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Title: The Confessions of Arsène Lupin
Author: Leblanc, Maurice, 1864-1941
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Confessions of Arsène Lupin" ***

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[Illustration: "_Suddenly he rushed at her and caught her by the arm_"]



    THE INTERNATIONAL
    ADVENTURE LIBRARY


    THREE OWLS EDITION

     THE CONFESSIONS
     OF ARSÈNE LUPIN

    An Adventure Story

           BY
     MAURICE LEBLANC
 Author of "Arsène Lupin"

   W. R. CALDWELL & CO.
         NEW YORK



 _Copyright, 1912, 1913, by_
 Maurice Leblanc

 _All rights reserved, including that of
 translation into foreign languages,
 including the Scandinavian_



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                               PAGE

    I. TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND FRANCS REWARD!               1

    II. THE WEDDING-RING                                36

    III. THE SIGN OF THE SHADOW                         66

    IV. THE INFERNAL TRAP                              101

    V. THE RED SILK SCARF                              138

    VI. SHADOWED BY DEATH                              177

    VII. A TRAGEDY IN THE FOREST OF MORGUES            210

    VIII. LUPIN'S MARRIAGE                             228

    IX. THE INVISIBLE PRISONER                         266

    X. EDITH SWAN-NECK                                 291



THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSÈNE LUPIN



THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSÈNE LUPIN



I

TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND FRANCS REWARD!...


"Lupin," I said, "tell me something about yourself."

"Why, what would you have me tell you? Everybody knows my life!" replied
Lupin, who lay drowsing on the sofa in my study.

"Nobody knows it!" I protested. "People know from your letters in the
newspapers that you were mixed up in this case, that you started that
case. But the part which you played in it all, the plain facts of the
story, the upshot of the mystery: these are things of which they know
nothing."

"Pooh! A heap of uninteresting twaddle!"

"What! Your present of fifty thousand francs to Nicolas Dugrival's wife!
Do you call that uninteresting? And what about the way in which you
solved the puzzle of the three pictures?"

Lupin laughed:

"Yes, that was a queer puzzle, certainly. I can suggest a title for you
if you like: what do you say to _The Sign of the Shadow_?"

"And your successes in society and with the fair sex?" I continued. "The
dashing Arsène's love-affairs!... And the clue to your good actions?
Those chapters in your life to which you have so often alluded under the
names of _The Wedding-ring_, _Shadowed by Death_, and so on!... Why
delay these confidences and confessions, my dear Lupin?... Come, do what
I ask you!..."

It was at the time when Lupin, though already famous, had not yet fought
his biggest battles; the time that preceded the great adventures of _The
Hollow Needle_ and _813_. He had not yet dreamt of annexing the
accumulated treasures of the French Royal House[A] nor of changing the
map of Europe under the Kaiser's nose[B]: he contented himself with
milder surprises and humbler profits, making his daily effort, doing
evil from day to day and doing a little good as well, naturally and for
the love of the thing, like a whimsical and compassionate Don Quixote.


  [A] _The Hollow Needle._ By Maurice Leblanc. Translated by Alexander
  Teixeira de Mattos (Eveleigh Nash).

  [B] _813._ By Maurice Leblanc. Translated by Alexander Teixeira de
  Mattos (Mills & Boon).


He was silent; and I insisted:

"Lupin, I wish you would!"

To my astonishment, he replied:

"Take a sheet of paper, old fellow, and a pencil."

I obeyed with alacrity, delighted at the thought that he at last meant
to dictate to me some of those pages which he knows how to clothe with
such vigour and fancy, pages which I, unfortunately, am obliged to spoil
with tedious explanations and boring developments.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

"Quite."

"Write down, 20, 1, 11, 5, 14, 15."

"What?"

"Write it down, I tell you."

He was now sitting up, with his eyes turned to the open window and his
fingers rolling a Turkish cigarette. He continued:

"Write down, 21, 14, 14, 5...."

He stopped. Then he went on:

"3, 5, 19, 19 ..."

And, after a pause:

"5, 18, 25 ..."

Was he mad? I looked at him hard and, presently, I saw that his eyes
were no longer listless, as they had been a little before, but keen and
attentive and that they seemed to be watching, somewhere, in space, a
sight that apparently captivated them.

Meanwhile, he dictated, with intervals between each number:

"18, 9, 19, 11, 19 ..."

There was hardly anything to be seen through the window but a patch of
blue sky on the right and the front of the building opposite, an old
private house, whose shutters were closed as usual. There was nothing
particular about all this, no detail that struck me as new among those
which I had had before my eyes for years....

"1, 2...."

And suddenly I understood ... or rather I thought I understood, for how
could I admit that Lupin, a man so essentially level-headed under his
mask of frivolity, could waste his time upon such childish nonsense?
What he was counting was the intermittent flashes of a ray of sunlight
playing on the dingy front of the opposite house, at the height of the
second floor!

"15, 22 ..." said Lupin.

The flash disappeared for a few seconds and then struck the house again,
successively, at regular intervals, and disappeared once more.

I had instinctively counted the flashes and I said, aloud:

"5...."

"Caught the idea? I congratulate you!" he replied, sarcastically.

He went to the window and leant out, as though to discover the exact
direction followed by the ray of light. Then he came and lay on the sofa
again, saying:

"It's your turn now. Count away!"

The fellow seemed so positive that I did as he told me. Besides, I could
not help confessing that there was something rather curious about the
ordered frequency of those gleams on the front of the house opposite,
those appearances and disappearances, turn and turn about, like so many
flash signals.

They obviously came from a house on our side of the street, for the sun
was entering my windows slantwise. It was as though some one were
alternately opening and shutting a casement, or, more likely, amusing
himself by making sunlight flashes with a pocket-mirror.

"It's a child having a game!" I cried, after a moment or two, feeling a
little irritated by the trivial occupation that had been thrust upon me.

"Never mind, go on!"

And I counted away.... And I put down rows of figures.... And the sun
continued to play in front of me, with mathematical precision.

"Well?" said Lupin, after a longer pause than usual.

"Why, it seems finished.... There has been nothing for some
minutes...."

We waited and, as no more light flashed through space, I said,
jestingly:

"My idea is that we have been wasting our time. A few figures on paper:
a poor result!"

Lupin, without stirring from his sofa, rejoined:

"Oblige me, old chap, by putting in the place of each of those numbers
the corresponding letter of the alphabet. Count A as 1, B as 2 and so
on. Do you follow me?"

"But it's idiotic!"

"Absolutely idiotic, but we do such a lot of idiotic things in this
life.... One more or less, you know!..."

I sat down to this silly work and wrote out the first letters:


    "_Take no...._"


I broke off in surprise:

"Words!" I exclaimed. "Two English words meaning...."

"Go on, old chap."

And I went on and the next letters formed two more words, which I
separated as they appeared. And, to my great amazement, a complete
English sentence lay before my eyes.

"Done?" asked Lupin, after a time.

"Done!... By the way, there are mistakes in the spelling...."

"Never mind those and read it out, please.... Read slowly."

Thereupon I read out the following unfinished communication, which I
will set down as it appeared on the paper in front of me:


    "_Take no unnecessery risks. Above all, avoid atacks, approach
    ennemy with great prudance and...._"


I began to laugh:

"And there you are! _Fiat lux!_ We're simply dazed with light! But,
after all, Lupin, confess that this advice, dribbled out by a
kitchen-maid, doesn't help you much!"

Lupin rose, without breaking his contemptuous silence, and took the
sheet of paper.

I remembered soon after that, at this moment, I happened to look at the
clock. It was eighteen minutes past five.

Lupin was standing with the paper in his hand; and I was able at my ease
to watch, on his youthful features, that extraordinary mobility of
expression which baffles all observers and constitutes his great
strength and his chief safeguard. By what signs can one hope to identify
a face which changes at pleasure, even without the help of make-up, and
whose every transient expression seems to be the final, definite
expression?... By what signs? There was one which I knew well, an
invariable sign: Two little crossed wrinkles that marked his forehead
whenever he made a powerful effort of concentration. And I saw it at
that moment, saw the tiny tell-tale cross, plainly and deeply scored.

He put down the sheet of paper and muttered:

"Child's play!"

The clock struck half-past five.

"What!" I cried. "Have you succeeded?... In twelve minutes?..."

He took a few steps up and down the room, lit a cigarette and said:

"You might ring up Baron Repstein, if you don't mind, and tell him I
shall be with him at ten o'clock this evening."

"Baron Repstein?" I asked. "The husband of the famous baroness?"

"Yes."

"Are you serious?"

"Quite serious."

Feeling absolutely at a loss, but incapable of resisting him, I opened
the telephone-directory and unhooked the receiver. But, at that moment,
Lupin stopped me with a peremptory gesture and said, with his eyes on
the paper, which he had taken up again:

"No, don't say anything.... It's no use letting him know.... There's
something more urgent ... a queer thing that puzzles me.... Why on
earth wasn't the last sentence finished? Why is the sentence...."

He snatched up his hat and stick:

"Let's be off. If I'm not mistaken, this is a business that requires
immediate solution; and I don't believe I _am_ mistaken."

He put his arm through mine, as we went down the stairs, and said:

"I know what everybody knows. Baron Repstein, the company-promoter and
racing-man, whose colt Etna won the Derby and the Grand Prix this year,
has been victimized by his wife. The wife, who was well known for her
fair hair, her dress and her extravagance, ran away a fortnight ago,
taking with her a sum of three million francs, stolen from her husband,
and quite a collection of diamonds, pearls and jewellery which the
Princesse de Berny had placed in her hands and which she was supposed to
buy. For two weeks the police have been pursuing the baroness across
France and the continent: an easy job, as she scatters gold and jewels
wherever she goes. They think they have her every moment. Two days ago,
our champion detective, the egregious Ganimard, arrested a visitor at a
big hotel in Belgium, a woman against whom the most positive evidence
seemed to be heaped up. On enquiry, the lady turned out to be a
notorious chorus-girl called Nelly Darbal. As for the baroness, she has
vanished. The baron, on his side, has offered a reward of two hundred
thousand francs to whosoever finds his wife. The money is in the hands
of a solicitor. Moreover, he has sold his racing-stud, his house on the
Boulevard Haussmann and his country-seat of Roquencourt in one lump, so
that he may indemnify the Princesse de Berny for her loss."

"And the proceeds of the sale," I added, "are to be paid over at once.
The papers say that the princess will have her money to-morrow. Only,
frankly, I fail to see the connection between this story, which you have
told very well, and the puzzling sentence...."

Lupin did not condescend to reply.

We had been walking down the street in which I live and had passed some
four or five houses, when he stepped off the pavement and began to
examine a block of flats, not of the latest construction, which looked
as if it contained a large number of tenants:

"According to my calculations," he said, "this is where the signals came
from, probably from that open window."

"On the third floor?"

"Yes."

He went to the portress and asked her:

"Does one of your tenants happen to be acquainted with Baron Repstein?"

"Why, of course!" replied the woman. "We have M. Lavernoux here, such a
nice gentleman; he is the baron's secretary and agent. I look after his
flat."

"And can we see him?"

"See him?... The poor gentleman is very ill."

"Ill?"

"He's been ill a fortnight ... ever since the trouble with the
baroness.... He came home the next day with a temperature and took to
his bed."

"But he gets up, surely?"

"Ah, that I can't say!"

"How do you mean, you can't say?"

"No, his doctor won't let any one into his room. He took my key from
me."

"Who did?"

"The doctor. He comes and sees to his wants, two or three times a day.
He left the house only twenty minutes ago ... an old gentleman with a
grey beard and spectacles.... Walks quite bent.... But where are you
going sir?"

"I'm going up, show me the way," said Lupin, with his foot on the
stairs. "It's the third floor, isn't it, on the left?"

"But I mustn't!" moaned the portress, running after him. "Besides, I
haven't the key ... the doctor...."

They climbed the three flights, one behind the other. On the landing,
Lupin took a tool from his pocket and, disregarding the woman's
protests, inserted it in the lock. The door yielded almost immediately.
We went in.

At the back of a small dark room we saw a streak of light filtering
through a door that had been left ajar. Lupin ran across the room and,
on reaching the threshold, gave a cry:

"Too late! Oh, hang it all!"

The portress fell on her knees, as though fainting.

I entered the bedroom, in my turn, and saw a man lying half-dressed on
the carpet, with his legs drawn up under him, his arms contorted and his
face quite white, an emaciated, fleshless face, with the eyes still
staring in terror and the mouth twisted into a hideous grin.

"He's dead," said Lupin, after a rapid examination.

"But why?" I exclaimed. "There's not a trace of blood!"

"Yes, yes, there is," replied Lupin, pointing to two or three drops that
showed on the chest, through the open shirt. "Look, they must have taken
him by the throat with one hand and pricked him to the heart with the
other. I say, 'pricked,' because really the wound can't be seen. It
suggests a hole made by a very long needle."


[Illustration: "_Lupin took a tool from his pocket ... and inserted it
in the lock_"]


He looked on the floor, all round the corpse. There was nothing to
attract his attention, except a little pocket-mirror, the little mirror
with which M. Lavernoux had amused himself by making the sunbeams dance
through space.

But, suddenly, as the portress was breaking into lamentations and
calling for help, Lupin flung himself on her and shook her:

"Stop that!... Listen to me ... you can call out later.... Listen to me
and answer me. It is most important. M. Lavernoux had a friend living in
this street, had he not? On the same side, to the right? An intimate
friend?"

"Yes."

"A friend whom he used to meet at the café in the evening and with whom
he exchanged the illustrated papers?"

"Yes."

"Was the friend an Englishman?"

"Yes."

"What's his name?"

"Mr. Hargrove."

"Where does he live?"

"At No. 92 in this street."

"One word more: had that old doctor been attending him long?"

"No. I did not know him. He came on the evening when M. Lavernoux was
taken ill."

Without another word, Lupin dragged me away once more, ran down the
stairs and, once in the street, turned to the right, which took us past
my flat again. Four doors further, he stopped at No. 92, a small,
low-storied house, of which the ground-floor was occupied by the
proprietor of a dram-shop, who stood smoking in his doorway, next to the
entrance-passage. Lupin asked if Mr. Hargrove was at home.

"Mr. Hargrove went out about half-an-hour ago," said the publican. "He
seemed very much excited and took a taxi-cab, a thing he doesn't often
do."

"And you don't know...."

"Where he was going? Well, there's no secret about it He shouted it loud
enough! 'Prefecture of Police' is what he said to the driver...."

Lupin was himself just hailing a taxi, when he changed his mind; and I
heard him mutter:

"What's the good? He's got too much start of us...."

He asked if any one called after Mr. Hargrove had gone.

"Yes, an old gentleman with a grey beard and spectacles. He went up to
Mr. Hargrove's, rang the bell, and went away again."

"I am much obliged," said Lupin, touching his hat.

He walked away slowly without speaking to me, wearing a thoughtful air.
There was no doubt that the problem struck him as very difficult, and
that he saw none too clearly in the darkness through which he seemed to
be moving with such certainty.

He himself, for that matter, confessed to me:

"These are cases that require much more intuition than reflection. But
this one, I may tell you, is well worth taking pains about."

We had now reached the boulevards. Lupin entered a public reading-room
and spent a long time consulting the last fortnight's newspapers. Now
and again, he mumbled:

"Yes ... yes ... of course ... it's only a guess, but it explains
everything.... Well, a guess that answers every question is not far from
being the truth...."

It was now dark. We dined at a little restaurant and I noticed that
Lupin's face became gradually more animated. His gestures were more
decided. He recovered his spirits, his liveliness. When we left, during
the walk which he made me take along the Boulevard Haussmann, towards
Baron Repstein's house, he was the real Lupin of the great occasions,
the Lupin who had made up his mind to go in and win.

We slackened our pace just short of the Rue de Courcelles. Baron
Repstein lived on the left-hand side, between this street and the
Faubourg Saint-Honoré, in a three-storied private house of which we
could see the front, decorated with columns and caryatides.

"Stop!" said Lupin, suddenly.

"What is it?"

"Another proof to confirm my supposition...."

"What proof? I see nothing."

"I do.... That's enough...."

He turned up the collar of his coat, lowered the brim of his soft hat
and said:

"By Jove, it'll be a stiff fight! Go to bed, my friend. I'll tell you
about my expedition to-morrow ... if it doesn't cost me my life."

"What are you talking about?"

"Oh, I know what I'm saying! I'm risking a lot. First of all, getting
arrested, which isn't much. Next, getting killed, which is worse.
But...." He gripped my shoulder. "But there's a third thing I'm risking,
which is getting hold of two millions.... And, once I possess a capital
of two millions, I'll show people what I can do! Good-night, old chap,
and, if you never see me again...." He spouted Musset's lines:


    "Plant a willow by my grave,
      The weeping willow that I love...."


I walked away. Three minutes later--I am continuing the narrative as he
told it to me next day--three minutes later, Lupin rang at the door of
the Hôtel Repstein.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Is monsieur le baron at home?"

"Yes," replied the butler, examining the intruder with an air of
surprise, "but monsieur le baron does not see people as late as this."

"Does monsieur le baron know of the murder of M. Lavernoux, his
land-agent?"

"Certainly."

"Well, please tell monsieur le baron that I have come about the murder
and that there is not a moment to lose."

A voice called from above:

"Show the gentleman up, Antoine."

In obedience to this peremptory order, the butler led the way to the
first floor. In an open doorway stood a gentleman whom Lupin recognized
from his photograph in the papers as Baron Repstein, husband of the
famous baroness and owner of Etna, the horse of the year.

He was an exceedingly tall, square-shouldered man. His clean-shaven face
wore a pleasant, almost smiling expression, which was not affected by
the sadness of his eyes. He was dressed in a well-cut morning-coat, with
a tan waistcoat and a dark tie fastened with a pearl pin, the value of
which struck Lupin as considerable.

He took Lupin into his study, a large, three-windowed room, lined with
book-cases, sets of pigeonholes, an American desk and a safe. And he at
once asked, with ill-concealed eagerness:

"Do you know anything?"

"Yes, monsieur le baron."

"About the murder of that poor Lavernoux?"

"Yes, monsieur le baron, and about madame le baronne also."

"Do you really mean it? Quick, I entreat you...."

He pushed forward a chair. Lupin sat down and began:

"Monsieur le baron, the circumstances are very serious. I will be
brief."

"Yes, do, please."

"Well, monsieur le baron, in a few words, it amounts to this: five or
six hours ago, Lavernoux, who, for the last fortnight, had been kept in
a sort of enforced confinement by his doctor, Lavernoux--how shall I put
it?--telegraphed certain revelations by means of signals which were
partly taken down by me and which put me on the track of this case. He
himself was surprised in the act of making this communication and was
murdered."

"But by whom? By whom?"

"By his doctor."

"Who is this doctor?"

"I don't know. But one of M. Lavernoux's friends, an Englishman called
Hargrove, the friend, in fact, with whom he was communicating, is bound
to know and is also bound to know the exact and complete meaning of the
communication, because, without waiting for the end, he jumped into a
motor-cab and drove to the Prefecture of Police."

"Why? Why?... And what is the result of that step?"

"The result, monsieur le baron, is that your house is surrounded. There
are twelve detectives under your windows. The moment the sun rises, they
will enter in the name of the law and arrest the criminal."

"Then is Lavernoux's murderer concealed in my house? Who is he? One of
the servants? But no, for you were speaking of a doctor!..."

"I would remark, monsieur le baron, that when this Mr. Hargrove went to
the police to tell them of the revelations made by his friend Lavernoux,
he was not aware that his friend Lavernoux was going to be murdered. The
step taken by Mr Hargrove had to do with something else...."

"With what?"

"With the disappearance of madame la baronne, of which he knew the
secret, thanks to the communication made by Lavernoux."

"What! They know at last! They have found the baroness! Where is she?
And the jewels? And the money she robbed me of?"

Baron Repstein was talking in a great state of excitement. He rose and,
almost shouting at Lupin, cried:

"Finish your story, sir! I can't endure this suspense!"

Lupin continued, in a slow and hesitating voice:

"The fact is ... you see ... it is rather difficult to explain ... for
you and I are looking at the thing from a totally different point of
view."

"I don't understand."

"And yet you ought to understand, monsieur le baron.... We begin by
saying--I am quoting the newspapers--by saying, do we not, that Baroness
Repstein knew all the secrets of your business and that she was able to
open not only that safe over there, but also the one at the Crédit
Lyonnais in which you kept your securities locked up?"

"Yes."

"Well, one evening, a fortnight ago, while you were at your club,
Baroness Repstein, who, unknown to yourself, had converted all those
securities into cash, left this house with a travelling-bag, containing
your money and all the Princesse de Berny's jewels?"

"Yes."

"And, since then, she has not been seen?"

"No."

"Well, there is an excellent reason why she has not been seen."

"What reason?"

"This, that Baroness Repstein has been murdered...."

"Murdered!... The baroness!... But you're mad!"

"Murdered ... and probably that same evening."

"I tell you again, you are mad! How can the baroness have been murdered,
when the police are following her tracks, so to speak, step by step?"

"They are following the tracks of another woman."

"What woman?"

"The murderer's accomplice."

"And who is the murderer?"

"The same man who, for the last fortnight, knowing that Lavernoux,
through the situation which he occupied in this house, had discovered
the truth, kept him imprisoned, forced him to silence, threatened him,
terrorized him; the same man who, finding Lavernoux in the act of
communicating with a friend, made away with him in cold blood by
stabbing him to the heart."

"The doctor, therefore?"

"Yes."

"But who is this doctor? Who is this malevolent genius, this infernal
being who appears and disappears, who slays in the dark and whom nobody
suspects?"

"Can't you guess?"

"No."

"And do you want to know?"

"Do I want to know?... Why, speak, man, speak!... You know where he is
hiding?"

"Yes."

"In this house?"

"Yes."

"And it is he whom the police are after?"

"Yes."

"And I know him?"

"Yes."

"Who is it?"

"You!"

"I!..."

Lupin had not been more than ten minutes with the baron; and the duel
was commencing. The accusation was hurled, definitely, violently,
implacably.

Lupin repeated:

"You yourself, got up in a false beard and a pair of spectacles, bent in
two, like an old man. In short, you, Baron Repstein; and it is you for
a very good reason, of which nobody has thought, which is that, if it
was not you who contrived the whole plot, the case becomes inexplicable.
Whereas, taking you as the criminal, you as murdering the baroness in
order to get rid of her and run through those millions with another
woman, you as murdering Lavernoux, your agent, in order to suppress an
unimpeachable witness, oh, then the whole case is explained! Well, is it
pretty clear? And are not you yourself convinced?"

The baron, who, throughout this conversation, had stood bending over his
visitor, waiting for each of his words with feverish avidity, now drew
himself up and looked at Lupin as though he undoubtedly had to do with a
madman. When Lupin had finished speaking, the baron stepped back two or
three paces, seemed on the point of uttering words which he ended by not
saying, and then, without taking his eyes from his strange visitor, went
to the fireplace and rang the bell.

Lupin did not make a movement. He waited smiling.

The butler entered. His master said:

"You can go to bed, Antoine. I will let this gentleman out."

"Shall I put out the lights, sir?"

"Leave a light in the hall."

Antoine left the room and the baron, after taking a revolver from his
desk, at once came back to Lupin, put the weapon in his pocket and said,
very calmly:

"You must excuse this little precaution, sir. I am obliged to take it in
case you should be mad, though that does not seem likely. No, you are
not mad. But you have come here with an object which I fail to grasp;
and you have sprung upon me an accusation of so astounding a character
that I am curious to know the reason. I have experienced so much
disappointment and undergone so much suffering that an outrage of this
kind leaves me indifferent. Continue, please."

His voice shook with emotion and his sad eyes seemed moist with tears.

Lupin shuddered. Had he made a mistake? Was the surmise which his
intuition had suggested to him and which was based upon a frail
groundwork of slight facts, was this surmise wrong?

His attention was caught by a detail: through the opening in the baron's
waistcoat he saw the point of the pin fixed in the tie and was thus able
to realize the unusual length of the pin. Moreover, the gold stem was
triangular and formed a sort of miniature dagger, very thin and very
delicate, yet formidable in an expert hand.

And Lupin had no doubt but that the pin attached to that magnificent
pearl was the weapon which had pierced the heart of the unfortunate M.
Lavernoux.

He muttered:

"You're jolly clever, monsieur le baron!"

The other, maintaining a rather scornful gravity, kept silence, as
though he did not understand and as though waiting for the explanation
to which he felt himself entitled. And, in spite of everything, this
impassive attitude worried Arsène Lupin. Nevertheless, his conviction
was so profound and, besides, he had staked so much on the adventure
that he repeated:

"Yes, jolly clever, for it is evident that the baroness only obeyed your
orders in realizing your securities and also in borrowing the princess's
jewels on the pretence of buying them. And it is evident that the person
who walked out of your house with a bag was not your wife, but an
accomplice, that chorus-girl probably, and that it is your chorus-girl
who is deliberately allowing herself to be chased across the continent
by our worthy Ganimard. And I look upon the trick as marvellous. What
does the woman risk, seeing that it is the baroness who is being looked
for? And how could they look for any other woman than the baroness,
seeing that you have promised a reward of two hundred thousand francs to
the person who finds the baroness?... Oh, that two hundred thousand
francs lodged with a solicitor: what a stroke of genius! It has dazzled
the police! It has thrown dust in the eyes of the most clear-sighted! A
gentleman who lodges two hundred thousand francs with a solicitor is a
gentleman who speaks the truth.... So they go on hunting the baroness!
And they leave you quietly to settle your affairs, to sell your stud and
your two houses to the highest bidder and to prepare your flight!
Heavens, what a joke!"

The baron did not wince. He walked up to Lupin and asked, without
abandoning his imperturbable coolness:

"Who are you?"

Lupin burst out laughing.

"What can it matter who I am? Take it that I am an emissary of fate,
looming out of the darkness for your destruction!"

He sprang from his chair, seized the baron by the shoulder and jerked
out:

"Yes, for your destruction, my bold baron! Listen to me! Your wife's
three millions, almost all the princess's jewels, the money you received
to-day from the sale of your stud and your real estate: it's all there,
in your pocket, or in that safe. Your flight is prepared. Look, I can
see the leather of your portmanteau behind that hanging. The papers on
your desk are in order. This very night, you would have done a guy.
This very night, disguised beyond recognition, after taking all your
precautions, you would have joined your chorus-girl, the creature for
whose sake you have committed murder, that same Nelly Darbal, no doubt,
whom Ganimard arrested in Belgium. But for one sudden, unforeseen
obstacle: the police, the twelve detectives who, thanks to Lavernoux's
revelations, have been posted under your windows. They've cooked your
goose, old chap!... Well, I'll save you. A word through the telephone;
and, by three or four o'clock in the morning, twenty of my friends will
have removed the obstacle, polished off the twelve detectives, and you
and I will slip away quietly. My conditions? Almost nothing; a trifle to
you: we share the millions and the jewels. Is it a bargain?"

He was leaning over the baron, thundering at him with irresistible
energy. The baron whispered:

"I'm beginning to understand. It's blackmail...."

"Blackmail or not, call it what you please, my boy, but you've got to go
through with it and do as I say. And don't imagine that I shall give way
at the last moment. Don't say to yourself, 'Here's a gentleman whom the
fear of the police will cause to think twice. If I run a big risk in
refusing, he also will be risking the handcuffs, the cells and the rest
of it, seeing that we are both being hunted down like wild beasts.' That
would be a mistake, monsieur le baron. I can always get out of it. It's
a question of yourself, of yourself alone.... Your money or your life,
my lord! Share and share alike ... if not, the scaffold! Is it a
bargain?"

A quick movement. The baron released himself, grasped his revolver and
fired.

But Lupin was prepared for the attack, the more so as the baron's face
had lost its assurance and gradually, under the slow impulse of rage and
fear, acquired an expression of almost bestial ferocity that heralded
the rebellion so long kept under control.

He fired twice. Lupin first flung himself to one side and then dived at
the baron's knees, seized him by both legs and brought him to the
ground. The baron freed himself with an effort. The two enemies rolled
over in each other's grip; and a stubborn, crafty, brutal, savage
struggle followed.

Suddenly, Lupin felt a pain at his chest:

"You villain!" he yelled. "That's your Lavernoux trick; the tie-pin!"

Stiffening his muscles with a desperate effort, he overpowered the baron
and clutched him by the throat victorious at last and omnipotent.

"You ass!" he cried. "If you hadn't shown your cards, I might have
thrown up the game! You have such a look of the honest man about you!
But what a biceps, my lord!... I thought for a moment.... But it's all
over, now!... Come, my friend, hand us the pin and look cheerful.... No,
that's what I call pulling a face.... I'm holding you too tight,
perhaps? My lord's at his last gasp?... Come, be good!... That's it,
just a wee bit of string round the wrists; do you allow me?... Why, you
and I are agreeing like two brothers! It's touching!... At heart, you
know, I'm rather fond of you.... And now, my bonnie lad, mind yourself!
And a thousand apologies!..."

Half raising himself, with all his strength he caught the other a
terrible blow in the pit of the stomach. The baron gave a gurgle and lay
stunned and unconscious.

"That comes of having a deficient sense of logic, my friend," said
Lupin. "I offered you half your money. Now I'll give you none at all ...
provided I know where to find any of it. For that's the main thing.
Where has the beggar hidden his dust? In the safe? By George, it'll be a
tough job! Luckily, I have all the night before me...."

He began to feel in the baron's pockets, came upon a bunch of keys,
first made sure that the portmanteau behind the curtain held no papers
or jewels, and then went to the safe.

But, at that moment, he stopped short: he heard a noise somewhere. The
servants? Impossible. Their attics were on the top floor. He listened.
The noise came from below. And, suddenly, he understood: the detectives,
who had heard the two shots, were banging at the front door, as was
their duty, without waiting for daybreak. Then an electric bell rang,
which Lupin recognized as that in the hall:

"By Jupiter!" he said. "Pretty work! Here are these jokers coming ...
and just as we were about to gather the fruits of our laborious efforts!
Tut, tut, Lupin, keep cool! What's expected of you? To open a safe, of
which you don't know the secret, in thirty seconds. That's a mere trifle
to lose your head about! Come, all you have to do is to discover the
secret! How many letters are there in the word? Four?"

He went on thinking, while talking and listening to the noise outside.
He double-locked the door of the outer room and then came back to the
safe:

"Four ciphers.... Four letters ... four letters.... Who can lend me a
hand?... Who can give me just a tiny hint?... Who? Why, Lavernoux, of
course! That good Lavernoux, seeing that he took the trouble to indulge
in optical telegraphy at the risk of his life.... Lord, what a fool I
am!... Why, of course, why, of course, that's it!... By Jove, this is
too exciting!... Lupin, you must count ten and suppress that distracted
beating of your heart. If not, it means bad work."

He counted ten and, now quite calm, knelt in front of the safe. He
turned the four knobs with careful attention. Next, he examined the
bunch of keys, selected one of them, then another, and attempted, in
vain, to insert them in the lock:

"There's luck in odd numbers," he muttered, trying a third key.
"Victory! This is the right one! Open Sesame, good old Sesame, open!"

The lock turned. The door moved on its hinges. Lupin pulled it to him,
after taking out the bunch of keys:

"The millions are ours," he said. "Baron, I forgive you!"

And then he gave a single bound backward, hiccoughing with fright. His
legs staggered beneath him. The keys jingled together in his fevered
hand with a sinister sound. And, for twenty, for thirty seconds, despite
the din that was being raised and the electric bells that kept ringing
through the house, he stood there, wild-eyed, gazing at the most
horrible, the most abominable sight: a woman's body, half-dressed, bent
in two in the safe, crammed in, like an over-large parcel ... and fair
hair hanging down ... and blood ... clots of blood ... and livid flesh,
blue in places, decomposing, flaccid.

"The baroness!" he gasped. "The baroness!... Oh, the monster!..."

He roused himself from his torpor, suddenly, to spit in the murderer's
face and pound him with his heels:

"Take that, you wretch!... Take that, you villain!... And, with it, the
scaffold, the bran-basket!..."

Meanwhile, shouts came from the upper floors in reply to the detectives'
ringing. Lupin heard footsteps scurrying down the stairs. It was time to
think of beating a retreat.

In reality, this did not trouble him greatly. During his conversation
with the baron, the enemy's extraordinary coolness had given him the
feeling that there must be a private outlet. Besides, how could the
baron have begun the fight, if he were not sure of escaping the police?

Lupin went into the next room. It looked out on the garden. At the
moment when the detectives were entering the house, he flung his legs
over the balcony and let himself down by a rain-pipe. He walked round
the building. On the opposite side was a wall lined with shrubs. He
slipped in between the shrubs and the wall and at once found a little
door which he easily opened with one of the keys on the bunch. All that
remained for him to do was to walk across a yard and pass through the
empty rooms of a lodge; and in a few moments he found himself in the Rue
du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. Of course--and this he had reckoned on--the
police had not provided for this secret outlet.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Well, what do you think of Baron Repstein?" cried Lupin, after giving
me all the details of that tragic night. "What a dirty scoundrel! And
how it teaches one to distrust appearances! I swear to you, the fellow
looked a thoroughly honest man!"

"But what about the millions?" I asked. "The princess's jewels?"

"They were in the safe. I remember seeing the parcel."

"Well?"

"They are there still."

"Impossible!"

"They are, upon my word! I might tell you that I was afraid of the
detectives, or else plead a sudden attack of delicacy. But the truth is
simpler ... and more prosaic: the smell was too awful!..."

"What?"

"Yes, my dear fellow, the smell that came from that safe ... from that
coffin.... No, I couldn't do it ... my head swam.... Another second and
I should have been ill.... Isn't it silly?... Look, this is all I got
from my expedition: the tie-pin.... The bed-rock value of the pearl is
thirty thousand francs.... But all the same, I feel jolly well annoyed.
What a sell!"

"One more question," I said. "The word that opened the safe!"

"Well?"

"How did you guess it?"

"Oh, quite easily! In fact, I am surprised that I didn't think of it
sooner."

"Well, tell me."

"It was contained in the revelations telegraphed by that poor
Lavernoux."

"What?"

"Just think, my dear chap, the mistakes in spelling...."

"The mistakes in spelling?"

"Why, of course! They were deliberate. Surely, you don't imagine that
the agent, the private secretary of the baron--who was a
company-promoter, mind you, and a racing-man--did not know English
better than to spell 'necessery' with an 'e,' 'atack' with one 't,'
'ennemy' with two 'n's' and 'prudance' with an 'a'! The thing struck me
at once. I put the four letters together and got 'Etna,' the name of the
famous horse."

"And was that one word enough?"

"Of course! It was enough to start with, to put me on the scent of the
Repstein case, of which all the papers were full, and, next, to make me
guess that it was the key-word of the safe, because, on the one hand,
Lavernoux knew the gruesome contents of the safe and, on the other, he
was denouncing the baron. And it was in the same way that I was led to
suppose that Lavernoux had a friend in the street, that they both
frequented the same café, that they amused themselves by working out the
problems and cryptograms in the illustrated papers and that they had
contrived a way of exchanging telegrams from window to window."

"That makes it all quite simple!" I exclaimed.

"Very simple. And the incident once more shows that, in the discovery of
crimes, there is something much more valuable than the examination of
facts, than observations, deductions, inferences and all that stuff and
nonsense. What I mean is, as I said before, intuition ... intuition and
intelligence.... And Arsène Lupin, without boasting, is deficient in
neither one nor the other!..."



II

THE WEDDING-RING


Yvonne d'Origny kissed her son and told him to be good:

"You know your grandmother d'Origny is not very found of children. Now
that she has sent for you to come and see her, you must show her what a
sensible little boy you are." And, turning to the governess, "Don't
forget, Fräulein, to bring him home immediately after dinner.... Is
monsieur still in the house?"

"Yes, madame, monsieur le comte is in his study."

As soon as she was alone, Yvonne d'Origny walked to the window to catch
a glimpse of her son as he left the house. He was out in the street in a
moment, raised his head and blew her a kiss, as was his custom every
day. Then the governess took his hand with, as Yvonne remarked to her
surprise, a movement of unusual violence. Yvonne leant further out of
the window and, when the boy reached the corner of the boulevard, she
suddenly saw a man step out of a motor-car and go up to him. The man, in
whom she recognized Bernard, her husband's confidential servant, took
the child by the arm, made both him and the governess get into the car,
and ordered the chauffeur to drive off.

The whole incident did not take ten seconds.

Yvonne, in her trepidation, ran to her bedroom, seized a wrap and went
to the door. The door was locked; and there was no key in the lock.

She hurried back to the boudoir. The door of the boudoir also was
locked.

Then, suddenly, the image of her husband appeared before her, that
gloomy face which no smile ever lit up, those pitiless eyes in which,
for years, she had felt so much hatred and malice.

"It's he ... it's he!" she said to herself. "He has taken the child....
Oh, it's horrible!"

She beat against the door with her fists, with her feet, then flew to
the mantelpiece and pressed the bell fiercely.

The shrill sound rang through the house from top to bottom. The servants
would be sure to come. Perhaps a crowd would gather in the street. And,
impelled by a sort of despairing hope, she kept her finger on the
button.

A key turned in the lock.... The door was flung wide open. The count
appeared on the threshold of the boudoir. And the expression of his
face was so terrible that Yvonne began to tremble.

He entered the room. Five or six steps separated him from her. With a
supreme effort, she tried to stir, but all movement was impossible; and,
when she attempted to speak, she could only flutter her lips and emit
incoherent sounds. She felt herself lost. The thought of death unhinged
her. Her knees gave way beneath her and she sank into a huddled heap,
with a moan.

The count rushed at her and seized her by the throat:

"Hold your tongue ... don't call out!" he said, in a low voice. "That
will be best for you!..."

Seeing that she was not attempting to defend herself, he loosened his
hold of her and took from his pocket some strips of canvas ready rolled
and of different lengths. In a few minutes, Yvonne was lying on a sofa,
with her wrists and ankles bound and her arms fastened close to her
body.

It was now dark in the boudoir. The count switched on the electric light
and went to a little writing-desk where Yvonne was accustomed to keep
her letters. Not succeeding in opening it, he picked the lock with a
bent wire, emptied the drawers and collected all the contents into a
bundle, which he carried off in a cardboard file:

"Waste of time, eh?" he grinned. "Nothing but bills and letters of no
importance.... No proof against you.... Tah! I'll keep my son for all
that; and I swear before Heaven that I will not let him go!"

As he was leaving the room, he was joined, near the door, by his man
Bernard. The two stopped and talked, in a low voice; but Yvonne heard
these words spoken by the servant:

"I have had an answer from the working jeweller. He says he holds
himself at my disposal."

And the count replied:

"The thing is put off until twelve o'clock midday, to-morrow. My mother
has just telephoned to say that she could not come before."

Then Yvonne heard the key turn in the lock and the sound of steps going
down to the ground-floor, where her husband's study was.

She long lay inert, her brain reeling with vague, swift ideas that burnt
her in passing, like flames. She remembered her husband's infamous
behaviour, his humiliating conduct to her, his threats, his plans for a
divorce; and she gradually came to understand that she was the victim of
a regular conspiracy, that the servants had been sent away until the
following evening by their master's orders, that the governess had
carried off her son by the count's instructions and with Bernard's
assistance, that her son would not come back and that she would never
see him again.

"My son!" she cried. "My son!..."

Exasperated by her grief, she stiffened herself, with every nerve, with
every muscle tense, to make a violent effort. And she was astonished to
find that her right hand, which the count had fastened too hurriedly,
still retained a certain freedom.

Then a mad hope invaded her; and, slowly, patiently, she began the work
of self-deliverance.

It was long in the doing. She needed a deal of time to widen the knot
sufficiently and a deal of time afterward, when the hand was released,
to undo those other bonds which tied her arms to her body and those
which fastened her ankles.

Still, the thought of her son sustained her; and the last shackle fell
as the clock struck eight. She was free!

She was no sooner on her feet than she flew to the window and flung back
the latch, with the intention of calling the first passer-by. At that
moment a policeman came walking along the pavement. She leant out. But
the brisk evening air, striking her face, calmed her. She thought of the
scandal, of the judicial investigation, of the cross-examination, of her
son. O Heaven! What could she do to get him back? How could she escape?
The count might appear at the least sound. And who knew but that, in a
moment of fury ...?

