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THE MAN HUNT
ON the afternoon of that same day such a keen desire for space and the
open air came upon Guillaume, that Pierre consented to accompany him on a
long walk in the Bois de Boulogne. The priest, upon returning from his
interview with Monferrand, had informed his brother that the government
once more wished to get rid of Nicholas Barthes. However, they were so
perplexed as to how they should impart these tidings to the old man, that
they resolved to postpone the matter until the evening. During their walk
they might devise some means of breaking the news in a gentle way. As for
the walk, this seemed to offer no danger; to all appearance Guillaume was
in no wise threatened, so why should he continue hiding? Thus the
brothers sallied forth and entered the Bois by the Sablons gate, which
was the nearest to them.
The last days of March had now come, and the trees were beginning to show
some greenery, so soft and light, however, that one might have thought it
was pale moss or delicate lace hanging between the stems and boughs.
Although the sky remained of an ashen grey, the rain, after falling
throughout the night and morning, had ceased; and exquisite freshness
pervaded that wood now awakening to life once more, with its foliage
dripping in the mild and peaceful atmosphere. The mid-Lent rejoicings had
apparently attracted the populace to the centre of Paris, for in the
avenues one found only the fashionable folks of select days, the people
of society who come thither when the multitude stops away. There were
carriages and gentlemen on horseback; beautiful aristocratic ladies who
had alighted from their broughams or landaus; and wet-nurses with
streaming ribbons, who carried infants wearing the most costly lace. Of
the middle-classes, however, one found only a few matrons living in the
neighbourhood, who sat here and there on the benches busy with embroidery
or watching their children play.
Pierre and Guillaume followed the Allee de Longchamp as far as the road
going from Madrid to the lakes. Then they took their way under the trees,
alongside the little Longchamp rivulet. They wished to reach the lakes,
pass round them, and return home by way of the Maillot gate. But so
charming and peaceful was the deserted plantation through which they
passed, that they yielded to a desire to sit down and taste the delight
of resting amidst all the budding springtide around them. A fallen tree
served them as a bench, and it was possible for them to fancy themselves
far away from Paris, in the depths of some real forest. It was, too, of a
real forest that Guillaume began to think on thus emerging from his long,
voluntary imprisonment. Ah! for the space; and for the health-bringing
air which courses between that forest's branches, that forest of the
world which by right should be man's inalienable domain! However, the
name of Barthes, the perpetual prisoner, came back to Guillaume's lips,
and he sighed mournfully. The thought that there should be even a single
man whose liberty was thus ever assailed, sufficed to poison the pure
atmosphere he breathed.
"What will you say to Barthes?" he asked his brother. "The poor fellow
must necessarily be warned. Exile is at any rate preferable to
Pierre sadly waved his hand. "Yes, of course, I must warn him. But what a
painful task it is!"
Guillaume made no rejoinder, for at that very moment, in that remote,
deserted nook, where they could fancy themselves at the world's end, a
most extraordinary spectacle was presented to their view. Something or
rather someone leapt out of a thicket and bounded past them. It was
assuredly a man, but one who was so unrecognisable, so miry, so woeful
and so frightful, that he might have been taken for an animal, a boar
that hounds had tracked and forced from his retreat. On seeing the
rivulet, he hesitated for a moment, and then followed its course. But,
all at once, as a sound of footsteps and panting breath drew nearer, he
sprang into the water, which reached his thighs, bounded on to the
further bank, and vanished from sight behind a clump of pines. A moment
afterwards some keepers and policemen rushed by, skirting the rivulet,
and in their turn disappearing. It was a man hunt that had gone past, a
fierce, secret hunt with no display of scarlet or blast of horns athwart
the soft, sprouting foliage.
"Some rascal or other," muttered Pierre. "Ah! the wretched fellow!"
Guillaume made a gesture of discouragement. "Gendarmes and prison!" said
he. "They still constitute society's only schooling system!"
Meantime the man was still running on, farther and farther away.
When, on the previous night, Salvat had suddenly escaped from the
detectives by bounding into the Bois de Boulogne, it had occurred to him
to slip round to the Dauphine gate and there descend into the deep ditch*
of the city ramparts. He remembered days of enforced idleness which he
had spent there, in nooks where, for his own part, he had never met a
living soul. Nowhere, indeed, could one find more secret places of
retreat, hedged round by thicker bushes, or concealed from view by
loftier herbage. Some corners of the ditch, at certain angles of the
massive bastions, are favourite dens or nests for thieves and lovers.
