The Clique of Gold eBook

Émile Gaboriau
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 498 pages of information about The Clique of Gold.

He seized the lieutenant’s hand; and, pressing it almost painfully, he went on,—­

“Yes, I am ready to take my oath that this wretch is the vile tool of people who hate or fear Daniel Champcey; who are deeply interested in his death; and who, being too cowardly to do their own business, are rich enough to hire an assassin.”

The lieutenant was evidently unable to follow.

“Still, doctor,” he objected, “but just now you insisted”—­

“Upon a diametrically opposite doctrine; eh?”

“Precisely.”

The old surgeon smiled, and said,—­

“I had my reasons.  The more I am persuaded that this man is an assassin, the less I am disposed to proclaim it on the housetops.  He has accomplices, you think, do you?”

“Certainly.”

“Well, if we wish to reach them, we must by all means reassure them, leave them under the impression that everybody thinks it was an accident.  If they are frightened, good-night.  They will vanish before you can put out your hand to seize them.”

“Champcey might be questioned; perhaps he could furnish some information.”

But the doctor rose, and stopped him with an air of fury,—­

“Question my patient!  Kill him, you mean!  No!  If I am to have the wonderful good luck to pull him through, no one shall come near his bed for a month.  And, moreover, it will be very fortunate indeed if in a month he is sufficiently recovered to keep up a conversation.”

He shook his head, and went on, after a moment’s silence,—­

“Besides, it is a question whether Champcey would be disposed to say what he knows, or what he suspects.  That is very doubtful.  Twice he has been almost killed.  Has he ever said a word about it?  He probably has the same reasons for keeping silence now that he had then.”

Then, without noticing the officer’s objections, he added,—­

“At all events, I will think it over, and go and see the judges as soon as they are out of bed.  But I must ask you, lieutenant, to keep my secret till further order.  Will you promise?”

“On my word, doctor.”

“Then you may rest assured our poor friend shall be avenged.  And now, as I have barely two hours to rest, please excuse me.”

XXIV.

As soon as he was alone, the doctor threw himself on his bed; but he could not sleep.  He had never in his life been so much puzzled.  He felt as if this crime was the result of some terrible but mysterious intrigue; and the very fact of having, as he fancied, raised a corner of the veil, made him burn with the desire to draw it aside altogether.

“Why,” he said to himself, “why might not the scamp whom we hold be the author of the other two attempts likewise?  There is nothing improbable in that supposition.  The man, once engaged, might easily have been put on board ‘The Conquest;’ and he might have left France saying to himself that it would be odd indeed, if during a long voyage, or in a land like this, he did not find a chance to earn his money without running much risk.”

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The Clique of Gold from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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