She shivered from head to foot, seized with a sudden terror. The horror
of death mingled, in her poor brain, with the thought of her son; and
she stammered, with a choking throat:

"Help!... Help!..."

She stopped and said to herself, several times over, in a low voice,
"Help!... Help!..." as though the word awakened an idea, a memory within
her, and as though the hope of assistance no longer seemed to her
impossible. For some minutes she remained absorbed in deep meditation,
broken by fears and starts. Then, with an almost mechanical series of
movements, she put out her arm to a little set of shelves hanging over
the writing-desk, took down four books, one after the other, turned the
pages with a distraught air, replaced them and ended by finding, between
the pages of the fifth, a visiting-card on which her eyes spelt the
name:


                 HORACE VELMONT,


followed by an address written in pencil:


            CERCLE DE LA RUE ROYALE.


And her memory conjured up the strange thing which that man had said to
her, a few years before, in that same house, on a day when she was at
home to her friends:

"If ever a danger threatens you, if you need help, do not hesitate; post
this card, which you see me put into this book; and, whatever the hour,
whatever the obstacles, I will come."

With what a curious air he had spoken these words and how well he had
conveyed the impression of certainty, of strength, of unlimited power,
of indomitable daring!

Abruptly, unconsciously, acting under the impulse of an irresistible
determination, the consequences of which she refused to anticipate,
Yvonne, with the same automatic gestures, took a pneumatic-delivery
envelope, slipped in the card, sealed it, directed it to "Horace
Velmont, Cercle de la Rue Royale" and went to the open window. The
policeman was walking up and down outside. She flung out the envelope,
trusting to fate. Perhaps it would be picked up, treated as a lost
letter and posted.

She had hardly completed this act when she realized its absurdity. It
was mad to suppose that the message would reach the address and madder
still to hope that the man to whom she was sending could come to her
assistance, "whatever the hour, whatever the obstacles."

A reaction followed which was all the greater inasmuch as the effort had
been swift and violent. Yvonne staggered, leant against a chair and,
losing all energy, let herself fall.

The hours passed by, the dreary hours of winter evenings when nothing
but the sound of carriages interrupts the silence of the street. The
clock struck, pitilessly. In the half-sleep that numbed her limbs,
Yvonne counted the strokes. She also heard certain noises, on different
floors of the house, which told her that her husband had dined, that he
was going up to his room, that he was going down again to his study. But
all this seemed very shadowy to her; and her torpor was such that she
did not even think of lying down on the sofa, in case he should come
in....

The twelve strokes of midnight.... Then half-past twelve ... then
one.... Yvonne thought of nothing, awaiting the events which were
preparing and against which rebellion was useless. She pictured her son
and herself as one pictures those beings who have suffered much and who
suffer no more and who take each other in their loving arms. But a
nightmare shattered this dream. For now those two beings were to be torn
asunder; and she had the awful feeling, in her delirium, that she was
crying and choking....

She leapt from her seat. The key had turned in the lock. The count was
coming, attracted by her cries. Yvonne glanced round for a weapon with
which to defend herself. But the door was pushed back quickly and,
astounded, as though the sight that presented itself before her eyes
seemed to her the most inexplicable prodigy, she stammered:

"You!... You!..."

A man was walking up to her, in dress-clothes, with his opera-hat and
cape under his arm, and this man, young, slender and elegant, she had
recognized as Horace Velmont.

"You!" she repeated.

He said, with a bow:

"I beg your pardon, madame, but I did not receive your letter until very
late."

"Is it possible? Is it possible that this is you ... that you were able
to ...?"

He seemed greatly surprised:

"Did I not promise to come in answer to your call?"

"Yes ... but ..."

"Well, here I am," he said, with a smile.

He examined the strips of canvas from which Yvonne had succeeded in
freeing herself and nodded his head, while continuing his inspection:

"So those are the means employed? The Comte d'Origny, I presume?... I
also saw that he locked you in.... But then the pneumatic letter?... Ah,
through the window!... How careless of you not to close it!"

He pushed both sides to. Yvonne took fright:

"Suppose they hear!"

"There is no one in the house. I have been over it."

"Still ..."

"Your husband went out ten minutes ago."

"Where is he?"

"With his mother, the Comtesse d'Origny."

"How do you know?"

"Oh, it's very simple! He was rung up by telephone and I awaited the
result at the corner of this street and the boulevard. As I expected,
the count came out hurriedly, followed by his man. I at once entered,
with the aid of special keys."

He told this in the most natural way, just as one tells a meaningless
anecdote in a drawing-room. But Yvonne, suddenly seized with fresh
alarm, asked:

"Then it's not true?... His mother is not ill?... In that case, my
husband will be coming back...."

"Certainly, the count will see that a trick has been played on him and
in three quarters of an hour at the latest...."

"Let us go.... I don't want him to find me here.... I must go to my
son...."

"One moment...."

"One moment!... But don't you know that they have taken him from me?...
That they are hurting him, perhaps?..."

With set face and feverish gestures, she tried to push Velmont back. He,
with great gentleness, compelled her to sit down and, leaning over her
in a respectful attitude, said, in a serious voice:

"Listen, madame, and let us not waste time, when every minute is
valuable. First of all, remember this: we met four times, six years
ago.... And, on the fourth occasion, when I was speaking to you, in the
drawing-room of this house, with too much--what shall I say?--with too
much feeling, you gave me to understand that my visits were no longer
welcome. Since that day I have not seen you. And, nevertheless, in spite
of all, your faith in me was such that you kept the card which I put
between the pages of that book and, six years later, you send for me and
none other. That faith in me I ask you to continue. You must obey me
blindly. Just as I surmounted every obstacle to come to you, so I will
save you, whatever the position may be."

Horace Velmont's calmness, his masterful voice, with the friendly
intonation, gradually quieted the countess. Though still very weak, she
gained a fresh sense of ease and security in that man's presence.

"Have no fear," he went on. "The Comtesse d'Origny lives at the other
end of the Bois de Vincennes. Allowing that your husband finds a
motor-cab, it is impossible for him to be back before a quarter-past
three. Well, it is twenty-five to three now. I swear to take you away at
three o'clock exactly and to take you to your son. But I will not go
before I know everything."

"What am I to do?" she asked.

"Answer me and very plainly. We have twenty minutes. It is enough. But
it is not too much."

"Ask me what you want to know."

"Do you think that the count had any ... any murderous intentions?"

"No."

"Then it concerns your son?"

"Yes."

"He is taking him away, I suppose, because he wants to divorce you and
marry another woman, a former friend of yours, whom you have turned out
of your house. Is that it? Oh, I entreat you, answer me frankly! These
are facts of public notoriety; and your hesitation, your scruples, must
all cease, now that the matter concerns your son. So your husband wished
to marry another woman?

"Yes."

"The woman has no money. Your husband, on his side, has gambled away
all his property and has no means beyond the allowance which he receives
from his mother, the Comtesse d'Origny, and the income of a large
fortune which your son inherited from two of your uncles. It is this
fortune which your husband covets and which he would appropriate more
easily if the child were placed in his hands. There is only one way:
divorce. Am I right?"

"Yes."

"And what has prevented him until now is your refusal?"

"Yes, mine and that of my mother-in-law, whose religious feelings are
opposed to divorce. The Comtesse d'Origny would only yield in case ..."

"In case ...?"

"In case they could prove me guilty of shameful conduct."

Velmont shrugged his shoulders:

"Therefore he is powerless to do anything against you or against your
son. Both from the legal point of view and from that of his own
interests, he stumbles against an obstacle which is the most
insurmountable of all: the virtue of an honest woman. And yet, in spite
of everything, he suddenly shows fight."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, if a man like the count, after so many hesitations and
in the face of so many difficulties, risks so doubtful an adventure, it
must be because he thinks he has command of weapons ..."

"What weapons?"

"I don't know. But they exist ... or else he would not have begun by
taking away your son."

Yvonne gave way to her despair:

"Oh, this is horrible!... How do I know what he may have done, what he
may have invented?"

"Try and think.... Recall your memories.... Tell me, in this desk which
he has broken open, was there any sort of letter which he could possibly
turn against you?"

"No ... only bills and addresses...."

"And, in the words he used to you, in his threats, is there nothing that
allows you to guess?"

"Nothing."

"Still ... still," Velmont insisted, "there must be something." And he
continued, "Has the count a particularly intimate friend ... in whom he
confides?"

"No."

"Did anybody come to see him yesterday?"

"No, nobody."

"Was he alone when he bound you and locked you in?"

"At that moment, yes."

"But afterward?"

"His man, Bernard, joined him near the door and I heard them talking
about a working jeweller...."

"Is that all?"

"And about something that was to happen the next day, that is, to-day,
at twelve o'clock, because the Comtesse d'Origny could not come
earlier."

Velmont reflected:

"Has that conversation any meaning that throws a light upon your
husband's plans?"

"I don't see any."

"Where are your jewels?"

"My husband has sold them all."

"You have nothing at all left?"

"No."

"Not even a ring?"

"No," she said, showing her hands, "none except this."

"Which is your wedding-ring?"

"Which is my ... wedding--..."

She stopped, nonplussed. Velmont saw her flush as she stammered:

"Could it be possible?... But no ... no ... he doesn't know...."

Velmont at once pressed her with questions and Yvonne stood silent,
motionless, anxious-faced. At last, she replied, in a low voice:

"This is not my wedding-ring. One day, long ago, it dropped from the
mantelpiece in my bedroom, where I had put it a minute before and, hunt
for it as I might, I could not find it again. So I ordered another,
without saying anything about it ... and this is the one, on my
hand...."

"Did the real ring bear the date of your wedding?"

"Yes ... the 23rd of October."

"And the second?"

"This one has no date."

He perceived a slight hesitation in her and a confusion which, in point
of fact, she did not try to conceal.

"I implore you," he exclaimed, "don't hide anything from me.... You see
how far we have gone in a few minutes, with a little logic and
calmness.... Let us go on, I ask you as a favour."

"Are you sure," she said, "that it is necessary?"

"I am sure that the least detail is of importance and that we are nearly
attaining our object. But we must hurry. This is a crucial moment."

"I have nothing to conceal," she said, proudly raising her head. "It was
the most wretched and the most dangerous period of my life. While
suffering humiliation at home, outside I was surrounded with attentions,
with temptations, with pitfalls, like any woman who is seen to be
neglected by her husband. Then I remembered: before my marriage, a man
had been in love with me. I had guessed his unspoken love; and he has
died since. I had the name of that man engraved inside the ring; and I
wore it as a talisman. There was no love in me, because I was the wife
of another. But, in my secret heart, there was a memory, a sad dream,
something sweet and gentle that protected me...."

She had spoken slowly, without embarrassment, and Velmont did not doubt
for a second that she was telling the absolute truth. He kept silent;
and she, becoming anxious again, asked:

"Do you suppose ... that my husband ...?"

He took her hand and, while examining the plain gold ring, said:

"The puzzle lies here. Your husband, I don't know how, knows of the
substitution of one ring for the other. His mother will be here at
twelve o'clock. In the presence of witnesses, he will compel you to take
off your ring; and, in this way, he will obtain the approval of his
mother and, at the same time, will be able to obtain his divorce,
because he will have the proof for which he was seeking."

"I am lost!" she moaned. "I am lost!"

"On the contrary, you are saved! Give me that ring ... and presently he
will find another there, another which I will send you, to reach you
before twelve, and which will bear the date of the 23rd of October. So
..."

He suddenly broke off. While he was speaking, Yvonne's hand had turned
ice-cold in his; and, raising his eyes, he saw that the young woman was
pale, terribly pale:

"What's the matter? I beseech you ..."

She yielded to a fit of mad despair:

"This is the matter, that I am lost!... This is the matter, that I can't
get the ring off! It has grown too small for me!... Do you
understand?... It made no difference and I did not give it a thought....
But to-day ... this proof ... this accusation.... Oh, what torture!...
Look ... it forms part of my finger ... it has grown into my flesh ...
and I can't ... I can't...."

She pulled at the ring, vainly, with all her might, at the risk of
injuring herself. But the flesh swelled up around the ring; and the ring
did not budge.

"Oh!" she cried, seized with an idea that terrified her. "I remember ...
the other night ... a nightmare I had.... It seemed to me that some one
entered my room and caught hold of my hand.... And I could not wake
up.... It was he! It was he! He had put me to sleep, I was sure of it
... and he was looking at the ring.... And presently he will pull it off
before his mother's eyes.... Ah, I understand everything: that working
jeweller!... He will cut it from my hand to-morrow.... You see, you
see.... I am lost!..."

She hid her face in her hands and began to weep. But, amid the silence,
the clock struck once ... and twice ... and yet once more. And Yvonne
drew herself up with a jerk:

"There he is!" she cried. "He is coming!... It is three o'clock!... Let
us go!..."

She grabbed at her cloak and ran to the door ... Velmont barred the way
and, in a masterful tone:

"You shall not go!"

"My son.... I want to see him, to take him back...."

"You don't even know where he is!"

"I want to go."

"You shall not go!... It would be madness...."

He took her by the wrists. She tried to release herself; and Velmont had
to employ a little force to overcome her resistance. In the end, he
succeeded in getting her back to the sofa, then in laying her at full
length and, at once, without heeding her lamentations, he took the
canvas strips and fastened her wrists and ankles:

"Yes," he said, "It would be madness! Who would have set you free? Who
would have opened that door for you? An accomplice? What an argument
against you and what a pretty use your husband would make of it with his
mother!... And, besides, what's the good? To run away means accepting
divorce ... and what might that not lead to?... You must stay here...."

She sobbed:

"I'm frightened.... I'm frightened ... this ring burns me.... Break
it.... Take it away.... Don't let him find it!"

"And if it is not found on your finger, who will have broken it? Again
an accomplice.... No, you must face the music ... and face it boldly,
for I answer for everything.... Believe me ... I answer for
everything.... If I have to tackle the Comtesse d'Origny bodily and thus
delay the interview.... If I had to come myself before noon ... it is
the real wedding-ring that shall be taken from your finger--that I
swear!--and your son shall be restored to you."

Swayed and subdued, Yvonne instinctively held out her hands to the
bonds. When he stood up, she was bound as she had been before.

He looked round the room to make sure that no trace of his visit
remained. Then he stooped over the countess again and whispered:

"Think of your son and, whatever happens, fear nothing.... I am watching
over you."

She heard him open and shut the door of the boudoir and, a few minutes
later, the hall-door.

At half-past three, a motor-cab drew up. The door downstairs was slammed
again; and, almost immediately after, Yvonne saw her husband hurry in,
with a furious look in his eyes. He ran up to her, felt to see if she
was still fastened and, snatching her hand, examined the ring. Yvonne
fainted....

       *       *       *       *       *

She could not tell, when she woke, how long she had slept. But the broad
light of day was filling the boudoir; and she perceived, at the first
movement which she made, that her bonds were cut. Then she turned her
head and saw her husband standing beside her, looking at her:

"My son ... my son ..." she moaned. "I want my son...."

He replied, in a voice of which she felt the jeering insolence:

"Our son is in a safe place. And, for the moment, it's a question not of
him, but of you. We are face to face with each other, probably for the
last time, and the explanation between us will be a very serious one. I
must warn you that it will take place before my mother. Have you any
objection?"

Yvonne tried to hide her agitation and answered:

"None at all."

"Can I send for her?"

"Yes. Leave me, in the meantime. I shall be ready when she comes."

"My mother is here."

"Your mother is here?" cried Yvonne, in dismay, remembering Horace
Velmont's promise.

"What is there to astonish you in that?"

"And is it now ... is it at once that you want to ...?

"Yes."

"Why?... Why not this evening?... Why not to-morrow?"

"To-day and now," declared the count. "A rather curious incident
happened in the course of last night, an incident which I cannot account
for and which decided me to hasten the explanation. Don't you want
something to eat first?"

"No ... no...."

"Then I will go and fetch my mother."

He turned to Yvonne's bedroom. Yvonne glanced at the clock. It marked
twenty-five minutes to eleven!

"Ah!" she said, with a shiver of fright.

Twenty-five minutes to eleven! Horace Velmont would not save her and
nobody in the world and nothing in the world would save her, for there
was no miracle that could place the wedding-ring upon her finger.

The count, returning with the Comtesse d'Origny, asked her to sit down.
She was a tall, lank, angular woman, who had always displayed a hostile
feeling to Yvonne. She did not even bid her daughter-in-law
good-morning, showing that her mind was made up as regards the
accusation:

"I don't think," she said, "that we need speak at length. In two words,
my son maintains...."

"I don't maintain, mother," said the count, "I declare. I declare on my
oath that, three months ago, during the holidays, the upholsterer, when
laying the carpet in this room and the boudoir, found the wedding-ring
which I gave my wife lying in a crack in the floor. Here is the ring.
The date of the 23rd of October is engraved inside."

"Then," said the countess, "the ring which your wife carries...."

"That is another ring, which she ordered in exchange for the real one.
Acting on my instructions, Bernard, my man, after long searching, ended
by discovering in the outskirts of Paris, where he now lives, the little
jeweller to whom she went. This man remembers perfectly and is willing
to bear witness that his customer did not tell him to engrave a date,
but a name. He has forgotten the name, but the man who used to work with
him in his shop may be able to remember it. This working jeweller has
been informed by letter that I required his services and he replied
yesterday, placing himself at my disposal. Bernard went to fetch him at
nine o'clock this morning. They are both waiting in my study."

He turned to his wife:

"Will you give me that ring of your own free will?"

"You know," she said, "from the other night, that it won't come off my
finger."

"In that case, can I have the man up? He has the necessary implements
with him."

"Yes," she said, in a voice faint as a whisper.

She was resigned. She conjured up the future as in a vision: the
scandal, the decree of divorce pronounced against herself, the custody
of the child awarded to the father; and she accepted this, thinking that
she would carry off her son, that she would go with him to the ends of
the earth and that the two of them would live alone together and
happy....

Her mother-in-law said:

"You have been very thoughtless, Yvonne."

Yvonne was on the point of confessing to her and asking for her
protection. But what was the good? How could the Comtesse d'Origny
possibly believe her innocent? She made no reply.

Besides, the count at once returned, followed by his servant and by a
man carrying a bag of tools under his arm.

And the count said to the man:

"You know what you have to do?"

"Yes," said the workman. "It's to cut a ring that's grown too
small.... That's easily done.... A touch of the nippers...."

"And then you will see," said the count, "if the inscription inside the
ring was the one you engraved."

Yvonne looked at the clock. It was ten minutes to eleven. She seemed to
hear, somewhere in the house, a sound of voices raised in argument; and,
in spite of herself, she felt a thrill of hope. Perhaps Velmont has
succeeded.... But the sound was renewed; and she perceived that it was
produced by some costermongers passing under her window and moving
farther on.

It was all over. Horace Velmont had been unable to assist her. And she
understood that, to recover her child, she must rely upon her own
strength, for the promises of others are vain.

She made a movement of recoil. She had felt the workman's heavy hand on
her hand; and that hateful touch revolted her.

The man apologized, awkwardly. The count said to his wife:

"You must make up your mind, you know."

Then she put out her slim and trembling hand to the workman, who took
it, turned it over and rested it on the table, with the palm upward.
Yvonne felt the cold steel. She longed to die, then and there; and, at
once attracted by that idea of death, she thought of the poisons which
she would buy and which would send her to sleep almost without her
knowing it.

The operation did not take long. Inserted on the slant, the little steel
pliers pushed back the flesh, made room for themselves and bit the ring.
A strong effort ... and the ring broke. The two ends had only to be
separated to remove the ring from the finger. The workman did so.

The count exclaimed, in triumph:

"At last! Now we shall see!... The proof is there! And we are all
witnesses...."

He snatched up the ring and looked at the inscription. A cry of
amazement escaped him. The ring bore the date of his marriage to Yvonne:
"23rd of October"!...

       *       *       *       *       *

We were sitting on the terrace at Monte Carlo. Lupin finished his story,
lit a cigarette and calmly puffed the smoke into the blue air.

I said:

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Why, the end of the story...."

"The end of the story? But what other end could there be?"

"Come ... you're joking ..."

"Not at all. Isn't that enough for you? The countess is saved. The
count, not possessing the least proof against her, is compelled by his
mother to forego the divorce and to give up the child. That is all.
Since then, he has left his wife, who is living happily with her son, a
fine lad of sixteen."

"Yes ... yes ... but the way in which the countess was saved?"

Lupin burst out laughing:

"My dear old chap"--Lupin sometimes condescends to address me in this
affectionate manner--"my dear old chap, you may be rather smart at
relating my exploits, but, by Jove, you do want to have the i's dotted
for you! I assure you, the countess did not ask for explanations!"

"Very likely. But there's no pride about me," I added, laughing. "Dot
those i's for me, will you?"

He took out a five-franc piece and closed his hand over it.

"What's in my hand?"

"A five-franc piece."

He opened his hand. The five-franc piece was gone.

"You see how easy it is! A working jeweller, with his nippers, cuts a
ring with a date engraved upon it: 23rd of October. It's a simple little
trick of sleight-of-hand, one of many which I have in my bag. By Jove,
I didn't spend six months with Dickson, the conjurer,[C] for nothing!"


  [C] _The Exploits of Arsène Lupin._ By Maurice Leblanc. Translated by
  Alexander Teixeira de Mattos (Cassell). IV. _The Escape of Arsène
  Lupin._


"But then ...?"

"Out with it!"

"The working jeweller?"

"Was Horace Velmont! Was good old Lupin! Leaving the countess at three
o'clock in the morning, I employed the few remaining minutes before the
husband's return to have a look round his study. On the table I found
the letter from the working jeweller. The letter gave me the address. A
bribe of a few louis enabled me to take the workman's place; and I
arrived with a wedding-ring ready cut and engraved. Hocus-pocus!
Pass!... The count couldn't make head or tail of it."

"Splendid!" I cried. And I added, a little chaffingly, in my turn, "But
don't you think that you were humbugged a bit yourself, on this
occasion?"

"Oh! And by whom, pray?"

"By the countess?"

"In what way?"

"Hang it all, that name engraved as a talisman!... The mysterious Adonis
who loved her and suffered for her sake!... All that story seems very
unlikely; and I wonder whether, Lupin though you be, you did not just
drop upon a pretty love-story, absolutely genuine and ... none too
innocent."

Lupin looked at me out of the corner of his eye:

"No," he said.

"How do you know?"

"If the countess made a misstatement in telling me that she knew that
man before her marriage--and that he was dead--and if she really did
love him in her secret heart, I, at least, have a positive proof that it
was an ideal love and that he did not suspect it."

"And where is the proof?"

"It is inscribed inside the ring which I myself broke on the countess's
finger ... and which I carry on me. Here it is. You can read the name
she had engraved on it."

He handed me the ring. I read:

"Horace Velmont."

There was a moment of silence between Lupin and myself; and, noticing
it, I also observed on his face a certain emotion, a tinge of
melancholy.

I resumed:

"What made you tell me this story ... to which you have often alluded in
my presence?"

"What made me ...?"

He drew my attention to a woman, still exceedingly handsome, who was
passing on a young man's arm. She saw Lupin and bowed.

"It's she," he whispered. "She and her son."

"Then she recognized you?"

"She always recognizes me, whatever my disguise."

"But since the burglary at the Château de Thibermesnil,[D] the police
have identified the two names of Arsène Lupin and Horace Velmont."


  [D] _The Exploits of Arsène Lupin. IX. Holmlock Shears arrives too
  late._


"Yes."

"Therefore she knows who you are."

"Yes."

"And she bows to you?" I exclaimed, in spite of myself.

He caught me by the arm and, fiercely:

"Do you think that I am Lupin to her? Do you think that I am a burglar
in her eyes, a rogue, a cheat?... Why, I might be the lowest of
miscreants, I might be a murderer even ... and still she would bow to
me!"

"Why? Because she loved you once?"

"Rot! That would be an additional reason, on the contrary, why she
should now despise me."

"What then?"

"I am the man who gave her back her son!"



III

THE SIGN OF THE SHADOW


"I received your telegram and here I am," said a gentleman with a grey
moustache, who entered my study, dressed in a dark-brown frock-coat and
a wide-brimmed hat, with a red ribbon in his buttonhole. "What's the
matter?"

Had I not been expecting Arsène Lupin, I should certainly never have
recognized him in the person of this old half-pay officer:

"What's the matter?" I echoed. "Oh, nothing much: a rather curious
coincidence, that's all. And, as I know that you would just as soon
clear up a mystery as plan one...."

"Well?"

"You seem in a great hurry!"

"I am ... unless the mystery in question is worth putting myself out
for. So let us get to the point."

"Very well. Just begin by casting your eye on this little picture, which
I picked up, a week or two ago, in a grimy old shop on the other side
of the river. I bought it for the sake of its Empire frame, with the
palm-leaf ornaments on the mouldings ... for the painting is execrable."

"Execrable, as you say," said Lupin, after he had examined it, "but the
subject itself is rather nice. That corner of an old courtyard, with its
rotunda of Greek columns, its sun-dial and its fish-pond and that ruined
well with the Renascence roof and those stone steps and stone benches:
all very picturesque."

"And genuine," I added. "The picture, good or bad, has never been taken
out of its Empire frame. Besides, it is dated.... There, in the
left-hand bottom corner: those red figures, 15. 4. 2, which obviously
stand for 15 April, 1802."

"I dare say ... I dare say.... But you were speaking of a coincidence
and, so far, I fail to see...."

I went to a corner of my study, took a telescope, fixed it on its stand
and pointed it, through the open window, at the open window of a little
room facing my flat, on the other side of the street. And I asked Lupin
to look through it.

He stooped forward. The slanting rays of the morning sun lit up the room
opposite, revealing a set of mahogany furniture, all very simple, a
large bed and a child's bed hung with cretonne curtains.

"Ah!" cried Lupin, suddenly. "The same picture!"

"Exactly the same!" I said. "And the date: do you see the date, in red?
15. 4. 2."

"Yes, I see.... And who lives in that room?"

"A lady ... or, rather, a workwoman, for she has to work for her living
... needlework, hardly enough to keep herself and her child."

"What is her name?"

"Louise d'Ernemont.... From what I hear, she is the great-granddaughter
of a farmer-general who was guillotined during the Terror."

"Yes, on the same day as André Chénier," said Lupin. "According to the
memoirs of the time, this d'Ernemont was supposed to be a very rich
man." He raised his head and said, "It's an interesting story.... Why
did you wait before telling me?"

"Because this is the 15th of April."

"Well?"

"Well, I discovered yesterday--I heard them talking about it in the
porter's box--that the 15th of April plays an important part in the life
of Louise d'Ernemont."

"Nonsense!"

"Contrary to her usual habits, this woman who works every day of her
life, who keeps her two rooms tidy, who cooks the lunch which her
little girl eats when she comes home from the parish school ... this
woman, on the 15th of April, goes out with the child at ten o'clock in
the morning and does not return until nightfall. And this has happened
for years and in all weathers. You must admit that there is something
queer about this date which I find on an old picture, which is inscribed
on another, similar picture and which controls the annual movements of
the descendant of d'Ernemont the farmer-general."

"Yes, it's curious ... you're quite right," said Lupin, slowly. "And
don't you know where she goes to?"

"Nobody knows. She does not confide in a soul. As a matter of fact, she
talks very little."

"Are you sure of your information?"

"Absolutely. And the best proof of its accuracy is that here she comes."

A door had opened at the back of the room opposite, admitting a little
girl of seven or eight, who came and looked out of the window. A lady
appeared behind her, tall, good-looking still and wearing a sad and
gentle air. Both of them were ready and dressed, in clothes which were
simple in themselves, but which pointed to a love of neatness and a
certain elegance on the part of the mother.

"You see," I whispered, "they are going out."

And presently the mother took the child by the hand and they left the
room together.

Lupin caught up his hat:

"Are you coming?"

My curiosity was too great for me to raise the least objection. I went
downstairs with Lupin.

As we stepped into the street, we saw my neighbour enter a baker's shop.
She bought two rolls and placed them in a little basket which her
daughter was carrying and which seemed already to contain some other
provisions. Then they went in the direction of the outer boulevards and
followed them as far as the Place de l'Étoile, where they turned down
the Avenue Kléber to walk toward Passy.

Lupin strolled silently along, evidently obsessed by a train of thought
which I was glad to have provoked. From time to time, he uttered a
sentence which showed me the thread of his reflections; and I was able
to see that the riddle remained as much a mystery to him as to myself.

Louise d'Ernemont, meanwhile, had branched off to the left, along the
Rue Raynouard, a quiet old street in which Franklin and Balzac once
lived, one of those streets which, lined with old-fashioned houses and
walled gardens, give you the impression of being in a country-town. The
Seine flows at the foot of the slope which the street crowns; and a
number of lanes run down to the river.

My neighbour took one of these narrow, winding, deserted lanes. The
first building, on the right, was a house the front of which faced the
Rue Raynouard. Next came a moss-grown wall, of a height above the
ordinary, supported by buttresses and bristling with broken glass.

Half-way along the wall was a low, arched door. Louise d'Ernemont
stopped in front of this door and opened it with a key which seemed to
us enormous. Mother and child entered and closed the door.

"In any case," said Lupin, "she has nothing to conceal, for she has not
looked round once...."

He had hardly finished his sentence when we heard the sound of footsteps
behind us. It was two old beggars, a man and a woman, tattered, dirty,
squalid, covered in rags. They passed us without paying the least
attention to our presence. The man took from his wallet a key similar to
my neighbour's and put it into the lock. The door closed behind them.

And, suddenly, at the top of the lane, came the noise of a motor-car
stopping.... Lupin dragged me fifty yards lower down, to a corner in
which we were able to hide. And we saw coming down the lane, carrying a
little dog under her arm, a young and very much over-dressed woman,
wearing a quantity of jewellery, a young woman whose eyes were too dark,
her lips too red, her hair too fair. In front of the door, the same
performance, with the same key.... The lady and the dog disappeared from
view.

"This promises to be most amusing," said Lupin, chuckling. "What earthly
connection can there be between those different people?"

There hove in sight successively two elderly ladies, lean and rather
poverty-stricken in appearance, very much alike, evidently sisters; a
footman in livery; an infantry corporal; a fat gentleman in a soiled and
patched jacket-suit; and, lastly, a workman's family, father, mother,
and four children, all six of them pale and sickly, looking like people
who never eat their fill. And each of the newcomers carried a basket or
string-bag filled with provisions.

"It's a picnic!" I cried.

"It grows more and more surprising," said Lupin, "and I sha'n't be
satisfied till I know what is happening behind that wall."

To climb it was out of the question. We also saw that it finished, at
the lower as well as at the upper end, at a house none of whose windows
overlooked the enclosure which the wall contained.

During the next hour, no one else came along. We vainly cast about for
a stratagem; and Lupin, whose fertile brain had exhausted every possible
expedient, was about to go in search of a ladder, when, suddenly, the
little door opened and one of the workman's children came out.

The boy ran up the lane to the Rue Raynouard. A few minutes later he
returned, carrying two bottles of water, which he set down on the
pavement to take the big key from his pocket.

By that time Lupin had left me and was strolling slowly along the wall.
When the child, after entering the enclosure, pushed back the door Lupin
sprang forward and stuck the point of his knife into the staple of the
lock. The bolt failed to catch; and it became an easy matter to push the
door ajar.

"That's done the trick!" said Lupin.

He cautiously put his hand through the doorway and then, to my great
surprise, entered boldly. But, on following his example, I saw that, ten
yards behind the wall, a clump of laurels formed a sort of curtain which
allowed us to come up unobserved.

Lupin took his stand right in the middle of the clump. I joined him and,
like him, pushed aside the branches of one of the shrubs. And the sight
which presented itself to my eyes was so unexpected that I was unable to
suppress an exclamation, while Lupin, on his side, muttered, between
his teeth:

"By Jupiter! This is a funny job!"

We saw before us, within the confined space that lay between the two
windowless houses, the identical scene represented in the old picture
which I had bought at a second-hand dealer's!

The identical scene! At the back, against the opposite wall, the same
Greek rotunda displayed its slender columns. In the middle, the same
stone benches topped a circle of four steps that ran down to a fish-pond
with moss-grown flags. On the left, the same well raised its
wrought-iron roof; and, close at hand, the same sun-dial showed its
slanting gnomon and its marble face.

The identical scene! And what added to the strangeness of the sight was
the memory, obsessing Lupin and myself, of that date of the 15th of
April, inscribed in a corner of the picture, and the thought that this
very day was the 15th of April and that sixteen or seventeen people, so
different in age, condition and manners, had chosen the 15th of April to
come together in this forgotten corner of Paris!

All of them, at the moment when we caught sight of them, were sitting in
separate groups on the benches and steps; and all were eating. Not very
far from my neighbour and her daughter, the workman's family and the
beggar couple were sharing their provisions; while the footman, the
gentleman in the soiled suit, the infantry corporal and the two lean
sisters were making a common stock of their sliced ham, their tins of
sardines and their gruyère cheese.

The lady with the little dog alone, who had brought no food with her,
sat apart from the others, who made a show of turning their backs upon
her. But Louise d'Ernemont offered her a sandwich, whereupon her example
was followed by the two sisters; and the corporal at once began to make
himself as agreeable to the young person as he could.

It was now half-past one. The beggar-man took out his pipe, as did the
fat gentleman; and, when they found that one had no tobacco and the
other no matches, their needs soon brought them together. The men went
and smoked by the rotunda and the women joined them. For that matter,
all these people seemed to know one another quite well.

They were at some distance from where we were standing, so that we could
not hear what they said. However, we gradually perceived that the
conversation was becoming animated. The young person with the dog, in
particular, who by this time appeared to be in great request, indulged
in much voluble talk, accompanying her words with many gestures, which
set the little dog barking furiously.

But, suddenly, there was an outcry, promptly followed by shouts of rage;
and one and all, men and women alike, rushed in disorder toward the
well. One of the workman's brats was at that moment coming out of it,
fastened by his belt to the hook at the end of the rope; and the three
other urchins were drawing him up by turning the handle. More active
than the rest, the corporal flung himself upon him; and forthwith the
footman and the fat gentleman seized hold of him also, while the beggars
and the lean sisters came to blows with the workman and his family.

In a few seconds the little boy had not a stitch left on him beyond his
shirt. The footman, who had taken possession of the rest of the clothes,
ran away, pursued by the corporal, who snatched away the boy's breeches,
which were next torn from the corporal by one of the lean sisters.

"They are mad!" I muttered, feeling absolutely at sea.

"Not at all, not at all," said Lupin.

"What! Do you mean to say that you can make head or tail of what is
going on?"

He did not reply. The young lady with the little dog, tucking her pet
under her arm, had started running after the child in the shirt, who
uttered loud yells. The two of them raced round the laurel-clump in
which we stood hidden; and the brat flung himself into his mother's
arms.

At long last, Louise d'Ernemont, who had played a conciliatory part from
the beginning, succeeded in allaying the tumult. Everybody sat down
again; but there was a reaction in all those exasperated people and they
remained motionless and silent, as though worn out with their exertions.

And time went by. Losing patience and beginning to feel the pangs of
hunger, I went to the Rue Raynouard to fetch something to eat, which we
divided while watching the actors in the incomprehensible comedy that
was being performed before our eyes. They hardly stirred. Each minute
that passed seemed to load them with increasing melancholy; and they
sank into attitudes of discouragement, bent their backs more and more
and sat absorbed in their meditations.

The afternoon wore on in this way, under a grey sky that shed a dreary
light over the enclosure.

"Are they going to spend the night here?" I asked, in a bored voice.

But, at five o'clock or so, the fat gentleman in the soiled jacket-suit
took out his watch. The others did the same and all, watch in hand,
seemed to be anxiously awaiting an event of no little importance to
themselves. The event did not take place, for, in fifteen or twenty
minutes, the fat gentleman gave a gesture of despair, stood up and put
on his hat.

Then lamentations broke forth. The two lean sisters and the workman's
wife fell upon their knees and made the sign of the cross. The lady with
the little dog and the beggar-woman kissed each other and sobbed; and we
saw Louise d'Ernemont pressing her daughter sadly to her.

"Let's go," said Lupin.

"You think it's over?"

"Yes; and we have only just time to make ourselves scarce."

We went out unmolested. At the top of the lane, Lupin turned to the left
and, leaving me outside, entered the first house in the Rue Raynouard,
the one that backed on to the enclosure.

After talking for a few seconds to the porter, he joined me and we
stopped a passing taxi-cab:

"No. 34 Rue de Turin," he said to the driver.

The ground-floor of No. 34 was occupied by a notary's office; and we
were shown in, almost without waiting, to Maître Valandier, a smiling,
pleasant-spoken man of a certain age.

Lupin introduced himself by the name of Captain Jeanniot, retired from
the army. He said that he wanted to build a house to his own liking
and that some one had suggested to him a plot of ground situated near
the Rue Raynouard.

"But that plot is not for sale," said Maître Valandier.

"Oh, I was told...."

"You have been misinformed, I fear."

The lawyer rose, went to a cupboard and returned with a picture which he
showed us. I was petrified. It was the same picture which I had bought,
the same picture that hung in Louise d'Ernemont's room.

"This is a painting," he said, "of the plot of ground to which you
refer. It is known as the Clos d'Ernemont."

"Precisely."

"Well, this close," continued the notary, "once formed part of a large
garden belonging to d'Ernemont, the farmer-general, who was executed
during the Terror. All that could be sold has been sold, piecemeal, by
the heirs. But this last plot has remained and will remain in their
joint possession ... unless...."

The notary began to laugh.

"Unless what?" asked Lupin.

"Well, it's quite a romance, a rather curious romance, in fact. I often
amuse myself by looking through the voluminous documents of the case."

"Would it be indiscreet, if I asked ...?"

"Not at all, not at all," declared Maître Valandier, who seemed
delighted, on the contrary, to have found a listener for his story. And,
without waiting to be pressed, he began: "At the outbreak of the
Revolution, Louis Agrippa d'Ernemont, on the pretence of joining his
wife, who was staying at Geneva with their daughter Pauline, shut up his
mansion in the Faubourg Saint-Germain, dismissed his servants and, with
his son Charles, came and took up his abode in his pleasure-house at
Passy, where he was known to nobody except an old and devoted
serving-woman. He remained there in hiding for three years and he had
every reason to hope that his retreat would not be discovered, when, one
day, after luncheon, as he was having a nap, the old servant burst into
his room. She had seen, at the end of the street, a patrol of armed men
who seemed to be making for the house. Louis d'Ernemont got ready
quickly and, at the moment when the men were knocking at the front door,
disappeared through the door that led to the garden, shouting to his
son, in a scared voice, to keep them talking, if only for five minutes.
He may have intended to escape and found the outlets through the garden
watched. In any case, he returned in six or seven minutes, replied very
calmly to the questions put to him and raised no difficulty about
accompanying the men. His son Charles, although only eighteen years of
age, was arrested also."

"When did this happen?" asked Lupin.

"It happened on the 26th day of Germinal, Year II, that is to say, on
the...."

Maître Valandier stopped, with his eyes fixed on a calendar that hung on
the wall, and exclaimed:

"Why, it was on this very day! This is the 15th of April, the
anniversary of the farmer-general's arrest."

"What an odd coincidence!" said Lupin. "And considering the period at
which it took place, the arrest, no doubt, had serious consequences?"

"Oh, most serious!" said the notary, laughing. "Three months later, at
the beginning of Thermidor, the farmer-general mounted the scaffold. His
son Charles was forgotten in prison and their property was confiscated."

"The property was immense, I suppose?" said Lupin.

"Well, there you are! That's just where the thing becomes complicated.
The property, which was, in fact, immense, could never be traced. It was
discovered that the Faubourg Saint-Germain mansion had been sold, before
the Revolution, to an Englishman, together with all the country-seats
and estates and all the jewels, securities and collections belonging to
the farmer-general. The Convention instituted minute inquiries, as did
the Directory afterward. But the inquiries led to no result."

"There remained, at any rate, the Passy house," said Lupin.

