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where she expected so different an image.
She fled from this spectre as if she had seen the Evil One incarnate. Flying wildly through the passages and chambers of the deserted house, she found herself on a sudden in an apartment furnished like an office, with shelves, desks, &c., and here Blasse
was sitting among a pile of papers. He started on seeing her, and she exclaimed
“ Monsieur Le Prun has seen mehe will be here in a moment."
“ Here!- where is he?"
“ He saw me in the window, and spoke to me with furious irony from the street. For God's sake, hide me. I feel that he will kill me."
“ Hum!_s0. Gad, he will be here in a moment. I must meet him boldly -I have nothing for it but impudence. A few fibs, and, if the worst should come, my sword. But don't be frightened, madame, he shan't hurt you."
Blassemare proceeded to the court, awaiting the advent of his incensed patron.
XVI. THE WOMAN IN FLANNEL.
We must now, with the reader's “No, my good friend, no," answerleave, follow Gabriel to Paris, where ed the marquis, hesitating and surhe arrived fully three hours later than prised; “I do not recollect you.” the fugitive cortege. He wandered “Don't you recollect the park of for more than an hour among the Charrebourg, monsieur, and the boy streets, in the hope of catching a who sometimes carried your game, glimpse of the coach with the blue Gabriel, who was so frequently your panels, and the golden cupids and attendant?" dragons so curiously interlaced; but · Iley! by my faith so it is.” we need not say how vainly.
“ Well, but monsieur, I want to Worn out with fatigue, hungry and consult you about a lady who, I fear, cold—for the nights were now very
is in distress.” chill—and without a sou in his pocket,
“ Well, let us hear,” continued the poor Gabriel, having wandered for marquis, feeling in his pocket for his some hours among the streets of this
purse, and smiling. great city, now emptied of all but its “ It is Mademoiselle Lucille—that crime and destitution, at last found is, I mean, Madame Le Prun. You shelter for the night in an empty cask, have heard of her, perhaps ?” which had served probably as a dog- The marquis could not restrain a kennel, in an open workyard into start at the name; but affecting haste, which he strayed. In this he made he desired one of his servants to give his bed with a few armfuls of shavings, the boy a cloak, and directing him to and, spite of the cold, slept soundly roll himself up in it, and jump into till morning.
the carriage, he followed him thither, Had it not been for the charity of a amidst the wonder and jibes of the poor woman, who gave him a piece of crowd, and in a few minutes they were black bread, he might have starved. at the Hotel de Secqville. Refreshed, however, with this dainty, The marquis, having learned all he prosecuted his rambles. Among that Gabriel had to disclose, was other wonderful sights, he saw the utterly at fault as to what steps it was splendid equipages of many of the prudent for him to take. It was just nobility, drawn up in the street before possible that the removal of the lady the mansion of the minister, who was from the Chateau des Anges might be holding a levee. Fortune seemed to a measure of Monsieur Le Prun's. This have directed his steps thither, for he seemed to him more than probable, and saw a familiar face among the splendid the hypothesis prevented his having rethrong who glided in and out at the course to the minister of police. He, great man's portals.
This was however, lost not a moment in adoptother than the Marquis de Secqville, ing such measures as the resources of who was passing to his carriage. his wealth enabled him to command.
“Oh, pray, Monsieur Dubois, mon- In the course of the afternoon he had sieur, don't you know me?"
nearly a score of paid agents, excelSo cried poor Gabriel in his eager. lently qualified for the task, pushing ness, forcing himself to the front rank their sagacious inquiries in every of the crowd.
quarter, VOL. XXXVI.-N0. CCXVI.
He had promised to sup with some
could bave no doubt, the very car. of the officers of his regiment, in the riage which had conveyed away Luquartier de St. Thomas du Louvre, cille. Forgetting his nakedness, and and he had there appointed his emis- even his cold, in the astonishment of saries to meet him, having also directed this discovery, he awaited, with the Gabriel, whom he retained in his ser- intensest interest, the conclusion of an vice, to call for him there, with a adventure which promised to furnish flambeau, at twelve o'clock.
him with a clue to the present habitaGabriel was destined to another ad. tion of the concealed lady. venture in executing these directions, The carriage continued to drive at a simple as they were.
furious rate, and having passed the As he was on his way, he was sud. College des Quatre Nations, it took denly set upon, in a deserted spot at the line of the Pont Rouge (now perthe end of the Pont St. Michel, by fectly deserted), in the middle of which four robbers. He brandished his flam- it came to a full stop. beau, and shouted for help; but he Two gentlemen descended; they was instantly disarmed, and a sword looked up and down the bridge to asat his throat reduced him to silence. certain that all was quiet. One of Disappointed of money, they pro- them came so close that the plumed ceeded to undress him with a running fringe of his cocked hat almost touched accompaniment of threats and curses, Gabriel, who was cowering as close as and in a trice had left poor Gabriel possible to escape notice.
