In a fortnight Arthur returned from Paris with an order from the King for the revision of my sentence. Fresh witnesses were heard. Patience did not appear; but I received a note from him containing these words in a shapeless hand, “You are not guilty, so don’t despair.” The doctors declared that Mademoiselle de Mauprat might be examined without danger, but that her answers would have no meaning. She was now in better health. She had recognised her father, and at present would never leave him; but she could understand nothing that was not connected with him. She seemed to derive great pleasure from tending him like a child, and, on his side, the chevalier would now and then recognise his beloved daughter; but his vital powers were visibly decaying. They questioned him in one of his lucid moments. He replied that his daughter had, indeed, fallen from her horse while hunting, and that she had torn her breast on the stump of a tree, but that not a soul had fired at her, even by mistake, and that only a madman could possibly believe her cousin capable of such a crime. This was all the information they could draw from him. When they asked him what he thought of his nephew’s absence, he answered that his nephew was still in the house, and that he saw him every day. Was it that, in his devotion to the good name of a family—alas! so compromised—he thought to defeat the aims of justice by childish lies? This is a point I was never able to ascertain. As for Edmee, it was impossible to examine her. At the first question that was asked her, she shrugged her shoulders and made a sign that she did not wish to be bothered. As the public prosecutor insisted and became more explicit, she stared at him and seemed to be making an effort to understand. He pronounced my name, she gave a loud cry and fainted. He had to abandon all thoughts of taking her evidence. However, Arthur did not despair. On the contrary, the account of this scene made him think that Edmee’s mental faculties might be about to take a favourable turn. He immediately returned to Sainte-Severe, where he remained several days without writing to me, which caused me great anxiety.
When the abbe was questioned again, he persisted in his calm, laconic refusal to give evidence.
My judges, seeing that the information promised by Patience was not forthcoming, hurried on the revision of the trial, and, by another exhibition of haste, gave another proof of their animosity. The appointed day arrived. I was devoured by anxiety. Arthur had written me to keep up my courage, in as laconic a style as Patience. My counsel had been unable to obtain any fresh evidence in my favour. I could see clearly that he was beginning to believe me guilty. All he hoped for was to obtain a further delay.