The Champdoce Mystery eBook

Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 300 pages of information about The Champdoce Mystery.
leaned against the chill stone until he almost became as cold as it was.  It seemed to him at that moment that life and hope were rapidly drifting away from him.  He had lost all count of how long he had been on guard.  He pulled out his watch, but it was too dark to distinguish the hands or the figures on the dial-plate.  A neighboring clock struck the half-hour, but this gave him no clue as to the time.  He had almost made up his mind to leave, when he heard the sound of a quick step coming down the street.  It was the light, quick step of a sportsman,—­of a man more accustomed to the woods and fields than the pavement and asphalt of Paris.  Then a shadow fell upon the opposite wall, and almost immediately disappeared.  Then Norbert knew that the door had opened and closed, and that the man had entered the garden.  There could be no doubt upon this point, and yet the Duke would have given worlds to be able to disbelieve the evidence of his senses.  It might be a burglar, but burglars seldom work alone; or it might be a visitor to one of the servants, but all the servants were absent.  He again raised his eyes to the windows of his wife’s room.  All of a sudden the light grew brighter; either the lamp had been turned up, or fresh candles lighted.  Yes, it was a candle, for he saw it borne across the room in the direction of the great staircase, and now he saw that the anonymous letter had spoken the truth, and that he was on the brink of a discovery.  A lover had entered the garden, and the lighted candle was a signal to him.  Norbert shuddered; the blood seemed to course through his veins like streams of molten fire, and the misty atmosphere that surrounded him appeared to stifle him.  He ran across the street, forced the lock, and rushed wildly into the garden.

CHAPTER XVI.

Husband and lover.

The writer of the anonymous communication had only known the secret too well, for the Duchess de Champdoce was awaiting a visit that evening from George de Croisenois; this was, however, the first time.  Step by step she had yielded, and at length had fallen into the snare laid for her by the treacherous woman whom she believed to be her truest friend.  The evening before this eventful night she had been alone in Madame de Mussidan’s drawing-room with George de Croisenois.  She had been impressed by his ardent passion, and had listened with pleasure to his loving entreaties.

“I yield,” said she.  “Come to-morrow night, at half-past ten, to the little door in the garden wall; it will only be kept closed by a stone being placed against it inside; push it, and it will open; and when you have entered the garden, acquaint me with your presence by clapping yours hands gently once or twice.”

Diana had, from a secure hiding-place, overheard these words, and feeling certain that the Duchess would repent her rash promise, she kept close to her side until George’s departure, to give her no chance of retracting her promise.  The next day she was constantly with her victim, and made an excuse for dining with her, so as not to quit her until the hour for the meeting had almost arrived.

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The Champdoce Mystery from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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