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He had not called, however, and, since he was unknown personally to us both, we could not judge whether or not he had been among the passengers on the platform.
"Perhaps," said Marchmont, "we might pass over that, too, as we do not seem to have reached any conclusions."
“All mine. I ought to have the receipts somewhere.”
An indescribable anxiety oppressed the Dreux-Soubise and their guests. There was something in the tone and attitude of Floriani—something more than the chevalier’s assurance which, from the beginning, had so annoyed the count. There was a touch of irony, that seemed rather hostile than sympathetic. But the count affected to laugh, as he said:
The two men were leaning over the sufferer, Sebastiani with his hand on the stick, d’Albufex holding the lamp so as to throw the light on Daubrecq’s face: “His lips are moving... he’s going to speak. Loosen the rope a little, Sebastiani: I don’t want our friend to be hurt... No, tighten it: I believe our friend is hesitating... One turn more... stop! ... That’s done it! Oh, my dear Daubrecq, if you can’t speak plainer than that, it’s no use! What? What did you say?”
CHAPTER FOUR FACE TO FACE
"And you were afraid of finding something else?"
"That was two months ago, two months of minute investigations, which presented no difficulty to me, because, having discovered your trail, I hired the flat overhead and was able to use that staircase ... but, all the same, two months wasted to a certain extent because I have not yet succeeded. And Heaven knows how I have ransacked this shop of yours! There is not a piece of furniture that I have left unsearched, not a plank in the floor that I have not inspected. All to no purpose. Yes, there was one thing, an incidental discovery. In a secret recess in your writing-table, Pancaldi, I turned up a little account-book in which you have set down your remorse, your uneasiness, your fear of punishment and your dread of God's wrath.... It was highly imprudent of you, Pancaldi! People don't write such confessions! And, above all, they don't leave them lying about! Be this as it may, I read them and I noted one passage, which struck me as particularly important and was of use to me in preparing my plan of campaign: 'Should she come to me, the woman whom I robbed, should she come to me as I saw her in her garden, while Lucienne was taking the clasp; should she appear to me wearing the blue gown and the toque of red leaves, with the jet necklace and the whip of three plaited rushes which she was carrying that day; should she appear to me thus and say: "I have come to claim my property," then I shall understand that her conduct is inspired from on high and that I must obey the decree of Providence.' That is what is written in your book, Pancaldi, and it explains the conduct of the lady whom you call Mlle. Hortense. Acting on my instructions and in accordance with the setting thought out by yourself, she came to you, from the back of beyond, to use your own expression. A little more self-possession on her part; and you know that she would have won the day. Unfortunately, you are a wonderful actor; your sham suicide put her out; and you understood that this was not a decree of Providence, but simply an offensive on the part of your former victim. I had no choice, therefore, but to intervene. Here I am.... And now let's finish the business. Pancaldi, that clasp!"
I could have burst out laughing in his handsome, eager face; the good faith of this absurd proposal was so incongruously apparent; and so obviously genuine was the young villain's anxiety for my consent. Become accessory after the fact in such a crime! Sell my silence for a price! I concealed my feelings with equal difficulty and resolution. I had plans of my own already, but I must gain time to think them over. Nor could I afford to quarrel with Rattray meanwhile.