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Title: The Double Life
Author: Leroux, Gaston
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Double Life" ***

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THE DOUBLE LIFE

BY GASTON LEROUX

Author of “The Mystery of the Yellow Room”

JOHN E. KEARNEY Forty-Three West Twenty-Seventh Street New York

Copyright, 1909, by JOHN E. KEARNEY



HISTORICAL PREFACE


|I WAS passing through the waiting-room of the _Morning Journal_ on a
certain evening last year when my attention was drawn to a man seated
in a corner. He was dressed in black and his appearance was that of
the deepest dejection. In fact upon his face I read the most melancholy
despair.

He was not weeping, his eyes were dry and almost expressionless and
received the impression of exterior objects like motionless ice. He had
placed upon his knees a small oaken chest, ornamented with ironwork.
His hands were crossed over this object and hung down, accentuating his
dejected appearance.

An attendant told me that he had been awaiting my arrival there three
long hours without a movement, without so much as a sigh. I went towards
him, and announcing myself, I invited him to enter my office. I showed
him a seat, but instead of taking it he came straight to my writing-desk
and placed the little oaken chest on it. “Sir, this chest belongs to
you,” said he, and his voice seemed far away and indistinct. “My
friend, M. Théophraste Longuet, commissioned me to bring it to you.
Take it, sir, and believe me, your servant.” As he spoke the man bowed
and made a motion toward the door. I stopped him, however, and said:
“Why, do not go, I cannot receive this box without a knowledge of its
contents.” He replied: “Sir, I do not know what it contains, it is
locked and its key is lost. You might have to break it open to find out
the contents.” I replied: “Then at least I would like to know to
whom I am indebted for bringing it to me.”

“My friend, M. Théophraste Longuet, called me Adolphe,” replied
the man, in a voice so melancholy that it seemed to grow more faint and
indistinct with each syllable.

“Well, if M. Longuet had brought me the chest himself, he would most
certainly have told me what it contains; I expect that M. Longuet,
himself.”

“I also, sir,” said the man, “but M. Théophraste Longuet is dead,
and I am his sole executor.”

By this time he had edged his way to the door, and having said these
words, he opened the door and departed. I was taken back by this sudden
move and stood staring at the door, then at the chest. Collecting myself
I hastily followed the man, but could find no trace of him... he had
disappeared.

Opening the chest I found it contained a bundle of papers, which at
first I regarded with indifference, but which I presently began
to examine with greater interest. The deeper I penetrated the more
mysterious they appeared to be and the more unexpected were the
adventures revealed. In fact, so strange did they seem that I at first
could not believe my intelligence, and if the proof had not been in
front of me I never would have been convinced of their reality.

It was some time before I could bring myself to realize my position
regarding these papers. M. Théophraste Longuet had made me heir to this
chest and to the mysteries lying therein. In fact, the secrets of his
life.

These papers were written in the form of memoirs and were voluminous.
They related with the minutest detail, all the incidents of an
exceptionally dramatic existence. M. Théophraste Longuet had by the
discovery of a document two centuries old acquired the proof that Louis
Dominique Cartouche, the most cunning criminal in the annals of French
crime, and he, Théophraste, were one and the same person. This was
indeed a most startling discovery and valuable, for it also put me on
the track of the treasures of the famous Cartouche.

He had frequently confided in me facts about his peculiar life, but an
untimely death, certain terrible events related in these documents,
had prevented him from telling me all. We had been great friends. I had
written for a journal he had called his “favorite organ.” He
had chosen me as his companion and confidant from among many other
journalists, not because of any superiority of intellect, but rather,
as he used to say, “because a reliable level-headed friend is worth
twenty acquaintances, and he found me reliable.” There was much
significance in this word, “level-headed,” as you will learn as you
read this narrative.

Having thoroughly examined the papers, I immediately took them to my
manager, who was a keen business man. He did not hesitate for a moment
to find the “Treasures of Cartouche” a valuable piece for his paper,
and it is now a matter of common knowledge how curiously the sum of
twenty-five thousand francs, divided into seven sums, were hidden in and
around Paris, and how the author of these lines in the history of the
chest which appeared in print in the month of October, in the year 1903,
* touched lightly upon the story found therein.

* This date is very important, for it established the fact that
my authentic history of Cartouche had appeared before Mr. Frank
Brentano’s book, and that one two books the day after that of Mr.
Maurice Bernard.

I have believed it my duty toward the public, and also to the memory of
Théophraste Longuet, to publish in volume the authentic history of the
reincarnation of Cartouche, written exclusively from the documents found
in the little oaken chest, a plain narrative, unembellished by all that
which I, poor journalist, had added for the chance reader of my journal.

The reader will find more than a mere treasure. The documents are of
the greatest literary value, inasmuch as they contain proof of things
hitherto only dreamt of. It is certain that many people imagining
themselves of superior intellect will doubt and possibly scoff at many
of these mysteries.

The oaken chest contained the secret of the tomb; it also contained
the history of the Talpa people written by no less an authority than M.
Milfroid, Commissioner of Police, who remained for three weeks with M.
Théophraste Longuet in the subterranean home of those monsters. This
last infernal comedy would most certainly have met with incredulity had
not it been vented by one of the most honest and intellectual of Police
Commissioners. M. Milfroid was a most noble and accomplished character,
and he could place music, painting, sculptors among his accomplishments.

Now before closing this preface I must warn my readers that they
will find many strange things in the narrative, weird and almost
supernatural. And I would say that unless he is possessed with
great level-headedness, he must not read the secrets of the Life of
Théophraste Longuet.



CHAPTER PAGE

Historical Preface........................ 5

I M. Théophraste Longuet Wishes to Inform Himself, and Visits
Historical Monuments.............................. 15

II An Explanation from Théophraste------- 26

III A Search and a Discovery................ 34

IV Some Philosophy and a Song.............. 48

V Théophraste Remembers Himself......... 57

VI M. Lecamus Expresses Himself............ 64

VII Théophraste and His Black Plume_______ 68

VIII An Appeal for Help...................... 76

IX The Portrait............................ 84

X Cartouche’s Past........................ 94

XI Signor Appears.......................... 99

XII Théophraste’s Memory is Refreshed.. 112

XIII The Cat................................ 125

XIV Petito Loses His Ears.................. 131

XV Adolphe Consulted...................... 140

XVI On Private Ground...................... 146

XVII They Decide to Kill.................... 161

XVIII The Operation.......................... 166

XIX The Torture Chamber.................... 177

XX In the Charnel House................... 188

XXI Results of the Operation............... 197

XXII Visits to a Butcher’s Shop............ 201

XXIII A Newspaper Report..................... 207

XXIV The Murder in the Rue Guenegaud... 215



CHAPTER PAGE

XXV The Calf’s Revenge.............. 221

XXVI Théophraste Again Hears of His

Treasures...................... 228

XXVII The Express Train’s Disappearance 234

XXVIII Not to be Explained.............. 240

XXIX M. Mifroid Recognizes Cartouche.. 244

XXX M. Mifroid’s Theory................ 247

XXXI Lost in the Catacombs.............. 253

XXXII A Dissertation on Fish............. 264

XXXIII The Meeting of the Talfa........ 269

XXXIV M. Mifroid Performs on the Stage.. 276

XXXV A New Trade...................... 280

XXXVI A Robber Is Caught................. 284

XXXVII The Escape from the Catacombs..... 287

XXXVIII An Old Friend...................... 293

XXXIX The Final Tragedy................... 296

THE DOUBLE LIFE



CHAPTER I

_M. Théophraste Longuet Wishes to Inform Him-self and Visits Historical
Monuments_


|THE strange adventures of M. Théophraste Longuet, which ended so
tragically, originated in a visit to the prison of the Conciergerie, on
the 28th of June, 1899. Therefore this history is modern; but the writer
would say that, having read and examined all the papers and writings
of M. Théophraste Longuet, its recentness does not detract from its
sensational character.

When M. Longuet rang the bell of the Conciergerie he was accompanied
by his wife, Marceline, and M. Adolphe Lecamus. The latter was a close
friend. It was his physique that had attracted M. Longuet. He was not
handsome, but was tall and well built, and every movement showed that
strength which M. Longuet lacked. His forehead was broad and convex, his
eyebrows were heavy and straight. He had a habit of every now and
then lifting them gracefully to express his disdain of others and
his confidence in himself. His grey eyes twinkled under near-sighted
spectacles, and the straight nose, the proud arch of the underlip,
surmounted by a dark, flowing mustache, the square outline of his chin
and his amaranthine complexion, all combined to accentuate his strong
appearance.

He had been employed as postmaster at Turin, and had traveled
considerably. He had crossed the sea. This was also an attraction to M.
Longuet, who had never crossed anything, unless it was the Seine.

M. Longuet had been a rubber stamp manufacturer, but had made sufficient
money to retire at an early age. He was the antithesis of Adolphe in
build and character. His face showed no marked intelligence, and his
slight build lent almost insignificance to his appearance. He had,
however, imagination, and he used to laughingly say to Adolphe: “Even
if I haven’t traveled, I run just as much risk in walking the streets
of Paris as one who crosses the ocean in ships. Might not houses
collapse or pots of flowers fall on one’s head?” Thus he lived a
monotonous existence, relieved only by the morbid workings of his mind.

Before his retirement he had worked hard and had little time to study,
therefore, now he had leisure, it occurred to him to occupy his time in
improving his mind. It was with this intention that we find him visiting
the various buildings of historic interest around Paris.

On ringing the bell of the Conciergerie the iron door turned heavily
on its hinges. A warden shaking the keys demanded of Théophraste his
permit. He had anticipated this and had received it that morning from
the Prefect of Police. He tendered it with satisfaction, looking around
at his companion with the confidence of anticipations realized.

The gate-keeper turned the little company over to the Chief Warden, who
was passing at the time. Marceline was much impressed, and as she leaned
on Adolphe’s arm, thought of Marie Antoinette’s dungeon, the Grevin
Museum, and all the mysteries of this famous prison. The Chief Warden
said: “Are you French?” to which Théophraste replied, laughingly,
for he was typically French: “Do we look like English people?”

“This is the first time,” explained the Chief Warden, “that any
French people have asked permission to visit the Conciergerie. French
people are indifferent to things of interest in their own country.”
“They are wrong, sir,” replied Théophraste, wiping his spectacles.
“In the monuments of the past we have foundations of the future.”
This idea rather pleased him, and he looked for approval to Adolphe and
Marceline. He continued following the Warden. “As for me, I am an old
Parisian and would have visited all these places of interest long ago
but for my work. I have worked hard at my trade and the only leisure I
got was when I went to bed. That time is over now, sir, and now is the
time for me to educate myself,” and he struck the century-old pavement
with the end of his green umbrella.

Passing a small door and a large wicket, they descended some steps and
were in the guard-room. The first thing to draw attention made Adolphe
laugh, Marceline blush, and Théophraste turn in disgust. It was the
capital of a Gothic column carved to symbolize the story of Abelard and
Heloise. Abelard was pleading with the Carion Fulbert for his clemency,
while the latter was taking the child from Heloise.

“It is strange,” said M. Longuet, “that in the name of art the
Government should tolerate such obscenities. That capital is a disgrace
to the Conciergerie and should be removed.” M. Lecamus did not agree,
and said: “Many things are excusable in art if they are done in the
right spirit.”

However, the subject was dropped and they were soon interested in other
parts of these old historic buildings. The Chief Warden conducted them
through the Tower of Cæsar, into the Silver Tower, or Tower of Bon
Bee. They thought of the thousand of illustrious prisoners who had been
incarcerated in prison for years. Marceline could not keep from thinking
of the martyred Marie Antoinette, of Elizabeth, and the little Dauphin,
and of the waxen gendarmes in the museum, who watched over the Royal
family. All this impressed her, and her mind was continually carried
back to those stirring times. The Silver Tower had been transformed into
a record office, and the modern writing desks were in striking contrast
to the old medieval walls. Returning through the guard-room, they
directed their steps towards the Bon Bee Tower. Théophraste had read
about this tower and imagined he knew it well, so wishing to appear well
informed, asked of the Warden, “Is it not there, sir, that the last
meal of the Girondists was served? You ought certainly to tell us
exactly where to find the table, and also the place which Camille des
Moulins occupied.” The Warden replied that the Environdists had dined
in the chapel and that they would soon visit it.

“I wish to know Camille des Moulins’ place,” said Théophraste,
“because he was a friend of mine.”

“And mine also,” said Marceline, with a look towards Adolphe, which
seemed to say, “Not as much as you, Adolphe.”

But Adolphe laughed and said Camille was not a Girondist, he was a
Franciscan friar, a friend of Danton, a Septembrian.

Théophraste was vexed, and Marceline protested that if he had been
anything of the sort Lucille would not have married him. Adolphe did
not insist, but as they had by now reached the chamber of torture, he
feigned condescendingly to be interested in the labels which adorned the
drawers decorating the walls, “Hops,” “Cinnamon,” “Spice,”
etc.

“Here is the room in question. They have transformed it into the
doctor’s store-room.”

“It is just as well, perhaps,” said Théophraste, “but not so
impressive.”

Adolphe and Marceline were of the same opinion. They were not at all
impressed. Here was the famous torture chamber. They expected something
else. They were disillusioned. Outside, when viewed from the court of
the Sundial, the formidable aspect of those old feudal towers, the last
vestige of the palace of the French monarchy, momentarily brought fear
and awe to their minds. That prison had stood a thousand years, had
known so many tragedies, death rattles, legendary miseries, hidden
secrets. It seemed that one only had to step inside to find an
inquisition court in some dark corner, damp and funereal. Here seemed
to be all the tragedies of the history of Paris, as immortal as the very
walls.

What a disillusion here in these towers with a little plaster and paint
they had made the office of the Director of Records, the store-room of
the prison doctor. One could carouse here where once the hangman held
sway. One could laugh where only the cries of the tortured were heard.

Now there would have been nothing unusual about this visit to the
Conciergerie but for a very extraordinary incident which occurred after
the party had left the torture chamber. The incident was weird and
inexplicable, and while I read M. Longuet’s own description of it, I
confess I found it impossible to believe. Therefore I went to the
Chief Warden, who had shown the party round the prison, and asked for
his account of the incident.

He gave it to me in the following words:

Sir, the affair passed as usual, and the lady, the two gentlemen and I
visited the kitchen of St. Louis, which is now used as a store-house for
plaster. We proceeded towards the dungeon of Marie Antoinette, which is
now the chapel. On the way I showed them the crucifix, before which she
prayed before mounting the cart which is now in the Director’s room.
I told the man with the green umbrella that we had been obliged to
transfer the Queen’s arm-chair to the Director’s room, because the
English visitors had carried away pieces from it as souvenirs. We had
by this time arrived at the end of the Street of Paris—you know the
street that leads from Paris to the Conciergerie. We passed through that
frightfully dark passage, where we found the grating behind which they
cut off the hair of the women before execution. You know that it is
the very same grating. It is a passage where never a ray of sunlight
penetrates. Marie Antoinette walked through that passage on the day of
her death. It is there that the old Conciergerie stands just as it was
hundreds of years ago.

I was describing the Street of Paris, when suddenly the man with the
green umbrella cried out in a voice so unlike the previous voice, so
strangely that the other gentleman and lady looked startled: “Zounds,
it is the walk of the Straw Dealers.” He said it in a weird tone and
his whole attitude was changed. He used the expression, zounds, twice. I
told him he was mistaken, that the walk of the Straw Dealers is what
we call to-day the Street of Paris. He answered me in the same strange
voice: “Zounds, you cannot tell me that! I have lain there on that
straw like the others!” I remarked to him, smilingly, although not
without a feeling of fear, that no one had lain on that straw in the
alley of the Straw Dealers for more than two hundred years.

He was just about to answer me when his wife intervened. “What are you
saying, Théophraste?” said she. “Do you wish to teach Monsieur his
business? You have never been to the Conciergerie before.” Then he
said in his natural voice, the voice by which I had known him at first:
“That is so, I have never been here before.”

I could not understand then at all, but thought the incident closed,
when he did something stranger still.

We visited the Queen’s Dungeon, Robespierre’s Dungeon, the Chapel
of the Girondists, and that little gate, which is still the same as when
the unfortunate prisoners, called the Septembrians, leaped over it to be
massacred in the court. We were now in the Street of Paris. There was
a little stairway on the left which we did not descend. It led to the
cellars which I did not deem necessary to show, as it was dark and
difficult of access. The gate at the bottom of this staircase is closed
by a grating which is perhaps a thousand years old—possibly more. The
gentleman, whom they called Adolphe, proceeded with the lady toward the
door leading out of the guard-room, but without saying a word the man
with the green umbrella descended the little staircase. When he was at
the grating he cried out in that strange, weird voice: “Well, where
are you going? It is here.” The gentleman and the lady stopped as if
petrified. The voice was terrible, and nothing in the outward appearance
of the man would make you believe that the voice came from him. In spite
of my fear I ran to the head of the stairs. I was thunderstruck. He
ordered me to open the grating, and I don’t know how I obeyed him. It
was as if I had been hypnotized. I obeyed mechanically. Then when the
grating was opened he disappeared in the darkness of the cellar. Where
had he gone? How could he find his way? Those subterranean passages of
the Conciergerie are plunged in frightful darkness and nobody has been
down there for centuries and centuries.

He had already gone too far for me to stop him. He had hypnotized me. I
stayed about a quarter of an hour at the entrance of that dark hole. His
companions were in the same state as I was. It was impossible to follow
him. Then suddenly we heard his voice, not his first voice, but his
second. I was so startled I had to cling to the grating for support. He
cried out: “It is thou, Simon l’Anvergust.” I could not answer. He
passed near me, and as he passed it seemed to me that he put a scrap of
paper in his jacket pocket. He leaped up the steps with one bound and
rejoined the lady and gentleman. He gave them no explanation. As for
me, I ran to open the door of the prison for them. I wanted to get them
outside. When the wicket was open and the man with the green umbrella
was walking out, without apparent reason he said: “We must avoid the
wheel.” I don’t know what he meant, as there was no carriage near.



CHAPTER II

_An Explanation from Théophraste_


|NOW in reading the last chapter one would immediately think that M.
Longuet had gone mad. What had possessed him? Where did he go? In order
that you might fully understand his peculiar actions I will give you the
extract from his memoirs relating to this incident. He writes:

I am a man of sound body and mind. I am a good citizen and recognize
all the laws. I believe laws are necessary for the proper regulation of
society. I dislike heartily any formalities, and in determining my lines
of conduct I have always chosen the simplest way.

I dislike imaginative people, and the occult has always been repulsive
to me. However, this is not through want of understanding, for
my friend, Adolphe Lecamus, had given himself up to the study of
spiritualism. Whoever teaches spiritualism teaches foolishness, and the
desire to question the spirits of the dead by means of the planchette
seems to me to be beyond belief, it is grotesque. However, I have
assisted at some of Adolphe’s seances which he had given for the
benefit of Marceline and myself. I have even taken a certain part in
them, desiring to prove the absurdity of his theories. My wife and I
once rested our hands on a table for a quarter of an hour waiting for it
to move. Nothing happened, and we laughed heartily at him. However, my
wife was more sympathetic, and was inclined to be a little more serious.
Women are always more susceptible to the occult and ready to believe in
the mysterious. Adolphe bought her books, which she read eagerly, and he
amused himself sometimes by willing her to sleep, by making passes with
his hands and breathing on her eyes. It seemed foolish, and I should not
have allowed it from any one else, but I have always had a liking for
Adolphe, and know that it amuses him. Marceline and he said that I was
a skeptic. However, I am not a skeptic, as a skeptic is one who doubts
all. I believe in progress, but do not believe that one person having an
unnatural influence over another tends towards progress. Therefore I am
not a skeptic, but rather a philosopher.

During his travels Adolphe read a great deal. I have had to work hard
all my life, therefore, while he is an idealist, I am a materialist.

It seems necessary for me to thus describe my character so that it may
be well understood that the happenings of the day before yesterday were
not due to any occult reasons. I visited the prison in just the same
manner as I would go to a store to buy a cravat. I wanted to learn, that
is all. Having sold my business, I have more leisure, and so I said to
myself: “I will visit the interesting places of the city of Paris.”
Fate decreed that the Conciergerie was the first place to be visited. I
do not know whether I really regret it.

At present I am calm and collected and can relate all I remember of what
happened.

While we were in the Towers nothing happened worth recording. I remember
trying to picture to myself in the little room which looked like a
grocery store all the horrors of the place, how the executioners and
their assistants approached the prisoners with their monstrous machines,
how so many illustrious persons were martyred, and all the terrible
griefs and agonies which had been witnessed within these walls. But
the transformation had taken all the romance away, and the labels,
“Senna,” “Hops,” etc., did not inspire imagination. Even the Bon
Bee Tower, also called Bavarde, on account of the terrible cries which
were heard in it, has been changed into offices. However, I must not
complain. These are all the signs of progress and a more enlightened
age.

But we penetrated into that part of the Conciergerie which has changed
little during all these centuries, which had not been spoiled by the
plasterer and in which all the stones could tell their own history; then
it was that a most inexplicable fever took possession of me, and when we
had reached the dark end of the walk of the “Straw Dealers,” I cried
out from my soul, “Zounds! this is the walk of the Straw Dealers.”

I turned around immediately to find out who had uttered these words.
They were all staring at me, and I was convinced that it was myself who
had cried out. It seemed so strange. The voice was not like mine, but it
had emanated from me. Even now it is unaccountable.

The Warden pretended that we had passed the walk of the “Straw
Dealers.” I told him that I knew the place better than he, for I had
lain there on the straw myself. But I had never been in the Conciergerie
before, and yet I was sure of it. It is difficult to explain. While
we walked through the chapel of the Girondists, and the Warden was
explaining the story to us, I played with my umbrella. I tried to appear
natural and collected. Although the things which happened were quite
natural, and not the result of any effort, a cold perspiration seized me
and I shook like a leaf. I remember that I found myself at the bottom
of the stairs, standing before a grating. I was endowed with almost
superhuman strength. Shaking the grating, I called out for the others to
follow. However, the others had gone ahead and did not hear. I called to
the Warden to open the grating. I don’t know what would have happened
if he had not done so, quickly. I was crazy, and yet everything was
natural to me. Truly, I was in a state of great nervous excitement, but
everything was lucid to me. Never before had I seen so clearly as when
in that dark cellar. Never before had I recognized a place so vividly as
when I was down there where I had never been before. My God! I did not
know them, and yet I recognized them.

Without hesitating I groped around, feeling the stones in the dark, and
my feet trod a soil which seemed familiar but which had not been trodden
for centuries. I seemed to know these very stones, forgotten in the
darkness of those cellars. I slid the length of the damp flagstones as
if I had been accustomed to the way. My finger-nails came in contact
with sharp stones in the wall and I counted the seams as I passed. I
knew that if I turned round I would see a certain square light in
the distant gallery, a single ray in all this place where the sun had
forgotten to shine since France’s history had begun. I turned and saw
it, and I felt my heart beat violently.

Here there was a momentary interruption in the writings. M. Longuet,
having explained what had happened to him in that strange hour in the
Conciergerie, was greatly agitated. It was with difficulty he remained
master of his thoughts. It was difficult to follow them; they seemed to
come and go, just leaving faint traces on the paper of the record.

He resumed the pen with feverish hand. Continuing to busy himself with
the subterranean passages, he writes:

It is necessary to pause here as one pauses at the edge of a precipice.
My very thoughts make me shiver!...

And the Bavarde, there it stands. There are the walls which have helped
to make history. It is not on high in the glorious sunlight that the
Bavarde tells its history. It is here in the blackness of the earth.
There are some large iron staples in the wall here. The very chains
of Ravaillac! I recall no more; but towards that ray, the sole ray of
light, as eternal and immovable as the very walls— towards that small
square beam, which since the beginning of things has taken and kept the
shape of a sentinel, I advanced. There was some impelling force which
urged me on. I rushed ahead while the fever was in me and seemed to
intoxicate me. Suddenly I paused, my feet seemed held to the ground and
my fingers ran sliding and pressing the length of the wall. What it was
that impelled my finger, what was the thought, I cannot tell. All at
once I let my umbrella fall, and drawing my pen-knife, began to scrape
steadily between two stones. The dust and cement powdered away easily,
and soon my knife struck something between the stones, and I pulled the
thing out.

This is why I am sure I was not mad. This thing has been before my
eyes. In my most peaceful hours I, Théophraste Longuet, see it in my
writing-desk. It is not I who am mad, but this thing itself! It is a
piece of torn paper, stained. . . a document of which it is easy to tell
the age and calculated to plunge any man into the deepest consternation.

The paper is, as you must know, terribly decayed. The dampness has eaten
into half the words, which seem, on account of their reddish tint, to
have been written with blood.

I took the document to the small ray of light, and on looking it over my
hair seemed to stand on end with horror. _There I could recognize my
own handwriting_, and I give you this precious and mysterious document
clearly translated:

“Dead and buried all his treasures after the Treachery of April
1st. Go, take a look in the barroom! Look at the furnace! Look at the
weathercock! Dig a while and you shall be rich!”



CHAPTER III

_A Search and a Discovery_


|M. ADOLPHE LECAMUS and Marceline thought M. Théophraste’s actions
strange, but they were too much occupied with an affair of their own to
attach very great importance to them. However, M. Théophraste concealed
his anxiety and pretended that the visit to the Conciergerie was quite
a natural occurrence. He had gone down in the cellars just to satisfy
a natural curiosity, not being one of those who make a superficial
inspection of things of interest.

The following day, M. Théophraste, under the pretext of putting his
affairs in order, shut himself up in his office and gave instructions
for nobody to disturb him. Leaning over the balcony he looked out
upon the little square of Anvers and reflected over the happenings
of yesterday. There was nothing in the view to distract him. He was
accustomed to the scene below: nurses pushing perambulators gossiping
over the latest news, and a few professors walking towards the Rollie
College. The Avenue Touraine rang with the shouts of college students
who had come before the lecture hour.

Nothing had changed; the world was just the same. To-day, like
yesterday, or like the day before yesterday. The people were going
to their business just the same. Even Nidine Petito, the wife of the
Italian professor, who lived in the apartment below, was the same. She
began to play the “Carnival of Venice” on the piano just as she did
every day.

Nothing had changed; thus he reflected. On turning round he could see
amongst his papers on the desk, the document. Did it really exist?
He had passed a restless night and was now attributing his strange
adventure to a bad dream—but no, it could not be that, for there was
the paper on his desk, in his own handwriting, and written in blood.
Good God! perhaps it was his own blood. What thoughts, what thoughts!

Théophraste passed his hand over his forehead. He was perspiring and
restless. Suddenly breathing a sigh and slapping his thigh with his
hand, he appeared to have come to a definite resolution, and put the
paper carefully away in his portfolio.

He remembered that Signor Petito, the Italian professor, was an expert
in handwriting and that he had had experience in engraving. He would
take the document to him and ask his opinion. His friend Adolphe was
also interested in graphology, but only in a spiritual way, and so he
would not confide in him. There was already too much mystery in the
affair without mixing it up with spiritualism and mediums.

He had only known the professor to bow to on the stairs, and so
in presenting himself he was introduced. The professor greeted him
cordially, and after the usual formalities, Théophraste broached the
subject of his visit. He produced the paper, and a letter which he
had written some time previously. “Signor Petito,” he commenced,
“having heard of your renown as an expert in handwriting, I would be
grateful to you if you would examine this letter, and this document,
and give me the result of your observations. I may say that there is no
connection between the two papers.”

Théophraste was not in the habit of lying, and blushed redder than a
peony. But Signor Petito was already deeply engrossed in the examining
of the two papers. His scholarly eye looked over one, then the other.
He placed them together, held them up to the light, passed his hand
over the writing, and measured them. Then he laughed, showing his white
teeth.

“Monsieur Longuet,” said he, “it is not necessary for me to keep
you waiting long for a reply. This document is in a very bad condition,
but the specimen of handwriting can still be read. They are in every way
similar to the letter, and I would swear before any tribunal that those
two handwritings have been traced by the same hand.”

Then he entered into details. “A child,” he said, “could not be
mistaken about it.” He pointed out how this duplicate writing was
identically angular. “We call a handwriting angular, Monsieur, when
the hair-strokes which join the bottom of the letters and the separate
letters are at an acute angle to the down-strokes of the letters. Do
you understand? Compare this hook and that one, those hair-strokes
with these others, and all those letters getting larger, larger in both
writing and in equal measure. But what a clear writing, Monsieur; I
have never seen such clear writing before. As clear as if cut with a
knife.”

By this time Théophraste had become white with nervousness. Signor
Petito thought that he was going to faint. However, he arose, picked up
the document and the letter, and having thanked Signor Petito, he went
out.

He wandered the streets for a long time, and at last turning down
a small street, he stood in front of an old door in the Rue Inger.
Entering, he found himself in a narrow, dark passage. A man came out of
a back room, and on recognizing Théophraste, greeted him in a friendly
way. He was wearing a square paper cap, and had on a black gown which
reached down to his feet.

“Good-day, Théophraste, good-day. What happy chance has brought you
here?”

As it had been two years since they had last seen each other they at
first spoke of family matters and other generalities. Ambrose spoke of
his trade of engraving visiting cards. He had been a printer. He had
been a printer in the province, but having put all he had into an
invention for a new paper, he had failed. He was a distant cousin to
Marceline, and when he was deep in financial troubles, Théophraste had
come to his rescue.

Théophraste seated himself on the wicker chair in the small room which
served as a workshop. This room was lighted by a large window reaching
from floor to ceiling.

“Ambrose, you are an expert. No one can approach you in the knowledge
of papers, eh?” “That is not quite true,” said Ambrose, “but I
can judge a good paper.”

“You understand all kinds?”

“All kinds.”

“If some one showed you a piece of paper, could you tell the age of
it?”

“Yes,” said Ambrose, “I could. I have published a treatise on the
water-marks of papers used in France in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries. That study was accepted by the Academy.” “I know, and I
have great respect for your knowledge.”

“Well, the thing is simple. The oldest paper showed a plain, glossy
surface, but soon there appeared wide lines crossed at intervals by
perpendicular lines, both giving the impression of a metal trellis over
which the paste had been spread. From the fourteenth century they used
these as a maker’s mark, and in the end they designed figures in
brass wire, initials, words, emblems of all sorts —these are the
water-marks. Every sheet of water-marked paper tells its tale, and the
year of its make can be detected, but the difficulty is to decipher
it. This necessitates a little practice.” Théophraste opened his
portfolio and took out the paper.

“Can you tell me the exact date of this?” Ambrose put on his
eyeglass and took the paper to the daylight.

“There is the date,” he said, “172--, the last figure is rubbed
out. It must be of the eighteenth century.”

“Oh,” said Théophraste, “I saw that date quite well, but do you
really think that the paper is-of that century? Does not the date lie?
That is what I want to know.”

Ambrose showed him the center of the paper. “See?”

Théophraste said nothing. Then Ambrose lit a small lamp and held the
paper up before it. In illuminating the document one could detect in the
thickness of the paper the design of a crown.

“Théophraste,” said Ambrose excitedly, “that paper is exceedingly
rare. That mark is almost unknown, for a very little paper was made
with that sign, which is called the Crown of Thorns. That paper, my dear
Théophraste, was made in 1721.”

“You are sure?”

“Yes, but tell me,” cried Ambrose, who could not conceal his
surprise, “how is it that this document, dated 1721, could be by all
visible marks in your handwriting?”

Théophraste said nothing, but getting up and putting the document back
into the portfolio, he hastened out of the house.

And so here was proof enough. He could doubt it no longer. This paper,
dated in the beginning of the eighteenth century, in the time of the
Regents, this sheet that he had sought for in the prison, distinctly
bore his own handwriting. He had written on that sheet, he, Théophraste
Longuet, late maker of rubber stamps, who retired last week at the age
of 41—he wrote on that sheet of paper these incomprehensible words in
1721. However, it did not want Signor Petito or Ambrose to prove it to
him. He knew it himself. Everything within him cried out, “It is your
paper!” And so instead of being Théophraste Longuet, son of John
Longuet, master gardener to the Ferte sous Jonaise, he had been in the
past some one he did not know, but who had been reborn in him. Yes,
that was it, and he now had the great desire to recall having lived 200
years.

Who was he? What was his name? In which body had his immortal soul
elected momentarily to live? He felt certain that these questions would
not remain long unanswered. Was it true that some of the things ignored
in his present existence constituted part of his past life? What was
meant by certain expressions spoken in the Conciergerie? Who, then, was
Simon de Anvergust, whose name had been twice repeated by his burning
lips?

“Yes, yes, the name, in former times my own, his also,” wrote
Théophraste in his journal, “arose from my awakened brain, and
knowing who I was, I recalled the whole life lived in former years, and
I read in a flash from that piece of paper all the details of a past
life.”

