The Hollow Needle
Part 1 out of 5
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THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
"ARSENE LUPIN," "THE BLONDE LADY," ETC.
TRANSLATED BY ALEXANDER TEIXEIRA DE MATTOS
I. The Shot
II. Isidore Beautrelet, Sixth-form Schoolboy
III. The Corpse
IV. Face to Face
V. On the Track
VI. An Historic Secret
VII. The Treatise of the Needle
VIII. From Caesar to Lupin
IX. Open, Sesame!
X. The Treasures of the Kings of France
Valmeras loved Raymonde's melancholy charm
She put the gun to her shoulder, calmly took aim and fired
Two huge letters, each perhaps a foot long, appeared cut in relief
in the granite of the floor
"We're going now. What do you think of my cockle-shell, Beautrelet?"
THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Raymonde listened. The noise was repeated twice over, clearly enough
to be distinguished from the medley of vague sounds that formed the
great silence of the night and yet too faintly to enable her to tell
whether it was near or far, within the walls of the big country-
house, or outside, among the murky recesses of the park.
She rose softly. Her window was half open: she flung it back wide.
The moonlight lay over a peaceful landscape of lawns and thickets,
against which the straggling ruins of the old abbey stood out in
tragic outlines, truncated columns, mutilated arches, fragments of
porches and shreds of flying buttresses. A light breeze hovered over
the face of things, gliding noiselessly through the bare motionless
branches of the trees, but shaking the tiny budding leaves of the
And, suddenly, she heard the same sound again. It was on the left
and on the floor below her, in the living rooms, therefore, that
occupied the left wing of the house. Brave and plucky though she
was, the girl felt afraid. She slipped on her dressing gown and took
A voice as low as a breath was calling to her from the next room,
the door of which had not been closed. She was feeling her way
there, when Suzanne, her cousin, came out of the room and fell into
"Raymonde--is that you? Did you hear--?"
"Yes. So you're not asleep?"
"I suppose the dog woke me--some time ago. But he's not barking now.
What time is it?"
"Listen! Surely, some one's walking in the drawing room!"
"There's no danger, your father is down there, Suzanne."
"But there is danger for him. His room is next to the boudoir."
"M. Daval is there too--"
"At the other end of the house. He could never hear."
They hesitated, not knowing what course to decide upon. Should they
call out? Cry for help? They dared not; they were frightened of the
sound of their own voices. But Suzanne, who had gone to the window,
suppressed a scream:
"Look!--A man!--Near the fountain!"
A man was walking away at a rapid pace. He carried under his arm a
fairly large load, the nature of which they were unable to
distinguish: it knocked against his leg and impeded his progress.
They saw him pass near the old chapel and turn toward a little door
in the wall. The door must have been open, for the man disappeared
suddenly from view and they failed to hear the usual grating of the
"He came from the drawing room," whispered Suzanne.
"No, the stairs and the hall would have brought him out more to the
The same idea struck them both. They leant out. Below them, a ladder
stood against the front of the house, resting on the first floor. A
glimmer lit up the stone balcony. And another man, who was also
carrying something, bestrode the baluster, slid down the ladder and
ran away by the same road as the first.
Suzanne, scared to the verge of swooning, fell on her knees,
"Let us call out--let us call for help--"
"Who would come? Your father--and if there are more of them left--
and they throw themselves upon him--?"
"Then--then--we might call the servants--Your bell rings on their
"Yes--yes--perhaps, that's better. If only they come in time!"
Raymonde felt for the electric push near her bed and pressed it with
her finger. They heard the bell ring upstairs and had an impression
that its shrill sound must also reach any one below.
They waited. The silence became terrifying and the very breeze no
longer shook the leaves of the shrubs.
"I'm frightened--frightened," said Suzanne.
And, suddenly, from the profound darkness below them, came the sound
of a struggle, a crash of furniture overturned, words, exclamations
and then, horrible and ominous, a hoarse groan, the gurgle of a man
who is being murdered--
Raymonde leapt toward the door. Suzanne clung desperately to her
"No--no--don't leave me--I'm frightened--"
Raymonde pushed her aside and darted down the corridor, followed by
Suzanne, who staggered from wall to wall, screaming as she went.
Raymonde reached the staircase, flew down the stairs, flung herself
upon the door of the big drawing room and stopped short, rooted to
the threshold, while Suzanne sank in a heap by her side. Facing
them, at three steps' distance, stood a man, with a lantern in his
hand. He turned it upon the two girls, blinding them with the light,
stared long at their pale faces, and then, without hurrying, with
the calmest movements in the world, took his cap, picked up a scrap
of paper and two bits of straw, removed some footmarks from the
carpet, went to the balcony, turned to the girls, made them a deep
bow and disappeared.
Suzanne was the first to run to the little boudoir which separated
the big drawing-room from her father's bedroom. But, at the
entrance, a hideous sight appalled her. By the slanting rays of the
moon, she saw two apparently lifeless bodies lying close to each
other on the floor. She leaned over one of them:
"Father!--Father!--Is it you? What has happened to you?" she cried,
After a moment, the Comte de Gesvres moved. In a broken voice, he
"Don't be afraid--I am not wounded--Daval?--Is he alive?--The
Two men-servants now arrived with candles. Raymonde flung herself
down before the other body and recognized Jean Daval, the count's
private secretary. A little stream of blood trickled from his neck.
His face already wore the pallor of death.
Then she rose, returned to the drawing room, took a gun that hung in
a trophy of arms on the wall and went out on the balcony. Not more
than fifty or sixty seconds had elapsed since the man had set his
foot on the top rung of the ladder. He could not, therefore, be very
far away, the more so as he had taken the precaution to remove the
ladder, in order to prevent the inmates of the house from using it.
And soon she saw him skirting the remains of the old cloister. She
put the gun to her shoulder, calmly took aim and fired. The man
"That's done it! That's done it!" said one of the servants. "We've
got this one. I'll run down."
"No, Victor, he's getting up.... You had better go down by the
staircase and make straight for the little door in the wall. That's
the only way he can escape."
Victor hurried off, but, before he reached the park, the man fell
down again. Raymonde called the other servant:
"Albert, do you see him down there? Near the main cloister?--"
"Yes, he's crawling in the grass. He's done for--"
"Watch him from here."
"There's no way of escape for him. On the right of the ruins is the
"And, Victor, do you guard the door, on the left," she said, taking
up her gun.
"But, surely, you are not going down, miss?"
"Yes, yes," she said, with a resolute accent and abrupt movements;
"let me be--I have a cartridge left--If he stirs--"
She went out. A moment later, Albert saw her going toward the ruins.
He called to her from the window:
"He's dragged himself behind the cloister. I can't see him. Be
Raymonde went round the old cloisters, to cut off the man's retreat,
and Albert soon lost sight of her. After a few minutes, as he did
not see her return, he became uneasy and, keeping his eye on the
ruins, instead of going down by the stairs he made an effort to
reach the ladder. When he had succeeded, he scrambled down and ran
straight to the cloisters near which he had seen the man last.
Thirty paces farther, he found Raymonde, who was searching with
"Well?" he asked.
"There's no laying one's hands on him," replied Victor.
"The little door?"
"I've been there; here's the key."
"Oh, we've got him safe enough, the scoundrel--He'll be ours in ten
The farmer and his son, awakened by the shot, now came from the farm
buildings, which were at some distance on the right, but within the
circuit of the walls. They had met no one.
"Of course not," said Albert. "The ruffian can't have left the
ruins--We'll dig him out of some hole or other."
They organized a methodical search, beating every bush, pulling
aside the heavy masses of ivy rolled round the shafts of the
columns. They made sure that the chapel was properly locked and that
none of the panes were broken. They went round the cloisters and
examined every nook and corner. The search was fruitless.
There was but one discovery: at the place where the man had fallen
under Raymonde's gun, they picked up a chauffeur's cap, in very soft
buff leather; besides that, nothing.
The gendarmerie of Ouville-la-Riviere were informed at six o'clock
in the morning and at once proceeded to the spot, after sending an
express to the authorities at Dieppe with a note describing the
circumstances of the crime, the imminent capture of the chief
criminal and "the discovery of his headgear and of the dagger with
which the crime had been committed."
