gravitating influence, they fly about with fans. “I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side of the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it the larger they seemed. “I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side of the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it the larger they seemed.

I have also to inform you that, whether it was calm weather or stormy, I found myself always immediately between the moon and the earth. I was convinced of this for two reasons-because my birds always flew in a straight line; and because whenever we attempted to rest, we were carried insensibly around the globe of the earth. For I admit the opinion of Copernicus, who maintains that it never ceases to revolve from the east to the west, not upon the poles of the Equinoctial, commonly called the poles of the world, but upon those of the Zodiac, a question of which I propose to speak more at length here-after, when I shall have leisure to refresh my memory in regard to the astrology which I learned at Salamanca when young, and have since forgotten.” Notwithstanding the blunders italicized, the book is not without some claim to attention, as affording a naive specimen of the current astronomical notions of the time.

One of these assumed, that the “gravitating power” extended but a short distance from the earth’s surface, and, accordingly, we find our voyager “carried insensibly around the globe,” etc. That of Bergerac is utterly meaningless. (*3) Since the original publication of Hans Pfaall, I find that Mr. (*4) Havelius writes that he has several times found, in skies perfectly clear, when even stars of the sixth and seventh magnitude were conspicuous, that, at the same altitude of the moon, at the same elongation from the earth, and with one and the same excellent telescope, the moon and its maculae did not appear equally lucid at all times. From the circumstances of the observation, it is evident that the cause of this phenomenon is not either in our air, in the tube, in the moon, or in the eye of the spectator, but must be looked for in something (an atmosphere?) existing about the moon. In these excursions he was usually accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be induced, neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what he considered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his young “Massa Will.” It is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand, conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, had contrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer. Just before sunset I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of my friend, whom I had not visited for several weeks--my residence being, at that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine miles from the Island, while the facilities of passage and re-passage were very far behind those of the present day. “Ah, if I had only known you were here!” said Legrand, “but it’s so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me a visit this very night of all others? The antennæ are--” “Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin on you,” here interrupted Jupiter; “de bug is a goole bug, solid, ebery bit of him, inside and all, sep him wing--neber feel half so hebby a bug in my life.” “Well, suppose it is, Jup,” replied Legrand, somewhat more earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded, “is that any reason for your letting the birds burn? “Well!” I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, “this is a strange scarabæus, I must confess: new to me: never saw anything like it before--unless it was a skull, or a death’s-head--which it more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under my observation.” “A death’s-head!” echoed Legrand--“Oh--yes--well, it has something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt.

I must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea of its personal appearance.” “Well, I don’t know,” said he, a little nettled, “I draw tolerably--should do it at least--have had good masters, and flatter myself that I am not quite a blockhead.” “But, my dear fellow, you are joking then,” said I, “this is a very passable skull--indeed, I may say that it is a very excellent skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of physiology--and your scarabæus must be the queerest scarabæus in the world if it resembles it. I presume you will call the bug scarabæus caput hominis, or something of that kind--there are many similar titles in the Natural Histories. I made them as distinct as they are in the original insect, and I presume that is sufficient.” “Well, well,” I said, “perhaps you have--still I don’t see them;” and I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn affairs had taken; his ill humor puzzled me--and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there were positively no antennæ visible, and the whole did bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death’s-head. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend. I rap him up in de paper and stuff piece ob it in he mouff--dat was de way.” “And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the beetle, and that the bite made him sick?” “I do n’t tink noffin about it--I nose it. I hope you have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little brusquerie of mine; but no, that is improbable.

I verily believe that my ill looks alone saved me a flogging. I assure you that it is of the highest importance. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand. “Him syfe, massa, and spade.” “Very true; but what are they doing here?” “Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis pon my buying for him in de town, and de debbils own lot of money I had to gib for em.” “But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your ‘Massa Will’ going to do with scythes and spades?” “Dat’s more dan I know, and debbil take me if I don’t blieve ‘tis more dan he know, too. But it’s all cum ob do bug.” Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by “de bug,” I now stepped into the boat and made sail. Nothing should tempt me to part with that scarabæus. Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?” “In what way?” I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart. Is it any wonder, then, that I prize it? Jupiter; bring me that scarabæus!” “What! It was a beautiful scarabæus, and, at that time, unknown to naturalists--of course a great prize in a scientific point of view.

The weight of the insect was very remarkable, and, taking all things into consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion respecting it; but what to make of Legrand’s concordance with that opinion, I could not, for the life of me, tell. “I sent for you,” said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had completed my examination of the beetle, “I sent for you, that I might have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of Fate and of the bug”-- “My dear Legrand,” I cried, interrupting him, “you are certainly unwell, and had better use some little precautions. Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement which you now perceive in me will be equally allayed.” “I am anxious to oblige you in any way,” I replied; “but do you mean to say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your expedition into the hills?” “It has.” “Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd proceeding.” “I am sorry--very sorry--for we shall have to try it by ourselves.” “Try it by yourselves! We shall start immediately, and be back, at all events, by sunrise.” “And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when this freak of yours is over, and the bug business (good God!) settled to your satisfaction, you will then return home and follow my advice implicitly, as that of your physician?” “Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for we have no time to lose.” With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. It was a species of table land, near the summit of an almost inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle, and interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the soil, and in many cases were prevented from precipitating themselves into the valleys below, merely by the support of the trees against which they reclined. The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly overgrown with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it would have been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and Jupiter, by direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a path to the foot of an enormously tall tulip-tree, which stood, with some eight or ten oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them all, and all other trees which I had then ever seen, in the beauty of its foliage and form, in the wide spread of its branches, and in the general majesty of its appearance. How many limbs have you passed?” “One, two, tree, four, fibe--I done pass fibe big limb, massa, pon dis side.” “Then go one limb higher.” In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that the seventh limb was attained. “Now, Jup,” cried Legrand, evidently much excited, “I want you to work your way out upon that limb as far as you can. Come now!--that’s a fine fellow.

Spose I drop him down fuss, and den de limb won’t break wid just de weight ob one nigger.” “You infernal scoundrel!” cried Legrand, apparently much relieved, “what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as that? As sure as you drop that beetle I’ll break your neck. now listen!--if you will venture out on the limb as far as you think safe, and not let go the beetle, I’ll make you a present of a silver dollar as soon as you get down.” “I’m gwine, Massa Will--deed I is,” replied the negro very promptly--“mos out to the eend now.” “Out to the end!” here fairly screamed Legrand, “do you say you are out to the end of that limb?” “Soon be to de eend, massa,--o-o-o-o-oh! Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk, of the tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached the peg, and thence farther unrolled it, in the direction already established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for the distance of fifty feet--Jupiter clearing away the brambles with the scythe. To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such amusement at any time, and, at that particular moment, would most willingly have declined it; for the night was coming on, and I felt much fatigued with the exercise already taken; but I saw no mode of escape, and was fearful of disturbing my poor friend’s equanimity by a refusal. Could I have depended, indeed, upon Jupiter’s aid, I would have had no hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by force; but I was too well assured of the old negro’s disposition, to hope that he would assist me, under any circumstances, in a personal contest with his master.

I made no doubt that the latter had been infected with some of the innumerable Southern superstitions about money buried, and that his phantasy had received confirmation by the finding of the scarabæus, or, perhaps, by Jupiter’s obstinacy in maintaining it to be “a bug of real gold.” A mind disposed to lunacy would readily be led away by such suggestions--especially if chiming in with favorite preconceived ideas--and then I called to mind the poor fellow’s speech about the beetle’s being “the index of his fortune.” Upon the whole, I was sadly vexed and puzzled, but, at length, I concluded to make a virtue of necessity--to dig with a good will, and thus the sooner to convince the visionary, by ocular demonstration, of the fallacy of the opinions he entertained. He, at length, became so obstreperous that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in the vicinity;--or, rather, this was the apprehension of Legrand;--for myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption which might have enabled me to get the wanderer home. A general pause ensued, and I began to hope that the farce was at an end.

was the skull nailed to the limb with the face outwards, or with the face to the limb?” “De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at de eyes good, widout any trouble.” “Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you dropped the beetle?”--here Legrand touched each of Jupiter’s eyes. “Twas dis eye, massa--de lef eye--jis as you tell me,” and here it was his right eye that the negro indicated. “That will do--must try it again.” Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied that I saw, certain indications of method, removed the peg which marked the spot where the beetle fell, to a spot about three inches to the westward of its former position. I dug eagerly, and now and then caught myself actually looking, with something that very much resembled expectation, for the fancied treasure, the vision of which had demented my unfortunate companion. At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be restrained, but the countenance of his master wore an air of extreme disappointment He urged us, however, to continue our exertions, and the words were hardly uttered when I stumbled and fell forward, having caught the toe of my boot in a large ring of iron that lay half buried in the loose earth.

During this interval we had fairly unearthed an oblong chest of wood, which, from its perfect preservation and wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing process--perhaps that of the Bi-chloride of Mercury. As the rays of the lanterns fell within the pit, there flashed upwards a glow and a glare, from a confused heap of gold and of jewels, that absolutely dazzled our eyes. Aint you shamed ob yourself, nigger?--answer me dat!” It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both master and valet to the expediency of removing the treasure. It was growing late, and it behooved us to make exertion, that we might get every thing housed before daylight. There were several very large and heavy coins, so worn that we could make nothing of their inscriptions. We estimated the entire contents of the chest, that night, at a million and a half of dollars; and upon the subsequent disposal of the trinkets and jewels (a few being retained for our own use), it was found that we had greatly undervalued the treasure. When, at length, we had concluded our examination, and the intense excitement of the time had, in some measure, subsided, Legrand, who saw that I was dying with impatience for a solution of this most extraordinary riddle, entered into a full detail of all the circumstances connected with it. You recollect also, that I became quite vexed at you for insisting that my drawing resembled a death’s-head. When you first made this assertion I thought you were jesting; but afterwards I called to mind the peculiar spots on the back of the insect, and admitted to myself that your remark had some little foundation in fact. I knew that my design was very different in detail from this--although there was a certain similarity in general outline.

My first idea, now, was mere surprise at the really remarkable similarity of outline--at the singular coincidence involved in the fact, that unknown to me, there should have been a skull upon the other side of the parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the scarabæus, and that this skull, not only in outline, but in size, should so closely resemble my drawing. I began distinctly, positively, to remember that there had been no drawing upon the parchment when I made my sketch of the scarabæus. Here was indeed a mystery which I felt it impossible to explain; but, even at that early moment, there seemed to glimmer, faintly, within the most remote and secret chambers of my intellect, a glow-worm-like conception of that truth which last night’s adventure brought to so magnificent a demonstration. Jupiter, with his accustomed caution, before seizing the insect, which had flown towards him, looked about him for a leaf, or something of that nature, by which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that his eyes, and mine also, fell upon the scrap of parchment, which I then supposed to be paper. “You remember that when I went to the table, for the purpose of making a sketch of the beetle, I found no paper where it was usually kept. You will, of course, ask ‘where is the connexion?’ I reply that the skull, or death’s-head, is the well-known emblem of the pirate. “I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not paper. Although one of its corners had been, by some accident, destroyed, it could be seen that the original form was oblong.

It was just such a slip, indeed, as might have been chosen for a memorandum--for a record of something to be long remembered and carefully preserved.” “But,” I interposed, “you say that the skull was not upon the parchment when you made the drawing of the beetle. When I considered all these particulars, I doubted not for a moment that heat had been the agent in bringing to light, upon the parchment, the skull which I saw designed upon it. You are well aware that chemical preparations exist, and have existed time out of mind, by means of which it is possible to write upon either paper or vellum, so that the characters shall become visible only when subjected to the action of fire. It was clear that the action of the caloric had been imperfect or unequal.

A closer scrutiny, however, satisfied me that it was intended for a kid.” “Ha! ha!” said I, “to be sure I have no right to laugh at you--a million and a half of money is too serious a matter for mirth--but you are not about to establish a third link in your chain--you will not find any especial connexion between your pirates and a goat--pirates, you know, have nothing to do with goats; they appertain to the farming interest.” “But I have just said that the figure was not that of a goat.” “Well, a kid then--pretty much the same thing.” “Pretty much, but not altogether,” said Legrand. But I was sorely put out by the absence of all else--of the body to my imagined instrument--of the text for my context.” “I presume you expected to find a letter between the stamp and the signature.” “Something of that kind. Perhaps, after all, it was rather a desire than an actual belief;--but do you know that Jupiter’s silly words, about the bug being of solid gold, had a remarkable effect upon my fancy?

Do you observe how mere an accident it was that these events should have occurred upon the sole day of all the year in which it has been, or may be, sufficiently cool for fire, and that without the fire, or without the intervention of the dog at the precise moment in which he appeared, I should never have become aware of the death’s-head, and so never the possessor of the treasure?” “But proceed--I am all impatience.” “Well; you have heard, of course, the many stories current--the thousand vague rumors afloat about money buried, somewhere upon the Atlantic coast, by Kidd and his associates. And that the rumors have existed so long and so continuous, could have resulted, it appeared to me, only from the circumstance of the buried treasure still remaining entombed. You will observe that the stories told are all about money-seekers, not about money-finders. It seemed to me that some accident--say the loss of a memorandum indicating its locality--had deprived him of the means of recovering it, and that this accident had become known to his followers, who otherwise might never have heard that treasure had been concealed at all, and who, busying themselves in vain, because unguided attempts, to regain it, had given first birth, and then universal currency, to the reports which are now so common. Have you ever heard of any important treasure being unearthed along the coast?” “Never.” “But that Kidd’s accumulations were immense, is well known. I took it for granted, therefore, that the earth still held them; and you will scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hope, nearly amounting to certainty, that the parchment so strangely found, involved a lost record of the place of deposit.” “But how did you proceed?” “I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the heat; but nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that the coating of dirt might have something to do with the failure; so I carefully rinsed the parchment by pouring warm water over it, and, having done this, I placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downwards, and put the pan upon a furnace of lighted charcoal. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me upon my solution of this enigma, I am quite sure that I should be unable to earn them.” “And yet,” said Legrand, “the solution is by no means so difficult as you might be lead to imagine from the first hasty inspection of the characters. These characters, as any one might readily guess, form a cipher--that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then, from what is known of Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of constructing any of the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my mind, at once, that this was of a simple species--such, however, as would appear, to the crude intellect of the sailor, absolutely insoluble without the key.” “And you really solved it?” “Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten thousand times greater.

E predominates so remarkably that an individual sentence of any length is rarely seen, in which it is not the prevailing character. We may, therefore, assume that; represents t, 4 represents h, and 8 represents e--the last being now well confirmed.

“But, having established a single word, we are enabled to establish a vastly important point; that is to say, several commencements and terminations of other words. We know that the; immediately ensuing is the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters succeeding this ‘the,’ we are cognizant of no less than five. “Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the ‘th,’ as forming no portion of the word commencing with the first t; since, by experiment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the vacancy, we perceive that no word can be formed of which this th can be a part.

“Translating, as before, we obtain good, which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the first two words are ‘A good.’ “It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as discovered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the rationale of their development. But be assured that the specimen before us appertains to the very simplest species of cryptograph. How is it possible to extort a meaning from all this jargon about ‘devil’s seats,’ ‘death’s heads,’ and ‘bishop’s hotels?’” “I confess,” replied Legrand, “that the matter still wears a serious aspect, when regarded with a casual glance. My first endeavor was to divide the sentence into the natural division intended by the cryptographist.” “You mean, to punctuate it?” “Something of that kind.” “But how was it possible to effect this?” “I reflected that it had been a point with the writer to run his words together without division, so as to increase the difficulty of solution. Acting upon this hint, I made the division thus: ‘A good glass in the Bishop’s hostel in the Devil’s seat--forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes--northeast and by north--main branch seventh limb east side--shoot from the left eye of the death’s-head--a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.’” “Even this division,” said I, “leaves me still in the dark.” “It left me also in the dark,” replied Legrand, “for a few days; during which I made diligent inquiry, in the neighborhood of Sullivan’s Island, for any building which went by the name of the ‘Bishop’s Hotel;’ for, of course, I dropped the obsolete word ‘hostel.’ Gaining no information on the subject, I was on the point of extending my sphere of search, and proceeding in a more systematic manner, when, one morning, it entered into my head, quite suddenly, that this ‘Bishop’s Hostel’ might have some reference to an old family, of the name of Bessop, which, time out of mind, had held possession of an ancient manor-house, about four miles to the northward of the Island. At length one of the most aged of the women said that she had heard of such a place as Bessop’s Castle, and thought that she could guide me to it, but that it was not a castle nor a tavern, but a high rock.

I made no doubt that here was the ‘devil’s seat’ alluded to in the MS., and now I seemed to grasp the full secret of the riddle. Nor did I hesitate to believe that the phrases, “forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes,’ and ‘northeast and by north,’ were intended as directions for the levelling of the glass. “I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular position. Of course, the ‘forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes’ could allude to nothing but elevation above the visible horizon, since the horizontal direction was clearly indicated by the words, ‘northeast and by north.’ This latter direction I at once established by means of a pocket-compass; then, pointing the glass as nearly at an angle of forty-one degrees of elevation as I could do it by guess, I moved it cautiously up or down, until my attention was arrested by a circular rift or opening in the foliage of a large tree that overtopped its fellows in the distance. I perceived that the design was to drop a bullet from the left eye of the skull, and that a bee-line, or, in other words, a straight line, drawn from the nearest point of the trunk through ‘the shot,’ (or the spot where the bullet fell,) and thence extended to a distance of fifty feet, would indicate a definite point--and beneath this point I thought it at least possible that a deposit of value lay concealed.” “All this,” I said, “is exceedingly clear, and, although ingenious, still simple and explicit. The instant that I left ‘the devil’s seat,’ however, the circular rift vanished; nor could I get a glimpse of it afterwards, turn as I would. What seems to me the chief ingenuity in this whole business, is the fact (for repeated experiment has convinced me it is a fact) that the circular opening in question is visible from no other attainable point of view than that afforded by the narrow ledge upon the face of the rock. This mistake made a difference of about two inches and a half in the ‘shot’--that is to say, in the position of the peg nearest the tree; and had the treasure been beneath the ‘shot,’ the error would have been of little moment; but ‘the shot,’ together with the nearest point of the tree, were merely two points for the establishment of a line of direction; of course the error, however trivial in the beginning, increased as we proceeded with the line, and by the time we had gone fifty feet, threw us quite off the scent.

But for my deep-seated impressions that treasure was here somewhere actually buried, we might have had all our labor in vain.” “But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swinging the beetle--how excessively odd! What are we to make of the skeletons found in the hole?” “That is a question I am no more able to answer than yourself. It is clear that Kidd--if Kidd indeed secreted this treasure, which I doubt not--it is clear that he must have had assistance in the labor. Let us suppose, gentle reader, that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight hundred and thirty, and let us, for a few minutes, imagine ourselves at that most grotesque habitation of man, the remarkable city of Antioch. To be sure there were, in Syria and other countries, sixteen cities of that appellation, besides the one to which I more particularly allude.

But ours is that which went by the name of Antiochia Epidaphne, from its vicinity to the little village of Daphne, where stood a temple to that divinity. “What broad and rapid river is that which forces its way, with innumerable falls, through the mountainous wilderness, and finally through the wilderness of buildings?” That is the Orontes, and it is the only water in sight, with the exception of the Mediterranean, which stretches, like a broad mirror, about twelve miles off to the southward. Therefore cease to regard that sea, and give your whole attention to the mass of houses that lie beneath us. You will remember that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight hundred and thirty. In the nineteenth century Antioch is--that is to say, Antioch will be--in a lamentable state of decay. It will have been, by that time, totally destroyed, at three different periods, by three successive earthquakes. Indeed, to say the truth, what little of its former self may then remain, will be found in so desolate and ruinous a state that the patriarch shall have removed his residence to Damascus. I see you profit by my advice, and are making the most of your time in inspecting the premises--in -satisfying your eyes With the memorials and the things of fame That most renown this city.-- I beg pardon; I had forgotten that Shakespeare will not flourish for seventeen hundred and fifty years to come. it towers above all others, and lies to the eastward of what I take to be the royal palace.” That is the new Temple of the Sun, who is adored in Syria under the title of Elah Gabalah. That deity will be found in the interior of yonder building.

You perceive, however, that he is neither a lamb, nor a goat, nor a satyr, neither has he much resemblance to the Pan of the Arcadians. he says the king is coming in triumph; that he is dressed in state; that he has just finished putting to death, with his own hand, a thousand chained Israelitish prisoners! “Do you hear that flourish of trumpets?” Yes: the king is coming! “Who?--where?--the king?--do not behold him--cannot say that I perceive him.” Then you must be blind. Beasts, did you say?--take care that you are not overheard. Do you not perceive that the animal has the visage of a man? Why, my dear sir, that cameleopard is no other than Antiochus Epiphanes, Antiochus the Illustrious, King of Syria, and the most potent of all the autocrats of the East!

It is true, that he is entitled, at times, Antiochus Epimanes--Antiochus the madman--but that is because all people have not the capacity to appreciate his merits. It is also certain that he is at present ensconced in the hide of a beast, and is doing his best to play the part of a cameleopard; but this is done for the better sustaining his dignity as king. My friend, it is well that you spoke in time. Remember that thou art Antiochus Epiphanes. This is well; for hadst thou, ‘Glory of the East,’ been half a second longer in reaching the gates of the Amphitheatre, there is not a bear’s cub in Epidaphne that would not have had a nibble at thy carcase. I see a vast hubbub in the hippodrome; what is the meaning of it, I beseech you?” That?--oh, nothing!

Footnotes--Four Beasts (*1) Flavius Vospicus says, that the hymn here introduced was sung by the rabble upon the occasion of Aurelian, in the Sarmatic war, having slain, with his own hand, nine hundred and fifty of the enemy. We know of them, among other things, that they are always to their possessor, when inordinately possessed, a source of the liveliest enjoyment. As the strong man exults in his physical ability, delighting in such exercises as call his muscles into action, so glories the analyst in that moral activity which disentangles. He derives pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bringing his talent into play. The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigorated by mathematical study, and especially by that highest branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on account of its retrograde operations, has been called, as if par excellence, analysis. It follows that the game of chess, in its effects upon mental character, is greatly misunderstood. I am not now writing a treatise, but simply prefacing a somewhat peculiar narrative by observations very much at random; I will, therefore, take occasion to assert that the higher powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess.

It is obvious that here the victory can be decided (the players being at all equal) only by some recherché movement, the result of some strong exertion of the intellect. When I say proficiency, I mean that perfection in the game which includes a comprehension of all the sources whence legitimate advantage may be derived. But it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule that the skill of the analyst is evinced. The necessary knowledge is that of what to observe. He examines the countenance of his partner, comparing it carefully with that of each of his opponents.

Between ingenuity and the analytic ability there exists a difference far greater, indeed, than that between the fancy and the imagination, but of a character very strictly analogous. It will be found, in fact, that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic. This young gentleman was of an excellent--indeed of an illustrious family, but, by a variety of untoward events, had been reduced to such poverty that the energy of his character succumbed beneath it, and he ceased to bestir himself in the world, or to care for the retrieval of his fortunes. I was deeply interested in the little family history which he detailed to me with all that candor which a Frenchman indulges whenever mere self is his theme. Seeking in Paris the objects I then sought, I felt that the society of such a man would be to me a treasure beyond price; and this feeling I frankly confided to him. It was at length arranged that we should live together during my stay in the city; and as my worldly circumstances were somewhat less embarrassed than his own, I was permitted to be at the expense of renting, and furnishing in a style which suited the rather fantastic gloom of our common temper, a time-eaten and grotesque mansion, long deserted through superstitions into which we did not inquire, and tottering to its fall in a retired and desolate portion of the Faubourg St. Then we sallied forth into the streets arm in arm, continuing the topics of the day, or roaming far and wide until a late hour, seeking, amid the wild lights and shadows of the populous city, that infinity of mental excitement which quiet observation can afford.

He boasted to me, with a low chuckling laugh, that most men, in respect to himself, wore windows in their bosoms, and was wont to follow up such assertions by direct and very startling proofs of his intimate knowledge of my own. Let it not be supposed, from what I have just said, that I am detailing any mystery, or penning any romance. All at once Dupin broke forth with these words: “He is a very little fellow, that’s true, and would do better for the Théâtre des Variétés.” “There can be no doubt of that,” I replied unwittingly, and not at first observing (so much had I been absorbed in reflection) the extraordinary manner in which the speaker had chimed in with my meditations. I do not hesitate to say that I am amazed, and can scarcely credit my senses. You were remarking to yourself that his diminutive figure unfitted him for tragedy.” This was precisely what had formed the subject of my reflections.

“It was the fruiterer,” replied my friend, “who brought you to the conclusion that the mender of soles was not of sufficient height for Xerxes et id genus omne.” “The fruiterer!--you astonish me--I know no fruiterer whomsoever.” “The man who ran up against you as we entered the street--it may have been fifteen minutes ago.” I now remembered that, in fact, a fruiterer, carrying upon his head a large basket of apples, had nearly thrown me down, by accident, as we passed from the Rue C ---- into the thoroughfare where we stood; but what this had to do with Chantilly I could not possibly understand. “I will explain,” he said, “and that you may comprehend all clearly, we will first retrace the course of your meditations, from the moment in which I spoke to you until that of the rencontre with the fruiterer in question. What, then, must have been my amazement when I heard the Frenchman speak what he had just spoken, and when I could not help acknowledging that he had spoken the truth. “You kept your eyes upon the ground--glancing, with a petulant expression, at the holes and ruts in the pavement, (so that I saw you were still thinking of the stones,) until we reached the little alley called Lamartine, which has been paved, by way of experiment, with the overlapping and riveted blocks. Here your countenance brightened up, and, perceiving your lips move, I could not doubt that you murmured the word ‘stereotomy,’ a term very affectedly applied to this species of pavement.

I knew that you could not say to yourself ‘stereotomy’ without being brought to think of atomies, and thus of the theories of Epicurus; and since, when we discussed this subject not very long ago, I mentioned to you how singularly, yet with how little notice, the vague guesses of that noble Greek had met with confirmation in the late nebular cosmogony, I felt that you could not avoid casting your eyes upward to the great nebula in Orion, and I certainly expected that you would do so. You did look up; and I was now assured that I had correctly followed your steps. But in that bitter tirade upon Chantilly, which appeared in yesterday’s ‘Musée,’ the satirist, making some disgraceful allusions to the cobbler’s change of name upon assuming the buskin, quoted a Latin line about which we have often conversed. “I had told you that this was in reference to Orion, formerly written Urion; and, from certain pungencies connected with this explanation, I was aware that you could not have forgotten it. It was clear, therefore, that you would not fail to combine the two ideas of Orion and Chantilly. That you did combine them I saw by the character of the smile which passed over your lips. I was then sure that you reflected upon the diminutive figure of Chantilly. At this point I interrupted your meditations to remark that as, in fact, he was a very little fellow--that Chantilly--he would do better at the Théâtre des Variétés.” Not long after this, we were looking over an evening edition of the “Gazette des Tribunaux,” when the following paragraphs arrested our attention. “After a thorough investigation of every portion of the house, without farther discovery, the party made its way into a small paved yard in the rear of the building, where lay the corpse of the old lady, with her throat so entirely cut that, upon an attempt to raise her, the head fell off. “but nothing whatever has transpired to throw light upon it.

“Pauline Dubourg, laundress, deposes that she has known both the deceased for three years, having washed for them during that period. Believed that Madame L. Was sure that they had no servant in employ. “Pierre Moreau, tobacconist, deposes that he has been in the habit of selling small quantities of tobacco and snuff to Madame L’Espanaye for nearly four years. Had heard it said among the neighbors that Madame L. “Isidore Muset, gendarme, deposes that he was called to the house about three o’clock in the morning, and found some twenty or thirty persons at the gateway, endeavoring to gain admittance. Could distinguish some words of the former, which was that of a Frenchman.

Was positive that it was not a woman’s voice. Could distinguish the words ‘sacré’ and ‘diable.’ The shrill voice was that of a foreigner. “Henri Duval, a neighbor, and by trade a silver-smith, deposes that he was one of the party who first entered the house. The shrill voice, this witness thinks, was that of an Italian. Could not be sure that it was a man’s voice. Could not distinguish the words, but was convinced by the intonation that the speaker was an Italian.

Was sure that the shrill voice was not that of either of the deceased. Was sure that the shrill voice was that of a man--of a Frenchman. “Adolphe Le Bon, clerk to Mignaud et Fils, deposes that on the day in question, about noon, he accompanied Madame L’Espanaye to her residence with the 4000 francs, put up in two bags. “William Bird, tailor deposes that he was one of the party who entered the house. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. Is sure that it was not the voice of an Englishman.

Appeared to be that of a German. “Four of the above-named witnesses, being recalled, deposed that the door of the chamber in which was found the body of Mademoiselle L. “Alfonzo Garcio, undertaker, deposes that he resides in the Rue Morgue. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. The shrill voice was that of an Englishman--is sure of this. “Alberto Montani, confectioner, deposes that he was among the first to ascend the stairs.

The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. “Several witnesses, recalled, here testified that the chimneys of all the rooms on the fourth story were too narrow to admit the passage of a human being. The body of Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was so firmly wedged in the chimney that it could not be got down until four or five of the party united their strength. “Paul Dumas, physician, deposes that he was called to view the bodies about day-break. The fact that it had been thrust up the chimney would sufficiently account for these appearances. There is not, however, the shadow of a clew apparent.” The evening edition of the paper stated that the greatest excitement still continued in the Quartier St. Roch--that the premises in question had been carefully re-searched, and fresh examinations of witnesses instituted, but all to no purpose. A postscript, however, mentioned that Adolphe Le Bon had been arrested and imprisoned--although nothing appeared to criminate him, beyond the facts already detailed.

It was only after the announcement that Le Bon had been imprisoned, that he asked me my opinion respecting the murders. In fact, as regards the more important knowledge, I do believe that she is invariably superficial. It was late in the afternoon when we reached it; as this quarter is at a great distance from that in which we resided. I have said that the whims of my friend were manifold, and that Je les ménageais:--for this phrase there is no English equivalent. It appears to me that this mystery is considered insoluble, for the very reason which should cause it to be regarded as easy of solution--I mean for the outré character of its features.

They are puzzled, too, by the seeming impossibility of reconciling the voices heard in contention, with the facts that no one was discovered up stairs but the assassinated Mademoiselle L’Espanaye, and that there were no means of egress without the notice of the party ascending. But it is by these deviations from the plane of the ordinary, that reason feels its way, if at all, in its search for the true.

In investigations such as we are now pursuing, it should not be so much asked ‘what has occurred,’ as ‘what has occurred that has never occurred before.’ In fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have arrived, at the solution of this mystery, is in the direct ratio of its apparent insolubility in the eyes of the police.” I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment. Of the worst portion of the crimes committed, it is probable that he is innocent. I hope that I am right in this supposition; for upon it I build my expectation of reading the entire riddle. It is true that he may not arrive; but the probability is that he will. His discourse was addressed to myself; but his voice, although by no means loud, had that intonation which is commonly employed in speaking to some one at a great distance. “That the voices heard in contention,” he said, “by the party upon the stairs, were not the voices of the women themselves, was fully proved by the evidence. Let me now advert--not to the whole testimony respecting these voices--but to what was peculiar in that testimony.

Did you observe any thing peculiar about it?” I remarked that, while all the witnesses agreed in supposing the gruff voice to be that of a Frenchman, there was much disagreement in regard to the shrill, or, as one individual termed it, the harsh voice. “That was the evidence itself,” said Dupin, “but it was not the peculiarity of the evidence. But in regard to the shrill voice, the peculiarity is--not that they disagreed--but that, while an Italian, an Englishman, a Spaniard, a Hollander, and a Frenchman attempted to describe it, each one spoke of it as that of a foreigner. Each is sure that it was not the voice of one of his own countrymen.

The Frenchman supposes it the voice of a Spaniard, and ‘might have distinguished some words had he been acquainted with the Spanish.’ The Dutchman maintains it to have been that of a Frenchman; but we find it stated that ‘not understanding French this witness was examined through an interpreter.’ The Englishman thinks it the voice of a German, and ‘does not understand German.’ The Spaniard ‘is sure’ that it was that of an Englishman, but ‘judges by the intonation’ altogether, ‘as he has no knowledge of the English.’ The Italian believes it the voice of a Russian, but ‘has never conversed with a native of Russia.’ A second Frenchman differs, moreover, with the first, and is positive that the voice was that of an Italian; but, not being cognizant of that tongue, is, like the Spaniard, ‘convinced by the intonation.’ Now, how strangely unusual must that voice have really been, about which such testimony as this could have been elicited!--in whose tones, even, denizens of the five great divisions of Europe could recognise nothing familiar! You will say that it might have been the voice of an Asiatic--of an African. “I know not,” continued Dupin, “what impression I may have made, so far, upon your own understanding; but I do not hesitate to say that legitimate deductions even from this portion of the testimony--the portion respecting the gruff and shrill voices--are in themselves sufficient to engender a suspicion which should give direction to all farther progress in the investigation of the mystery. I designed to imply that the deductions are the sole proper ones, and that the suspicion arises inevitably from them as the single result. I merely wish you to bear in mind that, with myself, it was sufficiently forcible to give a definite form--a certain tendency--to my inquiries in the chamber. It is not too much to say that neither of us believe in præternatural events. Fortunately, there is but one mode of reasoning upon the point, and that mode must lead us to a definite decision.--Let us examine, each by each, the possible means of egress. It is clear that the assassins were in the room where Mademoiselle L’Espanaye was found, or at least in the room adjoining, when the party ascended the stairs.

It is then only from these two apartments that we have to seek issues. It is only left for us to prove that these apparent ‘impossibilities’ are, in reality, not such. The police were now entirely satisfied that egress had not been in these directions. “My own examination was somewhat more particular, and was so for the reason I have just given--because here it was, I knew, that all apparent impossibilities must be proved to be not such in reality. A concealed spring must, I now know, exist; and this corroboration of my idea convinced me that my premises at least, were correct, however mysterious still appeared the circumstances attending the nails. “You will say that I was puzzled; but, if you think so, you must have misunderstood the nature of the inductions. I had traced the secret to its ultimate result,--and that result was the nail. It had, I say, in every respect, the appearance of its fellow in the other window; but this fact was an absolute nullity (conclusive us it might seem to be) when compared with the consideration that here, at this point, terminated the clew. Dropping of its own accord upon his exit (or perhaps purposely closed), it had become fastened by the spring; and it was the retention of this spring which had been mistaken by the police for that of the nail,--farther inquiry being thus considered unnecessary. “The next question is that of the mode of descent.

I observed, however, that the shutters of the fourth story were of the peculiar kind called by Parisian carpenters ferrades--a kind rarely employed at the present day, but frequently seen upon very old mansions at Lyons and Bordeaux. They are in the form of an ordinary door, (a single, not a folding door) except that the lower half is latticed or worked in open trellis--thus affording an excellent hold for the hands. When we saw them from the rear of the house, they were both about half open--that is to say, they stood off at right angles from the wall. It is probable that the police, as well as myself, examined the back of the tenement; but, if so, in looking at these ferrades in the line of their breadth (as they must have done), they did not perceive this great breadth itself, or, at all events, failed to take it into due consideration. In fact, having once satisfied themselves that no egress could have been made in this quarter, they would naturally bestow here a very cursory examination. It was clear to me, however, that the shutter belonging to the window at the head of the bed, would, if swung fully back to the wall, reach to within two feet of the lightning-rod. It was also evident that, by exertion of a very unusual degree of activity and courage, an entrance into the window, from the rod, might have been thus effected.--By reaching to the distance of two feet and a half (we now suppose the shutter open to its whole extent) a robber might have taken a firm grasp upon the trellis-work. “I wish you to bear especially in mind that I have spoken of a very unusual degree of activity as requisite to success in so hazardous and so difficult a feat.

It is my design to show you, first, that the thing might possibly have been accomplished:--but, secondly and chiefly, I wish to impress upon your understanding the very extraordinary--the almost præternatural character of that agility which could have accomplished it. “You will say, no doubt, using the language of the law, that ‘to make out my case,’ I should rather undervalue, than insist upon a full estimation of the activity required in this matter. My immediate purpose is to lead you to place in juxtaposition, that very unusual activity of which I have just spoken with that very peculiar shrill (or harsh) and unequal voice, about whose nationality no two persons could be found to agree, and in whose utterance no syllabification could be detected.” At these words a vague and half-formed conception of the meaning of Dupin flitted over my mind. “You will see,” he said, “that I have shifted the question from the mode of egress to that of ingress. It was my design to convey the idea that both were effected in the same manner, at the same point. How are we to know that the articles found in the drawers were not all these drawers had originally contained? I wish you, therefore, to discard from your thoughts the blundering idea of motive, engendered in the brains of the police by that portion of the evidence which speaks of money delivered at the door of the house.

Coincidences, in general, are great stumbling-blocks in the way of that class of thinkers who have been educated to know nothing of the theory of probabilities--that theory to which the most glorious objects of human research are indebted for the most glorious of illustration. “Keeping now steadily in mind the points to which I have drawn your attention--that peculiar voice, that unusual agility, and that startling absence of motive in a murder so singularly atrocious as this--let us glance at the butchery itself. In the manner of thrusting the corpse up the chimney, you will admit that there was something excessively outré--something altogether irreconcilable with our common notions of human action, even when we suppose the actors the most depraved of men. Think, too, how great must have been that strength which could have thrust the body up such an aperture so forcibly that the united vigor of several persons was found barely sufficient to drag it down! “Turn, now, to other indications of the employment of a vigor most marvellous. Monsieur Dumas, and his worthy coadjutor Monsieur Etienne, have pronounced that they were inflicted by some obtuse instrument; and so far these gentlemen are very correct. This idea, however simple it may now seem, escaped the police for the same reason that the breadth of the shutters escaped them--because, by the affair of the nails, their perceptions had been hermetically sealed against the possibility of the windows having ever been opened at all. But the voices of madmen, even in their wildest paroxysms, are never found to tally with that peculiar voice heard upon the stairs.

Tell me what you can make of it.” “Dupin!” I said, completely unnerved; “this hair is most unusual--this is no human hair.” “I have not asserted that it is,” said he; “but, before we decide this point, I wish you to glance at the little sketch I have here traced upon this paper.

Dumas and Etienne,) as a ‘series of livid spots, evidently the impression of fingers.’ “You will perceive,” continued my friend, spreading out the paper upon the table before us, “that this drawing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. Here is a billet of wood, the circumference of which is about that of the throat. I see that no animal but an Ourang-Outang, of the species here mentioned, could have impressed the indentations as you have traced them. This tuft of tawny hair, too, is identical in character with that of the beast of Cuvier. It is possible--indeed it is far more than probable--that he was innocent of all participation in the bloody transactions which took place. Germain--au troisiême. “How was it possible,” I asked, “that you should know the man to be a sailor, and belonging to a Maltese vessel?” “I do not know it,” said Dupin. Now if, after all, I am wrong in my induction from this ribbon, that the Frenchman was a sailor belonging to a Maltese vessel, still I can have done no harm in saying what I did in the advertisement. If I am in error, he will merely suppose that I have been misled by some circumstance into which he will not take the trouble to inquire. It was found in the Bois de Boulogne--at a vast distance from the scene of that butchery. How can it ever be suspected that a brute beast should have done the deed?

Should they even trace the animal, it would be impossible to prove me cognizant of the murder, or to implicate me in guilt on account of that cognizance. Should I avoid claiming a property of so great value, which it is known that I possess, I will render the animal at least, liable to suspicion. “I don’t mean that you should be at all this trouble for nothing, sir,” said the man. Am very willing to pay a reward for the finding of the animal--that is to say, any thing in reason.” “Well,” replied my friend, “that is all very fair, to be sure. I pledge you the honor of a gentleman, and of a Frenchman, that we intend you no injury. I perfectly well know that you are innocent of the atrocities in the Rue Morgue. It will not do, however, to deny that you are in some measure implicated in them.

From what I have already said, you must know that I have had means of information about this matter--means of which you could never have dreamed. An innocent man is now imprisoned, charged with that crime of which you can point out the perpetrator.” The sailor had recovered his presence of mind, in a great measure, while Dupin uttered these words; but his original boldness of bearing was all gone.

A lightning rod is ascended without difficulty, especially by a sailor; but, when he had arrived as high as the window, which lay far to his left, his career was stopped; the most that he could accomplish was to reach over so as to obtain a glimpse of the interior of the room. Now it was that those hideous shrieks arose upon the night, which had startled from slumber the inmates of the Rue Morgue. The victims must have been sitting with their backs toward the window; and, from the time elapsing between the ingress of the beast and the screams, it seems probable that it was not immediately perceived.

In conclusion, it seized first the corpse of the daughter, and thrust it up the chimney, as it was found; then that of the old lady, which it immediately hurled through the window headlong. Nevertheless, that he failed in the solution of this mystery, is by no means that matter for wonder which he supposes it; for, in truth, our friend the Prefect is somewhat too cunning to be profound. Men and circumstances generally modify the ideal train of events, so that it seems imperfect, and its consequences are equally imperfect. THERE are few persons, even among the calmest thinkers, who have not occasionally been startled into a vague yet thrilling half-credence in the supernatural, by coincidences of so seemingly marvellous a character that, as mere coincidences, the intellect has been unable to receive them.

Auguste Dupin, it did not occur to me that I should ever resume the subject. It may readily be supposed that the part played by my friend, in the drama at the Rue Morgue, had not failed of its impression upon the fancies of the Parisian police. The simple character of those inductions by which he had disentangled the mystery never having been explained even to the Prefect, or to any other individual than myself, of course it is not surprising that the affair was regarded as little less than miraculous, or that the Chevalier’s analytical abilities acquired for him the credit of intuition. It thus happened that he found himself the cynosure of the political eyes; and the cases were not few in which attempt was made to engage his services at the Prefecture. One of the most remarkable instances was that of the murder of a young girl named Marie Rogêt. Affairs went on thus until the latter had attained her twenty-second year, when her great beauty attracted the notice of a perfumer, who occupied one of the shops in the basement of the Palais Royal, and whose custom lay chiefly among the desperate adventurers infesting that neighborhood. All inquiry, except that of a private character, was of course immediately hushed. Marie, with Madame, replied to all questions, that the last week had been spent at the house of a relation in the country. It was about five months after this return home, that her friends were alarmed by her sudden disappearance for the second time. (*6) The atrocity of this murder, (for it was at once evident that murder had been committed,) the youth and beauty of the victim, and, above all, her previous notoriety, conspired to produce intense excitement in the minds of the sensitive Parisians.

Upon the first discovery of the corpse, it was not supposed that the murderer would be able to elude, for more than a very brief period, the inquisition which was immediately set on foot. It was not until the expiration of a week that it was deemed necessary to offer a reward; and even then this reward was limited to a thousand francs. No one doubted now that the mystery of this murder would be immediately brought to light. He wore spectacles, during the whole interview; and an occasional signal glance beneath their green glasses, sufficed to convince me that he slept not the less soundly, because silently, throughout the seven or eight leaden-footed hours which immediately preceded the departure of the Prefect. Freed from all that was positively disproved, this mass of information stood thus: Marie Rogêt left the residence of her mother, in the Rue Pavée St. In the afternoon, however, it came on to rain heavily; and, supposing that she would remain all night at her aunt’s, (as she had done under similar circumstances before,) he did not think it necessary to keep his promise. As night drew on, Madame Rogêt (who was an infirm old lady, seventy years of age,) was heard to express a fear “that she should never see Marie again;” but this observation attracted little attention at the time. On Monday, it was ascertained that the girl had not been to the Rue des Drômes; and when the day elapsed without tidings of her, a tardy search was instituted at several points in the city, and its environs.

It was not, however until the fourth day from the period of disappearance that any thing satisfactory was ascertained respecting her. Andrée, was informed that a corpse had just been towed ashore by some fishermen, who had found it floating in the river. Upon seeing the body, Beauvais, after some hesitation, identified it as that of the perfumery-girl.

The corpse was in such condition when found, that there could have been no difficulty in its recognition by friends. Among these, the one which attracted the most notice, was the idea that Marie Rogêt still lived--that the corpse found in the Seine was that of some other unfortunate. It will be proper that I submit to the reader some passages which embody the suggestion alluded to. From that hour, nobody is proved to have seen her. There has no person, whatever, come forward, so far, who saw her at all, on that day, after she left her mother’s door.... Now, though we have no evidence that Marie Rogêt was in the land of the living after nine o’clock on Sunday, June the twenty-second, we have proof that, up to that hour, she was alive.

This was, even if we presume that Marie Rogêt was thrown into the river within three hours after she left her mother’s house, only three days from the time she left her home--three days to an hour. But it is folly to suppose that the murder, if murder was committed on her body, could have been consummated soon enough to have enabled her murderers to throw the body into the river before midnight. Thus we see that if the body found in the river was that of Marie Rogêt, it could only have been in the water two and a half days, or three at the outside.

All experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately after death by violence, require from six to ten days for decomposition to take place to bring them to the top of the water. And, furthermore, it is exceedingly improbable that any villains who had committed such a murder as is here supposed, would have thrown the body in without weight to sink it, when such a precaution could have so easily been taken.” The editor here proceeds to argue that the body must have been in the water “not three days merely, but, at least, five times three days,” because it was so far decomposed that Beauvais had great difficulty in recognizing it. Beauvais says that he has no doubt the body was that of Marie Rogêt? Beauvais did not return that night, but sent word to Madame Rogêt, at seven o’clock, on Wednesday evening, that an investigation was still in progress respecting her daughter. If we allow that Madame Rogêt, from her age and grief, could not go over, (which is allowing a great deal,) there certainly must have been some one who would have thought it worth while to go over and attend the investigation, if they thought the body was that of Marie. Andrée, that reached even the occupants of the same building. Eustache, the lover and intended husband of Marie, who boarded in her mother’s house, deposes that he did not hear of the discovery of the body of his intended until the next morning, when M. For an item of news like this, it strikes us it was very coolly received.” In this way the journal endeavored to create the impression of an apathy on the part of the relatives of Marie, inconsistent with the supposition that these relatives believed the corpse to be hers. Its insinuations amount to this:--that Marie, with the connivance of her friends, had absented herself from the city for reasons involving a charge against her chastity; and that these friends, upon the discovery of a corpse in the Seine, somewhat resembling that of the girl, had availed themselves of the opportunity to impress the public with the belief of her death.

It was distinctly proved that no apathy, such as was imagined, existed; that the old lady was exceedingly feeble, and so agitated as to be unable to attend to any duty, that St.

Eustache, so far from receiving the news coolly, was distracted with grief, and bore himself so frantically, that M. Moreover, although it was stated by L’Etoile, that the corpse was re-interred at the public expense--that an advantageous offer of private sculpture was absolutely declined by the family--and that no member of the family attended the ceremonial:--although, I say, all this was asserted by L’Etoile in furtherance of the impression it designed to convey--yet all this was satisfactorily disproved. We are told that on one occasion, while a Madame B---- was at Madame Rogêt’s house, M. Beauvais, who was going out, told her that a gendarme was expected there, and she, Madame B., must not say anything to the gendarme until he returned, but let the matter be for him.... For some reason, he determined that nobody shall have any thing to do with the proceedings but himself, and he has elbowed the male relatives out of the way, according to their representations, in a very singular manner. The general impression, so far as we were enabled to glean it from the newspapers, seemed to be, that Marie had been the victim of a gang of desperadoes--that by these she had been borne across the river, maltreated and murdered. I quote a passage or two from its columns: “We are persuaded that pursuit has hitherto been on a false scent, so far as it has been directed to the Barrière du Roule. It is impossible that a person so well known to thousands as this young woman was, should have passed three blocks without some one having seen her; and any one who saw her would have remembered it, for she interested all who knew her. It is impossible that she could have gone to the Barrière du Roule, or to the Rue des Drômes, without being recognized by a dozen persons; yet no one has come forward who saw her outside of her mother’s door, and there is no evidence, except the testimony concerning her expressed intentions, that she did go out at all. Her gown was torn, bound round her, and tied; and by that the body was carried as a bundle.

The fact that the body was found floating near the Barrière, is no proof as to where it was thrown into the water..... There can be no doubt, therefore, that the spot of this appalling outrage has been discovered.” Consequent upon this discovery, new evidence appeared. Madame Deluc testified that she keeps a roadside inn not far from the bank of the river, opposite the Barrière du Roule.

It was soon after dark, upon this same evening, that Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, heard the screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn. An omnibus driver, Valence, (*13) now also testified that he saw Marie Rogêt cross a ferry on the Seine, on the Sunday in question, in company with a young man of dark complexion. It appears that, immediately after the discovery of the clothes as above described, the lifeless, or nearly lifeless body of St. “I need scarcely tell you,” said Dupin, as he finished the perusal of my notes, “that this is a far more intricate case than that of the Rue Morgue; from which it differs in one important respect. You will observe that, for this reason, the mystery has been considered easy, when, for this reason, it should have been considered difficult, of solution.

They could picture to their imaginations a mode--many modes--and a motive--many motives; and because it was not impossible that either of these numerous modes and motives could have been the actual one, they have taken it for granted that one of them must. I have before observed that it is by prominences above the plane of the ordinary, that reason feels her way, if at all, in her search for the true, and that the proper question in cases such as this, is not so much ‘what has occurred?’ as ‘what has occurred that has never occurred before?’ In the investigations at the house of Madame L’Espanaye, (*14) the agents of G---- were discouraged and confounded by that very unusualness which, to a properly regulated intellect, would have afforded the surest omen of success; while this same intellect might have been plunged in despair at the ordinary character of all that met the eye in the case of the perfumery-girl, and yet told of nothing but easy triumph to the functionaries of the Prefecture. “In the case of Madame L’Espanaye and her daughter there was, even at the beginning of our investigation, no doubt that murder had been committed. But it has been suggested that the corpse discovered, is not that of the Marie Rogêt for the conviction of whose assassin, or assassins, the reward is offered, and respecting whom, solely, our agreement has been arranged with the Prefect. If, dating our inquiries from the body found, and thence tracing a murderer, we yet discover this body to be that of some other individual than Marie; or, if starting from the living Marie, we find her, yet find her unassassinated--in either case we lose our labor; since it is Monsieur G---- with whom we have to deal. For our own purpose, therefore, if not for the purpose of justice, it is indispensable that our first step should be the determination of the identity of the corpse with the Marie Rogêt who is missing. “With the public the arguments of L’Etoile have had weight; and that the journal itself is convinced of their importance would appear from the manner in which it commences one of its essays upon the subject--‘Several of the morning papers of the day,’ it says, ‘speak of the conclusive article in Monday’s Etoile.’ To me, this article appears conclusive of little beyond the zeal of its inditer. We should bear in mind that, in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to create a sensation--to make a point--than to further the cause of truth. “What I mean to say is, that it is the mingled epigram and melodrame of the idea, that Marie Rogêt still lives, rather than any true plausibility in this idea, which have suggested it to L’Etoile, and secured it a favorable reception with the public.

“The first aim of the writer is to show, from the brevity of the interval between Marie’s disappearance and the finding of the floating corpse, that this corpse cannot be that of Marie. ‘It is folly to suppose,’ he says, ‘that the murder, if murder was committed on her body, could have been consummated soon enough to have enabled her murderers to throw the body into the river before midnight.’ We demand at once, and very naturally, why? Why is it folly to suppose that the murder was committed within five minutes after the girl’s quitting her mother’s house? Why is it folly to suppose that the murder was committed at any given period of the day? But, had the murder taken place at any moment between nine o’clock in the morning of Sunday, and a quarter before midnight, there would still have been time enough ‘to throw the body into the river before midnight.’ This assumption, then, amounts precisely to this--that the murder was not committed on Sunday at all--and, if we allow L’Etoile to assume this, we may permit it any liberties whatever. The paragraph beginning ‘It is folly to suppose that the murder, etc.,’ however it appears as printed in L’Etoile, may be imagined to have existed actually thus in the brain of its inditer--‘It is folly to suppose that the murder, if murder was committed on the body, could have been committed soon enough to have enabled her murderers to throw the body into the river before midnight; it is folly, we say, to suppose all this, and to suppose at the same time, (as we are resolved to suppose,) that the body was not thrown in until after midnight’--a sentence sufficiently inconsequential in itself, but not so utterly preposterous as the one printed. It is not, however, with L’Etoile that we have to do, but with the truth. The sentence in question has but one meaning, as it stands; and this meaning I have fairly stated: but it is material that we go behind the mere words, for an idea which these words have obviously intended, and failed to convey. It was the design of the journalist to say that, at whatever period of the day or night of Sunday this murder was committed, it was improbable that the assassins would have ventured to bear the corpse to the river before midnight. It is assumed that the murder was committed at such a position, and under such circumstances, that the bearing it to the river became necessary.

You will understand that I suggest nothing here as probable, or as cöincident with my own opinion.

“Having prescribed thus a limit to suit its own preconceived notions; having assumed that, if this were the body of Marie, it could have been in the water but a very brief time; the journal goes on to say: ‘All experience has shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately after death by violence, require from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them to the top of the water. (*15) This latter print endeavors to combat that portion of the paragraph which has reference to ‘drowned bodies’ only, by citing some five or six instances in which the bodies of individuals known to be drowned were found floating after the lapse of less time than is insisted upon by L’Etoile. But there is something excessively unphilosophical in the attempt on the part of Le Moniteur, to rebut the general assertion of L’Etoile, by a citation of particular instances militating against that assertion. “You will see at once that all argument upon this head should be urged, if at all, against the rule itself; and for this end we must examine the rationale of the rule.

Now the human body, in general, is neither much lighter nor much heavier than the water of the Seine; that is to say, the specific gravity of the human body, in its natural condition, is about equal to the bulk of fresh water which it displaces. But, leaving this tide out of question, it may be said that very few human bodies will sink at all, even in fresh water, of their own accord. Almost any one, falling into a river, will be enabled to float, if he suffer the specific gravity of the water fairly to be adduced in comparison with his own--that is to say, if he suffer his whole person to be immersed, with as little exception as possible. Thus circumstanced, we shall find that we float without difficulty and without exertion. It is evident, however, that the gravities of the body, and of the bulk of water displaced, are very nicely balanced, and that a trifle will cause either to preponderate. Much is also received into the stomach, and the whole body becomes heavier by the difference between the weight of the air originally distending these cavities, and that of the fluid which now fills them.

“The corpse, being supposed at the bottom of the river, will there remain until, by some means, its specific gravity again becomes less than that of the bulk of water which it displaces. When this distension has so far progressed that the bulk of the corpse is materially increased without a corresponding increase of mass or weight, its specific gravity becomes less than that of the water displaced, and it forthwith makes its appearance at the surface. Thus it is evident that we can assign no period, with any thing like accuracy, at which the corpse shall rise through decomposition. The effect produced by the firing of a cannon is that of simple vibration. ‘All experience shows,’ says this paper, ‘that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the water immediately after death by violence, require from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them to the top of the water. All experience does not show that ‘drowned bodies’ require from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place to bring them to the surface. Both science and experience show that the period of their rising is, and necessarily must be, indeterminate. I have shown how it is that the body of a drowning man becomes specifically heavier than its bulk of water, and that he would not sink at all, except for the struggles by which he elevates his arms above the surface, and his gasps for breath while beneath the surface--gasps which supply by water the place of the original air in the lungs.

“And now what are we to make of the argument, that the body found could not be that of Marie Rogêt, because, three days only having elapsed, this body was found floating? He means to anticipate what he imagines would be an objection to his theory--viz: that the body was kept on shore two days, suffering rapid decomposition--more rapid than if immersed in water. He supposes that, had this been the case, it might have appeared at the surface on the Wednesday, and thinks that only under such circumstances it could so have appeared. He is accordingly in haste to show that it was not kept on shore; for, if so, ‘some trace would be found on shore of the murderers.’ I presume you smile at the sequitur. “‘And furthermore it is exceedingly improbable,’ continues our journal, ‘that any villains who had committed such a murder as is here supposed, would have thrown the body in without weight to sink it, when such a precaution could have so easily been taken.’ Observe, here, the laughable confusion of thought! It is our reasoner’s object merely to show that this body is not Marie’s. He wishes to prove that Marie is not assassinated--not that the corpse was not. ‘We are perfectly convinced,’ it says, ‘that the body found was that of a murdered female.’ “Nor is this the sole instance, even in this division of his subject, where our reasoner unwittingly reasons against himself. Yet we find him urging the point that no person saw the girl from the moment of her leaving her mother’s house.

‘We have no evidence,’ he says, ‘that Marie Rogêt was in the land of the living after nine o’clock on Sunday, June the twenty-second.’ As his argument is obviously an ex parte one, he should, at least, have left this matter out of sight; for had any one been known to see Marie, say on Monday, or on Tuesday, the interval in question would have been much reduced, and, by his own ratiocination, the probability much diminished of the corpse being that of the grisette. It is, nevertheless, amusing to observe that L’Etoile insists upon its point in the full belief of its furthering its general argument. “Reperuse now that portion of this argument which has reference to the identification of the corpse by Beauvais. Beauvais strongly insists is, that the clasp on the garter found, had been set back to take it in. Beauvais, in his search for the body of Marie, discovered a corpse corresponding in general size and appearance to the missing girl, he would have been warranted (without reference to the question of habiliment at all) in forming an opinion that his search had been successful. If, the feet of Marie being small, those of the corpse were also small, the increase of probability that the body was that of Marie would not be an increase in a ratio merely arithmetical, but in one highly geometrical, or accumulative. It must have been by an accident, in its strictest sense, that these garters of Marie needed the tightening described.

But it is not that the corpse was found to have the garters of the missing girl, or found to have her shoes, or her bonnet, or the flowers of her bonnet, or her feet, or a peculiar mark upon the arm, or her general size and appearance--it is that the corpse had each, and all collectively. Could it be proved that the editor of L’Etoile really entertained a doubt, under the circumstances, there would be no need, in his case, of a commission de lunatico inquirendo. I would here observe that very much of what is rejected as evidence by a court, is the best of evidence to the intellect. The practice, in mass, is therefore philosophical; but it is not the less certain that it engenders vast individual error.

Beauvais (as it appears from your notes) had some personal interviews with the editor of L’Etoile, and offended him by venturing an opinion that the corpse, notwithstanding the theory of the editor, was, in sober fact, that of Marie. ‘He persists,’ says the paper, ‘in asserting the corpse to be that of Marie, but cannot give a circumstance, in addition to those which we have commented upon, to make others believe.’ Now, without re-adverting to the fact that stronger evidence ‘to make others believe,’ could never have been adduced, it may be remarked that a man may very well be understood to believe, in a case of this kind, without the ability to advance a single reason for the belief of a second party.

Once adopting the more charitable interpretation, we shall find no difficulty in comprehending the rose in the key-hole; the ‘Marie’ upon the slate; the ‘elbowing the male relatives out of the way;’ the ‘aversion to permitting them to see the body;’ the caution given to Madame B----, that she must hold no conversation with the gendarme until his return (Beauvais’); and, lastly, his apparent determination ‘that nobody should have anything to do with the proceedings except himself.’ It seems to me unquestionable that Beauvais was a suitor of Marie’s; that she coquetted with him; and that he was ambitious of being thought to enjoy her fullest intimacy and confidence. I shall say nothing more upon this point; and, as the evidence fully rebuts the assertion of L’Etoile, touching the matter of apathy on the part of the mother and other relatives--an apathy inconsistent with the supposition of their believing the corpse to be that of the perfumery-girl--we shall now proceed as if the question of identity were settled to our perfect satisfaction.” “And what,” I here demanded, “do you think of the opinions of Le Commerciel?” “That, in spirit, they are far more worthy of attention than any which have been promulgated upon the subject. Le Commerciel wishes to intimate that Marie was seized by some gang of low ruffians not far from her mother’s door. ‘It is impossible,’ it urges, ‘that a person so well known to thousands as this young woman was, should have passed three blocks without some one having seen her.’ This is the idea of a man long resident in Paris--a public man--and one whose walks to and fro in the city, have been mostly limited to the vicinity of the public offices. He is aware that he seldom passes so far as a dozen blocks from his own bureau, without being recognized and accosted.

And, knowing the extent of his personal acquaintance with others, and of others with him, he compares his notoriety with that of the perfumery-girl, finds no great difference between them, and reaches at once the conclusion that she, in her walks, would be equally liable to recognition with himself in his. In this particular instance, it will be understood as most probable, that she proceeded upon a route of more than average diversity from her accustomed ones. In this case, granting the personal acquaintances to be equal, the chances would be also equal that an equal number of personal rencounters would be made.

For my own part, I should hold it not only as possible, but as very far more than probable, that Marie might have proceeded, at any given period, by any one of the many routes between her own residence and that of her aunt, without meeting a single individual whom she knew, or by whom she was known. ‘It was when the streets were full of people,’ says Le Commerciel, ‘that she went out.’ But not so. Between ten and eleven the streets are thronged, but not at so early a period as that designated. You must have had occasion to observe how absolutely indispensable, of late years, to the thorough blackguard, has become the pocket-handkerchief.” “And what are we to think,” I asked, “of the article in Le Soleil?” “That it is a vast pity its inditer was not born a parrot--in which case he would have been the most illustrious parrot of his race. He has merely repeated the individual items of the already published opinion; collecting them, with a laudable industry, from this paper and from that. ‘The things had all evidently been there,’ he says, ‘at least, three or four weeks, and there can be no doubt that the spot of this appalling outrage has been discovered.’ The facts here re-stated by Le Soleil, are very far indeed from removing my own doubts upon this subject, and we will examine them more particularly hereafter in connexion with another division of the theme. “In that which I now propose, we will discard the interior points of this tragedy, and concentrate our attention upon its outskirts. Yet experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of truth, arises from the seemingly irrelevant. It is through the spirit of this principle, if not precisely through its letter, that modern science has resolved to calculate upon the unforeseen. The history of human knowledge has so uninterruptedly shown that to collateral, or incidental, or accidental events we are indebted for the most numerous and most valuable discoveries, that it has at length become necessary, in any prospective view of improvement, to make not only large, but the largest allowances for inventions that shall arise by chance, and quite out of the range of ordinary expectation.

“I repeat that it is no more than fact, that the larger portion of all truth has sprung from the collateral; and it is but in accordance with the spirit of the principle involved in this fact, that I would divert inquiry, in the present case, from the trodden and hitherto unfruitful ground of the event itself, to the contemporary circumstances which surround it.

It was given out by Monsieur Le Blanc and her mother, that she had merely been on a visit to some friend in the country; and the affair was speedily hushed up. We presume that the present absence is a freak of the same nature, and that, at the expiration of a week, or perhaps of a month, we shall have her among us again.”--Evening Paper--Monday June 23. It is well known that, during the week of her absence from Le Blanc’s parfumerie, she was in the company of a young naval officer, much noted for his debaucheries. Upon reaching the opposite shore, the three passengers stepped out, and had proceeded so far as to be beyond the view of the boat, when the daughter discovered that she had left in it her parasol. She returned for it, was seized by the gang, carried out into the stream, gagged, brutally treated, and finally taken to the shore at a point not far from that at which she had originally entered the boat with her parents. (*21) “We have received several forcibly written communications, apparently from various sources, and which go far to render it a matter of certainty that the unfortunate Marie Rogêt has become a victim of one of the numerous bands of blackguards which infest the vicinity of the city upon Sunday. Yet it is mere folly to say that between the first and second disappearance of Marie, there is no supposable connection. We are now prepared to view a second elopement (if we know that an elopement has again taken place) as indicating a renewal of the betrayer’s advances, rather than as the result of new proposals by a second individual--we are prepared to regard it as a ‘making up’ of the old amour, rather than as the commencement of a new one. The chances are ten to one, that he who had once eloped with Marie, would again propose an elopement, rather than that she to whom proposals of elopement had been made by one individual, should have them made to her by another.

And here let me call your attention to the fact, that the time elapsing between the first ascertained, and the second supposed elopement, is a few months more than the general period of the cruises of our men-of-war. “You will say, however, that, in the second instance, there was no elopement as imagined. Certainly not--but are we prepared to say that there was not the frustrated design? Who, then, is the secret lover, of whom the relatives (at least most of them) know nothing, but whom Marie meets upon the morning of Sunday, and who is so deeply in her confidence, that she hesitates not to remain with him until the shades of the evening descend, amid the solitary groves of the Barrière du Roule? Who is that secret lover, I ask, of whom, at least, most of the relatives know nothing? And what means the singular prophecy of Madame Rogêt on the morning of Marie’s departure?--‘I fear that I shall never see Marie again.’ “But if we cannot imagine Madame Rogêt privy to the design of elopement, may we not at least suppose this design entertained by the girl? Upon quitting home, she gave it to be understood that she was about to visit her aunt in the Rue des Drômes and St. That she did meet some companion, and proceed with him across the river, reaching the Barrière du Roule at so late an hour as three o’clock in the afternoon, is known. Eustache, when, calling for her, at the hour appointed, in the Rue des Drômes, he should find that she had not been there, and when, moreover, upon returning to the pension with this alarming intelligence, he should become aware of her continued absence from home. It is necessary that there be no chance of interruption--there must be sufficient time given us to elude pursuit--I will give it to be understood that I shall visit and spend the day with my aunt at the Rue des Drômes--I well tell St.

Eustache call for me at dark, he will be sure not to call before; but, if I wholly neglect to bid him call, my time for escape will be diminished, since it will be expected that I return the earlier, and my absence will the sooner excite anxiety.

Eustache call; for, calling, he will be sure to ascertain that I have played him false--a fact of which I might keep him for ever in ignorance, by leaving home without notifying him of my intention, by returning before dark, and by then stating that I had been to visit my aunt in the Rue des Drômes. But, as it is my design never to return--or not for some weeks--or not until certain concealments are effected--the gaining of time is the only point about which I need give myself any concern.’ “You have observed, in your notes, that the most general opinion in relation to this sad affair is, and was from the first, that the girl had been the victim of a gang of blackguards. When arising of itself--when manifesting itself in a strictly spontaneous manner--we should look upon it as analogous with that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of genius. But it is important that we find no palpable traces of suggestion. In the present instance, it appears to me that this ‘public opinion’ in respect to a gang, has been superinduced by the collateral event which is detailed in the third of my extracts. But it is now made known that, at the very period, or about the very period, in which it is supposed that the girl was assassinated, an outrage similar in nature to that endured by the deceased, although less in extent, was perpetuated, by a gang of young ruffians, upon the person of a second young female.

Is it wonderful that the one known atrocity should influence the popular judgment in regard to the other unknown? The connexion of the two events had about it so much of the palpable, that the true wonder would have been a failure of the populace to appreciate and to seize it.

But, in fact, the one atrocity, known to be so committed, is, if any thing, evidence that the other, committed at a time nearly coincident, was not so committed. “Notwithstanding the acclamation with which the discovery of this thicket was received by the press, and the unanimity with which it was supposed to indicate the precise scene of the outrage, it must be admitted that there was some very good reason for doubt. That it was the scene, I may or I may not believe--but there was excellent reason for doubt.

There is no real evidence, although Le Soleil so supposes, that the articles discovered had been more than a very few days in the thicket; while there is much circumstantial proof that they could not have remained there, without attracting attention, during the twenty days elapsing between the fatal Sunday and the afternoon upon which they were found by the boys. The upper part, where it had been doubled and folded, was all mildewed and rotten, and tore on being opened.’ In respect to the grass having ‘grown around and over some of them,’ it is obvious that the fact could only have been ascertained from the words, and thus from the recollections, of two small boys; for these boys removed the articles and took them home before they had been seen by a third party. But grass will grow, especially in warm and damp weather, (such as was that of the period of the murder,) as much as two or three inches in a single day. And touching that mildew upon which the editor of Le Soleil so pertinaciously insists, that he employs the word no less than three times in the brief paragraph just quoted, is he really unaware of the nature of this mildew? Is he to be told that it is one of the many classes of fungus, of which the most ordinary feature is its upspringing and decadence within twenty-four hours? “Thus we see, at a glance, that what has been most triumphantly adduced in support of the idea that the articles had been ‘for at least three or four weeks’ in the thicket, is most absurdly null as regards any evidence of that fact. On the other hand, it is exceedingly difficult to believe that these articles could have remained in the thicket specified, for a longer period than a single week--for a longer period than from one Sunday to the next. It is now especially that, released from the claims of labor, or deprived of the customary opportunities of crime, the town blackguard seeks the precincts of the town, not through love of the rural, which in his heart he despises, but by way of escape from the restraints and conventionalities of society. I say nothing more than what must be obvious to every dispassionate observer, when I repeat that the circumstance of the articles in question having remained undiscovered, for a longer period--than from one Sunday to another, in any thicket in the immediate neighborhood of Paris, is to be looked upon as little less than miraculous.

“But there are not wanting other grounds for the suspicion that the articles were placed in the thicket with the view of diverting attention from the real scene of the outrage.

You will find that the discovery followed, almost immediately, the urgent communications sent to the evening paper.

Now here, of course, the suspicion is not that, in consequence of these communications, or of the public attention by them directed, the articles were found by the boys; but the suspicion might and may well have been, that the articles were not before found by the boys, for the reason that the articles had not before been in the thicket; having been deposited there only at so late a period as at the date, or shortly prior to the date of the communications by the guilty authors of these communications themselves. Would it be a rash wager--a wager of one thousand to one--that a day never passed over the heads of these boys without finding at least one of them ensconced in the umbrageous hall, and enthroned upon its natural throne?

I repeat--it is exceedingly hard to comprehend how the articles could have remained in this thicket undiscovered, for a longer period than one or two days; and that thus there is good ground for suspicion, in spite of the dogmatic ignorance of Le Soleil, that they were, at a comparatively late date, deposited where found. In the narrow limits of that bower, it would have been scarcely possible that the petticoat and scarf should have retained a position upon the stones, when subjected to the brushing to and fro of many struggling persons. It is one of the rarest of accidents that a piece is ‘torn off,’ from any garment such as is now in question, by the agency of a thorn. And this in the supposition that the edge is unhemmed. We thus see the numerous and great obstacles in the way of pieces being ‘torn off’ through the simple agency of ‘thorns;’ yet we are required to believe not only that one piece but that many have been so torn. ‘And one part,’ too, ‘was the hem of the frock!’ Another piece was ‘part of the skirt, not the hem,’--that is to say, was torn completely out through the agency of thorns, from the uncaged interior of the dress! It is only necessary to say that his published inferences, in regard to the number of ruffians, have been properly ridiculed as unjust and totally baseless, by all the reputable anatomists of Paris.

Not that the matter might not have been as inferred, but that there was no ground for the inference:--was there not much for another? You will here bear in mind that the arguments urged against the thicket as the scene, are applicable in chief part, only against it as the scene of an outrage committed by more than a single individual. I have already mentioned the suspicion to be excited by the fact that the articles in question were suffered to remain at all in the thicket where discovered. It seems almost impossible that these evidences of guilt should have been accidentally left where found.

His is none of that confidence which the presence of numbers inevitably inspires. But now what treasure does the world hold--what threat of vengeance could it hold out--which would have power to urge the return of that lonely murderer over that toilsome and perilous path, to the thicket and its blood chilling recollections? “Consider now the circumstance that in the outer garment of the corpse when found, ‘a slip, about a foot wide had been torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist wound three times round the waist, and secured by a sort of hitch in the back.’ This was done with the obvious design of affording a handle by which to carry the body. The device is that of a single individual; and this brings us to the fact that ‘between the thicket and the river, the rails of the fences were found taken down, and the ground bore evident traces of some heavy burden having been dragged along it!’ But would a number of men have put themselves to the superfluous trouble of taking down a fence, for the purpose of dragging through it a corpse which they might have lifted over any fence in an instant? This was done by fellows who had no pocket-handkerchiefs.’ “I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard is never without a pocket-handkerchief. But it is not to this fact that I now especially advert. That it was not through want of a handkerchief for the purpose imagined by Le Commerciel, that this bandage was employed, is rendered apparent by the handkerchief left in the thicket; and that the object was not ‘to prevent screams’ appears, also, from the bandage having been employed in preference to what would so much better have answered the purpose. He resolved to drag the burthen--the evidence goes to show that it was dragged. He would have used this, but for its volution about the corpse, the hitch which embarrassed it, and the reflection that it had not been ‘torn off’ from the garment. That this ‘bandage,’ only attainable with trouble and delay, and but imperfectly answering its purpose--that this bandage was employed at all, demonstrates that the necessity for its employment sprang from circumstances arising at a period when the handkerchief was no longer attainable--that is to say, arising, as we have imagined, after quitting the thicket, (if the thicket it was), and on the road between the thicket and the river.

But the gang which has drawn upon itself the pointed animadversion, although the somewhat tardy and very suspicious evidence of Madame Deluc, is the only gang which is represented by that honest and scrupulous old lady as having eaten her cakes and swallowed her brandy, without putting themselves to the trouble of making her payment. It is no cause for wonder, surely, that even a gang of blackguards should make haste to get home, when a wide river is to be crossed in small boats, when storm impends, and when night approaches. It was only about dusk that the indecent haste of these ‘miscreants’ offended the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. But we are told that it was upon this very evening that Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, ‘heard the screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn.’ And in what words does Madame Deluc designate the period of the evening at which these screams were heard? Thus it is abundantly clear that the gang quitted the Barrière du Roule prior to the screams overheard (?) by Madame Deluc. Under the circumstances of large reward offered, and full pardon to any King’s evidence, it is not to be imagined, for a moment, that some member of a gang of low ruffians, or of any body of men, would not long ago have betrayed his accomplices. He betrays eagerly and early that he may not himself be betrayed.

That the secret has not been divulged, is the very best of proof that it is, in fact, a secret. The circumstance of the first elopement, as mentioned by Le Mercurie, tends to blend the idea of this seaman with that of the ‘naval officer’ who is first known to have led the unfortunate into crime. Let me pause to observe that the complexion of this man is dark and swarthy; it was no common swarthiness which constituted the sole point of remembrance, both as regards Valence and Madame Deluc.

But it may be said that this man lives, and is deterred from making himself known, through dread of being charged with the murder. This consideration might be supposed to operate upon him now--at this late period--since it has been given in evidence that he was seen with Marie--but it would have had no force at the period of the deed. Yet only under such circumstances is it possible to imagine that he would have failed, if alive, in the denouncement of the assassins.

Now we are to understand that Marie Rogêt was precipitated from a boat. That the body was found without weight is also corroborative of the idea.

Any risk would have been preferred to a return to that accursed shore. His natural thought would have been to cast from him, as far as possible, all that had held connection with his crime.

Let us pursue our fancies.--In the morning, the wretch is stricken with unutterable horror at finding that the boat has been picked up and detained at a locality which he is in the daily habit of frequenting --at a locality, perhaps, which his duty compels him to frequent. Now where is that rudderless boat? We feel it advisable only to state, in brief, that the result desired was brought to pass; and that the Prefect fulfilled punctually, although with reluctance, the terms of his compact with the Chevalier.

(*23)] It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and no more. That Nature and its God are two, no man who thinks, will deny.

That the latter, creating the former, can, at will, control or modify it, is also unquestionable. It is not that the Deity cannot modify his laws, but that we insult him in imagining a possible necessity for modification. I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of coincidences. And farther: in what I relate it will be seen that between the fate of the unhappy Mary Cecilia Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and the fate of one Marie Rogêt up to a certain epoch in her history, there has existed a parallel in the contemplation of whose wonderful exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. But let it not for a moment be supposed that, in proceeding with the sad narrative of Marie from the epoch just mentioned, and in tracing to its dénouement the mystery which enshrouded her, it is my covert design to hint at an extension of the parallel, or even to suggest that the measures adopted in Paris for the discovery of the assassin of a grisette, or measures founded in any similar ratiocination, would produce any similar result. For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, it should be considered that the most trifling variation in the facts of the two cases might give rise to the most important miscalculations, by diverting thoroughly the two courses of events; very much as, in arithmetic, an error which, in its own individuality, may be inappreciable, produces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all points of the process, a result enormously at variance with truth.

And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to hold in view that the very Calculus of Probabilities to which I have referred, forbids all idea of the extension of the parallel:--forbids it with a positiveness strong and decided just in proportion as this parallel has already been long-drawn and exact. Nothing, for example, is more difficult than to convince the merely general reader that the fact of sixes having been thrown twice in succession by a player at dice, is sufficient cause for betting the largest odds that sixes will not be thrown in the third attempt. It does not appear that the two throws which have been completed, and which lie now absolutely in the Past, can have influence upon the throw which exists only in the Future. The chance for throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it was at any ordinary time--that is to say, subject only to the influence of the various other throws which may be made by the dice. And this is a reflection which appears so exceedingly obvious that attempts to controvert it are received more frequently with a derisive smile than with anything like respectful attention. It may be sufficient here to say that it forms one of an infinite series of mistakes which arise in the path of Reason through her propensity for seeking truth in detail. It may not be improper to record, nevertheless, that the confessions of two persons, (one of them the Madame Deluc of the narrative) made, at different periods, long subsequent to the publication, confirmed, in full, not only the general conclusion, but absolutely all the chief hypothetical details by which that conclusion was attained. Thus the jurisprudence of every nation will show that, when law becomes a science and a system, it ceases to be justice.