Monsieur Théophraste Longuet, to state the matter frankly, had not
arrived at the conclusion without having, in these incoherent lines,
wandered before. The happenings of these days were too unusual. Imagine,
he was simple-minded, a little heavy, a little foppish, he had never
invented anything in his life. He was just an amiable, honest citizen,
stupid and headstrong. He had no religion. He left that to the women,
and without declaring his atheism, used to say: “When one dies, it is
forever.” However, now he had discovered by an extraordinary incident,
that one never dies. He had to support this, and in doing so declared
that not even those in the business, in occult science, frequenting
spirits daily, could have such palpable proof. In the end Théophraste
made his resolution quickly.

This anterior existence could no longer be denied, although he knew
nothing about it. In the uncertainty of his mind he could not associate
the date 1721 with his visit to the Conciergerie.

However, he came to this final conclusion. In 1721 he had been confined
in the Conciergerie Prison, probably as a prisoner of state. He could
not admit for a second that he, Théophraste Longuet, had been shut up,
even under Louis XV, as a common criminal. In a solemn moment, perhaps
before being put to torture, he had drawn up this document and hidden
the paper between the stones in the dungeon, and passing by there two
centuries later, had found it again. This was simple enough and not
the result of any supernatural inspiration. The facts themselves were
enough.

Certain words of the document were in themselves quite natural and of
the most momentous importance. These were “Treasure... treachery of
the first of April.”

It was with these words that he hoped to discover his identity. First,
he had been rich and powerful. The words about the treasure showed
conclusively that the man had been rich and that he had buried his
treasure. He had been powerful and had been betrayed. Théophraste
had in his mind that the treason had been a memorable treason, perhaps
historic—the treachery of the first of April.

Yes, all the oddities and all the mysteries of the document left
at least a glimpse of something certain: that he had been a great
personage, that he had buried his treasures; and that after having
buried them mysteriously, more mysteriously still revealed their
existence, at the price of much cunning; perhaps at the price of his own
blood. Without doubt those tinted words had been written with blood.

Later he proposed to ask a distinguished chemist to examine it. The
treasures belonged to him, and if necessary he would use this document
to establish his right to them.

Théophraste was not rich. He had retired from business with a modest
little income. He had a comfortable little house with a garden and
bowling alley. However, this was little, with the somewhat extravagant
tastes of Marceline, and so the treasure would be most acceptable. He
therefore applied himself diligently to the research.

It must be said, though, to his credit, that he was much more puzzled by
the mystery of his personality than by the mystery of the treasure, and
that he resolved to temporarily suspend his research until the time
when he could at least give a name to this personage that he had
been—Théophraste Longuet in 1721. That discovery which interested him
most came to be in his mind the key of all the others.

That which astonished him most was the sudden development of what
he called his “historical instinct,” the instinct which had been
deficient in him all his life, but which had been revealed to him with
the suddenness and force of a clap of thunder in the depths of the
Conciergerie. In one moment, the Other, as he used to say in conversing
of this great 18th-century personage, had possessed him. It was the
Other who had found the document; it was the Other who had cried out
in the Conciergerie; it was the Other who had called to Simon
l’Anvergust, and since the Other had disappeared, Théophraste did not
know what had become of him. He sought him in vain; he examined himself;
he searched his very soul.

Before this adventure Théophraste had no curiosity about the
beginning or ending of things, he had not wasted time in wondering
over philosophical mysteries; in his vanity he had always shrugged his
shoulders at such things. However, now things were different; here was a
quiet citizen, with little scientific knowledge, who had to prove that
a manufacturer of India rubber in the year 1899 had been shut up in a
dungeon after having buried treasures in 1721. But the revelation of
this extraordinary fact had come to him spontaneously and remained so
fixed in his mind that he resolved to probe the matter to the bottom.

His instinct abandoned him momentarily and he would search books and
discover who this powerful, rich person was who had been betrayed on
April 1st; which April 1st? This remained to be determined. He haunted
the libraries from that time on. He marshaled before him the Premiers of
the Kingdom. He found nothing to give him a clue. Some dukes and peers,
some illustrious generals, some great financiers, a few princes of
the blood. He stopped an instant at Law, but he was too dissipated; at
Maurice de Saxe, who ought to have won the Battle of Fontenoy; at the
Count du Barry, who had had the most beautiful mistress in Paris.
He feared that perhaps he had been the Count de Charolais, who
distinguished himself by his debauches, and killed the that chers on
the roofs by shooting at them. He was forty-eight hours the Cardinal of
Palegria, but was disgusted when he learned that his Eminence had been
a farm hand for the Duchess of Maine. It was refreshing to find in some
corner of history a sympathetic count or lord that the writers of the
epoch had adorned in engaging colors and on whom they had bestowed
some virtues. But Théophraste soon saw that all these would have to be
abandoned. For none of them had the principal qualifications of having
been shut up in the Conciergerie in 1721, or having been betrayed on an
April 1st.

However, in the Journal of the Barber, he discovered a bastard of the
Regent, about whom were some startling facts which precipitated him into
a state of great excitement.

Before entering into the details, however, of this discovery, we will
return to the doings of Marceline and M. Adolphe Lecamus.



CHAPTER IV

_Some Philosophy and a Song_


|LET us leave Paris awhile and return to the little estate on the banks
of the Marne, which Théophraste generally moved to with the first rays
of the July sun. This year he was to go there before Marceline and his
friend, Adolphe, who had been commissioned to survey the timbers on
some lands elsewhere. Thus these last few days he could spend alone
in security and peace to attend to this unusual treatise which his new
position in the world had given him.

The name of the house was “Villa Flots d’Azure.” Théophraste had
given it this name against the wishes of Adolphe, who protested that the
name was for a villa near the sea. He had replied with logic that he had
often gone to the Preport, and that he had always seen the sea green;
that he knew the Marne, and that on account of the reflected blue sky
the water seemed blue. Do they not say “the beautiful blue Danube”?
It was not only the ocean that had blue waves, so he did not see why he
should not call his villa on the Marne “Villa Flots d’Azure.”

That day was the anniversary of their marriage. Théophraste was very
fond of Marceline, and these anniversaries were always the occasion for
much merry-making. Marceline also loved Théophraste, and saw no reason
why she should not like Adolphe equally as well, whereas, on the other
side, Adolphe adored Marceline and would have died for Théophraste. On
reflection, the name “Villa Flots d’Amour” would have been more
appropriate than “Villa Flots d’Azure,” such harmony existed
therein.

Théophraste shook Adolphe’s hand effusively. He complimented his wife
on her beauty. He had his green umbrella that day, and in making his
congratulations twirled it in a fashion, as he thought, resembling
the manner in which they used canes in the beginning of the eighteenth
century. He was not a vain person, but he knew by this scientific
miracle that he had been a great man two hundred years ago, and he
felt that he should convey the impression that he had moved among great
people and affairs.

It was their custom upon their return to their country house to invite
a few friends to a party to celebrate the occasion. Upon this occasion
Théophraste was at his best. He was in high spirits, and while passing
the good word to the gentlemen, made flattering speeches to the ladies.
The table was set in the garden under a tent where the guests assembled.
After a while the conversation turned to the latest doings in angling.
M. Lopard had caught a trout of three pounds; old M. Tartoush had cast
his line on Sunday—having caught nothing, complained that people made
too much noise shooting during the week, and drove the fish from these
waters. All joined in the conversation and gave their experiences except
M. Théophraste.

He kept silent. He found the topic too commonplace and felt a desire to
raise its level. He wanted it to drift into some subject related to
that preoccupying his mind. After awhile he was able to get Adolphe
interested in the subject of ghosts. From ghosts the conversation led on
to spiritualism. One lady knew a somnambulist and related some strange
stories which were calculated to work upon the imagination of the
company. Adolphe, upon this, explained the spiritualistic point of view
of the phenomena of somnambulism, and cited well-known authorities. He
seemed quite in his element, and finally reached the point desired by
Théophraste, the transmigration of souls and reincarnation.

“Is it possible,” said Marceline, “that a soul comes back to live
in its body? You have often told me so, Adolphe, but it seems to me that
one’s reason strongly repulses such an hypothesis.” “Nothing is
lost in Nature,” replied Adolphe, positively. “Neither the soul
nor the body. All is transformed, the soul as well as the body. The
reincarnation of souls at the end of a century is a doctrine which goes
back to such great antiquity that the ancient philosophers do not deny
it.”

“If one’s soul returned to a body,” said Marceline, “one would
surely know it.”

“Not always,” said Adolphe, “but sometimes.” “Ah,
sometimes?” asked Théophraste, who was by this time becoming
intensely interested.

“Yes, there are cases. For instance: Ptolemy Caesar, son of Caesar and
Cleopatra, who was king of Egypt before Christ, remembered well to have
been Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, who lived 600 years before.”

“Impossible!” cried the ladies, and the gentlemen smiled
skeptically.

“You need not laugh, gentlemen. It is impossible to be more serious.
Our actual transformation, which is the final word in science, is in
full accord with the theory of reincarnation. What is transformation
except the idea that living things transform themselves, progressing one
into another? Nature presents herself to us under the aspect of a spark,
elaborately perfecting without ceasing to create, to attain an ideal
which will be the millennium. Whatever Nature does for the body she does
for the soul. It can be proved, for I have studied this side a great
deal, and it is the original of all sciences.

Monsieur Adolphe was not understood by the company, a fact of which he
was inwardly proud. He liked to feel a superiority of intellect, and
often he would raise the conversation above the level of his audience
just to gratify his vanity. He touched on many points which only need
be referred to lightly here in order to convince skeptics that the
extraordinary history of Théophraste is founded on a most scientific
basis.

“The transmigration of souls was taught in India,” said Adolphe;
“the cradle of the genus human, then in Egypt, then in Greece. They
chanted its mysteries in the name of Orpheus. Pythagoras, who continued
the teaching, did not admit with the philosophers on the banks of the
Ganges that the soul traveled over the cycle of all animal existence. He
made it come back, for example, into a pig.”

“There are some men,” said Madame Beulie, “who still have the
souls of pigs.”

“Without doubt,” said Adolphe, smiling; “but what Pythagoras says
is that we must not conclude from that, that pigs have the souls of
men. Plato also adopts this doctrine. It is the first which gave in the
Phidon the proof that souls do not exile themselves forever and that
they come back to animate bodies anew.”

“Oh, if we could only get proof of that it would be nothing for me to
die,” declared old Mlle. Tabouret, who had a mortal terror of dying.

“Here are the proofs,” continued Adolphe. “They are two in number.
One is taken from the general law of Nature, the other from human
nature. First, Nature is governed by the laws of contraries, and from
that we see that while death succeeds life, all would end by being
absorbed in death, and Nature would one day come to an end like
Endymion. Therefore I say that we exist after death.

“Secondly, if after consulting the general laws of Nature we turn to
our own minds, we will find there the same dogma attested by the fact of
resemblance. ‘To learn,’ said Plato, ‘is nothing but to recollect.
Since our souls learn, they must have a resemblance. What does it
recollect except to have lived, and to have lived in another body? Why
can we not believe that in leaving the body while it is animate at
this time it can animate several others in succession?’ I quote Plato
literally,” remarked Adolphe.

Then he passed from Plato to a modern authority. “Charles Fournier has
said: ‘Where is the old man who has not truly wished to be born again,
and to use in another life the experience he has acquired in this?’ To
pretend that that desire ought not to be realized is to admit that God
can deceive us. We ought then to recognize that we have lived previous
to being what we are, and that several other lives await us. All these
lives, to the number of eight hundred and ten, are distributed between
five periods and embrace a span of eighty-one thousand years. Allan
Hardai reckons that the soul returns to another body after two or three
thousand years unless we die a violent death. Then it is quite possible
one can be reincarnated after two hundred years.”

Adolphe had by this time drawn all around him and became the center of
attraction by his entertaining remarks. Théophraste had sat open-eyed,
listening intently, and upon hearing the last remark thought “That is
well. They may have hung me; so if I did not die that way, they may have
got rid of me by some other death more in keeping with my station in
life. Nevertheless,” he thought, “if all these people here could
only realize that they had a prince of the royal blood among them, they
would be very much astonished, and be filled with respect. But no, he
will still be Théophraste Longuet, manufacturer of rubber stamps.”

Champagne was brought, and soon the air rang merrily with general
chatter and the explosion of corks. It was then that Marceline turned
around to Théophraste and begged him to sing the song which he was
accustomed to sing on the anniversary of their marriage. He had sung it
the day of their wedding, and on account of its beauty they had adopted
it as their wedding song. It was Lissette de Baranger.

However, to the consternation of Marceline and all the guests, instead
of singing the song, he rose, threw his napkin on the table and said to
her in that strange voice which they heard at the Conciergerie:

“As thou wishest, Marie Antoinette, I can refuse thee nothing.”

“Oh, my God,” cried Marceline. “Hear what he called me in that
strange voice!”

The guests were obviously uncomfortable, and did not know what to make
of his peculiar behavior. The song was a vulgar song of the Regency
period, and certainly not for such a gathering as was at this party. He
sang it with the old French air:=

````Tou joli belle mimiere--

````Tou joli, moulin.=



CHAPTER V

_Théophraste Remembers Himself_


|THEOPHRASTE sang the song in loud, strident tones, his eyes sparkling,
glass in hand. It was with indescribable surprise that the company
received it, and despite the richness of the rhyme, the couplet was
followed by no applause. An awkward silence followed, and all the ladies
looked to Marceline for an explanation.

What was it that Marceline could explain? Adolphe himself looked at
Théophraste in surprise; but Théophraste, as if possessed with the
devil, continued with the second couplet of the drinking song. When he
had finished, he sat down, looked around with satisfaction, and said to
Marceline, “What do you think of that, Marie Antoinette?”

In the midst of a death-like silence preserved by all, Marceline asked
tremblingly, “Why do you call me Marie Antoinette?”

“Because you are the most beautiful of all!” cried Théophraste.
“I appeal to Madame la Marechale de Bouilleurs, who has taste. I
appeal to all of you. And there is not one who, by the signet of the
Pope, will contradict me, neither the Eros Picards, nor the Bourbons,
nor the Burgundias, nor the Provincials, nor the Poet St. Jack, nor
Gatelard, nor Bras-de-Fer, nor Guente Noir, not even Bal-a-voir.”

M. Théophraste had on his right old Mlle. Tabouret, and he pinched her
knee as he looked at Marceline, which nearly made that austere person
faint. No one dared to move; for the fiery look of Théophraste
frightened the whole company. He leaned amorously towards Mlle.
Tabouret, and said to her, staring at Marceline, who was by this time
weeping: “Let us see, Mlle. Tabouret, am I not right? To whom can I
compare her? Is it La Belle Laitere, or La Petite Minion; or even La
Blanche of the bowling alley; or La Belle Helene, who kept the Harp
Tavern?”

Turning towards Adolphe, he said with great energy, “Come you,
Va-de-Bon Cœur, tell me your opinion. Look at Marie Antoinette a little
while. By the fatted calf, she puts them all in the shade: Jeannette,
the flower girl of the Royal Palace; Marie Leroy and the female Solomon,
the beauty of the Temple; Jeanne Bonnefoy, who kept the café of
the Port Marie; Manon de Versailles, the poultry girl—none of them
approach her in beauty.”

He then leapt with one bound upon the table, and breaking the dishes,
cups and plates into a thousand pieces, held his glass over his head
and shouted, “Let us drink to the Queen of the Nymphs, Marie
Antoinette.”

Draining his glass, he smashed it against the table and waved his hand,
which was covered with blood. By this time the party had fled in
terror, fearing that some tragedy would follow Théophraste’s strange
behavior. On superficially thinking of these curious actions one would
immediately conclude that he had gone mad or was drunk, but this was not
the case. There is another kind of sense beside common sense. It was
not because he was crazy or drunk that he could sing a song that he
had never learnt, speak a language that he had never heard, or refer to
people that he had never read about, who had been dead for centuries.
There must have been some other force working in his brain.

Modern scientific experiments have shown with indisputable examples that
this particular case was far from unique. Ignorant people, who neither
knew how to read or write, who had never been outside their village,
have been known to give most correct answers to the medium who
questioned them in a dead language. And this has been before professors
of colleges, not before charlatans. It is difficult to explain. It is
the mystery of this life, the life hereafter. Some say that it is
a learned spirit talking through these ignorant mouths, others have
timidly expressed the opinion that such phenomena can only be explained
by the remembrance of a former life. Therefore the things which
Théophraste said and did without understanding, the Other who relives
in him at intervals understands perfectly well, and if we would
understand them we must know who this Other is.

As to Théophraste, after the guests had disappeared from the tent, he
climbed down from the table. He found it more difficult to reach the
floor than it had been to climb upon the table, and he knelt down,
taking great precaution not to fall. He then assumed his natural self
and called Marceline. She did not answer him, and in searching for
her he found her trembling with fright in her room. He closed the door
carefully and prepared to give an explanation. She looked at him with
her large eyes, amazed, filled with tears, and he felt it his duty as a
husband not to conceal from her any longer this extraordinary phenomenon
which had been preoccupying his mind.

The night was ideal, and after they had retired he said to her, “My
dear Marceline, you cannot understand what has happened to me this
evening, and I can assure you I don’t understand myself, but in
telling you all I know perhaps we can arrive at some conclusion.”

He then related all the details of his visits to the cellars of the
Conciergerie. He concealed nothing, and sketched in minute details the
extraordinary feelings which had actuated him that evening, and the
unknown influence which had commanded him. At first she said nothing,
but softly moved away from him as if afraid of him; but when he came to
the document which revealed the existence of the treasures, she demanded
to see it at once. He judged then that she was taking an interest in the
adventure and felt thankful. They got up and he showed her the paper in
the light of the full moon, which was streaming into the room. Like
all those who had seen it before, she recognized the handwriting
immediately, and made the sign of the cross as if fearing some sorcery.
Marceline was not a fool, but explained that she could not help making
the sign. However, she soon became composed, and began to praise
Adolphe, who, in spite of Théophraste’s disapproval, had initiated
her into the elements of spiritualism, a science she said which would be
of some service to Théophraste in his condition. But even in the face
of that uncontestable evidence she found it difficult to believe that he
was a reincarnated spirit dating back two hundred years, until he asked
her who she thought he had been.

Marceline didn’t think that he had been a very great personage, and in
reply to his disappointed inquiry she said:

“Because this evening you sang in slang, and the ladies whose names
you mentioned do not belong to the aristocracy. People who frequented
La Terpidere, La Platire, Manon de Versailles, I think are not of much
account.”

“But I also mentioned the leader of the Bouffleurs,” replied
Théophraste, “and you know that morals were so dissolute under the
Regency of the Duke of Orleans that the fashion at Court was to call the
ladies in slighting terms. What do you think of the idea of me being the
Bastard of the Regent?”

For sole response she embraced Théophraste in delight, and recollecting
his duty on this day of celebration proved to her that if he was more
than two hundred years old, his love always remained youthful.



CHAPTER VI

_M. Lecamus Expresses His Views._


|AFTER a while Marceline was able to persuade Théophraste to confide in
M. Adolphe Lecamus. She declared that Adolphe’s great experience, his
certain knowledge of the science of metaphysics, ought to be a great
help to a man who had buried treasures two hundred years before and
wished to find them again. “And,” she added, “it is he who will be
able to reveal your identity.”

He yielded to her persuasions, and in the morning told Adolphe
everything. Adolphe was astonished, and it surprised Théophraste that a
man who professed Spiritualism should show so much emotion when face to
face with a reincarnated spirit. He said that Théophraste’s conduct
at the dinner table the day before and the words he uttered to him
before and since the visit to the Conciergerie were well calculated to
prepare him for such a confidence, but he did not expect such a thing
as this. He demanded to see the proof of such a phenomenon. Théophraste
readily showed the document, and Adolphe could not deny the authenticity
of it. He recognized the handwriting at once, and exclaimed, upon
examination, that the handwriting explained many things to him. He
had often thought how curiously the characters in Théophraste’s
handwriting differed from his real character. It had always been
difficult for him to associate the handwriting with Théophraste.

“Really,” said Théophraste, “what character do you ascribe to
me?”

“Well, if you will promise not to bear me any ill, I will tell you!”

On this assurance he painted Théophraste’s character. It was that
of a kind citizen, an honest merchant, an excellent husband, but a man
incapable of showing any firmness, wit or energy. He told him also
that his timidity was excessive, and that kindness was always ready to
degenerate into weakness. The picture was not at all flattering, and
Théophraste felt a little hurt.

“And now,” said he, “that you have told me what you think of my
character, tell me what you think of my writing.”

Then he made observations on his handwriting which would not have failed
to make him quite angry if he had not remembered that Signor Petito had
said the same. He said:

“Your writing expresses all the contrary sentiments in your nature as
I know it, and I can imagine nothing more antithetical than your writing
and your real character. Thus you do not write a characteristic hand,
but the handwriting of the Other.”

Théophraste was deeply interested. He thought of the strength and
energy of the Other, he imagined that he was a great captain. However,
Adolphe’s next remark completely disillusioned him.

“Any sign in those formations, in the pointed fashion they have of
reuniting, and in the way of growing tall and of climbing up, and of
passing each other, show energy, firmness, obstinacy, ardor, activity,
and ambition, but all for evil.”

This dismayed him, but he exclaimed with a show of spirit: “Where is
the evil? Where is the good? If Attila had known how to write perhaps he
would have written like Napoleon.”

“They called Attila the scourge of God.”

“And Napoleon the scourge of man,” replied Théophraste, with
difficulty controlling his anger.

How could it be that Théophraste Longuet could have been anything else
but an honest being before his birth, during his life, and after his
death?

Marceline agreed with him, and Adolphe fearing that he had gone too far
made apologies.



CHAPTER VII

_Théophraste and His Black Plume_


|FOR the next few days M. Lecamus and M.

Longuet occupied themselves with evidence of this phenomenon, and were
often seen together, conversing mysteriously, in the bar-rooms and about
town, about the treason of the first of April. They left the Villa
Flots d’Azure to return to Paris, with the intention of searching the
libraries. They worked diligently for several days without any result,
until M. Longuet began to lose spirit. M. Lecamus was more patient.

One evening as they were walking towards the Rond Point, in the Champs
Elysees, he turned around and said, “What can we do to find the
approximate place where the treasures are buried if you have not your
black plume?” Théophraste and Marceline could not understand this,
and asked for an explanation. He commented:

“You have heard of the water witches who could discover water by the
aid of a wand, by a phenomenon which nobody has as yet been able to
explain. These witches traced water across the various beds of earth,
and by pointing the little rods, indicated where it was necessary to dig
in order to make a well. I do not despair of showing you, Théophraste,
where your treasures are buried. I will conduct you over the ground
shown in the document, and tell you where it is that you must dig to
find your treasure.”

“Yes,” interrupted Théophraste, “but this does not explain to us
what you mean by ‘the black plume.’”

“I am coming to that now. I am obliged to speak of Darwin. You will
understand directly. You know that Darwin devoted himself to several
celebrated experiments, of which the best known is that with pigeons.

“Desirous of accounting for the phenomenon of heredity and the value
that he attached to it, he closely studied the breeding of pigeons,
which is sufficiently rapid to have enabled him to draw conclusions upon
an appreciable number of generations. At the end of the tenth generation
he found the same type of pigeon, with the same defects, the same
qualities, the same form, the same outline, and the same black plume
there in the same place where the first pigeon had a black feather. Very
well! With that I will prove to you that it is the same with souls as it
is with bodies.

“At the end of the tenth generation, we find the same soul, as far
as it exists, with the same defects, the same virtues, and, as it were,
with the original black feather. While giving you this illustration,
it is necessary to distinguish between the soul which reappears thus
hereditarily, and that which comes back by reincarnation. Believing that
it is the result of a unique combination which nothing can oppose,
and, since it dwells in a case called a body, is hereditary in the same
degree as that body, an hereditary soul which comes from an ancestor
always has his black feather, while a soul which comes back by
reincarnation finds itself in a body which is in no way prepared to
receive it. The aggregate materials of this body are original, and
decaying, momentarily impose a silence on that soul.

“But a time comes when this soul becomes the strongest, when it
speaks, when it shows itself entirely, just as the black feather does.

“Now, Théophraste, for several generations you were the honest
gardeners in the Ferte-sous-Jonarre. But when that soul speaks in you,
you are no longer yourself. Théophraste Longuet has disappeared. It is
the Other who is there. It is the Other who has the gesture, the manner,
the action, the black feather. It is the other who recalls the mystery
of the treasure, it is the Other who remembers the Other.”

“Oh! This is admirable!” exclaimed Théophraste, who was so deeply
moved that he could hardly refrain from weeping with excitement. “And
now I understand what you mean by my black feather. My black feather
returns to me when I am the Other.”

“And he will help you then, my friend,” declared Adolphe with
conviction. “But until we have released the unknown who is hidden
in Théophraste Longuet, and until he lives with sufficient strength,
audacity, and liberty, until he is resuscitated, in a word, until he
appears to us with his ‘black feather,’ we will confine ourselves
to the study of that interesting document which you brought from the
Conciergerie. Let us make a plan for penetrating the mystery. We will
find out exactly where the treasures are buried, but we must wait for
the spirit who dwells in you to say to us, ‘It is there.’”

“My friend,” said Marceline, overflowing with admiration, “you
talk like a book, and I wonder that you have not more often tried to
teach us these things, for we are so ignorant. You must not leave a
stone unturned to find the treasure. I do not fear the destruction of
the earth on account of the object of our search.”

Adolphe turned around to reprove Marceline for her flippancy, but at
this moment M. Milfroid, the Commissioner of Police, approached, and
Adolphe rose to greet his friend.

Adolphe introduced M. Milfroid to M. and Mme. Longuet. He was a man
of about forty years of age, elegantly dressed, immaculate gloves, a
silvery ringlet of hair on the white forehead. He advanced, smiling and
bowing.

“We have often heard our friend M. Adolphe speak of you,” said
Marceline. “Your fame has gone before you.”

“Oh, madame, I have known you for a long time. Every time I meet M.
Lecamus he speaks to me of his friends of the Rue Gerauds, and in such
terms that it has been my greatest desire to have the happiness of being
presented to you.”

Marceline was conquered by such gallant manners. “I hear that you play
the violin very well,” she said.

“I am equally interested in philosophy,” said M. Milfroid. “An
interest which I owe to M. Adolphe, who is continually in dispute with
me over the immortality of the soul, and other psychic matters. He has
really made a convert of me.”

“Monsieur,” said Théophraste, who had not yet taken part in the
conversation, “Adolphe and I like to converse about serious matters,
also. We were just speaking of the relations between the soul and the
body, and the different ways that the soul has of behaving with the
body.”

“Ah!” said M. Milfroid, who desired to shine before Marceline,
“are you able to distinguish between matter and mind, or the material
and the spiritual? Matter and mind are the same thing in the eyes of
science. That is to say, they constitute alike one unit, one force,
produce at one time the phenomenon of cause and effect, tending to
one end, the progressive steps of existence. You are the only ones,
gentlemen, to still make that old distinction between matter and
mind.”

After a while they rose and returned through the Place de la Concorde.
At the entrance to the Rue Royale, there was a crowd of people, shouting
and gesticulating. Théophraste, an old Parisian, wanted to know what
was taking place, and flung himself into the crowd.

“Look out for pickpockets,” Marceline called to him.

“Oh, madame,” said Monsieur Milfroid, the Commissioner of Police,
“there are no pickpockets when I am about.”

“It is true. We should be in no danger when you are here.”

“I do not know about that,” said Adolphe, looking about them. “My
friend here appears more dangerous to me than all the pickpockets on
earth.” At this they all laughed.

Théophraste made them wait ten minutes before he appeared, and then he
announced that it was a coachman who had gotten his wheels locked with
an automobile, and could not separate them.

Marceline felt annoyed at having been kept waiting so long on such a
slight pretext. However, her thoughts were diverted in doing the honors
of a hostess, and she invited M. Milfroid “to dinner.

During the dinner many pleasantries were passed, and M. Milfroid
excelled in complimenting Marceline.

Suddenly, he became uneasy, and plunging his hands in his pockets,
looked vainly for his handkerchief. After a final and useless search, he
passed his forefinger under his moustache, and sighed, declaring that it
did not matter.

However, at that moment Théophraste wiped his mouth, and Marceline
asked him where he had found such a beautiful handkerchief. M. Mil-froid
at once recognized it as his own, and thinking it just a piece of
pleasantry, took the handkerchief from Théophraste. However, feeling in
his left side, he became pale and exclaimed, “Good God! I have lost my
pocketbook. There were five hundred francs in it.” M. Milfroid did not
regret losing the five hundred francs, but he found himself ridiculed by
Adolphe, and Marceline teased him gently and laughed prettily. They were
all poking fun at him, and this made him furious.

“M. Milfroid,” said Théophraste, “if you need any money for the
evening I can lend it to you,” and he drew a wallet from his pocket.
M. Milfroid uttered a cry: it was his! M. Milfroid took the wallet from
him as he had done the handkerchief, and alleging numerous engagements,
he took his leave. Before going down the stairs, he said to his friend
Adolphe, who followed him, “These are nice kind of people you have
introduced me to.”

When Adolphe returned to the dining-room, Théophraste was emptying
his pockets. On the table there lay three watches, six handkerchiefs,
several pocketbooks, containing large sums of money, and eighteen
checks.



CHAPTER VIII

_An Appeal for Help_


|THE important events of this story and its hero have occupied us to
such an extent that we have not found time to present Monsieur Lecamus
as he should be. The little that we know of him does not effect our
sympathy. The place that he occupies in the house of Longuet, which is
eminently immoral; the cynicism with which he deceives an innocent soul;
the little danger that he seems to run in accomplishing the larceny—
these are good reasons why we have deferred showing our contempt for
him. It may be said that we have judged hastily, and have not allowed
him to plead extenuating circumstances. The principal one, and the one
which it would be well for us to dwell upon, is that he really liked
Théophraste above everybody else. He loved him with his faults, his
weaknesses, his ingenuousness, the confidence he had in him, and above
all, the admiration Théophraste had for him. There was no sacrifice he
would not make for Théophraste, and I daresay that if Théophraste
had any pecuniary troubles, which after all are the only troubles which
really count here below, Adolphe Lecamus would open his purse, and give
to him freely. Adolphe loved Théophraste even above Marceline; and
although I do not pretend to deal here with psychology, I find myself
confronted with a case which is much less common than one would be
inclined to believe. For Adolphe loved Marceline because he had made her
his mistress.

If he had learned, by some supernatural warning, that Théophraste would
some day learn his real position in the household, he would only have
respected Marceline. “But,” he thought to himself, “Théophraste
will never know anything about it, and as unknown evils do not exist, I
will be the lover of the wife of my best friend.”

These lines are necessary, that the reader may understand properly
the knavish tricks of the lover. But we must understand distinctly
Adolphe’s devotion to Théophraste.

After the departure of the Commissioner, they all set themselves to
consider what was to be done with the articles which Théophraste had
brought home with him. At first they all sat silently looking at the
objects, no one wishing to break the silence, until Théophraste said,
“I have nothing more in my pockets. I really believe I have got my
black plume.”

Marceline and Adolphe were startled by this, but still did not say
anything, and waited for Théophraste to give some explanation. Then he
declared it was in the crowd at the Place de la Concorde. He went in and
out among the crowd, and it was a very simple matter for him.

“What must we do?” asked Adolphe in a grave voice?”

“What do you wish me to do?” replied Théophraste, who by this time
had begun to confess. “You do not think that I am going to keep them!
It is not my habit to keep things that do not belong to me. I am an
honest man and have never wronged anybody. You must take them all to M.
Milfroid, your friend, the Commissioner of Police. He can easily restore
them to the owners.”

“What can I say to him?”

“Whatever you wish,” burst out Théophraste, who was becoming
impatient. “Did the honest coachman who found a purse and fifty
thousand francs in his carriage think about what he should say when he
took them to the commissariat? He simply said, ‘I have found them in
the carriage.’ That was sufficient. They even rewarded him for it. You
must say, ‘My friend Longuet charged me to bring this to you. He found
them in his pockets, and he does not wish a reward.’”

Marceline touched Adolphe with her foot under the table. This was her
customary way of secretly drawing Adolphe’s attention. She wanted to
signify to him that she thought Théophraste was demented, and her look
quite showed it. Adolphe understood. He knitted his brows and scratched
the tip of his nose. He felt that now was the time to act. He
looked from Théophraste to the pocket-books, and coughing, said,
“Théophraste, this is not natural. We have to explain ourselves. We
must understand. You must not close your eyes to this misfortune. You
must open them wide, and bring your will to fight it.”

“Of what misfortune are you speaking?” asked Théophraste, becoming
frightened.

“Well, is it not a misfortune to have things in your pocket that do
not belong to you?”

“I do not understand. You seem to be accusing me of being dishonest.
I am an honest man, and whatever I have done dishonestly, I have done
against my will.”

Having said these words, he fell back in his chair in a dead faint, and
a deep silence fell over them all.

