The Room in the Dragon Volant Part 24

The result was that he made terms for himself, became an informer, and concerted with the police this visit made to the Chateau de la Carque at the critical moment when every measure had been completed that was necessary to construct a perfect case against his guilty accomplices.

I need not describe the minute industry or forethought with which the police agents collected all the details necessary to support the case.

They had brought an able physician, who, even had Planard failed, would have supplied the necessary medical evidence.

My trip to Paris, you will believe, had not turned out quite so agreeably as I had antic.i.p.ated. I was the princ.i.p.al witness for the prosecution in this _cause celebre_, with all the _agremens_ that attend that enviable position. Having had an escape, as my friend Whistlewick said, "with a squeak" for my life, I innocently fancied that I should have been an object of considerable interest to Parisian society; but, a good deal to my mortification, I discovered that I was the object of a good-natured but contemptuous merriment. I was a _balourd, a benet, un ane_, and figured even in caricatures. I became a sort of public character, a dignity,

"Unto which I was not born,"

and from which I fled as soon as I conveniently could, without even paying my friend, the Marquis d'Harmonville, a visit at his hospitable chateau.

The Marquis escaped scot-free. His accomplice, the Count, was executed.

The fair Eugenie, under extenuating circ.u.mstances--consisting, so far as I could discover of her good looks--got off for six years' imprisonment.

Colonel Gaillarde recovered some of his brother's money, out of the not very affluent estate of the Count and soi-disant Countess. This, and the execution of the Count, put him in high good humor. So far from insisting on a hostile meeting, he shook me very graciously by the hand, told me that he looked upon the wound on his head, inflicted by the k.n.o.b of my stick, as having been received in an honorable though irregular duel, in which he had no disadvantage or unfairness to complain of.

I think I have only two additional details to mention. The bricks discovered in the room with the coffin, had been packed in it, in straw, to supply the weight of a dead body, and to prevent the suspicions and contradictions that might have been excited by the arrival of an empty coffin at the chateau.

Secondly, the Countess's magnificent brilliants were examined by a lapidary, and p.r.o.nounced to be worth about five pounds to a tragedy queen who happened to be in want of a suite of paste.

The Countess had figured some years before as one of the cleverest actresses on the minor stage of Paris, where she had been picked up by the Count and used as his princ.i.p.al accomplice.

She it was who, admirably disguised, had rifled my papers in the carriage on my memorable night-journey to Paris. She also had figured as the interpreting magician of the palanquin at the ball at Versailles. So far as I was affected by that elaborate mystification it was intended to re-animate my interest, which, they feared, might flag in the beautiful Countess. It had its design and action upon other intended victims also; but of them there is, at present, no need to speak. The introduction of a real corpse--procured from a person who supplied the Parisian anatomists--involved no real danger, while it heightened the mystery and kept the prophet alive in the gossip of the town and in the thoughts of the noodles with whom he had conferred.

I divided the remainder of the summer and autumn between Switzerland and Italy.

As the well-worn phrase goes, I was a sadder if not a wiser man. A great deal of the horrible impression left upon my mind was due, of course, to the mere action of nerves and brain. But serious feelings of another and deeper kind remained. My afterlife was ultimately formed by the shock I had then received. Those impressions led me--but not till after many years--to happier though not less serious thoughts; and I have deep reason to be thankful to the all-merciful Ruler of events for an early and terrible lesson in the ways of sin.

_Other books by J. Sheridan LeFanu_

The c.o.c.k and Anchor

Torlogh O'Brien

The Home by the Churchyard

Uncle Silas

Checkmate

Carmilla

The Wyvern Mystery

Guy Deverell

Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery

The Chronicles of Golden Friars

In a Gla.s.s Darkly

The Purcell Papers

The Watcher and Other Weird Stories

A Chronicle of Golden Friars and Other Stories

Madam Crowl's Ghost and Other Tales of Mystery

Green Tea and Other Stones

Sheridan LeFanu: The Diabolic Genius

Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu

The Best Horror Stories

The Vampire Lovers and Other Stories

Ghost Stories and Mysteries

The Hours After Midnight

J.S. LeFanu: Ghost Stories and Mysteries

Ghost and Horror Stones

Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories

Carmilla and Other Cla.s.sic Tales of Mystery

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