The Champdoce Mystery
Blade To Blade
Several times in the course of this interview Norbert de Champdoce had been on
the point of bursting into a furious passion, but he restrained himself from a
motive of self-pride; but now that his wife was no longer present, he showed a
savage intensity of purpose and a deadly earnestness that was absolutely
appalling. As he followed Croisenois down the great staircase, he kept repeating
the words, "Quick! quick! we have lost too much time already;" for he saw that a
mere trifle might upset all his plans--such as a servant returning home before the
others. When they reached the ground-floor, he led George into a by-room which
looked like an armory, so filled was it with arms of all kinds and nations.
"Here," said he, with a bitter sneer, "we can find, I think, what we want"; and
placing the candle he carried on the mantelpiece, he leaped upon the cushioned
seat that ran round the room, and took down from the wall several pairs of
duelling swords, and, throwing them upon the floor, exclaimed, "Choose your
George was an anxious as Norbert to bring this painful scene to a close, for
anything was preferable to this hideous state of suspense. The last despairing
glance of the Duchess had pierced his heart like a dagger thrust, and when he
saw Norbert thrust aside his trembling wife with such brutality, it was all he could
do to refrain from striking him down. He made no choice of weapons, but
grasped the nearest, saying,--
"One will do as well as another."
"We cannot fight in this darkness," said Norbert, "but I have a means to remedy
that. Come with me this way, so that we may avoid the observation of the porter."
They went into the stables, where he took up a large lantern, which he lighted.
"This," said he, "will afford ample light for our work."
"Ah, but the neighbors will see it, too; and at this hour a light in the garden is sure
to attract attention," observed George.
"Don't be afraid; my grounds are not overlooked."
They entered the garden, and soon reached the spot to which the Duke had
alluded. Norbert hung the lantern on the bough of a tree, and it gave the same
amount of light as an ordinary street lamp.
"We will dig the grave in that corner," observed he; "and when it is filled in, we
can cover it with that heap of stones over there."