But, in all the experiments made with models at the Adelaide Gallery, it was found that the operation of these fans not only did not propel the machine, but actually impeded its flight. “It was at this juncture that Mr. To accomplish the great desideratum of ærial navigation, it was very generally supposed that some exceedingly complicated application must be made of some unusually profound principle in dynamics. Mason of the ultimate success of his invention, that he determined to construct immediately, if possible, a balloon of sufficient capacity to test the question by a voyage of some extent--the original design being to cross the British Channel, as before, in the Nassau balloon. The rudder is also very much larger, in proportion, than that of the model; and the screw is considerably smaller. Green’s invention of the guide-rope,) the permission of the escape of gas from the valve; but, in the loss of gas, is a proportionate general loss of ascending power; so that, in a comparatively brief period, the best-constructed balloon must necessarily exhaust all its resources, and come to the earth. When there is no angle--in other words, when the rope hangs perpendicularly, the whole apparatus is stationary; but the larger the angle, that is to say, the farther the balloon precedes the end of the rope, the greater the velocity; and the converse. By means of the rudder we instantly effected the necessary change of direction, and our course was brought nearly at right angles to that of the wind; when we set in motion the spring of the screw, and were rejoiced to find it propel us readily as desired. We soon found ourselves driving out to sea at the rate of not less, certainly, than fifty or sixty miles an hour, so that we came up with Cape Clear, at some forty miles to our North, before we had secured the rod, and had time to think what we were about.

It was now that Mr. Holland--viz.: that we should take advantage of the strong gale which bore us on, and in place of beating back to Paris, make an attempt to reach the coast of North America. It is needless to say that a very short time sufficed us to lose sight of the coast. May God grant that we succeed!

And yet the feat is only so evidently feasible that the sole wonder is why men have scrupled to attempt it before. One single gale such as now befriends us--let such a tempest whirl forward a balloon for four or five days (these gales often last longer) and the voyager will be easily borne, in that period, from coast to coast. In a night such as is this to me, a man lives--lives a whole century of ordinary life--nor would I forego this rapturous delight for that of a whole century of ordinary existence. Ainsworth.] I have little to record, except the fact (to me quite a surprising one) that, at an elevation equal to that of Cotopaxi, I experienced neither very intense cold, nor headache, nor difficulty of breathing; neither, I find, did Mr. Who shall say that anything is impossible hereafter?” The Journal here ceases.

The inhabitants of the island, and of the fort, thronged out, of course, to see the balloon; but it was with the greatest difficulty that any one could be made to credit the actual voyage--the crossing of the Atlantic. In other words, the base and hypothenuse of the supposed triangle would be so long when compared with the perpendicular, that the two former may be regarded as nearly parallel. Hence the impression of concavity; and this impression must remain, until the elevation shall bear so great a proportion to the extent of prospect, that the apparent parallelism of the base and hypothenuse disappears--when the earth’s real convexity must become apparent.

Indeed, a strong relish for physical philosophy has, I fear, tinctured my mind with a very common error of this age--I mean the habit of referring occurrences, even the least susceptible of such reference, to the principles of that science. My uneasiness, however, prevented me from sleeping, and about midnight I went upon deck.--As I placed my foot upon the upper step of the companion-ladder, I was startled by a loud, humming noise, like that occasioned by the rapid revolution of a mill-wheel, and before I could ascertain its meaning, I found the ship quivering to its centre. We soon discovered that we were the sole survivors of the accident. The frame-work of our stern was shattered excessively, and, in almost every respect, we had received considerable injury; but to our extreme Joy we found the pumps unchoked, and that we had made no great shifting of our ballast. The main fury of the blast had already blown over, and we apprehended little danger from the violence of the wind; but we looked forward to its total cessation with dismay; well believing, that, in our shattered condition, we should inevitably perish in the tremendous swell which would ensue.

We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day--that day to me has not arrived--to the Swede, never did arrive. Thenceforward we were enshrouded in patchy darkness, so that we could not have seen an object at twenty paces from the ship. We observed too, that, although the tempest continued to rage with unabated violence, there was no longer to be discovered the usual appearance of surf, or foam, which had hitherto attended us. The swell surpassed anything I had imagined possible, and that we were not instantly buried is a miracle. My companion spoke of the lightness of our cargo, and reminded me of the excellent qualities of our ship; but I could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself, and prepared myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing could defer beyond an hour, as, with every knot of way the ship made, the swelling of the black stupendous seas became more dismally appalling. Although upreared upon the summit of a wave more than a hundred times her own altitude, her apparent size exceeded that of any ship of the line or East Indiaman in existence. But what mainly inspired us with horror and astonishment, was that she bore up under a press of sail in the very teeth of that supernatural sea, and of that ungovernable hurricane. Staggering as far aft as I could, I awaited fearlessly the ruin that was to overwhelm. The shock of the descending mass struck her, consequently, in that portion of her frame which was already under water, and the inevitable result was to hurl me, with irresistible violence, upon the rigging of the stranger.

I shall never--I know that I shall never--be satisfied with regard to the nature of my conceptions. Yet it is not wonderful that these conceptions are indefinite, since they have their origin in sources so utterly novel. It was but just now that I passed directly before the eyes of the mate--it was no long while ago that I ventured into the captain’s own private cabin, and took thence the materials with which I write, and have written. It is true that I may not find an opportunity of transmitting it to the world, but I will not fall to make the endeavour. From that period the ship, being thrown dead off the wind, has continued her terrific course due south, with every rag of canvas packed upon her, from her trucks to her lower studding-sail booms, and rolling every moment her top-gallant yard-arms into the most appalling hell of water which it can enter into the mind of a man to imagine.

It appears to me a miracle of miracles that our enormous bulk is not swallowed up at once and forever. In stature he is nearly my own height; that is, about five feet eight inches. * * * * * As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current; if that appellation can properly be given to a tide which, howling and shrieking by the white ice, thunders on to the southward with a velocity like the headlong dashing of a cataract. It is evident that we are hurrying onwards to some exciting knowledge--some never-to-be-imparted secret, whose attainment is destruction.

It must be confessed that a supposition apparently so wild has every probability in its favor. Found in a Bottle,” was originally published in 1831, and it was not until many years afterwards that I became acquainted with the maps of Mercator, in which the ocean is represented as rushing, by four mouths, into the (northern) Polar Gulf, to be absorbed into the bowels of the earth; the Pole itself being represented by a black rock, towering to a prodigious height. In these paintings, which depended from the walls not only in their main surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of the chateau rendered necessary--in these paintings my incipient delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest; so that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the room--since it was already night--to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head of my bed--and to throw open far and wide the fringed curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at least alternately to the contemplation of these pictures, and the perusal of a small volume which had been found upon the pillow, and which purported to criticise and describe them. It was an impulsive movement to gain time for thought--to make sure that my vision had not deceived me--to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain gaze. That I now saw aright I could not and would not doubt; for the first flashing of the candles upon that canvas had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor which was stealing over my senses, and to startle me at once into waking life. The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. Least of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I saw at once that the peculiarities of the design, of the vignetting, and of the frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea--must have prevented even its momentary entertainment. And he was a passionate, and wild, and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would not see that the light which fell so ghastly in that lone turret withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly to all but him.

Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak. And he would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. /

I should have been somewhat consoled if I had found him worthy of her; so I dogged him, as you, Monsieur Lecoq, cling to the criminal whom you are pursuing.He loved to make a parade of his profound indifference for everything, swearing that a rain of fire descending upon Paris, would not even make him turn his head. There, in the first room which they penetrated, they found, beside a trunk which had been assaulted, but which was not opened, a hatchet for splitting wood which the valet de chambre recognized as belonging to the house. One of them was engaged in breaking open this trunk, when the others, below, found the money; they called him; he hastened down, and thinking all further search useless, he left the hatchet here." "I see it," said the brigadier, "just as if I had been here." The ground-floor, which they next visited, had been respected. They found the remains of their supper in the dining-room. Farther on, they found a white silk handkerchief, which the valet declared he had often seen around the count's neck. This was asked with all the more curiosity, because their profound sorrow for a man who well merited it, was admired." The judge of instruction stopped M. The judge of instruction looked at him attentively, to reassure himself, but his visage expressed nothing but a profound serenity. They have just found the body of the Count de Tremorel." IV The mayor was mistaken. I've searched him, and this is what I have found in his pockets: a handkerchief, a pruning-knife, two small keys, a scrap of paper covered with figures, and an address of the establishment of 'Vulcan's Forges.' But that's not all--" The brigadier took a step, and eyed his auditors mysteriously; he was preparing his effect.

To-day, one hundred and sixty-seven francs are found in your wallet. What is this card of a hardware establishment that has been found in your pocket?" Guespin made a sign of desperation, and stammered: "I am innocent." "I have not as yet accused you," said the judge of instruction, quickly. "You knew, perhaps, that the count received a considerable sum yesterday?" A bitter smile parted Guespin's lips as he answered: "I know well enough that everything is against me." There was a profound silence. I found Paris a narrow limit for my vices; it seemed to me that the objects of my desires were wanting. I found myself well off. I am innocent; yet if the guilty are not found, I am lost. Yet I see clearly that if the murderer is not found, I am lost." Little by little M.

Plantat, especially, betrayed profound surprise. Meanwhile the count's body was nowhere to be found. Domini's opinion; and some fishermen were sent to drag the Seine, commencing their search a little above the place where the countess was found. They were anxious to get at Philippe Bertaud, the brigadier says; public opinion has a sharp scent." Hearing the door open, he turned, and found himself face to face with a man whose features were scarcely visible, so profoundly did he bow, his hat pressed against his breast.

The countess's body has been found--not so that of the count. Lecoq, "that some blood must have been found on the sheets. He found several keys on the carpet, and on a rack, a towel, which he carefully put one side, as if he deemed it important. "Well, Monsieur Lecoq," asked he, "have you found any new traces?" M. "I have found nothing decisive," answered he, "and I have found nothing to refute my conjectures. As soon as the detective found himself alone with M. He has found something so amazing, that he dares not explain himself." A sudden reflection changed the course of M. I've known so many of these folks whose eyes seem so very mysterious, and announce such wonders; after all, I found nothing, and was cheated. According to the mayor's account, the instrument with which all these things were broken has been found." "In the room in the second story," answered M.

Plantat, "overlooking the garden, we found a hatchet on the floor, near a piece of furniture which had been assailed, but not broken open; I forbade anyone to touch it." "And you did well. I said to myself: "A hatchet has been found in the second story; therefore the assassins carried it there, and designedly forgot it. A piece of cloth was found in the victim's hand; therefore it was put there by the murderers themselves. "Confound this old bundle of mystery!

But look you--if he has found something which has escaped us, he must have previous information, that we don't know of." Nothing had been disturbed in the garden. "It was here that one of the count's slippers was found; below there, a little to the right of these geraniums, his silk handkerchief was picked up." They reached the river-bank, and lifted, with great care, the planks which had been placed there to preserve the foot-prints. Had she been struck down here, she would have fallen violently; her weight, therefore, would have made the water spirt to some distance, as well as the mud; and we should certainly have found some splashes." "But don't you think that, since morning, the sun--" "The sun would have absorbed the water; but the stain of dry mud would have remained. I have found nothing of the sort anywhere. There was then no splash, therefore no violent fall; therefore the countess was not killed here; therefore her body was brought here, and carefully deposited where you found it." M. Lecoq, "I found the parallel trails of the feet, but yet the grass was crushed over a rather wide space. Domini, turning to the detective, "have you made any fresh discoveries?" "I have found some important facts; but I cannot speak decisively till I have seen everything by daylight.

They haven't yet found the count's body, and I think it has been carried down by the current. But they found at the end of the park, the count's other slipper, among the roses; and under the bridge, in the middle of the river, they discovered a thick vest which still bears the marks of blood." "And that vest is Guespin's?" "Exactly so. Plantat, "it was that which we found in the countess's hand." "You are right, Monsieur. Gendron shook his head sorrowfully, and answered, slowly and emphatically: "I will answer you, as you did me; 'tis nothing, I am already better." Then these two, equally profound, turned away their heads, as if fearing to exchange their ideas; they doubted lest their looks should betray them. The marks of the blows were thus more visible, but they still found upon that livid countenance, the traces of its beauty. "Well, we got here at last," resumed the man, "and monsieur rushed into the drawing-room, where he found madame sobbing like a Magdalene. It is he who has killed my child." The profound silence which succeeded proved to him that his conjecture was shared by those around him. He has, as you know, found reactive drugs which betray the presence of an alkaloid, whatever it may be, in the substances submitted to him for analysis. "Madame de Tremorel, you know, has been murdered: her papers have, of course, been examined; letters have been found, with very damaging revelations, receipts, and so on." Robelot, apparently, was once more self-possessed; he forced himself to answer: "Bast!

Plantat, and taking off his hat: "I surrender," said he, "and bow to you; you are great, like my master, the great Tabaret." The detective's amour-propre was clearly aroused; his professional zeal was inspired; he found himself before a great crime--one of those crimes which triple the sale of the Gazette of the Courts.

I've been looking about, under the furniture and so on, and have found this slip of paper." "Let's see." "It is the envelope of the young lady's letter. She was very talkative, so talkative that when she found no one to chat with, she went to confession; to confess was to chat. Petit found it useless to question their faces--they told her nothing. There is, indeed, but one means; to appropriate somebody else's money, shrewdly enough not to be found out. Then comes the great scene; the accused struggles, tries tricks, splits straws; but the judge, armed with the arms I have forged for him, overwhelms the wretch; he does not confess, but he is confounded. The table and bureau-drawers had been thrown here and there, but the narrow spaces between the drawers had been examined--I saw proofs of it, for I found the imprints of fingers on the dust which lay in these spaces. We found the mantel-shelves in their places, but every one had been lifted up. On the other hand, I found indications that the assassin must have been closely connected with Madame de Tremorel--her lover, or her husband. The object is to find a man whose guilt explains all the circumstances, all the details found--all, understand me.

The keys are on the carpet--I found them among the debris of the tea service--but he does not see them.

He soon goes up again, armed with a large hatchet--that found on the second story--and makes the pieces of wood fly about him. When he is in the drawing-room, he thinks he hears someone ring at the gate; such is his terror, that he lets his candle fall--for I have found the marks of it on the carpet.

He reflects that he has found nothing; that he will hardly have time, before day, to execute his plans for turning suspicion from him, and assure his safety, by creating an impression that he, too, has been murdered.

A towel on which I have found one of those marks which a razor leaves when it is wiped--and one only--has put me on the track of this fact. I looked about, and found a box of razors, one of which had recently been used, for it was still moist; and I have carefully preserved both the towel and the box. Plantat, "found on the second story, the position of which seemed so strange to you." "I am coming to that.

Lecoq, "from the various elements which have served to form our conviction, we must conclude that the contents of this letter, if it can be found, will clear away our last doubts, will explain the crime, and will render the assassin's precautions wholly useless. For he has not found it, but we will find it; it is necessary for us to have it to defeat Monsieur Domini, and to change our doubts into certainty." XI A long silence followed the detective's discourse. You got here this morning without information, without details, and by the mere scrutiny of the scene of the crime, by the sole force of reasoning, have found the criminal: more, you have proved to us that the criminal could be no other than he whom you have named." M. His biography was to be found in the petty journals of the day, which retailed his sayings--or what he might have said; his least actions and gestures were reported.

Never did so consummate a hypocrisy minister to so profound a perversity, and a depravity so inconceivable in a young and seemingly innocent girl. All the world said: "Bertha is foolishly fond of her husband." Sauvresy was sure of it, and he was the first to say, not caring to conceal his joy: "My wife adores me." Such were man and wife at Valfeuillu when Sauvresy found Tremorel on the banks of the Seine with a pistol in his hand. He forgot that he had found it a very simple thing in the morning to ask his friend for some linen. There is not a diamond on which a spot cannot be found with a microscope. She had found one of her old friends, who was now an accomplished dressmaker, and who was anxious to obtain a partner who had some money, while she herself furnished the experience. He found her beauty too sculptural and polished.

He found in her something of his past, and she always quarrelled with him, which woke him up.

"Your boat is foundering," he said to Hector; "let us begin by throwing all that is superfluous into the sea. Several of them had been already paid, but their receipts could not be found, and they were clamorous. Hector does not desert you, but he sees the necessity of assuring his future, and placing his life on a domestic foundation; he feels the need of a home." Jenny stopped crying.

"What does this letter mean," cried she warmly, "which I found in his pocket, six months ago? When his wife and his friend ascended to his room, after dinner, they found him shivering under the sheets, red, his forehead burning, his throat dry, and his eyes shining with an unusual brilliancy. It was a miracle that his valet had not put it on the mantel, as he was accustomed to do with the things which he found in his master's pockets. The vestibule lamp was out and he found some difficulty in opening the door; finally, he descended into the garden. At last he was conquered; he nodded, "Yes." Then she flung herself upon him, and the two shadows were confounded in a long embrace. Each day brought some new phase of it, which confounded the foresight of the doctors. "Poison!" stammered he, confounded. Look at this letter, which I found, crumpled up and wet, in one of his vest pockets." She showed him the letter which Sauvresy had forcibly taken from Jenny, and he recognized it well. "I have found it," said she.

I shall not be easy till they go away." Bertha's fears were not without foundation. "For you see," added he, "I don't think Monsieur Sauvresy can live more than two days!" Bertha, with her ear at the keyhole, had heard the doctor's prediction; and when Hector returned from conducting the physician to the door, he found her radiant. There was a moment of stupor, of silence so profound that Hector heard his temples beat. He continued, painfully: "This then, is our situation; you have killed me, you are going to be free, yet you hate and despise each other--" He stopped, and seemed to be suffocating; he tried to raise himself on his pillow and to sit up in bed, but found himself too feeble. My mind was always bent on that; I searched for a punishment as great as this crime; I found none, could find none.

They were indissolubly united, confounded in a common destiny; nothing could separate them but death. How cunningly he had found them out! Bertha, Hector, and Sauvresy accepted, without taking note of it, the strange position in which they found themselves; and they talked naturally, as if of matters of every-day life, and not of terrible events. "But would traces of aconitine be found in a body which had been two years buried? The value of the property found in the possession of this man, who had, two years before, lived from day to day on what he could pick up, were an over-whelming proof against him in addition to the others already discovered.

He found deeds of the Morin property and of the Frapesle and Peyron lands; there were also two bonds, for one hundred and fifty and eight hundred and twenty francs, signed by two Orcival citizens in Robelot's favor. Lecoq found that there were nineteen thousand five hundred francs. The old justice's face betrayed an expression of profound grief. Lecoq found a small piece of paper, covered with figures, deposited with the gold; it seemed to be Robelot's accounts.

What you will say will be of as much weight as anything I might divulge--especially now that you have Robelot's body to back your assertions, as well as the money found in his possession. As he receded from the period of the crime, he found it very simple and natural--indeed, the easiest thing in the world to account for. Has the count's body been found?" "There is much news, Monsieur," said M. "But the count's body has not been found, and I dare even say that it will not be found--for the very simple fact that he has not been killed.

It was, he found, the Gentil Jardinier which had procured Guespin his place in Tremorel's household. The money found in his pocket. But if my theory is correct, justice will be forced to agree that the several hundred francs found in Guespin's possession can and must be the change for the note." "That is only a theory," urged M. "You doubtless recollect that when we were at Valfeuillu we found the hands of the clock in the bedroom stopped at twenty minutes past three. Doubtless he had just found a solution of the problem which had been put to him. Then, when you learned that the count had been murdered during the night, recollecting that on the evening before you had bought all kinds of instruments of theft and murder, and that you didn't know either the address or the name of the woman to whom you gave up the package, convinced that if you explained the source of the money found in your pocket, you would not be believed--then, instead of thinking of the means to prove your innocence, you became afraid, and thought you would save yourself by holding your tongue." The prisoner's countenance visibly changed; his nerves relaxed; his tight lips fell apart; his mind opened itself to hope. Lecoq; "but confound his obstinacy; it was so easy for him to simplify my task. Domini, "Jenny will explain it all to us." "That is what I rely on; and I hope that within forty-eight hours I shall have found her and brought her safely to Corbeil." He rose at these words, took his cane and hat, and turning to the judge, said: "Before retiring--" "Yes, I know," interrupted M. He turned and found that it was Goulard who came to beg his favor and to ask him to take him along, persuaded that after having served under so great a captain he must inevitably become a famous man himself. Lecoq had some difficulty in getting rid of him; but he at length found himself alone in the street with the old justice of the peace.

Plantat did not take a seat; he preferred to examine the curious apartment in which he found himself. Plantat was confounded. He will be, as soon as we have found Miss Jenny." The old justice of the peace could not avoid showing his uneasiness. He isn't a man of superior shrewdness, for we have found out all his dodges. He found this method of reasoning very simple, and could now explain to himself certain exploits of the police which had hitherto seemed to him miraculous. I certainly deplore the frightful circumstances of this worthy man's death as much as anyone; but on the other hand, I cannot help rejoicing at this excellent opportunity to test the efficacy of my sensitive paper--" "Confound these men of science," cried the indignant Plantat. I expect that my conclusions will be disputed in court; but I have means of verifying them, so that I shall surely confound all the chemists who oppose me. Would you say, now, that this poison which he found in Sauvresy's body was stolen from his own laboratory?

I found myself alone in life, more lost than the shipwrecked man in the midst of the sea, without a plank to sustain me. I should have been somewhat consoled if I had found him worthy of her; so I dogged him, as you, Monsieur Lecoq, cling to the criminal whom you are pursuing. It was thus that I found out his interviews with Jenny and his relations with Bertha." "Why didn't you divulge them?" "Honor commanded silence.

What will happen when Sauvresy's narrative is found? It must be concealed somewhere in Valfeuillu, and Tremorel, at least, did not find it." "It will not be found," said M. Charman, as if profoundly convinced of the truth of her encomium. About a week ago Hector wrote to me to meet him at Melun; I went, found him, and we breakfasted together.

He added that he had found a means of doing this; on the evening of the marriage he would send the man on an errand for me, telling him that the affair was to be concealed from the countess. "How did you find out?" "I pumped one of the servants." "Confound you!" cried M.

As in the morning, he found it difficult to swallow anything, he was so anxious and depressed. Night having now come on the waiters began to light the chandeliers, and the two friends found themselves almost alone. We know that Sauvresy's declaration will not be found, but he does not; he thinks that perhaps it has been found, that suspicions have been aroused, and that he is already being searched for and pursued by the police." "I've considered all that," responded M.

I've been cudgelling my brain about it a good deal, and have found a way at last. Besides, he who seeks the end must use the means." He took up a pen, and as he smoked his cigar, rapidly wrote the following: "MONSIEUR WILSON: "Four of the thousand-franc notes which you paid me are counterfeits; I have just found it out by sending them to my banker's.

Was it she, too, who was about to become a mother, and found herself suffering from the excessive misery of blushing for that maternity which is the pride of pure young wives? /

Are you sure that he has not taken care to provide for your future?And while the company sipped the fragrant beverage which had been generously tinctured with cognac, provided by the butler, they all united in abusing their common enemy, the master of the house. Fortunat did not reply at once; but he drew the note with which he had provided himself from his pocket, and displayed it. In exchange I will give you this note of hand.” The husband and wife exchanged glances, and it was the woman who said: “We accept.” But to carry out this arrangement it was necessary to have a sheet of stamped paper, and the spurious clerk had neglected to provide himself with some. de Valorsay understood that it was necessary he should provide himself with an intelligent and devoted adviser. When his studies were finished, a tutor was provided--with his pockets full of gold--to conduct this favored youth to Italy, Egypt, and Greece. This young man on marrying had sworn that he would make a fortune; not that he cared for money for himself, but he wished to provide his idol with every luxury. F----, who is an advocate by profession, has always enjoyed an enviable reputation for integrity; and, unfortunately, this prank cannot be attributed to a momentary fit of madness, for the fact that he had provided himself with these cards in advance proves the act to have been premeditated. my dear young lady; my love for you compels me.” “Oh, enough!” interrupted Mademoiselle Marguerite; “enough, Leon!” Her tone was so determined that the housekeeper was compelled to yield; but not without a deep sigh, not without an imploring glance to Heaven, as if calling upon Providence to witness the purity of her motives and the usefulness of her praiseworthy efforts. Are you sure that he has not taken care to provide for your future?

“I was at last left alone with the superior, whom I longed to question, but she gave me no time to do so, for with extreme volubility she began to tell me of my surprising good fortune, which was an unanswerable and conclusive proof of the kindness and protection of Providence. However, as I remembered the superior’s assertion that it was a miracle in my favor--a wonderful interposition of Providence, I had courage enough to ask: ‘So it was not chance that guided you in your choice?’ “My question seemed to take him by surprise. I have thought of a better way; I have found an expedient which will provide for all emergencies.’ And as I ventured some timid objection--for it was repugnant to my sense of honor to act as an instrument of vengeance or injustice, or assist, even passively, in despoiling any person of his rightful inheritance--he harshly, almost brutally, replied: ‘Mind your own business! Thank Providence, and make haste to claim your money.” As a rule, the heir loyally fulfils his obligation. All these things were provided without delay, by the month, by the day or by the hour, just as the applicant pleased.

It was in a firm voice that she ordered her servant to go in search of the nearest furniture dealer, no matter which, provided he would pay cash. “If there was a God in heaven----” “Wretched boy!” interrupted Madame Ferailleur; “you blaspheme when Providence has already interposed on your behalf. She secretly watches over him, however--she provides him with money, and every day she finds some way of seeing him. She had provided herself with a candle and some matches, and as soon as she struck a light, she saw that her surmises were correct. Madame de Fondege was, as a rule, most imperious, envious, and spiteful in disposition; but on coming to the Hotel de Chalusse she had provided herself with any amount of sweetness and sensibility, and when she entered the room, she held her handkerchief to her lips as if to stifle her sobs. /

Galipaud had taken post at a wine-shop over the way, and was to be summoned whenever his presence was thought necessary.No, not merely asleep--the twisted unnatural lie of the limbs, the contorted legs, the one arm drooping listlessly but stiffly over the side of the berth, told of a deeper, more eternal sleep. Remember you will be held responsible to justice." The porter shuddered, so did many of the passengers who had overheard the Englishman's last words. The third to appear was the tall, gray-headed Englishman, who had taken a certain lead at the first discovery of the crime. "If monsieur permits," he volunteered to say after the formal questioning was over, "I can throw some light on this catastrophe." "And how so, pray? It is the first duty of a good detective to visit the actual theatre of a crime and overhaul it inch by inch,--seeking, searching, investigating, looking for any, even the most insignificant, traces of the murderer's hands. It was a question to be put presently to the porter and any others who had entered the car, but the discovery drew him to examine the window more closely, and with good results. Floçon made a second discovery. Floçon pounced down upon the contents of the berth, and commenced an immediate search for a lace scarf, or any wrap or cover with lace. Floçon was an experienced detective, and he knew so well that he ought to be on his guard against the most plausible suggestions, that he did not like to make too much of these discoveries. Why should she run away?" This question presented itself as one of infinite importance, to be pondered over seriously before he went further into the inquiry. Floçon told all he knew, all he had discovered, gave his views with all the force and fluency of a public prosecutor, and was congratulated warmly on the progress he had made.

"It is just this," replied Sir Charles, speaking fast and with much fierceness: "that lady there--poor thing, she is ill, you can see that for yourself, suffering, overwrought; she asked for a glass of water, and this brute, triple brute, as you say in French, refused to bring it." "I could not leave the room," protested the guard. "She has not yet recovered. He had no desire to try conclusions again with this very masterful person, who was, moreover, a general; as he had seen service, he had a deep respect for generals, even of foreign growth.

He shall go to the violon--to the nearest lock-up." The noise attracted also the Judge and the Commissary, and there were now six officials in all, including the guard, all surrounding the General, a sufficiently imposing force to overawe even the most recalcitrant fire-eater. But he would have time to go over them at his leisure, while the work of interrogation was undertaken by the Judge. And her name, age, place of birth?" "Hortense Petitpré, thirty-two, born, I believe, in Paris." The Judge, when these particulars had been given, looked over his shoulder towards the detective, but said nothing. I think she ought to be arrested at once." "We might, indeed we ought to have more evidence, more definite evidence, perhaps?" The Judge was musing over the facts as he knew them. le Prefet is anxious to avoid complications possibly international." As he spoke, he bent over, and, taking a magnifier from his pocket, examined the lace, which still fluttered where it was caught. "Wait, wait!" cried the Countess, shivering all over, and, feeling hastily for her purse, she took out several napoleons. I must have it to show." All this time the Countess was turning the jet over and over in her open palm, with a perplexed, disturbed, but hardly a terrified air. In her joy at her deliverance, either she had not given these a second thought, or she did not wish to appear anxious to recover them. Its financial soundness was doubted in certain circles, and the Government was warned that a great scandal was imminent.

So the matter was handed over to the police, and I was directed to make inquiries, and to keep my eye on this Quadling"--he jerked his thumb towards the platform, where the body might be supposed to be.

But one fact I discovered, and think it right to inform you of it at once. Beaumont le Hardi quickly turned over the sheets on which the Countess's evidence was recorded. I looked into his compartment once and saw him in the act of counting them over, a great quantity, in fact--" Again the officials looked at each other significantly. He was a stout, stumpy little man, with a barrel-like figure, greatly emphasized by the short frock coat he wore; he had smallish pig's eyes buried deep in a fat face, and his round, chubby cheeks hung low over his turned-down collar. The aisle would be full of people, both exits were thus practically overlooked." "My idea is--it is only an idea, understand--that the person had already left the car--that is to say, the interior of the car." "Escaped how?

Floçon, "The searcher did not discover any second mantle." "How do we know the woman examined thoroughly?" he replied. At Laroche the car emptied, as you may have heard; every one except the Countess, at least, went over to the restaurant for early coffee; I with the rest. Groote, the porter, came in, cringing and wretched, in the abject state of a man who has lately been drugged and is now slowly recovering. Madame has a beautiful face, and I gazed at it with sympathy, grieving for her, in fact, in such a trying situation; when suddenly I saw a great and remarkable change come over it." "Of what character?" "It was a look of horror, disgust, surprise,--a little perhaps of all three; I could not quite say which, it faded so quickly and was followed by a cold, deathlike pallor. That was how it struck me, and so forcibly that I turned to look over my shoulder, expecting to find the reason there. At last I discovered he had taken a back seat, through modesty perhaps, or to be out of observation--how was I to know? As he left us, he turned his head over his shoulder significantly and nodded very slightly, but still perceptibly, at the ball of paper. CHAPTER XIII The examination was now over, and, the dispositions having been drawn up and signed, the investigating officials remained for some time in conference.

His overcoat, stick, this book--his own private memorandum-book seemingly--" "Book? Hand it me," said the Chief, and when it came into his hands he began to turn over the leaves hurriedly. Allow me." He also turned over the pages, pausing to read a passage here and there, and nodding his head from time to time, evidently struck with the importance of the matter recorded. We do not know as yet the exact responsibility of each, the exact measure of their guilt; but I do not myself believe that the Countess was a prime mover, or, indeed, more than an accessory. He was fifty-one, he had weathered many trifling affairs of the heart, and here he was, bowled over at last, and by a woman he was not certain was entitled to his respect. Perhaps he yielded his ground the more readily that he saw over the General's shoulder the figure of Galipaud the detective looming in the archway.

It had been arranged that, as it was not advisable to have the inspector hanging about the courtyard of the hotel, the clerk or the manager should keep watch over the Countess and detain any visitors who might call upon her. Galipaud had taken post at a wine-shop over the way, and was to be summoned whenever his presence was thought necessary. You do not--will not think any worse of me?" She laid her hand gently on his arm, and his closed over it with such evident good-will that a blush crimsoned her cheek. Her hand was still on his arm, covered by his, and she nestled so close to him that it was easy, natural, indeed, for him to slip his other arm around her waist and draw her to him. He could not entirely conceal the trouble that now overcame him; it certainly did not escape so shrewd an observer as M. Now surely you will come over to our side?" "In what way?" "Tell us frankly all you know--where that lady has gone, help us to lay our hands on her." "Your own people will do that. Baume, as the Chief had called him, was a short, thick-set man with a great shock head sunk in low between a pair of enormous shoulders, betokening great physical strength; he stood on very thin but greatly twisted bow legs, and the quaintness of his figure was emphasized by the short black blouse or smock-frock he wore over his other clothes like a French artisan. CHAPTER XVIII Ripaldi's diary--its ownership plainly shown by the record of his name in full, Natale Ripaldi, inside the cover--was a commonplace note-book bound in shabby drab cloth, its edges and corners strengthened with some sort of white metal. The pages were of coarse paper, lined blue and red, and they were dog-eared and smirched as though they had been constantly turned over and used. It was terrible for the moment, but the worst would have been over, and now--" There was yet more, scribbled in the same faltering, agitated handwriting, and from the context the entries had been made in the waiting-room of the railroad station.

They saw at once that if this discovery were admitted to be an absolute fact, the whole drift of their conclusions must be changed.

"I am quite positive that the last pages were written by a different hand from the first." CHAPTER XIX For several minutes both the Judge and the detective pored over the note-book, examining page after page, shaking their heads, and declining to accept the evidence of their eyes. "Why did you not discover the change of identity? Directly the inquiry was over, he could steal away and resume his own personality--that of a man supposed to be dead, and therefore safe from all interference and future pursuit." "You mean--Upon my word, I compliment you, M. There are, moreover, many specially contrived refrigerating chests, in which those still unrecognized corpses are laid by for months, to be dragged out, if needs be, like carcasses of meat. "During the journey witness thought much over the situation. "Witness declared she was so terrified she could at first utter no cry, nor call for help, and before she could recover herself the murderer threatened her with the ensanguined knife. /

A cab was passing; he hailed it, jumped in, and cried to the driver,-- “Go quick, I say!Maxime happened to mention her just in passing; and I never thought that one of these days I should--If I seemed to be so very much surprised just now, it was because I remembered, all of a sudden, a very ugly story in which Maxime said she had been involved, and then”-- He was ridiculous in his inability to tell a fib; so, when he found that he was talking nonsense, he turned his head away to avoid Henrietta’s eyes. A cab was passing; he hailed it, jumped in, and cried to the driver,-- “Go quick, I say! It was a dark, freezing night; the sky was laden with clouds which hung so low, that they nearly touched the roofs of the houses; and a furious wind was shaking the black branches of the trees in the Champs Elysees, passing through the air like a fine dust of snow. How often, as he stood leaning against the monkey-railing, and saw boats passing by which carried officers, had he said to himself,-- “When I am a navy lieutenant!” Well, now he was a lieutenant. If you were willing even now!” She became excited almost to exaltation; her eyes, moist with tears, shone with matchless splendor; passing blushes colored her face; and her voice had strange, weird vibrations. But time was passing; and every minute made it more difficult to let M. A passing blush colored the cheeks of M. “Great God!” she said, “what must I do?” A passing smile appeared on the face of M. Work, and wealth will come with fame,--immense, boundless wealth, surpassing all your dreams. /

"Take this," said he to Tremorel, "and read aloud what I have just added." Hector complied with his friend's request, with trembling voice: "This day, being sound in mind, though much suffering, I declare that I do not wish to change a line of this will.He thought he would cut off a branch of one of the old willows, which at this place touch the water with their drooping branches. He had scarcely drawn his knife from his pocket, while looking about him with the poacher's unquiet glance, when he uttered a low cry, "Father!

Father!" "What's the matter?" responded the old marauder, without pausing from his work. Her long, dishevelled locks lay among the water-shrubs; her dress--of gray silk--was soiled with mire and blood. "You ought never to touch the body of a murdered person without legal authority." "You think so?" "Certainly. They'll find her body without you. "We are not savages; we will tell Monsieur Courtois that in passing along by the park in our boat, we perceived the body." Old Jean resisted at first; then, seeing that his son would, if need be, go without him, yielded. Courtois entered business without a penny, and after thirty years of absorbing toil, he retired with four round millions of francs. Then he proposed to live tranquilly with his wife and children, passing the winter at Paris and the summer at his country-house. It quite befits him, with clouded brow, to rail at the cares of power; he appears yet better when, his waist encircled with the gold-laced scarf, he goes in triumph at the head of the municipal body.

"My God!" stammered he, unable to control his emotion, "what do you say--a crime!" "Yes; we have just discovered a body; and as sure as you are here, I believe it to be that of the countess." The worthy man raised his arms heavenward, with a wandering air. With ear and eye alternately pressed against the key-hole, he heard and looked with all his might.

These successive losses crushed a man whom thirty years of happiness left without defence against misfortune. He wished to establish himself at his ease in his grief, with the certainty of not being disturbed in its indulgence. The mayor rang more vigorously, then with all his strength; but in vain. Madame even said to Monsieur that she should not shut her eyes the whole night, with this immense sum in the house." There was a silence; each one looked at the others with a frightened air. One left us on reaching the Lyons station at Paris; it was Guespin." "Yes, sir; he went away, saying that he would rejoin us at Wepler's, in the Batignolles, where the wedding took place." The mayor nudged the justice with his elbow, as if to attract his attention, and continued to question the chambermaid. The more difficult the preliminary examination of this affair seemed, the more determined he was to carry it on with dignity. Courtois perceived, with horror, that his hands were stained. Alas, authority brings with it terrible obligations!

There was nothing unusual in the apartment; it was a boudoir hung in blue satin, furnished with a couch and four arm-chairs, covered also with blue satin. A band of furious maniacs, or criminals seized with a frenzy, had certainly passed the night in the house. The assassins had not taken the trouble to force the locks; they had gone to work with a hatchet.

Couches, chairs, canopies were cut and torn as if they had been lunged at with swords. Before the house was a grassy lawn, interspersed with flower-beds. This handkerchief was stained with blood. Both had seen her in this gray robe, adorned with blue trimmings. They had pursued her, had caught up with her there, and she had fallen to rise no more. "That will be the quickest way," said he, "I will go for a ladder which we will put across." He went off, and quickly reappeared with his improvised foot-bridge. When they had reached the boat, he said to Jean, "Is this the boat with which you went to take up your nets this morning?" "Yes." "Then," resumed M. As for old Jean, he contented himself with shrugging his shoulders and saying to his son: "Well, you would have it so, wouldn't you?" While the brigadier led the two poachers away, and shut them up separately, and under the guard of his men, the justice and the mayor returned to the park.

"With all this," muttered M. The mayor sent for two planks, which, with a thousand precautions, they placed on the ground, being able thus to move the countess without effacing the imprints necessary for the legal examination. She had received more than twenty knife-wounds, and must have been struck with a stick, or rather with a hammer; she had been dragged by her feet and by her hair! He was forty years of age, of a prepossessing person, and endowed with a very expressive, but too grave physiognomy. Penetrated with the dignity of his office, he sacrificed his life to it, rejecting the most simple distractions, and the most innocent pleasures. Yet he was not regarded as a good judge of instruction; to contend by tricks with a prisoner was repugnant to him; to lay a snare for a rogue he thought debasing; in short, he was obstinate--obstinate to foolishness, sometimes to absurdity; even to denying the existence of the sun at mid-day.

He bowed to them gravely, as if he had not known them, and presenting to them a man of some sixty years who accompanied him: "Messieurs," said he, "this is Doctor Gendron." Papa Plantat shook hands with the doctor; the mayor smiled graciously at him, for Dr. Loving his art and exercising it with a passionate energy, he yet owed his renown less to his science than his manners. If his friends reproached him, even jokingly, on sending away sick people in the afternoon, he grew red with rage. He spoke standing, his head thrown back, with wordy emphasis. If their efforts are not crowned with success, I have here some fishermen who will drag the river." M. "The misfortune is a great one, but I agree with you that we are on the track of the criminals.

These poachers, or the gardener who has disappeared, have something, perhaps, to do with this abominable crime." Already, for some minutes, M. He had sometimes, however, periods of melancholy, during which he did not wish to see anybody; but he was ordinarily so affable, so polite, so obliging; he knew so well how to be noble without haughtiness, that everybody here esteemed and loved him." "And the countess?" asked the judge of instruction. You will soon see her remains, and surely you would not guess that she has been the queen of the country, by reason of her beauty." "Were they rich?" "Yes; they must have had, together, more than a hundred thousand francs income--oh, yes, much more; for within five or six months the count, who had not the bucolic tastes of poor Sauvresy, sold some lands to buy consols." "Have they been married long?" M. Poor Sauvresy had been dead a year." The judge of instruction looked up from his notes with a surprised air.

Courtois, "that nobody should be better acquainted with people who were my friends than I myself." "Then, you are telling the story clumsily," said M. Plantat, without more ado, to the great scandal of the mayor, who was thus put into the background, proceeded to dilate upon the main features of the count's and countess's biography. Already Bertha, by advice of her family, had resigned herself to take a place as a governess--a sad position for so beautiful a maid--when the heir of one of the richest domains in the neighborhood happened to see her, and fell in love with her. Without awkwardness or embarrassment, she passed easily from the humble school-room, where she had assisted her father, to the splendid drawing-room of Valfeuillu. He was one of those men with a robust faith, with obstinate illusions, whom doubts never disturb.

They spent the afternoon together, and separated when the last train left." "Peste!" growled the mayor, "for a man who lives alone, who sees nobody, who would not for the world have anything to do with other people's business, it seems to me our dear Monsieur Plantat is pretty well informed." Evidently M. Plantat made a movement with his lips as if to say, "I know other things besides." He went on, however, with his story. Never was an invalid tended with such solicitude--surrounded with so many proofs of the purest devotion. This was asked with all the more curiosity, because their profound sorrow for a man who well merited it, was admired." The judge of instruction stopped M. Plantat with a motion of his hand. With a good horse, one is soon at Fontainebleau, at Versailles, even at Paris. Those rendezvous at the hotel struck me; one knows not to what extremities jealousy might lead a woman--" He stopped abruptly, seeking, no doubt, some connection between the pretty Parisian and the murderers; then resumed: "Now that I know the Tremorels as if I had lived with them intimately, let us proceed to the actual facts." The brilliant eye of M. "You ask how the new couple lived," said he hastily; "they lived in perfect concord; nobody knows better about it than I, who was most intimate with them. Hector--I called him so, familiarly, this poor, dear count--gave his wife the tender attentions of a lover; those delicate cares, which I fear most married people soon dispense with." "And the countess?" asked M. The drawing-room door opened suddenly, and a man of slender form, who was struggling furiously, and with an energy which would not have been suspected, appeared, held on one side by a gendarme, and on the other by a domestic.

Seeing none--for the windows and doors were crowded with the lookers-on--he fell into a chair. On his livid face, black and blue, were visible the marks of the blows he had received in the struggle; his white lips trembled, and he moved his jaws as if he sought a little saliva for his burning tongue; his staring eyes were bloodshot, and expressed the wildest distress; his body was bent with convulsive spasms. Plantat, "why on earth has he returned?" It was with difficulty that the crowd was kept back; the brigadier was forced to call in the aid of his men. Then he returned and placed himself beside Guespin, thinking it not prudent to leave him alone with unarmed men.

He was so tipsy that he thought they were fooling with him. "Not a word; his teeth were so tightly shut with rage that I'm sure he couldn't say 'bread.' But we've got him. I've searched him, and this is what I have found in his pockets: a handkerchief, a pruning-knife, two small keys, a scrap of paper covered with figures, and an address of the establishment of 'Vulcan's Forges.' But that's not all--" The brigadier took a step, and eyed his auditors mysteriously; he was preparing his effect. "Now, sir," he continued, when the valet presented himself, "do you know whether Guespin had any money yesterday?" "He had so little, Monsieur," answered Francois promptly, "that he asked me to lend him twenty-five francs during the day, saying that otherwise he could not go to the wedding, not having enough even to pay his railway fare." "But he might have some savings--a hundred-franc note, for instance, which he didn't like to change." Francois shook his head with an incredulous smile. Then, having looked around with the anxious glance of a man who calculates a precipice over which he has fallen, he passed his hand across his eyes and stammered: "Something to drink!" A glass of water was brought, and he drank it at a draught, with an expression of intense satisfaction. You went away yesterday with all the servants of the chateau; you left them at the Lyons station about nine o'clock; you have just returned, alone. The doctor, the mayor, and Plantat, seized with a keen curiosity, dared not move.

And what does this address mean?" "Eh!" cried Guespin, with the rage of powerlessness, "I should tell you what you would not believe." The judge was about to ask another question, but Guespin cut him short. "No; you wouldn't believe me," he repeated, his eyes glistening with anger. Have I not sufficiently expiated it?" Guespin was self-possessed, and finding in himself sensations which awoke a sort of eloquence, he expressed himself with a savage energy well calculated to strike his hearers. It will tell you that I have lived among the worst and lowest outcasts of Paris--and it is the truth." The worthy mayor was filled with consternation. "But there is one thing," continued the suspected man, "that the record will not tell you; that, disgusted with this abject life, I was tempted to suicide. Meanwhile, exhausted by his excitement, he paused and wiped his face, covered with perspiration. Now, do with me as you please; I will not say another word." Guespin's determination, confirmed by his look, did not surprise the judge. Possibly," and the judge spoke slowly and with emphasis, "you have only had an indirect part in this crime; if so--" "Neither indirect nor direct," interrupted Guespin; and he added, violently, "what misery!

There, he examined the body with a cold and calm eye. He had had so many affairs with the men of law, that one inquisition the more disturbed him little. He knew that the old man had some transactions with the gardener, but he was ignorant as to what they were. Around the table which was yet wet with the wine spilt by the assassins, the judge, M. Domini, as he ate, put his notes in order, numbering the leaves, marking certain peculiarly significant answers of the suspected persons with a cross.

Courtois listened to the hubbub without. He believed that his eloquence, endowed with the virtues of a cold showerbath, would calm this unwonted effervescence of his constituency.

He stepped forward upon the steps, his left hand resting in the opening of his vest, gesturing with his right in the proud and impassible attitude which the sculptor lends to great orators. From the acute state, the inflammation passes to the chronic state, and becomes complicated with pneumonia." "But nothing," pursued the mayor, "can justify a curiosity, which by its importunate attempts to be satisfied, embarrasses the investigation, and is, at all events, a punishable interference with the cause of justice. Many times I have seen him ascending the principal street of the village, with troubled countenance, as he went to give his prescription to the apothecary. With my abominable stomach, as soon as I change my hour of eating--" Having reached his peroration, M. They were anxious to get at Philippe Bertaud, the brigadier says; public opinion has a sharp scent." Hearing the door open, he turned, and found himself face to face with a man whose features were scarcely visible, so profoundly did he bow, his hat pressed against his breast.

"I am Monsieur Lecoq," he replied, with a gracious smile. A grave man, all in black, with a white cravat. A gentleman with a capacious stomach, adorned with heavy gold seals, can only be a banker. Everybody knows that the artist is a merry liver, with a peaked hat, a velvet vest, and enormous ruffles. The most obtuse shopkeeper is sure that he can scent a detective at twenty paces a big man with mustaches, and a shining felt hat, his throat imprisoned by a collar of hair, dressed in a black, threadbare surtout, carefully buttoned up on account of the entire absence of linen. His friends declare that he has a physiognomy peculiar to himself, which he resumes when he enters his own house, and which he retains by his own fireside, with his slippers on; but the fact is not well proved. Lecoq had on this day assumed a handsome wig of lank hair, of that vague color called Paris blonde, parted on the side by a line pretentiously fanciful; whiskers of the same color puffed out with bad pomade, encircled a pallid face. His big eyes seemed congealed within their red border, an open smile rested on his thick lips, which, in parting, discovered a range of long yellow teeth. The retail haberdashers, who, having cheated for thirty years in their threads and needles, retire with large incomes, should have such heads as this. While speaking, he fumbled with a confection-box made of transparent horn, full of little square lozenges, and adorned by a portrait of a very homely, well-dressed woman--"the defunct," no doubt.

Domini, finally, "now that you are here, we will explain to you what has occurred." "Oh, that's quite useless," responded Lecoq, with a satisfied air, "perfectly useless, sir." "Nevertheless, it is necessary that you should know--" "What? Let us agree there has been a murder, with theft as its motive; and start from that point.

Plantat gazed at the detective with visible pleasure. "Well--everybody has told me a little." "But where?" "Here: I've already been here two hours, and even heard the mayor's speech." And, satisfied with the effect he had produced, M. He rather submitted to their co-operation than accepted it, solely because he could not do without them. Lecoq, he could not but approve of what he said; yet he looked at him with an eye by no means friendly. one would say--" He stopped with his mouth wide open. Not so bungling, after all, perhaps." The witnesses of this scene remained motionless at the door, following, with an interest mingled with surprise, the detective's movements.

It's hardly probable." "I, too, was struck with that circumstance," returned M. Lecoq, "and that's why I said, 'not so stupid!' Well, let's see." He lifted the clock with great care, and replaced it on the mantel, being cautious to set it exactly upright. Still less common is it that people are murdered at daylight." He opened the clock-case with some difficulty, and pushed the longer hand to the figure of half-past three. You give a push to the hands, but don't remember to put the striking in harmony with them. To disarrange it, one must actually lie down in it, and warm it with the body. "It appears to be proved," observed the judge, "that Monsieur de Tremorel had not gone to bed." "Besides," added the doctor, "if he had been murdered in his bed, his clothes would be lying here somewhere." "Without considering," suggested M. I am, so to speak, an old man; I haven't the energy of a young man of thirty-five; yet it seems to me that if assassins should get into my house, when I was there, and up, it would go hard with them. You are quietly sitting in your chamber; it is summer, and your windows are open; you are chatting with your wife, and sipping a cup of tea; outside, the assassins are supplied with a short ladder; one ascends to a level with the window, sights you at his ease, presses the trigger, the bullet speeds--" "And," continued the doctor, "the whole neighborhood, aroused by it, hastens to the spot." "Permit me, pardon, permit me," said M.

He came and went from the bedroom to the count's cabinet, without losing a word that was said; noting in his memory, not so much the phrases uttered, as the diverse accents and intonations with which they were spoken. Plantat, on the contrary, whose system seemed to rest on impressions, on a series of logical deductions, would not clearly express himself, without a positive and pressing invitation.

Explain yourself." "The postman arrived just now," returned Baptiste with a most tranquil air, "and I carried the letters to madame, who was in the drawing-room. As it is with all of us, when we know not exactly what ill is about to befall us, he dared not ask any questions. Plantat profited by the pause to question the servant, with a look which Baptiste dared not disobey. Isn't she here, then?" "No, sir: she went away a week ago, to pass a month with one of her aunts." "And how is madame?" "Better, sir; only she cries piteously." The unfortunate mayor had now somewhat recovered his presence of mind.

Plantat was charged with watching Lecoq's investigations. As soon as the detective found himself alone with M. He does not argue with the judge; he's got an idea that he doesn't dare to tell, and we must find it out. "What!" stammered he, with an air of frank amazement, "do you, a man of experience, who--" Delighted with the success of his ruse, Lecoq could not keep his countenance, and Plantat, who perceived that he had been caught in the snare, laughed heartily. According to the mayor's account, the instrument with which all these things were broken has been found." "In the room in the second story," answered M. This weapon, you see, was by no means necessary for breaking open the cupboard, which I could smash with my fist. "This hatchet wasn't put on the floor gently; it was thrown with a violence betraying either great terror or great anger. Therefore, it was thrown with such violence that it turned over itself and that its edge a second time cut in the floor, where you see it now." "True," answered M. The detective's conjectures doubtless refuted his own theory, for he added, with a perplexed air: "I don't understand anything about it." M.

He got up confused, and after meditating a moment, said: "This perplexes me a little; however--" He stopped, motionless, in a revery, with one of his hands on his forehead. But to-day I am acting without too much restraint, in the company of a man who knows that a problem such as this seems to me to be, is not solved at the first attempt. So I permit my gropings to be seen without shame. The tricks played with the bed and clock had, I supposed, given me the measure and extent of their intelligence and invention.

The detective took the glasses, one after another, held them level with his eye, toward the light, and scrutinized the moist places left on them. His face was suffused with tears; he actually bewailed the loss of his master. Lecoq, with true detective-like familiarity. "It was here that one of the count's slippers was found; below there, a little to the right of these geraniums, his silk handkerchief was picked up." They reached the river-bank, and lifted, with great care, the planks which had been placed there to preserve the foot-prints.

Plantat, "that the countess, in her flight, succeeded in getting to this spot; and that here they caught up with her and gave her a finishing blow." Was this really Plantat's opinion, or did he only report the morning's theory? Without the least respect for his pantaloons, he crossed the lawn on all-fours, scrutinizing the smallest blades of grass, pulling away the thick tufts to see the earth better, and minutely observing the direction of the broken stems. They were made, too, with the end of the foot; that you may see for yourself." "Yes, I perceive it." "Very well, then; when there has been a struggle on ground like this, there are always two distinct kinds of traces--those of the assailant and those of the victim.

Because it was the body, not of a man, but of a woman, which was dragged across the lawn--of a woman full-dressed, with heavy petticoats; that, in short, of the countess, and not of the count." M. Plantat, abruptly, "and see how the doctor has got on with his autopsy." They slowly approached the house. Lecoq, who, in presence of the judge, had resumed his haberdasher manner, he was so much surprised that he nearly strangled himself with a lozenge. He shook hands with M. Then he went away with his clerk. His instruments lay on a table near him; he had covered the body with a long white sheet. Night had come, and a large lamp, with a crystal globe, lighted up the gloomy scene. "I must speak with him, though," said he, "it's absolutely necessary--and the sooner the better; for perhaps I am wrong--I may be mistaken--" M.

He has just discovered that Madame de Tremorel was killed by a single blow, and that the assassins afterward set themselves to disfiguring the body, when it was nearly cold." The doctor's eyes fastened on the detective, with a stupefied expression. "Oh, I didn't guess it alone; I ought to share the honor of the theory which has enabled us to foresee this fact, with Monsieur Plantat." "Oh," cried the doctor, striking his forehead, "now, I recollect your advice; in my worry, I must say, I had quite forgotten it. Help!" Plantat, the man with a heart of stone, turned away his head, and the doctor, having mastered his first emotion, continued in a professionally apathetic tone: "The blade must have been an inch wide, and eight inches long. Gendron with anxious attention, and the contraction of his face showed the travail of his mind. The assassin came up behind her with his arm raised; he chose his position coolly, and struck her with terrific force. I am confident, indeed, that with the exception of one detail that worries me, I have the key to the mystery." "We must be here, then, early to-morrow morning." "I will be here at any hour you will name." "Your search finished, we will go together to Monsieur Domini, at Corbeil." "I am quite at your orders." There was another pause. "You will do better to come and dine with me." "You are really too good, Monsieur--" "Besides, we have a good deal to say, and so you must remain the night with me; we will get your night-clothes as we pass along." M. He was talking with a railway employee. When he asked how much he owed, she responded, with a contemptuous gesture, "Nothing." When he returned to the door, his night-gown in hand, M. Plantat said: "Let's hurry, for I want to get news of our poor mayor." The three hastened their steps, and the old justice of the peace, oppressed with sad presentiments, and trying to combat them, continued: "If anything had happened at the mayor's, I should certainly have been informed of it by this time.

Plantat, however, he dissimulated his chagrin with his habitual smile. He ran so fast from Valfeuillu here, that I could scarcely keep up with him.

He cried out hoarsely, thus: 'Oh!' then he went to beating the air with his hands, like a swimming dog; then he walked up and down and fell, pouf! "Oh, no; you shall see," responded Baptiste, with a placid smile.

Irritated by the manner of Baptiste's recital, he put down his bundle, seized the man's arm with his right hand, while with the left he whisked a light flexible cane, and said: "Look here, fellow, I want you to hurry up, you know." That was all he said; the servant was terribly afraid of this little blond man, with a strange voice, and a fist harder than a vice.

Now he is quite restored, and is lying on one of the drawing-room lounges, crying with all his might. Plantat, with a trembling voice. Lecoq followed, having confided his night-gown to Baptiste, with, "Carry that to M. A small man, habited like a well-to-do Parisian artisan, stood near the door, with an embarrassed expression of countenance. He was no longer the happy man of the world, with smiling face, firm look, the pride of which betrayed plainly his self-importance and prosperity. He recalled to him that his wife, the companion of his life, remained to him, to mourn the dear departed with him. If she had died here, in the midst of us, comforted by our tender care, my despair would be great; but nothing compared with that which now tortures me. What has become of you, so young and happy?" He rose, shaking with anguish and cried: "Let us go, Plantat, and look for her at the Morgue." Then he fell back again, muttering the lugubrious word, "the Morgue." The witnesses of this scene remained, mute, motionless, rigid, holding their breath. Holding out a crumpled letter, wet with tears, he stammered: "Here, read--it is her last letter." M. Plantat approached the table, and, not without difficulty, read: "DEARLY BELOVED PARENTS-- "Forgive, forgive, I beseech you, your unhappy daughter, the distress she is about to cause you.

Oh, have I not a right to a terrible vengeance?" But the crime at Valfeuillu occurred to him; and it was with a tone of deep disappointment that he resumed: "And not to be able to revenge myself! I could riot, then, kill him with my own hands, see him suffer for hours, hear him beg for mercy! With money all is possible.

I received you ill a while ago, and judged you with foolish pride: forgive me. "Madame!" said he, "Madame!" She shuddered and rose, with a wandering air. He is one of those men who will listen to nothing, and whom the brutal fact alone can undeceive." "You might have dealt with the Count de Tremorel." "The count would have denied all. "Though I detest mixing up with what does not concern me, I did try one day to talk with her. With infinite precaution and delicacy, and without letting her see that I knew all, I tried to show her the abyss near which she was drawing." "And what did she reply?" "Nothing. Besides, I could not get a quarter of an hour alone with her, and it was necessary to act, I knew--for I was her best friend--before committing this imprudence of speaking to her. His eyes shone with the fire of covetousness, and expressed, when he forgot to guard them, a cynical boldness. A little way off, with his slight figure and his beardless face, he looked like a Paris gamin--one of those little wretches who are the essence of all corruption, whose imagination is more soiled than the gutters where they search for lost pennies. Happily you have stone to fill it in with, on the land that you bought of the widow Frapesle." Robelot had never seen the old justice of the peace so talkative, so familiar; he seemed a little surprised.

It isn't so bad, you see, to be a doctor without a diploma." Robelot had been several times prosecuted for illegal practicing; so he thought he ought to protest against this. I raise horses, cows, and sheep." "Also without diploma?" Robelot waxed disdainful. I study animals in the fields and the stable, without bragging.

Doctor Gendron, with whom you served, was praising your cleverness a moment ago." The bone-setter shuddered, not so imperceptibly as to escape Plantat, who continued: "Yes, the good doctor said he never had so intelligent an assistant. he asked himself, not without a vague terror. Monsieur Sauvresy's body is to be disinterred." Robelot was certainly prepared for something strange, and he was armed with all his audacity. "Madame de Tremorel, you know, has been murdered: her papers have, of course, been examined; letters have been found, with very damaging revelations, receipts, and so on." Robelot, apparently, was once more self-possessed; he forced himself to answer: "Bast! Good-evening, gentlemen." He walked away, and soon the sand in the court was heard creaking with his steps. Monsieur Lecoq must be half dead with hunger." As they went away, M. Lecoq slipped Laurence's letter, with the envelope, into his pocket. Everywhere the carelessness of a man who has withdrawn from the world into himself, for years, ceasing to have the least interest in the objects which surround him, was apparent. A spacious conservatory, fitted with every accessory and convenience, was his only luxury. She was very talkative, so talkative that when she found no one to chat with, she went to confession; to confess was to chat.

Petit that he would soon return, bringing with him two guests who would dine and sleep at the house. Petit, and her anger doubled with her curiosity. "See here," said he to the cook, "what the person, who is with your master, gave me to bring here." "What person?" "How do I know? He's a spy sent down from Paris about this Valfeuillu affair; not much good, probably--ill-bred--a brute--and a wretch." "But he's not alone with monsieur?" "No; Doctor Gendron is with them." Mme.

Petit burned to get some news out of Baptiste; but Baptiste also burned to get back and know what was taking place at his master's--so off he went, without having left any news behind. But she did not agree with Baptiste about M. All our lights are not too much to throw a little daylight upon this affair, which is one of the darkest I have ever met with. "I agree with you," said the doctor, "but we must prove it." "And I will prove it, parbleu," cried M. His eyes shone with the fire of his enthusiasm, his voice was metallic and vibrating, his imperious gesture affirmed the audacity and energy of his resolution. When I was twenty years old, I took service with an astronomer, as his calculator, after a long course of study. He gave me my breakfasts and seventy francs a month; by means of which I dressed well, and covered I know not how many square feet with figures daily." M. I had just been inventing a little arrangement by which a man could rob any banker whatever of 200,000 francs without any more danger or difficulty than I raise this cup.

My fear of being a burglar drove me into the police." "And you are satisfied with the exchange?" asked Dr. I am happy, because I am free to exercise my peculiar faculties with usefulness to my race. My actors laugh honestly, or weep with genuine tears. Then comes the great scene; the accused struggles, tries tricks, splits straws; but the judge, armed with the arms I have forged for him, overwhelms the wretch; he does not confess, but he is confounded.

Without appearing to notice the surprise of his companions, he lit a fresh cigar; then, whether designedly or not, instead of replacing the lamp with which he lit it on the table, he put it on one corner of the mantel. "I ought to confess," he continued, "without false modesty, that I have rarely been hissed. I have conquered the demon of play, but I have not triumphed over my passion for woman." He sighed heavily, with the resigned gesture of a man who has chosen his path. Lecoq, without departing widely from the truth, had just attempted one of the most daring experiments of his repertoire, and he judged it useless to go further. "We will have him out," answered the detective, "if, indeed, he is innocent; for this time I have mastered the mystery, my romance, if you wish, and without any gap. On reaching Valfeuillu, I, like you, was struck with the frightful disorder of the rooms. Everything seemed turned topsy-turvy by chance; articles were broken open with the hatchet, which might have been opened with the hands; drawers had been forced which were not shut, and the keys of which were in the locks. The books had been thrown pell-mell upon the floor, but every one of them had been handled, and some of them with such violence that the bindings were torn off.

The chairs were not hacked with a sword, for the mere purpose of ripping the cloth--the seats were thus examined. On the other hand, I found indications that the assassin must have been closely connected with Madame de Tremorel--her lover, or her husband. These were the ideas that then struck me." "And now?" "Now," responded the detective, "with the certainty that something besides booty might have been the object of the search, I am not far from thinking that the guilty man is he whose body is being searched for--the Count Hector de Tremorel." M. They awaited this name of Tremorel; and yet, pronounced as it was in the middle of the night, in this great sombre room, by this at least strange personage, it made them shudder with an indescribable fright. The crime once resolved upon, it was clear that the count must have reflected, and sought out the means of committing it with impunity; he must have weighed the circumstances, and estimated the perils of his act. "Monsieur de Tremorel, then, determined to kill his wife, brutally, with a knife, with the idea of so arranging everything, as to make it believed that he too had been assassinated; and he also decided to endeavor to thrust suspicion on an innocent person, or at least, an accomplice infinitely less guilty than he. Exactly the moment when he knows, and everyone in the neighborhood knows, that he is going to pass the night at the chateau, alone with Madame de Tremorel. I would wager that Monsieur de Tremorel, who knew this fellow's history, thought that his antecedents would add probability to the suspicions against him, and would weigh with a terrible weight in the scales of justice.

If you admit Guespin's guilt, you admit that he was idiot enough to put a piece of his vest in his victim's hand; you admit that he was such a fool as to go and throw this torn and bloody vest into the Seine, from a bridge, in a place where he might know search would be made--and all this, without taking the common precaution of attaching it to a stone to carry it to the bottom. Lecoq was about to proceed with another illustration, when M. To his auditors, he seemed a new man, with serious features, an eye bright with intelligence, his sentences clear and concise--the Lecoq, in short, which the magistrates who have employed his talents, would recognize. No noise without, the road deserted, the village lights extinguished, the chateau servants away at Paris. The count, as he talks with her, paces up and down the chamber. She mistrusts nothing, and so the count can approach her from behind, without her thinking of turning her head. "When she hears him coming up softly, she imagines that he is going to surprise her with a kiss. He, meanwhile, armed with a long dagger, stands beside his wife.

The countess falls without a sound, bruising her forehead on the edge of the table, which is overturned. "And who, besides a woman's lover or her husband is admitted to her chamber, or can approach her when she is seated without her turning round?" "That's clear," muttered M. He is at last rid of her who was his wife, whom he hated enough to murder her, and to change his happy, splendid, envied existence for a frightful life, henceforth without country, friend, or refuge, proscribed by all nations, tracked by all the police, punishable by the laws of all the world! He must have some implement with which to break open everything. All the dark corners are peopled, now, with those spectres which form the cortege of assassins; he is frightened, and hurries on.

He soon goes up again, armed with a large hatchet--that found on the second story--and makes the pieces of wood fly about him. Everything in the room is topsy-turvy; he goes into his cabinet and continues the destruction; the hatchet rises and falls without rest. His distress is now too great for him to pursue the search with the least method. He staggers, without calculation, from one thing to another, fumbling a dozen times in the same drawer, while he completely forgets others just by him. They form right angles with the body, proving that the victim was lying down when they were inflicted.

Then, in the excess of his frenzy, he strikes the body with his feet, and his heels form the contusions discovered by the autopsy." M. The assassin is always seized, after the murder, with a horrible and singular hatred against his victim, and he often mutilates the body.

Then comes the period of a prostration so great, of torpor so irresistible, that murderers have been known literally to go to sleep in the blood, that they have been surprised sleeping, and that it was with great difficulty that they were awakened. And he must fly at once--fly, without that accursed paper. Now imagine the Count de Tremorel, pale, covered with his wife's blood, shaving himself before his glass; rubbing the soap over his face, in that room all topsy-turvy, while three steps off lies the still warm and palpitating body! And if these proofs are not enough, I will send to Paris for two of my men, who will find, somewhere in the house or the garden, both the count's beard and the cloth with which he wiped his razor. But forgetting the effect of water when it spirts, or--who knows?--disliking to soil himself, instead of throwing her violently in the river, he put her down softly, with great precaution. Stirs up the sand with the end of his foot. He smears his slippers and handkerchief with blood.

He smears a sheet with blood; also the bed-curtains and furniture. Then he marks the door with the imprint of a bloody hand, too distinct and precise not to be done designedly. It was surely to deliver himself from this perpetual menace that the count killed his wife." The logic was so clear, the last words brought the evidence out so lucidly and forcibly, that his hearers were struck with admiration. His preparations for flight ended, Hector, in spite of his deadly peril, of the speeding time, of the coming day, instead of flying recommences with more desperation than ever his useless search. Then he determines to search the second story, and armed with his hatchet, goes up to it. Forgetting all caution, confused, beside himself, covered with blood, he runs, clears the ditch, and it is he whom old Bertaud sees making for the forest of Mauprevoir, where he intends to arrange the disorder of his clothes. If I am right, Guespin has not been mixed up with this crime, at least directly; for there isn't a single circumstance which suggests outside aid. When I was left alone a moment with Francois, the valet, I asked him if he knew exactly the number of the count's shoes; he said yes, and took me to a closet where the shoes are kept. A pair of boots, with green Russia leather tops, which Francois was sure the count had put on the previous morning, was missing. Again, the blue cravat with white stripes which the count wore on the 8th, had also disappeared." "There," cried M.

All of a sudden, without a word he jumped on the window-sill and from thence into the garden, with the bound of a cat which pounces on a mouse.

Day was breaking, the trees shivered in the fresh wind of the early morning,--objects were vaguely visible without distinct forms across the white mist which hangs, on summer nights, over the valley of the Seine. The shadow stretched on the ground defended itself with the dangerous strength of despair; his body formed a large brown spot in the middle of the lawn, and his legs, kicking furiously, convulsively stretched and contracted. They rose again and struggled; suddenly a cry of pain escaped, with a ferocious oath. Their stupor was caused by the detective's appearance; who, with his wrist of steel--as rigid as handcuffs--held the doctor's ex-assistant, and pushed him forward. He was blond, with highly cultivated whiskers, when he jumped out the window; he returned, brown, with a smooth face. The man who had jumped out was a middle-aged person, with an expressive face which was in turn idiotic and intelligent; the man who returned by the door was a fine young fellow of thirty-five, with a beaming eye and a sensitive lip; a splendid head of curly black hair, brought out vividly the pallor of his complexion, and the firm outline of his head and face. Thanks to him and in spite of myself, you see me as I am, with the head the Creator gave me, and which is really my own." He gave a careless gesture, half angry, half good-humored. But there are days when one is tired of being on his guard, and would like to be able to turn a street corner without looking for a dagger. "Oh, that's nothing--only a scratch that this fellow gave me with a big cutlass he had." M.

Plantat, "your silence will confirm us in the idea that you came with the worst designs." But it was in vain that M. Gendron, hoping, not without reason, that he might have some influence over his former assistant, spoke: "Answer us; what did you come for?" Robelot made an effort; it was painful, with his broken jaw, to speak. "I came to rob; I confess it." "To rob--what?" "I don't know." "But you didn't scale a wall and risk the jail without a definite object?" "Well, then, I wanted--" He stopped. Go on." "To get some rare flowers in the conservatory." "With your cutlass, hey?" said M. "I wanted a palpable proof for Monsieur Domini; we'll give him this rascal, and if he isn't satisfied, he's difficult to please." "But what shall we do with him?" "Shut him up somewhere in the house; if necessary, I'll tie him up." "Here's a dark closet." "Is it secure?" "There are thick walls on three sides of it, and the fourth is closed with a double door; no openings, no windows, nothing." "Just the place." M. Lecoq, "you may dispense with it.

The day will come, I trust, when I may--" The detective interrupted him with a gesture. You got here this morning without information, without details, and by the mere scrutiny of the scene of the crime, by the sole force of reasoning, have found the criminal: more, you have proved to us that the criminal could be no other than he whom you have named." M. How was he led to this terrible impulse to kill his wife, and make it appear that he, too, had been murdered?" "Might we not conclude," remarked the doctor, "that, disgusted with Madame de Tremorel, he has got rid of her to rejoin another woman, adored by him to madness?" M. They quit their wives, live with the new loves--that's all. That happens every day, and neither the law nor public opinion condemns such people with great severity." "But it was the wife who had the fortune." "That wasn't the case here. Lecoq went on, speaking with a certain hesitation, while his eyes interrogated M. The old justice of the peace went on, now calmly and with dignity, in a somewhat haughty tone: "You didn't need tricks or subterfuge, Monsieur Lecoq, to induce me to tell what I know. I have evinced enough esteem and confidence in you to deprive you of the right to arm yourself against me with the sad secret which you have surprised." M. The pavement resounded with the wooden shoes of the workmen going fieldward.

Young, noble, elegant, rich by millions, endowed with vigorous health, this last descendant of a great family squandered most foolishly and ignobly both his youth and his patrimony. One morning gossiping Paris learned with stupefaction that he had eloped to Italy with the wife of X---, the banker, a lady nineteen years married. He did not betray this, however, but said, with charming modesty, after each new adventure: "When will they stop talking about me?" On great occasions, he borrowed from Louis XIV the epigram: "After me the deluge." The deluge came in his lifetime. One April morning, his valet, a villainous fellow, drilled and dressed up by the count--woke him at nine o'clock with this speech: "Monsieur, a bailiff is downstairs in the ante-chamber, and has come to seize your furniture." Hector turned on his pillow, yawned, stretched, and replied: "Well, tell him to begin operations with the stables and carriage-house; and then come up and dress me." He did not seem disturbed, and the servant retired amazed at his master's coolness. He thought he would make his last toilet with especial care. He might with this sum take a journey, prolong his life two or three months; but he repelled with disdain the thought of a miserable subterfuge, of a reprieve in disguise. He imagined that with this money he might make a great show of generosity, which would be talked of in the world; it would be chivalrous to breakfast with his inamorata and make her a present of this money at dessert. The girl would not fail to narrate the scene everywhere; she would repeat his last conversation, his last will and gift; all the cafes would buzz with it at night; the papers would be full of it. He emptied all the drawers without looking or choosing, and put all the papers in the fire. He looked with pride upon this conflagration; there were bills, love letters, business letters, bonds, patents of nobility, deeds of property.

He had already seized eight horses in the stables with all their harness and trappings, and five carriages with their equipage, in the carriage-house. The astonished bailiff proceeded with his work. She was pretty and lively, with delicate hands and a tiny foot, superb chestnut hair, white teeth, and great impertinent black eyes, which were languishing, caressing, or provoking, at will. Forty-eight hours after her removal to her new apartments, she had established order among the servants; she made them obey a glance or a gesture; and she made her dress-makers and milliners submit with good grace to her orders. Jenny's rivals lived in the Faubourg du Temple, near the barrier; they could not envy her splendor, for they did not know her, and she was strictly forbidden to associate with and so dazzle them. Her pleasures comprised an evening with someone of her own class, card-playing, at which she won, and a midnight supper. All through breakfast he sparkled, as he promised himself he would, with spirit and fun. I am a ruined man." She looked at him with amazement, not seeming to comprehend him. "Why," he continued, with lofty carelessness, "life, you know, is like a bunch of grapes, which one either eats gradually, piece by piece, or squeezes into a glass to be tossed off at a gulp.

Everything at my house is in the bailiff's hands--I am without a domicile, without a penny." He spoke with increasing animation as the multitude of diverse thoughts passed each other tumultuously in his brain. She pushed it back with a shudder. "Come, take it back, keep it--" "What shall I do with it?" "I don't know, but wouldn't this money bring in more? I've heard of people that are now rich as kings, who commenced with nothing, and hadn't your talents either. "You will, won't you?" she insisted, "now, won't you?" "You are a good girl," said he, charmed with her, "but you must take this money. Well, when I leave you, I shall go somewhere--no matter where--put the muzzle to my temple, thus, press the trigger--and all will be over!" She gazed at him, her eyes dilated with terror, pale, breathing hard and fast. To exhaust his fortune and then kill himself, without a cry, a tear, or a regret, seemed to her an act of heroism unheard of, unexampled.

You, who have lived with millions don't know how much ten thousand francs are--but I know. But not with a pistol--No! To suffocate himself, at Belleville, with a grisette, how dreadful!

"Now, good-by." He would have gone, but Jenny, red and with glistening eyes, barred the door with her body. The count bought a bouquet near the Pont Neuf and stuck it in his button-hole, and without waiting for his change, passed on.

She would be consoled with a new lover in less than a week. Leaving the garden with the last of the visitors, he wended his way toward the Latin Quarter. He drank, and consumed three bottles of wine without changing the current of his thoughts. A good fellow, only--" He thought he heard this "only" greeted with laughter and innuendoes. "I cannot!" The idea of the physical pain of shooting himself filled him with horror. He wept with grief and rage and wrung his hands and prayed. It was the waiter, who had come to take his order for breakfast, and who started back with amazement on seeing Hector, so disordered was his clothing and so livid the pallor of his features. He quitted the hotel where he had suffered so much, without end or aim in view. He now held his head up, walked with a firmer step; he was seeking something, and had a purpose to accomplish. The Count de Tremorel advanced with his watch, chain, and a brilliant diamond that he had taken from his finger.

He was seized with the timidity of misery, and did not know how to open his business.

"See," said she, "put your articles on this counter, before that window with green curtains." A moment after he heard a voice which seemed to proceed from the next room: "Twelve hundred francs for the watch and ring." This large amount produced such a sensation as to arrest all the conversation. He was filled with a joy which made him forget the night's torture.

No goods that are registered, can be returned without proof of rightful possession." So saying, he went on with his work.

All the romance with which he had invested the idea of his suicide now vanished, leaving bare the stern and ignoble reality. The fever of despair came, and death now seemed to him a refuge, which he could almost welcome with joy.

A man was running down the embankment toward him with outstretched arms. This was a man of his own age, rather stout, but well shaped, with a fine open face and, large black eyes in which one read frankness and good-nature; one of those men who are sympathetic at first sight, whom one loves on a week's acquaintance.

The papers have already announced your death, with details." This news seemed to have a great effect on the count.

He answered with a tinge of envy in his tone: "Well, I had more than that; but I had no breakfast this morning." "And you did not tell me! There was one alone, among all his friends, who loved him enough not to see the ludicrousness of his position; one alone generous enough not to torture him with raillery; it was Sauvresy. We've got money, you see; your creditors will be easy with us." "But where shall I go?" asked Hector, whom the mere idea of isolation terrified. You'll come home with me, parbleu, to Valfeuillu. Her life, so well regulated, so constantly smooth, without annoyances and disturbance, seemed to her insipid.

