Part 3 out of 7
truth from falsehood, struggling against stupidity and cunning, studying
each new case as a separate problem with infinite tact and insight, never
wearying, never losing his temper, coming back again and again to the
essential point until more than one stubborn criminal had broken down and,
from sheer exhaustion, confessed, like the assassin who finally blurted
out: "Well, yes, I did it. I'd rather be guillotined than bothered like
Such was Judge Hauteville, cold, patient, inexorable in the pursuit of
truth. And presently he arrived.
"You look serious this morning," he said, remarking Coquenil's pale face.
"Yes," nodded M. Paul, "that's how I feel," and settling himself in a chair
he proceeded to relate the events of the night, ending with a frank account
of his misadventure on the Champs Elysees.
The judge listened with grave attention. This was a more serious affair
than he had imagined. Not only was there no longer any question of suicide,
but it was obvious that they were dealing with a criminal of the most
dangerous type and one possessed of extraordinary resources.
"You believe it was the assassin himself who met you?" questioned
"I'm not sure. You think his motive was to get the woman's address?"
"Isn't that reasonable?"
Hauteville shook his head. "He wouldn't have risked so much for that. How
did he know that you hadn't copied the name and given it to one of us--say
"Ah, if I only had," sighed the detective.
"How did he know that you wouldn't remember the name? Can't you remember
"That's what I've been trying to do," replied the other gloomily, "I've
tried and tried, but the name won't come back. I put those pieces together
and read the words distinctly, the name and the address. It was a foreign
name, English I should say, and the street was an avenue near the Champs
Elysees, the Avenue d'Eylau, or the Avenue d'Iena, I cannot be sure. I
didn't fix the thing in my mind because I had it in my pocket, and in the
work of the night it faded away."
"A great pity! Still, this man could neither have known that nor guessed
it. He took the address from you on a chance, but his chief purpose must
have been to impress you with his knowledge and his power."
Coquenil stared at his brown seal ring and then muttered savagely: "How did
he know the name of that infernal canary bird?"
The judge smiled. "He has established some very complete system of
surveillance that we must try to circumvent. For the moment we had better
decide upon immediate steps."
With this they turned to a fresh consideration of the case. Already the
machinery of justice had begun to move. Martinez's body and the weapon had
been taken to the morgue for an autopsy, the man's jewelry and money were
in the hands of the judge, and photographs of the scene of the tragedy
would be ready shortly as well as plaster impressions of the alleyway
footprints. An hour before, as arranged the previous night, Papa Tignol had
started out to search for Kittredge's lodgings, since the American, when
questioned by Gibelin at the prison, had obstinately refused to tell where
he lived and an examination of his quarters was a matter of immediate
It was not Papa Tignol, however, who was to furnish this information, but
the discomfited Gibelin whose presence in the outer office was at this
moment announced by the judge's clerk.
"Ask him to come in," said Hauteville, and a moment later Coquenil's fat,
red-haired rival entered with a smile that made his short mustache fairly
bristle in triumph.
"Ah, you have news for us!" exclaimed the judge.
Gibelin beamed. "I haven't wasted my time," he nodded. Then, with a
sarcastic glance at Coquenil: "The old school has its good points, after
"No doubt," agreed Coquenil curtly.
"Although I am no longer in charge of this case," rasped the fat man, "I
suppose there is no objection to my rendering my distinguished associate,"
he bowed mockingly to M. Paul, "such assistance as is in my power."
"Of course not," replied Hauteville.
"I happened to hear that this American has a room on the Rue Racine and I
just looked in there."
"Ah!" said the judge, and Coquenil rubbed his glasses nervously. There is
no detective big-souled enough not to tingle with resentment when he finds
that a rival has scored a point.
"Our friend lives at the Hotel des Etrangers, near the corner of the
Boulevard St. Michel," went on Gibelin. "I _happened_ to be talking with
the man who sent out the banquet invitations and he told me. M. Kittredge
has a little room with a brick floor up six flights. And long! And black!"
He rubbed his knees ruefully. "But it was worth the trouble. Ah, yes!" His
small eyes brightened.
"You examined his things?"
"_Pour sur!_ I spent an hour there. And talked the soul out of the
chambermaid. A good-looking wench! And a sharp one!" he chuckled. "_She_
knows the value of a ten-franc piece!"
"Well, well," broke in M. Paul, "what did you discover?"
[Illustration: "Gibelin beamed. 'The old school has its good points, after
Gibelin lifted his pudgy hands deprecatingly. "For one thing I discovered a
photograph of the woman who was in Number Six with Martinez."
"The devil!" cried Coquenil.
"It is not of much importance, since already you have the woman's name and
address." He shot a keen glance at his rival.
M. Paul was silent. What humiliation was this! No doubt Gibelin had heard
the truth and was gloating over it!
"How do you know it is the woman's photograph?" questioned the judge.
"I'll tell you," replied Gibelin, delighted with his sensation. "It's quite
a story. I suppose you know that when this woman slipped out of the
Ansonia, she drove directly to the house where we arrested the American.
You knew that?" He turned to Coquenil.
"Well, I _happened_ to speak to the _concierge_ there and she remembers
perfectly a lady in an evening gown with a rain coat over it like the one
this woman escaped in. This lady sent a note by the _concierge_ up to the
apartment of that she-dragon, the sacristan's wife, where M. Kittredge was
calling on Alice."
"Ah! What time was that?"
"About a quarter to ten. The note was for M. Kittredge. It must have been a
_wild_ one, for he hurried down, white as a sheet, and drove off with the
lady. Fifteen minutes later they stopped at his hotel and he went up to his
room, two steps, at a time, while she waited in the cab. And Jean, the
_garcon_, had a good look at her and he told Rose, the chambermaid, and
_she_ had a look and recognized her as the woman whose photograph she had
often seen in the American's room."
"Ah, that's lucky!" rejoined the judge. "And you have this photograph?"
"You said you found it?" put in Coquenil.
"I did, that is, I found a piece of it, a corner that wasn't burned."
"Burned?" cried the others.
"Yes," said Gibelin, "that's what Kittredge went upstairs for, to burn the
photograph and a lot of letters--_her_ letters, probably. The fireplace was
full of fresh ashes. Rose says it was clean before he went up, so I picked
out the best fragments--here they are." He drew a small package from his
pocket, and opening it carefully, showed a number of charred or half-burned
pieces of paper on which words in a woman's handwriting could be plainly
"More fragments!" muttered Coquenil, examining them. "It's in English. Ah,
is this part of the photograph?" He picked out a piece of cardboard.
"Yes. You see the photographer's name is on it."
"Watts, Regent Street, London," deciphered the detective. "That is
something." And, turning to the judge: "Wouldn't it be a good idea to send
a man to London with this? You can make out part of a lace skirt and the
tip of a slipper. It might be enough."
"That's true," agreed Hauteville.
"Whoever goes," continued Coquenil, "had better carry him the five-pound
notes found on Martinez and see if he can trace them through the Bank of
England. They often take the names of persons to whom their notes are
"Excellent. I'll see to it at once," and, ringing for his secretary, the
judge gave orders to this effect.
To all of which Gibelin listened with a mocking smile. "But why so much
trouble," he asked, "when you have the woman's name and address already?"
"I _had_ them and I--I lost them," acknowledged M. Paul, and in a few
words he explained what had happened.
"Oh," sneered the other, "I thought you were a skillful wrestler."
"Come back to the point," put in Hauteville. "Had the chambermaid ever seen
this lady before?"
"Yes, but not recently. It seems that Kittredge moved to the Hotel des
Etrangers about seven months ago, and soon after that the lady came to see
him. Rose says she came three times."
"Did she go to Kittredge's room?" put in Coquenil.
"Can the chambermaid describe her?" continued the judge.
"She says the lady was young and good-looking--that's about all she
"Hm! Have you anything else to report?"
Gibelin chuckled harshly. "I have kept the most important thing for the
last. I'm afraid it will annoy my distinguished colleague even more than
the loss of the leather fragments."
"Don't waste your sympathy," retorted Coquenil.
Gibelin gave a little snort of defiance. "I certainly won't. I only mean
that your debut in this case hasn't been exactly--ha, ha!--well, not
"Here, here!" reproved the judge. "Let us have the facts."
"Well," continued the red-haired man, "I have found the owner of the pistol
that killed Martinez."
Coquenil started. "The owner of the pistol we found in the courtyard?"
"Precisely. I should tell you, also, that the balls from that pistol are
identical with the ball extracted from the body. The autopsy proves it, so
Dr. Joubert says. And this pistol belongs in a leather holster that I
found in Mr. Kittredge's room. Dr. Joubert let me take the pistol for
verification and--there, you can see for yourselves."
With this he produced the holster and the pistol and laid them before the
judge. There was no doubt about it, the two objects belonged together.
Various worn places corresponded and the weapon fitted in its case.
"Besides," continued Gibelin, "the chambermaid identifies this pistol as
the property of the American. He always kept it in a certain drawer, she
noticed it there a few days ago, but yesterday it was gone and the holster
"It looks bad," muttered the judge.
