Part 12 out of 12
Rudolph smiled, and went on with the perusal of the letter of Madame
"At the sight of Sir Walter, Polidori was petrified; my step-mother
fell from one surprise into another; my father, alarmed at this scene,
and weakened by sickness, was obliged to seat himself in a chair. Sir
Walter double-locked the door by which he entered; and, placing
himself before the one which opened into another apartment, so that
the doctor could not escape, he said to my father, with the most
"'I ask a thousand pardons, my lord, for the liberty I take; but
imperious necessity, dictated solely by you? interest (as you will
soon acknowledge) obliges me to act thus. My name is Sir Walter
Murphy, as this wretch can testify, who, at my sight, trembles with
fear; I am the confidential adviser of his Royal Highness, the
Grand-Duke of Gerolstein.'
"'It is true,' said Dr. Polidori, confusedly, quite beside himself
with alarm. 'But, sir, what do you come here for? What do you want?'
"'Sir Walter Murphy,' said I, addressing my father, 'comes to aid me
in unmasking these wretches, to whose machinations you were near
falling a victim.' Then, handing to Sir Walter the vial, I added, 'I
have had the good fortune to become possessed of this at the moment
Dr. Polidori was about administering to my father its contents.'
"'A chemist from the neighboring town shall analyze before you the
contents of this bottle, which I am going to place in your lordship's
hands, and if it be proved that it contains a slow poison,' said Sir
Walter to my father, 'there can remain no more doubt of the danger you
have run, which the affection of your daughter has happily prevented.'
"My poor father looked at his wife, Dr. Polidori, Sir Walter, and
myself in a bewildered manner; his features expressed deep agony, I
read upon his careworn face the violent struggle which tore his heart.
Without doubt he was resisting with all his strength growing and
terrible suspicions, fearing to be obliged to recognize the guilt of
my step-mother; at length, concealing his face in his hands, he cried,
'Oh! all this is horrible--impossible! Is this, then, a dream?'
"'No, it is not a dream!' cried my step-mother, audaciously: 'nothing
is more real than this atrocious calumny, previously concocted, to
ruin an unhappy woman, whose sole crime has been consecrating her life
to you. Come, come, my friend, let us not remain a second longer
here!' added she, addressing herself to my father; 'perhaps your
daughter will not have the insolence to detain you in spite of
"'Yes, yes, let us go,' said my father, almost wild; 'this is not
true--cannot be true; I wish to hear nothing further; my reason would
give way; frightful suspicions would arise in my mind, empoison the
few days remaining for me to live, and nothing could console me for
such an abominable discovery!'
"My father seemed so suffering, so despairing, that at any sacrifice,
I would have put a stop to a scene so cruel for him. Sir Walter
divined my thoughts; but, wishing to do full and entire justice, he
answered my father.
"'Yet a few words, my lord; you are about to experience the
affliction, doubtless very painful, of discovering that a woman whom
you believe attached to you by gratitude, has always been a monstrous
hypocrite; but you will find certain consolation in the affection of
your daughter, who has always been true."
"'This passes all bounds!' cried my step-mother, in a rage; 'by what
right, sir, on what proofs, dare you utter such frightful calumnies?
You say the vial contains poison. I deny it, sir; and I will deny it
until you prove the contrary; and even if Dr. Polidori might have by
accident mistaken one medicine for another, is that a reason to dare
to accuse me of having wished, with him as an accomplice--oh! no, no,
I cannot finish--an idea so horrible is already a crime. Once more,
sir, I defy you to say on what proofs you and madame dare to sustain
this frightful calumny,' said my step-mother, with incredible
audacity. 'Yes, on what proofs?' cried my unfortunate father. 'The
torture I suffer must be brought to a close.'
"'I have not come here without proofs, my lord,' said Sir Walter. 'And
these proofs the answers of this wretch will furnish directly.' Then
Sir Walter spoke to Dr. Polidori in German, who seemed to have
recovered a little assurance, but lost it immediately."
