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La Constantin

Chapter 9
The accusation hanging over the head of Maitre Quennebert was a very serious one,
threatening his life, if proved. But he was not uneasy; he knew himself in possession of
facts which would enable him to refute it triumphantly.
The platonic love of Angelique de Guerchi for the handsome Chevalier de Moranges
had resulted, as we have seen, in no practical wrong to the Duc de Vitry. After her
reconciliation with her lover, brought about by the eminently satisfactory explanations
she was able to give of her conduct, which we have already laid before our readers, she
did not consider it advisable to shut her heart to his pleadings much longer, and the
consequence was that at the end of a year she found herself in a condition which it was
necessary to conceal from everyone. To Angelique herself, it is true, the position was
not new, and she felt neither grief nor shame, regarding the coming event as a means
of making her future more secure by forging a new link in the chain which bound the
duke to her. But he, sure that but for himself Angelique would never have strayed from
virtue's path, could not endure the thought of her losing her reputation and becoming an
object for scandal to point her finger at; so that Angelique, who could not well seem less
careful of her good name than he, was obliged to turn his song of woe into a duet, and
consent to certain measures being taken.
One evening, therefore, shortly before Maitre Quennebert's marriage, the fair lady set
out, ostensibly on a journey which was to last a fortnight or three weeks. In reality she
only made a circle in a post-chaise round Paris, which she re-entered at one of the
barriers, where the duke awaited her with a sedan-chair. In this she was carried to the
very house to which de Jars had brought his pretended nephew after the duel.
Angelique, who had to pay dearly for her errors, remained there only twenty-four hours,
and then left in her coffin, which was hidden in a cellar under the palace of the Prince de
Conde, the body being covered with quicklime. Two days after this dreadful death,
Commander de Jars presented himself at the fatal house, and engaged a room in which
he installed the chevalier.
This house, which we are about to ask the reader to enter with us, stood at the corner of
the rue de la Tixeranderie and the rue Deux-Portes. There was nothing in the exterior of
it to distinguish it from any other, unless perhaps two brass plates, one of which bore
the words MARIE LEROUX-CONSTANTIN, WIDOW, CERTIFIED MIDWIFE, and the
other CLAUDE PERREGAUD, SURGEON. These plates were affixed to the blank wall
in the rue de la Tixeranderie, the windows of the rooms on that side looking into the
courtyard. The house door, which opened directly on the first steps of a narrow winding
stair, was on the other side, just beyond the low arcade under whose vaulted roof
access was gained to that end of the rue des Deux-Portes. This house, though dirty,
mean, and out of repair, received many wealthy visitors, whose brilliant equipages
waited for them in the neighbouring streets. Often in the night great ladies crossed its
threshold under assumed names and remained there for several days, during which La
 
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