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The Champdoce Mystery

A Sudden Check
Catenac seated himself at the writing-table without a word, concealing his anger
and jealousy beneath a careless smile. Mascarin was no longer the plotter
consulting with his confederates; he was the master issuing his orders to his
subordinates. He had now taken from a box some of those square pieces of
pasteboard, which he spent his time in reading over.
"Try and not miss one word of what I am saying," remarked he, bending his keen
glance upon Paul; then, turning to Catenac, he continued, "Can you persuade the
Duke de Champdoce and Perpignan to start for Vendome on Saturday?"
"Perhaps I may be able to do so."
"I want a Yes or No. Can you or can you not make these people go there?"
"Well, yes, then."
"Very well. Then, on going to Vendome, you will stop at the Hotel de Porte."
"Hotel de Porte," repeated Catenac, as he made a note of the name.
"Upon the day of your arrival at Vendome," continued Mascarin, "you could do
very little. Your time would be taken up in resting after your journey, and perhaps
you may make a few preliminary inquiries. It will be on Sunday that you will go to
the hospital together, and make the same inquires which the Duke formerly made
by himself. The lady superior is a woman of excellent taste and education, and
she will do all that she can to be useful to you. Through her you will be able to
obtain the boy's description, and the date on which he left the hospital to be
apprenticed to a tanner. She will tell you that, disliking the employment, he ran
away from them at the age of twelve and a half years, and that since then no
trace of him has been found. You will hear from her that he was a tall, well-built
lad, looking two years older than he really was, with an intelligent cast of feature,
and keen, bright eyes, full of health and good looks. He had on, on the day of his
disappearance, blue and white striped trousers, a gray blouse, a cap with no
peak, and a spotted silk cravat. Then to assist you still further in your researches
she will add that he carried in a bundle, enveloped in a red plaid cotton
handkerchief, a white blouse, a pair of gray cloth trousers, and a pair of new
Catenac watched Mascarin as he was speaking with an expression of ill-
concealed enmity.
"You are well informed, on my word," muttered he.