"It _looks_ bad, but it's too easy, it's too simple," answered M. Paul.
"In the old school," sneered Gibelin, "we are not always trying to solve
problems in _difficult_ ways. We don't reject a solution merely because
it's easy--if the truth lies straight before our nose, why, we see it."
"My dear sir," retorted Coquenil angrily, "if what you think the truth
turns out to be the truth, then you ought to be in charge of this case and
I'm a fool."
"Granted," smiled the other.
"Come, come, gentlemen," interrupted the judge. Then abruptly to Gibelin:
"Did you see about his boots?"
"No, I thought you would send to the prison and get the pair he wore last
"How do you know he didn't change his boots when he burned the letters? Go
back to his hotel and see if they noticed a muddy pair in his room this
morning. Bring me whatever boots of his you find. Also stop at the depot
and get the pair he had on when arrested. Be quick!"
"I will," answered Gibelin, and he went out, pausing at the door to salute
M. Paul mockingly.
"Ill-tempered brute!" said Hauteville. "I will see that he has nothing more
to do with this case." Then he touched an electric bell.
"That American, Kittredge, who was arrested last night?" he said to the
clerk. "Was he put in a cell?"
"No, sir, he's in with the other prisoners."
"Ah! Have him brought over here in about an hour for the preliminary
examination. Make out his commitment papers for the Sante. He is to be _au
"Yes, sir." The clerk bowed and withdrew.
"You really think this young man innocent, do you?" remarked the judge to
"It's easier to think him innocent than guilty," answered the detective.
"If he is guilty we must grant him an extraordinary double personality. The
amiable lover becomes a desperate criminal able to conceive and carry out
the most intricate murder of our time. I don't believe it. If he is guilty
he must have had the key to that alleyway door. How did he get it? He must
have known, that the 'tall blonde' who had engaged Number Seven would not
occupy it. How did he know that? And he must have relations with the man
who met me on the Champs Elysees. How could that be? Remember, he's a poor
devil of a foreigner living in a Latin-Quarter attic. The thing isn't
"But the pistol?"
"The pistol may not really be his. Gibelin's whole story needs looking
The judge nodded. "Of course. I leave that to you. Still, I shall feel
better satisfied when we have compared the soles of his boots with the
plaster casts of those alleyway footprints."
"So shall I," said Coquenil. "Suppose I see the workman who is finishing
the casts?" he suggested; "it won't take long, and perhaps I can bring them
back with me."
"Excellent," approved Hauteville, and he bowed with grave friendliness as
the detective left the room.
Then, for nearly an hour, the judge buried himself in the details of this
case, turning his trained mind, with absorbed concentration, upon the
papers at hand, reviewing the evidence, comparing the various reports and
opinions, and, in the light of clear reason, searching for a plausible
theory of the crime. He also began notes of questions that he wished to ask
Kittredge, and was deep in these when the clerk entered to inform him that
Coquenil and Gibelin had returned.
"Let them come in at once," directed Hauteville, and presently the two
detectives were again before him.
"Well?" he inquired with a quick glance.
Coquenil was silent, but Gibelin replied exultingly: "We have found a pair
of Kittredge's boots that absolutely correspond with the plaster casts of
the alleyway footprints; everything is identical, the shape of the sole,
the nails in the heel, the worn places--everything."
The judge turned to Coquenil. "Is this true?"
M. Paul nodded. "It seems to be true."
There was a moment of tense silence and then Hauteville said in measured
tones: "It makes a _strong_ chain now. What do you think?"
Coquenil hesitated, and then with a frown of perplexity and exasperation he
snapped out: "I--I haven't had time to think yet."
THE TOWERS OF NOTRE-DAME
It was a distressed and sleepless night that Alice passed after the
torturing scene of her lover's arrest. She would almost have preferred her
haunting dreams to this pitiful reality. What had Lloyd done? Why had this
woman come for him? And what would happen now? Again and again, as
weariness brought slumber, the sickening fact stirred her to
wakefulness--they had taken Kittredge away to prison charged with an
abominable crime. And she loved him, she loved him now more than ever, she
was absolutely his, as she never would have been if this trouble had not
come. Ah, there was her only ray of comfort that just at the last she had
made him happy. She would never forget his look of gratitude as she cried
out her love and her trust in his innocence and--yes, she had kissed him,
her Lloyd, before those rough men; she had kissed him, and even in the
darkness of her chamber her cheeks flamed at the thought.
Soon after five she rose and dressed. This was Sunday, her busiest day, she
must be in Notre-Dame for the early masses. There was a worn place in a
chasuble that needed some touches of her needle; Father Anselm had asked
her to see to it. And this duty done, there was the special Sunday sale of
candles and rosaries and little red guidebooks of the church to keep her
Alice was in the midst of all this when, shortly before ten, Mother
Bonneton approached, cringing at the side of a visitor, a lady of striking
beauty whose dress and general air proclaimed a lavish purse. In a first
glance Alice noticed her exquisite supple figure and her full red lips.
Also a delicate fragrance of violets.
"This lady wants you to show her the towers," explained the old crone with
a cunning wink at the girl. "I tell her it's hard for you to leave your
candles, especially now when people are coming in for high mass, but I can
take your place, and," with a servile smile, "madame is generous."
"Certainly," agreed the lady, "whatever you like, five francs, ten francs."
"Five francs is quite enough," replied Alice, to Mother Bonneton's great
disgust. "I love the towers on a day like this."
So they started up the winding stone stairs of the Northern tower, the lady
going first with lithe, nervous steps, although Alice counseled her not to
"It's a long way to the top," cautioned the girl, "three hundred and
But the lady pressed on as if she had some serious purpose before her,
round and round past an endless ascending surface of gloomy gray stone,
scarred everywhere with names and initials of foolish sightseers, past
narrow slips of fortress windows through the massive walls, round and round
in narrowing circles until finally, with sighs of relief, they came out
into the first gallery and stood looking down on Paris laughing under the
"Ouf!" panted the lady, "it _is_ a climb."
They were standing on the graceful stone passageway that joins the two
towers at the height of the bells and were looking to the west over the
columned balustrade, over the Place Notre-Dame, dotted with queer little
people, tinkling with bells of cab horses, clanging with gongs of yonder
trolley cars curving from the Pont Neuf past old Charlemagne astride of his
great bronze horse. Then on along the tree-lined river, on with widening
view of towers and domes until their eyes rested on the green spreading
_bois_ and the distant heights of Saint Cloud.
And straightway Alice began to point out familiar monuments, the spire of
the Sainte Chapelle, the square of the Louvre, the gilded dome of
Napoleon's tomb, the crumbling Tour Saint Jacques, disfigured now with
scaffolding for repairs, and the Sacre Cour, shining resplendent on the
To all of which the lady listened indifferently. She was plainly thinking
of something else, and, furtively, she was watching the girl.
"Tell me," she asked abruptly, "is your name Alice?"
"Yes," answered the other in surprise.
The lady hesitated. "I thought that was what the old woman called you."
Then, looking restlessly over the panorama: "Where is the _conciergerie?_"
Alice started at the word. Among all the points in Paris this was the one
toward which her thoughts were tending, the _conciergerie_, the grim prison
where her lover was!
"It is there," she replied, struggling with her emotion, "behind that
cupola of the Chamber of Commerce. Do you see those short pointed towers?
That is it."
"Is it still used as a prison?" continued the visitor with a strange
"Why, yes," stammered the girl, "I think so--that is, the depot is part of
the _conciergerie_ or just adjoins it."
"What is the depot?" questioned the other, eying Alice steadily.
The girl flushed. "Why do you ask me that? Why do you look at me so?"
The lady stepped closer, and speaking low: "Because I know who you are, I
know _why_ you are thinking about that prison."
Alice stared at her with widening eyes and heaving bosom. The woman's tone
was kind, her look almost appealing, yet the girl drew back, guided by an
instinct of danger.
"Who are you?" she demanded.
"Don't you _know_ who I am?" answered the other, and now her emotion broke
through the mask of calm. "I am the lady who--who called for M. Kittredge
"Oh!" burst out Alice scornfully. "A lady! You call yourself a _lady!_"
"Call me anything you like but----"
"I don't wish to speak to you; it's an outrage your coming here; I--I'm
going down." And she started for the stairs.
"Wait!" cried the visitor. "You _shall_ hear me. I have come to help the
man you love."
"The man _you_ love," blazed the girl. "The man whose life you have
"It's true I--I loved him," murmured the other.
"What _right_ had you to love him, you a married woman?"
The lady caught her breath with a little gasp and her hands shut tight.
"He told you that?"
[Illustration: "'I know _why_ you are thinking about that prison.'"]
"Yes, because he was forced to--the thing was known. Don't be afraid, he
didn't tell your name, he _never_ would tell it. But I know enough, I
know that you tortured him and--when he got free from you, after struggling
"Yes, starving. After all that, when he was just getting a little happy,
_you_ had to come again, and--and now he's _there_."
