“It is possible,” said the mason, again taking his spade, “but all the same it seems a little odd to me.”
When he had finished, Derues asked him to help to drag the chest alongside the trench, so that it might be easier to take out the bottles and arrange them: The mason agreed, but when he moved the chest the foetid odour which proceeded from it made him draw back, declaring that a smell such as that could not possibly proceed from wine. Derues tried to persuade him that the smell came from drains under the cellar, the pipe of which could be seen. It appeared to satisfy him, and he again took hold of the chest, but immediately let it go again, and said positively that he could not execute Derues’ orders, being convinced that the chest must contain a decomposing corpse. Then Derues threw himself at the man’s feet and acknowledged that it was the dead body of a woman who had unfortunately lodged in his house, and who had died there suddenly from an unknown malady, and that, dreading lest he should be accused of having murdered her, he had decided to conceal the death and bury her here.
The mason listened, alarmed at this confidence, and not knowing whether to believe it or not. Derues sobbed and wept at his feet, beat his breast and tore out his hair, calling on God and the saints as witnesses of his good faith and his innocence. He showed the book he was reading while the mason excavated: it was the Seven Penitential Psalms. “How unfortunate I am!” he cried. “This woman died in my house, I assure you—died suddenly, before I could call a doctor. I was alone; I might have been accused, imprisoned, perhaps condemned for a crime I did not commit. Do not ruin me! You leave Paris to-night, you need not be uneasy; no one would know that I employed you, if this unhappy affair should ever be discovered. I do not know your name, I do not wish to know it, and I tell you mine, it is Ducoudray. I give myself up to you, but have some pity!—if not for me, yet for my wife and my two little children—for these poor creatures whose only support I am!”
Seeing that the mason was touched, Derues opened the chest.
“Look,” he said, “examine the body of this woman, does it show any mark of violent death? My God!” he continued, joining his hands and in tones of despairing agony,—”my God, Thou who readest all hearts, and who knowest my innocence, canst Thou not ordain a miracle to save an honest man? Wilt Thou not command this dead body to bear witness for me?”
The mason was stupefied by this flow of language. Unable to restrain his tears, he promised to keep silence, persuaded that Derues was innocent, and that appearances only were against him. The latter, moreover, did not neglect other means of persuasion; he handed the mason two gold pieces, and between them they buried the body of Madame de Lamotte.
However extraordinary this fact, which might easily be supposed imaginary, may appear, it certainly happened. In the examination at his trial. Derues himself revealed it, repeating the story which had satisfied the mason. He believed that this man had denounced him: he was mistaken, for this confidant of his crime, who might have been the first to put justice on his track, never reappeared, and but for Derues’ acknowledgment his existence would have remained unknown.
This first deed accomplished, another victim was already appointed. Trembling at first as to the consequences of his forced confession, Derues waited some days, paying, however, his creditor as promised. He redoubles his demonstrations of piety, he casts a furtive glance on everyone he meets, seeking for some expression of distrust. But no one avoids him, or points him out with a raised finger, or whispers on seeing him; everywhere he encounters the customary expression of goodwill. Nothing has changed; suspicion passes over his head 杭州水磨按摩会所 without alighting there. He is reassured, and resumes his work. Moreover, had he wished to remain passive, he could not have done so; he was now compelled to follow that fatal law of crime which demands that blood must be effaced with blood, and which is compelled to appeal again to death in order to stifle the accusing voice already issuing from the tomb.
Edouard de Lamotte, loving his mother as much as she loved him, became uneasy at receiving no visits, and was astonished at this sudden indifference. Derues wrote to him as follows:
“I have at length some good news for you, my dear boy, but you must not tell your mother I have betrayed her secret; she would scold me, because she is planning a surprise for you, and the various steps and care necessary in arranging this important matter have caused her absence. You were to know nothing until the 11th or 12th of this month, 杭州桑拿按摩特服 but now that all is settled, I should blame myself if I prolonged the uncertainty in which you have been left, only you must promise me to look as much astonished as possible. Your mother, who only lives for you, is going to present you with the greatest gift a youth of your age can receive—that of liberty. Yes, dear boy, we thought we had discovered that you have no very keen taste for study, and that a secluded life will suit neither your character nor your health. In saying this I utter no reproach, for every man is born with his own decided tastes, and the way to success and happiness is-often-to allow him to follow these instincts. We have had long discussions on this subject—your mother and I—and we have thought much about your future; she has at last come to a decision, and for the last ten days has been at Versailles, endeavouring to obtain your admission as a royal 杭州水磨iso page. Here is the mystery, this is the reason which has kept her from you, and as she knew you would hear it with delight, she wished to have the pleasure of telling you herself. Therefore, once again, when you see her, which will be very soon, do not let her see I have told you; appear to be greatly surprised. It is true that I am asking you to tell a lie, but it is a very innocent one, and its good intention will counteract its sinfulness—may God grant we never have worse upon our consciences! Thus, instead of lessons and the solemn precepts of your tutors, instead of a monotonous school-life, you are going to enjoy your liberty; also the pleasures of the court and the world. All that rather alarms me, and I ought to confess that I at first opposed this plan. I begged your mother to reflect, to consider that in this new existence you would run great risk of losing the religious feeling which inspires you, and which I 杭州丝袜按摩 have had the happiness, during my sojourn at Buisson-Souef, of further developing in your mind. I still recall with emotion your fervid and sincere aspirations towards the Creator when you approached the Sacred Table for the first time, and when, kneeling beside you, and envying the purity of heart and innocence of soul which appeared to animate your countenance as with a divine radiance, I besought God that, in default of my own virtue, the love for heavenly Truth with which I have inspired you might be reckoned to my account. Your piety is my work, Edouard, and I defended it against your mother’s plans; but she replied that in every career a man is master of his own good or evil actions; and as I have no authority over you, and friendship only gives me the right to advise, I must give way. If this be your vocation, then follow it.