When Théophraste came out of his stupor, his eyes were full of tears.
He motioned to his wife and his friend to come nearer to him. When
they were beside him, he said, showing pitiable emotion, “I feel that
Adolphe is right. A great misfortune menaces me, I know not what! I know
not what! My God! I know not what! I know not what!”

Adolphe and Marceline attempted to console him, but he wept more. Then
Marceline began to weep.

In his emotion, Théophraste grasped them both by the hand, and cried,
“Swear never to abandon me, no matter what happens, for, oh! some day
I shall need your help.” They swore to him in good faith.

Adolphe then asked to see the document. As he spread the document before
him, he said, “Théophraste, tell me, do you ever have dreams?”

“It is very probable, but I only dream a very little.”

“Never?” insisted Adolphe.

“Scarcely ever. However, I remember to have dreamed four or five times
in my life, perhaps because I woke each time in the middle of my dream,
and it was always the same dream. But what possible interest can there
be in this, to the subject which is occupying us now, Adolphe?”

Adolphe continued: “Dreams have never been explained by science.
Science attributes them all to the effects of the imagination, but it
does not give us the reason for these clear, distinct visions which
appear to us sometimes. Thus it explains a thing which is not known
by another which is no better understood. It says that dreams are the
recollection of things which took place in a former life. But even
admitting this solution—which is a doubtful one—we still have
to find out what is the magic mirror that serves so well to keep the
imprint of things. Moreover, how can one explain visions of real things,
events that one has never seen in a former state, and of which one
has never even thought? Who can affirm that these are not visions of
retrospective past events in a former life?”

“That is right, my dear Adolphe,” said Théophraste, “and I ought
to confess the things that I have dreamed. I have dreamed them three
times as I said before, things that were perhaps true in the past, or
will be in the future. I have never seen them in a waking state in my
present life.”

“You understand me,” said Adolphe. “Relate to me the things that
you have dreamed of and have never seen.”

“Oh, that will not take long. But so much the better, for it is not
very cheerful: I dreamed that I was married to a woman named Marie
Antoinette, and then----”

“And then?” interrupted Adolphe, who had never taken his eyes off
the document.

“And then I cut her up in pieces.”

“Oh, horrors!” cried Marceline.

“It is horrible,” continued Théophraste, shaking his head. “Then
I put the pieces in a basket and threw them into the Seine by the little
bridge of the Hotel Dieu. I awoke then, and you may be sure I was not
sorry.”

Adolphe struck the table a hard blow with his fist. “It is
frightful,” he cried in a harsh voice, looking at Théophraste.

“Is it not?” said Marceline, shuddering.

Adolphe read the first lines of the document.

“Oh, how dreadful it is!” he continued, groaning. “Alas, alas! I
understand all, now.”

“What do you understand?” asked Théophraste in a frightened voice,
following Adolphe’s finger as he traced the first two lines of the
document.

“This,” said Adolphe. “‘Moi et! I buried my, treasures.’ And you do not
know what that ‘et’ means? Well, I won’t tell you until I am quite sure.
I will know to-morrow. Théophraste, tomorrow at two o’clock be at the
Rue Guinegaud and the Rue Mazarin. I am going to take these articles to
M. Milfroid’s house. He will restore them to their owners, and we will
prove to him that there are pickpockets even when the Commissioner is
present. Adieu, my friend, adieu. Above all take courage. Take courage.”
Adolphe shook Théophraste’s hand with the warmth of a comrade, and
departed.

Théophraste did not sleep that night. While Marceline reposed
peacefully by his side, he lay with eyes wide open in the darkness. His
respiration was irregular, and he sighed often. Anxiety lay heavy upon
him.



CHAPTER IX

_The Portrait_


|DAY broke over the city. A cloudy day, with a mist that enveloped
everything in a sinister manner. The sun tried in vain to penetrate that
sombre atmosphere.

Mid-day showed a dark red ball, rolling ingloriously in a sulphurous
light. Such was the picture of the heavens that day.

Théophraste sprang out of bed early, and awoke Marceline suddenly by
an excess of foolish hilarity. Marceline inquired the reason for such
strange joyfulness. He said that he could not help laughing at the idea
of M. Milfroid, the Commissioner of Police, receiving back the stolen
goods which had been pickpocketed right before his very eyes. “My dear
Marceline,” he said, “it is foolish, the way people carry the money
in their pockets. If you cannot put your hand in, slip a straw, filled
with glue, in. It is an excellent scheme for extricating money from
people’s pockets.”

Marceline sat up and gazed at him. She could not understand, as he never
looked more natural in his life, and yet he was saying peculiar things,
and his words were most unnatural.

“Théophraste, you frighten me,” she cried, and in her fear,
groaned, “My poor child.”

Théophraste grew terribly angry. He threw himself at his wife, and
threatened to strike her. “You know perfectly well that I do not
wish to be called a child since the death of Jeanneton-Venes. I am no
child.”

Marceline swore that she would never do it again, and in the depths
of her soul regretted the unlucky moment which had given her husband
proprietorship of a document which had brought into the household
such fears and such follies. She knew neither Marie Antoinette, nor
Jeanneton-Venes, although he continually referred to them. He had a
familiar way of expressing himself about these women which made her
uneasy, and finally the unexpected sentences, spoken by Théophraste,
and his actions, made her dread the incomprehensible Théophraste of
two hundred years ago. It made her long for the former Théophraste,
so kind, so easy to understand. Then she gave herself up to bitter
reflections upon the theory of reincarnation.

Théophraste finished dressing, and then announcing that he would
not breakfast at home, said that he had a rendezvous with his friend
Va-de-Bon Cœur, at the corner of the Rue Mazarin and Rue Guinegaud,
to do a good turn for M. de Francouse, but as that rendezvous was after
breakfast, he intended enjoying the air in the Moulin de Chopinette.

“You will leave my green umbrella here,” he said, “and I will take
my black feather.” Then, putting the final touches to his cravat, he
went out. On the landing he met Signor Petito, the Italian professor,
who was also going downstairs. Signor Petito bowed very low, complained
of the state of the weather, and complimented Théophraste on his
appearance.

Théophraste answered in a less amiable tone, as he was not desiring the
Signor’s company, and he demanded of him if Madame Petito could not be
induced to learn another air on the piano than “Carnival de Venice.”
But Signor Petito replied, smiling, that she was already studying
“Love’s Destiny,” but in future she would study only the pieces
which would please M. Longuet. He then asked, “Which way are you
going?”

“For a turn in the Moulin de Chopinette; but the weather is too bad,
so I will have to go down to the Porcherons.”

“To the Porcherons?” Signor Petito was going to ask, but he changed
his mind. “Where is the Porcherons?” he asked. “I will go, too.”

“Aha, indeed!” said M. Longuet, glancing curiously at Signor Petito.
“You too will go to the Porcherons?”

“Go there or somewhere else,” said Signor Petito, pleasantly, and he
followed Théophraste.

At the end of a short silence Signor Petito ventured to ask, “Where
are your treasures, M. Longuet?”

Théophraste faced about suddenly. “What has put such an idea into
your head?” he exclaimed.

“Do you not remember the day that you brought the specimen of your
handwriting and asked for my opinion?”

“I remember, and you were wrong,” said Théophraste drily, as he
opened his umbrella.

Signor Petito, in nowise discouraged, placed himself under the shelter
of Théophraste’s umbrella. “Oh! M. Longuet, I did not say that to
annoy you.”

They arrived at the corner of the Avenue Tre-daine. Théophraste was in
very bad humor.

“Monsieur,” he said, “I have an appointment at the tavern of the
Veau-qui-telle, by the side of the Chapel Porcherons, here, you see.”

“But we are at the Chapel Notre Dame de Lor-rete, and not the
Porcherons, at all.”

Théophraste disregarded Petito’s remark, and suddenly said to him,
“Do you know that there is a price on my head?”

Signor Petito seemed taken aback by this sudden change of tone.

“It will cost them dear, though, to get my head,” said Théophraste.
“Do you know how much it will cost, Signor, the head of L’Enfant?
No? Very well. I am going to tell you, since the occasion has presented
itself, and I am going to tell you the whole story, which may be
profitable to you.”

Then, without any preparation, he related in the most natural way
possible, his existence previous to his present one.

“My head is worth 20,000 pounds,” said he, “and you know it very
well.” And as he pronounced these words he struck the table such a
blow that Signor Petito recoiled instinctively.

“Here is the history of it all. I was walking, two hundred years
ago, in the Rue de Vauregard, with my hands in my pocket, without arms,
without even a sword, with the most honest intentions in the world, when
a man met me. He bowed almost to the ground, and told me that my face
reminded him so much of some one he knew. He was called ‘Old Man
Bidel,’ or ‘Bidel the Good-natured,’ and he said that he had a
secret to confide to me.

I encouraged him by a friendly tap on the shoulder, and he confided his
secret to me. He whispered in my ear that the Regent had promised twenty
thousand pounds to whoever would arrest the Enfant, and he knew where
the Enfant was hiding. That I looked to him like a man of courage, and
that he, with my aid, would do anything to get the 20,000 pounds. He
said that he would divide the reward.

“The old man Bidel was on the wrong track, Signor Petito, for I also
knew where to find L’Enfant, seeing that I was that person.”

Signor Petito did not wish to believe any of this, as he could see
for himself that M. Longuet had been out of infancy a good many years.
However, he dared not say anything. Théophraste continued, “I replied
to the old man Bidel, that it was a happy chance and that I thanked
Heaven for putting him in my path, and I made him conduct me to the
place where he could find the Enfaut. He said to me, ‘To-night, the
Enfant sleeps at the Capucine, in the Tavern Suite, which bears as a
sign the Cross of the St. Hester.’

“It was true, Signor Petito, the old man Bidel was very well informed.
I congratulated him, and we passed just then a cutlery shop, and I
bought a small knife, much to the astonishment of Bidel, who asked me
what I planned to do with such a weapon. I replied to him that with a
small knife like this one could kill a fly, and I plunged it into his
heart. He sank down, raised his arms wildly for a few moments, and
died.”

Signor Petito, who at first had moved away from Théophraste, now rose
and ran to the door, and was glad to get out of sight.

M. Longuet drank his wine, got up and went to the Bousset Brewery, where
Mme. Barth was standing, making up her books. He said to her, “Mme.
Taconet-------”

Mme. Barth demanded why he called her Mine. Taconet, but he disregarded
her question, and continued, “If Signor Petito comes here again, you
will tell him for me that the first time I find him in my way, I will
cut his ears off.” Saying this, Théophraste fondled the handle of his
umbrella as one grasps the handle of a dagger.

There was no doubt about it, he had his black plume. He had become the
Other entirely.

The fog was still thick and he did not think of breakfasting yet. He
walked into the sulphurous mist like one in a dream. He crossed the
whole of the Quarter of An tin, and that which was formerly the Avenue
L’Enrique, until he came under the shadows of the towers of Trinity,
which he called the Chateau du Coq. On his arrival at the St. Lazare, he
believed that he was at the Petite Pologue.

But little by little the fog cleared away, and his dream disappeared
with it. He had the most exact idea of things when he crossed
the Point Royale, and by the time he had set foot on the left bank, he
was again the honest Théophraste, and had only the vaguest idea of that
which had happened on the right bank. But he could remember this,
and when he questioned himself thoroughly, he began to experience the
different conditions or states of the soul. He discovered in himself
three distinct states. First, that which resulted from his life as an
actuality, the honest merchant; second, that which resulted from the
sudden and momentary resurrection of the Other; and third, that
which resulted from memory. The recollection was to him like a third
Théophraste, who related to the first what he had known of the second.
This resurrection of Théophraste’s was a terrible thing.

On crossing the Bridge he hurried beyond the Rue Guinegaud. He did
not care to pass by the corner of the Rue Mazarin, he knew not why. He
turned the corner by the Hotel Monniare, and almost ran into Adolphe,
who was waiting for him there.

“Have you ever heard of a person called L’Enfant, my dear
Adolphe?” he asked.

“Oh, yes, yes,” said Aldolphe, “I have heard of him. I even know
his real name, his family name.”

“Ah, what is it?” anxiously inquired Théophraste.

Adolphe for reply pushed Théophraste into the hallway of an old house,
in the Rue Guinegard, a few steps from the Hotel de la Monniare. They
climbed a tottering staircase, and entered a room in which the curtains
were drawn. Somebody had spent the night in the room.

On a little table in the corner, the trembling flame of a wax candle lit
up a portrait. It was the picture of a man about thirty years of age.
He had a robust figure, high forehead, strong nose, a smooth chin, and
large mouth and moustache. His thick hair was covered by a coarse woolen
cap, and he wore a coat over a coarse linen shirt, which appeared to be
a prison garb.

“Wait,” said Théophraste, without raising his tone, “how is it
that my portrait is in this house?”

“Your picture?” asked Adolphe. “Are you sure?”

“Who could be more sure of it than I?” said Théophraste again,
without being excited.

“Very well,” said M. Lecamus, with emotions that it would be hard to
describe. “That portrait, which is your portrait, is the portrait of
Cartouche.” When M. Lecamus turned to see the effect his words would
produce on his friend, he saw Théophraste stretched on the floor in a
dead swoon.

For a long time he worked to bring him to. He blew out the candle and
opened the windows, allowing the good air to come in. Théophraste came
to himself, and his first words were, “Adolphe, above all things do
not speak of this to my wife.”



CHAPTER X

_Cartouche’s Past_


|THE following day Théophraste and Marceline returned to the quiet life
of the Villa Flots-d’Azure. Théophraste had not mentioned a word of
the discovery, and his wife refrained from questioning him. Marceline
knew nothing yet of the terrible discovery. Théophraste’s face was
full of consternation, and it was evident to Marceline that he had
terrible things on his mind.

Adolphe was to join them in a few days; two days passed very quietly in
the villa. Marceline attended to her household duties, and Théophraste
silently prepared his fishing tackle, as he had promised Adolphe a few
days’ fishing in the Marne. On the third day, Théophraste, who had
passed a good night, showed a less agitated countenance, and began to
smile and was cheered at the prospect of Adolphe’s coming. M. Lecamus
arrived before noon, and they both received him with delight.

Taking their places at lunch their conversation turned on angling, but
nothing was said of the mysterious proceedings of the week before. After
lunch they prepared for their fishing expedition; Théophraste took care
of the lines, the rods and the bait, and Adolphe took the nets.

Going down to the water’s edge, Théophraste turned to Adolphe and
said, “Tell me, have you any news? While we are fishing I will listen
to you. I have prepared a lot of sport, but I don’t think we will do
very much to-day, if you have important news for me.”

Adolphe replied, “There is some good, and some bad news. But I must
tell you that there is more bad than good. No doubt many stories have
been invented about you, but the real truth is not entirely pleasant.”

“Are you well informed, and is your information authentic?”

“I have been to the very fountain-head, I have seen the authentic
documents. I am going to tell you what I know. If I am mistaken, correct
me.”

Théophraste threw his half-prepared bait into the water, and said,
“Go on. I must have a full explanation.”

“First,” said Adolphe, “you were born in the month of October,
1693. You were called Louis Dominique Cartouche.”

“But it is needless to call me Cartouche, no one need know that. Call
me L’Enfant. I like it much better and no one will understand.”

“Yes,” insisted Adolphe, “but you know that your name is
Cartouche. It is not an assumed name. It is said that you studied hard
in Clermont College. That you were the schoolfellow of Voltaire, and
there is a legend that while you learned to read, in the course of time,
thanks to the gypsies who taught you reading, you were never able to
write.”

“Well, that’s funny,” cried Théophraste, “for if I never
learned to write, how could I have drawn up the document in the dungeon
of the Conciergerie?”

“At the time of your trial, you declared that you did not know how
to write. You signed your depositions with a cross and you have never
written a line to show who it was.”

“But,” Théophraste said, “it was never necessary to write. In my
position I should have dreaded to compromise myself. But the document is
there.”

“Evidently. Let us return to your eleventh year. One day you were in
the Saint Laurent Faire, with some comrades, when you fell in with a
band of gypsies. The gypsies carried you away. They stole you. They
taught you the play of the cudgel, the sword, to shoot a pistol,
to jump, and to rob the pockets of the bourgeoisie without being
discovered. At your twelfth year you were an adept at this, and without
an equal for bringing back handkerchiefs, snuff boxes, and watches. The
band of gypsies found themselves at Rouen, when little Louis Dominique
fell ill. He was taken to a hospital in Rouen, and it was there that an
uncle discovered him. He recognized him, and swore to restore him to his
parents.”

Here Théophraste interrupted with a word as to his uncle, and Lecamus
becoming impatient, begged him to cease his continual interruptions,
declaring it would take some time to tell the story of Cartouche if he
would not listen to it silently.

“I would like to see you in my place,” said Théophraste.

Adolphe continued: “In a while Cartouche became the chief of a band
of brigands. He commanded about three thousand men, had more than
fifty lieutenants; it was their habit to dress exactly alike, in
cinnamon-colored coats, and doublets of silk and amaranthine, showing a
piece of black taffeta underneath the left eye. They brought against him
more than one hundred and fifty personal assassinations, and put a price
upon his head. He was tried and broken on the wheel.” “Upon hearing
this Théophraste showed evident signs of alarm. He dropped his fishing
tackle, losing it in the swift current of the river. He could not give
his mind to fishing any more that day, and so they resolved to give
up the attempt. They did not wait for sundown, to return to the Villa
Flots-d’Azure. Swinging their meagre spoils lightly in their nets
they sadly retraced their steps. Cartouche filled their minds, and their
return journey was occupied in thoughts of this dual personality.



CHAPTER XI

_Signor Petito Appears_


|WHILE waiting for the stage from Crecy to stop for them, they called
at the wayside inn, and had some refreshment, while Adolphe took up the
story of L’Enfant at the point where he had left off.

“That good uncle,” said he, “had fellow-feeling for one of his
family, and he rescued young Cartouche from his miserable lot and made
him return to his parents. His father was a cooper by trade, and
young Louis, having profited by his youthful misfortunes, swore that
henceforth he would be a good son and a diligent apprentice. He helped
his father to make casks, working from daybreak to sunset.

“He was frequently seen, during lunch hour, amusing his companions
with pretty tricks of sleight-of-hand which he had learned during the
few months he had been with the gypsies. He had become so adept at
this science that on special occasions little Louis and his family were
invited to dinners and suppers before friends, for they looked forward
to the enjoyment of these tricks of Louis’, and he became a great
success in the quarter, and he, on his part, was proud of his growing
renown.

“In the meantime he had attained that happy period where the least
sensitive of human beings feel the beating of their hearts awaken to the
most tender sentiments. Louis Dominique was in love. The object of his
affections was a charming needlewoman of the Rue Porte Foin, coquettish,
with blue eyes, golden hair, and a fine figure. I have said that this
needlewoman was a coquette. She loved dress, jewels and laces, and it
was her desire always to be better clothed than her companions. The
modest income of Louis Dominique did not permit of his paying for the
extravagant fancies of his poor seamstress, and so Cartouche stole from
his father. The latter soon found out and took steps by which he could
have his boy placed in the Convent of the Lazaretto, in the Faubourg St.
Denis.”

“Ah,” said Théophraste, “instead of combating with kindness the
wickedness of this child, they drive him to despair by incarcerating him
where he only meets with bad examples, and where the feelin g of
revolt increases, and boils over, stifling all other feelings in his
inexperienced mind. I wager that if they had not put Louis in the House
of Correction, that all the trouble would never have happened.”

“Reassure yourself,” said Adolphe. “Cartouche was never shut up in
the Convent of the Lazaretto, for while his father had discovered this
crime of Louis’, he did not tell him of it; but one Sunday morning, he
asked his son to take a walk with him. Dominique readily acquiesced, and
they were soon seen walking down the street together.

“‘Where are we going, father?’ asked Louis. ‘No matter where. By
way of the Faubourg St. Denis.5 Louis pricked up his ears. He knew that
at the end of the Faubourg St. Denis was the Lazaretto, and he also knew
that sometimes fathers escorted their boys to the Lazaretto.

“He at once felt suspicious, for his conscience was not altogether
tranquil, and when they arrived at the corner of the Faubourg St. Denis,
and the battlement of the St. Lazaretto rose before them, it seemed to
him that his father looked unnatural, and he felt uncomfortable at once.
He told his father to continue his walk, slowly, without hurrying, as he
wished to stop at the corner.

When his father returned, the son had disappeared, and he never saw him
again.”

About this time the coach had arrived, and Adolphe discontinued his tale
while they mounted to the top. Théophraste recognized M. Bache, and
Mme. Froude, and he at once bowed to them, but they did not respond.
He called them by name, but they remained mute. Théophraste could not
understand this, and turned to ask Adolphe what he thought of it, and
why they did not recognize him.

“That does not astonish me at all,” said Adolphe. “It is no wonder
to me, since the dinner the other day, that nobody bows to you. Your
extraordinary behavior was enough to upset them all. Do you not remember
how you were mounted on the table and sang that vulgar song? There were
some young ladies present, Miles. Froude and Tabouret.”

“Ah,” said Théophraste, “that accounts for Mme. Bache’s
pretending not to see me the other day in Paris, when she called at the
Pharmacy Crecy and I happened to meet her there. Never mind, Adolphe,
continue where you left off about my father. What happened to him?”

“Well, you forgot about your seamstress at the Rue Point Foin, and you
thought of her no more.

She worried over your disappearance about a fortnight, and then got
somebody else, as is done under similar circumstances to-day. The
necessity to make your way in the world recalled your old talents, and
soon you were robbing passers-by of the things in their pockets. You
operated so adroitly, that you incurred the admiration of a great
sharper, who having seen you work, stopped you at the corner of the Rue
Gallaud, and demanded of you your money or your life. ‘You shall have
my purse only when you have my life,’ said you to him, and you drew
your sword, a small sword that you had taken the day before from a
French Guardsman. The great sharper flattered you upon your courage, and
then upon your dexterity, and he begged you to accompany him home to the
Rue Bout du Monde. He told you on the way that he sought an associate,
and you could do the business. He also told you that he had a wife,
and the wife had a very pretty sister. After a while you married this
sister, though neither notary nor priest was sent for. The attachment
did not last over six months, because the sharper, his wife, and his
sister-in-law were sent to the gallows. You had already left them by
this time, and had joined the army. You were caught one day, drunk, by
a recruiting officer, and he took you to the barracks, and made you sign
on.”

By this time it was seven o’clock, and Adolphe interrupted the course
of his recital at that point, as they had to alight from the coach.

“Tell me,” said Théophraste, “I am curious to know how I was
built. Was I a handsome man, a tall man?”

“They represent you thus at the theater, in M. d’Ennury’s play,
but on the contrary, according to the poet Granvel, you were a conceited
man, and always fond of singing your own praises. You were dark, lean,
small, but of great courage. You were enterprising and bold, and very
alert.”

“You have not told me,” said Théophraste, “how you got that
picture in the house on the Rue Guinegaud.”

“It is a copy of a photograph by Nedar. He photographed a wax mask,
which ought to resemble you, as that mask was made from your face by the
order of the Regent. Nedar photographed that mask in 1859. The mask was
found in the Chateau de St. Germain.”

“Oh! I want to see it,” cried Théophraste—“to touch it. We must
go to St. Germain to-morrow.”

By this time they had reached the house, and Marceline, in neat
dishabille, smilingly opened the door and greeted them.

Théophraste had a great desire to see and touch that waxen mask that
had been made from his face, and the desire was still greater when
Adolphe entered into the details of it. He told him that it had been in
the Chateau de St. Germain en Laye, since the 24th of April, 1849.

“It appears that the portrait was given by an abbot, one Viallier, to
be inherited by one Richot, an old officer of the Hussars of King Louis
XVI. M. Richot died at St. Germain. He owned the portrait for many
years, one most precious, especially as it had belonged to the royal
family. The wax mask was moulded by a Florentine artist some days before
Cartouche’s punishment. The head-dress was a woolen or coarse felt
cap, his clothing was a shirt of very coarse linen, a waistcoat, and
another vest, and a doublet of black camelot. But the most remarkable
thing of all was that Cartouche’s hair was cut off of his corpse
and pasted on the waxen mask. The whole was shut up in a gilded wooden
chest, large and deep, of beautiful workmanship. A Venetian glass
protected the portrait, and one could still see the escutcheon of the
arms of France on the chest.”

Théophraste asked Adolphe where he had found such precise details,
and was told that they were the result of two days’ searching in the
forgotten archives of the most noted libraries and museums of Paris.
There he found his hair, his moustache, and his clothes, two hundred
years old.

In spite of the horror which these relics of a man so monstrous ought to
have inspired in him, Théophraste could not control his impatience to
see them, to touch them. Here was Théophraste Longuet, whose name was
synonymous with honor, who had always” feared the shedding of blood,
cherishing in his heart the coarse remains of the greatest brigand on
earth. When he had again command of his senses, he did not find in the
bottom of his soul a feeling of absolute despair, but of great pity, a
pity so keenly felt that he did not weep only for himself, Théophraste,
but also moved him to pity Cartouche. He asked himself which was the
more dominant, honest Théophraste, carrying with him the brigand
Cartouche, or the brigand Cartouche, shut up within honest Théophraste.
“It is necessary that we should understand each other,” he said
aloud. He felt that he should not have uttered that sentence which must
have seemed odd, but which expressed so well the double and yet unique
preoccupation of his soul that he could not restrain himself. A great
light dawned upon him at the same time, that recalled the theory of
reincarnation that had been explained to him by M. Lecamus. He connected
reincarnation with the natural evolution of things, and of individuals,
that which was no other than transformation. “Does it not point to
the fact that souls reincarnate themselves in order to pass according to
natural law to advancement to a better state? It is the progressive step
of being. Well, the natural law which certain persons call God, did not
find anything better on the earth than the body of Théophraste Longuet
through which to make the criminal soul of Cartouche evolve to a better
state.”

When that idea got a firm hold on him, in place of the deepest despair,
which had led him to faint, he found himself prompted by a sentiment
almost akin to pride. He was entrusted with the destiny of the world.
He, the humble but honest Théophraste, entrusted with the regeneration
in ideal splendor, of the soul of shadows and of the bloody Louis
Dominique Cartouche, called L’Enfant. He accepted this unexpected task
willingly, since he could not do otherwise, and he put himself at once
on his guard. Instead of saying, “It is necessary for us to understand
each other,” he immediately ordered Cartouche to obey Théophraste,
and he promised himself to lead him a life so hard that he could not
say without smiling, “Poor Cartouche.” He had charged M. Lecamus to
write everything possible about Louis Dominique Cartouche in such a way
that he could not be ignorant of anything that could be known of his
life. With that and with what his black feather and his memory had
taught him, he justly thought he could resist in spirit the Other
One, which would allow him to act accordingly. He partly confided his
reflections to Adolphe, who approved of them, but warned him against a
tendency he had to separate Théophraste from Cartouche.

“You must not forget,” said he, “that they are one. You have the
instincts of the gardeners of the Ferte-sous-Jonarre. Those instincts
are good, but you have the soul of Cartouche, which is detestable. Take
care. You are his declared enemy, the question is raised as to who will
vanquish— the soul of former years, or the instincts of today.”

Théophraste asked Adolphe if the soul of Cartouche was really
altogether detestable, and was happy to learn that it had some good
points. Adolphe said that Cartouche had expressly forbidden to kill or
even wound passers-by without cause. When he operated in Paris with some
of his bands, and they brought victims to him, he spoke to them with so
much politeness and kindness, that they always returned a part of the
booty to him. Sometimes they would limit matters to a simple exchange of
clothes. When he found letters or pictures in the pockets of the coats
thus exchanged, he ran after the ex-proprietors to return them. It was
a maxim of that extraordinary individual, that a man ought not to
be robbed twice in the same night, nor were they to be too severely
treated, so as not to prevent the Parisians from going out in the
evening. Therefore he ordered his men to take the utmost care not to
kill any one without good reason. At this time the man was not yet
thoroughly wicked. Up to then he had always had a reason for every act.
It is to be regretted, however, that he had had one hundred and fifty
reasons to assassinate.

Let us return to the wax mask.

Théophraste and Adolphe were going down the stairs in the station
of St. Germain-en-Laye, when suddenly Théophraste thought he saw a
familiar figure ahead of him, among a group of travelers. Moved by a
feeling over which he had no control, he ran rapidly towards the group,
but the figure had disappeared. Where had he seen that figure before? It
was so repulsive to him. Adolphe asked him the cause of his agitation,
and he recovered himself at once.

“I would swear,” said Théophraste, “that it was Signor Petito,
the Italian professor of the floor below. What did Signor Petito come to
St. Germain for? I do not want to run foul of him.”

“Well, what has he done, then?” asked Adolphe.

“Oh, nothing. Only if he runs across my way, I swear I will cut off
his ears, and you know I will do it if I say so.”

They then went, without any more thought of Signor Petito, to the
castle. They entered the Museum, and asked to see the wax mask of
Cartouche. Théophraste became enraged when he learned that it was not
to be found there, and in his excitement he poked the handle of his
green umbrella into the eye of a plaster cast of a member of the Legion
of Honor. An old guard came up and told him that he knew well there had
been a wax mask of Cartouche in St. Germain, and that it could be found,
he thought, in the library. But the latter had been closed up for eight
days for repairs. Théophraste gave that man a franc, and they turned
their steps toward the terrace, promising themselves to come again at
a later time, for the farther the wax mask seemed away, the more
Théophraste burned to touch it.

It was a beautiful day, and they walked together in the forest, in the
magnificent walk which led to the battlements of the Loge, which were
constructed in front of the Castle Germain, by Queen Anne of Austria.

As they reached the south angle of the ramparts, it seemed that
Théophraste recognized again, gliding in a thicket, the repulsive form
of Signor Petito.

Adolphe insisted that he was mistaken.



CHAPTER XII

_Théophraste’s Memory Is Refreshed_


|THEY wandered down to the lawns at the foot of the ramparts, and
walking across the green grass, they stopped at the foot of a
forked tree. They were seated chatting for some time, when suddenly
Théophraste’s face seemed to light up as if he recalled something. It
seemed as if his memory had suddenly become awakened to events of years
ago. His whole soul was filled with sweet memories, like the tenderest
recollections of youthful days returning, after having been forgotten
for a long time. In his mind he saw perfectly the spirit of Cartouche,
as if he had never been separated from him by two hundred years. It
seemed to come suddenly to him, and as the events came back to him, he
related them to Adolphe, in the following words:

“Adolphe, my friend, I must tell you that at that time my fortune was
complete. I was dreaded and yet liked by all. I was even liked by my
victims. I despoiled them so gallantly that they went their way along
through the city singing my praises. I had not yet been attacked by that
wonderful sanguinary instinct which some months later made me commit the
most atrocious crimes. Everything prospered with me; everybody feared me
and loved me. I was happy, merry, of a magnificent audacity, gallant in
love, and the ruler of Paris. They said that I was the greatest of
all robbers; that was only half true, because it was imperative that I
should partake of the sovereignty with M. Law, the Controller-General of
Finance. My glory was at its zenith; for often he and his people paid
me tribute. But he imagined he might excite the Regent against me. One
evening when I had stolen into his room in his hotel, disguised as
a lackey to Lord Dermott, the Regent sent for Monsieur d’Argenson,
keeper of the seals, and told him that he had eight hours in which to
arrest me. M. d’Argenson promised everything he wanted, provided they
let him go by the way of the Convent of the Madeline du Frainel, where
his mistress, Mlle. Husson, had taken refuge. Eight hours later, M.
d’Argenson was still at the Convent with Mlle. Husson. As for me, my
dear Adolphe, during that time, I attended to my small affairs, and I
commanded without any trouble three thousand men. It was the month of
September, the nights were beautiful and clear, and we profited by this
to get into the house of the Spanish Ambassador, who lived in the old
hotel of the Marshal d’Aucre, in the Rue de Fournon, the same house
even which has since been occupied by the Guard de Paris. We entered
his wife’s bedroom and took possession of all her dresses, of a buckle
ornament with twenty-seven large diamonds, a necklace of very fine
pearls, six plates, six table sets, six knives and ten coral goblets.
We rolled it all up in a table cloth, and went to supper at the house
of the Belle Helene, who kept what you called the Inn of the Harp in the
Rue de la Harp.

“Oh, Adolphe, what a wonderful thing memory is! Truly I do not know
why I said that _you_ called it the Inn of the Harp, unless in my mind
you are representing a friend whom I had, who was as good as you, and
whom I loved as well as you, whose name was Va-de-Bon Cœur. By the
Thunder of the Breast, but he was a handsome young fellow! He was a
sergeant of the French Guards, and he was my lieutenant. I must tell
you, my dear Adolphe, that I commanded a considerable number of
French Guardsmen. At the time of my arrest, one hundred and fifty
non-commissioned officers, soldiers of the French Guard, hid themselves,
and disappeared over to the colonies. They dreaded lest I should
compromise them. They were wrong, however, for torture could not make me
speak. However, let me leave those melancholy moments, and come back to
the beautiful September nights. We will proceed to the time when it
was customary for the Parisians to take up their new abodes. The Regent
showed still more anger against me and M. d’Argenson, when he learned
about the escapade against the Spanish Ambassador. Imagine his fury as
I turned my attentions to him. Va-de-Bon Cœur, being on guard at the
Palais Royal, carried off two vermilion flambeaux, which the Duke of
Orleans prized very highly. The Regent was so afraid of being robbed
that instead of wearing silver-faced buckles and sword handles, he
resolved to substitute carved steel. On the first day that he carried
one of that kind, I, Cartouche, stole it from him as he was leaving the
opera house. The next day I sent it back to him in pieces, and I taunted
him about his apparent avarice, and upbraided him, that he, the greatest
man in France, should wish to deprive his unfortunate confrères, the
silversmiths, of a livelihood.

