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List Of Contents | Contents of La Constantin, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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very well have occurred to the youth two minutes later, as a tall,
muscular young man entered in a state of intense excitement.
Angelique rushed to meet him, crying--

"Ah!  Monsieur le duc, is it you?"

"What is this I hear, Angelique?" said the Duc de Vitry.  "I was told
below that three men had visited you this evening; but only two have
gone out--where is the third?  Ha!  I do not need long to find him,"
he added, as he caught sight of the chevalier, who stood his ground
bravely enough.

"In Heaven's name!" cried Angelique,--"in Heaven's name, listen to
me!"

"No, no, not a word.  Just now I am not questioning you.  Who are
you, sir?"

The chevalier's teasing and bantering disposition made him even at
that critical moment insensible to fear, so he retorted insolently

"Whoever I please to be, sir; and on my word I find the tone in which
you put your question delightfully amusing."

The duke sprang forward in a rage, laying his hand on his sword.
Angelique tried in vain to restrain him.

"You want to screen him from my vengeance, you false one!" said he,
retreating a few steps, so as to guard the door.  "Defend your life,
sir!"

"Do you defend yours!"

Both drew at the same moment.

Two shrieks followed, one in the room, the other behind the tapestry,
for neither Angelique nor the widow had been able to restrain her
alarm as the two swords flashed in air.  In fact the latter had been
so frightened that she fell heavily to the floor in a faint.

This incident probably saved the young man's life; his blood had
already begun to run cold at the sight of his adversary foaming with
rage and standing between him and the door, when the noise of the
fall distracted the duke's attention.

"What was that?" he cried.  "Are there other enemies concealed here
too?  "And forgetting that he was leaving a way of escape free, he
rushed in the direction from which the sound came, and lunged at the
tapestry-covered partition with his sword.  Meantime the chevalier,
dropping all his airs of bravado, sprang from one end of the room to
the other like a cat pursued by a dog; but rapid as were his
movements, the duke perceived his flight, and dashed after him at the
risk of breaking both his own neck and the chevalier's by a chase
through unfamiliar rooms and down stairs which were plunged in
darkness.

All this took place in a few seconds, like a flash of lightning.
Twice, with hardly any interval, the street door opened and shut
noisily, and the two enemies were in the street, one pursued and the
other pursuing.

"My God!  Just to think of all that has happened is enough to make
one die of fright!" said Mademoiselle de Guerchi.  "What will come
next, I should like to know?  And what shall I say to the duke when
he comes back?"

Just at this instant a loud cracking sound was heard in the room.
Angelique stood still, once more struck with terror, and recollecting
the cry she had heard.  Her hair, which was already loosened, escaped
entirely from its bonds, and she felt it rise on her head as the
figures on the tapestry moved and bent towards her.  Falling on her
knees and closing her eyes, she began to invoke the aid of God and
all the saints.  But she soon felt herself raised by strong arms, and
looking round, she found herself in the presence of an unknown man,
who seemed to have issued from the ground or the walls, and who,
seizing the only light left unextinguished in the scuffle, dragged
her more dead than alive into the next room.

This man was, as the reader will have already guessed, Maitre
Quennebert.  As soon as the chevalier and the duke had disappeared,
the notary had run towards the corner where the widow lay, and having
made sure that she was really unconscious, and unable to see or hear
anything, so that it would be quite safe to tell her any story he
pleased next day, he returned to his former position, and applying
his shoulder to the partition, easily succeeded in freeing the ends
of the rotten laths from the nails which held there, and, pushing
them before him, made an aperture large enough to allow of his
passing through into the next apartment.  He applied himself to this
task with such vigour, and became so absorbed in its accomplishment,
that he entirely forgot the bag of twelve hundred livres which the
widow had given him.

"Who are you?  What do you want with me?" cried Mademoiselle de
Guerchi, struggling to free herself.

"Silence!" was Quennebert's answer.

"Don't kill me, for pity's sake!"

"Who wants to kill you?  But be silent; I don't want your shrieks to
call people here.  I must be alone with you for a few moments.  Once
more I tell you to be quiet, unless you want me to use violence.  If
you do what I tell you, no harm shall happen to you."

"But who are you, monsieur?"

"I am neither a burglar nor a murderer; that's all you need to know;
the rest is no concern of yours.  Have you writing materials at
hand?"

"Yes, monsieur; there they are, on that table."

"Very well.  Now sit down at the table."

"Why?"

"Sit down, and answer my questions."

"The first man who visited you this evening was M. Jeannin, was he
not?"