"The house at Passy was bought, for a mere song, by a delegate of the
Commune, the very man who had arrested d'Ernemont, one Citizen Broquet.
Citizen Broquet shut himself up in the house, barricaded the doors,
fortified the walls and, when Charles d'Ernemont was at last set free
and appeared outside, received him by firing a musket at him. Charles
instituted one law-suit after another, lost them all and then proceeded
to offer large sums of money. But Citizen Broquet proved intractable. He
had bought the house and he stuck to the house; and he would have stuck
to it until his death, if Charles had not obtained the support of
Bonaparte. Citizen Broquet cleared out on the 12th of February, 1803;
but Charles d'Ernemont's joy was so great and his brain, no doubt, had
been so violently unhinged by all that he had gone through, that, on
reaching the threshold of the house of which he had at last recovered
the ownership, even before opening the door he began to dance and sing
in the street. He had gone clean off his head."

"By Jove!" said Lupin. "And what became of him?"

"His mother and his sister Pauline, who had ended by marrying a cousin
of the same name at Geneva, were both dead. The old servant-woman took
care of him and they lived together in the Passy house. Years passed
without any notable event; but, suddenly, in 1812, an unexpected
incident happened. The old servant made a series of strange revelations
on her death-bed, in the presence of two witnesses whom she sent for.
She declared that the farmer-general had carried to his house at Passy a
number of bags filled with gold and silver and that those bags had
disappeared a few days before the arrest. According to earlier
confidences made by Charles d'Ernemont, who had them from his father,
the treasures were hidden in the garden, between the rotunda, the
sun-dial and the well. In proof of her statement, she produced three
pictures, or rather, for they were not yet framed, three canvases, which
the farmer-general had painted during his captivity and which he had
succeeded in conveying to her, with instructions to hand them to his
wife, his son and his daughter. Tempted by the lure of wealth, Charles
and the old servant had kept silence. Then came the law-suits, the
recovery of the house, Charles's madness, the servant's own useless
searches; and the treasures were still there."

"And they are there now," chuckled Lupin.

"And they will be there always," exclaimed Maître Valandier. "Unless ...
unless Citizen Broquet, who no doubt smelt a rat, succeeded in ferreting
them out. But this is an unlikely supposition, for Citizen Broquet died
in extreme poverty."

"So then ...?"

"So then everybody began to hunt. The children of Pauline, the sister,
hastened from Geneva. It was discovered that Charles had been secretly
married and that he had sons. All these heirs set to work."

"But Charles himself?"

"Charles lived in the most absolute retirement. He did not leave his
room."

"Never?"

"Well, that is the most extraordinary, the most astounding part of the
story. Once a year, Charles d'Ernemont, impelled by a sort of
subconscious will-power, came downstairs, took the exact road which his
father had taken, walked across the garden and sat down either on the
steps of the rotunda, which you see here, in the picture, or on the curb
of the well. At twenty-seven minutes past five, he rose and went indoors
again; and until his death, which occurred in 1820, he never once failed
to perform this incomprehensible pilgrimage. Well, the day on which this
happened was invariably the 15th of April, the anniversary of the
arrest."

Maître Valandier was no longer smiling and himself seemed impressed by
the amazing story which he was telling us.

"And, since Charles's death?" asked Lupin, after a moment's reflection.

"Since that time," replied the lawyer, with a certain solemnity of
manner, "for nearly a hundred years, the heirs of Charles and Pauline
d'Ernemont have kept up the pilgrimage of the 15th of April. During the
first few years they made the most thorough excavations. Every inch of
the garden was searched, every clod of ground dug up. All this is now
over. They take hardly any pains. All they do is, from time to time, for
no particular reason, to turn over a stone or explore the well. For the
most part, they are content to sit down on the steps of the rotunda,
like the poor madman; and, like him, they wait. And that, you see, is
the sad part of their destiny. In those hundred years, all these people
who have succeeded one another, from father to son, have lost--what
shall I say?--the energy of life. They have no courage left, no
initiative. They wait. They wait for the 15th of April; and, when the
15th of April comes, they wait for a miracle to take place. Poverty has
ended by overtaking every one of them. My predecessors and I have sold
first the house, in order to build another which yields a better rent,
followed by bits of the garden and further bits. But, as to that corner
over there," pointing to the picture, "they would rather die than sell
it. On this they are all agreed: Louise d'Ernemont, who is the direct
heiress of Pauline, as well as the beggars, the workman, the footman,
the circus-rider and so on, who represent the unfortunate Charles."

There was a fresh pause; and Lupin asked:

"What is your own opinion, Maître Valandier?"

"My private opinion is that there's nothing in it. What credit can we
give to the statements of an old servant enfeebled by age? What
importance can we attach to the crotchets of a madman? Besides, if the
farmer-general had realized his fortune, don't you think that that
fortune would have been found? One could manage to hide a paper, a
document, in a confined space like that, but not treasures."

"Still, the pictures?..."

"Yes, of course. But, after all, are they a sufficient proof?"

Lupin bent over the copy which the solicitor had taken from the cupboard
and, after examining it at length, said:

"You spoke of three pictures."

"Yes, the one which you see was handed to my predecessor by the heirs of
Charles. Louise d'Ernemont possesses another. As for the third, no one
knows what became of it."

Lupin looked at me and continued:

"And do they all bear the same date?"

"Yes, the date inscribed by Charles d'Ernemont when he had them framed,
not long before his death.... The same date, that is to say the 15th of
April, Year II, according to the revolutionary calendar, as the arrest
took place in April, 1794."

"Oh, yes, of course," said Lupin. "The figure 2 means...."

He thought for a few moments and resumed:

"One more question, if I may. Did no one ever come forward to solve the
problem?"

Maître Valandier threw up his arms:

"Goodness gracious me!" he cried. "Why, it was the plague of the office!
One of my predecessors, Maître Turbon, was summoned to Passy no fewer
than eighteen times, between 1820 and 1843, by the groups of heirs, whom
fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, visionaries, impostors of all sorts had
promised that they would discover the farmer-general's treasures. At
last, we laid down a rule: any outsider applying to institute a search
was to begin by depositing a certain sum."

"What sum?"

"A thousand francs."

"And did this have the effect of frightening them off?"

"No. Four years ago, an Hungarian hypnotist tried the experiment and
made me waste a whole day. After that, we fixed the deposit at five
thousand francs. In case of success, a third of the treasure goes to the
finder. In case of failure, the deposit is forfeited to the heirs. Since
then, I have been left in peace."

"Here are your five thousand francs."

The lawyer gave a start:

"Eh? What do you say?"

"I say," repeated Lupin, taking five bank-notes from his pocket and
calmly spreading them on the table, "I say that here is the deposit of
five thousand francs. Please give me a receipt and invite all the
d'Ernemont heirs to meet me at Passy on the 15th of April next year."

The notary could not believe his senses. I myself, although Lupin had
accustomed me to these surprises, was utterly taken back.

"Are you serious?" asked Maître Valandier.

"Perfectly serious."

"But, you know, I told you my opinion. All these improbable stories rest
upon no evidence of any kind."

"I don't agree with you," said Lupin.

The notary gave him the look which we give to a person who is not quite
right in his head. Then, accepting the situation, he took his pen and
drew up a contract on stamped paper, acknowledging the payment of the
deposit by Captain Jeanniot and promising him a third of such moneys as
he should discover:

"If you change your mind," he added, "you might let me know a week
before the time comes. I shall not inform the d'Ernemont family until
the last moment, so as not to give those poor people too long a spell of
hope."

"You can inform them this very day, Maître Valandier. It will make them
spend a happier year."

We said good-bye. Outside, in the street, I cried:

"So you have hit upon something?"

"I?" replied Lupin. "Not a bit of it! And that's just what amuses me."

"But they have been searching for a hundred years!"

"It is not so much a matter of searching as of thinking. Now I have
three hundred and sixty-five days to think in. It is a great deal more
than I want; and I am afraid that I shall forget all about the business,
interesting though it may be. Oblige me by reminding me, will you?"

       *       *       *       *       *

I reminded him of it several times during the following months, though
he never seemed to attach much importance to the matter. Then came a
long period during which I had no opportunity of seeing him. It was the
period, as I afterward learnt, of his visit to Armenia and of the
terrible struggle on which he embarked against Abdul the Damned, a
struggle which ended in the tyrant's downfall.

I used to write to him, however, at the address which he gave me and I
was thus able to send him certain particulars which I had succeeded in
gathering, here and there, about my neighbour Louise d'Ernemont, such as
the love which she had conceived, a few years earlier, for a very rich
young man, who still loved her, but who had been compelled by his family
to throw her over; the young widow's despair, and the plucky life which
she led with her little daughter.

Lupin replied to none of my letters. I did not know whether they reached
him; and, meantime, the date was drawing near and I could not help
wondering whether his numerous undertakings would not prevent him from
keeping the appointment which he himself had fixed.

As a matter of fact, the morning of the 15th of April arrived and Lupin
was not with me by the time I had finished lunch. It was a quarter-past
twelve. I left my flat and took a cab to Passy.

I had no sooner entered the lane than I saw the workman's four brats
standing outside the door in the wall. Maître Valandier, informed by
them of my arrival, hastened in my direction:

"Well?" he cried. "Where's Captain Jeanniot?"

"Hasn't he come?"

"No; and I can assure you that everybody is very impatient to see him."

The different groups began to crowd round the lawyer; and I noticed that
all those faces which I recognized had thrown off the gloomy and
despondent expression which they wore a year ago.

"They are full of hope," said Maître Valandier, "and it is my fault. But
what could I do? Your friend made such an impression upon me that I
spoke to these good people with a confidence ... which I cannot say I
feel. However, he seems a queer sort of fellow, this Captain Jeanniot of
yours...."

He asked me many questions and I gave him a number of more or less
fanciful details about the captain, to which the heirs listened, nodding
their heads in appreciation of my remarks.

"Of course, the truth was bound to be discovered sooner or later," said
the fat gentleman, in a tone of conviction.

The infantry corporal, dazzled by the captain's rank, did not entertain
a doubt in his mind.

The lady with the little dog wanted to know if Captain Jeanniot was
young.

But Louise d'Ernemont said:

"And suppose he does not come?"

"We shall still have the five thousand francs to divide," said the
beggar-man.

For all that, Louise d'Ernemont's words had damped their enthusiasm.
Their faces began to look sullen and I felt an atmosphere as of anguish
weighing upon us.

At half-past one, the two lean sisters felt faint and sat down. Then the
fat gentleman in the soiled suit suddenly rounded on the notary:

"It's you, Maître Valandier, who are to blame.... You ought to have
brought the captain here by main force.... He's a humbug, that's quite
clear."

He gave me a savage look, and the footman, in his turn, flung muttered
curses at me.

I confess that their reproaches seemed to me well-founded and that
Lupin's absence annoyed me greatly:

"He won't come now," I whispered to the lawyer.

And I was thinking of beating a retreat, when the eldest of the brats
appeared at the door, yelling:

"There's some one coming!... A motor-cycle!..."

A motor was throbbing on the other side of the wall. A man on a
motor-bicycle came tearing down the lane at the risk of breaking his
neck. Suddenly, he put on his brakes, outside the door, and sprang from
his machine.

Under the layer of dust which covered him from head to foot, we could
see that his navy-blue reefer-suit, his carefully creased trousers, his
black felt hat and patent-leather boots were not the clothes in which a
man usually goes cycling.

"But that's not Captain Jeanniot!" shouted the notary, who failed to
recognize him.

"Yes, it is," said Lupin, shaking hands with us. "I'm Captain Jeanniot
right enough ... only I've shaved off my moustache.... Besides, Maître
Valandier, here's your receipt."

He caught one of the workman's children by the arm and said:

"Run to the cab-rank and fetch a taxi to the corner of the Rue
Raynouard. Look sharp! I have an urgent appointment to keep at two
o'clock, or a quarter-past at the latest."

There was a murmur of protest. Captain Jeanniot took out his watch:

"Well! It's only twelve minutes to two! I have a good quarter of an hour
before me. But, by Jingo, how tired I feel! And how hungry into the
bargain!"

The corporal thrust his ammunition-bread into Lupin's hand; and he
munched away at it as he sat down and said:

"You must forgive me. I was in the Marseilles express, which left the
rails between Dijon and Laroche. There were twelve people killed and any
number injured, whom I had to help. Then I found this motor-cycle in the
luggage-van.... Maître Valandier, you must be good enough to restore it
to the owner. You will find the label fastened to the handle-bar. Ah,
you're back, my boy! Is the taxi there? At the corner of the Rue
Raynouard? Capital!"

He looked at his watch again:

"Hullo! No time to lose!"

I stared at him with eager curiosity. But how great must the excitement
of the d'Ernemont heirs have been! True, they had not the same faith in
Captain Jeanniot that I had in Lupin. Nevertheless, their faces were
pale and drawn. Captain Jeanniot turned slowly to the left and walked up
to the sun-dial. The pedestal represented the figure of a man with a
powerful torso, who bore on his shoulders a marble slab the surface of
which had been so much worn by time that we could hardly distinguish the
engraved lines that marked the hours. Above the slab, a Cupid, with
outspread wings, held an arrow that served as a gnomon.

The captain stood leaning forward for a minute, with attentive eyes.

Then he said:

"Somebody lend me a knife, please."

A clock in the neighbourhood struck two. At that exact moment, the
shadow of the arrow was thrown upon the sunlit dial along the line of a
crack in the marble which divided the slab very nearly in half.

The captain took the knife handed to him. And with the point, very
gently, he began to scratch the mixture of earth and moss that filled
the narrow cleft.

Almost immediately, at a couple of inches from the edge, he stopped, as
though his knife had encountered an obstacle, inserted his thumb and
forefinger and withdrew a small object which he rubbed between the palms
of his hands and gave to the lawyer:

"Here, Maître Valandier. Something to go on with."

It was an enormous diamond, the size of a hazelnut and beautifully cut.

The captain resumed his work. The next moment, a fresh stop. A second
diamond, magnificent and brilliant as the first, appeared in sight.

And then came a third and a fourth.

In a minute's time, following the crack from one edge to the other and
certainly without digging deeper than half an inch, the captain had
taken out eighteen diamonds of the same size.

During this minute, there was not a cry, not a movement around the
sun-dial. The heirs seemed paralyzed with a sort of stupor. Then the fat
gentleman muttered:

"Geminy!"

And the corporal moaned:

"Oh, captain!... Oh, captain!..."

The two sisters fell in a dead faint. The lady with the little dog
dropped on her knees and prayed, while the footman, staggering like a
drunken man, held his head in his two hands, and Louise d'Ernemont wept.

When calm was restored and all became eager to thank Captain Jeanniot,
they saw that he was gone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some years passed before I had an opportunity of talking to Lupin about
this business. He was in a confidential vein and answered:

"The business of the eighteen diamonds? By Jove, when I think that three
or four generations of my fellow-men had been hunting for the solution!
And the eighteen diamonds were there all the time, under a little mud
and dust!"

"But how did you guess?..."

"I did not guess. I reflected. I doubt if I need even have reflected.
I was struck, from the beginning, by the fact that the whole
circumstance was governed by one primary question: the question of time.
When Charles d'Ernemont was still in possession of his wits, he wrote a
date upon the three pictures. Later, in the gloom in which he was
struggling, a faint glimmer of intelligence led him every year to the
centre of the old garden; and the same faint glimmer led him away from
it every year at the same moment, that is to say, at twenty-seven
minutes past five. Something must have acted on the disordered machinery
of his brain in this way. What was the superior force that controlled
the poor madman's movements? Obviously, the instinctive notion of time
represented by the sun-dial in the farmer-general's pictures. It was the
annual revolution of the earth around the sun that brought Charles
d'Ernemont back to the garden at a fixed date. And it was the earth's
daily revolution upon its own axis that took him from it at a fixed
hour, that is to say, at the hour, most likely, when the sun, concealed
by objects different from those of to-day, ceased to light the Passy
garden. Now of all this the sun-dial was the symbol. And that is why I
at once knew where to look."

"But how did you settle the hour at which to begin looking?"

"Simply by the pictures. A man living at that time, such as Charles
d'Ernemont, would have written either 26 Germinal, Year II, or else 15
April, 1794, but not 15 April, Year II. I was astounded that no one had
thought of that."

"Then the figure 2 stood for two o'clock?"

"Evidently. And what must have happened was this: the farmer-general
began by turning his fortune into solid gold and silver money. Then, by
way of additional precaution, with this gold and silver he bought
eighteen wonderful diamonds. When he was surprised by the arrival of the
patrol, he fled into his garden. Which was the best place to hide the
diamonds? Chance caused his eyes to light upon the sun-dial. It was two
o'clock. The shadow of the arrow was then falling along the crack in the
marble. He obeyed this sign of the shadow, rammed his eighteen diamonds
into the dust and calmly went back and surrendered to the soldiers."

"But the shadow of the arrow coincides with the crack in the marble
every day of the year and not only on the 15th of April."

"You forget, my dear chap, that we are dealing with a lunatic and that
he remembered only this date of the 15th of April."

"Very well; but you, once you had solved the riddle, could easily have
made your way into the enclosure and taken the diamonds."

"Quite true; and I should not have hesitated, if I had had to do with
people of another description. But I really felt sorry for those poor
wretches. And then you know the sort of idiot that Lupin is. The idea of
appearing suddenly as a benevolent genius and amazing his kind would be
enough to make him commit any sort of folly."

"Tah!" I cried. "The folly was not so great as all that. Six magnificent
diamonds! How delighted the d'Ernemont heirs must have been to fulfil
their part of the contract!"

Lupin looked at me and burst into uncontrollable laughter:

"So you haven't heard? Oh, what a joke! The delight of the d'Ernemont
heirs!.... Why, my dear fellow, on the next day, that worthy Captain
Jeanniot had so many mortal enemies! On the very next day, the two lean
sisters and the fat gentleman organized an opposition. A contract? Not
worth the paper it was written on, because, as could easily be proved,
there was no such person as Captain Jeanniot. Where did that adventurer
spring from? Just let him sue them and they'd soon show him what was
what!"

"Louise d'Ernemont too?"

"No, Louise d'Ernemont protested against that piece of rascality. But
what could she do against so many? Besides, now that she was rich, she
got back her young man. I haven't heard of her since."

"So ...?"

"So, my dear fellow, I was caught in a trap, with not a leg to stand on,
and I had to compromise and accept one modest diamond as my share, the
smallest and the least handsome of the lot. That comes of doing one's
best to help people!"

And Lupin grumbled between his teeth:

"Oh, gratitude!... All humbug!... Where should we honest men be if we
had not our conscience and the satisfaction of duty performed to reward
us?"



IV

THE INFERNAL TRAP


When the race was over, a crowd of people, streaming toward the exit
from the grand stand, pushed against Nicolas Dugrival. He brought his
hand smartly to the inside pocket of his jacket.

"What's the matter?" asked his wife.

"I still feel nervous ... with that money on me! I'm afraid of some
nasty accident."

She muttered:

"And I can't understand you. How can you think of carrying such a sum
about with you? Every farthing we possess! Lord knows, it cost us
trouble enough to earn!"

"Pooh!" he said. "No one would guess that it is here, in my
pocket-book."

"Yes, yes," she grumbled. "That young man-servant whom we discharged
last week knew all about it, didn't he, Gabriel?"

"Yes, aunt," said a youth standing beside her.

Nicolas Dugrival, his wife and his nephew Gabriel were well-known
figures at the race-meetings, where the regular frequenters saw them
almost every day: Dugrival, a big, fat, red-faced man, who looked as if
he knew how to enjoy life; his wife, also built on heavy lines, with a
coarse, vulgar face, and always dressed in a plum-coloured silk much the
worse for wear; the nephew, quite young, slender, with pale features,
dark eyes and fair and rather curly hair.

As a rule, the couple remained seated throughout the afternoon. It was
Gabriel who betted for his uncle, watching the horses in the paddock,
picking up tips to right and left among the jockeys and stable-lads,
running backward and forward between the stands and the _pari-mutuel_.

Luck had favoured them that day, for, three times, Dugrival's neighbours
saw the young man come back and hand him money.

The fifth race was just finishing. Dugrival lit a cigar. At that moment,
a gentleman in a tight-fitting brown suit, with a face ending in a
peaked gray beard, came up to him and asked, in a confidential whisper:

"Does this happen to belong to you, sir?"

And he displayed a gold watch and chain.

Dugrival gave a start:

"Why, yes ... it's mine.... Look, here are my initials, N. G.: Nicolas
Dugrival!"

And he at once, with a movement of terror, clapped his hand to his
jacket-pocket. The note-case was still there.

"Ah," he said, greatly relieved, "that's a piece of luck!... But, all
the same, how on earth was it done?... Do you know the scoundrel?"

"Yes, we've got him locked up. Pray come with me and we'll soon look
into the matter."

"Whom have I the honour ...?"

"M. Delangle, detective-inspector. I have sent to let M. Marquenne, the
magistrate, know."

Nicolas Dugrival went out with the inspector; and the two of them
started for the commissary's office, some distance behind the grand
stand. They were within fifty yards of it, when the inspector was
accosted by a man who said to him, hurriedly:

"The fellow with the watch has blabbed; we are on the tracks of a whole
gang. M. Marquenne wants you to wait for him at the _pari-mutuel_ and to
keep a look-out near the fourth booth."

There was a crowd outside the betting-booths and Inspector Delangle
muttered:

"It's an absurd arrangement.... Whom am I to look out for?... That's
just like M. Marquenne!..."

He pushed aside a group of people who were crowding too close upon him:

"By Jove, one has to use one's elbows here and keep a tight hold on
one's purse. That's the way you got your watch pinched, M. Dugrival!"

"I can't understand...."

"Oh, if you knew how those gentry go to work! One never guesses what
they're up to next. One of them treads on your foot, another gives you a
poke in the eye with his stick and the third picks your pocket before
you know where you are.... I've been had that way myself." He stopped
and then continued, angrily. "But, bother it, what's the use of hanging
about here! What a mob! It's unbearable!... Ah, there's M. Marquenne
making signs to us!... One moment, please ... and be sure and wait for
me here."

He shouldered his way through the crowd. Nicolas Dugrival followed him
for a moment with his eyes. Once the inspector was out of sight, he
stood a little to one side, to avoid being hustled.

A few minutes passed. The sixth race was about to start, when Dugrival
saw his wife and nephew looking for him. He explained to them that
Inspector Delangle was arranging matters with the magistrate.

"Have you your money still?" asked his wife.

"Why, of course I have!" he replied. "The inspector and I took good
care, I assure you, not to let the crowd jostle us."

He felt his jacket, gave a stifled cry, thrust his hand into his pocket
and began to stammer inarticulate syllables, while Mme. Dugrival gasped,
in dismay:

"What is it? What's the matter?"

"Stolen!" he moaned. "The pocket-book ... the fifty notes!..."

"It's not true!" she screamed. "It's not true!"

"Yes, the inspector ... a common sharper ... he's the man...."

She uttered absolute yells:

"Thief! Thief! Stop thief!... My husband's been robbed!... Fifty
thousand francs!... We are ruined!... Thief! Thief ..."

In a moment they were surrounded by policemen and taken to the
commissary's office. Dugrival went like a lamb, absolutely bewildered.
His wife continued to shriek at the top of her voice, piling up
explanations, railing against the inspector:

"Have him looked for!... Have him found!... A brown suit.... A pointed
beard.... Oh, the villain, to think what he's robbed us of!... Fifty
thousand francs!... Why ... why, Dugrival, what are you doing?"

With one bound, she flung herself upon her husband. Too late! He had
pressed the barrel of a revolver against his temple. A shot rang out.
Dugrival fell. He was dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reader cannot have forgotten the commotion made by the newspapers in
connection with this case, nor how they jumped at the opportunity once
more to accuse the police of carelessness and blundering. Was it
conceivable that a pick-pocket could play the part of an inspector like
that, in broad daylight and in a public place, and rob a respectable man
with impunity?

Nicolas Dugrival's widow kept the controversy alive, thanks to her
jeremiads and to the interviews which she granted on every hand. A
reporter had secured a snapshot of her in front of her husband's body,
holding up her hand and swearing to revenge his death. Her nephew
Gabriel was standing beside her, with hatred pictured in his face. He,
too, it appeared, in a few words uttered in a whisper, but in a tone of
fierce determination, had taken an oath to pursue and catch the
murderer.

The accounts described the humble apartment which they occupied at the
Batignolles; and, as they had been robbed of all their means, a
sporting-paper opened a subscription on their behalf.

As for the mysterious Delangle, he remained undiscovered. Two men were
arrested, but had to be released forthwith. The police took up a number
of clues, which were at once abandoned; more than one name was
mentioned; and, lastly, they accused Arsène Lupin, an action which
provoked the famous burglar's celebrated cable, dispatched from New York
six days after the incident:


    "Protest indignantly against calumny invented by baffled police.
    Send my condolences to unhappy victims. Instructing my bankers to
    remit them fifty thousand francs.

                                                             "LUPIN."


True enough, on the day after the publication of the cable, a stranger
rang at Mme. Dugrival's door and handed her an envelope. The envelope
contained fifty thousand-franc notes.

This theatrical stroke was not at all calculated to allay the universal
comment. But an event soon occurred which provided any amount of
additional excitement. Two days later, the people living in the same
house as Mme. Dugrival and her nephew were awakened, at four o'clock in
the morning, by horrible cries and shrill calls for help. They rushed to
the flat. The porter succeeded in opening the door. By the light of a
lantern carried by one of the neighbours, he found Gabriel stretched at
full-length in his bedroom, with his wrists and ankles bound and a gag
forced into his mouth, while, in the next room, Mme. Dugrival lay with
her life's blood ebbing away through a great gash in her breast.

She whispered:

"The money.... I've been robbed.... All the notes gone...."

And she fainted away.

What had happened? Gabriel said--and, as soon as she was able to speak,
Mme. Dugrival completed her nephew's story--that he was startled from
his sleep by finding himself attacked by two men, one of whom gagged
him, while the other fastened him down. He was unable to see the men in
the dark, but he heard the noise of the struggle between them and his
aunt. It was a terrible struggle, Mme. Dugrival declared. The ruffians,
who obviously knew their way about, guided by some intuition, made
straight for the little cupboard containing the money and, in spite of
her resistance and outcries, laid hands upon the bundle of bank-notes.
As they left, one of them, whom she had bitten in the arm, stabbed her
with a knife, whereupon the men had both fled.

"Which way?" she was asked.

"Through the door of my bedroom and afterward, I suppose, through the
hall-door."

"Impossible! The porter would have noticed them."

For the whole mystery lay in this: how had the ruffians entered the
house and how did they manage to leave it? There was no outlet open to
them. Was it one of the tenants? A careful inquiry proved the absurdity
of such a supposition.

What then?

Chief-inspector Ganimard, who was placed in special charge of the case,
confessed that he had never known anything more bewildering:

"It's very like Lupin," he said, "and yet it's not Lupin.... No, there's
more in it than meets the eye, something very doubtful and
suspicious.... Besides, if it were Lupin, why should he take back the
fifty thousand francs which he sent? There's another question that
puzzles me: what is the connection between the second robbery and the
first, the one on the race-course? The whole thing is incomprehensible
and I have a sort of feeling--which is very rare with me--that it is no
use hunting. For my part, I give it up."

The examining-magistrate threw himself into the case with heart and
soul. The reporters united their efforts with those of the police. A
famous English sleuth-hound crossed the Channel. A wealthy American,
whose head had been turned by detective-stories, offered a big reward to
whosoever should supply the first information leading to the discovery
of the truth. Six weeks later, no one was any the wiser. The public
adopted Ganimard's view; and the examining-magistrate himself grew tired
of struggling in a darkness which only became denser as time went on.

And life continued as usual with Dugrival's widow. Nursed by her nephew,
she soon recovered from her wound. In the mornings, Gabriel settled her
in an easy-chair at the dining-room window, did the rooms and then went
out marketing. He cooked their lunch without even accepting the
proffered assistance of the porter's wife.

Worried by the police investigations and especially by the requests for
interviews, the aunt and nephew refused to see anybody. Not even the
portress, whose chatter disturbed and wearied Mme. Dugrival, was
admitted. She fell back upon Gabriel, whom she accosted each time that
he passed her room:

"Take care, M. Gabriel, you're both of you being spied upon. There are
men watching you. Why, only last night, my husband caught a fellow
staring up at your windows."

"Nonsense!" said Gabriel. "It's all right. That's the police, protecting
us."

One afternoon, at about four o'clock, there was a violent altercation
between two costermongers at the bottom of the street. The porter's wife
at once left her room to listen to the invectives which the adversaries
were hurling at each other's heads. Her back was no sooner turned than
a man, young, of medium height and dressed in a gray suit of
irreproachable cut, slipped into the house and ran up the staircase.

When he came to the third floor, he rang the bell. Receiving no answer,
he rang again. At the third summons, the door opened.

"Mme. Dugrival?" he asked, taking off his hat.

"Mme. Dugrival is still an invalid and unable to see any one," said
Gabriel, who stood in the hall.

"It's most important that I should speak to her."

"I am her nephew and perhaps I could take her a message...."

"Very well," said the man. "Please tell Mme. Dugrival that an accident
has supplied me with valuable information concerning the robbery from
which she has suffered and that I should like to go over the flat and
ascertain certain particulars for myself. I am accustomed to this sort
of inquiry; and my call is sure to be of use to her."

Gabriel examined the visitor for a moment, reflected and said:

"In that case, I suppose my aunt will consent ... Pray come in."

He opened the door of the dining-room and stepped back to allow the
other to pass. The stranger walked to the threshold, but, at the moment
when he was crossing it, Gabriel raised his arm and, with a swift
movement, struck him with a dagger over the right shoulder.

A burst of laughter rang through the room:

"Got him!" cried Mme. Dugrival, darting up from her chair. "Well done,
Gabriel! But, I say, you haven't killed the scoundrel, have you?"

"I don't think so, aunt. It's a small blade and I didn't strike him too
hard."

The man was staggering, with his hands stretched in front of him and his
face deathly pale.

"You fool!" sneered the widow. "So you've fallen into the trap ... and a
good job too! We've been looking out for you a long time. Come, my fine
fellow, down with you! You don't care about it, do you? But you can't
help yourself, you see. That's right: one knee on the ground, before the
missus ... now the other knee.... How well we've been brought up!...
Crash, there we go on the floor! Lord, if my poor Dugrival could only
see him like that!... And now, Gabriel, to work!"

She went to her bedroom and opened one of the doors of a hanging
wardrobe filled with dresses. Pulling these aside, she pushed open
another door which formed the back of the wardrobe and led to a room in
the next house:

"Help me carry him, Gabriel. And you'll nurse him as well as you can,
won't you? For the present, he's worth his weight in gold to us, the
artist!..."

       *       *       *       *       *

The hours succeeded one another. Days passed.

One morning, the wounded man regained a moment's consciousness. He
raised his eyelids and looked around him.

He was lying in a room larger than that in which he had been stabbed, a
room sparsely furnished, with thick curtains hanging before the windows
from top to bottom. There was light enough, however, to enable him to
see young Gabriel Dugrival seated on a chair beside him and watching
him.

"Ah, it's you, youngster!" he murmured. "I congratulate you, my lad. You
have a sure and pretty touch with the dagger."

And he fell asleep again.

That day and the following days, he woke up several times and, each
time, he saw the stripling's pale face, his thin lips and his dark eyes,
with the hard look in them:

"You frighten me," he said. "If you have sworn to do for me, don't stand
on ceremony. But cheer up, for goodness' sake. The thought of death has
always struck me as the most humorous thing in the world. Whereas, with
you, old chap, it simply becomes lugubrious. I prefer to go to sleep.
Good-night!"

Still, Gabriel, in obedience to Mme. Dugrival's orders, continued to
nurse him with the utmost care and attention. The patient was almost
free from fever and was beginning to take beef-tea and milk. He gained a
little strength and jested:

"When will the convalescent be allowed his first drive? Is the
bath-chair there? Why, cheer up, stupid! You look like a weeping-willow
contemplating a crime. Come, just one little smile for daddy!"

One day, on waking, he had a very unpleasant feeling of constraint.
After a few efforts, he perceived that, during his sleep, his legs,
chest and arms had been fastened to the bedstead with thin wire strands
that cut into his flesh at the least movements.

"Ah," he said to his keeper, "this time it's the great performance! The
chicken's going to be bled. Are you operating, Angel Gabriel? If so, see
that your razor's nice and clean, old chap! The antiseptic treatment,
_if_ you please!"

But he was interrupted by the sound of a key grating in the lock. The
door opposite opened and Mme. Dugrival appeared.

She approached slowly, took a chair and, producing a revolver from her
pocket, cocked it and laid it on the table by the bedside.

"Brrrrr!" said the prisoner. "We might be at the Ambigu!... Fourth act:
the Traitor's Doom. And the fair sex to do the deed.... The hand of the
Graces.... What an honour!... Mme. Dugrival, I rely on you not to
disfigure me."

"Hold your tongue, Lupin."

"Ah, so you know?... By Jove, how clever we are!"

"Hold your tongue, Lupin."

There was a solemn note in her voice that impressed the captive and
compelled him to silence. He watched his two gaolers in turns. The
bloated features and red complexion of Mme. Dugrival formed a striking
contrast with her nephew's refined face; but they both wore the same air
of implacable resolve.

The widow leant forward and said:

"Are you prepared to answer my questions?"

"Why not?"

"Then listen to me. How did you know that Dugrival carried all his money
in his pocket?"

"Servants' gossip...."

"A young man-servant whom we had in our employ: was that it?"

"Yes."

"And did you steal Dugrival's watch in order to give it back to him and
inspire him with confidence?"

"Yes."

She suppressed a movement of fury:

"You fool! You fool!... What! You rob my man, you drive him to kill
himself and, instead of making tracks to the uttermost ends of the earth
and hiding yourself, you go on playing Lupin in the heart of Paris!...
Did you forget that I swore, on my dead husband's head, to find his
murderer?"

"That's what staggers me," said Lupin. "How did you come to suspect me?"

"How? Why, you gave yourself away!"

"I did?..."

"Of course.... The fifty thousand francs...."

"Well, what about it? A present...."

"Yes, a present which you gave cabled instructions to have sent to me,
so as to make believe that you were in America on the day of the races.
A present, indeed! What humbug! The fact is, you didn't like to think of
the poor fellow whom you had murdered. So you restored the money to the
widow, publicly, of course, because you love playing to the gallery and
ranting and posing, like the mountebank that you are. That was all very
nicely thought out. Only, my fine fellow, you ought not to have sent me
the selfsame notes that were stolen from Dugrival! Yes, you silly fool,
the selfsame notes and no others! We knew the numbers, Dugrival and I
did. And you were stupid enough to send the bundle to me. Now do you
understand your folly?"

Lupin began to laugh:

"It was a pretty blunder, I confess. I'm not responsible; I gave
different orders. But, all the same I can't blame any one except
myself."

"Ah, so you admit it! You signed your theft and you signed your ruin at
the same time. There was nothing left to be done but to find you. Find
you? No, better than that. Sensible people don't find Lupin: they make
him come to them! That was a masterly notion. It belongs to my young
nephew, who loathes you as much as I do, if possible, and who knows you
thoroughly, through reading all the books that have been written about
you. He knows your prying nature, your need to be always plotting, your
mania for hunting in the dark and unravelling what others have failed to
unravel. He also knows that sort of sham kindness of yours, the
drivelling sentimentality that makes you shed crocodile tears over the
people you victimize; And he planned the whole farce! He invented the
story of the two burglars, the second theft of fifty thousand francs!
Oh, I swear to you, before Heaven, that the stab which I gave myself
with my own hands never hurt me! And I swear to you, before Heaven, that
we spent a glorious time waiting for you, the boy and I, peeping out at
your confederates who prowled under our windows, taking their bearings!
And there was no mistake about it: you were bound to come! Seeing that
you had restored the Widow Dugrival's fifty thousand francs, it was out
of the question that you should allow the Widow Dugrival to be robbed of
her fifty thousand francs! You were bound to come, attracted by the
scent of the mystery. You were bound to come, for swagger, out of
vanity! And you come!"

The widow gave a strident laugh:

"Well played, wasn't it? The Lupin of Lupins, the master of masters,
inaccessible and invisible, caught in a trap by a woman and a boy!...
Here he is in flesh and bone ... here he is with hands and feet tied, no
more dangerous than a sparrow ... here is he ... here he is!..."

She shook with joy and began to pace the room, throwing sidelong glances
at the bed, like a wild beast that does not for a moment take its eyes
from its victim. And never had Lupin beheld greater hatred and savagery
in any human being.

"Enough of this prattle," she said.

Suddenly restraining herself, she stalked back to him and, in a quite
different tone, in a hollow voice, laying stress on every syllable:

"Thanks to the papers in your pocket, Lupin, I have made good use of the
last twelve days. I know all your affairs, all your schemes, all your
assumed names, all the organization of your band, all the lodgings which
you possess in Paris and elsewhere. I have even visited one of them, the
most secret, the one where you hide your papers, your ledgers and the
whole story of your financial operations. The result of my
investigations is very satisfactory. Here are four cheques, taken from
four cheque-books and corresponding with four accounts which you keep at
four different banks under four different names. I have filled in each
of them for ten thousand francs. A larger figure would have been too
risky. And, now, sign."

"By Jove!" said Lupin, sarcastically. "This is blackmail, my worthy Mme.
Dugrival."

"That takes your breath away, what?"

"It takes my breath away, as you say."

"And you find an adversary who is a match for you?"

"The adversary is far beyond me. So the trap--let us call it
infernal--the infernal trap into which I have fallen was laid not merely
by a widow thirsting for revenge, but also by a first-rate business
woman anxious to increase her capital?"

"Just so."

"My congratulations. And, while I think of it, used M. Dugrival perhaps
to ...?"

"You have hit it, Lupin. After all, why conceal the fact? It will
relieve your conscience. Yes, Lupin, Dugrival used to work on the same
lines as yourself. Oh, not on the same scale!... We were modest people:
a louis here, a louis there ... a purse or two which we trained Gabriel
to pick up at the races.... And, in this way, we had made our little
pile ... just enough to buy a small place in the country."

"I prefer it that way," said Lupin.

"That's all right! I'm only telling you, so that you may know that I am
not a beginner and that you have nothing to hope for. A rescue? No. The
room in which we now are communicates with my bedroom. It has a private
outlet of which nobody knows. It was Dugrival's special apartment. He
used to see his friends here. He kept his implements and tools here, his
disguises ... his telephone even, as you perceive. So there's no hope,
you see. Your accomplices have given up looking for you here. I have
sent them off on another track. Your goose is cooked. Do you begin to
realize the position?"

"Yes."

"Then sign the cheques."

"And, when I have signed them, shall I be free?"

"I must cash them first."

"And after that?"

"After that, on my soul, as I hope to be saved, you will be free."

"I don't trust you."

"Have you any choice?"

"That's true. Hand me the cheques."

She unfastened Lupin's right hand, gave him a pen and said:

"Don't forget that the four cheques require four different signatures
and that the handwriting has to be altered in each case."

"Never fear."

He signed the cheques.

"Gabriel," said the widow, "it is ten o'clock. If I am not back by
twelve, it will mean that this scoundrel has played me one of his
tricks. At twelve o'clock, blow out his brains. I am leaving you the
revolver with which your uncle shot himself. There are five bullets left
out of the six. That will be ample."

She left the room, humming a tune as she went.

Lupin mumbled:

"I wouldn't give twopence for my life."

He shut his eyes for an instant and then, suddenly, said to Gabriel:

"How much?"

And, when the other did not appear to understand, he grew irritated:

"I mean what I say. How much? Answer me, can't you? We drive the same
trade, you and I. I steal, thou stealest, we steal. So we ought to come
to terms: that's what we are here for. Well? Is it a bargain? Shall we
clear out together. I will give you a post in my gang, an easy,
well-paid post. How much do you want for yourself? Ten thousand? Twenty
thousand? Fix your own price; don't be shy. There's plenty to be had for
the asking."

An angry shiver passed through his frame as he saw the impassive face of
his keeper:

"Oh, the beggar won't even answer! Why, you can't have been so fond of
old Dugrival as all that! Listen to me: if you consent to release
me...."

But he interrupted himself. The young man's eyes wore the cruel
expression which he knew so well. What was the use of trying to move
him?

