The Countess affected to stifle a yawn, and repeated like an echo, "Nothing."
"Three months later, when the police had given up the matter in despair, one of George de Croisenois' friends received a letter from him."
'He was not dead then, after all?"
Dr. Hortebise made a mental note of the tone and manner of the Countess, to consider over at his leisure.
"Who can say?" returned he. "The envelope bore the Cairo post-mark. In it George declared that, bored with Parisian life, he was going to start on an exploring expedition to Central Africa, and that no one need be anxious about him. People thought this letter highly suspicious. A man does not start upon such an expedition as this without money; and it was conclusively proved that on the day of De Croisenois' disappearance he had not more than a thousand francs about him, half of which was in Spanish doubloons, won at whist before dinner. The letter was therefore regarded as a trick to turn the police off the scent; but the best experts asserted that the handwriting was George's own. Two detectives were at once despatched to Cairo, but neither there nor anywhere on the road were any traces of the missing man discovered."
As the doctor spoke, he kept his eyes riveted on the Countess, but her face was impassable.
Dr. Hortebise paused a few moments before he replied, and then answered slowly,--
"A man came to me yesterday, and asserts that you can tell me what has become of George de Croisenois."