Bertha was wearied with the constancy and adoration of her husband. She knew herself, and confessed to herself that had Sauvresy wished, she would have been his without being his wife. All the world said: "Bertha is foolishly fond of her husband." Sauvresy was sure of it, and he was the first to say, not caring to conceal his joy: "My wife adores me." Such were man and wife at Valfeuillu when Sauvresy found Tremorel on the banks of the Seine with a pistol in his hand. He was one of those men whose lives astonish common people, whom the well-to-do citizen thinks faithless and lawless, whose extravagant passions overleap the narrow bounds of social prejudice; a man who tyrannizes over others, whom all fear, who fights on the slightest provocation, who scatters gold with a prodigal hand, whose iron health resists the most terrible excesses. She awarded him with such qualities as she desired for her fancied hero, with whom she could fly from her husband in search of new adventures. "You see, Bertha," said he, "our friend Hector is exhausted with the life he has been leading. He has been advised to rest, and has come to seek it here, with us." "But, dear," responded Bertha, "aren't you afraid that the count will be bored a little here?" "Why?" "Valfeuillu is very quiet, and we are but dull country folks." Bertha talked for the sake of talking, to break a silence which embarrassed her, to make Tremorel speak, and hear his voice. Her radiant beauty usually struck those who saw her for the first time with open admiration. Sauvresy, when left alone with his wife, told her all that happened, and the events which resulted in Tremorel's coming to Valfeuillu; but like a true friend omitted everything that would cast ridicule upon his old comrade. She seemed to agree with him, but she really admired Tremorel.

Like Jenny, she was struck with the heroism which could squander a fortune and then commit suicide. What is, or was, the amount of your fortune?" "I haven't the least idea." Sauvresy provided himself with a pencil and a large sheet of paper, ready to set down the figures. It was very noble, very distingue, to ruin one's self without knowing how!

When he had business with one of his farmers, he would rise very early, mount his horse, though it were mid-winter, and go several leagues in the snow to get a hundred crowns. But look here, do you know what you would do if you were reasonable?" "What?" "You would go to Paris with me, and both of us--" Hector turned very pale, and his eyes shone. "I shall never set my foot in it again." "All right--so much the better; stay with us; I sha'n't complain of it, nor my wife either. But," added Sauvresy, consulting his watch, "I must go if I don't want to lose the train." "I'll go to the station with you," said Tremorel.

Bertha, from her window, followed with her eyes the two friends; who, with arms interlocked, ascended the road toward Orcival. Sauvresy was faint from hunger, thirst, and fatigue, but his face glowed with satisfaction. My notary, who was with me, remarked that I was Monsieur Sauvresy, worth two millions. Our gentlemen opened their eyes very wide, and consented to grant my request." Hector, notwithstanding what he had said, knew enough about his affairs to see that this action would save him a fortune--a small one, as compared with what he had possessed, yet a fortune.

"Thinking that perhaps you were in want of a wardrobe, I had three or four trunks filled with your clothes, sent them out by rail, and one of the servants has just gone after them." Hector, too, began to find Sauvresy's services excessive, and thought he treated him too much like a child who could foresee nothing.

My notary was with me, fortunately. She really thought you dead, and when I told her you were here with me, alive and well, I thought she would go mad for joy. I had to swear with terrible oaths that she should see you to-morrow, before she would let me go; not at Paris, as you said you would never go there, but at Corbeil." "Ah, as for that--" "She will be at the station to-morrow at twelve. You can get into the Corbeil train, and breakfast with Miss Jenny at the hotel of the Belle Image." Hector began to offer an objection. Sauvresy stopped him with a gesture. "Here is my wife." XV On going to bed, that night, the count was less enchanted than ever with the devotion of his friend Sauvresy. There is not a diamond on which a spot cannot be found with a microscope. Can't a man do you a service, without continually making you feel it?

She wished that he would go, never to return, while at the same time she avowed to herself that in going he would carry with him all her thoughts.

He would not fail--were it only for politeness--to go in there; and then, she thought, by seeing him nearer, talking with him, knowing him better, his influence over her would vanish. She waited with feverish shudderings, anxiously believing that this first tete-a-tete in her husband's absence would be decisive. Time passed; it was more than two hours since he had gone out with Sauvresy, and he had not reappeared. She wore a green dress with a train, a velvet mantle, and the jauntiest little hat in the world. She spoke quite loud, with wild gestures, so that everyone could hear what she said. "Oh, how I have suffered; but what happiness I feel to-day!" Tremorel struggled with her as he could, trying to calm her enthusiastic exclamations, softly repelling her, charmed and irritated at once, and exasperated at all these eyes rudely fixed on him. Jenny talked with a pretty, knowing, business-like air, which made Hector laugh. She cried bitterly at first, then got angry, and finally consoled herself with a plan to return on the following Tuesday.

Little by little, however, he accustomed himself to pass the greater part of the afternoon with Bertha, while Sauvresy was away arranging his affairs--selling, negotiating, using his time in cutting down interests and discussing with agents and attorneys. He soon perceived that she listened to him with pleasure, and he judged from this that she was a decidedly superior woman, much better than her husband. The rest of the time, when he did not talk with Bertha, he wandered in the park, lounged in a rocking-chair, or took a jaunt in the saddle. His best days were those which he spent at Corbeil with Jenny. He found in her something of his past, and she always quarrelled with him, which woke him up.

She came regularly every week, and her love for Hector, far from diminishing, seemed to grow with each interview. She knew nothing about the trade which she had undertaken, and she was robbed without mercy on all sides. "This life cannot last," thought he; and he was overcome with childish rage when he contrasted the past with the present. He thinks his wife dead in love with him, whereas she can't bear him." Bertha had, indeed, permitted Hector to perceive her aversion to her husband. "If he loved me," thought she, "he would tell me so, for he is bold with women and fears no one." Then she began to hate the girl, her rival, whom Hector went to meet at Corbeil every week. They passed within a few steps of her, and as they walked very slowly, she was able to scrutinize Jenny at her ease.

He ought to fly that very evening, without hesitation, without turning his head; to fly as if the house were about to tumble about his head. "She comes to me of her own will, herself, without the least temptation from me. For several months she tried to persuade Tremorel to break with Jenny.

One evening, in a fit of anger, she menaced him with a singular threat. "If some day I shouldn't go when she was expecting me, she might come up to Valfeuillu, and make a wretched scandal." He armed himself with all his courage, which was assisted by Bertha's tears and entreaties, and started for Corbeil resolved to break off with Jenny. "So," said she, with her teeth tightly shut to contain herself, "so you are going to get married?" "Alas, I must," he answered with a hypocritical sigh. "Well, that's over," thought he, with a sigh of relief. What I am going to propose to you deserves serious reflection." "Well, I can be serious when it is necessary." "Let's begin with your debts. What would you say to a young girl of good family, pretty, well brought up, so charming that, excepting my own wife, I know of no one more attractive, and who would bring with her a dowry of a million?" "Ah, my friend, I should say that I adore her! "I may say," said he, seriously to his friend, "that I have always thought Monsieur Courtois an excellent and honorable man, and Mademoiselle Laurence seems to me so accomplished a young lady, that a man might be happy in marrying her even without a dowry." "So much the better, my dear Hector, so much the better.

But you know, the first thing is to engage Laurence's affections; her father adores her, and would not, I am sure, give her to a man whom she herself had not chosen." "Don't disturb yourself," answered Hector, with a gesture of triumph, "she will love me." The next day he took occasion to encounter M. Sauvresy, after spending an evening with the count at the mayor's, during which Hector had not once quitted the whist-table, decided to speak to his wife of the proposed marriage, which he thought would give her an agreeable surprise.

I thought you'd be enchanted with it." She saw that if she were silent any longer, her husband would go in and find her sunk upon a chair, and would guess all. She made an effort and said, in a strangled voice, without attaching any sense to her words: "Yes, yes; it is a capital idea." "How you say that! He spends two or three hours every day with the mayor.

What do you suppose he does there?" Bertha, by great effort, succeeded in dissembling her grief; she reappeared with a smiling face. She did not find herself alone with Hector until after breakfast the next day, in the billiard-hall. What could he, with his habits and tastes, do with a few thousand crowns a year? Bertha stopped him with a look full of contempt. Ah, she don't want me to marry Laurence!" His coolness returned, and with it serious reflections. He guessed what she would do, from what she had said in a quarrel with him about Jenny. Suppose he didn't; I should have to fight a duel with him, and if I killed him, quit the country.

Her eyes were red with recent tears; she was very pale, and her marble color showed that she had not slept. When Sauvresy came in, she rose to meet him, and took him by the hand with a friendly motion. If he had any heart, would he have gone to live with you as he has? That's our fate, you see, only to love the men we despise." Jenny talked loud, gesticulating, and every now and then thumping the table with her fist so that the bottles and glasses jingled. And now there is neither a Miss Jenny, nor riches, but there is a Pelagie, who proposes to get her fifty sous a day, without much trouble." "No," said Sauvresy, "you will not need--" "What? I won't have it." Jenny was one of those women who do not reason, but who feel; with whom it is folly to argue, for their fixed idea is impregnable to the most victorious arguments. I told you that Hector was intending to marry." "He!" answered Jenny, with an ironical gesture. Since he came to Valfeuillu, he could have had no other affair than this with you. She remained silent and blushed violently, looking at Sauvresy with an indefinable expression. He rose with a flashing eye and trembling lips.

Jenny recoiled with terror. "Because," she added, struck with an idea, "I haven't got it here." "Where is it?" "At my room, in Paris." "Come, then, let us go there." She saw that she was caught; and she could find no more excuses, quick-witted as she was. She might, however, easily have followed Sauvresy, put his suspicions to sleep with her gayety, and when once in the Paris streets, might have eluded him and fled. Her hair had been loosened in the struggle, her collar was torn, she was tired, her teeth chattered, but her eyes shone with a bold resolution. It's odd--I am sure I've got it though--I had it a minute ago--" And, suddenly, with a rapid gesture, she put the letter, rolled into a ball, into her mouth, and tried to swallow it. Sauvresy tottered with a horrible sensation of dizziness; he could not see clearly; there was a red cloud before his eyes; his legs gave way under him, he staggered, and his hands stretched out for a support. For a moment he saw nothing but that; all thought was crushed within him. Jenny understood the miserable meanness of her conduct when she saw this great grief, this silent despair, this man with a broken heart.

He went across the fields with his head bare, wandering at hazard, without aim or discretion. He longed to blot out of his life these years passed with Bertha, with whom, but the night before, he had recalled these "happiest years of his life." The memory of his former happiness filled his soul with disgust. Seating himself upon a prostrate tree in the midst of Mauprevoir forest, he studied the fatal letter for the tenth time within four hours. He had so loved her that she had become something of himself, that he could not imagine himself without her. They would doubtless go on in their infamous comedy--would seem to mourn for him, while really their hearts would bound with joy. "Never!" cried he, drunk with fury, "never!

Bertha was most cunning, and at the first suspicion would fly with her lover. When his wife and his friend ascended to his room, after dinner, they found him shivering under the sheets, red, his forehead burning, his throat dry, and his eyes shining with an unusual brilliancy. What had he done with it? It was a miracle that his valet had not put it on the mantel, as he was accustomed to do with the things which he found in his master's pockets. "I can get to my room," thought he, "without being seen, by the garden and back-stairs. She thinks I'm asleep; I shall get back and abed before she returns." Then, without asking himself whether he were not too feeble, or what danger there might be in exposing himself to the cold, he got up, threw a gown around him, put on his slippers and went toward the door. The wind shook the limbs of the trees crusted with ice. Now proofs had come without his seeking. Doubtless she had gone to ask Hector something, which he refused her, and she was pleading with him; Sauvresy saw that she was supplicating, by her motions; he knew the gesture well.

He did not perceive that he had been standing with naked feet in the snow, till he had returned to his bedroom again; he saw some flakes on his slippers, and they were damp; quickly he threw them under the bed, and jumped in between the clothes, and pretended to be asleep. "No." "Have all the servants gone to bed?" "I suppose so; but why do you ask?" "Since I have been upstairs, somebody has gone out into the garden, and come back again." Bertha looked at him with a troubled glance. He was tired of forever sacrificing his wishes and his liberty, so that he could plan nothing, say or promise nothing without consulting this jealous woman, who would scarcely let him wander out of her sight. The suspicion soon became a certainty with her. But I tell you, you shall not marry her!" Then, without awaiting his reply, she overwhelmed him with reproaches. Ability consists in breaking with people, when they cease to be useful to you. He got up every day, and commenced to go about the house; he even received numerous visits from the neighbors; without apparent fatigue.

His friends would never have recognized in that emaciated form and white face, and burning, haggard eye, the robust young man with red lips and beaming visage whom they remembered. He submitted to his wife's caresses without an apparent shudder; and shook Hector by the hand as heartily as ever.

is getting well fast." Bertha fixed her large, clear eyes upon him, and with frightful calmness said: "What do you know about it?" Tremorel dared not ask what these strange words meant. He conceived a great opinion of his own value and merit, when he saw the persistency and desperation with which she insisted on keeping her hold on him.

On the very day when he had this conversation with Bertha, her husband was forced to take to his bed again. He cried out with excruciating neuralgic pains in the face. He was seized with a violent, persistent, tenacious craving for pepper, which nothing could assuage. He was sleepless, and morphine in large doses failed to bring him slumber; while he felt an intense chill within him, as if the body's temperature were gradually diminishing. He was constantly in consultation with bailiffs and agents, and shut himself up for days together with notaries and attorneys. Then, saying that he must have distractions, he received all his friends, and when no one called, he sent for some acquaintance to come and chat with him in order to forget his illness. How can I find out whether Clement, within the past day or two, has not changed his will in regard to me?" "His will?" "Yes, I've already told you that by a will of which I myself have a copy, Sauvresy has left me his whole fortune. "I will betray the fact of your relations with me; who will then believe that you are not my accomplice?" He saw the force of this terrible menace, coming from Bertha.

Whatever happens, for happiness or misery, we shall no longer be separated; our destinies will be the same." Hector fell heavily into a chair, more overwhelmed than if he had been struck with a hammer.

He held his bursting forehead between his hands; he saw himself shut up in an infernal circle, without outlet. "I am lost!" he stammered, without knowing what he said, "I am lost!" He was to be pitied; his face was terribly haggard, great drops of perspiration stood at the roots of his hair, his eyes wandered as if he were insane.

You don't know, then, that I am tired of suffering, fearing, feigning." "Such a crime!" She burst out with a laugh that made him shudder. "You ought to have said so," said she, with a look full of contempt, "the day you won me from Sauvresy--the day that you stole the wife of this friend who saved your life. "But we can separate and break off with each other. She went down, leaving Hector overcome with despair. It might be supposed that Tremorel, enslaved by his horrid position, and harassed by increasing terror, would renounce forever his proposed marriage with Laurence. He could only be reproached with moral complicity in it, a complicity involuntary, forced upon him, imposed somehow by the care for his own life. She plunged her hair-pin into the fatal vial without ceasing her conversation, and he did not surprise her in any shrinking or shuddering, nor even a trembling of the eyelids. "Before all, I must know about the will--and that I am trying to find out." She occupied herself constantly about this will, and during the long hours that she passed at Sauvresy's bedside, she gradually, with the greatest craft and delicacy, led her husband's mind in the direction of his last testament, with such success that he himself mentioned the subject which so absorbed Bertha. "Give it to me." He took the copy of his will, and read it with evident satisfaction, nodding his head at certain passages in which he referred to his love for his wife. "Take this," said he to Tremorel, "and read aloud what I have just added." Hector complied with his friend's request, with trembling voice: "This day, being sound in mind, though much suffering, I declare that I do not wish to change a line of this will.

"CLEMENT SAUVRESY." Mistress of herself as Bertha was, she succeeded in concealing the unspeakable satisfaction with which she was filled. "Of what good is this?" said she, with a sigh.

She said this, but half an hour afterward, when she was alone with Hector, she gave herself up to the extravagance of her delight. She answered with a "prrr," and added vivaciously: "Of him? The next day he went off to Melun without a word; being unable to bear the sight of this agony, and fearing to betray himself. "Why this flight?" "I could not stay here--I suffered, trembled, felt as if I were dying." "What a coward you are!" He would have replied, but she put her finger on his mouth, and pointed with her other hand to the door of the next room.

I shall not be easy till they go away." Bertha's fears were not without foundation. "For you see," added he, "I don't think Monsieur Sauvresy can live more than two days!" Bertha, with her ear at the keyhole, had heard the doctor's prediction; and when Hector returned from conducting the physician to the door, he found her radiant.

But at last a day would come when, without scandal, she might throw off her mourning clothes, and then they would get married. Bertha, standing by the mantel, began to prepare with great care Dr. While she was busied with the poison at the mantel, Sauvresy had softly raised himself; more softly still, he had pulled the curtain aside, and had stretched out his arm and touched her.

His eyes glittered with hate and anger. And then she dared to approach the bed, and, with a frightfully constrained smile, to say: "How you frightened me then!" He looked at her a moment, which seemed to her an age--and simply replied: "I understand it." There was no longer any uncertainty. She nerved herself to go on: "Are you still suffering?" "No." "Then why did you get up?" He raised himself upon his pillow, and with a sudden strength, he continued: "I got up to tell you that I have had enough of these tortures, that I have reached the limits of human energy, that I cannot endure one day longer the agony of seeing myself put to death slowly, drop by drop, by the hands of my wife and my best friend!" He stopped. Delirium--" "Have I really been delirious?" interrupted he, with a surprised air. "Alas, yes, dear, that is what haunts you, and fills your poor sick head with horrid visions." He looked at her curiously. The poison is only too real, and I could tell you what it is without your taking it out of your pocket." She recoiled as if she had seen her husband's hand stretched out to snatch the blue vial. Why, your poison gives intolerable neuralgia, sleeplessness, and you saw me without surprise, sleeping soundly all night long! I complained of a devouring fire within me, while your poison freezes the blood and the entrails, and yet you are not astonished. Yes, I had been fatally wounded in the heart on the day that I learned that you were faithless to me." He spoke of his death without apparent emotion; but at the words, "You were faithless to me," his voice faltered and trembled.

"He is innocent." Sauvresy turned pale with rage. He forgot their presence, the infamous treachery, the poison; that he was about to die, murdered by this beloved wife; and his eyes filled with tears, his voice choked.

Your love, without thought of mine, rushed toward him, though he did not think of you. You did not even have a struggle with yourself; you betrayed no confusion which would reveal your first fault to me. You brought me your forehead soiled with his kisses without blushing." Weariness overcame his energies; his voice became little by little feebler and less distinct. What did you expect from this wretch for whom you had the frightful courage to kill me, with a kiss upon your lips, slowly, hour by hour? Ah, if my name was Hector de Tremorel, and a man had spoken as I have just done, that man should live no longer, even if he had ten revolvers like this I am holding to defend himself with!" Hector, thus taunted, tried to get up and reply; but his legs would not support him, and his throat only gave hoarse, unintelligible sounds.

Bertha, as she looked at the two men, recognized her error with rage and indignation. She felt sick with disgust when she but glanced toward him. Did you have pity on me during all this year that you have been playing with my happiness, during this fortnight that you have been mixing poison in all my potions?

Ah, you ask how I could have done all this without your suspecting it, or without being seen by any of the servants. Know that hate is stronger than love, be sure that I have left nothing to chance, nor have I forgotten anything." Hector and Bertha looked at Sauvresy with a dull, fixed gaze. They remained opposite each other with dilated eyes, stupefied, as if their thoughts were bent upon the torments of that future which the implacable vengeance of the man whom they had outraged imposed upon them. She had had no idea of such constancy and courage allied with so much dissimulation and genius. At the same time she was transported with rage and sorrow in thinking that she had had this man in her power, that he had been at her feet.

The certainty that Laurence was now forever lost for him occurred to him, and his despair was without bounds. A--friend--not he with the package--is charged, without knowing the reason for it, with the task of watching you. I can read you the rough draft of it." He took a sheet of paper from a portfolio which was concealed; like the revolver, under the bolster, and read: "Being stricken with a fatal malady, I here set down freely, and in the fulness of my faculties, my last wishes: "My dearest wish is that my well-beloved widow, Bertha, should espouse, as soon as the delay enjoined by law has expired, my dear friend, the Count Hector de Tremorel. Bertha, Hector, and Sauvresy accepted, without taking note of it, the strange position in which they found themselves; and they talked naturally, as if of matters of every-day life, and not of terrible events. "Come, go along; or shall I ring, or fire a pistol to bring them here?" Hector went out; Bertha remained alone with her husband--alone! They wept and groaned to see him lying there so pale and haggard, with the stamp of death already on his forehead.

Then turning to Bertha and Hector, he resumed: "You have witnessed, my people, the care and solicitude with which my bedside has been surrounded by this incomparable friend and my adored Bertha. You have depicted them, Monsieur Plantat, with the hand of a master. "I know that Sauvresy's body was not cold," said he, "before his murderers began to threaten each other with death." "Unhappily for them," observed Dr. He piteously threw her between these two wretches, without asking himself whether she would be broken. Hector would have been delighted with a separation; his wife could not consent to it. "On the day of the marriage of Madame Sauvresy and Count Hector, in conformity with the last wishes of my dying friend, I went to Valfeuillu and asked to see Monsieur and Madame de Tremorel. 'Madame,' said I, 'I was charged by your late husband to hand to you, on the day of your second marriage, this package, which he confided to my care.' She took the package, in which the bottle and the manuscript were enclosed, with a smiling, even joyous air, thanked me warmly, and went out. I will return immediately,' with which he ran out. I was at work upon aconite when Sauvresy died; and he was poisoned with aconitine." "Ah, with aconitine," said M. "It's the first time that I ever met with that poison.

Thus, the hatred of this pair, who were in appearance so united, is explained; and it is also clear why Hector has ruined a charming young girl with a splendid dowry, instead of making her his wife. And above all, the paper for which he searched with such desperation, when every moment was an affair of life and death to him, was none other than Sauvresy's manuscript, his condemnation and the proof of his first crime." M. Perhaps it was a simple matter of instinct with him, like that which impels the hunting hound on the track of his game. Plantat shuddered; a conversation which he had had with Laurence occurred to him. "Here they've been shut up these twelve hours without eating or drinking. Here I go on quietly talking with my face exposed, as if it was not broad daylight; and people might come in at any moment!" And turning to Louis, who was very much surprised to see this dark young man whom he had certainly not admitted the night before, he added: "Give me those little toilet articles, my good fellow; they belong to me." Then, by a turn of his hand, he readjusted his physiognomy of last night, while the master of the house went out to give some orders, which M.

XXII Robelot must have had rare presence of mind and courage to kill himself in that obscure closet, without making enough noise to arouse the attention of those in the library. His face was pale, his eyes and mouth half open, and he had the appearance of one who has gradually and without much pain lost his consciousness by congestion of the brain. You only find in his secretary effects which he thought he could avow without danger. But where?" "Ah, let me look." He began to rummage about, peering into everything in the room, moving the furniture, sounding the floor with his heels, and rapping on the wall here and there.

"There is no cement between these stones, and they are movable; the treasure must be here." When the pickaxe was brought, he gave a single blow with it; the stones gaped apart, and betrayed a wide and deep hole between them. "Ah," cried he, with a triumphant air, "I knew it well enough." The hole was full of rouleaux of twenty-franc pieces; on counting them, M. Lecoq found a small piece of paper, covered with figures, deposited with the gold; it seemed to be Robelot's accounts. Taking him by the coat-lapel, he drew him into the embrasure of a window, and with his most innocent air, said: "I beg your pardon, are we going back to your house?" "Why should we? "Now, since you've come, let us hurry off to Corbeil; Monsieur Domini, who is waiting for us this morning, must be mad with impatience." XXIII M.

He had eaten his breakfast in his cabinet, so as to be sure and be beforehand with M.

One of the prisoners swore by all things sacred that he knew nothing except what he had already told; the other preserved an obstinate and ferocious silence, confining himself to the remark: "I know that I am lost; do with me what you please." M. Domini's slight shrug of the shoulders did not escape the detective, but he calmly continued: "More; I am sure that Monsieur Domini will not permit me to leave his cabinet without a warrant to arrest Count Hector de Tremorel, whom at present he thinks to be dead." "Possibly," said M. He had completely resumed his character of a retired haberdasher, with a little piping voice, and such obsequious expressions as, "I have the honor," and "If Monsieur the Judge will deign to permit me;" he resorted to the candy-box with the portrait, and, as the night before at Valfeuillu, chewed a lozenge when he came to the more striking points. A man, however, never permits an opinion deliberately and carefully formed to be refuted by one whom he looks on as an inferior, without a secret chagrin. "I am convinced," said he, "that a crime was committed on Monsieur Sauvresy with the dearly paid assistance of this Robelot. I gave this portrait to the agent with instructions to go to the Vulcan's Forges and ascertain if Guespin had been seen there, and whether he bought anything there night before last." M.

He was a muscular man about forty years old, with a military pose, a heavy mustache, and thick brows, meeting over the nose.

Domini encouraged him with an approving gesture. He turned toward the Corbeil policeman, and abruptly asked him: "Is this all you know?" The big man with the thick eyebrows superciliously eyed this little Parisian who dared to question him thus. What was the use?" "Simply, my brave fellow, to compare this weapon with the victim's wounds, and to see whether its handle corresponds to that which left a distinct and visible imprint between the victim's shoulders." "I forgot it; but it is easily remedied." "An oversight may, of course, be pardoned; but you can at least tell us in what sort of money Guespin paid for his purchases?" The poor man seemed so embarrassed, humiliated, and vexed, that the judge hastened to his assistance.

"I beg you to excuse me I don't agree with you," returned M. Did he simply slip them into his pocket, or did he have them done up in a bundle, and if so, how?" The detective spoke in a sharp, hard, freezing tone, with a bitter raillery in it, frightening his Corbeil colleague out of his assurance. Lecoq raised his hands as if to call the heavens to witness: in his heart, he was charmed with this fine occasion to revenge himself for M. Domini looked on at this scene with secret chagrin. His recruit went over to the enemy, yielding without a struggle to a confessed superiority. In order to implicate Guespin the crime must appear to have been committed after midnight, and--" He suddenly checked himself and stopped with open mouth and fixed eyes as a new idea crossed his mind. Plantat, who were watching him with the deepest attention, saw a triumphant light in his eyes. He knows that justice must have its victims, one for every crime; he does not forget that the police, as long as it has not the criminal, is always on the search with eye and ear open; and he has thrown us Guespin as a huntsman, closely pressed, throws his glove to the bear that is close upon him.

He had never heard any of his colleagues express themselves with such fervor and authority; he had had no idea of such eloquence, and he stood erect, as if some of the admiration which he saw in all the faces were reflected back on him. "And yet you and I are familiar with the machinery of justice. He ought to present the facts, there and at once, and produce one of those proofs which can be touched with the finger. On the other hand it is decided, that after he has once been interrogated he may be confronted with witnesses. Lecoq was beside himself with joy; he had not hoped to achieve such a victory over one so determined as M. Whether she was smitten with remorse, or understood that it was her conduct which had killed Sauvresy, or suspected the crime, I don't know. In short, she knew what his relations with Madame Sauvresy had been, and she threatened him; it was a regular black-mailing operation. He told me all about the trouble she gave him, and added that he would not be able to get rid of her without shutting her up, which he could not bring himself to do." "How long ago was their last interview?" "Why," answered the doctor, "not three weeks ago, when I had a consultation at Melun, I saw the count and this demoiselle at a hotel window; when he saw me he suddenly drew back." "Then," said the detective, "there is no longer any doubt--" He stopped.

His eyes were haggard, his dry lips were bordered with foam. "Why should I?" He added with the gesture of a desperate man who abandons himself, renounces all struggling and all hope: "What have I done to you, my God, that you torture me this way?

His surprising genius for investigation had just inspired him with a bold stroke, which, if it succeeded, would assure him the victory. She is short, isn't she, quite pretty, brown and pale, with very large eyes?" "You know her, then?" said Guespin, in a voice trembling with emotion. Some prisoners intrench themselves behind a system of defence, and nothing can divert them from it; others vary with each new question, denying what they have just affirmed, and constantly inventing some new absurdity which anon they reject again. Listen: On the night of Madame Denis's wedding, you were getting ready to go off with your comrades, and had just borrowed twenty francs from the valet, when the count called you. "Do with me as you like," said he. What should we do with such a fool as you?" cried M.

"Without speaking of your clearsightedness, which is so prompt as to seem almost like second sight, your examination just now was a master-piece of its kind. Receive my congratulations, to say nothing of the reward which I propose to recommend in your favor to your chiefs." The detective at these compliments cast down his eyes with the abashed air of a virgin. You would have ferreted out the truth without me all the same." The judge arose and graciously, but not without effort, extended his hand to M.

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

"He gave Guespin and Jenny some task, without explaining it at all." M. Domini, "Jenny will explain it all to us." "That is what I rely on; and I hope that within forty-eight hours I shall have found her and brought her safely to Corbeil." He rose at these words, took his cane and hat, and turning to the judge, said: "Before retiring--" "Yes, I know," interrupted M.

Domini opened his portfolio and wrote off a warrant as follows: "By the law: "We, judge of instruction of the first tribunal, etc., considering articles 91 and 94 of the code of criminal instruction, command and ordain to all the agents of the police to arrest, in conformity with the law, one Hector de Tremorel, etc." When he had finished, he said: "Here it is, and may you succeed in speedily finding this great criminal." "Oh, he'll find him," cried the Corbeil policeman. The doctor remained with the judge to make arrangements for Sauvresy's exhumation. Lecoq had some difficulty in getting rid of him; but he at length found himself alone in the street with the old justice of the peace. "Would it be agreeable to you to partake of another modest dinner with me, and accept my cordial hospitality?" "I am chagrined to be obliged to refuse you," replied M. The woman scanned him with a surprised and suspicious air.

The door opposite the staircase on the third story was not like other doors; it was of plain oak, thick, without mouldings, and fastened with iron bars. It would have looked like a prison door had not its sombreness been lightened by a heavily colored engraving of a cock crowing, with the legend "Always Vigilant." Had the detective put his coat of arms up there? "Monsieur Lecoq." "What do you want of him?" "He made an appointment with me for this morning." "Your name and business?" "Monsieur Plantat, justice of the peace at Orcival." "All right.

"Everybody can't get in here, it seems." Hardly had this reflection passed through his mind when the door opened with a noise as of chains and locks. The whole of one side of the wall was taken up with a long rack, where hung the strangest and most incongruous suits of clothes. A toilet-table, covered with powders, essences, and paints, stood between the fireplace and the window. He saw before him a man of his own age, of respectable mien, and polite manners, a little bald, with gold spectacles and a light-colored flannel dressing-gown. Plantat bowed, saying: "I am waiting here for Monsieur Lecoq." The man in gold spectacles burst out laughing, and clapped his hands with glee. The old hag appeared, and he ordered her to bring on breakfast forthwith, and above all, some good wine. Plantat only listened to him with one ear; he was trying to find an excuse for cutting Janouille's story short, and to lead the conversation to the events of the day before. Reflect that this girl has been connected with the Count de Tremorel, a man of the world, a prince of the mode. When a girl falls to the gutter, after having, as they say, dazzled all Paris for six months with her luxury, she does not disappear entirely, like a stone in the mud.

He has killed his wife, he hopes he has created a belief in his own death, he has eloped with a young girl, and he has got nearly or quite a million of francs in his pocket. To begin with, I throw off my own individuality and try to assume his. The moment he had decided on the crime, he said to himself: 'Grant that Bertha has been murdered; thanks to my precautions, they think that I have been killed too; Laurence, with whom I elope, writes a letter in which she announces her suicide; I have money, what must I do?' The problem, it seems to me, is fairly put in this way." "Perfectly so," approved M. They do not make a purchase which is not remarked; they cannot make any movement without exciting curiosity. You might bet twenty to one they would find, on landing on the other side, a detective on the pier armed with a warrant to arrest them. Lecoq spoke with the certainty and positiveness of a mathematical professor; the old justice of the peace listened, as do the professor's scholars.

All Paris is under the eye of the police, just as an ant is under that of the naturalist with his microscope. You must know that in France the police have to contend not only with the rogues, but also with the honest people." M. "I have come to the conclusion that here, perhaps within two streets of us, perhaps in the next house, the fugitives are hid. But let's go on with our calculation of probabilities. At this moment three of my men, each with a list and a photograph, are going from upholsterer to upholsterer showing them the picture and asking them if they recognize it as the portrait of one of their customers.

If one of them answers 'yes,' we've got our man." "And we will get him!" cried the old man, pale with emotion. But he was not hungry, and could not force himself to eat; he could not think of anything but a plan which he had to propose to his host, and he had that oppressive feeling which is experienced when one is about to do something which has been decided on with hesitation and regret. The detective, who, like all men of great activity, was a great eater, vainly essayed to entertain his guest, and filled his glass with the choicest Chateau Margaux; the old man sat silent and sad, and only responded by monosyllables. Janouille went to the door, and speedily returned with the announcement that Goulard begged to speak with M. He had donned his best clothes, with spotless linen, and a very high collar. "And who dared to give you my address?" "Monsieur," said Goulard, visibly intimidated by his reception, "please excuse me; I was sent by Doctor Gendron with this letter for Monsieur Plantat." "Oh," cried M. Am I not ravished when I encounter a fine crime?" And without waiting for his guest's reply, he continued reading the letter: "The experiments promised to be all the more conclusive as aconitine is one of those drugs which conceal themselves most obstinately from analysis. I proceed thus: After heating the suspected substances in twice their weight of alcohol, I drop the liquid gently into a vase with edges a little elevated, at the bottom of which is a piece of paper on which I have placed my tests. In this case my paper was of a light yellow color, and if we were not mistaken, it ought either to become covered with brown spots, or completely brown.

The substances which I submitted to the test were liberally saturated with aconitine. Why, that body is nothing more to him than 'suspected matter!' And he already imagines himself discussing the merits of his sensitive paper in court!" "He has reason to look for antagonists in court." "And meanwhile he makes his experiments, and analyzes with the coolest blood in the world; he continues his abominable cooking, boiling and filtering, and preparing his arguments--!" M. I am going to be frank with you, as I would be with myself; and you will see the reason of my hesitation, my silence, in short, of all my conduct since the discovery of the crime." "I am listening." "It's a sad history, Lecoq. I found myself alone in life, more lost than the shipwrecked man in the midst of the sea, without a plank to sustain me. Lecoq fidgeted in his chair, rubbed his face with his handkerchief, and seemed ill at ease. "One day," pursued the old man, "my friend Courtois spoke to me of her marriage with Tremorel; then I measured the depth of my love. She came to me to talk of Hector; she admired in him all that seemed to her superior to other men, so that none could be compared with him.

She was enchanted with his bold horseback riding, and thought everything he said sublime." "Did you know what a wretch Tremorel was?" "Alas, I did not yet know it. It was thus that I found out his interviews with Jenny and his relations with Bertha." "Why didn't you divulge them?" "Honor commanded silence. I said to myself, when I saw three women of such different characters smitten with him, 'what is there in him to be so loved?'" "Yes," answered M. Lecoq, responding to a secret thought, "women often err; they don't judge men as we do." "Many a time," resumed the justice of the peace, "I thought of provoking him to fight with me, that I might kill him; but then Laurence would not have looked at me any more. I was beside myself with rage, and swore that I would wait and murder him. Lecoq trembled with indignation. I don't care whether he lives or dies, whether he succeeds in flying or ends his life some morning in the Place Roquette." "Then why have you such a horror of a trial?" "Because--" "Are you a friend to his family, and anxious to preserve the great name which he has covered with mud and devoted to infamy?" "No, but I am anxious for Laurence, my friend; the thought of her never leaves me." "But she is not his accomplice; she is totally ignorant--there's no doubt of it--that he has killed his wife." "Yes," resumed M. If I were the judge I should not hesitate to include Laurence in the indictment." "With our aid she will prove victoriously that she was ignorant of all, and has been outrageously deceived." "May be; but will she be any the less dishonored and forever lost?

Can you imagine that of her own free will she compelled herself to announce her suicide at the risk of killing her parents with grief? You know as well as I do that justice is most considerate with the innocent victims of affairs of this sort." "Consideration? Anger lit up his eyes with a strange fire; he seemed young again--he loved, and defended his beloved. If Tremorel is brought to trial, all is over with Laurence! I love her a thousand times more than before her fall, for then I loved her without hope, while now--" He stopped, shocked at what he was going to say. Lecoq stopped him with a haughty gesture. "Enough, Monsieur Plantat," said he, in a bitter tone, "I can do a service to a person whom I esteem, love and pity with all my soul; but I cannot sell such a service." "Believe that I did not wish--" "Yes, yes, you wished to pay me. "If you go and resist this prejudice established for ages, and say that a detective is honest and cannot be otherwise, that he is tenfold more honest than any merchant or notary, because he has tenfold the temptations, without the benefits of his honesty; if you say this, they'll laugh in your face. I could get together to-morrow, with impunity, without any risk, at least a million. And still, the first man who should come along to-morrow--a defaulting banker, a ruined merchant, a notary who has gambled on 'change--would feel himself compromised by walking up the boulevard with me!

Plantat, transported with joy. "Two o'clock," cried he, "and I have an appointment between three and four with Madame Charman about Jenny." "I am at your disposal," returned his guest. Either we shall have him within four-and-twenty hours or we must change our batteries. Each of my three men has a carriage and a good horse; they may be able to finish with the upholsterers within an hour from now. He had lost, with his coolness, a part of his clearsightedness. "I don't know." "And if anybody comes from over yonder?" "Over yonder" with a detective, always means "the house"--otherwise the prefecture of police. "So you've had a few words with my wine. Charman's profession, she has more than once had business with M. Charman, with an obsequious bow. Lecoq exchanged a significant glance with the old justice; the same idea struck them both at the same moment.

At last, she mixed with the worst kind of people, drank absinthe, they say, and had nothing to put to her back. Jenny ought to return before four o'clock, and one of my girls is waiting for her with orders to bring her here as soon as she comes in, without even letting her go up to her room." "We'll wait for her then." M. When you see me fairly engaged in conversation with her, please be so good as to go and overlook your work-people in the shops. She was no longer the fresh and pretty minx whom Hector had known--the provoking large-eyed Parisian demoiselle, with haughty head and petulant grace. A single year had withered her, as a too hot summer does the roses, and had destroyed her fragile beauty beyond recall. She was richly dressed in a new robe, with a great deal of lace and a jaunty hat; yet she had a wretched expression; she was all besmeared with rouge and paint. "What an idea!" she cried, without taking the trouble to bow to anyone; "what sense is there in sending for me to come here in this way, almost by force, and by a very impudent young woman?" Mme.

"Why, don't be so angry, dear--I thought you would be delighted and overwhelm me with thanks." "I?

Ah, I'm not ungrateful; you came here yesterday and settled your account with me, and to-day I mean to reward you for it. "Why, am I mistaken?" cried he, as if amazed; "is it really Miss Jenny whom I have the honor of seeing?" She scanned him with a half-angry, half-surprised air, and said: "Yes, it is I; what of it?" "What! Don't you recognize me?" "No, not at all." "Yet I was one of your admirers once, my dear, and used to breakfast with you when you lived near the Madeleine; in the count's time, you know." He took off his spectacles as if to wipe them, but really to launch a furious look at Mme. He was thought to be very happy at home; not at all; he has murdered his wife with a knife." Jenny grew pale under her paint. "It is so possible," he resumed, "that he is at this moment in prison, will soon be tried, and without a doubt will be convicted." M.

Lecoq said this lightly, with intended deliberation, so as to watch the impression he produced on Jenny. "The papers said it was a poor lad who was his gardener." "A little man, wasn't he, thin, very dark, with black hair?" "Just so." "And whose name was--wait now--was--Guespin." "Ah ha, you know him then?" Jenny hesitated. Then he told me that he was very much annoyed about his cook's marriage; for one of his servants was deeply in love with her, and might go and raise a rumpus at the wedding." "Ah, he spoke to you about the wedding, then?" "Wait a minute. I was to dress up--as a chambermaid, and wait for the man at the cafe in the Place du Chatelet, between half-past nine and ten that evening; I was to sit at the table nearest the entrance on the right, with a bouquet in my hand, so that he should recognize me. He would come in and give me a package; then I was to ask him to take something, and so get him tipsy if possible, and then walk about Paris with him till morning." Jenny expressed herself with difficulty, hesitating, choosing her words, and trying to remember exactly what Tremorel said. He is a very nice fellow, this gardener, and I passed a very pleasant evening with him. He was very tipsy by eleven and invited me to go and have a dance with him at the Batignolles. By two o'clock the fellow was so far gone that he fell like a lump on a bench near the Arc de Triomphe, where he went to sleep; and there I left him." "Well, where did you go?" "Home." "What has become of the package?" "Oh, I intended to throw it into the Seine, as Hector wished, but I forgot it; you see, I had drunk almost as much as the gardener--so I carried it back home with me, and it is in my room now." "Have you opened it?" "Well--what do you think?" "What did it contain?" "A hammer, two other tools and a large knife." Guespin's innocence was now evident, and the detective's foresight was realized. And as you might lose yourself on the way, I'll give you a guide." He went to the window and opened it; perceiving Goulard on the sidewalk, he cried out to him: "Goulard, come up here." He turned to the astonished Jenny, who was so frightened that she dared not either question him or get angry, and said: "Tell me how much Tremorel paid you for the service you rendered him." "Ten thousand francs; but it is my due, I swear to you; for he promised it to me long ago, and owed it to me." "Very good; it can't be taken away from you." He added, pointing out Goulard who entered just then: "Go with this man to your room, take the package which Guespin brought you, and set out at once for Corbeil.

Charman came in just in time to see Jenny leave the room with Goulard. He almost ran down the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, so that Plantat had great difficulty in keeping up with him; and as he went along he pursued his train of reflection, half aloud, so that his companion caught here and there a snatch of it. Lecoq was quite at home (as he was everywhere), and spoke to the man with an air of easy familiarity. He opened the door of the room referred to without hesitation. Lecoq's entrance with M.

Lecoq, "for my orders will depend on a report which I am expecting." He turned to the men whom he had sent out among the upholsterers: "Which of you was successful?" "I, Monsieur," replied a big white-faced fellow, with insignificant mustaches. Plantat being duly ensconced with them in the little room, the detective turned the key. "Speak up now," said he to Palot, "and be brief." "I showed the photograph to at least a dozen upholsterers without any result; but at last a merchant in the Faubourg St. He did not beat him down at all, and only made one condition to the purchase, and that was, that everything should be ready and in place, and the curtains and carpets put in, within three weeks from that time; that is a week ago last Monday." "And what was the sum-total of the purchase?" "Eighteen thousand francs, half paid down in advance, and half on the day of delivery." "And who carried the last half of the money to the upholsterer?" "A servant." "What name did this customer give?" "He called himself Monsieur James Wilson; but Monsieur Rech said he did not seem like an English-man." "Where does he live?" "The furniture was carried to a small house, No. Lecoq's face, which had up to that moment worn an anxious expression, beamed with joy. Explain yourself, Palot." "Recognizing the house--an elegant affair it is, too--I said to myself: 'I' faith, here's the cage; let's see if the bird is in it.' I luckily happened to have a napoleon in my pocket; and I slipped it without hesitation into the drain which led from the house to the street-gutter." "Then you rang?" "Exactly. The porter--there is a porter--opened the door, and with my most vexed air I told him how, in pulling out my handkerchief, I had dropped a twenty-franc piece in the drain, and begged him to lend me something to try to get it out. He lent me a poker and took another himself, and we got the money out with no difficulty; I began to jump about as if I were delighted, and begged him to let me treat him to a glass of wine." "Not bad." "Oh, Monsieur Lecoq, it is one of your tricks, you know. We were having a jolly talk together when, all of a sudden, I leaned over as if I had just espied something on the floor, and picked up--the photograph, which I had dropped and soiled a little with my foot. The porter's lodge is on the left of the arch; on the right a glass door opens on a staircase with six steps, which conducts to a vestibule into which the drawing-room, dining-room, and two other little rooms open.

As soon as I am gone, pay up what you owe here, and then, as I must have you all within reach, go and install yourselves in the first wine-shop on the right as you go up the Rue d'Amsterdam. As it is two hours yet before dark, let's imitate my men; I know a restaurant just by here where you can dine capitally; we'll patronize it." And without awaiting a reply, he led M. Lecoq remained impenetrable, answering all inquiries with: "Let me act, and trust me." M. Lecoq tried hard to make his companion eat something, to take at least some soup and a glass of old Bordeaux; but he soon saw the uselessness of his efforts and went on with his dinner as if he were alone. "You see," said he, while they were waiting to be served, "we must try to get at Laurence without Tremorel's knowing it. We must have a ten minutes' talk with her alone, and in the house. Lecoq's remark filled him with alarm. "If that's so," said he mournfully, "it's all over with our project." "How so?" "Because Tremorel will not leave Laurence by herself for a moment." "Then I'll try to entice him out." "And you, you who are usually so clear-sighted, really think that he will let himself be taken in by a trick!

Lecoq with a triumphant smile, "and many other things besides.

The restaurant door opened ajar, and a man passed his head in and withdrew it immediately. Lecoq did, and even seemed dissatisfied with his get-up. First, hire a carriage, with a good horse; then go to the wine-shop for one of our men, who will accompany you to Monsieur Wilson's house.

This done, put yourself with your companion in ambuscade before the house. He will take a carriage, and you will follow him with yours, getting up on the hackman's seat and keeping a lookout from there. Do you comprehend everything?" "I beg your pardon--what shall I do if Monsieur Wilson simply returns to his house?" "In that case I will finish with him.

If he returns, you will come back with him, and the moment his cab stops before the house give two loud whistles, you know.

Then wait for me in the street, taking care to retain your cab, which you will lend to Monsieur Plantat if he needs it." "All right," said Palot, who hastened off without more ado. Ah, why can't I dispense with following you?" "But your presence is indispensable; without your help I can do nothing:" "What could I do?" "Save Laurence, Monsieur Plantat." This name restored a part of his courage. We must have a ten minutes' interview with Mademoiselle Laurence, but not much more, and it is absolutely necessary that this interview should be suddenly interrupted by Tremorel's return. She was timid and reserved with all but him--was he not her old friend, the confidant of all her little griefs and her innocent hopes? Plantat followed him with a firmer step, and they soon reached M. Only, as I must positively speak with Madame Wilson, I'm going upstairs." The porter seemed about to resist him by force; but, as Lecoq now called in his men, he thought better of it and kept quiet. Woe to him who, being seized with a dizziness at the brink of the abyss, does not fly as fast as possible, without turning his head; for soon, yielding to an irresistible attraction, he approaches, braves the danger, slips, and is lost. All his guilt came from the first feeling of envy with which he regarded Sauvresy, and which he had not taken the pains to subdue.

The hand-pressure led to the pretence of suicide in order to fly with her lover. It seemed to her that she had been whirled along in a tempest, without a second to think or act freely. Was it really she who was there in a strange house, dead to everyone, leaving behind a withered memory, reduced to live under a false name, without family or friends henceforth, or anyone in the world to help her feebleness, at the mercy of a fugitive like herself, who was free to break to-morrow the bonds of caprice which to-day bound him to her?

She was afraid, for Tremorel had said to her many times within the past two days, "We are pursued; let us hide well;" and though it seemed to her that she had nothing to fear, she trembled without knowing why. The crime horrified her, but it did not seem to her entirely improbable, knowing as she did the hatred with which Hector was inspired by Bertha. Because in concert with Bertha, he poisoned Monsieur Sauvresy, who saved his life and was his best friend. This mournful exclamation restored to Laurence all her energy; she made an effort and rose, her eyes glittering with indignation: "I love him!" cried she.

When I fled with him I once more sacrificed myself, when I saw that it was impossible to conceal my shame. I lived, and wrote an infamous letter to my mother, and yielded to Hector's prayers, because he pleaded with me in the name of my--of our child!" M. I cannot be innocent when Hector has committed a crime; I desire to suffer half the punishment." She spoke with such remarkable animation that the detective despaired of calming her, when two whistles in the street struck his ear. "You will let me speak five minutes with the Count de Tremorel, will you not?" she asked. Come, let us go, let us leave this house--" Laurence overwhelmed him with a look full of hate and contempt, and said: "It is too late." Her countenance and voice were so strange that Tremorel, despite his distress, was struck by it, and asked: "What is the matter?" "Everything is known; it is known that you killed your wife." "It's false!" She shrugged her shoulders. Lecoq's men, and returned half mad and hideous with terror.

"Yes, you must; but before you die write a confession of your crimes, for the innocent may be suspected--" He sat down mechanically, took the pen which Laurence held out to him, and wrote: "Being about to appear before God, I declare that I alone, and without accomplices, poisoned Sauvresy and murdered the Countess de Tremorel, my wife." When he had signed and dated this, Laurence opened a bureau drawer; Hector seized one of the brace of pistols which were lying in it, and she took the other. "It was not I who poisoned Sauvresy--it was she--there are proofs of it; perhaps, with a good advocate--" M. Laurence, with a rapid movement, took up the other pistol, and was turning it against herself, when M. Still, her eyes were dry, and were lit up with a strange light. "Besides, your life is not your own--you know." "Ah," she returned, "I must die now, even for my child, if I would not die of shame when he asks for his father--" "You will reply, Madame, by showing him an honest man and an old friend, who is ready to give him his name--Monsieur Plantat." The old justice was broken with grief; yet he had the strength to say: "Laurence, my beloved child, I beg you accept me--" These simple words, pronounced with infinite gentleness and sweetness, at last melted the unhappy young girl, and determined her. XXVIII The day after Tremorel's death, old Bertaud and Guespin were set at liberty, and received, the former four thousand francs to buy a boat and new tackle, and the latter ten thousand francs, with a promise of a like sum at the end of the year, if he would go and live in his own province. Lecoq, like everybody else, would, doubtless, have forgotten the Valfeuillu affair, had it not been that a notary called on him personally the other morning with a very gracious letter from Laurence, and an enormous sheet of stamped paper. Plantat's pretty estate at Orcival, "with furniture, stable, carriage-house, garden, and other dependencies and appurtenances thereunto belonging," and some neighboring acres of pleasant fields. /

He could walk about, he could breathe the pure air; but every door would be closed against him.And he walked out, as he had entered, without saying 'Good-morning,' or even touching his hat. de Clameran was about to continue, when, turning around, he for the first time saw the banker, and walking up to him said: 'Well, monsieur, I congratulate myself upon finding you in at last. Andre Fauvel walked up and down the room with quick, nervous steps, occasionally uttering some low exclamation. Slim and insignificant in appearance he might, in spite of his iron muscles, be taken for a bailiff's under clerk, as he walked along buttoned up to the chin in his thin black overcoat. 'I cannot imagine,' said he, 'how a stranger could have effected an entrance here.' He walked around the office. He soon decided, entered the Faubourg Montmartre, and walked up the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette so rapidly, utterly regardless of the grumbling passers-by whom he elbowed out of his way, that Fanferlot found it difficult to keep him in sight. It was one of those streets where you could talk at your ease, without having to step from the sidewalk every moment. Prosper told me to hand this note to madame, and wait for an answer.' 'Walk in, and I will let madame know you are here.' The name of Prosper produced its effect.

She hastily drew around her a cashmere shawl, and, putting on her hat, declared that she was ready to walk from one end of Paris to the other, in search of the judge. 'It is singular,' he said, 'I never felt so great a desire to take a walk.' One of the bailiffs, a large, jovial, red-faced man, received this remark with a hearty burst of laughter, and said: 'I understand.' To the court clerk, while he was going through the formalities of the commitment, Prosper replied with haughty brevity to the indispensable questions asked him. 'Come, monsieur,' he said, 'it is time for you to appear before the judge of instruction.' He jumped up at once, and, without stopping to repair his disordered toilet, said: 'Come on, quick!' The constable remarked, as they walked along: 'You are very fortunate in having your case brought before an honest man.' He was right. He walked with a firm step, head erect, and the fire of resolution in his eye. He knew the way now, and he walked a little ahead of the constable who escorted him. 'During December you paid her dressmaker, Van Klopen, for two walking dresses, nine hundred francs; one evening dress, seven hundred francs; one domino, trimmed with lace, four hundred francs.' 'I spent this money cheerfully, but nevertheless I was not especially attached to her.' M. 'Am I to stand by and have people walking over the Archangel, as if it were a public street?' Mme. She was walking with the uncertain gait of a person who, impatient to be at a rendezvous, has started too soon, and is obliged to occupy the intervening time; she would walk very rapidly, then retrace her footsteps, and proceed slowly.

As each new-comer entered, Gypsy would tremble, and Fanferlot would say, 'This is he!' Finally, as the Hotel-de-Ville clock was striking nine, a man entered, and, without going to the ticket-window, walked directly up to Gypsy, bowed, and took a seat beside her.

Gypsy, who accepted it without hesitation, and together they walked toward the door. He walked dejectedly back to the quay, and it was half-past eleven when he reached his own door.

What can she be up to?' When Fanferlot was sulkily walking down the Faubourg St. Lecoq arose, and walked up and down the room: suddenly he confronted Fanferlot, and said, in a tone of scornful irony: 'What would you think, Master Squirrel, of a man who abuses the confidence of those who employ him, who reveals just enough to lead the prosecution on the wrong scent, who sacrifices to his own foolish vanity the cause of justice and the liberty of an unfortunate man?' Fanferlot started back with a frightened look.

Lecoq abandoned the photograph, and, walking to the door communicating with his bedroom, took the key from the lock, and, holding it in his hand, said: 'Come here, Fanferlot, and stand by my side: there; very well. He could walk about, he could breathe the pure air; but every door would be closed against him. No: I will not die until I have vindicated my innocence!' Often, day and night, had Prosper repeated these words, as he walked his cell. He slowly walked along the streets, with his eyes cast down dreading to meet some familiar face. I walked in darkness: now I have a light to guide me.' As Prosper listened to M. I suppose I make from eight to ten francs.' 'Very well; I will give you ten francs a day if you will walk about the streets, and look for the porter who brought this letter. does he dare--' Then remembering that he ought to control himself before his servant, he waited a few moments, and then said, in a tone of forced calmness: 'Ask them to walk in.' If M. Verduret with a smile, 'but we have no time to talk; come on, hurry!' 'Where are we gong now?' 'You will soon know; walk fast!' And he set the example by striding rapidly toward the Rue Lafayette. After cautiously looking around the room, he walked straight up to the table where M.

Yesterday my master walked out at two o'clock. Verduret did not reply, but walked toward a young man dressed like a brewer, who had just entered the room. If the least noise betrays our presence, you have only to advance boldly as a friend come to visit a friend, and, finding the door open walked in.' But unfortunately the heavy oak door was locked. But we must not stay here forever; and, as Raoul has fastened the gate, we shall have to climb back again.' 'But there is the ladder.' 'Let it stay where it is; as we cannot efface our footprints, he will think thieves have been trying to get into the house.' They scaled the wall, and had not walked fifty steps when they heard the noise of a gate being unlocked. If they are only kind enough to speak French!' He walked along quietly for some time, trying to connect the broken chain of his deductions. I know the value of it.' The count walked off; but during this short colloquy the quadrille had ended, and M. 'If I could only get behind the oleander-tree, I might hear what they are saying.' He pushed his way through the crowd, and, just as he had reached the desired spot, Madeleine arose, and, taking the arm of a bejewelled Persian, walked away. He lit a cigar, and, walking up the Rue St. While I walked around one side of the church, they must have gone the other and lain in wait for me.' His wound began to pain him; he stood under a gas-lamp to examine it.

He walked rapidly up the Rue Sebastopol, and, reaching the square of the Arts et Metiers, he abruptly stopped, and asked some insignificant questions of two constables who were standing talking together. On the ninth day of his voluntary seclusion, Prosper began to feel restless, and at ten o'clock at night set forth to take a walk, thinking the fresh air would relieve the headache which had kept him awake the previous night. 'What can I risk by taking a walk at this time, in a quiet part of the city?' he asked. Fauvel in time, he walked up to the Rue Cardinal Lemoine, and put it in the main letter-box, so as to be certain of its speedy delivery. Gaston dared not trust to a boatman, so he was obliged to walk a league in order to cross the bridge. Therefore Gaston went to Tarascon, intending to cross the bridge there, and walk along the bank to the usual place of meeting at La Verberie. The provoking looks, the murmurs, or rather shouts, which welcomed him as he walked up to Lazet, proved to Gaston that he was surrounded by enemies. Unfortunately, upon reaching this levee, planted with magnificent trees which made it one of the most charming walks of Provence, Gaston forgot that the entrance was closed by a gate with three steps, such as are always placed before walks intended for foot-passengers, and rushed against it with such violence that he was thrown back and badly bruised. He started to walk, but with great pain, for the reaction had come, and his nerves and muscles, so violently strained, had now begun to relax; the intense heat caused by his struggling and fast running was replaced by a cold perspiration, aching limbs, and chattering teeth. After a painful walk he reached his door at ten o'clock.

Horses cannot even walk over its uneven surface; indeed, they can scarcely stand steadily upon it. March!' XIII Valentine knew, that fatal evening, that Gaston would have to walk to Tarascon, to cross the bridge over the Rhone which connected Tarascon with Beaucaire, and did not expect to see him until eleven o'clock, the hour which they had fixed upon the previous evening. Before entering, Valentine walked around the chateau, and looked up at the windows of her mother's chamber. Fearing no danger in their isolation, she left her at perfect liberty; and day and night Valentine might go and come, take long walks, and sit under trees for hours at a time, without restriction. She would have to walk a league before reaching the bridge, and it was another league thence to Clameran; in all she must walk four leagues. The doctor had allowed her to get up; but she was not well enough to go out, and she did not know when she should be able to walk as far as Pere Menoul's cabin. But the faithful servant had a useless walk. How many events had occurred since he last walked along this path, and received a friendly bow and smile from every villager. Jean's house, he found the door open; he walked into the immense empty kitchen.

After so long a walk he must be hungry, they said; he must take a glass of wine now, and breakfast would soon be ready; they would be so proud and happy if M. The occasion was favorable to Mihonne; she walked quickly over to where the marquis stood, and said in a nervous whisper: 'M. After hurriedly walking several squares, she thought she might, without fear of being recognized, call a coach. If it was her duty to make a sacrifice, it was to be carried out to the letter; no hesitation and sighs for what might have been; she shut out all deceitful illusions, and walked straight forward without one look back. 'I did write as soon as I had an opportunity; and Lafourcade wrote back, saying that my father was dead, and that you had left the country.' 'I left Clameran because I believed you to be dead.' After a long silence, Gaston arose, and walked up and down the room as if to shake off a feeling of sadness; then he said, cheerfully: 'Well, it is of no use to mourn over the past. The next day about dusk, while walking along the pretty road leading from the foundery to Oloron, he commenced a little story which was to conclude by asking Gaston to lend him two hundred thousand francs. The story he had planned for the purpose of obtaining the two hundred thousand francs was forgotten; his volubility was gone; and he silently walked along by his brother's side, like an automaton, totally incapable of thinking or acting for himself. But no, he must walk on up to the house with Gaston, quietly, as if nothing had happened to arouse his anxiety.

If you offer me one hundred and fifty thousand francs, it is because you intend to walk off with half a million for yourself.' 'You are talking like a fool,' said Clameran with virtuous indignation. If our little plot were to be discovered to-morrow, you would walk off with the money-box, and leave your devoted nephew to be sent to prison.' 'Ingrate!' muttered Louis, as if distressed at these undeserved reproaches of his protege. As he walked back to his brother's house, thinking over what had just occurred, Louis swore that sooner or later he would be revenged, and that, as soon as he could get rid of Raoul he would do so, and would do him some great injury. He ate his breakfast, and was about to take a walk, when the pains of the previous day suddenly returned, in a more violent form. Leaning on Louis's arm, he slowly walked down to look at the forge, and, seating himself before a furnace at full blast, he declared that he felt very much better, that this intense heat revived him. You are only nervous: come to dinner, and a bottle of Burgundy will soon set you right.' They were walking along the boulevard. He arose, and snatching up his hat, cried fiercely: 'Come along!' But before he had walked half a square, the factitious energy inspired by drink deserted him.

Raoul walked in front, holding the light, and the key of the safe. 'What!' cried the banker; 'does he dare----' Then, after a moment's reflection, he added: 'Ask him to walk up.' The very name of Clameran had sufficed to arouse all the slumbering wrath of M. Fauvel walked up to him, and said bluntly: 'What do you want now, monsieur? The idea of her demanding securities of me!' he said to himself as he slowly walked away. From that moment I walked straight to the solution of the mystery, as I would walk to a beacon-light on a dark night.' The eager, questioning look of Prosper showed that he would like to know the secret of his protector's wonderful penetration, and at the same time be more thoroughly convinced that what he had heard was all true--that his innocence would be more clearly proved. 'It was night, monsieur,' he hesitatingly said, 'and, having a violent headache, I took a walk along the quay thinking there was no risk in my entering a cafe; there I picked up a paper, and read the dreadful announcement.' 'Did you not promise to trust everything to me?' 'You were absent, monsieur; and you yourself might have been surprised by an unexpected--' 'Only fools are ever surprised into committing a piece of folly,' cried M. 'What is it?' 'I can innocently walk out of the front door, and loaf along the street until I reach the Hotel du Louvre.' 'And then?' 'Dame! Verduret; 'he has just discovered our man.' Clameran's uneasiness was quite apparent; he walked forward a few steps, as if intending to cross the bridge; then, suddenly turning around, rapidly walked in the direction of the Rue St. As Raoul was walking out to Vesinet about midnight, he was stopped at a lonely spot, by three men, who asked him what o'clock it was; while looking at his watch, the ruffians fell upon him suddenly, and but for Raoul's wonderful strength and agility, would have left him dead on the spot.

He quietly continued his walk home, fully determined to be hereafter well armed when he went out at night. 'I imagine you know the villain that gave me this little decoration, that night I was walking along the Rue Bourdaloue.

Lecoq--the official Lecoq, who resembled the dignified head of a bureau--was walking up and down his private office, at each turn nervously looking at the clock, which slowly ticked on the mantel, as if it had no intention of striking any sooner than usual, to gratify the man so anxiously watching its placid face. /

Come in, come in; there are several folks in the hall who saw the assassins.There was no tree in the field. There are penalties for it." "Then, come along and let's inform the Mayor." "Why? The distressing odor of the frying from coffee-gardens does not there stifle the perfume of the honeysuckles. The refrains of bargemen, the brazen voices of boat-horns, have never awakened echoes there. Lazily situated on the gentle slopes of a bank washed by the Seine, the houses of Orcival are white, and there are delicious shades, and a bell-tower which is the pride of the place. "There is terrible need of it.

"There is not a moment to lose. "It's of no use to ring, gentlemen," said this man; "there's nobody in the chateau." "How! "I mean," said the groom, "that there is no one there but the master and mistress. "Ah, there are the people of the chateau," cried the groom, whom this morning visit seemed to annoy, "they ought to have a key." The domestics, seeing the group about the gate, became silent and hastened their steps. Madame even said to Monsieur that she should not shut her eyes the whole night, with this immense sum in the house." There was a silence; each one looked at the others with a frightened air. "Before pursuing this interrogatory, let us ascertain the crime, if crime there is; for it is not proved.

II If there had been no crime, at least something extraordinary had taken place at the chateau; the impassible justice might have been convinced of it, as soon as he had stepped into the vestibule. There was also blood on the baluster, and M.

When they had reached the first landing-stage, the mayor said to the valet de chambre: "Tell me, my friend, did your master and mistress occupy the same chamber?" "Yes, sir." "And where is their chamber?" "There, sir." As he spoke, the valet de chambre staggered back terrified, and pointed to a door, the upper panel of which betrayed the imprint of a bloody hand. There was nothing unusual in the apartment; it was a boudoir hung in blue satin, furnished with a couch and four arm-chairs, covered also with blue satin. There was not an article of furniture, not an ornament, which did not betray that a terrible, enraged and merciless struggle had taken place between the assassins and their victims. When he had finished: "Come," said he, "let us go into the other rooms." Everywhere there was the same disorder. There, in the first room which they penetrated, they found, beside a trunk which had been assaulted, but which was not opened, a hatchet for splitting wood which the valet de chambre recognized as belonging to the house. "There were five of them," said the mayor. At last they arrived at the river-bank, under the willows from which Philippe had intended to cut off a branch; there they saw the body. Now, how came she there?

They had pursued her, had caught up with her there, and she had fallen to rise no more. There was not at this place more than a foot of water. The water was very clear, and there was no current; the slippery and slimy mire could be distinctly seen. "You say that you saw the body from your boat?" "Yes, Monsieur Mayor." "Where is your boat?" "There, hauled up to that field." "Well, lead us to it." It was clear to all that this order had a great effect upon the man. There remained nothing of her former self. There was then a terrible concert of cries, lamentations, and imprecations. what good is there in being rich, if it is not to double one's fortune by a good marriage!' "Nearly a month before the marriage, Sauvresy set the laborers to work at Valfeuillu, and in no long time had spent, in repairs and furniture, a trifle of thirty thousand crowns. They were so well-contented there that they established themselves permanently at Valfeuillu, to the great satisfaction of the neighborhood. There he frequented the Belle Image hotel, the best in the town, and met, as if by chance, a young lady from Paris.

He again nearly recovered; a week afterward there was another relapse, and this time so serious, that a fatal end of his illness was foreseen. When they were all gathered about the bedside, he took his wife's hand, placed it in that of the Count de Tremorel, and made them swear to marry each other when he was no more. "I have often heard it said--they know everything at Corbeil--that there was a heated explanation between M. "Melun is not at the end of the world," said he, "and there are hotels at Melun. Soon, to the tears of the first days, to violent despair, there succeeded, in the count and Madame Bertha, a reasonable sadness, then a soft melancholy. At the end, being able to hold in no longer, he exclaimed: "There, those are surely exact details; but I question whether they have advanced us a step in this grave matter which occupies us all--to find the murderers of the count and countess." M. In the vestibule and court were heard the frantic cries of the servants and the curious crowd--of whom there were more than a hundred, whom the news of the crime had collected about the gate, and who burned to hear, and above all to see.

"Then we owe it to the wine that we have caught him, and thus all will be explained." "On perceiving this wretch," pursued the gendarme, who seemed not to have the shadow of a doubt of Guespin's guilt, "Francois, the count's valet de chambre, and Baptiste, the mayor's servant, who were there, hastened to meet him, and seized him. "You knew, perhaps, that the count received a considerable sum yesterday?" A bitter smile parted Guespin's lips as he answered: "I know well enough that everything is against me." There was a profound silence. "But there is one thing," continued the suspected man, "that the record will not tell you; that, disgusted with this abject life, I was tempted to suicide. There, he examined the body with a cold and calm eye. "There are many folks who can't say as much. "By the bye," added he, "there ought to be some game in those traps by this time." "Can you bring a witness to prove that you went home at one?" asked the mayor, who bethought him of the count's clock, stopped at twenty minutes past three. If it was winter, I wouldn't complain much; a fellow is well off in prison then, for it's warm there.

These premature conjectures?" "There were several consultations," said M. Plantat, "there remains not one who knew Sauvresy. Let us agree there has been a murder, with theft as its motive; and start from that point. Guespin came back drunk; ah, there are sad charges against this Guespin!

"There's a fellow," whispered he to the doctor, "who knows what he's about." "Ergo," resumed M. The remarks of the judge drew him from his revery; he got up, and said: "There is another point; putting forward the time was perhaps useful to Guespin, but it would greatly damage Bertaud, his accomplice." "But," answered M. There happily remains a mode of testing the matter--the bed; I'll wager it is rumpled up." Then addressing the mayor, "I shall need a servant to lend me a hand." "I'll help you," said Plantat, "that will be a quicker way." They lifted the top of the bed and set it on the floor, at the same time raising the curtains. Slip your hand underneath--there--you see there is a resistance to your hand which would not occur if the legs had been stretched in that place. There is not a week that the papers don't--" He stopped, chagrined, for nobody was listening to him. I am, so to speak, an old man; I haven't the energy of a young man of thirty-five; yet it seems to me that if assassins should get into my house, when I was there, and up, it would go hard with them. There is always an unexpected noise which puts one on his guard. The nearest neighbor is a long way off, and between there are many large trees, intercepting the sound.

"It seemed to me, that in the places struck, there was no emission of blood in the cutaneous vessels." "The nature of these wounds," continued M. "There are causes," said he, quietly, "which defend themselves. But there are evils which no laws can cure, and which revolt me. There is only one voice, to my mind, worth listening to--that of conscience. Those who were here before me have had time to get up a theory, and if I don't adopt it at once, there is the deuce to pay!" M. "Now there's the judge of instruction," continued Lecoq, "who thinks this a very simple affair; while I, Lecoq, the equal at least of Gevrol, the favorite pupil of Papa Tabaret--I do not see it at all clearly yet." He stopped; and after apparently going over in his mind the result of his discoveries, went on: "No; I'm off the track, and have almost lost my way. "Perhaps you are right," said he, carelessly; "perhaps there is something underneath." The detective looked at him; he didn't stir. There was a long silence, by which M. Therefore, it was thrown with such violence that it turned over itself and that its edge a second time cut in the floor, where you see it now." "True," answered M. There are the traces left on purpose to mislead us--the jumbled-up bed, for instance; then there are the real traces, undesigned, as are these hatchet cuts.

My uncertainty, hesitation, the vacillation of my suspicions, lose me the credit of being an astute detective--of being an agent for whom there's no such thing as a mystery." Worthy M. I said to myself: "A hatchet has been found in the second story; therefore the assassins carried it there, and designedly forgot it. "They left five glasses on the dining-room table; therefore they were more or less than five, but they were not five. "There were the remains of a supper on the table; therefore they neither drank nor ate. "The countess's body was on the river-bank; therefore it was placed there deliberately. A piece of cloth was found in the victim's hand; therefore it was put there by the murderers themselves. "Madame de Tremorel's body is disfigured by many dagger-strokes, and horribly mutilated; therefore she was killed by a single blow--" "Bravo, yes, bravo," cried M. If, by chance, he took a notion to have a small glass of eau-de-vie, he got it from the liqueur closet, there, over the stove." "There were no decanters of rum or cognac in any of the cupboards?" "No." "Thanks; you may retire." As Francois was going out, M. "There isn't one there." "Just so," returned M. Among all the empty bottles put away in the bottom of that closet, there was one--here it is--which contained vinegar; and it was from this bottle that they turned what they thought to be wine into the glasses." Seizing a glass, he put it to M.

Plantat's nose, adding: "See for yourself." There was no disputing it; the vinegar was good, its odor of the strongest; the villains, in their haste, had left behind them an incontestable proof of their intention to mislead the officers of justice. "It was here that one of the count's slippers was found; below there, a little to the right of these geraniums, his silk handkerchief was picked up." They reached the river-bank, and lifted, with great care, the planks which had been placed there to preserve the foot-prints. There was no mistaking the old man's hesitation this time; he was clearly undecided, and leaned on the other's judgment for guidance. "There can be no error, possibly." The detective smiled, as he added: "Only, as two heads are better than one, I will ask you to listen to me, and then, you will tell me what you think." M. Had she been struck down here, she would have fallen violently; her weight, therefore, would have made the water spirt to some distance, as well as the mud; and we should certainly have found some splashes." "But don't you think that, since morning, the sun--" "The sun would have absorbed the water; but the stain of dry mud would have remained. There was then no splash, therefore no violent fall; therefore the countess was not killed here; therefore her body was brought here, and carefully deposited where you found it." M. "But there are the traces of a struggle in the sand," said he. "Monsieur deigns to have his joke; those marks would not deceive a school-boy." "It appears to me, however--" "There can be no mistake, Monsieur Plantat. They were made, too, with the end of the foot; that you may see for yourself." "Yes, I perceive it." "Very well, then; when there has been a struggle on ground like this, there are always two distinct kinds of traces--those of the assailant and those of the victim. The victim, on the contrary, falling back, and trying to avoid the assault, props himself on his heels, and therefore buries the heels in the soil.

Plantat interrupted: "Enough; the most incredulous would now be convinced." After thinking a moment, he added: "No, there is no longer any possible doubt of it." M. There are only two ways of dragging a body; by the shoulders, and in this case the feet, scraping along the earth, leave two parallel trails; or by the legs--in which case the head, lying on the earth, leaves a single furrow, and that a wide one." Plantat nodded assent. Lecoq, "I thought--" "I sincerely regret," continued the judge, "that you were so hastily called, when there was really no serious reason for it. The countess held a piece of cloth tightly in her hand; therefore it was put there, intentionally, by the murderers." M. I will say more; if there is any uncertainty, my opinion is that the accused, and not the prosecution, should have the benefit of it." This was certainly not the detective's opinion, but he was cautious not to say so. There was another embarrassing silence.

I am confident, indeed, that with the exception of one detail that worries me, I have the key to the mystery." "We must be here, then, early to-morrow morning." "I will be here at any hour you will name." "Your search finished, we will go together to Monsieur Domini, at Corbeil." "I am quite at your orders." There was another pause. "Well," said the doctor, "there remains nothing more to be done except to retire." "I was just going to ask permission to do so," said M. I shall sup and sleep there." "You will be poorly off at the Faithful Grenadier," said the old justice of the peace. If you insist on going to Corbeil to-night, we will carry you over after supper." The operation of fixing the seals was speedily concluded; narrow strips of parchment, held by large waxen seals, were affixed to all the doors, as well as to the bureau in which the articles gathered for the purposes of the investigation had been deposited. Come in, come in; there are several folks in the hall who saw the assassins. "Besides, you are going to make more than that to-night, there's so much company at the Orcival festival." During this brief conversation, M. Several domestics were there also, frightened, motionless, not knowing what to do in all this fright.

There were strips of cotton wrapped about his naked arms. Oh, my Laurence, was there no one to hear your last agony and save you? There I shall end my misery and despair. "You were there, were you?" he said. A sly smile was always playing about his thin lips, beneath which there was no beard. "I know Doctor Gendron's process," said he, "but I don't see who could be capable of the suspicions of which you speak." "I think there are more than suspicions," resumed M. Silence was there a despotic law. "Ah, there's monsieur, at last." No, it was not monsieur, but a little boy, whom M. There was some mystery at the bottom of it--so thought Mme. Hurry up, and wring three chickens' heads; see if there ain't some ripe grapes in the conservatory; bring on some preserves; fetch some wine from the cellar!" The dinner was well advanced when the bell rung again.

There is, indeed, but one means; to appropriate somebody else's money, shrewdly enough not to be found out. 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. There is a woman, before whom I am but an idiot. There are none, nowadays. There is, however, one fact of the utmost importance, that I by myself cannot explain." "What?" asked M. Lecoq, "there's the drama complete. The assassin, it is true, threw everything into disorder, broke the furniture, hacked the chairs in order to make us think that some furious villains had been there.

The table and bureau-drawers had been thrown here and there, but the narrow spaces between the drawers had been examined--I saw proofs of it, for I found the imprints of fingers on the dust which lay in these spaces. My conviction of the certainty that there had been a most desperate search, at first roused my suspicions. I said to myself, 'The villains have been looking for the money which was concealed; therefore they did not belong to the household.'" "But," observed the doctor, "they might belong to the house, and yet not know the money was hidden; for Guespin--" "Permit me," interrupted M. When these have been carefully gathered, you classify them, and put them in their order and date. "There is someone in the garden," said he. They explain to us in the first place, how it was that on the very night of the murder, there was a large fortune in ready money at Valfeuillu; and this seems to me decisive. He wants everybody to know and repeat that there is a large sum in the house, easy to take, carry off, and conceal. But believe me, there was no chance about it, and I will prove it. "So far, then, there is no objection." "Not the least," said M.

She did not struggle; therefore she could not have torn a piece of cloth off the assassin's vest. But there are other suppositions. He breaks his own bureau, since he may find something concealed there of which he is ignorant. The count, having opened the door, returns for the body and carries it in his arms as far as the edge of the lawn; there he stops carrying it, and drags it by the shoulders, walking backward, trying thus to create the impression that his own body has been dragged across there and thrown into the Seine. He wished it to appear that there had been a terrible struggle. Is there so far a circumstance or detail of the crime, which does not explain the count's guilt?" "There's the hatchet," answered M. There is one point in this mysterious affair, which, thanks to you, is now clear. The count, therefore, must do everything in the world, must attempt the impossible, not to leave this danger behind him. Now, there's not a second to lose--he has already delayed too long.

If I am right, Guespin has not been mixed up with this crime, at least directly; for there isn't a single circumstance which suggests outside aid. Again, the blue cravat with white stripes which the count wore on the 8th, had also disappeared." "There," cried M. Then there was a moment when the lookers-on could not make out which was the detective. "Ah, wretch!" And almost immediately a loud shout rent the air, and the detective's mocking tones were heard: "There he is! The voice was certainly Lecoq's; there was his costume, his big-knotted cravat, his yellow-haired watch-chain--still it was no longer Lecoq. But there are days when one is tired of being on his guard, and would like to be able to turn a street corner without looking for a dagger.

