The Flawed Fashion


It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. The crossing from Dover to Calais had been rough; a drizzling rain fell all the time, and most of the passengers had remained below. Strange to say, they were few enough, as I saw on landing. It was a Sunday in late July, and there ought to have been a strong stream setting towards Central Europe. I hardly expected to find much room in the train; not that it mattered, for my place was booked through in the Lucerne sleeping-car of the Engadine express.

When I reached the siding where this train de luxe was drawn up, I saw that I was not merely the first but the only passenger. Five sleeping-cars and a dining-car attached, with the full staff, attendants, chef, waiters--all lay there waiting for me, and me alone. "Not very busy?" I said, with a laugh to the conductor. "Parbleu," replied the man, polyglot and cosmopolitan, like most of his class, but a Frenchman, or, more likely from his accent, a Swiss. "I never saw the like before." "I shall have a compartment to myself, then?" "Monsieur may have the whole carriage if he wishes--the whole five carriages. It is but to arrange." His eyes glistened at the prospect of something special in this obvious scarcity of coming tips. "The train will run, I hope? The carriages are wanted at the other end for the return journey. Stay, what have we here?" We stood talking together on the platform, and at some little distance from the railway station, the road to which was clear and open all the way, so that I could see a little party of four approaching us, and distinguish them. Two ladies, an official, probably one of the guards, and a porter laden with light luggage.

As they came up I discreetly withdrew to my own compartment, the window of which was open, so that I could hear and see all that passed. "Places?" echoed the conductor. "Madame can have fifty." "What did I tell madame?" put in the official who had escorted her.

A separate compartment for myself and maid; the child can come in with us." Now for the first time I noticed that the maid was carrying a bundle in her arms, the nature of which was unmistakable. The way in which she swung it to and fro rhythmically was that of a nurse and child. "If madame prefers, the maid and infant can be accommodated apart," suggested the obliging conductor. "I wish them to be with me. Only, as the train is not full--very much the reverse indeed--only one other passenger, a gentleman--no more--" The news affected her strangely, and in two very different ways. She turned to talk to her maid in English, while the conductor busied himself in preparing the tickets.

"What are we to do, Philpotts?" This was said to the maid in English. There is nothing to be afraid of, not in that way. I saw him, the gentleman, as we came up.

He's quite a gentleman, a good-looking military-looking man, not at all the other sort--you know the sort I mean." Now while I accepted the compliment to myself, I was greatly mystified by the allusion to the "other sort of man." "You think we can go on, that it's safe, even in this empty train? We should have passed unobserved among a lot of people." "But then there would have been a lot of people to observe us; some one, perhaps, who knew you, some one who might send word." "I wish I knew who this passenger is. The mere thought makes me shiver. Not a soul could have equalled you at the business. You might have been at it all your life," said the maid, with affectionate familiarity, that of a humble performer paying tribute to a great artist in crime. The very opposite of the younger woman (about her more directly), a neatly dressed unassuming person, short and squat in figure, with a broad, plain, and, to the casual observer, honest face, slow in movement and of no doubt sluggish temperament, not likely to be moved or distressed by conscience, neither at the doing or the memory of evil deeds. Now the conductor came up and civilly bowed them towards their carriage, mine, which they entered at the other end as I left it making for the restaurant, not a little interested in what I had heard. Who and what could these two people be with whom I was so strangely and unexpectedly thrown? The one was a lady, I could hardly be mistaken in that; it was proved in many ways, voice, air, aspect, all spoke of birth and breeding, however much she might have fallen away from or forfeited her high station. She might have taken to devious practices, or been forced into them; whatever the cause of her present decadence she could not have been always the thief she now confessed herself.

There must surely have been some excuse for her, some overmastering temptation, some extreme pressure exercised irresistibly through her emotions, her affections, her fears. As I still hesitated, puzzled and bewildered, still anxious to give her the benefit of the doubt, she came to the door of the buffet where I was now seated at lunch, and allowed me to survey her more curiously and more at leisure. "A daughter of the gods, divinely tall and most divinely fair." The height and slimness of her graceful figure enhanced by the tight-fitting tailor-made ulster that fell straight from collar to heel; her head well poised, a little thrown back with chin in the air, and a proud defiant look in her undeniably handsome face. Fine eyes of darkest blue, a well-chiseled nose with delicate, sensitive nostrils, a small mouth with firm closely compressed lips, a wealth of glossy chestnut hair, gathered into a knot under her tweed travelling cap. As she faced me, looking straight at me, she conveyed the impression of a determined unyielding character, a woman who would do much, dare much, who would go her own road if so resolved, undismayed and undeterred by any difficulties that might beset her. Then, to my surprise, although I might have expected it, she came and seated herself at a table close to my elbow. She had told her companion that she wanted to know more about me, that she would like to enlist me in her service, questionable though it might be, and here she was evidently about to make the attempt. "I beg your pardon," she began almost at once in English, when the waiter had brought her a plate of soup, and she was toying with the first spoonful, speaking in a low constrained, almost sullen voice, as though it cost her much to break through the convenances in thus addressing a stranger. "You will think it strange of me," she went on, "but I am rather awkwardly situated, in fact in a position of difficulty, even of danger, and I venture to appeal to you as a countryman, an English officer." "How do you know that?" I asked, quickly concluding that my light baggage had been subjected to scrutiny, and wondering what subterfuge she would adopt to explain it. Gentlemen of your cloth are as easily recognizable as if your names were printed on your back." "And as they are generally upon our travelling belongings." I looked at her steadily with a light laugh, and a crimson flush came on her face.

However hardened a character, she had preserved the faculty of blushing readily and deeply, the natural adjunct of a cream-like complexion. "Let me introduce myself in full," I said, pitying her obvious confusion; and I handed her my card, which she took with a shamefaced air, rather foreign to her general demeanour. "What was your regiment?" "The Princess Ulrica Rifles, but I left it on promotion.

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

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

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

It connects with the train from Victoria at 2.20 and the boat from Folkestone. You need only run as far as Boulogne with this Engadine train, and wait there till it starts.

I think about 6 P.M." "Will that not lose time?" "Undoubtedly you will be two hours later at Basle, and you may lose the connection with Lucerne and the St. But if I can be of no further use to you I will make my bow.

It is time for me to get back to the train, and for my part I don't in the least want to lose the Engadine express." She got up too, and walked out of the buffet by my side. "I shall go on, at any rate as far as Boulogne," she volunteered, without my asking the question; and we got into our car together, she entering her compartment and I mine. I smoked many cigarettes pondering over the curious episode and my new acquaintance. A young man would have sworn she was perfectly straight, that there could be no guile in this sweet-faced, gentle, well-mannered woman; and I, with my greater experience of life and the sex, was much tempted to do the same. It was against the grain to condemn her as all bad, a depredator, a woman with perverted moral sense who broke the law and did evil things. But what else could I conclude from the words I had heard drop from her own lips, strengthened and confirmed as they were by the incriminating language of her companion? "Bother the woman and her dark blue eyes.

I hope to heaven she will really leave the train at Boulogne; we ought to be getting near there by now." I had travelled the road often enough to know it by heart, and I recognized our near approach only to realize that the train did not mean to stop.

I turned over the leaves of Bradshaw and saw I had been mistaken; the train skirted Boulogne and never entered the station. "Well, that settles it for the present, anyhow. If she still wants to leave the train she must wait now until Amiens. We had hardly passed the place when her maid's (or companion's) square figure filled the open doorway of my compartment, and in her strong deep voice she addressed a brief summons to me brusquely and peremptorily: "My lady wishes to speak to you." "And pray what does 'my lady' want with me?" I replied carelessly, using the expression as a title of rank. Blair." The correction and information were vouchsafed with cold self-possession. If she had been in any trouble, any serious trouble, such as she anticipated when talking to me at the buffet, and a prey to imaginary alarms since become real, I should have been ready to serve her or any woman in distress, but nothing of this could have happened in the short hour's run so far." "I thought you were a gentleman," was the scornful rejoinder. "A nice sort of gentleman, indeed, to sit there like a stock or a stone when a lady sends for you!" "A lady!" There was enough sarcasm in my tone to bring a flush upon her impassive face, a fierce gleam of anger in her stolid eyes; and when I added, "A fine sort of lady!" I thought she would have struck me. You're not the kind of people I like to deal with or wish to know." She stared at me open-mouthed, her hands clenched, her eyes half out of her head.

Her face had gone deadly white, and I thought she would have fallen there where she stood, a prey to impotent rage. The lady, Mrs. Blair, as I had just heard her called, appeared behind, her taller figure towering above the maid's, her face in full view, vexed with varying acute emotions, rage, grief, and terror combined. Do you go back to our place this instant; we cannot be away together, you know that; it must not be left alone, one of us must be on guard over it. My self-reproach was aroused even before I quailed under the withering contempt of her tone. You can have no real reason for condemning me." "Let me admit that, and leave the matter there," I pleaded. I could not bring myself to tell her that she was self-condemned, that she was the principal witness against herself.

Come, please, let there be no more evasion. I shall stay here until you tell me what you think of me, and why." She seated herself by my side in the narrow velvet seat of the small compartment, so close that the folds of her tweed skirt (she had removed her ulster) touched and rubbed against me.

I was invaded by the sweet savour of her gracious presence (she used some delightful scent, violette ideale, I believe), by putting forth my hand a few inches I might have taken hers in mine. She fixed her eyes on me with an intent unvarying gaze that under other conditions would have been intoxicating, but was now no more than disquieting and embarrassing. How do I differ from the rest of--your world, let us call it?" "You do not, as far as I can see. At least you ought to hold your own anywhere, in any society, the very best." "And yet I'm not 'your sort.' Am I a humbug, an impostor, an adventuress, a puppet and play-actress?

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

How dare you judge me without knowing the facts, without a shadow of proof?" She sprang to her feet and passed to the door, where she turned, as it were, at bay. "I have the very best proof, from your own lips. I heard you and your maid talking together at Calais." "A listener, Colonel Annesley? You stood under my window there." I defended myself indignantly. "And their consequences, madam," but the shot failed rather of effect. Was she so old a hand, so hardened in crime, that the fears of detection, arrest, reprisals, the law and its penalties had no effect upon her?

Now, when standing before me fully confessed for what she was, and practically at my mercy, she could laugh with cool and unabashed levity and make little of the whole affair.

If I had hoped that I had done with her now, when the murder was out, I was very much mistaken. She had some further designs on me, I was sure. The woman was in the ascendant, and, as I thought, the eternal feminine ever agog to attract and subjugate the male, she would conquer my admiration even if she could not secure my esteem. Call in the gendarmes at the next station? Have me taken red-handed with the--stolen property--the 'swag,' you know the word, perhaps, in my possession?" "I am not a police officer; it's not my business," I answered gruffly. "Or you might telegraph back to England, to London, to Scotland Yard: 'The woman Blair in the Engadine express. Wire along the line to authorities, French and Swiss, to look out for her and arrest preparatory to extradition.'" "I would much rather not continue this conversation, Mrs. I am better known as Slippery Sue, and the Countess of Plantagenet, and the Sly American, and dashing Mrs.

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

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

"That is not in the compact. For the present you must be satisfied so, and there is nothing more to be said." "I shall see you again, I trust," I pleaded, as she rose to leave me.

Why should we not dine together in the dining-car by and by?" she proposed with charming frankness, in the lighter mood that sat so well upon her. "The waiters will be there to play propriety, and no Mrs. If only I might be allowed to--" know more, I would have said, but she chose to put other words into my mouth. "To join us in the watching? Become one of us, belong to a gang of thieves, liable like the rest of us to the law? I would gladly help you, see you through any difficulty by the way, but I'm afraid I must draw the line at active partnership," I answered a little lamely under her mocking eyes. "There is a limit, then, to your devotion?" She was coldly sarcastic now, and I realized painfully that I had receded in her favour.

She had by no means dispelled them. So for half an hour I abused her fiercely; I swore at myself hotly as an ass, a hopeless and unmitigated ass, ever ready to be betrayed and beguiled by woman's wiles, the too easy victim of the first pretty face I saw. The fit lasted for quite half an hour, and then came the reaction. I heard her rich deep voice singing in my ears, I felt the haunting glamour of her eyes, remembered her gracious presence, and my heart went out to her. I knew, of course, that I ought not to stand between her and the inevitable Nemesis that awaits upon misdeeds, but what if I helped her to avoid or escape it? The opportunity was nearer at hand than I thought.

Blair, were soon to be put to the test. The train reached Amiens punctually at 5 P.M., and a stoppage of five minutes was announced. I got out to stretch my legs on the platform. No one took much notice of us; it must have been known that the train was empty, for there were no waiters from the buffet with café au lait or fruit, or brioches--no porters about, or other officials. I had not expected to see any passengers come on board the train, a through express, made up of sleeping-cars and a supplementary charge on the tickets. But on running into the station (ours was the first carriage) I had noticed a man standing with a valise in his hand, and I saw him following the train down the platform when we stopped.

He addressed himself to a little group of conductors who had already alighted, and were gossiping idly among themselves, having nothing else to do. One of them indicated our particular attendant, to whom he spoke, and who brought him directly to our carriage. Evidently the newcomer was bound for Lucerne via Basle. Here was one more occupant of our neglected train, another companion and fellow traveller in our nearly empty sleeping-car.

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

There are ladies in that compartment yonder." "Ladies indeed! You surprise me," but I saw a look on his face that convinced me he perfectly well knew they were there. "Does monsieur, tell me quickly, I--I--beg--know them! Can he describe them to me?" "I shall tell you nothing about them. What the mischief do you mean by asking me questions? Find out what you want for yourself." I was hot and indignant with the brute. I shall find out then," and he jumped up, the spring seat closing with a bang from under him. The noise concealed the sound of the electric bell which I had pressed to summon the attendant, as I rushed out and caught the other man by the arm.

"You'll do nothing of the kind," I cried with very vigorous emphasis, backed by all my strength. "I'll shake you to a jelly if you dare to move another inch." "Here, I say, drop it. Who the deuce are you? At this moment the conductor appeared upon the scene, and began to expostulate loudly.

No fighting and quarrelling are permitted." "Well, then, people must behave themselves," I retorted.

"Don't let this chap annoy your passengers." "I have done nothing to annoy them," stammered the other. Get in there and stay there;" and with that I forced him, almost flung him, into his compartment, where he fell panting upon the velvet sofa. "You'd better keep an eye on him," I said to the conductor, who was inclined to be disagreeable, and was barely pacified by a couple of five-franc pieces. "Fellows of this sort are apt to be a nuisance, and we must take care of the ladies." As I said this I saw Mrs.

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

He is there!

Falfani, the--the--you know--" Of course I saw it all now. I had puzzled my brains vainly trying to place him, to fix his quality and condition in life, neglecting the one simple obvious solution to which so many plain indications pointed. The man, of course, was a detective, an officer or private agent, and his dirty business--you see, I was already shaken in my honesty, and now with increasing demoralization under seductive influences I was already inclined to cross over to the other side of the frontier of crime--his dirty business was the persecution of my sweet friend. It will be taken from us." "You cannot, you must not, shall not turn back now," said the maid with great determination.

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

This gentleman, the colonel here, will help us, perhaps." "Will you?" Who could resist her pleading voice and shining eyes? If I had had any scruples left I would have thrown them to the winds. [The Statement of Domenico Falfani, confidential agent, made to his employers, Messrs. Becke and Co., of the Private Inquiry Offices, 279 St. Martin's Lane, W.C.] I propose, gentlemen, to set down here at length the story of my mission, and the events which befell me from the time I first received my instructions. The circumstances which led up to her disappearance and the partners of her flight are already well known to you. The only indication given me, as you are aware, was that I might take it for granted that she would go abroad and probably by the most direct route to the South, to Switzerland and across the Alps into Italy. My orders having only reached me in the early morning, the theft having presumably been committed during the night previous to Sunday, September 21, I was unable to ascertain through the tourist agencies whether any and what tickets had been booked in the directions indicated. My most urgent duty then was to watch the outgoing Continental trains, the first of which left Charing Cross for Dover and Calais at 9 A.M. I closely watched it therefore, and its passengers, and travelled with it to Cannon Street, where I continued my search, but without result.

I was greatly helped in my quest by the not unusual fact noticeable on Sundays, that travellers abroad are few in number. I had no difficulty in satisfying myself that the lady and her party were not in this train, and I returned at once to Charing Cross in time for the second Continental train, the 10 A.M.

I had resolved to book myself by that as far as Amiens, for I knew that, once there, I should have reached a central point or junction, a sort of throat through which every train moving southward to Paris or Switzerland must pass. There remained, of course, the route via Dover by Ostend and through Brussels; but I had been informed by you that Ludovic Tiler, my colleague and coworker, was to undertake the inquiry on that line. It is part of my business to be thoroughly familiar with the Continental Bradshaw, and I soon ticked off the different trains that interested me. There was first the 11 A.M. from Victoria by Dover and Calais, where it connected with the Paris express and the sleeping-car Engadine express, both of which run through Amiens, where, however, the latter branches off to Basle and beyond, with special cars for Lucerne, Zurich and Coire.

Then came the 2.20 P.M.

from Charing Cross to Folkestone, and so to Boulogne, Amiens and the rest, travelling the same road as the Engadine express. This was the last of the day service, as it gave most time, allowing people to start at the very latest moment, and I felt it quite probable that my lady would prefer to take it. I reached Amiens a little before 5 P.M., and I had a wait of half an hour for the first express from Calais. I was greatly disappointed when at last it appeared issuing from the tunnel, and passed me where I stood at the commencement of the platform, taking stock of each carriage as it passed.

The train seemed to be quite empty; there were no passengers, so the officials, the conductors, informed me when I talked to them, sad and unhappy at the certain loss of tips. Only one of them had any luck, Jules l'Echelle, of the Lucerne sleeping-car, who had one or two people on board.

The lady, quite a lady, a grande dame belle personne, tall, fine figure, well dressed; her companion no doubt her servant; the child, well, an ordinary child, an infant in arms. I had them, I felt sure.

There could be no mistaking this description.

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

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

Fortunately the attendant came to my rescue or I should have been seriously injured. He lifted me into my compartment very kindly, and acted like an old friend, as indeed he was, for I remembered him as the Jules l'Echelle with whom I served some time back as an assistant at the Baths of Bormio. It was, of course, clear to my mind that my assailant was associated in some way with the lady, and probably a confederate. I saw that I must know more about him, with the least possible delay, and as soon as Jules had left me, promising to return later and talk of old times, and the changes that had come over us since then, I ventured to look out and get a glimpse of the other man, I will not call him gentleman after his conduct.

He was nowhere in sight, but I could hear his voice, several voices, talking together at the far end. No doubt he had joined his friends in their compartment, and the moment seemed opportune to visit his. It was next to mine, and the door stood invitingly open. At least he made no pretence at mystery; his light baggage lay about, a dressing bag, a roll of rugs, a couple of sticks and an umbrella strapped together, all very neat and precise and respectable, and all alike furnished with a parchment tag or label bearing in plain language all that I wanted to know. Basil Annesley," and his club, the Mars and Neptune, that famous military house in Piccadilly. Underneath, on all, his destination was written, "Hotel Bellevue, Bellagio, Como." There could never be the least difficulty in finding this person if I wanted him, as I thought likely.

In my great contentment at the discovery I had been wanting in caution, and I lingered too long on forbidden ground. "You infernal scoundrel," cried some one from the door, and once more I felt an angry hand on my shoulder. Explain yourself." "It's all a mistake," I began, trying to make the best of it, struggling to get free. But he still held me in a grip of iron, and it was not until my friend Jules appeared that I got out of the enemy's clutches. "The boot is on the other leg, I take it. The man's a thief. He will have to be locked up." "I'm not the only thief in the car, then," I cried, for I was now mad with him and his threats. "I don't know what you're driving at, or whom you think to accuse; but I tell you this, my friend, that I shall call in the police at the next station and hand you over." I looked at the conductor Jules, appealing for protection. I saw at once that it would be terrible for me to have any trouble with the police.

They could do me no harm, but I might be delayed, obliged to leave the train, and I should lose sight of the lady, possibly fail altogether. You might own the whole train. Who might you be?" "None of your confounded impudence," shouted the Colonel, as he pointed to one of the luggage labels. I have caught this man under suspicious circumstances in the very act of rifling my effects. I insist upon his being taken into custody." "There isn't enough for that," Jules answered, still my friend, but weakening a little before this masterly army officer, and I felt that I must speak for myself.

"And if you stop me I will have the law of you for false imprisonment, and bring heavy damages. Enough that you will feel the weight of their hands if you interfere with me in carrying out their instructions." "Well, anyhow, tell me who you are. Is that the name he has given you?"--this to the conductor.

"I have a clear right," I insisted, overruling all objections raised by the Colonel; and taking it into my hands I read the names aloud, "Colonel Annesley, Mrs. Blair, maid and child." I pronounced the name with great contempt. No more the woman's name than Smith or Jones, or what you please." "Speak more respectfully of a lady," cried the Colonel, catching me tightly by the arm. Blair; you may take that from me," I said as impressively as a judge on the bench. "And what's more, Colonel, I wouldn't press charges you can't substantiate against me, or I may hit back with another not so easy to meet. Try to stop me at the next station, and I'll stop your pal--ah, don't"--he had a cruelly strong hand--"your Mrs. Blair, and she'll find herself in a particularly tight place." "We'll see about that," said the Colonel, who kept a stiff face, but was, I think, rather crestfallen.

Whatever may have been the Colonel's intentions when he caught me in his compartment, something, and I think my last words, led him to modify them. I ought to be able to hold my own with him, although in truth I was not over happy at the course events had taken, and I could not compliment myself on my good management. I had not been overprudent; I had pressed my attentions on him rather abruptly, although I had the excuse that I usually found them well received, thanks to my affable address; again I had behaved most incautiously in penetrating his identity. I could only surmise that the lady was the one I was in search of, for I had not as yet clapt eyes on her, and I had been to some extent driven to show my hand before I had made my ground good. So the first thing I did on regaining my own compartment was to ring for Jules, the conductor, and put before him the photograph with which I was provided, and ask him if he recognized it.

It is the lady yonder," he said promptly. For the present you must know that I am after her; I have to watch her, stick to her like her shadow until it is time to act." "An adventuress, eh?" "She is in possession of what does not belong to her; something she abstracted from--from--Never mind where, and it must be recovered from her here, or after she leaves the car." "Afterwards, please. I could do it, say somewhere short of Basle, and on reaching there make off. No one should be any the wiser, and they, the women, wouldn't dare to make a fuss." "It's I who do not dare--not for twice five hundred francs.

My place is worth more than that; and if it is a dog's life, it is better than lying on the straw. Besides, there's her friend the Colonel, he'll be on the alert, you may depend." "So must I be, and I must find some way to circumvent him. He sha'n't beat me, the overbearing, hectoring brute.

I was not as clever as I thought, and shall have to tell you how seriously I had underrated his worth in the coming trial of strength. As the train sped on and the night began to close in on us, I remained quietly in my berth, pondering over my position, and in considering the course I should adopt under various contingencies. The first and most serious danger was that the lady should succeed in leaving the train at any of the intermediate stations at Basle, and so give me the slip. There were Laon, Rheims, Chaumont, and the rest. I did not look for any such attempt until far into the night, when the stations were empty and half-dark, and I agreed with Jules to divide the hours till daylight, he taking the first, I the last. We were due at Basle at 5 A.M., and I expected to join forces then with Tiler, my colleague, coming from the side of Ostend, via Brussels and Strasburg. Meanwhile I kept quiet and made no sign beyond showing that I was there and on the spot ready to act if it should be necessary. Thus, when the train slackened speed on approaching a station, I was always on the move and the first to descend and patrol the platform. The Colonel always got out too, but he never accosted me; indeed, he seemed disposed to despise me, to ignore my existence, or dare me to the worst I could do. I suppose the lady must have been of the same mind, for when dinner-time arrived, she came boldly out of her compartment, and I met her face to face for the first time, on her way to the restaurant.

I was standing at the door of my compartment. "Dinner is ready," the Colonel said to me significantly, but I did not choose to understand, and shook my head, holding my ground. One moment," he whispered to the lady, who walked on, and turned again to me: "Now see here, my friend, I do not mean to leave you behind. You will come to the dining-car with us, and no two ways about it, even if I have to carry you." "I won't dine with you," I cried. "You're going to dine under my eye, that's all, even though the sight of you is enough to make one sick. So come along, sharp's the word, see? There was something in his manner that cowed me, and I was obliged in spite of myself to give way. There were only three of us in the dining-car, and we were not a very merry company. Our tables were laid almost adjoining, and there was no conversation between us, except when the Colonel asked me with contemptuous civility what wine I preferred. He did not talk to the lady, or the merest commonplaces, for I was within earshot.

Then I got back to my berth, where the bed was made. I threw myself on to it, rejoiced at the prospect of getting a few hours' sleep while Jules remained on the watch. I slept heavily, but in fitful snatches, as a man does when constantly disturbed by the whirr and whizzing of the train, the rattle and jangle of wheels passing over ill-jointed points. After one of the longest periods of unconsciousness I awoke, aroused by the complete absence of noise. The train was at a standstill in some station and making a very protracted halt. Something moved me to lift the blind and look out, and I saw, not without uneasiness, that we were at Basle.

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

I rang the electric bell frantically, again and again. I got no answer; I threw up the window and thrust my head out, shouting for help, but got none, only one or two sluggish porters came up and asked what was amiss, answering stolidly, when they heard, that it was none of their business. "They had no key, it must be a mistake. The conductor would explain, I must wait till he came." Presently Jules arrived, walking very leisurely from the direction of the restaurant, and he stood right under my window with a grin on his face and mockery in his voice. I believe it was your trickery from the first. I must get out, I tell you, or they will escape me," I cried. I may say it is pretty certain they will. That was the Colonel's idea; you'd better talk to him about it next time you see him." "And that will be never, I expect.

He's not going to show up here again." "There you're wrong; he will be back before the train starts, you may rely on that, and you'll be able to talk to him. We'll let you out then," he was laughing at me, traitor that he was. The railway officials at Basle might have interfered, but Jules answered for me, declaring with a significant gesture that I was in drink and that he would see to me. Already the train was moving out of the station, when, to my intense joy, I caught sight of Ludovic Tiler, who came down the platform running alongside us, and crying, "Falfani, Falfani," as he recognized me. She's in the restaurant. You'll easily know her, in a long ulster, with her maid and the child. By the Lord, she is standing at the door! The timely appearance of my colleague, Ludovic Tiler, consoled me a little for the loss of the lady and her lot. I had failed, myself, but I hoped that with my lead he would get on to the scent and keep to it.

Ere long, on the first intimation from him I might come into the game again. For the moment I was most concerned to find out whether Tiler's intervention and my short talk with him had been noticed by the other side. If the Colonel knew that another man was on his friend's track, he would surely have left the train at once so as to go to her assistance. But he was still in the train, I could hear him plainly, speaking to Jules in the next compartment. Again, as we sped on, I reasoned favourably from their leaving me as I was, still under lock and key. No one came near me until after we had passed Olten station, the first stopping-place after Basle, where I could alight and retrace my steps. By holding on to me I guessed that I was still thought to be the chief danger, and that they had no suspicion of Tiler's existence. I laughed in my sleeve, but not the less did I rage and storm when Jules l'Echelle came with the Colonel to release me. "As for you, l'Echelle, it shall cost you your place, and I'll take the law of you, Colonel Annesley; I'll get damages and you shall answer for your illegal action." "Pfui!" retorted the Colonel.

"The mischief you can do is nothing to what you might have done.

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

Leave the lady alone, both by word and deed. You've collared me for a bit, but I'm not the only one in the show." "The only one that counts," he said sneering. "Am I?" I answered in the same tone. "What if I had a pal waiting for me at Basle, who received my instructions there--just when you thought you had me safe--and has now taken up the running?" He was perfectly staggered at this, I could see plainly. "You infernal villain," he shouted, "I believe the whole thing is a confounded lie! I only account to them for my conduct. But he looked me very straight in the eyes. Give up the whole business; you will only burn your fingers." "Ah! How so?" "The law is altogether against you.

"Tell that to the Courts and to the Judge when you are prosecuted for contempt and charged as an accessory after the fact. It will take the starch out of you." "Rot! The law can't do us much harm. The only person who might make it disagreeable is Lord Blackadder, and I snap my fingers at him." "The Earl of Blackadder?

He has been made the victim of an abominable outrage, and will spare no effort, no means, no money to recover his own." "Lord Blackadder is a cad--a cruel, cowardly ruffian. It would give me the greatest pleasure to kick him down the street. All must depend on what I heard there--upon what news, if any, came from Ludovic Tiler. So on my arrival I made my way straight to the telegraph-office in the corner of the great station, and on showing my card an envelope was handed to me.

It was from Tiler at Basle, and ran as follows: "They have booked through by 7.30 A.M., via Brienne, Lausanne to Brieg, and I suppose the Simplon. Can you join me at either end--Brieg or Domo Dossola? The sooner the better. Wire me from all places along the route, giving your movements. 70." The news pointed pretty clearly to the passage of the Alps and descent into Italy by another route than the St. I had my Bradshaw in my bag, and proceeded at once to verify the itinerary by the time-table, while I drank my early coffee in the restaurant upon the station platform. I was most anxious to join hands with Tiler, and quickly turned over the leaves of my railway guide to see if it was possible, and how it might best be managed. My first idea was to retrace my steps to Basle and follow him by the same road.

But I soon found that the trains would not fit in the very least. He would be travelling by the one fast train in the day, which was due at Brieg at four o'clock in the afternoon. My first chance, if I caught the very next train back from Lucerne, would only get me to Brieg by the eleven o'clock the following morning. It was not good enough, and I dismissed the idea forthwith. Then I remembered that by getting off the St.

Gothard railway at Goeschenen I should strike the old Furka diligence route by the Devil's Bridge, Hospenthal, and the Rhone Glacier, a drive of fifty miles, more or less, but at least it would get me to Brieg that same night by 10 or 11 o'clock. Before adopting this line I had to consider that there was a risk of missing Tiler and his quarry; that is to say, of being too late for them; for the lady might decide to push on directly she reached Brieg, taking a special carriage extra post as far as the Simplon at least, even into Domo Dossola. She was presumably in such a hurry that the night journey would hardly deter her from driving over the pass. By the time I reached Brieg they would be halfway across the Alps, and I must take the same road, making a stern chase, proverbially the longest. I turned my attention, therefore, to the Italian end of the carriage road, and to seeing how and when I could reach Domo Dossola, the alternative suggestion made by Tiler. There would be no difficulty as to that, and I found I could be there in good time the same evening. I worked it out on the tables and it looked easy enough. Leave Lucerne by the St.

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

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

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

On looking round I saw Jules l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, but out of uniform, and with an amused grin on his face. How about your service on the car?" I asked suspiciously. His business was the Colonel's, who had set him to assist in watching me. I had two enemies then to encounter, and I realized with some misgiving that the Colonel was not a man to be despised. I secured a place with difficulty; there was rather a rush for the St. It was composed as usual of corridor carriages, all classes en suite, and I knew that it would be impossible to conceal the fact that I was on board the train. Within five minutes Jules had verified the fact and taken seats in the immediate neighbourhood, to which he and the Colonel presently came. Many excursions, especially by steamer; the Borromean islands well worth seeing, and Baveno and Stresa and the road to the Simplon." I refused to be drawn, and only muttered that I hated excursions and steamers and lakes, and wished to be left in peace. Was it not possible to give them the slip, somehow, somewhere? I took the Colonel's hint, and pretended to take refuge in sleep, and at last, I believe, I dozed off.

It was suggested to me by the short tunnels that succeed so frequently in the ascent of the St. They are, as most people know, a chief feature in the mountain railway, and a marvel of engineering skill, being cut in circles to give the necessary length and gain the height with a moderate gradient. Speed is so far slackened that it would be quite possible to drop off the train without injury whenever inclined. I nursed my project with eyes shut, still feigning sleep; and my extreme quiescence had, as I hoped, the effect of throwing them off their guard. Jules, like all in the same employment, was always ready for forty winks, and I saw that he was sound and snoring just as we entered the last tunnel before reaching the entrance of the final great tunnel at Goeschenen. I could not be quite sure of the Colonel, but his attitude was that of a man resting, and who had very nearly lost himself, if he had not quite gone off. Fortunately we sat at the extreme end of a coach, in the last places, and besides we three there was only one other occupant in the compartment of six. The fourth passenger was awake, but I made a bid for his good-will by touching my lips with a finger, and the next minute I was gone. I expected to hear the alarm given at my disappearance, but none reached my ears, as the train rattled past me with its twinkling lights and noisy road.

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

When all was quiet, an hour later I made for the highroad, the famous old road that leads through the Devil's Pass to Andermatt, three miles above. I altogether avoided the Goeschenen station, fearing any inconvenient inquiries, and abandoned all idea of getting the telegram from Tiler that might be possibly awaiting me. I should be obliged now to send him fresh news, news of the changed plans that took me direct into Brieg; and on entering Andermatt I came upon the post-office, just where I wanted it, both to send my message and order an extra post carriage from Brieg.

It was with a sense of intense relief that I sank back into the cushions and felt that at last I was free. Long before I reached Hospenthal, a mile or so from Andermatt, I was disturbed by strange cries to the accompaniment of harness bells. "Yo-icks, Yo-icks, G-o-ne away!" was borne after me with all the force of stentorian lungs, and looking round I saw to my horror a second carriage coming on at top speed, and beyond all question aiming to overtake us.

Soon they drew nearer, near enough for speech, and the accursed Colonel hailed me. Lucky you were seen leaving the train, or we might have overrun the scent and gone on." I did not answer.

"Going all the way to Brieg by road, I believe?

It's all in the day's work." With that I desired my driver to pull up, and waved my hand to the others, motioning to them that the road was theirs. But when I stopped they stopped, and the Colonel jeered. When I drove on they came along too, laughing. We did this several times; and when at the two roads just through Hospenthal, one by the St. Gothard, the other leading to the Furka, I took the first for a short distance, then turned back, just to try my pursuers. They still stuck to me. He had collared me, he was on my back, and I felt that I must throw up the sponge. "I gave you fair notice that you would not get rid of me, and by heaven you shall not," he cried fiercely, putting off all at once the lighter mockery of his tone.

You think to find your confederate there, and you hope that, combined, the two of you will get the better of that lady. I must get in touch with him at the earliest possible moment and my nearest way to him, situated as I was now, must be at or through Brieg. We pulled up for luncheon and a short rest at the Furka; again in the afternoon at the Rhone Glacier. Then we pursued our way all along the valley, with the great snow peak of the Matterhorn in front of us, through village and hamlet, in the fast fading light, and so on under the dark but luminous sky into Munster, Fiesch, and Morel, till at length we rolled into Brieg about 11 P.M. I drove straight to the Hôtel de la Poste, careless that my tormentors were accompanying me; they could do me no more harm, and Tiler was at hand to help in vindicating our position.

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

He was in trouble himself; they had nipped him, caught him tight, and thrown him off the scent. I was now to take up the running.

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

I saw her looking me over as I walked into the waiting-room, curiously, critically, and for a moment I fancied she guessed who I was. If so--if she thought me one of her persecutors--she would hardly look upon me without repugnance, yet I almost believed it was all the other way. I had an idea that she did not altogether dislike me, that she was pleased with my personal appearance. I had had my successes in my time, and may say, although it sounds conceited, that I had won the approval of other ladies quite as high-toned. In the meantime it would be amusing, enjoyable, to make friends. So far I had still to ascertain the direction in which she was bound. That might be safely inferred, for she was in the waiting-room with her porter and her bags, ready to pass out upon the platform as soon as the doors were opened. (Everyone knows that the idiotic and uncomfortable practice still prevails in Switzerland of shutting passengers off from the train till the very last moment.) This waiting-room served for many lines, and I could only wait patiently to enter the particular train for which she would be summoned. When at length an official unlocked the door and announced the train for Biel, Neuchâtel, Lausanne, and Brieg, she got up to take her seat, and I had no longer any doubt as to the direction of her journey. So as I saw her go, I slipped back to the ticket-office and took my place all the way to Brieg, the furthest point on the line.

This was obviously my best and safest plan, as I should then be ready for anything that happened. After getting my ticket I found time to telegraph to Falfani at Lucerne, giving him my latest news, and then proceeded to the train.

I found the lady easily enough, and got into the same carriage with her. It was one of those on the Swiss plan, with many compartments opening into one another en suite. Although the seat I chose was at a discreet distance, I was able to keep her in view. I was wondering whether it would be possible for me to break the ice and make her acquaintance, when luck served me better than I dared to hope. One of the Swiss guards of the train, a surly, overbearing brute, like so many others of his class, accosted her rudely, and from his gestures was evidently taking her to task as to the number and size of her parcels in the net above. He began to shift them, and, despite her indignant protests in imperfect German, threw some of them on the floor. I hurried to the rescue, and, being fluent in German as in several other languages--it is part of my stock in trade--I sharply reproved the guard and called him an unmannerly boor for his cowardly treatment of an unprotected lady. She responded quickly, readily, and I thought I might improve the occasion by politely inquiring if I could be of any further service to her.

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

She addressed me very sweetly and with the utmost composure. Lausanne I think you said?" I asked casually as I turned over the pages of the guide. I only wanted to know whether there would be time for déjeuner at Lausanne. I think there is no dining-car on this train?" "No, it is on the next, which is extraordinarily bad mismanagement. It is a slow train the next, and we are a special express. It depends upon my meeting friends somewhere on the lake, either there or further on. If they come on board we shall run on to Brieg so as to drop over the Alps to Lake Maggiore by the Simplon route." I threw this out carelessly but with deliberate intention, and the shot told. I had not the smallest doubt that this was her plan also. She was bound to cross over into Italy, that we knew, or our employers firmly believed it, and as she had been driven off the St. Gothard by Falfani she had now doubled back by Switzerland to make the journey to Brieg and across the mountains by road.

I had scored as I thought, but I forgot that in gaining the knowledge I had betrayed my own intentions, and put her upon her guard. How long does it take, have you any idea, and how do you travel?" "It is about nine hours by diligence," I said, consulting the Bradshaw, "and the fare is forty francs, but by private carriage or extra post a good deal more." "May I look?" and I handed her the book, "although I never could understand Bradshaw," she added pleasantly. "I shall be very pleased to explain if you are in doubt," I suggested; but she declined laughingly, saying it would amuse her to puzzle out things, so I left her the book and composed myself into a corner while the train rattled on. I mused and dozed and dreamily watched her pretty face admiringly, as she pored over the pages of the Guide, little thinking she was perfecting a plan for my undoing. The first stop was at Biel or Bienne, its French name, and there was a halt of ten minutes or more.

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

"Are we near then? I never was so hungry in my life," and the smile expanded into a gay laugh as she rose to her feet and was ready to leave the carriage. "I'm afraid you will have to wait, Philpotts, we cannot leave that," she pointed to the child nestling sound asleep by her side. This gentleman will perhaps escort me to the refreshment-room." I agreed, of course, and saying, "Only too charmed," I led the way--a long way, for the restaurant is at the far end of the platform. At last we sat down tête-à-tête and prepared to do full justice to the meal. "I shall perhaps like something else better," and she went carefully through the whole menu, so that the time slipped away, and we were within five minutes of departure. Come and help me choose," and in duty bound I gallantly carried the food back to the train. I walked ahead briskly, and making my way to the places where we had left the maid and child, jumped in.

They were gone, the two of them. The seats were empty, and as the compartment was quite empty, too, no one could tell me when they had left or where they had gone. For the moment I was dazed and dumfounded, but I took a pull on myself quickly. Had they sold me completely? My one chance was in prompt action; I must hunt them up, recover trace of them with all possible despatch, follow them, and find them wherever they might be. There was just the chance that they had only moved into another carriage, thinking that when I missed them I should get out and hunt for them in the station.

To counter that I ran up and down the train, in and out of the carriages, questing like a hound, searching everywhere. So eager was I that I neglected the ordinary warnings that the train was about to start; the guard's fertig ("ready"), the sounding horn, the answering engine whistle, I overlooked them all, and we moved on before I could descend. Nein, nein, verboten." A hand caught me roughly by the collar and dragged me back. It was the enemy I had made in championing my lady, the guard of the train, who gladly seized the chance of being disagreeable to me. I fought hard to be free, but by the time I had shaken him off the speed had so increased that it would have been unsafe to leave the train. Fortunately our first stop was within five and twenty minutes, at Vevey; and there in ten minutes more I found a train back to Lausanne, so that I had lost less than an hour and a half in all. It was more than enough for my fugitives to clear out of the Lausanne station and make some new move, to hide away in an out-of-the-way spot, go to ground in fact, or travel in another direction. My first business was to inquire in and about the station for a person or persons answering to the parties I missed. Had they separated, these two women, for good and all? If the maid had gone off first, I had to consider whether they would not again join forces as soon as I was well out of the way.

They would surely feel safer, happier, together, and this encouraged me to ask first for two people, two females, a lady and her servant, one of them, the latter, carrying a child. There were many officials about in uniform, and all alike supercilious and indifferent, after the manner of their class, to the travelling public, and I could get none to take the smallest interest in my affairs. One shrugged his shoulders, another stared at me in insolent silence, a third answered me abruptly that he was too occupied to bother himself, and a fourth peremptorily ordered me not to hang any longer about the station. Foiled thus by the railway staff--and I desire to place on record here my deliberate opinion after many years' experience in many lands, that for rudeness and overbearing manners the Swiss functionary has no equal in the whole world--I went outside the station and sought information among the cabmen and touts who hang about waiting to take up travellers. I accosted all the drivers patiently one by one, but could gather nothing definite from any of them. Most had been on the stand at the arrival of the midday train, many had been engaged to convey passengers and baggage up into the town of Lausanne, and had deposited their fares at various hotels and private residences, but no one had driven any party answering to those of whom I was in search.

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

I must begin one way or the other, and I proceeded at once to question the conductor, when he nicked my ticket, only to draw perfectly blank. It is idiote to ask such questions, monsieur, of a busy man." "I can pay for what I want," I whispered gently, as I slipped a five-franc piece into his hand, ever mindful of the true saying, Point d'argent, point de Suisse; and the bribe entirely changed his tone. Twenty thousand thunders, but I cannot remember, not--" he dropped his voice--"not for five francs." I doubled the dose, and hoped I had now sufficiently stimulated his memory or unloosed his tongue.

But the rascal was still hesitating when we reached the top, and I could get nothing more than that it was certainly Lausanne, "if," he added cunningly, "it was not Ouchy." But he had seen her, that was sure--seen her that very day upon the line, not more than an hour or two before. he had an eye for the beau sexe; and yet more he noticed that she talked English, of which he knew some words, to her maid. But whether she was bound to Lausanne or Ouchy, "diable, who could say?" I had got little in return for my ten francs expended on this ambiguous news, but now that I found myself actually in Lausanne I felt that it behoved me to scour the city for traces of my quarry.

She might not have come here at all, yet there was an even chance the other way, and I should be mad not to follow the threads I held in my hand. I resolved to inquire at all the hotels forthwith. I must run her to ground if possible, fix her once more, or I should never again dare to look my employers in the face. I was now upon the great bridge that spans the valley of the Flon and joins the old with the new quarter of Lausanne.

The best hotels, the Gibbon, Richemont, Falcon, Grand Pont, and several more, stood within easy reach, and I soon exhausted this branch of the inquiry. I found a valet de place hanging about the Gibbon, whose services I secured, and instructed him to complete the investigation, extending it to all the minor hotels and pensions, some half-dozen more, reserving to myself the terminus by the great station, which I had overlooked when leaving for the Ficelle or cable railway. I meant to wait for him there to hear his report, but at the same time I took his address--Eugène Falloon, Rue Pré Fleuri--where I could give him an appointment in case I missed him at the terminus. On entering the car for the journey down I came upon the conductor who had been of so little use to me, and I was about to upbraid him when he disarmed me by volunteering fresh news. The lady with her people certainly went down, for I have seen a porter who helped her with her effects from the line to the steamboat pier at Ouchy." "And on board the steamer? "He shall tell you himself if I can find him when we reach the terminus. It may not be easy, but I could do it if--" Another and a third five-franc piece solved his doubts, and I abandoned my visit to the terminus hotel to seize this more tangible clue, and proceeded at once to the lake shore. On reaching the steamboat pier I was introduced to the porter, a shock-headed, stupid-looking creature, whom I forthwith questioned eagerly; but elicited only vague and, I felt sure, misleading replies. The conductor assisted at my interview, stimulating and encouraging the man to speak, and overdid it, as I thought. I strongly suspected that this new evidence had been produced in order to bleed me further.

Well dressed, handsome, or the reverse?

How dressed, and did he suppose her condition to be that of a lady like the other, equal in rank, or an inferior? The answers I got were not encouraging.

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

It would be about 2 P.M., wouldn't it, when the express boat comes from Vevey and Bouveret?" "Yes, I make no doubt of that," said the man, with a gleam of intelligence upon his stolid face.

"And the ladies went on board it, you say? You are sure?" "It must have been so; I certainly carried their traps on board." "Now, are you quite positive it was the two o'clock going that way, and not the quarter past two returning from Geneva?" I had my Bradshaw handy, and was following the time-table with my fingers. "The 2.15?" The gleam of light went out entirely from his stolid face. You see the two boats come in so near each other and lie at the same pier. I could easily make a mistake between them." "It is my firm belief," I said, utterly disgusted with the fellow, "my firm belief that you have made a mistake all through. You never saw the ladies at all, either of you." I turned upon the conductor with a fierce scowl. I've a precious good mind to report you to your superiors, and insist upon your refunding the money. My superiors will always listen first to one of their own employés, and it will be awkward if I charge you with obstructing an official and making false charges against him." Mine is a hasty temper; I am constrained to confess to a fault which often stood in my way especially in my particular business. The conductor's insolence irritated me beyond measure, and coming as it did on the top of bitter disappointment I was driven into a deplorable access of rage, which I shall always regret. Without another word I rushed at him, caught him by the throat, and shook him violently, throwing him to the ground and beating his head upon it savagely.

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

Both wallet and handbag were locked; they demanded the keys, thinking I had them hidden on my person, but I said they could find them for themselves, the truth being the locks were on a patent plan and could be opened with the fingers by any one who knew. My object now was to go free again at the earliest possible moment, and I cast about to see how I might best compass it. I offered him any money in reason, I would pay any sum they might fix, pay down on the nail and give my bond for the rest.

My gaolers scouted the proposal indignantly. It was the law I had outraged, not an individual merely. Besides--money is all powerful in this venal country--how could I pay, a poor devil like me, the necessary price?

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

Let them bring me my wallet. I would show them my passport bearing the Royal Arms and the signature of one of H.M. All of us in the employ of Messrs.

Becke invariably carried Foreign Office passports as the best credentials we could produce if we were caught in any tight place. The greeting of so great a personage to his trusty and well beloved Ludovic Tiler had a very marked effect upon my captors. It was enhanced by the sight of a parcel of crisp Bank of England notes lying snugly in the pocket of the wallet, which I had opened, but without betraying the secret of the spring. When I extracted a couple of fivers and handed them to the chief gaoler, begging him to do the best for my comfort, the situation changed considerably, but no hopes were held out for my immediate release. I was promised dinner from a restaurant hard by, and was permitted to send a brief telegram to Falfani, to the effect that I was detained at Lausanne by unforeseen circumstances, but no more. Then bedding was brought in, on which, after a night in the train, I managed to sleep soundly enough until quite late next morning. I had summoned Eugène Falloon to my assistance, and he was permitted to visit me quite early, soon after the prison had opened. He was prompt and practical, and proceeded to perform the commissions I gave him with all despatch. I charged him first to telegraph to England, to our office, briefly stating my quandary, begging them to commend me to some one in Lausanne or Geneva, for Becke's have friends and correspondents in every city of the world. He was then to call upon the British Consul, producing my passport in proof of my claim upon him as a British subject in distress, and if necessary secure me legal advice.

I had been warned that I might expect to be examined that very day, but that several were likely to elapse before the final disposal of my case. All that forenoon, and quite late into the next day, I was left brooding and chafing at my misfortune, self-inflicted I will confess, but not the less irksome to bear.

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

So near are the chances encountered in such a profession as ours. Falloon had only ascertained this positively on the second day of my detention, but with it the information that only two first-class tickets, both for Geneva, had been issued by that train.

To make it all sure he had taken the precaution to ask at all the stations along the line at which the train had stopped, seven in number, and had learned that no persons answering to my ladies had alighted at any of them.

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

Just as I put my foot upon the bridge I saw a figure approaching me, coming from the opposite direction. It was the lady herself. She must have seen me at the very same moment, for she halted dead with the abruptness of one faced with a sudden danger, an opened precipice, or a venomous snake under foot.

At that moment one of the many electric trams that overspread Geneva with a network of lines came swinging down the Rue de Mont Blanc from the Cornavin station, and slackened speed at the end of the bridge. My lady made up her mind then and there, and as it paused she boarded it with one quick, agile spring. With no less prompt decision I followed her, and we entered the car almost simultaneously. There were only two seats vacant and, curiously enough, face to face. "Have I not to thank you for your courtesy in the train a couple of days ago?" I stammered a halting affirmative. The truth was my child had been suddenly taken ill and the nurse had to leave the train hurriedly. "But I thought you were bound for the other end of the lake," she continued. I begin to like the place, and I have found very comfortable quarters at the Hôtel Cornavin, near the station.

There was surely some pitfall, some trap concealed for my abounding credulity. "The accommodation is good, nice rooms, civil people, decent cuisine. The tram-car by this time had run through the Place Molard, the Allemand Marché, and was turning into the Rue de la Corraterie, pointing upward for the theatre and the Promenade des Bastions. She settled the question by getting out at the Place Neuve with a few parting words. Do try the Cornavin. What if her whole story was untrue, what if there was no Hôtel Cornavin, and no such guests there?

I could not afford to let her out of my sight, and with one spring I also left the car and, catching a last glimpse of her retreating skirts, gave chase. I cannot say whether she realized that I was following, but she led me a pretty dance.

In and out, and round and round, by narrow streets and dark passages, backwards and forwards, as adroitly as any practised thief eluding the hot pursuit of the police. At last she paused and looked back, and thinking she had shaken me off (for knowing the game well I had hastily effaced myself in a doorway) plunged into the entrance of a small unpretending hotel in a quiet, retired square--the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, certainly not the Cornavin. The door in which I had taken shelter was that of a dark third-rate café well suited to my purpose, and well placed, for I was in full view of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, which I was resolved to watch at least until my lady came out again.

As I slowly absorbed an absinthe, revolving events past and to come, I thought it would be well to draw Falloon to me. It was past the hour for our meeting. I scribbled three lines of a note and despatched it to the Café de la Couronne by a messenger to whom I fully described my colleague's appearance, desiring him to show the addressed envelope before delivery, but having no doubt that it would reach its destination. Presently Falloon joined me, and as my lady had as yet made no sign, I bade him continue the watch, while I left the café openly and ostentatiously, so that it might be seen by any one curious to know that I had given up the game. I designed only to try the Hôtel Cornavin to ascertain the real facts; and if, as I shrewdly suspected, I had been fooled, to return forthwith and rejoin Falloon at the true point of interest, taking such further steps as might seem desirable. There was no mistake, however, at the Cornavin Hôtel. I was told directly I asked at the bureau that a Mrs. Blair, accompanied by her maid and child, was staying in the house. She was not at home for the moment. I was slow to congratulate myself on what seemed a point gained, for I had still my misgivings, but I would make the most of the chances that offered to my hand.

I secured a room at the Cornavin Hôtel, and bespoke another for Falfani, whom I should now summon at once. With this idea I took the earliest opportunity of telegraphing to him as follows: "Detained by unfortunate contretemps at Lausanne, happily surmounted, clue lost and regained. "LUDOVIC." I noted the time of despatch, 4.17 P.M. It would surely reach Falfani before the last train left Brieg coming my way, and I hardly trusted myself to anticipate the comfort and relief his appearance would bring me. Combined we could tie ourselves to our quarry, and never let her out of sight until our principals could take over and settle the business. Then hailing a cab, I drove to a point close by where I had left Falloon, and found the situation entirely unchanged. No one had come out of the Hôtel Pierre Fatio. All the time I was haunted with a vague and ever present idea that she meant to sell me. The more I tortured my brain to consider how, the less I was able to fathom her intentions.

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

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

No doubt for the Hôtel de France, just opposite." There she was indeed with all her belongings. (How well I knew them by this time!) The maid with her child in arms, the porter with the light baggage. I quickened my pace and entered the hotel almost simultaneously with her. Ranging up alongside I said, not without exultation: "Geneva was not so much to your taste, then?

You have left rather abruptly." "To whom are you speaking, sir?" she replied in a stiff, strange voice, assumed, I felt sure, for the occasion. She was so closely veiled that I could not see her face, but it was the same figure, the same costume, the same air. No fear." I meant to spend the night on guard, watching and waiting till I was relieved by the arrival of the others, to whom I telegraphed without delay. I left my narrative at the moment when I had promised my help to the lady I found in such distress in the Engadine express. I promised it unconditionally, and although there were circumstances in her case to engender suspicion, I resolutely ignored them. It was her secret, and I was bound to respect it, content to await the explanation I felt sure she could make when so minded. It was at dinner in the dining-car, under the eyes of her persecutor, that we arranged to give him the slip at Basle.

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

He said he had lost "her," the lady of course. I was not altogether happy in my mind about her, for when we had parted at Brieg it had been settled that she should take the Simplon route through this very place Brieg, at which I now found myself so unexpectedly, and I ought to have come upon her or had news of her somewhere had her plans been carried out. She certainly had not reached Brieg, for with my ally l'Echelle we searched the town for news of her that night and again next morning. The situation was embarrassing. I could decide upon no clear course but that of holding on to Falfani and clinging to him with the very skin of my teeth; any light must come from or through him, or at least by keeping him in full view I might prevent him from doing any more mischief. One of us, l'Echelle or myself, continually watched him all that day, the third of this curious imbroglio into which I was plunged. At night I took the strong and unjustifiable measure of locking him into his room.

When he discovered it next morning he was furious, and came straight at me open-mouthed. "I'll appeal to the law, I'll denounce you to the authorities, I'll charge you with persecution and with false imprisonment. I loathe and detest you. "I am the representative of a court of law; I have great people at my back, people who will soon bring you to book. The Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder will arrive shortly. I've told you before now what I think of Lord Blackadder, and if it be necessary I'll tell him to his face when he gets here." This conversation took place just before the table-d'hôte luncheon, and immediately afterwards Falfani went out in the direction of the railway station. I followed, keeping him in sight on the platform, where, by and by, I saw him, hat in hand, bowing obsequiously before a passenger who alighted from the incoming train. They walked back together to the hotel, and so, at a certain distance, did I. I was lounging about outside the house, wondering what would happen next, when a waiter came out to me bearing a card, which he tendered, bowing low, more in deference to the card, as I thought, than to me. "Earl of Blackadder" was the name engraved, and written just below in pencil were the words, "would like to speak to Colonel Annesley at once." "Well, I've no objection," I began, stiffly.

I thought the summons a trifle too peremptory. "Where is he?" The waiter pointed back to the hotel, and I saw a white, evil face glowering at me from a window on the ground floor of the hotel.

The very look on it stirred my bile. It was an assumption of superiority, of concentrated pride and exaggerated authority, as though everyone must yield to his lightest wish and humble himself in the dust before him. I resented this, and slipping the card carelessly in my pocket, I nodded to the waiter, who still stood awaiting my reply. Mahomet came to the mountain. It wore an angry scowl now; his dark eyes glittered balefully under the close-knit eyebrows, his lips were drawn down, and the curved nose was like the aggressive beak of a bird of prey. "Colonel Annesley, I understand," he said coldly, contemptuously, just lifting one finger towards the brim of his hat. "That is my name," I responded, without returning the salute. I desired to address you somewhat more privately than this." He looked round the open yard in front of the hotel.

There can be nothing between you and me, Lord Blackadder, that concerns me very closely; nothing that the whole world may not hear." "What I have to say might prove very unpleasant to you in the telling, Colonel Annesley. Say what you please, my lord, and, if you like, as loud as you please, only be quick about it." "With all my heart, then, if you will have it so.

"People who forget themselves so far as you have done must accept the responsibility of their own actions; and I tell you, here and now, that I shall call you to strict account for yours." The man was trying me hard, but still I strove to keep my temper. No one would do so who had read the public prints lately." "How dare you, sir, refer to my conduct, or presume to criticize or question it?" he burst out. We are within a short step of either France or Italy, and in both countries the old-fashioned plan of settling affairs of honour is still in force. We shall find friendly seconds in the nearest garrison town, and I shall be glad to cross the frontier with you whenever you please." "You talk like the hectoring, swashbuckling bully that you are," he cried angrily, but looking rather uncomfortable.... "I will swear the peace against you." "Do so by all means. A man who would descend to espionage, who could so cruelly misuse a lady, is capable of anything; of making assertions he cannot substantiate, of threatening things he dare not do." "I have the clearest proof of what I say. You have chosen to come into my life--" "I should be extremely sorry to do so." "Will you deny that you have sided with my enemies, that you have joined and abetted them in a base plot to defraud and rob me of my--my--property, of that which I most highly value and cherish of all my possessions?" "I don't know what you are talking about, Lord Blackadder, but whatever your grievance I tell you candidly that I do not like your tone or your manner, and I shall hold no further converse with you." I turned my back on him and walked away. I shall go my own road, and I defy you to do your worst." Here, when I was on the threshold of the hotel, I met Falfani full, as he came running out excitedly, holding in his hand the telltale blue envelope, which, with his elated air, indicated clearly that he had just received important news. I paused for a moment, hoping he might commit himself, and was rewarded by hearing him say aloud: "It is from Geneva, my lord, from Ludovic Tiler," he began indiscreetly, and was angrily silenced by my lord, who called him "a triple-dyed idiot," and with a significant gesture towards me bade him walk away to some distance from the hotel. The mischief was done, however, for I had of course heard enough to know that the other detective had given signs of life at last, and that the report, to judge by Falfani's glee, must be satisfactory.

The more pleased the other side, the more reason to fear that matters were adverse on ours. It might be thought that I was too hard on my Lord Blackadder, but only those few indeed who were unacquainted with the circumstances of his divorce would find fault with me. The scandal was quite recent, and the Blackadder case had been in everybody's mouth. The papers had been full of it, and the proceedings were not altogether to his lordship's credit. They had been instituted by him, however, on grounds that induced the jury to give him a verdict, and the judge had pronounced a decree nisi on the evidence as it stood. Yet the public sympathies were generally with the respondent, the Countess of Blackadder. It had been an unhappy marriage, an ill-assorted match, mercenary, of mere convenience, forced upon an innocent and rather weak girl by careless and callous guardians, eager to rid themselves of responsibility for the two twin sisters, Ladies Claire and Henriette Standish, orphans, and with no near relations. Lord Blackadder was immensely rich, but a man of indifferent moral character, a roué and a voluptuary, with a debilitated constitution and an unattractive person, possessing none of the gifts that take a maiden's fancy.

Estrangement soon followed the birth of the son and heir to his title and great estates. Distrust grew into strong suspicion, and presently consumed him when an old flame of Lady Henriette's, Charlie Forrester, of the Dark Horse, turned up from foreign service, and their names came to be bracketed together by the senseless gossiping busybodies ever ready to tear a pretty woman's reputation to tatters.

There was one very awkward story that could not be disproved as it was told, and in the upshot convicted her. It was said, but not so positively, that she had met him at Victoria Station; they were seen there together, had travelled by the same train, and there was a strong presumption that they had arrived together at Brighton; one or two railway officials deposed to the fact. Lady Blackadder denied this entirely, and gave a very different complexion to the story. Major Forrester had seen her off, no doubt, but they had parted at the carriage door. Her visit to Brighton had been for the purpose of seeing and staying with an old servant, once a very confidential maid for whom she had a great liking, and had often taken refuge with when worried and in trouble. She thought, perhaps, to make this the first stage in the rupture with my lord.

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

I had not the smallest doubt when I realized with whom I had to do that the unhappy mother had made a desperate effort to redress her wrongs, as she thought them, and had somehow contrived to carry off her baby before she could be deprived of it. I had met her in full flight upon the Engadine express. The Court might order such an unnatural proceeding, but I was moved by every chivalrous impulse to give her my unstinting and unhesitating support to counteract it. I was full of these thoughts, and still firmly resolved to help Lady Blackadder, when l'Echelle, the conductor whose services I still retained, sought me out hurriedly, and told me that he believed the others were on the point of leaving Brieg.

"I saw Falfani and milord poring over the pages of the Indicateur, and heard the word Geneva dropped in a whisper. I think they mean to take the next train along the lake shore." "Not a doubt of it," I assented; "so will we.

They must not be allowed to go beyond our reach." When the 6.57 P.M. for Geneva was due out from Brieg, we, l'Echelle and I, appeared on the platform, and our intention to travel by it was made plain to Lord Blackadder. The effect upon him was painfully manifest at once.

Seeing me enter the same carriage with him, with the obvious intention of keeping him under my eye, he threw himself back among the cushions and yielded himself with the worst grace to the inevitable. The railway journey was horribly slow, and it must have been past 11 P.M. We alighted in the Cornavin station, and as they moved at once towards the exit I followed. I expected them to take a carriage and drive off, and was prepared to give chase, when I found they started on foot, evidently to some destination close at hand.

It proved to be the Cornavin Hôtel, not a stone's-throw from the station. They entered, and went straight to the bureau, where the night clerk was at his desk. I heard them ask for a person named Tiler, and without consulting his books the clerk replied angrily: "Tiler! He has gone off from the dinner-table and without paying his bill." "That shall be made all right," replied Lord Blackadder loftily, as he detailed his name and quality, before which the employé bowed low.

"And might I ask," his lordship went on, "whether a certain Mrs. Blair, a lady with her child and its nurse, is staying in the hotel?" "But certainly, milord. They have been here some days.

This explains." And he passed the scrap of paper on to his employer. He says the parties have gone, and that he is in close attendance; yet this fellow here," pointing to the clerk, "assures us she is in this very house. I don't understand it, by Gad!" "There is some fresh trick, my lord, you may be sure. The devil himself isn't half so clever as this fine lady. But we'll get at the bottom of it.

We shall hear more from Tiler, and we've got the lady here, under our hand." "Ah! How do you know, sir," to the clerk, "that Mrs. Blair is still in the hotel? See, it is marked in the register.

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

Take yourself off, or I will not answer for the consequences." I confess I only laughed and still held my ground, although my lord's outcry had attracted much attention. Several people ran up, and they might have sided against me, when I heard a voice whisper into my ear: "Come, sir, come. "I had no idea you were within miles, and was repining bitterly that I had let you get so far out of the way. Now you appear in the very nick of time, just when I was almost in despair. Then with a conscious blush she went on. I can lay no claim to the title." "May I be forgiven if I trench on such a delicate subject, and assure you of my most sincere sympathy? I was watching that fellow, the detective Falfani, when his lordship came upon the scene.

How am I to escape him?" "With the child?" "To be sure. Of course, I do not fear him in the least for myself." "You want to keep the child?" "Naturally, as I carried it off." "And still more because you had the best right to it, whatever the Court might direct.

You are its mother." Again she blushed and smiled, rather comically. Yet he is very near getting it now." "In there?" I nodded towards the next room. How are you to manage it?" "There would not have been the slightest difficulty; it was all but done, and then some one, something, failed me. I expected too much perhaps, but I have been bitterly disappointed, and the danger has revived." "Come, come, Lady Blackadder, keep up your courage. Let us take counsel together. "It is getting late, but you must hear all I have to tell before we can decide upon the next step. First let me clear the ground a little. I am not Lady Blackadder--no, no, do not misunderstand me--not on account of the divorce, but I never was Lady Blackadder.

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

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

When I first saw you at Calais I was seized with a terrible fear, which was soon allayed; you did not look much like a detective, and you were already my good friend when the real ruffian, Falfani, came on board the train at Amiens." "On reaching Geneva I at once opened communications with Henriette. I felt satisfied, now that I had come so far, it would be well that she should join me, and that we should concert together as to our next proceedings. Our first and principal aim was to retain the child at all costs and against all comers. I had no precise knowledge as to where we should be beyond the jurisdiction of the English law, but I could not believe that the Divorce Court and its emissaries could interfere with us in a remote Italian village. He was so bold and unscrupulous that, if the law would not help him, he would try stratagem, or even force. We should be really safe nowhere if we once came within his reach, and, the best plan to keep out of his clutches was to hide our whereabouts from him. "Fuentellato would not do, for although I do not believe he knew the exact spot in which Henriette had taken refuge, he must have guessed something from the direction of my journey, and that I was on my way to join her.

If he failed to intercept me en route, he would make his way straight there. Farther afield, if necessary to the very end of the world. That was another reason for drawing my sister to me. I had hit upon a cunning device, as I thought it, to confuse and deceive my pursuers, to throw them on to a false scent, lead them to follow a red herring, while the fox, free of the hunt, took another line." CHAPTER XVII. "There should be two Richmonds in the field! Two sets, two parties, each of them consisting of one lady, one maid, and one baby, exactly similar and indistinguishable. When the time was ripe we should separate, and each would travel in opposite directions, and I hoped to show sufficient guile to induce my persecutors to give chase to the wrong quarry.

Run it to the death, while the party got clear away. Fuentellato was at no great distance from Parma, on the main line of railway.

If she started at once, via Piacenza to Turin, she could catch the Mont Cenis express through to Modane and Culoz, where she could change for Geneva, so as to reach me some time on Tuesday. My sister carried out my instructions to the letter, and I met her here on arrival. I had taken up my quarters in this hotel because it was so near the station, but I thought it prudent that Henriette should lodge somewhere else, the farther the better, and she went to a small place, the Hôtel Pierre Fatio, at the other end of the town. "It is a long story, Colonel Annesley, but there is not much more, and yet the most interesting part is to come. "We now devoted ourselves to the practical carrying out of the scheme, just we four women; our maids, both clever dressmakers, were of immense help. There are plenty of good shops and skilful workers, and we soon provided ourselves with the clothes, all the disguises really that we required--the long gray dust cloaks and soft hats and all the rest, so much alike that we might have been soldiers in the same regiment.

"Everything was completed by this morning, and I had settled that my sister, with her dear little Ralph, should get away, but by quite a new route, while I held my ground against the detectives.

I felt sure they would soon hear of me and run me down. I hoped they would attach themselves to me, and meant to lead them a fine dance as a blind for Henriette, who, meanwhile, would have crossed to Lyons and gone south to Marseilles. The Riviera is a longer and more roundabout road to Turin, but it was open, and I hoped unimpeded. Everything was cut and dried and this evening we scored the first point in the game. Henriette went on this evening to Amberieu, the junction for Lyons. She went straight from her hotel, alone, for of course I was obliged to keep close, or the trick would have been discovered, and it was in part. "For I must tell you that to-day one of the detectives appeared in Geneva, not the first man, but a second, who attached himself to me at Basle. I met him plump on the Mont Blanc Bridge and turned tail, but he came after me. Then I got out and left him, making my way to the Pierre Fatio Hôtel by a circuitous route, dodging in and out among the narrow streets till I nearly lost myself.

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

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

Lady Henriette then has determined to take the first train from Amberieu at--Have you a Bradshaw? You must, if possible, exchange babies, and at the same time exchange rôles. I feel sure that you, at any rate, are not afraid of going to Marseilles with the real baby." "Hardly!" she laughed scornfully. The first and all-important is for you to secure the little Ralph and escape with him. It will have to be done under the very eyes of the enemy, for there is every reason to fear they will be going on, too. The other detective, this Tiler--I have heard them call him by that name--will have told them of her ladyship's movements, and will have summoned them, Falfani at least, to his side." "If I go on by that early train they will, no doubt, do the same. I must not be seen by them. They would fathom the trick of the two parties and the exchange." "Yet you must go on by that train. It's the only way." "Of course I might change my appearance a little, but not enough to deceive them.

Cannot I go across to the station before them and hide in some compartment specially reserved for us?" "It might be managed. We might secure the whole of the seats." "Money is no object." "It will do most things, especially in Switzerland. Before 5 A.M." "If necessary I'll sit up all night." "Well, then, that's settled. I'll knock at your door and see you get some coffee." "Philpotts shall make it; no one in the hotel must know. There will be the bill." "I will see to that. I'll come back after you're ensconced, with the blinds drawn. Sick lady on the way, via Culoz to Aix-les-Bains, must not be disturbed. It won't matter my being seen on the road, all the better really if my lord is there, for I have a little plan of my own, Lady Claire--no, please don't ask me yet--but it will help matters, I think." "You are, indeed, my true and faithful friend," she said, as she put out her hand and wished me good night. 17 I descended to the ground floor, seeking the smoking-room and a little stimulant to assist me in deciding the best course of action for the following day.

As I passed along the corridor I caught sight of l'Echelle, whom I considered my man, in close confabulation with Falfani in a quiet corner. They could hardly have seen me, at least l'Echelle made no reference to the fact when he came to me presently and asked if I had any orders for the morning. The truth, please, or you get nothing more from me." "He is a vaurien and fainéant, and thinks others as bad as himself; said my lord would give me five hundred francs to know what you were doing, and find out whether the lady who travelled with us to Basle last Sunday is here in this house." "I've no objection to your taking his money if you will tell me something. Have you any idea?" "They all go on by the early train to Culoz or farther.

A pressing telegram has come from their man at Amberieu." "Ah! Then you may say that I am also going by that early train. They're not going to shake me off very easily. Tell them that, and that if they want the lady they'd better look for her. I shall be forgiven, I think, under the circumstances. The free use of coin had the desired effect at the railway station. I was met at a private door and escorted, with my precious party, by a circuitous route to where the 5.48 was shunted, waiting the moment to run back to the departure platform. There was a coupé ready for Lady Claire, and she took her place quietly, observed by no one but the obsequious official who had managed it all. As for me, I walked boldly to the hotel and hung about the hall till the Blackadder party appeared and had left for the station. Then I asked the hotel clerk for Lady Claire's bill, paid it, with my own, and went over to the train, selecting a compartment close to the coupé.

As I passed it I knocked lightly on the window pane, giving a signal previously arranged between us. I do not think that Lord Blackadder saw me then, at the start. But at Bellegarde, the Swiss frontier, where there was a wait of half an hour for the Customs examination, an irritating performance always, but carried out here with the most maddening and overbearing particularity, everyone was obliged to alight from the train, and for the moment I trembled for Lady Claire. But the appeal addressed to the French brigadier, "un galant homme," of an invalid lady, too ill to be disturbed, was effectual, especially when backed by two five-franc pieces. Lord Blackadder was on the platform with the rest, and directly he saw me he came up with the same arrogant air, curiously blended with aggrieved helplessness. I shall appeal to the authorities. It affords protection to all who claim it against such people as you." "If you talk like that I'll give you some reason to seek the protection of the gendarmes or police," I cried, but checked myself at once. I had made up my mind how to deal with him, but the time was not yet. "Your insolence, sir, outsteps all bounds, and you shall answer for it, I tell you." But now the cry was raised "En voiture!

Lord Blackadder hurried to his compartment at the end of the train some way from mine and the coupé. As I passed the latter, seeing the road clear, I gave the signal, and, taking out my railway carriage key, quickly slipped in.

She received me with her rare sweet smile, that was the richest payment a man could ask.

"The critical moment is at hand, Lady Claire," I said, speaking mysteriously. "It is essential that we should have a few last words together. Naturally we must now be guided very much by the way things happen, but so far as possible we must prepare for them. I don't believe Lord Blackadder has any idea you are in the train, and I much doubt that he expects to find Lady Henriette at Culoz.

You think she will really be there?" "I feel sure of it.

It is just what she would do." "Then everything will depend on you. You must be alert and prompt, on the qui vive to seize your opportunity. It will be your business to make your way to her with the dummy the instant the train stops." "I shall have to find her." "That is the first and chief thing on your part. There are very few minutes for the whole job.

Find her, exchange burthens, send her to the train for Aix-les-Bains. It will be waiting there. You hurry back to this coupé, lie low, and, if all goes well, you will be travelling on toward Amberieu before the enemy has the least notion what has occurred." "But one word, please. What will the enemy have been doing at Culoz? Say they catch sight of Henriette as soon as we do?" "I hope and trust they may. I count upon that as part of my programme." "But they will catch her, stop her, deprive her of our dear little Ralph." "Wait, wait.

We shall both be moving about, and the best address I can give will be in London. Telegraph to me there to my club, the Mars and Neptune, Piccadilly. I will send instructions there to have all telegrams opened and retelegraphed to me at once. They shall be kept informed of my whereabouts daily.

There, standing under the shadow of the dwarf plane-trees, but with not the slightest suggestion of concealment, was the exact counterpart of Lady Claire, her twin sister, Lady Henriette Standish, till lately Lady Blackadder. She was staring intently at our train as it ran in, deeply anxious, no doubt, to note the arrival of her sister. "Give me a short start," I said to Lady Claire as I jumped out of the coupé. "You will see why." Even as I spoke I was satisfied that the pursuing party had recognized the object of their journey. They had all alighted and were coming up the platform in great haste to where she stood. Had any doubt remained, it would have been removed by the appearance of a man who ran out from some back part of the station and waved them forward with much gesticulation. Here I interposed, and, rushing forward with all the ardour of a football player entering a scrimmage, I took Lord Blackadder by the throat and shook him.

When that audacious and intemperate English Colonel so far forgot himself as to assault my lord the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder at Culoz Station in the open light of day before us all, I greatly rejoiced; for, although horror-stricken at his ruffianly conduct, I knew that he would get his deserts at last. The French authorities would certainly not tolerate brawling in the precincts of the railway station, and justice must promptly overtake the sole offender. The blackguard Colonel, the cause and origin of the disturbance, would, of course, be at once arrested and removed. The fracas had naturally attracted general attention. A crowd quickly gathered around us, many passengers and a number of idlers, who drop from nowhere, as it might be, all drawn to the spot by overmastering curiosity. Everybody talked at the same time, asking questions, volunteering answers, some laughing shamelessly at my lord's discomfiture, a few expressing indignation, and declaring that such a scandal should not be permitted, and the guilty parties held strictly to account. The gendarmes on duty--a couple of them are always at hand in a French railway station--soon appeared, and, taking in the situation at the first glance, imposed silence peremptorily. "Let some one, one person only, speak and explain." The brigadier, or sergeant, addressed himself to me, no doubt seeing that I had assumed a prominent place in the forefront, and seemed a person of importance. "Monsieur here," I said, pointing to the Colonel, who, in spite of all we could do, still held my lord tight, "was the aggressor, as you can see for yourselves.

Who, then, is the other?" "An abominable vaurien," I answered with great heat. "A rank villain; one who outrages all decency, breaks every law, respects no rank--" "Bus, bus," cried the Colonel, in some language of his own, as he put me aside so roughly that I still feel the pain in my shoulder. I am, as you will perceive, an officer of the English army, and I appeal to you as a comrade, for I see by your decorations, no doubt richly deserved, that you are an ancien militaire. "Such as the wolf and the tiger and the snake expect from their victim." It made me sick to hear him currying favour with the gendarme, and still worse that it was affecting the old trooper, who looked on all as pekins, mere civilians, far inferior to military men. "Protection you shall have, mon Colonel, if you have a right to it, bien entendu," said the sergeant, civilly but cautiously. "I ask it because these people have made a dead set at me. They have tried to hustle me and, I fear, to rob me, and I have been obliged to act in my own defence." Before I could protest against this shameless misrepresentation of the fact, my lord interposed.

He was now free, and, gradually recovering, was burning to avenge the insults put upon him. His attack upon me was altogether unprovoked and unjustifiable." "Let the authorities judge between us," calmly said the Colonel.

"Take us before the station-master, or send for the Commissary from the town. I haven't the slightest objection." "Yes, yes, the Commissaire de police, the judge, the peace officer. Let us go before the highest authorities; nothing less than arrest, imprisonment, the heaviest penalties, will satisfy me," went on my lord.

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

She started for Italy; what turned her back when you followed her, and why did she come this way again?" "She only came because I'd tracked her to Amberieu, and thought to give me the slip," said Tiler. She's not the sort to hide herself easily, with all her belongings, the nurse and the baby and all the rest. But hold on, my lord is speaking." "Find out, one of you," he said briefly, "when the next train goes to Aix. I mean to push this through to the bitter end. You will be careful, sergeant, to bring your prisoner along with you." "Merci bien! I do not want you or any one else to teach me my duty," replied the gendarme, very stiffly. It was clear that his sympathies were all with the other side. "A prisoner, am I?" cried the Colonel, gaily. When is it to be?" "Nine fifty-one; due at Aix at 10.22," Tiler reported, and we proceeded to pass the time, some twenty minutes, each in his own way.

Lord Blackadder paced the platform with feverish footsteps, his rage and disappointment still burning fiercely within him. The Colonel invited the two gendarmes to the buvette, and l'Echelle followed him. I was a little doubtful of that slippery gentleman; although I had bought him, as I thought, the night before, I never felt sure of him. He had joined our party, had travelled with us, and seemed on our side in the recent scuffle, here he was putting himself at the beck and call of his own employer.

Was the money thrown away, and his intention now to go back on his bargain? Meanwhile Tiler and I thought it our pressing duty to utilize these few moments in seeking news of our lady and her party. Oh, yes, many people, officials, and hangers-on about the station had seen her. Too much seen indeed, for the stories told were confusing and conflicting. One facteur assured us he had helped her into the train going Amberieu way, but I thought his description very vague, although Tiler swallowed the statement quite greedily. Another man told me quite a different story; he had seen her, and had not the slightest doubt of it, in the down train, that for Aix-les-Bains, the express via Chambery, Modane, and the Mont Cenis tunnel for Italy.

This was the true version, I felt sure. Why, then, Tiler asked, had she gone to Amberieu, running back as she had done with him at her heels? Why else had she returned to Culoz by the early train directly she thought she had eluded Tiler? The reasoning was correct, but Ludovic was always a desperately obstinate creature, jealous and conceited, tenacious of his opinions, and holding them far superior to those who were cleverer and more intelligent than himself. Then we heard the whistle of the approaching train, and we all collected on the platform. L'Echelle, as he came from the direction of the buvette, was a little in the rear of the Colonel and the gendarmes.

He was grinning all over it and pointing toward the Colonel with his finger, derisively. I was not inclined to trust him very greatly, but he evidently wished us to believe that he thought very little of the Colonel, and that we might count upon his support against him. There were seven of us passengers, more than enough to fill one compartment, so we did not travel together. My lord very liberally provided first-class tickets for the whole of the party, but the Colonel took his own and paid for the gendarmes. He refused to travel in the same carriage with the noble Earl, saying openly and impudently that he preferred the society of honest old soldiers to such a crew as ours. L'Echelle, still sitting on the hedge, as I fancied, got in with the Colonel and his escort. On reaching Aix-les-Bains, we found the omnibus that did the service de la ville, but the Colonel refused to enter it, and declared he would walk; he cared nothing for the degradation of appearing in the public streets as a prisoner marching between a couple of gendarmes. He gloried in it, he said; his desire was clearly to turn the whole thing into ridicule, and the passers-by laughed aloud at this well-dressed gentleman, as he strutted along with his hat cocked, one hand on his hip, the other placed familiarly on the sergeant's arm.

He met some friends, too,--one was a person rather like himself, with the same swaggering high-handed air, who accosted him as we were passing the corner of the square just by the Hôtel d'Aix. Basil my boy!" cried the stranger. Took up by the police?

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

Where shall we come?" "To the town hall, the mairie," replied the Colonel, after a brief reference to his escort. "I've got a particular appointment there with Monsieur le Commissaire, and the Right Honourable the Earl of Blackadder." "Oh! By-by, you'll see me again, and all the chaps I can pick up at the Cercle and the hotels near." Then our procession passed on, the Colonel and gendarmes leading, Tiler and I with l'Echelle close behind. He had driven on ahead in a fiacre and was standing alone at the entrance to the police office, which is situated on the ground floor of the Hôtel de Ville, a pretty old-fashioned building of gray stone just facing the Etablissement Thermale, the home of the far-famed baths from which Aix-les-Bains takes its name. "In here?" asked my lord; and with a brief wave of his hand he would have passed in first, but the officers of the law put him rather rudely aside and claimed precedence for their prisoner. le Commissaire, who was there, seated at a table opposite his greffier, rose and bowed stiffly, inquiring our business, my lord pushed forward into the front and began very warmly, in passable French: "I am an aggrieved person seeking justice on a wrong-doer. No one need claim it in the tone you have assumed." The Commissary was a solemn person, full of the stiff formality exhibited by members of the French magistracy, the juniors especially. He was dressed in discreet black, his clean-shaven, imperturbable face showed over a stiff collar, and he wore the conventional white tie of the French official. It is the duty of the officers of the law now present, and prepared, I presume, to make their report. I have been shamefully ill-used by that man there." He shook his finger at the Colonel.

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

Duels are in contravention of the Code. le Commissaire, and it cannot be tolerated." "I am not responsible to you, sir, and will account for my action à qui de droit, to those who have the right to question me. The case is dismissed.

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

You may rely on us to regain touch with the fugitives without delay. I have a clue, and with your lordship's permission will follow it at once." I saw clearly that he was set upon the absurd notion he had conceived that the lady had gone westward, and I felt it my duty to warn the Earl not to be misled by Tiler. "There is nothing in his clue, my lord. "I will decide what it is worth." Then Tiler propounded his theory. "It might be good enough," I interjected, "if I did not know the exact contrary.

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

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

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

Although the hotels were certain to be crowded at this, the height of the season, the town is not really large, the visitors' lists are well posted with new arrivals, and there are one or two public places where people always turn up at some time or other in the day. The cercle or casino and its succursale the Villa des Fleurs, with their many spacious rooms, reading-room, concert-room, baccarat-room, their restaurants, their beautiful gardens, are thronged at all hours of the day with the smart folk of all nationalities. I stood on the top of the steps waiting for the private omnibus that plies between the hotel and the town below, when I heard my name called from behind, and turning, was confronted by Jules l'Echelle.

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

He's his own master." "Then he's finished with that foolish business about the lady; had enough of it, I suppose; burnt his fingers and done no earthly good." "How do I know?

It will be easy to say there are no rooms. He looks both sides of his money, and pays no fancy prices for a pig in a poke." "Then I'll take my pigs to another market. Suppose I let the Colonel know what you've been at, trying to tamper with me. This hotel wouldn't be big enough to hold him and your patron together." "Well,"--I hesitated, not willing to appear too anxious,--"let's say, just for argument's sake, that you got what you ask, or something near it.

I'm not in a position to promise it, no, not the half of it. Think first of my lord, put his interests before the Colonel's; tell us what the Colonel's doing, his game from day to day, read his letters, and tell us their contents; spy on his actions, watch him at every turn, his comings and his goings; the houses he calls at, the people he meets, every move he makes or has in view?" "If I promise to do all that will you promise not to give me away? You'll keep your own counsel and protect me from the Colonel? If he got a whisper I was selling him I'd lose my place and he'd half kill me into the bargain." "Not a soul shall know but my lord and myself. I must consult him, or you won't get the money." "But there is that other chap, the one who joined us at Culoz, and who was with you at the Commissariat, a new face to me. One of your own party, wasn't he?" "To be sure, Tiler; he's on the job, too, came out when I did from London.

He thinks he knows better than any one else; believes the lady has harked back, and is following her to Amberieu, Maçon, Paris, England perhaps. She was seen in the express for Modane, making for the Mont Cenis tunnel. Of course that's the true direction. She was aiming for Italy from the first; the other sister, the divorced lady, is there; we've always known that.

I'd stick to my opinion against fifty fools like Tiler." "It's a bargain, then; I can count upon the cash? I'd like to begin at once; there's something I would tell you here, and now, that would interest you very much. I won't keep you five minutes." My lord gave his consent a little grudgingly, but was presently persuaded that it was to his own advantage to have a spy in the heart of the enemy's camp. That was soon seen when l'Echelle had pocketed his notes and gave us the news in exchange. "Now that I'm my lord's man I don't mind telling you that the Colonel does not mean to stay long in Aix, not one minute longer than till the call comes." "He expects a call?" "Assuredly.

He'll be off then faster than that," he snapped his fingers, "and you won't find it easy to catch him." "That's good. When I take an employer's pay I serve him faithfully and to the best of my power," he said with an engaging frankness that won me completely. Why should he be more faithful to my lord than to the Colonel? The rest of the first day at Aix passed without any important incident. I was a trifle surprised that the Colonel did not put in an appearance; but it was explained by l'Echelle, whom I met by appointment later in the day. I understood from him that the Colonel had decided to remain down in the town, where he had many friends, and where he was more in the thick of the fun. For Aix-les-Bains, as every one knows, is a lively little place in the season, and the heart and centre of it all is the Casino. The Colonel had established himself in a hotel almost next door, and ran up against me continually that afternoon and evening, as I wandered about now under the trees listening to the band, now at the baccarat table, where I occasionally staked a few jetons of the smaller values. If any one was with him, as was generally the case--smart ladies and men of his own stamp, with all of whom he seemed on very familiar terms--he invariably drew their attention to me, and they, too, laughed aloud after a prolonged stare.