"Hang it all!" he snarled. "I'm not going to croak here, like a dog! Oh,
if I could only...."

Stiffening all his muscles, he tried to burst his bonds, making a
violent effort that drew a cry of pain from him; and he fell back upon
his bed, exhausted.

"Well, well," he muttered, after a moment, "it's as the widow said: my
goose is cooked. Nothing to be done. _De profundis_, Lupin."

A quarter of an hour passed, half an hour....

Gabriel, moving closer to Lupin, saw that his eyes were shut and that
his breath came evenly, like that of a man sleeping. But Lupin said:

"Don't imagine that I'm asleep, youngster. No, people don't sleep at a
moment like this. Only I am consoling myself. Needs must, eh?... And
then I am thinking of what is to come after.... Exactly. I have a little
theory of my own about that. You wouldn't think it, to look at me, but I
believe in metempsychosis, in the transmigration of souls. It would take
too long to explain, however.... I say, boy ... suppose we shook hands
before we part? You won't? Then good-bye. Good health and a long life to
you, Gabriel!..."

He closed his eyelids and did not stir again before Mme. Dugrival's
return.

The widow entered with a lively step, at a few minutes before twelve.
She seemed greatly excited:

"I have the money," she said to her nephew. "Run away. I'll join you in
the motor down below."

"But...."

"I don't want your help to finish him off. I can do that alone. Still,
if you feel like seeing the sort of a face a rogue can pull.... Pass me
the weapon."

Gabriel handed her the revolver and the widow continued:

"Have you burnt our papers?"

"Yes."

"Then to work. And, as soon as he's done for, be off. The shots may
bring the neighbours. They must find both the flats empty."

She went up to the bed:

"Are you ready, Lupin?"

"Ready's not the word: I'm burning with impatience."

"Have you any request to make of me?"

"None."

"Then...."

"One word, though."

"What is it?"

"If I meet Dugrival in the next world, what message am I to give him
from you?"

She shrugged her shoulders and put the barrel of the revolver to Lupin's
temple.

"That's it," he said, "and be sure your hand doesn't shake, my dear
lady. It won't hurt you, I swear. Are you ready? At the word of command,
eh? One ... two ... three...."

The widow pulled the trigger. A shot rang out.

"Is this death?" said Lupin. "That's funny! I should have thought it was
something much more different from life!"

There was a second shot. Gabriel snatched the weapon from his aunt's
hands and examined it:

"Ah," he exclaimed, "the bullets have been removed!... There are only
the percussion-caps left!..."

His aunt and he stood motionless, for a moment, and confused:

"Impossible!" she blurted out. "Who could have done it?... An
inspector?... The examining-magistrate?..."

She stopped and, in a low voice:

"Hark.... I hear a noise...."

They listened and the widow went into the hall. She returned, furious,
exasperated by her failure and by the scare which she had received:

"There's nobody there.... It must have been the neighbours going out....
We have plenty of time.... Ah, Lupin, you were beginning to make
merry!... The knife, Gabriel."

"It's in my room."

"Go and fetch it."

Gabriel hurried away. The widow stamped with rage:

"I've sworn to do it!... You've got to suffer, my fine fellow!... I
swore to Dugrival that I would do it and I have repeated my oath every
morning and evening since.... I have taken it on my knees, yes, on my
knees, before Heaven that listens to me! It's my duty and my right to
revenge my dead husband!... By the way, Lupin, you don't look quite as
merry as you did!... Lord, one would almost think you were afraid!...
He's afraid! He's afraid! I can see it in his eyes!... Come along,
Gabriel, my boy!... Look at his eyes!... Look at his lips!... He's
trembling!... Give me the knife, so that I may dig it into his heart
while he's shivering.... Oh, you coward!... Quick, quick, Gabriel, the
knife!..."

"I can't find it anywhere," said the young man, running back in dismay.
"It has gone from my room! I can't make it out!"

"Never mind!" cried the Widow Dugrival, half demented. "All the better!
I will do the business myself."

She seized Lupin by the throat, clutched him with her ten fingers,
digging her nails into his flesh, and began to squeeze with all her
might. Lupin uttered a hoarse rattle and gave himself up for lost.

Suddenly, there was a crash at the window. One of the panes was smashed
to pieces.

"What's that? What is it?" stammered the widow, drawing herself erect,
in alarm.

Gabriel, who had turned even paler than usual, murmured:

"I don't know.... I can't think...."

"Who can have done it?" said the widow.

She dared not move, waiting for what would come next. And one thing
above all terrified her, the fact that there was no missile on the floor
around them, although the pane of glass, as was clearly visible, had
given way before the crash of a heavy and fairly large object, a stone,
probably.

After a while, she looked under the bed, under the chest of drawers:

"Nothing," she said.

"No," said her nephew, who was also looking. And, resuming her seat, she
said:

"I feel frightened ... my arms fail me ... you finish him off...."

Gabriel confessed:

"I'm frightened also."

"Still ... still," she stammered, "it's got to be done.... I swore
it...."

Making one last effort, she returned to Lupin and gasped his neck with
her stiff fingers. But Lupin, who was watching her pallid face, received
a very clear sensation that she would not have the courage to kill him.
To her he was becoming something sacred, invulnerable. A mysterious
power was protecting him against every attack, a power which had already
saved him three times by inexplicable means and which would find other
means to protect him against the wiles of death.

She said to him, in a hoarse voice:

"How you must be laughing at me!"

"Not at all, upon my word. I should feel frightened myself, in your
place."

"Nonsense, you scum of the earth! You imagine that you will be rescued
... that your friends are waiting outside? It's out of the question, my
fine fellow."

"I know. It's not they defending me ... nobody's defending me...."

"Well, then?..."

"Well, all the same, there's something strange at the bottom of it,
something fantastic and miraculous that makes your flesh creep, my fine
lady."

"You villain!... You'll be laughing on the other side of your mouth
before long."

"I doubt it."

"You wait and see."

She reflected once more and said to her nephew:

"What would you do?"

"Fasten his arm again and let's be off," he replied.

A hideous suggestion! It meant condemning Lupin to the most horrible of
all deaths, death by starvation.

"No," said the widow. "He might still find a means of escape. I know
something better than that."

She took down the receiver of the telephone, waited and asked:

"Number 822.48, please."

And, after a second or two:

"Hullo!... Is that the Criminal Investigation Department?... Is
Chief-inspector Ganimard there?... In twenty minutes, you say?... I'm
sorry!... However!... When he comes, give him this message from Mme.
Dugrival.... Yes, Mme. Nicolas Dugrival.... Ask him to come to my flat.
Tell him to open the looking-glass door of my wardrobe; and, when he has
done so, he will see that the wardrobe hides an outlet which makes my
bedroom communicate with two other rooms. In one of these, he will find
a man bound hand and foot. It is the thief, Dugrival's murderer.... You
don't believe me?... Tell M. Ganimard; he'll believe me right enough....
Oh, I was almost forgetting to give you the man's name: Arsène Lupin!"

And, without another word, she replaced the receiver.

"There, Lupin, that's done. After all, I would just as soon have my
revenge this way. How I shall hold my sides when I read the reports of
the Lupin trial!... Are you coming, Gabriel?"

"Yes, aunt."

"Good-bye, Lupin. You and I sha'n't see each other again, I expect, for
we are going abroad. But I promise to send you some sweets while you're
in prison."

"Chocolates, mother! We'll eat them together!"

"Good-bye."

"_Au revoir._"

The widow went out with her nephew, leaving Lupin fastened down to the
bed.

He at once moved his free arm and tried to release himself; but he
realized, at the first attempt, that he would never have the strength to
break the wire strands that bound him. Exhausted with fever and pain,
what could he do in the twenty minutes or so that were left to him
before Ganimard's arrival?

Nor did he count upon his friends. True, he had been thrice saved from
death; but this was evidently due to an astounding series of accidents
and not to any interference on the part of his allies. Otherwise they
would not have contented themselves with these extraordinary
manifestations, but would have rescued him for good and all.

No, he must abandon all hope. Ganimard was coming. Ganimard would find
him there. It was inevitable. There was no getting away from the fact.

And the prospect of what was coming irritated him singularly. He already
heard his old enemy's gibes ringing in his ears. He foresaw the roars of
laughter with which the incredible news would be greeted on the morrow.
To be arrested in action, so to speak, on the battlefield, by an
imposing detachment of adversaries, was one thing: but to be arrested,
or rather picked up, scraped up, gathered up, in such condition, was
really too silly. And Lupin, who had so often scoffed at others, felt
all the ridicule that was falling to his share in this ending of the
Dugrival business, all the bathos of allowing himself to be caught in
the widow's infernal trap and finally of being "served up" to the police
like a dish of game, roasted to a turn and nicely seasoned.

"Blow the widow!" he growled. "I had rather she had cut my throat and
done with it."

He pricked up his ears. Some one was moving in the next room. Ganimard!
No. Great as his eagerness would be, he could not be there yet. Besides,
Ganimard would not have acted like that, would not have opened the door
as gently as that other person was doing. What other person? Lupin
remembered the three miraculous interventions to which he owed his life.
Was it possible that there was really somebody who had protected him
against the widow, and that that somebody was now attempting to rescue
him? But, if so, who?

Unseen by Lupin, the stranger stooped behind the bed. Lupin heard the
sound of the pliers attacking the wire strands and releasing him little
by little. First his chest was freed, then his arms, then his legs.

And a voice said to him:

"You must get up and dress."

Feeling very weak, he half-raised himself in bed at the moment when the
stranger rose from her stooping posture.

"Who are you?" he whispered. "Who are you?"

And a great surprise over came him.

By his side stood a woman, a woman dressed in black, with a lace shawl
over her head, covering part of her face. And the woman, as far as he
could judge, was young and of a graceful and slender stature.

"Who are you?" he repeated.

"You must come now," said the woman. "There's no time to lose."

"Can I?" asked Lupin, making a desperate effort. "I doubt if I have the
strength."

"Drink this."

She poured some milk into a cup; and, as she handed it to him, her lace
opened, leaving the face uncovered.

"You!" he stammered. "It's you!... It's you who ... it was you who
were...."

He stared in amazement at this woman whose features presented so
striking a resemblance to Gabriel's, whose delicate, regular face had
the same pallor, whose mouth wore the same hard and forbidding
expression. No sister could have borne so great a likeness to her
brother. There was not a doubt possible: it was the identical person.
And, without believing for a moment that Gabriel had concealed himself
in a woman's clothes, Lupin, on the contrary, received the distinct
impression that it was a woman standing beside him and that the
stripling who had pursued him with his hatred and struck him with the
dagger was in very deed a woman. In order to follow their trade with
greater ease, the Dugrival pair had accustomed her to disguise herself
as a boy.

"You ... you ...!" he repeated. "Who would have suspected ...?"

She emptied the contents of a phial into the cup:

"Drink this cordial," she said.

He hesitated, thinking of poison.

She added:

"It was I who saved you."

"Of course, of course," he said. "It was you who removed the bullets
from the revolver?"

"Yes."

"And you who hid the knife?"

"Here it is, in my pocket."

"And you who smashed the window-pane while your aunt was throttling me?"

"Yes, it was I, with the paper-weight on the table: I threw it into the
street."

"But why? Why?" he asked, in utter amazement.

"Drink the cordial."

"Didn't you want me to die? But then why did you stab me to begin with?"

"Drink the cordial."

He emptied the cup at a draught, without quite knowing the reason of his
sudden confidence.

"Dress yourself ... quickly," she commanded, retiring to the window.

He obeyed and she came back to him, for he had dropped into a chair,
exhausted.

"We must go now, we must, we have only just time.... Collect your
strength."

She bent forward a little, so that he might lean on her shoulder, and
turned toward the door and the staircase.

And Lupin walked as one walks in a dream, one of those queer dreams in
which the most inconsequent things occur, a dream that was the happy
sequel of the terrible nightmare in which he had lived for the past
fortnight.

A thought struck him, however. He began to laugh:

"Poor Ganimard! Upon my word, the fellow has no luck, I would give
twopence to see him coming to arrest me."

After descending the staircase with the aid of his companion, who
supported him with incredible vigour, he found himself in the street,
opposite a motor-car into which she helped him to mount.

"Right away," she said to the driver.

Lupin, dazed by the open air and the speed at which they were
travelling, hardly took stock of the drive and of the incidents on the
road. He recovered all his consciousness when he found himself at home
in one of the flats which he occupied, looked after by his servant, to
whom the girl gave a few rapid instructions.

"You can go," he said to the man.

But, when the girl turned to go as well, he held her back by a fold of
her dress.

"No ... no ... you must first explain.... Why did you save me? Did you
return unknown to your aunt? But why did you save me? Was it from pity?"

She did not answer. With her figure drawn up and her head flung back a
little, she retained her hard and impenetrable air. Nevertheless, he
thought he noticed that the lines of her mouth showed not so much
cruelty as bitterness. Her eyes, her beautiful dark eyes, revealed
melancholy. And Lupin, without as yet understanding, received a vague
intuition of what was passing within her. He seized her hand. She pushed
him away, with a start of revolt in which he felt hatred, almost
repulsion. And, when he insisted, she cried:

"Let me be, will you?... Let me be!... Can't you see that I detest you?"

They looked at each other for a moment, Lupin disconcerted, she
quivering and full of uneasiness, her pale face all flushed with
unwonted colour.

He said to her, gently:

"If you detested me, you should have let me die.... It was simple
enough.... Why didn't you?"

"Why?... Why?... How do I know?..."

Her face contracted. With a sudden movement, she hid it in her two
hands; and he saw tears trickle between her fingers.

Greatly touched, he thought of addressing her in fond words, such as one
would use to a little girl whom one wished to console, and of giving her
good advice and saving her, in his turn, and snatching her from the bad
life which she was leading, perhaps against her better nature.

But such words would have sounded ridiculous, coming from his lips, and
he did not know what to say, now that he understood the whole story and
was able to picture the young woman sitting beside his sick-bed,
nursing the man whom she had wounded, admiring his pluck and gaiety,
becoming attached to him, falling in love with him and thrice over,
probably in spite of herself, under a sort of instinctive impulse, amid
fits of spite and rage, saving him from death.

And all this was so strange, so unforeseen; Lupin was so much unmanned
by his astonishment, that, this time, he did not try to retain her when
she made for the door, backward, without taking her eyes from him.

She lowered her head, smiled for an instant and disappeared.

He rang the bell, quickly:

"Follow that woman," he said to his man. "Or no, stay where you are....
After all, it is better so...."

He sat brooding for a while, possessed by the girl's image. Then he
revolved in his mind all that curious, stirring and tragic adventure, in
which he had been so very near succumbing; and, taking a hand-glass from
the table, he gazed for a long time and with a certain self-complacency
at his features, which illness and pain had not succeeded in impairing
to any great extent:

"Good looks count for something, after all!" he muttered.



V

THE RED SILK SCARF


On leaving his house one morning, at his usual early hour for going to
the Law Courts, Chief-inspector Ganimard noticed the curious behaviour
of an individual who was walking along the Rue Pergolèse in front of
him. Shabbily dressed and wearing a straw hat, though the day was the
first of December, the man stooped at every thirty or forty yards to
fasten his boot-lace, or pick up his stick, or for some other reason.
And, each time, he took a little piece of orange-peel from his pocket
and laid it stealthily on the curb of the pavement. It was probably a
mere display of eccentricity, a childish amusement to which no one else
would have paid attention; but Ganimard was one of those shrewd
observers who are indifferent to nothing that strikes their eyes and who
are never satisfied until they know the secret cause of things. He
therefore began to follow the man.

Now, at the moment when the fellow was turning to the right, into the
Avenue de la Grande-Armée, the inspector caught him exchanging signals
with a boy of twelve or thirteen, who was walking along the houses on
the left-hand side. Twenty yards farther, the man stooped and turned up
the bottom of his trousers legs. A bit of orange-peel marked the place.
At the same moment, the boy stopped and, with a piece of chalk, drew a
white cross, surrounded by a circle, on the wall of the house next to
him.

The two continued on their way. A minute later, a fresh halt. The
strange individual picked up a pin and dropped a piece of orange-peel;
and the boy at once made a second cross on the wall and again drew a
white circle round it.

"By Jove!" thought the chief-inspector, with a grunt of satisfaction.
"This is rather promising.... What on earth can those two merchants be
plotting?"

The two "merchants" went down the Avenue Friedland and the Rue du
Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, but nothing occurred that was worthy of special
mention. The double performance was repeated at almost regular intervals
and, so to speak, mechanically. Nevertheless, it was obvious, on the one
hand, that the man with the orange-peel did not do his part of the
business until after he had picked out with a glance the house that was
to be marked and, on the other hand, that the boy did not mark that
particular house until after he had observed his companion's signal. It
was certain, therefore, that there was an agreement between the two; and
the proceedings presented no small interest in the chief-inspector's
eyes.

At the Place Beauveau the man hesitated. Then, apparently making up his
mind, he twice turned up and twice turned down the bottom of his
trousers legs. Hereupon, the boy sat down on the curb, opposite the
sentry who was mounting guard outside the Ministry of the Interior, and
marked the flagstone with two little crosses contained within two
circles. The same ceremony was gone through a little further on, when
they reached the Elysée. Only, on the pavement where the President's
sentry was marching up and down, there were three signs instead of two.

"Hang it all!" muttered Ganimard, pale with excitement and thinking, in
spite of himself, of his inveterate enemy, Lupin, whose name came to his
mind whenever a mysterious circumstance presented itself. "Hang it all,
what does it mean?"

He was nearly collaring and questioning the two "merchants." But he was
too clever to commit so gross a blunder. The man with the orange-peel
had now lit a cigarette; and the boy, also placing a cigarette-end
between his lips, had gone up to him, apparently with the object of
asking for a light.

They exchanged a few words. Quick as thought, the boy handed his
companion an object which looked--at least, so the inspector
believed--like a revolver. They both bent over this object; and the man,
standing with his face to the wall, put his hand six times in his pocket
and made a movement as though he were loading a weapon.

As soon as this was done, they walked briskly to the Rue de Surène; and
the inspector, who followed them as closely as he was able to do without
attracting their attention, saw them enter the gateway of an old house
of which all the shutters were closed, with the exception of those on
the third or top floor.

He hurried in after them. At the end of the carriage-entrance he saw a
large courtyard, with a house-painter's sign at the back and a staircase
on the left.

He went up the stairs and, as soon as he reached the first floor, ran
still faster, because he heard, right up at the top, a din as of a
free-fight.

When he came to the last landing he found the door open. He entered,
listened for a second, caught the sound of a struggle, rushed to the
room from which the sound appeared to proceed and remained standing on
the threshold, very much out of breath and greatly surprised to see
the man of the orange-peel and the boy banging the floor with chairs.

At that moment a third person walked out of an adjoining room. It was a
young man of twenty-eight or thirty, wearing a pair of short whiskers in
addition to his moustache, spectacles, and a smoking-jacket with an
astrakhan collar and looking like a foreigner, a Russian.

"Good morning, Ganimard," he said. And turning to the two companions,
"Thank you, my friends, and all my congratulations on the successful
result. Here's the reward I promised you."

He gave them a hundred-franc note, pushed them outside and shut both
doors.

"I am sorry, old chap," he said to Ganimard. "I wanted to talk to you
... wanted to talk to you badly."

He offered him his hand and, seeing that the inspector remained
flabbergasted and that his face was still distorted with anger, he
exclaimed:

"Why, you don't seem to understand!... And yet it's clear enough.... I
wanted to see you particularly.... So what could I do?" And, pretending
to reply to an objection, "No, no, old chap," he continued. "You're
quite wrong. If I had written or telephoned, you would not have come
... or else you would have come with a regiment. Now I wanted to see you
all alone; and I thought the best thing was to send those two decent
fellows to meet you, with orders to scatter bits of orange-peel and draw
crosses and circles, in short, to mark out your road to this place....
Why, you look quite bewildered! What is it? Perhaps you don't recognize
me? Lupin.... Arsène Lupin.... Ransack your memory.... Doesn't the name
remind you of anything?"

"You dirty scoundrel!" Ganimard snarled between his teeth.

Lupin seemed greatly distressed and, in an affectionate voice:

"Are you vexed? Yes, I can see it in your eyes.... The Dugrival
business, I suppose? I ought to have waited for you to come and take me
in charge?... There now, the thought never occurred to me! I promise
you, next time...."

"You scum of the earth!" growled Ganimard.

"And I thinking I was giving you a treat! Upon my word, I did. I said to
myself, 'That dear old Ganimard! We haven't met for an age. He'll simply
rush at me when he sees me!'"

Ganimard, who had not yet stirred a limb, seemed to be waking from his
stupor. He looked around him, looked at Lupin, visibly asked himself
whether he would not do well to rush at him in reality and then,
controlling himself, took hold of a chair and settled himself in it, as
though he had suddenly made up his mind to listen to his enemy:

"Speak," he said. "And don't waste my time with any nonsense. I'm in a
hurry."

"That's it," said Lupin, "let's talk. You can't imagine a quieter place
than this. It's an old manor-house, which once stood in the open
country, and it belongs to the Duc de Rochelaure. The duke, who has
never lived in it, lets this floor to me and the outhouses to a painter
and decorator. I always keep up a few establishments of this kind: it's
a sound, practical plan. Here, in spite of my looking like a Russian
nobleman, I am M. Daubreuil, an ex-cabinet-minister.... You understand,
I had to select a rather overstocked profession, so as not to attract
attention...."

"Do you think I care a hang about all this?" said Ganimard, interrupting
him.

"Quite right, I'm wasting words and you're in a hurry. Forgive me. I
sha'n't be long now.... Five minutes, that's all.... I'll start at
once.... Have a cigar? No? Very well, no more will I."

He sat down also, drummed his fingers on the table, while thinking, and
began in this fashion:

"On the 17th of October, 1599, on a warm and sunny autumn day ... Do
you follow me?... But, now that I come to think of it, is it really
necessary to go back to the reign of Henry IV, and tell you all about
the building of the Pont-Neuf? No, I don't suppose you are very well up
in French history; and I should only end by muddling you. Suffice it,
then, for you to know that, last night, at one o'clock in the morning, a
boatman passing under the last arch of the Pont-Neuf aforesaid, along
the left bank of the river, heard something drop into the front part of
his barge. The thing had been flung from the bridge and its evident
destination was the bottom of the Seine. The bargee's dog rushed
forward, barking, and, when the man reached the end of his craft, he saw
the animal worrying a piece of newspaper that had served to wrap up a
number of objects. He took from the dog such of the contents as had not
fallen into the water, went to his cabin and examined them carefully.
The result struck him as interesting; and, as the man is connected with
one of my friends, he sent to let me know. This morning I was waked up
and placed in possession of the facts and of the objects which the man
had collected. Here they are."

He pointed to them, spread out on a table. There were, first of all, the
torn pieces of a newspaper. Next came a large cut-glass inkstand, with a
long piece of string fastened to the lid. There was a bit of broken
glass and a sort of flexible cardboard, reduced to shreds. Lastly, there
was a piece of bright scarlet silk, ending in a tassel of the same
material and colour.

"You see our exhibits, friend of my youth," said Lupin. "No doubt, the
problem would be more easily solved if we had the other objects which
went overboard owing to the stupidity of the dog. But it seems to me,
all the same, that we ought to be able to manage, with a little
reflection and intelligence. And those are just your great qualities.
How does the business strike you?"

Ganimard did not move a muscle. He was willing to stand Lupin's chaff,
but his dignity commanded him not to speak a single word in answer nor
even to give a nod or shake of the head that might have been taken to
express approval or or criticism.

"I see that we are entirely of one mind," continued Lupin, without
appearing to remark the chief-inspector's silence. "And I can sum up the
matter briefly, as told us by these exhibits. Yesterday evening, between
nine and twelve o'clock, a showily dressed young woman was wounded with
a knife and then caught round the throat and choked to death by a
well-dressed gentleman, wearing a single eyeglass and interested in
racing, with whom the aforesaid showily dressed young lady had been
eating three meringues and a coffee éclair."

Lupin lit a cigarette and, taking Ganimard by the sleeve:

"Aha, that's up against you, chief-inspector! You thought that, in the
domain of police deductions, such feats as those were prohibited to
outsiders! Wrong, sir! Lupin juggles with inferences and deductions for
all the world like a detective in a novel. My proofs are dazzling and
absolutely simple."

And, pointing to the objects one by one, as he demonstrated his
statement, he resumed:

"I said, after nine o'clock yesterday evening. This scrap of newspaper
bears yesterday's date, with the words, 'Evening edition.' Also, you
will see here, pasted to the paper, a bit of one of those yellow
wrappers in which the subscribers' copies are sent out. These copies are
always delivered by the nine o'clock post. Therefore, it was after nine
o'clock. I said, a well-dressed man. Please observe that this tiny piece
of glass has the round hole of a single eyeglass at one of the edges and
that the single eyeglass is an essentially aristocratic article of wear.
This well-dressed man walked into a pastry-cook's shop. Here is the very
thin cardboard, shaped like a box, and still showing a little of the
cream of the meringues and éclairs which were packed in it in the usual
way. Having got his parcel, the gentleman with the eyeglass joined a
young person whose eccentricity in the matter of dress is pretty clearly
indicated by this bright-red silk scarf. Having joined her, for some
reason as yet unknown he first stabbed her with a knife and then
strangled her with the help of this same scarf. Take your magnifying
glass, chief-inspector, and you will see, on the silk, stains of a
darker red which are, here, the marks of a knife wiped on the scarf and,
there, the marks of a hand, covered with blood, clutching the material.
Having committed the murder, his next business is to leave no trace
behind him. So he takes from his pocket, first, the newspaper to which
he subscribes--a racing-paper, as you will see by glancing at the
contents of this scrap; and you will have no difficulty in discovering
the title--and, secondly, a cord, which, on inspection, turns out to be
a length of whip-cord. These two details prove--do they not?--that our
man is interested in racing and that he himself rides. Next, he picks up
the fragments of his eyeglass, the cord of which has been broken in the
struggle. He takes a pair of scissors--observe the hacking of the
scissors--and cuts off the stained part of the scarf, leaving the other
end, no doubt, in his victim's clenched hands. He makes a ball of the
confectioner's cardboard box. He also puts in certain things that would
have betrayed him, such as the knife, which must have slipped into the
Seine. He wraps everything in the newspaper, ties it with the cord and
fastens this cut-glass inkstand to it, as a make-weight. Then he makes
himself scarce. A little later, the parcel falls into the waterman's
barge. And there you are. Oof, it's hot work!... What do you say to the
story?"

He looked at Ganimard to see what impression his speech had produced on
the inspector. Ganimard did not depart from his attitude of silence.

Lupin began to laugh:

"As a matter of fact, you're annoyed and surprised. But you're
suspicious as well: 'Why should that confounded Lupin hand the business
over to me,' say you, 'instead of keeping it for himself, hunting down
the murderer and rifling his pockets, if there was a robbery?' The
question is quite logical, of course. But--there is a 'but'--I have no
time, you see. I am full up with work at the present moment: a burglary
in London, another at Lausanne, an exchange of children at Marseilles,
to say nothing of having to save a young girl who is at this moment
shadowed by death. That's always the way: it never rains but it pours.
So I said to myself, 'Suppose I handed the business over to my dear old
Ganimard? Now that it is half-solved for him, he is quite capable of
succeeding. And what a service I shall be doing him! How magnificently
he will be able to distinguish himself!' No sooner said than done. At
eight o'clock in the morning, I sent the joker with the orange-peel to
meet you. You swallowed the bait; and you were here by nine, all on edge
and eager for the fray."

Lupin rose from his chair. He went over to the inspector and, with his
eyes in Ganimard's, said:

"That's all. You now know the whole story. Presently, you will know the
victim: some ballet-dancer, probably, some singer at a music-hall. On
the other hand, the chances are that the criminal lives near the
Pont-Neuf, most likely on the left bank. Lastly, here are all the
exhibits. I make you a present of them. Set to work. I shall only keep
this end of the scarf. If ever you want to piece the scarf together,
bring me the other end, the one which the police will find round the
victim's neck. Bring it me in four weeks from now to the day, that is to
say, on the 29th of December, at ten o'clock in the morning. You can be
sure of finding me here. And don't be afraid: this is all perfectly
serious, friend of my youth; I swear it is. No humbug, honour bright.
You can go straight ahead. Oh, by the way, when you arrest the fellow
with the eyeglass, be a bit careful: he is left-handed! Good-bye, old
dear, and good luck to you!"

Lupin spun round on his heel, went to the door, opened it and
disappeared before Ganimard had even thought of taking a decision. The
inspector rushed after him, but at once found that the handle of the
door, by some trick of mechanism which he did not know, refused to turn.
It took him ten minutes to unscrew the lock and ten minutes more to
unscrew the lock of the hall-door. By the time that he had scrambled
down the three flights of stairs, Ganimard had given up all hope of
catching Arsène Lupin.

Besides, he was not thinking of it. Lupin inspired him with a queer,
complex feeling, made up of fear, hatred, involuntary admiration and
also the vague instinct that he, Ganimard, in spite of all his efforts,
in spite of the persistency of his endeavours, would never get the
better of this particular adversary. He pursued him from a sense of duty
and pride, but with the continual dread of being taken in by that
formidable hoaxer and scouted and fooled in the face of a public that
was always only too willing to laugh at the chief-inspector's mishaps.

This business of the red scarf, in particular, struck him as most
suspicious. It was interesting, certainly, in more ways than one, but
so very improbable! And Lupin's explanation, apparently so logical,
would never stand the test of a severe examination!

"No," said Ganimard, "this is all swank: a parcel of suppositions and
guesswork based upon nothing at all. I'm not to be caught with chaff."

       *       *       *       *       *

When he reached the headquarters of police, at 36 Quai des Orfèvres, he
had quite made up his mind to treat the incident as though it had never
happened.

He went up to the Criminal Investigation Department. Here, one of his
fellow-inspectors said:

"Seen the chief?"

"No."

"He was asking for you just now."

"Oh, was he?"

"Yes, you had better go after him."

"Where?"

"To the Rue de Berne ... there was a murder there last night."

"Oh! Who's the victim?"

"I don't know exactly ... a music-hall singer, I believe."

Ganimard simply muttered:

"By Jove!"

Twenty minutes later he stepped out of the underground railway-station
and made for the Rue de Berne.

The victim, who was known in the theatrical world by her stage-name of
Jenny Saphir, occupied a small flat on the second floor of one of the
houses. A policeman took the chief-inspector upstairs and showed him the
way, through two sitting-rooms, to a bedroom, where he found the
magistrates in charge of the inquiry, together with the divisional
surgeon and M. Dudouis, the head of the detective-service.

Ganimard started at the first glance which he gave into the room. He
saw, lying on a sofa, the corpse of a young woman whose hands clutched a
strip of red silk! One of the shoulders, which appeared above the
low-cut bodice, bore the marks of two wounds surrounded with clotted
blood. The distorted and almost blackened features still bore an
expression of frenzied terror.

The divisional surgeon, who had just finished his examination, said:

"My first conclusions are very clear. The victim was twice stabbed with
a dagger and afterward strangled. The immediate cause of death was
asphyxia."

"By Jove!" thought Ganimard again, remembering Lupin's words and the
picture which he had drawn of the crime.

The examining-magistrate objected:

"But the neck shows no discoloration."

"She may have been strangled with a napkin or a handkerchief," said the
doctor.

"Most probably," said the chief detective, "with this silk scarf, which
the victim was wearing and a piece of which remains, as though she had
clung to it with her two hands to protect herself."

"But why does only that piece remain?" asked the magistrate. "What has
become of the other?"

"The other may have been stained with blood and carried off by the
murderer. You can plainly distinguish the hurried slashing of the
scissors."

"By Jove!" said Ganimard, between his teeth, for the third time. "That
brute of a Lupin saw everything without seeing a thing!"

"And what about the motive of the murder?" asked the magistrate. "The
locks have been forced, the cupboards turned upside down. Have you
anything to tell me, M. Dudouis?"

The chief of the detective-service replied:

"I can at least suggest a supposition, derived from the statements made
by the servant. The victim, who enjoyed a greater reputation on account
of her looks than through her talent as a singer, went to Russia, two
years ago, and brought back with her a magnificent sapphire, which she
appears to have received from some person of importance at the court.
Since then, she went by the name of Jenny Saphir and seems generally to
have been very proud of that present, although, for prudence sake, she
never wore it. I daresay that we shall not be far out if we presume the
theft of the sapphire to have been the cause of the crime."

"But did the maid know where the stone was?"

"No, nobody did. And the disorder of the room would tend to prove that
the murderer did not know either."

"We will question the maid," said the examining-magistrate.

M. Dudouis took the chief-inspector aside and said:

"You're looking very old-fashioned, Ganimard. What's the matter? Do you
suspect anything?"

"Nothing at all, chief."

"That's a pity. We could do with a bit of showy work in the department.
This is one of a number of crimes, all of the same class, of which we
have failed to discover the perpetrator. This time we want the criminal
... and quickly!"

"A difficult job, chief."

"It's got to be done. Listen to me, Ganimard. According to what the maid
says, Jenny Saphir led a very regular life. For a month past she was in
the habit of frequently receiving visits, on her return from the
music-hall, that is to say, at about half-past ten, from a man who would
stay until midnight or so. 'He's a society man,' Jenny Saphir used to
say, 'and he wants to marry me.' This society man took every precaution
to avoid being seen, such as turning up his coat-collar and lowering the
brim of his hat when he passed the porter's box. And Jenny Saphir always
made a point of sending away her maid, even before he came. This is the
man whom we have to find."

"Has he left no traces?"

"None at all. It is obvious that we have to deal with a very clever
scoundrel, who prepared his crime beforehand and committed it with every
possible chance of escaping unpunished. His arrest would be a great
feather in our cap. I rely on you, Ganimard."

"Ah, you rely on me, chief?" replied the inspector. "Well, we shall see
... we shall see.... I don't say no.... Only...."

He seemed in a very nervous condition, and his agitation struck M.
Dudouis.

"Only," continued Ganimard, "only I swear ... do you hear, chief? I
swear...."

"What do you swear?"

"Nothing.... We shall see, chief ... we shall see...."

Ganimard did not finish his sentence until he was outside, alone. And
he finished it aloud, stamping his foot, in a tone of the most violent
anger:

"Only, I swear to Heaven that the arrest shall be effected by my own
means, without my employing a single one of the clues with which that
villain has supplied me. Ah, no! Ah, no!..."

Railing against Lupin, furious at being mixed up in this business and
resolved, nevertheless, to get to the bottom of it, he wandered
aimlessly about the streets. His brain was seething with irritation; and
he tried to adjust his ideas a little and to discover, among the chaotic
facts, some trifling detail, unperceived by all, unsuspected by Lupin
himself, that might lead him to success.

He lunched hurriedly at a bar, resumed his stroll and suddenly stopped,
petrified, astounded and confused. He was walking under the gateway of
the very house in the Rue de Surène to which Lupin had enticed him a few
hours earlier! A force stronger than his own will was drawing him there
once more. The solution of the problem lay there. There and there alone
were all the elements of the truth. Do and say what he would, Lupin's
assertions were so precise, his calculations so accurate, that, worried
to the innermost recesses of his being by so prodigious a display of
perspicacity, he could not do other than take up the work at the point
where his enemy had left it.

Abandoning all further resistance, he climbed the three flights of
stairs. The door of the flat was open. No one had touched the exhibits.
He put them in his pocket and walked away.

From that moment, he reasoned and acted, so to speak, mechanically,
under the influence of the master whom he could not choose but obey.

Admitting that the unknown person whom he was seeking lived in the
neighbourhood of the Pont-Neuf, it became necessary to discover,
somewhere between that bridge and the Rue de Berne, the first-class
confectioner's shop, open in the evenings, at which the cakes were
bought. This did not take long to find. A pastry-cook near the Gare
Saint-Lazare showed him some little cardboard boxes, identical in
material and shape with the one in Ganimard's possession. Moreover, one
of the shop-girls remembered having served, on the previous evening, a
gentleman whose face was almost concealed in the collar of his fur coat,
but whose eyeglass she had happened to notice.

"That's one clue checked," thought the inspector. "Our man wears an
eyeglass."

He next collected the pieces of the racing-paper and showed them to a
newsvendor, who easily recognized the _Turf Illustré_. Ganimard at once
went to the offices of the _Turf_ and asked to see the list of
subscribers. Going through the list, he jotted down the names and
addresses of all those who lived anywhere near the Pont-Neuf and
principally--because Lupin had said so--those on the left bank of the
river.

He then went back to the Criminal Investigation Department, took half a
dozen men and packed them off with the necessary instructions.

At seven o'clock in the evening, the last of these men returned and
brought good news with him. A certain M. Prévailles, a subscriber to the
_Turf_, occupied an entresol flat on the Quai des Augustins. On the
previous evening, he left his place, wearing a fur coat, took his
letters and his paper, the _Turf Illustré_, from the porter's wife,
walked away and returned home at midnight. This M. Prévailles wore a
single eyeglass. He was a regular race-goer and himself owned several
hacks which he either rode himself or jobbed out.

The inquiry had taken so short a time and the results obtained were so
exactly in accordance with Lupin's predictions that Ganimard felt quite
overcome on hearing the detective's report. Once more he was measuring
the prodigious extent of the resources at Lupin's disposal. Never in the
course of his life--and Ganimard was already well-advanced in years--had
he come across such perspicacity, such a quick and far-seeing mind.

He went in search of M. Dudouis.

"Everything's ready, chief. Have you a warrant?"

"Eh?"

"I said, everything is ready for the arrest, chief."

"You know the name of Jenny Saphir's murderer?"

"Yes."

"But how? Explain yourself."

Ganimard had a sort of scruple of conscience, blushed a little and
nevertheless replied:

"An accident, chief. The murderer threw everything that was likely to
compromise him into the Seine. Part of the parcel was picked up and
handed to me."

"By whom?"

"A boatman who refused to give his name, for fear of getting into
trouble. But I had all the clues I wanted. It was not so difficult as I
expected."

And the inspector described how he had gone to work.

"And you call that an accident!" cried M. Dudouis. "And you say that it
was not difficult! Why, it's one of your finest performances! Finish it
yourself, Ganimard, and be prudent."

Ganimard was eager to get the business done. He went to the Quai des
Augustins with his men and distributed them around the house. He
questioned the portress, who said that her tenant took his meals out of
doors, but made a point of looking in after dinner.

A little before nine o'clock, in fact, leaning out of her window, she
warned Ganimard, who at once gave a low whistle. A gentleman in a tall
hat and a fur coat was coming along the pavement beside the Seine. He
crossed the road and walked up to the house.

Ganimard stepped forward:

"M. Prévailles, I believe?"

"Yes, but who are you?"

"I have a commission to...."

He had not time to finish his sentence. At the sight of the men
appearing out of the shadow, Prévailles quickly retreated to the wall
and faced his adversaries, with his back to the door of a shop on the
ground-floor, the shutters of which were closed.

"Stand back!" he cried. "I don't know you!"

His right hand brandished a heavy stick, while his left was slipped
behind him and seemed to be trying to open the door.

Ganimard had an impression that the man might escape through this way
and through some secret outlet:

"None of this nonsense," he said, moving closer to him. "You're
caught.... You had better come quietly."

But, just as he was laying hold of Prévailles' stick, Ganimard
remembered the warning which Lupin gave him: Prévailles was left-handed;
and it was his revolver for which he was feeling behind his back.

The inspector ducked his head. He had noticed the man's sudden movement.
Two reports rang out. No one was hit.

A second later, Prévailles received a blow under the chin from the
butt-end of a revolver, which brought him down where he stood. He was
entered at the Dépôt soon after nine o'clock.

       *       *       *       *       *

Ganimard enjoyed a great reputation even at that time. But this capture,
so quickly effected, by such very simple means, and at once made public
by the police, won him a sudden celebrity. Prévailles was forthwith
saddled with all the murders that had remained unpunished; and the
newspapers vied with one another in extolling Ganimard's prowess.

The case was conducted briskly at the start. It was first of all
ascertained that Prévailles, whose real name was Thomas Derocq, had
already been in trouble. Moreover, the search instituted in his rooms,
while not supplying any fresh proofs, at least led to the discovery of a
ball of whip-cord similar to the cord used for doing up the parcel and
also to the discovery of daggers which would have produced a wound
similar to the wounds on the victim.