At ten o'clock, two hired conveyances came down the gentle slope
that led to the house. One of them, an old-fashioned calash,
contained the deputy public prosecutor and the examining magistrate,
accompanied by his clerk. In the other, a humble fly, were seated
two reporters, representing the Journal de Rouen and a great Paris
The old chateau came into view--once the abbey residence of the
priors of Ambrumesy, mutilated under the Revolution, both restored
by the Comte de Gesvres, who had now owned it for some twenty years.
It consists of a main building, surmounted by a pinnacled clock-
tower, and two wings, each of which is surrounded by a flight of
steps with a stone balustrade. Looking across the walls of the park
and beyond the upland supported by the high Norman cliffs, you catch
a glimpse of the blue line of the Channel between the villages of
Sainte-Marguerite and Varengeville.
Here the Comte de Gesvres lived with his daughter Suzanne, a
delicate, fair-haired, pretty creature, and his niece Raymonde de
Saint-Veran, whom he had taken to live with him two years before,
when the simultaneous death of her father and mother left Raymonde
an orphan. Life at the chateau was peaceful and regular. A few
neighbors paid an occasional visit. In the summer, the count took
the two girls almost every day to Dieppe. He was a tall man, with a
handsome, serious face and hair that was turning gray. He was very
rich, managed his fortune himself and looked after his extensive
estates with the assistance of his secretary, Jean Daval.
Immediately upon his arrival, the examining magistrate took down the
first observations of Sergeant Quevillon of the gendarmes. The
capture of the criminal, imminent though it might be, had not yet
been effected, but every outlet of the park was held. Escape was
The little company next crossed the chapter-hall and the refectory,
both of which are on the ground floor, and went up to the first
story. They at once remarked the perfect order that prevailed in the
drawing room. Not a piece of furniture, not an ornament but appeared
to occupy its usual place; nor was there any gap among the ornaments
or furniture. On the right and left walls hung magnificent Flemish
tapestries with figures. On the panels of the wall facing the
windows were four fine canvases, in contemporary frames,
representing mythological scenes. These were the famous pictures by
Rubens which had been left to the Comte de Gesvres, together with
the Flemish tapestries, by his maternal uncle, the Marques de
Bobadilla, a Spanish grandee.
M. Filleul remarked:
"If the motive of the crime was theft, this drawing room, at any
rate, was not the object of it."
"You can't tell!" said the deputy, who spoke little, but who, when
he did, invariably opposed the magistrate's views.
"Why, my dear sir, the first thought of a burglar would be to carry
off those pictures and tapestries, which are universally renowned."
"Perhaps there was no time."
"We shall see."
At that moment, the Comte de Gesvres entered, accompanied by the
doctor. The count, who did not seem to feel the effects of the
attack to which he had been subjected, welcomed the two officials.
Then he opened the door of the boudoir.
This room, which no one had been allowed to enter since the
discovery of the crime, differed from the drawing room inasmuch as
it presented a scene of the greatest disorder. Two chairs were
overturned, one of the tables smashed to pieces and several objects-
-a traveling-clock, a portfolio, a box of stationery--lay on the
floor. And there was blood on some of the scattered pieces of note-
The doctor turned back the sheet that covered the corpse. Jean
Daval, dressed in his usual velvet suit, with a pair of nailed boots
on his feet, lay stretched on his back, with one arm folded beneath
him. His collar and tie had been removed and his shirt opened,
revealing a large wound in the chest.
"Death must have been instantaneous," declared the doctor. "One blow
of the knife was enough."
"It was, no doubt, the knife which I saw on the drawing-room
mantelpiece, next to a leather cap?" said the examining magistrate.
"Yes," said the Comte de Gesvres, "the knife was picked up here. It
comes from the same trophy in the drawing room from which my niece,
Mlle. de Saint-Veran, snatched the gun. As for the chauffeur's cap,
that evidently belongs to the murderer."
M. Filleul examined certain further details in the room, put a few
questions to the doctor and then asked M. de Gesvres to tell him
what he had seen and heard. The count worded his story as follows:
"Jean Daval woke me up. I had been sleeping badly, for that matter,
with gleams of consciousness in which I seemed to hear noises, when,
suddenly opening my eyes, I saw Daval standing at the foot of my
bed, with his candle in his hand and fully dressed--as he is now,
for he often worked late into the night. He seemed greatly excited
and said, in a low voice: 'There's some one in the drawing room.' I
heard a noise myself. I got up and softly pushed the door leading to
this boudoir. At the same moment, the door over there, which opens
into the big drawing room, was thrown back and a man appeared who
leaped at me and stunned me with a blow on the temple. I am telling
you this without any details, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, for
the simple reason that I remember only the principal facts, and that
these facts followed upon one another with extraordinary swiftness."
"And after that?--"
"After that, I don't know--I fainted. When I came to, Daval lay
stretched by my side, mortally wounded."
"At first sight, do you suspect no one?"
"You have no enemy?"
"I know of none."
"Nor M. Daval either?"
"Daval! An enemy? He was the best creature that ever lived. M. Daval
was my secretary for twenty years and, I may say, my confidant; and
I have never seen him surrounded with anything but love and
"Still, there has been a burglary and there has been a murder: there
must be a motive for all that."
"The motive? Why, it was robbery pure and simple."
"Robbery? Have you been robbed of something, then?"
"In that case--?"
"In that case, if they have stolen nothing and if nothing is
missing, they at least took something away."
"I don't know. But my daughter and my niece will tell you, with
absolute certainty, that they saw two men in succession cross the
park and that those two men were carrying fairly heavy loads."
"The young ladies--"
"The young ladies may have been dreaming, you think? I should be
tempted to believe it, for I have been exhausting myself in
inquiries and suppositions ever since this morning. However, it is
easy enough to question them."
The two cousins were sent for to the big drawing room. Suzanne,
still quite pale and trembling, could hardly speak. Raymonde, who
was more energetic, more of a man, better looking, too, with the
golden glint in her brown eyes, described the events of the night
and the part which she had played in them.
"So I may take it, mademoiselle, that your evidence is positive?"
"Absolutely. The men who went across the park were carrying things
away with them."
"And the third man?"
"He went from here empty-handed."
"Could you describe him to us?"
"He kept on dazzling us with the light of his lantern. All that I
could say is that he is tall and heavily built."
"Is that how he appeared to you, mademoiselle?" asked the
magistrate, turning to Suzanne de Gesvres.
"Yes--or, rather, no," said Suzanne, reflecting. "I thought he was
about the middle height and slender."
M. Filleul smiled; he was accustomed to differences of opinion and
sight in witnesses to one and the same fact:
"So we have to do, on the one hand, with a man, the one in the
drawing room, who is, at the same time, tall and short, stout and
thin, and, on the other, with two men, those in the park, who are
accused of removing from that drawing room objects--which are still
M. Filleul was a magistrate of the ironic school, as he himself
would say. He was also a very ambitious magistrate and one who did
not object to an audience nor to an occasion to display his tactful
resource in public, as was shown by the increasing number of persons
who now crowded into the room. The journalists had been joined by
the farmer and his son, the gardener and his wife, the indoor
servants of the chateau and the two cabmen who had driven the flies
M. Filleul continued:
"There is also the question of agreeing upon the way in which the
third person disappeared. Was this the gun you fired, mademoiselle,
and from this window?"
"Yes. The man reached the tombstone which is almost buried under the
brambles, to the left of the cloisters."
"But he got up again?"
"Only half. Victor ran down at once to guard the little door and I
followed him, leaving the second footman, Albert, to keep watch
Albert now gave his evidence and the magistrate concluded:
"So, according to you, the wounded man was not able to escape on the
left, because your fellow-servant was watching the door, nor on the
right, because you would have seen him cross the lawn. Logically,
therefore, he is, at the present moment, in the comparatively
restricted space that lies before our eyes."
"I am sure of it."
"And you, mademoiselle?"
"And I, too," said Victor.
The deputy prosecutor exclaimed, with a leer:
"The field of inquiry is quite narrow. We have only to continue the
search commenced four hours ago."
"We may be more fortunate."