His surstanding in his shirt, while they made prise at their stopping at a place good their retreat.
where there was no house or dwellIt was bitter cold, and, what made ing of any sort was soon changed it worse still, rather windy; and after to horror, when he saw these gena few moments of hesitation, he began tlemen carry a corpse out of the car. to retrace his steps towards the Hotel riage, which, by its long hair, he perde Secqville at the top of his speed. ceived to be that of a female, and As ill luck would have it, however, project it over the battlements of the this course led him unconsciously upon bridge into the river. the track of the four brethren of the They then re-entered the carriage, road, who, convinced that he was which again turning toward the Louvre, dogging them, turned about, and, with retraced its way. Was that pale corse, awful menaces and drawn swords, re- with its long tresses, the murdered commenced the pursuit with the most body of the fair and beloved Lucille? murderous designs.
Were her assassins unconsciously hur. Of course Gabriel had nothing for rying through the dark in company with it but his fleetness of limb.
him? Torture, despair, vengeance ! as fast as he could toward the Quai At the same mad pace this carriage des Augustins. At that moment a drove through deserted streets, scarce coach was passing at a furious speed, encountering a human being-Gabriel and thinking of nothing but his safety, still clinging to his position, and exhe jumped nimbly up behind.
citing many a strange surmise, as, half He had distanced the thieves, and seen, he was whirled beside such stray the sound of pursuit was no longer passengers as were still abroad. heard. The wind often whirled his At length it turned abruptly—thun. shirt, his only covering, over his head, dered through a narrow archway into and he could not control its vagaries, a fore-court, and then through a second, for both his hands were engaged in into the dark quadrangle of the halfretaining his position; and, indeed, ruinous and vast hotel, to which we so numbing, was the cold, hardly conducted Lucille. sufficed for the purpose.
Gabriel jumped nimbly to the thing more undignified or uncomfort- ground, and, unperceived, glided into able be imagined ?
the shadow of the archway, intending His teeth were chattering, his hands to escape through the outer gate, and numb, his shirt sporting cruelly in the spread the alarm of murder. This blast, yet, spite of his misery, he did door was, however, already secured, not fail to observe, in the dull moon. and hearing steps, he glided along light, that the carriage was blue, and under the shadow until he reached decorated with gilded dragons and the open door of a stable, and climbcupids in relief. It was, in short, he ing to the loft, found some hay there,
in which, nearly dead with cold, he buried himself.
Let us now follow Monsieur le Prun, whom we left in a high state of malignant frenzy, approaching the entrance of the desolate building,
“ Ha!-Blassemare," he said, with a livid smile, the meaning of which was obvious, in reply to that gentleman's fearless salutation, ". made good speed from the south. How goes all at Lyons ? Come, come, the particulars ?
“I have not been there at all ; I altered my plans; not without just reason. I have removed Madame Le Prun here ; the fact is, I had reason to suspect a design to escape. It was nearly ripe ; the eclat of such a thing would have been scandalous. I disorganised the whole affair, and have placed her here under your own roof ; I had to use stratagem for the purpose, but I succeeded ; she is still safe-the plot has failed.”
“ More than one plot, perhaps, has failed, sir,” said Le Prun, with a look of lowering scrutiny; "I have exploded one myself. Let me see Madame Le Prun."
“ Do you wish to see her ?"
“ Certainly-conduct me to her at once.”
Blassemare, with a malicious smile and shrug, exclaimed
“ Well, monsieur, you shall be obeyed ; let us proceed to Madame Le Prun, by all means.”
He led the way: they ascended a staircase, Le Prun growing gloomier and gloomier at every step.
Smothering his malicious laughter, Blassemare glided past him, and opening a door exclaimed
“ Madame, a gentleman desires the honour of an interview; Monsieur Le Prun attends you."
Le Prun entered; a step was heard in a recess opening from the room, and
a form entered, before which he recoiled as from a malignant spectre.
“ Is it this one or the other ?" asked Blassemare, with much simplicity.
