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

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The judge paused for a moment, then continued:

"Such is that epoch which seems to have been utilized by you in a
thorough preparation for the warfare you have since waged against
society; a methodical apprenticeship in which you developed your
strength, energy and skill to the highest point possible. Do you
acknowledge the accuracy of these facts?"

During this discourse the prisoner had stood balancing himself,
first on one foot, then on the other, with shoulders stooped and
arms inert. Under the strongest light one could observe his
extreme thinness, his hollow cheeks, his projecting cheek-bones,
his earthen-colored face dotted with small red spots and framed in
a rough, straggling beard. Prison life had caused him to age and
wither. He had lost the youthful face and elegant figure we had
seen portrayed so often in the newspapers.

It appeared as if he had not heard the question propounded by the
judge. Twice it was repeated to him. Then he raised his eyes,
seemed to reflect, then, making a desperate effort, he murmured:

"Baudru, Désiré."

The judge smiled, as he said:

"I do not understand the theory of your defense, Arsène Lupin. If
you are seeking to avoid responsibility for your crimes on the
ground of imbecility, such a line of defense is open to you. But
I shall proceed with the trial and pay no heed to your vagaries."

He then narrated at length the various thefts, swindles and
forgeries charged against Lupin. Sometimes he questioned the
prisoner, but the latter simply grunted or remained silent. The
examination of witnesses commenced. Some of the evidence given
was immaterial; other portions of it seemed more important, but
through all of it there ran a vein of contradictions and
inconsistencies. A wearisome obscurity enveloped the proceedings,
until Detective Ganimard was called as a witness; then interest
was revived.

From the beginning the actions of the veteran detective appeared
strange and unaccountable. He was nervous and ill at ease.
Several times he looked at the prisoner, with obvious doubt and
anxiety. Then, with his hands resting on the rail in front of
him, he recounted the events in which he had participated,
including his pursuit of the prisoner across Europe and his
arrival in America. He was listened to with great avidity, as his
capture of Arsène Lupin was well known to everyone through the
medium of the press. Toward the close of his testimony, after
referring to his conversations with Arsène Lupin, he stopped,
twice, embarrassed and undecided. It was apparent that he was
possessed of some thought which he feared to utter. The judge
said to him, sympathetically:

"If you are ill, you may retire for the present."

"No, no, but---"

He stopped, looked sharply at the prisoner, and said:

"I ask permission to scrutinize the prisoner at closer range.
There is some mystery about him that I must solve."

He approached the accused man, examined him attentively for
several minutes, then returned to the witness-stand, and, in an
almost solemn voice, he said:

"I declare, on oath, that the prisoner now before me is not Arsène
Lupin."

A profound silence followed the statement. The judge, nonplused
for a moment, exclaimed:

"Ah! What do you mean? That is absurd!"

The detective continued:

"At first sight there is a certain resemblance, but if you
carefully consider the nose, the mouth, the hair, the color of
skin, you will see that it is not Arsène Lupin. And the eyes!
Did he ever have those alcoholic eyes!"

"Come, come, witness! What do you mean? Do you pretend to say
that we are trying the wrong man?"

"In my opinion, yes. Arsène Lupin has, in some manner, contrived
to put this poor devil in his place, unless this man is a willing
accomplice."

This dramatic dénouement caused much laughter and excitement
amongst the spectators. The judge adjourned the trial, and sent
for Mon. Bouvier, the gaoler, and guards employed in the prison.

When the trial was resumed, Mon. Bouvier and the gaoler examined
the accused and declared that there was only a very slight
resemblance between the prisoner and Arsène Lupin.

"Well, then!" exclaimed the judge, "who is this man? Where does
he come from? What is he in prison for?"

Two of the prison-guards were called and both of them declared
that the prisoner was Arsène Lupin. The judged breathed once
more.

But one of the guards then said:

"Yes, yes, I think it is he."

"What!" cried the judge, impatiently, "you *think* it is he! What
do you mean by that?"

"Well, I saw very little of the prisoner. He was placed in my
charge in the evening and, for two months, he seldom stirred, but
laid on his bed with his face to the wall."

"What about the time prior to those two months?"

"Before that he occupied a cell in another part of the prison. He
was not in cell 24."

Here the head gaoler interrupted, and said:

"We changed him to another cell after his attempted escape."

"But you, monsieur, you have seen him during those two months?"

"I had no occasion to see him. He was always quiet and orderly."

"And this prisoner is not Arsène Lupin?"

"No."

"Then who is he?" demanded the judge.

"I do not know."

"Then we have before us a man who was substituted for Arsène
Lupin, two months ago. How do you explain that?"

"I cannot."

In absolute despair, the judge turned to the accused and addressed
him in a conciliatory tone:

"Prisoner, can you tell me how, and since when, you became an
inmate of the Prison de la Santé?"

The engaging manner of the judge was calculated to disarm the
mistrust and awaken the understanding of the accused man. He
tried to reply. Finally, under clever and gentle questioning, he
succeeded in framing a few phrases from which the following story
was gleaned: Two months ago he had been taken to the Dépôt,
examined and released. As he was leaving the building, a free
man, he was seized by two guards and placed in the prison-van.
Since then he had occupied cell 24. He was contented there,
plenty to eat, and he slept well--so he did not complain.

All that seemed probable; and, amidst the mirth and excitement of
the spectators, the judge adjourned the trial until the story
could be investigated and verified.

* * * * *

The following facts were at once established by an examination of
the prison records: Eight weeks before a man named Baudru Désiré
had slept at the Dépôt. He was released the next day, and left
the Dépôt at two o'clock in the afternoon. On the same day at two
o'clock, having been examined for the last time, Arsène Lupin left
the Dépôt in a prison-van.

Had the guards made a mistake? Had then been deceived by the
resemblance and carelessly substituted this man for their
prisoner?

Another question suggested itself: Had the substitution been
arranged in advance? In that event Baudru must have been an
accomplice and must have caused his own arrest for the express
purpose of taking Lupin's place. But then, by what miracle had
such a plan, based on a series of improbable chances, been carried
to success?

Baudru Désiré was turned over to the anthropological service; they
had never seen anything like him. However, they easily traced his
past history. He was known at Courbevois, at Asnières and at
Levallois. He lived on alms and slept in one of those rag-picker's
huts near the barrier de Ternes. He had disappeared from there a
year ago.

Had he been enticed away by Arsène Lupin? There was no evidence to
that effect. And even if that was so, it did not explain the
flight of the prisoner. That still remained a mystery. Amongst
twenty theories which sought to explain it, not one was
satisfactory. Of the escape itself, there was no doubt; an escape
that was incomprehensible, sensational, in which the public, as
well as the officers of the law, could detect a carefully prepared
plan, a combination of circumstances marvelously dove-tailed,
whereof the dénouement fully justified the confident prediction of
Arsène Lupin: "I shall not be present at my trial."

After a month of patient investigation, the problem remained
unsolved. The poor devil of a Baudru could not be kept in prison
indefinitely, and to place him on trial would be ridiculous. There
was no charge against him. Consequently, he was released; but the
chief of the Sûrété resolved to keep him under surveillance. This
idea originated with Ganimard. From his point of view there was
neither complicity nor chance. Baudru was an instrument upon which
Arsène Lupin had played with his extraordinary skill. Baudru, when
set at liberty, would lead them to Arsène Lupin or, at least, to
some of his accomplices. The two inspectors, Folenfant and Dieuzy,
were assigned to assist Ganimard.

One foggy morning in January the prison gates opened and Baudru
Désiré stepped forth--a free man. At first he appeared to be quite
embarrassed, and walked like a person who has no precise idea
whither he is going. He followed the rue de la Santé and the rue
Saint Jacques. He stopped in front of an old-clothes shop, removed
his jacket and his vest, sold his vest on which he realized a few
sous; then, replacing his jacket, he proceeded on his way. He
crossed the Seine. At the Châtelet an omnibus passed him. He
wished to enter it, but there was no place. The controller advised
him to secure a number, so he entered the waiting-room.

Ganimard called to his two assistants, and, without removing his
eyes from the waiting room, he said to them:

"Stop a carriage....no, two. That will be better. I will go with
one of you, and we will follow him."

The men obeyed. Yet Baudru did not appear. Ganimard entered the
waiting-room. It was empty.

"Idiot that I am!" he muttered, "I forgot there was another exit."

There was an interior corridor extending from the waiting-room to
the rue Saint Martin. Ganimard rushed through it and arrived just
in time to observe Baudru upon the top of the Batignolles-Jardin de
Plates omnibus as it was turning the corner of the rue de Rivoli.
He ran and caught the omnibus. But he had lost his two assistants.
He must continue the pursuit alone. In his anger he was inclined
to seize the man by the collar without ceremony. Was it not with
premeditation and by means of an ingenious ruse that his pretended
imbecile had separated him from his assistants?

