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The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar by Maurice Leblanc

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Maurice Leblanc

The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar

Table of Contents:
I. The Arrest of Arsène Lupin
II. Arsène Lupin in Prison
III. The Escape of Arsène Lupin
IV. The Mysterious Traveller
V. The Queen's Necklace
VI. The Seven of Hearts
VII. Madame Imbert's Safe
VIII. The Black Pearl
IX. Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late

I. The Arrest of Arsène Lupin

It was a strange ending to a voyage that had commenced in a most
auspicious manner. The transatlantic steamship `La Provence' was
a swift and comfortable vessel, under the command of a most
affable man. The passengers constituted a select and delightful
society. The charm of new acquaintances and improvised amusements
served to make the time pass agreeably. We enjoyed the pleasant
sensation of being separated from the world, living, as it were,
upon an unknown island, and consequently obliged to be sociable
with each other.

Have you ever stopped to consider how much originality and
spontaneity emanate from these various individuals who, on the
preceding evening, did not even know each other, and who are now,
for several days, condemned to lead a life of extreme intimacy,
jointly defying the anger of the ocean, the terrible onslaught of
the waves, the violence of the tempest and the agonizing monotony
of the calm and sleepy water? Such a life becomes a sort of
tragic existence, with its storms and its grandeurs, its monotony
and its diversity; and that is why, perhaps, we embark upon that
short voyage with mingled feelings of pleasure and fear.

But, during the past few years, a new sensation had been added to
the life of the transatlantic traveler. The little floating
island is now attached to the world from which it was once quite
free. A bond united them, even in the very heart of the watery
wastes of the Atlantic. That bond is the wireless telegraph, by
means of which we receive news in the most mysterious manner. We
know full well that the message is not transported by the medium
of a hollow wire. No, the mystery is even more inexplicable, more
romantic, and we must have recourse to the wings of the air in
order to explain this new miracle. During the first day of the
voyage, we felt that we were being followed, escorted, preceded
even, by that distant voice, which, from time to time, whispered
to one of us a few words from the receding world. Two friends
spoke to me. Ten, twenty others sent gay or somber words of
parting to other passengers.

On the second day, at a distance of five hundred miles from the
French coast, in the midst of a violent storm, we received the
following message by means of the wireless telegraph:

"Arsène Lupin is on your vessel, first cabin, blonde hair, wound
right fore-arm, traveling alone under name of R........"

At that moment, a terrible flash of lightning rent the stormy
skies. The electric waves were interrupted. The remainder of the
dispatch never reached us. Of the name under Arsène Lupin was
concealing himself, we knew only the initial.

If the news had been of some other character, I have no doubt that
the secret would have been carefully guarded by the telegraphic
operator as well as by the officers of the vessel. But it was one
of those events calculated to escape from the most rigorous
discretion. The same day, no one knew how, the incident became a
matter of current gossip and every passenger was aware that the
famous Arsène Lupin was hiding in our midst.

Arsène Lupin in our midst! the irresponsible burglar whose
exploits had been narrated in all the newspapers during the past
few months! the mysterious individual with whom Ganimard, our
shrewdest detective, had been engaged in an implacable conflict
amidst interesting and picturesque surroundings. Arsène Lupin,
the eccentric gentleman who operates only in the chateaux and
salons, and who, one night, entered the residence of Baron
Schormann, but emerged empty-handed, leaving, however, his card on
which he had scribbled these words: "Arsène Lupin, gentleman-
burglar, will return when the furniture is genuine." Arsène
Lupin, the man of a thousand disguises: in turn a chauffer,
detective, bookmaker, Russian physician, Spanish bull-fighter,
commercial traveler, robust youth, or decrepit old man.

Then consider this startling situation: Arsène Lupin was wandering
about within the limited bounds of a transatlantic steamer; in
that very small corner of the world, in that dining saloon, in
that smoking room, in that music room! Arsène Lupin was, perhaps,
this gentleman....or that one....my neighbor at the table....
the sharer of my stateroom....

"And this condition of affairs will last for five days!" exclaimed
Miss Nelly Underdown, next morning. "It is unbearable! I hope he
will be arrested."

Then, addressing me, she added:

"And you, Monsieur d'Andrézy, you are on intimate terms with the
captain; surely you know something?"

I should have been delighted had I possessed any information that
would interest Miss Nelly. She was one of those magnificent
creatures who inevitably attract attention in every assembly.
Wealth and beauty form an irresistible combination, and Nelly
possessed both.

Educated in Paris under the care of a French mother, she was now
going to visit her father, the millionaire Underdown of Chicago.
She was accompanied by one of her friends, Lady Jerland.

At first, I had decided to open a flirtation with her; but, in the
rapidly growing intimacy of the voyage, I was soon impressed by
her charming manner and my feelings became too deep and
reverential for a mere flirtation. Moreover, she accepted my
attentions with a certain degree of favor. She condescended to
laugh at my witticisms and display an interest in my stories. Yet
I felt that I had a rival in the person of a young man with quiet
and refined tastes; and it struck me, at times, that she preferred
his taciturn humor to my Parisian frivolity. He formed one in the
circle of admirers that surrounded Miss Nelly at the time she
addressed to me the foregoing question. We were all comfortably
seated in out deck-chairs. The storm of the preceding evening had
cleared the sky. The weather was now delightful.

"I have no definite knowledge, mademoiselle," I replied, "but can
not we, ourselves, investigate the mystery quite as well as the
detective Ganimard, the personal enemy of Arsène Lupin?"

"Oh! oh! you are progressing very fast, monsieur."

"Not at all, mademoiselle. In the first place, let me ask, do you
find the problem a complicated one?"

"Very complicated."

"Have you forgotten the key we hold for the solution to the
problem?"

"What key?"

"In the first place, Lupin calls himself Monsieur R-------."

"Rather vague information," she replied.

"Secondly, he is traveling alone."

"Does that help you?" she asked.

"Thirdly, he is blonde."

"Well?"

"Then we have only to peruse the passenger-list, and proceed by
process of elimination."

I had that list in my pocket. I took it out and glanced through
it. Then I remarked:

"I find that there are only thirteen men on the passenger-list
whose names begin with the letter R."

"Only thirteen?"

"Yes, in the first cabin. And of those thirteen, I find that nine
of them are accompanied by women, children or servants. That
leaves only four who are traveling alone. First, the Marquis de
Raverdan----"

"Secretary to the American Ambassador," interrupted Miss Nelly.
"I know him."

"Major Rawson," I continued.

"He is my uncle," some one said.

"Mon. Rivolta."

"Here!" exclaimed an Italian, whose face was concealed beneath a
heavy black beard.

Miss Nelly burst into laughter, and exclaimed: "That gentleman can
scarcely be called a blonde."

"Very well, then," I said, "we are forced to the conclusion that
the guilty party is the last one on the list."

"What is his name?"

"Mon. Rozaine. Does anyone know him?"

No one answered. But Miss Nelly turned to the taciturn young man,
whose attentions to her had annoyed me, and said:

"Well, Monsieur Rozaine, why do you not answer?"

All eyes were now turned upon him. He was a blonde. I must
confess that I myself felt a shock of surprise, and the profound
silence that followed her question indicated that the others
present also viewed the situation with a feeling of sudden alarm.
However, the idea was an absurd one, because the gentleman in
question presented an air of the most perfect innocence.

"Why do I not answer?" he said. "Because, considering my name, my
position as a solitary traveler and the color of my hair, I have
already reached the same conclusion, and now think that I should
be arrested."

He presented a strange appearance as he uttered these words. His
thin lips were drawn closer than usual and his face was ghastly
pale, whilst his eyes were streaked with blood. Of course, he was
joking, yet his appearance and attitude impressed us strangely.

"But you have not the wound?" said Miss Nelly, naively.

"That is true," he replied, "I lack the wound."

Then he pulled up his sleeve, removing his cuff, and showed us his
arm. But that action did not deceive me. He had shown us his
left arm, and I was on the point of calling his attention to the
fact, when another incident diverted our attention. Lady Jerland,
Miss Nelly's friend, came running towards us in a state of great
excitement, exclaiming:

"My jewels, my pearls! Some one has stolen them all!"

No, they were not all gone, as we soon found out. The thief had
taken only part of them; a very curious thing. Of the diamond
sunbursts, jeweled pendants, bracelets and necklaces, the thief
had taken, not the largest but the finest and most valuable
stones. The mountings were lying upon the table. I saw them
there, despoiled of their jewels, like flowers from which the
beautiful colored petals had been ruthlessly plucked. And this
theft must have been committed at the time Lady Jerland was taking
her tea; in broad daylight, in stateroom opening on a much
frequented corridor; moreover, the thief had been obliged to force
open the door of the stateroom, search for the jewel-case, which
was hidden at the bottom of a hat-box, open it, select his booty
and remove it from the mountings.