* * * * * * *
"What did you say to him?" demanded Rudolph, laying aside the letter
for a moment.
"Some significant words to this effect: 'You escaped by flight the
sentence pronounced against you in the grand duchy; you live in the
Rue du Temple, under the false name of Bradamanti; your present
occupation is unknown; you poisoned the count's first wife; three days
ago Madame d'Orbigny came to bring you here to poison her husband. His
serene highness is in Paris, and has the proofs of all I advance. If
you confess the truth, so as to convict this miserable woman, you may
hope, not pardon, but some mitigation of the punishment you deserve;
you must follow me to Paris, where I will place you in security, until
his royal highness decides your fate. Otherwise two things; one, the
prince will demand you from the government, or this moment I will send
to the neighboring town for a magistrate; this vial containing poison,
shall be placed in his hands; you will be arrested at once, your
lodgings in the Rue du Temple searched; you know how much that will
compromise you, and French justice shall follow its course. Choose
then.' These revelations, accusations, and threats, that he knew
well-founded, succeeding one another so rapidly, confounded this
miscreant, who did not expect to find me so well informed. In the hope of
lessening the punishment which awaited him, he did not hesitate to
sacrifice his accomplice, and answered, 'Interrogate me--I will tell
the truth concerning this woman.'"
"Well, well, my worthy friend, I expected no less from you."
"During my interview with Polidori, the features of Madame d'Orbigny
changed their expression of assurance alarmingly, although she did not
understand German. She saw, from the increasing dejection of her
confederate, from his supplicating attitude, that I had him in my
power. In great anxiety, she endeavored to catch the eye of Polidori,
in order to give him courage or to implore his discretion, but he
avoided her glances."
"And the count?"
"His emotion was indescribable; with his contracted fingers he
clutched, convulsively, the arm of his chair, the perspiration
standing on his forehead: he hardly breathed; his burning and glazed
eyes were fixed on mine; his agony equaled that of his wife. The
continuation of the letter of Madame d'Harville will instruct your
highness as to the end of this painful scene."
Rudolph resumed the perusal of the letter. "After a conversation in
German, which lasted for some moments, Sir Walter said to Polidori,
'Now answer, was it not madame,' and he pointed at my step-mother,
'who, at the time of the illness of my lord's first wife, introduced
you in the house as a physician?' 'Yes, it was she,' answered
"'In order to serve the fearful projects of madame, have you not been
criminal enough to render mortal (by your homicidal prescriptions) the
slight illness of the Countess d'Orbigny?' 'Yes,' said Polidori.
"My father uttered a heart-rending sigh, raised his two hands toward
heaven, and let them fall, quite overwhelmed. 'Falsehoods and infamy!'
cried my stepmother; 'all this is false; they conspire to ruin me!'
'Silence, madame!' said Sir Walter, in an imposing voice; then,
continuing to question Polidori:
"'Is it true, that three days ago, madame went to seek you at No. 17
Rue du Temple, where you reside, concealed under the false name of
"'That is true.'
"'Did not madame propose to you to come here to murder the Count
d'Orbigny, as you had murdered his wife?'
"'Alas! I cannot deny it,' said Polidori. "'At this overwhelming
revelation, my father arose on his feet; he showed the door to my
step-mother; then, extending his arms toward me, he cried, in a broken
voice, 'In the name of your unfortunate mother, pardon me, pardon me!
I have caused you much suffering; but I swear to you I was a stranger
to the crime which has conducted her to the tomb.'
"And before I could prevent him, he fell at my feet.
"When Sir Walter and myself raised him, he had fainted. I rang for the
servants. Sir Walter took the doctor by the arm, and went out with
him, saying to my step-mother, 'Believe me, madame, you had better
leave this house before an hour, or I will deliver you up to justice.'
"The wretched woman left the room in a state of alarm and rage which
your highness will easily conceive.
"When my father recovered his senses, all that had taken place
appeared like a horrid dream. I was under the sad necessity of
relating to him my first suspicions concerning the premature death of
my mother--suspicions which your highness's knowledge of the previous
crimes of Dr. Polidori changed into certainty.
