M. Segmuller certainly wished that a number had been branded upon the
enigmatical prisoner before him. And yet he did not by any means despair, and
his confidence, exaggerated though it might be, was not at all feigned. He was of
opinion that the weakest point of the prisoner's defense so far was his pretended
ignorance concerning the two women. He proposed to return to this subject later
on. In the mean while, however, there were other matters to be dealt with.
When he felt that his threat as regards the women had had time to produce its
full effect, the magistrate continued: "So, prisoner, you assert that you were
acquainted with none of the persons you met at the Poivriere."
"I swear it."
"Have you never had occasion to meet a person called Lacheneur, an individual
whose name is connected with this unfortunate affair?"
"I heard the name for the first time when it was pronounced by the dying soldier.
Poor fellow! I had just dealt him his death blow; and yet his last words testified to
This sentimental outburst produced no impression whatever upon the magistrate.
"In that case," said he, "I suppose you are willing to accept this soldier's
The man hesitated, as if conscious that he had fallen into a snare, and that he
would be obliged to weigh each answer carefully. "I accept it," said he at last. "Of
course I accept it."
"Very well, then. This soldier, as you must recollect, wished to revenge himself
on Lacheneur, who, by promising him a sum of money, had inveigled him into a
conspiracy. A conspiracy against whom? Evidently against you; and yet you