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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Widow Lerouge, by Emile Gaboriau This eBook is for the use of anyone

anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Widow Lerouge The Lerouge Case Author: Emile Gaboriau Release Date: April 12, 2006 [EBook #3802] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE WIDOW LEROUGE ***

Produced by David Moynihan; Dagny

THE LEROUGE CASE By Emile Gaboriau

CHAPTER I. On Thursday, the 6th of March, 1862, two days after Shrove Tuesday, five women belonging to the village of La Jonchere presented themselves at the police station at Bougival. They stated that for two days past no one had seen the Widow Lerouge, one of their neighbours, who lived by herself in an isolated cottage. They had several times knocked at the door, but all in vain. The window-shutters as well as the door were closed; and it was impossible to obtain even a glimpse of the interior. This silence, this sudden disappearance alarmed them. Apprehensive of a crime, or at least of an accident, they requested the interference of the police to satisfy their doubts by forcing the door and entering the house. Bougival is a pleasant riverside village, peopled on Sundays by crowds of boating parties. Trifling offences are frequently heard of in its neighbourhood, but crimes are rare. The commissary of police at first refused to listen to the women, but their importunities so fatigued him that he at length acceded to their request. He sent for the corporal of gendarmes, with two of his

men, called into requisition the services of a locksmith, and, thus accompanied, followed the neighbours of the Widow Lerouge. La Jonchere owes some celebrity to the inventor of the sliding railway, who for some years past has, with more enterprise than profit, made public trials of his system in the immediate neighbourhood. It is a hamlet of no importance, resting upon the slope of the hill which overlooks the Seine between La Malmaison and Bougival. It is about twenty minutes' walk from the main road, which, passing by Rueil and Port-Marly, goes from Paris to St. Germain, and is reached by a steep and rugged lane, quite unknown to the government engineers. The party, led by the gendarmes, followed the main road which here bordered the river until it reached this lane, into which it turned, and stumbled over the rugged inequalities of the ground for about a hundred yards, when it arrived in front of a cottage of extremely modest yet respectable appearance. This cottage had probably been built by some little Parisian shopkeeper in love with the beauties of nature; for all the trees had been carefully cut down. It consisted merely of two apartments on the ground floor with a loft above. Around it extended a much-neglected garden, badly protected against midnight prowlers, by a very dilapidated stone wall about three feet high, and broken and crumbling in many places. A light wooden gate, clumsily held in its place by pieces of wire, gave access to the garden. "It is here," said the women. The commissary stopped. During his short walk, the number of his followers had been rapidly increasing, and now included all the inquisitive and idle persons of the neighbourhood. He found himself surrounded by about forty individuals burning with curiosity. "No one must enter the garden," said he; and, to ensure obedience, he placed the two gendarmes on sentry before the entrance, and advanced towards the house, accompanied by the corporal and the locksmith. He knocked several times loudly with his leaded cane, first at the door, and then successively at all the window shutters. After each blow, he placed his ear against the wood and listened. Hearing nothing, he turned to the locksmith. "Open!" said he. The workman unstrapped his satchel, and produced his implements. He had already introduced a skeleton key into the lock, when a loud exclamation was heard from the crowd outside the gate. "The key!" they cried. "Here is the key!" A boy about twelve years old playing with one of his companions, had seen an enormous key in a ditch by the roadside; he had picked it up and carried it to the cottage in triumph. "Give it to me youngster," said the corporal. "We shall see." The key was tried, and it proved to be the key of the house. The commissary and the locksmith exchanged glances full of sinister misgivings. "This looks bad," muttered the corporal. They entered the house, while the crowd, restrained with difficulty by the gendarmes,

stamped with impatience, or leant over the garden wall, stretching their necks eagerly, to see or hear something of what was passing within the cottage. Those who anticipated the discovery of a crime, were unhappily not deceived. The commissary was convinced of this as soon as he crossed the threshold. Everything in the first room pointed with a sad eloquence to the recent presence of a malefactor. The furniture was knocked about, and a chest of drawers and two large trunks had been forced and broken open. In the inner room, which served as a sleeping apartment, the disorder was even greater. It seemed as though some furious hand had taken a fiendish pleasure in upsetting everything. Near the fireplace, her face buried in the ashes, lay the dead body of Widow Lerouge. All one side of the face and the hair were burnt; it seemed a miracle that the fire had not caught her clothing. "Wretches!" exclaimed the corporal. "Could they not have robbed, without assassinating the poor woman?" "But where has she been wounded?" inquired the commissary, "I do not see any blood." "Look! here between the shoulders," replied the corporal; "two fierce blows, by my faith. I'll wager my stripes she had no time to cry out." He stooped over the corpse and touched it. "She is quite cold," he continued, "and it seems to me that she is no longer very stiff. It is at least thirty-six hours since she received her death-blow." The commissary began writing, on the corner of a table, a short official report. "We are not here to talk, but to discover the guilty," said he to the corporal. "Let information be at once conveyed to the justice of the peace, and the mayor, and send this letter without delay to the Palais de Justice. In a couple of hours, an investigating magistrate can be here. In the meanwhile, I will proceed to make a preliminary inquiry." "Shall I carry the letter?" asked the corporal of gendarmes. "No, send one of your men; you will be useful to me here in keeping these people in order, and in finding any witnesses I may want. We must leave everything here as it is. I will install myself in the other room." A gendarme departed at a run towards the station at Rueil; and the commissary commenced his investigations in regular form, as prescribed by law. "Who was Widow Lerouge? Where did she come from? What did she do? Upon what means, and how did she live? What were her habits, her morals, and what sort of company did she keep? Was she known to have enemies? Was she a miser? Did she pass for being rich?" The commissary knew the importance of ascertaining all this: but although the witnesses were numerous enough, they possessed but

little information. The depositions of the neighbours, successively interrogated, were empty, incoherent, and incomplete. No one knew anything of the victim, who was a stranger in the country. Many presented themselves as witnesses moreover, who came forward less to afford information than to gratify their curiosity. A gardener's wife, who had been friendly with the deceased, and a milk-woman with whom she dealt, were alone able to give a few insignificant though precise details. In a word, after three hours of laborious investigation, after having undergone the infliction of all the gossip of the country, after receiving evidence the most contradictory, and listened to commentaries the most ridiculous, the following is what appeared the most reliable to the commissary. Twelve years before, at the beginning of 1850, the woman Lerouge had made her appearance at Bougival with a large wagon piled with furniture, linen, and her personal effects. She had alighted at an inn, declaring her intention of settling in the neighbourhood, and had immediately gone in quest of a house. Finding this one unoccupied, and thinking it would suit her, she had taken it without trying to beat down the terms, at a rental of three hundred and twenty francs payable half yearly and in advance, but had refused to sign a lease. The house taken, she occupied it the same day, and expended about a hundred francs on repairs. She was a woman about fifty-four or fifty-five years of age, well preserved, active, and in the enjoyment of excellent health. No one knew her reasons for taking up her abode in a country where she was an absolute stranger. She was supposed to have come from Normandy, having been frequently seen in the early morning to wear a white cotton cap. This night-cap did not prevent her dressing very smartly during the day; indeed, she ordinarily wore very handsome dresses, very showy ribbons in her caps, and covered herself with jewels like a saint in a chapel. Without doubt she had lived on the coast, for ships and the sea recurred incessantly in her conversation. She did not like speaking of her husband who had, she said, perished in a shipwreck. But she had never given the slightest detail. On one particular occasion she had remarked, in presence of the milk-woman and three other persons, "No woman was ever more miserable than I during my married life." And at another she had said, "All new, all fine! A new broom sweeps clean. My defunct husband only loved me for a year!" Widow Lerouge passed for rich, or at the least for being very well off and she was not a miser. She had lent a woman at La Malmaison sixty francs with which to pay her rent, and would not let her return them. At another time she had advanced two hundred francs to a fisherman of Port-Marly. She was fond of good living, spent a good deal on her food, and bought wine by the half cask. She took pleasure in treating her acquaintances, and her dinners were excellent. If complimented on her easy circumstances, she made no very strong denial. She had frequently been heard to say, "I have nothing in the funds, but I have everything I want. If I wished for more, I could have it." Beyond this, the slightest allusion to her past life, her country, or her family had never escaped her. She was very talkative, but all she would say would be to the detriment of her neighbours. She was supposed, however, to have seen the world, and to know a great deal. She was very

a tall. attended by the chief of the detective police. he was tremblingly distrustful of his own abilities and exercised his terrible functions with diffidence and hesitation. the unknown quantity--represents the criminal. when the investigating magistrate arrived. and upon one occasion two gentlemen. but the most absolute certainty." What he sought was not conviction. the deceased was held in but little esteem by her neighbours. and tempted by her supposed wealth. and it was well known that she got tipsy regularly at her dinner and went to bed very soon afterwards. he had rapidly acquired the most brilliant reputation. he cannot bring himself to acknowledge it. On several occasions men had been seen in her house. a young one. still less to retrace his steps. or to lay snares for him. had at one time paid her his addresses. Although possessed of qualifications for his office so numerous and valuable. She had been heard to give a young girl the most detestable counsels. one young. She never went out in the evening. armed with an implacable logic. No rest for him until the day when the accused was forced to bow before the evidence. Whilst questioning the witnesses. but wanting in perseverance. "He is a trembler. had come in a magnificent carriage. the commissary wrote down their depositions in a more condensed form. None better than he. Investigating magistrate since 1859. and of prepossessing appearance. repelled his advances. Clever in deducing the unknown from the known. He wanted audacity to risk those sudden surprises so often resorted to by his colleagues in the pursuit of truth. first of all. She. and rather sad expression. nor the most probable presumptions. however. two years before. The chief of detective police was none other than the celebrated Gevrol. and looked very villainous. he knew with singular skill how to disentangle the skein of the most complicated affair. could solve those terrible problems in which X--in algebra. M. Her remarks were often most offensive and odious in the mouth of a woman of her age. declaring that to be married once was enough for her. sympathetic notwithstanding his coldness. and in uniting in a bundle of overwhelming proofs circumstances the most trifling. These men were reported to be her lovers. and he had got so far. embarrassed in his business. They said of him in the courts. Laborious. who had the appearance of a clerk of the railway company. four or five times a lady accompanied by a young man had called. This settled melancholy had remained with him ever since his recovery. elderly man. and from the midst of a thousand threads lay hold to the right one. which had well-nigh proved fatal. then another. who was dressed in a blouse. If he loses a clue. belonging to Bougival. A pork butcher. Rarely had strangers been seen to visit her.distrustful and barricaded herself in her cottage as in a fortress. he excelled in collecting facts. In conclusion. and acute. His audacity . Daburon was a man thirty-eight years of age. and in appearance the most insignificant. wearing upon his countenance a sweet. and one of his subordinates. He is really an able man. and liable to be blinded by an incredible obstinacy. in fact the mere idea of the possibility of a judicial error terrified him. from a dreadful malady. very sunburnt. Thus it was repugnant to his feelings to deceive even an accused person. the other old and decorated. so much so that he had been jestingly reproached with seeking not to discover criminals but innocents. patient.

however. without noticing any other features. the unlikelihood of circumstances. Had chance alone assisted him? The subordinate Gevrol had brought with him. Over their faces were thick veils. alighted from the omnibus which leaves Marly every hour. He rapidly related the facts collected and read his official report. his triumph. and will be recognised at any time. and it is enough. Let him see a face for five minutes. crafty as a fox. is a memory of faces. yet there is one fact you have omitted to ascertain." "And what had she in her basket?" asked the investigating magistrate.and coolness. so he pretends. "You have proceeded very well. and at what hour?" "I was coming to that presently. A smart fellow in his profession. sir?" inquired the commissary. and jealous of his chief. is because he only looks at a man's eyes. hidden under a most meagre appearance. by this time heartily tired of his responsibilities. a woman named Tellier and a cooper who lives hard by. the most incredible disguises will not lead him astray. and another of brandy. The impossibilities of place. render it impossible to disconcert him. by the following experiment. was an old offender. so prodigious as to exceed belief. allowing nothing of the features to be seen except the eyes. reconciled to the law. "All is stated clearly. sir?" inquired Gevrol. His name was Lecoq. so!" exclaimed the chief of detective police. whose abilities he held in light estimation. Without the slightest hesitation he recognised the prisoners and named them. She was last seen and spoken to on the evening of Shrove Tuesday. the two witnesses who furnished me with this fact. She complained to them of headache. when they perceived the widow in the cross-road. and in this state they were shown to Gevrol. welcomed the investigating magistrate and his agents as liberators. and for this reason. They only know that she carried two sealed bottles of wine. Three prisoners were draped in coverings so as to completely disguise their height. The reason for this. 'Though it is customary to enjoy oneself on Shrove Tuesday. This faculty was severely tested some months back at Poissy. and said. Its possessor is catalogued. But his specialty. for which holes had been made. at twenty minutes past five. and being possessed of immense personal strength. "I know where to . They conversed with her and only left her when they reached the door of her own house. She was then returning from Bougival with a basketful of purchases.'" "So. The commissary." observed the investigating magistrate. "The witnesses cannot say." "What is that. I am going to bed. his glory. "On what day was Widow Lerouge last seen. he has never hesitated to confront the most daring of malefactors. "Perfectly." "You are sure of the hour. and hastened to overtake her.

"she was very old. "I ask permission. In less than ten minutes there was half an inch of water in the road. Everything. the amiable gallant!" "Oh!" cried the corporal of gendarmes." acquiesced the commissary. not in this room. My footsteps and the corporal's will be easily distinguished. for the floor is a polished one. He stuck to his own opinion." cried he. it is clear enough." remarked the magistrate." said Gevrol. "was it not on Tuesday that the weather changed? It had been freezing for a fortnight past. "that is vexatious!" "Wait. the gallant in the blouse. "to examine the apartment before any one else is permitted to enter. in a tone of irritation. evidently scandalised. "but it is not what strikes me most. "that a woman who has money is always young and pretty. Let us see." "Very well." added the commissary. He came. sir. "I went out from supper to make my circuit of the dancing halls. he arrived sooner. If they were dry. In the middle of the room was a table covered with a fine linen . Gevrol passed in first. the others remaining on the threshold. We must find the tall sunburnt man." "Certainly. when I was overtaken opposite the Rue des Pecheurs by a heavy shower. We have disturbed absolutely nothing there. corporal." "Ah!" exclaimed the chief detective. sure enough. "Why. The brandy and the wine were intended for his entertainment. "Now that I think of it. Gevrol stopped him. if she desires to be thought so!" "Perhaps there is something in that. This must have been noticed. Daburon.'" "That also attracted my attention. The widow expected him to supper. 'If I wished for more. and on that evening it rained." said he. "there is yet time to see if there are any. seemed to have been overturned by some furious madman. and began to inspect minutely every corner of the room. Were there any imprints of footsteps. M. as the commissary had stated. "Know." approved M.search!" "You think so?" inquired M." answered the corporal. "Then if the man came after half-past nine his shoes must have been very muddy." said he to the investigating magistrate. At what time did the rain commence here?" "At half-past nine. Suddenly he turned towards the commissary. and terribly ugly!" Gevrol surveyed the honest fellow with an expression of contemptuous pity. I am more impressed by the remark of this unfortunate woman. Daburon. It is very important for me. They all took in at a glance the scene of the crime. But Gevrol no longer took the trouble to listen. Commissary?" "I must confess we never thought of looking for them. but in the other. I could have it." As the commissary opened the door of the second chamber.

therefore he can't invoke the gayety of dessert in his defense!" "It is evident. and another of brandy. and rummaged. There were clothing." He walked right up to the corpse of the widow. hung by a single hinge. stood two handsome walnut-wood wardrobes. that the scamp did not leave the candle burning. To the left of the room stood the bed. But he soon recovered from his embarrassment.cloth. tossed about. and crumpled. for which he had committed the crime. an old secretary with a marble top had been forced. The gentleman was in a hurry. a large cupboard used for keeping the crockery was wide open." "Look here! Some pieces of gold in this drawer!" exclaimed Lecoq. "It can not be said. Some one may have knocked at the door. he continued: "Oh! oh! the poor devil was busy with her cooking when he struck her." murmured Gevrol disappointed. to its inmost recesses. On the right." answered Gevrol in a sly way. who." "It is probable. "that the work is not properly done! the assassin is no apprentice!" Then looking right and left." "Pooh!" said Lecoq. both were empty. broken. near the fireplace." said the commissary to the investigating magistrate. He is probably an economical and careful man. The brute hadn't patience enough to wait for the dinner. There was an opened bottle of wine. a little disconcerted. "and that accounts for the absence of the silver spoons from the table. against the wall. At the end of the room. after accomplishing the murder. You see he took the trouble to put it out. that often happens. and a plate of the finest porcelain. no doubt. "Not the slightest imprint. white as snow. Upon this was placed a magnificent wineglass of the rarest manufacture. with ornamental locks. The desk. who had been searching on his own account. On the other side of the fireplace. "He must have arrived before half-past nine. and added: "He must have forgotten them. "That proves nothing. which had been completely disarranged and upset." The investigations of the two agents were continued all over the house. hardly touched. linen. I have known an assassin. and the contents scattered about on all sides. "just three hundred and twenty francs!" "Well. "that robbery was the motive of the crime. he struck the blow fasting. smashed into bits. I never!" cried Gevrol. The drawers had been pulled out and thrown upon the floor. they were placed one on each side of the window. near which he knelt. Even the straw of the mattress had been pulled out and examined. see her pan of ham and eggs upon the hearth. from which about five or six small glassfuls had been taken. You can all come in now." grumbled he. or was interrupted. a very handsome knife. Our man became excited perhaps. became so utterly bewildered as to depart without remembering to take the plunder. and other effects unfolded. wrenched away. but their most minute researches resulted in discovering absolutely . What makes me more willing to think so is.

you remember. He works so much for the glory of success that he often spends money from his own pocket. "No danger of that. "we are no further advanced than we were this morning!" "Well!" growled Gevrol." "We are wasting our time. Then. Even the dead woman's papers. I shall have a Besides. inwardly delighted at having wounded his chief. M.' from a phrase he is constantly in the habit of repeating. and all the while the poor man was innocent. addressing himself to Lecoq. "You have of course. not one piece of evidence to convict. "He was formerly a clerk at the Mont de Piete." Lecoq started off at a run." added Gevrol. he is sure to fall into our hands. he added:--"Go and find M." interrupted M. He has and the jewels." commenced he. carried off the plate "Despite all that. "It is a drawn game monsieur. Gevrol was seriously humiliated. The miscreant has taken his measures with but I will catch him. Not a letter. dozen men in pursuit. From time to time Gevrol stopped to swear or grumble. I have heard a great deal of him. Lecoq bowed his head and was silent. but I can't remember where." "He is an extraordinary man!" exclaimed Lecoq. Daburon. "We present. Daburon. It's his amusement. I have known you for a long time. He goes in for playing the detective by way of amusement. "but yet--" "Do not. and I know your worth. had disappeared. "why is not old Tirauclair here?" "What could he do more than we have done?" retorted Gevrol. Gevrol. gentlemen. and shall be glad to see him at work here. you see! At the Prefecture we have nicknamed him 'Tirauclair. directing a furious glance at his subordinate. to be met with.nothing." "True!" retorted Gevrol. guessed that the lady had robbed herself. the right to demand the services of whom you please." replied Gevrol. Daburon. He is lost!" are baffled for the great precaution. "let us lose our tempers. not the faintest indication which might serve as a point of departure. the old weasel! It was he who in the case of that banker's wife. Daburon." said M. "but he is now a rich old fellow." interrupted M. Before night. "It seems to me that I have heard the name. what do you make of it?" at length demanded the investigating magistrate. "He?" cried Lecoq. whose real name is Tabaret. a thorough bad woman. however. sir. Ah! he is sharp. not a scrap of paper even." "And to augment his revenues. and who proved it. "Who is old Tirauclair?" asked M. but to-day we . "A man can only do what he can!" "Ah!" murmured Lecoq in a low tone. perfectly audible. if she possessed any. "Oh! it is cleverly done! It is a tiptop piece of work! The scoundrel is a cool hand!" "Well. Tabaret." insinuated the commissary. "and it was also he who almost had poor Dereme guillotined for killing his wife.

Every voice denounced the tall sunburnt man with the gray blouse. "Are you quite sure of that?" asked the investigating magistrate. for example. sir. M. She had heard Widow Lerouge speak of having a son still living. He had one evening menaced a woman. with the help of one single fact. am convinced that you are not on the right track!" "I think I am right. They could point out neither the child nor the woman. Daburon. he is apt to lose his temper and be very obstinate. And he manages to invent a story that will correspond exactly with the situation. and I. permit me." replied the detective. You hold absolutely to your sunburnt man in the blouse. Everyone remembered his ferocious aspect. who knew. . nothing in any way connected with her antecedents remained in the memory of the gossips of La Jonchere. like this one. sir." he continued. He has become an amateur detective for the sake of popularity. Now commissary. to give--what shall I say without failing in respect?--a piece of advice?" "Speak!" "I would advise you. As soon as he finds himself in the presence of a crime. at whose shop the victim used to deal. "it is most important to ascertain from what part of the country Widow Lerouge came. All the people interrogated. Daburon." The procession of witnesses under the charge of the corporal of gendarmes were again interrogated by the investigating magistrate. "and I hope to prove it. He must surely be the culprit.happen to differ in opinion. and a child thirteen years old. Public opinion sided with Gevrol. the unfortunate Dereme. obstinately tried to impart to the magistrate their own convictions and personal conjectures. be he whom he may!" "I ask nothing better. But nothing new was elicited. although very talkative. but no matter: these brutal acts were notoriously public. when some one brought the wife of a grocer of Bougival. and another day beaten a child. It was evident that Widow Lerouge had been a singularly discreet woman. on my side. it was said. the case of the tailor. to distrust old Tabaret. Daburon began to despair of gaining the least enlightenment. to be able to reconstruct all the details of an assassination. He professes. as a savant pictures an antediluvian animal from a single bone. which had frightened the whole neighbourhood. "Only. for. "and will profit by it. as he is vainer than a peacock. however. just like an author. and. The grocer's wife first made her appearance. though. for instance. without me--" "I thank you for your advice." interrupted M. very often." "Really? And for what reason?" "The old fellow allows himself to be carried away too much by appearances. he pretends he can explain everything on the instant. Take." said M. something positive. I shall find the scoundrel. he makes a mistake. Sometimes he divines correctly.

old Husson. on Sunday last. in the imperial navy.' said she. "what you know. he would sometimes remain years on a voyage." "Did her son ever come to see her while she lived here?" "She never told me of it." continued the magistrate. very drunk. I was going to church. when she was. for she always buys the best brandy. and old. and she called him a fresh water sailor. She paid cash for all she bought. She told us that her son's name was Jacques. if I may say so. and always used to bring me back cocoanuts. for I . who was now brought forward. and that she had not seen him for a very long time. though a good man at bottom. and features expressive of watchfulness and cunning. "for. About sixty francs a month. sir. who can tell you the same. saving your presence. Daburon. She remained in my shop more than an hour." "Did she speak ill of her husband?" "Never! She only said he was jealous and brutal. and forged ideas out of nothing at all. 'was a real sailor. and the proof is." "Well. sometimes more. but another evening. "I saw him close face to face. The presence of the magistrate did not seem to intimidate him in the least. jesting with a fisherman of Marly. The child." answered the woman. very fat." replied the urchin." "You are sure you are not mistaken?" "Quite sure." "And what did she say?" "I think I see her now. yes." continued the shopkeeper: "she was leaning against the counter near the scales. "and this man was tall and sunburnt." "Well. and dressed in a blouse?" "No.'" "Did she mention her son's name?" "Not that time. he had bright intelligent eyes. and that he led her a miserable life. a little tipsy." said M. it was evening. He was weak-headed. she was. "Let us hear. In fact he was too honest to be wise."As of my existence. on the contrary. my boy. to serve in the second mass. a few days ago. sir. I saw a man at Madame Lerouge's garden-gate." "At what time of the day?" "Early in the morning. like his dead father. Tall and strong for his age. on that evening. I have a son who is also a sailor. belonged to parents in easy circumstances." "Did she spend much money with you?" "That depends. he was short. 'My husband." The woman knowing no more was dismissed.

as far as the middle of his head. and said. my little friend. what occurred?" "Well. Tell him that he can prepare to leave. and when you reach the quay.--but no. and I told him. yes." "But you must remember how he was dressed. 'Halloa! youngster!' as I came up to him. yes!" "Then there was something remarkable about him?" "Yes." "Tell me. but without hurting me. Daburon. I should think so! his face was the colour of a brick!" "And is that all?" "Well." said the magistrate. Then he took me by the ear. and said in a low voice: "Will you permit me. Go on board." answered the child. and from out of one of them peeped a blue spotted handkerchief. sir. you will notice a large boat moored. he saw me. 'Since that is so. and that's all. he wore a jacket." Gevrol. he had a long cravat. Run as far as the Seine. I was passing when I saw this fat man at the gate. and off I went. Under the arms were very large pockets. ." "What kind of trousers had he on?" "I do not remember. that I am ready. sir. He appeared very much vexed. Gevrol. sir." said Gevrol. and he asked me if I had got a good pair of legs? I answered yes.spoke to him. and had very little hair on it." murmured the commissary. found the man." "And did he speak to you first?" "Yes. had he a blouse on?" "No. oh! but awfully vexed! His face was red." "Come now. then. I remember he did not wear one. "I don't think he wore a waistcoat. "what a pleasure it would be!" "Now. if you will run an errand for me. sir. who had listened with the most lively attention. I will give you ten sous. for it was bare. and called out. to ask the brat a few questions?" "Certainly. would you know him?" "Oh.' Then he put ten sous in my hand." "And his waistcoat?" "Let me see. "if you saw this man again." "If all the witnesses were like this bright little fellow. "tell us how you executed your commission?" "I went to the boat. And yet. leaned over towards the ear of M. sir. or rather purple. and ask to see Captain Gervais: he is sure to be there. which I could see very well. M.

addressing the child again." The child was preparing to depart when M." ." said Gevrol. I didn't see any name. and remained silent. "here is a complete description. have you spoken to any one of this meeting before to-day?" "Yes. the testimony of this child is of the highest importance. "If this boat was moored at the quay. with an air of satisfaction. Daburon can prepare a warrant for his appearance whenever he likes. my little friend?" "Like all the sailors hereabouts. "At least. "Yes. "it was probably noticed by the inhabitants of Bougival." The boy hung down his head. and turning to the boy added. and gave her the ten sous." "I believe. "you are a bright boy." "Ah!" said Gevrol. Daburon. But what sort of a man was Gervais. "Yes." "We know that. I told all to mamma when I got back from church. my boy. she was moored." said Gevrol." "Bravo!" cried Gevrol. "Can you tell us." "What?" "The man wore very large rings in his ears. sir. Daburon recalled him. and I wager that if you try hard to remember you will find a few more details to give us. "The magistrate asks you which way the prow of the boat was turned. I shall find the fellow now. "I remember another thing.--towards Paris or towards Marly?" "The two ends of the boat seemed alike to me. "Before you go. the master." said the little boy.fastened near his neck by a large ring. sir. "and the sailors must have come ashore. it was plain he was making a violent effort of memory. up the Seine or down?" "Neither. I shall find out all about it at the wine shop." The chief of the detective of police made a gesture of disappointment." "Which way was she going." said M. M. sir. I couldn't see because it was decked. tell me. my little friend. From the knitting of his young brows. sir." "No. One should always know the names of the boats one goes aboard of. indeed. Daburon." approved the commissary." said he." "That is true." remarked M. "you noticed the name of the boat? you can read I suppose. with what this boat was loaded?" "No. sir." cried he suddenly.

I shall have him. Gervais. What a man! He wouldn't wait for the train." answered M." Nobody at the time attached any significance to these words. Don't you know that the police know everything?" "Pardon! sir. In the midst of darkness. "I will go at once to Bougival. But let it be a lesson for the remainder of your life. and remember it is useless to try and hide the truth." "My little friend. but gave I don't know how much to a cabman." said the magistrate. who rushed into the house breathless. we will inquire into Widow Lerouge's movements on that day. sir. "if I have to search every boat on the Seine. "This man was seen on Sunday morning. To one woman who. she said. Don't punish me. "You know that it is a very grave matter to attempt to impose on justice. then. I know the name of the captain. The navigation office will tell me something." The little fellow blushed as red as a cherry. bursting into tears. "The man with the rings in his ears becomes more and important. it was not ten sous that the man gave me. "Here is old Tabaret. whose aspect it must be admitted was not at all what one would have expected of a person who had . and it is my duty to warn you that she inflicts the most terrible punishment upon liars." Three neighbours were called. "I see. "Ah! I had last night a terrible accident." replied the chief of detective police. Daburon. the humblest rush-light acquires brilliancy. "To find him again is indispensable: you must see to this."And you have told us the whole truth?" continued the magistrate. Daburon. "for this time I forgive you. and I kept the rest to buy marbles with." pursued M. a man appeared at the door." He was interrupted by Lecoq. and I will never do so again. "I met him just as he was going out. it was twenty sous. "that you have concealed something from us. They all declared that the widow had kept her bed all Sunday. had visited her." cried the boy. it always comes to light!" CHAPTER II." said the investigating magistrate. She always finds it out." he said. I only gave half to mamma. from its source to the ocean.--"pardon." suggested Gevrol. The two last depositions awakened in M." "Tell us. when the woman had retired. M. if you approve of this step. "Perhaps you would do well to wait a little. and we drove here in fifty minutes!" Almost immediately. how you have deceived us?" "Well. hearing she was unwell. and held down his head. Gevrol. Daburon's mind some slight gleams of hope. You may go now. sir." "Before eight days.

and absolutely void of expression. "Lecoq has told me the principal facts. and his step was almost elastic. at once commence my researches. The magistrate could not help comparing him to a pointer on the scent. stood at the threshold. very vulgar-looking. His eyes of a dull gray. "completely at the service of justice. His figure became erect. and in the humblest of voices asked. and finally he cried out for plaster of Paris. He demanded paper and a pencil. and through their scantiness barely concealed his long ugly ears. and wearing silk gloves and leather gaiters. Daburon. A long and massive gold chain. and became brilliant as carbuncles. He remained there about half an hour. "If you will permit me. yet they fatigued the observer by their insupportable restlessness. His face reflected an internal satisfaction." "I wish to know. just as much as I desire to know. which has made the fortunes of two comic actors of the Palais-Royal theatre. his turned-up nose even moved about as if to discover some subtle odour left by the assassin. which receded like that of a greyhound. bending his old back into an arch. were small and red at the lids. He was certainly sixty years old and did not look a bit younger. adding under his breath. and a nose disagreeably elevated. I will explain the--" "Oh. mingled with uneasiness. like the broad end of one of Sax's horns. with Lecoq's assistance. was twisted thrice round his neck." As the old fellow spoke. and rather bent. Then he wanted a spade. He wanted this or that or the other thing." "Nevertheless--" commenced the commissary of police. He was very comfortably dressed. if you please. uttering little cries of triumph or self-encouragement. "The investigating magistrate has deigned to send for me?" "Yes!" replied M. he leant on the carved ivory handle of a stout cane. Short. scolding himself. M. there is at least nothing to indicate it in your appearance. as he darted into the inner chamber. I know enough of it!" interrupted old Tabaret. some water and a bottle of oil. "and if you are a man of any ability. . then re-entered and then again came out. then came out running. Tabaret. he presented a very short chin. A few straight hairs shaded his forehead. and bowed almost to the ground." continued the old fellow." "I am here. even his wrinkles seemed to laugh.joined the police for honour alone. Scrupulously shaved. displaying linen of dazzling whiteness. He did not allow Lecoq to have a moment's rest." said M. His round face wore that expression of perpetual astonishment. Daburon. large and good natured lips. and fell in cascades into the pocket of his waistcoat. All the while he talked loudly and with much gesticulation. in order to be more fully master of my own impressions. I prefer to proceed without receiving any details. clean as a new franc piece. "whether you can discover some clue that will put us upon the track of the assassin. thin. I will. apostrophising himself. his little gray eyes dilated. When one knows another's opinion it can't help influencing one's judgment. surnamed Tirauclair. once more he disappeared and reappeared again almost immediately.

carrying with the utmost precaution a large basket. my lad. In order to open the door more quickly.When more than an hour had elapsed. "by the evidence. "I am on the track of the man with the earrings. that is to say. at last. Now look at the dress of the victim. By-and-by I shall offer my humble opinion as to the real motive. We are thus assured of the hour. M. Standing behind this table. before the rain fell. How. it is one of those which run fourteen or fifteen hours at most. in a tone of affected modesty. Now it is more than probable. "You see this cuckoo clock above the secretary. In the second place." "These are absolute details!" cried the commissary. then. I have obtained an exact description of the master Gervais.--a big lump of clay. the investigating magistrate began to grow impatient. put the basket on the table." Gevrol at this moment returned from his expedition equally delighted. the assassin arrived here before half-past nine. but hastily threw this old shawl over her shoulders. he was covered with mud up to the chin. he presented a grotesque resemblance to those mountebank conjurers who in the public squares juggle the money of the lookers-on. Tabaret!" asked the magistrate. triumphant." replied the corporal. that the widow wound it up every evening before going to bed. and three or four small lumps of plaster yet damp." continued old Tabaret. joyous. "robbery has had nothing to do with the crime that occupies our attention. several large sheets of paper. "I shall prove it. . looking at least twenty years younger. and on the seat a very plain foot-mark. and was winding up her cuckoo clock when he knocked. the body of it is off. but under the table. As she was drawing the chain. Lecoq. and mixing some plaster in a plate. "I have solved the riddle!" said Tabaret to the magistrate." "By Jove!" exclaimed the corporal. "But easily established." "What have you discovered. I find dust. The old fellow carefully emptied upon the table the contents of the basket. His clothes had greatly suffered. and asked what had become of the amateur detective. is it that the clock has stopped at five? Because she must have touched it. Lecoq followed him. it is certain. evidently struck." replied the amateur. In proof. the assassin knocked. "It is all clear now." "Oh! of course not!" muttered Gevrol. Gevrol have I been able to discover traces of muddy footsteps. The widow did not in the least expect her visitor. "lying flat in the mud. He says he has nearly finished. She had commenced undressing." He did in fact return almost instantly. I show this chair standing under the clock." said he. on the spot where his feet rested. and that he is coming back presently. and as plain as noon-day. for I have examined it." said he. "the boat went down the river. No more than M. "In the first place. "He is on the road. she did not wait to put it on again.

M. but at the window-shutter. Therefore he is taller than I am. She had dined off fish. He wore on that evening a high hat. Gevrol?" he pursued. They represent the heels of the boots worn by the assassin. Look for this impression all along the path. He leapt more than two yards with ease. Is it because I have mentioned his height that you are surprised? Take the trouble to examine the tops of the wardrobes and you will see that the assassin passed his hands across them. because it is on some sand. more deeply imprinted than usual. there is but one glass on the table. I search. instep pronounced. for in the cupboard I have found the remains of her own dinner. As for the corporal. belonging to a foot well cared for evidently. elegantly dressed. Besides you can see yourselves. "Does the hat astonish you. "At all events. Has it been moistened with saliva? No. and one knife. on the contrary. he would have seen and would not have been obliged to feel. "Just look at the circle traced in the dust on the marble top of the secretary. watching the impression he was making. I do not know. while M. If you are not minute in your investigations. and noiselessly rubbed his hands together." continued the old fellow. He carried an umbrella. "follow me closely. sole small and narrow. a little above the middle height. On these sheets of paper. Too much. and I find. The commissary appeared stupefied. Daburon was delighted." Lecoq was unable to conceal his enthusiastic admiration. The assassin then gained admission without difficulty. Perhaps you cannot get over the statement that he smoked a cigar? Here is the end of a trabucos that I found amongst the ashes. was sensibly elongated.--an elegant boot. what follows proves it. At the entrance to the garden. it is the truth. say you? Well deign to glance at these lumps of damp plaster. Has the end been bitten? No. perhaps. of which I found a most perfect impression near the ditch. by the way. We have traced the young man into the house. he told the widow he had not dined. this much is certain."The widow. Then you will find it five times repeated in the garden where no one else had been. shows it. the man leapt to avoid a flower bed! the point of the foot. and therefore young. but even of the little round piece of wood which is always placed at the end of the silk. Gevrol's face. But who is this young man? Evidently the widow looked upon him as a man of ." retorted old Tabaret. he was overwhelmed. and you will find it again twice. proving that he is active. anyhow. I am. Look! heel high. He is a young man. and at once set to work to prepare a meal. where the key was picked up. How he explained his presence at this hour. and smoked a trabucos cigar in a holder. I have marked in outline the imprint of the foot which I cannot take up." "Too much. that the stranger knocked not at the door." continued the old fellow." Old Tabaret spoke in a low voice. clear and penetrating: and his eye glanced from one to the other of his auditors. "knew the person who knocked." "Ridiculous!" cried Gevrol. Her haste to open the door gives rise to this conjecture. Do not say that he got on a chair. "This is too much. "Now. I cannot help it. for in that case. Are you astonished about the umbrella? This lump of earth shows an admirable impression not only of the end of the stick. Then he who smoked it used a cigar-holder. beneath which shone a gleam of light. and these footprints prove. This meal was not for herself. the autopsy will confirm the truth of this statement. The worthy woman was delighted to hear it.

what he sought. but. the young man arose and approached the widow. and what he found. for in the cupboard is a table-cloth still very clean. "your investigation is admirable. and then hurling her down in the position in which you see her. documents. what does he do next? He flies." "M. to baffle detection. This short struggle is indicated by the posture of the body. who was squatting down and leaning forward over her cooking. and with the button broken off. Then. while he drew back. And that is all. which was. but she was not killed instantly." "That is all true. The woman. your well-dressed young man must have been just a little embarrassed in carrying a bundle covered with a snow white napkin. By wiping the weapon upon his victim's skirt. for. he was not fool enough to take the omnibus. the end of a foil. He began by drinking a glass of wine. He stabbed her twice on the back. It is for him this magnificent glass. and even emptied the mattress of the bed. of which he could not find the key. After an internal struggle of ten minutes (the time it must have taken to cook the ham and eggs as much as they are). and throwing the key into a ditch. a present. broke open the secretary. he fled. upset the cupboards. He wrapped everything he found worth taking in the napkin which was to have served him at dinner. which . He was not. letters. Tabaret. by suggesting a robbery. carrying with him all that he finds valuable. What did this well-dressed young gentleman want? Money? Valuables? No! no! a hundred times no! What he wanted." murmured M. however. he returned on foot by the shortest way. he overturned everything. my old Tirauclair?" "Pyramidal!" cried Gevrol ironically. her very best. She half arose seizing the assassin by the hands." "Now. he asked for brandy. Well. then we have got the young man seated. "Have you examined the dead woman's finger-nails. Daburon. Gevrol? No. no doubt. it is naturally on her back that she ought to have fallen. and blowing out the candle. and I am persuaded your inferences are correct. M. "I fear.--" "Gloves! Why this is romance. but in the little stove in the front room. hurt in the struggle. and swallowed about five small glassfuls. burned them. now dead. The murderer used a sharp narrow weapon. Did she use it? No. while the widow was putting her pan on the fire. his heart failing him. of course. No. locking the door on the outside. and then tell me whether I am mistaken. do so. as he had not taken off his lavender kid gloves. For her guest she brought out a clean linen one. not in the fire-place. "very true. however. unless I am deceived. we come to the object of her assassination. and it is evident she did not often use this knife with the ivory handle. The victim must have clung with a death-grip to his hands." said the magistrate." "Ah!" cried Lecoq. squatting down and being struck in the back. "He did not carry it a hundred leagues. And then do you know what he did with them? Why. to reach the railway station." exclaimed Gevrol. unfolded the linen.superior rank to her own. His end accomplished. To find them. which he knew to be in the possession of the victim. that. "is he not colossal. sharpened. the assassin leaves us this indication. lifting her suddenly." responded old Tabaret. which could be so easily seen from a distance. were papers. At last he found these documents. "You may well believe.

Old Tabaret examined with extreme care the dead woman's finger-nails. who still clung to his own opinion of the guilt of the man with the rings in his ears. old enthusiast?" "Yes. we shall discover--" He did not finish. Thanks to old Tabaret." demanded he. I have promised them a recompense. declared he would remain at Bougival. but Gevrol. Daburon. filled with plate. they are diverted further and further from the truth. and the best evidence of my belief is. That unpleasant task accomplished. "Now. Night had come on. If the researches take at the first step a false direction. finally he declared that Widow Lerouge had eaten about three hours before being struck. He put aside also the part of the dress upon which the assassin had wiped his weapon. which these men have found. that I have sent three men. M. and jewels. to drag the Seine at the nearest spot from here. his first care was to throw this tell-tale bundle into the water. and the different casts taken by the old fellow. round the neck of the victim. under the surveillance of a gendarme. The greatest obstacle to success in the unravelling of mysterious crimes is in mistaking the motive. and finding if possible new witnesses. the position of the body. In his opinion also. Gevrol. but all the same their colour was easily distinguishable. using infinite precaution." Old Tabaret took from his pocket-book a bank note. it only confirmed the assertions and conjectures of old Tabaret. they claim the hundred francs' reward. who said: "Here is a soiled table-napkin. hardly perceptible. He pointed out a bluish circle. after . but this little was enormous in the eyes of M. These with the bundle recovered from the Seine. M. Nothing now remained except to collect the different objects which would be useful for the prosecution. Now on reaching the Seine. M. He determined to employ the evening in visiting the different wine shops. there had been a struggle. crushing Gevrol with one disdainful glance. The largest of these pieces was not above the twenty-fifth part of an inch in length. and he had strong hopes of discovering the culprit. as the old man had done.borders the river. The doctor explained. promised them." "If they should however find this bundle!" murmured M. thanks to your remarkable penetration. "I don't mind making a bet on it. At the moment of departure. money. and might at a later period confound the culprit." "Out of your own pocket. unless he is more knowing than I take him to be. he even extracted from behind them several small particles of kid. If they succeed in finding the bundle. He was interrupted by the entrance of a gendarme. It was not much. Tirauclair?" asked Gevrol. Daburon. Daburon had now nothing more to do at La Jonchere. the magistrate felt confident that he was in the right path. which he handed to the gendarme. The doctor summoned to make the post-mortem examination entered the room. and. "what thinks the investigating magistrate after this?" "That." "Do you believe so. were all the traces the murderer had left behind him. produced apparently by the powerful grasp of the murderer. in proportion to the length they are followed. out of my own pocket.

and if her son Jacques is in the navy." he inquired. M. "All depends upon that now!" "We shall ascertain them. "but your name did not occur to me.the commissary and the entire party had wished M. sir. They were fortunate enough to secure a 1st class carriage to themselves. When I was five and twenty years of age. but I used to curse him heartily. more than nine years. that you are rich. Daburon. "How. and naturally the crime which had been discovered. I should like to know. I heaped upon his memory all the insults that can be inspired by the most violent hatred. "I was about to solicit that honour. Tabaret. he sought. Daburon. sir. He reflected. weariness. loneliness." he replied. and with which they were mutually preoccupied. I had a father who wasted my youth. I will write to the minister this very night. I was earning two thousand francs a year. the minister of marine can furnish information that will soon lead to their discovery." replied M. They set out together. formed the subject of their conversation. ruined my life. when I learnt. Tabaret to accompany him. as a clerk at the Monte de Piete. M. M." There are men who can never divest themselves of their professional habits. if the grocer's wife has told the truth. Until I was forty-five years old. "have you been long associated with the police?" "Nine years. is your reason for adopting this employment?" "Sorrow. and took their places in the train. Daburon. the latter asked M. "If the husband of Widow Lerouge was a sailor. and permit me to confess I am a little surprised that you have never before heard of me. which revealed the most cruel deceptions. In the first transports of my resentment. Ah! I have not always been happy!" "I have been told. Daburon." The old fellow heaved a deep sigh. and it was only in consequence of hearing you praised that I had the excellent idea of asking your assistance. "I am well off. But what. M. "Shall we. One morning my father entered . sir! I have forgiven him at last. though. and made me the most pitiable of human creatures. Daburon was at all times and seasons more or less an investigating magistrate. he combined." They reached the station at Rueil." replied the old fellow. Daburon watched him curiously and felt singularly attracted by this eccentric old man. "but I have not always been so. yes.--But I will confide my history to you. whose very original taste had led him to devote his services to the secret police of the Rue de Jerusalem. "your father the author of all your misfortunes?" "Alas." "I certainly knew you by reputation. But old Tabaret was no longer disposed for conversation. Daburon good-night. M. ascertain the antecedents of this woman!" repeated old Tabaret. or shall we not. "M Tabaret." he suddenly asked." answered M. and in his face might easily be read the working of his thoughts. my life was a series of absurd and useless privations.

It is thirty years now since that time. "Hear. and during twenty years I was encumbered with the old--" "What! you repent of your admirable conduct. Ah. Notwithstanding this. to augment our scanty revenues. the--" "M. Naturally. and abruptly announced to me that he was ruined. Who can tell what has become of her? She was beautiful and poor. Well. But pshaw! when such thoughts entered my heart and forced a tear or two from my eyes. I am sure I am blushing as red as a tomato. like a dog. and to see innocent healthy little ones gambolling about my knees. "Was it not. in thus acting. and. he should want for nothing.' And yet I met a young girl. Daburon was unable to repress a gesture of surprise.--no more friends. and remain a bachelor. than my own advantage." M. M. and talked of killing himself. In the evenings. I have forgiven him. the old fellow complained without ceasing. imbecile. "for shame. besides. to adore a good wife. he left a will wherein he declared. and keep me from the commission of follies. or that. I strove to reassure him. sir? I was robbing myself of my own money! To crown his hypocrisy. rent every three months to the "That was too much!" M. to habituate me to habits of good order and economy. I worked at copying law papers for a notary. well! just look at me. Tabaret!" "But I have already told you. No sooner said than done. sir. And I was forty-five years old. I found a memorandum of an income of twenty thousand francs!" "How so! was he rich?" "Yes. I loved my father. by whom I might be loved a little. sot. I said: 'My lad. while I earned the means for living. He now live in. and stupid animal that I was. my utmost exertions failed to satisfy him. On the day of his death. he regretted his lost fortune. when you earn but three thousand francs a year. where we lived together. Her name was Hortense. and have an old and cherished father to support. "There was I at twenty-five. I rebelled against myself. to commence. He wished. Tabaret!" interrupted the magistrate.my lodging. I boasted of my situation. and without food or shelter. nothing. it is your duty to stifle such desires. Daburon could not help saying. fool. which did not escape the old fellow's notice. Tabaret?" "Do I repent of it! That is to say he deserved to be poisoned by the bread I gave him. heaven alone knows what I suffered! I was not born to live alone and grow old. I was quite an old man when my father died. and explained to him at some length. in the name of Holy Trinity. no more flirtations. so he wrote." he continued. My dream was to marry. imposing upon myself the severest privations for the sake of my father. for that was not all: he leased for six thousand francs a year. used to pay the concierge!" owned near Orleans a property owned. He appeared in despair. that. I longed for the pleasures of a home and a family. and for twenty years I had been reproaching myself . I denied myself even the luxury of tobacco. he must have pocket-money. you will soon understand my anger. I insisted that henceforth we should live together. that he had no other aim in view. before you condemn me. very rich. with which to buy this. the wretch. M. However. looking in his secretary. the house I I.

novels. Memoirs. I resigned my situation. too. I resolved to give myself a passion. Tabaret. reports. however. and the victory is not inglorious! The game in my sport is equal to the hunter. it came too late. Ah! if people but knew the excitement of these games of hide and seek which are played between the criminal and the detective. I. knows exactly the value of a man. In short. and . as relentlessly as the savages of Cooper pursue their enemies in the depths of the American forests. lifts the most impervious veils. .--a small assistance in the punishment of crime and the triumph of innocence. I collected all I could find which related. he had speculated on my good heart.if ever I spent a single sou uselessly. The desire seized me to become a wheel of this admirable machine. . as well as the most shameful secrets! In reading the memoirs of celebrated detectives." said he. sir. and which accumulates in its portfolios the most terrible. dear M. through the rushwood of legality. a mania. my liveliest enjoyments. divines what is kept hidden. sir. I made the essay. was so highly ludicrous. must be learned?" "I know. strength. that M. from the obscurity of the Rue de Jerusalem. that little by little I became attracted towards the mysterious power which. that the art is becoming lost. in spite of the real sadness of the recital. letters. everybody would be wanting employment at the office of the Rue de Jerusalem. but who is most certainly unable to sign his own name. more attractive to me than the fables of our best authors I became inspired by an enthusiastic admiration for those men. artful and penetrating. I shrug my shoulders when I see a foolish fellow pay twenty-five francs for the right of hunting a hare. The misfortune is. You think. fertile in expedients. Daburon had much difficulty to restrain his laughter. to make way for some one poorer than myself. and I found I did not succeed too badly. "this fortune must have given you pleasure. Bah! on my word. he had . What a prize! Give me the hunting of a man! That. sir. who follow crime on the trail. to the police. Tabaret's anger." "This is very likely. and.--all suited me. so subtle. "At least. The arms are nearly equal. they both possess intelligence. perhaps that to take an interest in books a man must have studied. Adieu weariness! since I have abandoned the search for books to the search for men. They sign their names to their misdeeds. Great crimes are now so rare. a hobby. flexible as steel. and I read all the books I bought. watches over and protects society. and cunning. so keen scented. armed with the law. The race of strong fearless criminals has given place to the mob of vulgar pick-pockets. calls the faculties into play. it is enough to disgust the human race with filial piety!" M. no matter how little. sees through every plot. and I devoured them. that he must have money. can read. at least. So much so. speeches. I became a collector of books." "And does this employment please you?" "I owe to it. Of what avail to have the bread when one has no longer the teeth? The marriageable age had passed. I am acquainted with an illustrious bibliomaniac who may be able to read. At the end of a month I was sick and tired of life. to replace the affections that had been denied me. which penetrates everywhere. the price of a conscience. pamphlets." "Not at all. The few rascals who are heard of occasionally are as cowardly as foolish. albeit very real and justified.

and you will always find me either at my home. I will do everything for that. if by any chance he should procure the papers of Widow Lerouge. Their crime found out. smiling. For I ought to confess.--" "It seems to me. It was a fine building carefully kept. There is no merit in catching them. M. It was agreed." "Till to-morrow. is an exception. Daburon promised to keep him advised of the least evidence that transpired. He occupied on the first floor. and I shall have greater delight in tracking him. as well as habit. the principal of which was his collection of books. "that our assassin is not such a bungler. do not hesitate to come at night as well as during the day. On his side M.even leave their cards lying about. Indeed. Tabaret. "We shall succeed. Tabaret credit. overlooking the street. you have only to go and arrest them." replied old Tabaret. some handsome apartments. Besides. M. "To you." said the magistrate in conclusion." The train entered the station at this moment. Lazare. "that I do not boast to my friends of my exploits. Daburon. They would perhaps shake hands with me less warmly did they know that Tirauclair and Tabaret were one and the same. only a few steps from here. The old fellow found plenty of room in it. No one in the house had the slightest suspicion of the avocations of the proprietor. sir." CHAPTER III. though. to whom on great occasions the concierge lent a helping hand. "It is not worth while. in the Rue St." interrupted M. Tabaret. Tabaret's house was in fact not more than four minutes' walk from the railway terminus of St. "for I live. He boasted that in eight days he should examine all the people round about. slightly embarrassed. Daburon. M. The old fellow declined. He lived very simply from taste. and recall him." he replied." Insensibly the crime became again the subject of conversation. or in my office at the Palais de Justice. offered a seat to M. I rarely go out. having called a cab. I will even compromise myself if necessary." added he. M. I will give orders for your admittance whenever you present yourself. "I shall be always at home. If you have any occasion to speak to me. Tabaret should install himself at Bougival. they mistook for incipient idiocy his continual abstraction of mind. I even conceal them as carefully as possible. Lazare. and he added." "He. Daburon. as I have had the honour of telling you. M. It is true that all who knew him remarked the singularity of his . and which probably yielded a fine income though the rents were not too high. Daburon. that. well arranged and comfortably furnished. then!" said M. Rue Jacob. "Till to-morrow. the first thing in the morning. even the humblest agent of police would be expected to possess a degree of acuteness for which no one gave M. waited on by an old servant.

advancing one step and receding two. and so they suppressed her. with a noble and intelligent face. and that was her fortune. However." "All is in that. he had often thought of asking the hand of this charming widow. tall and well made. Her name was Madame Gerdy. but he almost invariably refused. so blinded was the old fellow to external objects. though devoted to his profession. which persons rich and powerful had the strongest motives for concealing. She was a widow lady. he had by his will. that he was more often in her apartment. she saw. He repeated to himself for the fiftieth time the words uttered by Widow Lerouge. she probably went too far. with some ostentation. "Is it not disgraceful. They would invite him to dinner. and. and greater industry. Many believed they saw in him a shameless libertine. or discovered. Short as was the distance to his house. old Tabaret felt himself quite at home. To propose and to be rejected would sever the existing relations. . a great rigidity of principle. he passed for having great talent. first jostled on the right. In spite of her fifty years. prevent many of his tenants from seeking his society and paying court to him. a man of his age?" He was aware of all this tittle-tattle. but looking older. and how did she become possessed of it? Most likely she was in her youth a servant in some great family. old Tabaret was a good quarter of an hour in reaching it. and whilst there. He seldom visited but one person of the house.habits. whom she adored. Daburon his thoughts reverted to the scene of the murder. and she lived with her son Noel. ate it mattered not what or when. She made them sing to her tune. with the single condition of founding an annual prize of two thousand francs to be bestowed on the police agent who during the year had unravelled the most obscure and mysterious crime. and affected. I could have it. which was deposited with his notary constituted this young advocate his sole legatee." murmured he. and even disappeared for entire weeks at a time. and fellows of ill-favoured and sinister aspect. Never was young libertine more irregular in his habits than this old man. that he moved along the street. then on the left. and had already gained a certain amount of notoriety. In Madame Gerdy's apartment. however. odd looking men of suspicious appearance. Noel Gerdy was a man thirty-three years of age. She had them in her power. Then too he received the strangest visitors. as reported by the milk-woman. They would remark to one another. and laughed at it. often slept abroad. so much so indeed. He came or failed to come home to his meals. "Widow Lerouge possessed some important secret. His frequent absences from home had given to his proceedings an appearance at once eccentric and mysterious. He considered her as a relation. But of what nature was this secret. On leaving M. An advocate. so pleasurable to him. and austerity of manners. perhaps. and black hair which curled naturally. large black eyes. and looked upon Noel as a son. He went out at every hour of the day and night. cold and meditative. who squandered his income in disreputable places. who for fifteen years had occupied an apartment on the third floor. heard. He was an obstinate worker. but with that one he was very intimate. This irregular way of living had robbed the old fellow of much consideration. by the busy passers by. and was restrained less by the fear of a refusal than its consequence. "If I wished for any more. This did not. than in his own.

"Ah." said she. however. "It must be something worse than a mere love affair. He had taken off his hat. and remained. would have seen nothing. I thought you were not coming back this evening. "He is certainly touched in the head. and. for the crime has been admirably executed." "Well." replied the housekeeper. forgetting that he had his latch-key in his pocket. His housekeeper opened the door. and rang his bell. A person of inferior rank would have simply hired an assassin. fortunately I have kept your dinner warm. as if . But yet it can hardly be that.something--What? Evidently there is a woman at the bottom of it. Have you at least dined?" "No. "I have not yet got hold of the clue. "No. as though suddenly struck by an idea. I am getting near it. "just look at him now." "Is it not positively indecent. "that it is more than half-past eight o'clock. for it is the lover who has moved in this affair." Old Tabaret took his place at the table." said the concierge. is it you. Did she assist her mistress in some love intrigue? What more probable? And in that case the affair becomes even more complicated. the housekeeper. The concierge seated by the window of his lodge saw him as he passed beneath the gas lamp. gesticulated violently. But for me. and bawled in his ear." "Look at him now!" interrupted his wife. He is." said he. but mounting his hobby-horse again. and helped himself to soup. He seems more loose than ever. while talking to himself. he himself has struck the blow and by that means avoiding the indiscretion or the stupidity of an accomplice. in the middle of the courtyard!" The old fellow had stopped at the extremity of the porch." He mounted the staircase. You can sit down to it at once. The fellow left nothing behind of a nature to compromise him seriously. sir. believing in the robbery. he forgot to eat." Old Tabaret entered the porch of the house." continued the old man. not yet. Not only must the woman be found but her lover also." "So he has. full of audacity and coolness. "but it looks as though his princess would have nothing to do with him to-night." said he. his spoon in the air. "and at this hour!" "What's that you say?" asked the old fellow. "What. This man has not hung back." replied his wife. or I am greatly deceived. "I say. "and isn't he in a state! His fair ones do treat him well! One of these fine mornings I shall have to take him to a lunatic asylum in a straight waistcoat. "Look at that stupid expression. but have not yet found it out. Who in his senses would lead the life he does?" She touched him on the shoulder. I was there. a man of noble birth. He is a courageous rascal. "the proprietor has returned at last. Fortunately. Gevrol." thought Manette.

the dessert. and." He called again. would be no longer formidable. The lady had a lover--found herself enciente." He rang the bell placed on the table beside him. "did I not think of it before? Poor humanity! I am growing old. She had a secret worth a farm in Brie. "it is certain there is a child!" Manette approached him quickly. and my brain is worn out. The father is the man of the fine carriage. Ha! ha! I can well believe the dear old dame wanted for nothing. They have been able to take the infant away from her." murmured he. "You were obliged--?" repeated Manette. "and leave me to myself. But the old lady was . The child has been preserved. when a young woman. remaining with his mouth open. an accomplice in an infanticide. and stay there until I call you. trying mechanically to escape the voice that sounded in his ears. "Thunder!" cried he. for since the morning I have been obliged--" He interrupted himself. but not the proofs of its birth and its existence. as she disappeared very quickly." said he to himself. "What next!" cried he in a furious tone. "has become of the child? Has it been destroyed? No.--"You do not eat." continued he.--"heaven's thunder! I have it!" His movement was so violent and sudden that the housekeeper was a little alarmed.he were deaf. "What are you doing there? Has your hardihood come to this that you pick up the words which escape me? Do me the pleasure to retire to your kitchen. "Bring the roast. is in the service of a great lady. and retired to the further end of the dining-room." "Yes. by whom it has been reared. with her assistance. "But what." he said. immensely rich. "I am very hungry. probably had departed on a long voyage. She confided in the Widow Lerouge." "He is going crazy!" thought Manette." muttered he. yes. near the door. For it is clear as day. Are you not hungry?" "Yes. the circumstances all point to that conclusion. He would have been puzzled to say what he had eaten for diner. raising his clenched fists towards the ceiling. Her husband. the servant reappeared. He hastily swallowed his soup which was completely cold. Here is the opening. a sailor. and confided to the care of our widow. "Manette. or even what he was eating at this moment. there is a child. for the Widow Lerouge. the mother is the lady who came with the handsome young man. his eyes fixed on vacancy. "Why. Old Tabaret resumed his seat. and here is his history! The Widow Lerouge. and get out!" Certainly such a master was unworthy of so excellent a cook as Manette. "Yes. "A child?" she asked in astonishment. accomplished a clandestine accouchement. it was a preserve of pears." continued he furiously carving a leg of Presale mutton--"Yes.

But. I will have a chat with Noel. had made them almost rich. the noise of a blow upon the table. he is too old. poor man! Won't he feel vexed and humiliated. put on his overcoat. sir?" asked Manette. "Are you going out. on the other hand. her expenses and her demands have increased year by year. listened with all her soul. The night is necessary to me to sift to the bottom all the particulars. He attempted to swallow his coffee at a gulp. "Thunder!" growled he. and took his hat and cane. By jupiter! The son. M. Daburon? No. but scalded himself so severely that the pain brought him suddenly from speculation to reality. But who amongst the whole lot of them could have. She lived very quietly.extravagant." he answered. not yet. They have been frightened. "For certain. if I sit here all alone. Poor humanity! She has leaned upon the staff too heavily. Madame Gerdy lived in respectable style. and as I have just eaten a great deal. and broken it. from time to time she gleaned a word. an oath. whom Noel occasionally invited to dinner." He got up from the table. the brave boy! He has slain the witness and burnt the proofs!" Manette all this time." "Shall you be late?" "Possibly. The old fellow caught her in the very act. 'Let there be an end of this!' But who has charged himself with the commission? The papa? No. you may bring it to me. They are right when they say I am too enthusiastic. "but it is hot! Devil take the case! it has set me beside myself." thought she. and her son's practice. established the whole history of the assassination? Certainly not Gevrol. this confounded case will keep me in a fever of speculation. "his women are running in his head. "Monsieur wants his coffee?" stammered she timidly. already large. My faith! I will call upon Madame Gerdy: she has been ailing for some days past. Hearing no more. "Yes. and that will change the course of my ideas. she ventured to open the door a little way. "Yes. and arrange my ideas systematically." "But you will return to-night?" "I do not know. received very few visitors.--the child himself! He would save his mother. During more than fifteen years that M. Tabaret came familiarly ." One minute later. by the sole exercise of observation and reason. She possessed sufficient for her wants. I may get an attack of indigestion. and said." Her curiosity overcame her prudence. She has threatened. being altogether out of it. Tabaret was ringing his friend's bell. her ear to the keyhole. and with the exception of one or two friends. Shall I seek M. but that was all.

his advice a decree of Providence. Tabaret. all crumpled. for the sacrifices which all supposed he made in living at his age like an old man.to the apartments. but he said there was no need. they played at a round game called Boston. and ought to be agreeable. lay before it on the carpet. He was supposed to work far into the night. she said to me--" "Yes. Madame Gerdy's large arm-chair was near the window. a newspaper. when she uttered a great cry. he had only met the cure of the parish. The neighbours were in the habit of contrasting the conduct of this exemplary young man with that of M. which was not in its accustomed order. Her love had actually taken the form of worship. "Is Madame Gerdy visible?" asked old Tabaret of the girl who opened the door. she was silent and listened: his word was a command. but shut himself up after dinner in his study. Noel raised her in his arms. They loved and honoured Noel for the care he bestowed upon his mother. As for Madame Gerdy. This morning. and immersed himself in his law papers. I wanted to fetch the doctor. Scarcely had she begun to read. In Noel she believed she saw united all the physical and moral perfections. To her he seemed of a superior order to the rest of humanity. "Do not speak of it. one of Noel's old professors. The small marble-top table. A single candle lighted the drawing-room. and carried her into her room. was the sole aim of her life. on other evenings piquet or all-fours was the rule. he walked into the room like a man assured that his presence cannot be inopportune. anticipate his wishes. had been rolled into a corner. she saw nothing but her son in all the world. for his more than filial devotion. the incorrigible old rake. and. sir." . The amateur detective took in the whole at a glance. and Madame Gerdy's brother. When these three visitors happened to call on the same evening. She sat down and took up one of M. She has eaten I may say almost nothing. he knew what was the matter with her. yes! but this evening?" "After her dinner. a retired colonel. as all who knew them took pleasure in repeating. madame had fallen on to the floor. sir: we have just had a fright! oh. even. To care for her son. however. Often in winter his lamp was not extinguished before dawn. usually in the middle of the room. If he spoke. without waiting for an answer. M. such a fright!" "What was it? tell me quickly!" "You know that madame has been ailing for the last month. She was a mother. as one dead. "Has any accident happened?" he asked of the girl. a terrible cry! We hastened to her. which with his bedroom formed a separate apartment to his mother's. study his tastes. the hairless dangler. an event somewhat rare. Noel's newspapers. Mother and son absolutely lived for one another.--oh. Noel. seldom remained in the drawing-room. madame went into the drawing-room as usual.

and talking very loudly too. an uncontrollable curiosity made him peruse the entire newspaper. He found nothing with the exception of these lines. A minute had scarcely elapsed when he in his turn bounded in his chair. as if by a convulsive grasp. remarking that the newspaper was slightly torn at the lower part. named Lerouge." "Thunder!" said old Tabaret to himself. "one always hears wrong through key-holes." thought the incorrigible police agent. very strange!" "What is strange?" "What I heard Madame Gerdy say to M.--" "My girl!" interrupted old Tabaret severely. enough!" said the old man. and crushed. All that I do know is. "A horrible crime has plunged the village of La Jonchere in consternation. for I heard her. at the same time. "It is an extremely singular coincidence.-"It is strange!" At this moment the door of Madame Gerdy's room opened." The poor girl. for M. that is to say. do you?" "No. Ask Manette if that is not so. These were the first words that met his eye. I assure you. Noel made me leave the room. and seated himself beside the fire. . has been assassinated in her home. he fell back into his chair. shrugging his shoulders. "Return to your work: you need not disturb M. to justify or explain even the slightest emotion. A poor widow. Ah. The officers of the law have made the usual preliminary investigations. and.-"Really this affair of La Jonchere is driving me out of my senses! I can think of nothing but this Widow Lerouge. "can it be that Madame Gerdy?--" The idea but flashed across his mind. She said. murmured. I shall be seeing her in everything now. I suppose so. Noel. thoroughly confused. but madame cried out like one lost. sir. and everything leads us to believe that the police are already on the track of the author of this dastardly crime. Noel. who enjoyed the general esteem and love of the community." And satisfied with the reproof he had administered. "so you listen at key-holes. sir. placing the candle near him so as to read with ease. and stifled a cry of instinctive terror and surprise. he repeated. I can wait for him very well here. it is all the same. sought to excuse herself."And how is she now?" "She has come to her senses. Then. and Noel appeared on the threshold." "Ah ha! my girl!" sneered old Tabaret. "Enough. he picked up the newspaper. that a little while ago she was talking." In the mean while.

-"What! your mother knew the Widow Lerouge?" By an effort he restrained himself. "It is plain you have been seriously alarmed. No doubt he was unprepared for this point blank question. "Calm my inquietude. "but I knew her well. ordinarily so calm. How is your mother?" "Madame Gerdy is as well as can be expected. wore an expression of profound sorrow. He appeared surprised to see old Tabaret. and knew not what answer to make." "Then you. my dear Noel!" cried the old fellow. and to answer him. that. and was leading him by the hand. whose voice seemed broken by emotion." "Ah!" replied old Tabaret. She was my nurse.Without doubt the accident to his mother had greatly excited him. devoted to her in every way! She would have sacrificed herself for her at a sign from her hand. . seating himself. perceived nothing." replied the advocate. Providence had evidently chosen him for its instrument. for he was very pale and his countenance. This time he was thunderstruck. as if consulting with himself." "Madame Gerdy!" repeated the old fellow with an air of astonishment. my dear friend." "In truth.-"Madame Gerdy has suffered a severe shock in learning from a paragraph in this newspaper that a woman in whom she takes a strong interest has been assassinated. "I have experienced a rude shock. which half an hour ago he had almost despaired of procuring. as much disquieted on his side. to listen to the old fellow. but was restrained by the fear of revealing the secret of his association with the police. "At least. Indeed he had almost betrayed himself by the eagerness with which he exclaimed. "Ah." Noel was making visibly the greatest efforts to appear calm." replied Noel. you knew this poor woman!" "I had not seen her for a very long time. The old fellow was in a fever of embarrassment. "She was. "tell me how this happened?" The young man hesitated a moment. "the slave of Madame Gerdy. Yet he understood." continued Noel. He wanted to question Noel. I ought even to say I loved her tenderly. at last he replied. and with difficulty dissembled his satisfaction. for he was delighted to find himself so unexpectedly on the trace of the antecedents of the victim of La Jonchere. Old Tabaret." said he. this woman?" stammered old Tabaret. He was about to obtain all the information. He remained seated before Noel amazed and speechless." "She. my dear boy. but he continued. Widow Lerouge Noel's nurse? He was most unfortunate.

