What was he doing there?
To this question the prosecution replied by the evidence taken on the first day of the inquiry, by the water in which Jacques had washed his hands, the cartridge-case found near the house, and the identity of the shot extracted from the count’s wounds with those seized with the gun at Boiscoran.
Every thing was plain, precise, and formidable, admitting of no discussion, no doubt, no suggestion. It looked like a mathematical deduction.
“Whether he be innocent or guilty,” said M. Magloire to his young colleague, “Jacques is lost, if we cannot get hold of some evidence against the Countess Claudieuse. And even in that case, even if it should be established that she is guilty, Jacques will always be looked upon as her accomplice.”
Nevertheless, they spent a part of the night in going over all the papers carefully, and in studying every point made by the prosecution.
Next morning, about nine o’clock, having had only a few hours’ sleep, they went together to the prison.
The night before, the jailer of Sauveterre had said to his wife, at supper,—
“I am tired of the life I am leading here. They have paid me for my place, have not they? Well, I mean to go.”
“You are a fool!” his wife had replied. “As long as M. de Boiscoran is a prisoner there is a chance of profit. You don’t know how rich those Chandores are. You ought to stay.”
Like many other husbands, Blangin fancied he was master in his own house.
He remonstrated. He swore to make the ceiling fall down upon him. He demonstrated by the strength of his arm that he was master. But—
But, notwithstanding all this, Mrs. Blangin having decided that he should stay, he did stay. Sitting in front of his jail, and given up to the most dismal presentiments, he was smoking his pipe, when M. Magloire and M. Folgat appeared at the prison, and handed him M. Galpin’s permit. He rose as they came in. He was afraid of them, not knowing whether they were in Miss Dionysia’s secret or not. He therefore politely doffed his worsted cap, took his pipe from his mouth, and said,—
“Ah! You come to see M. de Boiscoran, gentlemen? I will show you in: just give me time to go for my keys.”
M. Magloire held him back.
“First of all,” he said, “how is M. de Boiscoran?”
“Only so-so,” replied the jailer.
“What is the matter?”
“Why, what is the matter with all prisoners when they see that things are likely to turn out badly for them?”
The two lawyers looked at each other sadly.
It was clear that Blangin thought Jacques guilty, and that was a bad omen. The persons who stand guard over prisoners have generally a very keen scent; and not unfrequently lawyers consult them, very much as an author consults the actors of the theatre on which his piece is to appear.