Part 2 out of 7
Kittredge stood as if in a daze staring at the note. He read it, then read
it again, then he crumpled it in his hand, muttering: "O God!" And his face
"Good-by!" he said to Alice in extreme agitation. "I don't know what you
think of this, I can't stop to explain, I--I must go at once!" And taking
up his hat and cane he started away.
"But you'll come back?" cried the girl.
"No, no! This is the end!"
She went to him swiftly and laid a hand on his arm. "Lloyd, you _must_ come
back. You must come back to-night. It's the last thing I'll ever ask you.
You need never see me again but--_you must come back to-night_."
She stood transformed as she spoke, not pleading but commanding and
beautiful beyond words.
"It may be very late," he stammered.
"I'll wait until you come," she said simply, "no matter what time. I'll
wait. But you'll surely come, Lloyd?"
He hesitated a moment and then, before the power of her eyes: "I'll surely
come," he promised, and a moment later he was gone.
Then the hours passed, anxious, ominous hours! Ten, eleven, twelve! And
still Alice waited for her lover, silencing Mother Bonneton's grumblings
with a look that this hard old woman had once or twice seen in the girl's
face and had learned to respect. At half past twelve a carriage sounded in
the quiet street, then a quick step on the stairs. Kittredge had kept his
The door was opened by Mother Bonneton, very sleepy and arrayed in a
wrapper of purple and gold pieced together from discarded altar coverings.
She eyed the young man sternly but said nothing, for Alice was at her back
holding the lamp and there was something in the American's face, something
half reckless, half appealing, that startled her. She felt the cold breath
of a sinister happening and regretted Bonneton's absence at the church.
"Well, I'm here," said Kittredge with a queer little smile. "I couldn't
come any sooner and--I can't stay."
The girl questioned him with frightened eyes. "Isn't it over yet?"
He looked at her sharply. "I don't know what you mean by 'it,' but, as a
matter of fact, _it_ hasn't begun yet. If you have any questions you'd
better ask 'em."
Alice turned and said quietly: "Was the woman who came in the carriage the
one you told us about?"
"Have you been with her ever since?"
"No. I was with her only about ten minutes."
"Is she in trouble?"
Kittredge nodded slowly. "Oh, I'm in trouble, all right."
"Can I help you?"
He shook his head. "The only way you can help is by believing in me. I
haven't lied to you. I hadn't seen that woman for over six months. I didn't
know she was coming here. I don't love her, I love you, but I did love her,
and what I have done to-night I--I _had_ to do." He spoke with growing
agitation which he tried vainly to control.
Alice looked at him steadily for a moment and then in a low voice she spoke
the words that were pressing on her heart: "_What_ have you done?"
"There's no use going into that," he answered unsteadily. "I can only ask
you to trust me."
"I trust you, Lloyd," she said.
While they were talking Mother Bonneton had gone to the window attracted by
sounds from below, and as she peered down her face showed surprise and
then intense excitement.
"Kind saints!" she muttered. "The courtyard is full of policemen." Then
with sudden understanding she exclaimed: "Perhaps we will know now what he
has been doing." As she spoke a heavy tread was heard on the stairs and the
murmur of voices.
"It's nothing," said Alice weakly.
"Nothing?" mocked the old woman. "Hear that!"
An impatient hand sounded at the door while a harsh voice called out those
terrifying words: "_Open in the name of the law_."
With a mingling of alarm and satisfaction Mother Bonneton obeyed the
summons, and a moment later, as she unlatched the door, a fat man with a
bristling red mustache and keen eyes pushed forward into the room where the
lovers were waiting. Two burly policemen followed him.
"Ah!" exclaimed Gibelin with a gesture of relief as his eye fell on
Kittredge. Then producing a paper he said: "I am from headquarters. I am
looking for"--he studied the writing in perplexity--"for M. Lo-eed
Keetredge. What is _your_ name?"
"That's it," replied the American, "you made a good stab at it."
"You are M. Lo-eed Keetredge?"
"You must come with me. I have a warrant for your arrest." And he showed
But Alice staggered forward. "Why do you arrest him? What has he done?"
The man from headquarters answered, shrugging his shoulders: "I don't know
what he's done, _he's charged with murder_."
"Murder!" echoed the sacristan's wife. "Holy angels! A murderer in my
"Take him," ordered the detective, and the two policemen laid hold of
Kittredge on either side.
"Alice!" cried the young man, and his eyes yearned toward her. "Alice, I am
"Come," said the men gruffly, and Kittredge felt a sickening sense of shame
as he realized that he was a prisoner.
"Wait! One moment!" protested the girl, and the men paused. Then, going
close to her lover, Alice spoke to him in low, thrilling words that came
straight from her soul:
"Lloyd, I believe you, I trust you, I love you. No matter what you have
done, I love you. It was because my love is so great that I refused you
this afternoon. But you need me now, you're in trouble now, and, Lloyd,
if--if you want me still, I'm yours, all yours."
"O God!" murmured Kittredge, and even the hardened policeman choked a
little. "I'm the happiest man in Paris, but--" He could say no more except
with a last longing look: "Good-by."
Wildly, fiercely she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him
passionately on the mouth--their first kiss. And she murmured: "I love you,
I love you."
Then they led Kittredge away.
[Illustration: "'Alice, I am innocent.'"]
COQUENIL GETS IN THE GAME
It was a long night at the Ansonia and a hard night for M. Gritz. France is
a land of infinite red tape where even such simple things as getting born
or getting married lead to endless formalities. Judge, then, of the
complicated procedure involved in so serious a matter as getting
murdered--especially in a fashionable restaurant! Long before the
commissary had finished his report there arrived no less a person than M.
Simon, the chief of police, round-faced and affable, a brisk, dapper man
whose ready smile had led more than one trusting criminal into regretted
And a little later came M. Hauteville, the judge in charge of the case, a
cold, severe figure, handsome in his younger days, but soured, it was said,
by social disappointments and ill health. He was in evening dress, having
been summoned posthaste from the theater. Both of these officials went over
the case with the commissary and the doctor, both viewed the body and
studied its surroundings and, having formed a theory of the crime, both
proceeded to draw up a report. And the doctor drew up _his_ report. And
already Gibelin (now at the prison with Kittredge) had made elaborate notes
for _his_ report. And outside the hotel, with eager notebooks, were a score
of reporters all busy with _their_ reports. No doubt that, in the matter of
paper and ink, full justice would be done to the sudden taking off of this
gallant billiard player!
Meantime the official police photographer and his assistants had arrived
(this was long after midnight) with special apparatus for photographing the
victim and the scene of the crime. And their work occupied two full hours
owing largely to the difficult manipulation of a queer, clumsy camera that
photographed the body _from above_ as it lay on the floor.
In the intervals of these formalities the officials discussed the case with
a wide variance in opinions and conclusions. The chief of police and M.
Pougeot were strong for the theory of murder, while M. Hauteville leaned
toward suicide. The doctor was undecided.
"But the shot was fired at the closest possible range," insisted the judge;
"the pistol was not a foot from the man's head. Isn't that true, doctor?"
"Yes," replied Joubert, "the eyebrows are badly singed, the skin is burned,
and the face shows unmistakable powder marks. I should say the pistol was
fired not six inches from the victim."
"Then it's suicide," declared the judge. "How else account for the facts?
Martinez was a strong, active man. He would never have allowed a murderer
to get so close to him without a struggle. But there is not the slightest
sign of a struggle, no disorder in the room, no disarrangement of the man's
clothing. It's evidently suicide."
"If it's suicide," objected Pougeot, "where is the weapon? The man died
instantly, didn't he, doctor?"
"Undoubtedly," agreed the doctor.
"Then the pistol must have fallen beside him or remained in his hand. Well,
where is it?"
"Ask the woman who was here. How do you know she didn't take it?"
"Nonsense!" put in the chief. "Why should she take it? To throw suspicion
on herself? Besides, I'll show you another reason why it's not suicide. The
man was shot through the right eye, the ball went in straight and clean,
tearing its way to the brain. Well, in the whole history of suicides, there
is not one case where a man has shot himself in the eye. Did you ever hear
of such a case, doctor?"
"Never," answered Joubert.
"A man will shoot himself in the mouth, in the temple, in the heart,
anywhere, but not in the eye. There would be an unconquerable shrinking
from that. So I say it's murder."
The judge shook his head. "And the murderer?"
"Ah, that's another question. We must find the woman. And we must
understand the role of this American."
"No woman ever fired that shot or planned this crime," declared the
commissary, unconsciously echoing Coquenil's opinion.
"There's better reason to argue that the American never did it," retorted
"The woman ran away, didn't she? And the American didn't. If he had killed
this man, do you think _anything_ would have brought him back here for that
cloak and bag?"
"A good point," nodded the chief. "We can't be sure of the murderer--yet,
but we can be reasonably sure it's murder."
