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List Of Contents | Contents of Derues, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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important and lucrative appointment, and that, if she had left him in
ignorance of her efforts in this direction; it was only to give him
an agreeable surprise.  He added that she had removed her son from
the school, and hoped to place him either in the riding school or
amongst the royal pages.  To prove his words, he opened his
paper-case, and produced the letter written by Edouard in answer to
the one quoted above.

All this was related so simply, and with such an appearance of good
faith, that the cure was quite convinced.  And to Monsieur de Lamotte
the plans attributed to his wife were not entirely improbably.
Derues had learnt indirectly that such a career for Edouard had been
actually under consideration.  However, though Monsieur de Lamotte's
entire ignorance prevented him from making any serious objection, his
fears were not entirely at rest, but for the present he appeared
satisfied with the explanation.

The cure resumed the conversation.  "What you tell us ought to drive
away gloomy ideas.  Just now, when you were announced, Monsieur de
Lamotte was confiding his troubles to me.  I was as concerned as he
was, and I could say nothing to help him; never did visitor arrive
more apropos.  Well, my friend, what now remains of your vain
terrors?  What was it you were saying just as Monsieur Derues
arrived?  .  .  .  Ah! we were discussing dreams, you asked if I
believed in them."

Monsieur, de Lamotte, who had sunk back in his easy-chair and seemed
lost in his reflections, started on hearing these words.  He raised
his head and looked again at Derues.  But the latter had had time to
note the impression produced by the cure's remark, and this renewed
examination did not disturb him.

"Yes," said Monsieur de Lamotte, "I had asked that question."

"And I was going to answer that there are certain secret warnings
which can be received by the soul long before they are intelligible
to the bodily senses-revelations not understood at first, but which
later connect themselves with realities of which they are in some way
the precursors.  Do you agree with me, Monsieur Derues?"

"I have no opinion on such a subject, and must leave the discussion
to more learned people than myself.  I do not know whether such
apparitions really mean anything or not, and I have not sought to
fathom these mysteries, thinking them outside the realm of human
intelligence."

"Nevertheless," said the cure, "we are obliged to recognise their
existence."

"Yes, but without either understanding or explaining them, like many
other eternal truths.  I follow the rule given in the Imitation o f
Jesus Christ: 'Beware, my son, of considering too curiously the
things beyond thine intelligence.'"

"And I also submit, and avoid too curious consideration.  But has not
the soul knowledge of many wondrous things which we can yet neither
see nor touch?  I repeat, there are things which cannot be denied."

Derues listened attentively, continually on his guard; and afraid, he
knew not why, of becoming entangled in this conversation, as in a
trap.  He carefully watched Monsieur de Lamotte, whose eyes never
left him.  The cure resumed--

"Here is an instance which I was bound to accept, seeing it happened
to myself.  I was then twenty, and my mother lived in the
neighbourhood of Tours, whilst I was at the seminary of Montpellier.
After several years of separation, I had obtained permission to go
and see her.  I wrote, telling her of this good news, and I received
her answer--full of joy and tenderness.  My brother and sister were
to be informed, it was to be a family meeting, a real festivity; and
I started with a light and joyous heart.  My impatience was so great,
that, having stopped for supper at a village inn some ten leagues
from Tours, I would not wait till the next morning for the coach
which went that way, but continued the journey on foot and walked all
night.  It was a long and difficult road, but happiness redoubled my
strength.  About an hour after sunrise I saw distinctly the smoke and
the village roofs, and I hurried on to surprise my family a little
sooner.  I never felt more active, more light-hearted and gay;
everything seemed to smile before and around me.  Turning a corner of
the hedge, I met a peasant whom I recognised.  All at once it seemed
as if a veil spread over my sight, all my hopes and joy suddenly
vanished, a funereal idea took possession of me, and I said, taking
the hand of the man, who had not yet spoken--

"'My mother is dead, I am convinced my mother is dead!'

"He hung down his head and answered--

"'She is to be buried this morning!'

"Now whence came this revelation?  I had seen no one, spoken to no
one; a moment before I had no idea of it!"

Derues made a gesture of surprise.  Monsieur de Lamotte put his hand
to his eyes, and said to the cure--

"Your presentiments were true; mine, happily, are unfounded.  But
listen, and tell me if in the state of anxiety which oppressed me I
had not good reason for alarm and for fearing some fatal misfortune."

