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The skeleton had disappeared ! Evidently some alarm had been given which had caused the meeting to disperse just at the nick of time to prevent his discovery.
He crept softly down the main staircase, listening for any sound which might induce him to retrace his steps, but hearing nothing. In this manner he gained the passage on the ground floor leading to the courtyard, and was about to set his foot in the courtyard itself, when a strong harm was laid on his shoulder, and he heard the words, “ Arretez au nom de la loi!”
Half a dozen men surrounded him. They were dressed in plain clothes, but it was impossible to mistake their calling, or to doubt for an instant that they were agents of police. One of them addressing him who appeared to be the chief exclaimed :
“This is the person whom we saw going into the house half an hour ago."
The chief approached and looked his prisoner close in the face. "Dr. Longjumeau, his Majesty's physician!” he exclaimed.
Impossible! There must be some mystification here, which the Doctor will explain.”
The fact is, Monsieur le Commissaire," returned the Doctor, luckily retaining his presence of mind; “ there is a mystification. Yes, that is the word. I received, two hours ago, a letter, calling on me to attend a case admitting of no delay, at this address, and, on coming here, I find an empty house. For the last half-hour I have been roaming about, from room to room, trying to find some inmate, but have not succeeded.”
“I also," returned the Commissaire, “have received this letter, calling attention to mysterious noises, and lights seen in this old tumbledown house, and pointing out the probability of its being a den of malefactors. A hoax has been played off on us. And yet, your suinmons here tallies, it may be, with our information. You were, perhaps, sent for, Doctor, for the purpose of being robbed, or murdered. We must place the house under surveillance.”
“Let me look at your letter," exclaimed the Doctor, struck with a sudden thought. “If it should turn out to be in the same handwriting as the one addressed to me, there will, of course, be no longer a doubt as to the whole affair being a pure mystification.'
“Certainly; here it is, at your disposal. Antoine, hold a lantern, while Monsieur reads."
“ The same writing," cried the Doctor, after a rapid glance at the crumpled paper. "The same hand-writing to a shade. Štay! I see it all now.
You remember the persons whom I prosecuted some years ago, for assertions affecting my character ; for example, that I roamed about in the lowest quarters of Paris, visiting dens of infamy. This stroke evidently comes from the same source. They bring me here by a fictitious pretext, and you, at the same time, with your officers, on a different errand. If, by a happy chance, you did not know me,
am, of course, arrested, on suspicion of forming part of a band of malefactors, and though released, to be sure, the following day, from a charge so ridiculous in my case, become the laughing-stock of all Paris. You see the plan ?”
“I see it all now," replied the Commissaire, laughing, "and that it will be needless to trouble ourselves further about the matter."
“As the reputation of one of his Majesty's physicians is a matter of some consequence,” said the Doctor, drawing the police-agent aside, “perhaps you will be so good as to keep this matter quiet for the present, until we can make sure of the perpetrators, so as to bring them before the police correctionelle.”
“Make your mind easy,” returned the Commissaire, lifting his hat, by way of salutation; "the police knows too well its duties, to indulge in tittle-tattle. And as for the perpetrators, leave them to our wellknown acuteness and penetration! Good-night, Monsieur le Docteur !"
