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serpents, cornets, and other brass instruments, into their green baize receptacles. Garçons, like so many excited black beetles, were flying hither and thither, clearing away the small refreshment-tables, and extinguishing the many-colored lights that twinkled like a swarm of fireflies amid the dark foliage of the trees and shrubbery. Overhead, the large yellow stars shone out from the background of a deep, blue, cloudless firmament. The air was redolent with the odors of fragrant flowers and exotics. Down the broad, white path leading from the dancingpagoda, still ablaze with its flaring gaslights, a noisy crowd of men and women were hurrying toward the entrance-gate, which, crowned with its double arch of gaudy Chinese-lanterns, was visible at the further end of the avenue. A noisy crowd indeed 1 Noisy with the silvery laughter, the rustle of silken skirts, the gay chatter of female voices and the deep tones of the men chanting the refrain of the last popular Parisian aria, or replying with ready repartee to the lively sallies of their gay companions. Noisy with that gayety and animation so purely French. A vivacity born of their careless and pleasure-loving, Latin natures, harmonious with the seductions of Strauss, and the wild, reckless abandon of Offenbach and Lecocq. It had been a fête en masque, given in honor of the recent arrival at Abois of a crack cavalry corps; and the scarlet dolmans, and richly-braided blue uniforms, the glittering tinsel and waving plumes of the Hussars, assorted well with the bright-colored silks and quaint bizarre costumes of the maskers. Amid this scene of color and brightness were visible here and there, like stranded wrecks upon a Summer ocean, some miserable men in the ungraceful uniform of civil life, made doubly hideous by their brilliant surroundings. All was merriment, joy, and animation. They pushed and jostled each other in the struggle toward the gate; the women jestingly chiding some too pressing neighbor, the men shouting and laughing at these reproofs, and all hastening onward toward the entrance. Suddenly, upon this scene of mirth and gayety, like a flash of lightning across the darkness of a midnight sky, came a terrible interruption. A loud cry ! then a single word in tones of the most intense terror. A single word, but one which, coming suddenly in the darkness of the night, paralyzed for a time the courage of the bravest, chilled the warm life-blood in the veins of the most enterprising and daring, and rooted the gay and brilliant throng where they stood, mute and silent with horror and suspense. Murder For several moments not a movement was made to ascertain the cause of this sudden alarm. All seemed crushed and stunned by this ghastly interruption to the gayety and merriment. A second cry, louder than the first. A second repetition of that terrible word; and now, by quick revulsion of feeling, presence of mind returns to the petrified listeners, and with one accord they surge in the direction from which the cry appearel to proceed. Men and women, pushing, hustling, and jostling each other, pellmell, in their eager desire to gratify the curiosity which had now taken the place of all other emotions ! Breaking through hedges of shrubbery, ruthlessly trampling down beds of rare flowers, the eager throng pressed on. The search was not a long one ; the fleetest foot among the crowd soon reached a sidewalk, into which they turned just as the third repetition of the cry broke
the stillness of the night. Another moment, and they had gained a small summer-house or arbor thickly overgrown with climbing vines. Near the door a man, whose costume at once indicated him to be a garçon, or waiter, was wildly wringing his hands, his pale face betraying evidences of the most intense excitement. “What is the matter?” cried a dozen voices. The man made no other reply except to point to the interior of the arbor, and wring his hands and gesticulate as if entirely overcome with terror. Rushing past this man, from whom it was evident no further information was to be obtained, a number of the gentlemen made their way into the arbor and eagerly looked around them. The sight that first met their eyes was one not calculated to arouse much alarm in their breasts. A couple of rustic benches, placed on each side of a small table, was the only furniture of the summer-house, which was dimly lighted by a single gas-jet. Upon one of these benches a man was seated, his arms reclining upon the table and his head buried in his hands. The figure was mute and motionless. On the table were a number of champagne-bottles and glasses. This was the first sight that met the eye of those