A Tribunal of the Inquisition

What was the meaning of this accusation? Ralph looked at Beaumagnan. He had risen, without raising himself to his full height, and sheltering himself behind his friends drew nearer and nearer to Josephine Balsamo. With her eyes fixed intently on the Baron, she paid no attention to him.

Then Ralph understood why Beaumagnan had hidden himself and the formidable trap they were laying for the young woman. If she had really tried to poison Beaumagnan, if she really believed him dead, with what a fear she would be stricken when he stepped forward in person to face her, living, ready to accuse her! If, on the other hand, she remained untroubled and Beaumagnan appeared to her as great a stranger as the others, what a proof of her innocence!

Ralph found himself extraordinarily anxious. Indeed so keenly did he desire her to succeed in foiling the plotters that he tried to find some method of conveying a warning to her.

But the Baron d’Etigues did not loose his prey; and he continued with scarcely a pause: “Then you don’t remember this crime either, do you?”

For the first time displaying a touch of impatience, she frowned at him; but she said nothing.

“Perhaps you never even knew Beaumagnan?” said the Baron, bending towards her like an examining magistrate watching for a clumsy sentence. “Come, speak up! You never knew him?”

She did not speak up; she did not speak at all. The effect of his obstinate insistence must have been to awaken her distrust, for a shadow of anxiety dimmed her smile. Like a hunted beast, she scented an ambush; and her eyes searched the shadows.

She studied Godfrey d’Etigues, then turned towards de la Vaulpalier and de Bennetot, then to the other side where Beaumagnan was standing. On the instant there was a gesture of dismay, the start of one who sees a phantom; and her eyes closed. She stretched out her hands to thrust away the terrible vision which menaced her and they heard her mutter:

“Beaumagnan! Beaumagnan!”

Was it the avowal? Was she going to weaken and confess her crime? Beaumagnan waited. With all the force of his being, so to speak, visible, with clenched fists, with the veins on his forehead swollen, with his stern face convulsed by a superhuman effort of will, he demanded that access of feebleness in which all resistance crumbles.

For a moment he thought he was succeeding. The young woman was weakening; she was yielding to her tamer. A cruel joy illuminated his face. A vain hope! Recovering from her faintness, she drew herself slowly upright. Every second restored to her a little of her serenity and little by little freed her smile; and she said with a reasonableness which appeared the very expression of the obvious truth:

“You did give me a fright, Beaumagnan! I read in the newspapers the news of your death. Why did your friends try to trick me?”

Ralph realized at once that everything that had passed up to that moment was of no importance. Now the two real adversaries found themselves face to face. Short as it must be, given the weapons of Beaumagnan and the isolation of the young woman, the real struggle was only just beginning. And this was not the cunning and sustained attack of the Baron d’Etigues. But the wild onslaught of an enemy exasperated by rage and hate.

“A lie! A lie!” he cried. “Everything in you is a lie. You are hypocrisy, vileness, treason, vice! Everything sordid and repulsive in the world is masked by your smile. Ah! That smile! What an abominable mask! One longs to tear it from you with red-hot pincers. Your smile is death! It is the everlasting damnation of the man who lets himself be charmed by it.⁠ ⁠… Heavens! What a wretch this woman is.”

The impression that Ralph had had from the beginning of being a spectator in a scene from the Inquisition, grew infinitely stronger in face of the fury of this man who hurled his anathema with all the violence of a monk of the Middle Ages. His voice trembled with indignation. His gestures were a threat, as if he were going to strangle the impious creature whose divine smile brought madness on her victim and doomed him to the fires of Hell.

“Calm yourself, Beaumagnan,” she said with an excess of gentleness that infuriated him more than if she had hurled an insult at him.

Nevertheless he struggled to restrain himself and to control the words which surged up in him. But they rushed from his mouth, storming, headlong, or muttered so faintly that his friends, whom he now addressed, had sometimes great difficulty in understanding the strange confession he was making, beating himself on the breast exactly like the penitents of the days of yore making public confession of their sins.

