Read CHAPTER VIII - THE LITTLE GLASS BOTTLE of The Champdoce Mystery , free online book, by Emile Gaboriau, on

In order to avoid being seen by Mademoiselle de Laurebourg, Daumon had to take a much longer route to regain his home than the one that Diana had followed.  This, however, he could not help.  As soon as he arrived at his home he ran hastily upstairs and took from a cleverly concealed hiding-place in the wainscoting of his bedroom a small bottle of dark green glass, which he hastily slipped into his pocket.  When he had once more descended to his office, he again took it out and examined it carefully to see that it had in no way been tampered with; then, with a hard, cruel smile, he placed it upon his desk among his ledgers and account books.  Diana de Laurebourg might pay him a visit as soon as she liked, for he was quite prepared for her, for he had slipped on his dressing-gown and placed his velvet skull cap upon his head, as if he had not quitted the house that day.

“Why on earth does she not come?” muttered he.

He began to be uneasy.  He went to the window and glanced eagerly down the road; then he drew out his watch and examined the face of it, when all at once his ears detected a gentle tapping at the door of the office.

“Come in,” said he.

The door opened, and Diana entered slowly, without uttering a word, and took no notice of the servile obsequiousness of the Counsellor; indeed, she hardly seemed to notice his presence, and with a deep sigh she threw herself into a chair.

In his inmost heart Daumon was filled with the utmost delight; he now understood why Diana had taken so long in reaching his house; it was because her interview with the Duke had almost overcome her.

She soon, however, recovered her energy, and shook off the languor that seemed to cling to her limbs, and turning towards her host, said abruptly, —

“Counsellor, I have come to you for advice, which I sorely need.  About an hour ago — ”

With a gesture of sympathy Daumon interrupted her, —

“Alas!” said he; “spare me the recital, I know all.”

“You know — ”

“Yes, I know that M. Norbert is a prisoner at the Chateau.  Yes, mademoiselle, I know this, and I know, too, that you have just met the Duke de Champdoce in the Forest of Bevron.  I know, moreover, all that you said to the old nobleman, for I have heard every word from a person who has just left.”

In spite of her strong nerves, Diana was unable to restrain a movement of dismay and terror.

“But who told you of this?” murmured she.

“A man who was out cutting wood.  Ah! my dear young lady, the forest is not a safe place to tell secrets in, for you never know whether watchful eyes and listening ears are not concealed behind every tree.  This man, and I am afraid some of his companions, heard every word that was spoken, and as soon as you left the Duke the man scampered off to tell the story.  I made him promise not to say a word, but he is a married man and is sure to tell it to his wife.  Then there are his companions; dear me! it is most annoying.”

“Then all is lost, and I am ruined,” murmured she.

But her despair did not last long, for she was by no means the woman to throw down her arms and sue for mercy.  She grasped the arm of the Counsellor.

“The end has not come yet, surely?  Speak!  What is to be done?  You must have some plan.  I am ready for anything, now that I have nothing to lose.  No one shall ever say that that cowardly villain, the Duke de Champdoce, insulted me with impunity.  Tell me, will you help me?”

“In the name of heaven!” cried he, “do not speak so loud.  You do not know the adversary that you have to contend with.”

“Are you afraid of him?”

“Yes, I do fear him; and what is more, I fear him very much.  He is a determined man, and will gain his object at any cost or risk.  Do you know that he did his best to crush me because I summoned him to court on behalf of one of my clients?  So that now, when any one comes to me and wishes to proceed against the Duke, I am glad to decline to take up the matter.”

“And so,” returned the young girl in a tone of cold contempt, “after leading us to this compromising position, you are ready to abandon us at the most critical moment?”

“Can you think such a thing, mademoiselle?”

“You can act as you please, Counsellor; Norbert is still left to me; he will protect me.”

Daumon shook his head with an air of deep sorrow.

“How can we be sure that at this very moment the Marquis has not given in to all his father’s wishes?”

“No,” exclaimed the girl; “such a supposition is an insult to Norbert.  He would sooner die than give in.  He may be timid, but he is not a coward; the thoughts of me will give him the power to resist his father’s tyranny.”

Daumon allowed himself to fall into his great armchair as though overcome by the excitement of this interview.

“We can talk coolly enough here and with no one to threaten us; but the Marquis, on the other hand, is exposed to all his father’s violence and ill treatment, moral as well as physical, without any defence for aid from a soul in the world, and in such times as these the strongest will may give way.”