that entered the arbor, and seemed innocent enough. But when one, more enterprising than the rest, laid his hand upon the reclining form and lifted it to an erect position, a shudder of horror ran through the spectators. The sight now presented was ghastly in the extreme. The face was that of a man past middle age, broad, coarse and sensual, with gray hair, bushy side whiskers and mustache. The pallor of death was imprinted upon every feature. The eyes were wide open, staring and glassy. The lower jaw had fallen, the lips were parted ; indeed, the whole countenance was stamped with an expression of overpowering fear, and, more terrible still, upon the livid white forehead were two gashes made by some sharp instrument, forming a scarlet cross from which the blood still trickled. For some moments no one could speak. All seemed fascinated by the dreadful spectacle. The crowd choked up the doorway, and gazed with pale faces and quivering lips, powerless to reply to the questions of the less favored ones in the rear, who were unable to obtain a sight of the interior, and who eagerly demanded the cause of the disturbance. At length the spell was broken. A man pushed his way through the crowd and entered the arbor. His uniform at once showed him to be a member of the police force, and some of the gentlemen recognized him as the Brigadier of the Gendarmerie of Abois. No sooner did his eyes fall upon the face of the dead man than he uttered a loud exclamation : “Grand Dieu !” he cried. “It is Monsieur Marrois I" This exclamation seemed to break the charm which inthralled the spectators. In a moment there was a perfect Babel of voices, questioning, answering, hazarding a thousand wild conjectures and explanations, quarreling and fighting for a sight of the awful scene. Pushing and shouting to gratify their curiosity, now redoubled in the breast of every one by the information, which ran like lightning through the crowd, “that a man had been murdered, and that that man was Pierre Marrois.” Several gendarmes now made their appearance; at once an order was given from their superior to disperse the crowd. A task at first not easy to accomplish. However, at length finding it impossible to obtain any further
information from the officers, whose only reply to the reiterated question of the curious was the formula, “Circulez, s'il vous plait, mesdames et messieurs. Circulez, s'il vous plait,” the throng of men and women began to break away; at first in twos and threes, until finally, like a flock of sheep which had received an impetus in a certain direction, the crowd leit the arbor.
In the little arbor, the scene of the tragedy, there remained the Brigadier of Gendarmes, and three gentlemen who had been the first to arrive at the time of the alarm, and who had been requested to remain to give their testimony as to what they had seen. At this moment a gentleman, accompanied by one of the gendarmes, came hastily up the walk, and entering the arbor, addressed himself to the brigadier in a manner that plainly indicated him to be one having authority. “What is this they tell me, Jean 2" he cried. “Pierre Marrois murdered ?” “Alas ! monsieur, it is too true,” replied the brigadier, who had been interrupted in his examination of the body by the arrival of the newcomer. “Mon Dieu !” exclaimed the gentleman, as his eyes fell for the first time on the ghastly spectacle presented by the murdered man's face. “Mon Dieu / this is horrible !” “And the strangest part of it, monsieur,” said the brigadier, with a grave voice, and with an air of evident perplexity, “is the fact that, with the exception of those gashes on the forehead, I can find no other wound upon the body, although I have searched as closely as possible.” “I should say,” broke in one of the three gentlemen, a handsome young man, in the costume of Polichinelle, “I should say that Marrois died of fright, if we are to judge from his face; for never in my life did I see overpowering terror more plainly depicted.” “Monsieur Lejeune,” said the first speaker, with a tone of reproof, “fear seldom kills, and especially a man like Marrois. That wound on the forehead—” “Is nothing,” said one of the gentlemen. “It is only a flesh-cut, and never could have been the cause of death. If the brigadier is correct, and there are no other wounds on the person, I should say that this man had died by—poison.” “Monsieur is, perhaps, a doctor 2 Might I ask his name 2" inquired the gentleman whose questions had led to this dialogue. “Your name, if you please, sir.” “Monsieur has undoubtedly the right to question me,” replied the person addressed, drawing himself up, as if somewhat offended at the abruptness of his interlocutor. “You