The Mystery of Orcival
M. Plantat, in speaking of M. Domini's impatience, did not exaggerate the truth. That
personage was furious; he could not comprehend the reason of the prolonged absence of
his three fellow-workers of the previous evening. He had installed himself early in the
morning in his cabinet, at the court-house, enveloped in his judicial robe; and he counted
the minutes as they passed. His reflections during the night, far from shaking, had only
confirmed his opinion. As he receded from the period of the crime, he found it very
simple and natural - indeed, the easiest thing in the world to account for. He was annoyed
that the rest did not share his convictions, and he awaited their report in a state of
irritation which his clerk only too well perceived. He had eaten his breakfast in his
cabinet, so as to be sure and be beforehand with M. Lecoq. It was a usless precaution; for
the hours passed on and no one arrived.
To kill time, he sent for Guespin and Bertaud and questioned them anew, but learned
nothing more than he had extracted from them the night before. One of the prisoners
swore by all things sacred that he knew nothing except what he had already told ; the
other preserved an obstinate and ferocious silence, confining himself to the remark: "I
know that I am lost; do with me what you please."
M. Domini was just going to send a mounted gendarme to Orcival to find out the cause of
the delay, when those whom he awaited were announced. He quickly gave the order to
admit them, and so keen was his curiosity, despite what he called his dignity, that he got
up and went forward to meet them.
"How late you are! "said he.
"And yet we haven't lost a minute," replied M. Plantat. "We haven't even been in bed."
"There is news, then? Has the count's body been found?"
"There is much news, Monsieur," said M. Lecoq. "But the count's body has not been
found, and I dare even say that it will not be found - for the very simple fact that he has
not been killed. The reason is that he was not one of the victims, as at first supposed, but
At this distinct declaration on M. Lecoq's part, the judge started in his seat.
"Why, this is folly!" cried he.
M. Lecoq never smiled in a magistrate's presence. "I do not think so," said he, coolly; "I
am persuaded that if Monsieur Domini will grant me his attention for half an hour I will
have the honor of persuading him to share my opinion."