She looked fixedly at the prison, then with angry fires flashing in her
dark eyes: "I hate you, I _hate_ you," she cried.
In spite of her growing emotion the lady forced herself to speak calmly:
"Hate me if you will, but _hear_ me."
"No," went on Alice fiercely, "_you_ shall hear _me_. You have done this
wicked, shameless thing, and now you come to me, think of that, _to me!_
You must be mad. Anyhow, you are here and you shall tell me what I want to
"What do you want to know?" trembled the woman.
"I want to know, first, who you are. I want your name and address."
"Certainly; I am--er--Madam Marius, and I live at--er--6 Avenue Martignon."
"Ah! May I have one of your cards?"
"I--er--I'm afraid I have no card here," evaded the other, pretending to
search in a gold bag. Her face was very pale.
The girl made no reply, but walked quickly to a turn of the gallery.
"Valentine," she called.
"Yes," answered a voice.
"Ah, you are there. I may need you in a minute."
Then, returning, she said quietly: "Valentine is a friend of mine. She
sells postal cards up here. Unless you tell me the truth, I shall ask her
to go down and call the sacristan. Now then, _who are you?_"
"Don't ask who I am," pleaded the lady.
"I ask what I want to know."
"Anything but that!"
"Then you are _not_ Madam Marius?"
"You lied to me?"
"Valentine!" called Alice, and promptly a girl of about sixteen,
bare-headed, appeared at the end of the gallery. "Go down and ask Papa
Bonneton to come here at once. Say it's important. Hurry!"
With an understanding nod Valentine disappeared inside the tower and the
quick clatter of her wooden shoes echoed up from below.
"But--what will you tell him?" gasped the lady.
"I shall tell him you were concerned in that crime last night. I don't know
what it was, I haven't read the papers, but he has."
"Do you want to ruin me?" cried the woman; then, with a supplicating
gesture: "Spare me this shame; I will give you money, a large sum. See
here!" and, opening her gold bag, she drew out some folded notes. "I'll
give you a thousand francs--five thousand. Don't turn away! I'll give you
more--my jewels, my pearls, my rings. Look at them." She held out her
hands, flashing with precious stones.
Suddenly she felt the girl's eyes on her in utter scorn. "You are not even
intelligent," Alice flung back; "you were a fool to come here; now you are
stupid enough to think you can buy my silence. _Mon Dieu_, what a base
"Forgive me, I don't know what I am saying," begged the other. "Don't be
angry. Listen; you say I was a fool to come here, but it isn't true. I
realized my danger, I knew what I was risking, and yet I came, because I
_had_ to come. I felt I could trust you. I came in my desperation because
there was no other person in Paris I dared go to."
"Is that true?" asked the girl, more gently.
"Indeed it is," implored the lady, her eyes swimming with tears. "I beg
your pardon sincerely for offering you money. I know you are loyal and kind
and--I'm ashamed of myself. I have suffered so much since last night
that--as you say, I must be mad."
It was a strange picture--this brilliant beauty, forgetful of pride and
station, humbling herself to a poor candle seller. Alice looked at her in
"I don't understand yet why you came to me," she said.
"I want to make amends for the harm I have done, I want to save M.
Kittredge--not for myself. Don't think that! He has gone out of my life and
will never come into it again. I want to save him because it's right that I
should, because he has been accused of this crime through me and I know he
"Ah," murmured Alice joyfully, "you know he is innocent."
"Yes; and, if necessary, I will give evidence to clear him. I will tell
exactly what happened."
"What happened where?"
"In the room where this man was--was shot. Ugh!" She pressed her hands over
her eyes as if to drive away some horrid vision.
"You were--there?" asked the girl.
The woman nodded with a wild, frightened look. "Don't ask me about it.
There isn't time now and--I told _him_ everything."
"You mean Lloyd? You told Lloyd everything?"
"Yes, in the carriage. He realizes that I acted for the best, but--don't
you see, if I come forward now and tell the truth, I shall be disgraced,
"And if you don't come forward, Lloyd will remain in prison," flashed the
"You don't understand. There is no case against Lloyd. He is bound to be
released for want of evidence against him. I only ask you to be patient a
few days and let me help him without destroying myself."
"How can you help him unless you speak out?"
"I can help with money for a good lawyer. That is why I brought these bank
notes." Again she offered the notes. "You won't refuse them--for him?"
But Alice pushed the money from her. "A lawyer's efforts _might_ free him
in the future, your testimony will free him now."
"Then you will betray me?" demanded the woman fiercely.
"Betray?" answered the girl. "That's a fine-sounding word, but what does it
mean? I shall do the best I can for the man I love."
"Ha! The best you can! And what is that? To make him ashamed of you! To
make him suffer!"
"Why not? Don't you suppose he will suffer to find that you have no
sympathy with his wishes?"
"What do you mean?"
"You threaten to do the very thing that he went to prison to prevent.
You're going to denounce me, aren't you?"
"To save him--yes."
"When it isn't necessary, when it will cause a dreadful calamity. If he
wanted to be saved that way, wouldn't he denounce me himself? He knows my
name, he knows the whole story. Wouldn't he tell it himself if he wanted it
The girl hesitated, taken aback at this new view. "I suppose he thinks it a
matter of honor."
"Exactly. And you who pretend to love him have so little heart, so little
delicacy, that you care nothing for what he thinks a matter of honor. A
pretty thing _your_ sense of honor must be!"
"Oh!" shrank Alice, and the woman, seeing her advantage, pursued it
relentlessly. "Did you ever hear of a _debt_ of honor? How do you know that
your lover doesn't owe _me_ such a debt and isn't paying it now down
So biting were the words, so fierce the scorn, that Alice found herself
wavering. After all, she knew nothing of what had happened, nor could she
be sure of Lloyd's wishes. He had certainly spoken of things in his life
that he regretted. Could it be that he was bound in honor to save this
woman _at any cost?_ As she stood irresolute, there came up from below the
sound of steps on the stairs, ascending steps, nearer and nearer, then
distinctly the clatter of Valentine's wooden shoes, then another and a
heavier tread. The sacristan was coming.
"Here is your chance," taunted the lady; "give me up, denounce me, and then
remember what Lloyd will remember _always_, that when a distressed and
helpless sister woman came to you and trusted you, you showed her no pity,
but deliberately wrecked her life."
Half sorry, half triumphant, but without a word, Alice watched the torture
of this former rival; and now the loud breathing of the sacristan was
plainly heard on the stairs.
"Remember," flung out the other in a final defiance that was also a final
appeal, "remember that nothing brought me here but the sacredness of a love
that is gone, a sacredness that _I_ respect and _he_ respects but that _you
As she said this Valentine emerged from the tower door followed wearily by
Papa Bonneton, in full regalia, his mild face expressing all that it could
"What has happened?" he said sharply to Alice. Then, with a habit of
deference, he lifted his three-cornered hat to the lady: "Madam will
understand that it was difficult for me to leave my duties."
Madam stood silent, ghastly white, hands clinched so hard that the gems cut
into her flesh, eyes fixed on the girl in a last anguished supplication.
Then Alice said to the sacristan: "Madam wants to hear the sound of the
great bell. She asked me to strike it with the hammer, but I told her that
is forbidden during high mass. Madam offered ten francs--twenty francs--she
is going away and is very anxious to hear the bell; she has read about its
beautiful tone. When madam offered twenty francs, I thought it my duty to
let you know." All this with a self-possession that the daughters of Eve
have acquired through centuries of practice.
"Twenty francs!" muttered the guileless Bonneton. "You were right, my
child, perfectly right. That rule was made for ordinary visitors, but with
madam it is different. I myself will strike the bell for madam." And with
all dispatch he entered the Southern tower, where the great bourdon hangs,
whispering: "Twenty francs! It's a miracle."
No sooner was he gone than the lady caught the girl's two hands in hers,
and with her whole soul in her eyes she cried: "God bless you! God bless
Alice tried to speak, but the words choked her, and, leaning over the
balustrade, she looked yearningly toward the prison, her lips moving in
silence: "Lloyd! Lloyd!" Then the great bell struck and she turned with a
start, brushing away the tears that dimmed her eyes.
A moment later Papa Bonneton reappeared, scarcely believing that already he
had earned his louis and insisting on telling madam various things about
the bell--that it was presented by Louis XIV, and weighed over seventeen
tons; that eight men were required to ring it, two poised at each corner of
the rocking framework; that the note it sounded was _fa diese_--did madam
understand that? _Do, re, mi, fa?_ And more of the sort until madam assured
him that she was fully satisfied and would not keep him longer from his
duties. Whereupon, with a torrent of thanks, the old man disappeared in the
tower, looking unbelievingly at the gold piece in his hand.
"And now what?" asked Alice with feverish eagerness when they were alone
"Let me tell you, first, what you have saved me from," said the lady,
leaning weakly against the balustrade. A feeling of faintness had come over
her in the reaction from her violent emotion.
"No, no," replied the girl, "this is the time for action, not sentiment.