Once he had the effrontery to accost me as I stood facing the green board on which the telegrams are exposed. Ah, of course, my old friend Falfani, the private detective who appeared in the Blackadder case. I don't know you, I don't wish to know you," I replied, with all the dignity I could assume. But several of his rowdy friends closed around me and held me there, compelled to listen to his gibes as he rattled on. None the worse for that little contretemps this morning. If there is anything I can do for his lordship, any information I can give him, he knows, I trust, that he can command me. Does he propose to make a lengthened stay here?" "His lordship--" I tried vainly to interrupt him. "Let me urge him most strongly to go through the course. The warm baths are truly delightful and most efficacious in calming the temper and restoring the nerve-power. He should take the Aix treatment, he should indeed.

I am the only person who can be of any use to you. He can choose his own agents." "And in his own sneaking, underhand way," the Colonel answered quickly, and with such a meaning look that I was half-afraid he suspected that we were tampering with his man. "But two can play at that game, as you may find some day." When I met l'Echelle that same evening as arranged, at the Café Amadeo in the Place Carnot, I questioned him closely as to whether his master had any suspicion of him, but he answered me stoutly it was quite impossible. By the way, have you heard anything of your other man?" "Why should I tell you?" "Oh, don't trouble; only if I could pass him on a bit of news either way it might lead him to show his hand. If Tiler is getting 'hot'--you know the old game--he might like to go after him. If Tiler is thrown out the Colonel will want to give help in the other direction." "That's sound sense, I admit. Of all the born idiots!" "Poor devil! The more I saw of l'Echelle the more I liked him. Nothing fresh occurred that night or the next day.

I was rather struck by a change in his demeanour. Half a dozen times to-day he's asked me to inquire if there's a telegram for him, and he haunts the hall porter's box continually in the hope of getting one. Have you heard any more from Tiler?" "Yes, another mad telegram, this time from Marseilles. The folly of it!" "What does my lord say?" "Plenty, and it's not pleasant to bear. He wants to go racing after Tiler now, and if he does he'll give away the whole show. But cheer up, copain, things may mend." They did, as often happens when they seem to be at their worst.

I have always been an early riser, and was specially so at Aix, now when the heat was intense, and the pleasantest hours of the day were before the sun had risen high. I was putting the finishing touches to my toilette about 7 A.M. There is not a moment to lose. I've a fiacre at the door below." He gave the établissement as the address, and we were soon tearing down the hill. As we drove along l'Echelle told me the news. He simply jumped for joy when he read it." "But what was the message? But I mean to see it pretty soon, and so shall you." "You mean to abstract it somehow--pick his pocket, or what?" "Simplest thing in the world. You see he's gone to have his bath, he likes to be early, and he's undergoing the douche at this very moment, which means naturally that he's taken off his clothes, and they are waiting in the dressing-room for me to take home.

I shall have a good quarter of an hour and more to spare before they carry him back to the hotel in his blankets and get him to bed." "Ha!" I said, "that's a brilliant idea. How do you mean to work it out?" "Take the telegram out of his waistcoat pocket, read it, or bring it to you." "Bring it; that will be best," I interrupted, feeling a tinge of suspicion. "But I must put it straight back," continued l'Echelle, "for he is sure to ask for it directly he returns to the hotel." Within a few minutes he had gone in and out again, carrying now one of the black linen bags used by valets de chambres to carry their masters' clothes in. He winked at me as he passed, and we walked together to a shady, retired spot in the little square where the cab-stand is, and sat in the newspaper kiosk on a couple of straw-bottomed chairs of the Central café. "Read that," he said triumphantly, as he handed me the familiar scrap of blue paper.

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

I could not know for certain whether or not the exchange had actually been effected, and I did not dare inquire about the station, for it might betray facts and endanger results. Lady Claire would almost certainly telegraph to me via London at the very earliest opportunity, and I was careful to wire from Culoz to the hall porter of my club, begging him to send on everything without a moment's delay. Then, while still in the dark, I set myself like a prudent general to discover what the enemy was doing. He was here in Aix in the persons of Lord Blackadder and his two devoted henchmen, Falfani and Tiler. I had heard the appointment he had given them at the Hôtel Hautecombe, and I cast about me to consider how I might gain some inkling of their intentions. Luckily I had desired l'Echelle, the sleeping-car conductor, to stick to me on leaving the police office, and I put it to him whether or not he was willing to enter my service. It is likely that I may wander about the Continent for some time, and it may suit you to come with me." He seemed pleased at the idea, and we quickly agreed as to terms. Find out what the other side is at, and contrive somehow to become acquainted with Lord Blackadder's plans." "How far may I go?" he asked me plump. "They are pretty sure to try and win me over, they've done so already. Shall I accept their bid?

It would be the easiest way to know all you want." "It's devilish underhand," I protested. "You'll be paying them back in their own coin," he returned. "A corsaire fieffé corsaire et demi. It will be to my advantage, and you won't lose." "Upon my soul, I don't quite like it." I still hung back, but his arguments seemed so plausible that they overcame my scruples, and I was not sorry for it in the long run.

[The reader has already been told how Falfani craftily approached l'Echelle, and found him, as he thought, an easy prey. We know how the communication was kept up between the two camps, how Falfani was fooled into believing that he kept close watch over Colonel Annesley through l'Echelle, how the latter told his real master the true news of the progress made by Tiler. When there could be little doubt that the chase was growing warm and had gone as far as Lyons, the Colonel felt that there was danger and that he must take more active steps to divert the pursuit and mislead the pursuers. The Colonel shall continue in his own words.] I was much disturbed when I learnt that Tiler had wired from Lyons. The next message would disclose the whereabouts of the Lady Claire, at that time the only lady, as they thought, in the case, and the lady with the real child.

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

It was easy enough to arrange for the despatch of a telegram from Milan to me at Aix, a despatch to be handed in at the former place by a friend of l'Echelle's, but purporting to come from Lady Claire. My man had any number of acquaintances in the railway service, one or more passed daily through Aix with the express trains going east or west; and with the payment of a substantial douceur the trick was done. The spurious message reached me in Aix early on the third morning, and the second act in the fraud was that l'Echelle should allow Falfani to see the telegram. He carried out the deception with consummate skill, pretending to pick my pocket of the telegram, which he then put under Falfani's eyes. The third act was to be my immediate exit from Aix. I made no secret of this, very much the reverse. Notice was given at the hotel bureau to prepare my bill, and insert my name on the list of departures by the afternoon express, the 1.41 P.M. And suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, came a complete change in the situation.

Not long after I had consumed my morning café au lait and rolls, the conventional petit déjeuner of French custom, a letter was brought to my bedside, where, again according to rule, I was resting after my bath.

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

When at last I opened it my eye went first to the signature. To my utter amazement I read the name, "Henriette Standish." It was dated from the Hôtel de Modena, Aix-les-Bains, a small private hotel quite in the suburbs in the direction of the Grand Port, and it ran as follows: "DEAR COLONEL ANNESLEY:--I have only just seen in the Gazette des Etrangers that you are staying in Aix. I thought of remaining here a few days longer, but I have also read Lord Blackadder's name in the list. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting you, your extreme kindness to Claire emboldens me to make this appeal to you. I shall be at home all the morning. Indeed, I have hardly left the house yet, and certainly shall not do so now that I know he is here. Was there ever such a broken reed of a woman? Already she had spoilt her sister's nice combinations by turning back from Amberieu when the road to safety with her darling child lay open to her. Now for the second time she was putting our plans in jeopardy. How could I hope to lure her pursuers away to a distance when she was here actually on the spot, and might be run into at any moment?

For the present all my movements were in abeyance. I had reason to fear--how much reason I did not even then realize--they would be interfered with, and that a terrible collapse threatened us. I dressed hurriedly and walked down to the Hôtel Modena, where I was instantly received.

Blair" had given orders that I should be admitted the moment I appeared. I had had one glimpse of this tall, graceful creature, who so exactly reproduced the beautiful traits of her twin sister that she might indeed at a distance be taken for her double.

There was the same proud carriage of her head, the same lithe figure, even her musical voice when she greeted me with shy cordiality might have been the voice of Lady Claire. But the moment I looked into her face I saw a very distinct difference, not in outward feature, but in the inward character that is revealed by the eyes, the lines of the mouth, the shape of the lower jaw. In Lady Claire the first were steady and spoke of high courage, of firm, fixed purpose; the mouth, as perfectly curved as Cupid's bow, was resolute and determined, the well-shaped, rounded chin was held erect, and might easily become defiant, even aggressive. Lady Henriette was evidently cast in another mould. Her eyes, of the same violet blue, were pretty, pleading, soft in expression, but often downcast and deprecating; the mouth and chin were weak and irresolute. It was the same lovely face as Lady Claire's, and to some might seem the sweeter, indicating the tender, clinging, yielding nature that commonly appeals to the stronger sex; but to me she lost in every respect by comparison with her more energetic, self-reliant sister. I heard the explanation, such as it was, without the smallest surprise; it was very much what I expected now when I was permitted to know and appreciate her better. "But the moment I found I had to part with my child my courage broke down.

I am not brave, you know, like my dearest Claire, or strong-minded, and I quite collapsed." "But I hope and trust you have made the exchange. Lady Claire has little Lord Aspdale and has left you the dummy? Tell me, I beg." "Oh, yes, yes, we made the exchange," she replied, in such a faltering, undecided voice that I doubted, and yet could not bring myself to believe that she was not telling the truth. It would be a very serious matter if--if--" "The contrary was the case," I wanted to say, yet how could I? "But what will happen now?" she said, her voice faltering, her eyes filling, and seemingly on the very verge of hysterics.

"What if Blackadder should find that I am here, and--and--" "He can do nothing to you unless he has a right to act, unless," I answered unhesitatingly and a little cruelly perhaps, regardless of the scared look in her face, "you have good reason to dread his interference. Where is little Lord Aspdale?" "In there!" she pointed to an inner room, and burst into uncontrollable tears. To say that I was aghast at the discovery of Lady Blackadder, or, as she preferred to call herself, Lady Henriette Standish, in Aix, and with the precious child, would but imperfectly express my feelings. For the moment I was so utterly taken aback that I could decide upon no new plan of action. I sat there helplessly staring at the poor creature, so full of grief and remorse that I was quite unable to rise to the occasion. The most essential thing was to get Lord Blackadder away from Aix. So long as he remained he was an ever present danger; our game was up directly he awoke to the true state of affairs. He could appeal now to the police with better result than when claiming my condign punishment. Clearly I must go, and that not alone, but take them with me, following me under the positive impression that I was leading them straight to their goal. Not one hint, not the slightest suspicion must be permitted to reach them that their quarry was here, just under their feet.

When I had gone on with the others at my heels, the coast would be clear for Lady Henriette, and she must double back once more and go into safe hiding somewhere, while the hunt overshot its quarry and rolled on. But the idea of parting from me now that she had laid hold of me was so repugnant to her that she yielded once more to her nerves. I'll do what you like, disguise myself, go third class, anything; but for goodness' sake don't desert me, or I don't know what will happen." "There is simply no help for it, Lady Henriette.

It is imperative that you should remain here at least for a day or two while the others clear out of your way. It would be quite fatal if they saw you or you came across them." "Oh, you're too cruel, it is perfectly inhuman. I think I am the most wretched and ill-used woman alive." These lamentations and indirect reproaches rather hardened my heart. The woman was so unreasonable, so little mindful of what was being done for her, that I lost my patience, and said very stiffly: "Lady Henriette, let us quite understand one another.

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

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

She still held herself erect and defiant, and there seemed to be small hope of doing anything with her. Then suddenly I saw symptoms of giving way. Signals of distress were hung out in her quivering lip and the nervous twitching of her hands. The situation was awkward, embarrassing. At another time I might have been puzzled how to deal with it, but this was a moment of supreme emergency. A great crisis was imminent, the ruin of our scheme and the downfall of our hopes were certainly at hand if I gave way to her. Everything depended upon my action, and I knew that the only chance of safety lay in the execution of my design.

I counted, at any rate, and with some assurance, on the approval of Lady Claire if the details of this painful scene should ever come to her ears.

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

Have everything packed, please, and the bill paid. I returned to my hotel vexed and irritated beyond measure by my passage at arms with Lady Henriette Standish, and hating the prospect of any further dealings with her. Matters would have been very different had her strong-minded sister been on the spot to use her influence and help us with her counsel. What a contrast between the two women! I was more and more drawn to the one, and more and more heartily despised the other. With my mind full of the beautiful creature who had made me a willing captive to her charms, her gracious presence was recalled to me by a message from under her own hand. As I passed the threshold of my hotel, the hall porter gave me a telegram from Lady Claire. It had come via London, but the office of origin was Marseilles. "One of them turned up this morning--have no fear--exchange not effected--shall remain here for the present--Hotel Terminus. She told me just exactly all that it was essential to know: of the pursuit, of the absence of pressing danger, of the abortive attempt to exchange babies, and where she was to be found.

It was now barely 10 A.M., and the time intervening before the departure of the eastward bound express (three and a half hours) was none too much to carry out my intentions as to Lady Henriette. I first of all ordered a covered landau to be harnessed as speedily as possible, and to be sent to await me in a side street near the Hôtel Modena; then I summoned l'Echelle and bade him make all ready for the journey. I also told him that I should be busily engaged that forenoon; but that as I might be obliged to run it very close for the train, he was to make all preparations, to take the tickets, and await me on the platform. I had debated anxiously with myself how far I should betray the presence of Lady Henriette in Aix to l'Echelle, and decided that, although I had no particular reason to doubt him, I felt that it would be more prudent to keep the fact to myself. For the same reason I kept him busily engaged in my bedroom packing, lest he should spy upon my movements. There was still the fear that Falfani might be on the watch, but I had been assured by l'Echelle that the Blackadder party were so satisfied by the news he gave them that they left the business of shadowing almost entirely to him.

I was pretty sure that I reached the Hôtel Modena unobserved. I came upon the carriage by the way, and as I passed briefly desired the driver to follow me to the Hôtel Modena. Arriving there, I sent up my name, and followed it, a little unceremoniously, to Lady Henriette's sitting-room. She was there, dressed in hat and jacket, and so far disposed to comply with my wishes. Her maid, Victorine, was with her, the baby on her knee. Her baggage, happily light enough, was there, packed and all ready for a start. But if I thought that Lady Henriette meant to yield without another skirmish I was sadly mistaken. "The carriage is at the door," I said as pleasantly as possible. "Very much the reverse indeed. The more I think over it the more outrageous and preposterous your behaviour seems.

I must have a plain categorical answer or I will not move an inch." Her dogged, determined air was belied by her dress and the obvious preparations already made for departure. Her present attitude I set down to the vacillation of her character. She might make up her mind one moment and one way, and yet be quite prepared to change it the next. "You are fully entitled to know where you are going, and I have not the smallest desire to keep it from you," I replied, still speaking in a smooth, courteous voice. "I propose that you should take up your residence for a time--the very shortest time possible--at Le Bourget, a small place at the head of the lake.

You may know it; there is a snug little hotel in the village, the Dent du Chat. I dislike the whole idea exceedingly. Why should I be buried alive in such an out-of-the-way spot?" "It will be no worse than Fuentellato, a place you chose for yourself." "I have a house of my own there--my own servants. It is perfectly safe." "Not now, believe me, they will come upon you there; trace you easily and quickly, and they are capable of any violence to capture and deprive you of your treasure." I pointed to the child on the maid's knee. "I shall be more at their mercy here in Aix." "Be guided by me.

All will be well if you will only keep out of the way now for a few hours, perhaps at most a couple of days. If they do not find you at once they will never find you. Only let me have a short start ahead and I'll lead them a pretty dance, and take them further and further away. You may rely on it, and I assure you they will never be able to find you or do you any harm." "I wish I could believe you," she said. "If I could only believe in you and trust you as Claire does," she murmured pathetically, still tortured by doubt. If she were only here, or I knew where to find her!" I was on the point of imparting my last news, but I checked myself. Lady Henriette had seen her last, and must be well aware of the direction she was taking to Lyons and Marseilles. She would be mad to join her, and it was my most earnest wish that, for the present at least, Lady Henriette should keep quiet in the background with her charge. We had words--" "Ah!" I had heard enough to know that there had been a strong difference of opinion, a sharp quarrel probably, and that Lady Claire had not spared her sister at this fresh exhibition of ridiculous weakness.

"May I ask, please, whether you were to believe in me or not?" I resumed, taking up the discussion where I had left it. I will go, but under protest." She led the way herself and entered the carriage first, motioning to Victorine to hand her the baby and take her seat inside. But I also got in without invitation, only explaining that it might not be wise to show myself on the box.

The coachman had his orders, and he drove off briskly along the Marlioz road till he reached the turning towards the head of the lake. In less than an hour we pulled up before the Hôtel Dent du Chat, a simple, unpretending hostelry, to which I had telegraphed in advance, stating my needs. We were received with profuse civility, the best of everything placed at our disposal, a best at which Lady Henriette, as I might have expected, turned up her nose, sniffing and scornful. She uttered no complaint, she would not address a word to me; her air was one of lofty, contemptuous reserve; she intimated plainly that we were "dead cuts." Only at the last, just as I was driving away and lifted my hat in farewell, she yielded to an impulse of despair, and seized my arm in almost frenzied appeal. I can never face this place alone." Her last appeal touched me to the quick. Once more I sought to explain the dire necessity for this act that seemed so barbarous, but she was deaf to all my arguments, and still clung to me nervously as I climbed into the carriage. When at length I got away, and I persisted in leaving, being so fully satisfied it was for the best, her piteous, reproachful accents still rung in my ears, and I shall count that return drive to Aix as the most miserable hour I have passed in my life. The whole episode had occupied much time, and it was already past one when I reëntered the town. I drove straight to the railway station, and was met outside it by the faithful l'Echelle. They have gone half an hour ago, and not by the eastern but the western express." "You saw them?" "I spoke to them.

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

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

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

Let me take little Ralph;" and I put out my arms for the child, which Victorine held. But the mother stood between us, seized the baby convulsively, and with a gesture of repulsion cried: "Go away, go away, you shall not have him. I don't care what happens, I will keep him against all the world." I pleaded and stormed in turn, I tried everything but force, all without avail. My foolish sister seemed to have taken leave of her senses; she thought nothing of the nearly certain collapse of our schemes, her one overmastering idea was, like any tigress, to resist all attempts to deprive her of her cub. Meanwhile the time ran on. Already the officials were crying "En voiture," and I knew my train was timed to leave at five minutes past 8 A.M. If I lingered I should lose it, no great matter perhaps, seeing that the exchange, my principal object, had not been made; but if I remained with Henriette, she with her baby and I with mine, the whole of the artifice might at any moment be laid bare.

I had to decide then and there, and all I could think of at the time was to keep the enemy in the dark as to the doubled part of the baby. That was clearly the wisest course, and I should have taken it, but I was sorely vexed and put out by her obstinate refusal to play her part; and I told her so. "Once more and for the last time, Henriette, will you do what I want?" I asked her peremptorily. She only hugged her baby the closer and whispered a soft lullaby. "Then I shall go on with the other. They may still be drawn after me, and leave you to your own devices. The only thing for you to do is to take the first train the other way,--it will be here in ten minutes,--keep low and you may get through into Italy unobserved." "Are you really deserting me?" she cried piteously. "When shall I see you again?" "I shall go round the long journey to Marseilles, by the South of France, and will join you at Fuentellato. There is no reason why you should not get there. Colonel Annesley will detain the others here, you may be sure of that.

Good-bye, now," and without another word Philpotts and I ran round, regained the up platform, resumed our seats by the narrowest margin and proceeded on our way to Amberieu. The reaction from this agitating scene was little less than despair and collapse.

Hardly, she had not the nerve, I had almost said the wit, to escape alone from the toils and snares that encompassed her.

I blamed myself, I became a prey to the bitterest self-reproach for having abandoned her, for allowing myself to give way to temper, and treat her so cruelly. As the train rattled on, one thought took possession of me. I must get out and go back instantly, at least at the very first opportunity. I must retrace my steps and return again to Culoz, where I hoped to be in time to support and strengthen her, please God save her from the consequences of my unkind and ill-considered action. Accordingly, at the very next station, Virieu, I alighted. In less than an hour I was in the return train and once more at Culoz, where, sending Philpotts to hide with her charge in the inmost recesses of the ladies' waiting-room, I vainly explored the station for any signs of Henriette, but to my delight she was nowhere in sight. The place was still in a turmoil, the consequences no doubt of the affray expressly begun by Colonel Annesley to befriend me. I narrowly escaped being seen by some of my enemies, but they were evidently too much preoccupied by their indignation at the outrage put upon that great personage, Lord Blackadder.

I passed within an inch or two of my gallant Colonel and was sorely tempted to speak to him, but was deterred by the possible mischief it might entail. I was relieved when they all took seats in the eastward bound train, going only as far as Aix-les-Bains, where, as I heard it stated by the Culoz officials, the case was to be submitted to the Commissary of Police. Although not fully satisfied as to Henriette, I was so far satisfied by coming upon all the parties, Ralph, Blackadder, and the rest, at Culoz, that she had disappeared from the scene without interference.

I debated with myself whether I should not follow my sister to Fuentellato, to which I made sure she had gone, and I had every reason to hope that I could eventually join her there. But it seemed to be throwing away that same chance of mystification which I had always kept in view, which might have served me so well but for her weakness, and I still clung to my hope of drawing them after me on the wrong scent.

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

The man Tiler, the second detective, the man whom I had already befooled more than once, was there now on the platform, waiting like myself to embark upon the 5.19 train south to Marseilles. Ludovic Tiler he was busily engaged in conversation with one of the guards and a couple of porters. From his gestures, no doubt, he was describing our party, and I was half-inclined to walk up to him and say "Behold!" But then I drew back hesitating. I did not fear him in the least, but he would be sure to draw the others to him, and I did not quite like the idea of having three of them on my hands at once, and with no Colonel on my side. I could only communicate with Colonel Annesley by a roundabout process, and it might take him some time to reach me, even if he was not otherwise engaged by Henriette. This Tiler man would of course stick to me and follow me if he had the faintest clue, and I let him have that by directing Philpotts to show herself, passing quite close to him and walking on towards the train.

She was to return then to the waiting-room, where together we made some change in our appearance. There were other cloaks in the bundle of rugs, which we put on over those we were wearing. More than all, we made away with the dummy child, broke up the parcel, resolved it into its component parts, a small pillow and many wraps, all of which we put away in the same convenient receptacle. Tiler certainly did not recognize us as we walked separately to the train.

He had his suspicions, however, for as soon as we started he walked through the long line of couloir carriages, deliberately peering and prying, examining the passengers of every compartment. He passed us at first, and was much put out, I could see, disappointed no doubt, but he came back presently and stood for some time at our window, while I hid my face in among the rugs, and Philpotts cowered in a corner. He came back more than once during the journey and stared. He was evidently in great doubt, so much so that I began to fear he would sheer off altogether. That we were the women he wanted was probably borne in on him, but what had become of the baby?

I could enter into the workings of his mind on that point.

Hidden it, left it somewhere on the road in the lost property office or at a foundling hospital? All sorts of suggestions probably presented themselves to him, but none would satisfy him; for why, he would reason, were we travelling to Marseilles or anywhere else without it? To tie him still to our heels, I took the opportunity of having the compartment to ourselves to revive and reconstitute the dummy.

The baby was quickly reborn behind the drawn blinds of the carriage, and when at last we arrived at Marseilles at 10.30 P.M. we sallied forth and marched in solemn procession to the Terminus Hotel under the very eyes of our watchful detective. I almost laughed in his face as we entered the lift near the outer door, and were carried up to our rooms upon the second floor. I slept late, and when I woke, refreshed and fortified against anything that might come, I looked out on to the little square with its fringe of plane-trees, and saw my friend Mr. He had the hotel under observation that was clear, and it was little I should be able to do that day unknown to him. It did not worry me in the least, for in the early hours of calm reflection that followed deep, restful sleep, I had thought out the course I should pursue. I no longer dreaded pursuit; let them all come, the more the merrier, and I meant to fully justify Mr. Tiler in calling them to him.

I dressed slowly, lingered leisurely over my luncheon-déjeuner, and then ordered a carriage, a comfortable landau and pair. I meant to lead my follower a fine dance, starting with the innocent intention of giving myself and my belongings an airing. It was a brilliant day, the Southern sun struck with semi-tropical fervour, the air was soft and sleepy in the oppressive heat. I brought out the baby undeterred, and installed it, slumbering peacefully, on Philpotts's knees in the seat before me, and lying back with ostentatious indifference, drove off in full view of the detective.

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

This was the plan I had been revolving in my mind, and which took me to the tourist offices. The object I had in view was to get a list of steamers leaving the port of Marseilles within the next two or three days, and their destination. As everybody knows, there is a constant moving of shipping East, West, and South, and it ought not to be difficult to pick out something to suit me.

The obliging clerk at the counter gave me abundant, almost unending, information.

"To the East? Why, surely, there are several opportunities. The P. has half a dozen steamers for the East, pointing first for Port Said and Suez Canal, and bound to India, Ceylon, China, and the Antipodes; the same line for Gibraltar and the West. The Messagéries Maritime, for all Mediterranean ports, the General Navigation of Italy for Genoa and Naples, the Transatlantique for various Algerian ports, Tunis, Bône, Philippeville, and Algiers, other companies serving the coast of Morocco and especially Tangier." Truly an embarrassing choice! I took a note of all that suited, and promised to return after I had made a round of the shipping offices,--another jaunt for Tiler, and a pretty plain indication of what was in my mind. That it was somewhat out of the way, neither easy to reach nor to leave, as the steamers came and went rarely, served my purpose well. If I could only inveigle my tormentors into the trap, they might be caught there longer than they liked.

Accordingly, I secured a good cabin on board the S.S. Oasis of the Transatlantique, leaving Marseilles for Tripoli at 8 A.M. the following Sunday, and paid the necessary deposit on the passage ticket. It was a satisfaction to me to see my "shadow's" fiacre draw up at the door soon after I left, and Mr. Ludovic Tiler enter the office. I made no doubt he would contrive, very cleverly as he thought, to find out exactly what I had been doing with regard to the Oasis. Later in the day, out of mere curiosity, I walked down to the offices to ask a trivial question about my baggage. It was easy to turn the talk to other matters connected with the voyage and my fellow passengers.

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

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

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

The plan I had conceived and hoped to work out was to send Lord Blackadder to sea, all the way to Tripoli, with Philpotts and the sham child. We drove down, Philpotts and I, to the wharf where the steamers of the Transatlantique Company lie. The Oasis had her blue peter flying, and a long gangway stretched from her side to the shore, up and down which a crowd passed ceaselessly, passengers embarking, porters with luggage, and dock hands with freight. At the top of the slope was the chief steward and his men, in full dress, white shirts, white ties, and white gloves, who welcomed us, asking the number of our stateroom, and offering to relieve us of our light baggage. One put out his arms to take the baby from Philpotts, but she shook her head vigorously, and I cried in French that it was too precious.

Next moment a voice I recognized said: "Certainly they are there, and they have it with them. "No violence, if you please, or you may make the acquaintance of another police commissary." I had heard the whole story of the affair at Aix from the Colonel, who I may say at once I had seen shortly before, and who was at no great distance now. I mean to have the child, understand that; but we ought to be able to arrange this between us. Let me pass; I cannot stay here, it would poison me to breathe the same air. Down-stairs I found Philpotts in the cabin, busily engaged in putting her "doll" to bed in the third berth. "Are you at all afraid of being left with these wretches?" I asked a little doubtfully, counting upon her devotion, but loth to lay too great a burden on her. What can they do to me? They will be furiously angry, of course, but the laugh will be against them.

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

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

She was very humble and apologetic, and disarmed me if I had intended to take her to task for all the trouble and anxiety she had caused us. I have been scolded quite enough these last twenty-four hours. I never met a man I disliked so much as your fine friend, that Colonel Annesley, the rudest, most presuming, overbearing wretch. He talked to me and ordered me about as if I was still in the schoolroom, he actually dared to find fault with my actions, and dictated to me what I should do next. He'll tame you, and lord it over you, he'll be a hard, a cruel master, for all he thinks so much of you now." "And does he?" What sweeter music in a woman's ear than to be told of the sway she exercises over the man of her choice? "Why, of course, he thinks all the world of you. You know of your latest conquest, I suppose?" "There are things one does not care to discuss, my dear, even with one's sister," I answered, rather coldly. You are free to choose, I was not," and her eyes filled with tears at the sad shipwreck of her married life.

But how can I keep him after that wicked decision of the Court, and with such a persistent enemy as Ralph Blackadder? For the moment we are safe, but by and by he will come back, he will leave no stone unturned until he finds me, and I shall lose my darling for ever." The hopelessness of evading pursuit for any time sorely oppressed me, too. There seemed no safety but in keeping continually on the move, in running to and fro and changing our hiding place so soon as danger of discovery loomed near. Yet, after a pleasant déjeuner, the three of us held a council of war.

"The thing is perfectly simple," said my dear Colonel, in his peremptory, but to me reassuring fashion. You must go as quickly as you can get there, to Tangier." "Tangier!" I cried, amazed. It is the only refuge left for criminals--forgive me, I mean no offence," and he laughed heartily as he went on. "You have broken the law, you are flying from the law, and you are amenable to it all the world over, save and except in Morocco alone. You must go to Tangier, there is no extradition, the King's warrant does not run there.

You will be perfectly safe if you elect to stay there, safe for the rest of your days." "You seem very anxious to get rid of us and bury us at the back of beyond," I said, nettled and unable to conceal my chagrin at the matter-of-fact way in which he wished to dispose of us. "I venture to hope I may be permitted to accompany you, and remain with you--" It was now Henriette's turn to laugh outright at this rather blunt proposal, and I regret to add that I blushed a rosy red. "To remain with you and near you so long as my services may be required," he went on, gravely, by no means the interpretation my sister had put upon his remark; for he fixed his eyes on me with unmistakable meaning, and held them so fixedly that I could not look away. There could no longer be any doubt how "it stood with us;" my heart went out to him then and there, and I nodded involuntarily, more in answer to his own thoughts than his suggestion. I knew from the gladness on his frank, handsome face that he understood and rejoiced.

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

After the trying and eventful episodes of the past week I had passed into a tranquil haven filled with perfect peace. The whole tenor of my life had changed, the feverish excitement was gone, no deep anxiety vexed or troubled me, all my cares were transferred to stronger shoulders than mine. I could calmly await the issue, content to enjoy the moment and forget the past like a bad dream. It was sufficient to bask in the sunshine, revelling in the free air, rejoicing in the sweetness of my nascent love. We were much together, Basil and I; we walked together, exploring the recesses of the native town, and the ancient citadel, with its memories of British dominion; we lingered in the Soko or native market, crowded with wild creatures from the far interior; we rode together, for his first care was to secure horses, and scoured the country as far as the Marshan and Cape Spartel.

But even she brightened as the days ran on and brought no fresh disquiet, while her boy, sweet little Ralph, developed in health and strength. A week passed thus, a week of unbroken quiet, flawless as the unchanging blue of a summer sky; not a cloud in sight, not a suspicion of coming disturbance and unrest. To imagine it was to fall asleep in a fool's paradise, lulled into false serenity by the absence of portents so often shrouded and unseen until they break upon us. They had recrossed the Mediterranean together in the same ship, the Oasis. "So far all well," she said, "but am watched closely, will certainly follow me--send instructions--better not join you at present." This message fell on us two poor women like a bolt from the blue. Basil looked serious for a moment, but then laughed scornfully.

There is not the slightest fear.

He may bluster and bully as much as he pleases, or rather, as far as he is permitted to go. We will place ourselves under the protection of the Moorish bashaw. At the same time he can give you no protection.

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

Then came confirmations of our worst fears. L'Echelle, who had been unaccountably absent one morning, returned about midday with news from the port.

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

My lord had gone to the Legation, Falfani told him at once, bombastically boasting that everything would yield before him. He had but to express his wishes, and there would be an end of the hunt. But my lord came back in a furious rage, and, regardless of l'Echelle's--a comparative stranger's--presence, burst forth into passionate complaint against the Minister. He would teach Sir Arthur to show proper respect to a peer of the realm; he would cable at once to the Foreign Office and insist on this second-rate diplomatist's recall.

The upshot of it all was that his lordship's demand for help had been refused pointblank, and no doubt, after what the Colonel had heard, in rather abrupt, outspoken terms. All this and more l'Echelle brought back to us at the Atlas Hotel. He told us at length of the outrageous language Lord Blackadder had used, of his horrible threats, how he would leave no stone unturned to recover his son and heir; how he would bribe the bashaw, buy the Moorish officials, a notoriously venal crew; how he would dog our footsteps everywhere, set traps for us, fall upon us unawares; and in the last extreme he would attack the hotel and forcibly carry off his property. As the fitting end of his violent declamation, Ralph Blackadder had left the hotel hurriedly, calling upon his creatures to follow him, bent, as it seemed, to perpetrate some mad act. I confess I shuddered at the thought of this reckless, unprincipled man loose about Tangier, vowing vengeance, and resolved to go to any lengths to secure it. But even he quailed at the sudden shock that fell upon us at the very same moment.

After the first excitement, we desired to pass on the news brought by l'Echelle to her, and renew our entreaties for extreme caution in her comings and goings; and with much misgiving we learnt that she was not in the hotel. It had been l'Echelle's turn to accompany her, but he had been diverted from his duty by the pressing necessity of following Lord Blackadder. We dismissed our fears, hoping they were groundless, and looking to be quite reassured presently when she came back at the luncheon hour. Could she have fallen a victim to the machinations of Lord Blackadder? Was the boy captured and she detained while he was spirited away?

We doubted the more when the man turned up in person at the Atlas Hotel and had the effrontery to ask for her. Basil went out to him in the outer hall, and, as I listened from within, I immediately heard high words. It was like a spark applied to tinder; a fierce quarrel blazed up instantly between them. I come to demand the restoration of that which belongs to me. It is the most impudent pretence; you know perfectly well he is not here." "I will not bandy words with you.

Go in, you men, both of you, Tiler and Falfani, and seize the child. I could not possibly hold aloof, but called for help from the hotel people, and, with them at my back, rushed out to add my protest against this intemperate conduct. The three assailants, Ralph Blackadder behind egging them on, had thrown themselves upon Basil, who stood sturdily at bay with his back to the wall, daring them to come on, and prepared to strike out at the first man who touched him. But even as he spoke his voice weakened, he halted abruptly; his hands went up into the air, his body swayed to and fro, his strength left him completely, and he fell to the ground in sudden and complete collapse. When they picked him up, there was froth mixed with blood upon his lips, he breathed once or twice heavily, stertorously, and then with one long-drawn gasp died in the arms of his two men. It was an apoplectic seizure, the doctors told us later, brought on by excessive nervous irritation of the brain. Here was a sudden and unexpected dénouement, a terribly dramatic end to our troubles if we could but clear up the horrible uncertainty remaining. While the servants of the hotel attended to the stricken man, Basil Annesley plied the detectives with eager questions.

He urged them to tell all they knew; it should be made worth their while; they no longer owed allegiance to their late employer. He entreated them to withhold nothing.

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

Tell me, please, all about it." "You must know we went out, the three of us, on our donkeys, and the fancy seized me to explore some of the dark, narrow streets where the houses all but join overhead. I could not even see the sky, and at last desired Achmet to get me out into the open, anywhere. After one or two sharp turns, we emerged upon a sort of plateau or terrace high above the sea, and in full view of it. "There was a small hotel in front of it, and above the door was the name of the proprietor, would you believe it, Domenico Bruel! "It was the name of Susan's husband, and no doubt Susan was there. I thought of sending Achmet back for you or the Colonel, but I could not bear parting with him.

Then, while I was still hesitating, Susan herself came out and rushed across to where I was, with her hands outstretched and fairly beside herself, laughing and crying by turns. It is you, then? He insisted they offered us such a large sum, enough to make us rich for life, and so we consented to come away here. Can you forgive me?' "All this she poured forth, and much more of the same sort. Besides, I began to hope already that, how we had found her, we might get the case reopened, and that wicked order reversed.

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

/

I tell you plainly, I can’t find it in my heart to distress you, after what you have had to bear already.How you have escaped them I can’t imagine,” says the eminent traveller, lighting his cheroot again, and staring hard at Mr. I can’t guess what she heard in his voice.” She suddenly looked away from me, and rested her head wearily on the top of her crutch. I tell you plainly, I can’t find it in my heart to distress you, after what you have had to bear already. /

He beats me, no doubt; I despise him, I hate him, and yet I----” She poured out part of a glass of brandy, and swallowed it; then, with a gesture of rage, she added: “I can’t give him up!I did as he requested, and he poured eight or ten drops of the contents of the vial into a glass of water, and swallowed it.” So intense was Dr. He emptied his glass and followed them with very bad grace, muttering and swearing between his set teeth. Fortunat drew out his handkerchief, and, pausing in front of the looking-glass, wiped the perspiration from his brow, and arranged his disordered hair. She brought him the only unbroken chair in the establishment, and insisted that he should partake of some refreshment--a glass of wine at the very least. But you know how it is--one is never content with one’s lot, and then the heart is weak----” She had not succeeded in finding the sweet wine which she proposed to her guest; so in its place she substituted a mixture of ratafia and brandy in two large glasses which she placed upon the counter. However, I gave up my situation, and even purchased a substitute for him, in order that I might have him all to myself.” She had gradually warmed with her theme, as she described her confidence and blind credulity, and then, with a tragic gesture, as if she desired to drive away these cruel memories, she suddenly seized her glass and emptied it at a draught. He beats me, no doubt; I despise him, I hate him, and yet I----” She poured out part of a glass of brandy, and swallowed it; then, with a gesture of rage, she added: “I can’t give him up!

“Wait just a moment longer, monsieur,” she pleaded; “my husband will soon be back, and the last omnibus doesn’t leave the Rue de Levis until midnight.” “I wouldn’t refuse, but this part of the suburbs is so lonely.” “Vantrasson will see you on your way.” And, resolved to detain him at any cost, she poured out a fresh glass of liquor for him, and said: “Where were we? I came across a couple of men who were just taking their fifteenth glass; why should I refuse a compliment?” “You can’t hold yourself up.” “That’s true.” And to prove it he tumbled on to a chair. “Yes.” “Then, tell me, if you please, what prevents this marriage from being a foregone conclusion?” “Mademoiselle Marguerite’s consent, Monsieur le Marquis.” It was as if a glass of ice-water had been thrown in M. Had he caught a glimpse of his own face in the looking-glass, it would have frightened him. Champagne was flowing freely; and he drank four or five glasses in quick succession. The upper part of this portal was of glass; it was possible to see what was occurring in the adjoining room. Jodon lacked the courage to return to his sumptuous rooms, and it was in a little cafe that he thus reflected upon the situation, while drinking some execrable beer brewed in Paris out of a glass manufactured in Bavaria. Casimir, who brought her a glass of Madeira and some biscuits. “I’m in advance; and as that is the case, give me a glass of absinthe and a newspaper.” He was obeyed with far more alacrity than his deceased master had ever required him to show, and he forthwith plunged into the report of the doings at the Bourse, with the eagerness of a man who has an all-sufficient reason for his anxiety in a drawer at home. Having emptied one glass of absinthe, he was about to order a second, when he felt a tap on the shoulder, and on turning round he beheld M.

Casimir had not finished his twelfth, washed down by a glass of chablis, before he declared that he could see no impropriety in confiding certain things to a friend. Casimir, draining his glass. Casimir laid it on the table, and poured out a glassful of brandy, which he drained at a single draught. Pour us out another glass of wine; it will make you all right again.” M. And in drawing back the arm he had extended to chink glasses with his guest, he caused the letter to fall on his knees. Let him come in, and bring us another glass. Fortunat entered the office of the hotel, a woman, with a crafty looking face, was holding a conference with an elderly gentleman, who had a black velvet skullcap on his head, and a magnifying glass in his hand. They applied their eyes to the glass in turn, and were engaged in examining some very handsome diamonds, which had no doubt been offered in lieu of money by some noble but impecunious foreigner. “The person I wished to see was here on Friday, between three and six in the afternoon; and she was waiting for a visitor with an anxiety which could not possibly have escaped your notice.” This detail quickened the memory of the man with the magnifying glass--none other than the woman’s husband and landlord of the hotel. Fortunat hastened, and ordered a glass of currant syrup.

Fortunat drained his glass, and threw fifty centimes on the counter. Only one window--that of the room where the dead man was lying--was lighted up, and he could vaguely distinguish the motionless form of a woman standing with her forehead pressed against the pane of glass.

However, this evening he indulged in the extravagance of a glass of wine, deciding in his own mind that he had fairly earned it. But, first of all let us take a glass of beer to finish our cigars. “I wonder if this is their everyday life?” He, too, was thirsty after his hastily eaten dinner; and necessity prevailing over economy, he seated himself at a table outside the cafe, and called for a glass of beer, in which he moistened his parched lips with a sigh of intense satisfaction. He sipped the beverage slowly, in order to make it last the longer, but this did not prevent his glass from becoming dry long before M. It was nearly two o’clock in the morning now; the boulevard was silent and deserted, and yet this restaurant was brilliantly lighted from top to bottom, and snatches of song and shouts of laughter, with the clatter of knives and forks and the clink of glasses, could be heard through the half opened windows. A glass of champagne and a cigar for the fellow who’ll bring it me in room No. “Wait and receive your promised reward.” And thereupon he rang the bell, crying at the top of his voice: “Henry, you sleepy-head--a clean glass and some more of the widow Cliquot’s champagne!” Several bottles were standing upon the table, only half empty, and one of M. He rose abruptly, took up a bottle, and filling the nearest glass, he rudely exclaimed: “Come, drink that--make haste--and clear out!” Victor Chupin must have become very sensitive since his conversion. In former times he was not wont to be so susceptible as to lose his temper when some one chanced to address him in a rather peremptory manner, or to offer him wine out of the first available glass. I have already arranged with a party to prosecute my claims; the agreement will be signed on the day after to-morrow.” “With whom?” “Ah, excuse me; that’s my affair.” He had finished his chocolate, and he now poured out a glass of ice-water, drank it, wiped his mouth, and rose from the table.

Quick, bring me my cane, my gloves, and my glasses. She was standing in front of the window with her burning forehead resting against the glass. /

They repeated the facts, arranging them to suit their purpose, and alluding to me in a thousand infamous innuendoes.The neighbors might use the brass plate on the door as a mirror to shave in; the stone floor is polished till it shines; and the woodwork of the staircase is varnished to perfection. In the entrance-hall a number of notices, written in the peculiar style which owners of houses affect, request the tenants to respect the property of others, without regard to the high price they pay for their share. “Clean your feet, if you please,” they say to all who come in or go out. The first story was occupied by the families of two independent gentlemen, whose simplicity of mind was only equalled by that of their mode of life. A collector, who occasionally acted as broker, lived in the second story, and had his offices there. The third story was rented to a very rich man, a baron as people said, who only appeared there at long intervals, preferring, according to his own account, to live on his estates near Saintonge. The whole fourth story was occupied by a man familiarly known as Papa Ravinet, although he was barely fifty years old. He dealt in second-hand merchandise, furniture, curiosities, and toilet articles; and his rooms were filled to overflowing with a medley collection of things which he was in the habit of buying at auctions. The fifth story, finally, was cut up in numerous small rooms and closets, which were occupied by poor families or clerks, who, almost without exception, disappeared early in the morning, and returned only as late as possible at night.

An addition to the house in the rear had its own staircase, and was probably in the hands of still humbler tenants; but then it is so difficult to rent out small lodgings! However this may have been, the house had a bad reputation; and the lodgers had to bear the consequences. No one, however, stood, rightly or wrongly, in as bad repute as the doorkeeper, or concierge, who lived in a little hole near the great double entrance-door, and watched over the safety of the whole house. Master Chevassat and his wife were severely “cut” by their colleagues of adjoining houses; and the most atrocious stories were told of both husband and wife. Master Chevassat was reputed to be well off; but the story went that he lent out money, and did not hesitate to charge a hundred per cent a month. He acted, besides, it was said, as agent for two of his tenants,--the broker, and the dealer in second-hand goods, and undertook the executions, when poor debtors were unable to pay. Chevassat, however, had even graver charges to bear. Honore, but had been compelled to leave there on account of several ugly occurrences.

They were, finally, reported to have a son called Justin, a handsome fellow, thirty-five years old, who lived in the best society, and whom they nearly worshipped; while he was ashamed of them, and despised them, although he came often at night to ask them for money. Towards the end of last December, however, on a Saturday afternoon, towards five o’clock, husband and wife were just sitting down to dinner, when the dealer in old clothes, Papa Ravinet, rushed like a tempest into their room. It was in the fifth story. I went down again, thinking I had been mistaken; and at once I heard again a sighing, a sobbing--I can’t tell you exactly what; but it sounded exactly like the last sigh of a person in agony, and at the point of death.” “And then?” “Then I ran down to tell you, and ask you to come up. “She went out just now, and told me she would not be back till nine o’clock.

But never mind; we must see what it is.” During this conversation, the door of the room had been open; and several of the lodgers, hearing the voice of the merchant and the exclamations of the woman as they crossed the hall, had stopped and listened. Master Chevassat dared no longer oppose the general desire so peremptorily expressed,-- “Let us go then, since you will have it so,” he sighed. And, taking up his lamp, he began to ascend the stairs, followed by the merchant, his wife, and five or six other persons. The steps of all these people were heard all over the house; and from story to story the lodgers opened their doors to see what was going on. And, when they heard that something was likely to happen, they almost all left their rooms, and followed the others. So that Master Chevassat had nearly a dozen curious persons behind him, when he stopped on the fifth floor to take breath. The door to Miss Henrietta’s room was the first on the left in the passage. Ravinet had knelt down, and tried to open the door a little, putting now his eye, and now his ear, to the keyhole and to the slight opening between the door and the frame. “It is all over; we are too late!” And, as the neighbors expressed some doubts, he cried furiously,-- “Have you no noses? Don’t you smell that abominable charcoal?” Everybody tried to perceive the odor; and soon all agreed that he was right.

The people shuddered; and a woman’s voice exclaimed,-- “She has killed herself!” As it happens strangely enough, but too frequently, in such cases, all hesitated. “Now there is, perhaps, a chance yet to save the poor girl; and, when you come back, it will of course be too late.” “What’s to be done, then?” “Break in the door.” “I dare not.” “Well, I will.” The kind-hearted man put his shoulder to the worm-eaten door, and in a moment the lock gave way. No one doubted any longer that the poor girl was lying in there dead; and each one tried his best to see where she was. Nothing could be seen but the reddish glow of the charcoal, which was slowly going out under a little heap of white ashes in two small stoves. No one ventured to enter. But Papa Ravinet had not gone so far to stop now, and remain in the passage.

“On the right there.” “Very well; I’ll open it.” And boldly the strange man plunged into the dark room; and almost instantly the noise of breaking glass was heard. “To die so young!” they said over and over again, “and to die thus.” In the meantime the merchant had gone up to the bed, and examined the poor girl. Come, ladies, come here and help the poor child, till the doctor comes.” And then, with strange self-possession, he told them what to do for the purpose of recalling her to life. “Give her air,” he said, “plenty of air; try to get some air into her lungs. Too proud to complain, and cut off from society by bashfulness, the poor girl who was lying there had evidently gone through all the stages of suffering which the shipwrecked mariner endures, who floats, resting on a stray spar in the great ocean. He took it up. Chevassat will carry the two letters which I enclose to their addresses. A sudden light seemed to brighten up the small yellowish eye of the dealer in old clothes; a wicked smile played on his lips; and he uttered a very peculiar, “Ah!” But all this passed away in a moment. His brow grew as dark as ever; and he looked around anxiously and suspiciously to see if anybody had caught the impression produced upon him by the letters. Thereupon he slipped the paper and the two letters into the vast pocket of his huge frock-coat with a dexterity and a rapidity which would have excited the envy of an accomplished pickpocket.

The matter was soon to be decided, however. A slight color returned to her pallid cheeks; her bosom rose painfully, and sank again; her teeth, closely shut, opened; and with parted lips she stretched forth her neck as if to draw in the fresh air instinctively. One of the women, the wife of the gentleman in the first story, held the head of the girl on her arm, and the poor child looked around with that blank, unmeaning eye which we see in mad-houses. They spoke to her; but she did not answer; evidently she did not hear.

“Never mind!” said the merchant, “she is saved; and, when the doctor comes, he will have little else to do. But she must be attended to, the poor child, and we cannot leave her here alone.” The bystanders knew very well what that meant; and yet hardly any one ventured timidly to assent, and say, “Oh, of course!” This reluctance did not deter the good man. “We must put her to bed,” he went on; “and, of course, she must have a mattress, bedclothes and blankets. We want wood also (for it is terribly cold here), and sugar for her tea, and a candle.” He did not mention all that was needed, but nearly so, and a great deal too much for the people who stood by.

Never in her life had she been so much astonished. They told stories of him that would have made Harpagon envious, and touched the heart of a constable. This troubled the two ladies not a little, although they felt very much relieved, and disposed to do everything, now that they were no longer expected to open their purses. “However, the doctor will bleed her, if there is any necessity.” And, turning to Master Chevassat, he added,-- “But we are in the way of these ladies; suppose we go down and take something?

We can come back when the child is comfortably put to bed.” The good man lived, to tell the truth, in the same rooms in which the thousand and one things he was continually buying were piled up in vast heaps. Just now he occupied a little closet not more than three-quarters full; and here he asked the concierge to enter. He poured some brandy into two small wineglasses, put a teakettle on the fire, and sank into an arm-chair; then he said,-- “Well, M. Chevassat, what a terrible thing this is!” His visitor had been well drilled by his wife, and said neither yes nor no; but the old merchant was a man of experience, and knew how to loosen his tongue. “The most disagreeable thing about it,” he said with an absent air, “is, that the doctor will report the matter to the police, and there will be an investigation.” Master Chevassat nearly dropped his glass. Well, good-by, then, to our lodgers; we are lost.

Why did that stupid girl want to die, I wonder!

But you go too fast. They will simply ask you who that girl is, how she supports herself, and where she lived before she came here.” “That is exactly what I cannot tell.” The dealer in old clothes seemed to be amazed; he frowned and said,-- “Halloo! that is as clear as sunlight,” he replied; “and, if you wish it, I’ll tell you the story; you will see there is no harm done.” “Well, let us hear.” “Well, then, it was about a year ago this very day, when a gentleman came in, well dressed, an eyeglass stuck in his eye, impudent like a hangman’s assistant, in fact a thoroughly fashionable young man. He said he had seen the notice that there was a room for rent up stairs, and wanted to see it. Of course I told him it was a wretched garret, unfit for people like him; but he insisted, and I took him up.” “To the room in which Miss Henrietta is now staying?” “Exactly. He looked out of the window, tried the door if it would shut, examined the partition-wall, and at last he said, ‘This suits me; I take the room.’ And thereupon he hands me a twenty-franc piece to make it a bargain. Ravinet felt any interest in the story, he took pains not to show it; for his eyes wandered to and fro as if his thoughts were elsewhere, and he was heartily tired of the tedious account. But he recovered promptly, so promptly, that his visitor saw nothing; and then he said in a tone of indifference,-- “The young man did not give you his family name?” “No.” “But ought you not to have inquired?” “Ah, there is the trouble! I did not do it.” Gradually, and by a great effort, Master Chevassat began to master his embarrassment. It looked as if he were preparing himself for the assault, and to get ready for the police-officer.

My room belonged to M. I asked him politely where he lived, and if there was any furniture to come. ‘Do I look,’ he said, ‘like a man who lives in a place like this?’ And when he saw I was puzzled, he went on to tell me that he took the room for a young person from the country, in whom he took an interest, and that the contract and the receipts for rent must all be made out in the name of Miss Henrietta. Still it was my duty to know who Miss Henrietta was; so I asked him civilly. But he got angry, and told me that was none of my business, and that some furniture would be sent presently.” He stopped, waiting for his host to express his approbation by a word or a sign; but, as nothing came, he went on,-- “In fine, I did not dare to insist, and all was done as he wanted it done. She had not much baggage, I tell you; she brought every thing she owned in a little carpet-bag in her hand.” The old merchant was stooping over the fire as if his whole attention was given to the teakettle, in which the water was beginning to boil.

“It seems to me, my good friend,” he said, “that you did not act very wisely. Still, if that is really all, I don’t think they are likely to trouble you.” “What else could there be?” “How do I know? “I have told you the whole truth,” he declared. “Still, you may be sure they will ask you how it could happen that one of your tenants should fall into such a state of abject poverty without your giving notice to anybody.” “Why, in the first place, I do not wait upon my lodgers.

They are free to do what they choose in their rooms.” “Quite right, Master Chevassat! Maxime no longer came to see Miss Henrietta?” “He still came to see her.” In the most natural manner in the world, Papa Ravinet raised his arms to heaven, and exclaimed as if horror-struck,-- “What! He began to see what the old merchant meant by his questions, and how unsatisfactory his answers were. you ask too many questions,” he said at last.

“It was not my duty to watch over M. As for Miss Henrietta, as soon as she is able to move, the serpent!

I tell you I’ll send her off pretty quickly!” The old merchant shook his head, and said in his softest voice,-- “My dear sir, you won’t do that, because from today I’ll pay the rent for her room. And, more than that, if you wish to oblige me, you will be very kind to the poor girl, you hear, and even respectful, if you please.” There was no misunderstanding the meaning of the word “oblige,” from the manner in which he pronounced it; and yet he was about to enforce the recommendation, when a fretting voice exclaimed on the stairs,-- “Chevassat! And, delighted to get away, he said to Papa Ravinet-- “I understand; she shall be treated as politely as if she were the daughter of the owner of the house. But excuse me, I must attend to the door; they call me, and I must go down stairs.” He slipped out without waiting for an answer, and utterly unable to guess why the old merchant should take such a sudden interest in the lodger on the fifth floor.

“The rascal!” said Papa Ravinet to himself,--“the rascal!” But he had found out what he wanted to know. He was alone, and he knew he had no time to lose. Quickly he drew the teakettle from the fire; and, pulling out Miss Henrietta’s two letters, he held the one that was addressed to M. And now the old man read the following words:-- “You are victorious, M. I shall carry the secret of your infamy and your cowardice into the grave with me.

“I can pardon you, having but a few moments longer to live; but God will not pardon you.

And, if it should require a miracle, that miracle will be done, so as to inform that honorable man who thought you were his friend, how and why the poor girl died whom he had intrusted to your honor. “The honor of Maxime de Brevan!” he growled with a voice of intense hatred,--“the honor of Maxime de Brevan!” But his terrible excitement did not keep him from manipulating the other letter, addressed to Count Ville-Handry, in the same manner. The operation was successful; and, without the slightest hesitation, he read:-- “Dear father,--Broken down with anxiety, and faint from exhaustion, I have waited till this morning for an answer to my humble letter, which I had written to you on my knees. “You have never replied to it; you are inexorable. “I must appear very guilty in your eyes, father, that you should abandon me thus to the hatred of Sarah Brandon and her people. I have struggled hard before I could make up my mind to leave your house,--the house where my mother had died, where I had been so happy, and so tenderly beloved as a child by both of you. “And yet it was so little I asked of you!--barely enough to bury my undeserved disgrace in a convent. And to think that for a whole year I have lived under the same roof with her, without knowing it. He was suffering intensely; and his pain, his wrath, and his hope of vengeance long delayed, gave to his features a strange expression of energy and nobility.

With his elbows on the table, holding his head in his hands, and looking apparently into the far past, he seemed to call up the miseries of the past, and to trace out in the future the vague outlines of some great scheme. And as his thoughts began to overflow, so to say, he broke out in a strange, spasmodic monologue,-- “Yes,” he murmured, “yes, I recognize you, Sarah Brandon! And that Daniel, who intrusted her to the care of Maxime de Brevan--who is he? Why did she not write to him when she suffered thus? And how can I ever hope to make her confide in me?” An old clock struck seven, and the merchant was suddenly recalled to the present; he trembled in all his limbs. “I was falling asleep; and that is what I cannot afford to do. I may risk it.” And, thus re-assured, he rapidly mounted up to the fifth story; but there Mrs. “Well, my dear sir,” she said with her sweetest manner: “so you have become Miss Henrietta’s banker?” “Yes; do you object to it?” “Oh, not at all! It is none of my business, only”-- She stopped, smiling wickedly, and then added,-- “Only she is a prodigiously pretty girl; and I was just saying to myself, ‘Upon my word, M. Ravinet’s taste is not bad.’” The merchant was on the point of giving her a pretty sharp, indignant reply; but he controlled himself, because he knew how important it was to mislead the woman; and, forcing himself to smile, he said,-- “You know I count upon your being discreet.” When he got up, he found that he ought, at least, to give credit to Mamma Chevassat and the two ladies from the first floor, for having employed their time well, and for having skilfully made use of the articles he had contributed.

On the bureau stood a lamp with a shade to prevent the light from hurting the patient’s eyes; a bright fire blazed on the hearth; several old curtains had been hung before the window, one before the other, to replace for the time the missing panes; and on the table stood a teakettle, a china cup, and two small medicine-bottles.

Evidently the doctor had been here during Ravinet’s absence. But life and consciousness had also brought back to her a sense of the horror of her position, and of her capacity for suffering. Her brow resting on her arm, which was almost concealed by masses of golden hair, immovable, and her eyes fixed steadily upon infinite space, as if trying to pierce the darkness of the future, she would have looked like a statue of sorrow rather than of resignation, but for the big tears which were slowly dropping down her cheeks. But it occurred to him at once that he might be looked upon as a spy, and that his feelings would be sure to be misinterpreted. He coughed, therefore, to give warning, and then stepped in. These kind ladies have told me all. You have saved my life.” Then, shaking her head, she added,-- “You have rendered me a sad service, sir.” She uttered these words so simply, but in a tone of such harrowing grief, that Papa Ravinet was overcome. You are suffering now; but you can hardly imagine what compensation Providence may have in store for you hereafter”-- She interrupted him by a gesture, and said,-- “There was no future for me, sir, when I sought refuge in death.” “But”-- “Oh, don’t try to convince me, sir! What I did, I had to do.

I felt how life was leaving me, and I only wished to shorten the agony.

Even to get the charcoal, I had to risk a falsehood, and cheat the woman who let me have it in credit. But how did I know how to get work? Chevassat a hundred times to obtain employment for me; but she always laughed at me; and, when I begged hard, she said”-- She stopped; and her face became crimson with shame. He guessed only too readily what kind of advice she had given this poor girl of twenty, who had turned to her for help in her great suffering. I can understand your purpose but too well. Do you think I would leave you, after having been just in time to save your life? No, my dear child, compose yourself; poverty shall not come near you again, I’ll see to that. You want somebody to advise you, to defend you; and here I am; if you have enemies, let them beware! Making a supreme effort, she looked fixedly at the old man to see if she could read in his face what were his real thoughts. He, on his part, was seriously troubled by his failure to inspire her with confidence.

She shook her head; and uttering her words one by one, as if to give them greater weight, she said,-- “I beg your pardon, sir. But I cannot understand why you should offer me your kind protection.” Papa Ravinet affected a greater surprise than he really felt, and said, raising his hands to heaven,-- “Great God!

she mistrusts my good will.” “Sir!” “Pray what can you have to fear from me?

I come to help you.

Is not that perfectly natural, and quite simple?” She said nothing; and he remained a few moments buried in thought, as if trying to find out her motive for refusing his help. That woman Chevassat has talked to you about me, no doubt. Come, let us be frank; what has she told you?” He hoped she would say a word at least. Then he broke forth, with a vehemence scarcely controlled, and in words very unexpected from a man like him,-- “Well, I will tell you what the old thief has told you.

She told you Papa Ravinet was a dangerous, ill-reputed man, who carried on in the dark all kind of suspicious trades. She told you the old scamp was a usurer, who knew no law, and kept no promise; whose only principle was profit; who dealt in every thing with everybody, selling to-day old iron in junk-shops, and to-morrow cashmere shawls to fashionable ladies; and who lent money on imaginary securities--the talent of men and the beauty of women. In fine, she told you that it was a piece of good-fortune for a woman to be under my protection, and you knew it was a disgrace.” He stopped, as if to give the poor girl time to form her judgment, and then went on more calmly,-- “Let us suppose there is such a Papa Ravinet as she has described. But there is another one, whom but few people know, who has been sorely tried by misfortune; and he is the one who now offers his aid to you.” There is no surer way to make people believe in any virtue we have, or wish to appear to have, than to accuse ourselves of bad qualities, or even vices, which we do not have. Henrietta remained as icy as ever, and said,-- “Believe me, sir, I am exceedingly obliged to you for all you have done for me, and for your effort to convince me.” The poor man looked disappointed.

“In fact, you reject my offers, because I do not explain them to you by any of the usual motives. Suppose I should say to you that I have a daughter who has secretly left me, so that I do not know what has become of her, and that her memory makes me anxious to serve you. May I not have said to myself, that perhaps she is struggling, just as you have done, with poverty; that she also has been abandoned by her lover?” The poor girl turned deadly pale as he spoke thus, and interrupted him eagerly, raising herself on her pillows,-- “You are mistaken, sir. and how were you reduced to such extreme suffering?” At last Papa Ravinet had touched the right chord. The time seemed to him to have come to strike a decisive blow. “I have tried my best to win your confidence, I confess; but it was solely in your own interest. To all appearances, the envelopes had not been touched. Henrietta glanced at them, and then, holding out her hand to the old man, she said,-- “I thank you, sir!” He did not stir; but he felt that this false evidence of honesty had helped him more than all his eloquence.

He hastily added,-- “After all, I could not resist the temptation to read the directions, and to draw my own conclusions.

No doubt he is the young man who called to see you so often. If you but knew how a little experience of the world often helps us to overcome the greatest difficulties!” He was evidently deeply moved.

“However, wait till you are perfectly well again before you come to any decision. You need not tell me any thing else but what is absolutely necessary for me to know in order to advise you.” “Yes, indeed!

In that way I may”-- “Well, I’ll wait, why, as long as you want me to wait,--two days, ten days.” “Very well.” “Only, I pray you, promise me solemnly that you will give up all idea of suicide.” “I promise you solemnly I will.” Papa Ravinet’s eyes shone with delight; and he exclaimed joyously,-- “Done!

I’ll come up again to-morrow; for, to tell the truth, I am tired to death, and must go and lie down.” But he told a fib; for he did not go back to his rooms. He remained there a long time, exposed to wind and rain, uttering now and then a low oath, and stamping with his feet to keep himself warm. At last, just as it struck eleven, a hack stopped at No. to see if the charcoal had done its work.” But the same moment the young man came out again, and jumped into the carriage, which quickly drove off. You have lost your game, and you’ll have to try your luck elsewhere; and this time I am on hand. I hold you fast; and, instead of one bill to pay, there will be two now.” II. Generally it is in novels only that unknown people suddenly take it into their heads to tell their whole private history, and to confide to their neighbors even their most important and most jealously-guarded secrets.

Long after the old merchant had left Henrietta, she lay pondering, and undecided as to what she should do on the next day. Was he really what he appeared to be?

Although wholly inexperienced, she still had been struck by certain astounding changes in Papa Ravinet. At the same time his language, usually careless and incorrect, and full of slang terms belonging to his trade, became pure and almost elegant. Does not Paris alone offer to all wretched and guilty people a hiding-place, where they can begin a new life, lost and unknown in the vast multitude? But, even if this were so, it would not have satisfactorily explained to Henrietta the eagerness of Papa Ravinet to serve her, nor his perseverance in offering her his advice.

Was he anxious to make a return for some kindness shown to him? “Would it not be the height of imprudence to put myself in the power of this man?” thought the poor girl. If, on the other hand, she rejected his offers, she fell back into that state of forlorn wretchedness, from which she had only been able to save herself by suicide. This view was all the more urgent, as the poor child, like all persons who have been rescued from death only after having exhausted their sufferings, now began to cling to life with an almost desperate affection. “O Daniel!” she said to herself, trembling all over,--“O Daniel! my only friend upon earth, what would you suffer if you knew that you lost me forever by the very means you chose to secure my safety!” To refuse the assistance offered her by Papa Ravinet would have required an amount of energy which she did not possess. The voice of reflection continually said to her,-- “The old man is your only hope.” It never occurred to her to conceal the truth from Papa Ravinet, or to deceive him by a fictitious story. She only thought how she could tell him the truth without telling him all; how she could confess enough to enable him to serve her, and yet not to betray a secret which she held more dear than her happiness, her reputation, and life itself. The good people near Rosiers and Saint Mathurin were fond of pointing out to strangers the massive towers of Ville-Handry, a magnificent castle half hid among noble old woods on the beautiful slopes of the bluffs which line the Loire. “There,” they said, “lives a true gentleman, a little too proud, perhaps, but, nevertheless, a true gentleman.” For contrary to the usual state of things in the country, where envy is apt to engender hatred, the count was quite popular, in spite of his title and his large fortune.

He was at that time about forty years old, quite tall and good-looking, solemn and courteous, obliging, although reserved, and very good-natured as long as no one spoke in his presence of the church or the reigning family, the nobility or the clergy, of his hounds or the wines of his vineyards, or of various other subjects on which he had what he chose to consider his “own opinions.” As he spoke but rarely, and said little at the time, he said fewer foolish things than most people, and thus obtained the reputation of being clever and well-informed, of which he was very proud and very careful. As soon as the season opened, he was sure to be found, on foot or on horseback, crossing the stubblefields, jumping over hedges, or floundering in the swamps. This he carried so far, that the ladies of the neighborhood, who had daughters, blamed him to his face for his imprudence, and scolded him for risking his precious health so recklessly. And yet he had not lacked opportunities to remedy the evil. He had only to appear at a ball in the provincial towns, and he was the hero. Why was he so much opposed to marriage?

But there are malicious tongues everywhere. The next year, however, an event occurred which was calculated to give some ground to these idle, gossiping tales. Six weeks later, a report began to spread that Count Ville-Handry was going to be married. Her husband, they added, had been made a baron after the fashion of others, who dubbed themselves such during the first empire, and had no right to call himself noble. Moreover, she had, up to this time, been looked upon as a sensible, modest girl, very bright and very sweet withal; in fact, possessed of every quality and virtue that can make life happy, and add to the fame of a great house. Everybody was amazed; and a perfect storm of indignation arose in the neighborhood. People would have been less astonished, if they had known, that, for years, a great intimacy had existed between the mother of the bride and the housekeeper at the castle. But, on the other hand, this fact might have led to very different surmises still. However that might be, the count was not suffered long to remain in doubt as to the entire change of opinion in the neighborhood. He saw it as soon as he paid the usual visits in the town of Angers, and at the houses of the nobility near him.

The doors that formerly seemed to fly open at his mere approach now turned but slowly on their hinges; some remained even closed, the owners being reported not at home, although the count knew perfectly well that they were in.

One very noble and very pious old lady, who gave the keynote to society, had said in the most decided manner,-- “For my part, I shall never receive at my house a damsel who used to give music-lessons to my nieces, even if she had caught and entrapped a Bourbon!” The charge was true. Pauline, in order to provide her mother with some of the comforts which are almost indispensable to old people, had given lessons on the piano in the neighborhood. When people met her, they looked away, so as not to have to bow to her. Even when she was leaning on the count’s arm, there were persons who spoke very kindly to him, and did not say a word to his wife, as if they had not seen her, or she had not existed at all. This impertinence went so far, that at last Count Ville-Handry, one day, almost beside himself with anger, seized one of his neighbors by the collar of his coat, shook him violently, and shouted out to him,-- “Do you see the countess, my wife, sir?

How shall I chastise you to cure you of your near-sightedness?” Foreseeing a duel, the impertinent man made his excuses; and his experience put the rest of them on their guard. But their opinions remained unchanged; open war only changed into secret opposition, that was all. Fate, however, always more kind than man, held a reward in store for Count Ville-Handry, which amply repaid him for his heroism in marrying a poor girl. This immensely wealthy man, who had never assisted his sister in her troubles, and who would have disinherited the daughter of a soldier of fortune, had been flattered by the idea of writing in his last will the name of his niece, the “high and mighty Countess Ville-Handry.” This unexpected piece of good-fortune ought to have delighted the young wife. A voice within her warned her that she ought never to have yielded to the entreaties and the orders of her mother.

An excellent daughter, as she was to become the best of mothers, and the most faithful of wives, she had sacrificed herself. Long before giving herself to the count, she had, of her own free will, given her heart to another. She had bestowed her first and warmest affections upon a young man who was only two or three years older than she,--Peter Champcey, the son of one of those marvellously rich farmers who live in the valley of the Loire. It could not be expected that those keen, thrifty peasants, Champcey’s father and mother, would ever permit one of their sons--they had two--to commit the folly of making a love-match. The oldest, Peter, was to be a lawyer; the other, Daniel, who wanted to become a sailor, was studying day and night to prepare for his examination.

They told everybody who would listen, that, in return for the costly education they were giving them, they expected them to marry large fortunes. Peter knew his parents so well, that he never mentioned Pauline to them. “When I am of age,” he said to himself, “it will be a different matter.” Alas! When he had heard that she was going to marry the count, he had written to her a letter full of despair, in which he overwhelmed her with irony and contempt. Later, whether he had forgotten her or not, he also had married; and the two lovers who had once hoped to pursue their way through life leaning one upon the other now went each their own way. Like a brave, loyal woman, she renewed her oath, and swore to devote herself entirely to her husband. He had rescued her from abject poverty, and bestowed upon her his fortune and his name; and she owed it to him in return to make him happy. She needed all her courage, all her energy, to fulfil her vows; for the count’s character lay fully open before her now, after two years of married life. She had long since found out that the brilliant man of the world, whom everybody considered so clever, was in reality an absolute nullity, incapable of any thought that was not suggested to him by others, and at the same time full of overweening self-esteem, and absurdly obstinate.

An ordinary woman would have shrunk from the difficult task which Pauline had assumed, and would have thought that nothing more could be expected of her than to keep sacred her marriage-vows. Full of resignation, she meant to do more than her duty. From that moment she roused herself from the languor to which she had given way for nearly two years, and set to work to study the count with that amazing sagacity which a high stake is apt to give. The day before she died, when she knew she was going, she made me promise her to marry you.” This Nancy was the count’s former housekeeper. She understood how, modestly keeping in the background, and sheltering herself under the very humility of her position, she had been in truth the intellect, the energy, and the strong will, of her master. Although cruelly humiliated by this confession of her husband’s, the countess had sufficient self-control not to blame him for his weakness.

She said to herself,-- “Well, be it so. For his happiness and for our peace, I will stoop to play the part Nancy played.” This was more easily said than done; for the count was not the man to be led openly, nor was he willing to listen to good advice, simply because it was good. Irritable, jealous, and despotic, like all weak men, he dreaded nothing so much as what he called an insult to his authority. He meant to be master everywhere, in every thing, and forever. He was so sensitive on this point, that his wife had only to show the shadow of a purpose of her own, and he went instantly to work to oppose and prohibit it. He did not know that those who turn to the opposite side of the wind, nevertheless turn, as well as those who go with the wind. After working for many months patiently and cautiously, she thought she had learnt the secret of managing him, and that henceforth she would be able to control his will whenever she was in earnest. The opportunity to make the experiment came very soon.

Although the great people of the neighborhood had generally come round and treated her quite fairly now, especially since she had become an heiress, the countess found her position unpleasant, and was anxious to leave the country. It recalled to her, besides, too many painful memories. He hated large cities; and the mere idea of leaving his castle, where every thing was arranged to suit his habits, made him seriously angry. People would not believe it, therefore, when report first arose that he was going to leave Ville-Handry, that he had bought a town-house in Paris and that he would shortly go there to establish himself permanently in the capital.

“She would not agree to it at all; but I am not a weather-cock. I insisted on having my way, and she yielded at last.” So that in the latter part of October, in 1851, the Count and the Countess Ville-Handry moved into the magnificent house in Varennes Street, a princely mansion, which, however, did not cost them more than a third of its actual value, as they happened to buy at a time when real estate was very low. But it had been comparatively child’s play to bring the count to Paris; the real difficulty was to keep him there. Nothing was more likely than that, deprived of the active exercise and the fresh air he enjoyed in the country, he should miss his many occupations and duties, and either succumb to weariness, or seek refuge in dissipation. Thus he came to Paris with the secret desire and the hope of becoming a leader in politics, and making his mark in some great affair of state. The countess however, aware of the dangers which beset a man who ventures upon such slippery ground, determined first to examine the condition of things so as to be able to warn him in time. Fortunately her fortune and her name were of great service to her in this enterprise.

She managed to assemble at her house all the celebrities of the day. People exerted themselves to the utmost to obtain an invitation to her state dinners, or her smaller parties on Sundays. But she was all the time listening, and trying, with all her mental powers, to understand the great questions of the day. She studied characters; watched the passions of some, and discovered the cunning tricks of others, ever anxious to find out what enemies she would have to fear, and what allies to conciliate. Like one of those ill-taught professors who study in the morning what they mean to teach in the afternoon, she prepared herself for the lessons which she soon meant to give. Fortunately her apprenticeship was short, thanks to her superior intellect, her womanly cleverness, and rare talents which no one suspected. His friends encouraged him to become the leader of his party; and he worked day and night to achieve that end.

“Unfortunately I have to pay for it at home,” he said to his intimate friends; “for my wife is one of those timid women who cannot understand that men are made for the excitement of public life. I should be still in the province, if I had listened to her.” She enjoyed her work in quiet delight. The greater the success of her husband in the world, the prouder she became of her own usefulness to him. Her feelings were very much those of a dramatic poet who hears the applause given to the characters which he has created.

She wanted Henrietta, as little as the world, to know what she was to her husband; and she taught her not only to love him as her father, but to respect and admire him as a man of eminence. Of course, the count was the very last man to suspect any thing. He might have been told all, and he would have believed nothing. In the full sincerity of his heart, he believed he had composed and written out the speeches which she drew up for him; and the articles for the newspapers, and the letters, which she dictated, appeared to him all to have sprung from his own fertile brains. He was even sometimes surprised at the want of good sense in his wife, and pointed out to her, quite ironically, that the steps from which she tried hardest to dissuade him were the most successful he took. But no irony could turn the countess from the path which she had traced out for herself; nor did she ever allow a word or even a smile to escape her, that might have betrayed her secret. The count had been so exceedingly good as to take her when she was penniless; she owed him the historic name she bore and a large fortune; but, in return, she had given him, and without his being aware of it, a position of some eminence.

Now she was no longer under obligations to him. “Yes,” she said to herself, “we are quits, fairly quits!” Now also, she reproached herself no longer for the long hours during which her thoughts, escaping from the control of her will, had turned to the man of her early choice. And after eight years of wretched, intolerable married life, Peter Champcey had shot himself, unable to bear any longer his domestic misfortunes, and the infidelity of his wife. He had gone to Rosiers, the house formerly occupied by Pauline’s mother; and there, in a narrow lane, his body was found by some peasants coming home from market. He could not understand, he said, how a man in good position, with a bright future before him, and a large income to support him, could thus kill himself. “And to choose such a strange place for his suicide!” he added.

She understood but too well why Peter had wished to die in that lane overshadowed by old elm-trees. Fortunately her mother died nearly at the same time; and this misfortune helped to explain her utter prostration and deep grief. Sacrificed, however, she really had been; for never did woman suffer what the countess endured from the day on which her lover’s suicide added bitter remorse to all her former grief. What would have become of her, if her child had not bound her to life! But she resolved to live; she felt that she was bound to live for Henrietta’s sake.

Thus she struggled on quite alone, for she had not a soul in whom she could confide, when one afternoon, as she was going down stairs, a servant came to tell her that there was a young man in naval uniform below, who desired to have the honor of waiting upon her. The servant handed her his card; she took it, and read,-- “Daniel Champcey.” It was Daniel, Peter’s brother. Pale as death, the countess turned as if to escape. The poor woman felt as if she was going to faint. “Show him up,” she replied in a scarcely audible voice,--“show him up.” When she looked up again, there stood before her a young man, twenty- three or twenty-four years old, with a frank and open face, and clear, bright eyes, beaming with intelligence and energy. The countess pointed at a chair near her; for she could not have uttered a word to save her daughter’s life. A younger man had recently been wrongly promoted over him; and he had asked for leave of absence to appeal to the secretary of the navy.

In fact, he hoped that Count Ville-Handry, of whose kindness and great influence he had heard much, would consent to indorse his claims. Gradually, and while listening to him, the countess recovered her calmness. “My husband will be happy to serve a countryman of his,” she replied; “and he will tell you so himself, if you will be kind enough to wait for him, and stay to dinner.” Daniel did stay. At table he was placed by the side of Henrietta, who was then fifteen years old; and the countess, seeing these two young and handsome people side by side, was suddenly struck with an idea which seemed to her nothing less than inspiration from on high. Why might she not intrust the future happiness of her daughter to the brother of the poor man who had loved her so dearly? Thus she might make some amends for her own conduct, and show some respect to his memory. “Yes,” she said to herself that night, before falling asleep, “it must be so.

Daniel shall be Henrietta’s husband.” Thus it came about, that, only a fortnight later, Count Ville-Handry said to one of his intimate friends, pointing out Daniel,-- “That young Champcey is a very remarkable young man; he has a great future before him. The countess might think and say of it what she chooses, I am master.” After that time Daniel became, unfortunately, a constant visitor at the house in Varennes Street. He had not only obtained ample satisfaction at headquarters, but, by the powerful influence of certain high personages, he had been temporarily assigned to duty in the bureau of the navy department, with the promise of a better position in active service hereafter. Thus Daniel and Henrietta saw a great deal of each other, and, to all appearances, began to love each other. She felt as if she would not live long; and she trembled at the idea of leaving her child without any other protector but the count.

If Henrietta had at least known the truth, and, instead of admiring her father as a man of superior ability, learned to mistrust his judgment! When it came, she was standing before the fireplace, undoing her hair; but, instead of taking it, she suddenly raised her hand to her throat, uttered a hoarse sound, and fell back. They sent for the doctors. Henrietta, roused by the noise all over the house, the voices in the passages, and the steps on the staircase, and suspecting that some accident had happened, had rushed at once into her mother’s room. There she had heard the doctors utter the fatal words,-- “All is over!” There were five or six of them in the room; and one of them, his eyes swollen from sleeplessness, and overcome with fatigue, had drawn the count into a corner, and, pressing his hands, repeated over and over again,-- “Courage, my dear sir, courage!” He, overcome, with downcast eye, and cold perspiration on his pallid brow, did not understand him; for he continued to stammer incessantly,-- “It is nothing, I hope. Did you not say it was nothing?” There are misfortunes so terrible, so overwhelming in their suddenness, that the stunned mind refuses to believe them, and denies their genuineness in spite of their actual presence. How could any one imagine or comprehend that the countess, who but a moment ago was standing there full of life, in perfect health, and the whole vigor of her years, apparently perfectly happy, smiling, and beloved by all,--how could one conceive that she had all at once ceased to exist?

It looked as if she had had at that last moment a revelation of the future which her too great cautiousness had prepared for her daughter. And she went from one doctor to the other, urging them, beseeching them, to find some means-- What were they doing there, looking so blank, instead of acting? Were they not going to restore her,--they whose business it was to cure people, and who surely had saved a number of people? They turned away from her, distressed by her terrible grief, expressing their inability to help by a gesture; and then the poor girl went back to the bed, and, bending over her mother, watched with a painfully bewildered air for her return to life. It seemed to her as if she felt that noble heart still beat under her hand, and as if those lips, sealed forever by death, must speak again to re-assure her. They attempted to take her away from that heartrending sight; they begged her to go to her room; but she insisted upon staying. They tried to remove her by force; but she clung to the bed, and vowed that they should tear her to pieces sooner than make her leave her mother. She sank down upon her knees by the side of the bed, hiding her face in the drapery, and repeating with fierce sobs,-- “My mother, my darling mother!” It was nearly morning, and the pale dawn was stealing into the room, when at last some sisters of charity came, who had been sent for; and then a couple of priests; a little later (it was towards the end of January) one of the count’s friends appeared, who undertook all those sickening preparations which our civilization demands in such cases. On the next day the funeral took place. More than two hundred persons called to condole with the count, twenty-five or thirty ladies came and kissed Henrietta, calling her their poor dear child.

How could they do it, seeing before them the empty seat, once occupied by her who was the life of the whole house, and now never to be filled again? During the day they were seen wandering about the house, without any apparent purpose, as if looking or hoping for something to happen. They remained for some time seated opposite each other, without saying a word, but deeply moved, and feeling instinctively that their common grief bound them more firmly than ever to each other. He was so much changed, that one might have failed to recognize him. His vanity was too great to render that very probable. “I shall master my grief as soon as I go back to work,” he said. He ought not to have done it; but he resumed his duties as a politician at a time when they had become unusually difficult, and when great things were expected of him. They attributed the sudden failure of his faculties to the great sorrow that had befallen him in the death of his wife. He tortured his mind in vain; he could not find a plausible explanation, and said over and over again,-- “It is perfectly inexplicable.” He talked of regular plots, of a coalition of his enemies, of the black ingratitude of men, and their fickleness.

At first he had thought of going back to the country. But gradually, as day followed day, and weeks grew into months, his wounded vanity began to heal; he forgot his misfortunes, and adopted new habits of life. He was a great deal at his club now, rode much on horseback, went to the theatres, and dined with his friends. Henrietta was delighted; for she had at one time begun to be seriously concerned for her father’s health. But she was not a little amazed when she saw him lay aside his mourning, and exchange his simple costumes, suitable to his age, for the eccentric fashions of the day, wearing brilliant waistcoats and fancy-colored trousers.

After hesitating for three days, the poor girl, saddened rather than frightened, confided her troubles to Daniel.

He had gradually drifted away from his old friends and his wife’s friends, and seemed to prefer to their high-bred society the company of very curious people of all kinds.

The count undertook to enlighten his daughter. He told her, that, having been ill-treated in politics, he intended to devote himself henceforth to grand enterprises, and hoped confidently to realize an enormous fortune, while, at the same time, rendering great service to certain branches of industry. Was that not quite enough for a man of sixty-five and for a young girl who did not spend a thousand a year on her toilet? He laughed heartily, tapped her cheek playfully, and said,-- “Ah, you would like to rule your papa, would you?” Then he added more seriously,-- “Am I so old, my little lady, that I ought to go into retirement? Have you, also, gone over to my enemies?” “Oh, dear papa!” “Well, my child, then you ought to know that a man such as I am cannot condemn himself to inactivity, unless he wants to die. Both had been taught by the countess to look upon her husband as a man of genius; hence they felt sure that he had only to undertake a thing, and he was sure to succeed. He ordered his coats to be made in the very last fashion; and never went out without a camellia or a rosebud in his buttonhole.

He no longer contented himself with dyeing his hair, but actually began to rouge, and used such strong perfumes, that one might have followed his track through the streets by the odors he diffused around him. If he was spoken to, he started like a criminal caught in the act.

He who formerly prided himself on his magnificent appetite (he saw in it a resemblance to Louis XIV.) now hardly ate any thing. The count tore it from his hands, threw him a gold-piece, and went to shut himself up in his study. “Poor papa!” said Henrietta to Daniel. “There are moments when I tremble for his mind.” At last, one evening after dinner, when he had drunk more than usually, perhaps in order to gain courage, he drew his daughter on his knee, and said in his softest voice,-- “Confess, my dear child, that in your innermost heart you have more than once called me a very bad father. I dare say you blame me for leaving you so constantly alone here in this large house, where you must die from sheer weariness.” Such a charge would have been but too well founded. Henrietta was left more completely to herself than the daughter of a workman, whose business keeps him from home all day long. in the first place I attend to the housekeeping, and try my best to make home pleasant to you.

A girl of your age stands in need of some one to advise her, to pet her,--an affectionate and devoted friend. you would bring another wife to this house, which is still alive with the voice of her whom we have lost? You would make her sit down in the chair in which she used to sit, and let her rest her feet on the cushion which she embroidered? Perhaps you would even want me to call her mamma? surely you do not think of such profanation!” The count’s trouble was pitiful to behold. “What I mean to do is done in your behalf, my dear child,” he stammered out at last. Daniel Champcey.” “Well?” The count’s eyes shone with delight as he saw that she was falling into the pit he had dug for her. The poor girl went on,-- “I thought--I had hoped--poor mamma had told me--in fact, since you had allowed M. Daniel to come here”-- “You thought I intended to make him my son-in-law?” She made no answer.