His eyes again sought Derues.  "Towards the middle of last night I at
length fell asleep, but, interrupted every moment, this sleep was
more a fatigue than a rest; I seemed to hear confused noises all
round me.  I saw brilliant lights which dazzled me, and then sank
back into silence and darkness.  Sometimes I heard someone weeping
near my bed; again plaintive voices called to me out of the darkness.
I stretched out my arms, but nothing met them, I fought with
phantoms; at length a cold hand grasped mine and led me rapidly
forward.  Under a dark and damp vault a woman lay on the ground,
bleeding, inanimate--it was my wife!  At the same moment, a groan
made me look round, and I beheld a man striking my son with a dagger.
I cried out and awoke, bathed in cold perspiration, panting under
this terrible vision.  I was obliged to get up, walk about, and speak
aloud, in order to convince myself it was only a dream.  I tried to
go to sleep again, but the same visions still pursued me.  I saw
always the same man armed with two daggers streaming with blood; I
heard always the cries of his two victims.  When day came, I felt
utterly broken, worn-out; and this morning, you, my father, could see
by my despondency what an impression this awful night had made upon
me."

During this recital Derues' calmness never gave way for a single
moment, and the most skilful physiognomist could only have discovered
an expression of incredulous curiosity on his countenance.

"Monsieur le cure's story," said he, "impressed me much; yours only
brings back my uncertainty.  It is less possible than ever to deliver
any opinion on this serious question of dreams, since the second
instance contradicts the first."

"It is true," answered the cure, "no possible conclusion can be drawn
from two facts which contradict each other, and the best thing we can
do is to choose a less dismal subject of conversation."

"Monsieur Derues;" asked Monsieur de Lamatte, "if you are not too
tired with your journey, shall we go and look at the last
improvements I have made?  It is now your affair to decide upon them,
since I shall shortly be only your guest here."

"Just as I have been yours for long enough, and I trust you will
often give me the opportunity of exercising hospitality in my turn.
But you are ill, the day is cold and damp; if you do not care to go
out, do not let me disturb you.  Had you not better stay by the fire
with Monsieur le cure?  For me, Heaven be thanked!  I require no
assistance.  I will look round the park, and come back presently to
tell you what I think.  Besides, we shall have plenty of time to talk
about it.  With your permission, I should like to stay two or three
days."

"I shall be pleased if you will do so."

Derues went out, sufficiently uneasy in his mind, both on account of
his reception of Monsieur de Lamotte's fears and of the manner in
which the latter had watched him during the conversation.  He walked
quickly up and down the park--

"I have been foolish, perhaps; I have lost twelve or fifteen days,
and delayed stupidly from fear of not foreseeing everything.  But
then, how was I to imagine that this simple, easily deceived man
would all at once become suspicious?  What a strange dream!  If I had
not been on my guard, I might have been disconcerted.  Come, come, I
must try to disperse these ideas and give him something else to think
about."

He stopped, and after a few minutes consideration turned back towards
the house.

As soon as he had left the room, Monsieur de Lamotte had bent over
towards the cure, and had said--

"He did not show any emotion, did--he?"

"None whatever."

"He did not start when I spoke of the man armed with those two
daggers?"

"No.  But put aside these ideas; you must see they are mistaken."

"I did not tell everything, my father: this murderer whom I saw in my
dream--was Derues himself!  I know as well as you that it must be a
delusion, I saw as well as you did that he remained quite calm, but,
in spite of myself, this terrible dream haunts me .  .  .  .There, do
not listen to me, do not let me talk about it; it only makes me blush
for myself."

Whilst Derues remained at Buisson-Souef, Monsieur de Lamotte received
several letters from his wife, some from Paris, some from Versailles.
She remarked that her son and herself were perfectly well....  The
writing was so well imitated that no one could doubt their
genuineness.  However, Monsieur de Lamotte's suspicions continually
increased and he ended by making the cure share his fears.  He also
refused to go with Derues to Paris, in spite of the latter's
entreaties.  Derues, alarmed at the coldness shown him, left
Buisson-Souef, saying that he intended to take possession about the
middle of spring.

Monsieur de Lamotte was, in spite of himself, still detained by
ill-health.  But a new and inexplicable circumstance made him resolve
to go to Paris and endeavour to clear up the mystery which appeared
to surround his wife and son.  He received an unsigned letter in

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