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Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 483 pages of information about Within an Inch of His Life.

Vaudevin, the janitor, handed her a note.

“A man brought by a gendarme,” he replied.  “Immediately to be admitted.”

The lady superior read the note, signed by Dr. Seignebos.

“Epileptic,” she said, “and somewhat idiotic:  as if we wanted any more!  And a stranger into the bargain!  Really Dr. Seignebos is too yielding.  Why does he not send all these people to their own parish to be taken care of?”

And, with a very elastic step for her age, she went to the parlor, followed by M. Galpin and the janitor.  They had put the new patient in there, and, sunk upon a bench, he looked the picture of utter idiocy.  After having looked at him for a minute, she said,—­

“Put him in the Insane Ward:  he can keep Cocoleu company.  And let the sister know at the drug-room.  But no, I will go myself.  You will excuse me, sir.”

And then she left the room.  M. Galpin was much comforted.

“There is no danger here,” he said to himself.  “And if M. Folgat counts upon any incident during the trial, Cocoleu, at all events, will not furnish it to him.”

XXVII.

At the same hour when the magistrate left the hospital, Dr. Seignebos and M. Folgat parted, after a frugal breakfast,—­the one to visit his patients, the other to go to the prison.  The young advocate was very much troubled.  He hung his head as he went down the street; and the diplomatic citizens who compared his dejected appearance with the victorious air of M. Galpin came to the conclusion that Jacques de Boiscoran was irrevocably lost.

At that moment M. Folgat was almost of their opinion.  He had to pass through one of those attacks of discouragement, to which the most energetic men succumb at times, when they are bent upon pursuing an uncertain end which they ardently desire.

The declarations made by little Martha and the governess had literally overwhelmed him.  Just when he thought he had the end of the thread in his hand, the tangle had become worse than ever.  And so it had been from the commencement.  At every step he took, the problem had become more complicated than ever.  At every effort he made, the darkness, instead of being dispelled, had become deeper.  Not that he as yet doubted Jacques’s innocence.  No!  The suspicion which for a moment had flashed through his mind had passed away instantly.  He admitted, with Dr. Seignebos, the possibility that there was an accomplice, and that it was Cocoleu, in all probability, who had been charged with the execution of the crime.  But how could that fact be made useful to the defence?  He saw no way.

Goudar was an able man; and the manner in which he had introduced himself into the hospital and Cocoleu’s company indicated a master.  But however cunning he was, however experienced in all the tricks of his profession, how could he ever hope to make a man confess who intrenched himself behind the rampart of feigned imbecility?  If he had only had an abundance of time before him!  But the days were counted, and he would have to hurry his measures.

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