You have promised to save _him_, now do it."
"I will," declared the other, and the light of a fine purpose gave a
dignity to her rather selfish beauty. "Or, rather, we will save him
together. First, I want you to take this money--you will take it now _for
him?_ That's right, put it in your dress. Ah," she smiled as Alice obeyed
her. "That is for a lawyer. He must have a good lawyer at once."
"Yes, of course," agreed Alice, "but how shall I get a lawyer?"
The lady frowned. "Ah, if I could only send you to my lawyer! But that
would involve explanations. We need a man to advise us, some one who knows
about these things."
"I have it," exclaimed Alice joyfully. "The very person!"
"Who is that?"
"What?" The other stared. "You mean Paul Coquenil, the detective?"
"Yes," said the girl confidently. "He would help us; I'm sure of it."
"He is on the case already. Didn't you know that? The papers are full of
Alice shook her head. "That doesn't matter, does it? He would tell us
exactly what to do. I saw him in Notre-Dame only yesterday and--and he
spoke to me so kindly. You know, M. Coquenil is a friend of Papa
Bonneton's; he lends him his dog Caesar to guard the church."
"It seems like providence," murmured the lady. "Yes, that is the thing to
do, you must go to M. Coquenil at once. Tell the old sacristan I have sent
you on an errand--for another twenty francs."
Alice smiled faintly. "I can manage that. But what shall I say to M. Paul?"
"Speak to him about the lawyer and the money; I will send more if
necessary. Tell him what has happened between us and then put yourself in
his hands. Do whatever he thinks best. There is one thing I want M.
Kittredge to be told--I wish you would write it down so as to make no
mistake. Here is a pencil and here is a piece of paper." With nervous haste
she tore a page from a little memorandum book. "Now, then," and she
dictated the following statement which Alice took down carefully: "_Tell M.
Kittredge that the lady who called for him in the carriage knows now that
the person she thought guilty last night is NOT guilty. She knows this
absolutely, so she will be able to appear and testify in favor of M.
Kittredge if it becomes necessary. But she hopes it will not be necessary.
She begs M. Kittredge to use this money for a good lawyer_."
BY SPECIAL ORDER
It was not until after vespers that Alice was able to leave Notre-Dame and
start for the Villa Montmorency--in fact, it was nearly five when, with
mingled feelings of confidence and shrinking, she opened the iron gate in
the ivy-covered wall of Coquenil's house and advanced down the neat walk
between the double hedges to the solid gray mass of the villa, at once
dignified and cheerful. Melanie came to the door and showed, by a jealous
glance, that she did not approve of her master receiving visits from young
and good-looking females.
"M. Paul is resting," she grumbled; "he worked all last night and he's
worked this whole blessed day until half an hour ago."
"I'm sorry, but it's a matter of great importance," urged the girl.
"Good, good," snapped Melanie. "What name?"
"He wouldn't know my name. Please say it's the girl who sells candles in
"Huh! I'll tell him. Wait here," and with scant courtesy the old servant
left Alice standing in the blue-tiled hallway, near a long diamond-paned
window. A moment later Melanie reappeared with mollified countenance. "M.
Paul says will you please take a seat in here." She opened the study door
and pointed to one of the big red-leather chairs. "He'll be down in a
Left alone, Alice glanced in surprise about this strange room. She saw a
photograph of Caesar and his master on the wall and went nearer to look at
it. Then she noticed the collection of plaster hands and was just bending
over it when Coquenil entered, wearing a loosely cut house garment of pale
yellow with dark-green braid around the jacket and down the legs of the
trousers. He looked pale, almost haggard, but his face lighted in welcome
as he came forward.
[Illustration: "She was just bending over it when Coquenil entered."]
"Glad to see you," he said.
She had not heard his step and turned with a start of surprise.
"I--I beg your pardon," she murmured in embarrassment.
"Are you interested in my plaster casts?" he asked pleasantly.
"I was looking at this hand," replied the girl. "I have seen one like it."
Coquenil shook his head good-naturedly. "That is very improbable."
Alice looked closer. "Oh, but I have," she insisted.
"You mean in a museum?"
"No, no, in life--I am positive I have."
M. Paul listened with increasing interest. "You have seen a hand with a
little finger as long as this one?"
"Yes; it's as long as the third finger and square at the end. I've often
"Then you have seen something very uncommon, mademoiselle, something _I_
have never seen. That is the most remarkable hand in my collection; it is
the hand of a man who lived nearly two hundred years ago. He was one of the
greatest criminals the world has ever known."
"Really?" cried Alice, her eyes wide with sudden fright. "I--I must have
But now the detective's curiosity was aroused. "Would you mind telling me
the name of the person--of course it's a man--who has this hand?"
"Yes," said Alice, "it's a man, but I should not like to give his name
after what you have told me."
"He is a good man?"
"A kind man?"
"A man that you like?"
"Why--er--why, yes, I like him," she replied, but the detective noticed a
strange, anxious look in her eyes. And immediately he changed the subject.
"You'll have a cup of tea with me, won't you? I've asked Melanie to bring
it in. Then we can talk comfortably. By the way, you haven't told me your
"My name is Alice Groener," she answered simply.
"Groener," he reflected. "That isn't a French name?"
"No, my family lived in Belgium, but I have only a cousin left. He is a
wood carver, in Brussels. He has been very kind to me and would pay my
board with the Bonnetons, but I don't want to be a burden, so I work at the
"I see," he said approvingly.
The girl was seated in the full light, and as they talked, Coquenil
observed her attentively, noting the pleasant tones of her voice and the
charming lights in her eyes, studying her with a personal as well as a
professional interest; for was not this the young woman who had so suddenly
and so unaccountably influenced his life? Who was she, what was she, this
dreaming candle seller? In spite of her shyness and modest ways, she was
brave and strong of will, that was evident, and, plain dress or not, she
looked the aristocrat every inch of her. Where did she get that unconscious
air of quiet poise, that trick of the lifted chin? And how did she learn to
use her hands like a great lady?
"Would you mind telling me something, mademoiselle?" he said suddenly.
Alice looked at him in surprise, and again he remarked, as he had at
Notre-Dame, the singular beauty of her wondering dark eyes.
"What is it?"
"Have you any idea how you happened to dream that dream about me?"
The girl shrank away trembling. "No one can explain dreams, can they?" she
asked anxiously, and it seemed to him that her emotion was out of all
proportion to its cause.
"I suppose not," he answered kindly. "I thought you might have
some--er--some fancy about it. If you ever should have, you would tell me,
"Ye-es." She hesitated, and for a moment he thought she was going to say
something more, but she checked the impulse, if it was there, and Coquenil
did not press his demand.
"There's one other thing," he went on reassuringly. "I'm asking this in the
interest of M. Kittredge. Tell me if you know anything about this crime of
which he is accused?"
"Why, no," she replied with evident sincerity. "I haven't even read the
"But you know who was murdered?"
Alice shook her head blankly. "How could I? No one has told me."
"It was a man named Martinez."
She started at the word. "What? The billiard player?" she cried.
He nodded. "Did you know him?"
"Oh, yes, very well."
Now it was Coquenil's turn to feel surprise, for he had asked the question
"You knew Martinez very well?" he repeated, scarcely believing his ears.
"I often saw him," she explained, "at the cafe where we went evenings."
"Who were 'we'?"
"Why, Papa Bonneton would take me, or my cousin, M. Groener, or M.
"Then M. Kittredge knew Martinez?"
"Of course. He used to go sometimes to see him play billiards." She said
all this quite simply.
"Were Kittredge and Martinez good friends?"
"Never had any words? Any quarrel?"
"Why--er--no," she replied in some confusion.
"I don't want to distress you, mademoiselle," said Coquenil gravely, "but
aren't you keeping something back?"
"No, no," she insisted. "I just thought of--of a little thing that made me
unhappy, but it has nothing to do with this case. You believe me, don't
She spoke with pleading earnestness, and again M. Paul followed an
intuition that told him he might get everything from this girl by going
slowly and gently, whereas, by trying to force her confidence, he would get
"Of course I believe you," he smiled. "Now I'm going to give you some of
this tea; I'm afraid it's getting cold."
And he proceeded to do the honors in so friendly a way that Alice was
presently quite at her ease again.
"Now," he resumed, "we'll settle down comfortably and you can tell me what
brought you here, tell me all about it. You won't mind if I smoke a
cigarette? Be sure to tell me _everything_--there is plenty of time."
So Alice began and told him about the mysterious lady and their agitated
visit to the tower, omitting nothing, while M. Paul listened with startled
interest, nodding and frowning and asking frequent questions.
"This is very important," he said gravely when she had finished. "What a
pity you couldn't get her name!" He shut his fingers hard on his chair arm,
reflecting that for the second time this woman had escaped him.
"Did I do wrong?" asked Alice in confusion.
"I suppose not. I understand your feelings, but--would you know her again?"
"Oh, yes, anywhere," answered Alice confidently.
"How old is she?"
