Part 6 out of 7
She shook her head and answered in a low tone: "I never saw him before this
"You met him at Madam Cecile's?"
"Ye-es," very faintly.
"And he paid you five hundred francs to go out of the house with him?"
She nodded but did not speak.
"That was the only service you were to render, was it, for this sum of
money, simply to leave the house with him and drive away in a carriage?"
"That was all."
"Thank you, madam. I hope you will learn a lesson from this experience. You
Staggering, gasping for breath, clinging weakly to the guard's arm, the
lady left the room.
"Now, sir, what have you to say?" demanded the judge, facing the prisoner.
"You admit that the lady told the truth?"
"Ha, ha!" the other laughed harshly. "A lady would naturally tell the truth
in such a predicament, wouldn't she?"
At this the judge leaned over to Coquenil and, after some low words, he
spoke to the clerk who bowed and went out.
"You denied a moment ago," resumed the questioner, "that your name is
Groener. Also that you were disguised this afternoon as a wood carver. Do
you deny that you have a room, rented by the year, in the house where Madam
Cecile has her apartment? Ah, that went home!" he exclaimed. "You thought
we would overlook the little fifth-floor room, eh?"
"I know nothing about such a room," declared the other.
"I suppose you didn't go there to change your clothes before you called at
"Call Jules," said Hauteville to the sleepy guard standing at the door, and
straightway the clerk reappeared with a large leather bag.
"Open it," directed the magistrate. "Spread the things on the table. Let
the prisoner look at them. Now then, my stubborn friend, what about these
garments? What about this wig and false beard?"
Groener rose wearily from his chair, walked deliberately to the table and
glanced at the exposed objects without betraying the slightest interest or
"I've never seen these things before, I know nothing about them," he said.
"Name of a camel!" muttered Coquenil. "He's got his nerve with him all
The judge sat silent, playing with his lead pencil, then he folded a sheet
of paper and proceeded to mark it with a series of rough geometrical
patterns, afterwards going over them again, shading them carefully. Finally
he looked up and said quietly to the guard: "Take off his handcuffs."
The guard obeyed.
"Now take off his coat."
This was done also, the prisoner offering no resistance.
"Now his shirt," and the shirt was taken off.
"Now his boots and trousers."
All this was done, and a few moments later the accused stood in his socks
and underclothing. And still he made no protest.
Here M. Paul whispered to Hauteville, who nodded in assent.
"Certainly. Take off his garters and pull up his drawers. I want his legs
bare below the knees."
"It's an outrage!" cried Groener, for the first time showing feeling.
"Silence, sir!" glared the magistrate.
"You'll be bare _above_ the knees in the morning when your measurements are
taken." Then to the guard: "Do what I said."
Again the guard obeyed, and Coquenil stood by in eager watchfulness as the
prisoner's lower legs were uncovered.
"Ah!" he cried in triumph, "I knew it, I was sure of it! There!" he pointed
to an egg-shaped wound on the right calf, two red semicircles plainly
imprinted in the white flesh. "It's the first time I ever marked a man with
my teeth and--it's a jolly good thing I did."
"How about this, Groener?" questioned the judge. "Do you admit having had a
struggle with Paul Coquenil one night on the street?"
"What made that mark on your leg?"
"I--I was bitten by a dog."
"It's a wonder you didn't shoot the dog," flashed the detective.
"What do you mean?" retorted the other.
Coquenil bent close, black wrath burning in his deep-set eyes, and spoke
three words that came to him by lightning intuition, three simple words
that, nevertheless, seemed to smite the prisoner with sudden fear: "_Oh,
So evident was the prisoner's emotion that Hauteville turned for an
explanation to the detective, who said something under his breath.
"Very strange! Very important!" reflected the magistrate. Then to the
accused: "In the morning we'll have that wound studied by experts who will
tell us whether it was made by a dog or a man. Now I want you to put on the
things that were in that bag."
For the first time a sense of his humiliation seemed to possess the
prisoner. He clinched his hands fiercely and a wave of uncontrollable anger
swept over him.
"No," he cried hoarsely, "I won't do it, I'll never do it!"
Both the judge and Coquenil gave satisfied nods at this sign of a
breakdown, but they rejoiced too soon, for by a marvelous effort of the
will, the man recovered his self-mastery and calm.
"After all," he corrected himself, "what does it matter? I'll put the
things on," and, with his old impassive air, he went to the table and,
aided by the guard, quickly donned the boots and garments of the wood
carver. He even smiled contemptuously as he did so.
"What a man! What a man!" thought Coquenil, watching him admiringly.
"There!" said the prisoner when the thing was done.
But the judge shook his head. "You've forgotten the beard and the wig.
Suppose you help make up his face," he said to the detective.
M. Paul fell to work zealously at this task and, using an elaborate
collection of paints, powders, and brushes that were in the bag, he
presently had accomplished a startling change in the unresisting
prisoner--he had literally transformed him into the wood carver.
"If you're not Groener now," said Coquenil, surveying his work with a
satisfied smile, "I'll swear you're his twin brother. It's the best
disguise I ever saw, I'll take my hat off to you on that."
"Extraordinary!" murmured the judge. "Groener, do you still deny that this
disguise belongs to you?"
[Illustration: "'It's the best disguise I ever saw, I'll take my hat off to
you on that.'"]
"You've never worn it before?"
"And you're not Adolf Groener?"
"You haven't a young cousin known as Alice Groener?"
During these questions the door had opened silently at a sign from the
magistrate, and Alice herself had entered the room.
"Turn around!" ordered the judge sharply, and as the accused obeyed he came
suddenly face to face with the girl.
At the sight of him Alice started in surprise and fear and cried out: "Oh,
But the prisoner remained impassive.
"Did you expect to see this man here?" the magistrate asked her.
"Oh, no," she shivered.
"No one had told you you might see him?"
The judge turned to Coquenil. "You did not prepare her for this meeting in
"No," said M. Paul.
"What is your name?" said Hauteville to the girl.
"Alice Groener," she answered simply.
"And this man's name?"
"You are sure?"
"Of course, he is my cousin."
"How long have you known him?"
"Why I--I've always known him."
Quick as a flash the prisoner pulled off his wig and false beard.
"Am I your cousin now?" he asked.
"Oh!" cried the girl, staring in amazement.
"Look at me! Am I your cousin?" he demanded.
"I--I don't know," she stammered.
"Am I talking to you with your cousin's voice? Pay attention--tell me--am
Alice shook her head in perplexity. "It's not my cousin's voice," she
"And it's _not_ your cousin," declared the prisoner. Then he faced the
judge. "Is it reasonable that I could have lived with this girl for years
in so intimate a way and been wearing a disguise all the time? It's absurd.
She has good eyes, she would have detected this wig and false beard. Did
you ever suspect that your cousin wore a wig or a false beard?" he asked
"No," she replied, "I never did."
"Ah! And the voice? Did you ever hear your cousin speak with my voice?"
"You see," he triumphed to the magistrate. "She can't identify me as her
cousin, for the excellent reason that I'm not her cousin. You can't change
a man's personality by making him wear another man's clothes and false
hair. I tell you I'm _not_ Groener."
"Who are you then?" demanded the judge.
"I'm not obliged to say who I am, and you have no business to ask unless
you can show that I have committed a crime, which you haven't done yet.
Ask my fat friend in the corner if that isn't the law."
Maitre Cure nodded gravely in response to this appeal. "The prisoner is
correct," he said.
Here Coquenil whispered to the judge.
"Certainly," nodded the latter, and, turning to Alice, who sat wondering
and trembling through this agitated scene, he said: "Thank you,
mademoiselle, you may go."
The girl rose and, bowing gratefully and sweetly, left the room, followed
by M. Paul.
"Groener, you say that we have not yet shown you guilty of any crime. Be
patient and we will overcome that objection. Where were you about midnight
on the night of the 4th of July?"
"I can't say offhand," answered the other.
"Try to remember."
"Why should I?"
"You refuse? Then I will stimulate your memory," and again he touched the
Coquenil entered, followed by the shrimp photographer, who was evidently
"Do you recognize this man?" questioned Hauteville, studying the prisoner
"No," came the answer with a careless shrug.
The shrimp turned to the prisoner and, at the sight of him, started forward
"That is the man," he cried, "that is the man who choked me."
"One moment," said the magistrate. "What is your name?"
"Alexander Godin," piped the photographer.
"You live at the Hotel des Etrangers on the Rue Racine?"
"You are engaged to a young dressmaker who has a room near yours on the
"I _was_ engaged to her," said Alexander sorrowfully, "but there's a
medical student on the same floor and----"
"No matter. You were suspicious of this young person. And on the night of
July 4th you attacked a man passing along the balcony. Is that correct?"
The photographer put forth his thin hands, palms upward in mild protest.
"To say that I attacked him is--is a manner of speaking. The fact is
he--he--" Alexander stroked his neck ruefully.
