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"Fresnel," he said, quietly, "if, as you say, the gallows claim me, the thing that has brought me to this extremity arises out of the shooting of Mabey. Had not Mabey been murdered there would have been no need for me to have raised my voice as I have done. Mabey was your friend, I think. Will you for his sake lend me the little help I need to save my neck?"

He drew tears from them with the pathos of his picture of the bereaved widow Mabey and her three starving, destitute children "orphaned to avenge the death of a pheasant" and the bereaved mother of that M. de Vilmorin, a student of Rennes, known here to many of them, who had met his death in a noble endeavour to champion the cause of an esurient member of their afflicted order.

In this matter of Mabey assuming your statement of it to be exact the gamekeeper may have exceeded his duty; but by so little that it is hardly worth comment. Consider, however, that in any case it is not a matter for the King's Lieutenant, or for any court but the seigneurial court of M. de La Tour d'Azyr himself.

"Why, the cause of the widow and orphans of this unfortunate Mabey." The Marquis looked from Vilmorin to the Chevalier, and again the Chevalier laughed, slapping his leg this time. "I think," said M. de La Tour d'Azyr, slowly, "that we are at cross-purposes.

But I warn you that I shall be very angry if you fail to justify the impertinence of this insistence at so inopportune a moment." "You shall be the judge of that, monsieur," said Andre-Louis, and he proceeded at once to state his case, beginning with the shooting of Mabey, and passing thence to the killing of M. de Vilmorin.

The language he used here to M. le Marquis on the score of Mabey was of the most offensive. Perhaps you didn't know that. It does not at all surprise me that the Marquis should have desired satisfaction." "I see," said Andre-Louis, on a note of hopelessness. "You see? What the devil do you see?" "That I shall have to depend upon myself alone."

"Nothing beastly can surprise me when done by a beast. And La Tour d'Azyr is a beast, as all the world knows. The more fool Mabey for stealing his pheasants. He should have stolen somebody else's." "Is that all you have to say about it?" "What more is there to say? I've a practical mind, I hope." "What more there is to say I propose to say to your godfather, M. de Kercadiou.

Coming to Gavrillac on a November morning, laden with news of the political storms which were then gathering over France, Philippe found in that sleepy Breton village matter to quicken his already lively indignation. A peasant of Gavrillac, named Mabey, had been shot dead that morning in the woods of Meupont, across the river, by a gamekeeper of the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr.

Mabey was a vassal of Gavrillac, and Vilmorin hoped to move the Lord of Gavrillac to demand at least some measure of reparation for the widow and the three orphans which that brutal deed had made. But because Andre-Louis was Philippe's dearest friend indeed, his almost brother the young seminarist sought him out in the first instance.

I am touched by Mabey's fate. But, having conquered the shock of this news to my emotions, I do not forget that, after all, Mabey was thieving when he met his death." M. de Vilmorin heaved himself up in his indignation. "That is the point of view to be expected in one who is the assistant fiscal intendant of a nobleman, and the delegate of a nobleman to the States of Brittany."