He looked at Baudru. The latter was asleep on the bench, his head
rolling from side to side, his mouth half-opened, and an incredible
expression of stupidity on his blotched face. No, such an
adversary was incapable of deceiving old Ganimard. It was a stroke
of luck--nothing more.

At the Galleries-Lafayette, the man leaped from the omnibus and
took the La Muette tramway, following the boulevard Haussmann and
the avenue Victor Hugo. Baudru alighted at La Muette station; and,
with a nonchalant air, strolled into the Bois de Boulogne.

He wandered through one path after another, and sometimes retraced
his steps. What was he seeking? Had he any definite object? At
the end of an hour, he appeared to be faint from fatigue, and,
noticing a bench, he sat down. The spot, not far from Auteuil, on
the edge of a pond hidden amongst the trees, was absolutely
deserted. After the lapse of another half-hour, Ganimard became
impatient and resolved to speak to the man. He approached and took
a seat beside Baudru, lighted a cigarette, traced some figures in
the sand with the end of his cane, and said:

"It's a pleasant day."

No response. But, suddenly the man burst into laughter, a happy,
mirthful laugh, spontaneous and irresistible. Ganimard felt his
hair stand on end in horror and surprise. It was that laugh, that
infernal laugh he knew so well!

With a sudden movement, he seized the man by the collar and looked
at him with a keen, penetrating gaze; and found that he no longer
saw the man Baudru. To be sure, he saw Baudru; but, at the same
time, he saw the other, the real man, Lupin. He discovered the
intense life in the eyes, he filled up the shrunken features, he
perceived the real flesh beneath the flabby skin, the real mouth
through the grimaces that deformed it. Those were the eyes and
mouth of the other, and especially his keen, alert, mocking
expression, so clear and youthful!

"Arsène Lupin, Arsène Lupin," he stammered.

Then, in a sudden fit of rage, he seized Lupin by the throat and
tried to hold him down. In spite of his fifty years, he still
possessed unusual strength, whilst his adversary was apparently in
a weak condition. But the struggle was a brief one. Arsène Lupin
made only a slight movement, and, as suddenly as he had made the
attack, Ganimard released his hold. His right arm fell inert,
useless.

"If you had taken lessons in jiu-jitsu at the quai des Orfèvres,"
said Lupin, "you would know that that blow is called udi-shi-ghi in
Japanese. A second more, and I would have broken your arm and that
would have been just what you deserve. I am surprised that you, an
old friend whom I respect and before whom I voluntarily expose my
incognito, should abuse my confidence in that violent manner. It
is unworthy--Ah! What's the matter?"

Ganimard did not reply. That escape for which he deemed himself
responsible--was it not he, Ganimard, who, by his sensational
evidence, had led the court into serious error? That escape
appeared to him like a dark cloud on his professional career. A
tear rolled down his cheek to his gray moustache.

"Oh! mon Dieu, Ganimard, don't take it to heart. If you had not
spoken, I would have arranged for some one else to do it. I
couldn't allow poor Baudru Désiré to be convicted."

"Then," murmured Ganimard, "it was you that was there? And now you
are here?"

"It is I, always I, only I."

"Can it be possible?"

"Oh, it is not the work of a sorcerer. Simply, as the judge
remarked at the trial, the apprenticeship of a dozen years that
equips a man to cope successfully with all the obstacles in life."

"But your face? Your eyes?"

"You can understand that if I worked eighteen months with Doctor
Altier at the Saint-Louis hospital, it was not out of love for the
work. I considered that he, who would one day have the honor of
calling himself Arsène Lupin, ought to be exempt from the ordinary
laws governing appearance and identity. Appearance? That can be
modified at will. For instance, a hypodermic injection of
paraffine will puff up the skin at the desired spot. Pyrogallic
acid will change your skin to that of an Indian. The juice of the
greater celandine will adorn you with the most beautiful eruptions
and tumors. Another chemical affects the growth of your beard and
hair; another changes the tone of your voice. Add to that two
months of dieting in cell 24; exercises repeated a thousand times
to enable me to hold my features in a certain grimace, to carry my
head at a certain inclination, and adapt my back and shoulders to a
stopping posture. Then five drops of atropine in the eyes to make
them haggard and wild, and the trick is done."

"I do not understand how you deceived the guards."

"The change was progressive. The evolution was so gradual that
they failed to notice it."

"But Baudru Désiré?"
"Baudru exists. He is a poor, harmless fellow whom I met last
year; and, really, he bears a certain resemblance to me.
Considering my arrest as a possible event, I took charge of Baudru
and studied the points wherein we differed in appearance with a
view to correct them in my own person. My friends caused him to
remain at the Dépôt overnight, and to leave there next day about
the same hour as I did--a coincidence easily arranged. Of course,
it was necessary to have a record of his detention at the Dépôt in
order to establish the fact that such a person was a reality;
otherwise, the police would have sought elsewhere to find out my
identity. But, in offering to them this excellent Baudru, it was
inevitable, you understand, inevitable that they would seize
upon him, and, despite the insurmountable difficulties of a
substitution, they would prefer to believe in a substitution than
confess their ignorance."

"Yes, yes, of course," said Ganimard.

"And then," exclaimed Arsène Lupin, "I held in my hands a trump-
card: an anxious public watching and waiting for my escape. And
that is the fatal error into which you fell, you and the others, in
the course of that fascinating game pending between me and the
officers of the law wherein the stake was my liberty. And you
supposed that I was playing to the gallery; that I was intoxicated
with my success. I, Arsène Lupin, guilty of such weakness! Oh,
no! And, no longer ago than the Cahorn affair, you said: "When
Arsène Lupin cries from the housetops that he will escape, he has
some object in view." But, sapristi, you must understand that in
order to escape I must create, in advance, a public belief that
escape, a belief amounting to an article of faith, an absolute
conviction, a reality as glittering as the sun. And I did create
that belief that Arsène Lupin would escape, that Arsène Lupin would
not be present at his trial. And when you gave your evidence and
said: "That man is not Arsène Lupin," everybody was prepared to
believe you. Had one person doubted it, had any one uttered this
simple restriction: Suppose it is Arsène Lupin?--from that moment, I
was lost. If anyone had scrutinized my face, not imbued with the
idea that I was not Arsène Lupin, as you and the others did at my
trial, but with the idea that I might be Arsène Lupin; then,
despite all my precautions, I should have been recognized. But I
had no fear. Logically, psychologically, no once could entertain
the idea that I was Arsène Lupin."

He grasped Ganimard's hand.

"Come, Ganimard, confess that on the Wednesday after our
conversation in the prison de la Santé, you expected me at your
house at four o'clock, exactly as I said I would go."

"And your prison-van?" said Ganimard, evading the question.

"A bluff! Some of my friends secured that old unused van and wished
to make the attempt. But I considered it impractical without the
concurrence of a number of unusual circumstances. However, I found
it useful to carry out that attempted escape and give it the widest
publicity. An audaciously planned escape, though not completed,
gave to the succeeding one the character of reality simply by
anticipation."

"So that the cigar...."

"Hollowed by myself, as well as the knife."

"And the letters?"

"Written by me."

"And the mysterious correspondent?"

"Did not exist."

Ganimard reflected a moment, then said:

"When the anthropological service had Baudru's case under
consideration, why did they not perceive that his measurements
coincided with those of Arsène Lupin?"

"My measurements are not in existence."

"Indeed!"

"At least, they are false. I have given considerable attention to
that question. In the first place, the Bertillon system of records
the visible marks of identification--and you have seen that they are
not infallible--and, after that, the measurements of the head, the
fingers, the ears, etc. Of course, such measurements are more or
less infallible."

"Absolutely."

"No; but it costs money to get around them. Before we left
America, one of the employees of the service there accepted so much
money to insert false figures in my measurements. Consequently,
Baudru's measurements should not agree with those of Arsène Lupin."

After a short silence, Ganimard asked:

"What are you going to do now?"

"Now," replied Lupin, "I am going to take a rest, enjoy the best of
food and drink and gradually recover my former healthy condition.
It is all very well to become Baudru or some other person, on
occasion, and to change your personality as you do your shirt, but
you soon grow weary of the change. I feel exactly as I imagine the
man who lost his shadow must have felt, and I shall be glad to be
Arsène Lupin once more."

He walked to and fro for a few minutes, then, stopping in front of
Ganimard, he said:

"You have nothing more to say, I suppose?"

"Yes. I should like to know if you intend to reveal the true state
of facts connected with your escape. The mistake that I made---"

"Oh! no one will ever know that it was Arsène Lupin who was
discharged. It is to my own interest to surround myself with
mystery, and therefore I shall permit my escape to retain its
almost miraculous character. So, have no fear on that score, my
dear friend. I shall say nothing. And now, good-bye. I am going
out to dinner this evening, and have only sufficient time to
dress."

"I though you wanted a rest."

"Ah! there are duties to society that one cannot avoid. To-morrow,
I shall rest."