" murmured the advocate. Do not scruple to let me serve you. have you not friends? am I not here? Have confidence. for one is a bad judge of his own cause. "It is a great misfortune. I cannot say. "What it is for Madame Gerdy. In fact. of being an ambitious intriguer. I had to avenge myself for cruel injuries.--"but no." replied Noel with a gloomy air." commenced the advocate." he murmured at last. "but. M. "In heaven's name. . no scruples of conscience. indeed if between us two--" The advocate started to his feet. "compose yourself." replied the young man drily. amazed old Tabaret. for me. I require a counsellor whose voice will encourage me. you shall know all. he must speak. singularly affected by his dear Noel's sadness." "You unfortunate?" cried old Tabaret. "the servant will attend to her. I have need of a friend to console me. what has happened to you?" "I suffer. "yes. has annihilated all my dreams of the future.unless he would compromise himself. her death breaks the weapon in my hands." said he. come. The part I have been playing irritates and wearies me. this cold disdain. A thousand troubled and confused ideas jostled one another in inextricable confusion. When Noel and old Tabaret were seated face to face in Noel's study. Who would believe any calumny uttered about you? Take courage. but here am I totally without defence delivered over to the shafts of calumny. and reduces me to despair. and this crime has plunged me into an abyss of hesitations. Alas! I am indeed unfortunate. I may be accused of inventing falsehood. and said: "What if your mother should require anything." Old Tabaret was puzzled. Let us go into my study." CHAPTER IV. Tabaret. to impotence. having no regard for truth. "Well! yes." This indifference." replied M. "Come. Her death. Not only do I fear that the injustice is irreparable. and it will be strange. the old fellow felt uneasy. Tabaret kindly. impressed by a sudden resolution." "If Madame Gerdy rings. Noel. accustomed as he was to the affectionate relations always existing between mother and son. and the door had been carefully shut. "and very cruelly." "You know." "Know then. What connection could possibly exist between Noel's honour and the assassination at La Jonchere? His brain was in a whirl. it is an overwhelming misfortune! I am struck to the heart by the blow which has slain this poor woman. "that I regard you as my own son. I am tired of carrying all alone a secret that is stifling me. tell me what troubles you. not here: what I have to say must not be overheard. and probably overthrown my most cherished hopes." interrupted he.

Madame Gerdy is not my mother!" This sentence fell like a heavy blow on the head of the amateur detective. Pshaw! She never had a husband. then aloud he said. sacrificed my youth! How she must have laughed at me! Her infamy dates from the moment when for the first time she took me on her knees. she has sustained without faltering her execrable role. She must have been assisted. Noel? Is it credible? Is it probable?" "It is improbable. "do you really know what you are saying. he took several strides about the room. could no longer control his anger. perhaps her husband himself. "Ah! you too have believed her a widow. a princely inheritance!" "We are getting near it!" thought old Tabaret. We must believe Madame Gerdy possessed of an amount of audacity and ability rarely to be met with in a woman. which you will have forgotten to-morrow." commenced old Tabaret. "calm yourself.--for she has a son. and. You have. for her sake. said. That is to say. as a the jingling of his harness. my fortune." "Her husband!" interrupted the advocate. "This is very serious. to give to her bastard all that lawfully appertained to me. this caution. but tell me what you mean by calling her Madame Gerdy?" "What I mean?" rejoined the advocate in a hollow tone. my dear Noel. "more cruelly deceived. Do not allow yourself to be overcome by a feeling of irritation. Gevrol. lies! And I adored her! Ah! why can I not take back all the embraces I bestowed on her in exchange for her Judas kisses? And for what was all this heroism of deception. advised. my name. this woman has played a most marvellous and unworthy comedy.-"Because.--"what I mean?" Then rising from his arm-chair. to ennoble and enrich her son. with a laugh. to rob me. he became more and more animated. But Noel heard not. usually so cold. terribly serious. and. compelled perhaps. who. falsehood! her caresses. some little pique against your mother. Don't speak of her in this icy tone. but yet it is true." replied Noel with a peculiar emphasis which was habitual to him: "it is incredible. who knew not how to show my affection for her. Her love for me was nothing but hypocrisy! her devotion. a noble name. this duplicity? To betray me more securely.--at my expense!" "My friend. self-contained. "Oh!" he said. who loved this woman. who was fast relapsing into the colleague of M. for thirty-three years. M. to despoil me. the defunct Gerdy . more miserably duped. Noel. Who have been her accomplices? She could never have managed this unaided. so At the sound of his good horse might at and seemed hardly in a state to hear." said he."For heaven's sake. The young man. I see. than I have been! I." continued he. until these few days past. own voice. in the tone one assumes when rejecting an absurd proposition. "Was ever man. ever since my birth. if you will. who in the background of the picture presented by this singular revelation saw again the phantom of the murdered Widow Lerouge. Tabaret. returning to his place near the old fellow. all that you have been saying.

I made the discovery by chance. she will deny it. and excused her in her own eyes. would have rendered them decisive. she accused herself." Noel would probably have continued much longer to pour forth his furious denunciations. she seemed ready to die of grief: and I. there was no husband. on the day when he had had enough of her. She wept. my friend. I opened Madame Gerdy's secretary. No. had always hidden from me." "Three weeks ago. And what misfortunes might have been averted by this marriage with a young girl whom I loved! However I did not complain to her whom I then called my mother. in spite of my prayers. one single word. He had not leisure to reflect. I carried off the packet. and a packet of letters fell in front of my eyes. You ask me for advice. I read the first letter which came to my hand. son of the girl Gerdy and an unknown father!" "Ah!" cried the old fellow. you understand. and renders my proofs null and void!" "Explain it all to me. shut myself up in this room. At the end of ten lines. then. My father doubtless will turn against me. since they have killed her. How have you learned this? Have you any proofs? where are they?" The decided tone in which the old fellow spoke. I know her. he took up his hat and threw her three hundred thousand francs. The old fellow felt he was on the point of learning a history in every way similar to that which he had imagined. prompted me to untie the string. almost caused him to forget to express any sympathy for his friend's misfortunes." said old Tabaret after a pause--"all. A mechanical impulse." . that was the reason. and I am perhaps the best adviser you could have chosen. which I cannot explain." remarked M. I was a bastard. very much a bastard. This word she cannot now pronounce." commenced Noel. the price of the pleasures she had given him. Now. with her head on the block. but they are mere presumptive evidence. "Be it so. Noel. poor fool! I consoled her as best I could. impelled by an invincible curiosity. and. Accidentally I displaced one of the small shelves: some papers tumbled out. Madame Gerdy will deny all. now this crime makes my certitude but a vain boast. Come. "searching for some old documents. have awakened Noel's attention. He therefore answered. and his impatience to know whether he had guessed aright. anyhow I read. to the point.never existed." "You did wrong. but she had said it to me. I am certain. I have important moral proofs. Tabaret. "do not let us digress. "that then was the reason why your marriage with Mademoiselle Levernois was broken off four years ago?" "Yes. and. Tabaret stopped him. You can understand my emotion. Do such women as she have husbands? She was my father's mistress. A word from Widow Lerouge. and I possess proofs." said he. "My dear boy. Tabaret. We old ones are sometimes able to give good advice. I dried her tears. dear M. should no doubt. whose name. I was convinced that these letters were from my father.-"I have known the truth for three weeks past. but he did not notice it. We will decide what's to be done afterwards. Madame Gerdy. and devoured the correspondence from beginning to end. but M.

I cannot help hating this woman. the advocate opened a letter. "'This is a happy day. and commenced reading in a voice which trembled at times. . Do not interrupt yourself. which." "I know. it was true! Heaven has blessed our love. in spite of me bears my name. add their own weight to the rest. then. "You understand. oh. I have covered it with kisses." The advocate opened one of the drawers of his bureau. "'I shall have a son. that you may understand the case in which I have requested your advice." replied Noel.'-"Valerie. she too will soon render me a father. After a selection. "'My dearly loved Valerie. who. the son of my detested wife. I have re-read it a hundred times. We shall have a son. I am only going to deal with the more important facts." he resumed. "and. nor even a name. This morning I received your darling letter. and now it has gone to join the others here upon my heart. Who can describe my sorrow when I compare the fortunes of these two children? "'The one. Tabaret. pressed an invisible spring. his face and his eyes expressing the most anxious attention. burning with curiosity. in spite of his efforts to render it calm. since a law framed to make lovers unhappy prevents my acknowledging him. innocent victim though she is of the barbarity of our parents. I know. This letter. to complete my misery. M. You were not deceived. he drew out a bundle of letters." "You have at least preserved these letters?" "I have them here." Old Tabaret nestled in his arm-chair. And. but they afford the proof of what I just now told you." said he. which he was some time in making." Noel then resumed. noble. "is Madame Gerdy."And you have been cruelly punished my poor boy!" "It is true. the son of the object of my tenderest love. by the sole fact of his birth. however. treating directly of the affair. the living image of my adored Valerie! Oh! why are we separated by such an immense distance? Why have I not wings that I might fly to your feet and fall into your arms. will have neither father nor family. my love! has nearly killed me with joy. I am going to read them to you. but who in my position could have resisted? These letters have given me great pain. "that I will spare you all insignificant details. While the other. my friend. "'My dearly loved Valerie. full of the sweetest voluptuousness! No! never as at this moment have I cursed the fatal union imposed upon me by an inexorable family. whom my tears could not move. will be rich. and from a hidden receptacle constructed in the thick upper shelf.

in defiance of all law human or divine!" He was speaking as though pleading the cause. However. my darling. I do not know: but rest assured I shall find a way. I am as simple as a juryman.-- . and detests his wife. He handed the letter to the old fellow. Your good heart will pardon my pitying her. 'A destiny. By her timid submission and unalterable sweetness. she knows me. It is to him who is the most desired. and his feelings towards the two infants about to be born. however I understand it admirably so far. when old Tabaret interrupted him. the most cherished. adores his mistress. It is very long. Towards the end one almost sees peeping forth the germ of the idea which later on he will not be afraid to put into execution.-"Venice. Both find themselves enceinte at the same time.' "That one was my mother. more powerful than my will. who implores you. now doubly precious. December." He passed his hands over his eyes. I cannot bear the thought of this terrible injustice! How it is to be prevented. and filled with matters altogether foreign to the subject which now occupies us. My father. and stop at these few lines at the end. who read. and yet she doubts!' "I skip. It is the lover. "See. "all the importance of this first letter." replied Noel. 1828." continued Noel. Take care.surrounded by devotion and homage. 1829. 'The countess's condition causes her to suffer very much! Unfortunate wife! I hate and at the same time pity her. "Thank goodness. the most beloved. which attest the slow but steady growth of my father's project. Poor sacrificed creature! She also may have given her heart to another. Our fates would then be the same. with a great position in the world. "A saint! And he asks pardon for the pity she inspires! Poor woman. take care of yourself. "and I come to this one dated Jan. my thoughts rest upon the adored pledge of our love which moves within you. "It is not necessary to explain it. as if to force back his tears. and come to him it shall." resumed the advocate." "You perceive. chains me to this country. but my soul is with you. and added. "two pages of passionate rhapsody. for you to express anxiety as to the future of our child! Oh heaven! she loves me." cried the advocate in a trembling voice. She seems to divine the reason of my sadness and my coldness. are not at all concealed. for I so will it. I am not an adept in such matters. It is like a brief statement of the facts. one would think she sought pardon for our unhappy union. Is it not an insult to me." said Noel. The style in which it was written had already settled one point in his mind." "I pass over several letters. what you have just read is explicit enough. married in spite of himself. before being dragged to the altar." said he. The last part of your letter wounds my heart. that the greater fortune should come. it contains two passages. 23. my Valerie! Without ceasing. the father.'" "From where is that letter dated?" asked old Tabaret.

however. Perhaps. He will inherit from his father.--Tell me. I shall not be obliged to separate myself from him. fear nothing. He will have the spirit. from whence I shall write to you at length. In those days I would have gone to the king. that is my great. "do you know what important affairs detained your father abroad?" . what will he be like? I tremble to think of it. valour. the probable date of your confinement." said he. shall I have one for joy? Oh! my adored one. The project I had conceived is now practicable. the mind. who. "Whilst the other--But let us ignore these preliminaries to an outrageous action. The nobility has lost its rights. pride." resumed Noel. We shall soon come to the point. My presence will double your courage. After a rather long silence. enough to love you both! I set out to-morrow for Naples. "carry traces of the preoccupation of my father's mind on the subject of his bastard son. And the other. Happen what may."She is dead!" In spite of his impatience.' "I do not know. Besides he felt keenly the profound sorrow of his young friend. the grace. 'Dear Valerie. for this is what my father wrote on the 14th: 'Your reply. Shall I have strength enough to bear this excess of happiness? I have a soul for grief. "not one of those interminable epistles from which I have read you short extracts. "whether Madame Gerdy understood. I begin to feel more calm and secure. though I should have to sacrifice the important interests confided to me. Noel. in my mansion. anyhow she must have answered at once.--'My heart loves to picture to itself the likeness of our son. that is I!" said the advocate. Our son shall bear my name. holding up a sheet of paper. He understood how irresistible must have been the strength of such a love and he trembled to speculate as to the result. and respected it. "Here is. would have assured the child's position in the world. I shall be in Paris for the critical hour. Heaven reserves strength and beauty for the children of love!' The monster. my heart is vast. of which Noel was disturbing the ashes. he felt it all the more keenly on account of those expressions which recalled his own youth. 1829. on my knees. To-day. and returned to the correspondence. aside. and the highest in the land are treated the same as the meanest peasants!' Lower down I find. our son. I lay them. my darling. He shall be reared by my side. "All the letters which follow. the strength of my love will diminish your sufferings." said Noel. It is dated from Venice at the beginning of May. I only desired up to the present to show you the aberration of my father's reason under the influence of his passion." M. however. on March 5. How to secure for him the future position of which I dream? The nobles of former times were not worried in this way. Noel raised his head. 'My son. in my arms. but a simple billet. the king who governs with difficulty his disaffected subjects can do nothing. But this is what strikes me in the one written from Rome. is what I did not dare expect it to be. and the sentiments of a noble race. as near as possible. I await your reply with an anxiety you would imagine." said old Tabaret. Tabaret was astonished at the strength of this passion. oh! my precious child. the beauty. with intense rage. my only anxiety. Hatred can only engender a monster. under my eyes. it is short but nevertheless decisive. with a word. all the fascinations of his mother. old Tabaret dared not utter a word. could you but guess my projects with regard to our child.'" "I beg your pardon for interrupting you.

This is what I have resolved." "Whew!" exclaimed the old fellow. between his teeth. that our son will be confided. a nobleman. "'The time has come for me to explain to you my projects respecting my son.. and all that money can secure in this world he shall have. It is to this person. he seemed utterly dejected. Germain accompanying her who will have charge of the son of the countess. by an insensate passion. my well beloved. my sweet Valerie. one of the friends. a man a dignified diplomatist. What excess of tenderness can serve him as powerfully as this separation? As to the other.-"'It is Germain. while in Paris. charged with a commission of the most delicate nature. known to Germain. "'My two children will be entrusted to two nurses of Normandy. as I will explain to you." For a few minutes Noel remained silent. and the better to engrave the name upon his memory. "Rheteau de Commarin. will be in our interests. prompted dares to confide to paper this most monstrous "'My adored one. "'Your maternal heart."My father. I know your fond heart. "'If my previsions are not deceited. that he. I am sending him to Normandy. "'I have foreseen everything. You will console yourself by thinking of the position secured to him by your sacrifice. "'An accident. It is whilst there. and to whom I am sending him. may perhaps bleed at the thought of being deprived of the innocent caresses of your child. After having appeared to do everything to control his resentment. my old valet. In three weeks. One of these women. continued. no. the countess and you will be confined at the same time. at the latest. Valerie. and every precaution has been taken to prevent our secret from escaping. My father is Count Rheteau de Commarin. then. "'Do not tell me that this attempt is criminal. An interval of three or four days will not alter my plan. Assist him with your advice. two sets of baby linen exactly similar. as though he had formed the determination to attempt nothing to repair the injury he had sustained." replied the advocate. "In the middle of the month of May. our nurse will change the infants in their cradles. he repeated several times. I shall be in Paris. who will hand you this letter. of Charles X. one of the confidants. These two women will leave Paris the same day. Will it not be another proof of your love for me? Besides. "my father is of prudence and sense. and he had been entrusted by him with a secret mission to Italy. he will have nothing to complain of. Germain has instructions to procure. in spite of his youth. "was. and in the same chamber! During the night. where my estates are nearly all situated." he at Naples. He is one of those servitors who may be trusted implicitly. will compel these two women to pass one night on the road. you will cherish him. of projects. devised beforehand. Knowing nothing he will have nothing to regret. No. Germain will arrange so they will have to sleep in the same inn. Listen! . my old friend.

that.--"true.The success of our plan depends upon so many unlikely circumstances. He has written it even in the king's study. On the day it was written. you can no longer doubt it." "'Dear Valerie. "'Be of good courage. M. with a certain degree of violence. I can only pardon and pity him. He saw Madame Gerdy. that. mention our plans to her." "True. He informs his mistress of the fact. Her name is Claudine Lerouge. This woman is a native of Normandy. independent of our will. Here is a note which removes all uncertainty on that point. and the final arrangements of the conspiracy were decided on. "'Meanwhile I hope. on the king's paper. the count is guilty. and yet I feel no hatred against him. softly. "try not to be too unjust. Her husband is a brave and honest sailor." interrupted Noel. almost in our house. our son's nurse. my dear love I am exacting from you the greatest sacrifice that a lover can hope for from a mother. You seem to direct all your resentment against Madame Gerdy? Really. rather." cried Noel. his passion. Do not. at this present moment. He is the author of the infamous conspiracy. at first. the count must have arrived in Paris. Everything depends now upon our skill and our prudence. how did Madame Gerdy receive this proposition?" "She would appear to have rejected it. Tabaret. in my opinion. Heaven. She is to be depended upon. protects us. that woman!" "Come my child.--pardon me. for here are twenty pages of eloquent persuasion from the count. "Yes. during the first days of June. and the woman who has consented to become the instrument of my father's projects is in Paris. for the correspondence ceases. Besides. But allow me to continue. it will be because heaven decreed it. for she has been given to understand that you know nothing. She will call at your house during the day. fearfully. however. my father has not deceived me. so many coincidences. "how did your mother. or. I wish to charge myself with the sole responsibility of the deed. very guilty. see the royal arms! The bargain has been concluded. the count is far more deserving of your anger than she is. so that we are sure to succeed!'" . Oh.'" "Just what I expected. every hour of my life.--Germain informs me of the arrival of your son's. during thirty years." "Ah! so he has been punished?" interrogated the old fellow. urging her to agree to it. She was born on our estate. If." asked the old fellow. "And the wretched man." said M. I would say. as you will admit. success crowns our efforts. without the evident protection of Providence. Moreover. we cannot succeed. a magnificent recompense ensures her discretion. the count was on service at the Tuileries. but he has an excuse." murmured old Tabaret. it is more prudent. He has committed a crime. trying to convince her. de Commarin has been so cruelly punished. Towards the end of May. then. "dares to invoke the aid of Providence! He would make heaven his accomplice!" "But. like this miserable woman. and unable to leave his post.

written many years later. at least. he was estimating the probabilities resulting from M. her complicity in the matter weighed upon her conscience. The researches into the past life of widow Lerouge were no longer difficult. I have held these letters in my hands." said he at length. I have read them. I interrogated her. "closes the count's correspondence with Madame Gerdy. "I believe on my conscience that you are not Madame Gerdy's son. and she told me all. simply and yet ingeniously conceived. this poor woman who had given me her milk." said he. He had found them and had burnt them with the other papers. Tabaret was sufficiently enlightened.--"suppose that all my information ends here. It was these very letters. no doubt. which certainly have some weight. helpless infant. carrying her secret with her!" murmured the old fellow in a tone of regret. He could not restrain an exclamation of satisfaction. and. no doubt. "Suppose." "What!" exclaimed the old fellow. Three days after my birth.On one point. the crime was committed. despoiled and disinherited by my natural protector. in the little stove." resumed the advocate. will you not. "Perhaps!" replied Noel. and their evidence will be decisive. and old Tabaret knew so better than any one. "All the same. some by Madame Gerdy. letters both imprudent and explicit. "This note. "you are in possession of nothing more?" "I have also ten lines." "And you are right!" answered the advocate forcibly." said he slowly and emphasising every syllable. for a moment. that I went and saw Claudine. "For my own part. and I. some by the count. "You will easily believe. turning towards his old friend. Claudine particularly wished me to keep them. but after all are only a moral proof. The old amateur detective was beginning to understand. that I know nothing more than you do now. I saw her. They will be found. she suffered from the knowledge of the injustice that had been done me. de Commarin's letters. it was a remorse too great for her old age. Claudine had in her possession several letters which had been written to her a long time ago. M. Must I say it. What is your opinion?" Old Tabaret remained some minutes without answering." "What a misfortune!" murmured M. "for I have yet one hope. poor. why did I not do so?" No! there was no hope on that side. was betrayed. "from what I know of your affairs. Tabaret. by my own father! Poor Claudine! She promised me her testimony for the day on which I should reclaim my rights!" "And she is gone. he looked at him steadily. which I think I know as well as my own. that the assassin of La Jonchere wanted. which passed unnoticed by Noel. The count's scheme. Noel laid on the bureau the letters he had held in his hand. succeeded without any effort. We will admit. She loved me. it appears to me that the count has not overwell kept the dazzling promises of fortune he made Madame Gerdy on .

"Sir. has opened my eyes.your behalf.'" "But this note is a proof. and passed into Madame Gerdy's sleeping apartment. His mistress was false to him. "Madame Gerdy is no longer the adored Valerie: 'A friend. and today. and cast her off with just indignation." interrupted the advocate." cried the old fellow indignantly." cried old Tabaret. cruel as all true friends. de Commarin had his reasons. "an overwhelming proof. Unhappy man that I am! I am no longer certain that I am the father of your child. "Who is there?" he asked." advised M. You have been watched. You. had he not sacrificed his legitimate son to his bastard? Yes. but he returned her letters unopened. "wished to justify herself. Judging from the number of folds in the paper one could guess that it had been read and re-read many times. he learnt it. Tabaret." answered the servant from the other side of the door. but he would not receive her. "a great nobleman--" "Wait before judging. and at length selected a letter more faded and creased than the others. "madame wishes to speak to you. . my son. "In this. I can doubt no more." The advocate appeared to hesitate." Noel searched a considerable time among the papers scattered upon the table. "his connection with Madame Gerdy lasted a long time. you have said truly. At length she grew tired of her useless attempts to see him. you deceive me and have been deceiving me for a long time past." answered Noel gravely. "M." "He never even kept them in the least degree." "Naturally. The ten lines which I mentioned to you were written then. only bigots have that right. The son had taken my place. "do not be merciless. Of what importance to the count would be a doubt of his paternity. his punishment has been severe. my old friend. I remember a haughty-looking man who used sometimes to come and see me at school. "is even more infamous than all the rest." resumed Noel. I doubted." "Madame Gerdy. without stirring. and the mother had ruined me!" Three or four light knocks at the door of the study interrupted Noel. you to whom I have given more than my life." Noel arose with visible reluctance. She called on him. The writing even was here and there partly obliterated." "That now. and who could be no other than the count." said he in a bitter tone. She knew that all was well over when the count's steward brought her for me a legal settlement of fifteen thousand francs a year. "Go. She wrote to the count. Tabaret." sneered M. But the rupture came. Valerie." "Do not accuse my father. unhappily.

" asked old Tabaret. "What a fatal discovery! and how he must feel it. he listened to the interminable stories of his clients. taking pleasure in assuming an air of intense simplicity. that indispensable armour of the ambitious." The old amateur detective repressed with difficulty the sly smile. upbraiding me as the vilest of mankind! I really believe she is going out of her mind. "The more I ponder over your history." "One might do so with less cause. "I confess it humbly. He was very cunning and had long accustomed himself to dissimulation."Poor boy!" thought M. when seated in his arm-chair." murmured M. and no longer knows what she says." Old Tabaret had just thrust one of the letters into the depths of his capacious pocket. which passed unnoticed by old Tabaret. Fortunately I am shrewd enough for two. preoccupied as he was in trying to give the turn he desired to the conversation." answered Noel." Noel made a startled movement." "Yes. were I in your situation. I had better take one. I really do not know what resolution I should adopt." replied the advocate sadly. He was one of those men of strongly formed character. "it is a situation that might well perplex even more profound experiences than yours. He was absolutely as calm as. my old friend." "I have just done so. "She is now delirious. If I ask for one. "Well. Tabaret. Such a noble young man! such a brave heart! In his candid honesty he does not even suspect from whence the blow has fallen." he said. But how has it happened? He will tell me without knowing it. I am confident of obtaining it for him. As he entered the room nothing in his manner betrayed what had taken place between Madame Gerdy and himself. when the advocate returned. and was rearranging the scattered letters according to their dates. She has just assailed me with the most atrocious abuse. "but you. I must acknowledge my connection with the police. and it is just when he despairs of justice. my dear Noel. which for an instant hovered about his lips. This was not at all what old Tabaret wanted. Ah! if I had one of those letters for four and twenty hours. who never lose their self-control. "the more I am bewildered. "and I think you ought to send for the doctor. He seemed to have forgotten that he had asked his old friend's advice." The advocate had resumed his seat before his bureau. Thanks to his information. "how is she now?" "Worse. no matter which." he observed. nor did he appear in any way desirous of renewing the interrupted conversation. Tabaret when left alone. just to verify the handwriting. . what have you done? Your first impulse must have been to ask Madame Gerdy for an explanation. I am now on the track. A child might now divine whose hand struck the blow. He has probably counted them.

What do you find surprising in that?" "Nothing." "She has probably warned the count. But on the eve of recovering it. On what account should I keep silent. He tied them together carefully. and her heart is breaking at the idea that he may be obliged to restitute what he has stolen from me. I said to myself. infamous lies. "yes. I would. de Commarin's house?" "Oh! I did not decide on doing so all at once. . But can I remember what she said? Lies. She pretended she could explain the correspondence. It was easy." "You?" "Yes. certainly." continued he. as if the constant movement could calm his anger. the next. "Yes! she attempted the impossible. A thousand opposing sentiments agitated me. to speak with him. At one moment. absurd. without noise." continued Noel." The advocate had finished gathering up his letters. my friend. "that I began. who have I to consider? I have rights." "How do you know that?" "I wished to see the count my father. I will forgive. "At first my discovery almost drove me mad. to prevent a single hair falling from her son's head. The scandal that must arise from the publicity of such an affair terrified me. that much is certain. "Yes. for after all she has loved me! Loved? no. I was seeking a means of arranging everything. I was undecided. almost wished not to mention the matter to her. my fury blinded me. I still desire to recover my name. with the proofs I held against her? The fact is she adores her son. you made up your mind?" . Do you think that I shall not reclaim my own? Do you imagine that I shall not raise my voice. for the count has been absent from Paris for more than a month and is not expected to return until the end of the week. rising and walking backwards and forward across his study. but cannot have succeeded. without shedding a tear. however. I wish to preserve it from stain." observed old Tabaret." answered Noel. "She may have tried. She would see me suffer the most horrible tortures. She told me . my courage deserted me. and I would not. fool."It was by that. . uncertain. and replaced them in the secret drawer of his bureau. So then you called at M. was it not." "At length. wild. I. coward. still pursuing his idea. Then I required time to reflect." "And what did she say?" "What could she say! Was she not overwhelmed by the discovery?" "What! did she not attempt to exculpate herself?" inquired the detective greatly surprised. she pretended she could show me I was wrong. without noticing the abstraction. and I will make them good. idiot. And I. I desired. without scandal.

"It is one of the most magnificent houses. is the house in which I was born. Germain. a princely dwelling. after successive losses. I have found out the antecedents of my new family. How I love its old sculptures. and its double flight of marble steps. and my indignation well nigh overmastered reason. above all. even to the proud escutcheon. I compared my brother's brilliant destinies with my sad and labourious career. "At last one morning. but to a detective. its shaded walls. whereon I stand an outcast and a stranger." The old amateur detective here allowed a sigh of satisfaction to escape him. and drive out the intruder. "Standing before the dwelling of my ancestors. and the coach-houses. in which the gambler. This is the house in which I should have been reared. however. "Were you then shown over the house and grounds?" asked the old fellow. Vain hope! since I found these letters. I should say a park. said I. I was in that desperate state of mind. to rush into the grand salon. majestic and severe. During the day. "after a night of rage.--who had taken the place of the son of the Countess de Commarin! Out. and was driven to the de Commarin mansion. But what could he do. I am master here." From time to time. worthy a great noble twenty times millionaire. One enters at first a vast courtyard. out of this." thought he." continued Noel. but I have examined them alone. containing twenty most valuable horses. my friend. devoured by the sad and bitter memories. being totally unfit for work. stakes upon a card his last remaining coin. to the right and left of which are the stables. frowning above the principal doorway. The propriety of legal means at once recurred to my distracted mind. after a struggle of fifteen days." This last phrase conflicted so directly with the code of opinions ." continued Noel. this is the spot where I should reign to-day. Tabaret wanted.--the son of Madame Gerdy. Since I discovered that I was the only heir of the Rheteau de Commarin."Yes. I tried by incessant action to fatigue my body. in the Faubourg St. I have not slept an hour. worn by the feet of my poor mother! I love all. and restrained me. Here. At the end rises the grand facade of the main building. with its immense windows. and. of which banished men have died. "No. usurper. The mad impulse stirred me to force the doors. "M. of anguish! Ah! what I suffered in that time! I neglected my business. I determined to end all uncertainty. shaded by the oldest trees which perhaps exist in all Paris. Daburon will be in bed. almost a palace in fact. Behind the house is a magnificent garden. flinging its defiance to the theories of this age of levellers. how could he press Noel for the result of his visit! An indiscreet word might awaken the advocate's suspicions. sent for a cab. Once more I stood before the habitation of my fathers. its grand old trees. fifteen days of torture. old Tabaret slyly consulted his watch. that at night I might find forgetfulness in sleep. and reveal to him that he was speaking not to a friend." This enthusiastic description was not at all what M. "you cannot comprehend the excess of my emotion. I plucked up courage.

"I demanded to see the Count de Commarin. sabres. pistols. so I insisted on speaking to the son in default of the father. to save myself the trouble and ridicule of being so." Old Tabaret was surprised at his young friend's display of bitterness. led me across the yard to a superb vestibule. "I pay my lackeys to be insolent." "I understand." It was easy to perceive that the advocate's reception rankled in his breast. whence I came. and so deliberated for some moments as to whether I was not too insignificant a person to have the honour of being admitted to visit the viscount. unable to restrain his impatience. I understand. and that he considered it an insult. A Swiss porter. I desired five minutes' conversation with him on a matter of importance. where five or six footmen were lolling and gaping on their seats. The Swiss porter stared at me with astonishment. requesting me to sit down and wait. wide enough for a carriage to ascend. swords. now I had to undergo an examination. in grand livery. One of these gentlemen asked me to follow him." "On presenting myself. "Of course. "Poor humanity!" thought he. This ran counter to my designs. and foils. He had evidently seen me alight from a hired carriage. answered. The valet desired to be informed who I was. and finally delivered me into the hands of M. immediately. in speaking of these trivial details. He left me. guided me across vast apartments. His master graciously deigned to receive me. "Could the examination." continued the advocate. the furniture of which was fading under its coverings. That is the name by which Madame Gerdy's son is known. He led me up a spacious staircase. "What narrow-mindedness." "But tell me." replied the advocate in a tone of bitter raillery. the count was travelling. what was my profession. were of all times and countries. One might have imagined himself in a fencing master's arsenal. Albert's valet. . who said. have you seen him?" asked old Tabaret. "he is already the grand seigneur. preceded me along an extensive picture gallery. "simply furnished. Never have I seen in so small a space so many muskets. He forgot the words of the illustrious duke. I had waited more than a quarter of an hour. when he reappeared." thought he. These. quite unknown to the viscount. My white cravat and black costume produced their natural effect. to conceal his amusement. I answered simply.habitual to Noel." continued Noel. result otherwise than in my favour? No. He could not forgive Albert his lackeys and his valet. ranged against the walls. that is to say. that old Tabaret was obliged to turn aside. that. but I was embarked. "for a man of such intelligence! Can it be true that the arrogance of lackeys is the secret of the people's hatred of an amiable and polite aristocracy?" "I was ushered into a small apartment." "I had passed an inspection. the only ornaments of which were weapons. but that the viscount was at home. The Swiss porter entrusted me to the guidance of a chasseur with a plumed hat. my name." The weapon used by Widow Lerouge's assassin naturally recurred to the old fellow's memory. think you. who. what I wanted and all the rest.

I am therefore able to speak of him with justice. 'Sir. On seeing me. and nobly carries the name which does not belong to him. 'Speak! I can hear all. I do not cherish any resentment against this young man. and ordered him to send at once to Madame d'Arlange. for. above all. I beg you. perhaps." interrupted old Tabaret. 'Sir. I drew from my pocket the count's correspondence." interrupted the old fellow. struggled.'" "Pray. He is handsome.' he explained. now become very attentive. and asked permission to write a word of apology to the lady by whom he was expected. This is the hour at which I call on the young lady to whom I am engaged. it may be very important. He is about my height. 'my mission is painful. bears himself well. On recognizing his father's handwriting. 'Shall you be long?' I answered simply. charged with a very grave. 'Now. Only he looks five or six years younger. of the same dark complexion. The facts I am about to reveal to you are incredible." continued Noel. "was he troubled on seeing the letters?" "Not the least in the world. to keep calm. he asked me. which was his library." "You must have been dreadfully excited. if he did not wear a beard. and presented one of the letters to him.' I stood up. do not answer me until you have read the letters I have here. seated himself. I come to you. Mademoiselle d'Arlange. declared himself at my service. that an explanation would admit of no delay. speaking slowly.' Without doubt he did not believe me. you understand. sir. I must inform you that you are not the legitimate son of M. I had decided to go straight to the point. which touches the honour of the name you bear." remarked old Tabaret. 'Yes. After carefully closing the door. de Commarin. He is one of the fortunate ones who arrive without having to start. "Less than I am at this moment. explain yourself." said Noel. and would resemble me. and had around his neck an immense white silk scarf. The legitimate son exists. a very sad mission." "The viscount. Can we not postpone this conversation?'" "Good! another woman!" said the old fellow to himself. 'The fact is. and answered. in an impertinent tone. he arose and saluted me graciously. Fifteen preparatory days of mental torture exhausts one's emotions. and I saw there a passing gleam of fury. "I answered the viscount. and he it is who sends me." "One word. . Having hastily written the note he handed it to his valet. as I saw him prepare to dismiss me.' He looked at me with an air of extreme surprise. 'Sir. he pointed to a chair."The viscount. I beseech you. or who traverse life's road on such soft cushions that they are never injured by the jolting of their carriage. "do not omit a single detail.' I kept my eyes on his while speaking. but this is readily explained. nor suffered. he has never to his knowledge injured me: he was in ignorance of our father's crime.' said I. He then asked me to pass into the next room.' said I. and. 'you do not know me. but that is of little consequence. "was half lying on a divan when I entered. I answered the question I saw upon his lips.' I had had time to prepare myself for this interview whilst waiting in the ante-room. "appeared very much put out. he has neither worked. he became more tractable. He was dressed in a velvet jacket and loose trousers of the same material. as this correspondence will prove to you. and said. and said. 'I had already disposed of my time.

'Meanwhile. let us remain as we are and love one another!'" M.--the true ones? How imprudent!" "And why?" "If he had--I don't know. as if a film had covered them. escaped him. 'No." "If I have not done this. he arose. the necessity of reading all of these hundred and fifty-six letters.' He told me that Germain had been dead for several years. at least for the moment. not a groan. In less than five minutes his face changed to such an extent that his own valet would not have recognized him." continued Noel." resumed the advocate. as I believe them to be.' said he in a short tone." remarked old Tabaret. Are you possessed of other proofs?' I expected. but not an exclamation." "In about half an hour. I followed his slightest movements. throwing them into the fire and taking him in my arms. "He was seated. 'these are only presumptions. 'The letters. my friend.' continued he. Then I spoke of the nurse. and his lips became as white as his handkerchief. he had finished reading. you are my brother! Forget all. and I scanned his features closely. 'Once these letters destroyed. 'Germain. they distinctly prove that I am not the son of the Countess de Commarin. and to carefully read the passages indicated with a red pencil. and his eyes became dull and clouded. sir. At one moment. too fragile even to lean upon. and facing me directly. said. but--" the old fellow hesitated." "How!" cried old Tabaret." thought he. He held his handkerchief in his hand.' I did not answer. "and I promise you the letters were in no danger. a great many other objections. nor shall I forget it." said he in a hollow tone. and pressed it. it is because I thought to myself. Tabaret took Noel's hand. I felt such pity for him that I was almost on the point of snatching the letters from his hands.For a moment I thought he was about to spring at my throat.' said I. "That which I have done for you this evening. would he recognise me as his brother?'" "Ah! very true. with which from time to time he mechanically wiped his lips. not a sigh. Large drops of sweat stood upon his forehead. of course. Never in my life have I seen so sad a spectacle." "It was an abridgment of his penance. "I recognise my generous boy. "I was there. The advocate laid his hand upon his friend's shoulder. my friend. "I did for the viscount. I obviated. not even a gesture. He soon recovered himself. 'can speak. He grew paler and paler. and recoiled instinctively. I was standing with my back to the fireplace in which a fire was burning. "before a little table. if I live for a thousand years. "Ah!" he said. 'You are right. I told him only to stop at those marked with a cross. "these letters. If these letters are really written by my father. I handed them to him." Noel's features assumed such an expression of ferocity that the old fellow was almost afraid. crying. "He would have killed him. Widow Lerouge--I explained .

a magnificent position. and will miss you. and said." "No.how easily she could be found and questioned. You will allow me this delay. Take back your letters and leave me to myself. sir. to this?" asked old Tabaret anxiously. and with more reason and justice. "I say that he is a fine young man." "Hypocrite!" growled the old fellow between his teeth. and they were stifling him. All on a sudden he struck his forehead. whilst he! . "I asked him what he proposed doing. perhaps. As soon as he returns I will have an explanation with him. I have accompanied my father to her house three times. "At length. and appeared to reflect. Tomorrow I shall ask permission to examine the papers belonging to Claudine. And I will try. as I have told you. In exchange. At length he turned towards me. I have not been lowered. saying. Now. . and. I bear you no ill will for this. I shall find a mother." The old police agent nodded his head. my friend. for she must love you.' He then took my hand and added. 'I expect my father in about eight or ten days. "He remained silent at first. This news has utterly overwhelmed me. We will console each other. an immense fortune.' he said. I am saved. 'Sir. 'Listen.' I remarked to him that this was yet another proof. I shall act more freely after hearing what he has to say. "it is best that he should ignore Madame Gerdy's misconduct. 'I remember. He made no answer. if not. 'Brother." remarked old Tabaret. . more than all that." resumed Noel. and in my presence he gave her a considerable sum of money. de Commarin's legitimate son?' I answered: 'I am he. what do you advise?" . "What did you say?" asked Noel. but walked up and down the room." "I did not show him the letter referring to the rupture. he had to hide his thoughts. after a rather long pause." "And now?" "What am I to do? I am waiting the count's return. for I did not know. you know M. In a moment I lose everything: a great name that I have always borne as worthily as possible.'" "Did he really say that?" "Almost word for word. and I shall be delighted to make his acquaintance. rather than give him further pain.' He bowed his head and murmured 'I thought so. If I find the letters.'" "It seems to me. I have formed no plan since I heard of the assassination. adding that she lived at La Jonchere. to make her forget you. the woman who is dearer to me than life. I give you my word of honour." added Noel. and justice shall be done. I voluntarily deprived myself of this proof.--but. it is true. Noel. I know her. . for he is more ill-used than I." "And what said he. "that he might have left that to you to say.

"The briefest counsel demands long reflection," replied the old fellow, who was in haste to depart. "Alas! my poor boy, what worry you have had!" "Terrible! and, in addition, I have pecuniary embarrassments." "How! you who spend nothing?" "I have entered into various engagements. Can I now make use of Madame Gerdy's fortune, which I have hitherto used as my own? I think not." "You certainly ought not to. But listen! I am glad you have spoken of this; you can render me a service. "Very willingly. What is it?" "I have, locked up in my secretary, twelve or fifteen thousand francs, which trouble me exceedingly. You see, I am old, and not very brave, if any one heard I had this money--" "I fear I cannot--" commenced the advocate. "Nonsense!" said the old fellow. "To-morrow I will give them to you to take care of." But remembering he was about to put himself at M. Daburon's disposal, and that perhaps he might not be free on the morrow, he quickly added, "No, not to-morrow; but this very evening. This infernal money shall not remain another night in my keeping." He hurried out, and presently reappeared, holding in his hand fifteen notes of a thousand francs each. "If that is not sufficient," said he, handing them to Noel, "you can have more." "Anyhow," replied the advocate, "I will give you a receipt for these." "Oh! never mind. Time enough to-morrow." "And if I die to-night?" "Then," said the old fellow to himself, thinking of his will, "I shall still be your debtor. Good-night!" added he aloud. "You have asked my advice, I shall require the night for reflection. At present my brain is whirling; I must go into the air. If I go to bed now, I am sure to have a horrible nightmare. Come, my boy; patience and courage. Who knows whether at this very hour Providence is not working for you?" He went out, and Noel, leaving his door open, listened to the sound of his footsteps as he descended the stairs. Almost immediately the cry of, "Open, if you please," and the banging of the door apprised him that M. Tabaret had gone out. He waited a few minutes and refilled his lamp. Then he took a small packet from one of his bureau drawers, slipped into his pocket the bank notes lent him by his old friend, and left his study, the door of which he double-locked. On reaching the landing, he paused. He listened intently as though the sound of Madame Gerdy's moans could reach him where he stood. Hearing nothing, he descended the stairs on tiptoe. A minute later, he was in the street.

CHAPTER V.

Included in Madame Gerdy's lease was a coach-house, which was used by her as a lumber room. Here were heaped together all the old rubbish of the household, broken pieces of furniture, utensils past service, articles become useless or cumbrous. It was also used to store the provision of wood and coal for the winter. This old coach-house had a small door opening on the street, which had been in disuse for many years; but which Noel had had secretly repaired and provided with a lock. He could thus enter or leave the house at any hour without the concierge or any one else knowing. It was by this door that the advocate went out, though not without using the utmost caution in opening and closing it. Once in the street, he stood still a moment, as if hesitating which way to go. Then, he slowly proceeded in the direction of the St. Lazare railway station, when a cab happening to pass, he hailed it. "Rue du Faubourg Montmarte, at the corner of the Rue de Provence," said Noel, entering the vehicle, "and drive quick." The advocate alighted at the spot named, and dismissed the cabman. When he had seen him drive off, Noel turned into the Rue de Provence, and, after walking a few yards, rang the bell of one of the handsomest houses in the street. The door was immediately opened. As Noel passed before him the concierge made a most respectful, and at the same time patronizing bow, one of those salutations which Parisian concierges reserve for their favorite tenants, generous mortals always ready to give. On reaching the second floor, the advocate paused, drew a key from his pocket, and opening the door facing him, entered as if at home. But at the sound of the key in the lock, though very faint, a lady's maid, rather young and pretty, with a bold pair of eyes, ran toward him. "Ah! it is you, sir," cried she. This exclamation escaped her just loud enough to be audible at the extremity of the apartment, and serve as a signal if needed. It was as if she had cried, "Take care!" Noel did not seem to notice it. "Madame is there?" asked he. "Yes, sir, and very angry too. This morning she wanted to send some one to you. A little while ago she spoke of going to find you, sir, herself. I have had much difficulty in prevailing on her not to disobey your orders." "Very well," said the advocate. "Madame is in the smoking room," continued the girl "I am making her a cup of tea. Will you have one, sir?" "Yes," replied Noel. "Show me a light, Charlotte." He passed successively through a magnificent dining-room, a splendid gilded drawing-room in Louis XIV. style, and entered the smoking-room. This was a rather large apartment with a very high ceiling. Once inside one might almost fancy oneself three thousand miles from Paris, in the house of some opulent mandarin of the celestial Empire. Furniture, carpet, hangings, pictures, all had evidently been imported direct from Hong Kong or Shanghai. A rich silk tapestry representing brilliantly coloured figures, covered the walls, and hid the doors from view. All the empire of the sun and moon was depicted thereon in vermillion landscapes: corpulent mandarins surrounded by their lantern-bearers; learned men lay stupefied with opium, sleeping under their parasols; young girls with elevated eyebrows, stumbled upon their diminutive feet

swathed in bandages. The carpet of a manufacture unknown to Europeans, was strewn with fruits and flowers, so true to nature that they might have deceived a bee. Some great artist of Pekin had painted on the silk which covered the ceiling numerous fantastic birds, opening on azure ground their wings of purple and gold. Slender rods of lacquer, inlaid with mother of pearl, bordered the draperies, and marked the angles of the apartment. Two fantastic looking chests entirely occupied one side of the room. Articles of furniture of capricious and incoherent forms, tables with porcelain tops, and chiffoniers of precious woods encumbered every recess or angle. There were also ornamental cabinets and shelves purchased of Lien-Tsi, the Tahan of Sou-Tcheou, the artistic city, and a thousand curiosities, both miscellaneous and costly, from the ivory sticks which are used instead of forks, to the porcelain teacups, thinner than soap bubbles,--miracles of the reign of Kien-Loung. A very large and very low divan piled up with cushions, covered with tapestry similar to the hangings, occupied one end of the room. There was no regular window, but instead a large single pane of glass, fixed into the wall of the house; in front of it was a double glass door with moveable panes, and the space between was filled with the most rare flowers. The grate was replaced by registers adroitly concealed, which maintained in the apartment a temperature fit for hatching silkworms, thus truly harmonising with the furniture. When Noel entered, a woman, still young, was reclining on the divan, smoking a cigarette. In spite of the tropical heat, she was enveloped in heavy Cashmere shawls. She was small, but then only small women can unite in their persons every perfection. Women who are above the medium height must be either essays, or errors of nature. No matter how lovely they may look, they invariably present some defect, like the work of a statuary, who, though possessed of genius, attempts for the first time sculpture on a grand scale. She was small, but her neck, her shoulders, and her arms had the most exquisite contours. Her hands with their tapering fingers and rosy nails looked like jewels preciously cared for. Her feet, encased in silken stockings almost as thin as a spider's-web, were a marvel; not that they recalled the very fabulous foot which Cinderella thrust into the glass slipper; but the other, very real, very celebrated and very palpable foot, of which the fair owner (the lovely wife of a well-known banker) used to present the model either in bronze or in marble to her numerous admirers. Her face was, not beautiful, nor even pretty; but her features were such as one seldom forgets; for, at the first glance, they startled the beholder like a flash of lightning. Her forehead was a little high, and her mouth unmistakably large, notwithstanding the provoking freshness of her lips. Her eyebrows were so perfect they seem to have been drawn with India ink; but, unhappily the pencil had been used too heavily; and they gave her an unpleasant expression when she frowned. On the other hand, her smooth complexion had a rich golden pallor; and her black and velvety eyes possessed enormous magnetic power. Her teeth were of a pearly brilliancy and whiteness, and her hair, of prodigious opulence, was black and fine, and glossy as a raven's wing. On perceiving Noel, as he pushed aside the silken hangings, she half arose and leaned upon her elbow. "So you have come at last?" she observed in a tone of vexation; "you are very kind." The advocate felt almost suffocated by the oppressive temperature of the room. "How warm it is!" said he; "it is enough to stifle one!" "Do you find it so?" replied the young woman. "Well, I am actually shivering! It is true though, that I am very unwell. Waiting is

unbearable to me, it acts upon my nerves; and I have been waiting for you ever since yesterday." "It was quite impossible for me to come," explained Noel, "quite impossible!" "You knew, however," continued the lady, "that to-day was my settling day; and that I had several heavy accounts to settle. The tradesmen all came, and I had not a half-penny to give them. The coachmaker sent his bill, but there was no money. Then that old rascal Clergot, to whom I had given an acceptance for three thousand francs, came and kicked up a frightful row. How pleasant all this is!" Noel bowed his head like a schoolboy rebuked for having neglected his lessons. "It is but one day behind," he murmured. "And that is nothing, is it?" retorted the young woman. "A man who respects himself, my friend, may allow his own signature to be dishonoured, but never that of his mistress! Do you wish to destroy my credit altogether? You know very well that the only consideration I receive is what my money pays for. So as soon as I am unable to pay, it will be all up with me." "My dear Juliette," began the advocate gently. "Oh, yes! that's all very fine," interrupted she. "Your dear Juliette! your adored Juliette! so long as you are here it is really charming; but no sooner are you outside than you forget everything. Do you ever remember then that there is such a person as Juliette?" "How unjust you are!" replied Noel. "Do you not know that I am always thinking of you; have I not proved it to you a thousand times? Look here! I am going to prove it to you again this very instant." He withdrew from his pocket the small packet he had taken out of his bureau drawer, and, undoing it, showed her a handsome velvet casket. "Here," said he exultingly, "is the bracelet you longed for so much a week ago at Beaugrau's." Madame Juliette, without rising, held out her hand to take the casket, and, opening it with the utmost indifference, just glanced at the jewel, and merely said, "Ah!" "Is this the one you wanted?" asked Noel. "Yes, but it looked much prettier in the shop window." She closed the casket, and threw it carelessly on to a small table near her. "I am unfortunate this evening," said the advocate, much mortified. "How so?" "I see plainly the bracelet does not please you." "Oh, but it does. I think it lovely . . . besides, it will complete the two dozen." It was now Noel's turn to say: "Ah! . . ." and as Juliette said nothing, he added: "Well, if you are pleased, you do not show it." "Oh! so that is what you are driving at!" cried the lady. "I am not

grateful enough to suit you! You bring me a present, and I ought at once to pay cash, fill the house with cries of joy, and throw myself upon my knees before you, calling you a great and magnificent lord!" Noel was unable this time to restrain a gesture of impatience, which Juliette perceived plainly enough, to her great delight. "Would that be sufficient?" continued she. "Shall I call Charlotte, so that she may admire this superb bracelet, this monument of your generosity? Shall I have the concierge up, and call the cook to tell them how happy I am to possess such a magnificent lover." The advocate shrugged his shoulders like a philosopher, incapable of noticing a child's banter. "What is the use of these insulting jests?" said he. "If you have any real complaint against me, better to say so simply and seriously." "Very well," said Juliette, "let us be serious. And, that being so, I will tell you it would have been better to have forgotten the bracelet, and to have brought me last night or this morning the eight thousand francs I wanted." "I could not come." "You should have sent them; messengers are still to be found at the street-corners." "If I neither brought nor sent them, my dear Juliette, it was because I did not have them. I had trouble enough in getting them promised me for to-morrow. If I have the sum this evening, I owe it to a chance upon which I could not have counted an hour ago; but by which I profited, at the risk of compromising myself." "Poor man!" said Juliette, with an ironical touch of pity in her voice. "Do you dare to tell me you have had difficulty in obtaining ten thousand francs,--you?" "Yes,--I!" The young woman looked at her lover, and burst into a fit of laughter. "You are really superb when you act the poor young man!" said she. "I am not acting." "So you say, my own. But I see what you are aiming at. This amiable confession is the preface. To-morrow you will declare that your affairs are very much embarrassed, and the day after to-morrow . . . Ah! you are becoming very avaricious. It is a virtue you used not to possess. Do you not already regret the money you have given me?" "Wretched woman!" murmured Noel, fast losing patience. "Really," continued the lady, "I pity you, oh! so much. Unfortunate lover! Shall I get up a subscription for you? In your place, I would appeal to public charity." Noel could stand it no longer, in spite of his resolution to remain calm. "You think it a laughing matter?" cried he. "Well! let me tell you, Juliette, I am ruined, and I have exhausted my last resources! I am reduced to expedients!"

and that accomplishment is very useful to me." thought he. you will still owe me something. The total is four hundred thousand francs!" "Are you sure?" "As one can be who has had that amount. anyhow. very grave. some conceited youngsters. Instead of a heart. She detests me. "I know how to count. but above all. you have it." answered the advocate. I could refuse you nothing. And I do not mention a thousand other whims. only fancy! Are there no centimes?" "No. you have it. The idea that a man had loved her sufficiently to ruin himself for her. extravagant dresses. "She believes me. if 'twas only true. Tell that to somebody else. "And I can tell you. Don't pretend that you are one of those gentlemen who scatter their money broadcast." cried she. filled this woman with joy. a very strong one. You wished for luxury. to the extent of your fixed price of four thousand francs a month! If it required a franc more you would very soon take back your heart and your hat. "At first you were not very exacting. There are only a few fools who ruin themselves now. but the appetite came with eating. and carry them elsewhere. "What a fool I am. coolly. "and she is glad. stop that nonsense! You know very well what you are about. whom she had despised when rich and proud. and of trying to console you. and occasionally an amorous old dotard. Well. It enables me to know exactly how and where I have got rid of my fortune. like any other. splendid furniture. a complete establishment. just like a Homburg. "I was on the point of believing all that. without allowing even a reproach to escape him. you said to yourself." murmured Noel. my friend! All men in our days calculate like money-lenders. now poor and humbled." continued he. a horse. you are a very calm. She felt herself on the point of loving the man.The eyes of the young woman brightened. But the expression of her eyes suddenly changed. It is an investment. She looked at her lover tenderly. I include neither this Chinese cabinet nor the two dozen bracelets." He was mistaken. "Come now." "It is true. to one or other of my rivals in the neighborhood." "Not with you. I gave them you." The entrance of the maid with the tea-tray interrupted this amorous . madam. You required a carriage. if I make up my bill. you have a great big double zero. in which one receives interest in the form of pleasure. "Oh. "If I only could believe you!" The advocate was wounded to the heart. and has it no longer.' and you have kept your word. my dear friend. You are capable of all the extravagance in the world." "Four hundred thousand francs. When you took a fancy to me." "So you really know?" sneered Juliette. my big pet!" said she." "Then. and very serious fellow. 'I will expend so much on passion.

however. accorded her his protection. Her great complaint against him was that he was not at all funny. but could . but who carried her off to offer her half of what he possessed. She dreaded also certain mysterious and cruel persons. but from principle. so that now her stomach could stand anything. and treated him like a dog. She was born about 1839. on sweetmeats and damaged fruit. and she believed she had much to complain of. and made her his mistress. Her advocate. and who experience a malicious pleasure in seeing pretty girls in trouble. and more depraved than the inmates of the prison of St. his contempt. She had not the slightest idea what morality was. By turns she sunk to the bottom. Twice had fortune in new gloves come knocking at her door. an artist who taught her nothing very new. did not displease her at first. What he did not procure her. she led a precarious existence. and this not from any natural badness of disposition. that is to say nothing. Her father was unknown. of which Noel had experienced more than one repetition. At the end of three months. she could not bear him. and to dance. who in less than three years taught her to write. She detested him for his polite and polished manners. The advocate held his tongue on account of the servant. This old gentleman. his manly bearing. Lazare. She feared neither God nor devil.duet. sometimes even her lovers. and her aversion for her lover increased at the same rate as her ambition and his sacrifices. having had enough of it. After a few months. Juliette did the same on account of her lover. equally furious. With the assistance of a strolling player. and knew that to reap one must sow. which never wholly abandons a young girl who knows she has pretty eyes. or rose to the surface of the stream in which she found herself. as she called him. She was persuaded that a woman is beloved in proportion to the trouble she causes and the mischief she does. Her infancy was a long alternation of beatings and caresses. and. to play the piano. above all. Madame Juliette Chaffour was a Parisienne. his distinguished air. She had lived as best she could. Juliette was not wicked. As she gave no promise of beauty. To amuse herself. though. During the four years which followed. which he did not care to hide. He resolved first of all to give his protege just a varnish of education. when Noel by chance met her. with all she possessed tied up in a cotton pocket handkerchief. whom she had heard spoken of. At twelve years old she was as thin as a nail. for she had no secrets from Charlotte. for all that is low and vulgar. and with whom she had shared everything. sometimes with little else to live upon but hope. for his unalterable patience. but she was afraid of the police. she began to squander money. and her mother's friends. as green as a June apple. She rendered him the most miserable of men. when an old and respectable gentleman. was a connoisseur. who had known her mamma some years previously. Prudhomme would have said that this precocious little hussy was totally destitute of morality. she left the nest of her first love. loved her. who had been with her three years. and also. she was on the point of being placed in a shop. The dream of her life was to be loved in a way which she felt. that he absolutely declined to conduct her to those places where one can give a free vent to one's spirits. but she had not the sense to keep her. He procured masters for her. prudent and provident like all old gentlemen. was a lover. somewhere in the upper end of the Faubourg Montmarte. she had just appeared on the stage of a small theatre. She therefore found one for herself. She thought the world was full of honest people living like her mother. and spoken her lines rather well. who dwell near the Palais de Justice. which nothing could tire.

with his eyes shut. This. She dreamed of a man who would be devoted enough to make a real sacrifice for her. He lost her love by the delicacy of his dissimulation. a lover who would descend to her level. and his anger took flight. but the interior of the edifice was destroyed. and said in a dry tone. and. he forgot all prudence.scarcely have explained. he came and took a seat on the divan beside his mistress. that he never essayed to struggle. The presence of the maid who took a considerable time in arranging the tea-table gave Noel an opportunity to recover himself. She despaired of ever meeting such a one.--"Let me alone! How many times must I tell you that I am very unwell this evening. from the disaster. He loved her madly. you have punished me sufficiently. and. without reflection. Already he began to ask himself if he had not been a little cruel to her. Noel was assailable by means of Juliette. She possessed him. and thought out loud. If I have done wrong. in spite of her greediness. She understood this. Away from the enchantress. and felt his passion strong enough to compel him to submit to the lowest indignity. Once or twice he attempted to firmly oppose her ruinous caprices. but she had also the power to make him forget all by a smile. the idea enraged her. Noel adored Juliette. this advocate of immaculate reputation. At her side. When Charlotte retired. and his vices displayed themselves. She is amusing herself at my expense!" But the belief in her love had taken such deep root in his heart that he could not pluck it forth. "where? Shall I send for the doctor?" . In four years. Achilles died from a wound in the heel. "She does not love me. "If I am not mistaken. his first passion. The four walls remained standing. my love?" resumed the advocate. he saved only appearances. "Come. and through her was at the mercy of everything and every one. as his limbs in a bath. without measure. I shall either have to leave her. at ease. On several occasions he had strong reasons to doubt her constancy. He preferred even these heartbreaking doubts to a still more dreadful certainty. this austere moralist. and attempted to put his arms round her. he had lived like a sage." She repulsed him angrily. He felt himself so powerless against her. He made himself a monster of jealousy." thought he. but Madame Gerdy's also. had squandered not only his own fortune on her. but he never had the courage to declare his suspicions. In her boudoir. Until the fatal day he saw her. as she was naturally proud. "or accept everything in the future. he trembled. "you have been angry enough for this evening. this model young man. She had never been to her lovers more than a plaything. he dropped his mask of habitual dissimulation. burned him up. his strongest resolutions melted more quickly than snow beneath an April sun. instead of attempting to raise her to his. a tear." At the idea of a separation from Juliette. he said to himself. in his lucid moments. and. but she had made him pliable as the osier. and singularly. Noel's extravagance left her as cold as ice. that left her ignorant of the sacrifices he was making for her. and then argued with himself respecting her fidelity. She tortured him. and make it up. reason returned at intervals." "You suffer. Even heroes have their vulnerable parts. she did not care much for money. or a kiss. She believed he was very rich." said he in a caressing tone. Noel would have won her easier by a brutal frankness that would have shown her clearly his situation. The most artfully constructed armour has a flaw somewhere. He looked at Juliette. Under the dark glances of this girl. Kiss me.

" Noel rose with a discouraged air. you?" "Certainly!" continued Juliette. but he returned always. with increased bitterness." "I know well enough. never to budge out of the house even?" "It is the life of all the respectable women that I know. "is it my fault? Do you think it very amusing to be your mistress? Look at yourself. Then one always fears when one loves!" "Really! Then one should seek a woman to suit oneself. "Then I cannot compliment them on their enjoyment. Does there exist another being as sad. though. have you ever brought one of your friends here? No. without anything to occupy me except a cigarette and a stupid book. "always these uncalled for complaints. "Come. it is called ennui. and have her brought upstairs once a day. but then you let down the blinds! I go out alone. my dear Juliette. I know the nature of my malady. more suspicious. My lord trembles for his fine name of Gerdy that ." replied the advocate drily. I walk about alone!" "Always the same refrain. Yet I know many bigger swells then you. as dull as you. What have I done?" he asked. Happily. then. that I bother you. Juliette snubbed him. You are not at all the doctor who could do anything for me." interrupted Noel." murmured the advocate. devoured by a greater jealousy!" "Your reception of me. during dessert. with your face for sole amusement. I am to remain alone here. When have you offered me your arm for a walk? Never. I am not a respectable woman. and I can tell you I am tired of living more closely shut up than the wife of a Turk." "You live shut up. "that you are ashamed of me. at the end of dinner." answered the young woman." "Well. "Of course. why--?" "My life is nothing more than a continual yawn. or have her made to order. that I go to sleep over? Do you call this an existence. and took his place at the side of the tea-table." ventured Noel "is enough to extinguish gaiety and freeze all effusion. "Nothing. like the poor dog who lies in wait all day for the time when his caresses will not be inopportune."There is no need. "You have told me very often during the last few months." pursued the young woman. your dignity would be sullied. His resignation bespoke how habituated he had become to these rebuffs. who do not mind being seen with their mistresses. if you were seen in my company. more uneasy. Have you entered it half a dozen times? Perhaps. shut her up in the cellar. or with the champagne just by way of amusement. As though you had still to learn the reason why this state of things exists. I have a carriage. you hide me. anger getting the better of him." "I should have done better not to have come. facing her.

"Enough of these recriminations!" cried he. without my being able to tell whether you were drunk or not. Such as it is. I am so horribly nervous this evening. Can I bring them here? On seeing all this luxury. they would ask each other where I obtained all the money I have spent on you. and so largely that your actions altogether escape me. making a wry face. Who is to blame? Did I grow tired of a happy and quiet existence? My friends would have come to see us in a home in accordance with a modest competence. it is true. What client would confide his interests to the imbecile who ruined himself for the woman who has been the talk of all Paris? I am not a great lord. I must keep it. "You will drive me mad with your injustice. "If I hide our relations. my love. She determined. I may have a mistress." interrupted Noel. too. You imbibed like a sponge. I then put on a domino. My reputation is all that I possess. you are perpetually attacking my gravity." "Do you! Then you are not hard to please." "It was very gay indeed!" answered the young woman. it is because I am constrained to do so. to my great regret. I obeyed your orders by affecting hardly to know you. I alone above. I must leave you. "My friend." said she. this insolent display of my folly. We went to a theatre. then looking at his watch said: "Almost one o'clock. If my acquaintances learnt to-morrow that it is I who keep you. nor an immense fortune to lose. as we always do. You accuse me of creating a vacuum around you. yet it is not forty-eight hours since we were plunged in all the gaiety of the carnival." "That proves. and accompanied you to the ball at the opera. however. Let us talk of something else. to the great delight of Madame Chaffour. a advocate. You must be indulgent. We went to the Vaudeville. At the supper table your friends were as melancholy as a pair of owls. my mother is dangerously ill." "What! you are not going to remain?" "No. I am plain Noel Gerdy." This sudden change delighted the advocate. to put him in a good humor again. "that we ought not to force our tastes. my future prospects would be destroyed. saw that she had gone far enough." Juliette who knew her Noel thoroughly. I admit. "While I exhaust my imagination to find what can be agreeable to you. and even invited two of my friends to sup with us. "I did not wish to cause you pain. you below. but separately. tenderly.I might sully. "So I think. It is a false one. while the sons of the most noble families are not afraid of showing themselves in public places in the company of the stupidest of kept women." . Of what do you complain? You have unrestrained liberty. rising. and I will keep it. and almost sufficed to calm his anger. I kept the fete of Shrove Tuesday like a student." He took a few steps in the room." At last Noel could stand it no longer. and you use it. therefore." said he. At the ball you looked as though you were burying the devil. but I have not the right to squander a fortune that does not belong to me. I have neither an historical name to tarnish.

He unfolded and counted out on the table the bank notes he had received from old Tabaret. "My little Juliette," said he, "here are not eight thousand francs, but ten thousand. You will not see me again for a few days." "Are you leaving Paris, then?" "No; but my entire time will be absorbed by an affair of immense importance to myself. If I succeed in my undertaking, my dear, our future happiness is assured, and you will then see whether I love you!" "Oh, my dear Noel, tell me what it is." "I cannot now." "Tell me I beseech you," pleaded the young woman, hanging round his neck, raising herself upon the tips of her toes to press her lips to his. The advocate embraced her; and his resolution seemed to waver. "No," said he at length, "seriously I cannot. Of what use to awaken in you hopes which can never be realized? Now, my darling, listen to me. Whatever may happen, understand, you must under no pretext whatever again come to my house, as you once had the imprudence to do. Do not even write to me. By disobeying, you may do me an irreparable injury. If any accident occurs, send that old rascal Clergot to me. I shall have a visit from him the day after to-morrow, for he holds some bills of mine." Juliette recoiled, menacing Noel with a mutinous gesture. "You will not tell me anything?" insisted she. "Not this evening, but very soon," replied the advocate, embarrassed by the piercing glance of his mistress. "Always some mystery!" cried Juliette, piqued at the want of success attending her blandishments. "This will be the last, I swear to you!" "Noel, my good man," said the young woman in a serious tone, "you are hiding something from me. I understand you, as you know; for several days past there has been something or other the matter with you, you have completely changed." "I swear to you, Juliette--" "No, swear nothing; I should not believe you. Only remember, no attempt at deceiving me, I forewarn you. I am a woman capable of revenge." The advocate was evidently ill at ease. "The affair in question," stammered he, "can as well fail as succeed." "Enough," interrupted Juliette; "your will shall be obeyed. I promise that. Come, sir, kiss me. I am going to bed." The door was hardly shut upon Noel when Charlotte was installed on the divan near her mistress. Had the advocate been listening at the door, he might have heard Madame Juliette saying, "No, really, I can no longer

endure him. What a bore he is, my girl. Ah! if I was not so afraid of him, wouldn't I leave him at once? But he is capable of killing me!" The girl vainly tried to defend Noel; but her mistress did not listen. She murmured, "Why does he absent himself, and what is he plotting? An absence of eight days is suspicious. Can he by any chance intend to be married? Ah! if I only knew. You weary me to death, my good Noel, and I am determined to leave you to yourself one of these fine mornings; but I cannot permit you to quit me first. Supposing he is going to get married? But I will not allow it. I must make inquiries." Noel, however, was not listening at the door. He went along the Rue de Provence as quickly as possible, gained the Rue St. Lazare, and entered the house as he had departed, by the stable door. He had but just sat down in his study, when the servant knocked. "Sir," cried she, "in heaven's name answer me!" He opened the door and said impatiently, "What is it?" "Sir," stammered the girl in tears, "this is the third time I have knocked, and you have not answered. Come, I implore you. I am afraid madame is dying!" He followed her to Madame Gerdy's room. He must have found the poor woman terribly changed, for he could not restrain a movement of terror. The invalid struggled painfully beneath her coverings. Her face was of a livid paleness, as though there was not a drop of blood left in her veins; and her eyes, which glittered with a sombre light, seemed filled with a fine dust. Her hair, loose and disordered, falling over her cheeks and upon her shoulders, contributed to her wild appearance. She uttered from time to time a groan hardly audible, or murmured unintelligible words. At times, a fiercer pang than the former ones forced a cry of anguish from her. She did not recognise Noel. "You see, sir," said the servant. "Yes. Who would have supposed her malady could advance so rapidly? Quick, run to Dr. Herve's, tell him to get up, and to come at once, tell him it is for me." And he seated himself in an arm-chair, facing the suffering woman. Dr. Herve was one of Noel's friends, an old school-fellow, and the companion of his student days. The doctor's history differed in nothing from that of most young men, who, without fortune, friends, or influence, enter upon the practice of the most difficult, the most hazardous of professions that exist in Paris, where one sees so many talented young doctors forced, to earn their bread, to place themselves at the disposition of infamous drug vendors. A man of remarkable courage and self-reliance, Herve, his studies over, said to himself, "No, I will not go and bury myself in the country, I will remain in Paris, I will there become celebrated. I shall be surgeon-in-chief of an hospital, and a knight of the Legion of Honour." To enter upon this path of thorns, leading to a magnificent triumphal arch, the future academician ran himself twenty thousand francs in debt to furnish a small apartment. Here, armed with a patience which nothing could fatigue, an iron resolution that nothing could subdue, he struggled and waited. Only those who have experienced it can understand what sufferings are endured by the poor, proud man, who waits in a black

coat, freshly shaven, with smiling lips, while he is starving of hunger! The refinements of civilization have inaugurated punishments which put in the shade the cruelties of the savage. The unknown physician must begin by attending the poor who cannot pay him. Sometimes too the patient is ungrateful. He is profuse in promises whilst in danger; but, when cured, he scorns the doctor, and forgets to pay him his fee. After seven years of heroic perseverance, Herve has secured at last a circle of patients who pay him. During this he lived and paid the exorbitant interest of his debt, but he is getting on. Three or four pamphlets, and a prize won without much intrigue, have attracted public attention to him. But he is no longer the brave young enthusiast, full of the faith and hope that attended him on his first visits. He still wishes, and more than ever, to acquire distinction, but he no longer expects any pleasure from his success. He used up that feeling in the days when he had not wherewith to pay for his dinner. No matter how great his fortune may be in the days to come, he has already paid too dearly for it. For him future success is only a kind of revenge. Less than thirty-five years old, he is already sick of the world, and believes in nothing. Under the appearance of universal benevolence he conceals universal scorn. His finesse, sharpened by the grindstone of adversity, has become mischievous. And, while he sees through all disguises worn by others, he hides his penetration carefully under a mask of cheerful good nature and jovialness. But he is kind, he loves his friends, and is devoted to them. He arrived, hardly dressed, so great had been his haste. His first words on entering were, "What is the matter?" Noel pressed his hand in silence, and by way of answer, pointed to the bed. In less than a minute, the doctor seized the lamp, examined the sick woman, and returned to his friend. "What has happened?" he asked sharply. "It is necessary I should know." The advocate started at the question. "Know what?" stammered he. "Everything!" answered Herve. "She is suffering from inflammation of the brain. There is no mistaking that. It is by no means a common complaint, in spite of the constant working of that organ. What can have caused it? There appears to be no injury to the brain or its bony covering, the mischief, then, must have been caused by some violent emotion, a great grief, some unexpected catastrophe . . ." Noel interrupted his friend by a gesture, and drew him into the embrasure of the window. "Yes, my friend," said he in a low tone, "Madame Gerdy has experienced great mental suffering, she has been frightfully tortured by remorse. Listen, Herve. I will confide our secret to your honour and your friendship. Madame Gerdy is not my mother; she despoiled me, to enrich her son with my fortune and my name. Three weeks ago I discovered this unworthy fraud; she knows it, and the consequences terrify her. Ever since, she has been dying minute by minute." The advocate expected some exclamations of astonishment, and a host of questions from his friend; but the doctor received the explanation without remark, as a simple statement, indispensable to his understanding the case. "Three weeks," he murmured; "then, that explains everything. Has she appeared to suffer much during the time?"