But, on the eighth day, everything was changed. Until then Prévailles
had refused to reply to the questions put to him; but now, assisted by
his counsel, he pleaded a circumstantial alibi and maintained that he
was at the Folies-Bergère on the night of the murder.

As a matter of fact, the pockets of his dinner-jacket contained the
counterfoil of a stall-ticket and a programme of the performance, both
bearing the date of that evening.

"An alibi prepared in advance," objected the examining-magistrate.

"Prove it," said Prévailles.

The prisoner was confronted with the witnesses for the prosecution. The
young lady from the confectioner's "thought she knew" the gentleman with
the eyeglass. The hall-porter in the Rue de Berne "thought he knew" the
gentleman who used to come to see Jenny Saphir. But nobody dared to make
a more definite statement.

The examination, therefore, led to nothing of a precise character,
provided no solid basis whereon to found a serious accusation.

The judge sent for Ganimard and told him of his difficulty.

"I can't possibly persist, at this rate. There is no evidence to support
the charge."

"But surely you are convinced in your own mind, monsieur le juge
d'instruction! Prévailles would never have resisted his arrest unless he
was guilty."

"He says that he thought he was being assaulted. He also says that he
never set eyes on Jenny Saphir; and, as a matter of fact, we can find no
one to contradict his assertion. Then again, admitting that the sapphire
has been stolen, we have not been able to find it at his flat."

"Nor anywhere else," suggested Ganimard.

"Quite true, but that is no evidence against him. I'll tell you what we
shall want, M. Ganimard, and that very soon: the other end of this red
scarf."

"The other end?"

"Yes, for it is obvious that, if the murderer took it away with him, the
reason was that the stuff is stained with the marks of the blood on his
fingers."

Ganimard made no reply. For several days he had felt that the
whole business was tending to this conclusion. There was no
other proof possible. Given the silk scarf--and in no other
circumstances--Prévailles' guilt was certain. Now Ganimard's position
required that Prévailles' guilt should be established. He was
responsible for the arrest, it had cast a glamour around him, he had
been praised to the skies as the most formidable adversary of criminals;
and he would look absolutely ridiculous if Prévailles were released.

Unfortunately, the one and only indispensable proof was in Lupin's
pocket. How was he to get hold of it?

Ganimard cast about, exhausted himself with fresh investigations, went
over the inquiry from start to finish, spent sleepless nights in turning
over the mystery of the Rue de Berne, studied the records of Prévailles'
life, sent ten men hunting after the invisible sapphire. Everything was
useless.

On the 28th of December, the examining-magistrate stopped him in one of
the passages of the Law Courts:

"Well, M. Ganimard, any news?"

"No, monsieur le juge d'instruction."

"Then I shall dismiss the case."

"Wait one day longer."

"What's the use? We want the other end of the scarf; have you got it?"

"I shall have it to-morrow."

"To-morrow!"

"Yes, but please lend me the piece in your possession."

"What if I do?"

"If you do, I promise to let you have the whole scarf complete."

"Very well, that's understood."

Ganimard followed the examining-magistrate to his room and came out with
the piece of silk:

"Hang it all!" he growled. "Yes, I will go and fetch the proof and I
shall have it too ... always presuming that Master Lupin has the courage
to keep the appointment."

In point of fact, he did not doubt for a moment that Master Lupin would
have this courage, and that was just what exasperated him. Why had Lupin
insisted on this meeting? What was his object, in the circumstances?

Anxious, furious and full of hatred, he resolved to take every
precaution necessary not only to prevent his falling into a trap
himself, but to make his enemy fall into one, now that the opportunity
offered. And, on the next day, which was the 29th of December, the date
fixed by Lupin, after spending the night in studying the old manor-house
in the Rue de Surène and convincing himself that there was no other
outlet than the front door, he warned his men that he was going on a
dangerous expedition and arrived with them on the field of battle.

He posted them in a café and gave them formal instructions: if he showed
himself at one of the third-floor windows, or if he failed to return
within an hour, the detectives were to enter the house and arrest any
one who tried to leave it.

The chief-inspector made sure that his revolver was in working order and
that he could take it from his pocket easily. Then he went upstairs.

He was surprised to find things as he had left them, the doors open and
the locks broken. After ascertaining that the windows of the principal
room looked out on the street, he visited the three other rooms that
made up the flat. There was no one there.

"Master Lupin was afraid," he muttered, not without a certain
satisfaction.

"Don't be silly," said a voice behind him.

Turning round, he saw an old workman, wearing a house-painter's long
smock, standing in the doorway.

"You needn't bother your head," said the man. "It's I, Lupin. I have
been working in the painter's shop since early morning. This is when we
knock off for breakfast. So I came upstairs."

He looked at Ganimard with a quizzing smile and cried:

"'Pon my word, this is a gorgeous moment I owe you, old chap! I wouldn't
sell it for ten years of your life; and yet you know how I love you!
What do you think of it, artist? Wasn't it well thought out and well
foreseen? Foreseen from alpha to omega? Did I understand the business?
Did I penetrate the mystery of the scarf? I'm not saying that there were
no holes in my argument, no links missing in the chain.... But what a
masterpiece of intelligence! Ganimard, what a reconstruction of events!
What an intuition of everything that had taken place and of everything
that was going to take place, from the discovery of the crime to your
arrival here in search of a proof! What really marvellous divination!
Have you the scarf?"

"Yes, half of it. Have you the other?"

"Here it is. Let's compare."

They spread the two pieces of silk on the table. The cuts made by the
scissors corresponded exactly. Moreover, the colours were identical.

"But I presume," said Lupin, "that this was not the only thing you came
for. What you are interested in seeing is the marks of the blood. Come
with me, Ganimard: it's rather dark in here."

They moved into the next room, which, though it overlooked the
courtyard, was lighter; and Lupin held his piece of silk against the
window-pane:

"Look," he said, making room for Ganimard.

The inspector gave a start of delight. The marks of the five fingers and
the print of the palm were distinctly visible. The evidence was
undeniable. The murderer had seized the stuff in his bloodstained hand,
in the same hand that had stabbed Jenny Saphir, and tied the scarf round
her neck.

"And it is the print of a left hand," observed Lupin. "Hence my warning,
which had nothing miraculous about it, you see. For, though I admit,
friend of my youth, that you may look upon me as a superior
intelligence, I won't have you treat me as a wizard."

Ganimard had quickly pocketed the piece of silk. Lupin nodded his head
in approval:

"Quite right, old boy, it's for you. I'm so glad you're glad! And, you
see, there was no trap about all this ... only the wish to oblige ... a
service between friends, between pals.... And also, I confess, a little
curiosity.... Yes, I wanted to examine this other piece of silk, the one
the police had.... Don't be afraid: I'll give it back to you.... Just a
second...."

Lupin, with a careless movement, played with the tassel at the end of
this half of the scarf, while Ganimard listened to him in spite of
himself:

"How ingenious these little bits of women's work are! Did you notice one
detail in the maid's evidence? Jenny Saphir was very handy with her
needle and used to make all her own hats and frocks. It is obvious that
she made this scarf herself.... Besides, I noticed that from the first.
I am naturally curious, as I have already told you, and I made a
thorough examination of the piece of silk which you have just put in
your pocket. Inside the tassel, I found a little sacred medal, which the
poor girl had stitched into it to bring her luck. Touching, isn't it,
Ganimard? A little medal of Our Lady of Good Succour."

The inspector felt greatly puzzled and did not take his eyes off the
other. And Lupin continued:

"Then I said to myself, 'How interesting it would be to explore the
other half of the scarf, the one which the police will find round the
victim's neck!' For this other half, which I hold in my hands at last,
is finished off in the same way ... so I shall be able to see if it has
a hiding-place too and what's inside it.... But look, my friend, isn't
it cleverly made? And so simple! All you have to do is to take a skein
of red cord and braid it round a wooden cup, leaving a little recess, a
little empty space in the middle, very small, of course, but large
enough to hold a medal of a saint ... or anything.... A precious stone,
for instance.... Such as a sapphire...."

At that moment he finished pushing back the silk cord and, from the
hollow of a cup he took between his thumb and forefinger a wonderful
blue stone, perfect in respect of size and purity.

"Ha! What did I tell you, friend of my youth?"

He raised his head. The inspector had turned livid and was staring
wild-eyed, as though fascinated by the stone that sparkled before him.
He at last realized the whole plot:

"You dirty scoundrel!" he muttered, repeating the insults which he had
used at the first interview. "You scum of the earth!"

The two men were standing one against the other.

"Give me back that," said the inspector.

Lupin held out the piece of silk.

"And the sapphire," said Ganimard, in a peremptory tone.

"Don't be silly."

"Give it back, or...."

"Or what, you idiot!" cried Lupin. "Look here, do you think I put you on
to this soft thing for nothing?"

"Give it back!"

"You haven't noticed what I've been about, that's plain! What! For four
weeks I've kept you on the move like a deer; and you want to ...! Come,
Ganimard, old chap, pull yourself together!... Don't you see that you've
been playing the good dog for four weeks on end?... Fetch it, Rover!...
There's a nice blue pebble over there, which master can't get at. Hunt
it, Ganimard, fetch it ... bring it to master.... Ah, he's his master's
own good little dog!... Sit up! Beg!... Does'ms want a bit of sugar,
then?..."

Ganimard, containing the anger that seethed within him, thought only of
one thing, summoning his detectives. And, as the room in which he now
was looked out on the courtyard, he tried gradually to work his way
round to the communicating door. He would then run to the window and
break one of the panes.

"All the same," continued Lupin, "what a pack of dunderheads you and the
rest must be! You've had the silk all this time and not one of you ever
thought of feeling it, not one of you ever asked himself the reason why
the poor girl hung on to her scarf. Not one of you! You just acted at
haphazard, without reflecting, without foreseeing anything...."

The inspector had attained his object. Taking advantage of a second when
Lupin had turned away from him, he suddenly wheeled round and grasped
the door-handle. But an oath escaped him: the handle did not budge.

Lupin burst into a fit of laughing:

"Not even that! You did not even foresee that! You lay a trap for me and
you won't admit that I may perhaps smell the thing out beforehand....
And you allow yourself to be brought into this room without asking
whether I am not bringing you here for a particular reason and without
remembering that the locks are fitted with a special mechanism. Come
now, speaking frankly, what do you think of it yourself?"

"What do I think of it?" roared Ganimard, beside himself with rage.

He had drawn his revolver and was pointing it straight at Lupin's face.

"Hands up!" he cried. "That's what I think of it!"

Lupin placed himself in front of him and shrugged his shoulders:

"Sold again!" he said.

"Hands up, I say, once more!"

"And sold again, say I. Your deadly weapon won't go off."

"What?"

"Old Catherine, your housekeeper, is in my service. She damped the
charges this morning while you were having your breakfast coffee."

Ganimard made a furious gesture, pocketed the revolver and rushed at
Lupin.

"Well?" said Lupin, stopping him short with a well-aimed kick on the
shin.

Their clothes were almost touching. They exchanged defiant glances, the
glances of two adversaries who mean to come to blows. Nevertheless,
there was no fight. The recollection of the earlier struggles made any
present struggle useless. And Ganimard, who remembered all his past
failures, his vain attacks, Lupin's crushing reprisals, did not lift a
limb. There was nothing to be done. He felt it. Lupin had forces at his
command against which any individual force simply broke to pieces. So
what was the good?

"I agree," said Lupin, in a friendly voice, as though answering
Ganimard's unspoken thought, "you would do better to let things be as
they are. Besides, friend of my youth, think of all that this incident
has brought you: fame, the certainty of quick promotion and, thanks to
that, the prospect of a happy and comfortable old age! Surely, you don't
want the discovery of the sapphire and the head of poor Arsène Lupin in
addition! It wouldn't be fair. To say nothing of the fact that poor
Arsène Lupin saved your life.... Yes, sir! Who warned you, at this very
spot, that Prévailles was left-handed?... And is this the way you thank
me? It's not pretty of you, Ganimard. Upon my word, you make me blush
for you!"

While chattering, Lupin had gone through the same performance as
Ganimard and was now near the door. Ganimard saw that his foe was about
to escape him. Forgetting all prudence, he tried to block his way and
received a tremendous butt in the stomach, which sent him rolling to
the opposite wall.

Lupin dexterously touched a spring, turned the handle, opened the door
and slipped away, roaring with laughter as he went.

       *       *       *       *       *

Twenty minutes later, when Ganimard at last succeeded in joining his
men, one of them said to him:

"A house-painter left the house, as his mates were coming back from
breakfast, and put a letter in my hand. 'Give that to your governor,' he
said. 'Which governor?' I asked; but he was gone. I suppose it's meant
for you."

"Let's have it."

Ganimard opened the letter. It was hurriedly scribbled in pencil and
contained these words:


    "This is to warn you, friend of my youth, against excessive
    credulity. When a fellow tells you that the cartridges in your
    revolver are damp, however great your confidence in that fellow may
    be, even though his name be Arsène Lupin, never allow yourself to
    be taken in. Fire first; and, if the fellow hops the twig, you will
    have acquired the proof (1) that the cartridges are not damp; and
    (2) that old Catherine is the most honest and respectable of
    housekeepers.

    "One of these days, I hope to have the pleasure of making her
    acquaintance.

    "Meanwhile, friend of my youth, believe me always affectionately
    and sincerely yours,

                                                   "ARSÈNE LUPIN."



VI

SHADOWED BY DEATH


After he had been round the walls of the property, Arsène Lupin returned
to the spot from which he started. It was perfectly clear to him that
there was no breach in the walls; and the only way of entering the
extensive grounds of the Château de Maupertuis was through a little low
door, firmly bolted on the inside, or through the principal gate, which
was overlooked by the lodge.

"Very well," he said. "We must employ heroic methods."

Pushing his way into the copsewood where he had hidden his
motor-bicycle, he unwound a length of twine from under the saddle and
went to a place which he had noticed in the course of his exploration.
At this place, which was situated far from the road, on the edge of a
wood, a number of large trees, standing inside the park, overlapped the
wall.

Lupin fastened a stone to the end of the string, threw it up and caught
a thick branch, which he drew down to him and bestraddled. The branch,
in recovering its position, raised him from the ground. He climbed over
the wall, slipped down the tree, and sprang lightly on the grass.

It was winter; and, through the leafless boughs, across the undulating
lawns, he could see the little Château de Maupertuis in the distance.
Fearing lest he should be perceived, he concealed himself behind a clump
of fir-trees. From there, with the aid of a field-glass, he studied the
dark and melancholy front of the manor-house. All the windows were
closed and, as it were, barricaded with solid shutters. The house might
easily have been uninhabited.

"By Jove!" muttered Lupin. "It's not the liveliest of residences. I
shall certainly not come here to end my days!"

But the clock struck three; one of the doors on the ground-floor opened;
and the figure of a woman appeared, a very slender figure wrapped in a
brown cloak.

The woman walked up and down for a few minutes and was at once
surrounded by birds, to which she scattered crumbs of bread. Then she
went down the stone steps that led to the middle lawn and skirted it,
taking the path on the right.

With his field-glass, Lupin could distinctly see her coming in his
direction. She was tall, fair-haired, graceful in appearance, and
seemed to be quite a young girl. She walked with a sprightly step,
looking at the pale December sun and amusing herself by breaking the
little dead twigs on the shrubs along the road.

She had gone nearly two thirds of the distance that separated her from
Lupin when there came a furious sound of barking and a huge dog, a
colossal Danish boarhound, sprang from a neighbouring kennel and stood
erect at the end of the chain by which it was fastened.

The girl moved a little to one side, without paying further attention to
what was doubtless a daily incident. The dog grew angrier than ever,
standing on its legs and dragging at its collar, at the risk of
strangling itself.

Thirty or forty steps farther, yielding probably to an impulse of
impatience, the girl turned round and made a gesture with her hand. The
great Dane gave a start of rage, retreated to the back of its kennel and
rushed out again, this time unfettered. The girl uttered a cry of mad
terror. The dog was covering the space between them, trailing its broken
chain behind it.

She began to run, to run with all her might, and screamed out
desperately for help. But the dog came up with her in a few bounds.

She fell, at once exhausted, giving herself up for lost. The animal was
already upon her, almost touching her.

At that exact moment a shot rang out. The dog turned a complete
somersault, recovered its feet, tore the ground and then lay down,
giving a number of hoarse, breathless howls, which ended in a dull moan
and an indistinct gurgling. And that was all.

"Dead," said Lupin, who had hastened up at once, prepared, if necessary,
to fire his revolver a second time.

The girl had risen and stood pale, still staggering. She looked in great
surprise at this man whom she did not know and who had saved her life;
and she whispered:

"Thank you.... I have had a great fright.... You were in the nick of
time.... I thank you, monsieur."

Lupin took off his hat:

"Allow me to introduce myself, mademoiselle.... My name is Paul
Daubreuil.... But before entering into any explanations, I must ask for
one moment...."

He stooped over the dog's dead body and examined the chain at the part
where the brute's effort had snapped it:

"That's it," he said, between his teeth. "It's just as I suspected. By
Jupiter, things are moving rapidly!... I ought to have come earlier."

Returning to the girl's side, he said to her, speaking very quickly:

"Mademoiselle, we have not a minute to lose. My presence in these
grounds is quite irregular. I do not wish to be surprised here; and this
for reasons that concern yourself alone. Do you think that the report
can have been heard at the house?"

The girl seemed already to have recovered from her emotion; and she
replied, with a calmness that revealed all her pluck:

"I don't think so."

"Is your father in the house to-day?"

"My father is ill and has been in bed for months. Besides, his room
looks out on the other front."

"And the servants?"

"Their quarters and the kitchen are also on the other side. No one ever
comes to this part. I walk here myself, but nobody else does."

"It is probable, therefore, that I have not been seen either, especially
as the trees hide us?"

"It is most probable."

"Then I can speak to you freely?"

"Certainly, but I don't understand...."

"You will, presently. Permit me to be brief. The point is this: four
days ago, Mlle. Jeanne Darcieux...."

"That is my name," she said, smiling.

"Mlle. Jeanne Darcieux," continued Lupin, "wrote a letter to one of her
friends, called Marceline, who lives at Versailles...."

"How do you know all that?" asked the girl, in astonishment. "I tore up
the letter before I had finished it."

"And you flung the pieces on the edge of the road that runs from the
house to Vendôme."

"That's true.... I had gone out walking...."

"The pieces were picked up and they came into my hands next day."

"Then ... you must have read them," said Jeanne Darcieux, betraying a
certain annoyance by her manner.

"Yes, I committed that indiscretion; and I do not regret it, because I
can save you."

"Save me? From what?"

"From death."

Lupin spoke this little sentence in a very distinct voice. The girl gave
a shudder. Then she said:

"I am not threatened with death."

"Yes, you are, mademoiselle. At the end of October, you were reading on
a bench on the terrace where you were accustomed to sit at the same hour
every day, when a block of stone fell from the cornice above your head
and you were within a few inches of being crushed."

"An accident...."

"One fine evening in November, you were walking in the kitchen-garden,
by moonlight. A shot was fired, The bullet whizzed past your ear."

"At least, I thought so."

"Lastly, less than a week ago, the little wooden bridge that crosses the
river in the park, two yards from the waterfall, gave way while you were
on it. You were just able, by a miracle, to catch hold of the root of a
tree."

Jeanne Darcieux tried to smile.

"Very well. But, as I wrote to Marceline, these are only a series of
coincidences, of accidents...."

"No, mademoiselle, no. One accident of this sort is allowable.... So are
two ... and even then!... But we have no right to suppose that the
chapter of accidents, repeating the same act three times in such
different and extraordinary circumstances, is a mere amusing
coincidence. That is why I thought that I might presume to come to your
assistance. And, as my intervention can be of no use unless it remains
secret, I did not hesitate to make my way in here ... without walking
through the gate. I came in the nick of time, as you said. Your enemy
was attacking you once more."

"What!... Do you think?... No, it is impossible.... I refuse to
believe...."

Lupin picked up the chain and, showing it to her:

"Look at the last link. There is no question but that it has been filed.
Otherwise, so powerful a chain as this would never have yielded.
Besides, you can see the mark of the file here."

Jeanne turned pale and her pretty features were distorted with terror:

"But who can bear me such a grudge?" she gasped. "It is terrible.... I
have never done any one harm.... And yet you are certainly right....
Worse still...."

She finished her sentence in a lower voice:

"Worse still, I am wondering whether the same danger does not threaten
my father."

"Has he been attacked also?"

"No, for he never stirs from his room. But his is such a mysterious
illness!... He has no strength ... he cannot walk at all.... In addition
to that, he is subject to fits of suffocation, as though his heart
stopped beating.... Oh, what an awful thing!"

Lupin realized all the authority which he was able to assert at such a
moment, and he said:

"Have no fear, mademoiselle. If you obey me blindly, I shall be sure to
succeed."

"Yes ... yes ... I am quite willing ... but all this is so terrible...."

"Trust me, I beg of you. And please listen to me, I shall want a few
particulars."

He rapped out a number of questions, which Jeanne Darcieux answered
hurriedly:

"That animal was never let loose, was he?"

"Never."

"Who used to feed him?"

"The lodge-keeper. He brought him his food every evening."

"Consequently, he could go near him without being bitten?"

"Yes; and he only, for the dog was very savage."

"You don't suspect the man?"

"Oh, no!... Baptiste?... Never!"

"And you can't think of anybody?"

"No. Our servants are quite devoted to us. They are very fond of me."

"You have no friends staying in the house?"

"No."

"No brother?"

"No."

"Then your father is your only protector?"

"Yes; and I have told you the condition he is in."

"Have you told him of the different attempts?"

"Yes; and it was wrong of me to do so. Our doctor, old Dr. Guéroult,
forbade me to cause him the least excitement."

"Your mother?..."

"I don't remember her. She died sixteen years ago ... just sixteen years
ago."

"How old were you then?"

"I was not quite five years old."

"And were you living here?"

"We were living in Paris. My father only bought this place the year
after."

Lupin was silent for a few moments. Then he concluded:

"Very well, mademoiselle, I am obliged to you. Those particulars are all
I need for the present. Besides, it would not be wise for us to remain
together longer."

"But," she said, "the lodge-keeper will find the dog soon.... Who will
have killed him?"

"You, mademoiselle, to defend yourself against an attack."

"I never carry firearms."

"I am afraid you do," said Lupin, smiling, "because you killed the dog
and there is no one but you who could have killed him. For that matter,
let them think what they please. The great thing is that I shall not be
suspected when I come to the house."

"To the house? Do you intend to?"

"Yes. I don't yet know how ... But I shall come.... This very
evening.... So, once more, be easy in your mind. I will answer for
everything."

Jeanne looked at him and, dominated by him, conquered by his air of
assurance and good faith, she said, simply:

"I am quite easy."

"Then all will go well. Till this evening, mademoiselle."

"Till this evening."

She walked away; and Lupin, following her with his eyes until the moment
when she disappeared round the corner of the house, murmured:

"What a pretty creature! It would be a pity if any harm were to come to
her. Luckily, Arsène Lupin is keeping his weather-eye open."

Taking care not to be seen, with eyes and ears attentive to the least
sight or sound, he inspected every nook and corner of the grounds,
looked for the little low door which he had noticed outside and which
was the door of the kitchen garden, drew the bolt, took the key and then
skirted the walls and found himself once more near the tree which he had
climbed. Two minutes later, he was mounting his motor-cycle.

       *       *       *       *       *

The village of Maupertuis lay quite close to the estate. Lupin inquired
and learnt that Dr. Guéroult lived next door to the church.

He rang, was shown into the consulting-room and introduced himself by
his name of Paul Daubreuil, of the Rue de Surène, Paris, adding that he
had official relations with the detective-service, a fact which he
requested might be kept secret. He had become acquainted, by means of a
torn letter, with the incidents that had endangered Mlle. Darcieux's
life; and he had come to that young lady's assistance.

Dr. Guéroult, an old country practitioner, who idolized Jeanne, on
hearing Lupin's explanations at once admitted that those incidents
constituted undeniable proofs of a plot. He showed great concern,
offered his visitor hospitality and kept him to dinner.

The two men talked at length. In the evening, they walked round to the
manor-house together.

The doctor went to the sick man's room, which was on the first floor,
and asked leave to bring up a young colleague, to whom he intended soon
to make over his practice, when he retired.

Lupin, on entering, saw Jeanne Darcieux seated by her father's bedside.
She suppressed a movement of surprise and, at a sign from the doctor,
left the room.

The consultation thereupon took place in Lupin's presence. M. Darcieux's
face was worn, with much suffering and his eyes were bright with fever.
He complained particularly, that day, of his heart. After the
auscultation, he questioned the doctor with obvious anxiety; and each
reply seemed to give him relief. He also spoke of Jeanne and expressed
his conviction that they were deceiving him and that his daughter had
escaped yet more accidents. He continued perturbed, in spite of the
doctor's denials. He wanted to have the police informed and inquiries
set on foot.

But his excitement tired him and he gradually dropped off to sleep.

Lupin stopped the doctor in the passage:

"Come, doctor, give me your exact opinion. Do you think that M.
Darcieux's illness can be attributed to an outside cause?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well, suppose that the same enemy should be interested in removing both
father and daughter."

The doctor seemed struck by the suggestion.

"Upon my word, there is something in what you say.... The father's
illness at times adopts such a very unusual character!... For instance,
the paralysis of the legs, which is almost complete, ought to be
accompanied by...."

The doctor reflected for a moment and then said in a low voice:

"You think it's poison, of course ... but what poison?... Besides, I see
no toxic symptoms.... It would have to be.... But what are you doing?
What's the matter?..."

The two men were talking outside a little sitting-room on the first
floor, where Jeanne, seizing the opportunity while the doctor was with
her father, had begun her evening meal. Lupin, who was watching her
through the open door, saw her lift a cup to her lips and take a few
sups.

Suddenly, he rushed at her and caught her by the arm:

"What are you drinking there?"

"Why," she said, taken aback, "only tea!"

"You pulled a face of disgust ... what made you do that?"

"I don't know ... I thought...."

"You thought what?"

"That ... that it tasted rather bitter.... But I expect that comes from
the medicine I mixed with it."

"What medicine?"

"Some drops which I take at dinner ... the drops which you prescribed
for me, you know, doctor."

"Yes," said Dr. Guéroult, "but that medicine has no taste of any
kind.... You know it hasn't, Jeanne, for you have been taking it for a
fortnight and this is the first time...."

"Quite right," said the girl, "and this does have a taste....
There--oh!--my mouth is still burning."

Dr. Guéroult now took a sip from the cup;

"Faugh!" he exclaimed, spitting it out again. "There's no mistake about
it...."

Lupin, on his side, was examining the bottle containing the medicine;
and he asked:

"Where is this bottle kept in the daytime?"

But Jeanne was unable to answer. She had put her hand to her heart and,
wan-faced, with staring eyes, seemed to be suffering great pain:

"It hurts ... it hurts," she stammered.

The two men quickly carried her to her room and laid her on the bed:

"She ought to have an emetic," said Lupin.

"Open the cupboard," said the doctor. "You'll see a medicine-case....
Have you got it?... Take out one of those little tubes.... Yes, that
one.... And now some hot water.... You'll find some on the tea-tray in
the other room."

Jeanne's own maid came running up in answer to the bell. Lupin told her
that Mlle. Darcieux had been taken unwell, for some unknown reason.

He next returned to the little dining-room, inspected the sideboard and
the cupboards, went down to the kitchen and pretended that the doctor
had sent him to ask about M. Darcieux's diet. Without appearing to do
so, he catechized the cook, the butler, and Baptiste, the lodge-keeper,
who had his meals at the manor-house with the servants. Then he went
back to the doctor:

"Well?"

"She's asleep."

"Any danger?"

"No. Fortunately, she had only taken two or three sips. But this is the
second time to-day that you have saved her life, as the analysis of this
bottle will show."

"Quite superfluous to make an analysis, doctor. There is no doubt about
the fact that there has been an attempt at poisoning."

"By whom?"

"I can't say. But the demon who is engineering all this business clearly
knows the ways of the house. He comes and goes as he pleases, walks
about in the park, files the dog's chain, mixes poison with the food
and, in short, moves and acts precisely as though he were living the
very life of her--or rather of those--whom he wants to put away."

"Ah! You really believe that M. Darcieux is threatened with the same
danger?"

"I have not a doubt of it."

"Then it must be one of the servants? But that is most unlikely! Do you
think ...?"

"I think nothing, doctor. I know nothing. All I can say is that the
situation is most tragic and that we must be prepared for the worst.
Death is here, doctor, shadowing the people in this house; and it will
soon strike at those whom it is pursuing."

"What's to be done?"

"Watch, doctor. Let us pretend that we are alarmed about M. Darcieux's
health and spend the night in here. The bedrooms of both the father and
daughter are close by. If anything happens, we are sure to hear."

There was an easy-chair in the room. They arranged to sleep in it turn
and turn about.

In reality, Lupin slept for only two or three hours. In the middle of
the night he left the room, without disturbing his companion, carefully
looked round the whole of the house and walked out through the principal
gate.

       *       *       *       *       *

He reached Paris on his motor-cycle at nine o'clock in the morning. Two
of his friends, to whom he telephoned on the road, met him there. They
all three spent the day in making searches which Lupin had planned out
beforehand.

He set out again hurriedly at six o'clock; and never, perhaps, as he
told me subsequently, did he risk his life with greater temerity than in
his breakneck ride, at a mad rate of speed, on a foggy December evening,
with the light of his lamp hardly able to pierce through the darkness.

He sprang from his bicycle outside the gate, which was still open, ran
to the house and reached the first floor in a few bounds.

There was no one in the little dining-room.

Without hesitating, without knocking, he walked into Jeanne's bedroom:

"Ah, here you are!" he said, with a sigh of relief, seeing Jeanne and
the doctor sitting side by side, talking.

"What? Any news?" asked the doctor, alarmed at seeing such a state of
agitation in a man whose coolness he had had occasion to observe.

"No," said Lupin. "No news. And here?"

"None here, either. We have just left M. Darcieux. He has had an
excellent day and he ate his dinner with a good appetite. As for Jeanne,
you can see for yourself, she has all her pretty colour back again."

"Then she must go."

"Go? But it's out of the question!" protested the girl.

"You must go, you must!" cried Lupin, with real violence, stamping his
foot on the floor.

He at once mastered himself, spoke a few words of apology and then, for
three or four minutes, preserved a complete silence, which the doctor
and Jeanne were careful not to disturb.

At last, he said to the young girl:

"You shall go to-morrow morning, mademoiselle. It will be only for one
or two weeks. I will take you to your friend at Versailles, the one to
whom you were writing. I entreat you to get everything ready to-night
... without concealment of any kind. Let the servants know that you are
going.... On the other hand, the doctor will be good enough to tell M.
Darcieux and give him to understand, with every possible precaution,
that this journey is essential to your safety. Besides, he can join you
as soon as his strength permits.... That's settled, is it not?"

"Yes," she said, absolutely dominated by Lupin's gentle and imperious
voice.

"In that case," he said, "be as quick as you can ... and do not stir
from your room...."

"But," said the girl, with a shudder, "am I to stay alone to-night?"

"Fear nothing. Should there be the least danger, the doctor and I will
come back. Do not open your door unless you hear three very light taps."

Jeanne at once rang for her maid. The doctor went to M. Darcieux, while
Lupin had some supper brought to him in the little dining-room.

"That's done," said the doctor, returning to him in twenty minutes'
time. "M. Darcieux did not raise any great difficulty. As a matter of
fact, he himself thinks it just as well that we should send Jeanne
away."

They then went downstairs together and left the house.

On reaching the lodge, Lupin called the keeper.

"You can shut the gate, my man. If M. Darcieux should want us, send for
us at once."

The clock of Maupertuis church struck ten. The sky was overcast with
black clouds, through which the moon broke at moments.

The two men walked on for sixty or seventy yards.

They were nearing the village, when Lupin gripped his companion by the
arm:

"Stop!"

"What on earth's the matter?" exclaimed the doctor.

"The matter is this," Lupin jerked out, "that, if my calculations turn
out right, if I have not misjudged the business from start to finish,
Mlle. Darcieux will be murdered before the night is out."

"Eh? What's that?" gasped the doctor, in dismay. "But then why did we
go?"

"With the precise object that the miscreant, who is watching all our
movements in the dark, may not postpone his crime and may perpetrate it,
not at the hour chosen by himself, but at the hour which I have decided
upon."

"Then we are returning to the manor-house?"

"Yes, of course we are, but separately."

"In that case, let us go at once."

"Listen to me, doctor," said Lupin, in a steady voice, "and let us
waste no time in useless words. Above all, we must defeat any attempt to
watch us. You will therefore go straight home and not come out again
until you are quite certain that you have not been followed. You will
then make for the walls of the property, keeping to the left, till you
come to the little door of the kitchen-garden. Here is the key. When the
church clock strikes eleven, open the door very gently and walk right up
to the terrace at the back of the house. The fifth window is badly
fastened. You have only to climb over the balcony. As soon as you are
inside Mlle. Darcieux's room, bolt the door and don't budge. You quite
understand, don't budge, either of you, whatever happens. I have noticed
that Mlle. Darcieux leaves her dressing-room window ajar, isn't that
so?"

"Yes, it's a habit which I taught her."

"That's the way they'll come."

"And you?"

"That's the way I shall come also."

"And do you know who the villain is?"

Lupin hesitated and then replied:

"No, I don't know.... And that is just how we shall find out. But, I
implore you, keep cool. Not a word, not a movement, _whatever happens_!"

"I promise you."

"I want more than that, doctor. You must give me your word of honour."

"I give you my word of honour."

The doctor went away. Lupin at once climbed a neighbouring mound from
which he could see the windows of the first and second floor. Several of
them were lighted.

He waited for some little time. The lights went out one by one. Then,
taking a direction opposite to that in which the doctor had gone, he
branched off to the right and skirted the wall until he came to the
clump of trees near which he had hidden his motor-cycle on the day
before.

Eleven o'clock struck. He calculated the time which it would take the
doctor to cross the kitchen-garden and make his way into the house.

"That's one point scored!" he muttered. "Everything's all right on that
side. And now, Lupin to the rescue? The enemy won't be long before he
plays his last trump ... and, by all the gods, I must be there!..."

He went through the same performance as on the first occasion, pulled
down the branch and hoisted himself to the top of the wall, from which
he was able to reach the bigger boughs of the tree.

Just then he pricked up his ears. He seemed to hear a rustling of dead
leaves. And he actually perceived a dark form moving on the level thirty
yards away:

"Hang it all!" he said to himself. "I'm done: the scoundrel has smelt a
rat."

A moonbeam pierced through the clouds. Lupin distinctly saw the man take
aim. He tried to jump to the ground and turned his head. But he felt
something hit him in the chest, heard the sound of a report, uttered an
angry oath and came crashing down from branch to branch, like a corpse.

       *       *       *       *       *

Meanwhile, Doctor Guéroult, following Arsène Lupin's instructions, had
climbed the ledge of the fifth window and groped his way to the first
floor. On reaching Jeanne's room, he tapped lightly, three times, at the
door and, immediately on entering, pushed the bolt:

"Lie down at once," he whispered to the girl, who had not taken off her
things. "You must appear to have gone to bed. Brrrr, it's cold in here!
Is the window open in your dressing-room?"

"Yes ... would you like me to ...?"

"No, leave it as it is. They are coming."

"They are coming!" spluttered Jeanne, in affright.

"Yes, beyond a doubt."

"But who? Do you suspect any one?"

"I don't know who.... I expect that there is some one hidden in the
house ... or in the park."

"Oh, I feel so frightened!"

"Don't be frightened. The sportsman who's looking after you seems jolly
clever and makes a point of playing a safe game. I expect he's on the
look-out in the court."

The doctor put out the night-light, went to the window and raised the
blind. A narrow cornice, running along the first story, prevented him
from seeing more than a distant part of the courtyard; and he came back
and sat down by the bed.

Some very painful minutes passed, minutes that appeared to them
interminably long. The clock in the village struck; but, taken up as
they were with all the little noises of the night, they hardly noticed
the sound. They listened, listened, with all their nerves on edge:

"Did you hear?" whispered the doctor.

"Yes ... yes," said Jeanne, sitting up in bed.

"Lie down ... lie down," he said, presently. "There's some one coming."

There was a little tapping sound outside, against the cornice. Next came
a series of indistinct noises, the nature of which they could not make
out for certain. But they had a feeling that the window in the
dressing-room was being opened wider, for they were buffeted by gusts of
cold air.

Suddenly, it became quite clear: there was some one next door.

The doctor, whose hand was trembling a little, seized his revolver.
Nevertheless, he did not move, remembering the formal orders which he
had received and fearing to act against them.

The room was in absolute darkness; and they were unable to see where the
adversary was. But they felt his presence.

They followed his invisible movements, the sound of his footsteps
deadened by the carpet; and they did not doubt but that he had already
crossed the threshold of the room.

And the adversary stopped. Of that they were certain. He was standing
six steps away from the bed, motionless, undecided perhaps, seeking to
pierce the darkness with his keen eyes.

Jeanne's hand, icy-cold and clammy, trembled in the doctor's grasp.

With his other hand, the doctor clutched his revolver, with his finger
on the trigger. In spite of his pledged word, he did not hesitate. If
the adversary touched the end of the bed, the shot would be fired at a
venture.

The adversary took another step and then stopped again. And there was
something awful about that silence, that impassive silence, that
darkness in which those human beings were peering at one another,
wildly.

Who was it looming in the murky darkness? Who was the man? What horrible
enmity was it that turned his hand against the girl and what abominable
aim was he pursuing?

Terrified though they were, Jeanne and the doctor thought only of that
one thing: to see, to learn the truth, to gaze upon the adversary's
face.

He took one more step and did not move again. It seemed to them that his
figure stood out, darker, against the dark space and that his arm rose
slowly, slowly....

A minute passed and then another minute....

And, suddenly, beyond the man, on the right a sharp click.... A bright
light flashed, was flung upon the man, lit him full in the face,
remorselessly.

Jeanne gave a cry of affright. She had seen--standing over her, with a
dagger in his hand--she had seen ... her father!

Almost at the same time, though the light was already turned off, there
came a report: the doctor had fired.

"Dash it all, don't shoot!" roared Lupin.

He threw his arms round the doctor, who choked out:

"Didn't you see?... Didn't you see?... Listen!... He's escaping!..."

"Let him escape: it's the best thing that could happen."

He pressed the spring of his electric lantern again, ran to the
dressing-room, made certain that the man had disappeared and, returning
quietly to the table, lit the lamp.

Jeanne lay on her bed, pallid, in a dead faint.

The doctor, huddled in his chair, emitted inarticulate sounds.

"Come," said Lupin, laughing, "pull yourself together. There is nothing
to excite ourselves about: it's all over."

"Her father!... Her father!" moaned the old doctor.

"If you please, doctor, Mlle. Darcieux is ill. Look after her."

Without more words, Lupin went back to the dressing-room and stepped out
on the window-ledge. A ladder stood against the ledge. He ran down it.
Skirting the wall of the house, twenty steps farther, he tripped over
the rungs of a rope-ladder, which he climbed and found himself in M.
Darcieux's bedroom. The room was empty.

"Just so," he said. "My gentleman did not like the position and has
cleared out. Here's wishing him a good journey.... And, of course, the
door is bolted?... Exactly!... That is how our sick man, tricking his
worthy medical attendant, used to get up at night in full security,
fasten his rope-ladder to the balcony and prepare his little games. He's
no fool, is friend Darcieux!"

He drew the bolts and returned to Jeanne's room. The doctor, who was
just coming out of the doorway, drew him to the little dining-room:

"She's asleep, don't let us disturb her. She has had a bad shock and
will take some time to recover."

Lupin poured himself out a glass of water and drank it down. Then he
took a chair and, calmly:

"Pooh! She'll be all right by to-morrow."

"What do you say?"

"I say that she'll be all right by to-morrow."

"Why?"

"In the first place, because it did not strike me that Mlle. Darcieux
felt any very great affection for her father."

