Read CHAPTER VII - The “Duc de Nevers” of True Stories of Crime From the District Attorney Office, free online book, by Arthur Train, on

    “And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper, understanding, taste,
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill.” 
       ­“The Task” ­COWPER.

One morning there lay on my desk a note finely written in pencil and dated: 



    Will you be so gracious as to extend to the undersigned the courtesy
    of a private interview in your office?  I have a communication of the
    highest importance to make to you.



Across the street in the courtyard the prisoners were taking their daily exercise.  Two by two they marched slowly around the enclosure in the centre of which a small bed of geraniums struggled bravely in mortal combat with the dust and grime of Centre Street.  Some of the prisoners walked with heads erect and shoulders thrown back, others slouched along with their arms dangling and their chins resting upon their chests.  When one of them failed to keep up with the rest, a keeper, who stood in the shade by a bit of ivy in a corner of the wall, got after him.  Somehow the note on the desk did not seem to fit any one of the gentry whom I could see so distinctly from my window.  The name, too, did not have the customary Tombs sound ­De Nevers? De Nevaire ­I repeated it slowly to myself with varying accent.  It seemed as though I had known the name before.  It carried with it a suggestion of the novels of Stanley J. Weyman, of books on old towns and the chateaux and cathedrals of France.  I wondered who the devil Charles Julius Francis de Nevers could be.

Of course, if one answered all the letters one gets from the Tombs it would keep a secretary busy most of the working hours of the day, and if one acceded to all the various requests the prisoners make to interview them personally or to see their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sweethearts and wives, a prosecutor might as well run an intelligence office and be done with it.  But as I re-read the note I began to have a sneaking feeling of curiosity to see what Charles Julius Francis de Nevers looked like, so I departed from the usual rule of my office, rang for a messenger and directed him to ascertain the full name of the prisoner from whom the note had come, the crime with which he was charged, and the date of his incarceration, also to supply me at once with copies of the indictment and the complaint; then I instructed him to have De Nevers brought over as soon as he could be got into shape.

I had almost forgotten that I was expecting a visitor when, a couple of hours later, an undersized deputy-sheriff entered my office and reported that he had a prisoner in his custody for whom I had sent to the Tombs.  Glancing up from my desk I saw standing behind his keeper a tall and distinguished-looking man in fashionably cut garments, whose well shaped head and narrow face, thin aquiline nose, and carefully trimmed pointed beard seemed to bespeak somewhat different antecedents from those of the ordinary occupant of a cell in the City Prison.  I should have instinctively risen from my chair and offered my aristocratic looking visitor a chair had not the keeper unconsciously brought me to a realization of my true position by remarking: 

“Say, Counsellor, I guess while you’re talking to his nibs I’ll step out into the hall and take a smoke.”

“Certainly,” said I, glad to be rid of him, “I will be responsible for the ­er ­prisoner.”

Then, as the keeper hesitated in putting his suggestion into execution, I reached into the upper right-hand drawer of my desk, produced two of what are commonly known in the parlance of the Criminal Courts Building as “cigars” and handed them to him.

“Well,” said I, after the keeper had departed closing the door behind him and leaving the visitor standing in the middle of the office, “I have sent for you as you requested and shall be glad to hear anything you have to say.  Of course any communication which you may see fit to make to me is voluntary and, in the event for your trial for ­er ­any crime with which you may be charged, may be used against you.”  I had a certain feeling of embarrassment in making this customary declaration since the whole idea of this person being a criminal was so incongruous as to put a heavy strain on one’s credulity.  However, I recalled that a certain distinguished Englishman of letters has declared “that there is no essential incongruity between crime and culture.”  He acknowledged my remark with a slight smile of half-amused deprecation and with a courteous bow took the seat to which I motioned him.

“I wish to thank you,” he said in excellent English marked by the slightest possible suggestion of a foreign accent, “for your exceeding courtesy in responding so quickly to my request.  I am aware,” he added, “that it is unusual for prisoners to seek interviews with the ­what shall I say ­juge d’instruction, as we call him, but,” he added with a smile, “I think you will find that mine is an unusual affair.”