M. Filleul took the leather cap from the mantel, examined it and,
beckoning to the sergeant of gendarmes, whispered:
"Sergeant, send one of your men to Dieppe at once. Tell him to go to
Maigret, the hatter, in the Rue de la Barre, and ask M. Maigret to
tell him, if possible, to whom this cap was sold."
The "field of inquiry," in the deputy's phrase, was limited to the
space contained between the house, the lawn on the right and the
angle formed by the left wall and the wall opposite the house, that
is to say, a quadrilateral of about a hundred yards each way, in
which the ruins of Ambrumesy, the famous mediaeval monastery, stood
out at intervals.
They at once noticed the traces left by the fugitive in the trampled
grass. In two places, marks of blackened blood, now almost dried up,
were observed. After the turn at the end of the cloisters, there was
nothing more to be seen, as the nature of the ground, here covered
with pine-needles, did not lend itself to the imprint of a body.
But, in that case, how had the wounded man succeeded in escaping the
eyes of Raymonde, Victor and Albert? There was nothing but a few
brakes, which the servants and the gendarmes had beaten over and
over again, and a number of tombstones, under which they had
explored. The examining magistrate made the gardener, who had the
key, open the chapel, a real gem of carving, a shrine in stone which
had been respected by time and the revolutionaries, and which, with
the delicate sculpture work of its porch and its miniature
population of statuettes, was always looked upon as a marvelous
specimen of the Norman-Gothic style. The chapel, which was very
simple in the interior, with no other ornament than its marble
altar, offered no hiding-place. Besides, the fugitive would have had
to obtain admission. And by what means?
The inspection brought them to the little door in the wall that
served as an entrance for the visitors to the ruins. It opened on a
sunk road running between the park wall and a copsewood containing
some abandoned quarries. M. Filleul stooped forward: the dust of the
road bore marks of anti-skid pneumatic tires. Raymonde and Victor
remembered that, after the shot, they had seemed to hear the throb
of a motor-car.
The magistrate suggested:
"The man must have joined his confederates."
"Impossible!" cried Victor. "I was here while mademoiselle and
Albert still had him in view."
"Nonsense, he must be somewhere! Outside or inside: we have no
"He is here," the servants insisted, obstinately.
The magistrate shrugged his shoulders and went back to the house in
a more or less sullen mood. There was no doubt that it was an
unpromising case. A theft in which nothing had been stolen; an
invisible prisoner: what could be less satisfactory?
It was late. M. de Gesvres asked the officials and the two
journalists to stay to lunch. They ate in silence and then M.
Filleul returned to the drawing room, where he questioned the
servants. But the sound of a horse's hoofs came from the courtyard
and, a moment after, the gendarme who had been sent to Dieppe
"Well, did you see the hatter?" exclaimed the magistrate, eager at
last to obtain some positive information.
"I saw M. Maigret. The cap was sold to a cab-driver."
"Yes, a driver who stopped his fly before the shop and asked to be
supplied with a yellow-leather chauffeur's cap for one of his
customers. This was the only one left. He paid for it, without
troubling about the size, and drove off. He was in a great hurry."
"What sort of fly was it?"
"And on what day did this happen?"
"On what day? Why, to-day, at eight o'clock this morning."
"This morning? What are you talking about?"
"The cap was bought this morning."
"But that's impossible, because it was found last night in the park.
If it was found there, it must have been there; and, consequently,
it must have been bought before."
"The hatter told me it was bought this morning."
There was a moment of general bewilderment. The nonplussed
magistrate strove to understand. Suddenly, he started, as though
struck with a gleam of light:
"Fetch the cabman who brought us here this morning! The man who
drove the calash! Fetch him at once!"
The sergeant of gendarmes and his subordinate ran off to the
stables. In a few minutes, the sergeant returned alone.
"Where's the cabman?"
"He asked for food in the kitchen, ate his lunch and then--"
"He went off."
"With his fly?"
"No. Pretending that he wanted to go and see a relation at Ouville,
he borrowed the groom's bicycle. Here are his hat and greatcoat."
"But did he leave bare-headed?"
"No, he took a cap from his pocket and put it on."
"Yes, a yellow leather cap, it seems."
"A yellow leather cap? Why, no, we've got it here!"
"That's true, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, but his is just like
The deputy sniggered:
"Very funny! Most amusing! There are two caps--One, the real one,
which constituted our only piece of evidence, has gone off on the
head of the sham flyman! The other, the false one, is in your hands.
Oh, the fellow has had us nicely!"
"Catch him! Fetch him back!" cried M. Filleul. "Two of your men on
horseback, Sergeant Quevillon, and at full speed!"
"He is far away by this time," said the deputy.
"He can be as far as he pleases, but still we must lay hold of him."
"I hope so; but I think, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that your
efforts should be concentrated here above all. Would you mind
reading this scrap of paper, which I have just found in the pocket
of the coat?"
And the deputy prosecutor handed M. Filleul a piece of paper, folded
in four, containing these few words written in pencil, in a more or
less common hand:
"Woe betide the young lady, if she has killed the governor!"
The incident caused a certain stir.
"A word to the wise!" muttered the deputy. "We are now forewarned."
"Monsieur le Comte," said the examining magistrate, "I beg you not
to be alarmed. Nor you either, mademoiselle. This threat is of no
importance, as the police are on the spot. We shall take every
precaution and I will answer for your safety. As for you, gentlemen.
I rely on your discretion. You have been present at this inquiry,
thanks to my excessive kindness toward the Press, and it would be
making me an ill return--"
He interrupted himself, as though an idea had struck him, looked at
the two young men, one after the other, and, going up to the first,
"What paper do you represent, sir?"
"The Journal de Rouen."
"Have you your credentials?"
The card was in order. There was no more to be said. M. Filleul
turned to the other reporter:
"And you, sir?"
"Yes, you: what paper do you belong to?"
"Why, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, I write for a number of
papers--all over the place--
"I haven't any."
"Oh! How is that?"
"For a newspaper to give you a card, you have to be on its regular
"Well, I am only an occasional contributor, a free-lance. I send
articles to this newspaper and that. They are published or declined
according to circumstances."
"In that case, what is your name? Where are your papers?"
"My name would tell you nothing. As for papers, I have none."
"You have no paper of any kind to prove your profession!"
"I have no profession."
"But look here, sir," cried the magistrate, with a certain asperity,
"you can't expect to preserve your incognito after introducing
yourself here by a trick and surprising the secrets of the police!"
"I beg to remark, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that you asked me
nothing when I came in, and that therefore I had nothing to say.
Besides, it never struck me that your inquiry was secret, when
everybody was admitted--including even one of the criminals!"
He spoke softly, in a tone of infinite politeness. He was quite a
young man, very tall, very slender and dressed without the least
attempt at fashion, in a jacket and trousers both too small for him.
He had a pink face like a girl's, a broad forehead topped with
close-cropped hair, and a scrubby and ill-trimmed fair beard. His
bright eyes gleamed with intelligence. He seemed not in the least
embarrassed and wore a pleasant smile, free from any shade of
M. Filleul looked at him with an aggressive air of distrust. The two
gendarmes came forward. The young man exclaimed, gaily:
"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, you clearly suspect me of being an
accomplice. But, if that were so, would I not have slipped away at
the right moment, following the example of my fellow-criminal?"
"You might have hoped--"
"Any hope would have been absurd. A moment's reflection, Monsieur le
Juge d'Instruction, will make you agree with me that, logically
M. Filleul looked him straight in the eyes and said, sharply:
"No more jokes! Your name?"
"Sixth-form pupil at the Lycee Janson-de-Sailly."
M. Filleul opened a pair of startled eyes.
"What are you talking about? Sixth-form pupil--"
"At the Lycee Janson, Rue de la Pompe, number--"
"Oh, look here," exclaimed M. Filleul, "you're trying to take me in!
This won't do, you know; a joke can go too far!"
"I must say, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that your astonishment
surprises me. What is there to prevent my being a sixth-form pupil
at the Lycee Janson? My beard, perhaps? Set your mind at ease: my
beard is false!"
