The Mystery of Orcival
The mayor was mistaken. The drawing-room door opened suddenly, and a man of slender
form, who was struggling furiously, and with an energy which would not have been
suspected, appeared, held on one side by a gendarme, and on the other by a domestic.
Thc struggle had already lasted long, and his clothes were in great disorder. His new coat
was torn, his cravat floated in strips, the button of his collar had been wrenched off, and
his open shirt left his breast bare. In the vestibule and court were heard the frantic cries of
the servants and the curious crowd - of whom there were more than a hundred, whom the
news of the crime had collected about the gate, and who burned to hear, and above all to
This enraged crowd cried:
It is he! Death to the assassin! It is Guespin! See him!"
And the wretch, inspired by an immense fright, continued to struggle.
"Help!" shouted he hoarsely. "Leave me alone. I am innocent!"
He had posted himself against the drawing-room door, and they could not force him
"Push him," ordered the mayor, "push him."
It was easier to command than to execute. Terror lent to Guespin enormous force. But it
occurred to the doctor to open the second wing of the door; the support failed the wretch,
and he fell, or rather rolled at the foot of the table at which the judge of instruction was
seated. He was straightway on his feet again, and his eyes sought a chance to escape.
Seeing none - for the windows and doors were crowded with the lookers-on - he fell into
a chair. The fellow appeared the image of terror, wrought up to paroxysm. On his livid
face, black and blue, were visible the marks of the blows he had received in the struggle;
his white lips trembled, and he moved his jaws as if he sought a little saliva for his
burning tongue; his staring eyes were bloodshot, and expressed the wildest distress; his
body was bent with convulsive spasms. So terrible was this spectacle, that the mayor
thought it might be an example of great moral force. He turned toward the crowd, and
pointing to Guespin, said in a tragic tone:
"See what crime is!"
The others exchanged surprised looks.
"If he is guilty," muttered M. Plantat, "why on earth has he returned?"