Salvat, as he made his way through the thickest of the brambles, nettles
and ivy, was lucky enough to find a cavity full of dry leaves, in which
he buried himself to the chin. The rain had already drenched him, and
after slipping down the muddy slope, he had frequently been obliged to
grope his way upon all fours. So those dry leaves proved a boon such as
he had not dared to hope for. They dried him somewhat, serving as a
blanket in which he coiled himself after his wild race through the dank
darkness. The rain still fell, but he now only felt it on his head, and,
weary as he was, he gradually sank into deep slumber beneath the
continuous drizzle. When he opened his eyes again, the dawn was breaking,
and it was probably about six o'clock. During his sleep the rain had
ended by soaking the leaves, so that he was now immersed in a kind of
chilly bath. Still he remained in it, feeling that he was there sheltered
from the police, who must now surely be searching for him. None of those
bloodhounds would guess his presence in that hole, for his body was quite
buried, and briers almost completely hid his head. So he did not stir,
but watched the rise of the dawn.
* This ditch or dry moat is about 30 feet deep and 50 feet wide.
The counterscarp by which one may descend into it has an angle
of 45 degrees.--Trans.
When at eight o'clock some policemen and keepers came by, searching the
ditch, they did not perceive him. As he had anticipated, the hunt had
begun at the first glimmer of light. For a time his heart beat violently;
however, nobody else passed, nothing whatever stirred the grass. The only
sounds that reached him were faint ones from the Bois de Boulogne, the
ring of a bicyclist's bell, the thud of a horse's hoofs, the rumble of
carriage wheels. And time went by, nine o'clock came, and then ten
o'clock. Since the rain had ceased falling, Salvat had not suffered so
much from the cold, for he was wearing a thick overcoat which little
Mathis had given him. But, on the other hand, hunger was coming back;
there was a burning sensation in his stomach, and leaden hoops seemed to
be pressing against his ribs. He had eaten nothing for two days; he had
been starving already on the previous evening, when he had accepted a
glass of beer at that tavern at Montmartre. Nevertheless, his plan was to
remain in the ditch until nightfall, and then slip away in the direction
of the village of Boulogne, where he knew of a means of egress from the
wood. He was not caught yet, he repeated, he might still manage to
escape. Then he tried to get to sleep again, but failed, so painful had
his sufferings become. By the time it was eleven, everything swam before
his eyes. He once nearly fainted, and thought that he was going to die.
Then rage gradually mastered him, and, all at once, he sprang out of his
leafy hiding-place, desperately hungering for food, unable to remain
there any longer, and determined to find something to eat, even should it
cost him his liberty and life. It was then noon.
On leaving the ditch he found the spreading lawns of the chateau of La
Muette before him. He crossed them at a run, like a madman, instinctively
going towards Boulogne, with the one idea that his only means of escape
lay in that direction. It seemed miraculous that nobody paid attention to
his helter-skelter flight. However, when he had reached the cover of some
trees he became conscious of his imprudence, and almost regretted the
sudden madness which had borne him along, eager for escape. Trembling
nervously, he bent low among some furze bushes, and waited for a few
minutes to ascertain if the police were behind him. Then with watchful
eye and ready ear, wonderful instinct and scent of danger, he slowly went
his way again. He hoped to pass between the upper lake and the Auteuil
race-course; but there were few trees in that part, and they formed a
broad avenue. He therefore had to exert all his skill in order to avoid
observation, availing himself of the slenderest stems, the smallest
bushes, as screens, and only venturing onward after a lengthy inspection
of his surroundings. Before long the sight of a guard in the distance
revived his fears and detained him, stretched on the ground behind some
brambles, for a full quarter of an hour. Then the approach first of a
cab, whose driver had lost his way, and afterwards of a strolling
pedestrian, in turn sufficed to stop him. He breathed once more, however,
when, after passing the Mortemart hillock, he was able to enter the
thickets lying between the two roads which lead to Boulogne and St.
Cloud. The coppices thereabouts were dense, and he merely had to follow
them, screened from view, in order to reach the outlet he knew of, which
was now near at hand. So he was surely saved.