"I was obliged, also, to tell my father how my stepmother had carried
her hatred even to my marriage, and what had been her object in
causing me to marry M. d'Harville.
"As much as my father had shown himself weak and blind respecting this
woman, just so much he wished to treat her without mercy; he accused
himself, with despair, of having been the accomplice of this monster,
in giving her his hand after the death of my mother. He wished to give
her up to justice; I represented to him the odious notoriety of such
proceedings. I engaged him to drive her away forever from his
presence, allowing her just enough for her support, since she bore his
"I had great trouble in procuring my father's consent to this; he
wished me to turn her out of the house. This mission would be doubly
painful; I thought that Sir Walter, perhaps, would act for me. He
"And I consented with joy," said Murphy to Rudolph; "nothing pleases
me more than to give to the wicked this kind of extreme unction."
"And what did this woman say?"
"Madame d'Harville had carried her goodness so far as to ask from her
father a pension of one hundred louis for this creature. This appeared
to me not goodness, but weakness; it was bad enough to rob justice of
such a dangerous woman. I went to find the count; he coincided
entirely with me; it was agreed that we should give, in all, twenty-five
louis to the infamous wretch, so that she might subsist until she
found employment. 'And what kind of employment can the Countess
d'Orbigny find?' demanded she, insolently. 'That's your business; you
might be something like a nurse or housekeeper; but, believe me, seek
the most humble and obscure calling; for if you have the audacity to
tell your title, which you owe to a crime, people will be astonished
to see the Countess d'Orbigny reduced to such a condition; they will
inquire, and you can judge of the consequences, if you are fool enough
to noise abroad the past. Conceal yourself in some distant place;
cause yourself to be forgotten; become Madame Pier re or Madame
Jacques, and repent--if you can.' 'And do you think, sir,' said she to
me, 'that I shall not claim the advantages secured to me by my
marriage contract?' 'Certainly, madame, nothing can be more just; it
would be unworthy of M. d'Orbigny not to execute his promises, and not
to recognize all that you have done for him, and all you would have
done. Sue, sue; address yourself to justice; I have no doubt the
decision will be against your husband. A quarter of an hour after our
conversation, the creature was on the road to the neighboring town."
"You are right; it is painful to allow such a woman to escape with
impunity; but the scandal of such a trial for this old man, already so
much debilitated, is not to be thought of."
"I have easily persuaded my father to leave Les Aubiers to-day,"
resumed Rudolph, continuing to read the letter from Madame d'Harville:
"too many sad recollections attend him here; although his health is
delicate, the journey and change of air may be of service, as the
physician says who has taken the place of Dr. Polidori. My father
wished that he should analyze the contents of the vial, without
informing him of what had passed; he answered that he could only do
this at his own house, but that in two hours we should know the
result. This was, that several doses of this liquid, prepared with
infernal skill, would, in a given time, produce death, without leaving
"In a few hours I leave with my father and daughter for Fontainebleau;
we will remain there for some time; then, according to the wish of my
father, we return to Paris, but not to my own house; it will be
impossible for me to live there after the deplorable accident which
has taken place.
"Thus, as I have said, on commencing this letter, events show all that
I owe to your highness's solicitude. Warned by you, aided by your
advice, strong in the co-operation of your excellent and courageous
Sir Walter, I have been able to snatch my father from certain death,
and I am assured of the return of his tenderness.
"Adieu! it is impossible for me to say more, my heart is too full: too
many emotions agitate it; I should badly express all that I feel.