Isidore Beautrelet pulled off the few curls that adorned his chin,
and his beardless face appeared still younger and pinker, a genuine
schoolboy's face. And, with a laugh like a child's, revealing his
"Are you convinced now?" he asked. "Do you want more proofs? Here,
you can read the address on these letters from my father: 'To
Monsieur Isidore Beautrelet, Indoor Pupil, Lycee Janson-de-Sailly.'"
Convinced or not, M. Filleul did not look as if he liked the story.
He asked, gruffly:
"What are you doing here?"
"Why--I'm--I'm improving my mind."
"There are schools for that: yours, for instance."
"You forget, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that this is the
twenty-third of April and that we are in the middle of the Easter
"Well, I have every right to spend my holidays as I please."
"My father lives at the other end of the country, in Savoy, and he
himself advised me to take a little trip on the North Coast."
"With a false beard?"
"Oh, no! That's my own idea. At school, we talk a great deal about
mysterious adventures; we read detective stories, in which people
disguise themselves; we imagine any amount of terrible and intricate
cases. So I thought I would amuse myself; and I put on this false
beard. Besides, I enjoyed the advantage of being taken seriously and
I pretended to be a Paris reporter. That is how, last night, after
an uneventful period of more than a week, I had the pleasure of
making the acquaintance of my Rouen colleague; and, this morning,
when he heard of the Ambrumesy murder, he very kindly suggested that
I should come with him and that we should share the cost of a fly."
Isidore Beautrelet said all this with a frank and artless simplicity
of which it was impossible not to feel the charm. M. Filleul
himself, though maintaining a distrustful reserve, took a certain
pleasure in listening to him. He asked him, in a less peevish tone:
"And are you satisfied with your expedition?"
"Delighted! All the more as I had never been present at a case of
the sort and I find that this one is not lacking in interest."
"Nor in that mysterious intricacy which you prize so highly--"
"And which is so stimulating, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction! I know
nothing more exciting than to see all the facts coming up out of the
shadow, clustering together, so to speak, and gradually forming the
"The probable truth! You go pretty fast, young man! Do you suggest
that you have your little solution of the riddle ready?"
"Oh, no!" replied Beautrelet, with a laugh.
"Only--it seems to me that there are certain points on which it is
not impossible to form an opinion; and others, even, are so precise
as to warrant--a conclusion."
"Oh, but this is becoming very curious and I shall get to know
something at last! For I confess, to my great confusion, that I know
"That is because you have not had time to reflect, Monsieur le Juge
d'Instruction. The great thing is to reflect. Facts very seldom fail
to carry their own explanation!"
"And, according to you, the facts which we have just ascertained
carry their own explanation?"
"Don't you think so yourself? In any case, I have ascertained none
besides those which are set down in the official report."
"Good! So that, if I were to ask you which were the objects stolen
from this room--"
"I should answer that I know."
"Bravo! My gentleman knows more about it than the owner himself. M.
de Gesvres has everything accounted for: M. Isidore Beautrelet has
not. He misses a bookcase in three sections and a life-size statue
which nobody ever noticed. And, if I asked you the name of the
"I should again answer that I know it."
All present gave a start. The deputy and the journalist drew nearer.
M. de Gesvres and the two girls, impressed by Beautrelet's tranquil
assurance, listened attentively.
"You know the murderer's name?"
"And the place where he is concealed, perhaps?"
M. Filleul rubbed his hands.
"What a piece of luck! This capture will do honor to my career. And
can you make me these startling revelations now?"
"Yes, now--or rather, if you do not mind, in an hour or two, when I
shall have assisted at your inquiry to the end."
"No, no, young man, here and now, please." At that moment Raymonde
de Saint-Veran, who had not taken her eyes from Isidore Beautrelet
since the beginning of this scene, came up to M. Filleul:
"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction--"
She hesitated for two or three seconds, with her eyes fixed on
Beautrelet, and then, addressing M. Filleul:
"I should like you to ask monsieur the reason why he was walking
yesterday in the sunk road which leads up to the little door."
It was an unexpected and dramatic stroke. Isidore Beautrelet
"I, mademoiselle? I? You saw me yesterday?"
Raymonde remained thoughtful, with her eyes upon Beautrelet, as
though she were trying to settle her own conviction, and then said,
in a steady voice:
"At four o'clock in the afternoon, as I was crossing the wood, I met
in the sunk road a young man of monsieur's height, dressed like him
and wearing a beard cut in the same way--and I received a very clear
impression that he was trying to hide."
"And it was I?"
"I could not say that as an absolute certainty, for my recollection
is a little vague. Still--still, I think so--if not, it would be an
M. Filleul was perplexed. Already taken in by one of the
confederates, was he now going to let himself be tricked by this
self-styled schoolboy? Certainly, the young man's manner spoke in
his favor; but one can never tell!
"What have you to say, sir?"
"That mademoiselle is mistaken, as I can easily show you with one
word. Yesterday, at the time stated, I was at Veules."
"You will have to prove it, you will have to. In any case, the
position is not what it was. Sergeant, one of your men will keep
Isidore Beautrelet's face denoted a keen vexation.
"Will it be for long?"
"Long enough to collect the necessary information."
"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, I beseech you to collect it with
all possible speed and discretion."
"My father is an old man. We are very much attached to each other--
and I would not have him suffer on my account."
The more or less pathetic note in his voice made a bad impression on
M. Filleul. It suggested a scene in a melodrama. Nevertheless, he
"This evening--or to-morrow at latest, I shall know what to think."
The afternoon was wearing on. The examining magistrate returned to
the ruins of the cloisters, after giving orders that no unauthorized
persons were to be admitted, and patiently, methodically, dividing
the ground into lots which were successively explored, himself
directed the search. But at the end of the day he was no farther
than at the start; and he declared, before an army of reporters who,
during that time, had invaded the chateau:
"Gentlemen, everything leads us to suppose that the wounded man is
here, within our reach; everything, that is, except the reality, the
fact. Therefore, in our humble opinion, he must have escaped and we
shall find him outside."
By way of precaution, however, he arranged, with the sergeant of
gendarmes, for a complete watch to be kept over the park and, after
making a fresh examination of the two drawing rooms, visiting the
whole of the chateau and surrounding himself with all the necessary
information, he took the road back to Dieppe, accompanied by the
Night fell. As the boudoir was to remain locked, Jean Daval's body
had been moved to another room. Two women from the neighborhood sat
up with it, assisted by Suzanne and Raymonde. Downstairs, young
Isidore Beautrelet slept on the bench in the old oratory, under the
watchful eye of the village policeman, who had been attached to his
person. Outside, the gendarmes, the farmer and a dozen peasants had
taken up their position among the ruins and along the walls.
All was still until eleven o'clock; but, at ten minutes past eleven,
a shot echoed from the other side of the house.
"Attention!" roared the sergeant. "Two men remain here: you,
Fossier--and you, Lecanu--The others at the double!"
They all rushed forward and ran round the house on the left. A
figure was seen to make away in the dark. Then, suddenly, a second
shot drew them farther on, almost to the borders of the farm. And,
all at once, as they arrived, in a band, at the hedge which lines
the orchard, a flame burst out, to the right of the farmhouse, and
other names also rose in a thick column. It was a barn burning,
stuffed to the ridge with straw.
"The scoundrels!" shouted the sergeant. "They've set fire to it.
Have at them, lads! They can't be far away!"
But the wind was turning the flames toward the main building; and it
became necessary, before all things, to ward off the danger. They
all exerted themselves with the greater ardor inasmuch as M. de
Gesvres, hurrying to the scene of the disaster, encouraged them with
the promise of a reward. By the time that they had mastered the
flames, it was two o'clock in the morning. All pursuit would have
"We'll look into it by daylight," said the sergeant. "They are sure
to have left traces: we shall find them."
"And I shall not be sorry," added M. de Gesvres, "to learn the
reason of this attack. To set fire to trusses of straw strikes me as
a very useless proceeding."
"Come with me, Monsieur le Comte: I may be able to tell you the
Together they reached the ruins of the cloisters. The sergeant
The other gendarmes were already hunting for their comrades whom
they had left standing sentry. They ended by finding them at a few
paces from the little door. The two men were lying full length on
the ground, bound and gagged, with bandages over their eyes.
