Worthington reached for his cloak and glanced at the time piece in its pocket, noting with a raise of an eyebrow the lateness of the hour. He wondered if he was doing justice to the man. He had known him for only half his own lifetime; how could he summarize in hours a life that he knew was measured in centuries?
“Doctor, I have ascertained that the Comte de Saint Germain did not exist for twenty years after the time of Diderici, until he recruited me in 1835. The furniture, books, and laboratory supplies he had shipped from France for our restoration of the manor at Anglesea, came from the barn and cellar of a country cottage that is no longer there. Out of curiosity I visited the place once. The house that once stood there was burnt to the ground and the locals shun the place.
“Although he has never confided in me in this regard, it is plain that my master lost someone in 1815, someone he loved dearly, soon after the night he defeated Diderici.
“Doctor, I know we have all lost dear people in our lives. And perhaps we could be tempted to believe that, for one whose life is counted in centuries, such loss would become commonplace. But maybe for that very reason he learned to lessen the attachment, keep his guard, distance his heart at all times… that is, until one special person, against every argument of reason, broke through. And, perhaps, for the first time, he loved. If this is so, then I cannot contemplate the depths of passion that that loss wrought upon his person. He disappeared in 1815. He said he wasted those next two decades. I believe he came almost to ending his own life.”
“The Marguerite of the notebooks,” Bernice said softly.
“Yes, I believe so. She must have been the woman in the portrait. And it must have been Diderici who killed her. It is plain that the master blamed himself for it.
“He must have decided never again to run that risk; for after the Wilshire affair he changed his methods. He began working alone, and did so for about a decade. During this time, in anticipation of his next life, he established an estate in Mexico and another in the Southern United States as his bases of operation. The household at Anglesea saw him only every three or four years, and always late at night.
“He kept me apprised of his progress and needs by mail (and telegraph if there was urgency) using our own cipher. During those years he measured his success by the precipitous drop in loup-garoux and vampire cases that required his attention. But soon he began to suspect that the occult heads of the Hydra, Elias’ fear mongers, had simply changed their tactics.
“And then came the revolutions of 1848. He found the simplicity of their motivation to be out of proportion with the extent of their scope. As Alexis de Tocqueville put it, all of European Society appeared to have been cut in two: ‘those who had nothing had united in common envy, and those who had anything united in common terror.’”
“During this time the master allied himself briefly with Wilhelm Stieber, chief of the Berlin police, and together they investigated an exiled political extremist named Marx. The man, with his associate, a German, Engels, drafted a manifesto matched only by the Illuminati papers in its gross vilification of traditional government. The document was at heart self-contradictory. Yet the movement they fostered quickly became a major force in the political undercurrents of the next decade.
“That, and Heinzen’s essay of 1849 entitled, Murder, where the author espoused the assassinations of leaders and even the mass murders of innocent civilians as acceptable political tools, convinced the master that something had changed in the other heads of the Hydra as well. The power brokers were becoming bolder.