Still the judge was unconvinced. "If it's murder, how do you account for
the singed eyebrows? How did the murderer get so near?"
"I answer as you did: 'Ask the woman.' She knows."
"Ah, yes, she knows," reflected the commissary. "And, gentlemen, all our
talk brings us back to this, _we must find that woman_."
At half past one Gibelin appeared to announce the arrest of Kittredge. He
had tried vainly to get from the American some clew to the owner of cloak
and bag, but the young man had refused to speak and, with sullen
indifference, had allowed himself to be locked up in the big room at the
"I'll see what _I_ can squeeze out of him in the morning," said Hauteville
grimly. There was no judge in the _parquet_ who had his reputation for
breaking down the resistance of obstinate prisoners.
"You've got your work cut out," snapped the detective. "He's a stubborn
In the midst of these perplexities and technicalities a note was brought in
for M. Pougeot. The commissary glanced at it quickly and then, with a word
of excuse, left the room, returning a few minutes later and whispering
earnestly to M. Simon.
"You say _he_ is here?" exclaimed the latter. "I thought he was sailing
M. Pougeot bent closer and whispered again.
"Paul Coquenil!" exclaimed the chief. "Why, certainly, ask him to come in."
A moment later Coquenil entered and all rose with cordial greetings, that
is, all except Gibelin, whose curt nod and suspicious glances showed that
he found anything but satisfaction in the presence of this formidable
"My dear Coquenil!" said Simon warmly. "This is like the old days! If you
were only with us now what a nut there would be for you to crack!"
"So I hear," smiled M. Paul, "and--er--the fact is, I have come to help
you crack it." He spoke with that quiet but confident seriousness which
always carried conviction, and M. Simon and the judge, feeling the man's
power, waited his further words with growing interest; but Gibelin blinked
his small eyes and muttered under his breath: "The cheek of the fellow!"
"As you know," explained Coquenil briefly, "I resigned from the force two
years ago. I need not go into details; the point is, I now ask to be taken
back. That is why I am here."
"But, my dear fellow," replied the chief in frank astonishment, "I
understood that you had received a magnificent offer with----"
"Yes, yes, I have."
"With a salary of a hundred thousand francs?"
"It's true, but--I have refused it."
Simon and Hauteville looked at Coquenil incredulously. How could a man
refuse a salary of a hundred thousand francs? The commissary watched his
friend with admiration, Gibelin with envious hostility.
"May I ask _why_ you have refused it?" asked the chief.
"Partly for personal reasons, largely because I want to have a hand in this
Gibelin moved uneasily.
"You think this case so interesting?" put in the judge.
"The most interesting I have ever known," answered the other, and then he
added with all the authority of his fine, grave face: "It's more than
interesting, _it's the most important criminal case Paris has known for
Again they stared at him.
"My dear Coquenil, you exaggerate," objected M. Simon. "After all, we have
only the shooting of a billiard player."
M. Paul shook his head and replied impressively: "The billiard player was a
pawn in the game. He became troublesome and was sacrificed. He is of no
importance, but there's a greater game than billiards here with a master
player and--_I'm going to be in it_."
"Why do you think it's a great game?" questioned the judge.
"Why do I think anything? Why did I think a commonplace pickpocket at the
Bon Marche was a notorious criminal, wanted by two countries? Why did I
think we should find the real clew to that Bordeaux counterfeiting gang in
a Passy wine shop? Why did I think it necessary to-night to be _on_ the cab
this young American took and not _behind_ it in another cab?" He shot a
quick glance at Gibelin. "Because a good detective _knows_ certain things
before he can prove them and acts on his knowledge. That is what
distinguishes him from an ordinary detective."
"Meaning me?" challenged Gibelin.
"Not at all," replied M. Paul smoothly. "I only say that----"
"One moment," interrupted M. Simon. "Do I understand that you were with the
driver who took this American away from here to-night?"
Coquenil smiled. "I was not _with_ the driver, I _was the driver_ and I had
the honor of receiving five francs from my distinguished associate." He
bowed mockingly to Gibelin and held up a silver piece. "I shall keep this
among my curiosities."
"It was a foolish trick, a perfectly useless trick," declared Gibelin,
"Perhaps not," answered the other with aggravating politeness; "perhaps it
was a rather nice _coup_ leading to very important results."
"Huh! What results?"
"Yes. What results?" echoed the judge.
"Let me ask first," replied Coquenil deliberately, "what you regard as the
most important thing to be known in this case just now?"
"The name of the woman," answered Hauteville promptly.
"_Parbleu!_" agreed the commissary.
"Then the man who gives you this woman's name and address will render a
"A service?" exclaimed Hauteville. "The whole case rests on this woman.
Without her, nothing can be understood."
"So it would be a good piece of work," continued Coquenil, "if a man had
discovered this name and address in the last few hours with nothing but his
wits to help him; in fact, with everything done to hinder him." He looked
meaningly at Gibelin.
"Come, come," interrupted the chief, "what are you driving at?"
"At this, _I have the woman's name and address_."
"Impossible!" they cried.
"I got them by my own efforts and I will give them up _on my own terms_."
He spoke with a look of fearless purpose that M. Simon well remembered from
the old days.
"A thousand devils! How did you do it?" cried Simon.
"I watched the American in the cab as he leaned forward toward the lantern
light and I saw exactly what he was doing. He opened the lady's bag and cut
out a leather flap that had her name and address stamped on it."
"No," contradicted Gibelin, "there was _no_ name in the bag. I examined it
"The name was on the _under side_ of the flap," laughed the other, "in gilt
Gibelin's heart sank.
"And you took this flap from the American?" asked M. Simon.
"No, no! Any violence would have brought my colleague into the thing, for
he was close behind, and I wanted this knowledge for myself."
"What did you do?" pursued the chief.
"I let the young man cut the flap into small pieces and drop them one by
one as we drove through dark little streets. And I noted where he dropped
the pieces. Then I drove back and picked them up, that is, all but two."
"Marvelous!" muttered Hauteville.
"I had a small searchlight lantern to help me. That was one of the things I
took from my desk," he added to Pougeot.
"And these pieces of leather with the name and address, you have them?"
continued the chief.
"I have them."
"May I see them?"
"Certainly. If you will promise to respect them as my personal property?"
Simon hesitated. "You mean--" he frowned, and then impatiently: "Oh, yes, I
Coquenil drew an envelope from his breast pocket and from it he took a
number of white-leather fragments. And he showed the chief that most of
these fragments were stamped in gold letters or parts of letters.
"I'm satisfied," declared Simon after examining several of the fragments
and returning them. "_Bon Dieu!_" he stormed at Gibelin. "And you had that
bag in your hands!"
Gibelin sat silent. This was the wretchedest moment in his career.
"Well," continued the chief, "we _must_ have these pieces of leather. What
are your terms?"
"I told you," said Coquenil, "I want to be put back on the force. I want to
handle this case."
M. Simon thought a moment. "That ought to be easily arranged. I will see
the _prefet de police_ about it in the morning."
But the other demurred. "I ask you to see him to-night. It's ten minutes to
his house in an automobile. I'll wait here."
The chief smiled. "You're in a hurry, aren't you? Well, so are we. Will you
come with me, Hauteville?"
"If you like."
"And I'll go, if you don't mind," put in the commissary. "I may have some
influence with the _prefet_."
"He won't refuse me," declared Simon. "After all, I am responsible for the
pursuit of criminals in this city, and if I tell him that I absolutely need
Paul Coquenil back on the force, as I do, he will sign the commission at
once. Come, gentlemen."
A moment later the three had hurried off, leaving Coquenil and Gibelin
"Have one?" said M. Paul, offering his cigarette case.
"Thanks," snapped Gibelin with deliberate insolence, "I prefer my own."
"There's no use being ugly about it," replied the other good-naturedly, as
he lighted a cigarette. His companion did the same and the two smoked in
silence, Gibelin gnawing savagely at his little red mustache.
"See here," broke in the latter, "wouldn't you be ugly if somebody butted
into a case that had been given to you?"
"Why," smiled Coquenil, "if he thought he could handle it better than I
could, I--I think I'd let him try."
[Illustration: "'Have one?' said M. Paul, offering his cigarette case."]
Then there was another silence, broken presently by Gibelin.
"Do you imagine the _prefet de police_ is going to stand being pulled out
of bed at three in the morning just because Paul Coquenil wants something?
Well, I guess not."
"No? What do you think he'll do?" asked Coquenil.
"Do? He'll tell those men they are three idiots, that's what he'll do. And
you'll never get your appointment. Bet you five louis you don't."
M. Paul shook his head. "I don't want your money."
"_Bon sang!_ You think the whole police department must bow down to you."
"It's not a case of bowing down to me, it's a case of _needing_ me."