are right, sir; I am the Mayor of Abois.” “Excuse me, Monsieur le Maire,” said the gentleman, a tall, slender man, dressed in evening costume. “My name is Aristide Wis. I am not a doctor ; but I do not think one needs to be a medical man to know that death could not have ensued from those cuts upon the forehead, and if there are no others, why then—" “Yes, yes,” interrupted the mayor; “I see. But, now tell me, Jean,” he continued, turning to the brigadier, “tell us all you know about this affair.” “Very little more, Monsieur le Maire, than your own eyes can tell you. But these gentlemen, who arrived at the arbor in advance of me, are probably better furnished with information.” “Masoi 1" said the young masker who had been addressed as Lejeune, “all that there is to tell is of the
simplest. Monsieur and I” (and here he pointed to the tall gentleman who had given his name as Aristide Wis), “monsieur and I were, I think, the first to reach this spot. What did we find 2 One of the garçons dancing up and down, like a madman, and so terrified as to be utterly unable to speak. Seeing which, monsieur and I entered this place, and found, ma foi / what you see before you. I think that is all there is to tell,” and the young man looked interrogatively at the till gentleman, who replied with an affirmative motion of the head. “Did you see the garçon, Jean 2 Which one of the men was it 2" “I did not see him, Monsieur le Maire,” replied the brigadier. “But I did,” cried Lejeune. It is Antoine Sachard.” “Where is he now?” the mayor looked inquiringly toward the gendarmes. But it was Lejeune who replied. “The poor fellow was so frightened that I should not wonder if he had run home to his wife for protection. He—” “Go, Jean, and find the man at once, and bring him here,” said the mayor, breaking in upon the young man. And as the brigadier turned to leave, he continued, addressing himself to these gentlemen: “You, messieurs, will be kind enough to give me your addresses, and can then retire.” This formality having been complied with, the gentlemen were leaving the arbor, when Lejeune bent down and picked up a small object which lay on the ground. half way between the unoccupied bench and the door, Tossing it upon the table, he said, with a laugh: “Pardieu / Papa Marrois has been at his old tricks again, and this time the Siren has sung him to sleep with a vengeance. Adieu, and au revoir, Monsieur le Maire.” And paying no attention to the look of grave reproval with which the official replied to his ill-timed levity, the young man ran away in pursuit of the brigadier. The other two were following his example, when the mayor laid his hand on the shoulder of Aristide Wis, and begged him to remain. The two gentlemen were soon left alone, and the mayor, who ever since his arrival had given evidence of some very strong emotion, which he succeeded in concealing only by a very powerful effort, now said, abruptly : “You must excuse me, monsieur, for asking you to remain ; but you will understand me when I tell you that I am entirely unnerved by this horrible occurrence. You are, it is true, a stranger to me, but I can see you are a man of intelligence and courage, and I really need some one to support me.” “I am entirely at your servicë, Monsieur le Maire ; if I am to be of the slightest assistance, you can certainly count upon me to the best of my poor abilities.” The mayor drew a long breath, and sinking down upon the bench opposite the murdered man, hid his pallid face in his hands and remained for some moments silent. When he again raised his head his eyes fell upon the object which Lejeune had thrown upon the table. It was a gray kid glove. Its shape indicated that its owner was a woman. “What is this 2" he cried. come from ?” “The young gentleman whom you called Lejeune found it lying there near the door.” “Dropped, I suppose, by one of the crowd " “I think not, monsieur; I am certain no woman,
“I know the man well.
“Where did this glove
entered the arbor. And I noticed, when the glove was, whether he had discovered anything further. The man picked up, that it lay very close to the bench upon which replied in the negative. Dropping his face in his hands, you are sitting. I am inclined to think that Monsieur the mayor again relapsed into silence—a silence for some Lejeune's last words are true. I think the person who time unbroken and uninterrupted. occupied that seat, on which you are now seated, was a woman-and if one is to judge by the shape of the hand, I siould say a very pretty one." And, whilst speaking,
CHAPTER III. Aristide Vis took up the little gray kid glove, and exam- ! WHILE the Mayor of Abois remained silent, evidently ined it witu evident admiration.