"Monsieur le Comte," muttered the sergeant, while his men were being
released; "Monsieur le Comte, we have been tricked like children."
"The shots--the attack on the barn--the fire--all so much humbug to
get us down there--a diversion. During that time they were tying up
our two men and the business was done."
"Carrying off the wounded man, of course!"
"You don't mean to say you think--?"
"Think? Why, it's as plain as a pikestaff! The idea came to me ten
minutes ago--but I'm a fool not to have thought of it earlier. We
should have nabbed them all." Quevillon stamped his foot on the
ground, with a sudden attack of rage. "But where, confound it, where
did they go through? Which way did they carry him off? For, dash it
all, we beat the ground all day; and a man can't hide in a tuft of
grass, especially when he's wounded! It's witchcraft, that's what it
Nor was this the last surprise awaiting Sergeant Quevillon. At dawn,
when they entered the oratory which had been used as a cell for
young Isidore Beautrelet, they realized that young Isidore
Beautrelet had vanished.
On a chair slept the village policeman, bent in two. By his side
stood a water-bottle and two tumblers. At the bottom of one of those
tumblers a few grains of white powder.
On examination, it was proved, first, that young Isidore Beautrelet
had administered a sleeping draught to the village policeman;
secondly, that he could only have escaped by a window situated at a
height of seven or eight feet in the wall; and lastly--a charming
detail, this--that he could only have reached this window by using
the back of his warder as a footstool.
ISIDORE BEAUTRELET, SIXTH-FORM SCHOOLBOY
From the Grand Journal.
DOCTOR DELATTRE KIDNAPPED A MAD PIECE OF CRIMINAL DARING
At the moment of going to press, we have received an item of news
which we dare not guarantee as authentic, because of its very
improbable character. We print it, therefore, with all reserve.
Yesterday evening, Dr. Delattre, the well-known surgeon, was
present, with his wife and daughter, at the performance of Hernani
at the Comedie Francaise. At the commencement of the third act, that
is to say, at about ten o'clock, the door of his box opened and a
gentleman, accompanied by two others, leaned over to the doctor and
said to him, in a low voice, but loud enough for Mme. Delattre to
Doctor, I have a very painful task to fulfil and I shall be very
grateful to you if you will make it as easy for me as you can."
"Who are you, sir?"
"M. Thezard, commissary of police of the first district; and my
instructions are to take you to M. Dudouis, at the prefecture."
"Not a word, doctor, I entreat you, not a movement--There is some
regrettable mistake; and that is why we must act in silence and not
attract anybody's attention. You will be back, I have no doubt,
before the end of the performance."
The doctor rose and went with the commissary. At the end of the
performance, he had not returned. Mme. Delattre, greatly alarmed,
drove to the office of the commissary of police. There she found the
real M. Thezard and discovered, to her great terror, that the
individual who had carried off her husband was an impostor.
Inquiries made so far have revealed the fact that the doctor stepped
into a motor car and that the car drove off in the direction of the
Readers will find further details of this incredible adventure in
our second edition.
Incredible though it might be, the adventure was perfectly true.
Besides, the issue was not long delayed and the Grand Journal, while
confirming the story in its midday edition, described in a few lines
the dramatic ending with which it concluded:
ISIDORE BEAUTRELET THE STORY ENDS
Dr. Delattre was brought back to 78, Rue Duret, at nine o'clock this
morning, in a motor car which drove away immediately at full speed.
No. 78, Rue Duret, is the address of Dr. Delattre's clinical
surgery, at which he arrives every morning at the same hour. When we
sent in our card, the doctor, though closeted with the chief of the
detective service, was good enough to consent to receive us.
"All that I can tell you," he said, in reply to our questions, "is
that I was treated with the greatest consideration. My three
companions were the most charming people I have ever met,
exquisitely well-mannered and bright and witty talkers: a quality
not to be despised, in view of the length of the journey."
"How long did it take?"
"About four hours and as long returning."
"And what was the object of the journey?"
"I was taken to see a patient whose condition rendered an immediate
"And was the operation successful?"
"Yes, but the consequences may be dangerous. I would answer for the
patient here. Down there--under his present conditions--"
"Execrable!--A room in an inn--and the practically absolute
impossibility of being attended to."
"Then what can save him?"
"A miracle--and his constitution, which is an exceptionally strong
"And can you say nothing more about this strange patient?"
"No. In the first place, I have taken an oath; and, secondly, I have
received a present of ten thousand francs for my free surgery. If I
do not keep silence, this sum will be taken from me."
"You are joking! Do you believe that?"
"Indeed I do. The men all struck me as being very much in earnest."
This is the statement made to us by Dr. Delattre. And we know, on
the other hand, that the head of the detective service, in spite of
all his insisting, has not yet succeeded in extracting any more
precise particulars from him as to the operation which he performed,
the patient whom he attended or the district traversed by the car.
It is difficult, therefore, to arrive at the truth.
This truth, which the writer of the interview confessed himself
unable to discover, was guessed by the more or less clear-sighted
minds that perceived a connection with the facts which had occurred
the day before at the Chateau d'Ambrumesy, and which were reported,
down to the smallest detail, in all the newspapers of that day.
There was evidently a coincidence to be reckoned with in the
disappearance of a wounded burglar and the kidnapping of a famous
The judical inquiry, moreover, proved the correctness of the
hypothesis. By following the track of the sham flyman, who had fled
on a bicycle, they were able to show that he had reached the forest
of Arques, at some ten miles' distance, and that from there, after
throwing his bicycle into a ditch, he had gone to the village of
Saint-Nicolas, whence he had dispatched the following telegram:
A. L. N., Post-office 45, Paris. Situation desperate. Operation
urgently necessary. Send celebrity by national road fourteen.
The evidence was undeniable. Once apprised the accomplices in Paris
hastened to make their arrangements. At ten o'clock in the evening
they sent their celebrity by National Road No. 14, which skirts the
forest of Arques and ends at Dieppe. During this time, under cover
of the fire which they themselves had caused, the gang of burglars
carried off their leader and moved him to an inn, where the
operation took place on the arrival of the surgeon, at two o'clock
in the morning.
About that there was no doubt. At Pontoise, at Gournay, at Forges,
Chief-inspector Ganimard, who was sent specially from Paris, with
Inspector Folenfant, as his assistant, ascertained that a motor car
had passed in the course of the previous night. The same on the road
from Dieppe to Ambrumesy. And, though the traces of the car were
lost at about a mile and a half from the chateau, at least a number
of footmarks were seen between the little door in the park wall and
the abbey ruins. Besides, Ganimard remarked that the lock of the
little door had been forced.
So all was explained. It remained to decide which inn the doctor had
spoken of: an easy piece of work for a Ganimard, a professional
ferret, a patient old stager of the police. The number of inns is
limited and this one, given the condition of the wounded man, could
only be one quite close to Ambrumesy. Ganimard and Sergeant
Quevillon set to work. Within a circle of five hundred yards, of a
thousand yards, of fifteen hundred yards, they visited and ransacked
everything that could pass for an inn. But, against all expectation,
the dying man persisted in remaining invisible.
Ganimard became more resolved than ever. He came back to sleep at
the chateau, on the Saturday night, with the intention of making his
personal inquiry on the Sunday. On Sunday morning, he learned that,
during the night, a posse of gendarmes had seen a figure gliding
along the sunk road, outside the wall. Was it an accomplice who had
come back to investigate? Were they to suppose that the leader of
the gang had not left the cloisters or the neighborhood of the
That night, Ganimard openly sent the squad of gendarmes to the farm
and posted himself and Folenfant outside the walls, near the little
A little before midnight, a person passed out of the wood, slipped
between them, went through the door and entered the park. For three
hours, they saw him wander from side to side across the ruins,
stooping, climbing up the old pillars, sometimes remaining for long
minutes without moving. Then he went back to the door and again
passed between the two inspectors.
Ganimard caught him by the collar, while Folenfant seized him round
the body. He made no resistance of any kind and, with the greatest
docility, allowed them to bind his wrists and take him to the house.