Some months after this eventful night, the world of fashion learnt, with surprise, that Doctor Longjumeau, the popular physician, meditated giving up his practice, and retiring into private life. But still greater was the astonishment, when the tidings got bruited about, that the Doctor actually purposed quitting France, and settling for life in the neighbourhood of Florence. Society” pointed its finger significantly to its forehead, at the idea of a Parisian deeming existence possible beyond the barriers of his own city; which are, at the same time, as every one knows, the limits of human civilisation. The excuse given by the voluntary exile, in this case, viz., that his health required the change, seemed scarcely borne out by his robust appearance. There must be some secret causes for his departure, and it is unnecessary to say how many of these were related in the strictest confidence, and upon the most unimpeachable testimony, to the world at large. Then, his wife ! Would she be brought to renounce the capital of the Universe, and its pleasures, for a residence in a distant land—admirable, indeed, for its monuments of the past, but offering nothing in the shape of the present, to be compared with the aspect of the Boulevard, and the Palais Royal ? To the general amazement, Madame Longjumeau not only yielded an assent to her husband's proposal, but entered into it with the greatest alacrity. Her sorrowing friends felt, after a time, the uselessness of preaching up domestic rebellion. They saw the preparations for departure gradually completing, the apartment let, the furniture sold off, the mother-in-law's permanent abode at St. Could fixed, by a judicious gift of the cottage; and, at last, the new travelling carriage, waiting only for the four dapple-greys to be harnessed to it on the morrow. On the night previous to his voyage, the Doctor gave his last supper party, on a grand scale, at a hotel near his former house, at which there was much outward mirth, and internal sadness, and toasts of eternal remembrance were given on all sides, some few of which were not broken so soon as the glasses in which they were drunk. “Bah !” said every one to himself next day, we shall see them back again in the course of a year!”
Meanwhile, Doctor and Madame Longjumeau, seated behind the four dapple-greys, watched, not without a feeling of melancholy, the dear walls and towers of Paris fading from their view ; but their melancholy was tempered by a sense of their mutual affection, and by certain other considerations, which both of them appeared to feel without alluding to. The Doctor at last broke the silence.
“You see, dearest Léonie, it was inevitable. We shall soon be accustomed to our new abode, and our best friends will, from time to time, be our visitors. Short of leaving the country, there was no possible means of freeing you from your connection with that dreadful society. I use the word 'dreadful' because every society must be such, whatever be its supposed aims, in which women are enrolled without the knowledge of their husbands, and to carry out intrigues which are to remain a secret to those from whom they are bound to have no secrets. I doubt, for instance, whether your society has not done a great deal more harm than the good which it boasts about. You remember by the way, that you have not yet told me by what means you originally became connected with it."
Through the Duchesse de Guémenée. She no doubt thought me a discreet person, who might be relied upon. I was led on from one thing to another, till at last I was induced to give a promise which I regretted immediately afterwards, but could not retract. But youyou have not yet told me how you became acquainted with our existence.”
Her husband mused for a few moments. "Ah !." said he, Doctors may have, must have secrets which they are bound to preserve. However, there is nothing mysterious about the matter depend on it, and some day I will relate it to you. Meanwhile,” he added, to turn off the conversation from a point which he saw reason to avoid, “ this ring, the dead lady's ring! What shall I do with it? Throw it away, to be picked up by the first peasant, and convert him, maybe, into a second Napoleon ?"
Léonie stopped her husband's hand. “Keep it, dearest,” she said, "keep it for an heir-loom. Some day, too,” she added, "we may try its effects on
“ On whom ?” asked the Doctor.
“Ah! women too have their secrets, Monsieur, which they are bound to preserve.
However, as I don't think this one of them—" she leaned over, and whispered something in his ear.
He clasped his wife in his arms and embraced her again and again. “This, that I thought one of the saddest, is in reality, the happiest day in my life," he exclaimed, and henceforth, the towers of Paris grew smaller and smaller, and the cloud of smoke on the horizon, which represented the great city, dwindled into a speck, and then entirely melted away, without the Doctor's once turning round to note the change, or to release the little hand that lay fondly, securely, faithfully reposing
in his own.
Twenty years after this, that is to say, in eighteen hundred and thirty-six, when young Léon de Longjumeau was completing his medical studies in Paris, it was observed, at the masked balls, and other places of study which he frequented, that he wore a ring of singular appearance and antique design. When interrogated about this trinket, he would reply that it had been put upon his finger by his father, on the day of his departure from Florence, who had enjoined him to
as a talisman,” but whether the old gentleman spoke seriously or in jest, he was unable to say. The ring was probably an old family
wear it “
jewel; the de Longjumeaus being descended, as every oue knew, from a twin brother of Philip the Fair. Certainly, viewed in the light of a talisman, it could scarcely be said to have achieved a high character. Since he had been its fortunate wearer, Léon had twice visited the interior of Clichy, seen himself abandoned no less than seven times, by as many favourite mistresses, for each of whom he would have given his life, and been more or less seriously wounded in three duels. In fact he had met with pretty much the same adventures as his friends and gayer fellow-students, in that degenerate period of French history.
