“For his sake, I trust his wounds are mortal!” murmured the old detective, whose anger left him at the sight. “After all, I loved him as though he were my own child; his name is still in my will!”
Old Tabaret stopped. Noel just then uttered a groan, and opened his eyes.
“You see that he will live!” cried Juliette.
The advocate shook his head feebly, and, for a moment, he tossed about painfully on the bed, passing his right hand first under his coat, and then under his pillow. He even succeeded in turning himself half-way towards the wall and then back again.
Upon a sign, which was at once understood, someone placed another pillow under his head. Then in a broken, hissing voice, he uttered a few words: “I am the assassin,” he said. “Write it down, I will sign it; it will please Albert. I owe him that at least.”
While they were writing, he drew Juliette’s head close to his lips.
“My fortune is beneath the pillow,” he whispered. “I give it all to you.”
A flow of blood rose to his mouth; and they all thought him dead. But he still had strength enough to sign his confession, and to say jestingly to M. Tabaret, “Ah, ha, my friend, so you go in for the detective business, do you! It must be great fun to trap one’s friends in person! Ah, I have had a fine game; but, with three women in the play, I was sure to lose.”
The death struggle commenced, and, when the doctor arrived, he could only announce the decease of M. Noel Gerdy, advocate.
Some months later, one evening, at old Mademoiselle de Goello’s house, the Marchioness d’Arlange, looking ten years younger than when we saw her last, was giving her dowager friends an account of the wedding of her granddaughter Claire, who had just married the Viscount Albert de Commarin.
“The wedding,” said she, “took place on our estate in Normandy, without any flourish of trumpets. My son-in-law wished it; for which I think he is greatly to blame. The scandal raised by the mistake of which he had been the victim, called for a brilliant wedding. That was my opinion, and I did not conceal it. But the boy is as stubborn as his father, which is saying a good deal; he persisted in his obstinacy. And my impudent granddaughter, obeying beforehand her future husband, also sided against me. It is, however, of no consequence; I defy anyone to find to-day a single individual with courage enough to confess that he ever for an instant doubted Albert’s innocence. I have left the young people in all the bliss of the honeymoon, billing and cooing like a pair of turtle doves. It must be admitted that they have paid dearly for their happiness. May they be happy then, and may they have lots of children, for they will have no difficulty in bringing them up and in providing for them. I must tell you that, for the first time in his life, and probably for the last, the Count