"Where do you dine to-night?"

"With the British Ambassador!"

IV. The Mysterious Traveller

The evening before, I had sent my automobile to Rouen by the
highway. I was to travel to Rouen by rail, on my way to visit some
friends that live on the banks of the Seine.

At Paris, a few minutes before the train started, seven gentlemen
entered my compartment; five of them were smoking. No matter that
the journey was a short one, the thought of traveling with such a
company was not agreeable to me, especially as the car was built
on the old model, without a corridor. I picked up my overcoat, my
newspapers and my time-table, and sought refuge in a neighboring
compartment.

It was occupied by a lady, who, at sight of me, made a gesture of
annoyance that did not escape my notice, and she leaned toward a
gentleman who was standing on the step and was, no doubt, her
husband. The gentleman scrutinized me closely, and, apparently, my
appearance did not displease him, for he smiled as he spoke to his
wife with the air of one who reassures a frightened child. She
smiled also, and gave me a friendly glance as if she now
understood that I was one of those gallant men with whom a woman
can remain shut up for two hours in a little box, six feet square,
and have nothing to fear.

Her husband said to her:

"I have an important appointment, my dear, and cannot wait any
longer. Adieu."

He kissed her affectionately and went away. His wife threw him a
few kisses and waved her handkerchief. The whistle sounded, and
the train started.

At that precise moment, and despite the protests of the guards,
the door was opened, and a man rushed into our compartment. My
companion, who was standing and arranging her luggage, uttered a
cry of terror and fell upon the seat. I am not a coward--far from
it--but I confess that such intrusions at the last minute are
always disconcerting. They have a suspicious, unnatural aspect.

However, the appearance of the new arrival greatly modified the
unfavorable impression produced by his precipitant action. He was
correctly and elegantly dressed, wore a tasteful cravat, correct
gloves, and his face was refined and intelligent. But, where the
devil had I seen that face before? Because, beyond all possible
doubt, I had seen it. And yet the memory of it was so vague and
indistinct that I felt it would be useless to try to recall it at
that time.

Then, directing my attention to the lady, I was amazed at the
pallor and anxiety I saw in her face. She was looking at her
neighbor--they occupied seats on the same side of the compartment--
with an expression of intense alarm, and I perceived that one of
her trembling hands was slowly gliding toward a little traveling
bag that was lying on the seat about twenty inches from her. She
finished by seizing it and nervously drawing it to her. Our eyes
met, and I read in hers so much anxiety and fear that I could not
refrain from speaking to her:

"Are you ill, madame? Shall I open the window?"

Her only reply was a gesture indicating that she was afraid of our
companion. I smiled, as her husband had done, shrugged my
shoulders, and explained to her, in pantomime, that she had
nothing to fear, that I was there, and, besides, the gentleman
appeared to be a very harmless individual. At that moment, he
turned toward us, scrutinized both of us from head to foot, then
settled down in his corner and paid us no more attention.

After a short silence, the lady, as if she had mustered all her
energy to perform a desperate act, said to me, in an almost
inaudible voice:

"Do you know who is on our train?"

"Who?"

"He....he....I assure you...."

"Who is he?"

"Arsène Lupin!"

She had not taken her eyes off our companion, and it was to him
rather than to me that she uttered the syllables of that
disquieting name. He drew his hat over his face. Was that to
conceal his agitation or, simply, to arrange himself for sleep?
Then I said to her:

"Yesterday, through contumacy, Arsène Lupin was sentenced to
twenty years' imprisonment at hard labor. Therefore it is
improbable that he would be so imprudent, to-day, as to show
himself in public. Moreover, the newspapers have announced his
appearance in Turkey since his escape from the Santé."

"But he is on this train at the present moment," the lady
proclaimed, with the obvious intention of being heard by our
companion; "my husband is one of the directors in the penitentiary
service, and it was the stationmaster himself who told us that a
search was being made for Arsène Lupin."

"They may have been mistaken---"

"No; he was seen in the waiting-room. He bought a first-class
ticket for Rouen."

"He has disappeared. The guard at the waiting-room door did not
see him pass, and it is supposed that he had got into the express
that leaves ten minutes after us."

"In that case, they will be sure to catch him."

"Unless, at the last moment, he leaped from that train to come
here, into our train....which is quite probable....which is
almost certain."

"If so, he will be arrested just the same; for the employees and
guards would no doubt observe his passage from one train to the
other, and, when we arrive at Rouen, they will arrest him there."

"Him--never! He will find some means of escape."

"In that case, I wish him 'bon voyage.'"

"But, in the meantime, think what he may do!"

"What?"

"I don't know. He may do anything."

She was greatly agitated, and, truly, the situation justified, to
some extent, her nervous excitement. I was impelled to say to her:

"Of course, there are many strange coincidences, but you need have
no fear. Admitting that Arsène Lupin is on this train, he will not
commit any indiscretion; he will be only too happy to escape the
peril that already threatens him."

My words did not reassure her, but she remained silent for a time.
I unfolded my newspapers and read reports of Arsène Lupin's trial,
but, as they contained nothing that was new to me, I was not
greatly interested. Moreover, I was tired and sleepy. I felt my
eyelids close and my head drop.

"But, monsieur, you are not going to sleep!"

She seized my newspaper, and looked at me with indignation.

"Certainly not," I said.

"That would be very imprudent."

"Of course," I assented.

I struggled to keep awake. I looked through the window at the
landscape and the fleeting clouds, but in a short time all that
became confused and indistinct; the image of the nervous lady and
the drowsy gentleman were effaced from my memory, and I was buried
in the soothing depths of a profound sleep. The tranquility of my
response was soon disturbed by disquieting dreams, wherein a
creature that had played the part and bore the name of Arsène
Lupin held an important place. He appeared to me with his black
laden with articles of value; he leaped over walls, and plundered
castles. But the outlines of that creature, who was no longer
Arsène Lupin, assumed a more definite form. He came toward me,
growing larger and larger, leaped into the compartment with
incredible agility, and landed squarely on my chest. With a cry of
fright and pain, I awoke. The man, the traveller, our companion,
with his knee on my breast, held me by the throat.

My sight was very indistinct, for my eyes were suffused with
blood. I could see the lady, in a corner of the compartment,
convulsed with fright. I tried even not to resist. Besides, I did
not have the strength. My temples throbbed; I was almost
strangled. One minute more, and I would have breathed my last. The
man must have realized it, for he relaxed his grip, but did not
remove his had. Then he took a cord, in which he had prepared a
slip-knot, and tied my wrists together. In an instant, I was
bound, gagged, and helpless.

Certainly, he accomplished the trick with an ease and skill that
revealed the hand of a master; he was, no doubt, a professional
thief. Not a word, not a nervous movement; only coolness and
audacity. And I was there, lying on the bench, bound like a mummy,
I--Arsène Lupin!

It was anything but a laughing matter, and yet, despite the
gravity of the situation, I keenly appreciated the humor and irony
that it involved. Arsène Lupin seized and bound like a novice!
robbed as if I were an unsophisticated rustic--for, you must
understand, the scoundrel had deprived me of my purse and wallet!
Arsène Lupin, a victim, duped, vanquished....What an adventure!

The lady did not move. He did not even notice her. He contented
himself with picking up her traveling-bag that had fallen to the
floor and taking from it the jewels, purse, and gold and silver
trinkets that it contained. The lady opened her eyes, trembled
with fear, drew the rings from her fingers and handed them to the
man as if she wished to spare him unnecessary trouble. He took the
rings and looked at her. She swooned.

Then, quite unruffled, he resumed his seat, lighted a cigarette,
and proceeded to examine the treasure that he had acquired. The
examination appeared to give him perfect satisfaction.

But I was not so well satisfied. I do not speak of the twelve
thousand francs of which I had been unduly deprived: that was only
a temporary loss, because I was certain that I would recover
possession of that money after a very brief delay, together with
the important papers contained in my wallet: plans, specifications,
addresses, lists of correspondents, and compromising letters.
But, for the moment, a more immediate and more serious question
troubled me: How would this affair end? What would be the outcome
of this adventure?

As you can imagine, the disturbance created by my passage through
the Saint-Lazare station has not escaped my notice. Going to visit
friends who knew me under the name of Guillaume Berlat, and
amongst whom my resemblance to Arsène Lupin was a subject of many
innocent jests, I could not assume a disguise, and my presence had
been remarked. So, beyond question, the commissary of police at
Rouen, notified by telegraph, and assisted by numerous agents,
would be awaiting the train, would question all suspicious
passengers, and proceed to search the cars.