She had certainly very odd notions, against which I had to use the whole strength of my firm will. She began to understand the nature of the bargain which her father proposed to her, and it made her indignant. There were a hundred ways; but which to choose? Finding herself alone, she took a pen, and for the first time in her life she wrote to Daniel:-- “I must speak to you instantly. “Henrietta.” She gave the letter to a servant, ordering him to carry it at once to its address; and then she waited in a state of feverish anxiety, counting the minutes. A walk in company with his friend, Maxime de Brevan; a visit to the theatre, when a particularly fine piece was to be given; and two or three calls a week at Count Ville-Handry’s house,--these were his sole and certainly very harmless amusements.

The truth is, that, if Daniel’s natural refinement had not kept him from contact with what Parisians call “pleasure,” his ardent love for Henrietta would have prevented his falling into bad company. A pure, noble love, such as his, based upon perfect confidence in her to whom it is given, is quite sufficient to fill up a life; for it makes the present delightful, and paints the distant horizon of the future in all the bright colors of the rainbow. But, the more he loved Henrietta, the more he felt bound to be worthy of her, and to deserve her affections. But Henrietta belonged to a great house; she was the daughter of a man who had filled a high position; she was immensely rich; and, even if he had married her only with her own fortune, she would have brought him ten times as much as he had. Daniel did not want Henrietta, on the blessed day when she should become his own, to have any thing to wish for or to regret. Hence he worked incessantly, indefatigably, waking up every morning anew with the determination to make himself one of those names which weigh more than the oldest parchments, and to win one of those positions which make a wife as proud as she is fond of her husband. Fortunately, the times were favorable to his ambition.

“Do you see that d---- little fellow, there, with his quiet ways?” said Admiral Penhoel to his young officers. 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. As he walked rapidly up the street in which the count lived, he thought,-- “I have no doubt taken the alarm too soon; perhaps she has only some commission for me.” But he was beset with dark presentiments, and had to tell himself that that was not likely to be the case. He felt worse than ever, when, upon being shown into the drawing-room, he saw Henrietta sitting by the fire, deadly pale, with her eyes all red and inflamed from weeping.

“What is the matter with you?” he cried, without waiting for the door to be closed behind him. You frighten me.” “My father is going to marry again.” At first Daniel was amazed. That explains every thing.” But Henrietta interrupted him; and, making a great effort, she repeated to him in a half-stifled voice almost literally her conversation with her father. Your father evidently does propose to you a bargain.” “Ah! but that is horrible.” “He wanted you to understand, that, if you would consent to his marriage, he would consent”-- Shocked at what he was going to add, he stopped; but Henrietta said boldly,-- “To ours, you mean,--to ours?

Yes, so I understood it; and that was my reason for sending for you to advise me.” Poor fellow! She was asking him to seal his fate. “I think you ought to consent!” he stammered out. He saw all his hopes dashed in an instant, his life’s happiness destroyed forever, Henrietta lost to him. But the very imminence of the danger restored to him his energy. He mastered his grief, and said in an almost calm voice,-- “I beseech you, let me explain to you why I advised you so. There is no law which authorizes children to oppose the follies of their parents. If you refuse, he will go on, nevertheless, and not mind your objections.” “Oh!” “I am, unfortunately, but too sure of that.

If he spoke to you of his plans, you may be sure he had made up his mind. Your resistance will lead only to our separation. He might possibly forgive you; but she--Don’t you think she should avail herself to the utmost of her influence over him? Who can foresee to what extremities she might be led by her hatred against you? And she must be a dangerous woman, Henrietta, a woman who is capable of any thing.” “Why?” He hesitated for a moment, not daring to speak out fully what he thought; and at last he said slowly, as if weighing his words,-- “Because, because this marriage cannot be any thing else but a barefaced speculation. “You want me to yield?” she asked. “I beseech you to do it.” She shook her head sadly, and said in a tone of utter dejection,-- “Very well. I shall not object to this profanation. She rose, offered her hand to Daniel, and said,-- “I will see you to-morrow evening.

By that time I shall know, and I will tell you, the name of the woman whom father is going to marry; for I shall ask him who she is.” She was spared that trouble. Next morning, the first words of the count were,-- “Well, have you thought it over?” She looked at him till he felt compelled to turn his head away; and then she replied in a tone of resignation,-- “Father, you are master here. I should not tell you the truth, if I said I was not going to suffer cruelly at the idea of a stranger coming here to--But I shall receive her with all due respect.” Ah! She is an angel.” “What is her age?” “Twenty-five.” The count read in his daughter’s face that she thought his new wife much too young for him; and therefore he added, quickly,-- “Your mother was two years younger when I married her.” That was so; but he forgot that that was twenty years ago. “However,” he added, “you will see her; I shall ask her to let me present you to her. She is a foreigner, of excellent family, very rich, marvellously clever and beautiful; and her name is Sarah Brandon.” That evening, when Henrietta told Daniel the name of her future mother-in-law, he started with an air of utter despair, and said,-- “Great God! When Henrietta saw how the young officer was overcome by the mere mention of that name, Sarah Brandon, she felt the blood turn to ice in her veins. She knew perfectly well that a man like Daniel was not likely to be so utterly overwhelmed unless there was something fearful, unheard of, in the matter. “I swear to you,” he began.

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. She interrupted him, and said reproachfully,-- “Do you really think I am not strong enough to hear the truth?” At first he did not reply.

Overcome by the strange position in which he found himself, he looked for a way to escape, and found none. I will tell you all as soon as I am better informed.” “When will that be?” “To-night, if I can find Maxime de Brevan at home, as I hope I shall do; if I miss him, you must wait till to-morrow.” “And if your suspicions turn out to be well founded; if what you fear, and hide from me now, is really so,--what must I do then?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he rose and said in a solemn voice,-- “I am not going to tell you again how I love you, Henrietta; I am not going to tell you that to lose you would be death to me, and that in our family we do not value life very highly; you know that, don’t you? But, in spite of all that, if my fears should be well founded, as I apprehend they are, I should not hesitate to say to you, whatever might be the consequences, Henrietta, and even if we should have to part forever, we must try our utmost, we must employ all possible means in our power, to prevent a marriage between Count Ville-Handry and Sarah Brandon.” In spite of all her sufferings, Henrietta felt her heart bounding with unspeakable happiness and joy. he deserved to be loved,--this man whom her heart had freely chosen among them all,--this man who gave her such an overwhelming proof of his love. She offered him her hand; and, with her eyes beaming with enthusiasm and tenderness, she said,-- “And I, I swear by the sacred memory of my mother, that whatever may happen, and whatever force they may choose to employ, I shall never belong to any one but to you.” Daniel had seized her hand, and held it for some time pressed to his lips. At last, when his rapture gave way to calmer thoughts, he said,-- “I must leave you at once, Henrietta, if I want to catch Maxime.” As he left, his head was in a whirl, his thoughts in a maze. A cab was passing; he hailed it, jumped in, and cried to the driver,-- “Go quick, I say!

They said he was a man that could always be relied upon, at all times ready to render you a service when it was in his power, a pleasant companion, and an excellent second whenever a friend had to fight a duel. And yet, far from following the advice of the philosopher, who tells us to keep our life from the eye of the public, Maxime de Brevan seemed to take pains to let everybody into his secrets. He was so anxious to tell everybody where he had been, and what he had been doing, that you might have imagined he was always preparing to prove an alibi. Thus he told the whole world that the Brevans came originally from the province of Maine, and that he was the last, the sole representative, of that old family.

Not that he prided himself particularly on his ancestors; he acknowledged frankly that there was very little left of their ancient splendor; in fact, nothing but a bare support. But he never said what this “support” amounted to; his most intimate friends could not tell whether he had one thousand or ten thousand a year. So much only was certain, that, to his great honor and glory, he had solved the great problem of preserving his independence and his dignity while associating, a comparatively poor man, with the richest young men of Paris. They had been introduced to each other at a great ball by a common friend of theirs, a lieutenant in the navy. About one o’clock in the morning they had gone home together; and as the moon was shining brightly, the weather was mild, and the walking excellent, they had loitered about the Place de la Concorde while smoking their cigars. At all events, Daniel had been irresistibly attracted by the peculiar ways of Maxime, and especially by the cool stoicism with which he spoke of his genteel poverty. What is it?” “And I want you to help me.” “Don’t you know that I am at your service?” Daniel certainly thought so. “I thank you in advance, my dear Maxime; but I do not wish to give you too much trouble. I have a long story to tell you, and you are just going out”-- But Brevan interrupted him, shaking his head kindly, and saying,-- “I was only going out for want of something better to do, upon my word! So sit down, and tell me all.” Daniel had been so overcome by terror, and the fear that he might possibly lose Henrietta, that he had run to his friend without considering what he was going to tell him.

Now, when the moment came to speak, he was silent.

The thought had just occurred to him, that Count Ville-Handry’s secret was not his own, and that he was in duty bound not to betray it, if possible, even if he could have absolutely relied upon his friend’s discretion.

No; for suddenly his friend stopped before him, and said in a short, sharp tone,-- “First of all, Maxime, swear that you will never, under any circumstances, say to any human being a word of what I am going to tell you.” Thoroughly mystified, Brevan raised his hand, and said,-- “I pledge my word of honor!” This promise seemed to re-assure Daniel; and, when he thought he had recovered sufficient control over himself, he said,-- “Some months ago, my dear friend, I heard you telling somebody a horrible story concerning a certain Mrs. It is of the utmost importance to me.” Brevan, struck by a sudden thought, touched his forehead, and exclaimed,-- “Oh, I see! You are in love with Sarah!” Daniel would never have thought of such a subterfuge in order to avoid mentioning the name of Count Ville-Handry; but, seeing it thus offered to him, he determined to profit by the opportunity. Maxime raised his hands to heaven, and said in a tone of painful conviction,-- “In that case you are right. You ought to inquire; for you may be close upon a terrible misfortune.” “Ah, is she really so formidable?” Maxime shrugged his shoulders, as if he were impatient at being called upon to prove a well-known fact, and said,-- “I should think so.” There seemed to be no reason why Daniel should persist in his questions after that. Those words ought to have been explanation enough. It is only fools who call out to lovers to beware; and to warn a man who will not be warned, is useless.

Suppose I were to tell you that this Sarah is a wretched creature, an infamous forger, who has already the death of three poor devils on her conscience, who loved her as you do? Suppose I told you worse things than these, and could prove them? You would vow, in the candor of your heart, that you are forever cured, and, when you leave me”-- “Well?” “You would rush to your beloved, tell her all I said, and beseech her to clear herself of all these charges.” “I beg your pardon; I am not one of those men who”-- But Brevan was getting more and more excited. And now, my dear fellow, have the kindness to accept this cigar, and let us take a walk.” Was that really so as Brevan said?

“Suppose I lose my free will, and surrender absolutely; what will become of me?” Brevan looked at him with an air of pity, and said,-- “Not much will happen to you; only”-- And then he added with almost sternness, mixed with bitter sarcasm,-- “You ask me for your horoscope? You asked me to tell you the truth. Then, as to your social position. But you wanted to have it. “One of my friends.” “What name?” “I wish you would render the service I ask of you doubly valuable by not asking me that question,--at least, not to-day.” Daniel spoke with such an accent of truth, that not a shadow of doubt remained on Maxime’s mind. Tell me that your ingenuous people cannot deceive anybody!” However, he said nothing more about it; and, while Daniel was pouring out his excuses, he quietly went back to the fire, and sat down. He talks of marrying that woman.” Maxime shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, and said,-- “As to that, console yourself.

“Then your friend must be very rich.” “He is immensely rich.” “He bears a great name, and holds a high position?” “His name is one of the oldest and noblest in the province of Anjou.” “And he is a very old man?” “He is sixty-five.” Brevan struck the marble slab of the mantlepiece with his fist so that it shook, and exclaimed,-- “Ah, she told me she would succeed!” And then he added in a very low tone of voice, as if speaking to himself with an indescribable accent of mingled admiration and hatred,-- “What a woman! Oh, what a woman!” Daniel, who was himself greatly excited, and far too busy with his own thoughts to observe what was going on, did not notice the excitement of his friend; he continued quietly,-- “Now you will understand my great curiosity.

In order to prevent the scandal of such a marriage, my friend’s family would do every thing in the world. He remained for some time absorbed in his thoughts; and at last he said, as if coming to a decision,-- “No, I do not see any way to prevent this marriage; none at all.” “Still, from what you told me”-- “What!” “About the cupidity of this woman.” “Well?” “If she were offered a large sum, some eighty or a hundred thousand dollars?” Maxime laughed out loud; but there was not the true ring in his laughter. Do you think she would be fool enough to content herself with a fraction of a fortune, if she can have the whole, with a great name and a high position into the bargain?” Daniel opened his lips to present another suggestion; but Maxime, laying aside his usual half-dreamy, mocking manner, said, as if roused by a matter of great personal interest,-- “You do not understand me, my dear friend. Miss Brandon”-- He stopped suddenly, and looking at Daniel with a glance with which a judge examines the features of a criminal, he added in an almost threatening voice,-- “By telling you what little I know about her, Daniel, I give you the highest proof of confidence which one man can give to another. I love you too dearly to exact your promise to be discreet. If you ever mention my name in connection with this affair, if you ever let any one suspect that you learned what I am going to tell you from me, you will dishonor yourself.” Daniel, deeply moved, seized his friend’s hand, and, pressing it most affectionately, said,-- “Ah, you know Daniel Champcey is to be relied upon.” Maxime knew it; for he continued,-- “Miss Sarah Brandon is one of those female cosmopolitan adventurers, whom steam brings nowadays to us from all the four quarters of the world. Like so many others, she, also, has come to Paris to spread her net, and catch her birds, But she is made of finer stuff than most of them, and more clever. She means to have a fortune, and is willing to pay any price for it; but she is also desirous to be respected in the world.

“I should not be surprised if anybody told me Miss Sarah was born within ten miles of Paris; but she calls herself an American. I have heard her tell the story of her family to a large and attentive audience; but I do not say that I believed it. “According to her own account, M.

He entered the army, and in less than six months, thanks to his marvellous energy, he rose to be a general. When peace came, he was without occupation, and did not know what on earth to do with himself. Fortunately, his good star led him into a region where large tracts of land happened to be for sale. He was just about to be another Peabody when a fearful accident suddenly ended his life; he was burnt in an enormous fire that destroyed one of his establishments. “As to her mother, Miss Sarah says she lost her when she was quite young, in a most romantic, though horrible manner”-- “What!” broke in Daniel, “has nobody taken the trouble to ascertain if all these statements are true?” “I am sure I do not know. Brandon, a Petroleum Brandon.” “He may have borrowed the name.” “Certainly, especially when the original man is said to have died in America. She also brought with her a kind of protector, a Mr. Sir Thorn, who is a jockey of the first water, had discovered a pair of gray horses for her which made a sensation at the Bois de Boulogne, and drew everybody’s attention to their fair owner. Heaven knows how she had managed to get a number of letters of introduction.

Gradually she crept into society; and now she is welcome almost everywhere, and visits, not only at the best houses, but even in certain families which have a reputation of being quite exclusive. If some people say she is a wretch, others--and they are by no means the least clever--tell you that she is an angel, only wanting wings to fly away from this wicked world.

Petroleum explains everything.” Brevan seemed to feel a kind of savage delight in seeing Daniel’s despair, and in explaining to him most minutely how solidly, and how skilfully Miss Sarah Brandon’s position in the world had been established. Had he any expectation to prevent a struggle with her by exaggerating her strength? Or rather, knowing Daniel as he did,--far better, unfortunately, than he was known by him,--was he trying to irritate him more and more against this formidable adversary? At all events, he continued in that icy tone which gives to sarcasm its greatest bitterness,-- “Besides, my dear Daniel, if you are ever introduced at Miss Brandon’s,--and I pray you will believe me, people are not so easily introduced there,--you will be dumfounded at first by the tone that prevails in that house. Cant rules supreme there, putting a lock to the mouth, and a check to the eyes.” Daniel began evidently to be utterly bewildered. To the outer world, Miss Brandon is all levity, indiscretion, coquettishness, and even worse. She says she has a right to do as she pleases, according to the code of laws which govern American young ladies. But at home she bows to the taste and the wishes of her relative, Mrs. It was a fearful story; that is all I remember. Now, to be sure”-- Brevan shook his head, and said,-- “Now, you think that story might become a weapon in your hands?

Still it is not a very long one; and I can now tell it to you more in detail than I could before. He saw Miss Brandon, and instantly ‘took fire.’ He fell desperately in love with her. What his relations were with her, no one can tell positively,--I mean with sufficient evidence to carry conviction to others,--for the young man was a model of discretion. But what became only too well known was the fact, that, about eight months later, the people living near Miss Brandon’s house saw one morning, when the shutters were opened, a corpse dangling at a distance of a few feet above the ground from the iron fastenings of the lady’s window. Upon inspection, the dead man proved to be that unlucky Kergrist. In the pocket of his overcoat a letter was found, in which he declared that he committed suicide because an unreturned affection had made life unbearable to him. Now, this letter--mark the fact--was open; that is to say, it had been sealed, and the seal was broken.” “By whom?” “Let me finish. The family took it up. On the contrary, the hanging was turned by her partisans into an occasion for praising her marvellous virtuousness.

As to the money,’ they said, ‘it had been lost at the gaming-table.’ Kergrist was reported to have been seen at Baden-Baden and at Homburg; no doubt he played.” “And the world was content with such an explanation?” “Yes; why not?

To be sure, some sceptical persons told the whole story very differently. According, to their account, Miss Sarah had been the mistress of M. They stated, that, the evening before the accident, he had come to the house at the usual hour, and, finding it closed, had begged, and even wept, and finally threatened to kill himself; that, thereupon, he had really killed himself; (poor fool that he was!) that Miss Brandon, concealed behind the blinds, had watched all his preparations for the fearful act; that she had seen him fasten the rope to the outside hinges of her window, put the noose around his neck, and then swing off into eternity; that she had watched him closely during his agony, and stood there till the last convulsions had passed away.” “Horrible!” whispered Daniel,--“too horrible!” But Maxime seized him by the arm, and pressing it so as almost to hurt him, said in a low, hoarse voice,-- “That is not the worst yet. As soon as she saw that Kergrist was surely dead, she slipped down stairs like a cat, opened the house-door noiselessly, and, gliding stealthily along the wall till she reached the body, she actually searched the still quivering corpse to assure herself that there was nothing in the pockets that could possibly compromise her. Finding the last letter of Kergrist, she took it away with her, broke the seal, and read it; and, having found that her name was not mentioned in it, she had the amazing audacity to return to the body, and to put the letter back where she had found it.

She went to bed, and slept soundly.” Daniel had become livid. He forgot himself, and gave himself up to his feelings. You ought to know that also. “One evening, about four years ago, the president of the Mutual Discount Society came into the cashier’s room to tell him, that, on the following day, the board of directors would examine his books. The cashier, an unfortunate man by the name of Malgat, replied that every thing was ready; but, the moment the president had turned his back, he took a sheet of paper, and wrote something like this:-- “‘Forgive me, I have been an honest man forty years long; now a fatal passion has made me mad. I have drawn money from the bank which was intrusted to my care; and, in order to screen my defalcations, I have forged several notes. I cannot bear the disgrace which I have incurred; in an hour I shall have ceased to live.’ “Malgat put this letter in a prominent place on his desk, and then rushed out, without a cent in his pocket, to throw himself into the canal. “But what was he to do? He could not return to his bank; for there, by this time, his crime must have become known. Then, in his wild despair, he told them all, begging them to give him a couple of hundreds only of the four hundred thousand which he had stolen in order to give them to Miss Brandon,--a hundred only, to enable him to escape to Belgium.

And when he begged and prayed, falling on his knees before Miss Sarah, Sir Thorn seized him by the shoulders, and turned him out of the house.” Maxime, overcome by his intense excitement, fell into an easy-chair, and remained there for a considerable time, his eyes fixed, his brow darkened, repenting himself, no doubt, of his candor, his wrath, and his forgetfulness of all he owed to himself and to others.

But, when he rose again, his rare strength of will enabled him to assume his usual phlegmatic manner; and he continued in a mocking tone,-- “I see in your face, Daniel, that you think the story is monstrous, improbable, almost impossible.

If you care to look at the papers of that year, you will find it everywhere.

To say nothing of the many similar stories that have happened since.” Daniel said nothing, he only bowed his head sadly. “It is not so much the story itself,” he said at last, “that overcomes me so completely. What I cannot comprehend is, how this woman could refuse the man whose accomplice she had been the small pittance he required in order to evade justice, and to escape to Belgium.” “Nevertheless, that was so,” repeated M. de Brevan; and then he added emphatically, “at least, they say so.” Daniel did not notice this attempt to become more cautious again. He continued pensively,-- “Is it not very improbable that Miss Brandon should not have been afraid to exasperate the unfortunate man, and to drive him to desperate measures? In his furious rage, he might have left the house, rushed to a police-officer, and confessed to him every thing, laying the evidence he had in his hands before a magistrate, and”-- “You say,” replied Brevan, interrupting him with a dry, sardonic laugh, “precisely what all the advocates of the fair American said at that time. She does not pretend to avoid difficulties; she crushes them. Her prudence consists in carrying imprudence to the farthest limits.” “But”-- “You ought to credit her, besides, with sufficient astuteness and experience to know that she had taken the most careful precautions, having destroyed every evidence of her own complicity, and feeling quite safe in that direction.

And yet, in the case of this Mutual Discount Society, her calculations did not prove absolutely correct.” “How so?” “It became known that she had received Malgat two or three times secretly, for he did not openly enter her house; and the penny papers had it, that ‘the fair stranger was no stranger to small peculations.’ Public opinion was veering around, when it was reported that she had been summoned to appear before a magistrate. Malgat had the sublime self-abnegation to undergo the agonies of a trial, and the infamy of a condemnation, without allowing a word to escape?” “No. For the simple reason that Malgat was sentenced in contumaciam to ten years in the penitentiary.” “And what has become of the poor wretch?” “Who knows? Two months later, a half decomposed body was found in the forest of Saint Germain, which people declared to be Malgat. However”-- He had become livid, in his turn; but he continued in an almost inaudible voice, as if to meet Daniel’s objections before they were expressed,-- “However, somebody who used to be intimate with Malgat has assured me that he met him one day in Dronot Street, before the great auction- mart. The man said he recognized him, although he seemed to be most artistically disguised. This is what has set me thinking more than once, that, if people were not mistaken, a day might, after all, yet come, when Miss Sarah would have a terrible bill to settle with her implacable creditor.” He passed his hand across his brow as if to drive away such uncomfortable thoughts, and then said with a forced laugh,-- “Now, my dear fellow, I have come to the end of my budget. And, if you ask me what interest I could have in knowing such a woman, I will tell you frankly, that you see before you one of her victims; for my dear Daniel, I have to confess it, I also have been in love with her; and how! But I was too small a personage, and too poor a devil, to be worth a serious thought of Miss Brandon.

On the contrary, he thanked God for having sent him such an ally, such a friend, who had lived long enough amid all these intrigues of Parisian high life to know all its secret springs, and to guide him safely. He took Maxime’s hand in his own, and said with deep feeling,-- “Now, my friend, we are bound to each other for life.” Brevan seemed deeply touched; he raised his hand as if to wipe a tear from his eyes. But he was not a man to give way to tender feelings. Does any way occur to you? you see, it will be hard work.” He seemed to meditate deeply for a few moments; then uttering his words slowly and emphatically, as if to lend them their full weight, and impress them forcibly on Daniel’s mind, he resumed,-- “We must attack Miss Brandon herself, if we want to master the situation. Fortunately there is no difficulty in Paris in finding spies, if you have money enough.” As the clock on the mantlepiece struck half-past ten, he started and stopped.

I want you to see Miss Sarah.” “But who will point her out to me? when?” “I will do it to-night, at the opera. They were, fortunately, able to secure two orchestra-chairs. Brevan took his opera-glasses out, and rapidly surveying the house, he had soon found what he was looking for.

He touched Daniel with his elbow, and, handing him the glasses, whispered in his ear,-- “Look there, in the third box from the stage; look, there she is!” V. In the box which Maxime had pointed out to him he saw a girl of such rare and dazzling beauty, that he could hardly retain a cry of admiration.

She was leaning forward, resting on the velvet cushion of her box, in order to hear better. Her hair, perfectly overwhelming in its richness, was so carelessly arranged, that no one could doubt it was all her own; it was almost golden, but with such a bright sheen, that at every motion sparks seemed to start from its dark masses. Her large, soft eyes were overshadowed by long lashes; and as she now opened them wide, and now half closed them again, they changed from the darkest to the lightest blue. “Can that be,” said Daniel to himself, “the wretched creature whose portrait Maxime has just given me?” A little behind her, and half-hid in the shade of the box, appeared a large bony head, adorned with an absurd bunch of feathers. Her eyes flashed indignation; and her narrow lips seemed to say perpetually, “Shocking!” That was Mrs. As Daniel was persistently examining the box, with the smiling girl, the stern old woman, and the placid old man in the background, he felt doubts of all kinds creeping into his mind. These thoughts troubled Daniel; and he would have mentioned his doubts to Maxime; but his neighbors were enthusiasts about music, and, as soon as he bent over to whisper into his friend’s ear, they growled, and, if he ventured to utter a word, they forced him to be silent. Many left the house; others simply rose to look around; but Maxime and Daniel remained in their seats. He had his opera-hat under his arm, a camellia in his button-hole; and his light-yellow kid gloves were so tight, that it looked as if they must inevitably burst the instant he used his hands. “Count Ville-Handry!” said Daniel to himself.

Somebody touched his shoulder slightly; and, as he turned round, he found it was Maxime, who said with friendly irony,-- “Your old friend, is it not? I have to confess it.” He was just in the act of explaining the reasons for his silence, when M.

de Brevan interrupted him, saying,-- “Just look, Daniel; just look!” The count had taken a seat in the front part of the box, by Miss Brandon’s side, and was talking to her with studied affectation, bending over her, gesticulating violently, and laughing till he showed every one of the long yellow teeth which were left him.

He was evidently on exhibition, and desired to be seen by everybody. Suddenly, however, after Miss Brandon had said a few words to him, he rose, and went out. The bell behind the scenes was ringing, and the curtain was about to rise again. “Let us go,” said Daniel to M. it will be hard work to rescue the count from the wiles of this witch,” said Maxime. Having left the house, they were just turning into the narrow street which leads to the boulevards, when they saw a tall man, wrapped up in a huge cloak, coming towards them, and behind him a servant with a whole armful of magnificent roses. Coming suddenly face to face upon Daniel, he seemed at first very much embarrassed; then, recovering himself, he said,-- “Why, is this you? Come, go back with me, and I promise you a pleasant surprise.” Brevan came up close to Daniel, and whispered to him,-- “Go; here is the opportunity I was wishing for.” Then he lifted his hat and went his way.

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

Then the count returned to the opera-house, Daniel following him, filled with amazement. Evidently love had made the count young again, and now gave wings to his steps. At once he took Daniel by the hand; and, drawing him into the box close to the lady, he said to the young girl,-- “Permit me to present to you M. Daniel Champcey, one of our most distinguished naval officers.” Daniel bowed, first to her, and then solemnly to Mrs. “I need not tell you, my dear count,” said Miss Sarah, “that your friends are always welcome here.” Then, turning to Daniel, she added,-- “Besides, I have long since known you.” “Me?” “Yes, sir. And I even know that you are one of the most frequent visitors at Count Ville-Handry’s house.” She looked at Daniel with a kind of malicious simplicity, and then added, “I do not mean to say that the count would not be wrong if he attributed your frequent visits exclusively to his own merits. Brian, “what you say there is highly improper.” This reproof, so far from checking Miss Sarah’s merriment, only seemed to increase it.

Without losing sight of Daniel, she turned to her aunt, and said,-- “Since the count is not opposed to this gentleman’s paying his attentions to his daughter, I think I may safely speak of them. It would be such an extraordinary thing, if any thing should happen to interfere with his hopes!” Daniel, who had blushed all over, suddenly became deadly pale.

After all that he had been told, these words sounded to him, in spite of the loud laugh that accompanied them, like a warning and a threat. But he was not allowed the time to reflect. The piece was coming to an end; Miss Brandon was drawing a fur cloak over her shoulders, and left on the count’s arm; while he had to escort Mrs. Suddenly, as her foot touched the bottom of the carriage, she drew back, and cried out,-- “What is that?

“You are fond of roses,” he said, “and I have ordered a few.” With these words he took up some of the leaves, and showed them to her. But immediately Miss Brandon’s terror was changed into wrath. “You want people to say everywhere that I make you commit all kinds of follies. What a glorious thing to waste fifty dollars on flowers, when one has I know not how many millions!” Then, seeing by the light of the street-lamp that the count’s face showed deep disappointment, she said in a tone to make him lose the little reason that was left him,-- “You would have been more welcome if you had brought me a cent’s worth of violets.” In the mean time Mrs. At the moment when the servant was closing the door, Miss Sarah bent forward toward Daniel, and said,-- “I hope I shall have the pleasure of soon seeing you again. The carriage which took Miss Brandon and Count Ville-Handry away was already at some distance, before Daniel could recover from his amazement, his utter consternation. All these strange events, coming upon him one by one, in the course of a few hours, and breaking suddenly in upon so calm and quiet a life, overwhelmed him to such a degree, that he was not quite sure whether he was dreaming or awake. This Miss Sarah Brandon, who had just passed away from him like a glorious vision from on high, was only too real; and there, on the muddy pavement, a handful of rose-leaves bore witness of the power of her charms, and the folly of her aged lover.

“Ah, we are lost!” exclaimed Daniel, in so loud a voice, that some of the passers-by stopped, expecting one of those street-dramas which read so strikingly in the local columns of our papers. Noticing that he attracted attention, Daniel shrugged his shoulders, and quickly walked off towards the boulevards.

He had promised Henrietta to be sure to tell her that very evening, if possible, what he had found out; but it was too late now; midnight was striking. “I’ll go to-morrow,” he said to himself. At first he had imagined he should only have to do with one of those common intriguantes who want to secure themselves a quiet old age, and clumsily spread their nets to catch an old or a young man; and who can always easily be gotten rid of by paying them a more or less considerable sum of money, provided the police does not get hold of them. But here he saw himself suddenly confronted by one of those formidable adventuresses in high life, who either save appearances altogether, or, at worst, are only compromised far enough to give additional zest and an air of mystery to their relations. How could he hope to compete with such a woman? Was it not pure folly to think even of making her give up the magnificent fortune which she seemed already to have in her hands, Heaven knows by what means? “Great God!” said Daniel, “send me some inspiration.” But no inspiration came; and in vain did he torture his mind; he was unable to think. When he reached home, he went to bed as usual; but the consciousness of his misfortunes kept him awake. At nine o’clock in the morning, having never closed his eyes, and feeling utterly overcome by sleeplessness and fatigue, he was just about to get up, when some one knocked at his door. He rose hastily, put on his clothes, and went to open the door.

de Brevan, who came to hear all about his new acquaintance of last night, and whose first word was,-- “Well?” “Alas!” replied Daniel, “I think the wisest plan would be to give it up.” “Upon my word, you are in great haste to surrender.” “And what would you do in my place, eh?

That woman has beauty enough to drive any one mad; and the count is a lost man.” And, before Maxime had time to reply, Daniel told him simply and frankly all about his love for Miss Ville-Handry, the hopes he had been encouraged to cherish, and the dangers that threatened his happiness in life. “For I can no longer deceive myself, Maxime,” he concluded with a tone of utter despair. “I foresee, I know, what is going to happen. Henrietta will obstinately, and at any risk, do every thing in the world to prevent her father’s marriage with Miss Brandon; she will struggle to the bitter end. Ought I, or ought I not, to help her? But we shall have a mortal enemy in Miss Brandon; and, on the morning after her wedding, her first thought will be how to avenge herself, and how to separate Henrietta and myself forever.” Little as Brevan was generally given to show his feelings, he was evidently deeply touched by his friend’s despair. “In short, my dear fellow, you have reached the point at which we no longer know what to do. All the more reason, then, that you should listen to the calm advice of a friend. You will pay some compliments to Miss Sarah; you will be all attention to Mrs.

Brian; and you will try to win over the Hon. Finally, and above all, you will be all ears and all eyes.” “I am sorry to say I do not understand you yet.” “What?

and that nothing is wanting in order to cut that thread but an opportunity? And when you may expect, at any moment, any thing and every thing, what is to be done but to wait and watch?” Daniel did not seem to be convinced. He added,-- “Miss Sarah will talk to me about her marriage.” “Certainly she will.” “What can I say?” “Nothing,--neither yes nor no,--but smile, or run away; at all events, you gain time.” He was interrupted by Daniel’s servant, who came in, holding a card in his hand, and said,-- “Sir, there is a gentleman down stairs in a carriage, who wants to know if he would interrupt you if he came up to see you.” “What is the gentleman’s name?” “Count Ville-Handry. You would be compelled to introduce me to him; he might remember my name; and, if he were to tell Miss Sarah that I am your friend, all would be lost.” Thereupon he turned to go; but at the same moment the outer door was opened, and he said,-- “There is the count! I am caught.” But Daniel opened promptly the door to his bedroom, pushed him in, and shut the door. A few stories to climb--what is that to me?” At the same time he stretched out his leg, and caressed his calf, as if to exhibit its vigor and its suppleness. The count took it, and in an airy manner, which contrasted ill with his evident embarrassment, he said,-- “I am sure, my dear Daniel, you must be very much surprised and puzzled to see me here; are you not?” “I confess, sir, I am. If you wished to speak to me, you had only to drop me a line, and I should have waited upon you at once.” “I am sure you would!

In fact, I have nothing to say to you. I should not have come to see you, if I had not missed an appointment.

I was to meet one of my fellow members of the assembly, and he did not come to the place where we were to meet. On my return home, I happened to pass your house; and I said to myself, ‘Why not go up and see my sailor friend? I might ask him what he thinks of a certain young lady to whom he had, last night, the honor of being presented.’” Now or never was the favorable moment for following Maxime’s advice; hence Daniel, instead of replying, simply smiled as pleasantly as he could. He said to himself, but loud enough to be heard,-- “And to think that chance alone has led me to meet this angel!” A sudden start, involuntary on the part of Daniel, seemed to disturb him; for he resumed his speech, laying great stress upon his words,-- “Yes, chance alone; and I can prove it to you.” He settled down in his chair like a man who is going to speak for some length of time; and, in that emphatic manner which so well expressed the high opinion he had of himself, he continued,-- “You know, my friend, how deeply I was affected by the death of the Countess Ville-Handry. Her whole capacity rarely rose beyond the effort to distinguish a ball-dress from a dinner-dress. But she was a good woman, attentive, discreet, and devoted to me; an excellent manager, economical, and yet always sure to do honor to the high reputation of my house.” Thus, in all sincerity, the count spoke of her who had literally made him, and who, for sixteen long years, had galvanized his empty head. “In short,” he continued, “the loss of my wife so completely upset me, that I lost all taste for the occupations which had so far been dear to me; and I set about to find distractions elsewhere. Soon after I had gotten into the habit of going frequently to my club, I fell in with M. “Sir Thorn, as they call him, is an excellent horseman, you know, and used to ride out every morning at an early hour; and as the physicians had recommended to me horseback exercise, and as I like it, because I excel in riding, as in every thing else, we often met in the Bois de Boulogne. I am rather reserved; but Sir Thorn is even more so, and thus it did not seem that our acquaintance was ever to ripen into any thing better, till an accident brought us together.

I jumped down instantly to help him up again; but he could not rise. There was no one near the place; and I began to be seriously embarrassed, when fortunately two soldiers appeared. I called to them, and sent one on my horse to the nearest hack-stand to bring a carriage. As soon as it came, we raised the invalid, and put him in as well as we could; I got on the box to show the man the way to Sir Thorn’s house. When we arrived there, I rang the bell, and told the servants to come down to their master. “I was going up before them; and, as I reached the second story, a door suddenly opened, and a young girl was standing right before me. She had only taken time to throw a loose wrapper around her shoulders; and her dishevelled hair streamed out from under a kind of coquettish morning-cap. “When she saw her kinsman in the arms of the servants, she imagined he was dangerously wounded, perhaps even--She turned as pale as death, and, uttering a loud cry, she tottered. Her cap had become unfastened; and her hair fell in golden floods all over me, and down to the floor. Nor did he in any way attempt to conceal his emotion.

“I am a poor old fellow,” he said; “and between you and me, my dear Daniel, I will tell you that the women--well--the women have not been--exactly cruel to me.

Never in my life, I assure you, have I felt such a deep sensation as when Miss Brandon was lying in my arms.” While saying this, he had pulled out his handkerchief, saturated with a strong perfume, and was wiping his forehead, though very gently, and with infinite precautions, so as not to spoil the artistic work of his valet. Once having seen her, one wants to see her again. I was lucky enough to have a pretext for coming again; and the very next day I was at her door, inquiring after M. They showed me into the room of that excellent gentleman, where I found him stretched out on an invalid’s chair, with his legs all bandaged up. By his side sat a venerable lady, to whom he presented me, and who was no other than Mrs. “Nor did I see her upon subsequent occasions, when I repeated my visits, until at last I came to the conclusion that she avoided me purposely. But one day Sir Thorn, who was improving very rapidly, expressed a desire to walk out a few steps in the Champs Elysees. I offered him my arm; he accepted it; and, when we came back, he asked me if I would be kind enough to take pot-luck with him.” However important these communications were for Daniel, he was for some time already listening but very inattentively to the count’s recital, for he had heard a strange, faint noise, which he could not by any means explain to himself.

The door to his bedroom, which he was sure he had closed himself, was now standing partly open. de Brevan, weary of his confinement and excited by curiosity, had chosen this way to see and to listen. “Thus,” he continued, “I was at last to see Miss Sarah again. But you know I have some power over myself; and I had recovered my calmness, when Sir Thorn confessed to me that he would have invited me long since, but for the fear of offending his young relative, who had declared she would never meet me again. And then Sir Thorn, with that marvellous composure which never leaves him, said, ‘It is not you she blames, but herself, on account of that ridiculous scene the other day.’ “Do you hear, Daniel, he called that adorable scene which I have just described to you, ridiculous! “I have since found out that they had almost to force Miss Brandon to receive me; but she had tact enough not to let me see it, when I was formally presented to her, just before going to dinner. It is true, she blushed deeply; but she took my hand with the utmost cordiality, and cut me short when I was trying to pay her some compliment, saying,-- “‘You are Thorn’s friend; I am sure we shall be friends also.’ “Ah, Daniel! you admired Miss Brandon at the theatre; but you ought to see her at her house. Abroad she sacrifices herself in order to pay proper regard to the world; but at home she can venture to be herself. “We soon became friends, as she had foretold, so soon, in fact, that I was quite surprised when I found her addressing me like an old acquaintance.

A man like myself, known abroad and at home during a long political career of some distinction, could not be a stranger to Miss Brandon. And there was many a day when I wished I were a friend of yours, so that I might say to you, “Well done, sir! You said so on such and such an occasion.’ “And when I looked at night, after my return, into my papers, to ascertain the fact, I found almost always that Miss Brandon had been right. Need I tell you after that, that I soon became an almost daily visitor at the house in Circus Street? Had he come merely to confide to Daniel the amazing romance of his love?

Or did he simply yield to the natural desire of all lovers, to pour out the exuberance of their feelings, and to talk of their love, even when they know that their indiscretion may be fatal to their success? Daniel put these questions to himself; but the count did not leave him time to reflect, and to answer them. After a short pause, he seemed to rouse himself, and said, suddenly changing his tone,-- “I guess what you think, my dear Daniel. You say to yourself, ‘Count Ville-Handry was in love.’ Well, I assure you you are mistaken.” Daniel started from his chair; and, overcome by amazement, he exclaimed,-- “Can it be possible?” “Exactly so; I give you my word of honor. The feelings which attracted me toward Miss Brandon were the same that bound me to my daughter. It was evident to me that she was embarrassed in my presence. Our constant intercourse, so far from reassuring her, seemed to frighten her.

I devoted myself, therefore, to more careful observation; and I soon became aware, that, if I loved Miss Brandon only with the affection of a father, I had succeeded in inspiring her with a more tender sentiment.” In any other person, this senile self-conceit would have appeared intensely absurd to Daniel; in his Henrietta’s father, it pained him deeply.

I was so surprised by it, that for three days I could neither think of it coolly, nor decide on what I ought to do. It would have been infamous in me to repay the hospitality of excellent Mrs. On the other hand, must I necessarily deny myself my pleasant visits at the house in Circus Street, and break with friends who were so dear to me? I thought of that, also; but I had not the courage to do so.” He hesitated for a moment, trying to read in Daniel’s eyes his real opinion. After a while, he said very gravely,-- “It was then only, that the idea of marrying her occurred to me.” Daniel had been expecting the fatal word; thus, however heavy the blow was, it found him prepared. This indifference seemed to surprise the count; for he uttered an expression of discontent, and curtly repeated,-- “Yes, I thought of marrying her.

You will say, ‘That was a serious matter.’ I know that only too well; and therefore I did not decide the question in a hurry, but weighed the reasons for and against very carefully. But then I answered it triumphantly by the fact that age is not a matter to be decided by the certificate of baptism, but that we are just as old as we appear to be. Now, thanks to an exceptionally sober and peaceful life, of which forty years were spent in the country, to an iron constitution, and to the extreme care I have always taken of my health, I possess a--what shall I say?--a vigor which many young men might envy, who can hardly drag one foot after the other.” He rose as he said this, threw out his chest, straightened his back, and stretched out his well-shaped leg. She is at least twenty-five, my dear friend; and, for a woman, twenty-five years are--ah, ah!” He smiled ironically, as if to say that to him a woman of twenty-five appeared an old, a very old woman. A thousand trifles, of no weight in appearance, and unnoticed by herself in all probability, have told me that she abhors very young men. She has learnt to appreciate the value of young husbands of thirty, who are all fire and flame in the honeymoon, and who, six months later, wearied with pure and tranquil happiness, seek their delights elsewhere. How often have I heard her say to Mrs. Brian, ‘Above all, aunt, I want to be proud of my husband; I want to see everybody’s eye sparkle with admiration and envy as soon as I mention his name, which will have become mine also; I want people to whisper around me, “Ah, how happy she is to be loved by such a man!”’” He shook his head gravely, and said in a solemn tone,-- “I examined myself, Daniel, and found that I answered all of Miss Brandon’s expectations; and the result of my meditations was, that I would be a madman to allow such happiness to escape me, and that I was bound to risk every thing.

I made up my mind, therefore, firmly, and went to M. Elgin in order to make him aware of my intentions. I cannot describe to you the amazement of that worthy gentleman. As if I would have come to him, if, by some impossible accident, I should have been unhappy in my choice! But I fell from the clouds when he told me outright that he meant to do all he could do to prevent such a match. Nor would he give up his purpose, say what I could; and I had to use all my skill to make him change his mind. At last, after more than two hours’ discussion, all that I could obtain from him was the promise that he would remain neutral, and that he would leave to Mrs. “So,” he resumed, “I went to Mrs.

At the first word, she called me--God forgive her!--an old fool, and plainly told me that I must never show myself again in Circus Street. She would not even listen to me, the old Puritan; and, when I became pressing, she dropped me a solemn curtsey, and left me alone in the room, looking foolish enough, I am sure. “For the time, I had nothing to do but to go away. I did so, hoping that her interview with her niece might induce her to change her mind.

She asked me to be that very day, at four o’clock, in the Bois de Boulogne, near the waterfalls; that she would ride out in the afternoon with Sir Thorn; that she would escape from him, and meet me. “As a matter of course, I was punctual; and it was well I was so, for, a few minutes after I got there, I saw her--or rather I felt her--coming towards me, riding at full speed. When she reached me, she stopped suddenly, and, jumping from her horse, said to me,-- “‘They watch me so jealously, that I could not write to you till to-day.

Let us be gone!’” He paused, overcome with excitement; but, soon recovering, he continued,-- “To hear a beautiful woman tell you that! And yet I had the courage, mad as I felt I was becoming, to speak to her words of calm reason.

Yes, I had the sublime courage, and the almost fortuitous control over myself, to conjure her to retreat into her house. “She began to weep, and accused me of indifference. “But I had discovered a way out of the difficulty, and said to her,-- “‘Sarah, go home. Write to me what you have just told me, and I am sure I shall compel your friends to grant me your hand.’ “This she did. “And what I had foreseen came to pass. After some little hesitations, and imposing certain honorable conditions, they said to Sarah and myself,-- “‘You will have it so.

Elgin, and the fainting-fit of Miss Brandon, to the meeting in the Bois de Boulogne and the proposed runaway-match, all seemed to him perfectly natural and simple,--even the sudden enthusiasm of a young, frivolous woman for his political opinions, and the learning by heart of his speeches. That a man like the count should be so perfectly blind to the intrigue that was going on around him, seemed to him incomprehensible. Tell us frankly that you suspect Miss Brandon, and accuse her of trying to catch me in her snares, or, at least, of having selfish views.” “I do not say so,” stammered Daniel.

I have only one word in reply; but that is sufficient; Miss Brandon is richer than I am.” How, and at what price, Miss Brandon had managed to possess herself of such a fortune, Daniel knew but too well from Maxime’s account; hence he could not suppress a nervous shudder, which the count noticed, and which irritated him. “The oil-wells which she has inherited from her father bring her in, bad years and good years, from thirty to forty thousand dollars a year, and that in spite of their being sadly mismanaged. Sir Thorn has proved to me that they are an almost inexhaustible mine of wealth.

If petroleum was not fabulously profitable, how would you account for the oil-fever with which these cool, calculating Americans have suddenly been seized, and which has made more millionaires than the gold-fever in California and the Territories? there is something to be made there yet, and something grand, if one could dispose of a large capital.” He became excited, and forgot himself; but he soon checked himself. At this very moment she is called upon to choose between me and a much younger man than I am, whose fortune, moreover, is larger than mine,--Mr. Wilkie Gordon.” How did it come about that Count Ville-Handry seemed to appeal to Daniel, and to plead his cause before him? I see one of those rascally slanderers, who have tried to tarnish the honor of the noblest and chastest of all women, has already been at work here, anticipating my communication to you, and repeating those infamous calumnies. You must give me the name of the scoundrel.” Unconsciously, almost, Daniel turned towards the door, behind which M.

Perhaps he expected him to come forth; but Maxime did not stir.

Before consenting to be mine, she insisted upon my knowing every thing, yes, every thing, without reserve or boastfulness; and I know what she has suffered. Did they not say that she had driven a foolish young man, a gambler, to commit suicide; and that she had watched, unmoved, the tortures of his agony? you have only to look at Miss Brandon to know that these vile stories are wretched inventions of malicious enemies and rivals. “But no more of that painful topic,” he said: “let us talk seriously.” He rose, and leaning on the mantelpiece, so as to face Daniel, he said,-- “I told you, my dear Daniel, that Sir Thorn and Mrs. Brian insisted upon certain conditions before they consented to our marriage. One is, that Miss Brandon is to be received by my relations as she deserves to be, not only respectfully, but affectionately, even tenderly. As to relations, there is not any.

I have some remote cousins, who, having nothing to expect from me when I die, do not trouble themselves any more about me than I trouble myself about them. She cannot bear the mere idea that another woman is to take the place of her mother, to bear her name, and to rule in my house.” Daniel began at last to know what he had to understand by that unsuccessful appointment which had procured him the pleasure of a visit from Count Ville-Handry. If she has taken it into her head to receive Miss Brandon uncivilly, she will do so, in spite of all she has promised me, and she will make a terrible scene of it.

And if Miss Brandon consents, in spite of all, to go on, my house will become a hell to me, and my wife will suffer terribly. Now the question is, whether I have sufficient influence over Henrietta to bring her to reason.

He went on,-- “I have never disapproved of my poor wife’s plans; and the proof is, that I have allowed you to pay your attentions to my daughter. But now I make this condition: if my daughter is to Miss Brandon what she ought to be to her, a tender and devoted sister, then, six months after my wedding, there shall be another wedding at my house.” Daniel was about to speak; but he stopped him, saying,-- “No, not a word! Miss Brandon has asked me to present you to her to-night. She wants to speak to you. Come and dine with me; and after dinner we will go to Circus Street. Now, pray think of what I have told you, and good-by!” VII. Overcome by the great effort he had made to conceal his emotions, he had sunk into a chair, hiding his face in his hands, and said to himself in a mournful voice, and as if trying to convince himself of an overwhelming fact,-- “The count has lost his mind altogether, and we are lost.” The grief of this excellent young man was so great and so bitter, that M. de Brevan seemed to be deeply moved. He looked at him for some time with an air of pity, and then suddenly, as if yielding to a good impulse, he touched his shoulder, and said,-- “Daniel!” The unhappy man started like one who has suddenly been roused from deep slumber; and, as he recalled what had just happened, he said,-- “You have heard all, Maxime?” “All! It enables me to give you some friendly advice.

You know I have paid dear for my experience.” He hesitated, being at a loss how to express his ideas; then he continued in a short, sharp tone,-- “You love Miss Ville-Handry?” “More than my life, don’t you know?” “Well, if that is so, abandon all thoughts of useless resistance; induce Miss Henrietta to do as her father wishes; and persuade Miss Brandon to let your wedding take place a month after her own. Miss Ville-Handry may suffer somewhat during that month; but the day after your wedding you will carry her off to your own home, and leave the poor old man to his amorous folly.” Daniel showed in his face that this suggestion opened a new prospect before him. “It is all you can do.” “Yes, it is what prudence would advise me to do. But can I do so in honor?” “Oh, honor, honor!” “Would it not be wrong in me to abandon the poor old man to the mercy of Miss Brandon and her accomplices?” “You will never be able to rescue him, my dear fellow.” “I ought at least to try. Daniel had risen, and was walking up and down the small room, replying to his own objections, rather than to those raised by Brevan. “If I were alone master,” he said, “I might, perhaps, agree to a capitulation. She is as weak as a child; but at the proper moment she can develop a masculine energy and an iron will.” “Why should you tell her at all who Miss Brandon is?” “I have pledged my word of honor to tell her every thing.” Brevan again shrugged his shoulders, and there was no mistaking what he meant by that gesture. I have no experience, that is true; but I have you, Maxime; and I know I can always count upon you.” Daniel did not seem to have noticed that M. de Brevan, at first all fire and energy, had rapidly cooled off, like a man, who, having ventured too far, thinks he has made a mistake, and tries to retrace his steps. I shall try to interest some high personage in my behalf,--my minister, for instance, who is very kind to me.

Besides, I have an idea.” “Ah!” “That unlucky cashier, whose story you told me, and who, you think, is not dead--if we could find him. de Brevan’s cheeks began to redden perceptibly. He broke out with strange vehemence,-- “What nonsense!” Then he added, more collectedly,-- “You forget that Malgat has been sentenced to I know not how many years’ penal servitude, and that he will see in your advertisement a trick of the police; so that he will only conceal himself more carefully than ever.” But Daniel was not so easily shaken. If I thought he was really anxious for Miss Brandon’s hand”-- “I have heard it said, and I am sure it is so, the young man is one of those idiots whom vanity renders insane, and who do not know what to do in order to make themselves notorious.

Then there is another thing: Wilkie is only twenty-five years old; and you know a fellow at that age is likely to live a good deal longer than a lover who is beyond the sixties.” The way in which he said this lent to his words a terrible significance; and Daniel, turning pale, stammered out,-- “Great God! Do you think Miss Brandon could”-- “Could do anything, most assuredly,--except, perhaps, get into trouble with the police. I have heard her say that only fools employ poison or the dagger.” A strange smile passed over his lips; and he added in a tone of horrible irony,-- “It is true there are other means, less prompt, perhaps, but much safer, by which people may be removed when they become inconvenient. The same, no doubt, which she had employed to get rid of poor Kergrist, and that unlucky Malgat, the cashier of the Mutual Discount Society. Purely moral means, based upon her thorough knowledge of the character of her victims, and her own infernal power over them.” But Daniel tried in vain to obtain more light from his friend. Brevan answered evasively; perhaps because he did not dare to speak out freely, and reveal his real thoughts; or because it lay in his plans to be content with having added this horrible fear to all the other apprehensions of his friend. His embarrassment, just now unmistakable, had entirely disappeared, as if he had come to a final decision after long hesitation. He who had first advised all kinds of concessions now suggested the most energetic resistance, and seemed to be confident of success. When he at last left Daniel, he had made him promise to keep him hour by hour informed of all that might happen, and, above all, to try every means in his power to unmask Miss Brandon. “How he hates her!” said Daniel to himself when he was alone,--“how he hates her!” But this very hatred, which had already troubled him the night before, now disturbed him more and more, and kept him from coming to any decision.

The more he reflected, the more it seemed to him that Maxime had allowed himself to be carried away beyond what was probable, or even possible. The last accusation, especially, seemed to him perfectly monstrous. A young and beautiful woman, consumed by ambition and covetousness, might possibly play a comedy of pure love while she was disgusted in her heart. The same wicked, heartless woman might speculate upon becoming speedily a widow, and thus regaining her liberty, together with a large fortune. Deeply ensconced in his chair, he was losing himself in conjectures, forgetting how time passed, and how his work was waiting for him, even the invitation to dinner which the count had given to him, and the prospect of being introduced that very evening to Miss Brandon. Night came; and then only his concierge, who came in to see what had become of him all day long, aroused him from his torpor. “And Henrietta, who has been waiting for me--what must she think of me?” Miss Ville-Handry, at that very moment, had reached that degree of anxiety which becomes well-nigh intolerable. After having waited for Daniel all the evening of the day before, and after having spent a sleepless night, she had surely expected him to-day, counting the seconds by the beating of her heart, and starting at the noise of every carriage in the street. In her despair, knowing hardly what she was doing, she was thinking of running herself to University Street, to Daniel’s house, when the door opened. In the same indifferent tone in which he announced friends and enemies, the servant said,-- “M.

She was about to exclaim,-- “What has kept you? It had been sufficient for her to look at Daniel’s sad face to feel that a great misfortune had befallen her. you had been right in your fears,” she said, sinking into a chair.

“Alas!” “Speak: let me know all.” “Your father has come to me, and offered me your hand, Henrietta, provided I can obtain your consent to his marriage with Miss Brandon.

Now, listen to me; and then you can decide.” Faithful to his promise, he thereupon told her every thing he had learned from Maxime and the count, suppressing only those details which would have made the poor girl blush, and also that terrible charge which he was unwilling to believe. I should allow my father to marry such a creature? I should sit still and smile when such dishonor and such ruin are coming to a house over which my mother has presided! No; far be it from me ever to be so selfish! Never shall my hand touch hers. And, if my father persists, I shall ask him, the day before his wedding, to allow me to bury myself in a convent.” “He will not let you go.” “Then I shall shut myself up in my room, and never leave it again. He said,-- “But Miss Brandon will certainly not come alone to this house.” “Whom will she bring with her?” “Her relatives, M. to think that you should be exposed to the spite and the persecution of these wretches!” She raised her head proudly, and replied,-- “I am not afraid of them.” Then she added in a gentler tone,-- “Besides, won’t you always be near me, to advise me, and to protect me in case of danger?” “I?

Don’t you think they will try to part us soon enough?” “No, Daniel, I know very well that the house will no longer be open to you.” “Well?” The poor girl blushed up to the roots of her hair, and, turning her. eyes away from him to avoid his looks, she said,-- “Since they force us to do so, I must needs do a thing a girl, properly speaking, ought not to do. I shall have to stoop to win over one of my waiting-women, who may be discreet and obliging enough to aid me, and, through her, I will write to you, and receive your letters.” But this arrangement did not relieve Daniel from his terrible apprehensions. There was a question which constantly rose to his lips, and which still he did not dare to utter.

At last, making a great effort, he asked,-- “And then?” Henrietta understood perfectly what he meant.

She answered,-- “I thought you would be able to wait until the day should come when the law would authorize me to make my own choice.” “Henrietta!” She offered him her hand, and said solemnly,-- “And on that day, Daniel, I promise you, if my father still withholds his consent, I will ask you openly for your arm; and then, in broad daylight, before all the world, I shall leave this house never to re-enter it again.” As quick as thought, Daniel had seized her hand, and, carrying it to his lips, he said,--“Thanks! You restore me to hope.” Still, before abandoning the effort, he thought he would try one more measure; and for that purpose it was necessary that Henrietta should be induced to conceal her intentions as long as possible. He kissed his daughter, said a few words about rain and fine weather; and then, drawing Daniel into one of the windows, he asked-- “Have you spoken to her?” “Yes.” “Well?” “Miss Henrietta wants a few days to consider.” The count looked displeased, and said,-- “That is absurd. But Count Ville-Handry had already turned upon his heels; and the butler came to announce that dinner was on the table. It was promptly despatched; for the count seemed to be sitting on needles, and every minute looked at his watch. They had but just handed the coffee around, when he turned to Daniel, saying,-- “Let us make haste. But the count did not even give him time to take leave of Henrietta; he carried him off to his carriage, pushed him in, jumped in after him, and called out to the servant,--“Circus Street!

Nevertheless, on this evening Count Ville-Handry twice lowered the window to call out,-- “Don’t drive at a walk!” The fact is, that, in spite of his efforts to assume the air of a grave statesman, he was as impatient, and as vain of his love, as a young collegian hurrying to his first rendezvous with his beloved. To be sure, Daniel did not even listen. Half-buried in the corner of the well-padded carriage, he tried his best to control his emotions; for he was excited, more excited than ever in his life, by the thought that he was to see, face to face, this formidable adventuress, Miss Brandon. And like the wrestler, who, before making a decisive assault, gathers up all his strength, he summoned to his aid his composure and his energy. It took them not more than ten minutes to drive the whole distance to Circus Street.

And, without waiting for the steps to be let down, he jumped on the sidewalk, and, running ahead of his servants, knocked at the door of Miss Brandon’s house. In the meantime a servant had appeared, who took the count’s and Daniel’s coats, and showed them up stairs. When they reached the upper landing, the count stopped, as if his breath had been giving out of a sudden. The count only wished to say that “there” was the place where he had held Miss Brandon in his arms the day she had fainted. But Daniel had no time to ask any questions. Elgin.” “Very well,” said the count, speaking in a tone which showed that he considered himself perfectly at home in Miss Brandon’s house. It was a magnificent room; but every thing in it, from the carpet on the floor to the chandelier on the ceiling, betrayed the Puritanic taste of Mrs. Opposite the fireplace, in the place of honor, there stared at you a painting in a most costly gilt frame,--a horrible daub, representing a man of about fifty years, who wore a fancy uniform with enormous epaulets, a huge sword, a plumed hat, and a blue sash, into which two revolvers were thrust. Brandon, Miss Sarah’s father,” said Count Ville-Handry, in a tone of deep respect, which unnerved Daniel.

“As a work of art, this portrait leaves, no doubt, much to be wished for; but they say the likeness is excellent.” Certainly, though that might be so, there was no resemblance to be discovered between the tanned face of this American general and the blooming features of Miss Brandon. It looked to him like the work of an artist who had endeavored to imitate those wretched painters who live upon the vanity of weak men and little children. He thought he discovered by the side of gross inaccuracies unmistakable traces of a master’s hand; and especially one of the ears, half hid behind the hair, seemed to him admirably done. The doctor thinks there must be something the matter with the bone.” At the same time, obeying the tendency which we all have to display our ailments, he slightly drew up his trousers, so that the bandages became visible which he wore around his leg. Count Ville-Handry looked at it with pity; then, forgetting that he had introduced Daniel already the night before at the opera, he presented him once more; and, when the ceremony was over, he said to Sir Thorn,-- “Upon my word, I am almost ashamed to appear so early; but I knew you expected company to-night.” “Oh, only a few persons!” “And I desired to see you for a few moments alone.” A strange grimace represented the only smile of which the honorable gentleman was capable. He made it twice, and then said, caressing his primly-cut whiskers,-- “They have told Miss Sarah that you are here, my dear count; and I heard her tell Mrs. I cannot imagine how she can spend so much time at her toilet.” They were thus chatting away before the fireplace, Sir Thorn stretched out in an easy-chair, and the count leaning against the mantlepiece, while Daniel had withdrawn into the embrasure of a window which looked upon the court-yard and the garden behind the house.

If he did so, that fainting-fit might have been natural, and not prearranged; but”-- He was just plunging into these doubts and speculations, when the noise of a carriage entering the court-yard, aroused him from his thoughts. A coupe had driven up to the back porch of the house. He was unwilling to believe it, when she suddenly raised her head in order to speak to the coachman, and the light from the lamps fell full upon her face. At the opera, the night before, a single word uttered by Miss Brandon had sufficed to enlighten Daniel. It was a potent fact, unmistakable and tangible, which came to him in support of his suspicions. In order to increase the passionate impatience of the count, they had told him that Miss Brandon was still dressing, but that she was making all haste to come down to him. What new intrigues had compelled her to leave the house just then? It must have evidently been something of great importance to have kept her out till so late an hour, and when she knew, moreover, that the count was waiting for her. What their game really was, and how Count Ville-Handry had been caught in the trap, he now understood well enough; he would have been caught in it himself. How clever these actors were!

How marvellously well even the parlor was arranged to serve the purposes of the owners! As to the lame leg of Sir Thorn, Daniel no longer believed in it. But at the same time he marvelled at the self-denial of this gentleman, who, in order to prove a falsehood, consented to wear his leg bandaged up for months, as if it really had been severely injured. “And to-night,” said Daniel to himself, “the performance, no doubt, is to be specially artistic, as they expected me.” Still, like a duellist, who tries to regain all his strength after a sleepless night, Daniel was now fully prepared for the battle. He even returned to the fireplace, for fear that his standing alone, and his preoccupation, might betray his thoughts. He would live, he said, with his wife in the second story of his palace.

The first story was to be divided into two suites of apartments,--one for M. Brian; for he knew very well that his adored Sarah would never consent to part with her dear relatives, who had been father and mother to her. The last words remained in his throat; he stood as if he were petrified, his eyes starting from their sockets, his mouth wide open. Daniel was even more struck by her strange beauty to-day than at the opera; it was literally dazzling. She came smilingly up to Count Ville-Handry, and, offering him her brow to kiss, she said,-- “Do I look well, dear count?” He trembled from head to foot; and all he could do was to stretch out his lips, and to stammer in an almost ecstatic tone of voice,-- “Oh, beautiful! too beautiful!” “It has taken you long enough, I am sure,” said Sir Thorn severely,--“too long!” He might have known that Miss Brandon had accomplished a miracle of expeditiousness; for it was not a quarter of an hour since she returned to the house. But she had already turned round, with her hand outstretched towards Daniel,-- “I am so glad you have come, sir!” she said.

“I am sure we shall understand each other admirably.” She told him this with the softest possible voice; but, if he had known her better, he would have read in the way in which she looked at him, that her disposition towards him had entirely changed since yesterday; then she wished him well; now she hated him savagely. The servant announced some of the usual visitors; and she went to receive them. Ten o’clock struck; and from that moment the invited guests did not cease to arrive. It appeared that the gentlemen who showed themselves there--old men mostly, amply decorated with foreign orders, and young men in extravagantly fashionable costumes--were not free from suspicion; but they all belonged to Paris high-life, to that society, which, under a dazzlingly brilliant outside, conceals hideous crimes, and allows now and then traces of real misery to be seen through the rents in the splendid livery worn by its members. Some of these men stood, by the name they bore or the position they filled, high above the rest of the company; they were easily recognized by their haughty manner, and the intense deference with which their slightest remarks were received.

And to this crowd Count Ville-Handry displayed his good-fortune. He assumed all the airs of the master of the house; as if he had been in his own house, gave orders to the servants, and then, with mock modesty, went from group to group, eagerly picking up all the compliments he could gather on Miss Brandon’s beauty, and his own good luck. But in spite of the multitude of her admirers, and the number of compliments she received at every moment, she never for a moment lost sight of Daniel, watching him all the time stealthily, to read his thoughts in his features.

Once she even shocked the crowd of her worshippers by suddenly leaving her place in order to ask him why he held himself so aloof, and whether he felt indisposed. Then, seeing that he was a perfect stranger here, she was good enough to point out to him some of the most remarkable men in the crowd. In doing this, she was so anxious to make him aware of her distinguished friends, that Daniel began to think she must have divined his intentions, and thus indirectly defied him, as if she had said in so many words,-- “You see what friends I have, and how they would defend me if you should dare to attack me.” Nevertheless, he was not discouraged, being fully aware of all the difficulties of his undertaking, and having long since counted up all the obstacles in his way. While the conversation was going on around him, he arranged in his head a plan, which, he hoped, would enable him to find out the antecedents of this dangerous adventuress.

These thoughts preoccupied him to such a degree, that he did not become aware how the rooms became gradually empty. Then Miss Brandon arose, and, coming up to Daniel, said to him,-- “Will you grant me ten minutes’ conversation, sir?” He prepared to follow her, when Mrs. Brian interposed, saying a few words in a tone of reproach to her niece. Daniel knew enough English to understand that she said,-- “What you are doing is highly improper, Sarah.” “Shocking!” added M. But she shrugged her shoulders slightly, and replied in English,-- “My dear count alone would have a right to judge my conduct; and he has authorized me to do what I am doing.” Then turning to Daniel, she said to him in French,-- “Come with me, sir.” IX. Miss Sarah led Daniel to a small boudoir adjoining her own room. In the windows stood large vases filled with flowers; and the light bamboo chairs were covered with the same bright silk with which the walls were hung. She sat down on a small sofa and began, after a short pause,-- “My aunt was right; it would have been more proper for me to convey to you through M. Elgin what I want to say.

But I have the independence of all the girls of my country; and, when my interests are at stake, I trust no one but myself.” She was bewitching in her ingenuousness as she uttered these words with the air of a little child who looks cunning, and determined to undertake something that appears quite formidable. “I am told that my dear count has been to see you this afternoon,” she continued, “and you have heard that in less than a month I shall be the Countess Ville-Handry?” Daniel was surprised. “Now, sir,” continued Miss Brandon, “I wish to hear from your own lips whether you see--any--objections to this match.” She spoke so frankly, that it was evident she was utterly unconscious of that article in the code of social laws which prescribes that a French girl must never mention the word “marriage” without blushing to the roots of her hair. “I confess,” he replied with much hesitation, “that I do not understand, that I cannot possibly explain to myself, why you do me the honor”-- “To consult you? Have they not promised you Miss Ville-Handry’s hand?” “The count has permitted me to hope”-- “He has pledged his word, sir, under certain conditions. My dear count has told me every thing.

I speak, therefore, to Count Ville-Handry’s son-in-law, and I repeat, Do you see any objections to this match?” The question was too precisely put to allow of any prevarication. Will you promise me to use your influence in trying to persuade her to change her disposition towards me?” Never had honest Daniel Champcey been tried so hard. He answered diplomatically,-- “I am afraid you overestimate my influence.” She looked at him suddenly with such a sharp and penetrating glance that he felt almost startled, and then said,-- “I do not ask of you to succeed, only promise me upon your honor that you will do your best, and I shall be very much obliged to you. The situation was so exceptional, Daniel had at all cost to lull the enemy into security for a time, and for a moment he was inclined to pledge his honor. Nay, more than that, he made an effort to do it.

But his lips refused to utter a false oath. “You see,” resumed Miss Brandon very coldly, “you see you were deceiving me.” And, turning away from him, she hid her face in her hands, apparently overcome by grief, and repeated in a tone of deep sorrow,-- “What a disgrace! A mean man would not have hesitated at an oath, however determined he might have been not to keep it. “I understand.” She made a supreme effort not to break out in sobs; and big tears, resembling diamonds of matchless beauty, rolled slowly down from between her long, trembling eyelashes.

They have, no doubt, told you that I am an adventuress, come from nowhere; that my father, the brave defender of the Union, exists only in the painting in my parlor; that no one knows where my income comes from; that Thorn, that noble soul, and Mrs. Confess, you have been told all that, and you have believed it.” Grand in her wrath, her cheeks burning, her lips trembling, she rose, and added in a tone of bitter sarcasm,-- “Ah! When people are called upon to admire a noble deed, they refuse to believe, they insist upon inquiring before they admire, they examine carefully. But, if they are told something bad, they dispense with that ceremony; however monstrous the thing may appear, however improbable it may sound, they believe it instantly. They would not touch a child; but they do not hesitate to repeat a slander which dishonors a woman, and kills her as surely as a dagger. If I were a man, and had been told that Miss Brandon was an adventuress, I would have been bent upon ascertaining the matter. Brandon, and they would have told me what sort of a man their chief had been. I should have examined the oil-regions of Pennsylvania; and I would have learned there that the petroleum-wells belonging to M.

To enable her to speak with such energy and in such a tone, she must either be possessed of unsurpassed impudence, or--he had to confess it--be innocent. Overcome by the effort she had made, she had sunk back upon the sofa, and continued in a lower tone of voice, as if speaking to herself,-- “But have I a right to complain? Thorn has told me so often enough, and I would not believe him. I was not twenty years old when I came to Paris, after my poor father’s death. They tell us at home, all the time, that it is our first duty to be truthful. We are taught not to blush, except when we have done wrong; they are taught all the appearances of false prudishness. In France, they work hard to save appearances; with us, we aim at reality. In Philadelphia, I did every thing I chose to do, provided I did not think it was wrong.

I went alone to church, to pray to God. If I wanted any thing for my toilet, I sent for the carriage, and drove out, alone, to buy it. When a man spoke to me, I did not feel bound to cast down my eyes; and, if he was amusing and witty, I laughed. And after I had been here a year, they said that Malgat, that wretch”-- She jumped up as she said this, ran up to Daniel, and, seizing him by the hands, she said,-- “Malgat! Have they talked to you about Malgat?” And, as he hesitated to answer, she added:-- “Ah, answer me! Don’t you see that your hesitation is an insult?” “Well--yes.” As if in utter despair, she raised her hands to heaven, calling God, as it were, to witness, and asking for inspiration from on high. Then she added suddenly,-- “But I have proofs, irrefutable proofs of Malgat’s rascality.” And, without waiting for another word, she hurried into the adjoining room. Daniel, moved to the bottom of his heart, remained standing where he was, immovable, like a statue. He was utterly confounded and overcome by the charm of that marvellous voice, which passed through the whole gamut of passion with such a sonorous ring, and yet with such sweet languor, that it seemed by turns to sob and to threaten, to sigh with sadness and to thunder with wrath. “What a woman!” he said to himself, repeating thus unconsciously the words uttered by M.

She resumed her seat on the sofa; and in that brief, sharp tone which betrays terrible passions restrained with a great effort, she said,-- “Before all, I must thank you, M. Champcey, for your frankness, since it enables me to defend myself. I knew that slander had attacked me; I felt it, so to say, in the air I was breathing; but I had never been able yet to take hold of it. Now, for the first time, I can face it; and I owe it to you that I am able to defy it. Listen, therefore; for I swear to you by all that is most sacred to me, by the memory of my sainted mother, I swear to you solemnly, that you shall hear the truth, and nothing but the truth.” She had opened the box, and was eagerly searching something among the papers inside. He found him an exceedingly obliging man, and, to show his appreciation, invited him to dine here. Elgin how sure I was this man would turn out a bad man, and that he ought not to trust him in money-matters.” Daniel listened with breathless attention. Brian, I remember distinctly, scolded me, saying it was very wrong to judge a man by his appearance, and that there were very honest men in the world who had yellow eyes.

Elgin did not know Paris, and had money to invest, he advised him what to do. Elgin took it into his head to try some small speculations on ‘change, M. She handed them to Daniel, saying,-- “And, if you do not believe what I say, look at this.” There were a dozen square bits of paper, on which Malgat had reported the result of his operations on ‘change, which he carried on on account of, and with the money of, M. Read it, sir, and read it aloud.” Daniel took the letter, and read,-- “‘Paris, Dec.

Dear Sir,--It is to you alone, the most honorable among men, that I can make the terrible confession that I have committed a crime. Employed by you in your speculations, I have given way to temptation, and have speculated on my own account. One loss brought about another, I lost my head; I hoped to recover my money; and now, at this hour, I owe more than ten thousand dollars, which I have taken from the safe of the society.

Will you be so generous as to lend me that sum? I may not be able to return it in less than six or seven years; but I will repay you, I swear it, with interest. Sent to M. ten thousand dollars, to be drawn from funds deposited with the Mutual Discount Society. No interest to be paid.” “And that,” stammered Daniel, “that is the man”-- “Whom they charge me with having turned aside from the paths of honesty; yes, sir! Now you learn to know him. I can find no words to convey to you the exaggerated expressions of his gratitude. He refused to shake hands with M. He spoke of nothing but of his devotion unto death. Elgin carried his generosity to an extreme.

He, a model of honesty, who would have starved to death rather than touch the gold intrusted to his care,--he consoled Malgat, finding all kinds of apology for him, telling him, that, after all, he was not so very much to blame, that there were temptations too strong to be resisted, and repeating even those paradoxical principles which have been specially invented as an apology for thieves. He continued to invite him, and urged him to come and dine with us as heretofore.” She stopped, laughing in a nervous manner, which was painful to hear, and then continued, in a hoarse voice,-- “Do you know, M. Read this note; it will restore me in your esteem, I trust.” It was another letter written by Malgat to M.

“Thanks to false entries, I have been able to conceal my defalcations until now; but I can do so no longer. The board of directors have begun to suspect me; and the president has just told me that tomorrow the books will be examined.

“I ought to kill myself, I know; but I have not the courage to do so. I venture to ask you to furnish me the means of escaping from this country. I beseech you on my knees, in the name of all that is dear to you, for mercy’s sake; for I am penniless, and cannot even pay the fare on the railway as far as the frontier. Nor can I return to my house; for I am watched.

The scamp!” Daniel could not have uttered a word to save his life; he was too fearfully excited. Elgin was so indignant, that he forgot his usual reserve, and told us everything. I felt only pity for the poor man; and I besought him to give the wretch the means to escape.

Seeing, however, how excited I was, he tried to reassure me by telling me that Malgat would certainly not come, that he would not dare to expect an answer to such a letter.” She pressed both her hands on her heart, as if to still its beating; and then continued, in a weak voice,-- “Nevertheless, he came, and, seeing his hopes disappointed, he insisted upon speaking to us. They had to employ force to drag him out; and, as they pushed him down stairs, he threatened us with his fist, and swore that he would be avenged.” Miss Brandon shuddered till she appeared to be all in a quiver; and, for a moment, Daniel thought she was going to be ill.

But she made an effort to overcome her weakness; and, in a more decided tone, she continued,-- “Forty-eight hours passed; and the impression of this horrible scene began to fade from our minds, till it appeared like a bad dream. If we mentioned Malgat at all, it was with pity and contempt; for what could he do to us? Even if he should dare to accuse us of some great crime, we thought no one would listen to him, and we should never hear of it. How could we imagine that the world would set to work doubting our honor upon the mere word of a wretch like him? “His crime had, in the meantime, become known; and all the papers were full of it, adding a number of more or less reliable stories. They exaggerated the sums he had stolen; and they said he had succeeded in escaping to England, and that the police had lost his traces in London.

Where could he have found people mean enough to serve his purposes? Brian suggested, than to address two or three anonymous letters to some of our acquaintances, who he knew did not like us, or envied us. “At all events, in less than a week after his disappearance, it was reported everywhere, that I, Sarah Brandon, had been an accomplice of this defaulter, and, worse than that, that the sums he had stolen might easily be found, if a certain bureau in my bedchamber could be searched.

“Soon the papers took it up. They repeated the facts, arranging them to suit their purpose, and alluding to me in a thousand infamous innuendoes. They said that Malgat’s defalcation was after the American style, and that it was perfectly natural he should go to a foreign country, after having been associated with a certain foreign lady.” She had become crimson all over; her bosom rose; and shame, indignation, and resentment alternately appeared on her face, changing finally into an ardent desire of vengeance. I was ordered to appear before a magistrate. Brian and myself beseech him, on our knees, not to leave the house until he had grown cooler. “We were at the end of our endurance, having suffered all the tortures of anxiety, when, at last, near midnight, M. He had found no one willing even to listen to him; everybody telling him that he was much too good to give a thought to such infamous reports; that they were too absurd to be believed.” She nearly gave way, sobs intercepting her words; but she mastered her emotion, and continued,-- “The next day I went to the court-house; and, after being kept waiting for a long time in a dark passage, I was brought before the magistrate. I shall be eternally grateful to him for the words he said when I left his office,-- “‘Poor, poor young girl! Would to God that the world could be made to do the same!’” She fixed her eyes, trembling with fear and hope, upon Daniel, and added, in a voice of supplication and touching humility,-- “The world has been more cruel than justice itself but you, sir, will you be harder than the magistrate?” Alas!

Daniel was sorely embarrassed what to answer. Champcey!” She continued to fix her eyes upon him. Ah, if you do, take them; for I do not hesitate to confide them, the only proofs of my innocence, to your honor. Take them and show them to the other clerks who have been sitting for twenty years in the same office with Malgat; and they will tell you that it is his handwriting; that he has signed his own condemnation. And, if that is not enough for you, go to the magistrate who examined me; his name is Patrigent.” And she waited, waited, but not a word came forth. Daniel had sunk, undone, into a chair; and his elbow resting on a small stand, his brow in his hands, he endeavored to think, to reason. Then Miss Brandon rose, came gently up to him, and taking his hand, said softly,-- “I beseech you!” But as if suddenly electrified by the touch of this soft, warm hand, Daniel rose so hastily, that he upset the chair; and, trembling with mysterious terror, he cried out,-- “Kergrist!” It was as if a fearful insult had set Miss Brandon on fire. “Oh!” she murmured, “oh!” finding, apparently, no words to express all she felt. It looked as if she thought of it, for she walked to the door; but, suddenly changing her mind, she came back to where she had stood, facing Daniel.

“This is the first time in my life,” she said, trembling with rage, “that I condescend to justify myself against such infamous charges; and you abuse my patience by heaping insult after insult upon me. I look upon you as upon Henrietta’s husband; and, since I have commenced, I mean to finish.” Daniel tried to say a few words of apology; but she interrupted him,-- “Well, yes; one night a young man, Charles de Kergrist,--a profligate, a gambler, crowning his scandalous life with the vilest and meanest act,--did come and kill himself under my window. Elgin to account. He committed suicide because he had lost his fortune at Homburg and at Baden; because he had exhausted his last resources; because his family, ashamed at his disgrace, refused to acknowledge him any longer.

And, if he chose my window for his self-murder, it was because he wanted to satisfy a petty grievance. Looking upon me as an heiress, whose fortune would enable him to continue his extravagant life, he had courted me, and been refused by M. Finally, at the time when the catastrophe occurred, I was sixty miles away from here, in Tours, staying at the house of one of M. I have none to give you. de Kergrist’s brother; for, after those explanations, he has continued to be our friend, sir, one of our best friends. And he was here to-night, and you have seen him; for he came and spoke to me while you were standing by me.

Elgin will give you his address.” She looked at Daniel with a glance in which pity and contempt were strangely mixed, and then added, in her proudest tone,-- “And now, sir, since I have deigned to stand here like a criminal, do you sit in judgment on me. What else are you going to charge me with?” A judge, however, ought to be calm; and Daniel was but too conscious of his deep excitement; he knew he could not even prevent his features from expressing his utter bewilderment. He gave up all discussion therefore, and simply said,-- “I believe you, Miss Brandon, I believe you.” Miss Brandon’s beautiful eyes lighted up for a moment with joy; and in a tone of voice which sounded like the echo of her heart, she said,-- “Oh, thank you, sir! He said sternly, thus proving his anger at himself, and the failure of his judgment,-- “Permit me not to reply to that to-night.

I should like to consider.” She looked at him half stupefied. Perhaps you wish to consult one of my enemies?” She spoke in a tone of such profound disdain, that Daniel, stung to the quick, forgot the discretion which he had intended to observe, and said,-- “Since you insist upon it, Miss Brandon, I must confess that there is one doubt which you have not removed.” “Which?” Daniel hesitated, regretting the words he had allowed to escape him.

But he had gone too far now to retract. The count is sixty-six years old.” She, who had been so daring that nothing seemed to be able to disconcert her, now lowered her head like a timid boarding-school girl who has been caught acting contrary to rules; and a flood of crimson spread over her face, and every part of her figure which was not concealed by her dress.

“You are cruel, sir!” she stammered; “the secret into which you pry is one of those which a girl hardly dares to confide to her mother.” He was triumphant, thinking he had caught her at last. This confession seemed to him the height of imprudence. “I do not love him,--at least not with real love; and I have never allowed him to hope for such a feeling.

Still I shall be most happy to become his wife. Do not expect me to explain to you what is going on within me. I can give no precise name to that feeling of sympathy which attracts me towards him. “And,” she continued, “if you must have motives of more ordinary character, I will confess to you that I can no longer endure this life, harassed as I am by vile calumnies. The palace of Count Ville-Handry appears to me an asylum, where I shall bury my disappointments and my sorrows, and where I shall find peace and a position which commands respect. I shall bear it worthily and nobly, and shrink from no sacrifice to enhance its splendor. I dare say I am; but I see nothing mean or disgraceful in my hopes.” Daniel had thought he had confounded her, and it was she who crushed him by her bold frankness; for there was nothing to say, no reasonable objection to make.

Miss Brandon, however, was not a woman to be easily overcome. She rose as she spoke, to her former haughtiness, and inspired herself with the sound of her voice. “During the last two years,” she said, “I have had twenty offers; and among them three or four that would have been acceptable to a duchess. And why?” She remained a moment buried in thought, her eyes swimming in tears; and, answering apparently her own questions, rather than Daniel’s, she went on,-- “Thanks to my beauty, as the world calls it, a fatal beauty, alas! I have been admired, courted, filled to satiety with compliments. I had dreamed of better things to come. to repay the love of such a man, I would have found treasures in my heart, which now remain useless, like all the wealth that is buried at the bottom of the sea. “But how proud I would have been, I, his wife, of his success and of his glories, of the reverence paid him by his admirers, and the hatred of his enemies!” Her voice had vibrations in it that might have stirred up the heart of a stoic.

And gradually, one by one, Daniel’s suspicions vanished, or fell to pieces like the ill-jointed pieces of an ancient armor. And yet I see you today for the first time in my life. And yet you are the first man who has ever dared to speak harshly to me, harsh unto insult. I know you to be a man of honor and of high principles; I know how, in order to save a name which you revere, you have risked your prospects in life, the girl you love, and an enormous fortune. Yes, Miss Ville-Handry has made no ordinary choice.” She looked as if she were utterly despondent, and added, in a tone of concentrated rage,-- “And I, I know my fate.” Then followed a pause, a terrible pause. They were standing face to face, pale, troubled, trembling with excitement, their teeth firmly set, their eyes eloquent with deep feeling. Daniel, as he felt the hot breath of this terrible passion, became almost unconscious of the surroundings; his mind was shaken; a mysterious delirium took possession of his senses; the blood rushed to his head; and he felt as if the beating at his temples was ringing in the whole house. And once more, sir, I beseech you induce Miss Henrietta to receive me like an elder sister.

And yet I beg,--I who am accustomed to command everywhere. Do you want to see me at your feet? “Great God!” she sighed, “to be rejected, by him!” Her hair had become partially loosened, and fell in masses on Daniel’s hands. He trembled from head to foot; and, bending over Miss Brandon, he raised her, and held her, half lifeless, while her head rested on his shoulder. They were so near to each other, that their breaths mingled, and Daniel felt Miss Brandon’s sobs on his heart, burning him like fiery flames. You may count upon me.” And he rushed out like a madman, down the staircase, taking three steps at once, and, finding the house-door open, out into the street. 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. But, when he had gone some distance, the motion, the cold night-air, and the keen wind playing in his hair, restored him to consciousness. Then he remembered that Count Ville-Handry was waiting for him in the great reception-room, together with M. There might have been a way to escape from that hell; and he himself, in his madness, had closed it forever.

Like the drunkard, who, when he is sobered, tries to recall the foolish things he may have done under the guidance of King Alcohol, Daniel conjured up one by one all his emotions during the hour which he had just spent by Miss Brandon’s side,--an hour of madness which would weigh heavily upon his future fate, and which alone contained in its sixty minutes more experiences than his whole life so far.