But, when they attempted to question him, he replied simply that he
owed them no account of his doings and that he would wait for the
arrival of the examining magistrate. Thereupon, they fastened him
firmly to the foot of a bed, in one of the two adjoining rooms which
At nine o'clock on Monday morning, as soon as M. Filleul had
arrived, Ganimard announced the capture which he had made. The
prisoner was brought downstairs. It was Isidore Beautrelet.
"M. Isidore Beautrelet!" exclaimed M. Filleul with an air of
rapture, holding out both his hands to the newcomer. "What a
delightful surprise! Our excellent amateur detective here! And at
our disposal too! Why, it's a windfall!--M. Chief-inspector, allow
me to introduce to you M. Isidore Beautrelet, a sixth-form pupil at
the Lycee Janson-de-Sailly."
Ganimard seemed a little nonplussed. Isidore made him a very low
bow, as though he were greeting a colleague whom he knew how to
esteem at his true value, and, turning to M. Filleul:
"It appears, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that you have received
a satisfactory account of me?"
"Perfectly satisfactory! To begin with, you were really at Veules-
les-Roses at the time when Mlle. de Saint-Veran thought she saw you
in the sunk road. I dare say we shall discover the identity of your
double. In the second place, you are in very deed Isidore
Beautrelet, a sixth-form pupil and, what is more, an excellent
pupil, industrious at your work and of exemplary behavior. As your
father lives in the country, you go out once a month to his
correspondent, M. Bernod, who is lavish in his praises of you."
"So that you are free, M. Isidore Beautrelet."
"Absolutely. Oh, I must make just one little condition, all the
same. You can understand that I can't release a gentleman who
administers sleeping-draughts, who escapes by the window and who is
afterward caught in the act of trespassing upon private property. I
can't release him without a compensation of some kind."
"I await your pleasure."
"Well, we will resume our interrupted conversation and you shall
tell me how far you have advanced with your investigations. In two
days of liberty, you must have carried them pretty far?" And, as
Ganimard was preparing to go, with an affectation of contempt for
that sort of practice, the magistrate cried, "Not at all, M.
Inspector, your place is here--I assure you that M. Isidore
Beautrelet is worth listening to. M. Isidore Beautrelet, according
to my information, has made a great reputation at the Lycee Janson-
de-Sailly as an observer whom nothing escapes; and his
schoolfellows, I hear, look upon him as your competitor and a rival
of Holmlock Shears!"
"Indeed!" said Ganimard, ironically.
"Just so. One of them wrote to me, 'If Beautrelet declares that he
knows, you must believe him; and, whatever he says, you may be sure
that it is the exact expression of the truth.' M. Isidore
Beautrelet, now or never is the time to vindicate the confidence of
your friends. I beseech you, give us the exact expression of the
Isidore listened with a smile and replied:
"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, you are very cruel. You make fun of
poor schoolboys who amuse themselves as best they can. You are quite
right, however, and I will give you no further reason to laugh at
"The fact is that you know nothing, M. Isidore Beautrelet."
"Yes, I confess in all humility that I know nothing. For I do not
call it 'knowing anything' that I happen to have hit upon two or
three more precise points which, I am sure, cannot have escaped
"For instance, the object of the theft."
"Ah, of course, you know the object of the theft?"
"As you do, I have no doubt. In fact, it was the first thing I
studied, because the task struck me as easier."
"Why, of course. At the most, it's a question of reasoning."
"Nothing more than that?"
"And what is your reasoning?"
"It is just this, stripped of all extraneous comment: on the one
hand, THERE HAS BEEN A THEFT, because the two young ladies are
agreed and because they really saw two men running away and carrying
things with them."
"There has been a theft."
"On the other hand, NOTHING HAS DISAPPEARED, because M. de Gesvres
says so and he is in a better position than anybody to know."
"Nothing has disappeared."
"From those two premises I arrive at this inevitable result: granted
that there has been a theft and that nothing has disappeared, it is
because the object carried off has been replaced by an exactly
similar object. Let me hasten to add that possibly my argument may
not be confirmed by the facts. But I maintain that it is the first
argument that ought to occur to us and that we are not entitled to
waive it until we have made a serious examination."
'That's true--that's true," muttered the magistrate, who was
"Now," continued Isidore, "what was there in this room that could
arouse the covetousness of the burglars? Two things. The tapestry
first. It can't have been that. Old tapestry cannot be imitated: the
fraud would have been palpable at once. There remain the four Rubens
"What's that you say?"
"I say that the four Rubenses on that wall are false."
"They are false a priori, inevitably and without a doubt."
"I tell you, it's impossible."
"It is very nearly a year ago, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, since
a young man, who gave his name as Charpenais, came to the Chateau
d'Ambrumesy and asked permission to copy the Rubens pictures. M. de
Gesvres gave him permission. Every day for five months Charpenais
worked in this room from morning till dusk. The copies which he
made, canvases and frames, have taken the place of the four original
pictures bequeathed to M. de Gesvres by his uncle, the Marques de
"I have no proof to give. A picture is false because it is false;
and I consider that it is not even necessary to examine these four."
M. Filleul and Ganimard exchanged glances of unconcealed
astonishment. The inspector no longer thought of withdrawing. At
last, the magistrate muttered:
"We must have M. de Gesvres's opinion."
And Ganimard agreed:
"Yes, we must have his opinion."
And they sent to beg the count to come to the drawing room.
The young sixth-form pupil had won a real victory. To compel two
experts, two professionals like M. Filleul and Ganimard to take
account of his surmises implied a testimony of respect of which any
other would have been proud. But Beautrelet seemed not to feel those
little satisfactions of self-conceit and, still smiling without the
least trace of irony, he placidly waited.
M. de Gesvres entered the room.
"Monsieur le Comte," said the magistrate, "the result of our inquiry
has brought us face to face with an utterly unexpected contingency,
which we submit to you with all reserve. It is possible--I say that
it is possible--that the burglars, when breaking into the house, had
it as their object to steal your four pictures by Rubens--or, at
least, to replace them by four copies--copies which are said to have
been made last year by a painter called Charpenais. Would you be so
good as to examine the pictures and to tell us if you recognize them
The count appeared to suppress a movement of annoyance, looked at
Isidore Beautrelet and at M. Filleul and replied, without even
troubling to go near the pictures:
"I hoped, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, that the truth might have
remained unknown. As this is not so, I have no hesitation in
declaring that the four pictures are false."
"You knew it, then?"
"From the beginning."
"Why didn't you say so?"
"The owner of a work is never in a hurry to declare that that work
is not--or, rather, is no longer genuine."
"Still, it was the only means of recovering them."
"I consider that there was another and a better."
"Which was that?"
"Not to make the secret known, not to frighten my burglars and to
offer to buy back the pictures, which they must find more or less
difficult to dispose of."
"How would you communicate with them?"
As the count did not reply, Isidore answered for him:
"By means of an advertisement in the papers. The paragraph inserted
in the agony column of the Journal, the Echo de Paris and the Matin
runs, 'Am prepared to buy back the pictures.'"
The count agreed with a nod. Once again, the young man was teaching
his elders. M. Filleul showed himself a good sportsman.
"There's no doubt about it, my dear sir," he exclaimed. "I'm
beginning to think your school-fellows were not quite wrong. By
Jove, what an eye! What intuition! If this goes on, there will be
nothing left for M. Ganimard and me to do."
"Oh, none of this part was so very complicated!'
"You mean to say that the rest was more so I remember, in fact,
that, when we first met you seemed to know all about it. Let me see,
a far as I recollect, you said that you knew the name of the
"So I do."
"Well, then, who killed Jean Daval? Is the man alive? Where is he
"There is a misunderstanding between us, Monsieur le Juge
d'Instruction, or, rather, you have misunderstood the facts from the
beginning The murderer and the runaway are two distinct persons."
"What's that?" exclaimed M. Filleul. "The man whom M. de Gesvres saw
in the boudoir and struggled with, the man whom the young ladies saw
in the drawing-room and whom Mlle. de Saint-Veran shot at, the man
who fell in the park and whom we are looking for: do you suggest
that he is not the man who killed Jean Daval?"
"Have you discovered the traces of a third accomplice who
disappeared before the arrival of the young ladies?"
"I have not."