Of course, I had foreseen all that, but it had not disturbed me,
as I was certain that the police of Rouen would not be any
shrewder than the police of Paris and that I could escape
recognition; would it not be sufficient for me to carelessly
display my card as "député," thanks to which I had inspired
complete confidence in the gate-keeper at Saint-Lazare?--But the
situation was greatly changed. I was no longer free. It was
impossible to attempt one of my usual tricks. In one of the
compartments, the commissary of police would find Mon. Arsène
Lupin, bound hand and foot, as docile as a lamb, packed up, all
ready to be dumped into a prison-van. He would have simply to
accept delivery of the parcel, the same as if it were so much
merchandise or a basket of fruit and vegetables. Yet, to avoid
that shameful dénouement, what could I do?--bound and gagged, as I
was? And the train was rushing on toward Rouen, the next and only
station.

Another problem was presented, in which I was less interested, but
the solution of which aroused my professional curiosity. What were
the intentions of my rascally companion? Of course, if I had been
alone, he could, on our arrival at Rouen, leave the car slowly and
fearlessly. But the lady? As soon as the door of the compartment
should be opened, the lady, now so quiet and humble, would scream
and call for help. That was the dilemma that perplexed me! Why had
he not reduced her to a helpless condition similar to mine? That
would have given him ample time to disappear before his double
crime was discovered.

He was still smoking, with his eyes fixed upon the window that was
now being streaked with drops of rain. Once he turned, picked up
my time-table, and consulted it.

The lady had to feign a continued lack of consciousness in order
to deceive the enemy. But fits of coughing, provoked by the smoke,
exposed her true condition. As to me, I was very uncomfortable,
and very tired. And I meditated; I plotted.

The train was rushing on, joyously, intoxicated with its own
speed.

Saint Etienne!....At that moment, the man arose and took two steps
toward us, which caused the lady to utter a cry of alarm and fall
into a genuine swoon. What was the man about to do? He lowered the
window on our side. A heavy rain was now falling, and, by a
gesture, the man expressed his annoyance at his not having an
umbrella or an overcoat. He glanced at the rack. The lady's
umbrella was there. He took it. He also took my overcoat and put
it on.

We were now crossing the Seine. He turned up the bottoms of his
trousers, then leaned over and raised the exterior latch of the
door. Was he going to throw himself upon the track? At that speed,
it would have been instant death. We now entered a tunnel. The man
opened the door half-way and stood on the upper step. What folly!
The darkness, the smoke, the noise, all gave a fantastic
appearance to his actions. But suddenly, the train diminished its
speed. A moment later it increased its speed, then slowed up
again. Probably, some repairs were being made in that part of the
tunnel which obliged the trains to diminish their speed, and the
man was aware of the fact. He immediately stepped down to the
lower step, closed the door behind him, and leaped to the ground.
He was gone.

The lady immediately recovered her wits, and her first act was to
lament the loss of her jewels. I gave her an imploring look. She
understood, and quickly removed the gag that stifled me. She
wished to untie the cords that bound me, but I prevented her.

"No, no, the police must see everything exactly as it stands. I
want them to see what the rascal did to us."

"Suppose I pull the alarm-bell?"

"Too late. You should have done that when he made the attack on
me."

"But he would have killed me. Ah! monsieur, didn't I tell you that
he was on this train. I recognized him from his portrait. And now
he has gone off with my jewels."

"Don't worry. The police will catch him."

"Catch Arsène Lupin! Never."

"That depends on you, madame. Listen. When we arrive at Rouen, be
at the door and call. Make a noise. The police and the railway
employees will come. Tell what you have seen: the assault made on
me and the flight of Arsène Lupin. Give a description of him--soft
hat, umbrella--yours--gray overcoat...."

"Yours," said she.

"What! mine? Not at all. It was his. I didn't have any."

"It seems to me he didn't have one when he came in."

"Yes, yes....unless the coat was one that some one had forgotten
and left in the rack. At all events, he had it when he went away,
and that is the essential point. A gray overcoat--remember!....Ah!
I forgot. You must tell your name, first thing you do. Your
husband's official position will stimulate the zeal of the
police."

We arrived at the station. I gave her some further instructions in
a rather imperious tone:

"Tell them my name--Guillaume Berlat. If necessary, say that you
know me. That will save time. We must expedite the preliminary
investigation. The important thing is the pursuit of Arsène Lupin.
Your jewels, remember! Let there be no mistake. Guillaume Berlat,
a friend of your husband."

"I understand....Guillaume Berlat."

She was already calling and gesticulating. As soon as the train
stopped, several men entered the compartment. The critical moment
had come.

Panting for breath, the lady exclaimed:

"Arsène Lupin....he attacked us....he stole my jewels....I am
Madame Renaud....my husband is a director of the penitentiary
service....Ah! here is my brother, Georges Ardelle, director of
the Crédit Rouennais....you must know...."

She embraced a young man who had just joined us, and whom the
commissary saluted. Then she continued, weeping:

"Yes, Arsène Lupin....while monsieur was sleeping, he seized him
by the throat....Mon. Berlat, a friend of my husband."

The commissary asked:

"But where is Arsène Lupin?"

"He leaped from the train, when passing through the tunnel."

"Are you sure that it was he?"

"Am I sure! I recognized him perfectly. Besides, he was seen at
the Saint-Lazare station. He wore a soft hat---"

"No, a hard felt, like that," said the commissary, pointing to my
hat.

"He had a soft hat, I am sure," repeated Madame Renaud, "and a
gray overcoat."

"Yes, that is right," replied the commissary, "the telegram says
he wore a gray overcoat with a black velvet collar."

"Exactly, a black velvet collar," exclaimed Madame Renaud,
triumphantly.

I breathed freely. Ah! the excellent friend I had in that little
woman.

The police agents had now released me. I bit my lips until they
ran blood. Stooping over, with my handkerchief over my mouth, an
attitude quite natural in a person who has remained for a long
time in an uncomfortable position, and whose mouth shows the
bloody marks of the gag, I addressed the commissary, in a weak
voice:

"Monsieur, it was Arsène Lupin. There is no doubt about that. If
we make haste, he can be caught yet. I think I may be of some
service to you."

The railway car, in which the crime occurred, was detached from
the train to serve as a mute witness at the official investigation.
The train continued on its way to Havre. We were then conducted to
the station-master's office through a crowd of curious spectators.

Then, I had a sudden access of doubt and discretion. Under some
pretext or other, I must gain my automobile, and escape. To remain
there was dangerous. Something might happen; for instance, a
telegram from Paris, and I would be lost.

Yes, but what about my thief? Abandoned to my own resources, in an
unfamiliar country, I could not hope to catch him.

"Bah! I must make the attempt," I said to myself. "It may be a
difficult game, but an amusing one, and the stake is well worth
the trouble."

And when the commissary asked us to repeat the story of the
robbery, I exclaimed:

"Monsieur, really, Arsène Lupin is getting the start of us. My
automobile is waiting in the courtyard. If you will be so kind as
to use it, we can try...."

The commissary smiled, and replied:

"The idea is a good one; so good, indeed, that it is already being
carried out. Two of my men have set out on bicycles. They have
been gone for some time."

"Where did they go?"

"To the entrance of the tunnel. There, they will gather evidence,
secure witnesses, and follow on the track of Arsène Lupin."

I could not refrain from shrugging my shoulders, as I replied:

"Your men will not secure any evidence or any witnesses."

"Really!"

"Arsène Lupin will not allow anyone to see him emerge from the
tunnel. He will take the first road---"

"To Rouen, where we will arrest him."

"He will not go to Rouen."

"Then he will remain in the vicinity, where his capture will be
even more certain."

"He will not remain in the vicinity."

"Oh! oh! And where will he hide?"

I looked at my watch, and said:

"At the present moment, Arsène Lupin is prowling around the
station at Darnétal. At ten fifty, that is, in twenty-two minutes
from now, he will take the train that goes from Rouen to Amiens."

"Do you think so? How do you know it?"

"Oh! it is quite simple. While we were in the car, Arsène Lupin
consulted my railway guide. Why did he do it? Was there, not far
from the spot where he disappeared, another line of railway, a
station upon that line, and a train stopping at that station? On
consulting my railway guide, I found such to be the case."

"Really, monsieur," said the commissary, "that is a marvelous
deduction. I congratulate you on your skill."

I was now convinced that I had made a mistake in displaying so
much cleverness. The commissary regarded me with astonishment, and
I though a slight suspicion entered his official mind....Oh!
scarcely that, for the photographs distributed broadcast by the
police department were too imperfect; they presented an Arsène
Lupin so different from the one he had before him, that he could
not possibly recognize me by it. But, all the same, he was
troubled, confused and ill-at-ease.

"Mon Dieu! nothing stimulates the comprehension so much as the
loss of a pocketbook and the desire to recover it. And it seems to
me that if you will give me two of your men, we may be able...."

"Oh! I beg of you, monsieur le commissaire," cried Madame Renaud,
"listen to Mon. Berlat."

The intervention of my excellent friend was decisive. Pronounced
by her, the wife of an influential official, the name of Berlat
became really my own, and gave me an identity that no mere
suspicion could affect. The commissary arose, and said:

"Believe me, Monsieur Berlat, I shall be delighted to see you
succeed. I am as much interested as you are in the arrest of
Arsène Lupin."