“It was I, I, who deliberately entered the arena after the death of d’Isneauval. Yes: I was sure that this sorceress was still raging on our trail.⁠ ⁠… That I should be stronger than the others. Safer against temptation⁠ ⁠… And I was right! You know I was right!⁠ ⁠… You all knew my intention at that time. Already dedicated to the service of the Church, I was desirous of assuming the robe of a priest. I was, then, secure from the evil, protected by formal undertakings and even more by the intense ardor of my faith. In that temper I betook myself to one of the Spiritist meetings at which I knew I should find her.

“She was there; and there was no need for the friend who had brought me, to point her out to me; and I confess that, on the very threshold of my enterprise, an obscure apprehension made me hesitate. I watched her. She spoke to few of the people present and wore an air of reserve, content seemingly to listen, smoking cigarettes.

“In accordance with my instructions my friend went and sat down beside her and entered into conversation with the persons among whom she was sitting. Then from a distance he called me by my name; and I saw from her troubled look, without any possibility of being mistaken, that she knew that name. She had read it in the pocketbook stolen from Denis Saint-Hébert. Beaumagnan was one of the twelve associates.⁠ ⁠… One of the ten survivors. And this woman who appeared to live in a kind of dream, suddenly awoke. A little while after she spoke to me. For two hours she displayed all the charm of her spirit, she used every weapon that beauty gives a woman, and in the end induced me to promise that I would go to see her the next day.

“At that instant, at the very second at which I left her, that night, at the door of her house, I ought to have fled to the end of the world. It was already too late. There was no longer in me either courage, or will, or foresight, nothing but the insane desire to see her again. It is true that I disguised this desire in fine phrases: I was accomplishing a duty.⁠ ⁠… It was necessary to know the enemy’s game, to bring home her crimes to her and punish her for them, and so forth.⁠ ⁠… Mere pretexts! In reality at the first assault I had fallen a victim to her fascination; at the first assault I was convinced of her innocence. A smile such as that was clear evidence of a soul of crystal purity.

“Neither the sacred memory of Saint-Hébert, nor that of my poor d’Isneauval cleared my vision. I would not see. I lived for some months in obscurity, tasting the most infamous joys, without even a blush at being an object of reproach and scandal, at renouncing my vows and denying my faith.

“Inconceivable sins in a man like me, I swear it, friends. Nevertheless I committed another which per haps surpasses them all. I was a traitor to our cause. I broke that vow of silence which we took when we formed our union for that common end. This woman knows as much of the great secret as we know ourselves.

At these words a murmur of indignation ran round the room. Beaumagnan bent his head.

Now Ralph understood better the drama which was unfolding before him; and the characters who were playing their parts in it assumed their right proportion. Country squires, rustics, bumpkins? Yes⁠—without a doubt. But Beaumagnan was there⁠—Beaumagnan who inspired them with his own spirit and filled them with his exaltation. In the middle of these vulgar lives and these absurd figures he stood forth the prophet and the seer. He had forced on them as a duty some conspirator’s task to which he had devoted himself body and soul, as in the old days one devoted oneself to God, and left one’s castle to go on a crusade.

Mystic passions of this kind transform those in whom they burn into heroes or executioners. In Beaumagnan there was a veritable inquisitor. In the fifteenth century he would have persecuted and mangled to tear from the impious the confession of faith.

He had the instinct of domination and the bearing of a man for whom no obstacle exists. Did a woman rise between him and his end? Let her die. If he loved this woman, a public confession absolved him. And those who listened to him succumbed to the ascendancy of this hard master all the more easily because his hardness appeared to be directed quite as much against himself.