“Yes, I see it all; Norbert may give in, he may marry another woman, and I shall be left alone, with my reputation gone, and the scorn and scoff of all the neighborhood.”

“But, mademoiselle, you still have — ”

“All I have left is life, and that life I would gladly give for vengeance.”

There was something so terribly determined in the young girl’s voice that again Daumon started, and this time his start was sincere and not simulated.

“Yes, you are right,” said he, “and there are many besides myself who have vowed to have revenge on the Duke, and their time will come, have no fear.  A quiet shot in the woods in the dusk of the evening would settle many a long account.  It has been tried, but the old man seems to have the luck of the evil one; and if the gun did not miss fire, the bullets flew wide of the mark.  A judge might take a very serious view of such a matter, and term a crime what was merely an act of justice.  Who can say whether the death of the Duke de Champdoce might not save him from the commission of many acts of tyranny and oppression and render many deserving persons happy?”

The face of Diana de Laurebourg turned deadly pale as she listened to these specious arguments.

“As things go,” continued Daumon, “the Duke may go on living to a hundred; he is wealthy and influential, and to a certain degree looked up to.  He will die peacefully in his bed, there will be a magnificent funeral, and masses will be sung for the repose of his soul.”

While he spoke the Counsellor had taken the little bottle from beside his account books and was turning it over and over between his fingers.

“Yes,” murmured he, thoughtfully; “the Duke is quite likely to outlive us all, unless, indeed — ”

He took the cork from the bottle, and poured a little of the contents into the palm of his hand.  A few grains of fine white powder, glittering like crystal, appeared on the brown skin of the Counsellor.

“And yet,” he went on, in cold, sinister accents, “let him take but a small pinch of this, and no one need fear his tyranny again in this world.  No one is much afraid of a man who lies some six feet under ground, shut up in a strong oak coffin, with a finely carved gravestone over his head.”

He stopped short, and fixed his keen eyes upon the agitated girl, who stood in front of him.  For at least two minutes the man and the girl stood face to face, motionless, and without exchanging a word.  Through the dead, weird silence, the pulsations of their hearts were plainly audible.  It seemed as if before speaking again each wished to fathom the depths of guilt that lay in the other’s heart.  It was a compact entered into by look and not by speech; and Daumon so well understood this, that at length, when he did speak, his voice sank to a hoarse whisper, as though he himself feared to listen to the utterance of his own thoughts.

“A man taking this feels no pain.  It is like a heavy, stunning blow on the forehead — in ten seconds all is over, no gasp, no cry, but the heart ceases to beat forever; and, best of all, it leaves no trace behind it.  A little of this, such a little, in wine or coffee, would be enough.  It is tasteless, colorless, and scentless, its presence is impossible to be detected.”

“But in the event of a post-mortem examination?”

“By skilful analysts in Paris or the larger towns, there would be a chance; but in a place like this, never!  Never, in fact, anywhere, unless there had been previous grounds for suspicion.  Otherwise only apoplectic symptoms would be observed; and even if it was traced there comes the question, By whom was it administered?”

He stopped short, for a word rose to his lips which he did not dare utter; he raised his hands to his mouth, coughed slightly, and went on, —

“This substance is not sold by chemists; it is very rarely met with, difficult to prepare, and terribly expensive.  The smallest quantity might be met with in the first-class laboratories for scientific purposes, but it is most unlikely for any one in these parts to possess any of this drug, or even to know of its existence.”

“And yet you — ”

“That is quite another matter.  Years ago, when I was far away from here, it was in my power to render a great service to a distinguished chemist, and he made me a present of this combination of his skill.  It would be impossible to trace this bottle; I have had it ten years, and the man who gave it to me is dead.  Ten years?  No, I am wrong, it is now twelve.”

“And in all these years has not this substance lost any of its destructive powers?”

“I tried it only a month ago.  I threw a pinch of it into a basin of milk and gave it to a powerful mastiff.  He drank the milk and in ten seconds fell stark and dead.”

“Horrible!” exclaimed Diana, covering her face with her hand, and recoiling from the tempter.

A sinister smile quivered upon the thin lips of the Counsellor.

“Why do you say horrible?” asked he; “the dog had shown symptoms of rabies, and had he bitten me, I might have expired in frightful torture.  Was it not fair self-defence?  Sometimes, however, a man is more dangerous than a dog.  A man blights the whole of my life; I strike him down openly, and the law convicts me and puts me to death; but I do not contemplate doing so, for I would suppress such a man secretly.”