He had been warned, put on his guard, made fully aware of all of Miss Brandon’s tricks; they had told him of the weird charm of her eyes; he himself had caught her that very evening in the open act of deceiving others. “Fool!” he said to himself, “what have I done?” Unmindful of the blast of the tempest, and of the snow which had begun to fall, he had sat down on the steps of one of the grandest houses in Circus Street, and, with his elbows on his knees, he pressed his brow with his hands, as if hoping that he might thus cause it to suggest to him some plan of salvation. Conjuring up the whole energy of his will, he tried to retrace his interview with Miss Brandon in order to find out by what marvellous transformation it had begun as a terrible combat, and ended as a love-scene. And recalling thus to his memory all she had told him in her soft, sweet voice, he asked himself if she had not really been slandered; and, if there was actually something amiss in her past life, why should it not rather be laid at the door of those two equivocal personages who watched over her, M. Could she have told Daniel more pointedly than she had actually done, “He whom I could love is none other but you”? And as he thought of it his heart was filled with a sense of eager and unwholesome desires; for he was a man, no better, no worse, than other men; and there are but too many men nowadays, who would value a few hours of happiness with a woman like Miss Brandon more highly than a whole life of chaste love by the side of a pure and noble woman.

“But what is that to me?” he repeated. “Can I love her, I?” Then he began again to revolve in his mind what might have happened after his flight from the house. And, drawn by an invincible power, Daniel had risen to return to the house; and there, half-hid under the shadow of the opposite side, in a deep doorway, he watched anxiously the windows, as if they could have told him any thing of what was going on inside. A low coupe with a single horse left the house, and drove rapidly towards the Champs Elysees. 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.

But Daniel was agile; and the hope of being able to avenge himself at once gave him unheard-of strength. But no carriage was to be seen. His elbows close to the body, managing his breath, and steadily measuring his steps, he succeeded in not only following the coupe, but in actually gaining ground. But there the coachman touched the horse, which suddenly increased its pace, crossed the square, and trotted down Royal Street. He was on the point of giving up the pursuit, when he saw a cab coming down towards him from the Madeleine, the driver fast asleep on the box. He threw himself before the horses, and cried out as well as he could,-- “Driver, a hundred francs for you, if you follow that coupe down there!” But the driver, suddenly aroused by a man who stood in the middle of the street, bareheaded, and in evening costume, and who offered him such an enormous sum, thought it was a practical joke attempted by a drunken man, and replied furiously,-- “Look out, rascal!

To attempt overtaking it now would have been folly indeed; and Daniel remained there, overwhelmed and defeated. It occurred to him that he might hasten to Maxime, and ask him for advice. He went slowly back to his lodgings, and threw himself into an arm-chair, determined not to go to bed till he had found a way to extricate himself from the effects of his egregious folly. But he had now been for two days agitated by the extremest alternatives, like a man out at sea, whom the waves buffet, and throw--now up to the shore, and now back again into open water. He had not closed an eye for forty-eight hours; and, if the heart seems to be able to suffer almost indefinitely, our physical strength is strictly limited. Thus he fell asleep, dreaming even in his sleep that he was hard at work, and just about to discover the means by which he could penetrate the mystery of Miss Brandon. Had his peaceful and monotonous life in his office during the last two years weakened him to such a point, that all the springs of his system had lost their power? he knew not that the direst fatigue is trifling in comparison with that deep moral excitement which shakes the human system to its most mysterious depths. Nevertheless, while he hastened to kindle a large fire, in order to warm himself, he felt that the rest had done him good. Now his folly appeared to him so utterly inexplicable, that, if he had but tasted a glass of lemonade at Miss Brandon’s house, he should have been inclined to believe that they had given him one of those drugs which set the brains on fire, and produce a kind of delirium.

He was thus busy trying to analyze the future, when his servant entered, as he did every morning, bringing his hat and overcoat on his arm. “Sir,” he said, with a smile which he tried to render malicious, “you have forgotten these things at the house where you spent the evening yesterday.

A servant--on horseback too--brought them. He handed me at the same time this letter, and is waiting for an answer.” Daniel took the letter, and for a minute or more examined the direction. At last he tore the envelope; and at once a penetrating but delicate perfume arose, which he had inhaled, he knew but too well, in Miss Brandon’s rooms.

The letter was indeed from her, and on the top of the page bore her name, Sarah, in small blue Gothic letters. You told me so tonight. Miss Brandon had told him that she was imprudence personified; and here she gave him a positive proof of it. And, sitting down at his bureau, he wrote to Miss Brandon,-- “Certainly, Miss Brandon, I remember the promises you extorted from me when I was not master of myself; I remember them but too well.” Suddenly an idea struck him; and he paused. Having been caught already in the very first trap she had prepared for his inexperience, was he to risk falling into a second? He tore the letter he had commenced into small pieces, and, turning to his servant, said,-- “Tell the man that I am out; and make haste and get me a carriage!” Then, when he was once more alone, he murmured,-- “Yes, it is better so. It is much better to leave Miss Brandon in uncertainty. She thinks I am still in the dark; let her believe it.” Still this letter of hers seemed to prepare some new intrigue, which troubled Daniel excessively. “I must consult Brevan.” On his writing-table he found that important and urgent work which the minister had intrusted to his hands still unfinished. He went down, therefore; and, while his carriage drove to his friend’s house, he thought of the surprise he would cause Maxime.

de Brevan standing in his shirt- sleeves before an immense marble table, covered all over with pots and bottles, with brushes, combs, and sponges, with pincers, polishers, and files, making his toilet. If he expected Daniel, he had not expected him so soon; for his features assumed an expression which seemed to prohibit all confidential talk. He shook hands with his friend, and, sinking heavily into a chair, he said,-- “I went to Miss Brandon. Then, without hesitation, and with all the minutest details, Daniel told him how Miss Brandon had taken him into her little boudoir, and how she had exculpated herself from all complicity with Malgat by showing him the letters written by that wretched man. But do you imagine that brother is any cleverer than you are?” Although he was by no means fully satisfied, Daniel went on, describing his amazement when Miss Brandon told him that she did not love Count Ville-Handry. She painted to you the phoenix in such colors, that you had to say to yourself, ‘What does she mean? He stammered,-- “How did you know?” Maxime could not look him in the face; but his voice was as steady as ever when he replied, in a tone of bitterest sarcasm,-- “I guess it. She has only one card in her hand; but that is enough; it always makes a trick.” To have been deceived, and even to have been rendered ridiculous, is one of those misfortunes which we confess to ourselves, however painful the process may be; but to hear another person laugh at us after such a thing has happened is more than we can readily bear. And that, thanks to her; for she herself has destroyed my illusions.” “Pshaw!” “Unconsciously, of course, having ran away from her like a fool, I was wandering about in the streets near her house, when I saw her come out in her coupe.” “Oh, come!” “I saw her as distinctly as I see you. de Brevan was breathing more freely, and said in an easy tone,-- “That is provoking, and you have lost a fine opportunity.

I am, however, by no means astonished that you are at last enlightened.” “Oh! Still making an effort, he replied,-- “Well, I am asking myself whether all that Miss Brandon states about her childhood, her family, and her fortune, might not, after all, be true.” Maxime looked like a sensible man who is forced to listen to the absurd nonsense of an insane person. “Perhaps I am; but, then, do me the favor to explain to me how Miss Brandon, anxious as she must be to conceal her past, could herself point out to me the means to ascertain every thing about her, and even to learn the precise amount of her income? de Brevan’s face no longer expressed astonishment; he looked absolutely bewildered. “What!” he cried out, “could you seriously think of undertaking a trip to America?” “Why not?” “To be sure, my dear friend, you are, in all sincerity, too naive for our age. have you not yet been able to divine Miss Brandon’s plan? When she saw you, and had taken your measure, she said to herself, ‘Here is an excellent young man who is in my way, excessively in my way; he must go and breathe a better air a few thousand miles off.’ And thereupon she suggested to you that pleasant trip to America.” After what Daniel had learned about Miss Brandon’s character, this explanation sounded by no means improbable.

He objected to it thus:-- “Whether I go or stay, the wedding will still take place. That is what I cannot find out, to save my life.

I want no better evidence of it than the fact that she wrote to me this morning.” M. She has written to you?” “Yes; it is that accursed letter, more than any thing else, that brings me here. A note, and such an indiscreet note, from her who never writes!” He looked upon Daniel as if he wished to penetrate his innermost thoughts, and then asked him, weighing his words with the utmost care,-- “If she should really love you, what would you say?” Daniel looked disgusted. He replied,--“It is hardly generous in you to make sport of me, Maxime. I may be a fool; but I am not an idiot, to be conceited to that degree.” “That is no answer to my question,” said Brevan; “and I repeat my question. if you hate her so bitterly, you are very near loving her.” “I despise her; and without esteem”-- “That is an old story. de Brevan had at last finished his careful toilet. He put on a dressing-gown; and, carrying Daniel with him into the small room which he used as a dressing-room, he asked,-- “And what have you said in reply to that note?” “Nothing.” M. de Brevan had thrown himself into a comfortable chair, and assumed the careful air of a physician who has been consulted.

He nodded, and said,-- “You have done well, and for the future I advise you to pursue the same plan. Can you do any thing to prevent Miss Brandon from carrying out her purposes? It is not only your own interest to act thus, but also Miss Henrietta’s interest. The day on which they part you, you will be inconsolable; but you will also be free to act. She, on the other hand, will be forced to live under the same roof with Miss Brandon; and you do not know what a stepmother can do to torture the child of her husband!” Daniel trembled. Brevan continued,-- “For the present, the most important thing is to find out how your flight has been explained. We may be able to draw our conclusions from what has been said on the subject.” “I’ll go at once and try to find out,” said Daniel. And, after having affectionately shaken hands with Maxime, he hurried down to his carriage and drove as fast as he could to Count Ville- Handry’s palace. And certainly he had enough to excite and preoccupy him just now.

When he saw Daniel, he paused for a moment, and, crossing his arms on his breast, he said, in a terrible tone,-- “Ah! Who else has overwhelmed poor Miss Sarah with insults at the very time when she was trying to explain every thing to you? Who else, ashamed of his scandalous conduct, has run away, never daring to reappear at her house?” What had the count been told? Miss Brandon has been seized with such a terrible nervous attack, that they had to send the carriage for a doctor.

They would, of course, never have allowed me to enter her own room; but from the reception-room I could at times hear her painful cries and sobs. Brian, taking pity on my great grief, granted me the favor to see her, sleeping like an infant.” Daniel listened, stupefied by amazement, utterly confounded by the impudence of Sir Thorn and Mrs.

Brian, and hardly able to understand the count’s astonishing credulity. He thought to himself,-- “This is abominable!

The thought of doing so occurred to Daniel. And thus he would only add new difficulties to his position, which was already complicated enough. Still he tried to excuse himself, and began,-- “I am too much of a gentleman to insult a woman.” The count interrupted him rudely, saying,-- “Spare me, I pray, a rigmarole which cannot affect me. I know the heart of man too well not to be sure, that, in acting thus, you have followed much less the inspirations of your own heart than the suggestions made by my daughter.” It might have been very dangerous for Henrietta to allow the count to cherish such thoughts. Daniel, therefore, tried once more to explain.

I mean to make an end to this absurd opposition, and to break it forever. and do they propose to treat me like a servant, and to laugh at me, into the bargain? To think that I could not spare her such a humiliation! I have just sent for my daughter to tell her that the day for the wedding is fixed. “You wish to speak to me, papa?” she said as she entered the room. “Yes.” Greeting Daniel with a sweet glance of her eyes, Henrietta walked up to the count, and offered him her forehead to kiss; but he pushed her back rudely, and said, assuming an air of supreme solemnity,-- “I have sent for you, my daughter, to inform you that to-morrow fortnight I shall marry Miss Brandon.” Henrietta must have been prepared for something of the kind, for she did not move. The count went on,-- “Under these circumstances, it is not proper, it is hardly decent, that you should not know her who is to be your mother hereafter.

I shall therefore present you to her this very day, in the afternoon.” The young girl shook her head gently, and then she said,-- “No!” Count Ville-Handry had become very red. What would you say if I threatened to carry you forcibly to Miss Brandon’s house?” “I, should say, father, that that is the only way to make me go there.” Her attitude was firm, though not defiant. She spoke in a calm, gentle voice, but betrayed in every thing a resolution firmly formed, and not to be shaken by any thing. The count seemed to be perfectly amazed at this audacity shown by a girl who was usually so timid. I only know that she cannot become the Countess Ville-Handry,--she who has filled all Paris with evil reports.” “Who has told you so?

Champcey.” “Everybody has told me, father.” “So, because she has been slandered, the poor girl”-- “I am willing to think she is innocent; but the Countess Ville-Handry must not be a slandered woman.” She raised herself to her full height, and added in a higher voice,-- “You are master here, father; you can do as you choose. But I--I owe it to myself and to the sacred memory of my mother, to protest by all the means in my power; and I shall protest.” The count stammered and stared. The blood rose to his head. Daniel Champcey to Miss Brandon, to insult her at her own house.” “Sir!” interrupted M.

Daniel in a threatening tone. You are afraid of losing a part of your inheritance.” Stung by this insult, Henrietta had stepped up close to her father,-- “But don’t you see, father, that it is this woman who wants your fortune, and that she does not like us, and cannot like us?” “Why, if you please?” Once before, Count Ville-Handry had asked this question of his daughter in almost the same words. She seized her father’s hand, and, carrying him to a mirror, she said in a hoarse voice,-- “‘Why?’--you ask. But he had allowed art to spoil every thing. If I find you dressed, and ready to accompany me to Miss Brandon’s house, all right. Now I leave you alone; you can reflect!” And he went out, closing the door so violently, that the whole house seemed to shake.

Daniel was the first to shake off the stupor of despair; and, taking Henrietta’s hand, he asked her,-- “You have heard what your father said. And, looking at Daniel with grieved surprise, she added,-- “Would you really dare give me that advice,--you who had only to look at Miss Brandon to lose your self-control so far as to overwhelm her with insults?” “Henrietta, I swear”-- “And this to such an extent, that father accused you of having done so at my bidding. What punishment he had to endure for a moment’s forgetfulness! And now, at this very hour, he was put into a still more difficult position, because he could not even give a glimpse of the true state of things. “You see,” she said, “that if your heart condemns me, your reason and your conscience approve of my decision.” He made no reply, but, rising suddenly, he began to walk up and down in the room like a wild beast searching for some outlet from the cage in which it has been imprisoned. And at last it looked as if Henrietta’s determination were giving way, and she began to hesitate. It was so; but she was still struggling against her own emotion, and said in a half-suppressed tone,-- “No doubt, Daniel, you think I am not yet wretched enough.” And then, fixing upon him a long, anxious glance, she added,-- “Say no more, or I shall begin to fear that you are dreading the time which has still to elapse till we can be united, and that you doubt me--or yourself.” He blushed, finding himself thus half detected; but, given up entirely to sinister presentiments, he insisted,-- “No, I do not doubt; but I cannot reconcile myself to the idea that you are going to live under the same roof with Miss Brandon, M. I have in Anjou an old respectable kinswoman, who will be very proud to offer you her hospitality.” Henrietta stopped him by a gesture.

Then she said,-- “In other words, I who risk my happiness in order to avoid a blot upon the name of Ville-Handry, I should tarnish it in an almost ineffaceable manner. The more formidable Miss Brandon is, the more it becomes my duty to remain here in order to watch over my father.” Daniel trembled. de Brevan had told him of the means employed by Miss Brandon for the purpose of getting rid of troublesome people. “The servants had told him that their master was out. He became angry, and began to talk so loud, that I came to see what was the matter. When he saw me, and found out who I was, he at once became very quiet, and begged me to take charge of a rough copy of a legal paper, which he had been directed to prepare secretly, and which he desired me to hand to my father. “I promised to do so; but, as I was carrying the paper up stairs to put it upon my father’s bureau, I happened to look at it. The statutes of a new society, of which father was to be president.” “Great God! I saw on the top of the paper, ‘Count Ville-Handry, director in chief’ and after the name followed all his titles, the high offices he has filled, and the French and foreign decorations which he has received.” Daniel could no longer doubt.

He said,-- “We knew that they would try to obtain possession of your father’s fortune, and now we have the proof of it. But what can we ever do, Henrietta, against the cunning manoeuvres of people like these?” She bowed her head, and answered in a tone of resignation,-- “I have heard it said that often the mere presence of an inoffensive child is sufficient to intimidate and frighten away the boldest criminals. If God wills it so, I will be that child.” Daniel tried once more to insist; but she cut him short, saying,-- “You forget, my dear friend, that this is, perhaps for many years, the last time we shall ever be alone together. I have secured the confidence of one of my waiting-women, and to her you must direct your letters. Her name is Clarissa Pontois. If any grave and unforeseen necessity should arise, and it becomes absolutely necessary for me to see you, Clarissa will bring you the key of the little garden-gate, and you will come.” Both of them had their eyes filled with tears; and their hearts felt increasing anguish as the hand on the dial advanced. They knew they would have to part. Could they hope ever to meet again? Stung to the quick by what he called the insulting remarks of his daughter, he had stimulated the zeal of his valet; and that artist had evidently surpassed himself in the arrangement of the hair, and especially in the complexion.

Do not decide rashly, relying simply upon odious slanders.” He drew from his pocket a photograph, looked at it lovingly, and, handing it to his daughter, he added,-- “Here is Miss Brandon’s portrait. Look at it, and see if she to whom God has given such a charming face, such sublime eyes, can have a bad heart.” For more than a minute Henrietta examined the likeness; and then, returning it to her father, she said coldly,-- “This woman is beautiful beyond all conception. Now I can explain to myself that new society of which you are going to be director-general.” Count Ville-Handry turned pale under this “juncture,” and cried in a terrible voice,-- “Unhappy child! You dare insult an angel?” Maddened with rage, he had lifted up his hand, and was about to strike his daughter, when Daniel seized his wrist in his iron grasp, and threateningly, as if he himself was about to strike, he said,-- “Ah, sir, have a care! Champcey, I order you to leave this house instantly; and I forbid your ever coming back to it again. My servants will be informed, that, if any one of them ever allows you to cross the threshold of this house, he will be instantly dismissed. He had made a mortal enemy of the man whom it was his greatest interest to manage; and this man, who of his own accord would have parted with him only regretfully, had now turned him disgracefully out of his house. He could hardly account to himself for the way in which this had come about. Nay, more; retracing step by step, his conduct during the last few days, it appeared to him pitiful, absurd. And then all that had happened seemed to have turned against him.

He accused Fate, that blind goddess, who is always blamed by those who have not the courage to blame themselves.

He was in this state of mind when there came to him, to his great surprise, a letter from Henrietta. Thus it was she who anticipated him, and who, sure that he would be desperate, had the feminine delicacy to write to him almost cheerfully.

I shall have all that is needed,” exclaimed Daniel, moved to tears. And he vowed to himself that he would devote himself, heart and soul, to his work, and there find, if not forgetfulness, at least peace. He found, however, that to swear was easier than to do. The balance of his whole life was so completely destroyed, that he was not able to restore it. As soon as he had risen, he hurried to M. He dined early, hurried home again, and, putting on a rough overcoat which he had worn on board ship, he went to roam around the palace of his beloved. There, behind those heavy, beautifully carved gates, which were open to all comers but to him, lived she who was more to him than his life.

If he had struck the flagstones of the sidewalk with the heel of his boots, she would have heard the sound. It seemed to him atrocious, humiliating, intolerable, to be thus reduced to expecting good or evil fortune from fate, passively, without making an effort, like a man, who having taken a ticket in a lottery, and is all anxiety to obtain a large fortune, crosses his arms and waits for the drawing. He went to open the door. In the meantime she had raised her veil, “Yes, it is I,” she replied, “risking another calumny in addition to all the others that have been raised against me, Daniel.” Amazed at a step which seemed to him the height of imprudence, he remained standing in the anteroom, and did not even think of inviting Miss Brandon to go into the next room, his study. She went in of her own accord, quite aloof; and, when he had followed her, she said to him,-- “I came, sir, to ask you what you have done with that promise you gave me the other night at my house?” She waited a moment; and, as he did not reply, she went on,-- “Come, I see you are like all men, if they pledge their word to another man, who is a match for them, they consider it a point of honor to keep it, but if it is a woman, then they do not keep it, and boast of it!” Daniel was furious; but she pretended not to see it, and said more coldly,-- “I--I have a better memory than you, sir; and I mean to prove it to you. I know what has happened at Count Ville-Handry’s house; he has told me all. You have allowed yourself to be carried away so far as to threaten him, to raise your hand against him.” “He was going to strike his daughter, and I held his arm.” “No, sir! my dear count is incapable of such violence; and yet his own daughter had dared to taunt him with his weakness, pretending that he had been induced by me to establish a new industrial company.” Daniel said nothing.

“And you,” continued Miss Brandon,--“you allowed Miss Henrietta to say all these offensive and absurd things. I should induce the count to engage in an enterprise where money might be lost! What interest could I have?” Her voice began to tremble; and her beautiful eyes filled with tears. “Interest!” she went on to say, “money! And you also know that it depended, and perhaps, at this moment, still depends upon one single man, whether I shall break off that match this very day, now.” As she said this, she looked at him in a manner which would have caused a statue to tremble on its marble pedestal. But he, with his heart full of hatred, remained icy, enjoying the revenge which was thus presented to him. “I will believe whatever you wish to say,” he answered in a mocking tone, “if you will answer me a single question.” “Ask, sir.” “The other night, when I had left you, where did you go in your carriage?” He expected to see her confused, turning pale, stammer. If some fool should see me leave your rooms?” “Pardon me, Miss Brandon, that is no answer to my question. Where did you go?” And as she kept silent, surprised by Daniel’s firmness, he said sneeringly,-- “Then you confess that it would be madness to believe you?

Let us break off here, and pray to God that I may be able to forget all the wrong you have done me.” Miss Brandon’s beautiful eyes filled with tears of grief or of rage. She folded her hands, and said in a suppliant tone,-- “I conjure you, M. I must speak to you. If you knew”-- He could not turn her out; he bowed profoundly before her, and withdrew into his bedroom, closing the door behind him. But he immediately applied his eye to the keyhole, and saw Miss Brandon, her features convulsed with rage, threaten him with her closed hand, and leave the room hastily. “She was going to dig another pit for me,” thought Daniel.

One informed him that he had been promoted to be a lieutenant. The other ordered him to report four days hence at Rochefort, on board the frigate “Conquest,” which was lying in the roadstead waiting for two battalions of marines to be transferred to Cochin China. How often, as he stood leaning against the monkey-railing, and saw boats passing by which carried officers, had he said to himself,-- “When I am a navy lieutenant!” Well, now he was a lieutenant. his wishes, thus realized, filled him only with disgust and bitterness, like those golden apples, which, at a distance, shine brightly in the branches of magic trees, and under the touch of the hand turn into dust and ashes. For with the news of his promotion came also the fatal order to a distant shore. Why did they send such an order to him, who had at the department an office in which he could render valuable services, while so many of his comrades, waiting idly in port, watched anxiously, and with almost feverish impatience, for a chance to go into active service? “Ah!” he said to himself, his heart filled with rage, “how could I fail to recognize in this abominable treachery Miss Brandon’s cunning hand?” First she had closed against him the gates of Count Ville-Handry’s palace, and thus separated him from his beloved Henrietta, so that they could not meet nor speak to each other. She wanted to raise a barrier between them which should be more than a mere moral and social obstacle, one of those difficulties which no human power, no lover’s ingenuity, could overcome,--the ocean and thousands of miles. Rather give up my career, rather send in my resignation.” Hence, the very next day, he put on his uniform, determined to lay the matter, first before that officer who was his immediate superior, but resolved, if he should not succeed there, to go up to the minister himself.

As he compared his happiness in those days with his present desperate condition, he was deeply moved; and his eyes were still brimful of tears when he reached the navy department, towards ten o’clock in the morning. The officer whom he called upon was an old captain, an excellent man, who had practised the appearance of a grim, stern official so long, that he had finally become in reality what he only wished to appear. Seeing Daniel enter his office, he thought he came to inform him of his promotion, and made a great effort to smile as he hailed him with the words,-- “Well, Lieut. Perhaps you have not heard yet?” “I beg your pardon, captain.” “Why on earth, then, have you no epaulets?” And he began to frown terribly, considering that such carelessness augured ill for the service.

“I have received an order for active service.” “I know,--on board ‘The Conquest,’ in the roadstead at Rochefort, for Cochin China.” “I have to be at my post in four days.” “And you think the time too short?

But impossible to grant you ten minutes more.” “I do not ask for leave of absence, captain; I want the favor--to be allowed to keep my place here.” The old officer could hardly keep his seat. “Believe me, captain,” he replied, “I obey the most imperative duty.” Leaning back in his chair, his eyes fixed on the ceiling, the captain seemed to look for such a duty; then he asked suddenly,-- “Is it your family that keeps you?” “If my place can really not be filled by one of my comrades, I shall be compelled to send in my resignation.” The old sailor bounded as he heard that word, and said furiously,-- “I told you you were a fool!” In spite of his determination, Daniel was too much troubled not to commit a blunder. And if you only knew my reasons; if I could tell them”-- “Reasons which cannot be told are always bad reasons, sir. I insist upon what I have told you.” “Then, captain, I shall be compelled, to my infinite sorrow, to insist upon offering my resignation.” The old sailor’s brow became darker and darker.

It remains to be seen whether it will be accepted. You are still in France; but you are actually under orders to meet the enemy; Men do not resign in the face of the enemy, Lieut. “I have no idea, I assure you, of being gentle; and, if that can induce you to change your mind”-- “Unfortunately, I cannot alter my decision.” The old sailor rose violently, and walked up and down the room several times, giving vent to his anger in oaths of various kinds; then he returned to Daniel, and said in his driest tone,-- “If that is so, the case is serious; I must report it to the secretary of the navy. I shall have settled the matter then.” Quite certain that his superior would say nothing in his favor, Daniel retired, walking hurriedly through the narrow passages, when a joyous voice hailed him, calling out, “Champcey!” He turned, and found himself face to face with two of his comrades, with whom he had been most intimate at school.

They said eagerly,-- “So you are our superior now?” And, with the utmost sincerity, they began to congratulate him, delighted, as they said, that such good luck should have fallen upon a man like him, whom everybody thought worthy of the distinction, and who reflected honor upon the service. There was not one of their good wishes which did not amount to a bitter sarcasm; every word they said told upon him.

Having left home with the intention of offering his resignation only in an extreme case, he was now determined to adhere to his plan, even if they should offer him full satisfaction. That would be far better than to continue in a profession where one is never his own master, but lives eternally under the dread of some order that may send him, at a moment’s warning, to heaven knows what part of the world. That was the way he reasoned with himself while breakfasting at a tavern not far off; and when he returned to the department, a little after twelve, he looked upon himself as already no longer belonging to the navy, and in his imagination caring little for the final decision. It was the hour for receptions, when everybody who had any business at the department came to look after his interests; and the anteroom was filled with officers of every grade, some in uniform, others in citizen’s dress. He thought, very much troubled,-- “What can this mean?” In the meantime a young man in citizen’s dress, whom he did not know, called out from one side of the room to the other, to an old officer in a seedy uniform, with blackened epaulets (a real sea-dog), lean, bronzed, wrinkled, and with eyes bearing the traces of recent ophthalmy,-- “Why do you stop, lieutenant? We were much interested, I assure you.” The lieutenant seemed to hesitate, as if he were making up his mind to do a disagreeable thing, which still did not depend on his choice; and then he resumed his account,-- “Well, we got there, convinced that we had taken all the necessary precautions, and that there was, consequently, nothing to fear,--fine precautions they turned out to be!

In the course of a week the whole crew was laid up; and as to the staff, little Bertram and I were the only officers able to appear on deck. The captain was the first to die; the same evening five sailors followed suit, and seven the next day; the day after the first lieutenant and two of the noncommissioned officers. The like was never seen before.” Daniel turned to his neighbor.

As to my own notions, this is what I think,--a nasty country, a wretched climate, a people fit for the gallows.” “Certainly,” said the young man in citizen’s dress, “things are not pleasant in Cochin China.” “Ah, but still”-- “What if you were ordered back?” “I would go, of course.

Somebody must go, you know, and carry reinforcements there; but I should not care if somebody else”-- He shrugged his shoulders, and said stoically,-- “And besides, since we navy men must be eaten by the fish some time or other, it does not matter very much when that takes place.” Was not that, in a trivial, but terribly impressive manner, precisely the same thing that Daniel had been told by his captain? It was clear that they attributed his resignation to fear.

What could he do to prove that he was not a coward? No; unless he was willing to remain a marked man for life, he must go; yes, go, since out there dangers awaited him of which he was held to be afraid. He went up, therefore, to the old lieutenant, and said, in a voice loud enough to be heard by every one in the room,-- “My good comrade, I had just been ordered to the place you come from, and I had sent in my resignation; but after what you have said,--things I knew nothing of,--I shall go.” There was a murmur of approbation. But it was quite enough to prove to Daniel that he had chosen the only way to save his honor, which had been in imminent peril.

And, besides, does it not happen almost every day, that an officer ordered to some station requests and obtains leave to exchange with some one else, and nothing is said? If Miss Brandon had really procured this order to active service, was it not likely that she would have taken her measures, so that he could not possibly avoid going? Dutac to go on in his story had disappeared. Daniel went from one to the other, inquiring who that clever young man was, but in vain. Soon a summons came for him to appear in the superior’s office. You did well to change your mind; for your business began to look very ugly. And why?” “Primo, he had charged you with a very important duty.” “To be sure,” stammered Daniel, hanging his head; “but I have been so severely suffering!” The fact is, he had totally forgotten that unlucky work. “Secundo,” continued the old officer, “he was doubtful whether you were in your right senses, and I agree with him, since he has told me that you yourself have solicited this appointment on foreign service in the most urgent terms.” Daniel was stunned, and stammered out,-- “His Excellency is mistaken.” “Ah! I wish I could see it too! Captain, I beseech you show me that letter!” The old officer began almost to think that Champcey was really not in his right mind.

He answered,-- “I do not have it; but it is among your papers in the bureau for Personal Affairs.” In a minute Daniel was in the office where those papers were kept, and obtained, not without much trouble, and under certain conditions only, leave to look at his papers.

He opened the parcel with feverish haste; and the very first paper that fell in his hands was a letter, dated the day before, in which he urgently requested the minister to grant him the special favor of being sent out with the expedition to Cochin China on board the frigate “Conquest.” Daniel was, of course, perfectly sure that he had written no such letter. The whole was done so exceedingly well, that if the matter had been one of ordinary importance, and the date of the letter had gone back to a fortnight or so ago, he would certainly have suspected his memory rather than the letter before him. Overcome by the atrocity of such a trick, he exclaimed,-- “It is almost incredible!” It was, however, only too certain, too indisputable, that the letter could not have been dictated by any one but Miss Brandon. now Daniel understood the insolent assurance of Miss Brandon, when she insisted upon his taking poor Malgat’s letters, and repeatedly said, “Go and show them to the clerks who have known that unhappy man for long years, and they will tell you if they are his own.” Most assuredly he would have met with no one bold enough to say the contrary, if Malgat’s handwriting had been copied with the same distressing perfection as his own. Ought he to mention his discovery? Would they even consent to an investigation; and, if they instituted one, what would be the result? Where would they find an expert ready to swear that this letter was not written by him, when he himself, if each line had been presented to him separately, would have felt bound to acknowledge it as his own?

Was it not far more probable, on the contrary, that, after what he had done in the morning, they would have ascribed his charges to a mistake, or seen in them a weak invention in order to cover his retreat?

Therefore it was a thousand times better to keep silence, to be resigned to postpone to another day every attempt to avenge himself in a manner corresponding to the injury he had suffered, and all the more effectively, as his vengeance would have been carefully matured. But he did not wish that false letter, which might become a formidable piece of evidence against him, to remain among his papers; no doubt Miss Brandon would soon find an opportunity of having it withdrawn.

He asked, therefore, for leave to copy it, obtained permission, went to work, and succeeded, without being seen by anybody, in substituting his copy for the original. When this was done, knowing that he had not a minute to lose, he instantly left the department, and, jumping into a carriage, drove to M.

He would even have enjoyed the peace that had once more returned to his mind, but for the savage hatred which had accumulated in his heart, and which confused his thoughts whenever he remembered Miss Brandon. Providentially, it seemed to him, Maxime had not gone out, or, rather, having been to breakfast at the English cafe with some of his friends, he had just returned. In ten words Daniel had told him every thing, and even shown him that masterpiece of forgery, which he attributed to Miss Brandon’s mind, and M. Then, without heeding Maxime’s exclamations of wonder and indignation, loud and deep as they were, he continued,-- “Now, my dear Maxime, listen to me. It may be my last will which I am going to give in your charge.” And, when his friend tried to remonstrate, he insisted,-- “I know what I am saying. It is always better to be prepared.” He paused a moment to collect his thoughts; and then he went on. Now I want a reliable, safe, and experienced man, possessed of prudence and energy, and sure not to leave Paris. I say, therefore, simply, you may count upon me.” “And I do count upon you,” exclaimed Daniel,--“yes, blindly and absolutely; and I am going to give you a striking proof of it.” For a few moments it looked as if he were trying to find some brief and yet impressive form for his communication; and then he said, speaking very rapidly,-- “If I leave in despair, it is because I leave Henrietta in the hands of the enemy.

What persecution she will have to endure! Miss Brandon must be meditating some terrible blow, or she would not have been so anxious to keep me at a distance.” He sobbed almost, so great was his excitement; but he instantly became master again of his emotion, and continued,-- “Well, Maxime, I shall ask you to watch over Henrietta. I intrust her to you as I would intrust her to my brother, if I had one.” M. de Brevan was about to state some objections; but Daniel cut him short, saying,-- “I will tell you how and in what manner you can watch over Miss Ville-Handry. To-morrow evening I shall see her, and tell her the new misfortune which has befallen us. I know she will be terrified; but then, to reassure her, I shall explain to her that I leave her a friend, another myself, ready, like myself, to assist her at her first summons, and ready, like myself, to run any danger in order to succor her. I shall tell her to appeal to you as if it were to myself; to write to you as she used to write to me; to keep you informed of all they may attempt to do; to consult and to obey you without hesitation.

“As to what you will have to do, Maxime, I cannot tell you that, even in a general way, as I know nothing of Miss Brandon’s plans. I rely upon your experience to do what is most expedient. It may be that her father’s house becomes impossible for Henrietta, and that she should wish to leave it. It may also be, that, under certain circumstances, you may think it inexpedient for her to remain there, and that you have to advise her to escape. In either case, you will take Henrietta to an old lady, a relative of mine, who lives at the Rosiers, a little village in the department of Maine-et-Loire, and whose address I will give you, while I will inform her beforehand of what may happen.” He paused, trying to remember if there was any thing else, and, recalling nothing, he said,-- “This, my dear Maxime, is all I expect you to do for me.” With open brow, a clear eye, and grave face, M. de Brevan replied in a solemn tone of voice, speaking like a man who feels that he deserves such confidence,-- “Friend Daniel, you may sail without fear.” But Daniel had not done yet.

Pressing his friend’s hand heartily, he thanked him, and then with a careless air, under which he very imperfectly concealed his real embarrassment, he said,-- “There remains only to provide the means for carrying out these measures, and for possible contingencies. You are not rich, my dear Maxime, I mean rich in comparison with the people who are your friends; you have told me so more than once.” He touched a wound which was always open, and always bleeding. “Now,” he said, “suppose, at a given moment, Miss Henrietta’s safety should make a certain sum of money necessary,--perhaps a very large sum,--are you sure you will always have enough in your drawer, and be able to dispose of it without inconvenience?” “Ah!

you expect too much of me; but I have friends.” “And you would ask them! you would expose yourself to the humiliation of hearing those set excuses which serve to conceal refusals! Although my means are modest, I can, by selling out some bonds, realize enough to secure you against any embarrassment on that score. I also own property in Anjou which is valued at fifty or sixty thousand dollars, and I mean to sell it.” The other man opened his eyes wide.

“To sell it, yes. I find them there, so to say, whenever I go in; their thoughts are still filling the rooms, after so many years. They are sacred to me; but the rest--I have already given orders.” “And you expect to sell every thing in the three days before your departure?” “Oh, no! I will leave you a power-of-attorney. You will invest that so as to be able to use it any moment.

And, if ever Miss Henrietta should be compelled to leave her father’s house, you will hand the money over to her.” M. “Excuse me,” he said, “excuse me.” “What?” “Well, it seems to me it would be more suitable to leave some one else in charge of that.” “Whom?” “Oh!

Money questions are so delicate!” But Daniel said, shrugging his shoulders,-- “I do not understand why you should hesitate to undertake so simple a thing, when you have already consented to render me so signal and so difficult a service.” So simple! He took an interest in the affairs of his clients, and sometimes even listened to hear their explanations. When Daniel had told him what he intended doing, he replied,-- “You have nothing to do, M. Champcey, but to give M.

de Brevan a power-of-attorney in proper form.” “Would it be possible,” asked Daniel, “to have it drawn up at once?” “Why not? It can be recorded this evening; and to-morrow”-- “Well, then, lose no time.” The notary called his chief clerk, gave him briefly his instructions, then, making a sign to Daniel, he drew him into a kind of recess resembling an enormous cupboard, adjoining his office, in which he “confessed” his clients, as he called it. “If you would only listen to me,” he resumed, “I could prove to you”-- But Daniel interrupted him, and said,-- “I have no desire, sir, to change my mind; but, even if I should wish to do so, I cannot retract my word. There are particular circumstances in this case which I cannot explain to you in so short a time.” The notary raised his eyes to the ceiling, and said in a tone of great pity,-- “At least, let me make him give you a deed of defeasance.” “Very well, sir.” This was done, but in such carefully guarded terms, that even the most exquisite susceptibility on the part of Maxime could not have been hurt. It was five o’clock, when the power-of-attorney and the deed were signed, and the two friends left the worthy notary’s office.

It was too late now for Daniel to write to Henrietta to send him for that same evening the key to the little garden-gate; but he wrote to get it for the next evening. He came home late, and was fortunate enough to fall asleep as soon as he had lain down. It came towards one o’clock.

It was brought by a large girl, nearly thirty years old, with a cross expression of face, and eyes more than modestly seeking the ground, and with narrow lips which seemed to be perpetually engaged in reciting prayers. This was Clarissa, whom Henrietta considered the safest of her waiting-women, and whom she had taken into her confidence. “Miss Henrietta,” she said to Daniel, “has given me this key and this letter for you, sir. She expects an answer.” Daniel tore the envelope, and read,-- “Take care, O my darling friend! to resort to this dangerous expedient which we ought to reserve for the last extremity. Is what you have to tell me really so important as you say? the poor girl had no idea of the terrible news that was in store for her. “Request Miss Henrietta,” said Daniel to the maid, “to expect me at seven o’clock.” Sure now of seeing Henrietta, Daniel slipped the key in his pocket, and hurried away. He had only a short afternoon to himself, and there were still a thousand things to get, and countless preparations to make. I call that tempting a man pretty strongly when you hand over to him fifty thousand dollars the day before you start on a long and dangerous expedition.” “Ah!

if there is a woman in the affair, I have nothing more to say.” It was as well. de Brevan’s little sitting-room, he was handing over his deeds and papers to his faithful confidant, explaining to him how he might make the most of the different parcels of land which he owned; how certain woods might be sold together; how, on the other hand, a large farm, now held by one tenant, might be advantageously divided into small lots, and sold at auction.

He had recovered his self- possession, and laid aside his usual reserve in order to show himself all eagerness for his friend.

He declared that he would see to it that his friend Daniel should not be robbed. He intended, therefore, to go himself to Anjou to call upon those who were likely to purchase, and to be present at the sale. In his opinion, it would be wiser to sell piecemeal, without hurry. Daniel was deeply touched by the devotion of his friend, whose intense selfishness he had noticed but too often. He proposed to overcome his aversion to Miss Brandon, and to seek, immediately after her marriage, an introduction at Count Ville-Handry’s palace, for the purpose of going there constantly. He might have to play a disagreeable part, he admitted; but he would thus be enabled to see Miss Henrietta frequently; he would hear every thing that happened, and be at hand whenever she should need advice or assistance.

“Dear Maxime,” repeated Daniel, “dear, excellent friend, how can I ever thank you for all you are doing for me!” As the day before, they dined together at one of the restaurants on the boulevard; and after dinner M. de Brevan insisted upon accompanying his friend back to Count Ville-Handry’s house. As they reached it long before the appointed hour, they walked up and down on the sidewalk which runs along the wall of the immense park belonging to the palace. But he trembled so violently, that for a moment he thought he would never be able to turn the key in the rusty lock. At last he succeeded in opening it, and he slipped into the garden. It seemed to him a century. He had counted sixty by the beating of his pulse ever so many times, and was beginning to be very anxious, when at last he heard some dry branches crackling under rapid footsteps. “Clarissa said you looked so pale and undone, that I have been terribly frightened.” Daniel had come to the conclusion that the plain truth would be less cruel than the most skilful precautions. “I have been ordered on active service,” he replied, “and I must be on board ship the day after tomorrow.” And then, without concealing any thing, he told her all he had suffered since the day before. It is impossible for you to obey!” “Henrietta, my honor is at stake.” “Ah, what does it matter?” He was about to reply; but she continued in a broken voice,-- “You will certainly not go when you have heard me.

You think I am strong, brave, and capable to breast the storm? I am a child, full of daring as long as it rests on its mother’s knee, but helpless as soon as it feels that it is left to itself; I am only a woman, Daniel; I am weak.” The unhappy man felt his strength leaving him; he could no longer bear the restraint which he had imposed upon himself. “Ah, I have hardly courage enough for myself!” She interrupted him with a nervous laugh, and said in bitter sarcasm,-- “It would be courage to stay, to despise public opinion.” And, as any thing appeared to her preferable to such a separation, she added,-- “Listen! Let us go together to my father, and I will tell him that I have overcome my aversion to Miss Brandon. I will ask him to present me to her; I will humble myself before her.” “That is impossible, Henrietta.” She bent towards him, joining her hands; and in a suppliant voice she repeated,-- “Stay, I beseech you, in the name of our happiness!

If you have ever loved me, if you love me now, stay!” Daniel had foreseen this heartrending scene; but he had vowed, that, if his heart should break, he would have the fortitude to resist Henrietta’s prayers and tears. “If I were weak enough to give way now, Henrietta,” he said, “you would despise me before the month is over; and I, desperate at having to drag out a life of disgrace, would blow out my brains with a curse on you.” With her arms hanging listlessly by her side, her hands crossed behind her, Miss Ville-Handry stood there motionless, like a statue. She felt in her heart that Daniel’s resolution was not to be shaken. I should leave more cheerfully if you would promise me to trust this faithful friend, to listen to his advice, and to follow his directions.” “I promise you, Daniel, I will obey him.” But a rustling of the dry leaves interrupted them. And, pushing Daniel towards the gate, she begged him to flee. To remain would only have been to risk a painful explanation, insults, perhaps even a personal collision.

Daniel understood that but too well. “Farewell,” he said to Henrietta, “farewell! Tomorrow you will receive a letter from me.” And he escaped, but not so promptly that he should not have heard the count’s angry voice, as he said,-- “Ah, ah! Is this the virtuous young lady who dares to insult Miss Sarah?” As soon as Daniel had locked the door again, he listened for a moment, hoping that he might hear something of importance.

He would have to sail without seeing Henrietta again, without enjoying that bitter happiness of holding her once more in his arms. And yet he had told her nothing of all he had to tell her; he had not spoken to her of half his recommendations, nor given her a thousandth part of his tender farewells. How came it about that the count had stayed at home, instead of hurrying off immediately after dinner, as was his custom? Why should he have inquired after his daughter, he who generally took no more trouble about her than if she had not existed? If that was so,--and it was but too probable,--to whom should he send his letters hereafter? Here, again, he saw himself reduced to Maxime de Brevan as the only one who could convey news from him to Henrietta. he recognized but too clearly the execrable but most cunning policy of Miss Brandon. Elgin might be insulted; he might be struck in the face, and thus be compelled to fight.

And, without considering this absurd plan, he hurried to Circus Street. He rang the bell, however; and, when a servant came to the door, he inquired,-- “M. “At what hour will he be back?” “He is not coming home to-night.” And whether he had received special instructions, or was only acting upon general orders, he added,-- “Mrs. Brian is at the theatre; but Miss Brandon is at home.” Daniel’s wrath changed into a kind of cold fury. He was just turning away, when a sudden thought occurred to him. Why should he not talk with her, come to an understanding, and perhaps make a bargain with her? “Show me to Miss Brandon’s room,” he said to the servant.

“Here, and of your own accord?” Firmly resolved this time to remain master of his sensations, Daniel had stopped in the middle of the room, as stiff as a statue. I do not know what you mean.” He shrugged his shoulders, and continued in an icy tone,-- “Do me the honor to think that I am not altogether a fool. I have seen the letter which you have sent to the minister, signed with my name. Thomas Elgin, no doubt?” “No, not he; another man.” “Name him!” She hesitated, hung her head, and then said with a great effort,-- “I knew they wished to separate us; and, without knowing precisely what means they would employ, I suspected them. And, when I came to you the other day, I wanted to say to you, ‘Have a care!’ and you, M. Tell me that you do not believe me!” He bowed ceremoniously, and replied in his gravest manner,-- “I believe, Miss Brandon, that you desire to become Countess Ville- Handry; and you clear everything out of your path that can hinder you in your plans.” She was about to answer; but he did not give her time, and continued,-- “Mark, I pray, that I make no charges. You are too sensible and too practical to hate us--Miss Henrietta and myself--from gratuitous and purely platonic motives. Tell me; and, if you will promise to help us, we--Henrietta and I--pledge ourselves not to stand in your way.” Miss Brandon looked as if she could not trust her ears. And, that there may be no misunderstanding, I will mention the precise terms: if you will swear to be kind to Henrietta during my absence, to protect her against violence on the part of her father, and never to force her to act contrary to her sentiments for me, I will give you, in return, my word that I shall give up to you, without dispute and without reserve, the whole immense fortune possessed by Count Ville-Handry.” Succumbing to her grief, Miss Brandon seemed to be almost fainting; and big tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Must you add shame to shame?

If you knew the truth, however, Daniel--if I could, if I dared, tell you all!” She drew nearer to him, all trembling; and then continued in a still lower tone of voice, as if she feared to be overheard,-- “Do you not understand yet that I am no longer my own? I have no longer the right to have a will of my own. 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. Was she really about to betray her secret? “Will you promise me to protect Henrietta?” “Do you really love her so dearly, your Henrietta?” “Better than life!” Miss Brandon turned as white as the lace on her dress; a flash of indignation shot through her eyes; and, drying her tears, she said curtly,-- “Oh!” Then Daniel replied,-- “You will give me no answer, madam?” And, as she persisted in her silence, he resumed,-- “Very well, then, I understand. Only listen to me carefully. The murderous climate will not touch me; and, if I had ten rifle-balls in my body, I should still have the strength to return, and hold you to an account for what you have done to Henrietta. And if you have touched a hair on her head, if you have made her shed a single tear, by all that is holy, it will bring ill luck to you, and ill luck to others!” He was going to leave her, when a thought struck him.

“I ought to tell you, moreover,” he added, “that I leave a faithful friend behind me; and, if the count or his daughter should die very suddenly, the coroner will be informed.

de Brevan’s hands a long letter for Henrietta, and after having given him his last instructions, Daniel took his seat in the train which was to take him to his new post. It is a nobleman, and an immensely rich one, who is going to be married,--Count Ville-Handry. They have been in the church now for some time, and they will soon come out again.” Under the porch a dozen men, in the orthodox black costume, with yellow kid gloves, and white cravats showing under their overcoats, evidently men belonging to the wedding-party, were chatting merrily while they were waiting for the end of the ceremony. If they were amused, they hardly showed it; for some made an effort to hide their yawning, while others kept up a broken conversation, when a small coupe drove up, and stopped at the gate. He knew the majority, perhaps, of the young men in the crowd; and so he commenced at once shaking hands all around, and then said in an easy tone of voice,-- “Who has seen the bride?” “I!” replied an old beau, whose perpetual smile displayed all the thirty-two teeth he owed to the dentist.

When she walked up the aisle to kneel down at the altar, a murmur of admiration followed her all the way. Upon my word of honor, I thought they would applaud.” This was too much enthusiasm. At a little distance you would have sworn that he was sixteen years old, and that he was going, not to be married, but to be confirmed.” “And how did he look?” “Restless, I think.” “He might well be,” observed a stout, elderly gentleman, who was said not to be very happily married. Everybody laughed; but a very young man, a mere youth, who did not catch the joke, said,-- “Why so?” A man of about thirty years, a perfect model of elegance, whom the others called, according to the degree of intimacy which they could claim, either “Your Grace,” or “Duke” simply replied,-- “Because, my dear viscount, Miss Brandon is one of those ladies who never are married. They are courted; they are worshipped; they make us commit a thousand follies for their sakes; they allow us to ruin ourselves, and, finally, to blow our brains out for them, all right! But to bear our name, never!” “It is true,” said Brevan, “that they tell a number of stories about her; but it is all gossip. However”-- “You certainly would not ask,” replied the duke, “that I should prove her to have been brought before a police-court, or to have escaped from the penitentiary?” And, without permitting himself to be interrupted, he went on,-- “Good society in France, they say, is very exclusive. Except, perhaps, a score of houses, where old traditions are still preserved, all other houses are wide open to the first-comer, man or woman, who drives up in a carriage.

They have, or at least seem to have, money; and they shine, they intrigue, they conspire, they make believe, and they extort. I willingly shake hands with the workmen who work for me, and who earn their living worthily; but I do not shake hands with these ambiguous personages in yellow kids, who have no title but their impudence, and no means of living but their underhand intrigues.” He addressed himself apparently to no one, following, with his absent- minded glance, the crowd in the garden; and yet, by his peculiar manner, you would have known that he was speaking at some one among the listeners.

However, it was evident that he had no success, and that his doctrine seemed to be utterly out of season, and almost ridiculous. A young man with a delicate black mustache, and extremely well dressed, even turned to his neighbor, and asked,-- “Who is our friend, the preacher?” “What!

de Brevan, however, had remained perfectly impassive, and now said,-- “At all events, I suppose it was not altogether a question of interest which made Miss Brandon marry the count.” “Why not?” “Because she is immensely rich.” “Pshaw!” An old gentleman came up, and said,-- “She must needs be perfectly disinterested; for I have it from the count himself that none of the property is to be settled upon Miss Brandon.” “That certainly is marvellously disinterested.” Having said what he meant to say, the duke had entered the church; and the old beau now took the word. “The only thing that is clear to me in this matter is, that I think I know the person whom this wedding will not please particularly.” “Whom do you mean?” “Count Ville-Handry’s daughter, a young girl, eighteen years old, and wondrously pretty. de Brevan shrugged his shoulders, and said in an undertone,-- “Upon my word, I should not like to stand in the count’s shoes.” As a faithful echo of the gossip that was going on in society, this conversation, carried on in broken sentences, under the porch of St. She triumphed; and the world is always on the side of the victor. That Duke of Champdoce, an original, was the only one there who was disposed to remember the past; the others had forgotten it. The brilliancy of her success was even reflected on those who belonged to her; and a young man who copied to exaggeration English fashions was just singing the praises of M. The wedding-guests are in the vestry now to sign their names.” The conversation stopped at once. The old beau alone exclaimed,-- “Gentlemen, if we wish to present our respects to the newly-married couple, we must make haste.” And with these words he hurried into the church, followed by all the others, and soon reached the vestry, which was too small to hold all the guests invited by Count Ville-Handry.

Fronting the door, and leaning against one of the cupboards in which the holy vessels are kept, stood Miss Brandon, now Countess Ville-Handry, having at her side grim Mrs. Count Ville-Handry stood in the centre of the room, swelling with almost comic happiness; and at every moment, in replying to his friends, used the words, “My wife,” like a sweet morsel which he rolled on his tongue. Still a careful observer might have noticed underneath his victorious airs a trace of almost painful restraint. From time to time his face darkened as one of those unlucky, awkward people, who turn up everywhere, asked him,-- “I hope Miss Henrietta is not complaining much?

How very sorry she must be to be detained at home!” It is true, that, among these unlucky ones, there were not a few malicious ones. What had the servant told him? It became soon known, thanks to the Countess Bois, who went about telling everybody with inexhaustible volubility, that she had just met Miss Ville-Handry in the street.

When the last name had been signed, nobody was, therefore, surprised at seeing Count Ville-Handry give his arm to his wife, and hand her hurriedly to her carriage,--a magnificent state-carriage. He had invited some twenty people, former friends of his, to a great wedding- breakfast; but he seemed to have forgotten them. When they reached the palace, he did not wait for the coachman to drive as usually around the yard, but jumped out, and, rushing up to the vestibule, cried out,-- “Ernest! send Ernest here!” Ernest was his own valet, the clever artist to whom he was indebted for the roses of his complexion. Elgin, had, in the meantime, come up, and gone into the room in the lower story, where this scene took place. Then, turning again to the valet, he asked,-- “How did it happen?” “Very naturally.

They went up to see what she wanted, and she ordered the landau to be brought round. She was told very respectfully, that all three coachmen were out, and that there was no one there to drive her. ‘If that be so,’ she answered, ‘I want you to run and get me a hired carriage.’ And, when the servant to whom she gave the order hesitated, she added, ‘If you do not go instantly, I shall go myself.’” The count trembled with rage. “But allow me to say,” commenced Ernest. And you go on.” Without showing any embarrassment, the valet shrugged his shoulders, and continued in a lazy tone,-- “Then the hack came into the court-yard; and we saw the young lady come down in a splendid toilet, such as we have never seen her wear before,--not pretty exactly, but so conspicuous, that it must have attracted everybody’s attention. I have a good many visits to make; and, as the weather is fine, I shall afterwards go to the Bois de Boulogne.’ Thereupon the gates were opened, and off they went. It was then that I took the liberty to send you word, sir.” In all his life Count Ville-Handry had not been so furious. The veins in his neck began to swell; and his eyes became bloodshot, as if he had been threatened with a fit of apoplexy. “You ought to have kept her from going out,” he said hoarsely. You ought to have made her go back to her room, use force if necessary, lock her up, bind her.” “You had given no orders, sir.” “You ought to have required no orders to do your duty.

To let a mad woman run about! an impudent girl whom I caught the other day in the garden with a man!” He cried out so loud, that his voice was heard in the adjoining room, where the invited guests were beginning to assemble. The young countess at once came up to him and said,-- “I beseech you, my dear friend, be calm!” “No, this must end; and I mean to punish the wicked girl.” “I beseech you, my dear count, do not destroy the happiness of the first day of our married life. Was it not understood that we would have nothing to do with the count’s private affairs?” Thus every one took up at once his assigned part. That can hardly be!” In vain did the count try to look indifferent; in vain did the young countess display all her rare gifts. How could a young girl, usually so reserved, and naturally so timid, make up her mind to cause such scandal? Forced to abandon their nature, they do not reason, and do not calculate, and, losing all self-possession, rush blindly into danger, impelled by a kind of madness resembling that of sheep when they knock their heads against the walls of their stable. For Count Ville-Handry, acting under a kind of overexcitement, had that day lost all self-control, and forgot himself so far as to treat his daughter as no gentleman would have treated his child while in his senses, and that in the presence of his servants! And then, what tortures she had had to endure in the week that followed!

She had declared that she would not be present at the reading of the marriage-contract, nor at the ceremonies of the civil marriage, nor at church; and her father had tried to make her change her intentions. If the count had at least used a little discretion, if he had tried the powers of persuasion, or sought to touch his daughter’s heart by speaking to her of herself, of her future, of her happiness, of her peace! He never came to her room without a new insult, thinking of nothing, as he acknowledged himself, but of sparing Miss Brandon’s feelings, and of saving her all annoyance. The consequence was, that his threats, so far from moving Henrietta, had only served to strengthen her in her determination. At half-past five, the count had once more come to his daughter’s room. Without telling her any thing of it, he had ordered her dressmaker to send her several magnificent dresses; and they were lying about now, spread out upon chairs. “Dress yourself,” he said in a tone of command, “and come down!” She, the victim of that kind of nervous exaltation which makes martyrdom appear preferable to yielding, replied obstinately,-- “No, I shall not come down.” She did not care for any subterfuge or excuse; she did not even pretend to be unwell; she said resolutely-- “I will not!” And he, finding himself unable to overcome this resistance, maddened and enraged, broke out in blasphemies and insane threats. A chambermaid, who had been attracted by the loud voice, had come, and, putting her ear to the keyhole, had heard every thing; and the same evening she told her friends how the count had struck his daughter, and that she had heard the blows. Nevertheless, it was but too true, that, in consequence of these last insults, she had come to the determination to make her protest as public as she could by showing herself to all Paris while her father was married at St.

Clothilda to Miss Brandon. The poor girl had no one to whom she could confide her griefs, no one to tell her that all the disgrace would fall back upon herself. Putting on a very showy costume, so as to attract as much attention as possible, she had spent the day in driving about to all the places where she thought she would meet most of her acquaintances. Night alone had compelled her to return, and she felt broken to pieces, exhausted, upset by unspeakable anguish of soul, but upheld by the absurd idea that she had done her duty and shown herself worthy of Daniel.

She had just alighted, and was about to pay the coachman, when the count’s valet came up, and said to her in an almost disrespectful tone of voice,-- “My master has ordered me to tell you to come to him as soon as you should come home.” “Where is my father?” “In the large reception-room.” “Alone?” “No. I am coming.” Gathering all her courage, and looking whiter and colder than the marble of the statues in the vestibule, she went to the reception-room, opened the door, and entered stiffly. “Here you are!” exclaimed Count Ville-Handry, restored to a certain degree of calmness by the very excess of his wrath,--“here you are!” “Yes, father.” “Where have you been?” She had at a glance taken in the whole room; and at the sight of the new countess, and those whom she called her accomplices, all her resentment arose.

In the morning I went out to make some purchases; later, knowing that the Duchess of Champdoce is a little unwell, and does not go out, I went to lunch with her; after that, as the weather was so fine”-- Count Ville-Handry could endure it no longer. Seizing his daughter by the wrists, he lifted her bodily, and, dragging her up to the Countess Sarah, he hurled out,-- “On your knees, unhappy child! on your knees, and ask the best and noblest of women to pardon you for all these insults!” “You hurt me terribly, father,” said the young girl coldly. “For Heaven’s sake, madam,” she said, “spare your father!” And, as Henrietta measured her from head to foot with an insulting glance, she went on,-- “Dear count, don’t you see that your violence is killing me?” Promptly Count Ville-Handry let his daughter go, and, drawing back, he said,-- “Thank her, thank this angel of goodness who intercedes in your behalf! Whatever I may have to suffer there, it will be better than being here, as long as I see in the place of my mother that--woman!” “Wretch!” howled the count. By a violent effort he tore off his cravat; and, conscious that he was no longer master of himself, he cried to his daughter,-- “Leave me, leave me! But she had not yet gone half-way up the stairs which led to her own rooms, when she was held at the place by the sound of all the bells of the house, which had been set in motion by a furious hand. She bent over the balusters to listen. “At least,” she said to herself, “I shall have poisoned this woman’s joy.” And, fearing to be caught thus listening, she went up stairs. But, when she was alone once more, the poor girl failed not to recognize the utter futility of her fancied triumph.

However unwell the countess might be to-night,--and perhaps she was not really unwell,--she would certainly be well again in the morning; and then what would be the advantage of the scandal she had attempted in order to ruin her? Now Henrietta saw it very clearly,--now, when it was too late. She fancied that what she had done to-day pledged her for the future. Never mind, it seemed to her miserable cowardice to shrink from going on. “I have received it this moment, in an envelope addressed to me.” Henrietta examined the letter for a long time before opening it, studying the handwriting, which she did not know. Who could write to her, and in this way, unless it was Maxime de Brevan, to whom Daniel had begged her to intrust herself, and who, so far, had given no sign of life of himself? This was enough to stifle henceforth the voice of reason, and to make her disregard every idea of prudence.

de Brevan was, moreover, nothing but a long and respectful admonition to resist desperately. This letter is too precious to be intrusted to the mail, I shall, therefore, get myself introduced at your father’s house before the end of the week, and I shall have the honor to put that letter into your own hands.” And again,-- “I shall have an opportunity, tomorrow, to send Daniel news from here. If you wish to write to him, send me your letter to-day, Rue Laffitte, No. “Why should I mistrust him,” she said to herself, “more than the others?” But a more pleasing anxiety soon came to her assistance. Here was an opportunity to send Daniel news promptly and safely, and she was running the risk, by her delays, of losing the chance? She hastened to dress; and, sitting down before her little writing-table, she went to work communicating to her only friend on earth all her sufferings since he had so suddenly left her, her griefs, her resentments, her hopes. As she was about to rise, she suddenly felt ill.

“I must not starve myself,” she said almost merrily to herself. When Henrietta took her meals up stairs, which of late had happened quite often, she ate in the sitting-room. She had gone in there, and was clearing the table of the albums and little trifles which were lying about, so as to hasten matters, when the maid reappeared with empty hands.

“Ah, miss!” “Well?” “The count has given orders not to take any thing up stairs.” “That cannot be.” But a mocking voice from without interrupted her, saying,-- “It is so!” And immediately Count Ville-Handry appeared, already dressed, curled, and painted, bearing the appearance of a man who is about to enjoy his revenge. “Leave us!” he said to the maid-servant. And, as soon as Clarissa had left the room, he turned to Henrietta with these words,-- “Yes, indeed, my dear Henrietta, I have given strict orders not to bring you up any thing to eat. If you are, we will send for the doctor. If not, you will do me the favor to come down and take your meals in the dining-room with the family,--with the countess and myself, M. You will, perhaps, pout a day, maybe two days; but hunger drives the wolf into the village; and on the third day we shall see you come down as soon as the bell rings.

I have in vain appealed to your heart; you see I am forced to appeal to your stomach.” Whatever efforts Henrietta might make to remain impassive, the tears would come into her eyes,--tears of shame and humiliation. Could this idea of starving her into obedience have originated with her father? Still the poor girl felt that she was caught; and her heart revolted at the ignominy of the means, and the certainty that she would be forced to yield. Her cruel imagination painted to her at once the exultation of the new countess, when she, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry, would appear in the dining-room, brought there by want, by hunger. His features retained their sardonic expression; and he said in an icy tone,-- “I have told you what I desire. You have heard it, and that is enough.” He was turning to leave the room, when his daughter held him back. “Father,” she said, “listen to me.” “Well, what is it, now?” “Yesterday you threatened to shut me up.” “Well?” “To-day it is I who beseech you to do so. Send me to a convent. And from your convent you would at once write to everybody and everywhere, that my wife had turned you out of the house; that you had been obliged to escape from threats and bad treatment; you would repeat all the well-known elegies of the innocent young girl who is persecuted by a wicked stepmother.

“Consult your stomach; and, according to what it tells you, come down, or stay here.” He went out, manifestly quite proud at having performed what he called an act of paternal authority, without vouchsafing a glance at his daughter, who had sunk back upon a chair; for she felt overcome, the poor child! People who would not shrink from such extreme measures in order to overcome her might resort to the last extremities. Whatever she could do, sooner or later she would have to succumb.

She saw clearly, that, the longer she postponed it, the sweeter would be the victory to the countess, and the more painful would be the sacrifice to herself.

Arming herself, therefore, with all her energy, she went down into the dining-room, where the others were already at table. They seemed hardly to notice her. The countess, who had been talking, paused to say, “Good-morning, madam!” and then went on without betraying in her voice the slightest emotion. Henrietta had even to acknowledge that they had been considerate. She was at once struck, painfully struck, with the dazzling, marvellous beauty of Countess Sarah, although she had been shown her photograph by her father, and ought thus to have been prepared. It was evident that the young countess had barely taken time to put on a wrapper before coming down to breakfast. She exhibited all the touching confusion of a young bride, and was constantly more or less embarrassed. Henrietta comprehended but too well the influence such a woman was likely to have over an old man who had fallen in love with her.

Brian appeared to her hardly less formidable. She could read nothing in her dull, heavy eye but cold wickedness; nothing in her lean, yellow face but an implacable will; all the wrinkles seemed to be permanently graven in wax. She thought, after all, the least to be feared was tall, stiff M. Henrietta rose, and having bowed, without saying a word, was going back to her room when she met on the stairs some of the servants, who were carrying a heavy wardrobe. Brian were hereafter to live in the palace, they were bringing up their furniture. “We are getting your rooms ready for Madam Brian.” And, turning round to his colleagues, he said,-- “Go on, men! They meant to take from her even the rooms she had occupied, she, the daughter of their dupe, the only heiress of Count Ville-Handry! This impudence seemed to her so monstrous, that unable to believe it, and yielding to a sudden impulse, she went back to the dining-room, and, addressing her father, said to him,-- “Is it really true, father, that you have ordered my furniture to be removed?” “Yes, I have done so, my daughter.

My architect will transform your three rooms into a large reception-room for Mrs. “I cannot understand,” she said, “how Aunt Brian can accept that.” “I beg your pardon,” exclaimed the admirable lady, “this is done entirely without my consent.” But the count interposed, saying,-- “Sarah, my darling, permit me to be sole judge in all the arrangements that concern my daughter.” Count Ville-Handry’s accent was so firm as he said this, that one would have sworn the idea of dislodging Henrietta had sprung from his own brains. He went on,-- “I never act thoughtlessly, and always take time to mature my decisions. If one of the two has to submit to some slight inconvenience, it is certainly my daughter.” All of a sudden M. And resolved not to interfere in the count’s family affairs, and, on the other hand, indignant at what he considered an odious abuse of power, he left the room abruptly. His looks, his physiognomy, his gestures, all betrayed these sentiments so clearly, that Henrietta was quite touched. Besides, they have this advantage, that they can be easily overlooked from one of our own rooms, my dear Sarah; and that is important when we have to deal with an imprudent girl, who has so sadly abused the liberty which she enjoyed, thanks to my blind confidence.” What should she say?

If she had been alone with her father, she would certainly have defended herself; she would have tried to make him reconsider his decision; she would have besought him; she might have gone on her knees to him.

she would have died a thousand times over rather than to give these miserable adventurers the joy and the satisfaction of a new humiliation. “Let them crush me,” she said to herself; “they shall never hear me complain, or cry for mercy.” And when her father, who had been quietly watching her, asked,-- “Well?” “You shall be obeyed this very night,” she replied. To give up those little rooms in which she had spent so many happy hours, where every thing recalled to her sweet memories, certainly that was no small grief: it was nothing however, in comparison with that frightful perspective of having to live under the wary eye of Countess Sarah, under lock and key. They would not even leave her at liberty to weep. Her intolerable sufferings would not extort a sigh from her that the countess did not hear on the other side of the partition, and delight in.

She was thus harassing herself, when she suddenly remembered the letter which she had written to Daniel. de Brevan was to have it that same day, there was not a moment to lose. Already it was too late for the mail; and she would have to send it by a commissionaire. She rang the bell, therefore, for Clarissa, her confidante, for the purpose of sending it to the Rue Laffitte.

Brian has sent her to Circus Street. She was not allowed to eat in her rooms; she was turned out of her own rooms; and the maid, long attached to her service, was taken from her. And here she was forced to submit to such humiliations without a chance of rebelling. But time was passing; and every minute made it more difficult to let M. “Well,” said Henrietta to herself, “I will carry it myself.” And although she had, perhaps, in all her life not been more than twice alone in the street, she put on her bonnet, wrapped herself up in a cloak, and went down swiftly. But the man, without taking his pipe out of his mouth, without even getting up from his seat, answered in a surly tone,-- “The count has sent me orders never to let you go out without a verbal or written permission; so that”-- “Impudence!” exclaimed Henrietta. And resolutely she went up to the ponderous gates of the court-yard, stretching out her hand to pull the bolt. But the man, divining her intention, and quicker than she, had rushed up to the gate, and, crying out as loud as he could, he exclaimed,-- “Miss, miss! Stop! Then Sir Thorn appeared, ready to go out on horseback, and finally the count himself.

“You see, I want to go out.” “Alone?” laughed the count. Then he continued harshly, pointing at the concierge,-- “This man would be instantly dismissed if he allowed you to leave the house alone. And do not hope to escape my watchful observation. The little gate to which you had a key has been nailed up. And, if ever a man should dare to steal into the garden, the gardeners have orders to shoot him down like a dog, whether it be the man with whom I caught you the other day, or some one else.” Under this mean and cowardly insult Henrietta staggered; but, immediately collecting herself, she exclaimed,-- “Great God! Daniel Champcey,--he whom my sainted mother had chosen for me among all,--he whom for long years you have daily received at your house, to whom you have solemnly promised my hand, who was my betrothed, and who would now be my husband, if we had chosen to approve of your unfortunate marriage.

Daniel Champcey, whom you had sent off the day before, and whom a crime, a forgery committed by your Sarah, forced to go to sea; for he had to be put out of the way at any hazard.

Henrietta was about to go on, when she felt herself taken by the arm, and gently but irresistibly taken up to the house.

It was Sir Thorn, who tried to save her from her own excitement. “O God,” she sobbed, “have pity on me!” She felt in her heart that she had no hope left now but God, delivered up as she was to pitiless adversaries, sacrificed to the implacable hatred of a stepmother, abandoned by all, and betrayed and openly renounced by her own father. Why did they try every thing to exasperate her to the utmost? Did they expect some catastrophe to result from her despair? Unfortunately, she did not examine this question carefully, too inexperienced as she was to suspect the subtle cunning of people whose wickedness would have astonished a criminal judge. Ah, how useful one word from Daniel would have been to her at this crisis! But, trembling with anguish for his betrothed, the unhappy man had not dared repeat to her the terrible words which had escaped M. de Brevan, in his first moment of expansion,-- “Miss Brandon leaves the dagger and the poisoned cup to fools, as too coarse and too dangerous means to get rid of people. She has safer means to suppress those who are in her way--means which justice never discovers.” Lost in sombre reflections, the poor girl was forgetting the hour, and did not notice that it had become dark already, when she heard the dinner-bell ring. She was free not to go down; but she revolted at the idea that the Countess Sarah might think her overcome.

So she said to herself,-- “No. “Ah!” she said to herself, “my letter to Daniel. I had forgotten it.” Was it already too late to send it to M. So she gave it to Clarissa, saying,-- “You will take a cab, and take this letter immediately to M. If he is out, you will leave it, telling the people to be sure to give it to him as soon as he comes in. Be discreet.” She herself went down stairs, so determined to conceal her emotion, that she actually had a smile on her lips as she entered the dining-room. The fever that devoured her gave to her features unwonted animation, and to her eyes a strange brilliancy. Her beauty, ordinarily a little impaired, shone forth once more in amazing splendor, so as to eclipse almost that of the countess. After that, no one seemed to mind her presence, except M.

But what was that to her? Affecting a composure which she was far from possessing, she made an effort to eat, when a servant entered, and very respectfully whispered a few words in the ear of the countess. “Nothing, my dear,” she replied, as she took her seat again,--“nothing, some orders to give.” Still Henrietta thought she noticed under this apparent indifference of her step-mother an expression of cruel satisfaction.

Brian rapidly exchange looks, one saying, “Well,” and the other answering, “All right.” The poor girl, prejudiced as she was, felt as if she had been stabbed once more to the heart.

“These wretches,” she thought, “have prepared another insult for me.” This suspicion took so powerfully hold of her, that when dinner was over, instead of returning to her rooms, she followed her father and his new “friends” into the sitting-room. The count and his young wife had probably let it be known that they would be at home that evening; and soon a number of visitors came in, some of them old friends of the family, but the great majority intimates from Circus Street. Henrietta was too busy watching her stepmother to notice how eagerly she herself was examined, what glances they cast at her, and how careful the married ladies, as well as the young girls, were to leave her alone. It required a brutal scene to open her mind to the truth, and to bring her thoughts back to the horrible reality of her situation. That scene came but too soon. As the visitors increased, the conversation had ceased to be general, and groups had formed; so that two ladies came to sit down close by Henrietta. It is incredible, and almost too scandalous.

On the day of her father’s marriage she ran away with somebody, by the aid of a servant, who has since been dismissed; and they had to get the police to help them bring her back. If it had not been for our dear Sarah, who is goodness itself, they would have sent her to a house of correction.” A stifled cry interrupted them. Henrietta had suddenly been taken ill, and had fallen to the ground. Raising Henrietta with a powerful arm, he laid her on a sofa, not forgetting to slip a cushion under her head. Immediately the countess and the other ladies crowded around the fainting girl, rubbing the palms of her hands, moistening her temples with aromatic vinegar and cologne, and holding bottles of salts persistently to her nostrils. Still all efforts to bring her to remained sterile; and this was so extraordinary, that even Count Ville-Handry began to be moved, although at first he had been heard to exclaim,-- “Pshaw!

He rushed, therefore, to the vestibule, calling out to the servants who were there on duty,-- “Quick! Let some one run for the doctor; never mind which,--the nearest!” This acted as a signal for the guests to scatter at once. Finding that this fainting-fit lasted too long, and fearing perhaps a fatal termination, a painful scene, and tears, they slyly slipped out, one by one, and escaped.

“We ought not to leave her here,” said Countess Sarah; “she will be better in her bed.” “Yes, that is true, you are right!” replied the count. “I shall have her carried to her room.” And he was stretching out his hand to pull the bell, when Sir Thorn stopped him, saying in a voice of deep emotion,-- “Never mind, count.

I’ll carry her myself.” And, without waiting for an answer, he took her up like a feather, and carried her to her room, followed by Count Ville-Handry, and his young wife. Every ten minutes he paused in his walk to ask at the door, with a voice full of anxiety,-- “Well?” “She is still in the same condition,” was the answer. They had exhausted all the usual remedies for such cases, and began, evidently, to be not a little surprised at the persistency of the symptoms. Nor could Count Ville-Handry suppress his growing anxiety as he saw them consulting in the recess of one of the windows, discussing more energetic means to be employed. At last, toward midnight, Sir Thorn saw the young countess come out of Henrietta’s room. Then the countess said, speaking very loud, so as to be heard by the servants,-- “She is coming to; and that is why I am leaving her.

First had come a shiver running over her whole body; then she had tried painfully and repeatedly to raise herself on her pillows, looking around,-- Evidently she did not remember what had happened, and mechanically passed her hand to and fro over her brow, as if to brush away the dark veil that was hanging over her mind, looking with haggard eyes at the doctors, at her father, and at her confidante, Clarissa, who knelt by her bedside, weeping.

At last, when, all of a sudden, the horrid reality broke upon her mind, she threw herself back, and cried out,-- “O God!” But she was saved; and the doctors soon withdrew, declaring that there was nothing to apprehend now, provided their prescriptions were carefully observed. The count then came up to his daughter, and, taking her hands, asked her,-- “Come, child. “What do you mean?” And very much embarrassed, perhaps angry against himself, and trying to find an excuse for what he had done, he added, simpering,-- “Is it not your own fault? Why do you treat Sarah so badly, and do all you can to exasperate me?” “Yes, you are right. She said it in a tone of bitter irony now; but afterwards, when she was alone, and more quiet, reflecting in the silence of the night, she had to acknowledge, and confess to herself, that it was so. The scandal by which she had intended to crush her step-mother had fallen back upon herself, and crushed her. de Brevan, who was to bring it to her; and for nothing in the world would she have been absent when he came at last. Attributing his tardiness to some new misfortune, she thought of writing to him, when at last, on Tuesday,--the day which the countess had chosen for her reception-day,--but not until the room was already quite full of company, the servant announced,--“M. At last she was to know him whom her Daniel had called his second self. “That is the man!” said Henrietta to herself; “that is Daniel’s friend!” At first she disliked him excessively.

Daniel had blindly recommended him to her; and that was enough. She had been too severely punished when she tried to follow her own inspirations, ever to think of repeating the experiment. After having been presented to the Countess Sarah and her husband, he had thrown himself into the crowd, and managed, after a while, to get near to her. He went from one group to another, throwing a word to each one, gaining thus, insensibly, and without affectation, a small chair, which was vacant, by the side of Henrietta. And the air of perfect indifference with which he took possession of it would have made you think he had fully measured the danger of risking a confidential talk with a young lady under the eyes of fifty or sixty persons. He commenced with some of those set phrases which furnish the currency of society, speaking loud enough to be heard by the neighbors, and to satisfy their curiosity, if they should have a fancy for listening. Remember that we must not know each other; that we are perfect strangers to each other.” Then he began in a very loud voice to sing the praise of the last new play that had been performed, until finally, thinking that he had put all suspicions asleep, he drew a little nearer, and, casting down his eyes, he said,-- “It is useless to tell you, madam, that I am M. “I have taken the liberty of writing to you, madam, under cover to your maid Clarissa, according to Daniel’s orders; but I hope you will pardon me.” “I have nothing to pardon, sir, but to thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart, for your generous devotion.” No man is perfect. de Brevan; he had to cough a little; and once or twice passed his hand between his collar and his neck, as if he felt troubled in his throat.

“You must have thought,” continued Henrietta, “that I was not in great haste to avail myself of your kind offer; but--there were difficulties--in my way”-- “Oh, yes! de Brevan, sadly shaking his head; “your maid has told me. For she found me at home, as no doubt you have heard; and your letter arrived just in time to be sent on with mine. They will gain a fortnight in this way; for the mail for Cochin China does not leave more than once a month,--on the 26th.” But he paused suddenly, or rather raised his voice to resume his account of the new drama.

Two young ladies had stopped just before them. As soon as they were gone, he went on,-- “I bring you, madam, Daniel’s letter.” “Ah!” “I have folded it up very small, and I have it here in my hand; if you will let your handkerchief fall, I’ll slip it into it as I pick it up.” The trick was not new; but it was also not very difficult. Her letting the handkerchief fall looked any thing but natural; and, when she took it back again, she was all eagerness. de Brevan had the presence of mind to rise suddenly, and to move his chair so as to help her in concealing her embarrassment. Then, when he saw her calm again, he sat down once more, and went on, with an accent of deep interest,-- “Now, madam, permit me to inquire after your position here.” “It is terrible.” “Do they harass you?” “Oh, fearfully!” “No doubt, your step-mother?” “Alas! In appearance she is all kindness to me. Quite frightened, he said,-- “Madam, for Heaven’s sake control yourself!” And, anxious to turn Henrietta’s thoughts from her father, he asked,-- “How is Mrs. Brian to you?” “She always takes sides against me.” “Naturally. And Sir Thorn?” “You wrote me that I should mistrust him particularly, and so I do; but, I must confess, he alone seems to be touched by my misfortunes.” “Ah! that is the very reason why you ought to fear him.” “How so?” M.

But I pray, madam, let this remain a secret between us, to be kept religiously. de Brevan continued silent; then he said in a very sad voice,-- “My experience, madam, supplies me with but one advice,--be patient; say little; do as little as possible; and endeavor to appear insensible to their insults. I would say to you, if you will excuse the triviality of the comparison, imitate those feeble insects who simulate death when they are touched. They are defenceless; and that is their only chance of escape.” He had risen; and, while bowing deeply before Henrietta, he added,-- “I must also warn you, madam, not to be surprised if you see me doing every thing in my power for the purpose of winning the good-will of your step-mother. Believe me, if I tell you that such duplicity is very distasteful to my character.

But I have no other way to obtain the privilege of coming here frequently, of seeing you, and of being useful to you, as I have promised your friend Daniel.” XV. During the last visits which Daniel had paid to Henrietta, he had not concealed from her the fact that Maxime de Brevan had formerly been quite intimate with Sarah Brandon and her friends. But still, in explaining his reasons for trying to renew these relations, M. But for this, she might have conceived some vague suspicions when she saw him, soon after he had left her, enter into a long conversation with the countess, then speak with Sir Thorn, and finally chat most confidentially with austere Mrs. She thought only of that letter which she had in her pocket, and which was burning her fingers, so to say. What would she not have given for the right to run away and read it at once? But adversity was teaching her gradually circumspection; and she felt it would be unwise to leave the room before the last guests had departed. The fact is, that in his terrible distress, Daniel no longer was sufficiently master of himself to look calmly at the future, and to weigh the probabilities. There were hardly twenty lines left for recommendations, which ought to have contained the most precise and minute details. All his suggestions, moreover, amounted to this,--arm yourself with patience and resignation till my return.

And to fill up the measure, from excessive delicacy, and fearing to wound his friend’s oversensitive feelings, Daniel had omitted to inform Henrietta of certain most important circumstances. Thus he only told her, that, if flight became her only means of escape from actual danger, she need not hesitate from pecuniary considerations; that he had foreseen every thing, and made the needful preparations.

How could she guess from this, that the unlucky man, carried away and blinded by passion, had intrusted fifty or sixty thousand dollars, his entire fortune, to his friend Maxime?

Still the two friends agreed too fully on the same opinion to allow her to hesitate. She had vowed to herself that she would meet all the torments they might inflict upon her, with the stoicism of the Indian who is bound to the stake, and to be, among her enemies, like a dead person, whom no insult can galvanize into the semblance of life. During the following weeks it was not so difficult for her to keep her promises. Whether it were weariness or calculation, they seemed to forget her. Except at meals, they took no more notice of her than if she had not been in existence. He only honored her with ironical glances, and never addressed a word to her. The countess observed a kind of affectionate reserve, like a well-disposed person who has seen all her advances repelled, and who is hurt, but quite ready to be friends at the first sign. Brian never opened her thin lips but to growl out some unpleasant remark, of which a single word was intelligible: shocking!

She felt at every moment that she was watched, and overlooked most jealously, even when they seemed to forget her most completely. The great gates, formerly almost always open, were now kept carefully closed; and, when they were opened to admit a carriage, the concierge mounted guard before them, as if he were the keeper of a jail. She wanted to be clear about that; and one morning she asked her father’s permission to send to the Duchess of Champdoce, and beg her to come and spend the day with her. But Count Ville-Handry brutally replied that he did not want to see the Duchess of Champdoce; and that, besides, she was not in Paris, as her husband had taken her south to hasten her recovery.

On another occasion, toward the end of February, and when several days of fine spring weather had succeeded each other, the poor child could not help expressing a desire to go out and breathe a little fresh air. Her father said, in reply to her request,--“Every day, your mother and I go out and drive for an hour or two in the Bois de Boulogne.

She would sooner have allowed herself to be cut to pieces than to appear in public seated by the side of the young countess and in the same carriage with her. Count Ville-Handry had not dared to refuse her that; but he had added the most painful and most humiliating conditions. Ernest, his valet, accompanied her, with express orders not to let her speak to any one whatsoever, and to “apprehend” her (this was the count’s own expression), and to bring her back forcibly, if needs be, if she should try to escape. But in vain they multiplied the insults; they did not extort a single complaint. Her unalterable patience would have touched ordinary executioners. Faithful to the plan which he had mentioned to her, he had managed so well as gradually to secure the right to come frequently to the house.

Brian; and the count invited him to dinner.

Was it not he, who, on certain evenings, when she was well-nigh overcome by despair, whispered to her,-- “Courage; here is another day gone! Daniel will soon be back!” But the more Henrietta was left to the inspirations of solitude, and compelled to live within herself only, the more she observed all that was going on around her. Never would Count Ville-Handry’s first wife have been able to recognize her reception-rooms. Where was that select society which had been attracted by her, and which she had fashioned into something like a court, in which her husband was king? The palace had become, so to say, the headquarters of that motley society which forms the “Foreign Legion” of pleasure and of scandal. Sarah Brandon, now Countess Ville-Handry, was surrounded by that strange aristocracy which has risen upon the ruins of old Paris,--a contraband aristocracy, a dangerous kind of high life, which, by its unheard-of extravagance and mysterious splendor, dazzles the multitude, and puzzles the police. The young countess did not exactly receive people notoriously tainted. She was too clever to commit such a blunder; but she bestowed her sweetest smiles upon all those equivocal Bohemians who represent all races, and whose revenues come much less from good acres in the broad sunlight than from the credulity and stupidity of mankind.

At first Count Ville-Handry had been rather shocked by this new world, whose manners and customs were unknown to him, and whose language even he hardly understood. But it had not taken long to acclimatize him. All these titles secured to him the appearance of profound respect; and all vied with each other in flattering him to the utmost, and paying him court in the most abject manner. This led him to imagine that he had recovered the prestige he had enjoyed in former days, thanks to the skilful management of his first wife; and he assumed a new kind of grotesque importance commensurate with his revived vanity. He had, besides, gone to work once more most industriously. All the business men who had called upon him before his marriage already reappeared now, accompanied by that legion of famished speculators, whom the mere report of a great enterprise attracts, like the flies settling upon a lump of sugar. She was quite sure of it when she saw her father unhesitatingly give up the splendid suite of apartments in the lower story of the palace, which were cut up into an infinite number of small rooms.

