The Mystery of Orcival
Part 7 out of 7
Sauvresy's package of papers."
"And you did not use them?"
"I was dismayed at my abuse of confidence. Besides, had I the right
to deprive poor Sauvresy, who was dying in order to avenge himself,
of his vengeance?"
"But you gave the papers to Madame de Tremorel?"
"True; but Bertha had a vague presentiment of the fate that was in
store for her. About a fortnight before her death she came and
confided to me her husband's manuscript, which she had taken care
to complete. I broke the seals and read it, to see if he had died
a violent death."
"Why, then, didn't you tell me? Why did you let me hunt, hesitate,
grope about - "
"I love Laurence, Monsieur Lecoq, and to deliver up Tremorel was to
open an abyss between her and me."
The detective bowed. "The deuce," thought he, "the old justice is
shrewd - as shrewd as I am. Well, I like him, and I'm going to give
him a surprise."
M. Plantat yearned to question his host and to know what the sole
means of which he spoke were, which might be successful in preventing
a trial and saving Laurence, but he did not dare to do so.
The detective bent over his desk lost in thought. He held a pencil
in his hand and mechanically drew fantastic figures on a large sheet
of white paper which lay before him. He suddenly came out of his
revery. He had just solved a last difficulty; his plan was now
entire and complete. He glanced at the clock.
"Two o'clock," cried he, "and I have an appointment between three
and four with Madame Charman about Jenny."
"I am at your disposal," returned his guest.
"All right. When Jenny is disposed of we must look after Tremorel;
so let's take our measures to finish it up to-day."
"What! do you hope to do everything to-day - "
"Certainly. Rapidity is above all necessary in our profession. It
often takes a month to regain an hour lost. We've a chance now of
catching Hector by surprise; to-morrow it will be too late. Either
we shall have him within four-and-twenty hours or we must change
our batteries. Each of my three men has a carriage and a good
horse; they may be able to finish with the upholsterers within an
hour from now. If I calculate aright, we shall have the address
in an hour, or at most in two hours, and then we will act."
Lecoq, as he spoke, took a sheet of paper surmounted by his arms out
of his portfolio, and rapidly wrote several lines.
"See here," said he, "what I've written to one of my lieutenants."
"Get together six or eight of our men at once and take them to the
wine merchant's at the corner of the Rue des Martyrs and the Rue
Lamartine; await my orders there."
"Why there and not here?"
"Because we must avoid needless excursions. At the place I have
designated we are only two steps from Madame Charman's and near
Tremorel's retreat; for the, wretch has hired his rooms in the
quarter of Notre Dame de Lorette."
M. Plantat gave an exclamation of surprise.
"What makes you think that?"
The detective smiled, as if the question seemed foolish to him.
"Don't you recollect that the envelope of the letter addressed by
Mademoiselle Courtois to her family to announce her suicide bore
the Paris postmark, and that of the branch office of Rue St. Lazare?
Now listen to this: On leaving her aunt's house, Laurence must have
gone directly to Tremorel's apartments, the address of which he had
given her, and where he had promised to meet her on Thursday morning.
She wrote the letter, then, in his apartments. Can we admit that
she had the presence of mind to post the letter in another quarter
than that in which she was? It is at least probable that she was
ignorant of the terrible reasons which Tremorel had to fear a search
and pursuit. Had Hector foresight enough to suggest this trick to
her? No, for if he wasn't a fool he would have told her to post
the letter somewhere outside of Paris. It is therefore scarcely
possible that it was posted anywhere else than at the nearest
These suppositions were so simple that M. Plantat wondered he had
not thought of them before. But men do not see clearly in affairs
in which they are deeply interested; passion dims the eyes, as heat
in a room dims a pair of spectacles. He had lost, with his
coolness, a part of his clearsightedness. His anxiety was very
great; for he thought M. Lecoq had a singular mode of keeping his
"It seems to me," he could not help remarking, "that if you wish
to keep Hector from trial, the men you have summoned together will
be more embarrassing than useful."
M. Lecoq thought that his guest's tone and look betrayed a certain
doubt, and was irritated by it.
"Do you distrust me, Monsieur Plantat?"
The old man tried to protest.
"Believe me - "
"You have my word," resumed M. Lecoq, "and if you knew me better
you would know that I always keep it when I have given it. I have
told you that I would do my best to save Mademoiselle Laurence; but
remember that I have promised you my assistance, not absolute
success. Let me, then, take such measures as I think best."
So saying, he rang for Janouille.
"Here's a letter," said he when she appeared, "which must be sent
to Job at once."
"I will carry it."
"By no means. You will be pleased to remain here and wait for the
men that I sent out this morning. As they come in, send them to
the wine merchant's at the corner of the Rue des Martyrs; you know
it - opposite the church. They'll find a numerous company there."
As he gave his orders, he took off his gown, assumed a long black
coat, and carefully adjusted his wig.
"Will Monsieur be back this evening?" asked Janouille.
"I don't know."
"And if anybody comes from over yonder?"
"Over yonder" with a detective, always means "the house" - otherwise
the prefecture of police.
"Say that I am out on the Corbeil affair."
M. Lecoq was soon ready. He had the air, physiognomy, and manners
of a highly respectable chief clerk of fifty. Gold spectacles, an
umbrella, everything about him exhaled an odor of the ledger.
"Now," said he to M. Plantat. "Let's hurry away." Goulard, who
had made a hearty breakfast, was waiting for his hero in the
"Ah ha, old fellow," said M. Lecoq. "So you've had a few words
with my wine. How do you find it?"
"Delicious, my chief; perfect - that is to say, a true nectar."
"It's cheered you up, I hope."
"Oh, yes, my chief."
"Then you may follow us a few steps and mount guard at the door of
the house where you see us go in. I shall probably have to confide
a pretty little girl to your care whom you will carry to Monsieur
Domini. And open your eyes; for she's a sly creature, and very
apt to inveigle you on the way and slip through your fingers."
They went out, and Janouille stoutly barricaded herself behind them.
Whosoever needs a loan of money, or a complete suit of clothes in
the top of the fashion, a pair of ladies' boots, or an Indian
cashmere; a porcelain table service or a good picture; whosoever
desires diamonds, curtains, laces, a house in the country, or a
provision of wood for winter fires - may procure all these, and
many other things besides, at Mme. Charman's.