Humiliated by the confession of his fall, he was no longer angry; and he continued in a dull voice:

“Why did I fail? I do not know. A man like me ought not to fail. I have not even the excuse of being able to say that she questioned me. She did not. She often talked about the four enigmas mentioned by Cagliostro; and one day almost without knowing what I was doing, I spoke the irreparable words⁠ ⁠… like a wretched weakling⁠ ⁠… just to make myself agreeable⁠ ⁠… just to seem important to her eyes⁠ ⁠… that her smile might grow more tender. I said to myself: ‘She shall be our ally⁠ ⁠… She shall help us with her counsel, with her clearsightedness, refined and heightened by years of practice of divination. I was mad. The intoxication of sin had set my reason tottering.

“The awakening was terrible. About three weeks ago I had to go to Spain on a mission. I said goodbye to her in the morning. In the afternoon, towards three o’clock, having an appointment in the center of Paris I left the set of rooms in which I was living in the Luxembourg. Then it chanced that, having forgotten to give some orders to my man, I returned to my rooms through the courtyard and up the servants’ staircase. My man had gone out and left the kitchen door open. As I came through it, I heard a noise. I went forward quietly. There was someone in my bedroom. It was this woman. I had a good view of her in the looking glass. What was she doing, bending over my trunk? I watched. She opened a small cardboard box which contained the cachets which I take when I’m traveling, to cure my insomnia. She took out one of these cachets and in its place she put another, a cachet which she took from her purse.

“My emotion was so great that I never even dreamt of seizing her. When I grew composed enough to enter the room, she had gone. I could not overtake her.

“I hurried to a chemist and had the cachets analyzed. One of them contained poison enough to destroy me.

“So I had the irrefutable proof. Having been so imprudent as to tell her everything I knew about the secret, I had been condemned. It was just as well, was it not, to clear out of her path a useless witness and an associate who might one day or other take his share of the spoils, or, it might be, reveal the truth, attack the enemy, and vanquish her. Death then. Death⁠—as for Denis Saint-Hébert and George d’Isneauval. A stupid murder for no sufficient reason.

“I wrote from Spain to one of my friends. Some days afterwards certain newspapers announced the death of a Frenchman named Beaumagnan at Madrid.

“From that time I lived in the shadow and followed her step by step. She betook herself first to Rouen, then to Le Havre, then to Dieppe, that is to say to the very places which bound the scene of our researches. From what I had told her she knew that we were on the point of ransacking an ancient Priory in the neighborhood of Dieppe. She spent the whole of a day there, and profiting by the fact that the building had been abandoned, searched it. Then I lost sight of her. I found her at Rouen. You have heard what followed, from d’Etigues. How the trap was laid and how she fell into it, attracted by the bait of this Candlestick with Seven Branches, which, as she believed, a peasant had unearthed.

“Such is the character of this woman. You realize the reasons which prevent us from handing her over to the law. The scandal of the proceedings would reflect on us, and throwing the full light of day on to our enterprises, would render them impossible. Our duty, however dreadful it may appear, is to judge her ourselves, without hatred, but with all the severity that she deserves.”

Beaumagnan was silent. He had ended his indictment with a seriousness more dangerous to the accused than his anger. She appeared undoubtedly guilty, almost a monster in this series of useless murders. For his part, Ralph d’Andresy no longer knew what to think; but he cursed in his heart this man who had loved the young woman and who had just recalled, trembling with emotion, that sacrilegious love.

The Countess of Cagliostro rose and looked her adversary full in the face, always with a faintly mocking air.

“I was quite right,” she said. “It is the stake?”

“That will be according as we decide,” he said. “Nothing at any rate can prevent the execution of our just sentence.”

“A sentence? By what right?” said she. “There are judges for that. You are not judges. You talk about the fear of scandal. What does it matter to me that you need darkness and silence for your schemes? Set me free.”

“Free? Free to continue your work of death? You are in our power. You will suffer our sentence,” he said sternly.

“Your sentence for what? If there were a single judge among you, a single man who had any sense of reason and probability, he would laugh at your stupid charges and your unconnected proofs.”