I had already begun to think so, and reaching to the upper drawer on the left-hand side of my desk, I produced from the box reserved for judges, prominent members of the bar, borough presidents, commissioners of departments and distinguished foreigners, a Havana of the variety known in our purlieus as a “good cigar,” and tendered the same to him.

“Ah,” he said, “many thanks, merci, non, I do not smoke the cigar.  M’sieu’ perhaps has a cigarette?  M’sieu’ will pardon me if I say that this is the first act of kindness which has been accorded to me since my incarceration three weeks ago.”

Somewhere I found a box of cigarettes, one of which he removed, gracefully holding it between fingers which I noticed were singularly white and delicate, and lighting it with the air of a diplomat at an international conference.

“You can hardly appreciate,” he ventured, “the humiliation to which I, an officer and a gentleman of France, have been subjected.”

I lighted the cigar which he had declined and with mingled feelings of embarrassment, distrust and curiosity inquired if his name was Charles Julius Francis de Nevers.  I wish it were possible to describe the precise look which flashed across his face as he answered my question.

“That is my name,” he said, “or at least rather, I am Charles Julius Francis, and I am of Nevers.  May I speak confidentially?  Were my family to be aware of my present situation they would never recover from the humiliation and disgrace connected with it.”

“Certainly,” said I, “anything which you may tell me which you wish to be kept confidential I will treat as such, provided, of course, that what you tell me is the truth.”

“You shall hear nothing else,” he replied.  Then leaning back in his chair he said simply and with great dignity, “I am by direct inheritance today the Duc de Nevers, my father, the last duke, having died in the month of February, 1905.”

Any such announcement would ordinarily have filled me with amusement, but that the gentleman sitting before me should declare himself to be a duke or even a prince seemed entirely natural.

“Indeed!” said I, unable to think of any more appropriate remark.

“Yes,” said De Nevers, “and M’sieu’ is naturally surprised that one of my distinguished position should be now a tenant of an American jail.  But if M’sieu’ will do me the honor of listening for a few moments I will explain my present extraordinary predicament.  I am Charles Julius Francois, eldest son of the late Oscar Odon, Duc de Nevers, Grand Commander of the Legion of Honor, and Knight of the Garter.  I was born in Paris in the year 1860 at 148 Rue Champs Elysee; my mother, the dowager duchess, is now residing at the Chateau de Nevers in the Province of Nièvre in France.  My sister Jeanne married Prince Henry of Aremberg, and now lives in Brussells at the Palais d’Aremberg, situated at the corner of the Rue de Régence near the Palais de Justice.  My sister Louise, the Countess of Kilkenny, is living in Ireland.  My sister Camille married the Marquis of Londonderry and is residing in London at the present time.  My sister Evelyn married the Earl of Dudley and is living in Dublin.  I have one other sister, Marie, who is with my mother.  My brother, Count Andre de Nevers is at present Naval Attache at Berlin.  My brother Fernand is an officer of artillery stationed in Madagascar, and my youngest brother Marcel is also an officer of artillery attached to the 8th Regiment in Nancy.  I make this statement by way of introduction in order that you may understand fully my situation.  During my childhood I had an English tutor in Paris, and when I reached the age of ten years I was sent by my father to the College Louis Grand where I took the course of Science and Letters and graduated from the Lycee with the degree of Bachelor on the 5th of August, 1877.  Having passed my examination for the Polytechnic I remained there two years, and on my graduation received a commission as Sous-Lieutenant of Engineers, and immediately entered the Application School at Fontainebleau, where I was graduated in 1881 as Lieutenant of Engineers and assigned to the First Regiment of Engineers at Versailles ­”

De Nevers paused and exhaled the cigarette smoke.

“M’sieu’ will pardon me if I go into detail for only in that way will he be convinced of the accuracy of what I am telling him.”

“Pray, go on,” said I.  “If what you tell me is true your case is extraordinary indeed.”