One evening, when, much to his ennui, he had been betrayed into respectable society, and was assisting at a grand ball in the Faubourg St. Honoré, he happened to meet with a certain great statesman and philosopher, to whom his father had given him a letter of introduction. In the course of a few minutes' conversation accorded to him by this illustrious man, the latter, took particular notice of the ring, which the student, in taking off his right glove, showed to view.
He even requested to be allowed to examine it, and on handing it back to its owner, enquired whence he had procured it.
The great Comte smiled when he heard the student's answer. have found its effects very marvellous, I will engage,” said he. haps, by the way, your father has never told you the real history of this little object.”
“ Is there any history connected with it, your Excellency ?”
“Simply this. It was a symbol used by a secret society, composed entirely of women, to designate to each other the persons whom they wished to advance. The society had existed for some time, and fancied that they did great things, and preserved their secret. The notion of a body of women preserving a secret! In reality, they never met without our knowing, through our accredited spies in their body, all that passed. When I say we knew this, I mean we, the chiefs of departments ; the police, of course, were suffered to remain in ignorancethey would have spoilt all. The fact was, the society was useful to us at that time. They were legitimistes enragées. After the Restoration, we were obliged to put a stop to them, or rather, to give a finishing stroke to the institution, which was already tumbling to pieces. I believe that, during the first Revolution, it possessed some vitality ; but latterly the society had become a mere clique of soine twenty fashionable ladies, for the pushing of their favourites, and the furtherance of the most trivial objects. Scribe founded his play of La Camaraderie' in part upon what I told him of them. You should give this ring to your next new mistress, mon cher," added the Count, playfully, before moving on; it may, perhaps, form a slight additional inducement to her to run away from you, and as such, render you a great and lasting service."
The next day, Leon de Longjumeau entertained half-a-dozen of his best friends to a social dinner. The entrées were excellent, and the wine sparkled and foamed, like so much real champagne. Every one wondered whence the money to pay for this feast (at least, five francs a head), could have been procured. A few of the more observant noticed that their host had sat down without his watch-chain and topaz ring, and that, in place of the china ornaments that used to decorate the mantelpiece, there stood a row of wine-bottles, which were first emptied, and afterwards broken.
He is a respectable man now, having succeeded to his late father's property, of which, together with his health and morals, he takes the greatest possible care. His Sunday supper-parties rival those given by the Doctor, and unite the great geniuses and great fashionables of every country. The writers in the “TRAIN” are, of course, welcome, in both capacities; and to one of them, in a moment of after-Burgundy expansion, M. de Longjumeau related the story of his father's adventures, and of THE DEAD LADY'S RING.
PICTURES ON THE PAVEMENT.
BY GODFREY TURNER.
HYSICIAN, heal thyself !
There is a story which has been told of one Domenico, famous as a harlequin, for certain brief part of the eighteenth century; and, indeed, of two or three other gentlemen in the same serious line of life. The story comes from Harlequin's own land, Italy, where, it would seem, men sometimes laugh on the wrong side of their mouths, after a fashion not unknown among us.
It was not Harlequin, however, but a fellow-mime, whose dismal experience furnished the anecdote ; which, by the bye, is of much older date than the time of Signor Domenico. It represents a doctor prescribing for a case of hy
pochondria. Says be to his patient, CLB
“ You must seek recreation. You
must look abroad, and be amused. You must shake off these brain-sick fancies. You must divert your mind. You must positively put away your cares.
Go and see Scaramuccia.”
To whom the patient, very ruefully, makes reply“Alas ! I am Scaramuccia."
So you, not for yourselves, O bees, employ your time in the honeymaking business. So you, O zanies, continually grin and tumble; and—well ! let us hope that good children may like the fun. It is