“He answered me publicly by proclaiming that he was very anxious to
know me, and that he would give from his own pocket 20,000 pounds to
whoever would bring Cartouche to him. The next day, as he walked to
Saint Germain and was breakfasting in the castle, he found under his
napkin a message of which you will readily see the sense: ‘My lord,
you can see me for nothing. It may be to-night, at midnight, behind the
Anne of Austria Wall in the forest, where Cartouche will expect you. You
are brave. Come alone. If you come accompanied, you run the danger of
death.’

“At midnight, I awaited the Regent; twelve o’clock was still
sounding in the Loges, when the Regent appeared. The moonlight made the
forest seem like fairyland—enchanted, such as one sees at the theater.
The forest, a marvelous, transparent blue, seemed bereft of all its
branches, of all its foliage, of all its thickets.

“‘Behold me, Cartouche,’ said the prince; ‘I come to you armed
with my sword alone, as you have wished. I run perhaps the greatest
danger,’ he said in a clear, derisive voice, ‘but who would not
risk everything to see at close range at midnight, in the heart of the
forest, the form of Cartouche, when it costs nothing?’ Oh, Adolphe,
my friend, that thou couldst have been there to hear me respond to the
Regent of France! To be sure, I am only the son of a poor cooper of the
Rue du Pontaux-Choux, but what Condé, what Montmorency could have bowed
with more grace, sweeping the wet grass with the plume of his hat? The
Duke de Richelieu himself could not kneel more elegantly than I did, nor
present in a more gracious manner to my lord the purse that I had taken
from his pocket. ‘I am,’ said I, ‘the most humble servant of my
lord, and I beg him to take back from Cartouche this purse that I had
the audacity to steal with so much coolness, only to prove to my lord
that his highness finds himself face to face with Cartouche.’ The
Regent begged me to preserve that purse for a remembrance of him. He was
wrong to relate, in the course of time, this anecdote; for the report
was spread that he was one of my band. I believe that he had started to
go away, when he put his arm in mine and dragged me as far to the right
as we are sitting to-day.

“Then the regent did me the honor to put his arm in mine, and I saw
that he had something of a secret nature to confide to me. He did not
wait’ to acknowledge that he counted upon my ingenuity to avenge
him for an offense that Monsieur the Controller-General had committed
against him. He told me that he was quite in love with the courtesan,
Emily; that she was his mistress, and had been for fifteen days, and
that he had learned from La Fillon that M. Law had the promise of her
favors the next night against the present that he would make her of a
ten-thousand-louis necklace. He was sure of it, for La Fillon was never
mistaken. Was it not from her that he had had a hint of the Cellamore
conspiracy? All the rogues of Paris knew La Fillon.

“La Fillon is a woman of five feet ten inches, who was admirably
formed, a ravishingly beautiful face. From the age of fifteen years,
that model beauty thought that Nature had not provided such rare
treasures to be hidden, so she lavished them. The Duke d’Orleans, a
long time before the regency, loved her. He remained smitten with her
for more than a year. It was for her that he had constructed, in a
retired part of the gardens of Saint Germain, a sort of grotto, lighted
mysteriously by several rays directed upon a bed of mats, upon which his
mistress stretched herself, clothed in her blonde hair only. He showed
them to all who passed that way, and in that way he made numerous
friends. But the fifteen years of La Fillon flew away in happy days. Now
she had no longer the enjoyment of intrigue, of which she has made
two parts—gallantry and observation. So she furnished some important
information to the police and to M. d’Argenson, guard of the seals,
and some remarkable subjects for the amours of the Regent. It was she
who procured Emily for him, who is by far the prettiest girl in Paris.
Everybody wanted to steal her from him. Law, who was the richest, swore
to succeed there. The bargain was concluded for the next night.

“‘Cartouche,’ the Regent said to me, after having explained
his small affairs to me, ‘thou art a brave man. I give thee the
necklace.’

“And he went away in the moonlight, giving me a slight wave of the
hand. This kind of mission that I received—to thwart the loves of the
Superintendent, and avenge those of the Duke of Orleans, filled me with
pride.

“Being back in Paris, I learned near the morning, through my police
(which was the best information of the epoch), that the courtesan Emily
lived at a small hotel in the Mardis, at the corner of the Rue Barbette
and of the Trois-Pavillons, and that the Regent showed more attachment
for her than he had ever for the Duchess of Berry, with whom he was
disgusted long since for La Baratere, who shut herself up in the Convent
of Chelles, less on account of her love for God than for her liking for
the beautiful nuns (what morals, my dear Adolphe, what morals!), and it
consoled her that she had recently been mistaken for Mlle, de Valois,
uniquely occupied with the Duke de Richelieu. This courtesan, Emily,
was no more than an opera girl, but her beauty, as I have told you,
surpassed all that one can imagine—I was not long in judging for
myself.

“Twenty-four hours after the interview of Saint Germain, that is to
say the midnight following, I went out with a placard describing exactly
the angle of the Rue des Trois-Pavillons and the Rue Barbette. I had, as
if by chance, a pistol in each hand, which made it impossible for me to
decently bow to Mlle. Emily, who appeared, considering the hour, in the
most polite dishabille, with the Superintendent, who presented a casket
to her in which there shone the gems of a necklace, which was valued at
the least at ten thousand louis. I excused myself for the necessity
of keeping my hat on my head, and begged Monsieur, the Superintendent,
seeing the encumbrance of my hands, to close the casket on the necklace,
and to put the whole thing in the pocket of my cinnamon coat, promising
my gratitude or recognition for this slight service.

“As he hesitated, I proceeded with my presentation, and when he knew
that my name was Cartouche, he obeyed with alacrity.

“I begged Mlle. Emily to reassure herself, declaring that she was in
no danger, of which she was convinced, for she began to laugh heartily
at the discomfiture of M. Law. I laughed also. I said to M. Law that his
necklace was worth 10,000 louis, but if he wished to send the next day,
towards five o’clock in the afternoon, a confidence man to the corner
of the Rue Vaugirard and of the Rue des Fosses—Monsieur le Prince,
with five thousand louis, they would return the collar, on the word of
honor of Cartouche. He replied to me that the bargain was concluded and
we took leave of each other.

“Two days later some one related the adventure to the Regent, who
was at first overjoyed, but whose face changed when he learned the
culmination of the event. The man, Law, had given the five thousand
louis as was arranged, to the man, Cartouche, and he expected the jewel
box, when the other told him that Cartouche had already gone to carry it
himself to Mlle. Emily. Law ran to the house of the courtesan, saw the
necklace and demanded the price.

“‘It is already received,’ replied Emily, turning her back on him.

“‘And by whom?’ exclaimed M„ le Superintendent.

“‘Evidently by the one who brought me the necklace—by Cartouche,
who has just left here. Should I not pay upon receipt of the necklace?
And immediately? I have no credit, myself,’ added she, shouting over
the discomfited face of the man of the Rue Quincamprix.

“At the Palais Royal, my dear Adolphe, the jest had the success that
you can imagine. It did not matter, the Regent had found out that I
had surpassed his instructions, and in his anger he again sent M.
d’Argenson to hunt for me. He, however, was again diverted by the
attractions of Mlle. Husson. It was a fact, my dear Adolphe, that
women were a source of great help to me, and I leaned towards them
considerably. But they contributed much to my ruin, also. Knowing of
the propriety of my manners, and of my exclusive love for Marceline, you
must think how two hundred years changes a man.”

Elated at his narrative, Adolphe laughed at the pleasantry which
terminated it. “How two hundred years changes a man!” M. Longuet
laughed at it. The supernatural and terrifying antithesis between
Cartouche and Longuet, which had plunged him at first into the most
melancholy fright, now incited him to make jests. His excuse was that
he did not see anything to fear. He only found his case a little odd.
He joked about it with Adolphe, and even resolved to no longer keep
his true personality from Marceline. She was intelligent and would
understand. He imagined that this personality would present dangers to
himself and to society, but, behold! it existed no longer in the real
condition, but only in his memory, as a vivid picture. He would not have
to control Cartouche as he had dreaded; he would only have to ask
him from time to time, some anecdote, which would help M. Longuet in
conversation. The history of the Regent, M. Law, and of the courtesan,
were sure proofs of that condition of the soul. How it had glided from
his memory without effort! What evil, then, was there in that? After
all, if he had been Cartouche, it was not his fault, and it would
be very foolish in him to be angry about it. He even joked about the
fortune.

At midnight they made their way back to Paris. As they arrived at the
station St. Lazare, M. Lecamus asked him the following question:

“My friend, when you are Cartouche, and you take your walks in Paris,
and you see the life of Paris, what astonishes you most? Is it the
telephone, or the railway, or the Mitro, or the Eiffel Tower?”

Théophraste replied, “No, no. That which astonishes me most when I am
Cartouche is the police force.”



CHAPTER XIII

_The Cat_


|IT seems that the destiny which controls the lives of men, takes a
diabolical pleasure in preceding the worst catastrophe by the serenest
of joys. Thus is it often that we are warned of the tempest by the calm.

Thus in the beginning of the misfortunes of Théophraste, Marceline and
Adolphe, there was something which was not of very great importance in
itself—the strange behavior of a small black cat.

I have not yet described in detail the apartment occupied by the
household of Longuet in the Rue Geronde. It is now necessary to do so.
It was a small apartment, rented for twelve hundred francs a year, on
passing through the folding-doors of which one entered a vestibule
of restricted dimensions, all the furniture of which consisted of a
polished oak trunk, which seemed to fill the whole vestibule. Besides
the front door, four doors opened into the vestibule: the kitchen door,
the dining-room door, to the left; the parlor door, and that of the
bedroom, on the right. The parlor and bedroom windows looked out into
the street, and those of the kitchen and dining-room looked out into the
court. The window of the little room in which M. Longuet had made his
office, opened on the street also. This room was between the bedroom and
the dining-room, and could be entered by doors from either of these. As
to the furniture in this apartment, that in the office is all that need
be described. There was a small desk against the wall.

These great misfortunes of Théophraste, Marceline and Adolphe centered
around something which was not of great importance in itself: it was
only an ornament in the form of a small black cat, which was placed over
the patent lock with which the small desk was fastened, thus hiding it.

This little black cat was nothing more than an ingenious silken cushion,
which served the double purpose of pin-cushion and pen-wiper. There was
also a tea-table in this room.

Upon returning from their trip, Adolphe accompanied Théophraste up the
stairway, and as it was late he announced his intention of leaving at
once. He ordered his friend to go to bed so that he might get up early
the next day to make further researches. He shook his hand with a show
of sincerity, and as he went downstairs, looked up to Théophraste,
who was holding the lamp for him, and murmured, “Good-bye, till
to-morrow.”

Théophraste closed the door of the apartment with the greatest care,
and as he made the second turn to the latch, he said to Marceline,
“Now that we are very often in the country, we ought to have extra
bolts for safety.”

Théophraste and Marceline searched the apartment before going to bed.
They went into the kitchen, into the dining-room, into the parlor, and
into the office. Nothing unusual had happened during their absence.
Everything was in its usual place.

Having gone to bed, Théophraste lay awake for some time. He amused
himself by thinking of Cartouche and all the wonderful things he had
done. While he tried to fall asleep, his mind kept continually going
back to the same theme. Suddenly he opened his frightened eyes in the
darkness, and laid his hand on his wife’s arm, waking her. Then, in a
voice so low that he alone knew he had spoken, he said, “Do you hear
anything?” Marceline woke with a start, and they both strained their
ears. They heard something in the apartment. It was a peculiar sound
like the purring of a cat. It seemed as if it came from the office, and
they listened intently for some minutes, too frightened to move.

Théophraste, as we have said before, was not a brave man, and he would
have given a hundred thousand francs for it to have been daylight.
Marceline whispered in his ear, “Go and see what is the matter.
You must, Théophraste. Take the revolver from the table drawer.”
Théophraste just had the strength to answer, “You know very well it
is not loaded.”

They listened again, but the noise had stopped. Marceline hoped that
they had been mistaken. Théophraste, quaking with fear, then got out of
the bed, and taking the revolver, softly opened the door which led into
the office.

The night was clear, and the moon shone across the large blue
table-cloth which was spread on the table. Théophraste recoiled. He
pushed the door to by pressing his back against it, as if he would
hinder whatever he had seen from entering the room. “What is it?”
demanded Marceline, raising herself from the pillows. Théophraste, with
chattering teeth, answered, “It does not purr any more, but it has
moved. It is on the tea-table.”

“What is on the tea-table?”

“The cat!”

“Are you sure it was in its right place last night?” asked
Marceline.

“Perfectly sure. I put my scarf-pin on it when I was going to bed.”

“Oh, you only think that you did it,” said Marceline. “Shall I
light the lamp?”

“No, no. We can escape in the darkness. If I open the door on the
landing we can call the conciergerie.”

“You are not afraid, then?” asked Marceline, who, now that she heard
it was the cat, was recovering her senses. “It was an illusion that we
had. You must have changed his place last night.”

“After all it is very possible,” said Théophraste. He only wanted
to get back to bed.

“Put it in its place,” insisted Marceline. Théophraste decided to
do so. He went into the office, and with a hasty, trembling hand took
the cat from the tea-table and put it on the desk, and soon found
himself back in bed. By this time they had recovered their composure.

They even smiled in the darkness to think that they had been afraid.
However, a quarter of an hour elapsed, and they were frightened to hear
again the rattle of the ornament. “Oh, it is not possible,” cried
Marceline; “we are the victims of hallucination. There is nothing to
astonish us after what has happened at the Conciergerie.”

It was Marceline who got up this time. She pulled open the door of the
office, and came back at once towards Théophraste, and said with a
voice so weak that it seemed far away, “You did not, then, put the cat
back on the desk?”

“But I did,” growled Théophraste.

“Well, but it is back on the tea-table.”

“My God!” said the man hiding his head under the coverings.

Marceline was convinced that, in the disordered condition of his mind,
he had left the cat on the tea-table. She took it, holding her breath,
and put it on the table. The cat rattled audibly again as she did it,
but neither Marceline nor Théophraste saw anything in this. Marceline
went back to bed again.

Another quarter of an hour passed, at the end of which they again heard
the same noise. Then an incredible thing happened. Théophraste
turned like a tiger and cried out, “What is it? It is only too true,
something unusual is happening.”



CHAPTER XIV

_Petito Loses His Ears_


|WE will now go downstairs to the flat below, into the apartment
occupied by Signor and Signora Petito. Signora Petito is saying, “I
do not understand M. Longuet’s conduct at the dinner at all. He spoke
such vague, peculiar words.”

“Well,” answers Signor Petito, “he has this treasure which may
be found in the environs of Paris, and he is thinking of it. It
is certainly very interesting, and I would like to find it myself.
According to the document, my opinion is that one ought to look either
at the side of Montrouge, or at the side of Montmartre. I am inclined
to think that it is Montmartre, on acount of the ‘Coq.’ There was
a castle ‘Coq de Percherons’ there. You will find it if you look at
this plan of old Paris.”

They looked at the plan, and after a short silence Signor Petito added,
“It is still very vague. For myself, I think that one ought to attach
importance to the words ‘Le Four.’”

“My dear, then it is more and more vague,” said his wife, “for
there are many furnaces around Paris. There were plaster furnaces, and
quicklime furnaces, and many others.”

“My idea,” said Signor Petito, “is that Le Four does not mean
‘the furnaces.’ I remember that there was a space after the word
‘Four,’ on the paper. Pass my dictionary.” Signora Petito,
noiselessly, and with great care, brought him the lexicon. They looked
over all the words beginning with the syllable ‘Four.’ On account
of the article, le, they decided not to pay any attention to feminine
words.

Just then the clock on the mantel-shelf struck midnight. Signora Petito
got up, and said to the Signor, “Now is the time. We will find some
useful information on the floor above. They cannot hear you in your
stockinged feet. I will watch behind their door at the head of their
stairway. You know there is no danger, they are still in the country.”

Two minutes later a form glided over the landing at M. Longuet’s door,
put a key into the lock stealthily, and went into the vestibule. M.
Longuet’s apartment was arranged exactly like Signor Petito’s, and
so the latter easily found his way into the dining-room. He acted with
perfect composure, believing the apartment to be uninhabited. He pushed
the office door open. As it was evidently the lock of the desk that he
wished to reach. Signor Petito took the ornament which inconvenienced
him and placed it on the tea-table. Then he quitted the room
noiselessly, and entered the dining-room, from there into the vestibule,
for he seemed to hear a voice on the stairway. He was without doubt
mistaken, for he listened intently for some time without hearing a
sound. When he came back into the office, he found the cat again on the
desk, and purring. His hair seemed to stand on end, for the horror
which had seized upon him was not to be compared to the horror which had
seized upon those in the next room.

Signor Petito remained immovable in the bluish moonlight. With a timid
hand he seized the little black cat. The movement caused by this made
the cat purr again. Now he understood that in the cat’s pasteboard
body there was a little ball, balanced in such a manner that it
ingeniously simulated the purring of a cat when it was moved.

How frightened he had been! He felt a fool. All was explained. Did he
not remove the cat before returning to the vestibule? Instead of having
placed the cat on the table, as he thought, he must have replaced it
on the desk. That was a simple explanation, and he paid the strictest
attention this time when he placed it on the table.

While he was doing this there was a fresh noise on the stairway. It was
only Signora Petito, who had very incautiously sneezed.

Signor Petito went hurriedly and silently back into the vestibule, and
when he was reassured, went back into the office again.

The black cat had been returned to the desk again!

He thought that he would die of fright. A miraculous intervention had
arrested him on the verge of a great crime, and he uttered a hurried
prayer in which he promised heaven never to do it again. However,
another quarter of an hour passed, and he attributed these surprising
events to his conscience, and returning, placed the cat back again on
the table.

Just then the door of the room was violently opened, and Signor
Petito fell into the arms of M. Longuet, who did not express the least
astonishment.

M. Longuet threw Signor Petito on the floor in disgust, and picking
up the ornament, opened the window, and threw it out into the street.
During this time, Signor Petito, who had gotten up, could hardly compose
his features, for Mme. Longuet, in her chemise, was threatening him
with a revolver. He could only stammer, “I beg your pardon, I really
thought that you were in the country.”

M. Longuet went up to him, and taking him by one of his ears, said,
“Now, my dear Signor Petito, we must talk.”

Marceline lowered the barrel of her revolver, and felt pleased at seeing
her husband show such courage.

“You see, my dear Signor Petito,” continued Théophraste, “that I
am calm. A little while ago I was getting angry, but it was only at that
little cat which was keeping me from going to sleep, and which I have
thrown out of the window. Rut be assured, my dear Signor, I shall not
throw you out of the window. You have not kept me from sleeping, you
have even taken the precaution to put on slippers. Many thanks. But why,
my dear Signor, do you make that ridiculous grimace? It is without doubt
on account of your ear. I have some good news to tell you which will
perhaps put you at ease about your ears. Your ears will make you suffer
no more.”

Having finished his sarcastic talk, Théophraste begged his wife to pass
him a cloth, and ordered Signor Petito to go into the kitchen. “Do not
be surprised that I receive you in the kitchen. I prize my carpets very
much, and you will probably bleed like a pig.”

M. Longuet drew towards him a white wooden table, which he placed in the
middle of the kitchen. He asked Marceline to place an oil-cloth over the
table, and get him a large bowl. He then asked for a carving set,
which he said she would find in the dresser drawer, which stood in the
dining-room. Marceline tried to ask for an explanation, but her husband
looked at her so coldly and so strangely, that, shuddering, she could
only obey. Signor Petito, in a cold perspiration, tried to reach the
door of the kitchen, but M. Longuet stood between him and the means of
exit, and commanded him to be seated.

“Signor Petito,” said he, in a tone of the most sarcastic
politeness, “you have a face which displeases me. It is not your
fault; but then it is not mine, either. Certainly you are by far the
most cowardly and the most despicable of thieves. But what does that
matter? But do not smile, Signor Petito.” It is certain that Signor
Petito had no intention of smiling.

“You have ridiculously large ears, and surely with such ears, you dare
not pass by the corner of the Guiliere.”

Signor Petito clasped his hands and stammered, “But my wife awaits
me.”

“What are you doing, Marceline?” Théophraste cried impatiently.
“Do not you see that Signor Petito is in a hurry? His wife is waiting
for him. Have you the carving set?”

“I could not find the fork,” answered Marceline in a trembling
voice. (The truth was, Marceline did not know what to say, for she
believed that her husband had become completely insane, and between
Signor Petito the house-breaker, and Théophraste mad, she was in
anything but an enviable position.) She had hidden herself behind
a cupboard door, and her distress was so extreme, that in turning
suddenly, when Théophraste hurled a volley of insults at her, she
upset her favorite vase, which made a loud noise, thus adding to the
confusion.

Théophraste resorted once more to oaths and insults, and called
Marceline in such a tone that she ran to him in spite of herself. The
spectacle which awaited her in the kitchen was atrocious. Signor Petito
was lying on the wooden table, his eyes bursting from their orbits, a
handkerchief in his mouth, which nearly suffocated him. Théophraste had
had the time, and was possessed with the extraordinary strength to tie
his hands and ankles with cords. Signor Petito’s head hung a little
beyond the edge of the table, and under it there was a bowl which M.
Longuet had placed there to prevent soiling anything. The latter with
palpitating nostrils had caught Signor Petito by the hair with his left
hand. In his right he clasped the handle of a notched kitchen knife.

Gnashing his teeth, he cried out, “Strike the flags.”

As he said this he made the first cut at the right ear. The cartilage
resisted. Signor Petito’s muffled groans could just be heard. M.
Longuet, who was still in his night-shirt, worked like a surgeon bent
upon a difficult operation. Marceline’s strength failed her, and she
fell upon her knees. Signor Petito, in attempting to struggle, threw the
blood from his ears across the kitchen, and Théophraste, letting go his
hair, struck him a blow across the head. “Be a little careful,” said
he, “you are splashing the blood all over everything.”

The cartilage still resisted, so taking the right ear in his left hand,
with a strong blow with the notched knife he tore it away. He placed the
ear in a saucer which he had previously placed on the sink, and
allowed the water to flow over it. Then he came back to the second ear.
Marceline groaned very loudly, but he silenced her with a glance. The
second ear was cut off much more easily, and with more dispatch.

By this time Signor Petito had swallowed half of the handkerchief, and
was suffocating. Théophraste took the handkerchief out of his mouth and
threw it out into the clothes-basket near by. He then untied his
ankles and wrists, and signed to him to leave the apartment as soon as
possible. He had the forethought to wrap his head in a dish-cloth, so
that the blood would not stain the stairway or the janitor’s family.
As Signor Petito passed by, in agony, Théophraste put the washed ears
into his vest pocket.

“You forgot something,” he said. “What would Signora Petito say
if you went back without your ears?” He closed the door. Looking at
Marceline, who was on her knees, paralysed with horror, he wiped the
bloody knife on his sleeve.



CHAPTER XV

_Adolphe Consulted_


|THEOPHRASTE, the next day, seemed to have forgotten all the incidents
of the night before, or at least to attach very little importance to
them.

As to Marceline, she was far too agitated to make any direct mention
of it. However, she knew Adolphe would be calling at noon and she was
resolved to find out the cause of Théophraste’s actions before he
came so that she could tell Adolphe the best to act. The thing that
struck her most was Théophraste’s sudden show of courage and
strength. Before he had shown excessive lack of courage, and he was
naturally physically weak. Suddenly, to be seized with all the nerve
necessary to meet a burglar and then to have the strength to gag and
bind him and cut off his ears, was unnatural. He had always recoiled
from the sight of blood, and here he was fairly reveling in it. What
could all this mean? He had suddenly turned from a quiet, inoffensive
citizen to a ghoul.

It was with these thoughts that she approached Théophraste and demanded
an explanation. He at first was loath to tell her, but her entreaties
prevailed, and he eventually told her that it was the spirit of
Cartouche that had seized him and forced him to do these horrible
actions. He told her with a sort of bravado that there had been more
than one hundred and fifty assassinations laid to his account.

Marceline was in a terrible state of mind and shrank from him. She
declared that nothing in the world would make her live with him. She
would apply for a divorce. She thought she had married an honest man,
and now she had discovered him to be a thief and murderer. Here were
enough grounds for a separation, and she declared her intention of
securing it.

At this Théophraste became very melancholy, and entreated her to think
of his side of the calamity. He told her how necessary her help was to
him, and with Adolphe’s and her assistance he thought he could throw
off this evil influence. By this time he had become quite rational, and
they decided to consult Adolphe, and if necessary, have him live with
them. It can be well understood that.

Marceline readily acquiesced in this suggestion. Adolphe arrived about
1 o’clock, and she took him into the sitting-room and was soon in
earnest and animated council with him. Théophraste went into his
office and waited anxiously for them to join him. After some time they
returned, and Marceline insisted that Théophraste should do all that
Adolphe should ask of him, which he readily consented to do, having
confidence in his friend.

Later on in the afternoon Théophraste and Adolphe went for a walk
into the city. Théophraste immediately began asking questions as to
Adolphe’s progress in the search for the treasures. He, however, was
in no mood to tell much. Mar-celine’s story of the night before had
driven all thoughts of the treasure out of his head, and he answered
somewhat abruptly that nothing of importance had been found, and that he
must think of Théophraste’s health first, before taking any further
steps.

It was obvious to Théophraste that Adolphe was evading the subject, and
he was determined to find out more of the matter.

He felt that Adolphe had more information, and so pressed him to speak.
Adolphe then told how he had discovered that after the war most of the
soldiers who had been serving with Cartouche had been discharged, and
were left with no means of livelihood, and so, recognizing him as having
the talent of a leader, they formed themselves into a party of bandits,
and placed him at their head. At this time the police force of Paris was
quite inadequate to cope with the many crimes; therefore Cartouche and
his comrades resolved to turn their attention to this. He divided his
men into troops, and gave them each a quarter, to guard over which
he placed an intelligent lieutenant. When anybody was found out after
curfew he was politely accosted and requested to turn over a sum of
money, or if he had no money on him, to part with his coat. In exchange
for this he was given a pass which entitled him to walk through Paris in
perfect security at any time he pleased. He would have nothing to fear
from Cartouche’s men. If he showed any resistance he was immediately
killed. Cartouche had the clergy on his side, and was often able to make
good use of them. One priest named Le Ratichon, was even hanged for him.

On reaching the Hotel de Ville, Adolphe stopped and asked Théophraste
if he cared to cross the Place de l’Hotel de Ville.

He answered, “If you wish, certainly we will.”

“Have you often crossed the place?” said Adolphe.

“Yes, very often,” replied Théophraste.

“And nothing unusual has happened? Is there any place in Paris which
you have some difficulty in passing?”

“Why, no, of course not. What is there to hinder me from going
anywhere?”

However, Adolphe’s look made him reflect, and then he recalled having
several times walked up the Place de l’Ordson, and when in front of
the Institute he changed his mind and retraced his steps. He accounted
for this rather by his absent-mindedness than by anything unusual. He
recalled that he had never passed through the Rue Mazarine or crossed
the Pont-Neuf. Neither had he crossed the Petit Pont. He had always
turned at the corner of the Rue Ville du Temple, near the house with the
grated windows.

“Why,” Adolphe asked, “can’t you pass these places?”

“I think it is because the paving stones are red; and I dislike that
color.”

“You remember the Place de Grere?”

“Why, yes. It was there that the pillory and scaffold were erected.
The wheel was placed there on execution days in front of the Rue
Vanniere. There was the old coal harbor. I never passed that place
without counselling my comrades to avoid the wheel. However, I will
wager not one profited by it.”

“Nor you either,” said Adolphe. “It was there that you suffered
the final torment. It was there that you were racked and expired by the
tortures of the wheel.”



CHAPTER XVI

_On Private Ground_


|AMONG all the paper that I found in the oaken chest, those which
related to the death of Cartouche were by far the most curious, and
presented the highest interest, in that they partly contradicted
history. They denied with such persuasive strength, and such undeniable
logic, that it is difficult to see how the great historians could have
overlooked the real details, and the generations which have succeeded
since the year 1721, should not have suspected the truth. History
teaches us that Cartouche, after having suffered the rack in its most
cruel form, during which he confessed nothing, not even a name or a
fact, this Cartouche, who had only to die, and nothing to gain from his
confession, nothing to soften his last moments, was brought to torment
in the Place de la Grere, and it was there that he decided to speak.
That they took him back to the Hotel de Ville, and that it was there
that he betrayed his principal accomplices, after which he was racked
and fastened to the cross, where he expired.

Immediately after this 360 persons were arrested, with the result that
they were tried, and judicially massacred, the last one of them being
executed two years after Cartouche.

Now in following the papers of Théophraste, we are not doing full
justice to Cartouche. While Cartouche was an object of terror, he was at
the same time an object of admiration. His courage knew no bounds,
and he proved it at the time of his torture. At the moments when his
sufferings were greatest, he did not speak. It was said that he only
wished to die bravely. The great ladies of the court and of the city had
hired windows and points of vantage from which to witness his death, and
he did not wish to show them on the scaffold, a cowardly dastard, but
the most daring and bravest of bandits. It is an historical fact that
of the 360 persons who were arrested after his death, it was found that
Cartouche was loved by all. The official report showed women throwing
themselves in the arms of L’Enfant at the Hotel de Ville, even after
the denunciation.

It is not necessary to mention all the protests that M. Longuet made
against the dishonorable death attributed to Cartouche, but some of the
preceding lines seem to show that he was right.

It was while conversing on this question that Théophraste and his
friend arrived at the Rue de le Petit Pont, without passing over the
bridge.

“My dear friend,” said Théophraste, “look at that house at the
side of the hotel, which has the sign, ‘To the rendezvous of the
Maraiches,’ and tell me if you find anything remarkable about it.”
They were then in front of a low, narrow and dirty old house, a hotel.
The door on the ground floor disclosed a counter for the sale of
drinks. Above the door was a notice, “To the rendezvous of the
kitchen-gardeners.” The hotel was leaning against a vast building of
the eighteenth century, which Théophraste pointed out with his green
umbrella. This building had a balcony of iron, wrought in a delicate
design of the period.

“I observe a beautiful balcony, of which the feature in the design
seems to be the quiver of the god of love.”

“Anything more?” asked Théophraste.

“I do not notice anything further,” said Adolphe.

“Do you notice the large gratings on the windows? There was a time, my
dear Adolphe, when windows that had gratings on were very much in vogue.
There were never so many grilled windows in Paris as in the year 1720,
and I would swear that these were placed there the day after the affair
of the Chateaux Augustins. The Parisians always protected their
ground floor, but this did not trouble us very much, for we had Simon
L’Auvergnat.”

Adolphe took the opportunity of asking Théophraste exactly who this
Simon L’Auvergnat was. He was always referring to him, and without any
obvious reasons.

“He was a very useful person,” said Théophraste, “he was the base
of my column.”

“What do you mean by the ‘base of your column’?”

“You do not understand. Wait, and you soon will. Imagine yourself
to be Simon L’Auvergnat. Stand like this,” and he indicated the
position, against the wall of the house, that Adolphe was to take.
He spread his legs and lowered his head, and raising his arms, leaned
against the wall. “I will place you here,” said he, “on account
of the cornice which is to the left. I remember that it was very
convenient. Now, since you are the base of my column, I lean on that
base and then-----------”

Before M. Lecamus had had time to see what was going to happen,
Théophraste gripped his shoulders, leaped on the cornice of the hotel,
from there to the balcony of the hotel at the side, and entered a room
of which the window had been opened.

M. Lecamus, stupefied, looked up into the air, and was wondering to
himself how on earth his friend could have disappeared in such a way,
when suddenly piercing cries came from the room, and a voice yelled out,
“Help! Robbers! Murder! Help!” Fearing some dreadful act, Adolphe
rushed into the hotel. The passers-by were stopping in the street, and
before long a crowd had collected. He leapt over the vast stairway with
the agility of a young man, and arrived on the first landing at the
moment the door opened, and Théophraste appeared, hat in hand. He was
bowing to an old lady, whose teeth were chattering from fright, and
whose hair was all done up in curl papers. “Dear madame,” he was
saying, “if I had believed for one instant that I would have caused
you such surprise, I would have remained downstairs. I am neither a
robber, nor an assassin, my dear madam. All this is the fault of my
friend Adolphe, who wanted me to show him how Simon L’Auvergnat could
serve me as the base of a column.”

