“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 unknown handwriting, and in which Madame de Lamotte’s reputation was attacked with a kind of would-be reticence, which hinted that she was an unfaithful wife and that in this lay the cause of her long absence. Her husband did not believe this anonymous denunciation, but the fate of the two beings dearest to him seemed shrouded in so much obscurity that he could delay no longer, and started for Paris.
His resolution not to accompany Derues had saved his life. The latter could not carry out his culminating crime at Buisson-Souef; it was only in Paris that his victims would disappear without his being called to account. Obliged to leave hold of his prey, he endeavoured to bewilder him in a labyrinth where all trace of truth might be lost. Already, as he had arranged beforehand, he had called calumny to his help, and prepared the audacious lie which was to vindicate himself should an accusation fall upon his head. He had hoped that Monsieur de Lamotte would fall defenceless into his hands; but now a careful examination of his position, showing the impossibility of avoiding an explanation had become inevitable, made him change all his plans, and compelled him to devise an infernal plot, so skilfully laid that it bid fair to defeat all human sagacity.
Monsieur de Lamotte arrived in Paris early in March. Chance decided that he should lodge in the rue de la Mortellerie, in a house not far from the one where his wife’s body lay buried. He went to see Derues, hoping to surprise 佛山桑拿888网 him, and determined to make him speak, but found he was not at home. Madame Derues, whether acting with the discretion of an accomplice or really ignorant of her husband’s proceedings, could not say where he was likely to be found. She said that he told her nothing about his actions, and that Monsieur de Lamotte must have observed during their stay at Buisson (which was true) that she never questioned him, but obeyed his wishes in everything; and that he had now gone away without saying where he was going. She acknowledged that Madame de Lamotte had lodged with them for six weeks, and that she knew that lady had been at Versailles, but since then she had heard nothing. All Monsieur de Lamotte’s questions, his entreaties, prayers, or threats, obtained no other answer. He went to the lawyer in the rue de Paon, to the schoolmaster, 佛山南海区桑拿娱乐会所 and found the same uncertainty, the same ignorance. His wife and his son had gone to Versailles, there the clue ended which ought to guide his investigations. He went to this town; no one could give him any information, the very name of Lamotte was unknown. He returned to Paris, questioned and examined the people of the quarter, the proprietor of the Hotel de France, where his wife had stayed on her former visit; at length, wearied with useless efforts, he implored help from justice. Then his complaints ceased; he was advised to maintain a prudent silence, and to await Derues’ return.
The latter thoroughly understood that, having failed to dissipate Monsieur de Lamotte’s fears, there was no longer an instant to lose, and that the pretended private contract of February 12th would not of itself prove the existence of Madame 佛山桑拿论坛蒲友 de Lamotte. This is how he employed the time spent by the unhappy husband in fruitless investigation.
On March 12th, a woman, her face hidden in the hood of her cloak, or “Therese,” as it was then called, appeared in the office of Maitre N——-, a notary at Lyons. She gave her name as Marie Francoise Perffier, wife of Monsieur Saint-Faust de Lamotte, but separated, as to goods and estate, from him. She caused a deed to be drawn up, authorising her husband to receive the arrears of thirty thousand livres remaining from the price of the estate of Buisson-Souef, situated near Villeneuve-le-Roi-lez-Sens. The deed was drawn up and signed by Madame de Lamotte, by the notary, and one of his colleagues.
This woman was Derues. If we remember that he only arrived at Buisson February 28th, and remained there for some days, it becomes 佛山南海桑拿体验 difficult to understand how at that period so long a journey as that from Paris to Lyons could have been accomplished with such rapidity. Fear must have given him wings. We will now explain what use he intended to make of it, and what fable, a masterpiece of cunning and of lies, he had invented.
On his arrival in Paris he found a summons to appear before the magistrate of police. He expected this, and appeared quite tranquil, ready to answer any questions. Monsieur de Lamotte was present. It was a formal examination, and the magistrate first asked why he had left Paris.
“Monsieur,” replied Derues, “I have nothing to hide, and none of my actions need fear the daylight, but before replying, I should like to understand my position. As a domiciled citizen I have a right to require this. Will you kindly inform me why I have been 佛山桑拿女qq电话 summoned to appear before you, whether on account of anything personal to myself, or simply to give information as to something which may be within my knowledge?”