Mme. Charman lives at 136, Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, on the
first story above the ground-floor. Her customers must give madame
some guarantee of their credit; a woman, if she be young and pretty,
may be accommodated at madame's at the reasonable rate of two
hundred per cent interest. Madame has, at these rates, considerable
custom, and yet has not made a large fortune. She must necessarily
risk a great deal, and bears heavy losses as well as receives large
profits. Then she is, as she is pleased to say, too honest; and
true enough, she is honest - she would rather sell her dress off her
back than let her signature go to protest.
Madame is a blonde, slight, gentle, and not wanting in a certain
distinction of manner; she invariably wears, whether it be summer
or winter, a black silk dress. They say she has a husband, but no
one has ever seen him, which does not prevent his reputation for
good conduct from being above suspicion. However, honorable as may
be Mme. Charman's profession, she has more than once had business
with M. Lecoq; she has need of him and fears him as she does fire.
She, therefore, welcomed the detective and his companion - whom she
took for one of his colleagues - somewhat as the supernumerary of a
theatre would greet his manager if the latter chanced to pay him a
visit in his humble lodgings.
She was expecting them. When they rang, she advanced to meet them
in the ante-chamber, and greeted M. Lecoq graciously and smilingly.
She conducted them into her drawing-room, invited them to sit in
her best arm-chairs, and pressed some refreshments upon them.
"I see, dear Madame," began M. Lecoq, "that you have received my
"Yes, Monsieur Lecoq, early this morning; I was not up."
"Very good. And have you been so kind as to do the service I asked?"
"How can you ask me, when you know that I would go through the fire
for you? I set about it at once, getting up expressly for the
"Then you've got the address of Pelagie Taponnet, called Jenny?"
"Yes, I have," returned Mme. Charman, with an obsequious bow. "If
I were the kind of woman to magnify my services, I would tell you
what trouble it cost me to find this address, and how I ran all
over Paris and spent ten francs in cab hire."
"Well, let's come to the point."
"The truth is, I had the pleasure of seeing Miss Jenny day before
"You are joking!"
"Not the least in the world. And let me tell you that she is a
very courageous and honest girl."
"She is, indeed. Why, she has owed me four hundred and eighty
francs for two years. I hardly thought the debt worth much, as
you may imagine. But Jenny came to me day before yesterday all out
of breath and told me that she had inherited some money, and had
brought me what she owed me. And she was not joking, either; for
her purse was full of bank notes, and she paid me the whole of my
bill. She's a good girl!" added Mme. Charman, as if profoundly
convinced of the truth of her encomium.
M. Lecoq exchanged a significant glance with the old justice; the
same idea struck them both at the same moment. These bank-notes
could only be the payment for some important service rendered by
Jenny to Tremorel. M. Lecoq, however, wished for more precise
"What was Jenny's condition before this windfall?" asked he.
"Ah, Monsieur Lecoq, she was in a dreadful condition. Since the
count deserted her she has been constantly falling lower and lower.
She sold all she had piece by piece. At last, she mixed with the
worst kind of people, drank absinthe, they say, and had nothing to
put to her back. When she got any money she spent it on a parcel
of hussies instead of buying clothes."
"And where is she living?"
"Right by, in a house in the Rue Vintimille."
"If that is so," replied M. Lecoq, severely, "I am astonished that
she is not here."
"It's not my fault, dear Monsieur Lecoq; I know where the nest is,
but not where the bird is. She was away this morning when I sent
"The deuce! But then - it's very annoying; I must hunt her up at
"You needn't disturb yourself. Jenny ought to return before four
o'clock, and one of my girls is waiting for her with orders to
bring her here as soon as she comes in, without even letting her go
up to her room."
"We'll wait for her then."
M. Lecoq and his friend waited about a quarter of an hour, when Mme.
Charman suddenly got up.
I hear my girl's step on the stairs," said she.
"Listen to me," answered M. Lecoq, "if it is she, manage to make
Jenny think that it was you who sent for her; we will seem to have
come in by the merest chance."
Mme. Charman responded by a gesture of assents. She was going
towards the door when the detective detained her by the arm.
"One word more. When you see me fairly engaged in conversation with
her, please be so good as to go and overlook your work-people in
the shops. What I have to say will not interest you in the least."
"But no trickery, you know. I know where the closet of your bedroom
is, well enough to be sure that everything that is said here may be
overheard in it."
Mme. Charman's emissary opened the door; there was a loud rustling
of silks along the corridor; and Jenny appeared in all her glory.
She was no longer the fresh and pretty minx whom Hector had known
- the provoking large-eyed Parisian deinoiselle, with haughty head
and petulant grace. A single year had withered her, as a too hot
summer does the roses, and had destroyed her fragile beauty beyond
recall. She was not twenty, and still it was hard to discern that
she had been charming, and was yet young. For she had grown old
like vice; her worn features and hollow cheeks betrayed the
dissipations of her life; her eyes had lost their long, languishing
lids; her mouth had a pitiful expression of stupefaction; and
absinthe had broken the clear tone of her voice. She was richly
dressed in a new robe, with a great deal of lace and a jaunty hat;
yet she had a wretched expression; she was all besineared with
rouge and paint.
When she came in she seemed very angry.
"What an idea!" she cried, without taking the trouble to bow to
anyone; "what sense is there in sending for me to come here in
this way, almost by force, and by a very impudent young woman?"
Mme. Charman hastened to meet her old customer, embraced her in
spite of herself, and pressed her to her heart.
"Why, don't be so angry, dear - I thought you would be delighted
and overwhelm me with thanks."
"I? What for?"
"Because, my dear girl, I had a surprise in store for you. Ah, I'm
not ungrateful; you came here yesterday and settled your account
with me, and to-day I mean to reward you for it. Come, cheer up;
you're going to have a splendid chance, because just at this moment
I happen to have a piece of exquisite velvet - "
"A pretty thing to bring me here for!"
"All silk, my dear, at thirty francs the yard. Ha, 'tis wonderfully
cheap, the best - "
"Eh! What care I for your 'chance?' Velvet in July - are you
making fun of me?"
"Let me show it to you, now."
"Never! I am expected to dinner at Asnieres, and so - "
She was about to go away despite Mme. Charman's attempts to detain
her, when M. Lecoq thought it was time to interfere.
"Why, am I mistaken?" cried he, as if amazed; "is it really Miss
Jenny whom I have the honor of seeing?"
She scanned him with a half-angry, half-surprised air, and said:
"Yes, it is I; hat of it?"
"What! Are you so forgetful? Don't you recognize me?"
"No, not at all."