But all at once, at a distance of some five and thirty yards, he saw a
keeper, erect and motionless, barring his way. He turned slightly to the
left and there perceived another keeper, who also seemed to be awaiting
him. And there were more and more of them; at every fifty paces or so
stood a fresh one, the whole forming a /cordon/, the meshes as it were of
a huge net. The worst was that he must have been perceived, for a light
cry, like the clear call of an owl, rang out, and was repeated farther
and farther off. The hunters were at last on the right scent, prudence
had become superfluous, and it was only by flight that the quarry might
now hope to escape. Salvat understood this so well that he suddenly began
to run, leaping over all obstacles and darting between the trees,
careless whether he were seen or heard. A few bounds carried him across
the Avenue de St. Cloud into the plantations stretching to the Allee de
la Reine Marguerite. There the undergrowth was very dense; in the whole
Bois there are no more closely set thickets. In summer they become one
vast entanglement of verdure, amidst which, had it been the leafy season,
Salvat might well have managed to secrete himself. For a moment he did
find himself alone, and thereupon he halted to listen. He could neither
see nor hear the keepers now. Had they lost his track, then? Profound
quietude reigned under the fresh young foliage. But the light, owlish cry
arose once more, branches cracked, and he resumed his wild flight,
hurrying straight before him. Unluckily he found the Allee de la Reine
Marguerite guarded by policemen, so that he could not cross over, but had
to skirt it without quitting the thickets. And now his back was turned
towards Boulogne; he was retracing his steps towards Paris. However, a
last idea came to his bewildered mind: it was to run on in this wise as
far as the shady spots around Madrid, and then, by stealing from copse to
copse, attempt to reach the Seine. To proceed thither across the bare
expanse of the race-course and training ground was not for a moment to be
So Salvat still ran on and on. But on reaching the Allee de Longchamp he
found it guarded like the other roads, and therefore had to relinquish
his plan of escaping by way of Madrid and the river-bank. While he was
perforce making a bend alongside the Pre Catelan, he became aware that
the keepers, led by detectives, were drawing yet nearer to him, confining
his movements to a smaller and smaller area. And his race soon acquired
all the frenzy of despair. Haggard and breathless he leapt mounds, rushed
past multitudinous obstacles. He forced a passage through brambles, broke
down palings, thrice caught his feet in wire work which he had not seen,
and fell among nettles, yet picked himself up went on again, spurred by
the stinging of his hands and face. It was then Guillaume and Pierre saw
him pass, unrecognisable and frightful, taking to the muddy water of the
rivulet like a stag which seeks to set a last obstacle between itself and
the hounds. There came to him a wild idea of getting to the lake, and
swimming, unperceived, to the island in the centre of it. That, he madly
thought, would be a safe retreat, where he might burrow and hide himself
without possibility of discovery. And so he still ran on. But once again
the sight of some guards made him retrace his steps, and he was compelled
to go back and back in the direction of Paris, chased, forced towards the
very fortifications whence he had started that morning. It was now nearly
three in the afternoon. For more than two hours and a half he had been
At last he saw a soft, sandy ride for horsemen before him. He crossed it,
splashing through the mire left by the rain, and reached a little
pathway, a delightful lovers' lane, as shady in summer as any arbour. For
some time he was able to follow it, concealed from observation, and with
his hopes reviving. But it led him to one of those broad, straight
avenues where carriages and bicycles, the whole afternoon pageant of
society, swept past under the mild and cloudy sky. So he returned to the
thickets, fell once more upon the keepers, lost all notion of the
direction he took, and even all power of thought, becoming a mere thing
carried along and thrown hither and thither by the chances of the pursuit
which pressed more and more closely upon him. Star-like crossways
followed one upon other, and at last he came to a broad lawn, where the
full light dazzled him. And there he suddenly felt the hot, panting
breath of his pursuers close in the rear. Eager, hungry breath it was,
like that of hounds seeking to devour him. Shouts rang out, one hand
almost caught hold of him, there was a rush of heavy feet, a scramble to
seize him. But with a supreme effort he leapt upon a bank, crawled to its
summit, rose again, and once more found himself alone, still running on
amid the fresh and quiet greenery.
Nevertheless, this was the end. He almost fell flat upon the ground. His
aching feet could no longer carry him; blood was oozing from his ears,
and froth had come to his mouth. His heart beat with such violence that
it seemed likely to break his ribs. Water and perspiration streamed from
him, he was miry and haggard and tortured by hunger, conquered, in fact,
more by hunger than by fatigue. And through the mist which seemed to have
gathered before his wild eyes, he suddenly saw an open doorway, the
doorway of a coach-house in the rear of a kind of chalet, sequestered
among trees. Excepting a big white cat, which took to flight, there was
not a living creature in the place. Salvat plunged into it and rolled
over on a heap of straw, among some empty casks. He was scarcely hidden
there when he heard the chase sweep by, the detectives and the keepers
losing scent, passing the chalet and rushing in the direction of the
Paris ramparts. The noise of their heavy boots died away, and deep
silence fell, while the hunted man, who had carried both hands to his
heart to stay its beating, sank into the most complete prostration, with
big tears trickling from his closed eyes.