"I understand, he turned and nearly choked you. The marks of his nails are
still on your neck?"
"They are, sir," murmured the shrimp.
"And you are sure this is the man?" he pointed to the accused.
"Perfectly sure. I'll swear to it."
"Good. Now stand still. Come here, Groener. Reach out your arms as if you
were going to choke this young man. Don't be afraid, he won't hurt you. No,
no, the other arm! I want you to put your _left_ hand, on his neck with the
nails of your thumb and fingers exactly on these marks. I said exactly.
There is the thumb--right! Now the first finger--good! Now the third! And
now the little finger! Don't cramp it up, reach it out. Ah!"
With breathless interest Coquenil watched the test, and, as the long little
finger slowly extended to its full length, he felt a sudden mad desire to
shout or leap in the pure joy of victory, for the nails of the prisoner's
left hand corresponded exactly with the nail marks on the shrimp
THIRTY IMPORTANT WORDS
"Now, Groener," resumed the magistrate after the shrimp had withdrawn, "why
were you walking along this hotel balcony on the night of July 4th?"
"I wasn't," answered the prisoner coolly.
"The photographer positively identifies you."
"He's mistaken, I wasn't there."
"Ah," smiled Hauteville, with irritating affability. "You'll need a better
defense than that."
"Whatever I need I shall have," came the sharp retort.
"Have you anything to say about those finger-nail marks?"
"There's a peculiarity about those marks, Groener. The little finger of the
hand that made them is abnormally, extraordinarily long. Experts say that
in a hundred thousand hands you will not find one with so long a little
finger, perhaps not one in a million. It happens that _you_ have such a
hand and such a little finger. Strange, is it not?"
"Call it strange, if you like," shrugged the prisoner.
"Well, _isn't_ it strange? Just think, if all the men in Paris should try
to fit their fingers in those finger marks, there would be only two or
three who could reach the extraordinary span of that little finger."
"Nonsense! There might be fifty, there might be five hundred."
"Even so, only one of those fifty or five hundred would be positively
identified as the man who choked the photographer _and that one is
yourself_. There is the point; we have against you the evidence of Godin
who _saw_ you that night and _remembers_ you, and the evidence of your own
So clearly was the charge made that, for the first time, the prisoner
dropped his scoffing manner and listened seriously.
"Admit, for the sake of argument, that I _was_ on the balcony," he said.
"Mind, I don't admit it, but suppose I was? What of it?"
"Nothing much," replied the judge grimly; "it would simply establish a
strong probability that you killed Martinez."
"The photographer saw you stealing toward Kittredge's room carrying a pair
"I don't admit it, but--what if I were?"
"A pair of Kittredge's boots are missing. They were worn by the murderer to
throw suspicion on an innocent man. They were stolen when the pistol was
stolen, and the murderer tried to return them so that they might be
discovered in Kittredge's room and found to match the alleyway footprints
and damn Kittredge."
"I don't know who Kittredge is, and I don't know what alleyway you refer
to," put in Groener.
Hauteville ignored this bravado and proceeded: "In order to steal these
boots and be able to return them the murderer must have had access to
Kittredge's room. How? The simplest way was to take a room in the same
hotel, on the same floor, opening on the same balcony. _Which is exactly
what you did!_ The photographer saw you go into it after you choked him.
You took this room for a month, but you never went back to it after the
day of the crime."
"My dear sir, all this is away from the point. Granting that I choked the
photographer, which I don't grant, and that I carried a pair of boots along
a balcony and rented a room which I didn't occupy, how does that connect me
with the murder of--what did you say his name was?"
"Martinez," answered the judge patiently.
"Ah, Martinez! Well, why did I murder this person?" asked the prisoner
facetiously. "What had I to gain by his death? Can you make that clear? Can
you even prove that I was at the place where he was murdered at the
critical moment? By the way, where _was_ the gentleman murdered? If I'm to
defend myself I ought to have some details of the affair."
The judge and Coquenil exchanged some whispered words. Then the magistrate
said quietly: "I'll give you one detail about the murderer; he is a
"Yes? And _am_ I left-handed?"
"We'll know that definitely in the morning when you undergo the Bertillon
measurements. In the meantime M. Coquenil can testify that you use your
left hand with wonderful skill."
"Referring, I suppose," sneered the prisoner, "to our imaginary encounter
on the Champs Elysees, when M. Coquenil claims to have used his teeth on my
Quick as a flash M. Paul bent toward the judge and said something in a low
"Ah, yes!" exclaimed Hauteville with a start of satisfaction. Then to
Groener: "How do you happen to know that this encounter took place on the
"Why--er--he said so just now," answered the other uneasily.
"I think not. Was the Champs Elysees mentioned, Jules?" he turned to the
Jules looked back conscientiously through his notes and shook his head.
"Nothing has been said about the Champs Elysees."
"I must have imagined it," muttered the prisoner.
"Very clever of you, Groener," said the judge dryly, "to imagine the exact
street where the encounter took place. You couldn't have done better if you
had known it."
"You see what comes of talking without the advice of counsel," remarked
Maitre Cure in funereal tones.
"Rubbish!" flung back the prisoner. "This examination is of no importance,
"Of course not, of course not," purred the magistrate. Then, abruptly, his
whole manner changed.
"Groener," he said, and his voice rang sternly, "I've been patient with you
so far, I've tolerated your outrageous arrogance and impertinence, partly
to entrap you, as I have, and partly because I always give suspected
persons a certain amount of latitude at first. Now, my friend, you've had
your little fling and--it's my turn. We are coming to a part of this
examination that you will not find quite so amusing. In fact you will
realize before you have been twenty-four hours at the Sante that----"
"I'm not going to the Sante," interrupted Groener insolently.
Hauteville motioned to the guard. "Put the handcuffs on him."
The guard stepped forward and obeyed, handling the man none too tenderly.
Whereupon the accused once more lost his fine self-control and was swept
with furious anger.
"Mark my words, Judge Hauteville," he threatened fiercely, "you have
ordered handcuffs put on a prisoner _for the last time_."
"What do you mean by that?" demanded the magistrate.
[Illustration: "'You have ordered handcuffs put on a prisoner _for the last
But almost instantly Groener had become calm again. "I beg your pardon," he
said, "I'm a little on my nerves. I'll behave myself now, I'm ready for
those things you spoke of that are not so amusing."
"That's better," approved Hauteville, but Coquenil, watching the prisoner,
shook his head doubtfully. There was something in this man's mind that they
did not understand.
"Groener," demanded the magistrate impressively, "do you still deny any
connection with this crime or any knowledge concerning it?"
"I do," answered the accused.
"As I said before, I think you are lying, I believe you killed Martinez,
but it's possible I am mistaken. I was mistaken in my first impression
about Kittredge--the evidence seemed strong against him, and I should
certainly have committed him for trial had it not been for the remarkable
work on the case done by M. Coquenil."
"I realize that," replied Groener with a swift and evil glance at the
detective, "but even M. Coquenil might make a mistake."
Back of the quiet-spoken words M. Paul felt a controlled rage and a
violence of hatred that made him mutter to himself: "It's just as well this
fellow is where he can't do any more harm!"
"I warned you," pursued the judge, "that we are coming to an unpleasant
part of this examination. It is unpleasant because it forces a guilty
person to betray himself and reveal more or less of the truth that he tries
The prisoner looked up incredulously. "You say it _forces_ him to betray
"That's practically what it does. There may be men strong enough and
self-controlled enough to resist but we haven't found such a person yet.
It's true the system is quite recently devised, it hasn't been thoroughly
tested, but so far we have had wonderful results and--it's just the thing
for your case."
Groener was listening carefully. "Why?"
"Because, if you are guilty, we shall know it, and can go on confidently
looking for certain links now missing in the chain of evidence against you.
On the other hand, if you are innocent, we shall know that, too, and--if
you _are_ innocent, Groener, here is your chance to prove it."
If the prisoner's fear was stirred he did not show it, for he answered
mockingly: "How convenient! I suppose you have a scales that registers
innocent or guilty when the accused stands on it?"
Hauteville shook his head. "It's simpler than that. We make the accused
register his own guilt or his own innocence _with his own words_."
"Whether he wishes to or not?"
The other nodded grimly. "Within certain limits--yes."
The judge opened a leather portfolio and selected several sheets of paper
ruled in squares. Then he took out his watch.
