My child,—Leave Nemours, and thus evade the malice of your enemies. Perhaps they are seeking to endanger Savinien’s life. I will tell you more when I am able to go to you.
Your devoted friend,
When Savinien, who was almost maddened by these proceedings, carried this letter to the abbe, the poor priest read it and re-read it; so amazed and horror-stricken was he to see the perfection with which his own handwriting and signature were imitated. The dangerous condition into which this last atrocity threw poor Ursula sent Savinien once more to the procureur du roi with the forged letter.
“A murder is being committed by means that the law cannot touch,” he said, “upon an orphan whom the Code places in your care as legal guardian. What is to be done?”
“If you can find any means of repression,” said the official, “I will adopt them; but I know of none. That infamous wretch gives the best advice. Mademoiselle Mirouet must be sent to the sisters of the Adoration of the Sacred Heart. Meanwhile the commissary of police at Fontainebleau shall at my request authorize you to carry arms in your own defence. I have been myself to Rouvre, and I found Monsieur du Rouvre justly indignant at the suspicions some of the Nemours people have put upon him. Minoret, the father of my assistant, is in treaty for the purchase of the estate. Mademoiselle is to marry a rich Polish count; and Monsieur du Rouvre himself left the neighbourhood the day I saw him, to avoid arrest for debt.”
Desire Minoret, when questioned by his chief, dared not tell his thought. He recognized Goupil. Goupil, he fully believed, was the only man capable of carrying a persecution to the very verge of the penal code without infringing a hair’s-breadth upon it.
A TWO-FOLD VENGEANCE
Impunity, secrecy, and success increased Goupil’s audacity. He made Massin, who was completely his dupe, sue the Marquis du Rouvre for his notes, so as to force him to sell the remainder of his property to Minoret. Thus prepared, he opened negotiations for a practice at Sens, and then resolved to strike a last blow to obtain Ursula. He meant to imitate certain young men in Paris who owed their wives and their fortunes to abduction. He knew that the services he had rendered to Minoret, to Massin, and to Cremiere, and the protection of Dionis and the mayor of Nemours would enable him to hush up the affair. He resolved to throw off the mask, believing Ursula too feeble in the condition to which he had reduced her to make any resistance. But before risking this last throw in the game he thought it best to have an explanation with Minoret, and he chose his opportunity at Rouvre, where he went with his patron for the first time after the deeds were signed.