"I wanted a palpable proof for Monsieur Domini; we'll give him this rascal, and if he isn't satisfied, he's difficult to please." "But what shall we do with him?" "Shut him up somewhere in the house; if necessary, I'll tie him up." "Here's a dark closet." "Is it secure?" "There are thick walls on three sides of it, and the fourth is closed with a double door; no openings, no windows, nothing." "Just the place." M. "There," said M. I suspected this crime the first thing this morning, and have seen it all the way through; and the man that we have just shut up in there--Robelot--who wanted to murder Monsieur Plantat, was either the agent or the accomplice of this crime." The doctor had not been present at the various episodes which, during the day at Valfeuillu and in the evening at the mayor's, had established a tacit understanding between Plantat and Lecoq. Perhaps there was something there which might dim the positiveness of his resolution. He looked with pride upon this conflagration; there were bills, love letters, business letters, bonds, patents of nobility, deeds of property. How well off we should be there! There was a holiday air about the town. A train had just gone, and there would not be another one for two hours. He was much annoyed at this, and as he could not wait there two hours, he wended his way, to kill time, toward the Jardin des Plantes.

He had not been there for ten or twelve years--not since, when at school, his teachers had brought him there to look at the animals. There were the groves and parterres, the lawns and lanes, the beasts and birds, as before. There are two kinds of courage. Had he not heard there were clerks who hardly got that in a year? "Durand." "Where are your papers?" "What papers?" "A passport, a receipt for lodgings, a license to hunt--" "I haven't any." "Go for them, or bring two well-known witnesses." "But--" "There is no 'but.' The next--" Hector was provoked by the clerk's abrupt manner. He remembered a pretty spot in Viroflay forest, where he had once fought a duel; he would commit the deed there. He could be seen from there, as well as from the bridge; but he did not mind this, nor anything else. I went there." "What did they say?" "That nobody knew what had become of you, and that you declared to Jenny when you left her the night before that you were going to blow your brains out.

There was one alone, among all his friends, who loved him enough not to see the ludicrousness of his position; one alone generous enough not to torture him with raillery; it was Sauvresy. There were always the same monotonous pleasures, always recurring each in its season. There were parties and receptions, horse rides, hunts, drives--and it was always thus! Perhaps there was yet more than this in Bertha's aversion.

And there were days when she wept when she thought that she was married. There were times when she longed to fly, to seek adventure and pleasure, all that she yearned for, what she had not had and never would have. Settle forty thousand francs on her if you will, not a sou more; otherwise there shall be no marriage." As Sauvresy insisted, the old man added: "I hope that she will be a good and worthy wife; if so, your fortune will be hers. If, at the bottom of her heart, she thought herself the most wretched of women, there was nothing of it apparent--it was a well-kept secret. "And there is nothing more to fear?" "Nothing! I had to swear with terrible oaths that she should see you to-morrow, before she would let me go; not at Paris, as you said you would never go there, but at Corbeil." "Ah, as for that--" "She will be at the station to-morrow at twelve.

There is not a diamond on which a spot cannot be found with a microscope. He would not fail--were it only for politeness--to go in there; and then, she thought, by seeing him nearer, talking with him, knowing him better, his influence over her would vanish. They were all there, staring and gazing. At first, the visitors to Valfeuillu were somewhat astonished at the constant presence there of a young man of leisure; but they got accustomed to him. He was not tempted to return to Paris; what could he do there? She put on the simplest of her toilets, in black, threw a thick veil over her head, and hastened to the Corbeil station at the hour that she thought the unknown girl would present herself there. He seems to live for me--it's Tremorel here and Tremorel there!

There, looking intently at him, as if her gaze could frighten the truth out of him, she said, slowly: "It is really true, is it, that you are going to leave me to get married?" Hector disengaged one of his hands, and placed it on his heart. Sauvresy and he had discussed the subject, and if the matter was not as ripe as he had represented, there was at least some prospect of such an event. There is, too, a mode in which you can regain your lost position." "A mode? "Now, there's what it is to have eyes, and not see. What do you suppose he does there?" Bertha, by great effort, succeeded in dissembling her grief; she reappeared with a smiling face.

There are times when a falsehood is the highest homage. Courtois would give his daughter a million, and at his death there would be a great deal more. "Your humble servant, "JENNY F---." There was also a postscript. "Please, sir, don't say a word of this to the Count de Tremorel." "Ah ha," thought Sauvresy, "there's some trouble about Hector, that's bad for the marriage." "I was told, sir," said the beggar, "there would be an answer." "Say that I will come," answered Sauvresy, throwing him a franc piece. And now there is neither a Miss Jenny, nor riches, but there is a Pelagie, who proposes to get her fifty sous a day, without much trouble." "No," said Sauvresy, "you will not need--" "What? There are persecutions against which the law is powerless. "Because," she added, struck with an idea, "I haven't got it here." "Where is it?" "At my room, in Paris." "Come, then, let us go there." She saw that she was caught; and she could find no more excuses, quick-witted as she was. Sauvresy tottered with a horrible sensation of dizziness; he could not see clearly; there was a red cloud before his eyes; his legs gave way under him, he staggered, and his hands stretched out for a support. There are misfortunes so great that to be believed there must be more than evidence. There is no medium--'tis the husband, or the lover.

the edifice of his happiness, which had seemed to him strong enough to defy every tempest of life, had crumbled, and he stood there lost in the midst of its debris.

She thinks I'm asleep; I shall get back and abed before she returns." Then, without asking himself whether he were not too feeble, or what danger there might be in exposing himself to the cold, he got up, threw a gown around him, put on his slippers and went toward the door. Here and there on the vestibule pavement were little puddles. It was not there an hour ago, I could swear. She told him there were plenty of excuses to relieve him from his promise; for instance, he might urge that it would not be seemly for him to go when his friend lay dangerously ill. One evening Hector appeared, carrying in his button-hole a flower which Laurence herself had put there, and which he had forgotten to take out. Ordinarily, there are three modes in which a betrayed husband may avenge himself.

There is a law which does not absolve, but excuses him, in this. There was only one thing that could balk his progress--Jenny's letter. In the evening, when they were gathered about the drawing-room table, he was the gayest of the three.

But no one could, or at least would, satisfy her curiosity; all gave evasive replies, as if Sauvresy had cautioned them, or as if there were nothing to tell. I've told you, there are three millions; I must have this fortune--not for myself, but for you; I want it, I must have it! And that she was so, there was no doubt, Sauvresy indeed knew all. There's nothing to fear from that quarter. Three doctors have been in consultation there for the past hour, and I haven't been able to hear a word of what they said.

The suspicion, however, if there had ever been any, quickly vanished. "Is there no hope then? There are times when the armor of hypocrisy becomes so burdensome that one is forced, cost what it may, to throw it off if only for an instant. There was a moment of stupor, of silence so profound that Hector heard his temples beat. And then she dared to approach the bed, and, with a frightfully constrained smile, to say: "How you frightened me then!" He looked at her a moment, which seemed to her an age--and simply replied: "I understand it." There was no longer any uncertainty. There was nothing I would not do for a smile from you, so that you would say to me, Thank you, between two kisses. See which is the--man--I, extended on this bed where I shall soon die, or he shivering there in a corner. "There wasn't any poison in it, was there?" he asked. "There only remains one more act to play," said he. They wept and groaned to see him lying there so pale and haggard, with the stamp of death already on his forehead.

He rose up in bed, his eye staring, his arm stretched out toward the window, and he cried: "There--behind the curtain--I see them--I see them!" A last convulsion stretched him again on his pillow. "There is one thing," said he, "that I can't explain. "The whole case lies there," said he. There is nothing surprising in Tremorel's casting aside his name and personality to reappear under another guise; he killed his wife because he was constrained to do so by the logic of events. There was an account to settle between him and them; hence the ardor of his pursuit. "What can they be up to in there?" said she to Louis. Plantat, on the contrary, seemed tolerably well satisfied, as if the death of Robelot furthered projects which he was secretly nourishing, and fulfilled his secret hopes.

"There is nothing more to be done," said M. He found deeds of the Morin property and of the Frapesle and Peyron lands; there were also two bonds, for one hundred and fifty and eight hundred and twenty francs, signed by two Orcival citizens in Robelot's favor. How much is there in all?" Plantat rapidly added up the different sums, and said: "About fourteen thousand five hundred francs." "Madame Sauvresy gave him more than that," said the detective, positively. But where?" "Ah, let me look." He began to rummage about, peering into everything in the room, moving the furniture, sounding the floor with his heels, and rapping on the wall here and there. "And yet there are cinders here in the fireplace." "People sometimes neglect to clean them out in the spring." "True; but are not these very clean and distinct? I don't find any of the light dust and soot on them which ought to be there after they have lain several months." He went into the second room whither he had sent the men after they had completed their task, and said: "I wish one of you would get me a pickaxe." All the men rushed out; M. "There is no cement between these stones, and they are movable; the treasure must be here." When the pickaxe was brought, he gave a single blow with it; the stones gaped apart, and betrayed a wide and deep hole between them. Lecoq found that there were nineteen thousand five hundred francs. There was nothing more to learn at his house. "We haven't even been in bed." "There is news, then?

Has the count's body been found?" "There is much news, Monsieur," said M.

Lecoq then rapidly detailed the facts gathered by himself and M. I gave this portrait to the agent with instructions to go to the Vulcan's Forges and ascertain if Guespin had been seen there, and whether he bought anything there night before last." M. Had they seen the prisoner there?" "Yes; on the evening of Wednesday, July 8th." "At what hour?" "About ten o'clock, a few minutes before they shut up; so that he was remarked, and the more distinctly observed." The judge moved his lips as if to make an objection, but was stopped by a gesture from M. "Well, did they tell you what Guespin went there to obtain?" "The clerks recollected it perfectly. Therefore it was not--he who did the deed." The detective, as he came to this conclusion, pulled out the inevitable box and helped himself to a lozenge, at the same time bestowing upon the judge a smile which said: "Get out of that, if you can." The judge's whole theory tumbled to pieces if M.

"There is no need of that here. He ought to present the facts, there and at once, and produce one of those proofs which can be touched with the finger. There are, besides, exceptions in favor of the members of the police force. Domini reflected whether there were any precedents to apply to the case. He told me all about the trouble she gave him, and added that he would not be able to get rid of her without shutting her up, which he could not bring himself to do." "How long ago was their last interview?" "Why," answered the doctor, "not three weeks ago, when I had a consultation at Melun, I saw the count and this demoiselle at a hotel window; when he saw me he suddenly drew back." "Then," said the detective, "there is no longer any doubt--" He stopped. No--Rue Montmartre." "A thousand thanks; I shall be there." When they had reached the Belle Image they separated. It would have looked like a prison door had not its sombreness been lightened by a heavily colored engraving of a cock crowing, with the legend "Always Vigilant." Had the detective put his coat of arms up there? There were costumes belonging to all grades of society; and on some wooden pegs above, wigs of all colors were hanging; while boots and shoes of various styles were ranged on the floor.

He changed a five-hundred-franc note there last Wednesday evening at a quarter before ten." "That is to say, he is saved?" "Well, you may say so. She is on my black ball there--we shall have her, accidents excepted, before night." "You really think so?" "I should say I was sure, to anybody but you. When she has lost all her friends there are still her creditors, who follow and watch her, awaiting the day when fortune will smile on her once more. "Now just look at my black ball there. I must have him, and I will!" "I don't doubt it; but when?" "Ah, there it is! do you know that man?' There are two cities, however, where a man may pass unnoticed--Marseilles and Lyons; but both of these are distant, and to reach them a long journey must be risked--and nothing is so dangerous as the railway since the telegraph was established. We will put all the large towns, including Lyons and Marseilles, out of the question." "In short, it's impossible to hide in the provinces." "Excuse me--there is one means; that is, simply to buy a modest little place at a distance from towns and railways, and to go and reside on it under a false name. He had plenty of time before him, and so arranged to hire apartments in some convenient house." "He came to Paris three or four times some weeks ago." "Then there's no longer any doubt about it.

Therefore, he simply went to an upholsterer." "Some fashionable upholsterer--" "No, he would have risked being recognized.

"There is nothing in it to conceal." "All right; but come into the other room.

If my paper retains its color, there is no poison; if it changes, the poison is there. If there is any way in the world, you will find it and save me--" "But, my--" "Pardon--hear me, and you will comprehend me. There I saw Laurence; she was just fifteen, and never lived there a creature who united in herself so much intelligence, grace, innocence, and beauty. I felt terrible agonies which it is impossible to describe; it was like a long-smothered fire which suddenly breaks forth and devours everything. I said to myself, when I saw three women of such different characters smitten with him, 'what is there in him to be so loved?'" "Yes," answered M. There is no excuse for his infamies and crimes.

I don't care whether he lives or dies, whether he succeeds in flying or ends his life some morning in the Place Roquette." "Then why have you such a horror of a trial?" "Because--" "Are you a friend to his family, and anxious to preserve the great name which he has covered with mud and devoted to infamy?" "No, but I am anxious for Laurence, my friend; the thought of her never leaves me." "But she is not his accomplice; she is totally ignorant--there's no doubt of it--that he has killed his wife." "Yes," resumed M.

You might touch the magistrates' hearts; but there are fifty journalists who, since this crime, have been cutting their pens and getting their paper ready.

Oh, there's nothing wanting, neither unworthy passion, nor poison, nor vengeance, nor murder. Then there will be the photographers besieging her, and if she refuses to sit, portraits of some hussy of the street will be sold as hers. There are professions, I know, in which manhood and integrity seem to count for nothing. When it would be so easy for me to divulge what I know of those who have been obliged to trust me, or things which I have surprised, there is perhaps a merit in holding my tongue. You ask me to protect him from the law--" "In the name of an innocent creature whom you will thereby save." "Once in my life I sacrificed my duty.

We ought, above all, to count upon the firmness of Mademoiselle Courtois; can we, think you?" "She is firmness itself." "Then there's hope. "See here," said he, "what I've written to one of my lieutenants." "MONSIEUR JOB--"Get together six or eight of our men at once and take them to the wine merchant's at the corner of the Rue des Martyrs and the Rue Lamartine; await my orders there." "Why there and not here?" "Because we must avoid needless excursions. It is therefore scarcely possible that it was posted anywhere else than at the nearest branch office." These suppositions were so simple that M. They'll find a numerous company there." As he gave his orders, he took off his gown, assumed a long black coat, and carefully adjusted his wig. She, therefore, welcomed the detective and his companion--whom she took for one of his colleagues--somewhat as the supernumerary of a theatre would greet his manager if the latter chanced to pay him a visit in his humble lodgings. Charman's emissary opened the door; there was a loud rustling of silks along the corridor; and Jenny appeared in all her glory.

A single year had withered her, as a too hot summer does the roses, and had destroyed her fragile beauty beyond recall. "What an idea!" she cried, without taking the trouble to bow to anyone; "what sense is there in sending for me to come here in this way, almost by force, and by a very impudent young woman?" Mme. Instead of bursting into tears, she therefore laughed aloud. By two o'clock the fellow was so far gone that he fell like a lump on a bench near the Arc de Triomphe, where he went to sleep; and there I left him." "Well, where did you go?" "Home." "What has become of the package?" "Oh, I intended to throw it into the Seine, as Hector wished, but I forgot it; you see, I had drunk almost as much as the gardener--so I carried it back home with me, and it is in my room now." "Have you opened it?" "Well--what do you think?" "What did it contain?" "A hammer, two other tools and a large knife." Guespin's innocence was now evident, and the detective's foresight was realized. He almost ran down the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, so that Plantat had great difficulty in keeping up with him; and as he went along he pursued his train of reflection, half aloud, so that his companion caught here and there a snatch of it. "Aren't there six or eight men waiting for somebody here?" he asked. Ten men in various guises were drinking there and playing cards. The porter--there is a porter--opened the door, and with my most vexed air I told him how, in pulling out my handkerchief, I had dropped a twenty-franc piece in the drain, and begged him to lend me something to try to get it out.

The porter was not dumb, and so he gave me a good deal of information about his master and mistress, though he has only been there two days. The lady is dreadfully melancholy, and cries all the time." "We know it; the plan--" "Below, there is a large and high paved arch for the carriages to pass through; on the other side is a good-sized courtyard, at the end of which are the stable and carriage-house. Take your dinner there, for you will have time--but soberly, you understand." He took two napoleons out of his pocket and placed them on the table, adding: "That's for the dinner." M. When you get there ring, enter alone and give the porter this letter, saying that it is of the utmost importance. He will take a carriage, and you will follow him with yours, getting up on the hackman's seat and keeping a lookout from there.

Plantat and the detective, left alone, began to walk up and down the gallery; both were grave and silent, as men are at a decisive moment; there is no chatting about a gaming-table. "No, but I am fifty-five years old, Monsieur Lecoq, and at that age there are emotions which kill one. There are forty minutes left us." M.

When your master, who has gone out, comes in again, beware that you don't tell him that we are upstairs; a single word would get you into terribly hot water--" "I am blind," he answered, "and deaf." "How many servants are there in the house?" "Three; but they have all gone out." The detective then took M. Whatever thereafter he does or attempts he will roll down the faster, until he reaches the very bottom of the gulf. Was it really she who was there in a strange house, dead to everyone, leaving behind a withered memory, reduced to live under a false name, without family or friends henceforth, or anyone in the world to help her feebleness, at the mercy of a fugitive like herself, who was free to break to-morrow the bonds of caprice which to-day bound him to her? Was that really his Laurence there before him? There are misfortunes for which death is the only refuge." M. Tremorel was returning and there was not a moment to be lost.

"There's Hector!" cried Laurence, "quick, quick! "What shall I do?" cried he, "what shall I do?" Laurence drew him to her, and muttered in a shuddering voice: "Save the name of Tremorel; there are pistols here." He recoiled, as if he had seen death itself. A detective is in there, and it was he who left that warrant to arrest you on the table." He saw that he was lost beyond hope. "It was not I who poisoned Sauvresy--it was she--there are proofs of it; perhaps, with a good advocate--" M.

"Miserable coward!" she cried, pointing her pistol at him, "shoot, or else--" He hesitated; there was another rustle at the door; she fired. Remember, when you are rich, that there are poor innocent girls forced to lead a life of miserable shame for a morsel of bread. "There," said he to himself, "lies a wretch whom I have killed instead of arresting and delivering him up to justice. Plantat's pretty estate at Orcival, "with furniture, stable, carriage-house, garden, and other dependencies and appurtenances thereunto belonging," and some neighboring acres of pleasant fields. /

While all of his desires were repressed, imprisoned in his low estate, like an athlete in a strait-jacket, seeing around him all these rich people with whom money assumed the place of the wand in the fairy-tale, he envied their lot.While all of his desires were repressed, imprisoned in his low estate, like an athlete in a strait-jacket, seeing around him all these rich people with whom money assumed the place of the wand in the fairy-tale, he envied their lot. He had on a strait-jacket, and was struggling violently against three men, who were striving to hold him, while a physician tried to force him to swallow a potion. /

And he was muttering some words of consolation, when Madame d’Argeles suddenly looked up and said: “I must see him--I will see him once more!Study became my refuge and consolation; and I plunged into work with the energy of despair. By way of consolation, he assured himself that he would not merely regain the sum, but triple it; and yet this encouragement did not entirely restore his peace of mind. And he was muttering some words of consolation, when Madame d’Argeles suddenly looked up and said: “I must see him--I will see him once more! they shall pay for this!” It ought to have been some consolation to him to see that he was not alone in his misery, for in front of the restaurant stood a dozen cabs with sleepy drivers, who were waiting for chance to send them one of those half-intoxicated passengers who refuse to pay more than fifteen sous for their fare, but give their Jehu a gratuity of a louis.

I will not attempt to offer you consolation, God alone can assuage certain sorrows. The thought of her future and her honor lent her strength to submit to the deceitful consolations of a woman whom she knew to be a dangerous enemy.

/

"You shall answer for this."No, no, no," she answered with much asperity. "Probably." The answer was given with great hesitation. 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 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. 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 shall answer for this. 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. 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. 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. Say where I may answer and where I can join you." CHAPTER VIII.

"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. Do you know who she is or was, anyway?" "Of course I do," he answered bold as brass. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone. Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer. 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. "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. The maid must have been making some remarks displeasing to my lady, who was answering her with much asperity. The answer I despatched at once to Goeschenen was worded as follows: "Declares she is going to Montreux only. 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.

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

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. 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. 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. 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 answered him sternly: "What was Falfani saying to you just now? "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture! 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. Who, then, is the other?" "An abominable vaurien," I answered with great heat. 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? "The prisoner has left the court without a stain upon his character," the Colonel shouted in answer to their noisy inquiries.

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. "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 shall give me my answer when I return. "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.

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. Blair," I was answered abruptly that she was gone. 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. 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.

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. 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. /

But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix."I beg your pardon," she began almost at once in English, when the waiter had brought her a plate of soup, and she was toying with the first spoonful, speaking in a low constrained, almost sullen voice, as though it cost her much to break through the convenances in thus addressing a stranger. I insist upon your speaking plainly. There are others concerned; I am not speaking for myself alone.

But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. "The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously.

But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix. "You are fully entitled to know where you are going, and I have not the smallest desire to keep it from you," I replied, still speaking in a smooth, courteous voice. "But, Lady Claire, permit me," it was Lord Blackadder behind, speaking with quite insinuating softness. /

“That is very unfortunate for you,” he answered coldly.The unfortunate girl had certainly moved, very faintly and feebly; but still she had stirred. Unfortunately, she was the victim of one of those intrigues which are formed and carried out within the narrow circle of a family,--intrigues of the most abominable character, which people suspect, and often even know perfectly well, and which yet remain unpunished, because they cannot be reached by the law. Unfortunately one obstacle had risen between them from the beginning,--Pauline’s poverty. “Unfortunately I have to pay for it at home,” he said to his intimate friends; “for my wife is one of those timid women who cannot understand that men are made for the excitement of public life. The countess might think and say of it what she chooses, I am master.” After that time Daniel became, unfortunately, a constant visitor at the house in Varennes Street. If you refuse, he will go on, nevertheless, and not mind your objections.” “Oh!” “I am, unfortunately, but too sure of that. Or rather, knowing Daniel as he did,--far better, unfortunately, than he was known by him,--was he trying to irritate him more and more against this formidable adversary? The cashier, an unfortunate man by the name of Malgat, replied that every thing was ready; but, the moment the president had turned his back, he took a sheet of paper, and wrote something like this:-- “‘Forgive me, I have been an honest man forty years long; now a fatal passion has made me mad. He continued pensively,-- “Is it not very improbable that Miss Brandon should not have been afraid to exasperate the unfortunate man, and to drive him to desperate measures?

I will follow her.” Unfortunately, Miss Brandon’s coachman had, no doubt, received special orders; for he drove down the avenue as fast as the horse could go, and the animal was a famous trotter, carefully chosen by Sir Thorn, who understood horse-flesh better than any one else in Paris. Is it possible?” “Most assuredly, unfortunately. “I have no idea, I assure you, of being gentle; and, if that can induce you to change your mind”-- “Unfortunately, I cannot alter my decision.” The old sailor rose violently, and walked up and down the room several times, giving vent to his anger in oaths of various kinds; then he returned to Daniel, and said in his driest tone,-- “If that is so, the case is serious; I must report it to the secretary of the navy. Unfortunate as I am, they have taken me, bound me, fettered me. de Brevan who wrote thus,-- “Madam,--Like all Paris, I also have heard of your proud and noble protest on the day of your father’s unfortunate marriage.

Unfortunately the rest of the phrase was lost in an indistinct murmur. 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. 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. 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. “The measure of my sufferings is full indeed!” Unfortunately it was not yet full. 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. Are you really not aware that I love you?” She could understand any thing but this, the unfortunate girl; any thing but such infamy, such an incredible insult!

She had vowed to herself, the unfortunate girl, that she would economize her little hoard like the blood in her veins. 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. They lay in wait for her by turns; and she no sooner ventured upon the staircase than the shouts began; so that the unfortunate girl no longer dared leave the house. Unfortunately, it was far from being finished. “It will last me a month,” she thought, determined to live on dry bread only; “and who can tell what a month may bring forth?” And this unfortunate girl had an inheritance from her mother of more than a million! How can I ever repay what you are doing for me?” Then overcoming her emotion, and turning to Papa Ravinet, she added,-- “But pray, who are you, sir,--you who thus come to succor, a poor young girl who is an utter stranger to you, doubling the value of your assistance by your great delicacy?” The old lady replied in his place,--“My brother, madam, is an unfortunate man, who has paid for a moment’s forgetfulness of duty, with his happiness, his prospects, and his very life. When, at the end of a fortnight, Champcey returned to duty, they ceased talking of the accident; unfortunately, such things happen but too frequently on board ship. The unfortunate man was soon roused, however, by a terrible sensation.

Unfortunately the emigrants had, a fortnight after the landing, scattered abroad, going according as they were wanted, to the different establishments in the colony, which were far apart from each other. what an unfortunate man I am!” The doctor had stepped back.

“That is very unfortunate for you,” he answered coldly. Unfortunately, Daniel’s condition was one of those which defy all professional skill, and where all hope depends upon time, nature, and constitution. 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. This man, who but just now had not been able to raise himself on his pillows; this unfortunate sufferer, who looked more like a skeleton than a human being; this wounded man, who had scarcely his breath left him,--threw back his blankets, and rushed to the middle of the room, crying, with a terrible voice,-- “My clothes, Lefloch, my clothes!” The doctor had hastened forward to support him; but he pushed him aside with one arm, continuing,-- “By the holy name of God, Lefloch, make haste! 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. “That unfortunate, wayward girl,” she wrote, “has just caused her aged father such cruel and unexpected grief, that he was on the brink of the grave. It is infamous to ill use a man who has been unfortunate, and to rob him.” The magistrate, no doubt quite accustomed to such scenes, did not even listen to Crochard, but carefully opened the packet. “Ah, sir!” exclaimed Crochard, his hand upon his heart, “when I heard Chevassat talk that way, my heart turned within me, and I said, ‘Unfortunate man, what do you mean?

“Unfortunately, it was no dream; and I soon found that out, when a waiter came up and brought me a letter. Unfortunately, he arrived forty- eight hours afterwards, and we sailed at once.” The marvellous coolness of the wretch showed clearly under his affected trouble; and, while it confounded Daniel and the old surgeon, it filled the faithful Lefloch with growing indignation. “Her mother was one of those unfortunate women of whom Paris devours every year several thousands; who come from the provinces in wooden shoes, and are seen, six months later, dressed in all the fashion; and who live a short, gay life, which invariably ends in the hospital. She felt, for instance, what she had never suspected before, that her unfortunate mother, with all her friends and companions, were only the rare exceptions, laid under the ban by the immense majority. The friends of the unfortunate young man were sure she did not. Unfortunately the forged checks and drafts in his drawer destroyed the force of this plea. Unfortunately, he was too late. What do you want now?’ “Surely, such a reception ought to have disabused the unfortunate man. “Unfortunately, such victims would not show themselves. Unfortunately, he could not refuse to go without risking the peace of his Henrietta, her confidence, and her whole happiness; so he went as bravely as he could.

But, unfortunately, you, also, are ruined. Still he had the strength to say,-- “But unfortunately you are not a widow.” She drew close up to him, and said in a strident voice,-- “Not a widow? /

To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere.To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere. As I drew blank everywhere I proceeded to try the hotels on the left bank, and made for the Pont de Mont Blanc to cross the Rhone, pointing for the Metropole.

Everywhere I was met with wearisome delays. He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property.

/

Hurry!' Reaching Palais Royal Place, M.Hurry!' Reaching Palais Royal Place, M. /

What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there?We made exhaustive inquiries at the Cornavin station, where we arrived from Lausanne, and heard something. At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. I begin to like the place, and I have found very comfortable quarters at the Hôtel Cornavin, near the station. "I also propose to stay some days, but am not yet established." I made so bold as to suggest that I had a great mind to try her Hôtel Cornavin. Do try the Cornavin. What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there? 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. I designed only to try the Hôtel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable. There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel. I secured a room at the Cornavin Hôtel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once. Come instantly, Hôtel Cornavin.

Blair might have given us the slip, might have left by some other issue, and I felt that my place was at the Cornavin, where at least I knew she was staying.

Blair had not returned when the table d'hôte bell rang at the Cornavin, but I had hardly swallowed the first spoonful of soup when Falloon appeared, hot and flurried, with very startling news. "Already her carriage enters the station--without doubt she seeks the train for somewhere." I jumped up, rushed from the room, caught up my hat, and hurried across the Square of Place Cornavin into the station. This I folded carefully and addressed to him, entrusting it to Falloon, who was to seek out my colleague at the Hôtel Cornavin after the arrival of the late train from Brieg, and deliver it. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed. It proved to be the Cornavin Hôtel, not a stone's-throw from the station. /

Who married her to a wretch who is a disgrace to the title he bears, and who has completed the work of demoralization you began?I Vengeance! 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! The torment he endures under such circumstances can only be alleviated by the prospect of inflicting them a hundredfold upon his persecutors. And nothing seems impossible at the first moment, when hatred surges in the brain, and the foam of anger rises to the lips; no obstacle seems insurmountable, or, rather, none are perceived. But later, when the faculties have regained their equilibrium, one can measure the distance which separates the dream from reality, the project from execution. And on setting to work, how many discouragements arise! The fever of revolt passes by, and the victim wavers. He still breathes bitter vengeance, but he does not act. He despairs, and asks himself what would be the good of it?

And in this way the success of villainy is once more assured.

Similar despondency attacked Pascal Ferailleur when he awoke for the first time in the abode where he had hidden himself under the name of Maumejan. A frightful slander had crushed him to the earth--he could kill his slanderer, but afterward--? How was he to reach and stifle the slander itself? As well try to hold a handful of water; as well try to stay with extended arms the progress of the poisonous breeze which wafts an epidemic on its wings.

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. What would be the use of victory even if he conquered? Marguerite lost to him--what did the rest matter? Ah!

if he had been alone in the world. But he had his mother to think of;--he belonged to this brave-hearted woman, who had saved him from suicide already. “I will not yield, then; I will struggle on for her sake,” he muttered, like a man who foresees the futility of his efforts. He rose, and had nearly finished dressing, when he heard a rap at his chamber door. “It is I, my son,” said Madame Ferailleur outside. Pascal hastened to admit her. “I have come for you because the woman you spoke about last evening is already here, and before employing her, I want your advice.” “Then the woman doesn’t please you, mother?” “I want you to see her.” On entering the little parlor with his mother, Pascal found himself in the presence of a portly, pale-faced woman, with thin lips and restless eyes, who bowed obsequiously. It was indeed Madame Vantrasson, the landlady of the model lodging-house, who was seeking employment for the three or four hours which were at her disposal in the morning, she said. 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. Tenants were not numerous at the model lodging-house, in spite of its seductive title; and those who slept there occasionally, almost invariably succeeded in stealing something.

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. So, having no credit at the butcher’s or the baker’s, Madame Vantrasson was sometimes reduced to living for days together upon the contents of the shop--mouldy figs or dry raisins--which she washed down with torrents of ratafia, her only consolation here below. 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. “What would you charge per month?” inquired Pascal. 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. The first question of French cooks, on presenting themselves for a situation, is almost invariably, “Shall I do the marketing?” which of course means, “Shall I have any opportunities for stealing?” Everybody knows this, and nobody is astonished at it.

“I shall do the marketing myself,” declared Madame Ferailleur, boldly. “Then I shall want thirty francs a month,” replied Madame Vantrasson, promptly. Pascal and his mother exchanged glances. They were both unfavorably impressed by this woman, and were equally determined to rid themselves of her, which it was easy enough to do.

“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. She could only hope to obtain employment from strangers and newcomers, who were ignorant of the reputation of the model lodging-house. So in view of softening the hearts of Pascal and his mother, she began to relate the history of her life, skilfully mingling the false with the true, and representing herself as an unfortunate victim of circumstances, and the inhuman cruelty of relatives. For she belonged, like her husband, to a very respectable family, as the Maumejans might easily ascertain by inquiry. Vantrasson’s sister was the wife of a man named Greloux, who had once been a bookbinder in the Rue Saint-Denis, but who had now retired from business with a competency. “Why had this Greloux refused to save them from bankruptcy? Because one could never hope for a favor from relatives,” she groaned; “they are jealous if you succeed; and if you are unfortunate, they cast you off.” However, these doleful complaints, far from rendering Madame Vantrasson interesting, imparted a deceitful and most disagreeable expression to her countenance. “I told you that I could only give fifteen francs,” interrupted Madame Ferailleur--“take it or leave it.” Madame Vantrasson protested.

She expressed her willingness to deduct five francs from the sum she had named, but more--it was impossible! Would they haggle over ten francs to secure such a treasure as herself, an honest, settled woman, who was entirely devoted to her employers? “Besides, I have been a grand cook in my time,” she added, “and I have not lost all my skill. 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. If he were still alive I shouldn’t be compelled to go out to service again. But he’s dead and he’s to be buried this very day.” And with an air of profound secrecy, she added: “On going yesterday to the Hotel de Chalusse to ask for a little help, I heard of the great misfortune. Vantrasson, my husband, accompanied me, and while we were talking with the concierge, a young woman passed through the hall, and he recognized her as a person who some time ago was--well--no better than she should be. Now, however, she’s a young lady as lofty as the clouds, and the deceased count has been passing her off as his daughter. Ah!

this is a strange world.” Pascal had become whiter than the ceiling. His eyes blazed; and Madame Ferailleur trembled. “Very well,” she said, “I will give you twenty-five francs--but on condition you come without complaining if I sometimes require your services of an evening. On these occasions I will give you your dinner.” And taking five francs from her pocket she placed them in Madame Vantrasson’s hand, adding: “Here is your earnest money.” The other quickly pocketed the coin, not a little surprised by this sudden decision which she had scarcely hoped for, and which she by no means understood.

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! You express your intention of accomplishing a task which requires inexhaustible patience and dissimulation, and at the very first unforeseen circumstance your coolness deserts you, and you lose your head completely. If it had not been for me you would have betrayed yourself in that woman’s presence. You must renounce your revenge, and tamely submit to be conquered by the Marquis de Valorsay if your face is to be an open book in which any one may read your secret plans and thoughts.” Pascal shook his head dejectedly. “Didn’t you hear, mother?” he faltered. “Hear what?” “What that vile woman said? This young lady whom she spoke of, whom her husband recognized, can be none other than Marguerite.” “I am sure of it.” He recoiled in horror. “You are sure of it!” he repeated; “and you can tell me this unmoved--coldly, as if it were a natural, a possible thing.

Didn’t you understand the shameful meaning of her insinuations? Didn’t you see her hypocritical smile and the malice gleaming in her eyes?” He pressed his hands to his burning brow, and groaned “And I did not crush the infamous wretch!

I did not fell her to the ground!” Ah! if she had obeyed the impulse of her heart. Madame Ferailleur would have thrown her arms round her son’s neck, and have mingled her tears with his, but reason prevailed.

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. She would probably have told us many things.” “I interrupted her, it is true, and sent her away--and you know why.

But she is in our service now; and when you are calm, when you have regained your senses, nothing will prevent you from questioning her. It may be useful for you to know who this man Vantrasson is, and how and where he met Mademoiselle Marguerite.” Shame, sorrow, and rage, brought tears to Pascal’s eyes. “My God!” he exclaimed, “to be reduced to the unspeakable misery of hearing my mother doubt Marguerite!” He did not doubt her.

HE could have listened to the most infamous accusations against her without feeling a single doubt. However, Madame Ferailleur had sufficient self-control to shrug her shoulders. “Ah, well! silence this slander,” she exclaimed. “I wish for nothing better; but don’t forget that we have ourselves to rehabilitate. To crush your enemies will be far more profitable to Mademoiselle Marguerite than vain threats and weak lamentations.

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. I thank you for having recalled me to myself.” She made no rejoinder, but mentally thanked God. She had read her son’s heart, and perceiving his hesitation and weakness she had supplied the stimulus he needed.

Now she saw him as she wished to see him. Now he was ready to reproach himself for his lack of courage and his weakness in displaying his feelings. And as a test of his powers of endurance, he decided not to question Madame Vantrasson till four or five days had elapsed. If her suspicions had been aroused, this delay would suffice to dispel them.

He said but little during breakfast; for he was now eager to commence the struggle. He longed to act, and yet he scarcely knew how to begin the campaign. First of all, he must study the enemy’s position--gain some knowledge of the men he had to deal with, find out exactly who the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth were. Where could he obtain information respecting these two men? Should he be compelled to follow them and to gather up here and there such scraps of intelligence as came in his way? This method of proceeding would be slow and inconvenient in the extreme. 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.

“I am going to Baron Trigault’s,” he remarked to his mother; “if my presentiments don’t deceive me, he will be of service to us.” In less than half an hour he was on his way.

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 visiting cards which he carried in his pocket bore the inscription: “P. Maumejan, Business Agent, Route de la Revolte.” His knowledge of Parisian life had induced him to choose the same profession as M.

Fortunat followed--a profession which opens almost every door.

“I will enter the nearest cafe and ask for a directory,” he said to himself. “I shall certainly find Baron Trigault’s address in it.” The baron lived in the Rue de la Ville-l’Eveque. His mansion was one of the largest and most magnificent in the opulent district of the Madeleine, and its aspect was perfectly in keeping with its owner’s character as an expert financier, and a shrewd manufacturer, the possessor of valuable mines. 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. Five or six footmen were lounging about the courtyard when he entered it. He walked straight up to one of them, and with his hat in his hand, asked: “Baron Trigault, if you please?” If he had asked for the Grand Turk the valet would not have looked at him with greater astonishment. 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. “This is certainly his house,” he replied, “and strange to say, by some fortunate chance, he’s here.” “I wish to speak with him on business.” The servant called one of his colleagues. 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. The sumptuous interior of the Trigault mansion was on a par with its external magnificence.

Even the entrance bespoke the lavish millionaire, eager to conquer difficulties, jealous of achieving the impossible, and never haggling when his fancies were concerned. The spacious hall, paved with costly mosaics, had been transformed into a conservatory full of flowers, which were renewed every morning. Rare plants climbed the walls up gilded trellis work, or hung from the ceiling in vases of rare old china, while from among the depths of verdure peered forth exquisite statues, the work of sculptors of renown.

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.

“Tell me,” inquired the servant who was escorting Pascal, “can any one speak to the baron?” “Why?” “This gentleman has something to say to him.” The two valets eyed the unknown visitor, plainly considering him to be one of those persons who have no existence for the menials of fashionable establishments, and finally burst into a hearty laugh. “Upon my word!” exclaimed the eldest, “he’s just in time. Announce him, and madame will be greatly obliged to you. She and monsieur have been quarrelling for a good half-hour. And, heavenly powers, isn’t he tantalizing!” The most intense curiosity gleamed in the eyes of Pascal’s conductor, and with an airy of secrecy, he asked: “What is the cause of the rumpus? That Fernand, no doubt--or some one else?” “No; this morning it’s about M. Van Klopen.” “Madame’s dressmaker?” “The same.

Monsieur and madame were breakfasting together--a most unusual thing--when M.

Van Klopen made his appearance. I thought to myself, when I admitted him: ‘Look out for storms!’ I scented one in the air, and in fact the dressmaker hadn’t been in the room five minutes before we heard the baron’s voice rising higher and higher.

I said to myself: ‘Whew! the mantua-maker is presenting his bill!’ Madame cried and went on like mad; but, pshaw! when the master really begins, there’s no one like him. There isn’t a cab-driver in Paris who’s his equal for swearing.” “And M. Van Klopen?” “Oh, he’s used to such scenes! When gentlemen abuse him he does the same as dogs do when they come up out of the water; he just shakes his head and troubles himself no more about it. He has decidedly the best of the row. He has furnished the goods, and he’ll have to be paid sooner or later----” “What! hasn’t he been paid then?” “I don’t know; he’s still here.” A terrible crash of breaking china interrupted this edifying conversation. “There!” exclaimed one of the footmen, “that’s monsieur; he has smashed two or three hundred francs’ worth of dishes.

He MUST be rich to pay such a price for his angry fits.” “Well,” observed the other, “if I were in monsieur’s place I should be angry too. Would you let your wife have her dresses fitted on by a man? I says that it’s indecent.

I’m only a servant, but----” “Nonsense, it’s the fashion. Besides, monsieur does not care about that. A man who----” He stopped short; in fact, the others had motioned him to be silent. The baron was surrounded by exceptional servants, and the presence of a stranger acted as a restraint upon them. For this reason, one of them, after asking Pascal for his card, opened a door and ushered him into a small room, saying: “I will go and inform the baron. Please wait here.” “Here,” as he called it, was a sort of smoking-room hung with cashmere of fantastic design and gorgeous hues, and encircled by a low, cushioned divan, covered with the same material. A profusion of rare and costly objects was to be seen on all sides, armor, statuary, pictures, and richly ornamented weapons. But Pascal, already amazed by the conversation of the servants, did not think of examining these objects of virtu. Through a partially open doorway, directly opposite the one he had entered by, came the sound of loud voices in excited conversation.

Baron Trigault, the baroness, and the famous Van Klopen were evidently in the adjoining room.

It was a woman, the baroness, who was speaking, and the quivering of her clear and somewhat shrill voice betrayed a violent irritation, which was only restrained with the greatest difficulty. “It is hard for the wife of one of the richest men in Paris to see a bill for absolute necessities disputed in this style,” she was saying. A man’s voice, with a strong Teutonic accent, the voice of Van Klopen, the Hollander, caught up the refrain. “Yes, strict necessities, one can swear to that. And if, before flying into a passion, Monsieur le Baron had taken the trouble to glance over my little bill, he would have seen----” “No more! You bore me to death.

Besides I haven’t time to listen to your nonsense; they are waiting for me to play a game of whist at the club.” This time it was the master of the house, Baron Trigault, who spoke, and Pascal recognized his voice instantly. “If monsieur would only allow me to read the items. It will take but a moment,” rejoined Van Klopen. 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.

But the illustrious adorner of female loveliness had already resumed his reading.

“In July we have: two morning-jackets, one promenade costume, one sailor suit, one Watteau shepherdess costume, one ordinary bathing-suit, with material for parasol and shoes to match, one Pompadour bathing-suit, one dressing-gown, one close-fitting Medicis mantle, two opera cloaks----” “And I was certainly not the most elegantly attired of the ladies at Trouville, where I spent the month of July,” interrupted the baroness.

“There are but few entries in the month of August,” continued Van Klopen. “We have: a morning-dress, a travelling-dress, with trimmings----” And he went on and on, gasping for breath, rattling off the ridiculous names which he gave to his “creations,” and interrupted every now and then by the blow of a clinched fist on the table, or by a savage oath. Pascal stood in the smoking-room, motionless with astonishment. He did not know what surprised him the most, Van Klopen’s impudence in daring to read such a bill, the foolishness of the woman who had ordered all these things, or the patience of the husband who was undoubtedly going to pay for them. 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!

Total, twenty-seven thousand francs!” “Excuse me! Twenty-seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-three francs, ninety centimes.” “Call it twenty-eight thousand francs then. Ah, well, M. 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. What amazed him most was the baron’s perfect calmness, following, as it did, such a fit of furious passion, violent enough even to be heard in the vestibule. “Either he has extraordinary control over himself or this scene conceals some mystery,” thought Pascal. Meanwhile, the man-milliner continued to urge his claims--but the baron, instead of replying, only whistled; and wounded by this breach of good manners, Van Klopen at last exclaimed: “I have had dealings with all the distinguished men in Europe, and never before did one of them refuse to pay me for his wife’s toilettes.” “Very well--I don’t pay for them--there’s the difference. 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? Gather up your papers, Mr.

Ladies’ Tailor.

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. What did I tell you last year when I paid a bill of forty thousand francs? That I would not be responsible for any more of my wife’s debts. And I not only said it, I formally notified you through my private secretary.” “I remember, indeed----” “Then why do you come to me with your bill? It is with my wife that you have opened an account. Apply to her, and leave me in peace.” “Madame promised me----” “Teach her to keep her promises.” “It costs a great deal to retain one’s position as a leader of fashion; and many of the most distinguished ladies are obliged to run into debt,” urged Van Klopen. “That’s their business.

But my wife is not a fine lady. She is simply Madame Trigault, a baroness, thanks to her husband’s gold and the condescension of a worthy German prince, who was in want of money.

SHE is not a person of consequence--she has no rank to keep up.” The baroness must have attached immense importance to the satisfying of Van Klopen’s demands, for concealing the anger this humiliating scene undoubtedly caused her, she condescended to try and explain, and even to entreat. “I have been a little extravagant, perhaps,” she said; “but I will be more prudent in future. 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. Such must also have been the opinion of the illustrious ruler of fashion, for he returned to the charge with an argument he had held in reserve.

“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.

Nothing would please me better. It would at last give me an opportunity to say what I think about your dealings. Do you think that wives are to turn their husbands into machines for supplying money? You draw the bow-string too tightly, my dear fellow--it will break. I’ll proclaim on the house-top what others dare not say, and we’ll see if I don’t succeed in organizing a little crusade against you.” And animated by the sound of his own words, his anger came back to him, and in a louder and ever louder voice he continued: “Ah!

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. You threaten me with a law-suit; very good. I’ll take it upon myself to enlighten Paris, for I know your secrets, Mr. Dressmaker. I know the goings on in your establishment. It isn’t always to talk about dress that ladies stop at your place on returning from the Bois. You sell silks and satins no doubt; but you sell Madeira, and excellent cigarettes as well, and there are some who don’t walk very straight on leaving your establishment, but smell suspiciously of tobacco and absinthe. Oh, yes, let us go to law, by all means! I shall have an advocate who will know how to explain the parts your customers pay, and who will reveal how, with your assistance, they obtain money from other sources than their husband’s cash-box.” When M.

Van Klopen was addressed in this style, he was not at all pleased. “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! “Leave--leave, or I will ring----” “Monsieur----” “Leave, leave, I tell you, or I sha’n’t have the patience to wait for a servant!” He must have joined action to word, and have seized Van Klopen by the collar to thrust him into the hall, for Pascal heard a sound of scuffling, a series of oaths worthy of a coal-heaver, two or three frightened cries from the baroness, and several guttural exclamations in German.

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. If Pascal had not heard this scene, he would have deemed it incredible. 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. For what was this amount to a confirmed gambler who, without as much as a frown, gained or lost a fortune every evening of his life. Evidently there was some skeleton in this household--one of those terrible secrets which make a man and his wife enemies, and all the more bitter enemies as they are bound together by a chain which it is impossible to break. And undoubtedly, a good many of the insults which the baron had heaped upon Van Klopen must have been intended for the baroness. These thoughts darted through Pascal’s mind with the rapidity of lightning, and showed him the horrible position in which he was placed.

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? What had become of the footman who had taken his card? These were questions which he was unable to answer. And what was he to do? If he could have retired noiselessly, if he could have reached the courtyard and have made his escape without being observed he would not have hesitated. But was this plan practicable?

And would not his card betray him? Would it not be discovered sooner or later that he had been in the smoking-room while M. Van Klopen was in the dining-room? In any case, delicacy of feeling as well as his own interest forbade him to remain any longer a listener to the private conversation of the baron and his wife.

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. And yet the silence was profound; he could distinctly hear the creaking of the baron’s boots, as he paced to and fro, and the sound of fingers nervously beating a tattoo on the table. 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. He was about to do so, when some one opened a door which must have led from the hall into the dining-room. He listened attentively, but only heard a few confused words, to which the baron replied: “Very well. That’s sufficient. I will see him in a moment.” Pascal breathed freely once more. “They have just given him my card,” he thought. “I can remain now; he will come here in a moment.” The baron must really have started to leave the room, for his wife exclaimed: “One word more: have you quite decided?” “Oh, fully!” “You are resolved to leave me exposed to the persecutions of my dressmaker?” “Van Klopen is too charming and polite to cause you the least worry.” “You will brave the disgrace of a law-suit?” “Nonsense!

You know very well that he won’t bring any action against me--unfortunately. And, besides, pray tell me where the disgrace would be? I have a foolish wife--is that my fault? I oppose her absurd extravagance--haven’t I a right to do so? 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. Only your ideas don’t coincide with mine. 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! whom do you call noble ladies, pray? The brainless fools who only think of displaying themselves and making themselves notorious?--the senseless idiots who pique themselves on surpassing lewd women in audacity, extravagance, and effrontery, who fleece their husbands as cleverly as courtesans fleece their lovers?

Noble ladies! who drink, and smoke, and carouse, who attend masked balls, and talk slang! Noble ladies! the idiots who long for the applause of the crowd, and consider notoriety to be desirable and flattering. A woman is only noble by her virtues--and the chief of all virtues, modesty, is entirely wanting in your illustrious friends----” “Monsieur,” interrupted the baroness, in a voice husky with anger, “you forget yourself--you----” But the baron was well under way.

“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. Can’t I learn from the newspapers all your sayings and gestures, your amusements, your occupations, and the toilettes you wear? 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. I should be a very strange husband indeed, if I wasn’t proud and delighted. Ah! you are a treasure to the reporters. On the day before yesterday the Baroness Trigault skated in the Bois. Yesterday she was driving in her pony-carriage.

To-day she distinguished herself by her skill at pigeon-shooting.

To-morrow she will display herself half nude in some tableaux vivants. On the day after to-morrow she will inaugurate a new style of hair-dressing, and take part in a comedy. It is always the Baroness Trigault who is the observed of all observers at Vincennes. The Baroness Trigault has lost five hundred louis in betting. The Baroness Trigault uses her lorgnette with charming impertinence.

It is she who has declared it proper form to take a ‘drop’ on returning from the Bois. No one is so famed for ‘form,’ as the baroness--and silk merchants have bestowed her name upon a color. People rave of the Trigault blue--what glory! There are also costumes Trigault, for the witty, elegant baroness has a host of admirers who follow her everywhere, and loudly sing her praises. This is what I, a plain, honest man, read every day in the newspapers.

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.

I had the satisfaction of reading this particular last evening. It is charming, upon my word! and I am truly a fortunate man!” In the smoking-room, Pascal could hear the baroness angrily stamp her foot, as she exclaimed: “It is an outrageous insult--your journalists are most impertinent.” “Why? 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. “Would you like me to fight a duel then? After twenty years has the idea of ridding yourself of me occurred to you again? I can scarcely believe it.

You know too well that you would receive none of my money, that I have guarded against that. Besides, you would be inconsolable if the newspapers ceased talking about you for a single day. Respect yourself, and you will be respected. The publicity you complain of is the last anchor which prevents society from drifting one knows not where.

Those who would not listen to the warning voice of honor and conscience are restrained by the fear of a little paragraph which might disclose their shame. 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. “Ah!

well, monsieur,” she exclaimed, “I declare to you that I must have Van Klopen’s twenty-eight thousand francs before this evening. I will have them, too; I am resolved to have them, and you will give them to me.” “Oh!” thundered the baron, “you WILL have them--you will----” He paused, and then, after a moment’s reflection, he said: “Very well. I will give you this amount, but not just now. 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.

Say, will you do this?” And, as the baroness made no reply, he continued: “You don’t answer! shall I tell you why? It is because your diamonds were long since sold and replaced by imitation ones; it is because you are head over heels in debt; it is because you have stooped so low as to borrow your maid’s savings; it is because you already owe three thousand francs to one of my coachmen; it is because our steward lends you money at the rate of thirty or forty per cent.” “It is false!” The baron sneered. “You certainly must think me a much greater fool than I really am!” he replied. “I’m not often at home, it’s true--the sight of you exasperates me; but I know what’s going on.

You believe me your dupe, but you are altogether mistaken. It is not twenty-seven thousand francs you owe Van Klopen, but fifty or sixty thousand. However, he is careful not to demand payment. If he brought me a bill this morning, it was only because you had begged him to do so, and because it had been agreed he should give you the money back if I paid him. In short, if you require twenty-eight thousand francs before to-night, it is because M. 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. He no longer thought of flying; he no longer thought of reproaching himself for his enforced indiscretion. He had lost all consciousness of his position. The name of the Viscount de Coralth, thus mentioned in the course of this frightful scene, came as a revelation to him.

He now understood the meaning of the baron’s conduct. His visit to the Rue d’Ulm, and his promises of help were all explained. “My mother was right,” he thought; “the baron hates that miserable viscount mortally. He will do all in his power to assist me.” Meanwhile, the baroness energetically denied her husband’s charges. She swore that she did not know what he meant. What had M. de Coralth to do with all this? She commanded her husband to speak more plainly--to explain his odious insinuations.

He allowed her to speak for a moment, and then suddenly, in a harsh, sarcastic voice, he interrupted her by saying: “Oh! What matters one crime more? 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. It is a long time since I was blind--full twenty years! Nothing concerning you has escaped my knowledge and observation since the cursed day when I discovered the depths of your disgrace and infamy--since the terrible evening when I heard you plan to murder me in cold blood.

You had grown accustomed to freedom of action; while I, who had gone off with the first gold-seekers, was braving a thousand dangers in California, so as to win wealth and luxury for you more quickly. Fool that I was! No task seemed too hard or too distasteful when I thought of you--and I was always thinking of you. My mind was at peace--I had perfect faith in you. 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! With what joyous pride, on my return after an absence of eighteen months, I showed you the treasures I had brought back with me! I had two hundred thousand francs! I said to you as I embraced you: ‘It is yours, my well-beloved, the source of all my happiness!’ But you did not care for me--I wearied you!

You loved another! And while you were deceiving me with your caresses, you were, with fiendish skill, preparing a conspiracy which, if it had succeeded, would have resulted in my death! 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. For this was not all! You had not even the excuse, if excuse it be, of a powerful, all-absorbing passion.

Convinced of your treachery, I resolved to ascertain everything, and I discovered that in my absence you had become a mother. How did I have the courage to remain silent and conceal what I knew? Ah!

it was because, by watching you, I hoped to discover the cursed bastard and your accomplice. It was because I dreamed of a vengeance as terrible as the offence. 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! You had already forgotten her! When you received news of my intended return, she was sent to some foundling asylum, or left to die upon some door-step. Have you ever thought of her? Have you ever asked what has become of her? ever asked yourself if she had needed bread while you have been living in almost regal luxury? ever asked yourself into what depths of vice she may have fallen?” “Always the same ridiculous accusation!” exclaimed the baroness.

“Yes, always!” “You must know, however, that this story of a child is only a vile slander. I told you so when you spoke of it to me a dozen years afterward. 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. I trembled lest the scandal of a separation should fall upon her. But it was useless suffering on my part. She was as surely lost as you yourself were; and it was your work, too!” “What!

you blame me for that?” “Whom ought I to blame, then? Who took her to balls, and theatres and races--to every place where a young girl ought NOT to be taken? Who initiated her into what you call high life? and who used her as a discreet and easy chaperon? Who married her to a wretch who is a disgrace to the title he bears, and who has completed the work of demoralization you began? And what is your daughter to-day? Her extravagance has made her notorious even among the shameless women who pretend to be leaders of society. She is scarcely twenty-two, and there is not a single prejudice left for her to brave! Her husband is the companion of actresses and courtesans; her own companions are no better--and in less than two years the million of francs which I bestowed on her as a dowry has been squandered, recklessly squandered--for there isn’t a penny of it left. And, at this very hour, my daughter and my son-in-law are plotting to extort money from me.

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. I was horrified and gave him what he asked.

But that same evening I learned that the husband and wife, my daughter and my son-in-law, had concocted this vile conspiracy together. Yes, I have positive proofs of it. Leaving here, and not wishing to return home that day, he telegraphed the good news to his wife. But in his delight he made a mistake in the address, and the telegram was brought here. I opened it, and read: ‘Papa has fallen into the trap, my darling. 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 wondered if he were not the victim of some absurd nightmare--if his senses were not playing him false. He had little conception of the terrible dramas which are constantly enacted in these superb mansions, so admired and envied by the passing crowd. He thought that the baroness would be crushed--that she would fall on her knees before her husband. What a mistake!

The tone of her voice told him that, instead of yielding, she was only bent on retaliation.

“Does your son-in-law do anything worse than you?” she exclaimed. “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. But when I play, I sometimes forget--for I must forget. I tried drink, but it wouldn’t drown thought, so I had recourse to cards; and when the stakes are large, and my fortune is imperilled, I sometimes lose consciousness of my misery!” The baroness gave vent to a cold, sneering laugh, and, in a tone of mocking commiseration, she said: “Poor baron! 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. She’s rather pretty.

I have seen her several times in the Bois----” “Be silent!” exclaimed the baron, “be silent! 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! or I sha’n’t be responsible for my acts!” Pascal heard a chair move, the floor creak, and a moment afterward a lady passed quickly through the smoking-room. How was it that she did not perceive him? No doubt, because she was greatly agitated, in spite of her bravado. And, besides, he was standing a little back in the shade. But he saw her, and his brain reeled. what a likeness!” he murmured. It was as if he had seen an apparition, and he was vainly striving to drive away a terrible, mysterious fear, when a heavy footfall made the floor of the dining-room creak anew.

“It is the baron!” he thought; “he is coming this way! If he finds me here I am lost; he will never consent to help me. A man would never forgive another man for hearing what I have just heard.” Why should he not try to make his escape? The card, bearing the name of Maumejan, would be no proof of his visit.

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. These thoughts flashed through his mind, and he was about to fly, when a harsh cry held him spell-bound. Baron Trigault was standing on the threshold. His emotion, as is almost always the case with corpulent people, was evinced by a frightful distortion of his features. His face was transformed, his lips had become perfectly white, and his eyes seemed to be starting from their sockets.

“How came you here?” he asked, in a husky voice. “Your servants ushered me into this room.” “Who are you?” “What! monsieur, don’t you recognize me?” rejoined Pascal, who in his agitation forgot that the baron had seen him only twice before. He forgot the absence of his beard, his almost ragged clothing, and all the precautions he had taken to render recognition impossible. “I have never met any person named Maumejan,” said the baron. “Ah!

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. Should Pascal tell a falsehood, or confess the truth? He hesitated, but his hesitation lasted scarcely the tenth part of a second. “I have been here about half an hour,” he replied. The baron’s livid cheeks suddenly became purple, his eyes glittered, and it seemed by his threatening gesture as if he were strongly tempted to murder this man, who had discovered the terrible, disgraceful secrets of his domestic life. But it was a mere flash of energy.

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. “So the knowledge of my disgrace is no longer confined to myself!” he exclaimed. “A stranger’s eye has penetrated the depths of misery I have fallen into!

The secret of my wretchedness and shame is mine no longer!” “Oh, monsieur, monsieur!” interrupted Pascal. “Before I recross the threshold of your home, all shall have been forgotten. 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. You will not laugh at my misfortunes or my misery!” He must have been suffering frightfully, for big tears rolled slowly down his cheeks.

“What have I done, my God!

that I should be so cruelly punished?” he continued.

“I have always been generous and charitable, and ready to help all who applied to me. I am utterly alone! I have a wife and a daughter--but they hate me. They long for my death, which would give them possession of my wealth. What torture! For months together I dared not eat a morsel of food, either in my own house, or in the house of my son-in-law.

I feared poison; and I never partook of a dish until I had seen my daughter or my wife do so. To prevent a crime, I was obliged to resort to the strangest expedients. I made a will, and left my property in such a way that if I die, my family will not receive one penny. So, they now have an interest in prolonging my life.” As he spoke he sprang up with an almost frenzied air, and, seizing Pascal by the arm, again continued. “Nor is this all! This woman--my wife--you know--you have heard the extent of her shame and degradation.

Ah, well! I--love her!” Pascal recoiled with an exclamation of mingled horror and consternation. “This amazes you, eh?” rejoined the baron. It is to gratify her desire for luxury that I have toiled to amass millions. If I purchased a title, which is absurd and ridiculous, it was only because I wished to satisfy her vanity.

Do what she may, I can only see in her the chaste and beautiful wife of our early married life. It is cowardly, absurd, ridiculous--I realize it; but my love is stronger than my reason or my will. I love her madly, passionately; I cannot tear her from my heart!” So speaking, he sank sobbing on to the divan again. Was this, indeed, the frivolous and jovial Baron Trigault whom Pascal had seen at Madame d’Argeles’s house--the man of self-satisfied mien and superb assurance, the good-natured cynic, the frequenter of gambling-dens? Alas, yes! But the baron whom the world knew was only a comedian; this was the real man. After a little while he succeeded in controlling his emotion, and in a comparatively calm voice he exclaimed: “But it is useless to distract one’s mind with an incurable evil.

Let us speak of yourself, M. Ferailleur. 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. But before striking him, I wish to reach the man whose instrument he was.” “What! you suppose----” “I don’t suppose--I am sure that M. de Coralth acted in obedience to the instructions of some other scoundrel whose courage does not equal his meanness.” “Perhaps so! I think he would shrink from nothing in the way of rascality. But who could have employed him in this vile work of dishonoring an honest man?” “The Marquis de Valorsay.” On hearing this name, the baron bounded to his feet.

“Impossible!” he exclaimed; “absolutely impossible! de Valorsay is incapable of the villainy you ascribe to him. What do I say?--he is even above suspicion. I have known him for years, and I have never met a more loyal, more honorable, or more courageous man. He is one of my few trusted friends; we see each other almost every day. I am expecting a visit from him even now.” “Still it was he who incited M. de Coralth to do the deed.” “But why? What could have been his object?” “To win a young girl whom I love. She--loved me, and he saw that I was an obstacle. He put me out of the way more surely than if he had murdered me.

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. With his fortune and his name, he is in a position to choose his wife from among all the heiresses of France. Why should he address his attentions in particular to the woman you love? Ah! if he were poor--if his fortune were impaired--if he felt the need of regilding his escutcheon, like my son-in-law----” He paused; there was a rap at the door. The baron called out: “Come in,” and a valet appeared, and informed his master that the Marquis de Valorsay wished to speak with him.

It was the enemy! Pascal’s features were distorted with rage; but he did not stir--he did not utter a word. “Ask the marquis into the next room,” said the baron.

“I will join him there at once.” Then as the servant retired, the baron turned to Pascal and said: “Well, M. Ferailleur, do you divine my intentions?” “I think so, monsieur. You probably intend me to hear the conversation you are going to have with M. de Valorsay.” “Exactly. I shall leave the door open, and you can listen.” This word, “listen,” was uttered without bitterness, or even reproach; and yet Pascal could not help blushing and hanging his head. “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.

Any one is liable to be mistaken, and I am not obstinate.” He was about to leave the room, when Pascal detained him. “I scarcely know how to testify my gratitude even now, monsieur, and yet--if I dared--if I did not fear to abuse your kindness, I should ask one more favor.” “Speak, Monsieur Ferailleur.” “It is this, I do not know the Marquis de Valorsay; and if, instead of leaving the door wide open, you would partially close it, I should hear as distinctly, and I could also see him.” “Agreed,” replied the baron. And, opening the door, he passed into the dining-room, with his right hand cordially extended, and saying, in his most genial tones: “Excuse me, my dear friend, for keeping you waiting. I received your letter this morning, and I was expecting you, but some unexpected business required my attention just now. Are you quite well?” As the baron entered the room, the marquis had stepped quickly forward to meet him.

Either he was inspired with fresh hope, or else he had wonderful powers of self-control, for never had he looked more calm--never had his face evinced haughtier indifference, more complete satisfaction with himself, and greater contempt for others. 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. If he experienced any secret anxiety, it only showed itself in a slightly increased stiffness of his right leg--the limb broken in hunting. “I ought rather to inquire concerning your own health,” he remarked. “You seem greatly disturbed; your cravat is untied.” And, pointing to the broken china scattered about the floor, he added: “On seeing this, I asked myself if an accident had not happened.” “The baroness was taken suddenly ill at the breakfast table. Her fainting fit startled me a little. But it was a mere trifle. She has quite recovered already, and you may rely upon her applauding your victory at Vincennes to-day.

She has I don’t know how many hundred louis staked upon your horses.” The marquis’s countenance assumed an expression of cordial regret. “I am very sorry, upon my word!” he exclaimed. “But I sha’n’t take part in the races at Vincennes. I have withdrawn my horses. And, in future, I shall have nothing to do with racing.” “Nonsense!” “It is the truth, however. I have been led to this determination by the infamous slander which has been circulated respecting me.” This answer was a mere trifle, but it somewhat shook Baron Trigault’s confidence. “You have been slandered!” he muttered.

“Abominably. Last Sunday the best horse in my stables, Domingo, came in third. He was the favorite in the ring. You can understand the rest. I have been accused of manoeuvering to have my own horse beaten. People have declared that it was my interest he should be beaten, and that I had an understanding with my jockey to that effect. This is an every-day occurrence, I know very well; but, as regards myself, it is none the less an infamous lie!” “Who has dared to circulate such a report?” “Oh, how can I tell? 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. de Valorsay observed it, though he did not understand the cause.

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.

“And so,” he quickly continued, “don’t be surprised if, during the coming week, you see the sale of my horses announced.” “What! you are going to sell----” “All my horses--yes, baron. I have nineteen; and it will be very strange if I don’t get eight or ten thousand louis for the lot. Domingo alone is worth more than forty thousand francs.” To talk of selling--of realizing something you possess--rings ominously in people’s ears. The person who talks of selling proclaims his need of money--and often his approaching ruin. “It will save you at least a hundred and fifty or sixty thousand francs a year,” observed the baron. “Double it and you won’t come up to the mark.

Ah! my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable. It’s worse than gambling; and women, in comparison, are a real economy. Ninette costs me less than Domingo, with his jockey, his trainer, and his grooms. 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?

The baron was engaged in a rapid calculation.

“What does Valorsay spend a year?” he was saying to himself. “Let us say two hundred and fifty thousand francs for his stable; forty thousand francs for Ninette Simplon; eighty thousand for his household expenses, and at least thirty thousand for personal matters, travelling, and play. All this amounts to something like four hundred and thirty thousand francs a year. Does his income equal that sum? Certainly not. Then he must have been living on the principal--he is ruined.” Meanwhile the marquis gayly continued: “You see, I’m going to make a change in my mode of life. Ah! But one must make an end of it, sooner or later. 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.

What, haven’t you heard of it, yet? It has been talked of at the club for three days or more.” “No, this is the first intimation I have received of it. 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. And so you are to be married,” the baron continued, after a slight pause.

“Ah, well!

I know one person who won’t be pleased.” “Who, pray?” “Ninette Simplon.” M. de Valorsay laughed heartily. “As if that would make any difference to me!” he exclaimed. And then in a most confidential manner he resumed: “She will soon be consoled. Ninette Simplon is a shrewd girl--a girl whom I have always suspected of having an account book in place of a heart.

I know she has at least three hundred thousand francs safely invested; her furniture and diamonds are worth as much more. 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. My future wife has no dowry save her black eyes--but they are certainly superb ones.” This assertion seemed to disprove Pascal’s statements.

“Can it really be you who are talking in this strain?” cried the baron. “You, a practical, worldly man, give way to such a burst of sentiment?” “Well, yes.” The baron opened his eyes in astonishment. “Ah! 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.

Still it doesn’t matter; I have never been coward enough to hide my feelings. I’m in love, my dear baron, as madly in love as a young collegian--sufficiently in love to watch my lady’s house at night even when I have no possible hope of seeing her. I thought myself blase, I boasted of being invulnerable. Well, one fine morning I woke up with the heart of a youth of twenty beating in my breast--a heart which trembled at the slightest glance from the girl I love, and sent purple flushes to my face. Naturally I tried to reason with myself. I was ashamed of my weakness; but the more clearly I showed myself my folly, the more obstinate my heart became. And perhaps my folly is not such a great one after all. Such perfect beauty united with such modesty, grace, and nobility of soul, such passion, candor and talent, cannot be met twice in a lifetime. I intend to leave Paris.

We shall first of all go to Italy, my wife and I. After a while we shall return and install ourselves at Valorsay, like two turtle-doves. Upon my word, my imagination paints a charming picture of the calm and happy life we shall lead there! I must have been born under a lucky star!” Had he been less engrossed in his narrative, he would have heard the sound of a stifled oath in the adjoining room; and had he been less absorbed in the part he was playing, he would have observed a cloud on his companion’s brow. The baron was a keen observer, and he had detected a false ring in this apparently vehement outburst of passion. “I understand it now, my dear marquis,” said he; “you have met the descendant of some illustrious but impoverished family.” “You are wrong. My future bride has no other name than her Christian name of Marguerite.” “It is a regular romance then!” “You are quite right; it is a romance. Were you acquainted with the Count de Chalusse, who died a few days ago?” “No; but I have often heard him spoken of.” “Well, it is his daughter whom I am about to marry--his illegitimate daughter.” The baron started. “Excuse me,” said he; “M.

de Chalusse was immensely rich, and he was a bachelor.

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 died very suddenly; he had no time to make a will or to acknowledge his daughter.” “But why had he not taken some precautions?” “A formal recognition of his daughter was attended by too many difficulties, and even dangers. Mademoiselle Marguerite had been abandoned by her mother when only five or six months old; it is only a few years since M. 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.

“How very strange,” he exclaimed, in default of something better to say. “How very strange!” “Isn’t it?

It is as good as a novel.” “Would it be--indiscreet----” “To inquire? Certainly not.

The count told me the whole story, without entering into particulars--you understand. When he was quite young, M. de Chalusse became enamoured of a charming young lady, whose husband had gone to tempt fortune in America. Being an honest woman, she resisted the count’s advances for awhile--a very little while; but in less than a year after her husband’s departure, she gave birth to a pretty little daughter, Mademoiselle Marguerite. But then why had the husband gone to America?” “Yes,” faltered the baron; “why--why, indeed?” “Everything was progressing finely, when M. 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. He had been absent some four months or so, when one morning the post brought him a letter from his pretty mistress, who wrote: ‘We are lost! My husband is at Marseilles: he will be here to-morrow.

Never attempt to see me again. Fear everything from him. Farewell.’ On receiving this letter, M. de Chalusse flung himself into a postchaise, and returned to Paris. He was determined, absolutely determined, to have his daughter. But he arrived too late. On hearing of her husband’s return, the young wife had lost her head. She had but one thought--to conceal her fault, at any cost; and one night, being completely disguised, she left her child on a doorstep in the vicinity of the central markets----” The marquis suddenly paused in his story to exclaim: “Why, what is the matter with you, my dear baron?

What is the matter? Are you ill? Shall I ring?” The baron was as pale as if the last drop of blood had been drawn from his veins, and there were dark purple circles about his eyes. Still, on being questioned, he managed to answer in a choked voice, but not without a terrible effort: “Nothing! A mere trifle! It will be over in a moment.

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. de Valorsay resumed his narrative. “The husband was incontestably an artless fellow: but he was also, it appears, a man of remarkable energy and determination. 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. He had sworn to kill them both; and he was a man to keep his vow unmoved by a thought of the guillotine.

And if you require a proof of his strength of character, here it is: He said nothing to his wife on the subject, he did not utter a single reproach; he treated her exactly as he had done before his absence. 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. Fortunately, she was very shrewd. 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. What possible connection could there be between opulent Baron Trigault and the poor devil who went to seek his fortune in America? What imaginable connection could there be between the confirmed gambler, who was Kami-Bey’s companion, Lia d’Argeles’s friend, and the husband who for ten long years had pursued the man who, by seducing his wife, had robbed him of all the happiness of life? 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. So he continued his story in his customary light, mocking tone. It is the perfection of good taste and high breeding--“proper form,” indeed, not to be astonished or moved by anything, in fact to sneer at everything, and hold one’s self quite above the emotions which disturb the minds of plebeians.

Thus the marquis continued: “I am necessarily compelled to omit many particulars, my dear baron. 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. de Chalusse’s whole life was haunted by the thought of the husband he had wronged.

He felt a presentiment that he would die by this man’s hand. He saw danger on every side. 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. I should never have believed in this constant terror on the part of a really brave man, if he had not confessed it to me with his own lips.

Ten or twelve years passed before he dared to make the slightest attempt to find his daughter, so much did he fear to arouse his enemy’s attention. It was not until he had discovered that the husband had become discouraged and had discontinued his search, that the count began his. It was a long and arduous one, but at last it succeeded, thanks to the assistance of a clever scoundrel named Fortunat.” The baron with difficulty repressed a movement of eager curiosity, and remarked: “What a peculiar name!” “And his first name is Isidore. Ah! he’s a smooth-tongued scoundrel, a rascal of the most dangerous kind, who richly deserves to be in jail. 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.

de Valorsay, “the poor count was fated to have no peace. The husband had scarcely ceased to torment him, he had scarcely begun to breathe freely, when the wife attacked him in her turn. She must have been one of those vile and despicable women who make a man hate the entire sex. 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. She would not allow M. de Chalusse to keep the child with him, nor would she consent to his adopting the girl. She declared it an act of imprudence, which would surely set her husband upon the track, sooner or later.

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.

“Not so patient as you may suppose. His submission was due to some secret cause which he never confided to me. There must have been some great crime under all this. In any case, the poor count found it impossible to escape this terrible woman. He took refuge at Cannes; but she followed him. He travelled through Italy, for I don’t know how many months under an assumed name, but all in vain. He was at last compelled to conceal his daughter in some provincial convent. During the last few months of his life he obtained peace--that is to say, he bought it. This lady’s husband must either be very poor or exceedingly stingy; and as she was exceedingly fond of luxury, M. de Chalusse effected a compromise by giving her a large sum monthly, and also by paying her dress-maker’s bills.” The baron sprang to his feet with a passionate exclamation.

“The vile wretch!” he said. But he quickly reseated himself, and the exclamation astonished M. 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 had heard a slight movement there; and he trembled with fear lest Pascal, maddened with anger and jealousy, should rush in and throw himself upon the marquis.

Plainly enough, this perilous situation could not last much longer. The baron’s own powers of self-control and dissimulation were almost exhausted, and so postponing until another time the many questions he still wished to ask M. de Valorsay, he made haste to check these confidential disclosures. “Upon my word,” he exclaimed, with a forced laugh, “I was expecting something quite different. This affair begins like a genuine romance, and ends, as everything ends nowadays, in money!” IV. As a millionaire and a gambler, Baron Trigault enjoyed all sorts of privileges. 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.

However, he had special reasons for preserving his temper, so he decided to laugh. “Yes, these stories always end in the same way, baron,” said he. “You haven’t touched a card this morning, and I know your hands are itching. Excuse me for making you waste precious time, as you say; but what you have just heard was only a necessary preface.” “Only a preface?” “Yes; but don’t be discouraged. I have arrived at the object of my visit now.” As Baron Trigault was supposed to enjoy an income of at least eight hundred thousand francs a year, he received in the course of a twelvemonth at least a million applications for money or help, and for this reason he had not an equal for detecting a coming appeal. “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. “So I am about to marry,” M. de Valorsay resumed--“I wish to break off my former life, to turn over a new leaf. 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! as I’m not going to wed an heiress, I fear I shall run a trifle short.

The matter was worrying me a little, when I thought of you. I said to myself: ‘The baron, who always has money at his disposal, will no doubt let me have the use of five thousand louis for a year.’” The baron’s eyes were fixed upon his companion’s face. “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. But the baron had detected it; and he realized his applicant’s urgent need. 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. Plainly enough, he now longed to make his escape, and indeed, after rattling off a few commonplace remarks, he rose to his feet and took his leave, exclaiming: “Till the day after to-morrow, then!” The baron sank into an arm-chair, completely overcome. 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.

The old wounds in his heart opened afresh, and his sufferings were poignant beyond description. All his efforts to save this woman whom he at once loved and hated from the depths of degradation, had proved unavailing. “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? He allowed his wife eight thousand francs a month, almost one hundred thousand francs a year, merely for her dresses and fancies.

Not a quarter-day passed, but what he paid her debts to a large amount, and in spite of all this, she had sunk so low as to extort money from a man who had once loved her. “What can she do with it all?” muttered the baron, overcome with sorrow and indignation. “How can she succeed in spending the income of several millions?” A name, the name of Ferdinand de Coralth, rose to his lips; but he did not pronounce it. He saw Pascal emerging from the smoking-room; and though he had forgotten the young advocate’s very existence, his appearance now restored him to a consciousness of reality. “Ah, well!

Ferailleur?” he said, like a man suddenly aroused from some terrible nightmare. Pascal tried to make some reply, but he was unable to do so--such a flood of incoherent thoughts was seething and foaming in his brain. “Did you hear, M.

de Valorsay?” continued the baron. “Now we know, beyond the possibility of doubt, who Mademoiselle Marguerite’s mother is. What is to be done? What would you do in my place?” “Ah, monsieur! how can I tell?” “Wouldn’t your first thought be of vengeance! But upon whom can I wreak my vengeance? Upon the Count de Chalusse? He is dead. Yes, I might do so; but I lack the courage--Mademoiselle Marguerite remains.” “But she is innocent, monsieur; she has never wronged you.” The baron did not seem to hear this exclamation.

