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"Mon Dieu! what a sum," groaned the economist. "An umbrella, thirty francs."
"Worse and worse," said M. Morlot, as he turned to the sundries.
"A box of tooth-powder, two francs," continued our hero, smiling.
"Ah, that must have been at an English chemist's, I'm sure," remarked the other, in a cynical tone. "Is there anything else, monsieur?" he added.
"Let me see," said Trelane; "no, I think that's all. Stop, no; there is just one thing more; a sponge, fifteen francs."
"Just heavens!" cried the accountant-general. "In every single instance, monsieur has been cheated to an extent that passes belief; but in this last"-and he stopped for want of adequate words.
Next morning Trelane and his companion were at the terminus of the railway in good time. While Monsieur Morlot looked after the luggage, Trelane waited in the line of the passengers, who were gradually approaching the pigeon-hole from which the tickets were issued. At length his turn came, and he asked for two tickets, a first and a second class, for Bourges. Directly he had done so, he happened— though he hardly knew why-to turn suddenly round; there was Monsieur Tronchet standing just outside the barrier, with his neck stretched forward, listening with all his might.
The eyes of the two men met, and Monsieur le Lieutenant Tronchet, with a smile of a more atrocious character than ever, raised his military cap, and made a most profound and servile bow.
"Bon voyage, monsieur, bon voyage," said the lieutenant, with another smile; and with that he turned himself about, and in another moment was lost in the crowd.
A JOURNEY OF A STRANGE AND NOVEL
Ir is unnecessary to dwell on the particulars of so common-place an affair as a journey by railroad from Paris to a town some hundred and fifty miles distant.
Of course the subject which principally occupied the thoughts of our Englishman was that apparition at the booking-office of the ill-favoured countenance of Lieutenant Tronchet. Dwelling upon that and upon the fact of the same gentleman's presence in the café the night before, it was hardly possible for Trelane to come to any other conclusion than that which marked the gallant lieutenant as something little better than a spy. The conviction that Alexis had set his friend to watch the Englishman's movements was, indeed, well nigh irresistible.
It was, however, pretty certain that Lieutenant Tronchet had confined himself to ascertaining in what direction Trelane was going, and had not
attempted to follow him. Our Englishman got down several times in the course of the journey, and examined very carefully, and as far as he could, the different passengers by the train, but he could see nothing of the lieutenant.
Bourges is a long day's journey from Paris, and when Trelane arrived at his destination, it was too late to do anything in pursuit of the object he had in view. The great Hôtel de la France received both himself and M. Morlot, and after the latter had carefully balanced the day's accounts, it was not long before both master and man were fast asleep.
Next morning Trelane commenced his researches, and in these he found a most valuable coadjutor in Monsieur Morlot, a person of great astuteness and penetration, and at the same time one who was surrounded with a certain air of mystery, which gave him in the eyes of those among whom he prosecuted his inquiries, something of the air of an agent of police—a class of persons highly respected over the water. As far as the first stages of the inquiry went, but few difficulties presented themselves. Of course M. Morlot began by examining the authorities at the Hôtel de la France itself, endeavouring to find out whether two ladies, answering in name and description to the objects of his search, had been there recently. The Hôtel de la France is an immense establishment, and it took M. Morlot some time to satisfy himself completely
that no such persons as Madame d'Elmar and her niece had stayed there. He was, however, at last convinced, and then he betook himself to that other and rival establishment which goes by the name of the Hôtel de Paris.
Here he was not long in discovering that two ladies, answering in every respect to the description of Madame d'Elmar and her niece, had passed a couple of nights, about three weeks or a month ago. They had removed from the hotel, it seemed, to a lodging in the town, and there was little doubt, the maître d'hôtel said, that the man who drove them would remember where he put them down, and so Monsieur Morlot would be able to trace these ladies to his entire satisfaction.
There were really no difficulties in M. Morlot's way. The coachman's memory was in the freshest and most vigorous condition. He remembered driving the two ladies and the bonne to their destination as well as if it had happened yesterday. They went, he said, to a small house overlooking the grand promenade on the outskirts of the town. He would give M. Morlot the direction. The man was as good as his word, and M. Morlot soon returned to his master with the information that the two ladies, of whom he was in search, were inhabiting a small house in the Place de la Regence, No. 14.
And now that it actually did seem to be a probable