Of course, all the passengers instantly reached the same
conclusion; it was the work of Arsène Lupin.

That day, at the dinner table, the seats to the right and left of
Rozaine remained vacant; and, during the evening, it was rumored
that the captain had placed him under arrest, which information
produced a feeling of safety and relief. We breathed once more.
That evening, we resumed our games and dances. Miss Nelly,
especially, displayed a spirit of thoughtless gayety which
convinced me that if Rozaine's attentions had been agreeable to
her in the beginning, she had already forgotten them. Her charm
and good-humor completed my conquest. At midnight, under a bright
moon, I declared my devotion with an ardor that did not seem to
displease her.

But, next day, to our general amazement, Rozaine was at liberty.
We learned that the evidence against him was not sufficient. He
had produced documents that were perfectly regular, which showed
that he was the son of a wealthy merchant of Bordeaux. Besides,
his arms did not bear the slightest trace of a wound.

"Documents! Certificates of birth!" exclaimed the enemies of
Rozaine, "of course, Arsène Lupin will furnish you as many as you
desire. And as to the wound, he never had it, or he has removed
it."

Then it was proven that, at the time of the theft, Rozaine was
promenading on the deck. To which fact, his enemies replied that
a man like Arsène Lupin could commit a crime without being
actually present. And then, apart from all other circumstances,
there remained one point which even the most skeptical could not
answer: Who except Rozaine, was traveling alone, was a blonde, and
bore a name beginning with R? To whom did the telegram point, if
it were not Rozaine?

And when Rozaine, a few minutes before breakfast, came boldly
toward our group, Miss Nelly and Lady Jerland arose and walked
away.

An hour later, a manuscript circular was passed from hand to hand
amongst the sailors, the stewards, and the passengers of all
classes. It announced that Mon. Louis Rozaine offered a reward of
ten thousand francs for the discovery of Arsène Lupin or other
person in possession of the stolen jewels.

"And if no one assists me, I will unmask the scoundrel myself,"
declared Rozaine.

Rozaine against Arsène Lupin, or rather, according to current
opinion, Arsène Lupin himself against Arsène Lupin; the contest
promised to be interesting.

Nothing developed during the next two days. We saw Rozaine
wandering about, day and night, searching, questioning,
investigating. The captain, also, displayed commendable activity.
He caused the vessel to be searched from stern to stern; ransacked
every stateroom under the plausible theory that the jewels might
be concealed anywhere, except in the thief's own room.

"I suppose they will find out something soon," remarked Miss Nelly
to me. "He may be a wizard, but he cannot make diamonds and
pearls become invisible."

"Certainly not," I replied, "but he should examine the lining of
our hats and vests and everything we carry with us."

Then, exhibiting my Kodak, a 9x12 with which I had been
photographing her in various poses, I added: "In an apparatus no
larger than that, a person could hide all of Lady Jerland's
jewels. He could pretend to take pictures and no one would
suspect the game."

"But I have heard it said that every thief leaves some clue behind
him."

"That may be generally true," I replied, "but there is one
exception: Arsène Lupin."

"Why?"

"Because he concentrates his thoughts not only on the theft, but
on all the circumstances connected with it that could serve as a
clue to his identity."

"A few days ago, you were more confident."

"Yes, but since I have seen him at work."

"And what do you think about it now?" she asked.

"Well, in my opinion, we are wasting our time."

And, as a matter of fact, the investigation had produced no
result. But, in the meantime, the captain's watch had been
stolen. He was furious. He quickened his efforts and watched
Rozaine more closely than before. But, on the following day, the
watch was found in the second officer's collar box.

This incident caused considerable astonishment, and displayed the
humorous side of Arsène Lupin, burglar though he was, but
dilettante as well. He combined business with pleasure. He
reminded us of the author who almost died in a fit of laughter
provoked by his own play. Certainly, he was an artist in his
particular line of work, and whenever I saw Rozaine, gloomy and
reserved, and thought of the double role that he was playing, I
accorded him a certain measure of admiration.

On the following evening, the officer on deck duty heard groans
emanating from the darkest corner of the ship. He approached and
found a man lying there, his head enveloped in a thick gray scarf
and his hands tied together with a heavy cord. It was Rozaine.
He had been assaulted, thrown down and robbed. A card, pinned to
his coat, bore these words: "Arsène Lupin accepts with pleasure
the ten thousand francs offered by Mon. Rozaine." As a matter of
fact, the stolen pocket-book contained twenty thousand francs.

Of course, some accused the unfortunate man of having simulated
this attack on himself. But, apart from the fact that he could
not have bound himself in that manner, it was established that the
writing on the card was entirely different from that of Rozaine,
but, on the contrary, resembled the handwriting of Arsène Lupin as
it was reproduced in an old newspaper found on board.

Thus it appeared that Rozaine was not Arsène Lupin; but was
Rozaine, the son of a Bordeaux merchant. And the presence of
Arsène Lupin was once more affirmed, and that in a most alarming
manner.

Such was the state of terror amongst the passengers that none
would remain alone in a stateroom or wander singly in unfrequented
parts of the vessel. We clung together as a matter of safety.
And yet the most intimate acquaintances were estranged by a mutual
feeling of distrust. Arsène Lupin was, now, anybody and
everybody. Our excited imaginations attributed to him miraculous
and unlimited power. We supposed him capable of assuming the most
unexpected disguises; of being, by turns, the highly respectable
Major Rawson or the noble Marquis de Raverdan, or even--for we no
longer stopped with the accusing letter of R--or even such or such
a person well known to all of us, and having wife, children and
servants.

The first wireless dispatches from America brought no news; at
least, the captain did not communicate any to us. The silence was
not reassuring.

Our last day on the steamer seemed interminable. We lived in
constant fear of some disaster. This time, it would not be a
simple theft or a comparatively harmless assault; it would be a
crime, a murder. No one imagined that Arsène Lupin would confine
himself to those two trifling offenses. Absolute master of the
ship, the authorities powerless, he could do whatever he pleased;
our property and lives were at his mercy.

Yet those were delightful hours for me, since they secured to me
the confidence of Miss Nelly. Deeply moved by those startling
events and being of a highly nervous nature, she spontaneously
sought at my side a protection and security that I was pleased to
give her. Inwardly, I blessed Arsène Lupin. Had he not been the
means of bringing me and Miss Nelly closer to each other? Thanks
to him, I could now indulge in delicious dreams of love and
happiness--dreams that, I felt, were not unwelcome to Miss Nelly.
Her smiling eyes authorized me to make them; the softness of her
voice bade me hope.

As we approached the American shore, the active search for the
thief was apparently abandoned, and we were anxiously awaiting the
supreme moment in which the mysterious enigma would be explained.
Who was Arsène Lupin? Under what name, under what disguise was
the famous Arsène Lupin concealing himself? And, at last, that
supreme moment arrived. If I live one hundred years, I shall not
forget the slightest details of it.

"How pale you are, Miss Nelly," I said to my companion, as she
leaned upon my arm, almost fainting.

"And you!" she replied, "ah! you are so changed."

"Just think! this is a most exciting moment, and I am delighted to
spend it with you, Miss Nelly. I hope that your memory will
sometimes revert---"

But she was not listening. She was nervous and excited. The
gangway was placed in position, but, before we could use it, the
uniformed customs officers came on board. Miss Nelly murmured:

"I shouldn't be surprised to hear that Arsène Lupin escaped from
the vessel during the voyage."

"Perhaps he preferred death to dishonor, and plunged into the
Atlantic rather than be arrested."

"Oh, do not laugh," she said.

Suddenly I started, and, in answer to her question, I said:

"Do you see that little old man standing at the bottom of the
gangway?"

"With an umbrella and an olive-green coat?"

"It is Ganimard."

"Ganimard?"

"Yes, the celebrated detective who has sworn to capture Arsène
Lupin. Ah! I can understand now why we did not receive any news
from this side of the Atlantic. Ganimard was here! and he always
keeps his business secret."

"Then you think he will arrest Arsène Lupin?"

"Who can tell? The unexpected always happens when Arsène Lupin is
concerned in the affair."

"Oh!" she exclaimed, with that morbid curiosity peculiar to women,
"I should like to see him arrested."

"You will have to be patient. No doubt, Arsène Lupin has already
seen his enemy and will not be in a hurry to leave the steamer."