"I open this letter in haste, your highness, to repair a neglect of
which I am ashamed. In seeking, by your noble advice, to do some good,
I went to the prison of Saint Lazare to visit the poor prisoners. I
found there an unfortunate child in whom you are interested; Her
angelic sweetness and pious resignation are the admiration of the
matron who overlooks the inmates. To inform you where the Goualeuse
(such I believe is her name) can be found is to request you to obtain
her liberty. This unfortunate girl will relate to you by what a
concourse of sinister circumstances, carried away from the asylum
where you had placed her, she has been thrown into this prison, where
she is appreciated for the purity of her conduct. Permit me also to
recall to your highness's mind my two future _protegees_ the
unhappy mother and daughter--despoiled by the notary Ferrand, Where
are they? Have you had any information concerning them? Oh, I pray you
endeavor to discover them, so that on my return to Paris I can pay
them the debt which I have contracted toward all unfortunates!"
"Goualeuse has, then, left the farm of Bouqueval?" cried Murphy, as
much astonished as Rudolph at this new revelation.
"I heard but just now that she was seen coming out of Saint Lazare,"
answered Rudolph. "I am lost in conjecture; the silence of Madame
George confounds and distresses me. Poor little Fleur-de-Marie, what
new misfortunes have happened to you? Let a man on horseback be sent
off at once to the farm, and write to Madame George that I beg her to
come at once to Paris. Say also to M. de Graun, I wish an order to
enter Saint Lazare. From what Madame d'Harville writes, Fleur-de-Marie
is confined there; but no," said Rudolph, reflecting, "she is no
longer a prisoner, for Rigolette saw her come out in company with an
aged woman. Can it be Madame George? Otherwise, who is the woman?
Where is the Goualeuse gone to?"
"Patience, my lord; before to-night you shall know all about it.
To-morrow you will have to interrogate this scoundrel Polidori; he has,
he said, important communications to make to you, but to you alone."
"The interview will be hateful to me," said Rudolph, sadly; "for I
have never seen this man since the fatal day--when--"
Rudolph could not finish; he concealed his face in his hands.
"Why consent to what Polidori demands? Threaten him with the French
courts, or an extradition on the Government; he must resign himself to
confess to me what he is only willing to confess to you."
"You are right, my good friend; for the sight of this wretch would
render still more torturing these terrible recollections, to which are
attached so many incurable griefs; from the death of my father to that
of my poor little girl--I do not know but that the more I advance in
life, the more I feel the loss of this child. How I should have adored
her! how dear and precious to me had been this fruit of my first love,
of my first and pure belief, or, rather, my young illusions!"
"Stay, my lord; I see with pain the increasing sway which these
regrets, as fruitless as cruel, have upon your mind."
After a pause, Rudolph said to Murphy: "I can now make a confession to
you, my old friend. I love--yes, I love passionately a woman worthy of
the most noble and devoted affection. Ah! it is since my heart is
opened anew to all the delights of love, since I am predisposed to
tender emotions, that I feel more vividly the loss of my daughter."
"Nothing can be plainer, my lord; and, pardon the comparison, but, in
the same manner as certain men are joyous and benevolent in their
intoxication, you are good and generous in your love."
"Yet my hatred of the wicked is also become deep; my aversion to Sarah
increases, doubtless with my grief for the death of my child. I
imagine that this bad mother has neglected her; that her ambitious
hopes once ruined by my marriage, the countess, in her selfish
egotism, has abandoned our child to mercenary hands, and that my
daughter perhaps died from want of care. It is also my fault; I did
not then know the extent of the sacred duties of paternity. When the
true character of Sarah was suddenly revealed to me, I should have at
once taken my daughter from her, to watch over her with love and
solicitude. I ought to have foreseen that the countess could never be
more than an unnatural mother. It is my fault, my fault!"
"Grief causes your highness to err. Could you, after such a fatal
event had happened, defer for one day the long journey imposed on
"As an expiation! You are right, my friend," said Rudolph,
"Have you heard anything from the countess since my departure, my
"No: since her infamous accusations, which twice came near proving the
ruin of Madame d'Harville, I have no news of her. Her presence here
annoys me; it seems that my evil spirit is near me, that some new
misfortune threatens me."
"Patience, your highness, patience. Happily, Germany is interdicted
for her, and Germany expects us."