“My first act of service,” continued De Nevers, “was on the 10th of August when I was sent to Tonkin.  I will not trouble you with the details of my voyage on the transport to China, but will simply state that I was wounded in the engagement at Yung Chuang on the 7th of November of the same year and had the distinction of receiving the Cross of the Legion of Honor therefor.  I was immediately furloughed back to France, where I entered the Superior School of War and took my Staff Major brevet.  At the same time I seized the opportunity to follow the course of the Sorbonne and secured the additional degree of Doctor of Science.  I had received an excellent education in my youth and always had a taste for study, which I have taken pains to pursue in whatever part of the world I happened to be stationed.  As a result I am able to converse with considerable fluency in English, as perhaps you have already observed, as well as in Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Arabic, and, to a considerable extent, in Japanese.

“In 1883 I was sent to Berlin as Military Attache, but was subsequently recalled because I had violated the rules of international etiquette by fighting three duels with German officers.  The Ambassador at this time was Charles de Courcel.  You will understand that there was no disgrace connected with my recall, but the necessity of defending my honor was incompatible with the rules of the service, and after fifteen months in Berlin I was remanded to Versailles with the rank of First Lieutenant, under Colonel Quinivet.  Here I pursued my studies and was then ordered to the Soudan, whence, after being wounded, I was sent to Senegal.  Here I acted as Governor of the City of St. Louis.  As you are doubtless aware, the climate of Senegal is exceedingly unhealthy.  I fell ill with a fever and was obliged to return to France where I was assigned to the office of the General Staff Major in Paris.  At the opening of the war with Dahomey in 1892, I was sent in command of the Engineers of the Corps Expeditional, and on the 17th of November of that year was severely wounded at Dakar in Dahomey, having received a spear cut through the lungs.  On this occasion I had the distinction of being promoted as Major of Engineers and was created an Officer of the Legion of Honor on the battle field.  The wound in my lungs was of such a serious character that Colonel Dodds sent me back once more to France on furlough, and President Carnot was kind enough to give me his personal commendation for my services.

“I was now thirty-three years old and had already attained high rank in my profession.  I had had opportunity to pursue studies in chemistry, medicine and science, and my only interest was in the service of my country and in qualifying myself for my future duties.  My life up to that time had been uniformly happy; I was the eldest son and beloved both of my father and mother.  My social position gave me the entree to the best of society wherever I happened to be.  As yet, however, I had never been in love.  At this time occurred the affair which in a measure changed my career.  The wound in my lungs was slow in healing, and at the earnest invitation of my sister, Lady Londonderry, I went to London.  At that time she was living in Belgravia Square.  It was here I met my first wife.”

De Nevers paused.  The cigarette had gone out.  For the first time he seemed to lose perfect control of himself.  I busied myself with some papers until he should have regained his self possession.

“You will understand,” he said in a few moments, “these things are not governed by law and statute.  The woman with whom I fell in love and who was in every respect the equal in intellectual attainments, beauty and charm of manner of my own people, was the nursery governess in my sister’s household.  She returned my affection and agreed to marry me.  The proposed marriage excited the utmost antipathy on the part of my family; my fiancee was dismissed from my sister’s household, and I returned to Paris with the intention of endeavoring by every means in my power to induce my father to permit me to wed the woman I loved.  It is doubtless difficult for M’sieu’ to appreciate the position of a French officer.  In America ­Ah ­America is free, one can marry the woman one loves, but in France no officer can marry without the consent of the Minister of War and of the President of the Republic; and more than that he cannot marry unless his intended wife possesses a dowry of at least fifty thousand francs which must be deposited with the Minister of War for investment.”

“In spite of the fact that I enjoyed the confidence and friendship of President Carnot the latter, at my father’s request, refused me permission to marry.  There was no choice left for me but to resign my commission, and this I did.  I returned to England and was married at St. Thomas’s Church, London, on the 21st of June, 1893.

“My education as an engineer had been of the most highly technical and thorough character, and I had every reason to believe that in America I could earn a comfortable living.  My wife and I, therefore, sailed for America immediately after our marriage.  I first secured a position in some iron works in South Boston, and for a time lived happily.  A boy, Oscar, named after my father, was born to us while we were living in the town of Winchester near Boston.  Another son was born a year later in the same place, and still a third in Pittsburgh, where I had gone to assume the position of general foreman of the Homestead Steel Works and assistant master mechanic of the Carnegie Steel Company.  I rapidly secured the confidence of my employers and was sent upon several occasions to study new processes in different parts of the country.  During one of my vacations we returned to England and visited my wife’s people, who lived in Manchester; here she died on the 17th of June, 1901.”