The passengers were now leaving the steamer. Leaning on his
umbrella, with an air of careless indifference, Ganimard appeared
to be paying no attention to the crowd that was hurrying down the
gangway. The Marquis de Raverdan, Major Rawson, the Italian
Rivolta, and many others had already left the vessel before
Rozaine appeared. Poor Rozaine!

"Perhaps it is he, after all," said Miss Nelly to me. "What do
you think?"

"I think it would be very interesting to have Ganimard and Rozaine
in the same picture. You take the camera. I am loaded down."

I gave her the camera, but too late for her to use it. Rozaine
was already passing the detective. An American officer, standing
behind Ganimard, leaned forward and whispered in his ear. The
French detective shrugged his shoulders and Rozaine passed on.
Then, my God, who was Arsène Lupin?

"Yes," said Miss Nelly, aloud, "who can it be?"

Not more than twenty people now remained on board. She
scrutinized them one by one, fearful that Arsène Lupin was not
amongst them.

"We cannot wait much longer," I said to her.

She started toward the gangway. I followed. But we had not taken
ten steps when Ganimard barred out passage.

"Well, what is it?" I exclaimed.

"One moment, monsieur. What's your hurry?"

"I am escorting mademoiselle."

"One moment," he repeated, in a tone of authority. Then, gazing
into my eyes, he said:

"Arsène Lupin, is it not?"

I laughed, and replied: "No, simply Bernard d'Andrézy."

"Bernard d'Andrézy died in Macedonia three years ago."

"If Bernard d'Andrézy were dead, I should not be here. But you
are mistaken. Here are my papers."

"They are his; and I can tell you exactly how they cam into your
possession."

"You are a fool!" I exclaimed. "Arsène Lupin sailed under the
name of R---"

"Yes, another of your tricks; a false scent that deceived them at
Havre. You play a good game, my boy, but this time luck is
against you."

I hesitated a moment. Then he hit me a sharp blow on the right
arm, which caused me to utter a cry of pain. He had struck the
wound, yet unhealed, referred to in the telegram.

I was obliged to surrender. There was no alternative. I turned
to Miss Nelly, who had heard everything. Our eyes met; then she
glanced at the Kodak I had placed in her hands, and made a gesture
that conveyed to me the impression that she understood everything.
Yes, there, between the narrow folds of black leather, in the
hollow centre of the small object that I had taken the precaution
to place in her hands before Ganimard arrested me, it was there I
had deposited Rozaine's twenty thousand francs and Lady Jerland's
pearls and diamonds.

Oh! I pledge my oath that, at that solemn moment, when I was in
the grasp of Ganimard and his two assistants, I was perfectly
indifferent to everything, to my arrest, the hostility of the
people, everything except this one question: what will Miss Nelly
do with the things I had confided to her?

In the absence of that material and conclusive proof, I had
nothing to fear; but would Miss Nelly decide to furnish that
proof? Would she betray me? Would she act the part of an enemy
who cannot forgive, or that of a woman whose scorn is softened by
feelings of indulgence and involuntary sympathy?

She passed in front of me. I said nothing, but bowed very low.
Mingled with the other passengers, she advanced to the gangway
with my kodak in her hand. It occurred to me that she would not
dare to expose me publicly, but she might do so when she reached a
more private place. However, when she had passed only a few feet
down the gangway, with a movement of simulated awkwardness, she
let the camera fall into the water between the vessel and the
pier. Then she walked down the gangway, and was quickly lost to
sight in the crowd. She had passed out of my life forever.

For a moment, I stood motionless. Then, to Ganimard's great
astonishment, I muttered:

"What a pity that I am not an honest man!"

Such was the story of his arrest as narrated to me by Arsène Lupin
himself. The various incidents, which I shall record in writing
at a later day, have established between us certain ties....shall
I say of friendship? Yes, I venture to believe that Arsène Lupin
honors me with his friendship, and that it is through friendship
that he occasionally calls on me, and brings, into the silence of
my library, his youthful exuberance of spirits, the contagion of
his enthusiasm, and the mirth of a man for whom destiny has naught
but favors and smiles.

His portrait? How can I describe him? I have seen him twenty
times and each time he was a different person; even he himself
said to me on one occasion: "I no longer know who I am. I cannot
recognize myself in the mirror." Certainly, he was a great actor,
and possessed a marvelous faculty for disguising himself. Without
the slightest effort, he could adopt the voice, gestures and
mannerisms of another person.

"Why," said he, "why should I retain a definite form and feature?
Why not avoid the danger of a personality that is ever the same?
My actions will serve to identify me."

Then he added, with a touch of pride:

"So much the better if no one can ever say with absolute
certainty: There is Arsène Lupin! The essential point is that the
public may be able to refer to my work and say, without fear of
mistake: Arsène Lupin did that!"

II. Arsène Lupin in Prison

There is no tourist worthy of the name who does not know the banks
of the Seine, and has not noticed, in passing, the little feudal
castle of the Malaquis, built upon a rock in the centre of the
river. An arched bridge connects it with the shore. All around
it, the calm waters of the great river play peacefully amongst the
reeds, and the wagtails flutter over the moist crests of the
stones.

The history of the Malaquis castle is stormy like its name, harsh
like its outlines. It has passed through a long series of
combats, sieges, assaults, rapines and massacres. A recital of
the crimes that have been committed there would cause the stoutest
heart to tremble. There are many mysterious legends connected
with the castle, and they tell us of a famous subterranean tunnel
that formerly led to the abbey of Jumieges and to the manor of
Agnes Sorel, mistress of Charles VII.

In that ancient habitation of heroes and brigands, the Baron
Nathan Cahorn now lived; or Baron Satan as he was formerly called
on the Bourse, where he had acquired a fortune with incredible
rapidity. The lords of Malaquis, absolutely ruined, had been
obliged to sell the ancient castle at a great sacrifice. It
contained an admirable collection of furniture, pictures, wood
carvings, and faience. The Baron lived there alone, attended by
three old servants. No one ever enters the place. No one had
ever beheld the three Rubens that he possessed, his two Watteau,
his Jean Goujon pulpit, and the many other treasures that he had
acquired by a vast expenditure of money at public sales.

Baron Satan lived in constant fear, not for himself, but for the
treasures that he had accumulated with such an earnest devotion
and with so much perspicacity that the shrewdest merchant could
not say that the Baron had ever erred in his taste or judgment.
He loved them--his bibelots. He loved them intensely, like a
miser; jealously, like a lover. Every day, at sunset, the iron
gates at either end of the bridge and at the entrance to the court
of honor are closed and barred. At the least touch on these
gates, electric bells will ring throughout the castle.

One Thursday in September, a letter-carrier presented himself at
the gate at the head of the bridge, and, as usual, it was the
Baron himself who partially opened the heavy portal. He
scrutinized the man as minutely as if he were a stranger, although
the honest face and twinkling eyes of the postman had been
familiar to the Baron for many years. The man laughed, as he
said:

"It is only I, Monsieur le Baron. It is not another man wearing
my cap and blouse."

"One can never tell," muttered the Baron.

The man handed him a number of newspapers, and then said:

"And now, Monsieur le Baron, here is something new."

"Something new?"

"Yes, a letter. A registered letter."

Living as a recluse, without friends or business relations, the
baron never received any letters, and the one now presented to him
immediately aroused within him a feeling of suspicion and
distrust. It was like an evil omen. Who was this mysterious
correspondent that dared to disturb the tranquility of his
retreat?

"You must sign for it, Monsieur le Baron."

He signed; then took the letter, waited until the postman had
disappeared beyond the bend in the road, and, after walking
nervously to and fro for a few minutes, he leaned against the
parapet of the bridge and opened the envelope. It contained a
sheet of paper, bearing this heading: Prison de la Santé, Paris.
He looked at the signature: Arsène Lupin. Then he read:

"Monsieur le Baron:

"There is, in the gallery in your castle, a picture of Philippe
de Champaigne, of exquisite finish, which pleases me beyond
measure. Your Rubens are also to my taste, as well as your
smallest Watteau. In the salon to the right, I have noticed the
Louis XIII cadence-table, the tapestries of Beauvais, the Empire
gueridon signed `Jacob,' and the Renaissance chest. In the salon
to the left, all the cabinet full of jewels and miniatures.

"For the present, I will content myself with those articles that
can be conveniently removed. I will therefore ask you to pack
them carefully and ship them to me, charges prepaid, to the
station at Batignolles, within eight days, otherwise I shall be
obliged to remove them myself during the night of 27 September;
but, under those circumstances, I shall not content myself with
the articles above mentioned.

"Accept my apologies for any inconvenience I may cause you, and
believe me to be your humble servant,
"Arsène Lupin."