A mischievous light shone in the girl's eyes. "I will say thirty--that is
"You think she may be older?"
"I'm sure she isn't younger."
"Is she pretty?"
"Oh, yes, very pretty, very animated and--_chic_."
"Would you call her a lady?"
"Aren't you sure?"
"It isn't that, but American ladies are--different."
"Why do you think she is an American?" he asked.
"I'm sure she is. I can always tell American ladies; they wear more colors
than French ladies, more embroideries, more things on their hats; I've
often noticed it in church. I even know them by their shiny finger nails
and their shrill voices."
"Does she speak with an accent?"
"She speaks fluently, like a foreigner who has lived a long time in Paris,
but she has a slight accent."
"Ah! Now give me her message again. Are you sure you remember it exactly?"
"Quite sure. Besides, she made me write it down so as not to miss a word.
Here it is," and, producing the torn page, she read: "_Tell M. Kittredge
that the lady who called for him in the carriage knows now that the person
she thought guilty last night is NOT guilty. She knows this absolutely, so
she will be able to appear and testify in favor of M. Kittredge if it
becomes necessary. But she hopes it will not be necessary. She begs M.
Kittredge to use this money for a good lawyer_."
"She didn't say who this person is that she thought guilty last night?"
"Did she say _why_ she thought him guilty or what changed her mind? Did she
drop any hint? Try to remember."
Alice shook her head. "No, she said nothing about that."
Coquenil rose and walked back and forth across the study, hands deep in his
pockets, head forward, eyes on the floor, back and forth several times
without a word. Then he stopped before Alice, eying her intently as if
making up his mind about something.
"I'm going to trust you, mademoiselle, with an important mission. You're
only a girl, but--you've been thrown into this tragic affair, and--you'll
be glad to help your lover, won't you?"
"Oh, yes," she answered eagerly.
"You may as well know that we are facing a situation not
altogether--er--encouraging. I believe M. Kittredge is innocent and I hope
to prove it, but others think differently and they have serious things
"What things?" she demanded, her cheeks paling.
"No matter now."
"There can be _nothing_ against him," declared the girl, "he is the soul of
"I hope so," answered the detective dryly, "but he is also in prison, and
unless we do something he is apt to stay there."
"What can we do?" murmured Alice, twining her fingers piteously.
"We must get at the truth, we must find this woman who came to see you. The
quickest way to do that is through Kittredge himself. He knows all about
her, if we can make him speak. So far he has refused to say a word, but
there is one person who ought to unseal his lips--that is the girl he
"Oh, yes," exclaimed Alice, her face lighting with new hope, "I think I
could, I am sure I could, only--will they let me see him?"
"That is the point. It is against the prison rule for a person _au secret_
to see anyone except his lawyer, but I know the director of the Sante and I
"You mean the director of the depot?"
"No, for M. Kittredge was transferred from the depot this morning. You know
the depot is only a temporary receiving station, but the Sante is one of
the regular French prisons. It's there they send men charged with murder."
Alice shivered at the word. "Yes," she murmured, "and--what were you
"I say that I know the director of the Sante and I think, if I send you to
him with a strong note, he will make an exception--I think so."
"Splendid!" she cried joyfully. "And when shall I present the note?"
"To-day, at once; there isn't an hour to lose. I will write it now."
Coquenil sat down at his massive Louis XV table with its fine bronzes and
quickly addressed an urgent appeal to M. Dedet, director of the Sante,
asking him to grant the bearer a request that she would make in person, and
assuring him that, by so doing, he would confer upon Paul Coquenil a
deeply appreciated favor. Alice watched him with a sense of awe, and she
thought uneasily of her dream about the face in the angry sun and the land
of the black people.
"There," he said, handing her the note. "Now listen. You are to find out
certain things from your lover. I can't tell you _how_ to find them out,
that is your affair, but you must do it."
"I will," declared Alice.
"You must find them out even if he doesn't wish to tell you. His safety and
your happiness may depend on it."
"One thing is this woman's name and address."
"Yes," replied Alice, and then her face clouded. "But if it isn't honorable
for him to tell her name?"
"You must make him see that it _is_ honorable. The lady herself says she is
ready to testify if necessary. At first she was afraid of implicating some
person she thought guilty, but now she knows that person is not guilty.
Besides, you can say that we shall certainly know all about this woman in a
few days whether he tells us or not, so he may as well save us valuable
time. Better write that down--here is a pad."
"Save us valuable time," repeated Alice, pencil in hand.
"Then I want to know about the lady's husband. Is he dark or fair? Tall or
short? Does Kittredge know him? Has he ever had words with him or any
trouble? Got that?"
"Yes," replied Alice, writing busily.
"Then--do you know whether M. Kittredge plays tennis?"
Alice looked up in surprise. "Why, yes, he does. I remember hearing him
say he likes it better than golf."
"Ah! Then ask him--see here. I'll show you," and going to a corner between
the bookcase and the wall, M. Paul picked out a tennis racket among a
number of canes. "Now, then," he continued while she watched him with
perplexity, "I hold my racket _so_ in my right hand, and if a ball comes on
my left, I return it with a back-hand stroke _so_, using my right hand; but
there are players who shift the racket to the left hand and return the ball
_so_, do you see?"
"Now I want to know if M. Kittredge uses both hands in playing tennis or
only the one hand. And I want to know _which_ hand he uses chiefly, that
is, the right or the left?"
"Why do you want to know that?" inquired Alice, with a woman's curiosity.
"Never mind why, just remember it's important. Another thing is, to ask M.
Kittredge about a chest of drawers in his room at the Hotel des Etrangers.
It is a piece of old oak, rather worm-eaten, but it has good bronzes for
the drawer handles, two dogs fighting on either side of the lock plates."
Alice listened in astonishment. "I didn't suppose you knew where M.
"Nor did I until this morning," he smiled. "Since then I--well, as my
friend Gibelin says, I haven't wasted my time."
"Your friend Gibelin?" repeated Alice, not understanding.
Coquenil smiled grimly. "He is an amiable person for whom I am preparing
a--a little surprise."
"Oh! And what about the chest of drawers?"
"It's about one particular drawer, the small upper one on the right-hand
side--better write that down."
"The small upper drawer on the right-hand side," repeated Alice.
"I find that M. Kittredge _always_ kept this drawer locked. He seems to be
a methodical person, and I want to know if he remembers opening it a few
days ago and finding, it unlocked. Have you got that?"
"Good! Oh, one thing more. Find out if M. Kittredge ever suffers from
rheumatism or gout."
The girl smiled. "Of course he doesn't; he is only twenty-eight."
"Please do not take this lightly, mademoiselle," the detective chided
gently. "It is perhaps the most important point of all--his release from
prison may depend on it."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'm not taking it lightly, indeed I'm not," and, with tears
in her eyes, Alice assured M. Paul that she fully realized the importance
of this mission and would spare no effort to make it successful.
A few moments later she hurried away, buoyed up by the thought that she was
not only to see her lover but to serve him.
It was after six when Alice left the circular railway at the Montrouge
station. She was in a remote and unfamiliar part of Paris, the region of
the catacombs and the Gobelin tapestry works, and, although M. Paul had
given her precise instructions, she wandered about for some time among
streets of hospitals and convents until at last she came to an open place
where she recognized Bartholdi's famous Belfort lion. Then she knew her
way, and hurrying along the Boulevard Arago, she came presently to the
gloomy mass of the Sante prison, which, with its diverging wings and
galleries, spreads out like a great gray spider in the triangular space
between the Rue Humboldt, the Rue de la Sante and the Boulevard Arago.
A kind-faced policeman pointed out a massive stone archway where she must
enter, and passing here, beside a stolid soldier in his sentry box, she
came presently to a black iron door in front of which were waiting two
yellow-and-black prison vans, windowless. In this prison door were four
glass-covered observation holes, and through these Alice saw a guard
within, who, as she lifted the black iron knocker, drew forth a long brass
key and turned the bolt. The door swung back, and with a shiver of
repulsion the girl stepped inside. This was the prison, these men standing
about were the jailers and--what did that matter so long as she got to
_him_, to her dear Lloyd. There was _nothing_ she would not face or endure
for his sake.
No sooner had the guard heard that she came with a note from M. Paul
Coquenil (that was a name to conjure with) than he showed her politely to a
small waiting room, assuring her that the note would be given at once to
the director of the prison. And a few moments later another door opened and
a hard-faced, low-browed man of heavy build bowed to her with a crooked,
sinister smile and motioned her into his private office. It was M. Dedet,
the chief jailer.
"Always at the service of Paul Coquenil," he began. "What can I do for you,
Then, summoning her courage, and trying her best to make a good impression,
Alice told him her errand. She wanted to speak with the American, M.
Kittredge, who had been sent here the night before--she wanted to speak
with him alone.
The jailer snapped his teeth and narrowed his brows in a hard stare. "Did
Paul Coquenil send you here for _that?_" he questioned.
"Yes, sir," answered the girl, and her heart began to sink. "You see, it's
a very special case and----"
"Special case," laughed the other harshly; "I should say so--it's a case of
"But he is innocent, perfectly innocent," pleaded Alice.