“And to make Mademoiselle Marguerite’s life one long misery,” said he, “I need only favor her marriage with the marquis. Ah, he would make her cruelly expiate the crime of her birth.” “But you won’t do so!” cried Pascal, in a transport, “it would be shameful; I won’t allow it. Never, I swear before high Heaven! never, while I live, shall Valorsay marry Marguerite. He may perhaps vanquish me in the coming struggle; he may lead her to the threshold of the church, but there he will find me--armed--and I will have justice--human justice in default of legal satisfaction. And, afterward, the law may take its course!” The baron looked at him with deep emotion.

“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. The baron poured out two large glasses, which he drained with feverish avidity, and then he began to walk aimlessly about the room. Pascal held his peace. 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. A prisoner awaiting the verdict of the jury could not have suffered more intense anxiety. At last, when a minute, which seemed a century, had elapsed, the baron paused. “Now as before, M. Ferailleur,” he said, roughly, “I’m for you and with you.

Give me your hand--that’s right. Honest people ought to protect and assist one another when scoundrels assail them.

We will reinstate you in public esteem, monsieur. 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! Can you doubt it after your conversation with him?” The baron shook his head. “I’ve no doubt but what Valorsay is ruined financially,” said he. “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. Ah! if I had not been deterred by a fear of losing my revenge!” “I understand; but allow me to conclude.

According to you, Mademoiselle Marguerite possesses several millions. According to him, she hasn’t a penny of her own. His desire to borrow a hundred thousand francs of me proves it; and, besides, he wouldn’t have come this morning to tell me a falsehood, which would be discovered to-morrow. Still, if he is telling the truth, it is impossible to explain the foul conspiracy you have suffered by.” This objection had previously presented itself to Pascal’s mind, and he had found an explanation which seemed to him a plausible one. de Chalusse was not dead,” said he, “when M. de Coralth and M.

de Valorsay decided on this plan of ridding themselves of me. 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. “There must be some iniquitous mystery in this affair, which neither you nor I suspect,” remarked the baron. “That is exactly what my mother told me.” “Ah! that’s Madame Ferailleur’s opinion? Then it is a good one. Come, let us reason a little. 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. We now have a clue to the truth, perhaps. Ah!

so Mademoiselle Marguerite has written to you that M. de Chalusse commanded her to marry the marquis! Then the count must have been fully restored to consciousness before he breathed his last. 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. Can you reconcile these two versions of the affair, M. Ferailleur? Certainly not. Then which version is false? We must ascertain that point. When shall you see Mademoiselle Marguerite again?” “She has requested me NEVER to try to see her again.” “Very well!

You must discover some way of seeing her without anyone’s knowledge. She is undoubtedly watched, so don’t write on any account.” He reflected for a moment, and then added: “We shall, perhaps, become morally certain of Valorsay’s and Coralth’s guilt, but there’s a wide difference between this and the establishment of their guilt by material proofs. Two scoundrels who league to ruin an honest man don’t sign a contract to that effect before a notary. Ah! where shall we find them? We must gain an intimate knowledge of Valorsay’s private life. The best plan would be to find some man devoted to our interests who would watch him, and insinuate himself into his confidence.” Pascal interrupted the baron with an eager gesture.

“Yes!” he exclaimed, “yes; it is necessary that M. de Valorsay should be watched by a man of quick perception--a man clever enough to make himself useful to the marquis, and capable of rendering him an important service in case of need. I will be the man, monsieur, if you will allow me.

The thought occurred to me just now while I was listening to you.

You promised to send some one to Valorsay’s house with money. I entreat you to allow me to take the place of the man you intended to send. The marquis doesn’t know me, and I am sufficiently sure of myself to promise you that I will not betray my identity. I will present myself as your agent; he will give me his confidence. I shall take him money or fair promises, I shall be well received, and I have a plan----” He was interrupted by a rap at the door. The next moment a footman entered, and informed his master that a messenger wished to speak to him on urgent business. “Let him come in,” said the baron. It was Job, Madame Lia d’Argeles’s confidential servant, who entered the room.

He bowed respectfully, and, with an air of profound mystery exclaimed: “I have been looking for the baron everywhere.

I was ordered by madame not to return without him.” “Very well,” said M. Trigault. “I will go with you at once.” V. How was it that a clever man like M. Fortunat made such a blunder as to choose a Sunday, and a racing Sunday too, to call on M. His anxiety might explain the mistake, but it did not justify it. He felt certain, that under any other circumstances he would not have been dismissed so cavalierly. He would at least have been allowed to develop his proposals, and then who knows what might have happened?

But the races had interfered with his plans. 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. These were sacred duties, since Wilkie’s share in a race-horse constituted his only claim to a footing in fashionable society.

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. An astonishing bit of news had imparted unusual excitement to the ring. 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. Large sums had been staked on Domingo’s success. He had been the favorite in the betting ring and the losers were by no means pleased. 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. Still one weighty circumstance pleaded in M. de Valorsay’s favor--his fortune, or, at least, the fortune he was supposed to possess.

“Why should such a rich man stoop to cheat?” asked his defenders. “To put money into one’s pocket in this way is even worse than to cheat at cards! Valorsay is above such contemptible charges. He is a perfect gentleman.” “Perhaps so,” replied the skeptical bystanders. “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! If he had been inclined to cheat, he could have easily diverted suspicion. He would have let Domingo come in second, not third!” “If he were not guilty, and afraid of detection, he wouldn’t pay forfeit to-day nor sell his horses.” “He only retires from the turf because he’s going to marry----” “Nonsense!

That’s no reason whatever.” Like all gamblers, the frequenters of the turf are distrustful and inclined to be quarrelsome. No one is above their suspicions when they lose nor above their wrath when they are duped. And this Domingo affair united all the losers against Valorsay; they formed a little battalion of enemies who were no doubt powerless for the time being, but who were ready to take a startling revenge whenever a good opportunity presented itself. Naturally enough, M. Wilkie sided with the marquis, whom he had heard his friend, M. de Coralth, speak of on several occasions. “Accuse the dear marquis!” he exclaimed. “It’s contemptible, outrageous.

Why, only last evening he said to me, ‘My good friend, Domingo’s defeat cost me two thousand louis!’” M. 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. The latter was a lazy, worthless fellow, who had been dismissed from every stable he had previously served in, and who swindled and robbed the young gentlemen who employed him without either limit or shame.

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. The jockey ascribed the horse’s extreme thinness to a system of rigorous training; and the owners did not question the statement in the least.

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 point of fact, this jockey would have been the happiest mortal in the world if such things as steeple-chases had never existed. 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. It afforded them untold satisfaction to walk to and fro along the course in front of the grand stand, with their jockey in his orange jacket with green sleeves. 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. This conviction gave rise indeed to terrible quarrels, in which each of the three owners was wont to accuse the others of monopolizing the jockey. On this occasion, M. Wilkie--being fortunate enough to arrive the first--immediately repaired to Pompier de Nanterre’s stall.

Never had circumstances been more favorable for a display of the animal’s speed. The day was magnificent; the stands were crowded, and thousands of eager spectators were pushing and jostling one another beyond the ropes which limited the course. Wilkie seemed to be everywhere; he showed himself in a dozen different places at once, always followed by his jockey, whom he ordered about in a loud voice, with many excited gesticulations.

And how great his delight was when, as he passed through the crowd, he heard people exclaim: “That gentleman has a racing stable. His horses are going to compete!” What bliss thrilled his heart when he overheard the admiring exclamation of some worthy shopkeeper who was greatly impressed by the gay silk jacket and the top-boots! But, unfortunately, this happiness could not last forever. His partners arrived, and claimed the jockey in their turn. Wilkie left the course and strolled about among the carriages, until at last he found an equipage which was occupied by the young ladies who had accepted his invitation to supper the evening before, and who were now making a profuse display of the very yellowest hair they possessed. This afforded him another opportunity of attracting public attention, and to giving proofs of his “form,” for he had not filled the box of his carriage with champagne for nothing. At last the decisive moment came, and he made himself conspicuous by shouting.

Bravo, Pompier! One hundred on Pompier!” But, alas! 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. “What a disaster, my friends,” he exclaimed. “Pompier de Nanterre, an incomparable steeplechaser, to break down in such a fashion! And beaten by whom? My Mustapha, an outsider, without any record whatever!

The ring was intensely excited--and I was simply crazed.” However, his defeat did not affect him very deeply. It was forgotten at thought of the inheritance which his friend Coralth had spoken to him about.

And to-morrow M.

de Coralth would tell him the secret. He had only twenty hours longer to wait!

to-morrow!” he said to himself again and again, with a thrill of mingled joy and impatience. And what bright visions of future glory haunted him! 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? The viscount was not merely his model, but his oracle as well. 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.

Such was not the case, however. 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. de Coralth. Having discovered Madame Lia d’Argeles’s secret, the viscount watched Wilkie, ascertained where he spent his evenings, contrived a way of introducing himself into his society, and on their third meeting was skilful enough to render him a service--in other words, to lend him some money. 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.

First of all, there was his title, then his impudent assurance and his apparent wealth, and last, but by no means least, his numerous and fashionable acquaintances. He was not long in discovering his advantage, and in profiting by it. And without giving M. Wilkie an inkling of the truth, he succeeded in obtaining from him as accurate a knowledge of his past career as the young fellow himself possessed. Wilkie did not know much concerning his origin or his early life; and his history, so far as he was acquainted with it, could be told in a few words.

His earliest recollection was of the ocean. 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 French language was certainly not the first he had learned, for he still remembered a limited number of English phrases. 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.

His first sensations were those of hunger, weariness, and cold. He recollected, and very distinctly too, how on one long winter night, a woman had dragged him after her through the streets of Paris, in an icy rain.

He could still see himself as he wandered on, crying with weariness, and begging for something to eat. And then the poor woman who held him by the hand lifted him in her arms and carried him on--on, until her own strength failed, and she was obliged to set him on the ground again. A vague portrait of this woman, who was most probably his mother, still lingered in his memory. According to his description, she was extremely handsome, tall, and very fair. He had been particularly impressed with the pale tint and profusion of her beautiful hair.

Their poverty had not lasted long. He remembered being installed with his mother in a very handsome suite of rooms. A man, who was still young, and whom he called “Monsieur Jacques,” came every day, and brought him sweetmeats and playthings. He thought he must have been about four years old at that time. However, he had enjoyed this comfortable state of things scarcely a month, when one morning a stranger presented himself. The visitor held a long conference with his mother, or, at least, with the person whom he called by that name. He did not understand what they were talking about, but he was none the less very uneasy. The result of the interview must have justified his instinctive fear, for his mother took him on her lap, and embraced him with convulsive tenderness. She sobbed violently, and repeated again and again in a faltering voice: “Poor child! I shall never kiss you again--never, never!

‘Alas! 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. For it was indeed a farewell. The stranger took him in his arms and carried him away, in spite of his cries and struggles to escape. This person to whose care he was confined was the master of a small boarding-school, and his wife was the kindest and most patient of women. However, this did not prevent Wilkie from crying and begging for his mother at first; but gradually he forgot her.

He was not unhappy, for he was petted and indulged more than any of the other pupils, and he spent most of his time playing on the terrace or wandering about the garden. But this charming life could not last for ever. 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. Young Wilkie’s lamentations were long and loud; but they did not prevent M. 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.

As he did not study, and as he was only endowed with a small amount of intelligence, he learned scarcely anything during the years he remained there. Every Sunday and every fete day, M. Patterson made his appearance at ten o’clock precisely, took Wilkie for a walk in Paris or the environs, gave him his breakfast and dinner at some of the best restaurants, bought everything he expressed a desire to have, and at nine o’clock precisely took him back to the college again. During the holidays M. Patterson kept the boy with him, refusing him nothing in the way of pleasure, granting all his wishes, but never losing sight of him for a moment. And if Wilkie complained of this constant watchfulness, M. Patterson always replied, “I must obey orders;” and this answer invariably put an end to the discussion. So things went on until it became time for Wilkie to take his degree. He presented himself for examination; and, of course, he failed.

Fortunately, however, M. Patterson was not at a loss for an expedient. He placed his charge in a private school; and the following year, at a cost of five thousand francs, he beguiled a poor devil into running the risk of three years’ imprisonment, by assuming M.

Wilkie’s name, and passing the examination in his place. In possession of the precious diploma which opens the door of every career, M. Wilkie now hoped that his pockets would be filled, and that he would then be set at liberty. But the hope was vain! Patterson placed him in the hands of an old tutor who had been engaged to travel with him through Europe; and as this tutor held the purse-strings, Wilkie was obliged to follow him through Germany, England, and Italy. When he returned to Paris he was just twenty years old, and the very next day M. Patterson conducted him to the suite of rooms which he still occupied in the Rue du Helder. “You are now in your own home, M.

Wilkie,” said M. Patterson in his most impressive manner. “You are now old enough to be responsible for your own actions, and I hope you will conduct yourself like an honest man. From this moment you are your own master. Those who gave you your education desire you to study law. If I were in your place, I should obey them. If you wish to be somebody, and to acquire a fortune, work, for you have no property, nor anything to expect from any one. The allowance which is granted you, a far too liberal one in my opinion, may be cut off at any moment. I don’t think it right to conceal this fact from you. But at all events until then.

I am instructed to pay you five thousand francs quarterly. Here is the amount for the first quarter, and in three months’ time I shall send you a similar amount. I say ‘shall SEND,’ because my business compels me to return to England, and take up my abode there. Here is my London address; and if any serious trouble befalls you, write to me. Now, my duty being fulfilled, farewell.” “Go to the devil, you old preacher!” growled Wilkie, as he saw the door close on the retreating figure of M. Patterson, who had acted as his guardian for ten years. Patterson’s wise advice lingered in the young fellow’s mind. 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. There it lay upon the table, five thousand francs in glittering gold. 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.

Countless details revealed the delicate taste of a woman, and the thoughtful tenderness of a mother. None of those little superfluities which delight a young man had been forgotten. There was a box of choice cigars upon the table, and a jar of tobacco on the mantel-shelf. But Wilkie did not take time to discover this. He hastily slipped five hundred francs into his pocket, locked the rest of his money in a drawer, and went out with as lofty an air as if all Paris belonged to him, or as if he had enough money to purchase it. He had resolved to give a fete in honor of his deliverance, and so he hurried off in search of some of his old college chums. He found two of them; and, although it was very wounding to his self-love, M. 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. It was a remarkable repast. Other acquaintances dropped in, the wine flowed in rivers; and after dinner they danced. And at day-break, having served his apprenticeship at baccarat, M. Wilkie found himself without a penny in his pocket, and face to face with a bill of four hundred francs, for which amount he was obliged to go to his rooms, under the escort of one of the waiters. This first experiment ought to have disgusted him, or at least have made him reflect. He felt quite in his element in the society of dissipated young men and enamelled women.

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. He had just three hundred francs left.

Twenty thousand francs a year is what one chooses to make it--wealth or poverty. Twenty thousand francs a year represents about sixty francs a day; but what are sixty francs to a high liver, who breakfasts and dines at the best restaurants, whose clothes are designed by an illustrious tailor, who declines to make a pair of trousers for less than a hundred francs? What are three louis a day to a man who hires a box for first performances at the opera, to a man who gambles and gives expensive suppers, to a man who drives out with yellow-haired demoiselles, and who owns a race-horse?

Measuring his purse and his ambition, M. Wilkie discovered that he should never succeed in making both ends meet. “How do other people manage?” he wondered. A puzzling question!

Every evening a thousand gorgeously apparelled gentlemen, with a cigar in their mouth and a flower in their button-hole, may be seen promenading between the Chaussee d’Antin and the Faubourg Montmartre. Everybody knows them, and they know everybody, but how they exist is a problem which it is impossible to solve. How do they live, and what do they live on? 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. What source do they derive their money from? What vile business are they engaged in? “My relatives must wish me to starve,” he said to himself. “Not I--I’m not that sort of a person, as I’ll soon let them know.” And thereupon he wrote to M. Patterson.

By return of post that gentleman sent him a cheque for one thousand francs--a mere drop in the bucket.

Wilkie felt indignant and so he wrote again. This time he was obliged to wait for a reply. Still at last it came. Patterson sent him two thousand francs, and an interminable epistle full of reproaches. The interesting young man threw the letter into the fire, and went out to hire a carriage by the month and a servant. 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. He was ill--he had contracted a debt of honor--he had imprudently lent money to an unscrupulous friend--he was about to be arrested for debt.

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. And this thought made him anxious to fathom the mystery of his birth and his infancy. 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. Unfortunately it was not M. Wilkie’s noble father that arrived, but a letter from M. Patterson, which was couched as follows: “MY DEAR SIR, a considerable sum was placed in my hands to meet your unexpected requirements; and in compliance with your repeated appeals, I have remitted the entire amount to you. Not a penny remains in my possession--so that my instructions have been fulfilled. Spare yourself the trouble of making any fresh demands; they will meet with no reply.

In future you will not receive a penny above your allowance, which in my opinion is already too large a one for a young man of your age.” This letter proved a terrible blow to Wilkie. What should he do? He felt that M. Patterson would not revoke his decision; and indeed he wrote him several imploring letters, in vain. Yet never had his need of money been so urgent. 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 had begun to consider himself ruined. He saw himself reduced to dismissing his carriage, to selling his third share of Pompier de Nanterre and losing the esteem of all his witty friends.

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. It was not usually an easy task to entice M. Wilkie from his bed, but the name his servant mentioned seemed to have a prodigious effect upon him. He bounded on to the floor, and as he hastily dressed himself, he muttered: “The viscount here, at this hour! It’s astonishing! What if he’s going to fight a duel and wishes me to be his second? That would be a piece of grand good luck and no mistake. It would assure my position at once.

Certainly something must have happened!” This last remark was by no means a proof of any remarkable perspicuity on M. Wilkie’s part. As M. de Coralth never went to bed until two or three o’clock in the morning, he was by no means an early riser, and only some very powerful reason could explain the presence of his blue-lined brougham in the street before nine o’clock A.M. And the influence that had made him rise betimes in the present case had indeed been extremely powerful. Although the brilliant viscount had discovered Madame d’Argeles’s secret, several months previously, he had so far disclosed it to no one.

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. Now, however, the sudden death of the Count de Chalusse changed the situation. 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. “The devil!” he exclaimed. “Let me think a moment. Madame d’Argeles is the heiress of all these millions--will she come forward and claim them? 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? She would rather relinquish her millions, both for herself and for him, than take such a step. She is so ridiculously antiquated in her notions.” And then he began to study what advantages he might derive from his knowledge of the situation.

de Coralth, like all persons whose present is more or less uncertain, had great misgivings concerning his future. 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. The slightest indiscretion, the least blunder, might hurl him from his splendor into the mire. The perspiration started out on his forehead when he thought of his peril. 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. Fortunat had formed. “Why shouldn’t I inform Wilkie?” he said to himself. “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.

If he knew something about her, she on her side knew everything connected with his past life. She had only to speak to ruin him forever. 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. And his matutinal visit to M. 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. “You here, at sunrise, my friend!” exclaimed Wilkie, as he entered the room where the viscount was seated. “What has happened?” “To me?--nothing,” replied the viscount. “It was solely on your account that I deviated from my usual habits.” “What is it?

don’t be alarmed. I have only some good news to communicate,” and in a careless tone which cleverly concealed his anxiety, the viscount added: “I have come, my dear Wilkie, to ask you what you would be willing to give the man who put you in possession of a fortune of several millions?” M. 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. “Never in all my life have I spoken more seriously,” insisted the viscount.

His companion at first made no reply. 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. “Come, my friend,” he said at last, “do you want to poke fun at me? That wouldn’t be polite.

A debtor is always sacred, and I owe you twenty-five louis. This is scarcely the time to talk of millions.

My relatives have cut off my supplies; and my creditors are overwhelming me with their bills----” But M. de Coralth checked him, saying gravely: “Upon my honor, I am not jesting. 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. What wouldn’t a man promise in all sincerity of soul to a fellow mortal who gave him money when he had none--when he needed it urgently and must have it to save himself from ruin? At such a moment no commission, however large, seems exorbitant. 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. And I am the best judge of the matter, since I am the man who can put you in possession of this enormous fortune.” M. Wilkie started back in speechless amazement.

“This astonishes you!” said the viscount; “and why, pray? Is it because I ask for a commission?” “Oh! not at all!” “It is not perhaps a very gentlemanly proceeding, but it is a sensible one. In the afternoon, when I am in a restaurant, at the club, or in a lady’s boudoir, I am merely the viscount and the grand seigneur.

All money questions sicken me. I am careless, liberal, and obliging to a fault. But in the morning I am simply Coralth, a man of the middle classes who doesn’t pay his bills without examining them, and who watches his money, because he doesn’t wish to be ruined and end his brilliant career as a common soldier in some foreign legion.” M.

Wilkie did not allow him to continue. He believed, and his joy was wild--delirious. “A difficulty between us!

I am yours without reserve! Do you understand me? How much must you have? Do you wish for it all?” But the viscount was unmoved.

“It is not fitting that I should fix upon the indemnity which is due to me. I will consult a man of business; and I will decide upon this point on the day after to-morrow, when I shall explain everything to you.” “On the day after to-morrow! You won’t leave me in suspense for forty-eight hours?” “It is unavoidable. I have still some important information to procure. I lost no time in coming to you, so that I might put you on your guard. If any scoundrel comes to you with proposals, be extremely careful. Some agents, when they obtain a hold on an estate, leave nothing for the rightful owner. So don’t treat with any one.” “Oh, no! You may rest assured I won’t.” “I should be quieter in mind if I had your promise in writing.” Without a word, Wilkie darted to a table, and wrote a short contract by which he bound himself to give M.

Ferdinand de Coralth one-half of the inheritance which the aforesaid Coralth might prove him to be entitled to. The viscount read the document, placed it in his pocket, and then said, as he took up his hat: “Very well. I will see you again on Monday.” But M. “Monday, so be it!” said he; “but swear that you are not deceiving me.” “What, do you still doubt me?” M. Wilkie reflected for a moment; and suddenly a brilliant inspiration darted through his brain. “If you are speaking the truth, I shall soon be rich,” said he. “But, in the meantime, life is hard. I haven’t a penny, and it isn’t a pleasant situation.

I have a horse entered for the race to-morrow, Pompier de Nanterre. You know the animal very well. The chances are enormously in his favor.

So, if it wouldn’t inconvenience you to lend me fifty louis.” “Certainly,” interrupted the viscount, cordially. “Certainly; with the greatest pleasure.” And drawing a beautiful little notebook from his pocket he took from it not one, but two bank-notes of a thousand francs, and handed them to M.

Wilkie, saying: “Monsieur believes me now, does he not?” As will be readily believed, it was not for his own pleasure that M. de Coralth postponed his confidential disclosures for a couple of days. He knew Wilkie perfectly well, and felt that it was dangerous to let him roam about Paris with half of an important secret. Postponement generally furnishes fate with weapons against oneself. But it was impossible for the viscount to act otherwise. He had not seen the Marquis de Valorsay since the Count de Chalusse’s death and he dared not conclude the contract with Wilkie before he had conferred with him, for he was completely in the marquis’s power.

At the least suspicion of treason, M. de Valorsay would close his hand, and he, Coralth, would be crushed like an egg-shell.

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. He listened quietly, and when the viscount had completed his story, he asked: “Why did you wait so long before telling me all this?” “I didn’t see how it could interest you in the least.” The marquis looked at him keenly, and then calmly said: “In other words, you were waiting to see whether it would be most advantageous to you to be with me or against me.” “How can you think----” “I don’t think, I’m sure of it. As long as I was strong support for you, you were devoted to me.

But now I am tottering, and you are ready to betray me.” “Excuse me! The step I am about to take----” “What, haven’t you taken it already?” interrupted the marquis, quickly. And shrugging his shoulders, he added: “Observe that I don’t reproach you in the least. Only remember this: we survive or we perish together.” By the angry gleam in M. 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. Yes, Madame d’Argeles must lay claim to the count’s estate. 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. Marguerite was escaping me, but I shall soon have her in my power.

I have a plan. 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. Let us part friends--au revoir--and, above all, keep me well posted about matters in general.” M. de Coralth’s temper was already somewhat ruffled when he entered Valorsay’s house; and he was in a furious passion when he left it. “So we are to survive or perish together,” he growled.

“Thanks for the preference you display for my society. Is it my fault that the fool has squandered his fortune? I fancy I’ve had enough of his threats and airs.” Still his wrath was not so violent as to make him forget his own interests. He at once went to inquire if the agreement which M. Wilkie had just signed would be binding. 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.

It was not yet noon, and the viscount determined to act upon the suggestion at once; he now bitterly regretted the delay he had specified. “I must find Wilkie at once,” he said to himself.

But he did not succeed in meeting him until the evening, when he found him at the Cafe Riche--and in what a condition too! The two bottles of wine which the young fool had drank at dinner had gone to his head, and he was enumerating, in a loud voice, the desires he meant to gratify as soon as he came into possession of his millions. “What a brute!” thought the enraged viscount. “If I leave him to himself, no one knows what foolish thing he may do or say.

I must remain with him until he becomes sober again.” So he followed him to the theatre, and thence to Brebant’s, where he was sitting feeling terribly bored, when M. Wilkie conceived the unfortunate idea of inviting Victor Chupin to come up and take some refreshment. The scene which followed greatly alarmed the viscount. Who could this young man be? He did not remember having ever seen him before, and yet the young scamp was evidently well acquainted with his past life, for he had cast the name of Paul in his face, as a deadly insult. Surely this was enough to make the viscount shudder!

How did it happen that this young man had been just on the spot ready to pick up Wilkie’s hat? Was it mere chance? Certainly not. Then why was the fellow there? Evidently to watch somebody. And whom? Why, him--Coralth--undoubtedly.

In going through life as he had done, a man makes enemies at every step; and he had an imposing number of foes, whom he only held in check by his unbounded impudence and his renown as a duellist. 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. Was it prudent to incur the risk of making this woman an enemy? All Sunday he hesitated.

It would be very easy to get out of the scrape. He could concoct some story for Wilkie’s benefit, and that would be the end of it. But on the other hand, there was the prospect of netting at least five hundred thousand francs--a fortune--a competency, and the idea was too tempting to be relinquished. So on Monday morning, at about ten o’clock, he presented himself at Wilkie’s house, looking pale with anxiety, and far more solemn in manner than usual. “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. You will therefore swear, upon your honor as a gentleman, never to betray me, under any circumstances, or for any reason.” M. Wilkie extended his hand and solemnly exclaimed: “I swear!” “Very well, then. Now my mind is at rest. 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. “You will certainly be questioned,” continued M. de Coralth; “but you must reply that you received the information through one of Mr.

Patterson’s friends.

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. He leaves, I am informed, at least eight or ten millions of property.” By M. 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.

“The Count de Chalusse my uncle! I shall have a coronet on the corner of my visiting cards.” But with a gesture M. de Coralth silenced him. “Wait a little before you rejoice,” said he. “Yes, your mother is the sister of the Count de Chalusse, and it is through her that you are an heir to the estate. But--don’t grieve too much--there are similar misfortunes in many of our most distinguished families--circumstances--the obstinacy of parents--a love more powerful than reason----” The viscount paused, certainly he had no prejudices; but at the moment of telling this interesting young man who his mother really was, he hesitated. “Well--when your mother was a young girl, about twenty, she fled from her paternal home with a man she loved. Forsaken afterward, she found herself in the depths of poverty.

She was obliged to live. You were starving. So she changed her name, and now she is known as Lia d’Argeles.” M. Wilkie sprang to his feet. “Lia d’Argeles!” he exclaimed. Then, with a burst of laughter, he added: “Nevertheless, I think it a piece of grand good luck!” VI. “This man carries away your secret; you are lost.” A sinister voice whispered these words in Madame Lia d’Argeles’s heart when M. Isidore Fortunat, after being rudely dismissed, closed the door of her drawing-room behind him. This man had addressed her by the ancient and illustrious name of Chalusse which she had not heard for twenty years, and which she had forbidden her own lips to pronounce.

This man knew that she, Lia d’Argeles, was really a Durtal de Chalusse. This frightful certainty overwhelmed her. 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.

However, Madame d’Argeles’s experience in life had left her but limited faith in apparent or pretended disinterestedness. This is a practical age; chivalrous sentiments are expensive--as she had learned conclusively. “If the man came here,” she murmured, “it was only because he thought he might derive some benefit from the prosecution of my claim to my poor brother’s estate. In refusing to listen to his entreaties, I have deprived him of this expected profit and so I have made him my enemy. Ah! I was foolish to send him away like that! I ought to have pretended to listen--I ought to have bound him by all sorts of promises.” She suddenly paused. 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. They rushed out in pursuit, and she remained in the courtyard, her heart heavy with anxiety. Too late! About a quarter of an hour afterward her emissaries returned. They had made all possible haste in contrary directions, but they had seen no one in the street who at all resembled the person they were looking for. They had questioned the shopkeepers, but no one had seen him pass. “It doesn’t matter,” faltered Madame d’Argeles, in a tone that belied her words.

And, anxious to escape the evident curiosity of her servants, she hastened back to the little boudoir where she usually spent her mornings. 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. She had sent her trusty servant, Job, for Baron Trigault; he would probably return with the baron at any moment; and the baron would advise her. He would know at once what was the best course for her to pursue. 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. Fortunat must be a very dangerous and cunning man. He had set a trap for her, and she had allowed herself to be caught.

Perhaps he had only suspected the truth when he presented himself at the house. He had suddenly announced the death of the Count de Chalusse; she had betrayed herself; and any doubts he might have entertained were dispelled.

“If I had only had sufficient presence of mind to deny it,” she murmured. “If I had only been courageous enough to reply that I knew absolutely nothing about the person he spoke of. Ah! 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? It was scarcely probable. He had implored her to accept the property, if not for her own sake at least for the sake of another. And when she asked him whom he meant he had answered, “Mademoiselle Marguerite,” but he was undoubtedly thinking of Wilkie. So this man, this Isidore Fortunat, knew that she had a son. Perhaps he was even acquainted with him personally. In his anger he would very likely hasten to Wilkie’s rooms and tell him everything.

This thought filled the wretched woman’s heart with despair. What!

Had she not yet expiated her fault? Must she suffer again? For the first time a terrible doubt came over her. What she had formerly regarded as a most sublime effort of maternal love, was, perhaps, even a greater crime than the first she had committed. She had given her honor as the price of her son’s happiness and prosperity. Had she a right to do so? Did not the money she had lavished upon him contain every germ of corruption, misfortune, and shame? How terrible Wilkie’s grief and rage would be if he chanced to hear the truth! Alas! he would certainly pay no heed to the extenuating circumstances; he would close his ears to all attempts at justification.

He would have naught but hatred and scorn to bestow upon a mother who had fallen from the highest rank in society down to everlasting infamy. She fancied she heard him saying in an indignant voice, “It would have been better to have allowed me to die of starvation than to have given me bread purchased at such a price! Why have you dishonored me by your ill-gotten wealth? Fallen, you might have raised yourself by honest toil. You ought to have made me a laborer, and not a spoiled idler, incapable of earning an honest livelihood. As the son of a poor, betrayed, and deserted woman, with whom I could have shared my scanty earnings, I might have looked the world proudly in the face. But where can the son of Lia d’Argeles hide his disgrace after playing the gentleman for twenty years with Lia d’Argeles’s money?” Yes, Wilkie would certainly say this if he ever learned the truth; and he would learn it--she felt sure of it.

How could she hope to keep a secret which was known to Baron Trigault, M. Patterson, the Viscount de Coralth, and M. Fortunat--four persons! She had confidence in the first two; she believed she had a hold on the third, but the fourth--Fortunat!

The hours went by; and still Job did not return. What was the meaning of this delay?

Had he failed to find the baron? At last the sound of carriage-wheels in the courtyard made her start. “That’s Job!” she said to herself.

“He brings the baron.” Alas! Job returned alone. And yet the honest fellow had spared neither pains nor horseflesh. 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.

Perhaps he is there,” remarked Madame d’Argeles. “Madame knows that the baron is never at home. I did go there, however, but in vain.” This chanced to be one of three consecutive days which Baron Trigault had spent with Kami-Bey, the Turkish ambassador.

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. They ate and slept there. By some strange chance, Madame d’Argeles had not heard of this duel with bank-notes, although nothing else was talked of at the clubs; indeed, the Figaro had already published a minute description of the apartment where the contest was going on; and every evening it gave the results. According to the latest accounts, the baron had the advantage; he had won about two hundred and eighty thousand francs. “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. “He went away more angry than I had ever seen him before. He is incensed with me; and who knows how long it will be before he comes again?” Still she waited, with feverish anxiety, listening breathlessly to every sound in the street, and trembling each time she heard or fancied she heard a carriage stop at the door.

However, at two o’clock in the morning the baron had not made his appearance. “It is too late--he won’t come!” she murmured. But now her sufferings were less intolerable, for excess of wretchedness had deadened her sensibility. Utter prostration paralyzed her energies and benumbed her mind. 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. She tottered to her room, flung herself on the bed, and instantly fell asleep. Yes, she slept the heavy, leaden slumber which always follows a great mental crisis, and which falls like God’s blessing upon a tortured mind.

On waking up, her first act was to ring for her maid, in order to send a message to Job, to go out again in search of the baron.

But the faithful servant had divined his mistress’s wishes, and had already started off of his own accord. 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. “Ah! how kind of you to come!” she exclaimed.

“You are most welcome. If you knew how anxiously I have been waiting for you!” He made no reply. “If you knew,” continued Madame d’Argeles, “if you only knew.” But she paused, for in spite of her own agitation, she was suddenly struck by the peculiar expression on her visitor’s face. He was standing silent and motionless in the centre of the room, and his eyes were fixed upon her with a strange, persistent stare in which she could read all the contradictory feelings which were battling for mastery in his mind--anger, hatred, pity, and forgiveness. Madame d’Argeles shuddered. So her cup of sorrow was not yet full. A new misfortune was about to fall upon her. 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. “What have I done?” “You, my poor Lia--nothing!” “Then--what is it?

you frighten me.” “What is it? Well, I am going to tell you,” he said, as he stepped forward and took her hand in his own. “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. You have heard my vows of vengeance if I ever succeeded in discovering him. Ah, well, Lia, I have discovered him. The man who stole my share of earthly happiness was the Count de Chalusse, your brother.” With a sudden gesture Madame d’Argeles freed her hand from the baron’s grasp, and recoiled as terrified as if she had seen a spectre rise up before her.

Then with her hands extended as if to ward off the horrible apparition, she exclaimed: “O, my God!” A bitter smile curved the baron’s lips.

“What do you fear?” he asked. “Isn’t your brother dead? He has defrauded me alike of happiness and vengeance!” If her son’s life had depended on a single word, Madame d’Argeles could not have uttered it. She knew what mental agony had urged the baron to a sort of moral suicide, and led him to contract the vice in which he wasted his life and squandered, or, at least risk, his millions. “Nor is this all,” he continued.

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. Ah, well! I’ve found what I sought, at last. The child is now a beautiful young girl. She lives at the Hotel de Chalusse as your brother’s daughter. She is known as Mademoiselle Marguerite.” Madame d’Argeles listened, leaning against the wall for support, and trembling like a leaf.

Her reason was shaken by so many repeated blows, and her son, her brother, Marguerite, Pascal Ferailleur, Coralth, Valorsay--all those whom she loved or feared, or hated--rose like spectres before her troubled brain. The horror of the truth exceeded her most frightful apprehensions. The strangeness of the reality surpassed every flight of fancy. And, moreover, the baron’s calmness increased her stupor. 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. But was his calmness real? Was it not a mask, would not his fury suddenly break forth?

However, he continued, “It is thus that destiny makes us its sport--it is thus that it laughs at our plans. Do you remember, Lia, the day when I met you wandering through the streets of Paris--with your child in your arms--pale and half dead with fatigue, faint for want of food, homeless and penniless?

You saw no refuge but in death, as you have since told me. 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? And yet this might not be the end, if I chose to have it otherwise. The count is dead, but I can still return him disgrace for disgrace. What prevents me from casting ineffaceable opprobrium upon the great name of Chalusse, of which he was so proud? To-day I can tell all Paris what his sister has been and what she is to-day.” Ah! it was this--yes, it was this that Madame d’Argeles had dreaded. She fell upon her knees, and, with clasped hands she entreated: “Pity!--oh! have pity--forgive me!

Have mercy! Have I not always been a faithful and devoted friend to you? Think of the past you have just invoked! Who helped you then to bear your intolerable sufferings? Don’t you remember the day when you, yourself, had determined to die by your own hand? There was a woman who persuaded you to abandon the thought of suicide. It was I!” He looked at her for a moment with a softer expression, tears came to his eyes, and rolled down his cheeks.

Then suddenly he raised her, and placed her in an arm-chair, exclaiming: “Ah! 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. “Besides,” he added, “I had already pardoned before coming here. It was foolish on my part, perhaps, and for nothing in the world would I confess it to my acquaintances, but it is none the less true. I shall have my revenge in a certain fashion, however. I need only hold my peace, and the daughter of M. de Chalusse and Madame Trigault would become a lost woman.

Very well, I shall offer her my assistance. It may, or may not, be another absurd and ridiculous fancy added to the many I have been guilty of. But no matter. I have promised. And why, indeed, should this poor girl be held responsible for the sins of her parents? I--I declare myself on her side against the world!” Madame d’Argeles rose, her face radiant with joy and hope. “Then perhaps we are saved!” she exclaimed. “Ah!

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.

The Viscount de Coralth is a scoundrel. It was he who slipped the cards which made M. Ferailleur win, into the pack, and he did it at the Marquis de Valorsay’s instigation.” The baron looked at Madame d’Argeles with pro-found amazement. “What!” said he; “you knew this and you allowed it? You were cruel enough to remain silent when that innocent man entreated you to testify on his behalf! You allowed this atrocious crime to be executed under your own roof, and under your very eyes?” “I was then ignorant of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s existence. 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?

It was none the less an abominable action.” She hung her head, and in a scarcely audible voice replied: “I was not free. I submitted to a will that was stronger than my own. If you had heard M. de Coralth’s threats you would not censure me so severely.

He has discovered my secret; he knows Wilkie--I am in his power. Don’t frown--I make no attempt to excuse myself--I am only explaining the position in which I was placed. My peril is imminent; I have only confidence in you--you alone can aid me; listen!” Thereupon she hastily explained M. de Coralth’s position respecting herself, what she had been able to ascertain concerning the Marquis de Valorsay’s plans, the alarming visit she had received from M. Fortunat, his advice and insinuations, the dangers she apprehended, and her firm determination to deliver Mademoiselle Marguerite from the machinations of her enemies. Madame d’Argeles’s disclosures formed, as it were, a sequel to the confidential revelations of Pascal Ferailleur, and the involuntary confession of the Marquis de Valorsay; and the baron could no longer doubt the existence of the shameful intrigue which had been planned in view of obtaining possession of the count’s millions. And if he did not, at first, understand the motives, he at least began to discern what means had been employed. He now understood why Valorsay persisted in his plan of marrying Mademoiselle Marguerite, even without a fortune. “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.

“And now, what shall I do?” she added. The baron was stroking his chin, as was his usual habit when his mind was deeply exercised. “The first thing to be done,” he replied, “is to show Coralth in his real colors, and prove M. Ferailleur’s innocence. It will probably cost me a hundred thousand francs to do so, but I shall not grudge the money. I should probably spend as much or even more in play next summer; and the amount had better be spent in a good cause than in swelling the dividends of my friend Blanc, at Baden.” “But M. de Coralth will speak out as soon as he finds that I have revealed his shameful past.” “Let him speak.” Madame d’Argeles shuddered. “Then the name of Chalusse will be disgraced,” said she; “and Wilkie will know who his mother is.” “No.” “But----” “Ah! allow me to finish, my dear friend.

I have my plan, and it is as plain as daylight. Patterson to summon your son to England, under any pretext whatever; let him pretend that he wishes to give him some money, for instance. He will go there, of course, and then we will keep him there.

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. “As regards yourself,” said he, “the plan you ought to adopt is still more simple. What is your furniture worth? About a hundred thousand francs, isn’t it? You will sign me notes, dated some time back, to the amount of a hundred thousand francs. On the day these notes fall due, on Monday, for instance, they will be presented for payment. You will refuse to pay them. A writ will be served, and an attachment placed upon your furniture; but you will offer no resistance. I don’t know if I explain my meaning very clearly.” “Oh, very clearly!” “So your property is seized. 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.

You can imagine the sensation this announcement will create. I can see your friends and the frequenters of your drawing-room meeting one another in the street, and saying: ‘Ah, well! what’s this about poor d’Argeles?’ ‘Pshaw!--no doubt it’s a voluntary sale.’ ‘Not at all; she’s really ruined. Everything is mortgaged above its value.’ ‘Indeed, I’m very sorry to hear it. 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. However, I shall attend the sale, and I think I shall bid.’ And, in fact, your acquaintances won’t fail to repair to the Hotel Drouot, and maybe your most intimate friends will yield to their generous impulses sufficiently to offer twenty sous for one of the dainty trifles on your etageres.” Overcome with shame, Madame d’Argeles hung her head. She had never before so keenly felt the disgrace of her situation. She had never so clearly realized what a deep abyss she had fallen into. And this crushing humiliation came from whom?

From the only friend she possessed--from the man who was her only hope, Baron Trigault. 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. They will come to see how a notorious woman lives, and to ascertain if there are any good bargains to be had. These great ladies would be delighted to display diamonds purchased at the sale of a woman of the demi monde. don’t fear--your exhibition will be visited by my wife and daughter, by the Viscountess de Bois d’Ardon, by Madame de Rochecote, her five daughters, and a great many more. 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. It had been many years since she had seen him in such a frame of mind--since she had heard him talk in such a cynical fashion. “I am ready to follow your advice,” said she, “but afterward?” “What, don’t you understand the object I have in view? Afterward you will disappear.

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. It will furnish the subject of a touching, and what is better, a moral article. The papers will say, ‘Another star has disappeared. This is the miserable end of all the poor wretches whose passing luxury scandalizes honest women.’” “And what will become of me?” “A respected woman, Lia.

You will go to England, install yourself in some pretty cottage near London, and create a new identity for yourself. The proceeds of your sale will supply your wants and Wilkie’s for more than a year. 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. “Never never!” she exclaimed, vehemently. The baron evidently thought he must have misunderstood her. “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. “It is not folly,” she exclaimed, “but vengeance!” And as the astonished baron opened his lips to question her: “Let me finish,” she said imperiously, “and then you shall judge me. 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. You would be frightened if you knew half the extent of his villainy.

do not shake your head. I ought not to be suspected of exaggeration when I speak in this style of a man whom I once loved so devotedly.

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. Ah! chastisement could not fail to come, and it was terrible, like the sin. This man for whom I had abandoned everything--whom I had made my idol--do you know what he said to me the third day after my flight from home? ‘You must be more stupid than an owl to have forgotten to take your jewels.’ Yes, those were the very words he said to me, with a furious air. And then I could measure the depths of the abyss into which I had plunged. This man, with whom I had been so infatuated, did not love me at all, he had never loved me.

It had only been cold calculation on his part. He had devoted months to the task of winning my heart, just as he would have devoted them to some business transaction. He only saw in me the fortune that I was to inherit.

he didn’t conceal it from me. ‘If your parents are not monsters,’ he was always saying, ‘they will finally become reconciled to our marriage. They will give you a handsome fortune and we will divide it. 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. I consented on account of my unborn child. My father and mother had died, and he hoped to prevail upon me to claim my share of the paternal fortune. As for claiming it himself, he dared not.

He was a coward, and he was afraid of my brother.

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. God only knows how much I had suffered from his brutality when I at last succeeded in making my escape with Wilkie. He has sought us everywhere for fifteen years, but he has not yet succeeded in finding a trace of us. Still he has not ceased to watch my brother. I am sure of that, my presentiments never deceive me. So, if I followed your advice--if I claimed possession of my brother’s fortune--my husband would instantly appear with our marriage contract in his hands, and demand everything. Shall I enrich him? I would rather die of want! 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. One could scarcely hope to modify her views even by the wisest and most practical advice.

The baron did not even think of attempting to do so. He had known Madame d’Argeles for years; he had seen so many proofs of her invincible energy and determination. 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. Fortunat. She was silent for a moment, and then, in a firm tone she said: “Still, I will follow your advice in part, baron. Patterson and request him to send for Wilkie. In less than a fortnight I shall have sold my furniture and disappeared. I shall remain poor.

My fortune is not so large as people suppose. No matter. My son is a man; he must learn to earn his own living.” “My banking account is always at your disposal, Lia.” “Thanks, my friend, thanks a thousand times; but it will not be necessary for me to accept your kind offer. When Wilkie was a child I did not refuse. But now I would dig the ground with my own hands, rather than give him a louis that came from you.

You think me full of contradictions! Perhaps I am. It is certain that I am no longer what I was yesterday. This trouble has torn away the bandage that covered my eyes. I can see my conduct clearly now, and I condemn it. I sinned for my son’s sake, more than for my own. 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. If he is strong, he will save us. If he is weak--ah, well! we shall perish.

But there has been cowardice and shame enough! 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. I see what my duty is, and I shall do it.” The baron nodded approvingly.

“That’s no doubt right,” said he. “Only allow me to tell you that all is not lost yet. The code has a weapon for every just cause. Perhaps there will be a way for you to obtain and hold your fortune independent of your husband.” “Alas! I made inquiries on the subject years ago, and I was told that it would be impossible.

Still, you might investigate the matter. I have confidence in you. I know that you would not advise me rashly;--but don’t delay. The worst misfortune would be less intolerable than this suspense.” “I will lose no time.

Ferailleur is a very clever lawyer, I am told. I will consult him.” “And what shall I do about this man Fortunat, who called upon me?” The baron reflected for a moment. “The safest thing would be to take no action whatever at present,” he replied. “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.

“All this will end badly,” she murmured.

The baron shared her opinion, but he did not think it wise or kind to discourage her. “Nonsense!” he said lightly, “luck is going to change; it is always changing.” Then as he heard the clock strike, he sprang from his arm-chair in dismay. “Two o’clock,” he exclaimed, “and Kami-Bey is waiting for me. I certainly haven’t been wasting time here, but I ought to have been at the Grand Hotel at noon. Kami is quite capable of suspecting a man of any knavery. These Turks are strange creatures. 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. Fortunat’s spy, Victor Chupin, was dogging her carriage. It was most imprudent on her part to have gone to Wilkie’s house on her return.

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. So, on this occasion, she ordered the coachman to stop near the Rue du Helder, and she reached the street just in time to betray her secret to Victor Chupin, and receive a foul insult from M. The latter’s cruel words stabbed her to the heart, and yet she tried to construe them as mere proofs of her son’s honesty of feeling--as proof of his scorn for the depraved creatures who haunt the boulevards each evening. But though her energy was indomitable, her physical strength was not equal to her will. 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. As it was Sunday, Madame d’Argeles was able to obey the physician, and so she closed her doors against every one, the baron excepted. 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. She would then be compelled to open her doors as usual. For what would the habitues of the house, who had played there every Monday for years, say if they found the doors closed? She was less her own mistress than an actress--she had no right to weep or suffer in solitude. So, at about seven o’clock on Monday evening, although still grievously suffering both in mind and body, she arranged herself to receive her guests.

From among all her dresses, she chose the same dark robe she had worn on the night when Pascal Ferailleur was ruined at her house; and as she was even paler than usual, she tried to conceal the fact by a prodigal use of rouge. At ten o’clock, when the first arrivals entered the brilliantly lighted rooms, they found her seated as usual on the sofa, near the fire, with the same eternal, unchangeable smile upon her lips. There were at least forty persons in the room, and the gambling had become quite animated when the baron entered. Madame d’Argeles read in his eyes that he was the bearer of good news. “Everything is going on well,” he whispered, as he shook hands with her. “I have seen M. Ferailleur--I wouldn’t give ten sous for Valorsay’s and Coralth’s chances.” This intelligence revived Madame d’Argeles’s drooping spirits, and she received M.

de Coralth with perfect composure when he came to pay his respects to her soon afterward. 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. The hostess’s calmness amazed him. Was she still ignorant of her brother’s death and the complications arising from it, or was she only acting a part?

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. Both rooms were full, and almost everybody was engaged in play, when, shortly after midnight, a servant entered the room, whispered a few words in his mistress’s ear, and handed her a card. 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. “What is it? What is it?” they asked. Her lips parted, she opened her mouth, but no sound came forth.

She turned ghastly white under her rouge, and a wild, unnatural light gleamed in her eyes. 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. “What is it? What is the matter with her?” was the astonished query on every side. At last, with a terrible effort, she managed to reply, “Nothing.” And then, after clinging for a moment to the mantel-shelf, in order to steady herself, she tottered out of the room. It was not enough to tell M. He must be taught how to utilize the knowledge. 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.

She will deceive this young idiot completely, if I don’t warn him.” So he did warn him; and Wilkie was instructed exactly what to do and say, how to answer any questions, and what position to take up according to circumstances. Moreover, he was especially enjoined to distrust tears, and not to let himself be put out of countenance by haughty airs. The Viscount spent at least an hour in giving explanations and advice, to the great disgust of M. 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. He then rose to depart. “That’s all, I think,” he remarked, with a shade of uneasiness. “I’ve traced the plan--you must execute it, and keep cool, or the game’s lost.” His companion rose proudly. “If it fails, it won’t be from any fault of mine,” he answered with unmistakable petulance. “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. He was no longer to be limited to a paltry allowance of twenty thousand francs! No more debts, no more ungratified longings. He would have millions at his disposal! He seemed to see them, to hold them, to feel them gliding in golden waves between his fingers! What horses he would have!

what carriages! what mistresses! And a gleam of envy that he had detected in M. de Coralth’s eyes put the finishing touch to his bliss. To be envied by this brilliant viscount, his model and his ideal, what happiness it was! The reputation that Madame d’Argeles bore had at first cast a shadow over his joy; but this shadow had soon vanished. He was troubled by no foolish prejudices, and personally he cared little or nothing for his mother’s reputation. society has no prejudices nowadays when millionaires are concerned, and asks no questions respecting their parents. Society only requires passports of the indigent. Besides, no matter what Madame d’Argeles might have done, she was none the less a Chalusse, the descendant of one of the most aristocratic families in France.

Such were Wilkie’s meditations while he was engaged in dressing himself with more than usual care. 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.

His toilette was consequently a lengthy operation. However, shortly after twelve o’clock he was ready. He cast a last admiring glance at himself in the mirror, twirled his mustaches, and departed on his mission. He even went on foot, which was a concession to what he considered M. de Coralth’s absurd ideas. The aspect of the Hotel d’Argeles, in the Rue de Berry, impressed him favorably, but, at the same time, it somewhat disturbed his superb assurance.

A couple of servants--the concierge and Job--were standing at the door engaged in conversation. Wilkie approached them, and in his most imposing manner, but not without a slight tremble in his voice, requested to see Madame d’Argeles. “Madame is in the country,” replied the concierge; “she will not return before this evening. If monsieur will leave his card.” “Oh! that’s quite unnecessary. I shall be passing again.” This, too, was in obedience to the instructions of M. 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. But this first mishap annoyed him extremely.

What should he do? A cab was passing.

He hired it for a drive to the Bois, whence he returned to the boulevards, played a game of billiards with one of the co-proprietors of Pompier de Nanterre, and finally dined at the Cafe Riche, devoting as much time as possible to the operation. He was finishing his coffee when the clock struck eight. He caught up his hat, drew on his gloves, and hastened to the Hotel d’Argeles again. “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. And if monsieur wishes--” “No,” replied M. 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. “Ah! 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. However, he had not been on guard very long, when he saw a brougham stop in front of the mansion, whereupon the gate opened, as if by enchantment. The vehicle entered the courtyard, deposited its occupants, and drove away. A second carriage soon appeared, then a third, and then five or six in quick succession. “And does she think I’ll wear out my shoe-leather here, while everybody else is allowed to enter?” he grumbled. “Never!--I’ve an idea.” And, without giving himself time for further deliberation, he returned to his rooms, arrayed himself in evening-dress, and sent for his carriage. “You will drive to No.--in the Rue de Berry,” he said.

“There is a soiree there, and you can drive directly into the courtyard.” The coachman obeyed, and M. Wilkie realized that his idea was really an excellent one. As soon as he alighted, the doors were thrown open, and he ascended a handsome staircase, heavily carpeted, and adorned with flowers. Two liveried footmen were standing at the door of the drawing-room, and one of them advanced to relieve Wilkie of his overcoat, but his services were declined.

“I don’t wish to go in,” said the young man roughly. “I wish to speak with Madame d’Argeles in private. Here is my card.” The servant was hesitating, when Job, suspecting some mystery perhaps, approached. “Take in the gentleman’s card,” he said, with an air of authority; and, opening the door of a small room on the left-hand side of the staircase, he invited Wilkie to enter, saying, “If monsieur will be kind enough to take a seat, I will summon madame at once.” M. Wilkie sank into an arm-chair, considerably overcome. 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.

In his breast, moreover, in the place where physiologists locate the heart, he felt certain extraordinary movements which strongly resembled palpitations. 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. It was too late now to draw back, or even to reflect. Suddenly a door opposite the one by which he had entered opened, and Madame d’Argeles appeared on the threshold. She was no longer the woman whose anguish and terror had alarmed her guests. During the brief moment of respite which fate had granted her, she had summoned all her energy and courage, and had mastered her despair. 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. “Was it you, sir, who sent me this card?” she inquired. Greatly disconcerted, M.

Wilkie could only bow and stammer out an almost unintelligible answer. I am much grieved, upon my word! I disturb you, perhaps----” “You are Monsieur Wilkie!” interrupted Madame d’Argeles, in a tone of mingled irony and disdain. “Yes,” he replied, drawling out the name affectedly, “I am M. Wilkie.” “Did you desire to speak with me?” inquired Madame d’Argeles, dryly. “In fact--yes. I will listen to you, although your visit is most inopportune, for I have eighty guests or more in my drawing-room. Still, speak!” It was very easy to say “speak,” but unfortunately for M. Wilkie he could not articulate a syllable. His tongue was as stiff, and as dry, as if it had been paralyzed.

He nervously passed and repassed his fingers between his neck and his collar, but although this gave full play to his cravat, his words did not leave his throat any more readily. For he had imagined that Madame d’Argeles would be like other women he had known, but not at all. He found her to be an extremely proud and awe-inspiring creature, who, to use his own vocabulary, SQUELCHED him completely. “I wished to say to you,” he repeated, “I wished to say to you----” But the words he was seeking would not come; and, so at last, angry with himself, he exclaimed: “Ah! you know as well as I, why I have come. 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. Wilkie wondered if he were not the victim of some practical joke, and if there were not a crowd of listeners hidden somewhere, who, after enjoying his discomfiture, would suddenly make their appearance, holding their sides.

This fear restored his presence of mind. “Well, then,” he replied, huskily, “this is my reason. I know nothing respecting my parents. 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. For she was heroic enough to laugh, although death was in her heart, and although the nails of her clinched hands were embedded deep in her quivering flesh. “And you believed him, monsieur?” she exclaimed. “Really, this is too absurd! Why, look at me----” He was doing nothing else, he was watching her with all the powers of penetration he possessed.

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. So he lowered his head, and in an aggrieved tone, exclaimed: “Ah! you think it very amusing, I don’t. Do you realize how wretched it makes one to live as utterly alone as a leper, without a soul to love or care for you? Other young men have a mother, sisters, relatives. I have no one!

Ah!

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 when my relatives have given me the wherewithal to keep me from starving, they imagine their duty is fulfilled. I think this very hard. I didn’t come into the world at my own request, did I? I didn’t ask to be born. If I was such an annoyance to them when I came into existence, why didn’t they throw me into the river? Then they would have been well rid of me, and I should be out of my misery!” He stopped short, struck dumb with amazement, for Madame d’Argeles had thrown herself on her knees at his feet. “Have mercy!” she faltered; “Wilkie; my son, forgive me!” Alas!

the unfortunate woman had failed in playing a part which was too difficult for a mother’s heart. “You have suffered cruelly, my son,” she continued; “but I--I--Ah! you can’t conceive the frightful agony it costs a mother to separate from her child! But you were not deserted, Wilkie; don’t say that. Have you not felt my love in the air around you? 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! Wilkie!” She dragged herself toward him with her hands clasped in an agony of supplication, while he recoiled, frightened by this outburst of passion, and utterly amazed by his easily won victory. The poor woman misunderstood this movement. “Great God!” she exclaimed, “he spurns me; he loathes me. Ah!

What infamous wretch sent you here? Name him, Wilkie! Do you understand, now, why I concealed myself from you? I dreaded the day when I should blush before you, before my own son. And yet it was for your sake. Death would have been a rest, a welcome release for me.

But your breath was ebbing away, your poor little arms no longer had strength to clasp me round the neck. And then I cried: ‘Perish my soul and body, if only my child can be saved!’ I believed such a sacrifice permissible in a mother.

I am punished for it as if it were a crime. I thought you would be happy, my Wilkie. 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 knew the horrors of abject poverty, and I wished to save my son from it. I would have licked up the very mire in your pathway to save you from a stain. I renounced all hope for myself, and I consecrated all that was noble and generous in my nature to you. I will discover the vile coward who sent you here, who betrayed my secret. I will discover him and I will have my revenge! In parting from you, I took a solemn oath never to see you again, and to die without the supreme consolation of feeling your lips upon my forehead.” She could not continue; sobs choked her utterance.

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.

He would willingly have given his third share in Pompier de Nanterre to have made his escape. The strangeness of the scene appalled him. It was not emotion that he felt, but an instinctive fear mingled with commiseration. And he was not only ill at ease, but he was angry with himself for what he secretly styled his weakness. “Women are incomprehensible,” he thought. “It would be so easy to explain things quietly and properly, but they must always cry and have a sort of melodrama.” Suddenly the sound of footsteps near the door roused him from his stupor. He shuddered at the thought that some one might come in. He hated the very idea of ridicule.

So summoning all his courage he went toward Madame d’Argeles, and, raising her from the floor, he exclaimed: “Don’t cry so. Pray get up. Do you hear me? Some one is coming.” Thereupon, as she offered no resistance, he half led, half carried her to an arm-chair, into which she sank heavily. “Now she is going to faint!” thought Wilkie, in despair.

What should he do? Call for help? He dared not. He knelt at Madame d’Argeles’s feet, and gently said: “Come, come, be reasonable! Why do you give way like this? I don’t reproach you!” Slowly, with an air of humility which was indescribably touching, she took her hands from her face, and for the first time raised her tear-stained eyes to her son’s. “Madame!” She heaved a deep sigh, and in a half-stifled voice: “MADAME!” she repeated. “Will you not call me mother?” “Yes, of course--certainly.

But--only you know it will take me some time to acquire the habit. 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?

If you should hate me--if you should curse me--how should I bear it!

Ah! when a woman reaches the years of understanding one should never cease repeating to her: ‘Take care! Your son will be twenty some day, and you will have to meet his searching gaze. You will have to render an account of your honor to him!’ My God! To be reduced to such a state of abject misery that one dares not lift one’s head before one’s own son!

Alas! Wilkie, I know only too well that you cannot help despising me.” “No, indeed.

Not at all! 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 he indeed. Had they ever been separated? She almost doubted it, she had lived so near him in thought. It was with a sort of ecstasy that she looked at him. There was a world of entreaty in her eyes; they seemed to be begging a caress; she raised her quivering lips to his, but he did not observe it. For a long time she hesitated, fearing he might spurn her; but at last, yielding to a supreme impulse, she threw her arms around his neck, drew him toward her, and pressed him to her heart in a close embrace. my son!” she repeated; “to have you with me again, after all these years!” Unfortunately, no whirlwind of passion was capable of carrying M.

His emotion was now spent and his mind had regained its usual indifference.

He flattered himself that he was a man of mettle--and he remained as cold as ice beneath his mother’s kisses. Indeed, he barely tolerated them; and if he did allow her to embrace him, it was only because he did not know how to refuse.

“Will she never have done?” he thought. “This is a pretty state of things!

I must be very attractive. How Costard and Serpillon would laugh if they saw me now.” Costard and Serpillon were his intimate friends, the co-proprietors of the famous steeplechaser. In her rapture, however, Madame d’Argeles did not observe the peculiar expression on her son’s face. She had compelled him to take a chair opposite her, and, with nervous volubility, she continued: “If I don’t deny myself the happiness of embracing you again, it is because I have not broken the vow I took never to make myself known to you. 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. yes, I saw your little game,” he said, with a knowing air. “But I had been well posted, and besides, it is not very easy to fool me.” Madame d’Argeles did not even hear him. “Perhaps destiny is weary of afflicting us,” she continued; “perhaps a new life is about to begin. I can again be happy. I, who for years have lived without even hope. But will you have courage to forget?” “What?” She hung her head, and in an almost inaudible voice replied, “The past, Wilkie.” But with an air of the greatest indifference, he snapped his fingers, and exclaimed: “Nonsense! What is past is past. Such things are soon forgotten.

Paris has known many such cases. You are my mother; I care very little for public opinion. I begin by pleasing myself, and I consult other people afterward; and when they are dissatisfied, I tell them to mind their own business.” The poor woman listened to these words with a joy bordering on rapture.

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 God!” she faltered, “is this really true? Will you allow me to remain with you? Oh, don’t reply rashly!

Consider well, before you promise to make such a sacrifice. Think how much sorrow and pain it will cost you.” “I have considered. It is decided--mother.” She sprang up, wild with hope and enthusiasm. “Then we are saved!” she cried. “Blessed be he who betrayed my secret! And I doubted your courage, my Wilkie! At last I can escape from this hell!

This very night we will fly from this house, without one backward glance. I will never set foot in these rooms again--the detested gamblers who are sitting here shall never see me again. From this moment Lia d’Argeles is dead.” M. Wilkie positively felt like a man who had just fallen from the clouds. “What, fly?” he stammered. “Where shall we go, then?” “To a country where we are unknown, Wilkie--to a land where you will not have to blush for your mother.” “But--” “Trust yourself to me, my son.

I know a pleasant village near London where we can find a refuge.

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. Wilkie sprang up in dismay. “Excuse me,” he said, “I don’t understand you. Patterson’s factory? Well, to tell the truth, that doesn’t suit me at all.” It was impossible to mistake M.

Wilkie’s manner, his tone, or gesture. They revealed him in his true character. Madame d’Argeles saw her terrible mistake at once. The bandage fell from her eyes. She had taken her dreams for realities, and the desires of her own heart for those of her son. She rose, trembling with sorrow and with indignation.

“Wilkie!” she exclaimed, “Wilkie, wretched boy! 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. You wished to know the source of the money which you spend like water. Very well, you may see for yourself. This is a gambling house; one of those establishments frequented by distinguished personages, which the police ignore, or which they cannot suppress. The hubbub you hear is made by the players. Men are ruined here. Some poor wretches have blown their brains out on leaving the house; others have parted with the last vestige of honor here.

And the business pays me well. One louis out of every hundred that change hands falls to my share. This is the source of your wealth, my son.” This anger, which succeeded such deep grief--this outburst of disdain, following such abject humility--considerably astonished M. “Allow me to ask----” he began. But he was not allowed a hearing.

“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. I could help you without disgracing you, without despising you.

But now that you know me, and know what I am, I can do nothing more for you--nothing! I would rather let you starve than succor you, for I would rather see you dead than dishonored by my money.” “But--” “What! would you still consent to receive the allowance I have made you, even if I consented to continue it?” Had a viper raised its head in M. Wilkie’s path he would not have recoiled more quickly. “Never!” he exclaimed. “Ah, no! 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. “I have misjudged him,” she thought. Evil advice has led him astray; but he is not bad at heart.

In that case, my poor child,” she said aloud, “you must see that a new life is about to commence for you. What do you intend to do? How will you gain a livelihood?

People must have food, and clothes, and a roof to shelter them. And where will you obtain it--you who rebel at the very word work? Ah!

if I had only listened to M. Patterson. He was not blind like myself. 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? How have you squandered them? Have you been to the law-school a dozen times? But you can be seen at the races, at the opera, in the fashionable restaurants, and at every place of amusement where a young man can squander money.

And who are your associates? Dissipated and heartless idlers, grooms, gamblers, and abandoned women.” A sneer from M. To think that any one should dare to attack his friends, his tastes, and his pleasures. Such a thing was not to be tolerated. “This is astonishing--astonishing, upon my word!” said he. “You moralizing!

that’s really too good! I should like a few minutes to laugh; it is too ridiculous!” Was he really conscious of the cruelty of his ironical words? The blow was so terrible that Madame d’Argeles staggered beneath it. She was prepared for anything and everything except this insult from her son. 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. However, you are without resources, and you have no profession. 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. This gloomy prediction irritated him beyond endurance. “All this is empty talk,” he interrupted.

“I don’t mean to work, for it’s not at all in my line. Still, I don’t expect to want for anything! That’s plain enough, I hope.” Madame d’Argeles did not wince. “What do you mean to do then?” she asked, coldly. “I don’t understand you.” He shrugged his shoulders impatiently.

“Are we to keep up this farce for ever?” he petulantly exclaimed. “It doesn’t take with me. You know what I mean as well as I do. Why do you talk to me about dying of starvation?

What about the fortune?” “What fortune?” “Eh? Your brother’s, the Count de Chalusse.” Now M. Wilkie’s visit, manner, assurance, wheedling, and contradictions were all explained. That maternal confidence which is so strong in the hearts of mothers vanished from Madame d’Argeles’s for ever.

The depths of selfishness and cunning she discerned in Wilkie’s mind appalled her. She now understood why he had declared himself ready to brave public opinion--why he had proved willing to accept his share of the past ignominy.

It was not his mother’s, but the Count de Chalusse’s estate that he claimed. “Ah! so you’ve heard of that,” she said, in a tone of bitter irony. And then, remembering M. Isidore Fortunat, she asked: “Some one has sold you this valuable secret. 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.

Do you deny it?” Madame d’Argeles sadly shook her head. “I deny nothing,” she replied, “but I am about to tell you something which will destroy all your plans and extinguish your hopes. I am resolved, understand, and my resolution is irrevocable, never to assert my rights. 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.

If he had been obliged to depend upon himself he would perhaps have been conquered by it; but he was armed with weapons which had been furnished by the cunning viscount. 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 have something to say in this matter. You may renounce your claim, but I shall not renounce mine. I am your son, and I shall claim the property.” “Even if I entreated you on my knees not to do so?” “Yes.” Madame d’Argeles’s eyes flashed. I will show you that this estate can never be yours.

By what right will you lay claim to it? Because you are my son? 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. He drew from his pocket a scrap of paper, and flourishing it triumphantly, he exclaimed: “It would be extremely cruel on your part to deny me, but I foresaw such a contingency, and here is my answer, copied from the civil code: ‘Article 341. Inquiry as to maternity allowed, etc., etc.’” What the exact bearing of Wilkie’s threat might be Madame d’Argeles did not know. 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. She understood the situation perfectly.

With her experience of life, she could not fail to understand the despicable part Wilkie was playing. 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. Should she try to persuade Wilkie to abandon this shameful scheme? She might have done so if she had not been so horrified by the utter want of principle which she had discovered in his character.

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. In order to prove yourself a member of the Chalusse family you will begin by disgracing the name and dragging it through the mire.” Wilkie had no wish to prolong this discussion. So much talk about an affair, which, in his opinion, at least, was an extremely simple one, seemed to him utterly ridiculous, and irritated him beyond endurance. “It strikes me this is much ado about nothing,” he remarked. “One would suppose, to hear you talk, that you were the greatest criminal in the world.

Goodness is all very well in its way, but there is such a thing as having too much of it! 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. I wager one hundred louis on it. Why, if people attempted to rake up the past life of their acquaintances, they should have far too much to do. Folks do not trouble themselves as to whether a person has done this or that; the essential thing is to have plenty of money. And if any fool speaks slightingly of you, you can reply: ‘I have an income of five hundred thousand francs,’ and he’ll say no more.” Madame d’Argeles listened, speechless with horror and disgust. Was it really her son who was speaking in this style, and to her of all people in the world? He had an excellent opinion of himself, but he was rather surprised at the effect of his eloquence. “Besides, I’m tired of vegetating, and having only one name,” he continued.

“I want to be on the move. Even with the small allowance I’ve had, I have gained a very good position in society; and if I had plenty of money I should be the most stylish man in Paris. The count’s estate belongs to me, and so I must have it--in fact, I will have it. So believe me when I tell you that it will be much better for you if you acknowledge me without any fuss! Very well then; to-morrow, then, you may expect an official notice.

I wish you good-evening.” He bowed; he was really going, for his hand was already on the door-knob. But Madame d’Argeles detained him with a gesture.

“One word more,” she said, in a voice hoarse with emotion. He scarcely deigned to come back, and he made no attempt to conceal his impatience. “Well, what is it?” he asked, hastily. “I wish to give you a bit of parting advice. The court will undoubtedly decide in your favor; I shall be placed in possession of my brother’s estate; but neither you nor I will have the disposal of these millions.” “Why?” “Because, though this fortune belongs to me, the control of it belongs to your father.” M. Wilkie was thunderstruck. “To my father?” he exclaimed. “Impossible!” “It is so, however; and you would not have been ignorant of the fact, if your greed for money had not made you forget to question me.

You believe yourself an illegitimate child. Wilkie, you are mistaken. You are my legitimate child. I am a married woman----” “Bah!” “And my husband--your father--is not dead. If he is not here now, threatening our safety, it is because I have succeeded in eluding him. He lost all trace of us eighteen years ago. Since then he has been constantly striving to discover us, but in vain. 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.

He is the head of the family--your master and mine. Ah! You will find him full of insatiable greed for wealth, a greed which has been whetted by twenty years’ waiting. You may yet see the day when you will regret the paltry twenty thousand francs a year formerly given you by your poor mother.” Wilkie’s face was whiter than his shirt. “You are deceiving me,” he stammered. “To-morrow I will show you my marriage certificate.” “Why not this evening?” “Because it is locked up in a room which is now full of people.” “And what was my father’s name?” “Arthur Gordon--he is an American.” “Then my name is Wilkie Gordon?” “Yes.” “And---is my father rich?” he inquired. “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.

“The devil!” he exclaimed, “and where does he live!” “He lives at Baden or Homburg in the summer; in Paris or at Monaco in the winter.” “Oh! oh!” ejaculated Wilkie, in three different tones. He knew what he had to expect from such a father as that. Anger now followed stupor--one of those terrible, white rages which stir the bile and not the blood.

He saw his hopes and his cherished visions fade. Luxury and notoriety, high-stepping horses, yellow-haired mistresses, all vanished. He pictured himself reduced to a mere pittance, and held in check and domineered over by a brutal father. “Ah!

I understand your game,” he hissed through his set teeth. “If you would only quietly assert your rights, everything could be arranged privately, and I should have time to put the property out of my father’s reach before he could claim it. 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. But you won’t play this trick on me. You are going to write at once, and make known your claim to your brother’s estate.” “No.” “Ah! You refuse----” He approached threateningly, and caught hold of her arm. “Take care!” he vociferated; “take care! Do not infuriate me beyond endurance----” As cold and rigid as marble, Madame d’Argeles faced him with the undaunted glance of a martyr whose spirit no violence can subdue.

“You will obtain nothing from me,” she said, firmly; “nothing, nothing, nothing!” Maddened with rage and disappointment, M. Wilkie dared to lift his hand as if about to strike her. But at this moment the door was flung open, and a man sprang upon him. It was Baron Trigault. Like the other guests, the baron had seen the terrible effect produced upon Madame d’Argeles by a simple visiting card. But he had this advantage over the others: he thought he could divine and explain the reason of this sudden, seemingly incomprehensible terror. “The poor woman has been betrayed,” he thought; “her son is here!” Still, while the other players crowded around their hostess, he did not leave the card-table. He was sitting opposite M. de Coralth, and he had seen the dashing viscount start and change color. His suspicions were instantly aroused, and he wished to verify them.

He therefore pretended to be more than ever absorbed in the cards, and swore lustily at the deserters who had broken up the game. “Come back, gentleman, come back,” he cried, angrily. “We are wasting precious time. While you have been trifling there, I might have gained--or lost--a hundred louis.” He was nevertheless greatly alarmed, and the prolonged absence of Madame d’Argeles increased his fears each moment. At the end of an hour he could restrain himself no longer. 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. Then passing into the adjoining drawing-room, he managed to make his escape unobserved. “Where is madame?” he inquired of the first servant he met. “In the little sitting-room.” “Alone?” “No; a young gentleman is with her.” The baron no longer doubted the correctness of his conjectures, and his disquietude increased. Quickly, and as if he had been in his own house, he hastened to the door of the little sitting-room and listened.

At that moment rage was imparting a truly frightful intonation to M. The baron really felt alarmed. He stooped, applied his eye to the keyhole, and seeing M. Wilkie with his hand uplifted, he burst open the door and went in. 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.

“Ah, you rascal!” cried the worthy baron, transported with indignation, “you beggarly rascal! you brigand! Is this the way you treat an unfortunate woman who has sacrificed herself for you--your mother? You try to strike your mother, when you ought to kiss her very footprints!” As livid as if his blood had been suddenly turned to gall--with quivering lips and eyes starting from their sockets--M.

Wilkie rose, with difficulty, to his feet, at the same time rubbing his left elbow which had struck against the corner of a piece of furniture, in his fall. You brutal scoundrel!” he growled, ferociously. And then, retreating a step: “Who gave you permission to come in here?” he added.

“Who are you? By what right do you meddle with my affairs?” “By the right that every honest man possesses to chastise a cowardly rascal.” M. Wilkie shook his fist at the baron.

“You are a coward yourself,” he retorted. “You had better learn who you are talking to! 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. She feared she should see her son butchered before her very eyes, and she extended her arms as if to protect him. “Jacques,” she said beseechingly, “Jacques!” This was the name which was indelibly impressed upon Wilkie’s memory--the name he had heard when he was but a child.

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. He understood, or at least he thought he understood, everything. “Ah, ha!” he exclaimed, with a laugh that was at once both ferocious and idiotic. He has the say here--he--” He did not have time to finish his sentence, for quick as thought the baron caught him by the collar, lifted him from the ground with irresistible strength, and flung him on his knees at Madame d’Argeles’s feet, exclaiming: “Ask her pardon, you vile wretch! Ask her pardon, or----” “Or” meant the baron’s clinched fist descending like a sledge-hammer on M.

Wilkie’s head. The worthy youth was frightened--so terribly frightened that his teeth chattered. “Pardon!” he faltered. “Louder--speak up better than that. Your mother must answer you!” Alas! the poor woman could no longer hear. 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. Baron Trigault had a powerful hand; and M. Wilkie’s attire was decidedly the worse for the encounter. 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 obeyed the baron’s order without a word, but not without considerable difficulty, for his hands trembled like a leaf. When he had finished, the baron exclaimed: “Now be off; and never set foot here again--understand me--never set foot here again, never!” M. Wilkie made no reply until he reached the door leading into the hall. But when he had opened it, he suddenly regained his powers of speech. “I’m not afraid of you,” he cried, with frantic violence. “You have taken advantage of your superior strength--you are a coward.

But this shall not end here.

No!--you shall answer for it. I shall find your address, and to-morrow you will receive a visit from my friends M. Costard and M. I am the insulted party--and I choose swords!” A frightful oath from the baron somewhat hastened M. 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. I will not stand such treatment.

Is it any fault of mine that Madame d’Argeles is a Chalusse, and that she wishes to defraud me of my fortune. To-morrow, I call you all to witness, there will be a lawyer here. Here is my card!” And actually, before he closed the door, he threw one of his cards into the middle of the room. The baron did not trouble himself to pick it up; his attention was devoted to Madame d’Argeles.

She was lying back in her arm-chair, white, motionless and rigid, to all appearance dead. What should the baron do? He did not wish to call the servants; they had heard too much already--but he had almost decided to do so, when his eyes fell upon a tiny aquarium, in a corner of the room. He dipped his handkerchief in it; and alternately bathed Madame d’Argeles’s temples and chafed her hands. It was not long before the cold water revived her.

She trembled, a convulsive shudder shook her from head to foot, and at last she opened her eyes, murmuring: “Wilkie!” “I have sent him away,” replied the baron. Poor woman! with returning life came the consciousness of the terrible reality. “He is my son!” she moaned, “my son, my Wilkie!” Then with a despairing gesture she pressed her hands to her forehead as if to calm its throbbings. “And I believed that my sin was expiated,” she pursued. “I thought I had been sufficiently punished. Fool that I was! This is my chastisement, Jacques. Ah! women like me have no right to be mothers!” A burning tear coursed down the baron’s cheek; but he concealed his emotion as well as he could, and said, in a tone of assumed gayety: “Nonsense!

Wilkie is young--he will mend his ways! We were all ridiculous when we were twenty. We have all caused our mothers many anxious nights. Time will set everything to rights, and put some ballast in this young madcap’s brains. Besides, your friend Patterson doesn’t seem to me quite free from blame.

