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THE LOST PURSE. .

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THE LOST PURSE. Mdme. Daurel stopped in front oi the post- otiioe. Her right hand held up her skirts. She released them with a sudden movement and thrust her hand into her muff, which she held in her right hand. At the same moment Sp- uttered a. cry of surprise. The »uue nurse tlr.it she always carried in her muff was no longer there. 0 mon Dieu!" she cried. looking to the right and to the left. A few feet away from there stood a man of about fifty years of ad" clean shaven, stout, well dressed. He was looking at her attentively. Then he suddenly eanie towards her, and with a polite bow and an evil smile, he said Madame, I live near by in the Rue de la Michodiere. No. 60. M. Chouinot; man of busines. If you desire to have news regarding the purse you have ix- --ii so unfortunate as to lose, I can furnish it to you." M. Chouinot was a fine specimen of a rascal. It must be confessed life was difficult for him. He had endeavoured to make a. success of ieveral enterprises, but every time, just as the Jonged-for end was in view, an obstacle had risen up and overwhelmed him. That obstacle was Justice. The clients whom he had attempted to dupe had made complaints to the police, and the police had started investigations which had finally brought M. Chouinot face to face with the superintendent of police, the judge on th, bench, and then the prison of Mazis. Happily, hj had so far been able to avoid long terms of imprisonment, which was something, but he had been obliged in every case to disgorge his gain and restore to their rightful owners the tlums of money that had ben confided by them to his care. In short, he had so far been sue- ce^sful only in putting to one side his scruples That day he was walking behind Madame Iteurel. Was he looking at her? It is probable that he was, for Mdme. Daurel destrved it. Rarely has a. more charming woma.n been seen. That she had the appearance of the smart woman, a supple and graceful ^gure. beauti- fully proportioned, could be seen from her back. In front it was seen that she had a lovely face, dark ardent eves an cdorably chiselled nose, a fine mouth, and besides these an infinite and subtle charm that was indefinable. She was a womaji no man could help looking at. So, as has been said already, M. Chouinot. was walking behind Mdme. Daurel. Suddenly he saw tnat she had dropped something on the pavement. He was about to call her attention to the fact when an idea presented itdelf to his mind. Never trust a first impulse," thoughit he. No one happened to be passing at the mo- mtnt. Why should not he take possession t. f Particle, provided it wa* worth the t'oubh ? M. Caouinot opened the purse. For it was a purse that Mdnie. Daurel had let fall, a nngnon little purse with her name on ;t in neat silver letters. It contained a 50-frarc bank note. several scraps of pa.per, and a letter in an envelope ready to be nested. Al. Ohoumot rapidly looked over the pieces "IV paflpr. They were lerters that showed signs of having been read and j»»-read many tunei. They were almost in pieces, and all bore the same sigi)ature, "Henri." The letter in the envelope was addressed to M. Henri de Prejailles. So the owner of the purse was answering love letters. i*H™.<ha!r excIaimed M. Chouinot to him- self. lhen he round some cards bearing rhe name '•Mdme. Andre Daum," and M. Cliou. mot began to think deeply. "Mdme. Daurel to a male friend, Henri de PrejaaHes. Excellent affair!" Without a. tremor he opened the envelope, and taking out the letter began to read. It remains to be seen now whether Mdme Andre Daurel is rich. said M. Chouinot to himself. In any ca-w it will be sufficient if her friend ;i:), Henri ch 'rejailles sounds well. rnH thls out clu klv 318 possible. Talking thus to himsi M. Chouinot kept following- Mdme. Daurel When he saw her stop in front of the poet-otfice he stopped also. It was the decisive moment. She wants to post her letters now and discovers that her pocket-book is lost," con- tinued M. Chouinot in monologue. I niil approach her very politely and beg her to corre to my office for news of the lost article. There I .hall tell her iriv cond-itions. ML Ohouin.or's.' deductions were perfectly accurate. It is necessary to say that when Mdine. Daurel heard Ohoumot address her the turned in surprise, which rapidlv changed to confusion and terror, and left her "without a word to reply. As soon as she recovered her se-lf. posses- sion, M. Chouinot, who had turned upon hia heel a.9 goon as hi& little speech was concluded, wag already disappearing down the street. Thus -the found herself at the mercy of this man. Doubtless he had opened the pocket- book, had read her letters, and now would only restore them to her in return for a large reward. Mdme. Daurei faced the situation. "There is no use hesitating," she thought; "I must go to t'his man." And sftie went. M. Chouinot was waiting for her, and as soon aa she had made known her name she was introduced into the private office of the rnai of business. M, Ohoui-not rose to meet her and bowed. Here is your pocket-book, madam," he JWÙd to her, holding out the article he had picked. up shortly before on the pavement. Mdme. Daurel, a littie surprised, wae about totilank ittill warmly, when he began: 1 hand you back vour oocket-book, but honesty compels me to state that it does not ret'H-n to you intact. It ^till contains, indeed, the note far fifty franoe, because money is alwajs sacred. You will also find here >our v»iting cards. But I thought it wat, imprudent