Diana placed her hands on the man’s mouth and stopped a further exposition of his ideas.

“Listen to me,” said she.  But at this moment a heavy step was heard outside.  “It is Norbert,” gasped she.

“Impossible!  It is more likely his father.”

“It is Norbert,” cried Mademoiselle de Laurebourg, and snatching the little bottle from the Counsellor’s hands, she thrust it into her bosom.  The door flew open, and Norbert appeared on the threshold.  Diana and the Counsellor both uttered a shriek of terror.  His livid countenance seemed to indicate that he had passed through some terrible scene; his gait was unsteady, his clothes torn and disordered, and his face stained with blood, which had flowed from a cut over his temple.  Daumon imagined that some outrage had taken place.

“You have been wounded, Marquis?” said he.

“Yes, my father struck me.”

“Can it be possible?”

“Yes, he struck me.”

Mademoiselle Diana had feared this, and she trembled with the terror of her vague conjectures as she made a step towards her lover.

“Permit me to examine your wound,” said she.

She placed both her hands at the side of his head and stood on tip-toe, the better to inspect the cut.  As she did so, she shuddered; an inch lower, and the consequences might have been fatal.

“Quick,” she said, “give me some rags and water.”

Norbert gently disengaged himself.  “It is a mere nothing,” said he, “and can be looked after later on.  Fortunately I did not receive the whole weight of the blow, which would otherwise have brought me senseless to the ground, and perhaps I should have been slain by my father’s hand.”

“By the Duke? and for what reason did he strike you?”

“Diana, he had grossly insulted you, and he dared to tell me of it.  Had he forgotten that the blood of the race of Champdoce ran in my veins as well as in his?”

Mademoiselle de Laurebourg burst into a passion of tears.

“I,” sobbed she, “I have brought all this upon you.”

“You?  Why, it is to you that he owes his life.  He dared to strike me as if I had been a lackey, but the thoughts of you stayed my hand.  I turned and fled, and never again will I enter that accursed house.  I renounce the Duke de Champdoce, he is no longer my father, and I will never look upon his face again.  Would that I could forget that such a man existed; but, no, I would rather that I remembered him for the sake of revenge.”

Again the heart of Daumon overflowed with joy.  All his deeply malignant spirit thrilled pleasantly as he heard these words.

“Marquis,” said he, “perhaps you will now believe with me that in all misfortunes there is an element of luck, for your father has committed an act of imprudence which will yet cost him dear.  It is very strange that so astute a man as the Duke de Champdoce should have allowed his passion to carry him away.”

“What do you mean?”

“Simply that you can be freed from the tyranny of your father whenever you like now.  We now have all that is necessary for lodging a formal plaint in court.  We have sequestration of the person, threats and bodily violence by the aid of third parties, and words and blows which have endangered life; our case is entirely complete.  A surgeon will examine your wound, and give a written deposition.  We can produce plenty of evidence, and the wound on the head will tell its own story.  As a commencement we will petition that we may not be ordered back to our father’s custody, and it will further be set forth that our reason for this is that a father has assaulted a son with undue and unnecessary violence.  We shall be sure to gain the day, and — ”

“Enough,” broke in Norbert; “will the decision give me the right to marry whom I please without my father’s consent?”

Daumon hesitated.  Under the circumstances, it seemed to him very likely that the court would grant Norbert the liberty he desired; he, however, thought it advisable not to say so, and answered boldly, “No, Marquis, it will not do so.”

“Well, then, the Champdoce family have never exposed their differences to the public, nor will I begin to do so,” said Norbert decisively.

The Counsellor seemed surprised at this determination.

“If, Marquis,” he began, “I might venture to advise you — ”

“No advice is necessary, my mind is entirely made up, but I need some help, and in twenty-four hours I require a large sum of money — twenty thousand francs.”

“You can have them, Marquis, but I warn you that you will have to pay heavily for the accommodation.”

“That I care nothing for.”

Mademoiselle de Laurebourg was about to speak, but with a gesture of his hand Norbert arrested her.

“Do you not comprehend me, Diana?” said he; “we must fly, and that at once.  We can find some safe retreat where we can live happily, where no one will harm us.”

“But this is mere madness!” cried Diana.

“You will be pursued,” remarked the Counsellor; “and most likely overtaken.”