Whilst all this was going on, Pierre and Guillaume, after a brief rest,
had resumed their walk, reaching the lake and proceeding towards the
crossway of the Cascades, in order to return to Neuilly by the road
beyond the water. However, a shower fell, compelling them to take shelter
under the big leafless branches of a chestnut-tree. Then, as the rain
came down more heavily and they could perceive a kind of chalet, a little
cafe-restaurant amid a clump of trees, they hastened thither for better
protection. In a side road, which they passed on their way, they saw a
cab standing, its driver waiting there in philosophical fashion under the
falling shower. Pierre, moreover, noticed a young man stepping out
briskly in front of them, a young man resembling Gerard de Quinsac, who,
whilst walking in the Bois, had no doubt been overtaken by the rain, and
like themselves was seeking shelter in the chalet. However, on entering
the latter's public room, the priest saw no sign of the gentleman, and
concluded that he must have been mistaken. This public room, which had a
kind of glazed verandah overlooking the Bois, contained a few chairs and
tables, the latter with marble tops. On the first floor there were four
or five private rooms reached by a narrow passage. Though the doors were
open the place had as yet scarcely emerged from its winter's rest. There
was nobody about, and on all sides one found the dampness common to
establishments which, from lack of custom, are compelled to close from
November until March. In the rear were some stables, a coach-house, and
various mossy, picturesque outbuildings, which painters and gardeners
would now soon embellish for the gay pleasure parties which the fine
weather would bring.
"I really think that they haven't opened for the season yet," said
Guillaume as he entered the silent house.
"At all events they will let us stay here till the rain stops," answered
Pierre, seating himself at one of the little tables.
However, a waiter suddenly made his appearance seemingly in a great
hurry. He had come down from the first floor, and eagerly rummaged a
cupboard for a few dry biscuits, which he laid upon a plate. At last he
condescended to serve the brothers two glasses of Chartreuse.
In one of the private rooms upstairs Baroness Duvillard, who had driven
to the chalet in a cab, had been awaiting her lover Gerard for nearly
half an hour. It was there that, during the charity bazaar, they had
given each other an appointment. For them the chalet had precious
memories: two years previously, on discovering that secluded nest, which
was so deserted in the early, hesitating days of chilly spring, they had
met there under circumstances which they could not forget. And the
Baroness, in choosing the house for the supreme assignation of their
dying passion, had certainly not been influenced merely by a fear that
she might be spied upon elsewhere. She had, indeed, thought of the first
kisses that had been showered on her there, and would fain have revived
them even if they should now prove the last that Gerard would bestow on
But she would also have liked to see some sunlight playing over the
youthful foliage. The ashen sky and threatening rain saddened her. And
when she entered the private room she did not recognise it, so cold and
dim it seemed with its faded furniture. Winter had tarried there, with
all the dampness and mouldy smell peculiar to rooms which have long
remained closed. Then, too, some of the wall paper which had come away
from the plaster hung down in shreds, dead flies were scattered over the
parquetry flooring; and in order to open the shutters the waiter had to
engage in a perfect fight with their fastenings. However, when he had
lighted a little gas-stove, which at once flamed up and diffused some
warmth, the room became more cosy.
Eve had seated herself on a chair, without raising the thick veil which
hid her face. Gowned, gloved, and bonneted in black, as if she were
already in mourning for her last passion, she showed naught of her own
person save her superb fair hair, which glittered like a helm of tawny
gold. She had ordered tea for two, and when the waiter brought it with a
little plateful of dry biscuits, left, no doubt, from the previous
season, he found her in the same place, still veiled and motionless,
absorbed, it seemed, in a gloomy reverie. If she had reached the cafe
half an hour before the appointed time it was because she desired some
leisure and opportunity to overcome her despair and compose herself. She
resolved that of all things she would not weep, that she would remain
dignified and speak calmly, like one who, whatever rights she might
possess, preferred to appeal to reason only. And she was well pleased
with the courage that she found within her. Whilst thinking of what she
should say to dissuade Gerard from a marriage which to her mind would
prove both a calamity and a blunder, she fancied herself very calm,
indeed almost resigned to whatsoever might happen.
But all at once she started and began to tremble. Gerard was entering the
"What! are you here the first, my dear?" he exclaimed. "I thought that I
myself was ten minutes before the time! And you've ordered some tea and
are waiting for me!"
He forced a smile as he spoke, striving to display the same delight at
seeing her as he had shown in the early golden days of their passion. But
at heart he was much embarrassed, and he shuddered at the thought of the
awful scene which he could foresee.
She had at last risen and raised her veil. And looking at him she
stammered: "Yes, I found myself at liberty earlier than I expected. . . .
I feared some impediment might arise . . . and so I came."
Then, seeing how handsome and how affectionate he still looked, she could
not restrain her passion. All her skilful arguments, all her fine
resolutions, were swept away. Her flesh irresistibly impelled her towards
him; she loved him, she would keep him, she would never surrender him to
another. And she wildly flung her arms around his neck.
"Oh! Gerard, Gerard! I suffer too cruelly; I cannot, I cannot bear it!