"Yet I was one of your admirers once, my dear, and used to breakfast
with you when you lived near the Madeleine; in the count's time,
He took off his spectacles as if to wipe them, but really to launch
a furious look at Mme. Charman, who, not daring to resist, beat a
"I knew Tremorel well in other days," resumed the detective. "And
- by the bye, have you heard any news of him lately?"
"I saw him about a week ago."
"Stop, though-haven't you heard of that horrible affair?"
"No. What was it?"
"Really, now, haven't you heard? Don't you read the papers? It
was a dreadful thing, and has been the talk of all Paris for the
past forty-eight hours."
"Tell me about it, quick!"
"You know that he married the widow of one of his friends. He was
thought to be very happy at home; not at all; he has murdered his
wife with a knife."
Jenny grew pale under her paint.
"Is it possible?" stammered she. She seemed much affected, but not
very greatly surprised, which M. Lecoq did not fail to remark.
It is so possible," he resumed, "that he is at this moment in
prison, will soon be tried, and without a doubt will be convicted."
M. Plantat narrowly observed Jenny; be looked for an explosion of
despair, screams, tears, at least a light nervous attack; he was
Jenny now detested Tremorel. Sometimes she felt the weight of her
degradation, and she accused Hector of her present ignominy. She
heartily hated him, though she smiled when she saw him, got as much
money out of him as she could, and cursed him behind his back.
Instead of bursting into tears, she therefore laughed aloud.
"Well done for Tremorel," said she. "Why did he leave me? Good
for her too."
"What did she deceive her husband for? It was she who took Hector
from me - she, a rich, married woman! But I've always said Hector
was a poor wretch."
"Frankly, that's my notion too. When a man acts as Tremorel has
toward you, he's a villain."
It's so, isn't it?"
"Parbleu! But I'm not surprised at his conduct. For his wife's
murder is the least of his crimes; why, he tried to put it off upon
"That doesn't surprise me."
"He accused a poor devil as innocent as you or I, who might have
been condemned to death if he hadn't been able to tell where he
was on Wednesday night."
M. Lecoq said this lightly, with intended deliberation, so as to
watch the impression he produced on Jenny.
"Do you know who the man was?" asked she in a tremulous voice.
"The papers said it was a poor lad who was his gardener."
"A little man, wasn't he, thin, very dark, with black hair?"
"And whose name was - wait now - was - Guespin."
"Ah ha, you know him then?"
Jenny hesitated. She was trembling very much, and evidently
regretted that she had gone so far.
"Bah!" said she at last. "I don't see why I shouldn't tell what I
know. I'm an honest girl, if Tremorel is a rogue; and I don't want
them to condemn a poor wretch who is innocent."
"You know something about it, then?"
"Well, I know nearly all about it - that's honest, ain't it? About
a week ago Hector wrote to me to meet him at Melun; I went, found
him, and we breakfasted together. Then he told me that he was very
much annoyed about his cook's marriage; for one of his servants was
deeply in love with her, and might go and raise a rumpus at the
"Ah, he spoke to you about the wedding, then?"
"Wait a minute. Hector seemed very much embarrassed, not knowing
how to avoid the disturbance he feared. Then I advised him to send
the servant off out of the way on the wedding-day. He thought a
moment, and said that my advice was good. He added that he had
found a means of doing this; on the evening of the marriage he
would send the man on an errand for me, telling him that the affair
was to be concealed from the countess. I was to dress up - as a
chambermaid, and wait for the man at the cafe in the Place du
Chatelet, between half-past nine and ten that evening; I was to sit
at the table nearest the entrance on the right, with a bouquet in
my hand, so that he should recognize me. He would come in and give
me a package; then I was to ask him to take something, and so get
him tipsy if possible, and then walk about Paris with him till
Jenny expressed herself with difficulty, hesitating, choosing her
words, and trying to remember exactly what Tremorel said.
"And you," interrupted M. Lecoq, "did you believe all this story
about a jealous servant?"
"Not quite; but I fancied that he had some intrigue on foot, and I
wasn't sorry to help him deceive a woman whom I detested, and who
had wronged me."
"So you did as he told you?"
"Exactly, from beginning to end; everything happened just as Hector
had foreseen. The man came along at just ten o'clock, took me for
a maid, and gave me the package. I naturally offered him a glass
of beer; he took it and proposed another, which I also accepted.
He is a very nice fellow, this gardener, and I passed a very
pleasant evening with him. He knew lots of queer things, and - "
"Never mind that. What did you do then?"
"After the beer we had some wine, then some beer again, then some
punch, then some more wine - the gardener had his pockets full of
money. He was very tipsy by eleven and invited me to go and have
a dance with him at the Batignolles. I refused, and asked him to
escort me back to my mistress at the upper end of the Champs
Elysees. We went out of the cafe and walked up the Rue de Rivoli,
stopping every now and then for more wine and beer. By two o'clock
the fellow was so far gone that he fell like a lump on a bench near
the Arc de Triomphe, where he went to sleep; and there I left him."
"Well, where did you go?"
"What has become of the package?"
"Oh, I intended to throw it into the Seine, as Hector wished, but
I forgot it; you see, I had drunk almost as much as the gardener
- so I carried it back home with me, and it is in my room now.
"Have you opened it?"
"Well - what do you think?"
"What did it contain?"
"A hammer, two other tools and a large knife."
Guespin's innocence was now evident, and the detective's foresight
"Guespin's all right," said M. Plantat. "But we must know - "
M. Lecoq interrupted him; he knew now all he wished. Jenny could
tell him nothing more, so he suddenly changed his tone from a
wheedling one to abrupt severity.
"My fine young woman," said he, "you have saved an innocent man,
but you must repeat what you have just said to the judge of
instruction at Corbeil. And as you might lose yourself on the way,
I'll give you a guide."
He went to the window and opened it; perceiving Goulard on the
sidewalk, he cried out to him:
"Goulard, come up here."
He turned to the astonished Jenny, who was so frightened that she
dared not either question him or get angry, and said:
"Tell me how much Tremorel paid you for the service you rendered
"Ten thousand francs; but it is my due, I swear to you; for he
promised it to me long ago, and owed it to me."
"Very good; it can't be taken away from you." He added, pointing
out Goulard who entered just then: "Go with this man to your room,
take the package which Guespin brought you, and set out at once for
Corbeil. Above all, no tricks, Miss - or beware of me!"
Mme. Charman came in just in time to see Jenny leave the room with
"Lord, what's the matter?" she asked M. Lecoq.
"Nothing, my dear Madame, nothing that concerns you in the least.
And so, thank you and good-evening; we are in a great hurry."