“My occupations are so numerous (I have to collect from different sources this hundred thousand livres intended to defray the greater part of the Buisson purchase) that I have not a moment 杭州洗浴桑拿寻欢 in which to come and see you this week.
Spend the time in reflection, and write to me fully what you think about this plan. If, like me, you feel any scruples, you must tell them to your mother, who decidedly wants only to make you happy. Speak to me freely, openly. It is arranged that I am to fetch you on the 11th of this month, and escort you to Versailles, where Madame de Lamotte will 杭州足浴中心 be waiting to receive you with the utmost tenderness. Adieu, dear boy; write to me. Your father knows nothing as yet; his consent will be asked after your decision.”
The answer to this letter did not have to be waited for: it was such as Derues expected; the lad accepted joyfully. The answer was, for the murderer, an arranged plea of defence, a proof which, in a given case, might link the present with the past.
On the morning of February 11th, Shrove Tuesday, he went to fetch the young de Lamotte from his school, telling the master that he was desired by the youth’s mother to conduct him to Versailles. But, instead, he took him to his own house, saying that he had a letter from Madame de Lamotte asking them not to come till the next day; so they started on Ash Wednesday, Edouard having breakfasted on chocolate. Arrived at Versailles, they stopped at the Fleur-de-lys inn, but there the sickness which the boy had complained of during the journey became very serious, and the innkeeper, having young children, and believing that he recognised symptoms of smallpox, which just then was ravaging Versailles, refused to receive them, saying he had no vacant room. This might have disconcerted anyone but Derues, but his audacity, activity, and resource seemed to increase with each fresh obstacle. Leaving Edouard in a room on the ground floor which had no communication with the rest of the inn, he went at once to look for lodgings, and hastily explored the town. After a fruitless search, he found at last, at the junction of the rue Saint-Honore with that of the Orangerie, a cooper named Martin, who had a furnished room to spare. This he hired at thirty sous per day for himself and his nephew, who had been taken suddenly ill, under the name of Beaupre. To avoid being questioned later, he informed the cooper in a few words that he was a doctor; that he had come to Versailles in order to place his nephew in one of the offices of the town; that in a few days the latter’s mother would arrive to join him in seeing and making application to influential persons about the court, to whom he had letters of introduction. As soon as he had delivered this fable with all the appearance of truth with which he knew so well how to disguise his falsehoods, he went back to the young de Lamotte, who was already so exhausted that he was hardly able to drag himself as far as the cooper’s house. He fainted on arrival, and was carried into the hired room, where Derues begged to be left alone with him, and only asked for certain beverages which he told the people how to prepare.
Whether it was that the strength of youth fought against the poison, or that Derues took pleasure in watching the sufferings of his victim, the agony of the poor lad was prolonged until the fourth day. The sickness continuing incessantly, he sent the cooper’s wife for a medicine which he prepared and administered himself. It produced terrible pain, and Edouard’s cries brought the cooper and his wife upstairs. They represented to Derues that he ought to call in a doctor and consult with him, but he refused decidedly, saying that a doctor hastily fetched might prove to be an ignorant person with whom he could not agree, and that he could not allow one so dear to him to be prescribed for and nursed by anyone but himself.
“I know what the malady is,” he continued, raising his eyes to heaven; “it is one that has to be concealed rather than acknowledged. Poor youth! whom I love as my own son, if God, touched by my tears and thy suffering, permits me to save thee, thy whole life will be too short for thy blessings and thy gratitude!” And as Madame Martin asked what this malady might be, he answered with hypocritical blushes—