"In that case, I don't understand.--Well, who is the murderer of
"Jean Daval was killed by--"
Beautrelet interrupted himself, thought for a moment and continued:
"But I must first show you the road which I followed to arrive at
the certainty and the very reasons of the murder--without which my
accusation would seem monstrous to you.--And it is not--no, it is
not monstrous at all.--There is one detail which has passed
unobserved and which, nevertheless, is of the greatest importance;
and that is that Jean Daval, at the moment when he was stabbed, had
all his clothes on, including his walking boots, was dressed, in
short, as a man is dressed in the middle of the day, with a
waistcoat, collar, tie and braces. Now the crime was committed at
four o'clock in the morning."
"I reflected on that strange fact," said the magistrate, "and M. de
Gesvres replied that Jean Daval spent a part of his nights in
"The servants say, on the contrary, that he went to bed regularly at
a very early hour. But, admitting that he was up, why did he
disarrange his bedclothes, to make believe that he had gone to bed?
And, if he was in bed, why, when he heard a noise, did he take the
trouble to dress himself from head to foot, instead of slipping on
anything that came to hand? I went to his room on the first day,
while you were at lunch: his slippers were at the foot of the bed.
What prevented him from putting them on rather than his heavy nailed
"So far, I do not see--"
"So far, in fact, you cannot see anything, except anomalies. They
appeared much more suspicious to me, however, when I learned that
Charpenais the painter, the man who copied the Rubens pictures, had
been introduced and recommended to the Comte de Gesvres by Jean
"Well, from that to the conclusion that Jean Daval and Charpenais
were accomplices required but a step. I took that step at the time
of our conversation."
"A little quickly, I think."
"As a matter of fact, a material proof was wanted. Now I had
discovered in Daval's room, on one of the sheets of the blotting-pad
on which he used to write, this address: 'Monsieur A.L.N., Post-
office 45, Paris.' You will find it there still, traced the reverse
way on the blotting-paper. The next day, it was discovered that the
telegram sent by the sham flyman from Saint-Nicolas bore the same
address: 'A.L.N., Post-office 45.' The material proof existed: Jean
Daval was in correspondence with the gang which arranged the robbery
of the pictures."
M. Filleul raised no objection.
"Agreed. The complicity is established. And what conclusion do you
"This, first of all, that it was not the runaway who killed Jean
Daval, because Jean Daval was his accomplice."
"And after that?"
"Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, I will ask you to remember the
first sentence uttered by Monsieur le Comte when he recovered from
fainting. The sentence forms part of Mlle. de Gesvres' evidence and
is in the official report: 'I am not wounded.--Daval?--Is he alive?-
-The knife?' And I will ask you to compare it with that part of his
story, also in the report, in which Monsieur le Comte describes the
assault: 'The man leaped at me and felled me with a blow on the
temple!' How could M. de Gesvres. who had fainted, know, on waking,
that Daval had been stabbed with a knife?"
Isidore Beautrelet did not wait for an answer to his question. It
seemed as though he were in a hurry to give the answer himself and
to avoid all comment. He continued straightway:
"Therefore it was Jean Daval who brought the three burglars to the
drawing room. While he was there with the one whom they call their
chief, a noise was heard in the boudoir. Daval opened the door.
Recognizing M. de Gesvres, he rushed at him, armed with the knife.
M. de Gesvres succeeded in snatching the knife from him, struck him
with it and himself fell, on receiving a blow from the man whom the
two girls were to see a few minutes after."
Once again, M. Filleul and the inspector exchanged glances. Ganimard
tossed his head in a disconcerted way. The magistrate said:
"Monsieur le Comte, am I to believe that this version is correct?"
M. de Gesvres made no answer.
"Come, Monsieur le Comte, your silence would us to suppose--I beg
you to speak."
Replying in a very clear voice, M. de Gesvres said:
"The version is correct in every particular."
The magistrate gave a start.
"Then I cannot understand why you misled the police. Why conceal an
act which you were lawfully entitled to commit in defense of your
"For twenty years," said M. de Gesvres, "Daval worked by my side. I
trusted him. If he betrayed me, as the result of some temptation or
other, I was, at least, unwilling, for the sake of the past, that
his treachery should become known."
"You were unwilling, I agree, but you had no right to be."
"I am not of your opinion, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction. As long
as no innocent person was accused of the crime, I was absolutely
entitled to refrain from accusing the man who was at the same time
the culprit and the victim. He is dead. I consider death a
"But now, Monsieur le Comte, now that the truth is known, you can
"Yes. Here are two rough drafts of letters written by him to his
accomplices. I took them from his pocket-book, a few minutes after
"And the motive of his theft?"
"Go to 18, Rue de la Barre, at Dieppe, which is the address of a
certain Mme. Verdier. It was for this woman, whom he got to know two
years ago, and to supply her constant need of money that Daval
So everything was cleared up. The tragedy rose out of the darkness
and gradually appeared in its true light.
"Let us go on," said M. Filluel after the count had withdrawn.
"Upon my word," said Beautrelet, gaily, "I have said almost all that
I had to say."
"But the runaway, the wounded man?"
"As to that, Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction, you know as much as I
do. You have followed his tracks in the grass by the cloisters--you
"Yes, yes, I know. But, since then, his friends have removed him and
what I want is a clue or two as regards that inn--"
Isidore Beautrelet burst out laughing:
"The inn! The inn does not exist! It's an invention, a trick to put
the police on the wrong scent, an ingenious trick, too, for it seems
to have succeeded."
"But Dr. Delattre declares--"
"Ah, that's just it!" cried Beautrelet, in a tone of conviction. "It
is just because Dr. Delattre declares that we mustn't believe him.
Why, Dr. Delattre refused to give any but the vaguest details
concerning his adventure! He refused to say anything that might
compromise his patient's safety!--And suddenly he calls attention to
an inn!--You may be sure that he talked about that inn because he
was told to. You may be sure that the whole story which he dished up
to us was dictated to him under the threat of terrible reprisals.
The doctor has a wife. The doctor has a daughter. He is too fond of
them to disobey people of whose formidable power he has seen proofs.
And that is why he has assisted your efforts by supplying the most
"So precise that the inn is nowhere to be found."
"So precise that you have never ceased looking for it, in the face
of all probability, and that your eyes have been turned away from
the only spot where the man can be, the mysterious spot which he has
not left, which he has been unable to leave ever since the moment
when, wounded by Mlle. de Saint-Veran, he succeeded in dragging
himself to it, like a beast to its lair."
"But where, confound it all?--In what corner of Hades--?"
"In the ruins of the old abbey."
"But there are no ruins left!--A few bits of wall!--A few broken
"That's where he's gone to earth. Monsieur le Juge d'Instruction!"
shouted Beautrelet. "That's where you will have to look for him!
It's there and nowhere else that you will find Arsene Lupin!"
"Arsene Lupin!" yelled M. Filleul, springing to his feet.
There was a rather solemn pause, amid which the syllables of the
famous name seemed to prolong their sound. Was it possible that the
vanquished and yet invisible adversary, whom they had been hunting
in vain for several days, could really be Arsene Lupin? Arsene
Lupin, caught in a trap, arrested, meant immediate promotion,
fortune, glory to any examining magistrate!
Ganimard had not moved a limb. Isidore said to him:
"You agree with me, do you not, M. Inspector?"
"Of course I do!"
"You have not doubted either, for a moment have you, that he managed
"Not for a second! The thing bears his signature. A move of Arsene
Lupin's is as different from a move made by another man as one face
is from another. You have only to open your eyes."
"Do you think so? Do you think so?" said M. Filleul.
"Think so!" cried the young man. "Look, here's one little fact: what
are the initials under which those men correspond among themselves?
'A. L. N.,' that is to say, the first letter of the name Arsene and
the first and last letters of the name Lupin."
"Ah," said Ganimard, "nothing escapes you! Upon my word, you're a
fine fellow and old Ganimard lays down his arms before you!"
Beautrelet flushed with pleasure and pressed the hand which the
chief-inspector held out to him. The three men had drawn near the
balcony and their eyes now took in the extent of the ruins. M.
"So he ought to be there."
"HE IS THERE," said Beautrelet, in a hollow voice. "He has been
there ever since the moment when he fell. Logically and practically,
he could not escape without being seen by Mile, de Saint-Veran and
the two servants."