When M. Lecoq was in a hurry he walked fast. He almost ran down
the Rue Notre Dame de Lorette, so that Plantat had great
difficulty in keeping up with him; and as he went along he pursued
his train of reflection, half aloud, so that his companion caught
here and there a snatch of it.
"All goes well," he muttered, "and we shall succeed. It's seldom
that a campaign which commences so well ends badly. If Job is at
the wine merchant's, and if one of my men has succeeded in his
search, the crime of Valfeuillu is solved, and in a week people
will have forgotten it."
He stopped short on reaching the foot of the street opposite the
"I must ask you to pardon me," said he to the old justice, "for
hurrying you on so and making you one of my trade; but your
assistance might have been very useful at Madame Charman's, and
will be indispensable when we get fairly on Tremorel's track."
They went across the square and into the wine shop at the corner of
the Rue des Martyrs. Its keeper was standing behind his counter
turning wine out of a large jug into some litres, and did not seem
much astonished at seeing his new visitors. M. Lecoq was quite at
home (as he was everywhere), and spoke to the man with an air of
"Aren't there six or eight men waiting for somebody here?" he asked.
"Yes, they came about an hour ago."
"Are they in the big back room?"
"Just so, Monsieur," responded the wine merchant, obsequiously.
He didn't exactly know who was talking to him, but he suspected him
to be some superior officer from the prefecture; and he was not
surprised to see that this distinguished personage knew the ins and
outs of his house. He opened the door of the room referred to
without hesitation. Ten men in various guises were drinking there
and playing cards. On M. Lecoq's entrance with M. Plantat, they
respectfully got up and took off their hats.
"Good for you, Job," said M. Lecoq to him who seemed to be their
chief, "you are prompt, and it pleases me. Your ten men will be
quite enough, for I shall have the three besides whom I sent out
M. Job bowed, happy at having pleased a master who was not very
prodigal in his praises.
"I want you to wait here a while longer," resumed M. Lecoq, "for my
orders will depend on a report which I am expecting." He turned to
the men whom he had sent out among the upholsterers:
"Which of you was successful?"
"I, Monsieur," replied a big white-faced fellow, with insignificant
"What, you again, Palot? really, my lad, you are lucky. Step into
this side room - first, though, order a bottle of wine, and ask the
proprietor to see to it that we are not disturbed."
These orders were soon executed, and M. Plantat being duly ensconced
with them in the little room, the detective turned the key.
"Speak up now," said he to Palot, "and be brief."
"I showed the photograph to at least a dozen upholsterers without
any result; but at last a merchant in the Faubourg St. Germain,
named Rech, recognized it."
"Tell me just what he said, if you can."
"He told me that it was the portrait of one of his customers. A
month ago this customer came to him to buy a complete set of
furniture - drawing-room, dining-room, bed-room, and the rest - for
a little house which he had just rented. He did not beat him down
at all, and only made one condition to the purchase, and that was,
that everything should be ready and in place, and the curtains and
carpets put in, within three weeks from that time; that is a week
ago last Monday."
"And what was the sum-total of the purchase?"
"Eighteen thousand francs, half paid down in advance, and half on
the day of delivery."
"And who carried the last half of the money to the upholsterer?"
"What name did this customer give?"
"He called himself Monsieur James Wilson; but Monsieur Rech said
he did not seem like an English-man."
"Where does he live?"
"The furniture was carried to a small house, No. 34 Rue St. Lazare,
near the Havre station."
M. Lecoq.'s face, which had up to that moment worn an anxious
expression, beamed with joy. He felt the natural pride of a
captain who has succeeded in his plans for the enemy's destruction.
He tapped the old justice of the peace familiarly on the shoulder,
and pronounced a single word:
Palot shook his head.
"It isn't certain," said he.
"You may imagine, Monsieur Lecoq, that when I got the address,
having some time on my hands, I went to reconnoitre the house."
"The tenant'sname is really Wilson, but it's not the man of the
photograph, I'm certain."
M. Plantat gave a groan of disappointment, but M. Lecoq was not so
"Hpw did you find out?"
"I pumped one of the servants."
"Confound you!" cried M. Plantat. "Perhaps you roused suspicions."
"Oh, no," answered M. Lecoq. "I'll answer for him. Palot is a
pupil of Mme. Explain yourself, Palot."
"Recognizing the house - an elegant affair it is, too - I said to
myself: 'I' faith, here's the cage; let's see if the bird is in
it.' I luckily happened to have a napoleon in my pocket; and I
slipped it without hesitation into the drain which led from the
house to the street-gutter."
"Then you rang?"
"Exactly. The porter - there is a porter - opened the door, and
with my most vexed air I told him how, in pulling out my
handkerchief, I had dropped a twenty-franc piece in the drain, and
begged him to lend me something to try to get it out. He lent me
a poker and took another himself, and we got the money out with no
difficulty; I began to jump about as if I were delighted, and begged
him to let me treat him to a glass of wine."
"Oh, Monsieur Lecoq, it is one of your tricks, you know. My porter
accepted my invitation, and we soon got to be the best friends in
the world over some wine in a shop just across the street from the
house. We were having a jolly talk together when, all of a sudden,
I leaned over as if I had just espied something on the floor, and
picked up - the photograph, which I had dropped and soiled a little
with my foot. 'What,' cried I, 'a portrait?' My new friend took
it, looked at it, and didn't seem to recognize it. Then, to be
certain, I said, 'He's a very good-looking fellow, ain't he now?
Your master must be some such a man.' But he said no, that the
photograph was of a man who was bearded, while his master was as
clean-faced as an abbe. 'Besides,' he added, 'my master is an
American; he gives us our orders in French, but Madame and he always
talk English together.'"
M. Lecoq's eye glistened as Palot proceeded.
"Tremorel speaks English, doesn't he?" asked he of M. Plantat.
"Quite well; and Laurence too."
"If that is so, we are on the right track, for we know that Tremorel
shaved his beard off on the night of the murder. We can go on - "
Palot meanwhile seemed a little uneasy at not receiving the praise
"My lad," said M. Lecoq, turning to him, "I think you have done
admirably, and a good reward shall prove it to you. Being ignorant
of what we know, your conclusions were perfectly right. But let's
go to the house at once; have you got a plan of the ground-floor?"
"Yes, and also of the first floor above. The porter was not dumb,
and so he gave me a good deal of information about his master and
mistress, though he has only been there two days. The lady is
dreadfully melancholy, and cries all the time."
