The Champdoce Mystery HTML version

"Rash Word, Rash Deed."
After her repulse by Norbert, Diana, with the cold chill of death in her heart, made
her way back to the Chateau of the De Laurebourgs, over the same road which
but a short time before she had traveled full of expectation and hope. The
sudden appearance of the Duke de Champdoce had filled her with alarm, but her
imagination was not of that kind upon which unpleasant impressions remain for
any long period; for after she had regained her room, and thrown aside her out-
door attire, and removed all signs of mud-stains, she once more became herself,
and even laughed a little rippling laugh at all her own past alarms. Overwhelmed
with the shame of her repulse, she had threatened Norbert; but as she reasoned
calmly, she felt that it was not he for whom she felt the most violent animosity. All
her hatred was reserved for that woman who had come between her and her
lover--for Marie de Puymandour. Some hidden feeling warned her that she must
look into Marie's past life for some reason for the rupture of her engagement with
Norbert, though the banns had already been published. This was the frame of
mind in which Diana was when the Viscount de Mussidan was introduced to her,
the friend of the brother whose untimely death had left her such a wealthy
heiress. He was tall and well made, with handsomely chiseled features; and,
endowed with physical strength and health, Octave de Mussidan had the
additional advantages of noble descent and princely fortune. Two women, both
renowned for their wit and beauty, his aunt and his mother, had been intrusted
with the education which would but enable him to shine in society.
Dispatched to Paris, with an ample allowance, at the age of twenty, he found
himself, thanks to his birth and connections, in the very center of the world of
fashion. At the sight of Mademoiselle de Laurebourg his heart was touched for
the first time. Diana had never been more charmingly fascinating than she was at
this period. Octave de Mussidan did not suit her fancy; there was too great a
difference between him and Norbert, and nothing would ever efface from her
memory the recollection of the young Marquis as he had appeared before her on
the first day of their meeting in the Forest of Bevron, clad in his rustic garb, with
the game he had shot dangling from his hand. She delighted to feast her
recollection, and thought fondly of his shyness and diffidence when he hardly
ventured to raise his eyes to hers. Octave, however, fell a victim at the first
glance he caught of Diana, and permitted himself to be swept away by the tide of
his private emotions, which upon every visit that he paid to Laurebourg became
more powerful and resistless. Like a true knight, who wishes that he himself
should gain the love of his lady fair, Octave addressed himself directly to Diana,
and after many attempts succeeded in finding himself alone with her, and then he
asked her if she could permit him to crave of her father, the Marquis de
Laurebourg, the honor of her hand. This appeal surprised her, for she had been
so much absorbed in her own troubles that she had not even suspected his love
for her. She was not even frightened at his declaration, as is the patient when the
surgeon informs him that he must use the knife. She glanced at De Mussidan
strangely as he put this question to her, and after a moment's hesitation, replied
that she would give him a reply the next day. After thinking the matter over, she