Henrietta was seriously alarmed, and knowing beforehand that no one in the house would answer her questions, she turned to M. In the most off-hand manner he assured her that he knew nothing about it, but promised to inquire, and to let her know soon. There was no necessity; for one morning, when Henrietta was wandering about listlessly around the offices, which began to be filled with clerks, she noticed an immense advertisement on one of the doors. She went up to it, and read:-- FRANCO-AMERICAN SOCIETY, For the development of Pennsylvania petroleum wells. At the foot, in small print, was a full explanation of the enormous profits which might be expected, the imperative necessity which had led to the establishment of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Society, the nature of its proposed operations, the immense services which it would render to the world at large, and, above all, the immense profits which would promptly accrue to the stockholders. In less than twenty years the whole world will be lighted and heated by petroleum; and the oil-wells of Pennsylvania are inexhaustible.” A eulogy on the president, Count Ville-Handry, crowned the whole work,--a very clever eulogy, which called him a man sent by Providence; and, alluding to his colossal fortune, suggested that, with such a manager at the head of the enterprise, the shareholders could not possibly run any risk.

“Ah!” she said to herself, “this is what Sarah Brandon and her accomplices were aiming at.

My father is ruined!” That Count Ville-Handry should risk all he possessed in this terrible game of speculation was not so surprising to Henrietta. How could he, with his deeply-rooted aristocratic prejudices, ever consent to lend his name to an industrial enterprise? “It must have cost prodigies of patience and cunning,” she thought, “to induce him to make such a sacrifice, such a surrender of old and cherished convictions. They must have worried him terribly, and brought to bear upon him a fearful pressure.” She was, therefore, truly amazed, when, two days afterwards, she became accidentally a witness to a lively discussion between her father and the countess on this very subject of the famous placards, which were now scattered all over Paris and France. The countess seemed to be distressed by the whole affair, and presented to her husband all the objections which Henrietta herself would have liked to have urged; only she did it with all the authority she derived from the count’s passionate love for her. She did not understand, she said, how her husband, a nobleman of ancient lineage, could stoop to “making money.” Had he not enough of it already?

And, when the countess paused, he deigned to explain to her in that emphatic manner which betrayed his intense conceit, that if he, the representative of the very oldest nobility, threw himself into the great movement, it was for the purpose of setting a lofty example.

He had no desire for “filthy lucre,” he assured her; he only desired to render his country a great service. “Too dangerous a service!” replied the countess.

More than that, if you speak to them of disinterestedness, they will laugh in your face. If the thing fails, on the other hand, who is to pay? And they will call you a dunce into the bargain.” Count Ville-Handry shrugged his shoulders almost imperceptibly; and then he said, taking his wife by the hand,-- “Would you love me less if I were ruined?” She looked at him with her beautiful eyes as if overflowing with affection, and replied in a voice full of emotion,-- “God is my witness, my friend, that I should be delighted to be able to prove to you that I did not think of money when I married you.” “Sarah!” cried the count in ecstasy, “Sarah, my darling, that was a word worth the whole of that fortune which you blame me for risking.” Even if Henrietta had been more disposed to mistrust appearances, she would never have supposed that the whole scene was most cunningly devised for the purpose of impressing upon the count’s feeble intellect this idea more forcibly than ever. She was rather inclined to believe, and she did believe, that this Petroleum Society, conceived by Sir Thorn, was unpleasant to the countess; and that thus discord reigned in the enemy’s camp. The result of her meditations was a long letter to a gentleman for whom her mother had always entertained a great esteem, the Duke of Champdoce. After having explained to him her situation, she told him all that she knew of the new enterprise, and besought him to interfere whilst it was yet time. When she had written her letter, she gave it to Clarissa, urging her to carry it immediately to its address.

the poor girl was rapidly approaching an incident which was to bring about a crisis. Having by chance followed the maid down stairs, she saw her go into the Countess Sarah’s room, and hand her the letter. Was Henrietta thus betrayed even by the girl whom she thought so fully devoted to her interests, and since when? Ah, how many things this explained to her which she had hitherto wondered at as perfectly incomprehensible! This last infamy, however, tempted her to lay aside for once her carefully-nursed reserve. She rushed into the room, crimson with shame and wrath, and said in a fierce tone,-- “Give me that letter, madam!” Clarissa had fled when she saw her treachery discovered. “This letter,” replied the countess coldly, “I shall hand to your father, madam, as it is my duty to do.” “Ah, take care, madam!” broke in the poor girl with a threatening gesture; “take care! My patience has its limits.” Her attitude and her accent were so terrible, that the countess thought it prudent to put a table between herself and her victim. What do you want me to do?” “Nothing, I assure you.” “Nothing? Who forces me to lead this wretched life to which I am condemned?” The countess showed in her features how deeply she was reflecting.

I will ask you, in my turn, who is it that has done every thing that could possibly be done to prevent my marriage?

Who has endeavored to crush me? Who would like to drive me from this house like an infamous person? I hate you; I hate you unto death, and I avenge myself!” “Madam!” “Wait! What had I done to you before my marriage? They came and told you atrocious stories invented by my enemies, and you believed them. Your father told you, ‘They are wicked libels.’ What did you answer? That ‘those only are libelled who deserve it.’ I wanted to prove to you that it is not so. I defy you to find a single person around you who does not believe that you have had lovers.” Extreme situations have this peculiarity, that the principal actors may be agitated by the most furious passions, and still outwardly preserve the greatest calmness. “And you think, madam,” resumed Henrietta, “that sufferings like mine can be long continued?” “They will be continued till it pleases me to make an end to them.” “Or till I come of age.” The countess made a great effort to conceal her surprise.

“Oh!” she said to herself. Daniel Champcey.” “Stop, madam. Had she any right to do so? Still Henrietta saw in it only a new insult; no suspicion entered her soul, and she replied in the most ironical tone,-- “Then it was not you who sent that petition to the secretary of the navy? Champcey to be ordered abroad?” “No; and I told him so myself, the day before he left, in his own room.” Henrietta was stunned. This woman had gone to see Daniel? I foresaw that trick which I could not prevent, and I wished to prevent it. Tell me only one!” The countess courtesied, as if excusing herself for being forced to tell the truth against her inclination, and added simply,-- “I love him!” As if she had suddenly seen an abyss opening beneath her feet, Henrietta threw herself back, pale, trembling, her eyes starting from their sockets. That is what Henrietta was asking herself, as far as she was able to control her thoughts; for she felt her head growing dizzy, and her thoughts rushed wildly through her mind. “You love Daniel!” she repeated once more, “and yet you were married the very week after his departure!” “Alas, yes!” “And what was my father to you?

A magnificent prey, which you did not like to let escape,--an easy dupe. Have you so completely forgotten the zeal with which you heard me, only the other day, try to turn him from this enterprise in which he is about to embark all he possesses?” Henrietta hardly knew whether she was awake or asleep. And, shrugging her shoulders, she added in a careless tone,-- “Do you think I am afraid of your reporting me to him? You are at liberty to try it. I mean to hand him your letter, and I shall call him.” There was no need for it; for at the same moment the count entered, followed by austere, grim Mrs. My Henrietta has come back to her senses, I trust.” They were both silent; and, seeing how they looked at each other with fierce glances, he went on in a tone of great bitterness-- “But no, it is not so! What has happened?” The countess shook her head sadly, and replied,-- “The matter is, that your daughter, during your absence, has written a letter to one of my most cruel enemies, to that man who, you know, on our wedding-day, slandered me meanly; in fine, to the Duke of Champdoce!” “And has any one of my servants dared to carry that letter?” “No, my friend!

It was brought to me in obedience to your orders; and the young lady summoned me haughtily to hand her that letter.” “That letter?” cried the count. “Where is that letter?” The countess gave it to him with these words,-- “Perhaps it would be better to throw it into the fire without reading it.” But already he had torn the envelope; and, as he was reading the first lines, a crimson blush overspread his temples, and his eyes became bloodshot. For Henrietta, sure of the Duke of Champdoce, had not hesitated to open her heart to him, describing her situation as it really was; painting her step-mother as he had anticipated she would be; and at every turn certain phrases were repeated, which were so many blows with a dagger to the count. Such perversity has never been known before.” He went and stood before his daughter, his arms crossed, and cried with a voice of thunder,-- “Wretch! Immovable like a statue, she did not tremble under the storm.

She would not stoop to do that. “I,” she said, “if I were, for my sins, afflicted with such a daughter, I would get her a husband as soon as possible.” “I have thought of that,” replied the count; “and I believe I have even hit upon an arrangement which”-- But, when he saw his daughter’s watchful eye fixed upon him, he paused, and, pointing towards the door, said to her brutally,-- “You are in the way here!” Without saying a word, she went out, much less troubled by her father’s fury than by the strange confessions which the countess had made. She only now began to measure the full extent of her step-mother’s hatred, and knew that she was too practical a woman to waste her time by making idle speeches.

Therefore, if she had stated that she loved Daniel,--a statement which Henrietta believed to be untrue,--if she had impudently confessed that she coveted her husband’s fortune, she had a purpose in view. At all events, the scene was strange enough to confound any one’s judgment. And when Henrietta, that evening, found an opportunity to tell M. You would have thought he was a man who at a single blow sees the edifice of all his hopes crumble to pieces. At last, after a moment’s reflection, he said,-- “Perhaps it would be wise, madam, to leave the house.” But she replied sadly,-- “What? After so many odious calumnies, my honor and Daniel’s honor oblige me to remain here. He recommends me only to flee at the last extremity, and when there is no other resource left. Now, I ask you, shall I be more unhappy or more seriously threatened to-morrow than I am to-day?

A secret voice told her that this scene, no doubt well prepared and carefully brought about, was but another step leading to the final catastrophe. It looked as if they had resolved, after that crisis, to give her a short respite, and time to recover. Even the watch kept upon her movements was not quite as strict as heretofore. Brian had given up the desire to frighten her by her incessant remarks. Thus, a week later, all seemed to have entirely forgotten the terrible explosion produced by the letter to the Duke of Champdoce. “You will have to eat your own words,” he had told her, among other things, “if you use such abominable means to gratify your hatred.” It is true, that, when he thus took his kinswoman aside, he also took pains to be overheard by Henrietta. And besides, for fear, perhaps, that she might not fully appreciate his sentiments, he had stealthily pressed her hand, and whispered into her ear,-- “Poor, dear girl! I shall watch.” This sounded like a promise to afford her protection, which certainly would have been efficient if it had been sincere. He never left the room before her; and, on the reception-evenings, he always took a seat by her, and remained there till the end. The most direct result of these manoeuvres was to keep M.

The latter became naturally very indignant at this, and began to dislike Sir Thorn to such an extent, that he could hardly contain himself. “Well, madam,” he said to Henrietta on one of the few occasions when he could speak to her,--“well, what did I tell you? Does the wretch show his hand clearly enough now?” Henrietta discouraged her curious lover as much as she could; but it was impossible for her to avoid him, as they lived under the same roof, and sat down twice a day at the same table. de Brevan’s advice, “would be, perhaps, to provoke an explanation.” But he did not wait to be asked.

One morning, after breakfast, he waited for Henrietta in the vestibule; and, when she appeared, he said in an embarrassed manner,-- “I must speak to you, madam; it is absolutely necessary.” She did not manifest any surprise, and simply replied,-- “Follow me, sir.” She entered into the parlor, and he came with her. For about a minute they remained there alone, standing face to face,--she trying to keep up her spirits, although blushing deeply; he, apparently so overcome, that he had lost the use of his voice. At last, all of a sudden, and as if making a supreme effort, Sir Thorn began in a breathless voice to declare, that, according to Henrietta’s answer, he would be the happiest or the most unfortunate of mortals. Touched by her innocence, and the persecutions to which she was exposed, he had at first pitied her, then, discovering in her daily more excellent qualities, unusual energy, coupled with all the charming bashfulness of a young girl, he had no longer been able to resist such marvellous attractions. Many in my place would have spoken to your father; but I thought that would hardly be fair in your exceptional position. Still I have reason to believe that Count Ville- Handry would look upon my proposals with favor. But then he would probably have attempted to do violence to your feelings. Now I wish to be indebted to you only, madam, deciding in full enjoyment of your liberty; for”-- An expression of intense anxiety contracted the features of his usually so impassive face; and he added with great earnestness,-- “Miss Henrietta, I am an honorable man; I love you.

But what did that matter to Henrietta? My life is in his hands.” He tottered as if he had received a heavy blow, and stammered with a half-extinct voice,-- “Will you not leave me a glimpse of hope?” “I would do wrong if I did so, sir, and I have never yet deceived any one.” But the Hon. In his carriage, his gestures, and his tone of voice, he betrayed the utmost dejection. And this intense melancholy grew and grew, till it became so evident to all the world, that people asked the countess,-- “What is the matter with poor M. He looks funereal.” “He is unhappy,” was the answer, accompanied by a sigh, which sounded as if it had been uttered in order to increase curiosity, and stimulate people to observe him more closely. Several persons did observe him; and they soon found out that Sir Thorn no longer took his seat by Henrietta as formerly, and that he avoided every occasion to address her a word. And at all times, incessantly and everywhere, she met him, as if he had been her shadow, or as if he had been condemned to breathe the air which had been displaced by her petticoats. de Brevan, having been made aware of his importunate attentions, seemed to check his indignation only with great difficulty.

Once or twice he spoke of calling out this wretched fellow (so he called Sir Thorn); and, in order to quiet him, Henrietta had to repeat to him over and over again, that, after such an encounter, he would no longer be able to appear at the palace, and would thus deprive her of the only friend to whom she could look for assistance. He yielded; but he said after careful consideration,-- “This abominable persecution cannot go on, madam: this man compromises you too dreadfully. You ought to lay your complaint before Count Ville-Handry.” She decided to do so, not without great reluctance; but the count stopped her at the first word she uttered. Elgin, who is one of the most eminent financiers in all Europe, should think of a little insignificant person like you, he would look a long time elsewhere.” “Permit me, father”-- “Stop! If you should, however, not deceive yourself, it would be the greatest good luck for you, and an honor of which you ought to be very proud indeed. Do you think it would be easy to find a husband for you, after all the unpleasant talk to which you have given occasion?” “I do not wish to marry, father.” “Of course not. However, as such a marriage would meet all my wishes, as it would serve to tighten the bonds which unite us with this honorable family (if M.

Thomas Elgin should really have such intentions as you mention), I should know, I think, how to force you to marry him. However, I shall speak to him, and see.” He spoke to him indeed, and soon; for the very next morning the countess and Mrs. Brian purposely went out, so as to leave Henrietta and Sir Thorn alone. He began thus,-- “Is it really true, madam, that you have made complaint to your father?” “Your pertinacity compelled me to do so,” replied Henrietta. “Is the idea of becoming my wife so very revolting to you?” “I have told you, sir, I am no longer free.” “Yes, to be sure! He knows it; for you had told him so, no doubt: and yet he has forsaken you.” Sometimes, in her innermost heart, Henrietta had accused Daniel. But what she thought she would permit no one else to think.

If he had hesitated, I would have been the first one to say to him, ‘Duty calls; you must go.’” Sir Thorn shook his head with a sardonic smile, and said,-- “But he did not hesitate. For his sake you suffer martyrdom; and, when he returns, he may have long since forgotten you.” Her eyes beaming with faith, Henrietta rose to her full height, and replied,-- “I believe in Daniel as surely as in myself.” “And if they convinced you that you were mistaken?” “They would render me a very sad service, which would bring no reward to any one.” Sir Thorn’s lips moved, as if he were about to answer. A thought seemed to stop him.

Then in a stifled voice, with a gesture of despair, he added,-- “Keep your illusions, madam; and farewell.” He was going to leave the room; but she threw herself in his way, crossed her arms, and said to him in an imperative tone,-- “You have gone too far, sir, to retrace your steps. You are bound now to justify your insidious insinuations, or, to confess that they were false.” Then he seemed to make up his mind, and said, speaking rapidly,-- “You will have it so? Her haughty carriage, the disdain, rather than disgust, with which she spoke, could not fail to exasperate M. He checked himself, however, and said, in a short and cutting tone,-- “I say so because it is so; and any one but you, possessing a less noble ignorance of evil, would long since have discovered the truth. To what do you attribute Sarah’s implacable enmity? To the memory of your offences on the occasion of her wedding? Daniel Champcey.” Henrietta felt as if a sharp knife had been plunged into her bosom.

Brian and myself cruelly.” “How so?” He turned his head aside, and murmured, as if speaking to himself,-- “-------- -------- was her lover.” Miss Ville-Handry discerned the truth with admirable instinct, drew herself up, and said in her most energetic way,-- “That is false!” Sir Thorn trembled; but that was all. “You have asked me to tell the truth,” he said coldly, “and I have done so. Try to remember. After having been one of the foremost to recommend to Sarah to marry your father, M. Champcey came and asked her to give up that marriage. He had, before that, tried to have it broken off through your agency, madam, using thus his influence over you, his betrothed, for the benefit of his passion.” “Ah! To this charge, which fell like a blow upon his face, he only replied,-- “I have proofs.” “What proofs?” “Letters written by M. Champcey to Sarah.

I have obtained two; and I have them here in my pocket-book.” He put at the same time his hand to his pocket. She stopped him. “These letters would prove nothing to me, sir.” “But”-- She cast a withering glance at him, and said, in a voice of unbearable contempt,-- “Those who have sent a letter to the Navy Department, which pretended to have been written by Daniel, cannot find any difficulty in imitating his signature. I forbid you ever to speak to me again.” M.

Instead of answering him, she drew a step aside, thus opening the way to the door, at which she pointed with her finger. “Well,” said Sir Thorn with an accent of fierce threatening, “remember this; I have sworn you shall be my wife, whether you will or not; and my wife you shall be!” “Leave the room, sir, or I must give it up to you!” He went out swearing; and, more dead than alive, Henrietta sank into an arm-chair. As long as she had been in the presence of the enemy, her pride had enabled her to keep up the appearance of absolute faith in Daniel; but, now she was alone, terrible doubts began to beset her. Finally, Henrietta recalled with a shudder, that, when Daniel had told her of his adventure in Circus Street, he had appeared embarrassed towards the end, and had failed fully to explain the reasons of his flight.

And to crown the matter, when she had tried to draw from M. A new persecution awaited her, infamous, monstrous, by the side of which all the others amounted to nothing.

“Whether you will, or not, you shall be mine,” had Sir Thorn said; and from that moment he was bent upon convincing her that he was not the man to shrink from any thing, even unto violence. He no longer looked at her furtively, as formerly; but he lay in wait for her in the passages, ready, apparently, to throw himself upon her; projecting his lips as if to touch her cheeks, and extending his arms as if to seize her around her waist. Terrified, the poor girl threw herself on her knees before her father, beseeching him to protect her. She thought she could not; and after long and painful hesitation, she said one evening to M. de Brevan had turned deadly pale; and the perspiration pearled in large drops on his temples, while his hands trembled like the eager hands of a man who touches, and is about to seize, a long-coveted prize.

And yet, before risking any thing decisive, it might be better first to write to Daniel’s aunt in order to ask her about the directions she may have received, and to tell her that very soon I shall come to ask for her pity and her protection.” “What? de Brevan, now entirely master of himself, and calculating with his usual calmness, gravely shook his head, and said,-- “You ought to be careful, madam. To seek an asylum at the house of our friend’s relative might be a very grave imprudence.” “But Daniel recommended it to me in his letter.” “Yes; but he had not considered the consequences of the advice he gave you. It would be folly to hope for safety there.” Pensively Henrietta hung her head. 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. de Brevan; and he answered in his most persuasive manner,-- “Will you permit me to offer you some advice, madam?” “Alas, sir! I beg you to do so for Heaven’s sake.” “Well, this is the only plan that seems to me feasible. To-morrow morning I will rent in a quiet house a suitable lodging, less than modest, a little chamber. You will move into it, and await there your coming of age, or Daniel’s return. No detective will ever think of seeking the daughter of Count Ville-Handry in a poor needlewoman’s garret.” “And I am to stay there alone, forsaken and lost?” “It is a sacrifice which it seems to me you have to make for safety’s sake.” She said nothing, weighing the two alternatives,--to remain in the house, or to accept M.

Formerly I used to have always a couple of hundred dollars in my drawers somewhere; but now”-- “Madam,” broke in M. de Brevan, “madam, is not my whole fortune entirely at your disposal?” “To be sure, I have my jewels; and they are quite valuable.” “For that very reason you ought to be careful not to take them with you. Then, finding that Henrietta was bent upon escaping, he tried to devise the means.

Henrietta proposed that they should wait for a night when the count would take the countess to a ball. She might then slip into the garden, and climb the wall. But the attempt seemed to be too dangerous in M.

Count Ville-Handry is going soon to give a great party?” “The day after to-morrow, Thursday.” “All right. On Thursday, madam, you will complain early in the morning already, of a bad headache, and you will send for the doctor. At night, however, towards ten o’clock, you will come down and conceal yourself at the foot of the back-stairs, in the corner of the courtyard. My coachman, whom I will instruct beforehand, instead of stopping at the great entrance, will pretend to go amiss, and stop just at the foot of the staircase. I will jump out; and you, you will swiftly jump into the carriage.” “Yes, that also can be done.” “As the curtains will be down, no one will see you. de Brevan regulated his watch by Henrietta’s; and then, rising, he said,-- “We have already conversed longer than we ought to have done in prudence.

I shall not speak to you again to-night. A voice had called to her, from her innermost heart, that her honor, her life, and all her earthly hopes, had thus been staked upon one card. Daniel had been absent for nearly a year now, and during all that time she had written to him every month; but she had received from him only two letters through M. Yes, she must face unknown dangers, but only in order to escape from dangers which she knew but too well. She was relying upon a man who was almost a stranger to her; but was not this the only way to escape from the insults of a wretch who had become the boon companion, the friend, and the counsellor of her father? She bade farewell to this beloved house, full of souvenirs of eighteen years in which she had played as a child, where Daniel’s voice had caused her heart to beat loud and fast, and where her sainted mother had died. The next day, however, Thursday, Henrietta complained, as was agreed upon, of a violent headache; and the doctor was sent for. He found her in a violent fever, and ordered her to keep her bed.

He little knew that he was thus restoring the poor girl to liberty. As soon as he had left, she rose; and, like a dying person who makes all her last dispositions, she hastened to put every thing in order in her drawers, putting together what she meant to keep, and burning what she wished to keep from the curiosity of the countess and her accomplices. de Brevan had recommended her not to take her jewels. Upon reflection it did not seem to her inexpedient to take a small carpet- bag, which her mother had given her, and which contained a dressing- case, all the articles in which were of solid gold and of marvellously fine workmanship.

When her preparations were complete, she wrote to her father a long letter, in which she explained fully the motives of her desperate resolution. She could hear the hasty steps of busy servants, the loud orders of butlers and stewards, the hammer of upholsterers who gave here and there a final touch.

Acting almost automatically, she rose, threw an immense cashmere shawl over her shoulders; and, taking her little bag in her hand, she escaped from her room, and slipped along the passages to the servants’ stairs. She went on tiptoe, holding her breath, eye and ear on the watch, ready at the smallest noise to run back, or to rush into the first open room. de Brevan’s coupe stopped at the door. Pretending to have lost the control of his horse, he made it turn round, and forced it back with such admirable awkwardness, that the carriage came close up to the wall, and the right hand door was precisely in the face of the dark little hall in which Henrietta was standing. A moment later the carriage slowly drove out of the court-yard of the palace of Count Ville-Handry, and stopped at some little distance. I have just presented my respects to the Countess Sarah and her worthy companions; I have shaken hands with Count Ville-Handry; and no one has the shadow of a suspicion.” And, as Henrietta said nothing, he added,-- “Now I think we ought to lose no time; for I must show myself again at the ball as soon as possible. Your lodgings are ready for you, madam; and I am going, with your leave, to drive you there.” She raised herself, and said, with a great effort,-- “Do so, sir!” M. de Brevan had already jumped into the carriage, which started at full gallop; and, while they were driving along, he explained to Henrietta how she would have to conduct herself in the house in which he had engaged a lodging for her. He had spoken of her, he said, as of one of his relatives from the provinces, who had suffered a reverse of fortune, and who had come to Paris in the hope of finding here some way to earn her living.

And especially be careful never to utter my name or your father’s. Remember that you are still under age, that you will be searched for anxiously, and that the slightest indiscretion may put them upon your traces.” Then, as she still kept silent, weeping, he wanted to take her hand, and thus noticed the little bag which she had taken. “What is that?” he asked, in a tone, which, under its affected gentleness, betrayed no small dissatisfaction. de Brevan began to strike her as odd; and she would have betrayed her surprise, if the carriage had not at that moment stopped suddenly before No. de Brevan walked straight up to it, and opened the door like a man who is at home in a house. de Brevan, “my young kinswoman, of whom I told you, Miss Henrietta.” If Henrietta had had the slightest knowledge of Parisian customs, she would have guessed from the bows of the concierge, and the courtesies of his wife, how liberally they had been rewarded in advance.

And I--I made a fine fire there as early as five o’clock, to take out the dampness.” “Let us go up then,” said Brevan. “Give me a candlestick, Chevassat,” said the woman to her husband. de Brevan and Henrietta, and stopping at every landing to praise the neatness of the house. At last, in the fifth story, at the entrance to a dark passage, she opened a door, and said,-- “Here we are! The young lady will see how nice it is.” It might possibly have been nice in her eyes; but Henrietta, accustomed to the splendor of her father’s palace, could not conceal a gesture of disgust. This more than modest chamber looked to her like a garret such as she would not have permitted the least of her maids to occupy at home. She went in bravely, putting her travelling-bag on a bureau, and taking off her shawl, as if to take possession of the lodging. He drew her into the passage while the woman was stirring the fire, and said in a low voice,-- “It is a terrible room; but prudence induced me to choose it.” “I like it as it is, sir.” “You will want a great many things, no doubt; but we will see to that to-morrow.

To-night I must leave you: you know it is all important that I should be seen again at your father’s house.” “You are quite right; sir, go, make haste!” Still he did not wish to go without having once more recommended his “young kinswoman” to Mrs. He only left when she had over and over again assured him that there was nothing more to be done; and then the woman also went down. The terrible emotions which had shaken and undermined Henrietta during the last forty-eight hours were followed now by a feeling of intense astonishment at what she had done, at the irrevocable step she had taken. Her quiet life had been interrupted by an event which to her appeared more stupendous than if a mountain had been moved. Standing by the mantle-piece, she looked at her pale face in the little looking-glass, and said to herself,-- “Is that myself, my own self?” Yes, it was she herself, the only daughter of the great Count Ville- Handry, here in a strange house, in a wretched garret-room, which she called her own. It was she, yesterday still surrounded by princely splendor, waited on by an army of servants, now in want of almost every thing, and having for her only servant the old woman to whom M. She could not remain any longer in her father’s house where she was exposed to the vilest insults from everybody. “But what is the use,” she said to herself, “of thinking of what is past? I must not allow myself to think of it; I must shake off this heaviness.” And, to occupy her mind, she rose and went about to explore her new home, and to examine all it contained.

The floor, laid in bricks, was going to pieces; and a number of bricks were loose, and shaking in their layers of cement. He had told her, and she had believed him, that they must use extreme caution. “At least,” she said, “I shall be quiet and undisturbed here.” Perhaps she was to be morally quiet; for as to any other peace, she was soon to be taught differently. Accustomed to the profound stillness of the immense rooms in her father’s palace, Henrietta had no idea, of course, of the incessant movement that goes on in the upper stories of these Paris lodging-houses, which contain the population of a whole village, and where the tenants, separated from each other by thin partition-walls, live, so to say, all in public. Sleep, under such circumstances, becomes possible only after long experience; and the poor girl had to pay very dear for her apprenticeship. It was broad daylight, hence, when she awoke; and a pale sun-ray was gliding into the room through the torn curtain.

But to-day! This thought carried her back to her father’s house. Her father, most probably, had gone to call in the aid of the police. “Not seeing you come down, I said to myself, ‘I must go up to look after her.’ And have you slept well?” “Very well, madam, thank you!” “Now, that’s right. “I would be obliged to you, madam,” she said, “if you would bring me up some breakfast.” “If I would! Just give me the time to boil an egg, and to roast a cutlet, and I’ll be up again.” Ordinarily sour-tempered, and as bitter as wormwood, Mrs.

The efforts she made were too manifest not to arouse the very worst suspicions. Then, while Henrietta was eating, she sat down on a chair near the door, and commenced talking, without ever stopping. To hear her, the new tenant ought to thank her guardian angel who had brought her to this charming house, No. They are all people of notoriously high standing, from the wealthy old ladies in the best story to Papa Ravinet in the fourth story, and not excepting the young ladies who live in the small rooms in the back building.” Then, having passed them all in review, she began praising M. She declared that he had won her heart from the beginning, when he had first come to the house, day before yesterday, to engage the room. With her great experience, she had at once recognized in him one of those men who seem to be born expressly for the purpose of inspiring the most violent passions, and of securing the most lasting attachments. Besides, she added with a hideous smile, she was sure of his deep interest in her pretty new tenant; and she was so well convinced of this, that she would be happy to devote herself to her service, even without any prospect of payment. This did not prevent her from saying to Henrietta, as soon as she had finished her breakfast,-- “You owe me two francs, miss; and, if you would like it, I can board you for five francs a day.” Thereupon she went into a lively discussion to show that this would be on her part a mere act of kindness, because, considering how dear every thing was, she would most assuredly lose. But Henrietta stopped her.

Drawing from her purse a twenty-franc piece, she said,-- “Make yourself paid, madam.” This was evidently not what the estimable woman expected; for she drew back with an air of offended dignity, and protested,-- “What do you take me to be, miss? Maxime?” Thereupon she quickly folded the napkin, took the plates, and disappeared.

Henrietta did not know what to think of it. What frightened her most of all was the feeling that she was evidently altogether at M. All her possessions amounted to about two hundred francs. Was he waiting for her to tell him of her distress, and to ask him for money? She could not think so, and she attributed his neglect to his excitement, thinking that he would no doubt come soon to ask how she was, and place himself at her service. Torn by a thousand wild apprehensions, Henrietta was more than once on the point of going to his house. The flight of the daughter of Count Ville-Handry was known all over Paris, and he was suspected of having aided and abetted her: so they had told him, he said, at his club. He also added that it would be imprudent in him to stay longer; and he left again, without having said a word to Henrietta, and without having apparently noticed her destitution. And thus, for three days, he only came, to disappear almost instantly. He always came painfully embarrassed, as if he had something very important to tell her; then his brow clouded over; and he went away suddenly, without having said any thing.

Henrietta, tortured by terrible doubts, felt unable to endure this atrocious uncertainty any longer. She determined to force an explanation when, on the fourth day, M.

As soon as he had entered, he locked the door, and said in a hoarse voice,-- “I must speak to you, madam, yes, I must!” He was deadly pale; his white lips trembled; and his eyes shone with a fearful light, like those of a man who might have sought courage in strong drink. “I am ready to listen,” replied the poor girl, all trembling. He hesitated again for a moment; then overcoming his reluctance, apparently by a great effort, he said,-- “Well, I wish to ask you if you have ever suspected what my real reasons were for assisting you to escape?” “I think, sir, you have acted from kind pity for me, and also from friendship for M. “Leave me, sir!” she said peremptorily, but with a voice trembling with indignation. But he advanced towards her with open arms, and went on,-- “Yes, I love you madly, and for a long time,--ever since the first day I saw you.” Henrietta, however, had swiftly moved aside, and opened the window. “If you advance another step, I shall cry for help.” He stopped, and, changing his tone, said to her,-- “Ah! Must I call?” He was frightened, backed to the door, and half opened it; then he said,-- “You refuse me to-day; but, before the month is over, you will beg me to come to you. Overcome with horror, her hair standing at an end, and shaken by nervous spasms, poor Henrietta was trying to measure the depth of the abyss into which she had thrown herself. Voluntarily, and with the simplicity of a child, she had walked into the pit which had been dug for her.

Now she understood but too well all the mysterious movements that had so puzzled her in M. She saw how profound had been his calculations when he recommended her so urgently not to take her jewels with her while escaping from her father’s house, nor any object of value; for, if she had had her jewelry, she would have been in possession of a small fortune; she would have been independent, and above want, at least for a couple of years. de Brevan wanted her to have nothing. with what crushing contempt she would reject his first proposals; but he flattered himself with the hope that isolation, fear, destitution would at last reduce her to submission, and enable him-- “It is too horrible,” repeated the poor girl,--“too horrible!” And this man had been Daniel’s friend! And it was he to whom Daniel, at the moment of sailing, had intrusted his betrothed! Thomas Elgin was no doubt a formidable bandit, faithless and unscrupulous; but he was known as such: he was known to be capable of any thing, and thus people were on their guard. Henrietta thought she could divine what was the traitor’s final aim. In obtaining possession of her, he no doubt thought he would secure to himself a large portion of Count Ville-Handry’s immense fortune. They both coveted the same thing; and each one trembled lest the other should first get hold of the treasure which he wanted to secure. “Ah!” she said to herself, “they have one feeling, at all events, in common; and that is hatred against me.” A few months ago, so fearful and so sudden a catastrophe would have crushed Henrietta, in all probability.

But she had endured so many blows during the past year, that she bore this also; for it is a fact that the human heart learns to bear grief as the body learns to endure fatigue. Moreover, she called in to her assistance a light shining high above all this terrible darkness,--the remembrance of Daniel. Her reason told her, that, if he had really loved Sarah Brandon, her enemies, M. de Brevan, would not have taken such pains to make her believe it. She thought, therefore, she was quite certain that he would return to her with his heart devoted to her as when he left her. to think of the grief and the rage of this man, when he should hear how wickedly and cowardly he had been betrayed by the man whom he called his friend!

He would know how to restore the count’s daughter to her proper position, and how to avenge her. She did not ask herself that question; for she was yet in that first stage of enthusiasm, when we are full of heroic resolves which do not allow us to see the obstacles that are to be overcome. But she soon learned to know the first difficulties in her way, thanks to Dame Chevassat, who brought her her dinner as the clock struck six, according to the agreement they had made. Only I should like to know what you mean to do?” “About what?” “Why, about your board.” “I shall find the means, madam, you may be sure.” The old woman, however, who knew from experience what that cruel word, “living,” sometimes means with poor forsaken girls, shook her head seriously, and answered,-- “So much the better; so much the better! Maxime was going to pay for it; he has told me so. de Brevan to watch her, she affected a perfectly calm air.

But, when the old woman was gone, she sank into a chair, and said,-- “I am lost!” There was, in fact, no refuge for her, no help to be expected. Should she return to her father, and implore the pity of his wife? death itself would be more tolerable than such a humiliation. de Brevan, would she not fall into the hands of M. In greater distress than the shipwrecked man who in vain examines the blank horizon, she looked around for some one to help her. She forced her mind to recall all the people she had ever known. she knew, so to say, nobody.

Since her mother had died, and she had been living alone, no one seemed to have remembered her, unless for the purpose of calumniating her. I shall be saved!” Her safety depended upon one single point: if she could manage to live till she came of age, or till Daniel returned, all was right. “Is it really so hard to live?” she thought.

Because the children of poor people have served, so to say, from the cradle, an apprenticeship of poverty,--because they are not afraid of a day without work, or a day without bread,--because cruel experience has armed them for the struggle,--because, in fine, they know life, and they know Paris,--because their industry is adapted to their wants, and they have an innate capacity to obtain some advantage from every thing, thanks to their smartness, their enterprise, and their energy. But Count Ville-Handry’s only daughter--the heiress of many millions, brought up, so to say, in a hothouse, according to the stupid custom of modern society--knew nothing at all of life, of its bitter realities, its struggles, and its sufferings.

“That is enough,” she said to herself. “What we will do, we can do.” Thus resolved to seek aid from no one, she set to work examining her condition and her resources. As to objects of any value, she owned the cashmere which she had wrapped around her when she fled, the dressing-case in her mother’s travelling-bag, a brooch, a watch, a pair of pretty ear-rings, and, lastly, two rings, which by some lucky accident she had forgotten to take off, one of which was of considerable value. since she was resolved to sell it. She wanted to have it all settled, so as to get rid of this sense of uncertainty; she wanted, especially, to pay for the scanty, wretched furniture in her chamber. Whom could she ask to help her? Chevassat; for her instincts told her, that, if she once let that terrible woman see what were her necessities, she would be bound hand and foot to her. She was thinking it out, when the idea of the pawnbroker occurred to her. “That is the place I must go to,” Henrietta said to herself. But how was she to find one?

So she went down, to Mrs. Chevassat’s great astonishment, but without answering her questions, where she was going to in such a hurry. “And still I won’t go home till I have found it,” she said to herself wrathfully. This resolution gave her courage to go up to a policeman, and, crimson like a poppy, to ask him,-- “Will you be so kind, sir, as to tell me a pawnbroker’s shop?” The man looked with pity at the young girl, whose whole person exhaled a perfume of distinction and of candor, asking himself, perhaps, what terrible misfortune could have reduced a lady like her to such a step; then he answered with a sigh,-- “There, madam, at the corner of the first street on the right, you will find a loan office.” “Loan office?” These words suggested to Henrietta no clear idea. She went on in feverish haste, recognized the house that had been pointed out to her, went up stairs, and, pushing open a door, found herself in a large room, where some twenty people were standing about, waiting. On the right hand three or four clerks, shut off from the public by a railing breast-high, were writing down the names of the depositors, and counting out money. Far back, a large opening was visible, where another clerk appeared from time to time, to take in the articles that were pawned. After waiting for five minutes, and without asking a question from anybody, Henrietta understood the whole process. Trembling as if she had committed a crime, she went to the opening behind, and put upon the ledge one of her rings, the most valuable of the two.

Then she waited, not daring to look up; for it seemed to her as if all eyes were upon her. Whose is it?” The large amount caused all to look around; and a big woman, but too well dressed, and with a very impudent expression, said,-- “Oh, oh! You shall have it back when you bring me the papers, or when you come accompanied by two merchants who are known to us.” “But, sir”-- “That is so.” And, finding that he had lost time enough, he went on,-- “One velvet cloak! Whose is it?” Henrietta was rushing out, and down the stairs, pursued, as it seemed to her, by the cries of the crowd. Did he think she had stolen the ring? And what was to become of it? The police would inquire; they would trace her out; and she would be carried back to her father’s house, and given up to Sir Thorn. She confessed her discomfiture to Mrs. The honest woman tried to look as grave as an attorney whom a great client consults, who has unwittingly stirred up a wasps’ nest; and, when her tenant had finished, she said in a voice apparently half drowned in tears,-- “Poor little kitten, poor little innocent kitten!” But, if she succeeded in giving to her face an expression of sincere sympathy, the greedy look in her eyes betrayed but too clearly her immense satisfaction at seeing Henrietta at last at her feet. “After all,” she said, “you are prodigiously lucky in your misfortunes; for you are too imprudent in all conscience.” And, as the poor girl was not a little astonished at this, she went on,-- “Yes, you ran a great risk; and I can easily prove it to you.

But after all, if you carry your jewels yourself to the ‘Uncle,’ you go, so to say, and rush right into the lion’s mouth. my beautiful friend, you would have fared pretty badly, I dare say.” And then, changing her tone, she began scolding her beautiful young lady for having concealed her troubles from her. Did she look like such a terrible creditor?

what life was here below, and that we are bound to help one another. To be sure, there was that furniture dealer, who must be paid; but she would have been quite willing to make him wait; and why should he not? She had got very different people to wait!

Why, only last week, she had sent one of those men away, and a dressmaker into the bargain, who came to levy upon one of her tenants in the back building,--the very nicest, and prettiest, and best of them all.

Why, that is murder, as long as there is some one at hand quite ready to do any thing for you.” At this sudden, but not altogether unexpected attack, Henrietta trembled. Chevassat, “if it were only to be agreeable to you, he would give one of his arms, this poor M. Maxime.” Henrietta looked so peremptorily at her, that the worthy lady seemed to be quite disconcerted. “I forbid you,” cried the young lady, with a voice trembling with indignation,--“I forbid you positively ever to mention his name!” The woman shrugged her shoulders. And then, ready to change the conversation, she added,-- “Well, then, let us return to your ring. What do you propose to do?” “That is exactly why I came to you,” replied Henrietta. “I do not know what is to be done in such a case.” Mrs. “And you did very well to come to us,” she said.

“Chevassat will go, take the charcoal-dealer and the grocer next door with him; and before going to bed you will have your money, I promise you! You see he understands pretty well how to make the clerks do their duty, my Chevassat.” That evening the excellent man really condescended to go up stairs, and to bring Henrietta himself eight hundred and ninety-five francs.

He did not bring the whole nine hundred francs, he said; for, having put his two neighbors to some inconvenience, he was bound, according to established usage, to invite them to take something. He could take his oath upon that; for he preferred by far leaving that little matter to the beautiful young lady’s liberality. “Here are ten francs,” said Henrietta curtly, in order to make an end to his endless talk.

How many days, how many months, this sum would have secured to her, if the furniture-dealer had not been there with his bill! He did not fail to present himself next day, accompanied by Mrs. When he was gone, she sadly counted from one hand into the other the twenty-three gold-pieces that were left, when suddenly a thought occurred to her, that might have saved her, if she had followed it out. It was the thought of leaving the house by stealth, of going to the station of the Orleans Railway, and of taking the first train for the home of Daniel’s aunt. she was content with writing to her, and remained. This inspiration was, moreover, to be the last favor which Providence vouchsafed to Henrietta,--an opportunity which, once allowed to pass, never returns. She had vowed to herself, the unfortunate girl, that she would economize her little hoard like the blood in her veins. de Brevan had gone to engage this garret-room, he had thought of nothing; or rather (and such a calculation was quite in keeping with his cold-blooded rascality) he had taken his measures so that his victim must soon be in utter destitution. Without any other clothes than those she wore on the night of her flight, she had no linen, no shoes, not a towel even to wipe her hands, unless she borrowed them from her friend down stairs. Accustomed as she was to all the comforts of boundless wealth, and to all the refinements of cleanliness, these privations became to her a genuine martyrdom.

The sum was enormous at a time when she could already count the days to the hour when she would be without bread. In addition to that she had to pay Mrs. Five francs were another enormous sum which troubled her grievously; for she would have been quite willing to live on bread and water. Chevassat had shot at her a venomous glance, which pierced her to the very marrow of her bones. “It must be done,” she said to herself. It is true, that, for such a consideration, the terrible woman was all attention for her “poor little pussy-cat;” for thus she had definitely dubbed Henrietta, becoming daily more familiar, and adding this odious and irritating presumption to all the other tortures of the poor girl. Many a time poor Henrietta had been made so indignant and furious, that she had been on the point of rebelling; but she had never dared, submitting to this familiarity for the same reason for which she paid her five francs every day.

She declared she could not comprehend how her “little pussy-cat,” young and pretty as she was, could consent to live as she did.

Then she always came back to M. Maxime, who continued to call regularly twice a day, the poor young man! “And more than that, poor little pussy,” she added, “you will see that one of these days he will summon courage enough to come and offer you an apology.” But Henrietta would not believe that.

Chevassat, who brought her her breakfast, she went to the door and opened it, without asking who was there. “I have come, madam,” he said, “to ask if you have reconsidered.” She made no reply, looking at him with an air of contempt which would have caused a man with some remnant of honor in his heart to flee from the spot instantly. I have led you into this snare, and I have meanly betrayed a friend’s confidence; but I have an excuse. I shall not even attempt to clear myself. I came solely for the purpose of enlightening you in regard to your own position, which you do not seem to realize.” If she had followed her own impulses, Henrietta would have driven the wretch away. But she thought she ought to know his intentions and his plans. de Brevan, apparently trying to collect his thoughts, “bear this in mind, madam. All Paris is convinced, by this time, that I have run away with you; and that I keep you concealed in a charming place, where we enjoy our mutual love; in fact, that you are my mistress.” He seemed to expect an explosion of wrath.

“What would you have?” he went on in a tone of sarcasm. Two friends of mine, who reached the palace on foot when I drove up, saw you jump into my coupe; and, as if that had not been enough, that absurd M. We had a duel, and I have wounded him.” The manner in which the young girl shrugged her shoulders showed but too clearly that she did not believe M. He added,-- “If you doubt it, madam, pray read this, then, at the top of the second column.” She took the paper which he offered her, and there she read,-- “Yesterday, in the woods near Vincennes, a duel with swords was fought between M. It is said that the sudden and very surprising disappearance of one of the greatest heiresses of the Faubourg Saint Germain was not foreign to this duel. de B---- is reported to know too much of the beautiful young lady’s present home for the peace of the family. But surely these lines ought to be more than enough on the subject of an adventure which will ere long, no doubt, end in a happy and brilliant marriage.” “You see, madam,” said M. de Brevan, when he thought Henrietta had had time enough to read the article, “you see it is not I who advise marriage. de Brevan seemed to turn, if possible, whiter than before. Sooner or later you will have to choose.” “I shall not choose, sir.” “Oh, just wait till poverty has come!

Then you think, perhaps, you will only need to implore your father to come to your assistance. Your father has no other will but that of the Countess Sarah; and the Countess Sarah will have it so, that you marry Sir Thorn.” “I shall not appeal to my father, sir.” “Then you probably count upon Daniel’s return? I have told you Daniel loves the Countess Sarah; and, even if he did not love her, you have been too publicly disgraced for him ever to give you his name. Go to the navy department, and they will tell you that ‘The Conquest’ is out on a cruise of two years more. de Brevan bowed, as if he intended to say,-- “Yes, unless you should be dead: that was what I meant.” Then, opening the door, he added,-- “Let me hope, madam, that this is not your last word. I shall, however, have the honor of calling every week to receive your orders.” And, bowing, he left the room. No, she could not admit that he had come to see if she had reflected, nor that he really cherished that abominable hope, that misery, hunger, and fear would drive her into his arms. “He ought to know me well enough,” she thought with a new access of wrath, “to be sure that I would prefer death a thousand times.” There was no doubt in her mind that this step, which had evidently been extremely painful to himself, had become necessary through some all-powerful consideration.

All he had told her as to the consequences of her flight, she had foreseen before she had resolved to escape. He had told her nothing new, but his duel with Sir Thorn; and, when she considered the matter, she thought that, also, quite natural. de Brevan understood each other, and pursued a common purpose, never entered her mind; and, if it had suggested itself, she would have rejected it as absurd. Must she, then, come to the conclusion that M. de Brevan had really, when he appeared before her, no other aim but to drive her to despair? what advantage would that be to him?

The man who wants to make a girl his own does not go to work to chill her with terror, and to inspire her with ineffable disgust. de Brevan would have a terrible account to give to that brave sailor who had trusted him with the care of his betrothed. Had he any reasons to think that Daniel might perish in this dangerous campaign? And, as she recalled this, her heart sank within her, and she felt as if she were going to faint. “Oh, I must warn Daniel!” she exclaimed, “I must warn him, and not lose a minute.” And, although she had written him a long letter only the day before, she wrote again, begging him to be watchful, to mistrust everybody, because most assuredly his life was threatened. And this letter she carried herself to the post-office, convinced as she was that to confide it to Mrs. Chevassat would have been the same as to send it to M. It was astonishing, however, how the estimable lady seemed to become day by day more attached to Henrietta, and how expansive and demonstrative her affections grew. At all hours of the day, and on the most trivial pretexts, she would come up, sit down, and for entire hours entertain her with her intolerable speeches.

She did not put any restraint upon herself any longer, but talked “from the bottom of her heart” with her “dear little pussy-cat,” as if she had been her own daughter. It looked as if the horrible Megsera had been deputed by Henrietta’s enemies for the special purpose of demoralizing and depraving her, if possible, and to drive her into the brilliant and easy life of sin in which so many unhappy women perish. She had gotten into the habit of thinking of other things while the old woman was holding forth; and her noble soul floated off to regions where these vulgarities could reach her no more.

But a new source of trouble roused her soon after from this dull monotony. It became urgent to resort once more to the pawnbroker; for these were the first days of April, and the honeyed words of Mrs.

Chevassat had given her to understand that she had better get ready to pay on the 8th her rent, which amounted to a hundred francs. She intrusted therefore to the concierge the remaining ring to be pawned. Calculating from the sum she had received for the first ring, she hoped to obtain for this one, at the very least, five or six hundred francs. At first, she was convinced the man had robbed her; and she gave him to understand that she thought so. “Look there,” he said, “and remember to whom you are talking!” On the receipt she read in fact these words: “Advanced, two hundred francs.” Convinced of the injustice of her accusations, Henrietta had to make her apologies, and hardly succeeded by means of a ten-franc-piece in soothing the man’s wounded feelings. the poor girl did not know that one is always at liberty to pledge an article only for a given sum, a part of its real value; and she was too inexperienced in such matters to notice the reference to that mode of pawning on her receipt. The second day after that, she was once more without money, and, according to Mrs.

Chevassat’s elegant expression, forced to “live on her poor possessions.” But the pawnbroker had too cruelly disappointed her calculations: she would not resort to him again, and risk a second disappointment. This time she thought she would, instead of pawning, sell, her gold- dressing-case; and she requested the obliging lady below to procure her a purchaser. “To sell such a pretty toy!” she said, “it’s murder! If, on the other hand, you carry it to ‘Uncle’ you can take it out again as soon as you have a little money.” But she lost her pains, she saw and at last consented to bring up a kind of dealer in toilet-articles, an excellent honest man, she declared, in whom one could put the most absolute confidence.

After an hour’s irritating discussions, after having ten times pretended to leave the room, he drew with many sighs his portemonnaie from its secret home, and counted upon the table the seven hundred francs in gold upon which Henrietta had stoutly insisted. That was enough to pay Mrs.

“But no,” said the poor young girl to herself, “that would be pusillanimous in the highest degree.” And that very evening she summoned all her courage, and told the formidable woman in a firm tone of voice, that henceforth she would only take one meal, dinner. She had chosen this half-way measure in order not to avoid a scene, for that she knew she could not hope for, but a regular falling-out. Contrary to all expectations, the concierge’s wife appeared neither surprised nor angry. She only shrugged her shoulders as she said,-- “As you like, my ‘little pussy-cat.’ Only believe me, it is no use economizing in one’s eating.” From the day of this coup d’etat, Henrietta went down every morning herself to buy her penny-roll and the little supply of milk which constituted her breakfast. For the rest of the day she did not leave her room, busying herself with her great work; and nothing broke in upon the distressing monotony of her life but the weekly visits of M. For he did not forget his threat; and every week Henrietta was sure to see him come. He came in with a solemn air, and coldly asked if she had reflected since he had had the honor of presenting his respects to her. I have time; I can wait.” If he hoped thus to conquer Henrietta more promptly, he was entirely mistaken. This periodical insult acted only as an inducement to keep up her wrath and to increase her energy.

Her pride rose at the thought of this unceasing struggle; and she swore that she would be victorious. It was this sentiment which inspired her with a thought, which, in its results, was destined to have a decisive influence on her future. Chevassat, who seemed to be of unusually good-humor, if she could not procure her some work.

She told her that she was considered quite skilful in all kinds of needlework.

Are hands like yours made to work?” And when Henrietta insisted, and showed her, as a proof of what she could do, the embroidery which she had commenced, she replied,-- “That is very pretty; but embroidering from morning till night would not enable a fairy to keep a canary-bird.” There was probably some truth in what she said, exaggerated as it sounded; and the poor girl hastened to add that she understood other kinds of work also. She was a first-class musician, for instance, and fully able to give music-lessons, or teach singing, if she could only get pupils. At these words a ray of diabolic satisfaction lighted up the old woman’s eyes; and she cried out,-- “What, my ‘pussy-cat,’ could you play dancing-music, like those artists who go to the large parties of fashionable people?” “Certainly!” “Well, that is a talent worth something! “Ah!” “We have a tenant in the house who is going to give a large party to-night.

I have mentioned you to her; and she says she will give you thirty francs if you will make her guests jump. That’s a big sum; and besides, if they are pleased, you will get more customers.” “In what part of the house does she live?” “In the second story of the back building, looking upon the yard. You would have to be there at nine o’clock precisely.” “I’ll come.” Quite happy, and full of hope, Henrietta spent a part of the afternoon in mending her only dress, a black silk dress, much worn unfortunately, and already often repaired. Still, by much skill and patience, she had managed to look quite respectable when she rang the bell at Mrs. She was shown into a room furnished with odd furniture, but brilliantly lighted, in which seven or eight ladies in flaming costumes, and as many fashionable gentlemen, were smoking and taking coffee. there is the musician from the garret!” exclaimed a large, dark-skinned woman, pretty, but very vulgar, who seemed to be Mrs. And, turning to Henrietta, she asked,-- “Will you take a little glass of something, my darling?” The poor girl blushed crimson, and, painfully embarrassed, declined, and asked pardon for declining; when the lady broke in rather rudely, and said,-- “You are not thirsty? She turned her back to the dancers; but she had before her a mirror, in which she saw every gesture of Mrs. She understood into what company she had been inveigled by the concierge’s wife.

She had, however, sufficient self-control to finish the quadrille. But, when the last figure had been danced, she rose; and, walking up to the mistress of the house, said, stammering painfully, and in extreme embarrassment,-- “Please excuse me, madam, I have to leave. Come, Julius, turn your pockets inside out, and give the little one a twenty-franc-piece.” The poor girl was almost outside, when she turned, and said,-- “Thank you, madam; but you owe me nothing.” It was high time for Henrietta to leave. Her first surprise had been followed by mad anger, which drove the blood to her head, and made her weep bitter tears. Carried away by an irresistible impulse, and no longer mistress of herself, Henrietta rushed down stairs, and broke like a whirlwind into the little box of the concierge, crying out,-- “How could you dare to send me to such people? You are a wretch!” Master Chevassat was the first to rise, and said,-- “What is the matter? Do you know to whom you are talking?” But his wife interrupted him with a gesture, and, turning to Henrietta, said with cynic laughter,-- “Well, what next?

In the first place, I am tired of your ways, my ‘pussy-cat.’ When one is a beggar, as you are, one stays at home like a good girl; and one does not run away with a young man, and gad about the world with lovers.” Thereupon she took advantage of the fact that Henrietta had paused upon the threshold, to push her brutally out of the room at the risk of throwing her down, and fiercely banged the door. “Alas!” she said to herself, weeping, “the weak, the unhappy, have no right to complain. Who knows what this wicked woman will now do to avenge herself?” She found it out the second day afterwards. Coming down a little before seven o’clock, in order to buy her roll and her milk for breakfast, she met at the entrance-door Mrs. Hilaire, face to face. At the sight of the poor girl, that irascible woman turned as red as a poppy, and, rushing up to her, seized her by the arm, and shook it furiously, crying out at the same time with the full force of her lungs,-- “Ah, it is you, miserable beggar, who go and tell stories on me!

A beggar whom I had sent for to allow her to earn thirty francs!

And I must needs think she is sick, and pity her, and ask Julius to give her a twenty-franc-piece.” Henrietta felt that she ought not to blame this woman, who, after all, had shown her nothing but kindness. But she was thoroughly frightened, and tried to get away. The woman, however, held her fast, and cried still louder, till several tenants came to the open windows. “They’ll make you pay for that, my darling,” she yelled, amid foul oaths, which her wrath carried along with it, as a torrent floats down stones and debris. You’ll have to clear out of here, I tell you!” And the threat was not an idle one. Hilaire had friends in the house, who took up the quarrel, and fell upon Henrietta whenever she appeared. Early in the morning, as soon as the door was opened, she ran out to buy her daily provisions; then, running up swiftly, she barricaded herself in her chamber, and never stirred out again.

Surely, there was no lack of desire on her part to leave the house. In July her rent had cost her a hundred francs, and she had been compelled to buy a dress in place of her merino dress, which was falling to pieces. Nor would she have been able to make them last so long, even if she had not, ever since that evening at Mrs. Even this rupture, at which Henrietta had at first rejoiced, became now to her a source of overwhelming trouble.

She had still a few things that she might sell,--a brooch, her cashmere, her watch, and her ear-rings; but she did not know how and to whom she could sell them. All the stories by which the wicked woman down stairs had tried to frighten her from going herself to the pawnbroker came back to her mind; and she saw herself, at the first attempt, arrested by the police, examined, and carried back to her father, handed over to Sarah and Sir Thorn, and-- Still want pressed her hard; and at last, after long hesitation, one evening, at dark, she slipped out to find a purchaser. An old woman with spectacles on her nose, without even asking her name, and evidently taking her to be a thief, gave her, for her brooch and her ear-rings, a hundred and forty francs. A nothing; Henrietta understood that perfectly. And hence, overcoming all her reserve and her reluctance, she vowed she would try every thing in her power to obtain work. She went from store to store, from door to door, so to say, soliciting employment, as she would have asked for alms, promising to do any thing that might be wanted, in return merely for her board and lodging. It is true that now and then some gallant clerk replied to her application by a declaration of love. Chance had thrown into her hands one of those small handbills which bill-stickers paste upon the gutters, and in which workwomen are “wanted.” Henceforth she spent her days in looking up these handbills, and in going to places from which they were issued. By whom have you been employed?” and finally, always the same distressing answer,-- “We cannot employ persons like you.” Then she went to an employment agency. She had noticed one which displayed at the door a huge placard, on which places were offered from thirty-five up to a thousand francs a month.

A very loquacious gentleman made her first deposit a considerable sum, and then told her he had exactly what she wanted. She went ten times back to the office, and always in vain. These two houses turned out to be two small shops, where pretty young ladies were wanted to pour out absinthe, and to wait upon the customers. Since she had escaped from her father’s house, she had not received a line from Daniel, although she had constantly written to him, and she had, of course, no means of ascertaining the date of his return. de Brevan’s advice, summoned courage enough to go to the navy department, and there to inquire if they had any news about “The Conquest.” A clerk had replied to her, with a joke, that “The Conquest” might be afloat yet “a year or two.” How could the poor girl wait till then? Henceforth, a miracle alone could save her; and she hardly wished to be saved. She thought she had exhausted all that man can suffer; and there was nothing left for her to fear. On this chair hung her cashmere; it fell into the fireplace, in which a little fire was still burning; and when she came back she found the shawl half-burnt to ashes. It means three months taken from my life; that is all.” And she did not think of it any more; she did not even trouble herself about the rent, which became due in October.

“I shall not be able to pay it,” she said to herself. Chevassat will give me notice, and then the hour will have come.” Still, to her great surprise, the worthy woman from below did not scold her for not having the money ready, and even promised she would make the owner of the house give her time. “Well,” she thought, as if announcing to her own soul that the catastrophe had at last come, “all I need now is a few minutes’ courage.” She said so in her mind; but in reality she was chilled to the heart by the fearful certainty that the crisis had really come: she felt as if the executioner were at the door of the room, ready to announce her sentence of death. “I am surely not such a coward?” she said to herself in a fit of rage. Yes, she told herself in vain that there was no other choice left to her but that between death and Sir Thorn, or M. she was only twenty years old; she had never felt such exuberance of life within her; she wanted to live,--to live a month more, a week, a day!

“Never mind!” she said to herself; “perhaps they will give me something for it.” And, wrapping the dress up hastily, she hurried to offer it for sale to the old woman who had already bought her ear-rings, and then her watch.

The fearful old hag seemed to be overcome with surprise when she saw this marvel of skill. and, if it were finished, it would be worth a mint of money; but as it is no one would want it.” She consented, however, to give twenty francs for it, solely from love of art, she said; for it was money thrown away. “It will last me a month,” she thought, determined to live on dry bread only; “and who can tell what a month may bring forth?” And this unfortunate girl had an inheritance from her mother of more than a million! If she had but known it, if she had but had a single friend to advise her in her inexperience! But she had been faithful to her vow never to let her secret be known to a living soul; and the most terrible anguish had never torn from her a single complaint. This perseverance, which had at first served to maintain Henrietta’s courage, had now become a source of unspeakable torture.

“Ah, I shall be avenged!” she said to him one day. Since the end of November her twenty francs had been exhausted; and to prolong her existence she had had to resort to the last desperate expedients of extreme poverty. All that she possessed, all that she could carry from her chamber without being stopped by the concierge, she had sold, piece by piece, bit after bit, for ten cents, for five cents, for a roll. Thus, on the 25th of December, she found herself in a chamber as utterly denuded as if a fire had raged there; while she herself had on her body but a single petticoat under her thin alpaca dress, without a rag to cover herself in these wintry nights. If by tomorrow at noon you have not come to my assistance, at one o’clock you will have ceased to have a daughter.” Tortured by cold and hunger, emaciated, and almost dying, she had waited for an answer. “I must make an end of it,” she said to herself. She had told the Cerberus below that she would be out all the evening; and she had procured a considerable stock of charcoal. She wrote two letters,--one to her father, the other to M.

After that she closed hermetically all the openings in her room, kindled two small fires, and, having commended her soul to God, stretched herself out on her bed. A dense, bitter vapor spread slowly through the room; and the candle ceased to give a visible light. She was suffocating, and felt a desire to sleep; but in her stomach she suffered intense pains. Then strange and incoherent thoughts arose deliriously in her head; her ears were filled with confused noises; her pulse beat with extraordinary vehemence; nausea nearly convulsed her; and from time to time she fancied terrific explosions were breaking her skull to pieces.

Maddened by a sensation of dying, she tried to rise; but she could not. She wanted to cry; but her voice ended in a rattle in her throat. But at that very hour the tenant of the fourth story, Papa Ravinet, the second-hand dealer, was going to his dinner. He, on the contrary, hurried down to inform the concierge. He, however, insisted, and, in spite of the evident reluctance of the concierge and his wife, compelled them to go up, and brought out, by his words first, and then by his example, one tenant after another. It was he likewise, who, while the concierge and the other people were deliberating, directed what was to be done for the dying girl, and who hastened to fetch from his magazine a mattress, sheets, blankets, wood to make a fire, in fact, every thing that was needed in that bare chamber.

In the first place she was utterly amazed at feeling that she was in a warm bed,--she who had, for so many days, endured all the tortures of bitter cold. Had her father at last come to her assistance? Then, understanding from some words which were spoken close by her, that it was to chance alone she owed her rescue from death, she was filled with indescribable grief. “To have suffered all that can be suffered in dying,” she said to herself, “and then not to die after all!” She almost had a feeling of hatred against all these people who were busying themselves around her. Now that they had brought her back to life, would they enable her to live?

She recognized the wealthy ladies from the first story, who had stayed to nurse her, and between them Mrs. Chevassat, who assumed an air of great activity, while she explained to them how Henrietta had deceived her affectionate heart in order to carry out her fatal purpose. “You see, I did not dream of any thing,” she protested in a whining tone. She would rather have died than ask for assistance; for she knew she had only a word to say to me. Did I not already, in October, when I saw she would not be able to pay her rent, become responsible for her?” And thereupon the infamous hypocrite bent over the poor girl, kissed her on her forehead, and said with a tender tone of voice,-- “Did you not love me, dear little pussy-cat; did not you?

Chevassat.” Unable to articulate a word, even if she had understood what was said, poor Henrietta shivered, shrank with horror and disgust from the contact with those lying lips. Still, it was only after the doctor, who had been sent for, had come and bled her, that she was restored to the full use of her faculties. The two wealthy ladies, whom curiosity had carried off at the moment when they were sitting down to dinner, did not wait for more, and, very happy to be released, slipped away at once. But the concierge’s wife remained by Henrietta’s bedside till she was alone with her victim; and then every thing changed in her face, tone of voice, look, and manner. Everybody will pity you, and think your lover a cold-blooded villain, who lets you die of starvation.” The poor young girl deprecated the charge with such a sweet, gentle expression of face, that a savage would have been touched; but Mrs. “And still you know very well,” she went on in a bitter tone, “that dear M. Maxime has done all he could to save you. To play the virtuous woman, was it?

It was hardly worth while, if you meant, immediately afterwards, to accept that old miser, who will make life hard enough for you. Ah, you have fallen into nice hands!” Gathering up all the strength that had come back to her, Henrietta raised herself on the pillows, and asked,-- “What do you mean?” “Oh, nothing! Besides, he had been looking after you a long time already.” As soon as Henrietta opened her eyes, Papa Ravinet had discreetly withdrawn, in order to leave the ladies, who were about her, time to undress her.

The man who has pulled you out, who has brought you all these things to make your bed, and kindle a fire; why, that is the second-hand dealer of the fourth story! And he will not stop there, I am sure. Patience, and you will know well enough what I mean.” It must be borne in mind, that the woman, for fear Henrietta might sell to Papa Ravinet what she had to sell, or for some other reason, had always painted the old man to her in colors by no means flattering. “What ought I to be afraid of?” asked Henrietta. At last she answered,-- “If I were to tell you, you would repeat it to him when he comes back.” “No, I promise you.” “Swear it on your mother’s sacred memory.” “I swear.” Thus reassured, the old woman came close up to her bed; and, in an animated but low voice, she said,-- “Well, I mean this: if you accept now what Papa Ravinet will offer you, in six months you will be worse than any of Mrs.

don’t tell me ‘I do not mean to touch him.’ The old rascal has ruined more than one who was just as good as you are. I am going down to make you a soup. Chevassat had plunged Henrietta once more into an abyss of profound despair. “Great God!” she said to herself, “why must the generous assistance of this old man be a new snare for me?” With her elbow resting on her pillow, her forehead supported by her hand, her eyes streaming with tears, she endeavored to gather her ideas, which seemed to be scattered to the four winds, like the leaves of trees after a storm; when a modest, dry cough aroused her from her meditations. In the framework of the open door stood a man of mature age and of medium height, looking at her. It was Papa Ravinet, who, after a long conversation with the concierge, and after some words with his amiable wife, had come up to inquire after his patient.

“That,” she thought, “is the man who plots my ruin, the wretch whom I am to avoid.” Now, it is true that this man, with his mournful face, his huge, brushlike eyebrows, and his small, yellow eyes, startling by their incessant activity, had for the observer something enigmatical about him, and therefore did not inspire much confidence. Nevertheless, Henrietta thanked him none the less heartily, although greatly embarrassed, for his readiness to help her, his kind care, and his generosity in providing every thing she wanted. “I have only done my duty, and that very imperfectly.” And at once, in a rather grim manner, he began to tell her that what he had done was nothing in comparison with what he meant to do. He had but too well guessed what had led Henrietta to attempt suicide; he had only to look around her room. But he swore she should have nothing more to fear from want as long as he was there. Fortunately he was a clever man, the old dealer; and by means of not saying what might shock her, and by saying much that could not fail to touch her, he gradually regained his position. He almost conquered her when he returned to her the letters she had written before making her dreadful preparations, and when she saw that they looked unhurt, and sealed as before. Thus, when he left her, after half an hour’s diplomatic intercourse, he had obtained from the poor young girl the promise that she would not renew the attempt at her life, and that she would explain to him by what fatal combination of circumstances she had been reduced to such extreme suffering.

“You would not hesitate,” he said, “if you knew how easy it often is, by a little experience, to arrange the most difficult matters.” Henrietta did not hesitate. A thought which had occurred to her as soon as she found herself alone had brought her to this conclusion: “If Papa Ravinet were really what Mrs. If she tries to keep me from accepting the old man’s assistance, she no doubt finds it to her advantage that I should do so.” When she tried, after that, to examine as coolly as she could the probable consequences of her decision, she found enormous chances in her favor.

If Papa Ravinet was sincere, she might be enabled to wait for Daniel; if he was not sincere, what did she risk? But still, in spite of the pressing need she had for rest, her promise kept her awake for the greater part of the night; for she passed in her mind once more over the whole lamentable story of her sufferings, and asked herself what she might confess to, and what she ought to withhold from the old dealer. And just that she would have liked to keep him from knowing. On the other hand, was it not foolish to ask the advice of a man to whom we will not confess the whole truth? He looked very pale, the old man; and the expression of his face, and the tone of his voice, betrayed an emotion which he could scarcely control, together with deep anxiety. “Well?” he asked forgetting in his preoccupation to inquire even how the poor girl had passed the night. She shook her head sadly, and replied, pointing to a chair,-- “I have made up my mind, sir; sit down, please, and listen to me.” The old dealer had been fully convinced that Henrietta would come to that; but he had not hoped for it so soon. Even this joy seemed to be so unnatural, that the young girl was made quite uncomfortable by it. Fixing her eyes upon the old man with all the power of observation of which she was capable, she said,-- “I am fully aware that what I am about to do is almost unparalleled in rashness.

I put myself, to a certain extent, absolutely in your power, sir,--the power of an utter stranger, of whom I am told I have every thing to fear.” “O miss!” he declared, “believe me”-- But she interrupted him, saying with great solemnity,-- “I think, if you were to deceive me, you would be the meanest and least of men. I rely upon your honor.” And then in a firm voice she began the account of her life, from that fatal evening on which her father had said to her,-- “I have resolved, my daughter, to give you a second mother.” The old dealer had taken a seat facing Henrietta, and listened, fixing his eyes upon her face as if to enter into her thoughts, and to anticipate her meaning. His face was all aglow with excitement, like the face of a gambler who is watching the little white ball that is to make him a rich man or a beggar. Yes, of course that had to come next.” And all these people whose abominable intrigues Henrietta was explaining to him were apparently better known to him than to her, as if he had frequently been in contact with them, or even lived in their intimacy. Brian.” Or,-- “Sir Thorn never does otherwise.” Or, again,-- “Yes, that is all over Maxime de Brevan.” And, according to the different phases of the account, he would laugh bitterly and almost convulsively, or he would break out in imprecations. “What a trick!” he murmured with an accent of deep horror, “what an infernal snare!” At another point he turned deadly pale, and almost trembled on his chair, as if he were feeling ill, and were about to fall. de Kergrist had died, and Malgat had disappeared,--that poor cashier who had left such an immense deficit behind; who had been condemned to penal servitude; and whose body the police believed to have found in a wood near Paris. this time I have them!” And, breaking down under his excessive excitement, he sank into his chair, covering his face with his hands. Already, the night before, she had had some suspicions that he was not what he seemed to be; now she was quite sure.

She had nothing to go by to solve that riddle. “Unless he should try to deceive me,” she thought, not having quite shaken off all doubts yet. de Brevan had every reason to think that this house would keep the secret of his crime as safe as the grave, and so brought you here. And here it happens I must chance to live,--of all men, I,--and he remain unaware of it! By a kind of miracle we are brought together under the same roof,--you, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry, and I, one after the other, without knowing each other; and, at the very moment when this Brevan is about to triumph, Providence brings us together, and this meeting ruins him!” His voice betrayed his fierce joy at approaching vengeance; his sallow cheeks flushed up; and his eyes shone brilliantly. The woman Chevassat, his confederate, had watched you, and noticing your preparations for committing suicide, had said to him, ‘Rejoice! He said, however,-- “You see, madam, I shall have to ask you to trust me blindly.” “I will trust you blindly.” “It is of the utmost importance that you should escape out of reach of M. You will, consequently, have to leave this house.” “I will leave it.” “And in the way I say.” “I will obey you in every point.” The last shadow of trouble which had still overclouded the old dealer’s brow vanished as if by magic. Let us make haste to understand each other; for I have been here a long time, and the woman Chevassat must be on needles.

Still, it is important she should not suspect that we are acting in concert.” As if afraid that an indiscreet ear might be listening at the door, he drew his chair quite close to Henrietta’s bed, and whispered in a voice but just audible to her,-- “As soon as I have turned my back that woman will come up, burning with curiosity to know what has happened between us. You must pretend to be very angry with me. Give her to understand that you think me a wicked old man, who wants you to pay the price of infamy for the services I wish to render to you.” Henrietta had turned crimson.

It would not be easy to lie so as to deceive Mrs. I shall take measures to have the woman Chevassat either kept engaged, or out of the house; and you will thus find it easy to slip out without being perceived. Once in the street, you will turn to the right. Get into it boldly; I’ll be inside. I do not know if I have made it all clear to you?” “Oh, perfectly, sir!” “Then we understand each other. “She was tired of life, the girl!” she said to her husband. She would not have gone to bed so quietly, nor have fallen asleep so comfortably, if she had suspected the truth. Now, she was quite sure, that in such a state of destitution, and in this cold December night, the poor young girl would soon be weary wandering through the streets of Paris, and would be irresistibly drawn to the waters of the Seine. When Henrietta was alone, after the departure of Papa Ravinet, she had only become confirmed in her determination to trust in him blindly: she had even forborne to think it over, as she had, humanly speaking, no other choice on earth. Chevassat’s visit, and after having played the part assigned to her by the old dealer, she rose, and, although quite exhausted yet, took her place at the window to watch for the proper time.

Four o’clock struck; and, as it was growing dark, the concierge came out, with a light in his hand, and went up the big staircase to light the lamps. “Now is the time!” she said to herself. And casting a last look at this wretched room, where she had suffered so much, and wept so much, and where she had expected to die, she slipped out. Some forty paces to the left she could see the place where Papa Ravinet was waiting for her in his cab. “And now, sir,” she began, “where do you take me?” By the light of the gas in the stores, which from time to time lighted up the interior of the carriage, she could see the features of her neighbor. But you will know soon, for the man drives well.” The poor horses went, indeed, as fast as if the dollar which the driver had received had infused the noble blood of the fastest racer into their veins. They drove down the whole long street at a furious rate, turned to the right, and, after many more turns, stopped at last before a house of modest appearance.

Lightly and promptly, like a sheriff’s clerk, Papa Ravinet jumped out; and, having aided Henrietta to alight, he offered her his arm, and drew her into the house, saying,-- “You will see what a surprise I have in store for you.” In the third story the old man stopped; and, drawing a key from his pocket, he opened the door which faced the staircase. And, before she had time to consider, Henrietta found herself gently pushed into a small sitting-room, where a middle-aged lady was embroidering at a frame by the light of a large copper lamp. “Dear sister,” said Papa Ravinet, still in the door, “here is the young lady of whom I spoke to you, and who does us the honor to accept our hospitality.” Slowly the elderly lady put her needle into the canvas, pushed back the frame, and rose. She seemed to be about fifty years old, and must have been beautiful formerly. But age and sorrow had blanched her hair, and furrowed her face; and the habit of silence and meditation seemed to have sealed her lips forever. She was dressed in black; and her costume betrayed a lady from a provincial town.

“You will find in our modest home that peace and that sympathy which you need.” In the meantime, Papa Ravinet had come forward; and, bowing to Henrietta, he said,-- “I beg to present to you Mrs. Bertolle, my dearly beloved sister Mary, a widow, and a saint, who has devoted herself to her brother, and who has sacrificed to him every thing,--her fortune, her peace, and her life.” Ah! But she interrupted him, as if embarrassed by his praise, saying,-- “You have told me so late, Anthony, that I have not been able to attend to all of your orders. But the young lady’s room is ready, and if you choose”-- “Yes, we must show her the way.” The old lady having taken the lamp, after removing the screen, opened a door which led from the parlor directly into a small, modestly furnished room, which shone with exquisite tidiness, and which exhaled that fresh odor of lavender so dear to all housekeepers from the country. At one glance the old dealer had taken in every thing; and, after a smile of gratitude addressed to his sister, he said to Henrietta,-- “This is your room, madam.” The poor girl, all overcome, sought in vain for words to express her gratitude. She showed her, spread out on the bed, petticoats, white linen, stockings, a warm dressing- wrapper of gray flannel with blue flowers, and at the foot a pair of slippers. “This will answer for a change to-night, madam,” she said. “I have provided what was most pressing; to-morrow we will see about the rest.” Big tears, tears of happiness and gratitude, this time, rolled down Henrietta’s pale cheeks. “Ah, you are so kind!” she said, giving her hands to brother and sister--“you are so kind! 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.

But the old man at once said,-- “What I may say to you madam, is, that you owe me no gratitude,--no, none whatever.

What I do, my own interest commands me to do; and I deserve no credit for it. It is I who shall forever be under obligations to you for the immense service which you render me.” He seemed to be inspired by his own words; his figure straightened up; his eyes flashed fire; and he was on the point of letting, perhaps, some secret escape him, when his sister interrupted him, saying reproachfully,-- “Anthony, Anthony!” He stopped at once. I forget myself here; and I ought to be already back in Water Street. It is of the utmost importance that that woman Chevassat should not miss me a moment to-night.” He was about to leave them, when the old lady held him back, and said,-- “You ought to go back, I know; only be careful!

de Brevan has never met you and recognized you, during the year he has been coming to the house in which you live. After the young lady’s desperate act, he would not fail to recognize the man who has saved her. What can you do to avoid meeting him?” “I have thought of that danger,” he replied. “When I go back, I shall tell the two Chevassats a little story, which will frighten them, so that they will advise Brevan never to appear there, except at night, as he formerly did.” Thereupon he bowed to Henrietta, and went away with the words,-- “To-morrow we will consult with each other.” The shipwrecked man who is saved at the last moment, when, strength and spirits being alike exhausted, he feels himself sinking into the abyss, cannot, upon feeling once more firm ground under his feet, experience a sense of greater happiness than Henrietta did that night. Ruined all of a sudden,--she did not say how,--some months after the death of her husband, she, who had been accustomed to all the comforts of opulence had seen herself reduced to poverty, and all its privations. She had but one servant, who came every morning to clean up the house; she herself did all the other work, washing and ironing her own linen, cooking only twice a week, and eating cold meat on the other days, as much to save money as to save time. She worked on her frame patterns for embroideries, for which a fashionable store paid her very good prices.

Gradually, however, she had become reconciled to it, and taken up this habit of economizing with unflinching severity, and down to the smallest details. “That lady is a noble creature among many!” said Henrietta to herself that night, when she retired after a modest repast. For there was one; and, so far from trying to conceal it, they had begged Henrietta not to inquire into it. But fatigue soon made an end to her meditations, and confused her ideas; and, for the first time in two years, she fell asleep with a sense of perfect security; she slept peacefully, without starting at the slightest noise, without being troubled by silence, without wondering whether her enemies were watching her, without suspecting the very walls of her room. “Oh, how lazy I am!” she exclaimed with the hearty laugh of a child; for she felt quite at home in this little bedroom, where she had only spent a night; she felt as much at home here as in her father’s palace when her mother was still alive; and it seemed to her as if she had lived here many a year. “My brother was here about half an hour ago to talk with you,” said the old lady; “but we did not like to wake you.

Absorbed in the happiness of the moment, she had forgotten every thing; and these few words brought her back to the reality of her position, and recalled to her the sufferings of the past and the uncertainty of the future. The good widow in the meantime assisted her in getting up; and they spent the day together in the little parlor, busily cutting out and making up a black silk dress for which Papa Ravinet had brought the material in the morning, and which was to take the place of Henrietta’s miserable, worn-out, alpaca dress. When the young girl had first seen the silk, she had remembered all the kind widow had told her of their excessive economy, and with difficulty only succeeded in checking her tears. “Why should you go to such an expense?” she had said very sadly.

I should never forgive myself for becoming a source of still greater privations to such very kind friends.” But the old lady shook her head, and replied,-- “Don’t be afraid, child. “I am exhausted,” he said, sinking into, an armchair, and wiping his forehead with his broad checkered handkerchief. “You cannot imagine how I have been running about to-day!

I wanted to take an omnibus to come home, but they were all full.” Henrietta jumped up, and exclaimed,-- “You have been to see my father?” “No, madam. “How could my father ever be induced to leave his home?” she asked. “My father ruined!” she repeated, as if she were unable to realize the precise meaning of these words. Six millions swallowed up in twelve months!--six millions!” And as the enormous amount seemed to be out of all proportion to the shortness of time, she said,-- “It cannot be. what I tell you is but too true; and, if you want proofs”-- He drew a newspaper from his pocket and handed it to Henrietta, pointing out to her on the first page an article marked with a red pencil. It was one of those financial sheets which arise every now and then, and which profess to teach the art of becoming rich in a very short time, without running any risk. This paper bore a title calculated to reassure its readers. It was called “Prudence.” Henrietta read aloud,-- “We shall never tire repeating to our subscribers the words which form our motto and our heading, ‘Prudence, prudence! Do not trust new enterprises!’ “Out of a hundred enterprises which appear in the market, it may safely be said that sixty are nothing but the simplest kind of wells, into which the capital of foolhardy speculators is sunk almost instantly.

Out of the remaining forty, twenty-five may be looked upon as suspicious enterprises, partaking too much of gambling speculations. But the old man said,-- “That is only the honey of the preface, the sweet syrup intended to conceal the bitterness of the medicine that is to follow. Go on, and you will understand.” She continued to read,-- “A recent event, we ought to say a recent disaster, has just confirmed our doctrines, and justifies but too clearly our admonition to be careful. “A company which started into existence last year with amazing suddenness, which filled the whole world with its flaming advertisements, crowding the newspapers, and decorating the street-corners,--a company which was most surely to enrich its stockholders, is already no longer able to pay the interest on its paid-up capital.

“As to the capital itself--but we will not anticipate events. “All of our readers will have understood that we are speaking of the Franco-American Society of Pennsylvania Oil-Wells, which for the last eight days has been the subject of universal excitement.

“On ‘Change the shares of a hundred dollars are quoted at 4-to-5.” Blinding tears prevented Henrietta from going on. “O God!” Then, mastering her weakness, she began once more to read,-- “And yet if ever any company seemed to offer all the material and moral guarantees which we can desire before risking our carefully saved earnings, this company presented them. “It had at its head a man who in his day was looked up to as a statesman endowed with rare administrative talents, and whose reputation as a man of sterling integrity seemed to lie above all suspicion. “Hence they did not spare this great and noble name, but proclaimed it aloud on the housetops. He was to bestow upon the country a new branch of industry.

He was to change vile petroleum into precious gold. “It was especially brought into notice that the noble count’s personal fortune was nearly equal to the whole capital of the new company,--ten millions. Shares, worth five dollars yesterday, worth, perhaps, nothing at all to-morrow, and a more than doubtful capital. She had turned as pale as death, and was staggering so, that Papa Ravinet’s sister took her in her arms to support her. The old man picked up the paper, and read from another article, below the lines which carried poison in every word, the following comments:-- “Two delegates of the stockholders of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company were to sail this morning from Brest for New York.

“These gentlemen have been sent out by their fellow-sufferers to examine the lands on which the oil-wells are situated which constitute the only security of the shareholders. Certain people have gone so far as to doubt even the existence of such oil-wells.” And in another place, under the head of local items:-- “The palace of Count Ville-Handry was sold last week. This magnificent building, with the princely real estate belonging to it, was knocked down to the highest bidder for the sum of one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. The misfortune is, that house and lot are burdened with mortgages, which amount together to nearly a hundred thousand dollars.” Henrietta was overcome, and had sunk into a chair. “But that is simply infamous,” she stammered out in an almost inaudible tone. And yet, seeing her thus crushed, they did not dare to enlighten her. At last the old dealer, knowing but too well that uncertainty is more agonizing than the most painful reality, said,-- “Your father is fearfully calumniated. But I have tried to inform myself.

Two facts are but too certain. Count Ville-Handry is ruined; and the shares of the company of which he is the president have fallen to five dollars, because”-- His voice changed, and he added in a very low tone,-- “Because it is believed that the capital of the company has been appropriated to other purposes, and lost in speculations on ‘Change.” The poor old dealer was suffering intensely, and showed it. What did he understand of these speculations into which he was drawn?

It is a difficult and often a dangerous thing to manage large capitals. They have no doubt deceived him, cheated him, misled him, and driven him at last to the verge of bankruptcy.” “Who?” Papa Ravinet trembled on his chair, and, raising his hands to the ceiling, exclaimed,-- “Who? To ruin him was to ruin herself, since she was absolute mistress of her fortune, and free to dispose of it as she chose.” Proud of the accuracy of her decision, she was looking triumphantly at the old dealer. He said,-- “Pray, listen to me, madam. So far I have only repeated to you the report on ‘Change. I told you: They say the capital of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Company has been swallowed up by unlucky speculations on ‘Change. I am, on the contrary, convinced, I am quite sure even, that these millions were not lost on ‘Change, because they never were used for the purpose of speculating.” “Still”-- “Still they have disappeared, none the less; and your father is probably the last man in the world to tell us how and where they have disappeared. But I know it; and, when the question is raised how to recover these enormous sums, I shall cry out, ‘Search Sarah Brandon, Countess Ville-Handry; search M.

Brian; search Maxime de Brevan,’ the wretched tool of these wicked women!” Now at last a terrible light broke upon Henrietta’s mind. “Then,” she stammered, “these infamous slanders are only put out to conceal an impudent robbery?” “Yes.” The young girl’s face showed that she was making a great effort to comprehend; and then she said again,-- “And in that case, the articles in the papers”-- “Were written by the wretches who have robbed your father, yes, madam!” And, shaking his fist with a threatening air, he added,-- “Oh! From the day on which it was established, it was the aim and purpose of the founders to publish in it the articles which you haven’t read.” Even if she could not well understand by what ingenious combinations such enormous sums could be abstracted, Henrietta was conquered by Papa Ravinet’s sincere and earnest conviction.