Le Prun did not hear him; he was astounded and overpowered in the presence of the phantom-like form that stood in its strange draperies of flannel at the other end of the chamber, eyeing him askance with a look of more than mortal hate.
" It is not fair to disturb such a meeting ; the domestic affections, eh ? had best be indulged in private."
So saying, Blassemare abruptly with. drew, and shut the door sharply upon the pair.
Roused by the sound, Le Prun at. tempted to follow him, but his agitation prevented his being able to open the door, and he cursed Blassemare from the bottom of his soul, in the belief that he had bolted it.
So, face to face at last," she said ; “ for years you have escaped me; for years your agents have persecuted and imprisoned me.
I heard of your courtship-aye, and your marriage, and rejoiced at it, for I knew it could bring you nothing but grief ; accursed monster, murderer of my sis. ter, attempted murderer of myself, seducer and betrayer of the girl you call
" I say, she is my wife,” stammered Le Prun, recovering his voice.
“ No, miscreant ! that she cannot be; well you know that I am your wife."
“ It is a lie ; I have that under your own hand; it is a lie, a lie."
“ And do you fancy that, because intimidated by a murderer, I signed the paper you speak of, the document has lost its force, and I ceased to be your wife? No, no; adulterer and poisoner that you are, I retain the right to blast you ; you shall yet taste retribution ; you shall perish by a bloody end."
Blassemare read in Le Prun's coun. tenance that there was an end of their connexion. He was, however, a man of resource, and whatever the loss involved in the severance, he was not dismayed. He made up his mind to quarrel with eclat, and sitting himself down upon the window-sill, laughed with a sardonic glee at the ren
contre he had just brought about. In a little while, however, he began to wonder at its length, and after a while he was startled by Le Prun's voice calling him by name, and at the same time by a furious knocking at the door.
“Hey !-why don't you come here if you want me ?” cried Blassemare.
“ I can't-you know, I can't-you As soon as he had a little recovered have locked the door."
the heat which was nearly extinguished, “ I've not-try it,” replied Blasse- he got up, and finding an old piece of mare, coolly.
drugget, he wrapped it about him in In a moment more Le Prun en- the fashion of a cloak; and having tered, trembling like a man in an looked in vain for any window opening ague, his face livid and covered with upon the street, he climbed, by the aid a cold sweat.
of the joists, to an aperture in the half“ That, that accursed fiend, she rotten roof, and passing through it, has—the murderess—she attempted my crept like a cat along, until he reached life—upon my soul she did.”
the spout, down which, at the risk of There was
some blood upon his his neck, he climbed. He was now hand, and more upon his lace cravat. safe in the public street. Picking up
“What do you mean?” said Blasse- a sharp stone, he scratched some mare, growing very pale. Why, marks, such as he could easily recogwhy, you have not, great God, you nise again, upon the gateway. He have not hurt the wretched woman,' then knocked at a barber's shop, nearly and he grasped him by the collar with opposite, where he saw a light, and a hand that trembled with mingled asked the name of the street, and his fury and horror.
route to the Hotel de Secqville. • It was she, I tell you_let me go- The marquis had arrived before it was she—she that tried—by —she him; and his amazement at the strange had a knife at my throat-I could not attire of his retainer was changed to help it-I'm ruined_help me, Blasse- horror, when he learned the particumare—for God's sake, help me- lars of his adventure. what-what is to be done ?”
Not a moment was lost by De SecqBlassemare gave him a look of con- ville in applying to the police, and with temptuous fury, turned from him, an officer and a party of archers, he and entered the chamber.
proceeded at once to the Hotel St. Le Prun stood like one stupified, Maurice—for such was the name of stammering excuses and oaths, and the nearly ruinous building we have trembling as if it were the day of described. There they arrested Monjudgment.
sieur Le Prun, who was just emergBlassemare re-entered, paler than ing from the gate as they arrived; before, and said_
as also Blassemare, whom they sur“ You cowardly, barbarous miscre- prised in his room. No definite susant, you will answer for it here and picion, beyond the conjectures of hereafter."
De Secqville, had as yet attached to “ Blassemare, my friend—my dear either of these gentlemen; but some friend—in the name of God, don't de- expressions which escaped Le Prun, nounce me. You would not ; no, you upon his arrest, were of a character to could not. I have been a good friend excite the profoundest suspicions of to you. For the love of God help his guilt. me, Blassemare—save me.