lost in the gloomiest of thoughts, struggling with emoBut monsieur,” criel the mayor', "do you mean to tions which he seemed to find great difficulty in repressinsinuate that this terrible crime was committed by a | ing, the brigadier, respectfully considerate for the feelings woman ?"
of his official superior, stood stiff and rigid, a fine ex“Oh, no, I will never believe it; the idea is too repul. ample of obedience and discipline. sive. And, then, those fearful marks. Would you have | In the meantime Aristide Vis had again picked up the me believe that any womau could have thus disfigured glove, and now he, too, was silent ; lost in admiring conher victim ?"
templation. A soft, tender expression stole over his face “See here, Vonsieur le Maire," replied Vis, “what do as he smoothed, with caressing touches, the delicate kid, you make of this ?" und pointing to the slender tapering and breathing gently into the glove, forced it to assume fingers of the glove, he made the mavor observe several | the shape im printed on it by the beautiful hand it had dark-red spots upon the delicate gray kid.
once incased. “ Mon Dieu ! blood upon that glove ?"
The look of softnes and tenderness deepened upon his "As you say, monsieur,” replied Aristide.
face, as, raising the slender trifle, he inhaled the perfume “ Oh, horrible !" groaned the mayor, again burying his with which it was scented. face in his hands.
A far away expression came into his eyes ; pleasant Footsteps were now heard approaching the spot, cod memories of the past rose up within him. in another moment the brigadier of the gendarmes en The next moment, by a sudden revulsion of feeling, tho tered, followed by a pale-faced, terrified man, whose cos- / expression of his face changed to a look of self-contempt tume showed him to be one of the waiters of the garden and disgust, and flinging the tiny glove from him with an
Recovering himself, with an effort, from his previous exertion of force entirely disproportionate to such a fraemotion, the mayor turned his attention to the new-gile object, he turned toward the body of the murdered comer.
man, and began a close investigation of the pallid and “ So this is Antoine Sachard ?” he inquired.
hideous countenance. “Yes, y.e-s, M'sieu l-e M-a-i-r-e,” stammered the ter. He had been absorbed in this task for some moments, rified garçon, with difficulty forcing his trembling lips when suddenly he uttered a loud exclamation, which to frame the words.
caused the mavor to raise his head and look up inguir“You were the first to discover this crime ; you will ingly, and even infused some animation into the disnow tell me all you know of it.”
ciplined stolidity of the brigadier. “Oh! for that, M'sieu le Maire, what shall I say ?”. “If I am not mistaken, Monsieur le Maire,” said Vis, replied the man, resolutely keeping his back turned to- with the utmost gravity, replying to the inquiring glances ward the body of the murdered man. “What shall I of the two men, “I have discovered the cause of Monsieur say? I am clearing away the tables and extinguishing Marrois's death.” the lights ; I come here, and what do I see? a table with “What?” cried the mayor, springing to his feet and glasses and bottles, and a m'sieu with his head buried in drawing near to the corpse, an example quickly followed his arms. I say to myself, ' Antoine, the m'sieu is asleep. by the brigadier, whose curiosity had now gotten beyond He has taken (par e.cemple) a drop too much.' I shake the control of discipline. him ; no reply. I shake him again ; again no reply. I “Yes, monsieur," continued Vis ; “look here at this lift his head. I see that horrible sight. And then, mark on the neck of the murdered man !" and he pointed mon Dieu ! M'sieu le Maire, I lose my senses. I letto a spot some two inches below the left ear. m'sieu's lead drop back on his arms. I fly to the door! “That scratch ?" exclaimed the mayor, with undisand I cry · Murder ! murder ! at the top of my voice. guised astonishment; an astonishment reflected in the What can I say? I remember no more, m'sieu, until | eyes of his official subordinate. the crowd comes. They ask me questions. I can say “It is more than a scratch, monsieur. If you look nothing. They call me fool. What of that ? all I wish close, you will see that there is a slight puncture." is to get away as fast as possible ; I fly."