"On these sheets," he explained, "M. Coquenil and I have written down about
a hundred words, simple, everyday words, most of them, such as 'house,'
'music,' 'tree,' 'baby,' that have no particular significance; among these
words, however, we have introduced thirty that have some association with
this crime, words like 'Ansonia,' 'billiards,' 'pistol.' Do you
"I shall speak these words slowly, one by one, and when I speak a word I
want you to speak another word that my word suggests. For example, if I say
'tree,' you might say 'garden,' if I say 'house,' you might say 'chair.' Of
course you are free to say any word you please, but you will find yourself
irresistibly drawn toward certain ones according as you are innocent or
"For instance, Martinez, the Spaniard, was widely known as a billiard
player. Now, if I should say 'billiard player,' and you had no personal
feeling about Martinez, you might easily, by association of ideas, say
'Spaniard'; but, if you had killed Martinez and wished to conceal your
crime then, when I said 'billiard player' you would _not_ say 'Spaniard,'
but would choose some innocent word like table or chalk. That is a crude
illustration, but it may give you the idea."
"And is that all?" asked Groener, in evident relief.
"No, there is also the time taken in choosing a word. If I say 'pen' or
'umbrella' it may take you three quarters of a second to answer 'ink' or
'rain,' while it may take another man whose mind acts slowly a second and a
quarter or even more for his reply; each person has his or her average time
for the thought process, some longer, some shorter. But that time process
is always lengthened after one of the critical or emotional words, I mean
if the person is guilty. Thus, if I say, 'Ansonia' to you, and you are the
murderer of Martinez, it will take you one or two or three seconds longer
to decide upon a safe answering word than it would have taken if you were
_not_ the murderer and spoke the first word that came to your tongue. Do
"I see," shrugged the prisoner, "but--after all, it's only an experiment,
it never would carry weight in a court of law."
"Never is a long time," said the judge. "Wait ten years. We have a
wonderful mental microscope here and the world will learn to use it. _I_
use it now, and I happen to be in charge of this investigation."
Groener was silent, his fine dark eyes fixed keenly on the judge.
"Do you really think," he asked presently, while the old patronizing smile
flickered about his mouth, "that if I were guilty of this crime I could
not make these answers without betraying myself?"
"I'm sure you could not."
"Then if I stood the test you would believe me innocent?"
The magistrate reflected a moment. "I should be forced to believe one of
two things," he said; "either that you are innocent or that you are a man
of extraordinary mental power. I don't believe the latter so--yes, I should
think you innocent."
"Let me understand this," laughed the prisoner; "you say over a number of
words and I answer with other words. You note the exact moment when you
speak your word and the exact moment when I speak mine, then you see how
many seconds elapse between the two moments. Is that it?"
"That's it, only I have a watch that marks the fifths of a second. Are you
willing to make the test?"
"Suppose I refuse?"
"Why should you refuse if you are innocent?"
"But if I do?"
The magistrate's face hardened. "If you refuse to-day I shall know how to
_force_ you to my will another day. Did you ever hear of the third degree,
Groener?" he asked sharply.
As the judge became threatening the prisoner's good nature increased.
"After all," he said carelessly, "what does it matter? Go ahead with your
little game. It rather amuses me."
And, without more difficulty, the test began, Hauteville speaking the
prepared words and handling the stop watch while Coquenil, sitting beside
him, wrote down the answered words and the precise time intervals.
First, they established Groener's average or normal time of reply when
there was no emotion or mental effort involved. The judge said "milk" and
Groener at once, by association of ideas, said "cream"; the judge said
"smoke," Groener replied "fire"; the judge said "early," Groener said
"late"; the judge said "water," Groener answered "river"; the judge said
"tobacco," Groener answered "pipe." And the intervals varied from four
fifths of a second to a second and a fifth, which was taken as the
prisoner's average time for the untroubled thought process.
"He's clever!" reflected Coquenil. "He's establishing a slow average."
Then began the real test, the judge going deliberately through the entire
list which included thirty important words scattered among seventy
unimportant ones. The thirty important words were:
1. NOTRE DAME. 16. DETECTIVE.
2. EYEHOLE. 17. BRAZIL.
3. WATCHDOG. 18. CANARY BIRD.
4. PHOTOGRAPHER. 19. ALICE.
5. GUILLOTINE. 20. RED SKY.
6. CHAMPS ELYSEES. 21. ASSASSIN.
7. FALSE BEARD. 22. BOOTS.
8. BRUSSELS. 23. MARY.
9. GIBELIN. 24. COACHING PARTY.
10. SACRISTAN. 25. JAPANESE PRINT.
11. VILLA MONTMORENCY. 26. CHARITY BAZAAR.
12. RAOUL. 27. FOOTPRINTS.
13. DREAMS. 28. MARGARET.
14. AUGER. 29. RED HAIR.
15. JIU JITSU. 30. FOURTH OF JULY.
They went through this list slowly, word by word, with everything carefully
recorded, which took nearly an hour; then they turned back to the beginning
and went through the list again, so that, to the hundred original words,
Groener gave two sets of answering words, most of which proved to be the
same, especially in the seventy unimportant words. Thus both times he
answered "darkness" for "light," "tea" for "coffee," "clock" for "watch,"
and "handle" for "broom." There were a few exceptions as when he answered
"salt" for "sugar" the first time and "sweet" for "sugar" the second time;
almost always, however, his memory brought back, automatically, the same
unimportant word at the second questioning that he had given at the first
It was different, however, with the important words, as Hauteville pointed
out when the test was finished, in over half the cases the accused had
answered different words in the two questionings.
"You made up your mind, Groener," said the judge as he glanced over the
sheets, "that you would answer the critical words within your average time
of reply and you have done it, but you have betrayed yourself in another
way, as I knew you would. In your desire to answer quickly you repeatedly
chose words that you would not have chosen if you had reflected longer;
then, in going through the list a second time, you realized this and
improved on your first answers by substituting more innocent words. For
example, the first time you answered 'hole' when I said 'auger,' but the
second time you answered 'hammer.' You said to yourself: 'Hole is not a
good answer because he will think I am thinking, of those eyeholes, so
I'll change it to "hammer" which, means nothing.' For the same reason when
I said 'Fourth of July' you answered 'banquet' the first time and 'America'
the second time, which shows that the Ansonia banquet was in your mind. And
when I said 'watchdog' you answered first 'scent' and then 'tail'; when I
said 'Brazil' you answered first 'ship' and then 'coffee,' when I said
'dreams' you answered first 'fear' and then 'sleep'; you made these changes
with the deliberate purpose to get as far away as possible from
associations with the crime."
"Not at all," contradicted Groener, "I made the changes because every word
has many associations and I followed the first one that came into my head.
When we went through the list a second time I did not remember or try to
remember the answers I had given the first time."
"Ah, but that is just the point," insisted the magistrate, "in the seventy
unimportant words you _did_ remember and you _did_ answer practically the
same words both times, your memory only failed in the thirty important
words. Besides, in spite of your will power, the test reveals emotional
"In me?" scoffed the prisoner.
"Precisely. It is true you kept your answers to the important words within
your normal tone of reply, but in at least five cases you went beyond this
normal time in answering the _unimportant_ words."
Groener shrugged his shoulders. "The words are unimportant and so are the
"Do you think so? Then explain this. You were answering regularly at the
rate of one answer in a second or so when suddenly you hesitated and
clenched your hands and waited _four and two fifths seconds_ before
answering 'feather' to the simple word 'hat.'"
"Perhaps I was tired, perhaps I was bored."
The magistrate leaned nearer. "Yes, and perhaps you were inwardly disturbed
by the shock and strain of answering the _previous_ word quickly and
unconcernedly. I didn't warn you of that danger. Do you know what the
previous word was?"
"_It was guillotine!_"
"Ah?" said the prisoner, absolutely impassive.
"And why did you waver and wipe your brow and draw in your breath quickly
and wait _six and one fifth seconds_ before answering 'violin' when I gave
you the word 'music'?"
"I'm sure I don't know."
"Then I'll tell you; it was because you were again deeply agitated by the
previous word 'coaching party' which you had answered instantly with
"I don't see anything agitating in the word 'coaching party,'" said
Hauteville measured the prisoner for a moment in grim silence, then,
throwing into his voice and manner all the impressiveness of his office and
his stern personality he said: "And why did you start from your seat and
tremble nervously and wait _nine and four fifths seconds_ before you were
able to answer 'salad' to the word 'potato'?"
Groener stared stolidly at the judge and did not speak.
"Shall I tell you why? It was because your heart was pounding, your head
throbbing, your whole mental machinery was clogged and numbed by the shock
of the word before, by the terror that went through you _when you answered
'worsted work' to 'Charity Bazaar.'_"
The prisoner bounded to his feet with a hoarse cry: "My God, you have no
right to torture me like this!" His face was deathly white, his eyes were
"We've got him going now," muttered Coquenil.
"Sit down!" ordered the judge. "You can stop this examination very easily
by telling the truth."
The prisoner dropped back weakly on his chair and sat with eyes closed and
head fallen forward. He did not speak.
"Do you hear, Groener?" continued Hauteville. "You can save yourself a
great deal of trouble by confessing your part in this crime. Look here!
With an effort the man straightened up and met the judge's eyes. His face
was drawn as with physical pain.