"We know it; the plan - "
"Below, there is a large and high paved arch for the carriages to
pass through; on the other side is a good-sized courtyard, at the
end of which are the stable and carriage-house. The porter's lodge
is on the left of the arch; on the right a glass door opens on a
staircase with six steps, which conducts to a vestibule into which
the drawing-room, dining-room, and two other little rooms open.
The chambers are on the first floor, a study, a - "
"Enough," M. Lecoq said, "my plan is made."
And rising abruptly, he opened the door, and followed by M. Plantat
and Palot, went into the large room. All the men rose at his
approach as before.
"Monsieur Job," said the detective, "listen attentively to what I
have to say. As soon as I am gone, pay up what you owe here, and
then, as I must have you all within reach, go and install yourselves
in the first wine-shop on the right as you go up the Rue d'Amsterdam.
Take your dinner there, for you will have time - but soberly, you
He took two napoleons out of his pocket and placed them on the
"That's for the dinner."
M. Lecoq and the old justice went into the street, followed closely
by Palot. The detective was anxious above all to see for himself
the house inhabited by Tremorel. He saw at a glance that the
interior must be as Palot had described.
"That's it, undoubtedly," said he to M. Plantat; "we've got the
game in our hands. Our chances at this moment are ninety to ten."
"What are you going to do?" asked the justice, whose emotion
increased as the decisive moment approached.
"Nothing, just yet, I must wait for night before I act. As it is
two hours yet before dark, let's imitate my men; I know a restaurant
just by here where you can dine capitally; we'll patronize it."
And without awaiting a reply, he led M. Plantat to a restaurant in
the Passage du Havre. But at the moment he was about to open the
door, he stopped and made a signal. Palot immediately appeared.
"I give you two hours to get yourself up so that the porter won't
recognize you, and to have some dinner. You are an upholsterer's
apprentice. Now clear out; I shall wait for you here."
M. Lecoq was right when he said that a capital dinner was to be
had in the Passage du Havre; unfortunately M. Plantat was not in a
state to appreciate it. As in the morning, he found it difficult
to swallow anything, he was so anxious and depressed. He longed to
know the detective's plans; but M. Lecoq remained impenetrable,
answering all inquiries with:
"Let me act, and trust me.
M. Plantat's confidence was indeed very great; but the more he
reflected, the more perilous and difficult seemed the attempt to
save Tremorel from a trial. The most poignant doubts troubled and
tortured his mind. His own life was at stake; for he had sworn to
himself that he would not survive the ruin of Laurence in being
forced to confess in full court her dishonor and her love for
M. Lecoq tried hard to make his companion eat something, to take at
least some soup and a glass of old Bordeaux; but he soon saw the
uselessness of his efforts and went on with his dinner as if he
were alone. He was very thoughtful, but any uncertainty of the
result of his plans never entered his head. He drank much and
often, and soon emptied his bottle of Leoville. Night having now
come on the waiters began to light the chandeliers, and the two
friends found themselves almost alone.
"Isn't it time to begin?" asked the old justice, timidly.
"We have still nearly an hour," replied M. Lecoq, consulting his
watch; "but I shall make my preparations now."
He called a waiter, and ordered a cup of coffee and writing
"You see," said he, while they were waiting to be served, "we must
try to get at Laurence without Tremorel's knowing it. We must have
a ten minutes' talk with her alone, and in the house. That is a
condition absolutely necessary to our success."
M. Plantat had evidently been expecting some immediate and decisive
action, for M. Lecoq's remark filled him with alarm.
"If that's so," said he mournfully, " it's all over with our
"Because Tremorel will not leave Laurence by herself for a moment."
"Then I'll try to entice him out."
"And you, you who are usually so clear-sighted, really think that
he will let himself be taken in by a trick! You don't consider his
situation at this moment. He must be a prey to boundless terrors.
We know that Sauvresy's declaration will not be found, but he does
not; he thinks that perhaps it has been found, that suspicions have
been aroused, and that he is already being searched for and pursued
by the police."
"I've considered all that," responded M. Lecoq with a triumphant
smile, "and many other things besides. Well, it isn't easy to
decoy Tremorel out of the house. I've been cudgelling my brain
about it a good deal, and have found a way at last. The idea
occurred to me just as we were coming in here. The Count de Tremorel,
in an hour from now, will be in the Faubourg St. Germain. It's true
it will cost me a forgery, but you will forgive me under the
circumstances. Besides, he who seeks the end must use the means."
He took up a pen, and as he smoked his cigar, rapidly wrote the
"Four of the thousand-franc notes which you paid me are
counterfeits; I have just found it out by sending them to my
banker's. If you are not here to explain the matter before ten
o'clock, I shall be obliged to put in a complaint this evening
before the procureur.
"Now," said M. Lecoq, passing the letter to his companion. "Do you
The old justice read itat a glance and could not repress a joyful
exclamation, which caused the waiters to turn around and stare at
Yes," said he, "this letter will catch him; it'll frighten him out
of all his other terrors. He will say to himself that he might
have slipped some counterfeit notes among those paid to the
upholsterer, that a complaint against him will provoke an inquiry,
and that he will have to prove that he is really Monsieur Wilson
or he is lost."
"So you think he'll come out?"
"I'm sure of it, unless he has become a fool."
"I tell you we shall succeed then, for this is the only serious
obstacle - "
He suddenly interrupted himself. The restaurant door opened ajar,
and a man passed his head in and withdrew it immediately.
"That's my man," said M. Lecoq, calling the waiter to pay for the
dinner, "he is waiting for us in the passage; let us go."
A young man dressed like a journeyman upholsterer was standing in
the passage looking in at the shop-windows. He had long brown
locks, and his mustache and eyebrows were coal-black. M. Plantat
certainly did not recognize him as Palot, but M. Lecoq did, and
even seemed dissatisfied with his get-up.
"Bad," growled he, "pitiable. Do you think it is enough, in order
to disguise yourself, to change the color of your beard? Look in
that glass, and tell me if the expression of your face is not just
what it was before? Aren't your eye and smile the same? Then your
cap is too much on one side, it is not natural; and your hand is
put in your pocket awkwardly."
"I'll try to do better another time, Monsieur Lecoq," Palot
"I hope so; but I guess your porter won't recognize you to-night,
and that is all we want."
"And now what must I do?"
"I'll give you your orders; and be very careful not to blunder.
First, hire a carriage, with a good horse; then go to the wine-shop
for one of our men, who will accompany you to Monsieur Wilson's
house. When you get there ring, enter alone and give the porter
this letter, saying that it is of the utmost importance. This
done, put yourself with your companion in ambuscade before the house.