“Then,” she went on, “these wretches who have robbed my father now mean to ruin him!” “They must do it for their own safety. The money has been stolen, you see; therefore there must be a thief. For the world, for the courts, the guilty one will be Count Ville-Handry.” “For the courts?” “Alas, yes!” The poor girl’s eyes went from the brother to the sister with a terrible expression of bewilderment. At last she asked,-- “And do you believe Sarah will allow my father’s name to be thus dishonored,--the name which she bears, and of which she was so proud?” “She will, perhaps, even insist upon it.” “Great God! Why should she?” Seeing her brother’s hesitation, the old lady took it upon herself to answer. She touched the poor girl’s arm, and said in a subdued voice,-- “Because, you see, my poor child, now that Sarah has gotten possession of the fortune she wanted, your father is in her way; because, you see, she wants to be free--do you understand?--free!” Henrietta uttered a cry of such horror that both the brother and the sister saw at once that she had not misunderstood the horrible meaning of that word “free.” But, since the blow had fallen, the old dealer did not think the rest need be concealed from Henrietta. He got up, therefore, and, leaning against the mantlepiece, he addressed the poor girl, trembling in all her limbs with terror, and looking at him with a fixed and painful gaze, in these words,-- “You must at last learn to know, madam, the execrable woman who has sworn to ruin you.

He went on,-- “And now, madam, must I still explain to you the simple and yet formidable plan by which Sarah Brandon has succeeded in obtaining by one effort the immense fortune of the Ville-Handry family? The world might have become interested in you, might have taken your side; she beguiled your father, in his blind passion, to calumniate you, to ruin your reputation, and to expose you to the contempt of the world. Still you might have wished to secure a protector, you might have found one.

She placed by your side her wretched tool, her spy, a forger, a criminal whom she knew to be able of doing things from which even an accomplished galley-slave would have shrunk with disgust and horror: I mean Maxime de Brevan.” The very excess, of eruption had restored a part of her energy to Henrietta.

have I not told you, on, the contrary, that Daniel himself had confided me to the care of M. Have I not told you”-- The old dealer smiled almost contemptuously, and then continued,-- “What does that prove? In order to get the more completely the mastery over you, he began by obtaining the mastery over M. But we shall know it when we want to know it; for we are going to find out every thing. de Brevan, kept informed of all your thoughts, of all your hopes, of every word you wrote to M. Champcey, and of all he said in reply; for you need not doubt he did answer, and they suppressed the letters, just as they, very probably, intercepted all of your letters which you did not yourself carry to the post-office. She resolved, therefore, to force you to flee; and those mean persecutions of M. Your enemies knew your character too well to hope that you would ever break your word, and become faithless to M. But they were bent upon handing you over to M.

you were handed over to him. Maxime had as little idea of marrying you as Sir Thomas; he was quite prepared, when he dared to approach you with open arms, to be rejected with disgust. But he had received orders to add the horror of his persecutions to the horror of your isolation and your destitution. He had carefully chosen the house in which you were to die of hunger and misery. The two Chevassats were bound to be his devoted accomplices, even unto death. This is what gave him the amazing boldness, the inconceivable brutality, to watch your slow agony; no doubt he became quite impatient at your delaying suicide so long. “Finally you were driven to it; and your death would have realized their atrocious hopes, if Providence had not miraculously stepped in,--that Providence which always, sooner or later, takes its revenge, whatever the wicked may say to the contrary.

That very morning, the woman Chevassat had told them, no doubt, ‘She’ll do it to-night!’ And that evening, Sarah, Mrs. She told me, on the contrary, that she had wished to keep him here, because she loved him, and he loved her.” “Ah! do not believe a word of those infamous stories,” broke in Papa Ravinet’s sister. We ought not to believe such stories. Unless, indeed--But no, that would be almost too lucky for us! Champcey!” And, as if he was afraid of having given rise to hopes which he founded upon this contingency, he added at once,-- “But let us return to facts. When Sarah was sure of you, she turned her attention to your father.

While they were murdering you slowly, she abused the inexperience of Count Ville-Handry to lead him into a path at the end of which he could not but leave his honor behind him. Thinking that she had gotten rid of you, she evidently said to herself, ‘And now for the father.’” Henrietta grew red in her face, as if a jet of fire had blazed up in it. I have no doubt the assassins told each other that Count Ville-Handry would never survive such a foul stain on his honor. And they dared all, sure as they were that that honorable man would carry the secret of their wickedness and of their unheard-of robbery with him to the grave.” Papa Ravinet leisurely wiped the perspiration from his brow. Then he replied in a hoarse voice,-- “Yes, that was probably, that was assuredly, the way Sarah Brandon reasoned within herself.” But Henrietta, full of admirable energy, had roused herself; and, with flushed cheeks and burning eyes, she said to him,-- “What! where are you going?” “To save my father, madam, who, perhaps at this very moment is struggling in the last agonies of death, as I was struggling in like manner only two nights ago.” Quite beside herself, she had clasped the knob of the door in her hands, and tried with all the strength she still possessed to move the old lady out of the way. But Papa Ravinet seized her by the arm, and said to her solemnly,-- “Madam, I swear to you by all you hold sacred, and my sister will swear to you in like manner, that your father’s life is in no kind of danger.” She gave up the struggle; but her face bore the expression of the most harassing anxiety.

The old man continued,-- “Do you wish to defeat our triumph? Would you like to give warning to our enemies, to put them on their guard, and to deprive us of all hopes of revenge?” Henrietta almost mechanically passed her hand to and fro across her brow, as if she hoped she could thus restore peace to her mind. Why, she has no doubt taken all possible measures to keep your father’s faith in her unshaken, and to let him die as he has lived, completely deceived by her, and murmuring with his last breath words of supreme love for her who kills him.” These arguments were so overwhelming, that Henrietta let go the door- knob, and slowly went back to her seat by the fire. “If I were to appeal to the police,” she suddenly proposed. She took her hands in her own now, and said, gently,-- “Poor child! Believe me, my child, it is best for you to rely blindly on my brother.” Once more the old dealer had come up to the mantlepiece. I have as much reason to curse Sarah Brandon as you have, and perhaps I hate her more. Rely on me; for my hatred has now been watching and waiting for years, ever anxious to reach her, and to avenge my sufferings. For the purpose of finding out who she is, and who her accomplices are, whence they came, and how they have met to plot together such fearful crimes,--for that purpose I have walked in the deepest mud, and stirred up heaps of infamy.

This time success seemed to her so sure and so easy, that she has neglected her usual precautions. Eager to enjoy her millions, and, in proportion, weary of playing a comedy of love with your father, she has been too eager. And she is lost if we, on our side, are not also too eager. “As to your father, madam, I have my reasons for feeling safe about him. According to your mother’s marriage contract, and in consequence of a bequest of a million and a half which were left her by one of her uncles, your father’s estate is your debtor to the amount of two millions; and that sum is invested in mortgages on his estates in Anjou.

That sum he cannot touch, even if he is bankrupt. Should he die before you, that sum remains still yours; but, if you die before him, it goes to him. Then laughing his odd, silent laugh,-- “You ought to see the anxiety of your enemies since you have slipped out of their hands. That woman Chevassat had, last night, come to the conclusion that you were gone, and gone forever; but this morning matters looked very differently. The fellow has been spending the whole day in running from the police office to the Morgue, and back again.

I, for my part, did not show; and the Chevassats are far from suspecting that I had any thing to do with the whole affair. It will soon be our turn, and if you will only accept my suggestions, madam”-- It was past nine o’clock when the old dealer, his sister, and Henrietta sat down to their modest meal. But in the interval a hopeful smile had reappeared on Henrietta’s face, and she looked almost happy, when, about midnight, Papa Ravinet left them with the words,-- “To-morrow evening I shall have news. I am going to the navy department.” The next day he reappeared precisely at six o’clock, but in what a condition! “Money!” he cried out to his sister as he entered. I have to be at the Lyons Railway at seven o’clock.” And when his sister and Henrietta, terribly frightened, asked him,-- “What is the matter? What are you going to do?” “Nothing,” he replied joyously, “but that Heaven itself declares in our favor. I went to the department.

Champcey is coming back to Europe. He was to have taken passage on board a merchant vessel, ‘The Saint Louis,’ which is expected in Marseilles every day, if she has not already come in. And I--I am going to Marseilles, I must see M. Champcey before anybody else can see him.” When his sister had given him notes to the amount of four hundred dollars, he rushed out, exclaiming,-- “To-morrow I will send you a telegram!” XXII. So arduous is it, that we are almost disposed to ask how men can be found bold enough to embrace it, and firm enough in their resolution not to abandon it after having tried it. Not because of the hazards, the fatigues, and the dangers connected with it, but because it creates an existence apart, and because the conditions it imposes seem to be incompatible with free will. Still no one is more attached to his home than the sailor. And by a kind of special grace they are apt to enjoy their short happiness as if it were for eternity, indifferent as to what the morning may bring.

It is an order to sail. He must go, and stifle all those ominous voices which rise from the depth of his heart, and say to him, “Will you ever return? will they have preserved your memory as faithfully as you have preserved theirs?” To be happy, and to be compelled to open to mishap this fatal door, absence! Hence it is only in comic operas, and inferior novels, that the sailors are seen to sing their most cheerful songs at the moment when a vessel is about to sail on a long and perilous voyage.

Such could not fail to be the scene also, when “The Conquest” sailed,--the ship on board of which Daniel Champcey had been ordered as lieutenant. And certainly there had been good reasons for ordering him to make haste and get down to the port where she lay; for the very next day after his arrival, she hoisted anchor. As he gradually calmed down, and peace returned to his mind, a thousand doubts assailed him concerning Maxime de Brevan: would he not be exposed to terrible temptation when he found himself thrown daily into the company of a great heiress? Might he not come to covet her millions, and try to abuse her peculiar situation in order to secure them to himself? Daniel believed too firmly in his betrothed to apprehend that she would even listen to Brevan.

de Brevan, furious at being refused, should betray his confidence, and go over to the enemy, to the Countess Sarah. “And I,” he thought, “who in my last directions urged her to trust implicitly in Maxime, and to follow his advice as if it were my own!” In the midst of these terrible anxieties, he hardly recollected that he had intrusted to Maxime every thing that he possessed. What was his money to him in comparison!

Thus it appeared to him a genuine favor of Providence when “The Conquest,” six days out at sea, experienced a violent storm, which endangered her safety for nearly seventy-two hours. His thoughts disappeared while he felt his grave responsibility, as long as the sea tossed the vessel to and fro like a mere cork, and while the crew fought with the elements till they were overcome by fatigue. When he awoke, he was surprised to feel a certain peace of mind. Henceforth his fate was no longer in his own hands; he had been shown very clearly his inability to control events.

Sad resignation succeeded to his terrible anxiety. A single hope now kept him alive,--the hope of soon receiving a letter from Henrietta, or, it might be, of finding one upon arriving at his destination; for it was by no means impossible for “The Conquest” to be outstripped by some vessel that might have left port three weeks later. To add to the discomfort, “The Conquest” was so crammed full with passengers, that sailors and officers had hardly half of the space usually allotted to them on board ship. Some of these artisans had their families with them, having determined to become settlers in Cochin China; others, generally quite young yet, only made the voyage in order to have an opportunity for seeing foreign lands, and for earning, perhaps, a little money. They were occasionally called upon to assist in handling the ship, and were, on the whole, good men, with the exception of four or five, who were so unruly that they had to be put in irons more than once.

The days passed, nevertheless; and “The Conquest” had been out three months, when one afternoon, as Daniel was superintending a difficult manoeuvre, he was suddenly seen to stagger, raise his arms on high, and fall backwards on the deck. They ran up to him, and raised him up; but he gave no sign of life; and the blood poured forth from his mouth and nose in streams. Daniel had won the hearts of the crew by his even temper, his strict attention to duty, and his kindness, when off duty, to all who came in contact with him. Hence, when the accident became known, in an instant sailors and officers came hurrying up from one end of the frigate to the other, and even from the lowest deck, to see what had happened to him. Still it must be a very grave matter, to judge from the large pool of blood which dyed the deck at the place where the young man had fallen down so suddenly. They had carried him to the infirmary; and, as soon as he recovered his senses, the surgeons discovered the cause of his fall and his fainting.

No one could explain this, neither the surgeons, nor the officers who stood around the bed of the wounded man.

The whole matter was so wrapped up in mystery, that it became all important to clear it up; and the sailors themselves opened at once a kind of court of inquest. Some hairs, and a clot of blood, which were discovered on an enormous block, seemed to explain the riddle. It would seem that the rope to which this enormous block was fastened had slipped out of the hands of one of the sailors who were engaged in the rigging, carrying out the manoeuvre superintended by Daniel. The wounded man was the first to request that the inquiries might be stopped. When, at the end of a fortnight, Champcey returned to duty, they ceased talking of the accident; unfortunately, such things happen but too frequently on board ship. And really, one fine evening, as the sun was setting, land was seen, and the next morning, at daybreak, the frigate sailed into the Dong-Nai, the king of Cochin Chinese rivers, which is so wide and so deep, that vessels of the largest tonnage can ascend it without difficulty till they reach Saigon. Standing on deck, Daniel watched the monotonous scenes which they passed,--a landscape strange in form, and exhaling mortal fevers from the soil, and the black yielding slime. After a voyage of several months, he derived a melancholy pleasure from seeing the banks of the river overshadowed by mango trees and mangroves, with their supple, snakelike roots wandering far off under water; while on shore a soft, pleasant vegetation presented to the eye the whole range of shades in green, from the bluish, sickly green of the idrys to the dark, metallic green of the stenia. That is Saigon, is it?” said to Daniel a voice full of delight. It was his best friend on board, a lieutenant like himself, who had come to his side, and, offering him a telescope, said with a great sigh of satisfaction,-- “Look!

It took a long hour yet, before, at a turn in the river, the town itself appeared, miserable looking,--with all deference to our geographies, be it said,--in spite of the immense labor of the French colony. Saigon consists mainly of one wide street running parallel with the right bank of the Dong-Nai, a primitive, unpaved street cut up into ruts, broken in upon by large empty spaces, and lined with wooden houses covered with rice-straw or palm-leaves. At a little distance from the river, there appear a few massive buildings with roofs of red tiles, pleasing to the eye, and here and there an Annamite farm, which seems to hide behind groups of areca-palms. But every town is beautiful, where we land after a voyage of several months. Hence, as soon as “The Conquest” was safely at anchor, all the officers, except the midshipman on duty, went on shore, and hastened to the government house to ask if letters from France had arrived there before them. There were two letters for Daniel, and with feverish hands and beating heart he took them from the hand of the old clerk. Still he tore open the envelopes, and glanced at the signatures. “Any other but myself,” she said, “would have been incensed at this atrocious insult, and would abuse her position to be avenged. The surprising part was, that Brevan did not say a word of the large amounts that had been intrusted to his care, nor of his method of selling the lands, nor of the price which he had obtained. “Why should she not have written,” he thought, “when all the others found means to write?” Overwhelmed with disappointment, he had sat down on a wooden bench in the embrasure of one of the windows in the hall where the letters were distributed.

He felt as if a powerful effort of his will would enable him to transport himself thither. By the pale light of the moon he thought he could discern the dress of his beloved as she stole towards him between the old trees. A friendly touch on the shoulder recalled him rudely to the real world. “Well, my dear Champcey,” they said, “are you coming?” “Where?” “Why, to dinner!” And as he looked at them with the air of a man who had just been roused, and has not had time to collect his thoughts, they went on,-- “Well, to dinner.

He trembled at the idea of being torn from his melancholy reveries, of being compelled to take his part in conversation, to talk, to listen, to reply. “I cannot dine with you to-day, my friends,” he said to his comrades. I must return on board.” Then only, the others were struck by the sad expression of his face; and, changing their tone, they asked him in the most affectionate manner,-- “What is the matter, Champcey? then you must come with us.” “Do not force me; I would be a sorry companion.” Still they insisted, as friends will insist who will not understand that others may not be equally tempted by what charms them; but nothing could induce Daniel to change his mind. At the door of the government house he parted with his comrades, and went back, sad and solitary, towards the harbor. The night was so dark, that he could hardly see to find his way along a wharf in process of construction, and covered with enormous stones and timber. In spite of his efforts to pierce this darkness, he could discern nothing but the dark outline of the vessels lying at anchor in the river, and the light of the lighthouse as it trembled in the current. But the boat seemed to be empty. It was only when he got into it, that he discovered a little midshipman fast asleep in the bottom, wrapped up in a carpet which was used to cover the seats for the officers.

This made him very respectful at once; and he replied,-- “Lieutenant, all the men are in town.” “How so? When all the officers had gone on shore, they told the boatswain they would not come back very soon, and he might take his time to eat a mouthful, and to drink a glass, provided the men did not get drunk.” That was so; and Daniel had forgotten the fact. “I don’t know, lieutenant.” Daniel looked at the large, heavy boat, as if he had thought for a moment to return in it to “The Conquest” with no other help but the little midshipman; but, no, that was impracticable. “Well, go to sleep again,” he said to the boy.

And jumping on shore, without uttering a word of disappointment, he was going in search of his comrades, when he saw suddenly a man turn up out of the darkness, whose features it was impossible to distinguish. “I heard you tell the little man in the boat there”-- “Well?” “I thought you wanted to get back on board your ship?” “Why, yes.” “Well, then, if you like it, I am a boatman; I can take you over.” There was no reason why Daniel should mistrust the man. In all ports of the world, and at any hour of the day or the night, men are to be found who are lying in wait on the wharves for sailors who have been belated, and who are made to pay dear for such extra services. But what ship do you want to go to?” “That ship there.” And Daniel pointed out to him “The Conquest” as she lay not six hundred yards off in the river, showing her lights. Get in, now steady!” Daniel followed his directions; but he was so much struck by the man’s awkwardness in getting the boat off, that he could not help saying to him,-- “Ah, my boy, you are not a boatman, after all!” “I beg pardon, sir; I used to be one before I came to this country.” “What is your country?” “Shanghai.” “Nevertheless, you will have to learn a great deal before you will ever be a sailor.” Still, as the boat was very small, a mere nutshell, in fact, Daniel thought he could, if needs be, take an oar himself.

Thanks to a shock, a wrong movement, or any other accident, the boat upset, and Daniel was thrown into the river; and, to fill the measure of his mishaps, one of his feet was so closely jammed in between the seat and the boat itself, that he was paralyzed in his movements, and soon under water. He saw it all in an instant; and his first thought was,-- “I am lost!” But, desperate as his position was, he was not the man to give up. Gathering, by one supreme effort, all his strength and energy, he took hold of the boat, that had turned over just above him, and pushed it so forcibly, that he loosened his foot, and at the same moment reached the surface. “Now,” he thought, “I have a chance to escape!” A very frail chance, alas!--so small a chance, in fact, that it required all the strong will and the invincible courage of Daniel to give it any effect.

A furious current carried him down like a straw; the little boat, which might have supported him, had disappeared; and he knew nothing about this formidable Dong-Nai, except that it went on widening to its mouth. There was nothing to guide him; for the night was so dark, that land and water, the river and its banks, all melted together in the uniform, bottomless darkness. Or did he get back into the boat? All his efforts were directed towards that point. He nearly touched it; and then, with incredible presence of mind, and great precision, at the moment when the current drove him close up to the anchor-chain, he seized it. He held on to it; and, having recovered his breath, he uttered three times in succession, with all the strength of his lungs, so sharp a cry, that it was heard above the fierce roar of the river,-- “Help, help, help!” From the ship came a call, “Hold on!” proving to him that his appeal had been heard, and that help was at hand. Too late! An eddy in the terrible current seized him, and, with irresistible violence, tore the chain, slippery with mud, out of his stiffened hands.

When he rose to the surface, the red light was far above him, and below no other light was in sight. Daniel could now count only upon himself in trying to make one of the banks. Although he could not measure the distance, which might be very great, the task did not seem to him beyond his strength, if he had only been naked.

I shall see Henrietta again!” But it had cost him an enormous amount of time to undress; and how could he calculate the distance which this current had taken him down--one of the swiftest in the world? As he tried to recall all he knew about it, he remembered having noticed that, a mile below Saigon, the river was as wide as a branch of the sea. According to his calculation, he must be near that spot now. “Never mind,” he said to himself, “I mean to get out of this.” Not knowing to which bank he was nearest, he had resolved, almost instinctively, to swim towards the right bank, on which Saigon stands. He was thus swimming for about half an hour, and began already to feel his muscles stiffening, and his joints losing their elasticity, while his breathing became oppressed, and his extremities were chilled, when he noticed from the wash of the water that he was near the shore. Soon he felt the ground under his feet; but, the moment he touched it, he sank up to his waist into the viscous and tenacious slime, which makes all the Cochin China rivers so peculiarly dangerous.

His legs were caught as in a vice; the muddy water was boiling nearly up to his lips; and, at every effort to extricate himself, he sank deeper in, a little at a time, but always a little more. His presence of mind now began to leave him, as well as his strength; and his thoughts became confused, when he touched, instinctively feeling for a hold, the root of a mangrove. He was saved from drowning; but what was to become of him, naked, exhausted, chilled as he was, and lost in this dark night in a strange and deserted country? After a moment, however, he rose, and tried to get on; but at every step he was held back on all sides by lianes and cactus thorns. “Well,” he said, “I must stay here till day breaks.” The rest of the night he spent in walking up and down, and beating his chest, in order to keep out the terrible chills which penetrated to the very marrow of his bones.

“What has happened to you?” And, when he had told them all he had gone through since they parted, they said,-- “Certainly, my dear Champcey, you are a lucky fellow. The awkwardness of the boatman who had so unexpectedly turned up to offer him his services had filled his mind with strange doubts. “This boatman,” Daniel thought, “evidently wanted me to perish. Still his suspicions troubled him to such a degree, that he determined to make every effort to solve the mystery. To begin, he asked for a list of all the men who had been allowed to go on shore the night before. He learned in reply, that only the crews of the different boats had been at Saigon, but that all the emigrants having been allowed to land, several of these men had also gone on shore.

With this information, and in spite of his great weakness, Daniel went to the chief of police at Saigon, and asked him for an officer. With this agent he went to the wharf, to the spot where the boat of “The Conquest” had been lying the night before, and asked him to make inquiries there as to any boatman that might have disappeared during the night. None of the boatmen was missing; but they brought Daniel a poor Annamite fellow, who had been wandering about the river-bank ever since early morning, tearing his hair, and crying that he had been robbed; that they had stolen his boat.

Daniel had been unable the night before to distinguish the form or the dress of the man whose services he had accepted; but he had heard his voice, and he recalled the peculiar intonation so perfectly, that he would have recognized it among thousands. Besides, this poor devil did not know a word of French (more than ten persons bore witness to it); and born on the river, and having always lived there, he was an excellent sailor. Finally, it was very clear, that, if this man had committed the crime, he would have been careful not to claim his boat. “I was to be murdered.” XXIII. It had been proved to him that at his side, so to say, as his very shadow, there was ever a terrible enemy, stimulated by the thirst of gain, watching all his steps, ever awake and on the watch, and ready to seize the first opportunity to strike. The infernal cunning of the first two attempts enabled Daniel to measure the superior wickedness of the man who had been chosen and enlisted--at least Daniel thought so--by Sarah Brandon. Still he did not say a word of the danger to which he was exposed, and even assumed, as soon as he had recovered from the first shock, a certain cheerfulness which he had not shown during the whole voyage, and under which he concealed his apprehensions.

“I do not want my enemy,” he said to himself, “to suspect my suspicions.” But from that moment his suspicions never fell asleep; and every step he took was guided by most careful circumspection. He never put one foot before the other, so to say, without first having examined the ground; he never seized a man-rope without having first tried its solidity; he had made it a law to eat and drink nothing, not even a glass of water, but what came from the officers’ table. These perpetual precautions, these ceaseless apprehensions, were extremely repugnant to his daring temper; but he felt, that, under such circumstances, careless would be no longer courage, but simple folly. He had engaged in a duel in which he wanted to be victorious; hence he must at least defend himself against the attack. He felt, moreover, that he was the only protector his beloved had now; and that, if he died, she would certainly be lost. Certain circumstances which he had at first forgotten, and a few points skilfully put together, gave him some hope.

Hence the pretended boatman was not a sailor on board “The Conquest.” Nor could it have been one of the marines, as none of them had been allowed to leave the vessel. But was not the idea that one of these men might have led Daniel into the trap contradicted by the circumstances of the first attempt?

By no means; for many of the younger men among these emigrants had asked permission to help in the working of the ship in order to break the monotony of the long voyage. Still the result was enough for Daniel to make his life more endurable. He even felt real and great relief at the thought that his would-be assassin was not to be looked for among these brave and frank sailors; none of them, at least, had been bribed with gold to commit a murder. Moreover, the limits of his investigations had now narrowed down in such a manner, that he might begin to hope for success in the end.

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. Daniel had therefore, at least for the moment, to give up a plan he had formed, to talk with every one of them until he should recognize the voice of the false boatman. He himself, besides, was not to remain at Saigon.

After a first expedition, which kept him away for two months, he obtained command of a steam-sloop, which was ordered to explore and to take all the bearings of the River Kamboja, from the sea to Mitho, the second city of Cochin China. Daniel was to experience its effects but too soon. During the next four months, seven succumbed to fevers which they had contracted in these pestilential swamps. And towards the end of the expedition, when the work was nearly done, the survivors were so emaciated, that they had hardly strength enough to hold themselves up. God knows, however, that he had not spared himself, nor ever hesitated to do what he thought he ought to do. To sustain, to electrify these men, exhausted as they were by sickness, and irritated at wasting their lives upon work that had no reward, a leader was required who should possess uncommon intrepidity, and who should treat danger as an enemy who is to be defied only by facing him; and such a leader they found in Daniel. He had told Sarah Brandon on the eve of his departure,-- “With a love like mine, with a hatred like mine, in the heart, one can defy all things. The murderous climate is not going to harm me; and, if I had six balls in my body, I should still find strength enough to come and call you to account for what you have done to Henrietta before I die.” He certainly had had need of all that dauntless energy which passion inspires to sustain him in his trials.

At night, while his men were asleep, he kept awake, his heart torn with anguish, now crushed under the thought of his helplessness, and now asking himself if rage would not deprive him of his reason. It was a year now since he had left Paris to go on board “The Conquest,” a whole year.

“Well,” he would say to himself, “I can wait for the next.” And then he began counting the days. To be chained by honor to a place a thousand leagues from the woman he loved to distraction, to know nothing about her, her life, her actions and her thoughts, to be reduced to such extreme wretchedness, to doubt-- Daniel would have been much less unhappy if some one had suddenly come and told him, “Miss Ville-Handry is no more.” Yes, less unhappy; for true love in its savage selfishness suffers less from death than from treason. If Henrietta had died, Daniel would have been crushed; and maybe despair would have driven him to extreme measures; but he would have been relieved of that horrible struggle within him, between his faith in the promises of his beloved and certain suspicions, which caused his hair to stand on end. For Sarah insisted upon writing to him, as if there existed a mysterious bond between them, which she defied him to break. It is stronger than I am, stronger than all things else; I must write to you, I cannot help it.” At another time she said,-- “Do you remember that evening, O Daniel! when, pressing Sarah Brandon to your heart, you swore to be hers forever? The Countess Ville-Handry cannot forget it.” Under the most indifferent words there seemed to palpitate and to struggle a passion which was but partially restrained, and ever on the point of breaking forth. Her letters read like the conversations of timid lovers, who talk about the rain and the weather in a tone of voice trembling with desire, and with looks burning with passion.

“Could she really be in love with me?” Daniel thought, “and could that be her punishment?” Then, again, swearing, like the roughest of his men, he added,-- “Am I to be a fool forever? Is it not quite clear that this wicked woman only tries to put my suspicions to sleep?

She is evidently preparing for her defence, in case the rascal who attempted my life should be caught, and compromise her by his confessions.” Every letter; moreover, brought from the Countess Sarah some news about his betrothed, her “stepdaughter.” But she always spoke of her with extreme reserve and reticence, and in ambiguous terms, as if counting upon Daniel’s sagacity to guess what she could not or would not write. According to her account, Henrietta had become reconciled to her father’s marriage. The coquettish ways of the young girl became quite alarming; and her indiscretion provoked the gossip of visitors. Daniel might as well accustom himself to the idea, that, on his return, he might find Henrietta a married woman. “She lies, the wretch!” said Daniel; “yes, she lies!” But he tried in vain to resist; every letter from Sarah brought him the germ of some new suspicion, which fermented in his mind as the miasma fermented in the veins of his men. The information furnished by Maxime de Brevan was different, and often contradictory even, but by no means more reassuring. His letters portrayed the perplexity and the hesitation of a man who is all anxiety to soften hard truths. According to him, the Countess Sarah and Miss Ville-Handry did not get on well with each other; but he declared he was bound to say that the wrong was all on the young lady’s side, who seemed to make it the study of her life to mortify her step-mother, while the latter bore the most irritating provocations with unchanging sweetness. He alluded to the calumnies which endangered Miss Henrietta’s reputation, admitting that she had given some ground for them by thoughtless acts.

He finally added that he foresaw the moment when she would leave her father’s house in spite of all his advice to the contrary. “And not one line from her,” exclaimed Daniel,--“not one line!” And he wrote her letter after letter, beseeching her to answer him, whatever might be the matter, and to fear nothing, as the certainty even of a misfortune would be a blessing to him in comparison with this torturing uncertainty. He wrote without imagining for a moment that Henrietta suffered all the torments he endured, that their letters were intercepted, and that she had no more news of him than he had of her. Daniel returned to Saigon, bringing back with him one of the finest hydrographic works that exist on Cochin China. It was well known that this work had cost an immense outlay of labor, of privations, and of life; hence he was rewarded as if he had won a battle, and he was rewarded instantly, thanks to special powers conferred upon his chief, reserving only the confirmation in France, which was never refused.

All the survivors of the expedition were mentioned in public orders and in the official report; two were decorated; and Daniel was promoted to officer of the Legion of Honor. Under other circumstances, this distinction, doubly valuable to so young a man, would have made him supremely happy; now it left him cold. He no longer struggled against despair, and came to believe that Henrietta had forgotten him, and would never be his wife. Now, as he knew he never could love another, or rather as no other existed for him; as, without Henrietta, the world seemed to him empty, absurd, intolerable,--he asked himself why he should continue to live. There were moments in which he looked lovingly at his pistols, and said to himself,-- “Why should I not spare Sarah Brandon the trouble?” What kept his hand back was the leaven of hatred which still rose in him at times. He ought to have the courage, at least, to live long enough to avenge himself.

“You ought not to become a misanthrope, my dear Champcey,” they would say. Now idleness left him, without respite or time, face to face with his distressing thoughts. It was the desire, the necessity almost, of escaping in some manner from himself, which made him accept an invitation to join a number of his comrades who wanted to try the charms of a great hunting party. They hurried up to catch him; but he fell, face forward, to the ground, saying aloud, and very distinctly,-- “This time they have not missed me!” At the outcry raised by the two neighbors of Daniel, other hunters had hastened up, and among them the chief surgeon of “The Conquest,” one of those old “pill-makers,” who, under a jovial scepticism, and a rough, almost brutal outside, conceal great skill and an almost feminine tenderness.

As soon as he looked at the wounded man, whom his friends had stretched out on his back, making a pillow of their overcoats, and who lay there pale and inanimate, the good doctor frowned, and growled out,-- “He won’t live.” The officers were thunderstruck. “Poor Champcey!” said one of them, “to escape the Kamboja fevers, and to be killed here at a pleasure party! Do you recollect, doctor, what you said on the occasion of his second accident,--‘Mind the third’?” The old doctor did not listen. But the most careful examination did not enable him to find the place where the projectile had come out again. The doctor rose slowly, and, while carefully dusting the knees of his trousers, he said,-- “All things considered, I would not bet that he may not escape. I should almost be disposed to answer for M. At all events, we must try to get him there alive. Let one of you gentlemen tell the sailors who have come with us to make a litter of branches.” The noise of a struggle, of fearful oaths and inarticulate cries, interrupted his orders.

Let me go, or I’ll hurt you!” He was so furiously struggling in the arms of the two sailors, clinging with an iron grip to roots and branches and rocks, turning and twisting at every step, that the men at last, furious at his resistance, lifted him up bodily, and threw him at the chief surgeon’s feet, exclaiming,-- “Here is the scoundrel who has killed our lieutenant!” It was a man of medium size, with a dejected air, and lack-lustre eyes, wearing a mustache and chin-beard, and looking impudent. His costume was that of an Annamite of the middle classes,--a blouse buttoned at the side, trousers made in Chinese style, and sandals of red leather. “Down there, commandant, behind that big bush, to the right of Lieut. Then, continuing his interrogatory, he asked,-- “Why did you hide?” “I did not hide.” “What were you doing there, crouching in the bush?” “I was at my post, like the others. Do they require a permit to carry arms in Cochin China? I was not invited to your hunting party, to be sure; but I am fond of game; and I said to myself, ‘Even if I were to shoot two or three head out of the hundreds their drivers will bring down, I would do them no great harm.’” The doctor let him talk on for some time, observing him closely with his sagacious eye; then, all of a sudden, he broke in, saying,-- “Give me your gun!” The man turned so visibly pale, that all the officers standing around noticed it. Still he did what he was asked to do, and said,-- “Here it is. It’s a gun one of my friends has lent me.” The doctor examined the weapon very carefully; and, after having inspected the lock, he said,-- “Both barrels of your gun are empty; and they have not been emptied more than two minutes ago.” “That is so; I fired both barrels at an animal that passed me within reach.” “One of the balls may have gone astray.” “That cannot be. I was aiming in the direction of the prairie; and, consequently, I was turning my back to the place where the officer was standing.” To the great surprise of everybody, the doctor’s face, ordinarily crafty enough, now looked all benevolent curiosity,--so much so, that the two sailors who had captured the man were furious, and said aloud,-- “Ah! don’t believe him, commandant, the dirty dog!” But the man, evidently encouraged by the surgeon’s apparent kindliness, asked,-- “Am I to be allowed to defend myself, or not?” And then he added in a tone of supreme impudence,-- “However, whether I defend myself or not, it will, no doubt, be all the same.

Wrong or right, as soon as they are accused, they are convicted.” The doctor seemed to have made up his mind; for he interrupted this flow of words, saying in his kindest voice,-- “Calm yourself, my friend. Champcey is still in the wound; and I am the man who is going to take it out, I promise you. I do not know if you understand me?” Yes, he understood, and so well, that his pale face turned livid, and he looked all around with frightened glances. I would give my life to save his if I could. what an unfortunate man I am!” The doctor had stepped back. He now ordered the two sailors who had arrested the man, to make sure of him, to bind him, and carry him to Saigon to prison. The man seemed to be annihilated. And he hastened away to see if all the preparations had been made to carry the wounded man.

In less than twenty minutes, and with that marvellous skill which is one of the characteristic features of good sailors, a solid litter had been constructed; the bottom formed a real mattress of dry leaves; and overhead a kind of screen had been made of larger leaves. When they put Daniel in, the pain caused him to utter a low cry of pain. “And now, my friends,” said the doctor, “let us go!

The sailors who carried the litter on which Daniel lay had walked eighteen hours without stopping, on footpaths which were almost impassable, and where every moment a passage had to be cut through impenetrable thickets of aloes, cactus, and jack-trees. Several times the officers had offered to take their places; but they had always refused, relieving each other, and taking all the time as ingenious precautions as a mother might devise for her dying infant. Although, therefore, the march lasted so long, the dying man felt no shock; and the old doctor said, quite touched, to the officers who were around him,-- “Good fellows, how careful they are! Good people, rude and rough, no doubt, in many ways, coarse sometimes, and even brutal, bad to meet on shore the day after pay-day, or coming out from a drinking-shop, but keeping under the rough outside a heart of gold, childlike simplicity, and the sacred fire of noblest devotion. Two officers who had hastened in advance had ordered a room to be made ready. Daniel was carried there; and when he had been gently put on a white, good bed, officers and sailors withdrew into an adjoining room to await the doctor’s sentence. Daniel had recovered his consciousness during the journey, and had even spoken a few words to those around him, but incoherent words, the utterance of delirium. The old surgeon had just appeared at the door of the sick-chamber; and, with a pleasant and hopeful smile on his lips, he said,-- “Our poor Champcey is doing as well as could be expected; and I would almost be sure of his recovery, if the great heat was not upon us.” And, silencing the murmur of satisfaction which arose among them at this good news, he went on to say,-- “Because, after all, serious as the wound is, it is nothing in comparison with what it might have been; and what is more, gentlemen, I have the corpus delicti.” He raised in the air, as he said this, a spherical ball, which he held between his thumb and forefinger. “Another instance,” he said, “to be added to those mentioned by our great masters of surgery, of the oddities of projectiles. This one, instead of pursuing its way straight through the body of our poor friend, had turned around the ribs, and gone to its place close by the vertebral column.

There I found it, almost on the surface; and nothing was needed to dislodge it but a slight push with the probe.” The shot-gun taken from the hands of the murderer had been deposited in a corner of the large room: they brought it up, tried the ball, and found it to fit accurately. Don’t let us be over-hasty in accusing a poor fellow of such a fearful crime, when, perhaps, he is guilty only of imprudence.” “O doctor, doctor!” protested half a dozen voices. Now, in this case, I look in vain for any reason, which could have induced the man to commit a murder. He certainly did not expect to rob our poor comrade. But, before a man makes up his mind to shoot even the man he hates like a dog, he must have been cruelly offended by him; and, to bring this about, he must have been in contact, or must have stood in some relation to him. He knew him perfectly well.” The man who interrupted the doctor was one of the sailors to whom the prisoner had been intrusted to carry him to prison. He came forward, twisting his worsted cap in his hands; and, when the old surgeon had ordered him to speak, he said,-- “Yes, the rascal knew the lieutenant as well as I know you, commandant; and the reason of it is, that the scoundrel was one of the emigrants whom we brought here eighteen months ago.” “Are you sure of what you say?” “As sure as I see you, commandant. At first my comrade and I did not recognize him, because a year and a half in this wretched country disfigure a man horribly; but, while we were carrying him to jail, we said to one another, ‘That is a head we have seen before.’ Then we made him talk; and he told us gradually, that he had been one of the passengers, and that he even knew my name, which is Baptist Lefloch.” This deposition of the sailor made a great impression upon all the bystanders, except the old doctor.

It is true he was looked upon, on board “The Conquest,” as one of the most obstinate men in holding on to his opinions. “Do you know,” he asked the sailor, “if this man was one of the four or five who had to be put in irons during the voyage?” “No, he was not one of them, commandant.” “Did he ever have anything to do with Lieut. Has he ever spoken to him?” “Ah, commandant!

that is more than I can tell.” The old doctor slightly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a tone of indifference,-- “You see, gentlemen, this deposition is too vague to prove anything. Believe me, therefore, do not let us judge before the trial, and let us go to bed.” Day was just breaking, pale and cool; the sailors disappeared one by one. The doctor was getting ready to lie down on a bed which he had ordered to be put up in a room adjoining that in which the wounded man was lying, when an officer came in.

“I should like to have a word in private with you, doctor,” he said. “Be kind enough to come up to my room.” And when they were alone, he locked the door, and said,-- “I am listening.” The lieutenant thought a moment, like a man who looks for the best form in which to present an important idea, and then said,-- “Between us, doctor, do you believe it was an accident, or a crime?” The surgeon hesitated visibly. And Saint Edme, who was farther from him than I was, heard it as distinctly as I did.” To the great surprise of the lieutenant, the chief surgeon seemed only moderately surprised; his eyes, on the contrary, shone with that pleased air of a man who congratulates himself at having foreseen exactly what he now is told was the fact. He drew a chair up to the fireplace, in which a huge fire had been kindled to dry his clothes, sat down, and said,-- “Do you know, my dear lieutenant, that what you tell me is a matter of the greatest importance? In the third place, those words, ‘This time,’ establish the fact that his life has been attempted before.” “That is just what I thought, doctor.” The worthy old gentleman looked very grave and solemn, meditating deeply. After what you tell me, I am sure.” He seized the lieutenant’s hand; and, pressing it almost painfully, he went on,-- “Yes, I am ready to take my oath that this wretch is the vile tool of people who hate or fear Daniel Champcey; who are deeply interested in his death; and who, being too cowardly to do their own business, are rich enough to hire an assassin.” The lieutenant was evidently unable to follow.

“Still, doctor,” he objected, “but just now you insisted”-- “Upon a diametrically opposite doctrine; eh?” “Precisely.” The old surgeon smiled, and said,-- “I had my reasons. The more I am persuaded that this man is an assassin, the less I am disposed to proclaim it on the housetops. He has accomplices, you think, do you?” “Certainly.” “Well, if we wish to reach them, we must by all means reassure them, leave them under the impression that everybody thinks it was an accident. They will vanish before you can put out your hand to seize them.” “Champcey might be questioned; perhaps he could furnish some information.” But the doctor rose, and stopped him with an air of fury,-- “Question my patient! If I am to have the wonderful good luck to pull him through, no one shall come near his bed for a month. And, moreover, it will be very fortunate indeed if in a month he is sufficiently recovered to keep up a conversation.” He shook his head, and went on, after a moment’s silence,-- “Besides, it is a question whether Champcey would be disposed to say what he knows, or what he suspects.

But I must ask you, lieutenant, to keep my secret till further order. Will you promise?” “On my word, doctor.” “Then you may rest assured our poor friend shall be avenged. And now, as I have barely two hours to rest, please excuse me.” XXIV. As soon as he was alone, the doctor threw himself on his bed; but he could not sleep. He felt as if this crime was the result of some terrible but mysterious intrigue; and the very fact of having, as he fancied, raised a corner of the veil, made him burn with the desire to draw it aside altogether. “Why,” he said to himself, “why might not the scamp whom we hold be the author of the other two attempts likewise? The man, once engaged, might easily have been put on board ‘The Conquest;’ and he might have left France saying to himself that it would be odd indeed, if during a long voyage, or in a land like this, he did not find a chance to earn his money without running much risk.” The result of his meditations was, that the chief surgeon appeared, at nine o’clock, at the office of the state attorney. He placed the matter before him very fully and plainly; and, an hour afterwards, he crossed the yard on his way to the prison, accompanied by a magistrate and his clerk.

He seemed to be stupefied.” “You did not try to make him talk?” “Why, yes, a little. He answered that he had done some mischief; that he was in despair, and wished he were dead.” The magistrate looked at the surgeon as if he meant to say, “Just as I expected from what you told me!” Then, turning again to the jailer, he said,-- “Show us to the prisoner’s cell.” The murderer had been put into a small but tidy cell in the first story. The magistrate, however, seemed to be taken in. The magistrate added,-- “In your own interest I advise you to tell the truth. The truth always comes out in the end; and your position would be a very serious one if you tried to lie. Answer, therefore, directly.” “Well, I am an engraver on metal; but I have been in the army; I served my time in the marines.” “What brought you to Cochin China?” “The desire to find work. I met a friend who told me the government wanted good workmen for the colonies.” “What was your friend’s name?” A slight blush passed over the man’s cheek’s, and he answered hastily,-- “I have forgotten his name.” The magistrate seemed to redouble his attention, although he did not show it. “Come, make an effort; try to remember.” “I know I cannot; it is not worth the trouble.” “Well; but no doubt you recollect the profession of the man who knew so well that government wanted men in Cochin China? Besides, what have I to do with my friend’s name and profession? The magistrate, in the meantime, went on with the same impassive air,-- “Let us leave that question, then, since it seems to irritate you, and let us go on to your residence here.

“If you won’t let me have my say,” he broke out insolently, “it isn’t worth while questioning me.” The magistrate seemed not to notice it. He asked next,-- “And that is a good place,--to be waiter at a restaurant or a hotel?” “Why, yes--pretty good.” “They pay well; eh?” “That depends,--sometimes they do; at other times they don’t. That is too improbable! When people save money, one cent after another, to provide for their old age, they know pretty well”-- “Well, then, take it for granted that I have saved nothing.” “As you like it.

Only it is my duty to show you the effect of your declaration. They will soon know if you have invested any money, or if you have deposited it with any of your acquaintances.” “I may have brought some money with me from home.” “No; for you have told me that you could no longer live in Paris, finding no work.” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, made such a sudden and violent start, that the surgeon thought he was going to attack the magistrate. “Did you bring any money from France, or did you not?” The man rose, and his lips opened to utter a curse; but he checked himself, sat down again, and, laughing ferociously, he said,-- “Ah! you would like to ‘squeeze’ me, and make me cut my own throat. But luckily, I can see through you; and I refuse to answer.” “You mean you want to consider. You need not consider in order to tell the truth.” And, as the man remained obstinately silent, the magistrate began again after a pause, saying,-- “You know what you are accused of? Champcey with intent to kill.” “That is an abominable lie!” “So you say. How did you hear that the officers of ‘The Conquest’ had arranged a large hunting-party?” “I had heard them speak of it at table d’hote.” “And you left your service in order to attend this hunt, some twelve miles from Saigon? And then I thought, if I could bring back a large quantity of game, I would probably be able to sell it very well.” “And you would have added the profit to your other savings, wouldn’t you?” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, was stung by the point of this ironical question, as if he had received a sharp cut. But, as he said nothing, the magistrate continued,-- “Explain to us how the thing happened.” On this ground the murderer knew he was at home, having had ample time to get ready; and with an accuracy which did great honor to his memory, or to his veracity, he repeated what he had told the surgeon on the spot, and at the time of the catastrophe.

He only added, that he had concealed himself, because he had seen at once to what terrible charges he would be exposed by his awkwardness. And as he continued his account, warming up with its plausibility, he recovered the impudence, or rather the insolence, which seemed to be the prominent feature of his character. Champcey.” “Have you any complaint against him?” “None at all.” Then he added in a tone of bitterness and resentment,-- “What relations do you think could there be between a poor devil like myself and a great personage like him? Would he have condescended even to look at me? Would I have dared to speak to him?

If I know him, it is only because I have seen him, from afar off, walk the quarter-deck with the other officers, a cigar in his mouth, after a good meal, while we in the forecastle had our salt fish, and broke our teeth with worm-eaten hard-tack.” “So you had no reason to hate him?” “None; as little as anybody else.” Seated upon a wretched little footstool, his paper on his knees, an inkhorn in his hand, the clerk was rapidly taking down the questions and the answers. The magistrate made him a sign that it was ended, and then said, turning to the murderer,-- “That is enough for to-day. I am bound to tell you, that, having so far only kept you as a matter of precaution, I shall issue now an order for your arrest.” “You mean I am to be put in jail?” “Yes, until the court shall decide whether you are guilty of murder, or of involuntary homicide.” Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, seemed to have foreseen this conclusion: at least he coolly shrugged his shoulders, and said in a hoarse voice,-- “In that case I shall have my linen changed pretty often here; for, if I had been wicked enough to plot an assassination, I should not have been fool enough to say so.” “Who knows?” replied the magistrate. “Some evidence is as good as an avowal.” And, turning to the clerk, he said,-- “Read the deposition to the accused.” A moment afterwards, when this formality had been fulfilled, the magistrate and the old doctor left the room. The former looked extremely grave, and said,-- “You were right, doctor; that man is a murderer. The so-called friend, whose name he would not tell us, is no other person than the rascal whose tool he is. And I mean to get that person’s name out of him, if M. Therefore, doctor, nurse your patient.” To recommend Daniel to the surgeon was at least superfluous. If the old original was inexorable, as they said on board ship, for those lazy ones who pretended to be sick for the purpose of shirking work, he was all tenderness for his real patients; and his tenderness grew with the seriousness of their danger.

It would have been enough, therefore, for Daniel to be so dangerously wounded. To try to question him would have been absurd; for he had so far continued delirious. Not one of those noble daughters of divine wisdom, whom we meet in every part of the globe, wherever there is a sick man to nurse, could have been more patient, more attentive, or more ingenious, than this common sailor. He had put off his shoes, so as to walk more softly; and he came and went on tiptoe, his face full of care and anxiety, preparing draughts, and handling with his huge bony hands, with laughable, but almost touching precautions, the small phials out of which he had to give a spoonful to his patient at stated times. Champcey did not send for one of those lazy Annamites to rub him, he came himself, and rubbed him till he brought back the heat and life itself.

Now, you see, I want to do some little for him.” “You would be a great scamp if you did not.” The surgeon hardly left the wounded man himself. He visited him four or five times a day, once at least every night, and almost every day remained for hours sitting by his bedside, examining the patient, and experiencing, according to the symptoms, the most violent changes from hope to fear, and back again. It was thus he learned a part, at least, of Daniel’s history,--that he was to marry a daughter of Count Ville- Handry, who himself had married an adventuress; and that they had separated him from his betrothed by a forged letter. The doctor’s conjectures were thus confirmed: such cowardly forgers would not hesitate to hire an assassin. But the worthy surgeon was too deeply impressed with the dignity of his profession to divulge secrets which he had heard by the bedside of a patient. And when the magistrate, devoured by impatience, came to him every three or four days, he always answered,-- “I have nothing new to tell you. Order seemed gradually to return to his mind. But he was so excessively weak, that he remained nearly all the time plunged in a kind of torpor which looked very much like death itself.

When he was aroused for a time, he always asked in an almost inaudible voice,-- “Are there no letters for me from France?” Invariably, Lefloch replied, according to orders received from the doctor,-- “None, lieutenant.” But he told a falsehood. Since Daniel was confined to his bed, three vessels had arrived from France, two French and one English; and among the despatches there were eight or ten letters for Lieut. 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. “There must be letters for me,” he said to his man; “you keep them from me. I must have them.” The doctor at last came to the conclusion that this excessive agitation was likely to become as dangerous as the excitement he dreaded so much; so he said one day,-- “Let us run the risk.” It was a burning hot afternoon, and Daniel had now been an invalid for seven weeks. Lefloch raised him on his pillows, stowed him away, as he called it; and the surgeon handed him his letters.

He kissed them, and said,-- “At last she writes!” The shock was so violent, that the doctor was almost frightened.

Be a man, forsooth!” But Daniel only smiled, and replied,-- “Never mind me, doctor; you know joy is never dangerous; and nothing but joy can come to me from her who writes to me. However, just see how calm I am!” So calm, that he did not even take the time to see which was the oldest of his letters. He opened one of them at haphazard, and read:-- “Daniel, my dear Daniel, my only friend in this world, and my sole hope, how could you intrust me to such an infamous person? How could you hand over your poor Henrietta to such a wretch? de Brevan had declared to her that he loved her, and that sooner or later, whether she chose or not, she should be his, giving her the choice between the horrors of starvation and the disgrace of becoming his wife. This one will reach you; for I am going to carry it to the post-office myself. Come back quick, if you wish to save, not your Henrietta’s honor, for I shall know how to die, but your Henrietta’s life!” Then the surgeon and the sailor witnessed a frightful sight. 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! Run to the harbor, wretch!

He tottered; his eyes dosed; and he fainted away in the arms of his sailor, stammering,-- “That letter, doctor, that letter; read it, and you will see I must go.” Raising his lieutenant, and holding him like a child in his arms, Lefloch carried him back to his bed; but, for more than ten minutes, the doctor and the faithful sailor were unable to tell whether they had not a corpse before their eyes, and were wasting all their attentions. We’ll pull him through yet.” They succeeded, in fact, to rekindle this life which had appeared so nearly extinct; but they did not bring back that able intellect. The cold and indifferent look with which Daniel stared at them, when he at last opened his eyes once more, told them that the tottering reason of the poor man had not been strong enough to resist this new shock. And still he must have retained some glimpses of the past; for his efforts to collect his thoughts were unmistakable. He passed his hands mechanically over his forehead, as if trying to remove the mist which enshrouded his mind. “I foresaw it but too fully.” He had by this time exhausted all the resources of his skill and long experience; he had followed all the suggestions nature vouchsafed; and he could do nothing more now, but wait. Picking up the fatal letter, he went into the embrasure of one of the windows to read it. Daniel had in his wanderings said enough to enable the doctor to understand the piercing cry of distress contained in the poor girl’s letter; and Lefloch, who watched him, saw a big tear running down his cheek, and in the next moment a flood of crimson overspread his face. “This is enough to madden a man!” he growled.

“Poor Champcey!” And like a man who no longer possesses himself, who must move somehow, he stuffed the letter in his pocket, and went out, swearing till the plaster seemed to fall from the ceiling. Precisely at the same hour, the magistrate, who had been notified of the trial, came to ask for news. Seeing the old surgeon cross the hospital yard, he ran up and asked, as soon as he was within hearing,-- “Well?” The doctor went a few steps farther, and then replied in a tone of despair,-- “Lieut.

It would take another miracle to save him now; and you may rest assured it won’t be done. If Daniel dies, you will be bound to release that scamp, the wretched murderer whom you keep imprisoned,--that man Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet; for there will be no evidence. And yet you know, as well as I do, he has wantonly fired at one of the noblest creatures I have ever known. And, when he has served his term, he will receive the price of Champcey’s life, and he will spend it in orgies; and the others, the true criminals, who have hired him, will go about the world with lofty pride, rich, honored, and haughty.” “Doctor!” But the old original was not to be stopped. Your human justice,--do you want me to tell you what I think of it? When you send every year three or four stupid murderers to the scaffold, and some dozens of miserable thieves to the penitentiary, you fold your black gowns around you, and proudly proclaim that all is well, and that society, thus protected, may sleep soundly.

The others, the strong, escape between the meshes of your laws, and, relying on their cleverness and your want of power, they enjoy the fruit of their crimes in all the pride of their impunity, until”-- He hesitated, and added, unlike his usual protestations of atheism,-- “Until the day of divine judgment.” Far from appearing hurt by such an outburst of indignation, the magistrate, after having listened with impassive face, said, as soon as the doctor stopped for want of breath,-- “You must have discovered something new.” “Most assuredly. But he cannot live.” “Well, well, console yourself, doctor. Champcey live or die, justice shall be done, I promise you!” He spoke in a tone of such absolute certainty, that the old surgeon was struck by it. I have been searching; and I think I have sufficient evidence now to bring out the truth. And if you, on your side, have any positive information”-- “Yes, I have; and I think I am justified now in communicating it to you. I have, besides, a letter”-- He was pulling the letter out of his pocket; but the magistrate stopped him, saying,-- “We cannot talk here in the middle of the court, where everybody can watch us from the windows. The court-room is quite near: suppose we go there, doctor.” For all answer the surgeon put on his cap firmly, took his friend’s arm, and the next moment the soldier on duty at the gate of the hospital saw them go out, engaged in a most animated conversation. When they had reached the magistrate’s room, he shut the door carefully; and, after having invited the surgeon to take a seat, he said:-- “I shall ask you for your information in a moment. First listen to what I have to say. it has cost me time and labor enough; but human justice is patient, doctor.

Considering that this man had sailed on board ‘The Conquest’ for more than four months, in company with one hundred and fifty emigrants, I thought it would be unlikely that he should not have tried to break the monotony of such a voyage by long talks with friends. “Almost every one of them had found out some detail of Bagnolet’s life, some more, some less, according to the degree of honesty or demoralization which Bagnolet thought he discovered in them. I collected all the depositions of these witnesses; I completed and compared them, one by the other; and thus, by means of the confessions of the accused, certain allusions and confidences of his made to others, and his indiscretions when he was drunk, I was enabled to make up his biography with a precision which is not likely to be doubted.” Without seeming to notice the doctor’s astonishment, he opened a large case on his table; and, drawing from it a huge bundle of papers, he held it up in the air, saying,-- “Here are the verbal depositions of my hundred and odd witnesses.” Then, pointing at four or five sheets of paper, which were covered with very fine and close writing, he added,-- “And here are my extracts. Now, doctor, listen,--” And at once he commenced reading this biography of his “accused,” making occasional remarks, and explaining what he had written. He was born in February; and this month is determined by the deposition of a witness, to whom the accused offered, during the voyage, a bottle, with the words, ‘To-day is my birthday.’ “From all the accounts of the accused, it appears that his parents were evidently very honest people. “The accused was sent to school; and, if you believe him, he learned quickly, and showed remarkable talents. “He has never given a satisfactory explanation. “The positive result of these investigations is, that his father, distressed by his misconduct, and despairing of ever seeing him mend his ways, had him sent to a house of correction when he was fourteen years old. “Released at the end of eighteen months, he says he was bound out as an apprentice, and soon learned his business well enough to support himself. This fact he has himself stated to more than twenty-five persons.

One was told that he had been sentenced for having stabbed one of his companions while drunk; another, that it was for a row in a drinking-saloon; and a third, that he was innocently involved with others in an attempt to rob a foreigner. “The prosecution is, therefore, entitled to conclude fairly that Crochard was sentenced simply as a thief. At the end of three months he was turned off, because of ‘improper conduct with women,’ according to one; or, if we believe another statement, because he was accused of a robbery committed in one of the boxes. “Unable to procure work, he engaged himself as groom in a wandering circus, and thus travelled through the provinces. But at Marseilles, he is wounded in a fight, and has to go to a hospital, where he remains three months. “After his return to Paris, he associated himself with a rope-dancer, but was soon called upon to enter the army. But the next year we find him negotiating with a dealer in substitutes; and he confesses having sold himself purely from a mad desire to possess fifteen hundred francs at once, and to be able to spend them in debauch.

Having successfully concealed his antecedents, he is next admitted as substitute in the B Regiment of the line; but, before a year had elapsed, his insubordination has caused him to be sent to Africa as a punishment. “He remained there sixteen months, and conducted himself well enough to be incorporated in the First Regiment of Marines, one battalion of which was to be sent to Senegambia. He had, however, by no means given up his bad ways; for he was very soon after condemned to ten years’ penal servitude for having broken into a house by night as a robber.” The chief surgeon, who had for some time given unmistakable signs of impatience, now rose all of a sudden, and said,-- “Pardon me, if I interrupt you, sir; but can you rely upon the veracity of your witnesses?” “Why should I doubt them?” “Because it seems to me very improbable that a cunning fellow, such as this Crochard seems to be, should have denounced himself.” “But he has not denounced himself.” “Ah?” “He has often mentioned this condemnation; but he has always attributed it to acts of violence against a superior; On that point he has never varied in his statements.” “Then how on earth did you learn”-- “The truth? Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet.’” And, as the doctor bowed without saying a word, the magistrate said,-- “I resume the account. The statements of the accused since his arrest are too insignificant to be here reported. There is only one peculiarity of importance for the prosecution, which may possibly serve to enable us to trace the instigators of this crime. You meet there young men of family, who have done a foolish thing, and lots of people, who, wishing to make a fortune all at once, had no chance. When they come out from there, many of these fellows get into very good positions; and then, if you meet them, they don’t know you. I have known some people there, who now ride in their carriages.’” The doctor had become silent.

“Oh!” he said half aloud, “might not some of these people whom the assassin has known in prison have put arms in his hand?” “That is the very question I asked myself.” “Because, you see, some of Daniel’s enemies are fearful people; and if you knew what is in this letter here in my hand, which, no doubt, will be the cause of that poor boy’s death”-- “Allow me to finish, doctor,” said the man of law. How the accused lived in Paris, to which he had returned after his release, is not known. Did he resort to mean cheating, or to improper enterprises, in order to satisfy his passions? The prosecution is reduced to conjectures, since Crochard has refused to give details, and only makes very general statements as to these years. “This fact only is established, that every thing he took with him when he left Paris was new,--his tools, the linen in his valise, the clothes he wore, from the cap on his head to his shoes.

Why were they all new?” As the magistrate had now reached the last line on the first sheet, the surgeon rose, bowed low, and said,-- “Upon my word, sir, I surrender; and I do begin to hope that Lieut. But wait before you congratulate me.” The old surgeon was too candid to make even an attempt at concealing his astonishment. “Here is something,” he said, “which was sent to the state attorney twelve days after the last attempt had been made on M.

Listen!” And he read thus,-- “Sir,--A sailor, who has come over to Boen-Hoa, where I live with my wife, has told us that a certain Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, has shot, and perhaps mortally wounded, Lieut. Champcey of the ship ‘Conquest.’ “In connection with this misfortune, my wife thinks, and I also consider it a matter of conscience, that we should make known to you a very serious matter.

“One day I happened to be on a yardarm, side by side with Crochard, helping the sailors to furl a sail, when I saw him drop a huge block, which fell upon Lieut. 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.

“Thinking that he had been simply awkward, I allowed myself to be moved, and swore to Crochard that the matter should remain between us. But what has happened since proves very clearly, as my wife says, that I was wrong to keep silence; and I am ready now to tell all, whatever may be the consequences.

And we are, with the most profound respect, &c.” The doctor rubbed his hands violently. if the man had been left to his own counsels, he would have kept it all secret, so terribly is he afraid of this Crochard; but, fortunately, his wife had more courage.” “Decidedly,” growled the surgeon. But I have another string to my bow. Therefore he must have changed his clothes; and, in order to do that, he must have bought some; for he had taken nothing with him out of the ship but what he had on. I mean to find that out as soon as I shall no longer be forced to carry on the investigation secretly, as I have done so far. For I never forget one thing, that the real criminals are in France, and that they will surely escape us, if they hear that their wretched accomplice here is in trouble.” Once more the surgeon drew Henrietta’s letter from his pocket, and handed it to the lawyer, saying,-- “I know who they are, the really guilty ones. I know Daniel’s enemies,--Sarah Brandon, Maxime de Brevan, and the others.” But the magistrate waved back the letter, and replied,-- “It is not enough for us to know them, doctor; we want evidence against them,--clear, positive, irrefutable evidence. As soon as they see they are overwhelmed by the evidence against them, and feel they are in real danger, they hasten to denounce their accomplices, and to aid justice, with all their perversity to discover them. When I shall have established the fact that he was hired to murder M. Champcey, he will tell me by whom he was hired; and he will have to confess that he was thus hired, when I show him how much of the money he received for the purpose is now left.” The old surgeon once more jumped up from his chair.

Morally sure as I was, after the first examination of the accused, that he had a relatively large sum hidden somewhere, I first gave all my attention to his chamber. The furniture was taken to pieces, and examined, the lining taken out of the chairs, and even the paper stripped from the walls. I was in despair, when a thought struck me,--one of those simple thoughts which make you wonder why it did not occur to you at once. I said to myself, ‘I have found it!’ And, anxious to ascertain if I was right, I immediately sent for the man with whom Crochard had made the bet about swimming across the Dong-Nai. He came; and--But I prefer reading you his deposition.” He took from the large bundle of papers a single sheet, and, assuming an air of great modesty, read the affidavit.

“Witness.--A little below the town.

“W.--At the place where he went into the water, just opposite the tile-factory of M. Try to recollect. When Bagnolet had undressed, I saw he looked annoyed, as if he disliked going into the water. He was afraid about his clothes; and he did not rest satisfied till I had told him I would keep watch over them. He had in the meantime done his work, and came back; but, instead of listening to my compliments, he cried furiously, ‘My clothes!’--‘Well,’ I said, ‘they are not lost. There they are.’ Thereupon he pushed me back fiercely, without saying a word, and ran like a madman to pick up his clothes.” The chief surgeon was electrified; he rose, and said,-- “I understand; yes, I understand.” XXV. Thus proceeding from one point to another, and by the unaided power of his sagacity, coupled with indefatigable activity, the magistrate had succeeded in establishing Crochard’s guilt, and the existence of accomplices who had instigated the crime.

No one could doubt that he was proud of it, and that his self-esteem had increased, although he tried hard to preserve his stiff and impassive appearance. He had even affected a certain dislike to the idea of reading Henrietta’s letter, until he should have proved that he could afford to do without such assistance. He would never have dared to abuse Miss Ville- Handry’s confidence in so infamous a manner, if he had not been persuaded, in fact been quite sure, that Lieut. Champcey would never return to France.” Then, after a few minutes’ reflection, he added,-- “And yet I feel that there is something underneath still, which we do not see. But remember what I say, doctor: the future reserves some fearful mysteries yet to be revealed to us hereafter.” The two men had been so entirely preoccupied with their thoughts, that they were unconscious of the flight of time; and they were not a little astonished, therefore, when they now noticed that the day was gone, and night was approaching. The lawyer rose, and asked, returning Henrietta’s letter to the doctor,-- “Is this the only one M. Champcey has received?” “No; but it is the only one he has opened.” “Would you object to handing me the others?” The excellent doctor hesitated.

“I will hand them to you,” he said at last, “if you will assure me that the interests of justice require it. Champcey’s death?” but the lawyer understood him. They shook hands; and the chief surgeon, his heart fall of darkest presentiments, slowly made his way to the hospital. “It is almost indescribable,” said the old doctor, whose experience was utterly at fault.

“I am an ass; and our science is a bubble.” Turning to Lefloch, who had respectfully risen at his entrance, he asked,-- “Since when has your master been sleeping in this way?” “For an hour, commandant.” “How did he fall asleep?” “Quite naturally, commandant. After you left, the lieutenant was for some time pretty wild yet; but soon he quieted down, and finally he asked for something to drink. I gave him a cup of your tea; he took it, and then asked me to help him turn over towards the wall.

I came up softly on tiptoe, and looked. I felt as if somebody had kicked me in the stomach. Because, you see, I know him; and I know, that, before a man such as he is goes to crying like a little child, he must have suffered more than death itself.

“Now,” he continued in a half-stifled voice, “I saw why the lieutenant had wished to turn his face to the wall, and I went back without making a noise.

He has sworn to kill me and Henrietta, the wretch! He swore it no doubt, the very day on which I, fool as I was, confided Henrietta and my whole fortune to him.’” “Did he say that?” “The very words, commandant, but better, a great deal better.” The old surgeon seemed to be amazed.

“Nothing of interest to you. Go on.” “Well, after that--but there is nothing more to tell, except that I heard nothing more. The lieutenant remained in the same position till I came to light the lamp; then he ordered me to make him tack ship, and to let down the screen over the lamp. He was asleep as you see him now.” “And how did his eyes look when he fell asleep?” “Quite calm and bright.” The doctor looked like a man to whom something has happened which is utterly inexplicable to him, and said in a low voice,-- “He will pull through, I am sure now. I said there could not be another miracle; and here it is!” Then turning to Lefloch, he asked,-- “You know where I am staying?” “Yes, commandant.” “If your officer wakes up in the night, you will send for me at once.” “Yes, commandant.” But Daniel did not wake up; and he had hardly opened his eyes on the next morning, about eight o’clock, when the chief surgeon entered his room. At the first glance at his patient, he exclaimed,-- “I am sure our imprudence yesterday will have no bad effects!” Daniel said nothing; but, after the old surgeon had carefully examined him, he began,-- “Now, doctor, one question, a single one: in how many days will I be able to get up and take ship?” “Ah! my dear lieutenant, there is time enough to talk about that.” “No, doctor, no!

Fix a time, and I shall have the fortitude to wait; but uncertainty will kill me. Yes, I shall manage to wait, although I suffer like”-- The surgeon was evidently deeply touched. I think in a month you will be able to sail.” “A month!” said Daniel in a tone as if he had said an age. And after a pause he added,-- “That is not all, doctor: I want to ask you for the letters which I could not read yesterday.” “What? You would--But that would be too great an imprudence.” “No, doctor, don’t trouble yourself. I know I must live, if I want to save Henrietta,--to avenge her, if I should come too late. When the man told me mockingly that I need not count upon your return, and cast an atrocious look at me, I understood. Take care, be watchful; think that you are the only friend, the sole hope here below, of your Henrietta.” Now it was truly seen that Daniel had not presumed too much on his strength and his courage. Not a muscle in his face changed; his eye remained straight and clear; and he said in an accent of coldest, bitterest irony,-- “Look at this, doctor. Here is the explanation of the strange ill luck that has pursued me ever since I left France.” At a glance the doctor read Henrietta’s warning, which came, alas!

so much too late. “You ought to remember this, also, that M. “The man who fired at me has been arrested?” Lefloch was unable to restrain himself at this juncture, and replied,-- “I should say so, lieutenant, and by my hand, before his gun had cooled off.” The doctor did not wait for the questions which he read in the eyes of his patient. He said at once,-- “It is as Lefloch says, my dear lieutenant; and, if you have not been told anything about it, it was because the slightest excitement would become fatal. Yesterday’s experience has only proved that too clearly. That wretched creature is a mere tool. But, doctor, you know who are the real guilty ones.” “And justice shall be done, I swear!” broke in the old surgeon, who looked upon the cause of his patient with as much interest as if it were his own.

“Our lucky star has sent us a lawyer who is no trifler, and who, if I am not very much mistaken, would like very much to leave Saigon with a loud blast of trumpets.” He remained buried in thought for a while, watching his patient out of the corner of his eye, and then said suddenly,-- “Now I think of it, why could you not see the lawyer? He is all anxiety to examine you. Consider, lieutenant, do you feel strong enough to see him?” “Let him come,” cried Daniel, “let him come! Pray, doctor, go for him at once!” “I shall do my best, my dear Champcey. I will go at once, and leave you to finish your correspondence.” He left the room with these words; and Daniel turned to the letters, which were still lying on his bed.

Faithful to her system, Sarah wrote volumes; and from line to line, in some way or other, her real or feigned love for Daniel broke forth more freely, and no longer was veiled and hidden under timid reserve and long-winded paraphrases. Of Henrietta she said but little,--enough, however, to terrify Daniel, if he had not known the truth. Weary of the control which her indiscretions rendered indispensable, she has fled, we know not with whom; and all our efforts to find her have so far been unsuccessful.” On the other hand, M. de Brevan wrote, “Deaf to my counsel and prayers even, Miss Ville-Handry has carried out the project of leaving her paternal home. Suspected of having favored her escape, I have been called out by Sir Thorn, and had to fight a duel with him.

A paper which I enclose will give you the details of our meeting, and tell you that I was lucky enough to wound that gentleman of little honor, but of great skill with the pistol. my poor, excellent Daniel, why should I be compelled by the duties of friendship to confess to you that it was not for the purpose of remaining faithful to you, that Miss Henrietta was so anxious to be free? Do not desire to return, my poor friend! You would suffer too much in finding her whom you have loved so dearly unworthy of an honest man, unworthy of you.

Believe me, I did all I could to prevent her irregularities, which now have become public. I only drew her hatred upon me, and I should not be surprised if she did all she could to make us all cut our throats.” This impudence was bold enough to confound anybody’s mind, and to make one doubt one’s own good sense. Still he found the newspaper, which had been sent to him with the letter, and in it the account of the duel between M. “It may be that there is discord among my enemies,” he said to himself, “and that they do no longer agree, now that, in their view, the moment approaches when they are to divide the proceeds of their crimes. Or is the whole merely a comedy for the purpose of deceiving me, and keeping me here, until the murderer has done his work?” He was not allowed to torture his mind long with efforts to seek the solution of this riddle. The old doctor came back with the lawyer, and for more than half an hour he had to answer an avalanche of questions. But the investigation had been carried on with such rare sagacity, that Daniel could furnish the prosecution only a single new fact,--the surrender of his entire fortune into the hands of M. And even this fact must needs, on account of its extreme improbability, remain untold in an investigation which was based upon logic alone. Daniel very naturally, somewhat ashamed of his imprudence, tried to excuse himself; and, when he had concluded his explanations, the lawyer said,-- “Now, one more question: would you recognize the man who attempted to drown you in the Dong-Nai in a boat which he had offered to you, and which he upset evidently on purpose?” “No, sir.” “Ah! That man was Crochard, I am sure; but he will deny it; and the prosecution will have nothing but probabilities to oppose to his denial, unless I can find the place where he changed his clothes.” “Excuse me, there is a way to ascertain his identity.” “How?” “The voice of the wretch is so deeply engraven on my mind, that even at this moment, while I am speaking to you, I think I can hear it in my ear; and I would recognize it among a thousand.” The lawyer made no reply, weighing, no doubt, in his mind the chances of a confrontation.

Then he made up his mind, and said,-- “It is worth trying.” And handing his clerk, who had been a silent witness of this scene, an order to have the accused brought to the hospital, he said,-- “Take this to the jail, and let them make haste.” It was a month now since Crochard had been arrested; and his imprisonment, so far from discouraging him, had raised his spirits. “They are evidently looking for evidence,” he said; “but, as they cannot find any, they will have to let me go.” He looked, therefore, as self-assured as ever when he came into Daniel’s room, and exclaimed, while still in the door, with an air of intolerable arrogance,-- “Well? “That is the man!” he exclaimed; “I am ready to swear to it, that is the man!” Great as was the impudence of Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, he was astonished, and looked with rapid, restless eyes at the chief surgeon, at the magistrate, and last at Lefloch, who stood immovable at the foot of the bed of his lieutenant. He had too much experience of legal forms not to know that he had given way to absurd illusions,--and that his position was far more dangerous than he had imagined. The effort he made to guess all this gave to his face an atrocious expression.

“On the contrary,” he said severely, “you understand but too well Lieut. Champcey says you are the man who tried to drown him in the Dong-Nai. A sudden reflection had shown him the trap in which he had been caught,--a trap quite familiar to examining lawyers, and terrible by its very simplicity.

But for that reflection, he would have gone on thus,-- “That’s impossible; for the night was too dark to distinguish a man’s features.” And that would have been equivalent to a confession; and he would have had nothing to answer the magistrate, if the latter had asked at once,-- “How do you know that the darkness was so great on the banks of the Dong-Nai? Turning to Daniel, he asked him,-- “Do you persist in your declaration, lieutenant?” “More than ever, sir; I declare upon honor that I recognize the man’s voice. When he offered me a boat, he spoke a kind of almost unintelligible jargon, a mixture of English and Spanish words; but he did not think of changing his intonation and his accent.” Affecting an assurance which he was far from really feeling, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, shrugged his shoulders carelessly, and said,-- “Do I know any English? Do I know any Spanish?” “No, very likely not; but like all Frenchmen who live in this colony, and like all the marines, you no doubt know a certain number of words of these two languages.” To the great surprise of the doctor and of Daniel, the prisoner did not deny it; it looked as if he felt that he was on dangerous ground. “It is anyhow pretty hard to accuse an honest man of a crime, because his voice resembles the voice of a rascal.” The magistrate gently shook his head. I know your antecedents, from the first petty theft that procured you four months’ imprisonment, to the aggravated robbery for which you were sent to the penitentiary, when you were in the army.” Profound stupor lengthened all of Crochard’s features; but he was not the man to give up a game in which his head was at stake, without fighting for it. “I have been condemned to ten years, that is true, when I was a soldier; but it was for having struck an officer who had punished me unjustly.” “You lie. A former soldier of your regiment, who is now in garrison here in Saigon, will prove it.” For the first time the accused seemed to be really troubled.

Justice knows everything it wants to know. That shot was the third attempt you made to murder a man.” Crochard drew back. But he had still the strength to say in a half-strangled voice,-- “That is false!” But the magistrate had too great an abundance of evidence to allow the examination to continue. Do you want to see him?” Once more Crochard opened his lips to protest his innocence; but he could not utter a sound. Then, seeing no other chance of safety, except the mercy of the judges, he fell heavily on his knees, and stammered out,-- “I am a wretched man.” At the same instant a cry of astonishment burst from the doctor, from Daniel, and the worthy Lefloch. He knew in advance that the first victory would be easily won, and that the real difficulty would be to induce the prisoner to confess the name of his principal. Without giving him, therefore time to recover, he said,-- “Now, what reasons had you for persecuting M. Once during the voyage he had threatened to have me put in irons.” “The man lies!” said Daniel.

They had hired you to kill Lieut. Champcey, and you wanted to earn your money. You got a certain sum of money in advance; and you were to receive a larger sum after his death.” “I swear”-- “Don’t swear! The time had come to strike a decisive blow, and to judge of the value of his system of induction. Instead, therefore, of replying to the prisoner, he turned to the gendarmes who were present and said to them,-- “Take the prisoner into the next room. Strip him, and examine all his clothes carefully: see to it that there is nothing hid in the lining.” The gendarmes advanced to seize the prisoner, when he suddenly jumped up, and said in a tone of ill-constrained rage,-- “No need for that! I have three one thousand-franc-notes sewn into the lining of my trousers.” This time the pride of success got completely the better of the imperturbable coldness of the magistrate. He uttered a low cry of satisfaction, and could not refrain from casting a look of triumph at Daniel and the doctor, which said clearly,-- “Well?

What did I tell you?” It was for a second only; the next instant his features resumed their icy immobility; and, turning to the accused, he said in a tone of command,-- “Hand me the notes!” Crochard did not stir; but his livid countenance betrayed the fierce suffering he endured. To take from him his three thousand francs, the price of the meanest and most execrable crime; the three thousand francs for the sake of which he had risked the scaffold,--this was like tearing his entrails from him. Like an enraged brute who sees that the enemy is all-powerful, he gathered all his strength, and, with a furious look, glanced around the room to see if he could escape anywhere, asking himself, perhaps, upon which of the men he ought to throw himself for the purpose. “Must I order force to be used?” Convinced of the uselessness of resistance, and of the folly of any attempt at escape, the wretch hung his head. “Let them give me a knife or a pair of scissors.” They were careful not to do so. A genuine convulsion of rage seized the assassin, when a little paper parcel appeared, folded up, and compressed to the smallest possible size. “No one has a right to take it from me. 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.

Are you going to lie again? “Ah, sir!” he exclaimed, “I used to live in University Street, Paris.” A slight blush passed over the lawyer’s face, a sign of unequivocal satisfaction in him. He uttered half loud, as if replying to certain objections in his own mind,-- “Everything is becoming clear.” And yet, to the great surprise of his listeners, he abandoned this point; and, returning to the prisoner, he asked him,-- “So you acknowledge having received money for the murder of Lieut. They are my savings.” The lawyer shrugged his shoulders; and, looking very sternly at Crochard, he said,-- “I have before compelled you to make a certain confession. I mean to do so again and again. You will gain nothing, believe me, by struggling against justice; and you cannot save the wretches who tempted you to commit this crime. There is only one way left to you, if you wish for mercy; and that is frankness. Do not forget that!” The assassin was, perhaps, better able to appreciate the importance of such advice than anybody else there present.

He was heard to mutter,-- “I do not denounce anybody. I am not a tell- tale.” Then, all of a sudden, making up his mind, and showing himself just the man the magistrate had expected to find, he said with a cynic laugh,-- “Upon my word, so much the worse for them! Well, then, the man who hired me to ‘do the lieutenant’s business’ is a certain Justin Chevassat.” The most intense disappointment seized both Daniel and the surgeon. “Don’t you deceive me, Crochard?” asked the lawyer, who alone had been able to conceal all he felt. The lawyer thought he did; for, turning to Daniel, he asked,-- “Do you know anybody by the name of Chevassat, M.

It is the first time in my life I hear that name.” “Perhaps that Chevassat was only an agent,” suggested the doctor. “Yes, that may be,” replied the lawyer; “although, in such matters, people generally do their own work.” And, continuing his examination, he asked the accused,-- “Who is this Justin Chevassat?” “One of my friends.” “A friend richer than yourself, I should think?” “As to that--why, yes; since he has always plenty of money in his pockets, dresses in the last fashion, and drives his carriage.” “What is he doing? as to that, I know nothing about it. I never asked him, and he never told me. I once said to him, ‘Do you know you look like a prodigiously lucky fellow?’ And he replied, ‘Oh, not as much so as you think;’ but that is all.” “Where does he live?” “In Paris, Rue Louis, 39.” “Do you write to him there? For I dare say you have written to him since you have been in Saigon.” “I send my letters to M.

88.” It became evident now, that, so far from endeavoring to save his accomplices, Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, would do all he could to aid justice in discovering them. He began to show the system which the wretch was about to adopt,--to throw all the responsibility and all the odium of the crime on the man who had hired him, and to appear the poor devil, succumbing to destitution when he was tempted and dazzled by such magnificent promises, that he had not the strength to resist.

At all events, he had money to handle; and it stuck to his fingers.” “I am surprised, as you are so well informed with regard to this man’s antecedents, that you should know nothing of his present means of existence.” “He has money, plenty of money; that is all I know.” “Have you lost sight of him?” “Why, yes. Never would a stranger who should have suddenly come into Daniel’s chamber, upon seeing Crochard’s attitude, have imagined that the wretch was accused of a capital crime, and was standing there before a magistrate, in presence of the man whom he had tried three times to assassinate. Quite at home in the law, as far as it was studied at the galleys, he had instantly recognized that his situation was by no means so desperate as he had at first supposed; that, if the jury rendered a verdict of guilty of death, it would be against the instigator of the crime, and that he would probably get off with a few years’ penal servitude. Now there appeared, under the odious personage of the murderer, the pretentious and ridiculous orator of the streets and prisons, who is accustomed to make himself heard, and displays his eloquence with great pride. He assumed a studied position; and it was evident that he was preparing himself for his speech, although, afterwards, a good many words escaped him which are found in no dictionary, but belong to the jargon of the lowest classes, and serve to express the vilest sentiments. “I had crossed several streets, when a carriage stopped close to me; and I saw a very fine gentleman step out, a cigar in his mouth, a gold chain across his waistcoat, and a flower in his buttonhole. “At once I said to myself, ‘Curious!

I have seen that head somewhere.’ “Thereupon, I go to work, and remain fixed to the front of the shop, a little at the side, though, you know, at a place where, without being seen myself, I could very well watch my individual, who laughed and talked, showing his white teeth, while a pretty girl was trying on a pair of gloves. The more I looked at him, the more I thought, ‘Positively, Bagnolet, although that sweet soul don’t look as if he were a member of your society, you know him.’ “However, as I could not put a name to that figure, I was going on my way, when suddenly my memory came back to me, and I said, ‘Cretonne, it is an old comrade. Fifteen years make a difference in a man, especially when he does not particularly care to be recognized. But I had a little way of my own to make the thing sure. “I waited, therefore, for my man; and, at the moment when he crossed the sidewalk to get into his carriage, I stepped up, and cried out, though not very loud, ‘Eh, Chevassat!’ “The scamp! They might have fired a cannon at his ear, and he would not have jumped as he did when I spoke to him. Do you want to speak to me?’ “Thereupon, quite sure of my business now, I say, ‘Yes, to you, Justin Chevassat. Do you recollect now?’ However, the gentleman continued to hold his head high, and to look at me.

At last he says, ‘If you do not clear out, I will call a policeman.’ Well, the mustard got into my nose, and I began to cry, to annoy him, so as to collect a crowd,-- “‘What, what! What have I to risk? Nothing at all; for I have nothing.’ “I must tell you, that, while I said all this, I looked at him fixedly with the air of a man who has nothing in his stomach, and who is bent upon putting something into it.

He also looked at me fixedly; and, if his eyes had been pistols--but they were not. “‘Make no noise,’ he whispered, looking with a frightened air at all the idlers who commenced to crowd around us. And pretending to laugh very merrily,--for the benefit of the spectators, you know,--he said, speaking very low and very rapidly,-- “‘In the costume that you have on, I cannot ask you to get into my carriage; that would only compromise us both uselessly. You can follow quietly; and, when we get into a quiet street, we will take a cab, and talk.’ “As I was sure I could catch him again, if he should try to escape, I approved the idea. He thought it of great importance that Crochard’s evidence should be written down, word for word; and he saw, that, for some little while, the clerk had been unable to follow. And when the clerk had filled up what was wanting, and the magistrate had looked it over, he said to the prisoner,-- “Now you can go on, but speak more slowly.” The wretch smiled, well pleased. This permission gave him more time to select his words, and this flattered his vanity; for even the lowest of these criminals have their weak point, in which their vanity is engaged. “Chevassat said a few words to his coachman, who whipped the horse, and there he was, promenading down the boulevard, turning his cane this way, puffing out big clouds of smoke, as if he had not the colic at the thought that his friend Bagnolet was following on his heels. “I ought to say that he had lots of friends, very genteel friends, who wished him good-evening as they passed him.

There were some even who stopped him, shook hands with him, and offered to treat him; but he left them all promptly, saying, ‘Excuse me, pray, I am in a hurry.’ “Why, yes, he was in a hurry; and I who was behind him, and saw and heard it all, I laughed in my sleeve most heartily.” Whatever advantage there may be in not interrupting a great talker, who warms up as he talks, and consequently forgets himself, the magistrate became impatient. “Spare us your impressions,” he said peremptorily. He looked hurt, and went on angrily,-- “In fine, my individual goes down the boulevard as far as the opera, turns to the right, crosses the open square, and goes down the first street to the left. Here a cab passes; he hails it; orders the driver to take us to Vincennes. We get in; and his first care is to let down the curtains. Then reflecting, I thought, ‘It is not natural for him to be so soft. Keep your eyes open, Bagnolet.’ “‘Then you are not angry that I spoke to you; eh?’ He laughs, and says, ‘No.’ “Then I, ‘However, you hadn’t exactly a wedding-air when I spoke to you, and I thought you were looking for a way to get rid of me unceremoniously.’ But he said very seriously, ‘Look here, I am going to talk to you quite openly! You are not the first who has recognized me, and I am prepared to save myself all annoyance.