"P. S.--Please do not send the largest Watteau. Although you
paid thirty thousand francs for it, it is only a copy, the
original having been burned, under the Directoire by Barras,
during a night of debauchery. Consult the memoirs of Garat.

"I do not care for the Louis XV chatelaine, as I doubt its
authenticity."

That letter completely upset the baron. Had it borne any other
signature, he would have been greatly alarmed--but signed by Arsène
Lupin!

As an habitual reader of the newspapers, he was versed in the
history of recent crimes, and was therefore well acquainted with
the exploits of the mysterious burglar. Of course, he knew that
Lupin had been arrested in America by his enemy Ganimard and was
at present incarcerated in the Prison de la Santé. But he knew
also that any miracle might be expected from Arsène Lupin.
Moreover, that exact knowledge of the castle, the location of the
pictures and furniture, gave the affair an alarming aspect. How
could he have acquired that information concerning things that no
one had ever seen?

The baron raised his eyes and contemplated the stern outlines of
the castle, its steep rocky pedestal, the depth of the surrounding
water, and shrugged his shoulders. Certainly, there was no
danger. No one in the world could force an entrance to the
sanctuary that contained his priceless treasures.

No one, perhaps, but Arsène Lupin! For him, gates, walls and
drawbridges did not exist. What use were the most formidable
obstacles or the most careful precautions, if Arsène Lupin had
decided to effect an entrance?

That evening, he wrote to the Procurer of the Republique at Rouen.
He enclosed the threatening letter and solicited aid and
protection.

The reply cam at once to the effect that Arsène Lupin was in
custody in the Prison de la Santé, under close surveillance, with
no opportunity to write such a letter, which was, no doubt, the
work of some imposter. But, as an act of precaution, the Procurer
had submitted the letter to an expert in handwriting, who declared
that, in spite of certain resemblances, the writing was not that
of the prisoner.

But the words "in spite of certain resemblances" caught the
attention of the baron; in them, he read the possibility of a
doubt which appeared to him quite sufficient to warrant the
intervention of the law. His fears increased. He read Lupin's
letter over and over again. "I shall be obliged to remove them
myself." And then there was the fixed date: the night of 27
September.

To confide in his servants was a proceeding repugnant to his
nature; but now, for the first time in many years, he experienced
the necessity of seeking counsel with some one. Abandoned by the
legal official of his own district, and feeling unable to defend
himself with his own resources, he was on the point of going to
Paris to engage the services of a detective.

Two days passed; on the third day, he was filled with hope and joy
as he read the following item in the `Reveil de Caudebec', a
newspaper published in a neighboring town:

"We have the pleasure of entertaining in our city, at the present
time, the veteran detective Mon. Ganimard who acquired a world-
wide reputation by his clever capture of Arsène Lupin. He has
come here for rest and recreation, and, being an enthusiastic
fisherman, he threatens to capture all the fish in our river."

Ganimard! Ah, here is the assistance desired by Baron Cahorn!
Who could baffle the schemes of Arsène Lupin better than Ganimard,
the patient and astute detective? He was the man for the place.

The baron did not hesitate. The town of Caudebec was only six
kilometers from the castle, a short distance to a man whose step
was accelerated by the hope of safety.

After several fruitless attempts to ascertain the detective's
address, the baron visited the office of the `Reveil,' situated on
the quai. There he found the writer of the article who,
approaching the window, exclaimed:

"Ganimard? Why, you are sure to see him somewhere on the quai
with his fishing-pole. I met him there and chanced to read his
name engraved on his rod. Ah, there he is now, under the trees."

"That little man, wearing a straw hat?"

"Exactly. He is a gruff fellow, with little to say."

Five minutes later, the baron approached the celebrated Ganimard,
introduced himself, and sought to commence a conversation, but
that was a failure. Then he broached the real object of his
interview, and briefly stated his case. The other listened,
motionless, with his attention riveted on his fishing-rod. When
the baron had finished his story, the fisherman turned, with an
air of profound pity, and said:

"Monsieur, it is not customary for thieves to warn people they are
about to rob. Arsène Lupin, especially, would not commit such a
folly."

"But---"

"Monsieur, if I had the least doubt, believe me, the pleasure of
again capturing Arsène Lupin would place me at your disposal.
But, unfortunately, that young man is already under lock and key."

"He may have escaped."

"No one ever escaped from the Santé."

"But, he---"

"He, no more than any other."

"Yet---"

"Well, if he escapes, so much the better. I will catch him again.
Meanwhile, you go home and sleep soundly. That will do for the
present. You frighten the fish."

The conversation was ended. The baron returned to the castle,
reassured to some extent by Ganimard's indifference. He examined
the bolts, watched the servants, and, during the next forty-eight
hours, he became almost persuaded that his fears were groundless.
Certainly, as Ganimard had said, thieves do not warn people they
are about to rob.

The fateful day was close at hand. It was now the twenty-sixth of
September and nothing had happened. But at three o'clock the bell
rang. A boy brought this telegram:

"No goods at Batignolles station. Prepare everything for tomorrow
night. Arsène."

This telegram threw the baron into such a state of excitement that
he even considered the advisability of yielding to Lupin's
demands.

However, he hastened to Caudebec. Ganimard was fishing at the
same place, seated on a campstool. Without a word, he handed him
the telegram.

"Well, what of it?" said the detective.

"What of it? But it is tomorrow."

"What is tomorrow?"

"The robbery! The pillage of my collections!"

Ganimard laid down his fishing-rod, turned to the baron, and
exclaimed, in a tone of impatience:

"Ah! Do you think I am going to bother myself about such a silly
story as that!"

"How much do you ask to pass tomorrow night in the castle?"

"Not a sou. Now, leave me alone."

"Name your own price. I am rich and can pay it."

This offer disconcerted Ganimard, who replied, calmly:

"I am here on a vacation. I have no right to undertake such
work."

"No one will know. I promise to keep it secret."

"Oh! nothing will happen."

"Come! three thousand francs. Will that be enough?"

The detective, after a moment's reflection, said:

"Very well. But I must warn you that you are throwing your money
out of the window."

"I do not care."

"In that case...but, after all, what do we know about this devil
Lupin! He may have quite a numerous band of robbers with him.
Are you sure of your servants?"

"My faith---"

"Better not count on them. I will telegraph for two of my men to
help me. And now, go! It is better for us not to be seen
together. Tomorrow evening about nine o'clock."

* * * * *

The following day--the date fixed by Arsène Lupin--Baron Cahorn
arranged all his panoply of war, furbished his weapons, and, like
a sentinel, paced to and fro in front of the castle. He saw
nothing, heard nothing. At half-past eight o'clock in the
evening, he dismissed his servants. They occupied rooms in a wing
of the building, in a retired spot, well removed from the main
portion of the castle. Shortly thereafter, the baron heard the
sound of approaching footsteps. It was Ganimard and his two
assistants--great, powerful fellows with immense hands, and necks
like bulls. After asking a few questions relating to the location
of the various entrances and rooms, Ganimard carefully closed and
barricaded all the doors and windows through which one could gain
access to the threatened rooms. He inspected the walls, raised
the tapestries, and finally installed his assistants in the
central gallery which was located between the two salons.

"No nonsense! We are not here to sleep. At the slightest sound,
open the windows of the court and call me. Pay attention also to
the water-side. Ten metres of perpendicular rock is no obstacle
to those devils."

Ganimard locked his assistants in the gallery, carried away the
keys, and said to the baron:

"And now, to our post."

He had chosen for himself a small room located in the thick outer
wall, between the two principal doors, and which, in former years,
had been the watchman's quarters. A peep-hole opened upon the
bridge; another on the court. In one corner, there was an opening
to a tunnel.

"I believe you told me, Monsieur le Baron, that this tunnel is the
only subterranean entrance to the castle and that it has been
closed up for time immemorial?"

"Yes."

"Then, unless there is some other entrance, known only to Arsène
Lupin, we are quite safe."

He placed three chairs together, stretched himself upon them,
lighted his pipe and sighed:

"Really, Monsieur le Baron, I feel ashamed to accept your money
for such a sinecure as this. I will tell the story to my friend
Lupin. He will enjoy it immensely."

The baron did not laugh. He was anxiously listening, but heard
nothing save the beating of his own heart. From time to time, he
leaned over the tunnel and cast a fearful eye into its depths. He
heard the clock strike eleven, twelve, one.

Suddenly, he seized Ganimard's arm. The latter leaped up,
awakened from his sleep.

"Do you hear?" asked the baron, in a whisper.

"Yes."

"What is it?"

"I was snoring, I suppose."

"No, no, listen."

"Ah! yes, it is the horn of an automobile."

"Well?"