or you to keep your letters there. An indis- cretion is so easily committed. Therefore, I will teke care of them for you—oh, the utmost care. I assure you Mdme. Daurel understood. The man had laid a trap for her, and she had tumbled into it. infais, monsieur," she stammered. "The pocket-book you have picked up is my pro- perty. You have no right to keep it, what- ever it may contain." You think tIO. madam." I I can go to the police, and they will force you to give me back those letters." And I can go to the police and tell them that I picked up nothing: that I know nothing of any pocket-book, and that I, M. Chouinot, a business man, am above all suspicion of such things." Mdme. Daurel did not insist on this point. But eofin," she said, why do you Keep thoee letters? They have no interest for you. I assure vou Ta ta ta Leters of that sort, madam, I assure you, are very nice to keep. M Henri de Prejailles writes most interestingly, and your own style, mwlam, is delightful." Mdme. Daurel flushed. She had loosened for a brief second her grastp on the pocket- book, and that little moruent of negligence was Roane to oosit her dearCy. "You forgot, madam," continued M. Chou- inot. "that evervlody who recovers a lost article is entitled to a reward." T am iprepared to trive it to you. monsieur.' Agreed. But there are reward* ai re- trards. I think the correspondence of Mdme. D&urel and Henri de Prejailles is worth a good prie?." Oh .monsieur d For "A very high price T repeat, mado-m. J'or twenty thouwnd francs I will return you your tatftero. Otherwise I will give them to vour !iu«iba.nd." Mdftr.f. Daurel became furious. But it is a swindle!" site- -hiirekfd, That is a hasty word for such an exquisite inouith." "Wretch!" And Mdme. Daurel threw one of her cards in the face of M. Chouinot- The man of business remained calm and stud: A second card is useless; I have -i-idv token one. Twenty thousand francs, I repeat. M. Daurel is a but Idea- and is rich; twenty thousand francs is nothing to h;m," This was 3aid quietly and ,j.hh cavm ovnjcism. After her atuger a re-action had followed, ana Mdirae. Daurel grew quiet. She was -f now, panting and overwhelmed. M. ( hoy mot did not move or sav a word. She sank. (lowi on a ohair, with her -yes on the <mxma. listen- ing to this man as if she were beang sentenced *° Si ,+toerw a stifcncB, W»d Madame •Daurel rose and walked towa.'d« the door. J^he nnhappv woman went out pale and trenr.blmg. vi,r:h sabs in her throat that suffocated her. What was she going to do ? Tiy* was what M. Chouinot ^nte, t<> « vera'l hours later she wou.d return, rrt VabH- she would try and .bargain with him tor IS 060 o 20 noo francs. But lr, M. Choumot womd temau. una-lterabla-twenty thousand fr»T>r«.. t J .4- r.Y'Io And then M'lme Dau^ woulll spreau v, the table, not without regr bank. of a thousand franes At th.:} thought of till>! \L Chonino1 rubb'Jd ^■Oh"t belie operation frftnee for merely piekme up Daurel a,?"Uhre!=:* ^ieMLdea tQ get the money. ,i:Stffiriot sang t,) himse-lf wh.l(' he "VS'lv « employe o. O. •^Monsieur, there is someone asking tor ,c outside." „ The '.vowan, no doubt. "y0. sir; it is a gentleman. "A gen tiernan? Show nim in. ^Trmveur.^he6 looking^M Chouinot the am j- -ienri lie Pre.iailles took fi-ii, (10 not y- t cuvus vleazure, hewever, to say that you are an infamous villain. Having said this, I wk you now to follow me." "Monsieur!" M. Chouinot moved further and further awav. Henri da Prejailles took a pistol out of his pocket and put the end of it under M. Chou- inot 's nose. Will you follow me?" "I wili follow you, monsieur; but remember one thing, that your letters are in a safe place, and that you oannot lorce me to give them up, and" "Exactly: meanwhile, walk in front of me, and not a word, or I will shoot you like a dog Below a carriage was in attendance, and M. Chouinot got in. Henri de Prejailles took the seat next him. Coachman, drive to Rue Rembrandt, No. 34. the. house of M. Andre Daurel!" M Chouinot trembled, but said nothing. There M. de Prejailles said to his companion, as he opened the door: Monsieur, you may get out; the moment to execute your threat has arrived. Take my letters to M. Andre Daurel M, Chouinot sprang out. He could scarcely believe his What was going to ha.pp^n next At the door stood a servant dressed in black, with a. white tie. M. Chouinot went towards him. "Monsieur Andre Daurel?" he asked. "What monsieur etid the servant, have you not heard?" "What?" "Monsieur Andre Daurel died this after- noon M. Chouinot was fairly stunned. "Oh!" he groaned, "1 have no luck at all!" He was about to walk awav, when Henri de Prejailles stepped out of the carriage and held him back. "lou see," he said, "that good fortune does not always come to vilhans of your sort' iou will now restore to me the letters you have atolen. We will go to your office to fetch them, and, whatever you do, do-not keep us waiting." Poor M. Chouinot What could he do? He went to his office with Henri de Prejailles at h:.? heels; he took the letters out of a secret safe. M. H "nri took them and placed them in his pocket. "Now. M. Chouinot," he said, "I will tell you tnat M. Daurel never felt better in his life. He is alive and well. The servant at the door was my own valet. Twenty francs did the trick. You see the twenty thousand francs you sooke of setmld a pretty high price compared to that." And as M. Chouinot raised his arms to heaven in utter despair, he added "For the rtat, there is always a bullet in this plaything at your pleasure. Anu he showed him his revolver.

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