“Can you not trust your life to me?” asked Norbert reproachfully.  “I swear that I will devote everything to you, life, thought, and will.  On my knees I entreat you to fly with me.”

“I cannot,” murmured she; “it is impossible.”

“Then you do not love me,” said he in desponding accents.  “I have been a thrice-besotted fool to believe that your heart was mine, for you can never have loved me.”

“Hear him, merciful powers! he says that I, who am all his, do not love him.”

“Then why cast aside our only chance of safety?”

“Norbert, dearest Norbert!”

“I understand you too well; you are alarmed at the idea of the world’s censure, and — ”

He paused, checked by the gleam of reproach that shone in Diana’s eyes.

“Must it be so?” said she; “must I condescend to justify myself?  You talk to me of the world’s censure?  Have I not already defied it, and has it not sat in judgment upon me?  And what have I done, after all?  Every act and word that has passed between us I can repeat to my mother without a blush rising to my cheek; but would any one credit my words?  No, not a living soul.  Most likely the world has come to a decision.  My reputation is gone, is utterly lost, and yet I am spotless as the driven snow.”

Norbert was half-mad with anger.

“Who would dare to treat you with anything save the most profound respect?” said he.

“Alas! my dear Norbert,” replied she, “to-morrow the scandal will be even greater.  While your father was talking to me with such brutal violence and contempt, he was overheard by a woodcutter and perhaps by some of his companions.”

“It cannot be.”

“No, it is quite true,” returned Daumon.  “I had it from the man myself.”

Mademoiselle de Laurebourg shot one glance at the Counsellor; it was only a glance, but he comprehended at once that she wished to be left alone with her lover.

“Pardon me,” said he, “but I think I have a visitor, and I must hinder any one from coming in here.”

He left the room as he spoke, closing the door noisily behind him.

“And so,” resumed Norbert when alone, “it seems that the Duke de Champdoce did not even take the ordinary precaution of assuring himself that you were in privacy before he spoke as he did, and was so carried away by his fury that he never thought that in casting dishonor upon you, he was heaping infamy on me.  Does he think by these means to compel me to marry the heiress whom he has chose for me, the Mademoiselle de Puymandour?”

For the first time Diana learned the name of her rival.

“Ah!” moaned she between her sobs, “so it is Mademoiselle de Puymandour that he wants you to marry?”

“Yes, the same, or rather her enormous wealth; but may my hand wither before it clasps hers.  Do you hear me, Diana?”

She gave a sad smile and murmured, “Poor Norbert!”

The heart of the young man sank; so melancholy was the tone of her voice.

“You are very cruel,” said he.  “What have I done to deserve this want of confidence?”

Diana made no reply, and Norbert, believing that he understood the reason why she refused to fly with him, said, “Is it because you have no faith in me, that you will not accompany me in my flight?”

“No; I have perfect faith in you.”

“What is it, then?  Do I not offer you fortune and happiness?  Tell me what it is then.”

She drew herself up, and said proudly, “Up to this time, my conscience has enabled me to hold my own against all the scandalous gossip that has been flying about, but now it says, ’Halt, Diana de Laurebourg!  You have gone far enough.’  My burden is heavy, my heart is breaking, but I must draw back now.  No, Norbert; I cannot fly with you.”

She paused for a moment, as though unable to proceed, and then went on with more firmness, “Were I alone and solitary in the world, I might act differently; but I have a family, whose honor I must guard as I would my own.”

“A family indeed, which sacrifices you to your elder brother.”

“It may be so, and therefore my task is all the greater.  Who ever head of virtue as something easy to practise?”

Norbert never remembered what an example of rebellion she had set.

“My heart and my conscience dictate the same course to me.  The result must ever be fatal, when a young girl sets at defiance the rules and laws of society; and you would never care to look with respect on one upon whom others gazed with the eye of contempt.”

“What sort of an opinion have you of me, then?”

“I believe you to be a man, Norbert.  Let us suppose that I fly with you, and that the next day I should hear that my father has been killed in a duel fought on my account; what then?  Believe me, that when I tell you to fly by yourself, I give you the best advice in my power.  You will forget me, I know; but what else can I hope for?”

“Forget you!” said Norbert angrily.  “Can you forget me?”

His face was so close to hers that she felt the hot breath upon her cheek.

“Yes,” stammered she, with a violent effort, “I can.”

Norbert drew a pace back, that he might read her meaning more fully in her eyes.