If Monsieur Wilson goes out - and he will go out or I am not Lecoq
- send your comrade to me at once. As for you, you will follow
Monsieur Wilson and not lose sight of him. He will take a carriage,
and you will follow him with yours, getting up on the hackman's
seat and keeping a lookout from there. Have your eyes open, for he
is a rascal who may feel inclined to jump out of his cab and leave
you in pursuit of an empty vehicle."
"Yes, and the moment I am informed - "
"Silence, please, when I am speaking. He will probably go to the
upholsterer's in the Rue des Saints-Peres, but I may be mistaken.
He may order himself to be carried to one of the railway stations,
and may take the first train which leaves. In this case, you must
get into the same railway carriage that he does, and follow him
everywhere he goes; and be sure and send me a despatch as soon
as you can."
"Very well, Monsieur Lecoq; only if I have to take a train - "
"What, haven't you any money?"
"Well - no, my chief."
"Then take this five-hundred-franc note; that's more than is
necessary to make the tour of the world. Do you comprehend
"I beg your pardon - what shall I do if Monsieur Wilson simply
returns to his house?"
"In that case I will finish with him. If he returns, you will come
back with him, and the moment his cab stops before the house give
two loud whistles, you know. Then wait for me in the street, taking
care to retain your cab, which you will lend to Monsieur Plantat if
he needs it."
"All right," said Palot, who hastened off without more ado.
M. Plantat and the detective, left alone, began to walk up and down
the gallery; both were grave and silent, as men are at a decisive
moment; there is no chatting about a gaming-table. M. Lecoq
suddenly started; he had just seen his agent at the end of the
gallery. His impatience was so great that he ran toward him,
"Monsieur, the game has flown, and Palot after him!"
"On foot or in a cab?"
"In a cab."
"Enough. Return to your comrades, and tell them to hold themselves
Everything was going as Lecoq wished, and he grasped the old
justice's hand, when he was struck by the alteration in his features.
"What, are you ill?" asked he, anxiously.
"No, but I am fifty-five years old, Monsieur Lecoq, and at that age
there are emotions which kill one. Look, I am trembling at the
moment when I see my wishes being realized, and I feel as if a
disappointment would be the death of me. I'm afraid, yes, I'm
afraid. Ah, why can't I dispense with following you?"
"But your presence is indispensable; without your help I can do
"What could I do?"
"Save Laurence, Monsieur Plantat."
This name restored a part of his courage.
"If that is so - " said he. He began to walk firmly toward the
street, but M. Lecoq stopped him.
"Not yet," said the detective, "not yet; the battle now depends on
the precision of our movements. A single fault miserably upsets
all my combinations, and then I shall be forced to arrest and
deliver up the criminal. We must have a ten minutes' interview
with Mademoiselle Laurence, but not much more, and it is
absolutely necessary that this interview should be suddenly
interrupted by Tremorel's return. Let's make our calculations.
It will take the rascal half an hour to go to the Rue des
Saints-Peres, where he will find nobody; as long to get back; let
us throw in fifteen minutes as a margin; in all, an hour and a
quarter. There are forty minutes left us."
M. Plantat did not reply, but his companion said that he could not
stay so long on his feet after the fatigues of the day, agitated
as he was, and having eaten nothing since the evening before. He
ed him into a neighboring cafe, and forced him to eat a biscuit and
drink a glass of wine. Then seeing that conversation would be
annoying to the unhappy old man, he took up an evening paper and
soon seemed to be absorbed in the latest news from Germany. The
old justice, his head leaning on the back of his chair and his eyes
wandering over the ceiling, passed in mental review the events of
the past four years. It seemed to him but yesterday that Laurence,
still a child, ran up his garden-path and picked his roses and
honeysuckles. How pretty she was, and how divine were her great
eyes! Then, as it seemed, between dusk and dawn, as a rose blooms
on a June night, the pretty child had become a sweet and radiant
young girl. She was timid and reserved with all but him - was he
not her old friend, the confidant of all her little griefs and her
innocent hopes? How frank and pure she was then; what a heavenly
ignorance of evil!
Nine o'clock struck; M. Lecoq laid down his paper.
"Let us go," said he.
M. Plantat followed him with a firmer step, and they soon reached
M. Wilson's house, accompanied by Job and his men.
"You men," said M. Lecoq, "wait till I call before you go in; I
will leave the door ajar."
He rang; the door swung open; and M. Plantat and the detective went
in under the arch. The porter was on the threshold of his lodge.
"Monsieur Wilson?" asked M. Lecoq.
"He is out."
"I will speak to Madame, then."
"She is also out."
"Very well. Only, as I must positively speak with Madame Wilson,
I'm going upstairs."
The porter seemed about to resist him by force; but, as Lecoq now
called in his men, he thought better of it and kept quiet.
M. Lecoq posted six of his men in the court, in such a position
that they could be easily seen from the windows on the first floor,
and instructed the others to place themselves on the opposite
sidewalk, telling them to look ostentatiously at the house. These
measures taken, he returned to the porter.
"Attend to me, my man. When your master, who has gone out, comes
in again, beware that you don't tell him that we are upstairs; a
single word would get you into terribly hot water - "
"I am blind," he answered, "and deaf."
"How many servants are there in the house?"
"Three; but they have all gone out."
The detective then took M. Plantat by the arm, and holding him
"You see, my dear friend," said he, "the game is ours. Come along
- and in Laurence's name, have courage!"
All M. Lecoq's anticipations were realized. Laurence was not dead,
and her letter to her parents was an odious trick. It was really
she who lived in the house as Mme. Wilson. How had the lovely
young girl, so much beloved by the old justice, come to such a
dreadful extremity? The logic of life, alas, fatally enchains all
our determinations to each other. Often an indifferent action,
little wrongful in itself, is the beginning of an atrocious crime.
Each of our new resolutions depends upon those which have preceded
it, and is their logical sequence just as the sum-total is the
product of the added figures. Woe to him who, being seized with a
dizziness at the brink of the abyss, does not fly as fast as
possible, without turning his head; for soon, yielding to an
irresistible attraction, he approaches, braves the danger, slips,
and is lost. Whatever thereafter he does or attempts he will roll
down the faster, until he reaches the very bottom of the gulf.