"She complained of violent headaches, dimness of sight, and intolerable pains in her ears, she attributed all that though to megrims. Do not, however, conceal anything from me, Herve; is her complaint very serious?" "So serious, my friend, so invariably fatal, that I am almost undertaking a hopeless task in attempting a cure." "Ah! good heaven!" "You asked for the truth, and I have told it you. If I had that courage, it was because you told me this poor woman is not your mother. Nothing short of a miracle can save her; but this miracle we may hope and prepare for. And now to work!"

CHAPTER VI. The clock of the St. Lazare terminus was striking eleven as old Tabaret, after shaking hands with Noel, left his house, still bewildered by what he had just heard. Obliged to restrain himself at the time, he now fully appreciated his liberty of action. It was with an unsteady gait that he took his first steps in the street, like the toper, who, after being shut up in a warm room, suddenly goes out into the open air. He was beaming with pleasure, but at the same time felt rather giddy, from that rapid succession of unexpected revelations, which, so he thought, had suddenly placed him in possession of the truth. Notwithstanding his haste to arrive at M. Daburon's he did not take a cab. He felt the necessity of walking. He was one of those who require exercise to see things clearly. When he moved about his ideas fitted and classified themselves in his brain, like grains of wheat when shaken in a bushel. Without hastening his pace, he reached the Rue de la Chaussee d'Antin, crossed the Boulevard with its resplendent cafes, and turned to the Rue Richelieu. He walked along, unconscious of external objects, tripping and stumbling over the inequalities of the sidewalk, or slipping on the greasy pavement. If he followed the proper road, it was a purely mechanical impulse that guided him. His mind was wandering at random through the field of probabilities, and following in the darkness the mysterious thread, the almost imperceptible end of which he had seized at La Jonchere. Like all persons labouring under strong emotion without knowing it, he talked aloud, little thinking into what indiscreet ears his exclamations and disjointed phrases might fall. At every step, we meet in Paris people babbling to themselves, and unconsciously confiding to the four winds of heaven their dearest secrets, like cracked vases that allow their contents to steal away. Often the passers-by mistake these eccentric monologuists for lunatics. Sometimes the curious follow them, and amuse themselves by receiving these strange confidences. It was an indiscretion of this kind which told the ruin of Riscara the rich banker. Lambreth, the assassin of the Rue de Venise, betrayed himself in a similar manner. "What luck!" exclaimed old Tabaret. "What an incredible piece of good fortune! Gevrol may dispute it if he likes, but after all, chance is the

He will. 'I have the rascal!' He can boast of owing me something. as Gevrol says. For once I shall not be sorry to see a lad get on. But who would have dreamed of a substitution?--an old sensational effect. . At sight of his amateur detective. and rendered ridiculous. M. This is a striking example of the danger of following preconceived ideas in police investigation. who has been brought up in the school of adversity. But it is mother Gerdy who surprises me most. I am too enthusiastic. I would not take a thousand crowns for what I have learnt this evening. or justice is not justice. at least." He resumed his walk. so that M. at least. and. I can see him now. But I see very well now. my boy. when one is pursuing a stag. I drank in his words. and it is the absurd that we should examine. . I deliver up the criminal. If any one wishes to do me an injury. "But the details!" said he. I am going to give him an agreeable awaking. becoming mixed up with a scandalous prosecution. Daburon will protect me. who was now crossing the Pont des Saints-Peres. So much the better! I like him. "There is something extraordinary! What have you discovered? have you got a clue?" .cleverest agent of the police. I should have cross-examined him. who protect them. On the other hand. I would have had him tell the story in a sentence. Ah! there is one to whom I am going to do a good turn. I jump at conclusions." he continued. very far from the reality. as in this case. pshaw! he will be like all the rest. Who would have imagined such a history? I was not. got hold of a quantity of useful details. Daburon raised himself in his bed. to be at once conducted to the magistrate's sleeping apartment. compromised. that playwrights no longer dare make use of. Won't he be vexed? He will wish me dead. Prosperity will turn his brain. Tabaret had but to give his name. however. I must be calm and on my best behaviour. it is but natural. . I might have awakened suspicions in Noel's mind. be made an officer of the Legion of Honour. I prefer that no one should know of it. but had given orders to his servant. but I did not even think of doing so. opening his eyes like saucers. Poor humanity he almost made me laugh. People are so stupid. But. run! Travel is a good thing for youth. We are affrighted at unlikelihood." M. I did not draw him out enough. ready to marry her! B-r-r-r!" At this thought. I am even vain of it. A woman to whom I would have given absolution without waiting to hear her confess. "When I think. But I don't care. and continued. I only know the bare facts. when I say to him. but at the same time. I shall kill two birds with one stone. "They are right at the office. stopped suddenly. and all on a sudden. the old fellow shivered. I guessed there was a child in the case." Old Tabaret. When I was with Noel. All the same. is one who deserves what he will get. This investigation will bring him honour. If he is asleep. There. We retire before the absurd. To be sure. by questioning him more. discovering the antecedents of Madame Tabaret. one does not stop to shoot a blackbird. and led him to discover that I am working for the Rue de Jerusalem. "By Jove! I have none. Won't he just overpower me with questions! He will want to know everything at once. . for here I am at the end of my journey. Already he begins to prate of his ancestors. the greatest unlikelihood often proves to be the truth. M. Everything is possible. that they detest the police. Daburon had just gone to bed. . "that my worthy Gevrol is running after the man with the earrings! Run. I do not blush for my connection with the police. He saw himself married. When I think that I was on the point of proposing to her. saying. and I give Noel a hearty lift up to recover his title and his fortune. .

" "I know it. had uttered these words slowly. Tabaret. past or future. in order to verify the writing. "no matter how high he may have to strike. the old fellow repeated to the magistrate all that he had learned from Noel. a French magistrate has never hesitated. The magistrate bounded in his bed." said M. Here it is. Heaven has willed this. "These letters. M. But I beg you will be seated and proceed." "I have not given you the names. He quoted from memory the extracts from the letters." insisted old Tabaret. and I have even taken one. "I proclaim you the greatest of all detectives. The great sin of the father has made the son an assassin. M. and it is that which annoys the stupid. Mechanically he repeated like a word without meaning which he was trying to impress upon his memory: "Albert de Commarin! Albert de Commarin!" "Yes. "Already!" said he. sir. smiling with pleasure. he certainly produced an effect. almost without changing a word. "the noble viscount." murmured the magistrate--"Yes. It is incredible. Daburon." resumed the old fellow. Crime engenders crime." "Oh! you can name them. Daburon with a certain degree of animation. The discovery is due to chance alone." resumed old Tabaret. He remained motionless. "that I know the author of the crime of La Jonchere." "You are too kind." added he. The father who has sacrificed his legitimate son for the sake of his bastard is Count Rheteau de Commarin." "You are modest. Tabaret." "And I. sir. M." answered the old fellow." Then with the lucidness and precision of which few would have believed him capable. sir. Tabaret. I know. and with a deliberate emphasis. "Is it possible?" "I have the honour to repeat to you. Daburon was struck with stupor. and the assassin of Widow Lerouge is the bastard. and a little frightened. like an accomplished artist. His expectation was more than realized." interrupted M. but we are going very high this time. sir. "Speak quickly!" "I know the culprit!" Old Tabaret ought to have been satisfied. Chance assists only the clever. The evidence is palpable. even to the blind. his eyes dilated with astonishment. I shall certainly never hereafter undertake an investigation without your assistance. "Are you unwell. Viscount Albert de Commarin!" M. confidently expecting to produce a great impression. "I have seen." "Yes. he approached the bed. sir?" he asked. you have discovered the criminal. ." But he perceived the alteration in the magistrate's face. "I wished first to hear your opinion."Better than that. I have had little or nothing to do in the matter.

in which the name of Albert de Commarin was mixed up. His mind wanted brilliancy and lightness. it had seemed to him far removed. reflected the most cruel agitation. dated from yesterday. his relationship caused him to be received at once by five or six aristocratic families. clear and distinct. we must converse at some length on this business. His face. Why. the emotion. and to discover under his cold exterior a warm heart. so as to taste again all its bitterness. He required to reflect and consider within himself. his pleasant disposition. into an armchair. He reasoned. while his eyes betrayed the inward agony of his soul. In a word. and a delicacy almost feminine. By his mother. more than eight hundred thousand francs' worth of the most valuable land. and seated himself. where he felt warmed by an atmosphere of sympathy. he could neither tell a lie. Those who knew him intimately quickly learned to esteem his sound judgment. It seemed to him now that this event. When he received his nomination in Paris. An hour ago. Kindly pass into my study. however. Three or four of his ancestors had filled successively the most important positions in the province. round about the ugly modern chateau which he inhabits. nor pay an insipid compliment." said the old fellow. reserved and timid even to excess. he was sought after for more solid qualities than these: for the nobleness of his sentiments. and the certainty of his connections. then. Do not leave the house though. it is not surprising. In reality nearly two years elapsed since. he is related to the highest nobility of Poitou. wisely . He accustomed himself to go about a great deal. is it? I should like to be alone a few minutes. he was unable to interpret his impressions immediately. Pierre-Marie Daburon belonged to one of the oldest families of Poitou. one word had sufficed to recall it. as every one knows. he carried his thoughts back to this epoch. "I am very well. one of the most exclusive that exists in France."No. Daburon. although he might be eclipsed in a room full of strangers or simpletons. but the surprise. awakened in him the most sorrowful recollections. "Yes. and the amiable art of conversing without a subject." answered M. or rather fell. and tore open a wound but badly healed. This name recalled to him an event which had rudely extinguished his youth and spoilt his life. put on a dressing gown. Involuntarily. so unexpectedly pronounced." Then M. none of the qualifications which ensure social success. had they not bequeathed a title and a coat of arms to their descendants? The magistrate's father possesses. I will join you directly. he charmed all hearts in a smaller circle. Like most men who feel deeply. without exactly knowing what he said. to which in the exercise of his austere functions he had managed to give the immobility of marble. He possessed. a Cottevise-Luxe. an excessive sensibility. However. and already hidden in the mists of the past.--" "I understand that. his keen sense of honour. there ought still to be a fire burning there. He was cold and grave even to sadness. he lacked the facility of repartee. and it was not long before he extended his circle of acquaintance. Daburon slowly got out of bed. The name of Commarin.

more than a volume. but she has not taken the trouble to open them. where her parents had taken refuge whilst awaiting the chastisements and repentance of an erring and rebellious people. Piece by piece. The surprise was as great as it was natural. he laboured to comprehend the working of the complicated machine called society. Listening to her. in some very ancient and very gilded apartment. language. or when playing her favorite game of piquet. What could he be doing? Inquiry resulted in the discovery that he passed nearly all his evenings at the house of the Marchioness d'Arlange. and takes her wine neat. she has preserved everything belonging to that period about which authors have written only to display the defects. much to the annoyance of Louis XIV. She has her four meals a day. so to say. For her it is a nightmare from which she is still awaiting a release. He thought that a man called upon to judge others. but he was nowhere to be met with. the restoration. Daburon disappeared. and has never been ill. it is impossible to say. She is surely the most singular legacy bequeathed us by the eighteenth century. and for that purpose study them. and inundate with water grand .--a personage whom one would consider rather out of date.. This dear marchioness was. An attentive and discreet observer. have passed beneath her windows. of which he was charged to overlook the movements. She is vivacious. How. habits. or rather is. eats like a vintager. Her mind had awakened amid the hum of antediluvian conversations. Here she imbibed a fund of ideas. Manners. applied to the forms of society of to-day. and keep the wheels in order. ought to know them. All that has happened since '89 she considers as never having been. that a magistrate can make better use of his time than by remaining shut up in his study. And on a sudden. and by what marvellous process she had been preserved such as we see her. the second republic. and active to excess. her imagination had first been aroused by arguments a little less profitable than those of an assembly of deaf persons convoked to decide upon the merits of the work of some distinguished musician. the monarchy of July. and an hour's conversation with her. almost costume. Her appearance alone will tell more than an exhaustive article. he examined the play of human interests and passions. She professes an undisguised contempt for the silly women of our century who live for a week on a partridge. M.perhaps. just as though she had been in a cabinet of curiosities. She had been brought up amongst the old nobles of the emigration. and which are to be obtained of dealers in illusions. exercised himself in disentangling and manoeuvring at need the strings of the puppets he saw moving around him. She has looked at everything. but then she looks through her own pretty glasses which show her everything as she would wish it. which. regulate the springs. in the early part of the winter of 1860 and 1861. and can only keep still when asleep. the second empire. you would swear that she was yesterday at one of those parties given by the queen where cards and high stakes were the rule. and where the great ladies cheated openly in emulation of each other. She was born in a little principality. The first empire. are as grotesque as would be those of a child shut up until twenty years of age in an Assyrian museum. in company with books of law. Though over sixty-eight years old she is as straight as a poplar.--for she is still in the land of the living. His friends sought for him.

saying. but used the phrase as ignoring the fact of the unfortunates who are not noble having been born at all) "One can receive him though. and his mother was a Cottevise who. having dragged him to her house in a mirthful mood. in order to have the right of saying the most unpleasant things which pass through her head.sentiments which they entangle in long phrases. proprietor of the pretty little house which she inhabits. But after a while she no longer amused him. but since administered in the most careless manner. to say the least. and partly restored by the indemnity allowed by the government." The strongest proof of friendship he received from her was. situated near the Invalides. Madame d'Arlange conceived a violent friendship for him. that. her terrible indiscretion. Of all her family. So circumstanced. she is on good terms with the curate of her parish. and her word is prompt and easily understood. if by accident she . Everybody dreads her loud voice. also. She believes in God. She was so confirmed in this habit. all the same. she considers herself the most unfortunate of God's creatures. she amused him very much. Of a fortune originally large. She seems to consider him a subaltern. between a rather narrow court-yard. she is shunned like the plague. there only remains her granddaughter. de Voltaire. and capable of opening the gate of paradise for her. and still is. and will do all I can to push him forward. if some delicate ears object! She heartily detests hypocrisy. she has only been able to preserve an income of twenty thousand francs. and passes the greater part of her life complaining of her poverty. he came again. I wish him well. his forefathers were very decent people. very positive. and I will show you a phenomenon." she declared. that she condescended to pronounce his name like the rest of the world. and became eloquent in his praises. On his second visit. "Come with me. went wrong. A friend of M. "delicate and sensible! What a pity he is not born!" (Her ladyship meant born of noble parentage. She has always been. a ghost of the past in flesh and bone. very useful to her salvation. and a very extensive garden. and who in her opinion had no right to names. She is. however. Daburon's presented him one evening to the Marchioness d'Arlange. she confesses that what she fears most is to die in a pauper's bed. She never shrinks from using the most appropriate word to express her meaning. for which reason. which diminishes day by day." The marchioness rather puzzled the magistrate the first time he was admitted to her presence. However. whose father died very young. but she believes also in M. Such as she is. especially after some exceptionally bad speculation. She had preserved that ridiculous affectation of forgetfulness of the names of people who were not of noble birth. and is very particular about the arrangement of her dinner on the days she honours him with an invitation to her table. though he still continued a faithful and constant visitor to the rose-coloured boudoir wherein she passed the greater part of her life. so that her devotion is. problematical. and the frankness of speech which she affects. So much the worse. "A most charming young man. From time to time.

Daburon was extremely amused at hearing his name altered every time she addressed him. added yet another charm to the young girl's manner. and proved to demonstration. while she carried her pupil into the land of sentimental phantasy and poetical imaginings. to be bothered with a young spy who would be in her way when she related some of her choice anecdotes. in three months time. Occasionally she exerted herself to prove to the worthy magistrate that he was a nobleman. a woman at once romantic and practical. "They preferred being foremost among their fellow-citizens to becoming last among the nobles. eminent. and taught her to avoid them. which fell in ringlets over her well-shaped neck and shoulders. chosen at hazard. Daburon was sure to . Claire d'Arlange was just seventeen years old. M. but her features recalled Guide's most celestial faces. Her blue eyes. shaded by long lashes of a hue darker than her hair. Her figure was still rather slender. This education. she had imbibed pretty correct ideas of the world in which she lived. or. A certain air of antiquity. of the tenderest sensibility and the severest virtue. M. She was." Upon which the marchioness explained. gave her at the same time the most practical instruction in matters relating to actual life. Laliron. at least. she called him Daburon as distinctly as if he had been a duke of something. what is often met with on the other side of the Rhine. Successively she made it Taburon. She was extremely graceful and gentle in manner. Claire owed to her governess. however. the result of her association with her grandmother.pronounced such a name correctly. They who were so surprised at the frequency of the magistrate's visits to this celebrated "relic of the past" did not know that lady's granddaughter. Daburon. happened by the most fortunate chance to be both well informed and possessed of principle. she went out so seldom! The old marchioness did not care. as her education had not been neglected." said she. Laridon. and influential. on arriving at Madame d'Arlange's. that between the most influential and wealthy citizen and the smallest scion of nobility.--" "My ancestors were wise. Maliron. did not recollect her. or at least ought to be. She had a profusion of fine light brown hair. Mademoiselle Schmidt. "that your ancestors. This governess. than her relative. and. but. wealthy. Every evening. if she could have persuaded him to adopt some title. Dabiron. these practical ideas. She would have been happy. She revealed to Claire all the peculiarities of thought and manner that rendered her grandmother so ridiculous. there was an abyss that all the money in the world could not fill up. "How is it possible. had above all an adorable expression. and have a helmet engraved upon his visiting cards. but without ceasing to respect them. This good woman. so she said. She had more sense. upon whose shoulders the marchioness had thrown the entire responsibility of cultivating her mind. she immediately repeated it with some ludicrous alteration. and lovely in her natural innocence. During his first visit. and a lord of somewhere. never thought of being raised from the common herd and securing a title for their descendants? Today you would possess a presentable pedigree." responded M.

" thought he. To attempt the thing would be to risk. "the house is shut against me. on these rare occasions." and immediately he became sad. In either case. ask for and obtain her. but he never dared to entertain it. but she did scruple to profit by them. having truly need of more bravery than . he learned to understand all their expressions. her questions were of such a length. He believed he could read in them all her thoughts. Having a listener. provided that from time to time he gave signs of life. he heard her voice." Upon the other hand. Then he would answer her at cross-purposes. he must certainly lose her in the end. whose pure and harmonious vibrations thrilled his very soul. changed the cards which did not suit her." he would say to himself. love her. and pocketed the money thus won without shame or remorse. her devotion to titles. he had learned mechanically by heart the phrase he proposed to repeat to her. She looked at the discard. At other times. and through them look into her soul like through an open window. he bent his steps towards the residence of Madame d'Arlange. and. for love lives upon its own misery. without this precaution. the marchioness's prejudices. well knowing that.find Claire seated beside her grandmother. and then he would be happy. in consequence. she was satisfied. he was convinced she would shut his mouth at the first word by a very decided "no. committing the most singular blunders. while she audaciously scored points she never made. that she did not care about the answers. and Claire was unsociable to excess. the magistrate did not directly address the young girl ten times. he gazed upon Claire. and it was for that that he called. which he labored afterwards to explain. he breathed the same air with her. her dread of any approach to a misalliance. in the month of April." which she would maintain. One fine afternoon. his mind was made up. Daburon's timidity was extreme. M. But at least he saw her. When obliged to sit down to play piquet. they therefore seldom spoke to each other. He made mistakes every moment. But he need not have taken the trouble. During the entire winter. the very rational thought occurred to him that another might see Mademoiselle d'Arlange. discarding what he should keep in and forgetting to cut. "Once repulsed. for life will end for me. he cursed below his breath the game and its detestable inventor. his present happiness which he thought immense. as a fanatic upon his idol. hazarding a proposal. Often in his ecstasy he forgot where he was for the moment and became absolutely oblivious of the old lady's presence. and then farewell to happiness. although her shrill voice was piercing the tympanum of his ear like a needle. he thought. The old lady was annoyed by these continual distractions. "She is pleased to-day. without a chance of success. or hesitating still. He paid no attention to his cards. Knowing. By constantly watching her eyes. Whilst listening with an inattentive ear to the old lady's rigmaroles and her interminable anecdotes of the emigration. Madame d'Arlange did not perceive her courtier's absence of mind. The idea of asking for her hand many times presented itself to his imagination. By the commencement of spring. "She has met with some annoyance to-day. he would most likely be unable to finish what he had to say. and. as he did.

Daburon found her in the rose-colored boudoir half undressed. who washed their hands in the blood of their king. and was uttering screams like an eagle. I know. she told her story. your powerful friends. "Victory or death!" The marchioness who had gone out shortly after breakfast had just returned in a terrible rage. He blessed her for her granddaughter. Claire and her governess were gone out. M. She had some work done by a neighboring painter some eight or ten months before. He listened to the complaint of that impudent scoundrel whom I enabled to live by employing him! And when I addressed some severe remonstrances to this judge. The force of the blow sent it to the other end of the room. in her wisdom. in the hope of calming her nerves. "you are always willing to serve me. . like the soldier." she continued. This was what had taken place. venting her anger upon the frightened girl. interlarded with numerous interjections and imprecations. now endeavored to calm her exasperation. Daburon. as an admirer of nature blesses heaven for the wild flower that delights him with its perfume. but she kept the matter to herself. and surrounded by the debris of the glass and china which had fallen under her hands in the first moments of her passion. to teach them the respect due to a woman of my rank. Tired of this proceeding. her hair in disorder.a soldier about to face a battery. red as a peony. She received Daburon as a messenger direct from Providence. This summons had exasperated the marchioness.--some son of the furies. Ah! my friend. he had summoned the high and mighty Marchioness d'Arlange before the Justice of the Peace. I count upon you! you will exercise your influence. "He must be some frantic Jacobin. He. I read stupor and indignation in your glance. The judge had been compelled to eject her forcibly from his office. without avail. having decided. where it broke into pieces. "Happily you are here. she struck a handsome scent bottle that her maid held in her hand. In her sudden movement. to call upon the judge and request him to reprimand the insolent painter who had dared to plague her for a paltry sum of money. A maid was occupied in inundating the old lady with all sorts of waters. to have this pitiful painter and this miscreant of a judge flung into some deep ditch. The result of this fine project may be guessed. Was she not Claire's grandmother? for that alone he loved and venerated her. Unfortunately. your credit. too. as it was my duty to do. awkward fool!" cried the marchioness. he had me turned out! Do you hear? turned out!" At this painful recollection. whispered to himself. "Do you comprehend this judge?" cried she. bewildered at first." The magistrate did not permit himself even to smile at this imperative demand. M. In a little more than half an hour. She did not allow him to pronounce three words. hence her fury. she made a menacing gesture with her arm. He had heard many speeches as absurd issue from her lips without ever making fun of them. and the workman had presented himself a hundred times to receive payment. "Stupid.

which interfered with his intended proposal. deplored its crimes. "the revolution is not ended yet. "you talk very foolishly. Daburon. thank heaven. "Pay!" she screamed. however. The unfortunate word "pay" brought Madame d'Arlange to her feet in the fiercest attitude. he talked the old lady into calmness. she was. and am forced to make such sacrifices for the sake of my grandchild!" This statement surprised the magistrate so strongly that involuntarily he repeated half-aloud. But I know. On the contrary. madame. At the end of an hour. To accomplish it. the duties of a mother. Commencing with the infamous Marat he eventually reached the rascal of a judge who had offended her. he thought it best to let them off the punishment they so richly deserved. my poor Daburon! Ah! you are happy. and I economise all I can for my little Claire. and ended by suggesting that it would perhaps be prudent. This magnificent result was due to the magistrate. "Sacrifices?" "Certainly!" resumed Madame d'Arlange. repaired the disorder of her toilette. they can do many things. the greatest tact. "In order that these scoundrels may persist in their obduracy! Encourage them by a culpable weakness! Never! Besides to pay one must have money! and I have none!" "Why!" said M. refusing myself everything to make both ends meet? Not a bit of it! I would invest my fortune in a life annuity. the reaction was immediate and complete. He was humorous and pathetic by turns. We shall all be swallowed up by it. He attacked the authors of the revolution. He was not so foolish as to contradict her. However. Vanquished by her own violence. and almost wept over its disastrous results. with his professional eloquence." "Alas!" cried the old lady. wise. They replaced her head-dress. nor was it of short duration. to exercise the most angelic patience. he caressed her hobby. because he came completely unprepared for this adventure. The first time that he had felt sufficient courage to speak. for I have nothing. pacified. if I do not pay?" "Well. and picked up the fragments of broken glass and china. my dear sir. Arming himself. your ancestors were people of no rank.The fury of the old lady was terrible. He abused his scandalous conduct in good set terms. however. cursed its errors. They may seize your furniture. What will they do to me. His triumph was the more meritorious. for this untoward event had quite upset his plans. almost ruin you. and it is frightfully sad for me. noble even to pay. It is easy to see that you have money. he had had to use all his ability. and the revolution passed a hundred feet above their heads. or appeared to be." . you who belong to the people! I see plainly that I must pay this man without delay. and was exceedingly severe upon the dishonest scamp of a painter. Who can tell whether they may not have been the gainers by it? It took all from the d'Arlanges. "it amounts to but eighty-seven francs!" "And is that nothing?" asked the marchioness. "Without her. would I have to live as I am doing. fortune seemed to declare against him. in costs. She fell back helpless and exhausted into an arm-chair.

it makes me giddy when I wonder how I am to marry her. As if ever I kept accounts! It is shameful! Ah! if Claire had any sense of filial duty." M." "Really! Daburon. I shall be compelled. Trust to my experience which is far greater than yours. "Ah! I am terribly anxious about this dear child. I do not know of one who has the manhood to take a d'Arlange with her bright eyes for a dowry. he said: "Well! Madame. which he tried to render firm. but he will beg you to invest your fortune as you think fit. "It seems to me. I was afraid--" "Quick! tell me who is this admirable son-in-law." "That." said Madame d'Arlange. timidly. At last his opportunity had arrived. when I find a son-in-law. to render an account of Claire's patrimony. that he could not utter a word." "I did not dare." "The man of whom I speak." "Ah! really I am stifling. "is always understood. Daburon felt that now was the time to speak. and in a voice. Daburon. Not only will he decline an examination of your accounts of guardianship. and have never yet mentioned him to me! You ought to have introduced him long ago. this white blackbird? where does he nestle?" . "I confess M. "By no means. Of this. it seems. I am assured by my lawyer. I would use every effort to pay the necessary dower. you are by no means a fool!" exclaimed the old lady." "Unfortunately." "I believe that you exaggerate. and is rich. Daburon. Besides. your son-in-law will allow you sufficient to make up what you now find wanting. now-a-days. "that to find Mademoiselle Claire a husband ought not to be difficult." stammered he. Men are so mercenary they think only of money. as a good horseman pulls his horse together when going to leap a hedge.This devotion appeared so admirable to M. he must take advantage of it at once." interrupted the marchioness. He will be only too happy to receive Mademoiselle Claire without a dowry. my friend." The magistrate reddened with pleasure. and who will do everything in the world to make her happy. She is pretty enough. although rather thin. madame. but she has no affection for me. she would quietly take the veil in some convent. I believe I know a party who would suit Mademoiselle Claire. Daburon. but. beauty goes for nothing. who loves her." continued the magistrate. he will cause me a thousand troubles. He collected his courage. I admit. it is." continued the marchioness." remarked M.--an honest man. "If you prefer not to invest your fortune in a life-annuity. "What! you know such a man. "is still young.

This name. could almost have embraced the old lady. my dear friend. his look. it is true." murmured the magistrate. Your mother." said she. "After all. for five good minutes at least. and try to persuade her. consent to speak to Claire of this horrible misalliance. if it were necessary to my happiness. was a Cottevise. is that I will not be against you. Do you think it will be easy to make a Daburon of a young girl who for nearly eighteen years has been called d'Arlange?" This objection did not seem to trouble the magistrate. My father is worth about a million. the most excellent of women. he would give it to me. "You are then very rich?" "I inherited. frightened at having vanquished his timidity. my grandchild's prospects disquiet me. Daburon. you believe Claire to be just as she looks. but I cannot do so. she is hardy. he would give me all his fortune. and that is too much. however. from my mother. bequeathed me over a hundred thousand crowns. Now you are warned. "Are you perfectly serious in all you have told me. "Wait!" said the old lady. He thought her the best. and. At length she raised her head. What I can promise you. Our conditions are .'" M.--timid. is simply ridiculous. who died last year. he was going to stake his happiness on a word. the Daburons may perhaps end by ennobling themselves. and I must excuse her for marrying so wretchedly. she remained plunged in reflection. Undeceive yourself. then shrugging her shoulders. fierce. On the strength of marrying into noble families. Were I to ask him for the half to-morrow. But suddenly she stopped. I am old and desolate. Despite her innocent air. She. almost mad. One last piece of advice. she said: "Really. dear Daburon is too ridiculous. "Listen. sweet. "I have stated the truth. but your father is simple M. and assumed her most dignified air. her forehead resting in her hands." continued the old lady. he would have called his servants to show you the door. At length he stammered. that is my excuse. "your cause is not yet gained.The magistrate felt a strange fluttering of the heart. he will make me die of laughing! He is so amusing!" After which she burst out laughing again. For the sake of our name I ought to do the same. so you may win a d'Arlange. I cannot. laughed until the tears came into her eyes. "Had you been so bold as to make this proposal to Claire's father. who was worse than an Auvergne mule. pay your addresses to Mademoiselle d'Arlange. "your father gained a Cottevise. "It is I. Daburon. and be but too well contented. his gesture were beseeching." Madame d'Arlange signed to him to be silent. I am poor. and was on the point of falling at the old lady's feet. Daburon?" she asked. If she says 'yes. however.' of her own free will. I shall not say 'no. obedient. should I leave him the administration of it. my friend. and obstinate as the marquis her father. M. madame!" His voice. not noticing the facility with which this proud spirit had been brought to yield. He was surprised at his own audacity. madame. in the very height of her merriment. One of my uncles. transported with happiness. He was delirious. Take your own measures. about twenty thousand francs a year.

nestling in the midst of flowers. and the earth seemed to him to give way beneath his footsteps. She accepted it with an air of uneasy surprise. M. but she no longer hesitated to address the first word. to speak to the well-beloved of his soul. as he looked very sad. to interest her. and the unhappiest of men. True love is ingenious. "She does not love me. to amuse her. He furnished this dwelling in the most luxuriant style. This grave magistrate felt a mad desire to stop the passers-by. an enchanting little villa. At times she intrusted him with trifling commissions. or else he had become so light that he was going to fly away towards the stars. The tears came to his eyes. it was either too small to carry so much happiness. his visits to the marchioness became more frequent. he left her presence broken-hearted. to encourage her to converse with him.--"Have you heard? The marchioness consents!" He walked. He might almost be said to live at her house. the execution of which he would not have exchanged for the Russian embassy. though many months had passed since these events.agreed to. he strove assiduously to be something in her life. which she wished to place on her flower-stand. to cry to them. He already saw it. He went in quest of all the news. If she had heard a play well spoken of and wished to know the subject. with its facade to the rising sun. she begged him to procure her certain flowers. that as he sat at home in his arm-chair. While he preserved his respectful and reserved demeanour towards Claire. then very much in fashion. to press them in his arms. He departed in triumph from the d'Arlange abode. He wished to provide a marvellous casket. He began to perceive that her fear of him had almost disappeared. He read all the new books." thought he. "she will never love me. He was so happy! The sky appeared to him more blue. and brought to her all that were fit for her to read. the sun more brilliant. thanks to the most delicate persistence. Once he ventured to send her a magnificent bouquet. which he would send her through the post. that she no longer received him with the cold and haughty air which had previously kept him at a distance. his chest dilated. He felt that he was insensibly gaining her confidence." This scene was so present to the magistrate's mind. not far from Tours. are they not? Let us say no more on the subject. which he had entered with a heart swelling with anxiety. and shaded with wide-spreading trees. What castles in the air he built upon what Madame d'Arlange had said to him! He would tender his resignation. and commit a complete account of it to writing. and the word "success" still sounded in his ears. Daburon would at once go to see it." But. but begged him not to repeat the offering. She even ventured at times to ask him a question. She still blushed when she spoke to him. He would build on the banks of the Loire. I almost wish you to succeed. in taming this shy young girl. three days after. He learnt to overcome his timidity. He sent enough to fill the house . Little by little he succeeded. For he had not a doubt. he still seemed to hear the old lady's voice. and breathing the fresh air with the full strength of his lungs. not a cloud obscured the horizon made radiant by his hopes. He walked with his head erect. "Beware!" From that day. no voice at the bottom of his heart raised itself to cry. worthy the pearl he was about to possess.

" If instead of intoxicating himself with dreams of happiness. These events. Daburon looked at her. as with a beloved brother. while he was obliged to do violence to his feelings. heaving a deep sigh. this acute observer had studied the character of his idol. and." continued she. she would remain melancholy and dejected. while the marchioness remained at the window. she was gay and careless as a child. Daburon. laughingly. "Oh! that. "One day. "She will love me. but. my friend. She did not understand the game very well. On certain days. . treading lightly upon the paths spread with gravel sifted so fine that the trailing of her light dress effaced the traces of their footsteps. to refrain from imprinting a kiss upon the little blonde head.--"She is robbing you. He thought he saw a tear between her long eyelashes." M. she would say: "You know what we agreed upon. At such moments. for a week. nearly always taking the magistrate's side against the marchioness. when the old gambler cheated too openly. the leaves rustled. he dared to ask her the reason of her sadness.--"To-morrow!" It happened at last one evening in the month of August.--a secret of which even my grandmother knows nothing. towards dusk a breeze had risen. In the meanwhile." he whispered to himself in his joy. there were signs of a storm in the atmosphere. To think that I may one day have a granddaughter calling herself Madame Daburon! You must petition the king.from the garret to the cellar. Often in the evening she accepted his arm. "I also. he said to himself. from which the light breeze lifted the curls and scattered them like fleecy clouds. to change your name. "To-morrow I will confess everything to her. during which he kept repeating to himself. Then. Already does the voice of conscience reproach me for lending my countenance to such an abomination." The magistrate was blind and deaf. under the arbour. which I wish to confide to you in return. to which her grandmother had made a point of taking her. he noticed singular alterations in her humour. so trifling but yet so great. "I may confide in you: it will perhaps be necessary. When he attempted to speak of his hopes to the marchioness. They were seated together at the bottom of the garden. "have a secret.--she is robbing you!" He would willingly have been robbed of his entire fortune. he seemed to tread an enchanted path strewn with flowers. the heat all day had been overpowering. the effect might have been to put him upon his guard. and say. M." Then passed a little more than fifty days." answered he." When he retired towards midnight. only the young girl now appeared to interest herself in the play. Not a word. She chatted gaily with him. at the end of which appeared happiness. to hear that sweet voice raised on his behalf. had not interrupted the games of piquet. seated in her arm-chair. "is my secret. Seeing her in this state the day following a ball. It was summer time. she would notice it." answered she. they walked around the lawn.

Do you not understand me? A word from your lips will decide my future happiness or misery. M. Daburon ventured to take the young girl's hand. and. but at the words. filled with astonishment. "Claire--" She turned towards him her beautiful eyes. What were then his feelings. through the branches. at this the most critical moment of his life was powerless to utter a word.--"Your father!" Mademoiselle d'Arlange felt how deeply she had wounded this man whose . "Mademoiselle. Who knows! you will. They had remained a long time without speaking. they smashed into a thousand fragments the fragile edifice of his hopes. "and through me? Claire.-"I am very unhappy. and uttered a stifled cry. they perceived the fluttering gown of the marchioness. you are cruel! In heaven's name." stammered he. you are going to hate me." continued he. before daring to raise my eyes to you. The same as a heavy hammer. I thoughtlessly confided in you. what have I done? What is the matter? Speak! Anything rather then this anxiety which is killing me. Daburon remained upon his knees. and yet I swear before heaven that I never expected what you have just said to me. I feel it. I see it now! I comprehend everything! It is not possible." said she: "I suffer so much. who was taking a turn after her dinner. enjoying the perfume of the flowers. "you will think you have been the victim of a detestable coquetry. when he saw Claire burst into tears. and again made an attempt to take her hand. Mademoiselle d'Arlange looked at him as though doubtful of the evidence of her senses." murmured she. I have spoken to your grandmother. mademoiselle. as in the best. He raised himself slowly. Daburon. Claire. "You. "Forgive me. that. and. and drove the blood surging to his brain." He knelt before her on the gravelled walk. "Let me weep. do not spurn me: I love you!" While the magistrate was speaking. and as if lost in a desert? Silly and imprudent. Alas! I was but a child. despise me. "is this really you?" M. The presentiment of an immense misfortune oppressed his heart. the calm beauty of the evening. "I love you!" pronounced with the trembling accents of the most devoted passion. and kept repeating. I gave myself up to the great happiness of having a friend! Am I not alone in the world. awaiting his doom. very unhappy!" "You unhappy?" exclaimed the magistrate at length. a man can be all that you have been to me. She hid her face in her hands. without a profound love." These words revealed to the unfortunate magistrate the extent of his error. she disengaged her hand sharply." continued Claire. in a tone of involuntary reproach. and the touch of her fine skin thrilled through every fibre of his frame. It was the first time. that I had not even a suspicion of it!" M. "forgive me. "Yes. perhaps.adorned with exotic plants. She repulsed him with an imploring gesture. he repeated. the most indulgent of fathers.

but he felt a terrible enjoyment in torturing himself. of one heart into which runs the overflow of mine!' Ah! why was not my confidence greater? Why did I withhold my secret from you? I might have avoided this fearful calamity. Why did you not pronounce it! It was with such happiness that I leant on you as a child on its mother. "his father. Claire. to devote oneself entirely to another." answered Mademoiselle d'Arlange. "You love another. I ought to have told you long since. Daburon that he was beholding the frightful spectacle of a weeping statue. "how have you known him. and with what inward joy I said to myself. to hope always." continued Claire. His father is cruel. and he is stopped by obstacles?" "I am poor. I owe to your silence. spoken to him? Where? When? Madame d'Arlange receives no one. Heavy tears rolled silently down her cheeks. Daburon could not restrain a sob." murmured Claire." M. he is rich. that is my idea of love. and proving his misfortune by intense suffering. "another! And your grandmother does not know it. I no longer belong to myself freely and with happiness. is it not really an immense joy? To suffer. or she belongs to heaven!" "Certain obstacles!" said M.--"one single word. he knows it. 'I am sure of one friend. to struggle. his heart was breaking. I thanked heaven for sending me a protector to replace those who are dead. and that withholds him! You are poor.intense love she dare not even fathom. his family. become for me so good. and suddenly to fall rudely to the earth. Claire. but a girl like me can love but once. This shall be my share of life's happiness." said he at length. "One word. "and his family is immensely rich. "Far better to have spoken. "yet no. to wait." cried the magistrate." "It is thus I love. six months of enchanting dreams. his sufferings are not to be described." ." answered he. Daburon in a hollow voice. usually so grave and austere. He knew that for him there was no hope." The last beams of closing day still enabled the magistrate to see Mademoiselle d'Arlange. and that stops him! And yet he knows you love him! Ah! why am I not in his place? and why have I not the entire universe against me? What sacrifice can compare with love? such as I understand it. How is it the marchioness does not receive him?" "There are certain obstacles. "obstacles which perhaps we may never be able to remove. "You love a man. He could understand it." insisted he. "I love you as a father! Seeing you. Daburon's fate. you can only have chosen a man worthy of your love." said Claire with simplicity. This answer crushed the magistrate. Nay. six months of delicious illusions. She marries him she loves. "Yes. would it be a sacrifice? That which appears most so." "His father. so indulgent. Her beautiful face had the whiteness and the immobility of marble. would have enlightened me. I have given my life to another." To hover in the clouds. with a bitterness he did not dream of hiding. such was M. inexorable." she resumed. "But. It seemed to M.

and all will be concluded." "You misjudge me. "O mademoiselle!" said M. "that I can count upon you. wounded by this appearance of doubt. "I have nothing to say to the marchioness." said she. whose eyes were suddenly opened. "I remember now." answered Mademoiselle d'Arlange. have failed to see." "That is because I see how much he is pained by the obstacles he cannot overcome. No doubt she will think that I have altered my mind!" . "I see very plainly what effect this will have on my peace. permit me to say." "Is his family. "When my grandmother learns that I have not received your homage. you are gayer than usual. "I am coming. sir." Claire held him back. as very honourable to myself.--old Mademoiselle Goello. when you return. "that what I. she will be very angry. which I consider. come what will. that I saw him for the first time." asked the magistrate harshly. which had so strongly influenced the old lady. "It is certain." answered Claire proudly. "I know." interrupted M. I will retire." The marchioness at this moment. mademoiselle." continued she. He is called Albert de Commarin. you are often sad. was preparing to return to her rose-coloured boudoir. there we meet each other now. to omit absolutely the question of money. however. Daburon. "even his name. Daburon. That she has continued to receive you is a tacit encouragement of your addresses. having the delicacy. who is a cousin of his. Daburon." Mechanically the magistrate arose. and." "Ah!" exclaimed M. It was at the house of one of my grandmother's friends. sir. so illustrious. She therefore approached the arbour. a young and inexperienced girl. "that it disdains alliance with yours?" "I should have told you everything. A few days before your visit to Mademoiselle Goello. "I have known him for a long time." M. without waiting to be questioned. sir. piquet awaits you. has not passed unnoticed by my grandmother." resumed Claire. my tranquillity is gone. "I have not asked you to keep my secret."I ought now to tell you everything. stammering. but. his eyes questioned her." And briefly he related his interview with Madame d'Arlange. There we spoke to each other." replied the magistrate. mademoiselle." "I have already mentioned. "that the marchioness has deigned to authorise my hopes." said Claire sadly. and exclaimed in her loud voice:-"Worthy magistrate. Daburon looked at her with an air of surprise. thinking she had walked enough. then.

They mounted the steps. you must remain my friend. come to your friend. "what you ask of me? What! is it you who talk to me of forgetting? Do you feel the power to forget? Do you not see that I love you a thousand times more than you love--" He stopped. of feeling suddenly unwell. your most devoted friend. . she leaning on his arm." Claire. Daburon felt sick at heart." cried she. "permit me to say. as in the past. She turned to her grand-daughter. and entered the rose-coloured boudoir where the marchioness was seated. He could not have held the cards. "remember that there is one unfortunate being in the world who belongs to you absolutely. while awaiting her victim. come to me. His departure made the old card-player highly indignant.' I wish all the same to remain your friend. what you have said to-night. I cherish this last illusion." he added. of duties to be attended to. "and soon you will have forgotten even the name of the unfortunate whose life's hopes have just been shattered. and asked. and then." pursued M. impatiently shuffling the cards. "Well. for the last time. so that it was with difficulty he made it distinct. "Is it possible. I shall only return often enough to avoid the appearance of a rupture. spoke of pressing affairs. Sometimes you will say. Instinctively she approached him." murmured he at length." They had left the arbour. Daburon." resumed M. Claire. If ever you have need of a friend's devotion. no. 'He loved me." said the young girl quickly. adieu! You will see me again but seldom. in her turn. the best. the most indulgent of brothers. "Now. Now it is over . clinging to the walls. I have courage. who had gone to hide her confusion away from the candles of the card table. clasped M. But M. mademoiselle. you are right. "And now. Let us forget what has happened. that later on you will remember me with pleasure. then. . "What is the matter with Daburon this evening?" . unable to pronounce the name of Commarin." Darkness had come. and went out."Oh! you are good and generous. adieu!" She was but little less moved than he was. and said with great emotion:--"Yes. I know!" "I will go away. mademoiselle. and for the first and last time he touched lightly with his cold lips the forehead of her he loved so well. Daburon's hands. and were now standing not far from the steps leading to the house. Daburon. and she could not see him. with an effort he added: "And I shall love you always. "Whatever may happen. for he was slow to answer." His voice trembled. yes. and remain to me. but she knew he was weeping. incorruptible magistrate. He stammered some absurd excuses." "You do not mean what you say.

nobleness. for having cast a shadow upon her life. perhaps he is unwell. He reproached himself for having shown her how he suffered. he had fallen from his horse. would have given proof of his breeding by saying nothing about it. and to allay his excessive weariness. He could not forgive himself for having spoken of his love. that. of heroism. "Fool that I was!" said he to himself. "Is it not his duty to exercise some self-denial. when her face was bathed in tears! Could anything be more angelic? What a sublime expression her eyes had in speaking of him! How she must love him! And I? She loves me as a father. seeking to cool his heated brow. played all through the evening and lost with the best grace in the world two hundred and twenty pistoles. that she would ever love me." "And what if he is?" exclaimed the old lady. Nobody made any remark. and long since experience has dissipated all my illusions. she dreamed of me? Her imagination would present me . and of silently adoring her? "A young and romantic girl. "thousand times fool to have hoped. All through the night he wandered about at random. who. What would she see. This little Daburon.--whom she can caress in imagination. gratifying herself by seeing in him every great and brilliant quality. the Duke de St Hurluge. "It appears to me. if he is unwell. and I am as old as vice.--as a father! And could it be otherwise? Is it not justice? Could she see a lover in a sombre and severe-looking magistrate. and had sat at his majesty's card table with a broken rib. or he will end by believing himself our equal. "must have a lover she can dream of. Madman! how could I have dared to dream of possessing so much grace. Who can tell what games he has gone to play elsewhere!" CHAPTER VII." The unfortunate magistrate felt thoroughly ashamed of himself. madame. and beauty! How charming she was this evening. and excused her. the future is yet the land of smiling chimeras. during the hunt. so perfectly natural did this act of ordinary politeness appear in those days. of bravery. of hearing her."I do not know." stammered Claire. having been chosen to join the king's card party on their return from the chase. M. On the following day only it was learned." pursued he. But he is as well as I am. if. as an ideal. she told me so. Daburon did not return home on leaving Mademoiselle d'Arlange." continued the marchioness. that he would thus deprive himself of the happiness of seeing her. Ought he not to have foreseen what had happened?--that she would refuse him. grandmamma. in my absence. He understood Claire. in return for the honour of our company? I think I have already related to you the story of your granduncle. All the assembly remarked his gaiety and his good humour. He must be reminded of his proper place. She is as young as innocence. imagining him full of nobleness. to have believed. "that the little magistrate permits himself to take singular liberties." Claire tried to explain the magistrate's conduct: "He has been complaining all the evening. and remaining for my piquet. always as sad as his black coat? Was it not a crime to dream of uniting that virginal simplicity to my detestable knowledge of the world? For her.

that haughty viscount. In his heart arose a hate. unconsciously. Anger. they hear all. but which strikes. Such are the images a thought of me would awaken." thought he. For he himself had just determined upon the commission of a crime. Daburon felt himself seized with pity for this miserable creature. while the priest carries consolation in the folds of his black robe. She was very ugly. that preferred one. like the priest. who would pause. who could not overcome those paltry obstacles. Is it not my trade to descend into all moral sinks. At that very hour he was supposed to be occupied with an inquiry into the case of an unfortunate. He mechanically tendered them his card. That other. whom he had commenced to examine the day before. and tried to question him. near Grenelle. M. He went with his head bare. oh. coarse in manners. which strikes in the dark. who had tried to take her lover from her. "She loves him sincerely. when speaking of her soldier. he had torn off his cravat and thrown it to the winds. which kills. In a by-road. but. He was resolved to kill Albert de Commarin. she would be acquitted. the necessity for and the justifiableness of this vengeance. in fact truly repulsive. this noble and proud man. . But how many men in this world have loved passionately? Perhaps not one in twenty. he crossed the path of a solitary wayfarer. whether in front or from behind matters little. to condemn himself to solitude and celibacy? Both know all. She was jealous of the woman. engaged with some vile criminal. To breathe more freely. touched with pity. During the rest of the night he became all the more determined in this resolution. He began to understand the hate that arms itself with a knife. accused of having stabbed one of her wretched companions. Sometimes.--the other--" The wretched man continued his headlong course along the deserted quays. They read it. and always drunk. the magistrate conveys terror. which he found solid and inscrutable. this severe and grave magistrate experienced an irresistible longing for vengeance. some police officers stopped him. demonstrating to himself by a thousand mad reasons. and turn to watch the retreating figure of the unfortunate wretch he thought deprived of reason. He was a soldier. One is mercy. while the other. began to replace his first feeling of resignation. in the depth of a gloomy dungeon. returned to the magistrate's memory. and lays in ambush in out-of-the-way places. that he had him there. whose vengeance blood alone can satisfy. his eyes haggard.--a furious anger.dressed in a funeral robe. and permitted him to pass. and to extenuate as much as possible her guilt. the other chastisement. stronger and more violent than even his love for Claire. to stir up the foulness of crime? Am I not compelled to wash in secrecy and darkness the dirty linen of the most corrupt members of society? Ah! some professions are fatal. but the expression of the eyes. "If each one of the jurors had suffered what I am suffering now. Ought not the magistrate. convinced that he was drunk." He resolved to recommend this girl to the indulgence of the tribunal. under his knee! At that moment. their costumes are nearly the same.

thrown into prison. he acted under the power of an hallucination. seated at a table. that for six weeks he had wavered between life and death. and then fell all of a heap on the pavement. he grasped with frenzy the handle of the revolver which he kept concealed. not far from the lake. and placed upon my trial at the assizes. who. procured a cab. No one noticed the strange state of his mind. as was his custom formerly when visiting the Marchioness d'Arlange. He made at once for the Porte Maillot. and put it into his pocket. thinking only of the murder he was determined to commit. as he too was a member. While passing along." thought he. so what care I for all the rest? My father no doubt will die of grief. With much caution they told him. "above all if I do not succeed in blowing my own brains out. almost like a somnambulist. all would go well. he turned suddenly and fled. so natural were his manners and conversations. now that reason was restored. In one of his pockets they found his address. It was the viscount. and was driven to his house. and the means of insuring the accuracy of his aim. My name will be dishonoured! Bah! what does that signify? Claire does not love me. . he found himself in an avenue of the Bois de Boulogne. He reflected and reasoned. When he recovered his senses. M. it seemed to M. his friend pointed out a very dark young man. "This will make a terrible scandal. and went out. but could not utter a sound.At seven o'clock in the morning. to him. He was conscious of no fatigue. reeled for an instant. with a haughty air. or what appeared so to him. his heart failed him. and offered to conduct him thither. and. Daburon walked up to him without drawing his revolver. and carried him home. and accompanied his friend. He tried to cry out. which he caused to be carefully loaded under his own eyes. He first called at an armourer's and bought a small revolver. As soon as he arrived home he dressed himself with care. but without suffering. but without his reason. M. The doctors had declared his life saved. On reaching the street. he was in his bed. Daburon accepted warmly. Daburon that the ground was receding from beneath him. I shall be arrested. at the foot of which he perceived his father. was reading a review. The delirium of the night continued. that everything was turning around him. Calm and cool. But when within two paces. Only once again will Albert de Commarin be as near death. he struck at the air with his hands. He then called on the different persons he supposed capable of informing him to what club the viscount belonged. It was not until the afternoon that a young friend of his gave him the name of Albert de Commarin's club. leaving his friend astonished at a scene. "What has happened?" he asked. but I must have my revenge!" On arriving at the club. utterly inexplicable. The passers-by ran and assisted the police to raise him.

and assured him it was but a reminiscence of his delirium. a man to give way without a struggle. he found. He tried. dressed in white garments. without seeing therein. All his actions from the moment when he embraced Claire appeared before him. to speak to him. At length. Claire was ill for a week after seeing him. the investigating magistrate had resumed his ordinary avocations. He shut his eyes. all that concerned Mademoiselle d'Arlange stood out clear and luminous. and recommended him to marry a stout Poitevine heiress. an irreparable misfortune. but the pure figure of Claire. Then. and his hair was in a moment soaking with perspiration. however. But try as he would. She took him for a spectre. were I to recount my experience?" Some days later. in the midst of the darkness and confusion. placed at his disposal his entire fortune. The convalescence of oblivion was commencing. that a question of criminal law crossed his brain. she uttered a cry of terror.Five minutes' conversation exhausted him. so much was he changed in appearance. but they whirled hither and thither wildly. but he came no more. earned him the reputation of an ambitious man. very gay and healthy. but he cared for nothing in the world. "should I have been condemned? Yes. and tried to collect his ideas. Once he ventured to pay a visit to his old friend. The proof that he was restored to full possession of his faculties was. Was I responsible? No. He had almost become an assassin. who would go far. As she dreaded dismal faces. He sought for pleasure." thought she! "It has almost killed him! Can Albert love me as much?" She did not dare to answer herself. His eagerness. the marchioness. to distract his thoughts. Then he took refuge in work. The old gentleman shrugged his shoulders. as in a sanctuary. "The crime committed. he returned home. she ever after shut her door to him. but not forgetfulness. Two months later. always barred the doors against him. but that painless benumbing which commonly follows a great catastrophe. Often he went so far as the threshold of debauchery. yet." said he to himself. The past seemed shrouded in a dark mist. Daburon was not. as his estate was suffering by his absence. He advised him to think of something else. his feverish activity. . as the consumptive forbids himself to meditate upon his malady. She felt a desire to console him. Is crime merely the result of mental alienation? Was I mad? Or was I in that peculiar state of mind which usually precedes an illegal attempt? Who can say? Why have not all judges passed through an incomprehensible crisis such as mine? But who would believe me. The good old man was moved at the story of his son's luckless wooing. attempt something. he only went through his duties like a body without a soul. as his father advised him. as autumn leaves in the wind. he was sufficiently recovered to tell his father all. and forbade himself to think of Claire. condemned himself to the most incessant labour. and found disgust. He shuddered. who would bear him some fine children. M. On seeing him. not rest. "How he loved me. He felt that something was broken. however.

and make an accomplice of him by ensuring his silence. illustrious by his fortune and his ancestors. and hand over to the assizes the man he had once resolved to kill. and behold they reappeared. I almost stained myself with a vile murder!" And now it was his duty to cause to be arrested. During some minutes. delivered into his hands this man preferred by Claire. But this was only a passing thought. recollect that a criminal.--hatred and justice? Can a magistrate. and he judged himself. We shall have to follow a wrong track.These were the events. To retain a stolen name." it cried. so long as he harbours the least resentment against him?" M. followed by a detestable feeling of satisfaction. "Is anything. he had committed a most cowardly assassination. All the world. he assisted at the representation of his own life. Chance had. he wavered." A project of mad generosity occurred to the bewildered man. to interrogate. just the same as those characters traced in sympathetic ink when held before a fire. this man. And he. the magistrate. leaving to another the task of avenging him in the name of society? "No. His first thought. But how can I save him? To do so I shall be obliged to suppress old Tabaret's discoveries. was about to experience the infinite gratification of striking his enemy with the sword of justice. He acted. How choose a path in the midst of so many perplexities! Impelled by different interests. Is this practicable? Besides. without despising himself more than he despises the vile beings he condemns. Daburon's mind when old Tabaret pronounced the name of Commarin. "if for Claire's sake I leave him his honour and his life. and at the same time he appeared on the stage. so to say. "If I save him. and made its powerful voice heard. has been his enemy? Has an investigating magistrate the right to make use of his exceptional powers in dealing with a prisoner. and wash his hands of the blood that had been shed. but the illegitimate offspring of a courtesan. join Gevrol in running after some imaginary murderer. In an instant they unrolled themselves before his memory. ignored this crime of thought and intention. it is true. was one of hate. but could he himself forget it? Was not this. undecided between the most opposite decisions. The man's upright conscience revolted against it. with the instantaneousness of a dream annihilating time and space. now no longer a haughty nobleman." murmured he. it must be confessed. whose fate is in his hands." said he. In short. At once actor and spectator." The magistrate suffered greatly. He believed them buried under the ashes of time. a case in which he should decline to be mixed up? Ought he not to withdraw. of all others. to spare Albert is to defame Noel. "it would be a cowardice unworthy of me. Daburon repeated to himself what he had so frequently thought during the year. "more monstrous than the association of these two ideas. when commencing a fresh investigation: "And I also. his mind oscillating from . it is still sacrificing justice to my feelings. it is to assure impunity to the most odious of crimes. he was there seated in his arm-chair. recalled to M.

like all leading articles of the time. was exclusively occupied with the Roman question. for the present." Only then did M. The fixed idea. "Resign?" said he to himself. "Where. If Claire has preferred him to me. After which. who reads all my thoughts. I am worthy to be his judge. sees that I love Claire enough to desire with all my heart the innocence of her lover. certainly. Taking up a lamp. brought him forcibly back to La Jonchere. "Goodness!" cried he. then. He had not read a third of the leading article. It was nearly three o'clock in the morning. by letting him find me as much a counsellor as a magistrate. he arranged and entangled alternately his chain of inductions and arguments. What could he do? His reason after this new and unforeseen shock vainly sought to regain its equilibrium. make abstraction of the past? My duty is to pursue this investigation. If he is not guilty. "Do I still hate this young man?" he continued. he then examined with considerable curiosity some rare bronzes placed about the room. "why. he shall make use of all the means in my power to establish his innocence. and seated himself in a vast armchair. I am unable to divest myself of my personality? Can I not. insensible to prejudice? am I so weak that. let him perish!" This was very sound reasoning. he approached the hearth. and handsomely furnished in accordance with his position and fortune. Claire herself would desire me to act thus. taking an evening paper from the table. He wanted to reassure himself. Daburon seem to be vaguely aware of the lapse of time. He had noticed the passage of time no more than the magistrate. Like the child who again and again builds up and demolishes his house of cards. where lay the murdered Widow Lerouge. if guilty. would be my courage? Ought I not rather to remain the representative of the law. which was large. "No. he became absorbed in meditation. Heaven. My rage was no more than a passing fit of delirium. he will be saved. Yes. which." But M. In his own mind there was certainly no longer a doubt as regards this sad affair. in assuming my office. but. If he is innocent. I shall probably find him asleep. old Tabaret is waiting for me. he first admired six very valuable pictures. and more interesting to him than politics. I will prove it. and it seemed to him that M. and bestowed on the bookcase the glance of a connoisseur. what difficulties there still remained to encounter! There exists between the investigating magistrate and the accused a . Daburon's study. Ten minutes had sufficed him to take an inventory of the contents of M.one extreme to the other. letting the paper drop from his hands. Would she wed a man suspected of a crime? Never. Tabaret was not asleep. incapable of emotion. it is to Claire and not to him I owe my suffering. Daburon shared his opinions. But yet. which ornamented the walls. stronger than one's will. a thousand disquietudes darted their thorns. at the bottom of his heart. when.

particularly when the accused is a cool hand. A task often tedious to the investigating magistrate. And. We have seen numbers of persons signing appeals for mercy to a condemned malefactor. to discover this weak point. can change the face of a prosecution. Then from the depths of his dungeon he defies the assault of justice. This uncertainty explains the character of passion which is so often perceptible in criminal trials. In short. surrounded by their families. but. an admirable institution which is a guarantee for all. The accusation must then come before the jury. save where a criminal is taken in the very act. and being followed to the grave with lamentations. that after all. An old advocate-general said one day that he knew as many as three assassins. the jury acquit for lack of satisfying evidence. is the arrangement and condensation of this evidence. The weight of responsibility oppresses the man of conscientious scruple. perhaps impenetrable to justice and the police. enough to make one tremble at the responsibility of the magistrate. or confesses his guilt. juries in important trials will become more timid and hesitating. a powerful moderator. How hard is it. and common sense recognises him. condemned for what crime? Parricide! Every juror. Sometimes the judge of inquiry is as anxious as the accused himself. and. and bristling with difficulties. whenever a jury can find a peg to hang a doubt on. And the jury. the jury. thank heaven! do not content themselves with a moral conviction. Placed upon a neutral ground. Already numbers recoil from the idea of capital punishment. It is a terrible struggle. in proportion to the march of civilisation. it demands material and tangible proofs. The deplorable execution of Lesurques has certainly assured impunity to many criminals.supreme tribunal. living rich. with abundant proofs. when he remembers. and thereon establish his client's defence. may be innocent. The strongest probabilities cannot induce them to give an affirmative verdict. then for the judge to resist his moral convictions! Even when presumptive evidence points clearly to the criminal. armed at all points. this man imprisoned. certain of having left no traces of his guilt. weighs infinitely less the evidence he has come to listen to than the risk he runs of incurring the pangs of remorse. and praised for their virtues in their . for lack of what the jury consider sufficient proof of guilt. they will wash their hands of the responsibility of condemnation. justice is at times compelled to acknowledge her defeat. many crimes escape punishment. it is not certain that the minister of justice can secure a conviction. he insinuates in their minds a distrust of the entire evidence. Thus. Nearly all crimes are in some particular point mysterious. from the moment he is sworn. happy. he will allow twenty scoundrels to go unpunished. By pointing out this doubt to the jury. Rather than risk the condemnation of one innocent man. between the prosecution and the defence. unhappily. Where the magistrate would condemn twenty times for one. it is necessary to say it justifies hesitation in receiving circumstantial evidence in capital crimes. in all security of conscience. cleverly exposed. and respected. and frequently the detection of a distorted induction. and make a strong case appear to the jury a weak one. and laughs at the judge of inquiry. and the duty of the advocate is. who would probably end by dying in their beds. without consolation or advice.

epitaphs." he commenced. according to my idea. I would pass my life in pursuit of a criminal. "who would ever let my prey escape. the clumsiness of the police. he will explain everything very quickly. He will declare himself the victim of a misunderstanding. whose motive it would be difficult to understand. old Tabaret's blood fairly boiled in his veins." Assisted by chance. facing his agent before a small table encumbered with papers and documents relating to the crime. "I have not had the leisure to perceive my solitude. "about this affair--" "And I." interrupted old Tabaret. however. with the satisfied vanity of success. he had again succeeded. that he will remain perfectly cool." The old fellow rose and bowed respectfully. for having left you so long alone. as at the recollection of some deadly insult. so obnoxious to the agents of the Rue de Jerusalem. My opinion. so difficult to convince. Once that is accorded him. or the stupidity of the investigating magistrate. . At the idea that a murderer might escape the penalty of his crime. than his manner of conducting himself then. Daburon crossed the room. No crime can be committed. unless. M. "was just asking myself what was likely to be the attitude assumed by the viscount at the moment of his arrest." he muttered. and seated himself." The old fellow spoke of matters of speculation in such a tone of assurance that M. sir." said he. He was so deeply absorbed in his thoughts that he did not hear the door open. Such a monstrous event. he happens to be a madman. in his opinion. and insist upon an immediate interview with the investigating magistrate. and was utterly unconscious of the magistrate's presence. before avowing myself vanquished. M. "By my faith. "You will excuse me. as Gevrol has done so many times. could only proceed from the incapacity of those charged with the preliminary inquiry. "We have not got as far as that yet. "I have reflected a good deal. indeed. of which the author cannot be found. Will he fly into a passion? Will he attempt to intimidate the agents? Will he threaten to turn them out of the house? These are generally the tactics of titled criminals. Daburon's voice aroused him from his reverie. so precise and so cowardly? What could he imagine to force so cunning a culprit to betray himself? What trap could he prepare? To what new and infallible stratagem could he have recourse? The amateur detective exhausted himself in subtle but impracticable combinations. and steal away from the assize court. is. Tabaret. "It is not I. but what proofs could he furnish to the accusation. always stopped by that exacting jury." M." replied he. Nothing is more important. so he kept repeating to himself. Daburon was unable to repress a smile. He appeared very much fatigued. to that confounded jury.

sir?" he asked." said M. The big fishes are dangerous. will not pardon the man guilty of being suspected. "I have no luck. our precipitation would be a terrible misfortune for this young man. Suppose we are mistaken. He would not be withheld by such paltry considerations. Tabaret quickly." He leaned upon the table. and only he. "This is a matter demanding the utmost circumspection. and he acted. aloud." The magistrate trembled. She may perceive her error. "Most decidedly!" replied M. in a few hours. Who else can have committed this assassination? Who but he had an interest in silencing Widow Lerouge. "Our suspicions are well grounded. he will remain de Commarin more than ever. in suppressing her testimony. and appeared to reflect profoundly. at an epoch in our history when all minds are but too much disposed to defy the constituted authorities. some difficulties. to say nothing of the effect it would have in abridging the authority and dignity of justice. leaves an imprint of dishonour that can never be effaced. "But."But we shall. and he prefers to let them swim away. and awaken distrust." . "I have to do with a trembler." thought old Tabaret. Ah! he would very willingly have the little fishes in his net. Tabaret. unhappily. but--" The old man fixed his eyes upon the magistrate with a look of astonishment. warned him. Should we fail to establish his guilt. and my young advocate will be Noel Gerdy to the grave. he propounds theories. and is not equal to the situation. of weakening the respect which constitutes her power. He felt now what a distance lies between a mental decision and the physical action required to execute it. Such a mistake would call for discussion. then. Her hand once unjustly placed upon a man. "You are prompt. Poor Noel! who is as dull as honesty. instead of signing warrants. "You see. and we have but presumptions. he makes speeches." "None." continued the magistrate. "it will suffice to issue a search-warrant. The moment for action had come. He is astounded at my discovery. "you recognize no obstacles. "I presume you will order young M. should they lead us into error. cannot repair her errors. Daburon." said he. Instead of being delighted by my appearance with the news of our success." replied M. and a summons for the appearance of the accused. When he should act. but the big ones frighten him. like the patient who sees the surgeon deposit his case of instruments upon the table on entering the room. one must not strike until the blow is sure. to have been left undisturbed. but in vain! Public opinion. Daburon. absurd and idiotic. and proclaim it aloud. provoke examination. I dare say." "Yes. he would have given a twenty-franc piece. de Commarin's arrest at daybreak. In cases like the present. in destroying her papers? He. having ascertained the criminal. Justice." It was with a sinking heart that the old fellow listened to these remarks. M." "Perhaps.