"Well! it is very improbable that Lupin would use an automobile
like a battering-ram to demolish your castle. Come, Monsieur le
Baron, return to your post. I am going to sleep. Good-night."

That was the only alarm. Ganimard resumed his interrupted
slumbers, and the baron heard nothing except the regular snoring
of his companion. At break of day, they left the room. The
castle was enveloped in a profound calm; it was a peaceful dawn on
the bosom of a tranquil river. They mounted the stairs, Cahorn
radiant with joy, Ganimard calm as usual. They heard no sound;
they saw nothing to arouse suspicion.

"What did I tell you, Monsieur le Baron? Really, I should not
have accepted your offer. I am ashamed."

He unlocked the door and entered the gallery. Upon two chairs,
with drooping heads and pendent arms, the detective's two
assistants were asleep.

"Tonnerre de nom d'un chien!" exclaimed Ganimard. At the same
moment, the baron cried out:

"The pictures! The credence!"

He stammered, choked, with arms outstretched toward the empty
places, toward the denuded walls where naught remained but the
useless nails and cords. The Watteau, disappeared! The Rubens,
carried away! The tapestries taken down! The cabinets, despoiled
of their jewels!

"And my Louis XVI candelabra! And the Regent chandelier!...And
my twelfth-century Virgin!"

He ran from one spot to another in wildest despair. He recalled
the purchase price of each article, added up the figures, counted
his losses, pell-mell, in confused words and unfinished phrases.
He stamped with rage; he groaned with grief. He acted like a
ruined man whose only hope is suicide.

If anything could have consoled him, it would have been the
stupefaction displayed by Ganimard. The famous detective did not
move. He appeared to be petrified; he examined the room in a
listless manner. The windows?....closed. The locks on the
doors?....intact. Not a break in the ceiling; not a hole in the
floor. Everything was in perfect order. The theft had been
carried out methodically, according to a logical and inexorable
plan.

"Arsène Lupin....Arsène Lupin," he muttered.

Suddenly, as if moved by anger, he rushed upon his two assistants
and shook them violently. They did not awaken.

"The devil!" he cried. "Can it be possible?"

He leaned over them and, in turn, examined them closely. They
were asleep; but their response was unnatural.

"They have been drugged," he said to the baron.

"By whom?"

"By him, of course, or his men under his discretion. That work
bears his stamp."

"In that case, I am lost--nothing can be done."

"Nothing," assented Ganimard.

"It is dreadful; it is monstrous."

"Lodge a complaint."

"What good will that do?"

"Oh; it is well to try it. The law has some resources."

"The law! Bah! it is useless. You represent the law, and, at
this moment, when you should be looking for a clue and trying to
discover something, you do not even stir."

"Discover something with Arsène Lupin! Why, my dear monsieur,
Arsène Lupin never leaves any clue behind him. He leaves nothing
to chance. Sometimes I think he put himself in my way and simply
allowed me to arrest him in America."

"Then, I must renounce my pictures! He has taken the gems of my
collection. I would give a fortune to recover them. If there is
no other way, let him name his own price."

Ganimard regarded the baron attentively, as he said:

"Now, that is sensible. Will you stick to it?"

"Yes, yes. But why?"

"An idea that I have."

"What is it?"

"We will discuss it later--if the official examination does not
succeed. But, not one word about me, if you wish my assistance."

He added, between his teeth:

"It is true I have nothing to boast of in this affair."

The assistants were gradually regaining consciousness with the
bewildered air of people who come out of an hypnotic sleep. They
opened their eyes and looked about them in astonishment. Ganimard
questioned them; they remembered nothing.

"But you must have seen some one?"

"No."

"Can't you remember?"

"No, no."

"Did you drink anything?"

They considered a moment, and then one of them replied:

"Yes, I drank a little water."

"Out of that carafe?"

"Yes."

"So did I," declared the other.

Ganimard smelled and tasted it. It had no particular taste and no
odor.

"Come," he said, "we are wasting our time here. One can't decide
an Arsène Lupin problem in five minutes. But, morbleau! I swear
I will catch him again."

The same day, a charge of burglary was duly performed by Baron
Cahorn against Arsène Lupin, a prisoner in the Prison de la Santé.

* * * * *

The baron afterwards regretted making the charge against Lupin
when he saw his castle delivered over to the gendarmes, the
procureur, the judge d'instruction, the newspaper reporters and
photographers, and a throng of idle curiosity-seekers.

The affair soon became a topic of general discussion, and the name
of Arsène Lupin excited the public imagination to such an extent
that the newspapers filled their columns with the most fantastic
stories of his exploits which found ready credence amongst their
readers.

But the letter of Arsène Lupin that was published in the `Echo de
France' (no once ever knew how the newspaper obtained it), that
letter in which Baron Cahorn was impudently warned of the coming
theft, caused considerable excitement. The most fabulous theories
were advanced. Some recalled the existence of the famous
subterranean tunnels, and that was the line of research pursued by
the officers of the law, who searched the house from top to
bottom, questioned every stone, studied the wainscoting and the
chimneys, the window-frames and the girders in the ceilings. By
the light of torches, they examined the immense cellars where the
lords of Malaquis were wont to store their munitions and
provisions. They sounded the rocky foundation to its very centre.
But it was all in vain. They discovered no trace of a subterranean
tunnel. No secret passage existed.

But the eager public declared that the pictures and furniture
could not vanish like so many ghosts. They are substantial,
material things and require doors and windows for their exits and
their entrances, and so do the people that remove them. Who were
those people? How did they gain access to the castle? And how
did they leave it?

The police officers of Rouen, convinced of their own impotence,
solicited the assistance of the Parisian detective force. Mon.
Dudouis, chief of the Sûreté, sent the best sleuths of the iron
brigade. He himself spent forty-eight hours at the castle, but
met with no success. Then he sent for Ganimard, whose past
services had proved so useful when all else failed.

Ganimard listened, in silence, to the instructions of his
superior; then, shaking his head, he said:

"In my opinion, it is useless to ransack the castle. The solution
of the problem lies elsewhere."

"Where, then?"

"With Arsène Lupin."

"With Arsène Lupin! To support that theory, we must admit his
intervention."

"I do admit it. In fact, I consider it quite certain."

"Come, Ganimard, that is absurd. Arsène Lupin is in prison."

"I grant you that Arsène Lupin is in prison, closely guarded; but
he must have fetters on his feet, manacles on his wrists, and gag
in his mouth before I change my opinion."

"Why so obstinate, Ganimard?"

"Because Arsène Lupin is the only man in France of sufficient
calibre to invent and carry out a scheme of that magnitude."

"Mere words, Ganimard."

"But true ones. Look! What are they doing? Searching for
subterranean passages, stones swinging on pivots, and other nonsense
of that kind. But Lupin doesn't employ such old-fashioned methods.
He is a modern cracksman, right up to date."

"And how would you proceed?"

"I should ask your permission to spend an hour with him."

"In his cell?"

"Yes. During the return trip from America we became very
friendly, and I venture to say that if he can give me any
information without compromising himself he will not hesitate to
save me from incurring useless trouble."

It was shortly after noon when Ganimard entered the cell of Arsène
Lupin. The latter, who was lying on his bed, raised his head and
uttered a cry of apparent joy.

"Ah! This is a real surprise. My dear Ganimard, here!"

"Ganimard himself."

"In my chosen retreat, I have felt a desire for many things, but
my fondest wish was to receive you here."

"Very kind of you, I am sure."

"Not at all. You know I hold you in the highest regard."

"I am proud of it."

"I have always said: Ganimard is our best detective. He is
almost,--you see how candid I am!--he is almost as clever as
Sherlock Holmes. But I am sorry that I cannot offer you anything
better than this hard stool. And no refreshments! Not even a
glass of beer! Of course, you will excuse me, as I am here only
temporarily."

Ganimard smiled, and accepted the proffered seat. Then the
prisoner continued:

"Mon Dieu, how pleased I am to see the face of an honest man. I
am so tired of those devils of spies who come here ten times a day
to ransack my pockets and my cell to satisfy themselves that I am
not preparing to escape. The government is very solicitous on my
account."

"It is quite right."

"Why so? I should be quite contented if they would allow me to
live in my own quiet way."

"On other people's money."

"Quite so. That would be so simple. But here, I am joking, and
you are, no doubt, in a hurry. So let us come to business,
Ganimard. To what do I owe the honor of this visit?

"The Cahorn affair," declared Ganimard, frankly.

"Ah! Wait, one moment. You see I have had so many affairs!
First, let me fix in my mind the circumstances of this particular
case....Ah! yes, now I have it. The Cahorn affair, Malaquis
castle, Seine-Inférieure....Two Rubens, a Watteau, and a few
trifling articles."