"Yes; we will soon depart. At least, during my short stay at Paris I
shall have accomplished a sacred duty: I shall have made some steps
more in the worthy path which an august and merciful will pointed out
to me for my redemption. As soon as the son of Madame George shall be
restored to her arms, innocent and free; as soon as Jacques Ferrand
shall be convicted and punished for his crimes; as soon as I shall be
assured of the future comforts of all the honest and industrious
creatures who, by their resignation, their courage, and their probity,
have deserved my interest, we will return to Germany--my journey will
not have been fruitless."
"Above all, if you succeed in unmasking that abominable Jacques
Ferrand, the corner-stone of so many crimes."
"Although the end justifies the means, and scruples should have no
weight as regards this scoundrel, sometimes I regret having employed
Cecily in this just and avenging reparation."
"She ought to arrive soon."
"She has arrived."
"Yes; I did not wish to see her. De Graun has given her very detailed
instructions; she has promised to conform to them."
"Will she keep this promise?"
"Everything seems to promise it--the hope of a mitigation of her
punishment, and the fear of being sent immediately back to Germany;
for De Graun has her well watched; at the slightest misstep he will
demand her of the government."
"It is just. She has arrived like an escaped convict: when they know
what crimes caused her perpetual imprisonment, they would give her up
"Besides, De Graun was almost alarmed at the sagacity with which
Cecily comprehended, or rather, guessed the part, inflaming and yet
platonic, she was to play at the notary's.
"But can she be introduced to him as early as you wish, through Mrs.
Pipelet? People of the species of Jacques Ferrand are so suspicious."
"I had, with reason, counted on the appearance of Cecily to combat and
conquer this suspicion."
"Has he already seen her?"
"Yesterday. From the account given by Mrs. Pipelet, I do not doubt but
that he was fascinated by the Creole; he took her at once into his
"Come, my lord, our game is won."
"I hope so; a ferocious cupidity and a savage thirst have led the
executioner of Louise Morel to the most frightful misdeeds. It is in
them that he will find the punishment of his crimes. A punishment
which will not be barren for his victims; for you see the aim of all
the efforts of the Creole."
"Cecily! Never did greater depravity, never a more dangerous
corruption, never a blacker soul serve to the accomplishment of a
project of higher morality, or of a more equitable end; and David, my
"He approves of all. With all the contempt and horror which he has for
this creature, he only sees in her the instrument of a just vengeance.
'If this cursed woman can ever merit any compassion after all the
injury she has done me,' said he to me, 'it will be in devoting
herself to the punishment of this scoundrel, for whom she must be an
exterminating demon.'" A servant having tapped at the door, Murphy
went out, and returned, bringing in two letters, one of which seemed
intended for Rudolph.
"It is a line from Madame George!" cried he, reading it rapidly.
"No more doubt," cried Rudolph, after having read the letter; "another
mysterious plot. The same evening on which the poor child disappeared,
at the moment Madame George was about to inform me of the event, a
man, whom she did not know, arrived express on horseback, came to her,
as from me, to reassure her, saying I was informed of the sudden
departure of Fleur-de-Marie, and that some day I would bring her back
to the farm. Notwithstanding this notice, Madame George, uneasy at my
silence respecting her _protegee_ cannot, she writes me, resist
her desire to have some news of her cherished daughter, as she calls
the poor child."
"This is strange, my lord."
"For what end should she have been carried off?"
"My lord," said Murphy, suddenly, "the Countess M'Gregor is no
stranger to this affair."
"Sarah? What makes you think so?"
"Compare this with her denunciations to Madame d'Harville."
"You are right," cried Rudolph, a new light bursting upon him; it's
evident: I comprehend now; yes, always the same calculation. The
countess persists in believing, that by succeeding in breaking every
tie of affection, she will make me feel the want of her. This is as
odious as useless. Yet such an unworthy prosecution must have an end.
It is not only against me, but against all who merit respect,
interest, and pity, that this woman directs her attacks. You will send
M. de Graun at once, officially, to the countess; he will declare to
her that I am advised of the part she has taken in the abduction of
Fleur-de-Marie, and that if she does not give me the necessary
information, so that I can recover this unhappy child, I shall act
without pity, and then it is to justice M. de Graun must address
"From the letter of Madame d'Harville, the Goualeuse must be confined
at Saint Lazare."