You shall Blassemare instantly tendered his have half my fortune; I'll stick at no evidence, and in the course of it was terms. I'll make you, by
forced to make disclosures very little richest man in Paris. You shall have creditable to himself. The old woman, what you like—everything, anything, Guertrude Peltier, who resided in only help me in this accursedextremity." the house, and had attended upon
For a long time Blassemare met his Lucille, was also examined, and a abject and agonized entreaties with servant named St. Jean, a sort of a stoical scorn ; at last, however, he groom, who had been a long time in relented.
Le Prun's service, also deposed to The body was removed that night : some important facts. This evidence, and it is well known to the readers ofold collected and reduced to a narrative French trials, how wonderfully Provi. form, was to the following effect :dence supplied, by a chain of apparent It seemed that, about twenty-four accidents, an important witness in our years before, Le Prun had privately friend Gabriel.
married an actress of the Theatre We left him buried in the hay of the named Emilie Guadin. They had lived stable-loft. We must pursue his ad- together—not very happily-by reason, venture to its conclusion,
as was supposed, of her violent temper.
Her sister, Marie Guadin, resided with Guadin was found murdered in her bed them. After about four years it began in the morning. to be rumoured that Monsieur Le Prun The occurrence made a great eclat, was about to be married to the widow and suspicions, from the taint of which of an immensely rich merchant of Bour- he had never quite recovered, began to deaux. The strict privacy and isola- environ Monsieur Le Prun. His untion in which his wife and her sister happy wife was now put under the were compelled by him to live, pre- severest restraint-from which, and, vented the rumour from reaching them, as was supposed, the partial effects of and the circumstance of his existing the poison, she became subject to temmarriage had been kept so strict a se- porary fits of insanity. By sheer tercret, that it was not suspected by any ror, Le Prun extorted from her a but the immediate parties to the cere- written declaration, to the effect that mony.
she lived with him merely as his misMonsieur Le Prun, about this time, tress, and that no marriage ceremony, visited the country-seat where he had or any contract of marriage, had ever placed his wife and sister-in-law. He been performed between them. It was affected an unusual kindness towards about three months after these terrible the former; but he had not been there a occurrences that she gave birth to a week, when she became ill. A physi- male child. This child, it appeared, cian was called in, and appeared per- was removed after a few weeks from plexed by the nature of her disease, its mother, and placed in the care of a which, notwithstanding his treatment, poor woman in the village of Charreseemed to be rapidly gaining ground. bourg, where, under the name of GaAs matters were in this state, one night briel, he, as we know, lived unrecogLe Prun entered his wife's bed-room ; nised, and himself unsuspecting his her sister Marie was sitting at the fur- origin. ther side of the bed, in the shadow of His mother had been a heartthe curtains, which, as well as the un- less, as she was a vicious and a miseusual hour, prevented Le Prun's sus- rable woman.
Instead of the yearnpecting her presence. He looked ings of maternal love, she regarded her stealthily round the room. His wife innocent child merely as the offspring was sleeping, and with her face away of that monster, whom she execrated from him, and a draught ordered by and feared with a preternatural hate. the physician was upon the table, If she looked upon him with any feelwaiting her awaking.
ing more lively than that of indifferFrom a small vial he dropped some ence, it was with one of positive malice fluid into this, and was about to replace and antipathy. it, when Marie, nerved with terror, Among his other employments of a glided swiftly to his side, snatched the delicate kind, Blassemare had charge vial from his hand, and cried, in a of all arrangements affecting this perthrilling voice
son, of whom, for every reason, Le Prun “ Emilie, awake! he is poisoning hated even to hear. He paid, thereyou!"
fore, whatever was demanded on this The sleeping girl started up, and at account, with the sole proviso that her the same moment the vial, which in name should never be mentioned. On her horror Marie had flung from her her removal, about a year since, from hand, fell beside her, on the pillow. the country-house where she had been Le Prun was first confounded and for so long a scarcely-unwilling prispeechless—then furious. He broke
soner, to the vast and melancholy Hothe glass that contained the medicine, tel St. Maurice, which had lately fallen and pursuing the girl to the further into the hands of M. Le Prun, an end of the room, seemed on the point accident to the carriage obliged them of wreaking his fury upon her. He to arrest their progress for an hour restrained himself, however, and hav- at the village of Charrebourg. She ing demanded the vial repeatedly in was brought into the park meanwhile, vain, went to his own room. The and there met with Gabriel, and subnext day the physician did not attend, sequently, as the reader may recollect, and in the dead of night the house was with Lucille. Her she had armed entered by thieves, some valuables with the hateful relic of her husband's were stolen, and Mademoiselle Marie uncompleted crime, conscious that