"I--I feel faint," he murmured. "Could you--give me a little brandy?"
"Here," said Coquenil, producing a flask. "Let him have a drop of this."
The guard put the flask to the prisoner's lips and Groener took several
"Thanks!" he whispered.
"I told you it wouldn't be amusing," said the magistrate grimly. "Come now,
it's one thing or the other, either you confess or we go ahead."
"I have nothing to confess, I know nothing about this crime--nothing."
"Then what was the matter with you just now?"
With a flash of his former insolence the prisoner answered: "Look at that
clock and you'll see what was the matter. It's after ten, you've had me
here for five hours and--I've had no food since noon. It doesn't make a man
a murderer because he's hungry, does it?"
The plea seemed reasonable and the prisoner's distress genuine, but,
somehow, Coquenil was skeptical; he himself had eaten nothing since midday,
he had been too busy and absorbed, and he was none the worse for it;
besides, he remembered what a hearty luncheon the wood carver had eaten
and he could not quite believe in this sudden exhaustion. Several times,
furthermore, he fancied he had caught Groener's eye fixed anxiously on the
clock. Was it possible the fellow was trying to gain time? But why? How
could that serve him? What could he be waiting for?
As the detective puzzled over this there shot through his mind an idea for
a move against Groener's resistance, so simple, yet promising such dramatic
effectiveness that he turned quickly to Hauteville and said: "I _think_ it
might be as well to let him have some supper."
The judge nodded in acquiescence and directed the guard to take the
prisoner into the outer office and have something to eat brought in for
"Well," he asked when they were alone, "what is it?"
Then, for several minutes Coquenil talked earnestly, convincingly, while
the magistrate listened.
"It ought not to take more than an hour or so to get the things here,"
concluded the detective, "and if I read the signs right, it will just about
"Possibly, possibly," reflected the judge. "Anyhow it's worth trying," and
he gave the necessary orders to his clerk. "Let Tignol go," he directed.
"Tell him to wake the man up, if he's in bed, and not to mind what it
costs. Tell him to take an auto. Hold on, I'll speak to him myself."
The clerk waited respectfully at the door as the judge hurried out,
whereupon Coquenil, lighting a cigarette, moved to the open window and
stood there for a long time blowing contemplative smoke rings into the
quiet summer night.
THE MOVING PICTURE
"Are you feeling better?" asked the judge an hour later when the accused
was led back.
"Yes," answered Groener with recovered self-possession, and again the
detective noticed that he glanced anxiously at the clock. It was a quarter
"We will have the visual test now," said Hauteville; "we must go to another
room. Take the prisoner to Dr. Duprat's laboratory," he directed the guard.
Passing down the wide staircase, strangely silent now, they entered a long
narrow passageway leading to a remote wing of the Palais de Justice. First
went the guard with Groener close beside him, then twenty paces, behind
came M. Paul and the magistrate and last came the weary clerk with Maitre
Cure. Their footsteps, echoed ominously along the stone floor, their
shadows danced fantastically before them and behind them under gas jets
that flared through the tunnel.
"I hope this goes off well," whispered the judge uneasily. "You don't think
they have forgotten anything?"
"Trust Papa Tignol to obey orders," replied Coquenil. "Ah!" he started and
gripped his companion's arm. "Do you remember what I told you about those
alleyway footprints? About the pressure marks? Look!" and he pointed ahead
excitedly. "I knew it, he has gout or rheumatism, just touches that come
and go. He had it that night when he escaped from the Ansonia and he has
it now. See!"
The judge observed the prisoner carefully and nodded in agreement. There
was no doubt about it, as he walked _Groener was limping noticeably on his
Dr. Duprat was waiting for them in his laboratory, absorbed in recording
the results of his latest experiments. A kind-eyed, grave-faced man was
this, who, for all his modesty, was famous over Europe as a brilliant
worker in psychological criminology. Bertillon had given the world a method
of identifying criminals' bodies, and now Duprat was perfecting a method of
recognizing their mental states, especially any emotional disturbances
connected with fear, anger or remorse.
Entering the laboratory, they found themselves in a large room, quite dark,
save for an electric lantern at one end that threw a brilliant circle on a
sheet stretched at the other end. The light reflected from this sheet
showed the dim outlines of a tiered amphitheater before which was a long
table spread with strange-looking instruments, electrical machines and
special apparatus for psychological experiments. On the walls were charts
and diagrams used by the doctor in his lectures.
"Everything ready?" inquired the magistrate after an exchange of greetings
with Dr. Duprat.
"Everything," answered the latter. "Is this the--er--the subject?" he
glanced at the prisoner.
Hauteville nodded and the doctor beckoned to the guard.
"Please bring him over here. That's right--in front of the lantern." Then
he spoke gently to Groener: "Now, my friend, we are not going to do
anything that will cause you the slightest pain or inconvenience. These
instruments look formidable, but they are really good friends, for they
help us to understand one another. Most of the trouble in this world comes
because half the people do not understand the other half. Please turn
sideways to the light."
For some moments he studied the prisoner in silence.
"Interesting, _ve_-ry interesting," murmured the doctor, his fine student's
face alight. "Especially the lobe of this ear! I will leave a note about it
for Bertillon himself, he mustn't miss the lobe of this ear. Please turn a
little for the back of the head. Thanks! Great width! Extraordinary
fullness. Now around toward the light! The eyes--ah! The brow--excellent!
Yes, yes, I know about the hand," he nodded to Coquenil, "but the head is
even more remarkable. I must study this head when we have time--_ve_-ry
remarkable. Tell me, my friend, do you suffer from sudden shooting
pains--here, over your eyes?"
"No," said Groener.
"No? I should have thought you might. Well, well!" he proceeded kindly, "we
must have a talk one of these days. Perhaps I can make some suggestions. I
see so _many_ heads, but--not many like yours, no, no, not many like
He paused and glanced toward an assistant who was busy with the lantern.
The assistant looked up and nodded respectfully.
"Ah, we can begin," continued the doctor. "We must have these off," he
pointed to the handcuffs. "Also the coat. Don't be alarmed! You will
experience nothing unpleasant--nothing. There! Now I want the right arm
bare above the elbow. No, no, it's the left arm, I remember, I want the
left arm bare above the elbow."
When these directions had been carried out, Dr. Duprat pointed to a heavy
wooden chair with a high back and wide arms.
"Please sit here," he went on, "and slip your left arm into this leather
sleeve. It's a little tight because it has a rubber lining, but you won't
mind it after a minute or two."
Groener walked to the chair and then drew back. "What are you going to do
to me?" he asked.
"We are going to show you some magic lantern pictures," answered the
"Why must I sit in this chair? Why do you want my arm in that leather
"I told you, Groener," put in the judge, "that we were coming here for the
visual test; it's part of your examination. Some pictures of persons and
places will be thrown on that sheet and, as each one appears, I want you to
say what it is. Most of the pictures are familiar to everyone."
"Yes, but the leather sleeve?" persisted the prisoner.
"The leather sleeve is like the stop watch, it records your emotions. Sit
Groener hesitated and the guard pushed him toward the chair. "Wait!" he
said. "I want to know _how_ it records my emotions."
The magistrate answered with a patience that surprised M. Paul.
"There is a pneumatic arrangement," he explained, "by which the
pulsations of your heart and the blood pressure in your arteries
are registered--automatically. Now then! I warn you if you don't
sit down willingly--well, you had better sit down."
Coquenil was watching closely and, through the prisoner's half shut eyes,
he caught a flash of anger, a quick clenching of the freed hands and
then--then Groener sat down.
Quickly and skillfully the assistant adjusted the leather sleeve over the
bared left arm and drew it close with straps.
"Not too tight," said Duprat. "You feel a sense of throbbing at first, but
it is nothing. Besides, we shall take the sleeve off shortly. Now then," he
turned toward the lantern.
Immediately a familiar scene appeared upon the sheet, a colored photograph
of the Place de la Concorde.
"What is it?" asked the doctor pleasantly.
The prisoner was silent.
"You surely recognize this picture. Look! The obelisk and the fountain, the
Tuileries gardens, the arches of the Rue de Rivoli, and the Madeleine,
there at the end of the Rue Royale. Come, what is it?"
"The Place de la Concorde," answered Groener sullenly.
"Of course. You see how simple it is. Now another."
The picture changed to a view of the grand opera house and at the same
moment a point of light appeared in the headpiece back of the chair. It was
shaded so that the prisoner could not see it and it illumined a graduated
white dial on which was a glass tube about thirty inches long, the whole
resembling a barometer. Inside the tube a red column moved regularly up and
down, up and down, in steady beats and Coquenil understood that this column
was registering the beating of Groener's heart. Standing behind the chair,
the doctor, the magistrate, and the detective could at the same time watch
the pulsating column and the pictures on the sheet; but the prisoner could
not see the column, he did not know it was there, he saw only the pictures.