He accompanied me to the automobile, and introduced two of his men,
Honoré Massol and Gaston Delivet, who were assigned to assist me.
My chauffer cranked up the car and I took my place at the wheel. A
few seconds later, we left the station. I was saved.

Ah! I must confess that in rolling over the boulevards that
surrounded the old Norman city, in my swift thirty-five horse-power
Moreau-Lepton, I experienced a deep feeling of pride, and the motor
responded, sympathetically to my desires. At right and left, the
trees flew past us with startling rapidity, and I, free, out of
danger, had simply to arrange my little personal affairs with the
two honest representatives of the Rouen police who were sitting
behind me. Arsène Lupin was going in search of Arsène Lupin!

Modest guardians of social order--Gaston Delivet and Honoré Massol--
how valuable was your assistance! What would I have done without
you? Without you, many times, at the cross-roads, I might have
taken the wrong route! Without you, Arsène Lupin would have made a
mistake, and the other would have escaped!

But the end was not yet. Far from it. I had yet to capture the
thief and recover the stolen papers. Under no circumstances must
my two acolytes be permitted to see those papers, much less to
seize them. That was a point that might give me some difficulty.

We arrived at Darnétal three minutes after the departure of the
train. True, I had the consolation of learning that a man wearing
a gray overcoat with a black velvet collar had taken the train at
the station. He had bought a second-class ticket for Amiens.
Certainly, my début as detective was a promising one.

Delivet said to me:

"The train is express, and the next stop is Montérolier-Buchy in
nineteen minutes. If we do not reach there before Arsène Lupin, he
can proceed to Amiens, or change for the train going to Clères,
and, from that point, reach Dieppe or Paris."

"How far to Montérolier?"

"Twenty-three kilometres."

"Twenty-three kilometres in nineteen minutes....We will be there
ahead of him."

We were off again! Never had my faithful Moreau-Repton responded
to my impatience with such ardor and regularity. It participated
in my anxiety. It indorsed my determination. It comprehended my
animosity against that rascally Arsène Lupin. The knave! The
traitor!

"Turn to the right," cried Delivet, "then to the left."

We fairly flew, scarcely touching the ground. The mile-stones
looked like little timid beasts that vanished at our approach.
Suddenly, at a turn of the road, we saw a vortex of smoke. It was
the Northern Express. For a kilometre, it was a struggle, side by
side, but an unequal struggle in which the issue was certain. We
won the race by twenty lengths.

In three seconds we were on the platform standing before the
second-class carriages. The doors were opened, and some passengers
alighted, but not my thief. We made a search through the
compartments. No sign of Arsène Lupin.

"Sapristi!" I cried, "he must have recognized me in the automobile
as we were racing, side by side, and he leaped from the train."

"Ah! there he is now! crossing the track."

I started in pursuit of the man, followed by my two acolytes, or
rather followed by one of them, for the other, Massol, proved
himself to be a runner of exceptional speed and endurance. In a
few moments, he had made an appreciable gain upon the fugitive.
The man noticed it, leaped over a hedge, scampered across a meadow,
and entered a thick grove. When we reached this grove, Massol was
waiting for us. He went no farther, for fear of losing us.

"Quite right, my dear friend," I said. "After such a run, our
victim must be out of wind. We will catch him now."

I examined the surroundings with the idea of proceeding alone in
the arrest of the fugitive, in order to recover my papers,
concerning which the authorities would doubtless ask many
disagreeable questions. Then I returned to my companions, and
said:

"It is all quite easy. You, Massol, take your place at the left;
you, Delivet, at the right. From there, you can observe the entire
posterior line of the bush, and he cannot escape without you seeing
him, except by that ravine, and I shall watch it. If he does not
come out voluntarily, I will enter and drive him out toward one or
the other of you. You have simply to wait. Ah! I forgot: in case
I need you, a pistol shot."

Massol and Delivet walked away to their respective posts. As soon
as they had disappeared, I entered the grove with the greatest
precaution so as to be neither seen nor heard. I encountered dense
thickets, trough which narrow paths had been cut, but the
overhanging boughs compelled me to adopt a stooping posture. One
of these paths led to a clearing in which I found footsteps upon
the wet grass. I followed them; they led me to the foot of a mound
which was surmounted by a deserted, dilapidated hovel.

"He must be there," I said to myself. "It is a well-chosen
retreat."

I crept cautiously to the side of the building. A slight noise
informed me that he was there; and, then, through an opening, I saw
him. His back was turned toward me. In two bounds, I was upon
him. He tried to fire a revolver that he held in his hand. But he
had no time. I threw him to the ground, in such a manner that his
arms were beneath him, twisted and helpless, whilst I held him down
with my knee on his breast.

"Listen, my boy," I whispered in his ear. "I am Arsène Lupin. You
are to deliver over to me, immediately and gracefully, my
pocketbook and the lady's jewels, and, in return therefore, I will
save you from the police and enroll you amongst my friends. One
word: yes or no?"

"Yes," he murmured.

"Very good. Your escape, this morning, was well planned. I
congratulate you."

I arose. He fumbled in his pocket, drew out a large knife and
tried to strike me with it.

"Imbecile!" I exclaimed.

With one hand, I parried the attack; with the other, I gave him a
sharp blow on the carotid artery. He fell--stunned!

In my pocketbook, I recovered my papers and bank-notes. Out of
curiosity, I took his. Upon an envelope, addressed to him, I read
his name: Pierre Onfrey. It startled me. Pierre Onfrey, the
assassin of the rue Lafontaine at Auteuil! Pierre Onfrey, he who
had cut the throats of Madame Delbois and her two daughters. I
leaned over him. Yes, those were the features which, in the
compartment, had evoked in me the memory of a face I could not then
recall.

But time was passing. I placed in an envelope two bank-notes of
one hundred francs each, with a card bearing these words: "Arsène
Lupin to his worthy colleagues Honoré Massol and Gaston Delivet, as
a slight token of his gratitude." I placed it in a prominent spot
in the room, where they would be sure to find it. Beside it, I
placed Madame Renaud's handbag. Why could I not return it to the
lady who had befriended me? I must confess that I had taken from
it everything that possessed any interest or value, leaving there
only a shell comb, a stick of rouge Dorin for the lips, and an
empty purse. But, you know, business is business. And then,
really, her husband is engaged in such a dishonorable vocation!

The man was becoming conscious. What was I to do? I was unable to
save him or condemn him. So I took his revolver and fired a shot
in the air.

"My two acolytes will come and attend to his case," I said to
myself, as I hastened away by the road through the ravine. Twenty
minutes later, I was seated in my automobile.

At four o'clock, I telegraphed to my friends at Rouen that an
unexpected event would prevent me from making my promised visit.
Between ourselves, considering what my friends must now know, my
visit is postponed indefinitely. A cruel disillusion for them!

At six o'clock I was in Paris. The evening newspapers informed me
that Pierre Onfrey had been captured at last.

Next day,--let us not despise the advantages of judicious
advertising,--the `Echo de France' published this sensational item:

"Yesterday, near Buchy, after numerous exciting incidents, Arsène
Lupin effected the arrest of Pierre Onfrey. The assassin of the
rue Lafontaine had robbed Madame Renaud, wife of the director in
the penitentiary service, in a railway carriage on the Paris-Havre
line. Arsène Lupin restored to Madame Renaud the hand-bag that
contained her jewels, and gave a generous recompense to the two
detectives who had assisted him in making that dramatic arrest."

V. The Queen's Necklace

Two or three times each year, on occasions of unusual importance,
such as the balls at the Austrian Embassy or the soirées of Lady
Billingstone, the Countess de Dreux-Soubise wore upon her white
shoulders "The Queen's Necklace."

It was, indeed, the famous necklace, the legendary necklace that
Bohmer and Bassenge, court jewelers, had made for Madame Du Barry;
the veritable necklace that the Cardinal de Rohan-Soubise intended
to give to Marie-Antoinette, Queen of France; and the same that the
adventuress Jeanne de Valois, Countess de la Motte, had pulled to
pieces one evening in February, 1785, with the aid of her husband
and their accomplice, Rétaux de Villette.

To tell the truth, the mounting alone was genuine. Rétaux de
Villette had kept it, whilst the Count de la Motte and his wife
scattered to the four winds of heaven the beautiful stones so
carefully chosen by Bohmer. Later, he sold the mounting to Gaston
de Dreux-Soubise, nephew and heir of the Cardinal, who re-purchased
the few diamonds that remained in the possession of the English
jeweler, Jeffreys; supplemented them with other stones of the same
size but of much inferior quality, and thus restored the marvelous
necklace to the form in which it had come from the hands of Bohmer
and Bassenge.

