ARRESTED

Two nights afterward, as Frederick was seated at dinner in the large
dining-room of the Cafe Riche, two well dressed men walked up to his
table and informed him that they had a warrant for his arrest on a
charge of having murdered the demi-mondaine, Rose Hartmann.

It is needless to recount the weary formalities and interrogatories
to which Frederick was subjected during the next few weeks. He was,
however, clever enough to evade all attempts made to discover his
real identity, and was encouraged by his lawyer to believe that his
conviction on the evidence which had been obtained against him would be
a matter of great difficulty.

A month later the trial was opened with due form and ceremony. As soon
as the judges—dressed in their scarlet robes lined with ermine—had
taken their seats, immediately under the life-like picture of the
Crucifixion which forms so striking a feature of every French court
of justice, the prisoner was led in between two “Gardes de Paris,”
and was conducted to his place in the dock. The court-room was
comparatively empty, popular interest at that moment being centered in
the courts-martial which were being held at Versailles on the various
leaders of the Commune. After again stating in reply to the inquiries
of the president that his name was Frederick Wolff, and that he was of
Austrian origin, although born in London, his indictment was read. It
charged him with having administered a poisonous dose of morphia to his
mistress a _femme galante_ of the name of Rose Hartmann, a native of
Berlin. It further stated that an autopsy had revealed the fact that
the dose had been administered in a manner which displayed an intimate
knowledge of the chemical properties of the drug.

Frederick’s counsel thereupon arose and began his speech in defense
of the young man. He urged that his client could have no object in
murdering his mistress, to whom he was passionately attached, and on
whom he had showered innumerable and lavish tokens of his affection. He
painted in graphic colors the career of the dead woman in the annals
of the Parisian _galanterie_, related how Frederick had made her
acquaintance at the Jardin Mabille, and finally wound up by insinuating
that, the woman being addicted to the use of chloral and morphia as
sleeping draughts, her death was due to an overdose of the drug,
administered by her own hand. He concluded his speech by an eloquent
appeal to the jury to acquit his client.

The advocate-general (district attorney) then arose and begged leave
of the court to summon two witnesses of whose existence he had only
become aware a few hours previously, and whose testimony was calculated
to shed a most important light on the case. A few moments afterward a
short, fat man, with spectacles, was shown into the witness-box.

Frederick, who had retained a stoical calm until then, became deadly
pale.

The witness, after having been duly sworn, stated that his name was
Christian Martin, and that he was a bookseller by trade. He testified
that about ten days before the newspapers published an account of the
murder of Rose Hartmann, a young man visited his shop in the Rue de
Rivoli, and purchased several works on toxicology. He had specially
asked for the most recent publications on the subject of opium and
morphine, and explained that he had recently returned from a long
sojourn in the far East, where he had become interested in the study
of the deleterious effects of these drugs among the natives. The
bookseller added that the stranger had declined to allow him to send
the books selected, but had insisted on taking them away with him in
his carriage. M. Martin’s attention had been specially attracted to the
young man by the mention of his residence in the Orient, and by the
remarkable knowledge which he displayed of the properties of hashish,
and other narcotics used by the Asiatics. He had, however, thought
no more about the matter until the previous evening, when passing in
front of the offices of the _Figaro_, a portrait displayed on the
bulletin-board of the newspaper had caught his eye. On examining it
more closely, he had recognized therein the features of the gentleman
who had visited his shop some weeks previously for the purpose of
buying books on toxicology; and having learned from the superscription
that it was the picture of “Baron” F. Wolff, the suspected murderer
of Rose Hartmann, he had deemed it his duty to inform the commissary
of police of the district of the facts above mentioned. The latter,
knowing that the trial was about to begin, had given him a letter to
the advocate-general and had sent him off post-haste to the Palais de
Justice.

[Illustration: FREDERICK ON TRIAL FOR HIS LIFE.]

The sensation produced by this evidence both on the judges and the jury
was most prejudicial to Frederick’s case, which until then had appeared
extremely promising.

But the climax was reached when, a few minutes afterward, a lady, in an
extremely loud and startling toilet, was ushered into the witness-box.
Frederick gazed at her inquiringly, but was unable to recall to mind
ever having met her before.

“Your name, madam?” inquired the president.

“Cora de St. Augustin.”

“Your residence?”

“206 Rue Blanche.”

“Your age?”

(After a moment’s hesitation). “Nineteen.”

“Your profession?”

(A long pause). “Premiere danseuse.”

The Judge—“Of what theater? Is it of the Grande Opera?”

(A little longer pause). “_Non, mon President—du—du Jardin Mabille._”

This announcement appeared to create a considerable amount of amusement
in court.

After furnishing the court with information on all these points, “Mme.
de St. Augustin” proceeded to relate that she had been on terms of
great intimacy with Rose Hartmann, whose acquaintance she admitted,
after some pressure on the part of the president, to having made at
St. Lazarre. Meeting Rose a few days after the latter’s migration from
the Rue de Constantinople to the Avenue de l’Imperatrice, she had
congratulated her on her altered fortunes, and had questioned her about
her new “_Protecteur_.” Rose, it appeared, had replied, that, as far as
the material advantages were concerned, she had nothing to complain of,
but that her lover was a peculiar kind of man, with whom she did not
feel altogether safe, and that, if she listened to her presentiments,
she would certainly decline to have anything further to do with him.
“She added,” declared the fair Cora, “‘I have a queer, uncanny feeling
about that man. Indeed, I shouldn’t be surprised if I came to grief
through him some day. Remember, _ma chere_, if anything ever happens to
me, you may depend upon it that he will have had something to do with
the matter. I believe him to be capable of anything, but he is too good
a catch, financially speaking, to be abandoned until a more desirable
party turns up.’”

Then, satisfied with the impression which her remarks had produced,
the witness turned toward the judges, and inquired whether “_ces
messieurs_” had any further questions to ask. On receiving a reply in
the negative, she swept out of the witness-box, and dropping a low
courtesy, in which she graciously included both the public and the
tribunal, she passed out.

Thereupon, the advocate-general arose and commenced his argument for
the prosecution. He used the evidence of the two witnesses who had
just been heard by the court with crushing effect, and wound up his
brilliant and clever peroration by a demand to the jury that they
should mete out to the prisoner the full penalty of the law.

The jury then retired, and remained absent about three-quarters of an
hour. When they reappeared, their foreman, in response to the inquiry
of the presiding judge, declared that their unanimous verdict was to
the effect that the prisoner was guilty of the murder of Rose Hartmann;
but that, in view of the purely circumstantial nature of the evidence
submitted to them, they recommended him to the mercy of the court.

The president, addressing Frederick, asked whether he had any reason to
put forward why the sentence of the law should not be pronounced upon
him.

Amid a profound silence, Frederick answered:

“I can only once more swear by all that I hold sacred that I am
innocent of the crime laid to my charge. I was deeply attached to the
poor girl whom I am accused of having murdered, and it ought to be
clear to every one present that I had no possible object to attain in
putting an end to her days. It is not mercy I demand, but justice.”

The president, after consulting with his two associate judges, then,
in a loud and impressive voice, pronounced the sentence of the
court, whereby “Frederick Wolff” was condemned to twenty years penal
servitude, and to ten years more police supervision and loss of civil
rights.