De Nevers paused again and it was some moments before he continued.

“After the death of my wife my father expressed himself as ready for a reconciliation, but although this took place I had not the heart to remain in France.  I liked America and had attained distinction in my profession.  I therefore expressed my intention of returning to continue my career as an engineer, but at the earnest solicitation of my father, left my three children with my parents.  They are now living at the chateau of my mother at Nièvre.

“I was sent to Chicago to study a new blast furnace, and two years later, when Mr. Schwab organized the Russo-American Company at Mariopool, South Siberia, he offered me the position of general manager, which I accepted.  Here I remained until November, 1904, when all the American engineers were arrested and imprisoned on the order of General Kozoubsky of the Russian Engineers, who at the same time shot and murdered my assistant, Thomas D. McDonald, for refusing to allow him to remove pig iron from the storehouse without giving a receipt for it.  Ambassador McCormick secured our immediate release, and we returned to the States.  M’sieu’ has no idea of the power of these Russian officers.  The murder of my assistant was of the most brutal character.  Kozoubsky came to my office and demanded the iron, but having secured it, refused to sign the receipt which McDonald presented to him.  McDonald said:  ’You shall not remove the iron if you do not sign the receipt.’  As he spoke the words the General drew his revolver and shot him down like a dog.

“I returned to America in January, 1905, and have since then been doing work as a consulting engineer.  Last January I visited my parents in Paris at their home at 148 Champs Elysee.  You have doubtless seen the mansion with its two gates and black railing of decorative iron.  I had no sooner returned to America than I received a cable announcing the death of my father.”

De Nevers removed from his breast pocket a bundle of carefully folded papers from which he produced a sheet of heavy stationery with a deep border of mourning and a large black cross at the top, of which the following is a copy: 

MM.  Her Grace the Duchess Dowager of Nevers; his Grace the Duke Charles J. F. of Nevers and his children Oscar, Hilda and John; their Highnesses the Prince and Princess Henry of Aremberg; Captain the Count Andre of Nevers; Captain the Count Fernand of Nevers; the Earl and Countess of Kilkenny; the Marquis and Marchioness of Londonderry; the Earl and Countess of Dudley; the Countess Marie of Nevers; Lieutenant the Count Marcel of Nevers have the sorrow to announce the subite death at the family seat at Nevers (France), of His Grace Oscar Odon, Duke of Nevers, Grand Commander of the Legion of Honor, Knight of the Garter.  Their husband, father, grandfather and uncle beloved.

    Masonic burial shall take place at Nevers on Tuesday, February 21,

    New York, February 20, 1905.

    U. S. A.

The announcement was carefully engraved and was of an expensive character, and I read it with considerable interest.

“Does M’sieu’ care to see the photographs of my family?  Here,” producing a photograph of a gentleman and lady and a group of children, “is my wife with the three children, taken in London just before she died.”

Another group, bearing the trade-mark of a Parisian photographer, exhibited a distinguished looking man surrounded by a group of many children of varying ages.

“These,” said De Nevers, “are my father and my brothers and sisters.”

Then came photographs of Lady Londonderry and the Earl and Countess of Dudley.  My interest in my visitor’s story had for the moment completely driven from my mind the real object of the interview, which, ostensibly, was to explain the reason for his incarceration.  His straightforward narrative carried absolute conviction with it; that he was the legitimate Duc de Nevers I accepted without hesitation; that he was a man of education, culture and many accomplishments, was self evident.

“You have had an extraordinary career,” I ventured.

“Yes,” he replied, “it has been a life of action and I may say of suffering.  Permit me to show you the certificate of my general that what I have told you is accurate.”

And De Nevers unfolded from his pocket a document, bearing a seal of the French Ministry of War, which read as follows: 

    République FRANCAISE

    Ministère DE LA GUERRE

    CABINET DU Ministère


    PARIS, October 24, 1901.