For nearly a century, the house of Dreux-Soubise had prided itself
upon the possession of this historic jewel. Although adverse
circumstances had greatly reduced their fortune, they preferred to
curtail their household expenses rather than part with this relic
of royalty. More particularly, the present count clung to it as a
man clings to the home of his ancestors. As a matter of prudence,
he had rented a safety-deposit box at the Crédit Lyonnais in which
to keep it. He went for it himself on the afternoon of the day on
which his wife wished to wear it, and he, himself, carried it back
next morning.

On this particular evening, at the reception given at the Palais de
Castille, the Countess achieved a remarkable success; and King
Christian, in whose honor the fête was given, commented on her
grace and beauty. The thousand facets of the diamond sparkled and
shone like flames of fire about her shapely neck and shoulders, and
it is safe to say that none but she could have borne the weight of
such an ornament with so much ease and grace.

This was a double triumph, and the Count de Dreux was highly elated
when they returned to their chamber in the old house of the
faubourg Saint-Germain. He was proud of his wife, and quite as
proud, perhaps, of the necklace that had conferred added luster to
his noble house for generations. His wife, also, regarded the
necklace with an almost childish vanity, and it was not without
regret that she removed it from her shoulders and handed it to her
husband who admired it as passionately as if he had never seen it
before. Then, having placed it in its case of red leather, stamped
with the Cardinal's arms, he passed into an adjoining room which
was simply an alcove or cabinet that had been cut off from their
chamber, and which could be entered only by means of a door at the
foot of their bed. As he had done on previous occasions, he hid it
on a high shelf amongst hat-boxes and piles of linen. He closed
the door, and retired.

Next morning, he arose about nine o'clock, intending to go to the
Crédit Lyonnais before breakfast. He dressed, drank a cup of
coffee, and went to the stables to give his orders. The condition
of one of the horses worried him. He caused it to be exercised in
his presence. Then he returned to his wife, who had not yet left
the chamber. Her maid was dressing her hair. When her husband
entered, she asked:

"Are you going out?"

"Yes, as far as the bank."

"Of course. That is wise."

He entered the cabinet; but, after a few seconds, and without any
sign of astonishment, he asked:

"Did you take it, my dear?"

"What?....No, I have not taken anything."

"You must have moved it."

"Not at all. I have not even opened that door."

He appeared at the door, disconcerted, and stammered, in a scarcely
intelligible voice:

"You haven't....It wasn't you?....Then...."

She hastened to his assistance, and, together, they made a thorough
search, throwing the boxes to the floor and overturning the piles
of linen. Then the count said, quite discouraged:

"It is useless to look any more. I put it here, on this shelf."

"You must be mistaken."

"No, no, it was on this shelf--nowhere else."

They lighted a candle, as the room was quite dark, and then carried
out all the linen and other articles that the room contained. And,
when the room was emptied, they confessed, in despair, that the
famous necklace had disappeared. Without losing time in vain
lamentations, the countess notified the commissary of police, Mon.
Valorbe, who came at once, and, after hearing their story, inquired
of the count:

"Are you sure that no one passed through your chamber during the
night?"

"Absolutely sure, as I am a very light sleeper. Besides, the
chamber door was bolted, and I remember unbolting it this morning
when my wife rang for her maid."

"And there is no other entrance to the cabinet?"

"None."

"No windows?"

"Yes, but it is closed up."

"I will look at it."

Candles were lighted, and Mon. Valorbe observed at once that the
lower half of the window was covered by a large press which was,
however, so narrow that it did not touch the casement on either
side.

"On what does this window open?"

"A small inner court."

"And you have a floor above this?"

"Two; but, on a level with the servant's floor, there is a close
grating over the court. That is why this room is so dark."

When the press was moved, they found that the window was fastened,
which would not have been the case if anyone had entered that way.

"Unless," said the count, "they went out through our chamber."

"In that case, you would have found the door unbolted."

The commissary considered the situation for a moment, then asked
the countess:

"Did any of your servants know that you wore the necklace last
evening?"

"Certainly; I didn't conceal the fact. But nobody knew that it was
hidden in that cabinet."

"No one?"

"No one....unless...."

"Be quite sure, madam, as it is a very important point."

She turned to her husband, and said:

"I was thinking of Henriette."

"Henriette? She didn't know where we kept it."

"Are you sure?"

"Who is this woman Henriette?" asked Mon. Valorbe.

"A school-mate, who was disowned by her family for marrying beneath
her. After her husband's death, I furnished an apartment in this
house for her and her son. She is clever with her needle and has
done some work for me."

"What floor is she on?"

"Same as ours....at the end of the corridor....and I think....
the window of her kitchen...."

"Opens on this little court, does it not?"

"Yes, just opposite ours."

Mon. Valorbe then asked to see Henriette. They went to her
apartment; she was sewing, whilst her son Raoul, about six years
old, was sitting beside her, reading. The commissary was surprised
to see the wretched apartment that had been provided for the woman.
It consisted of one room without a fireplace, and a very small room
that served as a kitchen. The commissary proceeded to question
her. She appeared to be overwhelmed on learning of the theft.
Last evening she had herself dressed the countess and placed the
necklace upon her shoulders.

"Good God!" she exclaimed, "it can't be possible!"

"And you have no idea? Not the least suspicion? Is it possible
that the thief may have passed through your room?"

She laughed heartily, never supposing that she could be an object
of suspicion.

"But I have not left my room. I never go out. And, perhaps, you
have not seen?"

She opened the kitchen window, and said:

"See, it is at least three metres to the ledge of the opposite
window."

"Who told you that we supposed the theft might have been committed
in that way?"

"But....the necklace was in the cabinet, wasn't it?"

"How do you know that?"

"Why, I have always known that it was kept there at night. It had
been mentioned in my presence."

Her face, though still young, bore unmistakable traces of sorrow
and resignation. And it now assumed an expression of anxiety as if
some danger threatened her. She drew her son toward her. The
child took her hand, and kissed it affectionately.

When they were alone again, the count said to the commissary:

"I do not suppose you suspect Henriette. I can answer for her.
She is honesty itself."

"I quite agree with you," replied Mon. Valorbe. "At most, I
thought there might have been an unconscious complicity. But I
confess that even that theory must be abandoned, as it does not
help solve the problem now before us."

The commissary of police abandoned the investigation, which was now
taken up and completed by the examining judge. He questioned the
servants, examined the condition of the bolt, experimented with the
opening and closing of the cabinet window, and explored the little
court from top to bottom. All was in vain. The bolt was intact.
The window could not be opened or closed from the outside.

The inquiries especially concerned Henriette, for, in spite of
everything, they always turned in her direction. They made a
thorough investigation of her past life, and ascertained that,
during the last three years, she had left the house only four
times, and her business, on those occasions, was satisfactorily
explained. As a matter of fact, she acted as chambermaid and
seamstress to the countess, who treated her with great strictness
and even severity.

At the end of a week, the examining judge had secured no more
definite information than the commissary of police. The judge
said:

"Admitting that we know the guilty party, which we do not, we are
confronted by the fact that we do not know hoe the theft was
committed. We are brought face to face with two obstacles: a door
and a window--both closed and fastened. It is thus a double
mystery. How could anyone enter, and, moreover, how could any one
escape, leaving behind him a bolted door and a fastened window?"

At the end of four months, the secret opinion of the judge was that
the count and countess, being hard pressed for money, which was
their normal condition, had sold the Queen's Necklace. He closed
the investigation.

The loss of the famous jewel was a severe blow to the Dreux-
Soubise. Their credit being no longer propped up by the reserve
fund that such a treasure constituted, they found themselves
confronted by more exacting creditors and money-lenders. They were
obliged to cut down to the quick, to sell or mortgage every article
that possessed any commercial value. In brief, it would have been
their ruin, if two large legacies from some distant relatives had
not saved them.

Their pride also suffered a downfall, as if they had lost a
quartering from their escutcheon. And, strange to relate, it was
upon her former schoolmate, Henriette, that the countess vented her
spleen. Toward her, the countess displayed the most spiteful
feelings, and even openly accused her. First, Henriette was
relegated to the servants' quarters, and, next day, discharged.

For some time, the count and countess passed an uneventful life.
They traveled a great deal. Only one incident of record occurred
during that period. Some months after the departure of Henriette,
the countess was surprised when she received and read the following
letter, signed by Henriette:

"Madame,"
"I do not know how to thank you; for it was you, was it not, who
sent me that? It could not have been anyone else. No one but you
knows where I live. If I am wrong, excuse me, and accept my
sincere thanks for your past favors...."

What did the letter mean? The present or past favors of the
countess consisted principally of injustice and neglect. Why,
then, this letter of thanks?

When asked for an explanation, Henriette replied that she had
received a letter, through the mails, enclosing two bank-notes of
one thousand francs each. The envelope, which she enclosed with
her reply, bore the Paris post-mark, and was addressed in a
handwriting that was obviously disguised. Now, whence came those
two thousand francs? Who had sent them? And why had they sent
them?

