1703 - Faubourg St.Germain, Paris
Late at night, in a deserted street. Animals and people deep asleep. Nothing moved – or almost nothing.
The mansion stood somewhat apart from the others and had a big, surrounding garden. The building looked deserted, which made it an ideal place for a break-in.
Jaquot dropped the piece of metal he used to pry open a lock. “Merde!” he hissed, because the metal made a clanging noise as it landed on the cobbles.
“Don’t get nervous, mon ami,” said Louison, his companion.
Jaquot picked up the metal and continued on the lock. This one soon opened, and the two men slid inside the hall of the house. They were members of a gang of thieves who operated out of the Quartier Saint-Denis. They had received a tip that this house was well worth their visit.
“Where to?” whispered Louison, as Jaquot was the one who took the decisions.
“Nothing down here,” answered Jaquot in equally hushed tones. “All the valuables are upstairs.” He lighted his lantern with its narrow beam.- just enough light to see where they were going.
The two men sneaked up the stairs and soon found themselves on the first floor. There they opened each door they passed. A few valuables, like an expensive clock and some silver candlesticks, disappeared in the leather bag they had brought along.
Next they entered a bedroom. In it their noses picked up a whiff of perfume, as if the room had been occupied not long before.
“Thought no-one lived here,” said Louison.
Jaquot’s light wandered through the room. All of a sudden, the beam reflected on something. Lousion advanced to have a better look and soon held up a diamond necklace, which even in this dark room sparkled. “Our boss will be pleased,” he said to his mate. At the exact moment he turned to inspect other parts of the room, he stumbled.
“You’re getting older, mon ami,” chuckled Jaquot. “Your eyes are not sharp anymore.”
Louison did not answer – which was unusual for him. He kept staring at the ground.
Growing a bit worried, Jaquot hastened to his side. “What’s the matter?”
His mate did not answer, only pointed to what was lying before him – the stiffened body of a young woman.
In life, this woman had been a beauty. The silk nightgown she wore did little to conceal the luscious curves of her body. But right now the face was distorted in pain and the open eyes reflected some of the agony the woman had suffered before death released her.
Jaquot moved the beam of his lantern a little. Next to the woman’s outstretched arm lay a broken wineglass. He kneeled down and held his nose to the remainder of the liquid it had held. “Poison!” was his verdict. “Come on, mon ami, we’re out of here!”
“Do you know who she is?” whispered Louison.
“No, and I don’t care. I just know we have to be gone – I don’t want anything to do with filthy murder!”
The two thieves hastened down the stairs, without further notice to the other valuables in the house. Soon they disappeared in the blackness of the night.