“And if I go away,” asked he, “what will become of you?”

A sob burst from the young girl’s breast, and her strength seemed to desert her limbs.

“I,” answered she, in the calm, resigned voice of a Christian virgin about to be cast to the lions that roared in the arena, “I have my destiny.  To-day is the last time that we shall ever meet.  I shall return to my home, where everything will shortly be known.  I shall find my father angry and menacing.  He will place me in a carriage, and the next day I shall find myself within the walls of the hated convent.”

“But that life would be one long, slow agony to you.  You have told me this before.”

“Yes,” answered she, “it would be an agony, but it would also be an expiation; and when the burden grows too heavy, I have this.”

And as she spoke, she drew the little bottle from its hiding-place in her bosom, and Norbert too well understood her meaning.  The young man endeavored to take it from her, but she resisted.  This contest seemed to exhaust her little strength, her beautiful eyes closed, and she sank senseless into Norbert’s arms.  In an agony of despair, the young man asked himself if she was dying; and yet there was sufficient life in her to enable her to whisper, soft and low, these words, “My only friend — let me have it back, dear Norbert.”  And then, with perfect clearness, she repeated all the deadly properties of the drug, and the directions for its use that the Counsellor had given to her.

On hearing the woman whom he loved with such intense passion confess that she would sooner die than live apart from him, Norbert’s brain reeled.

“Diana, my own Diana!” repeated he, as he hung over her.

But she went on, as though speaking through the promptings of delirium.

“The very day after such a fair prospect!  Ah, Duke de Champdoce!  You are a hard and pitiless man.  You have robbed me of all I held dear in the world, blackened my reputation, and tarnished my honor, and now you want my life.”

Norbert uttered such a cry of anger, that even Daumon in the passage was startled by it.  He placed Diana tenderly in the Counsellor’s arm-chair, saying, —

“No, you shall not kill yourself, nor shall you leave me.”

She smiled faintly, and held out her arms to him.  Her magic spells were deftly woven.

“No,” cried he; “the poison which you had intended to use on yourself shall become my weapon of vengeance, and the instrument of punishment of the one who has wronged you.”

And with the gait of a man walking in his sleep, he left the Counsellor’s office.

Hardly had the young man’s footsteps died away, than Daumon entered the room.  He had not lost a word or action in the foregoing scene, and he was terribly agitated; and he could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw Diana, whom he had supposed to be lying half-sensible in the arm-chair, standing at the window, gazing after Norbert, as he walked along the road leading from the Counsellor’s cottage.

“Ah! what a woman!” muttered he.  “Gracious powers, what a wonderful woman!”

When Diana had lost sight of her lover, she turned round to Daumon.  Her face was pale, and her eyelids swollen, but her eyes flashed with the conviction of success.

“To-morrow, Counsellor,” said she, “to-morrow I shall be the Duchess de Champdoce.”

Daumon was so overwhelmed that, accustomed as he was to startling events and underhand trickery, he could find no words to express his feelings.

“That is to say,” added Diana thoughtfully, “if all goes as it should to-night.”

Daumon felt a cold shiver creep over him, but summoning up all his self-possession, he said, “I do not understand you.  What is this that you hope will be accomplished to-night?”

She turned so contemptuous and sarcastic a look on him, that the words died away in his mouth, and he at once saw his mistake in thinking that he could sport with the girl’s feelings as a cat plays with a mouse; for it was she who was playing with him, and she, a simple girl, had made this wily man of the world her dupe.

“Success is, of course, a certainty,” answered she coldly; “but Norbert is impetuous, and impetuous people are often awkward.  But I must return home at once.  Ah, me!” she added, as her self-control gave way for a moment, “will this cruel night never pass away, and give way to the gentle light of dawn?  Farewell, Counsellor.  When we meet again, all matters will be settled, one way or other.”

The Parthian dart which Mademoiselle de Laurebourg had cast behind her went true to the mark; the allusion to Norbert’s impetuosity and awkwardness rendered the Counsellor very unhappy.  He sat down in his arm-chair, and, resting his head on his hands, and his elbows on his desk, he strove to review the position thoroughly.  Perhaps by now all might be over.  Where was Norbert, and what was he doing? he asked himself.