    To Whom It May Concern

I, George Andre, General of Division of Engineers, Minister of War of the French Republic, certify that the Lieutenant Colonel Charles Jules Comte Francois de Nevers, is connected with the French Army, since the 10th day of September, 1877, and that the following is a true copy of his record: 

    Born in Paris the 10th of June, 1859.

    Graduated, Bachelor of Sciences and of Letters, from the Lycee,
    Louis Grand, the 5th of August, 1877.

    Received first as Chief of Promotion of the National Polytechnic
    School of France, the 10th of September, 1877.

    Graduated with the greatest distinction from the above school the
    1st of September, 1879.

    Entered at the Application School of Military Engineers at
    Fontainebleau as Second Lieutenant, Chief of Promotion the 15th of
    September, 1879.

    Graduated as Lieutenant of Engineers with great distinction, the 1st
    of August, 1881, and sent to the First Regiment of Engineers at

    Sent to Tonkin the 1st day of August, 1881.

    Wounded at Yung Chuang (Tonkin) the 7th of November, 1881.

    Inscribed on the Golden Book of the French Army the 10th of
    November, 1881.

    Made Knight of the Legion of Honor the 10th of November, 1881.

    Wounded at Suai Sing the 4th of January, 1882.

    Sent to Switzerland in Mission where he was graduated at the Zurich
    Polytechnic University as Mechanical Engineer, 1884.

    Sent the 2nd of January, 1885, to Soudan.

    Wounded there twice.

    Made Captain of Engineers the 3rd of June, 1885.

    Called back to France the 6th of September, 1885, sent in Mission in
    Belgium, where he was graduated as Electrical Engineer from the
    Montefiore University at Liege.  Made officer of Academy.

    Sent in Gabon, the 2nd of May, 1887.  Wounded twice.  Constructed
    there the Military Railroad.

    Sent to Senegal as Commander the 6th of July, 1888, to organize
    administration.  Wounded once.

    Called back and sent to Germany the 7th of December, 1889.

    Called back from Germany and assigned to the Creusot as Assistant
    Chief Engineer.

    Sent to Dahomey, the 1st of January, 1891.  Wounded the 19th of
    November, 1892, at Dahomey.  Made Major of Engineers on the battle
    field.  Made Officer of the Legion of Honor, on the battle field.

By special decision of the Senate and the Chamber of Representatives the name of Commandant Charles Jules Comte Francois de Nevers is embroidered the 21st of November, on the flag of the Regiment of Engineers.

    Called back and sent to Algeria, the 3rd of January, 1893.

    Made Ordinance of the President Carnot, the 5th of February, 1893.

    Sent to the Creusot the 1st of July, 1893, as director.

    Sent to Madagascar the 2nd of April, 1894, in command of the

    Wounded the 12th of July, 1894, at Majungua.

    Made Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers the 12th of July, 1894, on the
    battle field.

    Proposed as Commander of the Legion of Honor on the same date.

    Called back and sent as Ordinance Officer of the General in Chief in
    Command in Algeria, the 4th of March, 1896.

    Sent to America in special mission to the Klondike the 7th of July,

    Put on disponsibility Hors Cadre on his demand the 1st of
    November, 1897.

    Made Honorary Member of the National Defences.  Commissioned the 28th
    of January, 1898.

    Made Honorary Member of the Commission on Railroads, Canals, and
    Harbors, the 7th of July, 1899.

    Made Honorary Member of the Commission on Bridges and Highways the
    14th of July, 1900.

    Made Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences, the 14th of
    July, 1901.

    Made Commander of the Legion of Honor the 22nd of October, 1901.

I will say further that the Lieutenant Colonel Charles Jules Comte Francois de Nevers, is regarded as one of our best and most loyal officers, that he has the good will and best wishes of the government and of all his fellow officers, and is considered by everybody as a great worker and a thoroughly honest man.  I personally will be pleased to do anything in my power to help him in any business he may undertake, and can recommend him to everybody as a responsible and trustworthy Engineer, knowing him for the last twenty-four years.


    Minister of War.


The document seemed in substance merely a repetition of what De Nevers had already told me, and I handed it back to him satisfied of its correctness.  But public business is public business, and if the Duc de Nevers had anything to communicate to me in my official character it was time for him to do so.

