The Champdoce Mystery
As the miner, who sets fire to the fuse and seeks shelter from the coming
explosion, so did Diana de Laurebourg return to her father's house after her visit
to Daumon. During dinner it was impossible for her to utter a word, and it was
with the greatest difficulty that she succeeded in swallowing a mouthful.
Fortunately neither her father nor mother took any notice of her. They had that
day received a letter announcing the news that their son, for whose future
prosperity they had sacrificed Diana, was lying dangerously ill in Paris, where he
was living in great style. They were in terrible affliction, and spoke of starting at
once, so as to be with him. They therefore expressed no surprise when, on
leaving the table, Diana pleaded a severe headache as an excuse for retiring to
her own room. When once she was alone, having dismissed her maid, she
heaved a deep sigh of relief. She never thought of retiring to bed, but throwing
open her window, leaned out with her elbow on the window-sill.
It seemed to her that Norbert would certainly make some effort to see her, or at
any rate by some means to let her know whether he had succeeded or failed.
"But I must be patient," murmured she, "for I can't hear anything until the
afternoon of to-morrow."
In spite, however, of her resolutions, patience fled from her mind, and as soon as
the servants had begun moving about, she went out into the garden and took up
a position which commanded a view of the highroad, but no one appeared. The
bell rang for breakfast. Again she had to seat herself at table with her parents,
and the terrible penance of the past evening had to be repeated. At three o'clock
she could endure the suspense no longer, and making her escape from the
Chateau, she went over to Daumon, who, she felt, must have obtained some
intelligence. Even if she found that he knew nothing, it would be a relief to speak
to him and to ask him when he thought that this terrible delay would come to an
end. But she got no comfort at Daumon's, for he had passed as miserable a night
as herself, and was nearly dead with affright. He had remained in his office all the
morning, starting at the slightest sound, and though he was as anxious as Diana
for information, he had only gone out a little before her arrival. He met
Mademoiselle Laurebourg on his return at the door of his cottage, and taking her
inside, he informed her that at a late hour the night before the doctor had been
sent for to Champdoce to attend the Duke, who was supposed to be dying. Then
he reproved her bitterly for her imprudence in visiting him.
"Do you wish," said he, "to show all Bevron that you and I are Norbert's
"What do you mean?" asked she.