“Mother! it was my father’s ring! It was a part of the property stolen from him on the night of his murder,” solemnly answered Salome.
“Holy saints! can that be true?” exclaimed the abbess.
“As true as truth. I know the ring well. He always wore it on his finger. Inside the setting is his monogram, ‘L.L.,’ and his crest, a falcon,” answered Salome, once more unwrapping the ring and offering it to the inspection of the lady-superior.
“I see! I see! It is so. Ah, Holy Virgin! that it should have been offered by Count Waldemar, or by him whom you overheard conspiring with his female companion under the windows on the night of your father’s murder!” cried the abbess, covering her face with a fold of her black vail.
“Count Waldemar, or the duke of Hereward, I know not which, I know not whom. Oh! mother, this mystery grows deeper, this confusion more confounded.”
“Take back your ring, my child, and keep it without price. It was your father’s, and it is yours. We cannot receive stolen goods even as alms offered to our orphans,” said the abbess, dropping her vail and returning the jewel.
“I will take it and keep it because it was my dear father’s; but I will give a full equivalent for its value. No one could object to that,” said Salome, as she replaced the ring in her bosom. “And now, Mother Genevieve, will you tell me the promised story? It may possibly throw some light even upon this dark mystery.”
The pale abbess bowed assent, and immediately began the narrative, which, for the Sake of convenience, we prefer to render in our own words.
THE DUKE’S DOUBLE.
First it is necessary to revert to the history of the Scotts of Lone, Dukes of Hereward.
He who married Salome Levison was the eighth of his princely line. Any one turning to Burke’s Peerage of the preceding year, might have read this record of the late duke:
“Hereward, Duke of, (Archibald-Alexander-John Scott) Marquis of Arondelle and Avondale in the Peerage of England, Earl of Lone and Baron Scott in the Peerage of Scotland; born, 1st of Jan., 1800; succeeded his father as seventh duke, 1st Feb., 1840; married, first, March 15th, 1843, Valerie, only daughter of Constantine, Baron de la Motte; divorced, Nov, 1st, 1844; married, secondly, July 15th, 1845, Lady Katherine-Augusta, eldest daughter of the Earl of Banff, and has a son—Archibald-Alexander-John, Marquis of Arondelle, born 1st of May, 1846.”
A whole domestic tragedy is comprised in one line of this record:
“Married, first, March 15th, 1843, Valerie, only daughter of Constantine, Baron de la Motte; divorced, Nov. 1st, 1844.”
Now as to this poor, unhappy first wife:
Some few years before this first fatal marriage, the Baron de la Motte, one of the most illustrious French statesmen, was dispatched by his sovereign as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary from the Court of France to the Court of Russia.