“Well, Duke,” said I, not knowing very well how otherwise to address him, “do you desire to communicate anything to me in connection with your present detention in the Tombs?”

“Ah,” he said with a gesture of deprecation, “I can hardly understand that myself.  Perhaps M’sieu’ has the papers?  Ah, yes, I see they are on his desk.  M’sieu’ will observe that I am accused of the crime of ­what is it called in English?  Ah, yes, perjury, but I assure M’sieu’ that it is entirely a mistake.”

I picked up the indictment and found that the Grand Jury of the County of New York accused one Charles de Nevers of the crime of perjury committed as follows: 

That one William Douglas having been arrested by William W. Crawford, a member of the Police force of the City of New York, upon the charge of having violated the motor vehicle law of the State of New York [ordinance against speeding] he, the said Charles de Nevers, had then and there offered himself to go bail for the said Douglas, and did sign a certain written undertaking called a bond for the appearance of the said Douglas before the Magistrate, wherein he swore that he owned a certain house and lot situate at 122 West 117th Street, in the County of New York, which was free and clear of all incumbrances and of the value of not less than twenty thousand dollars,

Whereas in truth and in fact he the said Charles de Nevers did not own the said house and lot which did not then and there stand in the name of him the said Charles de Nevers, but was the property of one Helen M. Bent, and so recorded in the Registry of Deeds.

Which, said the grand jury, Charles de Nevers then and there well knew.  And so they accused him of feloniously, knowingly, wilfully, corruptly, and falsely committing the crime of perjury against the form of the statute in such cases made and provided, and against the peace of the People of the State of New York and their dignity.

And this they did over the signature of William Travers Jerome, District Attorney.

“How did this happen?” I inquired, hardly believing my senses.  “Was it a fact that you made this false statement to the Police for the purpose of securing bail for Mr. Douglas?”

De Nevers leaned forward and was about to answer when a messenger entered the room and stated that I was wanted in the court.

“Another time, if M’sieu’ will permit me,” said he.  “I have much to thank you for.  If M’sieu’ will give me another hearing it shall be my pleasure to explain fully.”

I rose and summoned the keeper.  De Nevers bowed and offered his hand, which I took.

“I have much to thank you for!” he repeated.

As I hurried out of the room I encountered the keeper outside the door.

“Say, Counsellor, what sort of a ‘con’ was he throwin’ into you?” he inquired with a wink.

De Nevers was well inside my office, looking drearily out of my window towards the courtyard in the Tombs where his fellows were still pursuing their weary march.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Why, who did his nibs tell you he was?”

“The Duc de Nevers,” I replied.

“Say,” said O’Toole, “you don’t mean you swallowed that, do you?  Do you know what the feller did?  Why, one afternoon when a swell guy and his girl were out in their gas wagon a mounted cop in the park pulls them in and takes them over to the 57th Street Court.  Well, just as me friend is taking them into the house along walks this Charley Nevers wid his tall silk hat and pearl handle cane, wid a flower in his buttonhole, and his black coat tails dangling around his heels, just like Boni de Castellane, and says he, ‘Officer,’ says he, ’may I inquire what for you’re apprehending this gentleman and lady?’ says he.  With that me friend hands him out some strong language for buttin’ in, and Charley is so much shocked at the insult to himself and the lady that he steps in before the Sergeant and offers to go bond for Douglas, just to go the cop one better, givin’ the Sergeant the same line of drip that he has been handin’ out to us in the Tombs, about his bein’ the son of Oscar, the Duc de Nevers, and related to all the crowned heads in Europe.  Then he ups and signs the bail bond for a house and lot that he has never seen in his life.  And here he is up agin it.  An’ it’s a good stiff one His Honor will be handin’ out to him to my way of thinkin’, for these high fallutin’ foreigners has got to be put a stop to, and Charley Nevers is a good one to begin on.”

“I think you’re wrong, O’Toole,” said I.  “But we can tell better later on.”