"What proof have you?"
"His accomplices have furnished the proof. On the very morning, one
of them disguised himself as a flyman and drove you here--"
"To recover the cap, which would serve to identify him."
"Very well, but also and more particularly to examine the spot, find
out and see for himself what had become of the 'governor.'"
"And did he find out?"
"I presume so, as he knew the hiding-place. And I presume that he
became aware of the desperate condition of his chief, because, under
the impulse of his alarm, he committed the imprudence to write that
threat: 'Woe betide the young lady, if she has killed the
"But his friends were able to take him away afterward?"
"When? Your men have never left the ruins. And where could they have
moved him to? At most, a few hundred yards away, for one doesn't let
a dying man travel--and then you would have found him. No, I tell
you, he is there. His friends would never have removed him from the
safest of hiding-places. It was there that they brought the doctor,
while the gendarmes were running to the fire like children."
"But how is he living? How will he keep alive? To keep alive you
need food and drink."
"I can't say. I don't know. But he is there, I will swear it. He is
there, because he can't help being there. I am as sure of it as if I
saw as if I touched him. He is there."
With his finger outstretched toward the ruins, he traced in the air
a little circle which became smaller and smaller until it was only a
point. And that point his two companions sought desperately, both
leaning into space, both moved by the same faith in Beautrelet and
quivering with the ardent conviction which he had forced upon them.
Yes, Arsene Lupin was there. In theory and in fact, he was there:
neither of them was now able to doubt it.
And there was something impressive and tragic in knowing that the
famous adventurer was lying in some dark shelter, below the ground,
helpless, feverish and exhausted.
"And if he dies?" asked M. Filleul, in a low voice.
"If he dies," said Beautrelet. "and if his accomplices are sure of
it, then see to the safety of Mlle. de Saint-Veran. Monsieur le Juge
d'Instruction, for the vengeance will be terrible."
A few minutes later and in spite of the entreaties of M. Filleul,
who would gladly have made further use of this fascinating
auxiliary, Isidore Beautrelet, whose holidays ended that day, went
off by the Dieppe Road. He stepped from the train in Paris at five
o'clock and, at eight o'clock, returned to the Lycee Janson together
with his schoolfellows.
Ganimard, after a minute, but utterly useless exploration of the
ruins of Ambrumesy, returned to Paris by the fast night-train. On
reaching his apartment in the Rue Pergolese, he found an express
letter awaiting him:
Monsieur l'Inspecteur Principal:
Finding that I had a little time to spare at the end of the day, I
have succeeded in collecting a few additional particulars which are
sure to interest you.
Arsene Lupin has been living in Paris for twelve months under the
name of Etienne de Vaudreix. It is a name which you will often come
across in the society notes or the sporting columns of the
newspapers. He is a great traveler and is absent for long periods,
during which, by his own account, he goes hunting tigers in Bengal
or blue foxes in Siberia. He is supposed to be in business of some
kind, although nobody is able to say for certain what his business
His present address is 38, Rue Marbeuf; and I will call your
attention to the fact that the Rue Marbeuf is close to Post-office
Number 45. Since Thursday the twenty-third of April, the day before
the burglary at Ambrumesy, there has been no news at all of Etienne
With very many thanks for the kindness which you have shown me,
believe me to be, Monsieur l'Inspecteur Principal. Yours sincerely,
P.S.--Please on no account think that it cost me any great trouble
to obtain this information. On the very morning of the crime, while
M. Filleul was pursuing his examination before a few privileged
persons, I had the fortunate inspiration to glance at the runaway's
cap, before the sham flyman came to change it. The hatter's name was
enough, as you may imagine, to enable me to find the clue that led
to the identification of the purchaser and his address.
The next morning, Ganimard called at 36, Rue Marbeuf. After
questioning the concierge, he made him open the door of the ground-
floor flat on the right, a very comfortable apartment, elegantly
furnished, in which, however, he discovered nothing beyond some
cinders in the fireplace. Two friends had come, four days earlier,
to burn all compromising papers.
But, just as he was leaving, Ganimard passed the postman, who was
bringing a letter for M. de Vaudreix. That afternoon, the public
prosecutor was informed of the case and ordered the letter to be
given up. It bore an American postmark and contained the following
lines, in English:
I write to confirm the answer which I gave your representative. As
soon as you have M. de Gesvres's four pictures in your possession,
you can forward them as arranged.
You may add the rest, if you are able to succeed, which I doubt.
An unexpected business requires my presence in Europe and I shall
reach Paris at the same time as this letter. You will find me at the
EPHRAIM B. HARLINGTON.
That same day, Ganimard applied for a warrant and took Mr. E. B.
Harlington, an American citizen, to the police-station, on a charge
of receiving and conspiracy.
Thus, within the space of twenty-four hours, all the threads of the
plot had been unraveled, thanks to the really unforeseen clues
supplied by a schoolboy of seventeen. In twenty-four hours, what had
seemed inexplicable became simple and clear. In twenty-four hours,
the scheme devised by the accomplices to save their leader was
baffled; the capture of Arsene Lupin, wounded and dying, was no
longer in doubt, his gang was disorganized, the address of his
establishment in Paris and the name which he assumed were known and,
for the first time, one of his cleverest and most carefully
elaborated feats was seen through before he had been able to ensure
its complete execution.
An immense clamor of astonishment, admiration and curiosity arose
among the public. Already, the Rouen journalist, in a very able
article, had described the first examination of the sixth-form
pupil, laying stress upon his personal charm, his simplicity of
manner and his quiet assurance. The indiscretions of Ganimard and M.
Filleul, indiscretions to which they yielded in spite of themselves,
under an impulse that proved stronger than their professional pride,
suddenly enlightened the public as to the part played by Isidore
Beautrelet in recent events. He alone had done everything. To him
alone the merit of the victory was due.
The excitement was intense. Isidore Beautrelet awoke to find himself
a hero; and the crowd, suddenly infatuated, insisted upon the
fullest information regarding its new favorite. The reporters were
there to supply it. They rushed to the assault of the Lycee Janson-
de-Sailly, waited for the day-boarders to come out after schoolhours
and picked up all that related, however remotely, to Beautrelet. It
was in this way that they learned the reputation which he enjoyed
among his schoolfellows, who called him the rival of Holmlock
Shears. Thanks to his powers of logical reasoning, with no further
data than those which he was able to gather from the papers, he had,
time after time, proclaimed the solution of very complicated cases
long before they were cleared up by the police.
It had become a game at the Lycee Janson to put difficult questions
and intricate problems to Beautrelet; and it was astonishing to see
with what unhesitating and analytical power and by means of what
ingenious deductions he made his way through the thickest darkness.
Ten days before the arrest of Jorisse, the grocer, he showed what
could be done with the famous umbrella. In the same way, he declared
from the beginning, in the matter of the Saint-Cloud mystery, that
the concierge was the only possible murderer.
But most curious of all was the pamphlet which was found circulating
among the boys at the school, a typewritten pamphlet signed by
Beautrelet and manifolded to the number of ten copies. It was
entitled, ARSENE LUPIN AND HIS METHOD, SHOWING IN HOW FAR THE LATTER
IS BASED UPON TRADITION AND IN HOW FAR ORIGINAL. FOLLOWED BY A
COMPARISON BETWEEN ENGLISH HUMOR AND FRENCH IRONY.
It contained a profound study of each of the exploits of Arsene
Lupin, throwing the illustrious burglar's operations into
extraordinary relief, showing the very mechanism of his way of
setting to work, his special tactics, his letters to the press, his
threats, the announcement of his thefts, in short, the whole bag of
tricks which he employed to bamboozle his selected victim and throw
him into such a state of mind that the victim almost offered himself
to the plot contrived against him and that everything took place, as
it were, with his own consent.
And the work was so just, regarded as a piece of criticism, so
penetrating, so lively and marked by a wit so clever and, at the
same time, so cruel that the lawyers at once passed over to his
side, that the sympathy of the crowd was summarily transferred from
Lupin to Beautrelet and that, in the struggle engaged upon between
the two, the schoolboy's victory was loudly proclaimed in advance.
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