Henriette received a similar letter and a like sum of money twelve
months later. And a third time; and a fourth; and each year for a
period of six years, with this difference, that in the fifth and
sixth years the sum was doubled. There was another difference:
the post-office authorities having seized one of the letters under
the pretext that it was not registered, the last two letters were
duly sent according to the postal regulations, the first dated from
Saint-Germain, the other from Suresnes. The writer signed the
first one, "Anquety"; and the other, "Péchard." The addresses that
he gave were false.

At the end of six years, Henriette dies, and the mystery remained
unsolved.

* * * * *

All these events are known to the public. The case was one of
those which excite public interest, and it was a strange
coincidence that this necklace, which had caused such a great
commotion in France at the close of the eighteenth century, should
create a similar commotion a century later. But what I am about to
relate is known only to the parties directly interested and a few
others from whom the count exacted a promise of secrecy. As it is
probable that some day or other that promise will be broken, I have
no hesitation in rending the veil and thus disclosing the key to
the mystery, the explanation of the letter published in the morning
papers two days ago; an extraordinary letter which increased, if
possible, the mists and shadows that envelope this inscrutable
drama.

Five days ago, a number of guests were dining with the Count de
Dreux-Soubise. There were several ladies present, including his
two nieces and his cousin, and the following gentlemen: the
president of Essaville, the deputy Bochas, the chevalier Floriani,
whom the count had known in Sicily, and General Marquis de
Rouzières, and old club friend.

After the repast, coffee was served by the ladies, who gave the
gentlemen permission to smoke their cigarettes, provided they would
not desert the salon. The conversation was general, and finally
one of the guests chanced to speak of celebrated crimes. And that
gave the Marquis de Rouzières, who delighted to tease the count, an
opportunity to mention the affair of the Queen's Necklace, a
subject that the count detested.

Each one expressed hi own opinion of the affair; and, of course,
their various theories were not only contradictory but impossible.

"And you, monsieur," said the countess to the chevalier Floriani,
"what is your opinion?"

"Oh! I--I have no opinion, madame."

All the guests protested; for the chevalier had just related in an
entertaining manner various adventures in which he had participated
with his father, a magistrate at Palermo, and which established his
judgment and taste in such manners.

"I confess," said he, "I have sometimes succeeded in unraveling
mysteries that the cleverest detectives have renounced; yet I do
not claim to be Sherlock Holmes. Moreover, I know very little
about the affair of the Queen's Necklace."

Everybody now turned to the count, who was thus obliged, quite
unwillingly, to narrate all the circumstances connected with the
theft. The chevalier listened, reflected, asked a few questions,
and said:

"It is very strange....at first sight, the problem appears to be a
very simple one."

The count shrugged his shoulders. The others drew closer to the
chevalier, who continued, in a dogmatic tone:

"As a general rule, in order to find the author of a crime or a
theft, it is necessary to determine how that crime or theft was
committed, or, at least, how it could have been committed. In the
present case, nothing is more simple, because we are face to face,
not with several theories, but with one positive fact, that is to
say: the thief could only enter by the chamber door or the window
of the cabinet. Now, a person cannot open a bolted door from the
outside. Therefore, he must have entered through the window."

"But it was closed and fastened, and we fount it fastened
afterward," declared the count.

"In order to do that," continued Floriani, without heeding the
interruption, "he had simply to construct a bridge, a plank or a
ladder, between the balcony of the kitchen and the ledge of the
window, and as the jewel-case---"

"But I repeat that the window was fastened," exclaimed the count,
impatiently.

This time, Floriani was obliged to reply. He did so with
the greatest tranquility, as if the objection was the most
insignificant affair in the world.

"I will admit that it was; but is there not a transom in the upper
part of the window?"

"How do you know that?"

"In the first place, that was customary in houses of that date;
and, in the second place, without such a transom, the theft cannot
be explained."

"Yes, there is one, but it was closed, the same as the window.
Consequently, we did not pay attention to it."

"That was a mistake; for, if you had examined it, you would have
found that it had been opened."

"But how?"

"I presume that, like all others, it opens by means of a wire with
a ring on the lower end."

"Yes, but I do not see---"

"Now, through a hole in the window, a person could, by the aid of
some instrument, let us say a poker with a hook at the end, grip
the ring, pull down, and open the transom."

The count laughed and said:

"Excellent! excellent! Your scheme is very cleverly constructed,
but you overlook one thing, monsieur, there is no hole in the
window."

"There was a hole."

"Nonsense, we would have seen it."

"In order to see it, you must look for it, and no one has looked.
The hole is there; it must be there, at the side of the window, in
the putty. In a vertical direction, of course."

The count arose. He was greatly excited. He paced up and down the
room, two or three times, in a nervous manner; then, approaching
Floriani, said:

"Nobody has been in that room since; nothing has been changed."

"Very well, monsieur, you can easily satisfy yourself that my
explanation is correct."

"It does not agree with the facts established by the examining
judge. You have seen nothing, and yet you contradict all that we
have seen and all that we know."

Floriani paid no attention to the count's petulance. He simply
smiled and said:

"Mon Dieu, monsieur, I submit my theory; that is all. If I am
mistaken, you can easily prove it."

"I will do so at once....I confess that you assurance---"

The count muttered a few more words; then suddenly rushed to the
door and passed out. Not a word was uttered in his absence; and
this profound silence gave the situation an air of almost tragic
importance. Finally, the count returned. He was pale and nervous.
He said to his friends, in a trembling voice:

"I beg your pardon....the revelations of the chevalier were so
unexpected....I should never have thought...."

His wife questioned him, eagerly:

"Speak....what is it?"

He stammered: "The hole is there, at the very spot, at the side of
the window---"

He seized the chevalier's arm, and said to him in an imperious
tone:

"Now, monsieur, proceed. I admit that you are right so far, but
now....that is not all....go on....tell us the rest of it."

Floriani disengaged his arm gently, and, after a moment, continued:

"Well, in my opinion, this is what happened. The thief, knowing
that the countess was going to wear the necklace that evening, had
prepared his gangway or bridge during you absence. He watched you
through the window and saw you hide the necklace. Afterward, he
cut the glass and pulled the ring."

"Ah! but the distance was so great that it would be impossible for
him to reach the window-fastening through the transom."

"Well, then, if he could not open the window by reaching through
the transom, he must have crawled through the transom."

"Impossible; it is too small. No man could crawl through it."

"Then it was not a man," declared Floriani.

"What!"

"If the transom is too small to admit a man, it must have been a
child."

"A child!"

"Did you not say that your friend Henriette had a son?"

"Yes; a son named Raoul."

"Then, in all probability, it was Raoul who committed the theft."

"What proof have you of that?"

"What proof! Plenty of it....For instance---"

He stopped, and reflected for a moment, then continued:

"For instance, that gangway or bridge. It is improbable that the
child could have brought it in from outside the house and carried
it away again without being observed. He must have used something
close at hand. In the little room used by Henriette as a kitchen,
were there not some shelves against the wall on which she placed
her pans and dishes?"

"Two shelves, to the best of my memory."

"Are you sure that those shelves are really fastened to the wooden
brackets that support them? For, if they are nor, we could be
justified in presuming that the child removed them, fastened them
together, and thus formed his bridge. Perhaps, also, since there
was a stove, we might find the bent poker that he used to open the
transom."

Without saying a word, the count left the room; and, this time,
those present did not feel the nervous anxiety they had experienced
the first time. They were confident that Floriani was right, and
no one was surprised when the count returned and declared:

"It was the child. Everything proves it."

"You have seen the shelves and the poker?"

"Yes. The shelves have been unnailed, and the poker is there yet."

But the countess exclaimed:

"You had better say it was his mother. Henriette is the guilty
party. She must have compelled her son---"

"No," declared the chevalier, "the mother had nothing to do with
it."

"Nonsense! they occupied the same room. The child could not have
done it without the mother's knowledge."

"True, they lived in the same room, but all this happened in the
adjoining room, during the night, while the mother was asleep."

"And the necklace?" said the count. "It would have been found
amongst the child's things."

"Pardon me! He had been out. That morning, on which you found him
reading, he had just come from school, and perhaps the commissary
of police, instead of wasting his time on the innocent mother,
would have been better employed in searching the child's desk
amongst his school-books."

"But how do you explain those two thousand francs that Henriette
received each year? Are they not evidence of her complicity?"

"If she had been an accomplice, would she have thanked you for that
money? And then, was she not closely watched? But the child,
being free, could easily go to a neighboring city, negotiate with
some dealer and sell him one diamond or two diamonds, as he might
wish, upon condition that the money should be sent from Paris, and
that proceeding could be repeated from year to year."

An indescribable anxiety oppressed the Dreux-Soubise and their
guests. There was something in the tone and attitude of Floriani--
something more that the chevalier's assurance which, from the
beginning, had so annoyed the count. There was a touch of irony,
that seemed rather hostile than sympathetic. But the count
affected to laugh, as he said:

"All that is very ingenious and interesting, and I congratulate you
upon your vivid imagination."