All that day my thoughts kept reverting to the Duc de Nevers.  One thing was more than certain and that was that of all the various personages whom I had met during my journey through the world none was more fitted to be a duke than he.  I was obliged to confess that during my hour’s interview I had felt myself to be in the company of a superior being, one of different clay from that of which I was composed, a man of better brain, and better education, vastly more rounded and experienced, a cultivated citizen of the world, who would be at home in any company no matter how distinguished and who would rise to any emergency.  As I ate my dinner at the club the name De Nevers played mistily in the recesses of my memory. De Nevers!  Surely there was something historic about it, some flavor of the days of kings and courtiers.  Smoking my cigar in the library I fell into a reverie in which the Tombs, with its towers and grated windows, figured as a gray chateau of old Tourraine, and Charles Julius Francis in hunting costume as a mediaeval monseigneur with a hooded falcon on his wrist.  I awoke to find directly in my line of vision upon the shelf of the alcove in front of me the solid phalanx of the ten volumes of Larousse’s “Grand Dictionaire Universe du XIX Siecle,” and I reached forward and pulled down the letter “N.”  “Nevers” ­there it was ­“Capitol of the Department of Nièvre.  Ducal palace built in 1475.  Charles III de Gonzagne, petit-fils de Charles II,” had sold the duchy of Nevers and his other domains in France to Cardinal Mazarin “par acte du Jul. 11, 1659.”  So far so good.  The cardinal had left the duchy by will to Philippe Jules Francois Mancini, his nephew, who had died May 8, 1707.  Ah! Julius Francis!  It was like meeting an old friend.  Philippe Jules Francois Mancini.  Mazarin had obtained letters confirming him in the possession of the Duchy of Nivernais and Donzois in 1720.  Then he had died in 1768, leaving the duchy to Louis Jules Barbon Mancini-Mozarini.  This son who was the last Duc of Nivernais, had died in 1798!  “He was the last of the name,” said Larousse.  I rubbed my eyes.  It was there fast enough ­“last of the name.”  Something was wrong.  Without getting up I rang for a copy of “Burke’s Peerage.”

“Londonderry, Marquess of, married Ocnd, 1875, Lady Theresa Susey Helen, Lady of Grace of St. John of Jerusalem, eldest daughter of the 19th Earl of Shrewsbury.”  Dear me!  “Dudley, Earl of, married September 14, 1891, Rachael, Lady of Grace of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, youngest daughter of Charles Henry Gurney.”  I closed the book and began to think, and the more I thought the more I wondered.  There really didn’t seem particular need of going further.  If the fellow was a fraud, he was a fraud, that was all.  But how in Heaven’s name could a man make up a story like that!  That night I dreamed once more of the ducal palace of Nivernais, only its courtyard resembled that of the Tombs and many couples walked in a straggling line beneath its walls.

A day or two passed and I had heard no more of the Duc Charles Julius when one afternoon a lady called at my office and sent in her name as Mrs. de Nevers.  She proved to be an attractive young woman a little over twenty, dressed in black, whose face showed that she had suffered more than a little.  She explained that her husband was confined in the Tombs on a charge of perjury.  But that was not all ­he was worse than a perjurer.  He was an impostor ­a bigamist.  He had another wife living somewhere in England ­in Manchester, she thought.  Oh, it was too terrible.  He had told her that he was the Count Charles de Nevers, eldest son of the Duc de Nevers ­in France, you know.  And she had believed him.  He had had letters to everybody in Montreal, her home, and plenty of money and beautiful clothes.  He had dazzled her completely.  The wedding had been quite an affair and presents had come from the Duke and Duchess of Nevers, from the Marchioness of Londonderry and from the Countess of Dudley.  There were also letters from the Prince and Princess of Aremberg (in Belgium) and the Counts Andre and Fernand of Nevers.  It had all been so wonderful and romantic!  Then they had gone on their wedding journey and had been ecstatically happy.  In Chicago, they had been received with open arms.  That was before the death of the Duke ­yes, her mourning was for the Duke.  She smiled sadly.  I think she still more than half believed that she was a duchess ­and she deserved to be if ever any girl did.  Then all of a sudden their money had given out and the Duke had been arrested for not paying their hotel bill.  Perhaps I would like to see a newspaper clipping?  It was dreadful!  She was ashamed to be seen anywhere after that.  She had even been obliged to pawn his cross of the Legion of Honor, the Leopold Cross of Belgium, and another beautiful decoration which he had been accustomed to wear when they went out to dinner.  This was the clipping: 



Chicago, Ja. ­“Count Charles Julius Francois de Nevers” was in the Police court to-day for defrauding the Auditorium Annex of a board bill.  The Count came to the French Consul, M. Henri Meron, amply supplied with credentials.  He posed as Consulting Engineer of the United States Steel Corporation.  He was introduced into all the clubs, including the Alliance Francaise, where he was entertained and spoke on literature.

