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THE BLACK WOLF'S BREED

humbled pride, his eyes never leaving the floor, continued resolutely.

"The story is short. Over a hundred years ago the Count d'Artin was murdered in his castle by the son of a peasant woman, his half brother, who assumed the title and seized the estates. This was easy in those times, for the murdered man was a Huguenot, his slayer a Catholic in the service of Guise, and it was the day after St. Bartholomew's. The count had sent his infant son for safety to an old friend, the abbott of a neighboring monastery. This child was brought up in the Catholic faith, and in him and his descendants resided the true right of the Counts d'Artin. Of this they have always been ignorant. The usurper on his death bed repented, and calling his own son to him, told him the whole story, exacting a solemn oath that he would find the disinherited one and restore to him his own. This oath was kept in part. His son, Raoul d'Ortez, found the child, then an officer in the army, but lacked the courage to declare his own shame, and relinquish the price of his father's crime. By that Raoul d'Ortez this locket was made, and the same vow and the same tradition were handed down to me. I have no child. God knows I would give up the accursed heritage if I could.

"During all these years a careful record has been kept of the true lineage, which was only broken in my father's time. Here in this packet are the papers which prove it; I confide them to you upon my death. After I am gone I want you to find the last d'Artin."