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The Wrong Man

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Many years ago, tny health having become much itnpaired by over study, I was recomroended to pasa a winter in the south of France. Of so agreeable a prescription I readily availed myself. I was without wife or child to eucumber my dcparture ; and, armed only with a portmanteau, made a most dulightful journey o' it to tbo charining towo of V . Shortly after my arrival, whilst eitling at the window ol my hotel, a man passed by, so very much like myself that, struck witb tho rescmblance, I arose, aud, leaniog forward, followed kim with my eyes. Ilis dres3 bespoke him au Euglishman. Ho was tall ; so was I Slim ; I was slim. Ilis eyes were blue, bis skin fair, bis hair a deep auburn, bis noso aquilino. All tbis was noy portrait. AYhen be had reacbed tho botton) of the street he paused, looked round, tben slowly returned, crossiug the road, however, and taking the opposite pavement. Tbis enabled mo 10 get u clearcr view of the man. I confess I vaa much impressad with the resemblance, and hardly liked it. Tho pbysiologiet, I thought, may delight as much as he pleaRes in such coincidencrs ; for my part 1 decidedly object to being mado a portion of any sort of pbenomenon. I lad read of very unpleasant consequences 'ollowing personal resemblances And aruotly hoped ihat tbts individual would speedily clear the neighborlood of his presence. A week or two after tbis, in taking a walk across a beautiful bit of adjaceut country, I suddenly encountered my ikeness, seated on a rustió bonch beneath a tree, with his arm circling the waist of a very beautiful peasant girl. Her skin of a pure and creaui-like tint finely conrasttd the splendid luxuriance of her lack hair. Her eyes flashed upon me as I passed, and I noticed her draw herelf erect with rapid bfiuteur, asif indigDant or impatient of detection. Tho man y her side, who would have pas?ed very well forme to any otber pereon but my molher or myself, still maictained his cnref-sing attitude. He did not condeseend to raisc his eyes to me as I jassed, but kept tliem lixed upon the ace of the girl, who, I could see, watchd me wit}) a species of sullen, eager)ess, is if ivishing me well out of sigbt As I passed ihem. I must confess to aving experienced a momentary sensaionofeovy of the man. Since naturo as put him in my skin, I thought, it eems only fair that I should put myself n his shoes. For all I know, I reflected, tbut beautiful peasant girl might ave been originally dsaiinett for me; out the intention of nature has been de'eated by her love of coincidence. I aughed at my thoughts as I walked on, and, turning a corner, lost sight of the overs. ■ Od reaching the bottom of the lañe I 'ound that I bad fallen upon & cuide gao. l'lio passage terminated in a eeries of ields, across which I could discover no 'ootpath. I had no wish to be arrested br trespassing, so I decided on returnDg the way I had come. Ou sighting the benei), I found it was deserted. I was Dot sorry I would y no means have disliked another peep at the brunette; but, at the same time, bad no ambition to inspire the couple with the notion that I was watcbing hem. I had got to ihe top of the liiil, and was puesing between a row of thick mi-lies, making a sort of natural hodge br a broad area of tices, like a gigantic iai k, wben I was suddenly startled by bc report of a pistol, diseharged to ray eft. At the same moment I hoard tho lollow sound of a ball striking my bat, aud that article of dress rolled to the jround. I looked around with a palo face. Tía atlack was hoiribly eudden. Who u the name of uuaven, wanted my life ? Tor what crime was my blood demanded ? "Whathadl done? I saw the jlue Hiroke curling in from the densest )ortion of the buches, and heard the crackiug of the fui3 and twigu, caused iy the hasty flight of sonie one. I pickcd up my hat. The bnll had jassed clean tbrough it. Had it htruck .wo inches lower it would havo cutored my fkull. I hastened towards the town, possessd with uiuch the same eort of enviuble eeüngs as you might imagine a Tiperary landlord or agent would feel who eos threats of bis hfo carvcd on every other tree. Bravery in a gituatio.i of his sort was quite out of tho question. )f what use is pluck when you have to leal with invisible foes ? I might almost confees to buviDg broken iuto downright flight as I neared the town, so extremely anxious was I to escape tbe viciuity of cvory sheltering busb, tree or bedge in the nsighborhood. Oü gaining my hotel, I begnn to reflect on my uarrow c.-capo. I had been too much exrnted to attach to it the signiflcance it demanded. Hut the hole in rny bat oonveyed the most sbuddering inforraatioD oq niy narrow escape. Boyond all reasohable doubt, my life witliin that hour had only been worth two paltry inches. I repeated the rjuestion to myself, "Who wants my life '1 Aud if anybody wauts it, what are bis claims ? What have I done to ment asssasinalion ?" Boing wholly umiblo to answer thcso queries, I resolved to mako a confidant of uiy host, the hotel keeper. 