After pleasantries were exchanged he launched rather suddenly into a series of inquiries regarding my relationship with the De Rodez family, proclaiming himself, once again to be a good family friend. When I pointed out that dear friends do not challenge each other to deadly duels, he retorted that he could not vouch for his temper at the time, and had wished afterwards to retract the challenge, but could not do so without further embarrassment. He had not expected the duel to be so fierce.
Thinking to shock him with my knowledge of his deeds I then accused him of being the author of the plan to poison me. His countenance was all surprise at this and he flatly denied even being in town at the time of the affair, claiming to have been the guest of the Duke d'A- then.
Before leaving he admitted to having heard from the Dowager Countess de R- that it was I who caused her to doubt his sincere interest in her daughter, and his plea that I should understand how truly he wished to be the fortunate husband of a woman he had admired since girlhood, touched my heart considerably. After he departed I considered for a long time everything that he had said, and determined to find out whether he really had been away at the time of my poisoning.
Duly I sent a note to the Duke d'A- himself, requesting of him the name and substance of a dish that the Marquis had raved to me about since his visit. In due course the answer came, and in it the Duke confirmed that the Marquis de Menars had been his guest at that time, and suggested a dish which might be the same as that which he described. This sent me into a whirl of confusion. If Menars had not been in Paris at the time, then why did my servant, the footman Robert, claim that he had been the one who had given him the poison? And more disturbing still, why did F- and R- tell me that they had seen Robert thrown out of his Paris home when he went to confront the Marquis? Try as I might I could not seem to reason a way in which they might all be telling the truth; and if Menars were not lying, as it seemed that he was not, then who was behind the poisoning, and who was it that lied? If F- were indeed behind Thierry's Lettre de Cachet, what else might he be capable of? And was dear R- involved as well?
All of this swam through my mind like a snake in a pond, slithering into my every memory of the last few years, causing me to doubt what I had never doubted before. I barely slept night after night. Finally, the wretched clerk from the police brought me the original letter which had condemned Thierry as a spy, and which caused the Lettre de Cachet to be issued against him. It was very plain, but in an elegant hand and well-written. The paper held traces of perfume, which I feel sure I have perceived upon the Marquis de Franconville-aux-bois' person. The question which I now must answer is why he would plot so much treachery against me. Then I must act quickly to bring him to ruin.