Tell me at once that you will not marry her, that you will never marry
Her voice died away in a sob, tears started from her eyes. Ah! those
tears which she had sworn she would never shed! They gushed forth without
cessation, they streamed from her lovely eyes like a flood of the
"My daughter, O God! What! you would marry my daughter! She, here, on
your neck where I am now! No, no, such torture is past endurance, it must
not be, I will not have it!"
He shivered as he heard that cry of frantic jealousy raised by a mother
who now was but a woman, maddened by the thought of her rival's youth,
those five and twenty summers which she herself had left far behind. For
his part, on his way to the assignation, he had come to what he thought
the most sensible decision, resolving to break off the intercourse after
the fashion of a well-bred man, with all sorts of fine consolatory
speeches. But sternness was not in his nature. He was weak and
soft-hearted, and had never been able to withstand a woman's tears.
Nevertheless, he endeavoured to calm her, and in order to rid himself of
her embrace, he made her sit down upon the sofa. And there, beside her,
he replied: "Come, be reasonable, my dear. We came here to have a
friendly chat, did we not? I assure you that you are greatly exaggerating
But she was determined to obtain a more positive answer from him. "No,
no!" she retorted, "I am suffering too dreadfully, I must know the truth
at once. Swear to me that you will never, never marry her!"
He again endeavoured to avoid replying as she wished him to do. "Come,
come," he said, "you will do yourself harm by giving way to such grief as
this; you know that I love you dearly."
"Then swear to me that you will never, never marry her."
"But I tell you that I love you, that you are the only one I love."
Then she again threw her arms around him, and kissed him passionately
upon the eyes. "Is it true?" she asked in a transport. "You love me, you
love no one else? Oh! tell me so again, and kiss me, and promise me that
you will never belong to her."
Weak as he was he could not resist her ardent caresses and pressing
entreaties. There came a moment of supreme cowardice and passion; her
arms were around him and he forgot all but her, again and again repeating
that he loved none other, and would never, never marry her daughter. At
last he even sank so low as to pretend that he simply regarded that poor,
infirm creature with pity. His words of compassionate disdain for her
rival were like nectar to Eve, for they filled her with the blissful idea
that it was she herself who would ever remain beautiful in his eyes and
whom he would ever love. . . .
At last silence fell between them, like an inevitable reaction after such
a tempest of despair and passion. It disturbed Gerard. "Won't you drink
some tea?" he asked. "It is almost cold already."
She was not listening, however. To her the reaction had come in a
different form; and as though the inevitable explanation were only now
commencing, she began to speak in a sad and weary voice. "My dear Gerard,
you really cannot marry my daughter. In the first place it would be so
wrong, and then there is the question of your name, your position.
Forgive my frankness, but the fact is that everybody would say that you
had sold yourself--such a marriage would be a scandal for both your
family and mine."
As she spoke she took hold of his hands, like a mother seeking to prevent
her big son from committing some terrible blunder. And he listened to
her, with bowed head and averted eyes. She now evinced no anger, no
jealous rage; all such feelings seemed to have departed with the rapture
of her passion.
"Just think of what people would say," she continued. "I don't deceive
myself, I am fully aware that there is an abyss between your circle of
society and ours. It is all very well for us to be rich, but money simply
enlarges the gap. And it was all very fine for me to be converted, my
daughter is none the less 'the daughter of the Jewess,' as folks so often
say. Ah! my Gerard, I am so proud of you, that it would rend my heart to
see you lowered, degraded almost, by a marriage for money with a girl who
is deformed, who is unworthy of you and whom you could never love."
He raised his eyes and looked at her entreatingly, anxious as he was to
be spared such painful talk. "But haven't I sworn to you, that you are
the only one I love?" he said. "Haven't I sworn that I would never marry
her! It's all over. Don't let us torture ourselves any longer."
Their glances met and lingered on one another, instinct with all the
misery which they dared not express in words. Eve's face had suddenly
aged; her eyelids were red and swollen, and blotches marbled her
quivering cheeks, down which her tears again began to trickle. "My poor,
poor Gerard," said she, "how heavily I weigh on you. Oh! do not deny it!
I feel that I am an intolerable burden on your shoulders, an impediment
in your life, and that I shall bring irreparable disaster on you by my
obstinacy in wishing you to be mine alone."
He tried to speak, but she silenced him. "No, no, all is over between us.
I am growing ugly, all is ended. And besides, I shut off the future from
you. I can be of no help to you, whereas you bestow all on me. And yet
the time has come for you to assure yourself a position. At your age you
can't continue living without any certainty of the morrow, without a home
and hearth of your own; and it would be cowardly and cruel of me to set
myself up as an obstacle, and prevent you from ending your life happily,
as I should do if I clung to you and dragged you down with me."