"Huh!" snorted the other. "I'm going to walk around." He rose and moved
toward the door. Then he turned sharply: "Say, how much did you pay that
"Ten louis. It was cheap enough. He might have lost his place."
"You think it's a great joke on me because I paid you five francs? Don't
forget that it was raining and dark and you had that rubber cape pulled up
over half your face, so it wasn't such a wonderful disguise."
"I didn't say it was."
"Anyhow, I'll get square with you," retorted the other, exasperated by M.
Paul's good nature. "The best men make mistakes and _look out that you
don't make one_."
"If I do, I'll call on you for help."
"And _if_ you do, I'll take jolly good care that you don't get it," snarled
"Nonsense!" laughed Coquenil. "You're a good soldier, Gibelin; you like to
kick and growl, but you do your work. Tell you what I'll do as soon as I'm
put in charge of this case. Want to know what I'll do?"
"I'll have to set you to work on it. Ha, ha! Upon my soul, I will."
"You'd better look out," menaced the red-haired man with an ugly look, "or
I'll do some work on this case you'll wish I hadn't done." With this he
flung himself out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
"What did he mean by that?" muttered M. Paul, and he sat silent, lost in
thought, until the others returned. In a glance, he read the answer in
"It's all right," said the chief.
"Congratulations, old friend," beamed Pougeot, squeezing Coquenil's hand.
"The _prefet_ was extremely nice," added M. Hauteville; "he took our view
"Then my commission is signed?"
"Precisely," answered the chief; "you are one of us again, and--I'm glad."
"Thank you, both of you," said M. Paul with a quiver of emotion.
"I give you full charge of this case," went on M. Simon, "and I will see
that you have every possible assistance. I expect you to be on deck
Coquenil hesitated a moment and then, with a flash of his tireless energy,
he said: "If it's all the same to you, chief, I'll go on deck
Right across from the Ansonia on the Rue Marboeuf was a little wine shop
that remained open all night for the accommodation of cab drivers and
belated pedestrians and to this Coquenil and the commissary now withdrew.
Before anything else the detective wished to get from M. Pougeot his
impressions of the case. And he asked Papa Tignol to come with them for a
"By the way," said the commissary to Tignol when they were seated in the
back room, "did you find out how that woman left the hotel without her
wraps and without being seen?"
The old man nodded. "When she came out of the telephone booth she slipped
on a long black rain coat that was hanging there. It belonged to the
telephone girl and it's missing. The rain coat had a hood to it which the
woman pulled over her head. Then she walked out quietly and no one paid any
attention to her."
"Good work, Papa Tignol," approved Coquenil.
"It's you, M. Paul, who have done good work this night," chuckled Tignol.
"Eh! Eh! What a lesson for Gibelin!"
"The brute!" muttered Pougeot.
Then they turned to the commissary's report of his investigation, Coquenil
listening with intense concentration, interrupting now and then with a
question or to consult the rough plan drawn by Pougeot.
"Are you sure there is no exit from the banquet room and from these private
rooms except by the corridor?" he asked.
"They tell me not."
"So, if the murderer went out, he must have passed Joseph?"
"And the only persons who passed Joseph were the woman and this American?"
"Too easy!" he muttered. "Too easy!"
"What do you mean?"
"That would put the guilt on one or the other of those two?"
"And end the case?"
"Yes, it would. A case is ended when the murderer is discovered. Well, this
case is _not_ ended, you can be sure of that. The murderer I am looking for
_is not that kind of a murderer_. To begin with, he's not a fool. If he
made up his mind to shoot a man in a private room he would know _exactly_
what he was doing and _exactly_ how he was going to escape."
"But the facts are there--I've given them to you," retorted the commissary
a little nettled.
Coquenil shook his head.
"My dear Lucien, you have given me _some_ of the facts; before morning I
hope we'll have others and--hello!"
He stopped abruptly to look at a comical little man with a very large
mouth, the owner of the place, who had been hovering about for some moments
as if anxious to say something.
"What is it, my friend?" asked Coquenil good-naturedly.
At this the proprietor coughed in embarrassment and motioned to a prim,
thin-faced woman in the front room who came forward with fidgety shyness,
begging the gentlemen to forgive her if she had done wrong, but there was
something on her conscience and she couldn't sleep without telling it.
"Well?" broke in Pougeot impatiently, but Coquenil gave the woman a
reassuring look and she went on to explain that she was a spinster living
in a little attic room of the next house, overlooking the Rue Marboeuf. She
worked as a seamstress all day in a hot, crowded _atelier_, and when she
came home at night she loved to go out on her balcony, especially these
fine summer evenings. She would stand there and brush her hair while she
watched the sunset deepen and the swallows circle over the chimney tops. It
was an excellent thing for a woman's hair to brush it a long time every
night; she always brushed hers for half an hour--that was why it was so
thick and glossy.
"But, my dear woman," smiled Coquenil, "what has that to do with me? I have
very little hair and no time to brush it."
The seamstress begged his pardon, the point was that on the previous
evening, just as she had nearly finished brushing her hair, she suddenly
heard a sound like a pistol shot from across the street, and looking down,
she saw a glittering object thrown from a window. She saw it distinctly and
watched where it fell beyond the high wall that separated the Ansonia Hotel
from an adjoining courtyard. She had not thought much about it at the
moment, but, having heard that something dreadful had happened----
Coquenil could contain himself no longer and, taking the woman's arm, he
hurried her to the door.
"Now," he said, "show me just _where_ you saw this glittering object thrown
over the wall."
"There," she replied, pointing, "it lies to the left of that heavy doorway
on the courtyard stones. I could see it from my balcony."
[Illustration: "'There it lies to the left of that heavy doorway.'"]
"Wait!" and, speaking to Tignol in a low tone, M. Paul gave him quick
instructions, whereupon the old man hurried across the street and pulled
the bell at the doorway indicated.
"Is he going to see what it was?" asked the spinster eagerly.
"Yes, he is going to see what it was," and at that moment the door swung
open and Papa Tignol disappeared within.
"Did you happen to see the person who threw this thing?" continued M. Paul
"No, but I saw his arm."
Coquenil gave a start of satisfaction. "His arm? Then a man threw it?"
"Oh, yes, I saw his black coat sleeve and his white cuff quite plainly."
"But not his face?"
"No, only the arm."
"Do you remember the window from which he threw this object?" The detective
looked at her anxiously.
"Yes, indeed, it is easy to remember; it's the end window, on the first
floor of the hotel. There!"
Coquenil felt a thrill of excitement, for, unless he had misunderstood the
commissary's diagram, the seamstress was pointing not to private room
Number Six, _but to private room Number Seven!_
"Lucien!" he called, and, taking his friend aside, he asked: "Does that end
window on the first floor belong to Number Six or Number Seven?"
"And the window next to it?"
"Are you sure?"
"Thanks. Just a moment," and he rejoined the seamstress.
"You are giving us great assistance," he said to her politely. "I shall
speak of you to the chief."
"Oh, sir," she murmured in confusion.
"But one point is not quite clear. Just look across again. You see two
open windows, the end window and the one next to it. Isn't it possible that
this bright thing was thrown from the window _next_ to the end one?"
"They are both alike and, both being open, one might easily make a
She shook her head positively. "I have made no mistake, _it was the end
Just then Coquenil heard the click of the door opposite and, looking over,
he saw Papa Tignol beckoning to him.
"Excuse me," he said and hurried across the street.
"It's there," whispered Tignol.
"You remembered what I told you?"
The old man looked hurt. "Of course I did. I haven't touched it. Nothing
could make me touch it."
"Good! Papa Tignol, I want you to stay here until I come back. Things are
Again he rejoined the seamstress and, with his serious, friendly air, he
began: "And you still think that shining object was thrown from the
"No, no! How stupid you are!" And then in confusion: "I beg a thousand
pardons, I am nervous. I thought I told you plainly it was the end window."
"Thanks, my good woman," replied M. Paul. "Now go right back to your room
and don't breathe a word of this to anyone."
"But," she stammered, "would monsieur be so kind as to say what the bright
The detective bent nearer and whispered mysteriously: "It was a comb, a
"_Mon Dieu!_ A silver comb!" exclaimed the unsuspecting spinster.
"Now back to your room and finish brushing your hair," he urged, and the
woman hurried away trembling with excitement.
A few moments later Coquenil and the commissary and Papa Tignol were
standing in the courtyard near two green tubs of foliage plants between
which the pistol had fallen. The doorkeeper of the house, a crabbed
individual who had only become mildly respectful when he learned that he
was dealing with the police, had joined them, his crustiness tempered by
"See here," said the detective, addressing him, "do you want to earn five
francs?" The doorkeeper brightened. "I'll make it ten", continued the
other, "if you do exactly what I say. You are to take a cab, here is the
money, and drive to Notre-Dame. At the right of the church is a high iron
railing around the archbishop's house. In the railing is an iron gate with
a night bell for Extreme Unction. Ring this bell and ask to see the
sacristan Bonneton, and when he comes out give him this." Coquenil wrote
hastily on a card. "It's an order to let you have a dog named Caesar--my
dog--he's guarding the church with Bonneton. Pat Caesar and tell him he's
going to see M. Paul, that's me. Tell him to jump in the cab and keep
still. He'll understand--he knows more than most men. Then drive back here
as quick as you can."