"Of course, but if I let every murderer who says he's innocent see his
sweetheart--well, this would be a fine prison. No, no, little one," he went
on with offensive familiarity, "I am sorry to disappoint you and I hate to
refuse M. Paul, but it can't be done. This man is _au secret_, which means
that he must not see _anyone_ except his lawyer. You know they assign a
lawyer to a prisoner who has no money to employ one."
"But he _has_ money, at least I have some for him. Please let me see him,
for a few minutes." Her eyes filled with tears and she reached out her
hands appealingly. "If you only knew the circumstances, if I could only
make you understand."
"Haven't time to listen," he said impatiently, "there's no use whining. I
can't do it and that's the end of it. If I let you talk with this man and
the thing were known, I might lost my position." He rose abruptly as if to
Alice did not move. She had been sitting by a table on which a large sheet
of pink blotting paper was spread before writing materials. And as she
listened to the director's rough words, she took up a pencil and twisted it
nervously in her fingers. Then, with increasing agitation, as she realized
that her effort for Lloyd had failed, she began, without thinking, to make
little marks on the blotter, and then a written scrawl--all with a
singular fixed look in her eyes.
"You'll have to excuse me," said the jailer gruffly, seeing that she did
not take his hint.
Alice started to her feet. "I--I beg your pardon," she said weakly, and,
staggering, she tried to reach the door. Her distress was so evident that
even this calloused man felt a thrill of pity and stepped forward to assist
her. And, as he passed the table, his eye fell on the blotting paper.
"Why, what is this?" he exclaimed, eying her sharply.
"Oh, excuse me, sir," begged Alice, "I have spoiled your nice blotter. I am
"Never mind the blotter, but--" He bent closer over the scrawled words,
and then with a troubled look: "_Did you write this?_"
"Why--er--why--yes, sir, I'm afraid I did," she stammered.
"Don't you _know_ you did?" he demanded.
"I--I wasn't thinking," she pleaded in fright.
[Illustration: "'Did you write this?'"]
He stared at her for a moment, then he went to his desk, picked up a
printed form, filled it out quickly and handed it to her.
"There," he said, and his voice was almost gentle, "I guess I don't quite
understand about this thing."
Alice looked at the paper blankly. "But--what is it?" she asked.
The jailer closed one eye very slowly with a wise nod. "It's what you asked
for, a permit to see this American prisoner, _by special order_."
LLOYD AND ALICE
Kittredge was fortunate in having a sense of humor, it helped him through
the horrors of his first night at the depot, which he passed with the scum
of Paris streets, thieves, beggars, vagrants, the miserable crop of
Saturday-night police takings, all herded into one foul room on filthy
bunks so close together that a turn either way brought a man into direct
contact with his neighbor.
Lloyd lay between an old pickpocket and a drunkard. He did not sleep, but
passed the hours thinking. And when he could think no longer, he listened
to the pickpocket who was also wakeful, and who told wonderful yarns of his
conquests among the fair sex in the time of the Commune, when he was a
"You're a pretty poor pickpocket, old chap," reflected Kittredge, "but
you're an awful good liar!"
In spite of little sleep, he was serene and good-natured when they took
him, handcuffed, before Judge Hauteville the next morning for his
preliminary examination--a mere formality to establish the prisoner's
identity. Kittredge gave the desired facts about himself with perfect
willingness; his age, nationality, occupation, and present address. He
realized that there was no use hiding these. When asked if he had money to
employ a lawyer, he said "no"; and when told that the court would assign
Maitre Pleindeaux for his defense, he thanked the judge and went off
smiling at the thought that his interests were now in the hands of Mr.
Full-of-Water. "I'll ask him to have a drink," chuckled Kittredge.
And he submitted uncomplainingly when they took him to the Bertillon
measuring department and stood him up against the wall, bare as a babe,
arms extended, and noted down his dimensions one by one, every limb and
feature being precisely described in length and breadth, every physical
peculiarity recorded, down to the impression of his thumb lines and the
precise location of a small mole on his left arm.
All this happened Sunday morning, and in the afternoon other experiences
awaited him--his first ride in a prison van, known as a _panier a salade_,
and his initiation into real prison life at the Sante. The cell he took
calmly, as well as the prison dress and food and the hard bed, for he had
known rough camping in the Maine woods and was used to plain fare, but he
winced a little at the regulation once a week prison shave, and the
regulation bath once a month! And what disturbed him chiefly was the
thought that now he would have absolutely nothing to do but sit in his cell
and wait wearily for the hours to pass. Prisoners under sentence may be put
to work, but one _au secret_ is shut up not only from the rest of the
world, but even from his fellow-prisoners. He is utterly alone.
"Can't I have a pack of cards?" asked Lloyd with a happy inspiration.
"Against the rule," said the guard.
"But I know some games of solitaire. I never could see what they were
invented for until now. Let me have part of a pack, just enough to play
old-maid solitaire. Ever heard of that?"
The guard shook his head.
"Not even a part of a pack? You won't even let me play old-maid solitaire?"
And with the merry, cheery grin that had won him favor everywhere from
wildest Bohemia to primest Presbyterian tea parties, Lloyd added: "That's a
hell of a way to treat a murderer!"
The Sunday morning service was just ending when Kittredge reached the
prison, and he got his first impressions of the place as he listened to
resounding Gregorian tones chanted, or rather shouted, by tiers on tiers of
prisoners, each joining in the unison with full lung power through cell
doors chained ajar. The making of this rough music was one of the pleasures
of the week, and at once the newcomer's heart was gripped by the
indescribable sadness of it.
[Illustration: "And when he could think no longer, he listened to the
Having gone through the formalities of arrival and been instructed as to
various detail of prison routine, Lloyd settled down as comfortably as
might be in his cell to pass the afternoon over "The Last of the Mohicans."
He chose this because the librarian assured him that no books were as
popular among French convicts as the translated works of Fenimore Cooper.
"Good old Stars and Stripes!" murmured Kittredge, but he stared at the same
page for a long time before he began to read. And once he brushed a quick
hand across his eyes.
Scarcely had Lloyd finished a single chapter when one of the guards
appeared with as much of surprise on his stolid countenance as an
overworked under jailer can show; for an unprecedented thing had
happened--a prisoner _au secret_ was to receive a visitor, a young woman,
at that, and, _sapristi_, a good-looking one, who came with a special order
from the director of the prison. Moreover, he was to see her in the private
parlor, with not even the customary barrier of iron bars to separate them.
They were to be left together for half an hour, the guard standing at the
open door with instructions not to interfere except for serious reasons. In
the memory of the oldest inhabitant such a thing had not been known!
Kittredge, however, was not surprised, first, because nothing could
surprise him, and, also, because he had no idea what an extraordinary
exception had been made in his favor. So he walked before the guard
indifferently enough toward the door indicated, but when he crossed the
threshold he started back with a cry of amazement.
"Alice!" he gasped, and his face lighted with transfiguring joy. It was a
bare room with bare floors and bare yellow painted walls, the only
furnishings being two cane chairs and a cheap table, but to Kittredge it
was a marvelous and radiantly happy place, for Alice was there; he stared
at her almost unbelieving, but it was true--by some kind miracle Alice, his
Alice, was there!
Then, without any prelude, without so much as asking for an explanation or
giving her time to make one, Lloyd sprang forward and caught the trembling
girl in his arms and drew her close to him with tender words, while the
guard muttered: "_Nom d'un chien! Il ne perd pas de temps, celui-la!_"
This was not at all the meeting that Alice had planned, but as she felt her
lover's arms about her and his warm breath on her face, she forgot the
message that she brought and the questions she was to ask, she forgot his
danger and her own responsibility, she forgot everything but this one
blessed fact of their great love, his and hers, the love that had drawn
them together and was holding them together now here, together, close
together, she and her Lloyd.
"You darling," he whispered, "you brave, beautiful darling! I love you! I
love you!" And he would have said it still again had not his lips been
closed by her warm, red lips. So they stood silent, she limp in his arms,
gasping, thrilling, weeping and laughing, he feasting insatiable on her
lips, on the fragrance of her hair, on the lithe roundness of her body.
"_Voyons, voyons!_" warned the guard. "_Soyons serieux!_"
"He is right," murmured Alice, "we must be serious. Lloyd, let me go," and
with an effort she freed herself. "I can only stay here half an hour, and I
don't know how much of it we have wasted already." She tried to look at him
reproachfully, but her eyes were swimming with tenderness.
"It wasn't wasted, dear," he answered fondly. "To have held you in my arms
like that will give me courage for whatever is to come."
"But, Lloyd," she reasoned, "nothing bad will come if you do what I say. I
am here to help you, to get you out of this dreadful place."
"You little angel!" he smiled. "How are you going to do it?"
"I'll tell you in a moment," she said, "but, first, you must answer some
questions. Never mind why I ask them, just answer. You will, won't you,
Lloyd? You trust me?"