"Never mind! Think of it: a father who tries to kill his daughter! A
father who, for months on end, repeats his monstrous attempt four, five,
six times over again!... Well, isn't that enough to blight a less
sensitive soul than Jeanne's for good and all? What a hateful memory!"

"She will forget."

"One does not forget such a thing as that."

"She will forget, doctor, and for a very simple reason...."

"Explain yourself!"

"She is not M. Darcieux's daughter!"

"Eh?"

"I repeat, she is not that villain's daughter."

"What do you mean? M. Darcieux...."

"M. Darcieux is only her step-father. She had just been born when her
father, her real father, died. Jeanne's mother then married a cousin of
her husband's, a man bearing the same name, and she died within a year
of her second wedding. She left Jeanne in M. Darcieux's charge. He first
took her abroad and then bought this country-house; and, as nobody knew
him in the neighbourhood, he represented the child as being his
daughter. She herself did not know the truth about her birth."

The doctor sat confounded. He asked:

"Are you sure of your facts?"

"I spent my day in the town-halls of the Paris municipalities. I
searched the registers, I interviewed two solicitors, I have seen all
the documents. There is no doubt possible."

"But that does not explain the crime, or rather the series of crimes."

"Yes, it does," declared Lupin. "And, from the start, from the first
hour when I meddled in this business, some words which Mlle. Darcieux
used made me suspect that direction which my investigations must take.
'I was not quite five years old when my mother died,' she said. 'That
was sixteen years ago.' Mlle. Darcieux, therefore, was nearly
twenty-one, that is to say, she was on the verge of attaining her
majority. I at once saw that this was an important detail. The day on
which you reach your majority is the day on which your accounts are
rendered. What was the financial position of Mlle. Darcieux, who was her
mother's natural heiress? Of course, I did not think of the father for a
second. To begin with, one can't imagine a thing like that; and then the
farce which M. Darcieux was playing ... helpless, bedridden, ill...."

"Really ill," interrupted the doctor.

"All this diverted suspicion from him ... the more so as I believe that
he himself was exposed to criminal attacks. But was there not in the
family some person who would be interested in their removal? My journey
to Paris revealed the truth to me: Mlle. Darcieux inherits a large
fortune from her mother, of which her step-father draws the income. The
solicitor was to have called a meeting of the family in Paris next
month. The truth would have been out. It meant ruin to M. Darcieux."

"Then he had put no money by?"

"Yes, but he had lost a great deal as the result of unfortunate
speculations."

"But, after all, Jeanne would not have taken the management of her
fortune out of his hands!"

"There is one detail which you do not know, doctor, and which I learnt
from reading the torn letter. Mlle. Darcieux is in love with the brother
of Marceline, her Versailles friend; M. Darcieux was opposed to the
marriage; and--you now see the reason--she was waiting until she came of
age to be married."

"You're right," said the doctor, "you're right.... It meant his ruin."

"His absolute ruin. One chance of saving himself remained, the death of
his step-daughter, of whom he is the next heir."

"Certainly, but on condition that no one suspected him."

"Of course; and that is why he contrived the series of accidents, so
that the death might appear to be due to misadventure. And that is why
I, on my side, wishing to bring things to a head, asked you to tell him
of Mlle. Darcieux's impending departure. From that moment, it was no
longer enough for the would-be sick man to wander about the grounds and
the passages, in the dark, and execute some leisurely thought-out plan.
No, he had to act, to act at once, without preparation, violently,
dagger in hand. I had no doubt that he would decide to do it. And he
did."

"Then he had no suspicions?"

"Of me, yes. He felt that I would return to-night, and he kept a watch
at the place where I had already climbed the wall."

"Well?"

"Well," said Lupin, laughing, "I received a bullet full in the chest
... or rather my pocket-book received a bullet.... Here, you can see the
hole.... So I tumbled from the tree, like a dead man. Thinking that he
was rid of his only adversary, he went back to the house. I saw him
prowl about for two hours. Then, making up his mind, he went to the
coach-house, took a ladder and set it against the window. I had only to
follow him."

The doctor reflected and said:

"You could have collared him earlier. Why did you let him come up? It
was a sore trial for Jeanne ... and unnecessary."

"On the contrary, it was indispensable! Mlle. Darcieux would never have
accepted the truth. It was essential that she should see the murderer's
very face. You must tell her all the circumstances when she wakes. She
will soon be well again."

"But ... M. Darcieux?"

"You can explain his disappearance as you think best ... a sudden
journey ... a fit of madness.... There will be a few inquiries.... And
you may be sure that he will never be heard of again."

The doctor nodded his head:

"Yes ... that is so ... that is so ... you are right. You have managed
all this business with extraordinary skill; and Jeanne owes you her
life. She will thank you in person.... But now, can I be of use to you
in any way? You told me that you were connected with the
detective-service.... Will you allow me to write and praise your
conduct, your courage?"

Lupin began to laugh:

"Certainly! A letter of that kind will do me a world of good. You might
write to my immediate superior, Chief-inspector Ganimard. He will be
glad to hear that his favourite officer, Paul Daubreuil, of the Rue de
Surène, has once again distinguished himself by a brilliant action. As
it happens, I have an appointment to meet him about a case of which you
may have heard: the case of the red scarf.... How pleased my dear M.
Ganimard will be!"



VII

A TRAGEDY IN THE FOREST OF MORGUES


The village was terror-stricken.

It was on a Sunday morning. The peasants of Saint-Nicolas and the
neighbourhood were coming out of church and spreading across the square,
when, suddenly, the women who were walking ahead and who had already
turned into the high-road fell back with loud cries of dismay.

At the same moment, an enormous motor-car, looking like some appalling
monster, came tearing into sight at a headlong rate of speed. Amid the
shouts of the madly scattering people, it made straight for the church,
swerved, just as it seemed about to dash itself to pieces against the
steps, grazed the wall of the presbytery, regained the continuation of
the national road, dashed along, turned the corner and disappeared,
without, by some incomprehensible miracle, having so much as brushed
against any of the persons crowding the square.

But they had seen! They had seen a man in the driver's seat, wrapped in
a goat-skin coat, with a fur cap on his head and his face disguised in a
pair of large goggles, and, with him, on the front of that seat, flung
back, bent in two, a woman whose head, all covered with blood, hung down
over the bonnet....

And they had heard! They had heard the woman's screams, screams of
horror, screams of agony....

And it was all such a vision of hell and carnage that the people stood,
for some seconds, motionless, stupefied.

"Blood!" roared somebody.

There was blood everywhere, on the cobblestones of the square, on the
ground hardened by the first frosts of autumn; and, when a number of men
and boys rushed off in pursuit of the motor, they had but to take those
sinister marks for their guide.

The marks, on their part, followed the high-road, but in a very strange
manner, going from one side to the other and leaving a zigzag track, in
the wake of the tires, that made those who saw it shudder. How was it
that the car had not bumped against that tree? How had it been righted,
instead of smashing into that bank? What novice, what madman, what
drunkard, what frightened criminal was driving that motor-car with such
astounding bounds and swerves?

One of the peasants declared:

"They will never do the turn in the forest."

And another said:

"Of course they won't! She's bound to upset!"

The Forest of Morgues began at half a mile beyond Saint-Nicolas; and the
road, which was straight up to that point, except for a slight bend
where it left the village, started climbing, immediately after entering
the forest, and made an abrupt turn among the rocks and trees. No
motor-car was able to take this turn without first slackening speed.
There were posts to give notice of the danger.

The breathless peasants reached the quincunx of beeches that formed the
edge of the forest. And one of them at once cried:

"There you are!"

"What?"

"Upset!"

The car, a limousine, had turned turtle and lay smashed, twisted and
shapeless. Beside it, the woman's dead body. But the most horrible,
sordid, stupefying thing was the woman's head, crushed, flattened,
invisible under a block of stone, a huge block of stone lodged there by
some unknown and prodigious agency. As for the man in the goat-skin
coat he was nowhere to be found.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was not found on the scene of the accident. He was not found either
in the neighbourhood. Moreover, some workmen coming down the Côte de
Morgues declared that they had not seen anybody.

The man, therefore, had taken refuge in the woods.

The gendarmes, who were at once sent for, made a minute search, assisted
by the peasants, but discovered nothing. In the same way, the
examining-magistrates, after a close inquiry lasting for several days,
found no clue capable of throwing the least light upon this inscrutable
tragedy. On the contrary, the investigations only led to further
mysteries and further improbabilities.

Thus it was ascertained that the block of stone came from where there
had been a landslip, at least forty yards away. And the murderer, in a
few minutes, had carried it all that distance and flung it on his
victim's head.

On the other hand, the murderer, who was most certainly not hiding in
the forest--for, if so, he must inevitably have been discovered, the
forest being of limited extent--had the audacity, eight days after the
crime, to come back to the turn on the hill and leave his goat-skin coat
there. Why? With what object? There was nothing in the pockets of the
coat, except a corkscrew and a napkin. What did it all mean?

Inquiries were made of the builder of the motor-car, who recognized the
limousine as one which he had sold, three years ago, to a Russian. The
said Russian, declared the manufacturer, had sold it again at once. To
whom? No one knew. The car bore no number.

Then again, it was impossible to identify the dead woman's body. Her
clothes and underclothing were not marked in any way. And the face was
quite unknown.

Meanwhile, detectives were going along the national road in the
direction opposite to that taken by the actors in this mysterious
tragedy. But who was to prove that the car had followed that particular
road on the previous night?

They examined every yard of the ground, they questioned everybody. At
last, they succeeded in learning that, on the Saturday evening, a
limousine had stopped outside a grocer's shop in a small town situated
about two hundred miles from Saint-Nicolas, on a highway branching out
of the national road. The driver had first filled his tank, bought some
spare cans of petrol and lastly taken away a small stock of provisions:
a ham, fruit, biscuits, wine and a half-bottle of Three Star brandy.

There was a lady on the driver's seat. She did not get down. The blinds
of the limousine were drawn. One of these blinds was seen to move
several times. The shopman was positive that there was somebody inside.

Presuming the shopman's evidence to be correct, then the problem became
even more complicated, for, so far, no clue had revealed the presence of
a third person.

Meanwhile, as the travellers had supplied themselves with provisions, it
remained to be discovered what they had done with them and what had
become of the remains.

The detectives retraced their steps. It was not until they came to the
fork of the two roads, at a spot eleven or twelve miles from
Saint-Nicolas, that they met a shepherd who, in answer to their
questions, directed them to a neighbouring field, hidden from view
behind the screen of bushes, where he had seen an empty bottle and other
things.

The detectives were convinced at the first examination. The motor-car
had stopped there; and the unknown travellers, probably after a night's
rest in their car, had breakfasted and resumed their journey in the
course of the morning.

One unmistakable proof was the half-bottle of Three Star brandy sold by
the grocer. This bottle had its neck broken clean off with a stone. The
stone employed for the purpose was picked up, as was the neck of the
bottle, with its cork, covered with a tin-foil seal. The seal showed
marks of attempts that had been made to uncork the bottle in the
ordinary manner.

The detectives continued their search and followed a ditch that ran
along the field at right angles to the road. It ended in a little
spring, hidden under brambles, which seemed to emit an offensive smell.
On lifting the brambles, they perceived a corpse, the corpse of a man
whose head had been smashed in, so that it formed little more than a
sort of pulp, swarming with vermin. The body was dressed in jacket and
trousers of dark-brown leather. The pockets were empty: no papers, no
pocket-book, no watch.

The grocer and his shopman were summoned and, two days later, formally
identified, by his dress and figure, the traveller who had bought the
petrol and provisions on the Saturday evening.

The whole case, therefore, had to be reopened on a fresh basis. The
authorities were confronted with a tragedy no longer enacted by two
persons, a man and a woman, of whom one had killed the other, but by
three persons, including two victims, of whom one was the very man who
was accused of killing his companion.

As to the murderer, there was no doubt: he was the person who travelled
inside the motor-car and who took the precaution to remain concealed
behind the curtains. He had first got rid of the driver and rifled his
pockets and then, after wounding the woman, carried her off in a mad
dash for death.

       *       *       *       *       *

Given a fresh case, unexpected discoveries, unforeseen evidence, one
might have hoped that the mystery would be cleared up, or, at least,
that the inquiry would point a few steps along the road to the truth.
But not at all. The corpse was simply placed beside the first corpse.
New problems were added to the old. The accusation of murder was shifted
from the one to the other. And there it ended. Outside those tangible,
obvious facts there was nothing but darkness. The name of the woman, the
name of the man, the name of the murderer were so many riddles. And then
what had become of the murderer? If he had disappeared from one moment
to the other, that in itself would have been a tolerably curious
phenomenon. But the phenomenon was actually something very like a
miracle, inasmuch as the murderer had not absolutely disappeared. He was
there! He made a practice of returning to the scene of the catastrophe!
In addition to the goat-skin coat, a fur cap was picked up one day; and,
by way of an unparalleled prodigy, one morning, after a whole night
spent on guard in the rock, beside the famous turning, the detectives
found, on the grass of the turning itself, a pair of motor-goggles,
broken, rusty, dirty, done for. How had the murderer managed to bring
back those goggles unseen by the detectives? And, above all, why had he
brought them back?

Men's brains reeled in the presence of such abnormalities. They were
almost afraid to pursue the ambiguous adventure. They received the
impression of a heavy, stifling, breathless atmosphere, which dimmed the
eyes and baffled the most clear-sighted.

The magistrate in charge of the case fell ill. Four days later, his
successor confessed that the matter was beyond him.

Two tramps were arrested and at once released. Another was pursued, but
not caught; moreover, there was no evidence of any sort or kind against
him. In short, it was nothing but one helpless muddle of mist and
contradiction.

An accident, the merest accident led to the solution, or rather produced
a series of circumstances that ended by leading to the solution. A
reporter on the staff of an important Paris paper, who had been sent to
make investigations on the spot, concluded his article with the
following words:

"I repeat, therefore, that we must wait for fresh events, fresh facts;
we must wait for some lucky accident. As things stand, we are simply
wasting our time. The elements of truth are not even sufficient to
suggest a plausible theory. We are in the midst of the most absolute,
painful, impenetrable darkness. There is nothing to be done. All the
Sherlock Holmeses in the world would not know what to make of the
mystery, and Arsène Lupin himself, if he will allow me to say so, would
have to pay forfeit here."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the day after the appearance of that article, the newspaper in
question printed this telegram:


    "Have sometimes paid forfeit, but never over such a silly thing as
    this. The Saint-Nicolas tragedy is a mystery for babies.

                                                      "ARSÈNE LUPIN."


And the editor added:


    "We insert this telegram as a matter of curiosity, for it is
    obviously the work of a wag. Arsène Lupin, past-master though he be
    in the art of practical joking, would be the last man to display
    such childish flippancy."


Two days elapsed; and then the paper published the famous letter, so
precise and categorical in its conclusions, in which Arsène Lupin
furnished the solution of the problem. I quote it in full:


    "Sir:

    "You have taken me on my weak side by defying me. You challenge me,
    and I accept the challenge. And I will begin by declaring once more
    that the Saint-Nicolas tragedy is a mystery for babies. I know
    nothing so simple, so natural; and the proof of the simplicity
    shall lie in the succinctness of my demonstration. It is contained
    in these few words: when a crime seems to go beyond the ordinary
    scope of things, when it seems unusual and stupid, then there are
    many chances that its explanation is to be found in superordinary,
    supernatural, superhuman motives.

    "I say that there are many chances, for we must always allow for
    the part played by absurdity in the most logical and commonplace
    events. But, of course, it is impossible to see things as they are
    and not to take account of the absurd and the disproportionate.

    "I was struck from the very beginning by that very evident
    character of unusualness. We have, first of all, the awkward,
    zigzag course of the motor-car, which would give one the impression
    that the car was driven by a novice. People have spoken of a
    drunkard or a madman, a justifiable supposition in itself. But
    neither madness nor drunkenness would account for the incredible
    strength required to transport, especially in so short a space of
    time, the stone with which the unfortunate woman's head was
    crushed. That proceeding called for a muscular power so great that
    I do not hesitate to look upon it as a second sign of the
    unusualness that marks the whole tragedy. And why move that
    enormous stone, to finish off the victim, when a mere pebble would
    have done the work? Why again was the murderer not killed, or at
    least reduced to a temporary state of helplessness, in the terrible
    somersault turned by the car? How did he disappear? And why, having
    disappeared, did he return to the scene of the accident? Why did he
    throw his fur coat there; then, on another day, his cap; then, on
    another day, his goggles?

    "Unusual, useless, stupid acts.

    "Why, besides, convey that wounded, dying woman on the driver's
    seat of the car, where everybody could see her? Why do that,
    instead of putting her inside, or flinging her into some corner,
    dead, just as the man was flung under the brambles in the ditch?

    "Unusualness, stupidity.

    "Everything in the whole story is absurd. Everything points to
    hesitation, incoherency, awkwardness, the silliness of a child or
    rather of a mad, blundering savage, of a brute.

    "Look at the bottle of brandy. There was a corkscrew: it was found
    in the pocket of the great coat. Did the murderer use it? Yes, the
    marks of the corkscrew can be seen on the seal. But the operation
    was too complicated for him. He broke the neck with a stone. Always
    stones: observe that detail. They are the only weapon, the only
    implement which the creature employs. It is his customary weapon,
    his familiar implement. He kills the man with a stone, he kills the
    woman with a stone and he opens bottles with a stone!

    "A brute, I repeat, a savage; disordered, unhinged, suddenly driven
    mad. By what? Why, of course, by that same brandy, which he
    swallowed at a draught while the driver and his companion were
    having breakfast in the field. He got out of the limousine, in
    which he was travelling, in his goat-skin coat and his fur cap,
    took the bottle, broke off the neck and drank. There is the whole
    story. Having drunk, he went raving mad and hit out at random,
    without reason. Then, seized with instinctive fear, dreading the
    inevitable punishment, he hid the body of the man. Then, like an
    idiot, he took up the wounded woman and ran away. He ran away in
    that motor-car which he did not know how to work, but which to him
    represented safety, escape from capture.

    "But the money, you will ask, the stolen pocket-book? Why, who says
    that he was the thief? Who says that it was not some passing tramp,
    some labourer, guided by the stench of the corpse?

    "Very well, you object, but the brute would have been found, as he
    is hiding somewhere near the turn, and as, after all, he must eat
    and drink.

    "Well, well, I see that you have not yet understood. The simplest
    way, I suppose, to have done and to answer your objections is to
    make straight for the mark. Then let the gentlemen of the police
    and the gendarmerie themselves make straight for the mark. Let them
    take firearms. Let them explore the forest within a radius of two
    or three hundred yards from the turn, no more. But, instead of
    exploring with their heads down and their eyes fixed on the ground,
    let them look up into the air, yes, into the air, among the leaves
    and branches of the tallest oaks and the most unlikely beeches.
    And, believe me, they will see him. For he is there. He is there,
    bewildered, piteously at a loss, seeking for the man and woman whom
    he has killed, looking for them and waiting for them and not daring
    to go away and quite unable to understand.

    "I myself am exceedingly sorry that I am kept in town by urgent
    private affairs and by some complicated matters of business which I
    have to set going, for I should much have liked to see the end of
    this rather curious adventure.

    "Pray, therefore excuse me to my kind friends in the police and
    permit me to be, sir,

                             "Your obedient servant,

                                        "ARSÈNE LUPIN."


       *       *       *       *       *

The upshot will be remembered. The "gentlemen of the police and the
gendarmerie" shrugged their shoulders and paid no attention to this
lucubration. But four of the local country gentry took their rifles and
went shooting, with their eyes fixed skyward, as though they meant to
pot a few rooks. In half an hour they had caught sight of the murderer.
Two shots, and he came tumbling from bough to bough. He was only
wounded, and they took him alive.

That evening, a Paris paper, which did not yet know of the capture,
printed the following paragraphs:


    "Enquiries are being made after a M. and Mme. Bragoff, who landed
    at Marseilles six weeks ago and there hired a motor-car. They had
    been living in Australia for many years, during which time they had
    not visited Europe; and they wrote to the director of the Jardin
    d'Acclimatation, with whom they were in the habit of corresponding,
    that they were bringing with them a curious creature, of an
    entirely unknown species, of which it was difficult to say whether
    it was a man or a monkey.

    "According to M. Bragoff, who is an eminent archæologist, the
    specimen in question is the anthropoid ape, or rather the ape-man,
    the existence of which had not hitherto been definitely proved. The
    structure is said to be exactly similar to that of _Pithecanthropus
    erectus_, discovered by Dr. Dubois in Java in 1891.

    "This curious, intelligent and observant animal acted as its
    owner's servant on their property in Australia and used to clean
    their motor-car and even attempt to drive it.

    "The question that is being asked is where are M. and Mme. Bragoff?
    Where is the strange primate that landed with them at Marseilles?"


The answer to this question was now made easy. Thanks to the hints
supplied by Arsène Lupin, all the elements of the tragedy were known.
Thanks to him, the culprit was in the hands of the law.

You can see him at the Jardin d'Acclimatation, where he is locked up
under the name of "Three Stars." He is, in point of fact, a monkey; but
he is also a man. He has the gentleness and the wisdom of the domestic
animals and the sadness which they feel when their master dies. But he
has many other qualities that bring him much closer to humanity: he is
treacherous, cruel, idle, greedy and quarrelsome; and, above all, he is
immoderately fond of brandy.

Apart from that, he is a monkey. Unless indeed ...!

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days after Three Stars' arrest, I saw Arsène Lupin standing in
front of his cage. Lupin was manifestly trying to solve this interesting
problem for himself. I at once said, for I had set my heart upon having
the matter out with him:

"You know, Lupin, that intervention of yours, your argument, your
letter, in short, did not surprise me so much as you might think!"

"Oh, really?" he said, calmly. "And why?"

"Why? Because the incident has occurred before, seventy or eighty years
ago. Edgar Allan Poe made it the subject of one of his finest tales. In
those circumstances, the key to the riddle was easy enough to find."

Arsène Lupin took my arm, and walking away with me, said:

"When did you guess it, yourself?"

"On reading your letter," I confessed.

"And at what part of my letter?"

"At the end."

"At the end, eh? After I had dotted all the i's. So here is a crime
which accident causes to be repeated, under quite different conditions,
it is true, but still with the same sort of hero; and your eyes had to
be opened, as well as other people's. It needed the assistance of my
letter, the letter in which I amused myself--apart from the exigencies
of the facts--by employing the argument and sometimes the identical
words used by the American poet in a story which everybody has read. So
you see that my letter was not absolutely useless and that one may
safely venture to repeat to people things which they have learnt only to
forget them."

Wherewith Lupin turned on his heel and burst out laughing in the face of
an old monkey, who sat with the air of a philosopher, gravely
meditating.



VIII

LUPIN'S MARRIAGE


    "Monsieur Arsène Lupin has the honour to inform you of his
    approaching marriage with Mademoiselle Angélique de
    Sarzeau-Vendôme, Princesse de Bourbon-Condé, and to request the
    pleasure of your company at the wedding, which will take place at
    the church of Sainte-Clotilde...."

    "The Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme has the honour to inform you of the
    approaching marriage of his daughter Angélique, Princesse de
    Bourbon-Condé, with Monsieur Arsène Lupin, and to request...."


Jean Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme could not finish reading the invitations
which he held in his trembling hand. Pale with anger, his long, lean
body shaking with tremors:

"There!" he gasped, handing the two communications to his daughter.
"This is what our friends have received! This has been the talk of Paris
since yesterday! What do you say to that dastardly insult, Angélique?
What would your poor mother say to it, if she were alive?"

Angélique was tall and thin like her father, skinny and angular like
him. She was thirty-three years of age, always dressed in black stuff,
shy and retiring in manner, with a head too small in proportion to her
height and narrowed on either side until the nose seemed to jut forth in
protest against such parsimony. And yet it would be impossible to say
that she was ugly, for her eyes were extremely beautiful, soft and
grave, proud and a little sad: pathetic eyes which to see once was to
remember.

She flushed with shame at hearing her father's words, which told her the
scandal of which she was the victim. But, as she loved him,
notwithstanding his harshness to her, his injustice and despotism, she
said:

"Oh, I think it must be meant for a joke, father, to which we need pay
no attention!"

"A joke? Why, every one is gossiping about it! A dozen papers have
printed the confounded notice this morning, with satirical comments.
They quote our pedigree, our ancestors, our illustrious dead. They
pretend to take the thing seriously...."

"Still, no one could believe...."

"Of course not. But that doesn't prevent us from being the by-word of
Paris."

"It will all be forgotten by to-morrow."

"To-morrow, my girl, people will remember that the name of Angélique de
Sarzeau-Vendôme has been bandied about as it should not be. Oh, if I
could find out the name of the scoundrel who has dared...."

At that moment, Hyacinthe, the duke's valet, came in and said that
monsieur le duc was wanted on the telephone. Still fuming, he took down
the receiver and growled:

"Well? Who is it? Yes, it's the Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme speaking."

A voice replied:

"I want to apologize to you, monsieur le duc, and to Mlle. Angélique.
It's my secretary's fault."

"Your secretary?"

"Yes, the invitations were only a rough draft which I meant to submit to
you. Unfortunately my secretary thought...."

"But, tell me, monsieur, who are you?"

"What, monsieur le duc, don't you know my voice? The voice of your
future son-in-law?"

"What!"

"Arsène Lupin."

The duke dropped into a chair. His face was livid.

"Arsène Lupin ... it's he ... Arsène Lupin...."

Angélique gave a smile:

"You see, father, it's only a joke, a hoax."

But the duke's rage broke out afresh and he began to walk up and down,
moving his arms:

"I shall go to the police!... The fellow can't be allowed to make a fool
of me in this way!... If there's any law left in the land, it must be
stopped!"

Hyacinthe entered the room again. He brought two visiting-cards.

"Chotois? Lepetit? Don't know them."

"They are both journalists, monsieur le duc."

"What do they want?"

"They would like to speak to monsieur le duc with regard to ... the
marriage...."

"Turn them out!" exclaimed the duke. "Kick them out! And tell the porter
not to admit scum of that sort to my house in future."

"Please, father ..." Angélique ventured to say.

"As for you, shut up! If you had consented to marry one of your cousins
when I wanted you to this wouldn't have happened."

The same evening, one of the two reporters printed, on the front page of
his paper, a somewhat fanciful story of his expedition to the family
mansion of the Sarzeau-Vendômes, in the Rue de Varennes, and expatiated
pleasantly upon the old nobleman's wrathful protests.

The next morning, another newspaper published an interview with Arsène
Lupin which was supposed to have taken place in a lobby at the Opera.
Arsène Lupin retorted in a letter to the editor:


    "I share my prospective father-in-law's indignation to the full.
    The sending out of the invitations was a gross breach of etiquette
    for which I am not responsible, but for which I wish to make a
    public apology. Why, sir, the date of the marriage is not yet
    fixed. My bride's father suggests early in May. She and I think
    that six weeks is really too long to wait!..."


That which gave a special piquancy to the affair and added immensely to
the enjoyment of the friends of the family was the duke's well-known
character: his pride and the uncompromising nature of his ideas and
principles. Duc Jean was the last descendant of the Barons de Sarzeau,
the most ancient family in Brittany; he was the lineal descendant of
that Sarzeau who, upon marrying a Vendôme, refused to bear the new title
which Louis XV forced upon him until after he had been imprisoned for
ten years in the Bastille; and he had abandoned none of the prejudices
of the old régime. In his youth, he followed the Comte de Chambord into
exile. In his old age, he refused a seat in the Chamber on the pretext
that a Sarzeau could only sit with his peers.

The incident stung him to the quick. Nothing could pacify him. He cursed
Lupin in good round terms, threatened him with every sort of punishment
and rounded on his daughter:

"There, if you had only married!... After all you had plenty of chances.
Your three cousins, Mussy, d'Emboise and Caorches, are noblemen of good
descent, allied to the best families, fairly well-off; and they are
still anxious to marry you. Why do you refuse them? Ah, because miss is
a dreamer, a sentimentalist; and because her cousins are too fat, or too
thin, or too coarse for her...."

She was, in fact, a dreamer. Left to her own devices from childhood, she
had read all the books of chivalry, all the colourless romances of
olden-time that littered the ancestral presses; and she looked upon life
as a fairy-tale in which the beauteous maidens are always happy, while
the others wait till death for the bridegroom who does not come. Why
should she marry one of her cousins when they were only after her money,
the millions which she had inherited from her mother? She might as well
remain an old maid and go on dreaming....

She answered, gently:

"You will end by making yourself ill, father. Forget this silly
business."

But how could he forget it? Every morning, some pin-prick renewed his
wound. Three days running, Angélique received a wonderful sheaf of
flowers, with Arsène Lupin's card peeping from it. The duke could not go
to his club but a friend accosted him:

"That was a good one to-day!"

"What was?"

"Why, your son-in-law's latest! Haven't you seen it? Here, read it for
yourself: 'M. Arsène Lupin is petitioning the Council of State for
permission to add his wife's name to his own and to be known henceforth
as Lupin de Sarzeau-Vendôme.'"

And, the next day, he read:


    "As the young bride, by virtue of an unrepealed decree of Charles
    X, bears the title and arms of the Bourbon-Condés, of whom she is
    the heiress-of-line, the eldest son of the Lupins de
    Sarzeau-Vendôme will be styled Prince de Bourbon-Condé."


And, the day after, an advertisement.


    "Exhibition of Mlle. de Sarzeau-Vendôme's trousseau at Messrs.
    ----'s Great Linen Warehouse. Each article marked with initials L.
    S. V."


Then an illustrated paper published a photographic scene: the duke, his
daughter and his son-in-law sitting at a table playing three-handed
auction-bridge.

And the date also was announced with a great flourish of trumpets: the
4th of May.

And particulars were given of the marriage-settlement. Lupin showed
himself wonderfully disinterested. He was prepared to sign, the
newspapers said, with his eyes closed, without knowing the figure of the
dowry.

All these things drove the old duke crazy. His hatred of Lupin assumed
morbid proportions. Much as it went against the grain, he called on the
prefect of police, who advised him to be on his guard:

"We know the gentleman's ways; he is employing one of his favourite
dodges. Forgive the expression, monsieur le duc, but he is 'nursing'
you. Don't fall into the trap."

"What dodge? What trap?" asked the duke, anxiously.

"He is trying to make you lose your head and to lead you, by
intimidation, to do something which you would refuse to do in cold
blood."

"Still, M. Arsène Lupin can hardly hope that I will offer him my
daughter's hand!"

"No, but he hopes that you will commit, to put it mildly, a blunder."

"What blunder?"

"Exactly that blunder which he wants you to commit."

"Then you think, monsieur le préfet ...?"

"I think the best thing you can do, monsieur le duc, is to go home, or,
if all this excitement worries you, to run down to the country and stay
there quietly, without upsetting yourself."

This conversation only increased the old duke's fears. Lupin appeared to
him in the light of a terrible person, who employed diabolical methods
and kept accomplices in every sphere of society. Prudence was the
watchword.

And life, from that moment, became intolerable. The duke grew more
crabbed and silent than ever and denied his door to all his old friends
and even to Angélique's three suitors, her Cousins de Mussy, d'Emboise
and de Caorches, who were none of them on speaking terms with the
others, in consequence of their rivalry, and who were in the habit of
calling, turn and turn about, every week.

For no earthly reason, he dismissed his butler and his coachman. But he
dared not fill their places, for fear of engaging creatures of Arsène
Lupin's; and his own man, Hyacinthe, in whom he had every confidence,
having had him in his service for over forty years, had to take upon
himself the laborious duties of the stables and the pantry.

"Come, father," said Angélique, trying to make him listen to
common-sense. "I really can't see what you are afraid of. No one can
force me into this ridiculous marriage."

"Well, of course, that's not what I'm afraid of."

"What then, father?"

"How can I tell? An abduction! A burglary! An act of violence! There is
no doubt that the villain is scheming something; and there is also no
doubt that we are surrounded by spies."

One afternoon, he received a newspaper in which the following paragraph
was marked in red pencil:


    "The signing of the marriage-contract is fixed for this evening, at
    the Sarzeau-Vendôme town-house. It will be quite a private ceremony
    and only a few privileged friends will be present to congratulate
    the happy pair. The witnesses to the contract on behalf of Mlle. de
    Sarzeau-Vendôme, the Prince de la Rochefoucauld-Limours and the
    Comte de Chartres, will be introduced by M. Arsène Lupin to the two
    gentlemen who have claimed the honour of acting as his groomsmen,
    namely, the prefect of police and the governor of the Santé
    Prison."


Ten minutes later, the duke sent his servant Hyacinthe to the post with
three express messages. At four o'clock, in Angélique's presence, he saw
the three cousins: Mussy, fat, heavy, pasty-faced; d'Emboise, slender,
fresh-coloured and shy: Caorches, short, thin and unhealthy-looking: all
three, old bachelors by this time, lacking distinction in dress or
appearance.

The meeting was a short one. The duke had worked out his whole plan of
campaign, a defensive campaign, of which he set forth the first stage in
explicit terms:

"Angélique and I will leave Paris to-night for our place in Brittany. I
rely on you, my three nephews, to help us get away. You, d'Emboise, will
come and fetch us in your car, with the hood up. You, Mussy, will bring
your big motor and kindly see to the luggage with Hyacinthe, my man.
You, Caorches, will go to the Gare d'Orléans and book our berths in the
sleeping-car for Vannes by the 10.40 train. Is that settled?"

The rest of the day passed without incident. The duke, to avoid any
accidental indiscretion, waited until after dinner to tell Hyacinthe to
pack a trunk and a portmanteau. Hyacinthe was to accompany them, as well
as Angélique's maid.

At nine o'clock, all the other servants went to bed, by their master's
order. At ten minutes to ten, the duke, who was completing his
preparations, heard the sound of a motor-horn. The porter opened the
gates of the courtyard. The duke, standing at the window, recognized
d'Emboise's landaulette:

"Tell him I shall be down presently," he said to Hyacinthe, "and let
mademoiselle know."

In a few minutes, as Hyacinthe did not return, he left his room. But he
was attacked on the landing by two masked men, who gagged and bound him
before he could utter a cry. And one of the men said to him, in a low
voice:

"Take this as a first warning, monsieur le duc. If you persist in
leaving Paris and refusing your consent, it will be a more serious
matter."

And the same man said to his companion:

"Keep an eye on him. I will see to the young lady."

By that time, two other confederates had secured the lady's maid; and
Angélique, herself gagged, lay fainting on a couch in her boudoir.

She came to almost immediately, under the stimulus of a bottle of salts
held to her nostrils; and, when she opened her eyes, she saw bending
over her a young man, in evening-clothes, with a smiling and friendly
face, who said:

"I implore your forgiveness, mademoiselle. All these happenings are a
trifle sudden and this behaviour rather out of the way. But
circumstances often compel us to deeds of which our conscience does not
approve. Pray pardon me."

He took her hand very gently and slipped a broad gold ring on the girl's
finger, saying:

"There, now we are engaged. Never forget the man who gave you this ring.
He entreats you not to run away from him ... and to stay in Paris and
await the proofs of his devotion. Have faith in him."

He said all this in so serious and respectful a voice, with so much
authority and deference, that she had not the strength to resist. Their
eyes met. He whispered:

"The exquisite purity of your eyes! It would be heavenly to live with
those eyes upon one. Now close them...."

He withdrew. His accomplices followed suit. The car drove off, and the
house in the Rue de Varennes remained still and silent until the moment
when Angélique, regaining complete consciousness, called out for the
servants.

They found the duke, Hyacinthe, the lady's maid and the porter and his
wife all tightly bound. A few priceless ornaments had disappeared, as
well as the duke's pocket-book and all his jewellery; tie pins, pearl
studs, watch and so on.

The police were advised without delay. In the morning it appeared that,
on the evening before, d'Emboise, when leaving his house in the
motor-car, was stabbed by his own chauffeur and thrown, half-dead, into
a deserted street. Mussy and Caorches had each received a
telephone-message, purporting to come from the duke, countermanding
their attendance.

Next week, without troubling further about the police investigation,
without obeying the summons of the examining-magistrate, without even
reading Arsène Lupin's letters to the papers on "the Varennes Flight,"
the duke, his daughter and his valet stealthily took a slow train for
Vannes and arrived one evening, at the old feudal castle that towers
over the headland of Sarzeau. The duke at once organized a defence with
the aid of the Breton peasants, true mediæval vassals to a man. On the
fourth day, Mussy arrived; on the fifth, Caorches; and, on the seventh,
d'Emboise, whose wound was not as severe as had been feared.

The duke waited two days longer before communicating to those about him
what, now that his escape had succeeded in spite of Lupin, he called the
second part of his plan. He did so, in the presence of the three
cousins, by a dictatorial order to Angélique, expressed in these
peremptory terms:

"All this bother is upsetting me terribly. I have entered on a struggle
with this man whose daring you have seen for yourself; and the struggle
is killing me. I want to end it at all costs. There is only one way of
doing so, Angélique, and that is for you to release me from all
responsibility by accepting the hand of one of your cousins. Before a
month is out, you must be the wife of Mussy, Caorches or d'Emboise. You
have a free choice. Make your decision."

For four whole days Angélique wept and entreated her father, but in
vain. She felt that he would be inflexible and that she must end by
submitting to his wishes. She accepted:

"Whichever you please, father. I love none of them. So I may as well be
unhappy with one as with the other."

Thereupon a fresh discussion ensued, as the duke wanted to compel her to
make her own choice. She stood firm. Reluctantly and for financial
considerations, he named d'Emboise.

The banns were published without delay.

From that moment, the watch in and around the castle was increased
twofold, all the more inasmuch as Lupin's silence and the sudden
cessation of the campaign which he had been conducting in the press
could not but alarm the Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme. It was obvious that the
enemy was getting ready to strike and would endeavour to oppose the
marriage by one of his characteristic moves.

Nevertheless, nothing happened: nothing two days before the ceremony,
nothing on the day before, nothing on the morning itself. The marriage
took place in the mayor's office, followed by the religious celebration
in church; and the thing was done.

Then and not till then, the duke breathed freely. Notwithstanding his
daughter's sadness, notwithstanding the embarrassed silence of his
son-in-law, who found the situation a little trying, he rubbed his hands
with an air of pleasure, as though he had achieved a brilliant victory:

"Tell them to lower the drawbridge," he said to Hyacinthe, "and to admit
everybody. We have nothing more to fear from that scoundrel."

After the wedding-breakfast, he had wine served out to the peasants and
clinked glasses with them. They danced and sang.

At three o'clock, he returned to the ground-floor rooms. It was the hour
for his afternoon nap. He walked to the guard-room at the end of the
suite. But he had no sooner placed his foot on the threshold than he
stopped suddenly and exclaimed:

"What are you doing here, d'Emboise? Is this a joke?"

D'Emboise was standing before him, dressed as a Breton fisherman, in a
dirty jacket and breeches, torn, patched and many sizes too large for
him.

The duke seemed dumbfounded. He stared with eyes of amazement at that
face which he knew and which, at the same time, roused memories of a
very distant past within his brain. Then he strode abruptly to one of
the windows overlooking the castle-terrace and called:

"Angélique!"

"What is it, father?" she asked, coming forward.

"Where's your husband?"

"Over there, father," said Angélique, pointing to d'Emboise, who was
smoking a cigarette and reading, some way off.

The duke stumbled and fell into a chair, with a great shudder of fright:

"Oh, I shall go mad!"

But the man in the fisherman's garb knelt down before him and said:

"Look at me, uncle. You know me, don't you? I'm your nephew, the one who
used to play here in the old days, the one whom you called Jacquot....
Just think a minute.... Here, look at this scar...."

"Yes, yes," stammered the duke, "I recognize you. It's Jacques. But the
other one...."

He put his hands to his head:

"And yet, no, it can't be ... Explain yourself.... I don't
understand.... I don't want to understand...."

