“M. Lecoq,” gasped he, wondering at the excellence of the disguise.
“Hush, who knows who is watching us? I come to give your mind ease, which will do you more good than all the doctor’s stuff. Without in any way committing you, I have seen M. de Mussidan, and have furnished him with a valid excuse for postponing his daughter’s marriage for another month. You must remain here; you could not be in a place of greater security; but even here you cannot be too cautious. Eat nothing that is no given you by some one who utters the word ‘Lecoq.’ M. Gandelu will certainly call to see you. If you want to see or write to me, the patient on your right will manage that; he is one of my men. You shall have news every day; but be patient and prudent.”
“I can wait now,” answered the young man, “because I have hope.”
“Ah,” murmured Lecoq, as he moved softly away, “is not hope the true secret of life and happiness?”
THE DAY OF RECKONING.
M. Lecoq enjoined prudence and caution on Andre, and the utmost care on the part of his agents, because he was fully aware of the skill and cunning of the adversary with whom he had to cope.
“You should not talk or make a noise,” he would say, “when you are fighting.”
He could now prove that the head of this association, the man who concealed his identity under a threefold personality, was the instigator of a murder. But he did not intend to make use of this discovery at once, for he had sworn that he would take the whole gang, and his proceedings had been so carefully conducted that his victims did not for a moment suspect the net that was closing around them. The day after the accident to Andre, Mascarin sent an anonymous communication to the head of the police, giving up Toto as the author of the crime, and saying where he could be found.
“Of course,” thought this wily plotter, “Toto will denounce Tantaine, but that worthy man is dead and buried, and I think that even the sharpest agents of the police will be unable to effect his resurrection.”
Mascarin had carefully consumed in a large fire every particle of the tattered garments that Tantaine had been in the habit of wearing, and laughed merrily as he watched the columns of sombre smoke roll upwards.