"Trifling!"

"Oh! ma foi, all that is of slight importance. But it suffices to
know that the affair interests you. How can I serve you,
Ganimard?"

"Must I explain to you what steps the authorities have taken in
the matter?"

"Not at all. I have read the newspapers and I will frankly state
that you have made very little progress."

"And that is the reason I have come to see you."

"I am entirely at your service."

"In the first place, the Cahorn affair was managed by you?"

"From A to Z."

"The letter of warning? the telegram?"

"All mine. I ought to have the receipts somewhere."

Arsène opened the drawer of a small table of plain white wood
which, with the bed and stool, constituted all the furniture in
his cell, and took therefrom two scraps of paper which he handed
to Ganimard.

"Ah!" exclaimed the detective, in surprise, "I though you were
closely guarded and searched, and I find that you read the
newspapers and collect postal receipts."

"Bah! these people are so stupid! They open the lining of my
vest, they examine the soles of my shoes, they sound the walls of
my cell, but they never imagine that Arsène Lupin would be foolish
enough to choose such a simple hiding place."

Ganimard laughed, as he said:

"What a droll fellow you are! Really, you bewilder me. But, come
now, tell me about the Cahorn affair."

"Oh! oh! not quite so fast! You would rob me of all my secrets;
expose all my little tricks. That is a very serious matter."

"Was I wrong to count on your complaisance?"

"No, Ganimard, and since you insist---"

Arsène Lupin paced his cell two or three times, then, stopping
before Ganimard, he asked:

"What do you think of my letter to the baron?"

"I think you were amusing yourself by playing to the gallery."

"Ah! playing to the gallery! Come, Ganimard, I thought you knew
me better. Do I, Arsène Lupin, ever waste my time on such
puerilities? Would I have written that letter if I could have
robbed the baron without writing to him? I want you to understand
that the letter was indispensable; it was the motor that set the
whole machine in motion. Now, let us discuss together a scheme
for the robbery of the Malaquis castle. Are you willing?"

"Yes, proceed."

"Well, let us suppose a castle carefully closed and barricaded
like that of the Baron Cahorn. Am I to abandon my scheme and
renounce the treasures that I covet, upon the pretext that the
castle which holds them is inaccessible?"

"Evidently not."

"Should I make an assault upon the castle at the head of a band of
adventurers as they did in ancient times?"

"That would be foolish."

"Can I gain admittance by stealth or cunning?"

"Impossible."

"Then there is only one way open to me. I must have the owner of
the castle invite me to it."

"That is surely an original method."

"And how easy! Let us suppose that one day the owner receives a
letter warning him that a notorious burglar known as Arsène Lupin
is plotting to rob him. What will he do?"

"Send a letter to the Procureur."

"Who will laugh at him, *because the said Arsène Lupin is actually
in prison.* Then, in his anxiety and fear, the simple man will
ask the assistance of the first-comer, will he not?"

"Very likely."

"And if he happens to read in a country newspaper that a
celebrated detective is spending his vacation in a neighboring
town---"

"He will seek that detective."

"Of course. But, on the other hand, let us presume that, having
foreseen that state of affairs, the said Arsène Lupin has
requested one of his friends to visit Caudebec, make the
acquaintance of the editor of the `Réveil,' a newspaper to which
the baron is a subscriber, and let said editor understand that
such person is the celebrated detective--then, what will happen?"

"The editor will announce in the `Réveil' the presence in Caudebec
of said detective."

"Exactly; and one of two things will happen: either the fish--I
mean Cahorn--will not bite, and nothing will happen; or, what is
more likely, he will run and greedily swallow the bait. Thus,
behold my Baron Cahorn imploring the assistance of one of my
friends against me."

"Original, indeed!"

"Of course, the pseudo-detective at first refuses to give any
assistance. On top of that comes the telegram from Arsène Lupin.
The frightened baron rushes once more to my friend and offers him
a definite sum of money for his services. My friend accepts and
summons two members of our band, who, during the night, whilst
Cahorn is under the watchful eye of his protector, removes certain
articles by way of the window and lowers them with ropes into a
nice little launch chartered for the occasion. Simple, isn't it?"

"Marvelous! Marvelous!" exclaimed Ganimard. "The boldness of the
scheme and the ingenuity of all its details are beyond criticism.
But who is the detective whose name and fame served as a magnet to
attract the baron and draw him into your net?"

"There is only one name could do it--only one."

"And that is?"

"Arsène Lupin's personal enemy--the most illustrious Ganimard."

"I?"

"Yourself, Ganimard. And, really, it is very funny. If you go
there, and the baron decides to talk, you will find that it will
be your duty to arrest yourself, just as you arrested me in
America. Hein! the revenge is really amusing: I cause Ganimard to
arrest Ganimard."

Arsène Lupin laughed heartily. The detective, greatly vexed, bit
his lips; to him the joke was quite devoid of humor. The arrival
of a prison guard gave Ganimard an opportunity to recover himself.
The man brought Arsène Lupin's luncheon, furnished by a
neighboring restaurant. After depositing the tray upon the table,
the guard retired. Lupin broke his bread, ate a few morsels, and
continued:

"But, rest easy, my dear Ganimard, you will not go to Malaquis. I
can tell you something that will astonish you: the Cahorn affair
is on the point of being settled."

"Excuse me; I have just seen the Chief of the Sureté."

"What of that? Does Mon. Dudouis know my business better than I
do myself? You will learn that Ganimard--excuse me--that the
pseudo-Ganimard still remains on very good terms with the baron.
The latter has authorized him to negotiate a very delicate
transaction with me, and, at the present moment, in consideration
of a certain sum, it is probable that the baron has recovered
possession of his pictures and other treasures. And on their
return, he will withdraw his complaint. Thus, there is no longer
any theft, and the law must abandon the case."

Ganimard regarded the prisoner with a bewildered air.

"And how do you know all that?"

"I have just received the telegram I was expecting."

"You have just received a telegram?"

"This very moment, my dear friend. Out of politeness, I did not
wish to read it in your presence. But if you will permit me---"

"You are joking, Lupin."

"My dear friend, if you will be so kind as to break that egg, you
will learn for yourself that I am not joking."

Mechanically, Ganimard obeyed, and cracked the egg-shell with the
blade of a knife. He uttered a cry of surprise. The shell
contained nothing but a small piece of blue paper. At the request
of Arsène he unfolded it. It was a telegram, or rather a portion
of a telegram from which the post-marks had been removed. It read
as follows:

"Contract closed. Hundred thousand balls delivered. All well."

"One hundred thousand balls?" said Ganimard.

"Yes, one hundred thousand francs. Very little, but then, you
know, these are hard times....And I have some heavy bills to meet.
If you only knew my budget....living in the city comes very high."

Ganimard arose. His ill humor had disappeared. He reflected for
a moment, glancing over the whole affair in an effort to discover
a weak point; then, in a tone and manner that betrayed his
admiration of the prisoner, he said:

"Fortunately, we do not have a dozen such as you to deal with; if
we did, we would have to close up shop."

Arsène Lupin assumed a modest air, as he replied:

"Bah! a person must have some diversion to occupy his leisure
hours, especially when he is in prison."

"What!" exclaimed Ganimard, "your trial, your defense, the
examination--isn't that sufficient to occupy your mind?"

"No, because I have decided not to be present at my trial."

"Oh! oh!"

Arsène Lupin repeated, positively:

"I shall not be present at my trial."

"Really!"

"Ah! my dear monsieur, do you suppose I am going to rot upon the
wet straw? You insult me. Arsène Lupin remains in prison just as
long as it pleases him, and not one minute more."

"Perhaps it would have been more prudent if you had avoided
getting there," said the detective, ironically.

"Ah! monsieur jests? Monsieur must remember that he had the honor
to effect my arrest. Know then, my worthy friend, that no one,
not even you, could have placed a hand upon me if a much more
important event had occupied my attention at that critical
moment."

"You astonish me."

"A woman was looking at me, Ganimard, and I loved her. Do you
fully understand what that means: to be under the eyes of a woman
that one loves? I cared for nothing in the world but that. And
that is why I am here."

"Permit me to say: you have been here a long time."

"In the first place, I wished to forget. Do not laugh; it was a
delightful adventure and it is still a tender memory. Besides, I
have been suffering from neurasthenia. Life is so feverish these
days that it is necessary to take the `rest cure' occasionally,
and I find this spot a sovereign remedy for my tired nerves."

"Arsène Lupin, you are not a bad fellow, after all."

"Thank you," said Lupin. "Ganimard, this is Friday. On Wednesday
next, at four o'clock in the afternoon, I will smoke my cigar at
your house in the rue Pergolese."

