“By Jove, it’s Bartot!” I exclaimed.
The man was leaning half across the table, his arms stretched out in an unnatural fashion,—the wine which he had overturned streaming on to the floor. His face was flushed and blotchy. His eyes were closed. He was groaning quite audibly, and gasping.
“Empoisonne!" he muttered. “Empoisonne!"
“Poisoned?” I repeated. “What does the fellow mean?”
I stopped short. A sudden realization of what he did mean assailed me! He was desperately ill, there was no doubt about that. The word which he had uttered seemed likely to be his last for some time to come. They formed a sort of stretcher and carried him from the room. Felicia was sitting back in her chair, white to the lips. I was feeling a little queer myself. I called Louis, who had been superintending the man’s removal.
“Louis,” I whispered in his ear, “there were two dinners which you prepared yourself to-night!”
Louis smiled very quietly.
“You need have no anxiety, monsieur,” he assured me,—“no anxiety at all!”
We sat out in the foyer and took our coffee. I did not suggest a visit to any place of entertainment, as I knew it was better for Felicia to retire early, in order that I might pass through the sitting-room to her uncle’s room, unheard. The orchestra was playing delightful music; the rooms were thronged with a gay and fashionable crowd. Nevertheless, my companion’s spirits, which had been high enough during dinner, now seemed to fail her. More than once during the momentary silence I saw the absent look come into her eyes,—saw her shiver as though she were recalling the little tragedy of a few minutes ago. I had hitherto avoided mentioning it, but I tried now to make light of the matter.
“I spoke to Louis coming out,” I remarked. “The man Bartot has only had a slight stroke. With a neck like that, I wonder he has not had it before.”
She found no consolation in my words. She only shook her head sadly.
“You do not understand,” she said. “It is part of the game. So it goes on, Capitaine Rotherby,” she said, looking at me with her sad eyes. “So it will go on to the end.”
“Come,” I said, “you must not get morbid.”
“Morbid,” she repeated. “It is not that. It is because I know.”
“Do you believe, then,” I asked, “that Bartot was poisoned?”
She looked at me as though in surprise. Her eyes were like the eyes of a child.
“I know it!” she answered simply. “There is not any question about it at all.”