At the time that Daumon was reflecting, Norbert was on the road leading to Champdoce.  He had entirely lost his head, but he found that his reason was clear and distinct.  Those who have been accustomed to the treatment of maniacs know with what startling rapidity they form a chain of action, and the cloud that veiled Norbert’s brain appeared to throw out into stronger relief the murderous determination he had formed.  He had already decided how the deed was to be done.  The common wine of the country was always served to the laborers at the table, but the Duke kept a better quality for his own drinking, and the bottle containing this was after meals placed on a shelf in a cupboard in the dining-room.  It was thus within every one’s reach, but not a soul in the household would have ventured to lay a finger upon it.  Norbert’s thoughts fell upon this bottle, and in his mind’s eye he could see it standing in its accustomed place.  He crossed the courtyard, and the laborers, engaged in their tasks, gazed at him curiously.  He passed them, and entered the dining-room, which was untenanted.  With a caution that was not to be expected from the agitation of his mind, he opened each door successively, in order to be certain that no eyes were gazing upon him.  Then, with the greatest rapidity, he took down the bottle, drew the cork with his teeth, and dropped into the wine, not one, but two or three pinches of the contents of the little vial.  He shook the bottle gently, to facilitate the dissolution of the powder.  A few particles of the poison clung to the lip of the bottle; he wiped off these, not with a napkin, a pile of which lay on the shelf beside him, but with his own handkerchief.  He replaced the bottle in its accustomed place, and seating himself by the fire, awaited the course of events.

At this moment the Duke de Champdoce was coming up the avenue at a rapid pace.  For the first time, perhaps, in his life, this man perceived that one of his last acts had been insensate and foolish in the extreme.  All the possibilities of the law to which Daumon had alluded struck the Duke with over-whelming force, and he at once saw that his violent conduct had given ample grounds upon which to base a plaint, with results which he greatly feared.  If the court entertained the matter, his son would most likely be removed from his control.  He knew that such an idea would never cross Norbert’s brain, but there were plenty of persons to suggest it to him.  The danger of his position occurred to him, and at the same time he felt that he must frame his future conduct with extreme prudence.  He had not given up his views regarding his son’s marriage with Mademoiselle de Puymandour.  No; he would sooner have resigned life itself, but he felt that he must renounce violence, and gain his ends by diplomacy.  The first thing to be done was to get Norbert to return home, and the father greatly doubted whether the son would do so.  While thinking over these things, with a settled gloom upon his face, one of the servants came running up to him with the news of Norbert’s return.

“I hold him at last,” muttered he, and hastened on to the Chateau.

When the Duke entered the dining-room, Norbert did not rise from his seat, and the Duke was disagreeably impressed by this breach of the rules of domestic etiquette.

“On my word,” thought he, “it would appear that the young booby thinks that he owes me no kind of duty whatever.”

He did not, however, allow his anger to be manifest in his features; besides, the sight of the blood, with which his son’s face was still smeared, caused him to feel excessively uncomfortable.

“Norbert, my son,” said he, “are you suffering?  Why have you not had that cut attended to?”

The young man made no reply, and the Duke continued, —

“Why have you not washed the blood away?  Is it left there as a reproach to me?  There is no need for that, I assure you; for deeply do I deplore my violence.”

Norbert still made no answer, and the Duke became more and more embarrassed.  To give himself time for reflection, more than because he was thirsty, he took a glass, and filled it from his own special bottle.

Norbert trembled from head to foot as he saw this act.

“Come, my son,” continued the Duke, “just try if you cannot find some palliation for what your old father has done.  I am ready to ask your forgiveness, and to apologize, for a man of honor is never ashamed to acknowledge when he has been in the wrong.”

He raised his glass, and raised it up to the light half mechanically.  Norbert held his breath; the whole world seemed turning round.

“It is hard, very hard,” continued the Duke, “for a father thus to humiliate himself in vain before his son.”

It was useless for Norbert to turn away his head; he saw the Duke place the glass to his lips.  He was about to drink, but the young man could endure it no longer, and with a bound he sprang forward, snatched the glass from his father’s hand, and hurled it from the window, shouting in a voice utterly unlike his own, —

“Do not drink.”

The Duke read the whole hideous truth in the face and manner of his son.  His features quivered, his face grew purple, and his eyes filled with blood.  He strove to speak, but only an inarticulate rattle could be heard; he then clasped his hands convulsively, swayed backwards and forwards, and then fell helplessly backwards, striking his head against an oaken sideboard that stood near.  Norbert tore open the door.

“Quick, help!” cried he.  “I have killed my father.”