“You are acquainted with this gentleman, and cannot therefore be ignorant of the cause of the present inquiry.”
“I am, nevertheless, quite in ignorance of it.”
“Be good enough to answer my question. Why did you leave Paris? And where have you been?”
“I was absent for business reasons.”
“I shall say no more.”
“Take care! you have incurred serious suspicions, and silence will not tend to clear you.”
Derues hung down his head with an air of resignation; and Monsieur de Lamotte, seeing in this attitude a silent confession of crime, exclaimed, “Wretched man! what have you done with my wife and my son?”
“Your son!—” said Derues slowly and with peculiar emphasis. He again cast down his eyes.
The magistrate conducting the inquiry was struck by the expression of Derues’ countenance and by this half answer, which appeared to hide a mystery and to aim at diverting attention by offering a bait to curiosity. He might have stopped Derues at the moment when he sought to plunge into a tortuous argument, and compelled him to answer with the same clearness and decision which distinguished Monsieur de Lamotte’s question; but he reflected that the latter’s inquiries, unforeseen, hasty, and passionate, were perhaps more likely to disconcert a prepared defence than cooler and more skilful tactics. He therefore changed his plans, contenting “himself for the moment with the part of an observer only, and watching a duel between two fairly matched antagonists.
“I require: you to tell me what has become of them,” repeated Monsieur de Lamotte. “I have been to Versailles, you assured me they were there.”
“And I told you the truth, monsieur.”
“No one has seen them, no one knows them; every trace is lost. Your Honour, this man must be compelled to answer, he must say what has become of my wife and son!”
“I excuse your anxiety, I understand your trouble, but why appeal to me? Why am I supposed to know what may have happened to them?”
“Because I confided them to your care.”
“As a friend, yes, I agree. Yes, it is quite true that last December I received a letter from you informing me of the impending arrival of your wife and son. I received them in my own house, and showed them the same hospitality which I had received from you. I saw them both, your son often, your wife every day, until the day she left me to go to Versailles. Yes, I also took Edouard to his mother, who was negotiating an appointment for him. I have already told you all this, and I repeat it because it is the truth. You believed me then: why do you not believe me now? Why has what I say become strange and incredible? If your wife and your son have disappeared, am I responsible? Did you transmit your authority to me? And now, in what manner are you thus calling me to account? Is it to the friend who might have pitied, who might have aided your search, that you thus address yourself? Have you come to confide in me, to ask for advice, for consolation? No, you accuse me; very well! then I refuse to speak, because, having no proofs, you yet accuse an honest man; because your fears, whether real or imaginary, do not excuse you for casting, I know not what odious suspicions, on a blameless reputation, because I have the right to be offended. Monsieur” he continued, turning to the magistrate, “I believe you will appreciate my moderation, and will allow me to retire. If charges are brought against me, I am quite
ready to meet them, and to show what they are really worth. I shall remain in Paris, I have now no business which requires my presence elsewhere.”
He emphasised these last words, evidently intending to draw attention to them. It did not escape the magistrate, who inquired—
“What do you mean by that?”
“Nothing beyond my words, your Honour, Have I your permission to retire?”
“No, remain; you are pretending not to understand.”
“I do not understand these insinuations so covertly made.”
Monsieur de Lamotte rose, exclaiming—
“Insinuations! What more can I say to compel you to answer? My wife and son have disappeared. It is untrue that, as you pretend, they have been at Versailles. You deceived me at Buisson-Souef, just as you are deceiving me now, as you are endeavouring to deceive justice by inventing fresh lies. Where
are they? What has become of them? I am tormented by all the fears possible to a husband and father; I imagine all the most terrible misfortunes, and I accuse you to your face of having caused their death! Is this sufficient, or do you still accuse me of covert insinuations?”
Derues turned to the magistrate. “Is this charge enough to place me in the position of a criminal if I do not give a satisfactory explanation?”
“Certainly; you should have thought of that sooner.”
“Then,” he continued, addressing Monsieur de Lamotte, “I understand you persist in this odious accusation?”
“I certainly persist in it.”
“You have forgotten our friendship, broken all bonds between us: I am in your eyes only a miserable assassin? You consider my silence as guilty, you will ruin me if I do not speak?”
“It is true.”