Tremorel had by no means the implacable character of an assassin;
he was only feeble and cowardly; yet he had committed abominable
crimes. All his guilt came from the first feeling of envy with
which he regarded Sauvresy, and which he had not taken the pains
to subdue. Laurence, when, on the day that she became enamoured
of Tremorel, she permitted him to press her hand, and kept it from
her mother, was lost. The hand-pressure led to the pretence of
suicide in order to fly with her lover. It might also lead to
Poor Laurence, when she was left alone by Hector's departure to the
Faubourg St. Germain, on receiving M. Lecoq's letter, began to
reflect upon the events of the past year. How unlooked-for and
rapidly succeeding they had been! It seemed to her that she had
been whirled along in a tempest, without a second to think or act
freely. She asked herself if she were not a prey to some hideous
nightmare, and if she should not presently awake in her pretty
maidenly chamber at Orcival. Was it really she who was there in
a strange house, dead to everyone, leaving behind a withered memory,
reduced to live under a false name, without family or friends
henceforth, or anyone in the world to help her feebleness, at the
mercy of a fugitive like herself, who was free to break to-morrow
the bonds of caprice which to-day bound him to her? Was it she,
too, who was about to become a mother, and found herself suffering
from the excessive misery of blushing for that maternity which is
the pride of pure young wives? A thousand memories of her past
life flocked through her brain and cruelly revived her despair.
Her heart sank as she thought of her old friendships, of her mother,
her sister, the pride of her innocence, and the pure joys of the
As she half reclined on a divan in Hector's library, she wept
freely. She bewailed her life, broken at twenty, her lost youth,
her vanished, once radiant hopes, the world's esteem, and her own
self-respect, which she should never recover.
Of a sudden the door was abruptly opened.
Laurence thought it was Hector returned, and she hastily rose,
passing her handkerchief across her face to try to conceal her
A man whom she did not know stood upon the threshold, respectfully
bowing. She was afraid, for Tremorel had said to her many times
within the past two days, "We are pursued; let us hide well ;" and
though it seemed to her that she had nothing to fear, she trembled
without knowing why.
"Who are you?" she asked, haughtily, "and who has admitted you here?
What do you want?"
M. Lecoq left nothing to chance or inspiration; he foresaw
everything, and regulated affairs in real life as he would the
scenes in a theatre. He expected this very natural indignation and
these questions, and was prepared for them. The only reply he made
was to step one side, thus revealing M. Plantat behind him.
Laurence was so much overcome on recognizing her old friend, that,
in spite of her resolution, she came near falling.
"You!" she stammered; "you!"
The old justice was, if possible, more agitated than Laurence. Was
that really his Laurence there before him? Grief had done its work
so well that she seemed old.
"Why did you seek for me?" she resumed. "Why add another grief to
my life? Ah, I told Hector that the letter he dictated to me would
not be believed. There are misfortunes for which death is the only
M. Plantat was about to reply, but Lecoq was determined to take the
lead in the interview.
"It is not you, Madame, that we seek," said he, "but Monsieur de
"Hector! And why, if you please? Is he not free?"
M. Lecoq hesitated before shocking the poor girl, who had been but
too credulous in trusting to a scoundrel's oaths of fidelity. But
he thought that the cruel truth is less harrowing than the suspense
"Monsieur de Tremorel," he answered, "has committed a great crime."
"He! You lie, sir."
The detective sorrowfully shook his head.
"Unhappily I have told you the truth. Monsieur de Tremorel murdered
his wife on Wednesday night. I am a detective and I have a warrant
to arrest him."
He thought this terrible charge would overwhelm Laurence; he was
mistaken. She was thunderstruck, but she stood firm. The crime
horrified her, but it did not seem to her entirely improbable,
knowing as she did the hatred with which Hector was inspired by
Well, perhaps he did," cried she, sublime in her energy and despair;
"I am his accomplice, then - arrest me."
This cry, which seemed to proceed from the most senseless passion,
amazed the old justice, but did not surprise M. Lecoq.
"No, Madame," he resumed, "you are not this man's accomplice.
Besides, the murder of his wife is the least of his crimes. Do you
know why he did not marry you? Because in concert with Bertha, he
poisoned Monsieur Sauvresy, who saved his life and was his best
friend. We have the proof of it."
This was more than poor Laurence could bear; she staggered and fell
upon a sofa. But she did not doubt the truth of what M. Lecoq said.
This terrible revelation tore away the veil which, till then, had
hidden the past from her. The poisoning of Sauvresy explained all
Hector's conduct, his position, his fears, his promises, his lies,
his hate, his recklessness, his marriage, his flight. Still she
tried not to defend him, but to share the odium of his crimes.
"I knew it," she stammered, in a voice broken by sobs, "I knew it
The old justice was in despair.
"How you love him, poor child!" murmured he.
This mournful exclamation restored to Laurence all her energy; she
made an effort and rose, her eyes glittering with indignation:
"I love him!" cried she. "I! Ah, I can explain my conduct to you,
my old friend, for you are worthy of hearing it. Yes, I did love
him, it is true - loved him to the forgetfulness of duty, to
self-abandonment. But one day he showed himself to me as he was;
I judged him, and my love did not survive my contempt. I was
ignorant of Sauvresy's horrible death. Hector confessed to me that
his life and honor were in Bertha's hands - and that she loved him.
I left him free to abandon me, to marry, thus sacrificing more than
my life to what I thought was his happiness; yet I was not deceived.
When I fled with him I once more sacrificed myself, when I saw that
it was impossible to conceal my shame. I wanted to die. I lived,
and wrote an infamous letter to my mother, and yielded to Hector's
prayers, because he pleaded with me in the name of my - of our
M. Lecoq, impatient at the loss of time, tried to say something;
but Laurence would not listen to him.
"But what matter?" she continued. "I loved him, followed him, and
am his: Constancy at all hazards is the only excuse for a fault like
mine. I will do my duty. I cannot be innocent when Hector has
committed a crime; I desire to suffer half the punishment."
She spoke with such remarkable animation that the detective
despaired of calming her, when two whistles in the street struck
his ear. Tremorel was returning and there was not a moment to be
lost. He suddenly seized Laurence by the arm.
"You will tell all this to the judges, Madame," said he, sternly.
"My orders are only for M. de Tremorel. Here is the warrant to
He took out the warrant and laid it upon the table. Laurence, by
the force of her will, had become almost calm.
"You will let me speak five minutes with the Count de Tremorel,
will you not?" she asked.
M. Lecoq was delighted; he had looked for this request, and
"Five minutes? Yes," he replied. "But abandon all hope, Madame,
of saving the prisoner; the house is watched; if you look in the
court and in the street you will see my men in ambuscade. Besides,
I am going to stay here in the next room."
The count was heard ascending the stairs.
