The Champdoce Mystery
A Stab In The Dark
September had now arrived; and though the weather was very bad, the Duke de
Champdoce, accompanied by his faithful old servant, Jean, left Paris on a visit to
his training stables. Having had a serious difference with Diana, he had made up
his mind to try whether a long absence on his part would not have the effect of
reducing her to submission, and at the same time remembering the proverb, that
"absence makes the heart grow fonder."
He had already been away two whole days, and was growing extremely anxious
at not having heard from Madame de Mussidan, when one evening, as he was
returning from a late inspection of his stud, he was informed that there was a
man waiting to see him. The man was a poor old fellow belonging to the place,
who eked out a wretched subsistence by begging, and executing occasional
"Do you want me?" asked the Duke.
With a sly look, the man drew from his pocket a letter.
"This is for you," muttered he.
"All right; give it to me, then."
"I was told to give it to you only in private."
"Never mind that; hand it over."
"Well, if I must, I must."
Norbert's sole thought was that this letter must have come from Diana, and
throwing the man a coin, hurried to a spot where it was light enough to read the
missive. He did not, however, recognize Diana's firm, bold hand on the envelope.
"Who the devil can this be from?" thought Norbert, as he tore open the outer
covering. The paper within was soiled and greasy, and the handwriting was of
the vilest description, it was full of bad spelling, and ran thus:--
"I hardly dare tell you the truth, and yet my conscience will give me no relief until I
do so. I can no longer bear to see a gentleman such as you are deceived by a
woman who has no heart or honorable feeling. Your wife is unfaithful to you, and
will soon make you a laughing stock to all. You may trust to this being true, for I
am a respectable woman, and you can easily find out if I am lying to you. Hide
yourself this evening, so that you may command a view of the side-door in the
wall of your garden, and between half-past ten and eleven you will see your