Some men are wealthy. They own a carriage drawn by a pair of high-stepping
horses, and driven by a coachman in stylish livery; and as they pass by, leaning
back on comfortable cushions, they become the object of many an envious
glance. Sometimes, however, the coachman has taken a drop too much, and
upsets the carriage; perhaps the horses run away and a general smash ensues;
or, maybe, the hitherto fortunate owner, in a moment of absent-mindedness,
misses the step, and fractures his leg on the curbstone. Such accidents occur
every day; and their long list should make humble foot-passengers bless the
lowly lot which preserves them from such peril.
On learning the misfortune that had befallen M. d'Escorval, Lecoq's face wore
such an expression of consternation that the doorkeeper could not help laughing.
"What is there so very extraordinary about that I've told you?" he asked.
The detective did not speak the truth. The fact is, he had just been struck by the
strange coincidence of two events--the supposed murderer's attempted suicide,
and the magistrate's fall. Still, he did not allow the vague presentiment that flitted
through his mind to assume any definite form. For after all, what possible
connection could there be between the two occurrences? Then again, he never
allowed himself to be governed by prejudice, nor had he as yet enriched his
formulary with an axiom he afterward professed: "Distrust all circumstances that
seem to favor your secret wishes."
Of course, Lecoq did not rejoice at M. d'Escorval's accident; could he have
prevented it, he would have gladly done so. Still, he could not help saying to
himself that this stroke of misfortune would free him from all further connection