Gazing at him through her tears she continued speaking in this fashion.
Like his mother she was well aware that he was weak and even sickly; and
she therefore dreamt of arranging a quiet life for him, a life of
tranquil happiness free from all fear of want. She loved him so fondly;
and possessed so much genuine kindness of heart that perhaps it might be
possible for her to rise even to renunciation and sacrifice. Moreover,
the very egotism born of her beauty suggested that it might be well for
her to think of retirement and not allow the autumn of her life to be
spoilt by torturing dramas. All this she said to him, treating him like a
child whose happiness she wished to ensure even at the price of her own;
and he, his eyes again lowered, listened without further protest, pleased
indeed to let her arrange a happy life for him.
Examining the situation from every aspect, she at last began to
recapitulate the points in favour of that abominable marriage, the
thought of which had so intensely distressed her. "It is certain," she
said, "that Camille would bring you all that I should like you to have.
With her, I need hardly say it, would come plenty, affluence. And as for
the rest, well, I do not wish to excuse myself or you, but I could name
twenty households in which there have been worse things. Besides, I was
wrong when I said that money opened a gap between people. On the
contrary, it draws them nearer together, it secures forgiveness for every
fault; so nobody would dare to blame you, there would only be jealous
ones around you, dazzled by your good fortune."
Gerard rose, apparently rebelling once more. "Surely," said he, "/you/
don't insist on my marrying your daughter?"
"Ah! no indeed! But I am sensible, and I tell you what I ought to tell
you. You must think it all over."
"I have done so already. It is you that I have loved, and that I love
still. What you say is impossible."
She smiled divinely, rose, and again embraced him. "How good and kind you
are, my Gerard. Ah! if you only knew how I love you, how I shall always
love you, whatever happens."
Then she again began to weep, and even he shed tears. Their good faith
was absolute; tender of heart as they were, they sought to delay the
painful wrenching and tried to hope for further happiness. But they were
conscious that the marriage was virtually an accomplished fact. Only
tears and words were left them, while life and destiny were marching on.
And if their emotion was so acute it was probably because they felt that
this was the last time they would meet as lovers. Still they strove to
retain the illusion that they were not exchanging their last farewell,
that their lips would some day meet again in a kiss of rapture.
Eve removed her arms from the young man's neck, and they both gazed round
the room, at the sofa, the table, the four chairs, and the little hissing
gas-stove. The moist, hot atmosphere was becoming quite oppressive.
"And so," said Gerard, "you won't drink a cup of tea?"
"No, it's so horrid here," she answered, while arranging her hair in
front of the looking-glass.
At that parting moment the mournfulness of this place, where she had
hoped to find such delightful memories, filled her with distress, which
was turning to positive anguish, when she suddenly heard an uproar of
gruff voices and heavy feet. People were hastening along the passage and
knocking at the doors. And, on darting to the window, she perceived a
number of policemen surrounding the chalet. At this the wildest ideas
assailed her. Had her daughter employed somebody to follow her? Did her
husband wish to divorce her so as to marry Silviane? The scandal would be
awful, and all her plans must crumble! She waited in dismay, white like a
ghost; while Gerard, also paling and quivering, begged her to be calm. At
last, when loud blows were dealt upon the door and a Commissary of Police
enjoined them to open it, they were obliged to do so. Ah! what a moment,
and what dismay and shame!
Meantime, for more than an hour, Pierre and Guillaume had been waiting
for the rain to cease. Seated in a corner of the glazed verandah they
talked in undertones of Barthes' painful affair, and ultimately decided
to ask Theophile Morin to dine with them on the following evening, and
inform his old friend that he must again go into exile.
"That is the best course," repeated Guillaume. "Morin is very fond of him
and will know how to break the news. I have no doubt too that he will go
with him as far as the frontier."
Pierre sadly looked at the falling rain. "Ah! what a choice," said he,
"to be ever driven to a foreign land under penalty of being thrust into
prison. Poor fellow! how awful it is to have never known a moment of
happiness and gaiety in one's life, to have devoted one's whole existence
to the idea of liberty, and to see it scoffed at and expire with
Then the priest paused, for he saw several policemen and keepers approach
the cafe and prowl round it. Having lost scent of the man they were
hunting, they had retraced their steps with the conviction no doubt that
he had sought refuge in the chalet. And in order that he might not again
escape them, they now took every precaution, exerted all their skill in
surrounding the place before venturing on a minute search. Covert fear
came upon Pierre and Guillaume when they noticed these proceedings. It
seemed to them that it must all be connected with the chase which they
had caught a glimpse of some time previously. Still, as they happened to
be in the chalet they might be called upon to give their names and
addresses. At this thought they glanced at one another, and almost made
up their minds to go off under the rain. But they realised that anything
like flight might only compromise them the more. So they waited; and all
at once there came a diversion, for two fresh customers entered the
A victoria with its hood and apron raised had just drawn up outside the
door. The first to alight from it was a young, well-dressed man with a
bored expression of face. He was followed by a young woman who was
laughing merrily, as if much amused by the persistence of the downpour.