There was a pause, during which the newcomer shut the window and closed
the door leading to the next room. Then he came up to the old duke,
touched him gently on the shoulder, to wake him from his torpor, and
without further preface, as though to cut short any explanation that was
not absolutely necessary, spoke as follows:

"Four years ago, that is to say, in the eleventh year of my voluntary
exile, when I settled in the extreme south of Algeria, I made the
acquaintance, in the course of a hunting-expedition arranged by a big
Arab chief, of a man whose geniality, whose charm of manner, whose
consummate prowess, whose indomitable pluck, whose combined humour and
depth of mind fascinated me in the highest degree. The Comte d'Andrésy
spent six weeks as my guest. After he left, we kept up a correspondence
at regular intervals. I also often saw his name in the papers, in the
society and sporting columns. He was to come back and I was preparing to
receive him, three months ago, when, one evening as I was out riding, my
two Arab attendants flung themselves upon me, bound me, blindfolded me
and took me, travelling day and night, for a week, along deserted roads,
to a bay on the coast, where five men awaited them. I was at once
carried on board a small steam-yacht, which weighed anchor without
delay. There was nothing to tell me who the men were nor what their
object was in kidnapping me. They had locked me into a narrow cabin,
secured by a massive door and lighted by a port-hole protected by two
iron cross-bars. Every morning, a hand was inserted through a hatch
between the next cabin and my own and placed on my bunk two or three
pounds of bread, a good helping of food and a flagon of wine and removed
the remains of yesterday's meals, which I put there for the purpose.
From time to time, at night, the yacht stopped and I heard the sound of
the boat rowing to some harbour and then returning, doubtless with
provisions. Then we set out once more, without hurrying, as though on a
cruise of people of our class, who travel for pleasure and are not
pressed for time. Sometimes, standing on a chair, I would see the
coastline, through my port-hole, too indistinctly, however, to locate
it. And this lasted for weeks. One morning, in the ninth week, I
perceived that the hatch had been left unfastened and I pushed it open.
The cabin was empty at the time. With an effort, I was able to take a
nail-file from a dressing-table. Two weeks after that, by dint of
patient perseverance, I had succeeded in filing through the bars of my
port-hole and I could have escaped that way, only, though I am a good
swimmer, I soon grow tired. I had therefore to choose a moment when the
yacht was not too far from the land. It was not until yesterday that,
perched on my chair, I caught sight of the coast; and, in the evening,
at sunset, I recognized, to my astonishment, the outlines of the
Château de Sarzeau, with its pointed turrets and its square keep. I
wondered if this was the goal of my mysterious voyage. All night long,
we cruised in the offing. The same all day yesterday. At last, this
morning, we put in at a distance which I considered favourable, all the
more so as we were steaming through rocks under cover of which I could
swim unobserved. But, just as I was about to make my escape, I noticed
that the shutter of the hatch, which they thought they had closed, had
once more opened of itself and was flapping against the partition. I
again pushed it ajar from curiosity. Within arm's length was a little
cupboard which I managed to open and in which my hand, groping at
random, laid hold of a bundle of papers. This consisted of letters,
letters containing instructions addressed to the pirates who held me
prisoner. An hour later, when I wriggled through the port-hole and
slipped into the sea, I knew all: the reasons for my abduction, the
means employed, the object in view and the infamous scheme plotted
during the last three months against the Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme and his
daughter. Unfortunately, it was too late. I was obliged, in order not to
be seen from the yacht, to crouch in the cleft of a rock and did not
reach land until mid-day. By the time that I had been to a fisherman's
cabin, exchanged my clothes for his and come on here, it was three
o'clock. On my arrival. I learnt that Angélique's marriage was
celebrated this morning."

The old duke had not spoken a word. With his eyes riveted on the
stranger's, he was listening in ever-increasing dismay. At times, the
thought of the warnings given him by the prefect of police returned to
his mind:

"They're nursing you, monsieur le duc, they are nursing you."

He said, in a hollow voice:

"Speak on ... finish your story.... All this is ghastly.... I don't
understand it yet ... and I feel nervous...."

The stranger resumed:

"I am sorry to say, the story is easily pieced together and is summed up
in a few sentences. It is like this: the Comte d'Andrésy remembered
several things from his stay with me and from the confidences which I
was foolish enough to make to him. First of all, I was your nephew and
yet you had seen comparatively little of me, because I left Sarzeau when
I was quite a child, and since then our intercourse was limited to the
few weeks which I spent here, fifteen years ago, when I proposed for the
hand of my Cousin Angélique; secondly, having broken with the past, I
received no letters; lastly, there was a certain physical resemblance
between d'Andrésy and myself which could be accentuated to such an
extent as to become striking. His scheme was built up on those three
points. He bribed my Arab servants to give him warning in case I left
Algeria. Then he went back to Paris, bearing my name and made up to look
exactly like me, came to see you, was invited to your house once a
fortnight and lived under my name, which thus became one of the many
aliases beneath which he conceals his real identity. Three months ago,
when 'the apple was ripe,' as he says in his letters, he began the
attack by a series of communications to the press; and, at the same
time, fearing no doubt that some newspaper would tell me in Algeria the
part that was being played under my name in Paris, he had me assaulted
by my servants and kidnapped by his confederates. I need not explain any
more in so far as you are concerned, uncle."

The Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme was shaken with a fit of nervous trembling.
The awful truth to which he refused to open his eyes appeared to him in
its nakedness and assumed the hateful countenance of the enemy. He
clutched his nephew's hands and said to him, fiercely, despairingly:

"It's Lupin, is it not?"

"Yes, uncle."

"And it's to him ... it's to him that I have given my daughter!"

"Yes, uncle, to him, who has stolen my name of Jacques d'Emboise from me
and stolen your daughter from you. Angélique is the wedded wife of
Arsène Lupin; and that in accordance with your orders. This letter in
his handwriting bears witness to it. He has upset your whole life,
thrown you off your balance, besieging your hours of waking and your
nights of dreaming, rifling your town-house, until the moment when,
seized with terror, you took refuge here, where, thinking that you would
escape his artifices and his rapacity, you told your daughter to choose
one of her three cousins, Mussy, d'Emboise or Caorches, as her husband.

"But why did she select that one rather than the others?"

"It was you who selected him, uncle."

"At random ... because he had the biggest income...."

"No, not at random, but on the insidious, persistent and very clever
advice of your servant Hyacinthe."

The duke gave a start:

"What! Is Hyacinthe an accomplice?"

"No, not of Arsène Lupin, but of the man whom he believes to be
d'Emboise and who promised to give him a hundred thousand francs within
a week after the marriage."

"Oh, the villain!... He planned everything, foresaw everything...."

"Foresaw everything, uncle, down to shamming an attempt upon his life so
as to avert suspicion, down to shamming a wound received in your
service."

"But with what object? Why all these dastardly tricks?"

"Angélique has a fortune of eleven million francs. Your solicitor in
Paris was to hand the securities next week to the counterfeit d'Emboise,
who had only to realize them forthwith and disappear. But, this very
morning, you yourself were to hand your son-in-law, as a personal
wedding-present, five hundred thousand francs' worth of bearer-stock,
which he has arranged to deliver to one of his accomplices at nine
o'clock this evening, outside the castle, near the Great Oak, so that
they may be negotiated to-morrow morning in Brussels."

The Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme had risen from his seat and was stamping
furiously up and down the room:

"At nine o'clock this evening?" he said. "We'll see about that.... We'll
see about that.... I'll have the gendarmes here before then...."

"Arsène Lupin laughs at gendarmes."

"Let's telegraph to Paris."

"Yes, but how about the five hundred thousand francs?... And, still
worse, uncle, the scandal?... Think of this: your daughter, Angélique de
Sarzeau-Vendôme, married to that swindler, that thief.... No, no, it
would never do...."

"What then?"

"What?..."

The nephew now rose and, stepping to a gun-rack, took down a rifle and
laid it on the table, in front of the duke:

"Away in Algeria, uncle, on the verge of the desert, when we find
ourselves face to face with a wild beast, we do not send for the
gendarmes. We take our rifle and we shoot the wild beast. Otherwise, the
beast would tear us to pieces with its claws."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that, over there, I acquired the habit of dispensing with the
gendarmes. It is a rather summary way of doing justice, but it is the
best way, believe me, and to-day, in the present case, it is the only
way. Once the beast is killed, you and I will bury it in some corner,
unseen and unknown."

"And Angélique?"

"We will tell her later."

"What will become of her?"

"She will be my wife, the wife of the real d'Emboise. I desert her
to-morrow and return to Algeria. The divorce will be granted in two
months' time."

The duke listened, pale and staring, with set jaws. He whispered:

"Are you sure that his accomplices on the yacht will not inform him of
your escape?"

"Not before to-morrow."

"So that ...?"

"So that inevitably, at nine o'clock this evening, Arsène Lupin, on his
way to the Great Oak, will take the patrol-path that follows the old
ramparts and skirts the ruins of the chapel. I shall be there, in the
ruins."

"I shall be there too," said the Duc de Sarzeau-Vendôme, quietly, taking
down a gun.

It was now five o'clock. The duke talked some time longer to his nephew,
examined the weapons, loaded them with fresh cartridges. Then, when
night came, he took d'Emboise through the dark passages to his bedroom
and hid him in an adjoining closet.

Nothing further happened until dinner. The duke forced himself to keep
calm during the meal. From time to time, he stole a glance at his
son-in-law and was surprised at the likeness between him and the real
d'Emboise. It was the same complexion, the same cast of features, the
same cut of hair. Nevertheless, the look of the eye was different,
keener in this case and brighter; and gradually the duke discovered
minor details which had passed unperceived till then and which proved
the fellow's imposture.

The party broke up after dinner. It was eight o'clock. The duke went to
his room and released his nephew. Ten minutes later, under cover of the
darkness, they slipped into the ruins, gun in hand.

Meanwhile, Angélique, accompanied by her husband, had gone to the suite
of rooms which she occupied on the ground-floor of a tower that flanked
the left wing. Her husband stopped at the entrance to the rooms and
said:

"I am going for a short stroll, Angélique. May I come to you here, when
I return?"

"Yes," she replied.

He left her and went up to the first floor, which had been assigned to
him as his quarters. The moment he was alone, he locked the door,
noiselessly opened a window that looked over the landscape and leant
out. He saw a shadow at the foot of the tower, some hundred feet or more
below him. He whistled and received a faint whistle in reply.

He then took from a cupboard a thick leather satchel, crammed with
papers, wrapped it in a piece of black cloth and tied it up. Then he
sat down at the table and wrote:


    "Glad you got my message, for I think it unsafe to walk out of the
    castle with that large bundle of securities. Here they are. You
    will be in Paris, on your motor-cycle, in time to catch the morning
    train to Brussels, where you will hand over the bonds to Z.; and he
    will negotiate them at once.

                                                                 "A. L.

    "P. S.--As you pass by the Great Oak, tell our chaps that I'm
    coming. I have some instructions to give them. But everything is
    going well. No one here has the least suspicion."


He fastened the letter to the parcel and lowered both through the window
with a length of string:

"Good," he said. "That's all right. It's a weight off my mind."

He waited a few minutes longer, stalking up and down the room and
smiling at the portraits of two gallant gentlemen hanging on the wall:

"Horace de Sarzeau-Vendôme, marshal of France.... And you, the Great
Condé ... I salute you, my ancestors both. Lupin de Sarzeau-Vendôme will
show himself worthy of you."

At last, when the time came, he took his hat and went down. But, when he
reached the ground-floor, Angélique burst from her rooms and exclaimed,
with a distraught air:

"I say ... if you don't mind ... I think you had better...."

And then, without saying more, she went in again, leaving a vision of
irresponsible terror in her husband's mind.

"She's out of sorts," he said to himself. "Marriage doesn't suit her."

He lit a cigarette and went out, without attaching importance to an
incident that ought to have impressed him:

"Poor Angélique! This will all end in a divorce...."

The night outside was dark, with a cloudy sky.

The servants were closing the shutters of the castle. There was no light
in the windows, it being the duke's habit to go to bed soon after
dinner.

Lupin passed the gate-keeper's lodge and, as he put his foot on the
drawbridge, said:

"Leave the gate open. I am going for a breath of air; I shall be back
soon."

The patrol-path was on the right and ran along one of the old ramparts,
which used to surround the castle with a second and much larger
enclosure, until it ended at an almost demolished postern-gate. The
park, which skirted a hillock and afterward followed the side of a deep
valley, was bordered on the left by thick coppices.

"What a wonderful place for an ambush!" he said. "A regular cut-throat
spot!"

He stopped, thinking that he heard a noise. But no, it was a rustling of
the leaves. And yet a stone went rattling down the slopes, bounding
against the rugged projections of the rock. But, strange to say, nothing
seemed to disquiet him. The crisp sea-breeze came blowing over the
plains of the headland; and he eagerly filled his lungs with it:

"What a thing it is to be alive!" he thought. "Still young, a member of
the old nobility, a multi-millionaire: what could a man want more?"

At a short distance, he saw against the darkness the yet darker outline
of the chapel, the ruins of which towered above the path. A few drops of
rain began to fall; and he heard a clock strike nine. He quickened his
pace. There was a short descent; then the path rose again. And suddenly,
he stopped once more.

A hand had seized his.

He drew back, tried to release himself.

But some one stepped from the clump of trees against which he was
brushing; and a voice said; "Ssh!... Not a word!..."

He recognized his wife, Angélique:

"What's the matter?" he asked.

She whispered, so low that he could hardly catch the words:

"They are lying in wait for you ... they are in there, in the ruins,
with their guns...."

"Who?"

"Keep quiet.... Listen...."

They stood for a moment without stirring; then she said:

"They are not moving.... Perhaps they never heard me.... Let's go
back...."

"But...."

"Come with me."

Her accent was so imperious that he obeyed without further question. But
suddenly she took fright:

"Run!... They are coming!... I am sure of it!..."

True enough, they heard a sound of footsteps.

Then, swiftly, still holding him by the hand, she dragged him, with
irresistible energy, along a shortcut, following its turns without
hesitation in spite of the darkness and the brambles. And they very soon
arrived at the drawbridge.

She put her arm in his. The gate-keeper touched his cap. They crossed
the courtyard and entered the castle; and she led him to the corner
tower in which both of them had their apartments:

"Come in here," she said.

"To your rooms?"

"Yes."

Two maids were sitting up for her. Their mistress ordered them to retire
to their bedrooms, on the third floor.

Almost immediately after, there was a knock at the door of the outer
room; and a voice called:

"Angélique!"

"Is that you, father?" she asked, suppressing her agitation.

"Yes. Is your husband here?"

"We have just come in."

"Tell him I want to speak to him. Ask him to come to my room. It's
important."

"Very well, father, I'll send him to you."

She listened for a few seconds, then returned to the boudoir where her
husband was and said:

"I am sure my father is still there."

He moved as though to go out:

"In that case, if he wants to speak to me...."

"My father is not alone," she said, quickly, blocking his way.

"Who is with him?"

"His nephew, Jacques d'Emboise."

There was a moment's silence. He looked at her with a certain
astonishment, failing quite to understand his wife's attitude. But,
without pausing to go into the matter:

"Ah, so that dear old d'Emboise is there?" he chuckled. "Then the fat's
in the fire? Unless, indeed...."

"My father knows everything," she said. "I overheard a conversation
between them just now. His nephew has read certain letters.... I
hesitated at first about telling you.... Then I thought that my
duty...."

He studied her afresh. But, at once conquered by the queerness of the
situation, he burst out laughing:

"What? Don't my friends on board ship burn my letters? And they have let
their prisoner escape? The idiots! Oh, when you don't see to everything
yourself!... No matter, its distinctly humorous.... D'Emboise versus
d'Emboise.... Oh, but suppose I were no longer recognized? Suppose
d'Emboise himself were to confuse me with himself?"

He turned to a wash-hand-stand, took a towel, dipped it in the basin and
soaped it and, in the twinkling of an eye, wiped the make-up from his
face and altered the set of his hair:

"That's it," he said, showing himself to Angélique under the aspect in
which she had seen him on the night of the burglary in Paris. "I feel
more comfortable like this for a discussion with my father-in-law."

"Where are you going?" she cried, flinging herself in front of the door.

"Why, to join the gentlemen."

"You shall not pass!"

"Why not?"

"Suppose they kill you?"

"Kill me?"

"That's what they mean to do, to kill you ... to hide your body
somewhere.... Who would know of it?"

"Very well," he said, "from their point of view, they are quite right.
But, if I don't go to them, they will come here. That door won't stop
them.... Nor you, I'm thinking. Therefore, it's better to have done with
it."

"Follow me," commanded Angélique.

She took up the lamp that lit the room, went into her bedroom, pushed
aside the wardrobe, which slid easily on hidden castors, pulled back an
old tapestry-hanging, and said:

"Here is a door that has not been used for years. My father believes the
key to be lost. I have it here. Unlock the door with it. A staircase in
the wall will take you to the bottom of the tower. You need only draw
the bolts of another door and you will be free."

He could hardly believe his ears. Suddenly, he grasped the meaning of
Angélique's whole behaviour. In front of that sad, plain, but
wonderfully gentle face, he stood for a moment discountenanced, almost
abashed. He no longer thought of laughing. A feeling of respect, mingled
with remorse and kindness, overcame him.

"Why are you saving me?" he whispered.

"You are my husband."

He protested:

"No, no ... I have stolen that title. The law will never recognize my
marriage."

"My father does not want a scandal," she said.

"Just so," he replied, sharply, "just so. I foresaw that; and that was
why I had your cousin d'Emboise near at hand. Once I disappear, he
becomes your husband. He is the man you have married in the eyes of
men."

"You are the man I have married in the eyes of the Church."

"The Church! The Church! There are means of arranging matters with the
Church.... Your marriage can be annulled."

"On what pretext that we can admit?"

He remained silent, thinking over all those points which he had not
considered, all those points which were trivial and absurd for him, but
which were serious for her, and he repeated several times:

"This is terrible ... this is terrible.... I should have
anticipated...."

And, suddenly, seized with an idea, he clapped his hands and cried:

"There, I have it! I'm hand in glove with one of the chief figures at
the Vatican. The Pope never refuses me anything. I shall obtain an
audience and I have no doubt that the Holy Father, moved by my
entreaties...."

His plan was so humorous and his delight so artless that Angélique could
not help smiling; and she said:

"I am your wife in the eyes of God."

She gave him a look that showed neither scorn nor animosity, nor even
anger; and he realized that she omitted to see in him the outlaw and the
evil-doer and remembered only the man who was her husband and to whom
the priest had bound her until the hour of death.

He took a step toward her and observed her more attentively. She did not
lower her eyes at first. But she blushed. And never had he seen so
pathetic a face, marked with such modesty and such dignity. He said to
her, as on that first evening in Paris:

"Oh, your eyes ... the calm and sadness of your eyes ... the beauty of
your eyes!"

She dropped her head and stammered:

"Go away ... go ..."

In the presence of her confusion, he received a quick intuition of the
deeper feelings that stirred her, unknown to herself. To that spinster
soul, of which he recognized the romantic power of imagination, the
unsatisfied yearnings, the poring over old-world books, he suddenly
represented, in that exceptional moment and in consequence of the
unconventional circumstances of their meetings, somebody special, a
Byronic hero, a chivalrous brigand of romance. One evening, in spite of
all obstacles, he, the world-famed adventurer, already ennobled in song
and story and exalted by his own audacity, had come to her and slipped
the magic ring upon her finger: a mystic and passionate betrothal, as in
the days of the _Corsair_ and _Hernani_.... Greatly moved and touched,
he was on the verge of giving way to an enthusiastic impulse and
exclaiming:

"Let us go away together!... Let us fly!... You are my bride ... my
wife.... Share my dangers, my sorrows and my joys.... It will be a
strange and vigorous, a proud and magnificent life...."

But Angélique's eyes were raised to his again; and they were so pure and
so noble that he blushed in his turn. This was not the woman to whom
such words could be addressed.

He whispered:

"Forgive me.... I am a contemptible wretch.... I have wrecked your
life...."

"No," she replied, softly. "On the contrary, you have shown me where my
real life lies."

He was about to ask her to explain. But she had opened the door and was
pointing the way to him. Nothing more could be spoken between them. He
went out without a word, bowing very low as he passed.

       *       *       *       *       *

A month later, Angélique de Sarzeau-Vendôme, Princesse de Bourbon-Condé,
lawful wife of Arsène Lupin, took the veil and, under the name of Sister
Marie-Auguste, buried herself within the walls of the Visitation
Convent.

On the day of the ceremony, the mother superior of the convent received
a heavy sealed envelope containing a letter with the following words:


    "For Sister Marie-Auguste's poor."


Enclosed with the letter were five hundred bank-notes of a thousand
francs each.



IX

THE INVISIBLE PRISONER


One day, at about four o'clock, as evening was drawing in, Farmer
Goussot, with his four sons, returned from a day's shooting. They were
stalwart men, all five of them, long of limb, broad-chested, with faces
tanned by sun and wind. And all five displayed, planted on an enormous
neck and shoulders, the same small head with the low forehead, thin
lips, beaked nose and hard and repellent cast of countenance. They were
feared and disliked by all around them. They were a money-grubbing,
crafty family; and their word was not to be trusted.

On reaching the old barbican-wall that surrounds the Héberville
property, the farmer opened a narrow, massive door, putting the big key
back in his pocket after his sons had passed in. And he walked behind
them, along the path that led through the orchards. Here and there stood
great trees, stripped by the autumn winds, and clumps of pines, the last
survivors of the ancient park now covered by old Goussot's farm.

One of the sons said:

"I hope mother has lit a log or two."

"There's smoke coming from the chimney," said the father.

The outhouses and the homestead showed at the end of a lawn; and, above
them, the village church, whose steeple seemed to prick the clouds that
trailed along the sky.

"All the guns unloaded?" asked old Goussot.

"Mine isn't," said the eldest. "I slipped in a bullet to blow a
kestrel's head off...."

He was the one who was proudest of his skill. And he said to his
brothers:

"Look at that bough, at the top of the cherry tree. See me snap it off."

On the bough sat a scarecrow, which had been there since spring and
which protected the leafless branches with its idiot arms.

He raised his gun and fired.

The figure came tumbling down with large, comic gestures, and was caught
on a big, lower branch, where it remained lying stiff on its stomach,
with a great top hat on its head of rags and its hay-stuffed legs
swaying from right to left above some water that flowed past the cherry
tree through a wooden trough.

They all laughed. The father approved:

"A fine shot, my lad. Besides, the old boy was beginning to annoy me. I
couldn't take my eyes from my plate at meals without catching sight of
that oaf...."

They went a few steps farther. They were not more than thirty yards from
the house, when the father stopped suddenly and said:

"Hullo! What's up?"

The sons also had stopped and stood listening. One of them said, under
his breath:

"It comes from the house ... from the linen-room...."

And another spluttered:

"Sounds like moans.... And mother's alone!"

Suddenly, a frightful scream rang out. All five rushed forward. Another
scream, followed by cries of despair.

"We're here! We're coming!" shouted the eldest, who was leading.

And, as it was a roundabout way to the door, he smashed in a window with
his fist and sprang into the old people's bedroom. The room next to it
was the linen-room, in which Mother Goussot spent most of her time.

"Damnation!" he said, seeing her lying on the floor, with blood all over
her face. "Dad! Dad!"

"What? Where is she?" roared old Goussot, appearing on the scene. "Good
lord, what's this?... What have they done to your mother?"

She pulled herself together and, with outstretched arm, stammered:

"Run after him!... This way!... This way!... I'm all right ... only a
scratch or two.... But run, you! He's taken the money."

The father and sons gave a bound:

"He's taken the money!" bellowed old Goussot, rushing to the door to
which his wife was pointing. "He's taken the money! Stop thief!"

But a sound of several voices rose at the end of the passage through
which the other three sons were coming:

"I saw him! I saw him!"

"So did I! He ran up the stairs."

"No, there he is, he's coming down again!"

A mad steeplechase shook every floor in the house. Farmer Goussot, on
reaching the end of the passage, caught sight of a man standing by the
front door trying to open it. If he succeeded, it meant safety, escape
through the market square and the back lanes of the village.

Interrupted as he was fumbling at the bolts, the man turning stupid,
lost his head, charged at old Goussot and sent him spinning, dodged the
eldest brother and, pursued by the four sons, doubled back down the long
passage, ran into the old couple's bedroom, flung his legs through the
broken window and disappeared.

The sons rushed after him across the lawns and orchards, now darkened by
the falling night.

"The villain's done for," chuckled old Goussot. "There's no way out for
him. The walls are too high. He's done for, the scoundrel!"

The two farm-hands returned, at that moment, from the village; and he
told them what had happened and gave each of them a gun:

"If the swine shows his nose anywhere near the house," he said, "let fly
at him. Give him no mercy!"

He told them where to stand, went to make sure that the farm-gates,
which were only used for the carts, were locked, and, not till then,
remembered that his wife might perhaps be in need of aid:

"Well, mother, how goes it?"

"Where is he? Have you got him?" she asked, in a breath.

"Yes, we're after him. The lads must have collared him by now."

The news quite restored her; and a nip of rum gave her the strength to
drag herself to the bed, with old Goussot's assistance, and to tell her
story. For that matter, there was not much to tell. She had just lit the
fire in the living-hall; and she was knitting quietly at her bedroom
window, waiting for the men to return, when she thought that she heard
a slight grating sound in the linen-room next door:

"I must have left the cat in there," she thought to herself.

She went in, suspecting nothing, and was astonished to see the two doors
of one of the linen-cupboards, the one in which they hid their money,
wide open. She walked up to it, still without suspicion. There was a man
there, hiding, with his back to the shelves.

"But how did he get in?" asked old Goussot.

"Through the passage, I suppose. We never keep the back door shut."

"And then did he go for you?"

"No, I went for him. He tried to get away."

"You should have let him."

"And what about the money?"

"Had he taken it by then?"

"Had he taken it! I saw the bundle of bank-notes in his hands, the
sweep! I would have let him kill me sooner.... Oh, we had a sharp
tussle, I give you my word!"

"Then he had no weapon?'

"No more than I did. We had our fingers, our nails and our teeth. Look
here, where he bit me. And I yelled and screamed! Only, I'm an old woman
you see.... I had to let go of him...."

"Do you know the man?"

"I'm pretty sure it was old Trainard."

"The tramp? Why, of course it's old Trainard!" cried the farmer. "I
thought I knew him too.... Besides, he's been hanging round the house
these last three days. The old vagabond must have smelt the money. Aha,
Trainard, my man, we shall see some fun! A number-one hiding in the
first place; and then the police.... I say, mother, you can get up now,
can't you? Then go and fetch the neighbours.... Ask them to run for the
gendarmes.... By the by, the attorney's youngster has a bicycle.... How
that damned old Trainard scooted! He's got good legs for his age, he
has. He can run like a hare!"

Goussot was holding his sides, revelling in the occurrence. He risked
nothing by waiting. No power on earth could help the tramp escape or
keep him from the sound thrashing which he had earned and from being
conveyed, under safe escort, to the town gaol.

The farmer took a gun and went out to his two labourers:

"Anything fresh?"

"No, Farmer Goussot, not yet."

"We sha'n't have long to wait. Unless old Nick carries him over the
walls...."

From time to time, they heard the four brothers hailing one another in
the distance. The old bird was evidently making a fight for it, was
more active than they would have thought. Still, with sturdy fellows
like the Goussot brothers....

However, one of them returned, looking rather crestfallen, and made no
secret of his opinion:

"It's no use keeping on at it for the present. It's pitch dark. The old
chap must have crept into some hole. We'll hunt him out to-morrow."

"To-morrow! Why, lad, you're off your chump!" protested the farmer.

The eldest son now appeared, quite out of breath, and was of the same
opinion as his brother. Why not wait till next day, seeing that the
ruffian was as safe within the demesne as between the walls of a prison?

"Well, I'll go myself," cried old Goussot. "Light me a lantern,
somebody!"

But, at that moment, three gendarmes arrived; and a number of village
lads also came up to hear the latest.

The sergeant of gendarmes was a man of method. He first insisted on
hearing the whole story, in full detail; then he stopped to think; then
he questioned the four brothers, separately, and took his time for
reflection after each deposition. When he had learnt from them that the
tramp had fled toward the back of the estate, that he had been lost
sight of repeatedly and that he had finally disappeared near a place
known as the Crows' Knoll, he meditated once more and announced his
conclusion:

"Better wait. Old Trainard might slip through our hands, amidst all the
confusion of a pursuit in the dark, and then good-night, everybody!"

The farmer shrugged his shoulders and, cursing under his breath, yielded
to the sergeant's arguments. That worthy organized a strict watch,
distributed the brothers Goussot and the lads from the village under his
men's eyes, made sure that the ladders were locked away and established
his headquarters in the dining-room, where he and Farmer Goussot sat and
nodded over a decanter of old brandy.

The night passed quietly. Every two hours, the sergeant went his rounds
and inspected the posts. There were no alarms. Old Trainard did not
budge from his hole.

The battle began at break of day.

It lasted four hours.

In those four hours, the thirteen acres of land within the walls were
searched, explored, gone over in every direction by a score of men who
beat the bushes with sticks, trampled over the tall grass, rummaged in
the hollows of the trees and scattered the heaps of dry leaves. And old
Trainard remained invisible.

"Well, this is a bit thick!" growled Goussot.

"Beats me altogether," retorted the sergeant.

And indeed there was no explaining the phenomenon. For, after all, apart
from a few old clumps of laurels and spindle-trees, which were
thoroughly beaten, all the trees were bare. There was no building, no
shed, no stack, nothing, in short, that could serve as a hiding-place.

As for the wall, a careful inspection convinced even the sergeant that
it was physically impossible to scale it.

In the afternoon, the investigations were begun all over again in the
presence of the examining-magistrate and the public-prosecutor's deputy.
The results were no more successful. Nay, worse, the officials looked
upon the matter as so suspicious that they could not restrain their
ill-humour and asked:

"Are you quite sure, Farmer Goussot, that you and your sons haven't been
seeing double?"

"And what about my wife?" retorted the farmer, red with anger. "Did she
see double when the scamp had her by the throat? Go and look at the
marks, if you doubt me!"

"Very well. But then where is the scamp?"

"Here, between those four walls."

"Very well. Then ferret him out. We give it up. It's quite clear, that
if a man were hidden within the precincts of this farm, we should have
found him by now."

"I swear I'll lay hands on him, true as I stand here!" shouted Farmer
Goussot. "It shall not be said that I've been robbed of six thousand
francs. Yes, six thousand! There were three cows I sold; and then the
wheat-crop; and then the apples. Six thousand-franc notes, which I was
just going to take to the bank. Well, I swear to Heaven that the money's
as good as in my pocket!"

"That's all right and I wish you luck," said the examining-magistrate,
as he went away, followed by the deputy and the gendarmes.

The neighbours also walked off in a more or less facetious mood. And, by
the end of the afternoon, none remained but the Goussots and the two
farm-labourers.

Old Goussot at once explained his plan. By day, they were to search. At
night, they were to keep an incessant watch. It would last as long as it
had to. Hang it, old Trainard was a man like other men; and men have to
eat and drink! Old Trainard must needs, therefore, come out of his earth
to eat and drink.

"At most," said Goussot, "he can have a few crusts of bread in his
pocket, or even pull up a root or two at night. But, as far as drink's
concerned, no go. There's only the spring. And he'll be a clever dog if
he gets near that."

He himself, that evening, took up his stand near the spring. Three
hours later, his eldest son relieved him. The other brothers and the
farm-hands slept in the house, each taking his turn of the watch and
keeping all the lamps and candles lit, so that there might be no
surprise.

So it went on for fourteen consecutive nights. And for fourteen days,
while two of the men and Mother Goussot remained on guard, the five
others explored the Héberville ground.

At the end of that fortnight, not a sign.

The farmer never ceased storming. He sent for a retired
detective-inspector who lived in the neighbouring town. The inspector
stayed with him for a whole week. He found neither old Trainard nor the
least clue that could give them any hope of finding old Trainard.

"It's a bit thick!" repeated Farmer Goussot. "For he's there, the
rascal! As far as being anywhere goes, he's there. So...."

Planting himself on the threshold, he railed at the enemy at the top of
his voice:

"You blithering idiot, would you rather croak in your hole than fork out
the money? Then croak, you pig!"

And Mother Goussot, in her turn, yelped, in her shrill voice:

"Is it prison you're afraid of? Hand over the notes and you can hook
it!"

But old Trainard did not breathe a word; and the husband and wife tired
their lungs in vain.

Shocking days passed. Farmer Goussot could no longer sleep, lay
shivering with fever. The sons became morose and quarrelsome and never
let their guns out of their hands, having no other idea but to shoot the
tramp.

It was the one topic of conversation in the village; and the Goussot
story, from being local at first, soon went the round of the press.
Newspaper-reporters came from the assize-town, from Paris itself, and
were rudely shown the door by Farmer Goussot.

"Each man his own house," he said. "You mind your business. I mind mine.
It's nothing to do with any one."

"Still, Farmer Goussot...."

"Go to blazes!"

And he slammed the door in their face.

Old Trainard had now been hidden within the walls of Héberville for
something like four weeks. The Goussots continued their search as
doggedly and confidently as ever, but with daily decreasing hope, as
though they were confronted with one of those mysterious obstacles which
discourage human effort. And the idea that they would never see their
money again began to take root in them.

       *       *       *       *       *

One fine morning, at about ten o'clock, a motor-car, crossing the
village square at full speed, broke down and came to a dead stop.

The driver, after a careful inspection, declared that the repairs would
take some little time, whereupon the owner of the car resolved to wait
at the inn and lunch. He was a gentleman on the right side of forty,
with close-cropped side-whiskers and a pleasant expression of face; and
he soon made himself at home with the people at the inn.

Of course, they told him the story of the Goussots. He had not heard it
before, as he had been abroad; but it seemed to interest him greatly. He
made them give him all the details, raised objections, discussed various
theories with a number of people who were eating at the same table and
ended by exclaiming:

"Nonsense! It can't be so intricate as all that. I have had some
experience of this sort of thing. And, if I were on the premises...."

"That's easily arranged," said the inn-keeper. "I know Farmer
Goussot.... He won't object...."

The request was soon made and granted. Old Goussot was in one of those
frames of mind when we are less disposed to protest against outside
interference. His wife, at any rate, was very firm:

"Let the gentleman come, if he wants to."

The gentleman paid his bill and instructed his driver to try the car on
the high-road as soon as the repairs were finished:

"I shall want an hour," he said, "no more. Be ready in an hour's time."

Then he went to Farmer Goussot's.

He did not say much at the farm. Old Goussot, hoping against hope, was
lavish with information, took his visitor along the walls down to the
little door opening on the fields, produced the key and gave minute
details of all the searches that had been made so far.

Oddly enough, the stranger, who hardly spoke, seemed not to listen
either. He merely looked, with a rather vacant gaze. When they had been
round the estate, old Goussot asked, anxiously:

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"Do you think you know?"

The visitor stood for a moment without answering. Then he said:

"No, nothing."

"Why, of course not!" cried the farmer, throwing up his arms. "How
should you know! It's all hanky-panky. Shall I tell you what I think?
Well, that old Trainard has been so jolly clever that he's lying dead in
his hole ... and the bank-notes are rotting with him. Do you hear? You
can take my word for it."

The gentleman said, very calmly:

"There's only one thing that interests me. The tramp, all said and done,
was free at night and able to feed on what he could pick up. But how
about drinking?"

"Out of the question!" shouted the farmer. "Quite out of the question!
There's no water except this; and we have kept watch beside it every
night."

"It's a spring. Where does it rise?"

"Here, where we stand."

"Is there enough pressure to bring it into the pool of itself?"

"Yes."

"And where does the water go when it runs out of the pool?"

"Into this pipe here, which goes under ground and carries it to the
house, for use in the kitchen. So there's no way of drinking, seeing
that we were there and that the spring is twenty yards from the house."

"Hasn't it rained during the last four weeks?"

"Not once: I've told you that already."

The stranger went to the spring and examined it. The trough was formed
of a few boards of wood joined together just above the ground; and the
water ran through it, slow and clear.

"The water's not more than a foot deep, is it?" he asked.

In order to measure it, he picked up from the grass a straw which he
dipped into the pool. But, as he was stooping, he suddenly broke off and
looked around him.

"Oh, how funny!" he said, bursting into a peal of laughter.

"Why, what's the matter?" spluttered old Goussot, rushing toward the
pool, as though a man could have lain hidden between those narrow
boards.

And Mother Goussot clasped her hands.

"What is it? Have you seen him? Where is he?"

"Neither in it nor under it," replied the stranger, who was still
laughing.

He made for the house, eagerly followed by the farmer, the old woman and
the four sons. The inn-keeper was there also, as were the people from
the inn who had been watching the stranger's movements. And there was a
dead silence, while they waited for the extraordinary disclosure.

"It's as I thought," he said, with an amused expression. "The old chap
had to quench his thirst somewhere; and, as there was only the
spring...."

"Oh, but look here," growled Farmer Goussot, "we should have seen him!"

"It was at night."

"We should have heard him ... and seen him too, as we were close by."

"So was he."

"And he drank the water from the pool?"

"Yes."

"How?"

"From a little way off."

"With what?"

"With this."

And the stranger showed the straw which he had picked up:

"There, here's the straw for the customer's long drink. You will see,
there's more of it than usual: in fact, it is made of three straws stuck
into one another. That was the first thing I noticed: those three straws
fastened together. The proof is conclusive."

"But, hang it all, the proof of what?" cried Farmer Goussot, irritably.

The stranger took a shotgun from the rack.

"Is it loaded?" he asked.

"Yes," said the youngest of the brothers. "I use it to kill the sparrows
with, for fun. It's small shot."

"Capital! A peppering where it won't hurt him will do the trick."

His face suddenly assumed a masterful look. He gripped the farmer by the
arm and rapped out, in an imperious tone:

"Listen to me, Farmer Goussot. I'm not here to do policeman's work; and
I won't have the poor beggar locked up at any price. Four weeks of
starvation and fright is good enough for anybody. So you've got to swear
to me, you and your sons, that you'll let him off without hurting him."

"He must hand over the money!"

"Well, of course. Do you swear?"

"I swear."

The gentleman walked back to the door-sill, at the entrance to the
orchard. He took a quick aim, pointing his gun a little in the air, in
the direction of the cherry tree which overhung the spring. He fired. A
hoarse cry rang from the tree; and the scarecrow which had been
straddling the main branch for a month past came tumbling to the ground,
only to jump up at once and make off as fast as its legs could carry it.

There was a moment's amazement, followed by outcries. The sons darted in
pursuit and were not long in coming up with the runaway, hampered as he
was by his rags and weakened by privation. But the stranger was already
protecting him against their wrath:

"Hands off there! This man belongs to me. I won't have him touched.... I
hope I haven't stung you up too much, Trainard?"

Standing on his straw legs wrapped round with strips of tattered cloth,
with his arms and his whole body clad in the same materials, his head
swathed in linen, tightly packed like a sausage, the old chap still had
the stiff appearance of a lay-figure. And the whole effect was so
ludicrous and so unexpected that the onlookers screamed with laughter.

The stranger unbound his head; and they saw a veiled mask of tangled
gray beard encroaching on every side upon a skeleton face lit up by two
eyes burning with fever.

The laughter was louder than ever.

"The money! The six notes!" roared the farmer.

The stranger kept him at a distance:

"One moment ... we'll give you that back, sha'n't we, Trainard?"

And, taking his knife and cutting away the straw and cloth, he jested,
cheerily:

"You poor old beggar, what a guy you look! But how on earth did you
manage to pull off that trick? You must be confoundedly clever, or else
you had the devil's own luck.... So, on the first night, you used the
breathing-time they left you to rig yourself in these togs! Not a bad
idea. Who could ever suspect a scarecrow?... They were so accustomed to
seeing it stuck up in its tree! But, poor old daddy, how uncomfortable
you must have felt, lying flat up there on your stomach, with your arms
and legs dangling down! All day long, like that! The deuce of an
attitude! And how you must have been put to it, when you ventured to
move a limb, eh? And how you must have funked going to sleep!... And
then you had to eat! And drink! And you heard the sentry and felt the
barrel of his gun within a yard of your nose! Brrrr!... But the
trickiest of all, you know, was your bit of straw!... Upon my word, when
I think that, without a sound, without a movement so to speak, you had
to fish out lengths of straw from your toggery, fix them end to end, let
your apparatus down to the water and suck up the heavenly moisture drop
by drop.... Upon my word, one could scream with admiration.... Well
done, Trainard...." And he added, between his teeth, "Only you're in a
very unappetizing state, my man. Haven't you washed yourself all this
month, you old pig? After all, you had as much water as you wanted!...
Here, you people, I hand him over to you. I'm going to wash my hands,
that's what I'm going to do."