"It is evident. as unconcerned as if he came to arrange the preliminaries of a duel. and. you alighted at the station at Rueil. but you omitted to provide against two . but M. Daburon showed no sign of being offended. Fall upon him like a thunder-clap. twenty minutes later. at a quarter past nine. In the meantime. you planted the well-sharpened end of a foil between her shoulders. You locked the door." The only answer was an inclination of the head. drag him hither while yet pale with astonishment. Arrived at the Seine. in a tone of encouragement." said he. I overwhelm him at once by the weight of my certainty. it is very well. you slipped away adroitly. 'My good man. you tied up in a napkin all the valuables you could find. and carried them off. You killed her! You then overturned everything in the house. arrest him as he wakes. you bring me an _alibi_. after which. then hurried off to the railway station on foot. an _alibi_ that can not be gainsayed. but I am acquainted with that system of defence. It will not do with me. this is what you did. "Proceed. In short. his little machine will be so cleverly constructed. No. to lead the police to believe the murder was the work of a robber. At twenty minutes past nine. You asked for something to eat." Old Tabaret stopped short. you took the train at the St Lazare station. above all. seeing no chance of escape. He will present you with a magnificent _alibi_. "I am the investigating magistrate. and all the people who never lost sight of you. A most providential accident has placed us upon his track. which M. At twenty minutes past eight. you knocked at the window-shutter of Widow Lerouge's cottage. and."Then all is lost!" cried old Tabaret. all its little wheels will play so well. I do not amuse myself by putting questions to him. he is standing before me. I cause my man to be arrested. at thirty-five minutes past eight. "that our adversary has foreseen everything. so nicely arranged. I know all about the clocks that don't keep proper time." continued the detective. something to drink. Daburon may have intended for a sign of assent. he is saved. If you are satisfied with demanding his appearance. then. even the possibility of suspicion attaching to one in his high position. that he must surrender. "proceed. at nine o'clock. and interrogate him at once. you threw the bundle into the water." continued the old fellow. more or less subtle. frightened at the idea that he had been wanting in respect. that there will be nothing left for you but to open the door and usher him out with the most humble apologies. absolutely everything. pray?" "Because we are opposed by a criminal of marked ability. Oh! his precautions are all taken. he will escape. and burned certain documents of importance." "Suppose. Ah! I wish I were an investigating magistrate. prove to him so clearly that I know everything. and threw away the key. He will show you that he passed the evening and the night of Tuesday with personages of the highest rank. and at eleven o'clock you reappeared amongst your friends. "And why. You were admitted. He will appear before you as tranquilly as your clerk. I go straight to the mark. Your game was well played. I should say to him. and took the road to La Jonchere. The only means of securing conviction is to surprise the miscreant by a rapidity against which it is impossible he can be on his guard. If we give him time to breathe.

"and did not fall at your feet. and I will give you permission to smoke in your dungeon some of those excellent trabucos you are so fond of. of marble. I shall be obliged to change my residence. besides embarrassing yourself with a silk hat and an umbrella. so great was his enthusiasm. Noel Gerdy. "I will manage that your adopted son." "But supposing he were of bronze. my oldest friends will refuse to shake hands with me. "Pshaw!" stammered he. Daburon. Before eight days are past. a thousand thanks! I should like to be permitted to witness the arrest. as if it were not an honour to serve justice. they have got the better of you. Tabaret's face assumed a most comical expression of uneasiness." said he. Between them. "Confound it. when he knows that Tabaret and Tirauclair sleep in the same nightcap. Moreover. Tabaret. I would see. he would fall at my feet and avow his guilt. you were foolish to wear such small boots. and nothing else." He almost wept. Tabaret had gained at least a couple of inches in height. your Benjamin. sir. "The necessity for the examination of those letters. Albert de Commarin shall be arrested." At the name of Gerdy. M. which I wish to employ in interrogating the Count de Commarin. He will despise me: he will fly from me. a detective. "the very thing I most dreaded. and assume a false name. Oh! thanks. and I shall be glad to assist at the perquisitions. "Yes. and carried it to his lips. "I don't know." cried he. so great was his annoyance. named Tirauclair. the young man's father. unless he is made of bronze." The old fellow seized the magistrate's hand in a transport of gratitude. that is settled. after taking breath. and hurriedly wrote a few lines. M. what would you do next?" The question evidently embarrassed the old fellow. The different formalities to be gone through and the perquisitions will occupy some time." said M. "Reassure yourself. The letters he possesses are indispensable to me. "I would say that. but he would confess. or of steel. Noel will discover my interference. unless this man is a hundred times stronger than I suppose him to be. and. and another still more clever. as if expecting a smile of approbation." . Now confess your guilt. I would search.adversaries." continued he. M. Daburon took a pen. shall know nothing." "What?" asked M.'" During this speech. Daburon. "M. and your friend M. named chance. I will lead him to believe I have reached him by means of the widow's papers. "I surrender. the young advocate. for it is the only thing left you to do. and which you always smoke with an amber mouthpiece. Daburon was touched. He looked at the magistrate. and to keep on your lavender kid gloves. M. my dear M. not easily deceived." said he." After a prolonged silence.

his blanched lips. Daburon. I heard of him at a wine shop. I shall go direct from his house to the Palais de Justice. bursting with laughter. Sir. at least offer him a glass of wine. "Here is a note. He bought. Tabaret. which he entered on Sunday morning. According to the almanac the boat must be called the Saint-Martin. "if I would have all my measures well taken. I am in waiting. He waits an answer. Daburon. and the battle is over. I write to the Prefecture at the same time as I write to you. The lamps paled in the gray dawn of the morning. that inquiries may be made at Paris and Rouen." continued M. "I have no time to lose. "Ask the man to have some refreshment. their young master had not been in his ordinary ."I intended to ask you to do so. that you will there await my orders. "Ah!" he cried. Paris was awaking. "to neglect the slightest clue often leads one into error. Who can tell what light we may receive from this mariner?" CHAPTER VIII. "He sharpens his sabre." answered the magistrate. Are you not going to put a stop to his inquiries." The old fellow bowed his thanks and was about to leave. and precisely at the hour that M. and paid for two litres of wine. already the rumbling of vehicles was heard. in fact his whole appearance denoted either overwhelming fatigue or unusual sorrow. On the same day that the crime of La Jonchere was discovered. and proceeded to the Northern railway station. and be there before eight o'clock. during the past five days." He opened the envelope. "Old fool! to forget that to-morrow is the boat's fete day!" and immediately called for three more litres. I have the honour to inform you. before going to Widow Lerouge's cottage. to meet his father. M. when the magistrate's servant appeared. suddenly striking his forehead. then. the Viscount Albert de Commarin entered his carriage. sir. Tabaret made his memorable examination in the victim's chamber. "which a gendarme has just brought from Bougival. certainly not. etc. I have also learned that she was laden with grain. sir?" "No." said he. I must at once see the public prosecutor. He will be found at one of those places." "Very well. All the servants had observed. Daburon. M." answered M. that I am on the track of the man with the earrings. Tabaret. whether he is up or not. The young man was very pale: his pinched features. "a letter from Gevrol.'" "Poor Gevrol!" cried old Tabaret. his dull eyes. that. and I desire." replied M. he cried. sir." and he read: "'To the investigating magistrate.

Imbued quite as deeply with aristocratic prejudice as the Marchioness d'Arlange. and carried his head high. had. and possessed enlarged views of life and politics. and intractable.condition: he any visitors. Soon the doors leading on to the platform were opened. all expressing easy. even to the handsome. and without a shade of common sense. He had announced his intended arrival by telegraph. the count had kept eyes and ears open and had seen and heard a good deal. who had been him for three hours in the library. de Commarin knew how to divest himself of his crushing urbanity in the company of his equals. with its prestige and influence. were scarcely gray. therefore the house was expected to be in perfect readiness to receive him. smiling mouth. and. careless good nature. He was witty and sensible. he held in contempt all who were not noble. The throng beginning to thin a little. There he recovered his true character. in less than a minute. twenty-four hours in advance. She dreamed of the return of the absurd traditions of a former age. Perceiving his father. all their lost power. his movements easy. who carried a travelling pelisse lined with rare and valuable fur. The viscount had been but five minutes in the waiting-room. Albert advanced towards him. His appearance was noble. of a certain M. But the Count de Commarin was exacting on the score of filial duty. They shook hands and embraced with an air as noble as ceremonious. His beard and hair. and call in the doctor. It should be added. In a word. He was tall and muscular. from the moment of his departure. self-sufficient. enduring contradiction pretty much as a wild horse the application of the spur. the viscount appeared to suffer so acutely that M. The Viscount. suggesting that it would be more prudent to retire to his room. the count appeared. His regular features presented a study to the physiognomist. de Commarin perceive the alteration in his son's face. the count was the flattered portrait of his class. yet abundant. ate almost nothing. haughty. This contrast revealed the secret of his character. and would overlook the worst of youthful indiscretions sooner than what he termed a want of reverence. . held himself upright. had exchanged all the news that had transpired during the count's absence. Lubin. The marchioness proclaimed her contempt loudly and coarsely. and refused to see His valet noticed that this singular change dated from Sunday morning. the visit. He was sincerely persuaded that the nobles of France would yet recover slowly and silently. The Count de Commarin looked a good ten years less than his age. She was stupid. he had progressed with his century or at least appeared to have done so. that M. but surely. Noel Gerdy. the marchioness its caricature. when the bell announced the arrival of the train. and the travelers crowded in. In his own house. When setting forth to meet his father. Then only did M. he was a despot. but his disdain expressed itself in a different fashion. gay as a lark until the arrival of this person. the appearance of a man at the point of death. on closeted with spoke but little. his valet. he hoped for things within the power of events to bring forth. followed by a servant. but in his eyes flashed the fiercest and the most arrogant pride. and the absence of Albert at the railway station would have been resented as a flagrant omission of duty. As fully as the marchioness. entreated him not to go out.

He has cut down the timber. all this for the purpose.' was not a fool. "I have quarrelled with the Duke de Sairmeuse. in a state of inconceivable exasperation. "Certainly it was! Do you not think it a sufficient one?" "But. but some detestable broth. and always will be. expressed perfect incredulity. viscount. one of the finest in the north of France. he gave him some orders briefly.--rags. "I maintain the word. especially on the side of those who hold the soil. Sairmeuse has sold his estate of Gondresy. The Minister of July. his journey to Austria had not brought the results he had hoped for. which. viscount. The men of '93 well understood this principle. But they have not the sense to understand it. The count uttered "Ah!" accompanied by a certain movement of the head. "True. they destroyed their prestige more effectually than by abolishing their titles. The count was hardly seated in his carriage before he entered upon the subject of this disagreement. it is true. de Commarin had returned to Paris in a very bad temper. "Oh. of raising money to increase his income!" "And was that the cause of your rupture?" inquired Albert. 'Make yourselves rich. which is to be converted into a sugar refinery. deprecatingly. The peasant is not so foolish. and acted upon it."You are unwell. They launch into speculations. sir." said Albert." answered Albert. To crown his dissatisfaction. without intending any raillery. and is far from rich. having had nothing to-day. "Now. then. with him. From the moment he owns a piece of ground the size of a handkerchief. which pays eight or ten per cent. bonds." resumed he. He is slow as the oxen he ploughs with. and become rich. at I know not what way station. They want to go too fast. They prefer to invest in merchandise. on his homeward way. on the side of wealth. in short. you know the duke has a large family. Remember well. By impoverishing the nobles." answered Albert. A prince dismounted. a princely dwelling. who said to the people. "That seems to me to happen whenever you meet. I passed four days at his country-seat. "let us go quickly to the house. power has been. laconically." said the count: "but this is serious. sir. no. he wants to make it as large as a tablecloth. He has entirely forfeited my esteem. and without footmen. turning to his servant." said he to his son. "I said treason!" continued the count. It is smoke they are locking in their coffers. I am in haste to feel at home." "What of that? A French noble who sells his land commits an unworthy act. paper." said he. as he says. he had rested. but in what? Stocks. and put up to auction the old chateau. sir. to investing in vines or corn which will return but three." M. at the chateau of an old friend. is no more than any one else. without much surprise. and I am hungry. He gave them the magic formula for power. with whom he had had so violent a discussion that they had parted without shaking hands. He is guilty of treason against his order!" "Oh. but as .

"You do not understand? Why. is worth to-day more than a million: so that. So perfect was the organisation of this household. and their escutcheons. The number of his domestics caused him neither inconvenience nor embarrassment. stood in a line. that the peasant. the glory of coachmen who preserve the old tradition. they ought to have retreated to their provinces. and the occupations. As the count was known to have passed the day on the road. To become landholders. . above the reception rooms. the peasant starves himself." The carriage at this moment stopped in the court-yard of the de Commarin mansion. dressed in rich liveries.--without noise. and the imbeciles who laugh at him will be astonished by and by when he makes his '93.--the real standard of wealth. but anticipate them. Soon they will be reduced to beggary. the sleeping hotel was awakened as if by the spell of an enchanter. denied themselves. shut themselves up in their chateaux. and proceeded to his apartment on the first floor. and the peasant becomes a baron in power if not in name. All the establishment. as an officer might his soldiers on parade. Instead of grumbling uselessly during the half-century. wears sabots in winter. represented the spirit of the first article of the rules of the house. that its functions were performed like those of a machine. What consoles me is. and changed his dress. He possessed in a high degree the art. but the land always remains. pressing firmly against the yoke. de Commarin had hardly removed the traces of his journey. economised." said the viscount. in the ridiculous attempt to support an appearance of grandeur. fortunes be won or lost on 'change. be it so: agriculture remains. in passing. and nothing can stop or turn him aside. when his butler announced that the dinner was served. Each servant was at his post. and will yoke to his chariot wheels these traders in scrip and stocks." M. having become the proprietor of our domains will then be all-powerful. for the value of land rises year after year. Thus when the count returned from his journey. resumed without confusion. and as obstinate. They were necessary to him. their duty was to reconstruct their fortunes. what the peasant is doing is what the nobles ought to have done! Ruined. of commanding an army of servants.patient. doubled my fortune in thirty years. or effort. nearly all the servants. They sell their land to the peasants. He knows that stocks may rise or fall. after having described that perfect half-circle. without effort. as tenacious. In the immense vestibule. variation. Blauville. there worked. Never was there a better regulated household than that of the Count de Commarin. ascended the steps of the grand entrance. instead of running themselves into debt. Commerce is interdicted to us. when I hear the nobles complain. as the peasant is doing. even to the lowest scullion." "I do not understand the application. The count gave them a glance. I have. and leaning upon his son's arm. interrupted during the past six weeks. the dinner was served in advance of the usual hour. more rare than is generally supposed. "Servants are not to execute orders. purchased the land piece by piece. Had they taken this course. The count alighted first. I shrug the shoulder. they would to-day possess France. which cost my father a hundred crowns in 1817. He goes directly to his object. Their wealth would be enormous. Who but they are to blame? They impoverish themselves from year to year. whom he hates as much as I execrate them myself.

He was partial. but was vain of his enormous appetite. Louis XIV. moreover. without seeming to see that a great many of their foibles which he ridiculed were also a little his own." "He writes a great deal. and remained silent. whose power of giving light is in proportion to the oil they consume." said he. A letter which had been delivered to him on his arrival. but merely sat at the table as if to countenance him.He went down at once. and he mentions a dozen names of men of his own stamp who are his associates. the count and his son both remained silent." continued he. establishing the right of primogeniture. In short. and the servants left the room." "You think not? Would you then oppose such a measure." observed Albert. noted for their capacity of stomach. "I arrived home but an hour ago. he consumes himself in ink. to an after dinner argument. M. This was a large apartment. only they want a lever and something to rest it on. "No. devoured mountains of viands. not perceiving or not caring to notice that Albert ate nothing. The count was not only a great eater. swallowed at each repast as much as six ordinary men would eat at a meal. On my word of honour. de Commarin ate conscientiously. During the first half hour. and of which he drank freely. Charles V. "I see but one hope for the French aristocracy. as were all the rooms of the ground floor. of premature declarations of failure. one good little law. He mentions a lot more of his ridiculous projects and vain hopes. He was fond of recalling the names of great men. The old nobleman's ill-humour and volubility returned with the dessert. professing a theory that moderate discussion is a perfect digestive. and father and son met upon the threshold of the dining-room." continued he more seriously. It makes me die with laughter!" For ten minutes the count continued to discharge a volley of abuse and sarcasm against his best friends. gave him at once a subject and a point of departure. and which he had found time to glance over. if they showed the least audacity! But no! they count upon others to do for them what they ought to do for themselves. he compared them to lamps. . "If." The coffee having been served. the count made a sign." "You will never obtain it. they seem to have lost their senses! They talk of lifting the world. but one plank of salvation.--"if they only possessed a little confidence in themselves. "Too much. with a very high ceiling. their proceedings are a series of confessions of helplessness. apparently increased by a Burgundy of which he was particularly fond. viscount?" Albert knew by experience what dangerous ground his father was approaching. and was most magnificently furnished. "and I have already received a homily from Broisfresnay. He pretended that one can almost judge of men's qualities by their digestive capacities.

sir. and they will be hardly rich. He therefore directed his utmost efforts to excite his son to argue." objected the viscount. but remember my prediction: you will strike a fatal blow at our house. and families. he burst forth: "Upon my word." "Whom I should never love!" "And what of that? She would have brought you four millions in her apron. Let all the younger sons and the daughters of our great families forego their rights. on receiving a laconic reply. "if I resemble one of the people. your father. "Then let the nobles do their duty. and very attractive. that I dream of the impossible!" resumed the count."Let us put it. by giving up the entire patrimony to the first-born for five generations. have conjured you to give up all idea of marrying the granddaughter of that old fool. there are perhaps good reasons for it. However he was vainly prodigal of words. "Well. You talk of your life's happiness." . but his thoughts were far away." interrupted the count. You will be one of the largest proprietors in France. And all to no purpose. and unsparing in unpleasant allusions. become united by one common desire. This absence of opposition was more irritating to the count than the most obstinate contradiction. the butler's son would say the same as you! What blood have you in your veins? You are more like one of the people than a Viscount de Commarin!" There are certain conditions of mind in which the least conversation jars upon the nerves. for I have at last been obliged to yield to your wishes. Besides which she had great expectations." "Without doubt: it is the only means of pointing out the danger. sir. "the time is not favorable to such devotedness." replied the count quickly. "and in my own house I have the proof of it. What is that? A true noble thinks of his name above all. but have half a dozen children. instead of being divided by a variety of interests." "Unfortunately. you will probably see your grandchildren in poverty!" "You put all at the worst. The patience with which he had armed himself at last escaped him. During the last hour. Mademoiselle d'Arlange is very pretty." The discussion upon this subject would have been interminable. He answered from time to time so as not to appear absolutely dumb." he answered. but she is penniless. contenting themselves each with a couple of thousand francs a year. the Marchioness d'Arlange. so that at last he fairly lost his temper. I had found an heiress for you. had Albert taken an active share in it. By that means great fortunes can be reconstructed. "You have my word.--more than the kings of to-day give their daughters. "It is well. father." "Father--" Albert commenced. I. Albert had suffered an intolerable punishment. and." "I know it. then. and averting the evil. If they also have as many. and then only a few syllables.

Will you follow me to my room?" He rang the bell." There was a long silence. "I have to acquaint you with some important matters. the honour of our house. "Believe me. I have read all your correspondence with Madame Gerdy. The count. and was terrified at himself for having divined it. yours. father and son avoided letting their eyes meet. as though stung by a serpent. are involved. he hesitated how to commence. I will do so. With one accord. My honour." said he sternly. not desiring to trouble you on the evening of your return. "our honour is involved." The count listened with ill-concealed anxiety. "during your absence. "Neither the viscount nor I am at home to any one. on seeing your pale face at the railway station. He seemed to have divined what his son was about to say. "whatever may have been your acts." he replied with some embarrassment. sir. my voice will never be raised to reproach you. "no matter whom. emphasising the word. "Sir. but he had gone too far to stop. and resumed in a tone which he strove to render light and rallying: "Who will hereafter refuse to believe in presentiments? A couple of hours ago. for he quietly raised his chair. sir." continued the count. I was sure of it. started up with such violence that he overturned his chair. I felt that you had learned more or less of this affair. "Sir. de Commarin held up his hand. de Commarin. All his animation forsook him. lest they might encounter glances too eloquent to bear at so painful a moment." CHAPTER IX. I intended postponing this conversation till to-morrow. irritated much more than . "I forbid you to speak!" But he no doubt soon felt ashamed of his violence." said M. and a footman appeared almost immediately. "A truce to preambles. viscount?" Albert had no sooner uttered the sentence than he regretted his precipitation. Your constant kindness to me--" M. as you wish me to explain." said he at length. However. he asked: "What is that you say.The glance with which the viscount accompanied his speech was so expressive that the count experienced a sudden shock. and in a hesitating voice. "You were right. already so significant. The revelation which had just taken place." continued Albert slowly. "Not another word!" cried he in a terrible voice. It is important that we should decide on our future conduct without delay. All!" added he. Albert was some time without answering. let me have the facts without phrases.

a statesman. the count had put an end to the connection which had given him so much happiness he thought of obtaining possession of this unhappy correspondence. He knew that there can be no secret so carefully guarded that it may not by some chance escape. he would have repelled it as an insult to the character of his angel. knowing all the while that it ought never to have been written. He had not forgotten that he had been imprudent enough to trust it to paper. he had never passed a day without cursing his inexcusable folly. And now that thread had broken. that he did not wish to see this woman. and finally he began to say and believe that it was too late. He abstained. "I will go to her.it surprised the Count de Commarin. What reason could he have had to suspect her discretion? None. when considering the possibility of such a catastrophe. Was it not her son who had received the benefits of the deed. with innumerable chimerical projects. who had usurped another's name and fortune? When eight years after. a prudent diplomat. even the slightest. resist the tearful pleading of those eyes. full of precaution. which sooner or later might be used against him? Such imprudence could only have arisen from an absurd passion. Could he. just beneath the large frame in which the genealogical tree . three of whom were still living. from all action. believing her to be unfaithful. he had been constantly expecting to see the truth brought to light. had been so foolish? How was it that he had allowed this fatal correspondence to remain in existence! Why had he not destroyed. which had so long held complete sway over him? To look again upon this mistress of his youth would. at no matter what cost. The principal one was. like all men of imagination. while his father sat in his great armorial chair. once so dearly loved. suspended by a thread. Albert stood respectfully. these overwhelming proofs. without yielding. then. For twenty years. If the idea had occurred to him. Never had he been able to forget that above his head a danger more terrible than the sword of Damocles hung. which the slightest accident might break. So long as he was Valerie's lover. he feared. And for now more than twenty years. to obtain the letters though a third party was entirely out of the question. he had asked himself how he should avert it? He had formed and rejected many plans: he had deluded himself. Often. of what had taken place. But he knew not how to do so. A thousand reasons prevented his moving in the matter. "but not until I have so torn her from my heart that she will have become indifferent to me. He would have been much more likely to have supposed her desirous of removing every trace." said he to himself. even to madness. postponing it indefinitely. and now he found himself quite unprepared. He did not feel sufficiently sure either of his anger or of his firmness. blind and insensible." So months and years passed on. result in his forgiving her. the count never thought of asking the return of his letters from his beloved accomplice. On the other hand. and his had been known to four people. I will not gratify her with the sight of my grief. How was it that he. and he had been too cruelly wounded in his pride and in his affection to admit the idea of a reconciliation.

obliged to blush before his son. recalling the position Noel had occupied against the mantelpiece. alas! am only your natural son. lasted but an .of the illustrious family of Rheteau de Commarin spread its luxuriant branches. and prepare for the present struggle.--but because I judged an indispensable. I beseech you. presenting me with a packet of letters. stating that he had business with me of the utmost importance." he began in a firm voice. and try to be calm. your mother." replied the count violently. and the manner in which he stood." Albert had foreseen. And. for there was a fire. I therefore took the letters. and a self-reliance full of contempt. but. but it crushed him nevertheless. "on Sunday morning. for you have read what I wrote to Madame Gerdy. I was about to answer him very sharply. without losing himself in those details which in serious matters needlessly defer the real point at issue. de Commarin. There are misfortunes so great. to the young man. He seemed neither irritated nor dejected. sir. This flinching. "you should have thrown them into the fire. however. not to think was no need of that. it was impracticable. I need say nothing to you of the position of a father.--"Even if the thought had occurred to me. for the legitimate child borne you by Madame de Commarin." "Ah!" cried M. sir. Now. substituted through your affection." "And then?" "And then. "Now viscount. and over it myself--there interview with you tell me whether this "Certainly it did. he added. that one must constantly think of them to believe in their existence." he replied. "No. Tell me. had expected this reply. at the first glance. and read them. The old gentleman completely concealed the cruel apprehensions which oppressed him. He then revealed to me that I. how did you obtain your knowledge of this correspondence?" Albert had had time to recover himself. I returned the correspondence asked for a delay of eight days. a young man called here. and will feel for me. certainly. "explain yourself. Besides. reproachfully. I suppose? You held them in your hands. he begged me to read them before replying. Let us spare each other. of course. "yes. you understand it. You know that it did. He expressed himself clearly and forcibly. and they still exist! Why was I not there?" "Sir!" said Albert." "And did you not have this man kicked out of doors?" exclaimed the count. therefore. I recognised your handwriting. I received him. substitution really did take place. "Sir. as he had impatiently waited four days for this interview. but his eyes expressed a haughtiness more than usually disdainful. The difficulty he experienced in uttering the first words had now given place to a dignified and proud demeanor.

All the letters that I read spoke distinctly of your purpose. and he could remember. triumphant or defeated. "I was almost convinced. his heart retained only happy memories. and he had changed them to certainty. then. and with an attention that you may well understand. those I wrote after the substitution. that. since leaving her. without his having again seen her. but did he not owe to her the only years of happiness he had ever known? Had she not formed all the poetry of his youth? Had he experienced." The count gazed at his son with a look of intense surprise." he said. but not one pointed to. "Valerie has destroyed the most conclusive letters. sir. Albert watched him with anxious curiosity. He sighed deeply. he had over and over again rejoiced at their success. sir. he started painfully. de Commarin was not the man to yield long to sentiment. This was the first time since the viscount had grown to man's estate that he had surprised in his father's countenance other emotion than ambition or pride. The last letter shown me simply announced to Madame Gerdy the arrival of Claudine Lerouge. His heart. Three or four times his eyelids trembled." "These proofs amount to nothing. at this moment he pardoned her. and at the last moment abandon it. the old nobleman was at that moment deciding what he should do. Albert had had only serious suspicions. the nurse who was charged with accomplishing the substitution. the execution of your project. de Commarin aloud. compromising enough in themselves? and why. cherish it for a long time. one single hour of joy or forgetfulness? In his present frame of mind. But M. I know nothing beyond that. "Pardon me. after having preserved them. True." He reproached himself for having answered so hastily." he said to himself. He had cursed her. What would it be? No doubt. viscount. He recollected distinctly all the letters. "A man may form a plan. What stupidity! "There can be no possible doubt. "Poor woman!" he murmured. still suffered. like a vase which. retains the odour until it is destroyed. those which appeared to her the most dangerous." muttered the count. thanking her for having acted in accordance with his wishes.instant." he replied. as if a tear were about to fall. . or in any way confirmed. Albert awaited a word from the count. after more than twenty years of voluntary separation. it often happens so. has she let them go out of her possession?" Without moving. in writing to Valerie. And at the thought that Valerie was dead. But why has she preserved these others. "you did not read them all?" "Every line. detailed your plan minutely. so deeply rooted was this first love of his youth. but I had not received a formal assurance of it. "You did not go to the end of them. she had deceived him. once filled with precious perfumes. "Perhaps she is dead!" said M.

" began Albert. Let us unite our efforts to shun." said the count in a low tone." exclaimed the count. I confess it. Confide in me. your senseless yielding would . for twenty years I have cursed the wickedness of which he is the victim. and Viscount de Commarin you shall remain. He remained for some time deep in thought. I have lamented my true son. viscount. in spite of yourself. sir. He only told me that he came unknown to her. not wishing. "Come. There was more for him to learn. "who sent you that messenger of misfortune. that he had accidentally discovered the secret which he revealed to me. sir. if necessary. I ought to give way without a murmur. sir. whatever happens. that hesitation is impossible." he said. father. M. a wicked robbery. and to hide the sorrow and remorse which have covered my pillow with thorns." At this most praiseworthy reply. because it is my will." "Yes."You have not told me. sir. if not without regret. "Do I not know all your objections beforehand? You are going to tell me that it is a revolting injustice." And then. In a single instant. sir. His face grew purple." M. I am ready to yield to him everything that I have so long kept from him without a suspicion of the truth--his father's love. The decisive moment had come. "Noel. sir. he added: "Did he speak to you of his--of your mother?" "Scarcely. I promise you. understand. with evident hesitation. No. or at least to mine. usually so guarded." "But. and he saw but one way to escape." he said. The young man was no other than he whose place I have occupied. I swear it. Do you think that I now for the first time repent of my youthful folly? For twenty years. You shall retain the title to your death. his fortune and his name. sir." "He came in person. the old nobleman could scarcely preserve the calmness he had recommended to his son in the earlier part of the interview.--your legitimate son. in a tone so affectionate that Albert was astonished. timidly. "You are very daring to interrupt me while I am speaking. viscount. so decorous on all occasions. that is his name. He. is very plain. this great misfortune. for never. and grieve over it more than you possibly can. Before your legitimate son. and he struck the table with his fist more furiously than he had ever done in his life. while I live. sit down here by me. shall your absurd idea be carried out. that this dream of yours shall never take place. "And I tell you. Have you thought of what is to be done? have you formed any determination?" "It seems to me. "do not stand. I remember. uttered a volley of oaths that would not have done discredit to an old cavalry officer. that things shall remain as they are. And yet I learnt how to keep silence. de Commarin asked nothing further. You are Viscount de Commarin. if possible. Noel Gerdy himself. he told me to mix any others up in this sad affair. that it sha'n't. as a son should in his father. Let him come." "In what way?" "My duty. and let us discuss this matter.

one must retain that name through life. it pleased you. The same moral does not do for everyone." "Ah. sir. I have sacrificed myself to the great name I bear.render my long sufferings of no avail. if you will. Can you not foresee the joy of our enemies. but you must forget it. as I have borne it. "is it then I. the dispossessor. you must bear the burden. on the contrary. 'Excuse me." continued the count. Durand. and present this Noel as my son. The count saw that he was not shaken." Albert's impassibility contributed not a little to increase M. saying. Children. de Commarin remained silent for several minutes. then. this one is the viscount?' And then the tribunals will get hold of it. but there has been a slight mistake. "There is no possible way out of it. I will have none on mine." "Indeed!" interrupted the count contemptuously. "What have you to reply?" he asked. "It seems to me sir. Think of the scandal. Too many families already have stains upon their escutcheons. raise your head to meet it. de Commarin's irritation. "your conscience revolts. however much you may suffer. willing or unwilling." he continued. "Can I discard you to-morrow. when I would have given half of my fortune simply to embrace that child of a wife too tardily appreciated. does it? It has chosen its time badly. I received it from my ancestors without a stain. Firm in an unchangeable resolution. during which Albert did not dare say a word. errors are irreparable. who has made this trouble? is it not. that you have no idea of all the dangers which I foresee. And. the viscount listened like one fulfilling a duty: and his face reflected no emotion. No. you must be my accomplice. of that herd of upstarts which surrounds us? I shudder at the thought of the odium and the ridicule which would cling to our name. and they should obey them. What does it matter who is named Benoit. "that I have never wept over the thought of my legitimate son passing his life struggling for a competence? Do you think that I have never felt a burning desire to repair the wrong done him? There have been times. even but for a single day. So long as you saw that your inheritance consisted of an illustrious title and a dozen or so of millions. It is difficult to master the revolts of conscience. In our position. and show yourself worthy of the name you bear. because we have not the same duties to perform. The fear of casting a shadow of suspicion upon your birth prevented me. the dispossessed! It is not I . if our secret should be disclosed to the public gaze. a crime." M. when one is called Commarin. generous and noble. Your scruples come too late. are accountable to their fathers. be assured your sufferings can never approach what I have endured for so many years. sir!" cried Albert. so much had he been accustomed since infancy to respect the least wish of the terrible old gentleman. and your conscience revolts. sir. May you hand it down to your children equally spotless! Your first impulse was a worthy one. Willing or unwilling. or Bernard? But. I will never permit it!" The count read a reply on his son's lips: he stopped him with a withering glance. Take courage. "Do you think. To-day the name appears to you laden with a heavy fault. The storm is upon you. Renounce this folly.

to a paid silence. that she takes an interest in his happiness. Is there not now the accumulated rancour of years to urge him to oppose you? He cannot help feeling a fierce resentment for the horrible injustice of which he has been the victim. Besides. "Your legitimate son. A certain sum may close her mouth. Do you then. do you hope to move him by the considerations you have just mentioned?" "I do not fear him. under oath." "I will frighten her. so easily silenced? And." "That is true. I will speak to her. viscount?" "Yourself. imagine that M." "And you would trust. if he should raise his voice." "Oh. father. He will then call Madame Gerdy. He must passionately long for vengeance. what answer would you make?" M. it is M." continued the young man. Suppose you were summoned before a tribunal. sir. he will find them. a larger will open it. he whose honour was usually so great." he said at last. and that there. you will betray us. "I never will believe it. The day when he wishes it. "will she be silent." "Noel!" repeated the count." he said. sir. that she loves him. and yet they convinced me. I will answer for her!" cried the count." "Who? Yourself. You act as if the issue of this unhappy affair depended solely upon my will. sir." "He has no proofs. "I would save the name of my ancestors. But let us suppose even that. Noel Gerdy. that Claudine Lerouge was Noel Gerdy's nurse. Suppose for a moment that this young man has a soul sufficiently noble to relinquish his claim upon your rank and your fortune. Yes. He hesitated. yes. sir." "Then you are wrong. "At the price of a lie." he added with an effort. Gerdy will be so easily disposed of. yes. or rather reparation." "He has your letters. "I will call on her." "And Claudine. you should be required to speak the truth." "You forget. permit me to tell you. my father." "They are not decisive. if he needs witnesses. How do you .who you have to convince. Albert shook his head doubtfully. as if one could ever be sure of a purchased conscience? What is sold to you may be sold to another. "her interests are the same as ours. and I will guarantee that she will not betray us. father. I will see her. sir. If necessary. you yourself have told me so. too?" "For money. de Commarin's face darkened at this very natural supposition. and I will give her whatever she asks. who have an interest in not being convinced.

as if wishing hard was all that was necessary to change their dreams into realities." . and who expect them to succeed on all occasions. we shall lose. the publicity of this sad history. This might be borne. We can make the change very quietly. he is your son. Albert this time broke the silence. We may be able to purchase these letters. when you speak in that way. Then think of the exposure! think of the dishonour branded upon us by public opinion. "that you fear. He did not remember to have met during his long career an invincible resistance or an absolute impediment.--half of all I possess. the scandal will be terrible." "I think. will appear in all the papers of the world. "I see. I remember. "we might compromise. if we were sure of succeeding. All parties being agreeable. he sees her often. "that you can have neither respect nor affection for me. he was deep in thought. But. What is to prevent the new Viscount de Commarin from quitting Paris. however the trial results. three.know that he has not already secured her aid? She lives at Bougival." concluded Albert. all will be forgotten. "But instead of contesting. The newspapers will print the facts. through a mistake of the nurse. you see. Noel Gerdy is your legitimate son." The obstinate old gentleman was not willing to give in to this argument." he cried. accompanied by heavens knows what comments of their own. as though he were sure of her testimony. To acknowledge that he was conquered humiliated him. "why is not Claudine dead instead of my faithful Germain?" "You see. there can be no trouble about it. and no one will remember me. the possible scandal renders you desperate. M. He almost proposed my going to her for information. acknowledge his just pretensions. with you. sir. to point out to you the evils I see threatening." he said. much money--" "Spare him. unless we yield." said the count. There will be a trial which will be the talk of all Europe. if need be. He was like all men of imagination. for instance. Claudine Lerouge." "Ah. and receive him. I will give him a million. What does this young fellow want? A position and a fortune? I will give him both. which threatened to be prolonged. viscount. de Commarin was not listening. but we are bound to lose. With money. No doubt. I went there. "I shall find some expedient. He spoke to me of her. perhaps it is she who put him on the track of this correspondence. above all things. sir. recognize him." "Alas!" cried the count. and seemed to him unworthy of himself. I will make him as rich as he can wish. and which there is yet time to shun. sir. The pride of his blood paralyzed his usual practical good sense. the very clearness of which blinded him." "It is my duty. sir. and disappearing for a time? He might travel about Europe for four or five years. It is easy to account for it. no!" cried the count. my father. two. who fall in love with their projects. Our name." M. by the end of that time. "Claudine Lerouge would alone render all your efforts useless.

but still remained firm. Your name does not belong to me. he will not stop short of utter defeat or complete triumph. Do not delude yourself with the idea of an amicable arrangement. sir." "What!" cried the count. if I did not spare your old age this greatest of calamities. I have seen M. "you will abandon me? You refuse to help me. have you learned economy from the four thousand francs a month I allow you for waxing your moustache? Perhaps you have made money on the Bourse! Then my name must have seemed very burdensome to . my father. "You will perhaps think it unkind in me. he will understand. after the fashion of Plutarch's time! So you give up my name and my fortune. Permit me to withdraw with at least the honour of having freely done my duty. "you are great. I can still hear his voice trembling with resentment. He would buy back again his lost rest. and I cannot say that he is wrong. viscount. A crowd of arguments occurred to his mind in support of it. Gerdy. when he found he could do nothing by abuse. I will prove to him the bad policy of the earthen pot struggling with the iron kettle." he continued. "My resolution is irrevocably taken. and you leave me. How do you expect to live. the awakening will only be the more painful. worthy M. that. but I must. You will shake the dust from your shoes upon the threshold of my house. stunned. he will cling to you with stubborn animosity. my dear M. If there is an energetic will in the world. But Albert did not seem to share his father's hopes. ungrateful boy!" cried M. while he spoke to me. I see only one difficulty in your way. like yours. de Commarin. shows an iron resolution. the old nobleman was astounded at this unexpected obstinacy. Gerdy." he replied. He is truly your son." "Cruel. he will never accept a compromise. and he is not one. His wrath was such. to be intimidated. you turn against me. "But no. I should utterly despise myself. like Jean Jacques Rousseau's Emile? Or. No. sadly. It could not fail to result favorably. Do not force me to wait till I am driven out in disgrace. I will take my own. I assure you. "It is this. if he is not a fool. He was much moved. you are generous."Unfortunately! and I wish him to the devil! I will see him. He will have all or nothing. my stoic philosopher? Have you a trade at your fingers' ends. I can still see the dark fire of his eyes. Strong in his rights. that may be broken but never bent. and you will go out into the world. sir. "I can never consent to despoil your son. and his expression. "to dispel this last illusion of yours. I am your natural son. and." Accustomed to absolute obedience from his son. If you resist. Gerdy. he will attack you without the slightest consideration. "What is your object in saying all this?" he asked. He was delighted with this brilliant plan of negotiation." The count rubbed his hands while speaking. he passed at once to jeering. you recognize the rights of this man in spite of my wishes?" Albert bowed his head. He will drag you from court to court. you are noble. I will give up my place to your legitimate son." said he. I should say. and he will agree to what I wish. you are acting after the most approved pattern of chivalry. it is his.

you to bear. she has sworn to be my wife. "you are really superb! One never heard of such a hero of romance. Left to myself." The calm manner in which Albert said this enraged the count." The count shrugged his shoulders. I have counted upon your kindness. so great an attraction for you that your carriage so quickly? Say." "Therefore it is understood you intend to relinquish everything. however. It is late for me to try and make one now. if not happily." "No. as regards the future. The marchioness is sufficiently infected with aristocratic ideas to prefer a nobleman's bastard to the son of some honest tradesman. sir. then. and that you are anxious to go your equals. Gerdy?" "We hope so. on the interest of that sum. and observed: "The compensation is very slight. "Never! What blood have you then in your veins. to feel sure that you will not do so." replied Albert to this avalanche of insults. You are so rich." "And do you think that Madame d'Arlange will give her granddaughter to M. though without desiring it. You must have some reason for acting so grandly. whose fault is it? But let us get back to my question. sir. sir? Your worthy mother alone might tell us. and." "None but what I have already told you." "Superb!" interrupted the count. I must confess that. You are too just to wish that I alone should expiate wrongs that are not of my making. sir. What a character! But tell me. that the embarrasses you. mankind is not in the habit of indulging in such fine actions for its pleasure alone. "Can this be my son?" he cried. you will even abandon your proposed union with Mademoiselle Claire d'Arlange? You forget that for two years I have in vain constantly expressed my disappointment of this marriage. that five hundred thousand francs would not materially affect your fortune. And you expect me to believe all this! No." into such a place! Has you must jump from company of my friends where you will be among "I am very wretched. sir. sir. I have seen Mademoiselle Claire. sir. but should she refuse. How and on what will you live?" "I am not so romantic as you are pleased to say. "and you would crush me!" "You wretched! Well. since you so eagerly introduced it dirt. we would await her death." "And suppose I refuse you this money?" "I know you well enough. I have explained my unhappy position to her. I could live quietly. . Whatever happens. provided. what do you expect from all this astonishing disinterestedness?" "Nothing. looked sarcastically at his son. rather. but I will do my best. I should at my present age have achieved a position. sir. some reason which I fail to see.

and that is sufficient. I will not permit it. The old fellow has been in a dreadful passion. he added. sir. de Commarin resumed his seat." It was a happy moment for these two men. "come here and listen to me. The servants whom he met noticed it the more. bore traces of the violent emotions he had felt during the interview. and moved towards the young man as if he would strike him. "Leave the room. What. He had already opened it. what will become of me? And what will the other one be like?" Albert's features. when he left the count's study. so frequent in violent natures. and I will suffer it least of all from you. You are worthy of being the heir of a great house. To-morrow I will let you know my decision. but without lowering his eyes and walked slowly to the door. and take care not to leave them without my orders. without either being able to utter a word. Give me your hand. "the count has had another unhappy scene with his son." The count made great efforts to keep his anger within bounds. he threatened him! The old fellow jumped from his chair. but I can never lose my esteem for you. "leave the room instantly! Retire to your apartments. At last. de Commarin experienced one of those revulsions of feeling. The count felt proud of his son. "until I have told you what I think. to try and accustom myself to this terrible blow." cried Albert menacingly. "I must ask you to leave me. he dared to brave him to his face." Albert bowed respectfully. "If he. much affected by this change. You are a noble man. but he rolled his eyes fiercely. I may be angry with you. I am her son." spoke up a valet de chambre: "the count restrained himself enough not to burst out before me. in a voice choking with rage." The young man turned back. For a long time their hands remained clasped." said an old footman who had been in the family thirty years. "I must be alone to reflect. his son rebelled. "think well before you speak! She is my mother. as they had heard something of the quarrel." he cried." "What can be the matter?" . but Albert's behavior thoroughly enraged him. and recognised in him himself at that age. M. deserts me." he said kindly. and such a one as they had scarcely ever experienced in their lives. sir. Albert." "Sir. "Do not go. as the young man closed the door.she herself knows. "Albert." said he. when M. not her judge." continued the count. Albert. in whom I have placed all my hope." And. as if giving vent to his inmost thoughts. No one shall insult her in my presence." "I got wind of it at dinner. "Well. restrained as they had been by cold etiquette.

"Pshaw! that's more than they know themselves. he was lavish with his money. "you are a fool. He was one who made it a point never to be in good humor. and who comes here occasionally. and put him to bed. before whom they always speak freely. The Viscount de Commarin was not one of those who possess the rather questionable and at times unenviable accomplishment of pleasing every one. we often see men of success and reputation. But he was a ruffian." said the footman pointedly. Denis." "But the marquis is not rich." "That was according to circumstances. he went in and out when he pleased. as far as money is concerned. when he was drunk. I must say that he is better than the majority. because you never expect five sous from him. Every day there is some new story about his son. and didn't spare the blows. "if I were in the viscount's place. he passed his nights in gaming and drinking. Then he is uniformly generous. and you will see. "I can't for the life of me. but he has his mother's property in Normandy. what he knows how to do? Put him in the centre of Paris." replied Joseph. who are simply dolts. "see what the count finds to complain of. and I shouldn't be sorry to have one like him. That of society was perhaps less favorable. He was wise enough to distrust those astonishing personages who are always praising everybody. and that the count is very unreasonable. "he can't have more than sixty thousand francs' income at the most. he cut up so with the actresses that the police had to interfere. who was being trained to service. so drunk that he could scarcely say a word." "Ah. and you have already learned how to earn your living without doing any work at all." cried out a young fellow. but he always lost: and. You might give your father his walking ticket very properly." said a little old man. "this fellow's service must be mighty profitable. though. like dogs. I have many a time had to help him up to his room. my friend. His eldest son. He is severe upon our faults." "Ha!" exclaimed Joseph enthusiastically. But the viscount. He had an apartment in the house. In looking about us. for his son is a perfect model." said the valet de chambre. while the viscount here is a true child of wisdom." "Yes." Such was the judgment of the servants. which in the long run pays us best. that his cigars were splendid. about things which he can never see through. I'd settle the old gent pretty effectually!" "Joseph. who is a friend of the viscount's. is a pit without a bottom. There was a very different pair. without any merit except . he had a quick temper. Besides all this. I must do him the justice to say. but he is never harsh nor brutal to his servants. When he was at play. pray tell me what he is good for. Why. says that they often wrangle for hours together. it is true. with only his fine hands for capital. who himself had perhaps the enormous wages of fifteen francs. when I was in the Marquis de Courtivois's service." "That's why he gets angry. He will fritter away a thousand-franc note quicker than Joseph can smoke a pipe. when the waiters from the restaurants brought him home in a carriage.

to go into society a great deal. he despised them. like the parvenu. who in Paris give notoriety to their lovers. you know exactly what they are going to say. These people are welcomed everywhere: because they have nothing peculiar about them. he wished to avoid their example. He had had once. of entertaining ideas entirely too liberal for one of his rank. you know all their ideas by heart. published in the "Revue des Deux Mondes. with faults so contradictory that they were their own defence. At the club they rallied him on his prudence. He was charged with sins of the most opposite character. when his love for Mademoiselle d'Arlange became well known. ever since reading an article by the viscount. have peculiarly the gift of pleasing and of succeeding. as he had often been struck with the gross ignorance of many men in power. It is precisely so with the minds of certain other people. He did not enjoy passing his nights at cards. he was bored. for instance. but. and. He purposed. certainly the most mischievous woman in Paris. his run of follies. it was said. Having all the necessary qualities for shining. When they speak. He affirmed that a gentleman was not necessarily an object of ridicule because he would not expose himself in the theatre with these women. which was considered very bad taste. "I know that face. and committed the unpardonable sin of letting it be seen. they had turned against him. People knew him scarcely well enough to love him. He wore a bored look in all fashionable reunions. Albert was peculiar. As doing nothing wearied him. that uniform politeness which shocks no one's vanity. to give some meaning to life by work. Dreadful sin! He did not abuse his advantages. Mothers who had daughters to dispose of upheld him. and no one ever heard of his getting into a scrape. Some accused him. He was charged with treating with insulting levity the most serious questions. to take part in public affairs. nor did he appreciate the society of those frail sisters. perhaps the naughtiest. The noble profession of bon vivant appeared to him very tame and tiresome. consequently much discussed. they detest all innovations. is always irritating and offensive. and this was the cause of all his quarrels with his father. none of his friends could ever inoculate him with a passion for the turf. and.their perfect insignificance. and was then blamed for his affectation of gravity. Forced by his relations. at the same time. I have seen it somewhere. while they were jealous of him and feared him. by the rather coarse attentions which were never spared the noble heir of one of the richest families in France. but simply resembles faces seen in a common crowd. you have heard the same thing so many times already from them." . after a while. He had had. He busied himself with politics." because it has no individuality. like others. but he had soon got disgusted with what it is the fashion to call pleasure. others complained of his excessive arrogance. but that was all. Perhaps he had been disgusted by the constant court made to him. a very decided liking for Madame Prosny. and he suspected his son of liberalism. One cannot meet certain persons without saying. by his father. Finally. for the last two years. The one word of "liberal" was enough to throw the count into convulsions. That stupid propriety which offends no one. before. and very differently estimated. and peculiarity. especially in the upper classes. he attempted.

His establishment. it is nothing at all." "It would be useless. Lubin. the gardens attached to the mansion seemed twice their usual size." said Lubin." As the valet was leaving the room.His ideas. I will ring. looked like great black patches. "I ought to disobey you. well-considered love--had contributed not a little to keep him from the habits and life of the pleasant and elegant idleness indulged in by his friends. Albert's love for Claire--a deep. And now. just as he was reaping the happiness of success. did not prevent his fully sustaining his rank. A noble attachment is always a great safeguard. Ennui was banished from his existence. was the source of the most vivid. and shining pebbles sparkled in the carefully kept walks. He rang for his servant. His liveries left nothing to be desired. He spent most nobly on the world the revenue which placed his father and himself a little above it.--"Say nothing about my being unwell to any one. all his actions had but one aim. covered with immense woods. Albert's thoughts reverted to Claire. Letters of invitation were eagerly sought for to the grand hunting parties. What was she doing at that moment? Thinking of him no doubt. to see any one. which he formed every year towards the end of October at Commarin. he could not sleep. while particles of shell. Albert was thoroughly exhausted. however. In contending against it. He opened one of the library windows. when. This passion. tremulous evening light. She knew that the crisis would come that very evening. Finally. his head felt dizzy. he added. hiding the neighbouring houses. to hear a voice. He longed to be left entirely to himself. distinct from the count's. his valet. All his thoughts took the same direction. after three years of perseverance. with his cursed letters. his father absolutely refused his consent. to have to reply." replied Albert sadly.--an admirable piece of property. and looked out. so annoying to the count. She was probably praying. On leaving M. It was a beautiful night: and there was a lovely moon. The horses stamped in the stable and the rattling of their halter chains against the bars . was arranged as that of a wealthy young gentleman's ought to be. The moving tops of the great trees stretched away like an immense plain. at the end of his journey. If I should feel worse. the most powerful emotions in the viscount. After the painful emotions arising from his explanations with the count. was more than he could bear. and send for him myself. the flower-beds. by the mild. and while slowly mounting the stairs which led to his apartments. de Commarin." At that moment. M. Could he look to the right or the left. tiny pieces of glass. "You do wrong in not sending for the doctor. and ordered some tea. set off by the green shrubs. de Commarin had only succeeded in increasing its intensity and insuring its continuance. The effort to change this refusal had long been the business of his life. he had triumphed. sir. and seemed ready to burst. implacable as fate. the count had given his consent. he perceived the reward so ardently desired? He resolved that he would never have any wife but Claire. or the next day at the latest. Noel had arrived. "he could do nothing for me. Seen at this hour. and his horses and equipages were celebrated.

The commissary approached Albert. with a scared look on his face." he asked. In the hope of obtaining a respite from his thoughts.--"Am I really awake? Is not this some hideous nightmare?" He threw a stupid. he was suddenly awakened. At last." added the commissary. Albert was reminded by these surroundings. keeping as much out of sight as possible. while pronouncing the usual formula: "M. unfolding the paper." The commissary placed his hand upon him. and M. astonished look upon the commissary of police. sir. that he could scarcely speak. his men. in which was an account of the assassination at La Jonchere. "Must I. in case the count should wish to go out. it is the--" A commissary of police. "Here is the warrant. fly and hide. of the magnificence of his past life. "Guy Louis Marie Albert de Rheteau de Commarin?" "Yes. Tabaret could be seen. be quick. he threw himself on to a sofa. by the noise of the door being hastily opened." said he. sir? me?" Albert. abandon so much splendour without regret. in the name of the law I arrest you. who had not taken his eyes off him. He was followed by a number of men." but he could go no further. save yourself. "My dearly loved Claire. wearing his sash. and sat down near the fire. . a result almost impossible to realise without wealth?" Midnight sounded from the neighbouring church of St. appeared at the door. among whom M. "viscount. they are here. Then he thought of writing to Claire. lose all this?" he murmured. "You are. Have I not dreamed of a life of exceptional happiness for her. "I can scarcely. but he found it impossible to read: the lines danced before his eyes.of the manger could be distinctly heard. He sighed deeply. he took up the evening paper. de Commarin. his distracted brain could not furnish him with a single sentence. even for myself. Clotilde. At half-past nine in the morning. and so out of breath from having come up the stairs four at a time. "Sir. which he stirred. always kept ready throughout the evening. seemed to ask himself. and fell into a heavy sleep peopled with phantoms. Mechanically Albert glanced over it. at break of day. he closed the window. He sat down at his desk. Tabaret. A servant entered. aroused suddenly from his painful dreams. then. In the coach-house the men were putting away for the night the carriage. and thinking of Claire makes it hard indeed." "Me. seemed hardly to comprehend what was taking place. and as the night was chilly. and wrote.

and an umbrella recently wetted. one of which.--"I am lost!" While the commissary was making inquiries. 4."Claudine assassinated!" he cried. which immediately follow all arrests. apparently made by finger-nails. like that which grows on walls. On the front are numerous rents. which were carefully described in their proper order in the official report: 1. These trousers had not been hung up with the other clothes. made them ransack drawers and closets. called the library. M. They seized a number of articles belonging to the viscount. a pair of black cloth trousers was discovered still damp. and one near the knee is about four inches long. by one of his officers. and by old Tabaret. manuscripts.--documents. the end of which was still covered with a light coloured mud. but distinct enough to be heard by the commissary." "In the middle of the day. though clean and polished. and the end cannot be found. Upon the backs of both gloves are some scratches. In the ante-room. and move the furniture to look underneath or behind. They had received orders to obey M. Their evidence is rather . Tabaret. when he's hungry. produced by grass or moss. In the pocket of the above mentioned trousers was found a pair of lavender kid gloves. and only half awake. "I have everything I could desire. "Our prisoner does not appear to know exactly how to act. were found a box of cigars of the trabucos brand. C." he whispered. The palm of the right hand glove bears a large greenish stain. he added. was still very damp. There were also found in the dressing-room two pairs of boots. It is ornamented with the count's coronet. All one side is smeared with greenish moss. the police officers spread through the apartments." replied the amateur detective in a whisper. and proceeded to a searching examination of them. 5. 3. hung with all sorts of weapons. "he would not have been quite so crestfallen. you know--Always arrest a person early in the morning. I suppose YOU will call it lack of experience. and bearing stains of mud or rather of mould. Then very low." replied the commissary. Tabaret approached the commissary of police." "I have questioned some of the servants. When questioned. Tabaret put his hands on certain articles. a broken foil was found behind a sofa. But early in the morning. and is unlike those commonly sold. You heard what he said. In the dressing-room. the viscount declared that he did not know what had become of the missing end. In a large room. and a very voluminous correspondence. and on the mantel-shelf a number of cigar-holders in amber and meerschaum. The last article noted down. He gave in at once. "And I have finished. The tips of the fingers have been worn as if by rubbing. but appear to have been hidden between two large trunks full of clothing. It has been broken at about the middle. and the initials A. This foil has a peculiar handle. and the old fellow guided them in their search. suddenly awakened. 2. but it was with especial delight that M.

After that. She says to the prisoner. They almost carried him to the cab which drove off as fast as the two little horses could go. "will you permit me to say a few words in your presence to the Count de Commarin? I am the victim of some mistake.peculiar. which will be very soon discovered. far from the sight of men. and mounts to the third story in the left wing. M. You shudder. they all seemed to have lost their senses. Justice clothes herself in none of that apparel which she afterwards dons in order to strike fear into the masses. we shall see. You must not henceforth communicate with a living soul. the witnesses. It is a place difficult to view calmly. Have the goodness to accompany me to it. and yet it is difficult to enter one of them without a shudder. CHAPTER X." muttered old Tabaret. Denis gave some orders in a sharp. imperative tone. From morning to night. M. badly lighted by narrow windows. In this gallery. It needs a Dante to compose an inscription to place above the doors which lead from it." Albert was beginning to recover a little from the stupor into which he had been plunged by the entrance of the commissary of police. She is still simple. Tabaret had just hastened away in a more rapid vehicle. and pierced at short intervals by little doors." "It's always a mistake. The walls all seem moist with the tears which have been shed there. Albert noticed a great stir among the servants. the judicial curriculum is gone through with. you have seen them all." "Very well." he asked. the flagstones resound under the heavy tread of the gendarmes. Then he thought he heard that the Count de Commarin had been struck down with apoplexy. like a hall at the ministry or at a lodging-house. low-studded gallery." In crossing the vestibule. opens into the office of a judge of inquiry. he remembered nothing. at thinking of the avowals wrested from the criminals." replied the commissary. The visitor who risks himself in the labyrinth of galleries and stairways in the Palais de Justice. the imagination makes it appear so dark and dismal. will find himself in a long. the detectives. They have nothing terrible nor sad in themselves. who is impatiently expecting me. "I have special orders of the strictest sort. There are the parents or friends of the accused. You can scarcely recall anything but sad figures there. who accompany the prisoners. "What you ask is impossible. which has its number painted over it in black. Each one of the little doors. In the office of the judge of inquiry. and almost disposed to kindness.-- . They are cold. of the confessions broken with sobs murmured there. But I must hurry off and find the investigating magistrate. "Sir. A cab is in waiting below. All the rooms are just alike: if you see one.

"I have strong reasons for thinking you guilty. and his face was as impassive as if it had been cut out of a piece of yellow wood. to appear before him with as little delay as possible. he had summoned the Count de Commarin. who sends off his aide-de-camp to begin the battle. and excused himself for his tardiness. counting the minutes. the curtains are green. as is the case in all places where important matters are transacted. under circumstances almost identical. he had not lost an instant. and I will release you." On entering one of these rooms. He wondered why his people were so long in making their appearance. and yet he could not quiet his dreadful anxiety. The walls are hung with green paper. and who hopes that victory will crown his combinations. He could hear the most astonishing things without moving a muscle. Of what consequence are surroundings to the judge hunting down the author of a crime. His gait was precise. He had already had an interview with the public prosecutor." . at this same hour. and the floors are carpeted in the same color. without possessing even half the proofs which guided him in the present case. and. an arm-chair. he had given orders for his arrest. and had arranged everything with the police. He had been busy with some book-keeping. and was waiting. understanding as well as old Tabaret the necessity for rapid action. almost deserted at that hour. and very slim. and his wife had had to send after him. to compare it with the clock. Madame Gerdy. he moved near the door. or to the accused who is defending his life? A desk full of documents for the judge. At length some one knocked. his gestures were methodical. He bowed to the magistrate. He walked up and down the room." said M. like a general commanding an army. There was nothing particular in this man. and he himself sat in his office. he was tall rather than big. Several detectives had started off to execute his orders. a stranger would imagine that he got into a cheap shop by mistake. The furniture is of the most primitive sort. but prove to me your innocence. stopped and listened. and one or two chairs besides comprise the entire furniture of the antechamber of the court of assize. which he did every morning. Monsieur Daburon's office bore the number fifteen. he had sat in this office. He kept repeating this to himself. Many a time had he issued warrants of arrest. Daburon: "but we shall soon have plenty of work: so you had better get your paper ready. Noel. Every time he heard a step in the passage. It was his clerk. which would not allow him a moment's rest. Was not that his duty? But he had never before experienced the anxiety of mind which disturbed him now. Daburon had arrived at his office in the Palais de Justice at nine o'clock in the morning. His course resolved upon. drawing out his watch three times within a quarter of an hour. Besides issuing the warrant against Albert. whom he had sent for. a table for the clerk. He was thirty-four years of age and during fifteen years had acted as clerk to four investigating magistrates in succession. and some of Albert's servants. M. His name was Constant. "You are still in good time. A crime had been committed. He thought it essential to question all these persons before examining the prisoner. believing he had discovered the criminal. Often.

He entered with an easy manner. age." "Precisely. like an advocate who was well acquainted with the Palais. Daburon. He bowed to M. this morning. He therefore welcomed him as a fellow-workman. Daburon. his hair and his whiskers had been most carefully brushed. He was entirely another being. old Tabaret's friend. after a secret visit to his mistress. I have gone there to see her many times. I have thought but little about her. circles about his eyes. and I know that Madame Gerdy wrote to her frequently. who was my nurse. rested upon an irreproachably white cravat. whose reputation was fast rising. who had followed his clerk with his eyes while he was writing. but I remained only ." he began. he added. From his firm step." replied M. in the dark. since I have been a man. except to send her occasionally a little aid. after an evening of emotion and excitement. Daburon had not slept either: but one could easily see that in his feebleness. the usher introduced M. Noel Gerdy. then you can give me some information about her. and his cuffs were far from clean. and." "I fear. his collar did not show a crease. sir. His shirt-front was all rumpled. and so on having been written down. turned towards Noel. and invited him to be seated. "You summoned me. sir." The investigating magistrate had met the young advocate several times in the lobbies of the Palais. and who knew its winding ways. Gerdy. Noel's well-shaved chin. calling to mind his promise to old Tabaret. the magistrate. M. I was taken from her at a very early age. or rather he had resumed his every-day bearing. and that woman his mother. it is because we have found your name often mentioned in Widow Lerouge's papers." "Very well." he said. in his anxious look. place of business. on the contrary." "You never went to visit her?" "Excuse me. The preliminaries common in the examinations of all witnesses ended. Carried away by the course of events. sir. still less could he have been recognized as Madame Juliette's lover. What a contrast between him and the magistrate! M. or at least one who had filled his mother's place. the murder of that poor old woman at La Jonchere. the name. his placid face. the mind had forgotten the body. and he knew him well by sight. he had passed the night by the pillow of a dying woman. He in no wise resembled." "I am not surprised at that. Then. "and I am here awaiting your orders. one would never imagine that." replied the advocate: "we were greatly interested in that poor woman. surname. Gerdy spoken of as a man of talent and promise. that it will be very incomplete. "If justice has summoned you so promptly. "the matters in connection with which you are troubled with appearing before me?" "Yes. and held out the summons he had received. "I presume you know. I know very little about this poor old Madame Lerouge. He remembered having heard M.Five minutes later.

too. sir. "And then?" asked the magistrate. She uttered the words I have just repeated. "I expect shortly to see Madame Gerdy here. that it will be impossible to obtain any information from her?" "It is useless even to hope for it. The doctor was sent for." interrupted M. though I myself think she has been unwell for the last three weeks at least. Madame Gerdy. could have enlightened you much better than I. "This is very annoying. sir." "Seriously?" "So seriously that her testimony. you mean. It is something like inflammation of not mistaken. she took up a newspaper. in such a state of utter prostration that I fear she can not live through the day. I carried her to her bed. when I left her. and thence slipped to the floor. sir. She is ill in bed. Do you know.a few minutes." "Suddenly?" "Yes. Daburon." "And when was she attacked by this illness?" "Yesterday evening. by a most unfortunate hazard. the unhappy man!'" "The unhappy woman. sir. if I am but she will never insane. Assisted by our servant. however. 'Oh. Yesterday." said the magistrate. Evidently the exclamation did not refer to my poor nurse. She was. her eyes fell exactly upon the lines which gave an account of this crime. during which he had taken a few notes. and. "Let us leave that for the present. to give up all hope of is attacked with a disease which." "No. the unhappy man. She at once uttered a loud cry. my dear sir. Daburon raised his eyes to the witness. Herve." he muttered. She friend. she. were the last spoken by Madame Gerdy. the brain." "I know it. murmuring. who has often seen her. Dr. must have received a summons. "Those words. and. so important and yet made in the most unconscious tone. since then. sir. but it is impossible for her to appear. I think. after a moment's silence. M. It may be that her life will be saved." you will be obliged. The doctor--" "It is well. She has completely lost her reason. she has not recovered consciousness." Upon this reply. recover her reason. she will be M. and to whom she talked of all her affairs. If she does not die. whether Widow Lerouge had any enemies?" . apparently so." "But. The advocate lowered his head. on rising from dinner. in the words of my never forgives. at least. Daburon appeared greatly vexed. "And you think. fell back in her chair. after having eaten but little.

" "At last. retired and . I have worked hard. but it will be scarcely an effort to speak before you now. and seemed deeply moved. his look returned thanks. looking at him more searchingly. what he was about to hear. "so pray pardon my emotion. He was disconcerted. appeared much more marked. as if a struggle was going on within him. Knowing." he replied." "Fear nothing. "I am very much obliged to you. he replied. excuse them. what seems to me absolutely indispensable." Noel's embarrassment. "I am aware." He then added aloud: "An injury to you. it has caused me an irreparable injury." he said with suppressed warmth." "Is that really true?" asked the magistrate. explain yourself. "that I owe justice not merely the truth. "You know no one whom this crime benefits. "Constant!" said he in a peculiar tone. Noel's sad tone impressed him. does there exist to your knowledge any one having the least interest in the death of this poor woman?" As he asked this question the investigating magistrate kept his eyes fixed on Noel's."None that I know of. He who has no name must make one. "and that is. Daburon interrupted with a gesture. put his pen behind his ear. Besides. Daburon. not wishing him to turn or lower his head. but the whole truth. and I have not betrayed poor old Tabaret. you know. they will be involuntary. If any words escape me that seem charged with bitterness. or whom it might benefit." began Noel." replied Noel. my dear sir. no one. Up to the past few days. for the tall clerk rose methodically. I hope. in a voice which was by no means firm. sir. sir." thought M. He turned to his clerk. and went out in his measured tread. he felt for the young advocate. His face expressed the strongest gratitude. it is very hard to be obliged to unveil such sad secrets. as far as I am concerned. sir.--absolutely no one?" "I know only one thing." "I feel scarcely master of myself. sir. but there are circumstances involved so delicate that the conscience of a man of honour sees danger in them. the revelation of which may sometimes--" M. My history is short. now tell me." "She had no enemies? Well. he hesitated. "I will only retain of your deposition. I have been honourably ambitious. I have passed a quiet life. that. "for your considerateness. my dear sir? You will. beforehand. I always believed that I was the offspring of illicit love. It would be too bad to cause the least trouble to that zealous and invaluable man. Noel appeared sensible of this kindness. "we have got at the letters. The advocate started." replied the magistrate. of which he had already given some signs. What I have to say is very painful. Finally. "No. This was evidently a signal. sir.

Could he hope for this from the count or from Madame Gerdy. he employed the exaggeration of restraint. with the same circumstances. but so slight that it would have been difficult to charge him with them. some positive testimony was needed. but now. On reading these letters. He insisted. A few inaccuracies occurred in his narrative. to which she was now succumbing.--that Madame Gerdy was not my mother!" And. starting at the foot of the ladder. twelve hours before. would be glad to free her conscience from this heavy load. She had. Daburon time to reply. I was convinced that I was not what I had hitherto believed myself to be. I felt that I had more than common advantages. but he insinuated that. But he had counted upon that of his nurse. From this scene. his doubts. and using the method which would best accomplish his purpose. wishing to produce the same effect on both. she had. plied with questions. it is true. but with a noble firmness at the same . wish to reach the top. upon the excellent impression which that young man had made on him. Besides. It was the same story. With genuine eloquence and rare facility of expression. but with the magistrate he seemed to bow. One might imagine that he adapted his style to his auditors. The stain of my birth had some humiliations attached to it. in the advocate's judgment. She was dead now. confessed all. Tabaret's he used the exaggeration of anger. in the presence of the investigating magistrate. he laid before him the facts which. near the close of her life. at first utterly denied the substitution. Tabaret. the young advocate had been emphatic and violent. To an ordinary mind like M. who. without giving M. might be dated the first attacks of the illness. and he gave the magistrate even fuller details than he had given his old neighbour. When speaking to the old detective. Then he passed on to his explanation with Madame Gerdy. but I despised them. he said. but to a man of superior intelligence like M. soon after. With the detective he had rebelled against his unjust lot.--the poor old woman who loved him. Comparing my lot with that of so many others. Noel then described his interview with the Viscount de Commarin. Albert had received the revelation with a certain distrust. on the contrary. One day. in a moment of despair.austere. To support this moral certainty.--his grief. but the tone in which it was told was entirely changed. both interested in concealing the truth? No. and I felt convinced that she loved me in return. his perplexity. Providence placed in my hands all the letters which my father. and who. I worshipped her whom I believed to be my mother. he restrained his vehement emotions. declaring. before a blind fatality. full of resignation. there was nothing in them at all unfavourable to Albert. that she would retract and deny this confession. Daburon. had written to Madame Gerdy during the time she was his mistress. the Count de Commarin. as people must. and the letters became mere waste paper in his hands. he related his feelings on the day following the discovery. the same abundance of precise and conclusive details. being resolved at all hazards that her son should preserve his position. and overcome by the evidence. he had related to M.

before all. to have an explanation with his father." "Did not this generosity appear to you very singular?" "No. It is evident that the crime is of the greatest service to this young man. and that it was committed at a singularly favourable moment. "that the Viscount de Commarin's position has thereby become almost impregnable." continued M." "Oh sir!" cried Noel. towards whom he felt himself drawn. but who would return in a few days. without allowing a word. Madame Gerdy is insane. the count will deny all. furious at being robbed." The magistrate watched the advocate's face narrowly. and. M. I merely presented the facts to Albert." The truth. Daburon had not the slightest doubt of his witness's good faith. who had not been spoiled by prosperity. or a frown. I did not present myself like a man who. and who after all was his brother. liberally with money.--"What reason could this young man have for trembling. Daburon listened to Noel with the most unremitting attention. having visited her with the count. Was he speaking frankly. to betray his feelings. M. sir. protesting with all his energy. no one was interested in Widow Lerouge's death?" The advocate made no reply. I had suggested his accompanying me to see Widow Lerouge. has an accent which no one can mistake. whose testimony might dispel all doubts. "this insinuation is dreadful. was ready to bow before the justification of right. In fact. Daburon. a movement. or was he but playing at being generous? Could it really be that he had never had any suspicion of this? Noel did not flinch under the gaze.time. demands that everything which had been taken from him should be restored on the spot. I have since learned. Noel continued with the ingenuous candour of an honest heart which suspicion has never touched with its . saying. who had left him without a look of hatred. as all the world knows. and delights in proclaiming. even indirectly." "Can you explain why the viscount did not appear disposed to accompany you?" "Certainly. but almost immediately continued. he did not seem to understand me. your letters prove nothing. he drew an almost enthusiastic portrait of this rival." observed the magistrate when the young man ceased speaking. who was then absent. "How. But he was well acquainted with her.'" "And he asked you for time?" "Yes. like a brave heart. in your opinion. who supplied her. "could you have told me that. or fearing for his position? I did not utter one threatening word. He had just said that he wished. "It seems to me. 'Here is the truth? what do you think we ought to do? Be the judge.