The doorkeeper touched his cap and departed.
Coquenil turned to Tignol. "Watch the pistol. When the doorkeeper comes
back send him over to the hotel. I'll be there."
"Right," nodded the old man.
Then the detective said to Pougeot: "I must talk to Gritz. You know him,
The commissary glanced at his watch. "Yes, but do you realize it's after
"Never mind, I must see him. A lot depends on it. Get him out of bed for
me, Lucien, and--then you can go home."
"I'll try," grumbled the other, "but what in Heaven's name are you going to
do with that dog?"
"_Use him,_" answered Coquenil.
One of the great lessons Coquenil had learned in his long experience with
mysterious crimes was to be careful of hastily rejecting any evidence
because it conflicted with some preconceived theory. It would have been
easy now, for instance, to assume that this prim spinster was mistaken in
declaring that she had seen the pistol thrown from the window of Number
Seven. That, of course, seemed most unlikely, since the shooting was done
in Number Six, yet how account for the woman's positiveness? She seemed a
truthful, well-meaning person, and the murderer _might_ have gone into
Number Seven after committing the crime. It was evidently important to get
as much light as possible on this point. Hence the need of M. Gritz.
M. Herman Gritz was a short, massive man with hard, puffy eyes and thin
black hair, rather curly and oily, and a rapacious nose. He appeared
(having been induced to come down by the commissary) in a richly
embroidered blue-silk house garment, and his efforts at affability were
obviously based on apprehension.
Coquenil began at once with questions about private room Number Seven. We
had reserved this room and what had prevented the person from occupying it?
M. Gritz replied that Number Seven had been engaged some days before by an
old client, who, at the last moment, had sent a _petit bleu_ to say that he
had changed his plans and would not require the room. The _petit bleu_ did
not arrive until after the crime was discovered, so the room remained
empty. More than that, the door was locked.
"Locked on the outside?"
"With the key in the lock?"
"Then anyone coming along the corridor might have turned the key and
entered Number Seven?"
"It is possible," admitted M. Gritz, "but very improbable. The room was
dark, and an ordinary person seeing a door locked and a room dark----"
"We are not talking about an ordinary person," retorted the detective, "we
are talking about a murderer. Come, we must look into this," and he led the
way down the corridor, nodding to the policeman outside Number Six and
stopping at the next door, the last in the line, the door to Number Seven.
"You know I haven't been in _there_ yet." He glanced toward the adjoining
room of the tragedy, then, turning the key in Number Seven, he tried to
open the door.
"Hello! It's locked on the inside, too!"
"_Tiens!_ You're right," said Gritz, and he rumpled his scanty locks in
"Some one has been inside, some one may be inside now."
The proprietor shook his head and, rather reluctantly, went on to explain
that Number Seven was different from the other private rooms in this, that
it had a separate exit with separate stairs leading to an alleyway between
the hotel and a wall surrounding it. A few habitues knew of this exit and
used it occasionally for greater privacy. The alleyway led to a gate in the
wall opening on the Rue Marboeuf, so a particularly discreet couple, let us
say, could drive up to this gate, pass through the alleyway, and then, by
the private stairs, enter Number Seven without being seen by anyone,
assuming, of course, that they had a key to the alleyway door. And they
could leave the restaurant in the same unobserved manner.
As Coquenil listened, his mouth drew into an ominous thin line and his deep
eyes burned angrily.
"M. Gritz," he said in a cold, cutting voice, "you are a man of
intelligence, you must be. This crime was committed last night about nine
o'clock; it's now half past three in the morning. Will you please tell me
how it happens that this fact _of vital importance_ has been concealed from
the police for over six hours?"
"Why," stammered the other, "I--I don't know."
"Are you trying to shield some one? Who is this man that engaged Number
Gritz shook his head unhappily. "I don't know his name."
"You don't know his name?" thundered Coquenil.
"We have to be discreet in these matters," reasoned the other. "We have
many clients who do not give us their names, they have their own reasons
for that; some of them are married, and, as a man of the world, _I_ respect
their reserve." M. Gritz prided himself on being a man of the world. He had
started as a penniless Swiss waiter and had reached the magnificent point
where broken-down aristocrats were willing to owe him money and sometimes
borrow it--and he appreciated the honor.
"But what do you call him?" persisted Coquenil. "You must call him
"In speaking to him we call him 'monsieur'; in speaking of him we call him
'_the tall blonde_.'"
"The tall blonde!" repeated M. Paul.
"Exactly. He has been here several times with a woman he calls Anita.
That's all I know about it. Anyway, what difference does it make since he
didn't come to-night?"
"How do you know he didn't come? He had a key to the alleyway door, didn't
"Yes, but I tell you he sent a _petit bleu_."
The detective shrugged his shoulders. "_Some one_ has been here and locked
this door on the inside. I want it opened."
"Just a moment," trembled Gritz. "I have a pass key to the alleyway door.
We'll go around."
"Make haste, then," and they started briskly through the halls, the
proprietor assuring M. Paul that only a single key was ever given out for
the alleyway door and this to none but trusted clients, who returned it the
"Only a single key to the alleyway door," reflected, Coquenil.
"And your 'tall blonde' has it now?"
"I suppose so."
They left the hotel by the main entrance, and were just going around into
Rue Marboeuf when the _concierge_ from across the way met them with word
that Caesar had arrived.
"Caesar?" questioned Gritz.
"He's my dog. Ph-h-eet! Ph-h-eet! Ah, here he is!" and out of the shadows
the splendid animal came bounding. At his master's call he had made a
mighty plunge and broken away from Papa Tignol's hold.
"Good old fellow!" murmured M. Paul, holding the dog's eager head with his
two hands. "I have work for you, sir, to-night. Ah, he knows! See his eyes!
Look at that tail! We'll show 'em, eh, Caesar?"
And the dog answered with delighted leaps.
"What are you going to do with him?" asked the proprietor.
"Make a little experiment. Do you mind waiting a couple of minutes? It
_may_ give us a line on this visitor to Number Seven."
"I'll wait," said Gritz.
"Come over here," continued the other. "I'll show you a pistol connected
with this case. And I'll show it to the dog."
"For the scent? You don't think a dog can follow the scent from a pistol,
do you?" asked the proprietor incredulously.
"I don't know. _This_ dog has done wonderful things. He tracked a murderer
once three miles across rough country near Liege and found him hidden in a
barn. But he had better conditions there. We'll see."
They had entered the courtyard now and Coquenil led Caesar to the spot
where the weapon lay still undisturbed.
"_Cherche!_" he ordered, and the dog nosed the pistol with concentrated
effort. Then silently, anxiously, one would say, he darted away, circling
the courtyard back and forth, sniffing the ground as he went, pausing
occasionally or retracing his steps and presently stopping before M. Paul
with a little bark of disappointment.
"Nothing, eh? Quite right. Give me the pistol, Papa Tignol. We'll try
outside. There!" He pointed to the open door where the _concierge_ was
waiting. "Now then, _cherche!_"
In an instant Caesar was out in the Rue Marboeuf, circling again and again
in larger and larger arcs, as he had been taught, back and forth, until he
had covered a certain length of street and sidewalk, every foot of the
space between opposite walls, then moving on for another length and then
for another, looking up at his master now and then for a word of
[Illustration: "'_Cherche!_' he ordered."]
"It's a hard test," muttered Coquenil. "Footprints and weapons have lain
for hours in a drenching rain, but--Ah!" Caesar had stopped with a little
whine and was half crouching at the edge of the sidewalk, head low, eyes
fiercely forward, body quivering with excitement. "He's found something!"
The dog turned with quick, joyous barks.
"He's got the scent. Now _watch_ him," and sharply he gave the word:
Straight across the pavement darted Caesar, then along the opposite
sidewalk _away_ from the Champs Elysees, running easily, nose down, past
the Rue Francois Premier, past the Rue Clement-Marot, then out into the
street again and stopping suddenly.
"He's lost it," mourned Papa Tignol.
"Lost it? Of course he's lost it," triumphed the detective. And turning to
M. Gritz: "There's where your murderer picked up a cab. It's perfectly
clear. No one has touched that pistol since the man who used it threw it
from the window of Number Seven."
"You mean Number Six," corrected Gritz.
