Within an Inch of His Life eBook

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

“Let us be off,” said the magistrate, when the last formalities had been fulfilled.

M. de Boiscoran came down slowly.  He knew the court was full of furious peasants; and he expected to be received with hootings.  It was not so.  The gendarme whom the attorney had sent down had done his duty so well, that not a cry was heard.  But when he had taken his seat in the carriage, and the horse went off at a trot, fierce curses arose, and a shower of stones fell, one of which wounded a gendarme.

“Upon my word, you bring ill luck, prisoner,” said the man, a friend of the other gendarme who had been so much injured at the fire.

M. de Boiscoran made no reply.  He sank back into the corner, and seemed to fall into a kind of stupor, from which he did not rouse himself till the carriage drove into the yard of the prison at Sauveterre.  On the threshold stood Master Blangin, the jailer, smiling with delight at the idea of receiving so distinguished a prisoner.

“I am going to give you my best room,” he said, “but first I have to give a receipt to the gendarme, and to enter you in my book.”  Thereupon he took down his huge, greasy register, and wrote the name of Jacques de Boiscoran beneath that of Trumence Cheminot, a vagabond who had just been arrested for having broken into a garden.

It was all over.  Jacques de Boiscoran was a prisoner, to be kept in close confinement.

SECOND PART—­THE BOISCORAN TRIAL

I.

The Paris house of the Boiscoran family, No. 216 University Street, is a house of modest appearance.  The yard in front is small; and the few square yards of damp soil in the rear hardly deserve the name of a garden.  But appearances are deceptive.  The inside is marvellously comfortable; careful and painstaking hands have made every provision for ease; and the rooms display that solid splendor for which our age has lost the taste.  The vestibule contains a superb mosaic, brought home from Venice, in 1798, by one of the Boiscorans, who had degenerated, and followed the fortunes of Napoleon.  The balusters of the great staircase are a masterpiece of iron work; and the wainscoting in the dining-room has no rival in Paris.

All this, however, is a mere nothing in comparison with the marquis’s cabinet of curiosities.  It fills the whole depth, and half the width, of the upper story; is lighted from above like a huge atelier; and would fill the heart of an artist with delight.  Immense glass cases, which stand all around against the walls, hold the treasures of the marquis,—­priceless collections of enamels, ivories, bronzes, unique manuscripts, matchless porcelains, and, above all, his faiences, his dear faiences, the pride and the torment of his old age.

The owner was well worthy of such a setting.

Though sixty-one years old at that time, the marquis was as straight as ever, and most aristocratically lean.  He had a perfectly magnificent nose, which absorbed immense quantities of snuff; his mouth was large, but well furnished; and his brilliant eyes shone with that restless cunning which betrayed the amateur, who has continually to deal with sharp and eager dealers in curiosities and second-hand articles of vertu.

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Within an Inch of His Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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