“Words! Phrases!” he cried. “What we want are proofs to the contrary.⁠ ⁠… Something to disprove the evidence that my eyes gave me.”

“What use would it be to defend myself? You have made up your minds.”

“We have made them up because you are guilty.”

“Guilty of pursuing the same end as you; yes, that I admit. And that is the reason why you committed that shameful action of coming to spy upon me and play that comedy of love. If you were caught by your own snare, all the worse for you. If you have revealed to me facts about the enigma, of which I already knew the existence from the document of Cagliostro, all the worse for you! Now it is an obsession with me; and I have sworn to attain that end, whatever happens, in spite of you. That and that only is my crime⁠—in your eyes.”

“Your crime is murder,” asserted Beaumagnan, who was again losing his temper.

“I have not murdered anyone,” she said firmly.

“You pushed Saint-Hébert over the cliff; you fractured d’Isneauval’s skull.”

“Saint-Hébert? D’Isneauval? I never knew them. I hear their names for the first time today,” she protested.

“And me! And me!” he exclaimed violently. “Didn’t you know me? Didn’t you try to poison me?”


He lost his temper utterly and in an access of fury he roared: “But I saw you, Josephine Balsamo! I saw you as clearly as I see you now! While you were putting that poison in the box, I saw your smile grow ferocious and the corners of your lips rise in the grin of the damned!”

She shook her head and said firmly:

“It was not I.”

He appeared to choke. How dared she say such a thing?

But quite coolly she laid her hand on his shoulder and said quietly:

“Hate is making you lose your wits, Beaumagnan. Your fanatical soul is in a wild revolt against the sin of love. However, in spite of that, I suppose you’ll allow me to defend myself?”

“It is your right, but be quick about it,” he said less loudly, but coldly.

“It won’t take long. Ask your friends for the miniature, painted in 1816, of the Countess of Cagliostro.”

Beaumagnan obeyed and took the miniature from the hands of the Baron.

“Good. Look at it carefully,” she went on. “It is my portrait, isn’t it?”

“What are you driving at?” he said.

“Answer. Is it my portrait?” she said impatiently.

“Yes,” he said with decision.

“Then if that is my portrait it means that I was alive at that time? It is eighty years ago; and from that portrait I was then twenty-five or thirty? Consider carefully before answering. What! In the face of such a miracle you hesitate, do you? You dare not assert that it is a fact; now, dare you?”

She paused, gazing at him with compelling eyes; then she continued:

“But there is more to come. Open the frame of this miniature, the back of it, and you will find on the other side of the porcelain, another portrait. The portrait of a smiling woman, wearing a veil, an almost invisible veil, which descends as far as her eyebrows, and through which you can see her hair parted into two waving rolls. It is me again, isn’t it?”

While Beaumagnan carried out her instructions she had put on a light veil of tulle, the bottom of which touched the line of her eyebrows; and she lowered her eyes with an expression of charming reserve.

Beaumagnan compared her face with the portrait and stammered: “B-B-B-But it is you! It is!”

“Is there any doubt about it?”

“Not the slightest. It is you,” he declared.

“Well, read the date on the right side of it.”

Beaumagnan read out: “Painted at Milan in the year 1498.”

She repeated: “In 1498⁠—that’s four hundred years ago?”

She laughed outright, a clear, ringing laugh.

“Don’t look so astonished,” she said. “I have known of the existence of this double portrait for a long time, and I have been hunting for it. But you may take it from me that there is no miracle about it. I am not going to try to persuade you that I was that painter’s model and that I am four hundred years old. No: that is merely the face of the Virgin Mary; and it is a copy of a fragment of the Holy Family of Bernadino Luini, a Milanese painter and a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci.”