In knowledge of books, he may have been unequalled; but as a guardian for youth, he must have been the worst of fools. After keeping your son on a short allowance for years, he suddenly gorges him with oats--or I should say, money--lets him loose; and then seems surprised because the boy is guilty of acts of folly. It would be a miracle if he were not. So take courage, and hope for the best, my dear Lia.” She shook her head despondingly. “Do you suppose that my heart hasn’t pleaded for him?” she said. “I am his mother; I can never cease to love him, whatever he may do. Even now I am ready to give a drop of blood for each tear I can save him. But I am not blind; I have read his nature. Wilkie has no heart.” “Ah! my dear friend, how do you know what shameful advice he may have received before coming to you?” Madame d’Argeles half rose, and said, in an agitated voice: “What!

you try to make me believe that? ‘Advice!’ Then he must have found a man who said to him: ‘Go to the house of this unfortunate woman who gave you birth, and order her to publish her dishonor and yours. If she refuses, insult and beat her!

‘You know, even better than I, baron, that this is impossible.

In the vilest natures, and when every other honorable feeling has been lost, love for one’s mother survives. Even convicts deprive themselves of their wine, and sell their rations, in order to send a trifle now and then to their mothers--while he----” She paused, not because she shrunk from what she was about to say, but because she was exhausted and out of breath. She rested for a moment, and then resumed in a calmer tone: “Besides, the person who sent him here had counselled coolness and prudence. I discovered this at once. 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!

Wilkie’s adviser wished him to employ legal means to obtain an acknowledgment of his parentage; and he had copied from the Code a clause which is applicable to this case. 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. “The person who called here the other day, M. Isidore Fortunat. Ah! why didn’t I not bribe him to hold his peace?” The baron had entirely forgotten the existence of Victor Chupin’s honorable employer. “You are mistaken, Lia,” he replied.

Fortunat has had no hand in this.” “Then who could have betrayed my secret?” “Why, your former ally, the rascal for whose sake you allowed Pascal Ferailleur to be sacrificed--the Viscount de Coralth!” The bare supposition of such treachery on the viscount’s part brought a flush of indignant anger to Madame d’Argeles’s cheek. “Ah! if I thought that!” she exclaimed. And then, remembering what reasons the baron had for hating M. de Coralth, she murmured: “No! Your animosity misleads you--he wouldn’t dare!” The baron read her thoughts. “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. This might have been so once; but it is not the case now. Ferailleur to do all in my power to save the young girl he loves, Mademoiselle Marguerite, my wife’s daughter, I renounced all thought of self, all my former plans. And why should you doubt Coralth’s treachery? You, yourself, promised me to unmask HIM.

If he has betrayed YOU, my poor Lia, he has only been a little in advance of you.” She hung her head and made no reply. She had forgotten this.

“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. de Coralth during your absence. When the servant handed you that card he turned extremely pale. Because he knew whose card it was. After you left the room his hands trembled like leaves, and his mind was no longer occupied with the game. He--who is usually such a cautious player--risked his money recklessly. When the cards came to him he did still worse; and though luck favored him, he made the strangest blunders, and lost.

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. The traitor was evidently on coals of fire. I could see the perspiration on his forehead, and each time the door opened or shut, he changed color, as if he expected to see you and Wilkie enter.

A dozen times I surprised him listening eagerly, as if by dint of attention, or by the magnetic force of his will, he hoped to hear what you and your son were saying. With a single word I could have wrung a confession from him.” This explanation was so plausible that Madame d’Argeles felt half convinced. “Ah! if you had only spoken that word!” she murmured. The baron smiled a crafty and malicious smile, which would have chilled M. de Coralth’s very blood if he had chanced to see it. “I am not so stupid!” he replied. “We mustn’t frighten the fish till we are quite ready. Our net is the Chalusse estate, and Coralth and Valorsay will enter it of their own accord. It is not my plan, but M.

Ferailleur’s. There’s a man for you! and if Mademoiselle Marguerite is worthy of him they will make a noble pair. Without suspecting it, your son has perhaps rendered us an important service this evening--” “Alas!” faltered Madame d’Argeles, “I am none the less ruined--the name of Chalusse is none the less dishonored!” She wanted to return to the drawing-room; but she was compelled to relinquish this idea.

The expression of her face betrayed too plainly the terrible ordeal she had passed through. The servants had heard M. Wilkie’s parting words; and news of this sort flies about with the rapidity of lightning. 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. and Madame de Fondege had taken under their protection. Unusual strength of character, unbounded confidence in one’s own energy, with thorough contempt of danger, and an invincible determination to triumph or perish, are all required of the person who, like Mademoiselle Marguerite, intrusts herself to the care of strangers--worse yet, to the care of actual enemies.

It is no small matter to place yourself in the power of smooth-tongued hypocrites and impostors, who are anxious for your ruin, and whom you know to be capable of anything. And the task is a mighty one--to brave unknown dangers, perilous seductions, perfidious counsels, and perhaps even violence, at the same time retaining a calm eye and smiling lips. 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.

And, to crown all, she took Madame Leon with her--Madame Leon, whom she knew to be the Marquis de Valorsay’s spy.

But, brave as she was, when the moment of departure came her heart almost failed her. There was despair in the parting glance she cast upon the princely mansion and the familiar faces of the servants. And there was no one to encourage or sustain her. Ah, yes! standing at a window on the second floor, with his forehead pressed close against the pane of glass, she saw the only friend she had in the world--the old magistrate who had defended, encouraged, and sustained her--the man who had promised her his assistance and advice, and prophesied ultimate success.

“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. The drive was a silent and tedious one. The night was coming on; it was a time when all Paris was on the move, and the carriage was delayed at each street corner by a crowd of passing vehicles.

The conversation was solely kept alive by the exertions of Madame de Fondege, whose shrill voice rose above the rumble of the wheels, as she chronicled the virtues of the late Count de Chalusse, and congratulated Mademoiselle Marguerite on the wisdom of her decision. Her remarks were of a commonplace description, and yet each word she uttered evinced intense satisfaction, almost delight, as if she had won some unexpected victory. Occasionally, the General leaned from the carriage window to see if the vehicle laden with Mademoiselle Marguerite’s trunks was following them, but he said nothing. At last they reached his residence in the Rue Pigalle. He alighted first, offered his hand successively to his wife, Mademoiselle Marguerite, and Madame Leon, and motioned the coachman to drive away. But the man did not stir.

“Pardon--excuse me, monsieur,” he said, “but my employers bade--requested me----” “What?” “To ask you--you know, for the fare--thirty-five francs--not counting the little gratuity.” “Very well!--I will pay you to-morrow.” “Excuse me, monsieur; but if it is all the same to you, would you do so this evening? 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. “I give none to insolent people,” replied the General. “You should take a cab if you haven’t money enough to pay for coaches,” replied the driver with an oath. “I’ll be even with you yet.” Marguerite heard no more, for Madame de Fondege caught her by the arm and hurried her up the staircase, saying: “Quick! we must make haste. Your baggage is here already, and we must see if the rooms I intended for you--for you and your companion--suit you.” When Marguerite reached the second floor, Madame de Fondege hunted in her pocket for her latch-key. Not finding it, she rang.

A tall man-servant of impudent appearance and arrayed in a glaring livery opened the door, carrying an old battered iron candlestick, in which a tiny scrap of candle was glaring and flickering. “What!” exclaimed Madame de Fondege, “the reception-room not lighted yet? This is scandalous! What have you been doing in my absence? Come, make haste.

Light the lamp. Tell the cook that I have some guests to dine with me. Call my maid. See that M. Gustave’s room is in order. Go down and see if the General doesn’t need your assistance about the baggage.” Finding it difficult to choose between so many contradictory orders, the servant did not choose at all. He placed his rusty candlestick on one of the side-tables in the reception-room, and gravely, without saying a single word, went out into the passage leading to the kitchen. “Evariste!” cried Madame de Fondege, crimson with anger, “Evariste, you insolent fellow!” As he deigned no reply, she rushed out in pursuit of him. And soon the sound of a violent altercation arose; the servant lavishing insults upon his mistress, and she unable to find any response, save, “I dismiss you; you are an insolent scamp--I dismiss you.” Madame Leon, who was standing near Mademoiselle Marguerite in the reception-room, seemed greatly amused.

“This is a strange household,” said she. “A fine beginning, upon my word.” But the worthy housekeeper was the last person on earth to whom Mademoiselle Marguerite wished to reveal her thoughts. “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. “How can I apologize, madame,” began Mademoiselle Marguerite, “for all the trouble I am giving you?” “Ah!

my dear child, I’ve never been so happy. Come, come, and see your room.” And while they crossed several scantily-furnished apartments, Madame de Fondege continued: “It is I who ought to apologize to you. I fear you will pine for the splendors of the Hotel de Chalusse. We are not millionaires like your poor father. We have only a modest competence, no more. But here we are!” The maid had opened a door, and Mademoiselle Marguerite entered a good-sized room lighted by two windows, hung with soiled wall paper, and adorned with chintz curtains, from which the sun had extracted most of the coloring. Everything was in disorder here, and in fact, the whole room was extremely dirty. The bed was not made, the washstand was dirty, some woollen stockings were hanging over the side of the rumpled bed, and on the mantel-shelf stood an ancient clock, an empty beer bottle, and some glasses. On the floor, on the furniture, in the corners, everywhere in fact, stumps of cigars were scattered in profusion, as if they had positively rained down. “What!” gasped Madame de Fondege, “you haven’t put this room in order, Justine?” “Indeed, madame, I haven’t had time.” “But it’s more than a month since M.

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. And turning to Marguerite, she said: “You will, I am sure, excuse this disorder, my dear child. By this time to-morrow the room shall be transformed into one of those dainty nests of muslin and flowers which young girls delight in.” Connected with this apartment, which was known to the household as the lieutenant’s room, there was a much smaller chamber lighted only by a single window, and originally intended for a dressing-room. It had two doors, one of them communicating with Marguerite’s room, and the other with the passage; and it was now offered to Madame Leon, who on comparing these quarters with the spacious suite of rooms she had occupied at the Hotel de Chalusse, had considerable difficulty in repressing a grimace. Still she did not hesitate nor even murmur.

de Valorsay’s orders bound her to Marguerite, and she deemed it fortunate that she was allowed to follow her. And whether the marquis succeeded or not, he had promised her a sufficiently liberal reward to compensate for all personal discomfort. So, in the sweetest of voices, and with a feigned humility of manner, she declared this little room to be even much too good for a poor widow whose misfortunes had compelled her to abdicate her position in society. The attentions which M.

and Madame de Fondege showed her contributed not a little to her resignation. 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. Now her “dear child” had declared her to be a trusted friend, who was indispensable to her existence and comfort. “So these people will pay assiduous court to me,” she thought. 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. Mademoiselle Marguerite raised a few objections, which Madame Leon answered with a venomous look, but Madame de Fondege insisted upon the arrangement, not understanding, she said, graciously, why they need deprive themselves of the society of such an agreeable and distinguished person. 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 there were evidently many little mysteries and make-shifts to be concealed in this household.

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. What were they talking about? She listened without any compunctions of conscience, and the words “a pair of sheets,” repeated again and again, furnished her with abundant food for reflection. “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. She had improvised it, as her husband had improvised his title of General, and without much more difficulty. 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. However, people who had not known her father, the wood merchant, saw nothing impossible in the statements. Evariste was dressed as a butler should be dressed when he announces dinner to a person of rank. In the daytime when he discharged the duties of footman, he was gorgeous in gold lace; but in the evening, he arrayed himself in severe black, such as is appropriate to the butler of an aristocratic household.

Immediately after his announcement everybody repaired to the sumptuous dining-room which, with its huge side-boards, loaded with silver and rare china, looked not unlike a museum. 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. However, the dinner was badly cooked and poorly served. One might have supposed it to be a scullery maid’s first attempt. Still the General devoured it with delight. He partook ravenously of every dish, a flush rose to his cheeks, and an expression of profound satisfaction was visible upon his countenance.

“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. He twirled his mustaches a la Victor Emmanuel, and rolled his “r,” as he said, “Sacr-r-r-r-r-e bleu!” even more ferociously than usual. 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. Crimson with anger to the very roots of her coarse, sandy hair--amazed to see her husband deport himself in this style, and almost suffocated by the necessity of restraining her wrath, Madame de Fondege was heroic enough to smile, though her eyes flashed ominously.

But the General was not at all dismayed. 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. So with a malicious smile, and in a drawling tone, he replied: “Then monsieur must give me the money. Monsieur knows very well that neither the grocer nor the wine-merchant will trust him any longer.” M. de Fondege rose from the table, looking very pale; but before he had time to utter a word, his wife came to the rescue. “You know, my dear, that I don’t trust the key of my cellar to this lad. Evariste, call Justine.” The pert-looking chambermaid appeared, and her mistress told her where she would find the key of the famous cellar. About a quarter of an hour afterward, one of those bottles which grocers and wine-merchants prepare for the benefit of credulous customers was brought in--a bottle duly covered with dust and mould to give it a venerable appearance, and festooned with cobwebs, such as the urchins of Paris collect and sell at from fifteen sous to two francs a pound, according to quality. But the Bordeaux did not restore the General’s equanimity. He was silent and subdued; and his relief was evident when, after the coffee had been served, his wife exclaimed: “We won’t keep you from your club, my dear.

I want a chat with our dear child.” Since she dismissed the General so unceremoniously, Madame de Fondege evidently wished for a tete-a-tete with Mademoiselle Marguerite.

At least Madame Leon thought so, or feigned to think so, and addressing the young girl, she said: “I shall be obliged to leave you for a couple of hours, my dear young lady. 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. However, Mademoiselle Marguerite evinced no surprise.

“Go at once and inform your relatives, my dear Leon,” she said, without a shade of sarcasm in her manner. “I hope they won’t be offended by your devotion to me.” But in her secret heart, she thought: “This hypocrite is going to report to the Marquis de Valorsay, and these relatives of hers will furnish her with excuses for future visits to him.” The General went off, the servants began to clear the table, and Mademoiselle Marguerite followed her hostess to the drawing-room. It was a lofty and spacious apartment, lighted by three windows, and even more sumptuous in its appointments than the dining-room.

Furniture, carpets, and hangings, were all in rather poor taste, perhaps, but costly, very costly.

As the evening was a cold one, Madame de Fondege ordered the fire to be lighted.

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 mean, have you decided what dresses you will purchase? It is an important matter, my dear--more important than you suppose. They are making costumes entirely of crepe now, puffed and plaited, and extremely stylish. 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. The Duchess de Veljo wore one only eleven days after her husband’s death; and she allowed some of her hair, which is superb, to fall over her shoulders, a la pleureuse, and the effect was extremely touching.” Was Madame de Fondege speaking sincerely? Her features, which had been distorted with anger when the General took it into his head to order the bottle of Bordeaux, had regained their usual placidity of expression, and had even brightened a little. “I am entirely at your service, my dear, if you wish any shopping done,” she continued.

“And if you are not quite pleased with your dressmaker, I will take you to mine, who works like an angel. But how absurd I am. You will of course employ Van Klopen. I go to him occasionally myself, but only on great occasions. Between you and me, I think him a trifle too high in his charges.” Mademoiselle Marguerite could scarcely repress a smile. “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!

You, the daughter of a man who possessed an income of five or six hundred thousand francs a year! Still I know that poor M. de Chalusse, though unquestionably a very worthy and excellent man, was peculiar in some of his ideas.” “Excuse me, madame. What I did, I did for my own pleasure.” But this assertion exceeded Madame de Fondege’s powers of comprehension. 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. “I was probably not a very close follower of the fashions,” she replied.

“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. You must have your new dresses made in quite a different way.” “But I already have more dresses than I need, madame.” “What! black dresses?” “I seldom wear anything but black.” Evidently her hostess had never heard anything like this before. all right,” said she, “these dresses will doubtless do very well for your first months of mourning--but afterward? 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? Good heavens! 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. “I was very happy there, madame,” she murmured. “You think so; but you will change your mind.

When one has never tasted real pleasure, one cannot realize how gloomy one’s life really is. No doubt, you were very unhappy alone with M. de Chalusse.” “Oh! madame----” “Tut! my dear, I know what I am talking about.

Wait until you have been introduced into society before you boast of the charms of solitude. Poor dear! I doubt if you have ever attended a ball in your whole life. I was sure of it, and you are twenty! Fortunately, I am here. I will take your mother’s place, and we will make up for lost time! Beautiful as you are, my child--for you are divinely beautiful--you will reign as a queen wherever you appear. Doesn’t that thought make that cold little heart of yours throb more quickly?

Ah! fetes and music, wonderful toilettes and the flashing of diamonds, the admiration of gentlemen, the envy of rivals, the consciousness of one’s own beauty, are these delights not enough to fill any woman’s life? It is intoxication, perhaps, but an intoxication which is happiness.” Was she sincere, or did she hope to dazzle this lonely girl, and then rule her through the tastes she might succeed in giving her? As is not unfrequently the case with callous natures, Madame de Fondege was a compound of frankness and cunning. What she was saying now she really meant; and as it was to her interest to say it, she urged her opinions boldly and even eloquently. Twenty-four hours earlier, proud and truthful Marguerite would have silenced her at once. 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. “Besides,” continued Madame de Fondege, “a marriageable young girl should never shut herself up like a nun.

She will never find a husband if she remains at home--and she must marry. Indeed, marriage is a sensible woman’s only object in life, since it is her emancipation.” Was Madame de Fondege going to plead her son’s cause? Mademoiselle Marguerite almost believed it--but the lady was too shrewd for that. She took good care not to mention as much as Lieutenant Gustave’s name. “The season will certainly be unusually brilliant,” she said, “and it will begin very early. On the fifth of November, the Countess de Commarin will give a superb fete; all Paris will be there. On the seventh, there will be a ball at the house of the Viscountess de Bois d’Ardon. 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! and you have been living in Paris for years.

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 will introduce you to her.” Having once started on this theme, Madame de Fondege was not easily silenced. It was evidently her ambition to be considered a woman of the world, and to be acquainted with all the leaders of fashionable society; and, in fact, if one listened to her conversation for an hour one could learn all the gossip of the day.

Though she was unable to interest herself in this tittle-tattle, Marguerite was pretending to listen to it with profound attention when the drawing-room door suddenly opened and Evariste appeared with an impudent smile on his face. “Madame Landoire, the milliner, is here, and desires to speak with Madame la Comtesse,” he said.

On hearing this name, Madame de Fondege started as if she had been stung by a viper. “Let her wait,” she said quickly. “I will see her in a moment.” The order was useless, for the visitor was already on the threshold. She was a tall, dark-haired, ill-mannered woman. “Ah! I’ve found you at last,” she said, rudely, “and I’m not sorry. This is the fourth time I’ve come here with my bill.” Madame de Fondege pointed to Mademoiselle Marguerite, and exclaimed: “Wait, at least, until I am alone before you speak to me on business.” Madame Landoire shrugged her shoulders. “As if you were ever alone,” she growled. “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. After receiving a maternal kiss from her hostess, accompanied by a “sleep well, my dear child,” she retired to her own room.

Thanks to Madame Leon’s absence, she found herself alone, and, drawing a blotting-pad from one of her trunks, she hastily wrote a note to M. 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 did not succeed in finding the Marquis de Valorsay,” thought Marguerite, “and being in doubt as to the part she is to play, she feels furious.” The young girl tried to sum up the impressions of the evening, and to decide upon a plan of conduct, but she felt sad and very weary. 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. But before she fell asleep she was able to collect another bit of evidence. 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? But from her earliest childhood Marguerite had studied the difficult science of real life under the best of teachers--misfortune.

Cast upon her own resources at the age of thirteen, she had learned to look upon everybody and everything with distrust; and by relying only on herself, she had become strangely cautious and clear-sighted. She knew how to watch and how to listen, how to deliberate and how to act. Two men, the Marquis de Valorsay and M. de Fondege’s son, coveted her hand; and one of the two, the marquis, so she believed, was capable of any crime.

Still she felt no fears. She had been in danger once before when she was little more than a child, when the brother of her employer insulted her with his attentions, but she had escaped unharmed. Deceit was certainly most repugnant to her truth-loving nature; but it was the only weapon of defence she possessed. And so on the following day she carefully studied the abode of her entertainers. And certainly the study was instructive.

The General’s household was truly Parisian in character; or, at least, it was what a Parisian household inevitably becomes when its inmates fall a prey to the constantly increasing passion for luxury and display, to the furore for aping the habits and expenditure of millionaires, and to the noble and elevated desire of humiliating and outshining their neighbors. Ease, health, and comfort had been unscrupulously sacrificed to show. The dining-room was magnificent, the drawing-room superb; but these were the only comfortably furnished apartments in the establishment. The other rooms were bare and desolate. 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. On the other hand, her bed had no curtains. The aspect of the place fittingly explained the habits and manners of the inmates.

What sinister fears must have haunted them! 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. “And they keep three servants,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite--“three enemies who spend their time in ridiculing them, and torturing their vanity.” Thus, on the very first day after her arrival, she realized the real situation of the General and his wife. They were certainly on the verge of ruin when Mademoiselle Marguerite accepted their hospitality. Everything went to prove this: the coachman’s insolent demand, the servants’ impudence, the grocer’s refusal to furnish a single bottle of wine on credit, the milliner’s persistence, and, lastly, the new sheets on the visitors’ beds. “Yes,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite to herself, “the Fondeges were ruined when I came here. They would never have sunk so low if they had not been utterly destitute of resources. So, if they rise again, if money and credit come back again, then the old magistrate is right--they have obtained possession of the Chalusse millions!” IX On this side, at least, Mademoiselle Marguerite had no very wide field of investigation to explore.

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. It was a matter of close attention, and of infinitesimal trifles. Nor was she much encouraged by her first success.

It was, perhaps, important; and yet it might be nothing.

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. Even then it would remain for her to discover how he had obtained possession of this money. And when she had succeeded in doing this, would her task be ended? Certainly not. She must obtain sufficient evidence to give her the right of accusing the General openly, and in the face of every one. She must have material and indisputable proofs before she could say: “A robbery has been committed. I was accused of it. I was innocent.

Here is the culprit!” What a long journey must be made before this goal was reached! No matter! 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. de Fondege had asked her hand for his son up to the present moment. 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? “They are mad,” she thought, “or else they must deem me blind, deaf, and more stupid than mortal ever was!” Secondly, why should they be so anxious to marry her to their son, Lieutenant Gustave? This also was a puzzling question.

However, she was fully decided on one point: the suspicions of the Fondege family must not be aroused. 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. But the events of the next few days dispelled these apprehensions. That very afternoon, although it was Sunday, it became evident that a shower of gold had fallen on the General’s abode.

The door-bell rang incessantly for several hours, and an interminable procession of tradesmen entered. It looked very much as if M. de Fondege had called a meeting of his creditors. They came in haughty and arrogant, with their hats upon their heads, and surly of speech, like people who have made up their minds to accept their loss, but who intend to pay themselves in rudeness. They were ushered into the drawing-room where the General was holding his levee; they remained there from five to ten minutes, and then, bowing low with hat in hand, they retired with radiant countenances, and an obsequious smile on their lips. So they had been paid. 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.

Madame de Fondege received him very haughtily. “Ah! here you are!” she exclaimed, rudely, as soon as he appeared. “So you are the man who teaches his drivers to insult his customers? That is an excellent way to gain patronage. What! I hire a one-horse carriage from you by the month, and because I happen to wish for a two-horse vehicle for a single day, you make me pay the difference. You should demand payment in advance if you are so suspicious.” The stable-keeper, who had a bill for nearly four thousand francs in his pocket, stood listening with the air of a man who is meditating some crushing reply; but she did not give him time to deliver it.

“When I have cause to complain of the people I employ, I dismiss them and replace them by others. Insolence is one of those things that I never forgive. Give me your bill.” The man, in whose face doubt, fear, and hope had succeeded each other in swift succession, thereupon drew an interminable bill from his pocket. And when he saw the bank-notes, when he saw the bill paid without dispute or even examination, he was seized with a wondering respect, and his voice became sweeter than honey. They say the payment of a bad debt delights a merchant a thousand times more than the settlement of fifty good ones. The truth of this assertion became apparent in the present case. 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. However, this creditor’s abnegation did not extend so far; still he did entreat Madame la Comtesse not to leave him on account of a blunder--for it was a blunder--he swore it on his children’s heads. His coachman was only a fool and a drunkard, who had misunderstood him entirely, and whom he should ignominiously dismiss on returning to his establishment. But “Madame la Comtesse” was inflexible.

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. Mademoiselle Marguerite did not see him again.

Dinner was served by a new servant, who had been sent by an Employment Office, and engaged without a question, no doubt because Evariste’s livery fitted him like a glove. Had the cook also been replaced? Mademoiselle Marguerite thought so, though she had no means of convincing herself on this point. It was certain, however, that the Sunday dinner was utterly unlike that of the evening before. Quality had replaced quantity, and care, profusion. It was not necessary to send to the cellar for a bottle of Chateau-Laroze; it made its appearance at the proper moment, warmed to the precise degree of temperature, and seemed quite to the taste of excellent Madame Leon. 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. “I feel quite at home here,” said she; “and though my room is a trifle small, I shall have nothing to wish for when it has been refurnished.” Mademoiselle Marguerite spent a restless and uncomfortable night. In spite of her reason, in spite of the convincing proofs she had seen, the most disturbing doubts returned. Might she not have judged the situation with a prejudiced mind? Had the Fondeges really been as reduced in circumstances as she supposed?

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. de Chalusse’s former agent might succeed in finding Pascal Ferailleur. Fortunat must have received her letter by this time: he would undoubtedly expect her on Tuesday, and it only remained for her to invent some excuse which would give her a couple of hours’ liberty without awakening suspicion. She rose early the next morning, and had almost completed her toilette, when she heard some one in the passage outside rapping at the door of Madame Leon’s room. “Who’s there?” inquired that worthy lady. It was Justine, Madame de Fondege’s maid, who answered in a pert voice, “Here is a letter, madame, which has just been sent up by the concierge. It is addressed to Madame Leon. That is your name, is it not?” Marguerite staggered as if she had received a heavy blow.

a letter from the Marquis de Valorsay!” she thought. 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.

And Marguerite heard her say to the servant in her sweetest voice: “A thousand thanks, my child! Ah! this is a great relief, I have heard from my brother-in-law at last. I recognize his hand-writing.” And then the door closed again. 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!

If she had followed her first impulse, she would have rushed into Madame Leon’s room and have snatched the letter from her hands. 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. If she could only watch Madame Leon as she read the letter, and gain some information from the expression of her face; but this seemed impossible, for the keyhole was blocked up by the key, which had been left in the lock on the other side. 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. So she approached the spot on tiptoe, and, with bated breath, stooped and looked in. In her impatience to learn the contents of her letter, Madame Leon had not gone back to bed. She had broken the seal, and was reading the missive, standing barefooted in her night-dress, directly opposite the little crevice.

She read line after line, and word after word, and her knitted brows and compressed lips suggested deep concentration of thought mingled with discontent. At last she shrugged her shoulders, muttered a few inaudible words, and laid the open letter upon the rickety chest of drawers, which, with two chairs and a bed, constituted the entire furniture of her apartment. “My God!” exclaimed Marguerite, with bated breath, “if she would only forget it!” But she did not forget it. She began to dress, and when she had finished she read the letter again, and then placed it carefully in one of the drawers, which she locked, putting the key in her pocket. “I shall never know, then,” thought Marguerite; “no, I shall never know. But I must know--and I will!” she added vehemently. 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. “I’m sure I could find in it the explanation of the abominable intrigue which Pascal and I are the victims of.” Happily, her preoccupation was not remarked.

Each person present was too deeply engrossed in his or her own concerns to notice the behavior of the others. Madame Leon’s mind was occupied with the news she had just received; and, besides, her attention was considerably attracted by some partridges garnished with truffles, and a bottle of Chateau-Laroze.

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. Besides, he expected to get the animals at a bargain, as they were the property of a young gentleman who had been led to commit certain misdemeanors by his love of gambling and his passion for a notorious woman who was addicted with an insatiable desire for jewelry. As for Madame de Fondege, her head seemed to have been completely turned by the prospect of the approaching fete at the Countess de Commarin’s. She had only a fortnight left to make her preparations. 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. And at the cost of a terrible headache, she had at last conceived one of those toilettes which are sure to make a sensation, and which the newspaper reporters will mention as noticeable for its “chic.” “Picture to yourself,” she said, all ablaze with enthusiasm, “picture to yourself a robe of tea-flower silk, trimmed with bands of heavy holland-tinted satin, thickly embroidered with flowers.

A wide flounce of Valenciennes at the bottom of the skirt. Over this, I shall wear a tunic of pearl-gray crepe, edged with a fringe of the various shades in the dress, and forming a panier behind.” But how much trouble, time and labor must be expended before such an elaborate chef-d’oeuvre could be completed! How many conferences with the dressmaker, with the florist, and the embroiderer!

How many doubts, how many inevitable mistakes! Ah! there was not a moment to lose! Madame de Fondege, who was dressed to go out, and who had already sent for a carriage, insisted that Mademoiselle Marguerite should accompany her. And certainly, the General’s wife deemed the proposal a seductive one. It is a very fashionable amusement to run from one shop to another, even when one cannot, or will not, buy. It is a custom, which some noble ladies have imported from America, to the despair of the poor shopkeepers. And thus every fine afternoon, the swell shops are filled to overflowing with richly-attired dames and damsels, who ask to see all the new goods. It is far more amusing than remaining at home. And when they return to dinner in the evening, after inspecting hundreds of yards of silk and satin, they are very well pleased with themselves, for they have not lost the day.

Nor do the shrewdest always return from these expeditions empty-handed. A dozen gloves or a piece of lace can be hidden so easily in the folds of a mantle! And yet, to Madame de Fondege’s great surprise, Marguerite declined the invitation. “I have so many things to put in order,” she added, feeling that an excuse was indispensable. But Madame Leon, who had not the same reasons as her dear child for wishing to remain at home, kindly offered her services.

She was acquainted with several of the best shops, she declared, particularly with the establishment of a dealer in laces, in the Rue de Mulhouse, and thanks to an introduction from her, Madame de Fondege could not fail to conclude a very advantageous bargain there. “Very well,” replied Madame de Fondege, “I will take you with me, then; but make haste and dress while I put on my bonnet.” They left the breakfast-room at the same time, closely followed by Mademoiselle Marguerite, who was disturbed by a hope which she scarcely dared confess to herself.

With her forehead resting against the wall, and her eye peering through the tiny crack, she watched her governess change her dress, throw a shawl over her shoulders, put on her best bonnet, and, after a glance at the looking-glass, rush from the room, exclaiming: “Here I am, my dear countess. I’m ready.” And a few moments afterward they left the house together. As the outer door closed after them, Marguerite’s brain whirled.

If she were not deceived, Madame Leon had left the key of the drawers in the pocket of the dress she had just taken off. So it was with a wildly throbbing heart that she opened the communicating door and entered her “companion’s” room. She hastily approached the bed on which the dress was lying, and, with a trembling hand, she began to search for the pocket. Fortune favored her! The key was there. The letter was within her reach. But she was about to do a deed against which her whole nature revolted.

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.

At last the instinct of self-preservation overpowered her scruples.

Was not her honor, and Pascal’s honor also, at stake--as well as their mutual love and happiness?

“It would be folly to hesitate.” she murmured. And with a firm hand she placed the key in the lock. The latter was out of order and the drawer was only opened with difficulty. But there, on some clothes which Madame Leon had not yet found time to arrange, Marguerite saw the letter. She eagerly snatched it up, unfolded it, and read: “Dear Madame Leon--” “Dear me,” she muttered, “here is the name in full. 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.

All this talk about anxious relatives had only been an excuse invented by Madame Leon to enable her to absent herself whenever occasion required. “I regret,” continued the letter, “that you did not find me at home, for I have instructions of the greatest importance to give you. We are approaching the decisive moment. I have formed a plan which will completely, and forever, efface all remembrance of that cursed P. F., in case any one condescended to think of him after the disgrace we fastened upon him the other evening at the house of Madame d’Argeles.” P. F.--these initials of course meant Pascal Ferailleur. Then he was innocent, and she held an undeniable, irrefutable proof of his innocence in her hands.

How coolly and impudently Valorsay confessed his atrocious crime! “A bold stroke is in contemplation which, if no unfortunate and well-nigh impossible accident occur, will throw the girl into my arms.” Marguerite shuddered. “Thanks to the assistance of one of my friends,” added the letter “I can place this proud damsel in a perilous, terribly perilous position, from which she cannot possibly extricate herself unaided. But, just as she gives herself up for lost, I shall interpose. I shall save her; and it will be strange if gratitude does not work the necessary miracle in my favor. The plan is certain to succeed. Still, it will be all the better if the physician who attended M. de C---- in his last moments, and whom you spoke to me about (Dr. Jodon, if I remember rightly), will consent to lend us a helping hand.

What kind of a man is he? If he is accessible to the seductive influence of a few thousand francs, I shall consider the business as good as concluded. Your conduct up to the present time has been a chef-d’oeuvre, for which you shall be amply compensated. You have cause to know that I am not ungrateful. Let the F’s continue their intrigues, and even pretend to favor them. I am not afraid of these people. I understand their game perfectly, and know why they wish my little one to marry their son. But when they become troublesome, I shall crush them like glass.

In spite of these explanations, which I have just given you for your guidance, it is very necessary that I should see you. I shall look for you on Tuesday afternoon, between three and four o’clock. Above all, don’t fail to bring me the desired information respecting Dr. I am, my dear madame, devotedly yours--V.” Below ran a postscript which read as follows: “When you come on Tuesday bring this letter with you. 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. The reality surpassed her worst apprehensions, but realizing the gravity of the situation, she shook off the torpor stealing over her. She felt that every second was precious, and that she must act, and act at once.

But what should she do? Simply return the letter to its place, and continue to act the role of a dupe, as if nothing had happened? No; that must not be. It would be madness not to seize this flagrant proof of the Marquis de Valorsay’s infamy. But on the other hand, if she kept the letter, Madame Leon would immediately discover its loss, and an explanation would be unavoidable. de Valorsay would be worsted, but not annihilated, and the plans which made the physician’s intervention a necessity would never be revealed.

She thought of hastening to her friend the old magistrate; but he lived a long way off, and time was pressing. Besides she might not find him at home. Then she thought of going to a notary, to a judge. She would show them the letter, and they could take a copy of it. But no--this would do no good--the marquis could still deny it. She was becoming desperate, and was accusing herself of stupidity, when a sudden inspiration illumined her mind, turning night into day, as it were.

“Oh, Pascal, we are saved!” she exclaimed.

And without pausing to deliberate any longer, she threw a mantle over her shoulders, hastily tied on her bonnet, and hurried from the house, without saying a word to any one. Unfortunately she was not acquainted with this part of Paris, and on reaching the Rue Pigalle she was at a loss for her way. 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.

“You have only to go down the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette,” he replied, “and on the left-hand side, at the foot of the hill, you will find the photographer Carjat.” “Thank you.” The grocer stepped to the door to watch her. “That girl’s certainly light-headed,” he thought. Her demeanor was really so extraordinary that it attracted the attention of the passers-by.

She saw this, and slackening her pace, tried to become more composed. At the spot the grocer had indicated, she perceived several show frames filled with photographs hanging on either side of a broad, open gateway, above which ran the name, “E. Carjat.” She went in, and seeing a man standing at the door of an elegant pavilion on the right-hand side of a large courtyard, she approached him, and asked for his employer. “He is here,” replied the man. “Does madame come for a photograph?” “Yes.” “Then will madame be so kind as to pass in. She will not be obliged to wait long. There are only four or five persons before her.” Four or five persons! How long would she be obliged to wait?--half an hour--two hours? She had not the slightest idea. 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.

“I cannot wait,” she said, imperiously. “I must speak to M. Carjat at once.” “But----” “At once, I tell you. 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.

He ushered her into a little sitting-room, and said, “If madame will take a seat, I will call monsieur.” She sank on to a chair, for her limbs were failing her. She was beginning to realize the strangeness of the step she had taken--to fear the result it might lead to--and to be astonished at her own boldness. But she had no time to prepare what she wished to say, for a man of five-and-thirty, wearing a mustache and imperial, and clad in a velvet coat, entered the room, and bowing with an air of surprise, exclaimed: “You desire to speak with me, madame?” “I have a great favor to ask of you, monsieur.” “Of me?” She drew M. de Valorsay’s letter from her pocket, and, showing it to the photographer, she said, “I have come to you, monsieur, to ask you to photograph this letter--but at once--before me--and quickly--very quickly. The honor of two persons is imperilled by each moment I lose here.” Mademoiselle Marguerite’s embarrassment was extreme. Her cheeks were crimson, and she trembled like a leaf. Still her attitude was proud, generous enthusiasm glowed in her dark eyes, and her tone of voice revealed the serenity of a lofty soul ready to dare anything for a just and noble cause. This striking contrast--this struggle between girlish timidity and a lover’s virgil energy, endowed her with a strange and powerful charm, which the photographer made no attempt to resist. Unusual as was the request, he did not hesitate.

“I am ready to do what you desire, madame,” he replied, bowing again. monsieur, how can I ever thank you?” He did not stop to listen to her thanks. Not wishing to return to the reception-room, where five or six clients were impatiently awaiting their turn, he called one of his subordinates, and ordered him to bring the necessary apparatus at once. While he was speaking, Mademoiselle Marguerite paused; but, as soon as his instructions were concluded, she remarked: “Perhaps you are too hasty, sir. You have not allowed me to explain; and perhaps what I desire is impossible. I came on the impulse of the moment, without any knowledge on the subject. 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. It was as she had thought; the defensive plan which she had suddenly conceived was a good one. “I am only a poor, ignorant girl: excuse me, and give me the benefit of your knowledge. This letter will be returned to its author to-morrow, and he will burn it.

But afterward, in case of any difficulty--in case of a law-suit--or in case it should be necessary for me to prove certain things which one might establish by means of this letter, would one of your photographs be admitted as evidence?” The photographer did not answer for a moment. Now he understood Mademoiselle Marguerite’s motive, and the importance she attached to a facsimile. But this imparted an unexpected gravity to the service he was called upon to perform. He therefore wished some time for reflection, and he scrutinized Mademoiselle Marguerite as if he were trying to read her very soul. 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? In whom, or in what, could he trust if such a countenance deceived him? “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. When all was ready, the photographer asked her, “Will you give me the letter, madame?” She hesitated for a second--only for a second. 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. He took pity on her, and his last doubt fled. “I shall read this letter, madame,” said he, “but I am the only person who will read it. I give you my word on that! No one but myself will see the proofs.” Greatly moved, she offered him her hand, and simply said, “Thanks; I am more than repaid.” To obtain an absolutely perfect facsimile of a letter is a delicate and sometimes lengthy operation. However, at the end of about twenty minutes, the photographer possessed two negatives that promised him perfect proofs. He looked at them with a satisfied air; and then returning the letter to Mademoiselle Marguerite, he said, “In less than three days the facsimiles will be ready, madame; and if you will tell me to what address I ought to send them----” She trembled on hearing these words, and quickly answered, “Don’t send them, sir--keep them carefully.

Great heavens!

all would be lost if it came to the knowledge of any one. I will send for them, or come myself.” And, feeling the extent of her obligation, she added, “But I will not go without introducing myself--I am Mademoiselle Marguerite de Chalusse.” And, thereupon, she went off, leaving the photographer surprised at the adventure and dazzled by his strange visitor’s beauty. Rather more than an hour had elapsed since Marguerite left M. “How time flies!” she murmured, quickening her pace as much as she could without exciting remark--“how time flies!” But, hurried as she was, she stopped and spent five minutes at a shop in the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette where she purchased some black ribbon and a few other trifles.

How else could she explain and justify her absence, if the servants, who had probably discovered she had gone out, chanced to speak of it? But her heart throbbed as if it would burst as she ascended the General’s staircase, and anxiety checked her breathing as she rang the bell. “What if Madame de Fondege and Madame Leon had returned, and the abstraction of the letter been discovered!” Fortunately, Madame de Fondege required more than an hour to purchase the materials for the elaborate toilette she had dreamt of.

The ladies were still out, and Mademoiselle Marguerite found everything in the same condition as she had left it. She carefully placed the letter in the drawer again, locked it, and put the key in the pocket of Madame Leon’s dress. Then she breathed freely once more; and, for the first time in six days, she felt something very like joy in her heart. Now she had no fear of the Marquis de Valorsay. She had him in her power. He would destroy his letter the next day, and think that he was annihilating all proofs of his infamy. At the decisive moment, at the very moment of his triumph, she would produce the photograph of this letter, and crush him. And she--only a young girl--had outwitted this consummate scoundrel! “I have not been unworthy of Pascal,” she said to herself, with a flash of pride. However, her nature was not one of those weak ones which are become intoxicated by the first symptom of success, and then relax in their efforts.

When her excitement had abated a little, she was inclined to disparage rather than to exaggerate the advantage she had gained. What she desired was a complete, startling, incontestable victory. It was not enough to prove Valorsay’s GUILT--she was resolved to penetrate his designs, to discover why he pursued her so desperately. 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. “Thanks to the assistance of one of my friends,” he wrote, “I can place this proud girl in a perilous, terribly perilous, position, from which she cannot possibly extricate herself unaided.” These words persistently lingered in Mademoiselle Marguerite’s mind. What was the danger hanging over her?

and in what form? What abominable machination might she not expect from the villain who had deliberately dishonored Pascal? How would he attack her? Would he strive to ruin her reputation, or did he intend to forcibly abduct her? Would he attempt to decoy her into a trap where she would be subjected to the insults of the vilest wretches? A thousand frightful memories of the time when she was an apprentice drove her nearly frantic. “I will never go out unarmed,” she thought, “and woe to the man who raises his hand against me!” The vagueness of the threat increased her fears. No one is courageous enough to confront an unknown, mysterious, and always imminent danger without sometimes faltering. Nor was this all. The marquis was not her only enemy.

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. What was 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. At this thought a sudden terror seized her soul, so full of peace and hope an instant before. When she was attacked, would she have time to produce and use the facsimile of Valorsay’s letter? “I must reveal my secret to a friend--to a trusty friend--who will avenge me!” she muttered. Fortunately she had a friend in whom she could safely confide--the old magistrate who had given her such proofs of sympathy.

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. So she drew her writing-case from her trunk, and, after barricading her door to prevent a surprise, she wrote her friend an account of the events which had taken place since their last interview. 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 finished her letter, but did not seal it.

“If anything should happen before I have an opportunity to post it, I will add a postscript,” she said to herself. She had made all possible haste, fearing that Madame de Fondege and Madame Leon might return at any moment. But this was truly a chimerical apprehension. It was nearly six o’clock when the two shoppers made their appearance, wearied with the labors of the day, but in fine spirits.

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 was one of those opportunities one ought always to profit by,” she said, as she displayed her purchase. “Besides, it is the same with lace as with diamonds, you should purchase them when you can--then you have them. It isn’t an outlay--it’s an investment.” Subtle reasoning that has cost many a husband dear! On her side, Madame Leon proudly showed her dear young lady a very pretty present which Madame de Fondege had given her. “So money is no longer lacking in this household,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite, all the more confirmed in her suspicions. 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. He too was quite tired out; and he had reason to be fatigued.

First, he had purchased the horses belonging to the ruined spendthrift, and he had paid five thousand francs for them, a mere trifle for such animals.

Less than an hour after the purchase he had refused almost double that amount from a celebrated connoisseur in horse-flesh, M. de Breulh-Faverlay. 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. “So,” remarked his friend, “if you bought such a horse every day, you would make three hundred and sixty-five thousand francs a year.” Was this only a jest--one of those witticisms which people who boast of wonderful bargains must expect to parry, or had the remark a more serious meaning?

Marguerite could not determine. One thing is certain, the General did not lose his temper, but gayly continued his account of the way in which he had spent his time. 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. He had, moreover, hired stabling in the Rue Pigalle, only a few steps from the house, and he expected a coachman and a groom the following morning. “And all this will cost us less than the miserable vehicle we have been hiring by the year,” observed Madame de Fondege, gravely. “Oh, I know what I say. What with gratuities and extras, it costs us now fully a thousand francs a month, and three horses and a coachman won’t cost you more. And what a difference! I shall no longer be obliged to blush for the skinny horses the stable-keeper sends me, nor to endure the insolence of his men.

The first outlay frightened me a little; but that is made now, and I am delighted.

We will save it in something else.” “In laces, no doubt,” thought Mademoiselle Marguerite. She was intensely exasperated, and on regaining her chamber she said to herself, for the tenth time, “What do they take me for? 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. S.--It is impossible to retain the shadow of a doubt, M. and Madame de Fondege have spent certainly twenty thousand francs to-day. This audacity must arise from a conviction that no proofs of the crime they have committed exist. Still they continue to talk to me about their son, Lieutenant Gustave. To-morrow, also, between three and four, I shall be at the house of a man who can perhaps discover Pascal’s hiding-place for me,--the house of M. Isidore Fortunat.

I hope to make my escape easily enough, for at that same hour, Madame Leon has an appointment with the Marquis de Valorsay.” X. The old legend of Achilles’s heel will be eternally true. A man may be humble or powerful, feeble or strong, but there are none of us without some weak spot in our armor, a spot vulnerable beyond all others, a certain place where wounds prove most dangerous and painful. Isidore Fortunat’s weak place was his cash-box. To attack him there was to endanger his life--to wound him at a point where all his sensibility centred.

For it was in this cash-box and not in his breast that his heart really throbbed. His safe made him happy or dejected. Happy when it was filled to overflowing by some brilliant operation, and dejected when he saw it become empty as some imprudent transaction failed. This then explains his frenzy on that ill-fated Sunday, when, after being brutally dismissed by M. Wilkie, he returned to his rooms in the company of his clerk, Victor Chupin. This explains, too, the intensity of the hatred he now felt for the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth. The former, the marquis, had defrauded him of forty thousand francs in glittering gold. 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. And he had not only been defrauded and swindled--such were his own expressions--but he had been tricked, deceived, duped, and outwitted, and by whom?

By people who did not make it their profession to be shrewd, like he did himself. Just fancy, his business was to outwit others, and a couple of mere amateurs had outgeneraled him. He had not only suffered in pocket, he had been humiliated as well, and so he indulged in threats of such terrible import. However, at the very moment when he was dreaming of wreaking vengeance on the Marquis de Valorsay and the Viscount de Coralth, his housekeeper, austere Madame Dodelin, handed him Mademoiselle Marguerite’s letter. 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. He perceived this, and angrily exclaimed: “What are you doing here? You are watching me, I do believe.

Get back to your kitchen, or----” She fled in alarm, and he then entered his private office. His heart was leaping with joy, and he laughed wickedly at the hope of a speedy revenge.

“She’s on the scent,” he muttered; “and she has luck in her favor. 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. Just as I was thinking of going in search of her, she comes to me. As I was about to write to her, she writes to me. Who can deny the existence of Providence after this?” Like many other people, M.

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. “If she has any courage,” he resumed, “and she seems to have plenty of it, Valorsay and Coralth will be in a tight place soon. And if it takes ten thousand francs to put them there, and if neither Mademoiselle Marguerite nor M.

Ferailleur has the amount--ah, well! I’ll advance--well, at least five thousand--without charging them any commission. I’ll even pay the expenses out of my own pocket, if necessary.

Ah, my fine fellows, you’ve laughed too soon. In a week’s time we’ll see who laughs last.” He paused, for Victor Chupin, who had lingered behind to pay the driver, had just entered the room. “You gave me twenty francs, m’sieur,” he remarked to his employer. “I paid the driver four francs and five sous, here’s the change.” “Keep it yourself, Victor,” said M. Fortunat. What! keep fifteen francs and fifteen sous?

Under any other circumstances such unusual generosity would have drawn a grimace of satisfaction from young Chupin. But to-day he did not even smile; he slipped the money carelessly into his pocket, and scarcely deigned to say “thanks,” in the coldest possible tone. Absorbed in thought, M. Fortunat did not remark this little circumstance. “We have them, Victor,” he resumed.

“I told you that Valorsay and Coralth should pay me for their treason. Vengeance is near.

Read this letter.” Victor read it slowly, and as soon as he had finished his employer ejaculated, “Well?” But Chupin was not a person to give advice lightly.

“Excuse me, m’sieur,” said he, “but in order to answer you, I must have some knowledge of the affair. I only know what you’ve told me--which is little enough--and what I’ve guessed. In fact, I know nothing at all.” M.

Fortunat reflected for a moment. “You are right, Victor,” he said, at last.

“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. This will prove my great confidence in you.” Whereupon, he acquainted Chupin with everything he knew concerning the history of M. de Chalusse, the Marquis de Valorsay, and Mademoiselle Marguerite. However, if he expected these disclosures to elevate him in his subordinate’s estimation he was greatly mistaken. Chupin had sufficient experience and common sense to read his master’s character and discern his motives. 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. Still, the young fellow did not allow his real feelings to appear on his face. First, it was not his business to tell M.

Fortunat his opinion of him; and in the second place, he did not deem it an opportune moment for a declaration of his sentiments. 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. Do you want the particulars of the viscount’s past life? If so, I can furnish them. I know the brigand. He’s married, as I told you before, and I’ll find his wife for you in a few days. I don’t know exactly where she lives, but she keeps a tobacco store, somewhere, and that’s enough. She’ll tell you how much he’s a viscount. Ha! ha!

Viscount just as much as I am--and no more. I can tell you the scrapes he has been in.” “No doubt; but the most important thing is to know how he’s living now, and on what!” “Not by honest work, I can tell you. But give me a little time, and I’ll find out for sure.

As soon as I can go home, change my clothes, and disguise myself, I’ll start after him; and may I be hung, if I don’t return with a complete report before Tuesday.” A smile of satisfaction appeared on M. Fortunat’s face. “Good, Victor!” he said, approvingly, “very good!

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.

As long as you are engaged in this affair, you shall have ten francs a day; and I’ll pay your board, your cab-hire, and all your expenses.” This was a most liberal offer, and yet, far from seeming delighted, Chupin gravely shook his head. “You know how I value money, m’sieur,” he began.

“Too much, Victor, my boy, too much----” “Excuse me, it’s because I have responsibilities, m’sieur. You know my establishment”--he spoke this word with a grandiloquent air--“you have seen my good mother--my expenses are heavy----” “In short, you don’t think I offer you enough?” “On the contrary, sir--but you don’t allow me to finish. But no matter, I don’t want to be paid for this business. I don’t want either my board or my expenses, not a penny--nothing. I’ll serve you, but for my own sake, for my own pleasure--gratis.” M. Fortunat could not restrain an exclamation of astonishment. Chupin, who was as eager for gain as an old usurer--Chupin, as grasping as avarice itself, refuse money! This was something which he had never seen before, and which he would no doubt never see again.

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 have eight hundred francs hidden in my room, the fruit of years of work. 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. If a horrible vision haunted you every night, and prevented you from sleeping, wouldn’t you give something to get rid of it? that brigand’s my nightmare.

There must be an end to it.” M. de Coralth, who was a man of wide experience, would certainly have felt alarmed if he had seen his unknown enemy at the present moment, for Victor’s eyes, usually a pale and undecided blue, were glittering like steel, and his hands were clinched most threateningly. “For he was the cause of all my trouble,” he continued, gloomily.

“I’ve told you, sir, that I was guilty of an infamous deed once upon a time. If it hadn’t been for a miracle I should have killed a man--the king of men. Ah, well! if Monsieur Andre had broken his back by falling from a fifth-floor window, my Coralth would be the Duc de Champdoce to-day. And shall he be allowed to ride about in his carriage, and deceive and ruin honest people?

No--there are too many such villains at large for public safety. Wait a little, Coralth--I owe you something, and I always pay my debts. Andre saved me, though I richly deserved to have my throat cut, he made no conditions. He only said, ‘If you are not irredeemably bad you will be honest after this.’ And he said these words as he was lying there as pale as death with his shoulder broken, and his body mangled from his fall. Great heavens! I felt smaller than--than nothing before him. 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. All this is very absurd, perhaps, but I’m not ashamed of it. Andre and my good mother, they are my supports, my crutches, and with them I’m not afraid of making a false step.” Schebel, the German philosopher, who has written a treatise on Volition, in four volumes, was no greater a man than Chupin. “So you may keep your money, sir,” he resumed. “I’m an honest fellow, and honest men ought to ask no reward for the performance of a duty. Coralth mustn’t be allowed to triumph over the innocent chap he ruined. What did you call him? Ferailleur? It’s an odd name.

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. Fortunat felt no misgivings. He was sure that this volunteer would be of more service than the highest-priced hireling. “So I can count on you, Victor?” he inquired. “As upon yourself.” “And you hope to have some positive information by Tuesday?” “Before then, I hope, if nothing goes amiss.” “Very well; I will devote my attention to Ferailleur then. As to Valorsay’s affairs, I am better acquainted with them than he is himself.

We must be prepared to enter upon the campaign when Mademoiselle Marguerite comes, and we will act in accordance with her instructions.” Chupin had already caught up his hat; but just as he was leaving the room, he paused abruptly. “How stupid!” he exclaimed.

“I had forgotten the principal thing. Where does Coralth live?” “Unfortunately, I don’t know.” According to his habit when things did not go to his liking, Chupin began to scratch his head furiously. “That’s bad,” growled he. “Viscounts of his stamp don’t parade their addresses in the directory. Still, I shall find him.” However, although he expressed this conviction he went off decidedly out of temper. “I shall lose the entire evening hunting up the rascal’s address,” he grumbled, as he hastened homeward. “And whom shall I ask for it?--Madame d’Argeles’s concierge? Wilkie’s servant?

That would be dangerous.” He thought of roaming sound about M. de Valorsay’s residence, and of bribing one of the valets; but while crossing the boulevard, the sight of Brebant’s Restaurant put a new idea into his head. “I have it!” he muttered; “my man’s caught!” And he darted into the nearest cafe where he ordered some beer and writing materials. Under other circumstances, he would have hesitated to employ so hazardous an expedient as the one he was about to resort to, but the character of his adversaries justified any course; besides, time was passing, and he had no choice of resources. 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. When shall I have my revenge?

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.

In the rough draft which he penned at first, he had written bezique, but in the copy he wrote piquet, which he deemed a more aristocratic game. “However,” said he, “no one will examine it closely!” Then, as soon as the ink was dry, he folded the letter and slipped it into an envelope with a hundred franc-note which he drew from an old pocketbook. He next addressed the envelope as follows: “Monsieur le Vicomte de Coralth, En Ville,” and having completed his preparations, he paid his score, and hastened to Brebant’s.

Two waiters were standing at the doorway, and, showing them the letter, he politely asked: “Do you happen to know this name? A gentleman dropped this letter on leaving your place last evening. I ran after him to return it; but I couldn’t overtake him.” The waiters examined the address. “Coralth!” they replied. “We scarcely know him.

He isn’t a regular customer, but he comes here occasionally.” “And where does he live?” “Why do you wish to know?” “So as to take him this letter, to be sure!” The waiters shrugged their shoulders. “Let the letter go; it is not worth while to trouble yourself.” Chupin had foreseen this objection, and was prepared for it. “But there’s money in the letter,” he remonstrated. And opening the envelope, he showed the bank-note which he had taken from his own pocket-book. This changed the matter entirely. “That is quite a different thing,” remarked one of the waiters. “If you find money, you are, of course, responsible for it. But just leave it here at the desk, and the next time the viscount comes in, the cashier will give it to him.” A cold chill crept over Chupin at the thought of losing his bank-note in this way. “Ah!

I don’t fancy that idea!” he exclaimed. “Leave it here? Who’d get the reward? A viscount is always generous; it is quite likely he would give me twenty francs as a reward for my honesty. 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.

de Coralth’s address, and they saw no way of procuring it. “Unless perhaps the porter knows,” observed one of them. The porter, on being called, remembered that he had once been sent to M. de Coralth’s house for an overcoat. “I’ve forgotten his number,” he declared; “but he lives in the Rue d’Anjou, near the corner of the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque.” This direction was not remarkable for its precision, but it was more than sufficient for a pure-blooded Parisian like Victor Chupin. “Many thanks for your kindness,” he said to the porter. “A blind man, perhaps, might not be able to go straight to M. de Coralth’s house from your directions, but I have eyes and a tongue as well. 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. And he strode hurriedly away.

I thought for a moment they had their hands on my precious bank-note.” But he had already recovered from his fright, and as he turned his steps homeward he congratulated himself on the success of his stratagem.

“For my viscount is caught,” he said to himself. “The Rue d’Anjou Saint Honore hasn’t a hundred numbers in it, and even if I’m compelled to go from door to door, my task will soon be accomplished.” On reaching home he found his mother engaged in knitting, as usual. This was the only avocation that her almost complete blindness allowed her to pursue; and she followed it constantly. “Ah! here you are, Toto,” she exclaimed, joyously. Don’t you scent a savory smell? As you must be greatly tired after being up all night, I’m making you a stew.” As customary when he returned, Chupin embraced the good woman with the respectful tenderness which had so surprised M.

Fortunat. “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. “Always business!” she exclaimed. “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. Ah! do you think I can forget you and Monsieur Andre?” His mother said no more, and he entered the tiny nook which he so pompously styled his chamber, and quickly changed the clothes he was wearing (his Sunday toggery) for an old pair of checked trousers, a black blouse, and a glazed cap.

And when he had finished, and given a peculiar turn to his hair, no one would have recognized him. In place of M. Fortunat’s respectable clerk, there appeared one of those vagabonds who hang about cafes and theatres from six in the evening till midnight, and spend the rest of their time playing cards in the low drinking dens near the barrieres. It was the old Chupin come to life once more--Toto Chupin as he had appeared before his conversion. And as he took a last look in the little glass hanging over the table, he was himself astonished at the transformation. “Ah!” he muttered, “I was a sorry looking devil in those days.” Although he had cautiously avoided making any noise in dressing, his mother, with the wonderfully acute hearing of the blind, had followed each of his movements as surely as if she had been standing near watching him.

“You have changed your clothes, Toto,” she remarked. “Yes, mother.” “But why have you put on your blouse, my son?” Although accustomed to his mother’s remarkable quickness of perception, he was amazed. She would only have to extend her hand to prove that he was telling a falsehood. The blind woman’s usually placid face had become stern. “So it is necessary to disguise yourself,” she said, gravely. When a man doesn’t wish to be recognized, he’s evidently doing something he’s ashamed of. Ever since your employer came here, you have been concealing something from me. Take care, Toto! 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. Chupin did so with absolute frankness. “Ah, well!” she said, when the narrative was finished. “You see now how easy it is to lead you astray! How could you be induced to play the part of a spy, when you know so well what it leads to? 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.

Your employer’s intentions are good now; but they WERE criminal when he ordered you to follow Madame d’Argeles. Poor woman! She had sacrificed herself for her son, she had concealed herself from him, and you were working to betray her. Poor creature! how she must have suffered, and how much I pity her! To be what she is, and to see herself denounced by her own son! 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.

And if ever I set my foot in such a mess again, I hope some one will cut it off. But for this once----” “For this once, you may go, Toto; I give my consent.” He went off with a lighter heart; and on reaching the Rue d’Anjou he immediately began his investigations. They were not successful at first. At every house where he made inquiries nobody had any knowledge of the Viscount de Coralth. He had visited half the buildings in the street, when he reached one of the handsomest houses, in front of which stood a cart laden with plants and flowers. An old man, who seemed to be the concierge, and a valet in a red waistcoat, were removing the plants from the vehicle and arranging them in a line under the porte cochere. As soon as the cart was emptied, it drove away, whereupon Chupin stepped forward, and addressing the concierge, asked: “Does the Viscount de Coralth live here?” “Yes. What do you want with him?” Having foreseen this question, Chupin had prepared a reply. “I certainly don’t come to call on him,” he answered. “My reason for inquiring is this: just now, as I passed near the Madeleine, a very elegant lady called me, and said: ‘M.

de Coralth lives in the Rue d’Anjou, but I’ve forgotten the number. 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? Are there any elegant ladies who give five francs for YOUR address?” “Is there any lady who’s likely to send such flowers as these to YOU?” was the response. Chupin was about to retire with a bow, when the concierge stopped him.

“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. de Coralth’s rooms. 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. However any signs of satisfaction would have seemed singular under the circumstances, and so he sulkily replied: “A glass of wine! 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. “Then I’m at your service!” exclaimed Chupin.

And, loading himself with a host of flower-pots as skilfully as if he had been accustomed to handling them all his life, he added: “Now, lead the way.” The valet and the concierge preceded him with empty hands, of course; and, on reaching the second floor, they opened a door, and said: “This is the place. Come in.” Chupin had expected to find that M.

de Coralth’s apartments were handsomer than his own in the Faubourg Saint Denis; but he had scarcely imagined such luxury as pervaded this establishment. The chandeliers seemed marvels in his eyes; and the sumptuous chairs and couches eclipsed M. Fortunat’s wonderful sofa completely. “So he no longer amuses himself with petty rascalities,” thought Chupin, as he surveyed the rooms. “Monsieur’s working on a grand scale now. 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. Under the surveillance of the concierge and the valet he was allowed to visit the whole apartments. He admired the drawing-room, filled to overflowing with costly trifles; the dining-room, furnished in old oak; the luxurious bed-room with its bed mounted upon a platform, as if it were a throne, and the library filled with richly bound volumes.

Everything was beautiful, sumptuous and magnificent, and Chupin admired, though he did not envy, this luxury. He said to himself that, if ever he became rich, his establishment should be quite different. He would have preferred rather more simplicity, a trifle less satin, velvet, hangings, mirrors and gilding. 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. He showed Chupin the target which the viscount practised at with pistols for an hour every morning; for Monsieur le Vicomte was a capital marksman, and could lodge eight balls out of ten in the neck of a bottle at a distance of twenty paces. He also displayed his master’s swords; for Monsieur le Vicomte handled side arms as adroitly as pistols. He took a lesson every day from one of the best fencing-masters in Paris; and his duels had always terminated fortunately. He also showed the viscount’s blue velvet dressing-gown, his fur-trimmed slippers, and even his elaborately embroidered night-shirts. But it was the dressing-room that most astonished and stupefied Chupin.

He stood gazing in open-mouthed wonder at the immense white marble table, with its water spigots and its basins, its sponges and boxes, its pots and vials and cups; and he counted the brushes by the dozen--brushes hard and soft, brushes for the hair, for the beard, for the hands, and the application of cosmetic to the mustaches and eyebrows. Never had he seen in one collection such a variety of steel and silver instruments, knives, pincers, scissors, and files. “One might think oneself in a chiropodist’s, or a dentist’s establishment,” remarked Chupin to the servant.

“Does your master use all these every day?” “Certainly, or rather twice a day--morning and evening--at his toilette.” Chupin expressed his feelings with a grimace and an exclamation of mocking wonder. “Ah, well! he must have a clean skin,” he said. His listeners laughed heartily; and the concierge, after exchanging a significant glance with the valet, said sotto voce, “Zounds! it’s his business to be a handsome fellow!” The mystery was solved.

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. But who was she? He was manoeuvering cleverly in the hope of ascertaining this point, when a carriage was heard driving into the courtyard below. “Monsieur must have returned!” exclaimed the valet, darting to the window. Chupin also ran to look out, and saw a very elegant blue-lined brougham, drawn by a superb horse, but he did not perceive the viscount. In point of fact, M. de Coralth was already climbing the stairs, four at a time, and, a moment later, he entered the room, angrily exclaiming, “Florent, what does this mean? Why have you left all the doors open?” Florent was the servant in the red waistcoat.

He slightly shrugged his shoulders like a servant who knows too many of his master’s secrets to have anything to fear, and in the calmest possible tone replied, “If the doors are open, it is only because the baroness has just sent some flowers. On Sunday, too, what a funny idea! And I have been treating Father Moulinet and this worthy fellow” (pointing to Chupin) “to a glass of wine, to acknowledge their kindness in assisting me.” Fearing recognition, Chupin hid his face as much as possible; but M. de Coralth did not pay the slightest attention to him. There was a dark frown on his handsome, usually smiling countenance, and his hair was in great disorder. Evidently enough, something had greatly annoyed him. “I am going out again,” he remarked to his valet, “but first of all I must write two letters which you must deliver immediately.” He passed into the drawing-room as he spoke, and Florent scarcely waited till the door was closed before uttering an oath.

“May the devil take him!” he exclaimed. “Here he sets me on the go again. It is five o’clock, too, and I have an appointment in half an hour.” A sudden hope quickened the throbbings of Chupin’s heart. He touched the valet’s arm, and in his most persuasive tone remarked: “I’ve nothing to do, and as your wine was so good, I’ll do your errands for you, if you’ll pay me for the wear and tear of shoe-leather.” Chupin’s appearance must have inspired confidence, for the servant replied:--“Well--I don’t refuse--but we’ll see.” The viscount did not spend much time in writing; he speedily reappeared holding two letters which he flung upon the table, saying: “One of these is for the baroness. You must deliver it into HER hands or into the hands of her maid--there will be no answer. You will afterward take the other to the person it is addressed to, and you must wait for an answer which you will place on my writing-table--and make haste.” So saying, the viscount went off as he had entered--on the run--and a moment later, his brougham was heard rolling out of the courtyard. Florent was crimson with rage. “There,” said he, addressing Chupin rather than the concierge, “what did I tell you?

A letter to be placed in madame’s own hands or in the hands of her maid, and to be concealed from the baron, who is on the watch, of course. 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. He now took it from the table, and glanced at the address. “Ah,” said he, “I can confide this one to you, my good fellow, and it’s very fortunate, for it is to be taken to a place on the other side of the river. masters are strange creatures!

You manage your work so as to have a little leisure, and the moment you think yourself free, pouf!--they send you anywhere in creation without even asking if it suits your convenience. If it hadn’t been for you, I should have missed a dinner with some very charming ladies. But, above all, don’t loiter on the way. I don’t mind paying your omnibus fare if you like.

And you heard him say there would be an answer. You can give it to Moulinet, and in exchange, he’ll give you fifteen sous for your trouble, and six sous for your omnibus fare. Besides, if you can extract anything from the party the letter’s intended for, you are quite welcome to it.” “Agreed, sir! Grant me time enough to give an answer to the lady who is waiting at the Madeleine, and I’m on my way. Give me the letter.” “Here it is,” said the valet, handing it to Chupin. But as the latter glanced at the address he turned deadly pale, and his eyes almost started from their sockets. For this is what he read: “Madame Paul.

Dealer in Tobacco.

Quai de la Seine.” Great as was his self-control, his emotion was too evident to escape notice. “What’s the matter with you?” asked the concierge and the valet in the same breath. “What has happened to you?” A powerful effort of will restored this young fellow’s coolness, and ready in an instant with an excuse for his blunder, he replied, “I have changed my mind. What! you’d only give me fifteen sous to measure such a distance as that!

Why, it isn’t a walk--it’s a journey!” His explanation was accepted without demur. His listeners thought he was only taking advantage of the need they had of his services--as was perfectly natural under the circumstances. “What! So you are dissatisfied!” cried the valet. you shall have thirty sous--but be off!” “So I will, at once,” replied Chupin.

And, imitating the whistle of a locomotive with wonderful perfection, he darted away at a pace which augured a speedy return. However, when he was some twenty yards from the house he stopped short, glanced around him, and espying a dark corner slipped into it. “That fool in the red waistcoat will be coming out to take the letter to that famous baroness,” he thought. “I’m here, and I’ll watch him and see where he goes. I should like to find out the name of the kind and charitable lady who watches over his brigand of a master with such tender care.” The day and the hour were in his favor. Night was coming on, hastened by a thick fog; the street lamps were not yet lighted, and as it was Sunday most of the shops were closed. 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. As he had the key to the wardrobe containing his master’s clothes, he did not hesitate to use them whenever an opportunity offered. On this occasion he had appropriated a pair of those delicately tinted trousers which were M. de Coralth’s specialty, with a handsome overcoat, a trifle too small for him, and a very elegant hat. “Fine doings, indeed!” growled Chupin as he started in pursuit.

“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. The gorgeous Florent was ringing at the door of one of the most magnificent mansions in the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque. The door was opened, and he went in. “Ah! ah!” thought Chupin, “he hadn’t far to go. The viscount and the baroness are shrewd. 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.

“Thank you, monsieur,” replied Chupin, gravely.

“I inquired, because I think of buying a house.” And repeating the name of Trigault several times to impress it upon his memory he darted off on his errand. It might be supposed that his unexpected success had delighted him, but, on the contrary, it rendered him even more exacting. The letter he carried burned his pocket like a red-hot iron.

“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 was deterred by a large seal which had been carefully affixed, and which would plainly furnish evidence if the letter were tampered with. Thus Chupin was punished for Florent’s faults, for this seal was the viscount’s’ invariable precaution against his servant’s prying curiosity. So our enterprising youth could only read and re-read the superscription and smell the paper, which was strongly scented with verbena.

He fancied that there was some mysterious connection between this letter intended for M. de Coralth’s wife and the missive sent to the baroness. And why should it not be so? Had they not both been written under the influence of anger? Still he failed to perceive any possible connection between the rich baroness and the poor tobacco dealer, and his cogitations only made him more perplexed than ever. However, his efforts to solve the mystery did not interfere with the free use of his limbs, and he soon found himself on the Quai de la Seine. “Here I am,” he muttered. “I’ve come more quickly than an omnibus.” The Quai de la Seine is a broad road, connecting the Rue de Flandres with the canal de l’Ourcq.

On the left-hand side it is bordered with miserable shanties interspersed with some tiny shops, and several huge coal depots. 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. “The Viscount must certainly have made a mistake,” thought Chupin; “there is no such shop on the Quai.” He was wrong, however; for after passing the Rue de Soissons he espied the red lantern of a tobacco-shop, glimmering through the fog. Having almost reached the goal, Chupin slackened his pace. He approached the shop very cautiously and peered inside, deeming it prudent to reconnoitre a little before he went in.

And certainly there was nothing to prevent a prolonged scrutiny. The night was very dark, the quay deserted. No one was to be seen; not a sound broke the stillness. The darkness, the surroundings, and the silence were sinister enough to make even Chupin shudder, though he was usually as thoroughly at home in the loneliest and most dangerous by-ways of Paris as an honest man of the middle classes would be in the different apartments of his modest household. “That scoundrel’s wife must have less than a hundred thousand a year if she takes up her abode here!” thought Chupin. And, in fact, nothing could be more repulsive than the tenement in which Madame Paul had installed herself. 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. “If I lived here, I certainly shouldn’t feel quite at ease on a windy day,” continued Chupin, sotto voce. The shop itself was of a fair size, but most wretched in its appointments, and disgustingly dirty.

The floor was covered with that black and glutinous coal-dust which forms the soil of the Quai de la Seine. An auctioneer would have sold the entire stock and fixtures for a few shillings. Four stone jars, and a couple of pairs of scales, a few odd tumblers, filled with pipes and packets of cigarettes, some wine-glasses, and three or four labelled bottles, five or six boxes of cigars, and as many packages of musty tobacco, constituted the entire stock in trade. As Chupin compared this vile den with the viscount’s luxurious abode, his blood fairly boiled in his veins. “To let his wife die of starvation here!” For it was M. de Coralth’s wife who kept this shop.

Chupin, who had seen her years before, recognized her now as she sat behind her counter, although she was cruelly changed. “That’s her,” he murmured.

“That’s certainly Mademoiselle Flavie.” He had used her maiden name in speaking of her. Poor woman! She was undoubtedly still young--but sorrow, regret, and privations, days spent in hard work to earn a miserable subsistence, and nights spent in weeping, had made her old, haggard, and wrinkled before her time. Of her once remarkable beauty naught remained but her hair, which was still magnificent, though it was in wild disorder, and looked as if it had not been touched by a comb for weeks; and her big black eyes, which gleamed with the phosphorescent and destructive brilliancy of fever. Everything about her person bespoke terrible reverses, borne without dignity. 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.

“Such is life,” thought Chupin, philosophically. “Here’s a girl who was brought up like a queen and allowed to have her own way in everything! If any one had predicted this in those days, how she would have sneered! I can see her now as she looked that day when I met her driving her gray ponies. If people didn’t clear the road it was so much the worse for them! In those times Paris was like some great shop where she could select whatever she chose.

She said: ‘I want this,’ and she got it. 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. Chupin tried to find out who this person was, but he did not succeed; and he was about to go in when suddenly he saw Madame Paul rise from her seat and say a few words with an air of displeasure. And this time her eyes, instead of turning to the open door, were fixed on a part of the shop directly opposite her. “Is there some one there as well, then?” Chupin wondered. He changed his post of observation, and, by standing on tiptoe, he succeeded in distinguishing a puny little boy, some three or four years old, and clad in rags, who was playing with the remnants of a toy-horse. The sight of this child increased Chupin’s indignation.

“So there’s a child?” he growled. “The rascal not only deserts his wife, but he leaves his child to starve! 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.

“What do you wish, sir?” asked the woman. “Nothing; I bring you a letter, madame.” “A letter for me! You must be mistaken.” “Excuse me; aren’t you Madame Paul?” “Yes.” “Then this is for you.” And he handed her the missive which Florent had confided to his care. Madame Paul took hold of it with some hesitation, eying the messenger suspiciously meanwhile; but, on seeing the handwriting, she uttered a cry of surprise. And, turning toward the open door, she called, “M. It’s from him--it’s from my husband; from Paul. Come, come!” A bald-headed, corpulent man, who looked some fifty years of age, now timidly emerged from the room behind the shop with a cap in his hand.

“Ah, well! my dear child,” he said, in an oily voice, “what was I telling you just now? Everything comes to those who know how to wait.” However she had already broken the seal, and she was now reading the letter eagerly, clapping her hands with delight as she finished its perusal. “He consents!” she exclaimed.

“He’s frightened--he begs me to wait a little--look--read!” But M. Mouchon could not read without his spectacles, and he lost at least two minutes in searching his pockets before he found them.

And when they were adjusted, the light was so dim that it took him at least three minutes more to decipher the missive. Chupin had spent this time in scrutinizing--in appraising the man, as it were. “What is this venerable gentleman doing here?” he thought. “He’s a middle class man, that’s evident from his linen. He’s married--there’s a wedding-ring on his finger; he has a daughter, for the ends of his necktie are embroidered. He lives in the neighborhood, for, well dressed as he is, he wears a cap. But what was he doing there in that back room in the dark?” Meanwhile M. Mouchon had finished reading the letter. “What did I tell you?” he said complacently. “Yes, you were right!” answered Madame Paul as she took up the letter and read it again with her eyes sparkling with joy.

“And now what shall I do?” she asked. “Wait, shall I not?” “No, no!” exclaimed the elderly gentleman, in evident dismay. “You must strike the iron while it’s hot.” “But he promises me----” “To promise and to keep one’s promises are two different things.” “He wants a reply.” “Tell him----” But he stopped short, calling her attention with a gesture to the messenger, whose eyes were glittering with intense curiosity. So filling a glass with some liquor, she placed it before Chupin, and offered him a cigar, saying: “Take a seat--here’s something to keep you from feeling impatient while you wait here.” Thereupon she followed the old gentleman into the adjoining room, and closed the door. Even if Chupin had not possessed the precocious penetration he owed to his life of adventure, the young woman and the old gentleman had said enough to enable him to form a correct estimate of the situation. He was certain now that he knew the contents of the letter as perfectly as if he had read it. de Coralth’s anger, and his order to make haste, were both explained. Moreover, Chupin distinctly saw what connection there was between the letter to the baroness and the letter to Madame Paul. He understood that one was the natural consequence of the other.

Deserted by her husband, Madame Paul had at last become weary of poverty and privations. 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.

If you refuse, I shall urge my claims, and ruin you. 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. It might not be the precise text; but no doubt it was the purport of her letter. On receiving it, Coralth had become alarmed. He knew only too well that if his wife made herself known and revealed his past, it would be all over with him. But he had no money. Charming young men like the Viscount de Coralth never have any money on hand.

So, in this emergency, the dashing young fellow had written to his wife imploring her to have patience, and to the baroness, entreating, or rather commanding her to advance him a certain sum at once. This was no doubt the case, and yet there was one circumstance which puzzled Chupin exceedingly. 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 this great love vanished? 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?

Chupin could understand how, in a moment of passion, she might be driven to denounce her husband in the presence of his fashionable acquaintances, how she might be impelled to ruin him so as to avenge herself; but he could not possibly understand how she could consent to profit by the ignominy of the man she loved. “The plan isn’t hers,” said Chupin to himself, after a moment’s reflection. “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. He was still sitting on the muddy floor of the shop, playing with his dilapidated horse. Chupin called him. “Come here, my little fellow,” said he.

The child rose, and timidly approached, his eyes dilating with distrust and astonishment. The poor boy’s repulsive uncleanliness was a terrible charge against the mother. The untidiness of sorrow and poverty has its bounds. A long time must have passed since the child’s face and hands had been washed, and his soiled clothes were literally falling to rags. Still, he was a handsome little fellow, and seemed fairly intelligent, in spite of his bashfulness. He was very light-haired, and in features he was extremely like M. de Coralth. 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. “Doesn’t your papa ever come to see you?” insisted Chupin. “Never.” “Why?” “Mamma is very poor.” “And wouldn’t you like to go and see him?” “I don’t know.