"I mean Number Seven. We know where the murderer took a cab, now we'll see
where he left the hotel." And hurrying toward his dog, he called: "Back,
Obediently the dog trotted back along the trail, recrossing the street
where he had crossed it before, and presently reaching the point where he
had first caught the scent. Here he stopped, waiting for orders, eying M.
Paul with almost speaking intelligence.
"A wonderful dog," admired Gritz. "What kind is he?"
"Belgian shepherd dog," answered Coquenil. "He cost me five hundred francs,
and I wouldn't sell him for--well, I wouldn't sell him." He bent over and
fondled the panting animal. "We wouldn't sell our best friend, would we,
Evidently Caesar did not think this the moment for sentiment; he growled
impatiently, straining toward the scent.
"He knows there's work to be done and he's right." Then quickly he gave the
word again and once more Caesar was away, darting back along the sidewalk
_toward_ the Champs Elysees, moving nearer and nearer to the houses and
presently stopping at a gateway, against which he pressed and whined. It
was a gateway in the wall surrounding the Ansonia Hotel.
"The man came out here," declared Coquenil, and, unlatching the gate, he
looked inside, the dog pushing after him.
"Down Caesar!" ordered M. Paul, and unwillingly the ardent creature
crouched at his feet.
The wall surrounding the Ansonia was of polished granite about six feet
high, and between this wall and the hotel itself was a space of equal width
planted with slim fir trees that stood out in decorative dignity against
the gray stone.
"This is what you call the alleyway?" questioned Coquenil.
From the pocket of his coat the detective drew a small electric lantern,
the one that had served him so well earlier in the evening, and, touching a
switch, he threw upon the ground a strong white ray; whereupon a confusion
of footprints became visible, as if a number of persons had trod back and
"What does this mean?" he cried.
Papa Tignol explained shamefacedly: "_We_ did it looking for the pistol; it
was Gibelin's orders."
"_Bon Dieu!_ What a pity! We can never get a clean print in this mess. But
wait! How far along the alleyway did you look?"
"As far as that back wall. Poor Gibelin! He never thought of looking on the
other side of it. Eh, eh!"
Coquenil breathed more freely. "We may be all right yet. Ah, yes," he
cried, going quickly to this back wall where the alleyway turned to the
right along the rear of the hotel. Again he threw his white light before
him and, with a start of satisfaction, pointed to the ground. There,
clearly marked, was a line of footprints, _a single line_, with no breaks
or imperfections, the plain record on the rain-soaked earth that one
person, evidently a man, had passed this way, _going out_.
"I'll send the dog first," said M. Paul. "Here, Caesar! _Cherche!_"
Once more the eager animal sprang forward, following slowly along the row
of trees where the trail was confused, and then, at the corner, dashing
ahead swiftly, only to stop again after a few yards and stand scratching
uneasily at a closed door.
"That settles it," said Coquenil. "He has brought us to the alleyway door.
Am I right?"
"Yes," nodded Gritz.
"The door that leads to Number Seven?"
"Open it," and, while the agitated proprietor searched for his pass key,
the detective spoke to Tignol: "I want impressions of these footprints, the
_best_ you can take. Use glycerin with plaster of Paris for the molds. Take
_this_ one and these two and _this_ and _this_. Understand?"
"Leave Caesar here while you go for what you need. Down, Caesar! _Garde!_"
The dog growled and went on guard forthwith.
"Now, we'll have a look inside."
The alleyway door stood open and, using his lantern with the utmost care,
Coquenil went first, mounting the stairs slowly, followed by Gritz. At the
top they came to a narrow landing and a closed door.
"This opens directly into Number Seven?" asked the detective.
"Is it usually locked or unlocked?"
"IT is _always_ locked."
"Well, it's unlocked now," observed Coquenil, trying the knob. Then,
flashing his lantern forward, he threw the door wide open. The room was
"Let me turn up the electrics," said the proprietor, and he did so, showing
furnishings like those in Number Six except that here the prevailing tint
was pale blue while there it was pale yellow.
"I see nothing wrong," remarked M. Paul, glancing about sharply. "Do you?"
"Except that this door into the corridor is bolted. It didn't bolt itself,
"No," sighed the other.
Coquenil thought a moment, then he produced the pistol found in the
courtyard and examined it with extreme care, then he unlocked the corridor
door and looked out. The policeman was still on guard before Number Six.
"I shall want to go in there shortly," said the detective. The policeman
"Excuse me," ventured M. Gritz, "have you still much to do?"
"Yes," said the other dryly.
"It's nearly four and--I suppose you are used to this sort of thing, but
I'm knocked out, I--I'd like to go to bed."
"By all means, my dear sir. I shall get on all right now if--oh, they tell
me you make wonderful Turkish coffee here. Do you suppose I could have
"Of course you can. I'll send it at once."
"You'll earn my lasting gratitude."
Gritz hesitated a moment and then, with an apprehensive look in his beady
eyes, he said: "So you're going in _there?_" and he jerked his fat thumb
toward the wall separating them from Number Six.
"To see if the ball from _that_," he looked with a shiver at the pistol,
"fits in--in _that?_" Again he jerked his thumb toward the wall, beyond
which the body lay.
"No, that is the doctor's business. _Mine is more important_. Good night!"
"Good night," answered Gritz and he waddled away down the corridor in his
blue-silk garments, wagging his heavy head and muttering to himself: "More
important than _that! Mon Dieu!_"
THROUGH THE WALL
Coquenil's examination of the pistol showed that it was a weapon of good
make and that only a single shot had been fired from it; also that this
shot had been fired within a few hours. Which, with the evidence of the
seamstress and the dog, gave a strong probability that the instrument of
the crime had been found. If the ball in the body corresponded with balls
still in the pistol, this probability would become a practical certainty.
And yet, the detective knit his brows. Suppose it was established beyond a
doubt that this pistol killed the billiard player, there still remained the
question _how_ the shooting was accomplished. The murderer was in Number
Seven, he could not and did not go into the corridor, for the corridor door
was locked. But the billiard player was in Number Six, he was shot in
Number Six, and he died in Number Six. How were these two facts to be
reconciled? The seamstress's testimony alone might be put aside but not the
dog's testimony. _The murderer certainly remained in Number Seven_.
Holding this conviction, the detective entered the room of the tragedy and
turned up the lights, all of them, so that he might see whatever was to be
seen. He walked back and forth examining the carpet, examining the walls,
examining the furniture, but paying little heed to the body. He went to the
open window and looked out, he went to the yellow sofa and sat down,
finally he shut off the lights and withdrew softly, closing the door behind
him. It was just as the commissary had said _with the exception of one
When he returned to Number Seven, M. Paul found that Gritz had kept his
promise and sent him a pot of fragrant Turkish coffee, steaming hot, and a
box of the choicest Egyptian cigarettes. Ah, that was kind! This was
something like it! And, piling up cushions in the sofa corner, Coquenil
settled back comfortably to think and dream. This was the time he loved
best, these precious silent hours when the city slept and his mind became
most active--this was the time when chiefly he received those flashes of
inspiration or intuition that had so often and so wonderfully guided him.
For half an hour or so the detective smoked continuously and sipped the
powdered delight of Stamboul, his gaze moving about the room in friendly
scrutiny as if he would, by patience and good nature, persuade the walls
or, chairs to give up their secret. Presently he took off his glasses and,
leaning farther back against the cushions, closed his eyes in pleasant
meditation. Or was it a brief snatch of sleep? Whichever it was, a discreet
knock at the corridor door shortly ended it, and Papa Tignol entered to say
that he had finished the footprint molds.
M. Paul roused himself with an effort and, sitting up, his elbow resting
against the sofa back, motioned his associate to a chair.
"By the way," he asked, "what do you think of _that?_" He pointed to a
Japanese print in a black frame that hung near the massive sideboard.
"Why," stammered Tignol, "I--I don't think anything of it."
"A rather interesting picture," smiled the other. "I've been studying it."
"A purple sea, a blue moon, and a red fish--it looks crazy to me," muttered
the old _agent_.
Coquenil laughed at this candid judgment. "All the same, it has a bearing
on our investigations."
M. Paul reached for his glasses, rubbed them deliberately and put them on.
"Papa Tignol," he said seriously, "I have come to a conclusion about this
crime, but I haven't verified it. I am now going to give myself an
"I am going to prove practically whether my mind has grown rusty in the
last two years."
"I wish you'd say things so a plain man can understand 'em," grumbled the
"You understand that we are in private room Number Seven, don't you? On the
other side of that wall is private room Number Six where a man has just
been shot. We know that, don't we? But the man who shot him was in _this_
room, the little hair-brushing old maid saw the pistol thrown from _this_
window, the dog found footprints coming from _this_ room, the murderer went
out through _that_ door into the alleyway and then into the street. He
couldn't have gone into the corridor because the door was locked on the
"He might have gone into the corridor and locked the door after him,"
Coquenil shook his head. "He could have locked the door after him on the
outside, not on the inside; but when we came in here, _it was locked on the
inside_. No, sir, that door to the corridor has not been used this
evening. The murderer bolted it on the inside when he entered from the
alleyway and it wasn't unbolted until I unbolted it myself."