"Of course I trust you, sweetheart, and I'll answer anything that I--that I
"Good. I'll begin with the easiest question," she said, consulting her
list. "Sit down here--that's right. Now, then, have you ever had gout or
rheumatism? Don't laugh--it's important."
"Never," he answered, and she wrote it down.
"Do you play tennis with your right hand or your left hand?"
"Oh, see here," he protested, "what's the use of----"
"No, no," she insisted, "you must tell me. Please, the right hand or the
"I use both hands," he answered, and she wrote it down.
"Now," she continued, "you have a chest of drawers in your room with two
brass dogs fighting about the lock plates?"
Kittredge stared at her. "How the devil did you know that?"
"Never mind. You usually keep the right-hand upper drawer locked, don't
"Do you remember going to this drawer any time lately and finding it
He thought a moment. "No, I don't."
Alice hesitated, and then, with a flush of embarrassment, she went on
bravely: "Now, Lloyd, I come to the hardest part. You must help me and--and
not think that I am hurt or--or jealous."
"It's about the lady who--who called for you. This is all her fault, so--so
naturally she wants to help you."
"How do you know she does?" he asked quickly.
"Because I have seen her."
"Yes, and, Lloyd, she is sorry for the harm she has done and----"
"You have seen her?" he cried, half dazed. "How? Where?"
Then, in as few words as possible, Alice told of her talk with the lady at
the church. "And I have this message for you from her and--and _this_." She
handed him the note and the folded bank notes.
Lloyd's face clouded. "She sent me money?" he said in a changed voice, and
his lips grew white.
"Read the note," she begged, and he did so, frowning.
"No, no," he declared, "it's quite impossible. I cannot take it," and he
handed the money back. "You wouldn't have me take it?"
He looked at her gravely, and she thrilled with pride in him.
"But the lawyer?" she protested weakly. "And your safety?"
"Would you want me to owe my safety to _her?_"
"Oh, no," she murmured.
"Besides, they have given me a lawyer. I dare say he is a good one, Mr.
Full-of-Water." He tried to speak lightly.
"Then--then what shall I do with these?" She looked at the bank notes in
"Ah, yes," she agreed, snatching at a new idea. "I will return them, I will
say that you thank her, that _we_ thank her, Lloyd, but we cannot accept
the money. Is that right?"
"I will go to her apartment in the morning. Let me see, it's on the
Avenue--Where did I put her address?" and she went through the form of
searching in her pocketbook.
"The Avenue Kleber," he supplied, unsuspecting.
"Of course, the Avenue Kleber. Where _is_ that card? I've forgotten the
number, too. Do you remember it, dear?"
Poor child, she tried so hard to speak naturally, but her emotion betrayed
her. Indeed, it seemed to Alice, in that moment of suspense, that her lover
must hear the loud beating of her heart.
"Ah, I see," he cried, eying her steadily, "she did not give you her
address and you are trying to get it from me. Do you even know her name?"
"No," confessed Alice shamefacedly. "Forgive me, I--I wanted to help you."
"By making me do a dishonorable thing?"
"Don't look at me like that. I wouldn't have you do a dishonorable thing;
"Who told you to ask me these questions?"
"What, the detective?"
"Yes. He believes you innocent, Lloyd, and he's going to prove it."
"I hope he does, but--tell him to leave this woman alone."
"Oh, he won't do that; he says he will find out who she is in a few days,
anyway. That's why I thought----"
"I understand," he said comfortingly, "and the Lord knows I want to get out
of this hole, but--we've got to play fair, eh? Now let's drop all that
and--do you want to make me the happiest man in the world? I'm the happiest
man in Paris already, even here, but if you will tell me one
thing--why--er--this prison won't cut any ice at all."
"What do you want me to tell you?" she asked uneasily.
"You little darling!" he said tenderly. "You needn't tell me anything if
it's going to make you feel badly, but, you see, I've got some lonely hours
to get through here and--well, I think of you most of the time and--" He
took her hand fondly in his.
"Dear, dear Lloyd!" she murmured.
"And I've sort of got it in my head that--do you want to know?"
"Yes, I want to know," she said anxiously.
"I believe there's some confounded mystery about you, and, if you don't
Alice started to her feet, and Lloyd noticed, as she faced him, that the
pupils of her eyes widened and then grew small as if from fright or violent
"Why do you say that? What makes you think there is a mystery about me?"
she demanded, trying vainly to hide her agitation.
"Now don't get upset--please don't!" soothed Kittredge. "If there isn't
anything, just say so, and if there is, what's the matter with telling a
chap who loves you and worships you and whose love wouldn't change for
fifty mysteries--what's the matter with telling him all about it?"
"Are you sure your love wouldn't change?" she asked, still trembling.
"Did _yours_ change when they told you things about me? Did it change when
they arrested me and put me in prison? Yes, by Jove, it _did_ change, it
grew stronger, and that's the way mine would change, that's the only way."
He spoke so earnestly and with such a thrill of fondness that Alice was
reassured, and giving him her hand with a happy little gesture, she said:
"I know, dear. You see, I love you so much that--if anything should come
between us, why--it would just kill me."
"Nothing will come between us," he said simply, and then after a pause: "So
there _is_ a mystery."
"I'm--I'm afraid so."
"Ah, I knew it. I figured it out from a lot of little things. That's all
I've had to do here, and--for instance, I said to myself: 'How the devil
does she happen to speak English without any accent?' You can't tell me
that the cousin of a poor wood carver in Belgium would know English as you
do. It's part of the mystery, eh?"
"Why--er," she stammered, "I have always known English."
"Exactly, but how? And I suppose you've always known how to do those
corking fine embroideries that the priests are so stuck on? But how did you
learn? And how does it come that you look like a dead swell? And where did
you get those hands like a saint in a stained-glass window? And that hair?
I'll bet you anything you like you're a princess in disguise."
"I'm _your_ princess, dear," she smiled.
"Now for the mystery," he persisted. "Go on, what is it?"
At this her lovely face clouded and her eyes grew sad. "It's not the kind
of mystery you think, Lloyd; I--I can't tell you about it very
well--because--" She hesitated.
"Don't you worry, little sweetheart. I don't care what it is, I don't care
if you're the daughter of a Zulu chief." Then, seeing her distress, he said
tenderly: "Is it something you don't understand?"
"That's it," she answered in a low voice, "it's something I don't
"Ah! Something about yourself?"
"Does anyone else know it?"
"No, no one _could_ know it, I--I've been afraid to speak of it."
She nodded, and again he noticed that the pupils of her eyes were widening
"And that is why you said you wouldn't marry me?"
"Yes, that is why."
He stopped in perplexity. He saw that, in spite of her bravest efforts, the
girl was almost fainting under the strain of these questions.
"You dear, darling child," said Lloyd, as a wave of pity took him, "I'm a
brute to make you talk about this."
But Alice answered anxiously: "You understand it's nothing I have done that
is wrong, nothing I'm ashamed of?"
"Of course," he assured her. "Let's drop it. We'll never speak of it
"I want to speak of it. It's something strange in my thoughts, dear,
or--or my soul," she went on timidly, "something that's--different and
that--frightens me--especially at night."
"What do you expect?" he answered in a matter-of-fact tone, "when you spend
all your time in a cold, black church full of bones and ghosts? Wait till I
get you away from there, wait till we're over in God's country, living in a
nice little house out in Orange, N. J., and I'm commuting every day."
"What's commuting, Lloyd?"
"You'll find out--you'll like it, except the tunnel. And you'll be so happy
you'll never think about your soul--no, sir, and you won't be afraid
nights, either! Oh, you beauty, you little beauty!" he burst out, and was
about to take her in his arms again when the guard came forward to warn
them that the time was nearly up, they had three minutes more.
"All right," nodded Lloyd, and as he turned to Alice, she saw tears in his
eyes. "It's tough, but never mind. You've made a man of me, little one, and
I'll prove it. I used to have a sort of religion and then I lost it, and
now I've got it again, a new religion and a new creed. It's short and easy
to say, but it's all I need, and it's going to keep me game through this
whole rotten business. Want to hear my creed? You know it already, darling,
for you taught it to me. Here it is: 'I believe in Alice'; that's all,
that's enough. Let me kiss you."
"Lloyd," she whispered as he bent toward her, "can't you trust me with that
He drew back and looked at her half reproachfully and her cheeks flushed.
She would not have him think that she could bargain for her lips, and
throwing her arms about him, she murmured: "Kiss me, kiss me as much as you
like. I am yours, yours."
Then there was a long, delicious, agonizing moment of passion and pain
until the guard's gruff voice came between them.
"One moment," Kittredge said, and then to the clinging girl: "Why do you
ask that woman's name when you know it already?"
Wide-eyed, she faced him and shook her head. "I don't know her name, I
don't want to know it."
"You don't know her name?" he repeated, and even in the tumult of their
last farewell her frank and honest denial lingered in his mind.