1 called hini (o my room, aud told him what had happened. He shrugged bis shoulders, as be exclaimud : "Monsieur, like the rest of mankind, must pay the penalty ofrnaking love." 'But,' said 1, shocked at bis sang froid, 'I have not made love. Since I have been here, I arn not conëcious of reu liaviug lookcd at a woniau, much Iets spoken to oiie." "ïhen it is an enigma," he replied. The only solution 1 cao offer you is - that you bave been mistaken for sorne one else. "Mon I)ieu .'" I exclaimed. "You have undoubtedly hit the mark. I have been mistaken, and I know for whoui ; Have you not secu a man in this town bearing a striking resemblance to me?" ".Xo," was the answer. "Well, my friend, I have. The moment I saw bira I feit uocomfortable. I had a prcsentiment of evil. Oblige me by letting me have your bilí. I shall go to Paris to-night. If I etop here anotber dny, my life, which I left Engand to fortifv, will be snuffed out like a oandle." The hotel keeper, seeing matters come to a point that affected bis interests, endeavored to laugh down my doubts. He argued that the hall I had received in my hat had been destined 'or a bird ; thnt it was the shot of some wretched niaiksmao, who might have mistaken my hat for a crow. "That may be all very well," I answered ; but suffer me to teil you that your excuse only inakes me more resolute to eave the place ; for of what vulue is a rnaa's life in a distriol abounding with portsmen wbo can mistake a bat for a row ?" A train left for Paris at 2:36. It was in oxpress, and I fcmnd it to bo due at i o'clock. I dispatobed niy portmanteau )y a porter to the station, and having wenty minutes before me. Bat dowo to a light repast of cold fowl and vin ordi aire. The position of my tnble eiiab'ed mo to gct a view of the street. As the )orter strodo away with my luggage, I bscrved a mau cross the road aud acost hit. ín reply to what was obviusly a question, the poner, with the jesticulation of a Frencbman, pointed vith bis thurnb to the hotel, and vigoroualy nodded bis head. The man crossd over again lo the pavernent, carne on until he was opposite tbe hotel, caugbt ight of me tbrougb tbe window, and bruptly turning on bis heel, walked on n the directioD taken by the porter. Having discharged my bilí, I walked o the railway station. On one platbrm tliero v.'as much tumult, a train 'rom Paris having juat arrived. But pon the platform against which stood lie train which was to bear me to the tfortb, I counted only fivo people, exlusive of portera. The shrill whistle of tbe guard soundd. The engine gave a snort, and the ine of carringes clanked to their cliaius s they tightened tú the train. Suddeoy several voices cried "Stop I stop ! íow, then, quick ! Which class - first? jet's see your ticket. Higbt. Here ou are - jump in !" The door of my arringe was opened, a form bounded n, the door wat) slammed, tbcre was nother shrill wbistle and off went the rain. I looked at my companion. He was ie man whom I bad noticed ppek to ie porter and stare into the window of my hotel. A thrill passed over me. My recent acape had greatly shaken my nervous ystem, aud tbe apparition of a man whom I felt I ought to suspect, sent a bilí through roy blood. As a peasant, which he wss - nnt expressed ODly in his re8S, but in his hands, which were dirty, ough and horny, - what did he do in a rst-class carriage ? I would have given omelhing to havo cbanged cariiuges. iut there was no communication with ríe guard. Moreover, the train, as I íave told yon, was an express, and did ot stop until a run of thirty-six miles itd becn accomplisbed. We were now ow)ing along with great rapidity. I begnn, after a time, to regain my omposure. I struggled to laugh down my fears. What, I thought, had I to ear frora a man I had never seen - who íad never seen me ? The thing was repoBterouti. I extracted a paper from my pocket, and commenced to read. Kalfanhour passed awoy. All at nee, over the edge of my uewspaper, I aw him put bis hand out of the window s if to open the door. I had not time o conjccture his inlention when, with a wild, Bei caminí whistle, we were burled nto the nigbt of a long tunnel. rapid disappearance of tbe dayight made the oil lamp suspeadod in the arriago emit but the dullest light for ome minutes. I laid the ncwspaper down, with all my oM fears rcvived iu me. I had carocly done bo when I saw the outline f a man rise in the carriage. He leapd over to whero I was sealed. I saw ie gleaui of a knife in tho air. 71 'id with passica and surprise, I ;rasped the desi-.cuding arm. A furious etermination to save my lifj inspired ie with tho strength of a giant. The erocity with wliich 1 seized bis wrist 'rced the hand open. Tho knife feil, od then commenced a tilent, furious trugglo. lloseizcd me by the collar, andclung with the tenacity of a tiger. I heard lis snapping tceth, as if he were endeavoring to bite. Wo swayed from ono end of the car to tbe otber. I