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The Ghost: A Modern Fantasy (Chapter 16)
On the following night I sat once more in the salon of Rosa's flat.
She had had Sir Cyril removed thither. He was dying; I had done my
best, but his case was quite hopeless, and at Rosa's urgent entreaty I
had at last left her alone by his bedside.
I need not recount all the rush
of incidents that had happened since
the tragedy at the Villa des Hortensias on the previous evening. Most
people will remember the tremendous sensation caused by the judicial
inquiry--an inquiry which ended in the tragical Deschamps being
incarcerated in the Charenton Asylum. For aught I know, the poor
woman, once one of the foremost figures in the gaudy world of
theatrical Paris, is still there consuming her heart with a futile
Rosa would never refer in any way to the interview between Deschamps
and herself; it was as if she had hidden the memory of it in some
secret chamber of her soul, which nothing could induce her to open
again. But there can be no doubt that Deschamps had intended to murder
her, and, indeed, would have murdered her had it not been for the
marvellously opportune arrival of Sir Cyril. With the door of the room
locked as it was, I should assuredly have been condemned, lacking Sir
Cyril's special knowledge of the house, to the anguish of witnessing a
frightful crime without being able to succor the victim. To this day I
can scarcely think of that possibility and remain calm.
As for Sir Cyril's dramatic appearance in the villa, when I had learnt
all the facts, that was perhaps less extraordinary than it had seemed
to me from our hasty dialogue in the underground kitchen of Deschamps'
house. Although neither Rosa nor I was aware of it, operatic circles
had been full of gossip concerning Deschamps' anger and jealousy, of
which she made no secret. One or two artists of the Opéra Comique had
decided to interfere, or at any rate seriously to warn Rosa, when Sir
Cyril arrived, on his way to London from the German watering-place
where he had been staying. All Paris knew Sir Cyril, and Sir Cyril
knew all Paris; he was made acquainted with the facts directly, and
the matter was left to him. A man of singular resolution, originality,
and courage, he had gone straight to the Rue Thiers, having caught a
rumor, doubtless started by the indiscreet Deschamps herself, that
Rosa would be decoyed there. The rest was mere good fortune.