"Yes, but Rigolette affirms that she saw her free, coming out of this
prison. There is a mystery to be cleared up."
"I will go at once and give your highness's orders to Baron de Graun;
but allow me to open this letter; it is from my correspondent at
Marseilles, to whom I recommended the Chourineur, to facilitate the
passage of the poor fellow to Algiers."
"Well! has he gone?"
"Here is something singular."
"What is it?"
"After having waited at Marseilles a long time for a vessel to depart
for Algiers, the Chourineur, who seemed every day more sad and
thoughtful, suddenly declared, the day being fixed for his departure,
that he preferred to return to Paris."
"Although my correspondent had, as was agreed upon, placed a
considerable sum of money at the disposal of the Chourineur, he only
took what was absolutely necessary for him to return to Paris, where
he will soon arrive, as they write me."
"Then he will explain to us himself why he has changed his mind, but
send De Graun at once to the Countess M'Gregor, and go yourself to
Saint Lazare to gain some information concerning Fleur-de-Marie." In
an hour's time the Baron de Graun returned from the countess's.
Notwithstanding his habitual and official _sang froid_, the
diplomatist seemed troubled; hardly had the usher announced him, than
Rudolph remarked his paleness. "Well! De Graun, what is the matter?
have you seen her?"
"Oh! my lord."
"What is it?"
"Will your royal highness pardon me for informing you so suddenly of
an event so fatal, so unlooked for, so--
"The countess is dead?"
"No, my lord, but her life is despaired of; she has been stabbed with
"Oh! it is frightful!" cried Rudolph, touched with pity,
notwithstanding his aversion to Sarah. "Who has committed this crime?"
"No one knows, my lord; the murder was accompanied by robbery; some
one entered the apartment and carried off a large quantity of jewels."
"And how is she now?"
"Her life is almost despaired of, my lord; she has not yet recovered
her consciousness. Her brother is in a state of distraction."
"You must go every day to inquire after her, my dear De Graun."
At this moment Murphy returned from Saint Lazare.
"Learn sad news!" said Rudolph to him; "the countess has been wounded!
her life is in great danger."
"Oh! my lord; although she is very culpable, yet I cannot but pity
"Yes; such an end would be frightful! And the Goualeuse?"
"Set at liberty yesterday, my lord, supposed by the intervention of
"But it is impossible! Madame d'Harville begs me, on the contrary, to
make the necessary arrangements to get her out of prison."
"Doubtless; and yet, an aged woman, of respectable, appearance, came
to Saint Lazare, bringing the order to set Fleur-de-Marie at liberty.
Both have left the prison."
"This is what Rigolette told me; but this aged woman, who is she?
where have they gone to? what is this new mystery? The countess alone
can enlighten us; and she is in a state to give us no information. May
she not carry this secret with her to the grave?"
"But her brother, Thomas Seyton, could certainly throw some light upon
the affair. He has always been her adviser."
"His sister is dying; some new plot is on foot; he will not speak;
but," said Rudolph, reflecting, "we must find out the name of the
person who applied for her release; thus we can learn something."
"Yes, my lord."
"Try, then, to know and see this person as soon as possible, my dear
De Graun; if you do not succeed, put your M. Badinot on the trail;
spare nothing to discover the poor child."
"Your highness may count on my zeal."
"My lord," said Murphy, "it is, perhaps, as well that the Chourineur
returns; we may need his services for these researches."
"You are right; and now I am impatient to see arrive at Paris my brave
deliverer, the gallant, 'Slasher,' for I shall never forget that to
him I owe my life."
* * * * * * *
Forced to extend the unfoldings of the evil and good machinations of
the Grand-Duke Rudolph and his enemies into another volume, we do so,
promising that even more singular characters, even more striking
actions and engaging scenes, will be found in "Part Third: Night."