The platonic love of Angelique de Guerchi for the handsome Chevalier de Moranges had resulted, as we have seen, in no practical wrong to the Duc de Vitry. After her reconciliation with her lover, brought about by the eminently satisfactory explanations she was able to give of her conduct, which we have already laid before our readers, she did not consider it advisable to shut her heart to his pleadings much longer, and the consequence was that at the end of a year she found herself in a condition which it was necessary to conceal from everyone. To Angelique herself, it is true, the position was not new, and she felt neither grief nor shame, regarding the coming event as a means of making her future more secure by forging a new link in the chain which bound the duke to her. But he, sure that but for himself Angelique would never have strayed from virtue’s path, could not endure the thought of her losing her reputation and becoming an object for scandal to point her finger at; so that Angelique, who could not well seem less careful of her good name than he, was obliged to turn his song of woe into a duet, and consent to certain measures being taken.
One evening, therefore, shortly before Maitre Quennebert’s marriage, the fair lady set out, ostensibly on a journey which was to last a fortnight or three weeks. In reality she only made a circle in a post-chaise round Paris, which she re-entered at one of the barriers, where the duke awaited her with a sedan-chair. In this she was carried to the very house to which de Jars had brought his pretended nephew after the duel. Angelique, who had to pay dearly for her errors, remained there only twenty-four hours, and then left in her coffin, which was hidden in a cellar under the palace of the Prince de Conde, the body being covered with quicklime. Two days after this dreadful death, Commander de Jars presented himself at the fatal house, and engaged a room in which he installed the chevalier.
This house, which we are about to ask the reader to enter with us, stood at the corner of the rue de la Tixeranderie and the rue Deux-Portes. There was nothing in the exterior of it to distinguish it from any other, unless perhaps two brass plates, one of which bore the words Marie Leroux-Constantin, widow, certified midwife, and the other Claude Perregaud, surgeon. These plates were affixed to the blank wall in the rue de la Tixeranderie, the windows of the rooms on that side looking into the courtyard. The house door, which opened directly on the first steps of a narrow winding stair, was on the other side, just beyond the low arcade under whose vaulted roof access was gained to that end of the rue des Deux-Portes. This house, though dirty, mean, and out of repair, received many wealthy visitors, whose brilliant equipages waited for them in the neighbouring streets. Often in the night great ladies crossed its threshold under