"What is that?" asked the doctor.
Groener had evidently decided to make the best of the situation for he
answered at once: "The grand opera house."
"Good! Now another! What is that?"
"The Bastille column."
"Right! And this?"
"The Champs Elysees."
So far the beats had come uniformly about one in a second, for the man's
pulse was slow; at each beat the liquid in the tube shot up six inches and
then dropped six inches, but, at the view of Notre-Dame, the column rose
only three inches, then dropped back and shot up seven inches.
The doctor nodded gravely while Coquenil, with breathless interest, with a,
morbid fascination, watched the beating of this red column. It was like the
beating of red blood.
As the picture changed there was a quiver in the pulsating column, a
hesitation with a quick fluttering at the bottom of the stroke, then the
red line shot up full nine inches.
M. Paul glanced at the sheet and saw a perfect reproduction of private room
Number Six in the Ansonia. Everything was there as on the night of the
crime, the delicate yellow hangings, the sofa, the table set for two. And,
slowly, as they looked, two holes appeared in the wall. Then a dim shape
took form upon the floor, more and more distinctly until the dissolving
lens brought a man's body into clear view, a body stretched face downward
in a dark red pool that grew and widened, slowly straining and wetting the
"Groener," said the magistrate, his voice strangely formidable in the
shadows, "do you recognize this room?"
"No," said the prisoner impassively, but the column was pulsing wildly.
"You have been in this room?"
"Nor looked through these eyeholes?"
"Nor seen that man lying on the floor?"
Now the prisoner's heart was beating evenly again, somehow he had regained
"You are lying, Groener," accused the judge. "You remember this man
perfectly. Come, we will lift him from the floor and look him in the face,
full in the face. There!" He signaled the lantern operator and there leaped
forth on the sheet the head of Martinez, the murdered, mutilated head with
shattered eye and painted cheeks and the greenish death pallor showing
underneath. A ghastly, leering cadaver in collar and necktie, dressed up
and photographed at the morgue, and now flashed hideously at the prisoner
out of the darkness. Yet Groener's heart pulsed on steadily with only a
slight quickening, with less quickening than Coquenil felt in his own
"Who is it?" demanded the judge.
"I don't know," declared the accused.
Again the picture changed.
"Who is this?"
Here, suddenly, at the view of England's peaceful sovereign, Groener seemed
thrown into frightful agitation, not Groener as he sat on the chair, cold
and self-contained, but Groener as revealed by the unsuspected dial. Up and
down in mad excitement leaped the red column with many little breaks and
quiverings at the bottom of the beats and with tremendous up-shootings as
if the frightened heart were trying to burst the tube with its spurting red
The doctor put his mouth close to Coquenil's ear and whispered: "It's the
shock showing now, the shock that he held back after the body."
Then he leaned over Groener's shoulder and asked kindly: "Do you feel your
heart beating fast, my friend?"
"No," murmured the prisoner, "my--my heart is beating as usual."
"You will certainly recognize the next picture," pursued the judge. "It
shows a woman and a little girl! There! Do you know these faces, Groener?"
As he spoke there appeared the fake photograph that Coquenil had found in
Brussels, Alice at the age of twelve with the smooth young widow.
The prisoner shook his head. "I don't know them--I never saw them."
"Groener," warned the magistrate, "there is no use keeping up this denial,
you have betrayed yourself already."
"No," cried the prisoner with a supreme rally of his will power, "I have
betrayed nothing--nothing," and, once more, while the doctor marveled, his
pulse steadied and strengthened and grew normal.
"What a man!" muttered Coquenil.
"We know the facts," went on Hauteville sternly, "we know why you killed
Martinez and why you disguised yourself as a wood carver."
The prisoner's face lighted with a mocking smile. "If you know all that,
why waste time questioning me?"
"You're a good actor, sir, but we shall strip off your mask and quiet your
impudence. Look at the girl in this _false_ picture which you had cunningly
made in Brussels. Look at her! Who is she? There is the key to the mystery!
There is the reason for your killing Martinez! _He knew the truth about
Now the prisoner's pulse was running wild, faster and faster, but with no
more violent spurtings and leapings; the red column throbbed swiftly and
faintly at the bottom of the tube as if the heart were weakening.
"A hundred and sixty to the minute," whispered Duprat to the magistrate.
"It is dangerous to go on."
Hauteville shrugged his shoulders.
"Martinez knew the truth," he went on, "Martinez held your secret. How had
Martinez come upon it? Who was Martinez? A billiard player, a shallow
fellow, vain of his conquests over silly women. The last man in Paris, one
would say, to interfere with your high purposes or penetrate the barriers
of wealth and power that surrounded you."
"You--you flatter me! What am I, pray, a marquis or a duke?" chaffed the
other, but the trembling dial belied his gayety, and even from the side
Coquenil could see that the man's face was as tense and pallid as the sheet
"As I said, the key to this murder," pursued the magistrate, "is the secret
that Martinez held. Without that nothing can be understood and no justice
can be done. The whole aim of this investigation has been to get the secret
and _we have got it!_ Groener, you have delivered yourself into our hands,
you have written this secret for us in words of terror and we have read
them, we know what Martinez knew when you took his life, we know the story
of the medal that he wore on his breast. Do _you_ know the story?"
"I tell you I know nothing about this man or his medal," flung back the
"No? Then you will be glad to hear the story. It was a medal of solid gold,
awarded Martinez by the city of Paris for conspicuous bravery in saving
lives at the terrible Charity Bazaar fire. You have heard of the Charity
Bazaar fire, Groener?"
"Yes, I--I have heard of it."
"But perhaps you never heard the details or, if you did, you may have
forgotten them. _Have_ you forgotten the details of the Charity Bazaar
Charity Bazaar fire! Three times, with increasing emphasis, the magistrate
had spoken those sinister words, yet the dial gave no sign, the red column
throbbed on steadily.
"I am not interested in the subject," answered the accused.
"Ah, but you are, or you ought to be. It was such a shocking affair.
Hundreds burned to death, think of that! Cowardly men trampling women and
children! Our noblest families plunged into grief and bereavement!
Princesses burned to death! Duchesses burned to death! Beautiful women
burned to death! _Rich women burned to death!_ Think of it, Groener, and--"
he signaled the operator, "_and look at it!_"
As he spoke the awful tragedy began in one of those extraordinary moving
pictures that the French make after a catastrophe, giving to the imitation
even greater terrors than were in the genuine happening. Here before them
now leaped redder and fiercer flames than ever crackled through the real
Charity Bazaar; here were women and children perishing in more savage
torture than the actual victims endured; here were horrors piled on
horrors, exaggerated horrors, manufactured horrors, until the spectacle
became unendurable, until one all but heard the screams and breathed the
sickening odor of burning human flesh.
Coquenil had seen this picture in one of the boulevard theaters and,
straightway, after the precious nine-second clew of the word test, he had
sent Papa Tignol off for it posthaste, during the supper intermission. If
the mere word "Charity Bazaar" had struck this man dumb with fear what
would the thing itself do, the revolting, ghastly thing?
That was the question now, what would this hideous moving picture do to a
fire-fearing assassin already on the verge of collapse? Would it break the
last resistance of his overwrought nerves or would he still hold out?
Silently, intently the three men waited, bending over the dial as the test
proceeded, as the fiends of torture and death swept past in lurid triumph.
The picture machine whirled on with droning buzz, the accused sat still,
eyes on the sheet, the red column pulsed steadily, up and down, up and
down, now a little higher, now a little quicker, but--for a minute, for two
minutes--nothing decisive happened, nothing that they had hoped for; yet
Coquenil felt, he knew that something was going to happen, he _knew_ it by
the agonized tension of the room, by the atmosphere of _pain_ about them.
If Groener had not spoken, he himself, in the poignancy of his own
distress, must have cried out or stamped on the floor or broken something,
just to end the silence.
Then, suddenly, the tension snapped, the prisoner sprang to his feet and,
tearing his arm from the leather sleeve, he faced his tormentors
desperately, eyes blazing, features convulsed:
"No, no, no!" he shrieked. "You dogs! You cowards!"
"Lights up," ordered Hauteville. Then to the guard: "Put the handcuffs on
[Illustration: "'No, no, no!' he shrieked. 'You dogs! You cowards!'"]
But the prisoner would not be silenced. "What does all this prove?" he
screamed in rage. "Nothing! Nothing! You make me look at disgusting,
abominable pictures and--why _shouldn't_ my heart beat? Anybody's heart
would beat--if he had a heart."
The judge paid no attention to this outburst, but went on in a tone as keen
and cold as a knife: "Before you go to your cell, Groener, you shall hear
what we charge against you. Your wife perished in the Charity Bazaar fire.