"Then how, in Heaven's name----"
"Exactly! How could a man in this room kill a man in the next room? That is
the problem I have been working at for an hour. And I believe I have solved
it. Listen. Between these rooms is a solid wooden partition with no door in
it--no passageway of any kind. Yet the man in there is dead, we're sure of
that. The pistol was here, the bullet went there--somehow. _How_ did it go
The detective paused and looked fixedly at the wall near the heavy
sideboard. Tignol, half fascinated, stared at the same spot, and then, as a
new idea took form in his brain, he blurted out: "You mean it went _through
"Is there any other way?"
The old man laid a perplexed forefinger along his illuminated nose. "But
there is no hole--through the wall," he muttered.
"There is either a hole or a miracle. And between the two, I conclude that
there _is_ a hole which we haven't found yet."
"It might be back of that sideboard," ventured the other doubtfully.
But M. Paul disagreed. "No man as clever as this fellow would have moved a
heavy piece covered with plates and glasses. Besides, if the sideboard had
been moved, there would be marks on the floor and there are none. Now you
understand why I'm interested in that Japanese print."
Tignol sprang to his feet, then checked himself with a half-ashamed smile.
"You're mocking me, you've looked behind the picture."
Coquenil shook his head solemnly. "On my honor, I have not been near the
picture, I know nothing about the picture, but unless there is some flaw in
"I'll give my tongue to the cats to eat!" burst out the other, "if ever I
saw a man lie on a sofa and blow blue circles in the air and spin pretty
theories about what is back of a picture when----"
"When all he had to do for proof was to reach over and--and lift the darn
thing off its nail."
Coquenil smiled. "I've thought of that," he drawled, "but I like the
suspense. Half the charm of life is in suspense, Papa Tignol. However, you
have a practical mind, so go ahead, lift it off."
The old man did not wait for a second bidding, he stepped forward quickly
and took down the picture.
"_Tonnere de Dieu!_" he cried. "It's true! There are _two_ holes."
Sure enough, against the white wall stood out not one but two black holes
about an inch in diameter and something less than three inches apart.
Around the left hole, which was close to the sideboard, were black dots
sprinkled over the painted woodwork like grains of pepper.
"Powder marks!" muttered Coquenil, examining the hole. "He fired at close
range as Martinez looked into this room from the other side. Poor chap!
That's how he was shot in the eye." And producing a magnifying glass, the
detective made a long and careful examination of the holes while Papa
Tignol watched him with unqualified disgust.
"Asses! Idiots! That's what we are," muttered the old man. "For half an
hour we were in that room, Gibelin and I, and we never found those holes."
"They were covered by the sofa hangings."
"I know, we shook those hangings, we pressed against them, we did
everything but look behind them. See here, did _you_ look behind them?"
"No, but I saw something on the floor that gave me an idea."
"Ah, what was that?"
"Some yellowish dust. I picked up a little of it. There." He unfolded a
paper and showed a few grains of coarse brownish powder. "You see there are
only board partitions between these rooms, the boards are about an inch
thick, so a sharp auger would make the holes quickly. But there would be
dust and chips."
"Well, this is some of the dust. The woman probably threw the chips out of
Coquenil nodded. "She helped Martinez while he bored the holes."
Tignol listened in amazement. "You think Martinez bored those holes? The
man who was murdered?"
"Undoubtedly. The spirals from the auger blade inside the holes show
plainly that the boring was done _from_ Number Six _toward_ Number Seven.
Take the glass and see for yourself."
Tignol took the glass and studied the hole. Then he turned, shaking his
head. "You're a fine detective, M. Paul, but I was a carpenter for six
years before I went on the force and I know more about auger holes than you
do. I say you can't be sure which side of the wall this hole was bored
from. You talk about spirals, but there's no sense in that. They're the
same either way. You _might_ tell by the chipping, but this is hard wood
covered with thick enamel, so there's apt to be no chipping. Anyhow,
there's none here. We'll see on the other side."
"All right, we'll see," consented Coquenil, and they went around into
The old man drew back the sofa hangings and exposed two holes exactly like
the others--in fact, the same holes. "You see," he went on, "the edges are
clean, without a sign of chipping. There is no more reason to say that
these holes were bored this side than from that."
M. Paul made no reply, but going to the sofa he knelt down by it, and using
his glass, proceeded to go over its surface with infinite care.
"Turn up all the lights," he said. "That's better," and he continued his
search. "Ah!" he cried presently. "You think there is no reason to say the
holes were bored from this side. I'll give you a reason. Take this piece of
white paper and make me prints of his boot heels." He pointed to the body.
"Take the whole heel carefully, then the other one, get the nail marks,
everything. That's right. Now cut out the prints. Good! Now look here.
Kneel down. Take the glass. There on the yellow satin, by the tail of that
silver bird. Do you see? Now compare the heel prints."
Papa Tignol knelt down as directed and examined the sofa seat, which was
covered with a piece of Chinese embroidery.
"_Sapristi!_ You're a magician!" he cried in great excitement.
"No," replied Coquenil, "it's perfectly simple. These holes in the wall are
five feet above the floor. And I'm enough of a carpenter, Papa Tignol," he
smiled, "to know that a man cannot work an auger at that height without
standing on something. And here was the very thing for him to stand on, a
sofa just in place. So, _if_ Martinez bored these holes, he stood on this
sofa to do it, and, in that case, the marks of his heels must have remained
on the delicate satin. And here they are."
"Yes, here they are, nails and all," admitted Tignol admiringly. "I'm an
old fool, but--but----"
"Tell me _why Martinez did it_."
Coquenil's face darkened. "Ah, that's the question. We'll know that when we
talk to the woman."
The old man leaned forward eagerly: "_Why do you think the woman helped
"_Somebody_ helped him or the chips would still be there, _somebody_ held
back those hangings while he worked the auger, and somebody carried the
Tignol pondered this, a moment, then, his face brightening: "Hah! I see!
The sofa hangings were held back when the shot came, then they fell into
place and covered the holes?"
"That's it," replied the detective absently.
"And the man in Number Seven, the murderer, lifted that picture from its
nail before shooting and then put it back on the nail after shooting?"
"Yes, yes," agreed M. Paul. Already he was far away on a new line of
thought, while the other was still grappling with his first surprise.
"Then this murderer must have _known_ that the billiard player was going to
bore these holes," went on Papa Tignol half to himself. "He must have been
waiting in Number Seven, he must have stood there with his pistol ready
while the holes were coming through, he must have let Martinez finish one
hole and then bore the other, he must have kept Number Seven dark so they
couldn't see him----"
"A good point, that," approved Coquenil, paying attention. "He certainly
kept Number Seven dark."
"And he _probably_ looked into Number Six through the first hole while
Martinez was boring the second. I suppose _you_ can tell which of the two
holes was bored first?" chuckled Tignol.
M. Paul started, paused in a flash of thought, and then, with sudden
eagerness: "I see, _that's it!_"
"What's it?" gasped the other.
"He bored _this_ hole first," said Coquenil rapidly, "it's the right-hand
one when you're in this room, the left-hand one when you're in Number
Seven. As you say, the murderer looked through the first hole while he
waited for the second to be bored; so, naturally, he fired through the hole
where his eye was. _That was his first great mistake_."
Tignol screwed up his face in perplexity. "What difference does it make
which hole the man fired through so long as he shot straight and got away?"
"What difference? Just this difference, that, by firing through the
left-hand hole, he has given us precious evidence, against him."
"Come back into the other room and I'll show you." And, when they had
returned to Number Seven, he continued: "Take the pistol. Pretend you are
the murderer. You've been waiting your moment, holding your breath on one
side of the wall while the auger grinds through from the other. The first
hole is finished. You see the point of the auger as it comes through the
second, now the wood breaks and a length of turning steel shoves toward
you. You grip your pistol and look through the left-hand hole, you see the
woman holding back the curtains, you see Martinez draw out the auger from
the right-hand hole and lay it down. Now he leans forward, pressing his
face to the completed eyeholes, you see the whites of his eyes, not three
inches away. Quick! Pistol up! Ready to fire! No, no, through the
_left-hand_ hole where _he_ fired."
"_Sacre matin!_" muttered Tignol, "it's awkward aiming through this
"Ah!" said the detective. "_Why_ is it awkward?"
"Because it's too near the sideboard. I can't get my eye there to sight
along the pistol barrel."
"You mean your right eye?"
"Could you get your left eye there?"
"Yes, but if I aimed with my left eye I'd have to fire with my left hand
and I couldn't hit a cow that way."
Coquenil looked at Tignol steadily. "_You could if you were a left-handed
"You mean to say--" The other stared.
