were pierced by eight bullets, but he was himself untouched.

time:2023-12-07 14:36:35 source:Forget Your Life author:reading

For several years already La Constantin and Claude Perregaud had carried on their criminal practices without interference. A number of persons were of course in the secret, but their interests kept them silent, and the two accomplices had at last persuaded themselves that they were perfectly safe. One evening, however, Perregaud came home, his face distorted by terror and trembling in every limb. He had been warned while out that the suspicions of the authorities had been aroused in regard to him and La Constantin. It seemed that some little time ago, the Vicars-General had sent a deputation to the president of the chief court of justice, having heard from their priests that in one year alone six hundred women had avowed in the confessional that they had taken drugs to prevent their having children. This had been sufficient to arouse the vigilance of the police, who had set a watch on Perregaud's house, with the result that that very night a raid was to be made on it. The two criminals took hasty counsel together, but, as usual under such circumstances, arrived at no practical conclusions. It was only when the danger was upon them that they recovered their presence of mind. In the dead of night loud knocking at the street door was heard, followed by the command to open in the name of the king.

were pierced by eight bullets, but he was himself untouched.

"We can yet save ourselves!" exclaimed surgeon, with a sudden flash of inspiration.

were pierced by eight bullets, but he was himself untouched.

Rushing into the room where the pretended chevalier was lying, he called out--

were pierced by eight bullets, but he was himself untouched.

"The police are coming up! If they discover your sex you are lost, and so am I. Do as I tell you."

At a sign from him, La Constantin went down and opened the door. While the rooms on the first floor were being searched, Perregaud made with a lancet a superficial incision in the chevalier's right arm, which gave very little pain, and bore a close resemblance to a sword-cut. Surgery and medicine were at that time so inextricably involved, required such apparatus, and bristled with such scientific absurdities, that no astonishment was excited by the extraordinary collection of instruments which loaded the tables and covered the floors below: even the titles of certain treatises which there had been no time to destroy, awoke no suspicion.

Fortunately for the surgeon and his accomplice, they had only one patient--the chevalier--in their house when the descent was made. When the chevalier's room was reached, the first thing which the officers of the law remarked were the hat, spurred boots, and sword of the patient. Claude Perregaud hardly looked up as the room was invaded; he only made a sign to those--who came in to be quiet, and went on dressing the wound. Completely taken in, the officer in command merely asked the name of the patient and the cause of the wound. La Constantin replied that it' was the young Chevalier de Moranges, nephew of Commander de Jars, who had had an affair of honour that same night, and being sightly wounded had been brought thither by his uncle hardly an hour before. These questions and the apparently trustworthy replies elicited by them being duly taken down, the uninvited visitors retired, having discovered nothing to justify their visit.

All might have been well had there been nothing the matter but the wound on the chevalier's sword-arm. But at the moment when Perregaud gave it to him the poisonous nostrums employed by La Constantin were already working in his blood. Violent fever ensued, and in three days the chevalier was dead. It was his funeral which had met Quennebert's wedding party at the church door.

Everything turned out as Quennebert had anticipated. Madame Quennebert, furious at the deceit which had been practised on her, refused to listen to her husband's justification, and Trumeau, not letting the grass grow under his feet, hastened the next day to launch an accusation of bigamy against the notary; for the paper which had been found in the nuptial camber was nothing less than an attested copy of a contract of marriage concluded between Quennebert and Josephine-Charlotte Boullenois. It was by the merest chance that Trumeau had come on the record of the marriage, and he now challenged his rival to produce a certificate of the death of his first wife. Charlotte Boullenois, after two years of marriage, had demanded a deed of separation, which demand Quennebert had opposed. While the case was going on she had retired to the convent of La Raquette, where her intrigue with de Jars began. The commander easily induced her to let herself be carried off by force. He then concealed his conquest by causing her to adopt male attire, a mode of dress which accorded marvellously well with her peculiar tastes and rather masculine frame. At first Quennebert had instituted an active but fruitless search for his missing wife, but soon became habituated to his state of enforced single blessedness, enjoying to the full the liberty it brought with it. But his business had thereby suffered, and once having made the acquaintance of Madame Rapally, he cultivated it assiduously, knowing her fortune would be sufficient to set him straight again with the world, though he was obliged to exercise the utmost caution and reserve in has intercourse with her, as she on her side displayed none of these qualities. At last, however, matters came to such a pass that he must either go to prison or run the risk of a second marriage. So he reluctantly named a day for the ceremony, resolving to leave Paris with Madame Rapally as soon as he had settled with his creditors.


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