Adolphe had already seized his arm, and was drawing him toward the
stairway. He made signs to the lady from behind Théophraste trying to
make her understand that his friend was off his head. Thereupon, she
fell unconscious into the hands of a chambermaid, and the stairway was
soon filled with a crowd.

Adolphe profited by this to take Théophraste away. They passed through
without hindrance, and were soon in the street again. Adolphe seemed not
to hear Théophraste’s protests. With one hand he dragged him towards
the Rue Huchette, and with the other dried the sweat which was running
down his forehead.

“Where are you taking me to?” asked Théophraste.

“To the house of one of my friends in the Rue Huchette.”

When they reached the house in the Rue Huchette, they passed under a red
porch, and into a very old house. Adolphe seemed to know the people,
for he did not wait to be ushered in. He made Théophraste climb half
a dozen stone steps which were extremely worn, and pushed open a thick
door which was at the end of the court.

They were now in a sort of vestibule, lighted by a large lamp in the
shape of a huge ball, suspended by iron chains from the stone ceiling.

“Wait for me here,” said Adolphe, after having closed the door by
which they had entered. He promised not to be long and disappeared.

Théophraste seated himself in a large armchair, and looked around him.
What he saw on the wall amused him. There was an incredible quantity of
words painted in black letters. They seemed to cover the whole surface
of the wall, in no sort of order at all. He spelt some of them. There
was Iris, Thabet, Rush, Jakin, Bokez, Thebe, Paracaler, and the word
“Iboah,” which appeared in many places. Turning toward the other
wall, against which he had been leaning, he saw a Sphinx and the
Pyramids. •

An immense arch arose, and in the center of this was Christ, His arms
extended out into a circle of flowers. On the arch were the words,
“Amphitheater of the wise eternal son of Truth.” It was the arch of
the “Rose Cross.” Below was this inscription, “There are none
so blind as those who will not see.” Looking around he came across
another inscription, in letters of gold: “As soon as you have won a
fact, apply yourself to it with your whole mind. Look for the salient
points in it. Behold the knowledge which is in it. Give way to the
hypothesis. Hunt for the fault in it.” (Instructions to the clinic of
the Hotel Dieu, Prof. Trousseau.) Besides this he saw figures of forles
and vultures and jackals, men with birds’ heads, beetles, and the
emblem of Osiris—an ass, and an eye. Finally he read these words in
blue letters: “The more the soul is rooted in her instincts, the more
will she be forgotten in the flesh, the less consciousness she will have
of her immortality, and the more she will remain a prisoner in living
corpses.”

Impatient at the absence of his friend, and becoming a little
frightened, he attempted to raise the drapery behind which Adolphe had
disappeared. But as he ascended the step his head struck an object which
was suspended in the air, and looking up he found it was a skeleton.

We have said that M. Lecamus had applied himself to the occult sciences,
and practiced spiritualism, but from what we know of M. Lecamus’
character, we feel that he was only an amateur in these things. He only
practiced spiritualism for show, for snobbery, and to make an impression
at the parties which he used to frequent. He believed no more in
spiritualism than he believed in love. The day came, however, when his
heart gave way, and when his spirit humiliated itself. It was the day
that he met Marceline and M. Eliphaste de St. Elm. He met Marceline at
a seance, where they had made him the father spirit. At this séance
M. Eliphaste was recognized as the chief. However, this gentleman was
rarely seen. He led a most retired and mysterious life at the foot of
the Rue Huchette.

Marceline had attended this seance by the will of M. Longuet, who,
having been to the Salon Pneumatics, insisted that Marceline should be
presented there. He thought that it was a kind of worldly society, where
such subjects as pneuma-tology were discussed.

The day that Marceline made her entrance to the Salon M. Eliphaste de
St. Elm was to read a paper on the Gourse. Mme. Longuet found herself
by chance next to M. Lecamus, and after discussing a good many points in
the lecture, they found that they had a great many things in common,
and by a curious chance M. Lecamus discovered that he was an old college
chum of M. Longuet’s. It was thus that he became welcomed into the
family circle of M. Longuet.

This preamble is necessary for us to understand the presence of M.
Lecamus and Marceline together in the house of M. Eliphaste de St. Elm,
at the foot of the Rue de Huchette, while Théophraste was waiting for
him wearily in the vestibule. The visit was the result of a conversation
between M. Lecamus and Mme. Longuet, early that morning. She had hidden
nothing from him regarding the events of the nights before, and the
history of Signor Petito’s ears showed to M. Lecamus the necessity of
taking precautions against the spirit of Cartouche. At the bottom of
his heart M. Lecamus felt to a certain extent guilty for the follies of
Théophraste, and he had been asking himself, lately, just how far he
could let this reincarnated soul go, for M. Lecamus was a novice at
spiritualism, and it was his intention to experiment with Théophraste
and Cartouche.

He was no sooner assured of having in his hands a reincarnated soul,
than his curiosity aroused in him a desire to make use of it. This was
exactly what he had done in putting the reincarnated soul of Cartouche
before his portrait, without taking any precautions, and now he did not
know how he could stop that which he had unconsciously set in motion. He
knew how to arouse such a spirit, but he did not know how to stop it.

It was for this reason that he and Mme. Longuet had come this morning to
beg M. St. Elm to exercise his influence, for there was not a cleverer
guide for reincarnated souls in Paris.

In the meantime, Théophraste had been locked up in the vestibule, and
when he struck his head against the skeleton, he began to think that it
would be more tranquil in a mound at St. Chaumont. The corridor in which
he found himself did not have a single window. A red gloom lighted it
from one end to the other. It came from the cellar, and penetrated the
thick pavement glass. The corridor had crevices and angles. He came to a
corner and stopped abruptly. He was impatient to go ahead, and went into
one of the two branching passageways which ran from the corridor. Five
minutes later he found himself at the same cross passage. Then he went
up the first corridor again, taking the direction that he had followed
in coming out to the vestibule, but to his great surprise he could not
find the vestibule. He wandered about for what seemed to him several
hours, and he was just giving up hope of ever getting out of this
labyrinth, when he saw Adolphe in the distance. He ran up to him and was
on the point of reproving him for having kept him waiting so long, when
Adolphe said to him sadly: “Come, Marceline is in there; we are going
to present you to a good friend.”

Théophraste found himself in a large, dark room, where his attention
was attracted by a great light which fell on the figure of a man. But
strange to say, the light did not seem to fall on the man, but rather to
radiate from him. In fact, when the figure moved it seemed to carry
the light with it. Before the flambeau a woman was standing in a humble
attitude, with clasped hands and bowed head.

Then Théophraste heard a voice, a friendly voice, a manly voice, a
voice sweeter than the sweetest voice of woman, which said to him:
“Come to me without fear.”

That which astonished M. Longuet above all else was the astral light
which showed up the noble features of M. Eliphaste de St. Elm. He was a
person of divine elegance, as elegant as a Christ on the Tripoli.

“I do not know where I am,” said Théophraste, “but it gives me
confidence to see my friend Adolphe, and my wife, Marceline, at your
side. However, I should like to know your name.”

“My dear sir,” said the harmonious voice, “I am called M.
Eliphaste de St. Elm.”

“Well,” said Théophraste, “my name is Cartouche. But it has
been believed for a long, long time that this name was given to me as a
nickname.”

“You are not Cartouche,” said Eliphaste.

“Your name is Théophraste Longuet. You will pardon me, but there is
no longer any need for confusion; you were formerly called Cartouche,
but now you are called Théophraste Longuet.”

M. Théophraste then recalled a number of personages with whom he
had, in the spirit of Cartouche, been speaking. They were all of the
eighteenth century—Gatelard, Marie Antoinette Neron, and others, and
it was evident that his mind was dwelling on that period, and he was
living in the present a life of the past.

Théophraste was still talking of these times, when the half shadows
which seemed to envelop him were suddenly dissipated, and the room
appeared in the splendid brightness of day. He looked around with
evident satisfaction, first at his wife, and then at Adolphe, and
finally at M. Eliphaste. Eliphaste had entirely lost his supernatural
aspect, his astral mantle had disappeared, and if his features had still
their sublime and unusual pallor, he seemed, nevertheless, a man like
other men.

“Ah, this is better,” said Théophraste, sighing.

“It is not necessary for you to think any more of old Paris,”
said M. Eliphaste. “You have nothing more to do with it. You are
Théophraste, and it is the year of grace, 1899.”

“Possibly,” replied Théophraste, who was obstinate; “but the
question is, what about my treasure? I have a perfect right to look at
a plan of old Paris, for I can follow the place where I buried it
formerly, and find the place where I must look.”

Eliphaste, speaking to Lecamus, said, “I have often witnessed the
crises of Karma, but never has it been given to me to study one of such
strength.”

Eliphaste reflected, and then leading Théophraste to the right, he
brought him before a map of real Paris. “Behold,” said he, “the
exact point where Le Fouches de Mount Fançons were. As to the mouth of
the Choppinettes, and of the Coq, they were at those two points of the
Monte St. Chaumont. The forks were found on a small eminence on the side
of the principal mound, but far to the right of where the Protestant of
the Rue de Crimee stands to-day. To find your treasure again, my friend,
it will be necessary to search in that triangle. The mounds, as you say,
have been the remains of a filled-in ditch, and I doubt very much if
your treasure could still be found there. I specified for you the old
space on a modern plan to disillusion you. You must clear your mind.
Think no more on your treasures. Do not live in the past. You must
live in the present, and for the future. You must drive away Cartouche,
because Cartouche is no more. It is Théophraste Longuet who is.”

M. Eliphaste pronounced these words with great force.



CHAPTER XVII

_They Decide to Kill_


|MELIPHASTE had been reasoning with Théophraste, and using all the
arguments of spiritualists to persuade him to make an effort to rid
himself of the spirit of Cartouche.

“However,” said Théophraste, “I thank you for the interest you
have taken in me, and for your sympathy; but I tell you, you can do
nothing for me. You say I am sick, but I am not. If I were you could
cure me. You also say that I am to drive away this Cartouche; but,
though that is easily said, I can assure you that it is not so easily
done. It is impossible, my dear M. Eli-phaste.”

“And yet,” said M. Eliphaste, “it is necessary. For if we do not
succeed in driving him out, we must kill him. That is an operation the
result of which I cannot vouch. It is a delicate operation, and full of
dangers.”

M. Eliphaste had hoped that this obsession of Cartouche was only
imaginary, and so by reasoning he could drive it away. But, alas, the
reality of it was only too true, and Théophraste, while willing to help
him, could not get himself to believe M. Eliphaste’s arguments.

“You understand,” said M. Eliphaste, “your case is most
extraordinary. Everybody in the world has lived before, and will live
again. This is the Law of Karma. It may be possible to find some one
who was a friend of Cartouche’s. The true object of that wonderful
evolution of souls through the bodies, is to develop and qualify them to
enjoy the perfect happiness which will finally be the inheritance of the
fortunate ones who will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is thought
that at each birth, the personality differs from the preceding one,
but it is only the veritable, divine and spiritual I. These divers
personalities are in some measures only the links of the infinite
chain of life, which constitutes, throughout the ages, our immortal
individuality.”

The admirable wisdom of the teaching appealed to Théophraste immensely.
Eliphaste had shown himself so much the master of his thoughts, that he
could not understand why he had remained ignorant so long, without even
having suspected these wonderful truths. He saw the great difference
between Eliphaste and Adolphe, the difference, as he said, “between
the Man of Reason and the Learned Ape.”

Eliphaste continued: “When one is persuaded of this great truth,
one need not be astonished at the wonderful things that happen in the
present—if they recall events of former times. But to live according
to the Law of Wisdom, one must live in the present, and not look
behind.”

Théophraste had too often looked behind. His mind had occupied itself
with thoughts of the past. If this had continued, in a very short time
Théophraste would have gone quite mad.

And so Théophraste thought: “I must either forget Cartouche, throw
him off completely, or develop all his characteristics.”

M. Eliphaste told them that what men call vocations to-day were only
a latent revelation of the past, and they could only be explained that
way. He told them that what was called facility among men to-day was
nothing else but retrospective sympathy for some objects that they
knew better than others, having studied them better before the real and
actual life. He said that we even assume the gesture of the past
without knowing it. He himself had seen, on the eve of the Battle of
the Bourget, two young men fall near him, handsome as demigods, brave as
Castor and Pollux, and who succumbed with grace that the heroes showed
in dying at Salamis, Marathon, or at Platies. M. Eliphaste then pressed
Théophraste to his heart, breathed on his forehead and his eyes, and
then asked him if he was quite persuaded of the truth. He said that
to be happy we must seek to give an account of ourselves, as to the
perpetual changes of our condition, and that by this we learned to
live in the present, and to comprehend that the future belonged to
us entirely. Are we not the children of the Eternal, in whose eyes a
thousand years are as a day, and a day as a thousand years?

Théophraste said to him that he was not at all astonished at having
been Cartouche—it seemed so natural to his mind—that he would never
more dwell on it, and he declared that at present Cartouche was driven
away.

Thereupon Marceline asked what time it was, and Adolphe told her it was
eleven o’clock, and so they rose to take their leave. However, just
before leaving, an incident occurred which went to prove too clearly
that the spirit of Cartouche had not left Théophraste.

Upon Adolphe’s declaring that it was eleven o’clock, Théophraste
took out his watch and contended that it was half after eleven, and
after a few words, he said, “You can cut off my right hand if I am
wrong.”

Turning to M. Eliphaste, that gentleman confirmed M. Lecamus’
statement, whereupon Théophraste picked up a small knife which was
lying near, and would have severed his right hand but for M. Eliphaste,
who, grasping the situation, seized Théophraste’s uplifted hand with
dexterity and incredible strength. He ordered him to drop the knife, and
told him that he was not keeping to the compact. M. Eliphaste felt
that it was no good arguing with him on the matter of the spirit of
Cartouche, and despaired of ever ridding him of the spirit by reasoning.
He turned to Adolphe and said, “Let us go. It is too late. There is
nothing to do but to kill him.”



CHAPTER XVIII

_The Operation_


|THIS savage onslaught, which but for the presence of mind of M.
Eliphaste would have terminated in the amputation of M. Longuet’s
hand, proved to them that the sanguine imagination of Cartouche had so
completely invaded the brain of M. Longuet that it seemed to them the
only remedy for such a misfortune was the death of Cartouche.

M. Eliphaste did not hesitate. He had reasoned with him in vain, and had
even hoped at one time that he had been victorious, but this incident
undoubtedly proved otherwise. He rose and looked at Théophraste, giving
him a long, steady glance, which seemed to pierce the uttermost depths
of his soul. Théophraste sighed several times and began to tremble
violently, when M. Eliphaste cried, “Cartouche, I order you to
sleep.” Théophraste fell as if stricken on the armchair which stood
behind him, and did not make another move. His respiration was so silent
that they doubted if he still lived. Marceline ran to him alarmed, but
M. Eliphaste restrained her, saying, “All is well. The operation of
the death of Cartouche has begun.”

Adolphe knew, from several examples, that there is always a great risk
when one wishes to kill a reincarnated soul—that is to say, to throw
it back toward the past. There is a risk of killing the body in which
it is reincarnated. And so he knew that trying to kill the soul of
Cartouche without killing Théophraste was a great undertaking.

It needed all the authority, and all the science of M. Eliphaste, to
calm them in the extremity in which they found themselves. He was the
most intellectual and scientific spiritualist of the day. He had the
most absolute and domineering will that the world had seen since Jacques
Molay, to whom he had succeeded, by the supreme direction of the secret
order of Temphis. He had made an allegorical demonstration of his last
treatise on “Psychic Surgery,” and had analyzed the subject in his
pamphlet on “Astral Scalpel.”

It is necessary to enumerate all the accomplishments of M. Eliphaste,
for it gives Adolphe a chance of refuting in advance the reproach put
upon him for letting him treat his best friend with the utmost severity.
The criminal eccentricities of M. Longuet, of which Signor Petito was
the first victim, made him dread the most irremediable catastrophes,
and it was for this reason that he was led to consider the operation
of Cartouche as a benefit, not only possible, but probable, without
too great a risk to Théophraste. As to Mme. Longuet, her faith in M.
Eliphaste was so great that at first she only made a few remarks, so as
to relieve her of any responsibility, and then the terror that she had
of sleeping with Cartouche made her, over and above everything, desire
his death.

M. Eliphaste told Adolphe to take Théophraste’s heels, and he
took and held him under the armpits, and they carried him into the
sub-cellar, where a laboratory had been fitted up, which was lighted in
the day by gas, with large, red, hissing flames.

Mme. Longuet followed. They placed Théophraste on a bed, and bound
him down with straps. He was still under the mesmeric influence. M.
Eliphaste stood over him, watching him closely, for a quarter of an
hour, during which time there was a deep silence in the room. At length
a voice was heard. It was M. Eliphaste praying. The prayer began in this
way:

“In the beginning there was silence. Oh, age Eternal, source of all
ages------”

When the prayer was ended, M. Eliphaste took Théophraste by the hand
and seemed to command him without speaking. He questioned Théophraste
by the strength of his domineering spirit —only by the answers
Théophraste made could they understand what he had been commanded to
tell. Théophraste said, without effort, “Yes, I see. Yes, I am. I
am M. Théophraste Longuet; in an apartment of the Rue Gerondeau.” M.
Eliphaste turned toward Adolphe and Marceline. “The operation is a bad
one,” he said in a deep voice. “I have put Cartouche to sleep, and
Théophraste answers me. He is sleeping in the present. We must not
precipitate matters. It will be dangerous.”

“I am in the Rue Gerondeau—in the apartment under mine—and I see
stretched on the bed a man without ears. In front of him a woman; a dark
woman—she is pretty—she is young—her name is Regina—the woman is
saying to the man, ‘Signor Petito, as true as I am called Regina, and
that you have lost your ears, you will cease to see me in forty-eight
hours if you have not found the means to give me a little comfort, to
which I have a right. When I married you, you basely deceived me, both
as to your fortune and as to your intelligence. Your fortune rested only
in hopes which have not been realized. What are you going to do?’

“Signor Petito replies, ‘My dear Regina, you puzzle me. Leave me
in peace to find a trace of the treasures that the imbecile above is
incapable of snatching from the profound depths of the earth.’”

Théophraste made them understand, in his sleep, that the imbecile
referred to was Cartouche. M. Eliphaste turned toward them, saying, “I
expect that word to make him quit the present. Now, madam, the time
has come. I am going to tempt God.” And then he spoke in a
commanding voice, in a voice that it seemed impossible not to obey.
“Cartouche,” said he, extending his hand above the strapped bed with
a commanding majesty, “Cartouche, where wast thou on the night of the
first of April, 1721, at ten o’clock?”

“On the night of April first, 1721, at ten o’clock, I struck two
light blows on the door, with the intention of making them open the door
of the Tavern Reine Margot. I never should have believed that I could
have reached the ironmonger’s shop so easily. But I had killed the
horse of the French guardsman, and I had thrown those who had followed
him into the Seine. At the Reine Margot I found Paleton, Gatelard, and
Guenal Noire. La Belle Laittiere was with them. I related the story to
them while emptying a bottle of wine. I had confidence in them, and
I told them that I suspected Va de Bon Cœur—and perhaps Marie
Antoinette—of having whispered something to the spies. They cried out,
but I cried out louder than they. I announced to them that I had decided
to deal summarily with all who gave me cause to suspect them. I
became very angry, and La Belle Laittiere told me that I was no longer
bearable. Was it my fault? Every one had betrayed me. I could not sleep
two nights consecutively in one place. Where, then, were the days when
all Paris was with me? Where, then, was the day of my wedding to Marie
Antoinette, when we sang the air of ‘Tout joli belle menniere, Tout
joli moulin’? Where was now my uncle Taton? Shut up in a castle. And
his son? Killed by me because he was going to denounce me. I had done it
quickly. A pistol shot, and his corpse was under a pile of rubbish. Then
I was sure of his silence. I killed the robber Pepin, and the police
officer Huron. I did not ask anything, only that they leave me alone to
police Paris for the security of everybody. My great council,” this he
murmured to himself, “did not pardon me for having Jacques le Febrere
executed. I am no longer bearable, and that is because I wish to live.
After that which had come to pass,” continued Théophraste in his
hypnotic sleep, “and the miraculous way in which I escaped in spite of
treachery and the precautions taken by the spies, I did not conceal from
Gate-lard or from Guenal Noire that I had decided to leave them.

“I soon left them and opened the door of the Reine Margot. Not a soul
in the ironmonger’s shop. I was saved. I did not even stop Magdelen,
whom I passed while walking along the walls of the cemetery, where I was
going to sleep that night. Truth was, I was going to pass the night like
a robber in my hole in the Rue Amelot. It was pouring with rain.”

It would be difficult to describe the strange tone in which this
narrative was related. The undulation of the phrases, their stops and
their stations, then the peculiar monotone in which the words fell
from Théophraste’s lips while he was in the hypnotic sleep. His face
sometimes expressed anger, sometimes contempt, and sometimes terror.

M. Lecamus, who had seen Cartouche’s portrait, recalled that at
certain times there was a striking resemblance to that of Théophraste.
Just as he was relating the incident of passing Magdelen, and the
downpour of rain, Théophraste’s face showed a most peculiar
expression, changing from joy to most overwhelming despair.

M. Eliphaste, leaning over the bed, asked him: “What then,
Cartouche?”

Théophraste replied in a rattling voice: “I killed a passerby.”

The operation continued, but it was only by degrees that M. Eliphaste
wished to bring Cartouche to the hour of his death. Before making him
live his death, it was necessary to make him live a little of his life.
That was the reason that M. Eliphaste had thrown the spirit of Cartouche
back to the month of April, 1721.

Though the minutes following were terrible for the onlookers, they were
worse for Cartouche, who was passing through the end of his career the
second time.

It was not until October 11, 1721, that the treason bore fruit.

Coustard, sergeant in the company of Cha-bannes, took forty men and
four sergeants with him, all of whom were designated by Duchatelle,
Cartouche’s lieutenant, who had betrayed him. This little army, in
citizen clothes, concealing its arms very mysteriously, surrounded the
house pointed out by Duchatelle.

It could not have been more than nine o’clock in the evening when they
arrived in sight of the tavern, Au Pictolet, kept by Germain Tassard and
his wife, near the Rue des Trois Bornes. Tassard was smoking his pipe on
the doorstep, when Duchatelle came up and demanded, “Is there nobody
upstairs? No? Where are the four ladies?”

Tassard, who expected this question, said, “Go up.”

The little troop rushed in, and when they came to the room above, they
found Boloquy and Cartouche drinking wine before the fireplace. Gaillard
was in bed, and Cartouche was seated on the bed, mending his breeches.

They rushed upon him. The attack was so sudden that he had no time to
make any resistance. They tied him with strong ropes, and, placing him
in the coach, took him prisoner to Monsieur the Secretary of State. Then
he was taken to the Grande Châtelet.

He was in his shirt, having had no time to put on his breeches. He kept
cool, congratulating the lieutenant who had betrayed him on the fine
livery he wore.

As the coach passed down the road, it nearly crushed some poor wretch
who was in the way, and Cartouche, seeing his plight, shouted to him
that phrase which he seemed to have affected, “It is necessary to look
out for the wheel.”

All the people ran out to see him on his way to the house of M.
the Secretary of State. They cried out, “It is Cartouche! It is
Cartouche!” only half believing it, as they had so often been
deceived.

While in the prison awaiting trial, Cartouche received many illustrious
visitors. The Regent came; the courtesan Emilie and the Mme. le
Maréchale de Boufflers followed one after the other to pay the prisoner
small attentions. Some one had composed a play, and Quinnato, the famous
actor of the time, who filled the principal rôle in it, came to ask him
for suggestions about the chief scene.

When Cartouche had been sufficiently amused, he began to think of making
his escape. He intended doing this in spite of the very close watch that
was being kept over him.

After getting out of his dungeon, and just as he was pushing the last
bar which separated him from the street and liberty, he was discovered
and caught.

Thinking that the Grande Châtelet was not strong enough for so
ingenious a man, he was bound securely in chains and taken to the
Conciergerie, in the most formidable corner of the tower of Montgomery.



CHAPTER XIX

_The Torture Chamber_


|IT is only the basest of literature that describes without adequate
reason the weird, the horrible. However, many authors find it necessary
to dilate upon the most satanic personalities of men, and the worst
cruelties imaginable.

Therefore, it is only with the knowledge that the recital of the
misfortunes of Théophraste is destined to throw a light on the most
obscure problems of psychic surgery that the author of these lines
proceeds with this description of the most frightful tortures, moral and
physical, that have ever been endured by man.

The operation to be performed was a singular one, and full of the
gravest of dangers. However, M. Eliphaste was in the habit of performing
the most complicated of psychic operations, and the delicacy of his
astral scalpel was universally acknowledged. But the difficulty was the
delay.

Had M. Lecamus brought Théophraste earlier, the danger would have been
less, but now M. Eliphaste recognized the gravity of the case, and he
said that to kill Cartouche without killing Longuet was to tempt God. It
was the gravest responsibility.

However, he knew how to lead M. Longuet’s mind quietly and without
haste to the subject of his death, and thus he prepared him for death.

He made him live his death the moment that he made him die his death.
Then, at the psychological moment, he made a certain gesture, the double
sign which precipitated in death the spirit of the dead, and brought
back to life the living mind.

These were the details of the operation to be performed, and the
preliminaries, which consisted in making Théophraste live through the
last months of Cartouche’s life, having been started, M. Eliphaste
began asking Théophraste a series of questions. The latter was lying,
groaning, on the bed in the laboratory, which was lighted by the hissing
scarlet flames.

M. Lecamus and Mme. Longuet sat on a low bench at one side of the room.
M. Eliphaste stood beside the bed.

“Where did they take you, Cartouche?”

“In the torture room. My trial is ended. I am condemned to die on
the wheel. Before the torture they wish me to confess the names of my
accomplices, my friends, my mistresses. I should rather die on the wheel
twice! They shall know nothing!”

“And now, where are you, Cartouche?”

“I am going down a small stairway, at the end of the ‘Walk of the
Pillory.’ I open a grating. I am in the dark cellars. These dungeons
do not frighten me. I know them well! Ah! Ah! I was shut up in that
dungeon under Phillippe le Bel!”

Then with a terrible power M. Eliphaste cried out, “Cartouche! Thou
art Cartouche! Thou art in the dungeons by order of the Regent.” Then
he repeated to himself, “Phillippe le Bel?” and then to Théophraste
again, “Where are we going? Where are we? My God! We must not lose our
way! And now where are you, Cartouche?”

“I advance in the darkness of the cellars. There are about me, walking
in the dark, so many guardsmen that I cannot tell the number. I see
below, far, far below, a ray of light that I know well. It is a square
ray of light that the sun has forgotten since the beginning of the
history of France. My guards are not French guardsmen. They mistrust all
French guardsmen. My guards are commanded by the Lieutenant of the Short
Robe of the Châtelet.”

“Where art thou now, Cartouche?”

“I am in the torture chamber. There are before me men clothed in long
robes, but I cannot distinguish their faces. They are my commissioners,
who have been entrusted with the verifications, as appeared to be the
custom. But why do they call it verifications? The thought makes me
smile.” (Théophraste really smiled as he said this.) “Where are you
now, Cartouche?”

“They put me on the criminal stool. They have put my legs in backings.
With incredibly strong cords, they have bound small planks about my
legs. I believe truly that the rascals wish to make me suffer to the
limit, and the whole day’s work will be rough. But I have a heart
hardened by courage. They shall not break it!” At this point M.
Longuet, on his strapped bed, uttered a fearful cry. His mouth was wide
open, and he groaned incessantly. Adolphe and Marceline leaned over him
and asked with horror when that howling would cease, and when that mouth
would close. But M. Eliphaste only said, “The torture has begun. But
if he howls like that at the first blow of the mallet, there is going to
be trouble.” M. Eliphaste was not expecting those groans. He paid no
attention to the howling. He calmed M. Lecamus and Mme. Longuet with a
supreme gesture. He spoke to Théophraste, something they never knew,
for the howling prevented them from hearing anything.

At last the howling became groaning, and eventually the groaning itself
stopped. Théophraste’s face had become comparatively placid.

“Why do you cry out in that way, Cartouche?” “I scream because
it is a punishment that I cannot denounce my accomplices. I have their
names on the end of my tongue! They do not see that if I do not denounce
them it is because I cannot move the end of my tongue! I cannot! I
cannot! I cannot! And they struck with their mallet again! And they sunk
the pieces of wood into my legs again! It is unjust! I cannot move the
end of my tongue!”

“What are they doing to you now, Cartouche?” “The doctor and
the surgeon are leaning over me and feeling my pulse. They are
congratulating themselves on having chosen that kind of torture, which
is, they are saying to the commissioners, the least dangerous to life
and the least susceptible to accidents.”

“And now, Cartouche, what are they doing to you?”

“They are doing nothing to me, and I regret it, for they have decided
to bury the second wedge in me only a half hour after the first, and let
the pain which it produced pass away, and the sensibility be entirely
restored. I am looking at my judges. They have black mouths. I like the
face of the executioner better. He is no more amused than I. He wants
to be somewhere else. But there he comes with the second judge. They are
all around me. They are over me! Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!...”

Never had Théophraste looked so terrible. His mouth was wide open,
and his tongue seemed paralyzed. Foam was around his lips, and his eyes
seemed to start out of his head.

M. Lecamus looked across to M. Eliphaste, who said, when the second howl
had died away, “Why do you scream, Cartouche?”

“Because these torturers will not listen to the names that are on the
end of my tongue.”

“But you have not told us any names. You have only screamed.”

“It is Cartouche they are torturing and Longuet who screams,”
answered Théophraste.

M. Eliphaste was taken aback by this last response. He turned toward the
two silent onlookers and said in a low, trembling voice, “Then it is
he who is suffering.”

There was no room for doubting this truth. The fearful expressions on
Théophraste’s face as he imagined the executioner forcing the wedge
in, showed too plainly that though it was Cartouche whom they tortured,
it was Théophraste who really suffered.

M. Eliphaste seemed very concerned. Never before had such a case come
before his astral scalpel. The identity of the soul had been proven, and
suffering Cartouche had cried out in distress after two centuries. This
cry had waited to come from the lips of Théophraste.

M. Eliphaste leaned his head on his hands and prayed. After a short
silence he turned to M. Lecamus and said, “We are only at the second
wedge, and there are seven of them.”

“Do you think my husband will have the strength to bear them?” asked
Marceline.

M. Eliphaste leaned over the prostrate form of Théophraste and examined
his head, just as the doctor had done to Cartouche in the torture
chamber.

“The man is all right,” said he. “I don’t believe there is
anything to fear now. We must kill Cartouche.”

“I think so, too,” said Lecamus. “It is necessary for the future
security and definite happiness of M. Longuet.”

M. Eliphaste then continued his interrogations:

“And now what are they doing to you, Cartouche?”

“They are questioning me. I cannot reply. Why doesn’t that man in
the corner of the dungeon do his duty? I have not yet seen his face. He
turned his back to me and made a noise with old irons. The executioner
is very quiet. He is leaning against the wall, yawning. There is a lamp
on the table which gives light to two men, who write incessantly.
Behind the man who is making the noise I see a little red light. The
executioner’s assistant has loosened the knots in the cords a little,
which gives me a relief for which I am grateful... But... but... but
the assistant on the other side pulls and pulls. If he continues to pull
the cords so he will cut my legs off. They bring a crucifix for me to
kiss. Behind the man who turned his back on me I hear something like
crackling embers, and there are small red flames which lick the stone
walls. Between the two men who are writing there is a man who makes a
sign. The executioner has a kind face. I sign to him for some water. I
could bear the pain better if I had not such a thirst. The executioner
raises his mallet! I swear I cannot say the names which are at the end
of my tongue. They will not leave me. I cannot speak! Oh! why cannot you
hear them? Take them from me!”

By this time his mouth had become closed, but the lips were opened in
such a way as to make it appear that he had no lips. The teeth were
locked and welded together tightly. A muffled cry of suffering came
from the throat, but could not escape through the closed teeth. Suddenly
there was a sharp grinding, and his teeth began to break under the great
pressure of that closed jaw. Pieces of teeth were scattered over the
bed, and blood issued from his mouth. His horrible groaning continued,
and Théophraste showed signs of weakening under the great strain.

At this horrible spectacle M. Eliphaste declared wearily that he had
never assisted or suspected that he could assist at such suffering. He
confessed that until to-day he had never operated on a reincarnated soul
of less than five hundred years. It was obvious that in spite of all his
science and all his experience the illustrious medium was nonplussed.

M. Eliphaste did not try any longer to dissimulate his anxiety. He could
have stopped the operation there if he had had time. But they buried
the wedges in so rapidly that it did not even permit him to question M.
Longuet.