"Arsène Lupin, I will expect you."

They shook hands like two old friends who valued each other at
their true worth; then the detective stepped to the door.

"Ganimard!"

"What is it?" asked Ganimard, as he turned back.

"You have forgotten your watch."

"My watch?"

"Yes, it strayed into my pocket."

He returned the watch, excusing himself"

"Pardon me....a bad habit. Because they have taken mine is nor
reason why I should take yours. Besides, I have a chronometer
here that satisfies me fairly well."

He took from the drawer a large gold watch and heavy chain.

"From whose pocket did that come?" asked Ganimard.

Arsène Lupin gave a hasty glance at the initials engraved on the
watch.

"J.B.....Who the devil can that be?....Ah! yes, I remember. Jules
Bouvier, the judge who conducted my examination. A charming
fellow!...."

III. The Escape of Arsène Lupin

Arsène Lupin had just finished his repast and taken from his
pocket and excellent cigar, with a gold band, which he was
examining with unusual care, when the door of his cell was opened.
He had barely time to throw the cigar into the drawer and move
away from the table. The guard entered. It was the hour for
exercise.

"I was waiting for you, my dear boy," exclaimed Lupin, in his
accustomed good humor.

They went out together. As soon as they had disappeared at a turn
in the corridor, two men entered the cell and commenced a minute
examination of it. One was Inspector Dieuzy; the other was
Inspector Folenfant. They wished to verify their suspicion that
Arsène Lupin was in communication with his accomplices outside of
the prison. On the preceding evening, the `Grand Journal' had
published these lines addressed to its court reporter:

"Monsieur:
"In a recent article you referred to me in most unjustifiable
terms. Some days before the opening of my trial I will call you
to account. Arsène Lupin."

The handwriting was certainly that of Arsène Lupin. Consequently,
he sent letters; and, no doubt, received letters. It was certain
that he was preparing for that escape thus arrogantly announced by
him.

The situation had become intolerable. Acting in conjunction with
the examining judge, the chief of the Sûreté, Mon. Dudouis, had
visited the prison and instructed the gaoler in regard to the
precautions necessary to insure Lupin's safety. At the same time,
he sent the two men to examine the prisoner's cell. They raised
every stone, ransacked the bed, did everything customary in such a
case, but they discovered nothing, and were about to abandon their
investigation when the guard entered hastily and said:

"The drawer....look in the table-drawer. When I entered just now
he was closing it."

They opened the drawer, and Dieuzy exclaimed:

"Ah! we have him this time."

Folenfant stopped him.

"Wait a moment. The chief will want to make an inventory."

"This is a very choice cigar."

"Leave it there, and notify the chief."

Two minutes later Mon. Dudouis examined the contents of the
drawer. First he discovered a bundle of newspaper clippings
relating to Arsène Lupin taken from the `Argus de la Presse,' then
a tobacco-box, a pipe, some paper called "onion-peel," and two
books. He read the titles of the books. One was an English
edition of Carlyle's "Hero-worship"; the other was a charming
elzevir, in modern binding, the "Manual of Epictetus," a German
translation published at Leyden in 1634. On examining the books,
he found that all the pages were underlined and annotated. Were
they prepared as a code for correspondence, or did they simply
express the studious character of the reader? Then he examined
the tobacco-box and the pipe. Finally, he took up the famous
cigar with its gold band.

"Fichtre!" he exclaimed. "Our friend smokes a good cigar. It's a
Henry Clay."

With the mechanical action of an habitual smoker, he placed the
cigar close to his ear and squeezed it to make it crack.
Immediately he uttered a cry of surprise. The cigar had yielded
under the pressure of his fingers. He examined it more closely,
and quickly discovered something white between the leaves of
tobacco. Delicately, with the aid of a pin, he withdrew a roll of
very thin paper, scarcely larger than a toothpick. It was a
letter. He unrolled it, and found these words, written in a
feminine handwriting:

"The basket has taken the place of the others. Eight out of ten
are ready. On pressing the outer foot the plate goes downward.
From twelve to sixteen every day, H-P will wait. But where?
Reply at once. Rest easy; your friend is watching over you."

Mon. Dudouis reflected a moment, then said:

"It is quite clear....the basket....the eight compartments....
From twelve to sixteen mean from twelve to four o'clock."

"But this H-P, that will wait?"

"H-P must mean automobile. H-P, horsepower, is the way they
indicate strength of the motor. A twenty-four H-P is an
automobile of twenty-four horsepower."

Then he rose, and asked:

"Had the prisoner finished his breakfast?"

"Yes."

"And as he has not yet read the message, which is proved by the
condition of the cigar, it is probable that he had just received
it."

"How?"

"In his food. Concealed in his bread of in a potato, perhaps."

"Impossible. His food was allowed to be brought in simply to trap
him, but we have never found anything in it."

"We will look for Lupin's reply this evening. Detain him outside
for a few minutes. I shall take this to the examining judge, and,
if he agrees with me, we will have the letter photographed at
once, and in an hour you can replace the letter in the drawer in a
cigar similar to this. The prisoner must have no cause for
suspicion."

It was not without a certain curiosity that Mon. Dudouis returned
to the prison in the evening, accompanied by Inspector Dieuzy.
Three empty plates were sitting on the stove in the corner.

"He has eaten?"

"Yes," replied the guard.

"Dieuzy, please cut that macaroni into very small pieces, and open
that bread-roll....Nothing?"

"No, chief."

Mon. Dudouis examined the plates, the fork, the spoon, and the
knife--an ordinary knife with a rounded blade. He turned the
handle to the left; then to the right. It yielded and unscrewed.
The knife was hollow, and served as a hiding-place for a sheet of
paper.

"Peuh!" he said, "that is not very clever for a man like Arsène.
But we mustn't lose any time. You, Dieuzy, go and search the
restaurant."

Then he read the note:

"I trust to you, H-P will follow at a distance every day. I will
go ahead. Au revoir, dear friend."

"At last," cried Mon. Dudouis, rubbing his hands gleefully, "I
think we have the affair in our own hands. A little strategy on
our part, and the escape will be a success in so far as the arrest
of his confederates are concerned."

"But if Arsène Lupin slips through your fingers?" suggested the
guard.

"We will have a sufficient number of men to prevent that. If,
however, he displays too much cleverness, ma foi, so much the
worse for him! As to his band of robbers, since the chief refuses
to speak, the others must."

* * * * *

And, as a matter of fact, Arsène Lupin had very little to say.
For several months, Mon. Jules Bouvier, the examining judge, had
exerted himself in vain. The investigation had been reduced to a
few uninteresting arguments between the judge and the advocate,
Maître Danval, one of the leaders of the bar. From time to time,
through courtesy, Arsène Lupin would speak. One day he said:

"Yes, monsieur, le judge, I quite agree with you: the robbery of
the Crédit Lyonnais, the theft in the rue de Babylone, the issue
of the counterfeit bank-notes, the burglaries at the various
châteaux, Armesnil, Gouret, Imblevain, Groseillers, Malaquis, all
my work, monsieur, I did it all."

"Then will you explain to me---"

"It is useless. I confess everything in a lump, everything and
even ten times more than you know nothing about."

Wearied by his fruitless task, the judge had suspended his
examinations, but he resumed them after the two intercepted
messages were brought to his attention; and regularly, at mid-day,
Arsène Lupin was taken from the prison to the Dépôt in the
prison-van with a certain number of other prisoners. They
returned about three or four o'clock.

Now, one afternoon, this return trip was made under unusual
conditions. The other prisoners not having been examined, it was
decided to take back Arsène Lupin first, thus he found himself
alone in the vehicle.

These prison-vans, vulgarly called "panniers à salade"--or salad-
baskets--are divided lengthwise by a central corridor from which
open ten compartments, five on either side. Each compartment is
so arranged that the occupant must assume and retain a sitting
posture, and, consequently, the five prisoners are seated one upon
the other, and yet separated one from the other by partitions. A
municipal guard, standing at one end, watches over the corridor.

Arsène was placed in the third cell on the right, and the heavy
vehicle started. He carefully calculated when they left the quai
de l'Horloge, and when they passed the Palais de Justice. Then,
about the centre of the bridge Saint Michel, with his outer foot,
that is to say, his right foot, he pressed upon the metal place
that closed his cell. Immediately something clicked, and the
metal plate moved. He was able to ascertain that he was located
between the two wheels.

