Some were only plantation-grounds with a few huts, and were easily laid waste; but all were protected more or less by their mere situations. Quagmires surrounded them, covered by a thin crust of verdure, sometimes broken through by one man's weight, when the victim sank hopelessly into the black and bottomless depths below.
It is doubtful whether he could have done it, however, had they been separated by yards of floor, for the fat man was not only naturally talkative but, as appeared from his opening remarks, speech had been dammed up within him for some time by lack of a suitable victim. "Morning!" he began; "nice day. Good for the farmers. I'll move up to your end of the table if I may, sir.
Clearly when he does what the man is said to do in the tale of the Arcadian temple of Lycaean Zeus. What tale? The tale is that he who has tasted the entrails of a single human victim minced up with the entrails of other victims is destined to become a wolf. Did you never hear it? Oh, yes.
"Gentlemen," said he, addressing the audience, "I desire to know if M. Auguste is not here." M. Auguste does not answer, and the spectators look at each other in surprise. "M. Antoine!" Silence again. "Well, gentlemen, I am the victim of the dishonesty of the chef and sous-chef of the claque. I gave them forty francs this morning to call me out, and neither of them is here.
"What do you mean?" she demanded, in that answer-me-at-once way I knew of old. "MacRae has gotten into a bad hole," I told her plainly. "Major Lessard, who happens to be the big chief in this neck of the woods, seems to have developed a sudden grouch against him. There was a hold-up night before last in fact, I was the victim.
Alone in this little town of Grenoble, for which he had left his native village of Saint-Laurent-du-Pont, he had, just before meeting Adrienne, fallen a victim to a profound melancholy and realized the necessity of deciding upon his career. He was then thirty-four.
There were several deep bayonet wounds and a terrific sabre-slash across the face which had completely destroyed the left eye. The abdomen was abominably mutilated. A knife was clenched in the right hand of the victim, showing that he had not died without an effort to defend himself.
As Mordaunt turned away, I saw him look at the floor. "There is Achmed's blood," he said, pointing to a stain on the plank; "and the other is the blood of Fenwick, who was buried near his victim." "I remember," I murmured. And letting my chin fall upon my breast, I returned in thought to the strange scene which the spot recalled so vividly.
And, finally, when the evil circle spread to the man on the fringe of the Church who could not obtain even such poor authorization for his perfidy he found a way to perpetrate a pretended plural marriage with his victim, and the Church authorities did not dare but protect him.
But she turned again to the stage without saying anything more. At that moment she hated Gillier for not helping her to be sanguine. She said to herself that he had been always against both her and Claude. Of course he would be cruelly, ferociously critical of Claude's music, because he was so infatuated with his own libretto. Angrily she dubbed him a poor victim of megalomania.