During this last performance M. Longuet’s toothless mouth opened
again. Other cries issued from it which were not like human cries at
all. They were so curious and so weird that all three onlookers leaned
over him, trembling with terror to see how such a cry could be made by a
human mouth.

Mme. Longuet wanted to run away, but in her fright she fell. When she
arose the cries had ceased. M. Eliphaste commanded her to be quiet,
recalling to her with a severe look her responsibility in the operation.

M. Théophraste now reposed peacefully on his strap-mattress. That
peacefulness, following immediately the horrors of such suffering, was
extraordinary. He was not in pain. He remembered none of it. After the
torturing was over he ceased to think of it, and consequently this was
how he could reply to M. Eliphaste in the intervals of torture, in the
most natural way, without physical emotion.

M. Eliphaste again began to interrogate him:

“And now where are you, Cartouche?”

“I am still in the torture chamber. Ah! they hold me! They hold me
tightly! They hold my arms! What are they going to do? The man in the
center says, ‘By order of the Regent we must have the names. So
much the worse if he dies for it! Are the tongs ready? Begin with the
breasts!.. Oh! Oh! The man kneeling before the burning coals gets
up, making a noise with the irons. He hands the red tongs to the
executioner. They uncover my right breast! Oh! Oh! It is dreadful! I
cannot live through it!”



CHAPTER XX

_In the Charnel House_


|THE recital which follows is the integral reproduction of what came out
of the mouth of Théophraste while plunged in hypnotic sleep, from the
moment that he submitted to the torture until he died. This part is of
the highest importance, not only for the experimental spirit of science,
but for history, for it destroys the legend of the wheel and shows to
us, in an indisputable fashion, the real death of Cartouche. I have
not found this part stored in the oaken chest, but in the papers and
statements which have been read in the Spiritual Congress of 1889. It is
all from M. Eliphaste’s hand.

Théophraste, or, rather, Cartouche in the power of M. Eliphaste, said,
“I do not know exactly what has happened to me. I have died, I
have hidden the document, and I have not met a single person. When
I re-opened my eyes (I had them closed then, and I was without doubt
falling from a feebleness that seemed like death) I did not recognize
at first a single one of the objects which surrounded me, and I did not
know the place into which they had carried me. Certainly I am no longer
in the torture room, nor in my dungeon in the tower of Montgomery. Am
I only in the Conciergerie again? I do not know. Where have they
imprisoned me after the torture, whilst waiting for my death? Into what
new prison have they thrown me? The first thing that I distinguish is
a bluish light which flitters across some heavy bars which are covered
with a grating. The moon visits me. It descends two or three steps. I
try to make a movement, but I cannot. I am an inert thing. My will does
not control my legs any longer, nor a single one of my muscles. It is as
if they had severed all relations between my will and my flesh. My brain
is no longer the master of seeing and comprehending. It is no longer
master of my actions. My poor legs! I feel them scattered around me. I
ought to have attained a degree of suffering—I kneel on one, as I have
explained, so that I shall not suffer more. But where am I?... The moon
descended two more steps, and then two more.... Oh! Oh! What is this
that the moon lights? It is an eye! A large eye! But the eye is empty;
that large eye is empty, and the other eye at its side—which is also
lighted now—is covered again with its green eyelid. I see the whole
head! It had no skin on the cheeks, but it had a beard on the chin. The
moon advances continuously. It halts gently in the holes of the nose. It
has two holes in the nose, two on a head.... They threw me, then, into
a common ditch! The moon shone on me.... I have two legs of a corpse
across my stomach. I recognize those steps now, and this ditch, and this
moon.... I am in the charnel house of Montfançon!... I am afraid!...
When I went up to the Cleopimetes by the Bue des Morts on junketing days
I used to look at that charnel house through the grating. I looked at
it with curiosity because I already saw my carrion there, but the idea
never occurred to me that when a carrion was there it could look from
the other side of the grating. And now my carrion sees! They threw me
there because they thought me dead, and I am buried alive, with the
corpses of the persons hanged. My fate is entirely miserable and
surpasses all that the imagination of men could invent! The saddest
reflections assail me, and if I ask myself first of all, by what
artifice of fate I am reduced to such an extremity, I am obliged to
confess that fate had nothing to do with this affair, but my pride only.
I should have continued quietly to be the ‘chief of all the robbers’
if I had remained alive. But La Belle Laittiere was right when she said
in the tavern of the Reine Margot that I was no longer fit to live. I
was pleased to play the potentate, and I ended by having a mania for
cutting up in pieces all those whom I suspected. My lieutenants ran more
danger in serving me than in deserting me. They betrayed me, and
that was logical. The beginning of my bad luck was the affair of the
Luxembourg. It should have opened my eyes, but my pride hindered me from
seeing clearly. This is a good time for these reflections, now that I am
in the charnel house.

“I am living in the charnel house with the dead, and for the first
time in my life I am afraid. But I am not afraid of the dead; I am
afraid of the living, for there is one near me alive! _I know that he
moves_. It is strange that at this moment, when I am upon the limit
of life and death, my senses perceive things that they ignored in
good health, and while my ears do not hear any more, on account of the
boiling water with which they were filled, I know there is some one
alive near me. Shall I be then not the only one to live in this domain
of putrefaction? I recall that the Vache-a-Paniers told me that the
Count de Charalais had caused some women who had resisted him to
be buried alive in the little ditches near the earthen mound of
Montfançon, but I, Cartouche, have no desire to think of such a crime.
I know very well that he bathes himself in the blood of young virgins
whom he had killed, to cure himself of a terrible disease which ate into
his flesh, but to bury women alive in ditches, that I do not believe.
And yet there is on my left side a woman who moves in one of the
ditches. I do not hear her, I feel her. The moon had lengthened its ray
of light as far as myself. Its ray is divided into three by the bars of
the grating. This makes three blue bands, by which I see, first of
all, the hole of the eye, and the three holes of the nose, and then a
wonderful mouth, which sticks its tongue out at me. Then there are three
bodies without heads. In the left side of the third body I distinguish
very plainly the putrefied wound in which was buried one of the rings
from which the headless one was hanged. He could not be hanged by the
neck, as he had no head. As I do not feel the woman at my side in the
ditch move any more, I collect my wits a little and I employ myself
in remembering the bodies which fill the charnel house. I begin to see
those which are entirely in the shadows. There are some! There are some
more sounds. They bring all the executed criminals here from the city.
There are some fresh ones, there are some decayed ones, there are
some well preserved ones, and all dry; but the others are not
presentable—they are falling into ruin. I will soon be a ruin like
them. However, all is not said, all is not finished, since I exist. Hope
is not dead. One finds hope even in the depths of a charnel house. Oh,
if I could move! The dead men are moving! I will end by moving also. I
have turned my eyes as far as it is possible in the right corner of the
orbit. I have seen that the corpse which is on my stomach does not
move its head. It slides on my stomach. I begin to be afraid again, not
because the dead one moved—for the charnel house belongs to the dead,
who do there what they wish, but because they pull the dead man by the
legs. I turn my eyes in the other corner. In the left corner I saw a
dead man’s leg in the air. This leg ought to be held by something,
pulled by something. The moon rises the length of the wall, with the leg
as far as one of the holes. And my eyes look so much to the left that
they see a living hand. The living hand which came out of the hole holds
the dead foot. _I feel, I know that there is a woman eating_ in the
ditch at the side. And now I cannot take my eyes from the hole for fear
of seeing the live hand come back and seeing it reach out. But I hope on
my salvation. I hope that the hand will not be long enough. Suddenly the
moon ceases to light up the hole, and I turn my eyes toward the grating
where the moonlight enters. Then I see between the moon and me a man
on the steps of the charnel house. A living man. I am saved perhaps. I
wished to cry out with joy, and I should have, perhaps, if the horror
of that which I feel and know all at once had not suddenly closed
my throat. _I feel, I know_, that that man has come to rob me of
my bones!... On account of the Courtesan Emilie!... The Regent is
remembered with the Duke of Orleans and Jean sans Peur.

“The Courtesan Emilie would not see him again. The devil meddled with
the affair, and carried a bone of Cartouche, who was beloved by Emilie,
to place in her bed between her chemise and her skin. I know this, my
eye has read this in the heart of the man who descends the steps of the
charnel house. He comes there to take my bones from me.... He lights a
lantern. He goes straight to my corpse. He does not see, then, that the
eyes of my corpse are moving!... He draws out from under his cloak—a
steel blade sharp and red in the rays from the lantern. He puts the
lantern down, he catches me by the shoulders and leaves me half sitting
against the wall, under the hole. He took my left hand with his left
hand, and with his right hand he buried the steel blade in my wrist.
I do not feel the blade in my wrist, but I see it. It turns around my
wrist. It is going to cut it, already it has detached it. Now I commence
to feel the blade! Life has come back into my wrist! Oh, yes, my
wrist!... Oh, yes, my wrist!... One last blow with the blade and my left
hand remains in his left hand. Oh, my poor wrist!... Yes! Yes! Yes! The
life! The life! The life of a nerve! I tell you that it sufficed for the
life of a nerve! Oh! Oh! Oh! The man howls and breaks his lantern with
a kick. My hand is partly in the man’s hand, but by a great miracle
of the ebbing life in my wrist, my hand, at the moment it leaves my arm,
has seized the hand of the man! And the man cannot rid himself of my
hand, which is stiffening in death, and which holds him! Ah! he moves
about, he shakes, he howls, he shakes my hand, which holds him—which
holds him. He pulls my hand with his right hand, but he cannot free
himself thus of the wrist of a dead man’s hand! I see him as he
flees from the charnel house, howling, bounding over the steps in the
moonlight like a fool, like a madman, gesticulating with my wrist.

“At this moment, above my head, a hand that I do not see, but which I
feel, comes out of the wall and takes me by the hair! It pulls me, pulls
me by the head. Oh, to cry out! To cry out! To cry out! But how can I
cry out with those living teeth staving me in the neck and throat?”

“And now, Cartouche, where art thou?”

“I go into the darkness radiant in death.”



CHAPTER XXI

_The Result of the Operation_


|As soon as Théophraste had pronounced these words, M. Eliphaste made a
sweeping gesture with his right arm. He leaned over the prostrate form,
and blew impatiently on his eye.

He said to him: “Awake thou, Théophraste Longuet!”

This was repeated three times, each time with greater earnestness.
However, Théophraste never moved. His immobility was deathlike, and
his toothless mouth and bloodless lips made the silent onlookers believe
that he had followed Cartouche in the shadow of death. His corpselike
pallor seemed to them to be already turning green, and his hair, having
become suddenly white, gave him the appearance of a very old man. Was he
already dead? Was he decomposing already?

M. Eliphaste repeated the gestures, and in his lids, intense earnestness
appeared like a madman. He blew again on the eyes, and parted the
eyelashes, again crying out: “Théophraste Longuet, awake thou! Awake
thou, Théophraste Longuet!”

Just at the moment when they believed that Théophraste Longuet would
never return to life again, a slight tremble shook his frame, and
drawing a deep breath, he turned his face toward them. At first he
breathed with difficulty, but quickly recovering, he opened his eyes and
said: “Cartouche is dead!”

M. Eliphaste’s face lit up with emotion. “Let us thank God,” he
said, “that the operation has been successful,” and he began his
prayer again: “In the beginning thou wast silent! Eon! Source of all
ages!...”

Mme. Longuet and M. Adolphe threw themselves on Théophraste, while
thanking God from the bottom of their hearts. They felt that the death
of Cartouche had not been too dearly bought. The operation had certainly
been a rough one, but he had only lost his teeth, and his hair had
turned white. Mme. Longuet put her arms around her husband, and helped
him rise from the couch. “Let us go. We have stopped here too long
already,” she said.

“Speak louder,” said Théophraste, with strange enunciation. “I
have something in my ears. I cannot move, either.”

“It is natural that you should be a little benumbed, my dear,” said
Mme. Longuet. “You have been stretched on that bed for a long time.
But make an effort.”

“Speak louder, I tell you. I can move my arms now, but I cannot stir
my legs. They won’t move, and my feet pain me very much.”

He then put his hand to his mouth and said: “Why, what have you done
with my teeth? You put me to sleep to fix my teeth, and you have taken
them from me.”

It was curious that while he was asleep, even after he had lost his
teeth, he spoke distinctly. It was evident that he could not move, and
Mme. Longuet removed the clothing to rub his stiff limbs. To her sorrow
she found his clothes all torn, and on looking closer saw all the flesh
on his limbs lacerated. His legs and feet were boiled. The flesh was
torn away in some places, and burned horribly in others. M. Eliphaste,
with trembling hands, removed the clothing from his chest, and there
they saw, over the heart, two spots of black blood. His biceps bore
fresh marks of frightful torture.

Mme. Longuet sobbed loudly, and sat with lowered head, looking at the
horrible sight. Adolphe ran to get a carriage. It was evident that
Théophraste could not walk or move. On his return, Théophraste was
still complaining of the pain. Adolphe, with the assistance of the
carriage driver, carried him out into the street. They lifted him
carefully on the mattress, and walked slowly out, followed by the
weeping Marceline.

M. Eliphaste prostrated himself on the ground, and with his hands
clasped and elbows on the floor, cried out with a voice full of sorrow:
“My beloved! My well beloved! I believed that I was Your son. Oh, my
well beloved! I have taken Thy shadow for Thy light. Thou hast crushed
my pride. I am in the dark, at the bottom of an abyss—I, the man of
light—and I have hated it. I am only the son of silence. Eon! Source
of Eon! Oh, life! To know life! To possess life!”

And thus, as they went out into the pure air, they left him praying.



CHAPTER XXII

_Visits to a Butcher’s Shop_


|THEOPHRASTE’S bones were not broken, and it only took six weeks to
heal, although he was obliged to keep to his bed for two months, when
he regained the use of his legs. During all this time he did not make
a single allusion to the past. Cartouche was dead—quite dead. The
operation had been successful, although very painful. So much so, that
every one dreaded that he would remain a cripple to the end of his life;
but he had recovered marvelously. He had obtained a new set of teeth,
and was able to speak quite plainly, but it was a more difficult thing
to rid himself of the effects of the boiling water in his ears, and at
times he was perfectly deaf.

After a while Théophraste thought of occupying his mind by going back
into business. He had retired when young, being able to live on the
income derived from several inventions which he had made for the use of
rubber stamps.

However, they were all very thankful for the result, and this slight
inconvenience did not worry them.

It was his habit to rise early, and after breakfast he would go out
for a little walk to strengthen his legs. He soon found their old
elasticity, and regained their full use. On these occasions Adolphe used
to follow a short distance behind in order to watch his movements and
report to M. Eliphaste.

At first he noticed nothing abnormal in his behavior, and in his report
contented himself with stating this unimportant fact, that he stopped
quite a while before a butcher’s stall. If this had occurred only
once, it would have passed the watchful Adolphe unnoticed. However, it
became a regular thing for Théophraste to stand looking at the bloody
meat, and spend some time talking to the butcher, a square-shouldered,
florid fellow, always ready with a jest.

One day, when M. Lecamus had decided that Théophraste had spent too
much time at the butcher’s shop, he came up to him, as if by chance,
and found him, with the butcher, decorating all the fresh meat with curl
papers. This was innocent enough. Thus judged M. Eliphaste, although he
wrote in the margin of the report:

“He may look at the meat in the butcher’s shop. It is good to let
him see blood sometimes. It is the end of the crisis, and can do no
harm.”

This butchery was a small one, and had its specialty. M. Houdry sold
among other ordinary meats a special quality of veal. The secret of this
quality lay in the way it was killed. The majority of Paris butchers
obtain their meat from the abattoirs, but M. Houdry always bought his
alive, and killed it himself, in his own way. He was not satisfied to
knock the calf in the head, as they did at the abattoirs. He bled it
after the Jewish manner, with a large knife which he called the bleeder,
and so dexterous had he become in this art that he never had to cut the
same wound twice. He had gained some reputation as a good butcher.

M. Houdry had explained the case about his veal to M. Longuet, with the
greatest mystery, and he had evidently taken great pleasure in it—
so much so that Théophraste, after having listened to the theory,
had shown the desire to assist at a practical lesson. In a small court
adjacent to the store, M. Houdry had a secret abattoir. On a certain
morning, Théophraste, who happened there at a much earlier hour than
was his custom, found his man at the abattoir with a calf. The butcher
begged him to come in, and to close the doors behind him. “I shut
myself up every day thus with a live calf,” said M. Houdry, “and
when the doors of the abattoir are opened again, the calf is dead. I
lose no time; I have operated in twenty-five minutes.”

Théophraste congratulated him. He asked him many questions, interesting
himself in all the objects which struck his attention. The bellows with
its large arms drew his attention. He also saw a windlass. He learned
that that strong oak cross-bar, with pegs in it, supported the windlass
and the bucket. He admired the solid oak hand-barrow also. A chopper
which was drawn up was called a “leaf.” But that which interested
him more was a set of tools hung on the walls in the shop. In this
“shop,” which was sort of saddle-bags for cutlass, he saw first
of all the bleeder, and was pleased to pass his finger over the long,
strong and sharpened edge. Then there was a much smaller knife, called
the “Moutoniner,” used ordinarily to cut up mutton, as the name
indicates, but which was used there to cut certain parts of veal.
Then some other small knives, among which was the canut, used in
“flowering” the veal. “Flowering” the veal consists in making
light, artistic designs on the shin of the veal, as soon as it is
bleached.

The first day M. Longuet received instructions about the tools. But
in the following days he learned the art of the whole operation, and
entered into each detail with little repugnance. He used to say, some
days, in going away, jestingly: “You kill a calf every day; you must
be careful, my dear M. Houdry, you see it will end by its becoming known
to the other calves.”

Théophraste was not idle, either. Whenever he had an opportunity he
would help M. Houdry in these killings. One day the assistant did not
come, and Théophraste helped rope up the calf for killing. As he
was doing this, M. Houdry remarked on the evil of killing the calf by
striking him on the head, as they did at the abattoir.

Théophraste declared it was a crime, and most inhuman. “It is much
finer to do it with the bleeder. One blow is sufficient, and the head is
off. What a fine death. How the blood flows, and with what dispatch does
he die.”

“Ah,” said Théophraste, who had killed the calf, “see the
calf’s eyes, as the blood flows. How they stare at you. They are dead,
but they look at you!”

“What is the matter with the calf’s eyes?” demanded M. Houdry. “They are
like the rest. Ah, you think it is a joke? Well, well, you are not so
used to it as I.”

M. Houdry then prepared the meat for selling, and while he was doing so
Théophraste took the head, cleaned it and cut out the eyes. The sight
of the blood had excited him beyond control, and M. Houdry was amused
when he desired to take the head and feet home with him.

In parting he said: “Au revoir, M. Houdry, au revoir. I will take the
head away with me, but I leave you the eyes. I do not like eyes to
stare at me. You must not laugh at me, though. You do not understand me.
However, it is my affair, and you must be glad that you are not afraid
of dead eyes staring at you.”

And so he returned home, and when he appeared at the door of his house
with the calf’s head under his arm, Adolphe and Marceline smiled,
saying: “He is amusing himself with some innocent prank.”



CHAPTER XXIII

_A Newspaper Report_


|IT had become their habit in the Longuet flat to play dominoes in the
evening. M. Adolphe was a good player, and always he used the Norman
provincial names. When he played the double six, he would call the
“double negro”; the five was “the dog that bites,” and so on.
Marceline was always amused by these terms, and was always ready to
play.

It happened on this particular evening that Théophraste lost his game,
and after a short argument he began to sulk, and refused to play more.
Seating himself in a chair near the window, he began reading the paper.
He had strong political opinions.

Suddenly he was attracted by a strange headline. He read it and re-read
it, and could not resist an exclamation. “Strange! Is not Cartouche
dead, then?”

He could not help smiling. This hypothesis was so absurd. Then he ran
over the first lines of the article and said: “My dear Adolphe,
have you read this article? ‘Is not Cartouche dead, then?’ It is a
strange, a surprising article.”

Adolphe and Marceline could hardly prevent a start, and looked at him
with uneasiness.

Théophraste began to read the article aloud, as follows:

“‘For some days the police have been occupying themselves with one
of the greatest of mysteries that have occurred in Paris, and with a
series of odd crimes. They are endeavoring to hide from the public
the most curious sides. Those crimes and the manner in which their
perpetrator escapes from the police at the moment they think they
have him, recall, point by point, the manner in which the celebrated
Cartouche committed his crimes. If he was not enacting a thing so
reprehensible, one could admire the perfect art with which the model is
imitated. It is Cartouche to a finish! The police themselves have never
dealt with a more mysterious bandit. Nevertheless, the administration,
very mysteriously, but, we admit, very intelligently, has sent by
some of them an abstract of Cartouche’s history, compiled from the
manuscripts of the National Libraries. They thought, subtly, that the
history of Cartouche would be useful to them, not only in the present
task, which is to prevent the criminal outrages of the new Cartouche,
and to arrest him, but also that Cartouche’s history ought to form a
part of the general instruction to all the agents of police.

“‘Finally the news was brought to us that M. Lepine, Prefect of
Police, has ordered them to devote several evenings in the Prefecture
to listen to lectures on the authentic history of the illustrious
bandit.’

“What do you say to that?” demanded Théophraste with merriment.
“It is a merry farce, and the journalists are great fellows to issue
such fibs.”

Neither Adolphe nor Marceline smiled. Mar-celine’s voice trembled
slightly when she begged Théophraste to continue. He began to read
again quietly:

“‘The first crime of the new Cartouche did not at all present the
horror that we shall find in some of the others. It was a polite crime.
Let us say at once that all the crimes of which we have any knowledge,
and which they attribute to the new Cartouche, have been accomplished in
the last fifteen days, at the North, and always from eleven o’clock in
the evening to four o’clock in the morning.’”

Mme. Longuet rose, very pale. M. Lecamus made her sit down again, by a
knowing shake of the head, and commanded her to be silent.

Théophraste said: “What is this that they want to tell with their new
Cartouche? As for me, I only know the old one. After all, let’s see
the gallant polite crime,” and he read it over more and more calmly:

“‘A pretty woman, well known in Paris, where her literary salon is
frequented by all those who interest themselves with debates and
with matters spiritualistic, was proceeding, toward morning, with her
toilette for bed, and preparing to take a well-earned rest, following
the fatigue which had wearied her that evening there with the disorder
of a conference at home of the most illustrious of our pneumatics, when
suddenly the casement of her balcony was opened quickly by a man with a
figure a little over the medium, still young and vigorous (this last is
in the report of the police), but with perfectly white hair. He had in
his hand a brilliant nickel revolver.

“‘“Madame,” said he to the terrified woman, “compose yourself.
I do not wish to do you any evil. Consider me the most humble of your
servants. My name is Louis Dominique Cartouche, and I have no other
ambition than to sup at your side. By the tripes of Mme. de Phalaris, I
have the hunger of all the devils!” and he began to laugh.

“‘Mme. de B.—let us call her Mme. de B.— believed that she was
dealing with a crazy man, but he declared he was only determined to take
supper with her, which peculiar favor he had long desired. That man was
much more dangerous than a crazy man, for it might be necessary to kill
him on account of the brilliantly nickeled revolver.

“‘“Go,” said the man, “and call your people, and tell them to
bring here to you a good supper. Do not give them a single explanation
which would be likely to cause me any embarrassment or trouble, for if
you do you will be a dead woman.”

“‘Mme. de B. then took her departure, for she was brave, with a
mind sufficiently elevated to enable her to face the most unexpected
adventures. She rang for the chambermaid, and a quarter of an hour later
the man with the white hair and Mme. de B. were seated opposite each
other in proper style, and apparently the best of friends. The supper
was prolonged through the night (we do not wish to affirm anything as to
this point, which is so interesting—but are a little skeptical as
to the veracity of this story), so that the man did not descend by the
sheet from the balcony until about sunrise. The beautiful Mme. de B. had
not had supper, and so she did not complain about that forced supper,
which she ended by partaking of in very good grace, nor had she seen the
necessity of reporting her adventure to the Police Commissioner.. And
we see what the circumstances were. Some days later the Commissioner was
announced at Mme. de B.’s. He told her that the ring that she wore on
her finger, in which a magnificent diamond glittered, was the property
of Mlle. Emily de Bescancon. Mme. de B. was of course ignorant of its
value—or where it came from. It had been presented to her. But Mlle.
Emily de Besancon, who had seen it on the finger of Mme. de B. the day
before at a charity sale, claimed it formally as hers. She had furnished
all sorts of proofs of it, and the diamond was set in such a unique way
that there could be no doubt of it. Mme. de B. was infinitely troubled,
and was obliged to relate the adventure which had befallen her. She
spoke of the unknown, of the balcony, of the supper, of the gratitude he
had shown her for his supper, and his placing the magnificent diamond
on her finger, which he had obtained, he said, from a woman he had loved
very much, a Mme. de Phalaris, who had been dead for some time. Mme.
de B. could not be suspected. She furnished a proof—the nickel-plated
revolver that the unknown had left on the table that night. Finally
she begged the Commissioner of Police to take away from her house the
hundred bottles of champagne of every choice brand that the unknown had
sent to her the day after the eventful night, under the pretext that the
supper had been exquisite, and that the only thing that could have been
desired was champagne. She feared that the champagne, as well as the
ring, had been stolen. The Commissioner acquitted the beautiful Mme.
de B. He could do nothing at the time, the news being in everybody’s
mouth, as the world at large would henceforth interest itself in the new
Cartouche.

“‘This little adventure, which is the least important of those we
have to relate, is the reproduction of what happened on the night of the
13th of July, 1721, at the house of Mme. la Maréchale de Boufflers.
She also was occupied in making her toilette. The young man, who came
unexpectedly by way of the balcony, had no revolver in his hand, but he
carried six English pistols. He demanded supper after presenting himself
as Louis Dominique Cartouche, and the widow of Louis François, Duke of
Boufflers, peer and Marshal of France, one of the heirs of Lille and of
Malplaquet, supped with Cartouche, and late at night.

“‘Cartouche only complained of the champagne, and Mme. de Boufflers
received a hundred bottles of it the next day. She had them taken, by
her butler Patapon, into the cellars of a great financier.

“‘Some time after that one of Cartouche’s bands stopped an
equipage in the streets of Paris. Cartouche leaned into the carriage to
recognize the faces. It was Mme. la Maréchale de Boufflers. He turned
toward his people. “Give them liberty to pass on, now and always, Mme.
de la Maréchale de Boufflers!” ordered he in a ringing voice, and he
bowed very low to the Maréchale, after he had slipped on her finger a
magnificent diamond that he had probably stolen from Mme. de Phalaris.
_Mme. de Phalaris never saw it again_.

“‘Now let us pass on to the crime in the Rue du Bac.’”



CHAPTER XXIV

_The Murder in the Rue Guenegaud_


|MARCELINE got up as much to hide her feelings as to find out if the
nickel-plated revolver was in its usual place in the drawer. Upon her
return she was greatly agitated, and told them that the revolver had
been removed.

Théophraste advised her to calm herself, saying there was nothing of
importance in that; and he proceeded to read about the crime in the
Rue du Bac, saying that the journalist who wrote the narrative was more
intelligent, and had made his report more interesting than the first
one.

“However,” said he, “there are a few inaccuracies and omissions
in his narrative. According to him one is led to think that Cartouche
indulged in amorous proceedings with Mme. de Bithigne after supper.
However, such a thing should not be allowed to get abroad, as no such
thing happened. He had no other intention than to take supper with the
lady.

“Why, my dear Marceline, if I had intended otherwise, my reputation
would have suffered, and Mme. la Maréchale de Boufflers would have
scorned me when I met her on July 13th, 1721.

“These gentlemen also relate that I outraged Mme. la Maréchale de
Boufflers. This is all wrong. I am very fond of her on account of her
intellect, and our intercourse was most polite, as well as virtuous.
If they had only studied more, these journalists would have known that
Madame in 1721 was over sixty years old, and I dare say Cartouche knew
many younger women to play such tricks on.”

Théophraste then took up the paper:

“‘The history of the Rue du Bac is much more simple. The Prefect of
Police had received a note which ran: “If you dare, come and find me;
I am always at the inn in the Rue du Bac, with Bernard.” It was signed
“Cartouche.” The thing had occurred after Mme. de Bithigne had told
her story. The Prefect thought over his case and laid his plans.

“‘That same evening, a quarter of an hour after midnight, half a
dozen policemen raided the tavern in the Rue du Bac. They were met on
the stairs by a man, who, although still young, had perfectly white
hair. He was endowed with almost superhuman strength, and, on seeing the
police, he picked up a chair near by and started striking them. Three
of them were stunned, and the others only just had time to drag the
prostrated bodies of their companions into the street to prevent them
from being burned by a fire started on the first landing by this man
with white hair. The man saved himself by jumping from roof to roof over
spaces more than thirty feet high.

“‘The new Cartouche,’ continued Théophraste, amid the scared
silence of Marceline and M. Le-camus, ‘the new Cartouche has taken
possession of the Rue Guenegaud. Several days ago they found in a
vault-like passage there under the floor the body of a young doctor, who
had been active at the death of Mme. de Bardinoldi, the mystery of which
had baffled the police and press. The police had not confided to any one
the fact that pinned to the young doctor’s tunic was a card on which
some one had written in pencil: “We will meet each other in the other
world, M. de Traneuse.” This was without doubt a crime of the new
Cartouche, for the old one did in fact assassinate at this place an
engineer named Traneuse. Cartouche had knocked him on the head with a
stick, and the young doctor had had his skull fractured with a blunt
instrument.’”

Théophraste laid down the paper, and, looking at Adolphe and Marceline,
remarked that they both looked as if they were expecting a like
catastrophe.

“Why, my dear Adolphe,” said he, “it is ridiculous for you to be
angry at such pleasantries. I take the opportunity of telling you that I
often frequent the Rue Guenegaud. That history of M. de Traneuse was to
me the beginning of one of the prettiest farces that ever I played with
M. d’Argenson’s spies. Following the death of M. de Traneuse (who
had allowed some very improper talk about me), I was followed by
two patrols of the guard, who covered me and rendered all resistance
impossible. But they were ignorant that I was Cartouche, and satisfied
themselves by conducting me to the Ford l’Avegne, which was the
easiest prison in Paris. In this prison they put debtors, drunks, and
disorderly people, and the people who have not paid their fines. They
were sure that they had taken Cartouche on the 10th of January, but
on the evening of the 9th Cartouche had made his escape, and took the
direction of his police. It was time, for everybody was now searching
the streets of Paris.

“My dear Marceline, and my dear Adolphe, you look as if you were at
a funeral. That article does not lose its quota of a certain amount of
wit. At first I thought it only the jest of a cheap journalist, but I
see now that it is very serious, believe me. Wait for the history of the
calf! Ah! We have not done yet with the affair of the Petits Augustines!
Listen!”

Théophraste picked up his paper, adjusted his gold spectacles, and
began again:

“‘That which was the most extraordinary in this adventure was that
several times during light days they have been on the point of capturing
this modern Cartouche, and that he always escaped just as the other
did, by way of the chimneys. History teaches us that the true Cartouche
designed on the 11th of June, 1721, to sack the Hotel Desmarets, Rue des
Petits Augustines. It was one of his men, Le Ratichon, who had given
him the idea. But Cartouche and Le Ratichon had been imprisoned by the
police. As soon as Cartouche was in the house, the bailiffs hastened
there and the place was invaded. He tranquilly closed the doors of the
salons and extinguished the lights, undressed himself, climbed into the
chimney, descended by another way into the kitchen, where he found a
scullion, killed the scullion, disguised himself with the dead man’s
clothes, and went out in fine form from the hotel, killing two bailiffs
with two pistol shots because they asked him news of Cartouche. Well,
what will you say when you know that our Cartouche was surrounded the
day before yesterday in a confectioner’s shop in a quarter of the
Augustines, escaped by the chimney, after having put on over all his
effects, to prevent soiling them, the pastry cook’s blouse, which had
been found on the roofs, also his pantaloons. As to the pastry cook,
they found him half buried in his bake oven. But, before putting him
there, as a humane precaution, the murderer, Cartouche, had assassinated
him.’ ”

Here Théophraste, interrupting himself again, cried:

“Previously, previously. I had previously assassinated him.... But
why do you fly into the corners? Are you afraid? Let us see, my dear
Adolphe, my dear Marceline, a little coolness— you will need it for
the history of the calf.”



CHAPTER XXV

_The Calf’s Revenge_


|NEVER had Mme. Longuet or M. Lecamus been so upset before at the
reading of a newspaper. The account of the atrocious murder did not seem
to disturb Théophraste a bit. When he came to the part where Cartouche
had placed the baker in the bake oven, Mme. Longuet groaned and could
not sit still. M. Lecamus was no less disturbed, and they both rose and
looked to Théophraste in amazement.