Then, with a sudden gravity, and without giving her adversary time to breathe, she said to him: “You understand now what I am driving at, don’t you, Beaumagnan? Between the Virgin of Luini, the young girl of Moscow and myself, there is that elusive, marvellous, and yet undeniable bond, a likeness⁠—an absolute likeness.⁠ ⁠… Three faces in one. Three faces which are not those of three different women, but which are the face of the same woman. Then why do you refuse to admit that the same phenomenon, after all a perfectly natural phenomenon, should not reproduce itself in other circumstances, and that the woman whom you saw in your bedroom was not me, but another woman who resembles me so closely as to deceive you. Another woman who knew and murdered your friends Saint-Hébert and d’Isneauval?”

“I saw.⁠ ⁠… I saw!” protested Beaumagnan, who had come so close to her that he almost touched her, and he drew himself up, pale as death and quivering with indignation. “I saw! I saw with my eyes!”

“Your eyes also see the portrait of twenty-five years ago and the miniature of eighty years ago, and the picture of four hundred years ago. Is that me too?”

She presented to Beaumagnan’s gaze her young face in all its fresh beauty, that perfect row of white teeth, her delicately tinted, rounded cheeks, her clear and limpid child’s eyes.

Weakening, he stammered: “T-T-There are moments, sorceress, when I b-b-believe in this absurdity. With you one never knows! Look: the woman of the miniature has, low down on her bare shoulders, on the white skin of her bosom, a black mark. That mark, it is there, low down on your shoulder.⁠ ⁠… I have seen it there.⁠ ⁠… Come.⁠ ⁠… Show it to the others and let them see it too and be edified!”

He was livid and the sweat was trickling down his forehead. He stretched out his hand towards her high necked bodice. But she thrust it back, and speaking with considerable dignity, she said:

“That’s enough, Beaumagnan. You don’t know what you’re doing and you haven’t known for months. Listening to you just now I was simply amazed, for you spoke of me as having been your mistress, and I haven’t been your mistress at all. It’s all very fine to beat your bosom in public, but it is also necessary that the confession should be the truth. You hadn’t the courage to tell the truth. The demon of pride forbade you to admit the humiliating check you received; and like a coward, you have let them believe in a thing that never happened. During the months you were crawling at my feet you entreated and threatened without your lips having ever once brushed my hand. That’s the secret of your behavior and your hate.

“Failing to move me, you tried to destroy me and for your friends you painted a frightful picture of me as criminal, spy, and sorceress. Yes, as sorceress! A man like you, to use your own words, could not fail; and if you did fail, it could have been brought about by the action of diabolical witchcraft. No, Beaumagnan: you no longer know what you are doing, or what you are saying. You saw me in your bedroom substituting the cachet which was to poison you, did you? Come now, by what right do you invoke the testimony of your eyes? Your eyes? But they were obsessed by my image; and that other woman showed you a face which was not her own, but mine, and you could not help seeing it. Yes, Beaumagnan: I repeat it, the other woman.⁠ ⁠… There is another woman on the path we are all of us following.⁠ ⁠… There’s another woman who has inherited certain documents from Cagliostro and who also uses the names that he assumed. Marquise de Belmonte, Countess de F.⁠ ⁠… look for her, Beaumagnan. For she it was whom you saw; and it is really upon the stupidest hallucination of a deranged brain that you have reared this structure of so many lying accusations against me. In fact all this business is merely a childish farce; and I was quite right to remain unmoved in the midst of you all, as an innocent woman in the first place, and in the second place as a woman who was in no danger. In spite of your airs of judges and torturers and in spite of the enormous personal interest each of you has in success of your common enterprise, you are at bottom honorable men who would never dare to murder me. You would perhaps, Beaumagnan; because you’re a fanatic who lives in terror of me. But you would have to find here executioners capable of obeying you. And there are none here. Then what are you going to do? Imprison me? Shut me up in some out-of-the-way corner. If that amuses you, do so. But you may make up your minds that there is no cell from which I cannot escape as easily as you can leave the room. So go now: judge me and sentence me. For my part, I am not going to say another word.”