"Yes, M. Jeannin de Castille."

"The king's treasurer?"

"Yes."

"All right.  The second was Commander de Jars, and the young man he
brought with him was his nephew, the Chevalier de Moranges.  The last
comer was a duke; am I not right?"

"The Duc de Vitry."

"Now write from my dictation."

He spoke very slowly, and Mademoiselle de Guerchi, obeying his
commands, took up her pen.

"'To-day,'" dictated Quennebert,--"'to-day, this twentieth day of the
month of November, in the year of the Lord 1658, I--

"What is your full name?"

"Angelique-Louise de Guerchi."

"Go on!  'I, Angelique-Louise de Guerchi, was visited, in the rooms
which--I occupy, in the mansion of the Duchesse d'Etampes, corner of
the streets Git-le-Coeur and du Hurepoix, about half-past seven
o'clock in the evening, in the first place, by Messire Jeannin de
Castille, King's Treasurer; in the second place, by Commander de
Jars, who was accompanied by a young man, his nephew, the Chevalier
de Moranges; in the third place, after the departure of Commander de
Jars, and while I was alone with the Chevalier de Moranges, by the
Duc de Vitry, who drew his sword upon the said chevalier and forced
him to take flight.'

"Now put in a line by itself, and use capitals

"'DESCRIPTION OF THE CHEVALIER DE MORANGES."

"But I only saw him for an instant," said Angelique, "and I can't
recall----

"Write, and don't talk.  I can recall everything, and that is all
that is wanted."

"'Height about five feet.' The chevalier," said Quennebert,
interrupting himself, "is four feet eleven inches three lines and a
half, but I don't need absolute exactness."  Angelique gazed at him
in utter stupefaction.

"Do you know him, then?" she asked.

"I saw him this evening for the first time, but my eye is very
accurate.

"'Height about five feet; hair black, eyes ditto, nose aquiline,
mouth large, lips compressed, forehead high, face oval, complexion
pale, no beard.'

"Now another line, and in capitals:

"'SPECIAL MARKS.'

"'A small mole on the neck behind the right ear, a smaller mole on
the left hand.'

"Have you written that?  Now sign it with your full name."

"What use are you going to make of this paper?"

"I should have told you before, if I had desired you to know.  Any
questions are quite useless.  I don't enjoin secrecy on you,
however," added the notary, as he folded the paper and put it into
his doublet pocket.  "You are quite free to tell anyone you like
that you have written the description of the Chevalier de Moranges at
the dictation of an unknown man, who got into your room you don't
know how, by the chimney or through the ceiling perhaps, but who was
determined to leave it by a more convenient road.  Is there not a
secret staircase?  Show me where it is.  I don't want to meet anyone
on my way out."

Angelique pointed out a door to him hidden by a damask curtain, and
Quennebert saluting her, opened it and disappeared, leaving Angelique
convinced that she had seen the devil in person.  Not until the next
day did the sight of the displaced partition explain the apparition,
but even then so great was her fright, so deep was the terror which
the recollection of the mysterious man inspired, that despite the
permission to tell what had happened she mentioned her adventure to
no one, and did not even complain to her neighbour, Madame Rapally,
of the inquisitiveness which had led the widow to spy on her actions.





CHAPTER VI

We left de Jars and Jeannin, roaring with laughter, in the tavern in
the rue Saint Andre-des-Arts.

"What!" said the treasurer, "do you really think that Angelique
thought I was in earnest in my offer?--that she believes in all good
faith I intend to marry her?"

"You may take my word for it.  If it were not so, do you imagine she
would have been in such desperation?  Would she have fainted at my
threat to tell you that I had claims on her as well as you?  To get
married!  Why, that is the goal of all such creatures, and there is
not one of them who can understand why a man of honour should blush
to give her his name.  If you had only seen her terror, her tears!
They would have either broken your heart or killed you with
laughter."

"Well," said Jeannin, "it is getting late.  Are we going to wait for
the chevalier?"

"Let us call, for him."

"Very well.  Perhaps he has made up his mind to stay.  If so, we
shall make a horrible scene, cry treachery and perjury, and trounce
your nephew well.  Let's settle our score and be off."

They left the wine-shop, both rather the worse for the wine they had
so largely indulged in.  They felt the need of the cool night air, so
instead of going down the rue Pavee they resolved to follow the rue
Saint-Andre-des-Arts as far as the Pont Saint-Michel, so as to reach
the mansion by a longer route.

At the very moment the commander got up to leave the tavern the
chevalier had run out of the mansion at the top of his speed.  It was

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