“Well, then ?" All this the man poured out with the utmost volubil. “Well then, monsieur, you will observe that all around ity, tossing his arms about, and gesticulating in a manner this puncture the flesh is black and discolored. See, too, impossible to any one but a French garçon.
the scratch, instead of its edges being angry and inflamed, “And this is all that you know ?” inquired the mayor, are of a dull bluish color. Monsieur le Maire," cried interrupting this flood of words.
the speaker, " as sure as I live, that tiny wound produced "Truly, m'sieu, it is all."
this man's death." “Then you did not attend upon this table ?”
“ Then yon think---" ". Von, m'sieu."
“I think,” interrupted Vis, “ that this puncture was • Who did, then ?"
made with some poisoned instrument ; something very “How shall I say, m'sieu ? But the garçons, they are slender and sharp-I should say a needle." all yonder, and if m'sieu will permit me, I can go and “I believe monsieur is correct !” excitedly exclaimed find out." .
the brigadier, now past all power of controlling his feel“Go then, and return as quickly as possible.”
ings. “I believe monsieur is correct, and the more so The man accepted this dismissal, and as le hurried as this agrees well with what little we know-or, rather, a way, the mayor turned to the brigadier and inquired suspect. That scratch, Monsieur le Maire, might easily
have been made by the same hand that wore that little, “I think there can be no doubt,” said Aristide Vis, glove. I agree with monsieur. I believe this crime was joining in. "I have been thinking over the affair, and I committed by a woman.”
will tell you the idea that has occurred to me. I think “Oh, no, no! I can never believe it. The idea is too that this was a rendezvous, and I think the woman came repulsive. And what cause ?"
to it prepared to murder this gentleman. Can there be And the mayor looked interrogatively at the last speaker, I any doubt of this? If I be correct as to the cause of
who, in answer to his inquiring glance, replied senten- , death, then this murler must bave been planned in 20tiously :
vance. For you will admit, Monsieur le Maire, that it is " Monsieur Marrois was a gallant man. The cause scarcely supposable that a woman. under ordinary cirmay have been revenge, jealousy, or who knows what. I| cumstances, would carry around with her a poisoned inbelieve with monsieur, as I said before, that this deed strument capable of inflicting death.” He glanced at was done by a woman."
the mayor, anl receiving no reply, went on : “Voll see
the champagne-bottles upon the table ? Two of these eyes, so bright, oh, so bright, m'sieu, shining out of the are entirely, and the third more than one-third, empty. eyeholes of her gray silk mask.” What do I conclude from this ? That Monsieur Marrois “You did not hear her voice ?" had been drinking freely, and from the quantity of wine “No, m'sieu ; toward the last, M'sieu Marrois seemed consumed must have been anything but clear-headed ; | rather affected by the wine, and when I was here for the when, taking advantage of his condition, the woman in- last time, was speaking excitedly. But, stop! Now I flicted the fatal scratch. And now, see here, monsieur," think of it, m'sieu, the last time I entered the arbor the continued the young man, drawing the attention of his lady was not upon this bench here opposite, but was companions to a spot upon the ground under the table, seated by the side of M'sieu Marrois, who was pressing and just in front of the unoccupied bench ; " this woman | her hands, and protesting his devotion in the most ardent was deceiving her companion throughout, and while in- manner. I filled the glasses from this third bottle, and ducing him to drink, with the purpose of intoxicat- | left the arbor. That was the last time I came here." ing him, she was emptying her glass here beneath the "And from beginning to end you never saw the lady's
face, nor heard her voice ?" “ Grand Dier !** cried the brigadier, who had gone “As I said before, no." down upon his knees, and with his nose to the ground, “Will you tell us, Baptiste," broke in Aristides Vis, was eagerly examining the spot pointed out. "Monsieur "when you saw Monsieur Marrois was pressing the lady's is entirely right; the grass is still wet with champagne." hands, did she have on both her gloves ?”
