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the answers which he gave to them ; yet, it is very necessary the reader should be made acquainted with their general result, and I shall, therefore, in as few words as the subject permits, attempt to put him in possession of it.
Devion was a poor woman, who, about twelve or fourteen months previous to the present epoch, had left her own country, and come to Paris, for the purpose of seeking that maintenance which she could not obtain at home. Martin having, after she had resided some months at Paris, by some accident become acquainted with her, an intimacy had grown up between them; and he, knowing her skill in writing, counselled her to address the Count of Artois, who, being of the same province as she, would probably either himself give her employment, or recommend her where she might procure it.
Her application to the Count had been successful; he had questioned her upon her capacity in her art, and being satisfied on that point, given her some papers, which he was desirous of having written in a better and more clerkly hand than his secretaries could do.
During the first periods of her being thus occupied, Martin much frequented her society,when she used often to converse with him respecting the employment which the Count of Artois had given her, and to show him the papers she had copied. It was in the course of one of these conversations she happened to say, that not only she could write a fair legible hand, but that she also possessed the act of copying the writings of others so correctly, as to make it extremely difficult for any one, in comparing them together, to decide which was the original, and which the counterfeit.
Martin declared, that when Devion first named this, her power of imitation, he did not give much heed to it, but that after events had recalled it to his mind. “ It was between three and four months ago," he continued, “ that he perceived a marked change in her manner towards him; for, instead of then conversing familiarly with him, as formerly, upon her occupations, and treating him as one to whom she owed her advancement to the Count of Artois' confidence, she not only evinced an extreme jealousy of all questions put by him, but evidently avoided his society as much as possible.”
He had felt hurt and offended at this falling off and reluctance on her part to associate with one to whom she, in fact, owed her good fortune ; but had considered it in no other point of view than that of ingratitude; and imagined that she, being now retained as one of the Count's household, had grown too proud to associate with an old acquaintance, whose fortunes permitted him not to make so fair a figure in the world as she herself did. Not choosing, therefore, to court the society of one who seemed to be ashamed of his, he had gradually dropped the acquaintance.
At this time, also, she had a private chamber assigned her in the palace; this was situated at a great distance from the other apartments, and she used often to retire to it alone; and when occupied in writing, always fastened the door in suchwise as to secure her from any sudden intrusion. He remembered having once called there on business; and when, after much delay, she at length let him in, her countenance betrayed evident marks of confusion.— The table was covered with papers, which she seemed not to have had sufficient time to put away.
It was about a fortnight or three weeks gone by, that hearing of the business relative to the Count of Artois' heben chest and its contents, the fact she had once mentioned- of her being able to counterfeit writing, -occurred to him. He did not at first give it all the importance which he since believed it to deserve; and, indeed, had Aung it aside, and thought little about it; but when the matter came to be bruited abroad, and it was in every body's mouth, that the Count of Artois had founded a claim to the province of that name, upon signatures, suspected of being forged; connecting her assertion with the circumstance of her being so often closeted alone, he had thought it probable that she might have falsified the writings in question.
Under this impression, and with that natural desire we all have of solving mystery, he had once gone to her, in order, if possible, to discover if she had really forged the signatures. He began by conversing with her on the footing of an old acquaintance, and talking about the
general occurrences which had happened since they last met; but suddenly changing the current of his conversation, he attempted, by a direct question, to entrap her into an acknowledgment of the fact he wished to know.
In this endeavour he had been partly successful; for although she had denied having had any thing to do with writing the papers, or any knowledge of them, and had even expressed resentment at being suspected of such an action, she had nevertheless shown such evident marks of confusion, both in countenance and manner, as to leave no doubt upon his mind of her guilt.
Unsatisfied with this mental conviction, and desirous of receiving a formal avowal from herself, he had lately again gone to her chamber, and pressed her hard with questions : but to no purpose. He had also laid before her the advantages she might expect to reap, by boldly coming forth, and avowing herself to have been employed by the Count of Artois to forge the signatures. He told her she might reasonably expect that Count Otho, out of gratitude to her for making evident the falseness of Robert's claim, would overwhelm her with riches.