I cast all my hopes into the sea. Had he been less preoccupied. thinks she has found Widow Lerouge's assassin. I dreaded to understand them. "to regain my rightful name. If things came to the worst. in ten years time. though. I would. then. sir. with a sort of stupor: "I was not. mine will be more known. in the meaning of your words. you will enter into possession of your rights. sir. I possess nothing: and I have often been hampered in my career by the want of money. No doubt the name of Commarin is an illustrious one. At the commencement. On learning of the death of my nurse.--for today my time is all taken up. That which Madame Gerdy owed to the generosity of my father was almost entirely spent. like a bearer of great news as he was. but I hope that. she lacks economy and system. At this moment. "I advise you to still hope. but. my dear sir. Justice. they have eased my task materially. you shall have them. who had just arrived. "I thank you for your sincere straightforward explanations.bat's wing: "The idea of treating at once with my father pleased me exceedingly. Daburon. I had never desired anything but an amicable arrangement." "Within an hour. have demanded a large pecuniary compensation. not at any price." "You have not mistaken me. I could not keep my anger well under control. With my hands full of proofs. after having warmly expressed his gratitude to the investigating magistrate. But I have nothing to reproach myself with. sir. Madame Gerdy and I live very quietly. To see him jumping more nimbly than a fifth-rate lawyer's clerk up the steep flight of stairs leading to the magistrate's office. however. "I think. Could I." "You were wrong. I believe. I thought it so much better to wash all one's dirty linen at home. sir. I have nothing more to say. though simple in her tastes. mistaken. "that it is but natural. and which are indispensable to me. "A most praiseworthy feeling. His cab had scarcely stopped at the gate of the Palais de Justice before he was in the courtyard and rushing towards the porch. Perhaps. I had determined to leave my title with Albert." "Would you not have brought an action?" "Never. one would never have believed that he was many years on the shady side of fifty." he said. Daburon could not conceal his sincere admiration." he added proudly. Viscount Albert is doubtless under arrest." said the magistrate. before the end of the day. but now I bear no ill-will. And he retired. except to ask you for the letters in your possession. eager and happy. I should still recoil from a public trial. Even he . To-morrow. whatever happens." replied Noel." "What!" exclaimed Noel. My education had absorbed a great part of it. sir. the advocate might have perceived at the end of the gallery old Tabaret." said M." replied Noel. and it was long before my profession covered my expenses. and no one can imagine how great our expenses have been.--we will write down your deposition together if you like. I will not conceal from you. begin by dishonouring it?" This time M. unfortunately.

nothing is wanting." At any other time. "I can't be quiet. and you will overwhelm him. He is a fine fellow. details which later on official report. I wager that he will confess all. knocking up against the methodical clerk in the rudest of ways. That's my opinion. strung. When they bring the fellow before you. "Never has anything like this been known before." "I should think so. be decent. He looked severely at old Tabaret. a famous fellow! How much do you give him a year for his skill?" "Come. sir. which appears by no means a bad one." "Pooh!" replied the old fellow." muttered he.--"Hush. sir. more Tirauclair than ever. Tabaret. compose yourself. "I am lost!" at sight of the warrant. They should be hanged as soon as caught. "That. my Gevrol wants to nab the man with the earrings. Broken foil. he began questioning him. Now. and let us proceed in order. "is a terrible proof against him. cigar-holder. if you can. this shower of words. locked! We have got the man. nipped." replied old Tabaret. he is just capable of doing that. he had never before felt so fresh. "Caught!" he cried. as soon as he could get in a word. But M. in such spirits. for which. "what good will that do? It is a clear case now.himself had forgotten it.--yes. lavender kid gloves slightly frayed. trapped. gesticulated with such comical vehemence and such remarkable contortions that even the tall clerk smiled. without even asking his pardon." he replied. But no. Daburon. saying. "In his ordinary state. "caught. which Gevrol ridiculed so much. it made no impression on him. I'd give a hundred francs if he were only here now. the old fellow would have felt ashamed at having deserved such a reprimand. my dear M. and many other things besides. this Gevrol. although he felt the safer for it. in obtaining the exact details of the were confirmed by the commissary's The magistrate appeared very surprised when he heard that Albert had exclaimed. He did not remember how he had passed the night. however. I have a little system of my own. As soon as the old down a little. side by side with his torn gloves. "be serious." said the magistrate. Daburon resigned himself to fellow's excitement had cooled He even then had great trouble arrest. merely show him the particles of kid taken from behind the nails of the victim. he . I wager my head against his." M. He burst like a cannon-shot into the magistrate's office." Old Tabaret. so agile. while yet on the threshold. squeezed. for he may get off yet! Those milk-sops on the jury are just capable of according him extenuating circumstances. the punishment of rascals wouldn't take such a time. Ah! all those delays are fatal to justice! Why if all the world were of my mind. was shocked at this apparently unseasonable joy. still under the influence of Noel's deposition. All that I mentioned has been found. he seemed to have springs of steel in his limbs. Just see the triumph of my method of induction. hic et nunc. You shall have them. although that's pretty risky. he took himself severely to task on going to bed that night.

would never have allowed himself to utter such words. M. a noble. But. he will find a plausible excuse for this fatal exclamation. "a nature both strong and tender." Then." "How. Seldom in my life have I met with a man who so won my sympathy from the first. but I am going to have the paragraph that relates to that taken out at once. and is in the hands of M. he will inherit almost the whole of my fortune: yes. unhappily." replied M. for Madame Gerdy. how can it affect him? Dying! I thought so much of her before this discovery. had I not promised absolute secrecy?" "Ah. he added. when we arrived. "what is that you say? Dying? Noel will be distracted. my notary. whatever happens. Gerdy told me so himself. M. I love him as though he were my own child. Baron. We arrested him when he was scarcely awake. I can well understand one's pride in being among his friends. Tabaret. Gerdy." "That will be a great misfortune for M. what do you mean? Has the count--" "She is dying. manifested an elevation of soul. I intend leaving him everything. for M. I took good care to let a frightened servant ran in advance. you are a valuable man. that. "And what do you think sir. and to follow closely upon him myself. The sentiments which I heard him express here. for they in fact destroy him.' which contained an account of the assassination. of Noel?" "His is. Poor humanity! It seems as though all the accomplices are passing away at the same time." "Just what I said. louder." "Yes. A cloud of anxiety spread itself like a veil over his beaming countenance. and. very rare. never fear. Tabaret. Daburon. M. and the genuineness of which it is impossible to doubt." murmured the magistrate." "For Noel?" . I am sure. he has precisely the same effect upon every one. "I am thoroughly convinced. near by." "You have seen Noel!" cried the old fellow. but was lying in a troubled sleep. Gerdy has just this moment left me." cried old Tabaret. On the instant all his proud self-satisfaction disappeared. will soon be beyond all need of worldly goods. Then he timidly added: "And does he know?" "Nothing. He hadn't been in bed. to see the effect. I should add that we found on the floor. "I had no need of mentioning your name. that's all right. This is the first time that a piece of news in the papers ever helped to nab a criminal. "yes. upon a sofa. There is a small legacy. All my arrangements were made. for I forgot to tell you." "Ah! heavens!" cried the old fellow. deep in thought. worthy heart. By the way." said the magistrate. just as I was leaving the Commarin mansion. I heard a servant tell another that the count had fallen down in a fit on learning the news of his son's arrest. "Noel here. but no: since she is not his mother. too. Besides. a crumpled copy of last evening's 'Gazette de France." he repeated. My will is made. and is not likely to live through the day." "Madame Gerdy.

leant upon his chest. His cold. M. It was indeed the Count de Commarin. My servants thought me dead. all his supports failed him at the same time. that humbled. when the nobles consider themselves subject to the law. count."I had counted upon M. de Commarin's testimony to recover for him all that he so well deserves. Daburon quickly. perhaps. The pride of his name had constituted his entire strength. retired. Widow Lerouge dead. Tabaret looked frightened. When I heard of the crime of which my son is accused." said the magistrate. yesterday so proud of never having bent to a storm." "I am better. In one night. I am certain that--" He did not finish. his figure was bent. even when only represented by a simple and conscientious investigating magistrate. Daburon offered him a seat. His head. and even the clerk seemed moved. was now completely shattered. and the two servants who had helped him up as far as the door. and of his arrest." said M. was all that saved me. Everything in him gave way at once. and see if there's any news at the Prefecture. and fears it a little." Apologies to an investigating magistrate! What an advance in civilisation." murmured old Tabaret. that I may drink to the bitter dregs my cup of humiliation. The count had not noticed their presence. "you must excuse my sitting." replied M." The clerk left the room. who then can tell us whether the substitution alluded to in the letters was ever carried into execution?" "True. The count dead. "Constant. as rigid as one of those old portraits which look as though they were frozen in their gilded frames. The door of M. which he accepted with a sad smile." said he. and bow to its decrees! Every one respects justice now-a-days. thank you. though more like his shadow. lifeless gaze revealed the dull stupor of his thoughts. but I rolled in the dust. What fatality! For I am not deceived. He presented such a picture of utter despair that the investigating magistrate slightly shuddered at the sight. I was thunderstruck. The nobleman motioned with his hand. "it is true! And I did not think of it. This man. or in any event insane. I believed myself a strong man. too unwell. he paid no attention to their departure. de Commarin. who went away regretfully. Tabaret. followed by the detective." . "I feel so weak. but I believe that heaven wishes me to live. Madame Gerdy dying. M. his eyes had no longer their accustomed fire. "go with M. "I am as well as could be expected after the shock I have received. Why was it not so? The strength of my constitution. usually carried so high. "You are. The extreme disorder of his dress rendered more striking still the change which had come over him. and the Count de Commarin himself appeared on the threshold. he had grown twenty years older. he seemed utterly overwhelmed. "to give me the explanations I had hoped for. his hands trembled. my physician tells me. Daburon's office opened. CHAPTER XI.

and bring him to a sense of his position. and I have been the means of drawing down the storm upon my house. punish me. I could not induce myself to part from her." The count stopped for a moment.--"Unhappy man that I am! ought I not to have expected it? Everything comes to light sooner or later.--pride. the count found relief. To my great surprise. He had vaguely thought of certain rather severe remarks. and he had resolved to humble his arrogance. and he began to wonder how he could assuage the count's grief. laid the foundation of this crime. who had trusted herself to me. to proclaim the infamy of our house? Ah! all is lost now." continued M. sir. He soon continued. The idea of sharing my love with another was revolting to her. a slight grudge against the aristocracy. the noblest and purest of young girls. she refused it with horror. purity and mind. I made her the most unhappy of women. Daburon considered Count de Commarin's conduct unpardonable. Our relations continued. No doubt she loved me then. Albert an assassin! A Viscount de Commarin arraigned before a court of assize! Ah. almost afraid to move. Fifteen centuries of spotless fame end with me in infamy. I am punished for my great sin. sir. to concentrate and arrange his memory. nearly choked by a flow of blood that rose to his mouth. I could not love her.He stopped suddenly. she would not be . my parents made me marry. in a firmer voice. My heart is. After a few moments' rest. "Write. I communicated this project to Valerie. In spite of my marriage. also.--"write my avowal and suppress nothing. and continued. Perhaps the harsh treatment he had received of old from the Marchioness d'Arlange had given him. unconsciously. so to say. But when he found himself in the presence of such a sincere repentance. and had determined not to spare him. The investigating magistrate remained standing near the table. even honour itself. dead and cold in me. "When I was of Albert's age. it still has a great effect upon me. almost unmanageable. Already the maternal instinct was aroused within her. I have no longer need of mercy nor of tenderness. Her name was Valerie. ah! when I pronounce that name. but. sir. though she wished me to." M. Write. I thought myself out of reach of the thunderbolt. sir. de Commarin with an exaltation of which he did not seem capable ten minutes before. I cherished a most passionate love for a mistress. He had expected to meet a proud. This coincidence suggested to me the fatal idea of sacrificing my legitimate son to his less fortunate brother. and adapting his tone to what he had to say. for I alone and long ago. and whom I had loved for a long time. sir. But they shall also know that the punishment has been already terrible. which were to overcome the old nobleman. What have I to fear now? Is not my disgrace public? Must not I. and that there was no need for this last and awful trial. his indignation changed to profound pity. I found her rich in beauty. in spite of my protestations. haughty noble. Count Rheteau de Commarin appear before the tribunal. My wife and my mistress became mothers at nearly the same time. for I wish that all the world shall know that I am the most deserving of blame.

Noel Gerdy is the issue of your legitimate marriage. He feared. It is. and who was arrested but a short time ago. Ah! why did I not listen to both her arguments and her prayers? It was because I was mad.separated from her child." M. "What had she been in my life? A cause of sorrow and remorse. I had taken her from a garret. and above all so prompt. In coming to her house he took every precaution. I inquired into the matter. which poisoned her last days. or. The Countess de Commarin adored him whom she believed to be her son. Alas! I was then more delighted at the success of my project than I should have been over the most brilliant victory." continued the count. in advance of man's was about to take a terrible revenge. She had a sort of presentiment of the evil which overwhelms me to-day. She died of sorrow. I had her watched. But I kept him from her as much as I could. to the detriment of the other. if he stopped him for an instant. I have preserved. it seemed to me impossible. where she was working sixteen hours a day to earn a few pence. who was very good. She yielded. Daburon had not hoped for a declaration so clear. that he would not have strength enough to resume. and had had him for more than ten years. absurd. sir. to which at any moment might succeed the most complete prostration. One day. I was warned that Valerie was deceiving me. On this point Valerie. as a monument of my folly. But God's justice. to ask him briefly for the immediate facts of the case. if that be possible. without a murmur. that I forgot everything else. never to see her again. sir. near me. I had been told the truth. The thought that he would bear my name. transported me with delight. He usually left about midnight. and in . "I did not shed a single tear. the son of my mistress who bears the title of Viscount de Commarin. I could not even look upon him. and my valet and Claudine Lerouge were charged with this wicked substitution. I re-read them only last night. I would have sooner doubted myself than her. Daburon did not venture to interrupt the count. reproached me severely. that he would inherit all my wealth. But I came to Paris. imagined that I was doing everything to prevent her son loving her. rather. but sometimes he came to pass the night. He was a cavalry officer. However. One thing alone interfered with my happiness. the letters which she wrote to me at that time. The other. I could not induce myself to feel jealous. "So.--I had absolute control over her. count. I threatened to leave her. and always wished to have him on her knees. pardon upon her lips and in her heart. I even acted the spy upon her myself. I had transferred to him a part of my love for his mother. He secretly rejoiced for the young advocate whose noble sentiments had quite captivated him. and she. I was so intoxicated with the joy of having my Valerie's child there. with this idea. poor woman! not understanding what was passing within me. she owed all to me. I had made her so much a part of myself that I could not credit her being false. This unhappy woman had another lover. and had done so for a long time. and that he alone is entitled to bear your name?" "Yes. therefore. He knew that fever alone gave him this unnatural energy. I could not believe it at first. but saint-like." Though greatly pressed for time." said he. She died. "you acknowledge that M. I do not recollect having kissed him twice. I cannot express what I suffered at seeing my wife cover with kisses and caresses the child of my mistress. M. without a complaint. I loved him still more. I hated.

M. I have often been on the point of appealing to the tribunals. I rushed out of the place without saying a word. when we must find some outlet for a too powerful emotion. and then addressing M. and the tall clerk's head appeared. such as are worn by soldiers. de Commarin. and yet I have not been able to save it from infamy. which he was unable to explain. he frequently obtained leave of absence and came to visit her. who opened his whole life without restrictions. allied to madness. my servants had orders that they dared not ignore. And that is not all. the door of the room opened slightly. I recoiled before the scandal. What mattered to him this secret. for his reserve so full of disdain. casts it to the earth without caring where it falls. She wrote to me. so courageously borne for so many years? He disburdened himself of it. when I saw upon the piano a buckskin glove. sir. "Nothing. In separating from her. Albert. there has always been an icy barrier between us. I did not open her letters. In the meantime. In a fit of despair. I have never consoled myself for her loss. has been the best of sons. She attempted to force her way into my presence. I thought that my spies had deceived me. and two great tears rolled silently down his wrinkled cheeks. but regard for my rank has prevented me. and I loved her. are most disastrous. I have learned to subdue my aversion. One evening. when all reflection leaves us. he buried his face in his hands. when I thought to myself. It is your duty to .' This thought made me hate the bastard who called himself Commarin. of reclaiming my legitimate heir. I have never seen her since. Not wishing a scene. She was like a part of myself. I feared the ridicule or disgrace that would attach to my name. after pronouncing these words. My very heartstrings were bound up in that woman. I hated her. She received me as usual. And. as you see. you have committed a great sin. "no. But he was in one of those desperate states. can approach to what I then endured. and not knowing to what excess my anger might carry me. he said in a voice rendered more gentle by compassion: "Sir. I hastened to the house. celebrated for his haughty coldness. to this day. nothing. I cannot describe the furious passions her memory stirred within me. Daburon signed to him to enter. Nothing can make me forget her. who spoke thus. of avowing all. terrible doubts about Albert occurred to me. without reserve? And to whom? To a stranger. throwing her arms about my neck. but I have never completely mastered it. To my great affection for him succeeded an unconquerable aversion. and the results. in the eyes of heaven. I scorned her and longed for her with equal vehemence. my spies brought me word that he was there. Being stationed near Paris. and I was going to tell her all." The old nobleman remained silent. weighed down by a too heavy burden." Could this be the Count de Commarin. My presence did not embarrass her. How often. in those days I struggled against an insane desire to kill him! Since then. her detestable image has been ever present to my imagination. 'I have perhaps sacrificed my own son to the child of an utter stranger. and he would remain shut up in her apartments until his time expired. it seemed to me that I was tearing away a part of my own flesh. who. like the poor man. nor how much it may tempt the cupidity of the passers-by. but in vain. Was I really his father? Can you understand what my punishment was." continued he. Nevertheless. as in the eyes of society.that case went away in the early morning.

"a Commarin would be dead at this hour. better and worthier than any one I know. Noel Gerdy is worthy in all respects of the high position that you are about to restore to him. He had neglected his usual prudence. for Viscount Albert is not a Commarin." "You doubtless understand me. All the skill in the world could not repair such an unfortunate mistake. an inconvenient witness? Thus reasoned M. A witness on his guard is no longer a witness to be depended upon. in a way which I now seek in vain to explain. and. I understand you. and to suspect everybody. unless--" The count stopped short. and. On the other hand. by Albert himself. in the form of a magistrate. it is quite evident that you have something more than suspicion against him. He is a man of great talent. measures the weight of the questions. he would certainly have made great efforts to save him. and blood washes all away. had moved too quickly. Daburon. "of the viscount's guilt?" M. may I say so? my dearest wish. Daburon.--that you possess positive proofs. sir. sir. "Unless!--" inquired the magistrate eagerly. more sternly. "Are you then sure. to imagine everything. He had believed the count's mind entirely upset. His story showed that he thought his honour in peril just as much as his son. "I only arrived in Paris yesterday evening. for a moment." "Such is my intention. and now he had aroused his distrust." he asked." added the magistrate." he replied. as if his reason had been struck by the improbability of the supposition which he had formed.repair the evil consequences of your sin as much as lies in your power. ." rejoined the count quickly. de Commarin gave the magistrate a look of intense surprise." M. He spoke to me of this sad story. Daburon bit his lips." "No. "when were you informed of the discovery of your secret?" "Last evening." The old nobleman's remark set the investigating magistrate thinking profoundly. justice. he trembles for fear of compromising himself. If you have arrested him. sir. And finally. And yet he could not clearly see how the Count de Commarin's interests were concerned in the matter." "It will be a consolation to you. How far was the count a stranger to the crime at La Jonchere? Although doubting Albert's paternity." replied the old man. This uncertainty made him very uneasy. "yes. by every means. Was he not the man to suppress. could not conceal a feeling of displeasure. is disposed to doubt everything. You will have a son worthy of his ancestors." continued M. "and I am entirely ignorant of all that has occurred. "Yes. "to learn that M. "Sir." said he. I only know that justice would not proceed without good cause against a man of Albert's rank. and hesitates as to his answers. no one of your family has disgraced it.

the painful examination. and rising.--"yes. without replying directly. "here I have offended him now! Is this the way to do things. having neither his usual calmness nor foresight. would be broken off by this blow. evidently offended. reason to think him innocent?" M."Sir. then. so ardently looked forward to for two years. "the sentiments expressed by the viscount are very fine. He knew that he was troubled like a child." said he. declaring himself satisfied." resumed the count. then." This name fell like a thunderbolt upon the ears of the investigating magistrate. without doubt. sir. by showing him that his marriage. count. to your memory. Albert began to set a trap to discover the truth. and try to repeat his own words as nearly as possible." . if he is not guilty. but did he not mention Widow Lerouge?" "Yes. "Yesterday. He renewed. Appeal. He began to understand the difficult duty with which he was charged. as by the remembrance of some unnoticed circumstances. to hide his emotion. "have you. Albert dared to oppose me. Why had he undertaken this investigation? Could he preserve himself quite free from bias? Did he think his will would be perfectly impartial? Gladly would he put off to another time the further examination of the count. cost what it might." "Precisely. Noel Gerdy not having obtained the complete correspondence. All my efforts to convert him to my views were useless. "Albert is a hero. I again attempted to shake him. then." said the count. He jumped in his chair. An animated discussion arose between us. said: "I am now no more a witness for. on the other hand. than I was a moment ago a witness against." replied the count. he took up a large bundle of papers from his table. Mademoiselle d'Arlange. aside from the question of duty. but could he? His conscience told him that this would be another blunder. Daburon's spite was so plainly visible in the tone of his words that M. I beseech you. in accordance with my duty. "Sir. and.--for he still had doubts. de Commarin could and ought to have seen the semblance of an insult. Feeling that his face was turning crimson." "Ah!" said the magistrate quickly. who appeared suddenly to brighten. Daburon to himself. I desire only to render what assistance I can to justice. He replied that he felt sure of the constancy of his betrothed. was resolved to compromise the matter. if I would consent to allow him a modest competence. certainly. He started. I. after having spoken to me of these cursed letters." said M." "It will be necessary. making mistake after mistake?" "The facts are these. He felt that he might commit the most serious blunders. he raised them to his face. Gerdy impossible." "He must have shown you that this woman's testimony rendered a struggle with M. Vainly I tried to touch those chords in his breast which I supposed the most sensitive. for you to repeat to me very exactly all that passed between the viscount and yourself. and. He declared his resolution to give way to Noel." "Confound it. as though trying to decipher an illegible word. it was upon that that he based his refusal to follow my wishes. He firmly repeated his intention to retire in spite of me.

who would boldly deny everything. while telling his story. What refinement of execution! What excessive care for details! Nothing is wanting. Viscount Albert played a part previously arranged. but I should have to see her again. de Commarin. as an impostor and forger. in an undertone to the magistrate. even to the most insignificant details. His blood. I must ask permission to leave you at once. arrived at the same ideas as the magistrate. He could thus make a merit of his compliance." It was a strange coincidence. As his story advanced. To his inconceivable boldness. alive with clearness and precision. And. He would of course raise objections. In fact. who carried under his arm a black shagreen portfolio. and gained time. and would ask a reward for his weakness. not even the great devotion of his betrothed. His discussion with the count was his plank of safety. Poor child! to love such a man! But his plan is now fully exposed. Daburon's conviction became more confirmed. The advocate bowed to the old gentleman. in the scene which you have just related to me. as Madame Gerdy's condition grows hourly more alarming. The scene of the previous evening was admirably presented to his memory. he had said to his son. His brain cleared itself. he would find himself in presence of the count. since they would only end by binding him the more firmly in his father's heart. When the count had ceased speaking." said Noel. "you will find all the letters in this portfolio. Daburon said: "I thank you. that M. How well everything was foreseen and arranged? How marvellously this scene with his father was brought about. but justice has weighty reasons to believe that. excited by the persistence of the examination. de Commarin could do so without much difficulty. sir. moved in its accustomed course. to speak to her. this young man joins an infernal cleverness. "Sir. why that persistence with respect to Claudine? He remembered plainly." That great disinterestedness was now explained. For some little time. a salutary reaction had taken place within him. M. who in his turn rose and retired politely to the end of the room. "Mankind is not in the habit of doing such fine actions for its own satisfaction. ornamented with his monogram. The magistrate turned against Albert precisely that which the day before had won the count's admiration." "And well arranged. It is a miracle that we are able to unmask him. M. I can say nothing positive. he saw again his expressive gestures." . in his anger. It committed him to nothing. which does not tend to ward off suspicion. and at conclusions almost identical. politely refuse to have anything to do with him and would possibly have him driven out of the house. in order to procure doubt in case of discovery? There is not a sentence which lacks a purpose. "for he deceived me!" He was interrupted by the entrance of Noel. The genius of crime itself inspires him. that. "What wonderful acting!" thought he. but yet easily explained.M. "Tabaret is decidedly possessed of second sight. The sound of Albert's voice was still in his ears. Has he really informed Claire? Probably I might find out." murmured the count. when Noel returned to the charge.

but in reality examining one another with mutual distrust." he added. Unconsciously. he could not have heard. which to unpractised ears was unintelligible." he stammered. and the count heard them. apparently deep in thought. The count would open his arms: Noel would throw himself into them. on his side. At . The coldness of the one. "M. Then addressing the magistrate he said: "Can I be of any further use to you. Constant. "and to sign it if you find everything correct. to be complete. M. each striving to gather something of the other's thoughts." M." replied M. which he had been awaiting ever since the count's arrival. de Commarin was probably expecting some scene of this kind: for not a muscle of his face moved: he remained perfectly calm. and made a great effort to restrain the question which leaped from his heart to his lips. all at a stretch. Gerdy was your legitimate son. father and son. led him to the count. He started. taking the advocate by the hand. Noel. The tall clerk turned half round on his chair and commenced. stood face to face. He had a peculiar way of jabbering over what he had scrawled. ventured to speak first. he took a breath. and was obliged to seek support from the back of a chair. and this reconciliation would only await the sanction of the tribunals. was like a man who had received a blow on the head. "Count. "I have the honour of presenting to you M. summoning all his courage.Noel had raised his voice a little. my dear sir." M. You can proceed. "You must however give me a moment. "remember that it was only a few minutes ago that you admitted that M. When he could go on no longer. he reminded one of a diver. and then continued as before." said he. He therefore thought it necessary to intervene. de Commarin made no reply. without paying the least attention to either full stops or commas." replied the magistrate. M. and. Noel Gerdy. Daburon had augured better results from this meeting. Noel was the only one to listen attentively to the reading. Daburon then quitted his chair. questions or replies." interrupted the haughty old man.--"Sir. He had expected that this abrupt presentation would bring about an intensely pathetic scene. which would not give his two witnesses time for reflection. Then these two. Daburon. de Commarin. but went on reading as long as his breath lasted. disconcerted his plans. to judge from his lack of emotion. the embarrassment of the other. "I entertain no--" "You may call me father. in a tone which was by no means affectionate. in pronouncing these last words. So Noel. It apprised him of many things which it was important for him to know. who every now and then raises his head above water. and disappears again." said he reproachfully. He read very quickly. he staggered. sir?" "Only to hear your evidence read over. obtains a supply of air.

He did not leave his study on that day. and explained." But he had no time to give way to his thoughts." emphasizing the word. reconciling them and putting them in order. commented upon. the advocate took short steps. The old nobleman then turned towards Noel. His face brightened. Daburon was able to follow his prisoner hour by hour from the Sunday morning. and he had still to receive the evidence of several of the count's servants. They were going slowly. The day will not be entirely a bad one. and examined separately. my son. and a very thin fillet of . When they were gone. "In testimony whereof. but the slightest of which may. From morn till night he is the point of observation for thirty pairs of eyes. By combining these depositions. He hastened to the door. Then he returned to his seat. become a question of life or death. and all his movements were marked with the greatest solicitude. were reported. The magistrate obtained. M. but had his dinner brought up to him. therefore.--only some soup. as he passed the count's arm through his own. M. Not one of his acts escapes their notice: he can scarcely have a secret of his own. Daburon could not resist a impulse of curiosity. heaving a deep sigh. or very unwell. and. "I am not very strong. He wished to interrogate Albert as soon as possible. he looked out into the passage. his most insignificant movements." The young advocate advanced eagerly. "I have helped to make one person happy. The man who lives in the midst of thirty servants is like an insect in a glass box under the magnifying glass of a naturalist. Albert's conduct since the beginning of the fatal week. the viscount gave orders that all visitors should be informed that he had gone into the country. Directly Noel left. They had but little information to give. which he opened slightly. The count seemed to drag heavily and painfully along. He handed the pen to the count. they at least know that he has one. bending slightly towards his father. He ate very little. that he was very much annoyed. at the trial. "help your father to his carriage. an abundance of those frivolous details which seem nothing at first." he said." etc.last Constant pronounced the words. keeping his body in the background that he might not himself be seen. interested in studying the slightest changes in his countenance." thought he. The magistrate remained watching them until they passed out of sight at the end of the gallery. if they cannot divine what it is. "you must therefore. It was easy to see that all believed their master guilty.. "At least. and the report of the commissary of police charged with the arrest. the hours flew by so quickly. From that moment. which end all official reports in France. his least words. The count and Noel had not yet reached the end. The servants who had been waiting their turn a long while were now brought in without delay. and. the whole household perceived that something had gone wrong with him. but the testimony of each was so to say a fresh accusation. who signed without hesitation.

He breakfasted with a good appetite. and remained shut up in his room." He did not breakfast any more than the day before. and opened it hastily. He was then near the flower-garden. he said to M. and at once dismissed his valet. A second letter. "She cannot resist. Albert only took a little soup. the governess. the viscount went out on foot. de Courtivois and the Marquis de Chouze. He took. a messenger arrived with a letter. "You had better consult the count upon his return. containing two thousand franc notes. and burnt the letter in the large stove in the hall. in a furious manner. or impatiently awaiting something which did not arrive. with an air of sadness. the valet was struck with the condition in which he found his master's clothes. He replied. He passed the afternoon in the library. saying. and the butler noticed that he was in excellent spirits. in future. Lubin." He returned to the house. M. About one o'clock. according to Joseph and two footmen. and amuse yourselves. the butler: "Remind the cook to spice the sauce a little more. his valet.sole with white wine. but he declined. in spite of all orders." Shortly afterwards he began writing. as though he were in great trouble. As he was sitting down to dinner. insisted upon seeing him. he did not get up until noon. While eating. The viscount took it. "I must make up my mind. He complained of a violent headache. "Go. While taking his coffee. but almost immediately countermanded the order. the gardener asked his advice concerning a lawn." He expressly warned them not to disturb him unless he rang. Stroking her neck. with orders to deliver it only to herself or to Mademoiselle Schmidt. These gentlemen were anxious for him to join them in some pleasure party. he said. . or at eight according to the Swiss porter and Lubin. who had waited up for him. Joseph no longer remembered the name of the person to whom the letter was addressed. At dinner he ate a little more than on the previous days." He appeared to be much better all that day. saying that he had a very important appointment." and a few moments later. the whole of which he drank himself. He even asked the butler for a bottle of Chateau-Lafitte. He then gave Lubin a letter to carry to Mademoiselle Claire d'Arlange. Norma. however a cup of tea. On his going into the garden. contrary to the rules of the house. He wandered about the house. ready to be given away. and of feeling sick. at six o'clock. "Throw the old things in a corner. He returned home at two o'clock in the morning. He ordered his brougham. was intrusted to Joseph. heard him say: "I am hesitating too much. At half-past seven. "Ah! to what purpose?" In the evening he dismissed his servants from all duties. "Poor creature! poor old girl!" At three o'clock. taking an umbrella with him. On entering the viscount's room on the Wednesday. he went down to stables. Contois. and caressed. his favorite mare. and burnt a pile of papers. On the Monday. but it was not a person of title. although usually an early riser." and then added in a low tone. Two footmen distinctly heard him say. Albert replied. two of his friends. and stained with mud. He rose early on the Tuesday. They were wet. They would not be refused. He ventured to make a remark about them. to be taken to the viscount's club. he smoked a cigar in the dining room. the trousers were torn. That evening.

Lubin wanted to run for the doctor: he forbade him to do so. The difficulty was. The turn of the commissary of police had now come. Daburon had no more than sufficient time to examine the prisoner before night. He soon appeared. From all they said. it seemed to him like the will of Providence. he went to his room looking extremely ill. Though well aware of the importance of their testimony. All the while that he was eating and drinking. or to mention to any one that he was not well. Lubin. after his interview with his father. was not one of these. He did not forget to mention the one word "Lost. Such was the substance of twenty large pages. Everything that followed appeared to him to float indistinctly in a thick mist. Two were greatly distressed. He then placed all these material proofs upon his table. "I am about to appear before the Viscount de Commarin. like those dream-scenes represented on the stage behind a quadruple curtain of gauze. . "In the name of the law I arrest you. The magistrate carefully examined these things.--easily served. his thoughts kept repeating this strange sentence. at this moment. and he sent hastily for a bottle of wine and some biscuits. without once turning his head to look at the witnesses who passed by in their fine livery. but." said he to himself. He now remembered that he had tasted nothing since morning. it appeared that Albert was a very good master. Daburon managed to obtain this evidence in less than two hours. CHAPTER XII. more than ever. He was scarcely able to go and meet the count. Wonderful to relate! there were found only three among them who did not appear perfectly delighted at the misfortune which had befallen the family. M." And immediately he gave the necessary orders for Viscount Albert to be brought before him. it was a confession. was a long time in recovering its equilibrium. In a few words. completely upset. and M. Albert scarcely noticed his removal from home to the seclusion of the prison. The day was far advanced. "this is my punishment. he again seemed very unwell." which had escaped Albert. That evening. kind and polite to his servants. he gave an account of the arrest. "So be it. M. all these servants were very voluble. he would have laughed at the absurdity of the idea. He then delivered all the articles seized in the Viscount de Commarin's apartments. which the tall clerk had covered with writing. to stop them when they had once started. saying. and compared them closely with the scraps of evidence gathered at La Jonchere. It was not strength. to his mind." his mind. it was courage. and covered them over with three or four large sheets of paper. already described by old Tabaret.On the Thursday. that the magistrate needed. satisfied with the course he had taken." At any other time. although he had been an object of especial kindness. however. Snatched away from his painful thoughts by the harsh voice of the commissary.

these rough hands passing all over his body brought him somewhat to himself. But it was already over. which followed every jolt. It seemed to him that he had forever escaped from society. which together or successively had helped to cheer the maiden's lonely hours. A profound silence reigned around. he gave himself up with delight to recollections of Claire. stood at her garden gate: she spoke beseechingly. He wanted to sit down. refused their support. and roused his anger. harsh voices. which bent beneath him. He immediately felt a marked sensation of comfort. and whilst replying mechanically to everything. He was alone. His body. He thought of Widow Lerouge. No more stifled whispers. On all the dining-room furniture. and they placed him on the back seat. Some were grotesque. His limbs. greasy vehicle. but even that he soon forgot. when he perceived a small bed. It was in the spring-time. scarcely allayed by the worn-out springs. He recalled her as she was when he went with his father to La Jonchere. One especially. He was a prisoner. He would have felt relieved. was weighed down with weariness. This bed was as . He lay perfectly motionless in the dirty. taking some gold from his purse. the same way as they had lifted him in at starting. Two police agents installed themselves in front of him while a third mounted the box by the side of the driver. he gave it to her. rather ashamed at finding itself in such a place. Two police agents took hold of his arms. then. The old woman. This crowning humiliation. and. to the right. stinking record office. in front of the grated window. in solitary confinement. During the formality of entering his name in the jail-book in the dingy. They lifted him into the cab. On arriving at their destination they lifted him out of the cab. They opened a door. She loved to relate stories of these pets whose affection had never failed her. in accordance with special orders. as well as his mind. without knowing what he said. This old maid had a house on the left bank of the Seine furnished in the most eccentric manner. During the drive. which let in the little light there was. implacable questions.To the questions put to him he replied. slippery floor. when he doubted whether he would ever have the happiness of being loved by her in return. were placed a dozen or fifteen stuffed dogs. others horrible. and helped him down the stairs. He could not have walked down alone. outrageously stuffed seemed ready to burst. over the filthy. He went back to the time of the early days of their love. and he rejoiced at it. when they used to meet at Mademoiselle Goello's. How many times he and Claire had laughed at it until the tears came! The officials next began to search him. and they at once dragged him along the dark corridors. The count looked sternly at her as he listened. and the hawthorn blossoms scented the air. as if the muse of his neck were broken. He then heard them lock and bolt the door. in a white cap. The only thing he understood of all that was said around him was that the count had been struck with apoplexy. rolled from one side to the other and his head oscillated on his shoulders. sounded in his ears. and pushed him into a small cell. he did not at all realize his situation. which was waiting in the court-yard at the foot of the steps. His body. and on the mantel-piece. had this even been the silence of the grave. of various breeds.

in place of marrow. In the corridor. one would say he has gone to sleep! What a joke!" "I tell you. If you only possessed an income of ten thousand francs. everything is preferable." replied the other. ha! M. It is ruin. He felt a desire to call out. watching every movement of the prisoner. pointedly. to be questioned. and that quiets him. On awaking his head seemed clearer than it had been ever since his interview with Noel. Now he knows that his secret is out. that one feels relieved. "that nothing is more natural. But this hours. I would show you a way to prove this. he ought to remain honest. one would think that you yourself had had just such an experience. and lies down. and lay down with delight. M. This anxiety is so strong. but then the anxiety is over. Balan." "Ha. "it spades. so he unfolded the coarse woollen coverlid. even when one has lost. my unhappy love. Balan. eh." "Ah! look he arranges his bed. to explain. applied alternately their eyes and ears to the peep-hole in the door. "If a man has no more nerve than that." "Alas!" sighed the old detective." "Upon my word. remember." is to my love for the queen of the honour of looking through fellow will sleep for a couple of going to smoke a cigarette in the Albert slept four hours. the other rather old. "I require all my courage. that you owe this peephole in my company. "We must wait and see.welcome to him as a plank would be to a drowning man. "Now. as though molten lead was being poured into your bones. All rascals of position--and I have had to do with more than one--are this sort. Balan?" "That depends." said he. this young fellow has hardly lived: his body has been all on fire. indeed. two detectives. Can he be going to sleep? That's good! It's the first time I ever saw such a thing. There is no greater punishment. they are incapable of anything. one still young. for the first time he became fully aware of his situation. You could relate to me. afterwards. my friend. I am courtyard. their heart fails them. one breathes again. do not lose sight of him. what your feelings were while the ball was rolling. when. was soon sound asleep. . since the blow was struck. comrade. I am sure that. It was a terrible moment for him." "It is because. Lecoq told me that he was a terrible rascal." "Really. my boy. you have only had dealings with the smaller rogues. to speak. but he felt cold. "What a fellow he is!" murmured the younger officer. and wrapping it about him. M. but they recover themselves next day. as though your brain was being torn with pincers. At the moment of arrest. He won't care much about his looks the morning of his execution. than anxiety. It is." added the old man." He longed to see some one. you are joking: you say that that quiets him?" "Certainly. I would tell you to go to Hamburg and risk your entire fortune on one chance at rouge et noir. He threw himself upon it.

they were treating him like the most abandoned of villains. "honour. awaiting the prisoner." reached the ears of the two spies. "Curse this absurd point of honour. which almost always escape from the feeble when excited by fear. "that he was only staggered. his elbows on his knees. to see what time it was. as they entered. the 'Gazette des Tribunaux. I was wrong in not withdrawing. Daburon was just then in great anguish. "Good!" murmured the young detective: "see how our cock sticks up his comb. he filled and drank two large glassfuls of water in succession. and took a few steps towards them. "Some one will be coming soon. and. And." He looked for his watch. he followed the gendarmes along the passage which led to the Palais de Justice. Then pouring a little water on his handkerchief. He asked for a moment."But what good would that be?" he asked himself. he regretted having engaged in the business. which I have obeyed. and. he passed it over his face. with a firm step. when an almost insensible pressure would have sufficed to kill him? I cannot say. and it is no less true. getting up. One word alone. Again." he inwardly exclaimed. mouths. M. that at one time I longed to assassinate him. . He had no idea that four lynx eyes were fixed upon him all the while. He thought now of his personal appearance. And it is under such conditions that I dare examine him!" Passing before the door he heard the heavy footsteps of the gendarmes in the passage. they found him seated on the side of his bed. I believe. and re-tied his cravat. Nothing in the world can change my feelings towards this young man. Hush! he is speaking. Why is not he the judge." put in Balan. and his head buried in his hands. He walked furiously up and down his office. I ought to be guillotined. he straightened his collar. but his throat was so dry that he was scarcely able to speak." But they neither surprised one of those disordered gestures nor one of those incoherent speeches. I faced him with a revolver in my hand: why did I not present it and fire? Do I know why? What power held my finger." When the gendarmes came to conduct Albert before the investigating magistrate. and dusted them. "These rascals of rank." grumbled Balan.' on. and smooths his feathers! "I told you. bathing his eyes which were greatly inflamed. Then he endeavoured to smooth his beard and hair. He put his clothes in order. he repaired as much as possible the disorder of his toilet. and found that they had taken it away. who read They only think of their own heads later "always have this word in their opinion of some dozen friends. turning towards the little table. or from the imprudent ones who believe in the discretion of their cells. I the assassin? If the intention was as punishable as the deed. I am his judge. He felt this deeply. He felt in his pockets: they had all been carefully emptied. I hate him. "I have in vain attempted to reassure myself by the aid of sophisms. and for the twentieth time since morning. "I am ready!" he then said. He rose. That which they most fear is the and several thousand strangers. his feet pressed upon the iron rail.

the count. but his eyes were clear and sparkling. sir." "What were your feelings upon learning this?" "I should speak falsely. Noel Gerdy's rights. Daburon an opportunity to recover himself. and still purpose. and which he was unable to rectify. I always purposed. de Commarin. to do away with the only existing proof. reduced consequently to the most absolute helplessness. he had found time in the morning to prepare a plan. terribly emphasised. "justice supposes that."It is he. at this moment. "with any chance of success. I never for a moment entertained the thought of contesting M. "Can crime be so strong as this?" . he would have noticed the singular spectacle of an investigating magistrate more agitated than the prisoner he was about to examine. you have assassinated Widow Lerouge. as though striving to hide himself. But he was blind to all around him. to yield. he was only aware of an error of fifteen centimes. I know further that my father would be unable to recognise me. Did it not enter into the line of defence which he had foreseen? It was now his duty to seek some way of demolishing this defence. "Before God. When one is in the high position I occupied. and. which had slipped into his accounts." continued the magistrate." M. His features bore traces of great fatigue and of sleepless nights." "Now. and it only strengthened his suspicions. I swear to you. You had." he answered. in which the prisoner evidently meant to shut himself up like a tortoise in its shell." continued the magistrate. even if he wished to. He preserved the same firm bearing. if I said I did not feel very bitterly. seeking to hide the look which he fastened upon Albert." This terrible accusation. but M. since I was born during his married life. I have so informed M. "You are aware." replied Albert. bending over his portfolios. without bravado. "that I am the natural son of M. which he had now simply to follow. "that you have no right to the name you bear?" "I know. Gerdy. without communication with the outer world. sir. Daburon expected just such a reply. It is through your probity that I hope to demonstrate my innocence. sir." "I have never doubted that. sir. that of Widow Lerouge." he commenced in a tone of perfect politeness. "You could not oppose M. and your mother. the fall is terrible. sir." "What an actor!" thought the magistrate. Gerdy was in possession of evidence that was certain to win his cause. that I am innocent! I am at this moment a close prisoner. Albert entered the magistrate's office with his head erect. "and by all that is most sacred on earth. Fortunately. He was very pale. caused no change in Albert's features. The usual questions which open such examinations gave M." he said aloud and then hastily seated himself at his table. de Commarin. If the tall clerk had used his eyes. indeed on your side. However.

you cried out. "appear to have had the greatest interest in this death. My body bent under the weight of a burden too great for my strength." His explanation was more than plausible. how could the doctor cure my disease? All his science could not make me the legitimate son of the Count de Commarin. But what matters the number of visits?" "Do you recollect the arrangements of the rooms? Can you describe them?" "Perfectly. reading certain passages of the preceding depositions. 'Who was most interested in Claudine's death?' And the knowledge of my imminent peril forced from me the exclamation you speak of. Then suddenly he resumed. I was overwhelmed with consternation. sir. its probability. We know. I understood the weight of the accusation. when he said that they would not easily make the prisoner confess. do you think she would have let you in?" "Certainly. Lubin. however. "When you were arrested. If you had knocked one evening at her window-shutter. The things thrown into the Seine have been recovered. sir." "One of your coachmen pretends to have driven you there at least ten times. to say the least. for want of courage. of anticipating the axiom. to call in the doctor?" "Ah. sir? Nothing. A voice cried out to me. that all the widow's papers were burnt." replied Albert. as it were. also. Claudine slept in the back room. I perceived all the horror of my situation.' what did you mean by that?" "Sir. It was not. It had the advantage. too. sir: there were two. Could they compromise any one but yourself? If you know of any one. Daburon admired Albert's presence of mind." . speak. was possible. "You do indeed." "Have you often gone to see this woman?" "Three or four times with my father." "The man is mistaken. and eagerly." "You have been unwell these last few days?" "Very unwell. M. "I remember having uttered those words. When I knew of what crime I was accused. I will inform you that robbery was not the object of the crime. sir. and even likely.He glanced over his papers. enlightened by a glimpse of the future. My mind was. In a moment." "You were in no way a stranger to Widow Lerouge. and the resources of his perverse imagination. "Search out the one whom the crime will benefit!" Tabaret had spoken truly. turning down the corners of certain pages which contained important information." "Why did you forbid your valet." "What can I answer." continued the magistrate. Moreover. and the difficulties I should have in defending myself. 'I am lost.

was the last of the carnival." "I had no plans." "That evening. His glance. "Sir. which had. as usual." "That was only a polite way of getting rid of them." answered Albert." "I had decided to leave the count. "where did you dine?" "At home. You destroyed a large number of papers and letters." he stammered." "Oh. that you had a very important engagement to keep. but this is about Tuesday. and then added aloud." "No. His voice. and at a certain hour." thought the magistrate. repeating the phrase to gain time. With so cunning an adversary. which was very pleasant to the ear. "During Tuesday evening. till then. That circumstance ought to help your memory. It concealed no emotion. I could understand your hesitation. At the end of your meal. it retained its pure and vibrating sound. on a certain evening. and it is now Friday. without the least embarrassment. it was Shrove Tuesday." "Why?" . You seemed to be no longer interested in anything concerning your home. You doubtless had need of some extra excitement for your subsequent plans. abruptly." "I am afraid. Daburon deemed it wise to suspend the examination for a short time. he was evidently pursuing a false course. he neither intimidated the prisoner. sir. "it will be difficult for me to satisfy you. "You make a mistake. You replied to them. been fixed upon the magistrate. this day. To proceed in detail was folly. starting with joy. before sitting down to dinner." murmured Albert. Two friends came to seek you. and in a confident tone. wavered. so close. "yes. "I have him. "tell me exactly how you passed your time last Tuesday evening. "If I had asked what you were doing three months ago. "Now. It was necessary to take him unawares. you asked for a bottle of Bordeaux. not as usual. Moreover. Albert seemed disconcerted."Some very singular remarks made by you were overheard. from six o'clock until midnight." continued the magistrate." resumed the magistrate. from six o'clock until midnight?" For the first time. I went out walking. M. did not tremble. of which you drank the whole. I haven't a very good memory. nor made him break through his reserve." replied the prisoner with very evident uneasiness. don't tell me that!" interrupted the magistrate. sir." Albert replied promptly to the magistrate's questions. My resolution explains my conduct.

" "Sir. which scarcely gave him time to breathe. sir? I was resigned. Daburon was sure that this letter came from Mademoiselle d'Arlange. that you might go to La Jonchere." . you said. Why? Had this subtle villain something better than that? What artful defence had he to fall back upon? Doubtless he kept in reserve some unforeseen stroke. I was learning to get accustomed to the terrible blow. just as though Tabaret were infallible. leaning over his papers. but not comforted. He was giddy. with her letter still in my hands." Albert gave this last answer in a dry tone. which always aroused such painful emotions within him? He ventured to do so. After dinner what did you do?" "I went out for a walk. The magistrate's questions fell upon him more thickly than the blows of the blacksmith's hammer upon the red-hot iron which he is anxious to beat into shape before it cools." "This precaution leads one to suppose that you considered the letter compromising. "Gently. it treated entirely of private matters. "I will not conceal from you that your position is greatly compromised. not those of others. flurried. "I have not got him yet. yes. You are here to tell everything. "From one whom I can not name. and who had replied to me. Should he nevertheless ask the question." Then he quickly added aloud: "Continue. sir. sir." "Not at all. and this _alibi_ was not forthcoming. Do not aggravate it by this culpable reticence. so that the prisoner could not detect his emotion." "My own affairs. then. exasperated.' Of whom were you speaking?" "Of some one to whom I had written the evening before."Can you not understand. He was further extremely surprised to find the discernment of the old detective at fault." "What have you done with it?" "I have burnt it. I spoke the words." "This letter was. 'She can not resist me. The apparent rebellion of his prisoner troubled M. by the prying and irritating mode of the examination. "From whom did this letter come?" he asked. and again hear pronounced the name of Claire." said the magistrate severely." thought the magistrate. perhaps irresistible." M. Daburon a great deal. Would not one seek solitude in the great crisis of one's life?" "The prosecution pretends that you wished to be left alone. Tabaret had predicted an unexceptionable _alibi_. from a woman?" "Yes. During the day.

to drive away the torpor which had depressed me for three days. not even a cafe or a theatre. who. "So. which was so unusual as to be noticed. Daburon.--" "All that is very improbable. much surprised at this series of questions. and his previous hesitations." "Now trace out your wanderings for me very carefully. however. "you met absolutely no one who can affirm that he saw you? You did not speak to a living soul? You entered no place. all the evening?" "Yes."Not immediately. except that he had not paid attention. sir." replied Albert. that Widow Lerouge was . and did not know? But he had forgotten this. I walked about at hazard along the quays. He enjoyed the emotions of the struggle." "Where did you go?" "I walked about." "Did you carry an umbrella?" "Yes. As the inquiry advanced. his passion for his calling became stronger than ever." "Do you not use a cigar-holder. to keep your lips from contact with the tobacco?" "Yes. the fever of investigation took possession of him." "Ah. without any object. had all vanished. and. had some one asked him next morning where he had been. "At what time did you go out?" "About eight o'clock. for the sake of exercise. it is a great misfortune for you. Had not he himself. knew that it was at least possible. in a similar condition. too. I wandered through the streets. yes. He was again an investigating magistrate. one night. like the fencing master. you smoked a cigar in the dining-room." interrupted the magistrate. became excited by the clash of the weapons. for I must inform you." resumed M. or a tobacconist's to light one of your favourite trabucos?" "No. sir. What kind of cigars do you usually smoke?" "Trabucos. between eight o'clock and midnight. that it was precisely during this Tuesday evening. forgetting himself. The bottle emptied. sir. I don't know whether you can picture to yourself my exact condition. traversed all Paris? What reply could he have made. a very great misfortune." "Alone." "Well. I was half out of my mind. sir. killed him. M. once practising with his dearest friend. that is very difficult to do! I went out simply to walk about. Daburon.

too. my valet. This plaster was poured into the hollow left by the heel: you observe that it is. Only he had been taken unawares. Are they alike. similar in shape to the heels of your own boots. sir. I recommend you to reflect." "Well.--to make a strong appeal to your memory. not an _alibi_? Nothing? This could be no snare nor system of defence. I will place one of your boots upon it and the sole. and cannot find it. He raised his hand to his forehead with a despairing gesture. However he replied in a calm voice. He had never imagined it possible for the accusation to fall upon him." "He will be heard. He declares that he has hunted for it. one by one." "I beseech you. in your own interest. "We will pass. "yet listen further." "Exactly. Who broke it?" "I. Daburon's surprise was immense. I must tell you that the victim received the fatal blow from the sharpened end of a broken foil. It was plain that he was struggling against a growing terror." "Orders shall be given to that effect. fits the tracing with the utmost precision. Daburon. is a proof of what I state. here is the exact imprint of the murderer's foot traced on this sheet of paper. and it was almost by a miracle it had done so. as you perceive. on which the assassin wiped his weapon. then. To all the magistrate's remarks. he answered in a low voice. Was. The criminal had an umbrella. Look at this clod of clay. "to the examination of the charges which weigh against you. Was he attacked by that fright which overpowers the guilty when they see themselves on the point of being confounded. this man as cunning as he had imagined? Doubtless." M. to order a most minute search to be made. they are all mine. Will you please come nearer? Do you recognize these articles as belonging to yourself?" "Yes.--"It is true--perfectly true. The magistrate slowly raised. It is impossible that the other half of the foil is not to be found. take this foil. or not?" ." he continued. in all respects. What." "That is so. which appears in both." continued M." This pointing out of the exact day and hour of the murder seemed to astound Albert. before attempting to defend yourself. Where is the broken end?" "I do not know.--"I am very unfortunate. in fencing with M. sir. I perceive. sir. Compare the rounds. de Courtivois. sir: but I can recollect nothing. was found moulded in the clay. sir. Look. the round of wood which is placed at the end of the silk. Again. the mark of a peg. You must ask Lubin. Justice can point out the exact hour.assassinated. This piece of stuff. and now look at your umbrella. the large pieces of paper that covered the articles seized in Albert's rooms. who can bear witness to it. The end of this umbrella sank in the clayey soil. raised with the utmost care." Albert followed with marked anxiety every movement of the magistrate.

besides the mud on them. His hands trembled so much that they were of no use to him. sir!" cried the prisoner. my duty. too. Compare these pieces of kid with your own gloves." M. He fell heavily into a chair. Albert was terrified. While appearing to occupy himself solely with the objects lying upon his table. seized his hands. Do they not correspond? Are they not of the same colour. and are here. The victim." insisted the magistrate. In a chilling voice he kept repeating: "It is horrible. The evidence was there. A cold perspiration bathed his temples. They are of a lavender colour. His brain whirled. sir. "to supply your . we will pass over that proof. are they not? Now. or seek subterfuges. restraining himself. The assassin wore gloves. and was smoked in a cigar-holder." "Then tell me where you passed Tuesday evening." attempted Albert. pointing to the cigars and the amber and meerschaum-holders found in the viscount's library. and glided drop by drop down his cheeks. with a shade of irony. Daburon did not lose sight of the prisoner. M. as yet." "Ah." protested Albert. Daburon rose. horrible!" "Finally. "that I am the victim of one of those terrible fatalities which make men doubt the evidence of their reason. They. "It is. "are manufactured in large quantities. exclaiming. that is nothing. whose gaze had become firmly fixed upon the prisoner." "Well. Look at this cigar end. I am innocent. It is plain that not long ago they were very wet. found on the scene of the crime. having now reached his grand stroke. but who would believe that you do not know when you tore your trousers and how you frayed your gloves?" What courage could resist such assaults? Albert's firmness and energy were at an end. and it was irrefutable. then." "Like these?" persisted the magistrate. for the moment that you might not remember where you went on that evening. "do you admit that Widow Lerouge could only have been stabbed by you?" "I admit. and they are frayed." pursued the inexorable magistrate. and some pieces of kid remained in her nails. "I have made the only answer that I can make." said he. "here are the trousers you wore on the evening of the murder. he added in a faint voice." "It is a trabucos. the same skin?" It was useless to deny it. in the death struggle." "Patience. here are the gloves which you wore on Tuesday. "I should have to--" But. These have been preserved. Besides that they are torn at the knees. and. there are traces of earth. "Yes!" murmured Albert. are lavender. and how it was smoked. We will admit. and tell me of what brand it is. "it is a fatality--a strange coincidence. equivocate.--"It is enough to drive me mad!" "Do you admit."These things.

I am going to remind you of where you went and what you did." "What do you mean?" asked the magistrate. overwhelming coincidences. while speaking." "But this is folly--" . "everything seems to prove me guilty. rolling to the bottom of a precipice. "Nothing but what I say. I should have spoken as you have done. fell little by little. At this very hour when to you I appear lost. Lazare station. even my own bearing before you. In your place. "And now. It is true. Daburon did not believe that his prisoner would still persist in asserting his innocence.--for I in no way deceive myself. after having obtained from the wine you drank. He imagined he would be overwhelmed and confounded. not disdaining to employ Tabaret's ideas. miraculous. you alighted at the station at Rueil. The prisoner's assurance. without the least hope of changing in any way your conviction. do you really--" began the magistrate.failure of memory. begging for mercy. Give in. I am overcome. impossible to sustain. told. the investigating magistrate repeated nearly word for word the tirade improvised the night before by the amateur detective. seek to deserve the indulgence of your judges. At nine o'clock. to admire the old fellow's penetration. My honour and my life are in the hands of God. just like the outer coating of a wall when riddled with bullets. like a man. and who feels a new and more painful bruise each time his body comes in contact with them.--I do not despair of a complete justification. He had every reason. my courage has been shaken by these incredible. Justice. you took the train at the St. his eloquence had never produced so striking an effect. "and I repeat it. everything." "Come now. rest assured. the dreadful energy you needed. Albert was. every word. yet all the same. sufficient strength to recover himself and again protest. found." And. On Tuesday evening at eight o'clock. "listen to good advice: do not persist in a system of denying. But I do not despair. already shaken. that he would throw himself at his feet." concluded the investigating magistrate. is ignorant of nothing which it is important to know. Believe me.--"You are right. But he was mistaken. Albert. but firm voice. sees every branch and every projecture which might retard his fall fail him. I await confidently. "I am innocent. who. because I feel the impossibility of proving my innocence." interrupted Albert. confess your guilt. Every sentence." "So you persist in denying your guilt?" "I am innocent. you left your home." he said in a sad. I swear to you that I am innocent. In all his life. in one last effort of his will. sir. everything speaks against me. Yes. as the magistrate perceived. At thirty-five minutes past eight. sir. in spite of his great prostration. sir." M.

confounded. "that is enough for to-day." He certainly no longer entertained the shadow of a doubt. and he arrived. which now occurred to him. and perhaps have forgotten him. which he ordinarily felt after he had successfully conducted an examination." "Very well. The old fellow. I have with my own hands opened an abyss! I have lost her a second time. stained with a crime. To him. Night will perhaps bring on a better feeling. He had just been informed of the termination of the inquiry." The unhappy man heaped the bitterest reproaches upon himself. calmed her regrets. He had triumphed. however. "Something told me. Her grief will be great. had confused him. that. Constant. Daburon did not experience that intense satisfaction. a true bill should not be found against him. "that I was wrong to undertake this business. and will then be taken back to solitary confinement. she might have been consoled. mixed with vanity. and full of the sweet hope of hearing of the fulfilment of his predictions. matured his decision. certain to be arrested. if you wish at any time to speak to me. Something disturbed and shocked him. I shall be an object of loathing to her: she will never be able to endure the sight of me. he felt ill at ease. increased his discontent. pain. and then who knows--? While now. It was a hundred to one. Daburon. send word.--that wretch. and full of stupid enthusiasm. stood in the way of his happiness. I could have reappeared before Claire. He was therefore certain of being committed for trial at the assizes. . He had never so hated Albert. tried. It was precisely this unfavorable moment that M. thought over the matter. whatever may happen. imprisoned. Albert was as surely the murderer as if he had admitted his guilt Even if he should persist in his system of denial to the end of the investigation."I am innocent. and vexation. and led him to do what he now so much regretted. Then. She could not have helped feeling grateful to me." When Albert had departed under the escort of the gendarmes. He would have waited. and probably condemned. that the jury would bring in a verdict of guilty. Left to himself. You may read now. You will hear the official report of your examination read. He was in despair." he muttered. the magistrate muttered in a low tone. and certainly have perceived the inconveniences." said M. being in no way connected with the trial. "There's an obstinate fellow for you. I ought to have declined to proceed with the investigation. A reflection so simple that he could hardly understand why it had not occurred to him at first. who. examined. swelling with curiosity. Then too he cursed old Tabaret! Alone. With time. I could have soothed her. and made him angry with himself. he would not have decided so quickly. At the bottom of his heart. with the proofs already in the possession of the police. all the same. and by my own fault. it was impossible. but his victory gave him only uneasiness. I exhort you to reflect. always carried away like a badly trained bloodhound. was. I will give orders to that effect. Tabaret chose for reappearing before the magistrate. The Viscount de Commarin. and I will come to you. M. and had succeeded in getting his prisoner into the same position as Albert. I am punished for not having obeyed that inner voice. As her friend. mingled my tears with hers. impatient to know what had passed. In her eyes I shall always be her lover's assassin.

"he has confessed nothing. Old Tabaret." replied the magistrate. which on his lips was equivalent to a paroxysm of laughter."What answers did he make?" he asked even before he had closed the door. with a harshness very different to his usual manner." said the magistrate impatiently." "Very well. This man is innocent. "I have been the involuntary cause of a terrible mistake. "Not an _alibi_. He acknowledges that the proofs are decisive: he cannot give an account of how he spent his time. Read this examination over carefully. M. Tabaret stood with his mouth wide open. leaning his elbows on the table. M. after all that you have read there." said he to the magistrate in a strange voice. and altogether in the most grotesque attitude his astonishment could effect. there is not a reply but which declares this unfortunate man innocent." said the old fellow with feverish anxiety. In spite of his anger. yes: it is because I have read this that I entreat you to pause. "No explanations? The idea! It is inconceivable! Not an _alibi_? We must then be mistaken: he cannot be the criminal. or else that he had gone mad. not a word but which ." shown that M. he in less than no time read the report through. who expected to receive praises by the basketful. Daburon could not help smiling." "No. When he had finished. How. "we are not mistaken. He sat down in Constant's chair. and read it over while I in order. was astounded at this tone! It was therefore." said M." cried the detective. de ask Constant for put these papers said he. and. "Sir. "no _alibi_? Pshaw! I ask pardon: he has of course then confessed everything." he said modestly. "to know if any investigations are necessary to demolish the _alibi_ pleaded by the prisoner. and his eyes staring wildly. but he protests his innocence. "Unfortunately. nothing?" murmured the old fellow." replied the magistrate. my dear M. dryly." In the centre of the room. "He is evidently guilty. and even Constant gave a grin. thrusting his hands in his hair. It is but too clearly Commarin is the murderer. Tabaret. with great hesitancy that he offered his further services. you can his report of the examination. can--" "Yes. or we shall add one more mistake to the sad list of judicial errors. "How. he arose with pale and distorted features. come." "He pleaded no _alibi_. Daburon. However. "you are going out of your mind. "I have come. He was literally thunderstruck." "Come. without stopping his preparations for departure. That is certain!" The investigating magistrate felt that the old amateur must have been waiting the result of the examination at the wine shop round the corner. if you like. sir.

I had them in quantities against Kaiser. one has laid hands upon an innocent person.--he whom we have missed catching. it must be all or nothing. and you think he would risk his safety by leaving an entire night unaccounted for? It's impossible! I am as sure of my system as of a sum that has been proved. He simply replies. no one understands you. Tabaret. Our man has failed in prudence. Now." the magistrate said to him: "you have but one fault." "No. and." interrupted the magistrate. replied: "You must then . It is not sufficient that such and such particulars seem to point to him. after the way you spoke last night. if you please. who then is it? His father. without a chance of escape. Proofs! Why." cried the old detective. but you have not grasped my method. proofs! There are always enough of those against an arrested man.--"My worthy M. the poor little tailor.--the true one. the most interested one. If a man is found to whom this plan applies exactly in every particular the author of the crime is found: otherwise. which I do not guarantee until it is entire and perfect. audacious. Albert has pleaded none. in this case. You err through an excess of subtlety. versed in the business. Reason and logic lead us to what? To a villain. "I still say precisely the same. sir. hastily. who--" "Well. I have more than sufficient proofs for that. you accord too freely to others the wonderful sagacity with which you yourself are endowed. The assassin has an _alibi_. a thousand times no. It is." "But. a plan of accusation. Daburon had arranged his papers. then he is innocent." M. 'It is terrible. and prudent. Besides." interrupted the magistrate. feared everything. My culprit. "It becomes you well to talk in this manner. wretched Tabaret! all is lost. And he is still in prison. and I have formed an idea of the worker. simply because he believed his rank would place him above suspicion. determined. What! this man is so skillful as to leave such feeble traces that they escape Gevrol's practised eye. This is infallible. however. no." "I can explain it very easily." M. how have I reached the culprit? Through proceeding by inference from the known to the unknown. as he prepared to leave. who committed the crime. when I hesitated so much. They existed against every innocent man who was ever condemned. very simple. does Albert defend himself? No. much as he would have looked at a remarkable monomaniac.throws out a ray of light. He is overwhelmed because he perceives coincidences so fatal that they appear to condemn him. And do you think that such a man would neglect a precaution that would not be omitted by the stupidest tyro? It is inconceivable.' And yet all through his examination I feel reticence that I cannot explain. He took up his hat. I construct. still in solitary confinement?" "He is. I have examined his work. sir. and I am as confident as though he had confessed everything. sir. Given a crime." "Ah. Does he try to excuse himself? No. bit by bit. Pardon me. and finished his preparations. with all the circumstances and details. and there he will remain. if I lack the respect due to you. Daburon surveyed the detective pityingly. Ah. "if it is not he. sir. When the old fellow had finished. the Count de Commarin?" "No: the true assassin is a young man.

