And, though somewhat annoyed that he had tarried so long, on secondthought, he was not surprised.

It was, therefore, to the Hotel des Folies that he was going. Nowthat he had unmasked his batteries and begun the struggle, he wasnot sorry to meet Mlle Lucienne.

In less than five minutes he had reached the Boulevard du Temple.

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In front of the Fortins' narrow corridor a dozen idlers werestanding, talking.

M. de Tregars was listening as he went along.

"It is a frightful accident," said one, - "such a pretty girl, andso young too!""As to me," said another, "it is the driver that I pity the most;for after all, if that pretty miss was in that carriage, it was forher own pleasure; whereas, the poor coachman was only attending tohis business."A confused presentiment oppressed M. de Tregars' heart. Addressinghimself to one of those worthy citizens,"Have you heard any particulars?

Flattered by the confidence,"Certainly I have," he replied. "I didn't see the thing with myown proper eyes; but my wife did. It was terrible. The carriage,a magnificent private carriage too, came from the direction of theMadeleine. The horses had run away; and already there had been anaccident in the Place du Chateau d'Eau, where an old woman had beenknocked down. Suddenly, here, over there, opposite the toy-shop,which is mine, by the way, the wheel of the carriage catches intothe wheel of an enormous truck; and at once, palata! the coachmanis thrown down, and so is the lady, who was inside, - a verypretty girl, who lives in this hotel."Leaving there the obliging narrator, M. de Tregars rushed throughthe narrow corridor of the Hotel des Folies. At the moment whenhe reached the yard, he found himself in presence of Maxence.

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Pale, his head bare, his eyes wild, shaking with a nervous chill,the poor fellow looked like a madman. Noticing M. de Tregars,"Ah, my friend!" he exclaimed, "what misfortune'""Lucienne?""Dead, perhaps. The doctor will not answer for her recovery. Iam going to the druggist's to get a prescription."He was interrupted by the commissary of police, whose kindprotection had hitherto preserved Mlle. Lucienne. He was comingout of the little room on the ground-floor, which the Fortins usedfor an office, bedroom, and dining-room.

He had recognized Marius de Tregars, and, coming up to him, hepressed his hand, saying, "Well, you know?""Yes.""It is my fault, M. le Marquis; for we were fully notified. I knewso well that Mlle. Lucienne's existence was threatened, I was sofully expecting a new attempt upon her life, that, whenever she wentout riding, it was one of my men, wearing a footman's livery, whotook his seat by the side of the coachman. To-day my man was sobusy, that I said to myself, 'Bash, for once!' And behold theconsequences!"It was with inexpressible astonishment that Maxence was listening.

It was with a profound stupor that he discovered between Marius andthe commissary that serious intimacy which is the result of longintercourse, real esteem, and common hopes.

"It is not an accident, then," remarked M. de Tregars.

"The coachman has spoken, doubtless?""No: the wretch was killed on the spot."And, without waiting for another question,"But don't let us stay here," said the commissary.

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"Whilst Maxence runs to the drug-store, let us go into the Fortins'

office."The husband was alone there, the wife being at that moment withMlle. Lucienne.