"There's Hector!" cried Laurence, "quick, quick! conceal yourselves!"
She added, as they were retiring, in a low tone, but not so low as
to prevent the detective from hearing her:
"Be sure, we will not try to escape."
She let the door-curtain drop; it was time. Hector entered. He
was paler than death, and his eyes had a fearful, wandering
"We are lost!" said he, "they are pursuing us. See, this letter
which I received just now is not from the man whose signature it
professes to bear; he told me so himself. Come, let us go, let
us leave this house - "
Laurence overwhelmed him with a look full of hate and contempt,
"It is too late."
Her countenance and voice were so strange that Tremorel, despite
his distress, was struck by it, and asked:
"What is the matter?"
"Everything is known; it is known that you killed your wife."
She shrugged her shoulders.
"Well, then, it is true," he added, "for I loved you so - "
"Really! And it was for love of me that you poisoned Sauvresy?"
He saw that he was discovered, that he bad been caught in a trap,
that they had come, in his absence, and told Laurence all. He did
not attempt to deny anything.
"What shall I do?" cried he, "what shall I do?"
Laurence drew him to her, and muttered in a shuddering voice:
"Save the name of Tremorel; there are pistols here."
He recoiled, as if he had seen death itself.
"No," said he. "I can yet fly and conceal myself; I will go alone,
and you can rejoin me afterward."
"I have already told you that it is too late. The police have
surrounded the house. And - you know - it is the galleys, or - the
"I can get away by the courtyard."
"It is guarded; look."
He ran to the window, saw M. Lecoq's men, and returned half mad
and hideous with terror.
"I can at least try," said he, "by disguising myself - "
"Fool! A detective is in there, and it was he who left that
warrant to arrest you on the table."
He saw that he was lost beyond hope.
"Must I die, then?" he muttered.
"Yes, you must; but before you die write a confession of your
crimes, for the innocent may be suspected - "
He sat down mechanically, took the pen which Laurence held out to
him, and wrote:
"Being about to appear before God, I declare that I alone, and
without accomplices, poisoned Sauvresy and murdered the Countess
de Tremorel, my wife."
When he had signed and dated this, Laurence opened a bureau drawer;
Hector seized one of the brace of pistols which were lying in it,
and she took the other. But Tremorel, as before at the hotel, and
then in the dying Sauvresy's chamber, felt his heart fail him as he
placed the pistol against his forehead. He was livid, his teeth
chattered, and he trembled so violently that he let the pistol drop.
"Laurence, my love," he stammered, "what will - become of you?"
"Me! I have sworn that I will follow you always and everywhere.
Do you understand?"
"Ah, 'tis horrible!" said he. "It was not I who poisoned Sauvresy
- it was she - there are proofs of it; perhaps, with a good
advocate - "
M. Lecoq did not lose a word or a gesture of this tragical scene.
Either purposely or by accident, he pushed the door-curtain, which
made a slight noise.
Laurence thought the door was being opened, that the detective was
returning, and that Hector would fall alive into their hands.
"Miserable coward!" she cried, pointing her pistol at him, "shoot,
or else - "
He hesitated; there was another rustle at the door; she fired.
Tremorel fell dead.
Laurence, with a rapid movement, took up the other pistol, and was
turning it against herself, when M. Lecoq sprung upon her and tore
the weapon from her grasp.
"Unhappy girl!" cried he, "what would you do?"
"Die. Can I live now?"
"Yes, you can live," responded M. Lecoq. "And more, you ought to
"I am a lost woman - "
"No, you are a poor: child lured away by a wretch. You say you are
very guilty; perhaps so; live to repent of it. Great sorrows like
yours have their missions in this world, one of devotion and
charity. Live, and the good you do will attach you once more to
life. You have yielded to the deceitful promises of a villain
remember, when you are rich, that there are poor innocent girls
forced to lead a life of miserable shame for a morsel of bread.
Go to these unhappy creatures, rescue them from debauchery, and
their honor will be yours."
M. Lecoq narrowly watched Laurence as he spoke, and perceived that
he had touched her. Still, her eyes were dry, and were lit up with
a strange light.
"Besides, your life is not your own - you know."
"Ah," she returned, "I must die now, even for my child, if I would
not die of shame when he asks for his father - "
"You will reply, Madame, by showing him an honest man and an old
friend, who is ready to give him his name - Monsieur Plantat."
The old justice was broken with grief; yet he had the strength to
"Laurence, my beloved child, I beg you accept me - "
These simple words, pronounced with infinite gentleness and
sweetness, at last melted the unhappy young girl, and determined
her. She burst into tears.
She was saved.
M. Lecoq hastened to throw a shawl which he saw on a chair about
her shoulders, and passed her arm through M. Plantat's, saying to
"Go, lead her away; my men have orders to let you pass, and Palot
will lend you his carriage."
"But where shall we go?"
"To Orcival; Monsieur Courtois has been informed by a letter from
me that his daughter is living, and he is expecting her. Come,
lose no time."
M. Lecoq, when he was left alone, listened to the departure of the
carriage which took M. Plantat and Laurence away; then he returned
to Tremorel's body.
"There," said he to himself, "lies a wretch whom I have killed
instead of arresting and delivering him up to justice. Have I done
my duty? No; but my conscience will not reproach me, because I have
And running to the staircase, he called his men.
The day after Tremorel's death, old Bertaud and Guespin were set at
liberty, and received, the former four thousand francs to buy a boat
and new tackle, and the latter ten thousand francs, with a promise
of a like sum at the end of the year, if he would go and live in
his own province. Fifteen days later, to the great surprise of the
Orcival gossips, who had never learned the details of these events,
M. Plantat wedded Mlle. Laurence Courtois; and the groom and bride
departed that very evening for Italy, where it was announced they
would linger at least a year.
As for Papa Courtois, he has offered his beautiful domain at Orcival
for sale; he proposes to settle in the middle of France, and is on
the lookout for a commune in need of a good mayor.
M. Lecoq, like everybody else, would, doubtless, have forgotten the
Valfeuillu affair, had it not been that a notary called on him
personally the other morning with a very gracious letter from
Laurence, and an enormous sheet of stamped paper. This was no
other than a title deed to M. Plantat's pretty estate at Orcival,
"with furniture, stable, carriage-house, garden, and other
dependencies and appurtenances thereunto belonging," and some
neighboring acres of pleasant fields.
"Prodigious!" cried M. Lecoq. "I didn't help ingrates, after all!
I am willing to become a landed proprietor, just for the rarity of
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