She was a very rich woman, probably an American, who had been married
before and who had a daughter by her previous marriage. That daughter is
the girl you call Alice. Her true name is Mary. She was in the fire with
her mother and was rescued by Martinez, but the shock of seeing her mother
burned to death _and, perhaps, the shock of seeing you refuse to save her
"It's a lie!" yelled the prisoner.
"All this terror and anguish caused a violent mental disturbance in the
girl and resulted in a failure of her memory. When she came out of the fire
it was as if a curtain had fallen over her past life, she had lost the
sense of her own personality, she did not know her own name, she was
helpless, you could do as you pleased with her. _And she was a great
heiress!_ If she lived, she inherited her mother's fortune; if she died,
this fortune reverted to you. So shrinking, perhaps, from the actual
killing of this girl, you destroyed her identity; you gave it out that she,
too, had perished in the flames and you proceeded to enjoy her stolen
fortune while she sold candles in Notre-Dame church."
"You have no proof of it!" shouted Groener.
"No? What is this?" and he signaled the operator, whereupon the lights went
down and the picture of Alice and the widow appeared again. "There is the
girl whom you have wronged and defrauded. Now watch the woman, your
Brussels accomplice, watch her carefully--carefully," he motioned to the
operator and the smooth young widow faded gradually, while the face and
form of another woman took her place beside the girl. "Now we have the
picture as it was before you falsified it. Do you recognize _this_ face?"
"No," answered the prisoner, but his heart was pounding.
"It is your wife. Look!"
Under the picture came the inscription: "_To my dear husband Raoul with the
love of Margaret and her little Mary_."
"I wish we had the dial on him now," whispered Duprat to M. Paul.
"There are your two victims!" accused the magistrate. "Mary and Margaret!
How long do you suppose it will take us to identify them among the Charity
Bazaar unfortunates? It is a matter of a few hours' record searching. What
must we look for? A rich American lady who married a Frenchman. Her name is
Margaret. She had a daughter named Mary. The Frenchman's name is Raoul and
he probably has a title. We have, also, the lady's photograph and the
daughter's photograph and a specimen of the lady's handwriting. Could
anything be simpler? The first authority we meet on noble fortune hunters
will tell us all about it. And then, M. Adolf Groener, we shall know
whether it is a, marquis or a duke whose name _must be added to the list of
He paused for a reply, but none came. The guard moved suddenly in the
shadows and called for help.
"Lights!" said the doctor sharply and, as the lamps shone out, the prisoner
was seen limp and white, sprawling over a chair.
Duprat hurried to him and pressed an ear to his heart.
"He has fainted," said the doctor.
Coquenil looked half pityingly at his stricken adversary. "Down and out,"
Duprat, meantime, was working over the prisoner, rubbing his wrists,
loosening his shirt and collar.
"Ammonia--quick," he said to his assistant, and a moment later, with the
strong fumes at his nostrils, Groener stirred and opened his eyes weakly.
Just then a sound was heard in the distance as of a galloping horse. The
white-faced prisoner started and listened eagerly. Nearer and nearer came
the rapid hoof beats, echoing through the deserted streets. Now the horse
was crossing the little bridge near the hospital, now he was coming madly
down the Boulevard du Palais. Who was this rider dashing so furiously
through the peaceful night?
As they all turned wondering, the horse drew up suddenly before the palace
and a voice was heard in sharp command. Then the great iron gates swung
open and the horse stamped in.
Hauteville hurried to the open window and stood there listening. Just below
him in the courtyard he made out of the flashing helmet and imposing
uniform of a mounted _garde de Paris_. And he caught some quick words that
made him start.
"A messenger from the Prime Minister," muttered the judge, "on urgent
business _with me_."
Groener heard and, with a long sigh, sank back against the chair and closed
his eyes, but Coquenil noticed uneasily that just a flicker of the old
patronizing smile was playing about his pallid lips.
In accordance with orders, Papa Tignol appeared at the Villa Montmorency
betimes the next morning. It was a perfect summer's day and the old man's
heart was light as he walked up the Avenue des Tilleuls, past vine-covered
walls and smiling gardens.
"Eh, eh!" he chuckled, "it's good to be alive on a day like this and to
know what _I_ know."
He was thinking, with a delicious thrill, of the rapid march of events in
the last twenty-four hours, of the keen pursuit, the tricks and disguises,
the anxiety and the capture and then of the great coup of the evening. _Bon
dieu_, what a day!
And now the chase was over! The murderer was tucked away safely in a cell
at the depot. Ouf, he had given them some bad moments, this wood carver!
But for M. Paul they would never have caught the slippery devil, never! Ah,
what a triumph for M. Paul! He would have the whole department bowing down
to him now. And Gibelin! Eh, eh! Gibelin!
Tignol closed the iron gate carefully behind him and walked down the
graveled walk with as little crunching as possible. He had an idea that
Coquenil might still be sleeping and if anyone in Paris had earned a long
sleep it was Paul Coquenil.
To his surprise, however, the detective was not only up and dressed, but he
was on his knees in the study before a large leather bag into which he was
hastily throwing various garments brought down by the faithful Melanie,
whose joy at having her master home again was evidently clouded by this
prospect of an imminent departure.
"Ah, Papa Tignol!" said M. Paul as the old man entered, but there was no
heartiness in his tone. "Sit down, sit down."
Tignol sank back in one of the red-leather chairs and waited wonderingly.
This was not the buoyant reception he had expected.
"Is anything wrong?" he asked finally.
"Why--er--why, yes," nodded Coquenil, but he went on packing and did not
say what was wrong. And Tignol did not ask.
"Going away?" he ventured after a silence.
M. Paul shut the bag with a jerk and tightened the side straps, then he
threw himself wearily into a chair.
"Yes, I--I'm going away."
The detective leaned back and closed his eyes, he looked worn and gray.
Tignol watched him anxiously through a long silence. What could be the
trouble? What had happened? He had never seen M. Paul like this, so broken
and--one would say, discouraged. And this was the moment of his triumph,
the proudest moment in his career. It must be the reaction from these days
of strain, yes that was it.
M. Paul opened his eyes and said in a dull tone: "Did you take the girl to
Pougeot last night?"
"Yes, she's all right. The commissary says he will look after her as if she
were his own daughter until he hears from you."
"Good! And--you showed her the ring?"
The old man nodded. "She understands, she will be careful, but--there's
nothing for her to worry about now--is there?"
Coquenil's face darkened. "You'd better let me have the ring before I
"Thanks!" He slipped the old talisman on his finger, and then, after a
troubled pause, he said: "There is more for her to worry about than ever."
"More? You mean on account of Groener?"
"But he's caught, he's in prison."
The detective shook his head. "He's not in prison."
"Not in prison?"
"He was set at liberty about--about two o'clock this morning."
Tignol stared stupidly, scarcely taking in the words. "But--but he's
"You have all this evidence against him?"
"Then--then _how_ is he at liberty?" stammered the other.
Coquenil reached for a match, struck it deliberately and lighted a
"_By order of the Prime Minister_," he said quietly, and blew out a long
white fragrant cloud.
"You mean--without trial?"
"Yes--without trial. He's a very important person, Papa Tignol."
The old man scratched his head in perplexity. "I didn't know anybody was
too important to be tried for murder."
"He _can't_ be tried until he's committed for trial by a judge."
"Well? And Hauteville?"
"Hauteville will never commit him."
"Because Hauteville has been removed from office."
"His commission was revoked this morning by order of the Minister of
"Judge Hauteville--discharged!" murmured Tignol, in bewilderment.
Coquenil nodded and then added sorrowfully: "And you, too, my poor friend.
_Everyone_ who has had anything to do with this case, from the highest to
the lowest, will suffer. We all made a frightful mistake, they say, in
daring to arrest and persecute this most distinguished and honorable
citizen. Ha, ha!" he concluded bitterly as he lighted another cigarette.
"_C'est epatant!_" exclaimed Tignol. "He must be a rich devil!"
"He's rich and--much more."
"Whe-ew! He must be a senator or--or something like that?"
"Much more," said Coquenil grimly.
"More than a senator? Then--then a cabinet minister? No, it isn't
"He is more important than a cabinet minister, far more important."
"Holy snakes!" gasped Tignol. "I don't see anything left except the Prime
"This man is so highly placed," declared Coquenil gravely, "he is so
"Stop!" interrupted the other. "I know. He was in that coaching party; he
killed the dog, it was--it was the Duke de Montreuil."
"No, it was not," replied Coquenil. "The Duke de Montreuil is rich and
powerful, as men go in France, but this man is of international
importance, his fortune amounts to a thousand million francs, at least, and
his power is--well--he could treat the Duke de Montreuil like a valet."
"Who--who is he?"
Coquenil pointed to his table where a book lay open. "Do you see that red
book? It's the _Annuaire de la Noblesse Francaise_. You'll find his name
there--marked with a pencil."
Tignol went eagerly to the table, then, as he glanced at the printed page
there came over his face an expression of utter amazement.