She sat down, pushed up her veil, and setting her elbow on the arm of the bench, rested her face on her hand. She had played her part. She had spoken without any vehemence but with a profound conviction, and in a few sentences, of a really irrefutable logic, she had connected the accusation brought against her with this inexplicable legend of longevity which was the keynote of the affair.

In effect she had said: “It all holds together; and you yourselves have been obliged to base your indictment on the story of my adventures in the past. You had to start it with the narration of events which go back a hundred years, to come to the criminal actions of today. If I am mixed up in the latter it is because I was the heroine of the former. If I am the woman you saw, I am also the woman that my different portraits show you.”

What were they to answer?

Beaumagnan was silent. The duel was ending in his defeat; and he did not try to disguise it. Besides his friends no longer had the implacable and harassed faces of men who find themselves forced to the terrible decision of death. Doubt was stirring in them; Ralph d’Andresy was distinctly conscious of it and he would have derived some hope from it, if the memory of the preparations which Godfrey d’Etigues and de Bennetot had made, had not lessened his satisfaction. Beaumagnan and the Baron conversed in low voices for a few moments; then Beaumagnan made his answer in the manner of a man for whom the discussion was closed.

“You have before you, my friends, all the facts of the case,” he began. “The prosecution and the defense have said their last word. You have seen with what genuine conviction Godfrey d’Etigues and myself brought these charges against this woman and with what subtlety she defended herself, entrenching herself behind an inadmissible resemblance and so giving a striking example of her resourcefulness and her infernal cunning. The situation then is quite simple: an opponent of this strength of will and intelligence and disposing of such resources, will never let us rest. Our task is compromised. One after the other she will destroy us. Her existence implies inevitably our ruin and destruction.

“Does that mean that there is no other solution but death and that the punishment she deserves is the only one that we can consider? It does not. Let her disappear, let her be unable to make any fresh attempt. We have no right to demand more; and if our consciences revolt against such an indulgent solution, nevertheless we ought to be content with it because, when all is said and done, we are not here to punish, but to defend ourselves. These then are the arrangements we have made, subject to your approval. Tonight an English ship will be cruising off the coast. A boat will be lowered from it, and we shall row out to it and meet it at ten o’clock at the foot of the Needle of Belval. We shall hand over this woman; she will be taken to London, set ashore during the night, and shut up in a madhouse until our task is accomplished. I do not think that any of you will oppose this arrangement, which is not only generous and humane but also makes our task safe and ourselves secure against perils we should never escape.”

Ralph perceived at once Beaumagnan’s game and he thought to himself: “That means death. There is no English ship. There are two boats, of which one with a hole in its bottom will be towed out to sea and sink. The Countess of Cagliostro will disappear without anyone ever knowing what has become of her.”

The duplicity of the scheme and the deceitful fashion in which it had been set forth frightened him. Why should not the friends of Beaumagnan agree to it when they were not even asked to answer in the affirmative? Their silence sufficed. Let none of them make any objection to it and Beaumagnan was free to act through his intermediary, Godfrey d’Etigues. None of them did raise any objection. Without knowing it they had pronounced sentence of death.

They all rose to go, manifestly delighted to have got out of the business so cheaply. No one made any comment. They had the air of leaving a gathering of friends at which they had discussed matters of no moment. Some of them moreover had to catch a train at the neighboring station. At the end of a couple of minutes they had all of them gone except Beaumagnan and the two cousins. So it came about in a fashion which Ralph found disconcerting that this dramatic meeting in which a woman’s life had been dealt with in such an arbitrary manner and her death sentence obtained by so odious a subterfuge, came to a sudden end, like a play the dénouement of which is brought about before the logical moment, like a trial in which sentence is pronounced in the middle of the evidence.

