He almost wept, so great was his annoyance. M. Daburon was touched.
“Reassure yourself, my dear M. Tabaret,” said he. “I will manage that your adopted son, your Benjamin, shall know nothing. I will lead him to believe I have reached him by means of the widow’s papers.”
The old fellow seized the magistrate’s hand in a transport of gratitude, and carried it to his lips. Oh! thanks, sir, a thousand thanks! I should like to be permitted to witness the arrest; and I shall be glad to assist at the perquisitions.”
“I intended to ask you to do so, M. Tabaret,” answered the magistrate.
The lamps paled in the gray dawn of the morning; already the rumbling of vehicles was heard; Paris was awaking.
“I have no time to lose,” continued M. Daburon, “if I would have all my measures well taken. I must at once see the public prosecutor, whether he is up or not. I shall go direct from his house to the Palais de Justice, and be there before eight o’clock; and I desire, M. Tabaret, that you will there await my orders.”
The old fellow bowed his thanks and was about to leave, when the magistrate’s servant appeared.
“Here is a note, sir,” said he, “which a gendarme has just brought from Bougival. He waits an answer.”
“Very well,” replied M. Daburon. “Ask the man to have some refreshment; at least offer him a glass of wine.”
He opened the envelope. “Ah!” he cried, “a letter from Gevrol;” and he read:
“’To the investigating magistrate. Sir, I have the honour to inform you, that I am on the track of the man with the earrings. I heard of him at a wine shop, which he entered on Sunday morning, before going to Widow Lerouge’s cottage. He bought, and paid for two litres of wine; then, suddenly striking his forehead, he cried, “Old fool! to forget that to-morrow is the boat’s fete day!” and immediately called for three more litres. According to the almanac the boat must be called the Saint-Martin. I have also learned that she was laden with grain. I write to the Prefecture at the same time as I write to you, that inquiries may be made at Paris and Rouen. He will be found at one of those places. I am in waiting, sir, etc.’”
“Poor Gevrol!” cried old Tabaret, bursting with laughter. “He sharpens his sabre, and the battle is over. Are you not going to put a stop to his inquiries, sir?”
“No; certainly not,” answered M. Daburon; “to neglect the slightest clue often leads one into error. Who can tell what light we may receive from this mariner?”
On the same day that the crime of La Jonchere was discovered, and precisely at the hour that M. Tabaret made his memorable examination in the victim’s chamber, the Viscount Albert de Commarin entered his carriage, and proceeded to the Northern railway station, to meet his father.