She did not know the woman's name! Back in his lonely cell Kittredge
pondered this, and reaching for his little volume of De Musset, his
treasured pocket companion that the jailer had let him keep, he opened it
at the fly leaves. _She did not know this woman's name!_ And, wonderingly,
he read on the white page the words and the name written by Alice herself,
scrawlingly but distinctly, the day before in the garden of Notre-Dame.
THE WOMAN IN THE CASE
Coquenil was neither surprised nor disappointed at the meager results of
Alice's visit to the prison. This was merely one move in the game, and it
had not been entirely vain, since he had learned that Kittredge _might_
have used his left hand in firing a pistol and that he did not suffer with
gout or rheumatism. This last point was of extreme importance.
And the detective was speedily put in excellent humor by news awaiting him
at the Palais de Justice Monday morning that the man sent to London to
trace the burned photograph and the five-pound notes had already met with
success and had telegraphed that the notes in question had been issued to
Addison Wilmott, whose bankers were Munroe and Co., Rue Scribe.
Quick inquiries revealed the fact that Addison Wilmott was a well-known New
Yorker, living in Paris, a man of leisure who was enjoying to the full a
large inherited fortune. He and his dashing wife lived in a private _hotel_
on the Avenue Kleber, where they led a gay existence in the smartest and
most spectacular circle of the American Colony. They gave brilliant
dinners, they had several automobiles, they did all the foolish and
extravagant things that the others did and a few more.
He was dull, good-natured, and a little fat; she was a beautiful woman with
extraordinary charm and a lithe, girlish figure of which she took infinite
care; he was supposed to kick up his heels in a quiet way while she did
the thing brilliantly and kept the wheels of American Colony gossip (busy
enough, anyway) turning and spinning until they groaned in utter weariness.
What was there that Pussy Wilmott had not done or would not do if the
impulse seized her? This was a matter of tireless speculation in the
ultra-chic salons through which this fascinating lady flitted, envied and
censured. She was known to be the daughter of a California millionaire who
had left her a fortune, of which the last shred was long ago dispersed.
Before marrying Wilmott she had divorced two husbands, had traveled all
over the world, had hunted tigers in India and canoed the breakers, native
style, in Hawaii; she had lived like a cowboy on the Texas plains, where,
it was said, she had worn men's clothes; she could swim and shoot and swear
and love; she was altogether selfish, altogether delightful, altogether
impossible; in short, she was a law unto herself, and her brilliant
personality so far overshadowed Addison that, although he had the money and
most of the right in their frequent quarrels, no one ever spoke of him
except as "Pussy Wilmott's husband."
In spite of her willfulness and caprices Mrs. Wilmott was full of generous
impulses and loyal to her friends. She was certainly not a snob, as witness
the fact that she had openly snubbed a certain grand duke, not for his
immoralities, which she declared afterwards were nobody's business, but
because of his insufferable stupidity. She rather liked a sinner, but she
couldn't stand a fool!
Such was the information M. Paul had been able to gather from swift and
special police sources when he presented himself at the Wilmott _hotel_,
about luncheon time on Monday. Addison was just starting with some friends
for a run down to Fontainebleau in his new Panhard, and he listened
impatiently to Coquenil's explanation that he had come in regard to some
English bank notes recently paid to Mr. Wilmott, and possibly clever
"Really!" exclaimed Addison.
Coquenil hoped that Mr. Wilmott would give him the notes in question in
exchange for genuine ones. This would help the investigation.
"Of course, my dear sir," said the American, "but I haven't the notes, they
were spent long ago."
Coquenil was sorry to hear this--he wondered if Mr. Wilmott could remember
where the notes were spent. After an intellectual effort Addison remembered
that he had changed one into French money at Henry's and had paid two or
three to a shirt maker on the Rue de la Paix, and the rest--he reflected
again, and then said positively: "Why, yes, I gave five or six of them, I
think there were six, I'm sure there were, because--" He stopped with a new
"You remember whom you paid them to?" questioned the detective.
"I didn't pay them to anyone," replied Wilmott, "I gave them to my wife."
"Ah!" said Coquenil, and presently he took his departure with polite
assurances, whereupon the unsuspecting Addison tooted away complacently for
It was now about two o'clock, and the next three hours M. Paul spent with
his sources of information studying the career of Pussy Wilmott from
special points of view in preparation for a call upon the lady, which he
proposed to make later in the afternoon.
He discovered two significant things: first, that, whatever her actual
conduct, Mrs. Wilmott had never openly compromised herself. Love affairs
she might have had, but no one could say when or where or with whom she had
had them; and if, as seemed likely, she was the woman in this Ansonia case,
then she had kept her relations with Kittredge in profoundest secrecy.
As offsetting this, however, Coquenil secured information that connected
Mrs. Wilmott directly with Martinez. It appeared that, among her other
excitements, Pussy was passionately fond of gambling. She was known to have
won and lost large sums at Monte Carlo, and she was a regular follower of
the fashionable races in Paris. She had also been seen at the Olympia
billiard academy, near the Grand Hotel, where Martinez and other experts
played regularly before eager audiences, among whom betting on the games
was the great attraction. The detective found two bet markers who
remembered distinctly that, on several occasions, a handsome woman,
answering to the description of Mrs. Wilmott, had wagered five or ten louis
on Martinez and had shown a decided admiration for his remarkable skill
with the cue.
"He used to talk about this lady," said one of the markers; "he called her
his 'belle Americaine,' but I am sure he did not know her real name." The
man smiled at Martinez's inordinate vanity over his supposed fascination
for women--he was convinced that no member of the fair sex could resist his
With so much in mind Coquenil started up the Champs Elysees about five
o'clock. He counted on finding Mrs. Wilmott home at tea time, and as he
strolled along, turning the problem over in his mind, he found it
conceivable that this eccentric lady, in a moment of ennui or for the
novelty of the thing, might have consented to dine with Martinez in a
private room. It was certain no scruples would have deterred her if the
adventure had seemed amusing, especially as Martinez had no idea who she
was. With her, excitement and a new sensation were the only rules of
conduct, and her husband's opinion was a matter of the smallest possible
consequence. Besides, he would probably never know it!
Mrs. Wilmott, very languid and stunning, amidst her luxurious surroundings,
received M. Paul with the patronizing indifference that bored rich women
extend to tradespeople. But presently when he explained that he was a
detective and began to question her about the Ansonia affair, she rose with
a haughty gesture that was meant to banish him in confusion from her
presence. Coquenil, however, did not "banish" so easily. He had dealt with
haughty ladies before.
"My dear madam, please sit down," he said quietly. "I must ask you to
explain how it happens that a number of five-pound notes, given to you by
your husband some days ago, were found on the body of this murdered man."
"How do I know?" she replied sharply. "I spent the notes in shops; I'm not
responsible for what became of them. Besides, I am dining out to-night,
and! I must dress. I really don't see any point to this conversation."
"No," he smiled, and the keenness of his glance: pierced her like a blade.
"The point is, my dear lady, that I want you to tell me what you were doing
with this billiard player when he was shot last Saturday night."
"It's false; I never knew the man," she cried. "It's an outrage for you
to--to intrude on a lady and--and insult her."
"You used to back his game at the Olympia," continued Coquenil coolly.
"What of it? I'm fond of billiards. Is that a crime?"
"You left your cloak and a small leather bag in the _vestiaire_ at the
Ansonia," pursued M. Paul.
"It isn't true!"
"Your name was found stamped in gold letters under a leather flap in the
She shot a frightened glance at him and then faltered: "It--it was?"
Coquenil nodded. "Your friend, M. Kittredge, tore the flap out of the bag
and then cut it into small pieces and scattered the pieces from his cab
through dark streets, but I picked up the pieces."
"You--you did?" she stammered.
"Yes. _Now what were you doing with Martinez in that room?_"
For some moments she did not answer but studied him with frightened,
puzzled eyes. Then suddenly her whole manner changed.
"Excuse me," she smiled, "I didn't get your name?"
"M. Coquenil," he said.
"Won't you sit over here? This chair is more comfortable. That's right.
Now, I will tell you _exactly_ what happened." And, settling herself near
him, Pussy Wilmott entered bravely upon the hardest half hour of her life.
After all, he was a man and she would do the best she could!
"You see, M. Coquelin--I beg your pardon, M. Coquenil. The names are alike,
"Yes," said the other dryly.
"Well," she went on quite charmingly, "I have done some foolish things in
my life, but this is the most foolish. I _did_ give Martinez the
five-pound notes. You see, he was to play a match this week with a Russian
and he offered to lay the money for me. He said he could get good odds and
he was sure to win."
"But the dinner? The private room?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "I went there for a perfectly proper reason. I
needed some one to help me and I--I couldn't ask a man who knew me so----"
"Then Martinez didn't know you?"
"Of course not. He was foolish enough to think himself in love with me
and--well, I found it convenient and--amusing to--utilize him."
Mrs. Wilmott bit her red lips and then with some dignity replied that she
did not see what bearing her purpose had on the case since it had not been
"Why wasn't it accomplished?" he asked.
"Because the man was shot."
"Who shot him?"