By way of jesting, indeed, she expressed her regret that she had not come
to the Bois on her bicycle, whereupon her companion retorted that to
drive about in a deluge appeared to him the height of idiocy.
"But we were bound to go somewhere, my dear fellow," she gaily answered.
"Why didn't you take me to see the maskers?"
"The maskers, indeed! No, no, my dear. I prefer the Bois, and even the
bottom of the lake, to them."
Then, as the couple entered the chalet, Pierre saw that the young woman
who made merry over the rain was little Princess Rosemonde, while her
companion, who regarded the mid-Lent festivities as horrible, and
bicycling as an utterly unaesthetic amusement, was handsome Hyacinthe
Duvillard. On the previous evening, while they were taking a cup of tea
together on their return from the Chamber of Horrors, the young man had
responded to the Princess's blandishments by declaring that the only form
of attachment he believed in was a mystic union of intellects and souls.
And as such a union could only be fittingly arrived at amidst the cold,
chaste snow, they had decided that they would start for Christiania on
the following Monday. Their chief regret was that by the time they
reached the fiords the worst part of the northern winter would be over.
They sat down in the cafe and ordered some kummel, but there was none,
said the waiter, so they had to content themselves with common anisette.
Then Hyacinthe, who had been a schoolfellow of Guillaume's sons,
recognised both him and Pierre; and leaning towards Rosemonde told her in
a whisper who the elder brother was.
Thereupon, with sudden enthusiasm, she sprang to her feet: "Guillaume
Froment, indeed! the great chemist!" And stepping forward with arm
outstretched, she continued: "Ah! monsieur, you must excuse me, but I
really must shake hands with you. I have so much admiration for you! You
have done such wonderful work in connection with explosives!" Then,
noticing the chemist's astonishment, she again burst into a laugh: "I am
the Princess de Harn, your brother Abbe Froment knows me, and I ought to
have asked him to introduce me. However, we have mutual friends, you and
I; for instance, Monsieur Janzen, a very distinguished man, as you are
aware. He was to have taken me to see you, for I am a modest disciple of
yours. Yes, I have given some attention to chemistry, oh! from pure zeal
for truth and in the hope of helping good causes, not otherwise. So you
will let me call on you--won't you?--directly I come back from
Christiania, where I am going with my young friend here, just to acquire
some experience of unknown emotions."
In this way she rattled on, never allowing the others an opportunity to
say a word. And she mingled one thing with another; her cosmopolitan
tastes, which had thrown her into Anarchism and the society of shady
adventurers; her new passion for mysticism and symbolism; her belief that
the ideal must triumph over base materialism; her taste for aesthetic
verse; and her dream of some unimagined rapture when Hyacinthe should
kiss her with his frigid lips in a realm of eternal snow.
All at once, however, she stopped short and again began to laugh. "Dear
me!" she exclaimed. "What are those policemen looking for here? Have they
come to arrest us? How amusing it would be!"
Police Commissary Dupot and detective Mondesir had just made up their
minds to search the cafe, as their men had hitherto failed to find Salvat
in any of the outbuildings. They were convinced that he was here. Dupot,
a thin, bald, short-sighted, spectacled little man, wore his usual
expression of boredom and weariness; but in reality he was very wide
awake and extremely courageous. He himself carried no weapons; but, as he
anticipated a most violent resistance, such as might be expected from a
trapped wolf, he advised Mondesir to have his revolver ready. From
considerations of hierarchical respect, however, the detective, who with
his snub nose and massive figure had much the appearance of a bull-dog,
was obliged to let his superior enter first.
From behind his spectacles the Commissary of Police quickly scrutinized
the four customers whom he found in the cafe: the lady, the priest, and
the two other men. And passing them in a disdainful way, he at once made
for the stairs, intending to inspect the upper floor. Thereupon the
waiter, frightened by the sudden intrusion of the police, lost his head
and stammered: "But there's a lady and gentleman upstairs in one of the
Dupot quietly pushed him aside. "A lady and gentleman, that's not what we
are looking for. . . . Come, make haste, open all the doors, you mustn't
leave a cupboard closed."
Then climbing to the upper floor, he and Mondesir explored in turn every
apartment and corner till they at last reached the room where Eve and
Gerard were together. Here the waiter was unable to admit them, as the
door was bolted inside. "Open the door!" he called through the keyhole,
"it isn't you that they want!"