It is I. I am rather tired to-night. I swear to you. Tabaret soon found himself locked out of the room and alone in the dark passage. important business: he must positively return home at once." He moved towards the door. and he shall pay dearly for my mistake. still leaning forward. ." said the old nobleman. look in at the record office. the scoundrel!" CHAPTER XIII. "Sir. The old man now turned to Constant. but M. "Constant. sir. Poor boy! But I will not abandon him. muttered some excuses. he bowed respectfully. addressing his clerk. Suppose he should commit suicide! There have been instances of wretched men. Come and see me by-and-by. thinking of his soup." Then he added. that at the same time you lose your independence. "You have found your father. To-morrow we will talk the whole matter over again. to find the real culprit. and it is I who have cast suspicion upon him. in a tone which admitted no reply. "Albert is innocent. After seeing the Count de Commarin safely in his carriage at the entrance of the Palais de Justice." said M." The carriage started. The advocate. and hurried out. He pushed old Tabaret quickly aside. who have infused into the obstinate spirit of this magistrate a conviction that I can no longer destroy. The old detective desperately tore his hair with both hands. Help me. This humility seemed to displease him greatly. in case the prisoner Commarin should wish to speak to me. Noel obeyed. So that M. I have ruined him: I will save him! I must. "Ah!" he exclaimed." repeated the count. "in the name of heaven listen to me! He is innocent. Resting one hand against the half-opened carriage door. I will find the culprit. He wished to convince him. he said.see that I am right. shall I have the honour of paying my respects to you?" "Come with me now. Sir." said the old man. which was getting cold. Tabaret. fool that I am. and make haste and get rid of all your foolish ideas. and only then did the count notice that Noel had very modestly seated himself opposite him. He had. think of your remorse should you cause an--" But the magistrate would not hear more. Lost trouble: the tall clerk hastened to put his things away. He is innocent and is yet enduring the most horrible anguish. de Commarin in a low tone. Noel Gerdy seemed inclined to leave him. "Come. Tabaret barred his exit. "but I must warn you. who in despair at being falsely accused have killed themselves in their cells. and said: "When. All the usual sounds of the Palais had ceased: the place was silent as the tomb. then. M.

others simply idiotic. it is true." "What a romance. . justice arrives. corrected. Noel's assistance. there was great commotion De Commarin mansion. when the countess who is now dead was out walking with her little son. Fortunately. "So. long ago. the ride gave him time to breathe. but occupied as little room as possible." said a cook. and that was enough to set fire to all these gossip-mongers. When the steps leading to the principal entrance. thirsting for scandal. Daburon. was greatly afraid of her husband." said the cook. when. "that tall dark fellow with the whiskers is the count's true son!" "You are right." exclaimed Jean. Since morning. He had been very much upset by his interview with M. for he retained none of his usual assurance. who happened to be passing. for the sole purpose of learning something positive. wrapped in mystery. very noble and still more proud. none of that exterior coolness by which he was accustomed to conceal his feelings. and yet details of the most minute character are already circulated about the streets. Nearly all bore marks of their calling. "How ever did it happen?" "Well. "are you not my son?" The advocate. not a the carriage stopped before and the count got out with among the servants. who was not over kind. who. without replying. and yet everybody pretended to be fully informed. "as for the other. As it was. On the way from the Palais de Justice to the word passed between the father and son. de Commarin. he is no more his son than Jean here. A young groom appeared with his wooden shoes filled with straw. supremely indifferent to the danger which threatened him. by the way. who was about six months old."Sit here by my side. talked over. Twenty people. the police are still ignorant of almost everything. took his seat by the side of the terrible old man. "Such things constantly occur in great families. There were. nearly all having been summoned to the Palais. the child was stolen by gypsies. They came from the garden. they were all assembled in the hall. The poor lady was full of grief. as if by enchantment. but above all. the stables. if he is caught in this part of the house with his dirty working-shoes on. had not been above sending their most intelligent servants to pay a little visit among the count's retainers. and to recover himself a little. one day. the unusual events at the De Commarin mansion had caused a great stir in society. nobody knew anything. shuffling about on the marble floor like a mangy dog on a Gobelin tapestry. but the count and the advocate had scarcely disappeared. One of them recognised Noel as the visitor of the previous Sunday. and added to by the ill-natured and malicious. few of them present. the cellar. and the kitchen. will be kicked out of doors. sir. What did she do? She purchased a brat from a woman. you see.--some abominably absurd." he exclaimed. moreover." said one of the footmen who had accompanied M. Let any one explain who can this very common phenomenon: A crime is committed. A thousand stories were circulated.

His study was. without doubt. spying was worse than useless. Lubin in a knowing tone." said the cook. The viscount had nothing left for himself." "But the assassination!" "That's very simple. The entire assembly turned towards Albert's valet. These rich men can do anything. and it is dreadfully disagreeable. ." and the "Viscount.and. The fellow didn't please me by half. the magistrate told me.' For you must know. "you will see him come out of it as white as snow. When the woman saw her brat in such a nice berth. was cut short. even when the master was in a passion. therefore. a shelter from all indiscretion." and met with general approval for doing so. "he must have been a great fool. who came from the Palais in company of young Joseph. 'M." he added." This proposition did not meet with the least favour. just like that of a second-rate singer when the star of the evening comes on the stage. was chopped into bits. so brilliant up to this time. and he was so." "Ah!" put in Joseph. the dark fellow?" The orator would have gone on. Denis. she bled him finely. "I always had my doubts. all eyes questioning him. "However. the count has never known the difference. One alone. The servants knew by experience that. Lubin. had the opportunity of gathering information. "What a rascal!" he exclaimed at first. 'it is very sad for a man like you to have waited on such a scoundrel. on important occasions." "Anyhow. The little child. and when there are so many poor devils who only ask to gain their living?" "Pshaw!" said M. His success. and keep them waiting. that. He did not take advantage of his position." "And the other. "What a villainous fellow is this Albert!" He entirely did away with the "Mr. He of course knew all. and come to a final settling with her. and has kept up a system of blackmailing all along. You see now to what we are exposed every day in our profession. and to listen to what the count and the tall dark fellow are talking about. never having noticed his child. besides an old woman over eighty years old. the count's valet. The sharpest ear placed at the keyhole could hear nothing of what was going on within. who is up there.' said he. de Commarin knew all about servants from infancy. Lubin. Do people do those sort of things themselves when they are rich. Suppose some one went up and tried to find out what is going on. So he resolved at last to put an end to it. he also assassinated a young girl of twelve. he was the man they wanted. M. The magistrate did not conceal it from me. and his voice loudest. but he was well paid to be discreet. giving the most satisfactory explanations of everything. if he had not been interrupted by the entrance of M. "I'd willingly give a month's wages to be a mouse.

but I do not remember ever having raised my voice above his. for he had his own servants. and very agreeably too. It was a thousand times better to suffer an injustice to continue in secret. if I had the misfortune to do so. which I trust you will spend as nobly as possible. He wondered how he could have yielded to a momentary impulse. Your rank was too conspicuous to permit a voluntary acknowledgment. that a son shall never interrupt his father when he is speaking. cold as marble. and besides that I allowed the unhappy boy four thousand francs a month. and it was in a still harsher voice that he resumed. distinct from my own. horses. sir. He became even more arrogant in his manner. The father and son exchanged glances which had nothing of sympathy nor friendliness. "I have no claim. M. to relieve you of all misunderstanding." "I understand you. that. They examined one another. and reproached himself bitterly. than he had been humble when before the magistrate. Remember this well. As soon as he left his carriage. sir." said the count at length in a harsh voice. having fully recovered himself. The same as Albert. much as two adversaries feel their way with their eyes before encountering with their weapons. than to expose the name to the comments of the malicious. and carriages.At this moment. I have decided in order to put a stop to all foolish gossip. sir. and to make your position the easier. upon your affection. I cannot too strongly exhort you to the utmost caution. that also you have just done. before you thank me. I will increase your monthly allowance to six thousand francs. he blushed. Further. how his grief could have so basely betrayed him. the old nobleman recovered his haughtiness. Neither do children judge their parents. Noel. "henceforth this house is yours. I continue. "I don't think that I could ever bring myself to do an act like that by which you deprived me of my birthright. I should afterwards have acted as you have. but no longer humble. they almost measured each other. I provided the necessary funds for the expenses of Albert's household completely. I do not ask for it. de Commarin was sitting in the same arm-chair on which the evening before he had bestowed such furious blows while listening to Albert." replied Noel. that you should live on a grander scale. this matter concerns myself. respectful. It is traditional in our house. as though he were ashamed of what he now considered an unpardonable weakness. But he wouldn't let his satisfaction be seen. Keep . I wish. had I been master of the situation. This said. When I was forty years of age my father was in his second childhood. you have just been guilty of. but I declare that. but I insist at all times upon the utmost deference. you regain possession of all the rights of which you were deprived. I would never have recognised you: Albert should have remained in the position in which I placed him. From this moment you are the Viscount de Commarin. Listen." This answer surprised the count. at once. "Sir. the night before. stood erect. At the remembrance of the avowals wrested from him by a sort of delirium. giving the least possible cause for ridicule.

Noel stopped him. he appeared to listen with a sad and almost indifferent coldness. such as become a viscount. Weigh your words well. horses. and there will be a separate entrance to your apartments." To put his purpose into execution. I must present you to my servants. the wonderful lamp in his hand. such prudence would be absurd. he seemed to awake to a thousand novel and unknown sensations. Let us proceed. which ends quickly. within forty-eight hours. since I should appear to triumph at a time when a great disaster has fallen upon our house. in the first place. the advocate had wandered in the regions of the thousand and one nights. it will have exhausted its comments." . and had need of all his reason to struggle against the giddiness which came over him. But he knew how to appear unmoved. on realising his great good fortune. A prudent father might send you away for a few months to the Austrian or Russian courts. or break my neck. I am certain to be judged with the utmost severity. than low murmurs which last forever. not occupy Albert's apartments. Study your slightest actions. of course. Servants. cost what it may. His face had contracted the habit of guarding the secret of the most violent internal excitement. Since the commencement of this interview. sir. and. and. They will reproach me with occupying the bed still warm from Albert's body. Much better a dreadful outcry. what will be said? I shall have the appearance of a conqueror. Touched by a magic wand. You will occupy the other wing. You will be the point of observation of the thousands of impertinent idlers who compose our world. You will. They will be walled off. in eight days. and the comparison will be to my disadvantage. It seems to me that the situation demands the greatest delicacy on my part. He was dazzled by the count's words.close watch over yourself. He rolled in purple. but in six months I will be a good horseman. Dare public opinion. They will certainly compare me to Albert. There will be a great scandal. in this instance. If I install myself so suddenly in your house. I am touched more than I can express by your goodness. The fairy reality cast into the shade his wildest dreams. to say a few words. your blunders will be their delight. who thinks little. It is well to despise public opinion. Thank heaven! the house is large. but. On the day of your taking possession. furniture. While all his passions vibrated within him." "You must become a horseman. to delay its manifestation. Do you fence?" "Moderately well. and not break anything. and yet I beseech you. and bathed in gold. So. They will jest bitterly at my haste in taking possession. you must look as though you had been installed there for years. but not to defy it. as soon as I am free of the police." he said to the count "without overstepping the bounds of the utmost respect. will be at your service. The proposition I am about to suggest may perhaps appear to you worthy of consideration." "That will do! Do you ride?" "No. so long as he succeeds. and the story will have become old. the count moved to touch the bell-rope. but that cannot be avoided. carriages. by another staircase. "Permit me. to work! This very evening the workmen shall be here. of passing over the body of the conquered.

which is now mine." The count cast a look of distrust upon Noel. "you are a liberal." murmured the count. when he has not a friend left in the world? He is still your son. de Commarin. let us occupy ourselves about him." "At least. since you have mentioned the name of that unfortunate young man. My name is already known. I have friends and clients. and this idea encouraged him." "I trust so. I shall not have the air of an intruder on presenting myself. There is a great deal in not taking the world by surprise." "My ideas. "to permit me for the present in no way to change my mode of living. to tempt him. Albert also was a great liberal. sir. But. I must think of those I am leaving behind me. if my elevation came suddenly upon them. sir!" cried Noel with ardour." he continued. In any case. whether he had triumphed by his eloquence. I leave all malicious remarks to waste themselves in air. I ought not to bring into your world. the manners of a parvenu. Besides. like a badly fitting coat." said Noel quickly. Being expected. just as I am beginning to reap the reward of ten years of hard work and perseverance. sir. or guilty. This assent. This event has surprised me. I have obtained some little influence. I shall accustom myself to my abrupt change of fortune. for thirty years he has borne the name of Commarin. By not showing myself. surprised Noel. "I must add. Besides. "that there are a few matters concerning myself which demand my attention. "What can now be done for Albert?" he asked. Be assured. Innocent. and I shall secure as champions all those who would to-morrow assail me." "Perhaps it would be wisest. My name ought not to inconvenience me. "What.--I let public opinion the better familiarise itself with the idea of a coming change. I shall obtain the good opinion of all those who have envied Albert. He got the idea that the count had only wished to prove him. he is my brother. His confidence increased. "were those of every intelligent man who wishes to succeed. he has a . by this delay. All the members of a family are jointly liable. and think and act as a man of my rank should. I am on the point of reaping. that I shall know how to bear my name. he recovered all his former assurance. Noel imagined that his harshness was much more feigned than real. and it is impossible in the space of a day--" "Ah!" interrupted the count in a bantering tone. "I beseech you then. sir. it will not be my fault. I have as yet only sown. struck perhaps by the justice of these reasons. Before entering upon my new life. he had succeeded. have not all parties one and the same aim--power? They merely take different means of reaching it. that I have heretofore professed ideas and opinions that would not be suited to this house. "would you abandon him. I will not enlarge upon this subject.The count listened without showing any signs of disapprobation." he continued." said M. sir. I shall have the advantages which the unknown always possess. It is a fashionable disease. without shame. sir. or whether he had simply shunned a trap. so easily obtained. "and I hope that you will never make me regret Albert. sir. Absent. I confess.

"if he has already confessed?" "Then. We will. I will save him. Doubtless. my son!" . even though they are proved to be bad. a heart-rending sight. All shall be done as you desire. which in such a misfortune I should ask of a brother. I am an advocate. sir. his face buried in his hands. "go. I will procure him the means of avoiding judgment." "And if he should confess. "O sir!" said he hastily. and I wish to defend him. "Let us return to yourself. a word from me would be a great consolation to her. It was I who was the cause of it all. Now another and a sacred duty calls me away. and taking your meals with me." Noel started at this unexpected proposal. but ought I to be implacable? She is dying from the accusation which is hanging over Albert our son. he had pleased him." said the count.right to count upon us. my son!" And he held out his hand to Noel. if he is innocent. sir?" asked the count. in this last hour. "when you bade me follow you here. and I love to believe that he is." Noel had the hardihood to again interrupt the old nobleman." said the count. "She has ruined my whole life. sir. "Sir. bowing a respectful acknowledgment. as if answering his thoughts." "Go then alone. I will accompany you. who pressed it." replied Noel with a dark look. in one moment the whole past rose up before him. At last he had found the way to this haughty noble's heart." "That is well spoken. Her brain was unable to resist so violent a shock. sir. But do not consider this a precedent. he had conquered. Madame Gerdy exists probably still. in such a cause I must have. I will find new accents to imbue the judges with my own conviction. The unfortunate woman would neither recognise nor understand you. as was my duty. sir. first of all. He leaned upon the arm of his chair. but her mind is dead. see where you can be lodged. "I yield to the reasons which you have suggested. "very well. Ought I to leave the deathbed of her who filled my mother's place?" "Valerie!" murmured the count. I will dispel all doubts. I never change my plans." he murmured. I obeyed you. Yes. Your going would be useless. and we owe him our assistance. Madame Gerdy is at this moment dying. "She has done me great harm. "To save him. however strong the charges against him may be. I will overthrow them. The truth shall burst forth at the sound of my voice. sir. and this shall be my last cause." sighed the count. "spare yourself. I have been told that I have some talent. until you formally take possession of the apartments which are to be prepared for you. But at least nothing prevents your remaining here from to-day." continued the count. The advocate took a long breath. pray." said he." "What do you then hope for. and contrary to my interests. "I will render him the last service.

He is intelligent and acute. and he has assassinated Claudine! What will this one do?--All the same. I never knew how to appreciate him. generous. I dine at half-past six precisely. models of sagacity and virtue. and is ready to sacrifice himself to repay me for what I have done for him. events had followed one another with such bewildering rapidity that his thoughts could scarcely keep pace with them." he said. although the advocate had been gone at least a good ten minutes. "Denis. But Noel was already far away. Since morning. His unexpected good fortune does not turn his head. His valet appeared. then. He forgives Madame Gerdy. And yet I feel no sympathy with him. not realising how the time had passed. You will tell this to all the servants. I shall be glad to see you. "none of the orders I may give will affect this gentleman. the passions. he loves Albert. On leaving the house. Alas! Albert. The count motioned him to wait. "a place at table will be set for you here. and continued in a calmer tone." The advocate took his leave. It is enough to make one distrust him. too. hastened to the window. was perfect. sounded like a note of victory in Noel's ears. Besides I should be foolish to disown him." he added. the noblest and most appropriate sentiments. . I do not like the look of this one's eye. "No one. I am sure of his birth. He is without malice. Ah! we live in a happy age. They say that he is perfect. in the hope of seeing Noel in the court-yard. magnanimous. at least. it seems to me that I shall always regret my poor Albert. This gentleman is at home here. He thinks well. "That. "I ought to have accompanied him to see Valerie!" And. He expresses. half-aloud. "In any case. sir. I augur well of a man who knows how to bear himself in prosperity." said he. he took a cab and was quickly driven to the Rue St." He seemed relieved from a great anxiety. at any rate. But all young men now-a-days are so. "is my legitimate son. and ran rapidly up the four flights of stairs. for I find him the exact picture of myself at thirty. M. and these precocious philosophers. de Commarin.The words "my son. At last. Lazare. He bowed to take his leave." pronounced with a marked emphasis. are incapable of committing the least folly. nor the tempers of their fathers. heroic. His features are decidedly in his favour. he will carry his title proudly." He rang. and the count felt great comfort in being once more alone. Noel. and calling him back. He is a handsome fellow. Our children are born free from all human shortcomings. very handsome. They have neither the vices. He knows how to be humble without lowering himself. he was able to reflect. he threw rather than gave five francs to the driver." said he to himself. and firm without arrogance. "Who has called to see me?" he asked of the servant. He is gentle and strong. On reaching his own door. Unhappy boy! To commit such a vile crime! He must have lost his reason.

" murmured Noel." He checked himself." said the advocate. Vincent de Paul was kneeling. as if he felt the necessity of explaining his absence." he said. She seemed dead. Dr. show them into my study. Every time she moved. "At last you are here. and in a trembling voice asked: "Well. and disarranged the bedclothes. "She is much worse. Near the fireplace." He leant towards the doctor's ear. and let me know. At the foot of the bed. and the abdication of all independence of thought. Herve was seated on a chair opposite the bed. a nun of the order of St." replied the girl. and a feeble groan escaped her. However. She was a young woman. If any one calls. He came again just now. giving his friend a strong grasp of the hand. Madame Gerdy stirred a little. as you may well imagine." said the doctor. her mournful look. and is still here." "Very well. Her immovably placid features. "She heard you. The advocate had seized his arm and was pressing it with all his might. watching a saucepan. is she at all better?" The doctor shook his head with an air of deep discouragement. "I wish it were so." On entering Madame Gerdy's chamber. "and I have been. "I was detained at the Palais. Her heavy grey costume hung about her in large ungraceful folds. With fixed eyes and convulsed features."And the doctor?" "He came this morning. medicine bottles. we will see. which shook her at intervals. covered with large bluish spots. The table and mantel-piece were covered with little pots. save for the sudden starts. a piece of rag stained with blood showed that the doctor had just had recourse to leeches. where was blazing a large fire." he replied: "since morning bad symptoms have succeeded each other with frightful rapidity. sir. "while you were out. the nun's preparations. filled with ice water. betokened the renunciation of the flesh. He jumped up as Noel entered. her long chaplet of beads of coloured box-wood. and he did not seem at all hopeful. apparently with close attention. watching. the sick woman lay extended upon her back. with a face whiter than her cap. which fell drop by drop upon her forehead. dreadfully anxious. Above her head was placed a little vessel. Noel saw at a glance that no change for the better had taken place during his absence. shook and trailed along the floor with a noise like a jingling of chains. and half-emptied glasses. loaded with crosses and copper medals." He went up to Madame . "It would be most encouraging. I will go and speak to him. But I fear you are mistaken.

He drew near. if it has no effect. had retired into the window recess. "does she suffer?" "Not at present. it is I." "And if that does not succeed?" The doctor answered only with a shrug of the shoulders." said the doctor. "I told you the truth." The servant hastened in. In the arms of the two women." said she: "all is ready. How many invalids had breathed their last in her arms during the fifteen years that she had gone from pillow to pillow! Noel. trembling all over." "Then call the servant. judge for yourself. Of what was he thinking. whom they were dressing for the last time. did as his friend wished. to help us. Not a sign of intelligence crossed her features. then. and pressed his burning brow against the panes. your own Noel. Germain? He turned abruptly round on hearing his friend's voice. "Doctor. Speak to me. during this time. mother?" It was in vain. for it was pitiable to see how thin she was. although she had become habituated to the sight of suffering. examined her carefully. "Alas! you told me last night she was lost. he lightly raised her eyelid. poor woman. Madame Gerdy was like a corpse. She was as rigid as though she were dead. and. Noel. it will be a good sign. we will try cupping. which showed his inability to do more. "we have only now to wait the effect of the mustard. while she who had given him so many proofs of maternal tenderness and devotion was dying a few paces from him? Did he regret her? was he not thinking rather of the grand and magnificent existence which awaited him on the other side of the river. leaning over the bed. make some sign." "Poor woman!" sighed Noel. The eye appeared dull." "Scientifically. "You see. at the Faubourg St. she retained her frightful immobility. She must have suffered much and long. glassy." said the doctor. yes. and. If she feels it. take her hand. "Come.Gerdy. he murmured: "Mother. but I do not yet despair. The nun herself was affected. It is hardly a year ago that the father-in-law of one of our comrades recovered from an almost ." The nun now rose." Noel. "I understand your silence. so that his mouth almost touched the sick woman's ear. do you hear me. whilst feeling her pulse. with the tip of his finger. "It is done. Herve. and she too came beside the bed." murmured Noel. lifeless. sister. We are going to apply a mustard poultice. speak to her.

my dear Herve." added the doctor. All depends upon the watcher." "And will she recover her reason?" "Perhaps. eh! Well. my poor friend. You have as many chances in your favour as against you. I know her well. But." resumed Noel. Do your political opinions forbid your having your mother. baffles all foresight. of complete prostration of all her intellectual faculties. at nine. She is now in a state of utter insensibility. the aspect may change.identical attack." And. all that is quite true. and without your permission. can promise you nothing. "Must she die without recovering her reason even for one moment? Will she not recognise me. They are adroit. I am in a hurry. only one. When they reached the landing." "It was you." answered the doctor. to-morrow. the doctor hurried down . There will be no need of me till then. do not leave her. looking fixedly at his friend." Noel followed his friend. then. Each moment. what have you to fear from this one? Never mind what fools say. of paralysis so to say. according as the inflammation affects such or such a part of the brain. I shouldn't introduce one of them into his house. insinuating. regardless of his professional dignity. try and profit by it. he asked: "You will return?" "This evening. but that will neither modify the nature nor the gravity of the disease. nursed by a nun of St. would be of such use to me!" "For your affair. you--" "Ah! I know what you are going to say. I hope you will have one when your end comes." "And will she speak then?" "Certainly. "but why do you ask that?" "Ah. dangerous. "I have still three calls to make. of coma. these worthy sisters are the best nurses in the world. But good-bye. I can tell you nothing. who brought this nun?" "Yes. she may be seized with convulsions. one word from Madame Gerdy. speak one word to me?" "Who knows? This disease. But I have chosen a pearl." "It breaks my heart to see her in this state. These good creatures are sometimes charged with strange commissions. But I must go. If I had a rich old uncle whose heir I expected to be. accompanied with a fierce delirium. suppuration had set in. and I saw him when he was much worse than this. Vincent?" "My dear Herve. Are you displeased?" "Not the least in the world. I should say Madame Gerdy. If her intelligence returns. it will be only momentary. Only I confess--" "What! you make a grimace. Money aside. only.

she had learned them when she first entered the convent. sister?" "Sir. when the servant announced that a gentleman." "That is of little consequence. The priest does not terrify." And." she added. sir. "sir. who would not give his name." replied the nun. the servant bade me come to you for money. you do not know all the power of the last sacraments! I have seen the dying recover their intelligence and sufficient strength to confess. now. who comes to save. "I will keep an account of what I spend. the same as the preparation of draughts. sister? Do you not see the condition she is in? She is the same as dead." continued the nun. "Your dear mother. He speaks in the name of the God of mercy. but are you sure that she will not answer the priest? Ah. and to receive the sacred body of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without doubt. . One is so troubled at seeing those one loves laid low by illness." "Excuse me. Then they expressed something she really felt. returned to Madame Gerdy. seemingly very much vexed." said the nun. she had repeated the words over and over again to the friends of every sick person that she attended. and the making of poultices. Noel was not listening to her. "this good lady that you love so much. "Thanks. At the door of the sick-room. he laid it on the mantel piece. She did not answer you. at the beginning of its long journey." The nun spoke in a tone as mournful as her look. Do you wish to endanger her salvation? If she could speak in the midst of her cruel sufferings--" The advocate was on the point of replying. sir. the nun awaited the advocate's return." said she. but you see I am rather confused. We always do that. sister. I should send without delay for a priest." interrupted Noel. "Sir. "it is more convenient for the family.the stairs. his thoughts were far away. while Noel. To utter them became simply a part of her duties as nurse. taking a hundred-franc note out of his pocket-book. she spoke her own thoughts. You have perhaps not thought of giving this poor lady the sweet aid of our holy religion! In your place. that the sight of the minister of our Lord might inspire a terror that would hasten the final end. you saw that she did not hear my voice. until they lost all meaning so far as she was concerned. and had to get credit at the chemist's. I have often heard families say that they do not wish to alarm the invalid. since then. his countenance displaying the greatest anxiety. I could cite to you many cases of dying people who have been cured simply by contact with the sacred balm. full of thought.--" "What. no doubt trusted in her religion. It is a fatal error. wished to speak with him on business. but. not to destroy. Her heart was evidently not in the words which she uttered." "You want something of me. "you will always have done your duty. "excuse me for not having anticipated your request. sir. she has no more. he reassures the soul.

However. Jourdin's father was a shopkeeper. such as lawyers and doctors. M. and fearfully bold. Free with his money when one pleases him. whom the advocate had been expecting. and all along the exterior Boulevards. to whosoever does not meet with his approval. Noel. Anything to be useful or neighbourly. he lends it to his friends. who well knew how sensitive this worthy man was to kind attentions. He often asserts that he is not very rich." he said quickly." The worthy woman began to recite her lesson of thanks. as he has lots of money. Only. in return for this kindness. He has no shop. which varies from fifteen to five hundred per cent. His preferred customers consist of women of doubtful morality. and I am devilishly in need of money. began by offering him a seat. I have . The excellent man positively loves his clients. The chapter of complaints ended--"You know. Clergeot went into details. and. and almost immediately she heard his voice in the next room. enjoys a great reputation. and some other things. His legs were no longer so steady. actresses. and asking after his health. For an artist to be in Clergeot's debt was a recommendation preferable to the warmest criticism. artists. even with a mortgage on the Chateau of Ferrieres as guarantee. and yet he sells everything saleable. Clergeot is no more a usurer than M. and how pleased by politeness. and is very obliging. is a person well known in the Rue St. and those venturesome fellows who enter upon professions which depend solely upon those who practice them. sir?" persisted the nun. A pretty girl furnished by Clergeot is sure to go far. sister. he prefers to follow him up without respite for ten years. but his sight was beginning to fail. It is possibly true. and his hearing was not all that could be desired. "What do you decide. from the Chaussee des Martyrs to the Rond-Point of the old Barriere de Clichy. to do as you may judge best. saying: "At last you have come. and tear from him bit by bit what is his due. it should be said. but to no purpose. "I leave you free."I will come. the neighbourhood of Notre Dame de Lorette. He lends to women upon their present beauty." said he. and his honesty is generally appreciated. Slight pledges! His discernment. It is rarely at fault. Madame Juliette had procured this useful and honourable acquaintance for her lover. Noel had disappeared with a displeased look. His teeth were still good. however. he often risks his all on the most unlucky cards. "why I have called. Your bills fall due to-day. Clergeot. He has never been known to seize a debtor's goods. round about the Rue de Provence. M. to men upon their future talent. he consents to receive interest. too. that the law scarcely considers merchandise. He is whimsical more than covetous. I had almost given you up!" The visitor. Lazare. he would not lend five francs. He lives near the top of the Rue de la Victoire.

M." he said." "Excuse me. and asked for a renewal!" "I recollect very well receiving your letter. "I do not complain. and at a rate which cannot make you regret the investment. "well.one of ten. But you say to yourself: 'Old Clergeot is a good fellow. "Must I repeat it?" he said. Well. Do you know that I have renewed these bills four times already?" "I know that the interest has been fully and promptly paid. I haven't a sou." "And what good will that do? Let us play above board. I am sorry for you. Besides." "I know all that. total. but I shall have to sue you. Clergeot." "Not at all." "What do you say to it. what then? Do you think of putting in an execution? This is not my home. the lease is in Madame Gerdy's name. M. com--plete--ly!" "Indeed?" said the usurer. "so take your own course." "The devil. I only say that you take things too easily with me. you would have found means to escape being sued." Clergeot never likes talking about the interest he received. The old fellow's decided tone seemed to disturb the advocate. then?" "By my not answering the note. I am absolutely in great need of my money. "I am completely drained. one of seven. it's just eight days ago to-day that I wrote to tell you that I was not prepared to meet the bills. Why. I hoped that you would exert yourself to find the amount for me. Now. But I am so only when it can do me no harm. I supposed that you would understand that I could not comply with your request. will that procure you even a centime? You will obtain judgment against me. the sale of everything here would not cover ." said the usurer." "Come." he added. Clergeot. and a third of five thousand francs. Ab--so--lute--ly." "Yes. Do you care to increase the lawyers' fees? You don't do you? Even though." Noel allowed a gesture of impatience to escape him. twenty-two thousand francs. you may put me to great expense." "I rather think you are though. to-day. "I am not joking at all.' And that is true. "I have not done so. "do not let us have any joking. emphasising each syllable. He pretends that it is humiliating. If I had put your signature in circulation all would have been paid by now." replied Noel.

"You have gone too fast. there are not ten girls in Paris who live in such style! And do you think she loves you any the more for it? Not a bit. I warn you. "and I have told you so before. my money would be there in your drawer. you are mad about the girl. no money. Four good strong wishes. and if the dear creature should die now. "It would be no good doing that. she has not her equal. "mamma's purse has long been empty. devilish expensive. he takes care to make some inquiries. my practice will be lost. without deigning to notice his client's ill looks. Fool! When a pretty girl wants anything. When she has ruined you. which doubtless arises from the business transactions he has had with them. and. to be sure. you would not listen. He is charming in his business with the fair sex. You need not frown: you will find means to do so to . she has then something to occupy her mind and keep her from thinking of a quantity of other follies. You can never refuse her anything. You don't know how to look after your own interests. but the coarsest insults would be less revolting than his disgusting familiarity. "Before a man risks his money." The advocate turned red with passion. you will be able to hand me the twenty-two thousand francs in question. no practice. unless by asking Madame Gerdy.the amount. none of us are perfect. Pshaw! If you supposed me capable of half the cruel things you have said. You understand? Just now. and M. But what reply could he make? Besides." Noel was enraged at hearing his Juliette thus spoke of by this honourable personage." continued Clergeot quietly. at Clichy! Bad speculation. But. which is at home. hang it! Why. but she is expensive.--I would not give two hundred napoleons for the inheritance." "Good!" cried the worthy money-lender. I am convinced." said the usurer. Clergeot possessed the fault of not properly appreciating women. "What is the meaning of all this!" he asked. but you should reason with yourself. I know that her glance would turn the head of a stone saint. his eyes glittered. if you try very hard. but he dissembled. you should let her long for it for a while.--they tell me she is very ill. Juliette is a charming woman. complimenting and flattering them." he continued. you know. "Simply that I will not renew your bills." Noel accepted the eloquence of his prudent banker like a man without an umbrella accepts a shower." "A mistake! I should not know where to get it." A sarcastic and most irritating little laugh. interrupted Noel. she'll leave you in the lurch. ought to last a year. peculiar to old Clergeot. ready for me." "Then you intend to put me in prison. "Now you are talking nonsense! You call that being frank. a thing I would never do. and protested with some spirit. "We know what we know. well managed. Mamma's remaining bonds were sold last October. Ah! the Rue de Provence is an expensive place! I have made an estimate.

or else. Believe me. I shall be summoned to appear before the Tribunal de Commerce. "and my time is valuable. no doubt. because." "And in six weeks. "put your bills in the hands of your lawyer. But I have finished. That is precisely the respite I need. Clergeot. gratis. You would burn the wood from your dying mother's bed to warm this creature's feet. which the judges always grant to an embarrassed debtor." continued the advocate. Listen to a little good advice. I prefer the lawyer's plain prose. "Do as you please. Open your eyes. I could have a hundred thousand to-morrow morning. I know the game well. . Clergeot. but she will make you find the requisite sum. for that would be absurd. You are in one of those conditions that must be continued at any price. when they do not keep their engagements. a single day more." replied the usurer. "you will be in precisely the same condition you are to-day. M. But that I will not do. and in a way that would surprise you. They would only cost me the trouble of asking for them. and you have no right--" "What of that? She will oppose the seizure. And forty-five days more of Juliette will cost--" "M.--not here. If they are displeased." "But everything there belongs to her." he added rising. M. "he is less deeply involved than I imagined. in three months' time. Twenty-five and eight. If you do not leave Juliette. "long before that time. It is no use saying 'No. you are lost. You have two alternatives: either accept from me at once a new bill for twenty-four thousand francs payable in six weeks. I won't give you any further delay. sooner or later. all the world over. Yes." interrupted Noel. "Enough. Noel could bear it no longer: and his anger burst forth. Let him sue me. so much the worse for them! His conscience is at rest." As you see. Clergeot. You must give her up. you impatient fellow!" exclaimed the good-natured banker.' like that. the very day it is within my grasp. if I saw fit. I do not choose that my present embarrassed circumstances should be even suspected. In eight days. go off to your lawyer. She would not be at all pleased. three days. mustn't you? Do it to-day. My extravagance. you had best parry the blow. then. If I have committed follies. as I have an appointment. I can repair them. but have done with your advice. with all due deference to you.prevent my seizing your goods. for your sake." thought the usurer. may lead you far. you will have used your last resources." he cried decidedly. He would never join in any foolish business. our worthy Clergeot never minces the truth to his customers. my position will be completely changed." "So. that at which I have been aiming. make just thirty-three days." "He resists. I insist on being paid now. I can procure twenty-two thousand francs. Where did you obtain the ten thousand francs that you left with her the other evening? Who knows what you will next attempt to procure money? The idea of keeping her fifteen days. I will not relinquish. and I expect her to do so. will remain a secret as heretofore." "One moment. but at your little woman's apartments. and would not hesitate to tell you so. and I shall ask for the twenty-five days' delay.

"only--" He looked slyly at Noel scratching his chin violently. and everything shall be arranged.--pretty fair interest. you have but to give me some guarantee. one moment. "miserable thieving old skinflint! Didn't he need a lot of persuading? He had quite made up his mind to sue me. You are right. The slightest inquiry would be sufficient to enlighten your father-in-law as to your financial position. Vile usurer! I was afraid." "That I will not tell you. Procure me an introduction to the notary." said he. So it is settled: prepare a new bill for twenty-four thousand francs. And to be frank. your little Juliette told me something of the sort this morning. Beware of the storm. He certainly did not refuse to pay. "I had almost forgotten. When he heard him descending the staircase. But get rid of Juliette. which I shall deliver to-morrow. my friend. "Only. "while you are about it. "I have it! You are going to marry! You have found an heiress. he returned quickly. Your little woman ordered some dresses. in this way they will be paid for. to make sure that the usurer had actually gone. in common with all the world. and you would lose the damsel." he continued. Clergeot. you may rest easy: you have my word. it wouldn't do to be seeking money now. He didn't like this way of disposing of his money. You may be quite sure she will eat up your new fortune also." . And you know. you can make the bill for twenty-six thousand francs. So you are going to start a home of your own?" "I did not say so." Noel listened. a movement which in him indicated how insensibly his brain was at work. Be discreet." said M. then?" "No."you said twenty-four thousand francs at forty-five days?" "Yes. of being obliged to tell him all. "I should very much like to know what you are counting upon. On Monday then." "I have it!" cried M. "Scoundrel!" he cried. "What a fellow!" said the usurer. and I will call for it when I bring you the old ones on Monday. if you need any money for the wedding." "You haven't them with you. Clergeot made a pretence of retiring. Ah! you are going to marry! Is she pretty? But no matter. I left them with others at my lawyer's. your little woman has a suspicion of the truth. However. But I can take a hint. knowing well I should get nothing from you. but just as he was going out. That is about seventy-five per cent. She has a full purse. You will know it ere long. of course." M. I confess that." The advocate began to remonstrate. It would have been a pleasant thing had the count come to hear of it. Marry and settle down. only he thought he ought to be consulted when any purchases were made. "do you want to make the girl unhappy for nothing at all? She won't let you off yet. or I won't give five francs for the fortune. Clergeot. One word more. eh? You wouldn't take her without that. shrugging his shoulders." "I never cavil about interest." "That's right. But I must go.

dusting and arranging everything. who will watch through this night. but the old man was more obstinate than a mule. when the life of a fellow-man depended on each minute? Inaction would be unpardonable. Noel went and sat in the sick-room. "know that she is dangerously ill?" "I do not know.While inveighing thus against the money-lender. and putting it in its place. Madame Gerdy. Old Tabaret did not consider himself defeated. on the other hand." he asked. already irritated by a long day's examination." "God grant that she does. I shall lie down. She wore an air of satisfaction. As he bade the servant give the note to a messenger. The feeling of duty got the upper hand. or an accomplishment. "Have we any gleam of hope. After the doctor has been. and she will watch until one in the morning. the advocate looked at his watch. "Perhaps. sir." replied the nun. "Does madame's brother. he must remain with her. the poultice has taken admirably. Since the priest was here. To the excess of despair to which he succumbed in the passage outside the magistrate's office. there soon succeeded that firm resolution which is the enthusiasm called forth by danger. sister. to carry it to the count. he said. That is not all. I am sure she feels it. I have arranged all with the servant." "What. You may call it a fault." Considerably more at ease." interrupted Noel. your dear mother did not notice his presence." replied the servant." he murmured." he said. I have already been praying! But it is important not to leave her alone a minute. sir." He sat down at his desk. "at any rate. to leave a dying woman! "Decidedly. "I can't go. "It is I. and with all haste wrote a letter of apology to his father. Was it a time to yield to unworthy despair. "The priest has been here. did you not think to send him word? Run to his house quickly. sadly. if he is not at home. He had plunged an innocent . a sudden thought seemed to strike him. sister?" he asked. that Noel did not fail to notice. The skin is quite reddened. yet. but he is coming back. Have him sought for. I will then take her place and--" "You shall both go to bed. he must come. who could not sleep a wink. I have not informed him. and the nun was moving about the room as though quite at home. sister!" "Oh. might die at any moment. because he had been repulsed by the investigating magistrate. The lamp was lighted. Ought he to go and dine with his father? Could he leave Madame Gerdy? He longed to dine at the de Commarin mansion. His indecision was great. "Half-past five already." CHAPTER XIV.

He entered a restaurant on the Boulevard. as he did. But. his inability to let Albert know that some one was working for him. and ordered dinner. as he rose from the table. who had doubtless been thinking of the past. and he must draw him out. His great regret was. Her condition. he perceived that he. "Poor creature!" he murmured." The old man advanced on tip-toe. he thirsted to know what had passed between the advocate and the count. and. Old Tabaret. from his dear Noel. "God is merciful in taking her. He had plenty of time before him! A clever man could accomplish a great deal in a month! Would his usual penetration fail him now? Certainly not. for he looked as sad as though the dying woman was really his mother. Nine o'clock struck as the concierge opened the door for him. from the beginning to the end of a repast. though it was impossible to say whether for the better or the worse. had changed a little. old Tabaret could not avoid going in for a few minutes. "before long all will be over. Lazare. her prostration was not so great. Her eyes still remained closed. since the afternoon. if no one would help him. that he wished entirely to conceal his connection with the police. It was. Noel. he had not even taken a glass of water. who knows how much one's ideas may change. In consequence of this unexpected circumstance. he alone. without betraying his secret? A single imprudent word might reveal the part he was playing in this sad drama. now Viscount de Commarin. the worthy Madame Gerdy. too. She constantly moved on her pillow. and how could he do this. as well as the magistrate. as he could not withdraw he resolved to keep close watch upon his language and remain constantly on his guard. "He has just gone. She . though he would much have preferred not doing so. He knew very well.man into the abyss. the particulars much better than his young friend himself. While eating. her whom he used to call the excellent. be it ever so modest! A philosopher has plainly demonstrated that heroism is but an affair of the stomach. However. that. On reaching the open air. and moaned feebly. and looked at the dying woman with evident emotion. was in want of food. "What does the doctor say?" asked old Tabaret." replied Noel. knowing. but also his confidence came insensibly back to him. His ignorance on this single point aroused his curiosity. The emotions of the day had prevented him from feeling hungry. above all others. on the other hand. he would be unavoidably led to speak of the Lerouge case. The advocate ushered the old man into Madame Gerdy's room. One thing was evident. being with the advocate. as with the rest of mankind. It was Noel who let him in. in that low voice one unconsciously employs in a sick room. The old fellow looked at the situation in a much less sombre light. It was with him. and it was with a sprightly step that he walked towards the Rue St. He was entirely another man. but a slight quivering of the lids was evident. He went at once up to the fourth floor to inquire after the health of his former friend. was greatly fatigued. not only his courage. since the previous evening.

I forget every wrong she has done me.'" he continued. death is far preferable! And yet I do not think. since old Tabaret entered the room." Seated near the bed. When a poor devil is arrested. am persuaded also of this young man's innocence. no. It was a purely mechanical work. "to console myself for this sight." said Noel. her true son. the count?" . I feared to see you spoiled by wealth and rank. as much. during which she usually prayed. we are always ready to throw stones at him. that is already something. As long as the justice hesitates. for her. who." Gladly would the old man have thrown himself on Noel's neck. You have heard me curse her." said he. But. my father. thanks perhaps to my inexperience. that if. if he told him his secret! He resolved. when he returned. What did it all mean? Who could this woman be? And this young man who was not her son. however. entirely innocent. "no. We are sharper than that in France. was in prison. all our sympathies are in his favour. at the moment of losing her. I despise it to such an extent. I see. only to remember her tenderness. seen your father. perhaps. without doubt guilty. He has public opinion in his favor. "I said. He felt his face grow red. For the time being. and who yet called her mother. appears before the court of assize. as you know. pardon me. I have told the Count de Commarin. or should Albert's position become worse. and he hastened to explain himself. I will defend him." said Noel. and her conscience was sorely troubled. to reveal all should it become necessary. 'you too. as I dare still hope. I shall always regard her as a mother. Yes. But. Was she not sinning? She resolved to tell all to the priest. "Bravo! my boy.perhaps suffers much. the nun hastily knitted stockings destined for the poor." But he restrained himself. That is public opinion." "No! what. "you have a noble heart. but now. she forgot her everlasting prayers whilst listening to the conversation. we side with the prosecution against the prisoner. then. tell me. He longed to say to him: "We will save him together. I will be his counsel. Albert has not public opinion for him. Tabaret. "because I. I have spoken with many persons on this matter which has made so much noise. sufficiently far from the lamp to be in the shade. I cannot think her son guilty. that Noel looked at him with astonishment. of the crime charged against him. but what is this pain compared to what she would feel if she knew that her son. he contented himself with strongly approving his young friend. that it affects me but little. You will remain. you too?" Old Tabaret put so much warmth and vivacity into this exclamation. "No. I thought I hated her. I cannot in the least imagine a man of his rank meditating and accomplishing so cowardly a crime. M. Yes. my old friend. what you have always been in your more humble position. you have. The moment it is proved that the man is a villain. Would not the advocate despise him. Into what strange house had she entered? She was a little afraid. Albert is not released. For I still love her. have you not? I have twice treated her very harshly. We keep all our pity for him. accused of murder?" "That is what I keep thinking. You understand. however. and everybody is of my opinion. and I will save him. and at the same time spoke of a true son accused of being an assassin? Before this she had overheard mysterious remarks pass between Noel and the doctor.

He hardly knew how he could again meet this brother. they had sent for the doctor. one of those handsome Gardes de Paris who had promised to marry her. silence would oblige him to play a difficult part. The old man advised him to say nothing. I should have examined this case more thoroughly. M. Noel seemed to notice the nun's eyes. which are like mile-stones along a fool's road! Left free to my own inspirations. listening to the least sound on the stairs. Gerdy had gone down a short time after her master. he said. in detail. and he fully expected a formidable scene with his housekeeper. The man M. He busied himself in forming a new line of battle. lighted by eager curiosity. His confidence in a judicial axiom had led him astray." M. to keep anything on her mind. the rascal! She burst forth in reproaches. he added: he did not yet know what conduct he ought to pursue. He had started with a positive fact. Should he tell him all? It would only increase his grief. which. Tabaret was obliged to content himself with this reply and this promise. "is the result of following accepted opinions and those absurd phrases. when it was a question of his health and reputation. too sincere. Seeing that he would learn nothing that evening. declaring himself tired out by what he had had to do during the day. and for whom she had waited in vain. He had been absent from home twenty-four hours. He had discovered the particulars. "That. all ready to hand. Such goings on would be the death of her. he put her out of the room. and the criminal was evidently such as he had described him. while she prepared her master's bed. "What a fine fellow Noel is!" murmured old Tabaret. She had remained up all night. and said: "I have seen him. By this bedside. He rapidly examined the situation. and double locked the door. Daburon had had arrested could not be the criminal. without counting that her constitution was too weak to allow her to sit up so late. and everything is arranged to my satisfaction. who had been sent for several times. his inferences were correct. Were his calculations of probabilities erroneous? No. and she had seen him return two hours later. Noel did not ask him to stop. for the first time. as soon as Mannette had finished what she was about. but who was not at home. There had been great commotion in the house. and in deciding upon prompt and active measures. M. I am almost ashamed of my happiness.Now. or to keep her mouth closed. he drew the old man's attention to her. not being in the mood for argument. With a look. He was expecting. when we are more at ease. Tabaret made no reply. On the other hand. that she would certainly seek a new place if her master did not change his conduct. Madame Gerdy's brother. I would have left nothing to chance. in a terrible fright." thought he. expecting every moment to see her master brought home on a litter. I will tell you all. she declared. He bent his head to the storm. he spoke of going to bed. Had he been deceived in his investigations? No. and declared once for all. assassinated. But Mannette forgot that she did not sit up on her master's account nor on Noel's but was expecting one of her old friends. when he pointed to Albert. he could explain all later on. But. Mannette was decidedly out of temper. glittered in the shadow like carbuncles. and turned his back to the hail. 'Seek out the one whom the crime benefits' may often be . the murder. The formula. as he regained his apartments as quietly as possible. After that. by-and-by.

He must have hired some wretch. it is true. though. and the wife was discovered dead.as absurd as true. from the bottom of my heart. saying. "I see only luck and myself. After that. but I do not hold it yet. and I know what they are worth! At once everything and nothing. by a bold and experienced scoundrel. Madame Gerdy. There remains. I must obtain the past history of this obliging widow. It is. It is not Madame Gerdy. It is plain to me that Albert is not the criminal. It is I who amassed them. They cheat." Returning to Albert. What would I not give to establish this man's innocence? Half of my fortune would be but a small sacrifice. what is to be believed? Albert. which he showed to ten of his friends. would be very likely to undertake a number of other dangerous commissions. and the Count de Commarin. a wretch of good position. Another thing. To be quite sure though. cries. while the assassin obtains at most the victim's watch and purse. These well-dressed villains ordinarily lack nerve. Supposing. That would be idiotic. and I will have it too. who so readily exchanged the children while nursing them. If I should not succeed! If. Who can say that she has not obliged other persons who had an equal interest in getting rid of her? There is a secret. I will make some inquiries about him. the neighbours heard a terrible quarrel between the couple. in his favor at present. he certainly did not do it himself. wearing patent leather boots of a good make. The question for me is not to prove where he was. in that direction that I must follow up the case now. Can it be he? If so. 'This is for my wife. but they don't assassinate. blows. for in all probability the particulars which have been written for from her birthplace will arrive tomorrow. in cases where one ought to disbelieve even the evidence of one's own senses? Albert is a victim of the most remarkable coincidences. Ah. above all." he murmured. He would simply have replaced one accomplice by another still more dangerous. As to the charges. that is to say absolutely nothing. who is dying from the shock caused by the unexpected announcement of the crime. then. if you please. and smoking trabucos cigars with an amber mouth-piece. stampings. Three persons were interested in Widow Lerouge's death:--Albert. It was even worse in the matter of the little tailor. threats. however striking they may be. the tailor had disappeared from his home. after all. She must have been suppressed for some analogous reason. and plays me false with my workmen. One thing is certain though. therefore. she was not assassinated to prevent Noel recovering his rights. Widow Lerouge. The next day. with the very same knife buried to the hilt between her shoulders. God grant that he may be successful. then suddenly all was quiet. At five o'clock. the Count. My vanity and my mad presumption will deserve the slight punishment of his triumph over me. old Tabaret weighed the charges which were brought against the young man. who is an idle jade. Gevrol is on the right track. Perhaps. There have been many such cases. after having caused the evil. "From the look of things. I should find myself powerless to undo . The heirs of a man assassinated are in reality all benefited by the murder. I am getting at it. it is no use going over them. prompted by similar motives to those of which I suspected Albert. he bought a knife. and the count is a sensible man. but that he was not at La Jonchere. will not give an account of how he passed Tuesday evening. And. had nothing whatever to do with the matter. they are countless. However.' In the evening. then. well! it turned out it was not the husband who had stuck it there. and reckoned the chances which he still had in favour of his release. What do signs prove. but one word might explain them. Yes. it was a jealous lover. He. That does not affect me. they forge. that the count did get hold of some dare-devil fellow. I hope so.

It was no longer with him a question of sleep. a visit too early not to be indiscreet. turning his proud gaze upon the terrified assembly beneath him. He was already at work. the guilty one is----" He pronounced a name. he would seek some less dangerous amusement. he attended Albert's execution. Daburon was never disturbed by a call at eight o'clock in the morning. and he alone did not catch what it was. The darkness made him afraid. To pass the time." Old fool! What could he hope to gain from that bloodhound calling? All sorts of annoyance. rich. but his feet seemed fixed to the ground. Then Albert again cried out: "I am innocent. and the police and justice might get on the best they could without him. A power unknown and irresistible compelled him to look. it was not eight o'clock when he presented himself at the magistrate's house. and to deceive himself as to the time by looking constantly at the clock. Soon the eyes of the condemned man met his own. and had a terrible nightmare.it!" Old Tabaret went to bed. which he had awaited with feverish impatience. that he had boasted of his cunning. At last the day. supported by a priest. dawned. His imagination was so struck with what had just happened that he made unheard of efforts to recall the name pronounced by Albert. that he had plumed himself on his keenness of scent. He would break the connection of which he was ashamed. his collar turned down. shuddering at this last thought. Albert once saved. he could not. on the days when society revenges itself. ascend. presses about the Place de la Rouquette and watches the last convulsions of one condemned to death. trying to occupy his mind with needless details. he dressed himself slowly. Beset with these anxieties. in his own bed. the steep flight of steps leading on to the scaffold. Why had he not taken warning by the little tailor's case. He wished to escape. and that he was actually in his own house." Then a great clamour arose to curse the detective. In spite of all this delay. a good quiet citizen of Paris. and one more generally appreciated. he pointed him. At last the head of the condemned man fell. Poor humanity! He was evidently stark mad the day when he first had the idea of seeking employment in the Rue de Jerusalem. and esteemed by all! And to think that he had been proud of his exploits. He fell asleep. on account of the importance of his business. they say. He tried at least to close his eyes. M. He saw the unhappy man. his hands bound behind his back. that he had been flattered by that ridiculous sobriquet. It was only a dream! But dreams sometimes are. Excuses were superfluous. Recalling his few satisfactions of the past. A noble hobby. "Tirauclair. begging him to excuse. he resolved that he would have no more to do with it. without counting the danger of contributing to the conviction of an innocent man. Not succeeding. and harshly reproached himself for the occupation he had until then so delighted in. the contempt of the world. crying. Lost in that vulgar crowd. It took him some time to convince himself that nothing was real of what he had just heard and seen. and comparing them with his present anguish. and. in a loud voice: "That man is my assassin. and awoke in a cold perspiration. he accused himself most severely. He received the . truly. the crowd repeated this name. for a man of his age. which. with much care. Tabaret uttered a loud cry. M. warnings from heaven. to see if it had not stopped. He saw him standing upon the fatal platform. Tabaret. bursting his cords. the night was full of phantoms. he got up and lighted his candle. out to the crowd.

"but I understand it. He thought his services deserved this slight favour. He was going. Who would have thought his nerves were so sensitive? Doubtless the night had brought deliberation. "Your refusal is cruel. he added. All he wished was to put him on his guard against the presumptions which he himself unfortunately had taken such pains to inspire. His strongest arguments were of no more avail against M. Daburon's absolute conviction than bullets made of bread crumbs would be against a breastplate. who was accused of being grave even to a fault. besides the great happiness of saving an innocent man." That was his only complaint: and he withdrew almost immediately. and it was without the least deception that he commenced his pleading.old amateur detective with his usual kindness. By way of consolation. He wished. He had appealed to the heart. He felt that. They were only at the beginning of the investigation. and submit. he would experience unspeakable delight in avenging himself for the magistrate's obstinacy. He put the case more calmly this time. he might perhaps be able to reconsider this decision." said M. . A repulse at the magistrate's hands had entered too much into M. sir. as the motives which prompted it would then no longer exist. Who knew what testimony the man with the earrings. Daburon refused this request. in three or four days." old Tabaret forced himself to be humble and polite. facts. that. even of Widow Lerouge's past life. He ended by asking permission to communicate with Albert. but. troubled the old man. He desired an interview of only ten minutes without witnesses. he added that. Daburon possessed palpable testimony. and longing to insult and chastise he whom he inwardly styled a "fool of a magistrate. might give? Though in a great rage internally. although doubt is essentially contagious. He declared. for the present. Did not this quizzing hide a determination not to be influenced by anything that he could say? He believed it did. Tabaret's anticipations for him to appear troubled or discouraged. for the present. to busy himself with obtaining more information. And there was nothing very surprising in that. Tabaret. Had he recovered his reason? or had he put his hand on the true criminal? This trifling tone in a magistrate. that all the reasons brought forward by the old man to justify Albert simply reacted against him. Old Tabaret had on his side only a subtle theory. and they were still ignorant of very many things. to keep well posted up in the different phases of the investigation. he would insist no more. the prisoner must continue to remain strictly in solitary confinement. he had full confidence in the magistrate's wisdom and impartiality. and even joked with him a little about his excitement of the previous evening. M. nor in shaking his opinion. and confirmed his guilt. he neither succeeded in convincing the magistrate. he said. who was being pursued by Gevrol. but with all the energy of a well-digested conviction. mere words. More facts might come to light. He declared that. And such was the peculiarity of the case. he now appealed to reason. M. and to be informed of the result of future interrogations. compromised by his imprudence. fearing that he could no longer master his indignation.

Nothing in him. no one had noticed the original of the portrait either at the railway station at Rueil or upon one of the roads which lead to La Jonchere. or at least to make him abandon his system of defence. He recognized one of those natures which are provoked to resistance when assailed. These arrangements made. Daburon." he muttered. He therefore gave up his former tactics. His eyes expressed that cold resolution of a sacrifice freely made. that. the night before. It was only Saturday. as soon as Tabaret had left him. The criminal who has girt up his . But I must find out the real truth of the case between now and then. "What an iron constitution!" thought M. and a certain haughtiness which might be taken for disdain. One deposition alone to that effect would have such great weight. On beholding him. supplied with photographs of the prisoner. Daburon only required three or four days to wring a confession from Albert. who might be shaken but never overcome by misfortune. gestures. but almost always successful. he had gone to the window of his cell. he had made up his mind how to act. when the prisoner entered his office. as they were furnished with a sufficient number to do so. the high road. and sent for Albert. bewildered with the multiplicity of charges. had writhed beneath the magistrate's gaze. the magistrate understood that he would have to change his mode of attack. and the path by the river. He takes things quite at his ease. and appeared ready to succumb. and strengthened when menaced. He arranged for five of the most experienced detectives in the secret service to be sent to Bougival. "that is the same as three or four years to the unfortunate prisoner. his face left no doubt of that. turned all his attention in that direction. It was impossible. this charming magistrate. and had quietly gone to sleep. They were to scour the entire country between Rueil and La Jonchere. After eating lightly. The photographs would greatly aid their efforts. but which expressed the noble resentment of an injured man. but not despairing. and up till then there had not been time to start a proper investigation. Innocent or guilty. informing him hour by hour of the acts. like certain pathetic scenes at theatres. It was a hackneyed trick. the report said. He had not cried out. the day of the murder was remarkable enough to fix people's memories. The difficulty of the prosecution was not being able to produce any witness who had seen the prisoner during the evening of Shrove Tuesday."Three or four days. to inquire everywhere. Albert was no longer the despairing man who. betrayed the criminal. He could still hope for a great deal. Then he laid down. and utterances of the prisoner. Daburon. He had already in the morning received a report. They had orders to show them everywhere and to everybody and even to leave a dozen about the neighbourhood. and make the most minute investigations. who had been carefully watched. He seemed very sad. nor threatened. that M. nor cursed justice. the investigating magistrate proceeded to the Palais de Justice. M. surprised by the rapidity with which they were brought against him. on an evening when so many people were about. and attempted to move him by kindness." Yes. and had there remained standing for more than an hour. nor even spoken of a fatal error. In him could be seen the self-reliant man.

Tabaret had wasted his. M. which has often given the desired result. and full of the liveliest compassion. who. it was a father. His answers were of the shortest. M." Since morning. the greatest indulgence for his child. and was in the highest degree to be pitied. M. Unfortunate man! how greatly he must suffer. no more solitary confinement. What confessions he had obtained with a few tears! No one knew so well as he how to touch those old chords which vibrate still even in the most corrupt hearts: honour. It was no longer the magistrate who spoke. He had had . but in no way revolting to conscience or to reason. and stirred up the ashes of all his extinct affections. Why did he persist in bearing alone his great misfortune? Had he no one in the world who would deem it happiness to share his sufferings? Why this morose silence? Should he not rather hasten to reassure her whose very life depended upon his? What was necessary for that? A single word. His prison would become a habitable abode. if forced to look at the victim of an assassination four days after the crime. he whose whole life had been like one long enchantment. at least forgive up to a certain point. Now M. With Albert.) It was certainly a great crime. if not forget. Daburon spoke for a long time upon this text. Who could have foreseen all this at the time when he was the one hope of a wealthy and illustrious house! Recalling the past. he tortured him by the most mournful allusions to Claire. if not free. Then he would be. Taking advantage of all that he knew of the prisoner's life. the greater in proportion to its lack of sincerity. But he wasted his eloquence precisely as M. finds himself without defence against the wheedling of kindness. his friends would visit him. On this same day. still remained to be tried. he could almost excuse it. love. at least returned to the world. Daburon had not gained the least advantage. How at a single blow everything about him had fallen in ruins. always keeps in the recesses of his heart. by protesting his innocence. Saturday.energy to sustain the shock of intimidation. the magistrate pictured to him the most touching reminiscences of his early youth. What would he have done after the terrible revelation? He scarcely dared ask himself. (Another trap. he might receive whomsoever he wished to see. He began and ended as on the first occasion. he could explain it to himself. He understood the motive which prompted the murder of Widow Lerouge. if she could but speak!" he replied: "That would be very fortunate for me. seeking those things most suitable in his opinion to soften the hardened heart of an assassin. For a moment he imagined himself in Albert's position. Besides was not the Count de Commarin the more guilty of the two? Was it not his folly that prepared the way for this terrible event? His son was the victim of fatality. and family ties. Daburon did even more. Albert appeared in no way affected. And he arrived always at the same conclusion. no matter what happens. Albert was confronted with the corpse of Widow Lerouge. What tribunal would fail to find extenuating circumstances for a moment of frenzy so excusable. One of the bystanders having exclaimed: "Ah. He appeared impressed by the sad sight. Daburon excelled in producing affecting scenes. but no more than anyone would be. he became kind and friendly. One test. It was one of those crimes which society might.--the wisdom of confessing. because the motive was not a shameful one.

in proportion as he reproached himself the more severely. were the prisoner innocent. too. who personally scoured the country round about in a cabriolet drawn by a very swift horse. they stated. too well. he had said: "What the deuce . Daburon passed all Sunday in listening to the reports of the detectives he had sent to Bougival. did any one ever meet a culprit like this. even to abusing his own power. inspired M. to have seen the assassin leave Widow Lerouge's cottage. and he had spoken to them. and urged him on in the path which he had chosen. All the detectives had met him. but as he denied it. absurd in the presence of such absolute proofs. The prisoner's continued calmness filled to overflowing the exasperation of this man so sure of his guilt. and. It seemed as though his honour itself was at stake. they said. he opposed himself to an implacable enemy. He appeared to have under his orders a dozen men. for. "I will compel him to confess!" he muttered between his teeth. he would have found M. It was directed by M. he had been there before them. and his having nearly assassinated him. Tabaret. It was the very falseness of the situation which misled and blinded this magistrate. which compelled the prisoner to say whatever one wished to hear. What could he reasonably hope for from his system of persistent denial? This obstinacy. Never. no matter where they went. They all thought it their duty. Daburon with a feverish hatred. Daburon disposed to pity him. He must have acted with great promptness. Perhaps he regretted those gentle instruments of investigation of the middle ages. who pretended. They had heard many people speak of a woman. but they could report nothing new. and he displayed a passionate activity. Had Albert confessed his guilt. and his having accepted the duty of investigating the case. The investigation became embittered like a personal matter. he now absolutely longed to prove him guilty. thought he. and as the knowledge of his own failings grew. M. In fact. however. To one. Old Tabaret's incomprehensible change of opinion troubled him. he harshly gave the order to re-conduct the prisoner to his cell. It was now less the proofs of Albert's guilt which he sought for than the justification of his own conduct as magistrate. All these feelings combined. his having had the Viscount de Commarin for a rival. They had spared no trouble. The logic of events urged him on. naturally so kind and generous. suddenly ceasing his wheedling. four of whom at least certainly belonged to the Rue de Jerusalem. drove the magistrate into a rage. and now this last attempt had not succeeded either. such as he had never before been known to show in any investigation. but no one had been able to point this woman out to them. He remembered. when.to acknowledge the failure of his manoeuvres. to inform the magistrate that another inquiry was going on at the same time as theirs. and that for a hundred reasons which he was unable to analyze. he felt the more disposed to try everything to conquer his former rival. Having previously wished Albert innocent. His spite was evident to all. or even to give them her name. he would become inexcusable in his own eyes. Had he not repented even to remorse his having signed the warrant of arrest.

But he immediately started with a movement of dismay. He contented himself with merely casting a careless glance into the mirror. at the rustling of a silk dress gliding by the window. His preparations were nearly made. "You are a simple fellow. nor deign even to turn his head. This evening we start for Paris.are you showing this photograph for? In less than no time you will have a crowd of witnesses. and very much out of temper. saying." He had met another on the high-road. "to hunt for a hiding man on the high-way. who. asked to speak with him. and broke into a thousand pieces. that he immediately started for Bougival. he dropped the card-plate. The journey." Again he had accosted two who were together in a cafe at Bougival. he came by Chatois. Tabaret. On returning home. it was brief. or at least were not to be found. "The man is found. where he expected to find Gevrol and his man." M. but to the point: "ROUEN. She declined giving her name. the investigating magistrate found the following telegram from the chief of the detective force awaiting him. and to report his conduct in the proper quarter. "He is a smart fellow. He thought it must be a relation of one or other of the prisoners. when his servant announced that a young lady. He was smoking. however. In his confusion. that she would not refuse it." he said to them. and you may find him." said the magistrate. He was standing before the fireplace. Three people have seen him--two railway porters and a third person whose testimony will be decisive. and the twelve men had all disappeared. for she spoke to him. Daburon was preparing to start for the Palais de Justice. which fell noisily on to the hearth. as if he had seen a ghost. firmly resolved to bring the too zealous man back to Paris. however. and had taken them aside. At the sound of the opening of the door. M. M. the cabriolet. On the Monday morning. whose case he had had in hand when this fresh crime occurred. "I have him. greatly fatigued. . "Show them in. will describe some one more like the portrait than the portrait itself. at nine o'clock. seeking for an address in a small china plate filled with visiting cards. He determined to send her away quickly." he cried out. if it was absolutely necessary in order to be received. and had laughed at him. Daburon became so angry with old Tabaret. GEVROL. and perhaps old Tabaret. to earn three francs. was useless. he did not take the trouble to move." CHAPTER XV. The most valuable testimony. accompanied by another considerably older. the swift horse. look a little aside. Sunday.

for her governess. What was she about to ask of him? What could he refuse her? Ah." Mademoiselle d'Arlange sat down in the large armchair. with a sad smile. you are good. "I only knew of this dreadful event yesterday. since it her forget her habitual timidity. he had at first thought of Mademoiselle d'Arlange. "Yes. if he had but foreseen this? He had not yet got over his surprise. at first. and he was asking himself whether he would be able to resist prayers from such a mouth. The magistrate did not dare take the ungloved hand she held out to him. I know it! How can I ever express my gratitude?" What humiliation for the worthy magistrate were these heartfelt thanks! Yes." Claire had been too troubled herself. where." he replied indistinctly. he replied in the affirmative. and held out her hand to the magistrate in that English style that some ladies can render so gracefully. but since--He bowed his head to avoid Claire's glance. as though he feared too great an emotion. In her eyes. old Tabaret had planned Albert's arrest. whom she had left in the ante-room. Her beauty. had she appeared to him more fascinating. "We are always friends. He divined her object only too easily. She advanced calm and dignified. Her features had an animation which he had never seen in them before. "You know why I have come?" asked the young girl. when they told me that all depended upon you. It was truly Mademoiselle d'Arlange. ordinarily veiled by a sweet sadness. "my grandmother considered it best to hide it from me. One could see that she was conscious of performing a great duty." he stammered. he turned slowly round. With a nod. shone the noblest resolution. at least with that simplicity which in itself is heroism."Claire!" he stammered. proud almost hardly made Never. M. but. usually so and reserved. my fears were dispelled. are we not?" asked she. that you have undertaken this investigation? Oh. She was evidently obeying some powerful emotion. I should still be ignorant of it all. or so. and that she performed it." pursued Claire. He scarcely touched it with the tips of his fingers. two nights previously. so pure and so daring. "I am always devoted to you. What a night I have passed! At first I was terrified. is it not. "I have not the claim that you think upon your gratitude. to notice the . but for my devoted Schmidt. could count. even in the time when a sight of her was his greatest happiness. It is for my sake. "Do not thank me. "Claire!" And as if he feared equally either being deceived by an illusion or actually seeing her whose name he had uttered. if not with pleasure. This young girl. rendered more brilliant by recent tears but partly wiped away. Daburon remained standing leaning against his writing-table. was bright and shining. mademoiselle. had had the courage to come to his house alone. and.

so generous. Give him his liberty quickly. you will not refuse my prayers." "Alas!" sighed the magistrate. sir!" interrupted Claire. he was going to have his revenge. and filled her with self-reproach. I might never have dared go to another magistrate." Claire looked at the investigating magistrate with profound amazement. not knowing me? While you. though easily understood. M. and did not understand the terrible meaning of the exclamation. "I suffer cruelly for you at this moment. would overturn the fragile edifice of this young girl's happiness. like a whirlwind.magistrate's agitation. all your fortitude. unconsciously. to speak to a stranger! Besides. rather than that which he had said. "I am not afraid. The trembling of his voice attracted her attention. mademoiselle. He was really an upright man. what value would another attach to my words. "I thank you all the same. "And if I should tell you. "you cannot think so!" "I do think so. but she did not suspect the cause. expressive of the sincerest pity. Could it be really he who was speaking thus. "and I must add that I am morally certain of it. Albert is not innocent?" She half-raised herself with a protesting gesture. that artless and frank confidence which doubted nothing. satisfaction. Had she heard him aright? Did she understand? She was far from sure. and yet he did not experience the least feeling of a shameful. strengthen your . but I swear to you that he is innocent. will re-assure me. A formal assurance given by her ought to be amply sufficient. but he had quite forgotten that. Had he answered seriously? Was he not deluding her by a cruel unworthy jest? She asked herself this scarcely knowing what she did: for to her everything appeared possible." he commenced. as good as the best. and that he suffered. He who had been so humiliated. "that M. Not daring to raise his eyes. You are my friend. Summon. "If I should tell you that he is guilty?" "Oh. sir. probable. It is far better that you should know everything from the mouth of a friend. The magistrate was silent. He hesitated to pronounce the words which. "And yet. but I have the sad courage to tell you the truth. "With you. Daburon would repair everything. mademoiselle. as is proved from the fact that he trembled at the moment of unveiling the fatal truth." Claire spoke in the positive manner of one who saw no obstacle in the way of the very simple and natural desire which she had expressed. This idea saddened her." exclaimed the magistrate in a sad voice. She thought that her presence recalled sad memories. and you must summon yours to hear it. he continued in a tone. will tell me by what awful mistake he has been arrested like a villain and thrown into prison. so despised. She had commenced by wounding him. He admired that saint-like ignorance of everything. then. I do not know exactly of what he is accused. so low that Claire scarcely heard him. mademoiselle. He continued." she continued." she continued. that he doubtless still loved her. it is true. with a word. you told me so.

in answer to the magistrate's gesture of denial." she persisted. and should himself say. "Must I then. out of which you have so easily made an assassin. ready to cease speaking. I would still cry out. word by word." she cried. he is innocent. To maintain his position. if the shock was too great. that my faith in him is absolute. alone in the world. sir. and dried her tears. and everything. he himself told me of it. He was mistaken. No. oh! so unhappy." "What infamy. "I assert. He watched carefully the result. and I would proclaim it. He did not suppose that this young girl. who pours out drop by drop a dangerous medicine. The flame of indignation flushed her cheeks. The Viscount de Commarin is accused of an assassination. and it is at the very moment our trials are ending that he has become a criminal? Why? tell me. And I have seen him. timid to excess. generosity of feelings. that justice is deceived. proves that he committed it. "but he will confess. in a voice filled with emotion. you understand me. wicked. why?" "Neither the name nor the fortune of the Count de Commarin would descend to him. would be able to hear without flinching such a terrible revelation. "yes. he cannot be an assassin. mademoiselle. I am sure of it. "in order to convince you. he killed her. Claire drew herself up full of energy and courage. "what a shameful. If he were here. nor has he hid one of his from me. It is true. Claire quickly interrupted him. but. I alone can say how worthy he is to be loved. He is. there are more proofs than are needed to convict him. I have not kept a single one of my thoughts from him. and the knowledge of it came upon him with a sudden shock. Do you not see that I know him better even than he can know himself. that for three days this misfortune unmanned him. we have passed through many unhappy days." continued the magistrate. 'It is true. there is no mistake. but to a man! For his sake I will do so. 'It is false!'" "He has not yet admitted it. Justice has not been deceived. and that I am not talking to my mother. tears. "and those who say it are liars! He cannot be--no. there has never been a secret between us. Yes. nobleness of thought. One old woman alone was able to prove this. since we first loved each other. as is my faith in God. The charges against him are as impossible to deny as is the sun which shines upon us. like me." interrupted Mademoiselle d'Arlange. even were the whole world to join with you in accusing him. sir." cried the young girl. forget that I am a young girl. distressing cries. if he . I alone know all that grandeur of soul." "Ah! well. while all the world envied his lot. She might perhaps faint away. and he stood ready to call in the worthy Schmidt. as I lived in him. with a sensitiveness almost a disease.noble soul against a most dreadful misfortune. calumny! I know. Even if he should not. He expected a burst of despair. his father never loved him. I repeat." said she. Since that time. he lived in me. sir.' I would refuse to believe it. sir. For four years. M. Sustained one by the other." Like a doctor. Daburon pronounced this last sentence slowly. that I would doubt myself before doubting him?" The investigating magistrate attempted timidly to make an objection. "It is false. that story of fallen greatness. It is four years.