Farmer Goussot and his four sons grabbed at the prey which he was
abandoning to them:

"Now then, come along, fork out the money."

Dazed as he was, the tramp still managed to simulate astonishment.

"Don't put on that idiot look," growled the farmer. "Come on. Out with
the six notes...."

"What?... What do you want of me?" stammered old Trainard.

"The money ... on the nail...."

"What money?"

"The bank-notes."

"The bank-notes?"

"Oh, I'm getting sick of you! Here, lads...."

They laid the old fellow flat, tore off the rags that composed his
clothes, felt and searched him all over.

There was nothing on him.

"You thief and you robber!" yelled old Goussot. "What have you done with
it?"

The old beggar seemed more dazed than ever. Too cunning to confess, he
kept on whining:

"What do you want of me?... Money? I haven't three sous to call my
own...."

But his eyes, wide with wonder, remained fixed upon his clothes; and he
himself seemed not to understand.

The Goussots' rage could no longer be restrained. They rained blows upon
him, which did not improve matters. But the farmer was convinced that
Trainard had hidden the money before turning himself into the scarecrow:

"Where have you put it, you scum? Out with it! In what part of the
orchard have you hidden it?"

"The money?" repeated the tramp with a stupid look.

"Yes, the money! The money which you've buried somewhere.... Oh, if we
don't find it, your goose is cooked!... We have witnesses, haven't
we?... All of you, friends, eh? And then the gentleman...."

He turned, with the intention of addressing the stranger, in the
direction of the spring, which was thirty or forty steps to the left.
And he was quite surprised not to see him washing his hands there:

"Has he gone?" he asked.

Some one answered:

"No, he lit a cigarette and went for a stroll in the orchard."

"Oh, that's all right!" said the farmer. "He's the sort to find the
notes for us, just as he found the man."

"Unless ..." said a voice.

"Unless what?" echoed the farmer. "What do you mean? Have you something
in your head? Out with it, then! What is it?"

But he interrupted himself suddenly, seized with a doubt; and there was
a moment's silence. The same idea dawned on all the country-folk. The
stranger's arrival at Héberville, the breakdown of his motor, his
manner of questioning the people at the inn and of gaining admission to
the farm: were not all these part and parcel of a put-up job, the trick
of a cracksman who had learnt the story from the papers and who had come
to try his luck on the spot?...

"Jolly smart of him!" said the inn-keeper. "He must have taken the money
from old Trainard's pocket, before our eyes, while he was searching
him."

"Impossible!" spluttered Farmer Goussot. "He would have been seen going
out that way ... by the house ... whereas he's strolling in the
orchard."

Mother Goussot, all of a heap, suggested:

"The little door at the end, down there?..."

"The key never leaves me."

"But you showed it to him."

"Yes; and I took it back again.... Look, here it is."

He clapped his hand to his pocket and uttered a cry:

"Oh, dash it all, it's gone!... He's sneaked it!..."

He at once rushed away, followed and escorted by his sons and a number
of the villagers.

When they were halfway down the orchard, they heard the throb of a
motor-car, obviously the one belonging to the stranger, who had given
orders to his chauffeur to wait for him at that lower entrance.

When the Goussots reached the door, they saw scrawled with a brick, on
the worm-eaten panel, the two words:


                          "ARSÈNE LUPIN."


       *       *       *       *       *

Stick to it as the angry Goussots might, they found it impossible to
prove that old Trainard had stolen any money. Twenty persons had to bear
witness that, when all was said, nothing was discovered on his person.
He escaped with a few months' imprisonment for the assault.

He did not regret them. As soon as he was released, he was secretly
informed that, every quarter, on a given date, at a given hour, under a
given milestone on a given road, he would find three gold louis.

To a man like old Trainard that means wealth.



X

EDITH SWAN-NECK


"Arsène Lupin, what's your real opinion of Inspector Ganimard?"

"A very high one, my dear fellow."

"A very high one? Then why do you never miss a chance of turning him
into ridicule?"

"It's a bad habit; and I'm sorry for it. But what can I say? It's the
way of the world. Here's a decent detective-chap, here's a whole pack of
decent men, who stand for law and order, who protect us against the
apaches, who risk their lives for honest people like you and me; and we
have nothing to give them in return but flouts and gibes. It's
preposterous!"

"Bravo, Lupin! you're talking like a respectable ratepayer!"

"What else am I? I may have peculiar views about other people's
property; but I assure you that it's very different when my own's at
stake. By Jove, it doesn't do to lay hands on what belongs to me! Then
I'm out for blood! Aha! It's _my_ pocket, _my_ money, _my_ watch ...
hands off! I have the soul of a conservative, my dear fellow, the
instincts of a retired tradesman and a due respect for every sort of
tradition and authority. And that is why Ganimard inspires me with no
little gratitude and esteem."

"But not much admiration?"

"Plenty of admiration too. Over and above the dauntless courage which
comes natural to all those gentry at the Criminal Investigation
Department, Ganimard possesses very sterling qualities: decision,
insight and judgment. I have watched him at work. He's somebody, when
all's said. Do you know the Edith Swan-neck story, as it was called?"

"I know as much as everybody knows."

"That means that you don't know it at all. Well, that job was, I
daresay, the one which I thought out most cleverly, with the utmost care
and the utmost precaution, the one which I shrouded in the greatest
darkness and mystery, the one which it took the biggest generalship to
carry through. It was a regular game of chess, played according to
strict scientific and mathematical rules. And yet Ganimard ended by
unravelling the knot. Thanks to him, they know the truth to-day on the
Quai des Orfèvres. And it is a truth quite out of the common, I assure
you."

"May I hope to hear it?"

"Certainly ... one of these days ... when I have time.... But the
Brunelli is dancing at the Opera to-night; and, if she were not to see
me in my stall ...!"

I do not meet Lupin often. He confesses with difficulty, when it suits
him. It was only gradually, by snatches, by odds and ends of
confidences, that I was able to obtain the different incidents and to
piece the story together in all its details.

       *       *       *       *       *

The main features are well known and I will merely mention the facts.

Three years ago, when the train from Brest arrived at Rennes, the door
of one of the luggage vans was found smashed in. This van had been
booked by Colonel Sparmiento, a rich Brazilian, who was travelling with
his wife in the same train. It contained a complete set of
tapestry-hangings. The case in which one of these was packed had been
broken open and the tapestry had disappeared.

Colonel Sparmiento started proceedings against the railway-company,
claiming heavy damages, not only for the stolen tapestry, but also for
the loss in value which the whole collection suffered in consequence of
the theft.

The police instituted inquiries. The company offered a large reward. A
fortnight later, a letter which had come undone in the post was opened
by the authorities and revealed the fact that the theft had been
carried out under the direction of Arsène Lupin and that a package was
to leave next day for the United States. That same evening, the tapestry
was discovered in a trunk deposited in the cloak-room at the Gare
Saint-Lazare.

The scheme, therefore, had miscarried. Lupin felt the disappointment so
much that he vented his ill-humour in a communication to Colonel
Sparmiento, ending with the following words, which were clear enough for
anybody:


    "It was very considerate of me to take only one. Next time, I shall
    take the twelve. _Verbum sap._

                                                 "A. L."


Colonel Sparmiento had been living for some months in a house standing
at the end of a small garden at the corner of the Rue de la Faisanderie
and the Rue Dufresnoy. He was a rather thick-set, broad-shouldered man,
with black hair and a swarthy skin, always well and quietly dressed. He
was married to an extremely pretty but delicate Englishwoman, who was
much upset by the business of the tapestries. From the first she
implored her husband to sell them for what they would fetch. The Colonel
had much too forcible and dogged a nature to yield to what he had every
right to describe as a woman's fancies. He sold nothing, but he
redoubled his precautions and adopted every measure that was likely to
make an attempt at burglary impossible.

To begin with, so that he might confine his watch to the garden-front,
he walled up all the windows on the ground-floor and the first floor
overlooking the Rue Dufresnoy. Next, he enlisted the services of a firm
which made a speciality of protecting private houses against robberies.
Every window of the gallery in which the tapestries were hung was fitted
with invisible burglar alarms, the position of which was known, to none
but himself. These, at the least touch, switched on all the electric
lights and set a whole system of bells and gongs ringing.

In addition to this, the insurance companies to which he applied refused
to grant policies to any considerable amount unless he consented to let
three men, supplied by the companies and paid by himself, occupy the
ground-floor of his house every night. They selected for the purpose
three ex-detectives, tried and trustworthy men, all of whom hated Lupin
like poison. As for the servants, the colonel had known them for years
and was ready to vouch for them.

After taking these steps and organizing the defence of the house as
though it were a fortress, the colonel gave a great house-warming, a
sort of private view, to which he invited the members of both his
clubs, as well as a certain number of ladies, journalists, art-patrons
and critics.

They felt, as they passed through the garden-gate, much as if they were
walking into a prison. The three private detectives, posted at the foot
of the stairs, asked for each visitor's invitation card and eyed him up
and down suspiciously, making him feel as though they were going to
search his pockets or take his finger-prints.

The colonel, who received his guests on the first floor, made laughing
apologies and seemed delighted at the opportunity of explaining the
arrangements which he had invented to secure the safety of his hangings.
His wife stood by him, looking charmingly young and pretty, fair-haired,
pale and sinuous, with a sad and gentle expression, the expression of
resignation often worn by those who are threatened by fate.

When all the guests had come, the garden-gates and the hall-doors were
closed. Then everybody filed into the middle gallery, which was reached
through two steel doors, while its windows, with their huge shutters,
were protected by iron bars. This was where the twelve tapestries were
kept.

They were matchless works of art and, taking their inspiration from the
famous Bayeux Tapestry, attributed to Queen Matilda, they represented
the story of the Norman Conquest. They had been ordered in the
fourteenth century by the descendant of a man-at-arms in William the
Conqueror's train; were executed by Jehan Gosset, a famous Arras weaver;
and were discovered, five hundred years later, in an old Breton
manor-house. On hearing of this, the colonel had struck a bargain for
fifty thousand francs. They were worth ten times the money.

But the finest of the twelve hangings composing the set, the most
uncommon because the subject had not been treated by Queen Matilda, was
the one which Arsène Lupin had stolen and which had been so fortunately
recovered. It portrayed Edith Swan-neck on the battlefield of Hastings,
seeking among the dead for the body of her sweetheart Harold, last of
the Saxon kings.

The guests were lost in enthusiasm over this tapestry, over the
unsophisticated beauty of the design, over the faded colours, over the
life-like grouping of the figures and the pitiful sadness of the scene.
Poor Edith Swan-neck stood drooping like an overweighted lily. Her white
gown revealed the lines of her languid figure. Her long, tapering hands
were outstretched in a gesture of terror and entreaty. And nothing could
be more mournful than her profile, over which flickered the most
dejected and despairing of smiles.

"A harrowing smile," remarked one of the critics, to whom the others
listened with deference. "A very charming smile, besides; and it reminds
me, Colonel, of the smile of Mme. Sparmiento."

And seeing that the observation seemed to meet with approval, he
enlarged upon his idea:

"There are other points of resemblance that struck me at once, such as
the very graceful curve of the neck and the delicacy of the hands ...
and also something about the figure, about the general attitude...."

"What you say is so true," said the colonel, "that I confess that it was
this likeness that decided me to buy the hangings. And there was another
reason, which was that, by a really curious chance, my wife's name
happens to be Edith. I have called her Edith Swan-neck ever since." And
the colonel added, with a laugh, "I hope that the coincidence will stop
at this and that my dear Edith will never have to go in search of her
true-love's body, like her prototype."

He laughed as he uttered these words, but his laugh met with no echo;
and we find the same impression of awkward silence in all the accounts
of the evening that appeared during the next few days. The people
standing near him did not know what to say. One of them tried to jest:

"Your name isn't Harold, Colonel?"

"No, thank you," he declared, with continued merriment. "No, that's not
my name; nor am I in the least like the Saxon king."

All have since agreed in stating that, at that moment, as the colonel
finished speaking, the first alarm rang from the windows--the right or
the middle window: opinions differ on this point--rang short and shrill
on a single note. The peal of the alarm-bell was followed by an
exclamation of terror uttered by Mme. Sparmiento, who caught hold of her
husband's arm. He cried:

"What's the matter? What does this mean?"

The guests stood motionless, with their eyes staring at the windows. The
colonel repeated:

"What does it mean? I don't understand. No one but myself knows where
that bell is fixed...."

And, at that moment--here again the evidence is unanimous--at that
moment came sudden, absolute darkness, followed immediately by the
maddening din of all the bells and all the gongs, from top to bottom of
the house, in every room and at every window.

For a few seconds, a stupid disorder, an insane terror, reigned. The
women screamed. The men banged with their fists on the closed doors.
They hustled and fought. People fell to the floor and were trampled
under foot. It was like a panic-stricken crowd, scared by threatening
flames or by a bursting shell. And, above the uproar, rose the colonel's
voice, shouting:

"Silence!... Don't move!... It's all right!... The switch is over there,
in the corner.... Wait a bit.... Here!"

He had pushed his way through his guests and reached a corner of the
gallery; and, all at once, the electric light blazed up again, while the
pandemonium of bells stopped.

Then, in the sudden light, a strange sight met the eyes. Two ladies had
fainted. Mme. Sparmiento, hanging to her husband's arm, with her knees
dragging on the floor, and livid in the face, appeared half dead. The
men, pale, with their neckties awry, looked as if they had all been in
the wars.

"The tapestries are there!" cried some one.

There was a great surprise, as though the disappearance of those
hangings ought to have been the natural result and the only plausible
explanation of the incident. But nothing had been moved. A few valuable
pictures, hanging on the walls, were there still. And, though the same
din had reverberated all over the house, though all the rooms had been
thrown into darkness, the detectives had seen no one entering or trying
to enter.

"Besides," said the colonel, "it's only the windows of the gallery that
have alarms. Nobody but myself understands how they work; and I had not
set them yet."

People laughed loudly at the way in which they had been frightened, but
they laughed without conviction and in a more or less shamefaced
fashion, for each of them was keenly alive to the absurdity of his
conduct. And they had but one thought--to get out of that house where,
say what you would, the atmosphere was one of agonizing anxiety.

Two journalists stayed behind, however; and the colonel joined them,
after attending to Edith and handing her over to her maids. The three of
them, together with the detectives, made a search that did not lead to
the discovery of anything of the least interest. Then the colonel sent
for some champagne; and the result was that it was not until a late
hour--to be exact, a quarter to three in the morning--that the
journalists took their leave, the colonel retired to his quarters, and
the detectives withdrew to the room which had been set aside for them on
the ground-floor.

They took the watch by turns, a watch consisting, in the first place, in
keeping awake and, next, in looking round the garden and visiting the
gallery at intervals.

These orders were scrupulously carried out, except between five and
seven in the morning, when sleep gained the mastery and the men ceased
to go their rounds. But it was broad daylight out of doors. Besides, if
there had been the least sound of bells, would they not have woke up?

Nevertheless, when one of them, at twenty minutes past seven, opened the
door of the gallery and flung back the shutters, he saw that the twelve
tapestries were gone.

This man and the others were blamed afterward for not giving the alarm
at once and for starting their own investigations before informing the
colonel and telephoning to the local commissary. Yet this very excusable
delay can hardly be said to have hampered the action of the police. In
any case, the colonel was not told until half-past eight. He was dressed
and ready to go out. The news did not seem to upset him beyond measure,
or, at least, he managed to control his emotion. But the effort must
have been too much for him, for he suddenly dropped into a chair and,
for some moments, gave way to a regular fit of despair and anguish, most
painful to behold in a man of his resolute appearance.

Recovering and mastering himself, he went to the gallery, stared at the
bare walls and then sat down at a table and hastily scribbled a letter,
which he put into an envelope and sealed.

"There," he said. "I'm in a hurry.... I have an important engagement....
Here is a letter for the commissary of police." And, seeing the
detectives' eyes upon him, he added, "I am giving the commissary my
views ... telling him of a suspicion that occurs to me.... He must
follow it up.... I will do what I can...."

He left the house at a run, with excited gestures which the detectives
were subsequently to remember.

A few minutes later, the commissary of police arrived. He was handed the
letter, which contained the following words:


    "I am at the end of my tether. The theft of those tapestries
    completes the crash which I have been trying to conceal for the
    past year. I bought them as a speculation and was hoping to get a
    million francs for them, thanks to the fuss that was made about
    them. As it was, an American offered me six hundred thousand. It
    meant my salvation. This means utter destruction.

    "I hope that my dear wife will forgive the sorrow which I am
    bringing upon her. Her name will be on my lips at the last moment."


Mme. Sparmiento was informed. She remained aghast with horror, while
inquiries were instituted and attempts made to trace the colonel's
movements.

Late in the afternoon, a telephone-message came from Ville d'Avray. A
gang of railway-men had found a man's body lying at the entrance to a
tunnel after a train had passed. The body was hideously mutilated; the
face had lost all resemblance to anything human. There were no papers in
the pockets. But the description answered to that of the colonel.

Mme. Sparmiento arrived at Ville d'Avray, by motor-car, at seven o'clock
in the evening. She was taken to a room at the railway-station. When the
sheet that covered it was removed, Edith, Edith Swan-neck, recognized
her husband's body.

       *       *       *       *       *

In these circumstances, Lupin did not receive his usual good notices in
the press:


    "Let him look to himself," jeered one leader-writer, summing up the
    general opinion. "It would not take many exploits of this kind for
    him to forfeit the popularity which has not been grudged him
    hitherto. We have no use for Lupin, except when his rogueries are
    perpetrated at the expense of shady company-promoters, foreign
    adventurers, German barons, banks and financial companies. And,
    above all, no murders! A burglar we can put up with; but a
    murderer, no! If he is not directly guilty, he is at least
    responsible for this death. There is blood upon his hands; the
    arms on his escutcheon are stained gules...."


The public anger and disgust were increased by the pity which Edith's
pale face aroused. The guests of the night before gave their version of
what had happened, omitting none of the impressive details; and a legend
formed straightway around the fair-haired Englishwoman, a legend that
assumed a really tragic character, owing to the popular story of the
swan-necked heroine.

And yet the public could not withhold its admiration of the
extraordinary skill with which the theft had been effected. The police
explained it, after a fashion. The detectives had noticed from the first
and subsequently stated that one of the three windows of the gallery was
wide open. There could be no doubt that Lupin and his confederates had
entered through this window. It seemed a very plausible suggestion.
Still, in that case, how were they able, first, to climb the garden
railings, in coming and going, without being seen; secondly, to cross
the garden and put up a ladder on the flower-border, without leaving the
least trace behind; thirdly, to open the shutters and the window,
without starting the bells and switching on the lights in the house?

The police accused the three detectives of complicity. The magistrate
in charge of the case examined them at length, made minute inquiries
into their private lives and stated formally that they were above all
suspicion. As for the tapestries, there seemed to be no hope that they
would be recovered.

It was at this moment that Chief-inspector Ganimard returned from India,
where he had been hunting for Lupin on the strength of a number of most
convincing proofs supplied by former confederates of Lupin himself.
Feeling that he had once more been tricked by his everlasting adversary,
fully believing that Lupin had dispatched him on this wild-goose chase
so as to be rid of him during the business of the tapestries, he asked
for a fortnight's leave of absence, called on Mme. Sparmiento and
promised to avenge her husband.

Edith had reached the point at which not even the thought of vengeance
relieves the sufferer's pain. She had dismissed the three detectives on
the day of the funeral and engaged just one man and an old
cook-housekeeper to take the place of the large staff of servants the
sight of whom reminded her too cruelly of the past. Not caring what
happened, she kept her room and left Ganimard free to act as he pleased.

He took up his quarters on the ground-floor and at once instituted a
series of the most minute investigations. He started the inquiry
afresh, questioned the people in the neighbourhood, studied the
distribution of the rooms and set each of the burglar-alarms going
thirty and forty times over.

At the end of the fortnight, he asked for an extension of leave. The
chief of the detective-service, who was at that time M. Dudouis, came to
see him and found him perched on the top of a ladder, in the gallery.
That day, the chief-inspector admitted that all his searches had proved
useless.

Two days later, however, M. Dudouis called again and discovered Ganimard
in a very thoughtful frame of mind. A bundle of newspapers lay spread in
front of him. At last, in reply to his superior's urgent questions, the
chief-inspector muttered:

"I know nothing, chief, absolutely nothing; but there's a confounded
notion worrying me.... Only it seems so absurd.... And then it doesn't
explain things.... On the contrary, it confuses them rather...."

"Then ...?"

"Then I implore you, chief, to have a little patience ... to let me go
my own way. But if I telephone to you, some day or other, suddenly, you
must jump into a taxi, without losing a minute. It will mean that I have
discovered the secret."

Forty-eight hours passed. Then, one morning, M. Dudouis received a
telegram:


"Going to Lille.

                     "GANIMARD."


"What the dickens can he want to go to Lille for?" wondered the
chief-detective.

The day passed without news, followed by another day. But M. Dudouis had
every confidence in Ganimard. He knew his man, knew that the old
detective was not one of those people who excite themselves for nothing.
When Ganimard "got a move on him," it meant that he had sound reasons
for doing so.

As a matter of fact, on the evening of that second day, M. Dudouis was
called to the telephone.

"Is that you, chief?"

"Is it Ganimard speaking?"

Cautious men both, they began by making sure of each other's identity.
As soon as his mind was eased on this point, Ganimard continued,
hurriedly:

"Ten men, chief, at once. And please come yourself."

"Where are you?"

"In the house, on the ground-floor. But I will wait for you just inside
the garden-gate."

"I'll come at once. In a taxi, of course?"

"Yes, chief. Stop the taxi fifty yards from the house. I'll let you in
when you whistle."

Things took place as Ganimard had arranged. Shortly after midnight, when
all the lights were out on the upper floors, he slipped into the street
and went to meet M. Dudouis. There was a hurried consultation. The
officers distributed themselves as Ganimard ordered. Then the chief and
the chief-inspector walked back together, noiselessly crossed the garden
and closeted themselves with every precaution:

"Well, what's it all about?" asked M. Dudouis. "What does all this mean?
Upon my word, we look like a pair of conspirators!"

But Ganimard was not laughing. His chief had never seen him in such a
state of perturbation, nor heard him speak in a voice denoting such
excitement:

"Any news, Ganimard?"

"Yes, chief, and ... this time ...! But I can hardly believe it
myself.... And yet I'm not mistaken: I know the real truth.... It may be
as unlikely as you please, but it is the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth."

He wiped away the drops of perspiration that trickled down his forehead
and, after a further question from M. Dudouis, pulled himself together,
swallowed a glass of water and began:

"Lupin has often got the better of me...."

"Look here, Ganimard," said M. Dudouis, interrupting him. "Why can't you
come straight to the point? Tell me, in two words, what's happened."

"No, chief," retorted the chief-inspector, "it is essential that you
should know the different stages which I have passed through. Excuse me,
but I consider it indispensable." And he repeated: "I was saying, chief,
that Lupin has often got the better of me and led me many a dance. But,
in this contest in which I have always come out worst ... so far ... I
have at least gained experience of his manner of play and learnt to know
his tactics. Now, in the matter of the tapestries, it occurred to me
almost from the start to set myself two problems. In the first place,
Lupin, who never makes a move without knowing what he is after, was
obviously aware that Colonel Sparmiento had come to the end of his money
and that the loss of the tapestries might drive him to suicide.
Nevertheless, Lupin, who hates the very thought of bloodshed, stole the
tapestries."

"There was the inducement," said M. Dudouis, "of the five or six hundred
thousand francs which they are worth."

"No, chief, I tell you once more, whatever the occasion might be, Lupin
would not take life, nor be the cause of another person's death, for
anything in this world, for millions and millions. That's the first
point. In the second place, what was the object of all that disturbance,
in the evening, during the house-warming party? Obviously, don't you
think, to surround the business with an atmosphere of anxiety and
terror, in the shortest possible time, and also to divert suspicion from
the truth, which, otherwise, might easily have been suspected?... You
seem not to understand, chief?"

"Upon my word, I do not!"

"As a matter of fact," said Ganimard, "as a matter of fact, it is not
particularly plain. And I myself, when I put the problem before my mind
in those same words, did not understand it very clearly.... And yet I
felt that I was on the right track.... Yes, there was no doubt about it
that Lupin wanted to divert suspicions ... to divert them to himself,
Lupin, mark you ... so that the real person who was working the business
might remain unknown...."

"A confederate," suggested M. Dudouis. "A confederate, moving among the
visitors, who set the alarms going ... and who managed to hide in the
house after the party had broken up."

"You're getting warm, chief, you're getting warm! It is certain that the
tapestries, as they cannot have been stolen by any one making his way
surreptitiously into the house, were stolen by somebody who remained in
the house; and it is equally certain that, by taking the list of the
people invited and inquiring into the antecedents of each of them, one
might...."

"Well?"

"Well, chief, there's a 'but,' namely, that the three detectives had
this list in their hands when the guests arrived and that they still had
it when the guests left. Now sixty-three came in and sixty-three went
away. So you see...."

"Then do you suppose a servant?..."

"No."

"The detectives?"

"No."

"But, still ... but, still," said the chief, impatiently, "if the
robbery was committed from the inside...."

"That is beyond dispute," declared the inspector, whose excitement
seemed to be nearing fever-point. "There is no question about it. All my
investigations led to the same certainty. And my conviction gradually
became so positive that I ended, one day, by drawing up this startling
axiom: in theory and in fact, the robbery can only have been committed
with the assistance of an accomplice staying in the house. Whereas there
was no accomplice!"

"That's absurd," said Dudouis.

"Quite absurd," said Ganimard. "But, at the very moment when I uttered
that absurd sentence, the truth flashed upon me."

"Eh?"

"Oh, a very dim, very incomplete, but still sufficient truth! With that
clue to guide me, I was bound to find the way. Do you follow me, chief?"

M. Dudouis sat silent. The same phenomenon that had taken place in
Ganimard was evidently taking place in him. He muttered:

"If it's not one of the guests, nor the servants, nor the private
detectives, then there's no one left...."

"Yes, chief, there's one left...."

M. Dudouis started as though he had received a shock; and, in a voice
that betrayed his excitement:

"But, look here, that's preposterous."

"Why?"

"Come, think for yourself!"

"Go on, chief: say what's in your mind."

"Nonsense! What do you mean?"

"Go on, chief."

"It's impossible! How can Sparmiento have been Lupin's accomplice?"

Ganimard gave a little chuckle.

"Exactly, Arsène Lupin's accomplice!... That explains everything. During
the night, while the three detectives were downstairs watching, or
sleeping rather, for Colonel Sparmiento had given them champagne to
drink and perhaps doctored it beforehand, the said colonel took down the
hangings and passed them out through the window of his bedroom. The room
is on the second floor and looks out on another street, which was not
watched, because the lower windows are walled up."

M. Dudouis reflected and then shrugged his shoulders:

"It's preposterous!" he repeated.

"Why?"

"Why? Because, if the colonel had been Arsène Lupin's accomplice, he
would not have committed suicide after achieving his success."

"Who says that he committed suicide?"

"Why, he was found dead on the line!"

"I told you, there is no such thing as death with Lupin."

"Still, this was genuine enough. Besides, Mme. Sparmiento identified the
body."

"I thought you would say that, chief. The argument worried me too. There
was I, all of a sudden, with three people in front of me instead of one:
first, Arsène Lupin, cracksman; secondly, Colonel Sparmiento, his
accomplice; thirdly, a dead man. Spare us! It was too much of a good
thing!"

Ganimard took a bundle of newspapers, untied it and handed one of them
to Mr. Dudouis:

"You remember, chief, last time you were here, I was looking through the
papers.... I wanted to see if something had not happened, at that
period, that might bear upon the case and confirm my supposition. Please
read this paragraph."

M. Dudouis took the paper and read aloud:


    "Our Lille correspondent informs us that a curious incident has
    occurred in that town. A corpse has disappeared from the local
    morgue, the corpse of a man unknown who threw himself under the
    wheels of a steam tram-car on the day before. No one is able to
    suggest a reason for this disappearance."


M. Dudouis sat thinking and then asked:

"So ... you believe ...?"

"I have just come from Lille," replied Ganimard, "and my inquiries leave
not a doubt in my mind. The corpse was removed on the same night on
which Colonel Sparmiento gave his house-warming. It was taken straight
to Ville d'Avray by motor-car; and the car remained near the
railway-line until the evening."

"Near the tunnel, therefore," said M. Dudouis.

"Next to it, chief."

"So that the body which was found is merely that body, dressed in
Colonel Sparmiento's clothes."

"Precisely, chief."

"Then Colonel Sparmiento is not dead?"

"No more dead than you or I, chief."

"But then why all these complications? Why the theft of one tapestry,
followed by its recovery, followed by the theft of the twelve? Why that
house-warming? Why that disturbance? Why everything? Your story won't
hold water, Ganimard."

"Only because you, chief, like myself, have stopped halfway; because,
strange as this story already sounds, we must go still farther, very
much farther, in the direction of the improbable and the astounding. And
why not, after all? Remember that we are dealing with Arsène Lupin. With
him, is it not always just the improbable and the astounding that we
must look for? Must we not always go straight for the maddest
suppositions? And, when I say the maddest, I am using the wrong word. On
the contrary, the whole thing is wonderfully logical and so simple that
a child could understand it. Confederates only betray you. Why employ
confederates, when it is so easy and so natural to act for yourself, by
yourself, with your own hands and by the means within your own reach?"

"What are you saying?... What are you saying?... What are you saying?"
cried M. Dudouis, in a sort of sing-song voice and a tone of
bewilderment that increased with each separate exclamation.

Ganimard gave a fresh chuckle.

"Takes your breath away, chief, doesn't it? So it did mine, on the day
when you came to see me here and when the notion was beginning to grow
upon me. I was flabbergasted with astonishment. And yet I've had
experience of my customer. I know what he's capable of.... But this, no,
this was really a bit too stiff!"

"It's impossible! It's impossible!" said M. Dudouis, in a low voice.

"On the contrary, chief, it's quite possible and quite logical and quite
normal. It's the threefold incarnation of one and the same individual. A
schoolboy would solve the problem in a minute, by a simple process of
elimination. Take away the dead man: there remains Sparmiento and Lupin.
Take away Sparmiento...."

"There remains Lupin," muttered the chief-detective.

"Yes, chief, Lupin simply, Lupin in five letters and two syllables,
Lupin taken out of his Brazilian skin, Lupin revived from the dead,
Lupin translated, for the past six months, into Colonel Sparmiento,
travelling in Brittany, hearing of the discovery of the twelve
tapestries, buying them, planning the theft of the best of them, so as
to draw attention to himself, Lupin, and divert it from himself,
Sparmiento. Next, he brings about, in full view of the gaping public, a
noisy contest between Lupin and Sparmiento or Sparmiento and Lupin,
plots and gives the house-warming party, terrifies his guests and, when
everything is ready, arranges for Lupin to steal Sparmiento's tapestries
and for Sparmiento, Lupin's victim, to disappear from sight and die
unsuspected, unsuspectable, regretted by his friends, pitied by the
public and leaving behind him, to pocket the profits of the swindle...."

Ganimard stopped, looked the chief in the eyes and, in a voice that
emphasized the importance of his words, concluded:

"Leaving behind him a disconsolate widow."

"Mme. Sparmiento! You really believe....?

"Hang it all!" said the chief-inspector. "People don't work up a whole
business of this sort, without seeing something ahead of them ... solid
profits."

"But the profits, it seems to me, lie in the sale of the tapestries
which Lupin will effect in America or elsewhere."

"First of all, yes. But Colonel Sparmiento could effect that sale just
as well. And even better. So there's something more."

"Something more?"

"Come, chief, you're forgetting that Colonel Sparmiento has been the
victim of an important robbery and that, though he may be dead, at least
his widow remains. So it's his widow who will get the money."

"What money?"

"What money? Why, the money due to her! The insurance-money, of course!"

M. Dudouis was staggered. The whole business suddenly became clear to
him, with its real meaning. He muttered:

"That's true!... That's true!... The colonel had insured his
tapestries...."

"Rather! And for no trifle either."

"For how much?"

"Eight hundred thousand francs."

"Eight hundred thousand?"

"Just so. In five different companies."

"And has Mme. Sparmiento had the money?"

"She got a hundred and fifty thousand francs yesterday and two hundred
thousand to-day, while I was away. The remaining payments are to be made
in the course of this week."

"But this is terrible! You ought to have...."

"What, chief? To begin with, they took advantage of my absence to
settle up accounts with the companies. I only heard about it on my
return when I ran up against an insurance-manager whom I happen to know
and took the opportunity of drawing him out."

The chief-detective was silent for some time, not knowing what to say.
Then he mumbled:

"What a fellow, though!"

Ganimard nodded his head:

"Yes, chief, a blackguard, but, I can't help saying, a devil of a clever
fellow. For his plan to succeed, he must have managed in such a way
that, for four or five weeks, no one could express or even conceive the
least suspicion of the part played by Colonel Sparmiento. All the
indignation and all the inquiries had to be concentrated upon Lupin
alone. In the last resort, people had to find themselves faced simply
with a mournful, pitiful, penniless widow, poor Edith Swan-neck, a
beautiful and legendary vision, a creature so pathetic that the
gentlemen of the insurance-companies were almost glad to place something
in her hands to relieve her poverty and her grief. That's what was
wanted and that's what happened."

The two men were close together and did not take their eyes from each
other's faces.

The chief asked:

"Who is that woman?"

"Sonia Kritchnoff."

"Sonia Kritchnoff?"

"Yes, the Russian girl whom I arrested last year at the time of the
theft of the coronet, and whom Lupin helped to escape."[E]


  [E] _Arsène Lupin._ The Novel of the Play. By Edgar Jepson and Maurice
  Leblanc (Mills & Boon).


"Are you sure?"

"Absolutely. I was put off the scent, like everybody else, by Lupin's
machinations, and had paid no particular attention to her. But, when I
knew the part which she was playing, I remembered. She is certainly
Sonia, metamorphosed into an Englishwoman; Sonia, the most
innocent-looking and the trickiest of actresses; Sonia, who would not
hesitate to face death for love of Lupin."

"A good capture, Ganimard," said M. Dudouis, approvingly.

"I've something better still for you, chief!"

"Really? What?"

"Lupin's old foster-mother."

"Victoire?"[F]


  [F] _The Hollow Needle._ By Maurice Leblanc. Translated by Alexander
  Teixeira de Mattos (Nash). _813_ By Maurice Leblanc. Translated by
  Alexander Teixeira de Mattos (Mills & Boon).


"She has been here since Mme. Sparmiento began playing the widow; she's
the cook."

"Oho!" said M. Dudouis. "My congratulations, Ganimard!"

"I've something for you, chief, that's even better than that!"

M. Dudouis gave a start. The inspector's hand clutched his and was
shaking with excitement.

"What do you mean, Ganimard?"

"Do you think, chief, that I would have brought you here, at this late
hour, if I had had nothing more attractive to offer you than Sonia and
Victoire? Pah! They'd have kept!"

"You mean to say ...?" whispered M. Dudouis, at last, understanding the
chief-inspector's agitation.

"You've guessed it, chief!"

"Is he here?"

"He's here."

"In hiding?"

"Not a bit of it. Simply in disguise. He's the man-servant."

This time, M. Dudouis did not utter a word nor make a gesture. Lupin's
audacity confounded him.

Ganimard chuckled.

"It's no longer a threefold, but a fourfold incarnation. Edith Swan-neck
might have blundered. The master's presence was necessary; and he had
the cheek to return. For three weeks, he has been beside me during my
inquiry, calmly following the progress made."

"Did you recognize him?"

"One doesn't recognize him. He has a knack of making-up his face and
altering the proportions of his body so as to prevent any one from
knowing him. Besides, I was miles from suspecting.... But, this evening,
as I was watching Sonia in the shadow of the stairs, I heard Victoire
speak to the man-servant and call him, 'Dearie.' A light flashed in upon
me. 'Dearie!' That was what she always used to call him. And I knew
where I was."

M. Dudouis seemed flustered, in his turn, by the presence of the enemy,
so often pursued and always so intangible:

"We've got him, this time," he said, between his teeth. "We've got him;
and he can't escape us."

"No, chief, he can't: neither he nor the two women."

"Where are they?"

"Sonia and Victoire are on the second floor; Lupin is on the third."

M. Dudouis suddenly became anxious:

"Why, it was through the windows of one of those floors that the
tapestries were passed when they disappeared!"

"That's so, chief."

"In that case, Lupin can get away too. The windows look out on the Rue
Dufresnoy."

"Of course they do, chief; but I have taken my precautions. The moment
you arrived, I sent four of our men to keep watch under the windows in
the Rue Dufresnoy. They have strict instructions to shoot, if any one
appears at the windows and looks like coming down. Blank cartridges for
the first shot, ball-cartridges for the next."

"Good, Ganimard! You have thought of everything. We'll wait here; and,
immediately after sunrise...."

"Wait, chief? Stand on ceremony with that rascal? Bother about rules and
regulations, legal hours and all that rot? And suppose he's not quite so
polite to us and gives us the slip meanwhile? Suppose he plays us one of
his Lupin tricks? No, no, we must have no nonsense! We've got him: let's
collar him; and that without delay!"

And Ganimard, all a-quiver with indignant impatience, went out, walked
across the garden and presently returned with half-a-dozen men:

"It's all right, chief. I've told them, in the Rue Dufresnoy, to get
their revolvers out and aim at the windows. Come along."

These alarums and excursions had not been effected without a certain
amount of noise, which was bound to be heard by the inhabitants of the
house. M. Dudouis felt that his hand was forced. He made up his mind to
act:

"Come on, then," he said.

The thing did not take long. The eight of them, Browning pistols in
hand, went up the stairs without overmuch precaution, eager to surprise
Lupin before he had time to organize his defences.

"Open the door!" roared Ganimard, rushing at the door of Mme.
Sparmiento's bedroom.

A policeman smashed it in with his shoulder.

There was no one in the room; and no one in Victoire's bedroom either.

"They're all upstairs!" shouted Ganimard. "They've gone up to Lupin in
his attic. Be careful now!"

All the eight ran up the third flight of stairs. To his great
astonishment, Ganimard found the door of the attic open and the attic
empty. And the other rooms were empty too.

"Blast them!" he cursed. "What's become of them?"

But the chief called him. M. Dudouis, who had gone down again to the
second floor, noticed that one of the windows was not latched, but just
pushed to:

"There," he said, to Ganimard, "that's the road they took, the road of
the tapestries. I told you as much: the Rue Dufresnoy...."

"But our men would have fired on them," protested Ganimard, grinding his
teeth with rage. "The street's guarded."

"They must have gone before the street was guarded."

"They were all three of them in their rooms when I rang you up, chief!"

"They must have gone while you were waiting for me in the garden."

"But why? Why? There was no reason why they should go to-day rather than
to-morrow, or the next day, or next week, for that matter, when they had
pocketed all the insurance-money!"

Yes, there was a reason; and Ganimard knew it when he saw, on the table,
a letter addressed to himself and opened it and read it. The letter was
worded in the style of the testimonials which we hand to people in our
service who have given satisfaction:


    "I, the undersigned, Arsène Lupin, gentleman-burglar, ex-colonel,
    ex-man-of-all-work, ex-corpse, hereby certify that the person of
    the name of Ganimard gave proof of the most remarkable qualities
    during his stay in this house. He was exemplary in his behaviour,
    thoroughly devoted and attentive; and, unaided by the least clue,
    he foiled a part of my plans and saved the insurance-companies four
    hundred and fifty thousand francs. I congratulate him; and I am
    quite willing to overlook his blunder in not anticipating that the
    downstairs telephone communicates with the telephone in Sonia
    Kritchnoff's bedroom and that, when telephoning to Mr.
    Chief-detective, he was at the same time telephoning to me to clear
    out as fast as I could. It was a pardonable slip, which must not be
    allowed to dim the glamour of his services nor to detract from the
    merits of his victory.

    "Having said this, I beg him to accept the homage of my admiration
    and of my sincere friendship.

                                         "ARSÈNE LUPIN"





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+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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