"It isn't possible!" he cried.
"I know," agreed Coquenil, "it isn't possible, but--_it's true!_"
"_Dieu de Dieu de Dieu!_" frowned the old man, bobbing his cropped head and
tugging at his sweeping black mustache. Then slowly in awe-struck tones he
read from the great authority on French titles:
BARON FELIX RAOUL DE HEIDELMANN-BRUCK, only son of the Baron
Georges Raoul de Heidelmann-Bruck, upon whom the title was
conferred for industrial activities under the Second Empire. B.
Jan. 19, 1863. Lieutenant in the 45th cuirassiers, now retired. Has
extensive iron and steel works near St. Etienne. Also naval
construction yards at Brest. Member of the Jockey Club, the Cercle
de la Rue Royale, the Yacht Club of France, the Automobile Club,
the Aero Club, etc. Decorations: Commander of the Legion of Honor,
the order of St. Maurice and Lazare (Italy), the order of Christ
(Portugal), etc. Address: Paris, Hotel Rue de Varennes Chateau near
Langier, Touraine. Married Mrs. Elizabeth Coogan, who perished with
her daughter Mary in the Charity Bazaar fire.
"You see, it's all there," said M. Paul. "His name is Raoul and his wife's
name was Margaret. She died in the Charity Bazaar fire, and his
stepdaughter Mary is put down as having died there, too. We know where
"The devil! The devil! The devil!" muttered Tignol, his nut-cracker face
screwed up in comical perplexity. "This will rip things wide, _wide_ open."
The detective shook his head. "It won't rip anything open."
"But if he is guilty?"
"No one will know it, no one would believe it."
"_You_ know it, you can prove it."
"How can I prove it? The courts are closed against me. And even if they
weren't, do you suppose it would be possible to convict the Baron de
Heidelmann-Bruck of _any_ crime? Nonsense! He's the most powerful man in
France. He controls the banks, the bourse, the government. He can cause a
money panic by lifting his hand. He can upset the ministry by a word over
the telephone. He financed the campaign that brought in the present radical
government, and his sister is the wife of the Prime Minister."
"_And he killed Martinez!_" added Tignol.
For fully a minute the two men faced each other in silence. M. Paul lighted
"Couldn't you tell what you know in the newspapers?"
"No newspaper in France would dare to print it," said Coquenil gravely.
"Perhaps there is some mistake," suggested the other, "perhaps he isn't the
The detective opened his table drawer and drew out several photographs.
"Look at those!"
One by one Tignol studied the photographs. "It's the man we arrested, all
right--without the beard."
"It's the Baron de Heidelmann-Bruck," said Coquenil.
Tignol gazed at the pictures with a kind of fascination.
"How many millions did you say he has?"
"A thousand--or more."
"A thousand millions!" He screwed up his face again and pulled reflectively
on his long red nose. "And I put the handcuffs on him! Holy camels!"
Coquenil lighted another cigarette and breathed in the smoke deeply.
"Aren't you smoking too many of those things? That makes five in ten
M. Paul shrugged his shoulders. "What's the difference?"
"I see, you're thinking out some plan," approved the other.
"Plan for what?"
"For putting this thousand-million-franc devil where he belongs," grinned
the old man.
The detective eyed his friend keenly. "Papa Tignol, that's the prettiest
compliment anyone ever paid me. In spite of all I have said you have
confidence that I could do this man up--_somehow_, eh?"
"I don't know, I don't know," reflected Coquenil, and a shadow of sadness
fell over his pale, weary face. "Perhaps I could, but--I'm not going to
"You--you're not going to try?"
"No, I'm through, I wash my hands of the case. The Baron de
Heidelmann-Bruck can sleep easily as far as I am concerned."
Tignol bounded to his feet and his little eyes flashed indignantly. "I
don't believe it," he cried. "I won't have it. You can't tell me Paul
Coquenil is afraid. _Are_ you afraid?"
"I don't think so," smiled the other.
"And Paul Coquenil hasn't been bought? He _can't_ be bought--can he?"
"I hope not."
"Then--then what in thunder do you mean," he demanded fiercely, "by saying
you drop this case?"
M. Paul felt in his coat pocket and drew out a folded telegram. "Read that,
old friend," he answered with emotion, "and--and thank you for your good
Slowly Tignol read the contents of the blue sheet.
M. PAUL COQUENIL, Villa Montmorency, Paris.
House and barn destroyed by incendiary fire in night. Your mother
saved, but seriously injured. M. Abel says insurance policy had
lapsed. Come at once.
"_Quel malheur! Quel malheur!_" exclaimed the old man. "My poor M. Paul!
Forgive me! I'm a stupid fool," and he grasped his companion's hand in
"It's all right, you didn't understand," said the other gently.
"And you--you think it's _his_ doing?"
"Of course. He must have given the order in that cipher dispatch to Dubois.
Dubois is a secret agent of the government. He communicated with the Prime
Minister, but the Prime Minister was away inaugurating a statue; he didn't
return until after midnight. That is why the man wasn't set at liberty
sooner. No wonder he kept looking at the clock."
"And Dubois telegraphed to have this hellish thing done?"
"Yes, yes, they had warned me, they had killed my dog, and--and now they
have struck at my mother." He bent down his head on his hands. "She's all
I've got, Tignol, she's seventy years old and--infirm and--no, no, I quit,
In his distress and perplexity the old man could think of nothing to say;
he simply tugged at his fierce mustache and swore hair-raising oaths under
"And the insurance?" he asked presently. "What does that mean?"
"I sent the renewal money to this lawyer Abel," answered Coquenil in a dull
tone. "They have used him against me to--to take my savings. I had put
about all that I had into this home for my mother. You see they want to
break my heart and--they've just about done it."
He was silent a moment, then glanced quickly at his watch. "Come, we have
no time to lose. My train leaves in an hour. I have important things to
explain--messages for Pougeot and the girl--I'll tell you in the carriage."
Five minutes later they were speeding swiftly in an automobile toward the
Eastern railway station.
* * * * *
There followed three days of pitiful anxiety for Coquenil. His mother's
health was feeble at the best, and the shock of this catastrophe, the
sudden awakening in the night to find flames roaring about her, the
difficult rescue, and the destruction of her peaceful home, all this was
very serious for the old lady; indeed, there were twenty-four hours during
which the village doctor could offer small comfort to the distracted son.
Madam Coquenil, however, never wavered in her sweet faith that all was
well. She was comfortable now in the home of a hospitable neighbor and
declared she would soon be on her feet again. It was this faith that saved
her, vowed Ernestine, her devoted companion; but the doctor laughed and
said it was the presence of M. Paul.
At any rate, within the week all danger was past and Coquenil observed
uneasily that, along with her strength and gay humor, his mother was
rapidly recovering her faculty of asking embarrassing questions and of
understanding things that had not been told her. In the matter of keen
intuitions it was like mother like son.
So, delay as he would and evade as he would, the truth had finally to be
told, the whole unqualified truth; he had given up this case that he had
thought so important, he had abandoned a fight that he had called the
greatest of his life.
"Why have you done it, my boy?" the old lady asked him gently, her
searching eyes fixed gravely on him. "Tell me--tell me everything."
And he did as she bade him, just as he used to when he was little; he told
her all that had happened from the crime to the capture, then of the
assassin's release and his own baffling failure at the very moment of
His mother listened with absorbed interest, she thrilled, she radiated, she
sympathized; and she shivered at the thought of such power for evil.
When he had finished, she lay silent, thinking it all over, not wishing to
speak hastily, while Paul stroked her white hand.
"And the young man?" she asked presently. "The one who is innocent? What
"He is in prison, he will be tried."
"And then? They have evidence against him, you said so--the footprints, the
pistol, perhaps more that this man can manufacture. Paul, he will be found
"I--I don't know."
"But you think so?"
"It's possible, mother, but--I've done all I can."
"He will be found guilty," she repeated, "this innocent young man will be
found guilty. You know it, and--you give up the case."
"That's unfair. I give up the case because your life is more precious to me
than the lives of fifty young men."
The old lady paused a moment, holding his firm hand in her two slender
ones, then she said sweetly, yet in half reproach: "My son, do you think
your life is less precious to me than mine is to you?"
"Why--why, no," he said.
"It isn't, but we can't shirk our burdens, Paul." She pointed simply to the
picture of a keen-eyed soldier over the fireplace, a brave, lovable face.
"If we are men we do our work; if we are women, we bear what comes. That is
how your father felt when he left me to--to--you understand, my boy?"
"I want you to decide in that spirit. If it's right to drop this case, I
shall be glad, but I don't want you to drop it because you are afraid--for
me, or--for anything."