Was it. Daburon. It is only at the time a thing escapes us that we feel the greatness of the loss. that immense wealth? I owe to them the only unhappiness I have ever known. Can you say that on leaving you he did not give way to despair? Think of the extremities to which it may have led him. "Possibly. without a guide. when he confessed to me that he could no longer give me all that his love dreamed of. Young. then. and after that. but picture to yourself the immensity of the blow which struck M. for having doubted me. then. That smile meant. "I do not understand you. few women would know how to bear it. and he. mademoiselle." she said. you told me so. mademoiselle. But you are young. that prudent and egotistical world. the rest is of no consequence. then. "and yet the circumstances of the crime denote a well-laid plan. and do not be too confident." Mademoiselle d'Arlange ceased speaking. a smile of victory on her lips." Claire tried to grasp what the magistrate was saying. "you talk like the rest of the world. your life will not be ruined. "What advice. it was on my account more than his own. "You do not know. Hide your grief to all. then. God preserve me from doubting all that you have said. he would justify his own conduct to himself. and wait patiently for the issue of this terrible trial. which I despise and hate. have been mad. He thanked me. He was distressed at thinking that perhaps I should be grieved. Always the same predominant idea! In persuading Claire. You used to have in me the confidence a daughter gives to her father. Believe me. you might hereafter regret having exposed it.' I chided him. sir. "how a sudden calamity may effect a good man's reason. alas! you sadly misplaced your first affections. no." "No." "Poor child. I know by experience. Perhaps this is the way the crime should be explained. you are brave. immediately recovered his gaiety." stammered Claire. refuse my advice. saying. Pray. He did not perceive how cruel and offensive was his persistence. He may have been for a time bewildered. but his words reached her only as confused sounds. do you ." Mademoiselle d'Arlange's face grew deathly pale. what can you reply to all that I have said?" The investigating magistrate did not long leave this smiling illusion to the unhappy child. do not. Remain silent and wait.was dismayed. for such things that I loved him? It was thus that I replied to him. so sad. without a mother. and betrayed the utmost terror. it is that of a friend. "unhappy young girl! This is your first deception! Nothing more terrible could be imagined. sir. pitiless even in his compassion. then. and have acted unconsciously. There is no wound. The magistrate thought that at last doubt had begun to effect her pure and noble belief. de Commarin. "At last I have attained my end: you are conquered. inexperienced. you pretend that he cowardly assassinated an old woman? You would not dare repeat it. I grieved? Ah! what to me are that great name. then." he resumed." continued M. "Ah!" she added." she murmured. Listen to my voice. which time does not heal. "He must." replied the magistrate. Hereafter you will feel horrified at this crime. 'You love me. their meaning entirely escaped her.

you will always find a woman near to sustain and console him. Whatever happens." she exclaimed. however humiliated. and your prudence advises me to act with the world. Therefore. In our eyes. but without hope. Teach me.'" The magistrate stopped slightly frightened.' He would have given me half of his prosperity. I speak to you as a kind and devoted brother. the soul still remained firm. Weep. too. I chose Albert voluntarily from amongst all. He will always carry the dishonour. to stop her." "Then. He tried. "that you counsel me to abandon him in his misfortune. I will never desert him. It is no more in my power to cease loving him than it is to arrest. "but I am no coward. and I wish he may be. how to. however low. 'I do not know this man. and of his glory. Strike! I will cling so closely to him that no blow shall touch him without reaching me. There may be certain extenuating circumstances to soften the punishment. a man may be. can decide those questions which human justice must pass by. in a fit of madness?" "Yes. "I may be timid. Between two. whether he wishes it or not. "that he could only have committed this crime in a moment of distraction. M. I say to you: 'Courage. I love him. mademoiselle. "can take that into account. I will share. Claire. Look about you. He is a . by the sole effort of my will. Men behave thus. You counsel me to forget him. resign yourself to the saddest. I forget him? Could I. he will not be less unworthy." The magistrate regretted having been carried away perhaps a little too far. I will never say. the stain of blood cowardly shed. even if I wished? But I do not wish it. sir. but in vain. the beating of my heart. de Commarin is a criminal. it is possible. but forget it." The investigating magistrate forgot a certain troublesome question which he put to himself one morning in bed after his illness. weep for your deceived love. just now. then. "You said. When the last friend has boldly taken to flight. He whom you have loved is no longer worthy of you. however wretched. but women never do. he can not be guilty. half of his shame and of his misfortune. when the last relation has abandoned him.give me?" "The only advice that reason dictates. forget him. I have heard. All the world deserts him. Even if he were acquitted. woman remains. "Neither justice nor society. mademoiselle. yes. Mademoiselle d'Arlange had become livid." Mademoiselle d'Arlange stopped the magistrate with a look in which flashed the strongest resentment. Pray heaven to help you do so. not knowing what he did." he replied. Claire's excitement frightened him. No. and that my affection for you can suggest. But though the body was weak. "That is to say. can judge. the greatest sacrifice which honour can ask of a young girl." she murmured. the burden will be less heavy to bear. God alone. when one of their friends is down. but the moral effect will be the same." she continued with increasing energy. who sees into the depths of our hearts.

his innocence must be proved. to summon aid. Condemned and dishonoured. and stopped him. in all good faith. Mademoiselle. I know it. Your assurance took me unawares. "It is painful. no discernment? Mademoiselle d'Arlange's silence brought the magistrate back to the reality. and inspires those blind and impetuous feelings which to assert themselves rush to the sacrifice all the while longing for it? Have women. God helping me. seem to possess a mysterious power. perhaps feared. too." M. but Claire noticed the movement. but I am not so. You will send him to a convict prison. very strong. let him dispose of it. I have torn aside all veils. "You seemed suffering so. Daburon feared she was about to faint. while others. He moved quickly towards the bell. believe me. If he falls to the bottom of the abyss. Daburon detained her by a gesture. suffers. Having gone so far as to begin. He did not wish Claire to perceive a trace of the emotion which affected him. then. I am strong. It is true that I suffer. I will follow him.prisoner. It is cruel for a young girl to have to do violence to all her feelings. then. M. no reason. No. and breathed with such difficulty that M. it was for his sake. respected. The surgeon who has commenced a painful operation does not leave it half-finished because the patient struggles. nothing short of death! And. that he would thus preserve Claire from herself. Daburon had buried his face in his hands. Overcome by the violence of her emotion. A man like him does not need defence. Was he. He is guilty! What of that? I love him. if he must mount the scaffold. a burning thirst for love. if he were the object of so irresistible a passion as that which burst forth before him! What would he not give in return! He had. nothing will separate me from him. and in the prison. but not loved. That which I do regret is my having lowered my self so far as to defend him. "how she loves him!" His mind was sunk in the darkest thoughts. All the stings of jealousy were rending him. What would not be his delight. I love him. "How she loves him!" he thought. He raised his eyes to her. he persuaded himself that his duty bade him go on to the end. My life is his. He said to himself. you will dishonour him. sir. I shall love him still. but he will forgive me that one doubt. she lay back in her chair. from the blow which kills him. and you have read even the inmost recesses of my heart." As Claire was half-rising to depart. the vilest beings sometimes. accused of murder.--" he began. I shall die. . and he never would be. I will prove it. under the convict's dress. and. But who had ever thought of that? He had been esteemed. and cries out. unworthy of it? Why do so many men pass through life dispossessed of love. "that I----" "It is nothing. So be it. You ought to be satisfied. which charms and seduces. You will condemn him. he thought he would be doing wrong to leave this poor young girl in the slightest way deceived. and spare her in the future many bitter regrets. sir. In his blindness. "What would you do?" she asked. I will fall with him. "I may seem weak. But I do not regret it. as I never believed that one could suffer. I will yet love him." he stammered." replied she. a young and ardent soul.

"Yes. mademoiselle? Very well. mademoiselle. which expressed his determination not to give way to anger." "Oh! enough. "What!" he exclaimed. "You say it was on Shrove Tuesday evening?" "Yes. Albert passed the entire evening you speak of with me. The expression of the most perfect faith represented by some of the Italian painters illuminated her beautiful face while she rendered thanks to God in the effusion of her gratitude. enough!" interrupted Claire. you "If you knew the proofs which I possess. why should I harass you with all these proofs? There is one which alone is decisive. of saving him. from the movement of her lips. you would no longer hope. doubtless." "With you?" stammered the magistrate. He went out. that he forgot to admire her. in return. "if that is your strongest proof." "Ah!" said the magistrate with a sigh of relief." "Ah! I was sure. and only returned home about two o'clock in the morning. however. "Sir. I will give you in detail all the evidence we have collected. the same regard for I would ask you to aid me in the task to devote myself.Claire did not let him finish." M." She clasped her hands. "I told you truly that he could not be guilty. The magistrate was so disconcerted. his clothes soiled and torn. it was evident that she was praying." cried Claire imperiously. I mine. "Well?" he asked impatiently. He wished no one to see him." said she. "all that respect your unhappy conviction. as you are aware. mademoiselle. If you were truly my friend. "You wish it. Poor girl! But has this idea only just occurred to her?" . whose eyes beamed once more with happiness. The sigh signified: "It's all clear--only too evident. Was he dreaming? He hardly knew. he desired to be alone with me. sir. But yet." you can say will be of no avail. "if I detailed them to you." he said in a cold tone. to which I am about would not do so. and his gloves frayed. with me. it exists no longer." replied Claire. at the risk even of compromising her reputation. and the prisoner cannot give an account of what he did on that evening. they all saw him and spoke to him?" "No. at my home. your companion." "Speak. sir. your servants. sir. "the viscount was at your house? Your grandmother. Daburon was astounded. But. She is determined to save him. I ask. and. he came and left in secret. The murder was committed on the evening of Shrove Tuesday. He awaited an explanation." she cried triumphantly. I am entirely yours. "Enough. sir.

"to find Albert guilty? Would it give you such great pleasure to have him convicted? Do you then hate this prisoner. were we criminals. you declared your love for me. mademoiselle. of falsehood. he could get his clothes in the condition in which we found them. "I was only wondering why M." she asked. sir. whose fate is in your hands? One would almost think so. Everything points to M. I remember." murmured the magistrate. and at the same time was red with shame. Daburon. "Your surprise is an insult. mademoiselle. I examine him." Mademoiselle d'Arlange's haughty. that is not enough. She thought that M. grief." he answered severely. "I had no such insulting thought as you imagine." She spoke thus. be glad. sir. armed with the law. revenging yourself upon a rival?" "This is too much. I arrest him. It appeared .'" "My word. I still wonder. we should never pray nor ask for pardon. "I am a magistrate." "That is to say. then." said she. the dangerous position we are in at this moment? One day. How harshly she treated him! And simply because he would not consent to be her dupe." replied Claire bitterly. She began to hate M. "Above all. we should not descend to justifying ourselves. contemptuous tone could only anger the magistrate. mademoiselle. A crime has been committed. Now it is the magistrate to whom you speak: and it is the magistrate who answers. So long as you addressed me as a friend. sir. sir.--" "Prove it!" Mademoiselle d'Arlange rose slowly. You come and tell me that they are false. then. "that you doubt my word!" "The circumstances are such. 'Prove it. you found me kind and gentle. Know that. Can you answer for your impartiality? Do not certain memories weigh heavily in the scale? Are you sure that you are not. how. on such a visit." said the magistrate. and anger. sir. and I find overwhelming proofs against him.The "Ah!" was interpreted very differently by Mademoiselle d'Arlange. "Would you. "this is too much!" "Do you know the unusual. "Mademoiselle!" "A daughter of my family. when his approaching marriage gave him the right to present himself openly at all hours. Albert de Commarin as the guilty man.--" "You accuse me. casting upon the magistrate a look full of astonishment and suspicion. sir. Daburon was astonished at her consenting to receive Albert. de Commarin went secretly to your house. may receive her betrothed without danger of anything occurring for which she would have to blush. and I have a duty to perform.

But these hesitations. which he said had been extorted from him. it is necessary to convince others. alone. therefore. The next day I awaited him impatiently and distracted. It was necessary. "If I have unjustly offended you. Such was the state of affairs. From you alone could I pardon what you have just said. The Count de Commarin would not accept me for a daughter-in-law. but yet highly improbable?" Tears came into Claire's eyes. and you are his judge. "Sir. She decided. because I loved another. had deeply hurt my grandmother. He wondered what fable she was about to concoct. If you think that Albert's fate depends upon my pleasure. in this case. when. Our whole future. It took Albert five years to triumph over his father's objections. I did not hesitate. you are mistaken. Though the wedding day had been fixed." "Then sir. which made her choose all those words which found an echo in his heart? "Mademoiselle. for two hours in the afternoon. and yet you seem to be against him. and I pitied you. my unhappiness makes me forget myself. I must confess she was right. Daburon's heart like a slap on his face. and." said she. Albert should only be admitted into the house every other day. He told me that pressing business would prevent his coming. I believe. Your ignorance of things makes you unjust. and in her presence. the marchioness declared that we should not be compromised nor laughed at again for any apparent haste to contract a marriage so advantageous. In undertaking the investigation you acquired an opportunity to help him. I sent him word to . it touched me. praying to you for him. refusals. because I am poor. that he should have a long conversation with me. But what weight will others attach to your testimony." M." said he. You know her sensitive nature. that we had often before been accused of ambition. he gave his consent of his own accord. and I find myself between you two. he added. delays." began Claire. At last." "You cannot offend me. To convince me is nothing. That I should believe you is all very natural. when his valet brought Schmidt a note for me. Now that other is accused of murder. help me to prove the truth of what I have said. In that letter. twice he recalled his consent. I know you. He left me to fix the day and hour. depended upon this interview." Every word Claire uttered fell upon M. although it was his regular day. and without delay. Albert entreated me to grant him an interview.to me sincere and honest. a note came to me from Albert. I will tell you everything. about a month ago. he wrote. but her confidence astonished him. "pardon me. Daburon was fully convinced that Claire was seeking to deceive him. "your grief has been too much for you. sir. What could have happened to keep him away? I feared some evil. Was it really she who was speaking? Whence came this sudden boldness. I was obliged to refuse you. "you know what obstacles have stood in the way of my marriage with Albert." replied the magistrate. sir. mademoiselle. I possess nothing. "I have already told you that I am devoted to your service. urging me to confide in no one. until the publication of the banns. that. Twice the count yielded. on Sunday morning. when you go to them with a true story--most true. We could not get her to alter this determination.

you must understand. as you know." This account. Albert?" "On Tuesday." "All my anticipations. which I laid down alongside the wall when he had reached the other side.meet me on the Tuesday evening. to tell me of the misfortune which had befallen him. At the third stroke." "Excuse me a minute. and I thought that. He went back in the same manner. then. the top is covered with pieces of broken glass. but without success. I knew that my grandmother had invited a number of her friends for that evening. and I at once tried it. when nine o'clock struck. that Madame d'Arlange would keep Schmidt with her. only with less danger. that what he had to say admitted of no delay. also. To inform me of his presence. I then begged him to postpone our interview. and rapidly wrote two letters. and so be free. by pretending a headache. and I thought of Paul and Virginia. The wall is very high. he declared that he would climb over the wall." continued Claire. through the door. we took shelter in the summer house." interrupted M. I was in despair. because he opened his umbrella. Continue." "Excuse me. mademoiselle. mademoiselle. I expected. and had suffered martyrdom. "what day did you write to M. It was past midnight when Albert left me. I could not make it turn. Unfortunately. mademoiselle. which opens into an unfrequented street. But he laughed at my fears. Daburon. in front of the grove. the lock was so rusty. sir." "Can you fix the hour?" "I must have sent the letter between two and three o'clock. and got over without hurting himself. We were speaking. "were realised. and I went into the garden a little before the appointed time. fearing an accident. that he might try and unlock the door. during three days he had hesitated about confiding in me. At last." said the magistrate. and the acacia branches stretch out above like a hedge." "Thanks." he asked. unless I absolutely forbade him to do so. I retired during the evening. as the rain was falling. he was to knock just as nine o'clock chimed at the Invalides. I begged him not to do so. Daburon. that. He sat down at his desk. Fortunately. and said that. at the little garden gate. and trembled like a leaf. I told him of the accident. He tried. he was going to attempt to scale the wall. We first of all sat down upon the little seat you know of. I exerted all my strength in vain. he . What was he to think? "Mademoiselle. because I made him use the gardener's ladder. and I threw him the key. I had procured the key of the little door. sir. quieted and almost gay. Albert knocked. he is very active. I might retire early. the first drops fell when we were on the seat. and he risked it. I was very frightened. given in the simplest and most natural manner. Albert climbed over the wall?" "No. I dared not say no. and that he could endure it no longer. puzzled M. He replied that it was impossible. He had come. I recollect it very well. I pray. In the first. "had the rain commenced to fall when M.

he will not be far off. if he is only freed?" M. that when we wish to be." Claire did not hear him. In the second. What sublime devotion in this young girl. If it is found in his possession. and examine the wall at the bottom of the garden. it will well prove that he was in the garden.gave orders for Albert to be brought at once to his office in the Palais de Justice. If Constant is not in my office. Having finished writing. which you must take to my clerk." he murmured. "Here." "I will give orders respecting it. he must have forgotten to do so. if any such existed. have him sought for. in which M." said he. and believe ourselves alone. and inquire if any of them saw Albert that night. who soon appeared. What of that. and make a note of any marks of its having been scaled. felt in her pocket." "Inquire of your servants! Can you dream of such a thing. as he is waiting for me. I even think I have it with me. consequently the marks of the going and returning would be different from each other. This compromising letter happened to be very conveniently in Claire's pocket. Go quickly!" M. Daburon then turned and said to Claire: "Have you kept the letter. "the key which I threw to Albert. sir. we are nevertheless observed. all of my grandmother's servants. "No date. and drew out a much crumpled piece of paper. the magistrate rang for his servant. whether she spoke the truth or not! He could understand the violence she had been doing to her feelings during the past hour. and to have the orders they contain executed at once. He explained that the wall had been climbed twice. you understand. "Here it is!" The investigating magistrate took it. take a cab. "are two letters. At a glance. I beseech you. He enjoined upon the detective to proceed with the utmost caution. he read the ten lines of the note." said she suddenly. Summon. both before and during the rain. Constant. Germain to the d'Arlange house. and yet young girls do not usually carry about with them requests for secret interviews. he did not return it to me. she was racking her brain to find other proofs of the interview. Tell him to read them. Albert asked for this interview?" "Yes. A suspicion crossed his mind. "it often happens." She arose." she added. he who knew her character so well. "Sir. nothing at all. and to invent a plausible pretext which would explain his investigations.--at once. mademoiselle. mademoiselle?" "What. sir? You fear that I shall be compromised. he directed a detective to go immediately to the Faubourg St." . mademoiselle. and be quick! Ah! one word. Run. "no stamp. Daburon could not help admiring her. "That is not all.

" continued the magistrate." "Ah. but what matters public opinion. "Is it necessary. My clerk will take down your testimony. "all that you have told me here. and expose me to committing a most deplorable error. I will do so with pleasure." applied. that the words. "This is not all yet. It could only been the one Claire had sent him. the action and the remark. the blame or approval of the world. mademoiselle. I would have presented myself. Daburon. "That is already done. a secret examination. then. thanks!" she said." replied M. de Commarin could lead justice astray. and the sentiments expressed by Mademoiselle d'Arlange gave a meaning to one of Albert's replies in the examination. "I will not hide from you that one of the letters which I have just sent off ordered an examination of your grandmother's wall. There was none. readjusting her cloak and the strings of her bonnet. But I have still another idea: Albert ought to have the note I wrote on Tuesday. since I am sure of his love?" She rose from her seat." continued Claire. He ought to risk his life sooner than the honour of her who has trusted in him. She imagined she felt a touch of irony in the magistrate's reply. This proceeding will be painful to you." Claire drew back. What can I refuse. "Can you understand. Yes." "No. and for the second time held out her hand to the magistrate. He understood. I would have gone there. "She cannot resist me. I should have been looked upon as a heroine of romance. M."There is still another thing. "I should have been greatly compromised. when I know that he is in prison? I was determined to do everything." There was nothing to reply to this. you must repeat in my office." She seemed to think of everything. Doubtless. sir. Daburon remembered the letter thrown into the fire by Albert on the Tuesday afternoon. now. but be assured Albert relied on me. be assured. though. and there before all I would have told the truth. however. "Oh. when it would have been so easy to have told me all this?" "It seems to me. mademoiselle. "while I am here." he next asked. sir. he burnt it. until he has full permission from her to do so. but it is a necessary formality. that an honourable man cannot confess that he has obtained a secret interview from a lady. If he had been tried at the assizes. and you must sign it. at the Palais de Justice. send some one to examine the wall. It was to her. mademoiselle. "how M." she asked. mademoiselle. "a thousand thanks! Now I can well see that you are with me. "that I should await the return of the police agents who are examining the wall?" ." she added sadly." Claire rose joyfully.

M.--the Count de Commarin. upon my honour. Ah! if it depended upon me alone. sank back again in his chair." her eyes implored. but she had already disappeared. "he has no need of pardon. "to let Albert out of prison. He is his father. now. Ah. "And that is what she is!" he murmured. and prevent her. But. Why am I only a woman? Can I not find one man who will help me? Yes. He was choking with emotion. "impracticable. mademoiselle. "Miserable girl that I am!" she cried."It is needless. could no longer restrain her sobs. and resist." . mademoiselle. at once! Since he is innocent. most decidedly no! But she might have been herself deceived. be kind. "conjure you. "I can only beseech you. dear M. "there is one man who owes himself to Albert." she continued in a sweet voice. I give you my word. to-day." "He shall be liberated as soon as possible. he is in prison." she clasped her hands. His eyes filled with tears. see you weep. well! I will remind him that he still has a son. and yet I can do nothing for him! Great heaven! inspire me with accents to touch the hearts of men! At whose feet must I cast myself to obtain his pardon?" She suddenly stopped." Mademoiselle d'Arlange. might have been the dupe of some skillful trick. even were he guilty. Do you wish me to go down on my knees?" The magistrate had only just time to extend his arms. "he is suffering. "Pardon!" she repeated fiercely. and he felt that he would never be consoled for not having won her love in return. Daburon." "Then. I am free. and yet he has abandoned him. Daburon." she said after a moment's reflection." The magistrate rose to see her to the door. In that case old Tabaret's prediction was now realised. Tabaret had said: "Look out for an indisputable _alibi_. to-day. hitherto so firm. taking the kind-hearted Schmidt with her. in the midst of his meditations. since he it was who put him in this position. the unhappy man! Ah! how much he envied the prisoner's lot! "That which you ask of me is impossible. I could not." "Oh. I beg of you. more dead than alive." He had never loved her so much. Had Claire spoken the truth? Had she not been playing a part previously prepared? No. a sudden thought passed like a flash across his brain." said he in an almost inaudible voice. for you are our friend. surprised at having uttered such a word. "Ah! I made no vulgar choice! I had divined and understood all her good qualities.

How could he show the falsity of this one, planned in advance, affirmed by Claire, who was herself deceived? How could he expose a plan, so well laid that the prisoner had been able without danger to await certain results, with his arms folded, and without himself moving in the matter? And yet, if Claire's story were true, and Albert innocent! The magistrate struggled in the midst of inextricable difficulties, without a plan, without an idea. He arose. "Oh!" he said in a loud voice, as though encouraging himself, "at the Palais, all will be unravelled."

CHAPTER XVI. M. Daburon had been surprised at Claire's visit. M. de Commarin was still more so, when his valet whispered to him that Mademoiselle d'Arlange desired a moment's conversation with him. M. Daburon had broken a handsome card-plate; M. de Commarin, who was at breakfast, dropped his knife on his plate. Like the magistrate he exclaimed, "Claire!" He hesitated to receive her, fearing a painful and disagreeable scene. She could only have, as he knew, a very slight affection for him, who had for so long repulsed her with such obstinacy. What could she want with him? To inquire about Albert, of course. And what could he reply? She would probably have some nervous attack or other; and he would be thoroughly upset. However, he thought of how much she must have suffered; and he pitied her. He felt that it would be cruel, as well as unworthy of him, to keep away from her who was to have been his daughter-in-law, the Viscountess de Commarin. He sent a message, asking her to wait a few minutes in one of the little drawing-rooms on the ground floor. He did not keep her waiting long, his appetite having been destroyed by the mere announcement of her visit. He was fully prepared for anything disagreeable. As soon as he appeared, Claire saluted him with one of those graceful, yet highly dignified bows, which distinguished the Marchioness d'Arlange. "Sir--," she began. "You come, do you not, my poor child, to obtain news of the unhappy boy?" asked M. de Commarin.

He interrupted Claire, and went straight to the point, in order to get the disagreeable business more quickly over. "No sir," replied the young girl, "I come, on the contrary, to bring you news. Albert is innocent." The count looked at her most attentively, persuaded that grief had affected her reason; but in that case her madness was very quiet. "I never doubted it," continued Claire; "but now I have the most positive proof." "Are you quite sure of what you are saying?" inquired the count, whose eyes betrayed his doubt. Mademoiselle d'Arlange understood his thoughts; her interview with M. Daburon had given her experience. "I state nothing which is not of the utmost accuracy," she replied, "and easily proved. I have just come from M. Daburon, the investigating magistrate, who is one of my grandmother's friends; and, after what I told him, he is convinced that Albert is innocent." "He told you that, Claire!" exclaimed the count. "My child, are you sure, are you not mistaken?" "No, sir. I told him something, of which every one was ignorant, and of which Albert, who is a gentleman, could not speak. I told him that Albert passed with me, in my grandmother's garden, all that evening on which the crime was committed. He had asked to see me--" "But your word will not be sufficient." "There are proofs, and justice has them by this time." "Heavens! Is it really possible?" cried the count, who was beside himself. "Ah, sir!" said Mademoiselle d'Arlange bitterly, "you are like the magistrate; you believed in the impossible. You are his father, and you suspected him! You do not know him, then. You were abandoning him, without trying to defend him. Ah, I did not hesitate one moment!" One is easily induced to believe true that which one is anxiously longing for. M. de Commarin was not difficult to convince. Without thinking, without discussion, he put faith in Claire's assertions. He shared her convictions, without asking himself whether it were wise or prudent to do so. Yes, he had been overcome by the magistrate's certitude, he had told himself that what was most unlikely was true; and he had bowed his head. One word from a young girl had upset this conviction. Albert innocent! The thought descended upon his heart like heavenly dew. Claire appeared to him like a bearer of happiness and hope. During the last three days, he had discovered how great was his affection for Albert. He had loved him tenderly, for he had never been able to discard him, in spite of his frightful suspicions as to his

paternity. For three days, the knowledge of the crime imputed to his unhappy son, the thought of the punishment which awaited him, had nearly killed the father. And after all he was innocent! No more shame, no more scandalous trial, no more stains upon the escutcheon; the name of Commarin would not be heard at the assizes. "But, then, mademoiselle," asked the count, "are they going to release him?" "Alas! sir, is just, is that it was depended on aid." I demanded that they should at once set him at liberty. It it not, since he is not guilty? But the magistrate replied not possible; that he was not the master; that Albert's fate many others. It was then that I resolved to come to you for

"Can I then do something?" "I at least hope so. I am no one in the world. I do from prison. There ought, justice. Will you not try father?" only a poor girl, very ignorant; and I know not know what can be done to get him released however, to be some means for obtaining all that can be done, sir, you, who are his

"Yes," replied M. de Commarin quickly, "yes, and without losing a minute." Since Albert's arrest, the count had been plunged in a dull stupor. In his profound grief, seeing only ruin and disaster about him, he had done nothing to shake off this mental paralysis. Ordinarily very active, he now sat all day long without moving. He seemed to enjoy a condition which prevented his feeling the immensity of his misfortune. Claire's voice sounded in his ear like the resurrection trumpet. The frightful darkness was dispelled; he saw a glimmering in the horizon; he recovered the energy of his youth. "Let us go," he said. Suddenly the radiance in his face changed to sadness, mixed with anger. "But where," he asked. "At what door shall we knock with any hope of success? In the olden times, I would have sought the king. But to-day! Even the emperor himself cannot interfere with the law. He will tell me to await the decision of the tribunals, that he can do nothing. Wait! And Albert is counting the minutes in mortal agony! We shall certainly have justice; but to obtain it promptly is an art taught in schools that I have not frequented." "Let us try, at least, sir," persisted Claire. "Let us seek out judges, generals, ministers, any one. Only lead me to them. I will speak; and you shall see if we do not succeed." The count took Claire's little hands between his own, and held them a moment pressing them with paternal tenderness. "Brave girl!" he cried, "you are a noble, courageous woman, Claire! Good blood never fails. I did not know you. Yes, you shall be my daughter; and you shall be happy together, Albert and you. But we must not rush

about everywhere, like wild geese. We need some one to tell us whom we should address,--some guide, lawyer, advocate. Ah!" he cried, "I have it,--Noel!" Claire raised her eyes to the count's in surprise. "He is my son," replied M. de Commarin, evidently embarrassed, "my other son, Albert's brother. The best and worthiest of men," he added, repeating quite appropriately a phrase already uttered by M. Daburon. "He is a advocate; he knows all about the Palais; he will tell us what to do." Noel's name, thus thrown into the midst of this conversation so full of hope, oppressed Claire's heart. The count perceived her affright. "Do not feel anxious, dear child," he said. "Noel is good; and I will tell you more, he loves Albert. Do not shake your head so; Noel told me himself, on this very spot, that he did not believe Albert guilty. He declared that he intended doing everything to dispel the fatal mistake, and that he would be his advocate." These assertions did not seem to reassure the young girl. She thought to herself, "What then has this Noel done for Albert?" But she made no remark. "I will send for him," continued M. de Commarin; "he is now with Albert's mother, who brought him up, and who is now on her deathbed." "Albert's mother!" "Yes, my child. Albert will explain to you what may perhaps seem to you an enigma. Now time presses. But I think--" He stopped suddenly. He thought, that, instead of sending for Noel at Madame Gerdy's, he might go there himself. He would thus see Valerie! and he had longed to see her again so much! It was one of those actions which the heart urges, but which one does not dare risk, because a thousand subtle reasons and interests are against it. One wishes, desires, and even longs for it; and yet one struggles, combats, and resists. But, if an opportunity occurs, one is only too happy to seize it; then one has an excuse with which to silence one's conscience. In thus yielding to the impulse of one's feelings, one can say: "It was not I who willed it, it was fate." "It will be quicker, perhaps," observed the count, "to go to Noel." "Let us start then, sir." "I hardly know though, my child," said the old gentleman, hesitating, "whether I may, whether I ought to take you with me. Propriety--" "Ah, sir, propriety has nothing to do with it!" replied Claire impetuously. "With you, and for his sake, I can go anywhere. Is it not

and the servant drew back to let them pass. The gallant and elegant politeness of the friend of the Count d'Artois reappeared. They were the parish priest. Then. sir. Noel had strictly forbidden her to admit any visitors. de Commarin's and Claire's salutations. "it is but right that I should devote to you the youth you have restored to me. the pedestrians had to get out of the way." "Very well. and he thought that he was called upon to introduce himself. Lazare. they seemed to inquire their business: but this hesitation was brief. Three persons were in the room into which the servant introduced the count and Mademoiselle d'Arlange. in response to M. the doctor. he said to the footman: "Rue St. Aided by the concierge's directions." In descending the steps. "You will excuse me. holding tightly to the balustrade. then. But the coachman was a skillful driver. then. an officer of the Legion of Honour. In bowing." said the count. He advanced. but the Count de Commarin was one of those whose appearance makes servants forget all their orders. "M. who will come back here and await my return. quick!" Whenever the count said "quick. ringing the bell violently. He was. Noel Gerdy?" he asked of the servant. She did not know where he had gone. "We will wait for him. I did not . but he had said he should not be out more than half an hour." he said. and explain his visit. The count mounted slowly. for the soldier almost immediately offered Mademoiselle d'Arlange a chair." As soon as Claire had entered the carriage. and a tall man. The advocate had just that moment gone out. and arrived without accident. They were conversing near the fireplace. the count and the young girl went towards Madame Gerdy's apartments. stopping at every landing to recover his breath.indispensable that I should give some explanations? Only send word to my grandmother by Schmidt." on entering his carriage. "My carriage. about to see her again! His emotion pressed his heart like a vice. then. I am ready. gentlemen." said he. whose figure and bearing indicated the old soldier. he insisted upon Claire's taking his arm. The count considered that his presence was inopportune. and the arrival of strangers appeared to astonish them exceedingly. "if I am indiscreet. he called to the servant. "You have taken twenty years from my age." said the count.

I presume. "She is. and he made a threatening gesture. She was very uneasy all last night: she had moments of fierce delirium. and drew near the count. Since last evening. the old soldier let go the back of the chair which he was still holding and haughtily raised his head. whom I have the most pressing need of seeing. Madame Gerdy's condition?" The doctor. he did not even raise his eyes. and as if to bear out the doctor's words. After a moment of chilling silence. Dark presentiments oppressed her. but he restrained himself. Claire understood nothing of this strange scene. Poor woman! I have known her ten years. M. I have been to see her nearly every week. An angry light flashed in his eyes. He hesitated to inquire further. close to him? His thoughts . While Mademoiselle d'Arlange sat down rather surprised. Now. and asked in a low voice. He was very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to a person as celebrated as the Count de Commarin." The count pressed his hand against his forehead. "What is. and we sent for M. went up to the priest. I am the Count de Commarin. there has been a great change." At this name. "and it is a sad misfortune. the door of which was slightly open. he resolved to go on. About an hour ago. l'Abbe." said the doctor.think of being so when I asked to wait for Noel. we thought she was recovering her senses. l'Abbe. de Commarin. trembling from head to foot. "Do you hear?" exclaimed the count. who had also drawn near. He remained insensible to everything. "Yes. "No. however. and to become acquainted with him. "that she cannot live throughout the day. and retired. they heard stifled cries from the next room. She grew frightened. Her reason is quite gone. and have resented it. in there?" asked M. but it did not escape Claire. rose from her chair." put in the priest. "I fear. though. Neither the count nor the two other men noticed his strange behaviour. and approached quickly. Almost at the same instant. sir. sir. sir. to the window. much embarrassed at his position. she felt as though she were enveloped in an atmosphere of evil. the count." "Very needlessly. as if he were about to speak. I never knew a more worthy person." harshly answered the old soldier. heard the question. "Does she recognise her friends?" he murmured. bowing his head. I pray. At any other time." "She must suffer dreadfully. the count would have noticed the soldier's tone. who had a sharp ear." he said. Was she not there. His lips moved. as though he had felt a sudden pain there.

He did not recognise her. exposing her shoulders and emaciated arms." The count started. He gently motioned him away. assumed an expression of infinite tenderness. de Commarin. Her contracted features relaxed. He did not perceive that which immediately struck all the other persons present--the transformation in the sick woman.were in the past. she would perceive nothing!" said the priest. and her eyes. "Nothing need prevent the count's entering Madame Gerdy's room. O my God! I have waited for you! You cannot think what I have suffered by your absence. Claire and the old soldier remained at the threshold of the door. "That is impossible. as if he had been struck. it seemed to him but yesterday that he had quitted her for the last time." put in the doctor. he lowered them like a criminal before his judge. Could this dying woman really be Valerie? He taxed his memory severely. "She would probably not notice his presence. or rather divined his presence. The doctor and the priest entered with him. "Why?" stammered the count. But she knew him. You were angry when you left me. "you have come at last! How long. With supernatural strength. who purposely saw nothing of all this. "At least." said he at last to the count." he said timidly. that is not it. the adored Valerie of his youth. a celestial joy spread over her face. Your friends wished to separate us. and throwing back her still plentiful hair. facing the bed. I remember. "Guy. then pushing away the ice from her forehead. she remained quite insensible. "I have just spoken to her. He wished to. The count took three or four steps. but could not go further. she cried. "I should very much like to see her. "Enter. nothing in those withered features. Who kept you from me? Your parents again? How cruel of them! Did you not tell them that no one could love you here below as I do? No. they ." The old soldier reflected deeply. I should have died of grief. she raised herself. "perhaps it is God's will. had it not been for the hope of seeing you again." The count tottered so that the doctor offered to assist him." said she in a voice heartrending by its sweetness. His eyes encountered the officer's." replied the old soldier. sunken by disease. nothing in that distorted face. "Guy! Guy!" The count trembled all over. "let her die in peace. M. bathed with water and perspiration. taken her hand. and was obliged to stop." replied the soldier. and if--" "Oh. recalled the beautiful.

jealous. why did we leave our dear little room? There. Who have I injured that I should have so many enemies! They envied my happiness. You told me you were a poor student. Oh my dearest. we would have hid ours like a crime. Do you remember the queer spelling in my first letter? Ah. "only a madman would believe it. and such darling little boots. if you had really only been a poor student! When I knew that you were so rich. Every one was talking of the money you spent on me. and unknown. Yet. You were proud of our love. in spite of my apprehensions. my thoughtlessness. alone. you published it abroad. one Sunday. I feared that you would think me covetous. O my darling. for I was so ignorant that I scarcely knew how to sign my name. and this awful doubt makes them mistrustful. I thought you were depriving yourself for me. that it was a shame to walk out in them! But you had deceived me! You were not a poor student. It was lovely. your very own. with the new paper all covered with flowers. do you remember? I was working for a lace maker. they can never be sure whether it is themselves or their gold which is loved. and by leaning out a little we could see the sun set through the arches of the bridges. and was barely earning a living. how many years had passed away since then! "After that. you brought me a more beautiful dress than I had ever dreamed of. the count had thought his heart dead. but you only sunk me lower. I felt that I was born for you. for are you not here?" The nun. Oh. and we were so happy! But you did not believe the wicked calumny. Am I not yours. opened her eyes with astonishment. You thought to raise me. "we left the Quai Saint-Michel. my gaiety. I lost my simplicity. "I deceive you?" continued the dying woman. How delightful it was! From the window. we could see the great trees of the Tuileries gardens. we were happy. You insisted on having our little apartment on the Quai Saint-Michel done up. dressed in liveries covered with gold lace. Only the previous evening. How I blushed at the flaunting luxury you thrust upon . must be unhappy! They must be always doubting and full of suspicions. those happy days! The first time that we went into the country together. Vainly I asked you in mercy to leave me in obscurity. That evening you told me the truth. You told me. Men who. Was I not yours. that you would imagine that your fortune influenced my love. who had risen on seeing so many persons enter the sick room. like you. Soon the whole town knew that I was your mistress. that." continued Madame Gerdy. have millions. Guy. from the very first? I never hesitated to give myself entirely to you. I could not believe my eyes. why did you tell me?" Had she her reason. and I obeyed. that you were a nobleman and immensely rich. You provided teachers for me. You wished it. Why did you not leave me always where you first found me? Did you not know that the sight of happiness irritates mankind? If we had been wise. to please you. I met you in an elegant carriage. with tall footmen. One day. and the doctor and the priest were touched by the sad spectacle of an old man weeping like a child. Guy. which we hung ourselves. behind. you scorned it. and cruel. when taking my work home. heart and soul? To me you are everything: and there is nothing I could expect or hope for from another which you have not already given me. I ought to look like a great lady.said that I was deceiving you with another. and now this penetrating voice was sufficient to regain the fresh and powerful feelings of his youth. or was this a mere delirium? Great tears rolled down the Count de Commarin's wrinkled face.

the wretches! They set spies upon me. my dear Louis! When he was eighteen years old." said she. noble young girl is giving herself to him." she muttered. a pure. because my beauty became celebrated. in that room so associated with you. I have asked heaven what crime I had committed that I should be so terribly punished? This was the crime. Guy. I wept. as those women who make their lovers commit the greatest follies. "let her speak. 'At this moment. I took . he enlisted. and I remained your mistress. Louis always loved me. "These people are very foolish." She thought she had more sense than the others. they discovered that an officer came frequently to see me. many such deliriums before. "who told you I was deceiving you? Oh. Ah. which has so often pressed my lips. and finally became major. he was more jealous of your honour than you yourself! He came to see me in secret. and you were marrying another! I said to myself. and he was so enraged that I feared he would never forgive me. she said to herself. because I placed him in the unhappy position of blushing for his sister. and waited with feverish emotion for her to resume." continued the sick woman. Unhappy woman! I should have fled from you. Was not my name in the papers? And it was through the same papers that I heard of your approaching marriage. They listened breathlessly. Ah. and your wife died. He was promoted a lieutenant. she had fallen upon her knees. Mademoiselle d'Arlange had not the strength to remain standing. to the most humiliating." "Sister!" remonstrated the doctor and priest at the same moment. I resigned myself. and I knew that she loved you as only I could. the most shameful of positions. and then scarcely for a minute. 'What oaths is that mouth. I only saw her once. or you will catch cold. Oh. saying to my mother. madame.me! You were satisfied. saying that my constancy in my error was its only excuse. and was pressing her handkerchief to her mouth to keep back her sobs. but she looked at you. what anguish I suffered during that terrible evening. but none of the bystanders moved. But he did forgive me. had he remained in Paris I should not have fallen. I was alone in my own home. she began to cover up the sick woman. he taught himself. now taking?' Often since that dreadful misfortune. "to pay so much attention to the ramblings of a person out of her mind. and I was left all alone in this great city.' I said again. Could a brave soldier confess that his sister was the mistress of a count? That it might not be known." "Who. without an effort. But our mother died. People talked about me. because my shame became so too. and being unable to obtain work. He was a good soldier. unconscious of all that was passing about her. so. He was a non-commissioned officer when he first knew that I had a lover. but I had not the courage. "For God's sake!" exclaimed the soldier. I remained your mistress. my friend. He worked whilst with his regiment. Was not this woman Albert's mother? The worthy nun was alone unmoved. "cover yourself. "Come. She understood absolutely nothing of what was passing. she had seen. You were married. never to mention his name. it was our love that killed her!" She stopped exhausted. that there would then be one mouth the less in the family. and he quickly rose in rank. approaching the bed. I had condemned myself never to speak of him. then captain. and his officers always liked him. But that officer was my brother.

When Louis knew what was said. passions and interests are forgotten. Guy. stretched out her arm in the direction where Noel stood. God will punish us. my only friend! I have neither the power to resist. I see my son coming towards me. which can replace a mother's love. kiss me!" She opened her arms. Never! What! you would have that woman embrace my boy! It is impossible. my tears. "what my sister says is the truth. he wished in his blind rage to challenge you. I should die. a soldier's word. O my God. I am afraid I am not very pretty today. this is too much! Guy! pardon! oh. The day will come when these children will demand a fearful reckoning. the thought of it alone is a crime. I have paid dearly for my years of stolen happiness! But you are here. can nothing move you? Ah.the utmost precautions." said the old soldier. help! A son strike his mother. Guy. A terrible shudder shook her frame. "Assassin!" She fell back convulsively on the bed. leave him to me. He pretends not to believe me. and in a loud voice exclaimed. I foresee the future. in its presence." The dying woman did not hear him. and then. sweet memories of our love! My son. No! My child is mine. What is a mother without her child? You are anxious to give him an illustrious name. he will tell you that I do not lie. but never mind. The world has no honours. those letters. Guy? I will write to Louis. I will keep him. great heaven! Oh. do not insist. he threatens me! He strikes me! Ah. her eyes grew inordinately large. and you cannot doubt his. Some one hastened forward: she was dead. on my honour. even the strongest and most sceptical bow their heads. You wish to give me in exchange. well. no riches. and the terror which accompanies it. and thrust out her lips as if to kiss him. though. She raised herself on her pillows. Guy. All will be discovered. Take away this strange child from me. that you will leave me my child? Oh! I beg of you. do not leave me. Involuntarily we are drawn together. and Noel appeared. do not threaten me with anger. those letters. pale as usual. justly angered. I want my own! Ah. he fills me with horror. The dying woman saw him. and the sight affected her like an electric shock. Cannot my prayers. and then I was obliged to make him think that he had no right to defend me. Such is the majesty of death. For a time. A deep silence prevailed. Tell no one of it. that other woman's child. what torture! Yet he knows well that I am his mother. that." "Yes. What does he say. do you not." At this moment the door opening on to the landing opened. he will come. No! You tell me that this sacrifice will be for his good. "But it is on one condition. What misery! Ah. but calm and composed. an immense fortune. I have nearly been very ill. nor the courage to obey you. . I should give in. I entreat you not to take him from me. and all is forgotten. she continued in a voice panting from weariness: "How your presence revives me. when some mutual friend breathes his last in our presence. her hair seemed to stand on end. but alas! only to make you doubt me. forget this fatal project. For you do believe me. Lord. I feel that I am growing stronger.

told of suppressed grief. They undid his cravat. once so beautiful. he took one of her hands. it is only afterwards that we realize the extent and profundity of the evil. What would he not have given if God would have restored that unfortunate woman to life for a day. But the heart hardens by misfortune. the Count de Commarin was more overwhelmed and more livid than this dead woman. his sufferings returned.All the bystanders were deeply moved by this painful scene. Noel seemed quite broken hearted. M. Fallen into a chair. excepting the nun. he would have led a happy. Instead of an isolated existence. With the help of the old soldier. without deigning to inquire. Nature seems to collect her strength to sustain the misfortune. We do not feel all its intensity at once. and pressed it close to his lips. To him they applied the unfortunate mother's malediction. Three days before. whose red. to tell her how much he detested his past conduct! How had he acknowledged the inexhaustible love of that angel? Upon a mere suspicion. for he was suffocating. Kneeling by the bedside of her who had been as a mother to him. "she is dead!" The nun and the priest knelt beside him. tearful eyes. and repeated in a low voice the prayers for the dead. this last confession. had flown. And the last word uttered by Madame Gerdy. then. he had treated her with the coldest contempt." whispered the doctor to Claire. this scene would have killed him. All. without giving her a hearing. Why had he not seen her again? He would have spared himself twenty years of doubt as to Albert's birth. There. "His tears have saved him. The count's gaze was fixed upon the bed where lay Valerie's body. was all that remained of her. his old love. wrested so to say from the delirium. . Claire and the doctor hastened to assist him. Prostration follows great mental shocks." surprised no one. as his thoughts became clearer. that soul so devoted and so tender. his head thrown back. and. "Dead!" he groaned. knew of the awful accusation which had been made against Albert. or even for an hour? With what transports of repentance he would have cast himself at her feet. they moved the count's chair to the half-opened window to give him a little air. de Commarin gradually recovered. They implored God to shed his peace and mercy on the departed soul. They begged for a little happiness in heaven for her who had suffered so much on earth. and took off his shirt collar. The soul. "assassin. like hands by labour. to implore her pardon.

sad voice. during the last five days! "Yes. de Commarin now quickly ran over all the incidents reported by Claire. and heard all. M. even if she ever had any ill feeling against you. "Yes." "Thank you. what punishment. She also had loved him. so singular a confession from such a mouth." For the first time. Albert passed at my house. He held out his hand. what misfortunes. sir. yes. my position at this moment. The hour of expiation had come. in a grave." Noel looked at her surprised. "her son should be free to render her his last duties. Noel replied: "You see." murmured the count. Noel!" The advocate had approached his father." he said. "Albert is already saved. "I have promised. "she predicted it. and she could not restrain a movement of repugnance. and had died of her love." cried the count. Their eyes met." "The truth?" exclaimed the advocate. that he shall be immediately set at liberty." he stammered. to-morrow--" .joyous life. Then he remembered the countess's death. the evening the crime was committed. He had not understood them. sir. which the advocate perceived. "to save him. It is my turn to-day. so severely tried. with me. de Commarin." she said proudly. and he could not say: "Lord. "I am Mademoiselle Claire d'Arlange. When he had finished. sir. "What we ask is. the punishment is too great. he had killed them both. Mademoiselle d'Arlange was face to face with Noel. "thank you!" and then he added: "What a death!" "Yes." "At least." And yet. And we were not able to undeceive her. "my sister forgave you long ago. "M. that prompt justice shall be done him. father." said she." he replied. might well surprise him. The magistrate now knows the truth. without explanation." murmured Claire. "she breathed her last in the idea that her son was guilty of a crime. She drew herself up haughtily. I forgive you sincerely. he must be. Why did I not listen to her?" Madame Gerdy's brother pitied the old man.

or to lose a single minute. burnt some sugar upon the fire shovel. again embracing the dead woman." interrupted old Tabaret. however--" "Oh." said the magistrate to the prisoner. This evening. and he at once called out: "M. sir. Gevrol." He spoke. She removed all traces of the illness. to give notice of the death. I misjudged him. jumping down three steps at a times."To-morrow?" interrupted the count. and. put away the medicine bottles. sir. CHAPTER XVII. sir. arranging everything as it should be in the presence of death. M. sir. The nun alone remained. You can show your love for this poor woman much better by delivering her son than by praying for her. and a branch of palm. bowing. . placed some lighted candles. awaiting the priest. went out." Noel bowed low. and. Albert sat awaiting him. who showed signs of the most intense agitation. which the cure had promised to send to watch the corpse. as he opened his door. Daburon was ascending the stairs that led to the offices of the investigating magistrates. greatly disappointed. that we act to-day. at your house. Tabaret!" But the old fellow. "but I am expected at home. In the passage. he is innocent. Perhaps I shall be able to bring Albert with me." "I hope. I believe. I shall have the honour of giving you an account of my proceedings. she arose and went about the room. He is very cunning. Soon the count and Mademoiselle d'Arlange also retired. on a table covered with a white cloth at the head of the bed. Vincent felt neither fear nor embarrassment. "To hear your wish. on a bench of rough wood before his office door. to-morrow! Honour demands. when he saw old Tabaret coming towards him. a crucifix with holy water. "you said. was scarcely disposed to stop. at this moment. The old soldier went to the Mayor. "You will be summoned immediately. at the risk of breaking his neck. he hurried away. also hastened on. under the charge of a Garde de Paris. The sight pleased him. "You must excuse me. and before three days--But you are going to see Gevrol's man with the earrings. she had been so many times in a similar position." he said. M. Daburon. Her prayers said." he said. Greatly troubled and perplexed by Mademoiselle d'Arlange's revelations. "I have already some proofs. "I go. The daughter of St." And without listening to another word. is to obey it. and to fulfil the necessary formalities.

"what did you see?" "The walls had been scaled. evidently made by feet of some one climbing. The scamp--he was a nimble fellow--in getting in. who was a great talker--"the thief entered the garden before the rain. which he threw down as soon as he was on the top of the wall. sir. pulled himself up by the strength of his wrists. I first of all examined the exterior of the wall at my leisure. M. Daburon of his clerk. leaving my hat at a wine shop round the corner. It had evidently come from a glove. I called at the Marchioness d'Arlange's house. sir. and here is M. It is to see where he placed it. "not to attract attention at the house where you made this investigation?" "Certainly. Martin. I was very ." The magistrate eagerly seized the piece of kid. sir." "The marks are plain?" "As plain as the nose on my face. Several of the acacia branches. "Your orders have been executed. an eloquent parrot. the others." "You are sure of this?" "As sure as I am that I see M. if I may so speak. by holes made in the ground by the fellow's weight. who this moment arrived from the neighbourhood of the Invalides. sir. Martin. Daburon. sir. had it not been for the enormous pin in imitation gold which shone in his cravat." "That is well. from his dress. I hope." "Lately?" "Five or six days ago. I imagine. Martin. And. I found this little piece of lavender kid. muddy. Three of the pieces of glass which cover the top of the wall have been removed." "Is that all?" asked the magistrate. After that." continued M. "Not yet. pretending to be the servant of a neighbouring duchess. he enjoyed the luxury of a ladder. "Well. The thief--it was done by a thief. This circumstance is easy to establish by examining the marks on the wall of the ascent and the descent on the side towards the street. Martin. the prisoner is without. These marks are several abrasions. Constant was talking with a skinny little man. which appears to me to belong to a glove. who was in despair at having lost a favourite. and went away after it." said the magistrate in a satisfied tone. and. Adhering to the thorns of one of these branches." said M.In the office. Constant at this moment mending his pen. who might have been taken." he asked. as you had conjectured. if I may so express myself. which extend over the wall have been twisted or broken. "You received my letters?" asked M. "You took care. and also by the mortar which has been knocked away from the top of the wall. turning towards the detective. and betrayed the detective. The first are clean. for a well-to-do inhabitant of Batignolles. M. but when going away.

Henceforth. justice demands a culprit. However. he made no reply. "I am not setting a trap for you. Daburon. relaxed. looking straight into Albert's eyes. the prisoner's features." continued the magistrate. no doubt. not one detail more. took me for a genuine servant. doubt was impossible. M.kindly given permission to explore the garden." He rang his bell." asked the investigating magistrate without preamble." On hearing that name. he continued slowly: "I have seen Mademoiselle Claire d'Arlange. as I have already told you. "I know all that you did on that evening. Martin. She has told me all." Then. His explanations corresponded exactly with Claire's. turned red. But who then was the assassin? For." "You are an adroit and prompt fellow." Albert still hesitated. "has told me where you were on Tuesday evening. while the detective. "I give you my word of honour. or she was his accomplice. sir. "Mademoiselle d'Arlange. she could not even be suspected of it. "Have you decided. and. delighted at the praise he had received. contracted by a firm resolve not to give way." added M. and I will report you favourably at headquarters. "because justice." interrupted the magistrate. like a man who escapes almost by a miracle from an imminent danger which he had despaired of avoiding. and his eyes flashed. moved backwards to the door. sir. and I regret to say that you lied to me." "No. when a crime has been committed. at this apparent insult. . Either Albert was innocent." Albert. Albert was then brought in. "I am well satisfied with you. as I spoke as disrespectfully as possible of my pretended mistress they. bowing the while. sir. you have not. you understand?" This time Albert decided to speak. Mademoiselle d'Arlange had not been imposed upon. Could she knowingly be the accomplice of such an odious crime? No. is ignorant of nothing that it is important for it to know. It seemed as though he experienced an immense sensation of delight. "to give me a true account of how you spent last Tuesday evening?" "I have already told you." continued the magistrate.

Daburon with a touch of irony. To give himself confidence. What Albert said." he said kindly. like the cap of king Louis XI. on learning of my arrest. He was one of those short. "you must return to your prison. to commit a most deplorable mistake. sir. so far as one can answer for oneself. and thanked him. He was dressed in the costume of a well-to-do Normandy fisherman. thick-set men. trusted in my honour. "That is all very fine." replied Albert. He was told to enter. decorated with little lead medals. Great earrings in the form of anchors hung from his ears. "Sir. and. powerful as oaks. The clerk was obliged to push him into the office. "in according me a meeting. but you will be no longer in solitary confinement. she would brave everything to save me. and worthy of the days of chivalry!" "I am not the hero that you suppose. "If I told you that I did not count on Claire."You see. I do not think. with that irregular walk of the sailor. I was waiting for her." said the magistrate to his clerk. sir. sir. you exposed justice. balancing himself first on one leg. I should be telling a falsehood. is surprised to find anything immovable beneath his feet. out for a holiday. You risked your life. was waiting in the passage. sir. He advanced. you exposed me." said the magistrate severely to Albert. the sea winds and the heat of the tropics. "We are now ready for Gevrol. for this son of the ocean was timid and abashed when on shore. M. sir. who. hardened and tanned by the inclemency of the weather. the man with the earrings." replied the prisoner simply. and that was what I feared. then on the other. Daburon regretted his irony. You will be treated with every attention due to a prisoner whose innocence appears probable. he thought and felt. "you did deceive me." There was no appearance of bravado. In that event. and was then removed." Albert bowed. He had large callous black hands. Why did you not tell me the truth at once?" "Mademoiselle d'Arlange. who look as though they could carry almost any weight on their broad shoulders. The chief of detectives was absent: he had been sent for from the Prefecture of Police. used to the rolling and tossing of the waves. but his witness. he fumbled over his soft felt hat. that I should have mentioned her name. But her friends might have hid it from her. of devout . I cannot release you yet. I knew that. with big sinewy fingers which must have possessed the strength of a vice. His white hair and whiskers set off his features. what is also very serious." "And you would have died sooner than mention that interview?" interrupted M.

