“I greatly fear that it will be a certificate of death,” said de Jars.
“Heaven grant it, commander! Adieu, messieurs.”
He then withdrew, walking backwards, keeping the two friends covered with his pistols until he had placed a sufficient distance between himself and them to be out of danger of an attack.
The two gentlemen on their part walked rapidly away, looking round from time to time, and keeping their ears open. They were very much mortified at having been forced to let a mere boor dictate to them, and anxious, especially de Jars, as to the result of the wound.
On the day following this extraordinary series of adventures, explanations between those who were mixed up in them, whether as actors or spectators, were the order of the day. It was not till Maitre Quennebert reached the house of the friend who had offered to put him up for the night that it first dawned on him, that the interest which the Chevalier de Moranges had awakened in his mind had made him utterly forget the bag containing the twelve hundred livres which he owed to the generosity of the widow. This money being necessary to him, he went back to her early next morning. He found her hardly recovered from her terrible fright. Her swoon had lasted far beyond the time when the notary had left the house; and as Angelique, not daring to enter the bewitched room, had taken refuge in the most distant corner of her apartments, the feeble call of the widow was heard by no one. Receiving no answer, Madame Rapally groped her way into the next room, and finding that empty, buried herself beneath the bedclothes, and passed the rest of the night dreaming of drawn swords, duels, and murders. As soon as it was light she ventured into the mysterious room once more; without calling her servants, and found the bag of crowns lying open on the floor, with the coins scattered all around, the partition broken, and the tapestry hanging from it in shreds. The widow was near fainting again: she imagined at first she saw stains of blood everywhere, but a closer inspection having somewhat reassured her, she began to pick up the coins that had rolled to right and left, and was agreeably surprised to find the tale complete. But how and why had Maitre Quennebert abandoned them? What had become of him? She had got lost in the most absurd suppositions and conjectures when the notary appeared. Discovering from the first words she uttered that she was in complete ignorance of all that had taken place, he explained to her that when the interview between the chevalier and Mademoiselle de Guerchi had just at the most interesting moment been so unceremoniously interrupted by the arrival of the duke, he had become so absorbed in watching them that he had not noticed that the partition was bending before the pressure of his body, and that just as the duke drew his sword