"Listen, Paul; I know how you love me, but you mustn't put me first in this
matter, you must put your honor first, and the honor of your father's
"I've decided the thing"--he frowned--"it's all settled. I have sent word
by Tignol to the Brazilian embassy that I will accept that position in Rio
Janeiro. It's still open, and--mother," he went on eagerly, "I'm going to
take you with me."
Her face brightened under its beautiful crown of silver-white hair, but she
shook her head.
"I couldn't go, Paul; I could never bear that long sea journey, and I
should be unhappy away from these dear old mountains. If you go, you must
go alone. I don't say you mustn't go, I only ask you to think, _to think_."
"I have thought," he answered impatiently. "I've done nothing but think,
ever since Ernestine sent that telegram."
"You have thought about me," she chided. "Have you thought about the case?
Have you thought that, if you give it up, an innocent man will suffer and a
guilty man will go unpunished?"
"Hah! The guilty man! It's a jolly sure thing _he'll_ go unpunished,
whatever I do."
"I don't believe it," cried the old lady, springing forward excitedly in
her invalid's chair, "such wickedness _cannot_ go unpunished. No, my boy,
you can conquer, you _will_ conquer."
"I can't fight the whole of France," he retorted sharply. "You don't
understand this man's power, mother; I might as well try to conquer the
"I don't ask you to do that," she laughed, "but--isn't there _anything_ you
can think of? You've always won out in the past, and--what is this man's
intelligence to yours?" She paused and then went on more earnestly: "Paul,
I'm so proud of you, and--you _can't_ rest under this wrong that has been
done you. I want the Government to make amends for putting you off the
force. I want them to publicly recognize your splendid services. And they
will, my son, they must, if you will only go ahead now, and--there I'm
getting foolish." She brushed away some springing tears. "Come, we'll talk
of something else."
Nothing more was said about the case, but the seed was sown, and as the
evening passed, the wise old lady remarked that her son fell into moody
silences and strode about restlessly. And, knowing the signs, she left him
to his thoughts.
When bedtime came, Paul kissed her tenderly good night and then turned to
withdraw, but he paused at the door, and with a look that she remembered
well from the days of his boyhood transgressions, a look of mingled
frankness and shamefacedness, he came back to her bedside.
"Mother," he said, "I want to be perfectly honest about this thing; I told
you there is nothing that I could do against this man; as a matter of fact,
there is one thing that I could _possibly_ do. It's a long shot, with the
odds all against me, and, if I should fail, he would do me up, that's sure;
still, I must admit that I see a chance, one small chance of--landing him.
I thought I'd tell you because--well, I thought I'd tell you."
"My boy!" she cried. "My brave boy! I'm happy now. All I wanted was to have
you think this thing over alone, and--decide alone. Good night, Paul! God
bless you and--help you!"
"Good night, mother," he said fondly. "I will decide before to-morrow,
and--whatever I do, I--I'll remember what you say."
Then he went to his room and for hours through the night Ernestine,
watching by the patient, saw his light burning.
The next morning he came again to his mother's bedside with his old buoyant
smile, and after loving greetings, he said simply: "It's all right, little
mother, I see my way. I'm going to take the chance, and," he nodded
confidently, "between you and me, it isn't such a slim chance, either."
Coquenil's effort during the next month might be set forth in great detail.
It may also be told briefly, which is better, since the result rather than
the means is of moment.
The detective began by admitting the practical worthlessness of the
evidence in hand against this formidable adversary, and he abandoned, for
the moment, his purpose of proving that De Heidelmann-Bruck had killed
Martinez. Under the circumstances there was no way of proving it, for how
can the wheels of justice be made to turn against an individual who
absolutely controls the manner of their turning, who is able to remove
annoying magistrates with a snap of his fingers, and can use the full power
of government, the whole authority of the Prime Minister of France and the
Minister of Justice for his personal convenience and protection?
The case was so extraordinary and unprecedented that it could obviously be
met only (if at all) by extraordinary and unprecedented measures. Such
measures Coquenil proceeded to conceive and carry out, realizing fully
that, in so doing, he was taking his life in his hands. His first intuition
had come true, he was facing a great criminal and must either destroy or be
destroyed; it was to be a ruthless fight to a finish between Paul Coquenil
and the Baron de Heidelmann-Bruck.
And, true to his intuitions, as he had been from the start, M. Paul
resolved to seek the special and deadly arm that he needed against this
sinister enemy in the baron's immediate _entourage;_ in fact, in his own
house and home. That was the detective's task, to be received, unsuspected,
as an inmate of De Heidelmann-Bruck's great establishment on the Rue de
Varennes, the very center of the ancient nobility of Paris.
In this purpose he finally succeeded, after what wiles and pains need not
be stated, being hired at moderate wages as a stable helper, with a small
room over the carriage house, and miscellaneous duties that included much
drudgery in cleaning the baron's numerous automobiles. It may truthfully be
said that no more willing pair of arms ever rubbed and scrubbed their
The next thing was to gain the confidence, then the complicity of one of
the men servants in the _hotel_ itself, so that he might be given access to
the baron's private apartments at the opportune moment. In the horde of
hirelings about a great man there is always one whose ear is open to
temptation, and the baron's household was no exception to this rule.
Coquenil (known now as Jacques and looking the stable man to perfection)
found a dignified flunky in black side whiskers and white-silk stockings
who was not above accepting some hundred-franc notes in return for sure
information as to the master's absences from home and for necessary
assistance in the way of keys and other things.
Thus it came to pass that on a certain night in August, about two in the
morning, Paul Coquenil found himself alone in the baron's spacious, silent
library before a massive safe. The opening of this safe is another matter
that need not be gone into--a desperate case justifies desperate risk, and
an experienced burglar chaser naturally becomes a bit of a burglar
himself; at any rate, the safe swung open in due course, without accident
or interference, and the detective stood before it.
All this Coquenil had done on a chance, without positive knowledge, save
for the assurance of the black-whiskered valet that the baron wrote
frequently in a diary which he kept locked in the safe. Whether this was
true, and, if so, whether the baron had been mad enough to put down with
his own hand a record of his own wickedness, were matters of pure
conjecture. Coquenil was convinced that this journal would contain what he
wanted; he did not believe that a man like De Heidelmann-Bruck would keep a
diary simply to fill in with insipidities. If he kept it at all, it would
be because it pleased him to analyze, fearlessly, his own extraordinary
doings, good or bad. The very fact that the baron was different from
ordinary men, a law unto himself, made it likely that he would disregard
what ordinary men would call prudence in a matter like this; there is no
such word as imprudence for one who is practically all-powerful, and, if it
tickled the baron's fancy to keep a journal of crime, it was tolerably
certain he would keep it.
The event proved that he did keep it. On one of the shelves of the safe,
among valuable papers and securities, the detective found a thick book
bound in black leather and fastened with heavy gold clasps. It was the
With a thrill of triumph, Coquenil seized upon the volume, then, closing
the safe carefully, without touching anything else, he returned to his room
in the stable. His purpose was accomplished, and now he had only one
thought--to leave the _hotel_ as quickly as possible; it would be a matter
of a few moments to pack his modest belongings, then he could rouse the
doorkeeper and be off with his bag and the precious record.
As he started to act on this decision, however, and steal softly down to
the courtyard, the detective paused and looked at his watch. It was not yet
three o'clock, and M. Paul, in the real burglar spirit, reflected that his
departure with a bag, at this unseasonable hour, might arouse the
doorkeeper's suspicion; whereas, if he waited until half past five, the
gate would be open and he could go out unnoticed. So he decided to wait.
After all, there was no danger, the baron was away from Paris, and no one
would enter the library before seven or eight.
While he waited, Coquenil opened the diary and began to read. There were
some four hundred neatly written pages, brief separate entries without
dates, separate thoughts as it were, and, as he turned through them he
found himself more and more absorbed until, presently, he forgot time,
place, danger, everything; an hour passed, two hours, and still the
detective read on while his candle guttered down to the stick and the
brightening day filled his mean stable room; he was absolutely lost in a
most extraordinary human document, in one of those terrible utterances,
shameless and fearless, that are flung out, once in a century or so, from
the hot somber depths of a man's being.
I have kept this diary because it amuses me, because I am not
afraid, because my nature craves and demands some honest expression
somewhere. If these pages were read I should be destroyed. I
understand that, but I am in constant danger of being destroyed,
anyway. I might be killed by an automobile accident. A small artery
in my brain might snap. My heart might stop beating for various
reasons. And it is no more likely that this diary will be found
and read (with the precautions I have taken) than that one of these
other things will happen. Besides, I have no fear, since I regard
my own life and all other lives as of absolutely trifling
I say here to myself what thousands of serious and successful men
all over the world are saying to themselves, what the enormous
majority of men must say to themselves, that is, that I am (and
they are) constantly committing crimes and we are therefore
criminals. Some of us kill, some steal, some seduce virgins, some
take our friends' wives, but most of us, in one way or another,
deliberately and repeatedly break the law, so we are criminals.