If I wanted to get rid of you, this very evening you would have lost all trace of me, thanks to a little contrivance I have arranged. Besides, as you are in Paris without leave, before twenty-four hours are over, you would be in jail.’ He told me all this so calmly, that I felt it was so, and that the scamp had some special trick. “‘Then,’ I said, ‘you rather like meeting an old friend, eh?’ “He looked me straight in the face and replied, ‘Yes; and the proof of it is, that if you were not here, sitting at my side, and if I had known where to find you, I should have gone in search of you. I have something to do for you.’” Henceforth Bagnolet had reason to be satisfied. Although the magistrate preserved his impassive appearance, Daniel and the chief surgeon listened with breathless attention, feeling that the prisoner had come to the really important part of his confession, from which, no doubt, much light would be obtained. “Naturally,” continued Crochard, “when he talked of something to do, I opened my ears wide. But I have not put anything aside; and if an accident should happen to me, which I have reason to fear, I would be destitute.’ “I should have liked very much to know more; but he would not tell me anything else concerning himself; and I had to give him my whole history since my release.

I told him how nothing I had undertaken had ever succeeded; that, finally, I had been a waiter in a drinking-shop; that they had turned me out; and that for a month now I had been walking the streets, having not a cent, no clothes, no lodgings, and no bed but the quarries. “‘Since that is so,’ he said, ‘you shall see what a comrade is.’ I ought to say that the cab had been going all the time we were talking, and that we were out in the suburbs now. My Chevassat raised the blind to look out; and, as soon as he saw a clothing store, he ordered the driver to stop there. The driver did so; and then Chevassat said to me, ‘Come, old man, we’ll begin by dressing you up decently.’ So we get out; and upon my word, he buys me a shirt, trousers, a coat, and everything else that was needful; he pays for a silk hat, and a pair of varnished boots. Finally, he has spent his five hundred francs, and gives me eighty francs to boot, to play the gentleman. “You need not ask if I thanked him, when we got back into the cab. I would have jumped into the fire for Chevassat. I would not have been so delighted, if I had known what I should have to pay for all this; for in the first place”-- “Oh, go on!” broke in the lawyer; “go on!” Not without some disappointment, Crochard had to acknowledge that everything purely personal did not seem to excite the deepest interest. A little before we got into the town, Chevassat stopped the cab, paid the driver, sends him back, and, taking me by the arm, says, ‘You must be hungry: let us dine.’ “So we first absorb a glass of absinthe; then he carries me straight to the best restaurant, asks for a private room, and orders a dinner. Merely to hear it ordered from the bill of fare made my mouth water.

And I talked, and I ate, and I drank; I drank, perhaps, most; for I had not had anything to drink for a long time; and, finally, I was rather excited. Chevassat seemed to have unbuttoned, and told me lots of funny things which set me a-laughing heartily. I want a good stout fellow; and I thought you might be the man.’ “Upon my word, he told me that in such a peculiar way, that I felt as if somebody had kicked me in the stomach; and I began to be afraid of him. What’s the row?’ “At once he replies, ‘As I told you before, I have not laid up a cent.

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

“Then, all at once, he became as jolly again as before; and, whilst he kept pouring the brandy into my glass, he explained to me that I would be a fool to hesitate; that I could never in all my life find such a chance again of making a fortune; that I would most certainly succeed; and that then I would have an income, keep a carriage as he did, wear fine clothes, and have every day a dinner like the one we had just been enjoying together. This lot of gold which he held up before my mind’s eyes dazzled me; and the strong drink I had been taking incessantly got into my head. I got up; and, striking the table with my fist, I cried out, ‘I am your man!’” Although, probably, the whole scene never took place, except in the prisoner’s imagination, Daniel could not help trembling under his cover, at the thought of these two wretches arranging for his death, while they were there, half drunk, glass in hand, and their elbows resting on a table covered with wine-stains.

Lefloch, on his part, stood grasping the bedstead so hard with his hand, that the wood cracked. The lawyer and the doctor thought of nothing but of watching the contortions of the accused. He had drawn a handkerchief from his pocket, and rubbed his eyes hard, as if he hoped thus to bring forth a few tears. “No scene!” Crochard sighed deeply, and then continued in a tearful tone,-- “They might cut me to pieces, and I would not be able to say what happened after that. From what Chevassat afterwards told me, I had to be carried to the carriage; and he took me to a hotel in the suburb, where he hired a lodging for me. When I woke the next day, a little before noon, my head was as heavy as lead; and I tried to recall what had happened at the restaurant, and if it was not perhaps merely the bad wine that had given me the nightmare.

Chevassat wrote me to come to his house, and to breakfast with him for the purpose of talking business. Justin Chevassat lives in the house; and he directs me to go to the second floor, on the right hand. On the way I had made up my mind to tell him positively that he need not count upon me; that the thing was a horror to me; and that I retracted all I had said. But, as soon as I began, he became perfectly furious, calling me a coward and a traitor, and telling me that I had no choice but to make my fortune, or to receive a blow with the big knife between my shoulders. Chevassat frightened me; the gold intoxicated me. To have to confess everything on the spot, without a moment’s respite to combine a plan of apology, was a hard task. Now, the wretch had stood this delicate and dangerous trial pretty well, and thought he had managed cleverly enough to prepare for the day of his trial a number of extenuating circumstances.

But the magistrate hardly gave him time to breathe. I, for my part, said yes to everything he proposed. We agreed, therefore, that he would pay me four thousand francs in advance, and that, after the accident, he would give me six thousand certain, and a portion of the sum which he would secure.” “Thus you undertook, for ten thousand francs, to murder a man?” “I thought”-- “That sum is very far from those fabulous amounts by which you said you had been blinded and carried away.” “Pardon me! I would have--but no; he knows me; he would never have dared”-- The magistrate had caught the prisoner’s eye, and, fixing him sternly, he said good-naturedly,-- “Why did you tell me, then, that that man magnetized you, and frightened you out of your wits?” The wretch had gone into the snare, and, instead of answering, hung his head, and tried to sob.

“Repentance is all very well,” said the lawyer, who did not seem to be in the least touched; “but just now it would be better for you to explain how your trip to Cochin China was arranged. Come, collect yourself, and give us the details.” “As to that,” he resumed his account, “you see Chevassat explained to me everything at breakfast; and the very same day he gave me the address which you found on the paper in which the bank-notes were wrapped up.” “What did he give you M. “‘Besides,’ he said to me, ‘listen to my plan. The navy department wants mechanics to go to Saigon. They will accept you, and even pay your journey to Rochefort: a boat will carry you out to the roadstead on board the frigate “Conquest.” Do you know whom you will find on board? that if any accident should happen to him, either during the voyage, or at Saigon, that accident will pass unnoticed, as a letter passes through the post-office.’ “Yes, that’s what he told me, every word of it; and I think I hear him now. And I--I was so completely bewildered, that I had nothing to say in return. However, there was one thing which troubled me; and I thought, ‘Well, after all, they won’t accept me at the navy department, with my antecedents.’ “But, when I mentioned the difficulty to Chevassat, he laughed.

Well, as you will exhibit your papers in excellent order, they will take you.’ “I opened my eyes wide, and said, ‘That’s all very pretty, what you say; but the mischief is, that, as I have not worked at my profession for more than fifteen years, I have no papers at all.’ He shrugs his shoulders, and says, ‘You shall have your papers.’ That worries me; and I reply, ‘If I have to steal somebody’s papers, and change my name, I won’t do it.’ But the brigand had his notions. ‘You shall keep your name,’ he said, touching me on the shoulder. ‘You shall always remain Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet; and you shall have your papers as engraver on metal as perfect as anybody can have them.’ “And, to be sure, the second day after that he gave me a set of papers, signatures, seals, all in perfect order.” “The papers found in your room, you mean?” asked the lawyer.

If he takes it into his head to imitate your own handwriting, you would never suspect it.” Daniel and the old surgeon exchanged glances. This was a strong and very important point in connection with the forged letter that had been sent to the navy department, and claimed to be signed by Daniel himself. I had only to show them, and they accepted me. I began to hope he would not go out on the expedition at all.

“Now, Crochard,” said the lawyer, “I cannot impress it too strongly on your mind, how important it is for your own interests that you should tell the truth. By everybody?” “Well, I mean his concierge, his servants.” The magistrate seemed for a moment to consider how he should frame his next question; and then he asked, all of a sudden,-- “Suppose that the--accident, as you call it, had succeeded, you would have taken ship; you would have arrived in France; you reach Paris; how would you have found Chevassat to claim your six thousand francs?” “I should have gone to his house, where I breakfasted with him; and, if he had left, the concierge would have told me where he lived now.” “Then you really think you saw him at his own rooms? Why did he urge me never to write to him otherwise than ‘to be called for’?” The magistrate had turned to his clerk. “Go down,” he said, “and see if any of the merchants in town have a Paris Directory.” The clerk went off like an arrow, and appeared promptly back again with the volume in question.

The magistrate hastened to look up the address given by the prisoner, and found it entered thus: “Langlois, sumptuous apartments for families and single persons. Superior attendance.” “I was almost sure of it,” he said to himself. Champcey?” Too full of the lawyer’s shrewd surmises to express any surprise, Daniel looked at the words, and said coolly,-- “That is Maxime de Brevan’s handwriting.” A rush of blood colored instantly the pale face of Crochard. He was furious at the idea of having been duped by his accomplice, by the instigator of the crime he had committed, and for which he would probably never have received the promised reward. He had foreseen this wrath on the part of the prisoner; he had prepared it carefully, and caused it to break out fully; for he knew it would bring him full light on the whole subject. “To cheat me, me!” Crochard went on with extraordinary vehemence,--“to cheat a friend, an old comrade! But he sha’n’t go to paradise, if I can help it! Let them cut my throat, I don’t mind it; I shall be quite content even, provided I see his throat cut first.” “He has not even been arrested yet.” “But nothing is easier than to catch him, sir.

He must be uneasy at not hearing from me; and I am sure he is going every day to the post-office to inquire if there are no letters yet for M. I can write to him. Do you want me to write to him? I am sure, after that, the scamp will keep quiet; and the police will have nothing to do but to take the omnibus, and arrest him at his lodgings.” The magistrate had allowed the prisoner to give free vent to his fury, knowing full well by experience how intensely criminals hate those of their accomplices by whom they find themselves betrayed. When he saw he was not likely to gain much, he said,-- “Justice cannot stoop to such expedients.” Then he added, seeing how disappointed Crochard looked,-- “You had better try and recollect all you can. Have you forgotten or concealed nothing that might assist us in carrying out this examination?” “No; I think I have told you every thing.” “You cannot furnish any additional evidence of the complicity of Justin Chevassat, of his efforts to tempt you to commit this crime, or of the forgery he committed in getting up a false set of papers for you?” “No! But, strong as he is, if we could be confronted in court, I’d undertake, just by looking at him, to get the truth out of him somehow.” “You shall be confronted, I promise you.” The prisoner seemed to be amazed. “Are you going to send for Chevassat?” he asked.

You will be sent home, to be tried there.” A flash of joy shone in the eyes of the wretch. He knew the voyage would not be a pleasant one; but the prospect of being tried in France was as good as an escape from capital punishment to his mind. When he had done, he said,-- “Now give me as accurate a description of Justin Chevassat as you can.” Crochard passed his hand repeatedly over his forehead; and then, his eyes staring at empty space, and his neck stretched out, as if he saw a phantom which he had suddenly called up, he said,-- “Chevassat is a man of my age; but he does not look more than twenty seven or eight. You have no doubt seen me look at it often.” “Yes, lieutenant; and I know where it is.” And he immediately opened one of the trunks that were piled up in a corner of the room, and took from it a photograph album, which, upon a sign from Daniel, he handed to the lawyer. “Will you please,” said Daniel at the same time, “ask the prisoner, if, among the sixty or seventy portraits in that book, he knows any one?” The album was handed to Crochard, surnamed Bagnolet, who turned over leaf after leaf, till all of a sudden, and almost beside himself, he cried out,-- “Here he is, Justin Chevassat! that’s he, no doubt about it.” Daniel could, from his bed, see the photograph, and said,-- “That is Maxime’s portrait.” After this decisive evidence, there could be no longer any doubt that Justin Chevassat and Maxime de Brevan were one and the same person. The investigation was complete, as far as it could be carried on in Saigon; the remaining evidence had to be collected in Paris. The magistrate directed, therefore, the clerk to read the deposition; and Crochard followed it without making a single objection.

But when he had signed it, and the gendarmes were about to carry him off again, and to put on the handcuffs, he asked leave to make an addition. The magistrate assented; and Crochard said,-- “I do not want to excuse myself, nor to make myself out innocent; but I do not like, on the other hand, to seem worse than I am.” He had assumed a very decided position, and evidently aimed at giving to his words an expression of coarse but perfect frankness. “The thing which I had undertaken to do, it was not in my power to do. It has never entered my head to kill a man treacherously. If I had been a brute, such as these are, the lieutenant would not be there, wounded to be sure, but alive. I tried in vain to think of Chevassat’s big promises; at the last moment, my heart always failed me. The thing was too much for me.

I can swim as well as anybody, to be sure; but in a river like the Dong-Nai, at night, and with a current like that, no swimmer can hold his own. I could not get on land again until I had been carried down two miles or more; and, when I did get on shore, I sank in the mud up to my hips. Now, I humbly beg the lieutenant’s pardon; and you shall see if I am going to let Chevassat escape.” Thereupon he held out his hands for the handcuffs, with a theatrical gesture, and left the room.

The surgeon and the lawyer withdrew, to let him have some rest. “And I myself handed her over to him!” he repeated for the thousandth time,--“I, her only friend upon earth! And her confidence in me was so great, that, if she had any presentiment, she suppressed it for my sake.” Daniel had, to be sure, a certain assurance now, that Maxime de Brevan would not be able to escape from justice. But what did it profit him to be avenged, when it was too late, long after Henrietta should have been forced to seek in suicide the only refuge from Brevan’s persecution? Now it seemed to him as if the magistrate was far more anxiously concerned for the punishment of the guilty than for the safety of the victims. Blinded by passion, so as to ask for impossibilities, Daniel would have had this lawyer, who was so clever in unearthing crimes committed in Saigon, find means rather to prevent the atrocious crime which was now going on in France. At the first glimpse of reason that had appeared after his terrible sufferings, he had hastened to write to Henrietta, begging her to take courage, and promising her that he would soon be near her. He twisted and turned restlessly from side to side, and felt as if he were once more going to lose his senses. A fortnight after Crochard’s confession, Daniel could get up; he spent the afternoon in an arm-chair, and was even able to take a few steps in his chamber. The next week he was able to get down into the garden of the hospital, and to walk about there, leaning on the arm of his faithful Lefloch.

And with his strength and his health, hope, also, began to come back; when, all of a sudden, two letters from Henrietta rekindled the fever. In one the poor girl told him how she had lived so far on the money obtained from the sale of the little jewelry she had taken with her, but added that she was shamefully cheated, and would soon be compelled to seek employment of some sort in order to support herself. “I am quite sure,” she said, with a kind of heartrending cheerfulness, “that I can earn my forty cents a day; and with that, my friend, I shall be as happy as a queen, and wait for your return, free from want.” In the other she wrote,-- “None of my efforts to procure work has so far succeeded. I shall struggle on to the last extremity, were it only not to give my enemies the joy of seeing me dead. But, Daniel, if you wish to see your Henrietta again, come back; oh, come back!” Daniel had not suffered half as much the day when the assassin’s ball ploughed through his chest.

Farewell!” He sent for the chief surgeon, and said, as soon as he entered,-- “I must go!” The good doctor frowned, and replied rudely,-- “Are you mad?

Read this, and you will see yourself that I cannot do otherwise.” The chief surgeon took in Henrietta’s last letter almost at a single glance; but he held it in his hand for some time, pretending to read it, but in reality meditating. But would this imprudence be of any use to him? Therefore it is my duty to keep him here: and that can be done, since he is as yet unable to go out alone; and Lefloch will obey me, I am sure, when I tell him that his master’s life depends upon his obedience.” Too wise to meet so decided a determination as Daniel’s was by a flat refusal, he said,-- “Very well, then; be it as you choose!” Only he came in again the same evening, and, with an air of disappointment, said to Daniel,-- “To go is all very well; but there is one difficulty in the way, of which neither you nor I have thought.” “And what is that?” “There is no vessel going home.” “Really, doctor?” “Ah! my dear friend,” replied the excellent man boldly, “do you think I could deceive you?” Evidently Daniel thought him quite capable of doing so; but he took good care not to show his suspicions, reserving to himself the right of making direct inquiries as soon as the opportunity should offer. Two friends of his called to see him. He sent Lefloch out of the room on some pretext, and then begged them to go down to the port, and to engage a passage for him,--no, not for him, but for his man, whom urgent business recalled to France. They stayed away three hours; and, when they came back, their answer was the same as the doctor’s. They declared they had made inquiries on all sides; but they were quite sure that there was not a single vessel in Saigon ready to sail for home.

Ten other persons whom Daniel asked to do the same thing brought him the same answer. But the concierge of the hospital, and Lefloch, were so well drilled, that no visitor reached Daniel before having learned his lesson thoroughly.

Thus they succeeded in keeping Daniel quiet for a fortnight; but, at the end of that time, he declared that he felt quite well enough to look out for a ship himself; and that, if he could do no better, he meant to sail for Singapore, where he would be sure to procure a passage home. It would, of course, have been simple folly to try and keep a man back who was so much bent upon his purpose; and, as his first visit to the port would have revealed to him the true state of things, the old surgeon preferred to make a clean breast of it. “That was not right, doctor, to treat me thus,” he exclaimed. If I had let you set sail in the condition in which you were, I should have virtually sent you to your grave, and thus have deprived your betrothed, Miss Ville-Handry, of her last and only chance of salvation.” Daniel shook his head sadly, and said,-- “But if I get there too late, too late; by a week, a day, do you think, doctor, I shall not curse your prudence? On Sunday, in five days; and that ship is ‘The Saint Louis’ a famous clipper, and so good a sailor, that you will easily overtake the two big three-masters that have sailed before you.” Offering his hand to Daniel, he added,-- “Come, my dear Champcey; don’t blame an old friend who has done what he thought was his duty to do.” Daniel was too painfully affected to pay much attention to the conclusive and sensible reasons alleged by the chief surgeon; he saw nothing but that his friends had taken advantage of his condition to keep him in the dark. Still he also felt that it would have been black ingratitude and stupid obstinacy to preserve in his heart a shadow of resentment. He therefore, took the hand that was offered him, and, pressing it warmly, replied in a tone of deep emotion,-- “Whatever the future may have in store for me, doctor, I shall never forget that I owe my life to your devotion.” As usually, when he felt that excitement was overcoming him,--a very rare event, to tell the truth,--the old surgeon fell back into his rough and abrupt manner. And now you will be good enough to dismiss all those dismal ideas, and remember that you have only five days longer to tremble with impatience in this abominable country.” He spoke easily enough of it,--five days!

In three hours he had made all his preparations for his departure, arranged his business matters, and obtained a furlough for Lefloch, who was to go with him. At noon, therefore, he asked himself with terror, how he was to employ his time till night, when they came, and asked if he would please come over to the courthouse, to see the magistrate.

The last mail had brought him the news of his appointment to a judgeship, which he had long anxiously desired, and which would enable him to return, not only to France, but to his native province. He meant to sail in a frigate which was to leave towards the end of the month, and in which Crochard, also, was to be sent home. “In this way,” he said, “I shall arrive at the same time as the accused, and very soon after the papers, which were sent home last week; and I trust and hope I shall be allowed to conduct the trial of an affair, which, so far, has gone smoothly enough in my hands.” His impassive air was gone; and that official mask was laid aside, which might have been looked upon as much a part of his official costume as the black gown which was lying upon one of his trunks. It will be no child’s play, I am sure, to prove that he was the instigator of Crochard’s crimes, and that he has hired him with his own money. “He, too,” he thought. He thinks only of the honor he will reap for having handed over to the jury such a formidable rascal as”-- But the lawyer had not sent for Daniel to speak to him of his plans and his hopes. Champcey was on the point of sailing, he wished to tell him that he would receive a very important packet, which he was desired to hand to the court as soon as he reached Paris. “This is, you understand,” he concluded, “an additional precaution which we take to prevent Maxime de Brevan from escaping us.” It was five o’clock when Daniel left the court-house; and on the little square before it he found the old surgeon, waiting to carry him off to dinner, and a game of whist in the evening.

So, when he undressed at night, he said to himself,-- “After all, the day has not been so very long!” But to-morrow, and the day after to-morrow, and the next days! He tried in vain to get rid of the fixed idea which filled his mind,--a mechanical instinct, so to say, which was stronger than his will, and drove him incessantly to the wharf where “The Saint Louis” was lying. Never had the Annamites and the Chinamen, who in Saigon act as stevedores, appeared to him so lazy, so intolerable. Sometimes he felt as if, seeing or guessing his impatience, they were trying to irritate him by moving the bales with the utmost slowness, and walking with unbearable laziness around with the windlass. Then, when he could no longer bear the sight, he went to the cafe on the wharf, where the captain of “The Saint Louis” was generally to be found. “You will never be ready by Sunday.” To which the captain invariably replied in his fierce Marseilles accent,-- “Don’t be afraid, lieutenant. ‘The Saint Louis,’ I tell you, beats the Indian mail in punctuality.” And really, on Saturday, when he saw his passenger come as usual to the cafe, the captain exclaimed,-- “Well, what did I tell you? At five o’clock I get my mail at the post-office; and to-morrow morning we are off. I was just going to send you word that you had better sleep on board.” That evening the officers of “The Conquest,” gave Daniel a farewell dinner; and it was nearly midnight, when, after having once more shaken hands most cordially with the old chief surgeon, he took possession of his state-room, one of the largest on board ship, in which they had put up two berths, so that, in case of need, Lefloch might be at hand to attend his master.

Then at last, towards four o’clock in the morning, Daniel was aroused by the clanking of chains, accompanied by the singing of the sailors. They were getting up anchors; and, an hour after that, “The Saint Louis” went down the Dong-Nai, aided by a current, rushing along “like lightning.” “And now,” said Daniel to Lefloch, “I shall judge, by the time it will take us to get home, if fortune is on my side.” Yes, fate, at last, declared for him. He trembled as he thought of all the formalities which have to be observed when a ship arrives. And who could tell how long it would take them to go to the rescue of that boat? “We have to do it.” “I wish they were in paradise!” swore the captain. Nevertheless, he ordered all that was necessary to slacken speed, and then to tack so as to come close upon the little boat. It was a difficult and tedious manoeuvre; but at last, after half an hour’s work, they could throw a rope into the boat. There were two men in it, who hastened to come on the deck of the clipper. But, whilst they were hoisting themselves up by the man-rope; the captain of “The Saint Louis” had had time to examine their boat, and to ascertain that it was in good condition, and every thing in it in perfect order.

Crimson with wrath, he now seized the young sailor by his collar; and, shaking him so roughly as nearly to disjoint his neck, he said with a formidable oath,-- “Are you making fun of me? I am the only one to blame!” The captain, in a great rage, pushed him back, and, looking at him savagely, said,-- “Ah! “What do you desire?” But, instead of replying, the “gentleman” raised his hands to heaven in a perfect ecstasy of joy, and said in an undertone,-- “We triumph at last!” Then, turning to Daniel and the captain, he said,-- “But come, gentlemen, come! I must explain my conduct; and we must be alone for what I have to tell you.” Pale, and with every sign of seasickness in his face, when he had first appeared on deck, the man now seemed to have recovered, and, in spite of the rolling of the vessel, followed the captain and Daniel with a firm step to the quarter-deck. Champcey; see if it is sufficient.” Utterly amazed, the young officer read,-- “I am saved, Daniel; and I owe my life to the man who will hand you this. I shall owe to him the pleasure of seeing you again.

Confide in him as you would in your best and most devoted friend; and, I beseech you, do not hesitate to follow his advice literally. “Henrietta.” Daniel turned deadly pale, and tottered.

Champcey.” A strange smile played on the man’s lips; and, shaking his head, he said, “I shall before long remind you of your promise, lieutenant.” Standing between the two men, the captain of “The Saint Louis” was looking alternately at the one and the other with an astonished air, listening without comprehending, and imagining marvellous things. The only point he understood was this, that his presence was, to say the least, not useful. “If that is so,” he said to Daniel, “we cannot blame this gentleman for the ugly trick he has played us.” “Blame him? I believe I have treated the sailor who brought him on board a little roughly; but I am going to order him a glass of brandy, which will set him right again.” Thereupon the captain discreetly withdrew; while Papa Ravinet continued,-- “You will tell me, M. Champcey, that it would have been simpler to wait for you in port, and hand you my letter of introduction there. As soon, therefore, as ‘The Saint Louis’ was telegraphed in town, you may be sure a spy was sent to the wharf, who is going to follow you, never losing sight of you, and who will report all your goings and your doings.” “What does it matter?” “Ah! If our enemies hear of our meeting, you see, if they only find out that we have conversed together, all is lost.

I tell you for five years I have lived only on the hope of being able to avenge myself on them. No, not even--What would it be to them, besides? They have pushed me so far down into the mud, that they cannot imagine my ever rising again up to their level.

I, the wretched man, who have been compelled to hide, and to live on my daily labor,--I have attained my end. Every thing is ready; and I have only to touch the proud fabric of their crimes to make it come down upon them, and crush them all under the ruins. if I could see them only suffer one-fourth of what they have made me suffer, I should die content.” Papa Ravinet seemed to have grown a foot; his hatred convulsed his placid face; his voice trembled with rage; and his yellow eyes shone with ill-subdued passion. Daniel wondered, and asked himself what the people who had sworn to ruin him and Henrietta could have done to this man, who looked so inoffensive with his bright-flowered waistcoat and his coat with the high collar. “But we are getting near,” exclaimed Papa Ravinet; “and I must get back into my boat. We shall have time enough to come to an understanding about what is to be done in Paris; and I must go back by rail to-night; I came down for the sole purpose of telling you this. Miss Henrietta is at my sister’s house; but you must take care not to come there. Neither Sarah nor Brevan know what has become of her; they think she has thrown herself into the river; and this conviction is our safety and our strength. Instead of going to your former lodgings, go to the Hotel du Louvre.

I will see to it that my sister and Miss Ville-Handry shall have taken rooms there before you reach Paris; and you may be sure, that, in less than a quarter of an hour after your arrival, you will hear news. I must make haste.” Upon Daniel’s request, the ship lay by long enough to allow Papa Ravinet and his sailor to get back again into their boat without danger. When they were safely stowed away in it, and at the moment when they cast off the man-rope, Papa Ravinet called to Daniel,-- “We shall soon see you! Tonight Miss Henrietta shall have a telegram from us.” XXVIII. Bertolle, the widow; and Henrietta, the daughter of Count Ville-Handry. He had peremptorily asked his sister for two thousand francs; had made Henrietta write in all haste a letter of introduction to Daniel; and had rushed out again like a tempest, as he had come in, without saying more than this,-- “M. Champcey will arrive, or perhaps has already arrived, in Marseilles, on board a merchant vessel, ‘The Saint Louis.’ I have been told so at the navy department.

To-morrow, I’ll send you a telegram.” The two ladies asked for something more, a hope, a word; but no, nothing more! The old dealer had jumped into the carriage that had brought him, before they had recovered from their surprise; and they remained there, sitting before the fire, silent, their heads in their hands, each lost in conjectures. “Come, come, Miss Henrietta,” she said with somewhat forced gayety, “my brother’s departure does not condemn us, as far as I know, to starve ourselves to death.” She had gotten up as she said this. She set the table, and then sat down opposite to Henrietta, to their modest dinner. Modest it was, indeed, and still too abundant. They were both too much overcome to be able to eat; and yet both handled knife and fork, trying to deceive one another.

Their thoughts were far away, in spite of all their efforts to keep them at home, and followed the traveller. But neither of them knew anything of the journey from Paris to Marseilles. And, quite proud of her happy thought, she went out instantly, hurried to the nearest bookstore, and soon reappeared, flourishing triumphantly a yellow pamphlet, and saying,-- “Now we shall see it all, my dear child.” Then, placing the guide on the tablecloth between them, they looked for the page containing the railway from Paris to Lyons and Marseilles, then the train which Papa Ravinet was to have taken; and they delighted in counting up how swiftly the “express” went, and all the stations where it stopped.

Then, when the table was cleared, instead of going industriously to work, as usually, they kept constantly looking at the clock, and, after consulting the book, said to each other,-- “He is at Montereau now; he must be beyond Sens; he will soon be at Tonnerre.” A childish satisfaction, no doubt, and very idle. Towards midnight, however, the old lady remarked that it was getting late, and that it would be wise to go to bed. The poor women, reduced as they were to conjectures by Papa Ravinet’s laconic answers, nevertheless knew full well that some great event was in preparation, something unexpected, and yet decisive. What it was, they did not know; but they understood, or rather felt, that Daniel’s return would and must totally change the aspect of affairs. Ravinet is at the Lyons station now.” Then her hand became less and less active in drawing the worsted, her head oscillated from side to side, and her eyelids closed unconsciously. Her old friend advised her to retire; and this time she did not refuse. It was past ten o’clock when she awoke; and upon entering, fully dressed, into the sitting-room, Mrs. Bertolle greeted her with the exclamation:-- “At this moment my brother reaches Marseilles!” “Ah! At two o’clock nothing had come; and the poor women began to accuse the old dealer of having forgotten them, when, at last, the bell was rung.

Will be in to-night. I hire boat to go and meet her, provided Champcey is on board.

Bertolle, also, was a little disappointed; but she was not the person to let it be seen. It is only a matter of a few hours.” She said this very quietly; but all who have ever undergone the anguish of expectation will know how it becomes more and more intolerable as the moment approaches that is to bring the decision. However the old lady endeavored to control her excitement, the calm and dignified woman could not long conceal the nervous fever that was raging within her. Ten times during the afternoon she opened the window, to look for--what? She could not have told it herself, as she well knew nothing could come as yet. She tried in vain to work on her embroidery; her fingers refused their service. All well; devoted to Henrietta. Will be in Paris tomorrow evening at seven o’clock. Prepare your trunks as if you were to start on a month’s journey immediately after my return. Pale as death, and trembling like a leaf, but with open lips and bright eyes, Henrietta had sunk into a chair.

Up to this moment she had doubted every thing. Up to this hour, until she held the proof in her hand, she had not allowed herself to hope. Such great happiness does not seem to the unhappy to be intended for them.

Nothing more to fear; the future is ours. I am safe now.” But people do not die of joy; and, when she had recovered her equanimity, Henrietta understood how cruel she had been in the incoherent phrases that had escaped her in her excitement. Bertolle’s hands, said to her,-- “Great God! I owe it to you and your brother, if I am safe. She had picked up the despatch, had read it; and, overcome by its contents, had sat down near the fireplace, utterly insensible to the outside world. The most fearful hatred convulsed her ordinarily calm and gentle features; and pale, with closed teeth, and in a hoarse voice, she said over and over again,-- “We shall be avenged.” Most assuredly Henrietta did not find out only now that the old dealer and his sister hated her enemies, Sarah Brandon and Maxime de Brevan, mortally; but she had never seen that hatred break out so terribly as to-night. As to the Widow Bertolle, she was evidently a woman of superior intellect and education. How had they both been reduced to this more than modest condition? “You saw, my dear child,” she began saying, “that my brother desires us to be ready to set out on a long journey as soon as he comes home.” “Yes, madam; and I am quite astonished.” “I understand; but, although I know no more than you do of my brother’s intentions, I know that he does nothing without a purpose.

Bertolle went out to purchase whatever might be necessary,--ready-made dresses for Henrietta, shoes, and linen. Towards five o’clock in the afternoon, all the preparations of the old lady and the young girl had been made; and all their things were carefully stowed away in three large trunks.

According to Papa Ravinet’s despatch, they had only about two hours more to wait, three hours at the worst. Bertolle. “We hardly expected you any longer to-night.” But he interrupted her, saying,-- “Oh, my dear sister! I am sure she has not the slightest doubt that Miss Ville-Handry has killed herself; and she goes religiously every morning to the Morgue.” Henrietta shuddered. Bertolle. “To the Hotel du Louvre, dear sister, where you will take rooms for Mrs.

and Miss Bertolle. Be calm; my plans are laid.” Thereupon, he ran out on the staircase to call the concierge to help him in taking down the trunks. Although the manoeuvres required by Papa Ravinet’s appearance on board “The Saint Louis” had taken but little time, the delay had been long enough to prevent the ship from going through all the formalities that same evening.

She had, therefore, to drop anchor at some distance from the harbor, to the great disgust of the crew, who saw Marseilles all ablaze before them, and who could count the wineshops, and hear the songs of the half-drunken people as they walked down the wharves in merry bands. The terrible excitement he had undergone had given way to utter prostration. His nerves, strained to the utmost, relaxed; and he felt the delight of a man who can at last throw down a heavy burden which he has long borne on his shoulders. He was only aroused by the noise of the people who came in the quarantine boat; and, when he came on deck, he found that there was nothing any longer to prevent his going on shore. The men had been actively engaged ever since early in the morning, to set things right aloft and below, so as to “dress” “The Saint Louis;” for every ship, when it enters port, is decked out gayly, and carefully conceals all traces of injuries she has suffered, like the carrier-pigeon, which, upon returning to his nest after a storm, dries and smooths his feathers in the sun. when he felt his foot once more standing on the soil of France, whence a vile plot had driven him long ago, his eyes flashed, and a threatening gesture boded ill to his enemies. It looked as if he were saying to them,-- “Here I am, and my vengeance will be terrible!” Neither his joy nor his excitement, however, could make him forget the apprehensions of Papa Ravinet, although he thought they were eccentric, and very much exaggerated. That a spy should be waiting for him in the harbor, concealed in this busy, noisy crowd, to follow his track, and report his minutest actions,--this seemed to him, if not impossible, at least very improbable. Nevertheless, he determined to ascertain the fact. Instead, therefore, of simply following the wharf, of going up Canebiere Street, and turning to the right on his way to the Hotel du Luxembourg, he went through several narrow streets, turning purposely every now and then.

When he reached the hotel, he was compelled to acknowledge that the old dealer had acted wisely. The idea of being tracked put the worthy sailor into a red-hot fury; and he proposed nothing less than to “run foul” of the spy, and make an end of him for good. “I just go up to him, without making him aware of my presence.

He won’t track anybody again.” Daniel had to use all his authority to keep him back, and found it still harder to convince him of the necessity to let the scamp not know that he had been discovered. At night they saw him again at the depot; and he took the same express train of 9.45 for Paris, in which they went. He thought of nothing but the one fact that he was in the same town now with Henrietta. Too impatient to wait for his trunks, he left Lefloch in charge, and jumped into a cab, promising the driver two dollars if he would go as fast as he could to the Hotel du Louvre. For such pay, the lean horses of any cab become equal to English thoroughbreds; and in three-quarters of an hour Daniel was installed in his room at the hotel, and waited with anxiety the return of the waiter. Now that he was really here, a thousand doubts assailed him: “Had he understood Papa Ravinet correctly? Might they not, excited as they both were, have easily made a mistake?” “In less than a quarter of an hour after your arrival,” Papa Ravinet had said to Daniel, “you shall have news.” Less than a quarter of an hour! It seemed to Daniel as if he had been an eternity in this room. Bertolle, third story. 5.” As the waiter did not instantly disappear, Daniel said almost furiously,-- “Did I not tell you it was all right?” He did not want the man to see his excitement, the most intense excitement he had ever experienced in all his life.

“Am I going to be ill?” he thought. On the table stood a carafe with water. But, once outside, he was so overcome, that he lost his way in the long passages and interminable staircases, in spite of the directions hung up at every turn, and had finally to ask a waiter, who pointed out a door which he had passed half a dozen times, and said,-- “That is No. 5.” He knocked gently, and the door opened instantly, as if somebody had been standing behind it, ready to open it promptly. As he entered, he tottered, and, almost in a mist, saw on his right side Papa Ravinet and an old lady, then, farther back, near the window, Henrietta. But as quickly she bounded to meet him, casting both arms around his neck, and leaning upon his bosom, sobbing and stammering,-- “Daniel, Daniel!

There was not a day, so to say, in these two years, that had not brought them its share of grief and sorrow. And yet, after all these storms, here they were reunited once more, in unspeakable happiness, forgetting every thing,--their enemies and the whole world, the anxieties of the past, and the uncertainty of the future. They remained thus for a long time, holding each other closely, overcome with happiness, unable, as yet, to believe in the reality for which they had sighed so long, unable to utter a word, laughing and weeping in one breath. Now and then they would move apart a little, throwing back the head in order the better to look at each other; then swiftly they would fold each other again closely in their arms, as if they were afraid they might be separated anew. Bertolle in her brother’s ear,--“the poor young people!” And big tears rolled down her cheeks, while the old dealer, not less touched, but showing his emotion differently, closed his hands fiercely, and said,-- “All right, all right! They will have to pay for everything.” Daniel, in the meantime, was recovering himself gradually; and reason once more got the better of his feelings.

He led Henrietta to an arm- chair at the corner of the fireplace, and sitting down in front of her, after having taken her hands in his own, he asked her to give him a faithful account of the two terrible years that had just come to an end. She had to tell him everything,--her humiliations in her father’s house, the insults she had endured, the wicked slanders by which her honor had been tainted, the incomprehensible blindness of the count, the surly provocations of her step-mother, the horrible attentions of Sir Thorn; in fine, the whole abominable plot which had been formed, as she found out too late, for the purpose of driving her to seek safety in flight, and to give herself up to Maxime de Brevan. to abandon his child to the mercy of such miserable wretches!” And, when the poor girl looked at him imploringly, he replied,-- “Be it so! Thomas Elgin, I swear by God he shall die by my hand; and as to Sarah Brandon”-- He was interrupted by the old dealer, who tapped him lightly on the shoulder, and said with an indescribable smile,-- “You shall not do that honor to the Hon. People like him do not die by the sword of honest men.” In the meantime Henrietta had resumed her history, and spoke of her surprise and amazement when she reached that bare room in Water Street, with its scanty second-hand furniture. “And yet, Henrietta,” here broke in Daniel, “I had handed that man all my money to be placed at your disposal in case of any accident.” “What!” exclaimed the old dealer, “you had”-- He did not finish, but looked at the young officer with an utterly amazed air, as if he were an improbable phenomenon, never seen before. But it was less insane than to intrust my betrothed to his care. Bertolle, “how could you suppose such atrocious treachery? But, when she came to the disgusting ill-treatment she received at the hands of the concierge’s wife, Daniel cried out,-- “Stop!” And, fearfully excited, he asked her,-- “Did I hear right? I also know that my friend, the proud nobleman, Maxime de Brevan, who has been received in the most aristocratic salons of Paris, has been a galley-slave, condemned for forgery.” Henrietta had risen, filled with terror.

Bertolle. “Oh!” exclaimed the poor girl, “oh!” And she fell heavily back into her chair, overcome by this discovery. “Through the man whom my friend Maxime had hired to murder me.” Positively this threatened to be too much for Henrietta’s mind. I thought the mean coward would try to get you out of the way, Daniel. I wrote to you to be careful.” “And I received your letter, my darling, but too late. “He was arrested.” “Then he confessed?” “Yes, thanks to the astonishing cleverness of the magistrate who carried on the investigation.” “What has become of him?” “He has left Saigon by this time. They have sent him home to be tried here.” “And Brevan?” “I am surprised he has not yet been arrested. The papers in the case were sent to Paris by a vessel which left a fortnight before I left. To be sure, ‘The Saint Louis’ may have gotten ahead of her. At all events, I have in my keeping a letter to the court.” Papa Ravinet seemed to be almost delirious with joy.

As it always happens with people who are under the influence of some passion, eager to learn what they do not know, and little disposed to tell what they do know, confusion prevailed soon. Each wanted to be heard; and all were speaking at once. Thus the explanations, which, by a little management, might have been given in twenty minutes, took them more than two hours. At last, after the lapse of this time, and by dint of great efforts, it became possible to ascertain the sum total of the information given by Papa Ravinet, Daniel, and Henrietta. The truth began to show itself in the midst of this chaos; and the plot of Sarah Brandon and her accomplices appeared in all its hideous outlines. A plan of striking simplicity, the success of which seemed to have hung upon a hair.

He hung his lip, and winked with his yellow eyes, as if he wished it to be understood that he was by no means fully convinced, and that there were certain points which required fuller explanation. Champcey,” he began at last, “the more I think of it, the more I am convinced that Sarah Brandon had nothing to do with these attempts at assassination, which so nearly made an end of you. She is too strong in her perversity to stoop to such coarse means, which always leave traces behind, and finally lead to a court of justice. “What you tell me,” he answered, “I was told before by M. de Brevan.” The old gentleman did not seem to hear him, so intensely did he apply all the faculties of his mind to the problem before him. Could Brevan have done so without Sarah’s knowledge, and perhaps even contrary to her wishes?” “That is quite possible; but then why should he have done so?” “To secure to himself the fortune which M. Champcey had so imprudently intrusted to him,” said Henrietta.

I do not say no to it; but it is not the true one yet. Murder is so dangerous an expedient, that even the boldest criminals only resort to it in the last extremity, and generally very much against their inclination.

You may say, it was fear which drove him to it. Believe my experience; I discern in the whole affair a hurry and an awkwardness which betray a passion, a violent hatred, or, perhaps”-- He stopped suddenly, and seemed to reflect and deliberate, while he was mechanically stroking his chin. He had not forgotten that fatal evening, when, in the house in Circus Street, he had held Sarah Brandon in his arms; and the intoxicating delirium of that moment had left in his heart a bitter and undying pang of remorse.

He had never dared confess to Henrietta that Sarah had actually come to his rooms alone. And even to-night, while giving very fully all the details of his passage out, and his residence in Saigon, he had not said a word of the letters which had been addressed to him by the countess. And, looking fixedly at Daniel, she went on,-- “That wretched woman impudently boasted to my face that she loved you; more than that, she swore that you, also, had loved her, and were still in love with her. She laughed at me contemptuously, telling me that she had it in her power to make you do anything she chose, and offering to show me your letters”-- She paused a moment, turned her head aside, and said with a visible effort,-- “Finally, M. Thomas Elgin assured me that Sarah Brandon had been your mistress, and that the marriage with my father took place only in consequence of a quarrel between you.” Daniel had listened to her, trembling with indignation. tell me that there is no need for me to justify myself to”-- Then turning to Papa Ravinet, he said,-- “Suppose, we admit, for a moment, that she might have been in love, as you say, what would that prove?” The cunning old dealer remained apparently unmoved for a time; but his small eyes were sparkling with malicious delight and satisfaction. Bertolle made a sign that she assented; and he, sure, henceforth, that his sagacity had not been at fault, continued,-- “Pardon me, M. Maxime de Brevan is caught, to be sure; but he is only a vulgar criminal; and we have, as yet, neither Thomas Elgin, nor Mrs.

Only a single, slight mistake may lead us altogether astray; and then there is an end to all our hopes, and these rascals triumph after all!” He was but too right. But no; it would be asking too much, perhaps, to beg you to let me see them?” He did not know how ready Daniel was to grant the request. Ready as he was, to tell Henrietta everything, he could not but wish that she should read these letters, as she would see from them, that, if the countess had written to him, he had never returned an answer. “You can never ask too much, M. “Lefloch, my servant, must have come up by this time with the trunks; and, if you give me time to go down to my room, you shall have the letters at once.” He was on the point of leaving the room, when the old dealer held him back, and said,-- “Sir, you forget the man who has been following you all the way from Marseilles. Bertolle at once went out; but she noticed nothing suspicious, and found all the passages silent and deserted. The spy had probably gone to make his report to his employers. Daniel went down promptly; and, when he came back, he held in his hand a bundle of faded and crumpled papers, which he handed to Papa Ravinet, with the words,-- “Here they are!” Strange as it may seem, when the old gentleman touched these letters, impregnated with the peculiar perfume affected by Sarah Brandon, he trembled and turned pale. Immediately, however, perhaps in order to conceal his embarrassment, or to be the better able to reflect, he took a candlestick from the mantlepiece, and sat down aside, at one of the small tables.

Bertolle, Daniel, and Henrietta were silent; and nothing broke the stillness but the rustling of the paper, and the old gentleman’s voice as he muttered,-- “This is fabulous,--Sarah writing such things! He folded up the letters, and, rising again, said to Champcey,-- “No doubt now!

Well, well, all heartless women love thus when a sudden passion conquers them, setting their brains and their senses on fire, and”-- Daniel noticed in Henrietta’s face a sign of concern; and, quite distressed, he beckoned to the old gentleman to say nothing more. Sarah Brandon has not been able to keep her secret; and Brevan, seeing her love, and furious with jealousy, did not consider that to hire an assassin was to ruin himself.” The indignation he felt had restored the blood to his face; and, as he struck the packet of letters with the palm of his hand, he exclaimed,-- “Yes, all is clear now; and by this correspondence, Sarah Brandon, you are ours!” What could be the plan of Papa Ravinet? Did he expect to use these letters as weapons against her? or did he propose to send them to Count Ville-Handry in order to open his eyes? Daniel trembled at the idea; for his loyalty rebelled against such a vengeance; he felt as if he would have become a traitor. “You see, to use a woman’s correspondence, however odious and contemptible she may be, would always be very repugnant to me.” “I had no idea of asking such a thing of you,” replied the old dealer. “No; it is something very different I want you to do.” And, when Daniel still seemed to be embarrassed, he added,-- “You ought not to give way to such exaggerated delicacy, M.

All weapons are fair when we are called upon to defend our lives and our honor against rascals; and that is where we are. If we do not hasten to strike Sarah Brandon, she will anticipate us; and then”-- He had been leaning against the mantlepiece, close to Mrs. Bertolle, who sat there silent and immovable; and now he raised his head, and, looking attentively at Henrietta and Daniel by turns, he added,-- “Perhaps you are both not exactly conscious of the position in which you stand. Having been reunited to-night, after such terrible trials, and having, both of you, escaped, almost by a miracle, from death, you feel, no doubt, as if all trouble was at an end, and the future was yours. And Miss Henrietta has been too much calumniated already.” To soar in the azure air, and suddenly to fall back into the mud on earth; to indulge in the sweetest of dreams, and all at once to be recalled to stern reality,--this is what Daniel and Henrietta endured at that moment.

The calm, collected voice of the old dealer sounded cruel to them. “Now,” he went on, “mind that I take everything at the best; and even suppose the case, that Count Ville-Handry leaves his daughter free to choose: would that be enough? Daniel Champcey, she will prevail on her husband to shut his daughter up in a convent.

Joy had blinded my eyes completely.” But the old gentleman beckoned to him to say nothing, and with an almost imperious gesture went on,-- “Oh, wait! You left him living like a prince in his forefathers’ palace: you will find him vegetating in the fourth story of a lodging-house. The company which he has established is breaking to pieces; and the papers hold him up to public contempt.

If he cannot pay to-day, he will be to-morrow accused of fraudulent bankruptcy. Now, I ask you, is the count a man who will survive such a disgrace?” For some time Henrietta had been unable to suppress her sobs; under this terrible threat she broke out in loud weeping. Would I be here, if I did not think that Sarah was not quite ready yet?” Daniel, also, had suffered terribly during this discussion; and he now said passionately,-- “Would it not be a crime for us to think, to wait, and to calculate, when such great dangers are impending? Into court, to the count, to a lawyer who can advise us. That he understood nothing of business? That, in order to delay the catastrophe, he has resorted to illegal means? Sarah, who was able to clear herself the day after Malgat’s disappearance, will not be at a loss now to establish her innocence.” “But the count, sir, the count!

Can we not go to him?” “Count Ville-Handry would say to you--But you shall hear to-morrow what he will tell you.” Daniel began to feel utterly dismayed.

“We must wait till we have sufficient evidence in hand to crush at one blow Sarah Brandon, Thorn, and Mrs. As to the rest”-- “Well?” “Well, my dear M. Champcey, I am no longer troubled about getting more, since I have found out that the Countess Sarah is in love with you.” Now Daniel began to understand the part Papa Ravinet expected him to play. Still he did not object; he bowed his head under the clear eye of Henrietta, and said in a low voice,-- “I will do what you wish me to do, sir.” The old gentleman uttered a low cry of delight, as if he had been relieved of an overwhelming anxiety. “Then,” he said, “we will begin the campaign tomorrow morning. But we must know exactly who the enemies are whom we have to meet. On the struggle which they were about to undertake depended Count Ville-Handry’s life and honor, and the happiness and whole future life of Daniel and Henrietta. Her real name, by which she was known up to her sixteenth year, is Ernestine Bergot; and she was born in Paris, in the suburb of Saint Martin, just on the line of the corporation. To tell you in detail what the first years of Sarah were like would be difficult indeed. When her daughter came, she had neither the sense to part with her, nor the courage--perhaps (who knows?) she had not the means--to mend her ways.

“Four years old, she wandered through the neighborhood dressed in fragments of silk or velvet, with a faded ribbon in her hair, but with bare feet in her torn shoes, hoarse, and shivering with severe colds,--very much after the fashion of lost dogs, who rove around open-air cooking-shops,--and looking in the gutters for cents with which to buy fried potatoes or spoilt fruit. “At a later time she extended the circle of her excursions, and wandered all over Paris, in company of other children like herself, stopping on the boulevards, before the brilliant shops or performing jugglers, trying to learn how to steal from open stalls, and at night asking in a plaintive voice for alms in behalf of her poor sick father. Merely upon seeing her go along, her head high with an air of saucy indifference, coquettish under her rags, and walking with elastic steps, you would have guessed in her the young Parisian girl, the sister of the poor ‘gamin,’ a thousand times more wicked than her brothers, and far more dangerous to society.

“For from them she derived the only notions of morality she ever possessed; otherwise, it would have been love’s labor lost to talk to her of virtue or of duty. These words would have conveyed no meaning to her imagination; she knew no more about them than about the abstract ideas which they represent. Finding that she had some money, she dressed her anew from head to foot, bought her a kind of outfit, and bound her as an apprentice to a dressmaker. “But it came too late.

“Every kind of restraint was naturally intolerable to such a vagabond nature. The order and the regularity of the house in which she lived were a horror to her. To sit still all day long, a needle in her hand, appeared to her harder than death itself. When they were spent, and she was hungry, she came back to her mother. Turned out there, she found employment in a low restaurant, where she had to wash up the dishes and plates. Sent away here, also, she became a servant in two or three other places of still lower character; then, at last, utterly disgusted, she determined to do nothing at all. “She was sinking into the gutter, she was on the point of being lost before she had reached womanhood, like fruit which spoils before it is ripe, when a man turned up who was fated to arm her for life’s Struggle, and to change the vulgar thief into the accomplished monster of perversity whom you know.” Here Papa Ravinet suddenly paused, and, looking at Daniel, said,-- “You must not believe, M. I have spent five years of my life in tracing out Sarah’s early life,--five years, during which I have been going from door to door, ever in search of information. And then I have witnesses to prove everything I have told you so far,--witnesses whom I shall summon, and who will speak whenever the necessity arises to establish the identity of the Countess Sarah.” Daniel made no reply.

Bertolle, at this moment he was completely fascinated by the old gentleman’s manner and tone. He went to the window, and beckoned the singer to come up. The good German used often to speak of the deep compassion which seized him as he saw this tall girl of fourteen come into his studio,--a child, stained by vice already, thin like hunger itself, and shivering in her thin calico dress. But he was at the same time almost dazzled by the rich promises of beauty in her face, the pure notes of her superb voice, which had withstood so far, and the surprising intelligence beaming in her features.

“He guessed what there was in her; he saw her, in his mind’s eye, such as she was to be at twenty. “Then he asked her how she had come to be reduced to such misery, who she was, where her parents lived, and what they did for a living. When she had told him that she stood quite alone, and was dependent on no one, he said to her,-- “‘Well, if you will stay with me, I will adopt you; you shall be my daughter; and I will make you an eminent artist.’ “The studio was warm, and it was bitterly cold outside.

“She accepted, be it understood, not doubting, in her perversity, but that this kind old man had other intentions besides those he mentioned in offering her a home.

He recognized in her marvellous talents, and thought of nothing but of making of her a true marvel, which should astonish the world. He devoted himself heart and soul to his new favorite, with all the enthusiastic ardor of an artist, and all the jealous passion of an amateur. “How the old German went to work to keep this untamable vagabond at home, how he made her bend to his will, and submit to his lessons, no one will ever be able to tell.

Some of the neighbors told me that he treated her harshly, beating her often brutally; but neither threats nor blows were apt to make an impression on Sarah Brandon. He had kindled in her a boundless ambition and the most passionate covetousness. He intoxicated her with fairylike hopes. “‘Follow my counsels,’ he used to say to her, ‘and at twenty you will be a queen,--a queen of beauty, of wit, and of genius. At first she had been deterred by the extreme difficulties which beset so late a beginning; but her amazing natural gifts had soon begun to show themselves, and in a short time her progress was almost miraculous.

She saw that society did not exclusively consist, as she had heretofore imagined, of people like those she had known. “At last she actually learned to know the tree of good fruit, after having for so many years known only the tree of forbidden fruit. She listened with eager curiosity to all the old artist had to tell her. He had been a favorite artist at the court of Vienna; he had had several of his operas brought out in Italy; and he had been admitted to the best society in Paris. He described to her the splendor of courts, the beauty of women, the magnificence of their toilets, and the intrigues which he had seen going on around him. He spoke to her of the men whose portraits he had painted, of the manners and the jealousies behind the stage, and of the great singers who had sung in his operas.

“Thus it came about, that, two years later, no one would have recognized the lean, wretched-looking vagabond of the suburbs in this fresh, rosy girl, with the lustrous eyes and the modest mien, whom they called in the house the ‘pretty artist in the fifth story.’ “And yet the change was only on the surface. “Sarah was already too thoroughly corrupted, when the good German picked her up, to be capable of being entirely changed. He thought he had infused his own rough honesty into her veins: he had only taught her a new vice,--hypocrisy. “The soul remained corrupt; and all the charms with which it was outwardly adorned became only so many base allurements, like those beautiful flowers which unfold their splendor on the surface of bottomless swamps, and thus lead those whom they attract to miserable death. “As she was already a very fair musician, and her voice, trained by a great master, possessed amazing power, she urged her old teacher to procure her an engagement at one of the theatres. He refused in a manner which made it clear to her that he would never change his mind on that subject.

He wanted to secure to his pupil one of those debuts which are an apotheosis; and he had decided, as he told her, that she should not appear in public till she had reached the full perfection of her voice and her talent,--certainly not before her nineteenth or twentieth year. She was quite able now to reflect and to calculate. Vice attracted her irresistibly; but it was gorgeous vice, seated in a carriage, and bespattering with mud the poor, honest women who had to walk on foot, while it was envied by the crowd, and worshipped by the foolish. “One fine afternoon in April, in the beginning of spring, he was smoking his pipe at the window, when he heard a noise in the street, and leaned over to see.

“The bar broke,--he tried in vain to hold on to the window-frame,--and the next moment he fell from the fifth story to the ground, and was killed instantly. It states that the fall was unavoidable; and that, if no such calamity had occurred before, this was due to the simple fact, that, during the bad weather, nobody had thought of looking out of the window. The castings of the little railing in front were found to be broken in two places, and so long ago, that a thick layer of rust had filled up the cracks. “It was Sarah who had broken the bar, and loosened the wooden rods; she had, no doubt, been watching for months to see her benefactor fall and kill himself.” Papa Ravinet shook his head. “I do not say that,” he said; “and, at all events, it would be impossible to prove it at this time,--I mean, to prove it against her denial. She seemed to be in despair; and everybody pitied her sincerely. His relatives, of whom several lived in Paris, rushed to his rooms; and their first act was to dismiss Sarah, after having searched her trunks, and after giving her to understand that she ought to be very grateful if she was allowed to take away all she said she owed to the munificence of her late patron. Knowing that the deceased had had ample means, and how simply he had always lived, they expected to find in his bureau considerable savings. I have long endeavored to find out what had become of the various bonds and the ready money of the old artist; for everybody who had known him agreed that there must be some.

I procured leave to examine the books of the savings-bank in which he invested his earnings for the year of his death; and I found there, that on the 17th of April, that is, five days before the poor German’s fall, a certain Ernestine Bergot had deposited a sum of fifteen hundred francs.” “Ah, you see!” exclaimed Daniel. “Weary of the simple life with the old man, she murdered him in order to get hold of his money.” But the old gentleman continued, as if he had heard nothing,-- “What Sarah did during the three first months of her freedom, I cannot tell. A clerk in the mayor’s office, who is a great lover of curiosities, and for whom I have procured many a good bargain, had all the lists of lodging-houses for the four months from April to July carefully examined; but no Ernestine Bergot could be found. One of the former secretaries of the Lyric Theatre told me he recollected distinctly a certain Ernestine, beautiful beyond description, who, came several times, and requested a trial. “The first positive trace I find of Sarah in that year appears towards the end of summer.

But Papa Ravinet did not give them, time to ask any questions, and continued, as calmly as if he had been reading a report,-- “It was several years before this, that Justin Chevassat, released from the galleys, had made a nobleman of himself, and claimed before all the world to be Maxime de Brevan. We need not be surprised, in this age of ours, where impudence takes the place of everything else, that he should have promptly succeeded in making his way into high life, and in being admitted to many houses which were considered more or less exclusive. In a society which seems to have adopted for its motto the words ‘Toleration and Discretion,’ and where, consequently, anybody is admitted without question, Justin Chevassat very naturally had a great success. He had learned prudence by experience; for his antecedents were stormy enough, though less so than Sarah’s. They had a very modest little shop, partly restaurant, partly bar: their customers were generally the servants of the neighborhood. They were people of easy principles and loose morals,--as there are so many in our day,--honest enough as long as there is nothing to be gained by being otherwise. As their trade prospered, they were not dishonest; and, when any of their customers forgot their portemonnaies at the shop, they always returned them. The husband was twenty-four, and the wife nineteen years old, when, to their great joy, a son was born. “But to have a son is a small matter.

To bring him up till he is seven or eight years old, is nothing. The difficulty is to give him an education which shall secure him a position in the world. This thought now began to occupy the minds of his parents incessantly. These stupid people, who had a business which supported them handsomely, and enabled them, in the course of time, to amass a small fortune, did not see that the best thing they could have done would have been to enlarge it, and to leave it to their son. “The result of all these speculations was, that, at the age of nine, Master Justin was sent to a high school.

He conducted himself there just badly enough to be perpetually on the brink of being sent away, without ever being really expelled. They had become so accustomed to look upon their son as a superior being, that it never entered their mind to think he was not the first, the best, and the most remarkable pupil of the establishment. If he gained no prize at the end of the year,--and he never got any,--they did not know what to do for him to console him for having been victimized by such cruel injustice. “When Justin was fourteen years old, he despised his parents thoroughly, treated them like servants, and was so much ashamed of them, that he would not allow his mother to come and see him in the parlor of the college to which he had been admitted of late.

When he was at home during vacations, he would have cut his right arm off rather than help his father, or pour out a glass of wine for a customer. “To dress in the height of fashion; to walk up and down before the most renowned restaurants, with a toothpick in his mouth; to hire a carriage, and drive it himself, having a hired groom in livery by his side,--this was the delight of those days. “His parents had rented for him, and comfortably furnished, a nice set of rooms in their house, and tried by all manner of servility to keep him at home, neglecting even their own business in order to be always ready for his orders. He said he could not possibly receive his friends in a house where his name was to be seen on the signboard of such a low establishment. “It was his despair to be the son of a restaurant-keeper, and to be called Chevassat. “But greater grief was to come to him after two years’ idle and expensive life such as has been described. “One fine morning when he needed a couple of hundred dollars, his parents told him, with tears in their eyes, that they had not twenty dollars in the house; that they were at the end of their resources; that the day before a note of theirs had been protested; and that they were at that moment on the brink of bankruptcy. On the contrary, they humbly asked his pardon, if they were no longer able to provide for his wants. And, with fear and trembling, they at last ventured to suggest, that perhaps it would be well if he should seek some kind of work.

“He told them coolly that he would think it over, but that he must have his two hundred dollars. “Still he saw that the till he had considered inexhaustible was really empty, and that henceforth his pockets also would be empty, unless he could devise some means to fill them. He went, therefore, in search of some employment; and his godfather, the valet, found one for him at the house of a banker, who was in want of a reliable young man to be trained for his business, and hereafter to be intrusted with the management of his funds.” Papa Ravinet’s voice changed so perceptibly as he uttered these last words, that Daniel and Henrietta, with one impulse, asked him,-- “Is anything the matter, sir?” He did not make any reply; but his sister, Mrs. Bertolle, said,-- “No, there is nothing the matter with my brother;” and she looked at him with a nod of encouragement. Then, making a great effort, he continued,-- “Justin Chevassat was at twenty precisely what you know him to be as Maxime de Brevan,--a profound dissembler, a fierce egotist devoured by vanity, in fine, a man of ardent passions, and capable of anything to satisfy his desires. “The hope of getting rich at once by some great stroke was already so deeply rooted in his mind, that it gave him the strength to change his habits and manner of life from one day to another, and to keep up the deceit with a perseverance unheard of at his age. He had resolved to win the favor of his patron, and to be trusted. So that, only two years after he had first been admitted into the house, he had already been promoted to a place which conferred upon him the keeping of all the valuables of the firm. Nowadays it seems almost an ordinary event to hear of some cashier’s running away with the funds intrusted to his keeping; and no one is astonished. To create a sensation by such an occurrence, the sum must be almost fabulous, say, two or three millions.

When they knew the keys of their safe to be in the hands of an honest man, whose family and mode of life were well known, they slept soundly. Justin Chevassat’s patron was thus sleeping soundly for ten months, when one Sunday he was specially in need of certain bonds which Justin used to keep in one of the drawers of his desk. He did not like to have his clerk hunted up on such a day; so he simply sent for a locksmith to open the drawer. “The first thing he saw was a draft signed by himself; and yet he had never put his name to such a paper. Still, most assuredly, it was his signature; he would have sworn to it in court. And yet he was as sure as he was standing there, that it was not he who had put his name, and the somewhat complicated ornament belonging to it, where he saw it written. He had the other drawers opened likewise, searched them, and soon discovered all the details of a formidable and most ingenious plan, by which he was to be robbed at a single blow of more than a million. It was then thought that his crime was confined to this abortive attempt. Evidence was found, that, on the very next day after the day on which he had been appointed confidential clerk, he had stolen a thousand dollars, concealing his theft by a false entry. In fine, it appeared that the sum total of his defalcations amounted to some eighty thousand dollars.

His explanations and his excuses were the old story pleaded by all who put their hands into their neighbors’ pockets. “To hear him, no one could be more innocent than he was, however guilty he might appear at first sight. He was like one of those men who allow their little finger to be caught in a machine. His only fault was the desire to speculate on ‘Change. Having lost some money, and fearing to lose his place if he did not pay, the fatal thought had occurred to him to borrow from the strong box. From that moment he had only cherished one thought,--to restore what he had taken. If he speculated anew, it was from extreme honesty, and because he constantly hoped to gain enough to make restitution. 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. He questioned them, and obtained sufficient evidence against them to justify their arrest. But they could not be convicted at the trial, and had to be released.

He made no effort to exculpate his client: he boldly accused the banker. ‘Was it the act of a sensible man,’ he said, ‘to trust so young a man with such important sums? Was it not tempting him beyond his powers of resistance, and almost provoking him to become dishonest?

And then, what immorality in a banker to speculate on ‘Change, and thus to set so bad an example to his young, inexperienced clerks!’ “Justin Chevassat escaped with twenty years’ penal servitude. “How he went about to do this, I am enabled to tell you accurately. Through his godfather, the valet, who had died before his trial, Justin Chevassat knew the history of the Brevan family in its minutest details. It was a very sad story. The old marquis had died insolvent, after having lost his five sons, who had gone abroad to make their fortunes. The noble family had thus become extinct; but Justin proposed to continue its lineage. Would people take the trouble to inquire minutely what had become of the marquis and his five sons? “As soon as he was free once more, he devoted all his energies to the destruction of every trace of his identity; and, when he thought he had accomplished this, he went to Mans, assuming the name of one of the sons of the marquis, who had been nearly of his own age.

He paid cash, moreover, proving thus the correctness of the magistrate’s suspicions as to his story about losses on ‘Change, and as to the complicity of his parents. He even took the precaution of living on his little estate for four years, practising the life of a country-gentleman, received with open arms by the nobility of the neighborhood, forming friendships, gaining supporters, and becoming more and more identified with Maxime de Brevan. I always thought he was looking out for a wealthy wife, so as to consolidate his position; and he came near realizing his hopes. For the next three years, he lived in Paris, more completely Maxime de Brevan than ever; and then he met Sarah Brandon.” Papa Ravinet had been speaking now for nearly three hours, and he was beginning to feel exhausted. Bertolle herself to unite in begging him to go and lie down for a few moments. “No,” he replied, “I will go to the end. Champcey should be in a position to act to-morrow, or rather to-day. At all events, they soon became acquainted, drawn as they were to each other by an instinctive and irresistible attraction. They danced several times together; they sat side by side; they talked long and intimately; and, when the ball came to an end, they were friends already.

They seemed to be made on purpose to understand, and, so to say, compliment, each other, equally corrupt as they were, devoured by the same sinful desires, and alike free from all the old-fashioned prejudices, as they called it, about justice, morals, and honor. They could hardly help coming soon to some understanding by which they agreed to associate their ambitions and their plans for the future. Love had torn the mask from their faces; and each one vied with the other in letting the foulness of their past days be seen clearly. Ten times they have tried to break off their intimacy; and as often they have been compelled to renew it, bound as they feel they are to each other by a chain far more oppressive and solid than the one Justin Chevassat wore at the galleys.

“At first, however, they had to conceal their intimacy; for they had no money. By joining what she had stolen from her benefactor, to what she had obtained from M. ‘That was not enough,’ she said, ‘to “set up” the most modest establishment.’ As to M. de Brevan, however economical he had been, he had come to an end of the sums stolen from his employer.

For eight or ten months now, he had been reduced to all kinds of dangerous expedients in order to live. He rode in his carriage; but he had been more than once very happy when he could extort a twenty-franc-piece from his parents. He visited them, of course only in secret; for they had in the meantime exchanged their shop, for the modest little box assigned to the concierge of No.

“Far, therefore, from being able to be useful to Sarah, he was perfectly delighted when she brought him one fine day ten thousand francs to alleviate his distress. “‘Ah!’ she said to him on this occasion, and often thereafter, ‘why can’t we have that fool’s money?’ meaning her friend and lover, M. To begin, Sarah induced him to make a last will, in which he made her his residuary legatee. One would be at a loss to guess how she could obtain this from a young, healthy man, full of life and happiness, if it were not that love will explain everything. de Brevan undertook to introduce in the society frequented by Sarah and M. Planix one of his friends, who was considered, and who really was, the best swordsman in Paris, a good fellow otherwise, honor itself, and rather patient in temper than given to quarrelling. de Font-Avar, to tempt him to pay her some attentions.

But that very night she complained to M. Planix of his persecution, and knew so skilfully how to excite his jealousy, and to wound his vanity, that, three days later, he allowed himself to be carried away by passion, and struck M. de Brevan, pretending to try and reconcile the two young men, secretly fanned the flame. Accomplished actress as she was, she could hardly manage to shed a few tears for the benefit of the public, when the body, still warm, was brought to the house. “It was opened and read the same day by the justice of the peace, who had been sent for to put the seals on the deceased man’s property. And then Sarah began to cry in good earnest. “He still said, ‘I appoint Miss Ernestine Bergot my residuary legatee’; but he had written underneath, ‘on condition that she shall pay to each of my sisters the sum of a hundred and fifty thousand francs.’ This was more than three-fourths of his whole fortune.

We won’t have a hundred thousand francs left.’ “Maxime, however, recovered his equanimity pretty soon; for the sum appeared to him quite large enough to pay for a crime in which they had run no risk, and he was quite as willing as before to marry Sarah; but she refused to listen to him, saying that a hundred thousand francs were barely enough for a year’s income, and that they must wait. “He proposed to Sarah to risk the hundred thousand francs, promising to make a million out of them; and she yielded, tempted by the very boldness of his proposition. “They resolved they would not stop playing till they had won a million, or lost everything. And so they went to Homburg. Sarah, who kept the money, refused, repeating her favorite motto, ‘All, or nothing.’ “It was nothing. Victory remained, as usual, with, the ‘big battalions;’ and one evening the two partners returned to their lodgings, ruined, penniless, having not even a watch left, and owing the hotel-keeper a considerable sum of money. Enclosed is enough to enable you to return to Paris. To be abandoned in this way! To be thus unceremoniously dismissed, and by Sarah! But anger soon roused him to fury; and at the same time he was filled with an intense desire to avenge himself.

But, in order to avenge himself, he must first know how to find his faithless ally. No doubt Sarah, being ruined, had fallen an easy prey to this gentleman, who looked as if he might be a millionaire. Unfortunately, he was too late. But he hunted in vain all over town, inquiring at the hotels, and bothering everybody with his questions. “When he returned to his lodgings that night, he wept. During the five months of their intimacy, she had gained such complete ascendency over him, that now, when he was left to his own strength, he felt like a lost child, having no thought and no resolution. “What was to become of him, now that this woman was no longer there to sustain and inspire him,--that woman with the marvellous talent for intrigue, the matchless courage that shrank from nothing, and the energy which sufficed for everything? Sarah had, besides, filled his imagination with such magnificent hopes, and opened before his covetous eyes such a vast horizon of enjoyment, that he had come to look upon things as pitiful, which would formerly have satisfied his highest wishes.

Should he, after having dreamed of those glorious achievements by which millions are won in a day, sink back again into the meanness of petty thefts? His heart turned from that prospect with unspeakable loathing; and yet what was he to do? “He knew, that, if he returned to Paris, matters would not be very pleasant for him there. His creditors, made restless by his prolonged absence, would fall upon him instantly. How could he induce them to wait? Where could he get the money to pay them, at least, a percentage of his dues?

Were all of his dark works to be useless? Was he to be shipwrecked before ever seeing even the distant port?

“Nevertheless, he returned to Paris, faced the storm, passed through the crisis, and resumed his miserable life, associating with another adventurer like himself, and succeeding thus, by immensely hard work, in maintaining his existence and his assumed name.

“Thus it came about, that, two years later, he had not yet been reconciled to Sarah’s absence. I have had no time to trace out their antecedents. All I know is, that they belonged to that class of adventurers whom one sees at all the watering-places and gambling-resorts,--at Nice, at Monaco, and during the winter in Italy; swindlers of the highest class, who unite consummate skill with excessive caution; who are occasionally suspected, but never found out; and who are frequently indebted to their art of making themselves agreeable, and even useful to others, to the carelessness of travellers, and their thorough knowledge of life, for the acquaintance, or even friendship, of people whom one is astonished to find in such company. Brian were both English, and, so far, they had managed to live very pleasantly.

But old age was approaching; and they began to be fearful about the future, when they fell in with Sarah. They divined her, as she had divined Maxime; and they saw in her an admirable means to secure a fortune. They did not hesitate, therefore, to offer her a compact by which she was to be a full partner, although they themselves had to risk all they possessed,--a capital of some twenty thousand dollars. You have seen what these respectable people proposed to make of her,--a snare and a pitfall. Champcey, as you seem to think; nor is the case a rare one. They have six or seven years,--eighteen to twenty-five,--during which, their beauty and their tact may secure an immense fortune to themselves and their comrades; and according to chance, to their skill, or the whims or the folly of men, they end by marrying some great personage in high life, or by keeping a wretched gambling hell in the suburbs.

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

“Hence the trip to America, and her long residence there. Brandon, just as Justin Chevassat had managed to become Maxime de Brevan. They were almost dumfounded by the prodigious sagacity, the cunning, patience, and labor which the old dealer must have employed to collect this vast mass of information. Brian explained to her the part she was expected to play, she had assumed it so naturally and so perfectly, that all traces of art disappeared at once. de Brevan received, one morning, the following note:-- “‘Come to-night, at nine o’clock, to M.

She had at last come back to him,--this woman, who had come across his life like a tempest, and whose memory he had retained in his heart, as a dagger remains in the wound it has made. Sarah Brandon had long since ceased to admire him. Familiar as she was with the life of adventurers in high life, she had soon learned to appreciate M. She had, to be sure, Mrs. Brian and Sir Thorn, as he began to be called now; but she mistrusted them. On the other hand, Maxime de Brevan was entirely hers, dependent on her pleasure, as the lump of clay in the hands of the sculptor. “It is true that Maxime appeared almost distressed when he heard that that immense fortune which he coveted with all his might was still to be made, and that Sarah was no farther advanced now than she was on the day of their separation. And, thus driven to bay, they were doubly to be feared. They were determined to fall furiously upon the first victim that should pass within reach, when chance brought to them the unlucky cashier of the Mutual Discount Society, Malgat.” XXXI.

For a few moments the fatigue of the old dealer seemed to have disappeared. He was sitting up straight, with tremulous lips, with flashing eyes, and continued in a strangely strident voice,-- “Fools alone attach no weight to trifling occurrences. And still it is those that appear most insignificant which we ought to fear most, because they alone determine our fate, precisely as an atom of sand dismembers the most powerful engine. “It was on a fine afternoon in the month of October when Sarah Brandon appeared for the first time before the eyes of Malgat. He had one passion, however,--he filled the five rooms of his lodgings with curiosities of every kind, happy for a week to come, if he had discovered a piece of old china, or a curious piece of furniture, which he could purchase cheap. “He was honest in the highest sense of the word; his honesty being instinctive, so to say, never reasoning, never hesitating. For fifteen years now, he had been cashier; and hundreds of millions had passed through his hands without arousing in him a shadow of covetousness.

Their confidence in him was so great, that they would have laughed in the face of any one who should have come and told them, ‘Malgat is a thief!’ “Such he was, when, that morning, he was standing near his safe, and saw a gentleman come to his window who had just cashed a check drawn by the Central Bank of Philadelphia upon the Mutual Discount Bank. Elgin, spoke such imperfect French, that Malgat asked him, for convenience sake, to step inside the railing. “How can I describe to you the sensations of the poor cashier as he beheld this amazing beauty! He had been overtaken by one of those overwhelming passions which sometimes felled to the ground the strongest and simplest of men at the age of forty. Sarah had but too keenly noticed the impression she had produced. To be sure, Malgat was very far from that ideal of a millionaire husband of whom these adventurers dreamed; but, after all, he held the keys of a safe in which lay millions. One might always get something out of him wherewith to wait for better things to come. Elgin presented himself alone at the office to ask for some information. By the end of the week, he had furnished Malgat with an opportunity to render him some trifling service. Thus relations began to exist between them; and, at the end of a fortnight, Sir Thorn could, with all propriety, ask the cashier to dine with him in Circus Street.

A voice from within--one of those presentiments to which we ought always to listen--warned Malgat not to accept the invitation; but he was already no longer his own master. “He went to dinner in Circus Street, and he left it madly in love. He thought those rapturous glances were genuine; he believed in the truthfulness of that intoxicating sweetness of her voice, and those enchanting blushes, which his coming never failed to call forth. Brian appeared one day, all of a sudden, to notice something, and promptly requested Malgat never to put foot again within that house.

She accused him of an attempt to seduce Sarah Brandon.

how he protested, affirming the purity of his intentions, and swearing that he would be the happiest of mortals if they would condescend to grant him the hand of her niece. But Sir Thorn, in the haughtiest tone possible, asked him how he could dare think of such a thing, and presume that he could ever be a fit match for a young lady who had a dower of two hundred thousand dollars. “Malgat left with tottering steps, despair in his heart, and resolved to kill himself. When he returned home, he actually went to look among his curiosities for an old flint-lock pistol, and began to load it. He would have carried his deceptive illusions and his unstained honor with him to the grave. “He was just about to make his will when they brought him a letter from Sarah. If your love is true, if dangers and difficulties terrify you no more than they terrify me, knock to-morrow night, at ten o’clock, at the gate of the court. I will open.’ “Mad with joy and hope, Malgat went to the fatal meeting. “But with that clear perception which was a perfect marvel in her, and looked like the gift of second sight, she had taken the measure of the cashier, and exposed herself to the danger, well-knowing that he would shrink from doing what she asked.

He said to himself that it would be a mean thing to abuse the attachment of this pure and trustful girl, to separate her from her family, and to ruin her forever. “He did have this wonderful power of self-denial to dissuade her from taking such a step, and to induce her to be patient, giving time an opportunity of coming to their assistance, while he would do all he could to overcome the obstacles in the way. But, when he at last began to examine his position, he came to the conclusion that he had indulged in childish illusions, and that he could never hope to satisfy the demands made by M. There was but one way, a single way, by which he could ever hope to obtain possession of this woman whom he worshipped; and that was the one she had herself proposed,--an abduction. To determine upon such a step, however, was for Malgat to end his peaceful life forever, to lose his place, to abandon the past, and to venture upon an unknown future. How could he expose this rich heiress, who left all for his sake, this beautiful girl, who was accustomed to every imaginable luxury, to want and humiliation? And yet his whole available capital did not amount to three thousand dollars. His fortune was invested in those curiosities that were piled up all over his rooms,--beautiful objects to his eyes in former days, but now hateful, and annoying to behold. “He had seen Sarah several times secretly; and each time she had appeared to him more mournful and dejected.

Brian spoke of giving her in marriage to a friend of hers. Elgin proposed to take her abroad. And, with such troubles filling his head, the poor cashier had to attend to his daily duties, and from morning till night receive tens and hundreds of thousands; and never yet, I swear it, the thought occurred to him of taking a small fraction of these treasures. “He had determined to sell all his collections as a whole, at any price he could get, when one day, a few moments before the office closed, a lady appeared, whose ample dress concealed her figure, while a thick veil completely shrouded her features. “Malgat begged her to enter. What new misfortune had happened to induce her to take such a step? She told him in a few words. “Sir Thorn had found out their secret meetings: he had told her to be ready to start for Philadelphia the next morning. They must choose now between two things,--either to flee that very day, or be separated forever.

never had Sarah been so beautiful as at this moment, when she seemed to be maddened by grief; never had her whole personal beauty exhaled such powerful, such irresistible charms. Her breath went and came, causing her almost to sob at every respiration; and big tears, like scattered beads from a chaplet of pearls, rolled down her pale cheeks. “Malgat stood a moment before her, stunned by the blow; and the imminence of the danger extorted from him a confession of the reasons that had made him hesitate so long.

He told her, cruelly humiliated by the avowal, that he had no money. No money?’ “And when Malgat, more heartily ashamed of his poverty than he could have been of a crime, blushed to the roots of his hair, she pointed at the immense safe, which overflowed with gold and bank-notes, and said,-- “‘And what is all that?’ “Malgat jumped up, and stood before the safe, his arms far outstretched, as if to defend it, and said in an accent of ineffable terror,-- “‘What are you thinking of?

And my honor?’ “This was to be his last effort to preserve his honor. My honor is nothing to you? Do you mean to drive a bargain?’ “Great God! Malgat fell helpless into a chair. “Then she came close up to him, and, casting upon him those burning glances which blazed with superhuman audacity, she sighed,-- “‘If you loved me really! Ah, if you really loved me!’ “And she bent over him, tremulous with passion, watching his features so closely, that their lips nearly touched. He drew Sarah towards him, and said, kissing her,-- “‘Very well then. Yes!’ “She immediately disengaged herself, and with eager hands seized one parcel of bank-notes after another, pushing them into a little morocco bag which she held in her hand.

To-night at ten o’clock, at the gate of the court- yard, with a carriage. To-morrow, at daybreak, we shall be out of France, and free. Now we are bound to each other forever,--and I love you!’ “And she went away.

And he let her go away.” The old gentleman had become ghastly white, his few hairs seemed to stand on end, and large drops of perspiration inundated his face as he swallowed at a gulp a cup of tea, and then went on, laughing bitterly,-- “You suppose, no doubt, that, when Sarah had left him, Malgat came to himself? “Far from repenting, he rejoiced at what had been done; and when he learned, that, on the following day, the board of directors were to meet to examine the books, he laughed at the faces they would make; for I told you he was mad.

With all the coolness of a hardened thief, he calculated the total amount of what had been abstracted: it was four hundred thousand francs. Immediately, in order to conceal the true state of things, he took his books, and, with almost diabolic skill, altered the figures, and changed the entries, so as to make it appear that the defalcation was of long date, and that various sums had been abstracted for several months. When he had finished his fearful task, he wrote to the board a hypocritical letter, in which he stated that he had robbed the safe in order to pay his differences on ‘Change, and that now, when he could no longer conceal his crime, he was going to commit suicide. As he was resolved not to return to his house, nor to encumber himself with luggage, he dined at a restaurant, spent a few minutes at a theatre, and then posted his letter to the board of directors, so that it might reach them early in the morning. The young lady is waiting.’ “A terrible presentiment seized him at that moment, and chilled him to the marrow in his bones. What do you want now?’ “Surely, such a reception ought to have disabused the unfortunate man. When he began to stammer some explanations, she interrupted him, saying,-- “‘Let us speak frankly. You come to run away with me, don’t you?

As to that small loan, it does not pay me, I assure you, by half, for the sublime little comedy which I have had to play. Believe me, at all events, when I tell you that I have taken all my precautions so as not to be troubled by anything you may say or do. The fearful truth broke all of a sudden upon him; and he felt as if the whole world were going to pieces. He understood the enormity of the crime; he discerned the fatal consequences, and knew he was ruined. You are dishonored!’ “But, when he saw Sarah Brandon get up to leave the room, he was seized with an attack of furious rage, and threw himself upon her, crying,-- “‘Yes, I am lost; but you shall die, Sarah Brandon!’ “Poor fool! “The poor man did not attempt to resist.

Within him, moreover, a faint hope began to rise. It seemed to him impossible that such a monstrous wrong could be carried out, and that he would have only to proclaim the wickedness of these wretches to have them in his power. ‘I must go!’ “But they did not allow him to go as yet. Do you mean to denounce us? You see we have prepared everything for this business during the last three months; and nothing has been left to chance. Do not forget that I have commissioned you twenty times to buy or sell for me on ‘Change, and that it was always done in your name, at my request. Had he not himself, for fear lest a suspicion should fall upon Sarah Brandon, told the board of directors in his letter that he had been tempted by unlucky speculations? Had he not altered the entries in the books in order to prove this assertion? Would they believe him if he were to tell the truth?

Whom could he ever hope to persuade that what was probable was false, and that the improbable was true? He had never written such letters; and yet there was his handwriting, imitated with such amazing perfection, that he began to doubt his own senses and his own reason. His letter to the navy department has, no doubt, proved it to you. “Seeing Malgat thus stupefied, Sarah took the word, and said,-- “‘Look here, my dear; I’ll give you some advice. It is time yet to take the train for Brussels.’ “But he rose, and said,-- “‘No! There is nothing left for me but to die. As to Mrs.

Bertolle, she had sunk into a chair, trembling in all her limbs. The trial came on, and he was condemned in contumaciam to ten years’ penal servitude. And this crime, one of the most atrocious ever conceived by human wickedness, went to swell the long list of unpunished outrages. Twenty thousand francs a year was far too little for their immoderate desires! They accepted this fortune as an installment on account on the future, and used it to wait patiently for new victims to be stripped. “Maxime managed to bring him to the house in Circus Street. And, when he had not a cent left, she well-nigh forced him to write her three forged drafts, swearing, that, on the day on which they became due, she would take them up herself. They told him that the forgery had been discovered: that suit had been brought; that he was ruined. They offered him, also, money to flee.

As soon as he left the house, he hanged himself on Sarah’s window, thinking that he would thus hold up to public censure the infamous creature who had led him to commit a crime. Wilkie Gordon, when Sir Thorn spoke to her of Count Ville-Handry. “How the old gentleman was drawn to Circus Street; how he was surrounded, insnared, intoxicated, and finally made a husband--all that you know but too well, M.

But what you do not know is the fact that this marriage brought discord into the camp. de Brevan would not hear of it; and it was the hope he had of breaking it up, which made him speak to you so frankly of Sarah Brandon. When you went to ask his advice, he was on bad terms with her: she had turned him off, and refused to pay him any money. And he was so mortally offended, that he would have betrayed her to the courts even, if he had known how to do it without inculpating himself. “You were the very person to reconcile them again, inasmuch as you gave Maxime an opportunity of rendering Sarah Brandon a great service. “He did not then anticipate that she would ever fall in love with you, and that she, in her turn, would have to succumb to one of those desperate passions which she had so often kindled in others, and used for her own advantage. This discovery made him furious; and Sarah’s love, and Maxime’s rage, will explain to you the double plot by which you were victimized. Sarah, who loved you, wanted to get rid of Henrietta, who was your betrothed: Maxime, stung by jealousy, wanted you to die.” Visibly overcome by fatigue, Papa Ravinet fell back in his chair, and remained silent for more than five minutes. Then he seemed to make one more effort, and went on,-- “Now, let us sum up the whole. Brian have gone to work to rob Count Ville-Handry, and to ruin him.