This disingenuous juggling revealed to Ralph d’Andresy the subtle and crafty nature of Beaumagnan with entire clearness. Inexorable and a fanatic, ravaged by love and pride, the man had decided on death. But there were in him scruples, cowardly hypocrisies, confused fears, which obliged him, so to speak, to hide himself from his own conscience and perhaps also from the eyes of justice. Hence this dark solution of the difficulty, this free hand obtained by this abominable trick. Now, standing on the threshold, he was gazing at the woman who was about to die. Livid and scowling, the muscles of his jaw twitching nervously, his arms crossed, he had as usual the rather theatrical air of a romantic personage. His brain must be teeming with tumultuous thoughts. Was he hesitating at the last moment?

In any case his reflections did not last long. He gripped Godfrey d’Etigues by the shoulder and drew him over the threshold, flinging this order over his shoulder to de Bennetot as he went out: “Guard her! And no nonsense! Understand? If there is⁠—”

During the departure of the conspirators and then of their leaders the Countess of Cagliostro did not stir; and her face preserved that thoughtful and serene expression which was so little in keeping with the situation.

“Assuredly she has no suspicion of the danger that threatens her,” Ralph said to himself. “All that she is looking forward to is confinement in a madhouse, and she is not worrying at all about the prospect of that.”

An hour passed; the shades of evening began to darken the chamber. Twice the young woman looked at her watch. Then she tried to enter into conversation with de Bennetot, and of a sudden her face assumed an expression of incredible fascination and her voice inflections that moved one like a caress.

De Bennetot grunted boorishly and did not answer.

Another half-hour passed; she looked round and then gazed at the open door. It was quite clear that she had made up her mind that flight was possible, that she was drawing herself together to spring for the door. For his part, Ralph was trying to find some method of helping her in the effort. If he had had a revolver he would have made no bones about dropping de Bennetot. He thought for a moment of jumping down into the chamber; but the opening of his post of observation was too narrow. Besides some instinct seemed to awake de Bennetot to the danger and he pulled out his revolver, growling:

“A movement, a single movement, and I shoot. By God, I will!”

He was a man to keep that oath. She did not stir.

Ralph, in a growing, torturing anxiety for her, gazed at her untiringly.

Towards seven o’clock Godfrey d’Etigues returned, carrying a traveling rug over his arm.

He lit a lamp and said to Oscar de Bennetot: “Get everything ready. Go and fetch the stretcher. It’s in the coach-house. Then you can go and get some dinner.”

When he was alone with the young woman the Baron appeared to hesitate. Ralph saw that his face was haggard, his eyes wild, and that he was on the point of speech or action. But the words or the acts must have been of a kind from which one shrinks, for he was for sometime restless and fidgeting. Then his opening was brutal.

“Pray to God, Madam,” he said suddenly.

She replied in a puzzled tone: “Pray to God? Why are you telling me to do that?”

Then he said in a very low voice: “Do as you like.⁠ ⁠… Only I must warn you⁠—”

“Warn me of what?” she asked gazing at him in a sudden anxiety.

“There are moments,” he murmured, “when one ought to pray to God as if one was about to die that very night.”

She was stricken with a sudden panic. The facts of the situation suddenly flashed on her. Her arms seemed to stiffen and she clasped her hands in a kind of feverish convulsion.

“Die?⁠ ⁠… Die?⁠ ⁠… But there is no question of that, is there?⁠ ⁠… Beaumagnan never spoke of death.⁠ ⁠… He spoke of a madhouse.”

He did not answer.

The unfortunate woman murmured:

“Heavens! He has deceived me. The madhouse was a lie.⁠ ⁠… It’s something else.⁠ ⁠… You’re going to throw me into the sea. At night.⁠ ⁠… It’s horrible! But it isn’t possible.⁠ ⁠… Me die⁠—me?⁠ ⁠… Help!⁠ ⁠… Help!”

Godfrey d’Etigues caught up the traveling rug and with a furious brutality he covered the young woman’s head with it and pressed his hand over her mouth to smother her cries. As he was doing so, de Bennetot returned carrying the stretcher on his shoulder. The two of them stretched her out on it and tied her down securely and in such a way, that through an opening between the slats, there hung down the iron ring to which a heavy boulder was to be fastened.