"No, not at all," replied Floriani, with the utmost gravity, "I
imagine nothing. I simply describe the events as they must have
occurred."

"But what do you know about them?"

"What you yourself have told me. I picture to myself the life of
the mother and child down there in the country; the illness of the
mother, the schemes of and inventions of the child sell the
precious stones in order to save his mother's life, or, at least,
soothe her dying moments. Her illness overcomes her. She dies.
Years roll on. The child becomes a man; and then--and now I will
give my imagination a free rein--let us suppose that the man feels a
desire to return to the home of his childhood, that he does so, and
that he meets there certain people who suspect and accuse his
mother....do you realize the sorrow and anguish of such an
interview in the very house wherein the original drama was played?"

His words seemed to echo for a few seconds in the ensuing silence,
and one could read upon the faces of the Count and Countess de
Dreux a bewildered effort to comprehend his meaning and, at the
same time, the fear and anguish of such a comprehension. The count
spoke at last, and said:

"Who are you, monsieur?"

"I? The chevalier Floriani, whom you met at Palermo, and whom you
have been gracious enough to invite to your house on several
occasions."

"Then what does this story mean?"

"Oh! nothing at all! It is simply a pastime, so far as I am
concerned. I endeavor to depict the pleasure that Henriette's son,
if he still lives, would have in telling you that he was the guilty
party, and that he did it because his mother was unhappy, as she
was on the point of losing the place of a....servant, by which she
lived, and because the child suffered at sight of his mother's
sorrow."

He spoke with suppressed emotion, rose partially and inclined
toward the countess. There could be no doubt that the chevalier
Floriani was Henriette's son. His attitude and words proclaimed
it. Besides, was it not his obvious intention and desire to be
recognized as such?

The count hesitated. What action would he take against the
audacious guest? Ring? Provoke a scandal? Unmask the man who had
once robbed him? But that was a long time ago! And who would
believe that absurd story about the guilty child? No; better far
to accept the situation, and pretend not to comprehend the true
meaning of it. So the count, turning to Floriani, exclaimed:

"Your story is very curious, very entertaining; I enjoyed it much.
But what do you think has become of this young man, this model son?
I hope he has not abandoned the career in which he made such a
brilliant début."

"Oh! certainly not."

"After such a début! To steal the Queen's Necklace at six years of
age; the celebrated necklace that was coveted by Marie-Antoinette!"

"And to steal it," remarked Floriani, falling in with the count's
mood, "without costing him the slightest trouble, without anyone
thinking to examine the condition of the window, or to observe that
the window-sill was too clean--that window-sill which he had wiped
in order to efface the marks he had made in the thick dust. We
must admit that it was sufficient to turn the head of a boy at that
age. It was all so easy. He had simply to desire the thing, and
reach out his hand to get it."

"And he reached out his hand."

"Both hands," replied the chevalier, laughing.

His companions received a shock. What mystery surrounded the life
of the so-called Floriani? How wonderful must have been the life
of that adventurer, a thief at six years of age, and who, to-day,
in search of excitement or, at most, to gratify a feeling of
resentment, had come to brave his victim in her own house,
audaciously, foolishly, and yet with all the grace and delicacy of
a courteous guest!

He arose and approached the countess to bid her adieu. She
recoiled, unconsciously. He smiled.

"Oh! Madame, you are afraid of me! Did I pursue my role of parlor-
magician a step too far?"

She controlled herself, and replied, with her accustomed ease:

"Not at all, monsieur. The legend of that dutiful son interested
me very much, and I am pleased to know that my necklace had such a
brilliant destiny. But do you not think that the son of that
woman, that Henriette, was the victim of hereditary influence in
the choice of his vocation?"

He shuddered, feeling the point, and replied:

"I am sure of it; and, moreover, his natural tendency to crime must
have been very strong or he would have been discouraged."

"Why so?"

"Because, as you must know, the majority of the diamonds were
false. The only genuine stones were the few purchased from the
English jeweler, the others having been sold, one by one, to meet
the cruel necessities of life."

"It was still the Queen's Necklace, monsieur," replied the
countess, haughtily, "and that is something that he, Henriette's
son, could not appreciate."

"He was able to appreciate, madame, that, whether true or false,
the necklace was nothing more that an object of parade, an emblem
of senseless pride."

The count made a threatening gesture, but his wife stopped him.

"Monsieur," she said, "if the man to whom you allude has the
slightest sense of honor---"

She stopped, intimidated by Floriani's cool manner.

"If that man has the slightest sense of honor," he repeated.

She felt that she would not gain anything by speaking to him in
that manner, and in spite of her anger and indignation, trembling
as she was from humiliated pride, she said to him, almost politely:

"Monsieur, the legend says that Rétaux de Villette, when in
possession of the Queen's Necklace, did not disfigure the mounting.
He understood that the diamonds were simply the ornament, the
accessory, and that the mounting was the essential work, the
creation of the artist, and he respected it accordingly. Do you
think that this man had the same feeling?"

"I have no doubt that the mounting still exists. The child
respected it."

"Well, monsieur, if you should happen to meet him, will you tell
him that he unjustly keeps possession of a relic that is the
property and pride of a certain family, and that, although the
stones have been removed, the Queen's necklace still belongs to the
house of Dreux-Soubise. It belongs to us as much as our name or
our honor."

The chevalier replied, simply:

"I shall tell him, madame."

He bowed to her, saluted the count and the other guests, and
departed.

* * * * *

Four days later, the countess de Dreux found upon the table in her
chamber a red leather case bearing the cardinal's arms. She opened
it, and found the Queen's Necklace.

But as all things must, in the life of a man who strives for unity
and logic, converge toward the same goal--and as a little
advertising never does any harm--on the following day, the `Echo de
France' published these sensational lines:

"The Queen's Necklace, the famous historical jewelry stolen from
the family of Dreux-Soubise, has been recovered by Arsène Lupin,
who hastened to restore it to its rightful owner. We cannot too
highly commend such a delicate and chivalrous act."

VI. The Seven of Hearts

I am frequently asked this question: "How did you make the
acquaintance of Arsène Lupin?"

My connection with Arsène Lupin was well known. The details that I
gather concerning that mysterious man, the irrefutable facts that I
present, the new evidence that I produce, the interpretation that I
place on certain acts of which the public has seen only the
exterior manifestations without being able to discover the secret
reasons or the invisible mechanism, all establish, if not an
intimacy, at least amicable relations and regular confidences.

But how did I make his acquaintance? Why was I selected to be his
historiographer? Why I, and not some one else?

The answer is simple: chance alone presided over my choice; my
merit was not considered. It was chance that put me in his way.
It was by chance that I was participant in one of his strangest and
most mysterious adventures; and by chance that I was an actor in a
drama of which he was the marvelous stage director; an obscure and
intricate drama, bristling with such thrilling events that I feel a
certain embarrassment in undertaking to describe it.

The first act takes place during that memorable night of 22 June,
of which so much has already been said. And, for my part, I
attribute the anomalous conduct of which I was guilty on that
occasion to the unusual from of mind in which I found myself on my
return home. I had dined with some friends at the Cascade
restaurant, and, the entire evening, whilst we smoked and the
orchestra played melancholy waltzes, we talked only of crimes and
thefts, and dark and frightful intrigues. That is always a poor
overture to a night's sleep.

The Saint-Martins went away in an automobile. Jean Daspry--that
delightful, heedless Daspry who, six months later, was killed in
such a tragic manner on the frontier of Morocco--Jean Daspry and I
returned on foot through the dark, warm night. When we arrived in
front of the little house in which I had lived for a year at
Neuilly, on the boulevard Maillot, he said to me:

"Are you afraid?"

"What an idea!"

"But this house is so isolated....no neighbors....vacant
lots....Really, I am not a coward, and yet---"

"Well, you are very cheering, I must say."

"Oh! I say that as I would say anything else. The Saint-Martins
have impressed me with their stories of brigands and thieves."

We shook hands and said good-night. I took out my key and opened
the door.

"Well, that is good," I murmured, "Antoine has forgotten to light a
candle."

Then I recalled the fact that Antoine was away; I had given him a
short leave of absence. Forthwith, I was disagreeably oppressed by
the darkness and silence of the night. I ascended the stairs on
tiptoe, and reached my room as quickly as possible; then, contrary
to my usual habit, I turned the key and pushed the bolt.

The light of my candle restored my courage. Yet I was careful to
take my revolver from its case--a large, powerful weapon--and place
it beside my bed. That precaution completed my reassurance. I
laid down and, as usual, took a book from my night-table to read
myself to sleep. Then I received a great surprise. Instead of the
paper-knife with which I had marked my place on the preceding, I
found an envelope, closed with five seals of red wax. I seized it

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