At last the bolt was drawn back, and Dupot, without even venturing to
smile, allowed the trembling lady and gentleman to go downstairs, while
Mondesir, entering the room, looked under every article of furniture, and
even peeped into a little cupboard in order that no neglect might be
imputed to him.
Meantime, in the public room which they had to cross after descending the
stairs, Eve and Gerard experienced fresh emotion; for people whom they
knew were there, brought together by an extraordinary freak of chance.
Although Eve's face was hidden by a thick veil, her eyes met her son's
glance and she felt sure that he recognised her. What a fatality! He had
so long a tongue and told his sister everything! Then, as the Count, in
despair at such a scandal, hurried off with the Baroness to conduct her
through the pouring rain to her cab, they both distinctly heard little
Princess Rosemonde exclaim: "Why, that was Count de Quinsac! Who was the
lady, do you know?" And as Hyacinthe, greatly put out, returned no
answer, she insisted, saying: "Come, you must surely know her. Who was
"Oh! nobody. Some woman or other," he ended by replying.
Pierre, who had understood the truth, turned his eyes away to hide his
embarrassment. But all at once the scene changed. At the very moment when
Commissary Dupot and detective Mondesir came downstairs again, after
vainly exploring the upper floor, a loud shout was raised outside,
followed by a noise of running and scrambling. Then Gascogne, the Chief
of the Detective Force, who had remained in the rear of the chalet,
continuing the search through the outbuildings, made his appearance,
pushing before him a bundle of rags and mud, which two policemen held on
either side. And this bundle was the man, the hunted man, who had just
been discovered in the coach-house, inside a staved cask, covered with
Ah! what a whoop of victory there was after that run of two hours'
duration, that frantic chase which had left them all breathless and
footsore! It had been the most exciting, the most savage of all sports--a
man hunt! They had caught the man at last, and they pushed him, they
dragged him, they belaboured him with blows. And he, the man, what a
sorry prey he looked! A wreck, wan and dirty from having spent the night
in a hole full of leaves, still soaked to his waist from having rushed
through a stream, drenched too by the rain, bespattered with mire, his
coat and trousers in tatters, his cap a mere shred, his legs and hands
bleeding from his terrible rush through thickets bristling with brambles
and nettles. There no longer seemed anything human about his face; his
hair stuck to his moist temples, his bloodshot eyes protruded from their
sockets; fright, rage, and suffering were all blended on his wasted,
contracted face. Still it was he, the man, the quarry, and they gave him
another push, and he sank on one of the tables of the little cafe, still
held and shaken, however, by the rough hands of the policemen.
Then Guillaume shuddered as if thunderstruck, and caught hold of Pierre's
hand. At this the priest, who was looking on, suddenly understood the
truth and also quivered. Salvat! the man was Salvat! It was Salvat whom
they had seen rushing through the wood like a wild boar forced by the
hounds. And it was Salvat who was there, now conquered and simply a
filthy bundle. Then once more there came to Pierre, amidst his anguish, a
vision of the errand girl lying yonder at the entrance of the Duvillard
mansion, the pretty fair-haired girl whom the bomb had ripped and killed!
Dupot and Mondesir made haste to participate in Gascogne's triumph. To
tell the truth, however, the man had offered no resistance; it was like a
lamb that he had let the police lay hold of him. And since he had been in
the cafe, still roughly handled, he had simply cast a weary and mournful
glance around him.
At last he spoke, and the first words uttered by his hoarse, gasping
voice were these: "I am hungry."
He was sinking with hunger and weariness. This was the third day that he
had eaten nothing.
"Give him some bread," said Commissary Dupot to the waiter. "He can eat
it while a cab is being fetched."
A policeman went off to find a vehicle. The rain had suddenly ceased
falling, the clear ring of a bicyclist's bell was heard in the distance,
some carriages drove by, and under the pale sunrays life again came back
to the Bois.
Meantime, Salvat had fallen gluttonously upon the hunk of bread which had
been given him, and whilst he was devouring it with rapturous animal
satisfaction, he perceived the four customers seated around. He seemed
irritated by the sight of Hyacinthe and Rosemonde, whose faces expressed
the mingled anxiety and delight they felt at thus witnessing the arrest
of some bandit or other. But all at once his mournful, bloodshot eyes
wavered, for to his intense surprise he had recognised Pierre and
Guillaume. When he again looked at the latter it was with the submissive
affection of a grateful dog, and as if he were once more promising that
he would divulge nothing, whatever might happen.
At last he again spoke, as if addressing himself like a man of courage,
both to Guillaume, from whom he had averted his eyes, and to others also,
his comrades who were not there: "It was silly of me to run," said he. "I
don't know why I did so. It's best that it should be all ended. I'm
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