    He was accompanied by a charming young “Countess,” and the honors
    showered upon them and the adulation paid by society tuft-hunters
    was something they will never forget.

    They returned the entertainments.  The Count borrowed several
    thousand dollars.

    President Furber, of the Olympic Games, said to-day of the “Count:” 

“This man confided to me that he had invented a machine for perpetual motion, the chief difficulty of which was that it accumulated energy so fast that it could not be controlled.  He asked me to invest in some of his schemes, which I refused to do.”

    The fate of the Count is still pending and he was led back to a
    cell.  He has been a week behind the bars.  The “Countess” is in

“The Countess is me,” she explained.

“Was he sent to prison?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she answered.  “You see they really couldn’t tell whether he was a Count or not, so they had to let him go.”

“He ought to be hung!” I cried.

“I really think he ought,” she answered.  “You see it is quite embarrassing, because legally I have never been married at all, have I?”

“I don’t know,” I answered, lying like a gentleman.  “Time enough to look that up later.”

“I found out afterwards,” she said, apparently somewhat encouraged, “that his first wife was a nurse maid in London.”

“Yes,” said I, “he told me so himself.”

Just then there came a knock at my door and O’Toole appeared.

“How are you, Counsellor,” he said with a grin.  “You know Charley Nevers, well, av all the pious frauds!  Say, Counsellor, ain’t he the cute feller!  What do you suppose, now?  I got his record to-day.  Cast yer eye over it.”

I did.  This is it: 


    No.  B 7721

    The Central Office,

    Bureau of Detectives,

    Police Department of the City of New York,

    300 Mulberry Street.

Name........................Charles Francois

Alias.......................Count de Nevers

Date of Arrest..............1903

Place of Arrest.............London, England

Cause of Arrest.............False Pretenses

Name of Court...............Sessions

To what Prison..............Penal Servitude

Term of Imprisonment........Eighteen months.

    REMARKS:  Fraudulently obtained motor-car in London under pretense
    that he was Charles Duke de Nevers, son of Oscar, Prince de Nevers.”

“So he’s an ex-convict!” I exclaimed.

“He’s more than that!” cried O’Toole.  “He’s a bir-rd!”

I turned to Mrs. de Nevers or whoever she legally was.

“How did he come to do such a foolish thing as to offer to go on the bail bond of a perfect stranger?  What good could it do him?  He was sure to be caught.”

“I don’t know,” said she.  “He was always doing things like that.  He wanted to seem fine and grand, I guess.  We always travelled in style.  Why, the afternoon he signed the bond he came home and told me how the police had been troubling a gentleman who had a lady with him in an automobile and how he was able to settle the whole affair without the slightest difficulty and send them on their way.  He was quite pleased about it.”

“But why do you suppose be did it?”

“He just thought he’d do ’em a favor,” suggested O’Toole, “and in that way get in wid ’em an’ take their money later, mebbe!”

“Who is he?  Do you know?” I asked the girl.

“I haven’t the vaguest idea!” she sighed.

A week later Charles Julius Francis stood at the bar of justice convicted of perjury.  His degradation had wrought no change in the dignity of his bearing or the impassiveness of his general appearance, and he received the sentence of the Court without a tremor, and with shoulders thrown back and head erect as befitted a scion of a noble house.

“There’s just one thing for me to do with you, Charles Francis,” said the Judge rudely, “And that is to send you to State Prison for a term of five years at hard labor.”

Francis made no sign.

“There is one other thing I should like to know, however,” continued His Honor, “And that is who you really are.”

The prisoner bowed slightly.

“I am Charles Julius Francis,” he replied quietly, “Duc de Nevers, and Commander of the Legion of Honor.”