He then began to read the account of M. Houdry’s calf:

“‘M. Houdry was a head butcher on one of the small streets.
Everybody came to him to buy veal, which was his specialty. This report
explained itself by a fact so unusual that we can believe it only on the
affirmation of M. le Commissioner of Police Mifroid, who conducted the
first inquest. We know that all the butchers of Paris get their meat
from the abattoirs. It was against the law for them to kill anything at
home.’

“That is accurate,” said Théophraste, “that is exactly right; M.
Houdry explained that to me several times, and the confidence that he
placed in me by telling me the mystery of his abattoir astonished me not
a little. Why should he confide to me a fact which was not known to his
wife, his private clerk, a foundling whom he considered as one of the
family, and his brother-in-law, who brought the calf to him each night?
Why? Ah! No one knows. Perhaps it was because he couldn’t help it.
You know very well that no one can escape his fate. As for me, I said to
him: ‘Take care, you might end by being one of the calves!’ I resume
my reading: ‘That calf was brought to him secretly each night by his
brother-in-law, and as his abattoir was on a little court, behind which
was the open country, no one ever saw a live calf at M. Houdry’s.

“‘The inquest will tell us from whence the calf came. M. Mifroid,
the Commissioner of Police, has decided to sift the matter to the
bottom, and penetrate the whole mystery.

“‘It appears that M. Houdry had his special way of killing his calf,
a way that gave quality to the veal. He used to cut the calf’s throat
with a bleeder.’

“Is it necessary for me,” said Théophraste, “to show you what a
bleeder is?”

Going to the drawer of the sideboard, he took out the carving knife, and
while explaining that a bleeder was twice as large as that, he passed
it up and down M. Lecamus’ face to make him understand the method of
killing the calf. He tried to get M. Lecamus to hold the knife, but by
this time he was too frightened, and had retreated into a corner of the
room, fearing that Théophraste would do something violent. However, he
laughed at their temerity and sat down to read the further account.

“‘Yesterday, leaving early, monsieur shut himself in his abattoir as
usual with his calf. He was aided by his clerk in tying the calf to the
hanger. The calf being tied, the clerk busied himself in rinsing the
casks before the abattoir, which the butcher always kept shut when
killing.

“‘Ordinarily, M. Houdry took from twenty to thirty minutes to kill
his calf, gut it and bleach it. Thirty-five minutes passed, and the
double doors of the abattoir were not opened. The clerk, who had
finished rinsing, noticed it with the greatest astonishment. Often M.
Houdry had called him to scald the head, scrape the hairs off, and clean
the ears. That particular day his master did not call him. Meanwhile,
Mme. Houdry, the butcher’s wife, appeared at the door of the court.

“‘“What isthe matter there?” she asked. “Is he not finished
yet?”

“‘“It is true, madame, he is a very long time.”

“‘Then she called, “Houdry! Houdry!” No response. She crossed
the court and opened the abattoir door. The calf immediately escaped,
and began gracefully jumping around her. She looked at the calf at once
with emotion, for at that time the calf should have been dead. Then
she struck a single blow on the double door, and called again to her
husband, who did not answer her. She turned toward the clerk. “M.
Houdry is not there,” she said. “Are you sure he has not gone
out?”

“‘“Oh, madame, I am perfectly sure of it. He has not come out and
no one has gone in. I have not left the court,” replied the clerk,
springing at the calf’s head as it continued running around. “I am
sure he is there. He is just hiding to frighten you.”

“‘“It will be better to hide the calf. Houdry! Houdry!”

“‘The clerk, with a turn of the halter, had tied the calf. Entering
with Mme. Houdry he uttered a cry of surprise and said: “Oh, that is
queer! When we came in there was only one calf, a single calf, madame,
a calf which was tied to the hanger, and which gambols in the court now,
and here is another calf on the crossbeam.” Yes, indeed, there was
another calf on the tinel.

“‘“I see it now,” said Mme. Houdry. “What a small calf! But
you are foolish; there should be two calves.”

“‘“Never, madame, never.”

“‘“Well, you see perfectly the calf on the beam?”

“‘The little clerk and Mme. Houdry drew near to the beam, which was
in the shadow, and how astonished they were to see the kind of white
meat which was hanging from the beam. They had never seen such white
meat, and this meat was arranged exactly like the calf’s. They
accounted for this finally by deciding that it was not veal meat.

“‘“What a curious calf,” the clerk continued to repeat.

“‘“It is not a small calf,” said Mme. Houdry. “No! no!”

“‘“All the same, madame, they have decorated the skin on the
stomach with the lancet. See!

What pretty patterns! There are two hearts, some arrows, some flowers
...Ah! those beautiful flowers.” The clerk raised up the lungs from
which hung the heart.

“‘“It is a beautiful pluck,” said he, “and has not been
trufled. The heart is good.”

“‘“Yes, he had a good heart!” groaned Mme. Houdry, who was all
at once terrified at what she had said.

“‘Thereupon the clerk began to weep, and without knowing why, dipped
his hands in a pail of cold water which was placed beside the boiler,
looking for the head of the animal, and he drew out a head. But when she
saw the head, Mme. Houdry fainted, for she had recognized the head of
her husband.

“‘Mme. Houdry had immediately recognized her husband’s head, and
the clerk himself examined it more closely, to be sure that it was the
head of his master. It was a well-cut head—well refined, well scalded,
well scraped. The moustache and hair had been shaved, as they should be,
and but for something unforeseen, if need be, the head of the butcher
would have passed for the head of a calf.

“‘The clerk in his turn fainted, and let the head of M. Houdry roll
away.

“‘Some minutes later the tragedy was discovered, judging from the
disturbance in the quarter.’

“The journalist,” said Théophraste, “was not of the opinion
that the calf had decapitated the butcher, and that also was put before
Cartouche’s name—that poor Cartouche.” He shrugged his shoulders
once more, and then, having raised his eyes above the paper, he sought
in the two corners of the dining-room, where M. Lecamus and his wife
had taken refuge. They had disappeared. He called them and they did not
answer. He tried to open the door of the landing, and it would not open.
He then rushed to the chimney, which was large enough for him to get
up, and scaled it with the same facility as he had descended the chimney
when the boiler was beginning to boil at M. Houdry’s, the same morning
that he had decapitated that unfortunate man.



CHAPTER XXVI

_Théophraste Again Hears of His Treasures_


|THE clamber over the roofs of the Rue Ge-rondo on a cold rainy night
had a physical and moral effect on Théophraste. He had taken cold and
was suffering in consequence. From a moral point of view it had made
him change his whole view of these events. While he had been reading
the accounts of these crimes with which the new Cartouche had been
terrifying Paris, he had shown a callous indifference, but now he
commenced to hold himself responsible for many of the atrocities, and
especially for the murder of M. Houdry, which he had before facetiously
blamed on the calf.

He often recalled nocturnal visits by the route he was now following,
and several bloody crimes came back to his memory, disgusting him, and
making him weep bitter tears of useless remorse.

It was, however, too late. In spite of all his sufferings, in spite of
M. de la Nox’s invocations, and the torture they had submitted him to,
Cartouche was not dead.

And that evening, then, like many other criminal evenings, he led his
damned soul over the roofs of Paris. He wept. He cursed that mysterious,
irresistible force, which from the depths of centuries commanded him
to kill. He cursed the influence which made him kill. He thought of his
wife—of Adolphe. He bitterly regretted the hours of passed happiness
between those two beings so dear to him. He excused them for running
away. He pardoned them for their terror. He resolved never again to
trouble their peaceful days with his bloody incoherencies. “Let
me disappear,” he said to himself. “Let me hide my shame and my
original defect in the midst of the desert. They will forget me. I shall
forget myself. Let me profit by these logical moments, when my brain,
released momentarily from the Other, discusses, weighs, deduces, and
concludes and sees in the present.”

It was not Cartouche who spoke, it was Théophraste, who cried to
Cartouche: “Let us fly! Since I love Marceline, let us fly! Since I
love Adolphe, let us fly! One day they will be happy without me! There
is no longer happiness with me! Adieu! adieu! Marceline, adored woman,
faithful wife! Farewell, Adolphe, precious, consoling friend! Farewell!
Théophraste tells you farewell!” He wept. Then he said aloud: “I
come, Cartouche!”

Then he plunged into the darkness, going from gutter to gutter, from
roof to roof, sliding from high walls with safety, protected, like a
somnambulist, by Providence.

And now who is that man who, with his head lowered, his back curved,
his hands in his pockets, swayed like a poor wretch in the wind and rain
which fell profusely all the tedious way? He followed the road which
skirts the railroad. It is a straight road, bordered by small, weak
trees, plain common broom-straw—sad ornaments for a departmental
road—running along the side of the railroad. Whence comes this man,
with his hands in his pockets, or, rather, this shade of a man? The
plain extends to the right and the left without an undulation, without
the rising of a hillock, without the hollow of a riser. All this can be
seen, for this is not a night scene; it is broad daylight, on the track,
straight on by the side of the road.

Trains pass each other from time to time, local trains, fast trains,
freight trains, rattling along with an occasional ceasing when one
hears in the wind the ting, ting, ting of the bell of the disks at the
station. There is one station before, and one behind. They are small
stations, and are five kilometers apart. Between the two stations there
is a straight double track, but no viaduct, no tunnel, no bridge, not
even a culvert.

As I said before, from whence came the sad shade of a man?

It is Théophraste. He has resolved to fly—no matter where—far from
his wife.

After a night passed from gutter to gutter, not knowing where to direct
his steps, and not caring at all, he goes into a railway station. He
gets into a train without a ticket, gets out of the train at another
station.

How often does it happen that the control registers of railway stations
are badly made on account of the number of travelers.

Behold him, then, on the road at the entrance of a village which follows
the railroad track. And who is it that watches him as he crosses the
threshold of a little house at the entrance of a village?

Mme. Petito herself!

It was the first time that Mme. Petito had seen M. Longuet since he cut
off the ears of her husband. Upon seeing him, Mme. Petito became highly
indignant, and commenced upbraiding Théophraste.

After all sorts of imprecations—the result of the barbarity of
Théophraste—Mme. Petito informed Théophraste that Signor Petito had
found the treasures of the Chopinettes, that he had put them in a safe
place, and that the treasures were the richest on earth, treasures which
were worth more than two ears. They were as good as the ears of Signor
Petito, and so they were quits.

Théophraste, in the course of this discourse, found it difficult to
say very much, but this did not disturb him. He was glad of the anger
of Mme. Petito, for having furnished him with such valuable information,
and he said: “I have found my treasures, for I have found Signor
Petito again.”

Mme. Petito burst into satanic laughter.

“Signor Petito,” she exclaimed, “is in the train.”

“In which train?”

“In the train which will pass under your very nose! It will carry my
husband beyond the frontier. Get in, then, my dear monsieur; climb in
if you wish to speak to him. But hurry, for he passes by in an hour,
and they do not distribute tickets at the next station,” and her laugh
became more satanic still, so much so that Théophraste almost wished
that he was deaf again. He saluted her and walked away rapidly along
the railroad track. When he was alone he said: “Come, come! I must get
some information about my treasures from Signor Petito himself. But how?
He is in the train which will pass under my nose...



CHAPTER XXVII

_The Express Train’s Disappearance_


|IT is necessary now for us to relate the extraordinary events which
happened on the railway. At this part of the track, which is double,
there were two stations about four miles apart, through which the
express trains ran quite frequently. In the evening after Théophraste
had been speaking to Mme. Petito, the express train had passed through
the first station, and the station master was waiting for the signal
from the second station, when suddenly a message came through saying
that the train had not arrived yet. The station master could not
understand it. The train had passed through his station fifteen minutes
before, and would not have taken all that time to go the short distance
to the other station. He went out and looked up the track. There was no
sign of the train, and all was quiet. Again the signal came back, and
the second station master said that he would walk along the track to see
if he could find the cause of the delay. The first man said he would
do the same, and they both started running down the track, followed by
other men in the stations. Although it was broad daylight, nothing could
be seen of the train, and the two parties met on the track. The first
station master was greatly agitated, and wrung his hands in despair. He
knew the train had passed through his station. He was sure of it. The
report of his assistant confirmed it. Where could it have disappeared
to? The excitement and fear was too much for him, and without any
warning he fell dead at their feet with heart failure.

The men ran hither, thither, on both sides of the tracks, but no sign
of the train was there. At last they gave up the search, and placing the
dead body of the station master on a rough bier of sticks and leaves,
they made their way sadly back to the station.

They had not gone far when one of the party cried out: “Look ahead,
there’s the train!”

And there, a few yards outside the station, on the very track they had
traveled on, was a wagon and baggage car of the disappeared train!

They were all very astonished, and were running, shouting, toward the
train, when they suddenly stopped. Peering out of the doors of the train
was a peculiar head. It had no ears, and appeared as though the door had
been shut violently, catching the man’s neck. They called to him as
soon as they saw him, but he did not answer. The head just swayed from
one side to the other, rocked by the wind, which was blowing in great
gusts. Upon the head was curly hair, and the cravat around the white
neck was untied, floating in the wind.

On approaching, they saw the door of the coach was covered with blood,
and on examination saw that the man’s head was held to the door by a
piece of rag. He had evidently opened the door and poked his head out,
when somebody must have shut the door again and decapitated him. The
two men who carried the dead body of the station master uttered a cry
of dismay, and placing their burden on the track, made an examination of
the trucks. They found no one in the first one, and opening the door
of the second, found that it was empty save for the dead man’s body,
which had been stripped of all its clothing.

The news of this fantastic horror spread rapidly in the villages on the
road, and an enormous crowd gathered at the little station.

The police were sent for, but they were unable to get any clue as to who
the strange man was, or where the train with all its travelers had gone
to.

They were, however, very quiet about it, and only at the inquest did the
facts become known.

As it has been said, the tracks between these stations contained no
bridge or tunnel, but ran through a flat, desolate country, marked by
no hills. The only thing to break the line of the track was a short
side line which ran into a disused quarry, which had been used as a sand
quarry by a glassmaker. This had been abandoned many years ago, and had
not been used since.

On looking at the plan one would at once think that the presence of this
branch line was an explanation of the train disaster. But this was not
so, as subsequent events will prove. In fact, so simple a solution of
the problem would soon have been discovered by the station men.

Wandering along the road which followed the track, Théophraste had
noticed the little side track, and he had seen that the switch had been
left unlocked. This would have had no significance to him before he had
the interview with Mme. Petito, but now he saw an excellent opportunity
of getting at Signor Petito, who was on the train. He of course could
not get on the train while it was in motion. He would open the switch
and wait for the train to come up. The engineer would be sure to see it
and stop his train. Here was his opportunity.

This was simple enough, and he did as he intended. He turned the switch,
and, going along the track, hid behind the bushes to await the express.
He waited and waited for a long time, but no express came. He became
impatient, and looked up and down the track, hoping to hear it, or see
its smoke.

However, after half an hour, he rose, and, although tired of waiting,
went down the track to see what had happened. He had gone about half the
distance to the station, when he met a train-fitter who was going along
the track to look for the train. Asking him what had become of the
train, he turned back up the line, and arriving at the point where he
had been hiding, he discovered the baggage car and carriage which were
to be found a few minutes later by the trainmen from the station.

In his astonishment he asked how they could have got there without
passing him. He had not left the track, so it could not have passed him.

Suddenly he saw the head of a man at the carriage door; the head had
no ears, and so he quickly recognized it as that of Signor Petito.
He climbed up into the carriage, all excitement, and searching the
carriage, suddenly had an idea. He would disguise himself in Signor
Petito’s clothes! He quickly undressed, and stripping the dead body
of all its clothes put them on, and tied his own up in a bundle. He then
descended from the carriage, and fumbling in the pockets of the dead
man’s clothes, drew out an old pocketbook. He became feverishly
excited as he searched through the papers, seeking some trace of his
treasures. But he found nothing, and he found it difficult to hide his
disappointment, for Signor Petito had carried the secret of the treasure
to the grave.

Mme. Petito was unable to give him any information, for soon after
hearing of her husband’s death she became insane, and remained so to
the end of her days.



CHAPTER XXVIII

_Not To Be Explained!_


|AS Théophraste was searching through the pocketbook of Signor Petito,
he had wandered unconsciously away from the track into the fields. Upon
returning, he was astonished to find the carriage had disappeared. He
looked up and down the track, but could find no trace of it. Which was
the most astonishing, the disappearance or the apparition of the train?
He could not make it out, and the events had thrown him into a state
bordering on prostration.

He went down the track, examined the switch, and put it back in its
original position and locked it, taking the key with him.

He walked on to the upper station, but with the exception of the
signalman everybody had gone out in search of the train. He interrogated
him, but could only learn that the train had been reported but never
came.

Théophraste insisted. “They certainly did report the express to you
from the preceding station?”

“Yes, sir. I am certain. Look at my signal. It is still put to allow
the train to pass. The station master and all the men of the station
preceding saw the express pass and telegraphed to us. In short,
monsieur, you see my little yellow arm. A catastrophe between the
preceding station and this one is not possible; there is not a single
bridge or viaduct. I was mounted on the ladder that you see leaning
against that great vat. From there one can see the whole line, as far as
the other station. I saw our people gesticulating on the line, but did
not see the train.”

“Strange, very strange!”

“Yes, indeed. You must trust my little yellow arm.”

“Inexplicable.”

“There is nothing more inexplicable.”

“There are things more inexplicable still than that which have
happened.”

“What, then?”

“A carriage without a locomotive appeared and disappeared, and no one
could tell from whence it came. It disappeared, as it appeared.... Did
you not see a carriage with a man at the door pass by here?”

“Monsieur,” said the signalman angrily, “you mock me! You are
exaggerating because you do not believe the story of the express which
did not come. But look, monsieur, at my signal; that is proof enough. It
cannot make a mistake.”

M. Longuet replied to the signalman: “If you did not see the express,
neither did I.”

In that “neither did I” commenced the inward thoughts of M. Longuet,
who went away in Signor Petito’s clothes. M. Longuet had an idea. His
misfortune was so extreme and so incurable that he resolved to die
for the others. With a little cunning this was possible, since he had
reclothed himself in Signor Petito’s clothes. Nothing would hinder him
from leaving his on the bank of the first river he came to.

This would constitute a suicidal act, according to the law.

M. Longuet was moved to the thought of addressing a letter to Marceline
and Adolphe. On the banks of what river would he put his clothes? How
could he re-enter Paris? However, these thoughts passed through his head
momentarily, for there was only one thing which was really of importance
to him, and that was the explanation of the disappearance of the train.

This explanation was given to Théophraste by M. Mifroid, under the
circumstances which we shall now report.



CHAPTER XXIX

_M. Milford Recognizes Cartouche_


|AT midnight an artisan was singing in a square in Paris, at the side
of the ancient Quarter d’Enfer, the hymn which several months later
became so popular, the “International.” That artisan was working
with several companions repairing the track, which had sustained certain
damages, following the construction of a new drain. The track was bent
in certain places, and even a house in that situation, a heavy new house
of seven stories, was leaning. The city engineers were much concerned
by this state of affairs. They knew that in this quarter the catacombs
projected their innumerable tunnels, their thousands of drains, and that
certain buildings were in a very precarious state.

There are ancient Gallic-Roman quarries under those tottering walls, and
so they determined on some work to make these houses secure.

The day which interests us saw the end of this work. The artisan who
sang the “International” had, with his companions, completed the
stopping of a hole in the subterranean vault that they had previously
strengthened with very heavy pillars, several meters high.

It was just about twilight when they relinquished their work, and the
workman who sang the “International” had almost finished stopping up
the hole at that hour.

At the same hour, not far away on the square, in front of an electrical
lamp store, a few people stood about on the pavement, and M. Mifroid
was buying a few lamps for his men. He had paid for them and was just
leaving the store with his package, when he saw in front of the store
a young man with white hair. He was so taken aback that he slipped into
his pockets, without having paid for them, several electrical lamps.
Always courageous, M. Mifroid bounded toward the man, crying: “It is
Cartouche!” He had recognized him, for since the revenge of the calf,
all the commissioners of police had the portrait of Cartouche in their
pockets. We should add that Mme. Longuet herself, and M. Lecamus,
immediately after the reading relative to the calf, had shut M. Longuet
up, with the design of sending an urgent communication to the nearest
Commissariat.

Then M. Mifroid, who had known our hero as Théophraste, when he had
dined with him, and who recognized him as Cartouche, cried out in
bounding toward him: “It is Cartouche!”

Théophraste had known for days what the police wanted with him, and
when he saw Mifroid and heard the words “It is Cartouche!” he said
to himself: “It is time for me to get out of this.” And he ran down
the street.

The commissioner ran on behind him, and was just grabbing him by the
collar, when they both fell down the hole which the workman was filling.

The man had left for a few minutes to drink with his companions at the
saloon near by, and on his return he completed his work, not knowing
that the two men had fallen, and so they were imprisoned.



CHAPTER XXX

_M. Mifroid’s Theory_


|WHEN M. Mifroid recovered sufficiently from the shock of his fall, the
first thing that worried him was that he would be “out of the game.”
Even at the moment of his fall his presence of mind did not fail him,
and he knew that he was falling into one of the thousand-year-old
quarries, which crossed under Paris in their intricate meanderings. He
experienced that feeling accompanied by a light, painful torpor which
follows a swoon caused by shock.

He was in the catacombs!

His first thought was to try and find the lights which he had just
bought, and so find out how the passage lay. He felt sure that they
must have fallen through the hole with him. The darkness seemed to weigh
heavily on his eyelids, and a great feeling of depression came over
him. Without getting up, for by an imprudent movement he would lose the
knowledge of the exact place where he had fallen, he spread his hands
about him and was relieved to find his package again. He feared at first
that the lamps would be broken, but soon felt that it was not so; and
breaking open the package, he pressed the button on one of the lamps.
The cavern was lighted with a fairy brightness, and he could not keep
from smiling as he thought of the unfortunates who, shut up in some
cavern, generally drag themselves along, holding their breath, behind a
paltry snuff of a candle, which at any moment might flicker out.

He got up then and examined the vault. He knew of the work of repairing
the track, and knew that they neared the end, but when he saw that the
hole through which he had fallen was closed, a feeling akin to fear came
over him.

Now some meters of earth separated him from the outside world, unless it
was possible for him to get up to this place which they had filled in.
He, however, flashed his light around, and after surveying the walls and
the vaults, he came across a prostrate body. The sight at first gave
him a shock, but on examination he found it to be the body of M.
Longuet—the body of the new Cartouche. He examined it and noticed that
it did not bear a single trace of serious wounds. The man was stunned,
as he had been himself, and without doubt he would not be slow in coming
out of that swoon. He recalled that M. Lecamus had presented him to his
friend in the Champs Elysées, and behold, he was now mixed up with him
like the worst kind of assassins.

Just then M. Longuet breathed a sigh, stretched his arm, and complained
of some pains. He arose, and, saluting M. Mifroid, asked him where
they were. M. Mifroid told him. He did not seem at all distressed, but
drawing forth his portfolio, he traced some lines which resembled a
plan, and showed them to M. Mifroid, saying:

“M. le Commissioner, we are at the bottom of the catacombs. It is an
extraordinary event. How we are going to get out I do not know, but that
which is distressing me most at the present moment is what has happened
to the express train.” M. Mifroid demanded some explanation, and M.
Longuet related to him, with the closest detail, the disappearance
and re-appearance of the carriage and the train. For the better
understanding of the track he drew a plan out as follows:

A H D C B

This he showed to M. Mifroid.

He explained how the train had disappeared between A and B. How he had
turned the switch at H and waited at D for the train to pass on to
the side track. He described how the train had never come, and how the
carriage had appeared and disappeared.

M. Mifroid became greatly interested, and begged him to repeat the
story. “And when did this happen?” asked he. “It has not yet been
reported to me.”

“It happened several hours ago,” said Théophraste, “and it should
have been reported by now.”

M. Mifroid examined the plan for about five minutes, and after
reflecting for a while, asked Théophraste a few questions. Suddenly he
burst out laughing and said: “Why, what a difficult problem. I have
solved it in five minutes.

“You said there were five men at A and five men at B. It passes
through B, but not A. You were at D, and because you did not see, it
did not pass? Consequently, your train vanished. Well, I say the train
exists between A and B, and must be somewhere between B and I, that is
sure; the train is in the sandhill.”

“I swear not!” said Théophraste. “I was at D expecting the train, and I
did not leave the track.”

“It can be nowhere else, for five men saw it pass B and the five men
at A are equally certain it didn’t pass them. Therefore I say that as
only you were at D it passed that point, and undoubtedly switched off
on I, since it could not be otherwise. By a necessary chance, while the
first cars of the train were engulfed in the sand hillock, which covered
it up (imagine that the line H is too short for the engineer to have had
time to avoid the accident), the yoke chain of the last car was broken,
and so the last carriage was forced by the baggage car to descend as far
as D, on the track, which was slightly up-grade, since it wrent into
a sand hillock. Then after going down to H and back to D, you saw the
carriage and Signor Petito in the doorway. Your Signor Petito opened the
carriage door, perhaps to throw himself out, as soon as he was aware of
the imminent catastrophe, and as the latter caused a shock, it closed
the door on the head of your Signor Petito.

“Now, having despoiled Signor Petito of his clothing, you walk into
the fields to read his papers. When you return the carriage is no longer
there. Now, then. Since there was a declivity, and since there was a
wind, the carriage, after having rolled as far as H, is found on the
line A—B, where the trainmen certainly have found it by this time. Do
you understand now? Do you understand all except that you did not see
the train pass D? You are deaf sometimes, M. Longuet?”

“I have already had the honor of telling you so.”

“Imagine that you were deaf while you were waiting for the train at D.
You did not hear then?”

“No, but I should have seen it.”

“Already you did not hear it. That is much. Possibly you turned your
head for three seconds. Three seconds, that is to say, one second and
thirty hundredths longer than is necessary to see an express train of
four carriages pass before you, which, being late, made 120 to the hour.
M. Longuet, the train disappeared, or, rather, seemed to disappear,
because you were deaf and turned your head for a brief space of time.”

M. Longuet raised his arms to the limit toward the vaults of the
catacombs.



CHAPTER XXXI

_Lost in the Catacombs_


|WHEN M. Longuet had recovered from the emotion that M. Mifroid’s
explanation of the train had caused him, he went through his pockets and
handed over to M. Mifroid a revolver and a large knife that he had found
in Signor Petito’s pocket.

He was now perfectly rational and felt free from the influences of
Cartouche. He, however, dreaded the return of these fancies, and asked
M. Mifroid to accept these articles in order to defend himself should he
again be possessed with this evil spirit.

Continuing the search through his pockets, he produced seven lamps like
those of M. Mifroid, and so between them they had thirteen of these
lights, which would give them 520 hours of continuous light. They,
however, worked out that they could do ten hours a day without light
on account of sleep, and their calculations gave them fourteen hours of
light per day.

“M. Longuet,” said M. Mifroid, “you are wonderful. Cartouche
himself could not have done better; but what is the good of carrying
them around with us? They will only be a nuisance. Are you hungry, M.
Longuet? How long do you think you could remain without food?”

“I am sure,” he declared, “that I could remain this way
forty-eight hours.”

“Well, you will have to remain like this for seven days, perhaps. I
will throw these ten lamps away, as after the third one I am afraid we
shall not have much need of the rest.”

“Where are you going?” asked M. Longuet. “No matter where,”
answered his companion; “but we must go anywhere rather than stay
here, for there is not a ray of hope here. We will reflect while
walking. Walking is our only salvation, but by walking seven days we
will risk all chance of arriving anywhere, unless we make a plan.”
“Why not make an exact plan?” asked M. Longuet.

“Because I have observed in all the stories of the catacombs there
were always marked plans which the unfortunate wanderers have lost. They
were confused by the marked places, and not understanding anything
about it, they became overwhelmed with despair. In our situation it is
necessary to shun all causes for despair. You are not without hope, M.
Longuet?”

“Oh, by no means, M. Mifroid. I will add, even, that were I not so
hungry, your pleasant society aiding, I should not at all regret
the roofs of the Rue Gerondo. You must tell me some stories of the
catacombs, M. Mifroid, to let me forget my hunger.”

“Why, certainly, my friend. There is the story of the ‘Jailer,’
and the story of the ‘Four Soldiers.’”

“With which will you begin?”

“I am first going to tell you of the catacombs in general; this will
make you understand why it is necessary to walk a long time to get out
of them.”

Here M. Longuet interrupted him, asking why in ending his sentences he
always made a gesture with the thumb of his right hand.

“That means, M. le Commissioner, that the gesture has become a habit
with you—putting on thumb-screws?”

M. Mifroid declared that that was not the reason. He often gave himself
up to sculpture, and he explained to him that it was the habit of a
modeler. He buried his hand in his discoveries, just as he did in his
clay.”

M. Longuet expressed astonishment that a police commissioner should
interest himself in sculpture. However, it afterward transpired that M.
Mifroid’s knowledge of this art was the means of their final escape
from the catacombs.

M. Mifroid, in reporting, the events of the catacombs, wrote as follows:

“The way that we were following was a vast passage of four or five
meters high. The walls were very dry, and the electric light which lit
our way allowed us to see a hard stone, devoid of all vegetation, even
of moisture. That proof was not one to rejoice M. Longuet’s heart, for
he was beginning to be very thirsty. I knew that in the catacombs there
were some threads of running water. I thanked heaven for not putting us
on one of these threadlike streams, for we should only have lost time in
imbibing there, and, moreover, as we could not carry away any water, it
would only have made us more thirsty.

“M. Longuet objected to the idea that we were walking without caring
where. I resolved to make him understand the necessity of walking
on anywhere, in relating to him that which was the truth, that the
engineers, when repairing the track, had descended into the catacombs,
and had sought in vain to discover their limits, and to find an outlet
they were obliged to give it up, and they built those pillars as
supports, and built the arch with masons’ materials; they descended
directly into the hole, before closing it finally over our heads. Not
to discourage M. Longuet, I informed him that, to my knowledge, we
could count on at least 520 kilometers of catacombs, but there was not a
single reason why they should not have had more. Evidently, if I had
not warned him immediately of the difficulty of getting out of there, he
would have manifested his despair the second day of the walk.

“‘I think, then,’ I said to him, ‘that they have dug this soil
from the third to the seventeenth century. For during 1400 years, man
had removed from under the soil the materials that were necessary to
construct above. If at any time there was not enough above, there was
always more below. That above returns below, and goes out thence,’
and as we still found ourselves under the ancient Quarter d’Enfer, I
recalled to him that in 1777 a house in the Rue d’Enfer was swallowed
up by the earth below. It was precipitated to 28 meters below the soil
in its court. Some months later, in 1778, seven persons met death in a
similar caving in. I cited still several more recent examples, dwelling
upon the accident to persons. He understood, and said to me: ‘In
short, it is often more dangerous to walk above than below.’

“I kept on, seeing that he was impressed, and he spoke no more of his
hunger, and forgot his thirst. I profited by it to make him lengthen his
step, and I burst into the most entrancing song which came into my mind.
He took it up, and we sang in chorus:=

```“‘Au pas, comerade, au pas,

````La route est belle!

```J’aura du frictiti la bas,

````Dans la gamelle!’=

“It was this which made him keep step.

“One gets tired of singing very quickly in the catacombs, because
the voice does not carry; so when we had got tired M. Longuet asked a
hundred more questions. He asked me how many meters there were over our
heads. I told him that that could vary, from the latest reports, from
5m.82 and 79 meters. Sometimes, I told him, the crust of earth was so
thin that it was necessary to extend the foundations of the tombs as far
as the bottom of the catacombs. So that we might, in the course of our
peregrinations, encounter the pillars of Saint Sulpice de St. Etienne du
Mont, of the Pantheon of the Val de Grace, of the Odeon. These monuments
are erected in some way on the subterranean pilings.

“‘Really, in the course of our peregrinations we risk encountering
some of these subterranean pilings.’ But he had his own fixed idea.

“‘And in the course of our peregrinations, is there any chance of
our coming upon an exit? Are there many ways out of the catacombs?’

“‘There are not,’ I replied; ‘there is need of them. First of
all, there are egresses into the quarter.’

“‘So much the better,’ he interrupted.

“‘And other ways out that some know of, but by which none are ever
admitted, but which exist, nevertheless, in the caves of the Pantheon,
in those of the College of Henry IV, of the Hospital of the Undi, of
some houses in the Rue d’Enfer, of Vangirard, of the Tombe Issoire at
Passy, at Chaillot, at Saint Maur, at Clarenton, at Gentilly—more
than sixty. In order to safeguard building construction, an ordinance
was made which closed all the openings to the catacombs.

It is that ordinance, my dear M. Longuet, which has almost walled us
in.’

“At that moment we struck an enormous pillar. I examined its
construction, and said without stopping: ‘Here is a pillar which
was used by the architects of Louis XVI in 1778, then of the
Consolidation.’

“‘Poor Louis XVI!’ said M. Longuet. ‘He had better have
consolidated royalty.’

“M. Longuet had taken the electric lamp from my hands, and did not
cease to throw the rays to the right and left, as if he was looking for
something. I asked him the reason of this, which would fatigue the eyes.