But he’ll come some day, and take us away with him to a large house. We shall be all right, then; and he will give us a deal of money and pretty dresses, and I shall have plenty of toys.” Satisfied on this point, Chupin, pushed his investigations farther.

“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. So he kissed the cleanest spot he could find on the boy’s face, and set him on the floor again, saying, “Go and play.” The child had revealed his mother’s character with cruel precision. What had she told him about his father? That he was rich, and that, in case he returned, he would give them plenty of money and fine clothes. The woman’s nature stood revealed in all its deformity. Chupin had good cause to feel proud of his discernment--all his suppositions had been confirmed.

He had read Mouchon’s character at a glance. He had recognized him as one of those wily evil-minded men who employ their leisure to the profit of their depravity--one of those patient, cold-blooded hypocrites who make poverty their purveyor, and whose passion is prodigal only in advice. “So he’s paying his court to Madame Paul,” thought Chupin. “Isn’t it shameful?

The old villain! he might at least give her enough to eat!” So far his preoccupation had made him forget his wine and his cigar. He emptied the glass at a single draught, but it proved far more difficult to light the cigar. this is a non-combustible,” he growled. “When I arrive at smoking ten sous cigars, I sha’n’t come here to buy them.” However, with the help of several matches and a great deal of drawing, he had almost succeeded, when the door opened, and Madame Paul reappeared with a letter in her hand. She seemed greatly agitated; her anxiety was unmistakable. “I can’t decide,” she was saying to Mouchon, whose figure Chupin could only dimly distinguish in the darkness.

“No, I can’t. If I send this letter, I must forever renounce all hope of my husband’s return. Whatever happens, he will never forgive me.” “He can’t treat you worse than he does now, at all events,” replied the old gentleman.

“Besides, a gloved cat has never caught a mouse yet.” “He’ll hate me.” “The man who wants his dog to love him, beats it; and, besides, when the wine is drawn, one must drink it.” This singular logic seemed to decide her. She handed the letter to Chupin, and drawing a franc from her pocket she offered it to him. “This is for your trouble,” she said. He involuntarily held out his hand to take the money, but quickly withdrew it, exclaiming: “No, thank you; keep it. I’ve been paid already.” And, thereupon, he left the shop. Chupin’s mother--his poor good mother, as he called her--would certainly have felt proud and delighted at her son’s disinterestedness. That very morning, he had refused the ten francs a day that M. Fortunat had offered him, and this evening he declined the twenty sous proffered him by Madame Paul. This was apparently a trifle, and yet in reality it was something marvellous, unprecedented, on the part of this poor lad, who, having neither trade nor profession, was obliged to earn his daily bread through the medium of those chance opportunities which the lower classes of Paris are continually seeking.

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.

By becoming the instrument of Pascal Ferailleur’s salvation he would, in some measure, atone for the crime he had committed years before. Chupin’s mind was so busily occupied with these thoughts that he reached the Rue d’Anjou and M. de Coralth’s house almost before he was aware of it.

To his great surprise, the concierge and his wife were not alone.

Florent was there, taking coffee with them. The valet had divested himself of his borrowed finery, and had donned his red waistcoat again. He seemed to be in a savage humor; and his anger was not at all strange under the circumstances. There was but a step from M.

de Coralth’s house to the baroness’s residence, but fatalities may attend even a step! The baroness, on receiving the letter from her maid, had sent a message to Florent requesting him to wait, as she desired to speak with him! 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.

In his despair he had returned home to seek consolation in the society of his friend the concierge. “Have you the answer?” he asked. “Yes, here it is,” replied Chupin, and Florent had just slipped the letter into his pocket, and was engaged in counting out the thirty sous which he had promised his messenger, when the familiar cry, “Open, please,” was heard outside. de Coralth had returned. 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.

de Coralth seemed to breathe more freely. “And the other party?” he inquired.

“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. But suddenly realizing his imprudence, he mastered his rage, and exclaimed, with a forced laugh: “Ah! they are enough to drive one mad!” And deeming this a sufficient explanation, he added, addressing Florent. “Come and undress me; I must be up early to-morrow morning.” This remark was not lost upon Chupin, and at seven o’clock the next morning he mounted guard at M. de Coralth’s door. All through the day he followed the viscount about, first to the Marquis de Valorsay’s, then to the office of a business agent, then to M. Wilkie’s, then, in the afternoon, to Baroness Trigault’s, and finally, in the evening, to the house of Madame d’Argeles. 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. Wilkie leave the house with his clothes in disorder, and subsequently he saw the viscount emerge.

He followed him, first to the house of the Marquis de Valorsay, and afterward to M. Wilkie’s rooms, where he remained till nearly daybreak. 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. “I have not been as successful,” he remarked, when Chupin’s story was ended. 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. “Let her come in!” exclaimed M. Fortunat, eagerly--“let her come in!” Mademoiselle Marguerite had not been compelled to resort to any subterfuge to make her escape from Madame de Fondege’s house. 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.

Jodon’s and thence to the Marquis de Valorsay’s.

Thus, Mademoiselle Marguerite had been able to make her escape without attracting any one’s attention, and she would be able to remain away as many hours as she chose, since the servants would not know how long she had been absent even if they saw her when she returned. An empty cab was passing as she left the house, so she hailed it and got in. The step she was about to take cost her a terrible effort. It was a difficult task for her, a girl naturally so reserved, to confide in a stranger, and open to him her maidenly heart, filled with love for Pascal Ferailleur! Still, she was much calmer than she had been on the previous evening, when she called on the photographer for a facsimile of M. de Valorsay’s letter. Several circumstances combined to reassure her. Fortunat knew her already, since he was the agent whom the Count de Chalusse had employed to carry on the investigations which had resulted in her discovery at the foundling asylum. 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’s private office. She took in the room and its occupants with a single glance.

The handsome appointments of the office surprised her, for she had expected to see a den. The agent’s polite manner and rather elegant appearance disconcerted her, for she had expected to meet a coarse and illiterate boor; and finally, Victor Chupin, who was standing twisting his cap near the fireplace, attired in a blouse and a pair of ragged trousers, fairly alarmed her. Still, no sign of her agitation was perceptible on her countenance. Not a muscle of her beautiful, proud face moved--her glance remained clear and haughty, and she exclaimed in a ringing voice: “I am the late Count de Chalusse’s ward, Mademoiselle Marguerite. You have received my letter, I suppose?” M. Fortunat bowed with all the grace of manner he was wont to display in the circles where he went wife-hunting, and with a somewhat pretentious gesture he advanced an arm-chair, and asked his visitor to sit down. “Your letter reached me, mademoiselle,” he replied, “and I was expecting you--flattered and honored beyond expression by your confidence. My door, indeed, was closed to any one but you.” Marguerite took the proffered seat, and there was a moment’s silence.

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.

She remained silent, waiting for M. Fortunat to dismiss the young man in the blouse, whose presence she could not explain, and who stood in a sort of mute ecstasy, staring at her with eyes expressive of the most intense surprise and the liveliest admiration. But weary at last of this fruitless delay, she exclaimed: “I have come, monsieur, to confer with you respecting certain matters which require the most profound secrecy.” Chupin understood her, for he blushed to the tips of his ears, and started as if to leave the room. But his employer detained him with a gesture. “Remain, Victor,” he said kindly, and, turning to Mademoiselle Marguerite, he added: “You have no indiscretion to fear from this worthy fellow, mademoiselle. He knows everything, and he has already been actively at work--and with the best result--on your behalf.” “I don’t understand you, sir,” replied the girl. Fortunat smiled sweetly. “I have already taken your business in hand, mademoiselle,” said he. “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.

Pascal Ferailleur.” Marguerite sprang to her feet, at once agitated and alarmed. “How did you know this?” she exclaimed. Fortunat had left his arm-chair, and was now leaning against the mantel-shelf, in what he considered a most becoming and awe-inspiring attitude, with his thumb in the armhole of his waistcoat. “Ah!

nothing could be more simple,” he answered, in much the same tone as a conqueror might assume to explain his feat. “It is part of my profession to penetrate the intentions of persons who deign to honor me with their confidence. So my surmises are correct; at least you have not said the contrary?” She had said nothing. When her first surprise was over, she vainly endeavored to find a plausible explanation of M. Fortunat’s acquaintance with her affairs, for she was not at all deceived by his pretended perspicacity. Meanwhile, delighted by the supposed effect he had produced, he recklessly continued: “Reserve your amazement for what I am about to disclose, for I have made several important discoveries. It must have been your good angel who inspired you with the idea of coming to me. You would have shuddered if you had realized the dangers that threatened you. But now you have nothing to fear; I am watching.

I am here, and I hold in my hand all the threads of the abominable intrigue for ruining you. For it is you, your person, and your fortune that are imperilled. It was solely on your account that M. Ferailleur was attacked. And I can tell you the names of the scoundrels who ruined him. The crime originated with the person who had the most powerful interest in the matter--the Marquis de Valorsay. His agent was a scoundrel who is generally known as the Viscount de Coralth; but Chupin here can tell you his real name and his shameful past. Ferailleur, hence it was necessary to put him out of the way. de Chalusse had promised your hand to the Marquis de Valorsay.

This marriage was Valorsay’s only resource--the plank that might save the drowning man. People fancy he is rich; but he is ruined. Yes, ruined completely, irretrievably. 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. The name of Valorsay was quite sufficient to set all M.

Fortunat’s bile in motion. All thought of his ex-client irritated him beyond endurance. Unfortunately for him, however, his anger in the present instance had ruined his plans. He had intended to take Mademoiselle Marguerite by surprise, to work upon her imagination, to make her talk without saying anything himself, and to remain master of the situation. But on the contrary he had revealed everything; and he did not discover this until it was too late to retrieve his blunder.

“How the Marquis de Valorsay has kept his head above water is a wonder to me,” he continued. “His creditors have been threatening to sue him for more than six months. How he has been able to keep them quiet since M. de Chalusse’s death, I cannot understand. 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.

“I know all this,” she replied, in a frigid tone.

“What! you know----” “Yes; but there is one thing that baffles my powers of comprehension. My dowry was the only temptation to M. de Valorsay, was it not? Why does he still wish to marry me, now that I have no fortune?” M.

Fortunat had gradually lost all his advantage. “I have asked myself the same question,” he replied, “and I think I have found an answer. I believe that the marquis has in his possession a letter, or a will, or a document of some sort, written by M. de Chalusse--in fact an instrument in which the count acknowledges you as his daughter, and which consequently establishes; your right to his property.” “And the marquis could urge this claim if he became my husband?” “Certainly he could.” M. Fortunat explained M. de Valorsay’s conduct exactly as the old magistrate had done. However, Mademoiselle Marguerite discreetly refrained from committing herself.

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. de Chalusse as to his financial position. I can prove that he conspired with M. de Coralth to ruin your lover.

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. Fortunat, quickly. “I never promise what I cannot perform. A man should never touch a pen when he is meditating any evil act. Of course, no one is fool enough to write down his infamy in detail. But a man cannot always be on the qui vive. There will be a word in one letter, a sentence in another, an allusion in a third. And by combining these words, phrases, and allusions, one may finally discover the truth.” He suddenly checked himself, warned of his fresh imprudence by the expression on Mademoiselle Marguerite’s face.

She drew back, and looking him full in the eyes, she exclaimed: “Then you have been in M. de Valorsay’s confidence, sir? 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.

there’s a woman for you! She has beaten the guv’nor on every point.” M. Fortunat was so taken by surprise that he made no attempt to deny his guilt. “I confess that I acted as M. de Valorsay’s adviser for some time,” he replied, “and he frequently spoke to me of his intention of marrying a rich wife in order to retrieve his shattered fortunes. Upon my word, I see nothing so very bad about that! It is not a strictly honest proceeding, perhaps, but it is done every day. What is marriage in this age? Merely a business transaction, is it not?

Perhaps it would be more correct to say that it is a transaction in which one person tries to cheat the other. The fathers-in-law are deceived, or the husband, or the wife, and sometimes all of them together. Ferailleur, I cried ‘halt!’ My conscience revolted at that. Dishonor an innocent man! It was base, cowardly, outrageous! 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. Fortunat cast a withering look at his clerk, but the mischief was done: denial was useless. He seemed fated to blunder in this affair. “Well, yes,” he declared, “it’s true. Valorsay HAS defrauded me, and I have sworn to have my revenge.

I won’t rest until I see him ruined.” Mademoiselle Marguerite was partially reassured, for she understood his zeal now. Her scorn for the man was only increased; but she was convinced that he would serve her faithfully.

“I like this much better,” said she. “It is better to have no concealment. de Valorsay’s ruin. I desire the rehabilitation of M. Ferailleur. So our interests are in common. But before acting in this matter, we must know M.

Ferailleur’s wishes.” “They cannot be considered.” “And why?” “Because no one knows what has become of him. When the desire for revenge first took possession of me, I at once thought of him. I procured his address, and went to the Rue d’Ulm. But he had gone away. The very day after his misfortune, M. 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. To discover his hiding-place will be only child’s play to you.” “Do you suppose I haven’t thought of this?” replied M. Fortunat. “Why, I spent all day yesterday searching 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. To the Western railway station. I am sure of this, and I know she told a porter there that her destination was London. Ferailleur is now en route for America, and we shall never hear of him again!” Mademoiselle Marguerite shook her head. “You are mistaken, sir,” said she.

“There can be no mistake about what I have just told you.” “I don’t question the result of your investigations, but appearances are deceitful.

I thoroughly understand M. Ferailleur’s character, and he is not the man to be crushed by an infamous calumny. He may seem to fly, he may disappear, he may conceal himself for a time, but it is only to make his vengeance more certain. What! Pascal, who is energy itself, who possesses an iron will, and invincible determination, would he renounce his honor, his future, and the woman he loves without a struggle? 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. He has not left Paris; I am sure of it.” M. Fortunat was not convinced. In his opinion this was only sentiment and rubbish. Still there was one person present who was deeply impressed by the confidence of this young girl, who was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen, and whose devotion and energy filled his heart with admiration, and this person was Chupin.

He stepped forward with his eyes sparkling with enthusiasm, and in a feeling voice he exclaimed: “I understand your idea! Ferailleur is in Paris. And I shall be unworthy of the name of Chupin, if I don’t find him for you in less than a fortnight!” XII. Mademoiselle Marguerite knew Pascal Ferailleur.

Suddenly struck down in the full sunlight of happiness by a terrible misfortune, he, of course, experienced moments of frenzy and terrible depression; but he was incapable of the cowardice which M. Fortunat had accused him of. 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. And still she did not know the extent of Pascal’s misfortune.

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. And his courage met with its first reward. He was no longer the same man when he left the princely mansion which he had entered with his heart so full of anguish.

He was still somewhat bewildered with the strange scenes which he had involuntarily witnessed, the secrets he had overheard, and the revelations which had been made to him; but a light gleamed on the horizon--a fitful and uncertain light, it is true, but nevertheless a hopeful gleam. At least, he would no longer have to struggle alone. An honest and experienced man, powerful by reason of his reputation, his connections and his fortune, had promised him his help. Thanks to this man whom misfortune had made a truer friend than years could have done, he would have access to the wretch who had deprived him both of his honor and of the woman he loved. 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.

Pascal was eager to inform his mother of the fortunate result of his visit, but certain arrangements which were needful for the success of his plans required his attention, and it was nearly five o’clock when he reached the Route de la Revolte. Madame Ferailleur was just returning home when he arrived, which surprised him considerably, for he had not known that she had intended going out.

The cab she had used was still standing before the door, and she had not had time to take off her shawl and bonnet when he entered the house. She uttered a joyful cry on perceiving her son. 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. Do what I may, I can never repay him for his generosity and self-denial. If you knew, my dear mother, if you only knew----” “What?” He kissed her as if he wished to apologize for what he was about to say, and then he quickly replied: “Marguerite is the daughter of Baroness Trigault.” Madame Ferailleur started back, as if she had seen a reptile spring up in her pathway. “The daughter of the baroness!” she faltered. “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. But prevarication was useless. Madame Ferailleur’s indignation and disgust were none the less evident. “That woman is a shameless creature,” she said, coldly, when her son’s narrative was concluded.

Pascal made no reply. He knew only too well that his mother was right, and yet it wounded him cruelly to hear her speak in this style.

For the baroness was Marguerite’s mother after all. “So,” continued Madame Ferailleur, with increasing indignation, “creatures do exist who are destitute even of the maternal instincts of animals. I am an honest woman myself; I don’t say it in self-glorification, it’s no credit to me; my mother was a saint, and I loved my husband; what some people call duty was my happiness, so I may be allowed to speak on this subject. I don’t excuse infidelity, but I can understand how such a thing is possible.

Yes, I can understand how a beautiful young woman, who is left alone in a city like Paris, may lose her senses, and forget the worthy man who has exiled himself for her sake, and who is braving a thousand dangers to win a fortune for her. The husband who exposes his honor and happiness to such terrible risk, is an imprudent man. But when this woman has erred, when she has given birth to a child, how she can abandon it, how she can cast it off as if it were a dog, I cannot comprehend. I could imagine infanticide more easily. No, such a woman has no heart, no bowels of compassion. There is nothing human in her! 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? And she, the possessor of millions, she, the inmate of a palace, thinking only of dress and pleasure! How was it that she didn’t ask herself every minute, ‘Where is my daughter now, and what is she doing?

What is she living on? Has she shelter, clothes and food?

To what depths of degradation she may have sunk? Perhaps she has so far lived by honest toil, and perhaps at this very moment this support fails her, and she is abandoning herself to a life of infamy.’ Great God! how does this woman dare to step out of doors? 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. He trembled lest she should say: “And you, my son, would you marry the child of such a mother?” For he knew his mother’s prejudices, and the great importance she attached to a spotless reputation transmitted from parent to child, from generation to generation. “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. “Would you try to defend her?” exclaimed Madame Ferailleur.

“Do you really think one can atone for a fault by a crime?” “No, certainly not, but----” “Perhaps you would censure the baroness more severely if you knew what her daughter has suffered--if you knew the perils and miseries she has been exposed to from the moment her mother left her on a door-step, near the central markets, till the day when her father found her. It is a miracle that she did not perish.” Where had Madame Ferailleur learned these particulars? Pascal asked himself this question without being able to answer it. “I don’t understand you, mother,” he faltered. “Then you know nothing of Mademoiselle Marguerite’s past life. 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, mother, you!” “Yes; I--I have been to the asylum where she was received and educated.

I have had a conversation with two Sisters of Charity who remember her, and it is scarcely an hour since I left the people to whom she was formerly bound as an apprentice.” Standing opposite his mother with one hand convulsively clutching the back of the chair he was leaning on, Pascal tried to nerve himself for some terrible blow.

For was not his life at stake?

Did not his whole future depend upon the revelations Madame Ferailleur was about to make? “So this was your object in going out, mother?” he faltered.

“Yes.” “And you went without warning me?” “Was it necessary? What! 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? It would be very strange if I did not do so.” “This idea occurred to you so suddenly!” Madame Ferailleur gave an almost imperceptible shrug of the shoulders, as if she were astonished to have to answer such puerile objections. “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. “By a little tact I obtained the Greloux’s address from Madame Vantrasson,” resumed his mother.

“Then I sent for a cab and drove there at once.” “And you saw them?” “Yes; thanks to a falsehood which doesn’t trouble my conscience much, I succeeded in effecting an entrance, and had an hour’s conversation with them.” His mother’s icy tones frightened Pascal. Her slowness tortured him, and still he dared not press her. “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. They must have been very much attached to Mademoiselle Marguerite, for they were lavish in their protestations of affection when I mentioned her name. The husband in particular seemed to regard her with a feeling of something like gratitude.” “Ah! 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.

This man, who has since become an infamous scoundrel, was then only a rake, an unprincipled drunkard and libertine. He fancied the poor little apprentice--she was then but thirteen years old--would be only too glad to become the mistress of her employer’s brother; but she scornfully repulsed him, and his vanity was so deeply wounded that he persecuted the poor girl to such an extent that she was obliged to complain, first to Madame Greloux, who--to her shame be it said--treated these insults as mere nonsense; and afterward to Greloux himself, who was probably delighted to have an opportunity of ridding himself of his indolent brother-in-law, for he turned him out of the house.” The thought that so vile a rascal as this man Vantrasson should have dared to insult Marguerite made Pascal frantic with indignation. “The wretch!” he exclaimed; “the wretch!” But without seeming to notice her son’s anger, Madame Ferailleur continued: “They pretended they had not seen their former apprentice since she had been living in grandeur, as they expressed it. 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. They did not mention this fact, however.” “Dear Marguerite!” murmured Pascal, “dear Marguerite!” And then aloud: “But where did you learn these last details, mother?” he inquired. “At the asylum where Mademoiselle Marguerite was brought up, and there, too, I only heard words of praise. ‘Never,’ said the superior, ‘have I had a more gifted, sweeter-tempered or more attractive charge.’ They had reproached her sometimes for being too reserved, and her self-respect had often been mistaken for inordinate pride; but she had not forgotten the asylum any more than she had forgotten her former patrons. On one occasion the superior received from her the sum of twenty-five thousand francs, and a year ago she presented the institution with one hundred thousand francs, the yearly income of which is to constitute the marriage dowry of some deserving orphan.” Pascal was greatly elated.

“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. “You are silent,” said he, “and why? 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! Ah, you are unjust, mother.” “Unjust!

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. “You heard Madame Vantrasson’s ignoble allegations. It has been said that she was the mistress, not the daughter, of the Count de Chalusse. Who knows what vile accusations you may be forced to meet? And what is your refuge, if doubts should ever assail you? Mademoiselle Marguerite’s word!

It is now, perhaps; but will it suffice in years to come? 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? it will never shake my faith in her. The misfortunes which you reproach Marguerite for sanctify her in my eyes.” “Pascal!” “What! Am I to scorn her because she has been unfortunate? Am I to regard her birth as a crime? Am I to despise her because her MOTHER is a despicable woman? No--God be praised! the day when illegitimate children, the innocent victims of their mother’s faults, were branded as outcasts, is past.” But Madame Ferailleur’s prejudices were too deeply rooted to be shaken by these arguments.

“I won’t discuss this question, my son,” she interrupted, “but take care. 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. On hearing his dearest hopes thus attacked, Pascal was tempted to rebel, and a flood of bitter words rose to his lips. However he had strength enough to control himself. “Marguerite alone can triumph over these implacable prejudices,” he thought; “when my mother knows her, she will feel how unjust they are!” And as he found it difficult to remain master of himself, he stammered some excuse, and abruptly retired to his own room, where he threw himself on his bed. He felt that it was not his place to reproach his mother or censure her for her opinions. What mother had ever been so devoted as she had been? 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.

Besides, had she not promised to offer no opposition to his marriage! And was not this a great concession, a sacrifice which must have cost her a severe struggle? And where can one find the mother who does not count as one of the sublime joys of maternity the task of seeking a wife for her son, of choosing from among all others the young girl who will be the companion of his life, the angel of his dark and of his prosperous days? 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. On seeing this woman, Pascal was overcome with rage and indignation, and felt a wild desire to annihilate her. 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! He now realized the suffering his mother had spoken of--the most atrocious suffering which the lover can endure--powerlessness to protect the object of his affections, when she is assailed.

Engrossed in these gloomy thoughts, Pascal preserved a sullen silence during the repast. He ate because his mother filled his plate; but if he had been questioned, he could scarcely have told what he was eating. And yet, the modest dinner was excellent. Madame Vantrasson was really a good cook, and in this first effort in her new situation she had surpassed herself. Her vanity as a cordon-bleu was piqued because she did not receive the compliments she expected, and which she felt she deserved. 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.

Madame Ferailleur was as silent as her son, and seemed equally anxious to finish with the repast. She evidently wanted to get rid of Madame Vantrasson, and in fact as soon as the simple dessert had been placed on the table, she turned to her, and said: “You may go home now. I will attend to the rest.” Irritated by the taciturnity of these strange folks, the landlady of the Model Lodging House withdrew, and they soon heard the street door close behind her with a loud bang as she left the house. Pascal drew a long breath as if relieved of a heavy weight. While Madame Vantrasson had been in the room he had scarcely dared to raise his eyes, so great was his dread of encountering the gaze of this woman, whose malignity was but poorly veiled by her smooth-tongued hypocrisy. He really feared he should not be able to resist his desire to strangle her. 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? But how sorry I shall be if your prejudices----” Madame Ferailleur checked him with a gesture.

“Let us say no more on the subject,” she remarked. “Mademoiselle Marguerite will be the innocent cause of one of the greatest disappointments of my life; but I have no reason to hate her--and I have always been able to show justice even to the persons I loved the least. 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.

He darted to his own room, and a minute later he returned with a package of letters, which he laid on the table, saying: “Here, mother, read and see for yourself.” Madame Ferailleur drew her spectacles from their case, and, after adjusting them, she began to read. With his elbows on the table, and his head resting upon his hands, Pascal eagerly watched his mother, anxious to read her impressions on her face. She was evidently astonished. She had not expected these letters would express such nobility of sentiment, an energy no whit inferior to her own, and even an echo of her own prejudices. For this strange young girl shared Madame Ferailleur’s rather bigoted opinions. Again and again she asked herself if her birth and past had not created an impassable abyss between Pascal and herself. 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.

“These letters are admirable,” she said at last; “and no young girl, reared by a virtuous mother, could have given better expression to nobler sentiments; but----” She paused, not wishing to wound her son’s feelings, and as he insisted, she added: “But, these letters have the irreparable fault of being addressed to you, Pascal!” This, however, was the expiring cry of her intractable obstinacy. “Now,” she resumed, “wait before you censure your mother.” So saying, she rose, opened a drawer, and taking from it a torn and crumpled scrap of paper, she handed it to her son, exclaiming: “Read this attentively.” This proved to be the note in pencil which Madame Leon had given to Pascal, and which he had divined rather than read by the light of the street-lamp; he had handed it to his mother on his return, and she had kept it. He had scarcely been in his right mind the evening he received it, but now he was enjoying the free exercise of all his faculties. He no sooner glanced at the note than he sprang up, and in an excited voice, exclaimed, “Marguerite never wrote this!” The strange discovery seemed to stupefy him. “I was mad, raving mad!” he muttered. “The fraud is palpable, unmistakable. 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. “And what shall I say of these mistakes in spelling?” he resumed. “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! Ignorance is proved since the blunder is always the same. The forger is evidently in the habit of omitting one of the double letters.” Madame Ferailleur listened with an impassive face.

“And these mistakes are all the more inexcusable since this letter is only a copy,” she observed, quietly. “What?” “Yes; a verbatim copy. Yesterday evening, while I was examining it for the twentieth time, it occurred to me that I had read some portions of it before. Where, and under what circumstances? It was a puzzle which kept me awake most of the night. But this morning I suddenly remembered a book which I had seen in the hands of the workmen at the factory, and which I had often laughed over. So, while I was out this morning I entered a book-shop, and purchased the volume. 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. He did so, and read: “(Model 198).

Letter from a young lady who has promised her dying father to renounce the man she loves, and to bestow her hand upon another.” Doubt was no longer possible. 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. So, in spite of some short-lived doubts, his love had been more clear-sighted than reason, and stronger than appearances.

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. Appearances may indicate the contrary, but I am right.” Certain circumstances, which had previously seemed contradictory, now strengthened this belief. “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? One of these stories must be false; and which of them? The one in this note most probably. As for the letter itself, it must have been the work of Madame Leon.” If he had not already possessed irrefutable proofs of this, the “Indispensable Letter-writer” would have shown it. The housekeeper’s perturbation when she met him at the garden gate was now explained. 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. Pascal was about to approve this suggestion, when a sudden thought deterred him.

“They must be watching Marguerite very closely,” he replied, “and if I attempt to see her, if I even venture to write to her, our enemies would undoubtedly discover it. And then, farewell to the success of my plans.” “Then you prefer to leave her exposed to these dangers?” “Yes, even admitting there is danger, which is by no means certain.

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! We have her; let us make use of her. 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.

Even his mother’s opposition had ceased to alarm him.

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 was busily engaged in perfecting his plan of attack against the marquis. His advantages were considerable, thanks to Baron Trigault, who had placed a hundred thousand francs at his disposal; but the essential point was to use this amount in such a way as to win Valorsay’s confidence, and induce him to betray himself. Pascal’s hours of meditation were not spent in vain, and when it became time for him to repair to his enemy’s house, he said to his mother: “I’ve found a plan; and if the baron will let me follow it out, Valorsay is mine!” XIII.

It was pure childishness on Pascal’s part to doubt Baron Trigault’s willingness to agree even with closed eyes to any measures he might propose. 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.

And certainly the events which had occurred since their last interview had not been of a nature to modify the baron’s intentions. 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.

“Will you be kind enough to follow me?” said the servant to whom he handed his card.

“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. The elegance of this princely abode never varied. The same careless, prodigal, regal luxury was apparent everywhere. The servants--whose name was legion--were always passing noiselessly to and fro. A pair of horses, worth at least a thousand louis, and harnessed to the baroness’s brougham, were stamping and neighing in the courtyard; and the hall was, as usual, fragrant with the perfume of rare flowers, renewed every morning. On his first visit Pascal had only seen the apartments on the ground floor. This time his guide remarked that he would take him upstairs to the baron’s private room. He was slowly ascending the broad marble staircase and admiring the bronze balustrade, the rich carpet, the magnificent frescoes, and the costly statuary, when a rustle of silk resounded near him.

He had only time to step aside, and a lady passed him rapidly, without turning her head, or even deigning to look at him. She did not appear more than forty, and she was still very beautiful, with her golden hair dressed high on the back of her head. Her costume, brilliant enough in hue to frighten a cab horse, was extremely eccentric in cut; but it certainly set off her peculiar style of beauty to admirable advantage. “That’s the baroness,” whispered the servant, after she had passed.

Pascal did not need to be told this. 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.

And now he understood the strange and terrible impression which had been produced upon him when he saw her first. Mademoiselle Marguerite was the living prototype of this lady, save as regards the color of her hair. And there would have been no difference in this respect had the baroness allowed her locks to retain their natural tint. Her hair had been black, like Marguerite’s, and black it had remained until she was thirty-five, when she bleached it to the fashionable color of the time. And every fourth day even now her hairdresser came to apply a certain compound to her head, after which she remained in the bright sunlight for several hours, so as to impart a livelier shade of gold to her dyed locks. Pascal had scarcely regained his composure, when the servant opened the door of an immense apartment as large as a handsome suite of rooms, and magnificently furnished. Here sat the baron, surrounded by several clerks, who were busily engaged in putting a pile of papers and documents in order. But as soon as Pascal entered, the baron rose, and cordially holding out his hand, exclaimed, “Ah! here you are at last, Monsieur Maumejan!” So he had not forgotten the name which Pascal had assumed. This was a favorable omen.

“I called, monsieur----” began the young man. “Yes--I know--I know!” interrupted the baron. “Come, we must have a talk.” And, taking Pascal’s arm, he led him into his private sanctum, separated from the large apartment by folding-doors, which had been removed, and replaced by hangings. 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. “Here, count it,” he added, “and see if the amount is correct.” But Pascal, whose face had suddenly become as red as fire, did not utter a word in reply. On receiving this money a new but quite natural thought had entered his mind for the first time. “What is the matter?” inquired the baron, surprised by this sudden embarrassment. “What has happened to you?” “Nothing, monsieur, nothing!

Only I was asking myself--if I ought--if I can accept this money.” “Bah! and why not?” “Because if you lend it to M. de Valorsay, it is perhaps lost.” “PERHAPS!

You are polite----” “Yes, monsieur, you are right. 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. Shall I ever have a hundred thousand francs to repay you?” “But isn’t this money absolutely necessary to enable you to win Valorsay’s confidence?” “Yes, and if it belonged to me I should not hesitate.” Though the baron had formed a high estimate of Pascal’s character, he was astonished and deeply touched by these scruples, and this excessive delicacy of feeling. Like most opulent men, he knew few poor people who wore their poverty with grace and dignity, and who did not snatch at a twenty-franc piece wherever they chanced to find it.

“Ah, well, my dear Ferailleur,” he said, kindly, “don’t trouble yourself on this score. 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. You can give the money to Valorsay at such a time and under such conditions as will best serve your plans. Give it to him in an hour or in a month, all at once or in fifty different instalments, as you please. Only use it like the rope one ties round a dog’s neck before drowning him.” The keenest penetration was concealed beneath the baron’s careless good-nature. 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.

You may do whatever you like, if you only succeed in unmasking this dear marquis, and Coralth, his worthy acolyte.

Show me up in whatever light you choose. Who will you be in Valorsay’s eyes? 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. A millionaire, who is not a fool, must always smile, and no matter how absurd the demands upon him may be, he must always answer: ‘Yes, certainly, certainly--I should be only too happy!’ But then he adds: ‘You must arrange the matter with my agent. 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. enough, enough!” he exclaimed. “Don’t waste precious time in idle discussion. 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. I am preparing a delightful surprise for Madame Trigault, my daughter, and my son-in-law.

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. “You see, I’ve had enough of paying several hundred thousand francs a year for the privilege of being sneered at by my wife, scorned by my daughter, swindled by my son-in-law, and vilified and anathematized by all three of them. 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. Yes, I will have myself treated with deference. I’ll be petted and coddled and made much of, or else I’ll suspend payment. It was one of my old friends, a parvenu like myself--a man whose domestic happiness I have envied for many years--who gave me this receipt: ‘At home,’ said he, ‘with my wife, my daughters, and my sons-in-law, I’m like a peer of England at an hotel. I order first-class happiness at so much a month. If I get it I pay for it; if I don’t get it, I cut off the supplies. When I get extras I pay for them cheerfully, without haggling.

Follow my example, my old friend, and you’ll have a comfortable life.’ And I shall follow his advice, M. Ferailleur, for I am convinced that his theory is sound and practicable. I have led this life long enough. I’ll spend my last days in peace, or, as God hears me, I’ll let my family die of starvation!” His face was purple, and the veins on his forehead stood out like whipcords, but not so much from anger as from the constraint he imposed upon himself by speaking in a whisper. He drew a long breath, and then in a calmer tone, resumed: “But you must make haste and succeed, M. Ferailleur, if you don’t want the young girl you love to be deprived of her rightful heritage. You do not know into what unworthy hands the Chalusse property is about to fall.” He was on the point of telling Pascal the story of Madame d’Argeles and M. Wilkie, when he was interrupted by the sound of a lively controversy in the hall.

“Who’s taking such liberty in my house?” the baron began. But the next instant he heard some one fling open the door of the large room adjoining, and then a coarse, guttural voice called out: “What!

This is too much!” The baron made an angry gesture. “That’s Kami-Bey,” said he, “the Turk whom I am playing that great game of cards with. The devil take him! He will be sure to force his way in here--so we may as well join him, M. Ferailleur.” On reentering the adjoining apartment Pascal beheld a very corpulent man, with a very red face, a straggling beard, a flat nose, small, beadlike eyes, and sensual lips.

He was clad in a black frock-coat, buttoned tight to the throat, and he wore a fez. This costume gave him the appearance of a chunky bottle, sealed with red wax. 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.

Kami was no doubt more impudent, more cynical and more arrogant than others of his class. As he was more wealthy, he had more followers; he had been more toadied and flattered, and victimized to a greater extent by the host of female intriguers, who look upon every foreigner as their rightful prey. He spoke French passably well, but with an abominable accent. “Here you are at last!” he exclaimed, as the baron entered the room. “I was becoming very anxious.” “About what, prince?” Why Kami-Bey was called prince no one knew, not even the man himself. Perhaps it was because the lackey who opened his carriage door on his arrival at the Grand Hotel had addressed him by that title. “About what!” he repeated. “You have won more than three hundred thousand francs from me, and I was wondering if you intended to give me the slip.” The baron frowned, and this time he omitted the title of prince altogether. “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. I wrote to you explaining this, did I not? 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. Because I’m a foreigner and immensely rich, everybody fancies he has a right to plunder me. Men, women, hotel-keepers and merchants, all unite in defrauding me. If I buy pictures, they sell me vile daubs at fabulous prices.

They ask ridiculous amounts for horses, and then give me worthless, worn-out animals. Everybody borrows money from me--and I’m never repaid. 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. And be careful, mind; for he is exceedingly shrewd. Courage and good luck!” Courage! 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. The weapons he had to use were not at all to his taste, but he had not been allowed a choice in the matter; and since his enemies had decided on a warfare of duplicity, he was resolved to surpass them in cunning, and vanquish them by deception.

So, while hastening to the Marquis de Valorsay’s residence, he took stock of his chances, and recapitulated his resources, striving to foresee and remember everything. Thus if he failed--for he admitted the possibility of defeat, without believing in it--he would have no cause to reproach himself. 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. The baron’s agent could scarcely have a poverty-stricken appearance, for contact with millionaires is supposed to procure wealth as surely as proximity to fire insures warmth.

So he arrayed himself in a suit of black, which was neither too elegant nor too much worn, and donned a broad white necktie. He could see only one immediate, decisive chance against him. de Valorsay might possibly recognize him.

He thought not, but he was not sure; and anxious on this account, he at first decided to disguise himself. An imperfect disguise would attract attention and awaken suspicion; and could he really disguise his physiognomy? He was certain he could not. Very few men are capable of doing so successfully, even after long experience. Only two or three detectives and half a dozen actors possess the art of really changing their lineaments. Thus after weighing the pros and cons, Pascal determined to present himself as he was at the marquis’s house. On approaching M. de Valorsay’s residence in the Avenue des Champs Elysees, he slackened his pace. The mansion, which stood between a courtyard and a garden, was very large and handsome.

The stables and carriage-house--really elegant structures--stood on either side of the courtyard, near the half-open gate of which five or six servants were amusing themselves by teasing a large dog. 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. de Coralth emerged, accompanied by a young, fair-haired man, whose mustaches were waxed and turned up in the most audacious fashion. They were arm in arm, and turned in the direction of the Arc de Triomphe. Pascal’s heart thrilled with joy. “Fate favors me!” he said to himself. “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. “The marquis is very busy this morning,” said the servant to whom Pascal addressed himself at the gate. “I doubt if he can see you.” But when Pascal handed him one of his visiting cards, bearing the name of Maumejan, with this addition in pencil: “Who calls as the representative of Baron Trigault,” the valet’s face changed as if by enchantment.

“Oh!” said he, “that’s quite a different matter. If you come from Baron Trigault, you will be received with all the respect due to the Messiah.

I will announce you myself.” Everything in M. de Valorsay’s house, as at the baron’s residence, indicated great wealth, and yet a close observer would have detected a difference. The luxury of the Rue de la Ville-l’Eveque was of a real and substantial character, which one did not find in the Avenue des Champs Elysees. Everything in the marquis’s abode bore marks of the haste which mars the merest trifle produced at the present age. “Take a seat here, and I will see where the marquis is,” said the servant, as he ushered Pascal into a large drawing-room. The apartment was elegantly furnished, but had somewhat lost its freshness; the carpet, which had once been a marvel of beauty, was stained in several places, and as the servants had not always been careful to keep the shutters closed, the sunlight had perceptibly faded the curtains. The attention of visitors was at once attracted by the number of gold and silver cups, vases, and statuettes scattered about on side-tables and cheffoniers. 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. These were indeed the marquis’s chief claims to glory, and had cost him at least half of the immense fortune he had inherited. However, Pascal did not take much interest in these trophies, so the time of waiting seemed long.

“Valorsay is playing the diplomat,” he thought. “He doesn’t wish to appear to be anxious. Unfortunately, his servant has betrayed him.” At last the valet returned.

“The marquis will see you now, monsieur,” said he. This summons affected Pascal’s heart like the first roll of a drum beating the charge. “Heaven grant that he may not recognize me!” And with a firm step he followed the valet.

de Valorsay was seated in the apartment he usually occupied when he remained at home--a little smoking-room connected with his bedroom. He was to all intents busily engaged in examining some sporting journals. A bottle of Madeira and a partially filled glass stood near him. As the servant announced “Monsieur Maumejan!” he looked up and his eyes met Pascal’s. But his glance did not waver; not a muscle of his face moved; his countenance retained its usually cold and disdainful expression.

Evidently he had not the slightest suspicion that the man he had tried to ruin--his mortal enemy--was standing there before him. Maumejan,” said he, “Baron Trigault’s agent?” “Yes, monsieur----” “Pray be seated. I am just finishing here; I shall be at leisure in a moment.” Pascal took a chair. 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.

“If my blood mounted to my brain,” he had thought, “I should spring upon him and strangle him!” But no. His arteries did not throb more quickly; it was with perfect calmness--the calmness of a strong nature--that he stealthily watched M. de Valorsay. If he had seen him a week before he would have been startled by the change which the past few days had wrought in this brilliant nobleman’s appearance. He was little more than a shadow of his former self. And seen at this hour, before placing himself in his valet’s hands, before his premature decrepitude had been concealed by the artifices of the toilet, he was really frightful.

His face was haggard, and his red and swollen eyelids betrayed a long-continued want of sleep. The fact is, he had suffered terribly during the past week. 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. And who can say how many crimes the Marquis de Valorsay had committed since the day he provided his accomplice, the Viscount de Coralth, with those fatal cards? And apart from this there was something extremely appalling in the position of this ruined millionaire, who was contending desperately against his creditors for the vain appearance of splendor, with the despairing energy of a ship-wrecked mariner struggling for the possession of a floating spar.

Had he not confessed to M. 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. de Valorsay had asked for had lengthened into a quarter of an hour, and he had not yet finished his work. “What the devil is he doing?” wondered Pascal, who was following his enemy’s slightest movement with eager curiosity. Countless sporting newspapers were strewn over the table, the chairs, and the floor around the marquis, who took them up one after another, glanced rapidly through their columns, and threw them on the floor again, or placed them on a pile before him, first marking certain passages with a red pencil. 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! pray continue, Monsieur le Marquis,” interrupted Pascal. “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. “I am playing the part of a commentator,” he remarked. “I sold seven of my horses a few days ago, and the purchaser, before paying the stipulated price, naturally required an exact and authentic statement of each animal’s performances.

However, even this does not seem to have satisfied the gentleman, for he has now taken it into his head to ask for such copies of the sporting journals as record the victories or defeats of the animals he has purchased. A gentleman is not so exacting generally. 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. These folks are the curse of Paris, for, with but few exceptions, they only use their millions to enrich notorious women, scoundrels, hotel-keepers, and jockeys.” Pascal at once thought of the foreigner, Kami-Bey, whom he had met at Baron Trigault’s half an hour before, and who had complained so bitterly of having had worthless scrubs palmed off upon him when he fancied he had purchased valuable animals. “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. Had he not already been accused of defrauding Domingo’s champions by a conspiracy? At last the marquis heaved a sigh of relief.

“I’ve finished,” he muttered, as he tied up the bundle of papers he had laid aside, and after ringing the bell, he said to the servant who answered the summons: “Here, take this package to Prince Kami at the Grand Hotel.” Pascal’s presentiments had not deceived him, and he said to himself: “This is a good thing to know. Before this evening I shall look into this affair a little.” A storm was decidedly gathering over the Marquis de Valorsay’s head.

Certainly he must have expected it. Still he had sworn to stand fast until the end. 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. de Valorsay’s bald pate. He turned whiter than his linen, and even tottered, as if his lame leg, which was so much affected by sudden changes in the weather, had utterly refused all service. “What!

You haven’t--this is undoubtedly a joke.” “It is only too serious!” “But I had the baron’s word.” “Oh! his word!” “I had his solemn promise.” “It is sometimes impossible to keep one’s promises, sir.” The consequences of this disappointment must have been terrible, for the marquis could not maintain his self-control. Still he strove valiantly to conceal his emotion. 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. So, summoning all his energy, he mastered his emotion in some degree, and, instead of appearing desperate, succeeded in looking only irritated and annoyed. “In short,” he resumed, angrily, “you have brought no money! I counted on a hundred thousand francs this morning. This is kind on the baron’s part! 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. When I left him an hour ago, he was really disconsolate.

He was particularly anxious I should tell you that it was not his fault. He counted upon the payment of two very large amounts, and both of these have failed him.” The marquis had now recovered a little from the shock, though he was still very pale. He looked at Pascal with evident distrust, for he knew with what sweet excuses well-bred people envelope their refusals. “So the baron is disconsolate,” he remarked, in a tone of perceptible irony. “He is indeed!” “Poor baron! Ah! I pity him--pity him deeply.” As cold and as unmoved as a statue, Pascal seemed quite unconscious of the effect of the message he had brought--quite unconscious of Valorsay’s sufferings and self-constraint.

“You think I am jesting, monsieur,” he said, quietly, “but I assure you that the baron is very short of money just now.” “Nonsense! a man worth seven or eight millions of francs.” “I should say ten millions, at least.” “Then the excuse is all the more absurd.” Pascal shrugged his shoulders disdainfully. “It astonishes me, Monsieur le Marquis, to hear YOU speak in this way. It is not the magnitude of a man’s income that constitutes affluence, but rather the way in which that income is spent. In this foolish age, almost all rich people are in arrears. What income does the baron derive from his ten millions of francs?

Not more than five hundred thousand. A very handsome fortune, no doubt, and I should be more than content with it. But the baron gambles, and the baroness is the most elegant--in other words, the most extravagant--woman in Paris. They both of them love luxury, and their establishment is kept up in princely style. What are five hundred thousand francs under such circumstances as those? 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? de Valorsay knew this, but a terrible disquietude seized him. Had people begun to suspect HIS embarrassment? Had any rumor of it reached Baron Trigault’s ears?

This was what he wished to ascertain. “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. Fury mounted to his brain; he lost all control over himself, and springing up, with his face purple with rage, he exclaimed: “It’s a shame!

an infamous shame! and Trigault deserves to be severely punished. He has no business to keep a man in hot water for three days about such a trifle. If he had said ‘No’ in the first place, I should have made other arrangements, and I shouldn’t now find myself in a dilemma from which I see no possible way of escape. No gentleman would have been guilty of such a contemptible act--no one but a shopkeeper or a thief would have stooped to such meanness! This is the result of admitting these ridiculous parvenus into society, just because they happen to have money.” It certainly hurt Pascal to hear these insults heaped upon the baron, and it hurt him all the more since they were entirely due to the course he had personally adopted. However, a gesture, even a frown, might endanger the success of his undertaking, so he preserved an impassive countenance. “I must say that I don’t understand your indignation, Monsieur le Marquis,” he said, coldly. “I can see why you might feel annoyed, but why you should fly into a passion--” “Ah!

you don’t know----” began M. de Valorsay, but he stopped short. It was time. The truth had almost escaped his lips. “Know what?” inquired Pascal. But the marquis was again upon his guard. “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.

de Valorsay interrupted him with a contemptuous sneer. “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? The richest of my friends have only enough for themselves, even if they have enough.

The time of old stockings, stuffed full of savings, is past! Shall I apply to a banker? He would ask two days for reflection, and he would require the names of two or three of my friends on the note. If I go to my notary, there will be endless forms to be gone through, and remonstrances without number.” For a moment or more already, Pascal had been moving about uneasily on his chair, like a man who is waiting for an opportunity to make a suggestion, and as soon as M. de Valorsay paused to take breath, he exclaimed: “Upon my word! if I dared----” “Well?” “I would offer to obtain you these twenty-five thousand francs.” “You?” “Yes, I.” “Before six o’clock this evening?” “Certainly.” A glass of ice-water presented to a parched traveller while journeying over the desert sands of Sahara could not impart greater relief and delight than the marquis experienced on hearing Pascal’s offer. 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.

“Ah!

I have had a fortunate escape,” he thought. “What if I had revealed the truth!” But he was careful to conceal the secret joy that filled his heart. He feared lest he might say “Yes” too quickly, so betray his secret, and place himself at the mercy of the baron’s envoy. “I would willingly accept your offer,” he exclaimed, “if----” “If what?” “Would it be proper for me, after the baron has treated me in such a contemptible manner, to have any dealings with one of his subordinates?” Pascal protested vigorously. “Allow me to say,” he exclaimed, “that I am not any one’s subordinate. Trigault is my client, like thirty or forty others--nothing more.

He employs me in certain difficult and delicate negotiations, which I conduct to the best of my ability. 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. But such was not the case. It was simply this: a strange, but by no means impossible, idea had flashed through the marquis’s mind--“Oh!” thought he, “this unknown party with whom Maumejan offers to negotiate the loan, is probably none other than the baron himself. 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. And why not? There have been plenty of such instances. 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.

interest, plus a small commission.” These ideas and recollections were of considerable assistance in restoring Valorsay’s composure. “Enough said, then,” he answered, lightly. “I accept with pleasure. But----” “Ah! so there is a but!” “There is always one. 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.

“I shall charge you the ordinary rates,” he answered, “six per cent. interest, plus one-and-a-half per cent. commission.” “Bah!” “Plus the remuneration for my trouble and services.” “And what remuneration will satisfy you?” “One thousand francs. Is it too much?” If the marquis had retained the shadow of a doubt, it vanished now. “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.

Pascal drew up his head with a deeply injured air, and remarked in the chilling tone of a person who is strongly tempted to retract his word, “Then there is nothing more to be said, M. le Marquis; and since you find the conditions onerous----” “I did not say so,” interrupted M. de Valorsay, quickly--“I did not even think it!” This gave Pascal an opportunity to present his programme, and he availed himself of it. “Others may pretend to oblige people merely from motives of friendship,” he remarked.

“But I am more honest. If I do anything in the way of business, I expect to be paid for it; and I vary my terms according to my clients’ need. It would be impossible to have a fixed price for services like mine. When, on two different occasions, I saved a gentleman of your acquaintance from bankruptcy, I asked ten thousand francs the first time, and fifteen thousand the second. 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. The day after the wedding he paid me twenty thousand francs. If, instead of being a trifle short of money, you happened to be ruined, I should not ask you merely for a thousand francs. I should study your position, and fix my terms according to the magnitude of the peril from which I rescued you.” There was not a sentence, not a word of this cynical explanation which had not been carefully studied beforehand. There was not an expression which was not a tempting bait to the marquis’s evil instincts.

But M de Valorsay made no sign. “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. “And now, when shall I have this money?” inquired the marquis.

“By four o’clock.” “And I need fear no disappointment as in the baron’s case?” “Certainly not. What interest would M. Trigault have in lending you a hundred thousand francs? None whatever.

With me it is quite a different thing.

The profit I’m to realize is your security. In business matters distrust your friends. Apply to usurers rather than to them.

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. They wish to see you, monsieur.” Though Pascal had armed himself well against any unexpected mischance, he changed color on hearing the name of the worthy housekeeper. “All is lost if this creature sees and recognizes me!” he thought. Fortunately the Marquis was too much engrossed in his own affairs to note the momentary agitation of Baron Trigault’s envoy. “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!

Let the lady and gentleman wait.” The servant withdrew. The thought of passing out through the drawing-room filled Pascal with consternation. How could he hope to escape Madame Leon’s keen eyes? Fortunately M.

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! Pass out here--this is the shortest way.” And leading him through his bedroom the marquis conducted him to the staircase, where he even feigned to offer him his hand, saying: “A speedy return, dear M. Maumejan.” It is not at the moment of peril that people endure the worst agony; it is afterward, when they have escaped it. As he went down the staircase, Pascal wiped the cold sweat from his forehead. “Ah! it was a narrow escape!” he exclaimed, under his breath. He felt proud of the manner in which he had sustained a part so repugnant to his nature.

He was amazed to find that he could utter falsehoods with such a calm, unblushing face--he was astonished at his own audacity. And what a success he had achieved! He felt certain that he had just slipped round M. de Valorsay’s neck the noose which would strangle him later on. Still he was considerably disturbed by Madame Leon’s visit to the marquis. “What is she doing here with this physician?” he asked himself again and again. “Who is this man? 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. But he had no leisure to devote to the solution of this enigma. Time was flying, and before returning to the marquis’s house he must find out what had aroused the suspicions of the purchaser of those horses, the biographies of which had been so rigidly exacted.

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. They would scarcely allow him to explain what he desired. It was the pompous head valet in person who ushered him into one of the small reception-rooms, exclaiming: “The baron’s engaged, but I’m sure he would be annoyed if he failed to see you; and I will inform him at once.” A moment later, the baron entered quite breathless from his hurried descent of the staircase. “Ah! you have been successful,” he exclaimed, on seeing Pascal’s face. “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. “Providence is certainly on our side,” said the baron, thoughtfully. “Kami is still here.” “Is it possible?” “It’s a fact.

Did you think it would be easy to get rid of this confounded Turk! He invited himself to breakfast without the slightest ceremony, and would give me no peace until I promised to play with him for two hours.

I was closeted with him, cards in hand, when they told me you were here.

Come, we’ll go and question him.” They found the interesting foreigner in a savage mood. 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. “It’s purely from force of habit,” said he. “Ah! 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! it was worse than highway robbery.” “Would it be indiscreet to ask you by whom you have been defrauded?” Kami-Bey’s purple cheeks became a trifle pale.

“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. Besides, I am not sufficiently sure of the man’s guilt to noise it abroad. I have no positive proofs as yet.” He was evidently terribly frightened, and the first thing to be done was to reassure him. “Come,” insisted the baron, “tell us the man’s name. This gentleman here”--pointing to Pascal--“is one of my most esteemed friends. I will answer for him as I would for myself; and we will swear upon our honor not to reveal the secret we ask you for, without your permission.” “Truly?” “You have our word of honor,” replied both the baron and Pascal in a breath.

After casting a half-frightened glance around him, the worthy Turk seemed to gather courage. 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. The baron shrugged his shoulders, but Pascal stepped bravely forward.

“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. He sprang nervously on to his short, fat legs, his eyes wildly dilating and his hands fluttering despairingly. “Don’t speak so loud! don’t speak so loud!” he exclaimed, imploringly.

As he did not even attempt to deny it, the truth of the assertion might be taken for granted. But Pascal was not content with this. “Now that we know the fact, I hope, Prince, that you will be sufficiently obliging to tell us how it all happened,” he remarked. Poor Kami. He was in despair. “Alas!” he replied, reluctantly, “nothing could be more simple. I wanted to set up a racing stable. Not that I care much for sport.

I can scarcely distinguish a horse from a mule--but morning and evening, everybody says to me: ‘Prince, a man like you ought to make your name celebrated on the turf.’ Besides I never open a paper without reading: ‘Such a man ought to be a patron of the noblest of sports.’ At last, I said to myself: ‘Yes, they are right. I ought to take part in racing.’ So I began to look about for some horses. 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. I accepted his offer, and visited his stables, where I selected seven of his best horses and paid for them; and I paid a good round price, I assure you. Now comes the knavery. He has not given me the horses I purchased. The real animals, the valuable ones--have been sold in England under false names, and although the horses sent to me may be like the others in appearance, they are really only common animals, wanting both in blood and speed.” Pascal and the baron exchanged astonished glances. 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.

“How did you fail to discover this at the outset, prince?” inquired Pascal in an incredulous tone. “Because my time was so much occupied.” “But your servants?” “Ah! 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. A jockey whom I thought of employing had often ridden one of the animals which I fancied myself the owner of. Naturally, I showed him the horse, but he had no sooner set eyes on it than he exclaimed: ‘That the horse! You’ve been cheated, prince!’ Then we examined the others, and the fraud became apparent.” Knowing Kami’s character better than Pascal, the baron had good reason to distrust the accuracy of these statements. For the Turkish millionaire’s superb contempt of money was only affected. Vanity alone unloosed his purse-strings. He was quite capable of presenting Jenny Fancy with a necklace costing five-and-twenty thousand francs for the sake of seeing his generosity recorded in the Gaulois or the Figaro the next day; but he would refuse to give a trifle to the mother of a starving family.

Besides, it was his ambition to be regarded as the most swindled man in Europe. But though he was shamefully imposed upon, it was not voluntarily--for there was a strong dose of Arabian avarice and distrust in his composition. “Frankly, prince,” said the baron, “your story sounds like one of the wild legends of your native land. Valorsay is certainly no fool. 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? Besides, the sale was only conditional, and took place under the seal of secrecy.

The marquis reserved the right to take his horses back on payment of a stipulated sum, and the time he was to have for consideration only expired on the day before yesterday.” “Eh! why didn’t you tell us that at first?” cried the baron. The marquis’s rascality was now easily explained. 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.

“And what do you intend to do, prince?” asked Pascal. “Ah! I am still in doubt. I have compelled the marquis to give me the papers in which the exploits of these horses are recorded. These statements will be of service in case of a law-suit. But shall I or shall I not enter a complaint against him? 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. Besides, the man is a dangerous enemy.

And what would become of me if I happened to side against him? I should be compelled to leave Paris. Ah! 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.

However, controlling himself at last, he exclaimed in a tone of assumed indifference: “No matter, there’s been enough said on this subject for one day--I’m here to play--so let us begin, baron. For we are wasting precious time, as you so often remark.” Pascal had nothing more to learn; so he shook hands with the baron, made an appointment with him for the same evening, and went away. It was only half-past two; a good hour and a half remained at his disposal. “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. Thereupon perceiving a cafe near by, he entered it, ordered breakfast, and lingered there until it was time to return to the Marquis de Valorsay’s. 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. But prudence advised him not to expose himself to the danger of an encounter with Madame Leon and Dr.

Monsieur Maumejan,” cried the marquis, as soon as Pascal made his appearance. He had been counting the seconds with intense anxiety, as his tone of voice unmistakably revealed. In reply Pascal gravely drew from his pocket twenty-four bank-notes, of a thousand francs each, and he placed them upon the table, saying: “Here is the amount, Monsieur le Marquis. I have, of course, deducted my commission. Now, if you will write and sign a note for twenty-five thousand francs, payable to my order two months hence, our business for to-day will be concluded.” M. de Valorsay’s hand trembled nervously as he penned the desired note, for, until the very last moment, he had doubted the promises of this unknown agent who had made his appearance so opportunely Then, when the document was signed, he carelessly slipped the money into a drawer and exclaimed: “So here’s the needful to pay my debt of honor; but my embarrassment is none the less great. These twenty-four thousand francs won’t take the place of the hundred thousand which Baron Trigault promised me.” And, as Pascal made no reply, the marquis began a desultory tramp up and down the smoking-room. He was very pale, his brows were knit; he looked like a man who was meditating a decisive step, and who was calculating the consequences. But having no time to waste in hesitation, he soon paused in front of Pascal, and exclaimed: “Since you have just lent me twenty-four thousand francs, why won’t you lend me the rest?” But Pascal shook his head.

“One risks nothing by advancing twenty-five thousand francs to a person in your position, Monsieur le Marquis. Whatever happens, such a sum as that can always be gathered from the wreck. But double or triple the amount! 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.

de Valorsay had now gone too far to draw back. “Ah, well!” he resumed, “the truth is this--my affairs are terribly involved.” “The devil!

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. I am on the point of contracting a marriage which will make me one of the richest men in Paris; but I must have a little time to bring the affair to a successful termination, and I need money--and my creditors are pressing me unmercifully. You told me this morning that you once assisted a man who was in a similar position. You can set your own price on your services.” More easily overcome by joy than by sorrow, Pascal almost betrayed himself. He had attained his object. 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. Will you explain it to me?

I am listening.” XIV.

It was nearly midnight when M. Wilkie left the Hotel d’Argeles after the terrible scene in which he had revealed his true character. On seeing him pass out with haggard eyes, colorless lips, and disordered clothing, the servants gathered in the vestibule took him at first for another of those ruined gamblers who not unfrequently left the house with despair in their hearts. “Another fellow who’s had bad luck!” they remarked sneeringly to one another. “No doubt about that. He is pretty effectually used up, judging from appearances,” one of them remarked.

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.

Wilkie was already far away, hastening up the boulevard with an agile step.

Any one else would have been overcome with shame and sorrow--would have been frightened by the thought of what he had done, and have striven to find some way to conceal his disgrace; but he, not in the least. 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, Wilkie, to be humiliated in this style! 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. “Ah! the great brute shall pay for it,” he repeated, again and again, grinding his teeth. And if he hastened up the boulevard, it was only because he hoped to meet his two chosen friends, M. Costard and the Viscount de Serpillon, the co-proprietors of Pompier de Nanterre.

For he intended to place his outraged honor in their care. They should be his seconds, and present his demand for satisfaction to the man who had insulted him. A duel was the only thing that could appease his furious anger and heal his wounded pride. And a great scandal, which he would be the hero of, was not without a certain charm for him.

What a glorious chance to win notoriety at an epoch when newspapers have become public laundries, in which every one washes his soiled linen and dries it in the glare of publicity!

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.

Moreover, he was already twisting and turning the terms of the notice which his seconds must have inserted in the Figaro, hesitating between two or three equally startling beginnings: “Another famous duel,” or “Yesterday, after a scandalous scene, an encounter,” etc., etc. Unfortunately, he did not meet either M. Costard or the Viscount de Serpillon. Strange to say, they were not in any of the cafes, where the flower of French chivalry usually congregates, in the company of golden-haired young women, from nine in the evening until one o’clock in the morning. This disappointment grieved M. Wilkie sorely, although he derived some benefit from it, for his disordered attire attracted attention at each place he entered, and acquaintances eagerly inquired: “Where have you come from, and what has happened to you?” Whereupon he replied with an air of profound secrecy: “Pray don’t speak of it. A shocking affair! If it were noised abroad I should be inconsolable.” At last the cafes began to close, and promenaders became rare. Wilkie, much to his regret, was obliged to go home. When he had locked his door and donned his dressing-gown, he sat down to think over the events of the day, and collect his scattered wits.

What most troubled and disquieted him was not the condition in which he had left Madame Lia d’Argeles, his mother, who was, perhaps, dying, through his fault! It was not the terrible sacrifice that this poor woman had made for him in a transport of maternal love! It was not the thought of the source from which the money he had squandered for so many years had been derived. Wilkie was quite above such paltry considerations--good enough for commonplace and antiquated people. “He was too clever for that.

Ah! 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. For rising threateningly between the Chalusse millions and himself, he pictured the form of his father, this man whom he did not know, but whose very name had made Madame d’Argeles shudder. Wilkie was seized with terror when he looked his actual situation in the face. What was to become of him? 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. On the other hand, if he ever obtained anything from the count’s estate, which was more than doubtful, would he not be obliged to wait a long time for it? Yes, in all probability such would be the case. Then how should he live, how would he be able to obtain food in the meantime? His despair was so poignant that tears came to his eyes; and he bitterly deplored the step he had taken. Yes, he actually sighed for the past; he longed to live over again the very years in which he had so often complained of his destiny. Then, though not a millionaire by any means, he at least wanted for nothing. Every quarter-day a very considerable allowance was promptly paid him, and, in great emergencies, he could apply to Mr. Patterson, who always sent a favorable answer if not drawn upon too heavily.

Yes, he sighed for that time! Ah! if he had only then realized how fortunate he was! Had he not been one of the most opulent members of the society in which he moved?

Had he not been flattered and admired more than any of his companions? Had he not found the most exquisite happiness in his part ownership of Pompier de Nanterre! Now, what remained? Nothing, save anxiety concerning the future, and all sorts of uncertainties and terrors! What a mistake! What a blunder he had made! Ah! if he could only begin again.

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. He was in this ungrateful frame of mind when a loud, almost savage, ring came at his door. As his servant slept in an attic upstairs, Wilkie was quite alone in his rooms, so he took the lamp and went to open the door himself. At this hour of the night, the visitor could only be M. Costard or the Viscount de Serpillon, or perhaps both of them. “They have heard that I was looking for them, and so they have hastened here,” he thought. But he was mistaken. The visitor was neither of these gentlemen, but M. Ferdinand de Coralth in person.

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. Then as his wrath kindled, “Ah! so it’s you!” he exclaimed, angrily. “You come at a good time!” But M. de Coralth was too much exasperated to notice Wilkie’s strange greeting. Seizing him roughly by the arm, and closing the door with a kick, he dragged Wilkie back into the little drawing-room.

“Yes, it’s I,” he said, curtly. “It’s I--come to inquire if you have gone mad?” “Viscount!” “I can find no other explanation of your conduct!

What! You choose Madame d’Argeles’s reception day, and an hour when there are fifty guests in her drawing-room to present yourself!” “Ah, well! it wasn’t from choice. I had been there twice before, and had the doors shut in my face.” “You ought to have gone back ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times, rather than have accomplished such an idiotic prank as this.” “Excuse me.” “What did I recommend? 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.

What could you be thinking of, to make such an absurd and frightful scene? For you howled and shrieked like a street hawker, and we could hear you in the drawing-room. If all is not irretrievably lost, there must be a special Providence for the benefit of fools!” In his dismay, Wilkie endeavored to falter some excuses, but he was only able to begin a few sentences which died away, uncompleted in his throat.

de Coralth, who was usually as cold and as polished as marble, quieted his own wrath. 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. “If any one else had led me into such a scrape, I should have called him to account in double-quick time.” M. 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! Now, tell me what passed between your mother and yourself?” “First I should like----” “Dash it all! Do you suppose that I intend to remain here all night? Tell me what occurred, and be quick about it. And try to speak the truth.” It was one of M. Wilkie’s greatest boasts that he had an indomitable will--an iron nature.

But the viscount exercised powerful influence over him, and, to tell the truth, inspired him with a form of emotion which was nearly akin to fear. 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. So, ceasing his recriminations, he began to describe what he styled his explanation with Madame d’Argeles.

All went well at first; for he dared not misrepresent the facts. But when he came to the intervention of the man who had prevented him from striking his mother, he turned crimson, and rage again filled his heart. “I’m sorry I let myself get into such a mess!” he exclaimed. “You should have seen my condition. My shirt-collar was torn, and my cravat hung in tatters. He was much stronger than I--the contemptible scoundrel!--ah! 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. de Coralth had to exercise considerable constraint to listen to these fine projects.

“I must warn you that you ought to speak in other terms of an honorable and honored gentleman,” he interrupted, at last. what! You know him then?” “Yes, Madame d’Argeles’s defender is Baron Trigault.” M. Wilkie’s heart bounded with joy, as he heard this name.

“Ah! this is capital!” he exclaimed. “What!

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. Wilkie: “I advise you, for the sake of your own safety,” he said, measuring his words to give them greater weight, “never to mention the Baroness Trigault’s name except in terms of the most profound respect.” There was no misunderstanding 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. So, in his most persuasive manner, he resumed: “Let us say no more about the wife, but give our attention to the husband. So it was the baron who insulted me! A duel with him--what good luck! he may sleep in peace to-night, but as soon as he is up in the morning he will find Costard and Serpillon on hand. Serpillon has not an equal as a second. First, he knows the best places for a meeting; then he lends the combatants weapons when they have none; he procures a physician; and he is on excellent terms with the journalists, who publish reports of these encounters.” The viscount had never had a very exalted opinion of Wilkie’s intelligence, but now he was amazed to see how greatly he had overestimated it. “This duel will never take place.” “I should like to know who will prevent it?” “I will, if you persist in such an absurd idea. 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. So, between your duel and my help make your choice, and quickly.” The prospect of sending his seconds to demand satisfaction from Baron Trigault was certainly a very attractive one.

But, on the other hand, Wilkie could not afford to dispense with M.

de Coralth’s services. “But the baron has insulted me,” he urged. “Well, you can demand satisfaction when you obtain possession of your property: but the least scandal now would spoil your last chances.” “I will abandon the project, then,” sighed Wilkie, despondently; “but pray advise me. What do you think of my situation?” M. de Coralth seemed to consider a moment, and then gravely replied: “I think that, UNASSISTED, you have no chance whatever. You have no standing, no influential connections, no position--you are not even a Frenchman.” “Alas! 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.

“Listen to me,” said he; “I will do for you what I would not do for any one else.

I will endeavor to interest in your cause one of my friends, who is all powerful by reason of his name, his fortune, and his connections--the Marquis de Valorsay, in fact.” “The one who is so well known upon the turf?” “The same.” “And you will introduce me to him?” “Yes. Be ready to-morrow at eleven o’clock, and I will call for you and take you to his house. If he interests himself in your cause, it is as good as gained.” And as his companion overwhelmed him with thanks, he rose, and said: “I must go now. No more foolishness, and be ready to-morrow at the appointed time.” Thanks to the surprising mutability of temper which was the most striking characteristic of his nature, M. Wilkie was already consoled for his blunder. He had received M. de Coralth as an enemy; but he now escorted him to the door with every obsequious attention--in fact, just as if he looked upon him as his preserver. A word which the viscount had dropped during the conversation had considerably helped to bring about this sudden revulsion of feelings.

“You cannot fail to understand that if the Marquis de Valorsay espouses your cause, you will want for nothing. And if a lawsuit is unavoidable, he will be perfectly willing to advance the necessary funds.” How could M. Wilkie lack confidence after that? The brightest hopes, the most ecstatic visions had succeeded the gloomy forebodings of a few hours before. de Valorsay, a nobleman celebrated for his adventures, his horses, and his fortune, more than sufficed to make him forget his troubles. What rapture to become that illustrious nobleman’s acquaintance, perhaps his friend! To move in the same orbit as this star of the first magnitude which would inevitably cast some of its lustre upon him! Now he would be a somebody in the world.

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. “Why do you say ‘already?’” replied the viscount. “I am a quarter of an hour behind time. Are you not ready?” “Yes, certainly.” “Let us start at once, then; my brougham is outside.” The drive was a silent one.

Ferdinand de Coralth, whose smooth white skin would ordinarily have excited the envy of a young girl, did not look like himself. His face was swollen and covered with blotches, and there were dark blue circles round his eyes. He seemed, moreover, to be in a most savage humor. “He hasn’t had sleep enough,” thought M. Wilkie, with his usual discernment; “he hasn’t a bronze constitution like myself.” M. 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. For the first, and probably the last time in his life, M. Wilkie distrusted his own powers, and feared that he was not “quite up to the mark,” as he elegantly expressed it. The sight of the Marquis de Valorsay’s handsome mansion was not likely to restore his assurance.

When he entered the courtyard, where the master’s mail-phaeton stood in waiting; when through the open doors of the handsome stables he espied the many valuable horses neighing in their stalls, and the numerous carriages shrouded in linen covers; when he counted the valets on duty in the vestibule, and when he ascended the staircase behind a lackey attired in a black dress-coat, and as serious in mien as a notary; when he passed through the handsome drawing-rooms, filled to overflowing with pictures, armor, statuary, and all the trophies gained by the marquis’s horses upon the turf, M. Wilkie mentally acknowledged that he knew nothing of high life, and that what he had considered luxury was scarcely the shadow of the reality. He felt actually ashamed of his own ignorance. 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. le Vicomte de Coralth!--M. Wilkie.” With a most gracious and dignified air--the air of a true GRAND seigneur--the only portion of his inheritance which he had preserved intact, the marquis rose to his feet, and, offering his hand to M. de Coralth, exclaimed: “You are most welcome, viscount. This gentleman is undoubtedly the young friend you spoke of in the note I received from you this morning?” “The same; and really he stands greatly in need of your kindness.

He finds himself in an extremely delicate position, and knows no one who can lend him a helping hand.” “Ah, well, I will lend him one with pleasure, since he is your friend. But I must know the circumstances before I can act. Sit down, gentlemen, and enlighten me.” M. Wilkie had prepared his story in advance, a touching and witty narrative; but when the moment came to begin it, he found himself unable to speak. He opened his mouth, but no sound issued from his lips, and it seemed as if he had been stricken dumb.

Accordingly it was M. de Coralth who made a statement of the case, and he did it well.

The narrative thus gained considerably in clearness and precision; and even 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. de Valorsay was listening with the closest attention. Worthy marquis! if his own interests had been in jeopardy he could not have appeared more deeply concerned. 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. de Valorsay reflected for a little, and then, addressing M. Wilkie, replied: “Yes, I consent to assist you, monsieur.

First, because your cause seems to me just, and, also, because you are M. de Coralth’s friend. 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. The eye of the public is upon me, and I have my PRESTIGE to maintain. I have given you a great mark of confidence, for in lending you my influence I become, in some measure at least, your sponsor. 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.

The main thing is to circumvent your father, the terrible man with whom your mother has threatened you.” “Ah! but how?” “I shall dress at once and go to the Hotel de Chalusse, in order to ascertain what has occurred there.

You on your side must hasten to Madame d’Argeles and request her politely, but firmly, to furnish you with the necessary proofs to assert your rights. If she consents, well and good! If she refuses, we will consult some lawyer as to the next step. In any case, call here again at four o’clock.” But the thought of meeting Madame d’Argeles again was anything but pleasing to Wilkie.

“I would willingly yield that undertaking to some one else,” said he. “Cannot some one else go in my place?” Fortunately M.

de Coralth knew how to encourage him. “What! are you afraid?” he asked. Afraid! 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. “What an idiot!” muttered M. de Coralth. “And to think that there are ten thousand in Paris built upon the very same plan!” M. de Valorsay gravely shook his head. “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. But I fear he won’t go to Madame d’Argeles’s house. You noticed his repugnance!” “Oh, you needn’t trouble yourself in the least on that account--he’ll go. He would go to the devil if the noble Marquis de Valorsay ordered him to do so.” M. de Coralth understood Wilkie perfectly. The fear of being considered a coward by a nobleman like the Marquis de Valorsay was more than sufficient, not only to divest him of all his scruples, but even to induce him to commit any act of folly, or actually a crime. For if he had looked upon M.

de Coralth as an oracle, he considered the marquis to be a perfect god. Accordingly, as he hastened toward Madame d’Argeles’s residence, he said to himself: “Why shouldn’t I go to her house? 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. de Coralth do so often. However, the unusual aspect of the house excited his surprise, and puzzled him not a little. Three huge furniture vans, heavily laden, were standing outside the gate. In the courtyard there were two more vehicles of the same description, which a dozen men or so were busily engaged in loading. “Ah, ha!” muttered 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. “Madame is at home,” replied one of the men, in anything but a polite tone; “and I will go and see if she will consent to see you.

Wait here.” He went off, leaving M. Wilkie in the vestibule to settle his collar and twirl his puny mustaches, with affected indifference; but in reality he was far from comfortable. For the servants did not hesitate to stare at him, and it was quite impossible not to read their contempt in their glances. They even sneered audibly and pointed at him; and he heard five or six epithets more expressive than elegant which could only have been meant for himself. “The fools!” thought he, boiling with anger. Ah! if I dared. If a gentleman like myself was allowed to notice such blackguards, how I’d chastise them!” But the valet who had gone to warn Madame d’Argeles soon reappeared and put an end to his sufferings. “Madame will see you,” said the man, impudently.

“Ah! if I were in her place----” “Come, make haste,” rejoined Wilkie, indignantly, and following the servant, he was ushered into a room which had already been divested of its hangings, curtains, and furniture. He here found Madame d’Argeles engaged in packing a large trunk with household linen and sundry articles of clothing. By a sort of miracle the unfortunate woman had survived the terrible shock which had at first threatened to have an immediately fatal effect. Still she had none the less received her death-blow. It was only necessary to look at her to be assured of that. She was so greatly changed that when M. Wilkie’s eyes first fell on her, he asked himself if this were really the same person whom he had met on the previous evening.

Henceforth she would be an old woman. You would have taken her for over fifty, so terrible had been the sufferings caused her by the shameful conduct of her son. In this sad-eyed, haggard-faced woman, clad in black, no one would have recognized the notorious Lia d’Argeles, who, only the evening before, had driven round the lake, reclining on the cushions of her victoria, and eclipsing all the women around her by the splendor of her toilette. Nothing now remained of the gay worldling but the golden hair which she was condemned to see always the same, since its tint had been fixed by dyes as indelible as the stains upon her past. Wilkie entered, and in the expressionless voice of those who are without hope, she asked: “What do you wish of me?” As usual, when the time came to carry out his happiest conceptions, his courage failed him. “I came to talk about our affairs, you know,” he replied, “and I find you moving.” “I am not moving.” “Nonsense!

you can’t make me believe that! What’s the meaning of these carts in the courtyard?” “They are here to convey all the furniture in the house to the auction-rooms.” Wilkie was struck dumb for a moment, but eventually recovering himself a little, he exclaimed: “What! you are going to sell everything?” “Yes.” “Astonishing, upon my honor! But afterward?” “I shall leave Paris.” “Bah! and where are you going?” With a gesture of utter indifference, she gently replied: “I don’t know; I shall go where no one will know me, and where it will be possible for me to hide my shame.” A terrible disquietude seized hold of Wilkie. 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. “The devil,” he remarked, “I don’t think this at all pleasant! What is to become of me? How am I to obtain possession of the Count de Chalusse’s estate? That’s what I am after!

It’s rightfully mine, and I’m determined to have it, as I told you once before. 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.