"I mean to say that _this_ man, at a critical moment, fired through that
awkward hole near the sideboard when he might just as well have fired
through the other hole away from the sideboard. Which shows that it was an
easy and natural thing for him to do, consequently----"
"Consequently," exulted the old man, "we've got to look for a left-handed
murderer, is that it?"
"What do _you_ think?" smiled the detective.
Papa Tignol paused, and then, bobbing his head in comical seriousness: "I
think, if I were this man, I'd sooner have the devil after me than Paul
COQUENIL MARKS HIS MAN
It was nearly four o'clock when Coquenil left the Ansonia and started up
the Champs Elysees, breathing deep of the early morning air. The night was
still dark, although day was breaking in the east. And what a night it had
been! How much had happened since he walked with his dog to Notre-Dame the
evening before! Here was the whole course of his life changed, yes, and his
prospects put in jeopardy by this extraordinary decision. How could he
explain what he had done to his wise old mother? How could he unsay all
that he had said to her a few days before when he had shown her that this
trip to Brazil was quite for the best and bade her a fond farewell? Could
he explain it to anyone, even to himself? Did he honestly believe all the
plausible things he had said to Pougeot and the others about this crime?
Was it really the wonderful affair he had made out? After all, what had he
acted on? A girl's dream and an odd coincidence. Was that enough? Was that
enough to make a man alter his whole life and face extraordinary danger?
_Was it enough?_
Extraordinary danger! _Why_ did this sense of imminent peril haunt him and
fascinate him? What was there in this crime that made it different from
many other crimes on which he had been engaged? Those holes through the
wall? Well, yes, he had never seen anything quite like that. And the
billiard player's motive in boring the holes and the woman's role and the
intricacy and ingenuity of the murderer's plan--all these offered an
extraordinary problem. And it certainly was strange that this
candle-selling girl with the dreams and the purplish eyes had appeared
again as the suspected American's sweetheart! He had heard this from Papa
Tignol, and how Alice had stood ready to brave everything for her lover
when Gibelin marched him off to prison. Poor Gibelin!
So Coquenil's thoughts ran along as he neared the Place de l'Etoile. Well,
it was too late to draw back. He had made his decision and he must abide by
it, his commission was signed, his duty lay before him. By nine o'clock he
must be at the Palais de Justice to report to Hauteville. No use going
home. Better have a rubdown and a cold plunge at the _haman_, then a turn
on the mat with the professional wrestler, and then a few hours sleep. That
would put him in shape for the day's work with its main business of running
down this woman in the case, this lady of the cloak and leather bag, whose
name and address he fortunately had. Ah, he looked forward to his interview
with her! And he must prepare for it!
Coquenil was just glancing about for a cab to the Turkish bath place, in
fact he was signaling one that he saw jogging up the Avenue de la Grande
Armee, when he became aware that a gentleman was approaching him with the
intention of speaking. Turning quickly, he saw in the uncertain light a man
of medium height with a dark beard tinged with gray, wearing a loose black
cape overcoat and a silk hat. The stranger saluted politely and said with a
slight foreign accent: "How are you, M. Louis? I have been expecting you."
The words were simple enough, yet they contained a double surprise for
Coquenil. He was at a loss to understand how he could have been expected
here where he had come by the merest accident, and, certainly, this was the
first time in twenty years that anyone, except his mother, had addressed
him as Louis. He had been christened Louis Paul, but long ago he had
dropped the former name, and his most intimate friends knew him only as
"How do you know that my name is Louis?" answered the detective with a
"I know a great deal about you," answered the other, and then with
significant emphasis: "_I know that you are interested in dreams_. May I
walk along with you?"
"You may," said Coquenil, and at once his keen mind was absorbed in this
new problem. Instinctively he felt that something momentous was preparing.
"Rather clever, your getting on that cab to-night," remarked the other.
"Ah, you know about that?"
"Yes, and about the Rio Janeiro offer. We want you to reconsider your
decision." His voice was harsh and he spoke in a quick, brusque way, as one
accustomed to the exercise of large authority.
"Who, pray, are 'we'?" asked the detective.
"Certain persons interested in this Ansonia affair."
"Persons whom you represent?"
"In a way."
"Persons who know about the crime--I mean, who know the truth about it?"
"Hm! Do these persons know what covered the holes in Number Seven?"
"A Japanese print."
"And in Number Six?"
"Some yellow hangings."
"Ah!" exclaimed Coquenil in surprise. "Do they know why Martinez bored
"To please the woman," was the prompt reply.
"Did she want Martinez killed?"
"Then why did she want the holes bored?"
"_She wanted to see into Number Seven_."
It was extraordinary, not only the man's knowledge but his unaccountable
frankness. And more than ever the detective was on his guard.
"I see you know something about the affair," he said dryly. "What do you
want with me?"
"The persons I represent----"
"Say the _person_ you represent," interrupted Coquenil. "A criminal of this
type acts alone."
"As you like," answered the other carelessly. "Then the person I represent
_wishes you to withdraw from this case_."
The message was preposterous, the manner of its delivery fantastic, yet
there was something vaguely formidable in the stranger's tone, as if a
great person had spoken, one absolutely sure of himself and of his power to
"Naturally," retorted Coquenil.
"Why do you say naturally?"
"It's natural for a criminal to wish that an effort against him should
cease. Tell your friend or employer that I am only mildly interested in his
He spoke with deliberate hostility, but the dark-bearded man answered,
quite unruffled: "Ah, I may be able to heighten your interest."
"Come, come, sir, my time is valuable."
The stranger drew from his coat pocket a large thick envelope fastened
with an elastic band and handed it to the detective. "Whatever your time is
worth," he said in a rasping voice, "I will pay for it. Please look at
Coquenil's curiosity was stirred. Here was no commonplace encounter, at
least it was a departure from ordinary criminal methods. Who was this
supercilious man? How dared he come on such an errand to him, Paul
Coquenil? What desperate purpose lurked behind his self-confident mask?
Could it be that he knew the assassin or--or _was he the assassin?_
Wondering thus, M. Paul opened the tendered envelope and saw that it
contained a bundle of thousand-franc notes.
"There is a large sum here," he remarked.
"Fifty thousand francs. It's for you, and as much more will be handed you
the day you sail for Brazil. Just a moment--let me finish. This sum is a
bonus in addition to the salary already fixed. And, remember, you have a
life position there with a brilliant chance of fame. That is what you care
about, I take it--fame; it is for fame you want to follow up this crime."
Coquenil snapped his fingers. "I don't care _that_ for fame. I'm going to
work out this case for the sheer joy of doing it."
"You will _never_ work out this case!" The man spoke so sternly and with
such a menacing ring in his voice that M. Paul felt a chill of
"Why not?" he asked.
"Because you will not be allowed to; it's doubtful if you _could_ work it
out, but there's a chance that you could and we don't purpose to take that
chance. You're a free agent, you can persist in this course, but if you
He paused as if to check too vehement an utterance, and M. Paul caught a
threatening gleam in his eyes that he long remembered.
"If you do, you will be thwarted at every turn, you will be made to suffer
in ways you do not dream of, through those who are dear to you, through
your dog, through your mother----"
"You dare--" cried Coquenil.
"We dare _anything_," flashed the stranger. "I'm daring something now, am I
not? Don't you suppose I know what you are thinking? Well, I take the risk
because--_because you are intelligent_."
There was something almost captivating in the very arrogance and
recklessness of this audacious stranger. Never in all his experience had
Coquenil known a criminal or a person directly associated with crime, as
this man must be, to boldly confront the powers of justice. Undoubtedly,
the fellow realized his danger, yet he deliberately faced it. What plan
could he have for getting away once his message was delivered? It must be
practically delivered already, there was nothing more to say, he had
offered a bribe and made a threat. A few words now for the answer, the
refusal, the defiance, and--then what? Surely this brusque individual did
not imagine that he, Coquenil, would be simple enough to let him go now
that he had him in his power? But wait! Was that true, _was_ this man in
As if answering the thought, the stranger said: "It is hopeless for you to
struggle against our knowledge and our resources, quite hopeless. We have,
for example, the _fullest_ information about you and your life down to the
"Yes?" answered Coquenil, and a twinkle of humor shone in his eyes. "What's
the name of my old servant?"
"What's the name of the canary bird I gave her last week?"
"It isn't a canary bird, it's a bullfinch. And its name is Pete."
"Not bad, not at all bad," muttered the other, and the twinkle in his eyes
"We know the important things, too, all that concerns you, from your
_forced resignation_ two years ago down to your talk yesterday with the
girl at Notre-Dame. So how can you fight us? How can you shadow people who
shadow you? Who watch your actions from day to day, from hour to hour? Who
know _exactly_ the moment when you are weak and unprepared, as I know now
that you are unarmed _because you left that pistol with Papa Tignol_."