“‘I am looking for some corpses,’ he said.

“‘Some corpses!’

“‘Skeletons. I have heard that the walls of the catacombs are hung
with skeletons.’

“‘Oh, my friend’—I already called him friend, his serenity
in such a serious emergency delighting me so much—‘that ghastly
tapestry is only a little longer than a kilometer. That kilometer justly
called an ossuary, on account of the skulls, the radius, the cubitus,
tibias, shin-bones, phalanges, the thorax, and other small bones which
were made into unique ornaments. But what ornaments! Ornaments of three
million skeletons, that were brought from the cemeteries and acropolis
of Saint Midard Clucy, Saint Lamdry of the Carmelites, the Benedictines,
and of the Innocents.

“‘All bones, the little bones well sorted, arranged, co-ordinated,
classified, labeled, which made on the walls and in the cross passages,
roses, parallelopipides, triangles, rectangles, volutes, crevices, and
many other figures of marvelous regularity.

“‘Let us wish, my friend, to reach that domain of the dead. It
will be life. For there there are always a number of people. It is much
frequented. But we are not there. What is one kilometer of dead men’s
bones in five hundred?’

“‘Clearly! How many kilometers do you think we have made, M.
Mifroid?’

“‘We have made nine.’

“‘What are nine kilometers in five hundred?’

“I induced M. Longuet not to make these useless calculations, and
he begged me to tell him the story of the ‘Jailer’ and that of the
‘Four Soldiers.’

“That made two histories which were not very long in telling. There
were only a few words in the first. There was once a jailer of the
catacombs who became lost in the catacombs. They found his corpse eight
days later. The second related to four soldiers of the Val-de-Graces,
who were descending, by the aid of a cord, into a well of eighty meters.
They were in the catacombs, and as they did not reappear some drummers
were sent down, who made the greatest noise that they could with their
drums, but in the catacombs sound does not carry, and no one responded
to the rolling. They hunted, and at the end of forty hours they found
them dying in a blind alley.

“‘They had no moral courage,’ said Théophraste.

“‘They were foolish,’ I added. ‘Whoever is foolish enough to
wander into the catacombs deserves no pity.’

“We were by this time come to a crossway, and M. Longuet turned to ask
which way we would follow.

“I could answer him without delay. I said:

“‘Here are two galleries; which are you going to take? One goes
almost directly back to our starting-point, the other directly away from
it.’ As our design was to go away from our starting-point, M. Longuet
showed me the first gallery.

“‘I was sure of it!’ I exclaimed. ‘But you disregard the entire
principle. The experimental method has for centuries demonstrated that
at the bottom of the catacombs all individuals who wish to come back to
their point of setting out (to the entrance of the catacombs) go away
from it; then the whole logic of it is, to go away from one’s point of
starting out, one must take the way which apparently brings one back to
it.’ And so we decided on the gallery which seemed to us to bring us
back over our steps, so we were sure of not having made a useless trip.
That system was excellent, for it led us into a certain region of the
catacombs that no one had visited before, since the fourteenth century,
otherwise it would have been known.”



CHAPTER XXXII

_A Dissertation on Fish_


|M. LONGUET had from the first been complaining of his great hunger.
He was getting very weak, and the end of the thirty-sixth hour saw him
cursing their misfortune. However, what would have been the good of a
little food? They were buried alive, and food would have been like a
buoy to a shipwrecked sailor, alone in the middle of the ocean. It could
only serve to prolong the agony.

M. Mifroid was more philosophical. He said that if there had been
anything to eat to give them strength to continue their way, he would
have been the first to suggest their stopping. But, with the exception
of some mushrooms, probably poisonous, that his watchful eye had seen,
there was nothing, so he urged M. Longuet to tramp on. M. Longuet,
however, was unreasonable; he said he was hungry, and yet did not seem
able to exert himself to get out of the catacombs.

He asked M. Mifroid question after question as to the catacombs and what
he could eat to stay his terrible hunger. M. Mifroid tried to keep him
interested by telling him of a visit he had made to the laboratory in
the catacombs of M. M. Edwards. He told him of the fauna and the flora
in obscure and cavernous places, of which, if necessary, he could make a
meal.

Although the conversation was in vain, as far as its effects on
Théophraste were concerned, M. Mifroid kept on. Hungry men are always
eager to talk of things to eat, and although he didn’t wish to
acknowledge his hunger, he spoke of these things, and in endeavoring to
put spirit into Théophraste allayed his own feelings.

“My dear friend,” said he to Théophraste, “it may be that even if
we don’t get out of the catacombs we will not die of hunger. There is
a stream somewhere here, and I have heard that there are certain fishes
therein. They are not large fish, but there are incalculable quantities
of them. They are of different sizes, and are not unpleasant to
taste.”

“Have you seen them?” asked Théophraste.

“No; but my friend, M. Edwards, told me about them when I visited the
Fountain of the Fanaisetan.”

“Is that far from here?”

“I can’t tell you just now—all that I know is that this fountain
was constructed in 1810 by M. Hericourt de Thury, engineer of the
subterranean quarries. This fountain is inhabited by the cope-podes.”

“Are they fish?”

“Yes, they present some very singular modifications of tissues and
colorative. They have a beautiful red eye. That is why they are called
cyclops. That this fish has only one eye ought not to astonish you, for
the asellus aquaticus, which lives as well in the running water of the
catacombs, is a small isopode aquatic, which often has no eyes at all.
Many species have, instead of an eye, only a small red pig snout; others
have not a trace of one. They do not need to see clearly, since they
live in darkness. Nature is perfect, and never found wanting. It only
gives eyes to those who can use them, and does not give them to those to
whom they are unnecessary.”

Théophraste was struck by M. Mifroid’s words.

“Then,” said he, “if we continue to live in the catacombs we will
end by not having eyes!”

“Evidently we will commence to lose the use of our sight and
eventually become blind.”

Then Théophraste insisted upon M. Mifroid continuing his talk on
these fish that could be found in the catacombs, and which they would,
perhaps, have to eat. He was thus induced to give a sort of lecture on
the modifications of the organs, and their excessive development, or
their atrophy, following the ways frequented by individuals.

He continued: “So the fish of which I speak have no eyes. Their sense
organs present modifications. For instance, the asellus aquaticus, even
of the normal species, is armed with small, flat organs, terminated by a
pore, that are considered olfactory organs. They are veritable olfactory
cudgels, and these very fish which do not see know the space around
them as well, possibly better, than if they could see in the light, so
perfectly developed are these olfactory and tactile organs. Yes, my dear
Théophraste, there are circumstances in the lives of some living
things where the nose takes the place of the eyes, and the nose can thus
acquire perfectly incredible dimensions. In the wells of Padirac there
was found an asellide which possessed olfactory cudgels of an amazing
length.”

“Are there none in the running waters of the catacombs?” demanded
Théophraste.

“No, none at all. Yet there are found many sorts of cavernical fish,
such, for example, as the niphugus puleamus, and this is found in great
abundance. Their ocular organs are atrophied.”

This, however, did not interest Théophraste, who had got his own idea.

“Do you know how they fish for them?” he asked.

“I cannot say,” said Mif roid; “but we can surely get some sort of
bait from the surrounding vege-matter.”

In a little while they both fell asleep, dreaming of this water which
was to bring them relief. However, though their dreams were pleasant
enough, there were surprises for them when they awoke.



CHAPTER XXXIII

_The Meeting of the Talfa_


|THEY had been sleeping on a soft soil or decayed vegetable matter, the
sight of which had drawn from M. Mifroid the remark that it was a good
omen for the near future. Their travels up to the present had been
without incident, except for some differences of opinion between them.
The subterranean galleries, lit up by the electric lamps, were sometimes
vast, sometimes straight, sometimes rounded out like the vault of a
cathedral, then square and regular, and so narrow that they had to crawl
on their knees to get through. They had by this time become silent,
except for a remark or two upon the variety of the strata they were
passing through. Here was rock, here clay, here sand, and so on.

It could not, however, last much longer. For forty-eight hours they
had been walking, without coming across any water. M. Mifroid, however,
hoped on, and we will soon see how justified he was. He hoped at least
to come across some water or vegetation.

They estimated it to be about four o’clock in the afternoon, when
Théophraste rose, and, tightening his belt, prepared to start on
another tramp. This time he did not speak of his hunger or thirst, but
walked on in that silence which weakness brings on men. They had been
walking about an hour when it was noticed that the temperature had
become much higher, and they both involuntarily took off their coats.
Soon the perspiration began to pour off their foreheads, and they began
to wonder how this change could have come about. Were they going toward
the center of the earth? How could it be accounted for? In two hours the
temperature had risen from 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. M. Mifroid knew
of some galleries 79 meters below the ground, but who could estimate
what depth they were at now?

Their electric lamps spread their brilliancy around them as they
advanced, now discussing the cause of this phenomenon. Suddenly the
walls of the galleries spread out, and they found themselves in a cave
of such large dimensions that even with their strong lights they could
not see the farther ends. What was their joy and amazement when they
found before them a beautiful lake, the banks of which were covered with
a thick carpet of moss, and in the crystal transparency of which they
saw fish with beautifully colored scales. The fish had no eyes, and did
not appear timid. They disported themselves in the water, coming quite
close to where the two astonished men stood. They could easily catch
them by leaning over. A flock of ducks were swimming about in the
enchanted water.

M. Théophraste wept with joy on seeing this wonderful sight, and cried
out softly, for he was afraid of disturbing them: “My friend, what did
I say? Isn’t this better than all earthly scenes?”

M. Mifroid felt somewhat humiliated at not knowing this before, but
soon regained his influence over Théophraste, who was beginning to get
excited over this wonderful sight. He made him sit down on the bank, so
as not to frighten the ducks, and began explaining to him that what they
saw was quite natural. He explained that it was caused by the soil, and
that the water had collected here by the action of the heat.

Théophraste was for throwing himself into the water at once, and would
have done so if they had not suddenly seen a sight which riveted them
to the very ground. Neither of them spoke. Their tongues were paralyzed.
Their electric light revealed, far ahead of them, but not far enough
for them to lose a single detail, the figure of a woman. She was quite
naked, and had her back toward them. Never before had they seen a form
so elegant and so graceful.

This first view, however, lasted only an instant, for she threw herself
into the water and swam away with the grace and ease of a swan.

The apparition had the effect of making them forget the ducks, and they
both forgot the hunger which gnawed at their vitals. They had hoped that
she would not vanish, and that their presence would remain unnoticed.

After several plunges, the nymph, shaking the pearly drops from her
beautiful body into the sleeping waters, emerged not far away from where
they stood, but always with her back turned.

What quarry of Carrara ever gave to the world more precious or purer
a marble? By what miracle of the divine fires can we contemplate those
lines of definitive beauty? It was the form of a Greek statue, and her
arms were as graceful as one could wish to imagine on the Venus de Milo.

They waited in silence for her to turn around, while she disported
herself on the green moss. Soon their curiosity was satisfied, and she
suddenly turned. Neither of them could restrain a cry of horror, which
made the Venus plunge back into the water. She had no eyes, and there
was nothing in their place. Her ears, which were hidden from their sight
by the profusion of hair, stood out like horns. But that which terrified
them most was her enormous, snout-like red nose.

They had hardly recovered from their first surprise when another young
female, clothed in a light tunic, came unexpectedly on the bank, holding
in her arms a long gown. She also had a nose like the other, and no
eyes.

The Venus came toward her companion on the bank, and the latter said:
“They are silent now, and not saying a word.”

“Ha, Saint Mary, they shall have no pardon! They are traitors. Do you
know what our people are doing? Go and find out; I want to know.” She
spoke in the purest French of the fourteenth century, and the delicacy
and sweetness of her voice was like the rippling water of a brook. The
two men watched and listened in amazement. They stood still and stared
before them. They felt that a great miracle was being wrought.

Suddenly they were surrounded by thirty or more men, who seemed to have
come from out of the very rocks. They stood around them, gesticulating
and talking vehemently, but in very low voices. They too had no eyes,
but their ears were developed to a surprising size. On each of their
hands they had ten fingers, and they had ten toes to each foot. As they
came into the glare of the electric light, they held their hands up to
their red snouts, as if they had smelled a disagreeable odor. They all
mumbled in half-audible tones: “Lady Jane de Montfort, Demoiselle de
Coucy,” and it was easy to see that they referred to the ladies who
had been disturbed. As they passed they felt the faces of the two
men. They just touched them lightly, and in doing so moved away in an
apologetic way. It seemed as if they were curiosities. They felt their
eyes, their noses, and their ears, and some of them even put their
fingers down their ears. It was evident they could not understand the
smallness of their features.

Then one of them addressed M. Mifroid, and while apologizing for their
curiosity, said he was astonished at their want of beauty.

By this time Lady Jane de Montfort and Demoiselle de Coucy were dressed,
and M. Mifroid and M. Théophraste were presented to them.

The two men begged a thousand pardons for their intrusion, and were
about to explain their intrusion, when Demoiselle de Coucy took
Théophraste by the arm, and Lady Jane took M. Mifroid, and they were
conducted through the vaults surrounded by the crowd of men. It was
difficult for them to prevent the men from poking their eyes out as they
fumbled over their faces.

They had been forty-eight hours without food, and their hunger was
extreme, and now they were to be taken away from where there was food.

The two women had taken possession of their lamps under the pretext of
being troubled by the odor.

They tried to tell the people that they were exhausted, but so many
questions were put to them that no opportunity presented itself.

They had by this time reached a large chamber. There was a dull light,
and they felt the presence of thousands of people. M. Mifroid managed to
get one of the lamps, and quickly pressing the button, lit up the vast
hall, in which were crowded thousands of these weird men, all with
the large noses and ears, but with no eyes. Some of them walked on all
fours, and some had such long noses that they looked like pelicans.

Finally they were informed that they were at the entrance to the meeting
hall.



CHAPTER XXXIV

_M. Mifroid Performs on the Stage_


|ONE would never have expected to drop from one of the numberless ways
in the catacombs into a city of twenty thousand inhabitants. However,
upon reflection, one would wonder why men, taken out of their natural
environment, would not be susceptible to the same natural changes as the
animals.

Arajo relates to us how he saw flocks of blind ducks come out of the
caverns of the subterranean lake of Zirhnitz. One is bound to believe
that these ducks were the products of ducks which once saw clearly, but
which were shut up by some accident in the bowels of the earth, in the
midst of obscure waters. And so there is some logic in the theory that
if the family of a man in the first years of the fourteenth century was
by accident confined in the catacombs, it would live there and produce
offspring. At the end of the third generation they would have forgotten
the existence of the open world. Of course they would continue to speak
the language, and as no strange element would mix with it, it would
preserve its purity through centuries.

Then in the darkness they would lose the use of their eyes, but develop
their sense of touch as blind men do. Hence the excess of digits on
their hands and feet. Then the loss of one sense always develops all the
other senses in proportion. After centuries these super-developed senses
become abnormal, and the nose and ears develop accordingly in size.

And so it was with these people of the Talfa. Their features had
developed to an extraordinary extent, and their idea of beauty in the
human form was based on the excessive development of these features.
Demoiselle de Coucy was considered the most beautiful of all the Talfa.

They had entered the large meeting room, and M. Mifroid attempted to
again light his lamp, but the crowd cried out in such disgust that he
was persuaded to keep it out. He endeavored to converse with those near
by. Their names were among the most illustrious in France at the time
of the Battle of Crecy. But they addressed themselves in a tone so
ineffably sweet, and all the uproar they tried to make resulted in
an enchanting murmur. It was difficult to imagine that such sweet and
honeyed words could emanate from such ugly beings.

M. Mifroid was seated on a chair next to Lady Jane de Montfort, who
continually felt his face and touched his ears. While her curiosity
was great she approached him with such delicate gracefulness that he
hadn’t the heart to restrain her.

Soon there was a great silence, and a concert began. To Mifroid and
Théophraste nothing was to be heard. Occasionally the people applauded
quietly, but the absolute silence of the performers was a striking
feature. Not a word was heard.

Soon there was much talking again around the two men, and they learned
that it was intended that they should go down on the stage. This was the
reason why they had been dragged to the meeting hall. They were to be
exhibited as a phenomenon. Théophraste willingly consented, as his
companion had promised him a good duck for dinner. M. Mifroid was not
so easily persuaded, but at last acquiesced, and they descended to the
stage. They all clamored for a song, and M. Mifroid started one of the
old French songs of the fourteenth century, which he had learned as a
boy. He had hardly started the first verse, when everybody in the hall
called out for him to sing lower.

He started again, this time moderating his voice, but again they called
to him to sing lower. The third time he could hardly hear himself, so
low was his voice, but this did not satisfy his audience, and he left
the platform with his song unfinished. He afterward learned that the
sense of hearing of these people was so developed that they could
understand silent music.



CHAPTER XXXVI

_A New Trade_


|AFTER the concert the party went out of the hall, and passed on to a
striking mansion in which a sumptuous repast was served. M. Mifroid
had by this time become quite intimate with the Lady de Montfort. He
confessed that he was unable to withstand the allurements of the lady.
It must not be forgotten that the darkness was most conducive to the
failure of all his honorable intentions. However, we will not dilate
upon what happened, but Mme. de Montfort weakened him with her caresses
and M. Mifroid at last succumbed to the temptation. After a while she
slept, and he opened the door and went out.

Although they had been among the Talfa several hours, neither M. Mifroid
nor Théophraste had had the inclination to see what kind of habitation
they were in. Weakness and the great crowd of Talfa had prevented them.

M. Théophraste had conducted himself in such a manner during the meal,
eating everything to excess, that he had had to be carried out. It was
done according to the directions of Mme. de Coucy, who, it is feared,
would not at that time have carried on her love intrigues.

Now M. Mifroid found himself alone, and he decided to investigate. As he
went out of the room, he realized that he was in a subterranean city.

That which struck him most was the total absence of doors. All the shops
were open to the passers-by, and the most precious articles as well as
the poorest were exposed for any one to take who wished.

He was very much amused by the profusion of the columns, by the
incredible carving in the friezes, by the reliefs and sculptured caps
to the pillars. They were so extravagantly flowered, with the lines so
intricate, that only a master hand could have worked them. A curious
point about all this work was that it only reached as high as a man
could touch. Above that point the design mixed in with the vaulting of
the catacombs and was left to the imagination. But whatever was seen of
this beautiful carving could only be compared with the marvels worked by
the early sculptors of India or the ivory-carvers of Burma.

In the search M. Mifroid did not come upon any large building. He had
frequently heard Mademoiselle say: “Ah, St. Mary!” And so he tried
to find some temple in order to find out what their religion was. His
search, however, was in vain. The only building of any size was
the concert hall where they had been earlier. It was certainly more
wonderful than all the rest, but except for this one example all the
architectural marvels were applied to the private buildings. The meanest
aperture, the poorest door, were little gems of art. There were no
statues in the squares.

M. Mifroid was just starting back to his lady’s house, when he met
a party of young Talfa, armed with cross-bows. “Ah!” thought he,
“here are the guards.” He was, however, quickly undeceived, for they
had smelled the odor from his lamp, and they came up to him. They told
him they were going for a hunt. The hunting season started every year
on the rising of the waters of the great lake. At this time there were
always a lot of rats, which were killed in thousands and used for many
different things in the Talfa households.

Thanks to the directions they had given him, he soon found his way back
to Lady de Montfort’s house. There he found her waiting at the window,
and as soon as he got near her, she waved her handkerchief.

They were soon in conversation again, and he found out that she was not
married.

She asked him what he did on the top of the earth, and he told her he
was a commissioner of police. She listened intently, and asked what
Théophraste did.

“He is a robber,” said M. Mifroid.

Evidently neither a commissioner of police nor a robber was known among
the Talfa, and soon the news spread that the two strangers had unknown
trades, and a great crowd gathered, who begged them to show them what
they did on earth.

M. Mifroid sent to fetch Théophraste.



CHAPTER XXXVI

_A Robber is Caught_


|WHEN Théophraste was brought up to M. Mifroid, he was in a pitiful
condition. He had given himself up to the worst debauchery, and was
still under the influence of his excesses.

However, M. Mifroid explained to him what was required of him. He had to
demonstrate to the Talfa people the duties of a police commissioner, and
Théophraste was to act the robber and be arrested. However, owing to
Théophraste’s condition, M. Mifroid had his misgivings as to the
result of this practical demonstration.

The crowd by this time had assumed enormous proportions, and by special
permission an electric lamp was lit. All present held their noses as if
the lamp smelled.

Then M. Mifroid instructed Théophraste. He told him to run into a store
and take some things, and run out. This was an easy matter, as none of
the stores had doors, and Théophraste commenced to act the robber.
He ran into a hatter’s and seized all sorts of rat-skin caps. He
instinctively put them under his coat, and hid them about his person,
looking furtively around him in a most natural way.

All this time the people around the store looked on noiselessly. No one
said anything and not the least sign of surprise was shown. One man at
length said: “Look at that fellow providing himself with hats for
a year. It was then that M. Mifroid came upon the scene, and seizing
Théophraste by the arm, said in his most official tone: “In the name
of the law, I arrest you!”

This did not produce the desired effect, as the people still preserved
their dumbness, and did not appear at all impressed.

Mlle. de Coucy asked M. Mifroid what he meant by “In the name of the
law.” But as the Talfa people had no law, he found it difficult to
explain.

He told her how the police was an institution to protect the person and
property of peaceable citizens. They were the guardians of the law. He,
however, could not make them understand, as they thought Théophraste
had a right to the hats.

Lady de Montfort explained that they had no need of laws to protect the
state, as they had no state, nor the property, as they had no property,
and as individuals never conflicted no law was necessary to protect
persons. All the Talfa people did was to hunt for their food and make
clothing from the skins of rats. Marriage to them was a prehistoric
institution which appeared unworthy of the human state. They only half
believed its existence as a sacred legend. Their unions were of a very
liberal nature, and did not require any ceremony or oath. Consequently
they lived together peacefully and happily.

A curious feature of these Talfa people was the entire absence of any
code of morals. There was no difference made between a virtuous woman
and one of loose habits. Everybody lived on the same footing and enjoyed
the same privileges. Things happened according to taste and temperament,
and nobody thought anything about it. Thus conflicts of passion were
reduced to a minimum. No one had rights, as no one possessed anything.

Thus lived the Talfa people. No laws, no trouble, and no police
commissioners.



CHAPTER XXXVII

_The Escape from the Catacombs_


|M. THEOPHRASTE LONGUET had by this time quite forgotten the ties
which bound him to the world above, and while M. Mifroid was abandoning
himself to the fancies of Lady de Montfort, he was indulging in excesses
of debauchery with the Talfa people.

The time came when M. Mifroid became tired of this kind of life. They
had been in the catacombs three weeks and had become acquainted with the
habits of all the Talfa people. M. Mifroid longed to get into the open
world, where people had public affairs and a properly organized society.
He felt confused, and a feeling of weariness came over him.

Théophraste was for stopping there altogether. He said he had never had
such a time before. He had been playing the tricks of Cartouche on
the Talfa people, and he felt more free in spirits than he had felt on
earth. He was so persistent In his determination to stay that M. Mifroid
decided to appeal to Mlle, de Coucy. He felt that Théophraste was a
nuisance to the Talfa, and the best way to get him out was to appeal to
the people themselves. Théophraste had even suggested putting out his
own eyes to be like these people.

Upon telling Mlle, de Coucy, however, he got a totally different answer
than he expected. She told him that the Talfa people had decided to let
them go as soon as twenty thousand people had passed their fingers over
their faces. She explained that the Talfa had forever been trying to get
into the upper world, and therefore they must all visit these men from
the coveted realms and see what they looked like before their departure.

M. Mifroid calculated that it would take some time to complete this
ceremony, and so he devised a plan by which they could deceive the
people and escape. They were never long alone, and all day and all night
fingers were feeling their faces and were thrust into their eyes, nose
or mouth. It was during these operations one night that M. Mifroid
devised his plan of escape. He would utilize his powers as a sculptor.

Obtaining some clay from the bed of the lake he modeled two masks like
those of the Talfa people with large noses and ears. Then under the
pretense of acquiescing in Théophraste’s wishes, who dreamed only of
becoming a Talfa, he put one of the masks on his face, and the other he
wore himself. The deception was perfect, and although they met several
Talfa they were not recognized, in spite of much finger feeling.

M. Mifroid took the precaution of providing himself with food, and
they both started out. Théophraste laughed with delight at the bold
deception, and in his merriment he did not realize that M. Mifroid had
led him out of the domains of the Talfa. They walked for five days.
Their eyes had by this time become accustomed to the darkness, and they
were able to make good headway. On the fifth day they came across some
human bones, and M. Mifroid uttered a prayer of thankfulness, for here
were signs of a civilized people. They were on the outskirts of the city
of Ossarium.

Théophraste had been in a very depressed state of mind since leaving
the Talfa. He had continually reproached M. Mifroid for getting him
away. Upon coming upon the first signs of human existence, M. Mifroid
drew his attention to them and declared that in a short time they would
be out in the light of day again.

Soon they came across a skull with the signs of a candle near it,
showing Catholic burial, then the gallery seemed to dip down, the ground
became wet, and they found themselves wading through mire. Water dripped
on them from crevices above, and the air became cold and damp. At last
M. Mifroid recognized a part of the gallery, and again he sent a prayer
up to heaven for his deliverance.

There was a Latin inscription cut out of the rock: “Ossa arida audite
verbum Domini,” which M. Mifroid recognized as being near an entrance
to the catacombs.

They had not proceeded far when voices were heard, and they found
themselves in a large vault. This was a very different place than
the hall of the Talfa, though. There were ordinary human beings here.
Through the whole length of the hall chairs were arranged. The place was
lit up by numerous candles enclosed in human skulls. At the end was a
kind of rotunda where evidently the musicians sat, for a large circle
of music-stands were arranged. A number of people were present getting
ready for a feast. No one took any notice of the two strangers, as it
was thought that they were invited guests, and they strolled through,
watching the proceedings. Soon the musicians began to arrive one by one,
and the people sat around making pleasantries, and passing the time away
in talk. It was half-past one.

It was indeed a curious sight. Here down among the dead, with coffins
and bones all around, had assembled a crowd to listen to music, and
to make revelry. Fifty musicians had assembled, among whom M. Mifroid
recognized many of the orchestra of the Opera House.

Soon the music started, Chopin’s “Dead March” being the first
piece. After listening for some time M. Mifroid tapped Théophraste on
the shoulder, whispering to him that it was time to go. They hurried
along, and ten minutes later they found themselves on the earth again.

They walked together for about half an hour, neither uttering a word.
They were both thinking what a wonderful experience they had gone
through. The Talfa nation, with its peculiar habits, had impressed them
wonderfully, and neither wished to disturb the other in contemplation of
it all.

Suddenly Théophraste said: “What are you waiting for, M. Mifroid? Do
you intend to arrest me?”

M. Mifroid had, in the emotion of the moment, forgotten his original
mission. He, however, had become very friendly with Théophraste in the
catacombs, in spite of his excesses, and so, now that he was confronted
with the necessity of arresting him, he said: “No, my friend, I shall
not arrest you. My mission was to arrest Cartouche, but as Cartouche
is no more, I cannot arrest him. Besides, you, M. Longuet, are my
friend.”

They then parted at the Buci Crossway.



CHAPTER XXXVII

An Old Friend


|AFTER the footsteps of M. Mifroid had died away, M. Longuet remained
standing at the street corner. A feeling of intense sadness and
loneliness had come over him. He could not decide on whether to go back
to his wife or to leave her altogether. But what would he do? If he left
her he would have no home, and he would be an outcast from the world.
He wandered for a long time through the streets, until he found himself
opposite a door in the Rue Suger. He rang the bell and a man in a blouse
and paper cap opened the door in response.

“Good-evening, Ambrose,” said Théophraste. “Are you up at this
hour? I would not have disturbed you, but many things have happened
since I last saw you.”

He had not seen him since the evening he came to ask his opinion on the
watermark on the old paper.

“Come in,” said Ambrose cordially. “Make yourself at home. How are
all the folks at home?” “I will tell you all to-morrow. What I want
now is some sound sleep. I am tired out.”

Ambrose showed him his own bed, and soon Théophraste was stretched out
and asleep.

The following day Ambrose tried to get some news from Théophraste, who,
however, observed an absolute silence, and would not be persuaded to
say a word. He was like a dumb man. He passed his time for two days in
examining words and papers, which filled his pockets, and in writing,
but always without saying a word.

One morning as he was preparing to go out, Ambrose asked him: “Where
are you going?”

“I am going to see M. Mifroid about the details of a trip we took
together, and of which you will learn when I am dead.”

“You are going to kill yourself?”

“Oh, no. There is no use in doing that. I shall die soon enough. But I
shall come to your house to die, my dear Ambrose. After going to see M.
Mifroid, I shall go to see my wife.”

“I did not dare to ask about her. Your sadness and silence made me
fear some domestic trouble. It is all so inexplicable.”

“She still loves me,” said Théophraste.

Before letting him go, Ambrose made him change his underclothes, and
lent him a clean shirt, as he said he could not see his wife decently in
the rags he was in at present.

“I will put it on,” said Théophraste, “for my own sake, as my
wife won’t see it. I’m not going near her. I shall only see her from
a distance. I only want to learn if she is happy.”



CHAPTER XXXIX

_The Final Tragedy_


|IT was nine o’clock in the evening, the season was well advanced,
and a heavy mist hung over the land. M. Longuet went up the long
drive toward the “Villa Flots de Azure.” His hand trembled as he
cautiously pushed open the little garden gate. He crossed the garden
step by step, to look around. His whole demeanor was one of evil intent.
There was a light in the parlor, and the window was half open. With
short steps Théophraste advanced, and stretching his head he peered in.

He fell back groaning. Placing his hands over his face, he tore the
white locks on his forehead. The sight had frenzied him, and he felt a
pang of agonizing jealousy go through his frame.

Marceline and Adolphe were there, locked in affectionate embrace! This
is what he had come to see! His wife no doubt was happy, but in quite a
different way from what he expected.

He sat down on the ground and wept with rage. Rising, his curiosity
forced him to get nearer and listen.

What he heard only made him worse, and he inwardly felt that he was
about to commit a great crime. However, he battled against this feeling,
and ran away from the house. Something compelled him to return!

In a state of sanguinary expectation, comparable to nothing in the
history of crimes, he again retraced his steps, found himself in the
garden again, and without waiting to look in he bounded into the parlor.

M. Lecamus and Marceline were taken aback, and both uttered a cry of
surprise. Their surprise was soon turned to terror, as Théophraste,
seizing some stout cord, ran to Adolphe, and with superhuman strength
and agility bound him hand and foot. Dragging him to the hall, he tied
him to a newel post and left him. It was all done with such lightning
speed that Adolphe hadn’t the time to resist the first attack, and he
was as a child in the ferocious grip of Théophraste.

Turning around he ran to the sitting-room, and seized an old sword that
was hanging on the wall. Marceline in her terror called to Lecamus to
mind his ears. She feared that he would undergo the same treatment
as Signor Petito. However, nothing was further from Théophraste’s
thoughts, for turning on Marceline he struck her down with one blow. Two
seconds later he was holding her head up to Adolphe, saying: “Haste
thee now to kiss these lips while they are still warm.”

Adolphe could do nothing, so he touched the lips of the dead woman, and
then fell in a faint.

Théophraste ran upstairs, and brought down from the garret an old
trunk, and in less than twenty-five minutes he had the body of Marceline
cut up and placed in it. He closed the trunk with a key, and putting
it over his shoulder he said good-by to Lecamus. However, he might
have said good-by to the door-post, for Lecamus was in a dead faint and
choking from the cords around his neck.

Théophraste and the trunk disappeared in the darkness.

That same night one could have seen a man on a barge in the Seine
discharging the contents of a trunk into the river. They could also have
heard him murmur: “My poor Marceline, my poor Marceline! It was not
your fault.”

At dawn Théophraste knocked at Ambrose’s door. Ambrose saw that
he was greatly agitated, and asked him in sympathetic tones what had
happened.

Théophraste could not reply. His tongue seemed riveted to his mouth. He
crawled to the bed, and, lying down, wept.

At last Ambrose was able to console him sufficiently to get these few
words from him: “I felt the flame of murder pass through my veins.
The impulse to kill had returned to me after centuries. The same impulse
that had made me decapitate my faithless wife, Marie Antoinette Neron,
two hundred years previously, and to throw her body into the river. I
forgive M. Lecamus. When I am dead go and look for him and tell him that
I name him my testamentary executor. I leave him all my worldly goods.
He will know what to do with the little oaken chest, in which is locked
the terrible secrets of the last months of my sad life.” Having
said these words, Théophraste raised himself on the pillow, for the
oppression increased, and he knew that the end was near. His look was
no longer of this world. His gaze was fixed on some imaginary object far
away, and in a doleful voice he said: “I have seen—I see—I turn
again toward the square ray of light.”

And he expired!


THE END





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