5. In a large room, called the library, were found a box of cigars of the trabucos brand, and on the mantel-shelf a number of cigar-holders in amber and meerschaum.
The last article noted down, M. Tabaret approached the commissary of police.
“I have everything I could desire,” he whispered.
“And I have finished,” replied the commissary. “Our prisoner does not appear to know exactly how to act. You heard what he said. He gave in at once. I suppose you will call it lack of experience.”
“In the middle of the day,” replied the amateur detective in a whisper, “he would not have been quite so crestfallen. But early in the morning, suddenly awakened, you know—Always arrest a person early in the morning, when he’s hungry, and only half awake.”
“I have questioned some of the servants. Their evidence is rather peculiar.”
“Very well; we shall see. But I must hurry off and find the investigating magistrate, who is impatiently expecting me.”
Albert was beginning to recover a little from the stupor into which he had been plunged by the entrance of the commissary of police.
“Sir,” he asked, “will you permit me to say a few words in your presence to the Count de Commarin? I am the victim of some mistake, which will be very soon discovered.”
“It’s always a mistake,” muttered old Tabaret.
“What you ask is impossible,” replied the commissary. “I have special orders of the strictest sort. You must not henceforth communicate with a living soul. A cab is in waiting below. Have the goodness to accompany me to it.”
In crossing the vestibule, Albert noticed a great stir among the servants; they all seemed to have lost their senses. M. Denis gave some orders in a sharp, imperative tone. Then he thought he heard that the Count de Commarin had been struck down with apoplexy. After that, he remembered nothing. They almost carried him to the cab which drove off as fast as the two little horses could go. M. Tabaret had just hastened away in a more rapid vehicle.
The visitor who risks himself in the labyrinth of galleries and stairways in the Palais de Justice, and mounts to the third story in the left wing, will find himself in a long, low-studded gallery, badly lighted by narrow windows, and pierced at short intervals by little doors, like a hall at the ministry or at a lodging-house.
It is a place difficult to view calmly, the imagination makes it appear so dark and dismal.
It needs a Dante to compose an inscription to place above the doors which lead from it. From morning to night, the flagstones resound under the heavy tread of the gendarmes, who accompany the prisoners. You can scarcely recall anything but sad figures there. There are the parents or friends of the accused, the witnesses, the detectives. In this gallery, far from the sight of men, the judicial curriculum is gone through with.