The Clique of Gold
As soon as he was alone, the doctor threw himself on his bed; but he could not sleep. He
had never in his life been so much puzzled. He felt as if this crime was the result of some
terrible but mysterious intrigue; and the very fact of having, as he fancied, raised a corner
of the veil, made him burn with the desire to draw it aside altogether.
"Why," he said to himself, "why might not the scamp whom we hold be the author of the
other two attempts likewise? There is nothing improbable in that supposition. The man,
once engaged, might easily have been put on board 'The Conquest;' and he might have
left France saying to himself that it would be odd indeed, if during a long voyage, or in a
land like this, he did not find a chance to earn his money without running much risk."
The result of his meditations was, that the chief surgeon appeared, at nine o'clock, at the
office of the state attorney. He placed the matter before him very fully and plainly; and,
an hour afterwards, he crossed the yard on his way to the prison, accompanied by a
magistrate and his clerk.
"How is the man the sailors brought here last night?" he asked the jailer.
"Badly, sir. He would not eat."
"What did he say when he got here?"
"Nothing. He seemed to be stupefied."
"You did not try to make him talk?"
"Why, yes, a little. He answered that he had done some mischief; that he was in despair,
and wished he were dead."
The magistrate looked at the surgeon as if he meant to say, "Just as I expected from what
you told me!" Then, turning again to the jailer, he said,--
"Show us to the prisoner's cell."
The murderer had been put into a small but tidy cell in the first story. When they entered,
they found him seated on his bed, his heels on the bars, and his chin in the palm of his
hands. As soon as he saw the surgeon, he jumped up, and with outstretched arms and
rolling eyes, exclaimed,--
"The officer has died!"
"No," replied the surgeon, "no! Calm yourself. The wound is a very bad one; but in a
fortnight he will be up again."