“Monsieur Vis," said the mayor, “horrible as it seems The man hesitated, and looked inquiringly at the to me, I am afraid that I must admit the correctness of mayor, who replied : your conclusion ; but, oh ! how terrible to think that any “You will answer monsieur's questions, Baptiste." woman could deliberately plan and carry out, with such “Well, then, yes, m'sieu ; at the last, when I saw the fiendish coolness, a crime like this."
lady, she had on both gloves." “I suspect, monsieur, that women can do a great “You are sure, Baptiste ?" many things, that we, in our innocence, believe them to | “Perfectly sure, m'sieu." be incapable of. I am satisfied that my theory of this “One last question," continued Aristide. “Are you affair is the true one; and see, here comes proof to sup- absolutely sure that you noticed nothing about the lady's port it.” And Aristide pointed to the doorway, in which costume except what you have told us ? Nothing by now appeared the form of Antoine Sachard, accompanied which she could be identified from any other woman, by a short man easily recognizable as one of his confrères, wearing a gray domino and mask ?” and whom he hastily presented to the mayor's attention. | | The man remained silent for some moments, and then
“ This is Baptiste, M'sieu le Maire ; Baptiste waited on suddenly exclaimed : : U'sieu Marrois. He can tell m'sieu all about it."
“But, mon Dieu ! it is true. The lady had upon her “You attended upon this table, Baptiste ?”
left shoulder a small bow of scarlet ribbon, and-and," “ Yes, M'sien le Maire," answered the second garçon, he continued, “I also remember her capuchin was fast* short, stout little fellow, who, after his first horrified ened at the back with a long golden pin." glance at the corpse of the murdered man, kept his pale The officials glanced instinctively at Aristide, who face turned away from the body.
seemed entirely unmoved by the information his questions “Come, Baptiste, you will tell me all you know about had elicited. Upon the face of the brigadier was an ex. this affair. Think well ; your testimony may be of great pression of unqualified admiration; whilst upon that of importance. When did you first see Monsieur Marrois ?', the mayor mingled doubt and astonishment were plainly The man replied, without any hesitation :
expressed. No one spoke for some time, until at length “I was attending in this part of the garden, M'sieu le a distant clock striking the hour of four recalled the Maire, serving refreshments. M'sieu Marrois met me in mayor from this reverie. one of the walks near this place."
"So late ?” he cried, with a start ; and then, suddenly “Was he alone ?”
addressing the garçon : “ There, that will do, Baptiste ; “No, m'sieu, there was a lady upon his arm.”
you can go now. You understand, of course, you will The mayor gave a slight start, and looked at Vis, who have to repeat this testimony before the judge. You only replied by a smile. Recovering his composure, the had better be at the 'Hotel de Ville'at twelve. You, official bade the man, “Go on.”
Jean,” addressing himself to the brigadier, “will remain “Well, m’sien, M'sieu Marrois asked me if there was here, and see to the removal of poor Marrois's body. At not a little arbor somewhere near, in which he and his the same time try and find out if any one else saw the companion could be alone? I replied in the affirmative, gray domino. The gatekeeper or the gendarmes on duty and brought hia to this spot, lit the gas, and took his at the entrance may have noticed her. And now, mon. order. whiuue was for champagne."
sieur," he said, turning to Vis, “ if you will give me your “And the woman-what of her ?"
arm we will leave this detestable place.” " At that time, I did not notice her closely ; but when Aristide complied with this request, and in silence I returned with the wine, she and M'sieu Marrois were the two men passed down the walks of the garden and seated on the two benches, opposite each other; and then reached the entrance-gate. Thanking his companion for I noticed her more closely. She was in gray, a silk dom- his valuable assistance, and reminding him that the in. ino with the capuchin drawn over her head, and her vestigation would have to be renewed before the Juge hands-mon Dieu! I could not but notice what beauti- d'Instruction, he bade him good-night ful hands they were, incased in gray kid gloves !" “Put her face, man!-her face ?" cried the mayor, ex
CHAPTER IV. “I never saw it, m'sieu. From beginning to end, On the morning of the day succeeding the tragic death whenever I was in the arbor, the lady's face was covered of Pierre Marrois, a gentleman was seated alone at one of by her mask, but how it may have been when I was ab- the tables in the “Restaurant de France," the most popsent I cannot say. All I could see was a pair of flashing alar establishment of the kind in Abois. The person