For a moment Coquenil was silent, and then: "Here's your money," he said,
returning the envelope.
"Then you refuse?"
"Stubborn fellow! And unbelieving! You doubt our power against you. Come, I
will give you a glimpse of it, just the briefest glimpse. Suppose you try
to arrest me. You have been thinking of it, _now act_. I'm a suspicious
character, I ought to be investigated. Well, do your duty. I might point
out that such an arrest would accomplish absolutely nothing, for you
haven't the slightest evidence against me and can get none, but I waive
that point because I want to show you that, even in so simple an effort
against us as this, _you would inevitably fail_."
The man's impudence was passing all bounds. "You mean that I _cannot_
arrest you?" menaced Coquenil.
"Precisely. I mean that with all your cleverness and with a distinct
advantage in position, here on the Champs Elysees with policemen all about
us, _you cannot arrest me_."
"We'll see about that," answered M. Paul, a grim purpose showing in his
"I say this in no spirit of bravado," continued the other with irritating
insolence, "but so that you may remember my words and this warning when I
am gone." Then, with a final fling of defiance: "This is the first time you
have seen me, M. Coquenil, and you will probably never see me again, but
you will hear from me. _Now blow your whistle!_"
Coquenil was puzzled. If this was a bluff, it was the maddest, most
incomprehensible bluff that a criminal ever made. But if it was _not_ a
bluff? Could there be a hidden purpose here? Was the man deliberately
making some subtle move in the game he was playing? The detective paused to
think. They had come down the Champs Elysees, past the Ansonia, and were
nearing the Rond Point, the best guarded part of Paris, where the shrill
summons of his police call would be answered almost instantly. And yet he
"There is no hurry, I suppose," said the detective. "I'd like to ask a
question or two."
"As many as you please."
With all the strength of his mind and memory Coquenil was studying his
adversary. That beard? Could it be false? And the swarthy tone of the skin
which he noticed now in the improving light, was that natural? If not
natural, then wonderfully imitated. And the hands, the arms? He had watched
these from the first, noting every movement, particularly the _left_ hand
and the _left_ arm, but he had detected nothing significant; the man used
his hands like anyone else, he carried a cane in the right hand, lifted his
hat with the right hand, offered the envelope with the right hand. There
was nothing to show that he was not a right-handed man.
"I wonder if you have anything against me personally?" inquired M. Paul.
"On the contrary," declared the other, "we admire you and wish you well."
"But you threaten my dog?"
"If necessary, yes."
"And my mother?"
The decisive moment had come, not only because Coquenil's anger was stirred
by this cynical avowal, but because just then there shot around the corner
from the Avenue Montaigne a large red automobile which crossed the Champs
Elysees slowly, past the fountain and the tulip beds, and, turning into the
Avenue Gabrielle, stopped under the chestnut trees, its engines throbbing.
Like a flash it came into the detective's mind that the same automobile had
passed them once before some streets back. Ah, here was the intended way of
escape! On the front seat were two men, strong-looking fellows,
accomplices, no doubt. He must act at once while the wide street was still
"I ask because--" began M. Paul with his indifferent drawl, then swiftly
drawing his whistle, he sounded a danger call that cut the air in sinister
alarm. The stranger sprang away, but Coquenil was on him in a bound,
clutching him by the throat and pressing him back with intertwining legs
for a sudden fall. The bearded man saved himself by a quick turn, and with
a great heave of his shoulders broke the detective's grip, then suddenly
_he_ attacked, smiting for the neck, not with clenched fist but with the
open hand held sideways in the treacherous cleaving blow that the Japanese
use when they strike for the carotid. Coquenil ducked forward, saving
himself, but he felt the descending hand hard as stone on his shoulders.
"He struck with his _right_," thought M. Paul.
At the same moment he felt his adversary's hand close on his throat and
rejoiced, for he knew the deadly Jitsu reply to this. Hardening his neck
muscles until they covered the delicate parts beneath like bands of steel,
the detective seized his enemy's extended arm in his two hands, one at the
wrist, one at the elbow, and as his trained fingers sought the painful
pressure points, his two free arms started a resistless torsion movement on
the captured arm. There is no escape from this movement, no enduring its
excruciating pain; to a man taken at such a disadvantage one of two things
may happen. He may yield, and in that case he is hurled helpless over his
adversary's shoulder, or he may resist, with the result that the tendons
are torn from his lacerated arm and he faints in agony.
Such was the master hold gained by M. Paul in the first minute of the
struggle; long and carefully he had practiced this coup with a wrestling
professional. It never failed, it could not fail, and, in savage triumph,
he prolonged his victory, slowly increasing the pressure, slowly as he felt
the tendons stretching, the bones cracking in this helpless right arm. A
few seconds more and the end would come, a few seconds more and--then a
crashing, shattering pain drove through Coquenil's lower heart region, his
arms relaxed, his hands relaxed, his senses dimmed, and he sank weakly to
the ground. His enemy had done an extraordinary thing, had delivered a
blow not provided for in Jitsu tactics. In spite of the torsion torture,
he had swung his free arm under the detective's lifted guard, not in
Yokohama style but in the best manner of the old English prize ring, his
clenched fist falling full on the point of the heart, full on the unguarded
solar-plexus nerves which God put there for the undoing of the vainglorious
fighters. And Coquenil dropped like a smitten ox with this thought humming
in his darkening brain: "_It was the left that spoke then_."
[Illustration: "He prolonged his victory, slowly increasing the pressure."]
As he sank to the ground M. Paul tried to save himself, and seizing his
opponent by the leg, he held him desperately with his failing strength; but
the spasms of pain overcame him, his muscles would not act, and with a
furious sense of helplessness and failure, he felt the clutched leg
slipping from his grasp. Then, as consciousness faded, the brute instinct
in him rallied in a last fierce effort and _he bit the man deeply under the
When Coquenil came to himself he was lying on the ground and several
policemen were bending over him. He lifted his head weakly and looked about
him. The stranger was gone. The automobile was gone. And it all came back
to him in sickening memory, the flaunting challenge of this man, the fierce
struggle, his own overconfidence, and then his crushing defeat. Ah, what a
blow that last one was with the conquering left!
And suddenly it flashed through his mind that he had been outwitted from
the first, that the man's purpose had not been at all what it seemed to be,
that a hand-to-hand conflict was precisely what the stranger had sought and
planned for, because--_because_--In feverish haste Coquenil felt in his
breast pocket for the envelope with the precious leather fragments. It was
not there. Then quickly he searched his other pockets. It was not there.
_The envelope containing the woman's name and address was gone_.
GIBELIN SCORES A POINT
The next day all Paris buzzed and wondered about this Ansonia affair, as it
was called. The newspapers printed long accounts of it with elaborate
details, and various conjectures were made as to the disappearance of
Martinez's fair companion. More or less plausible theories were also put
forth touching the arrested American, prudently referred to as "Monsieur
K., a well-known New Yorker." It was furthermore dwelt upon as significant
that the famous detective, Paul Coquenil, had returned to his old place on
the force for the especial purpose of working on this case. And M. Coquenil
was reported to have already, by one of his brilliant strokes, secured a
clew that would lead shortly to important revelations. Alas, no one knew
under what distressing circumstances this precious clew had been lost!
Shortly before nine by the white clock over the columned entrance to the
Palais de Justice, M. Paul passed through the great iron and gilt barrier
that fronts the street and turning to the left, mounted the wide stone
stairway. He had had his snatch of sleep at the _haman_, his rubdown and
cold plunge, but not his intended bout with the wrestling professional. He
had had wrestling enough for one day, and now he had come to keep his
appointment with Judge Hauteville.
Two flights up the detective found himself in a spacious corridor off which
opened seven doors leading to the offices of seven judges. Seven! Strange
this resemblance to the fatal corridor at the Ansonia! And stranger still
that Judge Hauteville's office should be Number Six!
Coquenil moved on past palace guards in bright apparel, past sad-faced
witnesses and brisk lawyers of the court in black robes with amusing white
bibs at their throats. And presently he entered Judge Hauteville's private
room, where an amiable _greffier_ asked him to sit down until the judge
There was nothing in the plain and rather businesslike furnishings of this
room to suggest the somber and sordid scenes daily enacted here. On the
dull leather of a long table, covered with its usual litter of papers, had
been spread the criminal facts of a generation, the sinister harvest of
ignorance and vice and poverty. On these battered chairs had sat and
twisted hundreds of poor wretches, innocent and guilty, petty thieves,
shifty-eyed scoundrels, dull brutes of murderers, and occasionally a
criminal of a higher class, summoned for the preliminary examinations.
Here, under the eye of a bored guard, they had passed miserable hours while
the judge, smiling or frowning, hands in his pockets, strode back and forth
over the shabby red-and-green carpet putting endless questions, sifting out