The extreme uncertainty of the result was another attraction for M. Segmuller's
investigating mind. Given the magnitude of the difficulties that were to be
overcome, he rightly considered that if his efforts proved successful, he would
have achieved a really wonderful victory. And, assisted by such a man as Lecoq,
who had a positive genius for his calling, and in whom he recognized a most
valuable auxiliary, he really felt confident of ultimate success.
Even on returning home after the fatiguing labors of the day he did not think of
freeing himself from the burden of responsibility in relation to the business he had
on hand, or of driving away care until the morrow. He dined in haste, and as soon
as he had swallowed his coffee began to study the case with renewed ardor. He
had brought from his office a copy of the prisoner's narrative, which he attentively
perused, not once or twice, but several times, seeking for some weak point that
might be attacked with a probability of success. He analyzed every answer, and
weighed one expression after another, striving, as he did so, to find some flaw
through which he might slip a question calculated to shatter the structure of
defense. He worked thus, far into the night, and yet he was on his legs again at
an early hour in the morning. By eight o'clock he was not merely dressed and
shaved, he had not merely taken his matutinal chocolate and arranged his
papers, but he was actually on his way to the Palais de Justice. He had quite
forgotten that his own impatience was not shared by others.
In point of fact, the Palais de Justice was scarcely awake when he arrived there.
The doors had barely opened. The attendants were busy sweeping and dusting;
or changing their ordinary garments for their official costumes. Some of them
standing in the windows of the long dressing room were shaking and brushing
the judges' and advocates' gowns; while in the great hall several clerks stood in a
group, chaffing each other while waiting for the arrival of the head registrar and
the opening of the investigation offices.