'Take care. "How? You. Besides. my dead father. They had at their service a thousand means.memory." "Yes. the husband of the victim alive. for in that way she partly excused her conduct. sir. Through her. related to Claudine Lerouge?" "I am her husband. On Friday. it was an arrangement between ourselves. it was now Monday." "Indeed? Well. warned me! I laughed." said the magistrate. "She was a wretch!" he added in a hollow voice. and no reply had arrived. I had told her that I would have nothing more to do with her. her husband. I have been hunted down by the police. when Justice is in doubt. Daburon examined him. formerly unknown. then. There was no doubt but that he was the sunburnt man described by one of the witnesses at La Jonchere. and the police ignorant of his existence! Thus thought M. . his face darkening. What. "Marie Pierre Lerouge. accuse her?" "I have but too good reason to do so. "Every one. it requires the same inordinate loss of time and money to obtain the slightest information. M. She herself pretended to be one. and they made no use of them. you know that she is dead. people must have said 'Ah. from father to son. Daburon." What. he has then committed some crime!' And here I am before a magistrate! Ah." "Are you. and also adorned with some if that worsted twist made by the young country girls. sir. sir. Everywhere that they inquired after me with their warrant. precisely as twenty years ago. who foresaw it all at the time. and the electric telegraph." replied the sailor. His open countenance displayed sincerity and good nature. does this wonderful progress in invention accomplish? To-day. And yet photography was in existence. ha. on a primitive frame composed of four or five pins stuck in a hollow cork. they had written to inquire about Claudine's past life. sir.' He was right. or she will dishonour us all. It was also impossible to doubt his honesty. then. what a disgrace! The Lerouges have been honest people. and estimated him at a glance. ever since the world began. victim of an odious crime?" "The detective who brought me here told me of it. Ah. "Your name?" demanded the investigating magistrate. "believed her a widow. just like some skulking thief. when he said.

was. fascinating girl. a long time ago. is like making your bed of thorns. the magistrate did not even suspect. when you have no idea of the information he brings. and her breath was as fresh as the sea breeze. and to listen carefully. they will tell you." objected M. She had ambition even in her blood. graceful and strong as a racing boat. and to expect happiness from it. we must have not only the truth. by the way. Daburon adopted. supple as a willow." replied the sailor." To proceed by short inquiries with a witness." Lerouge placed his hat on a chair. straight as a mast. sir! it was I who obeyed.Inquire of all who have ever had dealings with me. Her mother. just to give me a change of air. in the hope of sleeping well. that she hadn't a sou. putting him back on the track should he get too far away. She said that one got money for keeping secrets. the importance of which. her teeth as white as pearls. "the first time was more than thirty years back. tell me everything exactly. and heaved a deep sigh." "You were her husband. you know. who was the widow of I can't say how many husbands. here. The misfortune was. "In what intrigues did your wife mingle?" asked he. she was a wicked woman. my friend. a bad woman. This was the course M. She was a pretty. sir. "Go on. Then he began alternately to pull his fingers. though. as he by a single word could have shortened by a good half the examination. It is the surest and easiest method. ." he began. To help the great to hide their villainies. he sent me to Porto on a schooner belonging to one of our neighbours.' Yes. while we were in easy circumstances. 'Lerouge's word is as good as another man's writing. "you had the right to command her obedience. When did you warn her so wisely?" "Ah. is but to lose time in attempting to gain it. When I spoke to the old fellow of marrying Claudine he swore fiercely. but more in love than ever. "that it will be thirty-five years on St." The sailor shook his head. she wished to mix herself up in the intrigues of the great. John's day since I fell in love with Claudine. you may be just avoiding it. but the whole truth. Her eyes sparkled like old cider. She was the most beautiful girl in our part of the country. your honour is not at stake here. It was his way of arranging his ideas. Daburon. I came back. no one questions it." "Why? Come. It was that that ruined her. sir. "Alas. saving your presence. But she had a will of her own. my friend. and ultimately scratched his head violently. neat. When you think you are approaching the important fact." "You told her that?" "More than a hundred times. all the time cursing Gevrol's absence. thinner than a marling spike. with a voice sweeter than honey. and eight days after. making them crack almost sufficiently to break them. do not be uneasy. and my father was the worthiest man alive. It is much better to give the witness the rein. and I have often told her that she would come to a bad end. "I must tell you. and I said that one got disgraced and that was all. her hair was black. at the end of six months.

for I was a fine young fellow. Every week there was something new. decided me. I could scarcely eat or drink. I asked my wife what the fellow wanted. which the dealers invent for the perdition of the female sex. I squandered all I had economized during my youth. Claudine managed me like a child. For two years. and I had a foreboding of evil. Ah. but I thought it was all right.Recollections of Claudine scorched me like a fire. the devil's baubles. so that our child should not be obliged in his turn to go to sea. when I perceived my father all alone in a corner weeping. Then my father. go on. she put on her back. and was on the road to join my mother in the cemetery. the count's chateau is only about a mile from where I lived on the other side of the town. in spite of a few little quarrels. That confounded meadow. but I felt that she loved me a little in return. to please her. She wished to earn a little money. and let's have no more of this. The neighbors chattered. The investigating magistrate attempted to bring him back into the right path. Daburon was boiling over with impatience. All that I earned. jewels. because. "I was well enough pleased. he said to me. Ah. She said she regretted her past flirtations and her extravagance. that we could save up to go towards the three hundred pistoles. So one evening. with which I had intended purchasing a meadow that lay in the midst of our property. when I heard the old fellow call my love such a name. I was about to join my wife. and my business was very prosperous. He was very far from his story. and almost wanted to kill him. "until one morning I saw one of the Count de Commarin's servants entering our house. and carried me to market and sold me." continued the sailor. decided to let me complete my folly. and more than one girl had set her cap at me. "Go on. dresses." he said every time Lerouge seemed inclined to stop. but it quickly passed away. she appears to have pleased the count.' I remember it distinctly. being ashamed of doing nothing while I was killing myself with work. 'Marry the hag's daughter. one never gains anything by marrying in opposition to one's parents!" The worthy fellow was lost in the midst of his recollections. after we had returned from fishing and I got up from supper without tasting it. to economize. she replied that he had come to ask her to take a child to nurse. Her great fault was her love of finery. but it was necessary to begin at the beginning. I flew into a great passion. The sight touched my heart." he said. She was to get a very good price. without my noticing it. sir. I married. more than three hundred pistoles. she was cunning! She might have seized and bound me. who was called Jacques after my father. At the baptism of our son. to which she alluded. bonnets. and when the relatives and guests had departed. but he could do nothing." M. seeing that he could do nothing. for our means were sufficient to allow Claudine to keep all her milk for our own child. It is so delightful during the first six months one passes with a dearly loved wife! One seems to be surrounded by mists that change the very rocks into palaces and temples so completely that novices are taken in. "Come to the point. It was a fellow named Germain whom I didn't like at all. I would not hear of it at first. that I was wasting away. It was said about the country that he had been mixed up in the seduction of poor Thomassine." "Did she not tell you of the commission with which she was charged?" . a fine young girl who lived near us. "I am going to. The evening after the wedding. She wanted to save. and one day suddenly disappeared. everything went on nicely. But she gave me the very best of reasons.

making inquiries of the servants and others. she obtained from me a reluctant consent. said. we shall meet at the inn. We shall be put in the same room. but next morning. and I was delighted. where we are to sleep. who feared the fatigue of the journey for her child. At Paris. I went out soon after. therefore. "You understand that it is my wife who is speaking?" "Yes. wishes that this one shall bear his name instead of the other. sir?" The investigating magistrate moved impatiently in his chair. Go on. between two kisses. After she had gone. She didn't seem at all angry. who have been purposely dressed alike. "Yes. 'Very well. For she was kept in grand style. "Will this man never come to the point. for instance. I soon discovered that she was the Count de Commarin's mistress. resolved to tell me the whole truth. my wife should have come away without the little bastard. It arrived in the evening. This question astonished Lerouge." he muttered. and this is why: The count. We were. thanks to me.'" . Then she told me that we were not going to return home by the diligence.' I didn't say a word then. in an elegant carriage.' she said to me. she was to call for the little one at a Madame Gerdy's. For this the count gives me eight thousand francs down. the postman brought a letter. Claudine.asked the magistrate. shaking her pocket full of money. go on!" "Claudine. Is it not so. because it gave me a chance to see the country at my leisure. M." he answered. "Not then. sir. I felt so annoyed that. Eight days after. I was ass enough to be delighted. She kissed me. and this can be accomplished. "but you will see.--" Lerouge stopped. asking her to go to Paris to fetch the child. while I awaited for her at our inn. He thought that there was good reason to say that justice sees and knows everything. if I had been master. We arranged that she should go alone. I am to change the little ones. and chinked handfuls of gold in my face. Seeing how I felt. I am only a poor sailor. during the night. Go on. my man. I felt as foolish as an honest husband who finds money in his house which he didn't earn himself. who also had a legitimate child at the same time as this bastard. and a life annuity of a thousand francs. After three days of violent discussion. she kissed me over and over again. I think is bad--very bad." "She said to me. had arranged that we should travel back by short stages. you are perfectly right. My wife was mad with joy. and prowled about near Madame Gerdy's house. and. and driven by a coachman in livery. One takes too much to drink. The lady. 'See here. and I know that a man sometimes forgets himself." he added aloud. or goes out on the loose with some friends. 'I will start to-morrow by the diligence. On the road.' said she. when she was about to take her seat in the diligence. who lived on the Boulevard. yes. but that a man with a wife and children should live with another woman and give her what really belongs to his legitimate offspring. we shall always have as much of this as ever we may want. Germain and the nurse to whom they have entrusted the legitimate son. in her carriage. on the contrary. and. was more obstinate than a mule. I grew uneasy. hoping to pacify me. installed with the children. mine and the other. "but never mind your thoughts. I declared that I was going with her. and drawn by her horses. drawn by magnificent animals. changing his tone. 'See here.

he was guided by a single thread which the least interruption might seriously entangle."And you!" exclaimed the magistrate. and who do you think we saw? That scamp. Since the beginning of this sad affair. but can't find it. is word for word what Claudine said to me. "was villainous. He felt himself utterly routed. and not to tell the count. "you. she told me that she couldn't bear the idea of separating herself from her babe forever. we receive from both sides. At evening we arrived at some village. with a nurse carrying a child dressed so exactly like the one we had that I was startled. His mistress. this little one's mother. but he saw that Lerouge told his story with difficulty. A suspicion crossed my mind. and guarantee me an annuity equal to the one the count had promised me. It was his way of weeping. How I loved her! She proved to me that we were wronging no one. and said. that we were making little Jacques's fortune. stopping the carriage before an inn. during my visit in her room. and because she has got a plan of her own. swearing that they shouldn't change . that she could easily find out whether I kept my word. and I was silenced. The count is the only one who wants this change made. who was generally afraid of me when I was in a passion. "What Claudine proposed to me. you old dear!' That. and of bringing up another's child. What was he about to learn now? He longed to interrogate quickly. when one word would have been sufficient to prevent it?" "Sir. How could I be sure that Claudine had not invented the second story to pacify me? She was certainly capable of it. if I would agree not to change the children. I resolved not to lose sight of the little bastard. so as not to quarrel with her lover. 'What a fool you are! Listen." The rough sailor drew from his pocket a large blue-checked handkerchief. laboriously disentangling his recollections. I had consented to the one wickedness. I tell the count that I have changed the children. Scarcely had he got his ideas in order on one point. But she kneaded me to her will as easily as a baker kneads dough. I was so choked with rage. as she had made a mark of recognition on her little one. she merely pretended to consent. She didn't show me the mark. I must have looked terrible." "Well." entreated Lerouge. I was enraged. They had journeyed there. also. and Jacques will be rich. and I have examined him carefully. She declared. and I am an honest man. Daburon was confounded. and the coachman. sir. Now kiss your little wife who has more sense than you. he had encountered surprise after surprise. We entered. She added that. told us we were to sleep there. who call yourself an honest man. burst out laughing. Germain. and he is the one that's to pay for it. M. permitted such villainy. She took me aside. like ourselves. in one of the count's carriages. after having made me swear secrecy on a crucifix. I beg of you. But she. and blew his nose so violently that the windows shook. doesn't want it at all." continued the sailor. but not to the other. She turned my heart topsy-turvy: she made me see white as snow that which was really as black as ink. and. Do you understand now? I merely take care of this little fellow here. "permit me to finish. she would give me ten thousand francs down. before turning sour like a bowl of milk. continue!" "I could say nothing at first. when all his attention was directed to another.

the same as when I am on board ship in a storm. The other nurse went up to bed first. After supper. Was she going to change the children? Now. about what might happen afterwards. Claudine and I followed soon afterwards. Under the pretext that I should be in the way of the children. but the magistrate's stern glance harassed him. that during the evening I had surprised looks of intelligence passing between my wife and that rascally servant. I was only troubled about the future. swearing that. sir? Add to this. crying. I knew that she was not. and pledging the other nurse to a like secrecy. Ah! the plan had been well laid. I upset that arrangement. They were obliged to give way to me.it. and as the detective to whom I confessed all. he can't be changed without my knowing it. The other nurse cried out as though she were being murdered." "And have you kept this paper?" asked M. I was beside myself. begging me to say nothing about it to the count. if he ever heard of my behaviour. though I could not think of doing so myself. I felt sure that she was. I did not undress. and I was trying to silence it. he is marked for life!'" Lerouge could scarcely utter another word. and then it turned out that there were only two double-bedded rooms in the house." he resumed. The innkeeper said that the two nurses might sleep in one room. Daburon's only reply was a heavy blow of his fist on the table. This was done. sir. so I kept him all the evening on my knees. It seemed as though it had been built expressly for the scheme. giving free vent to all that I had on my heart. I declared that I would write out all that had occurred. The sight of him finished me. She was getting out of bed. I spoke in a loud voice. and urged him on. At this uproar. I tied my handkerchief about his waist. then. and that everyone should sign it. he would never breathe a word of it. 'This way. some one spoke of retiring. lodged in the deep wrinkles of his face. It was conscience that spoke. It bled dreadfully. for I spoke with knife in hand. I heard Claudine moving. Germain didn't dare resist. "Yes. determined not to shut my eyes. which I always carried. and Germain and myself in the other. "As for me. and to keep close watch. for his part. "was terrible. I raised a frightful disturbance. and I thought of my father. He panted. Do you understand. Daburon. but I didn't think of that. I knew very well that I was doing wrong. Towards midnight. and of what he would say. Great drops of sweat stood out upon his brow. and you can imagine how furious I was. we could all four write. then. He wrote his name first. My wife undressed and got into bed with our son and the little bastard. Why is it that women can turn an honest man's conscience about like a weather-cock with their wheedling?" M. and seizing her by the arm. in order to let the women sleep. and I almost wished myself dead. and to be all the more sure. I installed myself in a chair near the bed. "The little fellow's wound. Germain rushed in with a lighted candle. Lerouge proceeded more quickly. and he might have died. I thrust the blade through his arm. I swore like a fiend. I drew from my pocket a long Spanish knife. and seizing the cursed bastard. I held my breath. like the whip which flogs the negro slave overcome with fatigue. trickling down his cheeks. at least. I commenced to beat her roughly. I put out the candle. advised me to . Not knowing what I was doing. pretending to be too jealous to leave my wife a minute.

described by the old sailor. some dust fell out. after having taken down the name and address. Fear nothing. will remain secret." "What! you do not know?" "Yes. "The paper hasn't been opened since that accursed night. "The next day. when wet. . sir. The four signatures were there. fastened with a leather thong. but he retained an enormous scar on his arm." And. and--" "My friend. which had been used to keep the writing. His name is Brosette. concerns only myself.bring it with me. if you experience some humiliation. in fact. Lerouge. Repair that error by speaking truly now. Claudine has just been assassinated. All that is said here. I am sure of it. I went to take it from the place where I always kept it. I have been told that he was drowned when out rowing. when the magistrate unfolded it. for he hinted as much to me. I believe. But I would rather say that I do not know." answered the sailor. who thought the question was put to him. and she lives in the village of Commarin itself. and withdrew from it a paper yellowed by age and carefully sealed. "you are an honest man. you became an accomplice in a very guilty action. sir. replied. It was really a brief description of the scene." "What happened. sir. But once in your life. and which is not directly connected with the crime. and I have it here. and." "Was Madame Gerdy informed of what took place?" "I do not think so." "And what next?" asked the magistrate. speaking to himself." Lerouge took from his coat pocket an old parchment pocket-book." said he. therefore. "That. sir. then?" The sailor hesitated. "I have been already greatly punished. sir. Claudine managed to pacify me. "Germain is dead. "What has become of the witnesses who signed this declaration?" murmured the magistrate. think that it is your punishment for the past. and extorted a promise of secrecy." interrupted the magistrate. The child was scarcely ill at all. in fact. but the other nurse still lives. from blotting. I swear it. "Here it is. you did wrong." "Give it to me. even I will forget it immediately." "Alas. You see my ignorance comes from what happened afterwards. I even know that she spoke of the affair to her husband. influenced by a wicked woman.

they believed me an accomplice or a willing dupe. people wondered where all the money came from that was spent in my house. I entered. "Rest a while. on the pretence of looking after Jacques. wickedly acquired. Money. they tacked an infamous word on to my name. without opening it! It didn't kill him. I bought the wretched meadow for much more than it was worth. when she thought me at Rouen. In the meanwhile." "No. stinking. ugly. and turned their backs on me. If ever he should want Lerouge! Without losing a minute. I heard. like a coward. Occasionally I had doubts which disturbed me. "but the man who beats his wife and then pardons her is lost. He said that nothing could be done. the priest. like the vermin that he was. she would entertain the worst women in the place. that they believed I profited by my wife's misconduct. She would get so drunk that she would have to be put to bed. and the day I walked over it. One man. I took him by the neck and pitched him out of the window. On arriving home. My house became the resort of all the good-for-nothing rogues in the country. And such a man. "I pardoned her. Daburon pitied the speaker sincerely. he cannot take it back. while in reality she paid her lovers. I don't know which gave me the most pleasure. my friend. just like a fire. he told me. Claudine was a coquette. When money failed. whom she had taken to live with us. it was my right. my poor father was dead. sir! A miserable looking wretch. bursts forth when you open the hatches. Was I not the husband? Fortunately. At all events. in a word the bailiff's clerk. for a simple yes or no. "compose yourself. Well." M. and the orgies continued. My neighbors despised me. for whom my wife brought out bottles of wine and brandy. embracing her or beating her. like a fool. afterwards. and that was all. it belongs to her for the rest of her . and they got drunk promiscuously. she took better precautions. and found her with a man. every now and then thrusting his fists into his eyes." Lerouge spoke in a hoarse voice. To distinguish me from a cousin of mine. brings no good. I would beat her until I was tired. In the future. I returned unexpectedly. became a greater hypocrite. but she had a great many other vices. whenever I was away at sea. From slightly greedy as she had been. dirty. and then I would forgive her." he said. but he was such a pitiful object. nothing. When once a man has given his name to a woman. In our house there was feasting without end. It was a cursed life. and beat her until she couldn't stir. had the charity to tell me of it. Then I fell upon my wife. no. she lived a most disgraceful life. and Claudine had nothing more to restrain her. Madame Gerdy took back her child. Protected and counselled by her mother. and then without reason.and it is a long time since my troubles began. I should have killed him. feeling that is was actually mine." replied the sailor. "I would rather get through with it quickly. also named Lerouge. and asked him how an honest sailor who had had the misfortune to marry a hussy ought to act. and there was nothing too good or too expensive for them. Whenever I went to sea." he continued. she wrote to the count or his mistress. she managed to deceive me for more than a year. smouldering at the bottom of the hold. I thought she had given up her bad habits. closed my happiness. To go to law was simply to publish abroad one's own dishonour. one night. though. shunned by everyone. she became a regular glutton. I went and saw a lawyer. but not at all. while a separation would accomplish nothing. When she realised how much money we had these vices showed themselves. What disgrace! And I knew nothing of all the scandal.

she fell back in her chair." "It was on Jacques's account. she had blabbed too freely. and which she signed. Captain Gervais. She may sully it. I had had much trouble to find her. drag it from wine shop to wine shop." The testimony being as complete as possible." added the magistrate. authorising her to administer our property. I only know that she quitted the neighbourhood a year after I did. but it was absolutely necessary. Then I wrote her a letter in which I told her that she need never expect to hear of me again. That same night I went away with my son. and I accepted. "Well." replied the sailor. sir. what a shock I experienced when I entered her house! My wife did not know me! By constantly telling everyone that I was dead. M. "what can I say? I thought that Claudine had wearied out the people from whom she drew money. and her husband can do nothing. sir. and he wants to marry." M. who would take him to a hotel. and she has a right to dispose of it. sir." "You have never lived with her since?" "Never. "All your expenses will be paid you. and that is how I learnt that Claudine was living at La Jonchere. she had without a doubt ended by believing it herself. Daburon dismissed Lerouge. Daburon took the paper. For necessary. The wretched woman had not changed in the least. sir." "That is true. at the same time telling him to wait for Gevrol. no one knew what had become of her. where he might wait. and I was taking to Claudine drawn up.days. I sold the fatal meadow. Ah. that to be a man. he wrote to her. I then had a document drawn up. That same day. who is a friend of mine." "But you were at her house three days before the crime was committed. and sent the proceeds of it to Claudine. The youngster has grown that. until further orders. After a moment he asked: "Have you thought who could have assassinated your wife?" Lerouge made no reply. wishing to keep nothing of the price of shame. . Fortunately my notary was able to procure Madame Gerdy's address. or else getting drunk one day. "Do you suspect any one?" persisted the magistrate. This is I went. When I told her my name. like water from a well. and appeared to read it attentively. that I was nothing more to her. I was then at Rome." "And what became of your wife after your departure?" "I cannot say. but not allowing her either to sell or mortgage it. That being the case. my course was soon taken. at the disposal of justice. his mother's consent was a document which the notary had it. offered to take me to Paris on his boat. and that she might look upon herself as a widow. cover it with mire. she had by her side a glass and a bottle of brandy--" "All this doesn't explain why you went to seek your wife.

" exclaimed M. and had prompted in him the passionate animosity he had displayed at a certain moment. to hold all the threads of this complicated drama? Justice is accused of slowness. And yet how often had he not asked himself: Where is duty? But then. innocent or guilty. rose from his seat and spoke. He felt. "This. He broke a silence of fifteen years. usually the most prudent of men. he asked himself with anguish what would become of him when he threw aside his magistrate's robes. There is no knowing what important testimony investigations apparently useless may reveal. he examined the case more soundly. He had acted in a mysterious crime. which demanded the utmost caution." Very extraordinary. moved with such deplorable haste? Why before risking anything. when all women are as nothing to him except one. and they bled more painfully than ever. Daburon suddenly. one is on the wrong road. impressive. Calmer now. Daburon. the serious. when one is at all doubtful about duty. truly. He had been led astray by a too great refinement of conscience. A man may well feel so. When the entanglement of the various passions and motives seems hopeless. He accused himself. Then his interview with Claire had re-opened all the old wounds in his heart. He forgot himself so far as to offer an opinion. sir. he had been carried away by his animosity. and it is he who explains everything. One scarcely knows what a time evidence takes to produce itself. immovable. however. In any case. ruined. At that moment he resolved that he would never undertake another investigation. The scruples which troubled him had filled his mind with phantoms. He had feared equally appearing weak and being revengeful. as carelessly as though it were a case of simple misdemeanour. when an extraordinary. whom he may never dare hope to possess. "is a most extraordinary affair. But was he guilty? Evidently he was not. but it is this very slowness that constitutes its strength and surety. that his life was broken. Why? Because his memory had not left him his free deliberation. had he not waited to possess all the elements of this important case. an unknown personage presents himself. thought M." said he. Constant. none the less harshly. Chance alone had stopped him. M. unprecedented event took place in the magistrate's office. deaf and dumb Constant. Too pious a man to think of suicide. Daburon. and discernment. and calculated to rout all predictions. the magistrate. thank heaven! there was nothing done which could not be repaired. its almost infallibility. unheard of. all preconceived opinions. "I must speak to the Count de . the count's legitimate son. Albert was really the Viscount de Commarin. The singular part of it all was that the magistrate's faults sprang from his very honesty. As a whole. coming from no one knows where.Lerouge had scarcely left. "I think. in despair. judgment. Then he turned again to the business in hand. Thinking himself sure of his facts. His profession henceforth inspired him with an unconquerable loathing. Why had he. had considered as simple one of the most complex of cases.

Upon the way. was exact in every particular. Abandoned by the investigating magistrate to his own resources. dark. after having raised him among the clouds. After three days' investigation. "Now. he had gone to Bougival. he set to work without losing a minute and without taking a moment's rest. and at the head of these worthy assistants. two men from Marly and a woman from La Malmaison had noticed him on account of his rapid pace. M. He smoked as he hurried along. the count would make him some compensation." M. he felt comparatively certain that the assassin had not left the train at Rueil. send to his house a message for him to come here at once. carrying an overcoat and an umbrella. as all the people of Bougival. He examined it in all its various aspects.Commarin. if he is not at home. but had gone on as far as Chatou. but bordering on the ridiculous! As a compensation. He had almost adopted it. What a blow it would be! But. To Noel he would also have to tell the truth: hurl him to earth. He would be obliged to say to the old nobleman: "Sir. who arrived by the train which left Paris for St. had appeared to be in a very great hurry. at least. He had actually searched the country. but Albert. the old fellow had gathered together a dozen detectives on leave or rogues out of work. CHAPTER XVIII. he ought to." murmured the magistrate. "who can be the criminal?" An idea crossed his mind. On quitting the station. your legitimate son is not Noel." What a position. when M. and Marly do. The story of the cabriolet. he must be sought for. Tabaret thought he recognized him in a man described to him by the porters at that station as rather young. he could tell him that Albert was innocent. house by house. This person. Daburon's messenger had arrived just as the count was alighting from his carriage. Germain at thirty-five minutes past eight in the evening. on returning with Claire from Madame Gerdy's. seconded by his friend Lecoq. and with black whiskers. Old Tabaret talked. without a doubt. He rejected it. at first it seemed to him absurd. His efforts were not absolutely wasted. though. he had started off at a rapid pace on the road which led to Bougival. then thought of it again. with the obstinacy and the patience of a maniac hunting for a needle in a hay-stack. Constant. de Commarin entered. . La Jonchere. Lavish with his money. but he acted also. Daburon felt that an unpleasant duty was before him. not only painful. drawn by a swift horse.

two minutes before the quarter past ten train came up. "I have delivered up an innocent man. The appearance of this man corresponded exactly with the description given of him by the porters at Chatou." said the chief. come now. he bowed his head in such a penitent manner that Gevrol was astonished. As soon as he saw Tabaret. a passenger arrived very agitated. "mock me without pity. threw the man a ten sou piece. and by the gatekeeper at the bridge. asking him to call at his house. my good M. that. and the gate-keeper was obliged to run after him for his toll. . I deserve it all. He passed without paying. Finally. "have you then performed some new masterpiece. keeping up his rapid pace. without waiting for the nine sous change. These pleasantries. "Well. and he had written to him. my illustrious mare's-nest hunter. which a few days before would have made him angry. you impetuous old fellow?" Old Tabaret shook his head sadly. you want to oust me from my place I can see!" The old man was sadly changed. and hurried on. He had been told of a baker living at Asnieres. and showed it too. you are right." "Ah." Gevrol was delighted. and the supposed assassin had apparently forgotten this circumstance. "Jeer at me. what news? Have you had any more scoundrels guillotined since the other day? Ah. He found that nothing had arrived. The station master at Rueil remembered. husbanding his breath. and rubbed his hands until he almost wore away the skin.On crossing the bridge which joins the two banks of the Seine at Bougival. now did not touch him. Nor was that all. The chief of detectives was triumphant. The consciousness of his mistake made him humble and meek." he replied. you old rogue. Gevrol. It is usual to pay a toll on crossing this bridge. he called out. in order to find out if the record of Widow Lerouge's past life had been received. but in the passage he met Gevrol and his man. he had been still more noticed. "and justice will not restore him his freedom. and so out of breath that he could scarcely ask for a second class ticket for Paris. Such was old Tabaret's information. Instead of retaliating." he said. pressing his elbows to his side. when on the Monday morning he called at the Palais de Justice. He seemed greatly annoyed at the circumstance. the old man thought he was on the track of some one who entered the same carriage as the breathless passenger.

"Don't crush me. He was softened." replied Gevrol sarcastically. who is waiting for M. in spite of my grey hairs. put out his lower lip. I became foolishly proud. Instead of laughing." ." "Well. while you. Tirauclair. "you refer to the La Jonchere affair?" "Alas! yes. I've an appointment to keep." "She wasn't a widow then?" "It appears not."This is fine. after reflecting a moment." replied the old fellow." And at the same time. and I bow before you. Alone. I'm a good fellow at heart. Come to me to-morrow morning. Daburon. I am young in the profession. he raised his hat ironically. "cheer up. I am but an apprentice. old Tirauclair. and we'll talk it over." he sang out. Gevrol. To bring criminals to justice is of no account at all. to-day. perfectly astounded. I have learned too late that I am not all that I had thought myself. "since there is her happy spouse." "No. upon my word. you are the master of all of us. "Conceited fool!" he thought." Cunning old Tabaret kept his countenance as penitent as that of a sacristan caught eating meat on a Friday. that fellow on the bench there. but it was only because he enjoyed prolonging the old amateur's discomfiture. "Come. and success has turned my head. Gevrol. isn't it? But. Tabaret's submission tickled his pretensions as a detective immensely. Gevrol. and I'll give you a lift. "I will flatter you so much that you will end by doing everything I want. he will tell you that it is Pierre Lerouge. Then. he added. Go and ask him his name. But to free the innocent. Do you know who that witness is that I've brought?" "No. Because chance served me three or four times. Gevrol rubbed his nose. "You are joking with me. I'm too busy. for in reality he thought the old man very clever. but tell me. "I suppose. my good M. pray help me. but he was inwardly laughing and rejoicing all the while. by Jove! that is the last touch of art. while with your assistance----!" Gevrol is vain in the highest degree. "Ah.--hem!" He pretended to hesitate. I wished to work without you. But before we part I'll give you a light to find your way with. "this is capital. and I have got myself into a pretty mess. I can do nothing. you are an immense wonder." he said patronisingly. M. and said. That's kind." said he at last. my dear M." M. is the husband of the victim of the La Jonchere tragedy!" "Is it possible?" exclaimed old Tabaret. "As you know. aid me with your advice and your experience.

"let us consider. He won't feel very pleased. He is the legitimate son. Madame Gerdy. to prevent her confessing that the substitution had never taken place. "And does he know anything?" In a few sentences. but he had suddenly recollected the Asnieres baker. . then. "What do I say to that?" stammered old Tabaret." replied Tabaret. if I doubted it." "He is crazed. as one has already seen. I don't think anything either!" "A slight surprise. Gevrol. Anyhow. then. "And my baker!" he cried. but it's at least a name. M. "I will see you to-morrow. I'll adopt him. Would he still find him there? Going down the stairs he met M. for when he was returned to her. so much the better for him! That however. beaming. and gave his forehead a hard blow with his fist." thought the head detective. "Noel. must have assassinated Widow Lerouge. He must have believed as well as the count in the substitution having taken place. eh?" said Gevrol. and have burnt the letters and papers which proved it!" But he repelled this supposition with horror. "what do I say to that? I don't say anything. But I think." said he to himself. she no doubt looked for the mark she had made on him. too. he hardly deigned to reply to him. Then.--no. but. and trotted off along the quays. for he thought so much of having a great name. He evidently knew nothing of these surprising circumstances. whom he had asked to call at his house. But suddenly he started. He was soon outside. when Noel discovered the count's letters. any more than his father. as every honest man drives away a detestable thought which by accident enters his mind. Tabaret doesn't sound so well as Commarin. would not prove his innocence to me. must have been ignorant of these facts. "Now. the chief of detectives related to his amateur colleague the story that Lerouge was about to tell the investigating magistrate. Gevrol's story in no way affects Albert's situation nor my convictions. Pshaw! if he likes. "Say rather an immense one. whose countenance indicated intense astonishment. she must have hastened to explain to him--" Old Tabaret stopped as suddenly as if further progress were obstructed by some dangerous reptile. they probably invented some story to explain the scar. Yes. "What do you say to that?" he asked when he came to the end."Whew!" muttered the old fellow. Daburon. but Madame Gerdy certainly knew that Noel was really her son. Noel is once more plain Noel Gerdy. He was terrified at the conclusion he had reached. The old fellow was sane enough.

"It isn't he personally. and all!" What! Noel had a mistress. a woman whom Clergeot himself." These words produced a painful impression on Tabaret. Clergeot came out. "this is the result of the horrible profession I once gloried in following! Suspect Noel."What an old idiot I am!" he exclaimed. resuming his walk. you have clients. but then he remembered the fifteen thousand francs he had lent Noel on the Thursday. he added. Ah. whose presence in a house betrayed ruin just as surely as the presence of the undertakers announce a death. "Who the deuce are you ruining now?" "I am ruining no one. "who makes the money dance. He stopped him and said: "Halloa! you old crocodile. "A handsome animal!" he said to himself. And. horns. worthy M. with an air of offended dignity. its that charming little woman of his." He at length reached the Rue St." They apparently received visitors of an opposite class also. in my house?" "So it seems. my boy. Lazare. "I know that M. she's no bigger than your thumb. The old detective. "Yes. who knew everybody. he will tell you whether he has reason to regret knowing me. was well acquainted with the worthy banker. prompted by the very natural curiosity of a landlord who is bound to be very careful about the financial condition of his tenants. hoofs. but in his heart a tormenting voice constantly whispered. he saw M. Gerdy spends a pretty round sum. the prudent Noel. and I have always known Noel to have but two passions. Before the door of his house stood a magnificent horse harnessed to an elegant blue brougham." replied Clergeot dryly. the personification of virtue and honour! Noel. "my tenants receive some swell people. his mother and his profession. one of Clergeot's customers! What did it mean? Perhaps there was no harm in it. He had even done business with him once. for he does not like being treated with such familiarity. wishing to obtain some more information." Clergeot has the delicacy never to leave his clients undefended when attacked. then. my sole heir. for." replied M. trying to dismiss his disquieting thoughts. Clergeot. the friend of . And I dare even to breath a suspicion against this noble soul? I ought to be whipped! Old fool! isn't the lesson you have already received sufficiently terrible? Will you never be more cautious?" Thus he reasoned. At the sight of these he stopped. "Suppose it is Noel. "Ah! ah!" said old Tabaret. but she'd eat the devil." he objected. "Have you ever had reason to complain of me whenever we have done business together? I think not. if you like. at that moment. Noel. Clergeot. whom ten years of constant intercourse have taught me to esteem and admire to such a degree that I would speak for him as I would for myself! Men of his class must indeed be moved by terrible passions to cause them to shed blood. What. and restraining his habits of investigation. Mention me to the young advocate up there." said he. when collecting books.

" said the man. yet. And. supposing it were true? Have not many men done just such insane things for women. A gesture. Noel was utterly ruined. He experienced something of that terrible grief which breaks a father's heart when he begins to realize that his dearly loved son is perhaps the worst of scoundrels. "Youth must have it's day. "it is enormous. and so lady-like! If you had only been here five minutes sooner. but he never even looked at her. It seems that the gentleman is going to be married. shrugging his shoulders. But then-"It is a great deal." "M. I know now why he goes out every night. A pretty young brunette came out and jumped as lightly as a bird into the blue brougham. He is going to be married. stopped the way. "He is utterly cleaned out. and tenderly examining a twenty franc piece. He is a sly dog. and close his mouth. leaving the poor old fellow standing like a milestone in the middle of the pavement." Four years? Five hundred thousand francs! These words. Gerdy. during the four years that she has been under his protection. a look. I don't know! He made the mistake of not fixing a price with her. and velvet. According to my calculation. pierced the old man's heart. she must have. People who lend their money at more than ten per cent are capable of anything." "He!" interrupted the usurer. "Ah. snapping his fingers. cap in hand. and I have just renewed bills of his for twenty-six thousand francs. she came to make some inquiries about M. And. "That's well known. has resources.such creatures. considered expensive! The revelation. burst like bombshells on old Tabaret's brain. Perhaps the usurer had been slandering his friend. But he dissembled. Superb creature! I have an idea that she is his mistress. sir. lace. He passed in. cost him close upon five hundred thousand francs." "What lady? why?" "That elegant lady. She gave me twenty francs for answering her questions. who just went out. these figures. and found his concierge standing. Evidently he had exaggerated the extent of Noel's follies." The usurer hurried away. Old Tabaret was a gallant man. sir. a whirlwind of silk. "Not even that!" he added. M. at such a moment. Gerdy. without ceasing to be honest? As he was about to enter his house. M. such was his confidence in Noel that he again struggled with his reason to resist the suspicions which tormented him. Tabaret. succeeding by desperate efforts in hiding his emotion. and she was evidently much annoyed about it. however. Gerdy?" . Good-bye. if he owes you money. But what do you suppose the wench costs him a year?" "Oh. But. and the young woman was most charming. might awaken the usurer's mistrust. Half a million! In that case. do not be anxious." said he." replied Tabaret in a careless tone. "such a pretty young person.

The sign was seen. "I shall lose sight of her." But he was losing ground. and the brougham had almost reached the Madeleine. go it. you must hurry yourself! When one goes in for being a detective. old Tabaret had disappeared. and have the shanks of a deer. "Heavens!" he murmured. He was only halfway down the Rue Tronchet. it is very thoughtful on his part. I have often said to myself. The old fellow followed. and with a bound jumped into the vehicle without touching the step. and quite tired out. He kept his ground. he felt that his legs could not carry him a hundred steps farther. my old friend. not he.'" The concierge spoke with his eyes fixed on the gold piece. for it's very expensive!" The concierge was right. you shall have a little bit. old dotard. He made a sign. At last an open cab. plainly losing ground. "I'll bet a hundred sous." he gasped. and started off rapidly towards the Rue Tronchet." said he to himself. He made a supreme effort. that he's running after the superb creature! Run ahead." He was in one of those states of nervous excitement which engender prodigies. one must use one's legs. When one has no brains. more despairing than any drowning man ever made. Gladly would he have cried. and yet she can tell me the truth. Old Tabaret was running after the lady in the blue brougham. He ran to the end of the Rue St. "I have her. While running in the middle of the street. Lazare. Joy! He saw the blue brougham a short distance from him in the Rue du Havre. sir. He reached it just in time to see the blue brougham turn the corner of the Rue St. "that blue brougham. "My kingdom for a cab!" The brougham got out of the entanglement. He never asks me to open the door for him. Lazare as rapidly as if he had been a young man of twenty. at the same time looking out for a cab. twenty francs!" . passed by." he thought. but I never mentioned it to you. but not much. "There's another!" said the concierge to himself. "There."Yes. hurry on. "She will tell me all. going in the same direction as himself. one should be fit for the profession. like Richard the III. no. He looked all about him. old fellow. and he seems to enjoy it so. When he raised his head to examine the countenance of his lord and master. He slips out by the little stable door. 'Perhaps he doesn't want to disturb me. Why didn't you think to get this woman's address from Clergeot? You must hurry yourself. he kept saying to himself: "Hurry on. but there was not an empty cab to be seen. because he seemed to wish to hide it. stopped in the midst of a block of carriages. The brougham gained but little upon him.. and with a bound he was in the street.

this time in front of a curiosity . fancy! Forty francs! I wonder how such an ugly man can be so jealous. They were soon on the Boulevards. The brougham had made a fresh pause. once they get hold of a man. he could not catch his breath. They must possess some peculiar art of preparing and spicing pleasure. He was sure that by one word she would either condemn or save her lover. But it is drawn by a splendid horse!" "Yours ought to be a better one. Gee up!" As for old Tabaret. "What! condemn Noel? Ah. I'll make it forty. since. "Oh. and am on their side." he said. muttering. But. but soon stopped again." The driver whipped up his horse most mercilessly. he sacrifices everything before forsaking them. that's evident." Old Tabaret tried in every way to occupy his mind with other matters. and carefully questioning her. sir. "I don't see the brougham anywhere. "A jealous husband following his wife. and buzzed in his brain. and said: "But the Brougham is stopping. speaking with her. I see it all right. As they passed the Chaussee d'Antin. his strength was almost exhausted. and entered a shop where cashmeres and laces were sold." thought the old fellow. the brougham was scarcely thirty paces in advance. He stood up in the cab leaning against the driver's seat. "is where the thousand franc notes go! Half a million in four years! What can these creatures do with the money so lavishly bestowed upon them? Do they eat it? On the altar of what caprices do they squander these fortunes? They must have the devil's own potions which they give to drink to the idiots who ruin themselves for them. The cab driver turned. Don't lose sight of it. For twenty francs." Old Tabaret leaned as far as he could out of the cab. for I love the girls. I must catch her. and growled. crossed the pavement. For more than a minute. nodding. "It's no use." "Then stop also. And he covered his ill-conditioned horse with vigorous blows. I would have let her escape."All right!" replied the coachman. but be ready to follow it again as soon as it goes off. he was a long time recovering himself. He did not wish to reflect before seeing the woman. I said twenty francs. well! yes." The cab moved on once more. like the moth which flies again and again against the window where it sees a light. "There. The young woman alighted." The idea that Noel was the assassin harassed and tormented him.

He got out of the cab. and drove away. If so. he is the lowest. gave the driver his forty francs. But is this woman never going home?" The woman was in no hurry. without knowing it. "The old fellow is patient. "Madame Juliette Chaffour. to seize her by the arm. that I may question you. "On what floor does she reside?" "On the second. 'I bequeath to my son. is suspected of an assassination? Home." he answered. . How long will they last her? It must have been for money. Ah! I have prepared a fine trap for you! Go home. there isn't a punishment sufficiently severe for him." The detective opened the door of the concierge's lodge. it was she who forced him to it. home at once! What are you doing here? Don't you know that at this moment your lover. bade him wait. the most infamous of men! What a monster of dissimulation and hypocrisy! And to think that he would be my heir. The tone was so sharp. Noel Gerdy!' If he is guilty. and followed in the young woman's footsteps. deposited its fair freight at her own door. and she intended showing herself off. and would be down directly. turned into the Rue de Provence. passed up the Rue de Faubourg Montmarte. that Noel murdered Widow Lerouge. if Noel committed the crime. She visited three or four more shops. wretched. and at last stopped at a confectioner's. the old man was waiting in Madame Juliette's drawing-room. "The woman wants then to buy out half of Paris!" said old Tabaret to himself in a passion. then. the maid informed him. The old fellow.shop. her dress irresistible." A minute later. he whom you have ruined. this anxiety is killing me!" She returned to her carriage." thought the driver. with a sigh of relief. "What is the name of the lady who just came in?" he demanded. where she remained for more than a quarter of an hour. Madame was dressing. that the concierge was upset. "She lives here. that I may learn from you whether he is innocent or guilty. and cry out to her: "Home. the door opposite the stairs. For you will tell me. These are my fifteen thousand francs that she is frittering away now. then. if I should die here of rage! For it is written in my will in so many words. "Yes. It started off once more. The weather was charming. creature. devoured by anxiety. "Her name!" insisted the old man. moved about and stamped in his cab. so imperative. "and the little brunette is caught. then." said old Tabaret. It was torture thus to be kept from the key to a terrible enigma by the caprice of a worthless hussy! He was dying to rush after her. The concierge did not seem disposed to reply.

he had no doubt. while the old man sat down in a chair." Old Tabaret was especially anxious to know whether Noel had prepared an _alibi_ for the evening of the crime. "I come. what your errand is. and had hastily thrown about her a loose black dressing-gown. "Clergeot." "Oh. The old fellow. Tabaret. paternally." cried Juliette." Juliette's entrance disturbed his reflections. Noel has sent you here to scold me. who knew a good deal about such things. twenty thousand francs. he was certainly guilty. sir." interrupted the young woman. sir. for the last month he has been so peculiar. if not. and curled behind her delicate ears. bowing gracefully. There was nothing flaring or coarse. He began to understand. he has changed so. Madame Juliette. "I am a friend of Noel Gerdy's. a sad and mysterious being--" "You have been imprudent. at the lowest estimate. to speak with me?" she inquired. he might still be innocent. "Madame. Your presence at M. he must be plotting something in that head of his. just showing the tips of her little feet encased in slippers matching her dressing-gown. "Oh! I know." he resumed." replied M. "on very serious business. I may say his best friend." "My dear child--" began Tabaret. "You wished. slightly disordered after her drive." thought he. who repeated it to me. For him that was the grand question. "didn't exaggerate a bit. a man whom one knows nothing whatever about. . Any way. Her beautiful hair." "Why? Because he is going to get married? Why does he not admit it then?" "Suppose that it is not true. sir. or in bad taste. a riddle in a black coat and a white cravat. trimmed with cherry-coloured satin. Gerdy's--" "Ah. but it is! He told that old shark Clergeot so. She had taken off her dress. She dazzled old Tabaret.Tabaret was astonished at the luxury of the room. He forbade my going to his house. It's annoying to have a puzzle for a lover. "he already knows of my visit? Then he must employ a detective. saw that everything was of great value. fell in cascades about her neck. but I couldn't help it. The ornaments on the mantelpiece alone must have cost. that I hardly recognize him. She placed herself on a sofa. If he had. and--" "Pray sit down. madame. could enlighten him on that point. It was not at all like the apartment of a kept woman.

One would think that my presence dishonoured him. "Listen. I had to treat him like a perfect stranger. he scarcely shows it here.Consequently he had presented himself with his lesson all prepared. Ah. surprised at this amiable frankness. But do you think that he sat in it with me? Not at all. his path will be smooth." replied old Tabaret. the poor boy! If he meets no worse obstacle than myself." "If he despises you. my pretty lady. then?" "His marriage!" cried Juliette." "He? I tell you he is ashamed of me. shrugging her shoulders. If you ever ask him to dinner. it was amusing! At the ball. was the _alibi_ prepared in case of trouble. then?" asked the old fellow. We are quits. I shall be obliged to leave him. "ah. he didn't dare to let down his hood. At the end of the play. his little trap all set. and let me hear no more of him. Let him marry by all means. "that he spends a great deal of money on me." said she rising. He hides me as though I were some horrible disease. was none the less gay for that. have passed an intolerable existence. bursting out into a laugh. The young woman's outburst disconcerted him a little. had she been less carried away by her own feelings. Why. M. Ask him how often he takes me out. and so I act like one. making a great effort to utter the words. he resumed. "Well. the sooner the better. He slipped away and I saw no more of him the whole evening. because some of his friends were present. But what's that to me! I am not a grabbing woman. Juliette. who am so fond of pleasure. "the supper." "You don't love him. it's very possible. I am tired of having a lover who is ashamed of me and who despises me. we went to the theatre! He hired an entire box. or take off his mask." "Gay!" echoed the young woman. "you do not seem to know much of your friend. then. towards midnight. but trusting to the chances of conversation. Gerdy treats me like a mercenary woman." he said." This. It's true. At supper. but everything has an end. and I would much have preferred less money and more regard. would have noticed old Tabaret's emotion. If Noel doesn't leave me. He pretends that he has ruined himself on my account. "You mean. I. "Will you oppose Noel's marriage. You are the first of his friends to whom I have ever spoken. no longer ago than last Tuesday. and trembled like a leaf. casting a significant glance about the room. take good . he deigned to reappear. For four years." "How so? Were you obliged to return home alone?" "No. My extravagance has been inspired by anger and want of occupation. I suppose. sir." "You know very well that he worships you. I have loved him a great deal. We had arranged to go to the masked ball at the Opera and then to have some supper. He was perfectly livid. and would certainly have held her tongue.

while you find a messenger to take it. At the second bottle. the wheel. Noel an assassin! His hate was without bounds. Will they still be found there? If he has had the prudence to go boldly. and will be my heir. He thirsted for vengeance. unworthily duped. he asked himself what punishment would be great enough for the crime.care not to give him anything to drink." thought he. The hussy. The certainty of confounding Noel. will deny what she has just told me. umbrella. as formerly had been his confiding affection. Madame Chaffour's evidence won't help me. "that the wretch forgot his things at the railway station. but he must be warned though. the refined cruelty of the middle ages: quartering. alone kept old Tabaret up. "infamous scoundrel! It is he. The guillotine acts so quickly that the condemned man has scarcely time to feel the cold steel cutting through his muscles. Wine makes him as merry as a funeral procession." Old Tabaret was soon in his cab and hurrying towards the Prefecture of Police." About half way down the Rue Richelieu. of taking vengeance upon him. purse. "For he not only assassinated Claudine. Tabaret was seized with a sudden giddiness. in his haste to rejoin his mistress. "Child. and can remember nothing. to lead me by the nose. I will write him a line. And who can say that he did not kill his poor mother?" He regretted the abolition of torture. "I have just made some awful blunder. that he lost nearly everything he had with him: his overcoat. seeing her lover in danger. he saw a doctor's plate on a door. if necessary. leaving Juliette so terrified that she called her maid. have let some secret out. M. Without knowing it I must have spoken against Noel. "I am going to have an attack. "but he so arranged the whole thing as to have an innocent man accused and condemned. but I have him!" And he rushed out. it has now become little more than a joke. He had been cruelly deceived. he jumped to his feet like a raving madman. I can see no further proofs against him. by the vilest and the most criminal of men. Noel will escape. he came to circumvent me. and he succeeded. she will assert that Noel left her long after ten o'clock. he stopped . I am sure that something dreadful is going to happen." said she. and ask for them under a false name." thought he. But I cannot think he has dared to go to the railway station again. What can I have said? I have thought carefully. I fear. "It is clear." he murmured. cigar-case--" Old Tabaret couldn't sit and listen any longer. "Miserable wretch!" he cried. "If I die. to be able to destroy it. it is nothing more than a fillip on the neck. That old rogue was no friend of Noel's. I feel it. he was more tipsy than a cork. of delivering him up to justice. and might be abolished altogether. the stake." A few steps further on. Through trying so much to mitigate the pain of death. so much so. A man should always keep his will constantly with him.

in pursuit of the truth." he cried. M. Noel!" "Noel!" repeated M. when doubt had become impossible. he hastened to the Palais de Justice. he will slip through our fingers. "Now to arrest him. my adopted son. Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour. he found a pair of lavender kid gloves. Lazare railway station. his eyes had such a wild expression. "Bleed me!" he repeated. "Do you want me to die?" The doctor finally obeyed. he was. "Sir. having related to him the facts revealed by Pierre Lerouge whom the count had believed dead many years before. "Onwards!" he cried at last. had since been strengthened in a number of other ways. on beholding the evidence arrayed against Noel." And. Albert. as well as a return ticket from Chatou. He will know that he is discovered. so beside himself. sir. An hour later. Daburon was still in his office." . and drawn up one of his shirtsleeves.the cab. where he hoped to find the investigating magistrate. my heir. "we have discovered the real assassin! It is he. We must now occupy ourselves with the other one. His conviction. "a moment before your arrival. And then in a lower tone. he added. unwillingly formed when Clergeot had told him of Noel's follies. I had made arrangements to have him released. Daburon. and old Tabaret came out quieted and relieved. armed with the necessary power. is still in prison. and yet. an overcoat and an umbrella. stuttering with suppressed rage. When with Juliette. Hasten. there had been found in one of the second class carriages. he had felt positively sure. "I suspected it. In hurrying on. In one of the pockets of the overcoat. and he at once recognised them as belonging to Noel." replied the magistrate. rising. Daburon opened his lips to ask an explanation. too distracted to notice the presence of a stranger. He was shown the articles. and accompanied by a policeman. "If we lose a minute. absolutely thunderstruck." continued the old fellow. and rushed into the house. what it was. An innocent man. frayed and soiled. old Tabaret knew only too well. of train No. It resulted as he had expected. he proceeded to the lost property office at the St. Old Tabaret entered like a whirlwind. which had not been used. He was conversing with the Count de Commarin. He learnt that. who said to him hoarsely: "Bleed me!" The doctor ventured an objection. but already the old fellow had taken off his coat. that the doctor was almost afraid of his peculiar patient." "A warrant is necessary at once. at this last moment. if his mistress has time to warn him of my visit. but the old detective continued: "That is not all. without losing an instant. to make the necessary search. on the evening of Shrove Tuesday. 45. hasten!" M." "He will not be so an hour longer. He was so excited.

taken from the golden book of French nobility. Then there was a moment of mortal silence." answered Noel. "Then. Infamous villain! you not only committed this murder. the heir! His glance. And. Noel had promised to use every effort. he gained the door quietly. and read. the old nobleman threw his cane into a corner. He approached it. he was the master. "be silent! Can it be.Neither old Tabaret nor M. I cannot doubt it now! Wretch! you knew well that you were Madame Gerdy's son. but managed to be repulsed everywhere. Noel had the courage to speak first. At four o'clock. two of them had even married daughters of royalty. "The Count has gone out. At the same time their minds were filled with thoughts." said Denis. henceforth. He turned. he felt that he was lost. "Wretch!" cried the count. and one of the most illustrious. and saw the count entering. he was petrified by the look of hatred. He was at home. he considered him unworthy of being struck by his hand. CHAPTER XIX. which would require a volume to transcribe. which seemed to both of them a century." This confidence gave Noel an idea of his new power. He was unwilling to strike his son. anger. Daburon had noticed the disappearance of the Count de Commarin. On hearing Noel's name mentioned. heaven forgive me! that you are my son? Alas. A shiver ran through his veins. The Commarins had mingled their blood with all the great families. It was like a page. "Silence!" exclaimed the count hoarsely. his pulse beat quicker. which wandered over the entire room. to inform his father of the ill success of his efforts. he raised his head haughtily. He in fact did interview the Public Prosecutor and some members of the bar. "Sir. his teeth chattered. hanging on the wall. but you did everything to cause an innocent man to be charged with your crime! Parricide! you have also . to obtain Albert's release. A warm glow of pride filled the advocate's heart. he called at the Count de Commarin's house. to attempt even the impossible." he began. in that magnificent house." replied the valet. As Noel was about to bow respectfully. dreading his own violence. and contempt on his father's face. noticed the genealogical tree. Every name which has a place in our history was there. "Viscount de Commarin!" The door opened. and rushed out into the passage. "will you please follow me? I have the count's orders to show you into his private room. as he murmured. "but if you will take the trouble to wait----" "I will wait.

I understand all now. they will never catch me alive. and. you do me the favor of offering me a pistol. approached his writing table. and I do not attempt to justify it. you see. his look haggard. You only wish to avoid the scandal of my trial. without seeming to pay any attention to Noel. "if not by poison. Sit down. and the disgrace which . which men use in moments of imminent danger. but Noel closed it with a kick. I have committed a crime." continued the advocate coldly. It was to you that she addressed her last word. "would be to leave you to the executioner who awaits you. "do not let us waste in vain words the few moments' respite left me. "My duty." "Ah!" cried M. You were listening. as you see. but who laid the foundation of it. 'Assassin!'" Little by little. and he stood leaning against the wall. I must decline it. "I must tell you. he said: "Your fire-arms are needless. my precautions." The advocate attempted to stammer forth a protest. quick tone." continued the count with increased energy. threateningly. a warrant of arrest is issued against you." A cry of rage like a hollow rattle burst from the advocate's breast. "that I do not choose to kill myself--at least. Only----" "Only?" repeated the count harshly. Overwhelmed in the very midst of his triumph. he struggled against this fright. are already taken. she was not delirious this morning. not at present. but I will not kill myself until I am sure that every opening is closed against me. "and I am not alone in my knowledge. Thanks. "must I then do it myself?" He moved towards the drawer. "Listen to me. Noel had retired to the end of the room. M. "you are a coward!" "No. if not yourself? Now. He drew himself up with a look of defiance." said he. which were hanging through terror. de Commarin in disgust. at least by your crime. May heaven forgive you!" The old nobleman moved towards the door. A convulsive trembling shook his frame. the terror of the criminal found out. in that hoarse. and drawing at the same time a revolver from his pocket. sir. and opened a drawer. de Commarin. You will then find fire-arms in this drawer. But you know as well as I do what she was saying. This generosity is not through any regard for me. his head thrown back. it was because you had calculated the effect of your presence. write and sign a confession of your crime. if you dared to enter at that moment when one word more would have betrayed you. Noel with a sign stopped him. but I remember that I have the misfortune to be your father.killed your mother. His lips. At this moment. now grew firm." "Miserable wretch!" said the count. sir. that I cannot save myself. sir. "You killed her. his hair on end. "I know all. His face betrayed a terror most horrible to see. sir." said he. it is true." continued the count. not a coward.

all that you have here. supply me with means. give me some money. "let us end this disgraceful scene. If I succeed in escaping my pursuers. But make up your mind quickly. There isn't sufficient money at home to give my mother a decent burial. the advocate had made an impression upon him. without any risk to myself. "I do not choose to kill myself. Supply me with the means of escape." "Never!" "Then I will deliver myself up to justice. Therefore. the count opened a little iron chest imbedded in the wall. I say. By thus speaking of the trial." M. "Oh. de Commarin recoiled. four hundred and twenty thousand francs." he replied. "That's very little. "Permit me." On the previous Saturday the count had withdrawn from his bankers the sum he had destined for fitting up the apartments of him whom he thought was his legitimate child. What do you demand of me?" "I have already told you. I will tell you though that I had counted on you for five hundred thousand francs. do not let us have any struggle. I can yet give myself up. you must hold at my disposal the balance. "but give them to me." said the advocate. "I am the strongest. For a moment hesitating between love for his name and his burning desire to see this wretch punished. My last thousand franc note was nearly all gone the day when--you understand me. mad with rage. like me. you need never fear hearing of me again." The count was about to reply. and took out a roll of bank notes. Finally his feeling for his rank triumphed. for I have not twenty francs in the world. if possible. filled with the utmost contempt." By way of reply. which he threw at Noel's feet. and----" ." said he coldly. and you will see what will happen to the name you hold so dear!" The count. I wish to save my life. At that price. An angry look flashed in the advocate's eyes. "people who. "I have eighty thousand francs here. rushed to his table for a pistol. and I promise you that I will sooner die than be captured. have nothing to lose are dangerous.cannot fail to reflect upon your name." interrupted Noel imperiously. of the scandal and of the disgrace. "Oh! take care!" he said threateningly. as he took one step towards his father. money. "Let us end this." he said in a tremulous voice. the old nobleman stood undecided. I say. Will you pledge yourself to give them to me at the first demand? I will find some means of sending for them. Noel placed himself before him.

they found him stretched on the floor with his face against the carpet. His horrible part being played to the bitter end. I will be faithful to our compact. and. now relaxed and gave way. and showing scarcely a sign of life. I curse you!" When. But. who have neither strength nor courage to think. whom no sensations are capable of moving. It was ended then. An irresistible weariness succeeded the desperate energy which. It seemed to him that the pavement oscillated beneath his feet. and at last the reaction came. an utter indifference for everything. in the presence of the count. the game was lost. he would not have taken a step to hide himself. the scaffold. to fly. The fever which for the last few days had kept him up failed him now. His mouth was parched. not even of death itself. Ah. Henceforth he had nothing more to fear. stretched for more than a week past far beyond their ordinary limits. at the same time. heaven is not just. and picked up the notes. to gain quiet. His insensibility bore a striking resemblance to that felt by persons afflicted with sea-sickness. He foresaw. no more struggles. Do not fear. my father! in all this you are the true criminal. the servants entered the count's room. shaking off this weakness of mind and body. an hour later. . On leaving the Commarin house. to save his head. returned to him. Adieu. had sustained his impudent arrogance. nor of defending himself. No more anguish now. no more useless fright and foolish terrors. with the weariness. he could now lay aside his mask and breathe freely.He stooped down. however. Noel staggered up the Rue de l'Universite. He experienced a great void. and of his danger. his eyes were burning. strange to relate." he continued. For a moment he had serious thoughts of giving himself up. who care for nothing. and that everything about him was turning round. he felt an incredible relief." "Then I am going. with horror. all was over. but you alone will go unpunished. The consciousness of his position. and who could not be aroused from their lethargy by the presence of any great danger. almost delight. as one sees the depth of the abyss by the lightning flashes. he felt an imperative need of rest. But he struggled against this dull stupor. and every now and then a sudden fit of sickness overcame him. they shall not take me alive. Had any one come to him then he would never have thought of resisting. no more dissembling. "Will you give me your word. "to let me have the rest whenever I ask for them?" "Yes. in order to secure peace. to free himself from the anxiety about his safety. All the springs of his organization.

he would have recourse to this ruse. he not save himself? There had been a foreign country. After this great shipwreck in port. His terror increased. and he could think of no place in the whole world where he would feel perfectly safe. he had the certainty of receiving. however. he hurried to the door. nothing he had imagined seemed feasible. The barber might think it strange that he wanted his whiskers shaved off. and supposing he should question him! He passed on. when a thought quicker than a flash of lightning lit up the darkness of his brain. five or six times as . for it occurred to him that this extraordinary behaviour would attract attention. as soon as his eighty thousand francs were spent." But he was so agitated that he was incapable of thinking or of planning anything. "but how?" That mortal terror which deprives the assassin of even ordinary common sense seized him. He could go to begin his life over again. He walked along." he thought. It occurred to him that as the police were doubtless already in pursuit of him. He began running in the direction of the Latin quarter without purpose. new man entirely. "I may be discovered. He was near the Odeon theatre. He soon saw another barber's shop. change his name. on his first request. he had said to himself. his description would soon be known to everyone. It seemed to him that everything in him betokened the murderer. he grew frightened. with the darkness. And. without aim. his white cravat and well trimmed whiskers would betray him as surely as though he carried a placard stating who he was. as represented in paintings. He very soon stopped. and suspicion in every eye. but. to get away. Gradually night had fallen. and thought he noticed three or four passers-by look at him curiously. He would do this and that."I must save my life." And with that possibility in view. Noel seemed to recover his confidence and boldness. besides. He looked eagerly about him. he had perfected a plan which should put him beyond all fear of pursuit. but the same fears as before again prevented his entering. Useless forethought! Now. he would take that precaution. when on the point of turning the handle. and. He had money. When he still hesitated to commit the crime. instinctively repeating to himself: "I must do something. become a that was the main thing. Seeing a barber's shop. The police were seeking him. fleeing under the lashes of the Furies. Why should many just such cases. he thought he read contempt and horror upon every face. and hope rose to the surface. running for the sake of running. like Crime.

like a man on the point of death. An empty coffer is a useless piece of furniture. No. "We will be saved or we will perish together. and she would remain peaceably in Paris? Was it possible? For whom then had he committed this crime? For her." thought the advocate bitterly. Was it not just. Stretched on the cushions of the cab. besides. "no one knows that she is my mistress. lulled by its monotonous jolts. He was already thinking of the disguise he should assume. is but to stupidly attract attention upon you. reviews the tragedy or the comedy of his life. cost what it might. but also those. . he did not even think over what he should say to Juliette. going away with the certainty of never seeing her again? What! he would fly. that she should bear her share of the punishment? "She does not love me. to speak with her. and a pretty woman too. to procure money. but his mother soon undeceived him. when chance placed in his hands Count de Commarin's correspondence.much more. He passed involuntarily in review the events which had brought on and hastened the catastrophe. to render flight impossible. which. was a great risk for him to run. he had determined. to give yourself up like a fool. it would be more dangerous still to write. she will take some other lover. The reading of these gave him an hour of mad delight. which had proved so fatal to him. at the end of his expedients and absolutely without resources. written by the count when he believed the substitution an accomplished fact. called on Claudine to bear witness to it. I love her. so as to be able to continue to keep Madame Juliette." He took a cab not far from the Carrefour de l'Observatoire. She will forget me." "What of that?" replied passion. ruined. To go to her house. If she does not love me. Noel gave no thought to the future. She will not regret me. He believed himself the legitimate son. and in a low tone told the driver the number of the house in the Rue de Provence. Who would have reaped the benefits of it? She. Juliette is prudent. pursued by all the police of the civilized world. and of the frontier to which he should proceed. told him the truth. It will not be found out for two or three days and. tracked like a wild beast. proved to him by several letters she had received from Widow Lerouge. while I--And I was about to go away without her!" The voice of prudence cried out to him: "Unhappy man! to drag a woman along with you. I must have her! She will come. for I am no longer necessary to her. Just one month before. The police were perhaps there already. otherwise--" But how to see Juliette. She would be delighted to be forever free of me. she will live happily. Not only the letters read to old Tabaret. when the recollection of Juliette pierced his heart like a red hot iron. "she never loved me. she has managed to save a nice little fortune. and shown to Albert. plainly established it. to persuade her." thought Noel. Grown rich at my expense. then. "No. Was he going to leave without her.

should she ever suspect him guilty of the assassination. and ultimately he would compromise the matter at the price of a fortune. feeling sure. there would be negotiations. the crime once committed. things would take their own course. The unhappy woman had not been more frank with Madame Gerdy than with others. sunk in debt. It was then that the idea of murdering Claudine occurred to him. laid bare his financial condition. He burnt all the count's letters establishing the substitution. he would wait. If Madame Gerdy spoke. took Juliette to the theatre. in which the advocate was conquered." But how to do away with Claudine without danger to himself? After long reflection. Nor did he think of ousting the Viscount de Commarin and putting himself in his place. the advocate thought of a diabolical stratagem. Then the advocate made a confession of all his follies. For a fortnight. showed himself in his true light. who else stood in his way? Madame Gerdy. But a falling man never selects the branch he tries to save himself by. he reassured himself. His plan was simply this. These last he went and showed to Albert. he decided to strike the fatal blow on the Shrove Tuesday. so that Noel really thought her a widow. The loss of his overcoat only troubled him for a moment. should justice ever discover the reason of Claudine's death. He thought that he could so arrange matters that the police would waste their time in the pursuit of an imaginary criminal. and perhaps the count. and he preserved only those which made it probable. He felt sure of his mother's silence. and prayers and threats availed nothing against her resolution. To neglect no precaution. he thus secured an unanswerable _alibi_. Not that he really wished Albert to be suspected of the crime. de Commarin. He feared them but little. saying: "Pshaw! who will ever know?" . there was a terrible struggle between mother and son. he. and he finally begged his mother to have recourse to M. that. that very same evening. But Madame Gerdy spurned the proposition with horror. On reflection. His plan settled. her testimony suppressed. and afterwards to the masked ball at the opera. Therefore. Noel resolved to make use of the letters all the same. he could always reply: "After stealing my name for your son. you will do everything in the world to enable him to keep it.and demonstrated it to him by the scar he bore. In case things went against him. it would naturally suspect he who appeared to have most interest in it. This also she refused. He attempted to induce his mother to leave the count in his ignorance. so that he might thus blackmail him. it was simply a precaution.

One word from her might destroy him. madame has been expecting you with the greatest impatience! She has been very anxious. and. He thought it all over. don't open the door!" On hearing Noel's voice. To put the police on Albert's track was to guarantee his own safety. Noel leaned out of the door. the unhappy woman divined her son's work. He was terrified. he acted at once and staked his all. it was. at sight of him. he knew the exact value of every minute he delayed here. before getting out of the cab. as well as his own terror. and. in the first paroxysms of her grief. of knowing which stone gave way. increased his boldness and his ingenuity. Putting a bold face on it. He pushed her gently into the salon. Noel knew of his connection with the police. he rushed up stairs. his eyes exploring the neighbourhood and throwing a searching glance into the depths of the hall of the house. There for the first time she saw his face. and followed. He understood his imprudence. Count de Commarin's name and fortune. to insure to himself. he believed himself safe. or of asking down what side one fell? The cab stopped in the Rue de Provence. closing the door. a matter of patience.Everything had resulted in accordance with his calculations. . crossing the pavement with a bound. Charlotte. A frightful delirium had taken possession of his mother." Juliette expecting him! Juliette anxious! The advocate did not stop to ask questions. But when she had breathed her last. Old Tabaret's visit occurred just at the right moment. In her delirium she might betray him at any moment. he paid the fare through the front window. On reaching this spot. So long as Madame Gerdy lived. Juliette ran out to meet him. he could see no further obstacle in his way. "If any one rings. Seeing no one. just as he was about to reach the goal of his ambition. in his opinion. and guessed that the old fellow would make a most valuable confidant. when one is at the bottom of an abyss. Noel trembled. he was sure he had triumphed. But when Madame Gerdy read the account of the murder. Circumstances. sir!" she cried. in the event of a probable success. But how? By whom? What fatality had resuscitated a secret which he had believed buried with Madame Gerdy? But where is the use. however." said he to Charlotte. she declared that she would denounce him. gave a shout of joy. "don't open the door. And now all was discovered. "At last it is you. No matter what may be said or done. he seemed suddenly to recover all his composure. "Ah.

I. She might.--"Juliette. enough!" broke in Noel. With a bound. as usual. your caprices. and she dared not complain of this his first harshness. call for succor. "yes. do you understand? They are pursuing me now. delighting to excite him into a fury. you must follow me at once. if you love me you must prove it. I must fly: will you follow me?" Juliette's eyes grew wide with astonishment.--a crime. I love you. To procure money. his look was so haggard that she could not keep from crying out. her arms about his neck. He was wrong. if you love me. Juliette flew to him. Time presses----" The young girl was terrified. He thought that she would fly from him. "You ill-natured fellow. "Great heavens! what has happened?" "Nothing. for help. I never really knew you . or no. be sincere. She had wronged him greatly. "Juliette.--abandon everything. but she doubted Noel. "Yes. "Yes. throwing herself upon him. have hysterics.--do you love me?" A hundred times had she played with her lover's anger. He expected that terror which a murderer inspires. releasing her hands. perhaps there would be a scene. except that I have loved you too much. He was resigned to it in advance." she replied. I became wild. fastening his flashing eyes upon her. Juliette. me! Would you know the truth? I have committed murder. "do you deserve--" "Oh. "A crime? You?" she began. who knows. When I found I had no more money for your luxury. an assassination." he demanded in a hollow voice. "do you not know it?" "Why?" replied the advocate. but she had never seen him like this before." The advocate felt that Juliette would certainly recoil from him in horror." she stammered. but she. because you loved me. he advanced towards her and took her hand. stamping his feet fiercely.He was so changed. "Answer me. do you love me?" She instinctively felt that something dreadful had occurred: she seemed to breathe an atmosphere of evil. fly with me. might cry out. I do love you!" she cried. you have committed a crime for my sake. But it was all for you. "Yes. "Yes. bruising her pretty hands in his grasp." he continued. "What is the matter?" Noel made no reply. pouting her lips most provokingly.--I committed a crime. for aid. You have a heart. affected indifference. Come. and embraced him as she had never embraced him before. "why? Because. to enjoy the pleasure of appeasing him with a word.

How they have discovered the truth is still a mystery to me. "it is I who have betrayed you. then a third. "Let us go. He experienced a moment of intense delight: nothing appeared hopeless to him now." said she. did it not?" "Yes." he said to himself. she understood it all. ." he said. but Noel never thought of that." cried Noel. "I have some money. Tuesday. the old man I supposed you had sent. and their ears listening intently. it's a miracle that he hasn't been back. for my sake. "What sublime devotion! She loves me truly." He took her arm. if possible." cried Noel. you are ruining me. I will take them. "the one great danger is. with great drops of perspiration on their foreheads. But he had the presence of mind to free himself from her embrace. Tabaret!" "Has Tabaret been here?" "Yes. "quickly. their eyes dilated. when the door-bell rang. Juliette. "for my sake. wringing her hands in despair. some jewels.before!" It had cost him dear to inspire this passion in Madame Juliette. let us fly!" She had already opened her jewel box. but his heart was overflowing with joy. and was hastily tying on her bonnet. but she nimbly released herself. "Oh. that I do not know from whence the attack comes. to hurry her away. what a wretched woman I am!" she cried. she renounces her happy life without hesitation. and was throwing everything of value that she possessed pell mell into a little travelling bag. without a doubt." Juliette remembered her alarming visitor of the afternoon. "Ah." "It is useless. she sacrifices all!" Juliette had finished her preparations. It occurred on Tuesday." "Come. then I have told all. "It is the police!" cried Noel." "Ah. "you are ruining me!" He spoke thus. Leave everything behind. "Wait. even more livid. becoming. I have a fortune. then. just a little while ago. The young woman and her lover stood as immovable as two statues. A second ring was heard. to your friend.

Juliette clung to him." cried Juliette. "Yes. "I will not let you. "Don't despair. Then Noel. trying to wrest the revolver from his grasp. What can they do to you? If they put you in prison. the bullet entering Noel's stomach. Juliette had made his death a terrible punishment. it will give me time. "one way." Juliette went to see. he once more aimed his revolver at the place where he felt his heart beating. triumphing over his dreadful agony. the police were now picking the lock of the door of the ante-chamber. I have given my word. they knocked loudly on the door.Charlotte appeared walking on tip-toe. Ah. who had returned. Fasten all the doors. . for the police at that moment entered the room. "try the servants' staircase!" "You may be sure they have not forgotten it. while the blood flowed copiously from his wound. You are mine. she had prolonged his agony. I love you! Let them come. perceiving the movement. "Let me finish!" murmured Noel. seized his revolver and pointed it at his breast. "There are several. we will live so happily together." Grown tired of ringing. "I heard them talking together. But Juliette. Then. no matter where." replied Noel. leaning against the mantel piece. He staggered. and returned dejected and terrified. made by some one endeavouring to walk softly. far away in America where no one knows us!" The outer door had yielded. She bad distinguished heavy foot-steps on the landing. "they must not take me alive!" And. pulled the trigger and rolled to the floor. The sound of a voice reached the drawing-room." she cried. "No more hope!" murmured Noel." she whispered. and roughly pushed Juliette away. but remained standing. "There must be some way of escape!" she cried fiercely." Juliette and Charlotte ran to carry out his directions. He uttered a frightful cry. but so violently that the revolver turned aside and went off. I will help you. with a supreme effort. She fell down near the sofa. It was full time. "You shall not kill yourself. and let them break them down. threw herself upon her lover. he released himself. supporting himself by the mantel piece. you can escape. The shot took effect. we will bribe the jailors. They are picking the lock. and the word "law" was plainly heard.

"I give it all to you. That was my opinion. I was sure to lose. But he still had strength enough to sign his confession. "After all. "a doctor! He can not be dead!" One man ran out. and I did not conceal it. I loved him as though he were my own child. "The wedding. called for a brilliant wedding. and to say jestingly to M. passing his right hand first under his coat. he uttered a few words: "I am the assassin." A flow of blood rose to his mouth. the Marchioness d'Arlange. at old Mademoiselle de Goello's house. someone placed another pillow under his head. he could only announce the decease of M. do you! It must be great fun to trap one's friends in person! Ah." The death struggle commenced. whose anger left him at the sight. They knew of cases where people had to quit this world in company. Then in a broken. and carried it to Madame Juliette's bedroom where they laid it on the bed." he said. He even succeeded in turning himself half-way towards the wall and then back again. he tossed about painfully on the bed. looking ten years younger than when we saw her last. my friend. "For his sake. advocate. who had just married the Viscount Albert de Commarin. I have had a fine game. moreover. he drew Juliette's head close to his lips. under old Tabaret's direction. Noel just then uttered a groan. one evening. and. for which I think he is greatly to blame. that before shooting mistress." While they were writing. . and." she cried. My son-in-law wished it. hissing voice. and. I trust his wounds are mortal!" murmured the old detective. Tabaret. his name is still in my will!" Old Tabaret stopped. and then under his pillow." said she. while the others. But the boy is as stubborn as his father. raised the body. Noel Gerdy. CHAPTER XX. "My fortune is beneath the pillow.Their first thought was. but. without any flourish of trumpets. "A doctor. reports? But Juliette was already on her feet himself. "Ah. "took place on our estate in Normandy. The advocate shook his head feebly. was giving her dowager friends an account of the wedding of her granddaughter Claire. and opened his eyes. when the doctor arrived. Some months later. Noel had shot his romantically desired had they not heard two again. which was at once understood. I will sign it." he whispered. "Write it down. for a moment. and they all thought him dead. I owe him that at least. "You see that he will live!" cried Juliette. so you go in for the detective business. it will please Albert. ha. Upon a sign. with three women in the play. The scandal raised by the mistake of which he had been the victim.

well.org/3/8/0/3802/ ." The marchioness forgot. he persisted in his obstinacy. she never says anything against her son-in-law! Retiring to his father's home in Poitou.gutenberg. and has organised a society for the defence of poor and innocent prisoners. is indelibly impressed. I must tell you that. she is all the same a worthy woman. They are nearly all gone now though. after sending in his resignation. and had discharged a considerable amount of her debts. and by five or six other tradesmen. also sided against me. absolutely all. by three linen drapers. she had not borrowed more than nine thousand francs of him. The eighty thousand francs hidden by him under the pillow were not taken from her. forgetfulness will come later on. He intends living alone on one of his estates. Old Tabaret. he now sees every where nothing but judicial errors. Ah. and probably for the last. His friends do not yet despair of inducing him to marry. alone. a week before the wedding. and maintains that the evidence of one's senses proves nothing.zip ***** This and all associated files of various formats will be found in: http://www. He circulates petitions for the abolition of capital punishment. for they will have no difficulty in bringing them up and in providing for them. but she intends confessing to him some day how greatly she is annoyed by her upholsterer. It must be admitted that they have paid dearly for their happiness. by Emile Gaboriau *** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE WIDOW LEROUGE *** ***** This file should be named 3802. however. to state that. After having believed in the infallibility of justice. my grandchild is settled. and may they have lots of children. I am afraid the poor dear old man will not live long. of no consequence. May they be happy then. by her dressmaker. It is. End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Widow Lerouge. however. Madame Juliette is quite consoled for the loss of Noel.which is saying a good deal. Before long the sale of a handsome suite of furniture will be announced. But I do not think much of those parents who hesitate at any pecuniary sacrifice when their children's happiness is at stake. Anyhow. obeying beforehand her future husband. I have left the young people in all the bliss of the honeymoon. the Count de Commarin has behaved like an angel! He has settled all his fortune on his son. M. I know what it has cost me.txt or 3802. and how economical I shall have to be. billing and cooing like a pair of turtle doves. The ex-amateur detective doubts the very existence of crime. Albert freed her from a very embarrassing position. I am not sure that he has entirely recovered from that last attack. Since then. I defy anyone to find to-day a single individual with courage enough to confess that he ever for an instant doubted Albert's innocence. for the first time in his life. And my impudent granddaughter. and grandly too. Daburon has at length found rest.

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