He waited, keeping a sharp look-out. The vehicle was proceeding
slowly along the boulevard Saint Michel. At the corner of Saint
Germain it stopped. A truck horse had fallen. The traffic having
been interrupted, a cast throng of fiacres and omnibuses had
gathered there. Arsène Lupin looked out. Another prison-van had
stopped close to the one he occupied. He moved the plate still
farther, put his foot on one of the spokes of the wheel and leaped
to the ground. A coachman saw him, roared with laughter, then
tried to raise an outcry, but his voice was lost in the noise of
the traffic that had commenced to move again. Moreover, Arsène
Lupin was already far away.

He had run for a few steps; but, once upon the sidewalk, he turned
and looked around; he seemed to scent the wind like a person who
is uncertain which direction to take. Then, having decided, he
put his hands in his pockets, and, with the careless air of an
idle stroller, he proceeded up the boulevard. It was a warm,
bright autumn day, and the cafés were full. He took a seat on the
terrace of one of them. He ordered a bock and a package of
cigarettes. He emptied his glass slowly, smoked one cigarette and
lighted a second. Then he asked the waiter to send the proprietor
to him. When the proprietor came, Arsène spoke to him in a voice
loud enough to be heard by everyone:

"I regret to say, monsieur, I have forgotten my pocketbook.
Perhaps, on the strength of my name, you will be pleased to give
me credit for a few days. I am Arsène Lupin."

The proprietor looked at him, thinking he was joking. But Arsène
repeated:

"Lupin, prisoner at the Santé, but now a fugitive. I venture to
assume that the name inspires you with perfect confidence in me."

And he walked away, amidst shouts of laughter, whilst the
proprietor stood amazed.

Lupin strolled along the rue Soufflot, and turned into the rue
Saint Jacques. He pursued his way slowly, smoking his cigarettes
and looking into the shop-windows. At the Boulevard de Port Royal
he took his bearings, discovered where he was, and then walked in
the direction of the rue de la Santé. The high forbidding walls
of the prison were now before him. He pulled his hat forward to
shape his face; then, approaching the sentinel, he asked:

"It this the prison de la Santé?"

"Yes."

"I wish to regain my cell. The van left me on the way, and I
would not abuse--"

"Now, young man, move along--quick!" growled the sentinel.

"Pardon me, but I must pass through that gate. And if you prevent
Arsène Lupin from entering the prison it will cost you dear, my
friend."

"Arsène Lupin! What are you talking about!"

"I am sorry I haven't a card with me," said Arsène, fumbling in
his pockets.

The sentinel eyed him from head to foot, in astonishment. Then,
without a word, he rang a bell. The iron gate was partly opened,
and Arsène stepped inside. Almost immediately he encountered the
keeper of the prison, gesticulating and feigning a violent anger.
Arsène smiled and said:

"Come, monsieur, don't play that game with me. What! they take
the precaution to carry me alone in the van, prepare a nice little
obstruction, and imagine I am going to take to my heels and rejoin
my friends. Well, and what about the twenty agents of the Sûreté
who accompanied us on foot, in fiacres and on bicycles? No, the
arrangement did not please me. I should not have got away alive.
Tell me, monsieur, did they count on that?"

He shrugged his shoulders, and added:

"I beg of you, monsieur, not to worry about me. When I wish to
escape I shall not require any assistance."

On the second day thereafter, the `Echo de France,' which had
apparently become the official reporter of the exploits of Arsène
Lupin, it was said that he was one of its principal shareholders--
published a most complete account of this attempted escape. The
exact wording of the messages exchanged between the prisoner and
his mysterious friend, the means by which correspondence was
constructed, the complicity of the police, the promenade on the
Boulevard Saint Michel, the incident at the café Soufflot,
everything was disclosed. It was known that the search of the
restaurant and its waiters by Inspector Dieuzy had been fruitless.
And the public also learned an extraordinary thing which
demonstrated the infinite variety of resources that Lupin
possessed: the prison-van, in which he was being carried, was
prepared for the occasion and substituted by his accomplices for
one of the six vans which did service at the prison.

The next escape of Arsène Lupin was not doubted by anyone. He
announced it himself, in categorical terms, in a reply to Mon.
Bouvier on the day following his attempted escape. The judge
having made a jest about the affair, Arsène was annoyed, and,
firmly eyeing the judge, he said, emphatically:

"Listen to me, monsieur! I give you my word of honor that this
attempted flight was simply preliminary to my general plan of
escape."

"I do not understand," said the judge.

"It is not necessary that you should understand."

And when the judge, in the course of that examination which was
reported at length in the columns of the `Echo de France,' when
the judge sought to resume his investigation, Arsène Lupin
exclaimed, with an assumed air of lassitude:

"Mon Dieu, Mon Dieu, what's the use! All these questions are of
no importance!"

"What! No importance?" cried the judge.

"No; because I shall not be present at the trial."

"You will not be present?"

"No; I have fully decided on that, and nothing will change my
mind."

Such assurance combined with the inexplicable indiscretions that
Arsène committed every day served to annoy and mystify the
officers of the law. There were secrets known only to Arsène
Lupin; secrets that he alone could divulge. But for what purpose
did he reveal them? And how?

Arsène Lupin was changed to another cell. The judge closed his
preliminary investigation. No further proceedings were taken in
his case for a period of two months, during which time Arsène was
seen almost constantly lying on his bed with his face turned
toward the wall. The changing of his cell seemed to discourage
him. He refused to see his advocate. He exchanged only a few
necessary words with his keepers.

During the fortnight preceding his trial, he resumed his vigorous
life. He complained of want of air. Consequently, early every
morning he was allowed to exercise in the courtyard, guarded by
two men.

Public curiosity had not died out; every day it expected to be
regaled with news of his escape; and, it is true, he had gained a
considerable amount of public sympathy by reason of his verve, his
gayety, his diversity, his inventive genius and the mystery of his
life. Arsène Lupin must escape. It was his inevitable fate. The
public expected it, and was surprised that the event had been
delayed so long. Every morning the Préfect of Police asked his
secretary:

"Well, has he escaped yet?"

"No, Monsieur le Préfect."

"To-morrow, probably."

And, on the day before the trial, a gentleman called at the office
of the `Grand Journal,' asked to see the court reporter, threw his
card in the reporter's face, and walked rapidly away. These words
were written on the card: "Arsène Lupin always keeps his
promises."

* * * * *

It was under these conditions that the trial commenced. An
enormous crowd gathered at the court. Everybody wished to see the
famous Arsène Lupin. They had a gleeful anticipation that the
prisoner would play some audacious pranks upon the judge.
Advocates and magistrates, reporters and men of the world,
actresses and society women were crowded together on the benches
provided for the public.

It was a dark, sombre day, with a steady downpour of rain. Only a
dim light pervaded the courtroom, and the spectators caught a very
indistinct view of the prisoner when the guards brought him in.
But his heavy, shambling walk, the manner in which he dropped into
his seat, and his passive, stupid appearance were not at all
prepossessing. Several times his advocate--one of Mon. Danval's
assistants--spoke to him, but he simply shook his head and said
nothing.

The clerk read the indictment, then the judge spoke:

"Prisoner at the bar, stand up. Your name, age, and occupation?"

Not receiving any reply, the judge repeated:

"Your name? I ask you your name?"

A thick, slow voice muttered:

"Baudru, Désiré."

A murmur of surprise pervaded the courtroom. But the judge
proceeded:

"Baudru, Désiré? Ah! a new alias! Well, as you have already
assumed a dozen different names and this one is, no doubt, as
imaginary as the others, we will adhere to the name of Arsène
Lupin, by which you are more generally known."

The judge referred to his notes, and continued:

"For, despite the most diligent search, your past history remains
unknown. Your case is unique in the annals of crime. We know not
whom you are, whence you came, your birth and breeding--all is a
mystery to us. Three years ago you appeared in our midst as
Arsène Lupin, presenting to us a strange combination of
intelligence and perversion, immorality and generosity.
Our knowledge of your life prior to that date is vague and
problematical. It may be that the man called Rostat who, eight
years ago, worked with Dickson, the prestidigitator, was none
other than Arsène Lupin. It is probably that the Russian student
who, six years ago, attended the laboratory of Doctor Altier at
the Saint Louis Hospital, and who often astonished the doctor by
his ingenuity of his hypotheses on subjects of bacteriology and
the boldness of his experiments in diseases of the skin, was none
other than Arsène Lupin. It is probable, also, that Arsène Lupin
was the professor who introduced the Japanese art of jiu-jitsu to
the Parisian public. We have some reason to believe that Arsène
Lupin was the bicyclist who won the Grand Prix de l'Exposition,
received his ten thousand francs, and was never heard of again.
Arsène Lupin may have been, also, the person who saved so many
lives through the little dormer-window at the Charity Bazaar;
and, at the same time, picked their pockets."

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