“Don’t be alarmed,” she replied bitterly, “I shall leave you the means of asserting your right to my parents’ estate.” “Ah--so----” “Your threats obliged me to decide contrary to my own wishes. 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. If you were poor and compelled to earn your daily bread--a task which you are probably incapable of performing--who can tell what depths of degradation you might descend to? With your instincts and your vices, who knows what crime you wouldn’t commit to obtain money? It wouldn’t be long before you were in the dock, and I should hear of you only through your disgrace. But, on the other hand, if you were rich, you would probably lead an honest life, like many others, who, wanting for nothing, are not tempted to do wrong, who, in fact, show virtue in which there is nothing worthy of praise. For real virtue implies temptation--a struggle and victory.” Although he did not understand these remarks very well, M. Wilkie evinced a desire to offer some objections; but Madame d’Argeles had already resumed: “So I went to my notary this morning. I told him everything; and by this time my renunciation of my rights to the estate of the Count de Chalusse is already recorded.” “What!

your renunciation. no.” “Allow me to finish since you don’t understand me. As soon as I renounce the inheritance it becomes yours.” “Truly?” “I have no wish to deceive you. 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. “And when will you give me these documents?” he faltered, after a short pause. “You shall have them before you leave this house; but first of all I must talk with you.” XV. Agitated and excited though he was, M. Wilkie had not once ceased to think of M. de Coralth and the Marquis de Valorsay.

What would they do in such a position, and how should he act to conform himself to the probable example of these models of deportment? Manifestly he ought to assume that stolid and insolent air of boredom which is considered a sure indication of birth and breeding. Convinced of this, and seized with a laudable desire to emulate such distinguished examples, he had perched himself upon a trunk, where he still sat with his legs crossed. He now pretended to suppress a yawn, as he growled, “What! some more long phrases--and another melodramatic display?” Absorbed in the memories she had invoked, Madame d’Argeles paid no heed to Wilkie’s impertinence. “Yes, I must talk with you,” she said, “and more for your sake than for my own.

I must tell you who I am, and through what strange vicissitudes I have passed. You know what family I belong to. 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. When I was a child, my parents lived at the Hotel de Chalusse, in the Faubourg Saint Germain, a perfect palace, surrounded by one of those immense gardens, which are no longer seen in Paris--a real park, shaded with century-old trees. Certainly everything that money could procure, or vanity desire, was within my reach; and yet my youth was wretchedly unhappy. I scarcely knew my father, who was devoured by ambition, and had thrown himself body and soul into the vortex of politics. Either my mother did not love me, or thought it beneath her dignity to make any display of sensibility; but at all events her reserve had raised a wall of ice between herself and me. As for my brother he was too much engrossed in pleasure to think of a mere child.

So I lived quite alone, too proud to accept the love and friendship of my inferiors--abandoned to the dangerous inspirations of solitude, and with no other consolation than my books--books which had been chosen for me by my mother’s confessor, and which were calculated to fill my imagination with visionary and romantic fancies. 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. “I do not pretend to justify my fault, I am only explaining it.

I thought myself the most unfortunate being in the world--and such I really was, since I honestly believed it--when I happened to meet Arthur Gordon, your father. I saw him for the first time at a fete given at the house of the Comte de Commarin. How he, a mere adventurer, had succeeded in forcing his way into the most exclusive society in the world, is a point which I have never been able to explain. But, alas! 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! Ah! why does not God allow a man’s face to reflect at least something of his nature? 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.

In his whole appearance there was certainly a mysterious and fatal charm. I afterward learned that this was only a natural result of the wild life he had led.

He was only twenty-six, and he had already been the commander of a slave ship, and had fought in Mexico at the head of one of those guerilla bands which make politics an excuse for pillage and murder. He divined only too well the impression he had made upon my heart. I met him twice afterward in society.

He did not speak to me; he even pretended to avoid me, but standing a little on one side, he watched my every movement with burning eyes in which I fancied I could read a passion as absorbing as my own. At last he ventured to write to me. 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. I was frightened, and my first impulse was to take it, not to my mother--whom I regarded as my natural enemy--but to my father. However, he chanced to be absent; I kept the letter, I read it, I answered it--and he wrote again. “Alas! from that moment my conduct was inexcusable. I knew that it was worse than a fault to continue this clandestine correspondence. I knew my parents would never give my hand in marriage to a man who was not of noble birth.

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. Besides, he gave me no time to breathe, or reflect. Everywhere, constantly, every instant, he compelled me to think of him. By some miracle of address and audacity, he had discovered a means of intruding upon my presence, even in my father’s house. For instance, every morning I found the vases in my room full of choice flowers, though I was never able to discover what hands had placed them there. Ah! how can one help believing in an omnipresent passion which one inhales with the very air one breathes!

How can one resist it? “I only discovered Arthur Gordon’s object when it was too late. He had come to Paris with the fixed determination of trapping some rich heiress, and forcing her family to give her to him with a large dowry, after one of those disgraceful scandals which render a marriage inevitable. At the very same time he was pursuing two other rich young girls, persuaded that one of the three would certainly become his victim.

“I was the first to yield. One of those unforeseen events which are the work of Providence, was destined to decide my fate. Several times, already, in compliance with Arthur’s urgent entreaties, I had met him at night time in a little pavilion in our garden. This pavilion contained a billiard-room and a spacious gallery in which my brother practised fencing and pistol shooting with his masters and friends. There, thanks to the liberty I enjoyed, we thought ourselves perfectly secure from observation, and we were imprudent enough to light the candles. One night when I had just joined Arthur in the pavilion, I thought I heard the sound of hoarse, heavy breathing behind me. I turned round in a fright and saw my brother standing on the threshold.

then I realized how guilty I had been! I felt that one or the other of these two men--my lover or my brother--would not leave that room alive. “I tried to speak, to throw myself between them, but I found I could neither speak nor move; it was as if I had been turned to stone. Nor did they exchange a word at first. But at last my brother drew two swords from their scabbards, and throwing one at Arthur’s feet, exclaimed: ‘I have no wish to assassinate you. 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!

In an instant it was all over. Arthur caught up the sword, and springing upon my brother, disarmed him, and wounded him in the breast. I saw this. I saw the blood spurt out upon my lover’s hands. I saw my brother stagger, beat the air wildly with his hands, and fall apparently lifeless to the floor. 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. Wilkie’s heart was not exactly touched, he was, as he afterward confessed, at least rather interested. But Madame d’Argeles seemed to have forgotten his existence. She wiped away the foam-flecked blood which had risen to her lips, and in the same mournful voice resumed her story.

“When I regained my senses it was morning, and I was lying, still dressed, on a bed in a strange room. Arthur Gordon was standing at the foot of the bed anxiously watching my movements. ‘You are in my house,’ said he. ‘Your brother is dead!’ Almighty God! I thought I should die as well.

I prayed for death. But, in spite of my sobs, he pitilessly continued: ‘It is a terrible misfortune which I shall never cease to regret. And yet, it was his own fault. You, who witnessed the scene, know that it was so.

You can still see on my face the mark of the blow he dealt me. I only defended myself and you.’ I was ignorant then of the accepted code of duelling. I did not know that by throwing himself upon my brother before he was on guard, Arthur Gordon had virtually assassinated him. He relied upon my ignorance for the success of the sinister farce he was playing. ‘When I saw your brother fall,’ he continued, ‘I was wild with terror; and not knowing what I did, I caught you up in my arms and brought you here.

But don’t tremble, I know that you are not in my house of your own free will. A carriage is below and awaits your orders to convey you to your parents’ home. It will be easy to find an explanation for last night’s catastrophe. 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. I felt as if I were going mad. ‘And you!’ I exclaimed, ‘you! What will become of you?’ He shook his head, and with a look of anguish, replied: ‘Me!

What does it matter about me! I am ruined undoubtedly. Nothing matters now that I must live apart from you’!

Ah! he knew my heart. Swayed by an emotion which was madness rather than heroism, I sprang toward him, and clasped him in my arms: ‘Then I, too, am lost!’ I cried. ‘Since fate united us, nothing but death shall separate us. I am your accomplice. Let the curse fall upon both!’ “A keen observer would certainly have detected a gleam of fiendish joy in his eyes. With feigned energy he refused to accept such a sacrifice. 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! He would not suffer me to bring misery upon myself, and eternal remorse upon him. But the more he repulsed me, the more obstinately I clung to him.

The more forcibly he showed the horror of the sacrifice, the more I was convinced that my honor compelled me to make it. So at last he yielded, or seemed to yield, with transports of gratitude and love. yes, I accept your sacrifice, my darling!’ he exclaimed. ‘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. ‘I have my happiness to defend now! I will not suffer any one to discover us and separate us now. We must start at once, without losing a moment, and gain my native land, America. There, we shall be safe.

For rest assured they will search for us. Who knows but even now the officers of the law are upon our track? Your family is all-powerful--I am a mere nobody--we should be crushed if they discover us. They would bury you in a gloomy cloister, and I should be tried as a common thief, or as a vile assassin.’ My only answer was: ‘Let us go! Let us go at once!’ “It had been easy for him to foresee what the result of this interview would be. 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. Besides, the coachman must have received his instructions in advance for he drove us straight to the Havre Railway station without a word.

It was not until some months afterward that these trifles, which entirely escaped my notice at the time, opened my eyes to the truth.

When we reached the station we found a train ready to start, and we took our places in it. I tried to quiet my conscience with miserable sophistries. 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. And thus I fled with him, although I thought I left a corpse behind me--the corpse of my only brother.” M. Wilkie was actually so much interested that he forgot his anxiety concerning his attitude, and no longer thought of M. de Coralth and the Marquis de Valorsay. He even sprang up, and exclaimed: “Amazing!” But Madame d’Argeles had already resumed: “Such was my great, inexcusable, irreparable fault.

I have told you the whole truth, without trying either to conceal or justify anything. Listen to my chastisement! On our arrival at Le Havre the next day, Arthur confessed that he was greatly embarrassed financially.

Owing to our precipitate flight, he had not had time to realize the property he possessed--at least so he told me--a banker, on whom he had depended, had moreover failed him, and he had not sufficient money to pay our passage to New York.

This amazed me. My education had been absurd, like that of most young girls in my station. I knew nothing of real life, of its requirements and difficulties. 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.

So I was not in the least prepared for the request to which this confession served as preface, and Arthur Gordon was obliged to ask me point-blank if I did not happen to have some money about me, or some jewelry which could be converted into money. I gave him all I had, my purse containing a few louis, a ring and a necklace, with a handsome diamond cross attached to it. 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. One never knows what may happen.’ “Want of money was keeping us prisoners at Le Havre, when Arthur Gordon chanced to meet an old acquaintance, who was the captain of an American sailing vessel. He confided his embarrassment to his friend, and the latter, whose vessel was to sail at the end of the same week, kindly offered us a free passage. 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.

But after the evening meal he often lingered at table smoking and drinking with his friend the captain, and when he joined me afterward, heated with alcohol, he shocked me by advocating theories which were both novel and repulsive to me. Once, after drinking more than usual, he entirely forgot his assumed part, and revealed himself in his true character. 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. And the blow had fallen just as he fancied he had reached the goal; just as he thought he would reap the reward of his labor. In a few weeks’ more time he would undoubtedly have gained sufficient influence over me to persuade me to elope with him.

This would, of course, have caused a great scandal; the next day there would have been a family conclave; a compromise would have been effected, and finally, a marriage arranged with a large dowry, to hush up the affair. ‘And I should now be a rich man,’ he added, ‘a very rich man--I should be rolling through the streets of Paris in my carriage, instead of being on board this cursed ship, eating salt cod twice a day, and living on charity.’ “Ah! it was no longer possible to doubt. The truth was as clear as daylight. I had never been loved, not even an hour, not even a moment.

The loving letters which had blinded me, the protestations of affection which had deceived me, had been addressed to my father’s millions, not to myself. And not unfrequently I saw Arthur Gordon’s face darken, as he talked with evident anxiety about what he could do to earn a living for himself and me in America.

‘I have had trouble enough to get on alone,’ he grumbled. ‘What will it be now? To burden myself with a penniless wife! What egregious folly!

And yet I couldn’t have acted differently--I was compelled to do it.’ Why had he been compelled to do it? why had he not acted differently?--that was what I vainly puzzled my brain to explain. However, his gloomy fears of poverty were not realized. A delightful surprise awaited him at New York.

A relative had recently died, leaving him a legacy of fifty thousand dollars--a small fortune. I hoped that he would now cease his constant complaints, but he seemed even more displeased than before. ‘Such is the irony of fate,’ he repeated again and again. ‘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. Had he done so out of respect for his word? But, alas! this marriage was the result of calculation, like everything else he did.

“We were living in New York, when one evening he came home, looking very pale and agitated. He had a French newspaper in his hand.

‘Read this,’ he said, handing it to 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. And as I fell on my knees, bursting into tears, and thanking God for freeing me from such terrible remorse, he exclaimed: ‘We are in a nice fix! I advise you to congratulate yourself! ‘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. A few days afterward, he said to me: ‘I cannot endure this! Have our trunks ready to-morrow, and we will start South.

Instead of calling ourselves Gordon, we’ll travel under the name of Grant.’ I did not venture to question him. He had quite mastered me by his cruel tyranny, and I was accustomed to obey him like a slave in terror of the lash. However, during our long journey, I learned the cause of our flight and change of name. “‘Your brother, d--n him,’ he said, one day, ‘is hunting for me everywhere! He wants to kill me or to deliver me up to justice, I don’t know which.

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.

You were born in Richmond, Wilkie, where we remained nearly a month, during which time I saw but little of your father. He had formed the acquaintance of several rich planters, and spent his time hunting and gambling with them. Unfortunately, fifty thousand dollars could not last long at this rate; and, in spite of his skill as a gambler, he returned home one morning ruined. A fortnight later when he had sold our effects, and borrowed all the money he could, we embarked again for France. It was not until we reached Paris that I discovered the reasons that had influenced him in returning to Europe. He had heard of my father and mother’s death, and intended to compel me to claim my share of the property. He dared not appear in person on account of my brother. 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. I had sworn to die inch by inch and by the most frightful tortures rather than give him one penny of the Chalusse millions.

And I kept my word. “When I told him that I was resolved not to assert my rights, he seemed utterly confounded. He could not understand how the down-trodden slave dared to revolt against him.

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. Then began a struggle between us, which became more and more frightful as the money he possessed gradually dwindled away.

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 would certainly have been the first to grow weary of the struggle, if a fiendish plan had not occurred to him. 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. To save you--for I knew what he was capable of--I pretended to waver, and I asked twenty-four hours for reflection. He granted them. But the next day I left him forever, flying from him with you in my arms.” M. Wilkie turned white, and a cold chill crept up his spine. 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.

Would he be able to hold his father at bay even with the assistance of M. de Coralth and the Marquis de Valorsay? A thousand questions rose to his lips, for he was eager to hear the particulars of his mother’s flight; but Madame d’Argeles hurried on with her story as if she feared her strength would fail before she reached the end. “I was alone with you, Wilkie, in this great city,” she resumed. “A hundred francs was all that I possessed. My first care was to find a place of shelter. For sixteen francs a month, which I was compelled to pay in advance, I found a small, meagrely furnished room in the Faubourg Saint Martin.

It was badly ventilated and miserably lighted, but still it was shelter. I said to myself that we could live there together by my work, Wilkie.

I was a proficient in feminine accomplishments; I was an excellent musician, and I thought I should have no difficulty in earning the four or five francs a day which I considered absolutely necessary for our subsistence. Alas! I discovered only too soon what chimerical hopes I had cherished. To give music lessons it is necessary to obtain pupils.

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.

At last, I decided to try to find some employment in needlework, and timidly offered my services at several shops. Alas! it is only those who have gone about from door to door soliciting work who know the misery of the thing. To ask alms would be scarcely more humiliating. 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. Who knows what they took me for?

Still the thought of you sustained me, Wilkie, and nothing daunted me. “I finally succeeded in obtaining some bands of muslin to embroider, and some pieces of tapestry work to fill in. Unremunerative employment, no doubt, especially to one ignorant of the art of working quickly, rather than well. By rising with daylight, and working until late at night, I scarcely succeeded in earning twenty sous a day. And it was not long before even this scanty resource failed me. Winter came, and the cold weather with it. One morning I changed my last five-franc piece--it lasted us a week. 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 soon an evening came when the owner of our miserable den turned us into the street because I could no longer pay the rent. “This was the final blow!

I tottered away, clinging to the walls for support; too weak from lack of food to carry you. The rain was falling, and chilled us to the bones. And all that night and all the next day, aimless and hopeless, we wandered about the streets. I must either die of want or return to your father.

I preferred death. Toward evening--instinct having led me to the Seine--I sat down on one of the stone benches of the Point-Neuf, holding you on my knees and watching the flow of the dark river below. There was a strange fascination--a promise of peace in its depths--that impelled me almost irresistibly to plunge into the flood. If I had been alone in the world, I should not have stopped to consider a second, but on your account, Wilkie, I hesitated.” Moved by the thought of the danger he had escaped, M. “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.

By the light of the street lamp, I perceived a man who looked some thirty years of age, and had a frank and rather genial face. Why this stranger instantly inspired me with unlimited confidence I don’t know. Perhaps it was an unconscious horror of death that made me long for any token of human sympathy. However it may have been, I told him my story, but not without changing the names, and omitting many particulars. He had taken a seat beside me on the bench, and I saw big tears roll down his cheeks as I proceeded with my narrative. ‘To love is to incur the risk of martyrdom. It is to offer one’s self as a victim to every perfidy, to the basest treason and ingratitude.’ The man who spoke in this fashion was Baron Trigault.

He did not allow me to finish my story. ‘Enough!’ he suddenly exclaimed, ‘follow me!’ A cab was passing, he made us get in, and an hour later we were in a comfortable room, beside a blazing fire, with a generously spread table before us. The next day, moreover, we were installed in a pleasant home. Alas! why wasn’t the baron generous to the last? You were saved, Wilkie, but at what a price!” She paused for a moment, her face redder than fire; but soon mastering her agitation, she resumed: “There was one great cause of dissension between the baron and myself. I wished you to be educated, Wilkie, like the son of a noble family, while he desired you should receive the practical training suited to a youth who would have to make his own way in the world, and win position, fortune, and even name for himself. Ah! he was a thousand times right, as events have since proved only too well! But maternal love blinded me, and, after an angry discussion, he went away, declaring he would not see me again until I became more reasonable.

He thought that reflection would cure me of my folly. Unfortunately, he was not acquainted with the fatal obstinacy which is the distinguishing characteristic of the Chalusse family. While I was wondering how I could find the means of carrying the plans I had formed for you into execution, two of the baron’s acquaintances presented themselves, with the following proposal: Aware of the enormous profits derived by clandestine gambling dens, they had conceived the project of opening a public establishment on a large scale, where any Parisian or foreigner, if he seemed to be a gentleman, and possessed of means, would find no difficulty in obtaining admission. 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. Scarcely knowing what I pledged myself to, I accepted their offer, influenced--I should rather say decided--by the exalted positions which both these gentlemen occupied, by the public consideration they enjoyed, and the honored names they bore. And that same week this house was rented and furnished, and I was installed in it under the name of Lia d’Argeles.

“But this was not all. There still remained the task of creating for myself one of those scandalous reputations that attract public attention. This proved an easy task, thanks to the assistance of my silent partners, and the innocent simplicity of several of their friends and certain journalists.

As for myself, I did my best to insure the success of the horrible farce which was to lend infamous notoriety to the name of Lia d’Argeles. I had magnificent equipages and superb dresses, and I made myself conspicuous at the theatres and all places of public resort.

As is generally the case when one is acting contrary to conscience, I called the most absurd sophistries to my assistance. 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. When the baron hastened to me and tried to rescue me from the abyss into which I had flung myself; it was too late. I had discovered that the business would prove successful; and for your sake, I longed for money as passionately, as madly, as any miser. Last year my gaming-room yielded more than one hundred and fifty thousand francs clear profit, and I received as my share the thirty-five thousand francs which you squandered. Now you know me as I really am. My associates, my partners, the men whose secret I have faithfully kept, walk the streets with their heads erect.

They boast of their unsullied honor, and they are respected by every one. Such is the truth, and I have no reason to make their disgrace known. Besides, if I proclaimed it from the house-tops, no one would believe me. But you are my son, and I owe you the truth, the whole truth!” In any age but the present, Madame d’Argeles’s story would have seemed absolutely incredible. Nowadays, however, such episodes are by no means rare. Two men--two men of exalted rank and highly respected, to use a common expression--associate in opening a gaming-house under the very eyes of the police, and in coining money out of a woman’s supposed disgrace. ‘Tis after all but an everyday occurrence. 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.

But the hope was vain. It would have been easier to draw water from a solid rock than to, extract a sympathetic tear from Wilkie’s eyes.

He was only alive to the practical side of this narrative, and what impressed him most was the impudent assurance of Madame d’Argeles’s business associates. “Not a bad idea; not bad at all,” he exclaimed. And, boiling over with curiosity, he continued: “I would give something handsome to know those men’s names.

Really you ought to tell me. It would be worth one’s while to know.” Any other person than this interesting young man would have been crushed by the look his mother gave him--a look embodying the deepest disappointment and contempt. “I think you must be mad,” she remarked coldly.

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. Thereupon she hastily went into the adjoining room, reappearing a moment later with a roll of papers in her hand. “Here,” she remarked, “is my marriage certificate, your certificate of birth, and a copy of my renunciation--a perfectly valid document, since the court has authorized it, owing to my husband’s absence.

All these proofs I am ready and willing to place at your disposal, but on one condition.” This last word fell like a cold shower-bath upon Wilkie’s exultant joy. “What is this condition?” he anxiously inquired. “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! The immensity of the sum struck Wilkie dumb with consternation. 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. “I shall have nothing left,” he began, piteously. But with a disdainful gesture Madame d’Argeles interrupted him.

“Set your mind at rest,” said she. All the estimates which have been made are far below the mark. 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. He tottered and his brain whirled. oh!” he stammered. This was all he could say.

“Only I must warn you of a more than probable deception,” pursued Madame d’Argeles. “As my brother was firmly resolved to deprive me even of my rightful portion of the estate, he concealed his fortune in every possible way. It will undoubtedly require considerable time and trouble to gain possession of the whole. However I know a man, formerly the Count de Chalusse’s confidential agent, who might aid you in this task.” “And this man’s name?” “Is Isidore Fortunat. I saved his card for you. 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. Two millions at five per cent. ought to greatly alleviate one’s sufferings.” Madame d’Argeles did not deign to notice this delicate irony. “I will tell you in advance to what purpose I intend to apply this sum,” she said. “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.

“Do you take me for a fool?” he exclaimed. “I may appear very generous, but I am shrewd enough, never you fear.” “Sign,” interrupted Madame d’Argeles, coldly. 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. At last, however, he did so, and stowed away the proofs which insured him the much-coveted property. “Now,” said Madame d’Argeles, “I have one request to make of you. Whenever your father makes his appearance and lays claim to this fortune, I entreat you to avoid a lawsuit, which would only make your mother’s shame and the disgrace attached to the hitherto stainless name of Chalusse still more widely known. You will be rich enough to satisfy his greed without feeling it.” M. Wilkie remained silent for a moment, as if he were deliberating upon the course he ought to pursue. “If my father is reasonable, I will be the same,” he said at last.

“I will choose as an arbiter between us one of my friends--a man who acts on the square, like myself--the Marquis de Valorsay.” “My God! do you know him?” “He is one of my most intimate friends.” Madame d’Argeles had become very pale. “Wretched boy!” she exclaimed.

“You don’t know that it’s the marquis----” She paused abruptly. One word more and she would have betrayed Pascal Ferailleur’s secret plans, with which she had been made acquainted by Baron Trigault. Had she a right to do this, even to put her son on his guard against a man whom she considered the greatest villain in the world? But Madame d’Argeles had recovered her self-possession.

“I only wished to warn you against too close a connection with the Marquis de Valorsay. He has an excellent position in society, but yours will be far more brilliant.

His star is on the wane; yours is just rising. All that he is regretting, you have a right to hope for.

Perhaps even now he is jealous of you, and wishes to persuade you to take some false step.” “Ah! you little know him!” “I have warned you.” M. Wilkie took up his hat, but, though he was longing to depart, embarrassment kept him to the spot. He vaguely felt that he ought not to leave his mother in this style. “I hope I shall soon have some good news to bring you,” he began. “Before night I shall have left this house,” she answered. 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.

Patterson will collect the money. 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. Stupefied with astonishment, M. Wilkie stood for a moment silent and motionless.

“Allow me,” he faltered at last; “Allow me--I wish to explain.” But Madame d’Argeles did not even turn her head; the door closed behind her and he was left alone. However strong a man’s nature may be, he always has certain moments of weakness. For instance, at the present moment Wilkie was completely at a loss what to do. 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. If he had obeyed his first impulse, he would have darted after his mother and thrown himself on his knees before her. 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.

So, with his head proudly erect, he went off, twirling his mustaches and followed by the whispers of the servants--whispers which were ready to change into hisses at any moment. But what did he care for the opinion of these plebeians! Before he was a hundred paces from the house his emotion had vanished, and he was thinking how he could most agreeably spend the time until the hour appointed for his second interview with M. de Valorsay. He had not breakfasted, but “his stomach was out of sorts,” as he said to himself, and it would really have been impossible for him to swallow a morsel. Thus not caring to return home, he started in quest of one of his former intimates, with the generous intention of overpowering him with the great news. 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. de Gordon-Chalusse, with a count’s coronet in one of the corners. Thus occupied, time flew by so quickly that he was a trifle late in keeping his appointment with his dear friend the marquis.

de Valorsay as he had left him--in his smoking-room, talking with the Viscount de Coralth. 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. “Victory!” cried Wilkie, as he appeared on the threshold. “It was a hard battle, but I asserted my rights. I am the acknowledged heir!

the millions are mine!” And without giving his friends time to congratulate him, he began to describe his interview with Madame d’Argeles, presenting his conduct in the most odious light possible, pretending he had indulged in all sorts of harsh rejoinders, and making himself out to be “a man of bronze,” or “a block of marble,” as he said. “You are certainly more courageous than I fancied,” said M. de Valorsay gravely, when the narrative was ended. “Is that really so?” “It is, indeed. Let your story be noised abroad--and it will be noised abroad--and you will become a hero. 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! It will take the newspapers a month to digest this strange romance. And whom will all this notoriety fall upon? Upon you, my dear sir; and as your millions will lend an additional charm to the romance, you will become the lion of the season.” M.

Wilkie was really too much overwhelmed to feel elated. “Upon my word, you overpower me, my dear marquis--you quite overpower me,” he stammered. “I too have been at work,” resumed the marquis. “And I have made numerous inquiries, in accordance with my promise. I almost regret it, for what I have discovered is--very singular, to say the least. I was just saying so to Coralth when you came in. What I have learned makes it extremely unpleasant for me, to find myself mixed up in the affair; accordingly, I have requested the persons who gave me this information to call here. You shall hear their story, and then you must decide for yourself.” So saying, he rang the bell, and as soon as a servant answered the summons, he exclaimed: “Show M. Casimir in.” When the lackey had retired to carry out this order, the marquis remarked: “Casimir was the deceased count’s valet. 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.

Casimir, who was irreproachably clad in black, with a white cambric tie round his neck, entered the room at this very moment, smiling and bowing obsequiously.

“This gentleman, my good fellow,” said M. de Valorsay, pointing to Wilkie, “is your former master’s only heir. A proof of devotion might induce him to keep you with him. What you told me a little while ago is of great importance to him; see if you can repeat it now for his benefit.” In his anxiety to secure a good situation, M. Casimir had ventured to apply to the Marquis de Valorsay; he had talked a good deal, and the marquis had conceived the plan of making him an unsuspecting accomplice. “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. Wilkie bounded from his chair. “Immense sums!” he exclaimed.

“Is it possible!” “Monsieur shall judge. On the morning preceding his death, the count had more than two millions in bank-notes and bonds stowed away in his escritoire, but when the justice of the peace came to take the inventory, the money could not be found. We servants were terribly alarmed, for we feared that suspicion would fall upon us.” Ah!

if Wilkie had only been alone he would have given vent to his true feelings. But here, under the eyes of the marquis and M. de Coralth, he felt that he must maintain an air of stoical indifference. He ALMOST succeeded in doing so, and in a tolerably firm voice he remarked: “This is not very pleasant news. that’s a good haul. Tell me, my friend, have you any clue to the thief?” The valet’s troubled glance betrayed an uneasy conscience, but he had gone too far to draw back.

“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. Her word was law in the house.” “What has become of her?” “She has gone to live with General de Fondege, one of the count’s friends. She wouldn’t take her jewels and diamonds away with her, which seemed very strange, for they are worth more than a hundred thousand francs. Even Bourigeau said to me: ‘That’s unnatural, M.

Casimir.’ Borigeau is the concierge of the house, a very worthy man. Monsieur will not find his equal.” Unfortunately, this tribute to the merits of the valet’s friend was interrupted by the arrival of a footman, who, after tapping respectfully at the door, entered the room and exclaimed: “The doctor is here, and desires to speak with Monsieur le Marquis.” “Very well,” replied M.

de Valorsay, “ask him to wait. When I ring, you can usher him in.” Then addressing M.

Casimir, he added: “You may retire for the present, but don’t leave the house. Wilkie will acquaint you with his intentions by and by.” The valet thereupon backed out of the room, bowing profoundly. “There is a story for you!” exclaimed M. Wilkie as soon as the door was closed. “A robbery of two millions!” The marquis shook his head, and remarked, gravely: “That’s a mere nothing. I suspect something far more terrible.” “What, pray? you frighten me.” “Wait!

I may be mistaken. Even the doctor may lie deceived. But you shall judge for yourself.” As he spoke, he pulled the bell-rope, and an instant after, the servant announced: “Dr. Jodon.” It was, indeed, the same physician who had annoyed Mademoiselle Marguerite by his persistent curiosity and impertinent questions, at the Count de Chalusse’s bedside; the same crafty and ambitious man, constantly tormented by covetousness, and ready to do anything to gratify it--the man of the period, in short, who sacrificed everything to the display by which he hoped to deceive other people, and who was almost starving in the midst of his mock splendor.

Casimir was an innocent accomplice, but the doctor knew what he was doing. Interviewed on behalf of the Marquis de Valorsay by Madame Leon, he had fathomed the whole mystery at once. These two crafty natures had read and understood each other. 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. As soon as the physician appeared, M. 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.

Our profession has painful exigencies. Perhaps it is now too late. If there had been any of the count’s relatives in the house, or even an heir at the time, I should have insisted upon an autopsy. But now----” On hearing the word “autopsy,” M. Wilkie looked round with startled eyes.

He opened his lips to interrupt the speaker, but the physician had already resumed his narrative. “Besides, I had only suspicions,” he said, “suspicions based, it is true, upon strange and alarming circumstances. I am a man, that is to say, I am liable to error. In the kingdom of science it would be unpardonable temerity on my part to affirm----” “To affirm what?” interrupted M. The physician did not seem to hear him, but continued in the same dogmatic tone.

“The count apparently died from an attack of apoplexy, but certain poisons produce similar and even identical symptoms which are apt to deceive the most experienced medical men.

The persistent efforts of the count’s intellect, his muscular rigidity alternating with utter relaxation, the dilation of the pupils of his eyes, and more than aught else the violence of his last convulsions, have led me to ask myself if some criminal had not hastened his end.” Whiter than his shirt, and trembling like a leaf, M. Wilkie sprang from his chair. “I understand!” he exclaimed. “The count was murdered--poisoned.” But the physician replied with an energetic protest. “Oh, not so fast!” said he. “Don’t mistake my conjectures for assertions. Still, I ought not to conceal the circumstances which awakened my suspicions.

On the morning preceding his attack, the count took two spoonfuls of the contents of a vial which the people in charge could not or would not produce. 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. The escritoire contained two millions of francs, and the money has disappeared. Show me the vial, find the money, and I will admit that I am wrong. But until then, I shall have my suspicions.” He did not speak like a physician but like an examining magistrate, and his alarming deductions found their way even to M. Wilkie’s dull brain. “Who could have committed the crime?” he asked.

“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. Wilkie sank into his chair again, completely overwhelmed. The coincidence between the doctor’s deposition and M. Casimir’s testimony was too remarkable to pass unnoticed. “Ah! this is most unfortunate!” faltered Wilkie. “What a pity!

Such difficulties never assail any one but me! What am I to do?” And in his distress he glanced from the doctor to the Marquis de Valorsay, and then at M. de Coralth, as if seeking inspiration from each of them.

“My profession forbids my acting as an adviser in such cases,” replied the physician, “but these gentlemen have not the same reasons for keeping silent.” “Excuse me,” interrupted the marquis quickly; “but this is one of those cases in which a man must be left to his own inspirations. The most I can do, is to say what course I should pursue if I were one of the deceased count’s relatives or heirs.” “Pray tell me, my dear marquis,” sighed Wilkie. “You would render me an immense service by doing so.” 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. Before receiving a man’s estate, one must know the cause of his death, so as to avenge him if he has been foully murdered.” For M. Wilkie the oracle had spoken. “Such is my opinion exactly,” he declared. “But what course would you pursue, my dear marquis?

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. Are you acquainted with any such person? Would you like me to give you the address of my business man? He is a very clever fellow, who has almost all the members of my club as his clients.” This last reason was more than sufficient to fix M. “Where can I find him?” he inquired.

“At his house--he is always there at this hour. here is a scrap of paper and a pencil. You had better make a note of his address. 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. He lives a long way off, but my brougham is standing in the courtyard; so take it, and when your consultation is over, come back and dine with me.” “Ah! you are too kind!” exclaimed M.

“You overpower me, my dear marquis, you do, upon my word!

I shall fly and be back in a moment.” He went off looking radiant; and a moment later the carriage which was to take him to M. Maumejan’s was heard rolling out of the courtyard. The doctor had already taken up his hat and cane. “You will excuse me for leaving you so abruptly, Monsieur le Marquis,” said he, “but I have an engagement to discuss a business matter.” “Indeed!” “I am negotiating for the purchase of a dentist’s establishment.” “What, you?” “Yes, I. 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. However hard a physician may work, he can scarcely pay for the water he uses in washing his hands.

I have an opportunity of purchasing the business of a well-established and well-known dentist, in an excellent neighborhood. Why not avail myself of it? Only one thing worries me--the lack of funds.” The marquis had expected the doctor would require remuneration for his services. Before compromising himself any further, M. Jodon wished to knew what compensation he was to receive. 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. The doctor was now ready to find traces of any poison whatsoever in the Count de Chalusse’s exhumed remains. He pressed the marquis’s hand and then went off, exclaiming: “Whatever happens you can count upon me.” Left alone with the Viscount de Coralth, and consequently freed from all restraint, M.

de Valorsay rose with a long-drawn sigh of relief. “What an interminable seance!” he growled. 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’m well enough,” he answered somewhat roughly. “I was only thinking.” “Your thoughts are not very pleasant, to judge from the look on your face.” “No. I was thinking of the fate that you are preparing for us.” “Oh! A truce to disagreeable prophecies, please! Besides, it’s too late to draw back, or to even think of retreat.

The Rubicon is passed.” “Alas! that is the cause of my anxiety. If it hadn’t been for my wretched past, which you have threatened me with like a dagger, I should long ago have left you to incur this danger alone. You were useful to me in times past, I admit. You presented me to the Baroness Trigault, to whose patronage I owe my present means, but I am paying too dearly for your services in allowing myself to be made the instrument of your dangerous schemes. Who aided you in defrauding Kami-Bey? Who bet for you against your own horse Domingo? Who risked his life in slipping those cards in the pack which Pascal Ferailleur held?

It was Coralth, always Coralth.” A gesture of anger escaped the marquis, but resolving to restrain himself, he made no rejoinder.

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. “Really, I don’t recognize you,” he began. “Is it really you who have turned coward?

And at what a moment, pray? Why, on the very eve of success.” “I wish I could believe you.” “Facts shall convince you. 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. By what Casimir has said, you can judge what the other servants will say. As for the poisoning, you heard Dr. Can I depend upon him?

Evidently, if I pay without haggling. Very well; I shall pay.” But all this did not reassure M. de Coralth. “The accusation will fall to the ground,” said he, “as soon as the famous vial from which M. de Chalusse took two spoonfuls is found.” “Excuse me; it won’t be found.” “But why?” “Because I know where it is, my dear friend. It is in the count’s escritoire, but it won’t be there any longer on the day after to-morrow.” “Who will remove it?” “A skilful fellow whom Madame Leon has found for me.

Everything has been carefully arranged.

To-morrow night at the latest Madame Leon will let this man into the Hotel de Chalusse by the garden gate, which she has kept the key of. Vantrasson, as the man is called, knows the management of the house, and he will break open the escritoire and take the vial away. 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. After eight or ten days’ solitary confinement and several rigid examinations, Mademoiselle Marguerite’s energy and courage will flag. What do you think she will reply to the man who says to her: ‘I love you, and for your sake I will attempt the impossible.

Swear to become my wife and I will establish your innocence?’” “I think she will say: ‘Save me and I will marry you!’” M. de Valorsay clapped his hands. “Bravo!” he exclaimed; “you have spoken the truth. Remember, now, that your dark forebodings are only chimeras! Yes, she will swear it, and I know she is the woman to keep her vow, even if she died of sorrow. And the very next day I will go to the examining magistrate and say to him: ‘Marguerite a thief! Ah, what a frightful mistake.

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. Fortunately, the Count de Chalusse distrusted this man, and proof of his breach of trust is in existence. I have this proof in my hands.’ And I will show a letter establishing the truth of my assertion.” No forebodings clouded the marquis’s joy; he saw no obstacles; it seemed to him as if he had already triumphed. “And the day following,” he resumed, “when Marguerite becomes my wife, I shall take from a certain drawer a certain document, given to me by M. de Chalusse when I was on the point of becoming his son-in-law, and in which he recognizes Marguerite as his daughter, and makes her his sole legatee. And this document is perfectly en regle, and unattackable. Maumejan, who has examined it, guarantees that the value of the count’s estate cannot be less than ten millions. Five will go to Madame d’Argeles, or her son Wilkie, as their share of the property.

The remaining five will be mine. Come, confess that the plan is admirable!” “Admirable, undoubtedly; but terribly complicated. When there are so many wheels within wheels, one of them is always sure to get out of order.” “Nonsense!” “Besides, you have I don’t know how many accomplices--Maumejan, the doctor, Madame Leon, and Vantrasson, not counting myself. Will all these people perform their duties satisfactorily?” “Each of them is as much interested in my success as I am myself.” “But we have enemies--Madame d’Argeles, Fortunat----” “Madame d’Argeles is about to leave Paris. If Fortunat is troublesome I will purchase his silence; Maumejan has promised me money.” But M. de Coralth had kept his strongest argument until the last. “And Pascal Ferailleur?” said he. “You have forgotten him.” No; M.

de Valorsay had not forgotten him. You do not forget the man you have ruined and dishonored.

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? If he hasn’t blown his brains out, it is only because he hopes to prove his innocence. Ah! if you knew him as well as I do, you wouldn’t be so tranquil in mind!” He stopped short for the door had suddenly opened. The interruption made the marquis frown, but anger gave way to anxiety when he perceived Madame Leon, who entered the room out of breath and extremely red in the face. “There wasn’t a cab to be had!” she groaned. I came on foot, and ran the whole way. I’m utterly exhausted;” and so saying, she sank into an arm-chair. de Valorsay had turned very pale.

“Defer your complaints until another time,” he said, harshly. “What has happened? Tell me.” The estimable woman raised her hands to heaven, as she plaintively replied: “There is so much to tell? First, Mademoiselle Marguerite has written two letters, but I have failed to discover to whom they were sent.

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. This morning Mademoiselle went out with Madame de Fondege to call on the Baroness Trigault. 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. de Valorsay. You shall have the explanation to-morrow,” answered M. de Coralth. “And last, but not least,” resumed Madame Leon, “on returning home this evening at about five o’clock, I fancied I saw Mademoiselle Marguerite leave the house and go up the Rue Pigalle. I had thought she was ill and in bed, and I said to myself, ‘This is very strange.’ So I hastened after her. It was indeed she.

And what did I see? Why, Mademoiselle paused to talk with a vagabond, clad in a blouse.

They exchanged notes, and Mademoiselle Marguerite returned home. And here I am.

She must certainly suspect something. What is to be done?” If M. de Valorsay were frightened, he did not show it.

“Many thanks for your zeal, my dear lady,” he replied, “but all this is a mere nothing. Return home at once; you will receive my instructions to-morrow.” XVII. Mademoiselle Marguerite had been greatly surprised on the occasion of her visit to M. Fortunat when she saw Victor Chupin suddenly step forward and eagerly exclaim: “I shall be unworthy of the name I bear if I do not find M. Ferailleur for you in less than a fortnight.” It is true that M. Fortunat’s clerk did not appear to the best advantage on this occasion. In order to watch M.

de Coralth, he had again arrayed himself in his cast-off clothes, and with his blouse and his worn-out shoes, his “knockers” and his glazed cap, he looked the vagabond to perfection. Still, strange as it may seem, Mademoiselle Marguerite did not once doubt the devotion of this strange auxiliary.

Without an instant’s hesitation she replied, “I accept your services, monsieur.” Chupin felt at least a head taller as he heard this beautiful young girl speak to him in a voice as clear and as sonorous as crystal. “Ah! you are right to trust me,” he rejoined, striking his chest with his clinched hand, “for I have a heart--but----” “But what, monsieur?” “I am wondering if you would consent to do what I wish. It would be a very good plan, but if it displeases you, we will say no more about it.” “And what do you wish?” “To see you every day, so as to tell you what I’ve done, and to obtain such directions as I may require. I’m well aware that I can’t go to M. de Fondege’s door and ask to speak to you; but there are other ways of seeing each other. For instance, every evening at five o-clock precisely, I might pass along the Rue Pigalle, and warn you of my presence by such a signal as this: ‘Pi-ouit!’” So saying he gave vent to the peculiar call, half whistle, half ejaculation, which is familiar to the Parisian working-classes. “Then,” he resumed, “you might come down and I would tell you the news; besides, I might often help you by doing errands.” Mademoiselle Marguerite reflected for a moment, and then bowing her head, she replied: “What you suggest is quite practicable. On and after to-morrow evening I will watch for you; and if I don’t come down at the end of half an hour, you will know that I am unavoidably detained.” Chupin ought to have been satisfied. 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. I’ve never seen Monsieur Ferailleur. Is he tall or short, light or dark, stout or thin? I might stand face to face with him without being able to say, ‘It’s he.’ But it would be quite a different thing if I only had a photograph of him.” A crimson flush spread over Mademoiselle Marguerite’s face. Still she answered, unaffectedly, “I will give you M.

Ferailleur’s photograph to-morrow, monsieur.” “Then I shall be all right!” exclaimed Chupin. “Have no fears, mademoiselle, we shall outwit these scoundrels!” So far a silent witness of this scene, M. Fortunat now felt it his duty to interfere. He was not particularly pleased by his clerk’s suddenly increased importance; and yet it mattered little to him, for his only object was to revenge himself on Valorsay. “Victor is a capable and trustworthy young fellow, mademoiselle,” he declared; “he has grown up under my training, and I think you will find him a faithful servant.” A “have you finished, you old liar?” rose to Chupin’s lips, but respect for Mademoiselle Marguerite prevented him from uttering the words. “Then everything is decided,” she said, pleasantly. And with a smile she offered her hand to Chupin as one does in concluding a bargain. If he had yielded to his first impulse he would have thrown himself on his knees and kissed this hand of hers, the whitest and most beautiful he had ever seen.

As it was, he only ventured to touch it with his finger-tips, and yet he changed color two or three times. “What a woman!” he exclaimed, when she had left them.

“A perfect queen! A man would willingly allow himself to be chopped in pieces for her sake; and she’s as good and as clever as she’s handsome.

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. Heavens!

how I should have chafed if she had offered me money. How provoked I should have been!” Chupin was so fascinated that he wished no reward for his toil! This was so astonishing that M. Fortunat remained for a moment speechless with surprise. “Have you gone mad, Victor?” he inquired at last. “Mad! I?--not at all; I’m only becoming----” He stopped short. He was going to add: “an honest man.” But it is scarcely proper to talk about the rope in the hangman’s house, and there are certain words which should never be pronounced in the presence of certain people.

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. Victor Chupin was not a person to make promises and then leave them unfulfilled.

Though he was usually unimpressionable, like all who lead a precarious existence, still, when his emotions were once aroused, they did not spend themselves in empty protestations. It became his fixed determination to find Pascal Ferailleur, and the difficulties of the task in no wise weakened his resolution. 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. This was all he knew positively, and everything else was mere conjecture. 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. de Coralth and the Marquis de Valorsay. On the other hand, with such a slight basis to depend upon, was it not almost madness to hope to discover a man who had such strong reasons for concealing himself? Chupin did not think so in fact, when he declared his determination to perform this feat, his plan was already perfected.

On leaving M. Fortunat’s office, he hastened straight to the Rue d’Ulm, at the top of his speed. The concierge of the house where Pascal had formerly resided was by no means a polite individual. He was the very same man who had answered Mademoiselle Marguerite’s questions so rudely; but Chupin had a way of conciliating even the most crabbish doorkeeper, and of drawing from him such information as he desired. 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!

Chupin wished to ascertain the number of the cab, but the concierge could not give it. He mentioned, however, that this cab had been procured by Madame Ferailleur’s servant-woman, who lived only a few steps from the house. A moment later Chupin was knocking at this woman’s door. She was a very worthy person, and bitterly regretted the misfortunes which had befallen her former employers. She confirmed the doorkeeper’s story, but unfortunately she, too, had quite forgotten the number of the vehicle. 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. Chupin repaired at once to the Rue Soufflot, where he found the man in charge of the stand in the most savage mood imaginable. He began by asking Chupin what right he had to question him, why he wished to do so, and if he took him for a spy. He added that his duty only consisted in noting the arrivals and departures of the drivers, and that he could give no information whatever. There was evidently nothing to be gained from this ferocious personage; and yet Chupin bowed none the less politely as he left the little office.

“This is bad,” he growled, as he walked away, for he was really at a loss what to do next; and if not discouraged, he was at least extremely disconcerted and perplexed. Ah! if he had only had a card from the prefecture of police in his pocket, or if he had been more imposing in appearance, he would have encountered no obstacles; he might then have tracked this cab through the streets of Paris as easily as he could have followed a man bearing a lighted lantern through the darkness. But poor and humble, without letters of recommendation, and with no other auxiliaries than his own shrewdness and experience, he had a great deal to contend against. 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. Chupin had just remembered one of M.

Isidore Fortunat’s debtors, a man whom he often visited in the hope of extorting some trifling amount from him, and who was employed in the Central office of the Paris Cab Company. “If any one can help me out of this difficulty, it must be that fellow,” he said to himself. “I hope I shall find him at his desk! Come, Victor, my boy, you must look alive!” However, he could not present himself at the office in the garb he then wore, and so, much against his will, he went home and changed his clothes. Then he took a cab at his own expense, and drove with all possible speed to the main office of the Cab Company, in the Avenue de Segur. Nevertheless it was already ten o’clock when he arrived there.

He was more fortunate than he had dared to hope. The man he wanted had charge of a certain department, and was compelled to return to the office every evening after dinner.

He was there now. He was a poor devil who, while receiving a salary of fifteen hundred francs a year, spent a couple of thousand, and utilized his wits in defending his meagre salary from his creditors.

On perceiving Chupin, he made a wrathful gesture, and his first words were: “I haven’t got a penny.” But Chupin smiled his most genial smile.

“What!” said he, “do you fancy I’ve come to collect money from you here, and at this hour? I merely came to ask a favor of you.” The clerk’s clouded face brightened.

“Since that is the case, pray take a seat, and tell me how I can serve you,” he replied. At nine o’clock in the evening, on the sixteenth of October, a lady living in the Rue d’Ulm sent to the stand in the Rue Soufflot for a cab. Her baggage was placed upon it, and she went away no one knows where. 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. “Have you ten minutes to spare?” “Ten days, if necessary,” rejoined Chupin. “Then you shall see.” So saying the clerk rose and went into the adjoining room, whence a moment later he returned carrying a large green box.

“This contains the October reports sent in every evening by the branch offices,” he remarked in explanation. He next opened the box, glanced over the documents it contained, and joyfully exclaimed: “Here we have it. This is the report sent in by the superintendent of the cab-stand in the Rue Soumot on the 16th October. Here is a list of the vehicles that arrived or left from a quarter to nine o’clock till a quarter past nine. Five cabs came in, but we need not trouble ourselves about them. Three went out bearing the numbers 1781, 3025, and 2140. One of these three must have taken your employer’s relative.” “Then I must question the three drivers.” The clerk shrugged his shoulders.

“What is the use of doing that?” he said, disdainfully. “Ah! you don’t understand the way in which we manage our business! The drivers are artful, but the company isn’t a fool. By expending a hundred and fifty thousand francs on its detective force every year, it knows what each cab is doing at each hour of the day. One of the three will give us the desired information.” This time the search was a considerably longer one, and Chupin was beginning to grow impatient, when the clerk waved a soiled and crumpled sheet of paper triumphantly in the air, and cried: “What did I tell you? Listen: Friday, at ten minutes past nine, sent to the Rue d’Ulm---- do you think of that?” “It’s astonishing! But where can I find this driver?” “I can’t say, just at this moment; he’s on duty now. But as he belongs to this division he will be back sooner or later, so you had better wait.” “I will wait then; only as I’ve had no dinner, I’ll go out and get a mouthful to eat. I can promise you that M.

Fortunat will send you back your note cancelled.” Chupin was really very hungry, and so he rushed off to a little eating-house which he had remarked on his way to the office. There for eighteen sous he dined, or rather supped, like a prince; and as he subsequently treated himself to a cup of coffee and a glass of brandy, as a reward for his toil, some little time had elapsed when he returned to the office. 2140 had not returned in his absence, so he stationed himself at the door to wait for it. His patience was severely tried, for it was past midnight when Chupin saw the long-looked-for vehicle enter the courtyard. The driver slowly descended from his box and then went into the cashier’s office to pay over his day’s earnings, and hand in his report.

Then he came out again evidently bound for home. 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 perfectly remembered having been sent to the Rue d’Ulm, and spoke of his “fare” as a respectable-looking old lady, enumerated the number of her trunks, boxes, and packages, and even described their form. He had taken her to the railway station, stopping at the entrance in the Rue d’Amsterdam; and when the porters inquired, as usual, “Where is this baggage to go?” the old lady had answered, “To London.” Chupin felt decidedly crestfallen on hearing this. 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. Not so, however, he had taken her straight to the station. Was Mademoiselle Marguerite deceived then? Had Pascal really fled from his enemies without an attempt at resistance?

Such a course seemed impossible on his part.

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. It did not take him long to find one, and having done so, he made him the best of friends in less than no time. Although this porter knew nothing about the matter himself, he took Chupin to a comrade who remembered handling the baggage of an old lady bound for London, on the evening of the sixteenth.

However, this baggage was not put into the train after all; the old lady had left it in the cloak-room, and the next day a fat woman of unprepossessing appearance had called for the things, and had taken them away, after paying the charges for storage. 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. However, when she went off, she remarked in a honeyed voice, but with an exceedingly impudent air: “I’ll repay you for your kindness, my lad.

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. “For she didn’t give me her name or address, the old witch!” he growled. “She had better look out, if I ever get hold of her again!” But Chupin had already gone off, unmoved by his informant’s grievances. 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? If he could only find out this woman who had called for the trunks, it would lead to the discovery of Madame Ferailleur and her son but how was he to ascertain the woman’s whereabouts? She had said that she kept a wine-shop on the Route d’Asnieres. Was this true? Was it not more likely that this vague direction was only a fresh precaution?

This much was certain: Chupin, who knew every wine-shop on the Route d’Asnieres, did not remember any such powerful matron as the porter had described. He had not forgotten Madame Vantrasson. But to imagine any bond of interest between Pascal and such a woman as she was, seemed absurd in the extreme. However, as he found himself in such a plight and could not afford to let any chance escape, he repaired merely for form’s sake to the Vantrasson establishment. It had not changed in the least since the evening he visited it in company with M.

Fortunat--but seen in the full light of day, it appeared even more dingy and dilapidated. Madame Vantrasson was not in her accustomed place, behind the counter, between her black cat--her latest idol--and the bottles from which she prepared her ratafia, now her supreme consolation here below. There was no one in the shop but the landlord. Seated at a table, with a lighted candle near him, he was engaged in an occupation which would have set Chupin’s mind working if he had noticed it.

Vantrasson had taken some wax from a sealed bottle, and, after melting it at the flame of the candle, he let it drop slowly on to the table. He then pressed a sou upon it, and when the wax had become sufficiently cool and stiff, he removed it from the table without destroying the impression, by means of a thin bladed knife similar to those which glaziers use.

However, Chupin did not remark this singular employment.

He was engaged in mentally ejaculating, “Good! the old woman isn’t here.” And as his plan of campaign was already prepared, he entered without further hesitation. As Vantrasson heard the door turn upon its hinges, he rose so awkwardly, or rather so skilfully, as to let all his implements, wax, knife, and impressions, fall on the floor behind the counter. “What can I do to serve you?” he asked, in a husky voice. I wished to speak with your wife.” “She has gone out.

She works for a family in the morning.” This was a gleam of light.

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 shall be obliged to call again.” “So you have a secret to tell my wife?” “Not at all.” “Won’t I do as well, then?” “I’ll tell you how it is. 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. Well, this is my errand: either the clerk forgot to ask her for her receipt, or else he lost it.

He can’t find it anywhere. I came to ask your wife if she hadn’t kept it. When she returns, please deliver my message; and if she has the receipt, pray send it to me through the post.” The ruse was not particularly clever, but it was sufficiently so to deceive Vantrasson.

“To whom am I to send this receipt?” he asked. “To me, Victor Chupin, Faubourg Saint Denis,” was the reply. alas, he little suspected what a liberty M.

Fortunat had taken with his name on the evening he visited the Vantrassons. But on his side the landlord of the Model Lodging House had not forgotten the name mentioned by the agent. 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. Vantrasson doubted no longer. “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! Ah! you’d like to trample the poor under foot, would you! I have you now, and I’ll settle your account! 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.

Fortunately, Chupin was very nimble. He did not lose his footing, but sprung over a table and used it as a rampart to shield himself from his dangerous assailant. 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. He had an idea of calling for assistance. But would any one hear him? Would any one reply? And if help came, would not the police be sure to hear of the broil? And if they did, would there not be an investigation which would perhaps disturb Pascal’s plans? Fearing to injure those whom he wished to serve, he resolved to let himself be hacked to pieces rather than allow a cry to escape him; but he changed his tactics, and instead of attempting to parry the blows as he had done before, he now only thought of gaining the door, inch by inch.

He had almost reached it, not without suffering considerable injury, when it suddenly opened, and a young man clad in black, with a smooth shaven face, entered the shop, and sternly exclaimed: “Why! what’s all this?” The sight of the newcomer seemed to stupefy Vantrasson. “Ah! it is you, Monsieur Maumejan?” he faltered, with a crestfallen air. 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. I was preparing for it a moment ago.” Chupin heard no more. He had hurried out, his clothes in disorder, and himself not a little hurt; but his delight made him lose all thought of his injuries. “That’s M.

Ferailleur,” he muttered, “I’m sure of it, and I’m going to prove it.” So saying he hid himself in the doorway of a vacant house a few paces distant from the Vantrassons’, and waited. Then as soon as M. Maumejan emerged from the Model Lodging House, he followed him.

The young man with the clean shaven face walked up the Route d’Asnieres, turned to the right into the Route de la Revolte, and at last paused before a house of humble aspect. 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! who are you?” he exclaimed. “Who has hired you to follow me!

What do you want of me?” “Not so fast, m’sieur! I’m sent by Mademoiselle Marguerite!” XVIII. send Pascal to my aid,” prayed Mademoiselle Marguerite, as she left M. Fortunat’s house. Now she understood the intrigue she had been the victim of; but, instead of reassuring her the agent had frightened her, by revealing the Marquis de Valorsay’s desperate plight. She realized what frenzied rage must fill this man’s heart as he felt himself gradually slipping from the heights of opulence, down into the depths of poverty and crime. What might he not dare, in order to preserve even the semblance of grandeur for a year, or a month, or a day longer! Had they measured the extent of his villainy?

Would he even hesitate at murder? And the poor girl asked herself with a shudder if Pascal were still living; and a vision of his bleeding corpse, lying lifeless in some deserted street, rose before her. And who could tell what dangers threatened her personally? For, though she knew the past, she could not read the future. What did M. de Valorsay’s letter mean? 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. But this weakness did not last long.

Should her will fail her at the decisive moment? “No, a thousand times no!” she said to herself again and again. “I will die if needs be, but I will die fighting!” And the nearer she approached the Rue Pigalle, the more energetically she drove away her apprehension, and sought for an excuse calculated to satisfy any one who might have noticed her long absence. An unnecessary precaution. She found the house as when she left it, abandoned to the mercy of the servants--the strangers sent the evening before from the employment office. Important matters still kept the General and his wife from home. The husband had to show his horses; and the wife was intent upon shopping. As for Madame Leon, most of her time seemed to be taken up by the family of relatives she had so suddenly discovered. 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. “Let her come in,” replied Marguerite, with unusual vivacity.

“Let her come in at once.” A lady who looked some forty years of age, plainly dressed, but of distinguished appearance, was thereupon ushered into the room. Like any well-bred modiste, she bowed respectfully while the servant was present, but as soon as he had left the room she approached Mademoiselle Marguerite and took hold of her hands: “My dear young lady,” said she, “I am the sister-in-law of your old friend, the magistrate. Having an important message to send to you, he was trying to find a person whom he could trust to play the part of a dressmaker, as had been agreed upon between you, when I offered my services, thinking he could find no one more trusty than myself.” Tears glittered in Mademoiselle Marguerite’s eyes. The slightest token of sympathy is so sweet to the heart of the lonely and unfortunate! “How can I ever thank you, madame?” she faltered. “By not attempting to thank me at all, and by reading this letter as soon as possible.” The note she now produced ran as follows: “MY DEAR CHILD--At last I am on the track of the thieves. de Chalusse received the money a couple of days before his death, I have been fortunate enough to obtain from them some minute details respecting the missing bonds, as well as the numbers of the bank-notes which were deposited in the escritoire. With this information, we cannot fail to prove the guilt of the culprits sooner or later. 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.

To-day, I can only give him the name of the carriage builder, from whom M. de Fondege has purchased his new carriages.” “Give it to me in writing, it is much the safest way.” Mademoiselle Marguerite did so, and her visitor who, as a woman, was delighted to find herself mixed up in an intrigue, then went off repeating the old magistrate’s advice: “Courage!” But it was no longer necessary to encourage Mademoiselle Marguerite. The assurance of being so effectually helped, had already increased her courage an hundredfold. The future that had seemed so gloomy only a moment before, had now suddenly brightened. By means of the negative in the keeping of the photographer, Carjat, she had the Marquis de Valorsay in her power, and the magistrate, thanks to the numbers of the bank-notes, could soon prove the guilt of the Fondeges. The protection of Providence was made evident in an unmistakable manner. 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. The lieutenant was a good-looking fellow of twenty-seven, or thereabouts, with laughing eyes and a heavy mustache.

He made a great clanking with his spurs, and wore the somewhat theatrical uniform of the 13th Hussars rather ostentatiously. 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. Never had she seen such intense self-complacency coupled with such utter mediocrity. 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. However, strange to say, after the coffee was served, the conversation languished till at last it died out almost entirely.

Madame de Fondege was the first to disappear on the pretext that some domestic affairs required her attention. The General was the next to rise and go out, in order to smoke a cigar; and finally Madame Leon made her escape without saying a word. So Mademoiselle Marguerite was left quite alone with Lieutenant Gustave. It was evident enough to the young girl that this had been preconcerted; and she asked herself what kind of an opinion M. and Madame de Fondege could have of her delicacy. 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. His face was crimson, and he seemed by far the more embarrassed of the two. He sat with one elbow resting on the table, and with his gaze persistently fixed upon a tiny glass half full of brandy which he held in his hand, as if he hoped to gain some sublime inspiration from it. At last, after an interval of irksome silence, he ventured to exclaim: “Mademoiselle, should you like to be an officer’s wife?” “I don’t know,” answered Marguerite.

“Really! But at least you understand my motive in asking this question?” “No.” Any one but the complacent lieutenant would have been disconcerted by Mademoiselle Marguerite’s dry tone; but he did not even notice it.

The effort that he was making in his intense desire to be eloquent and persuasive absorbed the attention of all his faculties. “Then permit me to explain, mademoiselle,” he resumed. “We meet this evening for the first time, but our acquaintance is not the affair of a day. For I know not how long my father and mother have continually been chanting your praises. ‘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. However, so far I had no desire to marry, and I distrusted them.

In fact, I had conceived a most violent prejudice against you.

I felt sure that I should dislike you; but I have seen you and all is changed. As soon as my eyes fell upon you, I experienced a powerful revulsion of feeling. I was never so smitten in my life--and I said to myself, ‘Lieutenant, it is all over--you are caught at last!’” Pale with anger, astonished and humiliated beyond measure, the young girl listened with her head lowered, vainly trying to find words to express the feelings which disturbed her; but M. Gustave, misunderstanding her silence, and congratulating himself upon the effect he had produced, grew bolder, and with the tenderest and most impassioned inflection he could impart to his voice, continued: “Who could fail to be impressed as I have been? How could one behold, without rapturous admiration, such beautiful eyes, such glorious black hair, such smiling lips, such a graceful mien, such wonderful charms of person and of mind?

How would it be possible to listen, unmoved, to a voice which is clearer and purer than crystal? Ah! my mother’s descriptions fell far short of the truth. But how can one describe the perfections of an angel? To any one who has the happiness or the misfortune of knowing you, there can only be one woman in the world!” He had gradually approached her chair, and now extended his hand to take hold of Marguerite’s, and probably raise it to his lips. 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. “Permit me--allow me to explain,” he stammered. “Who has told you that you could address such words to me with impunity?” she continued. “Your parents, I suppose; I daresay they told you to be bold.

And that is why they have left us, and why no servant has appeared. Ah! they make me pay dearly for the hospitality they have given me!” As she spoke the tears started from her eyes and glistened on her long lashes. “Whom did you fancy you were speaking to?” she added. “Would you have been so audacious if I had a father or a brother to resent your insults?” The lieutenant started as if he had been lashed with a whip. “Ah! you are severe!” he exclaimed. 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? Whom could she ask an asylum of?

Still this consideration alone would not have sufficed to silence her. 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. “Your father has met me five or six times at the table of the Count de Chalusse, who was his friend--but what does he know of me?” resumed Mademoiselle Marguerite. “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.

“Perhaps you are exaggerating a little, mademoiselle,” he replied. “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.

Was his incredulity sincere or affected?

What had his parents really told him? Had they confided everything to him, and was he their accomplice? or had they told him nothing? All these questions flashed rapidly through Marguerite’s mind. “You suppose that I am rich, monsieur,” she resumed at last. “I understand that only too well. If I was, you ought to shun me as you would shun a criminal, for I could only be wealthy through a crime.” “Mademoiselle----” “Yes, through a crime. After M. de Chalusse’s death, two million francs that had been placed in his escritoire for safe keeping, could not be found. I myself have been accused of the theft.

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. “Good God!” he exclaimed in a tone of horror, as if a terrible light had suddenly broken upon his mind. He made a movement as if to leave the room, but suddenly changing his mind, he bowed low before Mademoiselle Marguerite, and said, in a husky voice: “Forgive me, mademoiselle, I did not know what I was doing. I have been misinformed. I have been beguiled by false hopes. I entreat you to say that you forgive me.” “I forgive you, monsieur.” But still he lingered. “I am only a poor devil of a lieutenant,” he resumed, “with no other fortune than my epaulettes, no other prospects than an uncertain advancement.

I have been foolish and thoughtless. 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!

The only course left for me would be to tender my resignation. I will leave nothing undone to preserve my honor in the eyes of the world, and to right those who have been wronged. Promise me not to interfere with my plans.” Mademoiselle Marguerite trembled like a leaf. She now realized her terrible imprudence.

He had divined everything. As she remained silent, he continued wildly: “I entreat you. Do you wish me to beg you at your feet?” Ah! it was a terrible sacrifice that he demanded of her. But how could she remain obdurate in the presence of such intense anguish? “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. “Great God! what is coming now?” she murmured. She thought she could understand the unfortunate young man’s intentions, and she listened with a throbbing heart, expecting to hear a stormy explanation between his parents and himself.

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. The outer door opened and closed again with extreme violence, and then Marguerite heard nothing save the sneering remarks of the servants. It was, indeed, madness on the part of M. and Madame de Fondege not to have waited to learn the result of this interview, planned by themselves, and upon which their very lives depended.

But delirium seemed to have seized them since, thanks to a still inexplicable crime, they had suddenly found themselves in possession of an immense fortune. Perhaps in this wild pursuit of pleasure, in the haste they displayed to satisfy their covetous longings, they hoped to forget or silence the threatening voice of conscience. Such was Mademoiselle Marguerite’s conclusion; but she was not long left to undisturbed meditation. By the lieutenant’s departure the restrictions which had been placed upon the servants’ movements had evidently been removed, for they came in to clear the table. Having with some little difficulty obtained a candle from one of these model servants, Mademoiselle Marguerite now retired to her own room. 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. Marguerite had no wish to reflect over what had occurred. As she was determined to keep the promise which Lieutenant Gustave had wrung from her, it mattered little whether she had committed a great mistake in allowing him to discover her knowledge of his parent’s guilt, and in listening to his entreaties. 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.

This duty accomplished, she took a book and went to bed, hoping to drive away her gloomy thoughts by reading. But the hope was vain. Her eyes read the words, followed the lines and crossed the pages, but her mind utterly refused to obey her will, and in spite of all her efforts persisted in turning to the shrewd youth who had solemnly sworn to find Pascal for her. A little after midnight Madame de Fondege returned from the opera, and at once proceeded to reprimand her maid for not having lighted a fire. The General returned some time afterward, and he was evidently in the best of spirits.

“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. It was scarcely half-past seven when she was aroused by a strange commotion and a loud sound of hammering. She was trying to imagine the cause of all this uproar, when Madame de Fondege, already arrayed in a marvellous robe composed of three skirts and an enormous puff, entered the room. “I have come to take you away, my dear child,” she exclaimed.

“The owner of the house has decided to make some repairs, and the workmen have already invaded our apartments. The General has taken flight, let us follow his example--so make yourself beautiful and we’ll go at once.” Without a word, the young girl hastened to obey, while Madame de Fondege expiated on the delightful drive they would take together in the wonderful brougham which the General had purchased a couple of days before. As for Lieutenant Gustave, she did not even mention his name. Accustomed to the superb equipages of the Chalusse establishment, Mademoiselle Marguerite did not consider the much-lauded brougham at all remarkable. At the most, it was very showy, having apparently been selected with a view to attracting as much attention as possible. Madame de Fondege was not in a mood to consider an objection that morning. She was evidently in a nervous state of mind, extremely restless and excited indeed, it seemed impossible for her to keep still. In default of something better to do, she visited at least a dozen shops, asking to see everything, finding everything frightful, and purchasing without regard to price.

It might have been fancied that she wished to buy all Paris. About ten o’clock she dragged Marguerite to Van Klopen’s. Received as a habituee of the establishment, thanks to the numerous orders she had given within the past few days, she was even allowed to enter the mysterious saloon in which the illustrious ruler of Fashion served such of his clients as had a predilection for absinthe or madeira. On leaving the place, and before entering the carriage again, Madame de Fondege turned to Marguerite and inquired: “Where shall we go now? I have given the servants an ‘outing’ on account of the workmen, and we cannot breakfast at home. Why can’t we go to a restaurant, we two? Many of the most distinguished ladies are in the habit of doing so.

You will see how people will look at us! I am sure it will amuse you immensely.” “Ah! 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! poor, dear child! that’s true. I had forgotten. Well, such being the case, we’ll go and ask Baroness Trigault to give us our breakfast. You will see a lovely woman.” And addressing the coachman she instructed him to drive to the Trigault mansion in the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque.

When Madame de Fondege’s brougham drew up before the door, the baron was standing in the courtyard with a cigar between his teeth, examining a pair of horses which had been sent him on approbation. He did not like his wife’s friend, and he usually avoided her. But precisely because he was acquainted with the General’s crime and Pascal’s plans, he thought it politic to seem amiable. So, on recognizing Madame de Fondege through the carriage window, he hastened forward with outstretched hand to assist her in alighting. “Did you come to take breakfast with us?” he asked.

“That would be a most delightful----” The remainder of the sentence died unuttered upon his lips. His face became crimson, and the cigar he was holding slipped from his fingers. 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. “This is Mademoiselle de Chalusse, my dear baron,” said she, “the daughter of the noble and esteemed friend whom we so bitterly lament.” Ah! it was not necessary to tell the baron who this young girl was; he knew it only too well. He was not overcome for long; a thought of vengeance speedily flashed through his mind.

It seemed to him that Providence itself offered him the means of putting an end to an intolerable situation. Regaining his self-control by a powerful effort, he preceded Madame de Fondege through the magnificent apartments of the mansion, lightly saying: “My wife is in her boudoir. But first of all, I have a good secret to confide to you. So let me take this young lady to the baroness, and you and I can join them in a moment!” Thereupon, without waiting for any rejoinder, he took Marguerite’s arm and led her toward the end of the hall. Then opening a door, he exclaimed in a mocking voice: “Madame Trigault, allow me to present to you the daughter of the Count de Chalusse.” And adding in a whisper: “This is your mother, young girl,” he pushed the astonished Marguerite into the room, closed the door, and returned to Madame de Fondege. Paler than her white muslin wrapper, the Baroness Trigault sprang from her chair. This was the woman who, while her husband was braving death to win fortune for her, had been dazzled by the Count de Chalusse’s wealth, and who, later in life, when she was the richest of the rich, had sunk into the very depths of degradation--had stooped, indeed, to a Coralth!

The baroness had once been marvellously beautiful, and even now, many murmurs of admiration greeted her when she dashed through the Champs Elysees in her magnificent equipage, attired in one of those eccentric costumes which she alone dared to wear. She was a type of the wife created by the customs of fashionable society; the woman who feels elated when her name appears in the newspapers and in the chronicles of Parisian “high life”; who has no thought of her deserted fireside, but is ever tormented by a terrible thirst for bustle and excitement; whose head is empty, and whose heart is dry--the woman who only exists for the world; and who is devoured by unappeasable covetousness, and who, at times, envies an actress’s liberty, and the notoriety of the leaders of the demi-monde; the woman who is always in quest of fresh excitement, and fails to find it; the woman who is blase, and prematurely old in mind and body, and who yet still clings despairingly to her fleeting youth. Inaccessible to any emotion but vanity, the baroness had never shed a tear over her husband’s sufferings. She was sure of her absolute power over him.

What did the rest matter? 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. For such was her power, and she often exercised it mercilessly. 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. de Coralth needed to purchase his wife’s silence. However, this time the baroness trembled.

Her usual shrewdness had not deserted her, and she perfectly understood all that Marguerite’s presence in that house portended. Since her husband brought this young girl--her daughter--to her he must know everything, and have taken some fatal resolution. Had she, indeed, exhausted the patience which she had fancied inexhaustible? 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? A bare living, almost nothing. In such a case, how could she exist? She would be compelled to spend her last years in the same poverty that had made her youth so wretched.

She saw herself--ah! what a frightful misfortune--turfed out of her princely home, and reduced to furnished apartments rented for five hundred francs a year! Mademoiselle Marguerite was no less startled and horror-stricken than Madame Trigault, and she stood rooted to the spot, exactly where the baron had left her. Silent and motionless, they confronted each other for a moment which seemed a century to both of them.

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. But anything was preferable to this torturing suspense, and so, summoning all her courage, the baroness broke the silence by saying: “You are the daughter of the Count de Chalusse?” “I think so, but I have no proofs of it.” “And--your mother?” “I don’t know her; madame, and I have no desire to know her.” Disconcerted by this brief but implacable reply, Madame Trigault hung her head. “What could I have to say to my mother?” continued Marguerite.

“That I hate her? My courage would fail me to do so. And yet, how can I think without bitterness of the woman who, after abandoning me herself, endeavored to deprive me of my father’s love and protection? I could have forgiven anything but that. Ah!

I have not always been so patient and resigned! 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. After the Count de Chalusse’s death, a package of letters, a glove and some withered flowers were found in one of the drawers of his escritoire.” The baroness started back as if a yawning chasm had suddenly opened at her feet.

“My letters!” she exclaimed. “Ah! wretched woman that I am, he kept them. It is all over!

I am lost, for of course, they have been read?” “The ribbon securing them together has never been untied.” “Is that true?

Where are they, then--where are they?” “Under the protection of the seals affixed by the justice of the peace.” Madame Trigault tottered, as if she were about to fall. “Then it is only a reprieve,” she moaned, “and I am none the less ruined. Those cursed letters will necessarily be read, and all will be discovered. 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 will tell you what they contain. 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. Do you understand now? The name of the poison I obtained--how I proposed to administer it, and what its effects would be--all this is plainly written in my own handwriting and signed--yes, signed--with my own name. The plot failed, but it was none the less real, positive, palpable--and those letters are a proof of it. But they shall never be read--no--not if I am obliged to set fire to the Hotel de Chalusse with my own hand.” Now the count’s constant terror, the fear with which this woman had inspired him, were explained. He was an accomplice--he also had written no doubt, and she had preserved his letters as he had preserved hers. Crime had bound them indissolubly together.

Horrified beyond expression, Marguerite freed herself from Madame Trigault’s grasp. “I swear to you, madame, that everything any human being can do to save your letters shall be done by me,” she exclaimed. “And have you any hope of success?” “Yes,” replied the girl, remembering her friend, the magistrate. Moved by a far more powerful emotion than any she had ever known before, the baroness uttered an exclamation of joy. “Ah! how good you are!” she exclaimed--“how generous! You take your revenge in giving me back life, honor, everything--for you are my daughter; do you not know it? 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. “Spare yourself, madame, and spare me, the humiliation of an unnecessary explanation.” “Marguerite!

After all you have promised to do for me, will you not forgive me?” “I will try to forget, madame,” replied the girl and she was already stepping toward the door when the baroness threw herself at her feet, crying, in a heart-rending tone: “Have pity, Marguerite, I am your mother. One has no right to deny one’s own mother.” But the young girl passed on. “My mother is dead, madame; I do not know you!” And she left the room without even turning her head, without even glancing at the baroness, who had fallen upon the floor in a deep swoon.

XIX Baron Trigault still held Madame de Fondege a prisoner in the hall. What did he say to her in justification of the expedient he had improvised? 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. Although by no means overshrewd, she suspected some great mystery, some bit of scandal, perhaps, and her eyes never once wandered from the door leading to the boudoir. At last this door opened and Mademoiselle Marguerite reappeared. “Great heavens!” exclaimed Madame de Fondege; “what has happened to my poor child?” For the unfortunate girl advanced with an automatic tread, her eyes fixed on vacancy, and her hands outstretched, as if feeling her way. It indeed seemed to her as if the floor swayed to and fro under her feet, as if the walls tottered, as if the ceiling were about to fall and crush her.

Madame de Fondege sprang forward.

“What is the matter, my dearest?” Alas! the poor girl was utterly overcome. “It is but a trifle,” she faltered.

But her eyes closed, her hands clutched wildly for some support, and she would have fallen to the ground if the baron had not caught her in his arms and carried her to a sofa. “Help!” cried Madame de Fondege, “help, she is dying!--a physician!” But there was no need of a physician. One of the maids came with some fresh water and a bottle of smelling salts, and Marguerite soon recovered sufficiently to sit up, and cast a frightened glance around her, while she mechanically passed her hand again and again over her cold forehead. “Do you feel better my darling?” inquired Madame de Fondege at last. “Yes.” “Ah! 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. “What has happened?” she asked. “Nothing, madame, nothing.” “But----” “I am subject to such attacks. 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. “Don’t tire the poor child,” he said to Madame de Fondege. “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? If so, you shall have a carriage at once, my dear madame.” So saying, the baron made a sign to one of the servants, and the man started on his mission at once.

Madame de Fondege was silent but furious. “He is actually putting me out of doors,” she thought. “This is a little too much! And why doesn’t the baroness make her appearance--she must certainly have heard my voice? What does it all mean?

However, I’m sure Marguerite will tell me when we are alone.” But Madame de Fondege was wrong, for she vainly plied the girl with questions all the way from the Rue de la Ville l’Eveque to the Rue Pigalle. She could only obtain this unvarying and obstinate reply: “Nothing has happened. What do you suppose could have happened?” Never in her whole life had Madame de Fondege been so incensed. “The blockhead!” she mentally exclaimed. “Who ever saw such obstinacy! Hateful creature!--I could beat her!” She did not beat her, but on reaching the house she eagerly asked: “Do you feel strong enough to go up stairs alone?” “Yes, madame.” “Then I will leave you. You know Van Klopen expects me again at one o’clock precisely; and I have not breakfasted yet. Remember that my servants