feit bow ! weak ill-hcalth had left m, and prsyetl to pasa out into tbe light, that I might the bettec eee bow to eacountor the rufliaa. Suddenly 1 feit uiyself swung round with tremétidous energy. I bounded ngainRt' a door, which opened, and we both feil out on to tho liues, in the very center of the tunnel. Tho fsill scomed to have stunned hiiii, for ho fel! uoder me and remained for a time niotionle83. For myself, I reoeived an indeseribable shook, such as is ex perienced in a colusión ; but I retained my seises I keard the roar of tho train dying away n the distauce. I Paw the red gleam fading like the eyo of a dying demon. I still clutched him by the throat, nor did I dare to relinquish t. My situation wasfrightful, I suspected that a down train would soon be passing, and n the intense blackness of tho tunnel T could not see on vhich line wc bnd fallen. I would have stretrhed forth my hand to grope fur tho rails ; I niight have found u placo of safety by judging of the distance between them ; but I feit tho form of my assailaot commenoe to writho beneath me. His struggles grew fiercer. Ho endeavored to rise ; but with the fury of despair I kept him pre;-sod down, oue hr.; 1 ou his throat, tho other on his breusc, What I desired was to render him insensible. I would then leavc him in the darknesg, and grope my way as I eould. A few minutes had elapsed whon I board a distant rumbling like approaching thunder. It inoreased. I seemed to feel a wind blowing ngainst my face I ta.stad, too, a continual draught of smoke and steam. I knew that n train was approacliing, and roy hair lifted on ray hcad. What rails wero we on 'i The suspense was frightful. My assailant increased his struggles. He became fuïious. Ho was evideutly fighting to throw me down, and over in the direction of that side of the tunnel along which came the roar of tbe train. I saw his object, and madly pressed upou him. His body frantically writhed. He twiated under me as if he revolved on a pivot. He endeavored to phriek some words to me, but my throttling grawp made liia voice no more thau a horrible hoarseuess. I saw the red and green lights of the engiue approaching ; thcy grew in size ind lustre with a hideous rapidity. There was a roar, a shower of dust, a wind that struck me down like a blow from a strong nian'a hand ; then followed the dying rattle, ending in a dull and sudden ijioiin. 1 rose to my feet. I crossed over to the wall, and feeling along it, took to walking nitk all the speed my sinking fiamo would su fier me to put forth. Now and then I stuuibled over piles of rubbish l}'ing grouping agaiust tbe side, aud sometimes my gropiug was bewildered by coming aeross reoesseg into which my hands guided me. At leugth I saw a siar, tremulous, glorious, in the distance. It was daylight - tho apertura of tbe tunnel - and I pushed forwardwith invigorated spirits. I Dcaredit slowly ; far tbis star eeemed to maiütain an inexorable distance, and would not enlarge. How shall I describo my joy as I gained tbe twilight of its reflection - as I advanced and felt the pure air of Heaven upon iny dry cbeeks and buroiog lips - as I saw tbe blue sky and tbe dim vista of palo green bauks ! I seated mysslf to rocover my strength. I could nee that I proiented a disnial and terrible epectacle. My coat was torn, my bands were blaok - so, too, I judged. was my face - my collar bad been torn from me, and tbe skin at tbe ends of my fingers was lacerated. After reposiüg myaelf I climbed the bank, and perceived at about the distanoe of a mile a email station. I made towards it, and gained it. A railway official, who was standiDg looking at two cbildren playing in a back garden, uttered a loud cry of alarm as be spied me. I narrated my story to him as coherently as I could, and then sunk upon the ground in a fainting condition. Of what happened fter tbis I have no remembrance. When I carne to my senses I discoverod that I had been taken to the house of the station master, and carefully tended by his wife. From him I learnt the conclusión of tbis niggular incident in my lifa. It seems that after my story had been told, two men were dispatcbed into the tunnel in search of my absailant. They diccovered him lying dead, with botb hi.-i lege cut clean off a litt!e above tbe knecs. They bore the corpse to an adjacent dead house ; aod an inquiry into bis death brougbt out such particulars as are very easily anticipated. Tbe man wbo hadeo very closely resembled me at V had betrajed the betrothed of a laborer, on Thedore Vertot. Tbis Theodore, recklees now of lifo, and resol utely bent on vengeance, swore to kill tbe betrayer. Mistaking me for his enemy, he attempted lo shoot me. This failing, he hung about the hotel armed with a stiletto, determined to stab me wlienover I should appear in the street. Heartog, however, tbat I was about leaving for Paris, he perceived a better and safor meaos of prosecutiug his design, by stabbing me in the tunnel, throngh 'whicb he koew I would paos, and then escaping iu the darkness.