Therefore, I can ruin them, without reference to their other crimes. Crochard’s affidavit alone suffices to ruin M. The two Chevassats, husband and wife, have caught themselves by keeping the four thousand francs you sent to Miss Henrietta. Champcey will save him, madam.” Daniel had risen, deeply moved, and now asked,-- “What am I to do?” “You must call on the Countess Sarah, and look as if you had forgotten all that has happened,--as far as she is concerned, Miss Henrietta.” The young officer blushed all over, and stammered painfully,-- “Ah, I cannot play that part! I would not be able.” But Henrietta stopped him. Laying her hand on his shoulder, and looking deep into the eyes of her betrothed, as if to search the very depths of his conscience, she said,-- “Have you reasons for hesitating?” He hung his head, and said,-- “I shall go.” XXXII.

Bertolle brought up all possible arguments to convince him, that, with a woman like Sarah Brandon, all reprisals were fair; he would not be convinced. 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. A clerk whom he asked told him that the president was in his rooms,--in the third story on the left. The maid who came to open the door recognized him. She took him through an anteroom, dark, and fragrant with odors from the kitchen; and then, opening a door, she said;-- “Please walk in!” Before an immense table, covered with papers, sat Count Ville-Handry. Still his efforts to look young had not been abandoned. Upon my word, I am very glad to see you! We know what you have been doing out there; for my wife sent me again and again to the navy department to see if there were any news of you. You ought to be pleased.” “Fortune has favored, me, count.” “Alas!

“You must be surprised,” he continued, “to find me living in such a dog’s kennel, I who formerly--But so it goes. That is my story, and I thought I would enrich my country by a new source of revenue. From the first day on which I emitted shares, speculators have gotten hold of them, and have crushed me, till my whole fortune has been spent in useless efforts to keep them up. And yet Sir Thorn says I have fought as bravely on this slippery ground as my ancestors did in the lists.” Every now and then the poor old man passed his hand over his face as if trying to drive away painful thoughts; and then he went on in a different tone of voice,-- “And yet I am far from complaining. It is to them I owe the knowledge of the boundless devotion of a beloved wife; they have taught me how dearly Sarah loves me. I alone can tell what treasures are hid in that angelic heart, which they dared to calumniate. I think I can hear her now, when I told her one evening how embarrassed I had become in my finances. “‘To have concealed that from me!’ she exclaimed,--‘from me, your wife: that was wrong!’ And the very next day she showed her sublime courage. She sold her diamonds to bring me the proceeds, and gave up to me her whole fortune.

If I were to die to-morrow, she would be penniless.” Daniel trembled. People like you live a hundred years.” But the old man lowered his voice, and said,-- “You see, I have not told you all yet. But you are my friend; and I know I can open my heart to you.

I did not have the--the--cleverness to overcome all the restrictions which hamper this kind of business. To-morrow there will be a meeting of the stockholders; and, if they do not grant me what I shall have to ask of them, I may be in trouble. He read it, and said,-- “Tell them I am coming.” Then, turning again to Daniel, he added,-- “I must leave you; but the countess is at home, and she would never forgive me if I did not take you in to present your respects to her. It would kill her.” And, before Daniel could recover from his bewilderment, the count had opened a door, and pushed him into the room, saying,-- “Sarah, M.

Her husband had left them; but, even if he had been still in the room, she would probably not have been any more able to control herself.

“You!” she cried, “Daniel, my Daniel!” And turning to Mrs. But Sarah, as harshly as if she had been speaking to a servant, cut her short, saying,-- “You are in the way, and I beg you will leave the room.” Mrs. Brian did so without saying a word; and the countess sank into an arm-chair, as if overcome by a sudden good fortune which she was not able to endure, looking intensely at Daniel, who stood in the centre of the room like a statue. She had on a simple black merino dress; she wore no jewelry; but her marvellous, fatal beauty seemed to be all the more dazzling.

Her hair still shone with its golden flashes; her rosy lips smiled sweetly; and her velvet eyes caressed you still, till hot fire seemed to run in your veins. Once before Daniel had been thus alone with her; and, as the sensations he then felt rose in his mind, he began to tremble violently. Then, thinking of his purpose in coming here, and the treacherous part he was about to act, he felt a desire to escape. Has the count told you?” Daniel had taken a chair. I did what I could to keep her in the right way. Now he was in the right temper to meet cunning with cunning. He answered in an admirably-feigned tone of indifference,-- “Ah!” Then, encouraged by the joyous surprise he read in Sarah’s face, he went on,-- “This expedition has cost me dear. Yes; that is to say, I have been robbed,--robbed of every cent I ever had.

On the eve of my departure, I intrusted a hundred thousand dollars, all I ever possessed, to M. de Brevan, with orders to hold it at Miss Henrietta’s disposal. He found it easier to appropriate the whole to himself. So, you see, I am reduced to my pittance of pay as a lieutenant. In any other man, this prodigious confidence in a friend would have appeared to her the extreme of human folly; in Daniel, she thought it was sublime. “Maxime”-- “Was arrested last night, and is kept in close confinement.” However well prepared Daniel was by Papa Ravinet’s account, he could never have hoped to manage the conversation as well as chance did. de Brevan must have been arrested for having attempted to murder me.” The lioness who has just been robbed of her whelps does not rise with greater fury in her eyes than Sarah did when she heard these words.

“He has dared touch you!” “Not personally; oh, no! I see that the order to apprehend my friend Maxime must have reached here before me, although it left Saigon some time later than I did.” Might not M. But it never occurred to her. “The scoundrel, the rascal!” And, sitting down by Daniel, she asked him to tell her all the details of these attempted assassinations, from which he had escaped only by a miracle. The Countess Sarah, in fact, never doubted for a moment but that Daniel was as madly in love with her as Planix, as Malgat, and Kergrist, and all the others, had been, she had become so accustomed to find her beauty irresistible and all powerful. How could it ever have occurred to her, that this man, the very first whom she loved sincerely, should also be the first and the only one to escape from her snares? During the last two years she had so often evoked the image of Daniel, she had so constantly lived with him in her thoughts, that she mistook the illusion of her desires for the reality, and was no longer able to distinguish between the phantom of her dreams and the real person.

In the meantime he entertained her by describing to her his actual position, lamenting over the treachery by which he had been ruined, and adding how hard he would find it at thirty to begin the world anew. And she, generally, so clearsighted, was not surprised to find that this man, who had been disinterestedness itself, should all of a sudden deplore his losses so bitterly, and value money so highly.

He replied with a perfection of affected candor which he would not have suspected to be in his power the day before,-- “What? And in an undertone, speaking passionately, she said,-- “Go now! You shall know by to-morrow who she is whom I have chosen for you. “I am playing an abominable game,” he said to himself. What a woman!” It required nothing less to rouse him from his stupor than the sight of Papa Ravinet, who was waiting for him below, hid in a corner of his carriage.

But for me, the count would have kept you; but I came to your rescue by sending him up a letter. Now, tell me all.” Daniel reported to him briefly, while they were driving along, his conversation with the count and with Sarah. But there is not a minute to lose. Do you go back to the hotel, and wait for me there.

I must go to the court.” At the hotel Daniel found Henrietta dying with anxiety. He drew Daniel aside to give him his last directions, and did not leave him till midnight, when he went away, saying,-- “The ground is burning under our feet; be punctual to-morrow.” At the precise hour Daniel presented himself in Peletier Street, where the count received him with a delighted air.

Brian is away; Sir Thorn is out on business; and I shall have to leave you directly after breakfast. Under the thick layers of rouge, the count showed his livid pallor; and every moment nervous tremblings shook him from head to foot. The countess affected childish happiness; but her sharp and sudden movements betrayed the storm that was raging in her heart. Daniel noticed that she incessantly filled the count’s glass,--a strong wine it was too,--and that, in order to make him take more, she drank herself an unusual quantity. “Well,” he said with the air and the voice of a man who braces himself to mount the scaffold, “it must be done; they are waiting for me.” And, after having kissed his wife with passionate tenderness, he shook hands with Daniel, and went out hurriedly. It is--the Countess Ville-Handry.” He shook and trembled; but he controlled himself by a supreme effort, and calmly smiling, in a half tender, half ironical tone, he replied,-- “Why, oh, why! do you speak to me of unattainable happiness? But Daniel was prepared for them, and said,-- “To be sure you may. You are as poor as I am; and we are too clever to think of joining poverty to poverty.” She looked at him with a strange, sinister smile.

That entire fortune which once belonged to Count Ville-Handry, and which he thinks has been lost in unlucky speculations,--the whole of it is in my hands. I have suffered horribly, to have to play for two long years the loving wife to this decrepit old man. I knew you would come back; and I wanted to have royal treasures to give you. 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.

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?

He is beseeching his stockholders to relieve him from the effects of his mismanagement. they will refuse him; for among the largest stockholders there are three who belong to me: I have bribed them to refuse. She was seized with spasms from head to foot, but, making a great effort, she cried out,-- “Free at last, Daniel; we are free!” And, rushing to the door, she opened it. On the threshold stood Count Ville-Handry, his features terribly distorted, a smoking revolver in his hand. “No,” he said, “Sarah, no, you are not free!” Livid, and with eyeballs starting from their sockets, the wretched woman had shrunk back to a door which opened from the dining-room directly into her chamber. She abandoned the thought, however, when the count stepped forward, and thus allowed Papa Ravinet to be seen behind him. “Malgat!” she cried,--“Malgat!” She held out her hands before her as if to push aside a spectre that had suddenly risen from the grave, and was now opening its arms to seize her, and carry her off.

Bertolle’s arm. “She also,” muttered Sarah,--“she too!” The terrible truth broke at last upon her mind: she saw the snare in which she had been caught, and felt that she was lost. Then turning to Daniel, she said to him,-- “Poor man!

It was not in your loyal heart to plan such treachery against a woman. “All the outer doors are guarded.” But she had not meant to escape. She looked defiantly all around her, and said in a mocking tone of voice,-- “I have loved; and now I can die.

Planix, Malgat, and Kergrist ought to have taught me what becomes of people who really love.” Then looking at Daniel, she went on,-- “And you--you will know what you have lost when I am no more. You triumph now, Henrietta; but remember, that between your lips and Daniel’s there will forever rise the shadow of Sarah Brandon.” As she said the last words, she raised a small phial, which she held in her hand, with an indescribably swift movement to her lips: she drank the contents, and, sinking into a chair, said,-- “Now I defy you all!” “Ah, she escapes after all!” exclaimed Malgat, “she escapes from justice!” He rushed forward to assist her; but Daniel stepped between, and said,-- “Let her die.” Already horrible convulsions began to seize her; and the penetrating smell of bitter almonds, which slowly filled the whole room, told but too plainly that the poison which she had taken was one of those from which there is no rescue. She was carried to her bed; and in less than ten minutes she was dead: she had never uttered another word. Bertolle were kneeling by the side of the bed, and the count was sobbing in a corner of the room, when a police-sergeant entered. “The woman Brian is not to be found,” he said; “but M. “Then I have nothing more to do here.” He was going out, when Malgat stopped him. “I wish to state that I am not Ravinet, dealer in curiosities; but that my true name is Malgat, formerly cashier of the Mutual Discount Society, sentenced in contumaciam to ten years’ penal servitude. I am ready to be tried, and place myself in your hands.” XXXIII. The magistrate from Saigon saw his hopes fulfilled, and, thanks to his promotion, was commissioned to continue the trial which he had so ably commenced.

After the jury had brought in their verdict of guilty, he sentenced Justin Chevassat, alias Maxime de Brevan, to penal servitude for life. It excited especial surprise when it was found out that he had issued false shares, which he made Count Ville-Handry buy in, so as to ruin, by the same process, the count as an individual, and the company over which he presided. He was sent for twenty years to the penitentiary. They saved the poor count; but they revealed, at the same time, such prodigious unfitness for business, that people began to suspect how dependent he must have been on his first wife, Henrietta’s mother. They had made Thomas Elgin refund, and had even obtained possession of Sarah Brandon’s fortune; but the count was called upon to make amends for his want of business capacity. When he had satisfied all his creditors, and handed over to his daughter a part of her maternal inheritance, he had hardly more than six thousand dollars a year left. Malgat, having surrendered to justice with the prescribed limits of time to purge himself, was tried, and the whole process begun anew. His own lawyer had very little to say. The state attorney himself made his defense. After having fully explained the circumstances which had led the poor cashier to permit a crime, rather than to commit it himself, the attorney said to the jury,-- “Now, gentlemen, that you have learned what was the wrong of which he is guilty, you ought also to know how he has expiated his crime.

“When he left the miserable woman who had ruined him, maddened by grief, and determined to end his life, Malgat went home. “She had soon forced her brother to confess his fatal secret, and, overcoming the horror she naturally felt, she found words, inspired by her excellent heart, which moved him, and led him to reconsider his resolve. She told him that suicide was but an additional crime, and that he was in honor bound to live, so that he might make amends, and restore the money he had stolen.” “Hope began to rise once more in his heart, and filled him with unexpected energy. And yet what obstacles he had to encounter! How could he ever hope to return four hundred thousand francs. How should he go about to earn so much money?

How could he do anything, now that he was compelled to live in concealment? She had a moderate income from state bonds; she sold them all, and carried the proceeds to the president of the Mutual Discount Society, begging him to be patient as to the remainder, and promising that he should be repaid, capital and interest alike. She asked for nothing but secrecy; and he pledged himself to secrecy. “And this day, gentlemen, Malgat owes nothing to the society; he has paid everything. And this place in court, where he now sits as a prisoner, will become to him a place of honor, in which he will recover his position in society, and his honor.” Malgat was acquitted. Daniel’s groomsmen were Malgat and the old chief surgeon of the frigate “Conquest.” Several persons noticed that the bride wore, contrary to usage, a dress of embroidered muslin. It was the robe which Henrietta had so often covered with her tears, at the time when, having no bread for the morrow, she had tried to live by the work of her hands. /

Wishes to avoid observation, I suppose.I--I--really, sir, I need not tell you all my ailments." "And the maid had removed it?" "So I presume; she must have taken it out of the bag in the first instance." "And then kept it?" "That is what I can only suppose." "Ah!" CHAPTER VII When the Judge had brought down the interrogation of the Countess to the production of the small glass bottle, he paused, and with a long-drawn "Ah!" of satisfaction, looked round at his colleagues. There were certain formalities, I suppose." For once the detective cursed in his heart the red-tape, roundabout ways of French officialism.

"It is the fault of that brute of a detective, I suppose. Wishes to avoid observation, I suppose. /

Perhaps it contains the clew to the mystery.you will not be intruded upon, monsieur; his room contains four beds, but they are just now unoccupied.' When Antonin saw the judge enter, followed by a little weazened man in black, with a portfolio under his arm, he at once knew what he had come for. Perhaps it contains the clew to the mystery. 'Please be so good, monsieur, as to explain what you----' 'It also contains,' continued M. I left it in the hands of the city authorities; it contains my name, age, profession, domicile, and every detail--' With an angry gesture, M.

If she does not give it up willingly, use force: so that you get it, that is the point; then open the safe, and take out every franc it contains.

He was like a man who is told that the exquisite wine he has drank contains poison.

/

you won’t?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. That’s your system; but, with me, it won’t succeed. You know very well that he won’t bring any action against me--unfortunately. He wondered if he were not the victim of some absurd nightmare--if his senses were not playing him false. 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. “Double it and you won’t come up to the mark.

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? I know one person who won’t be pleased.” “Who, pray?” “Ninette Simplon.” M.

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. 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. 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.

“How do other people manage?” he wondered. From what I know of her, I am inclined to think that she won’t. You won’t leave me in suspense for forty-eight hours?” “It is unavoidable. 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. 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.

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. According to the latest accounts, the baron had the advantage; he had won about two hundred and eighty thousand francs. “It is too late--he won’t come!” she murmured. 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. 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. “If it fails, it won’t be from any fault of mine,” he answered with unmistakable petulance. “They won’t succeed in playing that game on me again. 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. 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.

But you won’t play this trick on me. you won’t? 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. 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 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. 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?

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. 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. “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? 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. 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. “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. Fortunat’s wonderful sofa completely. 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.

“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. 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. And, imitating the whistle of a locomotive with wonderful perfection, he darted away at a pace which augured a speedy return. “Is there some one there as well, then?” Chupin wondered. 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. 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. “How the Marquis de Valorsay has kept his head above water is a wonder to me,” he continued.

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 won’t rest until I see him ruined.” Mademoiselle Marguerite was partially reassured, for she understood his zeal now. 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! “I won’t discuss this question, my son,” she interrupted, “but take care. “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.

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. “What the devil is he doing?” wondered Pascal, who was following his enemy’s slightest movement with eager curiosity. 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.

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. 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. But I fear he won’t go to Madame d’Argeles’s 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. 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. He is a clever fellow, honest, intelligent, and well up in his business--such a man as you will need, in fact, and I won’t try to conceal the fact that the hope of entering your service has aided considerably in unloosening his tongue.” M. “I never deny my words,” replied the valet, “and since monsieur is the heir to the property, I won’t hesitate to tell him that immense sums have been stolen from the late count’s estate.” M.

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. 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.

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. “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. 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? 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.

If I had won, you would have been at my feet; but I have lost and you spurn me. /

The old villain!The old villain! /

How canst thou tranquilly sleep?We had been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now arose for the purpose of lighting a lamp, but sat down again, without doing so, upon G.’s saying that he had called to consult us, or rather to ask the opinion of my friend, about some official business which had occasioned a great deal of trouble. The fact is, the business is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt that we can manage it sufficiently well ourselves; but then I thought Dupin would like to hear the details of it, because it is so excessively odd.” “Simple and odd,” said Dupin. My first care was to make thorough search of the minister’s hotel; and here my chief embarrassment lay in the necessity of searching without his knowledge. I fancy that I have investigated every nook and corner of the premises in which it is possible that the paper can be concealed.” “But is it not possible,” I suggested, “that although the letter may be in possession of the minister, as it unquestionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere than upon his own premises?” “This is barely possible,” said Dupin. “D--, I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, if not, must have anticipated these waylayings, as a matter of course.” “Not altogether a fool,” said G., “but then he’s a poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.” “True,” said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff from his meerschaum, “although I have been guilty of certain doggrel myself.” “Suppose you detail,” said I, “the particulars of your search.” “Why the fact is, we took our time, and we searched every where. Besides, in our case, we were obliged to proceed without noise.” “But you could not have removed--you could not have taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which it would have been possible to make a deposit in the manner you mention. “Why, a very great deal--a very liberal reward--I don’t like to say how much, precisely; but one thing I will say, that I wouldn’t mind giving my individual check for fifty thousand francs to any one who could obtain me that letter. I would really give fifty thousand francs to any one who would aid me in the matter.” “In that case,” replied Dupin, opening a drawer, and producing a check-book, “you may as well fill me up a check for the amount mentioned. For some minutes he remained speechless and motionless, looking incredulously at my friend with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting from their sockets; then, apparently recovering himself in some measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and vacant stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty thousand francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin.

This functionary grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with a trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then, scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length unceremoniously from the room and from the house, without having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested him to fill up the check. Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first, he would have reasoned thus: ‘This fellow finds that in the first instance I guessed odd, and, in the second, he will propose to himself, upon the first impulse, a simple variation from even to odd, as did the first simpleton; but then a second thought will suggest that this is too simple a variation, and finally he will decide upon putting it even as before.

Now this mode of reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows termed ‘lucky,’--what, in its last analysis, is it?” “It is merely,” I said, “an identification of the reasoner’s intellect with that of his opponent.” “It is,” said Dupin; “and, upon inquiring of the boy by what means he effected the thorough identification in which his success consisted, I received answer as follows: ‘When I wish to find out how wise, or how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his thoughts at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face, as accurately as possible, in accordance with the expression of his, and then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or heart, as if to match or correspond with the expression.’ This response of the schoolboy lies at the bottom of all the spurious profundity which has been attributed to Rochefoucault, to La Bougive, to Machiavelli, and to Campanella.” “And the identification,” I said, “of the reasoner’s intellect with that of his opponent, depends, if I understand you aright, upon the accuracy with which the opponent’s intellect is admeasured.” “For its practical value it depends upon this,” replied Dupin; “and the Prefect and his cohort fail so frequently, first, by default of this identification, and, secondly, by ill-admeasurement, or rather through non-admeasurement, of the intellect with which they are engaged. They have no variation of principle in their investigations; at best, when urged by some unusual emergency--by some extraordinary reward--they extend or exaggerate their old modes of practice, without touching their principles. Do you not see he has taken it for granted that all men proceed to conceal a letter,--not exactly in a gimlet hole bored in a chair-leg--but, at least, in some out-of-the-way hole or corner suggested by the same tenor of thought which would urge a man to secrete a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg? Bryant, in his very learned ‘Mythology,’ mentions an analogous source of error, when he says that ‘although the Pagan fables are not believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences from them as existing realities.’ With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the ‘Pagan fables’ are believed, and the inferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through an unaccountable addling of the brains.

I felt, also, that the whole train of thought, which I was at some pains in detailing to you just now, concerning the invariable principle of policial action in searches for articles concealed--I felt that this whole train of thought would necessarily pass through the mind of the Minister. I really thought he would have fallen into convulsions.” “The material world,” continued Dupin, “abounds with very strict analogies to the immaterial; and thus some color of truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma, that metaphor, or simile, may be made to strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a description. Again: have you ever noticed which of the street signs, over the shop-doors, are the most attractive of attention?” “I have never given the matter a thought,” I said. He never once thought it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it. It proved, however, to have been without ball, and the fellow was suffered to go his way as a lunatic or a drunkard. His hotel, too, is not without attendants devoted to his interests. I confess, however, that I should like very well to know the precise character of his thoughts, when, being defied by her whom the Prefect terms ‘a certain personage’ he is reduced to opening the letter which I left for him in the card-rack.” “How? So, as I knew he would feel some curiosity in regard to the identity of the person who had outwitted him, I thought it a pity not to give him a clue. They are to be found in Crebillon’s ‘Atrée.’” THE THOUSAND-AND-SECOND TALE OF SCHEHERAZADE Truth is stranger than fiction. Accordingly, and although we do not find it to be leap-year (which makes the sacrifice more meritorious), she deputes her father, the grand vizier, to make an offer to the king of her hand.

On the night of the wedding, she contrived, upon I forget what specious pretence, to have her sister occupy a couch sufficiently near that of the royal pair to admit of easy conversation from bed to bed; and, a little before cock-crowing, she took care to awaken the good monarch, her husband (who bore her none the worse will because he intended to wring her neck on the morrow),--she managed to awaken him, I say, (although on account of a capital conscience and an easy digestion, he slept well) by the profound interest of a story (about a rat and a black cat, I think) which she was narrating (all in an undertone, of course) to her sister. The next night there happened a similar accident with a similar result; and then the next--and then again the next; so that, in the end, the good monarch, having been unavoidably deprived of all opportunity to keep his vow during a period of no less than one thousand and one nights, either forgets it altogether by the expiration of this time, or gets himself absolved of it in the regular way, or (what is more probable) breaks it outright, as well as the head of his father confessor. “My dear sister,” said she, on the thousand-and-second night, (I quote the language of the “Isitsoornot” at this point, verbatim) “my dear sister,” said she, “now that all this little difficulty about the bowstring has blown over, and that this odious tax is so happily repealed, I feel that I have been guilty of great indiscretion in withholding from you and the king (who I am sorry to say, snores--a thing no gentleman would do) the full conclusion of Sinbad the sailor. But even yet it is not too late to remedy my great neglect--and as soon as I have given the king a pinch or two in order to wake him up so far that he may stop making that horrible noise, I will forthwith entertain you (and him if he pleases) with the sequel of this very remarkable story.” Hereupon the sister of Scheherazade, as I have it from the “Isitsoornot,” expressed no very particular intensity of gratification; but the king, having been sufficiently pinched, at length ceased snoring, and finally said, “hum!” and then “hoo!” when the queen, understanding these words (which are no doubt Arabic) to signify that he was all attention, and would do his best not to snore any more--the queen, I say, having arranged these matters to her satisfaction, re-entered thus, at once, into the history of Sinbad the sailor: “‘At length, in my old age,’ --‘at length, in my old age, and after enjoying many years of tranquillity at home, I became once more possessed of a desire of visiting foreign countries; and one day, without acquainting any of my family with my design, I packed up some bundles of such merchandise as was most precious and least bulky, and, engaged a porter to carry them, went with him down to the sea-shore, to await the arrival of any chance vessel that might convey me out of the kingdom into some region which I had not as yet explored. “‘Although this beast approached us, as I have before said, with the greatest rapidity, it must have been moved altogether by necromancy--for it had neither fins like a fish nor web-feet like a duck, nor wings like the seashell which is blown along in the manner of a vessel; nor yet did it writhe itself forward as do the eels. On the very tips of their heads were certain square-looking boxes, which, at first sight, I thought might have been intended to answer as turbans, but I soon discovered that they were excessively heavy and solid, and I therefore concluded they were contrivances designed, by their great weight, to keep the heads of the animals steady and safe upon their shoulders.

Around the necks of the creatures were fastened black collars, (badges of servitude, no doubt,) such as we keep on our dogs, only much wider and infinitely stiffer, so that it was quite impossible for these poor victims to move their heads in any direction without moving the body at the same time; and thus they were doomed to perpetual contemplation of their noses--a view puggish and snubby in a wonderful, if not positively in an awful degree. “This account determined me to take to my heels, and, without once even looking behind me, I ran at full speed up into the hills, while the porter ran equally fast, although nearly in an opposite direction, so that, by these means, he finally made his escape with my bundles, of which I have no doubt he took excellent care--although this is a point I cannot determine, as I do not remember that I ever beheld him again. “‘Washish squashish squeak, Sinbad, hey-diddle diddle, grunt unt grumble, hiss, fiss, whiss,’ said he to me, one day after dinner--but I beg a thousand pardons, I had forgotten that your majesty is not conversant with the dialect of the Cock-neighs (so the man-animals were called; I presume because their language formed the connecting link between that of the horse and that of the rooster). Do you know I think them exceedingly entertaining and strange?” The king having thus expressed himself, we are told, the fair Scheherazade resumed her history in the following words: “Sinbad went on in this manner with his narrative to the caliph--‘I thanked the man-animal for its kindness, and soon found myself very much at home on the beast, which swam at a prodigious rate through the ocean; although the surface of the latter is, in that part of the world, by no means flat, but round like a pomegranate, so that we went--so to say--either up hill or down hill all the time.’ “That I think, was very singular,” interrupted the king.

Through it there meandered a glorious river for several thousands of miles. “‘We had scarcely lost sight of this empire when we found ourselves close upon another, from whose shores there flew over our heads a flock of fowls a mile in breadth, and two hundred and forty miles long; so that, although they flew a mile during every minute, it required no less than four hours for the whole flock to pass over us--in which there were several millions of millions of fowl.’” (*17) “Oh fy!” said the king. “‘I saw, also, among these people a hen without feathers, but bigger than a camel; instead of flesh and bone she had iron and brick; her blood, like that of the horse, (to whom, in fact, she was nearly related,) was boiling water; and like him she ate nothing but wood or black stones. (*22) Another of these magi constructed (of like material) a creature that put to shame even the genius of him who made it; for so great were its reasoning powers that, in a second, it performed calculations of so vast an extent that they would have required the united labor of fifty thousand fleshy men for a year.

(*23) But a still more wonderful conjuror fashioned for himself a mighty thing that was neither man nor beast, but which had brains of lead, intermixed with a black matter like pitch, and fingers that it employed with such incredible speed and dexterity that it would have had no trouble in writing out twenty thousand copies of the Koran in an hour, and this with so exquisite a precision, that in all the copies there should not be found one to vary from another by the breadth of the finest hair. (*24) Another had the faculty of converting the common metals into gold, without even looking at them during the process. “‘The wives and daughters of these incomparably great and wise magi,’” continued Scheherazade, without being in any manner disturbed by these frequent and most ungentlemanly interruptions on the part of her husband--“‘the wives and daughters of these eminent conjurers are every thing that is accomplished and refined; and would be every thing that is interesting and beautiful, but for an unhappy fatality that besets them, and from which not even the miraculous powers of their husbands and fathers has, hitherto, been adequate to save. Do you know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?” The “little cliff,” upon whose edge he had so carelessly thrown himself down to rest that the weightier portion of his body hung over it, while he was only kept from falling by the tenure of his elbow on its extreme and slippery edge--this “little cliff” arose, a sheer unobstructed precipice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen hundred feet from the world of crags beneath us. Although, at the time, so strong a gale was blowing landward that a brig in the remote offing lay to under a double-reefed trysail, and constantly plunged her whole hull out of sight, still there was here nothing like a regular swell, but only a short, quick, angry cross dashing of water in every direction--as well in the teeth of the wind as otherwise. These are the true names of the places--but why it has been thought necessary to name them at all, is more than either you or I can understand. Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied convulsion--heaving, boiling, hissing--gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes except in precipitous descents.

There are some passages of his description, nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, although their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the spectacle. “Between Lofoden and Moskoe,” he says, “the depth of the water is between thirty-six and forty fathoms; but on the other side, toward Ver (Vurrgh) this depth decreases so as not to afford a convenient passage for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, which happens even in the calmest weather. This opinion, idle in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my imagination most readily assented; and, mentioning it to the guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the view almost universally entertained of the subject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was not his own. There fish can be got at all hours, without much risk, and therefore these places are preferred. We never set out upon this expedition without a steady side wind for going and coming--one that we felt sure would not fail us before our return--and we seldom made a mis-calculation upon this point. Twice, during six years, we were forced to stay all night at anchor on account of a dead calm, which is a rare thing indeed just about here; and once we had to remain on the grounds nearly a week, starving to death, owing to a gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made the channel too boisterous to be thought of. “I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficulties we encountered ‘on the grounds’--it is a bad spot to be in, even in good weather--but we made shift always to run the gauntlet of the Moskoe-ström itself without accident; although at times my heart has been in my mouth when we happened to be a minute or so behind or before the slack.

The wind sometimes was not as strong as we thought it at starting, and then we made rather less way than we could wish, while the current rendered the smack unmanageable. These would have been of great assistance at such times, in using the sweeps, as well as afterward in fishing--but, somehow, although we ran the risk ourselves, we had not the heart to let the young ones get into the danger--for, after all is said and done, it was a horrible danger, and that is the truth. This was most unusual--something that had never happened to us before--and I began to feel a little uneasy, without exactly knowing why. ‘To be sure,’ I thought, ‘we shall get there just about the slack--there is some little hope in that’--but in the next moment I cursed myself for being so great a fool as to dream of hope at all. “I now made one or two attempts to speak to my brother--but, in some manner which I could not understand, the din had so increased that I could not make him hear a single word, although I screamed at the top of my voice in his ear. ‘ “At first I could not make out what he meant--but soon a hideous thought flashed upon me. At the same moment the roaring noise of the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill shriek--such a sound as you might imagine given out by the waste-pipes of many thousand steam-vessels, letting off their steam all together. We were now in the belt of surf that always surrounds the whirl; and I thought, of course, that another moment would plunge us into the abyss--down which we could only see indistinctly on account of the amazing velocity with which we wore borne along. These, no doubt, were singular fancies to occupy a man’s mind in such extremity--and I have often thought since, that the revolutions of the boat around the pool might have rendered me a little light-headed.

I never felt deeper grief than when I saw him attempt this act--although I knew he was a madman when he did it--a raving maniac through sheer fright. I muttered a hurried prayer to God, and thought all was over. I conceived it possible, in either instance, that they might thus be whirled up again to the level of the ocean, without undergoing the fate of those which had been drawn in more early, or absorbed more rapidly. Since my escape, I have had several conversations on this subject with an old school-master of the district; and it was from him that I learned the use of the words ‘cylinder’ and ‘sphere.’ He explained to me--although I have forgotten the explanation--how what I observed was, in fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating fragments--and showed me how it happened that a cylinder, swimming in a vortex, offered more resistance to its suction, and was drawn in with greater difficulty than an equally bulky body, of any form whatever. I thought at length that he comprehended my design--but, whether this was the case or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt. It was impossible to reach him; the emergency admitted of no delay; and so, with a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fastened myself to the cask by means of the lashings which secured it to the counter, and precipitated myself with it into the sea, without another moment’s hesitation.

53 and 82, that this illustrious chemist had not only conceived the idea now in question, but had actually made no inconsiderable progress, experimentally, in the very identical analysis now so triumphantly brought to an issue by Von Kempelen, who although he makes not the slightest allusion to it, is, without doubt (I say it unhesitatingly, and can prove it, if required), indebted to the ‘Diary’ for at least the first hint of his own undertaking. Kissam, of Brunswick, Maine, appears to me, I confess, a little apocryphal, for several reasons; although there is nothing either impossible or very improbable in the statement made. ‘The Literary World’ speaks of him, confidently, as a native of Presburg (misled, perhaps, by the account in ‘The Home Journal’) but I am pleased in being able to state positively, since I have it from his own lips, that he was born in Utica, in the State of New York, although both his parents, I believe, are of Presburg descent.

This is about all that I personally know of the now immortal Von Kempelen; but I have thought that even these few details would have interest for the public. At length, looking under the bed, they saw a large, common hair trunk, without hinges, hasp, or lock, and with the top lying carelessly across the bottom portion. The supposed brass with which it was filled was all in small, smooth pieces, varying from the size of a pea to that of a dollar; but the pieces were irregular in shape, although more or less flat-looking, upon the whole, ‘very much as lead looks when thrown upon the ground in a molten state, and there suffered to grow cool.’ Now, not one of these officers for a moment suspected this metal to be any thing but brass. And their astonishment may be well conceived, when the next day it became known, all over Bremen, that the ‘lot of brass’ which they had carted so contemptuously to the police office, without putting themselves to the trouble of pocketing the smallest scrap, was not only gold--real gold--but gold far finer than any employed in coinage-gold, in fact, absolutely pure, virgin, without the slightest appreciable alloy. I am impelled, even in the teeth of a world of prejudice, to detail without comment the very remarkable substance of a colloquy, occurring between a sleep-waker and myself. As I entered his room he greeted me with a cheerful smile, and although evidently in much bodily pain, appeared to be, mentally, quite at ease.

These gradations of matter increase in rarity or fineness, until we arrive at a matter unparticled--without particles--indivisible--one and here the law of impulsion and permeation is modified. What men attempt to embody in the word “thought,” is this matter in motion.

For although we may admit infinite littleness in the atoms themselves, the infinitude of littleness in the spaces between them is an absurdity. P. You assert, then, that the unparticled matter, in motion, is thought? V. In general, this motion is the universal thought of the universal mind. This thought creates. All created things are but the thoughts of God. Now, the particular motion of the incarnated portions of the unparticled matter is the thought of man; as the motion of the whole is that of God. Creatures are thoughts of God. It is the nature of thought to be irrevocable.

V. When I say that it resembles death, I mean that it resembles the ultimate life; for when I am entranced the senses of my rudimental life are in abeyance, and I perceive external things directly, without organs, through a medium which I shall employ in the ultimate, unorganized life. The motion of this latter is thought, of which perception is the first undulation. I say to my surprise, for, although he had always yielded his person freely to my experiments, he had never before given me any tokens of sympathy with what I did. He spoke with distinctness--took some palliative medicines without aid--and, when I entered the room, was occupied in penciling memoranda in a pocket-book. He was evidently influenced with the first lateral stroke of my hand across his forehead; but although I exerted all my powers, no further perceptible effect was induced until some minutes after ten o’clock, when Doctors D-- and F-- called, according to appointment. I explained to them, in a few words, what I designed, and as they opposed no objection, saying that the patient was already in the death agony, I proceeded without hesitation--exchanging, however, the lateral passes for downward ones, and directing my gaze entirely into the right eye of the sufferer. At the expiration of this period, however, a natural although a very deep sigh escaped the bosom of the dying man, and the stertorous breathing ceased--that is to say, its stertorousness was no longer apparent; the intervals were undiminished. In such experiments with this patient I had never perfectly succeeded before, and assuredly I had little thought of succeeding now; but to my astonishment, his arm very readily, although feebly, followed every direction I assigned it with mine. There were two particulars, nevertheless, which I thought then, and still think, might fairly be stated as characteristic of the intonation--as well adapted to convey some idea of its unearthly peculiarity.

For nearly an hour, we busied ourselves, silently--without the utterance of a word--in endeavors to revive Mr. To queries put to him by any other person than myself he seemed utterly insensible--although I endeavored to place each member of the company in mesmeric rapport with him. Valdemar, can you explain to us what are your feelings or wishes now?” There was an instant return of the hectic circles on the cheeks; the tongue quivered, or rather rolled violently in the mouth (although the jaws and lips remained rigid as before;) and at length the same hideous voice which I have already described, broke forth: “For God’s sake!--quick!--quick!--put me to sleep--or, quick!--waken me!--quick!--I say to you that I am dead!” I was thoroughly unnerved, and for an instant remained undecided what to do. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. Although I thus readily accounted to my reason, if not altogether to my conscience, for the startling fact just detailed, it did not the less fail to make a deep impression upon my fancy. Pluto had not a white hair upon any portion of his body; but this cat had a large, although indefinite splotch of white, covering nearly the whole region of the breast. At such times, although I longed to destroy it with a blow, I was yet withheld from so doing, partly by a memory of my former crime, but chiefly--let me confess it at once--by absolute dread of the beast. The reader will remember that this mark, although large, had been originally very indefinite; but, by slow degrees--degrees nearly imperceptible, and which for a long time my Reason struggled to reject as fanciful--it had, at length, assumed a rigorous distinctness of outline.

Evil thoughts became my sole intimates--the darkest and most evil of thoughts.

She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan. I knew that I could not remove it from the house, either by day or by night, without the risk of being observed by the neighbors.

At one period I thought of cutting the corpse into minute fragments, and destroying them by fire. Of my own thoughts it is folly to speak. There was an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart--an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the sublime.

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, yet I really knew little of my friend. It was this deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the other--it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the consequent undeviating transmission, from sire to son, of the patrimony with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the “House of Usher”--an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion. His countenance, I thought, wore a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity. Upon my entrance, Usher arose from a sofa on which he had been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality--of the constrained effort of the ennuyé man of the world. Some of these, as he detailed them, interested and bewildered me; although, perhaps, the terms, and the general manner of the narration had their weight. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul. He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more natural and far more palpable origin--to the severe and long-continued illness--indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution--of a tenderly beloved sister--his sole companion for long years--his last and only relative on earth. “Her decease,” he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, “would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers.” While he spoke, the lady Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my presence, disappeared.

A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis. One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without interruption or device. In the monarch Thought’s dominion-- It stood there! I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad, led us into a train of thought wherein there became manifest an opinion of Usher’s which I mention not so much on account of its novelty, (for other men * have thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with which he maintained it.

The vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light; lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the building in which was my own sleeping apartment. A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them. There were times, indeed, when I thought his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with some oppressive secret, to divulge which he struggled for the necessary courage. A whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity; for there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind; and the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not prevent our perceiving the life-like velocity with which they flew careering from all points against each other, without passing away into the distance. Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative run thus: “And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and who was now mighty withal, on account of the powerfulness of the wine which he had drunken, waited no longer to hold parley with the hermit, who, in sooth, was of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but, feeling the rain upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and, with blows, made quickly room in the plankings of the door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the dry and hollow-sounding wood alarummed and reverberated throughout the forest.” At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment, paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me)--it appeared to me that, from some very remote portion of the mansion, there came, indistinctly, to my ears, what might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. I continued the story: “But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the door, was sore enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit; but, in the stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious demeanor, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this legend enwritten-- Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin; Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win; And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never before heard.” Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild amazement--for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating sound--the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up for the dragon’s unnatural shriek as described by the romancer. Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of this second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, the sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no means certain that he had noticed the sounds in question; although, assuredly, a strange alteration had, during the last few minutes, taken place in his demeanor.

From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring inaudibly. I tell you that she now stands without the door!” As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found the potency of a spell--the huge antique pannels to which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust--but then without those doors there did stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened--there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind--the entire orb of the satellite burst at once upon my sight--my brain reeled as I saw the mighty walls rushing asunder--there was a long tumultuous shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters--and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the “House of Usher.” SILENCE--A FABLE ALCMAN. And his brow was lofty with thought, and his eye wild with care; and, in the few furrows upon his cheek I read the fables of sorrow, and weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a longing after solitude. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. Without was the “Red Death.” It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.

There are some who would have thought him mad. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion.

THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the thought of his immolation. He had a weak point--this Fortunato--although in other regards he was a man to be respected and even feared.

I was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should never have done wringing his hand. And in the middle of the carnival!” “I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. When at last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the recess: but the thought of an instant reassured me. In pace requiescat! THE IMP OF THE PERVERSE IN THE consideration of the faculties and impulses--of the prima mobilia of the human soul, the phrenologists have failed to make room for a propensity which, although obviously existing as a radical, primitive, irreducible sentiment, has been equally overlooked by all the moralists who have preceded them. If we cannot comprehend God in his visible works, how then in his inconceivable thoughts, that call the works into being? In the sense I intend, it is, in fact, a mobile without motive, a motive not motivirt. Through its promptings we act without comprehensible object; or, if this shall be understood as a contradiction in terms, we may so far modify the proposition as to say, that through its promptings we act, for the reason that we should not. The speaker is aware that he displeases; he has every intention to please, he is usually curt, precise, and clear, the most laconic and luminous language is struggling for utterance upon his tongue, it is only with difficulty that he restrains himself from giving it flow; he dreads and deprecates the anger of him whom he addresses; yet, the thought strikes him, that by certain involutions and parentheses this anger may be engendered.

That single thought is enough. But out of this our cloud upon the precipice’s edge, there grows into palpability, a shape, far more terrible than any genius or any demon of a tale, and yet it is but a thought, although a fearful one, and one which chills the very marrow of our bones with the fierceness of the delight of its horror. To indulge, for a moment, in any attempt at thought, is to be inevitably lost; for reflection but urges us to forbear, and therefore it is, I say, that we cannot. I rejected a thousand schemes, because their accomplishment involved a chance of detection. But there arrived at length an epoch, from which the pleasurable feeling grew, by scarcely perceptible gradations, into a haunting and harassing thought. Every succeeding wave of thought overwhelmed me with new terror, for, alas! For a moment I experienced all the pangs of suffocation; I became blind, and deaf, and giddy; and then some invisible fiend, I thought, struck me with his broad palm upon the back. I love, indeed, to regard the dark valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently smile, and the forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the proud watchful mountains that look down upon all,--I love to regard these as themselves but the colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole--a whole whose form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most inclusive of all; whose path is among associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the moon, whose mediate sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity, whose thought is that of a God; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies are lost in immensity, whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our own cognizance of the animalculae which infest the brain--a being which we, in consequence, regard as purely inanimate and material much in the same manner as these animalculae must thus regard us.

The cycles in which the stars move are those best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of the greatest possible number of bodies. As we find cycle within cycle without end,--yet all revolving around one far-distant centre which is the God-head, may we not analogically suppose in the same manner, life within life, the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine? My wanderings amid such scenes have been many, and far-searching, and often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many a dim, deep valley, or gazed into the reflected Heaven of many a bright lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have strayed and gazed alone. There seemed a deep sense of life and joy about all; and although no airs blew from out the heavens, yet every thing had motion through the gentle sweepings to and fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mistaken for tulips with wings. The grass wore the deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung droopingly, and hither and thither among it were many small unsightly hillocks, low and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of graves, but were not; although over and all about them the rue and the rosemary clambered. Once more thy form hath risen before me!--not--oh not as thou art--in the cold valley and shadow--but as thou shouldst be--squandering away a life of magnificent meditation in that city of dim visions, thine own Venice--which is a star-beloved Elysium of the sea, and the wide windows of whose Palladian palaces look down with a deep and bitter meaning upon the secrets of her silent waters. I repeat it--as thou shouldst be. There are surely other worlds than this--other thoughts than the thoughts of the multitude--other speculations than the speculations of the sophist. Like some huge and sable-feathered condor, we were slowly drifting down towards the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux flashing from the windows, and down the staircases of the Ducal Palace, turned all at once that deep gloom into a livid and preternatural day. The quiet waters had closed placidly over their victim; and, although my own gondola was the only one in sight, many a stout swimmer, already in the stream, was seeking in vain upon the surface, the treasure which was to be found, alas!

Yon dark, gloomy niche, too, yawns right opposite her chamber window--what, then, could there be in its shadows--in its architecture--in its ivy-wreathed and solemn cornices--that the Marchesa di Mentoni had not wondered at a thousand times before? “Thou hast conquered,” she said, or the murmurs of the water deceived me; “thou hast conquered--one hour after sunrise--we shall meet--so let it be!” * * * * * The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away within the palace, and the stranger, whom I now recognized, stood alone upon the flags.

In height he might have been below rather than above the medium size: although there were moments of intense passion when his frame actually expanded and belied the assertion. The light, almost slender symmetry of his figure, promised more of that ready activity which he evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean strength which he has been known to wield without an effort, upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he solicited me, in what I thought an urgent manner, to call upon him very early the next morning. Although, as I say, the sun had arisen, yet the room was still brilliantly lighted up.

Glancing to and fro, in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from their cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams of natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the artificial light, and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold. Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and shrines to a thousand different divinities. “It is Guido’s own!--how could you have obtained it?--she is undoubtedly in painting what the Venus is in sculpture.” “Ha!” said he thoughtfully, “the Venus--the beautiful Venus?--the Venus of the Medici?--she of the diminutive head and the gilded hair? Then Michael Angelo was by no means original in his couplet-- ‘Non ha l’ottimo artista alcun concetto Che un marmo solo in se non circunscriva.’” It has been, or should be remarked, that, in the manner of the true gentleman, we are always aware of a difference from the bearing of the vulgar, without being at once precisely able to determine in what such difference consists. Nor can I better define that peculiarity of spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart from all other human beings, than by calling it a habit of intense and continual thought, pervading even his most trivial actions--intruding upon his moments of dalliance--and interweaving itself with his very flashes of merriment--like adders which writhe from out the eyes of the grinning masks in the cornices around the temples of Persepolis. It was a passage towards the end of the third act--a passage of the most heart-stirring excitement--a passage which, although tainted with impurity, no man shall read without a thrill of novel emotion--no woman without a sigh. The whole page was blotted with fresh tears; and, upon the opposite interleaf, were the following English lines, written in a hand so very different from the peculiar characters of my acquaintance, that I had some difficulty in recognising it as his own:-- Thou wast that all to me, love, For which my soul did pine-- A green isle in the sea, love, A fountain and a shrine, All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers; And all the flowers were mine.

I might as well here mention, that I have more than once heard, (without, of course, giving credit to a report involving so many improbabilities,) that the person of whom I speak, was not only by birth, but in education, an Englishman. * * * * * “There is one painting,” said he, without being aware of my notice of the tragedy--“there is still one painting which you have not seen.” And throwing aside a drapery, he discovered a full-length portrait of the Marchesa Aphrodite. And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there must be in the grave. The thought came gently and stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained full appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the judges vanished, as if magically, from before me; the tall candles sank into nothingness; their flames went out utterly; the blackness of darkness supervened; all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing descent as of the soul into Hades.

Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavors to remember; amid earnest struggles to regather some token of the state of seeming nothingness into which my soul had lapsed, there have been moments when I have dreamed of success; there have been brief, very brief periods when I have conjured up remembrances which the lucid reason of a later epoch assures me could have had reference only to that condition of seeming unconsciousness. Then the mere consciousness of existence, without thought--a condition which lasted long. Then, very suddenly, thought, and shuddering terror, and earnest endeavor to comprehend my true state. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. And now, as I still continued to step cautiously onward, there came thronging upon my recollection a thousand vague rumors of the horrors of Toledo. This process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining the dimensions of my dungeon; as I might make its circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, without being aware of the fact; so perfectly uniform seemed the wall. I had thought of forcing the blade in some minute crevice of the masonry, so as to identify my point of departure.

The difficulty, nevertheless, was but trivial; although, in the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. So, at least I thought: but I had not counted upon the extent of the dungeon, or upon my own weakness. At first I proceeded with extreme caution, for the floor, although seemingly of solid material, was treacherous with slime. It was this--my chin rested upon the floor of the prison, but my lips and the upper portion of my head, although seemingly at a less elevation than the chin, touched nothing. I half smiled in my agony as I thought of such application of such a term. As I put a portion of it within my lips, there rushed to my mind a half formed thought of joy--of hope. It was, as I say, a half formed thought--man has many such which are never completed.

And at this thought I paused. My eyes followed its outward or upward whirls with the eagerness of the most unmeaning despair; they closed themselves spasmodically at the descent, although death would have been a relief, oh! For the first time during many hours--or perhaps days--I thought. The whole thought was now present--feeble, scarcely sane, scarcely definite,--but still entire. “To what food,” I thought, “have they been accustomed in the well?” They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to prevent them, all but a small remnant of the contents of the dish. Observing that I remained without motion, one or two of the boldest leaped upon the frame-work, and smelt at the surcingle. With that thought I rolled my eves nervously around on the barriers of iron that hemmed me in. I have observed that, although the outlines of the figures upon the walls were sufficiently distinct, yet the colors seemed blurred and indefinite. Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity, glared upon me in a thousand directions, where none had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination to regard as unreal.

Amid the thought of the fiery destruction that impended, the idea of the coolness of the well came over my soul like balm.

There was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders!

Gradually, however, he fell into a more and more hopeless state of stupor, and, finally, it was thought that he died. He was forthwith conveyed to the nearest hospital, and there pronounced to be still living, although in an asphytic condition. The day was about to dawn; and it was thought expedient, at length, to proceed at once to the dissection. Stapleton was alive, although in a swoon. When we reflect how very rarely, from the nature of the case, we have it in our power to detect them, we must admit that they may frequently occur without our cognizance. It may be asserted, without hesitation, that no event is so terribly well adapted to inspire the supremeness of bodily and of mental distress, as is burial before death.

The unendurable oppression of the lungs--the stifling fumes from the damp earth--the clinging to the death garments--the rigid embrace of the narrow house--the blackness of the absolute Night--the silence like a sea that overwhelms--the unseen but palpable presence of the Conqueror Worm--these things, with the thoughts of the air and grass above, with memory of dear friends who would fly to save us if but informed of our fate, and with consciousness that of this fate they can never be informed--that our hopeless portion is that of the really dead--these considerations, I say, carry into the heart, which still palpitates, a degree of appalling and intolerable horror from which the most daring imagination must recoil. Although both the immediate and the predisposing causes, and even the actual diagnosis, of this disease are still mysterious, its obvious and apparent character is sufficiently well understood. The first manifestations, although marked, are unequivocal. Sometimes, without any apparent cause, I sank, little by little, into a condition of hemi-syncope, or half swoon; and, in this condition, without pain, without ability to stir, or, strictly speaking, to think, but with a dull lethargic consciousness of life and of the presence of those who surrounded my bed, I remained, until the crisis of the disease restored me, suddenly, to perfect sensation. When the grim Darkness overspread the Earth, then, with every horror of thought, I shook--shook as the quivering plumes upon the hearse. Methought I was immersed in a cataleptic trance of more than usual duration and profundity. While I remained motionless, and busied in endeavors to collect my thought, the cold hand grasped me fiercely by the wrist, shaking it petulantly, while the gibbering voice said again: “Arise!

did I not bid thee arise?” “And who,” I demanded, “art thou?” “I have no name in the regions which I inhabit,” replied the voice, mournfully; “I was mortal, but am fiend. Thou dost feel that I shudder.--My teeth chatter as I speak, yet it is not with the chilliness of the night--of the night without end. How canst thou tranquilly sleep? Then, after a long interval, a ringing in the ears; then, after a lapse still longer, a prickling or tingling sensation in the extremities; then a seemingly eternal period of pleasurable quiescence, during which the awakening feelings are struggling into thought; then a brief re-sinking into non-entity; then a sudden recovery. For some minutes after this fancy possessed me, I remained without motion. And now, amid all my infinite miseries, came sweetly the cherub Hope--for I thought of my precautions. “What do you mean by yowling in that ere kind of style, like a cattymount?” said a fourth; and hereupon I was seized and shaken without ceremony, for several minutes, by a junto of very rough-looking individuals. Nevertheless, I slept soundly, and the whole of my vision--for it was no dream, and no nightmare--arose naturally from the circumstances of my position--from my ordinary bias of thought--and from the difficulty, to which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and especially of regaining my memory, for a long time after awaking from slumber. I thought upon other subjects than Death.

I read no “Night Thoughts”--no fustian about churchyards--no bugaboo tales--such as this.

An anxious examination of his career has given me to understand that in general, from the violation of a few simple laws of humanity arises the wretchedness of mankind--that as a species we have in our possession the as yet unwrought elements of content--and that, even now, in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous conditions, may be happy. The magnitude and the immediate availability of the sum bewildered all who thought on the topic. The possessor of any appreciable amount of money might have been imagined to perform any one of a thousand things. It was seen that, even at three per cent., the annual income of the inheritance amounted to no less than thirteen millions and five hundred thousand dollars; which was one million and one hundred and twenty-five thousand per month; or thirty-six thousand nine hundred and eighty-six per day; or one thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour; or six and twenty dollars for every minute that flew. Ellison became neither musician nor poet; although no man lived more profoundly enamored of music and poetry. Sculpture, although in its nature rigorously poetical was too limited in its extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much of his attention. My own thoughts on the subject had rested in the idea that the primitive intention of nature would have so arranged the earth’s surface as to have fulfilled at all points man’s sense of perfection in the beautiful, the sublime, or the picturesque; but that this primitive intention had been frustrated by the known geological disturbances--disturbances of form and color--grouping, in the correction or allaying of which lies the soul of art. Each alteration of the natural scenery may possibly effect a blemish in the picture, if we can suppose this picture viewed at large--in mass--from some point distant from the earth’s surface, although not beyond the limits of its atmosphere. What is said about detecting and bringing into practice nice relations of size, proportion, and color, is one of those mere vaguenesses of speech which serve to veil inaccuracy of thought. Now let us suppose this sense of the Almighty design to be one step depressed--to be brought into something like harmony or consistency with the sense of human art--to form an intermedium between the two:--let us imagine, for example, a landscape whose combined vastness and definitiveness--whose united beauty, magnificence, and strangeness, shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superintendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity--then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the art intervolved is made to assume the air of an intermediate or secondary nature--a nature which is not God, nor an emanation from God, but which still is nature in the sense of the handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God.” It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodiment of a vision such as this--in the free exercise in the open air ensured by the personal superintendence of his plans--in the unceasing object which these plans afforded--in the high spirituality of the object--in the contempt of ambition which it enabled him truly to feel--in the perennial springs with which it gratified, without possibility of satiating, that one master passion of his soul, the thirst for beauty, above all, it was in the sympathy of a woman, not unwomanly, whose loveliness and love enveloped his existence in the purple atmosphere of Paradise, that Ellison thought to find, and found, exemption from the ordinary cares of humanity, with a far greater amount of positive happiness than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams of De Stael.

A thousand spots with which I was enraptured he rejected without hesitation, for reasons which satisfied me, in the end, that he was right. The late death of my friend, in causing his domain to be thrown open to certain classes of visiters, has given to Arnheim a species of secret and subdued if not solemn celebrity, similar in kind, although infinitely superior in degree, to that which so long distinguished Fonthill. The stream took a thousand turns, so that at no moment could its gleaming surface be seen for a greater distance than a furlong. The channel now became a gorge--although the term is somewhat inapplicable, and I employ it merely because the language has no word which better represents the most striking--not the most distinctive--feature of the scene. The thought of nature still remained, but her character seemed to have undergone modification, there was a weird symmetry, a thrilling uniformity, a wizard propriety in these her works.

It was about two hundred yards in diameter, and girt in at all points but one--that immediately fronting the vessel as it entered--by hills equal in general height to the walls of the chasm, although of a thoroughly different character. But here the voyager quits the vessel which has borne him so far, and descends into a light canoe of ivory, stained with arabesque devices in vivid scarlet, both within and without. If I did not hit upon the village before sunset, or even before dark, it was more than possible that a little Dutch farmhouse, or something of that kind, would soon make its appearance--although, in fact, the neighborhood (perhaps on account of being more picturesque than fertile) was very sparsely inhabited.

The traces of light wheels were evident; and although the tall shrubberies and overgrown undergrowth met overhead, there was no obstruction whatever below, even to the passage of a Virginian mountain wagon--the most aspiring vehicle, I take it, of its kind. Another was a hickory, much larger than the elm, and altogether a much finer tree, although both were exceedingly beautiful: it seemed to have taken charge of the northwestern entrance, springing from a group of rocks in the very jaws of the ravine, and throwing its graceful body, at an angle of nearly forty-five degrees, far out into the sunshine of the amphitheatre. The innumerable blossoms, mingling with those of other trees scarcely less beautiful, although infinitely less majestic, filled the valley with more than Arabian perfumes. At this point, after a series of sweeps, it turned off at right angles and pursued a generally southern direction meandering as it went--until it became lost in a small lake of irregular figure (although roughly oval), that lay gleaming near the lower extremity of the vale. The point of view from which I first saw the valley, was not altogether, although it was nearly, the best point from which to survey the house. I did not remain very long on the brow of the hill, although long enough to make a thorough survey of the scene at my feet. It was clear that I had wandered from the road to the village, and I had thus good traveller’s excuse to open the gate before me, and inquire my way, at all events; so, without more ado, I proceeded. Its expanse was relieved merely by three of Julien’s exquisite lithographs a trois crayons, fastened to the wall without frames.

Oh, outcast of all outcasts most abandoned!--to the earth art thou not forever dead? I would have them allow--what they cannot refrain from allowing--that, although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, man was never thus, at least, tempted before--certainly, never thus fell. At this moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with undefinable delight, at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking, each hour, with sullen and sudden roar, upon the stillness of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic steeple lay imbedded and asleep.

This exception was found in the person of a scholar, who, although no relation, bore the same Christian and surname as myself;--a circumstance, in fact, little remarkable; for, notwithstanding a noble descent, mine was one of those everyday appellations which seem, by prescriptive right, to have been, time out of mind, the common property of the mob.

In his rivalry he might have been supposed actuated solely by a whimsical desire to thwart, astonish, or mortify myself; although there were times when I could not help observing, with a feeling made up of wonder, abasement, and pique, that he mingled with his injuries, his insults, or his contradictions, a certain most inappropriate, and assuredly most unwelcome affectionateness of manner. In a word, nothing could more seriously disturb me, (although I scrupulously concealed such disturbance,) than any allusion to a similarity of mind, person, or condition existing between us. My dress it was an easy matter to copy; my gait and general manner were, without difficulty, appropriated; in spite of his constitutional defect, even my voice did not escape him. I have said that, in the first years of our connexion as schoolmates, my feelings in regard to him might have been easily ripened into friendship: but, in the latter months of my residence at the academy, although the intrusion of his ordinary manner had, beyond doubt, in some measure, abated, my sentiments, in nearly similar proportion, partook very much of positive hatred. Bransby had also fitted up as dormitories; although, being the merest closets, they were capable of accommodating but a single individual. I gazed;--while my brain reeled with a multitude of incoherent thoughts. The vortex of thoughtless folly into which I there so immediately and so recklessly plunged, washed away all but the froth of my past hours, engulfed at once every solid or serious impression, and left to memory only the veriest levities of a former existence. Three years of folly, passed without profit, had but given me rooted habits of vice, and added, in a somewhat unusual degree, to my bodily stature, when, after a week of soulless dissipation, I invited a small party of the most dissolute students to a secret carousal in my chambers. Madly flushed with cards and intoxication, I was in the act of insisting upon a toast of more than wonted profanity, when my attention was suddenly diverted by the violent, although partial unclosing of the door of the apartment, and by the eager voice of a servant from without.

It was the pregnancy of solemn admonition in the singular, low, hissing utterance; and, above all, it was the character, the tone, the key, of those few, simple, and familiar, yet whispered syllables, which came with a thousand thronging memories of bygone days, and struck upon my soul with the shock of a galvanic battery. Although this event failed not of a vivid effect upon my disordered imagination, yet was it evanescent as vivid. The parvenu, who had been induced by my artifices in the early part of the evening, to drink deeply, now shuffled, dealt, or played, with a wild nervousness of manner for which his intoxication, I thought, might partially, but could not altogether account. Glendinning had been represented to my eager inquiries as immeasurably wealthy; and the sums which he had as yet lost, although in themselves vast, could not, I supposed, very seriously annoy, much less so violently affect him. The sentiment of deep awe with which I habitually regarded the elevated character, the majestic wisdom, the apparent omnipresence and omnipotence of Wilson, added to a feeling of even terror, with which certain other traits in his nature and assumptions inspired me, had operated, hitherto, to impress me with an idea of my own utter weakness and helplessness, and to suggest an implicit, although bitterly reluctant submission to his arbitrary will.

Be this as it may, I now began to feel the inspiration of a burning hope, and at length nurtured in my secret thoughts a stern and desperate resolution that I would submit no longer to be enslaved. Yet, henceforward art thou also dead--dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou exist--and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself.” THE TELL-TALE HEART.

To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel--although he neither saw nor heard--to feel the presence of my head within the room. When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little--a very, very little crevice in the lantern. I thought the heart must burst. They heard!--they suspected!--they knew!--they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think.

Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy land--into a palace of imagination--into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition--it is not singular that I gazed around me with a startled and ardent eye--that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and dissipated my youth in reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers--it is wonderful what stagnation there fell upon the springs of my life--wonderful how total an inversion took place in the character of my commonest thought. Yet differently we grew--I, ill of health, and buried in gloom--she, agile, graceful, and overflowing with energy; hers, the ramble on the hill-side--mine the studies of the cloister; I, living within my own heart, and addicted, body and soul, to the most intense and painful meditation--she, roaming carelessly through life, with no thought of the shadows in her path, or the silent flight of the raven-winged hours. Berenice!--I call upon her name--Berenice!--and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous recollections are startled at the sound! In my case, the primary object was invariably frivolous, although assuming, through the medium of my distempered vision, a refracted and unreal importance. And although, to a careless thinker, it might appear a matter beyond doubt, that the alteration produced by her unhappy malady, in the moral condition of Berenice, would afford me many objects for the exercise of that intense and abnormal meditation whose nature I have been at some trouble in explaining, yet such was not in any degree the case. Through the gray of the early morning--among the trellised shadows of the forest at noonday--and in the silence of my library at night--she had flitted by my eyes, and I had seen her--not as the living and breathing Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream; not as a being of the earth, earthy, but as the abstraction of such a being; not as a thing to admire, but to analyze; not as an object of love, but as the theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation. And at length the period of our nuptials was approaching, when, upon an afternoon in the winter of the year--one of those unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days which are the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon (*1),--I sat, (and sat, as I thought, alone,) in the inner apartment of the library. In the multiplied objects of the external world I had no thoughts but for the teeth. Des idees!--ah here was the idiotic thought that destroyed me! Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence--whether much that is glorious--whether all that is profound--does not spring from disease of thought--from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.

No path was trodden in its vicinity; and, to reach our happy home, there was need of putting back, with force, the foliage of many thousands of forest trees, and of crushing to death the glories of many millions of fragrant flowers.

Thus it was that we lived all alone, knowing nothing of the world without the valley--I, and my cousin, and her mother. Suddenly these manifestations they ceased, and the world grew dark before mine eyes, and I stood aghast at the burning thoughts which possessed, at the terrible temptations which beset me; for there came from some far, far distant and unknown land, into the gay court of the king I served, a maiden to whose beauty my whole recreant heart yielded at once--at whose footstool I bowed down without a struggle, in the most ardent, in the most abject worship of love. and as I looked down into the depths of her memorial eyes, I thought only of them--and of her.

And once--but once again in the silence of the night; there came through my lattice the soft sighs which had forsaken me; and they modelled themselves into familiar and sweet voice, saying: “Sleep in peace!--for the Spirit of Love reigneth and ruleth, and, in taking to thy passionate heart her who is Ermengarde, thou art absolved, for reasons which shall be made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora.” /

Please to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present occasion.” With those words he signed the paper in his turn.Though far from strong, and troubled occasionally with those fainting-fits already mentioned, she went about her work modestly and uncomplainingly, doing it carefully, and doing it well. Franklin’s careless question, and my foolish answer, as a consolation and encouragement to all stupid people--it being, as I have remarked, a great satisfaction to our inferior fellow-creatures to find that their betters are, on occasions, no brighter than they are. Also, that the story of the Colonel being sent away from his sister’s door, on the occasion of his niece’s birthday, seemed to strike Mr. “My looks, on this occasion at any rate, tell the truth.” “In that case,” says Mr.

And I desire that my said sister may be informed, by means of a true copy of this, the third and last clause of my Will, that I give the Diamond to her daughter Rachel, in token of my free forgiveness of the injury which her conduct towards me has been the means of inflicting on my reputation in my lifetime; and especially in proof that I pardon, as becomes a dying man, the insult offered to me as an officer and a gentleman, when her servant, by her orders, closed the door of her house against me, on the occasion of her daughter’s birthday.” More words followed these, providing if my lady was dead, or if Miss Rachel was dead, at the time of the testator’s decease, for the Diamond being sent to Holland, in accordance with the sealed instructions originally deposited with it. He had his French side, and his German side, and his Italian side--the original English foundation showing through, every now and then, as much as to say, “Here I am, sorely transmogrified, as you see, but there’s something of me left at the bottom of him still.” Miss Rachel used to remark that the Italian side of him was uppermost, on those occasions when he unexpectedly gave in, and asked you in his nice sweet-tempered way to take his own responsibilities on your shoulders. But, in my position in the household, waiting at dinner (except on high family festivals) was letting down my dignity in the eyes of the other servants--a thing which my lady considered me quite prone enough to do already, without seeking occasions for it.

I can call to mind, in her childhood, more than one occasion when the good little soul took the blame, and suffered the punishment, for some fault committed by a playfellow whom she loved. What my daughter told me, on the present occasion, was, as I suspected, more what she wished than what she really knew. He was summoned to prescribe for a person whom I have had occasion to present to you in these pages--our second housemaid, Rosanna Spearman. She was, after that, once or twice impudent to me, when I gave her a well-meant general hint to be careful in her conduct; and, worse still, she was not over-respectful now, on the few occasions when Miss Rachel accidentally spoke to her. He had arranged to stop at Frizinghall that night, having occasion to consult his father on business. A whiff of--you know what, and a turn at a certain book which I have had occasion to mention in these pages, composed me, body and mind. What passed between my mistress and me, on this occasion, was, in the main, a repetition of what had passed between Mr. On this occasion she was more particularly the centre-point towards which everybody’s eyes were directed; for (to my lady’s secret annoyance) she wore her wonderful birthday present, which eclipsed all the rest--the Moonstone. He sat down, looking dead tired; the talking on this birthday occasion had, I suppose, been too much for him.

I examined everything myself, and trusted nothing to my deputy on this occasion. Later still, at midnight, the police, having occasion to search the common lodging-house where they lived, had seen them all three again, and their little boy with them, as usual. Superintendent proved equal to the occasion; he looked at them with his resolute eye, and he cowed them with his military voice. The Sergeant went softly all over the Indian cabinet and all round the “boudoir;” asking questions (occasionally only of Mr. Later in the proceedings, I discovered that he only forgot his manners so far as to whistle, when his mind was hard at work, seeing its way inch by inch to its own private ends, on which occasions “The Last Rose of Summer” evidently helped and encouraged him. On the few occasions when anything amused him, he curled up a little at the corners of the lips, nothing more. While my eyes were watching the Sergeant, my mind wandered away in spite of me to what had passed, on that former occasion, between Rosanna and me.

If you will look back, you will find that, in first presenting Rosanna Spearman to your notice, I have described her as occasionally varying her walk to the Shivering Sand, by a visit to some friends of hers at Cobb’s Hole. His usual roundabout manner of going to work proved, on this occasion, to be more roundabout than ever. Penelope’s reason why, on this occasion, may be given in her own words. She looked cut to the heart on that occasion; and now, as ill-luck would have it, she had been unavoidably stung again, poor soul, on the tender place. They too had made their inquiries; and they had just laid hands on a quick little imp, nicknamed “Duffy”--who was occasionally employed in weeding the garden, and who had seen Rosanna Spearman as lately as half-an-hour since. On this occasion there was a change for the better. It is well within my experience, that young ladies of rank and position do occasionally have private debts which they dare not acknowledge to their nearest relatives and friends. On two different occasions, before my daughter left my roof, I privately warned her that she was exposing herself to suspicion of the most unendurable and most degrading kind. Betteredge, when the occasion comes round for remembering it.” “What do you mean?” I asked. Godfrey had called; evidently as sweet as ever on his cousin, in spite of the reception he had met with, when he tried his luck on the occasion of the birthday.

The applicant thanked his worship, and withdrew.” One of the wise ancients is reported (I forget on what occasion) as having recommended his fellow-creatures to “look to the end.” Looking to the end of these pages of mine, and wondering for some days past how I should manage to write it, I find my plain statement of facts coming to a conclusion, most appropriately, of its own self. It requested his attendance, within an hour’s time, at a house in Northumberland Street, Strand, which he had never had occasion to enter before. Godfrey’s absence from our Monday evening meeting had been occasioned by a consultation of the authorities, at which he was requested to assist--and all the explanations required being now given, I may proceed with the simpler story of my own little personal experiences in Montagu Square. On this occasion, however, she not only disappointed--she really shocked me. “I will come, dearest,” he said, “on condition that we don’t speak of this hateful subject again.” Never had I seen and heard our Christian Hero to less advantage than on this occasion.

Permit me to give an idea of my devotion to my aunt’s interests by recording that, on this occasion, I committed the prodigality of taking a cab. He is the family solicitor, and we had met more than once, on previous occasions, under Lady Verinder’s roof. And public opinion, on this occasion, is not easily refuted.” He said those last words, looking so wonderfully wise in his own worldly conceit, that I really (to my shame be it spoken) could not resist leading him a little farther still, before I overwhelmed him with the truth. I’ll adopt your view, on this occasion, before you have time to turn round on me. I felt strongly urged to say a few appropriate words on this solemn occasion. On this occasion, I invited him into my sitting-room.

Blake, and pledges herself, on the first occasion when sickness may lay him low, to offer him the use of her Extracts for the second time. That meeting was the occasion of my spending a few days under the same roof with her. “Drusilla, I have been in the habit of speaking very foolishly and very rudely to you, on former occasions. She was no longer the reckless, defiant creature whom I had heard and seen, on the occasion of my martyrdom in Montagu Square. “I mean to stay this time.” That reference to the occasion on which I had obliged him to postpone his business to mine, when we were both visiting in Montagu Square, satisfied me that the old worldling had come to Brighton with some object of his own in view. It is no uncommon event, in the experience of us all, to see the possessors of exalted ability occasionally humbled to the level of the most poorly-gifted people about them. “And it occurred to me that I might perhaps be of some use on this occasion. I looked at the top of his bald head; having noticed on other occasions that the temper which was really in him had a habit of registering itself THERE. There had once been an occasion, under somewhat similar circumstances, when Miss Jane Ann Stamper had been taken by the two shoulders and turned out of a room. It was not till the summer of eighteen hundred and forty-eight that I found occasion to look at it again under very melancholy circumstances.

I intended, if necessary, to remind them of that patronage, on the present occasion. My experience of her disposition warned me, on this, as on former occasions, to give her time. But this was the first occasion on which I had ever found myself advising a young lady how to obtain her release from a marriage engagement. I had a dinner engagement that evening; and I went upstairs, in no very genial frame of mind, little suspecting that the way to my dressing-room and the way to discovery, meant, on this particular occasion, one and the same thing. The law of chances was clearly against his escaping on this occasion.

But worth notice at starting, because we may find occasion to refer to this modest little Indian organisation as we go on.

So sure as I came home from my work on these occasions, so sure was my wife to call to me up the kitchen stairs, and to say that, after my brutal treatment of her, she hadn’t the heart to cook me my dinner. This was one of the occasions on which the invaluable habit of smoking becomes especially precious and consolatory. The ice, you see, was broken between us--and I thought I would take care, on the next occasion, that Mr. Franklin that you only drink with your dinner, and never touch a drop of liquor afterwards!” “But the birthday was a special occasion. If the excellent Betteredge had been present while I was considering that question, and if he had been let into the secret of my thoughts, he would, no doubt, have declared that the German side of me was, on this occasion, my uppermost side. But, here again, the engagement had been suddenly and unexpectedly broken off--owing, it was said, on this occasion, to a serious difference of opinion between the bridegroom and the lady’s father, on the question of settlements. On this occasion, I travelled straight to Frizinghall--the town being now the central point in my field of inquiry.

And I venture to appeal to her late mother’s friends who were present on that occasion, to lend me the assistance of their memories----” I had got as far as that in rehearsing my explanatory phrases, when I was suddenly checked by seeing plainly in Mr. A pleasant dinner--really a pleasant dinner now, wasn’t it?” On repeating the phrase, he seemed to feel hardly as certain of having prevented me from suspecting his lapse of memory, as he had felt on the first occasion. On this occasion I had no warning. Did you sleep well on that one occasion?” “I do remember!

Here are my papers ready for you; and here are two books to which we may have occasion to refer, before we have done. The foolish wrangle which took place, on that occasion, between Mr.

On one occasion, being drunk, he had lost a parcel of some value, and in his sober moments could give no account of it. Betteredge, attired for the occasion in a fisherman’s red cap, and an apron of green baize, met us in the outer hall. On this occasion, Mr. “Being habitually silent on the subject of human folly, I am all the readier to keep my lips closed on this occasion. I don’t know whether my embroidery is out of place, on this extraordinary occasion. Merridew that an explosion was not included in the programme on this occasion.

“The serious business of life,” he admitted, “was sadly out of place on such an occasion as the present. “Might I presume to ask,” he said, “what my young lady and the medicine-chest have got to do with each other?” “Stay in the sitting-room, and you will see.” Betteredge appeared to doubt his own unaided capacity to superintend me effectually, on an occasion when a medicine-chest was included in the proceedings. Please to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present occasion.” With those words he signed the paper in his turn. I had a new suit of clothes on the occasion. Family festivals having been rare enough at our house, since my poor mistress’s death, I own--on this occasion of the wedding--to having (towards the latter part of the day) taken a drop too much on the strength of it. Franklin and Miss Rachel is some months older--and then we’ll see!” The months passed (more than I had bargained for), and no occasion presented itself for disturbing that mark in the book. “NOW, sir, do you believe in ROBINSON CRUSOE?” I asked, with a solemnity, suitable to the occasion. I had but few occasions myself of personally noticing them.

The other two who had been his companions on that occasion were no doubt his companions also on this. /

Don’t touch me!” she exclaimed, shrinking back from all of us (I declare like some hunted animal!) into a corner of the room.Don’t touch me!” she exclaimed, shrinking back from all of us (I declare like some hunted animal!) into a corner of the room. /

No--there are too many such villains at large for public safety.No--there are too many such villains at large for public safety. /

Five francs were another enormous sum which troubled her grievously; for she would have been quite willing to live on bread and water.Five francs were another enormous sum which troubled her grievously; for she would have been quite willing to live on bread and water. /

She can remain there at your disposal.The distance remaining to be traversed was short; half an hour more, and the Lyons station, at Paris, was reached, where the bulk of the passengers--all, indeed, but the occupants of the sleeper--descended and passed through the barriers. All their hand-bags, rugs, and belongings were to remain in the berths, just as they lay. The maid was no doubt to have attended to all these, but as she had not come, they remained unpacked and strewn about in some disorder. "We will go together," he said, adding, "Madame will remain here, please, until we return. There was no symptom remaining of the recent effervescence when he was acting as the Countess's champion, and he was perfectly--nay, insolently calm and self-possessed. He shall remain at your disposal, and will appear whenever called upon." He returned to Sir Charles, asking, "You will promise that, sir?" "Oh, willingly.

Then the officials proceeded to the car, which still remained as the Chief Detective had left it. CHAPTER XII Only the two Frenchmen remained for examination. 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. She can remain there at your disposal. Quadling had paid it, but on one condition, that she would remain at the Hotel Ivoire until the following day. /

Explain." "I owe you no explanations," I replied stiffly, "my duty is to my employers.Explain." "I owe you no explanations," I replied stiffly, "my duty is to my employers. /

The features of the mutilated face were all but unrecognizable, but the hair, which was abundant, was long, black, and inclined to curl; the black moustache was thick and drooping.The features of the mutilated face were all but unrecognizable, but the hair, which was abundant, was long, black, and inclined to curl; the black moustache was thick and drooping. /

Fortunat had wished to put in a word or two, he could have found no opportunity.Fortunat certainly did not recoil, but before entering the shop he was not sorry to have an opportunity to reconnoitre. Madame Vantrasson seemed as disappointed as an actor who has been deprived of an opportunity of producing a grand effect. “In forty-eight hours I shall be certain of the count’s fate,” he thought; “he will be dead, or he will be in a fair way to recovery--so by promising to give this frenzied man what he desires on the day after to-morrow, I shall incur no risk.” Taking advantage of an opportunity which M. Under no circumstances whatever would he have admitted a patient immediately; he wished him to wait so that he might have an opportunity of reflecting on the advantages of consulting a physician whose time was constantly occupied. Indeed, Mademoiselle Marguerite had not given him an opportunity to speak, so rapidly had this long-repressed flood of recollections poured from her lips. He would have scorned to rob his master of a ten-sous piece; and yet he would not have hesitated in the least to defraud him of a hundred francs, if an opportunity had presented itself. First and foremost, it afforded him a magnificent opportunity to display his authority and act the master, and it also enabled him to carry out his compact with Victor Chupin, and repair to the rendezvous which M. Fortunat had profited of the opportunity to make the count’s servant his spy; and it had been easy to find a pretext for continuing the acquaintance, as M. Fortunat had wished to put in a word or two, he could have found no opportunity.

But his guest’s loquacity did not displease him; it gave him an opportunity for reflection. When his mother’s exhortations and Baron Trigault’s encouraging words had restored his wonted clearness of perception, the only course he felt disposed to pursue was to disappear and fly from the storm of slander and contempt; and then, in a secure hiding-place, to watch for the time and opportunity of rehabilitation and revenge.

However, this circumstance gave the cabman an opportunity to overtake the victoria; and after that the two vehicles kept close together as they proceeded down the Avenue de l’Imperatrice. Besides, he would have an opportunity of examining this handsome viscount, whom he was certain he had met before, though he could not tell when or where. They lingered awhile on the pavement to chat, and Chupin had an opportunity of observing the effect of their night’s dissipation on their faces. You are quite right; but it is nevertheless true that a young girl who braves public opinion is lost.” It was easy to see by Madame de Fondege’s earnestness that she feared Mademoiselle Marguerite would avail herself of this opportunity of recovering her liberty. /

Before it can interfere, the law must have material, tangible proof, convincing to the senses.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. 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? 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. “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. 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. 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? 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.

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. this is a strange world.” Pascal had become whiter than the ceiling. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. “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. 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. She had read her son’s heart, and perceiving his hesitation and weakness she had supplied the stimulus he needed. 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. “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.

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? Van Klopen.” “Madame’s dressmaker?” “The same. Monsieur and madame were breakfasting together--a most unusual thing--when M. 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. 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. 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. I’m only a servant, but----” “Nonsense, it’s the fashion.

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. 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. 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!

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. 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.

Twenty-seven thousand nine hundred and thirty-three francs, ninety centimes.” “Call it twenty-eight thousand francs then. 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. 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. 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?

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. “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. 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. 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.

What had become of the footman who had taken his card? These were questions which he was unable to answer. 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. 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. 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! And, besides, pray tell me where the disgrace would be?

If all husbands were as courageous, we should soon close the establishments of these artful men, who minister to your vanity, and use you ladies as puppets, or living advertisements, to display the absurd fashions which enrich them.” The baron took two or three more steps forward, as if about to leave the room, but his wife interposed: “The Baroness Trigault, whose husband has an income of seven or eight hundred thousand francs a year, can’t go about clad like a simple woman of the middle classes.” “I should see nothing so very improper in that.” “Oh, I know. I shall never consent to make myself ridiculous among the ladies of my set--among my friends.” “It would indeed be a pity to arouse the disapproval of your friends.” This sneering remark certainly irritated the baroness, for it was with the greatest vehemence that she replied: “All my friends are ladies of the highest rank in society--noble ladies!” The baron no doubt shrugged his shoulders, for in a tone of crushing irony and scorn, he exclaimed: “Noble ladies! 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? 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. you are a treasure to the reporters. On the day before yesterday the Baroness Trigault skated in the Bois. 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. 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? Besides, you would be inconsolable if the newspapers ceased talking about you for a single day. 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. 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. 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! 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. “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. 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. 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. 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. He allowed her to speak for a moment, and then suddenly, in a harsh, sarcastic voice, he interrupted her by saying: “Oh! 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. 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. 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! 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 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!

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. 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? 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. ever asked yourself into what depths of vice she may have fallen?” “Always the same ridiculous accusation!” exclaimed the baroness. 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.

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 married her to a wretch who is a disgrace to the title he bears, and who has completed the work of demoralization you began? 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. On the day before yesterday--listen carefully to this--my son-in-law came to ask me for a hundred thousand francs, and when I refused them, he threatened if I did not give them to him that he would publish some letters written by my daughter--by his wife--to some low scoundrel. But that same evening I learned that the husband and wife, my daughter and my son-in-law, had concocted this vile conspiracy together. Leaving here, and not wishing to return home that day, he telegraphed the good news to his wife. 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. The tone of her voice told him that, instead of yielding, she was only bent on retaliation. “How dare you censure him--you who drag your name through all the gambling dens of Europe?” “Wretch!” interrupted the baron, “wretch!” But quickly mastering himself, he remarked: “Yes, it’s true that I gamble. People say, ‘That great Baron Trigault is never without cards in his hands!’ But you know very well that I really hold gambling in horror--that I loathe it. 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! 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. And, besides, he was standing a little back in the shade. 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. The noise restored him to consciousness of his position. “It is the baron!” he thought; “he is coming this way! 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.

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. 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. 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. 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! I have a wife and a daughter--but they hate me. They long for my death, which would give them possession of my wealth. 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. To prevent a crime, I was obliged to resort to the strangest expedients. 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.

This woman--my wife--you know--you have heard the extent of her shame and degradation. “This amazes you, eh?” rejoined the baron. “It is indeed incomprehensible, monstrous--but it is the truth. Do what she may, I can only see in her the chaste and beautiful wife of our early married life.

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? But the baron whom the world knew was only a comedian; this was the real man. 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!

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. de Valorsay is incapable of the villainy you ascribe to him. He is one of my few trusted friends; we see each other almost every day. de Coralth to do the deed.” “But why? 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? 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! “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. You probably intend me to hear the conversation you are going to have with M. 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. 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. 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. 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. She has I don’t know how many hundred louis staked upon your horses.” The marquis’s countenance assumed an expression of cordial regret. “But I sha’n’t take part in the races at Vincennes.

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. Last Sunday the best horse in my stables, Domingo, came in third. He was the favorite in the ring. You can understand the rest. 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! I have nineteen; and it will be very strange if I don’t get eight or ten thousand louis for the lot. 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. my dear baron, you have yet to learn that there is nothing so ruinous as a racing stable. My manager declares that the twenty-three thousand francs I won last year, cost me at least fifty thousand.” Was he boasting, or was he speaking the truth? The baron was engaged in a rapid calculation. 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. I begin to find a bachelor life not so very pleasant after all; there is rheumatism in prospect, and my digestion is becoming impaired--in short, I feel that it is time for marriage, baron; and--I am about to marry.” “You!” “Yes, I. It 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. And then in a most confidential manner he resumed: “She will soon be consoled. 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. 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.

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. I was ashamed of my weakness; but the more clearly I showed myself my folly, the more obstinate my heart became. 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. How does it happen then that his daughter, even though she be his illegitimate child, should find herself penniless?” “A mere chance--a fatality. Mademoiselle Marguerite had been abandoned by her mother when only five or six months old; it is only a few years since M.

The count told me the whole story, without entering into particulars--you understand. 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! 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? 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. “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. 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. 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. de Chalusse’s whole life was haunted by the thought of the husband he had wronged.

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. 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. 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. There must have been some great crime under all this. In any case, the poor count found it impossible to escape this terrible woman. 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. 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. 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. “Yes, these stories always end in the same way, baron,” said he. 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. 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! 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. 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? “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. de Valorsay?” continued the baron. “Now we know, beyond the possibility of doubt, who Mademoiselle Marguerite’s mother is. Upon the Count de Chalusse?

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. 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. 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.

Honest people ought to protect and assist one another when scoundrels assail them. 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 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. 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 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! Then it is a good one. 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. 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.

Then which version is false? 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. where shall we find them? 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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. de Valorsay’s favor--his fortune, or, at least, the fortune he was supposed to possess. 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! 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