“I beg your pardon, are we going back to your house?”
“Why should we? You know the doctor is going to meet us here.”
“I think we may need the papers you read to us, to convince Monsieur Domini.”
M. Plantat smiled sadly, and looking steadily at him, replied:
“You are very sly, Monsieur Lecoq; but I too am sly enough to keep the last key of the mystery of which you hold all the others.”
“Believe me—” stammered M. Lecoq.
“I believe,” interrupted his companion, “that you would like very well to know the source of my information. Your memory is too good for you to forget that when I began last evening I told you that this narrative was for your ear alone, and that I had only one object in disclosing it—to aid our search. Why should you wish the judge of instruction to see these notes, which are purely personal, and have no legal or authentic character?”
He reflected a few moments, and added:
“I have too much confidence in you, Monsieur Lecoq, and esteem you too much, not to have every trust that you will not divulge these strict confidences. What you will say will be of as much weight as anything I might divulge—especially now that you have Robelot’s body to back your assertions, as well as the money found in his possession. If Monsieur Domini still hesitates to believe you, you know that the doctor promises to find the poison which killed Sauvresy.”
M. Plantat stopped and hesitated.
“In short,” he resumed, “I think you will be able to keep silence as to what you have heard from me.”
M. Lecoq took him by the hand, and pressing it significantly, said:
“Count on me, Monsieur.”
At this moment Dr. Gendron appeared at the door.
“Courtois is better,” said he. “He weeps like a child; but he will come out of it.”
“Heaven be praised!” cried the old justice of the peace. “Now, since you’ve come, let us hurry off to Corbeil; Monsieur Domini, who is waiting for us this morning, must be mad with impatience.”
M. Plantat, in speaking of M. Domini’s impatience, did not exaggerate the truth. That personage was furious; he could not comprehend the reason of the prolonged absence of his three fellow-workers of the previous evening. He had installed himself early in the morning in his cabinet, at the court-house, enveloped in his judicial robe; and he counted the minutes as they passed. His reflections during the night, far from shaking, had only confirmed his opinion. As he receded from the period of the crime, he found it very simple and natural—indeed, the easiest thing in the world to account for. He was annoyed that the rest did not share his convictions, and he awaited their report in a state of irritation which his clerk only too well perceived. He had eaten his breakfast in his cabinet, so as to be sure and be beforehand with M. Lecoq. It was a useless precaution; for the hours passed on and no one arrived.