It was not to the present circumstance that he applied that word.
But the commissary naturally mistook him.
"Yes," he went on, "it was a revelation. To me these two thousandfrancs were worth a confession: they could only be the wages of acrime. So, without losing a moment, I jump into a cab, and drive toBrion's. Everybody was upside down, because the horses had justbeen brought back. I question; and, from the very first words, thecorrectness of my presumption is demonstrated to me. The wretch whohad just died was not one of Brion's coachmen. This is what hadhappened. At two o'clock, when the carriage ordered by M. VanKlopen was ready to go for Mlle. Lucienne, they had been compelledto send for the driver and the footman, who had forgotten themselvesdrinking in a neighboring wine-shop, with a man who had called tosee them in the morning. They were slightly under the influence ofwine, but not enough so to make it imprudent to trust them withhorses; and it was even probable that the fresh air would sober themcompletely. They had then started; but, they had not gone very far,for one of their comrades had seen them stop the carriage in frontof a wine-shop, and join there the same individual with whom theyhad been drinking all the morning""And who was no other than the man who was killed?""Wait. Having obtained this information, I get some one to take meto the wine-shop; and I ask for the coachman and the footman fromBrion's. They were there still; and they are shown to me in aprivate room, lying on the floor, fast asleep. I try to wake themup, but in vain. I order to water them freely; but a pitcher ofwater thrown on their faces has no effect, save to make them utteran inarticulate groan. I guess at once what they have taken. Isend for a physician, and I call on the wine-merchant forexplanations. It is his wife and his barkeeper who answer me.
They tell me, that, at about two o'clock, a man came in the shop,who stated that he was employed at Brion's, and who ordered threeglasses for himself and two comrades, whom he was expecting.
"A few moments later, a carriage stops at the door; and the driverand the footman leave it to come in. They were in a great hurry,they said, and only wished to take one glass. They do take three,one after another; then they order a bottle. They were evidentlyforgetting their horses, which they bad given to hold to acommissionaire. Soon the man proposes a game. The others accept;and here they are, settled in the back-room, knocking on the tablefor sealed wine. The game must have lasted at least twenty minutes.
Tips, opportunities to make money：defiswapAt the end of that time, the man who had come in first appeared,looking very much annoyed, saying that it was very unpleasant, thathis comrades were dead drunk, that they will miss their work, andthat the boss, who is anxious to please his customers, willcertainly dismiss them. Although he had taken as much, and morethan the rest, he was perfectly steady; and, after reflecting fora moment, - I have an idea,' he says. 'Friends should help eachother, shouldn't they? I am going to take the coachman's livery,and drive in his stead. I happen to know the customer they weregoing after. She is a very kind old lady, and I'll tell her astory to explain the absence of the footman.'
"Convinced that the man is in Brion's employment, they have noobjection to offer to this fine project.
Tips, opportunities to make money：us coin values"The brigand puts on the livery of the sleeping coachman, gets upon the box, and starts off, after stating that he will return forhis comrades as soon as he has got through the job, and thatdoubtless they will be sober by that time.
M. de Tregars knew well enough the savoir-faire of the commissarynot to be surprised at his promptness in obtaining precise information.
Already he was going on,"Just as I was closing my examination, the doctor arrived. I showhim my drunkards; and at once he recognizes that I have guessedcorrectly, and that these men have been put asleep by means of oneof those narcotics of which certain thieves make use to rob theirvictims. A potion, which he administers to them by forcing theirteeth open with a knife, draws them from this lethargy. They opentheir eyes, and soon are in condition to reply to my questions.
They are furious at the trick that has been played upon them; butthey do not know the man. They saw him they swear to me, for thefirst time that very morning; and they are ignorant even of hisname."There was no doubt possible after such complete explanations. Thecommissary had seen correctly, and he proved it.
It was not of a vulgar accident that Mlle. Lucienne had just beenthe victim, but of a crime laboriously conceived, and executed withunheard-of audacity, - of one of those crimes such as too many arecommitted, whose combinations, nine times out of ten, set asideeven a suspicion, and foil all the efforts of human justice.
M. de Tregars knew now what had taken place, as clearly as if hehad himself received the confession of the guilty parties.
A man had been found to execute that perilous programme, - to makethe horses run away, and then to run into some heavy wagon. Thewretch was staking his life on that game; it being evident thatthe light carriage must be smashed in a thousand pieces. But hemust have relied upon his skill and his presence of mind, to avoidthe shock, to jump off safe and sound'; whilst Mlle. Lucienne,thrown upon the pavement, would probably be killed on the spot.
The event had deceived his expectations, and he had been the victimof his rascality; but his death was a misfortune.
"Because now," resumed the commissary, "the thread is broken in ourhands which would infallibly have led us to the truth. Who is itthat ordered the crime, and paid for it? We know it, since we knowwho benefits by the crime. But that is not sufficient. Justicerequires something more than moral proofs. Living, this banditwould have spoken. His death insures the impunity of the wretchesof whom he was but the instrument.""Perhaps," said M. Tregars.
And at the same time he took out of his pocket, and showed the notefound in Vincent Favoral's pocket-book, - that note, so obscure theday before, now so terribly clear.
"I cannot understand your negligence. You should get through withthat Van Klopen affair: there is the danger."The commissary of police cast but a glance upon it, and, replyingto the objections of his old experience rather more than addressinghimself to M. de Tregars,"There can be no doubt about it," he murmured. "It is to the crimecommitted to-day that these pressing recommendations relate; and,directed as they are to Vincent Favoral, they attest his complicity.